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Isle of Man - History

The scanty details of the early history of the Isle of Man must be looked for in that of the surrounding countries, and in the Norse Sagas. It appeaer most probable that it was first colonized by roving Gaelic and Celtic tribes, and subsequently by the Welsh, between the languages of the former and the Manks there appears only a mere dialectic difference. So highly were the Monks Druids distinguished for their knowledge of astronomy, astrology, and natural philosophy, that the kings of Scotland sent their sons to be educated by them. About the year 76, Dothan, the eleventh king of Scotland, left his three sons to be educated by the Druids in the Isle of Man.

The Western Islands of Britain were divided into two groups: the most northern were called in Norse and Gaelic, “N0rdereyar” and “Norderoer;” and the southern group, comprising Colonsay, Oransay, Jura, Islay, Arran, Bute, the Cumbr Islands, the peninsula of Cantyre, and Man, were contradistinctively designated the “ Sudreyar,” the “ Suderoer," or Southern Islands. The “ Sudreyar” constituted the first diocese, for soon after the year 206, Crathlint, king of Scotland, overthrew several 'Druidical temples, and appointed Amphibalus the first bishop. He erected a church in Man, and designated it “Sodorensis Tanum,” or the “ Temple of the Southern Islands.

In the year 503 the Island was subjugated by the Scots. In 517 Maelgwyn, King of North Wales, who pmved a formidable foe to the Saxons in England and the Scots in Man, arrived, and with the assistance of his uncle, the renowned King Arthur, successfully expelled the Scots, and annexed the Island to his Welsh dominions. In 943 Mervyn was slain in the battle of Kettle, by Bethred, King of Mercia; and was succeeded by his son Rodri Maur, or Roderick the Great, who possessed the most extensive sovereignty of any of the Welsh princes, embracing the whole provinces of Cambria, Powysland, and the Isle of Man.

Harold Harfargra, the son of Halfdan Ivart the Black, the most powerful of the Norse Vikings, overran and subjugated the whole of the Western Isles and Man. He appointed the jarl Ketil Flatnefr or Flatnose, lieutenant of Man and the Isles, who afterwards threw of his allegiance and assumed the sovereignty. He soon afterwards died, and was succeeded by his sons Helgi and Thorstein the Red, the last of whom died in 891. The Kings of Man at this period either died or were deposed in rapid succession, and history is defective both as to their names and dates of accession.

In 1114 the Norwegians made a fruitless attempt to regain the sovereignty of the Isles, under Ingemund, who, after a brief reign, with all his followers, were totally destroyed by fire and sword. Having found that the internal distractions of the Isles had long exposed them to the inroads of military adventurers, and fearing a recurrence of these disasters, the chiefs agreed to call Olave II. surnamed Kleining, who had attained his majority, to the throne of his father. He prudently secured peace to his dominions by entering into alliance with the kings of England and Ireland, and by contracting a marriage with Alfrida, daughter of Fergus, lord of Galloway, and grand-daughter of Henry I. of England.

In 1187, Reginald, in order to hold his dignity with the greater security, did homage to John, king of England, for which he received yearly a knight’s fee of two tuns of wine and one hundred and twenty quarters of corn. Not satisfied with the protection of the King of England, he, in 1219, surrendered his dominions to the Pope, in order to hold his crown from the see of Rome, paying annually the sum of twelve marks to the abbey of Fumess. All these efforts were, however, unavailing in securing to him peaceable possession of his throne. In 1224, Olave, having succeeded in raising an army, landed in Man, and Reginald, afraid to hazard a. battle, ceded to him one half of the kingdom; and in 1226, the inhabitants, tired of the impositions of Reginald, sent to Olave and presented him with the sceptre of the Islesv.

The frequent changes, and the consequent unsettled state of the country, afforded the Scots an opportunity of regaining possession of Man. In 1313, Bruce made a descent on the Island, and succeeded in driving out the English; he granted it to his nephew Randolph, Earl of Murray, during whose sway it was overrun and plundered by a numerous body of Irish under Richard de Mandeville.

A new patent passed the great seal, in 1406, bestowing the Island, Peel Castle, and lordship of Man, and the Isles appertaining thereto, with all the royalties, regalities, and franchises, with the patronage of the see, on him and his heirs, in as full and ample a manner as had been granted to any former lord or king; to be held of the crown of Great Britain, per homagium legum, paying to the king a cast of falcons at his coronation. By this grant Sir John Stanley became king of Man: he shortly afterwards married the heiress of Knowsley and Latham, and was made lord lieutenant of Ireland.

John Stanley died in 1448, and was succeeded by his son Thomas, Who was created a baron, and died in 1460. Thomas, his son, succeeded him, and was created earl of Derby, for the aid he rendered to Henry VII., with his forces at Bosworth field. This nobleman’s son, Thomas, the second earl of Derby, relinquished the title of king of Man, being contented with that of lord only.

During the civil war the island remained steadily attached to the interests of the king, and was one of the last places that yielded to the authority of Cromwell. After the relief of Lathom House and the battle of Bolton, the noble William, Earl of Derby retired to the Isle of Man, where he continued to reside, actively engaged in protecting his interests, until 1651. In that year he proceeded to England, where he raised a force, joined the royal army, was defeated and taken prisoner at. Worcester, and beheaded at Bolton, October 16, 1651. The defense of the island was undertaken by the heroic Lady Derby, who was then in Castle Rushen; but William Christian, the receiver-general, on the appearance of a hostile fleet, surrendered the castle without resistance, to which act of treachery there is little doubt that he had been bribed.

On the death of Earl Charles, in 1672, he was succeeded by his son William, who was averse to all court employment, being disgusted with the ingratitude of Charles H, and the injustice which he considered his family had sustained. He took but little interest in his Manks property ; and, dying without issue, in 1702, was succeeded by his brother James. At this time the lordship of Man was approaching to dissolution. The leases, which had been granted for three lives, having nearly expired, and no provision having been made relative to their renewal, the neglect of agriculture became so general, that repeated seasons of scarcity and famine occurred; and the people were wholly given up to the fishery, or the pursuit of a contraband trade.

Though many overtures were made for their purchase by government, no treaty was concluded till after the death of the duke, whose only daughter, Charlotte, Baroness Strange, being married to her cousin James, male heir to the dukedom, conveyed to him the lordship of Man. Proposals for the purchase were revived in 1765, and measures having been introduced into parliament for the more efl‘ectnal prevention of the illicit trade of the Island, the duke and duchess agreed to alienate the sovereignty for £70,000. They reserved the manorial rights, the patronage of the see, and some emoluments and perquisites, respecting which a misunderstanding arose, in consequence of the British government claiming more than the duke and duchess intended by the treaty to relinquish ; and, therefore, a further sum of £2,000 per annum, was granted as an annuity - to the duchess out of the Irish revenue; the sovereignty of the Island thus became vested in the crown of England.

In 1825 an act passed both houses of Parliament, at the instance of the lords of the Treasury, authorizing the lords of the Treasary to treat with the duke for the purchase of his remaining interest in the island. The duke being very unpopular at the time, and much dissatisfied with his position in the island, willingly embraced the proposal, and the valuation was left to arbitrators appointed on both sides.

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Page last modified: 28-06-2017 18:31:26 ZULU