The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Isle of Man

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Title: The Isle of Man

Author: Joseph E. Morris

Release date: September 10, 2014 [eBook #46838]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Matthias Grammel, Shaun Pinder and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


[p. i]

In this Series

Leamington and Warwick


[p. ii]

[p. 1]

The Waterfall in Dhoon Glen

The Waterfall in Dhoon Glen

[p. 2]


The Isle of Man

Joseph E Morris


London Adam & Charles

Soho Square W

[p. 3]


I. The Island as a Whole 5
II. Concerning Peel 10
III. Tynwald Hill and the Northern Parts of the Island 18
IV. From Ramsey to Laxey 40
V. Castletown and the South Side of the Island 48
  Index 64

[p. 4]


1. The Waterfall in Dhoon Glen Frontispiece
2. Douglas Bay (a Midsummer Night) 9
3. Maughold Church 16
4. A Breezy Morning at Point of Ayre 25
5. Ramsey Bay looking Northwards 27
6. Sulby Glen and Snaefell 30
7. Glen Maye 32
8. The Calf of Man from Spanish Head 43
9. Port St. Mary 46
10. Castletown and Castle Rushen 49
11. Peel Harbour and Castle 56
12. Bradda Head, Port Erin On the cover

[p. 5]




Either Ruskin or Wordsworth—I forget for the moment which—says somewhere that the English Lake Country begins where its mountains first become visible over the sands of Morecambe Bay. This, indeed, is a proper rebuke to the foolish modern tendency—so entirely subversive of all real aesthetic appreciation—which wishes always to hurry us (too frequently by railway) into the very heart of a beautiful district, instead of encouraging us to approach it by insensible gradations, thus allowing its beauties to work up gradually to their natural and proper climax. Luckily this mistake is impossible in the case of the Isle of Man, which is necessarily approached by water. It is astonishing, indeed, from what great distances its mountains are visible over the [p. 6] Irish Sea. On any fine evening they are plainly conspicuous from anywhere along the level strip of land that constitutes the south-west coast of Cumberland; it is not necessary, in fact, to climb to the summit of Black Comb in order to see

Main ocean, breaking audibly, and stretched
Far into silent regions blue and pale—
And visibly engirding Mona's Isle.

The prospect thus afforded is one of singular distant attractiveness, though the Isle of Man presents no such splendid group of huddled peaks as the Cumberland fells present, in their turn, as seen from the Isle of Man. Only North Barrule, indeed, towards the north end of the island, rises to a distinct and graceful cone.

The Isle of Man has suffered, if we may say so without paradox, from the excess of its own popularity. For many years past it has been the favourite touring ground of holiday-makers from the crowded manufacturing district of South Lancashire; and this, perhaps, has rather tended to discourage those quiet lovers of Nature who, though not exactly addicted to taking their pleasures sadly, at any rate prefer to enjoy occasional solitude, and do not always appreciate [p. 7] the joys of a noisy crowd. Douglas, indeed, in the season is crowded with merry trippers, who pour into it from steamer after steamer, and tax its accommodation to the breaking point. And what is true of Douglas is perhaps also true, in a modified degree, of Ramsey, and even of Port Erin and Peel. These, of course, are centres from which brakes and char-à-bancs and waggonettes perambulate every corner of the island; even the culminating summit of Snaefell itself is now climbed by a double line of electric railway, and crowned by a huge hotel. "Pretty as the island is," says Mr. Haskett Smith, "its hills are nothing more than hills, except where they are also railways or tea-gardens." Tea-gardens, no doubt, are abundantly in evidence; and there is scarcely a glen in the whole island that is not rigorously kept under lock and key, and only to be opened at a price. The tripper element, again, in the Isle of Man is probably responsible for the absence of the old-fashioned mountain inns—like Wastdale Head, in Cumberland, or Penygwryd, near Snowdon—that form so pleasant a feature among the mountains of England and Wales. There even was once a dancing saloon in the lonely recesses of Injebreck; and no one who [p. 8] loves mountains tolerates dancing in their secret recesses, unless indeed it be the fairies dancing their "ringlets to the whistling wind."

Most people indeed who love Nature will avoid Mona in the "season"; but luckily the "season" is short. From October to Easter the lodging houses are empty, and the island lives its own peculiar life. It is remarkable, indeed, how little permanent harm has been done to its pleasant landscapes by this yearly incursion of the southern Goths and Vandals. Fashion has not dotted its hills with villas, as Windermere has been dotted, and to some extent Ambleside and Coniston. The two streams of life that meet here in summer flow together for a time side by side, but do not seem to commingle. Go there in spring when the fields are full of lambs, and the hedgerows are yellow with primroses. Climb the rolling moorlands that are still red with winter bents, and wander along the hills that drop into the sea so steeply between Peel and Bradda Head. Linger in the old churchyards at Kirk Maughold and Kirkmichael among the immemorial cross-slabs of a long since vanished race; sit among the ruins of St. Patrick's Island—broken cathedral and broken castle, old, mysterious round tower, and ruined pre-Conquest church—till the place is peopled again with dead voices and dead faces, and till the whole island

Glows as if the Middle Age
Were gorgeous upon earth again.


A panoramic view of the town from Douglas Head.

[p. 9]

You will receive no rude shock in the course of your wandering, nor necessarily encounter a single "tripper." In this way most certainly, but in this way alone, you will "pluck out the heart of [the] mystery" of pleasant, green "Ellan Vannin."

[p. 10]



There is hardly a pleasanter spot in the island from which to explore its beauties than Peel. Situated on its west coast, at a point sufficiently equidistant from its north and south extremities, and as much out of reach of the corrupting influence of Douglas as any centre well can be in an island of such insignificant dimensions, Peel is not merely an admirable centre from which to make excursions, but in itself is one of the quaintest and most picturesque of little towns. Castletown, in fact, is its only possible Manx rival, and Castletown ranks below it by a very long interval. The inland parts of the town, no doubt, are dull, as new parts of most towns are apt to be everywhere; but the ancient nucleus of the place, at the exact point where the little River Neb flows out into the sea, and St. Patrick's Island (which is now no longer an island, but an [p. 11] artificial peninsula), are as picturesque and old-fashioned as anyone can wish. St. Patrick's Island, indeed, whether viewed at close quarters from the little pier on the opposite side of the harbour—where sometimes at night one almost stumbles over piles of freshly caught fish that are left there to glimmer and glint in the moonlight—or seen from a distance from the coast to the north of Peel Bay, is probably the most striking object in the whole Kingdom of Man. Possibly the Rock of Cashel, which the writer has never seen, is crowded with points of interest as many and as diverse: nowhere else, he fancies, in the range of the British seas is it possible to discover such variety of interest concentrated in a space so diminutive as this. Here is an old castle and a ruined palace, a round tower, a roofless cathedral, and an old pre-Conquest church. None by itself is of great importance, but the aggregate (bounded in seven acres) is imposing in its "infinite variety." The round tower, of course, has analogies in Ireland, and at Abernethy, Egilsay, and Brechin, in Scotland; but is absolutely without parallel in England. Much learning has been expended on the meaning of these structures, which were possibly nothing more or less than [p. 12] places of refuge, strange as their shape may appear for this purpose, for people to take shelter in times of sudden scare. The Peel round tower, however, differs from its Scottish and Irish neighbours in being of one uniform diameter from bottom to finish, not tapering like the others towards its top. The cathedral of St. Germain, now derelict and roofless, exhibits more distinctive architectural features than any other old church in the island. Parts of it date from the thirteenth century; and many bishops of Sodor and Man have been buried inside its walls. One of these, Samuel Rutter, who died in 1662, is commemorated still by an inscription so quaint—it is easy to believe that it was written by himself—that we may be pardoned for setting out most of it at length: "In hac domo quam A vermiculis accepi confratribus meis, spe Resurrectionis ad vitam, Jaceo Sam, Permissione divina Episcopus Hujus Insulae. Siste Lector vide ac ride palatium episcopi. Obiit XXX° die mensis Maij anno 1662." This is very wittily Englished thus in Black's guide-book:

In this abode I lying am,
Bishop of this island, Sam;
Fraternal little worms remain
My comrades till I rise again.
Stay, reader, and inspect awhile
A Bishop's Palace; look and smile!

[p. 13]

The crypt below the church is said once to have been used as a prison for Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, who bulks so largely in the second part of Shakespeare's Henry VI. "Not all these lords," exclaims the infuriated Margaret,

Not all these lords do vex me half so much
As that proud dame, the lord protector's wife:
She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies,
More like an empress than Duke Humphrey's wife.

The Duchess was accused in 1441 of treason against the King's life; and was condemned, after doing penance for three days in the streets of London, bareheaded, and with a lighted taper in her hand—Shakespeare adds in a white sheet and with naked feet—to be kept in prison for life. Shakespeare, or whoever wrote the Second Part of Henry VI., makes her sent at once to the Isle of Man, in the custody of its governor, Sir John (it should have been Sir Thomas) Stanley. It appears, however, from the Dictionary of National Biography that she was first incarcerated at [p. 14] Chester, and afterwards at Kenilworth; and it was only in July, 1446, that she was removed to the Isle of Man, where "she is said to have been imprisoned in Peel Castle till her death." Mr. W. R. Hall Caine, on the contrary, though he goes into no detail, states roundly that "the Duchess was never a prisoner in Peel Castle" at all—"she never set foot on our island." Who shall decide where doctors disagree? Anyhow, it is extremely unlikely that she was "cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd" in this narrow vault underneath the cathedral. If Shakespeare may be trusted—but, of course, he is no authority—the lady was to be kept close prisoner, but treated with due respect:

To the Isle of Man;
There to be us'd according to your state.
Duch. That's bad enough, for I am but reproach:
And shall I then be us'd reproachfully?
Stan. Like to a duchess, and Duke Humphrey's lady:
According to that state you shall be used.

Another tradition of this strange rock is the "Spectre Dog," which was introduced by Scott into the Lay of the Last Minstrel, with his usual delightful allusiveness:

But none of all the astonished train
Was so dismayed as Deloraine!
His blood did freeze, his brain did burn,
'Twas feared his mind would ne'er return;
For he was speechless, ghastly, wan,
Like him of whom the story ran,
That spake the spectre-hound in Man.

[p. 15]

Scott, apparently, to judge from the notes to the edition of his Poems published at Edinburgh in 1830, got his material for this reference from Waldron's Description of the Isle of Man, in which a tradition is preserved "that an apparition, called, in the Mankish language, the Mauthe Dhoo, in the shape of a large black spaniel with curled shaggy hair, was used to haunt Peel Castle; and has been frequently seen in every room, but particularly in the guard-chamber, where, as soon as candles were lighted, it came and lay down before the fire, in presence of all the soldiers, who at length, by being so much accustomed to the sight of it, lost great part of the terror they were seized with at its first appearance." They still, however, "as believing it was an evil spirit, which only waited permission to do them hurt ... forbore swearing and all profane discourse while in its company, and none cared to be left alone with it," nor was anyone willing without company to traverse a [p. 16] certain passage, from which the dog was noticed to emerge at close of day, and which it entered again at daybreak. "One night, a fellow being drunk, and by the strength of his liquor rendered more daring than ordinary, laughed at the simplicity of his companions, and, though it was not his turn to go with the keys, would needs take that office upon him to testify his courage. All the soldiers endeavoured to dissuade him, but the more they said the more resolute he seemed, and swore that he desired nothing more than that Mauthe Dhoo would follow him as it had done the others, for he would try if it were dog or devil. After having talked in a very reprobate manner for some time, he snatched up the keys and went out of the guard-room; in some time after his departure a great noise was heard, but nobody had the boldness to see what occasioned it, till, the adventurer returning, they demanded the knowledge of him.


The interesting little Church stands on Maughold Head. In the foreground is an old sundial and by the Church gate a fine cross.

[p. 17]

But as loud and noisy as he had been at leaving them, he was now become sober and silent enough, for he was never heard to speak more; and though all the time he lived—which was three days—he was entreated by all who came near him either to speak, or, if he could not do that, to make some signs by which they could understand what had happened to him, yet nothing intelligible could be got from him, only that, by the distortion of his limbs and features, it might be guessed that he died in agonies more than are common in a natural death. The Mauthe Dhoo was, however, never seen after in the castle, nor would anyone attempt to go through that passage—for which reason it was closed up, and another way made. This accident happened about threescore years since, and I heard it attested by several, but especially by an old soldier, who assured me he had seen it oftener than he had then hairs on his head."

[p. 18]



Pedestrians who wish to go north-eastward from Peel to Ramsey have a choice of two very different kinds of way. The first of these is the great highroad, which, after the first two miles or so, runs side by side with the little narrow-gauge railway, and passes in succession the villages of Kirkmichael, Ballaugh, and Sulby. The second is to follow the highway to Douglas to a point past St. John's, where a lane turns up to the left in the direction of Greeba Mill; and thence, climbing on to the moor, to follow the long line of hill-tops over the summits of Greeba Mountain, Slieau Ruy, Lhargey Ruy, Colden, Beinn-y-Phott, Snaefell, Clagh Ouyre, and North Barrule, till we drop again to sea-level at the quays of Ramsey Harbour. To those who love hills, and scrambling over hills, this is probably [p. 19] by far the best walk in the island; but the writer, to be honest, has never had the luck to take it, though he has viewed the chief Manx summits at more or less close quarters. A little beyond the point where one quits the road to Peel, Greeba Castle is conspicuous on the green hill slope, with the lately repaired ruin of St. Trinian's Chapel, lonely in the fields, on the left just beyond it. This last is now treasured as a public possession; for Man has displayed a solicitude for the protection of its old monuments that England would do well were it tardily to copy. Unhappily it has been found necessary to cut down the graceful ash trees that are said formerly to have sheltered its ruined walls. Greeba Castle, as is well known, is the Manx home of the novelist, Mr. Hall Caine, whose Deemster and Manxman have done so much to popularize Man in the public imagination. Those who ignore the fells, and cling to the highroad, may make one or two good deviations. The first of these is to follow the Douglas road as far as Tynwald Hill, and thence turn north towards Kirkmichael by the side of the little River Neb, which flows from the recesses of Glen Helen. This last is one of the best known and most favourite [p. 20] glens in the island, and is really very pretty—more one can hardly claim for it—always provided that we have luck enough to visit it at a time when it is not overrun by hordes of Douglas "trippers." The writer has only been in February, when there was not even a custodian to exact the usual fee that is demanded for admission. It is said to get its name from the daughter of a former owner, who built what is called the Swiss Cottage—always a name of disastrous omen—and planted a million trees. Many of these last were burnt down some twenty years ago or more; and others had been devastated by a tremendous storm that took place not long before the writer's visit. It is still, however, a charming woodland walk to follow up the dell to the Rhenass Fall towards its head, where the stream descends over mossy crags in a theatre of deep seclusion. This is the end of the orthodox glen; but by climbing above the fall on the open hillside and penetrating the upland valley that lies between Colden (1,599 feet) and Sart Fell (l,560 feet), we soon begin to get among the mountains. Possibly, however, this digression involves some trespassing; and trespass in Manx law—I write in utter ignorance—may perhaps be invested with [p. 21] pains and penalties that do not surround it in England! Another good digression from the main highroad may be made by quitting it at Ballaugh, and proceeding through the Curraghs by way of Jurby and Andreas. The Curraghs is the flattest part of the island, and is formed of alluvial deposits. Ballaugh old church at any rate is picturesque outside; and two other churches in this dull corner of the island—Andreas and Bride—have each at least a brace of ancient crosses. Of these old Manx crosses we hope soon to say something more, when treating of the grand collection on the south side of the graveyard at St. Maughold. Of Manx ecclesiology there is nothing to be said: it is patently without interest or value. Peel Cathedral, we have seen, has a little genuine thirteenth-century work, and Braddon old church, like Jurby, is pleasant enough to look on. Moreover, a skilled eye will doubtless detect traces of mediaevalism in many a featureless edifice that might seem at first the uncomely product of the soulless eighteenth century. But not even the best of the seventeen old parish churches—and that, perhaps, is St. Maughold—is likely to hold the archaeologist long, or help to fill his note-book. Even the [p. 22] pre-Conquest chapel at Peel can hardly be called an exception; it is simply a matter of four bare walls, quite without instructiveness or feature.

But whether the visitor proceed from Peel to Ramsey by highroad, with or without digressions, or resolve to make a day of it by boldly crossing the fells, he ought not to fail, in any event, before quitting the neighbourhood of Peel, to pay a visit to the famous Tynwald Hill, of which notice has already been shortly taken in passing. This lies to the left of the main road from Peel to Douglas, from which it is plainly visible, just before entering the village of St. John's. In itself it is quite inconspicuous—merely like a flattened round barrow, with a second, smaller round barrow, also flattened, on the top of it; but the spot is one of immense suggestiveness, as well as of great existing political interest. Every new Manx law that has passed the House of Keys, and received the royal assent, is here promulgated in the open air on July 5 in each year. The ceremony begins with a service in the adjoining church; and everyone then adjourns to the famous hillock—the Governor (who is now Lord Raglan), the House of Keys, the Deemsters, the Bishop, and the people. This rite is a genuine [p. 23] antiquity that has come down uninterruptedly from old time, not a mere artificial attempt at archaeological revival, like the Dunmow Flitch, in Essex—to compare small things with great. Here, in short, as its very name implies, is perhaps the last survival in Europe of out-of-door mass legislation—the living representative of a now almost vanished order that has left its traces in place-names over much of Scandinavian Great Britain. Dingwall, in Ross, which is virtually the same word; Thwing, high up on the Yorkshire Wolds; Laughten-en-le-Morthen (Laughten-in-the-Moor-Thing), in the extreme south of the same county; Thingwald, in the Cheshire Wirral; Tinwald Hill, near Dumfries—all point indisputably to the same phonetic origin—the Norse tinga (to speak)—and all indicate alike the former place of meeting of some more or less important kind of tribal assembly. In Norway, Canon Isaac Taylor reminds us, to the present day, the Parliament is called the Storthing, or Great Council. As to the constituents of this vastly old assembly, readers of Mr. Hall Caine will not need to be reminded that the two Deemsters are the chief judges of the island. The House of Keys, which corresponds with the English House [p. 24] of Commons, consists of twenty-four members, elected by a franchise that includes female suffrage. Man, however, still retains the equivalent of the English House of Lords; though its "Council" is not hereditary in character, but consists of such officials as the Bishop, the Archdeacon, the Deemsters, the Attorney-General, and others. The presence in this body of ecclesiastical dignitaries reminds one of the constitution of the States of Jersey and Guernsey, in both of which the rectors of the historic parishes of the Channel Islands sit as of right at the seat of legislation. Indeed, the constitutions of all three countries—free States within a State—and their peculiar relation to England, are worthy of curious scrutiny and close comparative study.

On the present occasion we propose to make our way from Peel to Ramsey by neither of the two alternatives that have briefly been sketched above. We propose, on the contrary, to take a composite route—partly through the lowland, but mostly over hill—which will introduce us alike to Kirkmichael, and Bishop's Court beyond it, and carry us over the top of Snaefell—provided always that it be autumn, spring, or winter, and that the electric tramway is not running.


The northern extremity of the Isle of Man with its lighthouse.

[p. 25]

From Peel to Kirkmichael we either follow the highroad, which is never very far from the sea, or else take the roundabout route by Tynwald Hill and Glen Helen. Kirkmichael itself is a hard-featured little village stretching in a single, long street along the main road to Ramsey, and distant half a mile from the sea. Luckily, so far, it has escaped the blight of "development," and has plenty of character and local Manx colour. The church was rebuilt in 1835—no need to state in what style—but a fragment of its predecessor remains on the east of the graveyard. Near this is the tomb of Bishop Thomas Wilson (d. 1755), with an inscription by his son, "Who in obedience to the express Commands of his worthy Father, Declines giving him the Character He so justly Deserved. Let this island speak the Rest." There is a portrait of Bishop Wilson—no doubt sufficiently fanciful—in Mr. Hall Caine's Deemster, where he appears as the good native Bishop. Wilson, however, was really a Cheshireman, having been born at Burton-in-Wirral in 1663; and was educated as a sizar at Trinity College, Dublin, where he was a contemporary of the saturnine Jonathan Swift. In 1692 he was appointed domestic chaplain to [p. 26] the ninth Earl of Derby, and tutor to his son, which determined the whole after course of his life. The Stanleys at this time were no longer "Kings of Man," but they still possessed authority almost regal. "In the year 1393 the Earl of Salisbury sold to Sir William le Scroop, afterwards Earl of Wiltshire, the Isle of Man, with the title of King, and the right of being crowned with a golden crown." In 1406, after some intermediate dealings with which we need not here concern ourselves, the island (still carrying with it, no doubt, the right to "the golden round") passed to Sir John Stanley, who died in 1414; and with the Stanleys it continued till it passed by the marriage of an heiress to the Atholl Murrays in 1736. The regal title, however, had been dropped by the second Earl of Derby (d. 1521), "as he preferred being a great lord to being a petty King." The famous island arms (Gules three legs in armour embossed and conjoined at the thighs proper, spurred and garnished, or) still figure among the many quarterings of the house of Stanley. They may also be found on old work in connection with buildings with which the Stanleys had presumably something to do—on the west front, for example, of the fifteenth-century tower of Bidstone Church in Cheshire, and on a misericorde in Manchester Cathedral.


Ramsey is the second town in size in the island and like Douglas faces East.

[p. 27]

Among the many other prerogatives that the ninth Earl of Derby still retained as Lord of Man was the strange one of appointing its Bishop. The last Bishop, Baptist Levinz, had died in 1693, and for some strange reason no successor had been appointed. It is said that at last William III. threatened to take the appointment into his own hand, and the Earl was thus compelled to make his tardy election. It fell on Thomas Wilson, who was consecrated at the Savoy in 1698. Wilson from the first set his face against corruption, and administered his diocese with firmness and good-nature. He seems, in fact, in his remote island diocese, to have played a part in some ways not dissimilar to that which was played by the "admirable Walker" in the Furness parish of Seathwaite. "He soon became 'a very energetic planter' of fruit and forest trees, turning 'the bare slopes' into 'a richly-wooded glen.' He was an equally zealous farmer and miller, doing much by his example to develop the resources of the island. For some time he was 'the only physician in the island'; he set up a drug-shop, [p. 28] giving advice and medicine gratis to the poor. Against the then besetting sin of pluralism Wilson turned a face of steel; twice he refused the offer of the rich living of Badsworth, in the West Riding, which twice his patron offered him, because he disapproved of non-resident incumbents. His deep practical piety is manifest from his two posthumous books, Maxims of Piety and Christianity and Sacra Privata. But perhaps the best-known episode in his long episcopate of more than fifty-seven years—he died at the patriarchal age of ninety-three—was his imprisonment in Castle Rushen for refusal to pay a fine. In 1722 he had suspended the Governor's chaplain for administering the Communion to the Governor's wife, she being then in some sense excommunicate, and for sanctioning false doctrine. Mulcted for this interference in a sum of £50, Wilson and his two Vicars-General elected to go to prison rather than submit to the tyranny of an authority that they held to be usurped. Wilson, indeed, seems to have endeavoured to maintain in the Isle of Man a system of moral discipline similar to that the decay of which is deplored in the Commination Service. His practice, however, was tolerant; the Quakers are said to [p. 29] have 'loved and respected him'; Roman Catholics not infrequently attended his services; whilst Dissenters, since permitted to stand, or sit, at the Communion, were content to kneel at the altar-rails like ordinary church-folk. To burial inside the walls of a church he exhibited strong abhorrence; and provision was expressly inserted in his will that his own body should be interred in the graveyard." A similar repulsion was entertained by Dr. Wynne, a former resident of Mold, in Flintshire, whose sentiments have found public expression, if I recollect rightly, in his epitaph, composed by himself. In this case, unfortunately, by a curious irony of fate, a subsequent extension of the chancel to the east has since brought his grave within the compass of the church.

In the lych-gate on the east side of Kirkmichael Churchyard are preserved several of those fine old crosses, though more or less in fragments, that form the chief archaeological glory of Man, and are now tended with such laudable care. Something of these is said on a later page. The Bishop's Palace at Bishop's Court, a long mile to the north from the end of the village, has been the residence of the Bishop [p. 30] from at least the thirteenth century, and probably for very much longer. The bishopric of Sodor and Man was founded, according to tradition, as early as the fourth century, when Amphibalus is reported Bishop in 360; but all its early history is difficult and obscure. Originally it comprised, not merely Man, but also the Scottish Hebrides (Southern Isles, or Sudreys, as opposed to the Northern Islands, i.e., the Shetlands and Orkneys); but the latter were necessarily severed when the island was wrested from the Scots in the reign of Edward III. Thomas (d. 1348), or William Russel (d. 1374), may approximately be considered as the first solely Manx Bishop; but the ancient title of Sodor still forms part of their official title, just as the Kings of England still continued to quarter the fleur-de-lys of France long after Mary had lost Calais.

Bishop's Court, however, is a little out of the way for those who wish to cross the hills from Kirkmichael to Ramsey. Nor does the place indeed exhibit any interest for the archaeologist, though the Bishop's private chapel is at present used as a kind of pro-cathedral for the diocese. From Kirkmichael Village there is a track—that for part of the distance is no track—almost directly due east, which passes between Slieau Dhoo (1,139 feet), on the north, and Slieau Fraoghane (1,602 feet), on the south, and ultimately drops into the head of Sulby Glen at the bottom of the western slopes of Snaefell.


Snaefell is the chief height in the island (2034 ft.) It is now possible to ascend almost to the summit by an electric railway from Douglas.

[p. 31]

Or the visitor may retrace his steps toward Glen Helen as far as the chapel at Baregarrow, passing on the left the Hill of Reneuriling, sometimes called Cronk Urleigh, or Eagle Mount, which is said to have been the original Tynwald Hill of the island. At Baregarrow a lane turns away to the left, and winds up along the southern slopes of Sart Fell (1,560 feet). Whichever route be taken, as we penetrate the hills we realize more and more the real nature of Manx mountains. The central chain of hills extends for about twenty miles from Bradda Head, a sea-cliff (766 feet), in the south-west, to North Barrule (1,842 feet), in the north-east, thus forming a true axis to the island. The range is interrupted, not exactly in the middle, but more towards the south, by the great lateral valley that pierces it completely from sea to sea, and through which run road and rail between Peel and Douglas. South of this great glen the highest summit is South Barrule (1,565 feet); but north of it comes a cluster of much [p. 32] higher hills, the culminating point of which is Snaefell (2,034 feet). These hills are built of slate, like the hills of Cumberland and North Wales, but there all analogy ceases. Snowdon and Scafell Pike are convulsed masses of broken rock, whose black nakedness is not always scantily clothed with a coverlet of bracken, or wiry grass, or sloppy bog-moss. From the foot of the sheer crags extend long acres of scree-shoot, and the hills are further torn in every direction by the deeply furrowed channels of the torrents. In Man the hill slopes are everywhere smooth, and modelled in regular contours; they are clad, no doubt, with moor, and sodden in places with wet, but crag, and scree, and rock, are almost wholly absent. They have even less ferocity than Skiddaw; and Skiddaw, in addition, boasts a splendid "double-front," and a bold black top that excited the enthusiasm of even the town-loving "Elia." What little rock they exhibit is confined chiefly to the sides of one or two glens—Sulby Glen, for instance, which is quite the finest in the island—and to the beds of mountain streams; but none of this is terrific.


One of the picturesque little glens with which the island abounds. It is near Peel, on the western side.

[p. 33]

The truth indeed is this, that this central range of Man, though akin to Westmoreland and Carnarvonshire in its actual make of rock, is altogether aloof from them in all tangible characteristics. This is not to dispraise the hills of Man, but only to rescue them from the ignominy of an obvious, but quite unfair, comparison. Manx mountains, in fact, though thus composed of slate, have really much more resemblance to the limestone hills of Yorkshire. They have no pretensions to rank with the best; but, judged by themselves, they are quite satisfactorily noble. We are likely, indeed, to appreciate them all the better, just because we do not approach them in a mood of too exalted expectation. On the whole they are less dull than the Cheviots; and even the Cheviots are full of all kinds of delightful surprises.

Moreover, as we win higher among the moorlands by the lane that climbs from Baregarrow, we realize more and more that charm of all-round seascape that distinguishes these hills above all compeers, and gives them their imperishable charm. The wonderful extent of the view from Snaefell was noted down as long ago as the "spacious times of great Elizabeth." Thus, Camden says quite truly: "In medio montibus densius attolitur, e quibus aeditissimus Sceafell, [p. 34] unde sudo coelo Scotia, Anglia, and Hibernia prospici possit"—that is, England, Scotland, and Ireland—and Wales must be added—can all be seen from the top on a clear day. Drayton, in his Polyolbion (Canto xxvii.), has just the same remark translated into poetical diction:

Her midst with mountains set, of which, from Sceafel's height,
A clear and perfect eye, the weather being bright
(Be Neptune's visage ne'er so terrible and stern),
The Scotch, the Irish shores, and th' English may discern.

"In clear weather," says Mr. Baddeley, "not only is the 'tight little island' itself mapped out beneath the eye, with the exception of a strip of the coast here and there, but Scotland is plainly visible, from the Mull of Kintyre to beyond Dumfries; Ireland is represented by the Mourne Mountains; England by the giants of the Lake District; and even Wales shows up, with the Peak of Snowdon, the 'Carnedds'—Dafydd and Llewelyn—and the range extending thence, Penmaenmawr to the Great Orme, with, maybe, the Clwydian range, in cloud-like outline, far away in the south-east. The nearest point of England to Snaefell is St. Bees Head, 38 miles distant; of Scotland the Whithorn Promontory, 30 miles; of Ireland the entrance to Strangford Lough, [p. 35] 36 miles; and of Wales the northern coast of Anglesey, 56 miles; Scafell is 50 miles away; Merrick, the highest Scottish mountain south of Edinburgh and Glasgow, 60; Slieve Donard, the highest in the North of Ireland, 60; and Snowdon, 80."

The lane by which we are now travelling, though sufficiently rough-and-tumble, is one over which it is possible to push a bicycle; the writer himself has done it. It is not, in fact, the least strange feature of these Manx hills that they are thus traversed by high-level roads—not actually, indeed, climbing to the tops of the mountains, but winding in and out among them not far below their summits. One of these, between Douglas and Ramsey, and immediately under the shadow of Snaefell itself, has been engineered, I fancy, of quite recent years. One is reminded a little of the many new upland roads that the French are now constructing in Auvergne among the mountains of Mont Dore. Climbing along the south breast of Sart Fell, with the Rhenass stream below us on the right (which flows ultimately down Glen Helen), we come presently to the slight col between the valleys of the Rhenass and the Sulby, just before surmounting which the [p. 36] heavy, dome-like top of Snaefell starts suddenly up through the nick of the pass, with its castellated hotel on its summit. The electric rail from Laxey—a hideous double line—almost completely encircles the bare, flattened cone of the hill as it winds round it in gradual ascent, exactly in the fashion in which the line from Clermont-Ferrand (though this is served by an ugly monster that vomits out volumes of smoke) winds up the Puy de Dôme, almost like the peel of an orange. It must be pleaded, however, in excuse of the tram-road up Snaefell—if any plea may be heard to extenuate its bare existence—that at least it has not scarred harsh lines round the hill, as is the case with its central French rival—lines that are plainly visible, on a reasonably clear day, eighteen miles away, or thereabouts, from the top of the Puy de Sancy. The view now opens on the left into the head of Sulby Glen—more properly Glen Mooar, the Big Glen—the strength of which lies further to the north, where it deepens beyond the inn at Tholt-y-Wilt. This is usually reckoned the finest in the island, and has certainly best pretensions to recognized mountain grandeur—if any spot, indeed, in the whole of the Isle of Man may properly be styled either mountainous or [p. 37] grand. Hereabouts, in succession, two rough roads turn down, to the south, to Injebreck, deep in the green valley between Colden and Carraghan (1,520 feet), and the terminus of a good driving-road from Douglas. Neither can be ridden on a bicycle, and one at least, when we descended it—but we speak of now two years ago—was rapidly being swept away by the fury of mountain torrents. Thus Injebreck is practically a cul-de-sac, secluded in the greenest of dale-heads; and those who are lucky enough to drop down into it, as the writer dropped down, just towards sunset on a mild February evening, with nearly a score of croaking ravens circling above his head, will reckon it perhaps the most beautiful spot in the island, and one that still remains entirely unspoilt, serene in the possession of its pleasant rustic graces.

Injebreck, however, on our present route, must be kept for another day: for the moment we keep the level, round the north face of Beinn-y-Phott (1,772 feet), till we fall into the great high-level route already referred to as running from Douglas to Ramsey. This, at the point of junction, is crossed by a gate the closing of which is enforced by the threat of legal penalties—a [p. 38] timely reminder that the law of Man is not always co-extensive with the law of England. Beinn-y-Phott itself is a prominent summit that perhaps displays more character than most of its sister peaks. After all, it may be true that the names of Manx mountains present greater interest than Manx mountains themselves. Snaefell, of course, is the "hill of snow"—exactly the equivalent of familiar Snowdon (there are said to be two Snaefells in Iceland). Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa, on the other hand, which drops so splendidly into the sea between Glen Maye and Port Erin (there is a second hill of the same title in the north division of the island), is said to mean the "Hill of the Rising Sun," and bears witness to conditions and an altitude less rigorous.

From the point where our rough cart-track joins the great high-level road between Douglas and Ramsey we turn north-eastward along this latter, between Snaefell and Clagh Ouyre (1,808 feet). Snaefell itself is easily climbed, if the conditions be really propitious, by diverging to the left up the gentle hill-slope at almost any point we like after crossing the electric tramway. Hereabouts, on our right, we look down into the deep glen, disfigured by a lead-mine, which ends [p. 39] on the sea at Laxey. A little beyond this, when Snaefell is now behind us, and growing smaller in the distance, the eye begins to measure the profound and solemn depths of green and pastoral Glen Auldyn. The elevation is maintained till quite near Ramsey, when we plunge down suddenly from our mountain heights by a drop of unexpected and startling abruptness. Of Ramsey I have little to say: there seems little to say about it. It is said to look charming when approached from the sea, but the charm must soon vanish on landing. Down by its quays it is just a little harbour, with the usual local colour of a place that lives by shipping and fishing. Of the parts of the town that live by visitors there is little to be said for good or for evil.

[p. 40]



From Ramsey the visitor may travel seventeen miles south to Douglas, returning thence to Peel, if he like, by railway. At the very beginning, however, a digression should be made to Kirk Maughold and St. Maughold's Head, immediately beyond it. Kirk Maughold, beyond question, is one of the pleasantest villages in Man, and certainly for the archaeologist a shrine of the first importance. Even the little church, in this case, has some touches of mediaevalism (thirteenth-century lancets) that redeem it from the general charge of Manx ecclesiological dulness. The churchyard in which it stands—like that of Adel, in Yorkshire—is quite disproportionately large, containing, it is said, nearly four acres. For the sake of its church alone, however, no one would come to Kirk Maughold: the magnet that attracts one is the collection of crosses in the churchyard, now studiously protected in a [p. 41] picturesque shelter. These, of course, are mostly pre-Conquest—the term, it is true, in strictness has no real application to Man, but at any rate it serves roughly to indicate a style, if not to disclose a period. Man is as distinguished for the number and variety of its old crosses as its far away sister, Cornwall. Not that Cornish and Manx crosses have any close affinity—they belong, no doubt, to wholly different schools of ancient Celtic art. Cornish crosses, in particular, like those in Pembrokeshire and Iona, are generally cut more or less to the cross-shape (though it may be only a wheel cross), whereas those of Man are merely carved in relief on a slab of rectangular slate. "The erect cross-slabs," says the late Mr. J. Romilly Allen, "are, with a few unimportant exceptions, peculiar to Scotland and the Isle of Man. They are probably older than the free-standing crosses, because the erect cross-slabs are not treated architecturally (as the high crosses of Ireland are), but resemble more nearly than anything else ornamented pages from the Celtic illuminated MSS. directly translated to stone with hardly any modification whatever to suit the requirements of the new material to which the decoration was applied." "There is [p. 42] no district," says Mr. P. M. C. Kermode, in his beautiful volume on "Manx Crosses," of so small an area which can boast of so great a number of monuments of this class, extending over such a lengthy period, and having such a variety of interest—Ogam, Latin, and Runic inscriptions, Celtic art with its Scandinavian applications and development, Christian symbols and pagan myths. Altogether, according to this same authority, the island has one hundred and sixteen old crosses, extending over a period of six centuries, forty-five of which may be called Scandinavian and seventy-one pre-Scandinavian. Not one of the seventeen old parishes is wholly without an example, though Ballaugh, Lezayre, and Patrick have only one each. Kirkmichael, however, has ten; whilst Maughold has actually thirty-seven—by far the biggest collection in the island. Kirk Braddon also exhibits some extremely interesting examples. Most of these cross-slabs are commemorative of the dead; and one of the inscriptions at Kirkmichael (as in Black's Guide to the Isle of Man) may fairly be given as typical of the rest:

Joalf son of Thorolf the Red erected this cross to his mother Frida.


The Calf is at the southern extremity of the island and is separated by the narrow and dangerous Calf Sound, on the right of the picture.

[p. 43]

One of those, however, at Kirk Maughold is not strictly a cross-slab at all, but seems merely to have been carved on a face of rock by the village priest—perhaps in a moment of leisure on some pleasant summer afternoon, just as Wordsworth carved the name of "Joanna"

Above the Rotha, by the forest side.

It comes from Keeil Woirrey, Corna, and bears the touching Runic inscription: "Christ Malachi Patrick and Adamnan (perhaps an invocation of the worthy pastor's patron saints): of all the sheep John is the Priest in Corna Dale."

But these prehistoric cross-slabs, if prehistoric we may call them—and though certainly they are not prehistoric in the strict and proper sense of the word, they are prehistoric in the sense of reaching far back into paths of history that are only dimly lighted, and are difficult to traverse—do not exhaust the archaeological treasures in which Kirk Maughold is so rich. On the strip of village green, as we approach the churchyard, is a picturesque, seventeenth-century sundial on three steps, with the inscription: Eus. (Edwardus) Christian fecit, 1666. Christian, I believe, like Quaile, is still a common Manx surname. Hard at [p. 44] hand is another old cross, but, of course, far later than those in the churchyard. This, in its present state, measures more than 10 feet in height, and its head—perhaps later than the shaft—which is sculptured with a ring and cross, a chalice and missal, and the famous arms of Man, and surmounted above all by a Crucifixion and Virgin and Child, is a rare and very interesting survival.

From Kirk Maughold we need not return to Ramsey to recover the main road to Douglas. On the contrary, we may proceed through pleasant country lanes that are tiresomely up and down hill and not a little roundabout, and enter the highroad after traversing that very Corna Dale of all of whose sheep Presbyter John, we have seen, was shepherd a thousand years ago or more. North Barrule (1,842 feet) all the way is a lovely peak in front—more shapely, perhaps, and richer in its blending of upland and lowland colour than any other summit in the island. It is this peak which is so graceful and conspicuous in distant views of Man, as seen, for example, from the coast of Cumberland, in the neighbourhood of St. Bees. The great highroad, when once accomplished, proves somewhat too hard, and [p. 45] straight, and broad, and white for any except the cyclist; for him it is ideal, supposing him to have spent his morning in wheeling his way with sorrow and pain up the steep rough lanes that rise from Kirkmichael towards Snaefell. The sea, however, as we draw near Dhoon Glen—a deep gash down below us on the left—grows more and more magnificent beneath us; and presently, just before doubling the sudden corner that gives access to Glen Laxey, road and tramway run together (the latter might be spared) on the edge of a sheer cliff that looks down from an almost giddy height on the waves that break far down below. This is one of the finest "bits" on a hard highroad in Man, but to the cyclist it is gone in a moment. Laxey opens out as suddenly, as the road turns the corner of the glen (into which it drops, and out of which it rises, by a huge but inevitable zigzag), as Nice opens out to those who turn the corner of the hill on the road down from Villefranche and Beaulieu. This large and prosperous village—it is really a little town—occupies a situation entirely different from any other settlement in the island—it is rather like that of Lynmouth—on the short strath where two glens commingle (Glens Laxey and Roy) before their [p. 46] united waters run out into the sea. Laxey, to the writer's taste, is far too big and straggling—untidy, perhaps, is too unkind a word to use of it—to make an idyllic centre from which to explore the hills. It should be borne in mind, however, that it is a nearer starting-point to Snaefell than any other centre in the island: the mountain tram, in fact—if that be not, indeed, a positive detraction—actually starts from its doors. But in the popular imagination the outstanding feature of Laxey (connected with the industry of lead-mining) is undoubtedly the famous Great Wheel, which is probably familiar from photographs and pictures in advertisements to many thousands of Englishmen who have never set foot on the island at all. It was erected in 1854, and measures "72-1/2 feet in diameter (as compared with 50 feet of the big Catrine Wheel in Ayrshire) and about 220 in circumference. The breadth is 6 feet; it revolves at a maximum speed of two rounds with a capacity for raising 250 gallons per minute." Its business is to keep the levels of the lead-mines free from water. "The platform above it, extending from one side to the top, is 75 feet above the ground, and reached by a spiral staircase of nearly 100 steps."


is a pleasant little watering place on Poyllvash Bay.

[p. 47]

It will thus be seen that this mammoth wheel is less than was the Great Wheel at Earl's Court—which latter, however, was perhaps, unkind people might suggest, like the melancholy Jacques' ducdame, only "a Greek invocation to call fools into a circle"—but probably is otherwise unrivalled in the world. Yet those who love Nature and love the Isle of Man are hardly likely to travel to Laxey just to get a sight of its Great Wheel!

[p. 48]



It still remains to explore the south side of the island, commencing again at Peel. Here the chief interest centres in Castletown, with its famous Castle Rushen; in the splendid stretch of coast between Peel and Port Erin; and in the cliff scenery of Spanish Head and the Calf. The direct road from Peel to Castletown, turning off from the Douglas road at St. John's, and proceeding by way of Foxdale, is a dull affair at best, and is spoilt at Foxdale itself by the untidy presence of lead-mines. Beyond Foxdale, indeed, the landscape improves as we skirt the east slopes of South Barrule, which have been covered of late years with extensive fir-plantings, and begin to descend the hill, with the sea splendidly conspicuous in front.


Up to 1862 this was the capital. The grim Castle with its massive keep overlooks the harbour and is one of the most interesting features of the island.

[p. 49]

A much better road is to take the lane due south from Peel that skirts the head of Glen Maye, and winds up to the pass on the west of South Barrule. This, of course, is a rougher route, and involves much additional hill. Better still for the pedestrian is a composite, roundabout way that follows the grand coast-line more or less closely to Port Erin, and bends thence to the east for Castletown. Two days may easily be spent on this last journey by sleeping at Port Erin, and spending the bulk of the following day in a leisurely exploration of the Calf.

From Peel the coast-line may be followed the whole distance to the mouth of Glen Maye; but the path, so far as it exists, is in places rather giddy, and approaches unpleasantly near to the edge of the cliff. We believe that it is examined every year before the beginning of the "season" to make sure that it has not slipped away in the winter months into the gulf below. All inland view is at first shut out by the huge green slopes of Peel Hill on our left; but presently, as we double Contrary Head, the fine southern range of mountain comprising Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa (1,449 feet), the Carnanes (1,000 feet), and Bradda Head (768 feet), is seen dropping to the sea, more directly and more abruptly than perhaps any other hills to the south of the Border (in Scotland it is [p. 50] matched on the southern coast of Mull), except perhaps Penmaenmawr and the north coast of Exmoor. The view hence, looking south, is impressive, or even deserves the epithet "grand"; at no other spot in the island do mountain and sea group in a single picture in such intimate proximity as here. At Glen Maye the line of cliff is abruptly interrupted by the little stream that here descends from Glen Rushen. The best of this glen is probably where it debouches on the sea; higher up, however, it becomes wooded, and exhibits a small waterfall, but is apt, perhaps, in "tripper-time" to be somewhat unpleasantly popular. At the head of the glen we regain the main road, by which we might have travelled, had we liked, directly from Peel. Passing the hamlet of Dalby, and always looking down on the sea on our right, we come shortly to a fork half a mile beyond the church, where a lane drops down due south (the right-hand branch of the fork) into the hollow of Dalby Lhag. At the bottom of this is a tiny rill pleasantly hidden among trees. We are now virtually at sea-level, but in the course of the next mile we rise nearly 800 feet. The ascent is by a kind of rocky staircase, in which the bare ribs of the earth have been stripped of their scanty [p. 51] covering of soil. At the top of this, where we join a better lane that comes over Cronk Fedjag, we strike away to the right, over high grass pastures, to the fairly obvious summit of Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa: the lane goes down to Port St. Mary (with a turn to the right for Port Erin), keeping the range of mountain between the sea and itself. On Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa and the neighbouring ridge of the Carnanes—the two are only severed by the sudden notch of the Slack—those who are free to wander may well wander a summer day, or bask a whole morning in the sunlight, stretched out on the scented turf,

While the dreaming man,
Half conscious of the soothing melody,
With sidelong eye looks out upon the scene.

It is astonishing that a hill-range of such minor elevation should clothe itself in attributes of such really mountainous dignity. From the end of the Carnanes we drop cautiously to the sea at Fleswick Bay, whence those who are weary of much up-and-down may soon make their way to Port Erin or Port St. Mary. Those, on the contrary, who are still eager for the hills may yet, if they like, make another pretty climb by scrambling up and over Bradda Head.

[p. 52]

Port Erin and Port St. Mary, though only a mile apart, are almost as different from one another—though, of course, in a different way—as are Lynton and Lynmouth, in Devonshire, or any other famous topographical twins. Those who prefer a watering-place that is almost wholly watering-place, and not yet spoilt by extravagant building (though the hands that direct its destinies had better call a halt); who are content to be included in a definite bay that is bounded by definite cliffs; and who are willing to look westward over unlimited space, in which the sun sinks magnificently in his "ocean-bath," will get what they like at Port Erin. Those, on the other hand, who like to face eastward, and to vary the monotony of the seascape by distant lines of low coast; who dislike to be cooped in a narrow space; and who ask the stronger local colour of a busy little port, will probably turn to Port St. Mary. Stat suus cuique honor: each may be praised without dispraising its rival; though the writer, were he asked, would find little difficulty in giving his casting vote between the two. In any case it is intolerable that the little Manx railway, when rebuilding Port St. Mary Station, should have built so conspicuous an erection in [p. 53] such hideous red-brick. They have done the same at Douglas and Peel. When will builders come to realize that red-brick of all complexions is wholly out of place in a land of grey and green?

Castletown, till 1862, was officially the capital of Man, and is still far the least "developed" of all its four principal towns. It is simply, in fact, a small, quiet country town, even less spoilt for visitors than the inland parts of Peel; though Peel, of course, exhibits, in its peerless St. Patrick's Isle, features of picturesqueness that we shall seek for in Castletown in vain. Castletown, no doubt, would be big and ugly if it could; and by making golf-links at Derby Haven it has certainly given hostages to fortune. After all, there is nothing to see in the place save Castle Rushen, which is principally keep, with a narrow ward, and an enceinte wall and ditch that surround the whole. So narrow a ward, and a keep so disproportionately big, can be matched perhaps only at Middleham, in Yorkshire—once the home of the "King-Maker"—where the keep is late Norman, and the enceinte fourteenth century. At Castletown, it is asserted, no part of the existing structure dates back earlier than the [p. 54] fourteenth, or at earliest the thirteenth, century; though the castle itself is said to have been founded—the account is perhaps mythical—by King Guthred the Dane in 947. The keep, moreover, though so-called in all the guide-books, is not really a keep at all—not a single solid tower, that is, in the sense of Middleham Castle, or, to take more familiar instances, in the sense of Rochester, Dover, or London. On the contrary it is really a minute inner ward surrounded by an enceinte of quite disproportionate height. Formerly, under the rule of the house of Stanley, it served, like the Tower and Windsor Castle, for castle and palace alike; after that the place was a prison; and now it is dismantled, save for a handful of rooms, some of which shelter the Manx Museum. Most of the apartments are gloomy enough, and one is glad to escape from them back into the sunlight: the great slabs of slate, however, that serve for floor or ceiling—some of them measure 12 feet in length—are surely without parallel elsewhere. The drawing-room, which is the biggest room in the castle, has now an interesting collection of Manx antiquities—e.g., old rushlight-holders, and the ancient Bishop's mace; but the object that strikes one most with [p. 55] amazement is the splendid skeleton of an Irish elk—an animal, of course, that has long since been extinct—which was found some sixteen years ago in a marl-pit near St. John's. This is said to be complete, and measures about 10 feet across the antlers—sufficient indication of its general gigantic size.

The Isle of Man, as belonging to the Stanleys, was pertinaciously Royalist in the great Civil War; and hither retired James, the seventh Earl of Derby, on July 30, 1644, after the crushing defeat at Marston Moor on the previous July 2 had finally shattered the cause of the King in the North. Here he resided with his family in Castle Rushen for the next six years; and well would it have been for him had he resided here till the end. On June 16, 1650, however, Charles II. landed in the Firth of Cromarty to commence the new campaign that was destined to end so disastrously at Worcester; and in the August of the following year Derby, in his turn, set foot again on English soil at Wyre Water, in Lancashire, having been selected by Charles in the previous year to command the Royalist levies out of Lancashire and Cheshire. On sailing for this expedition, from which he was fated never [p. 56] to return, he left his wife behind him at Castle Rushen, under the care of William Christian, who commanded the insular forces. The Countess was the famous Charlotte de la Trémoille, daughter of Claude de la Trémoille, Duc de Thouars, and was lineally descended, on her mother's side, from the great Dutch patriot, William the Silent. Already, in the course of the great Civil War, she had distinguished herself by the defence of Lathom House, in Lancashire, during the siege of which she had "rejected with scorn all proposals for surrender, declaring that she and her children would fire the castle and perish in the flames rather than yield." The fortunes of her husband need not now be further followed, save briefly to record that he was beheaded by the Parliament at Bolton on October 15, 1651, having been captured near Nantwich whilst trying to make his escape alone after the defeat at Worcester. The unfortunate Countess, on hearing of his arrest, at once despatched overtures to England proposing the surrender of the island in the hope of saving his life. Whether the proposal was scouted, or arrived too late, the Earl, we have seen, was put to death; and it is said that the first intimation that his unhappy wife received of it was a curt and brutal sentence (though it may not have been meant as such)—"the late Earl of Derby"—in a letter from Colonel Duckenfield that was delivered to her on October 29, calling on her to surrender Castle Rushen.


This is the most picturesque of the Manx towns and its Castle and Cathedral on St. Patrick's Isle are extremely interesting buildings.

[p. 57]

The Parliamentary troops had landed on the island two days previously, it is practically certain—though the point has been disputed—by the treachery of William Christian. The distracted Countess was apparently at first for holding out, but finally surrendered on November 3. She ultimately died at Knowsley, in 1664, and was buried near her husband in the parish church of Ormskirk. She had lived just long enough, however, to see summary vengeance executed on the traitor by her son, the eighth Earl. Christian, of course, was included in the general Act of Indemnity that alone rendered tolerable the return of Charles to England in 1660. Derby, however, was lord in Man, and claimed to exercise there peculiar sovereign powers in his own right. Christian was arrested, but refused to plead, and could not thus technically be brought to trial. "The Governor requested the deemsters and the House of Keys to inform him what the laws of the island [p. 58] provided should be done in the case of a prisoner refusing to plead. The reply was that the life and property of the recusant were at the absolute disposal of the lord of the island." In England the old remedy in such a case was pressing to death (the peine forte et dure), but the goods of the prisoner were not forfeited. It is said to have been for this very reason (that his property might descend to his heir), that Walter Calverley refused to plead when indicted at York for the murder of his children in 1605. On December 29 the deemster pronounced sentence of death on Christian, and four days later he was shot at Hango Hill on the seashore on the way to Derby Haven, and, roughly, a mile to the east of Castle Rushen. The spot is almost exactly opposite King William's College, and is marked by the slight ruins of a blockhouse that was built by the seventh Earl, and by the site of an ancient burial-ground. He was buried at Malew Church, as recorded in the parish register—the last two sentences in terrible opposition: "Mr. William Christian of Ronaldsway, late Receiver, was shot to death at Hangoe Hill, on January 2. He died most penitently and most courageously, made a good end, prayed earnestly, made an excellent [p. 59] speech, and the next day was buried in the chancel of Malew." The character of William Christian has been very variously estimated, but the islanders regarded him as a patriot martyr, who died for defending certain of their rights against the encroachments of the reigning house. "Baase Illiam Dhone" (The Death of Brown-haired William) "dwells on the retribution that befell the families of those who were responsible for his execution." On the other hand, it seems certain that Christian was accused in 1658 of having embezzled extensive revenues of the then sequestrated bishopric; and whether guilty of this or not—he was never brought to trial—he certainly fled to England, and this presupposes his guilt. Popular judgment and critical history thus often fall at loggerheads; Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who was beheaded at Pontefract in 1322, was honoured after his death almost as though a saint—Leland, writing in the time of Henry VIII., speaks of "the Hil, where the goode Duke of Lancastre was beheddid"—whilst the Dictionary of National Biography can find nothing better to say of him than that "despite his tragic end, it is difficult to say anything favourable of Thomas of Lancaster."

[p. 60]

In what has been said we have endeavoured to treat generally of all that is really best worth seeing in Man, dwelling briefly on those topics, whether of history or topography, that seem really of most validity, and passing in silence those aspects of the island—luckily few and often temporary—that appear to the writer not in harmony with its true and permanent charms, and in some cases even repellent. It would be pleasant in conclusion, did only space permit, to dig down a little deeper into the treasures of its place-names and local traditions, and to review the many quaint notices of its history and curiosities that are scattered up and down in the pages of old writers. It is not clear that Camden had ever visited Man, though he gives a short account of it at the end of his Magna Britannia. The natives, he observes, lived chiefly on oat-bread; whilst both the sheep and cattle were smaller than in England, "nor have they such stately fronts." Part of his description is embodied in a letter that was sent him by the Bishop, John Merrick. "The women," says this letter, "whenever they go out of their own houses, as if mindful of mortality wrap themselves up in the linen that is to serve for their [p. 61] shroud." Similarly, the late Augustus J. C. Hare says that a married woman in Northumberland, "in moments of gloom," will take out and try on her grave-clothes, which she always procures as part of her trousseau, "and find comfort in the inspection of the mournful linen." "Such women," continues the Bishop, "as are capitally convicted are sewed up in a sack and thrown from a rock into the sea. The natives in general are clear from stealing and begging from door to door, extremely religious, and to a man exact in their conformity to the church of England." Preaching in Jersey, in 1692, the learned Canon Falk thus boasted, in similar strain, that that island did not then contain a single dissenter. Giraldus Cambrensis, as cited by Camden, has a somewhat amusing story. The island lies, he tells us, "in the midway between the north of England and Ireland, occasioning no small dispute among the ancients to which of the two it belonged. The dispute was at last thus settled. As venomous creatures were found upon trial to live here, it was unanimously judged to the Britans." Ireland, it is well known, now possesses no poisonous reptiles: they were banished from its precincts by St. Patrick.

[p. 62]

Camden, very shrewdly, makes the further observation that "the natives, however, in language and manners come nearer the Irish, but with a small mixture of Norwegian." This is curiously confirmed by the modern study of place-names, which indicates a considerable Norse settlement. Other place-names are strongly Erse in character—e.g., the familiar Balla (in Ballasalla, Ballabooye, Ballaquine, etc., and ninety-three others). Slieau, as a generic name for mountain (Slieau Ruy, Slieau Ree, etc.), and Glen for a mountain-ravine. "The map of the island," says the late Canon Isaac Taylor, "contains about 400 names, of which about 20 per cent. are English, 21 per cent. are Norwegian, and 59 per cent. are Celtic. These Celtic names are all of the most characteristic Erse type." The old Manx language, in fact, is still not altogether dead, though one no longer hears it spoken as Welsh is spoken in Wales, or as Gaelic in the Highlands of Scotland. Gough, in his additions to Camden, prints two specimens of this old tongue, though the present writer will not vouch for their orthography. The charitable disposition of the people, he says, "is marked by this proverb: Tra tayn derrey vought cooney lesh [p. 63] bought alley, ta fee heme garaghtee: i.e., When one poor man relieves another, God Himself laughs outright for joy." "It is curious to observe," adds Canon Isaac Taylor—if we may revert for the moment to the subject of place-names—"that the names which denote places of Christian worship are all Norwegian; they are an indication of the late date at which heathenism must have prevailed, and help to explain the fact that so many heathen superstitions and legends still linger in the island."

[p. 64]


The principal reference is given first after names.

Quick Links to Index Letters
[A]    [B]    [C]     [D]    [E]    [F]     [G]    [H]    [I]     [L]    [M]    [N]     [P]    [R]     [S]    [T]    [W]    

Andreas, 21

"Baase Illiam Dhone," 59
Ballaugh, 18
Baregarrow, 31
Barrule, N., 6, 18, 31, 44
"       S., 31, 48
Beinn-y-Phott, 38, 18, 37
Bishop's Court, 30, 29
Bradda Head, 8, 31, 49, 51
Bride, 21

Calf, The, 48, 49
Carnanes, The, 49, 51
Carraghan, 37
Castle Rushen, 53, 28
Castletown, 53, 10
Christian, William, 56, 57
Clagh Ouyre, 18, 38
Cobham, Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, 13
Colden, 18, 20, 37
Contrary Head, 49
Corna Dale, 43, 44
Cronk Fedjag, 51
Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa, 51, 38, 49
Cronk Urleigh, 31
Curraghs, The, 21

Dalby, 50
"     Lhag, 50
Deemsters, The, 23, 22
Derby, Charlotte de la Trémoille, Countess of, 56
Derby Haven, 53
Derby, James, Earl of, 55
Dhoon Glen, 45
Douglas, 7, 10

Eagle Mount, 31

Fleswick Bay, 51
Foxdale, 48

Glen Audyn, 39
"   Helen, 19
"   Laxey, 45
"   Maye, 50
"   Mooar, 36
"   Roy, 45
"   Rushen, 50
Great Wheel, The, 46
Greeba Castle, 19
"     Mill, 18
"     Mountain, 18
Guthred the Dane, King, 54

Hall Caine, Mr., 19
Hango Hill, 58
House of Keys, 23

Injebreck, 37, 7
Irish Elk, 55

John, Presbyter, 44

Jurby, 21

Keeil Woirrey, 43
King William's College, 58
Kirk Braddon, 21, 42
"    Maughold, 8, 21, 40
Kirkmichael, 8, 18, 25, 42

Laxey, 45, 36, 39
Le Scroop, Sir William, 26
Levinz, Bishop Baptist, 27
Lhargey Ruy, 18

Malew Church, 58
Manx arms, 26
"    Crosses, 41, 40, 21, 29
"    Museum, 54
Merrick, Bishop John, 60

Neb, River, 10, 19

Peel, 10, 7, 8
"    Bay, 11
"    Cathedral, 21
"    Hill, 49
Port Erin, 52, 7
"    St. Mary, 52
Pre-conquest architecture, 11

Ramsey, 39, 7, 18
Reneuriling, Hill of, 31
Rhenass Fall, 20
"      River, 35
Round Tower, 11
Russel, Bishop Thomas, 30
Russel, Bishop William, 30
Rutter, Bishop Samuel, 12

Saint Germain's Cathedral, 12
"    John's, 18, 22, 55
"    Maughold's Head, 40
"    Patrick's Island, 11, 8, 10
"    Trinian's Chapel, 19
Sart Fell, 20, 31, 35
Slack, The, 51
Slieau Dhoo, 31
"    Froghane, 31
"    Ruy, 18
Snaefell, 33, 7, 18, 24, 31, 32, 36, 38, 46
Sodor and Man, Bishopric of, 30
Spanish Head, 48
Spectre "Dog," 14
Stanley, Sir John, 26
Stanley, Sir Thomas, 13
Sulby, 18
"    Glen, 31, 32, 36

Tholt-y-Wilt, 36
Tynwald Hill, 22, 31

Wilson, Bishop Thomas, 25


[p. 65]

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