[From Isle of Man, Cumming 1848]


THE following work originated in the desire expressed by some friends, whose judgement I value, that I would place before the public in a popular form the substance of my memoirs upon the physical history of the Isle of Man, which have appeared in the numbers of the ‘ Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London ;‘ I was the more inclined so to do from observing that a deficiency existed on matters connected with natural history in all works upon the island hitherto published, and from finding that on one subject, its geology, peculiar circumstances enabled me to supply information not possessed by any other.

The most simple and popular method of communicating that information, as it appeared to me, was to transfer from my field-book the notes of the different geological traverses I have made during the last seven years in various parts of the island.

In doing this I could hardly pass by the spots rendered interesting by their connection with events in Manx civil and ecclesiastical history without some notice of them ; and even the Fairy legends and Ghost stories, deeply interwoven with and illustrating the character of the native population, obtruded themselves upon my memory, and seemed not altogether unworthy of being perpetuated. My work has thus taken a somewhat wider range than I had originally intended. How far I have succeeded in throwing interest into a subject to all but geologists I fear very dry, I must leave to the reader to determine. I believe however that this little book will be found to contain a faithful summary of all that is really known of the past periods of the insular history, and that nothing is omitted which it is important a stranger should be made acquainted with in order that he may form a just estimate of the present condition and prospects of this island country. ‘ At the same time it presents a fuller itinerary than can be elsewhere met with ; and if I have deviated in some respects from the route generally taken by tourists, it is to draw attention to some peculiar features in Manx scenery which a casual visitor would be almost sure to miss, and with which even many residents are unacquainted.

For the geological portion of the book I myself am solely and altogether responsible. The memoirs previous to my own having been drawn up at a period when Geology was in its infancy, those who are acquainted with the rapid advance which it has made in late years will be prepared to expect some addition to those accounts in any work now published on the same subject. The maps and sections which I have made as they appear in this work, compared with those previously existing, will show that these additions are considerable, as also the catalogues of fossils recorded from this locality, the number of which I have raised from about twenty to upwards of two hundred and fifty.

Mr. George Wood’s account of the Isle of Man, published in 1811, contains the earliest geological notice of it, and is pretty accurate as respects the older rocks. Dr. Berger resided here a considerable time, and in 1814 a memoir of his was published in the second volume of the First Series of the ‘ Transactions of the Geological Society ;‘ and this, together with a supplementary account by Professor Henslow in the fifth volume of that series, furnishes a correct view of the extent of geological information at that time possessed respecting the Isle of Man.

Dr. Macculloch in 1819, in his account of the Western Isles of Scotland (vol. ii. p. 516), made an addition to the previous notices; and an interesting memoir by Dr. Hibbert on the discovery of the Megaceros Hibernicus or Fossil Elk in the Isle of Man, will be found in the fifth number of the Edinburgh Journal of Science, published in 1826.

H.H. Oswald, Esq., of Douglas, also published a pamphlet on the stratification of alluvial deposits in 1823. The only other and latest notice with which I am acquainted, is the extremely interesting paper on the Pleistocene formation of the north of the island, by Hugh Strickland, Esq., F.G.S., in the fourth volume of the Second Series of the Proceedings of the Geological Society, read November 2nd, 1843.

The materials for a General History of the island are apparently copious, but in reality very scanty, as a close examination will show that the majority of the numerous writers of later years have gone on borrowing from their predecessors without materially adding to the information previously possessed, and ofttimes without any acknowledgment. Tradition runs, that on the Scottish conquest of the island in 1270, Mary, the daughter of Reginald, last king but one of the race of Goddard Crovin, and lawful heir to the crown on the death of her uncle Magnus without issue, was secretly conveyed away with all the public deeds and charters, and that thence has arisen the dearth of records prior to that period.

It is a happy circumstance that the Chronicle of Man and the Isles, commencing at the period of the Norman Conquest of England, and continued to that of the Scottish Conquest of Man, written by the Monks of Rushen Abbey, has been preserved. It seems to have been conveyed at this latter time to the Abbey of Furness in Lancashire, of which Rushen was a dependent, and ultimately to have been deposited in the British Museum, where it now is. It was abridged by Camden for his history, and was also published, with an English translation, by Mr. Johnstone, rector of Maghera-Cross, in his ‘ Antiquitates (Celto-Normaniae,’ printed at Copenhagen in 1786. I have used a copy of the latter, belonging to the library of the University of Cambridge. I have not had an opportunity. of closely comparing the two, though I took notes from an old copy of Camden in the University library ; but it appears from Mr. Gough’s edition in 1789 that they were printed from two different manuscripts, and he prefers that of Camden to Mr. Johnstone’s, because in the latter the dates have been corrected in the margin by the editor; but in Camden’s manuscript itself they are correct. Camden begins with the death of Edward the Confessor in 1065, and Johnstone forty-seven years sooner. Camden’s . ends A.D. 1266, the Scottish Conquest, but has been con-tinned by a later hand till 1316. Johnstone’s copy ends in 1376, and contains some additional matter foreign to the history of the island. They are no doubt both ancient ; and I think it probable that after the removal to Furness a copy may have been made from that which Camden followed somewhere towards the close of the fourteenth century, and that this is the copy followed by Johnstone. The change of hand at the date 1266 in Camden’s copy is extremely interesting, and seems to me an indication of its genuineness. James Chaloner; Esq., Governor of the Isle of Man under Lord Fairfax in 1658, and William Sacheverell, Esq., Governor from 1691 to 1696, have each left an account of the island of extreme interest, of which I have had copies by me continually in drawing up the civil and ecclesiastical history portion of this volume.

Through the kindness of Mark Quayle, Esq., Clerk of the Rolls, I have had the use of a manuscript in his possession , written at the close of the civil wars by a gentleman, an unknown author, who states that he retired hither from Wales during the troubles of that period. As I find the restoration of the island to Charles, son of James the illustrious seventh Earl of Derby, in 1660, recorded in the same hand as that of the rest of the manuscript, but the name of his successor William, in 1672, in a different hand, we must determine the date of this manuscript history between those two periods. I am inclined to think that this manuscript was used by Governor Sacheverell in his account ; for he states in his introduction that " there is not one who has given any tolerable account of the isle except Mr. James Chaloner, Governor for Lord Fairfax, and the gentleman (who has not been so kind as to transmit his name to posterity) out of whose papers I have drawn the ensuing essay ;" and on comparing Mr. Quayle’s manuscript with Sacheverell’s account, I find that in some places they agree almost word for word. This manuscript is well-worthy of being published : it was seen by Mr. Feltham, who refers to it in his Tour through the Island, published in 1798. In 1731, Waldron’s description of the Isle of Man was published in folio : it is more a romance than a history, and abounds in some of the strangest legends of his day, and in vulgar abuse of the ecclesiastical rule of Bishop Wilson. Bishop Wilson himself drew up a short account, which appears in his works edited by Crutwell : it is very valuable as a faithful continuation of the former accounts, and gives a clear insight into the condition of the island in his episcopate of more than half a century : I have found it extremely useful in many points pertaining to the ecclesiastical history of the isle.

Seacombe’s ‘ Memoirs of the House of Stanley,’ 1783, borrows largely from Sacheverell in the description of the Isle of Man, but furnishes valuable additional information, and is a useful book. There is also in 12mo a history of the island by Rolt in 1782.

Feltham’s Tour in 1797—98 is a very faithful statement, and as the materials of it were collected in the various parishes with much personal labour, it is by far the most trustworthy of more modern accounts.

Mr. Wood’s account, to which allusion has already been made, contains much information not elsewhere to be met with, and may be well studied.

We have also Quayle’s ‘Agricultural Survey of the Isle of Man,’ drawn up for the consideration of the Board of Agriculture in 1794, and reprinted in 1811, and the ‘Report of His Majesty’s Commissioners for the Isle of Man,’ 1792, both of them standard books of reference, as also are Mill’s ‘ Ancient Ordinances and Statute Laws of the Isle of Man,’ and a book entitled ‘ Isle of Man Charities,’ published in 1831 . Of Townley’s Journal, Bullock’s History, and Jeffery’s Description, I can only say that perhaps it would have been better had they not been written.

The latest and most complete work is that of Mr. Train, in two volumes 8vo, in which he has brought together with much labour and research, a great variety of documents bearing on our insular history, and has elucidated from external records the more obscure portion lying between the fifth and tenth centuries, as well as checked the chronology of the Rushen Chronicle by comparison with the Norse Sagas and Irish Annals. For this portion of the civil history I have constantly referred to his account. It is to be regretted that in the later portion of his work he has not sufficiently distinguished between what is and what was, and that from his residing at a distance from the island he has been obliged to trust to the reports of persons not always the best qualified to give information: he has thus been unwittingly led into several grave errors. I do not feel responsible for the orthography of Manx names, which never appear to have been fixed by any definite authority. The name of the island itself is variously written Man and Mann by the best writers and in public documents, in some of which we also find it written Manne. The first which I have adopted seems to be that in more general use.

As connected with the ancient history of the island, I have given at page 34 the date A .D. 947 to the building of Castle Rushen, from an oak-beam discovered in some repairs in 1815, in which it occurs in relief along with certain apparently very ancient characters. This is not to be taken as the date of the great central pile forming the keep, of which the architecture is of the twelfth century, with some windows of later insertion, but of that portion of it which forms the Sally-port, which is plainly of more ancient workmanship. Some doubt has been expressed as to the genuineness of this date from the employment of the Arabic numerals. Mr. Hallam, in his Introduction to the ‘ Literature of Europe,’ vol. i. p. 1 50, refers to a common literary tradition, ascribing the introduction of these numerals into Europe from the Saracens by Gerbert, near the close of the tenth century. It is however somewhat singular that we have another example to bring forward of the apparent employment of these figures in a very early record connected with the Isle of Man. In a note to the second canto of Sir Walter Scott’s ‘ Lord of the Isles,’ an account is given of an ancient chalice, bearing in Saxon black letter, very distinct, the following legend :—

proposed to be read thus : " Ufo Johannis Mich Magni Principis de Hr Manae Vich Liahia Magryneil et Sperat Domino Jhesu Dan Clementiam Illorum Opera. Fecit Anno Domini 993. Onili Oimi."—Lord of the Isles, p. 207, ed. 1833.

Some doubt has been thrown upon the genuineness of this inscription, inasmuch as there is no recorded Magnus Prince of Man of so early a date as 993. It is clear, however, that a question may be raised whether this date is read right, for only the Arabic figures 93 occur in the inscription, and the position of the (3lr) leads us to presume it may have been misread for ii~v (Nostri), or ~1k~ (Mille) ; the date may perhaps be 1093, at which period Magnus Bare-foot (as will be seen in p. 46, chap. 5 of this work) had seized upon and was actually in possession of the Land of Man. It has been supposed that both in the case of this chalice and of the carved oak-beam in Castle Rushen, the dates have been inserted at a later period. It may be so; the two circumstances are however worth recording ; and it may be as well to note that there is some evidence that Arabic figures were in use before the method of calculating by them was understood ; and it appears from a note in Mr. Hallam’s ‘ Literature of Europe,’ vol. i. p. 150, that there is in the British Museum a manuscript (number 343 of the Arundel MSS.) which has been referred to the twelfth century by some competent judges, in which the author uses nine digits, but none for ten or zero, as is also the case in a MS. of Boethius. This I suspect is the case also on the chalice under consideration.

With respect to the date on a doorway in Castle Rushen, mentioned in p. 62, I have learnt that it is a forgery.

An interesting relic of Peel Cathedral is preserved, which I have not mentioned in the body of the work, viz. the remains of a painted window, in which, amongst other devices, we have connected with the arms of Man the singular monogram of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is a valuable addition to the links which connect Queen Elizabeth with this isle ; the others will be read of at pages 59 and 95. It is in the possession of the family of the late Clerk of the Rolls.

My thanks are greatly due to the President and Council of the Geological Society for their kindness in allowing me the use of the lithographic stones, from which have been taken Plates I. and II., containing the general map of the island and the southern basin denuded of the tertiary formations. The map of the southern basin, including the tertiary formations ; the map of Poolvash Bay ; the map of the island in 1595, and several new sections taken on different traverses at several parts of the island, together with some slight emendations on sections previously published, will, I hope, be found desirable additions to the geological portion of this work.

I am under great personal obligation to our leading geologists for the very kind interest they have expressed in the work, many of whose names appear as subscribers to it. Independently of their suggestions at various times in tracing out the geology of this area, the catalogues of fossils have been greatly increased by their kind inspection of the contents of my cabinet ; in this particular I would mention with gratitude the names of Count Keyserling, the eminent States’ Geologist of Russia ; D. T. Ansted, Esq., F.R.S. and G.S., Professor of Geology, King’s College, London ; E. Forbes, Esq., F.R.S., L.S. and G.S., Professor of Botany in the same University, and Palaeontologist ; the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain ; and also of my friend John Morris, Esq., F.G.S., of Kensington. The late Mr. Gilbertson also, whose name is well known in connexion with the fossils of the Carboniferous lime-stone, did me great service in naming several species of Brachiopoda which I submitted to him.

My most grateful acknowledgements are still further due to Professor Edward Forbes for the very valuable paper which he has contributed to this work on the Flora of this his native isle. His labours in its marine fauna are already well known, both from his work entitled ‘ Malachologia Monensis,’ and also the more extensive undertaking and most valuable volume, the ‘ British Star-fishes.’

To the Board of Northern Lights, Edinburgh, and to their engineer, Allan Stevenson, Esq., an expression of my best thanks is tendered for the very liberal manner in which they have placed at my disposal the whole of their volumes of meteorological observations made at the Point of Ayr and Calf of Man Lighthouse during the last twenty-five years.

My thanks are due to my kind friend, George Kemp, Esq., M.D., of St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, for a determination by analysis of the percentage of lime in the Pleistocene marls of the north and south of the island. Edward Delamotte, Esq., Professor of Landscape Drawing in the Military College, Sandhurst, has my warmest thanks for the extremely faithful manner in which he has expressed upon stone the geological features of the country, and greatly added to the embellishment of this work. I have to acknowledge also favours of the pencil from my friend Alfred Lemon, Esq., and my quondam pupil Mr. Hugh Kewley.

My grateful acknowledgements are due to Mark Quayle, Esq., Clerk of the Rolls, as well for the use of the ancient MS. history of the island before noticed, as for much valuable information on legal subjects connected with the civil and ecclesiastical history of the isle.

I owe similar acknowledgements to many other gentlemen holding official appointments, and also to those connected with the different mining companies.

To the Venerable the Archdeacon and the Clergy generally, I tender my best thanks for the readiness with which they have answered my inquiries on many points connected with the Church of the Isle of Man.

F. C. Skrimshire, Esq., Her Majesty’s Agent for the Woods and Forests, has furnished me with valuable details of that portion of the insular revenue with which he is connected. To the late lamented Robert M’Guffog, Esq., I am indebted for the return of the income and expenditure in the Customs’ department.

Samuel Harris, junior, Esq., Tithe Agent for the Island, has most liberally supplied me with the details of the ecclesiastical revenue ; and I am indebted for an account of the herring-fishery to Mr. James Mackenzie, officer of the Isle of Man fisheries.

In throwing so much matter into the Appendix, I have acted on a desire to remove as much as possible dry details from the body of the work, so that it might read as one continuous narrative. The Appendix, as it has cost me more labour, so it will be found to contain the most important information in the book. The headings of the chapters form a kind of general index to their contents. It may be desirable for those who are not interested in geological questions, to omit Chapters X. and XV.

J. G. C.

King William’s College, Isle of Man,

May 1st, 1848.

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