[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]


The following quaint description of the Isle of Man is taken from a very scarce old book known as " A Mirrour or Looking Glass, both for Saints and Sinners," by Samuel Clark, late Pasteur in Bennet Fink, published in London, 1671:

Man is situated, in that part of the British Sea that is called St. George's Channel. It lyes. between England and Ireland, containing in length about thirty miles, the broadest place exceeds not nine miles, the narrowest is not lesse than five. Generally its an high land upon the sea coasts, defended with rocks lying out into the sea. The harbours for shiping are:-1, Douglas, the safest; 2, Rainsway; 3, Ramsey; 4, Laxie, all towards England; and Peel, a poor harbour, facing Ireland. It abounds with springs of water, which make diverse usefull rivolets; the soil is indifferently frudtfull, yet much of it is mountainous. It yields rie, wheat, barley, but especially oates, of which they make their bread. Its stored with beasts; sheep of a coarse wooll, horses of a small size, and goates ; there is no want of fish, and plenty of fowl. The aire is quick and healthfull; frosts short and seldome. Snow will soon dissolve because of the vicinity of the sea; and it is subject to extraordinary high winds. The inhabitants are civil and laborious; their drink water; their meat fish; their bedding generally hay or straw; they are much addicted to the musick of the violine, so that there is scarce a family but more or lesse can play upon it; they are ingenious in learning manufactures, and bear a great esteem and reverence to the public service of God. Naturally they are unchaste. Anno Christi 1649, it was given by the Parliament to Thomas Lord Fairfax, as a reward of the great services he had done for them.

This is from another scarce work, entitled " England's Remarques : Giving an Exact Account of the Several Shires, Counties, and Islands in England and Wales." Published in London, 1678:

I. of Man Island.

The Island lyeth open on the East against Lancashire; on the West against Ireland; on the South against Anglesey; and on the Nortth against Scotland. It containeth in length 35 miles. In breadth (in the broadest place) 10 miles; and in circumference 82 miles. The chief commoditees are corn, cattel, fish, hemp, tatted, and by the industry of the inhabitants yieldeth sufficient of everything for itself, and a moderate supply for other countries. The air is cold and sharp, and needs must, having for a shelter nothing but a wall of water. The soil is reasonable fruitful, both for corn and flax

The people of the Island are happy in this: That all controversies are there determined by certain judges (whom they call Deemsters, chosen among themselves) without writings or other charges. If any complaint be made to the magistrate of wrong done or received, he presently takes up a stone, and fixeth his mark upon it, and delivereth it to the plaintiff; by virtue of which he both calls his adversary to appearance and also summons his witnesses. If the case is more difficult or litigious, and cannot be ended by the magistrate, it is then referred to 12 men, whom they term " The Keys of the, Island."

This Island is so well managed for Civil Rule and Government, that every man there possesseth his own in peace and safety. No man liveth in fear of losing what he hath. And the men there are not inclinable to robbery, pilfering, or licentious living. The inhabitants are generally religiously given, and do much reverence to their .pastors, daily frequenting the church, and avoiding all controversies, either ecclesiastical or civil. The gentry do much imitate the people of Lancashire, both for their honest carriage and good house-keeping.

Streatham. G. W. W.


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2004