[From Manx Soc vol 3 - part 1 Letter of James 7th Earl]


1.–The Isle of Man sometime governed by Kings, natives of its own. 2.–Druids there–Converted by St. Patrick. 3.–Given by Henry IV. to Sir John Stanley–Ile and his heirs styled Kings till Earl Thomas II., thence only Lords. 4.–Disputed between the three daughters of Earl Ferdinand and his brother brilliant–Settled by Act of Parliament (through Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, and his niece the Countess of Derby's means) on William, with the words jura regalia, &c. 5.–The Bishop, 6–and Governor, chosen by the Lord, which last is Chancellor–Two Deemsters (or Judges of Common Law) and Twenty-four Keys, natives.

THE Kingdom of Man belongeth to the House of Derby, in which family the Lord continue it while men live on earth. It hath heretofore been governed by kings, natives, and others. Sometimes conquered, and (sometimes) gallantly defended; as in story you may read.

2. There have certain wise men dwelt there, who were called Druids, of whom be many pleasant tales. Among other matters, they had skill by enchantment to make mists, whereby they hid themselves from their enemies; at other times offended them. But when St. Patrick, or some holy man (as divers do believe), came here, they had no farther power; but, being taught Christianity, became Christians, and so have continued to this day.

3. It was given by Henry IV. to Sir John Stanley, who was called King of Man, and so styled himself and all his successors to Thomas II., Earl of Derby, as appears by several writings under their own hands.* But since, of modesty or policy–I know not well which,–they have called themselves only Lords of Man.+

4. Upon the death of Ferdinand, Farl of Derby (who left three daughters and no son), it was disputed betwixt the coheirs and William, brother to Ferdinand. In King James's time the matter was ended, and, by Act of Parliament, it was settled to William and his son James, and their heirs for ever. Robert (Cecil), Earl of Salisbury, was a good friend in the business; and Elizabeth, Countess of Derby (wife to William, daughter to the Earl of Oxford, and niece to the said Earl of Salisbury), did follow that business also very close. It is confirmed by the said Act of Parliament unto the House of Derby, with the words "jura regalia," &c., and as full of power as Sir John Stanley had it.:++

5. The Bishop is chosen by the Lord; the Bishopric is in the province of York.

6. The Lord appoints a Governor–sometimes called Captain, sometimes Lieutenant–who hath the power of the Lord in his absence. He keepeth the Chancery Court, where he sitteth Judge. There be two Deemsters or Judges also, chosen by the Lord; most commonly natives, by reason of the language. They be Judges of the Common Law. There are four-and-twenty called Keys,who, in all great matters concerning the country, are advised withal. Sometimes there be four of every parish joined with them, by order of the Lord, when any great matter concerning the land is in hand. But more particularly hereof if I have leisure [when] I will annex hereunto some more perfect description of this Island and laws. And, before I proceed farther in my intended discourse, I think fit to tell you, as briefly as I can, the occasion of my coming thither this time.

* In the 7 Henry IV., upon the forfeiture of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, Sir John Stanley being sent to seize the Isle of Man, formerly given to that Earl, obtained a grant in fee of the same isle, castle, and pole, and all the isles adjacent; as also of all the regalities, franchises, and rights "hereunto belonging, and patronage of the bishopric there; to be held of the King, his heirs, and successors, by homage, the service of two falcons, payable on the days of their coronation.–Dugd. (d Pat. 7 I/. 4 M. 18) II. 247 b.

+ Thomas came to be earl 1 Edward IV, and the Isle of Man and title of king being given to his ancestors by Henry IV. (the chief of the House of Lancashire, who took it from Northumberland, a friend of the House of York), it was very prudent in Earl Thomas II. (now Edward IV the chief of the House of York was come to the Crown) to waive his title of king, and content himself with that of Lord of Man.

++ Upon the death of Ferdinand, Earl of Derby, who had three daughters– Anne, married to Grey Bruges Lord Chandos; Frances, to Sir John Egerton, Knt. (afterwards Earl of Bridgewater); and Elizabeth, to Henry Lord Hastings (afterwards Earl of Huntingdon)–William, his brother and heir male, succeeding him in his honours, a dispute arose betwixt those heirs female of him, touching the title to the Isle of Man. Queen Elizabeth, therefore, not being ignorant that not only divers runagates of the English, but Spaniards (her enemies) might resort thither, committed the charge thereof to Sir Thomas Gerard, Knt. (afterwards Lord Gerard), till that controversy should be judicially determined The decision of which point being brought before her learned council, they declared that the right thereof did solely appertain to her Majesty; and that the Stanleys and Earls of Derby had no good title thereto; by reason that King Henry IV., shortly after he attained the crown of thus realm, upon the outlawry of William Scrope (then Lord thereof), bestowed it on Henry, Earl of Northumberland; and, upon his rebellion (about six years after), granted it to Sir John Stanley for life, Northumberland not then losing by Parliament attainted, nor his possessions adjudged to be confiscate; as also, for that (about a month after) Stanley and the King agreed that those letters patent to him for his life should be surrendered and cancelled and that he should have an estate thereof in fee. So that, considering the grant for life was before such time as the King was legally entitled to make by Northumberland's attainder, they pronounced that the King could not pass unto him any estate for life; as also that the other grant, which had its foundation from the surrender of the estate for life, could not be of any validity. Whereupon the Queen referring them to the law, this Earl came to an agreement with those heirs female (daughters to Ferdinand, Earl of Derby, before mentioned), paying them divers sums of money to quit their claim thereto; as also with Thomas Lord Ellesmere (then Lord Chancellor of England), and Alice, his wife, widow of the same Earl Ferdinand. And, as to the King's title, obtained a grant from him of the said isle, with all the regalities belonging to it, unto himself, and to the Lady Elizabeth, his wife, for life; as also to the survivor of them; and after that unto James Lord Stanley (for so he is called), his son and heir, and to the heirs male of his body; the remainder to Robert Stanley, younger brother to the said Jam - , and the heirs male of his body; and for default of such issue, to the heirs male of the body of the said Earl. Which grant bears date 7 July, vii. Jac. I., and was ratified, together with that agreement with the coheirs before mentioned by a special Act of Parliament, dated 9 Feb., vii. Jac. I., as by the record thereof returned into the Chancery, by writ of certiorarii bearing date 30 July, viii. Jac. I., appeareth–Dugd., Bar, vol. ii. p. 250 b.


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