The Isle of Man


Most people that peruse these web pages will know very little about the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man lies in the middle of the Irish Sea almost equidistant between England and Ireland but closer to Scotland than to Wales.

One of the things that people find most surprising about the Isle of Man is that is not part of the United Kingdom but is a Crown Possession with a large degree of independence. The Isle of Man has its own Government and unlike Scotland and Wales, it has no representatives in Westminster.

Originally Celtic, it was conquered by the Vikings and became part of the Viking Kingdom of Sodor and Mann (Sodor being the Southern Scottish Islands). The Southern Scottish Islands were eventually lost leaving Mann to be ruled by it’s own Kings before being conquered by Scotland and then English Lords. It came into the possession of the Stanley family in 1405 who were also made Earls of Derby in 1485 and then when there were no male heirs in 1736 it passed to the Dukes of Atholl. The Derby’s felt that the title of King might make them unpopular with the English Crown and decided to give up the title in 1505 and became Lords of Mann instead, on the grounds that it would be better to “be a great Lord than a petty King”. The third Duke of Atholl was induced in 1765 to surrender the regality and customs duties to the Crown for £70,000 and an annuity of £2,000 after pressure from England because the Island had become a major smuggling centre and a refuge for debtors in the Eighteenth Century. The Fourth Duke was appointed Governor of the Island in 1793. He felt that the compensation accepted by his predecessors was insufficient and after more haggling his remaining privileges were bought for £417114. Since then the Crown has been represented on the Island by a Lieutenant Governor with the Queen or King being Lord of Mann. Today the Isle of Man is largely self-governing, though to avoid customs, indirect taxation is the same as the UK.

Information can be found at on the Manx coat of arms and other state symbols. A brief history of the Island can be found at

The Isle of Man’s separate history meant that it developed its own language, Manx Gaelic. Manx Gaelic is still taught in the schools but as a working language it died out in the 19th Century when those who spoke it were socially frowned upon. Today there is a revival movement, which has had some success. The language remains largely in use on the Island for place and house names though there are moves to increase its use. gives more information on the language, coinage and stamps of the Island. You can listen to Manx Gaelic phrases at

The Island’s Viking heritage also resulted in the survival of Viking democracy. While the Isle of Man claims to have the longest surviving democratic government, for long periods in its history this was in name only. The Vikings had annual meetings called things or tings. At these meetings all freemen would gather, new laws would be read, disputes settled and grievances aired. On the Isle of Man this meeting survived as Tynwald. Tynwald derives from the Old Norse for the meeting place of the thing. Its continuation was useful to absentee Lords or Kings on their occasional visits to the Island as a way of introducing themselves. The House of Keys, which is the main chamber of the Manx Parliament, was self-elected until 1866. In recent decades the right of individuals to present a petition for redress of grievance, which the Government must investigate, has been re-established and has become of some importance. Tynwald Day is normally held on the 5th July and is a Manx National Holiday. Further information on Tynwald day can be found at

The Manx National Anthem can be heard at (traditionally only the first verse is sung). The Isle of Man is sometimes called Mona but its Manx name is Ellan Vannin and that is the name of an unofficial national anthem that can be heard at The Bee Gees also made a recording of this and their version can be found at Other well known Manx songs are “The Laxey Wheel” which can be heard at and the Ellan Vannin Tragedy

The Isle of Man has many differences from the larger islands that surround it. Some of the most noticeable are:
1. Peel Castle, which is a fortified cathedral;
2. The four-horned Loughtan Sheep;
3. The Manx Cat which has no tail;
4. The Lady Isabella which is the world’s largest water wheel

The Island has many attractions - gives some in Douglas. Douglas is the capital of the Island. For a gallery of images of Douglas including many old nineteenth and twentieth century photos see In addition, a brief history of Douglas can be found at

Many pictures of the Island can be found at and

Webcams can be found at and

If you want to see more of the Island has a collection of short videos of the Island’s main towns, of Snaefell which is the Island’s only mountain (just!), Cregneash (an historic village), and the Lady Isabella at Laxey. A brief outline of the Island’s details and an introduction to the Island’s main towns can be found at

The Isle of Man is famous for its motor sports especially the TT when the Island is saturated with bikes. A good introduction to the TT experience can be found at and short videos can be found at

If you are researching ancestry then the following websites might be useful:

  • Nigel Crowe’s pages also may be of interest though not all the links work.
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