Let us Examine "Mr" Howes claim
- From: jimbms@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2008 03:17:42 -0800 (PST)
The Rulers of the Isle of Man
It would be too great a diversion here to delve deeply into the
history of the Isle of Man, and the role played in it by the Stanley
family. Nevertheless, a brief encapsulation of it is necessary in
order to appreciate the claims made by Howe, and to determine how
inaccurate and misleading they are.
A reputable history of the island may be found in An Abstract of the
Laws, Customs and Ordinances of the Isle of Man, J. Parr, Manx Society
vol. 12, Douglas, 1866 ("MS12"). It is avalable online through google
books. I have used it as the basis for the following paragraphs.
Man was anciently an independent kingdom. After centuries of rule by
Viking chieftains suzerainty was ceded to the Scots in 1266.
Subsequent claims were made by the English Crown. The King of England
was effectively the feudal overlord of Man by 1290 and the English
monarchs made several dispositions of it thereafter.
In effect, the local rulers of Man (who were usually not themselves
resident on the island) were usually hereditary tenants of the English
King, and were drawn from among his retainers, albeit favouring those
with an interest in the island.
We see this instanced in various ways: when a grant lapsed (for
instance, at the death of a life tenant, or upon forfeiture), Man
reverted to the English Crown [MS12, pp 26, 29], and the English
monarch was not infrequently called upon to adjudicate over the
lordship of Man and its incidents [MS12, p 35].
On 9 August 1333 King Edward III granted the Isle of Man absolutely to
William de Montacute, 1st Earl of Salisbury [MS12, p 22]; his son
succeeded him in 1344, and many years afterwards sold the island and
its lordship to William le Scrope [MS12, pp 22-23; ODNB, biographies
of the 1st and 2nd Earls of Salisbury by W.M. Ormrod and J.L. Leland
Scrope obtained the Isle of Man in 1392 or 1393 but found himself on
the wrong side of the revolution of 1399, when Richard II was replaced
by his cousin Henry IV. The new king had Scrope executed, and his
property forfeited to the English Crown, who took back the Isle of
Man, citing the doctrine of conquest [MS12, p 22 et seq; ODNB
biography of William Scrope by Brigette Vale].
Then, on 19 October 1399, a further grant was made to Henry Percy,
Earl of Northumberland, pursuant to which the island was "to be held
for ever of us and our heirs by service", thus emphasising Henry IV's
continuing suzerainty [MS12, p 23]. But Percy too fell into disfavour,
having sided with the King's enemies, and consequently the Isle of Man
was given to the Stanley family [MS12, pp 23-27].
We can trace the progress of the Stanleys' possession in the Calendar
of Patent Rolls, online here:
11 June 1405: Protection given to Sir William Stanley and others,
going on the King's service to take the Isle of Man into the King's
6 April 1406: Grant to John Stanley, knight, and his heirs and
assigns, in lieu of a grant to him for life, surrendered to be
cancelled, of the island, castle, peel and lordship [sic] of Man and
all islands and lordships pertaining to the island, not exceeding the
value of £400 yearly, to hold with royal rights, royalties,
franchises, liberties, etc, by service of rendering to the King two
falcons immediately after doing homage and to the King's heirs two
falcons on the days of their coronations as fully as William le
Scrope, knight, or any other lord [sic] of the island held the same.
Thus we learn that John Stanley's first grant - which we know was made
shortly before 4 October 1405 [MS12, p 27] - was for life only. He
surrendered this grant to the King in 1406 and it was cancelled,
replaced by the above grant of 6 April 1406 [MS12, pp 28-29].
This is of considerable importance when we come to consider Howe's
claims, because he states that the basis of his claim is the "letters
patent of 1405 [to] Sir John Stanley [and] his heirs" [e.g. London
Gazette advertisement of 16 January 2007].
We see that this claim is a nonsense, because the 1405 grant was for
John Stanley's life only - not to his heirs. And it was surrendered
and cancelled in 1406. A claim today under the 1405 grant is of no
NB Howe has tried to impugn the reliability of MS12 as a source for
the second grant, noting it contains a heading that refers to the date
of the grant as "1306". This is clearly a typographical error. The
date of the second grant is confirmed elsewhere from primary sources
as 6 April 1406 [Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry IV, vol 3, p 201,
HMSO, London, 1907].
By virtue of the 1406 grant, the Isle of Man remained in the
possession of the Stanley family for nearly two hundred years,
descending in the direct male line until the death of Ferdinando, 5th
Earl of Derby in 1594 [ODNB, biography of Ferdinando Stanley by D.
At this point a problem arose. Ferdinando had no son. He left three
daughters and a brother, who advanced competing claims to the island.
Queen Elizabeth I, the feudal overlord of Man, was left to adjudicate.
During this process, it was said that the original grant of the Isle
of Man to the Stanleys had been invalid, as Lord Northumberland's
prior grant of 1399 had not actually been cancelled or forfeited.
Eventually, to resolve this legal muddle, Ferdinando's daughters gave
up their claim in exchange for a financial settlement, further grants
were made and an act of the English Parliament was passed, "assuring
and establishing the Isle of Man in the name and blood of William,
Earl of Derby" [MS12, pp 35 et seq; the act is detailed on p 61].
This act of 1610 was the authority from which the Stanleys
subsequently derived their undisputed rights to Man.
The Lordship passed to the 7th through 10th Earls of Derby, and then
to the 2nd Duke of Atholl as heir-general of the Stanleys. His
daughter Charlotte and her husband the 3rd Duke of Atholl succeeded in
1764 and the following year sold the lordship back to the British
Crown; further rights were re-acquired by the Crown in 1806, and the
residue by 1829.
The relevant parliamentary Acts associated with these transfers are:
(a) 1765: the 'Revesting Act', 5 Geo III c. 26
(b) 1806: 45 Geo III c. 113 and c. 123
(c) the residue: pursuant to 6 Geo IV c. 34 (1825)
The current Lord of the Isle of Man is HM Queen Elizabeth II:
'King of Man' vs 'Lord of Man'
From early times we see that the rulers of the Isle of Man used the
title 'Lord of Man'.
Various examples of this may be seen in the collection of historic
Manx documents published by the Manx Society between 1860 and 1862 and
which may be found here:
In 1381 William de Montacute made a grant as "Seignour de Man", which
means 'Lord of Man' in contemporary legal French.
A copy of William le Scrope's seal shows that he used the title
"domini Manne et Insularum", which translates as 'Lord of Man and the
Isles'. He ruled from circa 1392 to 1399.
In 1399 and again in 1405 we find that the Earl of Northumberland and
Sir John Stanley received respective grants of the "dominium de Man",
that is, the 'lordship of Man'.
And an indenture of 1417 explicitly calls the latter "Johanis de
Stanley Domini Man et Insularam" - 'John Stanley, Lord of Man and the
It seems clear, then, that the rulers were variously called 'King', or
'Lord' when the same proprietorship was the subject. Thus, when Thomas
Stanley settled for 'Lord of Man' in 1504 he was not changing the
title, but rather regularising it.
Nevertheless, the style of King was not abandoned, as Howe claims. It
continued to be used for at least a further 150 years:
"The Lord of Man wielded quasi-regal powers, being in effect 'de jure'
king of Man. The regal title was, apparently, not used outside the
island after its annexation by England in c.1333, but the Stanleys
continued to be styled 'Rex Manniae et Insularum' [King of Man and the
Isles] in the island's court records until at least the later
seventeenth century. Outside the island, perhaps understandably, the
Stanleys were content to be styled Lords of Man" [J.R. Dickinson and
J.A. Sharpe, 'Courts, Crime and Litigation in the Isle of Man,
1580-1700', Historical Research vol 72, 1999, pp 140-59, quoting from
This causes massive problems for Howe's case. He has asserted that
Thomas abandoned or abdicated the title of King, and it was severed in
such a way that it passed to his nearest heir. (Howe claims this was
his sister Jane, but this is also wrong, as we shall see.)
We now know that this is not the case.
Furthermore, even if the Stanleys or their heirs did discontinue its
use at some point, it is not uncommon for rulers to change their
title. Doing so does not affect their rule or create a new separate
An excellent example is furnished by the ancient Welsh kingdoms: after
they fell under the rule of the English Crown, they became
principalities and lordships. In the same way, the Napoleonic wars
brought changes to the titles of a dozen European realms: Baden,
Bavaria, Hesse and Saxony, to name but a few; in 1806 the Holy Roman
Emperor dropped that title and changed his style in his ancestral
Austria from Archduke to Emperor - but he didn't cease to reign. The
Prince of Romania became King in 1881; the same in Bulgaria in 1908
and Montenegro in 1910. The tributary kings who were subject to the
Thai monarch downgraded to princes during the 19th century. And as
recently as 2002 the Sheikh of Bahrain turned into a King.
In each of these cases, the ruler, the reign and the entity ruled
remained the same. Howe's argument is a spurious one, born from a
desperate need to find a justification for removing the ruling title
from the senior line of the Stanleys. It is illogical and has no basis
Feudal duties: the Manx falcon
Howe claims to have inherited the rights of the Stanley family as
Kings of Man, relying on the original letters patent.
These letters patent state that the island was to be held by feudal
service, specifically by delivering two falcons to the English Crown
at various times. This was confirmed in 1610 [MS12, p 69].
No service, no tenure.
We know the Stanleys and their heirs in possession of Man continued to
comply with this requirement until the reign of William IV, by which
time the lordship had come back to the British sovereign.
Did Howe's alleged ancestors comply with this requirement after 1504?
In failing to do so, would they not have forfeited any rights they
Taking Howe's arguments to their logical conclusion, their inherent
absurdity is easily exposed.
Where does this leave Howe?
Without a leg to stand on - let alone three.
He has attempted to dismiss the 1610 act and everything subsequent to
it by pretending that the senior line of the Stanley family somehow
lost the right to the title 'King of Man' when the 2nd Earl of Derby
stopped using it in 1504.
We have seen that the titles 'King of Man' and 'Lord of Man' are not
two different things. They were used interchangeably for centuries and
are incapable of being severed. We have also seen that in any case the
Stanleys did not cease using the title of King in 1504 - they were
still using it in the late 1600s.
In advancing this aspect of his claim, Howe is trying without success
to split hairs. As we will see next, he is equally unsuccessful when
he attempts to split heirs.
Since the late 13th century, although not part of England or the
United Kingdom, the Isle of Man has had as it overlord the English
(now British) monarch.
An intermediate ruler held the island for centuries, but his legal
rights were only settled fully in 1610. He was sometimes called King,
and sometimes Lord, but the latter title became the established norm
after 1504 without being exclusive - the title of King continued to be
used until at least the late 17th century. In 1765 the Lord sold his
sovereign rights to the British Crown; the office held by the Duke of
Atholl after that date was as Governor, appointed by the King.
Howe's claims to have inherited the rights of this erstwhile
intermediate ruler under the terms of the 1405 grant are nonsensical,
since the 1405 grant was one for life only, and in any case there is
no good reason to conclude that the senior line of the Stanley family
lost any of their rights in 1504.
No claim to the Isle of Man 600 years later can validly originate in
the grant of 1405.
The Stanleys did not give up the title of King in 1504, and never lost
the rights consequent to it.
Howe is not an heir to the Isle of Man and has no right to pretend to
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