IOM History

Created by: Lester Caine, Last modification: 17 Oct 2009 (15:17 BST)

The history of the Isle of Man reflects the history of the British Isles as a whole, having been fought over and owned by all of it's neighbours, and even the Scandinavian Norsemen. 
The island was originally inhabited by the Celtic tribes that occupied most of Britain and Ireland up to the Roman invasion. There is no evidence, however, that the Romans ever occupied the island, but it is likely that they would have traded with the Manx.
In the 5th century the island was converted to Christianity by the visiting Irish monks. From the 9th century onwards, the Norsemen first raided the island and then settled it. The first recognised Norse king of the island was Godred Crovan, who reigned from 1079 to 1095.
The descendants of Godred ruled over Man and the Western Isles of Scotland until 1273, when Alexander III decided the Western Isles should become part of Scotland.
War broke out and King Haakon of Norway arrived of the Western Isles with a large force of ships and summoned Magnus of the Isle of Man to support him, which he duly did.
The Norsemen were defeated at the Battle of Largs, and Magnus was allowed to keep the Isle of Man only on the condition that he paid homage to lexander. Maguns died in 1265, and a year later the Treaty of Perth handed ownership of the Isle of Man to Alexander.
However the Manx people disputed the decision and a series of raids ended only when Robert the Bruce landed in 1313 and captured Castle Rushen, the major fortification on the Island.
From 1313 onwards, the ownership of Man became a matter of who could capture and hold it. In 1334, Edward III granted it to William of Montacute, Earl of Salisbury. In 1405, Henry VI granted it to his supporter Sir John Stanley, whose descendants rulled over the island for a further 350 years.
Following the Battle of Bosworth, Sir Thomas Stanley was made Earl of Derby, and this name was associated with the island until the death of the 10th Earl in 1736. The Dukes of Atholl were then granted title through marriage into the Derby family.
The Isle of Man was not popular with the British Government at this time. It is thought that up to two thirds of the population lived off the proceeds of smuggling and piracy, and a local law meant that debtors fleeing from Britain or Ireland coundn't be pursued.
To end this state of affairs, the British Crown bought all rights to the island in 1765 for the sum of £70,000 plus a £2,000 annuity to the Duke of Atholl. The Dukes retained governorship of the island on behalf of the British, on the condition that they forced the Manx people to mend their ways.