The Isle of Man (Ellan Vannin), also known simply as Mann, is a self-governing crown dependency located in the middle of the northern Irish Sea, almost equidistant from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland (closest), and Wales (farthest). It is 32 miles (52 kilometers) long and, at its widest point, 14 miles (22 kilometers) wide with an area of 221 square miles (572 square kilometers). Besides the island of Mann itself, the political unit of the Isle of Man includes some nearby small islands: the seasonally inhabited Calf of Man, Chicken Rock on which stands an unmanned lighthouse, St Patrick’s Isle and St Michael’s Isle. The last two of these are connected to the main island by permanent roads/causeways. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is represented by a Lieutenant Governor. Foreign relations and defense are the responsibility of the British Government. At the 2011 census, the Isle of Man was home to 84,497 people, of whom 27,938 resided in the island’s capital, Douglas and 9,273 in the adjoining village of Onchan.
Ranges of hills in the north and south are separated by a central valley. The northern plain, by contrast, is relatively flat, consisting mainly of deposits from glacial advances from western Scotland during colder times. There are more recently deposited shingle beaches at the northernmost point, the Point of Ayre. The island has one mountain higher than 2,000 feet (600 meters), Snaefell, with a height of 2,034 feet (620 meters). According to an old saying, from the summit one can see six kingdoms: those of Mann, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Heaven. Some versions add a seventh kingdom, that of the Sea, or Neptune.
The Manx name of the Isle of Man is Ellan Vannin: ellan is a Manx word meaning ‘island’; Mannin appears in the genitive case as Vannin, with initial consonant mutation, hence Ellan Vannin, “Island of Mann”. The short form often used in English, Mann, is derived from the Manx Mannin, though sometimes the name is written as Man. The earliest recorded Manx form of the name is Manu or Mana. The name is probably cognate with the Welsh name of the island of Anglesey, Ynys Môn, usually derived from a Celtic word for ‘mountain’ as reflected in Welsh mynydd, Breton menez, and Scottish Gaelic monadh, The name was at least secondarily associated with that of Manannán mac Lir in Irish mythology. In the earliest Irish mythological texts, Manannán is a king of the otherworld, but the ninth-century Sanas Cormaic identifies a euhemerized Manannán as “a famous merchant who resided in, and gave name to, the Isle of Man”. Later, a Manannán is recorded as the first king of Mann in a Manx poem (dated 1504).
The Isle of Man effectively became an island around 8,500 years ago at around the time when rising sea levels caused by the melting glaciers cut Mesolithic Britain off from continental Europe for the last time. A land bridge had earlier existed between the Isle of Man and Cumbria, but the location and opening of the land bridge remain poorly understood.
The earliest traces of people on the Isle of Man date back to the Mesolithic Period, also known as the Middle Stone Age. The first residents lived in small natural shelters, hunting, gathering and fishing for their food. They used small tools made of flint or bone, examples of which have been found near the coast. Representatives of these artifacts are kept at the Manx National Heritage Museum.
The Neolithic Period marked the coming of farming, improved stone tools and pottery. During this period megalithic monuments began to appear around the island. Examples are found at Cashtal yn Ard near Maughold, King Orry’s Grave in Laxey, Meayll Circle near Cregneash, and Ballaharra Stones in St John’s. The builders of the megaliths were not the only culture during this time; there are also remains of the local Ronaldsway culture (lasting from the late Neolithic into the Bronze Age) and also that of Bann.
During the Bronze Age, the large communal tombs of the Megalithic culture were replaced with smaller burial mounds. Bodies were put in stone lined graves along with ornamental containers. The Bronze Age burial mounds created long-lasting markers around the countryside.
The Iron Age marked the beginning of Celtic cultural influence. Large hill forts appeared on hill summits and smaller promontory forts along the coastal cliffs, whilst large timber-framed roundhouses were built.
It is likely that the first Celts to inhabit the Island were Brythonic tribes from mainland Britain. The secular history of the Isle of Man during the Brythonic period remains mysterious. It is not known if the Romans ever made a landing on the island; if they did, little evidence has been discovered; however there is evidence for contact with Roman Britain as an amphora was discovered at the settlement on the South Barrule; it is hypothesized this may have been trade goods or plunder. It has been speculated that the island may have become a haven for Druids and other refugees from Anglesey after the sacking of Mona in AD 60.
It is generally assumed that Irish invasion or immigration formed the basis of the modern Manx language; Irish migration to the island probably began in the fifth century AD. This is evident in the change in language used in Ogham inscriptions. The transition between Manx Brythonic (a Brythonic language like modern Welsh) and Manx Gaelic (a Goidelic language like modern Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic) may have been gradual. One question is whether the present-day Manx language survives from pre-Norse days or reflects a linguistic reintroduction after the Norse invasion. The island lends its name to Manannán, the Brythonic and Gaelic sea god who is said in myth to have once ruled the island.
Tradition attributes the island’s conversion to Christianity to St Maughold (Maccul), an Irish missionary who gives his name to a parish. There are the remains of around 200 tiny early chapels called keeils scattered across the island. Evidence such as radiocarbon dating and magnetic drift points to many of these being built around AD 550-600.
The Brythonic culture of Manaw appears throughout early British tradition and later Welsh writings. The family origins of Gwriad ap Elidyr (father of Merfyn Frych and grandfather of Rhodri the Great) are attributed to a Manaw and he is sometimes named as Gwriad Manaw. The 1896 discovery of a cross inscribed Crux Guriat (Cross of Gwriad) and dated to the eighth or ninth century greatly supports this theory.
The best record of any event before the incursions of the Northmen is attributed to Báetán mac Cairill, king of Ulster, who (according to the Annals of Ulster) led an expedition to Man in 577-578, imposing his authority on the island (though some have thought this event may refer to Manau Gododdin between the Firths of Clyde and Forth, rather than the Isle of Man). After Báetán’s death in 581, his rival Áedán mac Gabráin, king of Dál Riata, is said to have taken the island in 582.
Even if the supposed conquest of the Menavian islands – Mann and Anglesey – by Edwin of Northumbria, in 616, did take place, it could not have led to any permanent results, for when the English were driven from the coasts of Cumberland and Lancashire soon afterwards, they could not well have retained their hold on the island to the west of these coasts. One can speculate, however, that when Ecgfrið’s Northumbrians laid Ireland waste from Dublin to Drogheda in 684, they temporarily occupied Mann.
The period of Scandinavian domination is divided into two main epochs – before and after the conquest of Mann by Godred Crovan in 1079. Warfare and unsettled rule characterize the earlier epoch; the later saw comparatively more peace.
Between about AD 800 and 815, the Vikings came to Mann chiefly for plunder; between about 850 and 990, when they settled there, the island fell under the rule of the Scandinavian Kings of Dublin; and between 990 and 1079, it became subject to the powerful Earls of Orkney.
There was a mint producing coins on Mann between c. 1025 and c. 1065. These Manx coins were minted from an imported type 2 Hiberno-Norse penny die from Dublin. Hiberno-Norse coins were first minted under Sihtric, King of Dublin. This illustrates that Mann may have been under the thumb of Dublin at this time.
The conqueror Godred Crovan was evidently a remarkable man, though little is known about him. According to the Chronicon Manniae he subdued Dublin, and a great part of Leinster, and held the Scots in such subjection that no one who built a vessel dared to insert more than three bolts. The memory of such a ruler would be likely to survive in tradition, and it seems probable therefore that he is the person commemorated in Manx legend under the name of King Gorse or Orry. He created the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles in around 1079; it included the south-western islands of Scotland until 1164, when two separate kingdoms were formed from it. In 1154, what was later to be known as the Diocese of Sodor and Man was formed by the Catholic Church.
The islands which were under his rule were called the Suðr-eyjar (south isles, in contradistinction to the Norðr-eyjar, or the “north isles”, i.e. Orkney and Shetland), and they consisted of the Hebrides, and of all the smaller western islands of Scotland, and Mann. At a later date, his successors took the title of Rex Manniae et Insularum (King of Mann and of the Isles). The kingdom’s capital was on St Patrick’s Isle, where Peel Castle was built on the site of a Celtic monastery.
Olaf, Godred’s son, exercised considerable power, and according to the Chronicle, maintained such close alliance with the kings of Ireland and Scotland that no one ventured to disturb the Isles during his time (1113–1152). In 1156, his son, Godred (reigned 1153–1158), who for a short period ruled over Dublin also, lost the smaller islands off the coast of Argyll as a result of a quarrel with Somerled (the ruler of Argyll). An independent sovereignty thus appeared between[clarification needed] the two divisions of his kingdom.
In the 1130s, the Catholic Church sent a small mission to establish the first bishopric on the Isle of Man, and appointed Wimund as the first bishop. He soon afterwards embarked with a band of followers on a career of murder and looting throughout Scotland and the surrounding islands.
During the whole of the Scandinavian period, the Isles remained nominally under the suzerainty of the Kings of Norway, but the Norwegians only occasionally asserted it with any vigor. The first such king to assert control over the region was likely Magnus Barelegs, at the turn of the twelfth century. It was not until Hakon Hakonarson’s 1263 expedition that another king returned to the Isles.
From the middle of the twelfth century until 1217 the suzerainty had remained of a very shadowy character; Norway had become a prey to civil dissensions. But after that date it became a reality, and Norway consequently came into collision with the growing power of the kingdom of Scotland.
Early in the thirteenth century, when Ragnald (reigned 1187–1229) paid homage to King John of England (reigned 1199–1216), we hear for the first time of English intervention in the affairs of Mann. A period of Scots domination would precede the establishment of full English control.
In 1261, Alexander III of Scotland sent envoys to Norway to negotiate for the cession of the isles, but their efforts led to no result. He therefore initiated a war, which ended in the indecisive Battle of Largs against the Norwegian fleet in 1263. The Norwegian king Haakon Haakonsson died the following winter, and this allowed King Alexander to bring the war to a successful conclusion. Magnus Olafsson, King of Mann and the Isles (reigned 1252–1265), who had campaigned on the Norwegian side, had to surrender all the islands over which he had ruled, except Mann, for which he did homage. Two years later, Magnus died and in 1266 King Magnus VI of Norway ceded the islands, including Mann, to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth in consideration of the sum of 4,000 marks (known as merks in Scotland) and an annuity of 100 marks. Scotland’s rule over Mann did not become firmly established till 1275, when the Manx suffered defeat in the decisive Battle of Ronaldsway, near Castletown.
In 1290, King Edward I of England sent Walter de Huntercombe to take possession of Mann, and it remained in English hands until 1313, when Robert Bruce took it after besieging Castle Rushen for five weeks. Then, until 1346, when the Battle of Neville’s Cross decided the long struggle between England and Scotland in England’s favor, there followed a confused period when Mann sometimes suffered English rule and sometimes Scottish.
About 1333, King Edward III of England granted Mann to William de Montacute, 3rd Baron Montacute (later the 1st Earl of Salisbury), as his absolute possession, without reserving any service to be rendered to him. In 1388, the island was “ravaged” by Sir William Douglas of Nithsdale on his way home from the destruction of the town of Carlingford. In 1392, William de Montacute’s son sold the island, including sovereignty, to Sir William le Scrope. In 1399, King Henry IV brought about the beheading of Le Scrope, who had taken the side of Richard II. The island then came into the possession of the Crown, which granted it to Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland; but following his attainder, Henry IV, in 1405, made a lifetime grant of it, with the patronage of the bishopric, to Sir John Stanley. In 1406 this grant was extended – on a feudatory basis under the English Crown – to Sir John’s heirs and assigns, the feudal fee being the service of rendering homage and two falcons to all future Kings of England on their coronations.
With the accession of the Stanleys to the throne there begins a more settled epoch in Manx history. Though the island’s new rulers rarely visited its shores, they placed it under governors, who, in the main, seem to have treated it with the justice of the time. Of the thirteen members of the family who ruled in Mann, the second Sir John Stanley (1414–1432), James, the 7th Earl (1627–1651), and the 10th Earl of the same name (1702–1736) had the most important influence on it. They first curbed the power of the spiritual barons, introduced trial by jury, which superseded trial by battle, and ordered the laws to be written. The second, known as the Great Stanley, and his wife, Charlotte de la Tremoille (or Tremouille), are probably the most striking figures in Manx history.
In 1643 Charles I ordered James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby to go to Mann, where the people, no doubt influenced by events in England, threatened to revolt.
Stanley’s arrival, with English soldiers, soon put a stop to anything of this kind. He conciliated the people by his affability, brought in Englishmen to teach various handicrafts and tried to help the farmers by improving the breed of Manx horses, and, at the same time, he restricted the exactions of the Church. The Manx also lost much of their liberty under his rule: they were heavily taxed; troops were quartered upon them; and they also had the more lasting grievance of being compelled to accept leases for three lifetimes instead of holding their land by the straw tenure, which they considered to be equivalent to a customary inheritance.
Six months after the death of Charles I (on January 30, 1649), Stanley received a summons from General Ireton to surrender the island, but he declined to do so. In August 1651, Stanley went to England with some of his troops, among whom were 300 Manxmen, to join King Charles II. Charles was decisively defeated at the Battle of Worcester and Stanley was captured, imprisoned in Chester Castle and then tried by court-martial and executed at Bolton.
Soon after Stanley’s death, the Manx Militia, under the command of William Christian (known by his Manx name of Illiam Dhone), rose against the Countess and captured all the insular forts except Rushen and Peel. They were then joined by a Parliamentary force under Colonel Duckenfield, to whom the Countess surrendered after a brief resistance.
Oliver Cromwell had appointed Thomas Fairfax “Lord of Mann and the Isles” in September 1651, so that Mann continued under a monarchical government and remained in the same relation to England as before.
The restoration of Stanley government in 1660 therefore caused as little friction and alteration as its temporary cessation had. One of the first acts of the new Lord, Charles Stanley, 8th Earl of Derby, was to order Christian to be tried. He was found guilty and executed. Of the other persons implicated in the rebellion only three were excepted from the general amnesty. But by Order in Council, Charles II pardoned them, and the judges responsible for the sentence on Christian were punished.
Charles Stanley’s next act was to dispute the permanency of the tenants’ holdings, which they had not at first regarded as being affected by the acceptance of leases, a proceeding which led to an almost open rebellion against his authority and to the neglect of agriculture, in lieu of which the people devoted themselves to the fisheries and to contraband trade.
Charles Stanley, who died in 1672, was succeeded first by his son William Richard George Stanley, 9th Earl of Derby until his death in 1702.
The agrarian question subsided only in 1704, when James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby, William’s brother and successor, largely through the influence of Bishop Wilson, entered into a compact with his tenants, which became embodied in an Act, called the Act of Settlement. Their compact secured the tenants in the possession of their estates in perpetuity subject only to a fixed rent, and a small fine on succession or alienation. From the great importance of this act to the Manx people it has been called their Magna Carta. As time went on, and the value of the estates increased, the rent payable to the Lord became so small in proportion as to be almost nominal, being extinguished by purchase in 1916.
James died in 1736, and the suzerainty of the isle passed to James Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl, his first cousin and heir-male. In 1764, he was succeeded by his only surviving child Charlotte, Baroness Strange, and her husband, John Murray, who became Lord of Mann. By about 1720, the contraband trade had greatly increased. In 1726, Parliament had checked it somewhat for a time, but during the last ten years of the Atholl regime (1756–1765) it assumed such proportions that, in the interests of the Imperial revenue, it became necessary to suppress it. With a view to so doing, Parliament passed the Isle of Man Purchase Act 1765 (commonly called the Revestment Act by the Manx), under which it purchased the rights of the Atholls as Lords of Mann, including the customs revenues of the island, for the sum of £70,000 sterling, and granted an annuity to the Duke and Duchess. The Atholls still retained their manorial rights, the patronage of the bishopric, and certain other perquisites, until they sold them for the sum of £417,144 in 1828.
Up to the time of the revestment, Tynwald had passed laws concerning the government of the island in all respects and had control over its finances, subject to the approval of the Lord of Mann. After the revestment, or rather after the passage of the Smuggling Act 1765 (commonly called the Mischief Act by the Manx), the Parliament at Westminster legislated with respect to customs, harbors and merchant shipping, and, in measures of a general character, it occasionally inserted clauses permitting the enforcement in the island of penalties in contravention of the Acts of which they formed part. It also assumed the control of the insular customs duties. Such changes, rather than the transference of the full suzerainty to the King of Great Britain and Ireland, modified the (unwritten) constitution of the Isle of Man. Its ancient laws and tenures remained untouched, but in many ways the revestment affected it adversely. The hereditary Lords of Mann had seldom, if ever, functioned as model rulers, but most of them had taken some personal share in its government, and had interested themselves in the well-being of the inhabitants. But now the whole direction of its affairs became the work of officials who regarded the island as a pestilent nest of smugglers, from which it seemed their duty to extract as much revenue as possible.
There was some alleviation of this state of things between 1793 and 1826, when John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl served as Governor, since, though he quarreled with the House of Keys and unduly cared for his own pecuniary interests, he did occasionally exert himself to promote the welfare of the island. After his departure the English officials resumed their sway, but they showed more consideration than before. Moreover, since smuggling, which the Isle of Man Purchase Act had only checked – not suppressed – had by that time almost disappeared, and since the Manx revenue had started to produce a large and increasing surplus, the authorities looked more favorably on the Isle of Man, and, thanks to this fact and to the representations of the Manx people to British ministers in 1837, 1844 and 1853, it obtained a somewhat less stringent customs tariff and an occasional dole towards erecting its much neglected public works.
In 1866, the Isle of Man obtained a nominal measure of Home Rule.
The Isle of Man’s postal service was originally operated by the United Kingdom’s General Post Office, with a daily postal connection with the UK since 1879. In the early part of the twentieth century, stamps began to be perceived as promotional tools for the Manx identity. In the absence of stamps, postage labels – some measuring 2 inches by 1.5 inches – were affixed over the rear flaps of envelopes. Campaigning for stamps in the 1920s led to the first official approaches to the General Post Office between May 31 and June 5, 1930, when the GPO laid the Island’s first submarine telephone cable. The idea was rejected because of fears that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would want their own stamps too.
To promote the fact that the Isle of Man was no longer isolated telephonically, therefore, Tynwald’s Publicity Board produced a postage label depicting a girl making a telephone call; the slogan, ‘A Holiday Call from the Isle of Man.’
The Isle of Man was a base for alien civilian internment camps in both the First World War (1914–18) and the Second World War (1939–45). During the First World War there were two camps: one a requisitioned holiday camp in Douglas and the other a purpose-built camp at Knockaloe near Peel in the parish of Patrick. During the Second World War, there were a number of smaller camps in Douglas, Peel, Port Erin and Ramsey. The (now disbanded) Manx Regiment was raised in 1938 and saw action during the Second World War.
The Island’s first experimental airmail service was started by a Railway Air Services Dragon Rapide on August 20, 1934. This operated between Manchester and Belfast. Letters weighing less than two ounces were carried at no extra cost. The first regular airmail service from Liverpool was started on February 1, 1935, by Blackpool and West Coast Air Services Ltd.
The early twentieth century saw a revival of music, dance, and a limited revival of the Manx language, although the last “native” speaker of Manx Gaelic died in the 1970s. In the middle of the twentieth century, the Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, visited, and was so dissatisfied with the lack of support for Manx that he immediately had two recording vans sent over.
In 1949, an Executive Council, chaired by the Lieutenant-Governor and including members of Tynwald, was created. This was the start of a transfer of executive power from the unelected Lieutenant Governor to democratically elected Manx politicians. Finance and the police passed to Manx control between 1958 and 1976.
The idea of regional stamps came up after World War II to help the tourism in the Channel Islands, which were occupied by German forces until the end of the conflict. The concept was extended to all United Kingdom’s regions and essays were prepared: positions of King George VI’s head and symbols.
Special committees were established to choose the heraldic emblems or symbols for the each country or island. The Isle of Man stamps were designed by John Nicholson, included the tre cassyn (Three Legs) escutcheoned (on a shield), the three spurs looking rather like stars, and had a bordering ring-chain pattern based on designs on ancient Manx stone crosses.
The first value (3 pence deep lilac) of the regional issues were introduced on August 18, 1958, in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The design consisted of the Dorothy Wilding’s portrait of the Queen surrounded by appropriate regional symbols. The Isle of Man’s 3 pence regional stamp featured a portrait of the Queen encompassed by a Celtic ring chain. In common with U.K. practice, it did not bear its country of origin but did depict the Three Legs of Man.
The Manx design was inspired by Isle of Man Art Society chairman, Victor Kneale, who had produced 18 designs to show what could be done. His membership of an Advisory Committee meant exclusion from being the official designer but when self-taught artist John Nicholson was appointed as designer what he produced reflected Kneale’s proposals. Subsequently, Kneale would be the first chairman of Isle of Man Post and Nicholson would design the latter’s first stamps.
Other values were introduced at later dates. Some of the issue dates are unclear, as the stamps were first issued at the Philatelic Bureau in Edinburgh, others first at the Philatelic Counter in London, yet others first in the region. The colors used were consistent across the various regions, and stayed constant with the exception of the 4 -pence value, which was issued in three different colors – initially ultramarine, then olive-sepia and finally vermilion. The 4d’s initial color change was made to bring it into line with that used by the newly issued pre-decimal Machin series (from June 5, 1967, onwards). The Machin 4d’s color was then changed because of complaints that the date of postmarks (critical for football pool entries) could not be read on so dark a color. All the regional 4d’s were then changed again to the new Machin color of vermilion.
The 1960s saw a rise in Manx nationalism, spawning the parties Mec Vannin and the Manx National Party, as well as the now defunct Fo Halloo (literally “Underground”), which mounted a direct-action campaign of spray-painting and attempted house-burning.
In 1966, the U.K. Government commenced planning to convert the General Post Office into a public corporation, and as part of this process offered each of the Crown Dependencies the opportunity to assume control of the operations of the GPO on their territories. On October 18, 1968, Tynwald decided that they did not wish to take up the offer, but provision was made in the Post Office Act 1969 nonetheless. In the Channel Islands, the authorities did accept the offer, and postal activities of the GPO were transferred in October 1969 to form Jersey Post and Guernsey Post. The GPO had not provided any telecommunications services in the Channel Islands since the 1920s.
The Isle of Man’s first officially authorized postage stamps were issued during Britain’s first postal strike (January 20 to March 7, 1971). Tourist souvenir supplier, Gordon Quirk, launched Post Manninagh on January 20 and was authorized on January 27, though restricted to deliveries within the island. He adapted illustrated match box covers as stamps, guillotining from their edges words such as ‘Foreign – Average Contents 30.’ Quirk’s first authorized mail deliveries outside the island began on February 1. His first specifically designed stamp was produced on February 15. Others followed. Post Manninagh’s first airmail service started on March 1, six days before the strike ended.
On July 7,1971, the previous Wilding-based designs for the Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were replaced with designs similar to the standard British Machin portrait definitives. Each stamp had a reduced size portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin with a national emblem in the top left corner, the latter designed by Jeffery Matthews. The emblems used were :
- Isle of Man: The triskelion;
- Northern Ireland: The “Red Hand” in a star beneath a crown;
- Scotland: The lion rampant;
- Wales: The Welsh dragon.
The colors of the Machin regionals were the same as those of the main Machin issues. Only four Machin values were issued for the Isle of Man:
- 2½p bright magenta
- 3p ultramarine
- 5p reddish violet
- 7½p chestnut
In 1972, following negotiations by Tynwald with the GPO to leave the Island’s telephone system, it was agreed that the Isle of Man would, after all, take over control of the insular postal administration. As a result, the Isle of Man Post Office Authority was formed and took over the postal assets and functions of the Post Office on July 5, 1973. Since then, only Manx stamps have been valid on the island, and Manx stamps are not valid for postage in the U.K. or elsewhere. Spink and Son Ltd produced the first stamp essays but the Authority preferred to initiate its own designs.
When sending mail to island from elsewhere, the Isle of Man is treated as though it were part of the United Kingdom, and mail from the U.K. continues to be charged at Royal Mail’s U.K. inland rates. However, postcodes were not introduced in the Isle of Man until 1993, when the Island was postcoded as the IM postcode area as an extension of the United Kingdom postcode system. Mail sent from the Isle of Man to the U.K. is flown across the Irish Sea, and enters the first-class stream of the Royal Mail for next-day delivery. The Isle of Man Post Office has Crown offices at Douglas and Ramsey as well as a number of sub post offices.
The monies paid for the assets of the Post Office, £148,624, were recouped within the first year from the surpluses generated by the Authority. It was reconstituted as a Statutory Board and renamed the ‘Isle of Man Post Office’ under the Post Office Act 1993.
The first non-regional stamp issue for the Isle of Man consisted of 16 pictorial definitives released on July 5, 1973 (Scott #12-27), as was a single commemorative marking the inauguration of postal independence (Scott #28).
On August 2, 1973, a flash fire killed between 50 and 53 people at the Summerland amusement center in Douglas.
In 1980, the Lieutenant Governor was replaced as Chairman of the Executive Council by a chairman elected by Tynwald. Following legislation in 1984, the Executive Council was reconstituted in 1985 to include the chairmen of the eight principal Boards; in 1986, they were given the title of Minister and the chairman was retitled Chief Minister. In 1986, Sir Miles Walker CBE became the first Chief Minister of the Isle of Man. In 1990. the Executive Council was renamed the Council of Ministers.
The 1990s and early twenty-first century have seen a greater recognition of indigenous Manx culture, including the opening of the first Manx language primary school, as well as a general re-evaluation of the island’s economy.
During latter part of the twentieth century, the Manx tourist economy declined, as the English and Irish started flying to Spain for package holidays. The Manx Government responded to this by successfully promoting the island, with its low tax rates, as an offshore financial center, although it has avoided being placed on a recent UK black list of tax havens. The financial center has had its detractors who have pointed to the potential for money laundering.
Scott #533B was issued January 24, 1994. The £2 stamp, printed by the House of Questa using lithography and perforated 14½, features the British Red Ensign for the Isle of Man. The Red Ensign or “Red Duster” is the flag flown by British merchant ships since 1707. Prior to 1707 an English red ensign and a Scottish red ensign were flown by the English and Scottish navies respectively. The precise date of the first appearance of these earlier red ensigns is not known, but surviving receipts indicate that the English navy was paying to have such flags sewn in the 1620s. The Isle of Man was granted a red ensign, with the three legs of Man in the central fly, for use by ships registered through the island, by Royal Warrant dated August 27, 1971. It is widely used on luxury yachts and large cargo ships around the world, due to the financial benefits the Isle of Man can provide.
For centuries, the Isle of Man’s symbol has been the so-called “three legs of Mann” (Tree Cassyn Vannin), a triskelion of three legs conjoined at the thigh. The Manx triskelion, which dates with certainty to the late thirteenth century, is of uncertain origin. It has been suggested that its origin lies in Sicily, an island which has been associated with the triskelion since ancient times. The symbol appears in the island’s official flag and official coat of arms, as well as its currency. The Manx triskelion may be reflected in the island’s motto, Quocunque jeceris stabit, which appears as part of the island’s coat of arms. The Latin motto translates into English as “whichever way you throw, it will stand”. It dates to the late seventeenth century when it is known to have appeared on the island’s coinage. It has also been suggested that the motto originally referred to the poor quality of coinage which was common at the time — as in “however it is tested it will pass”.