Man, Isle of, is situated in the Irish Sea, 16 miles S. of Burrow Head in Wigtownshire, 27 miles SW. of St Bees Head, and 27 E. of Strangford Lough. Its length is 33 1/4 miles, breadth 12 1/2 miles, and area 145,325 acres (227 sq. m.), of which nearly 100,000 are cultivated. At the southwestern extremity is an islet called the Calf of Man, containing 800 acres. A chain of mountains extends from north-east to south-west, culminating in Snaefell (2024 feet). The coast-scenery from MaughoM Head on the east, passing south to Peel on the west, is bold and picturesque, especially in the neighbourhood of the Calf, where Spanish Head, the southern extremity of the island, presents a sea-front of extreme grandeur. The Douglas Head Marine Drive was opened in 1891. Most of the island consists of clay-slate. Through the clay-schist granite has burst in two localities, in the vicinity of which mineral veins have been largely worked. Nearly 5000 tons of lead are extracted annually, some zinc, and smaller quantities of copper and iron. The principal mines are at Laxey on the east coast, and Foxdale near the west. The climate is mild and equable ; myrtles, fuchsias, and other exotics flourish throughout the year. The Manx cat is tailless. The fisheries (herring, cod, etc.) afford employment to nearly 4000 men and boys. Fat cattle and wheat are shipped to English markets. Castle Rushen, probably the most perfect building of its date extant, was founded in 947. The ruins of Rushen Abbey (1154) are picturesquely situated at Ballasalla. Peel Castle, with the cathedral of St German, is a very beautiful ruin, dating from the 12th century. There are numerous so-called Druidical remains and Runic monuments ; the Runic crosses, of which there are some forty, are especially numerous at Kirk Michael. The circular and artificial Tynwald Hill at St John's, near the centre of the island, is a perfect relic of Scandinavian antiquity. The towns, noticed separately, are Castletown, Douglas, the modern capital, Peel, and Ramsey. The principal line of communication is between Douglas and Liverpool, by means of a swift fleet of steamers. There is a submarine cable between Maughold Head and St Bees Head. In 1873 a railway was opened between Douglas and Peel; in 1874 to Castletown and the south ; and in 1879 to Ramsey. Extensive improvements in the way of harbour-works, piers, and promenades have been carried out at Douglas, Ramsey, and Peel. Pop. (1821) 40,081; (1871) 54,042 ; (1901) 54,758, the smallness of the increase being due to emigration. Visitors number about 130,000 annually.
The Isle of Man was ruled by Welsh kings from the 6th until near the end of the 9th century, and then by Scandinavian kings, until Magnus, king of Norway, ceded his right in it and the Hebrides to Alexander III. of Scotland (1266). On Alexander's death the Manx placed themselves in 1290 under the protection of Edward I. of England; in 1406 the island was granted to Sir John Stanley in perpetuity, to be held of the crown of England. The Stanley family continued to rule it as Kings of Man, until 1651, when the style of Lord was adopted. On the death of James, tenth Earl of Derby, without issue in 1735, James, second Duke of Athol, descended from the seventh Earl of Derby, became Lord of Man. The Isle of Man having long been the seat of an extensive smuggling trade, the sovereignty of it was purchased by the British government, in 1765, for £70,000 and an annuity of £2000 a year, the duke still retaining certain manorial rights, church patronage, etc. The last remaining interest of the Athol family in the island was transferred to the British crown in 1829; the total amount paid for the island being £493,000. The Isle of Man forms a separate bishopric under the title of Sodor and Man, the bishopric of the Sudoreys - Scandinavian for 'southern Isles' - having for a time been annexed to Man. The see is, for certain purposes, attached to the province of York; the bishop sits in the House of Lords, but does not vote.
The Isle of Man has home rule - its own laws, law-officers, and courts of law. The legislative body is styled the Court of Tynwald, consisting of the Lieutenant-governor and Council - the latter being composed of the bishop, attorney-general, two deemsters (or judges), clerk of the rolls, water bailiff, archdeacon, and vicar-general - and the House of twenty-four Keys, or representatives. A bill is separately considered by both branches, and on being passed by them is transmitted for the royal assent; it does not, however, become law until it is promulgated in the English and Manx languages on the Tynwald Hill. The House of Keys was formerly self-elective ; but in 1866 an act was passed establishing a septennial election by the people ; and another in 1880 abolished the property qualification for members, granted household suffrage in towns, £4 owner and £6 tenant franchise in the country, and conferred the suffrage on women. The armorial bearings of Man are three legs in armour conjoined at the thighs. The Manx people are of Celtic origin, with a strong dash of the Scandinavian. The language, belonging to the Goidelic group of the Celtic languages, is now but little spoken. Church service in Manx has been discontinued since the middle of the 19th century. There is no literature beyond a few songs and carols. The Prayer-book was translated into Manx in 1765, the Bible in 1772. A dictionary was compiled in 1835. Down to the middle of the 19th century the island was almost exempt from taxation, and consequently looked upon as a cheap place of residence, while its laws afforded protection to English debtors.
See works by the Rev. J. G. Cumming, Joseph Train, Brown, A. W. Moore (place-names, 1890), Hall Caine (1891 and 1894), Spencer Walpole (1893), A. W. Moore (1893 and, on a larger scale, 1900); also Chronica Regum Manniœ, edited by Munch (Christiania, 1860); and the works published by the Manx Society (19 vols. 1858-68).