This site is devoted to the early (pre 1700) records of the Isle of Man, with a particular focus on those of greatest value to the genealogist. It attempts to provide detailed descriptions of all the main record types and to explain how to understand them. The large majority of the records described here are held at the Manx National Heritage Library at Douglas, but other archives are covered also. A significant proportion of the MNHL material is now coming online via


The site also includes some sources which are otherwise not publicly available.


Most of the original records are written in English (as opposed to Latin), but the different handwriting of the era can make them extremely difficult to read for the inexperienced modern eye. Some help is provided on this site and more information is available from numerous paleography websites.


There is also a section on DNA which describes how genetic testing can greatly assist the genealogical research of the period.


I would welcome any comments, corrections etc. and can be contacted at


This site is periodically updated.


Site overview


The site contains a number of sections which are outlined below. Navigation between these is via the top menu. Pages within a section are linked via the left menu.


This Introduction section contains overviews of several subjects without knowledge of which it is hard to understand the documents properly.


The Records section discusses individual categories of records in more detail, including discussion of their format and the information they contain in different time periods.


The Images section contains an archive of original images of 16th and early 17th century Spiritual Court records including many abstracts of wills. The section also has high resolution examples of many of the other types of record discussed on this site. The vast majority of these images are photographs taken by myself of original manuscripts and are included here by courtesy of Manx National Heritage. A few come from scans of microfilmed copies of the records and the inclusion of these is additionally by courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which produced these microfilms.


The Transcriptions section has a particular focus on the property records for Kirk Michael and (to a lesser extent) Ballaugh parishes. The online property data has a good chance of containing genealogical information about any family living in Kirk Michael between 1600 and 1800, and it will sometimes be useful for 16th century ancestors too. It also serves to illustrate the type of information available and can be used to track the ownership of individual pieces of land through the centuries. The section also includes (by permission of the Rt Hon. The Earl of Derby 2014) a complete transcription of the Knowsley Lease Book, which is the major source for Manx leases agreed with the Lord before 1643.


The References section contains various background information, including details of how to read the older documents (with a description of secretary hand and a list of common latin phrases used), a glossary of relevant contemporary terms and a list of sources.


The Research section contains more detail about certain of the issues described elsewhere on the site. It also includes a list of unresolved questions which I have about relating either to the old records or to Manx way of life at the time. I have included some speculation or research of my own with each of these, but would welcome any comments about them to (The above should be caveated by pointing out that my perspective here is that of an amateur family historian and it may well be that the answers are well known, but that I have failed to find or consult the correct reference or source.)


The DNA section covers the science of which genetic genealogy is based, the types of tests available, the insights which can be obtained from those tests and the methods for making those insights. It also includes a section on existing genetic genealogical projects relating to the Isle of Man.




The information in this site is predominately taken from an examination of the original records. Secondary sources such as the major published histories of the pre 1700 Isle of Man (Moore and Dickinson) have been used as guides.


It may also be worth mentioning that the Manx Courts, laws, administration etc. naturally changed over the centuries. The various contemporary Manx accounts from the 18th and 19th centuries are not necessarily reliable guides to the workings of the 16th and 17th century Isle of Man.