Local government (Manx: gurneilys ynnydagh) in the Isle of Man was formerly based on six SHEADINGS, which were divided into seventeen parishes (today referred to as “ancient parishes”). The Island is now divided into town districts, village districts and parish districts for local government purposes as follows:
►Four town districts: Douglas (borough), Castletown, Peel and Ramsey
►Five village districts: Onchan, Michael, Laxey, Port Erin and Port St Mary
►Fifteen parish districts: Andreas, Arbory, Ballaugh, Braddan, Bride, German, Jurby, Lezayre, Lonan, Malew, Marown, Maughold, Patrick, Rushen, Santon
The six SHEADINGS are now only significant as:—
• the districts of the Coroners, and
• the basis of certain electoral constituencies.
(note: the Coroners are responsible for process-serving and enforcement of judgments, not for holding inquests of death; that function is carried out by the High Bailiff, who is ex officio Coroner of Inquests.)
The origins of the term SHEADING are unclear. There are three main possibilities:
►from the Norse word ‘skeid’ – meaning ship-assembly, with each sheading providing men for a warship.
►from a Celtic word meaning sixth part – with the sheadings having been a 14th century Scottish introduction.
►from the Middle English word for an administrative division, ‘scheding’ – with the sheadings having been introduced following English rule in the late 14th century.
The parishes have ecclesiastical roots, and are thought to have introduced to the island in the 11th century from Scotland, the bishopric having been established in the 10th century. Civil parishes also existed from at least the late 15th century, their boundaries diverging significantly in some cases, where one or more Treens might pay their ecclesiastical tithes to one parish, but their Lord’s Rent to another. Parish boundaries broadly followed physical features such as rivers and water-divides, but there were many detailed divergences. For example, a mill and its croft, located on the west bank of a river could be included in the adjoining parish east of the river by a loop in the boundary.
The parishes of each SHEADINGS are:
Ayre – Andreas, Bride, Lezayre
Garff – Lonan, Maughold, Onchan (Kione Droghad)
Glenfaba – German, Patrick
Michael – Ballaugh (Balley ny Loughey), Jurby (Jourbee), Michael (Mael)
Middle – Braddan, Marown, Santon
Rushen – Arbory, Rushen (Rosien), Malew