The 1450's were a busy time in our area. In 1455 James II stormed Threave Castle and granted Kirkcudbright Royal Burgh status. In 1456 he launched an invasion of the Isle of Man from Kirkcudbright which resulted in a Manx raid on the town the following year.

The Scottish Invasion of Man in 1456 and Manx Raid on Kirkcudbright in 1457.

The history of the Island during the three centuries which followed the downfall of its native kings in 1266 is very inadequately known, owing to the dearth of local records; but following the researches of a Scottish historian, Mrs. Dunlop, a new chapter regarding the relations between Scotland and Man five hundred years ago has come to light in her book on James Kennedy, Bishop of St. Andrews.

When the young James II became King of Scotland in fact as well as in name, about the year 1450, Scottish claims to the suzerainty of Man, precarious at best, had lapsed for more than a hundred years. James nevertheless tried to convert what was no more than a shadowy title into actual dominion, and in 1455 the King of Scots had the temerity to invest his son in the political Lordship of Man. When hostilities again broke out between England and Scotland, he assembled ships and an army at the Galloway seaport of Kirkcudbright and attacked Man in sufficient strength to provoke the retaliation of Thomas I Stanley Lord of the Island, and to incur the threat of Papal excommunication at his instance.

What the Scots achieved is not on record, but the Galloway accounts for 1456 mention 'a ship that was sent to Man to explore when the King's army was there,' and compensation was paid the following year for the wreck of a vessel while at the Island in the King's service.

Thomas I Lord Stanley took immediate steps to avenge the Scots invasion. He placed his eldest son Thomas II, but then in his early twenties, in command of an expedition which was to attack Galloway. A document preserved in the Scottish Register House speaks of Stanley's invasion of ‘Kirkcudbright by sea with his accomplices to the number of five or six hundred men, who plundered and burned the town and committed riefs upon the Marches.'

P. W. Caine has pointed out that Thomas Stanley's raid on Kirkcudbright in 1457 must be the incident referred to in the following passage translated from our Manannan Ballad. In view of the fact that Talbot and other critics were fond of casting doubt on the antiquity and veracity of the Ballad, it is pleasing to observe that this incident is no figment of the imagination.

Then came Thomas Derby, born King,
'Twas he that wore the golden garter;
. . . . . . . .
On Scotchmen he revenged himself,
And he went over to Kirkcudbright,
And there made such havoc of houses,
That some of them are yet unroofed.
Was not that pretty in a young man
To revenge himself while he was but young,
Before his beard had grown round his mouth,
And to carry his men home with him whole.

The Peel Castle Curtain Wall 500 Years Old Now we know that the Scottish King attempted to gain control of Man between 1455 and the time of his accidental death in 1460; and we can understand the reason, hitherto obscure, which impelled the Stanleys to erect the 'extraordinary and massive' curtain wall at Peel Castle whereby for the first time virtually the whole islet was enclosed within the fortress walls. From at least as early as the fourteenth century, Peel Castle was the military strong point and administrative centre of that part of the Island which lay nearest to the unfriendly Scots. It had suffered from a Scottish attack in or about 1388, and can hardly have escaped in 1456. We now know that its massive strengthening by the erection of what is called the 'Green Curtain' (to distinguish it from the older red sandstone wall) was the work of Thomas Stanley.

In 1428, thirty-four years before the incident at Kirkcudbright, there was a customary law that 'all Scotts avoid the land with the next vessel that goeth unto Scotland.' And at a later date the soldiers of the Castle Peel were 'forced to lye in the night before and the night after their watch and ward, because the Castle was 'nearer our enemies the Red Shanks.'

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