The Family Tree by N.C. Kermode



NOTES AND QUERIES                                                                               Vol. I, No. 5

December 1969/January 1970

Price to non-members:  1s.6d.


By N.C. Kermode

            The compiling of a family tree is a fascinating occupation, involving the compiler in almost endless, though pleasant, hours of searching through records of the past history, parochial and national, of the Isle of Mann.

            This article is the result of an illustrated lecture given to the Field Section of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, which was well received; and it is hoped that the task of maintaining its interest, when robbed of its illustrations, has not proved insuperable.  And to make it easier for the author, as it was an intensely personal pursuit, much use will be made of the first personal pronoun and an intimate style, for which toleration is sought.

            It has taken me three years to get as far back as I have — 350 years– and a temporary halt was called at the end of that period.  My wife, at that time, was seeking for speakers for the Lonan Women’s Fellowship and suggested that, after all my labours, I should give an illustrated talk on my family tree, and the lecture already heard was the result of that request.  Consequently, most of the material is of very local interest, but I do hope that what is left of it after its pruning, will still be interesting and will show the way for any would-be “family tree-ers”.

            Mr. H.S. Cowin’s booklet on the Genealogy of the Isle of Mann sets out thoroughly the sources of information available, but I did not know of this useful guide until I was at the end of my search.  So, what follows is my own struggle.

            Apart from the not uncommon natural curiosity about one’s ancestors, I had in my possession an indenture of 1849, apprenticing my grandfather, James Kermode, to Thomas Corrin as a mason, which increased my interest.  I suppose this class of document is common enough, but the strict terms regarding the abstention form ale-houses, cards, dice, etc., is worthy or note; but more interesting still is the very good handwriting of the subscribers, one of whom (William Kermode, my great-grandfather) was born in 1795, which shows that there was a good level of education in the Isle of Mann, even in the country districts, more than 150 years ago.  And I have seen my great-great-grandfather’s signature, which was very legible, and he was born in 1757.  The witness of the document, T.W. Kerruish, was the schoolmaster of the parish as well as the parish clerk, and the school itself, now used as a Church Hall, stands on the brink of a stream–the Clerk’s River–at the southern end of the little group of houses between Baldrine and Laxey, known as Old Chapel.

            A gravestone in Lonan parish Churchyard showed William’s wife’s maiden name to be Isabella Kewley from Ballacoar, and it came to light in other searches that her sister Mary was married to this T.W. Kerruish.

            I also had two letters written by my great-grandfather to his son James (he of the indenture), who had emigrated to America shortly after his marriage in 1859 to Anne Kelly of Balladhoo (I have their marriage certificate).  There was a lot of human interest in these letters, including an account of a tragedy at the regatta held in Laxey Bay in August 1866, when two men were drowned whilst setting markers.  These letters were not stamped, but were franked in New York with the amount payable.

            So, with these documents I had gone back 170 years without trouble, on both the male and female sides and this is the tree as it stood then.

                        WILLIAM KERMODE         m.        ISABELLA KEWLEY         

                        b. 1795    d. 1878                                b. 1801   d. 1874

                        JAMES KERMODE              m.        ANNE KELLY

                        b. 1834   d. 1903                                 b. 1834   d. 1919

                        NORMAN KERMODE         m.        ANNIE PRESTON

                        b. 1875   d. 1960                                 b. 1874   d. 1957

                        NORMAN KERMODE         m.        MARION HEDGECOCK     

                        b. 1903                                                b. 1908

                                                NORMA MARION KERMODE

                                                                  b. 1946

Fig. 1    Line of descent compiled from family documents.

            It now became obvious that recourse would have to be made to the Parish Registers.  I knew these were kept in Lonan Vicarage, but it seemed asking too much of the vicar to let me spend hundreds of hours in his sitting room perusing the registers, and I discovered that copies of these were on microfilm in the Manx Museum Reference Library, so that is where the hours were spent.  Many interesting facts come to light as you go back through these records of local history being written as it occurred.  You notice with dismay that addresses are not given for any entries earlier than about 1840, which is a pity, as they are a great help in keeping to the right line, and, until about 1860, there was no compulsory registration of births, so if your parents didn’t take you to church and have you baptised, then as far as written records were concerned you didn’t exist until you got married, and even at that event, your parents didn’t get a mention.  Fortunately for us, from that time forward to 1871 the census returns are available in the Museum.  These, of course, tie people into families, and to specific places, and the year of birth of the old folk often provides a further step back in the family tree.  With further dismay you note that when you reach back to about 1800, the maiden name of the mother, which had previously featured in baptisms, was not omitted, and a typical entry would read — William, son of Thomas Kermode baptised June 9th, 1793 –which, you must admit, doesn’t carry a lot of information relevant to the task in hand.

            As you browse along, local stories suddenly become real.  In one of W.W. Gill’s Scrapbooks we read of a man named Stowell being lost on the mountains, but I heard a different version from the Stowells of Riversdale, which was that this Philip Stowell was courting a girl in Sulby, and returning to Laxey around Christmas 1813, he was overwhelmed in a blizzard on the side of Clagh Ouyr, and his body was not found until the following Spring and, sure enough, here is the record of his burial on May 4th, 1814, with the remark — perished on the mountain.  And to make it still more real, I had already seen the stone on the mountainside which marks the end of that tragic journey.  Tragedy again strikes when you read of twenty-two people dying of smallpox in the space of a few weeks in 1725, one of whom was a Mary Kermod who turned out to be a 5x great aunt of mine, and whose untimely death as a child actually was of great assistance to me in completing my family tree.

            But more of that anon, and back to more recent times.  I confidently expected to find in the baptismal register for 1795  (William’s year of death minus his age as given on his tombstone) an entry for his baptism, but, alas, it was absent.  And further search revealed that the only record of a William Kermode’s baptism in the register from 1790 to 1810 — a spread of twenty years — was the one quoted further back, namely — William son of Thomas Kermode baptised June 9th, 1793.

            Was this our William?  Or had our William not been baptised at all?  Or were his parents living in another parish, or even in England when he was born?  The prospect seemed daunting, but the hurdle had to be surmounted in some way, so about six months were now spent locating all the Thomases in the Parish Register who could have been father to the William of 1793 and in the long run, proving that he was one of the Kermodes of Amogarry, under Windy Corner, who were living there in 1511 and, indeed, have only deserted their patrimony within my lifetime.

            In casting round for a solution of this seemingly insoluble problem, I began to wonder why, of the five Kermode families living in the Old Chapel district four of them (including ourselves) should be related, but the fifth, who were farming Lagdoo, were not of the same line.  It seemed strange that an unrelated family of the same name as ourselves should have settled in our midst.   So off to the Museum Reference Library again, to find out something about this family.  And in the Bridge House Composition Book of 1703 I found that the only Kermode family in the district at that time was one headed by a Daniell Kermod, holding Lagdoo (Manx Gaelic for “dark hollow” still to be seen on the edge of the brooghs).  This Composition Book is invaluable, as it gives names to all the Island properties, for the first time in many instances, and also the names of their owners.  So I traced this line of Kermodes back via the Liber Vastarum (a book recording changes of land ownership), shocking writing in places, to a William Kermott who took possession of Lagdoo in 1625, and then I traced it forward in the same book to 1833 where it overlapped our existing tree of Fig. 1.  This is how it looked at this time:

                        WILLIAM KERMOTT          took possession of Lagdoo in 1625



                                    DANIELL                  (of the 1703 Composition Book)




            b. 1757            WILLIAM        D. 1833

                                         ETC.                        ?         WILLIAM             b. 1795




                                                                                    NORMA MARION

                           LAGDOO LINE                             BAY VIEW LINE

Fig. 2   These are the two lines which it is hoped to join up.

            Our next problem was to tie these two lines together.  And this took a long time, too.  I found the will of the William who dies on Lagdoo in 1833 and this showed that he actually had a son William whose name did not appear in the Parish Register.  But there were two snags.  Why didn’t this William inherit Lagdoo?  And William the elder left “to my eldest son’s daughter, Ann” one guinea, but Ann, daughter of William and Isabella wasn’t born until 1840.  So this was not the way through.

            Now, in an effort to broaden the general view of the various Kermode families, I read through all the land transfers in which Kermodes were involved from 1700 to 1833, and here I found the solution.  It was the conveyance of the “Bay View” property, the family home to William my great-grandfather from his father William Kermode of Lagdoo and Ann Quine, his wife, in 1829, and it is also revealed why he didn’t inherit the farm.  In describing the location of “Bay View” (then know as Bill Kermode’s Croft) it mentions a field “belonging to Isabella Kermode otherwise Croaghan, “my eldest son’s widow”. So our William wasn’t the eldest son but the second, and the heir to Lagdoo was John, a minor, son of John, the eldest son who died in 1824.  I now had the male line complete from 1625 to the present day, and it showed that where I now live had been occupied by the Kermodes for 350 years.

            Could I go back any further with the line?  I don’t think it would be too difficult.  In the 1625 entry in the liber Vastarum showing William Kermott taking up possession, above his name is the crossed-out name of James Kermott, whom I take to be his father, and there are pointers in his (William’s) will of 1666 which lead me to think that he came from the district around the old Parish Church near Groudle, to farm Lagdoo, and sure enough, if we examine the Liber Assedationis for 1511-1515, the earliest available, we find Edmund McGermot (an older form of Kermott) and his son William holding a farm there, and I have seen an entry in the Liber Assed. of about 1575 showing this land was then held by a John McGermot.  And the James of the 1625 Liber Vast. could well be a son of his.  If so, the line is complete to 1511.

            Further back still?  Documentary evidence becomes very meagre now, though there was a Patrick MacGermot appearing in the record of a court held at Castle Rushen in 1430.  And further still?  Well, as a flight of fancy, what about this?  — If we consult A.W. Moore’s book on Manx Personal Names we find under the entry for Kermode, the suggestion that the MacDermots (of which name Kermode is the modern form) lived at MacDermot’s Castle (W.B. Yeats “Castle of the Heroes”) on Carraig MacDiarmada in Lough Key in Co. Roscommon, Eire, and these MacDermots can trace their line back to Eochy Moyvane, Kind of Ireland from 358-366.   And when you come to think of it, the forenames of the three McGermot families in the Parish of Lonan at the time of the first Liber Addes.  (1511-1515) were Patrick, Dermot and Eamonn  (surely not the Anglo-Saxon name of Edmund in a purely Gaelic speaking community).  All characteristically Irish names–it makes you wonder.

Fig. 3.  The funeral account of Mary Kermod, which was of great assistance in completing the final part of the family tree.

(following is my attempt at translation…I couldn’t make out the numbers)

Lonan  An acct of the funeral charges of Mary Kermod of Lonan, expended by her Step-Father Nicholas Cowin, as follows:

                        burying Cloths……………………………………



                        A Carpenter for Making of Coffin…………

                        Dates(?) for Coffin………………………………




                        burying money…………………………………….


Feb. 28, 1726. It was given in.

But away from the realms of fantasy.  With the male line complete, I was now more interested in completing the female side of the line of descent from William of the  1625 Liber Vast. than in the various branches of the family, and with the aid of wills made by the sundry Kermodes, I was able to find the maiden names of all the wives back to 1699.  But here now was another blank wall.  Two wives’ names to find and it took me eighteen months to do it.  Their names could not be in the Liber Assed. as their husbands held the land.  Where else would we be able to find them?  The earliest Register for Lonan parish is that of 1718, so that was of no use to us.  Where now?  Was it possible that, as a couple, they had both got into trouble with the authorities and their linked names would appear in court records?  All the court records from 1630 to 1690 were read without success.  But it was very interesting to note that the residents of the Parish of Lonan were being fined for not sending their children to school in the year 1700.  compulsory education was in force in the Isle of Mann 170 years before its introduction into England.  Almost defeated now, I turned to the records of the Ecclesiastical Courts — some very interesting reading of the peccadilloes of past generations here, but no success to our search for the two wives’ names.

            During our perusal of the land transfers involving various Kermodes, I had found a marriage contract between William, eldest son of Daniell Kermod (he of the 1703 Composition Book) and Catherin Quay, daughter of William Quay, a brewer of Laxey, and dated 1701.  This William died in 1722, leaving four children, one of whom was Mary Kermod who died as a child in the smallpox epidemic of 1725 and whom I have already mentioned when talking about Parish Registers.  Her father left her 10/- in is will and, being a child, she had not been paid out this sum before her death, but her funeral account still exists, and…-Fig.3.

            It was this sad little document, showing the expenditure of the 10/- on her burial, that gave me the clue which led to the successful conclusion of my search for the two wives’ names.  it was stated in it that the amount had been expended by her step-father, Nicholas Cowin.  So her mother had married again and, out of curiosity, I sought for the record of her marriage to Nicholas Cowin in the Parish Register.  To my great surprise, I found that after fifteen years of marriage to William Kermod and bearing him four children (including my 5X great-grandfather), she re-married in her maiden name of Catherin Quay, and I fell to wondering if this use of the maiden name in widowhood was a common custom.  Investigation of a sample selection of women’s wills made before 1700 showed this was common enough and, indeed, they didn’t have to be widows to use their maiden name when making a will.

            This now meant that the index of wills, so time-saving in locating a particular document, was of no use with regard to married women.  And I was faced with the task of reading all the wills made by the women of Lonan parish from 1630 to 1690, the custom seeming to due out about 1700.  And from all this reading I was able to find the names of the first and second Williams’ wives.

            So, at last, I had uncovered the complete line of descent from the William Kermott who took possession of Lagdoo in 1625, and this is it (Fig. 4).

Lib. Vast.        WILLIAM KERMOTT          m.        MARGARET KISSGAGE    Will

and Will           b. 1600   d. 1666                                                         d. 1662

Lib. Vast.        WILLIAM KERMOTT          m.        JONEY COTTEENE              Will

and Will           b. 1630   d. 1701                                                         d. 1679           

   do.                DANIELL KERMOD            m.        ANN FARGHER                   Will

                        b. 1654   d. 1724                                                         d. 1699

Mar. settlemt.  WILLIAM KERMOD           m.        CATHERIN QUAY   Mar. settlemt.

and Will           b. 1678   d. 1722                                 remarried as a widow

Par. Reg.         WILLIAM KERMOD           m.        ELLINOR QUAYLE             Will

and Will           b. 1708   d. 1786                                                         d. 1783

Par. Reg.         WILLIAM KERMOD           m.        MARY SKILLICORN           Will

and Will           b. 1731   d. 1799                                                         d. 1799           

Par. Reg.         WILLIAM KERMODE         m.        ANN QUINE                         Will

and Will           b. 1757   d. 1833                                 Par. Reg. lost.

Monumt.         WILLIAM KERMODE         m.        ISABELLA KEWLEY

                        b. 1795   d. 1878                                 b. 1801   d. 1874

                        (   JAMES KERMODE          m.        ANNE KELLY          )

                        (   b.1834   d. 1903                              b. 1834   d. 1919         )

                        (                                                                                               )

Family             (   NORMAN KERMODE     m.        ANNIE PRESON       )   Family

knowledge      (   b. 1875   d. 1960                             b. 1874   d. 1957         )   knowledge

                        (                                                                                               )

                        (   NORMAN KERMODE     m.        MARION                   )

                        (   b. 1903                                            HEDGECOCK b.1908)

                        (                                                                                               )

                        (                       NORMA MARION KERMODE                   )

                                                                   b. 1946

Fig. 4.    Complete line of descent from the William Kermott who settled

on Lagdoo in 1625.

PART TWO–(the yellow papers–question marks indicate places where I couldn’t make out the handwriting while typing.  Amy Kermott)


Further research into the ancestry of the Kermode family of “Bay View”, Lonan, continuing my monograph published by the Isle of Man natural history and Antiquarian Society in Vol. 1 No. 5 of their Notes and Queries

Following on from p. 49, next but last paragraph of that monograph, where it is suggested that it shouldn’t be too difficult to go forward from the earliest available Liber Assedationis (the Earl of Derby’s rent roll) and this proved to be the case, and we can trace forward the family through these Manorial Rolls, and also the Liber Vastarum (a book recording tenancy changes) via the original entry of Edmund and William through more William and Edmunds, Wm’s alone, and into 2 Johns father and son who gave up the tenancy of Ballakilley in 1571.  And in that same year two other sons (presumably now out of a job) took up the tenancy of another farm near the site of the present Lonan  Parish Church.  These were a William and a James and they and their various descendants (Patrick, Robert, William and another James) kept it going till at least 1622, when the then James got an official post as Warden of the Watch, and retired to live in a cottage in Laxey.  And in 1625 in the Liber Vast. we find our William taking up Lagdoo in place of a James and a Robert whose crossed out names appear in the same entry.  It looks as if they intended to take the land, but for some reason didn’t and it says on the bottom of the entry–“Kermott is in possession of this parcel and paying the rent”, and that is our line and we are still occupying the land after nearly 360 years.  The change in spelling from MacGermott in the early 1500’s to Kermott in the early 1600’s is worthy of notice.  This is the universal Manx practice of dropping the “Ma” of Mac (Mac-Manx Gaelic-son of) and just leaving the ‘C’ to start the name.  Most Gaelic Manx names start with a C, K, or Q, all relics of the end of Mac.  I don’t think these people would voluntarily change the spelling, indeed I don’t think they could write, so the spelling was a product of what the English speaking and writing scribes thought they heard.  At this point it is interesting to note that an American presented himself at our National Museum some years ago, seeking information, and his name was Kermott, so his forbears would seem to have been in America for some considerable time.  The double “t” at the end represents the sound of the final “da” in the Irish form of the name–“Macdiarmada (son of Dermot) and just while we are on the subject, the “di” is pronounced as “ge” or perhaps “j” in modern Irish.

            Lagdoo, the family estate was in the next treen (a Manx land division) to the one originally taken up by the William and James of 1541.  How long they held that land beyond the James of 1622 retiring, I haven’t traced out.  I was only interested in my own direct line antecedents on Lagdoo.

            The Manorial Rolls are lost (probably 100 years of them) before 1511, and quite a few after that, too, so there are practically no written records before 1511, except some of sittings of the Tynwald Courts (which actually have met continuously since the late 800’s, the oldest continuous parliament in the world.)  In records of three of these Tynwald  Courts we find in 1430, Patrick MacGermott complaining about certain reserved rents being put to wrong uses,—in 1414 a William MacGermott is on the Court Rolls, and in 1407 there appears a John MacGermott.  These were all members of the Tynwald Court and were described as “the eldest and worthiest of the Commons of Mann,” in today’s parlance “Members of the House of Keys.”  Unfortunately it doesn’t say where they lived.  I haven’t seen the original manuscripts, and my reference book doesn’t mention any place-names, and in any case they would be there as members, representing the various Sheadings, quite large political districts, so whether they were ours or not, I don’t know, but the Edmund of 1511 was also “one of the eldest, etc” so he might be born in 1450, the Patrick of 1430 could be his father, and the John of 1407, his grandfather.  Any documents earlier than 1407 are Papal Bulls and of no interest to us, so we have to try another tack.

If we refer to “Manx Names” by A.W. Moore, we find him saying that Kermode was a form of MacDermott, a kindly race from Roscommon in the Republic of Ireland.  Quoting him–“:The MacDiarmada or Mac Dermotts  were princes of Moylurg, in Co. Roscommon.  They split into three families, the head of whom was styled The MacDermott and the other two, who were tributary to him, were called MacKermott Ruadh, (the Red) and MacDermott Gall, or the Anglicised.”

            So now we have to switch our searches to Ireland, and, consulting the writers of books on Irish surnames, sure enough we find in Dr. Edward MacLysaghts “Irish Families” that Kermode is given as a variant of MacDermott, and in use in the west of Ireland.  Similarly with Father Patrick Woulfe’s “Sloinnte Gaedhal is Gall”  (trans.-“Surnames Gaelic and Foreign”) he also gives Kermode as a variation of MacDermott.

            So we definitely have to shift the centre of our activities to Co. Roscommon, to the district called in the old records, Moylurg, which turns out to be the district around the town of Boyle and from information gained from the tourist office there, we found that the residence in past times of the MacDermotts was a castle on an island called Carraig MacDiarmada (MacDermotts Rock) in Lough Key, a very beautiful island-studded lake, but they now lived on a large estate called Coolavin.  We also asked, if we could pluck up enough courage to call on the head of the clan to make enquiries, how should we address him and we were told “The MacDermott”.  The MacDermotts are one of twelve Irish families entitled to use the word “the” before their surname.  He is the only man in Ireland with the title Prince (of Coolavin) and we got to know him and his wife very well, well enough to be invited to stay with them.

            As the main purpose of our visit was genealogical, scanned and copied his family tree fairly thoroughly, and sundry other books in his library.  I didn’t quite know what I was looking for, but if there was a MacGermott in the Tynwald Court in 1407 described as “one of the eldest, etc” he could have been born in, say, 1340, so I was looking from that date back.  I spotted a very likely candidate in Dermot Gall MacDermott (obviously from the “Gall”, friendly to the Anglo Norman invaders of a hundred and odd years ago) and the date of his death I found out from another source (National Library of Ireland) as 1316.  This struck a familiar chord in my memory and I remembered it as the date of an Irish foray on the Isle of Mann.  This was a very turbulent time for the Isle of Mann with the fall of the Norse rule of 300 years, as King Haakon’s defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Langs in 1266, and the consequent claim of the Scots to possession of all the Norse dominions (including Ireland and the Isle of Mann) and the English counter-claims to both.  Indeed in 1313, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, invaded and subdued Mann, and then went on to defeat the English at Bannockburn in 1314, which put a seal on the Scots claim, even to Ireland, which Bruce’s brother Edward invaded in 1315.  Obviously life would be difficult in both Mann and Ireland and I came to wonder, how did one acquire an estate in those uncertain years?  You couldn’t go to the Isle of Mann with a bag of gold coins and look for an estate agent, and I came to the conclusion that there were three ways, namely–invasion, which meant defeating the inhabitants, and continuing to hold what you had taken by force of arms for a long time, –influence, which could get you land,–or marry into a land-owning family, or, as I was dimly seeing now, a combination of all three.  So now to study Manx history, and our earliest authentic records are those written by the monks of Rushen Abbey called (as there are written in Latin, Chronicon Manniae et Insulatum, the Chronicle of Mann and the Isles (The Hebrides).  This is in medieval Latin, but in A.W. Moore’s “History of the Isle of Mann” there is a translation of a particular passage round about the date I was interested in (1316) and this is it:  “On Ascension Day in 1316, Richard de Mandeville with his brothers and others of note, and a body of Irish freebooters, disembarked at Ronaldsway and demanded either a grant of land, or a supply of provisions, cattle and money.  The Manx replied that they would give nothing, but were prepared to resist them in the open field.  The Irish messenger returned and reported the answer they had received.  Upon this, the Irish, roused to anger, prepared for the contest and advanced in two bodies against the Manxmen till they came along the side of Wardfell(?) (now called South Barrule mountain) to an open spot, where was the residence of one John de Mandeville.  Here the hostile parties met and fought.  At the first onset, the Manxmen turned and fled, leaving forty men dead on the field.  The Irish pursued, some on foot, some on horseback, killing and wounding great numbers, plundering the country of it’s valuables etc, etc”–and indeed, they plundered Rushen Abbey to such a degree that no more history was written there, except certain ecclesiastical matters.  But here was an invasion from Ireland at the particular period which interests us, and which could easily have brought the first MacDermott to Mann.  He could have come as one of the invaders, was wounded and sought refuge in John de Mandeville’s house, and eventually stayed and married a de Mandeville girl and thus founded the Manx MacDermotts, now with their name worn down to Kermode.

            This was an attractive theory, how could we prove it?  It seemed very strange that the garrison of Castle Rushen, only two miles away, hadn’t taken part in the action, and the invaders were foot-loose for a month, and it looked as if Richard de Mandeville and John de Mandeville worked in collusion here, and I wondered how an Anglo-Norman like John de Mandeville got his lands in the Isle of Mann.  A lot more research and I found that the Earl of Ulster, Richard de Burke, was “keeper of the Isle of Mann” for the English Crown in 1290, and Thomas de Mandeville was his seneschal, so here was an excellent opportunity for John de Mandeville (of Wardfell) to get his lands, very probably he was Thomas’ son.  If this was so, did the de Burkes, and de Mandevilles and the MacDermotts know one another in Ireland?  Fortunately just at this time (after a lot of troublesome searching) I found that in the Douglas Town Library was one particular Irish history I wanted to read, the Annals of Lough Key (in which Lough is situated MacDermott’s Castle).  This was in the Tabbot collection, together with a large number of Irish histories including another important one I wanted to read, the Annals of the Four Masters.  A lot of work was done with these and other books, and it could be clearly shown that the Burkes (one of them was named Edmund William, a son of Richard, Earl of Ulster, remember those fornames on the 1511 MacGermotts) had intermarried with the MacDermotts and they had gone on forays together.  And what about the de Mandevilles.  They were more difficult to trace as they often used their Gaelic name, MacQuillin, and strange to relate and very important to us, too, a lot of them were actually quartered on the MacDermotts for the winter of 1315, and during the planning of the foray against the Isle of Mann, what a chance for an adventurous young scion of the MacDermott’s to join in a raid, a popular Irish pastime at that period. (The deMandevilles were back raiding the Isle of Mann in 1329).  Prospects were bleak in MacDermotts country at that time, their castle was burned down four times in sixty years (it was probably wood at that time).  one of the de Mandevilles had a son named Edmund (that name again) too, one that was quartered on the MacDermotts.

            So we have built up some evidence to show that a MacDermott could have got a hold in the Isle of Mann by invasion, influence or marriage, or all three.  There are sundry other bits of evidence, all of which point in the same direction, but unfortunately this foray of Richard de Mandevilles didn’t leave a passenger list, which would have made things very easy and if only the Chronicles of Rushen Abbey had named the “others of note”.

            So we are left to see what traces could be found in the Isle of Mann.  Let us revert to the Chronicles, and we find that John de Mandevilles house was at an open spot on the side of Wardfell (now South Barrule), and take a look at the first Manorial Roll even if it is 200 years on, and we find in the treen of Grenaby, which is the first bit of flat land at the foot of Barrule, the tenant is Robyn MacGermott.  Robyn is a Norman name, if ever there was one, and surely he must have got it from his de Mandeville forebears side.  And if we look at the names of the other farms adjacent on the side of Barrule, the only two which don’t have completely Gaelic names are Ballarobyn and Ballagilbert, Robyn’s and Gilberts farms.  For comparison the names of the other farms in the treen of Wardfell are Kerrowkull, Kerrowbaroole and Kerrowmooar, all pure Gaelic.  And close by is another Norman name, Ballarobert.  Robert was a family name of the Kermodes and my grandfather’s first-born, who died in America as a child, was named Robert, the more formal form of Robin.  A few more pointers, the very noted expert on Manx history, P.M.C. Kermode expressed the opinion that his family originated in the district round the southern flank of Barrule.  I don’t know what evidence he had for this belief.  I did ask at our National Museum if they held any manuscripts of his, but no.

            It is interesting, too, to note that one of the members of the Court of Tynwald of 1430 was Germote MacWilline (Macquillin a later de Mandeville name), and also Germote MacMartin, a still later de Mandeville name, both tied up with Germote as a forename.  And very often in 1511 where you find a MacGermott holding land, close by you will find a MacMartin (or Martinson).

            Another point, there is still a Ballaquillin on the north side of Barrule.  So all these pointers suggest that my theory has substance, if not proof positive, that the first Kermode was a MacDermott with Richard de Mandeville and his band in 1316, who settled and started the Manx MacDermotts of which there are considerable number on the Isle of Mann today, under their Manx name Kermode, and indeed all over the world.  One branch emigrated to Tasmania, the head of which was known as the Father of Tasmania.

            The vital question now: Do we have any information as to whom this first Manx MacDermot was?  In view of the close physical connection of the MacDermots and the de Mandevilles, then using the name MacQuillin, in the winter of 1315, and before, (Edmund MacQuillin’s father was killed in 1311 on MacDermotts lands) we can assume that he wouldn’t be of the peasant class, and was probably one of the “others of note”, who tied up with a de Mandeville woman. 

            A very close study of the MacDermott’s family tree, issued by the Irish Genealogical Office showed that a Dermot Gall MacDermott was killed in 1316.  It would be nice to think he was our link, but I am more inclined to think it would be his son, probably of the same name, as the 1316 MacDermott was in his mid-forties when he was killed and would almost certainly be married by that age and not free to marry a de Mandeville.

            I am always trying to find fresh information to tighten the link, but this is as far as I’ve got.  There is no doubt that there are Kermodes in the Isle of Mann and the original users of the name were the MacDermots of Moylurg, as is shown on their official family tree drawn up by the Ulster King at Arms and they can trace their ancestry back to about 350 A.D. and if you are very fussy, if you consult manuscript no. 158, page 180 in the Royal Irish Academy you will find the MacDermott and therefore the Kermode tree going back to B.C. 1385.

            As a matter of side interest the MacDermott family tree shows the name first being used by the sons of Conor, King of Moylurg in 1160.  It was interesting to see one’s surname being used for the first time, as there were no surnames in use in Britain or Ireland round the year 1000 A.D.  The Norman invaders introduced them at the conquest and the idea was soon taken up.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply