Peter Cannell held his audience fascinated, amused and very much engaged when he gave a presentation on Saturday 2nd March about the position of women in Manx society. The Manx Civil War of the title was that between the Northsiders and Southsiders, fought in the vicinity of Peel in 1098. Famously at that battle, the women of one of the sides joined the fray and turned the tide of battle. The Chronicle of the Kings of Man and the Isles says the Northsiders won. However, as the women of the south apparently were given the right to inherit, it perhaps suggests that the Southsiders were victorious.

Nevertheless, the right of women to inherit was extended throughout the Island, and made the Island quite distinct from the situation that prevailed elsewhere. Peter showed how that distinction has brought women to the fore at various stages of Manx history, and has served to underline the Island as a distinct entity when surrounding jurisdictions might have pushed other outcomes on Island affairs. The extension of the vote to (certain) women in 1881 was a world first, of which the Island could be justly proud, but the long history of recognition of women’s right of inheritance gave the Island an 800 year head start over others.

Peter’s presentation was far-ranging, detailed and erudite, drawing on his vast reservoir of knowledge of the Island’s history and his understanding of the legal framework, explaining how current roles have developed from what happened in the past.  How much Peter caught the audience’s imagination was very obvious from the questions generated during the course of his talk and the discussions afterwards.

Gura mie mooar ec Peddyr son fastyr feer vie – Grateful thanks to Peter for a very good afternoon.