The curious case of the king of Mann

Given my fascination with nobility, monarchies, and the recognized noble houses of current republics, I often stumble across web sites for such entities, and those who claim (sometimes dubiously) to be noble. Recently, I found a website for David Drew Howe, pretender to the throne of the Isle of Mann. The site overflows with information set forth to establish his claim. The supposition appears to be hinged on the lack of a response from HRH Queen Elizabeth II to a claim to the throne advertised in the London Gazette in 2007:

DAVID DREW HOWE

Notice is hereby given that David Drew Howe claims incorporeal hereditament rights to the independent Kingdom of Mann or Man, together with fons honorum through ancestral descendant of Sir John Stanley; through the passing by letters patent of 1405 to his heirs, according to the course of the common law, for the grant itself by letters patent was warranted by the common law in this case: and therefore, if no other impediment existed, the incorporeal hereditament rights in this case have descend to the heirs general, and not to the heir male. All enquiries through Leonard Warner (Solicitor), of Green Wright Chalton Annis, 60 High Street, Steyning, West Sussex BN44 3RD.

(999)

This article published in 2007 by Fox News could be interpreted as legitimizing the claim. An official of the Isle of Man, however, saw the matter differently:

“As far as the Isle of Man Government is concerned the Isle of Man’s sovereign is Her Majesty the Queen, as Lord of Mann,” Tony Brown, the island’s chief minister, has said. “I am not aware of any valid alternative claim to sovereignty over the Island.”

A nobleman of unquestionable lineage, the Earl of Bradford, maintains a website focused on exposing the purveyance of fake titles. I found no reference to this particular claimant there. I do not postulate however, that a lack of mention be construed as acceptance. I was able to confirm my assumption in an email conversation with Lord Bradford, who said “the King of Man is the Queen”.
There are other men who have taken somewhat creative circumnavigations around the  legal systems of Britain and Commonwealth to establish claims of nobility:
One major difference, however, is that these individuals did not stake their claims based on an ancient lineage, but in what appears to be actual legal loopholes.

A defunct website (unrealroyal.com) published by Michael Andrews-Reading took the Mr. Howes’s claim to task several years ago. It can be resurrected via the WayBack Machine. The latest working instance can be viewed here. I have not validated Mr. Andrews-Reading’s claims, but based on his analysis of pedigree put forth by Mr. Howe, it would appear his claim does not follow the rules of agnatic succession. He also calls into question whether the advertisement in the London Gazette and lack of response from HRH Queen Elizabeth II to contest the claim, serves as legitimization. Moreover, the fact that the site is defunct can be viewed in one of two ways: either Mr. Andrews-Reading conceded to the legitimacy of the Mr. Howe’s claim, or he decided that the claim was so ludicrous that it wasn’t worth the cost of maintaing a site to refute it.

Regardless of Mr. Howe’s claim, it would appear that he plans to remain a modern “king over the water“: 

Not much has changed day to day for King David of Mann, who lives in an unassuming home with his queen, a pistol-packing monarch named Pamela, and their princess, 5-year-old Grace.

“We’re nobody special,” he said.

His friends jokingly call him King Ralph, from the John Goodman movie of the same name, and he occasionally entertains their requests for an informal title, free of charge.

“They’ll rib me enough,” Howe said. “And then I’ll say, ‘OK, get down on your knees,’ but nothing really formal like that.” (2007, Fox News)

So what is my opinion on the matter? Personally, I find it pure whimsy, especially without direct, agnatic succession. It would be a bit like me pretending to the throne of Morgannwg based on a sketchy pedigree tracing back to Iestyn ap Gwrgant (Any highfalutin barrister interested taking up my cause pro bono: email me). Or like Judge John Hanson Briscoe claiming he should be President of the United States because his ancestor, John Hanson, was the President of the United States [in Congress assembled] under the Articles of Confederation. Mr. Howe’s lack of relocation to the Isle speaks volumes, but given the unpopularity of the notion, I can understand why he remains in America. Even if the claim were to be found legitimate, I cannot fathom how Mr. Howe would be able to assume the throne of a kingdom that was absorbed by the British Monarchy hundreds of years ago.

Further reading from this site:

Live like a king

I’ve been on a bit of a monarchy kick lately, and having an anachronistic bent to my thinking, I’ve on occasion compared the blessings my family and I enjoy to those of mediæval royalty. Here are some of my conclusions:

  • A man’s home is his castle. Most homes today pale in comparison to the castle that a mediæval king would have lived in. His castle would have had huge rooms for entertaining, eating, and housing the staff required for all that entertaining and eating. There would have been sufficient rooms for the family and guests for sleeping as well. It would have also required massive fortifications to keep his enemies at bay.

    My “castle” however, does not require huge rooms for entertaining and eating, each of which will be covered separately below. I have sufficient space for a few guests to sit and chat, as well as a dining area that can accomodate them. I don’t have to have housing for my servants, as we soon shall discuss. I don’t need massive fortifications, though I and the neighbors in my “village” have a walled perimeter with an automaton sentry who recognizes each of us individually with the waive of a hand and magically opens the gates for each us. He denies entry to the unauthorized  Should someone attempt to enter my domicile, an invisible guard whistles to let me know a door or window has been breached.

  • Household Servants. A king employed many servants to handle divers mundane tasks. There were servants to clean the home and clothes, to cook the food, and to transport him wherever he desired. The king would direct his top male servant, who would then parse those instructions to the proper junior staff, and the queen would have ladies at her command as well.

    I, or more accurately, my wife, has command of servants for those functions as well, though we are a little more hands on than a king or queen would have been. We have a dish washer to clean the dishes, a clothes washer and dryer at our command for laundry, and a vacuum to tidy up after  the young master Blevins and his sisters. While we have to load many of said devices, they nonetheless carry out the dirty and difficult portions of the work.

  • Transportation. Indeed, past kings had glorious coaches and majestic steeds to travel the countryside. He employed stable boys, horse masters, carriage men, and the like to get him where he needed to go.

    I, however, pilot my own carriage to whatever destination I choose, much like a king in those long-past days would have held the reigns of his own horse. He had one horsepower, I have a couple hundred. AND, my ride eats a liquid diet, requires minimal rest and upkeep, is more difficult to shoot out from under me, straps me securely inside, and has its own merry band of troubadours whom I can change at a whim, without having to pay, feed, or house.

  • Defense. The mediæval king would, directly or indirectly, have under his command an army of serf foot soldiers and a cadre of noble officers. They were more or less loyal to his cause, but if his noble vassals decided, they would take their soldiers and fight against him in favor of his enemy.

    I have no need of having a private military force, because an excellent public force is paid for through my regular tribute to my overlords. An organized constabulary patrols my town and a mighty army is set to protect me from threats domestic and abroad. When those two are unavailable to address a present threat, I have the protection of Messers Smith and Wesson to come to my aid.

  • Entertainment. The king would have had a court full of jesters, singers and dances from the region, all in his direct employ and eating nightly from his table. He also had halls full of wonderful works of art, collected in his lifetime and that of his forebears, at great expense to them. The king was always wary of the theft of his great treasures and thus required his castle and army to protect them.

    I however have a magic looking glass that provides me entertainment from all over the world, in the very instance I demand it. I don’t feed, clothe, or house them, and I share the costs of their talents with millions of other “kings” who have use of their services at the very same instance I do. Using a magic book that I also possess, I can admire many works of art from all over the world, without having to pay for them or protect them.

  • Food. The king had at his disposal the best food that was available in his region in their particular seasons of growing. Spices and sugar were costly commodities, and the cook skilled in preparing the meals was rare as well. There were several kitchen attendants required put on such a great feast, and many more to clean up the mess when it was over. If his palate desired something exotic, he had to either travel to get it, or bring it to him at great expense.

    I, however, do not require these things to eat like a king. I have a small kitchen capable of producing exquisite meals, an icebox capable of keeping them fresh, stores nearby stocking the items so that I need not keep vast quantities of food on-hand, and if I desire the exotic foods of the world, I get in my aforementioned horseless carriage with my family and we dine with the cooks of the foods in facilities decorated in the fashion of the faraway lands and are waited on by servants who I do not have to feed, clothe, nor house, at minimal expense to me.

  • Education. Ancient kings were educated from childhood by the best tutors available. Well, some of them were. Others were as uneducated and illiterate as the serfs working the farms outside the castle. For those who could read, they had copies of the ancient greek and roman texts, if they had access to a scribe, and if the scribe had access to a copy for him to copy. Come to think about it, back then, it was mostly the monks cloistered off and the monasteries who had access to those texts.

    The tribute my parents paid to the overlords of this empire provided me access to an adequate education system where I learned to read, perform complex mathematical calculations, reason and debate, learn basic militarism, and come out far better educated than nearly any mediæval king ever was. After that I spent many years in higher education, while working (gasp!) and caring for my family. And, I have near instant access, through the magic book I mentioned previously, to most any text, ancient or modern, that I should wish to read. The text does not even have to be in my native tongue, for I have invisible magicians who instantaneously translate the text for me in my magic book.

  • Religion. Most kings maintained their own chapels with their own clergy. They may have owned a copy of the Bible, but more often than not they were focused on matters temporal, and not spiritual. The king often had ministers attending to him to care for his spiritual well-being, whether he wanted it or not. The chapel of cathedral the king worshipped in was grand with its stained glass and architecture, but there was only candle-light and the sunlight that God benevolently provides, and its temperature varied with the seasons.

    My family and I simply meet with a local congregation of like-minded Christians, acknowledging we are all servants and heirs of the Kingdom of God. We don’t have a fancy chapel or cathedral to worship in, just a functional building with comfortable seating and climate control, with the minister’s message projected onto the wall behind him, so that one can follow the sermon diligently. We have elders who shepherd over the local flock as is pattern described in the Scriptures.

So in conclusion, who needs to be a king, with all the hassle and cost of managing castle and kingdom, when I can be a man of modest means and live like a king on a smaller scale, and have a simple life that I can heartily enjoy?

The role of true nobility in the 21st century

I ran across an interesting article on the role of true nobility in the 21st century written by Conde Andre Galli, that I’d like to comment on. The article opened with the questions: “What does the Nobility of Blood, in a globalized society and capitalist, as the twenty-first century?” and “Is today the Noble still have a ‘social utility’?” (pardon the broken English from the translation). Those are definitely interesting questions given the move toward socialist tendencies at a macro level. We have an egalitarian idealism that does not bear out in reality. In America, we believe that all men are created equal, but we fail to recognize that equality in Creation means the opportunity to enter into the rest promised by the Christ:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

No equality is guaranteed in this life, nor is there historical nor Biblical precedent for such. There have always been and will always be those of greater or lesser means in this life. This life is not intended to be the focus of one’s energies. We must each make the best of the situation in which we find ourselves. The focus is to be on obeying God and preparing for eternity.

That being said, in traditional, monarchic cultures, those with more were generally noble, and as such, had certain obligations expected of them. To again quote the article:

Truly, the function of nobility is a sacred function, which should not be compared with the activity of the bourgeoisie, or the ruling classes in our modern republics.

The function of Nobility is to be the true pillar of moral support from society, without which, society falls apart in a sea of corruption.

 …

Today, Noble families often find themselves without economic possessions, many even bankrupt economic total, but this should not be an excuse to abandon its obligations Noble with the Nobility, and society itself, that many sometimes denies his own existence as Noble.

“First of all, the splendor of Blood, the virtue of their ancestors and made ​​famous predispose so wonderful the noble man to march in the footsteps of those from whom he is descended”.

However much contemporary society, capitalist and skeptical, denying the existence of Class Noble, leave this duty is always clear their existence, but how to do this?

“An elite? Ye (the Nobles) you may well be. Tends behind you the whole past of ancient traditions, which represent the fundamental values ​​for the healthy life of a people. Among these traditions, which you rightly ufanais, reckoning First religiosity, Catholic Faith alive and active”.

It is always the duty of the Nobility, though often impoverished materially, be the beacon of society in which he lives. Must Noble, in the XXI century, be a source of moral and loyalty to the Catholic Church, without which no true nobility.”

In current times, all jobs that do not offend the moral and good customs, are considered worthy, so can be operated by descendants of Noble and Nobility. Although it would not be operating at all, that the Nobles seek to be recognized as such in their work environments, these same nobles demosntrar should be what they are, doing their job with the utmost honesty and good conduct thus soon be recognized spontaneously by coworkers, and even by employers.

But the Nobility should not only seek profit, must first seek to win treasures from God, for “The Nobility who lives for profit and not for the Faith without Catholic ideals, aburguesada, Nobility is a corpse!”

While I would disagree that one must be Catholic to be noble, or noble by blood to be noble, the rest of the commentary is sound advice. While any noble blood coursing through my veins has been diluted for centuries, I am still reminded of Robert Nicoll’s poem True Nobility.

Furthermore, noble families did not spring forth from the earth as nobility. They most often grew over centuries from modest roots, where a patriarch of the family at some juncture committed some act that put the family on a noble trajectory. Those of us who wish to establish our own familial legacies must be cognizant of this fact.

At its essence, nobility is a basic tennet of conservatism: maintaining the norms and traditions associated with the aristocracy for a thousand years. Over time, there have been improvements and digressions, but overall, the institution has been stable.

It has been the intrusion of mercantilism in the past several hundred years that caused instability in the system. These newly rich were on par with the nobles, and in many cases surpassing them, financially, but they lacked the generations of refinement that had shaped the noble families. Not that snobbery makes a person better. Even the high-bred can be low-class. It is up to each of us, whether noble by blood or noble in spirit, to live good and honorable lives that we would have our children, their children, and their children’s children emulate.

I look forward to Conde Galli’s next post on this topic.

True Nobility

At the Art of Manliness, the McKays have published great post on the Stoic-Christian Code of Honor, which I encourage you to read, and the poem at the end by Robert Nicoll is particularly wonderful: 

True Nobility
“I ask not for his lineage,
I ask not for his name;
If manliness be in his heart,
He noble birth may claim.

I care not though of world’s wealth
But slender be his part,
If yes you answer when I ask,
‘Hath he a true-man’s heart?’

I ask not from what land he came,
Nor where his youth was nursed;
If pure the spring, it matters not
The spot from whence it burst.

The palace or the hovel
Where first his life began,
I seek not of; but answer this—
‘Is he an honest man?’

Nay, blush not now; what matters it
Where first he drew his breath?
A manger was the cradle-bed
Of Him of Nazareth.

Be nought, be any, everything,
I care not what you be,
If yes you answer, when I ask
‘Art thou pure, true, and free?”

Prince of Sealand Dies At 91

I hate to hear my favorite para-noble has passed away:

Prince of Sealand Dies At 91: jdavidb writes “46 years ago, occupying an abandoned WWII platform off the coast of Britain, Paddy Roy Bates declared independence, naming himself Prince of the Principality of Sealand. Today, Bates has passed away at 91. Long time Slashdot readers will remember Sealand as the site of HavenCo, an unsuccessful data warehousing company that tried to operate from Sealand outside the reach of larger nations’ legal structures. They may also remember plans that the Pirate Bay had at one time to buy Sealand. Bates had moved to a care home a few years ago, naming his son Michael Regent of Sealand.”

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Interesting discussion on the UK Honors System

The discussion on the video is well worth listening to.

Honours in the UK: Debate with Peter Tatchell following the publication of the Commons Select Committee Honours Report: The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee today published its report on the UK Honours System. Unfortunately, despite a couple of useful recommendations, the Committee’s report was rather misleading — and, due to lack of knowledge of the subject, these inaccuracies were perpetuated today by much of the British media.
I appeared on Sky News this morning to debate the subject with Peter Tatchell. The discussion may be viewed by clicking on the video link below:


I always think it a shame that America doesn’t have a formal Honors System like many of our Anglophile neighbors, but then I remember that we don’t have a fount of honor, we have a President. Our sovereignty does not lie in a monarch, but in the people themselves.

That being said, there are awards and decorations that are conferred upon US citizens, the highest being the Presidential Medal of Freedom (see a video of this year’s ceremony). A listing of civilian awards can be found here.