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:

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?”

Were the Hessians mercenaries?

I didn’t gain a real appreciation of the dynamics of the American Revolution until many years after my compulsory service in the American variant of the Prussian Education System. I’ve had a few epiphanies in my quest for independent thought over the years that might deviate from traditional, conservative American views.

One is an appreciation for the absolute excellence in propaganda that is the Declaration of Independence. I mean that in the most positive sense. The ascertation of natural rights , but the hyperbole directed at King George III is the stuff of legend. Modern politicians and tacticians would do well to learn from the master, President Thomas Jefferson.

(Caveat: While I appreciate both sides of a story (hindsight 20/20 and all…) the oath that the Blevinses actually alive during those events was probably the best move for the family at that time. See my previous post on William Blevins, the Long Hunter, under the heading “The Revolution” for more details.)

However, the epiphany that I want to discuss today is that Hessians who fought beside the British Army were not mercenaries.

Here is the basis for that postulation:

  • Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.
  • Hired for service in a foreign army.
  • The Hanoverian dynasty of British monarchs was by and large an Anglo-Germanic family.
  • The German aristocrats whose units were fighting against the Colonists had family ties to the British crown.
  • I’m sure there are much more learned individuals who have so thoroughly covered this topic as to make a rank amateur such as myself look a fool for even endeavoring to discuss it, but I will nonetheless. It helps me to better understand it to think it out in my own feeble way.
    First, to dispense of the definition. The Hessian soldiers did not enlist in the British army to enrich themselves. They served at the behest of their princes, in their units, with their flags and uniforms. If anything, it was a coalition force, similar to what we have in modern warfare.
    Second, is the fact that the House of Hanover was a German royal line that began with George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and ended (with regards to the British royal branch) with Queen Victoria. Were it not for the onset of WWI, the House of Windor might still refer to itself as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. That is an interesting story in and of itself.
    Third is the fact that the German princes and nobles sending their soldiers to America to fight for the British were in some cases, related to the British royal family. Take for instance, Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. He was the son-in-law of King George II, and thus the uncle of George III. The reason that the Germans fighting in America were known as “Hessians” was because so many of them were subjects of Frederick. There was also Charles Alexander, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a distant cousin of George III. After the war, he and his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Craven, lived in England breeding horses.
    In all cases, the German princes were paid for the services of their military forces, but it’s too complicated to just toss around the designation “mercenary”. Again I default to believing it more accurately to be a coalition. They didn’t have NATO to oblige them to defend their allies, they had something much deeper, kinship.
    So there is my spin on the topic for your entertainment. If you know of a better, more academic analysis of the matter, shoot me an email and I’ll link to it below.

    More ancient titles for sale

    Along the lines of a previous post comes this article from the York Press:

    Title of Lordship of the Manor of Carlton, near Selby up for sale: Part of the sale will include “a considerable quantity of valuable manorial documents”, including court books, warrants of satisfaction, which date back to the early 1700s, and an annual reception of the Manorial Society at the House Of Lords.
    See all stories on this topic »

    I suppose that this is actually a legitimate Lordship of the Manor as opposed to the Scottish Laird scheme that I had previously discussed. I wonder if it grants any kind of privilege over the ±200 residents of Carlton and Carlton Highdale?

    Is the castle included?

    I wonder if Mark Roberts is looking into any of these to add to his collection? He seems to be successful in leveraging some of the feudal laws that are still on the books:

    I have no comment in one way or the other as to how such actions are perceived, but I do appreciate such an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.
    [Update: 8 March 2017] Occasionally I like to walk back through old posts such as this to provide new, relevant updates. On the topic of fake titles, I’d like to add a link to an article referenced by Rafe Heydel-Mankoo.  In it he states:

    There is a romance that hangs around the nobility: centuries of tradition and heritage, grand parties and balls and huge estates and palaces, the gentlemanly nature of civilized courts and rituals and protocol and etiquette

     How true. The full article in the EU edition of Politico is here. I’ve also recently given my opinion on a similiar topic: fake orders of chivalry.