[From Brown's Directory, 1881/2]
The earlier lords of the house of Stanley governed the Island chiefly by their lieutenants. The long wars, tumults, and troubles of which we have given a sketch had reduced it to a lamentable state, and of this, Camden, in the sixteenth century, gives a vivid idea when he tells us that in his time there were not six houses in the Island that had two storeys. Steps were, however, taken from time to time by the Stanleys to improve the existing state of things, by the adoption of measures providing for the tenure of land upon terms more favourable than hitherto, and for placing the law of the Island (such as it was) upon a solid and ascertained footing. Owing to the precarious and unsatisfactory nature of the holdings, the cultivation of the land was neglected, and agricultural pursuits laid aside. Provision was consequently made to regulate in some measure the descent of real estate, which brought about a change for the better. As regards the administration of justice, the Deemsters, or judges, decided according to what were called "breast laws"that is to say, customs of which they were supposed to be the depositories, and which did not exist in writing, it was only in 1636 that Lord Strange, acting for his father, the sixth Earl of Derby, ordained that these "breast-laws" should be committed to writing.
Upon the death of Sir John Stanley in 1414, his son, of the same name, succeeded him, and upon his arrival in the Island in 1417 he summoned a meeting of the whole Island at the Tynwald Hill, on which occasion were promulgated the laws which appear first in the Statute Book of the Island. Having committed the government of the Island to a lieutenant, he returned to England, where he died in 1432. His son Thomas, created Baron Stanley in 1456, succeeded him, and, after a brief reign, died in 1459. His son Thomas, created Earl of Derby by Henry VII., followed him in the Kingdom of Man. He died in 1505, and was succeeded by his grandson Thomas, who relinquished the title of "King of Man" for that of "Lord of Man," preferring "to be a great lord rather than a petty king." The country, during his rule, was greatly disturbed by the incursions of the Gallovidians, who repeatedly plundered the northern districts. He died in 1422, and was succeeded by his son Edward, the third Earl. At this time the Island was much disturbed by quarrels between the clergy and laity, and in order to allay the disorders he issued a commission to make inquiry into the complaints made by the people. He died in 1572, and was followed by Henry, the fourth earl, who was one of the Commissioners appointed for the trial of the unfortunate Queen of Scots at Fotheringay. He effected some slight reforms in the affairs of the Island, but the worst grievances of the people, misgovernment and oppression, still remained unredressed, and they still continued miserable and discontented. He was also a strong supporter of the Reformation, which he promoted in various ways in the Island. He died in 1594, leaving two sons, Ferdinand and William. He was succeeded by his elder son Ferdinand, who died suddenly (from the effects of poison, it was supposed), in 1595, leaving three daughters, who claimed the Island, as having a right preferable to that of the male heirtheir uncle William, the younger son of Earl Henry. After a litigation of several years, during the continuance of which Elizabeth assumed the government of the Island into her own hands, the English Courts decided that the grant of the Island to Sir John Stanley was warranted in common law, and that the heirs-general, the daughters of Ferdinand, should succeed before their uncle. Earl William was, therefore, compelled to treat with them for the cession of their rights in the Island, and in 1610 it was confirmed to him by an "Act for assuring and establishing the Isle of Man in the name and blood of William, Earl of Derby." Earl William took no active interest in the affairs of the Island, but appointed a lieutenant and Captain-General, to whom he committed the government of the Island. In 1637 he executed a deed of resignation in favour of his son James, Lord Strange, of all his lands and property, including the Isle of Man. He died in retirement in 1642.
Of the twelve lords of the House of Stanley who held sovereignty in Man, the most remarkable was undoubtedly James, seventh Earl of Derby, commonly called "The Great Earl." His history enters largely into that of the civil wars in the reign of Charles I., within the sweep of which it also brought the Isle of Man. He was almost a typical specimen of the great cavalier nobleman, of the shape which at that period the idea of the true knight had assumed, and joined with it that of the feudal lord, of which practically he was the only remaining example in England. As a servant of the Crown, nothing could be more loyal, more high-minded, more unselfish than his character. He stands in noble contrast to the vacillation and insincerity of the unfortunate monarch whom he served, from whom, nevertheless, he could not be alienated for a moment, even when subjected to ill-usage that must have been galling to so proud a spirit, conscious of that true devotion which enabled him in the end to meet an unmerited death in so lofty a manner. He may be regarded, with Ormond and Montrose, as among the chief of those gallant men who threw round the Stuart cause that halo of fidelity and honour which it: glowing even for a century after their time, and which ministered, even generations later still, half their beauty and splendour to the romances and poetry of Scott. But we are obliged to qualify this large measure of just praise to the Great Earl of Derby when we come to con sider him as the Lord of Man. He appears to have first visited the Island in the year 1628, during the life-time of his father, and to have taken upon himself the direction of affairs, as in that year he appointed Edward Christian his lieutenant and captain-general, and in 1636 he styled himself "Sovereign Liege Lord of the Island." He resided in the Island for some time in 1643, and managed it with consummate skill, which cannot be hetter described than he himself has described it in a memoir in the form of a letter, which is among the most valuable monuments of Manx history. Finding the Island in a state of great excitement, the Earl says
I appointed a meeting in the heart of the country (at the Tynwald Mount) where I wished every man to tell his own grievances, and I would give them the best remedy I could; by which I thought those that had entered into evil design against me or the country might have time to find some excuse for them selves, by laying the blame and charge upon others. And thus I chose rather to give them hopes, and prevent their falling into violent measures before I could be provided for them; and indeed I feared many were engaged by oath and covenant, after the new way in Scotland, and that it would not be easy to make them sensible of their error. Nevertheless, matters were not so ripe as I could have wished; and it was not amiss even to address myself to the chief actors in the business, telling them that somebody was to blame, and that it would be an acceptable service in those who could bring them out of it, and if the common sort could be persuaded out of their mistake, it would hinder any further inquiry into the business. Upon which some really confessed their faults, and discovered to me the whole design, by which I made one step in dividing the factions, remembering the old proverb, Divide et impera. Upon each parish giving me a petition of their grievances, I gave them good words, promising to take the same into consideration, upon which they appeared easy, and departed.
The Earl describes another meeting which he held at Peel Castle (July, 1643), as follows : I expected much wrangling, and met with it, but had provided for my own safety, and, if occasion were, to curb the rest. Many busy bodies spoke Manx only, which some officiously said should be commanded to hold their peace; to which I objected, for I came prepared to give them speech, having very good experience that these people are their mothers children, loving to speak much, and should be dealt with accordingly, giving them liberty to put themselves out of breath, and they will be the sooner quiet, and the more content if you deny them after much speaking, than if you prevent it. I resolved to give them liberty of speech in their own way, for to reason with them was in vain, pro vided they crossed not my motions, which I was careful should be just and law ful, and to bring my designs to pass, I had spies among the busy ones, who, after they had spoken sufficiently ill of my officers, began to speak well of me, and of my good intent; to give them all the satisfaction their grievances re quired; that they were assured I loved the people, and that if any man were so unreasonable as to provoke me, they would run to great hazard, as I had power to maintain my actions, from which there was no appeal.
Such a refined and selfish statement exercised against a rude and excitable people, and backed, as it was, by a liberal display and a judicious use of the military power possessed by the Earl, could hardly fail to achieve his ends; and he accordingly succeeded in carrying his measures for the transference to himself of all the lands of the Island, thus reducing the existing landholders to the condition of mere tenants at will, and for the general regulation of the affairs of the country. But though he thus contrived to force his will upon the Manx people without any immediate outbreak on their part, the discontent felt by the people at the gross injustice done to them was deep and general, and shortly after, when the irresistible pressure of his military force was removed, produced important results. But while thus arbitrary and tyrannical where his own immediate interests were concerned, where these were not affected his views respecting the Island were wide and statesman-like. He contemplated improving it by manufactures and commerce, which he hoped might make the houses grow into towns, the towns into cities. He conceived, also, the idea of establishing a university in the Island; and probably had not his career been cut short by a premature death these ideas might have filled a great space in this story.
In August, 1651, Lord Derby quitted the Isle of Man with a company of 300 volunteers to join Charles II., then in Lancashire, on his south ward march from Scotland. Making his way across the country to Worcester, he was present at the decisive battle of the 3rd September. Escaping from that fatal field, he made his way back into Lancashire, where he was taken prisoner, tried for treason, and executed at Bolton on 15th October, 1651. The Island was soon after surrendered, together with the widowed Countess of Derby and her children, to a Parliamentary force under Colonel Duckenfield, by the Receiver-General of the Island, William Christianthe Illiam Dhone, or Fair-haired William, of the Manx. The Parliament then gave the Island to General Fairfax, who held it till the Restoration, when it was granted to Charles, the son of the late earl. Two years later he ordered William Christian to be pro ceeded against, on a charge of insurrection against the Countess of Derby, and alleging, also, that this crime was aggravated by.its being instru mental in the death of the late Earl. He was sentenced to be shot; and this sentetice was carried out at Hango Hill, near Castletown, on the 2nd January, 1663. This tragedy left deep memories in the Island. It is still celebrated in Manx ballads, a.nd has furnished to Sir Walter Scott a turning point in the romance of "Peveril of the Peak." There can be no doubt that it was a high-handed and illegal act of revenge which no charges could justify, when the law, in cold blood, eleven years after the events, was so violently wrested to carry it into effect. Such a mockery of justice shocked even the Government of Charles II., to which a petition "against theillegal sentence of the Manx Legislature in reference to William Christian" was made after Christians execution, and the matter was heard before the King in Council, the Earl of Derby himself being compelled to appear. The two Deemsters principally concerned as instru ments were ordered to be committed to the Kings Bench, and to pay all expenses incurred, and restitution of his estate to be made to the heirs of Christian. But even this inadequate punishment was ultimately remitted. The memory of Christian, however, continued enshrined in the hearts of his grateful countrymen as a martyr to his love of their common Fatherland, the evil fate which pursued the agents of his unhappy death was regarded by them as the vengeful visitations of a justly offended Deity, and to this day the name of "Illiam Dhone," the fair-haired patriot of Ronaldsway, is spoken with feelings of admiring affection throughout the length of the country.
Earl Charles died in 1672, and was succeeded by his son William, who appears to have taken more interest in the affairs of his Insular dominions, visiting them on several occasions, and enacting several useful laws. Among these the most important was an Act of Tynwald, passed in 1696, repealing the customary statute of 1429, which declared "That noe Scottishman or any other aliens be resident in the land of Man"and enacting "that all and every person or persons, whether subjects of the kingdoms of Scotland or Ireland, or any foreigners or strangers of any other kingdom or nation, whose prince is at peace with the Crown of England, coming into this Isle to reside, shall for the future have and enjoy the imniunitys, privileges, and advantages, that any of the subjects of England have, or hereafter may have or enjoy, by the laws and customs of this Isle." The change of policy thus in augurated led to most important changes in the affairs of the Island, which will be more particularly described later. Its more immediate result was the unchecked influx into the country of great numbers of Protestant refugees from Ireland, which was then undergoing the horrors of the dreadful civil war which sprung out of the Revolution of 1689. Another important benefit conferred upon the Island by Earl William was the appointment of Dr. Thomas Wilson to the bishopric of Sodor and Man in 1679. This eminent man was undoubtedly the greatest of all the modern occupants of this ancient see. On his arrival he found the country in a dreadful condition, his residence was in ruins, many of the churches were in a dilapidated condition, the clergy were for the most part ignorant and uncouth, and the people generally de based and poor. He at once set about bringing matters into a better condition, by reforming ecclesiastical abuses, by placing church affairs and church discipline on a more satisfactory footing, by rebuilding the ruined churches and incumbents houses, and by establishing schools and founding parochial libraries furnished with books of instruction and devotion. In his own life he made himself a pattern to all. The revenues of the see, which did not pecuniarily amount to more than £300, he employed with such care and economy that, besides providing for the requirements of his own household, they sufficed for the want of the poor and distressed throughout the Island; indeed, it may be said that no one applied to him in vain for help. In 1703 he materially con tributed to the passing of the Act of Settlementthe Magna Charta of Manxmenand in the same year he drew up an ecclesiastical code for the better discipline and government of the Church of Man. A strict Churchman, he was a staunch supporter of Church and State. and judiciously guarded the interests of both. He resisted all unlawful interference or intermeddling in Church affairs, from whatever quarter it came, and at times so exercised his episcopal authority as to lead to disputes between the civil authorities of the Island and himself of so serious a nature that they involved him in difficulties and troubles of no ordinary kind, and caused him not only great distress of mind and body, but also much pecuniary loss. He died on the 5th March, 1755, in the 93rd year of his age and the 58th of his episcopate, and was buried in the churchyard of Michael, the parish in which his residence, Bishops Court, is situated.
Earl William died in 1702, and was succeeded by his younger brother James. The great event of his reign was the concession of the Act of Settlement, in 1703, by which the landowners were finally established in their holdings on the payment of certain rents, fines, and dues to the lord. Our space will not permit us to enter at large into the causes which led to this great concession, but a short review of the condition of the country during the period we have so rapidly passed over is essential to a right comprehension of the condition of the people at the point at which we are now arrived. The Isle of Man had at this time been in the possession of the House of Stanley for nearly three centuries and a half. During the whole of this time, with one or two insignificant exceptions, the country had been free from both foreign war and civil disorder, and yet its condition had steadily declined under their rule, and now at its close it was but the wasted - shadow of its former self. Its power, as a kingdom, had vanished; its armies, which had dared to resist in open fight the strength of Scotland when at its greatest, were now incapable of controlling the tyranny of its own petty lords; its fleets, which had been the terror of all the surrounding coasts, had dis. appeared, and a few wretched fishing-boats were all that remained; its dawning commerce had died out; and even communication between the different parts of the Island, small as it was, had become increasingly difficult and rare; the cultivation of its lands had been almost entirely abandoned, and its population had steadily decreased, and yet it had become increasingly difficult for it to support its lessening numbers, and destructive famines had become of frequent occurrence; its ancient civilisation and learning, which had made it in happier days the home of the persecuted and the school of the west, had passed away, and given place to barbarism and the profoundest ignorance; religion had degene. rated into the grossest superstition, and priests and people alike were ignorant and debased; in fine, the country had sunk almost into a state of nature and a mere barren islet, in which the degraded relics of its former large and energetic population dragged on with difficulty a miserable existence. What had produced this miserable condition of things P Primarily and principally the selfish policy of the lords of the House of Stanley. They were foreigners in birth, in education, and in feeling, introduced into the country by a foreign king, and maintained in it by his power. They were non-resident in the country they ruled over, and had little knowledge of its inhabitants and no sympathy with their wishes. They were kings in Man, and within its narrow bounds they exercised all, and even more than all, the rights and authority of its ancient kings of native birth; but in England they were great lords, whose lives were spent immersed in the management of their vast estates, or at the court of their natural sovereigns, where their duty and their self-interest compelled them to play the courtier and to mingle in that unending struggle for place and power which has always characterised the English Court. Thus occupied, living a life altogether apart from that of their Manx subjects, a higher, more intelligent, and more civilised life, and absorbed in affairs which, in their eyes, were of infinitely greater importance than those connected with their Insular dominions, they rarely visited their Island kingdom, and its interests and well-being seldom troubled their thoughts. They committed the actual government of the Island to a lieutenant, generally an old soldier of fortune of the stamp so graphically described in the letters of the "Great Earl," or in the magic pages of the "Great Wizard ef the North"coarse, domineering, and needy old campaigners, whose only merit, even in the eyes of the master that appointed them, was that they served his interests for a time. Occasionally, when their affairs in England and their inclination permitted, they paid brief visits to their Insular dominions, and sometimes even resided in their fortresses at Peel and Castletown; but on these occasions they rarely troubled themselves with inquiries into the acts of their lieutenants, or attempted seriously to redress the grievances of their subjects, or to improve the condition of their kingdom. On the contrary, these rare visits were usually occu pied with intrigues for extending their authority and enlarging their powers at the expense of the few last relics of the ancient liberties of the Island which still remained, or for increasing the paltry revenue they derived from its miserable and impoverished inhabitants.
One of the greatest grievances under which the Manx people groaned was the treatment which they had received with regard to their land. It appears that the officers of James, the seventh Earl of Derby, pre tended to have discovered that the lord had an indefeasible right to the landed property in the Island, in virtue of the long-obsolete arrangement, made at the time of the Conquest by Goddard Crovan, six centuries before, by which the land was divided amongst his followers, not abso lutely, but simply granted to them as tenants at will. The people had hitherto held their property from the lord by what was called "the tenure of the straw," by verbal cession, without any charters, but still regularly transmitting it from father to son. They were now cajoled into a compromise, by which they resigned their landed property into the hands of the lord, and received it back on a lease of three lives, thus rendering their descendants, after no great number of years, mere tenants at will, without the slightest interest in the property, or motive to improve it. At the accession of James, tenth Earl, in 1702, many of these leases thus granted in his grandfathers time had expired, while others were on the eve of expiring, without any provision being made for their renewal. Agriculture, in consequence, became so much neglected that several seasons of scarcity, approaching to famine, had occurred, whilst the people devoted their energies either to fishing or to the pernicious employment of smuggling, depending on the opposite coasts for the supplies of corn which were necessary for their maintenance. The revenue from these causes rapidly declined, until it fell so low that Lord Derby farmed it to a Liverpool merchant for the sum of £1,000 per annum. Considerations, founded upon these facts, together with the strong representations of Bishop Wilson, induced Earl James to consent to an Act of Tynwald, known as the Act of Settlement, by which the iniquitous arrangement instituted by his grandfather was annulled and the landholders established in their holdings in perpetuity on the payment of certain fixed rents and fines. From this event we may date the commencement of the modern history of the Isle of Man, as with it began to dawn that era of improvement which with many fluctuations has continued down to our time, and which has already produced such a wonderful change in the face of the country and in the condition of its inhabitants.
Several other measures of great utility, rendered necessary by the changed circumstances of the country, were sanctioned by Earl James, including an Act for regulating and licensing "petty tippling houses," and another for encouraging the repairing and rebuilding of vicarages which had fallen into decayboth passed in 1734. These were the last public acts of the Stanleys in Man, James, the tenth earl and the thirteenth in the Manx dynasty, dying in 1736. With his death the line of Stanley, which had ruled the Island for 320 years, came to an end, and the Lordship of Man passed to the Scottish family of the Dukes of Atholl, descended in the female line from the seventh earl. Soon after his accession to the Lordship of Man, the Duke of Atholl visited the Island with a numerous retinue, and was loyally welcomed by the Manx. His first public act was to give his assent to no less than fourteen Acts of Tynwald, amending or repealing various old and obsolete laws, generally in the direction of greater liberality and freedom and encouraging inter course with the neighbouring countries. Restrictions upon the holding of fairs and markets were removed; the statutes of 1422 and 1664, which forbade, under severe penalties, any one resident in the Island to leave it without the special licence of the Governor, were materially modified; commerce with the adjoining countries was encouraged, articles of home production being allowed to be exported duty free, while foreign commodities, if necessaries of life, were allowed to be imported under slight restrictions. But the most important of these enactments was the one known as the "Protection Act," which provided that "any person prosecuted in this Island for a foreign debt by any act of arrest in the Court of Chancery shall for the future be held to bail only for his personal appearance to such action, and for the forthcoming of what effects he hath within this Island, to answer the judgment of the same." It was this law which rendered Man for nearly a century afterwards the sanctuary of the unfortunate and profligate of the surrounding nations, who flocked thither in such numbers as to make it a common receptacle for the basest of their kind.
The condition of affairs in the Isle of Man had now become very peculiar. Partly from the cause already stated regarding the tenure of land, and partly from the duties on the importation of foreign goods into the Island being settled by the Manx Legislature itself, it had become a centre of smuggling trade on a large and formidable scale, in which the capitalists of the Island were systematically engaged, which was tacitly permitted by the authorities, and in which the common people, being addicted to seafaring habits, zealously assisted. The injury inflicted by this contraband trade upon the English revenue was so great that the necessity for applying a remedy had long before this made itself felt. In 1726 an Act was passed by the British Parliament authorising the Government to treat with the Earl of Derby for the sale of his royalty and revenue of the Isle of Man, and several attempts had subsequently been made to induce him to consent to the measure. Upon the accession of the Duke of Atholl similar proposals were made to him, but they met with an unfavourable reception, and various difficulties were raised in the way of effecting the deAired transference. Meantime the evil grew continually, and became further complicated by the effects of the "Protection Act" of 1736; and at length, unable by ordinary means to overcome the disinclination of the Duke of Atholl to dispossess him. self of his newly-acquired royalty, which, through the success of this illicit commerce, had greatly increased in value (for the Manx revenue was now mainly raised by small duties upon goods imported into the Island to be afterwards smuggled into England, Scotland, and Ireland) the English Government, on the 25th July, 1764, made a final effort to induce the Duke to agree to the transference of his rights. Not yet recognising that the English Government were in earnest, and that the time for delays had now gone by, the Duke still endeavoured to procrastinate, and, on the 20th August following, returned an evasive reply to their communication. Upon this the English Government, in January, 1765, introduced a bill into Parliament "for more effectually preventing the mischiefs to the revenue and commerce of Great Britain and Ireland from the clandestine and illicit trade carried into and from the Isle of Man." Awakened at last to the determination of the Government to end at any cost the unbearable evils consequent on the pernicious uses which he and his predecessors had made of their authority in Man, and alarmed lest if he resisted further he might be stripped of the whole of his rights in the Island, the Duke, after vainly attempting to fight this bill, intimated his readiness to surrender his authority in the Isle, together with such portions of his regalities as were required by the Government for the object proposed on condition of receiving as compensation the sum of £70,000, together with an annuity of £2,000 per annum, paid out of the Irish revenues, which had also suffered from the Manx smuggling trade. This offer being accepted, an Act of Parliament (the Act of Revestment) was passed in January, 1765, and a royal proclamation was issued announcing the transference of the royal authority in the Island to the English Crown and the appointment of a new [sic actually Wood continued in office] Governor and Captain-General (John Wood, Esq.) On the 14th July, 1765, the English flag replaced the Manx on the Castle of Rushen, and amid considerable military display the country quietly passed under the direct rule of the Crown of England.
This transference of the sovereignty of the Isle of Man produced an extraordinary effect upon the inhabitants of the country. Caused by the necessity of protecting the English revenue from the injury done to it by their overgrown smuggling trade, the Manx looked for nothing less than the immediate downfall of that trade, and, with it, all their prosperity. And, in fact, such for a time was the effect of the change. A universal panic spread over the country. Fearful of capture by the newly-installed authorities, the capitalists interested in~ the trade were afraid to engage in fresh operations, and a sudden and almost complete collapse of the entire system was the result. The Insular harbours, before crowded with ship ping, were now almost deserted; the towns, once so busy and thriving, were now half empty, and utterly without trade. Property of all kinds was greatly depreciated, and many of the richer part of the community left the Island to escape the consequences of its altered circumstances. For a time the affairs of the country were involved in great confusion, during which the people endured much suffering and hardship. But as things gradually resumed a more settled condition, it was found that, though the English Government, impelled to it by the losses they had suffered from the Manx contraband trade, had taken possession of the Island, in other respects little was changed. Singularly well-placed for the purpose of a smuggling depot, and inhabited by a sea-faring people thoroughly accustomed to the exigencies of the trade, it was, in that age, an impossible task to suppress altogether the illicit commerce of the Manx with their neighbours. This they soon found out, and, their first fright over, they began anew their former practices, and once more the smuggling trade began to flourish. All that was required under the new regime was a little more caution on the part of those engaged in it, and a little more secrecy in the introduction of smuggled goods into the Island and their despatch out of it; and for this the Island was admirably well fitted by its central position, its long and dangerous coast, its numerous obscure inlets, and the many secret caves and winding passages which pierce its cliffs in all parts. The effects of this revival of the Manx smug gling trade were soon felt in England; and, partly to inquire into it, and partly to investigate the claims of the Duke of Atholl for additional compensation for his surrendered royalties, a commission was appointed by Parliament, in the year 1792, to visit the Island, and inquire into the general condition of its revenue and commerce. As one result of their inquiry, they found that, in spite of all the efforts of the revenue officers, and of the cruisers which were stationed off the coast, smuggling was carried on to so great an extent that the annual loss to the Kings revenue was estimated at not less than £350,000, while the value of the seizures made on the coast of Ireland alone, of vessels coming from the Isle of Man, amounted to £10,000 annually. These facts indicate an extraordinary and unexpected revival of the Manx contraband trade; but if we bear in mind the fact that at this time, and indeed fer long afterwards, smuggling was common along all the British coasts, and that all classes of the community were more or less implicated in it, their significance will be considerably lessened. Of course this illicit com merce now received no support from the local Government, and though many of the higher classes were connected with it, and shared in its profits, it was only as they did in England and elsewhere, and did in much greater numbers in proportion to the population. The trade had failed, from various causes, to take the same hold of the Manx community as it had done before the Revestment, and a better and healthier spirit had begun to deve]ope itself among them, under the less arbitrary and grasping rule of the English Government. To the observant eye, many signs were visible that the Island was, at last, slowly but surely beginning to work its way up to the general level of European civilisation. Agriculture was being more steadily pursued, and improvements (greatly needed, for the methods and implements of the Manx farmers were very defective) were being gradually introduced; the Manx mines were more vigorously worked; the fisheries, especially that of the herring, both off the Manx coasts and the neighbouring coasts of Ireland, were more extensively and successfully prosecuted; the trade of the towns, especially of Douglas, and with it their prosperity, was gradually reviving; their harbours again began to fill with shipping, and their streets with busy life, and throughout the signs of returning prosperity and comfort were multiplied on all sides. Altogether the prospect, in spite of the injurious prevalence of smuggling, was hopeful and encouraging. The greatest drawback to the dawning prosperity of the country was the apathy of the new Government. Though, as we have said, it was less arbitrary and grasping than the defunct rule of the House of Stanley; it was, on the other hand, neglectful to a degree of its most obvious duties to the people whose affairs it had undertaken to direct. It did little or nothing itself to improve the condition of the country or develope its latent resources, and it failed to encourage the people themselves to improve their own circumstances. One thing only had it persistently tried to do, and it had failed; it had done its utmost to destroy the one great industry of the Island, because it infringed upon the interests of England, but it had made no serious attempt to substitute for that pernicious employment others of a more satisfactory character, and it had done nothing to preserve the people from the hardships and suffering which resulted directly from its own selfish action. Had it been less absorbed in its own larger interests, and less neglectful of the interests of the Manx people, the country would have been spared much suffering, and its improvement would have been more rapid and satisfactory. Had it even devoted the surplus of the petty revenue it raised in its new acquisition to the development of the country, by improving its harbours, fostering its fisheries, encouraging its agriculture, and in other ways opening up its latent resources, how vastly different would its condition have been then and now! But it did nothing of the kind. It absorbed, year by year, the entire surplus revenue of the Island as "interest on the purchase money paid to the Duke of Atholl," and, in return, it simply left the Islanders alone, to struggle through their difficulties as best they might, confining its interference mainly to the protection of its own interests. The substitution of the direct rule of the King of England, for that of a subordinate ruler, produced few changes of any importance in the constitution of the country, or its internal Government. The old legislative privileges of the Island were continued to it, the sanction of the English monarch (as sovereign of the Isle) being now required to every Act of Tynwald before it can be published as the statute of law. This sanction, however, is rarely refused to any measure which can be shown to be for the advantage of the country. But the English Government has, for obvious reasons, retained the right to regulate the Customs, or port dues, leviable in the Island, and also to regulate or prohibt the manufacture of articles which might injure the imperial revenue. In spite of the neglect of all active measures for the improvement of the condition of the country, the change of rule proved beneficial; and, as the Manx people gradually realised the fact, they became not merely reconciled to the English rule, but even attached to it, and during the troubled times which followed the breaking out of the French Revolution, no part of the British dominions displayed greater loyalty to the British Crown, or, for their circumstances, made greater sacrifices for the common good.
The manorial rights still retained in the Isle of Man by the Duke of Atholl, being no longer sustained by sovereign authority, and being, moreover, asserted with great severity, were, as might have been expected, resisted by the people by every species of opposition open to them; and with such success that the Duke, despairing of carrying his claims in the Manx Courts, presented a petition to Parliament in 1781, in which, after stating his case at length, he prayed for leave to bring in a bill to amend the Act of Revestment, and to enable him and his heirs to exercise the rights he claimed. A counter petition was presented on behalf of the House of Keys, as representing the Island, in which it was represented that the bill brought before the House contained many provisions opposed to the constitution of the Island, and injurious to its inhabitants. In spite of this opposition, the bill, slightly amended, passed through the House of Commons; but being opposed by the Government of the day in the House of Lords, it was lost by a large majority. Dissatisfied with this result, the Duke renewed his application in 1790; but with no better success. Still unwilling to relinquish claims involving such great issues to himself and his heirs, claims, too, which he undoubtedly believed to be just, he next year memorialised the Privy Council, and put his case in such a way that it was thought prudent to appoint Commissioners to proceed to the Island, and thoroughly investigate the points in dispute, and also inquire fully into the general state of the revenue and commerce of the Island. The report of this Commission being, on the whole, favourable to the Dukes claims, he renewed his attempts to obtain further compensation; and, being at length supported in his claim by the existing Government, the dispute was, in 1805. decided by an additional grant out of the consolidated fund of £3,000 per annum in perpetuity.
Meanwhile, during the course of these long protracted disputes, the condition of the Island itself was anything but satisfactory. In 1793, John, fourth Duke of Atholl, and son of the last Lord of Man, was appointed Governor of the Isle of Man. Partly from a feeling of respect for the last representative of that bug line of kings and lords which for nearly four centuries had ruled their country, and partly because, having a little while before successfully resisted the attempts of their ex-lord to extend those rights which he still retained in their land, they hoped by a show of affection for his person and joy at his accession to office to disarm his resentment, and secure his interest with the new Government, this apointment was received by the Islanders with great and general rejoicings; all memory of past misgovernment and present greed seemed buried in oblivion, and the Duke, on his landing at Douglas to enter upon the duties of his new office, was enthusiastically welcomed by immense crowds of the inhabitants, his horses were taken out of his carriage, and he was drawn in triumph to his residence near the town. But this unexpected popularity of the Duke was as short-lived as it was exuberant. Contrary to the expectation of the Manx people, the Duke renewed his efforts to obtain additional compensation from the English Government for the rights he had resigned to it; and when this became known in the Island, and especially when the nature of his memorials to the king, the Privy Council, and the Parliament was made public, the tide of their feelings towards him turned, and his popularity declined as rapidly as it had risen. The spirit in which he administered the Government of the Island, too, was such as utterly to extinguish whatever remnants of popularity had survived the exposure of his intrigues with the Government. All his power as Governor was exercised for the promotion of his own personal interests; every appointment to an Insular office, which either his patronage or his influence could secure, was bestowed upon members or dependents of his own family, to the exclusion of the native Manx from authority and trust in their own country. This revival of the worst features of the ancient regime naturally excited great dissatisfaction among the natives. Their ancient jealousy of "strangers," and especially of the Scotch, whom their old records had denominated "their enemies the Redshanks," and whom they had for centuries regarded as their natural foesjealousy which recent events had greatly weakened now returned in full vigour, while their hatred of oppression and wrong, always a prominent feature in the national character, caused them to view with suspicion and indignation every fresh act of the Dukes Government. Unfortunately the further proceedings of the Duke were such as to inflame and exaggerate these feelings, until, in spite of the natural loyality of the Manx and their proverbial respect for the law, they at length broke out into acts of excess and disorder.
In 1813, the Honourable George Murray, son of the Bishop of St. Davids, and nephew of the Duke of Atholl, was appointed to the bishopric of Man, it having been kept vacant for him after the death of Bishop Cregan, until after he was of age for consecration. In 1814, the Protection Act, which made debts contracted in foreign countries, practically irrecoverable in the Isle of Man, was repealed under pressure from the English Government. This measure, tending as it did to assimilate the laws of the Island to those of the other parts of the United Kingdom, could not fail ultimately to be beneficial to its real interests; but its immediate effects upon the trade and prosperity of the Island were very disastrous. Large numbers of those whom the immunities afforded by this law had induced to settle in the Island, withdrew, carrying away with them their wealth, which, however unjustly acquired, would, but for this measure of reform, have been spent in the country. A stagnation of trade followed, similar to that which had resulted from the Revestment, causing great suffering and distress among the people. Other unpopular measures followed; the steps taken by the Government to restrain the smuggling trade of the Island now began seriously to affect that lucrative employment, and during some years the condition of the country grew worse year by year. In 1821, on the promulgation of a law restricting the importation of foreign corn, the Islanders broke out into open rioting at Peel and Douglas, defeating the troops sent against them, and causing great destruction of property.
In the midst of this distress and disorder, the Bishop, with singular callousness and want of judgment, attempted to force upon the unwilling people a scheme which he had prepared for commuting the tithes of his see for a fixed annual sum of £6,000 (a sum far exceeding their value at that time); and when that project failed, through the resistance opposed to it by the agriculturists of the Island, he revived an old claim, disused since the time of Bishop Wilson, to the tithe of all green crops. Attempting, in November, 1825, to enforce this claim by collecting the tithe of potatoes, he was violently resisted by the enraged Islanders, who gathered together in such numbers, and displayed so much determination, that the few troops stationed in the Island were unable to disperse them, or prevent them wrecking the houses and setting fire to the property of obnoxious officials. Thoroughly alarmed at the storm which his grasping and ill-timed proceedings had raised, the Bishop reluctantly abandoned his claim, but so unpopular had he made himself in his diocese, and so bitter and general was the feeling against him, that, for the peace of the country and the interest of the church, the English Government deemed it prudent to remove him, and in 1827 he was translated to the see of Rochester, and the Insular bishopric bestowed upon Dr. Ward, rector of Great Hawksley, in Sussex. Unpopular before, these proceedings of his nephew, the Bishop, with whose schemes he was popularly identified, still further complicated the difficulties of the Duke, and made his position in the Island still more unsatisfactory and disagreeable. For many years he had been an object of suspicion, and his authority and claims had been violently opposed by both the Manx people and Legislature. At last, grown old, and weary of the continual struggle, and despairing of conciliating their goodwill, he determined to carry out a resolution, formed some time before, to dispose of all his remaining interest in the Island, and quit it finally. Communicating his wish to the English Government, it was readily taken up, and an Act was passed in 1824, "empowering the Lords of the Treasury to purchase all the manorial rights of the Duke of Atholl, in the Isle of Man." After lengthened negotiations, a treaty was concluded in 1829, by which the Duke, in consideration of a further sum of £416,000, conveyed to the English Crown all his remaining rights and interests in the Isle of Man, thus finally terminating his connection with this country.