[From Bullock's History of IoM, 1816]


The Revenue-Exports and Imports.

THE revenue under the lords. proprietors, arose from a duty on exports and imports, a rental on all lands, amounting to 14001. Manks currency, from manorial rights and fines, a few fees, and certain prerogatives, by which the lords laid claim to all waifs and strays. In the time of the last Earl of Derby, the customs were estimated at 25001. per annum. The public expenditure at the same period was 7001. In the course of the last century smuggling had increased so much, that the annual returns of this trade were supposed to be at least 350,0001. whilst the value of seizures was not more than 10,0001., so that the profits to those engaged in it must have been enormous; and the Duke of Athol having a small duty on imports from this and other, sources, procured for his share an annual surplus of nearly 60001. British. An abstract of the clear revenue derived from the island by the lord, for ten years previous to the revestment, states the average yearly amount to be £7293.

The revenues given up to Great Britain were only those of the customs and herring dues, amounting to 65471. for which the sum of 70,0001. was allowed. After the revestment, all the old duties were repealed, and the following new ones levied.


To be imported from England only, and there entitled to the usual Drawback, to be landed at Douglas only, in the Isle of Man.





British spirits



per gal. -

50,000 gal.





Bohea Tea



per lb

20,000 lb

Green Tea















per chaldron.

From Foreign Ports.



at 5 per cent. ad valorem.


Deal Boards


French wine 41. per tun.
Any other wine 21. per tun.
Foreign corn, having been first imported from England, and had a bounty allowed, 10 per cent. ad valorem.
Any goods, wares, or merchandize, not specified in this Act, imported from England or Ireland, 2 per cent. ad valorem.


except only from Great Britain

Duty free

Flax seed



Fish and flesh


Linen cloth of British or Irish fabric
Hemp seed
Horses and cattle
Utensils & implements of agriculture
Bricks and tiles
Trees, sea shells, and lime
Soaper's waste
Packthread and cordage
Colonial goods entitled to a bounty on importation into England.
English or colonial iron, in rods or bars, from Great Britan in British vessels
All linens to be landed in the Isle of Man must be exported from Great Britain or Ireland..
Glass and woollen goods from Great Britain.
Tea, coffee, spirits, tobacco, glass, coals, silks, salt, and wine, must, on no pretence, be exported from the island.

It being found, that, in consequence of the suppression of the contraband trade, the harbours had been neglected and become ruinous, the old duties were repealed, and the following levied:


Per annum.

s. d.

Herring boats 10 0 not a new duty but a modification of the old one.

Any ships belonging to his Majesty's subjects in ballast, only putting into the harbour 0 1½ per ton.
The same with cargo . . 0 2
The same if repaired there,an additional sum 0 1 per ton
Foreign ships in ballast 0 2
Ditto with cargo, not breaking bulk . . . . . . . 0 3
Ditto breaking bulk, additional duty . . . . . . 0 2
Ditto anchoring in any of the bays . . . . . . . . 2 6
On all spirits and wine,, imported, per tun . . . . . 2 6
Tobacco, per cwt. 1 6
Tea, per cwt . . . . . 2 0
Coffee, ditto . 1 0
Foreign goods not specified, 10 per cent. ad valorem.
British goods not specified, salt excepted, 5 per cent. ditto.

At this time the expenditure of the island. ceeded the revenues, and in consequence the lowing additional duties were imposed in 1780.

Rum, 6d. per gallon, making the whole 2s.
Tobacco, id. per pound, ditto 2d.
Hemp, iron, deal, boards, and timber from foreign parts, 5 per cent. ad valorem, making the whole 7½ per cent.
French wines, £4. per tun additional.
Other wine, £2. ditto, ditto.
The duties on tea and coffee were withdrawn, and the following substituted.

s. d.

Bohea tea . . . . . . 0 6 per lb.
Green tea . . . . . . 1 0
Coffee . . . . . . . 0 4

The allowance of British spirits being more than the demand, were reduced from fifty thousand gallons to forty thousand; and the allowance of rum increased from thirty thousand to forty thousand gallons, thirty thousand to be imported from England, and ten thousand from Scotland.

The importation of wine in any vessel of less value than seventy tons' burthen was prohibited.

No goods, fresh fish excepted, were allowed to be exported from the Isle of Man without a warrant from the custom-house.

In 1790 the importation of British spirits was prohibited, but instead of them were allowed, ten thousand gallons of brandy, subject to a duty of 3s. per gallon; ten thousand ditto of geneva, ditto 3s. ditto.
To be shipped from England to Douglas only, in casks containing not less than one hundred gallons.

The annual allowance of tobacco having reduced from one hundred and twenty thousand pounds weight to forty thousand, was increased to sixty thousand.

All wine was subjected to an additional duty of £8. per tun, making, with the former duty £16. for French wines, and £12. for other wines, and to be landed at Douglas only.

Hops, entitled on exportation from England, to a drawback of the whole duty, were made subject to a duty of 1½ d. per lb.

Since this period little variation in the duties have been made; all goods of limited quantity must be imported under licence; the collector of customs is obliged to give one month's notice of the expiration of licences, and take in for fourteen days all petitions for new ones; if such of the petitioners as are natives require goods equal to the quantity limited, they have the preference over foreigners; if they require a greater quantity, the licences are granted in rateable proportions: the counterfeiting a licence subjects the offender to a fine of five hundred pounds; and taking a fee for one, subjects the collector officer to a penalty of fifty pounds.

From the sale of the island to the year 1792 the expenditure was fully equal to the revenue; at that time commissioners were sent over to examine into the state of the country, as well as to ascertain whether certain allegations of the Duke of Athol were well or ill-founded. In the course of their inquiry, they discovered that the custom-house department was in a state of entire disorganization; their memorial on this subject states, that the system of management is illdigested, incomplete, and unfit, of which, amongst others, they adduce the following proofs. That persons, wholly ignorant of the duties and practices of their several departments, are appointed to stations of the first importance, without any previous instruction or preparation.

That even the obvious precaution of furnishing them with written or printed rules for their government had been neglected, nor was any source pointed out whence information could be derived, or any security given or required, for the due performance of the duties of the office, or the proper application of the trust reposed in them; no inquiry was ever instituted as to character, so as to exclude those who had been formerly in the practice of the illicit trade, nor was there any check or controul among the different officers, by which error or misconduct might he discovered or punished.

It was also, at that time, the practice to bestow various offices (not easily combined) on one person. The receiver-general, though an officer of the highest authority, had never been in the island from the time he took the oaths, when he remained a few days, leaving the, whole execution of the duties to a deputy, who was, as he acknowledged, completely without any instructions to define the objects, nature, and extent of his office; his practice was to receive the duties, and transmit them through the agency of a lawyer in London to his principal, and he not actually know where this last resided, or how he might make application to him directly; nay, that he had even at different times required directions in his proceedings through the agent but had received neither instructions or answer.

Various other instances of neglect, equally striking with these, are pointed out, and strongly reprobated in the Report, and as it appears with the fullest effect, for very soon after the whole system was revised and altered, most of the existing officers displaced or otherways provided for, and the present establishment arranged to the entire extirpation of the illicit trade in the island. The office of receiver-general was given to the collector of customs at Douglas, and the whole revenue of the island placed under his superintendence and controul.

This extensive power, which he has now held many years, is universally allowed to be exercised with the strictest integrity as well as moderation, and the gentleman who holds it, though closely connected with the house of Athol, is pronounced, by the unanimous concurrence of all parties, to be eminently qualified by principle, knowledge, and prudence for the station he occupies. No stronger proof of the excellence of the plans now adhered to can be adduced, than the improved state of the revenue; according to the report before quoted, the amount of custom dues in - 1790, was £3006. 8s. 11d. the expenditure same year £3272.2s. 2d.; whereas, in 1792, Mr. Pitt stated in the House of Commons, that the revenue of the island had arisen to the gross sum of £12,000. per annum! at which time a farther compensation of one-fourth of this amount was granted to the Duke of Athol, and his heirs for ever.

The public services, for which internal taxes, continual or occasional, are levied, are of four sorts. Building or repairing of churches, building of bridges, making and keeping high roads in order, and the maintenance of the clergy. In respect to churches each parish is obliged to bear its own burthen, not however to the extent of building, without a special act of Tynwald; but for repairs, the parishioners are convened by the churchwardens, and the money required levied upon the inhabitants in proportion to their rental.

The same mode is observed for building or repairing bridges. The high road fund is derived from a tax upon every retailer of ale or spirits; a small rate upon lands and houses, leaving an option to pay in money or service; a tax upon dogs; and all fines incurred for public offences or contempt of court; by these means collecting a sum of about £ 1000. per annum is obtained for making and repairing the roads.

The clergy derive their income in part from the tithes, which are divided into three portions, one belonging to the lord, one to the bishop, and the other to the parochial minister: the incumbents have also a glebe, and a royal bounty of £100. per annum, to divide amongst the poorest which was obtained by Bishop Barrow in the reign of Charles II.; one-third of his share of the impropriations was purchased by the same worthy prelate from the lord proprietor, by collections made through his interference which were settled to increase the revenues of the church, and, the establishment of a free school at Castletown.

The tithes are divided into great and small; these are sometimes taken in kind, but more frequently commuted, and hitherto upon very easy terms. There was formerly a tithe upon all fresh fish, upon ale brewed, and also a tithe of two-pence annually upon every man engaged in any occupation, though he only exercised his calling three times in the year.



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