[from History of IoM, 1900]



4. Military Organization.

The Stanleys continued the ancient system of universal military service,1 and they enforced the practice of keeping " watch and ward " by requiring all persons to obey the warden of the watch " upon pain of sore punishment." 2 The statutes provided that none should be sent to watch " but such as are of discretion," 3 that " the night watch shall come at sun-setting and not depart before the sun-rising, and that the day watch shall come at the sun-rising, and not depart before the sun-setting." 3 How important the keeping of watch and ward was considered is shown by the customary law that only the " Capten, Lieutenant, Ensign (of each company), 24 Keys, the Mears and their Runners, the Coroners and Lockmen, the Customers 4 and Searchers of every port; one head Smith, one head or chief Miller in every Parish have their freedom from the Watch." 5

In 1594, apparently in consequence of complaints of the hardships of this obligation, the governor asked the advice of the deemsters and Keys as to whether the law with regard to it should remain in force, or not. In reply to this they explained the law, and, though they did not give a definite opinion, it is evident that they thought it should be enforced as formerly- 6 About 1648, Blundell e wrote about the " watch and ward" as follows

" Besides the continual watches kept in every of the 4 towns, castles, and forts on each side of the Island, there are in several places watch and ward continually, very strictly to discover the approch of any ship . . . unto any part of the Island. Thither presently are all the Manksmen of that part or quarter bound to repair unto in arms, upon pain of life and limb. . . . On the west side of the Island there are the hills called the Watch Hills. . . . But from what part soever they (ships) come, they are perfectly descried from the top of the highest of their hills, which they call Sceaful [Snaefell]. On this hill watch and ward is kept continually the day and night, winter and summer, and if any danger doth appear in any part, the beacon is set on fire immediately." 7 From various fines which are recorded in the Exchequer Books at different periods, we learn that " watch. and ward " was enforced as late as 1815 ; and, in a proclamation issued by Governor Shaw in 1801, the captains of parishes were ordered to " fix on the best situations for alarm posts to the end that the most speedy intelligence of an enemy . . . be communicated throughout the Island."8

Besides watching for enemies, every adult, even those who were exempt from serving on the watch, had, " in times of apparent danger," 9 to be ready to encounter them " upon pain of forfeiting life, body, and geodes." 10 And every one who absented himself from his ordinary master or drill, even in time of peace, without a good reason, was punished by fine and imprisonment.10 Each adult was obliged to provide himself with a bow and arrows and a sword and buckler.11, Till the seventeenth century there is no account of the way in which the Manx militia was organized. It was then divided into twenty-two companies, eighteen in the country 12 and four in the towns, under the command of the lord as captain-general, or commander-inchief, the governor,13 with the rank of colonel, usually acting as his deputy. The other officers were a sergeant-major 14 afterwards styled a majorgeneral, a "commissioner and marshall-general," a "muster-master," two majors, one for the south of the island and the other for the north, eighteen captains of parishes and four captains of towns, and the same number of lieutenants and ensigns, i.e., eighteen of each in the country and four in the towns. 15 The sergeant-major, or major-general, who was also usually Constable of Peel Castle (the governor being Constable of Rushen), had control, under the governor, of " all the companies and forces," 16 with " full power and authority to call the said companies to such place or places as he shall think most convenient " 16 for the purpose of instructing and exercising them. The commissioner and marshall-general's duties were not specified. The muster-master had also authority to summon the companies for the purpose of drill, and he was obliged " to take a list of all the fixed armes . . . and to see that they were kept fitt for use." 16 The majors had to exercise the soldiers of the garrisons as well as the militia, and to " endeavour to keep them in good order and discipline."17

The captains had to " train up and exercise " the companies of their respective parishes and towns " agreeable to the rules, orders, and discipline of war." 19 In addition to the foot militia, 18 there were four mounted men in each parish, or sixty-eight in all, called either " The Horseman of the Militia," or " The Parochial Horse." Their duties were to attend the governor at Tynwald, and on any other special occasion, when he required them to do so. In return for this service, they were freed from the obligation of carrying turf, corn, &c., to the garrisons."20

In addition to the militia, there were paid soldiers who formed the garrisons of the various forts. The most important of these were Peel and Rushen, which were commanded by a constable, having under him the officers of the town militia, the forts at Douglas and Ramsey being in charge of the militia officers only. In addition to these officers and the two majors, there were two armourers-one stationed at Peel and the other at Rushen-who, besides their duties at these forts, had to attend to the arms in the other forts, and to those of the militia. The garrison soldiers appear to have worn white jackets having the three legs of Man in red on the breast and back, 21 and their equipments were specified as being " bowe and arrows, sufficient dublett or habergion, a sword and a buckler." 22 The regulations regarding their conduct were very strict,23 and there is contemporary evidence, in the sixteenth century, to certify that they were " welltrained."24

They were subject to martial law and were tried in a special court presided over by the Comptroller, or, as he was called in this capacity, " The Judge of the House." 25

That the discipline was strict is clear from various entries in the Records. Among these are two cases of the Constable of Peel being found a traitor and presumably suffering the penalty for that crime, i.e., " to be drawne with horses, and after hanged and headed." 26 There were also punishments for the seemingly not very serious offences of " Keeping a Welch-man unsworn in the garrison," 27 and "for entertaining two Scots in the garrison." 27 In 1592, " the officers, chaplaynes, constables, and souldiers " were ordered " to attende daylie at both the castles, and to keepe and performe watche, warde, and other service as heretofore they have done without any manner of intermission, slackness, or absence, upon wonted penalties and punishments," 28 and it was arranged that both castles should "be allwayes stored with a yeare's provision of turffe fewell and salte." 29 Apparently, however, the fabric of the two castles had been neglected, since, in 1593, Ferdinando, Earl of Derby, stated his intention of re-erecting them; 30 at the same time he spoke of his having to augment the garrisons, 31 from which it may be inferred that some special danger, perhaps from pirates, was threatened. 32 The number of the Manx soldiers, both regular and militia,32 was 702, consisting of 41 horsemen, 18 " caliver " men, 286 bowmen, and 357 " billmen," all of whom were " much unprovided with weapons and other furni ture." 33 In 1593, there were 59 men in garrison at Peel and 55 at Rushen, the total amount of their salaries being 157. 11 34

The military organization under the seventh Earl of Derby has already been sufficiently described in Chapter II. We may mention that, during the rule of Lord Fairfax, the paid forces of the island consisted of two companies of 200 men each and their officers.35 The cost of this establishment, including, in addition to the infantry officers, a ' Master-Gunner and Store-keeper, a Surgeon, a Marshall, two Mates, and six Matrosses, (?) " 36 was calculated at 12 6s. 6d. per diem.


1 By the adult population.

2 Lib. Irrot.

3 Statutes, vol. i. p. 65. In 1498, several persons were fined for not bringing sufficient arms to the watch-hill, and, in the same year, a man was presented for keeping the watch cross in his house for nine days and not returning it to the warden (Lib. Scacc.).

4 Customs officers.

5 Parr's MS.

6 Statutes, vol. i. pp. 67 and 69.

7 Manx Soc., vol. xxv. pp. 95-6.

8 Lib. Scacc.

9 Parr's MS.

10 Statutes, vol. i. p. 65.

11 These were corbes, or heirlooms, and were inalienable. Bows were probably the usual weapons in the Isle of Man as late as 1640.

12 It is curious that Lezayre, though never one of the most populous parishes, had two companies, for the west and east divisions respectively, while the other parishes had one each.

13 If the governor was not a military man, a military captain was appointed to assist him in times of special danger (Blundell, Manx Soc., vol. xxvii. p. 63).

14 In the seventeenth century this officer was equivalent to the present major, and he ranked next to lieutenant-colonel. The title is now applied to a non-commissioned rank.

15 The governor, majors, and captains, and the lieutenants and ensigns of the towns were also officers of the paid troops.

16 Lib. Irrot.

17 Lib. Irrot. It was only the officers who were also connected with the garrisons that received any pay.

18 Ibid.

19 The following oath of allegiance and fidelity was administered to the companies of the militia of the respective parishes and their officers:-, ` You shall have and give all due allegiance to our Sovereign (King or Queen), and to all his or her lawful heirs and successors during your lives. You shall bear true faith and fidelity to the Right Honourable . . . Lord of this Isle, and his lawful heirs and successors during your lives. You shall not reveal or disclose the secrets of this Isle and garrisons therein to any foreigner or stranger, or whosoever else you know or suspect not to be sworn thereunto. You shall be obedient to the Governor (Lieutenant or Deputy) and the Government of this Isle, according to the laws and jurisdiction thereof, and likewise to your superior officers of the militia for the time being. You shall, to the utmost of your power, give your best assistance to the defence of this Island against the enemy or invaders thereof, of what nation soever they be, and use your best endeavours for the preservation of the peace and safety thereof. You shall make known as much as in you lieth to the Lieutenant-Governor or Deputy, or other superior officer or officers, either civil or military, all plots, treasons, and conspiracies that shall be at any time hereafter contrived, plotted, or intended against the Royal Person, Crown, and dignity of our said dread Sovereign Lord and King (or Queen) and his (or her) lawful heirs and successors, and you shall not be aiding, abetting, contriving, or councilling (sic) therein; but make known and reveal the same within twenty-four hours after any such thing or things shall come to your knowledge, by any manner of way or means whatever; so help you God and the contents of this Book" (Ibid.).

20 Lib. Scacc., 1635.

21 This we learn from a letter written by the Earl of Derby to the Abbot of Whally in 1534, in which he orders him to " cause 20 tall men and good archers of his tenants to be put in rediness as footmen, well harnessed after the manner of the country in white jackets, with my bage of the legges of Man of red cloth one before on the brest, one behind on their backs " (Historical MS. Commission).

22 Statutes, vol. i. p. 12. Ibid., vol. i. pp. 31-5.

23 Bishop Meryck, Cott. MS. (Manx Soc., vol. iv. p. 95). 24 Minute directions are given in the Statute Book, under date 1561, as to the victuals, turf, &c., required at the Castles of Peel and Rushen, and as to the manner in which and the seasons at which the Manx farmers are to supply them (Statutes, vol. i. pp. 31-5).

25 Lib. Scacc., 1603. The garrison soldiers also performed the duties of constables, as far as regards the conveyance of those sentenced by the courts to prison was concerned, till 1765.

26 Statutes, vol. i. p. 21.

27 Lib. Scacc. (dates lost).

28 Rotul.

29 Rotul.

30 Statutes, vol. i. p. 62.

31 Ibid., vol. i. p. 64. 32 There is nowhere any record, before the epoch of the civil war in the seventeenth century, of any warlike operations carried out either by the paid or unpaid forces of the island (see Appendix D).

33 Chetham, Soc., vol. lxii. p. 21. It is not quite certain whether the militia are included.

34 At Peel, the constable received 10; the chaplain, 6 ; 12 soldiers, 24; 36 soldiers, 36; and 9 servants, 9. At Rushen, the constable and chaplain got the same as at Peel; 9 soldiers, 18 ; 36 soldiers, 36; and 8 servants, 8. In 1623, the constables at Peel and Rusben got 8 6s. 8d. each, and a " chirugeon, " in each garrison, 5 each.

35 Till 1653, there were 120 men in each company, but they were then reduced as above. The governor was captain of one of the companies.

36 Journal of the House of Commons (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. pp. 75-81).



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