[from History of IoM, 1900]



Character of the the period 1660-1765

THOUGH the year 1660 does not mark such a distinct epoch in Manx history as 1405 or 1765, yet it is the beginning of a period during which the people were almost constantly in collision with their Stanley rulers, and, in this respect at least, it affords a contrast to the preceding period, when, except for a few years between 1422 and 1430, and 1642 and 1651, passive obedience seems to have been the all but invariable rule.

The Restoration easily accomplished in Man

The restoration of the Stanley government caused as little friction and alteration as its temporary cessation had done eight and a half years before.

Charles the eighth earl.

The first act of the new lord, Charles (b. 1628, d. 1672), eldest son of the seventh earl, was the nomination, on the 13th of July, 1660, of nine commissioners to whom he gave power and authority to settle the affairs of the island, " due regard being had to the right of the inhabitants." 1 The great object to which Earl Charles's efforts were directed in the early years of his rule was the bringing to punishment of those who had taken part in the rebellion of 1651. At the time of his assumption of the government, the chief culprit, William Christian (Illiiam Dhone), was not on the island, having, according to the account he is alleged to have given in his dying speech, gone " to London, with many others to have a sight of " 2. his gracious king. While there he was arrested for a debt of 20,000,3 and, being unable to obtain bail, was kept in the Fleet prison for nearly a year. In September, 1661, he ventured to return to Man, having been advised that the Act of Indemnity secured him against all the consequences of his actions in 1651. Unfortunately his advisers had failed to take into account the fact that his offences were not against the English Crown, but against the Lord of Man, who had no disposition to allow the wrongs of his family to remain unavenged. For some reason, however, the earl did not proceed against Christian till the 13th of September, 1662, when he issued a mandate " to all his Officers both Civill and Military," 4 to bring him to account " for all his illegall actions and Rebellions on or before the yeare of our Lord 1651." 4 Christian was at once arrested, and a series of depositions concerning theevents of 1651, in which he was implicated, were taken.5 These depositions included the evidence of Robert Norris that Christian was "the chiefe actor" in the " risinge," 6 and of Hugh Moore that he had shown him a formal document, signed by Major Fox as the representative of the Parliament, which empowered him (Christian) to effect a rising in favour of the Commonwealth. Hugh Moor's testimony, if trustworthy, is amply sufficient to establish Christian's treason against his lord. This evidence, with the rest, was, on the 13th of November, laid before the Keys for their opinion as to whether or not it disclosed a case of treason on which the prisoner ought to be tried, or whether he could be sentenced "without quest," that is, without trial by jury, as was probably not infrequently done in former times in cases of treason. The House decided that the case fell within the compass of the Statute of 1422,7 but advised that the prisoner should be tried by jury.8 The indicting jury, consisting of six persons, was then charged. Its members were all of humble rank, and it was afterwards affirmed that three of them were dependents of the Earl of Derby and too ignorant of English to understand the pleadings submitted to them. 9 This jury returned a verdict of guilty; but, if we may accept the testimony of Christian's dying speech, it would appear that its members only came to this decision when "prompted and threatened," 10 after having twice found that the object of the rising in which Christian had been concerned was not treason against the House of Derby, but merely " to present grievances to the countess." 10 On the 26th of November, the Court of General Gaol Delivery was held, when Christian " refused to come to abide the law." 11 The deputy-governor, Henry Nowell, then asked the deemster, Norris,12 what, according to the laws of the island, should be done in the case of a prisoner refusing to plead. The deemster applied for advice to the Keys, who declared that " the Law in this case 13 deems such a person to be in the mercy of the Lord for life and goods." 14 The report was not, however, signed by all the members of the House, and, in order to secure unanimity, the earl commanded that seven of the Keys who had been concerned in the rising of 1651 should be dismissed, and their places filled by persons of his own selection. The question was, on the 29th of December, again submitted to the Court thus reconstituted, which unanimously confirmed its former decision.15 On the 31st of December, the deputy-governor ordered the deemsters to pronounce sentence, stating, at the same time, that upon the " earnest peticon " 16 of the prisoner's wife, and in " consideracon of her very disconsolate condition," .16 he thought fit to commute the usual punishment for treason, i.e., that of hanging, drawing, and quartering, and to order that he be " shot to death, that thereupon his liffe may depart from his bodie." 16 This sentence was carried out on the 2nd of January, 1663, at Hango Hill. An entry relating to the execution in the Parish Register of Malew states that Christian " died most penitently and most curragiously, made a good end, prayed earnestly, made an excellent speech, and next day was buried in the Chancel of Kirk Malew." "17 A broadside, purporting to be a copy of the speech referred to, was printed in 1776. According to this document, which, whether authentic or not, is eloquent and dignified in style, and contains nothing inconsistent with any known facts, he protested against the charge of treason brought against him by " a prompted and threatened jury," and " a pretended Court of Justice," of which the greater part were " by no means qualified." 18 He appealed to those present to bear witness how unjust this accusation was, and, he reminded them that "the rising of the people" in which he afterwards came to be engaged "did not at all, or in the least degree, intend the prejudice or ruin" of the Derby family.18 During Christian's imprisonment in Castle Rushen he had addressed a petition to the King in Council, pleading that the proceedings taken against him by the Earl of Derby were a violation of the Act of Indemnity, and praying that his case might be heard before the Council. 19 His petition did not reach London till a week after the execution. In ignorance of this event, orders were sent to Lord Derby to produce his prisoner. Two of Christian's sons, George and Ewan, then presented petitions for redress, and, after some delay, the earl, the deemsters, and three other members of the court which had tried him, were brought before the King in Council, who decided that " the Act of General Pardon and Indemnity did and ought to be understood to extend to the Isle of Man." 20 The Privy Council furthermore ordered that " intire restitution" 21 be made of Christian's estate, and "to the end the guilt of that Bloud, which hath been unjustly spilt, may in some sort be expiated," 22 the deemsters "who decreed this violent death" should remain prisoners in the King's Bench "to receive condign punishment," 22 while the others who had been summoned were discharged upon giving security to appear when called upon. 23

Of the other persons implicated in the Rebellion, only three, Ewan Curghey, a member of the House of Keys, Samuel Radcliffe, a member of the House of Keys and captain of the Patrick Militia, and John Cæsar,24 Lieutenant of the Malew Militia, were exempted, by the Earl of Derby's order of February 4, 1662, from the general amnesty. 25 They were imprisoned and had their estates seized and confiscated without any legal trial.26 But, by order in Council of August 5, 1663, they were " restored to all their estates real and personal and fully repaired in all the charges and expenses" they had incurred.

Apart from these proceedings and those in connexion with the agrarian question, with which we deal elsewhere, the history of the rule of the eighth Earl of Derby contains no incident of importance. The family historian tells us that he was a person " of great affability, a kind landlord, and a loving friend and neighbour." 27

He was succeeded by his son William (b. 1655 ? d. 1702). During part of the first year after William's accession, the island was governed by his mother, the Countess Dorothy Helena (Rupa), 28 as his guardian, and afterwards, until and during part of the year 1676, by James, Duke, Marquess, and Earl, of Ormonde, in the same capacity. Earl William became Chamberlain of Chester, and he was Mayor of that city in 1702.29 He visited the island in 1686, and again in 1691, being present at a Tynwald Court at St. John's on July 30th in the latter year, when several acts were assented to by him. 30 Seacome describes him as being a man of " strong capacity," 31 and, though at variance with the Manx people on the land question, he did more for them than most of his family. His brother James (d. 1736), who succeeded him in 1702, was a brigadier in the army, and had seen service in Flanders and Ireland. He was a member of the Privy Council in the reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and King George I., Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chamberlain of Chester. He is said to have been a gallant soldier, but his behaviour to his Manx subjects show him to have been both arbitrary and narrow minded. Dying without issue, he was the last lord of the House of Stanley.

The chief events during his period of rule in Man, which was a troublous one, are described elsewhere, but we may mention here that an Imperial Act authorizing the purchase of the sovereign rights of the lords of Man by the Crown was passed in 1726.32

In 1736, the sovereignty of the isle, on failure of the heirs male of the sixth earl, and on the death of Lady Harriet Ashburnham, the only daughter of Lord Ashburnham and his wife Henrietta, daughter of the ninth earl,i passed to James Murray (b. 1690 ? d. 1764), second Duke of Atholl, whose maternal grandmother, Amelia Sophia Stanley, was the third daughter of the seventh Earl of Derby. He was the third son of John, second Marquis and first Duke of Atholl, and Lady Catherine Hamilton. On the attainder, in 1715, of his eldest brother, William, Marquis of Tullibardine, for taking part in the rebellion, an Act of Parliament was passed vesting the family honours and estates in him. In the same year he was elected M.P. for Perth ; and, in 1724, he succeeded to the peerage on the death of his father. In 1724, he was made lord privy seal and chosen a representative peer; and, in 1734, he was invested with the Order of the Thistle. He joined the army of the Duke of Cumberland in 1746. On being appointed keeper of the great seal, in 1763, he resigned the office of privy seal, being, at the same time, made lord justice general.34 Of the personal character of the duke very little is known. But his name is associated with Acts of Tynwald, passed during a period when he was on the island, which did much to secure the greater liberty of the people and their better government.

He was succeeded by his only surviving child Charlotte, Baroness Strange, and her husband, John Murray, who, in right of his wife, became Lord of Man.

John Murray (b. 1729, d. 1774) was the eldest son of Lord George Murray, fifth son of John, second Marquis and first Duke of Atholl, and his wife Amelia, only daughter of James Murray, of Glencairn and Strowan. Though he was the nearest finale heir to the dukedom, yet, as his father had been forfeited, he " deemed it advisable " 35 to petition the king that his claim to it might be allowed. The petition was referred by the king to the House of Lords, who, on February 7, 1764, resolved that he had a right to the title.35 He and his wife are chiefly remembered in the Isle of Man by their connexion with the Act which revested the sovereignty of Man in the English Crown-the " Revesting Act," as it is called. This important event, which forms one of the most memorable epochs in Manx history, was the result of the determination of the English Government to put a stop to the injury done to the revenues of the Crown by the smuggling trade that was so extensively carried on in the island. We propose giving a detailed account of the smuggling in the next chapter, confining ourselves in this chapter to tracing the course of the negotiations which led to the passage of the Act referred to. On July 25, 1764, a proposal was made to the duke by the prime minister, George Grenville, to treat " for the purchase of the Isle of Man, 36 or of such part of the rights claimed by your Grace in the said Island, as it shall be found expedient to vest in the Crown, for preventing that pernicious and illicit trade which is at present carried on between the said Island and other ports of His Majesty's dominions, in violation of the laws, and to the great diminution and detriment of the revenues of the kingdom."37

He also informed him that the House of Commons had enquired what steps had been taken to put an end to the smuggling, and that the Ministry had, therefore, reason to expect that he would " pursue every legal method for the prevention of this evil."37

He further intimated that they were willing to receive a proposal from him stating what portion of his property and rights he was disposed to sell and what value he placed upon them; and he concluded with a threat that, if the duke did not comply with their wishes, they might then pursue " such other measures as we shall think our duty to the public requires of us."37

Not receiving a prompt reply to this letter, the Ministry, on August 17th following, issued an order in Council stating that the laws against smuggling would be rigidly enforced. Twelve days later the duke wrote stating that he was willing to enter into a treaty for the disposal of the island, but that, since he had only been a few months in possession of it, he was not in a position to name any price. The next step on the part of the Ministry was, on September 12th, to ask the duke for full information as to the value of every branch of the insular revenue; but, before an answer could be conveniently given, he was informed that the Government intended to obtain their object by an Act of Parliament.38 Accordingly, on the 21st of January, 1765, a Bill was introduced into the House of Commons entitled, " An Act for more effectually preventing the mischiefs arising to the revenue and commerce of Great Britain and Ireland from the illicit and clandestine trade to and from the Isle of Man." 39

By this Act,40 which was commonly designated the Mischief Act, the king's officers of customs and excise were authorized to search ships in the ports of the island, and to make seizures there by land or water. It also authorized the prosecution of all offenders in Great Britain or Ireland, or in any courts in the island held in the name and by authority of the king, and, as necessary to any such prosecution, the service on offenders in the island of processes from the British or Irish courts. Against these provisions the duke presented a petition to the House of Commons, and he was heard by counsel thereon. Soon after this he received an intimation from the Ministry that a treaty for the purchase of his rights might be entered into, but that the proposed legislation would be proceeded with. Alarmed by this threat, the duke supplied the information asked for five months before, and stated that he would accept the sum of 299,773 for all his rights in the island. This amount was composed of the following items 42,000 for the regalities ; 8,400 for the patronage of the bishopric and ecclesiastical benefices, and 249,373 for the customs duties, landed property, and manorial rights.41 But the Ministry decided to purchase the regalities and the customs only, and, therefore, suggested that he should offer the former for 46,000 and the latter for 24,000. The duke, who seems to have being afraid of being deprived "of the most valuable parts of his property for no consideration whatever," 41 hastened to make the offer they directed. In the meantime, the Keys, fearing that the interests of the island would be overlooked in the course of these negotiations, appointed commissioners to go to London "to endeavor to preserve the inherent and constitutional rights of the people, . . . as also to procure such just and reasonable terms for the good of the Community. . . . as can possibly be obtained." 42 These commissioners were furnished with instructions chiefly relating to arrangements about trade for the advantage of the island, but their requests were, for the most part, ignored, and, in any case, their intervention did not hinder the rapid passage of a Bill, afterwards called the " Revesting Act," which gave effect to the proposals forced upon the duke. This became law on May 10, 1765, and, by proclamation under the great seal of England, dated June 21st, the island was taken possession of by the English Crown. After the passage of this Act, a pension of 2,000 (Irish) a year was granted out of the Irish Revenues 43 to the duke and duchess for their joint lives. It may be mentioned here that the Manx continued to be loyal throughout this period, both to their immediate rulers, though at times greatly exasperated against the governors, and to the English Crown, notwithstanding some slight manifestations of sympathy with the Jacobite Pretender both in 1715 and 1745.44

The ecclesiastical history of the period embraced by this chapter, and the history of the agrarian discontent and its settlement, will be treated in subsequent chapters.


1 Lib. Irot., 1660. Gell (Manx Soc., vol. xii. pp. 89-90).

2 "Manx rebellion " (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 37, Dying Speech).

3 It is not known whether the money he is said to have embezzled when receiver formed part of this.

4 "Manx Rebellion" (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 2). This volume contains full particulars of these depositions, which were taken during the months of October and November, 1662.

5 "Manx Rebellion" (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 2).

6 Ibid., vol. xxvi. P. 9.

7 To the effect that a traitor might be sentenced without quest "to be drawne with Horses, and after, hanged and headed" (Statutes, vol. i. p.9).

8 " Manx Rebellion " (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 27).

9 Petition of Ewan Christian (" S. P. Dom. Chas. II.," Vol. lxvii. No. 150, Manx Soo., vol. xxvi. p. 46).

10 " Manx Rebellion " (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 36).

11 Ibid., p. 29.

12 The other deemster, John Christian, William's brother, with his (John's) son, Edward, who acted as his deputy, seeing that the prisoner's fate was practically decided, had already sailed to England to implore the king to exercise his authority to save him.

13 I.e., in the case of refusing to plead.

14 "Manx Rebellion" (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 30). Christian made a fatal mistake in refusing to plead, for he consequently subjected himself to the same punishment as if he had pleaded guilty, or had been found guilty by a jury, and therefore in the two so-called trials no evidence was taken for him, so that he was virtually condemned without trial.

15 Excepting in the two points already noted (the special mandate for prosecution against Christian by name, and the summary removal of the seven Keys), the procedure in Christian's case seems to have been according to law. It is, however, difficult to understand why he was not brought into Court and required to plead guilty or not guilty at the bar. If he had then refused to plead, or stood mute, his conduct not being caused by the act of God, by the old law he would, undoubtedly, have been deemed guilty. Christian's refusal to appear or plead given in prison was thus considered the same as if it had been made at the bar of the Court. This may have been correct according to the procedure in those days, but now a prisoner is obliged to attend at the bar. Assuming, therefore, that his refusal to plead made in prison was as valid as if made at the bar of the Court, there can be no doubt of the legality of his conviction. It seems certain that if there had been a material flaw in the trial in this particular, it would have been made a point of before the Privy Council, but we do not hear of anything of this kind (opinion of Sir James Gell, AttorneyGeneral).

16 " Manx Rebellion " (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 34).

17 Manx Note Book, vol. ii. pp. 55-6.

18 Manx Rebellion" (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 36). 19 Ibid., pp. 41-2.

20 "Manx Rebellion " (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 55). This decision is difficult to understand, for " The Act of Indemnity applied to Treasons, etc., committed by virtue or colour of the authority of the existing Government of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Dominions and Territories thereto belonging; and the Isle of Man is not a Dominion or Territory belonging to England, though it is a Dominion of the Crown of England " ; also, "The Treasons, etc., referred to, must be considered as against the Crown of England. Persons in the Isle of Man might be guilty of Treason against the Lord of the Island independently of the Crown of England. If Christian was guilty at all, the charge against him was Treason against the Lord of the Island, not against the King of England " (Cumming, The Great Stanley, p. 369. Opinion of Sir James Gell).

21 " Manx Rebellion " (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 55). 22 Ibid., p. 56.

23 A printed "Broadside," without date, entitled "The Earl of Derby's case stated for the Vindication of the Proceedings at Law in the Isle of Man against William Christian," states (1) That Christian, having taken oath to bear faith and fidelity to James Earl of Derby and his heirs "did design an insurrection." (2) " That he falsely and malitiously insinuated into the People that the Countess Dowager of Derby . . . would sell all the People for twopence or threepence a head." (3) " That malting himself Captain of the Insurrection he besieged the said Countess in Castle Rushen and forced her thereby to enter into a treaty for the surrender of the Island." (4) " That he did send to the Parliament's ships giving them notice of the distrac tions of the Island." (5) "That he brought in the Parliament's Forces and made condition for the Island without the consent of the said Countess, or of Sir Philip Musgrave, Governor and General there." (6) "That the Earl of Derby was not in the Island when His Majesties orders came thither, . . . nor was His Majesties Letter for the bringing of the said William Christian before his Majesty or Council obtained before the execution of the said William Christian." (7) That his officers thought that the Act of General Pardon would not cover Christian's case as " the Isle of Man is not therein named." (8) That he " so far from malting benefit to himself of the said William Christian's Estate hath given and annexed it to the Bishoprick of Man some months since " (Loose Papers, Knowsley).

24 William Qualtrough is also mentioned in Ewan Christian's petition as being in a like position, but his name does not occur in any of the other records ("Manx Rebellion," Manx Sec., vol. xxvi. p. 46).

25 Ibid., Introduction, p. xxxvii.

26 " S. P. Dom., Chas. II.," vol. lxvii. No. 150 (Manx Soc., vol. xxvi. p. 56).

27 Seacome, p. 208.

28 She was a German lady.

29 Ibid., p. 219.

30 Statutes, vol i. p. 144.

31 Seacome, p. 218.

32 This Act (12 Geo. I. c. 28) was also directed against the sinuggling trade (see p. 435).

33 The succession, which had been arranged by Act of Parliament (8 James I.), came to him as heir-general of the seventh earl.

34 Dict. Nat. Biog., vol. xxxix. pr. 371-2.

35 Dict. Nat. Biog., vol. xxxix. pp. 385-6.

36. It would appear that a sale of the island had been contemplated by James, the second duke (see The Land of Home Ride, pp. 213-14).

37 Parliamentary Papers, No. 79, p. 13 (1805). See Gell (Manx Soc., vol. xii. pp. 104-125) for full information on this question; also pamphlet published in 1783 containing the "Case of John, Duke of Atholl," and Mr. Hargrave's opinion thereon.

38 5 Geo. III. c. 39.

39 Gell (Manx Soc., vol. xii. p. 105) points out that this designation "is not strictly correct. The trade to the island was by law almost free, and restricted only by such duties as were imposed by the Insular Legislature, and such trade was previously recognized by the English Government. So far as trade from the Island was concerned, it was not illicit and clandestine by the Insular laws which authorized the exportation of goods on payment of the Insular duties. The trade was illicit and clandestine in Great Britain and Ireland so far as it was attempted to land the goods there without payment of the British or Irish duties, or in defiance of British or Irish laws."

40 It did not come into force till after the passage of the Revesting Act.

41 Atholl Case (Pamphlet, 1788), pp. 12 and 13.

42 Commissioners' Report, Appendix (A), No. 16.

43 I.e., 1,740 English. This was paid for forty years till the duchess's death in 1805. It was argued that, as Ireland, like England, had suffered from the illicit traffic, it should contribute some part of the compensation.

44 In September, 1715, the governor issued the following proclamation: ". . . Several persons within this island have lately taken great liberty in reflecting upon the establishment of the present government in England; therefore if any person shall hereafter speak reflecting words of the King's Majesty of England, or of the present government there . . . or show their disaffection by drinking the Pretender's health, or the health of any other . . . that are esteemed enemyes to the Crown of England, or attainted or outlawed by the laws thereof, such shall be fined and further punished at the discretion of the Court " (Lib. Scacc.). In 1746, Thomas Christian, Vicar of Marown, was fined for saying "in publick that this Pretender was and is the Right Heir to the Crowne of Great Britaine " (Ibid.).

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