[from History of IoM, 1900]



§ 2. Trade and Industry.

The first Manx Coinage in 1668.

Before reviewing the trade of the island, let us direct attention to the great impetus which it received, in 1668, by the introduction of an independent coinage,1 in the shape of the pennies issued by John Murrey, a Douglas merchant. 2 These pennies were by an order of the insular Council made a legal tender ; in 1679, an Act of Tynwald was passed which ordained that they should " still pass according to order," 3 and they did so pass till 1709, when the tenth earl’s coinage was issued. Before the issue of Murrey’s coinage the island had suffered from the absence of genuine specie of any kind.4 It had suffered also from the abundance of base coins, an evil which unfortunately still continued.5

Condition of the money current in the island.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, in consequence of the prevalence of smuggling, money of all kinds became more abundant, 6 though the quantity, on account of the good money continuing to leave the island, was still insufficient. To stop this an Act was passed in 1692 for " raising the value of milled money and ginneys, and for prohibiting any to goe out of the Isle."7

Efforts to regulate its value.

It was accordingly ordered that 5s. was to pass for 5s. 4d., 2s. 6d. for 2s. 8d., and 21s. for 22s. 8 Four years later, the Keys successfully petitioned Lord Derby " that all crown pieces after this day, by public consent, be allowed to pass for 5s. 10d. a piece, and half one at 2s. 11d. a-piece, a shilling at 14 pence, and sixpence at 7 pence a-piece, and guineas to pass for 24s. 6d. a-piece, and seuadoores to pass for 19s. 6d. a-piece,"9 and they further requested that he should take his rent in the coins at these values.10

First Manx Government coinage in 1709.

Let us now continue the history of the Manx coinage. The first Manx Government issue, which consisted of pence and halfpence, was in 1709. These coins had the Derby crest (eagle and child), with their motto, " Sans danger," [sic Sans changer] on one side, and the three legs, with the motto, " Quocunque Gesseris Stabit," 11 on the other. This issue was made legal tender by an Act passed at Tynwald on the 24th of June, 1710.12

Further issues.

There was a similar issue, though very much better executed, in 1733,13 which was legalized in the same year. 14 The same Act which effected this declared that " from henceforth no person shall be obliged to take any other brass or copper money."15 In 1758, James, Duke of Atholl, issued pennies and halfpennies bearing a monogram " A. D." (Atholl Duke), with the ducal crown and the date on one side, and, on the other, the legs and motto as before. In 1786, 1798, and 1813,16 there were issues of pence and halfpence with the English sovereign’s head and the usual English motto on one side, and, on the other side, the legs and Manx motto. In these, as in all previous issues, 14 pence and 28 halfpence went to the shilling. 17 About 1830, it occurred to some astute individuals that, since the Manx penny could be passed as an English one in Great Britain, it would pay to export them.18 They did so, and accordingly the island was almost deprived of its copper coinage. Notwithstanding this the Keys, in 1834, threw out a Bill for assimilating the Manx copper currency to the English.

First and only English Government Manx coinage in 1839.

The English Government, therefore, in 1839, gave orders that a new currency of the same type as the foregoing, but comprizing farthings as well as pence and halfpence, should be issued for the Isle of Man, and pressure was put on the Tynwald Court to pass an Act that these coins should be accepted at the rate of 12 to the shilling.19 The Manx people thought that they would be defrauded by this arrangement, and some rioting took place. Soon afterwards all the coinage before that date was received into the mint, through the Board of Customs, at its nominal value. 20 The coinage of 1839, which was the last of the special insular coinages, rapidly became very scarce, and its place was taken by the general coinage of the United Kingdom. 21


The trade of the Isle of Man during this period was, to a considerable extent, influenced by certain Acts passed by the Imperial Parliament.

Imperial Acts affecting Manx trade.

The first of these, in 1666,22 limited the number of Manx cattle to be imported into England to 600 annually ; and it provided that they should be of the native breed only, and that they should be landed at no other port than Chester. In 1676, corn, the growth of the island, was permitted to be imported into England.23 But any advantage that may have accrued to Manx trade from these Acts was considerably modified by the renewal and enlargement of the Navigation Act of 1651, in 1660, when it was enacted that goods could only be shipped in vessels built as well as owned and manned by Englishmen. 24 But the greatest injury at this time to Manx trade was caused by the increase of the English tariff after 1689 25

Effect of the increase of the English tariff.

In 1705, the Tynwald Court complained of this in a petition to Lord Derby, in which they pointed out that it was impossible for them to get the chief articles they required, such as iron, salt, timber, coal, and pitch, unless they could export such articles as they could spare, and that they were prevented from doing so by the prohibitive English tariff. At the same time they enclosed an extract from the custom-house books to show how much greater the value of the necessaries imported from England was than that of the goods exported from the island to that country,26 and how much the exports from the island might be increased if the tariff was reduced. This appeal produced no result.

Local Acts and regulations.

The local authorities also gave a large share of their attention to Manx trade, as may be seen by the number of regulations relating to it which are found in the Records and Statutes at this period. Some of these were wise, but many more were unwise. In the first category is the constant care for the integrity of the weights and measures. Thus, in 1670, it was ordered that the weights were to be " after the rate of haberdupoize of 16 ounces," and that the London quart 27 was to be the standard of measure, four quarts making a standard " barrell, strike measure, for all manner of grayne, and for water measure in like manner."28 These standards were " to be marked with 3 legges of Man, a Crown, C.D., and 1671." In 1673, some useful regulations were issued about the sale of meat. In accordance therewith, the constable and clerk of each market in every town were ordered to seize all unwholesome victuals brought to market, such as " veal under three weeks old, and also such lambs, kidds, and piggs as shall appear unmarketable in respect of their poverty and tenderness of age." 29 Such victuals were either to be burnt or distributed to the poor, no compensation being made to the owners.

Laws regulating rates of interest, &c

In 1687, it was found necessary to re-enact. the law of 1649, which forbade the exaction of more than the legal (10 per cent.) 30 rate of interest on mortgages.31 Those who had taken more than this were punished and obliged to hand back the amount of the overcharges made by them. In 1691, a further step in the same direction was taken by passing a law to reduce this high rate of interest, which was declared to be " to the great hurt and prejudice of this Isle." 32 It was therefore enacted that (1) no person should charge above 6 per cent., (2) all contracts made after the date of the Act at more than this rate should be null and void, (3) any one acting contrary to its provisions should forfeit treble value " of the money, wares, merchandizes, and other things so lent, bargained, sold, or exchanged. " 32

Unwise regulations about corn, cattle, and linen.

It must be remembered that the insular Legislature was composed of men who were mainly connected with the agricultural interest, and who, therefore, did their best to maintain the prices of farm produce at a high level by preventing its import and encouraging its export. Their attempts to do this, even in years when there were bad harvests, 33 led to collisions with the townspeople, the result of which was usually an agreement to prohibit exports as well as imports of food.34 Instances of this action as regards corn are too numerous to quote, but we may mention that, in 1703, the importation of Irish cattle, except for breeding purposes, was practically prohibited,35 in accordance with a petition from the Keys.

In 1704, another petition from the Keys to the governor was directed against the importation of linen cloth 36 into the island, whereby the native producers were undersold, and it was consequently ordered by the Tynwald Court that a further sum should be charged on imported linens, in addition to the duties already in existence.37

Agitation respecting free fairs and markets.

In the same year, they asked " that a free market for the exportation of all manner of goods may be granted and passed into a law," and that " no obstruction be hereafter made to any such markets, but by the advice and consent of the 24 Keys, as necessity and occasion shall require." 38 The former part of this request was granted, but, seeing that, in 1723, the Keys again complained of the want of free markets, it was evidently not carried out. Nothing, in fact, was done to meet their views till the advent of the Atholl régime, when not only was the export trade made free, but all fairs and markets were ordered to be free and open to all buyers and sellers, whether strangers or natives.39 This equality was not, however, of long duration, for, in 1742, " Pedlers and chapmen, who are strangers from other countreys,"40 had to pay 24s. for a license which the natives were not required to obtain.

But the main idea was to protect the insular producer.

Of measures intended for the protection of the native producer there are many instances on record. Thus, in 1736, the petition of the Douglas coopers that the " importation of empty casques of any kind from beyond seas " 41 be prohibited was granted ; in 1737, the importation of malt was prohibited, and wheat and barley were not allowed to be imported, unless the price in the island was above 28s. and 24s. per quarter 42 respectively; and, in 1745, it was ordered by Tynwald that no foreign beer or ale be admitted to the isle till the 24th of June, 1746, because its importation, " considering the present state of the countrey with respect to corne and graine, is held to be highly detrimental to the public good " ; 43 and, in 1748, the duty on ale was raised, on the ground that the old rate was " found to be greatly prejudicial to the landed interest." 44 An exception was, however, made in favour of ale imported for the purpose of being exported within six months, it being charged at the old rate, and the importation of malt was again allowed on payment of a heavy duty. On the other hand, the insular consumer was protected by exportation being forbidden when prices were high.45 Such was the commercial system favoured by the rulers of Man. 46

No wonder that the foreign trade of the island was not extensive. 47 It existed, during this period, chiefly with France, Spain, Portugal, Norway and Sweden, and Ireland.48 Of that with the first three countries we have already spoken ; from Norway and Sweden timber was obtained, and from Ireland live stock and linen and woollen goods. 49 With England, owing to a heavy tariff, which, after 1689, became almost prohibitive,50 there was comparatively little intercourse, and with Scotland, after the Union, there was even less.

The chief exports of the island were black cattle, which had been fattened for the market, salt fish, wool, green hides, beer, honey, tallow, flags, slates, and, except to England, fine and coarse linen cloth, and coarse woollen cloth. 51 Previously to 1720, there had also been exports of corn, beer, 52 and "powdered" beef, but, since the island had become a " great resort of strangers, " 51 there was barely enough of these commodities for its own use. The chief imports were salt, coal, iron, spirits, sugar, timber, tar, Irish linen, and " store cattle."53

Our best means of forming an estimate of the amount of this trade will be found in the yearly totals of the customs duties on exports and imports. Between 1660 and 1700, their average annual amount was £78 ; 54 between 1702 and 1713, it was £225 ;55 between 1714 and 1720, £1,118 ;56 between 1728 and 1734, £948 ;57 between 1738 and 1746, £2,221 ; 58 between 1747 and 1752, £3,691 ;59 and, between 1754 and 1763, it was £6,422.59 Before 1700, the export trade—judging, however, from two years only 60—wou1d appear to have exceeded the import trade ; but, after that date, the imports very largely exceeded the exports, or rather the import duties largely exceeded the export duties, till, at length, after 1737, the export duties were done away with.61 The small amount of the exports was partly due to the advent of stranger residents, but there is no doubt that much of what was exported escaped the payment of duty owing to the connivance of the insular customs officials in smuggling. 62 The rapid rise of the imports after 1712 was, of course, also mainly due to this cause, though the legitimate trade probably increased somewhat as well. An impetus was given to trade in 1737 by the abolition of export duties, 63 and it was still further encouraged in 1750 by the establishment of a packet boat, sailing at regular intervals between Douglas and Whitehaven, for the conveyance of letters and merchandize.


The Act of 1692.

Home manufactures were evidently active at this period, and, in 1692, there was an effort made to promote the linen manufacture in particular by the passage of an Act of Tynwald. By this every quarterland owner was compelled to plant half an acre of hemp or flax, and the intack owners, one-twentieth part of an acre. If they did not, they had to pay a fine of three shillings and fourpence a year. A system of prizes for the encouragement of good work was also established, it being provided that whoever in each sheading should spin the best yarn or produce the best web of cloth should receive twenty shillings, in addition to the value of the yarn or cloth. This was to be judged by the Sheading Court, with the advice of two weavers. The best weaver in the island received £4, his or her merit being adjudged by the Tynwald Court. If the winner was a maid servant, she was to be excused from being yarded for ever afterwards.64

Memorandum by the ninth earl.

This Act had, no doubt, the cordial approbation of the ninth earl, since it is clear, from the following memorandum, dated 1698, that he was most anxious to promote the welfare of his people, whether industrially or otherwise : " Perfect the Park.65 Continue the linnen manufacture. The Lighthouse and a good smithy in it. 66 The sope Boyling. The Pottery. Set up a brewhouse and maulthouse. Perfect Derby Haven. 67 Search for mines. Open the rode to Peele, &c. Improve the maintenance of the clergy. Repaire the Church and Castle at Peele. Get a good woolen clothier, a good tanner and curier. Forme a register. If possible forme a company for trade. Improve the husbandrys. An Act for education of youths. Reforme the ale Houses. But above all settle the property of the people. Put the laws into writing and reduce the practical part to method. Apply one of the academic places to the service of the state that one be always educated in the Comptrollers office to breed Attorney-Generalls, Deemsters, &c."68 In these brief but pregnant notes, we see the wise and far-seeing ruler. From them we learn that, in addition to the manufactures already mentioned, there was a pottery and a soap-boiling establishment. Earl William’s programme was never carried out in its entirety, but efforts were made by his successor to promote the linen trade by importing skilled weavers from England to instruct the natives.69

Regulations to ensure the good quality of manufactured articles.

Other efforts to encourage manufactures took the direction of endeavouring to ensure that the articles produced were of good quality. Thus, in 1665, it was ordered that skilful persons should be sworn by the deemsters to " examine and try all leather tanned within this Isle before it be put to sayle."70 Such leather as was approved by them was then to be stamped with the insular arms ; 71 and, in 1704, cloth fullers were forbidden " to deliver out any cloath from their milnes untill the 4 of the Great Enquest of the parish wherein they live, have first viewed the same, and find the said cloath to be sufficiently fulled or dressed." 71


1 Unless we admit the authenticity of Martholine’s coinage (Sacheverell, Manx, Soc., vol. i. pp. 59-60), or the accuracy of Bishop Meryck’s statement that Man had money peculiar to itself (Ibid., vol. iv. p 96). This, however, was emphatically denied by Blundell (Ibid., vol. xxv. p. 60).

2 They bore on the obverse " John Murrey : 1668,’ ‘ with, in the centre, " His Penny, IM " ; and, on the reverse, " Quo. cunque Gesseris Stabit " Clay (Manx Soc., vol. xvii. p. 49).

3 Statutes, vol. i. p. 137.

4 Except for a time after 1642, when Earl James and others, who sought refuge from the troubles in England, brought money with them. Waldron (Manx Soc., vol. xi. p. 1.)

5 For declarations against illegal coining, &c., see Statutes, vol. i. pp. 103-4, 137, 139, 140, and 202 ; also Lib. Scacc. in 1646, 1648, 1679, 1682, 1724, 1729, and 1749.

6 In 1682, silver groats were legalized and counterfeit groats, called rixum groats, were declared illegal. Scottish halfpennies marked with a thistle, and Irish halfpennies marked with a harp were to pass for *d. (Statutes, vol. i. p. 140).

7 Knowsley Muniments, 1719/8 not in Statute Book.

8 Ibid.

9 Lib. Scacc.

10 In 1704, we find the Keys again complaining that money was scarce (Ibid.).

11 Correctly Jeceris.

12 Statutes, vol. i. p. 182.

13 This coinage was struck at Castletown. There is the account book of the wages paid to the workmen for doing it in the Rolls Office. (For a copy of part of this see Manx Soc., vol. xxx. pp. 1-28.)

14 Manx Soc., vol, xxx. p. 202.

15 Ibid. This step was probably rendered necessary by the large extent to which forgeries had been carried on, and the small amount of the coinage of 1709 which was left.

16 At this time there were great numbers of counterfeit pence and halfpence in the island.

17 £100 English = £116 13s. 4d. Manx.

18 Thus any one who exported £12 of copper would clear £2.

19 The old Manx coins ceased to be current on the 21st of September, 1840. See Statutes, vol. ii. pp. 133-7. It was enacted that sums of ¼d., ½d., ¾d. and 1¼d. Manx should be satisfied by similar coins in British currency ; that sums between 12½d. and 14d. were to be settled by 1¾d. less than these amounts in British money, between 10½d. and 12¼d., by 1½d. less ; between 8¾d. and 10¼d., by 1¼d. less ; between 7d. and 8½d., by 1d. less; between 5½d. and 7d., by ¾ d. less ; between 3½d. and 5¼d., by ½ d. less ; and between 1¼d. and 3¼d., by ¼ d. less.

20 Manx Soc., vol. xvii. p. 89. To this volume, The Manx Currency, by C. Clay, M.D., those wishing to obtain full details are referred.

21 In a later chapter we shall refer to the numerous tokens, both in the form of coins and paper notes, that were issued by insular merchants at the beginning of the nineteenth century to facilitate the rapidly expanding trade of the island (see p. 587).

22 18 Charles II. c. 28.

23 25 Charles II., cap. 7, sec. 21. The Acts of 1721, 1764, and 1765, are referred to in the sections on Smuggling.

24 Acts were passed in 1729 and 1745 whereby Manx seamen were made liable to contribute to Greenwich Hospital.

25 See p. 429.

26 Knowsley Muniments, 1720/11 See also p. 425.

27 A standard quart was kept in custody of the steward at Castle Rushen.

28 Lib. Scacc.

29 Statutes, vol. i. p. 135.

30 See p. 312. The legal rate of interest in England had been reduced from 10 per cent. to 8 per cent. in 1617.

31 Statutes, vol. i. p. 142.

32 Ibid., vol. i. p. 145.

33 During the famine, however, imports were encouraged and exports prohibited, though even then there was considerable opposition on the part of the farmers.

34 See Lib. Scacc., 1704, 1728, 1734, 1746. In 1734, the importation of malt was forbidden, also that of wheat and barley, " unless the market prices in the Island . . . be above 14s. per bowle for wheat and 12s. for barley." Nor was the foreign barley so imported to be made into malt " unless the market price in the Island for malt be 15s. per bowle or above " (Lib.Scacc.). In 1737, even the export of herrings was forbidden till the inhabitants had been supplied at the rate of 14d. per hundred (Statutes, vol. i. p. 217).

35 By a very high rate.

36 This was directed against Scottish and English linens on which the British Government had just begun to grant bounties.

37 Lib. Scacc.

38 Ibid. The object of this request was doubtless mainly to have foreign goods exported free in the interests of the smugglers. For an account of the English Acts of 1711, 1714, and 1726, dealing with Manx trade, see pp. 433-5.

39 Statutes, vol. i. p. 215.

40 Ibid., p. 244.

41 Lib. Scacc.

42 Statutes, vol. i. p. 223. If foreign barley was imported it was not allowed to be made into malt unless the local price was above 30s. per quarter.

43 Lib. Scacc.

44 Statutes, vol. i. p. 256.

45 For the customs duties imposed by the insular government see Appendix B.

46 It may be mentioned that traders had suffered much inconvenience by being liable to arrest when leaving the island " upon pretences of debt . . . without just cause." It was therefore enacted in 1748 that if any one suffered a " false arrest " in this way, he could bring an action for damages (Statutes, vol. i. pp. 256-7).

47 Governor Sacheverell evidently, judging from the following remarks in a letter to a friend, in 1692, desired to promote Manx trade : " I would now begin some proposals for foreign trade, but was first in hopes to have received Mr. Poole’s thoughts upon it, of which I desire you to put him in mind" (Manx Soc. vol. i., Editor’s Preface, p. xi).

48 It is not known why there was more trade with Ireland than Great Britain. Possibly it was due to the Irish tariffs being lighter than the British.

49 There was a considerable importation of Irish flannels and friezes till 1698, when the English Parliament prohibited the export from Ireland of either wool or woollen manufactures to any country but England (10 Wm. III cap. 10). These commodities, however, continued to be smuggled to the Isle of Man.

50 Even under the Act 18 Ch. II., c. 28 (see p. 417), there seems to have been a heavy duty on Manx corn.

51 Wilson (Manx Soc., vol. xviii. p. 104), also Denton’s MS.

52 A curious instance of a trading transaction is afforded in 1706, by the members of the Tynwald Court binding themselves to provide John Murrey, merchant, Douglas, with " 20 tunns of strong beere " for export to the West Indies, John Murrey pay-rig 18s. per barrell and finding casks at his own costs. (Lib. Scacc.)

53 Ibid. and Lib. Scacc. An abstract of the exports and imorts of cattle in 1734 may be seen in a MS. at Bridge House, astletown.

54 Appendix A. Average of 7 years.

55 Appendix A. Average of 10 years.

56 Ibid. Average of 6 years. Between 1720 and 1728 the duties were leased.

57 Ibid. Average of 7 years.

58 Ibid. Average of 6 years.

59 Schedule to Act 5 Geo. III. c. 26.

60 The average of export duties in 1661 and 1669 was £55, that of the import duties in the same years being £30.

61 Appendix A. Between 1702 and 1713, the average amount of the export duties was £21 ; between 1714 and 1720, it was 223 ; between 1728 and 1734, it was £9. (These figures are calculated on the same number of years as the import duties.)

62 See pp. 431-2.

63 Statutes, vol. i. p. 223.

64 Knowsley Muniments, 1719/8 This Act is not in the Statute Book, but, as there is a copy duly signed and approved at Knowsley, and as Governor Sacheverell mentions the passage of such an Act in writing to a friend, it seems clear that it was in force. (Sacheverell, Manx Soc., vol. i., Introduction, p. xi.)

65 it is not known where this was.

66 No lighthouse is known to have existed till a much later date.

67 No doubt the port is meant.

68 Knowsley Muniments, 1719/63

69 Order by Governor Mawdesley, 1707 : " You are to pay unto Nicholas Leech, weaver, the sum of forty shillings per annum out of our Honbie. Lord’s treasury towards his encouragement to stay in this Isle for the promoting of a Linnen trade here.—To Mr. Chris. Parker, Recr. Genl." [Rolls Office. Loose Papers).

70 Statutes, vol. i. pp. 117—18.

71 Lib. Scacc.


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