[from History of IoM, 1900]



§ 4. Revenue, Taxation, and Expenditure.

Though there are numerous accounts to be found in the muniments' room at Knowsley, and in the seneschal's office at Douglas, it is very difficult to discover, with any approach to exactness, what was the amount of the revenue derived by the lord from the island during this period. 1 This arises from the officers, when rendering these accounts, not, as a rule, estimating the value of that portion of the rents which was, before 1704, paid in kind, and from their placing under the heading of disbursements the sums paid on behalf of the lord for cattle bought by them in the island, part of which he probably re-sold in England at a profit. We get, however, sufficient information to show that the gross receipts up to 1704, not including customs duties, averaged about the same as between 1610 and 1643, i.e., 1,600. 2 There is, then, after deducting the expenditure, 3 which may be placed at about 1,100, a surplus of about 500, a sum which, when added to the amount of the customs duties, 3 will probably give about the average amount received by the lords, say nearly 600.4 During the greater part of this period nearly all the rents were received in kind, being, except what was required for the use of the officers and garrisons, shipped in the form of cattle to England.5 After 1704, the average annual receipts, apart from customs duties, increased to about 1,750. This was due to the rents bringing in more because, after that date, they were mainly in money, instead of mainly in kind; to the alienation fines being regularly, instead of irregularly, paid; to the growth of an income from royalties on mining; and to, after 1710, the revival of the herring fishery, which for thirty years had been a more or less pronounced failure.6 Expenditure also increased to an average of about 1,200, so that the balance was about 550. This balance, added to the largely increased customs duties,7 gives surplus revenues approximately as follows: From 1704 to 1713, 800; from 1714 to 1720, 1,650; from 1720 to 1728, 1,600; 8 from 1728 to 1734, 1,500 ; from 1738 to 1746, 2,850; from 1747 to 1752, 4,250; and from 1754 to 1763, 7,300.9


Except for a tax for the repair of the high-roads, imposed in 1713, with a poll tax for the repair of bridges, imposed in 1739, 10 and the licences for publichouses and dogs, there was no direct money taxation. 11 The indirect money taxation was increased in 1677 by the raising of the customs duties to, on an average, more than double the rates imposed in 1577.12 A new departure, too, was made by charging strangers, on some commodities, much higher duties than natives.

The Export Duties

Thus, if a stranger wished to import or export corn, he paid double the amount of the duty imposed upon the native; if ale, half as much again, and so on.13 These duties were again increased in 1692,14 though there were not any very great changes, except in the import duties on ale, brandy, wine, and butter, which were increased, and on coals, Irish linen, and leather, which were reduced; while the export duties on horses, swine, and leather were increased; and a practically prohibitive duty was imposed on the export and import of corn, when it exceeded a certain price. The Manx duties were still, notwithstanding these two advances very moderate in comparison with those in England, which were enormously increased at this time. 15 We have already referred to the prohibitive rates temporarily imposed in 1703 and 1704. 16 In 1737, the illegally imposed import rates of 1692 were confirmed by Tynwald, with the exception of those on cattle, horses, barley, and wine, which were increased, 17 while the export duties were done away with. 18


The chief items of expenditure were, as before, the salaries of the civil officers, which rose from about 300 to about 450 19 during this period, those of the military establishment, which remained at about 300, also the board and lodging of all the officers, both civil and military, and the soldiers, together with the maintenance of the forts, public buildings, and harbours, which amounted, on an average, to about 450. But, as these last three items were almost entirely provided for by the gratuitous labour of the people, the money expenditure on them consisted, almost entirely, in the provision of arms and ammunition.


It is during this period that we first hear of any care for the maintenance of harbours. It is not known whether the receipt of anchorage rates 20 by the lords involved them, before 1734, 21 in an obligation to keep the harbours in order, though, from what follows, it would seem that it did not. 22 In 1660, the " Bulworke " 23 at Douglas was ordered to be kept in good repair, but it does not appear who had to pay for this.

Method of repairing the harbours

From various entries in the Records, it may be inferred such repairs were usually done by the enforced labour of the militia companies in the adjoining district, under the orders of the captains of their respective parishes. 24 Thus, in 1690, the captains of Rushen and Arbory were ordered by the Council to bring their several militia companies to Derbyhaven harbour, and to cause them " to carry with them their spades and creeles convenient for the removing of stones and rubbage " (sic), 25 which had rendered the harbour " dangerous and incomodious " 25 for shipping. Any one who did not attend was to he punished at the governor's discretion. In 1734, we learn that " the several sea-ports and harbours " were " not only incomodious for the egress and regress of shipping, but also very unsafe for their lying, some for want of proper means being heretofore used to keep them open and free from drifts of sand, shilly, 26 and other rubbish, and others by dangerous rocks and other impediments rendering them vastly hazardous." 27

Habour dues imposed in 1734

It was, therefore, enacted that harbour dues should be imposed on the shipping and applied for the repair and maintenance of the harbours, and that, with permission of the lord, the anchorage dues should also be applied to the same purpose. 28

Supervizors appointed

Supervizors of the harbours were appointed, who were chosen annually by the governor, Council, and Keys. 28 According to the Preamble of an Act passed in 1740, these supervizors had not collected or applied the harbour dues properly, and the Act prescribes that they were to be sworn into office annually, and that no harbour works were to be carried on or money borrowed without the consent of the Tynwald Court. 29 All this time the security of the vessels using the Manx harbours had been greatly imperilled by the absence of lighthouses.

No Lighthouses

In 1692, " severall persons trading from Whitehaven and other places," being "desirous for the better security of themselves, their shipps, and goods that one or more Lighthouses bee builded," 30 applied to the Earl of Derby for assistance to build them. The earl thereupon appointed Commissioners "to contract and agree . . . for the building and erecting of such Lighthouses and for the yearly maintenance thereof with lights and watchmen," 30 but nothing whatever seems to have been done till a much later date.


Till the very end of this period there were no highways properly so called, such roads as did exist not exceeding the dimensions of a lane.

Their dimensions and how repaired

As there were no wheeled vehicles, 31 the roads were only made wide enough to accommodate horses laden with creels. Their repairs, like those of the harbours, were cared for by the captains of the parishes, who employed their militia companies for that purpose. 32 For this work the militia was paid, the captains having powers "to cause an assessment to be made," 33 which was "to be layd equally on the respective farmers." 33 The farmers who had land immediately adjoining a highway were obliged to keep "open the trenches on each side of the same." 34 In 1690, the captains of the parishes were relieved of the duties of highway surveyors, and were, in lieu thereof, allowed to give in to the Council " the name of some fitt and able person . . . that he may be authorized and impowered . . . to supervise and inspect all common highways within their parish." 34

First Act relating to highways in 1713

The first Act of Tynwald relating to highways was promulgated in 1713. It made provision for the repairs of the country roads by taxing the occupiers adjoining them to the extent of three shillings and fourpence each, and, if this was not sufficient, the other occupiers in the respective parishes had to send carts, horses, and men to finish the work. 35 The appointment of the overseer of highways was transferred to the Setting Quest in each parish, and the captain and Great Inquest had to inspect the roads twice yearly to see that he did his duty.

Act of 1753

By a further Act, in 1753, a sum of three shillings and sixpence from the licence on each public-house was appropriated for the highways, a committee was appointed by the Tynwald Court to decide how it was to be appropriated, and a general supervizor was appointed for the whole island. It was also enacted that the streets in the towns should be kept in order by the adjacent occupiers. 36 The absence of wheeled vehicles already referred to would account for the want of bridges not having been a matter of concern to the inhabitants. Indeed it is probable that, before the end of the eighteenth century, there were very few bridges in the island. 37 In 1728, the people of Douglas and Braddan petitioned the Tynwald Court " that a bridge should be erected over the Bright river on the road between Douglas and Kirk Braddan Church," 38 and, in the same year, there was a petition from the Ramsey people for a bridge over the Sulby river at Ramsey. But it was not till eleven years later that an Act of Tynwald was introduced to give effect to these petitions. It was then, 1739, enacted that, after " the old bridges, now broken, decayed, or insecure," 39 had been repaired, certain new bridges should be built. Funds for this purpose were provided by an annual tax of one penny per head on every man and woman above sixteen years of age. 40 , Twenty-four years later, in 1763, money was, for the first time, obtained for the highways by a tax on dogs. 41


1 No doubt long and painstaking labour might succeed in separating the items so as to give more nearly than we have done the amount of the revenue, but it would be scarcely worth undertaking.

2 I.e., lords' rents, 1,230; abbey rents, 200; sundries, 170. In the Schedule to the Act of 5 George III. c. 26, the abbey rents between 1754 and 1763 are given at 122 only, and the lords' rents at 1,398, making a total of 1,520. But, since the present abbey rents, including 8 for the Barony of Bangor and Sabhal, are given by Wood as 215, and the lords' rents as 1,318, making a total of 1,533, it seems probable that, in the Schedule, part of the abbey rents are added to the lords' rents. The abbey rents do not appear in the insular accounts at this time, being received direct from the lessees, who were English.

3 Pp. 443-4.

4 It was arranged, in 1660, probably on the basis of the usual surplus between 1610 and 1643, that the Dowager Countess should receive 500 (Manx) annually in lieu of "the moyetie or half part the revenue," so no doubt she got the best of the bargain (Knowsley Muniments, 12/11 and 19/21, and Lib. Irrot.)

5 The lord had a ship, called the Heneretta, of 33 tons burthen, commanded by David Christian, which, in addition to conveying cattle, kelp, puffins, rabbit skins, &c., for his disposal, carried a general freight to and from the island for his profit. The lord, of course, paid no customs duties, and, in 1680, he obtained from the English Government the passage of cattle, &c., English duty free, on the ground that he had to receive his rents mainly in kind, and that he could only dispose of them profitably in England (Knowsley Muniments, 1735/1

6 The total, then, is made up as follows: Rents, 1,500; deodands, fines, anchorages, mining royalties, &c., 100 ; demesnes (including Calf Island), 100; herring customs, 50. As regards this last item, though (see below) it averaged 126 between 1754 and 1763, it must be remembered that there was practically no income from the herring fishing till 1710. Between that date and 1752, it only averaged a little more than 50.

7 Appendix B

8 During these years the customs duties were leased for 1,050.

9 The items are as follows: Lords' rents, 1,398; customs, 6,422 ; herring customs, 126; abbey rents, X122; demesnes, 106 ; deodands, &c., 104 ; impropriate tithes, 231= 8,509, less expenses of collection (say), 1,200 = 7,300. The impro- priate tithes were forfeited by the clergy to the Duke of Atholl (see p. 466). These particulars are given in the Schedule to the Act 5 Geo. III. c. 26.

10 See p. 448.

11 Benevolences were not exacted after 1651. The Duke of Atholl had, however, instituted a practice of paying certain sums instead of carriage services, if desired.

12 Knowsley Muniments, 1715/18 The duties of 1677 are not to be found in the Statute Book or the Records. For a list of the principal duties see Appendix B.

13 The following opinion on the Manx duties was given in 1681: " They are in no way cloged (sic) nor bothered with taxes, customes, or other grievous impositions in so much as you may have good Spanish wine for 10d. a quart and Ffrench wine for a groat (4d.) a quart. I remember I was treated by a ffellow Collegiate at Douglas who is a visitor there, and for 8d. charge we had a quart of good white wine, 2 quarts of strong ale and bread and butter and other juncates into the bargain" (Denton MS.).

14 Appendix B, and Statutes, vol. i. pp. 225-32.

15 Lord Derby, on his own authority, doubled the prizage of wine in 1705, and consequently the merchants were " so much discouraged " that little or no wines were imported. The governor and officers represented this state of affairs to him, and so he withdrew the additional duty (Rolls Office. Loose Papers).

16 Twenty shillings per head on every cow, bullock, or horse, unless for breeding purposes ; on butter, 10s. per cwt. ; on leather, 5 per " Dicker" ; "beef, the carcass or barrell," I; " hatis," 5s. each ; shoes, the pair, 2s.; ' brogues," the pair, 1s. ; " all linnen cloath, woolen cloath, and Irish stuffs," 2s. per yard; while Scottish cloth paid 7d. per yard and muslin 7d., though the Scottish goods had to be " stamped or sealed " by the water-bailiff before they could be sold (Lib. Seacc.).

17 Horses, 1s. 6d. if imported by a native, 2s. 6d. if by a stranger; cattle, 1s. 6d. if imported by a native, 3s. if by a stranger; barley (per boll), 4d. if imported by a native, 8d. if by a stranger. The duty on barley was in addition to the old duty. Wine paid 10s. per tuna, the prizage being done away with. (Statutes, vol. i. p. 223.)

18. It was also arranged that if these additional duties fell short of 10, which is stated to have been the amount of the export duties, the difference was to be made up to the lord, who, if he did not get as much as this, was given power to re-impose the export duties at the end of five years. (Statutes, vol. i. p. 223.) They, however, realized much more than this. In 1748 the duty on imported ale was raised to 7s. 6d., unless it was re-exported within six months, when it was charged 2s. 6d. Imported malt paid 7s. 6d. per bole (Statutes, vol. i.p. 256).







s d

s d

s d

Governor 1

100 0

100 0 0

200 0 0


60 0 0

50 0 0

100 0 0


25 0 0

29 13 4

31 13 4

Receiver 2

22 0 0

22 0 0

25 0 0

Deemsters (each) 3

15 0 0

15 0 0

15 0 0

Water-Bailiff 4

21 0 0

21 0 0

20 0 0

Steward of Abbey Lands

16 0 0

16 0 0

20 0 0


10 0 0

11 0 0

10 0 0

Forrester : 3

6 0 0

6 0 0

6 0 0

Falconer 3

6 0 0

6 0 0

6 0 0

1 After 1737, 050.
2 After 1737, .1;40.
3 They did not receive board and lodging.
4 Divided between four officers of this name. After 1737, 30.

20 In accordance with the books of rates in 1577, 1677, and 1692.

21. Lib. Scacc.

22 See p. 445.

23 Lib. Irrot. It is not known what this was.

24 It does not appear whether they were paid for this work, as in the case of highways, or not (see p. 446).

25 Lib. Scacc.

26 I.e., gravel.

27 Statutes, vol. i. p. 203.

28 Ibid., pp. 203-5. In 1736, there is an entry in the Lib. Scacc. ordering the attendance of " a committee of the officers and Keys " to elect these supervizors.

29 Statutes, vol. i. pp. 242-3.

30 Lib. Scacc.

31 Except a carriage used by Bishop Wilson in his later years. The only place he could use it was on the sands near Kirk Michael, at a place now swept away by the sea.

32 Lib. Scacc., 1673. The captain of Lezayre was ordered to take his company and repair certain places where the Sulby river had broken out. (Ibid., 1683.) The captains of German and Marown were ordered to bring their companies to repair the road between Douglas and Peel.

33 Lib. Scacc, 1690. In 1716, the highway at Maddrell's Bridge was repaired, and the parish of Arbory was assessed for the cost of the same. There is no record of their being paid for the work at the harbours.

34 Lib. Scacc., 1690.

35- Statutes, vol. i. pp. 193-5. In 1716, the allowance for each horse over 13 hands was 4d. a day,under that height, 2d., for a cart and two horses (over 13 hands) with a man, 2s. 6d., and for a cart and one horse (over 13 hands), Is. 6d.

36 Statutes, vol. i. pp. 270-2.

37 Excepting the abbey bridge near Rushen Abbey, which is probably of the thirteenth century, there are no remains of any bridge older than the eighteenth century.

38: Lib. Scacc.

39 Statutes, vol. i. p. 240. This Act expired in 1774.

40 Ibid., p. 239. It should be observed that a portion of this money was expended on the repair of St. John's Chapel.

41 Ibid., pp. 294-5. Greyhounds and pointers paid 5s. 10d., other dogs 1s. The Council, Keys, and clergy were exempt. The Act expired in 1768,


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