[from History of IoM, 1900]
WE have already indicated the ways in which land in the Isle of Man was probably, for the most part, divided as late as about the end of the sixteenth century, and have endeavoured to describe the tenure upon which it had been held up to the accession of the Stanleys in 1405.
At that date, except for some spiritual baronies, it would seem to have been the lord's demesne, and the grant by King Henry IV. to Sir John Stanley, in 1406, left it in the same position, since it constituted him the superior lord of the island, the greater part of which was held by his immediate tenants. Another part was freehold, and was held by the bishop, the Abbot of Rushen, and other barons,1 by fealty, while the remainder consisted of the castles and unrented, or waste, lands. When the monastery of Rushen and the priory of Douglas were dissolved, their lands were vested in the Crown. In 1609,2 the Crown transferred them to the Stanleys, who, at some unknown period, had also obtained possession of the other baronies, except those of the bishop, of St. Bees, which fell into the hands of the Christians of Milntown, and of the " Staff Lands." 3
The Revesting Act made no difference in the position of the Atholls with regard to the land, their manorial rights over which they sold, in 1826, 4 to the Crown. In 1860, by the " Disafforesting Act," 5 a part of the waste, or demesne, lands thus acquired was sold, 6 another part being allotted to the Crown and the rest to the owners of customary lands in lieu of rights of common.
Such being the various changes which have taken place, the
different classes of estates in the Isle of Man at the present day
(1) The ancient customary estates, including the abbey lands and baronies, excepting
(2) The bishop's barony and demesne, the barony of St. Bees, and the " Staff Lands."
(3) The waste lands called " The Forest," operated upon by the " Disafforesting Act " of 1860.
(4) Estates created out of the estates of the Crown by freehold grants from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.
(5) Lands (not included in " The Forest ") still in the hands of the Crown. 7
The estates in the first two classes are divided into (1) farm-lands or quarter-lands,8 which are the principal estates of the country, and average from 40 to 150 acres in size; (2) mills, &c.; (3) cottages, i.e., plots of land in towns and villages and a few small plots in the country adjoining quarter-lands. Intacks, or parts of the forest or common and other waste lands, which, from time to time, have been licensed by the lord or his officers to be enclosed, 9 form a further division in the lord's lands, but not in the abbey lands and baronies. In considering the nature of the tenure upon which these estates were and are held, it is only necessary to refer to the first two classes, since they cover much the largest part of the island. What the tenure was in the fifteenth century may be indicated by describing the way in which the lord probably arranged for the cultivation of the land at that epoch. In England, during that century, the manors were cultivated, either by the unpaid labour of villains, who, in return, had a portion of them for their own use free of rent, or by the paid services of labourers who were practically, though not nominally, free. Each labourer probably had a cottage, with a small piece of land attached, for which he paid a money rent.
In Man, the lord does not, in the Stanleys' time, seem to have cultivated any part of his demesne, except occasionally, when he failed to get tenants. The Manx villains, therefore, did their services by paying certain customary dues in kind, such as corn, cattle, turf, and fish, which were appropriated to the maintenance of the garrisons 10 of the insular castles as well as of the lord's household both in Man and England; by doing a certain number of days' labour 11 in each year in repairing the castles and highroads; and, in the third place, after 1511 at least, by paying a fixed rent, the amount of which was estimated in money, though it seems to have been usually paid half in money and half in kind. 12
Those whose holdings were very small were called cotters, 13 and performed similar services, though less in amount. They were mainly settled on the " Abbey Lands," and, doubtless, till the dissolution of Rushen Abbey, 14 most of their time was employed in cultivating the abbey estates, while the cotters who were on the lord's land appear to have supplied all the labour that was required by the tenants, since it is probable that there was no landless labouring class 15 till after the monks disappeared. In return for these services, and the rent, the tenants occupied their lands for as long as the lord chose.
They were, in fact, tenants-at-will. But this base tenure must in practice have been much less oppressive than it was in theory, on account of the difficulty in getting tenants, of which there is evidence in the laws prohibiting any one leaving the island without licence, compelling the tenants to occupy and manure their land, and ensuring them a supply of labourers. 16 It must be remembered, too, that though, according to the Statute Book in 1422, the land was re-allotted to the tenants annually,17 this meant very little more than the interchange of the different parts of the treens between very much the same joint-tenants, 18 as is shown by the long-continued recurrence of the same names in the manorial books. 19
Such being the state of affairs, the tenure-at-will speedily developed into a sort of copy hold tenure, called the " tenure of the straw," 20 because, when any tenant " had seized his lands into the lord's hands or else had alienated the same unto any other person, he was to come into the [manorial] court and make resignation thereof by delivering of a straw and thereupon a record was to be entered of the same which was all the assurance the succeeding tenant had of the estate in nature of a copyhold which was also held sufficient evidence to his holding without any other escript." 21 The earliest surviving records of this kind, or court rolls, which were compiled in the Manorial or Sheading Courts,22 date from 1511, for the south of the island, and from 1515, for the north. In these are inscribed the names of the tenants of each treen, together with the amount of rent payable by them.23
The tenants, then, held their lands by admission and entry 24 upon these Rolls, and, as time went on, they obtained a fixed tenure. Indeed, we find that they gradually began to consider their estates as their own, and to sell and exchange them without any licence from the lord. This custom, which probably became established owing to the negligence of the governors, in the absence of the lord, was temporarily stopped, in 1582, by an ordinance that lands were not to be alienated except by the lord's licence, issued by the Council, without the consent of the Keys; 25 and, in 1593, a blow was struck at the straw tenure by Earl Ferdinando's order that, " If any person shall pretend title to any farme, houses or ground . . . and do not exhibit his bill in writing for the same .whereby it may be entered of Record within the space of twenty-one years next after he or his ancestors have been dispossessed thereof, that then he or his successors claiming after him to be utterly excluded and barred from making any title "hereunto for ever." 26 Another change was initiated in 1601, when there was a " great death of cattle and horses," 27 so that the inhabitants were " not able as before to pay their usual customes of come victual and fyer unto the garrisons of the said Isle the Countrey not having provision for beeives nor yet horses for carriage of ther turtffe and linge as heartofore." 28
It was, therefore, arranged that, instead of these customs, they were " thensforth to pale yearly for their usual quarters of customarye land a duble rent in money," and only half the usual amount of " settings corne." 28 This arrangement, however, only continued till 1608, when the exact amount payable by each parish in lieu of the customs to the castles was fixed by the Commission held by Richard Hoper,28 and from that time the customs were paid either in kind or in money, at the option of the tenants.
Some years before this, probably partly in consequence of the ordinance of 1582, the practice of taking leases for three lives, or even shorter periods, became more general, 29 though there are a few instances of leases having been taken as early as 1542.30
But, in 1609, the ordinance of 1582 seems to have been practically cancelled by James I., who, by letters patent under the great seal of England,31 confirmed the rights of the inhabitants to sell or transfer any of their estates, real or personal, at pleasure, and declared that any law or custom permitting the free alienation of their properties should remain in full force.32 Leases, notwithstanding, continued to increase in numbers, which shows that some of the tenants at least had no fear that the acceptance of them would affect the nature of their holdings. Some, however, who were more cautious, declined to make any change, and others arranged to get rid of the leases which they had previously signed by paying a fine to the lord for permission " to hould by the straw."33
In 1630, Lord Strange endeavoured to put an end to this anomalous state of things by sending over commissioners to arrange leases in lieu of the straw tenure throughout the island. They, however, accomplished very little,34 because most of the tenants refused to give up their ancient tenure, which Lord Strange writes of as " a certain holding whereby men think their dwellings are their own ancient inheritances, and [that they] may pass the same to any, and dispose thereof without license of the Lord, but paying him a bare small rent, like unto a fee-farm in England; " but he adds, significantly, "wherein they are much deceived."35 On his arrival in the island, in 1643, he appointed a (commission of four of his principal officers to arrange the question of the tenure, and he authorised them to offer (in a way which savoured of coercion)36 leases for three lives, or twenty-one years to those who still held " by the straw," on condition of their paying fines 37 and a double rent, in return for which they were to receive certain remissions 37 not made in previous leases. In 1645, this arrangement was sanctioned by Act of Tynwald, with a proviso saving the rights of inheritance and partial ownership to the tenants, " according to the antient and usuall customary lawes of the island." 37 By the same Act alienation without the consent of the lord was declared illegal, notwithstanding the order of King James to the contrary, in 1609, but, as we shall see, constant difficulties arose in enforcing this law.
With reference to these rights of inheritance it was then placed on record that, in conformity with the customary laws, the quarter-lands, &c., descended to the eldest son, or, in default, to the eldest daughter, " and in default of such to the next of kindred and to no other child or children, person or persons whatsoever, except it be by gift, grant, or assignment in case of poverty." 39 At the same time, the lord's interests were carefully provided for by giving him, in addition to the power of forfeiture, which he previously possessed, the " right to comitt the bodies or take the pawnes of such person or persons as shall be behind with their rents." 40
In 1647, the order of 1593 making the limitation of claims to lands twenty-one years was confirmed by Act of Tynwald, and the clause in the Act of 1637 making it five years was repealed.41 We now return to the question of the leases. A recent writer considers that " the granting of these leases was a considerable benefit to the tenants, as, in consideration of the double rent, they got rid of several heavy customary burdens, amongst others the delivery of a beef annually to the Castles from each quarter-land, and the Lord's right of pre-emption or being victualled at a certain price, and also payment of benevolence."42 As far as the release from these burdens is concerned, these leases were certainly more advantageous to the tenants than those entered into by them before 1643; and we find that the tenants, tempted by this, alarmed by the allegation that, under the tenure of the straw, " they were but tenants at will, and might be put out at the pleasure of the lord," 43 and persuaded that, by taking these leases, "both they, their wives, and children, were sure of the same during any of their lives," 44 became leaseholders in considerable numbers.44 This is the explanation of their action given by a contemporary observer, but there is no doubt some force also in Deemster Sherwood's contention that the tenants believed that the leases " did not affect the nature of their holdings," and that such leases " were in effect lettings of the customary burdens at fixed rents in money." 45 Another inducement to the tenants to become leaseholders was afforded by the action of certain of the lord's officers, who took leases by his orders. The first hint that the new position of the tenants was not a secure one came in 1650, when certain officers who had formerly taken leases received their lands "for ever under and upon the rent, services, duties, and cutomes heretofore usual," upon the condition that in the future they should be " liable and bound for their holdings under such conditions as may be agreed upon by the Earl and his heirs and the people of the Isle." 46 An Act of Tynwald was passed to confirm this grant. 47 A further step was taken in the following year, when some of the officers were allowed to revert to the straw tenure;48 during Ford Fairfax's time also several compositions were paid for this privilege.49 No wonder, then, that the tenants began to perceive that they had been deceived..
They had, in fact, by accepting the leases, lost their customary right of inheritance, and the lord, after the Restoration, lost no time in disputing the permanency of their holding. " The consequence of this was general dissatisfaction and constant disputes, and an almost open rebellion against the authority of the lord." 50 The first case in which this state of affairs came to a definite issue was that of John Lace, who claimed the estate of Hango Hill, of which he seems to have been dispossessed by the late earl. This case was, in 1666, referred to the Keys, who decided that Lace was entitled to continue to hold the land, which he had re-occupied after 1651, or to receive compensation 51 for having been again deprived of it in 1664, when it was granted to Bishop Barrow.52 Earl Charles was much annoyed by this decision, and told the Keys that he would have " no more of these kind of practises," 53 and that, if they persisted in such conduct, he would express his dislike in a way which he was sure would not be " pleasing " 53 to them. The Keys, or a majority of them, continued obdurate, and refused to subscribe a paper wherein it was stated that John Lace's title was not established. The earl thereupon wrote: " Having too great an evidence of the unquiet and factious humour that rules in several! of my 24 Keys . . . and finding they endeavour to establish a right to their Farms in themselves not only to the overthrow of my just dues and prerogatives in the Island, while they challenge an unlimited title to their own tenements beyond the term of their leases . . . it is my will and comand to all my officers that the estates of the foresaid persons be att the expiration of their leases seized upon for my use and none of them be admitted to compound for their estates without special licence obtained under my hand . . . and I also require that the foresaid psons shall be put out of all places of office and comand in the Island." 54 This threat frightened the Keys, who signed a certificate stating that the grant to Bishop Barrow was effectual as against the title set up by John Laced But, though there was submission for a time, the difficulty with regard to the title to land continued, and the uncertainty of tenure caused by the lord's claim that he had the right to dispose of all the lands, on the expiration of the leases, to others than the former lessees, together with the alleged impossibility of working the land at a profit if any rent was paid 55 and the attractions of smuggling,56 resulted in many of the farms being abandoned. 57
Further trouble, too, had arisen about the alienation fines, which the tenants refused to pay, declaring that they were not in accordance with their ancient customary tenure and that they had only been granted in the form of benevolences to the lord when he was in especial need. In this respect, however, the lord was able, after some delay, to enforce his demand in 1673, by inducing Tynwald to confirm the Ordinance of 1582 and the Statute of 1645, which ordered that " no manner of person or persons whatsoever shall give, grant, or assigns, any Islands or Tenements within this Isle, without the special lycence of the Lord of the said Isle, or of the Officers thereof." 58 Tradition has it that the tenants were so discontented with this state of affairs that the Keys, as representing them, went to London to interview King James II. 59 This expedition has been regarded as apocryphal, but its occurrence receives some confirmation from an entry in the Exchequer Book in 1703 to the effect that some years before " the Keys went over to England." 60
But, whether this expedition took place or not, it is clear that the difficulty of obtaining tenants continued, and it led Earl William, in 1692, to appoint commissioners,61 not only to manage the insular revenue, but " to sett and left all lands now out of lease."61
They do not, however, appear to have met with any success, since it is recorded, in 1693, that land in a number of parishes was surrendered to the lord, the owners being unable to pay rent.62 The coroners were consequently ordered to give notice at the parish churches "that whosoever will come in and pay most to our Honourable Lord for the said tenements shall be admitted tenants." 62 No one, however, responded to this invitation, and therefore, in 1699, Earl William came to the island and issued a proclamation to the effect that he intended settling the tenants " in their several holdings and tenures," 63 and that he had appointed Bishop Wilson to receive any proposals they might have to make, with a view to deciding the question. 64 Nothing, however, was done till after his death in 1702, when he was succeeded by his brother, James, who, on the 10th of June, 1703, in writing to the bishop, remarks that " the sooner the Island can be settled on a good bottom it will be mutch better for both the Island and myself." 65
In consequence of this letter, Bishop Wilson, with a deputation of three members of the Keys,66 proceeded to England to see the earl. They made certain proposals, which were, with one exception were accepted by him.
An Act, called the "Act of Settlement," embodying these proposals, was passed on the 4th of February following, and it was promulgated at Tynwald on the 6th of June. It is a compact, like Magna Charta, between a feudal sovereign and his vassals. Its substance is briefly as follows: The earl, on his part, declared and confirmed to his tenants " their ancient customary Estates of Inheritance in their respective Tenements, descendable from Ancestor to Heir according to the Laws and Customes of the Isle." 67
The tenants, on their part, covenanted to pay to the earl " the same fines which they severally and respectively paid for their several and respective tenements . . . at the Generall Fining" in 1643.68 If any of the lives were still in being, then only two thirds of the general fine was to be paid. Upon any future change by succession or alienation, one-third of the same was to be paid, and, if it were by death of a tenant, twelve months were to be allowed to pay it in. Minor holdings, such as cottages, " milnes " and intacks, were included under the same rule, also the abbey lands, subject to the payment of the same fines as in 1666, and to the " yielding, paying, performing, and doing the annuall rents, customes, suites, and services as formerly and anciently accustomed." 69
As regards the tenants of the lord's lands, it was also agreed that the double money rents of the quarter-lands, together with all other rents, suits, and services, were to be paid as arranged in 1643. But no change was made in the money rents of the tenants of the abbey lands, who continued to pay the single rent in money, but, since their money commutation for the customary payments in kind 70 was from time to time increased in value, their rents are practically equivalent to those of the tenants of the lord's lands.
Gifts, even to children, and mortgages, were to be treated as alienations, but the mortgagor was to be allowed twenty-one years from the date of his mortgage for his chance of redeeming. Clauses were subjoined bringing under the same rules any inclosures or mills hitherto uncharged, or that might come into existence in the future. Some special cases were then provided for; and it was arranged that all payments were to be in Manx currency, and that they were to be made within eighteen months after the passing of the Act. The Setting Quests in each parish had to see that the tenants' names were duly entered in the Court Rolls. Then came the enacting clauses to the effect that the before recited proposals should be law, and that the titles founded on them should remain good and firm, as against all manner of claimants. All existing dues and interests were reserved to the owners, and the military service due in time of war was expressly continued. A supplementary and explanatory Act was passed at the same time, by which it was enacted-(1) That " carriages " should be paid " as formerly accustomed, lee, four carriages from every quarter of land." 71 (2) That fraudulent bargains for letting lands, &c., for security of money, " under other notions than that of a mortgage," 72 to defraud the lord of a fine, should be considered as mortgages, unless the Court of Chancery decided otherwise. (3) That the intacks and cottages bordering the roads, which had been occupied without leave should be annexed to the farms and tenements next adjoining, their occupiers to become sub-tenants, or to retire, with such compensation as the Court of Chancery should fix. If, however, no complaint was made within eighteen months, they were not liable to removal. (4) That, though all mines and quarries were reserved for the lord, yet the tenant was to have the right of raising stone, slate, or limestone for his own or his neighbour's use, but not for the general market, without a special licence.
This Act, with the explanatory Act, was re-enacted and confirmed in 1777, with the consent of the Crown,73 and it is to this day considered the basis of the tenure of all the Manx customary estates, except those of the barony tenants.74
The tenure thus established is referred to by the learned Deemster Sherwood as "that ameliorated species of copyhold called customary freehold, similar in many respects to the tenant-right or customary freehold tenure prevailing in the North of England." 75 The customary tenant or owner is, in fact, " entitled to an estate, freehold in quantity, but not in quality, and to the complete enjoyment of the land, subject only to the reservations referred to, and to the payment of the annual chief rent and a small fixed fine on every alienation and descent,76 and to the other customary burdens 77 not compounded for in the original payment of double rent." 78 Thus was one of the most important grievances of the tenants settled. But several others remained.
The first of these was the attempt of the lord to get a rent from the commons, or mountain, lands. These lands, though belonging to him, had hitherto been open to the landed proprietors 79 for grazing, quarrying, and cutting turf at a nominal charge.80 Great, therefore, was the indignation excited when, in 1710, Lord Derby had an assessment of the commons made in order to enforce payment of a rent, and those who were employed in making the assessment were prevented from doing so by a number of people, chiefly the small proprietors or crofters. But, though the leaders 81 in this affair were fined and imprisoned, Lord Derby gave up the plan of enforcing a rent, and, instead, began enclosing some of the commons' lands and selling them. This, seeing that the landowners had come to consider the mountain lands as their own, was a still further grievance, and the feeling thus aroused culminated, in 1724, in a riot,82 which broke out one day when the governor and officers were in the mountains with a person who was treating for some of the land. The ringleaders of this riot were ultimately captured, placed in the stocks and heavily fined. After this there was no more trouble about the commons till 1774. Before speaking of the renewal of this dispute, it will be desirable to consider the other grievances of the landowners.83
In 1719, we hear of a complaint made by the Keys to Lord Derby that " titles to Tenements have of late been tryd other ways than by the course of the common Law." 84 He referred the question to the Council and Keys, who agreed that in future titles to lands, &c., were not " to be sent to the Lord, but to be commenced by entering an action at common lawe at the sheadinge court and that such action only shall be looked on as a proper and sufficient claime . . . the process to be by jury and traverse according to Ijawe and Custome, and the judgement of the 24 Keys in such cases to be finall." 84 This decision was assented to by Lord Derby.85 Further grievances were the sequestration of some estates, the titles of which were in dispute, the " granting licences to enclose the lands of several persons under their strand hedges, which they and their ancestors have held time immemorial, allowing the inquests to proceed without summons, or notice given to the parties . . . dismissing without just cause and branding with infamy some of the inquest, and obtruding others that may best serve their turn . . . by which means people are deprived of their unquestionable rights,"86 and the " illegally dispossessing several persons of their lands and ways and not allowing them the due course and benefit of law for the prosecution and recovery of the same.86
We do not learn how the various points in dispute were settled, but it is probable that the landowners attained most of their objects, because there is no record of any further trouble about the payments of lord's rents, which, as the value of money fell, and the value of land increased, gradually became almost nominal, and nothing has since occurred to disturb the title of the landowners to their estates, which, subject to the payment of lord's rent, was recognized on the transfer of the manorial rights of the Duke of Atholl to the Crown.87 Such questions as did arise concerning land 88 and its rental were between the landowners and those to whom they let their lands. That the new landlords, who formed a majority in the Keys, took good care of their own interests is shown by the passage of an Act, in 1753, under which any one intending to sell tenants' goods under execution had to pay the land lord a year's rent before it could be done, and no sale of property was good against the landlord's claim for rent,89 and this, it was affirmed in 1777, was to be paid in preference to all other debts. 90
We now return to the commons question. The fourth Duke of Atholl granted numerous licences to enclose portions of the commons, such enclosures being called " Intacks." 91 Some of these were disputed, and, verdicts against them having been supported by the Keys, were not carried out. Such enclosures, however, continued under the Crown, and no resistance was made to them till 1855, when an unusually large portion was thus enclosed.
The Great Enquest refused to ratify this enclosure, on the ground that "it would be predjudicial to and an infringement upon the rights of the public," 92 and their action was fully endorsed by popular approval. It is impossible to go fully into the arguments of the opposing parties, but they may be briefly stated as follows: The landowners admitted that the soil of the unenclosed lands is vested in the Crown, but they said that they had enjoyed immemorial rights of common, of quarrying stone, and of digging sand and gravel over and from such lands; that, although portions of them had been enclosed from time to time under licences granted by the Lords of Man, all such enclosures were made with the sanction of the Great Enquest, 93 and that they could not be made without the sanction of that body.
The reply of the Crown was to the effect that it has the exclusive right of property in the minerals, &c.; that it is entitled to certain forestal rights for the preservation of game; that it has a right to grant licences to enclose (the functions of the Great Enquest being confined to Inquiring whether the enclosures would be prejudicial to any public way, watercourse or turbary); 94 that it is entitled to pasturage of the unappropriated lands, qualified by the enjoyment of such rights of common as any landowners might be able to establish, and that the existing practice for every person, whether a landowner or not, to take the rights of common without stint is one which is incapable of being defended as legal right, because its existence is injurious to the interest of those proprietors who may have valid claims. The only point in dispute that was easily settled was the undoubted right of the Crown to the minerals, &c. Since the other points were, for the most part, obscure, and since there was no doubt that the landowners had enjoyed a right of user, though it may only have been on sufferance, the " Woods and Forests " department, as representing the Crown, offered to give them two-thirds of the land, while retaining one-third. But this over was clogged with so many injurious conditions that it was rejected by the Keys. Commissioners were then sent from England to investigate the question, and, after receiving their report, the "Woods and Forests" offered to divide the commons equally between the Crown and the landowners, and they withdrew the objectionable conditions.
This offer was accepted by the Keys, 95 and, in 1860 and 1864, Acts of Tynwald 96 were passed to enable the proposed changes to take place. (commissioners were appointed by the Crown to examine the claims to portions of the commons, and, when these were decided, some receiving land and others money compensation, a further portion of the commons was sold to pay expenses, and the remainder was divided in accordance with the proposals of the Commissioners.97 Trustees, called " Commoners Trustees," 98 one from each Sheading, were appointed in 1866,99 to manage the property of the landowners and the rents received by them were expended in liquidating the lord's rents about once in three years.
These changes were not carried out without opposition from the crofters and tenants. In May, 1864, they expelled an agent of the " Woods and Forests," who went, with some police, to clear off their sheep from the mountains, but a second expedition, headed by Governor Loch, who was accompanied by the garrison soldiers and a number of police and special constables, overawed the countrymen gathered to oppose them and accomplished this without serious opposition. And in this way the question was settled. There still exists, among those whose lands adjoin the mountains, much dissatisfaction with this settlement, because they were deprived of what had practically been a monopoly of free grazing on the mountains for a very inadequate compensation, but the greater number of the owners and tenants, who, as being remote from the mountains, had not lost a right of any great practical value, were not unfavourable to the change. Moreover, the manner of using the commons by those adjacent to them was not economical, since it encouraged sheep-stealing, overcrowding, and disease.
Return to Index
1: I.e., the abbey lands of Rushen, Malew, Braddan,
Lonan, and Lezayre. The baronies of St. Trinian's in Marown, of
Bangor and Sabhal in Patrick, of the bishop in Marown, Braddan,
Patrick, Ballaugh, Michael and Jurby (the bishop's demesne was in
Ballaugh and Michael, and his baronies in the other parishes), of St.
Bees in Maughold and the " Staff Lands " in the same parish. The
Abbot of Rushen, the Prior of Douglas, the bishop and the other
barons were mesne lords whose tenants rendered them similar payments
and services to those which the lord received from his tenants.
2: Act of 7 James I.
3: Probably formerly subject to the customary service of caring for the pastoral staff of the Saint (Maughold) to whom the parish church was dedicated and of producing it for pro. cessions when required.
4: By 6 Geo. IV. c. 34. The purchase was not complete till 1829. 5:Statutes, vol. iii. pp. 78-89.
6: To pay expenses.
7 Manx Law Tenures, by Richard Sherwood (late deemster), pp. 5-6. For an interesting account of the tenure of the baronies and the " Staff Lands " see Ibid. pp. 2 and 14-17.
8: It is not known when the title " quarter," or fourth part of a treen, was first used instead of treen, as the alternative name for a balla or farm-land. In 1593 the term " quarter of land " is used, and, in 1645, " Farm-Lands or Quarter Lands." (See Statutes, vol. i pp. 64, 100.)
9: This power, says Sherwood (Manxn Soc. vol. xxxi. p. 53, note 46), is expressly referred to in the Statute of 1422 (Statutes, vol. i. p. 14), by the expression " setting of lands," and nearly all the intacks of the island have their titles founded on it.
10: Statutes, vol. i. p. 62.
11: See under " Revenue," pp. 31~21.
12: Rolls Office (I`oose Papers). Replies to queries by Lord Derby in 1705. Between 1601 and 1608 it was paid in money only.
13: The name " cotter " would lead IS to infer that they were originally the same as the costar of the English Records, a class inferior to the villains.
14: The abbey lands were held on similar conditions, except that a large proportion of them seem to have been cultivated by the cotters for the monks direct, instead of for the tenants.
15: Under the joint-tenancy system (see p. 52) this would naturally be the case.
16: So that the lord's lands should " not fall to decay (Statutes, vol. i. pp. 5, 14, 51, and 55).
17: Ibid., vol. i. p. 14.
18: For evidence of the existence of this form of tenancy see pp. 52-4. The introduction of leases at the end of the sixteenth century and the partial payment of rents in money instead of in kind, which became usual at the same time, would probably tend to bring it to an end.
19: In connexion with the same farms.
20: Statutes, vol. i. p. 51.
21: Lab. Scacc., 1636. " Like most of the tenant right and copyhold estates in England, the ancient Manx tenure was not in form originally a fee simple interest. From the earliest of the manorial records now existing in the island, it is manifest that the tenure was, as to its form, a leasehold interest . . . not withstanding the form of the holding, the custom of the country as recognised by customary laws and decisions of the Courts construed the tenure to be in effect an estate of inheritance descendable from ancestor to heir, and as such the estates were held from generation to generation " (Manx Law Tenures,pp. 7-8). An estate analogous to a fee-simple estate had in fact been evolved out of a perpetually renewable lease, until at last the very form of holding by lease disappeared.
22:: For a description of these courts see pp. 752-3.
23: For dues in kind payable by them see pp. 874 and 318-21.
24: Statutes, vol. i. p. 58.
25: Appendix A.
26: Ibid., vol. i. p. 62.
27: Rotul. and Manx Note Book, vol. i. pp. 61-4.
28: See p. 319.
29: There are several instances of this in the manorial books. Thus, in 1613, " Henry Clarke and his fellows " paid rent for the quarter of ground " for which they had before paid a benevolence and now betake themselves to hold by lease." " Wm. Norris, Clerk, one of the Vicars-General of the Isle," took the parcel of land near Douglas, called " Kyrmyn's Ground," for " the term of 6 years to begin at Michaelmas next, 1610," at a rent of £8 6s. 8d., and " to pay for a fine at the Feast of All Saints next coming the sum of £8 6s. 8d." (Lib. Vast.). Some particulars about leases at this time are to be found in a valuation made by Ellis and Hoper in 1608, and in " a Book containing the particular grants of the leases from Michaelmas, 1610 . . . made by John Ireland Lieutenant of the Isle and Richard Hoper by virtue of a commission to them in that behalf directed by the Right Honoble. Robt Earle of Salisbury and Treasurer of England and Thos Earle of Suffolk and Chamberlain of His Majesty's household interested in the State of the Isle by His Highnesses Betters Patent bearing date the 1st day of July 1610 " (Knowsley Muniments, 1715/5).
30: In a book in the Records, dated 1609, and entitled " a Breefe Collection of all such Leases within the Isle of Man as have been formerly granted by some of the Earls of Derby to the Inhabitants thereof, with their several dates, what acres they do contain, what rents are vested, what estates are in being,"&c., we find that there had been thirty nine leases taken for three lives, twenty of which had expired by 1609. The earliest of these leases dates from 1542, and the latest from 1592, but twenty-six of them are dated between 1582 and 1592.
31: Appendix D.
32: " Rot. Pat." (Manx Soc., vol. ix. pp.122-5. See Appendix B).
33: See Lib. Vast., 1610, where arrangements of this kind were made by " Ewan Christian, Deemster," and others, with Edward Rigby, commissioner
34: We know this from the Records (Lib. Scacc.), and Lord Strange remarked that they were " ill chosen," and had " merry times and bad reckonings." Derby (Manx Soc., vol. iii. pp 41, 43.)
. 35: Ibid., vol. iii. p. 47.
36: Appendix C.
37: We shall refer to these more particularly later.
38: Statutes, vol. i. p. 100.
39: Ibid., vol. i. p.100. (See Appendix D.)
40: Ibid., vol. i. p. 101.
41: Ibid., vol. i. p. 104.
42: Manx Law Tenures, p. 8.
43: Appendix C.
44: The amount (£2,869) paid by them in fines is sufficient evidence of this. The abbey tenants did not take these leases till 1666, when they were practically forced to do so (Statutes,>vol. i. p. 163)
45: Manx Law Tenures, pp. 8-9.
46: Mills (Statutes, pp. 505-6).
47: This Act is only given by Mills, not by Gill. It is signed by "John Greenhalghe, Will Christian, John Christian, Robt. Calcote " (members of the Council) and nineteen " Keys."
48: A notable case was that of Richard Stevenson, whose estates of Balladoole, Scarlett, and the Calf Island were, in 1654, granted to him by the Countess of Derby " to hould to him, his heirs and assigns according to ancient custom and holding by tenant right in this Isle called ' the tenure of the straw' for ever " (Lib. Scacc.).
49: The following is a specimen of these:-
" Anno 1660. At Castletown. Compositon as made the viiith of March 1660
Whether that was not in lease before antiently 19th July 1659.
Received this the said day and yeare
John Quayle for iiijs rent parcell of the quarter of Ballaknickle to hould by tenor of straw payd now for the consideracon
ijs to be paid at Michaelmas next .
Received this ijs fyne from John Quayle "
(Loose Papers. Rolls Office).
50 Manx Law Tenures, p. 10.
51: Lib. Scacc. He claimed £60.
52: Ibid. In making their report the Keys quoted a promise of the late earl alleged to have been as follows: " That at his Departure out of the Isle when his Honor was restored to his own that the said Lace should have his Lands again."
54: Lib. Scacc.
55: The Laces, however, still contested the question, and it was finally compromised in 1728 by a deed of release from Stephen Lace to the trustees of Bishop Barrow's Fund for the consideration money of £161 15s.
56: See pp. 923-4. Pp. 428-32.
57: Some few of these were cultivated by the lord, but many went out of cultivation altogether.
58: Statutes, vol. i. p. 135. (Repealed by Act of Settlement.) There are numerous entries in the Records at this time of licences to alienate, and of conveyances rendered void by not having been confirmed by the lord. The tenants had to pay for these licences.
59: In the words of the song:-
" Tra harrish Sostyn,
Va Ree Jamys reill,
Kiare as feed ayns charraneyn
Hie gys Lunnin ny whail."
" When over England,
King James did rule,
The 24 in carranes
Went to London to meet him."
60: Lib. Scacc.
61: Lib. Irrot. The commissioners were Roger Kenyon, William Sacheverell, John Rowe, and Richard Stevenson.
62: Lib. Scacc,
63: Ibid. He admitted " the great loss and uncertaintie there had been in having " things left so long under uncertain ties."
64: There being disputes about the rights of ownership to some farms, the earl took them into his own hands, but declared that he would make compensation to the rightful owners when the disputes were settled.
65: Lab. Scacc.
66: Ewan Christian of Milntown, Ewan Christian of Lewaigue, and John Stevenson of Balladoole.
67: Statutes, vol. i. p. 162. The preamble of this Act recites the reasons for it as follows: " Whereas severall Disputes, Questions, and Differences have heretofore arisen and been contested between the Lords of the said Isle and their Tennants touching their Estates, Tenures, Fines, Rents, Suites, and Services, to the great Prejudice of the Lords, and Impoverishment of the Tennants and people there, who by that Means have been discouraged from making such Improvements as their Estates were and are capable of; for the absolute and perpetual ascertaining whereof, and the avoiding all Ambiguitys, Doubts, and Questions that may or might at any Time hereafter arise or grow touching or concerning the same, Proposals were made unto the said James Earl of Derby, now Lord of the said Isle " (Statutes, vol. i. p. 161).
68: Statutes, vol. i. p. 162.
69: Ibid., p. 163.
70: No formal commutation for these customary payments in kind has ever been made, and some of the tenants in the Lezayre abbey lands still pay in kind. These payments do not now exist in the lord's lands.
71: Statutes, vol. i. p. 172. For explanation of carriages, see under Boon services, Book II. chap. iv. ~ 3.
72: statutes, vol. i. p. 173.
73: For the attempts of the fourth Duke of Atholl to upset part of this Act, see Book IV. chap. i. pp. 531-4.
74: See Appendix E. 75: Manx Land Tenures, pp. 11-12.
76:After the passing of the " Act of Settlement," which repealed the portions of the Acts of 1645 and 1673 referring to alienation, it was, according to Deemster Sherwood, doubtful whether or not the tenant had an uncontrollable power of alienation. In 1746, it was decided by Deemster Mylrea that the Lord's confirmation was necessary to render alienations valid, and the precepts for holding the Baron or Manorial courts, till recently, contained notices affirming this, though there appears to be no instance since 1704 of an alienation having been made void for want of confirmation. One of the claims set up by the Duke of Atholl in 1780 and 1791 (he contended that the Manx tenures were base and that no one could alienate without a licence from the lord) was to this supposed right of confirmation, and it was not till 1844 that it was finally settled by a decision of the Privy Council that under the " Act of Settlement," tenants were entitled to alienate their lands without confirmation by the lord (Mann Law Tenures, pp. 32-5). In the Bishop's barony there are no alienation fines, but there is one payable on the installation of each bishop, consisting of an ox or colt from each quarter-land.
77: The only one of these burdens now remaining which is of any consequence is the liability of the owners of each quarter. land to serve in rotation as moars The duty of the moor, or his deputy, is to collect the rents and fines of the lord's lands in his parish, and, if he fail to do so, his estate is liable to the lord for them. The abbey and barony tenants, except those of the bishop's barony, are also liable to a similar office, called " serjeantship." The bishop appoints his own serjeant. The moors and serjeants are sworn in at the baron courts. If a quarterland is divided between several owners, the largest owner is usually selected as moor, or serjeant. He is, how. ever, entitled to receive a contribution from the other owners in proportion to the lord's or abbey rent of their holdings, and, in ease of his failure to carry out the duties of his office, the quarter-land is liable to the lord for the amount of the rents and fines.
78: Ibid., p. 12.
79: i.e., the lord's tenants. We will, in future, call them land owners.
80: In 1577, the rent for taking turf from the lord's " Forest " was ½d. per annum; and for grazing stallions or bulls l½d. each was paid during the same period. Besides this, a fee of ½d. once in seven years (!) was due to the keepers of the gates on the roads leading to the mountains (Statutes, vol. i. pp. 49-50).
81: William Kewley and 43 others (Lib. Scacc.).
82: It appears from the evidence which was given that some provisions which were being taken to the governor and his party were stopped, and that "a mob with long sticks and staves" threatened the governor, though he was accompanied by a number of soldiers (Ibid.).
83: I.e., the nominal tenants.
84: Lib. Scacc.
85: Notwithstanding the agreement, this was again a cause of complaint in 1723.
86: Lab. Scacc., 1723.
87: Upon this the whole of the customary tenants of the Island, including the customary tenants of the Abbey Lands and of the baronies of St. Trinians and Bangor and Sabal (the interests of the mesne lords of which had long previously fallen into the hands of the Crown) but excepting the Bishop's Baronies and the Maughold Barony Lands [formerly belonging to St. Bees, but laterly to the Christian family], became immediate tenants of the Crown and so continue to the present time The Bishop and the proprietors of the Maughold Barony Lands are therefore the only remaining representatives of the few Ancient Freeholders or Barons of the Island " (Manx LawTenures, pp. 25).
88: The only exception to this was in 1879, when the Crown contested the right of the customary freeholders to the sand and clay underlying their estates, but these were firmly established by the decision in the Ballaharra clay case. (For full report see " Attorney-General for the Isle of Man v. Mylchreest " in Law Reports. " Appeal Cases," vol. iv. pp. 29~310.)
89: Statutes, vol. i. pp. 275-6.
90: Ibid., p. 306. Servants' wages were placed on the same level. We may note that, in 1869, all real property was made liable to debts; previously to this, quarter lands " having passed one descent" were not liable (Statutes, vol. iii. pp. 471-3), and that, in 1871, all Acts passed authorising the taking of lands for public purposes were consolidated in the "Lands Clauses Act" (Statutes, vol. iii. pp. 51~50).
91: See note 97, p.900. The fact of the Great Enquest, which the people considered as the guardian of their interests in these matters, not being in existence between 1777 and 1793, caused more than ordinary dissatisfaction with these enclosures.
92: Parl. Papers (1859), Return to House of Commons, p. 8
93: The decision of the " Disafforesting Commissioners " was adverse to the view that the Great Enquest had any right of approval. But this decision is contrary to the opinion of Deemster Parr and Manx lawyers generally.
94: In this respect the contention of the Crown appears to have been correct, since, according to Deemster Sherwood, the customary method of obtaining an " Intack " was to apply to the governor " who granted a licence authorising the applicant to enclose the parcel named in the licence, provided that the Great Enquest of the Sheading in which the land lay should first view the same, and in their return certify the quantity and boundaries of it and also reserve the public highways, watercourses, and turbaries. The licence contained a condition that within a certain time the applicant should cause a rent to be settled thereon, otherwise the licence to be void. Many licences also contained a condition that the premises should be enclosed within a certain time. The applicant, after obtaining this licence, issued the necessary summons for convening the Great Enquest, who on view of the premises made their return certifying the quantity, and reserving all such roads, watercourses and turbaries as they conceded necessary for the public interest. This being completed, the party attended at the Court Baron and presented his licence and return, whereupon an annual quit-rent was set upon the land by the Attorney-General or the Lord's Officer, an entry was made upon the roll admitting the party as tenant to the Lord of the land in question, and charging him with the rent, which afterwards formed a portion of the regular rental of the Parish; and an alienation fine was also fixed on the land in terms of the 7th clause of the Act of Settlement. Under this entry the party became entitled as against the Lord to a customary estate in fee simple in the lands." (Manx Law Tenures, pp. 21-2.) The deemster (Ibid., p. 21) says that the power of the governor to grant licences to enclose was derived from the Statute of 1418, § 3, but this law seems rather obscure and, in any case, it was repeated [repealed ?] in 1737 (Statutes, vol. i. pp. 4-5).
95: They had sent a deputation of two of their members, George William Dumbell and William Farrant, to interview the commissioners in London, and they succeeded in obtaining more favourable conditions for the Manx landowners.
96: " The Isle of Man Disafforesting Act, 1860," and the " Compensation Act," 1864. (See Statutes, vol. iii. pp. 78-90 and 105-109.)
97: A map made for the Duke of Atholl in 1827 put the acreage of the forest at: Northern mountains, 19,601 acres; Southern, 8,320 acres; Ayre lands, 1,190 acres; The Mooragh, 33 acres. Total, 29,144 acres. From this the intacks claimed " within the old Forest Wall," amounting to 3,445 acres, were deducted, leaving 25,699 acres. Of this 8,573 acres were sold to pay the expense of forming mountain roads, realising rather more than £25,000, the remainder being divided equally between the landowners and the Crown. The amount of compensation paid was £1,823 9s. 8d. to 69 persons.
98: They must have an annual estate of £100 and go out of office each year.
99: Statutes, vol. iii. pp. 335-353.