The Journals of the Self-Elected House of Keys.

By A. W. Moore, Speaker.


The Journals of the House of Keys prior to 1867 are contained in five volumes. The first two extend from 1762 to 1853, there being a blank between 1826 and 1843. The third volume begins on the 22nd of March, 1854, and ends on the 18th of August, 1860; the fourth begins on the 12th of March, 1861, and ends on the 12th of June, 1865; and the fifth begins on the 5th of Jury, 1865, and ends on the 19th of March, 1867, with the proclamation dissolving the House(a). The first two volumes are of large folio size; one of them contains the legislative and the other the judicial work of the House. The last three volumes are small folios, and contain both the legislative and judicial business. The earliest entry is connected with the acquisition of the Keys’ chamber, to which we will refer later. Then follows a copy of the Standing Orders, under the heading : "Memorials of the several rules, orders, and customes which are to be observed as orders. of the House". The first 22 of these orders were "consented to and agreed upon by the. 24 Keys" on the 28th of July, 1737, but the copy we have of them dates from 1762. When this Journal was sent to be re-bound, in 1899, the loose sheet containing the first twelve of these orders was lost. Ten of them were similar to orders in force at the present day; the remaining two, which follow, were copied by the writer before the book was sent to the binder : —

It is agreed upon for an order that whosoever hisseth or disturbeth any man in his speech shall answer it before the House.

It is further agreed for an order that adjourning the House no man should stir till Mr. Speaker do arise and go " before, and then all the rest follow him."

13.—" That upon days of meeting for " public business there shall be a Standing Porter nominated by the House and that he shall receive for his trouble the sum of 14d(b). day during the time he shall be continued in that service."

14.—" It is agreed for a rule that the oath administered to the six Keys shall be publickly read in the House once every time they meet to dispatch the business of the country and the rules now agreed to."

15.—" It is likewise agreed that no member of the 24 Keys shall be an Attorney or Solicitor in any common law case cognizable before the said Keys, except in his own cause, when he shall be heard to inform the House and then withdraw. And if any member shall be found to transgress herein, to be fined in any sum not exceeding three pound, and to be declared incapable of sitting as judge in that cause."

16.—" If any member of the Keys, during the time they are upon business, shall so far intoxicate himself with liquor " as to incapacitate him from giving his vote judiciously, that then and in that case, by the opinion or vote of the majority of the House, such member is to be fined in any sum, not exceeding " five shillings."

17.—" It is declared as the constant. order of the House that no member of the Keys shall absent himself without leave of the Speaker, and shall return afterwards within a time to be by him limited under a penalty to be inflicted by the House."

18.—" That. if any member be guilty of offensive words, or misbehaviour containing matter of reproach against any particular member of the Keys, derogatory to the general authority and " power of the House, such person so of fending is to withdraw until he is called "upon to receive the judgment of the House, to be pronounced by the Speaker."

19.—" That all adjournments, postponing of causes and presentments be signed by the Speaker only, as hath been the antient Rule and Order of the House."

20.—" If any matter moved do receive a " debate pro and contra, and after some time spent in the debate, the Speaker collecting the sense of the House upon the debate, is to reduce the same into a question which he is to propound, to the end the House afterwards in their " debate may be kept to the matter of that " question, if the same be approved by the House to contain the substance of " the former debate, and after such question is propounded, any member may offer his reasons against the question in whole or in part, which may be laid aside by a general consent of the House without a question put, and till the business in agitation be ended no new motion of " any new matter shall be made without leave of the House."

21.—" That all fines levied for breach of these rules shall be collected for the use " of the House, and the money thereby arising to be always laid out for the benefit of the Keys, in such manner as the majority of them shall agree to, but in any case any member shall refuse to " pay any fine so affixed, the Speaker, with the consent of the majority of the House, " is to apply to the Governor for a token to confine that person till the fine is paid."

22.—" And for the well governing the Keys and their successors it is agreed on that if further Rules or Orders shall at " any time hereafter be adjudged necessary or convenient or that any of the aforesaid Rules or Orders should be found superfluous that a motion shall be made by any member to the Speaker, who’ shall lay the same before the House, and the majority of the 24 Keys to make such further Rules or Orders. as shall be suit-" able for the good of the Body ; which " Rules or Orders shall be ever binding on the Keys or their successors until some further Rule or Order is agreed on to the contrary." (Then followed the signature of George Moore, Speaker, and 19 members.)

Then, on the 20th of July, 1770, we find the following : —

23.—" Resolved that the Keys will not for the’ future sign or pass any law ordinance or any other Act or Acts whatsoever which they have not previously had an opportunity of debating upon separate from the rest. of the Legislative Body."

24.—" Resolved that when ever any such law, ordinance, or other Act is prepared by any person or persons whatsoever the Speaker for the time being " shall (ex officio without any other or further directions from the Keys) " acquaint the proposer or proposers of such law or ordinance that such method " of procedure is contrary to the Rules of cc the House of Keys and subversive of the right of free debate which that House ought to enjoy, and shall desire to have an opportunity of debating with the rest of the Keys separate and apart from the Governor Council and Deemsters upon the matter proposed."

In 1780 the first Standing Order, which related to the hour of meeting, was altered so as to make the hours from ten to four instead of from eleven to five, Standing Order 21 was expunged, and a fine of 5s was imposed for absence " without lawful cause approved of by the House."

In 1783 the following order was passed : —" Resolved that before any motion is made in this House for leave to bring " in a Bill to he passed into a. Law notice shall be given to the House at least twenty-four hours before such motion be made so the House may thereupon be prepared to consider the principle of the motion."

In 1793 an Order was carried that the time of the conclusion of the meetings of the House was to be " according to the circumstances of the business " instead of at a. fixed hour.

In 1816 a Committee on the Standing Orders recommended That the said rules should be inserted in a book to’ be kept for the express purpose as well as in the Journals of the House, in order that any member may have an opportunity of looking them over, which would be the means of preventing the Journals from being so much torn and defaced." (This book is not in existence now.)

The. Keys’ oath of allegiance, as administered in 1765, ran as follows : —

" I, A.B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George—So " Help me God."

I, A .B . , do swear that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and abjure as impious and heretical that Damnable Doctrine and position that Prince’s excommunicated or deprived by the Pope or any Authority of the See of Rome may be deposed or murdered by their Subjects or any other whatsoever. And I do declare that I do not believe that the Pope of Rome or any other " Foreign Prince Person Prelate State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power Superiority Pre-eminence. or Authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm. So. Help. me God." " I, A.B., do truly and sincerely acknowledge Profess Testify and Declare before God and the World that our Sovereign Lord King George is lawful and rightful King of this Realm and all other his Majesty’s Dominions and countries thereto belonging. And I do solemnly and sincerely declare that I do believe in my con- science that the person pretended to be Prince of Wales during the life of the. late King James and since his decease pretending to be and taking upon himself the stile and title of King of England by the name of James the Third of Scotland, by the name of James the Eighth or the stile and title of King of Great Britain, hath not any Right or Title whatsoever to the Crown of this Realm or any other the dominions thereto belonging. And I do renounce refuse and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him. And I do’ swear that I will bear Faith and true allegiance to His Majesty King George and him, will defend to the utmost of my power against all traitorous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever which shall be made against his Person, Crown or Dignity ; and I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to his. Majesty and his Successors all Treasons and Traiterous Conspiracies which J shall know to be against him or any of them. And I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my power to support maintain and defend the succession of the Crown against him the said James and all other persons whatsoever which succession by an Act intituled ‘ An Act for the further ‘ Limitation of the Crown and better securing of the Rights and Liberties of the Subject," is and stands limited to the Princess Sophia Electoress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover and the Heirs of her Body being Protestants. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear according to these express words by me spoken and according to the plain and commonsence of the same words without any equivocation mental evasion or secret reservation whatsoever. And I do make this recognition acknowledgement abjuration renunciation and promise heartily willingly and truly upon the true Faith of a Christian. So help me God." I, A.B., do declare that I do believe that there is not any Transubstantiation in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or in the Elements of Bread and Wine at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatever."

At the accession of Queen Victoria the following form of oath was substituted : —

" I, A.B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and will defend her to the utmost of my power against all conspiracies and attempts what-" ever which shall be made against her per and crown or dignity, and I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to Her Majesty Her Heirs and Successors all treasons and traitrous conspiracies which may be formed against Her or them. And I do faithfully promise to main tam support and defend to the utmost of my power the succession of the Crown which succession by an Act intituled "An Act for the further limitation of the Crown " and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject is and stands limited to the " Princess Sophia Electress of Hanover and the Heirs of her body being Protestants hereby renouncing and abjuring any obedience or allegiance to any other person claiming or pretending a right to the Crown of this Realm. And I do further declare that it is not an article of my faith and that I do renounce reject and abjure the opinion that princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope or any other authority of the See of Rome may be deposed or murdered by their subjects or by any person whatsoever (c). And I do de dare that I do not believe that the Pope of Rome or any other foreign prince’ prelate person state or potentate hath or ought to have any temporal or civil jurisdiction power superiority or pre-erninence directly or indirectly within this Realm. I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of Property within this Realm as established by the Law and I do hereby disclaim disavow and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by Law within this Realm. And I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in the United Kingdom. And I do solemnly ill the presence of God profess testify and declare that I do snake this declaration and every part thereof in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath without any evasion equivocation or mental reservation whatever. So help me

Such was the oath taken up to the dissolution of the self-elected House. For the sake of comparison we give here the oaths taken by the Keys at the present day :

(1) The oath of Alegiance : ‘ I , do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Edward the VIIth. So help me God."

(2) Special Oath : " His Majesty’s counsel, your fellows’ and your own you shall not reveal. You shall use your best endeavour to maintain the ancient laws and customs of this Isle. You shall justly and truly deliver your opinion and do right in all matters which shall be put unto you, with- out favour or affection, affinity, or consanguinity, love or fear, reward or gain, or for any hope thereof ; but in all things you shal deal uprightly and justly, and do wrong to no man. So help you God and by the contents of this Book."

The further contents of the Journals will be referred to under the following headings : —

Constitutional Questions—(a) General;

(b) In dispute between the Keys and the Fourth Duke of Athol.

Procedure, Legislation, etc.

Trade, Agriculture, Fishing, Smuggling, Customs Duties, etc.

The House and its Members.




(a) The last sitting of the House of Keys was on the 14th of August, 1866 ; but meetings of the Tynwald Court are recorded as late as the 22nd of February, 1867.

(b) Raised to 1s 9d in 1780

(c) The portions underlined were done away about 1850


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999