[From Manx Annals,1901/2]
An earlier page of the "annals" tells how tradesmen and others were imposed upon by means of forged tokens and notes. The existence of these notes, &c., was partly through. the laxity of the Duke of , Athol not coining money for Manx circulation.
True, the Manx had a copper coinage of their own, though English copper circulated freely, whilst Manx coins were not greatly objected to in Liverpool and a till less in Whitehaven, owing to the large trade connection , these ports with the Isle of Man. But whereas twelve English pennies were equal to a shilling whilst it took fourteen Manx pennies to make a like sum, passengers between Manx and English ports were in the habit of taking Manx copper away to have it changed for English silver, till at length copper coins got almost a scarce as silver, In such sore straits were tradesmen that they would put up with any kind of coins. Indeed, it in asserted that, as late as in the 'thirties "a barrelful of base and unpassable coppers were shipped to the Isle of Man for circulation in the Island !" Though the Isle of Man was almost denuded of its copper, Whitehaven got overstocked. A newspaper of that town in March, 1816, stated that at a meeting of tradesmen there it was unanimously resolved not to take any more Manx or Irish coppers.
About 1814 the Duke of Athol proposed having silver coinage made for Manx use solely, but the proposal came to nothing
But to return to tokens and their counterfeits. To such a pitch did the use and abuse of paper money get to that the Manx inhabitants became greatly alarmed as to the consequences of such a rotten, state of affairs. In August, 1815, Thomas Gawne, then High-Bailiff of Douglas published the following warning:
"The inhabitants of the Island are requested to examine particularly the different notes they may receive, as several forgeries are now in circulation ; and I have positive information of there being several forgeries on different card-issuing banks imported from Birmingham now ready for circulation."
This warning was the result of a meeting of the principal merchants, &c., in Douglas at the " Liverpool Coffee House," when " measures were adopted for the prevention of the inconvenience and loss attendant ,on the (then) present mode of issuing card noted in the Island"
At the meeting it was resolved that "the present circulation of Insular notes (particularly card notes) has increased to an alarming degree, and is very inconvenient to the honest trader; unsafe to the public at large, and demands some immediate check to the progress of this growing evil. Resolved that no insular card notes (except those of the Isle of Man Bank) shall be received by any of us in payment, unless the drawers of such notes will appoint agents to keep regular hours for changing each notes. Resolved that T. H. Lesson, J. Quayle, Alex Cornack Thos. Cubbin, and John Clark be appointed a committee to meet every Monday at Henry Roberts (H.R. kept the Coffee House) to receive complaints against the drawers."
The subscribers to the above resolutions were: Wm. Banks; John Quayle, Thomas Corlett, Thos. H. Leeson, John Clark, Godfrey Tate, John Sawrey, Francis Goodair, Alexander Cornack, Robert Hastings, Matthew Harrison, Jas. Radcliffe George Wilson, Thos, Gelling, Thos. Cubbon, Samuel Harris., Wm. Green, Geo. Jefferson, Jas. Shaw, Jane Kerr, Lawrence and Hartley, John Curry, Wm. Harrison, Kerr and Lewin, These I have no doubt, were some of the principal tradespeople in Douglas at the time.
Petitions from all parts of the Island poured in to the Governor and other, officials. At length, in November, a meeting of the Lieut. Governor and Council took place in Castle Rushen for the purpose of taking into consideration measures either for regulating or suppressing the usage of small notes and it was resolved that a Tynwald Court be held in December for considering such, but it all came to nothing.
In April, following, as open loiter to the legislature was published. It stated the caw" of the depletion of specie in the Island. During the war, grain was high and rents went up; with peace prices came down and farmers were in great distress. Then there was the herring fishing, in which £70,000 were invested, and which, in some years brought £100,000; but in 1815 the fishing was very unproductive. Then there was an Act passed to 1814 preventing the Island from being a refuge for outside debtors. The letter goes on to say," from 1798 the Island has been an Asylum for debtors from every part of the Globe; and upon a moderate calculation, it has been computed that this description of persons expended from £30,000 to £40,000 a year here, but at the suggestion and instance of the Government, the advantages the Island derived from this source were done away with by this Act of 1814 and though the Island is very considerably improved by speculation in buildings for the accommodation of these strangers, the speculators must be ruined if things continue in their present state; many houses being without tenants, and many let for half the rent they formerly produced ; the Act had the effect of sending many people out of the Island, and of preventing many others from coming in. The reduction of the Fencibles, which brought in £90,000 a year, has been seriously felt The Island has suffered in loss occasioned by failures of banking houses in England. In paying for imports our specie is exhausted and the Island is in a moneyless state. The present medium of payment in notes and cards issued by individuals; which are not a legal tender for the taking up of which no security has been given, and the public have suffered in consequence of the death and failure of some of the issuers of paper money. The want of specie has increased executions for debt beyond all example. If a person has land no one has money to lend upon it, and the wretched debtor witnesses the sale of his property for less than half its value,"
The writer of the above advocated the creation of an "Isle of Man Loan Office " to issue tokens of different values, totalling £100,000; the forging of tokens to be punished with death or transportation for life, embezzlement by any of the clerks, to., to be punished the same way.
At length early in November, 1818 the Legislature the Inland passed a bill for abolishing and preventing the circulation of cardnotes. The following were the enactments :
1st "That the real property, whether purchased or acquired, of all persons who have issued or shall hereafter issue notes, cards, or bills of exchange, as bankers, within this Isle shall be liable to payment of all their just debts.
2nd. " That six-months after the promulgation of the Act any persons paying or receiving cards or notes under 20s will be subject to a penalty of £50.
3rd. "That after the period aforesaid no persons are to issue notes for 20s and upwards, as, bankers, without obtaining an annual licence for that purpose, such licence to be granted by the Governor and Council at their discretion upon payment annually of £20, under a penalty of .£10 for every note so issued by them:
4th. "That such licensed bankers shall take up, and pay all notes by them issued in gold, silver, Bank of England notes, or on bills on London, not exceeding two month's date.
Heigh ho ! for the good old times when George III was king! I wonder who, nowadays, could wish for their return. ; The Isle of Man, must have been in a bad state farmers and builders ruined, bankruptcies right and left, and no money to be had any shape; ;no wonder that Quayle's Bank collapsed. Bad as the times were, that bank paid its creditors more than Dumbell's has so far. In March, 1818, Thomas Harrison, Paul Bridson, Calcott Heywood, and J.W. Jeffcott trustees for George' Quayle & Co. (the Isle of Man. Bank) announced to the creditors that they would pay 8s 4d, which with a previous dividend of 6s 8d would make 10s in the pound,'. Eventually this bank, I believe, paid everything is full.
Mention is made of English failures. In 1814 Bellair's Bank at Derby smashed and affected. more than one person in the Isle of Man. An ancestor of the Compiler.of these "Annals" had at that time a number of Bellair's notes. He with the rest of the holders were told to take care of, them, and, they would, eventuality be paid in full, , ,The notes were exhibited before the Commissioners appointed to look into Bellair's affairs, and were then returned to their respective holder ; from that day they were. of no value whatever, except as curiosities. In the writer's home there are' a few of these notes still remaining three or four for £1 each, and one for five pounds though many have been lost or given away as things of no account.
In 1819 the " Manks Advertiser" of April 8th had the following remarkable paragraph ; " Though the period for taking Bank tokens in England expired on Monday. they continue to pass as usual in the Isle of Man, and will prove an excellent insular currency."