[From Manx Annals,1901/2]




As for crime, the most frequent was theft — robbing of hen-roosts mostly, though sheep stealing was not far behind. In January, 1814, Messrs. Richard Jackson, Thomas Howard, Robert McGuffoy, William Kelly, Thomas Pyrke, and Thomas Clucas; all of the neighbourhood of the Union Mills, had their hen houses robbed, and, in consequence, offered five guineas reward for information — but, I believe, with no result. Forgery of tradesmen's tokens was frequent, and crimes of violence were not unknown.

In the night of March the 3rd, 1815, John Cassidy, private in the Royal Veterans, then stationed in the Isle of Man, was found at the door of the hospital in Castletown insensible from the effects of broken bones and other wounds. He died next day without recovering consciousness. Having no clue as to who the murderer was, the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates of the battalion offered a reward one day's pay — £21 10s — and published same up to about the middle of June, when the troops had to leave the Island — but the reward brought no result.

In October, 1816, a cottage near Ramsey was entered by some person unknown, and the inmates — an old man and sister — inhumanly maltreated. About the same time and place, an old man, Samuel Quayle, whilst going along the road was violently attacked and robbed by two unknown persons. In December, same year, Paul Bridson's counting house on the Parade, Douglas, was broken into and some silver stolen. In 1811 a man named Robert M'Doyne was so violently assaulted that he died soon afterwards. The gang of five men who attacked him were clapped into Castle Rushen, Three months afterwards two of these, including a ringleader, along with Johnson [Robert Johnson], a forger, and three others, escaped, got on board a fishing yawl at Poolvash, and rowed off towards the Welsh coast. The other three of the gang were, at general gaol in. January, 1820, sentenced to six months hard, and to pay a fine of £10. This light sentence was in consideration of the prisoners having refused to escape when the others did, and having been already imprisoned nine months,.

At the same Court which sentenced Johnson three prisoners (one an old offender, Miller) to save their skins begged, and got, transportation "to some place beyond the seas not within His Majesty's dominions." Miller, in 1811, got a hundred lashes in Douglas Market-place for stealing a pocket book, and, therefore, dreaded another dose.

The sentences passed upon criminals would cause a great outcry if put into practice nowadays: In February, 1812, a waterman of Douglas was found guilty of stealing a quantity of potatoes. Deemster Crellin sentenced him to be whipped in every market town in the Island on market day. In January, 1814, at General Gaol Delivery, a man was sentenced to be hanged for sheep stealing, but this was afterwards commuted for imprisonment; and at the same court a woman, for stealing poultry, was sentenced to be publicly whipped in Peel Market-place, which reward she duty received on Thursday, 7th February: I remember an old lady (now dead over 35 years) telling that she saw this sentence being carried out in a perfunctory manner, the whipper laying the strokes as lightly as possible, on the culprit's naked shoulders: Possibly the criminal had a hand in the Marown thefts. In July, same year, a woman, for obtaining goods under false pretences, was ordered a month's imprisonment, and to be put in the stocks for two hours each Saturday during that time in Ramsey. In September, 1813, two women — one known as "Stick-in-the-mud" — were whipped in Douglas Market-place for stealing. In April, 1816, a young lad, convicted for a petty larceny, was sentenced to three months' solitary imprisonment in a dungeon in Castle Rushen, and at the end of that time to be a severely whipped in Ramsey Market-place. At the same court a man, found guilty of sheep-stealing, was sentenced to be hanged. The prisoner was given to understand that he had no hope for a reprieve ; however, the Prince Regent would not sanction the hanging, so it was changed to transportation for life. In January,1820, a youth was charged with breaking into Robert Grant's hotel; at Peel, and stealing a one pound note and a pair of shoes, he got transportation beyond the seas [this was probably Thomas Teare, aged 10 transported to New South Wales]. At the same court a man and woman, for stealing clothes out a-drying, got fourteen years, whilst another man, for throwing a stone and causing the death of Daniel Cowell of Bride, got three months only and a fine of ten pounds. About the end of February, 1818, a man [Robert Kewley] stole a sheep from John Quiggin, of Ballayieree, and afterwards disposed of the animal for five shillings, On the 22nd April he was sentenced to be hanged. — And hanged the poor fellow was on the 5th of June — all for purloining a miserable sheep.

This was the first hanging in the Isle of Man since about 1780. When it was found them was no getting out of the sentence, the sensation throughout the Island grow more intense as the day drew near. Sermons were preached and prayers were offered in nearly all the churches and chapels in Manxland. It is no use harrowing the feelings of the reader with a description of the hanging, save that the condemmed shook and kissed the hand of the hangman. "After exhorting all around him to take warning of his untimely end, he was launched into eternity " (local Press of the time). The hangman who actd on the occasion was a Manxman [Quilliam] who had long been a prisoner in the Castle, and as a reward for his service was liberated.

Before a death sentence was passed by the judge it was the ancient custom for the clergy-men pressent to go out of the court room that they may not hear it pronounced. in July, 1820, a man [Richard Humphrey Templeton] was tried for gross immorality. The jury in this case were not many minutes coming to a decision, and on returning were asked by the judge, " Y'od fir charee soie?" (may the men of the chancel continue to sit ?), and upon the foreman answering, " Cha vod" (they may not), which is equal to guilty, the clergymen who were present left the court, Sentence of death was then passed, which, in the next month, was changed to transportation for life,

Smuggling, to and from the Isle of Man, want merrily on throughout the greater part of the eighteenth century, but by the nineteenth it had dwindled so that almost the only smuggling done was by the regular traders (sloops); merely a few pounds or pints of dutiable goods; transactions which the officers winked at. In the second decade the revenue-officers became more active. In June, 1811, the smack General Bucher, of Douglas, was sezied for having fouteen jars of brandy and Geneva concealed on board. The mate and one of the crew were sent to Castle Rushen, In Septemberr, same year, the smack Mary, of Peel, was seized in Peel Bay by the revenue cutter Lynx for having a quantity of salt on board contrary to the statutes. At that period salt paid duty in England, but a certain quantity was allowed to be sent to the Isle; of Man free on condition that it should be used for the sole purpose of curing herrings. Shippers took advantage of this by carrying salt to the Island and then shipping it back to England as duty paid. On this occasion the Mary was brought round into Douglas harbour and the cargo sequestrated,

Iu June, 1818, a herring boat was seized in Douglas Bay for having three pounds of tea on board ; the crew were sent to Castle Rushen. Open or half-decked boats were at that time not allowed to have as much as one pound of tea on board, In William the Fourth's time this was altered, and the crew of an open boat could then have as ship's stores one pound of tea, and decked boat as much as two pounds. In April, 1819, the smack Ann, of Peel, was seized by the excise boat at Whitehaven for having some contraband tea, and in the May following, the sloop Jenny and Peggy, of Peel, was in the same predicament at Maryport — a quantity of tea having been found on board. In the same month the smack Earl St, Vincent (Killip, master) was examined in Ramsey harbour, when a lot of rum and spirits were found ; the crew of three were lodged in Castle Rushen.

"'On Christmas-day, 1818, a smuggling-wharry laden with tobacco ran ashore at Kirk Michael. A custom house officer from Peel took possession of her, whereupon the crew immediately fled.

In 1822 there was a most unusual case tried, which ended with an extraordinary verdict; the names are withheld [see IoMFHS vol 11 #2 p64 - names are Kelly, Fayle and Quiggin] .

At Castletown, March 23 Jane K_ of Braddan was sued for bigamy having maried Thos F_ whilst her first husband John K_ was alive During the examination the following certificates were handed in : — John K of Braddan, bachelor ; and Jane Q_ of Michael, married 31st January 1806, (both signed with a mark)." Thos. F_ and Jane K_, both of Braddan, married 16th October, 1821, (he signed name, but she made her mark)," "Thos. F_ son of Thos. F_ and Ann K_, baptised, 30th March, 1800, at Braddan.

The first husband, John K_, was in Castle Rushen in 1819,charged with felony, He escaped and fled the Island. when his wife married F_, the latter told her he was 25 years of age. She had been living with her mother six years previously, separate from her first husband. Several witnesses stated that K_ was seen a few months before the trial in Whitehaven.

The jury returned, to the utter amazement and astonishment of every person present, "not guilty" The Attorney-General (prosecutor) said he never heard such a verdict given. The Deemster lectured the women, saying, "Jane K_, or whatever your name is," &c., and told her to mend her ways, give up living with F_ and go and seek K_

At the same court three prisoners were tried for stealing from Martha Scarff in Douglas, The jury returned not guilty. The Deemster wanted an explanation, when the foremen. said they acquitted, the prisoners as the evidence produced.by the Crown did not agree with the record. However, the prisoners were tried a few days afterwards and two of them get fourteen years transportation.

Besides these there were several others tried for robbery; one for robbing Mr R. Corlett of five shillings. Mr Corlett in his evidence said he had four glasses of spirits and a pint of wine at Ramsey — "If I had twenty glasses it would not have made me very tipsy." The Deemster: "Oh Mr Corlett, for shame." Three others, for robbing the brig Maria at Castletown, were fined ten pounds and to be imprisoned in Castle Rushen three months, and further till the fine was paid. The Duke of Athol said the jurors — except one who had been fined three pounds for drunkenness — gave him satisfaction.

[For more details see Hampton Creer Never to Return Douglas: Manx National Heritage 2000 (ISBN 0-952-4019-7-5]


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