[From Haining's Guide, 1822]


The population of the Island, the manner in which the Inhabitants are employed, and the various improvements which are carrying on.

ALTHOUGH the number of inhabitants have trebled within a century, yet various circumstances justify the conclusion, that they were still more numerous during the period when the Norwegians were in possession of the Island. They were able successfully to engage in combat with the armies of the surrounding kingdoms, their fleets rode triumphant in these seas, their friendship was courted, and their opposition was. dreaded. But; whenever they were vanquished by the Scotch and English, and were granted as vassals to reward some court favourite for his sycophancy, their independence was destroyed, their enterprising spirit vanished; and they gradually diminished in numbers: Deprived of their political rights as members of the civil community, their intellectual improvement was neglected, and their temporal accommodation was daily declining. The representations given of their miserable condition under the iron grasp of the Stanleys are deeply affecting, and their state had become so wretched that they were indifferent about themselves, and could only be of very little benefit to their Governors. The interests of rulers and the governed are inseparably connected; and it is a mistaken policy that leads those in power to imagine, that their authority is established by domineering over those who are placed in subjection to them, or that the happiness of. the people should be increased by a turbulent disposition, leading them to oppose those who are entrusted with the administration of the laws, enacted for the common benefit of the members of the community. The history of the nations of the world, is a sufficient confirmation of this opinion, and the astonishing changes which have taken place in the kingdoms of Europe within the last thirty years, place it beyond the possibility of a doubt. The period in the thanks history, to which reference has been made, is conclusive; the people were disheartened, the ardor of genius was damped, the cultivation of the mind was neglected, their temporal comforts were diminished, and the natural appearance of the country had a barren aspect. It was not until they had succeeded in obtaining the Act of Settlement, that their condition was ameliorated, and proofs were given of their progressive improvement.

Various causes retarded their advancement as a people ; the prospect of great gain was, a temptation to smuggling, which is destructive to the moral and temporal welfare of any nation ; the want of encouragement to trade, and the men being engaged in the fishing, when they ought to have been employed in the cultivation of their land, which is capable of great improvement, and abundantly recompenses the expence and, toil of the husbandman.,

Hollinshed, who wrote in the year 1554, says " there, were formerly thirteen- hundred. families in this Island, but now scarcely half that number. In the year 1667, the. island contained 2541 men, between the ages of sixteen and. sixty years."

The following statement shews the rapid, increase of the population since 1726, when there were-14,027. The number of inhabitants returned by the. Clergy in answer to the Bishop of Man's twelfth Article of Visitation. in 1751;was, 19,144

The returns-made in pursuance of the requisition of Governor Smith-in 1784. were 24,9124. The inhabitants had increased in 1791, to 27,913, and the Census of the last year, which is subjoined makes the number 40,081.

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The Inhabitants are employed in agriculture, in the fishery,: and in manufacturing. Until lately agriculture has been almost totally neglected, and the practice was insufficient for the consumption of the place. The number' of statute acres in the Isle of Man and its appendages, is supposed to be about 180,000 acres, but as the Island has not been surveyed, and as its outlines are indented by bays, and the mouths of several streams falling into the sea its exact dimensions cannot be stated with precision. More than one half is arable; and for several years wheat has been exported.

A tolerably correct estimate may- be formed of the state of improvement, from the returns of the quantity of Grain in the Island, made by the different juries; last autumn, to the Governor, to enable him to judge of the propriety of taking off the embargo which had been laid upon grain.

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In addition to this quantity there were 6420 bolls of foreign: wheat in the warehouses of Douglas; which was allowed to be imported for the consumption of its inhabitants and was national advantage, considering, the greatly reduced prices at which it was sold,-; the flour made excellent bread, and the purchaser procured for his shilling 2 lb weight more than at present,: which was, an immense relief to the half famished people But owing to the unfounded fears of the farmers,. the uncalled for interference of. some odious,: self-important petitioners, and the ill judged, policy of the House of Keys, the British Parliament extended the Corn Laws to this, Island, and, deprived us of . the advantage of cheap bread. It was a must unwise policy that dictated this law, which could be. of no benefit to the farmer, and was an injury to the country; for it. is a most desirable thing to have one place in, his, Majesty's dominions to which his subjects who have limited incomes may. retire, and procure the necessaries of life on moderate terms. To enhance the price of the staff of life, was most impolitic, when all luxuries can be procured here at a low price

There are many checks to agricultural improvement, which the wisdom of, the legislature ought to counteract or endeavour to remove; for he is, the greatest friend of his country, who increases the means of subsistence at the lowest prices. The, want of capital is severely felt by the enterprising farmer, who has to find a considerable sum of money for improvements before he can look for a. profitable return, and the proprietor being mostly needy., is often times compelled to dispose of his produce in an unfavourable, market, to answer the demand of his landlord. Another disadvantage, is the mania for the fishery, which pervades All classes in the country, draining it of those who ought to, be employed in the cultivation of the land, and in reaping the fruits of the earth. It is nothing uncommon far proprietors of land to desert it, and to follow the fishery in the hope of uncertain gain, and thus agriculture is deprived of the capital, time, and labour, which ought to be devoted to it. But, probably the tithing system is the greatest hindrance to agriculture, and is not an equitable method of supporting the clergy of the established faith. Tithes in kind a tax upon industry, and the proportion paid, increases with the capital employed, the skill exerted, and the labour used for the improvement of the land. A commutation of tithes, or paying a fixed sum during the lease granted by the landlord, would, in a great measure, remove this evil; and secure the industrious farmer from the grasping hand of the covetous proctor.

The farmers here possess several advantages, which in a measure counterbalance the evils mentioned., The officious visit of the self important tax gatherer does not disturb this land, for they have nothing to pay for the support of the Government, :neither are they burdened with the poor rates; which have lately become so oppressive in England The poor are supported by voluntary contributions, and the. weekly collections, after divine service. The seasons are, in general, remarkably. mild. The heat in summer is not so oppressive, nor the cold in winter so intense, as in the neighbouring kingdoms.; the ground is seldom long covered with snow, and at is a rare occurrence for the frost to stop the labours of the plough. In our insulated situation we are exposed to heavy sea storms, and the rain sometimes in winter falls in torrents.

The soil varies considerably in the Island, sometimes in,the same farm, and, even: in the same field; the soil of the. country around Castletown is good, lying on a bed of; limestone. which furnishes; the farmer with excellent manure for the improvement of his land; and the whole northern district from Kk Michael has a sandy soil, beneath. which lies a bed of very pure common clay, called marl, by the inhabitants. It is some miles in extent, is generally not more than two or. three feet, from the surface; and is very advantageously employed to give consistency to the light-sandy soil. It requires to be renewed every eight or nine years, and the ground, properly managed, yields very abundantly. . This tract of land well improved and placed, under the management of skillful farmers, would. become the garden of the Island,: and greatly increases the means of subsistence.


The inhabitants for ages have been chiefly employed in the herring fishery-the staple commodity of the Island; have embarked the principal part of their capital in this trade, and devote that period of the year for prosecuting it, which ought to be employed in reaping the fruits of the earth. The number of boats belonging to the Isle of Man, for which the herring custom was paid and annually returned by the coroners, was, in 1781, 343, and in the year 1811, 331, which shews that the number is diminishing, although the boats of late years have greatly increased both in size and value.

The opinion generally entertained by natural historians is, that the herrings migrate annually from the north of Europe, in an immensely large body, and the shoal is divided into two parts by the Shetland Islands. One division passes along the eastern coast of England, proceeds through the British channel, and then disappears. The other moves along the western coast, meets with a "second interruption from the North of Ireland, and the part which pursues the western course is soon lost in the immensity of the Atlantic ocean, and can be traced no further; but that which enters the Irish sea, visits the Island, gives employment to the natives, and affords food for the poor.

The fishery generally begins in the month of July, but the appearance of the fish on the coast is very uncertain, both as to time and place. When caught off Peel and Port Erin, in the months of July and August, they are very fat and of a much finer flavour than when taken off Douglas bay, in September and October, which is the spawning season. Some years the fishermen receive no adequate compensation for their time and toil; and at other times large shoals of fish are on the coast, but the unsettled stormy weather prevents them from following their occupation, and enjoying the blessings of the sea.

It is estimated that the Swedes kill annually seven hundred and twenty millions, two thirds of which are used for producing oil. The Yarmouth fishery, in a good season, produces one hundred and forty millions; and the number of herrings annually cured in this country is subject to considerable variation, and the average may be about ten or twelve million. A considerable reduction of price has taken place within these few years, but it has been computed, that one hundred thousand pounds have been paid in! one season for the fish caught.

The fishermen are directed to the place to shoot their nets by the gull and the gannet. When their flight is high, the fish are deep in the water, but when low, then are they near the surface. The successful boats take in their train of nets, nearly one hundred yards long, repair to the harbour, sell the fruits of their labour, unload their cargo, and make preparation for occupying a proper station the ensuing evening.

The herring merchants have several suitable receiving houses, into which the fish are immediately carried, and where the preparation of salting- is performed without delay. The white fish are thoroughly rubbed with salt -by the women, are placed in rows in the barrel, and a layer of salt is put between them, But the mode of curing the red herrings is different : they are first regularly piled up with a layer of salt between each row, and are left in that state for some clays, then they are washed, and when the water is sufficiently (trained from them, are fixed by the mouth on small rods, and hung up in extensive houses built for the purpose, where the rods are suspended in rows, from the roof to within a few feet of the floor; beneath are kindled fires of oak wood, which are kept constantly burning till the fish are sufficiently dried and smoked, after which they are barreled :far exportation.

Very conflicting opinions are entertained respecting the advantages or disadvantages accruing to this Island from the inhabitants being engaged in the fishery. It is urged that an undue proportion of their capital is embarked in this uncertain traffic, and that those who are employed in it acquire habits of indolence and drunkenness, contract debts for their, outfit which are unpaid for years, and the consequences are litigation anti poverty. Those who conceive that it is for the benefit of the country, refer to the example of the Dutch ; to the bounty granted by the British legislature for the encouragement of the fishery, and maintain, that under proper regulations, it must greatly increase the means of subsistence, create a consumption for the produce of the land, and by giving employment to so many people, must bring considerable sums of money into circulation, which would be beneficial to every. class in the community.

In the Report of the Commissioners appointed by His Majesty,-to inquire into the state of the Island, we find that in the year 1790, there were exported, to Great Britain, 1878 barrels of white herrings, and. 2747 red to foreign. places; 125 barrels white, and 6866 barrels red herrings; but the general opinion is,- that latterly, in favourable seasons, the quantity exported is much greater.

Manufactures- have not flourished to any extent in Mona, and there are almost insuperable difficulties to be surmounted to carry them on upon an extensive scale, and from the want of encouragement, there is no probability of ever entering successfully into competition with the English, in foreign markets.

The linen manufactured in the Island has been, highly esteemed, and from time immemorial has formed an article of exportation In the year 1731, 32,201 yards were exported,. had increased. fat 1807, to 90,305, bus since that period lens been. rapidly declining. A Mill,. for spinning flax, at Laxey, was erected some years ago, but did not answer the expectations of the proprietors, nor. recompence them for their praiseworthy undertaking. The Messrs. Moores, who have long, been, engaged as linen manufacturers, have one in the neighbourhood of Douglas, having two hundred; and forty spindles, and performing the work of an, equal number of people; this labour is performed, by a few, children, placed under the management of a skilful overseer. The weaving is performed by the hand, and they manufacture sheeting, towelling, and sacking.

An attempt was made, more than twenty years ago, to establish a cotton spinning manufactory, at Ballasalla, but the plan proved abortive front the English laws prohibiting the importation from Man, into Britain, of any foreign goods, whither in their raw state, partly or wholly manufactured, either with or without native materials, hemp and flax excepted.

An enterprising individual, a native of this Island, and who justly deserves the warmest commendation of all who are concerned for the prosperity of it, has established a woollen manufactory, about two miles distant from Douglas, on the Peel road. In the execution of his laudable design, he has had numerous obstacles to surmount, arising from the envy of individuals, and the difficulty of obtaining prompt payment, so necessary for carrying on business extensively. In addition to what is manufactured for home consumption, considerable quantities have been exported lately, and it is the devout wish of every real Manksman, that this speculation may be successful, and yield an abundant recompence to him for the time devoted to this laudable undertaking, for the skill displayed, and for the capital embarked in it. All who feel interested in the prosperity of Mona, ought to foster, with parental care, these infantile attempts to manufacture from the raw material, every article of home consumption; and the man who, either directly or indirectly, throws obstacles in the way of their improvement and success, ought to be branded as an enemy to his country.

The exports are not great, consisting of Herrings, Corn, and Cattle; strong Linens, Paper, and Lead Ore; Butter, Poultry, and Eggs. The imports are Timber, Iron, and Hemp; Wines, Spirits, Teas. Sugars. Cottons, Woollen Cloths, and Coals. In the year 1810, there were 9540 Chaldrons of Coals imported into this Island. The balance of trade must be greatly against us, and this deficiency is made up by the remittances received by strangers, who, either retiring from business on a limited income, or unable to support the extravagance of English living, retire to this pleasant, yet insulated place, where they can enjoy the comforts of life, and live at a moderate expence.

It is admitted, by all who are competent judges, that the Island is considerably improved within the last fifty years; the natural face of the country wears a very different aspect, the ground is well manured, properly cultivated, and yields abundantly, to recompence the labours of the husbandman. The farms are more regularly subdivided, and the fields being sown down in a good condition, assume a fertile appearance, and will enable; the farmers to graze larger herds of cattle, and flocks of sheep; but agriculture here is only in its infancy, the lands will admit of much greater improvements, and if carried on, by skilful enterprising men, would yield so abundantly as to enable us to export large quantities to England, which might turn the balance of trade in our favour.

Another step in the scale of improvement is the beneficial change which has taken place in the plan of road making. The old system, which was radically defective, and a great barrier in the way of any useful improvement being made, has been nearly wholly abandoned, and if the Commissioners were invested with greater power, to form a new line of roads, to raise funds to finish, without delay, we might then expect to see level roads made of good material a, which would greatly facilitate ,intercourse with all parts of the Island, and prove very useful to the farming interest.

It is the general complaint; of strangers, that the Island has a barren, naked appearance, from its not being ornamented with trees The small extent of land, and being continually exposed to sea breezes, are unfavourable to the, growth of timber, yet in some parts of the Island,the young plantations are in a very healthy, flourishing-state. Mr. Kelly; of the Union Mills, has planted about half a million of trees, which are in a very thriving state, and add much to the beauty of that part of the country. J. Wade, Esq. has large and flourishing plantations at Injebreck and Airey Kelly, which will, undoubtedly, increase the value of the property, and greatly ornament this mountain, rural: retreat. From Ballaugh, to Ramsey, there are several plantings,sheltered: by the hills from the storm, and are likely to enrich: the enterprising proprietors. The exertions of the present generation may so far benefit posterity, that they may not be under the necessity of importing timber for, their farm buildings:. By these laudable improvements, the country would acquire a more luxuriant appearance, the barren uncultivated. places would. be employed for a national benefit and the property would. become increasingly valuable.


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