[From Train's History and Account, 1844]



The permission granted to persons, not bred to the law, to practise in the Island as attorneys, being found to promote the spirit of litigation, it was enacted in 1777 that no person shall act as an attorney or plead in any case, other than his own, till he have received a licence from the governor. It is not usual to grant such licence to any but a native of the Island, nor even to such a person, till he has served an apprenticeship of five years with the Clerk of the Rolls or a practising advocate. By the act of the same year, if an attorney should become bail in any cause or carry any suit by way of champerty, he subjects himself to fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court, and is rendered incapable of practising in future. — Mills's Laws, p. 377. Notwithstanding all these regulations, I understand Jenyn's couplet applies as appositely to the brothers of the quill in Man as elsewhere: —

Attorneys, Attorneys, for a barley straw,
Whole ages hamper folks in law."

In the year 1796, an act was passed for the better regulation of the court of common law, and for making a new judicial division of the Island. During the reign of the Duke of Atholl, many of the old laws were abrogated ; but the most important measure that has been effected for improving the jurisprudence of the Island is the act of 1817, for altering and amending the criminal laws. — Mills's Laws, p. 447. The laxity of the old penal code called for this revisal. " To take away a horse or an ox was only a trespass, but to steal a pig or a fowl was a capital misdemeanour and the offender punished with death." — Statute, anno 1629 ; Mills's Laws, p. 84 ; Johnstone's Jurisprudence, p. 44.

The number of licensed practitioners at present is thirty-nine; but the following relation shows the people to have been prone to litigation, from a period prior to the establishment of advocates.

During my short stay at Peel, in July, 1836, I became acquainted with a gentleman of the Manks bar, who kindly pointed out to me, on the adjoining coast, the scene of the following singular story, detailed by Stevens in his Lectures on Heads.

A fisherman of Peel, after bringing to shore the fish which he had caught during the night, was in the habit of mooring his scowte in a well-sheltered creek, on the coast, near Ballaquane, by a suggane or straw rope, similar to those generally used in the Island in olden times, for such a purpose. One morning a bull belonging to the farmer of Ballaquane, while wandering among the rocks in search of sea-tangle, accidentally discovered a large coil of suggane in the fisherman's boat. Unable to get at the tangle from the state of the tide, his bullship succeeded in getting into the scowte, and commenced a very satisfactory mastication of the rope; when it gave way, the boat was drifted out to sea, and being caught in a squall, was sunk and the bull drowned.

This affair became a subject of complaint, by the two parties interested, to John Parr, who held the office of deemster, from 1696 to 1712.

The fisherman charged the proprietor of the bull with having stolen his boat ; the farmer accused the fisherman of purloining his bull. It appeared in the course of the evidence, that the scowte being duly licensed, the owner had a right to moor it in any haven or creek within the territory of the Lord of Man, that the creek in question was then within the land occupied by the proprietor of the bull, and that the suggane was made, by his permission, of straw of said land. The deemster decided in favour of the farmer. The fisherman appealed to the governor of the Island, and the farmer, in turn, appealed from the judgment of the governor to the king in council.

Had his majesty, by and with the advice of his privy council, come to a decision on this subject, the decision, of course, would have been absolutely final; but this my informant had never been able to learn, nor does Stevens give any information as to the result of the plea.

NOTE II. — PAGE 218.


The Highroad Fund forms a most essential part of the Insular revenue. The following is the scale of Licence Duties imposed by Acts of Tynwald.

The following is an abstract of a certified copy of the amount of " The High-road Fund in account with the Clerk of the Rolls and Committee of Highways, for the year ending 5th July, 1843."

Banker's .. .. .. ..

£20 0 0

Brewer's .. .. .. ..

5 0 0

Hawker's .. .. .. ..

2 0 0

Ale and Spirits, in town ..

3 0 0

Wine .. .. . . .. . .

2 0 0

Ale and Spirits, in country

0 10 0

Wine and Spirits, wholesale

4 0 0

Four-wheeled Vehicle ..

1 0 0

Two-wheeled Vehicle ..

0 10 0




el 1 0 I


1 1 0 j


1 1 0


0 6 0


0 2 6


0 4 0


2 2 0



on admission .. . . . . 25 0 0

Amount o£ Ale, Spirit and Wine Licences

£939 19 0

Common Brewers' Licences

75 0 0

Bankers' Licences

60 0 0

Hawkers' Do.

58 0 0

Advocate's Do.

25 0 0

Game Licences

147 12 0

Dog Tax

362 15 6

Carriage Duties

371 0 0


34 17 3


£2074 3 9

(Signed) John M'HUTCHIN, Clerk of the Rolls.

The high-road labour for houses, lands, &c., for the same year, was equal to the labour of 29,7021 men. This number, at 1s. 4d. per man, is equivalent to £1980 3s. 0d. Thus it appear that the gross amount of the High-road revenue for 1843, was £4054 7s. 5d.

It is shown in the schedule of licences that the duty required for liberty to retail ale and spirits, is higher than for permission to dispose of similar articles by wholesale ; which, it appears, frequently induces the latter class to encroach on the purchased privileges of the former.

In a court held at Douglas, on 15th January, 1838, twenty-five shopkeepers were, on information laid by the commissioners of high-roads, fined each in the penalty of £5, for selling spirits in less quantities than one pint. These prosecutions were conducted, on the part of the commissioners, by the attorney-general. In Great Britain, the wholesale dealers, in exciseable articles, pay the highest licences. Notwithstanding the assertion that " one-fourth part of the entire population of the Isle of Man have become Teetotalers," (Speech of Finch, styled King of the Teetotalers, delivered in the Townhall of Dumfries, 16th January, 1838,) the houses licensed to sell spirituous liquors are yet very numerous. But the small sum for which a licence to retail spirits in the country may be obtained, as compared with a licence for a similar purpose in any of the four towns, is a proof that the town publicans rely chiefly for support on the strangers who visit the Island.

So early as the year 1637, the number of alehouses were regulated by the Lords of the Isle, or in their absence, by certain members of the legislative government. The licence duty was fixed at sixpence per annum, (Mills's Laws, p. 94) ; but in the year 1734, it was raised to two shillings and sixpence; and by the same act of Tynwald, the number of alehouses was restricted to two hundred ; these, however, being found insufficient for the accommodation of the public in 1739, the number was augmented to 300, "five score to the hundred."-Mills, p. 264. In the year 1753 the. licence duty was raised to nine shillings and ninepence, (Mills, p, 303) ; and in 1819, to the present rate. The number of public-houses in the Island is undoubtedly great; but, perhaps, the governor agrees with Dr. Adam Smith, that " it is not the multitude of alehouses that occasions a general disposition to drunkenness among the common people, but that disposition arising from other causes, necessarily gives employment to a multitude of alehouses."-Wealth of Nations, edit. 1819, vol. ii, page 126.


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