[From Train's History and Account, 1844]
Mona supposed to have been more populous in the time of the Druids than it is at presentPolitical Doctrine of Tacitus Policy of the Danes Revenue of the ancient Kings of Man The Island inipoverished by the many hostile Invasions of Foreigners Restrictions generally injurious to Trade Peculiarities of the Manks, Commercial Regulations Annual Appointment of Traffickers to truck with Merchant Strangers Market Towns Fairs Articles of Commerce most general in the Island The Herring not a migratory Animal, as formerly supposed Sea Birds mark the Arrival of the grand Shoals Regulations under which, the Herring Fishery is conducted Sad effects of a Hurricane Manner of curing Herrings for Exportation The Manks Fisheries encouraged by the British, Government Fund for maintaining the Sea ports of the Island.
IF the principality of North Wales was in such a flourishing state, in the reign of Howell Dha, as to have thrice the number of inhabitants it has at present,' it is equally certain that the Manks were more numerous on the arrival of the Romans in Caledonia than they are at the present day. They were then a hardy, valorous race, and in the ranks of their Gallovidian neighbours, became very obnoxious to the cohorts of Rome.' History is silent at that period as to the internal government of the Isle of Man, but the Druids, being senators as well as priests, directed all public affairs and private controversies.' We are told they were exempt from taxation and from military services, which implies that the rest of the people were subject to these aids, required by every government.' That the people were possessed of property appears from the Druids settling all disputes regarding the limits of land.'
In trading with each other, they used either rings or small plates of iron tied together, which passed by weight in the nature of money' an instance of their ability, as no barbarous people made use of any medium in buying and selling.' Tacitus has laid down the doctrine: that the certain and secure possession of what a man hath acquired is derived to him from the security afforded by the government, under which he lives, whatever the form of it may be ;' and for the sake of these and other advantages, every government is vested with power and intrusted with a revenue, which although derived from the public, cannot be said to be taken from them, because it is given for their use, and is therefore styled the public revenue; and if, at any time, it becomes grievous or oppressive, it must be from being injudiciously levied or from its being divested of its proper use.'
The Danish system of polity was evidently calculated to support, at the expense of the multitude, the grandeur of a few, who held their possessions by the tenure of the sword: those who lived under them were villains oppressed by the public burthens. Yet, notwithstanding the industry of this frugal people, they were often reduced to a state of the most abject poverty. The manner in which Magnus Barefoot treated the inhabitants of the Western Isles is sufficiently characteristic of the spirit of the Norwegian government when they patiently submitted, they were plundered of all they possessed, and if they offered any resistance, their dwellings were destroyed and themselves nearly exterminated.'
When the Norwegian conqueror took possession of the Island in 1098, the inhabitants lived chiefly in caves in the mountains, nor were their circumstances much improved in the time of Sir John Stanley: "they provided neither doors nor windows to their houses, but made bundles of briars, gorse, and heath to defend them from the injury of the weather." This fagot was called by the natives yn skeiy sy doarlish.' From the time the Scots first conquered the Island to the accession of the Stanley family, a period of only one hundred and fifty years, Man was five times taken by the Scots and English. The natural result of so many changes in the executive government and consequent insecurity of property was the decline of husbandry, the extinction of commerce and of all stimulus to industry in the people, which occasionally reduced them to a state of the lowest wretchedness; even in the time of the commonwealth of England, Chaloner, one of the commissioners sent over by Lord Fairfax, says: "The poverty of this Island is its greatest security." These circumstances do not accord with the assertions of the political writers who state the Manks, in ancient times, to have possessed an extensive commerce : this conjecture is unsupported by proof.' But the Island must have been in a happy state when there was neither a lawyer nor beggar seen in it. 2
The inland trade of the Island appears to have been at all times limited. There are no bodies corporate in the Island except the bishop, parson, vicar, churchwarden, and a few others who are rendered so by holding in perpetuity a trust inseparable from their offices. There is no trace of any guild or corporation having been established for the encouragement of artificers, nor of burghs erected with constituted authorities to regulate the proceedings of the craftsmen; and so far as the legislature has interfered, either as to artificers and agricultural servants, their decisions have been most arbitrary. " It is observed that great cause of complaint, in this Island, respecting servants, has been the frequent binding of youth to trades for two or three years, who then, before they well un derstand the same, set up for themselves and marry, and so live meanly and poorly, and turning cottlers or inclosurers on some highway side, are commonly given to pilfering, and entertainers of vagabonds, and spoilers of the country's goods put into their hands. It is therefore ordained that henceforth no person in this Isle take or entertain any apprentice to learn any science or trade, for a shorter time, term, and space than five years nor shall the apprentice serving such number of years be allowed to marry for one year afterwards, upon pain of severe punishment on the person of the fender, and a pecuniary mulct beside for a fine to the lord of the Isle."'
If the axiom holds good that commerce, like the arts and sciences, flourishes most where least restrained by law' the most ancient records of the Island tend only to skew how ignorant the Manks were of the true principle of trade : " it is established and confirmed that no person buy any corn, or grain, or any other merchandise, or provisions, to sell the same again, whether in open market, or out of market, or in any private place or house, without licence from the governor or his deputy, upon pain of forfeiting the goods so purchased, or the value thereof, to the lord of the Isle."'
It is also an ancient customary law that " if any salt, iron, timber, or any commodity that is useful for the country be brought into any port or haven within the Isle to be sold, no manner of persons are to intermeddle therewith or buy the same at wholesale, until the same shall have lain for three tides after notice to the intent the country may be furnished according to the rate it is to be sold for by that time ; otherwise, if any offend therein, he shall, upon presentment to the Great Inquest, be severely fined, unless he do sell the same to the country at the rate which he bought it."4
Such a mode of proceeding was very different from the open and frank manner of transacting business with foreigners, allowed by the Shetlanders 5
The foreign merchant or other person, who visited the Island either in the way of traffic or of pleasure, was laid under restrictions equally impolitic.' Immediately on arriving in any of the ports or creeks of the Island, he was taken before the governor " to tell the news from whence he came" and to show the bill of lading. If the governor thought the merchant stranger's wares fit for the use of the commonwealth, he then endeavoured to "drive him to a bargain;" but if that could not be effected, the clerk of the ships was commanded to summon the constituted country traffickers. These were four persons sworn, by the deemsters, to deal truly with all merchant strangers, but more for the country's profit. When these`" traffickers," as they were called, and the merchants appeared before the governor, he strove " to drive a bargain between them and the merchant stranger;" but if they could not agree, he allowed a certain time for concluding the bargain with the stranger, and whatever bargain was made by the four merchants, the. country had to stand to it, and to take the commodities at the rates agreed upon; each person bringing wool, hides, or tallow, and receiving in proportion a quantity of salt, iron, pitch, or wine. If the commodities bought in by the country people did not extend to the value of the stranger's goods, then the deficiency of the permutation on the part of the Islanders was made up by the four merchants assessing the country, every one in an equal proportion,' but the barter so received could not be exported without special licence' from the governor; and no stranger was allowed to carry money out of the Island.'
The exactions, which the stranger was required to pay, were most oppressive. " If a ship of salt be imported, the merchants are to have for their trouble, from the stranger, a barrel of salt out of every twenty barrels." " But it is to be understood that such loading of salt is from France or Portugal, no English salt is to be con tracted for as a country bargain."' If a ship of wine is imported, the clerk is to have one choice hogshead, paying for it as it is bought; and the merchant stranger is to agree with the clerk. My lord, the governor, bishop, and archdeacon only to have choice wines to drink free of cost in their own families.' " The clerk of the ship is to receive no poundage from the merchant stranger, as that is to be paid to my lord only."4
In ancient times, the traffickers were chosen by the Great Inquest' "to truck and deal with merchant strangers;" but in 1502, they were for the first time appointed by the governor, which authority was confirmed by an act of Tynwald in 1581 s The appointment of these traffickers had not gone into disuse in the middle of the seventeenth century, but was entirely laid aside in Bishop Wilson's time!
It was not till the year 1422, that the produce of the Island was allowed to be exported on any pretext, or merchants permitted to leave the Island for the purpose of purchasing goods.8 " Whereas shipmen and chapmen might have noe lycence to pass the land with their goods and cattle to raise the lord's farme as they were accustomed to do, which hath been a great hinderance to the lord, for better it were for them to thrive upon merchandize than foreigne merchants and chapmen. Therefore be it ordained that every chapmen and shipman have lycence, as often as the profit serveth, for England, Ireland, or Wales, so that lie warn the lieutenant, and have lycence to goo and knowe if he have any business to the coast they goe." And " when any person maketh suit to carry or transport any stuff or merchandize out of the Isle into any foreigne parts, the captain-general shall consult with the rest of the council what wares may be best spared by the inhabitants, and with advice of the council, grant lycence accordingly."'
The intercourse allowed by these acts was not extended to Scotland, and the same exclusion, as respected that kingdom, was continued by another statute passed one hundred and seventy-two years after the one alluded to.' In 1593, farmers were allowed to export, under licence from the governor, as much corn or grain yearly as might be required to pay their rent to the lord,' but no more. And any person taking °° quick beeves" out of the Island was presentable to the Great Inquest, and the coroner or lockman was required to seize such beeves to the Lord of the Isle.'
So early as the year 1529, there was a revenue officer stationed at each port and creek of the Island, called a customer, whose duty it was totake an account of all goods imported or exported, and to receive for anchorage from any boat, vessel, or pickard that anchored within the heads if with a cock boat, eightpence, and if without, one-half that sum.' The form of the cocket granted to a vessel bound for a foreign port, was somewhat singular.* On the first erection of the Saxon states, their monarch found it requisite to appoint certain places where the people might live together in safety, and carry on their dealings with freedom. These were called " burghs," a word implying in its primitive signification, "a place of strength ;" and, for the convenience of the inhabitants, open markets were fixed in them with certain privileges 2
Nearly all the nations of Christendom followed, in this respect, the example of the Saxons ; but there never having been a burgle in the Isle of Man, is a proof that mechanics and merchants were never numerous there.
Rushen, now more generally known by the modern name of Castletown, was in ancient times the only market town in the Island, to which on the ordinary market day the inhabitants of the sheading of Rushen, and of the parishes of Santon, Marown, Glenfaba, Michael, and Ballaugh, were required to bring "all the victual, corn, ware, and such like merchandize as they have to spare or sell, upon pain of fine and imprisonment to the lord ; and if they cannot sell them there, then they may dispose of them elsewhere within the Island."'
At a Tynwald court, held on the 24th June, 1594, 4 by consent of Randulph Stanley, captain of the Isle, and the rest of the municipal officers, it was enacted, " That no fair or market be held upon the Sabbath-day, neither for the sale of victuals nor for anything else, upon pain of fine and imprisonment to the Lord; and that no countryman or stranger buy any commodity forth of the market before the market bell ring, upon pain of imprisonment and fine to the lord."' This act does not appear to have been duly observed, as it was renewed in 1610. At a subsequent period, markets were held at Peel, Ramsey, and Douglas; regulations were enacted for their management; and persons were appointed to examine the articles brought to these markets for sale.
Barley, oats, and malt were sold by the heaped measure; while wheat, rye, vetches, beans, and butter were sold by the stricken : and by an order of the insular council in the year 1582, this is stated to have been then an ancient custom. Wool is sold by the quart, containing seven pounds.' The cloth yard consists of thirty-eight inches? Leather was not allowed to be sold till examined by persons appointed by the Great Inquest for that purpose,. and stamped by them with the arms of the Island.
Any person bringing veal to the market before it was three weeks old, was liable to be fined, and the article either to be burned or given to the poor.' When the cattle were taken to the market, no person, whatever his rank might have been, was permitted to bid money for them " till the lord's steward had the refusal."5
It was enacted that if any person selling a horse, cow, or any other animal, deliver, for possession thereof, a handful of hay or straw, if such animal should miscarry afterwards, before the buyer takes away or even sees the same, the loss is to be his and not the seller's.' But the wisdom of the Manks legislature is made still more manifest by the following enactments :
" If any man sell malt, that after the brewing thereof is found to be red, or is noisome to man, and not the fault of the ale-wife, she is to send to the seller to take away the same to his best use; and if he refuses to do so, he must loose both the beer and the price thereof."2 And " If any sell ale in a can that is not stamped, the person to whom the ale is presented is at liberty to drink as much as he pleases without payment."
"If a man make sale of a swine that after killing is found to be measled, the buyer may return it to the seller, and by the Deemster's authority, receive back the consideration or price."'
"If a farmer, upon credit, make sale of any grain to a townsman for payment of his rent, although the buyer deny the debt or price of the said corn, the farmer, upon his own oath, without any further testimony, is to have the price of the corn."
An author who resided in the Island in the early part of the eighteenth century, says: " Their markets are on Saturday, but there is little butcher's meat to be bought by the single joint. Most of the housekeepers, who do not bring up cattle themselves, join three or four together and buy a carcase ; but they are persons of consideration who eat any flesh meat at all the natives generally, both rich and poor, living almost wholly on herrings and potatoes."'
In the early ages of society, when the wants of the community were supplied chiefly by barter, fairs, fixed at stated periods, were of much convenience to the public. To give them a greater degree of solemnity, they were held on the day of the dedication of the church to a particular saint, and wares were sold even in the church-yards until prohibited by law. They were even held on Sunday when the usual fair-day happened so to occur.
Having the protection of a holiday, persons attending the fair were free from arrest, nor could the goods of merchants be seized or detained!
It was not till the year 1736, that every person was at liberty to buy and sell at fairs without any restriction,' excepting pedlars, who are not permitted to hawk their wares in the Island without a license from the government, under the penalty of five pounds. 4
But the change which the manners of society have undergone, has in a great measure done away with the necessity that existed for holding fairs, and in the Isle of Man, as elsewhere, they are passing into oblivion. Of the forty-five established fairs, there are not more than six or eight at which any dealing now takes place. 5 Waldron says: " They have no fairs worth mentioning except two which take place at Kirk Patrick. To. these good housewives bring thread worsted of their own spinning. Here also you may buy a sort of cloth, manufactured in the country, but none else. They sell no eatables except butter and cheese, and no trinkets as in England. Butter, to a recent period, was sold by measure."
Townley, who was present at the great annual fair of St. John's, in July, 1787, gives a ludicrous description of it, which I shall here insert for the purpose of skewing the improvement that has since taken place in the roads, in the farming stock, and in the manners of the people :
" This is one of their annual fairs in this place, which has brought great numbers of country people from all parts of the Island, sadly bespattered with dirt in coming through such miry roads upon their little horses. Such a collection of cows and poor nags, chiefly from the mountains, was exhibited at this fair, as surely was never seen before collected together within European ground. To have purchased the whole of both kinds at forty shillings a head, would not have been a desirable bargain.
" On two sides of a barren field are erected temporary booths, made up of sods and covered with tattered remnants of old sail cloth. These are for the reception of the mixed multitudes resorting there some few for business, but more on the call of amusement, by partaking of the joys of a country fair, and getting horribly drunk. Many of them, partook very deeply of that first delight of a Manksman, ' grog,' being seen by us in our return to Douglas either staggering along the road or in a deep sleep of intoxication by the sides of it."'
The natural productions of the Island are neither numerous nor of great value, as articles of commerce. Flax and hemp were raised at an early period " in great plenty;" as was also wheat, barley, and oats; and kelp was manufactured on its shores to a small extent. Those, with some lead, copper, and iron, a limited stock of loaghtyn wool, with a few scores of cattle and a few dickers of raw hides, constituted chiefly the articles of barter with merchant strangers,2 who came chiefly from Cumberland and Lancashire, down to the accession of the Stanley family to the sovereignty of the Island. There does not appear to have been any fixed rate either of import or export duty, prior to the year 1577. A long list of the rates of custom on goods imported, as allowed that year by Henry, Earl of Derby, is recorded in the statute book of the Island. The duty on herrings imported was then fixed at one shilling per ton, and small as the duty may now appear, it was evidently intended to exclude the Dutch fishermen from the Manks market, they having established an extensive fishery on our shores long before that period.
The Hollanders fix the date of the commencement of their fisheries on the coasts of the British isles, in the year 1164. According to De Wit, " herrings are only found in abundance on the coasts of Great Britain, about Schetland, Pharil, and Man, from St. Jameses to the elevation of the cross; about Brookness or Severvit, from the elevation of the cross to St. Katerines, in the deep water eastward of Yarmouth."'
Brenus, who was governor of the Isle of Man from the year 1282 to 1287, was the first who taught the Manks people the art of fishing, and consequently, from this time may be dated the commencement of the Manks fishery,' although it would be now a difficult task to fix with historical accuracy, the time when they began to compete successfully with the Dutch.* Gottenburgh herring, says Lieutenant Governor Shaw, made once an article of commerce in the Island, of which it is now deprived and the importation prohibited, except one thousand barrels, in case of failure for home consumption.'
In the ancient Statute Book of the Island, it is mentioned in the year 1422 : "That the people be cherished to pay the Lord's rent, though there be no herring fishery;"' but it was not till 1610 that any law respecting the fishery was enacted. The following extract from that statute, plainly shews that at that period all recollections of herrings having been caught on the coast, was nearly lost, else why did the legislature apply to four aged men on the subject. " The livetenante, deemsters, officers, and twenty-four keyes afforesaid, having taken the examinacons of fower anncyent men, who perfectlie did remember the hearing fishing in this Isle, and were themselves fishers driving for hearing in the north of England with Manks fishing boats, doe ordeyne, appoint, and enact, for lave to be observed everye heare after in this Isle, that all and everye the tennants and fermors within this Isle, whether they be lord's tennants or baron's tennants, shall have alwayes in redines prepared for the hearing fishing, eight fathomes of netts furnished with corckes or boyes, that is to say, out of everye quarter of ground eight fathomes, conteyning three deepings, of nyne score mashes uppon the rope." 3
One might suppose that it was the time previous to 1610, when the herrings had left the Manks shores, that Waldron alludes in the following passage:" What does them most damage is the dogfish, which, by reason of its largeness, tears the nets in such a manner that they loose the herrings through the hole. This was so great a grievance that they at one time put up public prayers at all churches, that the dogfish might be taken from them, after which they lost their whole trade, for the dogfish was taken from them, and the herrings also. Neither of which coming near their seas, they changed their tone and prayed with more vehemence for their return than they did before for their departure. God, they say, was pleased to listen to their complaints, and again sent them both herrings and dogfish."'
Bishop Wilson must certainly have alluded to a period subsequent to 1610, when he remarks that " herrings were formerly the staple commodity of the Island." He says too, " that in the memory of many persons then alive, twenty thousand barrels were exported annually to France and other parts of the continent of Europe."' In 1667, herrings were so plenty that they sold for sixpence a mease of five hundred.' But in the time of Sacheverel, who was governor of Man in 1692, the herring fishery had been lost to the Island for many years.`
An opinion has long prevailed that the herrings are migratory animals; that they breed in the north sea, whence they issue forth in a great body early in the season of each year; that the great body of herrings comes undivided to the Shetland Isles, where it arrives about the middle of June, and thence proceeding southward till it meets with the land, separates into two divisions the one taking the west, the other the east side of this island till, in their progress southward, they gradually fill the seas and bays on our coast; that they reach the Isle of Man in July, and Yarmouth' and the North of Ireland in October and November, where they continue some time; and that the shoal, in its progress southward, gradually disperses, and disappears about the beginning of January, retiring, as it would seem, into the northern seas, where they again appear in the following year and repeat the same annual progress as before 2
The reality of the migration of the herring is now greatly called in question. It is supposed that the fish, like the mackerel, is to be found during the winter months at no great distance from the shores which it most frequents at the commencement of the spawning season, inhabiting the deep recesses of the ocean ; but at the vernal season, that it approaches the shallows in order to deposit its spawn in a proper situation. 3 This is thought a sufficient explanation of the glittering myriads, which, at particular times, are to be seen illuminating the surface of the ocean for the length and breadth of several miles.
The approach of herrings at the usual season is always looked for with great anxiety by the Manksmen. They appear on the shores of Man about the middle of July. The first indication of their arrival is a small rippling of the water, a delicate phosphoric illumination of the surface, and the appearance of their usual attendants, the gulls and the gannets.' When the flight of these sea-birds, is high, the fishermen know that the herrings are deep in the water; but when they are seen skimming near the surface, it is a sure sign the herrings are also near the top.
The person who first discovers the vanguard of the grand shoals, sounds a horn'. 2 When the happy intelligence is announced, all is bustle and industry throughout the Island: every countenance is brightened and cheered with the joyous prospect of a good sea harvest. An admiral and vice-admiral are elected annually, whose province it is to conduct the fleet to the herring ground; and their boats are distinguished by appropriate flags. The water-bailiff directs the fishery proceedings on shore. By the statute 7th George III, chap. 45, sec. 17, the admiral of the herring fleet is allowed a salary of five pounds per annum, the vice-admiral three pounds, and the water-bailiff or his deputy twenty pounds.
" When it pleaseth God to send this blessing of fish about the Isle, the water-bailiff, upon first notice thereof, is to take immediate care and course to have all the boats of the Island to come to such place as the fish is, to drive for the same, and see after my lord's custom fish," and " to see that every tenant, whether lord's or baron's, are provided with nets,' corks, and buoys according to law."*
Formerly, before leaving the harbour, a clergyman performed divine service to the assembled fishermen .2 He there read, in accordance with the form observed in all the churches of the Island during the fishing season, the last prayer but one in the litany of the church of England, beginning " preserve to us the kindly fruits of the earth," to which he added the more apposite supplication of °° restore and continue to us the blessings of the sea." This latter part was introduced into the church by Bishop Wilson.' " Nor were they by law allowed to fish from Saturday morning till Sunday at night, after sunset."'
Townley thus describes the fishing fleet leaving the harbour of Douglas: " there could not be a more pleasing or lively scene than to see the whole bay covered with hundreds of boats scudding before the wind in different tacks, in order to round the headland, and every crew most anxious to be first upon the proper station."'
When the fleet arrives at the fishing bank, the nets are spread out in the sea on the starboard side of the boat, as required by an act of 1794.' The herring is caught chiefly by the gills or neutral fins, and when drawn out of the water, gives a shrill squeak, like that of the mouse, but much fainter. The herring not being furnished by nature with organs of sound, this peculiar squeak is supposed to be occasioned by a sudden involuntary discharge of air from the swimm, which causes the instantaneous death of the fish. Hence the proverb, " as dead as a herring."
Sea-faring people are generally accounted superstitious, and to this general remark the Manks mariner forms no exception. Down to a very recent period, they imagined they saw, when at sea, their old friend Mannan-beg-mac-y-Leirr in the phenomenon called, by sailors, the "weathergaw," forewarning them of an approaching hurricane. Numerous instances are related of disasters that befel people who neglected instantly to avail themselves of the friendly appearance of the warning spirit. The most calamitous in its consequences was that which happened in September, 1787, when nearly four hundred fishing boats with their crews were swallowed by the deep in a few hours, within sight of Douglas.
On that occasion, the shoal of herrings was about three leagues off Douglas, and the boats sailed in the evening with every prospect of temperate weather; but about midnight, an equinoctial gale arose, and the fishermen, in their eagerness to gain the harbour, threw down a small lantern which was supported by the slender part of a former lighthouse. In a few moments afterwards, all was horror and confusion. The darkness of the night and the raging of the sea the vessels dashing along the rocks the cries of the perishing men and the screams of the women on shore imparted sensations of the greatest misery and horror. When the morning arrived, it disclosed an awful spectacle the beach and rocks were covered with wrecks, and groups of dead bodies were floating in the harbour. In some boats whole families had perished.
It is in the evening that the vessels leave the harbour, and on the ensuing morning they return with the fruits of their voyage.
The unloading the boats and carrying the fish to their respective herring houses, is wholly performed by women. Their first operation is to take away the intestines of the fish, if designed for a warm climate. In Man, they serve to enrich the gulls; but in Sweden, such refuse is boiled for oil.
Those designed for red herrings undergo a more tedious operation. Men shovel them up in layers, throwing a quantity of salt over each layer, and in that situation they are allowed to remain for several days. They are then spitted on hazel rods and hung up in the drying houses, where wood fires are lighted under them, and when they are sufficiently smoked, are packed up for exportation.
This manner of curing, to produce red herrings, was introduced into the Island from Yarmouth, about the middle of last century.
By an act of 1703, fresh herrings might not be exported till the price was below one shilling and two pence per hundred; but that law was not repealed till 1796. By the act 5th and 6th Victoria, cap. 49, sec. 7, herrings, taken and cured by the inhabitants of the Isle of Man, may be imported from thence into the British possessions in the West Indies, South America, and the Mauritius duty free. And by an order in council, dated October 2, 1843, herrings may also be imported duty free into the Cape of Good Hope from the Isle of Man.
So early as the year 1566, the Scots prohibited strangers from fishing in their salt water lakes;' and the Manks, in retaliation, precluded the Scots from fishing on their coasts a restraint that was only removed in the present century.'
Great encouragement has always been given by the British legislature to the Manks fisheries. By the acts 12th Geo. III, cap. 58, sec. 1, 2, and 26th Geo. III, cap. 81, sec. 33, 35, and 45, " for all herrings caught by the inhabitants of the Isle of Man, one shilling per barrel of bounty was allowed, with a bounty of two shillings and eight pence for every barrel of white herrings, and one shilling and nine pence for every barrel of red herrings exported from the Island." These bounties the parliamen tary commissioners of 1792 found to average nine hundred and seventy-six pounds fourteen shillings and seven pence per annum; but they have been discontinued.-
In the year 1786, the Duke of Atholl was, under the act 26th Geo. III, cap 106, appointed one of the commissioners of " The British Society for extending the Fisheries and improving the Sea Coasts of the Kingdom." The capital stock was limited to £150,000 stg,' in £50 shares, which sum was to be laid out in building free towns, villages, piers, and fishing stations along the coasts. Out of this fund, the greater part of the expense of building the new pier at Douglas was defrayed, and the various fishing stations improved.
This attention to the Manks fisheries has been productive of beneficial effects. In 1836, the number of Manks scowles employed in the herring fishery was about three hundred, and the English and Irish vessels engaged in the same trade, on the Manks coast, were very numerous; but there was not even one vessel of any description from Scotland, up to the time of my departure from the Island?
By the statute 7th Geo. III, cap. 45, in case of any failure of the fishery carried on upon the coast of Man, the House of Keys is authorised to permit the importation of foreign herrings, not exceeding one thousand barrels per annum, duty free. The quantity caught in 1843, was about sixty-one thousand barrels, and in 1844, was about fifty-seven thousand barrels, though in the latter year, some boats were very successful.' The act of the 3rd and 4th Wm. IV, cap. 59, which came into operation on 1st September, 1833, permits "herrings from the Isle of Man, taken and cured by the inhabitants thereof," to be imported into the United Kingdom duty free a privilege not granted to any of the other British colonies.
The progress of agriculture may have been retarded by the diversion of the farmer's capital and attention from the cultivation of the land to that of the herring fishery,2 and by a more judicious division of labour, the stores of the ocean might have been rendered more available to the wants of the community; but it is too fanciful to suppose that by efficient prosecution of the piscatory advantages of the Island, the inhabitants might become wealthy.' A library might be filled with the tracts, plans, reports, and acts that have been printed in this country, during the last two centuries, containing regulations, schemes, and suggestions for the improvement of the fisheries and fishermen; but it is not too much to say that not one of those well meant endeavours, notwithstanding the enormous expense incurred in carrying some of them into effect, has been productive of any material advantage.'
The committee appointed by parliament in 1833, to enquire into the management of the channel fisheries, represent the fisheries as being generally in a very depressed state: this we may believe. Dr. Adam Smith, the great political economist, remarks, that from the age of Theocritus downward, fishermen have been proverbially poor.2
1 Campbell's Political History of Great Britain, Dublin, 1775, vol. ii, p. 492. " The circumstance of the churchyard of St. Maughold including a space of five acres of consecrated ground, certainly implies a larger population than that by which it is surrounded at present. " Townley's Journal, vol. ii, p. 172 ; Bullock's History of the Isle of Man, p. 235. Another writer states: " The country was well cultivated and well peopled. The Manks were equally versed in the exercise of arms and in the knowledge of the arts of peace. They had a considerable naval force, an extensive commerce, and were a great nation, although inhabiting a little Isle. " Encyclopaedia Britannic,, Edinburgh, 1810, vol xii, p. .551. A poet of the north, in describing a dress unusually gorgeous, adds that it was spun by the Sudureyans. And even in science and literature this remarkable people had attained to no inconsiderable distinction. Macpherson's Illustrations, ap. Tytler's History of Scotland, vol. i, p. 24 ; Transactions of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, vol. ii, part ii, p. 356.
2 Hollinshead's Chronicles of Scotland, edition 1805, vol. i, p. 84.
3 Campbell's Political Survey, vol. iii, p. 292.
4 Campbell's Political Survey, vol. iv, p. 474.
5 Campbell's Political Survey, vol. iii, p. 294.
6 The ancient Danes and Norwegians were expert merchants. Do Hick says, in his Thesaurus, that the Danes first introduced into the countries which they subdued the mercantile mode of computing a hundred by
" Five score of men, money, and pins ;
But six score of all other things."
This they performed by using the greater decades, or units of twelve, which they called dusin, the French douzain, and we dozen. Hence is derived to us as well as to the Manks, the present mode of counting many things by six score to the hundred. Brand's Antiquities, edition 1777, p. 348.
7 Campbell's Political Survey, vol. iii, p. 295.
8 Tacitus's History, book iv, cap. lxxiv.
9 Campbell's Political Survey, vol. iv, p. 473.
10 Rerum Orcadensium Historia, lib. i, cap. xvii, p. 71.
11 Cregeen's Manks Dictionary, p. 152.
12 Harrison's Description of Britain, p. 37 ; Campbell's Political Survey, vol. ii, p. 538; Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. i, pp. 278, 279; Ayloff s Calendar of Ancient Charters, p. 336.
13 " Lawyers in the Isle of Man get no fees and beggars no alms, for none of them are there. " Historiae Scoticae Nomclatura by Christopher Irvine, Edinburgh, 1682.
14 Statute, anno 1665 ; Mills's Laws, p. 133.
15 Smith's Wealth of Nations, edition 1819, vol. ii, p. 290.
16 This singular custom was continued by Statutes enacted anno 1594, 1596, 1609, 1610, 1611, 1616, 1637; MS. Statute Book, pp. 74, 90 ; Mills's Laws, pp. 63, 91, 92.
17 This custom was likewise continued by acts in the following years, 1584, 1596, 1604; MS. Statute Book, p. 75.
18 " Before the Shetland Isles were annexed to the crown of Scotland, it is presumed the inhabitants were more numerous than at present." Campbell's Survey, vol. ii, p. 678. " The Dutch busses arrived there sometimes with more than twenty thousand men on board. They had a place assigned them on shore, and were allowed to barter their goods with the natives, and the like privilege was allowed to Hamburgers, Bremeners, and other strangers. " Sibbald, pp. 30, 35, 38.
19 Anno 1523 ; Mills's Laws, p. 34 ; Camden's Britannia, edition 1695, p. 1063.
20 Statute, anno 1523 ; Mills's Laws, pp. 34, 35; Chaloner's Account of the Isle of Man, published in King's Vale Royal, London, 1656, folio 30.
21 Statute, anno 1527. By an act of 1692, exportation was allowed under certain regulations ; but by an act of Tynwald in 1736, " all goods, the growth and produce of the Isle of Man, shall for ever hereafter be exported free and exempted from all duties and customs whatever. " Mills's Laws, p. 247.
22 Statute, anno 1422; Mills's Laws, p. 27.
23 MS. Statute Book, p. 21, ap. Parr, p. 103.
24 Statute, anno 1523; Mills's Laws, pp. 27, 34, 35.
25 "Liber Scaccarii, anno 1631, ap, Parr's MS. Statutes, p. 45.
26 Statute. Book, pp. 15, 27.
27 Liber Placitorum, anno 1581 ; Camden's Britannia, folio edition, 1695, p. 1064.
28 Quayle's View of the Agriculture of the Isle of Man, London, 1812, p. 123 ; Camden's Britannica, vol. ii, p. 1448.
29 It is ordained that noe man, whatsoever condition he may be, go out of the Island without licence from the Lord." Statutes, anno 1422, 1594.
30 Statute Book, 1422, 1561; Wood, p. 279.
31 Statute, anno 1422, 1594 ; Mills's Laws, pp. 22, 66.
32 Statute, anno 1593 ; Millls's Laws, p. 77.
33 Statute, anno 1577 ; Lex Scripta, p. 68.
34 Statute, anno 1529, 1517, 1610, 1628 ; Statute Book, pp. 13, 26, 29, 61.
35 Appendix, Note i, " Ancient Lockets."
36 Campbell's Political Survey of Great Britain, Dublin, 1775, vol. iv, p. 506.
37 Statutes, anno 1594, 1611 ; Mills's Laws, pp. 63, 64 ; Statute Book, p. 65.
38 Mills's Laws, p. 63.
39 Statute, anno 1594; Mills's Laws, pp. 63, 64.
40 Quayle's Agricultural Survey, London, 1812, p. 139.
41 The Scotch ell is only 37 inches. A standard ellwaud was kept in every royal burgh. That of Dumfries may yet be seen indented in the outer wall of the jail. It is a rod of iron subdivided into inches. It was placed there, being till lately the market-place, for the purpose of checking what was called running measure, as the iron was in a similar manner placed at the market-place, for checking weight by the pound troy.
42 Statute, anno 1673. To constitute a bargain formerly in Scotland, the buyer wet the point of his right thumb with his tongue, and afterwards pressed it against that of the seller. The transaction was then concluded, but if this ceremony was omitted, it did not stand law.
43 Waldron's Description of the Isle of Man, p, 140.
44 Ancient Customary Law.
45 Statute, anno 1588, 1597. Ale was the favourite beverage of the Manks previous to their commercial intercourse with France and Holland. The manufacture of it was probably introduced into the Island by their northern masters. The Saxons and Danes were passionately fond of beer, and the drinking of it was supposed to form one of the principal enjoyments of the heroes admitted to the Hall of Odin. Mallet's Northern Antiquities, cap. vi. Sacheverell, who was governor in the Island in 1692, gives this favourable report of Manks brewing: " I may mention the goodness of their ale, which is not only a commodity in the neighbouring kingdoms, but were we allowed the freedom of commerce, would be of great value wherever England trades." Account of the Isle of Man, London, 1702.
46 Statute, anno 1577.
47 Waldron's Description, p. 172.
48 Jacob's Law Dictionary, article " Fair."
49 Mills's Laws, p. 236.
50 Statutes, anno 1741, 1758; Mills's Laws, 267, 331.
51 Quayle's Agricultural Survey, London, 1812, p. 138.
52 Townley's Journal, kept in the Isle of Man, Whitehaven, 1791, vol. ii, pp. 36, 265.
53 Camden's Britannia, vol. ii, pp. 1439, 1444.
54 Account of tite Dutch Fishery by John De Wit, pensionary of Holland, ap. Bindon's Essay on Commerce, Dublin, 1739, p. 167. In the year 1609, the Dutch paid £30,000, and continued to do so annually for a longtime afterwards, for liberty to fish on the coast of Scotland. Wellwood, in his letter to Grotius, says: " The Scots obliged the Dutch by treaty to keep eighty miles from the shore in fishing, and to pay a tribute at the port of Aberdeen, where a tower was erected for that and other purposes." Memorable Events in History, London, 1818, p. 126.
55 Seacome's History of the Isle of Man, Liverpool, 1741, p. 23.
56 Appendix, Note ii, " Fishery Regulations."
57 Parliamentary Commissioners' Report, 1792.
58 Mills's Laws, p. 21.
59 Liber Scaccarii, anuo 1610; Mills's Laws, p. 501. There are not at present above three or four persons in a town that have small boats of their own for transporting and importing petty commodities, though in former times the Island was better stored with shipping, being able to equip a fleet of four score sail, (see Chronicles of the Isle of Man.;) but at this day, they have not a bark above forty tons. Camden's Britannia, folio edition, 1695, p. 1064.
60 Waldron's Description of the Isle of Man, p. 159.
61 In June, 1798, a merchant of Leghorn informed me, says Mr. Feltham, that he received three cargoes of smoked or red herrings annually from the Isle of Man, which were consumed in Italy. Respecting salmon, he observed that the Italians received from two to three thousand barrels per annum from the Isle of Man, till checked by the French war. Tour in 1797, p. 91.
62 Feltham, p. 220.
63 Camden's Britannia, vol. ii, p. 1448.
64 The town of Yarmouth is bound by its charter to send the sheriff of Norwich annually, one hundred herrings in twenty-four pies or pates, and to deliver the like number to the lord of the manor of East Calton, who has to convey them to the king."-Treasury of Knowledge, London, 1829, vol. i, p. 364. This singular custom shews the herring fishery to be of great antiquity at Yarmouth.
65 Anderson's Account of the Fisheries, Edinburgh, 1795, p. 346.
66 Mr. Neilson, the celebrated naturalist of Sweden, who was deputed by the Swedish government, to survey the coast of Norway, for the purpose of ascertaining as far as possible the accuracy of the opinions, advanced by various writers, respecting the habits of the herrings, asserts that the herrings found in the Gulf of Bothnia are a distinct species from those found in the Cattegat, while those that spread alobg the coast of Norway differ from both. The Report of the Committee of the Monks Legislature on Herring Fishery, in 1827, confirms the statement of Mr. Neilson as to the general habits of these fish.
67 "The herring has many other enemies. besides the gull and the gannet. From the vast number of sea fowls that seek their food on the shores of St. Kilda, we may justly conclude that there must be inexhaustible stores of fish there: but let us confine ourselves to the consumption made by a particular species of fowl. The solan goose is almost insatiably voracious : he flies with great force, toiling all day with little intermission : he disdains to feed on any thing worse than herring or mackerel: We shall take it for granted that there are a hundred thousand of these birds round the rocks of St. Kilda, as no less than twenty thousand are destroyed annually. If each of these destroy five herrings daily for seven months in the year, which estimate throughout is far too low, we have one hundred thousand millions of the finest fishes in the world devoured annually by a single species of sea fowl at St. Kilda alone." Maccaulay's History of St. Kilda, London, edition 1764, p. 249. But the,herring is amazingly prolific: ' I One that weighs five ounces. ten drachms, will have four hundred and eighty grains of spawn, containing thirty-six thousand nine hundred and sixty eggs."-Phil. Trans., vol. lvii. Dogfishes also destroy the herrings to such an extent that they are called by the Manks, '° the tyrants of the sea." See Examination of Sir John Dalrymple before a Committee of the House of Commons, ap. Report of Arts, no. 1, July, 1798.
68 Jefferey's Account of the Isle of Man, p. 173. The shoal is first met with about the middle of June, fifteen miles north of the Island, at a spot nearly equidistant from the Island, from Scotland, and from Ireland. The fish move slowly southward, and are opposite Peel about the middle of July, when they are in the richest state. They proceed around the Calf and up the eastern coast above Douglas, and in September, they reach the spawning ground off Clay Head, having then made nearly the: circuit of the Island. The fishing season ceases in October.
69 Statute, anno 1610, Mills's Laws, p. 502. It was enacted that all persons working herring nets for sale, shall make every sling full twelve fathoms in length, computing two yards to the fathom, and fifty-eight meshes at least in breadth, under forfeiture of the nets otherwise made.-Statute, anno 1679. By act passed in 1796, the practice of tarring nets was prohibited under a penalty of ten pounds. But it appears that notwithstanding this enactment, tarred nets continued to be used as, by an act of Tynwald in 1817, the master of every boat was made liable, under a penalty of ten pounds, for each offence.-Mills's Laws. pp. 391, 466.
70 Appendix, Note iii, '° Fishing Laws."
71 " It is enacted and ordained that the vicar or minister of every parish, when the fishing is got, repair to the harbour every morning and evening to read divine service, and to deliver them good monitions, upon pain of every default to forfeit his tithe of fish the following night. And if any person neglect to come to such place where such service is to be read, when the admiral or vice-admiral sets out his flag, such person is to be excluded from the benefit of the fishery that night."-Statutes, anno 1610, 1613, sees. i, ii.
72 This clause was first inserted in the edition of the Manks Common Prayer Book, printed at Whitehaven 1779. "As dy chur er ash, as dy hannaghtyn dooin han-naghtyn ' ny marry.' "
73 Liber Scaccarii, anno 1610, ap. Mills's Ancient Ordinances, p. 502. The herring being a fish of passage, it has been pronounced lawful by the Church of Rome, to employ the Sabbath day in fishing for it. A whole chapter of the Decretals is assigned to the discussion. But the Manksmen do not avail themselves of the liberty granted by the Pope.
74 Townley's Journal, p. 154.
75 Mills's Ancient Ordinances, p. 385.
76 Mavor'e British Tourist, vol. iv, p. 126. The recent failure in the fishery isconsidered by the fishermen as a judgment on them for their unfortunate quarrel with Bishop Murray, respecting the green crop, in which the men of Peel took a violent and tumultuary part.-Teignmouth's Sketches, cap. xx.
77 " For some kill as it has plesit God to oppin ane gret commoditie to the common weill of this realme, threw the fisching of Lochbroume and utheris Loches of the north seyis, and that after that divers strangearis had maist ernistlie required licence of our soverains to fische in the said Loches. Thair majesties thinking the mater partlie to conceive the estait of merchandis, and what skayth might happen gif the sayme were usit be strangearis, ordains that na strangearis of quhatumever nation that be come to saidis Loches, and use the commoditie of the said fisching in any time to cum." On 11th November, 1586, a proclamation was issued against exporting fish until the home market was first supplied. Collectanea de Rebus Albanius, vol. i, part ii, pp. 100, 104.
79 King George III was patron of this society. " It had nearly the same fate as that incorporated in 1749. For a season or two busses were fitted out by the society; but if every herring caught had carried a docket in its mouth, the expense of its capture would have been scarcely repaid. The bubble ended by the society purchasing ground in convenient situations for fishermen and corers settling, and letting them in small lots, building harbours, &c. "-Quarterly Journal of Agriculture, ap. Mac Culloch's Com. Die., edition 1834, p. 649.
80 Mr. Mac Kenzie, in his paper " on the different sorts of herrings," published in the Transactions of the Highland Society of Scotland, vol. ii, states, that since the suppression of smuggling in the Isle of Man, the inhabitants have turned their whole attention to the herring fishery, and have, by degrees, invested their capital in upwards of five hundred large boats. I have before me an account of the number of herring boats belonging to the Isle of Man, as annually returned by the coroner from 5th January, 1799 to 5th January, 1836, and it does not appear that the number in any year within that period exceeded four hundred.
81 " During the last few days, the herring fishery has been singularly productive, nearly all the boats having been successful, and some specially so ; the average take nightly being about forty mease, though some of the boats had as many as a hundred. On Tuesday night, one of the boats had a take which may, perhaps, be considered the most extraordinary in the recollection of the oldest inhabitant. She came in literally overflowing. Our only wonder is how the crew managed to get the teeming net on board. One of the men informed us, yesterday, that the fish, when counted out, just numbered one hundred and sixty mease, that is, ninety-two thousand two hundred herrings at one ' take.' These, if sold at two shillings per hundred, would realize eighty pounds; a tolerably good night's work for seven men."-Manx sun, September, 1844.
82 Quayle's Agricultural Survey, p. 156. Feltham, in his Tour of the Island, made in the year 1797, p. 51, says the fishery then engaged upwards of five thousand men during the most important summer months, which appears also to be an exaggerated statement.
83 Campbell's Political Survey, cap. viii, sec. iii. The commissioners of the herring fishery in the Report, A.D. 1827, recommend the employment of the fishermen in the cod-fishery, during the absence of the herrings, in order that they may become more efficient seamen, by being withdrawn from agricultural pursuits.
84 Mac Culloch's Commercial Dictionary, edition 1834, p. 580. Dr. Smith states that each barrel of merchantable herrings, caught in the year 1759, cost government, in bounties alone, £159 7s. 6d.-Wealth of Nations, edition 1819, vol. ii, p. 333.
85 Smith's Wealth of Nations, London, edition 1819, vol. i, p. 136.