[Appendix B(62) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]
The EXAMINATION of Mr. WILLIAM CLAGUE, Acting Collector and Riding Officer, in the Port of Derbyhaven in the Isle of Man, taken at Douglas, the 14th and 19th of October 1791.
This Examinant saith, That he is Acting Collector at the Port of Derbyhaven, and has been since the year 1771, in virtue of a written appointment from Mr Lutwidge, the late Receiver General. He does not think he gave security as Collector. He does not think that he got any written or printed instructions as Collector. He was not instructed in the duty of a Collector before or since his appointment as such.
He has no salary as Collector ; but he has received fees according to the practice before he came into office, which fees, in the year 1790, amounted to twenty-eight pounds nine shillings and ten pence, out of which he paid the Acting Controller his proportion, as settled by the late Receiver General, being twelve pounds thirteen shillings and three-pence, and retained the rest. That he receives no gratuities.
The officers in his port are, a Controller, a Searcher, and three Tidesmen, who are also Boatmen. The Acting Collector and Searcher, and one Tidesman or Boatman, reside at Castletown ; one Tidesman or Boatman resides at the Green nearly halfway betwixt Castletown and Darbyhaven, and he too resides there that he may be ready to come either to Castletown or go to Darbyhaven, as he may be wanted, and also to watch the coast. The Tidesman at the Green has a farm ; and the Controller, who has a farm, and the third Tidesman or Boatman, reside at Darbyhaven .
His duty as Collector is to receive masters reports inwards and outwards, and merchants entries of their goods, and to grant warrants to the searcher for unshipping or shipping the goods entered, and to collect the duties upon such goods, and to pay over the same to the Deputy Receiver General, which he does quarterly with copies of his quarter books attested by him and the Controller, which quarter books contain an account of all goods entered inwards and outwards.
Since the death of Mr. Lutwidge, no person or officer whatever has compared the report books, entries inwards and outwards, and warrants, with the books of entries, to see that all the duties on the goods reported, entered, and discharged have been brought to account in such books.
The goods landed always agree as to quantities with the warrants, which warrants are endorsed by the searcher ; but it sometimes happens that a ship-master omits a parcel, now and then,
In his report, which of course is not included in the merchants entry ; and when this happens, the parcel is secured in the store house, but not seized ; and when the merchant applies, it is admitted to a new entry, or added to the former entry.
No certificates of return for drawback or bondable goods imported from Great Britain are ever granted till the searcher endorses the warrants as to the landing of the goods, nor are any goods cleared outwards till the Searcher certifies the shipping of the goods upon the back of the Warrants.
No blue books are ever given for keeping an account of goods shipped or unshipped, except ; for salt imported, for the delivery of which blue books are directed to the Tidesmen stationed in the vessel, who keeps a tally-stick during the discharge, and makes a notch on it for each half barrel of salt delivered ; and when the discharge is finished, he inserts the number of notches on his tally stick in the blue book, and gives it to the Searcher, who from the quantity contained in such book endorses the quantity landed on the back of the warrant The Searcher takes no account of salt landed, except it should happen that the Tidesman goes to victuals, or is called upon other business during the landing, in which cases the Searcher keeps the account of the quantity of salt discharged till the tidesman returns. In order to ascertain the quantity of salt landed, one of the half barrels is frequently weighed during the discharge, and from the medium weights thereof, the calculation of the weight of the total number of half barrels landed is made. That the quantity of salt landed does not fall short of the quantity in the cockets more than what is allowed for waste, but he has known it once or twice to be more than on the cocket by a few pounds only.
The Tidesman only continues on board salt vessels during the time salt is discharging, but not in the night.
The Tidesmen board all vessels as soon as they can get on board ; but the boat has been out of repair for same months past, owing to her having been lent, as he is informed by the Searcher, by the Chief Boatman to some Person, on which occasion the was damaged. The Tidesmen continue on board, night and day, such vessels as import goods liable to duty, where there is suspicion of fraud ; but when there is no suspicion, they only keep watch by turns, in the Tidemen's house, when the vessels are at Castletown, which house upon the side of the quay there ; and when the vessels are at Darbyhaven, they keep watch by turns in the watch house there. Coals is a chief article of trade at Castletown and Darbyhaven, and the duty is received according to the quantity in the cocket, if the whole is discharged , and if only part is landed, the duty is taken according to the quantity the master reports to be landed , but no officer is stationed on the vessel, nor does any officer take an account of the quantity landed
Herrings are exported from Darbyhaven not only to foreign parts, but also to Great Britain, but the quantity of white is very small, most of the herrings exported being red the merchant makes his entry, and a warrant is then granted to the Searcher for the shipping and when that warrant is returned endorsed, and an oath made by the exporter as to the amount shipped, and that the herrings were caught and cured by the inhabitants of the Isle of Man and taken on the coasts thereof, the vessel is cleared out When the herrings are exported to foreign parts, the bounty is payable upon certificates from the Collector and Controller, founded upon the curer and exporter's oath, and the Searchers endorsement as to the quantity shipped , and when exported to Great Britain white, which is seldom the case, a bounty of one shilling per barrel is payable upon the like oath of the curer, and certificate of the Collector and Controller founded upon the Searcher's certificate of shipping ; and that this bounty of one shilling is only paid at the end of the season ; and after the fish are exported.
Wool, in one or two instances, and sheep once, have been exported to England from Darbyhaven , and in these cases bonds were taken for the due landing thereof in Great Britain, and certificates were returned that they were so landed in Great Britain , which certificates agreed with the Custom-house books at Darbyhaven, and the bonds were cancelled. No wool or sheep have ever been shipped coastwise within the district of Darbyhaven.
Vessels are registered at Darbyhaven, and before such vessels are so registered they are admeasured by Richard Querk, an officer appointed by the Governor for that purpose, whose certificate of her built and dimensions is delivered to the Custom-house before granting the certificate of registry, and prior to that bond is taken agreeably to the register act
No licences for vessels at Darbyhaven have been applied for from the Admiralty since the registering act took place, but if they were, such vessels would be admeasured by the officer above mentioned appointed by the Governor
Smuggling prevails very much at Port Iron, and there is no officer stationed there, nor would a single officer be of any use without the aid of military, as he has found by experience; for when an officer was stationed at Port Iron some years ago without such assistance, he was either confined or made drunk by the smugglers till the smuggling was over.
The chief articles of smuggling into this island are brandy, geneva, and tea, and at times, but rarely, some tobacco.
He is clearly of opinion, that if two honest, active, sober officers were stationed at Port Iron, with the assistance of military, and with orders not only to guard that place but frequently to visit other creeks, such as Dauby, Fleswick, and Port Le Murry, particularly in the night time, which are also smuggling places, smuggling might be very much checked, provided the creeks of the other ports in the island had also proper officers and military appointed to guard them, and to ride the country.
He is of opinion, that smuggling of salt out of the Isle of Man is great. :
This examinant is also Riding Officer at Darbyhaven in virtue of a constitution of the Lords of the Treasury, dated in 1765 ;that he took the oaths of office as such at Douglas, and gave security at Whitehaven ;that he has a Commission from the Board of Customs, and instructions for his conduct.
He has a salary as Riding Officer of forty pounds. per annum, but receives no fees or gratuities in that capacity : his district is from Dauby to Kirk Santon, being a distance of about fifteen miles directly across the country, and about thirty miles round the coast.
Some years ago he used to ride once a week, or once a fortnight to Dauby, and once the next week or fortnight to Kirk Santon, Port Iron, and the other places within his District, but of late years, particularly within these eighteen months, he has rode seldom, owing to his bad state of health.
That he has made several seizures, and been concerned in others, particularly five or seven chests of tea and five pipes of brandy several years ago, upon his information, and he was also present at making the said seizures. A vessel called the Dandy was seized at Port Iron upon his information about three years ago. and carried to Liverpool and sold, and he got from Mr. Wilson, Deputy Receiver General, forty pounds as his share ; and he seized within this fortnight thirty five anchors of Geneva in an open outhouse near Darbyhaven ; and he also made other seizures some years ago, the particulars of which he does not now recollect. He does not apprehend that for many years past goods exported from Great Britain for foreign parts have been re-landed in the Isle of Man ; nor does he know of any instance within these late years where merchant vessels homeward bound have run articles into this island
That he keeps a journal, and used to send quarterly returns thereof to the Deputy Receiver General ; but that for these eighteen months past, owing to his bad state of health, he has not sent any return to Mr Wilson He constantly keeps a horse.
This examinant farther saith, that he is Deputy Water-bailiff by appointment of Mr. Savage and he has a salary of five pounds per annum for that office from Mr. Savage, but he has other emoluments in virtue of this appointment he is one of the Commissioners for managing the harbor dues.
James Webb, Searcher at Darbyhaven, is Pier Master at Castletown, and is, as he believes, appointed by Mr. Wilson, Deputy Receiver General, and collects all the harbour dues there and at the other places within the port of Darbyhaven, and has five per cent. for what he collects but he believes no salary.
[FPC - William Clague died 3 March 1793 aged 62 and is buried in Arbory.