[From 1911 MacDonnell Inquiry]



" Somerville," Cronkbourne Road,
Douglas, Isle of Man,
25th May, 1911.

and Commissioners appointed to inquire
into Manx Constitution and Reform.


The writer was appointed to represent the
Wesleyan Methodist Church to give evidence before
your Commission, which church is the largest denomination
in the Island amongst the Nonconformists. I
attended on Thursday, 18th inst, and again on
Tuesday, 23rd, by your Secretary's invitation, but was
shut out by your early and somewhat unexpected close
of inquiry at mid-day thereon.

As you have received written statements, I beg
herewith to forward a concise statement of what I
prepared to give verbally, and hope it may be received
and considered by your Commissioners, and so my
responsibility be discharged. As to my bona fides, I
enclose communications from your Secretary, Frank
Elliott, Esq., to whom I spoke on the Thursday; while
I venture to remark you will find some fresh reasons
for the stand and claims we make in these papers.

I am, my Lord and Gentlemen,

Your most humble Servant,


P.S.-May I ask the favourof an acknowledgement
by your Secretary, to produce it to Ministers and
leaders of my church.

Statistics of Wesleyan Methodist Church in Isle of Man.*

Number of chapels and preaching places 69;
accommodation therein for 15,890; number of Sunday
schools 63; number of scholars therein 4,752.

The Church of England, established, has on the
Island only 54 churches or chapels with (including) halls
for preaching.

I.-Objection is made to the Legislative Council, as
non-representative, controlling Manx legislation.

II.-We object to the religious disabilities of Non-
conformists who constitute the major part of

III.-We object to the Lieutenant-Governor's
absolute powers over Police, Appointment of Magistrates, Finance, &c.

I.-Legislative Council.
Present basis :

Three members, one-third, official representatives of Church of England.

Attorney-General and Vicar-General with private practice.

Three High Court Judges.

Suggested basis:-
An Elective Majority.

Exclusion of Church of England official representatives.
Exclusion of Attorney-General, who should be in Representative house.

Exclusion of Judges of High Courts, and thus fewer necessary.

The Legislative Council has been a close corporation
of the Church of England for generations,
consequently Conservative, and is out of touch with
the major part of Manx opinion and sentiment,
specially on Temperance and Social Reform, and
Religious equality. See vols. 17 to 24, &c., of
" Debates in Manx Legislature," wherein it is seen the
Council rejected seven or eight Bills, which had been
passed by House of Keys, on " Graduated scale of
Licensing duties," " Separation of Grocery from
Liquor under Grocers' Licences," "Extending distance
to bonafide travellers to six miles," " Abolition of
Tied Houses," &c.

The Legislative Council made repeated attempts to
re-enact the Permit Bill, originally tentative, which
granted licences to boarding-houses to sell intoxicating
liquor to their lodgers (1897), but rejected by House of
Keys, which was dissolved by Governor therefor. The
new House of Keys again rejected it, when the Licensing
Benches of the Island, in opposition to the House
of Keys. granted the boarding-houses a licence under
another Act, " Short Term -Licences " not enacted for
such a purpose-104 of such granted last year.

The Attorney-General and Vicar-General were
employed by the " Liquor Trade "before their appointments,
as their Counsel, and as such, opposed Bills for
the restriction of " the Trade " when brought before
the House of Keys. It is possible they still may have
a Retainer, for they do a large private practice. It
would be anomalous and inequitable to have such
gentlemen, whose hands may be tied, sitting in judgement
on Temperance Measures in the Council. It is no
wonder that from 1900 to 1900 Temperance Bills passed
by the House of Keys were repeatedly thrown out by
the Council. Several members of the House of Keys,
There are sit other denominations of Nonconformists
on the Island, including' Roman Catholics, which latter
possess five congregations and chapels. With these we are in
agreement - voicing the Temperance Vote-which returns more
than half of its (House of Keys) members-have told
me it is no use trying to pass Temperance and Social
Legislation until the Legislative Council is made
amenable to the public will. Temperance sentiment
was flouted, and the Reform movement was started.

There are 319 liquor licences for the Island, as per last
year's return. Deducting 104 boarding-horse licences
there remains 215, or at the rate of one licence for every
242, persons, including children and abstainers. In
England and Wales on 1st January, 1909, there were
301 persons to each licence, and many closed since
then through compensation.


We demand religious equality in the exclusion of
three members of Legislative Council who represent
the Church of England. We object to two Church of
England chaplains appointed for life and paid out of
Manx Revenue. There are numerous religious
inequalities in regard to burials and fees, &c.-in
fifteen out of seventeen parishes on the Island the only
, though belonging to and supported by the
whole community, being alongside the old parish
church is monopolised by Church of England clergy.

With the present constitution of Legislative Council,
there is no chance of amelioration. The Council is
more powerful than the House of Lords in the United
Kingdom, it is in immediate touch with the Governor
who presides and who consults it, who also exercises
more power than the Crown who appoints him, controlling and initiating finance, &c.


The Governor's powers are too absolute, and should
be modified. He appoints all Magistrates, three-
fourths of whom belong to the church of a minority of
the people-Church of England, and are consequently
Conservative in tendency.

Invariably the Governors appointed are strangers
and ignorant of Manx law, customs and sentiment, and
should therefore have an Advisory Council reflecting
public opinion.

Some of our laws are a dead letter, as the Chief
Constable is appointed by and only amenable to the
Governor for his directions, and the Police move as so
directed. The Children's Act passed last year,
depreciated by the Governor, is ineffective.

Bonafide Traveller Clause on Sundays openly
violated by habitual topers who get drunk after traveling four miles.
Captain Kitto, M.H.K. described
them as a disgrace to a civilized community. The Bishop
in Legislative Council confirmed this. Nothing done.
Disorderly and indecent conduct in free concerts
held in public houses ; reported and condemned by the
Press, even by the " Isle of Man Times," which is
popularly thought to represent the " Trade."

Public meetings were held in protest, and Resolutions
sent to Licensing Bench, &c. No action taken
by police.

Chief Constable stands aloof from Local Authorities
, and is not in touch with Licensing Courts.
Should be made amenable to a Tynwald Court
representing not only the Crown, but the community.

The Governor appoints the High Bailiffs, or on his
nomination they are appointed. They are ex officio, by
virtue of their office, Chairmen of the Licensing Courts
and dominate the other lay Magistrates thereon. Yet
the High Bailiff of Ramsey and Peel is or was Counsel
for the Liquor Trade as stated in other evidence; and
the High Bailiff of Douglas and Castletown was some
years ago Director of a Manx brewery. J. R.
Kennish, M.H.K., vol. 16, page 2`,:1, says, " Licences
" are granted by Benches without consulting the
" community, and with little regard to their wants."
The Licensing Bench, as in England, should appoint its
own Chairman.


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2005