[From Atholl Papers - AP 42B-8]
Atholl House 7th August 1764
I have received the honour of your Lordships letter of the 25th of July, informing me that in pursuance of the Act the 12th George the 1st you are willing to treat with me for the purchase of the Isle of Man.
I am sorry to hear there has been so many complaints of smuggling from thence, which is a practice I give no manner of encouragement to, my revenues arising from a fair duty collected upon the importation of goods.
I have the same ideas with regard to the sale of the Island that the late Duke of Atholl had, who always declared that no temptation of gain could induce him to give up so ancient, so honourable and so noble a birth right ; such as no subject of the Crown of England, now has, or ever had, which has been in our family near four centuries ; and that he thought nothing could be an equivalent to one of his rank and circumstances for so great a patrimony ; at the same time his duty and attachment to the King was such, that if it was esteemed upon a full consideration an important point for his Majesty's service and for the good of the publick ; he in that event was willing to enter into a treaty for the disposal of it, and these are the only reasons that can induce me to do the same.
The purchase of the Isle of Man has been frequently thought of by former administrations, but upon ballancing the advantages and disadvantages which might arise to Government they did not think it proper to treat conclusively upon it, Sir Robert Walpole made some proposals to the late Duke, but afterwards dropt them ; Mr Pelham once seemed very desirous to bring the sale to a conclusion, and the Duke of Atholl gave him a true and precise sate of the nature and revenue of this principality, that he might be able to judge what proposals to make ; and he assured the Duke that no proposal should come from him, which he would not adjudge it if was left to him to settle as an arbitrator, however the affair after being some months in agitation was again dropt. It was resumed in the Duke of Newcastles administration, and in the same manner likewise laid aside.
The reason why neither Sir Robert Walpole Mr Pelham nor the Duke of Newcastle, carried it further was thought to be, that upon thorough examination the object did not appear to them of such consequence as it did at first for supposing it was in possession of the Government the proximity must still be the same, many thousand inhabitants must still have a right to their constitution, laws, administration of justice, and interior trade and commerce ; and it would be in the case of Guernsey, Jersey, sark and Alderney where imports and exports are governed by their own laws as much as if they were under feudatary Lords, and from these Islands they found that smuggleing was carried to a much greater excess than from the Isle of Man (and I am credibly informed that is still the case.)
As I have been but a few months in possession of the Isle of Man, and never in the least turned my thoughts towards a sale of it : it is impossible for me, uniformed as I am at present, to fix upon what I should think an adequate price for a possession so very considerable both for honour and profit ; I can therefore at present have no proposall to make, but will always be ready to receive with respect any proposal which shall come to me from your Lordships.
My Lords Your Lordships most obedient & most humble servant