[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #3 1917-1923]



1st May, 1919.

The annual address to be delivered to this Society by the retiring President should, I take it, be on either an Antiquarian or a Natural History subject. I feel, therefore, that I owe an apology to the Society, for what I am going to put before you to-day can hardly be said to belong to either of these subjects. I have only been a member of this Society for a short time, and I feel that although I have always been much interested in the subjects with which this Society is concerned, I have not really been a serious student of them, and my knowledge of them has been gained in rather a desultory way, and I have dipped into them only occasionally. I said so when it was proposed to elect me President, and urged that it would be better to elect someone more fully equipped for the position; of whom I am sure there are many among the members. I was, therefore, somewhat taken aback when I found the position"involved an address-I presume a scientific address-to a Society many of whose members not improbably had a fuller knowledge of the subjects than I had myself. To write a paper on either Archaeology or Natural History satisfactorily the writer ought, I think, to have studied his subject seriously, to be, as it were, steeped in it, and not to be a mere dilettante. And how great is the demand for deep and continuous study, in the realm of Natural History at least, we may gather from a story I was told many years ago of a certain scientist who had spent the major part of his working life on elucidating the mysteries of the hind leg of a frog, or I am not sure now whether it was not that of an even smaller animall Feeling thus my inability to produce anything on one of these subjects worthy of the occasion I had to cast about for something which at least might be interesting to members and worthy of their attention for a few minutes. On the suggestion of my friend, Mr. Cubbon, I have looked through and determined to give you some excerpts from old manuscripts which t have bearing on social and political questions in the Isle of Man many years ago. They are certainly not Natural History, and they can hardly be called Antiquarian, as they belong only to the beginning of the 18th century or thereabouts. It is rather interesting to compare them with the present and to observe how some of the questions have cropped up in much the same form in our own day.

The first one which I shall mention is a discussion between Governor Horne and the House of Keys on the subject of the defence of the Island, which he thought had not been properly safeguarded, and is dated 1715. Within the last few years the same question has had rather a foremost place in the thoughts of Englishmen, to say nothing of this Island. The opening of the proceedings appears to be an address by the Governor in Tynwald Court at St. John's. It was headed 'St. J's Chapell, 18th Aug., 1715,' and begins: -'Gentlemen, you are no strangers to the apprehensions our neighbouring kingdoms are under of a disturbance which lays them under a necessity of making necessary preparation for defence. We lye in the midst of them, and consequently areas much concerned to preserve our little as they are their abundance. These considerations have moved me to call you together this day to consider if it be not necessary that we should at this time appear in a condition even to defend ourselves from resolute though unarmed men. You ought to be concerned for the public security, and you have more reason than I have (being a stranger- amongst you) to know your own condition in these cases without repeating it, Mine has been to know what order our garrisons are in; indeed I must say I yet never saw anything that bore that name so slenderly provided for with arms.'

History repeats itself, From Lord Jellicoe's report we may gather that the preparation of the Fleet on many points when the war began would have been calculated to excite Gov. Horne's surprise had he been here.

He continues: 'This consideration (notwithstanding what speculations others might have) induced me to call in the arms belonging to them which I found dispersed throughout the country in a condition I am sorry to mention, and these arms undoubtedly were given out in good order, and it's as reasonable they should be returned in the same condition, and they are but too few for the use of the garrisons, where they ought to remain. Now, gentlemen, if it so happen (which I Pray God to avert) that the people of the Isle should happen to suffer either in their persons or-goods for want of such arms and ammunition as is necessary for themselves, that it may not be an imputation laid to the charge of the Government, I desire you will consider with me and the rest of the Councill proper means for raising money to supply these defects after such manner as has been accustomed in cases that have not perhaps been more emergent, or, considering your circumstances at this time to what it has been formerly when your tenures were not so certain, I should think this motion might have come first from yourselves; when I have made this observation to you I hope any ill consequences that may happen will not be laid to my charge if the thing be neglected by you.

20th Oct., 1715.

Then comes another speech by the Governor in the Tynwald Court, but it is not dated from St, John's Chapel as the first is. It commences: -

'Gentlemen, the last time we met to consider of supplying the country with arms and ammunition you were of opinion that there was no necessity for it; whether you did not think the times dangerous, or what other considerations moved you, is best known to yourselves.'

Here, again, we hear something which reminds us of controversies and opinions which have been current in England during the last few years

'But,' he continues, 'it was my duty to take care of the preservation of the country on these occasions as I was in like manner obliged to acquaint His Lordship with your resolutions on that head, which I have done, and at the same time sent His Lordship copies of such rules as have been observed formerly upon such occasions within the Island, upon which I find His Lordship not a little surprised that a matter so plain and so often practised before should meet with any scruple, and imputes it to a want of due examination. Let us now consider former precedents in these eases as well as the Clause in the Act of Settlement. that does not exempt the inhabitants from providing armes and ammunition but leaves the quality and manner of raiseing these supplys to our consideration. Now, gentlemen, I must observe to you that this part of the Act of Settlement is as essential as any other part thereof, and I hope there will be no occasion for contesting it, and I believe you are all convinced that the disturbances in our neighbouring kingdoms is no amazement, and that therefore we ought at least to provide for the preservation of our persons and goods, if otir allegiance to the Crown of England and our duty to our Honourable Lord and Master be not as good arguments the times are too perillous to use delays, and, therefore, I would have your resolution on the affair with such expedition as the circumstances of the matter require, that I may discharge my duty in putting the Island in a necessary posture of defence or give His Lordship the reason why it is not,


After this renewed appeal of the Governor that something should be done, there comes a reasoned reply from the Keys. It is dated November 23, 1715, and begins:-

' Worshipful Governor,-We have so often been variously and falsely alarmed with Insurrections and Descents in Scotland of late years that it was reasonable for us at our meeting in August last to think we might not be in so great danger as you then supposed; and we should now believe ourselves in, more but for the intire Victory it has pleased God to give His Majesties forces last week at Preston, and that your Worship has not with ammunition replenished the garrisons which are allowed to have always been at the Lords Expense.

'We do hope if we were so happie as to have our honourable Lord amongst us to view our records and hear all we have to offer in relation to our finding arms and ammunition he would not be surprised at our backwardness therein, for from what papers were shewn us it does not appear that the people or tenants of this Isle before the time of the late civil wars contributed to any armament saving a paper or schem of what was expected the Clergie should have in readiness bearing date 1587, from which little can be inferred as having neither Lords Officers or twenty-four Keys hands to it, and whatever they did at any time since was voluntary, declaring there was no Law to oblige them, and that the same should not be drawn as a President.

'It is allowed when His Lordship's grandfather of worthy memory was deprived of his estate in England and obliged to retire hither with his numerous family that several Levys were by consent of the twenty-four Keys made for his and the country's defence, some whereof His Lordship contributed, too, to others promised repayment when it pleased God to bless him with his estate again which yet lyes unsatisfied to this day, but His Lordship (God be praised) not being soe reduced will not now we hope expect such supplies, any more than the King of England will that His Lordship and other gentlemen whose ancestors maintained their whole troops and companys at their own charge should do so now, and hence it was, that notwithstanding the compliances then by the twenty-four Keys, His Lordship's noble father and brother constantly since have us with ammunition furnished and repaired the arms, and for that end and purpose allowed a standing sallary for two armourers as their ancestors had always done, which most of us yet do well remember, and may clearly appear from the yearly charge of the Revenues allowed and accepted by them.

`And give us leave to inform your Worship that anciently our honorable Lords Ancestors had only half the present yearly rents out of our Estates and Holdings, and in consideration that the Lord ever after was to maintain and provide for the garrisons, the said yearly rents were doubled, and the inhabitants always (so oft as occasion required) were supplied with arms and ammunition out of the said garrisons, and when the sallary of the Military and Civil Lists are taken out of the former half, together with the ammunition, etc., and add the generall and droping fines with the great increase in the Customes, His Lordship may plainly see how very much more he has yearly than ever his illustrious Ancestors had, and what a great deal more reason His Lordship has to furnish arms and ammunition for the defence of his Island.

'The Clause at the foot of the Act of Settlement we deny not to be essentiall to the said Act, but it lays no new obligation on the people and is no more than a saying such should not be construed to free and discharge the inhabitants; which, as we have formerly answered Anno 1708, we are willing to comply with in giving our best assistance according to what most accustomed, and still intended, namely, our personal Aid, and that without Pay, Close, or Provission, wherein we shall always be ready to witness our due allegiance to the Crown of Great Britain and our endeavours for the safety and defence of the Isle whenever you think fit to head us.

'We have much more to offer on this matter which would be tedious for His Lordship to read neither can he form so true a judgment of it unless His Lordship saw all papers relating thereunto and heard the arguments that might thereupon arise, together with a more perfect knowledge of circumstances, all which His Lordship can best judge of when among us, which your Worship has told us was intended as soon as conveniently might be, when these Laws we have so often prayed for of His Lordship may also be considered as His Lordship has been graciously pleased to promise us together with the priveledges of the twenty-four Keys.

'And for the better Security of the publick in these unsettled times we again humbly request your Worship to join with us in praying His Lordship that he will be graciously pleased to fill the vacant posts in the Government as usual and especially the Deemsters as well for the Honour of His Lordship, and the Ease and Safety of the people, as for preserving the ancient form and constitution of the Government.'

It is somewhat interesting to notice the signatures to this document of 1715. It is signed by 23 members, There are 2 Corletts, 5 Christians, 2 Wattleworths, 2 Moores, 2 Stevensons, a Tyldesley, a Banckes, 2 Curgheys, a Fargher, a Radcliffe, an Oates, a Lace, a Harrison, and a Garrett. Most of these names have their representatives among us yet.

This document finishes up with a declaration of the Bishop and Clergy of the Island. It is headed:-

' At Castletown, November 23, 1715,

'We the Bishop, Vicars General, and the rest of the Clergy of the Diocese of Mann in convocation assembled, having perused and considered the Honorable Governor's Letter, together with the papers and records laid before us, do with all becoming deference take leave to assure His Honour that we shall cheerfully contribute towards the generall Defence of the Country by giving such assistance for that service as (regard being. had to what our predecessiors have done) shall bear a proportion with the rest of fhe Inhabitants of the Island.'

This is signed by Bishop Wilson, two Vicars General, and eleven of the Parish Clergy.

Another short and rather interesting paper refers to disabilities laid upon aliens coming into the Island. They are not Germans who are referred to, as we might now imagine, but Scotsmen and Irishmen. There is no date to the MSS, but there are references in the margin to the Liber scaccarius dating from 1582 to 1606. It is headed:-

'Alians and their Restraints wherein are included all strange Pedlers and Chapmen that go through the country Vending and Buying Wares.' It says

'It hath been an ancient prerogative and as yet an established Law that if any Scotsman or Irishman or any other alian residing in this isle, unless they be sworn unto the Lord and to the Isle, who are to pay a certain sum of money; for an acknowledgement of their Freedom, unto the Lord, and Dye without making that Faith and Fealty unto the Lord, His Lordship is to have their goods, whose tennants soever they be; and if any such alian make a Testament or otherwise dispose of his goods, it shall stand of no Force in the Law. And if the Spiritual Court presume to grant administration on any such ineffectual Will or Testament the Governor or the Lord's Officers may impose a Fine upon them for actin contrary to the Lord's Prerogative.

'And it is to be understood that an Englishman is not to be reputed an alian; but if any shall affirm him so to be, or forge or devise anything to mention the same, and be thereof Lawfully convicted, shall be proceeded against as a Traytor. Also, if an alian that hath made no Faith or Fealty as aforesaid shall in any wise be foringed for Felony, whether it be Theft in Hand or out of Hand found: and before the verdict be given or any acknowledgement thereof made; He put himself to the Lord's Grace, the Lord need not receive him to Grace if he list by the laws of Mann: But if he hath made such Faith and Fealty, and be indicted without any manner in his hand, or the verdict be given; and put him then to Grace he ought to have his Life; but he must forfeit his goods, and then shall have his Choice of three things; first, he shall choose whether he shall live in Prison a year and a day with Sustenance of the prison, that is to say Bread made one part Meal and another Chaff of that Meal, and third part of Ashes, and Drink of the water neat the Prison Door; secondly, to forswear the Lord and his Land, or else, thirdly, to pay 111 to the Lord.

`And if any such alian be found irregular and guilty of any crime they are not to be committed into the Bishop's Prison, but in the Moore's Tower, or where else the Governor shall order. And that no alian coming to any Port or Haven in this Isle with merchandize or other wares shall pass abroad into the Land no further than the next Parish Church, upon pain to forfeit their goods, and their Bodys to be imprisoned (except they come in with one Tyde and go out with the next) or else, first repair to the Governor or his Deputy to shew the cause of their coming into the country, and (if they be Pedlars or Chapmen) to crave that they may have their weights and measures sealed and allowed, that the country people may not be defrauded by their dealings; but that their measures may concurr with the Country Standards-, and if any such Pedlars be found guilty of those crimes, they are to be Fined and Punished at the Governor's discretion and be Disabled from any further Dealings either in Buying or Selling within this Isle.'

In these old MSS. we get glimpses of the questions which agitated the people of that time, and of the difficulties which they had to overcome. In the first one which I read we see the old difficulty as to the defence of the country, a question which has been before the English nation much, and in an acute form, for several years now. There is a difference, however, to be seen in the attitude taken up in the two cases in England of late years there has been great complaint that a number of people have been opposed to proper defence being provided for the country; in this case apparently they all agreed that proper defence should be provided; what they did not agree upon was who should provide it ; they each thought that the other party should pay. That is not a state of mind which is entirely unknown in the present day! Again, the position the Keys took up rather reminds one of the fable of the boy and the wolf. They had been so often promised that they would be attacked that they thought they might take it easily and not disturb themselves about it too much. There has been something of the same thing in England of late years up to the time war really came. They had been threatened with it so often that they thought they might treat it as a non-existent danger. Upon reading Governor Horne's second speech over again, I see I have put it rather too strongly in saying that they were all agreed that defences should be provided; the Keys seem to have been of opinion that it was unnecessary; but if it was necessary, they were strongly of opinion that the Earl should provide them. It is rather amusing how the Keys summed up the increase of his income and thought that settled the question; but apparently the Earl did not view the argument quite in the same light! Certainly there does not seem to have been any altruistic rush to see which could do most for their ,country. In the second MS. I think we may see that the Manx of those days were quite opposed to the idea of 'peaceful penetration ' by aliens, though they were not Germans, but Irish or Scotch. It would have been well if in later days the inhabitants of our Islands had been more alive to the dangers which might arise from 'peaceful penetration ' by foreigners than they have been.

There is much that is of interest in these old MSS. ; their quaint phraseology, their spelling-they allowed themselves great licence in their spelling, according to our ideas of how words should be spelt; the fact is, I suppose, that spelling had hardly got definitely fixed in those days-and the peeps into Human Nature which we get. I said at the beginning of this paper that one of the subjects allowable for this address was Natural History. It has been said that `the proper study of mankind is man,' so perhaps I can claim that it has had a slight affinity with one of the subjects which are the objects of this Society's work,

The subjects of our thoughts this afternoon are but about 200 years old-quite recent in comparison with the Keeills and other relics and remains of many centuries ago which this Society tells us about, and in some instances shows us in our summer excursions-but I hope members are not so entirely wrapped up 'in the hoary records of the long distant past that they are unable to bring their minds down to and take an interest in the comparatively modern and commonplace records of only two centuries ago.

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