[Quayle Bridge House Papers]

Document 235 [MS. 510 C]


Traitors to the King of Man:

Impeachment of the Household Officers in 1428

REBELLION and strife, invasion and civil war, were common afflictions of the medieval world ; and judging by the scanty records of Manx affairs of the period, the common people fared as badly here as most of their fellow men.

Not until the powerful dynasty of the Stanleys succeeded to the Lordship of Man was there much evidence of anything approaching effective government and administration as we know them to-day. The remarkable document of 1428, which here for the first time appears in print, helps not only to explain some rather obscure passages in the first Manx Statute Book1 but (far more important than that) it affords specific evidence of some of the difficulties which faced the resolute Stanleys and the Governors appointed by them to administer their island realm.

This document, copied more than two hundred years ago by the industrious John Quayle, Clerk of the Rolls, in his valuable Book of Precedents now preserved in the Library of the Manx Museum, would repay more discussion than our space permits ; but an interesting comment upon it is to he found in the following passage, possibly the summary of Henry Byron (the Governor of the day) at the trial of the Officers :— " Before this time, by misrule and wilfulness of Lieutenants and Receivers, the Laws of Man have been misgoverned (to them that they hated too viperous, and to them that they loved over favourable) so that through their governance the people have been wronged and profit taken to the Lord otherwise than the Law would, for hate and their profit, [and] not done as the law would, for favour.

"Wherefore be it ordained from henceforth that the officers be true principally to the Lord and the law of the Land, and to govern truly between the Lord and His Cmmons, and betwixt party and party without rigorousness, fraud or choler."2

As to the individuals mentioned we know little of them beyond what appears in the document itself. Sacheverell, who was Governor of Man, 1692-94, gives a lively account of John Coate, the principal defendant in the trial ; but he may have based all this on the same source——the parchment roll of 1428 copied later by John Quayle. According to Sacheverell:

" John Coate was at that time Comptroller, one whose education towards the law had given him all the knavish part, without any of the under-standing insolent, drunken, brawling, hare-brained, a blockhead, a zealot, always mistaken, running himself into every man’s business, neglecting his own, worrying the people with his Lord’s authority, hut always to serve his own interests or passions. By the duty of his station, he was to sit judge in these disorders, of which he had been the principal cause ; and, by the Governor’s power, an inquest of four-and-twenty soldiers was sworn, and both the constables, the receiver’s, and several other officers are found guilty, but the comptroller himself much more. This convinced the Lieutenant that the most zealous are not the most disinterested servants; and, as his justice would no more suffer him to protect an ill officer than expose a good one, he took the judgement of the whole cause into his own hands, and, upon the verdict of the inquest. both the receiver’s, both the constables, and the armourer are found guilty, and displaced ; and the comptroller himself no less than nine several articles, of which most were treason, yet was only dismissed his employment."3

In this highly-flavoured passage Sacheverell probably gives quite a fair picture of the anarchic state of administration in the Island which the Stanleys inherited from the turbulent barons and viceroys of the medieval kingdom of Man and the Isles.

In fairness to the strife-loving administrators of the Norse period it must, however, be admitted that hardship and unrest increased a hundredfold after the collapse of Norse authority left the Island defenceless under the misgovernance of its truly ‘ viperous ‘ neighbours.


1 Gill’s edition, I, page 12 and pp. 34-37.

2 Statute Book, Gill’s edition page 12. (The extract given here is somewhat revised.)

3 Manx Society, vol. I, pp. 75-6.

* Clearly much abridged in parts by John Quayle, whose comments are printed in italic type to avoid confusion with the ancient text.


There is a Roll of parchment written over with Presentmts and Impeachments agt the Household officers both at Castle Rushen and at Peele Tryed by Enquest of 24 men at either Castle in Anno 1428, wch is all written in old English thus :—


AN ENQUEST TAKEN AT PEELE before John Cote Compr of Mann by the oathes. . . And so we swore by the Oath we have made to God And to our Lord Sir John Stanley. . . After wch there follows severall presentmts & Impeachments agt the Receivr Compr Constable porters, stewards, &c. as follows


The Constable found to be a Trayter for not searching the Watches at Peele

forasmuch as Thomas of Litherland Sometimes Constable of the Peele in Mann was sworn to keep the Garrison of the Kings of Mann, as he ought to be in place, and searched not the Watch but twice in a Twelvemonth as it is found by xxiiii Sworne men abovewritten. He is a Traytor to the King of Mann by the Laws of Mann.


Soldrs wanting their Armes

Also Gibbon Clark wants a Sheäfe of Arrowes.

Also Jo’ of Mann hath neither Arrows or Dublett.


Women not to come into the Garrison

As to the coming of Women into the Garrison That the Statute is broken, its true, The Constable putts him to Enquest, The Enquest sayes not guilty. Exempt.


The Comptr found guilty for His breach of the Statute forfeits his place & what goods he has in the Island.

And that there was words betwixt the Constable & the Compr about a weeks takeing, so that the Week was not taken till a Week after. The Constable & Comptr puts them to Enquest. The Quest says the Comptr is guilty & the Constable Clear, and therefore the Law is that the said John Coate forfeits all the Goods that he has within Mann with his office & his ffee & wages, for breaking of the Lords Statute under the Seal of his Arms.


The Receivr fforfeits for the like.

And as for the sealing of the mony it was never holden, as to this point The Receivr putts him to the Lords Grace, And therefore the Law is That he forfeits all the Goods he has within the Island & his ffee and wages for breaking our Lords Statutes under the Seal of his Arms.


The Bishop Abbot &c. Tryed for breach of the Statutes.

And foreasmuch as the Bishop & Abbott and ye Receivr ifor seeing of the Treasury it is not done.

The Bpp & the Abbott & the Receiver put them to Enquest.—The Enquest say not guilty.



Before John of ffasekerley Rodger of Ashton & Rodger of Hulton, by. the Oathes of John Porter

John ffietcher . . . And so we say by the Oathes we have made to God and to our Lord Sr John Stanley.


The porter to watch from All-hallowtide to Candlemas.

That John the porter from Allhallowday unto Candlemas in all the winter season that he or his son Watches from the time that the Watch Bell begin to ring unto the time that the first supoer be done in the hail. The Enquest say he ought to do so.


The Constable for strikeinq in the Guard puts himself to the Lord’s Grace.

As also we find misgovernance amongst the officers vizt betwixt. the Constable & Jon porter where the said Constable struck the sd porter in the Gate House. The Constable answers and knowledges & puts him to the Lords Grace.


Pride amongst the officers (A Comtr & a Clark of the Rolls at this time distinctly).

Also we find misgovernance amongst the officers vizt The Receivr The Constable The Comptrollr and the Clark of the Rolls, for there is great hurling & debate amongst them, and all of pride and statelyness, and that will not let them draw all one way and Especially we find the Compr in default, The Receivr says not long of him and that he putts to Enquest. The Constable says likewise and the Compr likewise, and also the Clerk of the Rolls ; The Enquest says the Comptrolr is guilty, & all the rest Clear.


The Constable found guilty of Treason for not keeping due hours in opening and shutting the Gates.

Also we find misgovernance in the Constables office in opening & tyneing of the Gates both early & late in undue time especially in winter time. The Constable putts him to Enquest. The Enquest say Guilty of Treason.


A soldr for not having a Saddle.

Also we find that Thomas of Hasnap hath no sadle, besides severail others presented for ye like.



The Armorer presented and found guilty.

The Armorer presented & found guilty for not keeping the Armoury sufficient.


The Constable for retayling Liquor in his Chamber.

The Constable also for keeping open Taverne in his Chamber on the Walls presented and found guilty &c.


The Constable found guilty of Treason for opening ye Gates without the Capt’s leave.

And forasmuch as the Constable of the Castle Rushen in Mann opened the Gates in the said Castle & went out before day and left them open without the knowledge of the two Captaines made by the King of Mann of the 5d Castle as it is found by 24 Sworn men abovewritten ; The said Constable is a Traytor to the King of Mann by the Laws of Mann.


The Constable not to lye out without the Capts leave.

And that the Capt was to be acquainted if the Constable did lye out of the Castle.


And for staying out after the Watch is set pays jjjjd porters fee.

And the Constable for not coming into the Castle till the Watch was set ; The law in this Case is to pay porters ifees vizt iiij~~.


The Corny for denying to ride abroad to purvey for my Lord, found guilty.

The Comptrollr for denying diverse times to ride abroad with the Receivr about my Lords Busieness for my Lords purveyance, and would not Comptroull it found guilty.


The Compr to be punished at the Lieuts Will for disobeying his orders.

Also the Comptrolr hath broken the Lieuts Charge in not removeing a Swine Sty when he was comanded to do the same. The Compr putts him to my Lords Grace. The Law is for the Lieuts Charge breaking to put him to prisson at the Lieuts own list &c.


The Compr fforfeits Life & Lime for takeing on him to charge horses of the Tennts agt the Lords prerogative.

iforasmuch as John Cote sometimes Compr of Mann made the Moar the Kings officer of Mann to summons ye Kings Tennants to make carriage of Come from Douglas to his own House in Castletown as if it had been the Kings Castle as is found by 24 sworn men abovewritten. That time that he was Comp’~. Therefore he hath iforfeited Life & Limme by the Lawes of Mann for takeing on him the prerogative of the King of Mann.


The Comp’~ for mutining in the Garrison is found guilty of Treason.

John Cote Compr for making debate within the Peele with the Constable & rered all the Garrison each one upon another, Whereas he had neither Watch or Ward to keep the fence &c. is found by the sd Enquest to be a Traytor to the King of Mann by the Laws of Mann.


The Compr found guilty for not sittng with the Receivr at the Receipt of the money.

Also the said Compr hath diverse times upon. the Receipt day risen and gone his way & left the Receivr sitting and hath recd money that hath not been Controwled in the Comptrolr’s default. Its put to Enquest. The Enquest say the Comr is guilty &c.


The Compr & Clerk of the Rolls, two distinct officers, being impeached for willfull wast, fforfeit Body & Goods &c.

Also for that John Cote sometimes Compr of Mann & Ranlin of Boulton sometimes Cleark of the Rolls of Mann, made within the Kings Castle of Mann a Buttery by it self & Butler for them two for their own mouths (without the Buttery for the Garrison) and if a Barrll were drunk under the half, there was no more but to broach afresh to them two and the old given to ye Garrison or els do it away as it is found by 24 men above written ; and so they consumed the Lords Estate. Therefore the sd Compr & Cleark of the Rolls have iforfeited Body & Goods Life & Lime by the Lawes of Mann.


Opening of the Gates after Shuting is Treason.

Also the said Compr & Clerk of the Rolls would be without in the Winter time till the porter was in Bedd at their sport, and then the Constable would make the porter to rise off his Bedd & let them in. The Enquest says they the sd Compr & Clerk of the Rolls and Constable are Traytors to the King of Mann by the Laws of Mann.


The Compr for Imprissoning and Releasing assumes the Lords authority fforfeits Body & Goods.

fforasmuch as John Cote sometimes Compr of Mann beat Wm ffisher within the Castle Rushen of the Kings of Mann, and after that set him in prisson & took him out of prisson and there he presumed the Lords Estate. Therefore the sd John Cote iforfeits Body and Goods Life and Lyme for the sd prissoning &c.


Compr & Clerk of the Rolls are to have but one horse allowance apiece.

The Comptrollr had two horses standing in my Lords Stable at certain times & found upon my Lords hay, he should have been but one.


The Cleark of the Rolls likewise.


The Constable for keeping a Welchman Unsworn in the Garrison is found to be a Traytor.

iforasmuch as Thomas Litherland Constable of Peele in lVIann held a Welchman born at the Peele two years & more unsworn to the King of Mann and his Garrison as is found by the said 24 sworn men. Therefore the said Thomas Litherland is a Traytor to the King of Mann by the Laws of Mann.


These are the points that the Lieut Charges the Great Enquest to Enquire:

My Lord to be first served of fforraigne Goods That is to say of salt of Brittaine shipps how it was bought & to what use ; The Enquest says that my Lord was served of as much ~ as was bought to his use and that his Counsele thought reasonable.


Concerning the Lords provissions That there be no wast.

Also that they enquire of Wheat & Malt going to & from the Milne how it is spent &c. & such like other defaults of the Household provission if there be any such default.


The Constable for intertaining two Scotts in the Garrison is found to be a Traytor.

iforasmuch as Thomas Litherland Constable of Peele took into the sd Garrison two Scotts & made them sport as he list as is found by the sd 24 sworn men abovewritten.

Therefore the said Thomas is a Traytor &c.


Waterbayliff to search the Havens.

Also that they enquire whether the Waterbayliff have done his office in searching the havens or not.

ag Extorcon

Also that they enquire of my Captaines, if they any Extorcon ~ have taken and to what value & of whom. The Enquest say they know not.

Memdu there is some other orders written in ~a~er (called household orders) about the porters Brewers Maltmen &c. when the Castles were at Dyett wch are only Instructions concerning the Household provissions.

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