[From Journal Manx Museum vol 2 #40 pp180/182 1934]

The Copper Riots of 1840.

An 'Act for the Assimilation of the Currency of the Isle of Man to that of Great Britain' was passed by Tynwald on the 17th March, 1840. A proclamation was issued on the 4th May, and by the terms of it the Manx copper currency ceased to be current on the 21st September, 1840. It should be explained that in the previous issues, from 1709 to 1813, fourteen, pence went to the shilling [£100 English= £116/13/4d Manx]. About 1830 it occurred to some Englishmen that as the Manx penny could be passed as an English one in Great Britain, it would pay to export them. Anyone who exported £12 of copper would clear £2. This was done, and accordingly the Island was almost deprived of its copper coinage. According to A. W. Moore's History, the Keys threw out a Bill for assimilating the Manx copper currency to the English. But the English Government in 1839 gave orders that a new currency should be issued for the Isle of Man, and pressure was put on Tynwald to pass an Act that these coins should be accepted at the rate of twelve to the shilling. The Manx people thought that they would be defrauded by this arrangement, and serious rioting took place. Soon afterwards all the copper coinage before that date was sent to the Mint through the Customs at its nominal value. Callister's. Holmes, and the Castletown Bank Tokens of Quayle were included.

In order to assist the Government, the High-Bailiff of Castletown issued a Public Notice

[taken from the Bridge House Collection.]

This is worth reproducing as an illustration of the belief in the necessity to ' collogue' the general public at that time.


Having been nearly exhausted, & the Government having refused to comply with the repeated Applications made to them by the Governor and Legislature of the Island, for an Insular Currency, at the rate of 14 Pence for the Shilling British, quantities of base and spurious Coin had crept into Circulation, to the manifest insecurity and liability of fraud to the Public; in consequence whereof the late Act of Tynwald assimilating the Copper Currency of this Island with that of the United Kingdom became unavoidable, and absolutely necessary, and was passed accordingly.

To remove the prejudices that exist in the public mind in favour of the former, and against the present Insular Currency, and to convince them that they have hitherto been losers to a considerable extent, in consequence of the frac-tional parts being invariably exacted from the purchaser, I beg leave to lay before them the following Statement:-

On Saturday   On Monday
1 oz. Tea cost
oz. Coffee
1b. Sugar
1lb. Soap
1 oz. Tobacco .
1 oz. Pepper .
1 oz. Mustard
11d Manks
8d Brt

[tb checked - scanning poor I do not have immediate access to original]

By this statement (to the correctness of which I pledge myself,) it clearly appears that the person purchasing the above Articles, on Saturday, would have returned from the Shop with Three-pence Manks change out of a Shilling, and on Monday he would have received Threepence Half-penny British. The Measures of Tobacco are increased one-sixth, and Candles and all other Articles vended by the Grocers in like proportion. The new Coin is of equal weight and value with the English Coin, and will pass current in England. The impression of the Manks Arms on the Coinage was intended as complimentary, and not meant to confine the circulation to the Island only. When the Currency of Ireland was changed she still retained her Harp. Let not dissension and insubordination deprive Mona of her Legs.


HIGH BAILIFF, CASTLETOWN. Castletown, Sept. 25, 1840. J. Quiggin, Printer. DOUGLAS.

See A. W. M. Hist. p. 415 ; Clay's Currency, Manx Soc. xvii, 1866 ; Crellin's Brass Coinage, Manx Soc. xxx, 1878 ; Nelson's Coinage, 1899.

The riots in Douglas were carried on for several weeks. In Athol-street the front windows of Mr. Matthews, Dr. Garrett, Mr. Wm. Kelly, Mrs. Teare, Mrs. Bateman, the Commercial Bank, and the Catholic Chapel were destroyed. In Duke-street the shops of the Duffs and Laurences suffered. In Great Nelson-street the shops of Bridson and Clague, bakers, had damage done to their property. Why the Catholic Chapel should be involved in the new currency is not explained.


It would appear that the riots in Peel exceeded those in the other towns. Great damage was done on the night of 26th September, particularly to shops. Two of the leaders, Kelly and Clucas, were brought to Castle Rushen. The trial, after lasting seven hours, terminated in the conviction of Kelly as the leader, and Clucas was acquitted.

The authorities declared that the Peel people should bear the cost of the damage, which was assessed at £85/0/5 Brit. The Vicar and Wardens, who were then the only local authority, held various meetings to consider what should be done. Here is their final Report :-

At a Vestry Meeting holden in St. Peter's Church, or Chapel, for the purpose of levying an Assessment to defray the expenses incurred by the riot on the night of Sept. 26, 1840.

We the Vicar and Wardens do find it necessary to assess the parish at the rate of nine shillings and sixpence Brit. (per quarterland) and the Mills and the Town of Peel in proportion and they are hereby assessed accordingly.

The full amount of such damage being fifty eight pounds and fivepence Brit., a statement whereof is hereto annexed.

J. L. Stowell, Vicar. Wardens: Caesar Wattleworth, Henry Graves, John Shimin, John Crellin, John Quine, Caesar Corris.

Thos. Carran, John Crellin, John King, E. R. H. Hinton, Pat Carran, William Woods, Robert Thompson, Robert J. Moore, Robt. Higgins, John Cottier, Robert Kerruish, Thos. Clark, W. Kinley.

Statement of Damages, above referred to:

Robert Clarke


£ l. 4. 0.

Michael Oates


2.0. 0.

Thos. Clarke


3.6. 6.

Edwd. Frissell


7.4. 6.

Jas. Coole


3. 0.

John Crellin


4.10. 6.

P. Carran, Esq.


3.18. 0.

R. Thompson pd


16.9. 8.

P. Clarke


4. 0.

M. Smith


19. 0.

R. Kerruish


8. 2.

J. King


3.9. 8.

H. Hay ?


15. 0.

R. Higgins


6.11. 8.

Thos. Carran Junr.


2.19. 9.

Thos. Carran Esq.


3.16. 6.



£58.0. 5.

The late Mr. J. J. Joughin, who copied the above particulars, says in a note: From the foot-note ` Cess not to be had,' it appears doubtful if these claims were paid. I can find no trace in any of the Church Books of Account that any payments were ever made, excepting R. Thompson's, and that only from the fact that 'Pd.' is marked opposite his name.

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