[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
To the same.
IN addition to what is said of the House of keys in the third letter, page 33, I now send some farther remarks, with their names, date of election, and residence; some observations on their laws, and the ceremony adopted in their promulgation; together with an account of the principal estates in each parish.
In 1450 a House of Keys was elected by the people, but soon after they elected themselves, and they continue so to do. From the decrees and judgments of the Governor, and the determination of the Keys, an appeal lies to his Majesty in council. Appeals may be had in causes of so low a value as five pounds.
They were anciently called Taxiaxe; and Mr. Vallancey, in a letter to Mr. More, of Douglas (whose politeness I here acknowledge), remarks, that " in the Gaedhlic, taisce is a pledge or hostage; and aisce, a trespass. Query, therefore, were they not obliged to cover themselves as hostages to the lord, for the trespasses committed by their clans, in the same manner as the Duinne taguof the ancient Irish ?"
The House of Keys appear to have been always jealous of their rights. They have uniformly opposed any thing that they conceived militated against them in parliament.
The people look up to them as the guardians of their property and rights; and it does not appear that they have ever forfeited their confidence. One remarkable instance I shall beg leave to state to their honour.
So uncertain was the state of property, that in 1643, from the fraud of a deemster, the people were prevailed on to surrender their estates, under the idea that they held merely as tenants at will The deemster and lord's officers led the way, gave up their estates, and accepted leases for lives of their estates of inheritance; the people followed their example. The deemster, however, obtained a restoration of his estate by an act of Tynwald, and the people found themselves deceived.
The Keys stepped forward, acted with firmness, and in 1703 obtained the Act of Settlement, which did away with these proceedings and restored the violated tenures.
1752. John Taubman, Esq.; Speaker, Castletown
1767. William Callow, Esq.; Cloughbane.
1773. Samuel Wattleworth, Esq.; Knock-Rushen.
1774. John Stevenson, Esq.; Largadoo.
1774. Philip Moore, Esq.; Poolvash.
1775. William Cubbon, Esq.; Balla-Callin.
1775. William Christian, Esq.; Balla-Younage.
1777. John C.Curwen, M.P. Workington-Hall, Cumberland.
1779. George Quayle, merchant, Castletown.
1779. John Cosnaghan, attorney, Douglas.
1781. Thomas Allen, Esq.; Balla-Varrey.
1782. John Taubman, major, Nunnery.
1788. Richard Symonds, merchant, Douglas.
1790. James Brew, farmer, Kelly
1791. Thomas Kirwan, Esq.; Castletown.
1791. John Harrison, Esq.; Cooilbane.
1793. Thomas Gawne, attorney, Douglas.
1793. Daniel Tillet, captain, Ballenemona.
1793. John Corlett, Esq.; Ramsay.
1794. Norris Moore, attorney, Castletown.
1794. James Kelly, attorney, Castletown,
1795. James Quirk, Esq.; Knockaloe.
1795. Thomas Christian, captain, Raynoldsway.
1795. William Quillin, M.D. Parville.
In all twenty-four.
The above act of settlement, passed February 4th, 1703, which, with an act explanatory thereof, promulged the 6th of June, 1704, will be found at length in Mr. Stowell's new edition of the Statutes of the Isle, 1797, 8vo.
The inhabitants esteem these acts as their Magna Charta, as they form the basis of the tenure of the lands and hereditaments, and the true security of the real estates and premises within the isle.
Among the laws of the island we find the following, some of which are singular:
" No action of arrest shall be granted against a landed man, or native within this isle, to imprison or hold him to bail, unless he has obtained the governor's pass, or that there is some other just cause to believe he designs to go off the island; and that any person prosecuted for a foreign debt by an action of arrest, shall be held to bail only for his personal appearance to such action, and for the forthcoming of what effects he hath within this island."
" If any man die, the widow to have one half of all his goods, and half the tenement in which she lives during her widowhood, if his first wife; and one quarter, if the second or third wife. The eldest daughter inherits, if there be no son, though there be other children."
" If a man get a maid with child, and then within a year or two after doth marry her, such child is judged to be legitimate by our laws."
" Persons beating another violently, beside punishment and charges of cure, are fined 10s. But if the person so beat used upbraiding and provoking language so as to cause such beating, they are to be fined 13s. 4d. and to be imprisoned."
An ancient ordinance says, " There ought to be Corbes pertaining to a man, as if his father have a pan, the son to have it; or else his best jack and mallet; bow and arrows (commuted by stat. of 1748 1 for the modern weapons of war), his best board, and best stool; his courter and rackentree; his best cup, if it be wood and bound with silver and gilt; his best chest. For a woman, the best wheel and cards, rackentree; a sack, or else a Manks spade; the best bead of jet or amber; the best broach; the best cross; the best pot or pan."
" If any men take a women (Temporal custom. laws, 1577) by constraint, or force her against her will; if she be a wife he must super the law for her; if she be a maid or single woman, the Deemster shall give her a rope, a sword, and a ring, and she shall have her choice, either to hang with the rope, cut off his head with the sword, or marry him with the ring. Report says that every complainant has been lenient, except one, who presented the rope; but relented on the prisoner being tucked up, and desired he might be let down She then presented the rings but the man replied, " That one punishment was enough for one crime; therefore he should keep the ring for some future occasion."
Wives have a power to make their wills (though their husbands be living) of one half of all the goods; except in the six Northern parishes, where the wife, if she has had children, can only dispose of a third part of the living goods. Tradition says, the South-side ladies obtained this superior privilege, by assisting their husbands in a day of battle.
Executors of spiritual men have a right to the year's profits, if they live till after twelve o'clock on Easter-day.
They retain, the usage (observed by the Saxons before the Conquest) that the Bishop, or some priest appointed by him, do always sit in their great court along with the governor, till sentence of death (if any) is to be pronounced; the Deemster asking the jury, instead of guilty or not guilty-Vod fir charree soie? which is, " May the man of the chanced or he that ministers at the altar, continue to sit ? "
Mortgages must be recorded within six months; and by the laws of the island, all mortgagees are empowered, at the expiration of five years from the date of their mortgage, to take possession of the lands granted in mortgage, and retain the same until the mortgage is paid off, setting the lands yearly by public auction, and crediting the mortgager with the rent. Notwithstanding which the mortgager has a right at any time to pay off the mortgage within twenty-one years.
In 1591, among other articles to be inquired of at the then next consistory court, were the following:-
" That the Queen's Majesty's injunctions are to be read in their churches.
" That they inquire of and present if there be any in this isle that do use witchcraft or sorcery.
" Also, all such as carry bells or banners before the dead, or pray upon the graves of the dead."
Their criminal code of laws do not provide against many offences committed in the present times; but I doubt not but the House of Keys will soon " extend to the public, those blessings which shall arise from improved laws, administered with purity, under a correct and energetic system of police, and applicable to the present state of society."
The annual mode of promulgating the laws is at the Tynwald Hill This mount is supposed to be a Danish barrow. Ting signifies a court of justice; and ward, fenced. The spot where the parliament met in Ireland bore the sane name.2
And at Castletown, the Governor, Council, Deemsters, and Keys, when assembled, constitute a Tynwald Court.
The following is a recent account of the forms observed at the Tynwald Hill.
Agreeable to ancient custom, every parish sent four horsemen, properly accoutred; and the captain of every parish presided over those of his own district. About eleven o'clock the cavalcade arrived at St. John's, where the Duke of Athol was received by the clergy and keys, and saluted by the fencibles; he then went in state to the chapel, where an excellent sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Corlett, the worthy and learned vicar of Kirk-German.
After service followed the procession of state. The fencibles were drawn up in two lines, from the chapel-door to the Tynwald Hill; and the procession passed betwixt the two lines, in the following order:
1, The clergy, two and two, the juniors first.
2. The Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man.
3. The Vicars General.
4. The two Deemsters.
5. Major Taubman, sword-bearer.
6. HIS GRACE THE DUKE-OF ATHOL
7. The Lieutenant-Glovernor.
8. The Clerk of the Rolls.
9. The twenty-four Keys, two and two.
10. The Captains of the different parishes.
As soon as his Grace had ascended the hill, he was seated, under the canopy, in his chair of state. The Deemsters then proceed in the customary business of the day:-but for this and the order of the court, we present the following extract from the ancient statute relating to this business:-
" This is the constitution of old time how the Lord should be governed on the Tynwald day: first he is to come thither in his royal array, as the Ring ought to do, by the prerogatives and royalties of the land of Man, and upon the Tynwald Hill sit in a chair covered with a royal cloth and cushions, and his visage to the east, and sword before him, holden with the point upwards, his barons in the third degree sitting beside him, and his beneficed men and deemsters before him, and his clerks, knights, esquires, and yeomen about him, and the worthiest of the land to be called in before the deemsters, if the lord will ask anything of them, and to hear the government of the land and the lord's will, and the commons to stand without the circle of the hill with three clerks in their surplices, and the deemsters shall call in the coroner of Glanfaba, and he shall call in all the coroners of Man, and their rods in their hands, and their weapons upon them, either sword or axe, and the moars of every sheading; then the chief coroner, that is, the coroner of Glanfaba, shall make a fence upon pain of life and limb, that no man shall make any disturbance, or stir, in the time of Tynwald, or any murmur or rising in the King's presence, upon pain of hanging and drawing: and all the barons, worthiest men and commons, to make faith and fealty to the lord; and then to proceed in whatsoever matters are there to do in felony and treason, or other matters that touch the governance of the land."
The new laws were read in English, and afterwards in Manks: and, after all the business on the hill was gone through, three cheers were given, to THE LORD LIEUTENANT AND GOVERNOR IN CHIEF. His Grace then descended from the hill, and the. procession moved back again to the chapel, in the same regular order. After the necessary business was finished in the chapel, such as signing the laws, &c. his Grace was conducted to his coach, and returned to his seat.
The several estates above mentioned, of governor, council, deemsters, and keys, have power of making ordinances, which have the effect of laws without the royal assent, and this is a privilege peculiar to this island; a circumstance most probably arising from situation, as many sudden emergencies might require a dispatch which could not await the obtaining the royal assent.
These ordinances are certain orders and resolutions, which have from time to time been made by separate branches of the legislature, and which have been received and used as laws, and are retained in use and force at this day. They are, properly speaking, a part of the common law, and are in force no further than they have been sanctioned by and retained in use." 3
It is doubted if English acts of parliament will bind this island in any cases but in matters of revenue, and that such ought to be first promulgated on the Tynwald hill.
Attorneys are natives, their fees are regulated by the statute law, and as a specimen I subjoin a few.
At the Rolls Office (by stat. of 1734) for entering an action and a copy thereof, containing one side of half a sheet of paper, 6d. If it exceeds the common length of action, for every twenty-four words, an halfpenny. Copy of an action and decree in Chancery, 1s &c.
Spiritual Court Fees. For writing probate of a will (by stat. of 1748), 1s. 2d. For a poor person, 4d. Granting administration, 3s. 4d. &c.
Attorneys' Fees. Retainer (by stat of 1777), 2s. 11d. Attendance to receive instructions, 3s. 4d. Draft of bill in Chancery, sheet written on all sides, 3s. 6d. Filing and ordering an office copy, 1s. 2d.; attendance at the office to receive the said copy, 7d. Taking out a common action, 7d. Arguing on a trial before the deemster, 2s. 11d. .
Small as these fees are, yet I am informed a principal attorney gets about 3001. per annum. The spirit of litigation is too prevailing, fostered by this circumstance and by the promptitude of decision.
The present attorney-general is Mr. Franklin.
By an act of Tynwald, passed in 1796, persons circulating seditious books, or speaking seditiously, are subjected to a penalty not exceeding 1001. and one year's imprisonment. To be tried by a jury of six men before the deemster; subject to imprisonment on the deemster's warrant, until bond be given for the sum, and for appearance to stand trial.
This island has ever been very loyal; in the time of the Lord Protector Cromwell, the island under Lord Derby subscribed two sums of 5001. each towards the royal cause; this sum must at that period have amounted to nearly half the specie in circulation. And in the recent subscriptions they have shown their attachment to the British government by doing as much as their abilities would permit.
The House of Keys subscribed 1751. as a voluntary gift on the late occasion, with the following observations:-
House of Keys, March 13, 1798.
" The Keys of the Isle of Man, the constitutional representatives of the people, warmly attached to their Sovereign, and the constitution of Great Britain, offer this their mite in aid of their cause: and they feelingly regret that, in tendering so small a sum, there is so great a disproportion between their wishes and their abilities, having no public funds at their disposal, and being prevented from raising any, in consequence of an influence equally unjust and impolitic, which unfortunately for their country they are unable to remove."
Of this influence, though well known in the island, from delicacy as a stranger, I forbear to state or comment on.
1 By the said statute, Protestants are allowed to keep fire-arms, which " are to descend to their heirs and assigns, in place of the ancient weapons of war called corbe, and be a full satisfaction for the same."
2 The Western islands had a sheriff of the isles, under the Norwegian dynasty; but when the lands were parcelled out afterwards by the lords of the isles, the descendants of Somerlade, among barons of different ranks and sizes, each of these barons, assisted by the chief men in the community, held his court on the top of a hill, called Cnoc an eric, that is, the Hill of Pleas, where public business was transacted.-(Macqueen's Diss. on the Law. of the West. Isles, 1774.)
3 Preface to Statutes and Ordinances of the Isle of Man, by T. Stowel, 8vo 1792. Douglas, Briscoe.
Ballakilly,* belonging to Mrs. D. Callow. Cloughbane, Mr. William Callow. Ballaglass, Mr. G. Callow. Ballafail, Mr. Thomas Fargher. Belure, Mr, John Christian. Ballastole, Mr. John Frissel. The Geary, a pleasant house, tenanted at present by Simon Purdon, Esq.
N.B. Lewaigue was formerly the chief estate, but it is now divided into various portions.
Ballakillighan, Dr. Curphy. Milltown, J. C. Curwen, jun. Esq.; tenanted at present by Mr. Curphy, jun.- Glentraman, Mr. John Corlett, H.E. (from glen and traman, an elder). Loughan-nyeigh, Capt. J. Corlett. Glendale,, Mr. Crow, &c. Ellanbane, Mr. Standish Christian. The Nappin, Mr. D. Tillet. The Grange, Mr. Dela Prime. Ballabrooie, Mr. W. Garratt. Cooilbane, Mr. :Harrison. The Kella, Mr. James Brew. The Great Kella, Mr. J. Corlett. Balladroma, Mr. W. Curphy. Balladoole, Mr. Goldsmith. Aust, Mr. Clarke, &c.
Ballacowle, Mr. Wm. Moore. Ballyonage, Mr. Christian. Ballamoar, Mr. Corlett. Ballakilley, Mrs. Copeland .
Ballavodan, his Grace the Duke of Athol. Gilghagh, Mr. James Brew. Ballavary, Mr. Thomas Allen. Ballachurry, Mr. Thomas Christian. Ballaradcliffe, Mr. J. T. Radcliffe. Ballawhane, Mr. John Tear.
N.B. This gentleman's family have been long in possession of some valuable medicinal preparations, which they liberally distribute to the relief of the poor.
Ballamoar, Mr. Christian. Clerks, or West Napping, which is a quarterland and a half (see page 41), Mr. Clerk. Sartfield, Deemster Lace.
The estates in this parish run rather small, in general not exceeding 1001. per annum. The principal proprietors are the families of Gelling, Corlett, Crane, and Tear. Major Taubman has also some property in it.
The Bishop's Domain. Whitehouse, Major Taubman's, the residence of Mr. Wilks. The two Crenanes and Bark, Mr. Cannells. Orrisdale, the property and seat of John Frissel Crellin, Esq. deemster.
Lhargodoo, Mr. Stevenson, captain of the parish. Ballaquane, Mr. Cowell (brewery). Mr. Caesar Wattleworth's, near Peel. Glenfaba, Mr. Cooper, resident in Peel, and Kinner, Mr. John Gell.
The estates in this parish here mentioned vary in value, from 1001. to 3001. per annum, and upwards. Ballamoar, most pleasingly embosomed in trees, belonging to Philip Moore, Esq. Knockaloe, James Quirk, Esq. captain of the parish. Ballacosnaghan, James Thomas, Esq. surgeon, R.N. Gourdon, Mr. T. Ratcliffe. Ballacallin, Mr. Moore; and Knockaloe-beg (signifying little), Mr. Corrin.
Ballakilly, Rev. Mr. Christian. The Gharth, Mr. T. Clucas, a minor. Ballahutchin, Mr. Kewley. Ballaquiney-moar (signifying large), Miss Christian. Ballaquiney-beg, Colonel Holwell. Balla-nicholas, Mr. John Clucas. Corvalla, Mr. Clucas. Ballacallin (which is a romantic and pleasing situation), William Cubbin, Esq.
Port a Shee, his Grace the Duke of Athol. The Nunnery (see parochial notices), Major Taubman. Pulrose-Ballaston, late Mr. Southcote's, now Mr. Brideson's. Snugborough-Farmhill, Mr. Wilson. Oakhill, Captain Forbes. Strangford, the residence of Colonel Dawson. FortAnn, Mr. Whalley; Ballabrooie, &c.
Howstrake, Mr. James Bancks. Bibaloe, Mr. Symonds. Beemagh, Mr. Heywood. Ballafoghague, or the Hague, Captain Cook. Ballacreetch, Captain Stowell. 1 Sulby, J. F. Crellin, Esq. deemster. 2 Sulby, Mr. Skillecorn. Langehan, Mr. Cowin Slegeby, Mr. Christian. Balla-cottier, Mr. Quirk; and Clepes, Mr. Christian.
The Balladruma's, belonging to Mr. Christian and Captain Moore. Ballameanagh, Mr. Mylchreest. Ballamoore, Mr. Looney. Balldrine, Mr. Kelly. Ballagawn, Mr. Gale. Ballaskirro, Mr. Scarf Balljean, Mr. Kelly.
The principal estates in this pleasant parish are, Ballakentraugh, Mr. Qualtrough Balla-gawn, Thomas Gawn, Esq. H.K. Balla-churry, ditto. Port St. Mary, Mr. Clucas. Ballahough, Mr. Watterson. The Rounaneys, Mr. Cotchill, Mr. Knightson, Mr. Glawn.
Balladoole, Captain Stephenson. Ballakeigin, Mr. Kerwin. The Friary, Mr. Tyldesley. Ballanorris, Major Taubman. Ballakindry, Mr.Harrison. Ballaclague, Mrs. Harrison. Mr.Quillin's handsome seat is the residence of the Rev. Mr. Spence.
Mount-Murray, Lord Henry Murray (late Sir Wadsworth Busk's). Oatland, Mr. Oates. Ballahough, Mr. J. Moore. Maery-voir, Ballacrega, &c. Mr. John Clucas, captain of the parish.
Renoldsway, or Reginaldsway, Thomas Christian, Esq. captain of the R.M. battalion. The Creiggan's, a well-cultivated estate, Mr. Quayle, late Clerk of the Rolls. Ballahot, Rushen-Abbey, with the adjoining lands, &c. belong to the late Deemster Moore's family.
N.B. In this enumeration of estates I have been as accurate as my information would permit. The omission of any name or estate, the proprietors may rest assured, is not intentional To a card that I circulated to solicit information on various topics connected with the island, it is rather singular, not a single reply was returned; this I trust will sufficiently apologize for any omission on my part.
* The word Balla is thus explained in Owen's Welsh Dict. 8vo. Bala, s. m.- pl. t. on. (bal) a shooting out, or discharge, eruption; Ballacoed, the budding or blossom of trees; Balallyn, the outlet or efllux of a lake; hence it is prefixed to the name of many places in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. [fpc: No = farmstead]
I perceive by the statement of the Humane Society for 1798 (an institution for the recovery of persons drowned, or by any other means apparently dead), that the prize question for the next year, is " on the means of preserving mariners from shipwreck, pointing out the most probable means of keeping the vessel afloat, and also of conveying assistance from shore to vessels in distress within a moderate distance from land, and when boats dare not venture out to their aid."
This information will be particularly acceptable to all insular situations, and very much so to the Isle of Man.
When the Manks are informed that this society, in which you, sir, have borne so active and distinguished a part, have by their continued efforts saved between two and three thousand lives from premature death, they will no doubt be happy to diffuse a knowledge of its plan and process over their country.
Permit me, therefore, to express a wish that this spot may in turn be an object of your notice.
Any of your small portable communications or cards, if consigned to Messrs. Leece and Drinkwater, respectable merchants in Liverpool will be by them readily diffused through the principal towns of Man.
I was much gratified with Mr. Shairp's * letter to you, dated St. Petersburgh, Sept. 25, 1797,-wherein he incloses, as a present to the society, one hundred pounds from the British factory there, for the services you have rendered them in establishing a similar society in that city.
" Recording spirits round life s altar stand,
Restored they come to hail the gen'rous hand
That raised such blessings in his native land." +
I was pleased with the dialogue of William and Henry written for your anniversary of 1798, particularly with the above deserved compliment to yourself for your philanthropic exertions in the godlike cause of resuscitation.
I now proceed to give you the best account I can of my walk through the island, which I trust will be the more acceptable as the public are in possession of no parochial sketches of it. I was accompanied by J. E Wright, of America, who is since gone on the coast of Guinea, as a surgeon; and whose attention, skill, and humanity, to his unfortunate brethren, I have no doubt, will do him great credit.-Adieu !
* His Majesty's Consul-General in Russia.
+ Dr. Hawes, to whom these letters are addressed.