[Notes 27-29 from Manx Soc Vol 12 ]
Immediately after the accession of the Duchess Charlotte, negotiations were opened by the Treasury for the purchase of her sovereign rights in the Island. By letter of the 25th July 1764, addressed to the Duke of Atholl, the Lords of the Treasury offered to treat with him pursuant to the Act of Parliament 12 Geo. I. cap. 28 (see notes on § 24), and to receive from him a proposal for that purpose, specifying what part of his property and rights he was disposed to sell, and the value putt upon them, " that" (in the words of the letter) "we may know whether the terms are in all respects such as we who are Trustees for the public can admit. But if your Grace is not inclined to enter into a treaty with us upon the subject we beg to be informed of it, that we may then pursue such other methods as we shall think our duty to the public requires of us." Duke of Atholl's Case in House of Commons' paper No. 79, Sess. 1805, 2p. 13.)
Before an answer was returned by the Duke, namely on the 17th August 1764, an Order in Council was issued for stationing cutters and cruisers in the harbours and on the coasts of the Island. (Ibid. p. 14.) This order has the appearance of having been made for the coercion of the Duke. The enforcement of it would certainly have been an illegal aggression on the sovereign rights of the Duchess Charlotte. The recognized insular jurisdiction which had hitherto been respected by the English Government extended to a distance of three leagues from the coast.
On the 20th August 1764, the Duke replied to the Treasury letter, skewing the impossibility for him who had been but a few months in possession of the Island to fix on an adequate price for a possession so very considerable both for honour and profit, but stating his readiness to receive a proposal from their Lordships. (Ibid. p. 14.)
By letter of the 12th September 1764, the Treasury asked for full information as to the value of every branch of revenue in the Island, but before the letter could be conveniently answered, the Duke was informed that the Government did not incline to go farther into a treaty, but meant to obtain their object by an adequate Act of Parliament- (Ibid. p. 15.)
Accordingly on the 21st January 1765, the Right Hon. George Grenville, First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced into the House of Commons a Bill intituled, " An Act for more effectually preventing the mischiefs arising to the revenue and commerce of Great Britain and Ireland from the illicit and clandestine trade to and from the Isle of Man." (5 Geo. III. c. 39.) This Act which was commonly designated the Mischief Act, gave authority for coercive measures for restraining the trade of the Isle against the consent of the Lord and Legislature of the Island. By it the King's officers of customs and excise were authorized to search ships in the Island, and to make seizures there by land or water. It also authorized the prosecution of seizures and offenders in Great Britain or Ireland, or in any Courts in the Island held in the name or by the authority of the King, and as necessary to any such prosecution the service on offenders in the Island of process from the British or Irish Courts. Had the revestment of the Island in the Crown not taken place, this Act carried out by the force which the Government of England was able to apply against an almost powerless State, would virtually have destroyed the independence of the Insular kingdom, and deprived the Lords thereof, without rendering any equivalent or compensation, for the revenues to which they were entitled by the laws of the Island. The Act designates the trade to and from the Island as illicit and clandestine, but this designation is not strictly correct. The trade to the Island was by law almost free, and restricted only by such duties as were imposed by the Insular Legislature, and such trade was previously recognized by the English Government. So far as the trade from the Island was concerned, it was not illicit and clandestine by the Insular laws which authorized the exportation of goods on payment of the Insular duties. The trade was illicit and clandestine in Great Britain and Ireland so far as it was attempted to land the goods there without payment of the British or Irish duties, or in defiance of British or Irish laws. The trade with Russia or any other foreign country might as well have been designated illicit and clandes- tine, where goods lawfully exported from such foreign country, were smuggled or attempted to be smuggled into England.
[It may be here observed that as the Mischief Act did not come into operation until after the Revestment, and as then officers of customs appointed by the Crown were substituted for those who had previously been appointed by the Lords of the Island, the effect of the Act was much moderated. But it is worthy of note that it was the first Act of the English Parliament which really affected the rights and liberties of the people of the Island, or interfered with the independence of its Legislature. Portions of the Act were repealed at various times, and it