[From Manx Soc vols 25+28 - Blundell's History]




BESIDES the continual watches kept in every of the 4 towns, castles, and forts on each side of the Island, there are in several places watch and ward continually, very strictly to discover ye approch of any ship, especially of any burden or bulk, unto any part of the Island, and unto whatsoever part they do observe them to steer their course. Thither pre sently are all the Manksmen of yt part or quarter bound to repair unto in arms, upon pain of life and limb, notwithstanding of any landing of any long boats in any of their creeks, or in any part of the isle lying lower than the rest. On the west side of the Island there are the hills called the Watch Hills, commonly called the Ware Hills, which are about the upper part of Kirk Kirberry, very convenient for discovery of any ships approching from the west between Ireland and this Island.

But from what part soever they come, they are perfectly descried from the top of the highest of their hills which is in the middle of the Island, which they call Sceaful From thence, in serene weather, you may perfectly discover the 3 kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. On this hill watch and ward is kept continually the day and night, winter and summer, and if any danger doth appear in any part, the beacon is set on fire immediately, and because the winds here blow cold and boisterous upon the summit of this high hill, their antient laws and customs have made provision against such inconvenience ; for the widows of the Island are bound to disburse for the furnishing of those of the watch with fuel, both for the beacon and the warming of those yt tend there day and night. The laws of watching and warding, as they call it, are very severe, and rigorously put in execution, for if any danger be discovered against any part of the Island, and any that do slow or make default it is loss of life, yea in their customary watches in any of their towns, altho' no danger is apparent or then feared. Yet if they do make default and not appearing at ye watch, being comanded yt the warden do make another in his room upon his failing, the 1st night he is to forfeit a weather, if he fail the 2d night he forfeiteth a cow, if he fail the 3d night he forfeiteth life and goods. There is no forfeiture to the warden, unless he do appoint another in the room of him yt failed, otherwise all forfeits do belong to the Lord of the Island. All forfeitures are to be presented in court by a jury, or by sufficient witnesses, before the captain, yt is the Governor, and the Lord's officers considering yt the most for feitures for watches stand upon life and goods. The watch of the night beginneth at the sun setting and continueth till the sun rising; the day watch is from the sun rising unto the sun setting.

But besides the 17 parishes, do each parish every week thro'out the whole year muster, train, and have their arms. Every parish hath his captain, under whom are listed, dis ciplined, and armed, such as are meet for the war, of whom, saith Mr. Chaloner, they have about 1500 ready upon any occasion, and in case of necessity they might arm 5000 or 6000 men, to which I will not deliver my opinion. But in my judgment the strength of the Island doth not so much consist in its walls of water, castles, forts, watches, etc., as in that I observed the whole Island to be unanimously united. Every man there is satisfied with that which he possesseth, none factious, all willingly and submissively obedient to the Lord and to his officers, as if all men were one Man.




Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001