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




CONCERNING the political government of the Isle of Man:

Altho’ the Kings of Man never were, nor ever deserved to be reputed monarchs, yet the government there ever was, and still is monarchical, for not any one in ye Island hath any the least power to act anything of himself by himself, but only the lord, and in his absence ye governor of the Island who is his representative, but in what manner and in what plausibility, facility, and with so few instruments, all things are manag’d in this diminutive monarchy, much meriteth, in my opinion, the reader’s observation. For there are but 4 supreme and principal officers, I mean of the lord’s privy counsellors, or of trust, and but 4 or 5 more who are of a lower class, and subordinate to the first 4, by whom all actions here are executed.

The former principal are first the governor of ye Island; 2dly, the deemsters, tho’ they be 2 in number yet I here account them but as one, because they seldom sit in council both together, and one of them is sufficient to hear and determine all causes and controversies ; ye 3d is ye controwler of the Island, ye 4th is ye receiver-general ; these 4 are only sufficient, and can undergo all businesses (as atlas bearing up heaven without groaning), as shall appear in the practick part of the political government hereafter set down ; the other surbordinate officers are first, ye 24 keys of ye Island ; 2dly, a water bailiff ; 3dly, the lord’s attorney-general ; 4thly, the coroners ; 5thly, the moors : But altho’ I have thus named the lord’s officers, yet is it not my intention to shew you which of them hath precedency before the other.

For I know it not myself, but I thus placed them because I observed Mr. Chaloner to place them in this manner; yet I observe by a certain indenture which I transcribed in the Isle of Man, yt they were there otherwise plac’d and set down, the substance of which indenture I thought fit to insert here, not only for this, but for another occasion, which will present itself in the next chapter following. It beareth date July ye last, anno 1532, betwixt the Bishop of Man and all his clergy of Man, on the one part ; and Wm. Stevenson and others of the 6 sheedings, on ye other part ; concerning a controversy between them about mortuaries and other exactions and wrongs, Edward, Earl of Darby being then lord thereofe, who gave power and comission, under the Seal of Man, unto Thorn Sherborn, Esquire, lieutenant of the same Isle, Thursdan Tilsley, Esqr, his receiver-general, Morgan Jones, his auditor, John Fleming, captain of Man, Thos. Tilsley, water bailiff of Man, John Gardener, controwler of Man, Edward Cockhill, one of the deemsters of Man, Robt. Colcoates, receiver of the Castle of Man, Peter Anderson, receiver of the Pile of Man, to hear, order, and determine ye said controversies. Whatsoever is to be done in all in any part of the Island is executed and performed by these before named ; but how and in what manner it is done by these, either in the political or in ye legal government, shall be shewed in every of the subsequent chapters of this 2d book. In this place I am only to acquaint my reader with some few particulars concerning the ordering of these officers, which I have observ’d in the time of ye Lord James, Earl of Darby; for, as it is a rare felicity in princes to make election of able counsellors, so it is no less to order them aright ; but I shall here insist upon the 4 principal officers before named, who are of his privy council, and to whom he committed the chiefest places of trust in the Island.

First, I observe, in the Ld James’ time, there was not any of these 3 principal officers, the governor, controwler, and receiver-general, yt was a native of ye Island, yt is of ye Manks breed, born in Man ; but they were English born and of his own county of Lancashire, and the most of them his tenants holding their lands of him.

2dly. No officer—no, not the deemster—have any of their offices for life, or for years, or for any certain time, but all the lord’s grants were during our pleasure, or so long as they behav’d well only, so as he kept his officers as well as ye inhabitants at his devotion.

3dly. In all consultations all yt were of this council were in council equal, and free to speak or propose anything which might tend to the lord’s profit or to the publick good.

4thly. All yt are principal officers were to have their residence in the court town, as they call it, which is in Castle-Town, where the lord himself resideth, yet not within the Castle, whereby he hath them ready, at his or his governor’s command, to advise and consult, or to receive orders to go, ride, post, etc., upon any sudden or urgent occasion.

5thly. Altho’ there are divers officers in the ordering or governing of the island under the lord, yet are they not as the Lacedemoneans ephori, who were all equal, but rather like Solon’s areopagite or the Roman censors ; every officer is accountable to another, and subordinate to the governor, and ye governor to ye lord.

6thly. Neither can or do any officer monopolize over ye spirits and businesses of state in this little kingdom, or to insult over his inferiors, or over any of the inhabitants of the Island umler colour of his authority. All these are placed as centinells over the life and preservation of the lord. All inferiour officers are adjuteants to them. All these officers before named are accountable the one unto the other, and all to the governor, yet ye governor by himself cannot order any account without them, so as it is impossible the lord shou’d receive any detriment by any one or two of them without a conjecture in a general conspiracy of them all together, which you may easily observe by the chapter following, which do treat of every one of these officers severally.


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