These pages give a brief biography of various people associated with the legal profession on the Island. (many are taken from Manx Worthies though in some cases additional material and/or references are added).


An excellent overview of the Court and Judical system, both pre and post Revestment up to 1790 was given by Sir Wadsworth Busk in his submission to the 1791 commission.


These offices were generally filled by Manxmen as one requirement was to speak Manx. They presided as judges over the courts both civil and criminal in both the Lord's and any Baronial courts. Although they had power over the whole island, in practice one sat in Northside courts and the other in Southside courts. They usually held office for life, though legally it was at the Lord's pleasure.

The only list of Deemsters was that produced by Ramsey Moore.


The act of 1777 replaced the old Town Captains with a Stipendary Magistrate or High Bailiff, one for each of the four towns and surrounding area. The original job has been likened to the old English Town Reeve. See List.

Attorney General

Member of Council. Acted on behalf of the Lord in any civil and criminal cases; especial duty was to prevent any infringemnts of the Lord's perogative rights. Generally attended all courts, both civil and ecclesiatical to record fines and ensure their collection for the Lord. Provided advice on questions of jurisdiction; also represented any incapable of defending themselves at law (eg widows, minors). Set rents for newly enclosed land etc. at the annual Sheading courts.

Post-revestment List


Advocates (or Attornies, the Manx bar does not distinguish, unlike the English, between Solictors and Barristers) grew in status from the early 19th century. Lord Teignmouth states:

But another class has gradually arisen, scarcely known till the natives renounced the ancient practice of pleading their own cause in the courts of law, which by the professional association of its members, by their activity and talents, and by their intercourse with the natives at the courts in the different parts of the Island, has acquired a degree of importance far beyond that to which their collective share in the wealth of the Island entitles them. The income of an advocate derived from his professional labours, seldom exceeds 5001. per annum, and many have difficulty in procuring a suitable living : the courts of law have, by engrossing the magisterial business of the Island, deprived the landholders of a jurisdiction which confers much importance on that class in England.

The attornies are generally of an inferior description to those of an English court ; and with some exceptions, their inferiority is manifest in their appearance, manners, and even in their style of pleading : I heard one of them attribute, in his speech in court, an inaccuracy in the statement of an opponent to the pleasure which he had felt "at getting his sister married ;" and he thought the joke so happy that he again repeated it.

A List of those registered and date of first registration is available


Not strictly Manx - William Henry Quilliam 1856-

 Manx Note Book  [People]


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2000