[From Quiggin's Guide, 1841]


THE civil government is vested in a Governor or Lieut. Governor; the Council, which consists of The Lord Bishop of The diocese, the Attorney-General, the Receiver-General, he two Deemsters, the Clerk of the Rolls, the Water Bailiff or Admiralty Judge, the Archdeacon, and the two Vicars-General, these constitute the upper branches of the legislature, and the house of Keys, consisting of twenty-four representatives of the people, the lower branch. These estates together constitute a Court of Tynwald, whose accordance is essential to every legislative act, and the act having received the royal assent is promulgated in the Manks and English languages from the Tynwald Hill. For civil purposes the Island is divided into six sheadings, each has its officer named a coroner, annually chosen and exercising the functions of a sheriff.


Since the death of the late Duke of Atholl, who was Governor-in-chief, no appointment of a Governor-in-chief has been made. Colonel John Ready is now Lieutenant—governor of the Island, and is empowered with the same rights, privileges, and advantages, whatever with respect to his civil office or military command, as any former Governor-in-Chief. the Governor (as we shall throughout this little work designate his Excellency Colonel Ready) is Captain-general of all the troops on the Island, and also of the constabulary force. He presides in all Courts of Tynwald, or Legislative Courts, Staff of Government Courts. Courts of General Gaol Delivery, and is ex officio Judge in the Courts of Chancery and Exchequer. Such of the law officers of the Council as the Governor may desire to attend with him sit as assessors in the administration of justice, in the several Courts. The act of the Governor and three of the temporal officers is considered to be a valid act of the Governor and Council.


are of very ancient standing, as their constitution was well understood, and regulated by legal ordinances, as far back as 1417. They are a continuation of the ancient assembly called Taxiari ; they are supposed to have obtained the name of Keys from their being in all cases the interpreters of the common law, and to whom lies an appeal from verdicts of juries at common law in all cases, and from their decision there is no appeal but to the Queen in Council, It is not known how they were originally elected, but the vacancies have been, from time immemorial, and now are, filled up in their own hotly by a majority of votes nominating two persons, one of whom the Governor returns, who takes his seat for life. This body have always possessed the confidence of a majority of the people, and, though self elected, seem never to have abused their power. The office is attended with much trouble, loss of time, and heavy expense, unaccompanied with either power, patronage, or emolument, Formerly but little respect attended those who filled the situation but a member of the Keys in the Isle of Man is now regarded, by the natives particularly, as highly as a representative of the Commons is in Great Britain.

The principal Courts are Chancery — Exchequer Common Law — General Gaol Delivery-— Admiralty — the Deemsters’ —-the High Bailiffs’ — and the Ecclesiastical.


in matters of civil property, has the most extensive jurisdiction of all the courts in the Island, amid is both a court of law and of equity. The Governor presides in this court, and is assisted by the Attorney General, the Clerk of the Rolls, the Deemsters, and the Water Bailiff. Like the English Court of Chancery the proceedings are conducted without the intervention of a jury. In order to prosecute a suit on the law side of the court, a common action is entered at the Rolls Office, and process granted thereupon; three days previous to the meeting of the court, which is generally on the first Thursday in every month, at Castletown, the defendant must be summoned by the coroner or his deputy to appear at the next court-day, when the action is called in rotation by the coroner. Should defendant neglect to appear by himself tmi’ advocate, an attachment against him may be sued for, and subsequently, if the cause be undefended, it may be heard and determined on the plaintiff’s own oath. Should the cause of action be denied or disputed by the defendant, the court may transfer it, for trial in the Deemster’s court by a jury at common law. When a common action for debt is taken out either against a native about to leave the Island, or against a stranger, the defendant may not only be arrested and imprisoned, but his effects may be taken possession of by the constable till he give security for his personal appearance; and after the decree has been issued the effects may be sold by auction, or so much as will satisfy the creditor, after paying a year’s rent and servants’ wages, if any due. On the equity side, the proceedings are carried on by bill and answer, as in the English court.


takes cognizance of all matters connected with the revenue : proceedings are here carried on for the recovery of all penalties, and for forfeitures due to the crown, incurred by frauds upon the customs; it determines the right of tithe, which, previously to the Act of Tynwald in 1777, was cognizable only in the ecclesiastical courts.


is held at Castle Rushen once in three months. It takes cognizance of all actions, real, personal, and mixed, and of all suits at common law that require to be determined by a jury. The juries consist of six men, from whose verdict an appeal lies, in the first instance, to the house of Keys, who possess the high power of affirming, reversing, or altering a verdict at common law.


is held twice in the year for the trial of felonies. In this court the Governor presides, attended by the Deemsters and Council. It was formerly held in the open air, within the outer gate of Castle Rushen, and the Governor, Council, and Deemsters sat there with the twenty-four Keys; and if any criminal were indicted for felony, four men out of each parish, amounting to sixty-eight, were summoned for the purpose of trying the felony, and if the person indicted, when put upon his trial, pleaded not guilty, four men out of one parish were brought before him in order that he might select such of them as he thought proper; and in case he did not choose the said four or any of them, then four others out of the next parish were in like manner brought before him, and so on until he had chosen twelve out of the number returned to the court, who were sworn to try the felony; and the Attorney-General proceeded to examine the witnesses on behalf of the crown, and the person accused made his defence. After the proceedings had been gone through, and the jury n-crc ready to deliver their verdict, one of the Deemsters demanded of the foreman of the jury, in the Manx language, "Vod fir charree soie ?" in English, "May he who ministers at the altar continue to sit ?" or, "Whether such of the council as are Ecclesiastic could remain in court or not ?" and if the foreman of the jury gave for answer, they could not, then the clergy withdrew; whereupon one of the Deemsters asked the jury if the prisoner was guilty or not guilty, and upon the jury declaring him guilty, one of the Deemsters pronounced sentence of death. The law and constitution of this court are now the same, except that the right of cimahlenge has been put under considerable limitation by an act passed in 1813, for amending the criminal laws, and that it has been adjudged by the King in Council that the Keys do not form an integral part of the court.

The execution of the sentence of this court in cases of treason, murder, or other capital felonies is never carried into effect until the royal pleasure be made known,


The herring fishery, and the boats employed in it, are placed under the charge of the Water Bailiff, and lie usually holds a court once in every week, to redress wrongs, and enforce the regulations of the fishery. He appoints, with a small salary, two intelligent fishermen, who are called admirals, to assist in preserving order. The Water Bailiff has also civil jurisdiction in questions of salvage, and takes cognizance of suits in maritime matters. From his judgment an appeal lies to the Staff of Government.


which are of great antiquity, are held weekly, alternately at Douglas and Castletown, by the Southern Deemster, and at Ramsey and Peel, or Kirk Michael, by the Northern Deemster. The judge, in this court, by his sole authority, determines in cases of trespasses, slander, assault, battery, debts, and contracts, but there lies an appeal from this judgment to the Staff of Government. In all the courts of the Island the parties are at liberty to plead their own cause in person, but which is seldom practised, as there are now so many able, intelligent, and willing advocates to undertake the business.

The Deemsters are officers of very extensive juris diction and high authority, they are chief justices and ancient popular magistrates of the Island; one pre siding over the southern division, holds his court at Douglas, and the other over the northern part, keeps his court at Ramsey; but their authority is not limited by law to those divisions, as they have a concurrent jurisdiction. They are appointed by the crown with a salary of £800 per annum. To them every department of legislature and government looks for advice and direction in all difficult points of law-. They take cognizance in a summary manner of all breaches of the peace, and can hold courts instanter on all criminal informations.


are held weekly in the four different towns for the recovery of debts under forty shillings. The proceedings are similar to those of Courts of Request in England.

A High Bailiff is appointed for each of the four towns by commision from the Governor, and holds his office during the Governor’s pleasure; he is conservator of the peace, and superintendent of police in his district; he is also empowered to take the acknowledgnient of parties as the testimony of witnesses for the probate of all deeds, to swear affidavits, &c,


are the Consistorial Court, in which the Bishop or his Vicars General, and Registrar preside; take cognizance of all matters relating to the probate of wills. granting letters of administration, simony, church assessments, &c., &c. The Vicars’-General Court takes Cognizance of all offences against religion, good morals, and the interest of the church ; and in all cases not cognizable by the common law courts. The Chapter or Circuit Courts are held for regulating all matters connected with the See, and the general affairs of the Diocese.


The Seneschal of the Lord of the isle has his office in Douglas, which is an office of record. or deposit of all deeds of sale, mortgage, or transfer of real property. The Lord’s Seneschal holds a circuit of Baronial Courts twice in the year in the four towns, and at Kirk Michael, for the entry of sales, and transfer of property, for the receipt of fines, and quit rent of lands due to the Lord.


in Castletown, is also an office of record connected with the Chancery and law courts, and the general affairs of Government. In it are deposited all the statutes and judgments of the legislature, and all public deeds and examinations relating to the general affairs of the country.


Additional Magistrates have lately been appointed in the Island, as has been done under the Municipal Reform Bill in all the corporate towns of England and Wales. This measure was effected by the issuing of a commission of the peace under the great seal. Eleven gentlemen are imanted in it, and their powers have been enlarged by an act which has recently been passed by the insular legislature.


A Coroner, with powers analogous in many respects to those of English Sheriffs, is appointed by the Governor to each of the six Sheadings or great divisions of the Island, at the Tynwald Court on the 5th of July, annually. He is both a ministerial officer and a conservator of the peace, and according to an ancient statute holds his office for one year only. The Coroners are most important officers in carrying into execution both the civil and criminal laws of the Island.

Their duties are distinctly marked out. Besides the duties of holding inquests in cases of violent and sudden death, it is their duty to apprehend all criminal offenders. All judgments for debt or damage are levied by them from and out of the property of the debtor. A salary of £20 is now annexed to this office, and though it may be supposed that a sufficient inducement is thereby held out, yet the office is not much sought for. The Coroners are in general respectable yeomen, and though not men of education, are very intelligent.


The Laws of the Island still retain much of their ancient peculiarity of character, though modified by occasional acts of Tynwald, and in some respects rendered more in unison with those of England. By acts of Tynwald passed in 1777 and 1813 the criminal code was altered and amended; when any person is apprehended charged with treason or felony an inquiry is had, by and before, one of the deemsters and a jury of six men, and evidence is received on part of the accused. If a bill of indictment be found, the prisoner is committed to the gaol at Castle Rushen to undergo his trial for the crime of which he is indicted, at the next Court of General Gaol Delivery, where the jury consist of twelve men.

A "landed man" or native, and residents, are subject to arrest for debt under mesne process, the former, on affidavit being made that he has obtained the Governor’s pass, or that there is some other just cause to believe that he designs to go off the Island; the latter, on affidavit that he is not a native, and both may be held to bail to appear to the action, and for the forthcoming of effects to answer the debt. In all cases here an execution or judgment for debt is granted, the law makes no distinction between a native or other person, both being liable to imprisonment if no effects can he discovered, or if there be a suspicion of the debtor having acted fraudulently.

No person can be arrested for a debt under forty shillings, unless affidavit be made that he is about to leave the island. The law of arrest is seldom enforced arbitrarily or vexatiously.

The Insolvent Debtors’ Act is nearly similar to that of England; but a debtor, instead of imprisoned for three months, can be liberated in a few days, by petition to the Governor, on proof that he is insolvent.


The general tenure is a customary freehold descendible from ancestor to heir. The right by primogeniture extends to females as well as males. The interest of a widow or widower, being the first wife or husband of a person deceased, is a life estate in one half of the lands which have descended hereditarily and is forfeited by a second. marriage; a second husband or a second wife is entitled but to a life interest in one quarter. Of the lands purchased by the husband, the wife surviving him is entitled to an absolute moiety. By statute 1777, proprietors of lands are empowered to grant leases for any term not exceeding; 21 years in possession."



His Excellency John Ready, Lieutenant- Governor.

Secretary to his Excellency, J. G. Malcolm, Esg.


Right Rev. Dr. James Bowstead, Lord Bishop.
James Clarke, Esq., Attorney-General.
John J. Heywood, Esq,, her Majesty’s Southern Deemster.
John Christian, Esq. do. Northern Deemster.
George Quirk, Esq. Receiver-General and Water Bailiff
John M’Hutchin, Esq. Clerk of the Rolls.
Rev. Benjamin Philpot, Archdeacon.
T. A. Corlett, Esq., and Rev. F. B. Hartwell Vicars General
George Quirk, Esq., Clerk of the Council.


Lieutenant General Goldie


John Moore

The Hills.

John Llewellyn


John C. Crelin


Caesar Tobin


William Farrant


John Teare


John Goldie Taubman


Edward Moore Gawne


William Watson Christian


John Kneale


Thomas Moore

Crescent Cottage.

Thomas Carran


Edward Forbes


Colonel Murray

Mount Murray.

John Kelly


William Hinds


John Quayle


J. Anderson

Cooley Lodge.

William Christian


Philip Garrett


William Kinley


John Bridson


Francis Matthews





John Kelly Castletown. James Quirk Douglas.
John Llewellyn Peel. Frederick Tellett Ramsey.


John Goldie, (chairman); Sir William Hillary, bart., Fort. Ann; Sir George Drinkwater, Kirby; Richard Murray; John C. Crellin; Thomas Carran; John Anderson; William Farrant; William Christian; Godfrey Tate; and David Stewart, Esqrs.

Seneschal to the Lord of the Manor, James Quirk, Esq.

Agent for Woods and Forests, James M’Crone, Esq.


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