[Appendix B(54) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]

APPENDIX (B.) N° 54.


The EXAMINATION of SENHOUSE WILSON, Esq. Deputy Receiver General for the ISLE of MAN, taken at Douglas October 21st 1791

THIS Examinant saith, that the Commissioners of the harbours named in the act are, the Receiver General, Deputy Receiver General, Collector, Comptroller, and Searcher of the port of Douglas ; the Deputy Water Bailiffs, at the ports of Derbyhaven, Peel, and Ramsay ; and one Merchant for each of the towns of Douglas, Castletown, Peel, and Ramsay. The Officers and Deputy Water Bailiffs, are permanent Commissioners. The Merchants were at first chosen by them for three years ; since that time they have been elected at the expiration: of every three years, generally by the Officers and Deputy Water Bailiffs. A majority of that Officers must attend for the purpose of such election, of whom the Receiver General, or his Deputy, must be one. For any other act under the commission, they have always considered that a majority of the whole Commissioners must be present, of whom the Receiver General, or his Deputy must also be one.

For any material repair respecting any of the harbours in the Island, all the Commissioners are summoned, seven of whom must attend to issue any orders or directions ; and they appoint accordingly persons to do the work, or furnish the materials, under the inspection of the Commissioners, resident on the spot. The bills for the work so executed, or materials found, not always certified by these resident Commissioners ; but when they meet at the end of the year to pass the annual account, these bills are examined and allowed by the Commissioners.

No regular surveys are ever made of the different Harbours in the Island, by the Commissioners in general, or any persons delegated by them to see what state the respective Harbours are in, or what may be wanting ; but the resident Commissioners, or one of them, who is generally the Deputy Water Bailiff, reports as to those points at the end of each quarter, to the Deputy Receiver General, who, if he sees occasion, summons the Commissioners ; and if the is any material alteration necessary, directions are given accordingly. The Merchants have been generally changed at the end of the three years ; in two instances they have been re-elected for three years more.

A Writ of Assistance is lodged at every Port in the Island, in the custody of the Collector, or Person acting as such ; when any Officer has occasion to use it, he applies to the Collector takes a Peace Officer, and returns the Writ when he has done with it.

When persons are appointed to any office in the Customs in this Island, no previous inquiry that he knows of is ever made as to their having been or reputed to be concerned in smuggling :—persons of that description have been appointed here.

He thinks that smuggling is generally carried on in this Island by means of boats, that go off from Shore to take from the Luggers and Cutters employed in that business the Articles meant for the Island. These Cutters and Luggers also frequently come into the Bays of the Island, to discharge the whole or part of their cargoes.

Applications have not within his recollection been made to the Governor for the stationing soldiers over different parts of the Island, so as to aid the Officers in the suppression of smuggling.

The reason why such applications were not made, was, that it was thought to be the wish of the respective Governors to keep the Military together at Castletown

If parties were constantly stationed in different parts of the Island, with orders to be assisting the Officers of the Revenue, he apprehends it would be attended with very good effects.

This Examinant saith, That he apprehends the reason of the decrease of Custom Revenue he year ending the 5th of January 1791, compared with the eight antecedent years, particularly that of the year ending 5th of January 1790, was chiefly owing to the smuggling of’ Foreign Spirits into this Island, and the consequent diminution of Rum legally imported. The extraordinary receipt of the year ending the 6th of January 1790, was, in his opinion, owing to the great importation of Tobacco, upon its being known that the quantity allowed to be imported was shortly to be reduced.


Jno Spranger.
Wm Osgoode.
Willm Roe.
David Reid.



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