[Appendix B(56) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]

APPENDIX (B.) N° 56.

The EXAMINATION of Mr. WILLIAM SCOTT, Comptroller of the Customs at the Port of Douglas, in the ISLE of MAN, taken October 4th and 20th, 1791.

THIS Examinant saith, That he was appointed Comptroller at this Port in April 1790, by a constitution of the Treasury. Upon his arrival in the Isle of Man in June 1790, he took the oath of office, and the other necessary oaths. He told the Deputy Receiver General he was ready to give security for the faithful discharge of his duty, but it has never been taken. The Deputy Receiver General acquainted him, that he had wrote for the blank bonds to Mr. Knight, Agent for Mr. Watts the Receiver General, since which time he has heard no more of the matter.

As Comptroller of the Customs, he has a salary of eighty pounds a year, and twenty-five pounds a year as Comptroller of the King’s Warehouse. For his fees he refers to an account delivered in to the Deputy Receiver General. as well as to the authority for receiving them.

He never was put under instructions, and did not receive any written instructions on his appointment, or since. He has no knowledge of the extent of the Port, except from a copy in the office of the return to the commission for laying it out.

The Officers at the Port are, the Collector, himself, a Searcher, a Gauger, a Riding Officer, an acting Chief Boatman, two Officers who are called Tidesmen and Boatmen, and occasionally two extra men. He does not conceive he has any general superintending power or controul over the Officers of the Port, deeming that to be in the Receiver General. If he observed any misconduct in them, he should represent the same to the Deputy Receiver General.

Upon the arrival of a vessel, the Master comes to the Custom-house, makes his report on oath, and leaves his papers, if any. The report contains an account of his cargo. He is at a loss to lay, whether the penalty for a false report extends to the isle of Man or nor. It has never, to his knowledge, been enforced. The different Proprietors come to make entries of their goods ; the Collector and Comptroller then calculate the Duties, and receive them, upon which they grant a warrant to the Searcher, signed by them, to deliver the Goods. Blue books for the delivery of ships are sometimes given, and sometimes not; and when given, directed to the Searcher, being first signed and sealed by the Collector and Comptroller. Some of them have been directed jointly to the Searcher and Officer on board. In the case of Spirits and Wine, they are always given and directed to the Searcher and Port Gauger.

The only knowledge he has of the agreement of the articles landed with those specified on the warrant, is the indorserrient of the Searcher upon the warrant, who points out a difference if there is any. Afrer the warrants are granted, he has no farther concern with the Searcher, or other Officers, as to the manner in which they discharge the goods.

The blue books first mentioned, he understands, ought to contain an exact account and description of all the articles delivered from the vessel ;but they are in general so irregularly kept by the Officer’s on board, that they do not answer the purpose for which they were issued : He compares them, as far as he can, with the Master’s reports. These blue books in general are not signed by the Searcher.

The blue books delivered jointly to the Searcher and Gauger are regularly kept, and they furnish him with the means of comparing them with the entries, to see whether they correspond.

Post entries have in general arisen upon Spirits, Wine, Tobacco, Foreign Timber, and Iron. In the case of Spirits and Wine, they have arisen from the difference between the gauge and. the prime entry ; in Tobacco, upon the difference between the weight entered and that landed; in Timber and iron, from the difference of the quantity entered, and that landed ; in Goods on which the duties are taken ad valorem, the Importer generally produces his invoice : forother cases he gives in a note of the value made out by himself: In neither case, an oath is taken as tothe value. No Officer at Douglas, within his time, has taken the Goods for the Crown at the first valuation, paying 10l. per cent. thereon.

The boarding of Officers on vessels he does not understand to be in his department ;but since he came here, an official letter was made out and signed by him, and by the Collector; one article of which was, that upon the arrival of any vessel, she should he boarded by two or more Tidesmen, one to be Acting Chief Boatman ; and he apprehends these directions are carried into effect when Officers can be spared.

Vessels coming into the Port of Douglas to deliver there, generally make their report in twenty-four hours, unless in the case of holiday, or any extraordinary cause of delay. He cannot say, whether by law they are compelled so to do. When articles are found on board, which have not been reported, they are added to the report, and admitted to entuy, he not being clear t whether the law, forfeiting goods not. reported, extends to this Island.

With respect to goods exported, the Master comes and declares his vessel outwards ;the porters come and take out sufferances, specifying the articles meant to be exported, which sufferances are an authority to the Searcher to ship the article ;on these sufferances the Searcher indorses the quantity or other particulars of the article shipped ;and upon the return of the sufferances to the Collector and Comptroller, an entry is made agreeably to the indorsement, and signed by the Exporter, or his Agent, who also makes oath as to its being the produce or ~ft of the Isle of Man, if so, and if British goods returned for want of sale, as to that fact. From these oaths certificates are made out and annexed to the cockets, which specify the number of such certificates and both describe the articles.

All certificates issued by the Collector and Comptroller to clear bonds taken in Great Britain, are wholly grounded upon the indorsement of the Searcher, on the landing warrant, and the debentures for obtaining the boundes on Herrings are made out upon the return given in by the Searcher.

The act of the twenty-fourth of his Majesty, chap. 47. for the prevention of smuggling, and the manifest act of the 6th of his Majesty, chap. 40. do not, in his opinion, apply to the Isle of Man ;and their not so doing is, he believes, detrimental to the revenue of the Island : And he is doubtful whether many other acts do or do not apply to this Island, which, if they did, might be serviceable to revenue. These doubts make it difficult for him, in some instances, to know how to act in the discharge of his duty.

The usual hours of bufiness for in-door officers are from nine to twelve, and two to four. He apprehends those for the water-side officers are the same as in England.

He has never taken any gratuities for doing business out of customhoule hours, though he has often done business at such times, and been offered them.

He does not know that the entries inwards or outwards, or any of the books kept by the Collector and Controller, are regularly compared, examined, or checked by any other officer than themfelvcs. The Deputy Receiver General’s clerk makes out his book of entries inwards and outwards, not from their books, but the original entries themselves. No account is furnished by the Collector and Controller to the Receiver General of articles carried coastwise.

He understands his duty as Controller of the Warehouse is, under a joint lock with the Collector, to have custody of all seized goods lodged in the warehouse, to keep a hook thereof, make up an account of the sales, receive the produce, and pay it in to the Receiver General.

He has been at difficulty how to act in the execution of his office as Controller of the warehouse, from not being able to obtain information, particularly in a late case respecting the seizure of a vessel made in 1786, and still in the custody of the officers, and not condemmed. There is not, in his opinion, a sufficient number of tidesmen and boatmen to guard the vessels coming in and going out of this harbour.

There is not any limitation in point of age, that he knows of, as to the admission of officers in this port, nor any inquiry made as to their qualifications. The officers reside here, and are not to his knowledge concerned in trade.

When a merchant wants to ship goods coastwise, he comes and obtains a sufferance for shipping them ; if they are goods which require bond being given, a bond is taken by the Collector and Controler, and the Searcher endorses on the sufferance the article shipped. A cocket is made out agreeable thereto, and the sufferance annexed, and both go with the vessel ; in cases of tobacco spirits, and wine, so going coastwise, an officer (generally an established tidesman) is sent with the vessel, which officer has the custody of the dispatches. Goods not requiring bond are sent by a simple sufferance, or a transire. If the certificate from the port of landing is not returned within the time limited in the bond, the bond is put in suit. They have had no occasion since he has been in office to put any of these bonds in suit. The laws of Great Britain for carrying goods coastwise apply, as he apprehends, to this Island.

Spirits are now allowed to be carried coastwise in vessels below the tonnage prescribed by law, under like formalities as above ;and this practice was, he understands, grounded upon permission given by the late Receiver General, under the idea that vessels of the legal tonnage could not be procured in the Island.

Vessels under the Register act are admeasured by a person appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, as the act directs ; at the port of Douglas that person is a tidesman and boatman.

He has no official knowledge of the number of fishing-boats belonging to the port of Douglas, or its creeks, except when they apply for licene or registry.

He apprehends that as the law stands,, vellels coming into this port, ann going out, are allowed to have two gallons of spirits per man on board as sea stores ;and that fishing-boats trading to Great Britain may take the like quantity if they chuse it ;but he believes they do not take it. ‘


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


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