[Appendix B(64) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]

APPENDIX (B.) N° 64..

The EXAMINATION of Mr JAMES WEBB, Searcher at Derbyhaven in the Isle of Man, taken at Douglas the 14th and 19th of October 1791.

THIS Examinant saith, that he is Searcher at the port of Derbyhaven in virtue of a constitution from the Treasury in the year 1765, and that he has been so since that time. He took the oaths of office at London, and afterward before Mr. Lutwidge, late Receiver: General, and the Governor of the Isle of Man ; and gave security. That he has a deputation from the Board of Customs, and Instructions received with that deputation, but never was instructed in the duty of Searcher either before or since his appointment

His salary is fifty pounds per annum, and he has fees, which in the last year, 1790, amounted to eight pounds sixteen shillings and six pence, as contained in an account delivered in by him to the Deputy Receiver General, in which account are included the gratuities which he received for working in extraordinary hours, and upon no other account.

He considers his duty to be to examine all goods liable to duty upon importation, and all, goods entered outwards entitled to bounty, or bondable for the due landing in Britain. That he keeps no blue books himself upon any goods. On goods liable to duty, when they were considerable, he sometimes kept an account of the goods discharged upon a slip of paper though not often, and for the most part he discharged them by the warrant ; and when the quantities were more than in the warrant, he detained them till a post entry was made, and a note made, lodged them in the custom-house till they were claimed, and a post entry made, and a new warrant obtained; which warrant, with the warrant upon the prime entry, he endorsed and delivered both into the custom-house ; and if the master or merchant omitted to report or enter any packages on board, he secured these packages, but did not seize them, till a new entry was made for them, or that they were added to the former entry and warrant.

For salt imported, blue books are directed to the Tidesmen, who take an account of the salt discharged by tally-sticks ; and when the salt is wholly discharged, they enter the quantity or rather number of tallies, in the blue books, and deliver them to him, from which and the medium weight of the number of barrels weighed during the discharge, salt being landed by measure, he casts up the quantity landed, and endorses it upon the warrant, and returns the same to the custom-house. The decrease betwixt the quantity of salt in the cocket from the shipping port, and the quantity landed, has not been more than what is allowed for waste and in a few instances he has found the quantity landed some pounds weight heavier than was mentioned in the cocket from England ; but this might happen from the Tidesman marking a tally more than discharged.

The Tidesmen only continue on board salt vessels during the period of discharge, except there be other merchant goods, such as soap, candles, etc. and in that case they are kept on board night and day; and that it is his practice to call the Tidesmen in such instances in the night, and that upon his doing so, he for the most part found them attending, and sometimes not ; but in the latter case they pretended that they were only absent upon a necessary occasion and that they were only absent during such necessity.

Coals is a chief article of Importance at Derbyhaven and Castletown but no officer attends discharge of them at landing, the quantity being taken by the cocket from the shipping port if wholly landed; and if only a part landed, according to the quantity reported by the master, and the warrants endorsed by the Examinant accordingly.

Herrings are exported mostly red, and but few white ; when to foreign countries, they are branded E. X. B. with a crown ; and when for Great Britain, H. B. also with a crown, sometimes in presence of himself, but mostly by Joseph Lawton, Chief Boatman. The herrings are for the most part shipped at Derbyhaven. The Tidesman always takes an account by a tally of the number of barrels of herrings shipped, except in two instances where he attended himself, and returns that account to him when the cargo is fully shipped ; and upon the faith of the Tidesman’s account, except in the two instances above mentioned, he the Examinant endorses the warrant. No blue books are kept for herrings exported, nor does the Tidesman continue with the vessel except in the day-time when he is taking an account of the number of barrels of herrings shipped, nor does he continue on board after her cargo is completed and the ship cleared out.

There has been no wool shipped within his port for a great number of years ; but when it was shipped, and that was only three or four times, bond was taken for the due landing in Great Britain, and he attended himself and weighed the wool, and saw it shipped. He does not remember the exportation of any sheep. No sheep or wool have been carried coastwise in this port.

The chief articles of smuggling into this island are brandy, geneva, and coarse tea, and some silks, of which last article he was informed a large quantity was lately smuggled, but did not get information in due time to seize them : and he believes that salt is smuggled out of the Island.

That he has made several seizures, particularly seven boxes of tea at one time, thirteen hogsheads of brandy at another time, and nine hundred and twenty-nine pounds of tea at a third time, and several other seizures ; these happened many years ago. He seized last year one hundred and thirty-two pounds of tea and some printed linens from Ireland ; and he was at the seizing thirty five ankers of geneva about a fortnight ago near Derbyhaven.

He is Collector of the Harbour dues within the district of the port of Derbyhaven, by appointment of the Deputy Receiver General. He has no salary, and has only five per cent. upon what he collects, and he loses by the office, being put to great expence in riding to the different places, and the collection small.

He does not recollect that vessels bound from Great Britain to foreign parts have relanded any part of their cargoes in this Island; or that merchant vessels homeward bound to Great Britain have landed any goods in the Isle of Man.


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


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