[Appendix B(69) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]

APPENDIX (B.) N° 69.


The EXAMINATION of Mr. JOHN GAMMELL, Collector at the Port of Ramsay in the Isle of Man, taken at Douglas the 18th and 19th of October 1791.

THIS Examinant saith, that he is Collector at the port of Ramsay, and was appointed to that office by a constitution of the Treasury in the year 1788. He took the oath of office on such appointment, but did not then, nor has he since, given security for his, good conduct. He tendered security, but it was not taken by the Deputy Receiver General, owing, as he informed this Examinant, to his not being able to obtain the proper forms from the Receiver General’s agent in London.

Prior to this appointment, he was Acting Collector at the same port for about five years, then gave security in the sum of five hundred pounds to Mr. Lutwidge the Receiver General by whom he was appointed.

He was never put under instructions to qualify him for his office, nor has he received any written or printed instructions for that purpose.

He has a salary of fifty pounds a year, and takes fees such as have been usual at the port, and which in the year 1790 amounted to fifty-fix pounds eleven shillings and six pence; out of which he pays twelve pounds per annum to the Acting Controller, by order of the late Receiver General. Gratuities he does not take.

There is not any table of fees hung up in the custom-house at this port.

He has no directions to superintend and govern the different officers belonging to Ramsay but in case of any neglect or misconduct on the part of any officers, he either reprimands them himself, and reports such reprimand to the Deputy Receiver General, or reports their conduct immediately. No punishment has, that he recollects, been inflicted in consequence of a report, nor has it had any effect upon the behaviour of the officers.

Upon the arrival of a vessel, the master makes his report before him, or in his absence be the Controller, generally, but not always, on oath. And in this report he specifies the different particulars which the law requires. The merchant then produces an account of the goods, and makes his entry. The duties are calculated on entries of any importance, by both himself and the Controller, and the warrant goes to the Searcher for the delivery. The entries so made and the duties collected, are inserted in separate books kept by him and the Controller, these books compared from time to time. At the end of each quarter, an account is made of all entries inwards and outwards, and of the duties collected within that quarter, and, amount remitted and accounted for to the Deputy Receiver General.

The Deputy Receiver General does not examine and compare the reports, entries, and warrants, with the quarter books, but comes over quarterly, and pays the officers ; and at this time, if any thing intricate arises, this Examinant lays it before him for his advice or direction.

The principal duties at this port are taken ad valorem.

The value of the article entered is ascertained generally by the oath of the importer ; in cases, by his producing the invoice, and the duties are calculated upon such value.

He apprehends the officer is entitled, if he deems the value less than it ought to be, to take the goods, paying ten per cent. above the value given in. He has in three or four cases so done. The laft was about four years ago, on a cargo of deals ; deeming the goods to be undervalued he took them ; but the importer having applied to the Deputy Receiver General, a second valuation was made, which amounted to between thirty and forty pounds more than the first; and as he recollects, the total of the first value was one hundred and twenty pounds or thereabouts. This was done by the direction of the Deputy Receiver General. In all the instances, except one, a second valuation was admitted. The article excepted was a box of hats, which were valued about five pounds ; and by private sale at Douglas, according to the direction of the Receiver General, they produced between seven and eight pounds.

Vessels freighted with salt frequently arrive at the port of Ramsay. He grounds his certificate to the shipping port of the quantity delivered, upon the endorsernent of the Deputy Searcher on the back of the warrant as to the quantity landed all other certificates of articles delivered at his port are likewise grounded upon the endorsement of the Deputy Searcher.

In the case of coals, the duty is taken according to the quantity contained in the cocket from the shipping port. If it be a part discharge, the entry is not made till the coals are landed, and the quantity is taken upon the Deputy Searcher’s verbal report, and the warrant made out accordingly, and the quantity so landed endorsed upon the cocket.

Blank blue books, sealed and signed by himself, are issued to the Deputy Seacher for the delivery of salt, timber, and oak bark, and returned to the office by the Deputy Searcher, containing an account of the goods discharged, signed by the Tidesman on board the vessel.

These blue books are sometimes compared with the Searcher’s endorsement on the warrant, but not with the report ; and if, upon this comparison with the endorsement, it appears that more has been discharged than was entered, a post entry is made for the difference, which dif.ference he has frequently observed.

In the case of vessels wrecked or stranded, blue books are also issued.

Respecting exports, the master enters his ship outwards, the merchant obtains a sufferance, the goods shipped are endorsed on the back of the sufferance by the Deputy Searcher, an affidavit as to the quantity endorsed is made by the merchant, and from thence an entry is made and cocket granted, to which a certificate, being a copy of the affidavit, is annexed, and his account of exports is taken from the quantity so endorsed.

Red herrings are very seldom exported from Ramsay ; white ones in small quantities are frequently so to Great Britain. Upon the endorsement of the Deputy Searcher on the warrant or sufferance, of the number of barrels branded and shipped, and the oath of the exporter, a cocket and certificate are made out.

The shilling bounty is paid by the Receiver General at the end of the season, on a debenture being produced to him by the exporter, signed by the Collector and Controller; on which debenture the exporter has made oath, that the herrings so exported were caught upon the coasts of the Isle of Man, and cured therein.

He does not recollect that salt has ever been carried coastwise from Ramsay, nor have sheep, that he knows of; wool and woollen yarn have been carried coastwise, in which case bond is taken ; and returns of the landing have in all the cases he knows of been received. Sheep and wool have within his time been frequently exported from this port to Great Britain, and regular returns of the landing have been received.

He has no official knowledge of the number of boats belonging to Ramsay, except when they apply to be registered, or for licence. He gives orders. to the officers of his Port, to take care that no boats liable to registry be allowed to sail until so registered ; but there are many, notwithstanding which have not certificates of registry, though they ought by law to take them our. No account of the arrivals or failings of vessels either in the harbour or bay of Ramsay has been rendered to him by the Chief Boatman of the port. From. the want of this account he has not been able to ascertain whether certain vessels had either been in the harbour, or bay, when application for such information had been made by the commanders of admiralty or revenue cruizers.

This Examinarit saith, that he apprehends smuggling obtains to confiderable extent at present in this Island ; and he grounds his opinion upon the number of smuggling vessels which come on the coast, and the common use of geneva and brandy in the Island.

Gin, brandy, and tea are, he apprehends, the principal articles of inward smuggling, and, he believes, some tobacco is also smuggled in : the bay of Ramsay, and off the Rue Point between Jerby and the Point of Ayre, are places within the district of his port where these illegal practices frequently happen. Salt is, he thinks, the principal article smuggled out of the Island.

He apprehends that the smuggling in of geneva and brandy might in some measure be cured, by allowing a certain quantity of those articles to be imported upon a moderate duty. According to the quantum of drawback on tea exported to this Island from England, and the rate of duty here on that article, he thinks it is drank dearer in the Isle of Man than in England, and that this is a temptation to smuggle it in. A reduction of the import duty into the Island would, he thinks, be one means of preventing the smuggling this article.

He apprehends the smuggling of salt out might best be prevented by warehousing the article, and removing it by permit.

He has no reason to believe that goods shipped from Great Britain for exportation to foreign countries are re-landed in the Isle of Man, or that merchant vessels homeward-bound smugggle [sic] into this Island.

He has had no revenue acts, except two, transmitted him for four years, and is at a great loss how to. proceed for want thereof,

In case of vessels wrecked or standed, the officers of the Custos attend and secure the articles in the warehouse until delivered up to the proprietor for exportation, or until duties are received, if the articles are sold in the Island : In both cases the salvage dues are retained. The Trinity lights, and the sixpence for Greenwich hospital, have never been collected in the port of Ramsay by him, nor has he any comrnission for collecting them.

That none of the officers in his port are, to his knowledge, engaged in any trade, and that all reside there. The Riding Officers’ journals are not submitted to his inspection. Mr. Dan Gell, the Riding Officer at Ramsay, does not, to his knowledge, keep a horse, but hires,or borrows when he has occasion ; and he apprehends, if there is smuggling on the coast that an officer would not be able either to hire or borrow one.

He acts as a Deputy Water Bailiff, under an appointment from Mr. George Savage, the Water Bailiff, and has been such for near three years ; for which he is promised a salary of five pounds a year, but has not yet received any. In virtue of this appointment, he is one of the commissioners for managing the harbour dues.


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


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