[Appendix B(86) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]

APPENDIX (B.) N° 86.


The MEMORIAL of the Merchants, &c.. of Castletown.

To the Honourable J. Spranger, William Osgoode, William Roe, and David Reid, Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of the Isle of Man.

The Memorial of the Merchants and Shopkeepers of Castletown,


THAT from the total Prohibition of the Importation of foreign Brandy and Geneva into this Island, desperate Adventurers have been encouraged to pursue the illicit Importation of those Commodities, and from the high Duties upon Black Teas in the Island, the illicit importation thereof, even from Great Britain, has been attempted : Your Memorialists therefore beg leave to suggest, that allowing the Importation of a certain limited Quantity of foreign Brandy and Geneva at a moderate Duty, and the lowering the Duty upon Teas into this Island, would discourage illicit Practices and encrease the Revenue.

That the Herring Fishery of this Isle is much discouraged from the like Bounties not being paid thereon as in Great Britain, from the great Restraints upon procuring Materials immediately from the Baltic for the building and fitting out Boats for the Fishery; from the Payment of ten Shillings a Boat charged as Herring Custom ; and from the Payment of the Tithe out of all Fish caught as required by the Laws of this Isle ; and though the Payment of Tithe has been for sometime past suspended, yet as the Law stands, the Payment of Tithe can be at any Time exacted not only for the Time to come, but in many Cases an Account can be required and Payment ordered to be made thereof for the Time past : These are too many discouraging Circumstances not to call forth the Attention of the Government of Great Britain, as well as that of the interior Government of the Island to the Promotion of the Mancks Fishery.

That the Trade of this Isle with Great Britain is also discouraged for the Want of the same Drawback being paid upon Hops and other Articles exported from Great Britain into this Isle as paid upon the exportation of the like Commodities to Ireland.

That the trade between Great Britain and this Isle for bonded and licensed Goods for Home Consumption is also unnecessarily cramped or restricted by reason of the Tonnage required of Vessels to be employed therein being excessive or too high according to the Nature of the Trade. it being necessary for the Shippers of those Goods to have Certificates returned from the Custom-house in the Island to intitle them to the Drawback upon the Goods imported, (and which they could not sell here for Prime Costs without the Drawback being paid,) and to cancel the Bonds entered into for the landing of Goods in this Isle It is humbly submitted, that any Restriction upon the Tonnage of Vessels employed in this Trade is unnecessary, and not founded in found Policy ; but if any Restriction in point of Tonnage should be deemed necessary, it is submitted the same ought not to exceed thirty Tons : And it is also submitted, That the requiring the Tonnage of Vessels employed in conveying Wines to this Isle to be higher than the Tonnage Vessels employed in conveying Wines to England or Ireland, is an unnecessary Restraint and injurious to the Island.

That your Memorialists beg Leave to observe, That the confining or restricting the Importation of Rum, Wines, White Sugar, Teas, Coffee, and Tobacco for Home Consumption, to the Port of Douglas only, is a great Grievance to the Traders, Dealers,and Inhabitants of the other Towns and Districts ; as every Person from Castletown, Peele, or Ramsey, importing a small Quantity of Rum, Wines, White Sugar, Teas, Coffee, and Tobacco into Douglas for Home Consumption, unavoidably incurs an Expence nearly equal to Two and a Half per Cent. upon the Commodity so imported (before he has the same in his own Stores) more than the Inhabitants of the Town of Douglas do incur upon the like Importation ; by Means whereof the Merchants and Dealers in the other Towns are not able to vend their Goods and Merchandize upon equal Terms with the Merchants and Dealers in Douglas : And it is unaccountable how the Markets of Victual and Grain for the necessary Consumption of the Inhabitants of the other Towns are affected by this Circumstance. The Inhabitants in the Neighbourhood of the other Towns withdraw their Provision from their proper Market, proceed with them to Douglas, and sell the same there as low or for a lower Price than they could get for them at their proper Markets, merely on Account of their being able to purchase the Goods hereinbefore-mentioned considerably cheaper at Douglas, from the Difference in the Prime Costs to the Importer as hereinbefore mentioned.

It is therefore submitted, that the allowing the Importation of the several Articles hereinbefore mentioned (under the same Restrictions as in Douglas) into the Port of Darbyhaven or Castletown, the Port of Peele, and the Port of Ramsey, (in each of which a Custom is kept,) would not only be a great Advantage and Convenience to the Merchants, Dealers, and Inhabitants of the said Towns and Districts, but would also greatly tend to the general Improvement of the whole Island.

That your Memorialists cannot but observe with concern, That Persons resident in England have of late, by making use of fictitious Names, obtained the Licences for the Shipping of the whole Quantity of Licensed Goods, particularly the Rum and Tobacco, which are allowed to be imported to the Island in one Year, and by that Means the Rum and Tobacco are monopolized into the Hands of two or three Persons in England, unconnected with the Island; and the said Rum and Tobacco Merchants in this Isle are obliged to become Purchasers of their Rum and Tobacco from these Importers in some Measure by Retail, whereby the Price of these Articles is greatly enhanced to the Consumer.

That though it is not an easy Matter to prevent a Monopoly of any Commodity when the Importation thereof is subject to any Stint or Limitation, yet your Memorialists submit, that if the Channel for obtaining Licences for importing those Goods was to originate with the Resident Governor, who could proportion the Quantity of licensed Goods to be imported into each Port or District in proportion to the Population thereof and the whole Quantity allowed, and recommend such of the Merchants or Dealers, or other Inhabitants in each of the Towns or Districts who should apply to them for that Purpose, to the honourable the Commissioners of the Customs in England to obtain Licences for the importing the goods to be imported into each Town and District, the Person or Persons f applying first making Oath that the Goods lb to be licensed were really meant to be wholly imported without unnecessary Delay ; and your Memorialists are convinced that this, or some similar Regulation, will be absolutely necessary to prevent a Monopoly as long as the Island is confined to a limited Importation of those Goods and Merchandize. .

That your Memorialists beg Leave to call your Attention to the State of the Harbours of Darbybaven and Castletown :—.-That several Years ago a considerable Sum, Part of the Public Highroad Fund, and also a considerable Sum raised by private Subscriptions, had been laid out to remove the old Bridge at Castletown, and erect a new one higher up the River, in order to enlarge the Harbour and form a Bason above the old Bridge for the Safety of Vessels : That the said Sums of Money had been raised as aforesaid upon the Faith of the Promise of the Commissioners of the Harbours, or some of them: That a Wharf or Quay for the landing of Goods and securing of Vessels should be erected at the Expence of the Harbour Fund from the old Bridge along the South Side of the said Bason to the new Bridge : That the said Work was undertaken five Years ago, or upwards, the new Bridge made passable, and the old Bridge taken down ; yet the said Wharf has not been built, nor scarcely begun, though considerable Sums of Money have been paid in the said Port as Harbour Dues, which have been regularly remitted to the Custom-house at Douglas, as your Memorialists are informed by the Custom-house Officers, who take Charge of the said Deeds and of the said Harbour : That your Memorialists submit, that it is an Act of Injustice to the Merchants and Traders of this Town to pay Harbour Dues to be remitted to or laid out any where else whilst their own Port is in so disgraceful a State that even a Fishing Boat is not safe or secure therein : And they also submit, that the Harbour Dues levied in the said Port ought to be laid out to render the same as secure and commodious for Vessels as the Nature or Situation of the Port can admit.

That before the reinvesting of the Island in His Majesty the Care and Charge of the Repairs of the Harbours were committed to Persons annually chosen from amongst the Merchants and principal Gentlemen in or about the Sea-port Towns, and since that Time the Charge of the Harbours hath been committed principally to Revenue Officers ; and it is much to be wished that the System as existed before 1765, for repairing the Harbours, was revived , as he Merchants, who will ‘ver be most interested in the good Condition of the Harbours, for the Safety of their Trade and Shipping,) will ever be most attentive to the improvement thereof.

Your Memorialists therefore pray, that you may take the several Grievances herein set forth into due Consideration, and to suggest and recommend such Remedies in the Premises as you in your Wisdom may judge the Nature and Circumstances of the several Matters hereinbefore mentioned require, and can be granted consistent with the Security of the Revenues of Great Britain and Ireland ; and your Memorialists shall pray, &c.

1st November 1797.

Edward Killey.
John Duggran.
William Nelson.
Edward Gelling.
Robert Quayle, Junior.
John Stewart.
Thomas Quilliam.



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