[Appendix C(6) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]


The EXAMINATION of JOHN QUAYLE, Esq. Clerk of the Rolls, taken at Castletown, October 15, 1791.

THIS Examinant saith, That he was Comptroller and Chief Clerk of the Rolls, from the year 1755 to the time of the Reverting Act: in the year 1765 : That during some months in the year 1755, he executed the offices of Attorney General, Steward of the Garrisons and Demesnes, Commander of Derby Fort, and one of the three persons appointed to execute the office of Collector:

That before the year 1765, the office of Comptroller was generally connected with that of Clerk of the Rolls, though the former was the superior office : That he was entitled to a salary of 311. 13s. 4d. currency, as Comptroller; and to a salary of 81. currency, as Clerk of the Rolls. The duty of the Comptroller was to superintend and comptrol all the Lord’s revenue and manerial books, the receipts and disbursernents of all the officers of the different departments ; and was to extract~ all the fines and amercements from his civil and manerial books; and likewise, with the assistance of the Governor and Council, to audit all the expences of the Lord Proprietor, sovereign and manerial : That the duty of the Clerk of the Rolls was to keep the records of all the Lord’s courts, both sovereign and manerial ; and to issue out copies of all records which were evidence That he was entitled to certain fees on all copies taken of records ; but for greater certainty respecting the amount of such fees, he refers to the statute of 1726, whereby he was authorized to receive them : That both these offices, when possessed by different persons, were of the Governors Standing Council, where they had a voice, and might demand a seat without a summons : That both these offices, prior to the year 1765, were appointed by commission from the Lord, and held during pleasure : That the duty of the Attorney General was, to prosecute all causes commenced in the Lord’s name, in his Civil and Criminal courts ; to take an account of all waifs and estrays; to settle rents on new enclosed lands ; to plead for all widows and orphans, and not to receive more than 2d. Manks by way of fee for the same : That he was entitled to a salary of 15 ~l. currency, but to no other fees whatever : That he was at liberty to act in his professional capacity ; and that he was regularly a member of the Governor’s Standing Council.

That the Steward of the Garrisons superintended and directed the repairs of the Lord’s houses, forts, and castles ; and on particular days provided entertainment at the castle, and ammunition at the garrisons and forts ; he likewise took an account and directed the application of carriage services, and received the composition for these services when paid : That in this part of his duty he was assisted by an overseer : That he, as Steward of the Garrison, received a salary of 81. Manks, and the Overseer had a salary of 40s. out of the establishment : That the command of Derby Fort was almost a sinecure ; that it entitled him to a salary of 81. currency : That as one of the three persons who jointly executed the office of Collector, his duty was to collect all the Lord’s port duties and herring customs, and other revenues : That they enjoyed a salary of 201. among them, and were entitled to a fee of 16d. for granting a cocker, to 6d. for an entry, to 3d. for a port entry, and to 6d. for a permit.

And this Examinant further saith, That since the revestment in the year 1765, the Comptroller’s office and salary has ceased, but that the office of Clerk of the Rolls still continues, which he holds by patent during pleasure, at a salary of 501. per annum : That he is now Keeper of all Records in His Majesty’s civil and criminal courts, and issues copies thereof, which are evidence:

That annually, between the 10th of October and 25th of December, he extracts all fines arising from these records, as the Comptroller formerly did, which fines are levied by the Coroners, and, paid to the Governor’s order That he acts ‘is Register, Protonotary, Remembrancer, and Chief Clerk in all the King’s courts , and in the court of Chancery he acts as a Master, and has the same fees of office as the Clerk of the Rolls formerly had

That all records are entered once a year in the proper books

Since the revestment, a new office of Clerk of the Council has been created, which is held by this Examinant at a salary of £50 per annum That he has neither commission, patent, nor written appointment to this office That he receives his salary under the King’s warrant That he takes no oath of office, and performs no duty in respect thereof, other than that which he formerly did as Clerk of the Rolls

That the offices of Commander of Derby Fort and Steward of the Garrisons ceased up the revestment That a Store Keeper and Overseer of Works has, since that period, been appointed by the Board of Ordnance, whom this Examinant apprehends would be the person authorised to call for carriage services

That the records of the island are kept in the Clerk of the Rolls office in the castle That the first record extant there is dated in the year 1417 That there are none from that period the year 1422, from which time such as are extant are to be met with in that office That originals of all the acts and ordinances of Tynwald that have been passed since the year 1422, there deposited

And this Examinant further saith, That prior to the year 1765, the constitution or legislature of this island consisted of three branches ; namely, the Lord Proprietor, the Governor and Council, and the House of Keys : that the Standing Council of the Governor were, the Receiver General, the Comptroller, the Clerk of the Rolls, the Collector, the Water Bailiff, the Attorney General, and the two Deemsters : That the Ecclesiastical Estate consisted of the Bishop and his two Vicars General, the Archdeacon, and his Official.

That the act of Tynwald 1422 enumerates the Barons to be summoned to pass an act, who were six in number : That four of the said Baronies there mentioned exist at this day ; namely, the Bishop’s Barony, now held by the Bishop; the Abbot’s Barony, now held by the Duke of Atholl; the Barony of Bangor and Sabel, now held by lease from the Crown by the Duke of Atholl ; and the Barony of St. Trinians, now held by this Examinant.

This Examinant apprehends, That the Standing Council were essential members of the legislature : That the ecclesiastics were sometimes summoned, but that it was optional in the Governor whether he would require their attendance; and he conceives the Deemsters were part of the Governor’s Standing Council, in its legislative capacity, from being frequently named as parties in the different acts of Tynwald, and from their constant attendance on the Council when acting in its legislative capacity. He apprehends that the Duke of Atholl, as Lord paramount of the isle, and proprietor of the Abbey of Rushen, has, since the revestment, a right to be summoned:

That he does not: know what number of the Council were, before the year 1765, necessary, with the Governor, to constitute a house, to act in their legislative capacity ; but on all occasions the Governor’s presence is absolutely necessary. He does not know any precedent or instance where any number is specified, except for the purpose of the confirmation of deeds, where two must be present with the Governor : but thinks it was necessary, prior to the year 1765, that three of the Council at least must have concurred with the Governor to make any act binding in their legislative capacity.

This Examinant further saith, That from time immemorial, and from every thing upon record that he has seen, the House of Keys has consisted, and does consist of 24 members. Upon a vacancy the House of Keys nominated, and presented in writing, the names of two persons to the Governor, for the purpose of supplying the vacancy : That the Governor chose which of the two he thought proper to appoint, and caused him to be sworn in a member of the House of Keys:

That he never remembers, nor has heard of any instance, where the Governor has refused both the persons so nominated : That the person so sworn in was a member for life, unless expelled ; of which there are instances in the turbulent times of Charles the First. He apprehends that the qualifications necessary to be a Key are, to be of the age of 21 years, and to be seised in fee of at least one quarter lands or of intacks of the annual rent of three pounds in the Lord’s books; and he founds this opinion upon a judgrnent of the Deemsters and Keys, made in the Exchequer Book sometime about the year 1719, whereby the being seised of a quarter land, or of intacks to the value of three pounds annually, gives to the person so seised the privileges of a native. He apprehends that if a Key were to part with his estate, that it is in the power of the House to declare his seat vacant : That residence is not necessary; but he conceives that the House might declare a seat vacant upon continued absence.

That seats were vacated by members taking any office by the Lord’s commission, whereby they became of the Standing Council, or were appointed Deemsters ; and that seats were suspended by any appointment pro tempore from the Governor.

That the officers of the House are, a Speaker, and a Secretary. The House elect a Speaker among themselves whom they present to the Governor That he remembers no instance where the person so chosen has been refused by the Governor, or afterwards removed by the House.

That before the year 1734, all the expences of the House were borne by themselves. Since that time a small fund has been raised of the amount of 121. or 141. annually, by the payment of 9d. out of the tax levied on all persons who keep public houses ; out of which they pay 31. to the Secretary ; 1s. per diem, during the session, to a constable ; and the remainder is expended in stationary, fire, candle, and other incidental expences

This Examinant further saith, That the only privileges attached to a seat in the House of Keys are, to be exempt from all services on courts or juries, and from the performance of carriage service; and that the members were licensed to kill game.

That the places of meeting of the House of Keys are at Castletown and St. John’s Chapel, whenever the Governor thinks proper to assemble them by his precept to the Coroners, directing all the members within their Sheading to meet at the time specified : That such meeting is generally at their own request : That the Governor may either refuse or comply with such requisition:

That when the House is assembled, the continuance of their session is at their own discretion, unless adjourned by the Governor, who, as this Examinant apprehends, may interfere and adjourn them, sine die, or oblige them to finish their business before they part ; and has heard of an instance where the Governor has exercised this power, between the years 1750 and 1754, on which occasion the House remonstrated to the Lord Proprietor, who confirmed the Governor’s proceeding:

That when their business is finished, they make a return to the Governor of their proceedings in writing

That thirteen members are necessary to constitute a house, and they cannot proceed to business without that number ; nor is any act affecting the public legal or valid without the concurrence and subscription of thirteen members.

That, generally speaking, every vacancy that has happened during a recess, is reported and filled up at the next meeting of the House of Keys ; but this rule is not always strictly adhered to.

That previous to the year 1765 there were generally four seasons at which the Governor, his Standing Council, and the House of Keys met : that they usually met on the 5th of July at Sr. John’s Chapel ., twice at Castletown at the courts of General Gaol Delivery, in the months of’ May and October ; and once at Castletown by precept, generally published at St. John’s Chapel on the Tynwald Hill, to assemble on a day appointed, which was generally in the month of: August.

At any of these meetings or at any occasional meeting of the Governor and Council and Keys, any law might be proposed, either by the House of Keys or the Governor and Council excepting in the case of money bills ; which this Examinant has heard that the House of Keys claim it as their privilege to originate. A conference usually took place without being regularly demanded ; and when they had agreed upon the general principles, a person was appointed to prepare a bill accordingly, which, when drawn, might originate in either house. When the draft of the bill was prepared, and intended to originate from the Governor and. Council the draft was delivered to the Governor, who summoned or fixed a time for the Standing Council, by his Secretary, to read over and debate the same.

That this Examinant acted as Secretary from the year 1755 to the year 1765, and does not recollect: one instance in which an ecclesiastic was summoned to attend upon such an occasion : That there is no journal or minutes of the proceedings of the Governor and Council in their legislative capacity, except the acts and ordinances. He thinks that, before the year 1765, the ecclesiastical members had no right to attend in their legislative capacity unless summoned ; and forms this opinion upon his construction of their oath, and what he considered was the practice of the Governor during the time he has been in office, and from prior records.

That when the bill had been debated and agreed upon by the Governor and Council, the Governor convened the. Keys, who took the bill into consideration in their own house, and had a right either to reject or amend ; if they agreed to it, with any amendments, the House of Keys brought it up to the Governor and Council, and then the amendments were settled. He never knew an instance of a bill being rejected by the Keys, or lost upon any amendments suggested by them : When the bill was thus settled, it was engrossed and signed by the several members of the legislature who had attended the progress thereof: it was then transmitted to the Lord Proprietor, who had a power of rejecting or giving a general or qualified assent. If it was approved, it was returned with the Lord’s approbation signified in writing, and was then promulged at the Tynwald Hill, by reading it fully in the English, and giving the substance of it in the Manks Language, and was then signed in St. John’s Chapel by as many as chose to put their names to it, and from thence became an act of the legislature of the island.

If the bill originated with the House of Keys, the same forms attended it mutatis mutandis. This Examinant believes, That before the year 1765, the debates were carried on publicly, and that persons not members might attend them and that the public were generally acquainted with the purport of the laws then in agitation.

That no alteration has taken place since the year 1765, either in the mode of electing or the qualification of the Keys.

That this Examinant knows of no variation in the passing of laws since the year 1765, except that of being transmitted to the King instead of the Lord Proprietor, and that they are returned by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who signifies His Majesty's consent to the same.

This Examinant saith, That the duties of the Governor and Council, when not acting in their legislative or judicial capacity, was, in cases of emergency, to act for the public good in a summary way, without waiting for the concurrence of the Lord Proprietor or the House of Keys; in laying an embargo on vessels, exporting grain in times of scarcity, as was done in 1645 This Council met when called together by the Governor, who alone had the power of convening ; and this Examinant believes, that neither the Bishop, Vicars-general, Arch-deacon, or Official had, a right to attend this Council without a summons before the year 1765 : and this Examinant thinks, that, since the revestment, these ecclesiastics have still less right to attend this Council with or without summons, as they do not hold their offices under any appointment from the Crown, but from a subject.


J. Spranger.
Wm Osgoode
Willm Roe,
David Reid.



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