[Appendix C(8) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]


THE EXAMINATION of JOHN TAUBMAN, Esq. Speaker of the House of Keys, taken at Castletown, Saturday, October 15, 1791.

Has been a member of the House of Keys these forty years and upwards, and Speaker for six or seven years. The House consists of 24 members. Whenever a vacancy happens, at the next meeting of the House, when the vacancy is to be filled up, every member of the House is at liberty to propose a person to succeed to the vacancy ; and those who are so disposed propose a name, and the Speaker collects the opinion of the House individually, and returns to the Governor the two persons who have the greatest number of voices. in their favour ; and the Governor makes choice of one of the persons so returned ; acquaints the Speaker therewith, and gives directions to the Clerk of the Rolls to administer the usual oaths to the’ party so chosen, in the presence of the Governor.

Never recollects an instance where the Governor rejected both the persons returned by the Speaker.

The person so chosen is a member for life, unless the Governor accepts his resignation, which, he may refuse to do, and as he often has done in this Examinant's time ; apprehends’ that the House has a power of expulsion for .malpractices, and he believes there are instances upon record of their exercising such power.

The acceptance of the Lord’s commission, appointing the party to any of the offices of the Governors's Council, or the office of Deemster, vacates the seat ; but the Governor's commission to any of these offices suspends but does not vacate the seat. This examinant having executed the office of Deemster in the year 1761, under the Governor’s commission for two years, during the indisposition of his uncle ; and upon his uncle’s death, having received a new commission from Governor, under which he acted a short time as Deemster, and this matter coming on to be debated in the House of Keys, it was determined that he had not vacated his seat, by having’ accepted this commission from the Governor and not from the Lord.

That it has been the general custom to elect persons of landed property within the island into the House of Keys, but the exact quantum of such property necessary to constitute a qualification to be elected has not hitherto been ascertained ; but this Examinant does not apprehend that a person not possessed of landed property within the island is eligible into the House of Keys.

That a person must be of the age of 21 years to be elected. That a person not a native of the island having landed property is eligible.

That residence upon the island is not necessary; but in cases of continued absence the House may apply to the Governor to have the seat declared vacant.

That the House have a power of electing a Speaker, who is to be approved of by the Governor ; and it is considered as an office for life. They likewise appoint a Clerk.

The Speaker has no emolument arising from his office. The Clerk’s salary is 3l. per annum which, together with stationary and other incidental expences, is paid out of a small fund of about 12l. or 14l. per annum, arising from a portion of the tax for licensing public houses.

That the debates of the House of Keys are, at the discretion of the House, carried on either with open doors or in private. The debates were generally carried on with open doors ; and this Examinant has known instances of petitions presented against bills pending, and days appointed for hearing the parties in person against such bills. That the House is capable of containing about 36 persons.

That the Keys meet in their legislative capacity as often as the Governor thinks proper to convene them by his summons ; when they are once assembled, the duration of their session is at their own discretion, and the Governor has no power to prorogue them.

That the House may adjourn itself, and appoint committees to transact business. When the business of the session is finished, the Speaker informs the Governor thereof, and requests to know if he has any further commands, and then adjourns the House sine die.

Thirteen members make a House, and that number must concur to render any act valid. Vacancies, generally speaking, are fillled up at the next meeting of the House ; but there are instances to the contrary.

Bills may originate either with the Governor and Council, or the House of Keys; and no particular privilege claimed by the House of Keys with respect to tax or money bills.

If a bill originates in the House of Keys, the Clerk, or any member, may prepare the same which is discussed in the House ; and when approved of by thirteen at least, the Speaker with one or two of the members present it to the Governor and Council, who debate it in their House ; and if approved of by them, the Governor orders it to be engrossed ; the Governor sends a message requesting the attendance of the House of Keys in the Council Chamber, and the bill is there read in the presence of the Governor, Council, and Keys, and signed by as many as approve of the same. The bill was then sent over to the Lord Proprietor for his assent, which was general or qualified ; and when returned with the Lord’s assent, the Governor ordered a court of Tynwald to be held, where the bill was read over in the English and Manks language, and signed by the Governor, Council, and Keys, and then had the force of a law.

If in the progress of a bill it was returned with amendments by the Governor and Council the House of Keys had it in their power to reject or accept these amendments ; and if rejected the bill was thrown out, of which this Examinant has known instances.

It is the privilege of a member of the House of Keys to be exempted generally from all services to the Lord, either by attendance on his courts, watch and ward, or carriage service; and it was always considered that they were entitled to kill game : That the revesting act has no alteration in their proceedings in their legislative capacity, except as to the mode of the royal assent being now given by the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

The House of Keys, in their judicial capacity, was convened by the Governor once a year at least, generally in the month of October, and oftner if he thought proper, for the hearing of appeals. They had an appellate jurisdiction in all causes respecting landed property, from which there only lay an appeal to the Lord Proprietor before the year 1765, and to the King in Council since, and no limitation in these appeals as to the value of the property in question ; and on an appeal from their judgment to the King in Council, the appellant is under the necessity of entering into a bond in the penalty of 100 l.. for the prosecution of the appeal within six months. Before the year 1765 and to the year 1777 they were a court of appeal, in the first instance, from the verdict of all juries in civil cases, and from the determination of the House of Keys to the Lord Proprietor; but in the year 1777, this jurisdiction was, by an act of Tynwald, taken away in some cases. .

That the House of Keys was a component part of the Tynwald Court, and of the court of General Gaol Delivery, prior to the year 1765, and continues so to be.

That previous to the year 1765 this Examinant acted as Steward of the Lord’s Garrisons and demesnes for several years, and in that capacity had the superintendence and directed the application of the Lord's carriage services for the south division, and remembers that these services which he superintended were applied to the repairs of Castle Rushen, and upon the Lord’s demesnes.


This Examinant further saith, That the House of Keys have an original jurisdiction in matters of complaint against their own members in their public capacity, in all matters of lìbel or scandal against any .of the public magistrates or the House of Keys, and also in all matters of complaint of malpractice of the Deemsters, the Vicars-general, and all public magistrates.

And this Examinant apprehends, that the attestation of the Governor and Council and House of Keys to the promulgation of an act of Tynwald, is the act of those persons severally signing the same in their legislative capacity.



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


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