[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 1 pp141/149]


A.W. MOORE, F.R.H.S., &c. (Read February 11, 1890.)

The exposed situation of the Isle of Man to attacks from every quarter must have rendered provisions and regulations for its defence a matter of the first importance to its inhabitants from the earliest times. That this necessary duty was not neglected is clear, not only from the numerous remains of ancient earthwork fortifications, which are still to be seen, but from existing local names, which show that there were watch stations on various points of vantage from whence the earliest possible information as to an enemy’s approach was conveyed to the inhabitants by lighting beacons. The best known of these stations is the precipitous CRONK-NY-ARREY-LHAA, " Hill of the day watch," near Port Erin. It would appear that this method of announcing a coming foe, which had almost certainly been practised by the Celtic inhabitants, was continued by the Scandinavian conquerors of Man, as it is recorded in their names of VARDA-FJALL " Beacon fell," now SOUTH BAROOLE, and ELBY " Fire place." Of the actual military organisation of the Celtic inhabitants of Man we have no record, but, judging from the division into sheadings, the Norsemen seem, as would naturally be required by their essentially nautical and aggressive policy, to have established a naval organisation, similar to that of the country from whence they had come. It must be remembered, in connection with this, that Scandinavia had a vast coast line, indented with fords and bays, and that its population was mainly composed of mariners, who drew their sustenance from the sea rather than from the land. Hence it arose that from Lofoden down and along the coast of the Baltic, the land, as far inland " as the salmon runs," was divided into " ship-shires " districts, each of which, for defence or war at home or abroad, had to supply, man, and fit out a certain number of galleys. Every freeman born, between twenty and sixty years of age, was bound to serve. These same divisions were established in the Isle of Man by its Norse kings, who were essentially lords of the sea, under the name of skeita-thing—"ship district,"— of which the modern sheading is a corruption. The sheadings practically answer to the hundreds or herdds of Scandinavia, where every hundred had to fit out four ships. The Manx levy would, on the same scale—there being six sheadings—have been twenty-four galleys, and, taking the average crew to be forty, the full levy of the Island (i.e., the male population between twenty and sixty) would be one thousand.

All trace of this ship service had disappeared by the time of the arrival of the Stanleys in the Island, early in the fifteenth century, and the earliest military regulations found in the Statute Book, apart from those which applied to the garrisons, relate only to the duty of keeping a look out for enemies. We find the Deemsters informing Sir John Stanley that it was one of the "constitutions of old time "that every man was liable to perform the duties of "watch and ward," upon pain of limb and life, "for whosoever fails any night in his ward forfeiteth a wether to the warden ; and to the warden, the second night, a calve ; and the third night life and lyme to the Lord.’ This " watch and ward" was, as we find by the statute of 1422, to be kept upon "the ports and coasts of the sea." From the various commissions which are to be found in the records, we gather that there was a " warden of the watch," both day and night, in each parish,whom all persons were required " to yield their obedience unto, upon pain of sore punishment, as by the laws of this Isle, and as they will answer the contrary." In 1496 several persons were fined for not bringing sufficient arms to the watch hill ; and in the same year a man was presented for keeping the watch cross in his house for nine days and not returning it to the warden. In 1594 "watch and ward" was again the object of the following strict orders

"Whereas the safe keeping of this Isle consisteth in the dutiful and careful observance of watch and ward, without which the Lord can never be well defended, nor the people live in safety ; therefore, be it ordained that all watch and ward be kept according to the strict order of the law ; and that none he sent thither but such as are of discretion, and able to deserve to be careful ; and that the night watch shall come at sun setting, and not depart before the sun rising ; and that the day watch shall come at the sun rising, and not depart before the sun setting."

Later on in the same year the Governor pointed out to the Deemster and Keys he had understood that there was "a great repugnacie" to keeping this watch and ward, and asked their advice as to whether the law with regard to it should remain in force, or whether a portion should be repealed. In reply to this the Deemsters and Keys explained the law to the Governor, and stated their opinion to the effect that the whole law should be enforced as formerly. Blundell. who was in the Isle of Man between 1640 and 1660, wrote about the " watch and ward" in his day as follows :—

" Besides the continual watches kept in every of the towns, castles, and forts on each side of the Island, there are in several places watch and ward continually, very strictly to discover the approach of any ship . . . unto any part of the Island. Thither presently are all the Manksmen of that part or quarter bound to repair unto in arms, upon pain of life and limb. . . . On the west side of the Island there are the hills called the watch hills. . .

But from what part soever they (ships) come, they are perfectly descried from the top of the highest of their hills, which they call Sceaful. . .

On this hill watch and ward is kept continually, the day and night, winter and summer, and if any danger doth appear in any part, the beacon is set on fire immediately. The widows of the Island are bound to disburse for the furnishing those of the watch with fuel, both for the beacon and the warming of those that attend there day and night." 1

From various fines which are recorded in the Exchequer Books at different periods, we learn that "watch and ward" was enforced as late as 1815. In a proclamation issued by Governor Shaw in 1801, the Captains of Parishes are ordered to "fix on the best situations for alarm posts to the end that the most speedy intelligence of an enemy . . , be communicated throughout the Island."

So much for the intelligence department. We have now to inquire into the main part of our subject. This may be considered under two heads— first, the unpaid forces, or the levee en masse ; second, the paid forces.

* The writer begs to acknowledge, with many thanks, the assistance in material he has received from Sir James Gell for writing the above.

1 Manx Soc,, Vol. XXV. , p.p. 93-96,


The first trace of a militia is in the sixteenth [sic ?17th] century. It consisted of 22 companies, under the command of the Lord as Captain-General, or Commander-in-Chief, the Governor usually acting as his deputy ; of a Major-General ; of a Commissioner and Marshall-General ; of a Muster-Master ; of two Majors, one for the South of the Island and the other for the North ; of eighteen Captains of Parishes and four Captains of Towns, and the same number of Lieutenants and Ensigns. Of the officers mentioned above, the Governor was at the head of all the forces, whether regular troops or militia, and the Majors were subordinates in the same capacity, while the Captains, Lieutenants, and Ensigns, except in the towns, belonged to the militia only. The following brief extracts from the commissions of the various officers, will give an idea of their respective duties

The Major-General, who was also Constable of Peel Castle, had control, under the Governor, of "all the companies and forces" . . . with " full power and authority to call the said companies to such place and places as he shall think most convenient, and to instruct and exercise them." He was also usually appointed Constable of Peel Castle at a salary, in the eighteenth century, of £30 per annum. The Governor himself was generally Constable of Rushen.

The oath administered to the Major General was as follows :—

"Your allegiance to the King’s Majesty reserved ; you shall bear truth and fidelity to . . . Lord of Man and the Isles, and his heirs, during your life. You shall not reveale the secretts of this Isle, nor houses or garrisons therein, to any foreigner or stranger. You, as Major General of all the companies and forces of this Isle, shall execute the said place according to the rules and discipline of war, and according to such further orders and instructions as you shall from time to time receive from the Rt. Honble the Lord of this Isle, or from the Governor for the time being. And to do and perform all other things proper to the said office and place of Major-General, and according to the purport and extent of your Commission and the Laws of this Isle, so far as in you lyeth. So God you help, and by the contents of this Book."

The Commissioner and Marshall-General’s duties were not specified. He received a salary of £10 per annum. The Muster-Master, who seems to be what we should now term a Adjutant, was entitled to call the companies only (i.e., the militia, not the regular troops) " to such place as he shall think most convenient and fit," but he was " to take a list of all the arms . . , and to see that they be kept fired and fit for service." His salary was £10 per annum.

The Majors had " to exercise the officers and soldiers of ye sd parishes and garrisons in arms," and also " to use" (his) "care and endeavour to keep them in good order and discipline."

The Parish Captain was the highest purely militia officer. He had nothing to do with the garrisons, but was "Captain of the Foot Company of and belonging to the parish of . . . (with) full power and authority to perform and execute the sd post in all matters and things thereunto belonging, according to" (his) " duty and to train up and exercise the sd Company agreeable to the rules, orders, and discipline of war." The Lieutenants and Ensigns of the Parish Companies had similar Commissions. The Captains of the Town Companies of Douglas and Ramsey were also appointed to the command of the fort and garrison within their respective towns, thus

" .. . to be Captain and Commander of the Fort of . . . and of the forces unto the said Fort and Town belonging . . . and to train and exercise the Company belonging to the said Fort and Town according to the rules, order, and discipline of war. The salary of this post was £ 6 13s. 4d. per annum. The Lieutenants and Ensigns of the Town Companies were likewise appointed to the garrisons. In the more important forts of Peel and Castletown the Captain had also the title of Deputy Constable, and performed the same duties as the Captains of Douglas and Ramsey, but at a salary of £12 per annum.

Of the twenty-two Companies, four belonged to the Towns, and eighteen to the seventeen Parishes, the parish of Lezayre, curiously enough, though never one of the most populous, having two companies, for the west and east divisions respectively. All the able-bodied men between twenty and sixty years were compelled to serve, upon pain, as we learn from the orders in 1594, " of forfeiting Life, Body, and Goodes," and any one who absented himself from the muster was to be "punished by fine and imprisonment, unless he be letted with sickness or such like lawful excuse."

The following oath of allegiance and fidelity was administered to the companies of the militia of the respective parishes and their officers :—

" You shall have and give all due allegiance to our Sovereign (King or Queen), and to all his or her lawful heirs and successors during your lives. You shall bear true faith and fidelity to your Right Honourable . . . Lord of this Isle, and his lawful heirs and successors during your lives. You shall not reveal or disclose the secrets of this Isle and garrisons therein to any foreigner or stranger, or whosoever else you know or suspect not to he sworn thereunto. You shall be obedient to the Governor (Lieutenant or Deputy) and the Government of this Isle, according to the laws and jurisdiction thereof; and likewise to your superior officers of the militia for the time being. You shall, to the utmost of your power, give your best assistance to the defence of this Island against the enemy or invaders thereof, of what nation soever they be, and use your best endeavours for the preservation of the peace and safety thereof. You shall make known as much as in you lieth to the Lieutenant-Governor or Deputy, or other superior officer or officers, either civil or military, all plots, treasons, and Conspiracies that shall be at any time hereafter contrived, plotted, or intended against the Royal Person, Crown, and dignity of our said dread Sovereign Lord and King (or Queen) and his (or her) lawful heirs and successors, and you shall not be aiding, abetting, contriving, or councilling (sic) therein ; but make known and reveal the same within twenty-four hours after any such thing or things shall come to your knowledge, by any manner of way or means whatever ; so help you God and the contents of this Book."

The only appearance of the militia on active service, as far as is known, was in 1651, when, under the command of Receiver-General, William Christian, they rose against the Countess of Derby and captured all the forts, except Peel and Rushen. They had also taken Peel, but had been driven out of it again. Each Company, as we learn from the depositions at their commander’s trial, had then been summoned by its Captain, according to the ancient custom, by sending round the cross, of which he had the custody. This cross consisted of two pieces of wood each about the length of a man’s arm. When it was required to summon the militia of the parish, the Captain gave it to his next neighbour with instructions that the muster was to be at such a place, and then it was passed from neighbour to neighbour till the whole parish was informed. It certainly. does not seem creditable to Manxmen that they made use of their military training to oppose their own Lord, but it must be remembered that there was at that time a very prevalent feeling of discontent at the change which Earl James had made in the land tenure, which had doubtless accentuated their sympathy with the Parliamentary cause.

Rebellion had, in fact, been smouldering since 1643, from which year it had only been suppressed by the presence of the Earl in the Island with English troops, and on his departure and death in 1651 it broke out, as stated above. With reference to this militia, Chaloner, the then Governor of the Island, writing in 1656, remarked "that bodies of the inhabitants are made use of for its defence, for every parish hath a captain, under whom are listed, disciplined, and arrayed, such as are meet for war, of whom they have about 1,500 ready upon occasion ; and, in case of necessity. I believe they might arm 5,000 or 6,000 men." In Sacheverell’s time (1696) this force numbered about 2,000, "governed," as he says, " under the Governor, by three majors and eighteen captains of parishes ; the towns by four constables." 1 One of these Majors was perhaps the Major-General, as there were only two Majors of militia. In the Act of Settlement, dated 1704, there is a note to the effect that this Act "shall be no way construed and taken to free and discharge the tennants and inhabitants of this Isle from giving their best assistance or supply for the defence of the Isle in time of war or imminent danger."2 And in 1715, at the time of the Jacobite rebellion, we learn from a correspondence which then took place between the Governor, Alexander Horne, and the House of Keys, concerning the defence of the Isle in "the disturbed state of the adjacent kingdoms," that the Keys stated that the note in the Act of Settlement, referred to above, "lays no new obligation on the people, and is no more than saying that such should not be construed to free and discharge the inhabitants, which, as we have formerly answered in 1708, we are willing to comply with in giving our best assistance according to what is most accustomed and still intended, namely, our personal aid, and that without pay, close (sic.) or provision, wherein we shall always be ready to witness our true allegiance to the Crown of Great Britain, and our endeavours for the safety and defence of the Isle, whenever you think fit to head us." From another portion of this correspondence we find that, on the Governor remarking that the arms belonging to the garrisons were dispersed through the country "in a condition that I am sorry to mention"; and, therefore, applying to the Keys to consider with him and the Council the "proper means for raiseing (sic.) money to supply these defects " ; the Keys replied that the inhabitants were always supplied with arms and ammunition out of the garrisons, and that they would decline to subscribe to repair them, as this had always been done by the Earls of Derby, who had "for that end and purpose allowed a standing salary for two armourers."

Though the Keys were probably correct as to the recent practice in this respect, it seems certain that in more ancient times each man’s weapons were his own private property, and not borrowed from the garrisons, for in 1419 twenty-four jurors swore that among the corbes belonging to a man, which should descend to his heir, were his " Bowe and Arrows, Sword and Buckler." It is possible that the change took place on the introduction of fire-arms. How this discussion between the Governor and Keys ended is not known, but the following notice of the Duke of Athol’s arrival in the Island in 1736 shows that there was then a well-armed militia. He landed at Derbyhaven, where he was received by "the militia of the town of Castletown under arms."3 From thence to Tynwald he was escorted by the horse militia (see post), and "from the Mount towards the Chapel, and within the sloping banks, stood in two lines a regiment of foot militia, well-armed, and with drums, colours, and music."4 In 1748, the feelings expressed by the inhabitants against the purchase of arms had evidently disappeared, as it was then represented by the Keys that the inhabitants were "willing and desirous to purchase arms for themselves, and each to keep a firelock in his house always in good order and fit for service."5 It was, therefore, enacted that every "Landowner and other Housekeeper within this Isle, being Protestants," should "purchase themselves arms as requested . . . provided they always keep them clean and in good order in the sight of the Captains of their respective Parishes and Towns in their several divisions, who for that end and purpose are to call them forth with their arms at least four times in the year, and report them to the Governor."6 All drill, however, seems to have ceased after the English Crown came into possession of the Island in 1765 ; and in 1779 we learn from a letter that "for some years past the custom of often calling the inhabitants together to muster being entirely neglected in most of our parishes, and few officers capable of teaching the exercise properly remained in any of them. All, or most of the men became altogether unaccustomed to and ignorant of any military order or discipline."7 In 1798 Feltham mentions the "militia commanded, under the Governor, by three Majors and seventeen Captains of Parishes" who were only embodied "in case of common danger."8 In 1801, if we are to judge by Governor Shaw’s proclamation this ancient organisation does not appear to be recognised, for he orders the captains of parishes and towns to make lists "first of those able to bear arms, and willing to join the enrolled volunteers in the more active defence of their country . . . and next of those to be employed with the able women in driving cattle and other effects to the mountains" ; and their arms must have disappeared, because the Governor wishes to know the number in each category, that he "may better know how to divide the number of pikes now in the Island." It is curious that, though the militia has not been called out for drill for 125 years, its Captains, both of towns and parishes, have been continued as civil officers, the former till 1777, when the High-Bailiffs were appointed, and the latter till the present day. Even lieutenants and ensigns were appointed till the end of last century, though they seemed to have had no duties. The civil Captain of the town had "full power and authority," in the words of his commission, " in his Majesty’s name, to command the peace, suppress riots, commit offenders, and, either by himself if occasion so require, or by any of his Majesty’s Head Constables, or Petit Constables, execute all civil actions, arrests, rules, orders, judgments, processes, assistances, and other proceedings of the several courts, both at law and in equity as well as all other judges, magistrates, and officers authorised on that behalf, and, also, to do and execute all other matters and things appertaining to the office of captain." The Captains of the parishes are still supposed to "train up and exercise" the militia ; but their real duties are connected with the preservation of the peace, and, in accordance with recent legislation, in acting as returning officers at elections. The uniform worn by the foot militia, or rather, by its surviving captains, as late as 50 years ago, was dark blue with red facings. Besides the foot militia, there was also an ancient horse militia, called either "The Horsemen of the Militia," or "The Parochial Horse," who would seem to have corresponded to the English yeomanry. It is said to have been composed of four men from each parish, or 68 in all ; but in 1736 it seems to have been more numerous, as on the arrival of the Duke of Athol in that year he went to Tynwald "attended by three squadrons of horse militia, one bay, the second black, and the third grey, well mounted and armed, commanded by their officers, and with drums and standards, on the latter of which were embroidered the arms of the Isle."9 In 1793, also, they exceeded the above number, for Briscoe’s "Manx Mercury," in describing the proceedings at Tynwald, remarks that, " in addition to the Manx Fencibles, his Excellency (the Duke of Athol) was attended by the cavalry of the Isle, which consists of a certain number of horsemen from each parish, amounting in all to upwards of a hundred. They were all properly accoutered, and appeared a remarkably fine body of men." In the Orderly Book of the Fencibles, referring to the arrangements for the same occasion, the following notice occurs :—"The Hill will be guarded by the horsemen, who, on all such occasions, are the constitutional guards of the Governor and Legislature of the Island, and to be considered as the eldest brothers of the infantry." In 1820 this corps consisted of one troop. under a Captain-Commandant, two Lieutenants, and a Cornet. in 1822 it was at the Tynwald, but after that date nothing more is heard of it.

During the period of the long war with France, at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, several volunteers corps were embodied. They were — " The troop of Constitutional Dragoons," "The Yeomanry Cavalry," "The Manx Gentlemen and Yeomanry," and " The South Manx Volunteers," and " Dawson’s Volunteers," who were foot soldiers. The troop of Constitutional Dragoons was raised in 1793, mainly by the exertions of George Quayle, of Castletown, but it did not last long, as in 1796 the Duke of Athol found fault with its appearance and with some arrangements made by the officers, who in consequence resigned, and the troop was disbanded. In 1799 the indefatigable George Quayle organised "The Manx Gentlemen and Yeomanry," which was disembodied on the conclusion of peace in 1802. Their uniform was dark blue. "The Manx Yeomanry Cavalry" was destined to have a longer career. It was formed in 1796, disembodied in 1802, but embodied again in 1803, and was not finally disbanded till 1825. We hear of them, under the command of Captain Thomas (Deemster) Gawne, escorting the Duke of Athol to the Tynwald in 1813, and in 1822, under the command of Lieutenant Corlett, they performed the same office. In 1799 "The South Manx Volunteers," consisting of two companies. and Dawson’s Volunteers," consisting of one company, were raised. They were disembodied in the year 1802, and re-embodied in 1803, when Dawson’s Volunteers" became "The North Manks Volunteers. A few scattered notices in the newspapers supply all the information we can gain about them :—In 1807 Serjeant-Major Godfrey Tate, of the Fencibles, was appointed Adjutant to the "Southern Manx Volunteers.’ In 1808 this corps was doing garrison duty at Castletown. In 1812, July 14th Col. John Taubman,of the Nunnery, died. Being Col. Commandant of the South Manx Volunteers," he was interred with military honours. On the 5th July, 1813, both the Northern and Southern Volunteers were at the Tynwald. On the 1st July, 1815, there was a public fete on the summit of Snaefell ‘ in celebration of successes in war and restoration of peace. On the Lieutenant Governor’s arrival on the scene, the band of the 'South Manx Volunteers' played 'God Save the King.’ " The newspaper of the 1st of July,1815, mentions that the "South Manx Volunteers" had been doing the garrison duty of the Island for more than a month. On the 27th of December, in the same year, a detachment of " Manx Volunteer Infantry " acted with great promptitude in putting out a fire in Douglas. This seems to have been the only fire they were ever required to stand ! On the 10th of April,1816, all the foot volunteers were disbanded. The flag of the " North Manx Volunteers " is in the possession of Mr. J. C. Crellin, of Orrisdale, whose grandfather served in that corps [now in Manx Museum].

In 1859, when a French invasion was feared, though no attempt was made to revive the ancient militia organisation, Manxmen, in common with the rest of her Majesty’s subjects took up the Volunteer movement, which was then initiated, with great enthusiasm. No less than six companies of rifles, and two of artillery, were enlisted, but, as the fear of invasion was seen to be without foundation, the zeal for volunteering soon waned, and the sole remnant of the original eight companies is now one company of riflemen stationed at Douglas. The uniform of the Rifle Volunteers was, at first, a dark gray tunic and trousers, with narrow scarlet facings, and a cap with a plume of feathers. The belts of the Douglas and Castletown contingents were light yellow leather, while the Ramsey Company had black belts. The artillery uniform was dark blue, with broad scarlet facings and white leather belts. A contemporary newspaper informs us that the officers "bore their new military honours with modest dignity " ! The uniform of the riflemen is now the same as that of the English line regiments, except that the officers have silver instead of gold lace. -

List of Commissioned Officers in the South Manx Volunteers, 1810

John Taubman, Lieut.-Col. , Commandant.
William Cunningham, Major.
Captains—Norris Moore, Thomas Corlett, Robert Watson, Edward Callow.
Lieutenants—Richd. Quirk, John Osborne Christian, Sam. Harris, Ed. Forbes, Robt. Hastings
Ensigns—John Beatson, Wm. Maddrell, James Kewley, James Cowell. Godfrey Tate (Adjutant), John Curry (Surgeon), John Brew (Serjeant-Major).

(1818) Officers of Manx Yeomanry Cavalry, raised in the year 1796

Thomas Gawne, Esq., Captain, Commandant.
John Caesar Gelling, Esq., Lieutenant ; William Corlett, Esq. (Quarter-Master.)

1820.—Officers of Ancient Parochial Horse

Captain Commandant—Robert Cunningham Esq.
Lieutenants—James Cowell and James Quirk, Esquires.
Cornet—William Quayle, Esq.


 * These forces were themselves unpaid, though certain of their officers, who were also connected with the paid soldiers, received salaries,

1 Chaloner’s Treatise. Manx Soc., Vol. X. , p. 55.
2- Statute Law Book, p. 169.
Manx Society, Vol. XIX, p. 104.
4 Manx Society. Vol. XIX, p. 105.
5 Statute Law Book, Vol. I, p. 254.
6 Statute Law Book, Vol. I, p. 254.
7 Letter of the Rev. W. Crebbin, Vicar of Lezayre, 1779.
Manx Society, Vol. VI, p. 21.
9 Manx Society, vol. XIX, p. 105.


In addition to the militia, there were, as we have already seen, paid soldiers, who acted as the garrisons of the various forts in the Island, most of whose officers were also connected with the militia. The two principal forts were Peel and Rushen, the garrisons of which were under the command of a Constable, a Deputy-Constable (who held the rank of Captain), a lieutenant, and an ensign. In addition to these officers, there were two Armourers—one stationed at Rushen and the other at Peel—who, besides their duties within these forts, had not only to attend to the condition of the arms in the other forts, at Douglas, Ramsey, and Derby Fort (on Langness), but to that of the arms of all the militia. The particulars of the duties of these garrisons, of their discipline, victualling, &c., form part of various enactments in the earlier part of the Statute Book. In 1422 regulations were laid down for the management of the Castles of Rushen and Peel, when the arms of the officers and soldiers were specified as follows :—" Bowe and arrows, sufficient dublett or habergion, a sword and a buckler, spurs and saddle,"1 the spurs and saddle being for the officers only.

In 1551 we find minute directions as to the quantities of victual, turves, &c., required by the two Castles, and as to the manner in which and the seasons at which they were to be supplied by the Manx farmers. It would seem that by 1593 the Castles had fallen into ruins, as in that year Ferdinando, Earl of Derby, wrote : " I think fit to erect again my two garrisons of Rushen and Peel."2 As regards Peel Castle, at any rate this must have been speedily done, as an old engraving of the same year represents it as being in a perfect state of repair. In the same letter the Earl speaks of the possibility of his having occasion to send " more number than my ordinary garrison for the defence of the said Island."3 By 1610, as a reference to the exchequer books will show, it was deemed necessary to issue a new set of "orders and dutys" to be observed by these garrisons. During 1642 and 1651 the seventh Earl kept a considerable force of troops in the Island, partly for the sake of over-awing the Manx, and partly to enable him to support the king’s cause when opportunity arose. The greater number of these troops were killed at the Battle of Worcester, and he himself was soon afterwards captured and put to death. When the Parliament took possession of the Island at the end of 1651, it was decided that the Isle of Man should have a guard of 240 soldiers, in two companies, each to consist of 120 men, besides officers. The cost of the whole establishment, including, in addition to the infantry officers, a Master Gunner and Storekeeper, a Surgeon, a Marshall, " two Mates" and " six Matrosses" (what these two last mean, the writer cannot say), was calculated to be £12 6s. 6d. per diem. The Governor, James Chaloner, was captain of one of the companies. He was to have £1 6s. per diem, 16s. as Governor, and 10s. as Captain. After the Restoration,the Stanleys seem only to have kept a very small number of soldiers and the Athols still fewer, as, by the middle of the eighteenth century, Peel Castle had become so ruinous as to be no longer capable of housing a garrison, though Castle Rushen, which was the Governor’s residence, was still kept in an efficient state, and garrisoned as before, and so were the smaller forts at Douglas and Ramsey. Bishop Wilson, writing about 1720, says of Peel, "This little Isle, naturally very strong, was made much more so by aft, Thomas, Earl of Derby (1505-21), encompassing it with a wall, towers, and other fortifications, and making it in those days impregnable. At present there is a small garrison kept there." During all this period the garrison soldiers had performed the civil duties which, since the Revestment in 1765, have been handed over to constables. They had also acted as turnkeys in the castles of Rushen and Peel. At the time of the war with France, at the end of the eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth century, there were always drafts from English regiments in the Island ; but after 1815 the military establishment was considerably reduced, and it now consists of about half a company from an English line regiment, stationed in the barracks at Castletown.

During the greater part of the period 1779 to 1810, there was, in addition to these English soldiers, a body of Manx troops, called the Royal Manx Fencibles, who formed part of the British regular army. At the beginning of this period Great Britain was so hard pressed on all sides that it became necessary for the Isle of Man, in common with the rest of the kingdom, to contribute its mite to the general defence. The following extracts from a letter written by John Quayle, Clerk of the Rolls, to Bishop Richmond, in December, 1779, will give some idea of the initiation of the movement here :—

" You will find by the honourable Lieutenant-Governor’s directions or requisitions to your Lordship, or your commissioners during your absence, and by the Secretary at War’s letter to his Honour, that we are raising a corps of Fencibles here, and the plan upon which they are to be raised and embodied. . . Whether the plan originated from a real desire to put the Isle in a respectable state of defence, . . . And whether there is a real necessity for such an establishment, you are much abler to determine than I am. Thus far I will conditionally venture to pronounce it useful to the Isle, viz., by spending about £6,000 a year in it, if they are to be paid by His Majesty, and if we won’t have to pay the piper at last."

He then relates, with some prolixity, that Robert Bowyer, the newly-appointed adjutant, had called upon him with the above-mentioned directions, including a warrant from the king, to raise three companies of Fencibles for the defence of the Island only, which he, John Quayle, as the Bishop’s commissioner, caused to be read in all the churches. The Captains of these companies before receiving their commissions had to procure 42 recruits ; the Lieutenants, 25 ; and the Ensigns, 20 ; for each recruit 21s. was paid to them. On the 2nd of November, 1780, the total number of all ranks was 333, being composed of 14 officers, 10 serjeants, 15 corporals, 6 drummers, and 288 privates. The serjeants were paid 1s., the corporals and drummers 8d., and the privates 6d. a day. It would seem that this system of recruiting by bounties to officers was not found satisfactory, as in 1782 an Act "for recruiting a ffensible battallion" was drafted, but it never became law, so that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it must be presumed that the old system continued. The Battalion thus formed was disbanded in October, 1783, after the Peace of Versailles, but it was re-embodied on the 20th of February, 1793, shortly after Great Britain had joined the Allies against the French Republic. Briscoe’s "Manx Advertiser" newspaper of March, in the same year, informs us that "Recruiting for the Manx Fencibles is going on with great spirit. The great guns are to be planted near the old Fort, and the workmen are now making the platform for them" ; and, a month later, that "the Battery near the old Fort was completed and the remainder of the guns planted on the platforms near the Ballaquayle stream, except six 15-pounders still lying at the Watch-house." In 1795, as we learn from the following order4 addressed to "John, Duke of Atholl, Colonel of the Regt. of Fencible men to be forwith raised, or to the Officers appointed by him to raise men for our said Regiment," the number of Fencibles was largely increased by the formation of a Regiment, to consist, in the words of the order,

" of 10 companys, of 3 serjeants, 3 corporals, 2 drummers, and 60 private men5 in each, with 2 fifers to the Grenadier Company, beside a Serjeant-Major, and Quarter-Master Serjeant, together with the usual Commissioned Officers, which men are to serve in Great Britain, or Ireland, or the Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, and Mann. These are to authorise you, by beat of drum, or otherwise, to raise so many men in any County or part of our Kingdom in Great Britain, as shall be wanted to complete the said Regiment to the above mentioned numbers. And all Magistrates, Justices of the Peace, Constables, and other our Civil Officers whom it may concern, are hereby required to be assisting unto you, in providing quarters, impressing carriages, and otherwise as there shall be occasion. Given at our Court at St. James’s, this 30th day of March, 1795, in the 35th year of our Reign."

At the same time the following recruiting instructions were sent to "Charles Small, Major 2nd R. M. Fencibles" among which the following are the more important : "You will be particularly careful not to take any man who is not fit for immediate service, nor above the age of forty years, nor under the size of five feet three inches, except stout growing lads, whom you may enlist at the size of five feet two inches . . . For every good and sufficient man who shall be approved of at headquarters, you shall receive ten guineas bounty, and subsistence from the day of his attestation ; no bounty will be allowed for any recruit until he has been inspected and approved of at headquarters, or by the Commanding-Officer, under the attestation of the Surgeon of the Regiment." Only five companies were raised at first under this order, but on the breaking-out of the Irish Rebellion in 1798, five more companies were added, and the whole regiment was shortly afterwards sent to Ireland. Nothing is known of what it did there. In 1800 it was at Omagh, and in 1802 at Whitehaven, where, on the conclusion of the Peace of Amiens in that year, it was disembodied, the same fate having befallen the "First Royal Manx Fencibles" in the island. On the renewal of the war in 1803, a similar order to the one quoted above, but addressed to "Lord Henry Murray, Major-Commandant of a Corps of Fencible Men," ordering the raising of a Corps "to consist of three Companies, of four sergeants, four corporals, two drummers, and seventy private men in each, beside a sergeant-major, and quarter-master-sergeant, and two fifers, together with the usual commissioned officers, which men are to serve in the Isle of Man . . . These are to authorise you by beat of drum, or otherwise, to raise so many men in any part of our said Isle of Man." This order seems to have been extended afterwards, and the numbers in each company increased, as the orderly book of the Corps in 1806 gives a total strength of about 800 men, divided into eight companies.

The following Captain’s commission in the Fencibles, granted in 1805, will serve as a specimen of the rest :—

" George the III., by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. To our trusty and well-beloved. . . . Greeting,—We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage, and good conduct, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be Captain in our Royal Manx Fencible Infantry, commanded by our trusty and well-beloved Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Murray, commonly called Lord Henry Murray, and to take rank in our army during the establishment of the said corps only. You are, therefore, to take the said company into your care and charge, and duly to exercise, as well the officers as soldiers thereof in arms, and to use your best endeavours to keep them in good order and discipline ; and we do hereby command them to obey you as their Captain, and you are to obey and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, your Colonel, or any other your superior officers, according to the rules and discipline of war, in pursuance of the trust hereby reposed in you. Given at our Court at Saint James, the day 1805. In the forty-fifth year of our reign. By his Majesty’s command."

£9 4s 6d was paid for the above. A Lieutenant’s commission in 1796 is in similar terms, except that the King is also styled of "France."

Among the officers of the Royal Manx Fencibles were the following, the representatives of most of whom are to be found on the Island at the present day :—

Before 1802.—(Battalion No.1. )—MAJOR COMMANDANT : Lieut.-Governor Alexander Shaw. 1st MAJOR : William Cunningham.
CAPTAINS—John Taubman, C. Heywood, Thomas Christian, John Frissell, George Quayle.
LIEUTENANTs—Charles Moore Edward Quayle, Mark Quayle, James Wilks,* Robert Farrant, Thomas Moore, Norris Moore, Mark Wilks.
ENSIGNs—John Clague, Robert Christian, Richard Gelling, Basil Quayle, James Quirk.

(Battalion No. 2)—COLONEL : Lord H. Murray. LIEUTENANT-COLONEL : C. Small.
CAPTAINS—Thomas Christian, Caesar Tobin, Hon. Andrew Forbes,* William Bacon, R. Harrison, J. Christian, James Quirk, Samuel Thomson, Mungo Murray.*
LIEUTENANTS.—William Quillin, Richard Quirk, Henry Moore, P. T. Moore, R. Clague, W. Kewley, Mark Cosnahan.
ENSIGNS.—Edwin H. Heywood, Thomas Clucas, J. LaMothe, Robert Banks, John Bridson, Robert Watson.

After 1802.

COLONEL : Lord Henry Murray. MAJOR : Robert Stewart.
CAPTAINS.—Hon Andrew Forbes, Ceasar Tobin, Matthew Summers, John Christian, Mungo Murray,* James Wilks,* John Dun, Dan. F. Wilson.
LIEUTENANTS.—Robert Gelling, Henry Whiteside, William Brew, James Lynch, Edward Oliver, John Lee, John Thompson, W. Scott.
ENSIGNS.—Thomas Moore, William Cubbon, William Geneste, James Tobin, John Llewellyn, Z. Thatcher, Wm. Callow, James Garrett, Philip Caley, John Moore, Wm. Kewley, John Nelson Scott, Surgeon ; Frederick LaMothe, Assistant-Surgeon.

* Identical.

From the Orderly Books 6:—Of these various corps of Fencibles, it would seem that their discipline was decidedly strict, and the regulations they lay down, especially as to dress, appear so quaint now that it may be of interest to quote a few of them :—

The Regiment will practise, on Wednesday morning next, with ball at a target, four rounds, no man, whose piece flashes in the pan, will be entitled to any prize. . . The Commanding Officer requests the officers commanding, or having charge of companies, would be attentive to the dress and hair of their men. The Grenadiers and Light Infantry to wear their hair platted and turned up with a comb. The Battalion men to have theirs in a Club . . . and all to appear clean at all parades and powdered for guard.

The following are stated to be necessaries for the men

Three good linnen shirts, properly made with frills, two pairs of good shoes, two pairs of worsted stockings, one pair of good blew trousers, 1 pair gaiters, 1 forage cap, 1 pack or knapsack 1 black ball, 4 brushes, made according to the present form, comb, soap, 1 black leather stock and clasp, brush and pikes, a buff stick, queue or platt, 2 razors, and flasher. The Regiment to parade for exercise tomorrow at twelve o’clock. The officers in long coats, breeches, and half-boots, with cocked hats, the men in breeches and gaiters, with their hair well powdered. . , . His Grace begs to inform the N.C. O'S7, and the privates of the Chore (sic), that the bringer of a good recruit shall receive five shillings Bounty for his trouble. . . . The Sergt.-Major and Quarter-Master Sergt. will lay out the money arising from the black-hole8 for the Companies in the purchase of potatoes. As a sufficient number of false tails cannot be got in the Island, the Captains of Companies will immediately, on receiving these orders, inspect the tails of the men of’ their Companies, and send a return to headquarters from each Company, signed by the Captain, mentioning the numbers wanted to complete each man to a good one. . . No officer to appear in a round hat but when he is dressed in a jacket, and then he is not to have a feather cockade nor ornament of any kind in it, but a bear skin. . . . The Lieutenant Govemnor cannot sufficiently express how much he feels himself gratified by the ready and cheerful manner in which the Fencibles, the Volunteers, and, as far as he has had access to information, all the rest of his Majesty’s Manx subjects, turned out this morning on the alarm from Kirk Bride of a landing being actually effected by a considerable body of enemies. The officers commanding Companies will endeavour to compleat their men as soon as may he in two good shirts, trilled at the breast, the frills to be a breadth and a half to the cloth that is ¼ of a yard to two shirts, also two shirts more for ordinary wear, and two pair of brown linen trousers . . Lieut.-Col. Lord James Murray is happy to observe, from the present state of the discipline and steadiness of the Regiment, he hath it in his power to adopt the permission recommended by his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief in allowing the men to assist in getting in the approaching harvest. . . . Any party, consisting of 6 men upwards, must have a N. C. O. appointed to go with them, who will be answerable for the men working at the place they have permission to go to, and must report every night to the Sergt.-Major any absentees from such work. . . . No Serjeant is on any account to demand more than 1s 6d per day, Corporal 1s 3d, and Private 6d, and when from a the distance of their work from quarters, they cannot go home to their dinner, a turn not exceeding 6d may be taken in addition.

The uniform of the Fencibles was red with blue facings. They were disbanded in 1810, without, as far as is known, having seen active service. It may seem curious that they were not kept under arms till the end of the war, but it must be remembered that by that time all real danger of invasion had passed away. They, being very broad-shouldered men, are said to have covered more ground than any other regiment in the British Army. Bullock, writing about the Isle of Man in 1816, says —"The only military force at present in the Island are the Volunteers, or local Militia. There were formerly two Fencible regiments of native troops in the pay of the Government, but these being reduced at different times, a regiment of veterans took their place, who were, however, re-called when the war broke out again."10 He [sic She] then proceeds to give the following deplorable account of the insular defences :—" It is a curious fact that, during the long period of war, when it was universally allowed that a single privateer might have ravaged the Island, or laid either of the towns in ashes before assistance or protection could be afforded from England, yet no care was taken to organize those means of defence which were easily within the reach of the inhabitants. It is true that at every commanding point all round the coast there were cannon ; but these lay dismounted and useless, though, at the same time, Government was paying a salary to an ordnance keeper. . .

But immediately on the conclusion of peace an engineer, being sent over, has ever since been actively employed in building batteries, arranging stores of ammunition, and mounting the cannon, as it had been apprehended that,. when all the rest of Europe was restored to tranquility, the arms of the united potentates would be turned against the Isle of Man alone "11 The only paid force, apart from the English soldiers, on the Island at the present day, is a fine corps of the Naval Reserve, whose headquarters are at Peel.


1 Statute Law Book, p. 12.
2 Statute Law Book, p. 62.
3 Statute Law Book, p. 77.
4 Copied from a certified copy of the original in possession of Sir James Gell.
5 These Companies were thus much smaller than those of the First R.M.F.
6 Some of these are in the possession of Mrs. Quayle, of
Bridge House ; and of Dr. Clague, of the Crofts, both in Castletown, who have kindly permitted the writer to inspect them.
7 This " black-hole" is mentioned several times in the orderly books. It is not clear where it was, or how it was a source of income.
[FPC - one possibility it was the lock up or small jail under the old Fort at Douglas - the Courthouse on the Pier with its cells was still to be built - the soldiers would be paid for guard duties]
8 This news turned out to be false.
9 Non-Commissioned Officer.
10 History of the Isle of Man, p. 355.
11 Ibid., pp. 355-6.


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