Little is known as to how the Act of Settlement of 1704 came about, and of the brave men who negotiated it. Students of Manx history are aware that the attitude of James the Seventh Earl of Derby, and of his son Charles the Eighth Earl, in the middle of the Seventeenth Century, as to the tenure of the land, caused much dissatisfaction in the Island. All sorts of threats were made by the Earls, and some of the officials were guilty of disloyal acts to induce the tenants to agree to the Seventh Earl's proposals, but without success. Eventually James the tenth Earl of Derby, on the 10th June, 1703, wrote to Bishop Wilson that 'the sooner the Island can be settled on a good bottom it will be mutch better for both the Island and myself.' (1)

Bishop Wilson thereupon consulted with the House of Keys, which at that time was led by a strong figure, Ewan Christian of Milntown and Unerigg (b. 1644, d. 1712). The Bishop along with Ewan Christian, John Stevenson of Balladoole (b. circa 1655, d. 1737), and Ewan Christian of Lewague, members of the Keys, proceeded to England, and made terms with Earl James, securing to the Manx people ' their ancient customary Estates of Inheritance in their respective Tenements, descendable from Ancestor to Heir, according to the Laws and Customes of the Isle.'

The Act embodying the agreements with the Earl James is called the Act of Settlement, (2) and was hailed as a great and valuable political measure.

The three men, in the exercise of their duty, travelling to and from England on divers occasions, incurred expenses amounting to £160. Although the Act of Settlement was signed at Midsummer 1704, it was 1709 before the three members of the House of Keys obtained repayment of their out-of-pocket expenses. (3)

The Keys had no funds from which to pay the members of the Commission, and an Act of Tynwald was passed in 1709 to levy upon each tenant an assessment in order that the expenses of the £160 should be re-imbursed. (4)

(1) A. W. Moore Hist. p. 888, quoting Liber Scacc.'
(2) Statutes, vol. I, p. 162, 1704.
(3) Ibid. p. 181, 1709.
(4) Four assessors were appointed for each parish, who returned a report as to the quarterlands, cottages, and mills with the proportion to be paid by them.

From the Castle Rushen Papers.

Document No. 49.

Among the Castle Rushen Papers is the, original draft of the Act of Tynwald in respect to this matter. and it is considered to be of sufficient interest to print it for the first time.. The endorsement runs



A Bill for reimbursing and discharging several publick Expences exhibited at a Court of Jayle Delivery holden att Castle Rushin the 'third day of June in ye year of our Lord God one thousand seaven hundred and six.

Whereas att the desire and appointment of the twenty four Keys and people of the Isle of Mann, Ewan Christian of Unrigg in ye County of Cumberland Esq., John Stevenson of Balladoole and Ewan Christian of Lewague within the said Isle Gentlemen haveing severall times attended his late Lordship, both Knowsley and London in pursuit of ye rights and tenures of the said people, and haveing at length fixt and concluded the same with our present Gratious Lord, the Charge of whose bare expenee without Grattiffieng them for there trouble or time in obtaining the said tenure, amounts to one hundred and fifty six pound nineteen shills. a peny halfe penny as more at Large apeared by the particulars thereof given by the said Ewan Christian of Lewague,

And whereas the twentie-four Keys of ye said Isle have noe ( ?Convenient) place to Debate or Consult of ye affai(rs) thereof without trespassing in his Lordships Castles or houses to their great inconvenience as well as to the scandall & reproach of ye said Isle,

And the Rt.. Reverend ye Lord Bishop of ye said Isle being now about to build a Library for the benefitte of ye publick and willing that ye twentie four Keys afforesaid, should have ye Lower Story thereof for their use if his said Lordship may have any reasonable Contribution, towards ye same,

And alsoe that the Convenience allready made for ye twentie four Keys att S. Johns Chapple is yett unfinished,

May it therefore please yor Lordship that it may be enacted (by them) and enacted by ye said right Honrable James Earle of Derby Lord of Mann and ye Isles And by the advise and Consent of ye Governr and the rest of his said Lordships Counsell and officers, and by the twentie four Keys in this present Court assembled And by the Authority of ye same that ye said Ewan Christian of Lewague shall hereby be Authorised and impowered to claime and recover by Levy distress or otherwise of the inhabitants of ye said Isle the sum of one hundred ninety two pounds three shillings and twopence halfe penny, in such proportion, on each and every- of them, as shall be thought most equitable by three of the officers and three of the twentie four Keys selected for that purpose, to be paid proportionable to their respective ( ? holdings) at or before the twentie fourth of June one thousand seaven hundred and seaven, provided nevertheless when the said sum is collected, that the said Ewan Christian of Lewague shall pay to the Right Reverend ye Lord Bishop of Mann the sum of thirtie pounds towards the Library for the use and preveledge aforesaid, and ten pounds more for finishing ye North Isle of St. Johns Chapple.'

The Bill did not become an Act of Tynwald until the 2nd day of February 1709, when it was publicly proclaimed upon the Tynwald Hill according to antient Forme and Custome.' The Act is quoted in Gill's Statutes, pp. 180-1, under date 1709. It declares that having no proper place to meet in but our Honourable Lord's Castle or Houses,' they order that a further sum of £20 be raised and employed towards the erecting or procuring a convenient place in Castletown for the 24 Keyes to meet in upon publick business.'


No mention is made in the Bill above quoted of the project of Bishop Wilson to build a Library in Castletown, in which the Keys hoped to have a meeting chamber. The document of 1706 quoted says:-

'And the Rt. Reverend ye Lord Bishop being now about to build a Library for the benefitte of ye publick and willing that ye twentie four Keys afforesaid should have ye Lower Story thereof for their use if his said Lordship may have any reasonable Contribution towards ye same.'

Bishop Wilson, when he undertook a mission, generally carried it to a successful conclusion. On the 13th May, 1706, the Seneschal granted his Lordship a licence permitting him to enclose the requisite land. He commenced the building of the Library in the year 1707, and it was practically finished at the close of 1709. There were to be two floors, the lower floor to be used by the House of Keys as a Chamber and the upper floor to house the Library. The accounts of the building have fortunately been preserved in the Diocesan Registry. and they are given below for the first time. The accounts were made up by the Rev. William Ross, M.A., the Professor of the Castletown Academy, one of the greatest Manx scholars of his period, and whose dwelling, near to the old Castletown Grammar School, it is regretted to note, is in danger of being destroyed [it was !].

Here is the Rev. William Ross' detailed account of the building of the new Library, completed on the 22nd April, 1710. As will be seen, the total cost of the building came to £83/5/6,1. It has been in existence two hundred and twenty-five years, and it looks as if it is likely to survive for an equal period. The building - which is 35 feet square - is now the Westminster Bank, in Parliament Square, opposite the Castle Rushen. On the 11th December, 1882, the Manx Government paid the Woods and Forests Department the sum of £20 in order to do away with certain doubts which had arisen as to the validity of the ownership of the land on which the building sat. For nearly two centuries it was used by the House of Keys.

From Diocesan Registry.

Document No. 50.



William Ross. Dr. To Cash Received upon the ffollowing subscrip-

From Govr Mawdsley
From The Lord Bishop.
From the Receiver Genll..
From the Comptroller.
From the Watterblf
From the Attorney Genll
From Deempster Parr.
From Mr. Archdeacon Watleworth.
From Mr. Woods Vicar of KK Malew
From Mr. James Makon Chaplain of Castletown .
From Mr. Allen Chaplain of Douglass
From Mr. Parr Rector of KK Bride
From Mr. Christian Vicar of Jurby
From Mr. Tubman Vicar of KK Lonnan
From Mr. Jon. Stevenson of Balladoole
From Mr. John Keag.
From Mr. William Thompson
From Mr. Silvester Hudlestone
From Mr. William Mercer.
From Mr. William Wybrants
From Mr. John Murray.
From Mr. Philip Moore
From Mr. Robt. Moore
From Mr. George Almond
From Mr. Thomas Looney
From Mr. Robt Medderel
From Capt Nicholas Christian Junr...
From Capt James Christian
From Mr. Philip Hooper
  Sum total of ye Subscriptions
From the Tennants of Hangohill and Ballagilly which they were in arrears
From Mr. Christian of Lewague on behalf of the 24 keyes ....
From Mr. Christian of Lewague on accts of Scarlet ....
From Mr. Christian of Lewague on accts of the Comptroller and Captain Hudlestone ..
From Mr. Sedden of Scarlet money by My Lord Bishop's order
From Mr. Christian of Lewague for the hangings of the old Library
From George Timons for 5 deals lent him ...
From My Lord Bishop above his Lordship's subscription as p stated Accompt ...
  Sum tot.
  Balance due to the Accomptant ...
11 05 04½
83 :05 : 06½

April 22th 1710 Receiv'd from the Rt Revd the Lord Bishop by the hands of Mr. Sedden the ballance of above eleven pound five shillings & four pence half penny by me Will: Ross

By Cash payed to Mr Christian of Lewague for Bricks
05 :00 :00
To Mr Murray for tun timber
13 :06:04
To Jon Christian for 18 dozen deals at 13 shill. p dozen a shilling in the whole abated
11 :13:00
To porters putting them on board my Lord's ship
To boats for carrying them from port Lemurrey .
For carrying them into the Castle
For an oak beam
01 :13 :00
For coals turf and Lime as p bill of particulars
To Mr Looney for ropes for scaffolding
00 : 01 03
To Jon Quayle for the foundation, Rustick Quoines, door cases, window cases, cornish and 2 chimney pieces p agreement .
To Ditto for Leading half of the first kiln of Lime and Sand.
To Ditto for the cieling course and litle door case
To Sam: Green and John Quayle for the brick work
  For barrels to make tubs & hooping them
To John Quayle for 2 stone lintels ...
00:01 :04
To Mr Looney for the roof, floor,
  compass, cieling, stair and doors
To John Fargher for slates
02 :09 :00
  For Laths as p bill.
01 :06 01
To Edward Corris and Tho: Kewen for 10 square 88 foot slating at 4s p..
To Wm. Kelly for 7 barrels hair at 18d p .
00 :10 : 04
To Edward Corris and Thomas Kewen for plaistering and rendring .........
01 :17 :06
  For nails for the roof floor and doors a p bill
01 : 08 :10½
To Mr Mercer for 6 pound of Lead ...
00 :01 :03
To Mr Molineux for glass and priming the doors as p bill ..
02 :00 :06
To Sam: Green fill-beaming pointing 5 windows building the closet wall, breaking out one and building up two windows and
00 :04:08
To Labourers as p. bill
01 : 11 :06½
To Jon Quayle for taking down the window and fitting it to the casement, putting in the irons setting the grate, fixing the stenchels & for a hearthstone .....................
To Jon Quayle for 385 foot of flags, levelling the floor and laying them at 21d p ...
To Mr Rathmel for Iron work as p bills ..........................................
To Mr Murray for 30 deals at 14d p
01 :15:00
To Porters for shipping them ..
For nails for Lathing and the presses as p bill
To Mr Reece for 3 hund. fourpenny nails omitted in the bill
00:01 :00
For glew
To Mr Looney for making the presses
03 :00:00
To Jon Kewly and Richard Corkill for paving
83 : 05 : 06½

July 25th 1710

Recd from Mr. William Sedden Waterblf by order of the Right Revd the Lord Bishop the sum of seventeen pound fourteen shillings and nine pence which sum I have (pursuant to My Lord Bishop's orders) laid out upon the finishing the Library as by a state of accompts now in his Lordship's hands may appear I say recd by me

Will: Ross

I doe hereby acknowledge that the above sum of seventeen pound fourteen shillings and nine pence was payed by my orders as above, being part of a sum of money laid out upon a field in Scarlet lately purchas'd by the abovesd Mr Sedden & Richard Fox for which I am a Trustee, And in regard the rest of the Trustees are not present to sign this receipt I oblige myself to procure the approbation of the rest of the 'Trustees, or to refund the said sum to which I bind my self my Exers and Assignes Given under my hand at Bishop's Court this 25th of July 1710.

If ye Trustees do not approve of the within Act of Mine I do appoint yt the Moneys be paid out of the sum lodged in this drawer.

July 25 1710 T. S. M.

[This paragraph is in Bishop Wilson's characteristic writing.]

Mr. Ross's accounts bear evidence that an earlier library had existed in Castletown, the site and date of the founding of which are unknown. For instance this entry: From Mr. Christian of Lewague for the hangings of the Old Library, £01. 10. 00.' Ewan Christian was one of the foremost members of the Keys and he may have been acting for the members who wanted the hangings for their new chamber. Relative to the question of an earlier Library, this document, from the Diocesan Registry, is of more than ordinary interest

From Diocesan Registry.

Document No. 51.

Whereas upon a Review of the Catalogue of the Books belonging to the Public Library in Castle Rushen, a great number are found wanting, wch. books are supposed to be in the hands of such persons as have borrowed them, some whereof are mention'd in a certain book, formerly kept in the said Library for that purpose.

This is, therefore, to require all persons who have any of the said Books in their custody, that they restore there to the Revd. Mr. Makon at or before the first day of March next, under penalty of incurring the severest punishment the law provides in such cases ; forasmuch as any book that, upon search or inquiry, shall be discovered, or not brought in by the above limited time, shall be reputed stollen, and the offender punished accordingly.

And to the end yt none may plead ignorance hereof, the ministers of the respective parishes are to publish this Order in their parishe churches two Sundays successively, and return Certificates to the Episcopal Registrar.

Given under our hands this 20th of January, 1703. THO: SODOR & MAN. ROBT. MAWDESLEY.

Exd. p. me, J. Woods, Reg. Ep.

The order is made in the names of Bishop Thomas Wilson and Governor Mawdesley. The Vicar of Jurby in reference to the order, reports :-

I doe hereby certifie to have publish'd the within Order two Sundays successively and have made inquiry throughout the whole parrish of Jurby, but can hear of no such books as is within menconed ; all wch I do assert for truth, as witness my subscription this 14th ffeb., Ao. 1703/4.




The Librarian who succeeded the Rev. William Ross, M.A., was the Rev. John Woods: he was one of the first of the Academic students. It is believed that his brother was Thomas Woods of Knocksharry, German, and that his grand-father, who lived in 1643, was John Woods. He became Vicar of Kirk Malew in 1696 and continued there until he died in 1739. He was loyal to Bishop Wilson when the latter was being persecuted by the civil authority. In 1721 he was fined 66/8d and committed to Castle Rushen for a week for contempt of the authority of the Governor, by ' evading the reading of a brief towards relieving the necessity of one William Watterson of Kirk Andreas.(3)

Soon after becoming Librarian, he, in 1716, prepared a catalogue of the volumes in the Library. It consists of 65 octavo pages, and the contents of each of the four ' presses' are given, classified according to size, octavo, quarto and folio. Altogether there were 830 volumes, which if taken at present day valuation would be worth many thousands of pounds. The volumes were chiefly classics in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, historical and theological works. There were over four hundred in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. They included authors such as Heylyn, Brownrig, More, Bacon, Camden, Hakluyt, Chaucer, Herrick, Stillingfleet. (4)

A hundred years after the building of the Library, namely in 1818, the roof was in a bad state of repair and the books were in danger. The House of Keys, in consideration of a further payment of £20, took possession of the whole building. The Library- was then transferred to the Free Grammar School. The books - numbering at that time 1,100 volumes --were in a bad state, and £20 was expended by the direction of the Bishop in re-binding. (5)

When King William's College was erected, in 1833, the Library was removed to the new building. The great fire which occurred at the College in 1844, unfortunately destroyed the whole of the valuable books which had been gathered together nearly a century- and a half before.

(3) Manx Soc. Vol. xxix, p. 127.

(4) Vide the writer's paper in N.H.A.S. Proc. Vol. 111, pp. 106-129, 1926.

(5) Isle of Man Charities, 1831, p. 139.

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