[From Manx Soc vol 3 - part 1 Letter of James 7th Earl]


 1.—Of a certain tenure in the Isle of Man called the tenure of the straw, whereby the Lord is defrauded. 2.—A petition presented against Deemster Christian for defrauding an infant of its estate. 3.—The Deemster's great interest in the Island, and his many bastards. 

THERE comes this very instant an occasion to me to acquaint you with a special matter, which if; by reason of these troublesome and dangerous times, I cannot bring to pass my intents therein, you may, in your better leisure, consider thereof, and make some use hereafter of my present labours, in the matter of a certain holding in this country, called " The tenure of the straw :" whereby men think their dwellings are their own ancient inheritances, and [that they] may pass the same to any, and dispose thereof without license of the Lord, but paying him a bare small rent, like unto a fee-farm in England: wherein they are much deceived. Which you may plainly see by such collections as I have already caused to be framed, at this time in custody of the comptroller. Sufficient, I persuade myself, to satisfy any reasonable body. But it is not always reason can prevail with a multitude. Therefore is it fit in this, as in all things, to have of the dove and the serpent according to the occasion.

2. One presented me a petition against Deemster Christian on the behalf of an infant, who is conceived to have a light unto his farm late Rainsway, one of the principal holdings of this country; who, by reason of his eminence here, and that [he] holdeth much of the same tenure of the straw in other places, he is s observed, that certainly, as I temper the matter with him is this, so shall I prevail with others. But, he being so much concerned, I have a hard task in hand. But I shall try. And here in the surest way is to begin in the fairest manner: for roughest dealing is best when smoother have first failed.

3. I am not ignorant what courses the said Deemster hath taken to strengthen himself and others, to maintain their title herein against me. And once one, in a pleasant humour, said he thought the Deemster did not get so many bastards for lust's sake, as in policy, to make the name of the Christians flourish But, if he and I agree not, you will hear more of these matters: otherwise you shall know nothing thereof at all. But learn this, that there be times to discover what one knows, as at other whiles it is fit not to seem to know them. And while good content is given, let such kindness be showed as may assure the party that offences are quite forgotten or forgiven, or that he may think that they never have been harboured in you.


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