[From Mona Miscellany second series Manx Soc vol 21]



Achlish or Aghlish—Such a quantity of anything as can be carried under the arm—an armful; as much as can be carried under the oxter.

Boandey Sundeyn—Sumner’s Band.—Amongst other perquisites payable to the Sumner, or Summoner of each parish (the officer who executes the precepts and orders of the Spiritual Courts), is what is known in Manx as Boandey Sundeyn, the Sumner’s Band, or, as it is commonly designated in English, as "the Sumner’s Corn," or "the Sumner’s Sheaf." In some parishes it is called "the Dog Sheaf," Boandey Moddey being the Sumner’s perquisite for whipping the dogs out of church on a Sunday.

It is thus described in the Book of the Spiritual Laws .— "As concerning the Sumner’s duty of corne, he must have a band of three lengths of three principal cornes porcion alike paid from every husbandrnan, and he must call within the church, with the advice of the vicar or curate, all such things as he is requested of the parish that is gone or lost, and ought to stand at the chancell door at time of service to whip and beat all the doggs."*

In the present day this due is usually commuted for three sheaves, or into a money payment, but that is of course optional with the Sumner, as he may insist upon having it rendered in kind. Many parties have from time to time tried to get rid of the payment or rendering of this duty, but the Ecclesiastical Court has invariably upheld the officer, and given judgment for the delivery of the corn in terms of the old law.

The mode adopted is for the Sumner to draw three long or principal stalks of corn, tie them together so as to form a band, and whatever quantity of corn can be enclosed in such band (making allowance for the tying of the ends), forms the sheaf or corn-duty to which the Sumner is entitled. When the corn is at all rank and the stalks long, the size of the sheaf and quantity enclosed in the "Sumner’s band" is something considerable.

* Mill’s Statute Laws, p. 51.

Bumney —A sheaf of corn.

Dash—In thrashing corn with flails the corn as it was thrashed was put on one side in a heap as a bulk against the side wall, or on the floor, if large enough; this was called the dash.

Daymouth or Daymoth—A well-known Manx term denoting a defined quantity of land, but more generally applicable to the measurement of meadow or hay land.

The origin of the term is supposed to have represented the quantity of hay that an ordinary man could cut down in a day. A Daymouth has however been long understood to be 60 yards each way, or 3600 square yards, being as nearly as possible equivalent to ¾ of an acre.

In numbers of old deeds of sale and wills, whereby lands were conveyed and the particulars of extent given, the number of Daymouths are named instead of acres, thus—a meadow containing 3 acres would be described as "That meadow containing by computation four Daymouths."

Dooraght or Dhooraght—Although perhaps strictly speaking, this term does not come under the heading given, yet as it is so intimately associated with the purchase and sale of all commodities, whether by bulk, weight, or measure, it may not be out of place to refer to it.

If a man purchases an estate, a quantity of grain, or even a horse or cow, it was usual for him, upon paying the price stipulated to give to the seller a dooraght, that is something over and above the actual price, out of good will, and to make up to some extent the amount that had been at first demanded by the seller, for as a general rule there is much haggling between buyer and seller before an actual sale takes place. If a good bargain had been made by the purchaser, the extent of the dooraght would be proportionately greater. It bore some analogy to, but also differed from a luck-penny, which, as is well known, is a return made by the seller of an article to the purchaser out of the price by way of good will.

Cregeen defines the word as "a perquisite, something given over and above the settled price, undoubtedly called so because often given in the dark." — (Doo — black — dark).

In the English and Manx Dictionary the following definition is given to the word, "importunity, boot, good-will, a gratuity, luck-penny; but none of these do properly explain the original, nor do I know of any word in the English language that corresponds to it. When a person buys any goods and pays his money, he demands a dooraght, and what it is the custom to ask it is usual to give."

Duill or Deyll-lieem—A bundle of hemp, etc., twenty-four of which make a troo—about a handful each.

Eeik—A small stack or rick of corn, hay, etc.

Foilliu—Mulcture or multure.—This is a toll to which millers are entitled out of corn ground in lieu of a money payment. In ancient days the Lord, who held all the mills (except those belonging to the abbey), claimed the whole of the "mulcture, toll, and token of all corn and graine ground within the Island."—(Mill’s Statutes, p. 89).

It was usual for the Lord to grant licences to erect mills upon payment of certain rents (generally tolerably high), and other special conditions. The tenants of these mills were enabled to take mulcture, and questions not unfrequently arose as to the extent of this toll. Deemster Parr (who was Deemster from 1696 to 1712), in his Abstract of the Customary Laws of the Island, referring to the matter, speaks of it as "being the 24th pte. thereof," i.e. of the grain ground.

In 1723 the tenant of the Abbey Mill in Malew was presented by the great Enquest for taking the 16th kishen as mulcture of shelled corn, and Deemster Mylrea then gave for law that the 24th kishen was the due mulcture. The mulcture taken at the present day is the same as of old, but now usually commuted into a money payment.

According to the law of Scotland,* "some mills have attached to them an exclusive privilege of grinding the grain of a particular district, termed the thin or sucken. The remuneration or tax to the miller is termed the multures; it is divided into insucken multures, which is the taxed remuneration for grinding; outsueken multures, or the remuneration paid by those who, not being astricted, send their corn voluntarily to the mill; and dry muitures, or a tax paid to the miller whether the grain be ground or not. Knaveship or sequels are a customary allowance to the miller’s assistant. There are different grades of thirlage, as constituted by the original gift, or by prescription, viz.—lst. Of grana creseentia, or all corns grown upon the lands, not including purchased corn. 2d. Grindable corn, or the corn which it is requisite to grind for the use of the thin. 3d. Iimvecta et illatua, or all grain growing within the third, as well as all that is brought within its bounds" By statute the proprietors of lands thirled, or of mills, may have the tax commuted into a money payment by adopting certain proceedings.

* Manual of the Law of Scotland, by John Hill Burton. 1839.

The Manx law was in many respects similar to the Scotch. To many of the mills in the Island there were a certain number of bound tenants, who, if they neglected to go to the mill to which their estates were pledged, were liable to a fine. The Soken mentioned in the orders before alluded to, 1636, was the toll from those tenants who were bound to a certain mill, or the inthralled ground. This custom is mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in describing lob Ilapper the miller’s visit to the Tower of Glendearg (in the Monastery) to look after his dues. Every miller was formerly sworn by the Deemster to deal honestly to the public. It was part of the duty of the Great. Enquest to see to this. Every old mill in the island was furnished with a large box or chest called the "Mulcture Chest," in which the miller kept the mulctures, which he sold out to the public.*

* It was usual for the farmer’s wife or domestic to assist in dressing the meal, who threw into this chest a handful or two, as an acknowledgment to the miller’s wife for her trouble in cooking for them while engaged in the mill.

It appears that Manx millers were no honester than their brethren in other countries, as they were required to be sworn to deal with some degree of fairness in this matter of mulcture; but for all that, they were not exempt from the ridicule of the song writer, as will be .found by the following humorous specimen, printed by the Percy Society, London, 1846.

A version of this song is given in Harland’s Ballads and Songs of Lancashire, 1865, in which he states it to be a favourite about Chipping, nine miles from Clitheroe.


There was a crafty miller, and he
Had lusty sons, one, two, and three;
He called them all, and asked their will,
If that to them he left his mill.

He called first to his eldest son,
Saying, My life is almost run;
If I to you this mill do make,
What toll do you intend to take?

Father, said he, my name is Jack,
Out of a bushel I’ll take a peck,
From every bushel that I grind,
That I may a good living find.

Thou art a fool! the old man said,
Thou hast not well learned thy trade
This mill to thee I ne’er will give,
For by such toll no man can live.

He called for his middlemost son,
Saying, My life is almost run;
If I to you this mill do make,
What toll do you intend to take?

Father, says he, my name is Ralph
Out of a bushel I’ll take a half,
From every bushel that I grind,
That I may a good living find.

Thou art a fool! the old man said,
Thou hast not well learned thy trade;
This mill to thee I ne’er will give,
For by such toll no man can live.

He called for his youngest son,
Saying, My life is almost run;
If I to you this mill do make,
What toll do you intend to take?

Father, said he, I’m your only boy,
For taking toll is all my joy!
Before I will a good living lack,
I’ll take it all, and forswear the sack

Thou art my boy! the old man said,
For thou hast right well learned thy trade;
This mill to thee I give, he cried,
And then he closed up his eyes and died.

Glaick—Such a quantity of hemp in stalks as can be held in the hand or grasped, making a small sheaf, tied up like a sheaf of corn.

Jeebin—A quantity of herring net. Cregeen, says it is " a deeping of nets." It also means the thread used in making nets. In the Herring Act of 1610 it is enacted, that all the Lord’s or Baron’s tenants within the Isle shall have in readi ness for the fishing, "out of every quarter of ground, eight fathoms (16 yards), containing three deepings of nine score meshes upon the rope."—Mill’s Statutes, p. 501. Before the introduction of the very long trains now in use, a jeebin constituted the one-sixteenth part of a piece of net. It was 18 yards long (33 meshes being counted to the yard), and 52 meshes deep; and 4 in length and 4 in depth, joined together, formed the piece of 16 jeebins.

Kybbon—In the Act of Tynwald, 1610, relative to the her ring fishery, amongst other orders connected with the water bailiff, it is enacted, "The water bailiff shall have out of every boat, as oft as they fish, a certain measure called a kybbon-full of herrings; and whosoever refused to give the same, or twelve pence in money in lieu thereof, shall be excluded from the fleet."—Mill’s Statutes, p. 503. The capacity of this measure does not appear to be now known.

Lane-doarn—A handful.

Mam.—A measure, as much as will lie upon the palm of the hand, or rather upon both hands.

Meaish—Mease (Maze, as spelt in some of the old statutes).- The common term used in counting or referring to a particular quantity of herrings. A mease is calculated to consist of 500 herrings, but in reality the number is 620, and which is made up as follows :—A hundred means what is known as the long hundred (six score), or 120, but to each hundred is added four fish, warp and tally.

In counting herrings from a boat, two of the fishermen are almost invariably employed, each of whom alternately takes up a warp (namely three fish), and throws them into a basket, calling out aloud in Manx the number of warps thrown in. Thus, the first man calls out, as he throws in his warp, "unnane" (or, as it is generally contracted, "nane"), the second calls "jees," the first "three," the second "kiare," and so on, until the number reaches 40, or "daeed," whereupon the first man throws in three extra herrings, calling out "warp," and the second, throwing in a single fish, cries out, "as tally," that is, "and tally."

The rapidity with which a couple of experienced men will count out a large quantity of herrings is surprising. The counting in English is attended with the same forrns—40 warps of 3 fish, and the extra 4 to the hundred.

In 1817 an Act of Tynwald was passed, prohibiting the sale of herrings by tale, and providing that they should only be bought or sold by measure called cran or half cran. The particular dimensions and mode of construction of these measures were given in the Act, and it was declared that the cran should contain 42 gallons English wine measure—the half cran being 21 gallons.

The provisions of this Act not having been found at all suitable, it very shortly fell into disuse, and herrings are now sold by tale as heretofore.

Minjeig—A bundle of heather, ling, fern, hay, etc., made up into two packs; the exact quantity is not defined.

Paggey-traagh—A truss of hay.

Pellick or Pellag—A bulk or quantity, the exact extent of which does not, however, appear to be well defined. Cregeen, in his "Manx Dictionary," spells the word pellag, and thus defines it, " A small division of something, generally applied to the division of a cart-load in small heaps or parts."

Various cases have from time to time engaged the atten tion of the courts of law with reference to what is called an Executor’s crop, that is, whether the heir-at-law of a deceased landed proprietor or the executor of his will, should be entitled to the crops of corn, the seed of which had either been sown, or was in preparation for being sown at the time of the death of the ancestor. With respect to the case where seed had actually been sown, there could be no doubt as to the executor’s right to it.

A noted case bearing upon the subject, and which was long contested both at common law and before the House of Keys, arose in the year 1807. The style of the cause was, Thomas Harrison v. William Clark. Many of the most noted Manx lawyers of the day were employed and the case was presided over by Deemster Lace, who was supposed to be a great authority on the old common law of the country.

During the trial it was asserted that the old common law was, that, "if three pellicks of dung were laid out, and three furrows ploughed before the testator’s death, the executor would be entitled to the crop." Other parties stated the law to be, that "if three horse-loads of manure were spread," the executor should have the crop. The meaning in both cases was, that if the ancestor had made certain arrangements and preparations for a crop, and thereby exhausted a certain portion of his means, the executor should reap the benefit. The legal question, however, is not now in issue.

The term pellick was described to mean such a quantity as a man could carry in a creel on his back. Now creels, which are a kind of pannier or dossel formed of straw rope, netwise, are of various sizes—some to carry turf, potatoes, or other articles, on the shoulders and back of men and women (as may be often seen in the present day at farm-houses in the country), and others much larger, which were slung saddle bag fashion over the backs of horses or asses.

Ping-Eearlys—An earnest penny.—It was always custom ary, and indeed still is, in bargaining for the sale of any com modity (other than actual goods in a shop), for the purchaser to give to the seller a piece of money as earnest to bind the bargain. A penny was formerly the amount given, hence the term. No bargain was considered valid without the passing of earnest.

In the hiring of servants, too, it is still almost invariably the custom to give earnest.

Ping-jaagh— Smoke Penny.—This is a very old due annually payable to the several parish clerks. By the old law (still in force) he is entitled to a groat (4d.) for each plough used in his parish, should it only be used to plough three furrows, amid those parties who do not keep ploughs, but "keep smoke," that is householders, have to pay one penny. See Mill’s Statutes, p. 57.

Ping- Vrinshee—A luck penny.—This is too well known a term to call for any explanation. It does not mean the return of a penny merely, but of a portion of the price of an article sold by way of luck or good will. See also the term Dooraght.

Snoad—Snooid or Snoaid.—.Is the length of several horse hairs twisted or spun together, and then knotted at each end. When a number of snoads are thus prepared, and are joined together, they form a strong line used in the sea fishing—and which line, thus made, was called a darrag. The length of a snoad depends, of course, upon tIme length of the hair used. They generally run from eighteen inches to two feet. In the Manx and English Dictionary, the term is thus defined, "a hair-line, or rather, the length of a hair, from snieu; that is, as much as is spun at a time."

Sthook or Stook—A pile of sheaves of corn. The old sthook consisted of twelve sheaves. There were three modes of making up a sthook’. The s/ieeig or pile was made up as follows :—

1st. Eight sheaves were set up on end in two rows of four, a sheaf at each end, and two on the top, tapering from the centre.
2d. Tell sheaves in two rows of five at a side, and two on the top.
3d.Three sheaves in three rows each, two on the top as a covering, and one as the crown of all.

The last was the old Manx mode of forming a sthook, and was considered the best mode of protecting the corn from the weather when it had to remain any length of time before it was carted home.

Thow — A line to which buoys or corks are attached, and which holds up or suspends the herring nets when in the water. It varies in length according to the fishing ground.

Tooran or Thurran — A stack either of corn or hay of any figure, but more particularly when round or pointed.

A Spade’s Cutting of Turf — In former days it was by no means unusual for a landowner, possessing a quantity of curragh or turf-producing land (and which abounds more particularly in the northern parishes of the Island), in arranging his affairs, to provide that some particular member of his family should have a spade’s cutting of turf, either yearly or at intermediate periods during his life, the object being to secure fuel (coals being comparatively unknown) for the person to be benefited. The extent of this turf cutting was not unfrequently a question of strife and ill-will in the family.

Even so late as forty years ago the question of the legality of a grant of "a spade’s cutting of turf" was solemnly tried at common law, and by appeal to the House of Keys, in which body was then reposed the appellate jurisdiction over the verdicts of jurors at law. Besides the issue as to the legal effect of such a grant, the question as to the extent of a "spade’s cutting" was raised, and, as will be seen from the evidence adduced, there was considerable discrepancy between the witnesses upon this point.

The action arose in the parish of Ballaugh. Thomas Nelson sued Ann Mylecharane for trespass, the charge being that she had wrongfully entered into his meadow, and dug and carried away soil, etc. The defendant justified her entry into the plaintiff’s lands under the provisions of a deed, whereby a spade’s cutting of turf was granted to her for her life. The case was tried at a common law court held at Ramsey on the 14th February 1832, when the jury found a verdict in favour of the plantiff, giving £1 : 17 : 6 damages against Ann Mylecharane, whom they found to be a trespasser.

The old lady, however, traversed (that is appealed) from the verdict to the House of Keys, who, by their judgment dated 1st March 1833, reversed the jury’s verdict, and dismissed the action, thereby upholding the right of the defendant to her "spade’s cutting of turf" for her life.

The evidence as to the extent of the spade’s cutting was as follows

Thomas Christian proved that it was 42 yards in length, 1¾*yard in breadth, and 3 turves in depth.

John Cry stated the length and breadth to be as described by the former witness, but gave the depth as from 20 to 23 inches.

John Caley defined the extent as 60 yards long, 2 yards wide, and 3 turves of 9 inches each deep.

John Clark, John Quayle, another John Quayle, and John Craine, severally proved the dimensions to be 60 yards in length, 2 yards in width, and 27 inches in depth, corroborating in other words the evidence of John Caley.

It may therefore be fairly assumed that the extent given by the five last-named witnesses truly represented what a spade’s cutting really was.

(The proceedings in the case will be found in extenso in Liber Plitor, 1831, No. 29, parish of Ballaugh, in the Rolls Office, Castletown.)


Size of Custom Turf.—Amongst other charges upon the lord’s tenants (the owners of the land paying rent, etc., to the lord) was that of supplying the garrisons of Peel Castle and Castle Rushen with turf, so many cars to the quarterland.

By certain resolutions of the Earl of Derby in 1593, it was declared "That the custome turf be allowed according to law and custome, that is 52 turves of one cubit long and three inches square in the middest, and those to be allowed for one able carr within the houses of Castle Peele." — Mills, p. 76.

The proprietors of abbey lands were in like manner bound to supply the bishop or abbot with turf, and Deemster Parr, in his Abstract of the Customary Laws, gives the sizes as above.



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