[From Manx Soc vols 25+28 - Blundell's History]




THIS right honourable James, Earl of Darby, late Lord of Man, was’ 10th by descent, but ye 11th by succession (without any interruption or discontinuance) from Sr Jn. Stanley, Knight, to whom K. Henry ye 4th gave ye Island, anno 1403; ye late Long Parliament reassumed the same out of his line into their hands, anno 1649. So as ye possession of this Island hath continued in the name and family of the Stanleys for 246 years, which, if my authors do not misreckon, it is almost 80 years more than ye Danes and Norweigans (both put together) did possess ye same, for they both possess’d this Island only for 167 years, saith Holinshead, out of ye annals of Richard Southwell ; George Bucanan and Jn. Maxwell write yt they both held it but 160 years before their expulsion by ye Scots. I cannot assent to either of them ; from Godred Crovan’s conquest in anno 1066, to ye time of Alexr. ye 3d King of Scotland’s possessing of ye same in anno 1266, is full 200 years’ complete.

It hath been observed yt 3 things do naturally tye ye affections of ye subj ects to their sovereigns, namely—love, fear, and reverence ; this Ld James had ye 1st in his height, ye last in great measure, but for the 2d he seemeth to have been beholden to his governor,’ for thro’ his activity he was more punctually obeyed in Man than ye King of England was in any of his 3 dominions, for the laws there against refractories are very strict, as I shall more fully set forth when I shall insist upon the governor’s duty, and in points of prerogative are severely put in execution, so as thereby I was enabled to make this observation yt ye lord’s governor was there feared, not loved ; his other officers were loved, not feared ; having no power over ye Manksmen, the lord himself was both beloved and feared. Ye governor in this Island is ye lord’s skreen ; all ye discontents of ye Manksmen reflect upon ye governor, not upon the 1d. I observed farther yt ye Island of Man is better governed by the lord’s governor then by the lord himself, if the governor be wise and discreet.

Though this lord’s cothand were most absolute, yet his residence there seemed to be but as a refuge or a retiring place from y6 noise and troubles which were then in England, and especially in Lancashire, his own shire. He externally ordered all things by his governor ; even during all ye time of his being there all business was carried on and executed before his coming ; ye governor cothands now as if ye 1d was absent. This lord seem’d little respected either of state or majesty, for in his deportment, retinue, and other for-malities, he express’d rather the representations of an earl in England than of a Prince or an absolute Lord in Man.

By his affability and liberality he became very popular, and had gained the islanders’ affection more as I presume by ye later rather than by the former ; for I believe demonstration might be made yt he gave more donations and pensions than any of his ancestors or predecessors had ever done before; but if you add to this what he expended in building, repairing, and maintaining of ye castles, forts, and other buildings, I say, fortifications within ye Island, wherein he rivald if not did out all yt preceded ; whereby he hath more fortified ye Island than any of ye Kings or Lords of Man yt were before him, all which he hath performed without having any contributions or assistance of ye islanders. So, as we may truly say of this Island of Man, as Guicearden said the Netherlands were to ye King of Spain, who, though he received thence 3 millions every year, yet was it expended and consumed in ye country, maintaining of war fortresses, officers, and for interest money taken up in ye counties ; so this lord’s expenses amounted every year to far more than the annual revenues of the whole Island. But let not ye reader here mis-take me, for my intention is not here to insist upon this lord’s person only.

I have obliged myself to give you a character of ye Island but not of its lord, but by some particular actions and deportments of his to show yt a lord of ye Island may initiate and put in practice, and what he may expect out of the Island towards the supplying of so great disbursments and expences yt he annually of necessity must lay out.

I have seen a list of ye sd James, Earl of Darby’s expenses at ye town and fort of Douglas only. The Constable of yt fort had an annual pension of £10 : 13 : 4, ye Lieutenant of ye fort £10, ye Master of his ship £6, his son as much, to 4 or 5 soldiers belonging to the town and yt fort £6 a man, to 7 or 8 more soldiers belonging to the fort, to some £5, to other £2 : the total, as I remember, amounted to some-what above £80, including the customer and searcher of the ships yt arrive at Douglas.

They told me yt at Peel Castle he was at double yt charge because of ye castle and garison ; but at his castle of Russin, wherein he resideth, he was to disburse more than upon both the other, besides the new fortification made by him at Lang-nose Point, and yt by Peel Town or Hollam TownS, over against ye Island, and Castle of Peel at Ramsey, etc., to captains and gunners there, and other officers ; besides at Ayre in the north, and a new fort begun in the midst of the Island, etc.

He is, moreover, to give pensions to all his principal officers, namely to his governor, to the 2 deemsters, ye comptroller of ye Isle, ye receiver-general, the water-bailiff his attorney-general ; whether ye 24 keys, crowners, and moors have any pension or no of the lord I know not. He gave many other pensions, besides ; to an engineer, to a surgeon he gave £10 a year, besides what he cou’d get by his practice in the Isle. To 2 phisitians, ye one for ye east, ye other for ye west part of ye Island ; to a clothier ; yea, to some tradesman whom ye Island wanted, as to a locksmith, he gave £6 a year and what he cou’d get in ye Island, and others of whom I cou’d not in so short time of my residence there take notice of.

But this late lord’s greatest expence in any one thing was in his house-keeping, he agreed with his steward of his castle of Russin to give him a £1000 p. annum, to provide diet only for himself~, family, and retinue, but his servants were to have one meal a day and a collation. Now to view ye revenues and incomes which, within the Island itself, do belong unto a Lord of Man. These revenues are very small, for the antient crown lands belonging to the lords at this day are not valued at above £300 p. annum. It was in his power, if he had so pleased, to have augmented his revenue £700 more p. annum, by annexing the revenues of ye church unto his own, for ye revenues of ye Bishop’s estate is valued at £400 p. annum, the abbeys, priories, etc., at £300 p. annum ; but he piously bestowed all yt for the better maintenance of ye ministers there, and for the setting up and maintaining 4 free schools in the 4 towns of the Island.

His perquisites, fines, forfeitures, etc., and other such like casualties in so little a quantity of earth, and of no wealthier inhabitants, you may presume cannot amount unto much; something herein, if your curiosity may think it worth your pains, you may gather for your recreation, if not for your satisfaction, out of ye worthy, exact, though little relation of Mr. Robert Tilley, the Lord Fairfax’s attorney-general in yt Island, concerning the courts kept in ye Isle of Man, which is now imprinted in Mr. Chaloner’s Description of the Isle of Man, from p. 17 to p. 23.’

His customs for importations or exportations, which ye Manks call ingate and outgate, are scarce considerable, ye rates are so exceeding small (and of purpose so rated), yt thereby foreign merchants from any coast may be invited to import what they do or may want in the Island ; and for the natives to encourage them to export and traffick abroad into the neighbouring countries and foreign parts.

I will instance in only the chief comodities, which are corn and wine. Corn, whether imported or exported by a stranger, he is to pay but 12d for every bole 2 yt is a bushel ;3 but ye natives do pay 12d for 3 bushels ; for wine imported the rate is but 6d the tunne, and so likewise any one yt sdleth or venteth wine within the Isle paid the same rate_6d the tunne, untill a little before my arrivel there one of the townsmen, who thought thereby to engross the selling of wine only to himsel1~, offered to ye Lord to give 2 shillings for every tunne vented, which is sixpence for every hhd., so as now everyone y~ selleth wine within the Island by yt example must pay for every hhd. as much as before they paid for every ton.

So you see how little it is a Lord of Man can expect from Man, and how to enlarge his incomes or revenues out of so generally barren soil, and from no wealthier inhabitants is an endeavour no less difficult than dangerous, yet not much above 2 years before my coming hither this last lord’s officers did find out and effected, yea, by a witty invention, the groundwork was laid to advance the lord’s rents and revenue to as much as was fitting for the present, and in future to as much as he pleaseth, without any sensible detriment or grievance to ye Manksmen—briefly thus

In the precedent chapter I shewed yt in antient times ye Kings of Man held themselves lords of all the Islands, and yt none had right to any inheritance therein, but yt all ye revenues of the Island belonged to him as lord thereof, and therefore all the inhabitants were but tenants at will, which tenure they call the holding by the straw ; but the lord’s officers then wrought so with all the Manksmen of the Island to alter their whole tenure, and to take leases for 3 lives (as they do in England), alledging the tenure by the straw for that thereby they were but tenants at will, and might be put out at ye pleasure of the lord, but by taking leases for lives both they, their wives, and children, were sure to enjoy the same during any of their lives. These leases extended not only to the lands which they possessed but to the houses wherein they dwelt. Now, to make this innovation the more plausible, and to seem of less consequence, they at first require but 12 pence for every house as a rent, and 12 pence for every acre of land, only they must pay a fine besides, which is now but 4 years’ rent, so as he yt payeth 12d rent for either house or land must pay 4~ more for a fine. This little may prove a much, for both rents and fines may be rais’d, if not racked, where power hath no conscience. The Manks at first muttered, murmured, and complained in private, repining against this innovation (of such consequence in future), but knew not how to help themselves, for some of ye wealthier sort, having been won to consent and lead ye way, ye rest (not having power because poor) dared not to deny but to follow their example, for fear of being made an example ; so as the mutinous soon ceased their murmurings, for, as Plutarch’ and Appian do both observe yt whilst money is agathering men are tumultuous, but when it is gathered men are quiet and tame enough. I grant this may augment the revenues, but in my opinion ye 1d hath much diminished his power, for a tenant at will stands more in awe and yieldeth more willingly servile obedience to his lord than doth any tenant for life or years.


1 In the Life of Anthony. Continuation of the civil wars of Rome.

2 Was inform’d, that by patent, by our K. Char. 2d, created duke; but ye patent in ye cross at Chester, anno 1651, miscarried, and we hear no more of it.

2 By ye Ld Bacon.

1 {John Greenhaigh was Governor at this time.—Editor.]

1 The revenues belonging to a Lord of Man.

1 [In pages 20 to 24 of the Manx Society’s reprint, Vol. X. —Editor.]

2 I suppose they had the word bole, from the Scotch word bowl, for a


 3 A boll of barley and oats is a measure of 6 bushels ; of wheat, rye, pease,. beans, and potatoes, 4 bushels, in the Isle of Man.—Editor.


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000