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




I HERE prsent my reader wth more of ye lawes and customes of the Isle of Man, omitting to repeat againe such as are already sett downe here and there, in befitting title and places, in ye first and second bookes of this history ; for example, I repeat not againe those yt concerne ye Lord of ye Island, either of ye dutyes and prerogatives doe belong unto him; 2, or concerning any of his officers’ pow’~ and duty ; 3, or concerning their fishing of herrings ; 4, or yt concerne ye castles, forts, etc. ; 5, or their watching and warding on ye Snaefel, or in ye townes, etc.

There are, besides some others wch concerne ye ecclesiasticall governmt wch I shall set downe in ye third booke of this history.

My memory doth not accuse me for any one law or custome in ye Isle of Man (wch my curious key had collected for his better enabling himselfe to discharge ye duty of his place), unless it be a very slight one concerning tenants, juliers, wherein I was ye more negligent, because oppertunity served not to instruct my ignorance, ye rest are here put downe in their owne phrase and language, as I found ym in my Manksman’s private booke.

1. Whosoever causeth any gathering togeather of people in prejudise of ye people, or cometh in force of armes against the governor (especially at a Tinwald), or rnaketh any murmure, or causeth any rising of ye people here in p’sence of ye governor, or seeketh to constraine him to put downe ye lord’s customes, or his prerogative at the Tinwald,’ is a traytor.

2. Relieving of rebells (knowing of ye rebellion) is treason.

3. None may transport any Manks servant or tenant out of ye Island ~ithout ye licence of ye lieutenant (yt is ye governo’), sub pena to forfeit his vessell, and to pay ye farme (yt is ye rent) of them he carrieth away. Moreover, his body tobe cothitted to prison, and to finde surety to come again.

4. Noe alien coming into ye Island with merchandise shall goe any farther into ye Island then to ye parish church, upon paine of forfeture of his goods, and his body to prison.

5. Noe Tinwald, market, or fair, shall be kept on ye Sabbath-day.

6. Yeares for discretion of children is at fourteen yeares— but ye full age is twenty-one yeares.

7. Noe overseer of infants can set or sell ye infant’s estate but only during ye minority of ye infant, except in case of extremity, yt is w" there are no other goods left to pay debts, or to bring up ye children, wch mother fr~ doe refuse to bring them up.

8. If any man have a child one yeare or two yeares before marriage, and after he marrieth ye woman ye child is legitimated by the customary lawes.

9. Sunday blanketts shall not be taken for corbes, but shall goe to the next child.

10. If a felon have a wife, and was before ye offence committed married unto her a year and a day, ye wife shall not loose her widdow’s right, neither of ye goods nor lands, but she shall have her part thereof clear, paying her proportionable share of ye debts.I 1 [See more of this before, Chapter 11.—Editor.]

11. If a woman doe cornit felony her husband may forsake her and her deeds, if not, and yt bee concealeth her deeds, he standeth ye law as ye woman ; but if ye husband doe comit felony ye wife looseth not her part, although shee conceal ye deeds of her husband, because shee is subject unto him.

This it seemeth they had from ye Scotts, for king Keneth ye sonne of Alpin, anno 834, made a law—Let not ye wife suffer for the husband’s misdeeds, but ye husband shall answer for ye wife’s misdeeds if he be privy thereto. Hector Boetius, 1. x. p. 201 ; Holinshead, Cron. of Scotland, pp. 172 and 181.

12. Noe mercht can transport any monyes out of ye Island wthout lycence.

13. I found a law yt ye Scotts should avoyd out of ye Island wth ye next vessell upon pain of forfeiture of his goods and his body to prison ; but this have been long absoleted as ye next above, as I suppose.

14. If either ye man or ye woman doe dye w~~~in a year and a day after their marriage, neither of them can claime any marriage goods, except it be given by will (of either of ye partyes yt dyeth) unto ye other. If noe will be made the goods doe goe to the next of kinne.

15. If any have goods in a felon’s keeping he must come and claime these before ye felon be condemned, or else they are in ye lord’s grace.

16. The soldiers are to worke ye lord’s hay if called.

17. There was here an old custome concerning debts. W11 ye debtor died and was buried, and no bonds nor writings made to express ye debt, ye creditor did come to ye grave and layd himselfe all along, wth his back upon ye grave, wtI~ his face towards heaven, and a bible on his breast, and there he protested before God yt is before above him, and by ye contents of ye bible on his breast, yt ye deceased there buried under him did owe him soe much money, and y11 ye executors were bound to pay it. But anno 1609 (Wiffiam, Earle of Darby being then lord of Man) 8ber 12, at Castle towne, it was agreed upon by John Ireland, lieutenant, ye two deemsters, and ye 24 keyes, yt such a custome was not fitting nor christain like, and therefore it was decreed that thenceforth it should bee abolished, and yt such controversyes should receive hearing and be tried according to ye forme of law, by witnesses or otherwise, first in ye spirituall court wthin ye 12 month and a day, and then in ye temporall court.

18. If any one do force or ravish a woman, if shee be a wife he shall suffer ye law for her, but if shee be a mayd or a single woman, ye deemster shall give her a rope, a sword, and a ring, and shee shall have her choyce either to hang him wth ye rope, or to cut off his head wth ye sword, or to marry him with ye ring.

The aforesaid Keneth, King of Scotland, made a law yt he yt did ravish a mayd should dye, unless shee required him for her husband. Hector and Holinshead, ubi suprc&.

19. At a Tinwald 1629, June 24, it was concluded and agreed for law yt stealing or cutting of beehives in gardens shall bee felony or death, wthout valuing of ye same.

20. Alsoe yt whosoever stealeth a sheep, mutton or lamb, of wch age or worth soever, ye offender shall be put to death, ?;~SO facto, upon inquisition taken, without valluing or distinguishing of the price.

21. Alsoe all those yt steale turfe, ling, or gorse, robbed any garden, clipped other men’s sheep, stolu come or hay out of ye fields or haggards, or hath stolen geese, hens, ducks, or such like pilferyes, to ye vallue of sixpence halfepenny, it shall bee felony to death ; if it bee under ye value they are to bee whipped, and to sitt on ye wooden horse at ye discretion of ye captaine.

22. Alsoe to pull horse tayles, shall be set on a wooden horse two houres, and to be whipped naked from ye wast upwards.

23. This customary law following I found not in my Manks notes (yet seeing it was soe set downe in or law bookes of 12 H. 8, fol. 5, and cited for one of ye lawes of ye Isle of Man), I thought good to sett it downe amongst these:

If any man steale a horse or oxe it is no felony, but if he steal a capon or pigg he shall bee hanged.

24. Noe native, though he have paid his debts and farme, ‘ shall goe out of ye Island wthout licence ; if he doe goe away in his owne boat, or steal a boat from another, he shall be a felon, and he shall forfeit his goods whose tenant soever he bee.

25. Those yt are choseii to be inquest men are to pay their penaltyes if soe bee yt they have any goods, and if he have none yt quest shall pay it for him, because they had such a man in ye roll that had noe goods.

26. All treasures hidden and discovered (wch is called in England treasure trove) belonges unto ye lord of ye Island; but if any man, for safety of ye goods or mony, either for fear of enemyes or any other mischance, doe hide monys or goods in any place, and doe make some other privy to it, such child or friend shall receive ye money or goods soe hidden soc as he be able to produce one wittness at ye least (who is not detected of any crime), yea, though ye wittness be his bror, sister, friend, etc.

27. If any one breake open a fire house, either ye wall or the door thereof, or if there be no door, but a bundle of gorse or ling reared up to keep out the wind in ye door, or but two sticks put across in ye door, it is burglary, and death to the delinquent, though it bee but felony under the vallue of sixpence halfepenny.

28. Felons and murtherers are to be hanged ; ye women in ancient time were to be put in a sack and sowed up, and soe flung into the sea from a rock, but now ye women are hanged as the men, only ye witches are burnt.

The Scottish civill law is very uncivill and severe against women. Malcom Comore, King of Scotland, in ye first year of his reigne ordained yt barons ~ had libertyes within them-selves, should make gibbets for men, and draw-wells wherein ye women yt ~vere condemned should be drowned.—Hohingsh. Hist. of ScotL, p. 253.

K. Keneth alsoe, ye sonne of Alpin, made a law yt a woman condemned to dye, either let her be drowned in some river or be buried quick.—Holingsh. list. of Scotl., p. 180.

Hect. Boet., 1. x. p. 200.

29. Of felon’s goods ye hoggs belong to the Lord, and ye goats to the Queen of ye Island.




It was adjudged, Tr. 40 Eleiz., yt ye Isle of Man is descendable to ye heires-generall, and not to the heires-male only.—Cooke Instit., part 4, ch. 69.

No Act of Parliamt made in England doth bind ye king’s subjects in ye Island of Man unless ye Island of Man be therein expressly named.—Cooke (ubi supra), Kelloway Reports, 14 H. 8.

The Isle of Man being wthin ye fee of ye King of England, ye Manksmen are adjudged to bee ye king’s naturall subjects born, and are capable and inheritable of lands in England, Ployden’s Coment., p. 126 (5~ Richard Buckley’s case). Whereas ye Lord Cooke (ubi supra) saith, yt in ye Isle of Man, upon ye sale of a horse, or any contract for any other thing, they make ye stipulation perfect per traditionem stipula. I hold this to be rather ye islanders’ comon custome rather yn a customary law of ye Island.




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