- Officers & Tenure (c1680)
- History of Tenure (c1690)
- Manorial Records (1765)
- The Records (1765)
- Customary Laws (17th C)
- Spiritual Customary Laws
Ancient Customary Laws
Some of the ancient customary laws of the Isle of Man are recorded with the statutes and have been incorporated in published records (such as Mills' Statutes). Some (perhaps those which were considered less important to the administration of the island) of these customary laws appear to have been excluded however. They are of interest in part because of what they reveal about the Manx way of life at the time.
Reference MS9864 GR 1/20 in the Manx National Heritage Library holds a manuscript which appears to record (at least some of) the additional customary laws. A typed transcript of this manuscript is held at the same reference. The following is based on that typed transcript (rather than the original manuscript) and may possibly contain some mistakes. Line and page breaks have been preserved.
When I wrote this page I was unaware that Peter Edge had already transcribed both this document and Deemster Parr's Abstract (of the Laws, Customs and Ordinances) which references it. A link to his (rather tidier) versions of both documents is given under Manx Links (from the sidebar in the Introduction section).
Since Deemster Parr's Abstract was written circa 1690 we can be sure the list of customary laws written below were then considered an authority.
LAWES Att the first when the noble & worthy Sir John Stanley did possess the Island of Man, the Tenants then havinge noe certaine tenures but taking their Farmes from ye lords officers or those that they did substitute to deal & [?] in that service, somtymes for three or five years & sometymes for more years, the rents then risinge or fallinge & at noe certayntie (as now they are) but as the said officers or yr substitutes could compound and agree with ye tenants The inhabitants, of the Island did build noe houses, nor bestowe any charges for ye betteringe of yr tenenms or Farmes but such as of necessity, they must use, and therefore they provided noe windows nor doors for their said houses, but made bundells of bryers, gorse or heath as some poore people use yet at this tyme, and therewith made upp a doore to defend them from the injuries of the weather & invasion of theeves. And in regard their strength, fences and fortificacons of the houses were such & soe weak, it was pro -vided by a law that whosoever did presume or attempt to open any of yr said doores soe made upp, or enter into any of their said houses, without the knowledge of ye owner thereof, & did not first speak unto and salute, and after aske leave for cominge & enteringe in, the man or woman yt did soe offend in yt case, should be taken to prison & executed as a felon. and that this lawe doth continue & is in use at this present tyme, being ye antientest customary lawe of this Island 2. It is an antient custome that if a man marry a wife who hath or was borne to a farms & begett by her a sone or daughter although ye sd man shall after be convicted of felony or any other capital cryme [page 2] and condemned for ye same, yet shall his sd sons and daughter continue & hold ye said Farme because ye same descended unto them from the mother, who was free and not guilty of ye said capitall cryme, & ye lord is only interested in those & soe much goods as was propy & belongings unto him yt is convicted, but if ye Farme & goods belongs & are appropriated unto ye lord although they have children who only have a propriety in ye goods of ye father or mother who is free & not guilty of ye said capitall cryme. 3. After an orphan is come to lawfull yeares and possession of his goodes, he is to goe to ye spirituall judges, who are to give a command & direccon unto the Register to deliver unto him a coppie of ye Inventorie of those goods & in whose hands & custodie they remayne, wch permission hee hath gotten under the hand of ye said Regtr hee is first to goe unto those yt have his said goods & demand a restitucon thereof and if they shall deny ye same hee is againe to goe to ye said Spirituall Judges and acquaint them therewith, procure their letters & certificate to the Deemster of their disobedience and for his assistance which when hee hath seene hee thereupon without any accon is to give & grant his authoritie unto the Corr to seize restrain & take sufficient pawne from those in whose hands ye goods remayne or to whose custodie they were committed, & if hee therein shall bee dissobeyed, he is to make presentment of their disobedience yt ye assistance of soldiers & further authoritie may be used 4. Also it is an ancient law yt if a men or his wife dye, his or her creditors after their death are to prove & make to appears to bee due their debt before ye spirituall judges & from them receive authoritie to obtayne soe much thereof [page 3] thereof as is due unto them from ye deceased whereof when the said Creditor has brought a coppie or certificate under ye hands of ye sd spirituall judges unto ye Deemster (hee without any further proofs or evidence is to grant authority to ye creditors to take pawne, or distreyne upon ye goods of ye ptie lyvinge (or soe much as from ye sd pty lyvinge is due, or belongs unto him, because the pty lyvinge is subject to ye Tempall & not to ye Spirituall jurisdiction 5. If a man make sayle of a horse yt hath ye scabb, a lamenesse, or any other noysome disease, without ye knowledge of ye buyer ye sd buyer makinge proofe before ye deemster yt ye sd horse was such & soe diseased upon his receipt thereof, may returns ye sd horse to ye seller, and the deemsters authority to obtayne ye price or consideracon yt hee gave for ye same 6. Likewise if a man make sayle of a swyne wch after ye killinge thereof is found infected with ye leaprosie or measles ye buyer may returns it to ye seller, and by ye deemsters authorety receyve ye price or consideracon yt was given for ye same 7. Also if any sell mault yt (after ye brewinge thereof) is found to bee redd, to cause or provoke vomittinge or otherwise hurtfull or noysome to man by means of ye badnes of ye mault and not ye fault of ye ayle wife who brewed ye same, shee is to send word to ye seller to take & carry ye same away to his best use & if hee shall refuse so to doe, hee loseth both ye ayle or ye beer & ye price of ye mault 8. The like course & proceedings is used & obteyned in any other things that is diseased & found corrupt & not marchantable for ye buyer makinga it appears before ye deemster yt upon delivery & of receipt thereof ye same without his knowledge was either diseased or unsound [page 4] or corrupt or not merchantable is to have ye deemsters authoritie to returne ye sd thinge to ye seller, & to receyve ye price or considerecon yt hee gave for ye same without any further suite, And if it may hee made to appears yt ye seller fraudulently & deceiptfully knowinge ye thing to bee such before his sayle, & not —withstandinge made sayle thereof as a thinge good, sound end marchantable to ye losse & herme of ye buyer, hee is withall to give satisfaccon to ye buyer upon ye discrecon & conscience of ye deemster for ye chardges & losse yt thereby hee hath sustayned 9. If a man make sayle of a thinge first to one man, to whome hee gave noe possession thereof And after the same thinge to another to whome he hath given possession of ye said thinge; hee who hath possession thereof is to continue ye same, and hee who had first sayle; hath onlie ye benefitt of an accon of coussenage against ye seller 10. If there bee a contract of buyinge & sellinge betwixt 2 pties, and a covenant or agree ment made for ye certayne price of ye thing bought & sould, & pte of ye sd price paid, although ye same bee but vi d & ye whole 20s or more pounds, both pties are tyed to ye performance thereof And therefore ye buyer hath an accon agt ye seller yt ye thing sold bee delivered unto him, and ye seller agt ye buyer yt ye price thereof be paid unto him 11. If a man (sellinge a hosse, oxe, or cowe or any other things) deliver for or as possession thereof to ye buyer, an handfull of hay or straw, (wch is ye usuall maner or customs of ye countrey), and ye sd thinge after possession soe given miscarry or perish ye losse thereof falls or belonges to ye buyer, but if ye buyer not satisfied with yt manor of possession shall desire a present & reels possession of [page 5] of ye thinge bought, & ye seller neglect or re fuse to doe ye same, if ye thinge then bought shall after miscarry or perish any maner or way ye losse thereof falls to ye seller because he neglected & refused to give ye reale pos session thereof when ye buyer willed & demanded ye same 12. By an antient use & customs of ye Countrey yet continued noe man killinge a sheepe or weather may sell ye skin thereof before ye flesh be eaten That ye Coronr or lockman haveinge occassion to search it may appears unto him who was the owner thereof, and if any shall otherwise doe, hee giveth an occasion of a stronge presumption yt ye sd goods hath beene feloniously stolne & con -veyed away And thereuppon ye Coronr or lockman ought to impannell a Jury for ye lord, to present ye same, yt ye Court hear -inge & examinge itt, may as they shall find just cause, either order ye sd ptie to bee indited as a felon, or to bee thoroughly fined 13. When ye Coronr shall goe to make search for stolne goods, wch by his oath & offise hee is tyed & bound to doe 4 tymes in ye yeare or upon ye suite or motion of any other who hath his goods feloniously conveyed away hee hath full authoritie to goe unto ye houses or chambers of any And there make search in their coffers or what is contayned within ye sd house or chamber, and if in yt service hee shall bee opposed or resisted, he or shee yt shall therein oppose or resist him are taken holden & reputed ( by an an -cient custome of ye countrey) guilty of felon -ie & ought thereof to be indited And if any inhabitant in this service shall deny or refuse to assist him, hee charginge & commandinge them in ye lords name & behalf to assist & joyne with him they [page 6] they are both to bee punished & fined 14. If a man suspected of felonie & questioned for ye same lyve in one psh & ye ptie yt doth suspect & question ye said msn in another, ye jury of inquisition must bee equally chosen & appointed in both ye sd pshes. 15. By an antient custome all those Tenants yt doth adioyne to ye fell, mountaynes or ye lords comons, are to make, mahtayne & repare ye hedges & fences thereof, they are to be presented by ye grand jury & fined for ye same, And by ye same Customs it hath always been provided yt all ye gorse whins or heath yt doth grow & joyne to ye sd hedge soe farr as a man from ye same can throw or cast his heath or gorse hooke, shall bee reserved for ye mainteynance of ye sd hedge, And if any therefore shall presume or attempt to cutt, pull or carry away any of ye sd gorse, whinns or heath yt groweth within ye sd lymitt or compass unless it bee for ye use of ye sd hedge, hee is to bee presented & fined 16 It is alsoe an antient custome yt all those yt send or dryves any goods, to ye lords commons or mountaynes or kaepeth any goods in ye sumer or carries or draweth any turfes linge heath or any other comodetie from it, shall give to ye tenant yt mantayneth ye lydgate through wch they passe & repasse, one halfe penny every seaventh yeare for ye mantaynance of ye sd lydgate 17 It is alsoe an antient custome yt ye lords wast rent shall bee sett upon such as paying noe rent have beene borne on his owne land, or ye Barons, if they have served on ye lords land one yeare, and for this and yt if [page 7] that if they (after being tenants shall bee convicted Of any capit -all offence or otherwise transgresses ye law they by ye sd wast rent may be knowne to be longs to ye lords jurisdicon and ye benifitt of their goods or fines accordinge to ye qualety of their offence to bee taken & seized on for ye lord 18. By ye like antient custome the Barons tenants are to repaire & mantayne ye meare hedge deviding the lords land from ye Barrons & betwixt him & ye lords tenant provided yt for ye manteynance and repaccon thereof hee shall bee permitted & authorised to cut sodds or earth on ye lords side, soe farr as (joyninge his hele to ye said hedge) hee can reach with his spade holding his foote thereon 19. The moare of the present yeare is to bee of ye settinge quest for ye yeare followinge, because hee is left acquainted with ye estate, condicon & abihity of every severall tenant within his psh & can informe ye rest of his fellowes who are of suffici -encie & abillitie for ye paymt of ye lords rent & who they are doubtfull of that they may enr -iquire those to put in & produce sufficient ser -curitie for ye paymt of ye said rent, or if they cannot, to provide a new tenant 20. If any tenant havinge his house on ye lords land shall remove and depte from thence hee may take & carry from ye sd house the doores thereof but soe many of ye sd doores as shell be found to have hung upon iron hinges, may not bee removed 21. It standeth otherwise with ye Abbey Tenants for if they remove, howsoever ye doores of their houses be hunge, they may by ye antient custome of ye land carry them away as alsoe ye whole roofe, win -dows & what els may bee usefull 22. If a man indebted shall acknowledge his debt before ye deemster, Coronr or lockman being before them ye deemster without any accon grant a present execution against ye ptie And [page 8] And if shall confess but pte thereof, for soe much as hee shall confesse an execution is granted, and ye rest refferred to bee tryed & ruled by way of accon 23. If a Farm (uppon Creditt) shall make sayle of barlie, mault, wheat or any other grayne or corne, to a townsman or any other pson, wch if hee is forced to doe to permite ye payment of ye lords Rent, although ye ptie yt brought ye same shall deny ye debt & price of ye sd grayne or corne, yet the sd Farmer or seller of ye sd corne by an antient custome of ye land upon his owne oath given & ministered by ya deemster without further proofe or testimonia, hath ye price of ye sd corne censured & judged unto him wth ye grant of a present execution provided yt there shall goe before a presumpcon of ye truth of ye sd oath, and ye deemster out of his discrecon religion & knowledge, approve of ye honeatie of ye deponent 24. The deemster alsoe by an antient custome upon ye complaynt of a servant for want of his wages is to cause ye master of ye servant to come before him, and if hee cannot give good satisfaccon unto him, that he hath made payment of ye sd servants wages, nor shew inst & lawfull cause wherefore hee withholdeth ye same; The deemster (uppon ye bare oath of ye said servant administered unto him before his sd maister, is to grant a present execution against him, for soe much as ye sd servant hath deposed to bee detayned from him 25. This alsoe may bee done by ye Coron at ye psh church where both ye master & servant lyveth by ye discrecon of ye deemster, or at ye eteele or gate of ye sd church yard, ye Coronr is to minister an oath unto ye said servant & certifie ye deemster how much of his wages hee hath deposed to bee deteyned fr m him by his said meister, that there upon an execution may bee granted 26. If a man doe enter an accon for goods or cattle in ye tempall Court, & ye ptie deffend dye before [page 9] before a censure, ye sd accon dyeth with him also And ye sd plant must renew his suit, and re -move his accon to ye spirituall Court where ye same is to receive a censure, but if ye said accon bee for lands, notwithstandinge ye death of ye deffendt, ye same continueth & admitteth a censure in ye tempall Court 27. If a man move a suite, hee is to acquaint ye deffendt thereof before hee enter his accon wch if he shall neglect to doe, ye sd deffendt offer -inge, & being ready to give satisfaction before censure, whether ye plant accept or refuse ye same, is freed from ye fyne & charges of ye Court thereby 28. If there be 2 ptnrs or 2 halfe owners in a fishinge boate, and ye one of them unwillinge to continue ptner wth ye other, the deemster upon his com playnt is to authorise him to praize ye sd boate and offer to give free choise & liberty unto his other ptner or fellow owner, either to accept or take ye whole boate payinge unto him ye sd complaynt halfe ye price thereof, or els to accept the sd halfe price & deliver unto him the whole boate, and if hee deny this to doe ye Coror is to cast lotts betwixt them, and accordinge to their lott, to enjoyne ye one to accept halfe ye price, & ye other ye whole boate 29. If an antient Tenant milne bee out of repair or want water, whereby it cannot grind the tenants corne yt is brought to ye same, ye owner of ye sd milne, takinge his toll or multure out of ye sd corne (beinge ye 24th pte thereof) is uppon his owne charges to carry ye sd corne to another milne, & there to grind ye same without any further multure, and after carry ye same againe, to his owne milne, where ye tenant is to receive it 30. If there bee a wast unrented place yt doth adjoyne to ye gable of a mans house, that hath therein neither doore nor window, any man whosoever havinge before procured ye governrs license, and [page 10] and proved ye same to bee unrented by ye Grandjurie may build in or uppon ye same place, and adjoyne his house to ye same gable and lay flace or sett his rafters uppon ye same payinge halfe ye charges of ye sd gable unto ye owner thereof, upon ye judgmt of two or 4 mazons indifferently choosen to price and esteeme ye same 31. If a man shall lend corne, meale, timber, borrds, planks, hay, iron or any other thinge yt doth consist of nomber, weight or measure to bee repaid in ye same or ye yeare followinge uppon a certayne day or tyme nominated & aggreed upon, The ptie who borrowed any of those thinges is then at ye saide tyme or in ye said year, tyed, obliged & bound to repay & restore such like & of ye same goodnes as hee borrowed, although ye price of those thinges bee much omore at yt tyme, than they were when hee did borrow ye same, and if ye borrower shall unjustly deny ye paymt & restitucon of ye sd things unto ye lender at or upon ye tyme aggreed uppon, and force him ye sd lender to recover ye same by suite of law wch peradventure cannott bee ended before ye yeare followinge, when ye sd thinges borrowed are fallen to a lower or lesser rate than it was when either he borrowed, or should have repaid ye same; yet shall ye sd borrower repay & restore to ye lender ye full price & estimacon whereat ye things borrowed was when hee should & ought to have repaid ye same 32 If any man have his corne eaten, or receyve harme by ye goods of another, hee is to ac -quaint there with who is ye owner of ye said goods, if they bee in his owne custodie, or any other yt hath taken ye sd goods to pasture for hyre or paymt, and shall will & move him to bringe or send 2 honest & indifferr -ent men, to view, see, & censure ye harme & loaae done, who joyninge with other two like honest & indifferent men yt ye ptie who hath suetayned ye losse, shall bringe or send after [page 11] (after they have well seen & considered ye losses and harmes are to esteeme & value them as their best judmts & consciences shall direct them But if hee who is & ought to give or make satisfaccon, shall refuse or neglect to send 2 such men ye Coror or lockman upon ye motion or desire of him yt hath received ye losse, is to comand & charge 4 indifferent men, to view, see, consider & valew ye said harme & losse, and accordinge to their estima -tion thereof satisfaccon is to bee made & given by authority from ye deemster 33. And in this case if hee who is guilty of ye sd losse harme or trespas shall dye before satisfaccon bee given his heyre, executr or successor is tyed & obliged to ye performance thereof, to him his heyre, or executr yt hath sustayned ye same. But if ye ptie who heth sustayned ye losse shall be willinge to referr ye estimacon thereof to ye oath of ye ptie who is guilty of ye sd losse or ye ptie to ye oath of him who hath sustayned ye same (as oft & usually is done) it is suffici -ent without ye viewinge of men or their vallu -inge their losse & harme Likewise if a man have sustayned losse in his grasse or pasture by another, hee is to receive satisfeccon for ye same in one & ye same maner as for his corne 34. If ye cowe or oxe of one man shall kill ye Cow or oxe of another wee observe in this cause ye civill law of Moses as is expressed in ye 21 chapter of Exodus verse 35 36 35. If a man shall kill yee beast or cattle of another either by blowes, stroakes, by famyne in keep -ing ye sd goods eoe longe within ye house or elawhere, yt they dye & persh, or any other maner or means whatsoever The sd beast or cattle are to be viewed & scene by 4 judicious & indifferent men & satisfaccon given to ye owner of them as their discrecon & conscience shall direct them [page 12] 36. If a man bee beaten by another, either by his fist, staffe, or weapon, or bee defamed by eeandalous words or infamous libels or hand violence offered him within his house hee may & ought to have an accon of injurie against ye sd ptie, but if hee ye sd ptie dye before ye ptie wronged hath comenced suite against him, ye sd ptie wronged can have noe accon against his heyre ae executor 37. If an oxe, bull, cow or horse, or any other beast whatsoever, shall kill, or bee ye immedi -ate cause of ye death of a man, woman or child, that oxe, bull, cowe, horse or beast (Although ye same did belongs to ye tenants of any of ye Barons, or to ye barons themselves doth fall & become propy & due to ye lord 38. Hee yt through errour or mistake shall assume to himself or use ye goods of another whether ye same bee lambe, shepe or weather or any other things whatsoever, is not to be indited for ye same, but only used to give satisfaccon or to make restitucon because ye theft may not bee comitted but wth a pur posse & intention of stealing & ye said law in our languadge is called Marraine wch signifies a mistake, notwithstandinge a jury pssseth thereupon to examine & find out ye truth 39. Whereas there is s law or statute yt if any man Bd shall dye posest wth free & debtles goods to ye value of 20s viii s thereof is to be paid thereon for a Corpresent That law or statute is to bee understood thus and ye sd goods in his sort & manor are to bee esteemed & valued by antient customs of ye countrey a draught oxo at 5s a milke cow at 5s viii sheape at 5s a boule wheate 12d a boule barley 3d & all other goods accordinge to this precedent rateing [A comment in the margin reads "This corrected 1643 & entered in Statute]