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In or about the year 1792, his Majesty appointed five commissioners to inquire into the state of the Isle of Man. These were, John Spranger, Esq. -- Grant, Esq. attorney and M.P. ---Osgoode, Esq. attorney; -- Roe, Esq. commissioner of the customs at London ; and --- Reid, Esq. commissioner of the customs at Edinburgh, who, on arriving in the island, were joined by a committee of the Keys. Their report, printed at a future period for the use of both houses of parliament, throws considerable light upon the subject. It gives the following statement of the amount of custom-dues for the year 1790 ; Collected at Douglas port .......... £. 2798 0 104
erby Haven ........... 104 9 5 Peel ........
31 19 24 Ramsey
80 1941 3016 811
This account does not include harbour dues, amounting to about 3001. per annum, and the herring custom, about 1001. per annum, appropriated to the repairs of the harbours ; nor does it include the rent of the salmon fisheries, 221. per annum, nor the revenue of the post-office, amounting to the nett sum of between 2001. and 3001. The expenditure of the same year, exclusive of the harbours, was 32721. 2s. 2d.
The commissioners pointed out many defects in the system of collecting, and thought a radical change absolutely necessary.
The Duke of Athol asserted in the allegations, submitted to the House of Commons in the year
1790, that, for the 70,0001. received, he had given - up an income of 80001. per annum.* The statement just given is sufficient to shew that it was derived almost, if not quite, exclusively from a trifling duty on the smuggling trade. All other branches of trade were, at this time, greatly increased; the duties were heavier ; and still the custom-house revenue was exceeded by the expenditure. A duty equal to only 2 or 3 per cent. ad valorem, upon the imports, would be sufficient to raise the alleged sum.
From better management and higher duties, the revenue was so greatly increased that, according to Mr. Pitt's statement in the House of Commons in 1805, it amounted to the gross sum of 12,0001. per annum, upon the average of the last few years; and according to Sir W. Bur. roughs to 16,0001. for the year 1804. At this
* This sum must include, not only what he received, but also what he judged himself to be defrauded of,
time a further compensation of one-fourth of the gross revenues of the island was made to the Duke of Athol and his heirs for ever. This subject will be fully spoken of at the end of the present Book.
THE Isle of Man is rendered extremely in=. teresting by being a little dependency on Great Britain, retaining its own laws and customs; the more so, now England, Scotland, and Ireland are blended into one government; still preserving its freedom from all internal taxation, while the surrounding nations are almost overwhelmed. Lord Chief-justice Coke observes, that, although this island is no parcel of the realm of England, yet it is part of the dominions of the King, and therefore allegiance is reserved in public oaths; and that its laws are such as are scarce to be found anywhere else.
The isle is divided into two districts, each having a Deemster or chief-justice; into six sheadings or counties, with their respective coroners or sheriffs ; and into seventeen parishes.
The subjects under consideration I shall endeavour to arrange as succinctly as possible in
the following order; the rights and liberty of the person; property in general; private wrongs, and their redress; public wrongs, and their punishment.
The Isle of Man cannot boast of any Magna Charta, any Bill of Rights, any Habeas-Corpus act, or any written promise of the sovereign relative to the liberty of the subject.
The infringement of liberty gives rise to laws respecting it. When the government of a country continues long, with little variation, and is not intolerably bad, the people are usually content. The arbitrary acts of John and his predecessors, and the people's wish for their old Saxon government, gave rise to the rebellion of the Barons, the English Magna Charta.
We hear of few vexatious arrests made by the Manks government, and of these few is that of Bishop Wilson. The Lord's officer might imprison any one for a debt due to the Lord; but the causes sufficient for arresting a person were not defined in any act previously to the year 1736, when the Governor or any of the officers was prohibited from arresting a man, except for flagrant breaches of the peace, open riots or