Page images

may think proper, in his own practice and proceedings.

From his decision, or from that of the House of Keys, an appeal may be made to the King of England in council, in any cause not lower in value than five pounds; and his decision is absolutely final.

No action of arrest can be granted against a · landed man, or pative of the isle, to imprison or

hold him to bail, to appear at any court, on account of a civil action, unless he has obtained the Governor's pass, or there is some just cause to believe that he designs to go off the island ;* debts due, or supposed to be due, to the crown, being exceptions to this rule. † Any person prosecuted for a foreign debt, by an action of arrest, can be held to bail, only for his personal appearance, and for the forth-coming of what goods he has upon the island ; his clothes and money continuing his own. Hence it is, that strangers who, from misfortune or fraudulent design, have left their creditors, and brought with them the remainder of their property, find a safe asylum here. This place, indeed, is more privileged than may be, at first, imagined : for, not only is the money of the idle class secure, but also the property of the industrious, provided they take the precaution of carrying on business, in the name of some other person, their friend, who, whether in partnership of not, must nominally be possessed of all the effects, except the money. Persons of this description also buying houses or land usually make the purchase in the name of a relative or friend, and thereby possess the property without molestation. The debtor may be informed that a bankruptcy at home will annihilate all such speculations.

* Statute-book, 1736.

+ Act of Parliament 5 Geo. III. cap. 39; Act of Tinwald, 1777; and Act of Parliament 50 Geo. III. cap. 42.

A creditor, or his agent, in order to procure an arrest, must produce his speciality, if he has any; if not, he must make an affidavit before the clerk of the rolls, or other person duly authorised, wherein is to be specified the amount of the debt, and in what manner it was contracted. If a debtor is about to leave the island without settling an account, the water-bailiff may, upon affidavit of the creditor, grant his authority to take him into custody, to detain bim for the space of twenty-four hours, but not

longer ;. this time being amply sufficient for procuring a regular arrest.;

The Ecclesiastical Court takes cognizance of adultery, fornication, swearing, and cursing, probates of wills, granting letters of administration and tuition, of children's goods, subtracting of tithes, defamations, drunkenness : and no appeal can, in these cases, be made from its decision. The causes, when important, are determined by juries impannelled by the Vicarsgeneral. The Arch-deacon has alternate jurisa diction with the Bishop in inferior causes; and holds his court in person, or by his official, as the Bishop does by the Vicars-general.

The ancient manner of proving a debt due from the deceased was this : The creditor took a witness with him to the church-yard, and, upon the grave of the deceased, swore to the debt. This practice was abolished in 1609, and the matter referred to the spiritual-court, if within a twelvemonth and a day of the probate; if beyond this period, the temporal court.

The ecclesiastical judges possessed great power over the person of the subject, till the year 1737, at which time it was much diminished. They could no longer imprison, except for a short time, in certain cases ; and the fines and imprisonments for contempt of court were no longer discretionary.

Townley mentions a curious presentment de- i livered in at the Bishop's Court, held at KirkChrist Lezayre, during his residence at Douglas : “ The devil take Billy Wattleworth for having such bad ale.” The offence being proved, the offender was subjected to a fine.

The language of the ecclesiastical decrees is a most curious jumble of Latin and English, of ! which the following are instances :

“K. Marown church, Nov. 1, 1789, John Bridson, curate. Presentments. The Curate and wardens present Margaret Clark, alias Fayle, for fornication ; (a child born at K. Patrick, 24th October.) This woman has deposed, on the Holy Evangelists, that William Kelly, of the said parish, is the father of the said child; which he acknowledged before me, Evan Christian. The said Mary Clark is therefore censured 7 dies in carcere; and to enter into bonds of 31. in usum Domini Regis; to undergo penance 3 dies, plena ecclesia, in penitential habit, and not iterum fornicari; and the said William Kelly for being an adulturer, is cen

sured 14 dies, in carcere, and to enter into bonds of 101. in usum Domini Regis; to undergo penance 7 dies in diversis ecclesiis, et non iterum mæchari.

Evan Christian, Vicar-general. Item. The wardens present William Kelly, for not living with his own wife, and for living with the above named Margaret Clark, alias Fayle. The said William Kelly and Margaret Clark are hereby ordered to be committed alternately to prison ; there to remain until they enter into bonds of 101. in usum Domini Regis, not to cohabit or associate together in future, except at church and market; and before releasement to pay all fees.

« The wardens present Christian Guliam for fornication; a child born : common fame. This woman having alledged that she has a husband, who is father to the said child, her censure is suspended.

- John MOORE,

“Ev. CHRisTiAN. “Examined by J. CULLEN, Epis. Regr. “ To the Sumner to execute.”

Townley, who copied, and from whose journal I copy these presentments, offers a query to the reader : whether it is not dangerous, in this



« PreviousContinue »