Page images

This mode of indictment does not extend to petty larceny. In the latter case, the method of proceeding is somewhat different; the suspected party being examined upon oath, and if unable to clear himself, immediately found guilty; a practice, that, in every moral and religious point' of view, cannot be too much condemned. If the jury convict the offender of petty larceny, the cause goes not before another jury, as in case of felony, but is by this verdict finally decided. · When any one has been indicted for felony and committed to prison, there must be summoned, at least three days before the sitting of ! the court, a jury, consisting of twelve good and lawful men, to try the delinquent: and it is usual for the same jury to try all the cases that occur at one tine. The court is held at Castletown, as occasion may require, by order of the Governor, himself and the two Deemsters presiding therein.

One credible witness proving the felony, and supported by probable circumstances, though it i was not formerly, is now beld sufficient to convict the prisoner.

In case of doubt arising to the jury, respecting any evidences or eircumstances before them, they

Date may ask the opinion of the Deemsters, but must I finally decide according to their own.

: A custom, observed by the Saxons before the ah, N Conquest, prevails here: the Bishop or his deputy

forum sits in the court till the verdict is determined; d relies the Deemster asking the jury, instead of " guilty ander or not guilty,” « Vod fir-charree soie, » « May setts in the man of the chancel continue to sit ?"...: ury, a Women, convicted of any capital crime, were ally de formerly put into a sack and drowned :* but, in dicted either sex, the punishment now is to be hanged. te of Besides the courts of law is the Great Inquest, Eoret a jury or juries of very ancient date, abolished in -twe 1777, but re-established in 1793. It consists of at: u six juries, one for each sheading, of twelve men e cause each ; the two parishes of the Garff sheading at Cisl sending six men each ; every other parish, four.

They are named by the Coroner, and continue in prein office for one year. They are obliged, by their

thes oaths, to present in the proper courts all known Francese offenders, public or private, whether of the Lord's sufici

officers; tenants, or other inhabitants. The aót; which re-establishes the Great Inquest, appoints kome regulations for their proceedings, and takes


* Chaloner, p. 20 and 21.

away whatever power they formerly possessed, of had assumed, respecting the trying or deter." mining the right or title of boundaries not adjoining the commons, or wastes, and of ways, waters, water-courses, and boundaries between party and party; and directs that all trials respecting the boundaries of wastes or commons, should be before a Deemster, and that the evidence should be taken down in writing. An appeal from the decision of the Great Inquest may be made to the House of Keys..

The courts. were not formerly courts of record. The laws were locked up in the breasts of the Governor and Deemsters, conveyed by oral tradition from one generation to another, and known to the people only by the sentence which they decreed. This practice was followed by the more eligible plan of keeping precedents, 25 guides for future determinations. Even then, they were kept by three locks, their respective keys in the possession of the three chief officers of state, from the scrutinizing eye of the vulgar; nor were they, till the fifteenth century, generally known to the body of the people.

The inhabitants appear content with their laws; and the decisions of the Governor and

Deemsters are considered extremely equitable. Strangers, indeed, imagine that in trials between themselves and the natives, the latter sometimes have the preference. Of their laws and constitution they talk little: there are no parties among the generality of the people; and differences of opinion respect English, and not Manks politics. In the House of Keys, however, dissensions sometimes arise. Their debates and decisions are not always so favourable as the other branches of the legislature might wish;

and they possess a large majority of what is Com termed the Manks party, or those more inclined mely to the preservation or enlargement of the rights -red and liberties of the people than to the encroachtheglo ments of any part of the government. Major Doen Taubman takes the lead of this party; and holds I love the office of Speaker of the House.


On the Privileges enjoyed by Debtors.

A FEW anecdotes arising out of the real, or supposed privileges of the island, will form the subject of the present chapter. .

Although persons having debts abroad or aetions determined against them are privileged, excepting so far as respects their moveable property, yet no asylum is here afforded for any one guilty of criminal conduct. · About sixty years since, a lady of the name of Hingstone was imprisoned in this island for a debt of her husband's, the particulars of which transaction I am unable to give the reader. It gave rise to a pamphlet, published in 1751, entitled “ Liberty Invaded,” and to another by J. Baldwin, Esq. entitled “ British Liberty in Chains, and England's Ruin on the Anvil in the Isle of Man, now commonly called, Little France, addressed to all Free Britons, zealous for the glory of their King, the Liberties of the People, and

« PreviousContinue »