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On the Population, Climate, Buildings, and
Agriculture of the Island.
BEDE relates that in his time (the eighth century) the population of the island did not exceed three hundred families.* He calls the Isles of Man and of Anglesea, Insulæ Menaviæ, distinguishing one by the Northern, the other by the Southern Menavia. Hollinshed, who wrote in the year 1584, says, “ there were formerly thirteen hundred families in this island, but now scarcely half that number. In the year 1667 the island contained 2531 men between the ages of sixteen and sixty years.
Here follows a detailed account of the population at three distinct periods, the years 1726, 1757, and 1792.
* Ecclesiastical History, Book II. Chap. 9.
+ Petrus Bertius Beverus, editor of Ptolemy's Geography, supposes the Menaviæ of Bede to be the Hebudæ or Hebrides: but this can hardly be the case, since Bede speaks of them as only two. B Broovy B. KsQ.B.
1003 1015 713
Kirk Michael ....... 643
810 Marown .......... 580 Santon ......
· At the present time the number of inhabitants is thought to be more than 30,000, a population nearly proportionate to that of England. This continual increase is probably owing to an improving state of agriculture, a greater division of property, and a more extended cultivation of the potatoe
The following is a list of baptisms, marriages, and burials in 1792, 1993, 1794, 1795, and 1796.
Baptisms. Marriages. Burials.
In Braddon parish. the burials exceed the number of baptisms; but in every other parish fall far short of them. The most prominent feature of the statement is the great excess of births over the number of burials. This is accounted for, but not satisfactorily, by the annual emigrations of the poor, who for want of employment at home seek a maintenance abroad. Even the baptisms are very low for maintaining
thirty thousand people, and; without any emigration at all, would require a very long average of life.
The climate of the Isle of Man is rather milder in winter than that of the neighbouring shores; frost and snow being of very short continuance. The heat of summer, on the other hand, is not so great: the harvests are consequently late : the grain does not arrive at its full size; and the straw for fodder is less valuable. Frosts seldom make their appearance before Christmas, and latterly have been so slight as little to impede vegetation. Gales of wind and falls of rain are frequent, and of long duration. In the spring of the year, they render the seeding difficult and less complete, and are very prejudicial to the tender shoots of corn.
The land is chiefly divided into small farms, from one hundred and fifty to two hundred acres each. A spirit of improvement is more general than it used to be; and much common land bas lately been inclosed.
Taking the tithes in kind, a customary method, is a great impediment to agriculture, and much disliked. Were the tithe commuted for a settled
. : D
sum of money, the good effects of such a practice would soon be visible.
Leases are limited by law to twenty-one years, a great check to agricultural improvement. Till the year 1777, the law respecting them was much more prejudicial, the lease always expiring with the life of the lessor. A person who attempts the cultivation of a barren heath does not expect to receive any benefit from the produce of the soil for the first eight or ten years. During this period at least, the profit arises from the better state of the soil, and the trees and hedges which may have been planted: and what tenant would be mad enough to commence the cultivation of land upon a twenty-one years' lease, knowing, as he must do, that the landowner would enjoy all the profits. Hence it is that land is little improved, unless farmed by the owner; and land-holders and farmers being such distinct classes of society, this rarely happens to be the case to any considerable degree. The laws respecting leases, in common with vther arbitrary laws, were made for the good of the governor, not for that of the subject: the former apprehending that long leases 'would diminish or do away, sales; and that the fines, due to