Page images
PDF
EPUB

78

OP THE OFFICE OF WATER-BAILIFF, OR JUDGE

OF THE COURT OF ADMIRALTY..

By the constitution of the island, the office of admiral, or water-bailiff, was always held of high importance, and, from time immemorial, he was one of the king's or governor's council.

As sole judge of the admiralty court, which is usually held every Saturday, he holds cognizance of all pleas of the crown, respecting maritime concerns and offences committed on the seas, within the distance of three leagues from the shore of the island. And, according to the ancient statutes, has a superintendance over all matters relative to the herring-fishery.

In all civil suits an appeal lies from his determination to the governor.

Respecting the practice of the water-bailiff's court : when any person intends to commence a suit therein, he must apply either verbally, or by petition, which must state the cause of complaint. A summons is thereupon granted, compelling the defendant to appear at the next court, when the witnesses are examined viva voce, and the cause is heard and determined, either with or without the intervention of a jury, at the discretion of the judge. Should the cause require a jury, the water-bailiff issues a warrant to the coroner, requiring him to summon four persons out of his sheading, who must attend at the time appointed, to hear the evi

dence, and give their unanimous verdict, on which a decree is pronounced by the judge.

But in all cases of a criminal nature, a jury of six men must be summoned by the coroner, whose verdict must be unanimous.

[ocr errors][merged small]

OF THE CORONERS, THEIR OFFICE AND

DUTY,

The coroners, or annos *, are officers of the greatest antiquity, with powers analagous in many respects to the English sheriffs. Over each of the six sheadings, or great divisions of the island, the governor appoints one coroner, who is not only a ministerial officer, but a conservator of the peace throughout his district, with power to raise the country for its civil defence, and the suppression of riots ; and by virtue of several old ordinances and statutes, he is to continue in office no longer than one year.

At the Midsummer Tynwald court, he must resign his wand, the insignia of his office, to the governor; and he is immediately succeeded by the person appointed by the governor in his stead ; he having first taken the solemn oath of office before the governor, on his knees, and received from him the decorated wand, which constitutes his only warrant and authority.

The Manks coroner has also the power of taking inquests, like the coroners in England, to find out the cause of sudden or violent deaths, super visum corporis.

In his ministerial capacity, the coroner is bound to summon juries, to execute process

* The Manks designation of a coroner, is “ Toshiach Jeoro," or “ chief man of the law ;” similar to the “ Tosio derach” of the M'Alpine laws of Scotland,

issuing from the governor, the judges, or courts of justice; and he has authority to sell, after the legal forms are gone through, such effects as he has arrested, or distrained in the first instance.

In criminal matters, or for breach of the peace, he may arrest by virtue of his office, and without a warrant; and the party breaking the peace, or who strikes or obstructs the coroner in the execution of his office, besides incurring imprisonment, forfeits three pounds to the lord *. Like the English sheriff, he must execute the sentence of the judge, though it should extend to death.

If a coroner should happen to die within the year of his office, his rod must be taken from his house by a constable, and carried to the governor, who will immediately appoint another to be sworn, and to act for the remainder of the

year. The coroner of Glanfaba takes precedence of all the other coroners, and it is his duty to serve all process against his brother coroners ; and in case any complaint should be alleged against him, the summons to answer it is, by a special order, directed to some of the other coroners, or to the lockman of the parish in which he resides.

It is also the coroner's duty to assist in the salvage and sale of wreckst, belonging to the crown or the lord. In order that the coroner

[ocr errors]

* Liber Cancel. 1584.

+ By ancient custom, the salvers of any goods taken up at sea, and brought on shore, and delivered to the proper officer, get one half of the value thereof.

may be enabled to execute these various duties, he has under him a deputy in each parish, called a Lockman.

There is also in each parish in the island, an ancient officer called a Moar, who collects the rents and fines due to the lord, and also the escheats, deodands, waifs, and estrays, for the lord's use. The moar also executes the precepts of the baron court.

By the statute of 1442, fourpence shall be paid yearly out of every quarter-land to the coroner, and twopence for cottages and intacks of above three shillings and fourpence rent.

The coroner is also entitled to the horses, mares, oxen, and kine, of two years old and under, the property of felons, and to their sheep of one year old and under, as well as to their broken stack of oats: and also to the corbs

appertaining to a heir convicted of felony; and he is also entitled to the broken stack of corn, and beasts of three years old and under, the property of a felo de se.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »