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cestry, or the best born among the people, were not tenants of the rustic estates, sacred to Stercutius *

The lands in the Isle of Man were held by no positive' assurance of the kings or barons, but distributed among the commoners at the pleasure of the chief, and resumed at his discretion. Afterwards, by the benevolence of the king and barons, the tenor approximated to the privileged villanage described by Bracton t, who wrote on English tenures in the 12th century. He says, that there were at the time of the conquest certain free men, who held their respective tenements freely, by free services or by free customs; and being first ejected by the hand of power, they afterwards returned, and took their own tenements again, to be held in villanage ; doing, therefore, services that were base and servile, but certain and expressed by name. These are called ascriptitious to the soil, and yet are freemen, though they perform villan services, since they perform them not in respect of their persons, but in respect of their tenures. And they are therefore called ascriptitious to the soil, because they enjoy this privilege, that they cannot be removed from the land, so long as they can discharge their bounden renders ; nor can they be compelled to hold such their tenements against their will."

At length, after a series of immemorial indulgencies and customs, the Manks not only became ascriptitious to the soil, but acquired

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a permanent estate, descendible from ancestor to heir, in the nature of liberum socagium, súb ject to military services, pecuniary rents, fines, &c. During this state of things, the tenant or feudatory could not alien, or otherwise dispose of his feud, neither could he exchange, nor mortgage, or devise it by will without the consent of the king or lord...!!!

There is reason to believe, that the Marks prince, Goddard Crownan, first gave his subjects a limited tenure, for some services performed by them in the north part of the island, on condition that none of them should ever "presume to claim their lands as an absolute estate of inheritance; but this was unavoidably subject to considerable interruptions, .owing to the unsettled state of the government, particularly at the commencement of the Scotish dynasty in the island, about the year 1266, when Alexander the Third, King of Scotland, conquered the Western Isles, and afterwards the Isle of Man. · The records of the island do not inform us at what period of their history alienation of the land was first permitted, on license from, and payment of a fine to the king or lord : probably soon after Sir William Montačute had conquered the island, and was proclaimed king. His character was eminently distinguish, ed for magnanimity, liberality, and generosity, and possessing these eminent qualities, it is reasonable to presume, that he would be gea nerously disposed to put his subjects on a footing, in some measure, with the English, who, after various struggles, had obtained by Mag

na Carta, and the statute of quia emptores*, a liberty of alienating their estates, to be holden of the same lord, or his successors, as they themselves had holden of originally.aut!

Before this abstruse subject is dismissed, it may not be irrelevant to show, by an ancient note, the opinion of the English judges, who solemnly confirmed, by their judgment, the prior doctrine of Sir Edward Coke, as contained in his fourth institute, with reference to the perfect independence of the Manks law.

6 By the report of Killway, surveyor of the Court of Wards, 11th Henry VIII., it was found by inquisition, that Thomas, Earl of Derby, tempore mortis suæ, was seized of the Isle of Man ; upon which Ann, Countess-dowager of Derby, sued to have dower of the said isle, to which Blundel, Chief Justice, ex assensu, Brook, Fitzherbert, and of all other the council of the King, said the inquiry was void, for that the Isle of Man is no parcel of the realm of England, nor do they use the law of England.


* 18th Edward I.




WHATEVER might be the criterion, or distinguishing mark of the ancient Manks tenures, which included the various methods of holding lands in fealiy, by certain and invariable rents and duties, we have no record of their permanent mode of descent or alienation, until the act of Tynwald, passed by James, Earl of Derby, his council, deemsters, and keys, in the year 1645. It had been previously declared, by an ordinance of Ferdinando, Earl of Derby, made in 1593, " that any person that is entered tenant to an estate upon the court rolls for the space of twenty-one years, and no bill exhibited, or claim made, possession of the grantee is a good bar against the grantor and his issue *.

It is understood in the island, that some time previous to the passing of the act of 1645, the lords officers had prevailed upon many proprietors of land, to surrender their customary estates (which, by ancient custom, had descendded to the eldest son, and for want thereof to the eldest daughter) to the lord, and accept leases for lives in lieu thereof. This measure was accomplished by the members of the lord's council suggesting, that the land-owners had no fixed property in their estates by any positive law, but that they held merely as tenants at will from the lord. Happily, however, for the people, the constitutional guardians of their rights, the Twenty-four Keys, interfered ; and remonstrating with respectful firmness to the Earl of Derby, he graciously listened to their complaints and solicitations; and the Keys procured not only the passing of this act, but ultimately succeeded in obtaining the cele brated act of settlement, or, as it is emphatically, called, the Manks Magna Carta, in the year 1704*

* The deemsters and keys said, in 1745, that as to an heir claiming an estate by the statute of 1593, the twenty-one years are to be reckoned from the time of the dispossession of the grantor, and not from his decease. The statute of limitation of 1593, is confirmed and established by an act of Tynwald, passed in 1647.

By the statute law to the purchaser of a farm, quarter land, or any other real property, may either alien or devise his purchase; and if not disposed of, it remains assets in the hands of the heir at law in default of personal property, for payment of all debts, whether by specialty or simple contract, without any preference. And by the Manks common law, such premises, after one descent from the purchaser, are in the nature of estates of inheritance; and, consequently, the first proprietor of such inhéritance after the purchaser, takes by the law an absolute estate of inheritance, descendible from ancestor to heir, in the manner prescribed by the act of 'Tynwald of 1645, which settles the estate, conformably with the ancient custom, on the eldest son, and for want thereof, on the eldest daughter, and, in default of chil

* Appendix; title, Act of Settlement. - i, amo + Appendix, A. T. 1777 ; tice, baron and Feme.

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