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T may possibly be considered that the above heading is a contradiction in terms, for, as Dr. E. B. Tylor remarks, "the distinction between a law and an authoritative custom may be best drawn with reference to the manner in which Society compels obedience to it. If a judge or tribunal declares the rule, and punishes its infraction, it is a law; if it is left loosely to public opinion to practically accept the rule, and to visit those who disobey with blame, insult, and social exclusion, it is a custom." 1 But many of the following customs originated in popular usage long before there was any law to enforce them; and they could only have continued, without being enforced by law, as long as popular opinion was unanimously in their favour. When a majority only favoured them, there would have been a difficulty in compelling obedience to them without law, and, when popular opinion had pronounced against them, no law would have availed to put them in force. They are now, though some of them still remain unrepealed in the Statute Book, all obsolete.


One of the duties most strongly enforced by law was that of keeping a look-out for the approach of enemies, or of Watch and Ward, as it was called. We find the Deemsters, in 1417, informing Sir John Stanley that it was one of the constitutions "of old time" that every man was liable to perform the duties of "Watch and Ward" upon pain of life and limb, "for whosoever fails any night in his ward forfeiteth a wether to the warden; 2 and to the warden the second night a calve; and the

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third night life and lymb to the Lord." In 1594 the duty of "Watch and Ward" was the subject of the following strict orders:--"Whereas the safe keeping of this Isle consisteth in the dutiful and careful observance of Watch and Ward, without which the Lord can never be well defended, nor the people live in safety; therefore, be it ordained that all Watch and Ward be kept according to the strict order of the law; and that none be sent thither but such as are of discretion, and able to deserve (sic) to be careful; and that the night watch shall come at the sun setting, and not depart before the sun rising; and that the day watch shall come at the sun rising, and not depart before the sun setting." This "Watch and Ward" was kept on various points of vantage round the coast, where the existence of watch stations is still recorded by such names as Cronk-ny-Arrey, "Hill of the Watch," and Cronk-ny-Arrey Laa, "Hill of the Day Watch."


We have already mentioned the Tenure by the presentation and custody of a Saint's Staff under St. Patrick's Day (see p. 108); the following customary payments are also noteworthy: An ox was formerly exacted from the tenants of the Bishop's Barony on the installation of each Bishop, as will be seen by the following extract from the ecclesiastical records:

"1646. At this court it was most graciouslie offered by the right Honoble the Lord of the Island that for as much by antient custome the tenants of the Bps Lands were accustomed to pay at the change of euery Bop an oxe or fortie shillings in money out of every quarter land that now such ye tenants shall have twentie yeares term from ye death of ye last Lord Bop for their payings of ye said dutie of one oxe or xls out of every quarter land unto his Lop. Provided that if there shall happen to bee any Bop enstalled in this Island wth in the said tearme such their paymts shall be & stand during ye life of that Bop & his Lorp & his heyres shall free them of the said duties from that Bop. Which motion was consented unto by such of the said tenants whose names are under written that they will pay xls out of every quarter." This exaction was not confined to the Barony, as there are other estates which formerly made the same payment.

A portion of the estate of Kirby, in the parish of Braddan, was formerly held on the tenure of lodging the Bishop whenever he left the Island or came to it. This was commuted about two hundred years ago for the very moderate sum of ten shillings. All rents and tithes were formerly paid in kind, the apportionment of which often occasioned considerable difficulty. An amusing case with reference to this appears in the records two

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hundred years ago:--A portion of a farm had been washed away by the Sulby river, and, consequently, the rent was reduced by one-fourth, which, as the report of the proceedings informs us, resulted in "great inconvenience in making allowance of the fourth part of a goose or hen." Labour rents, called Boons, are still legal, but are not enforced. It may be mentioned that there are traces of the Open Field system in Man, but the elucidation of this would be out of place in a book devoted to Folk-Lore.


There was a rural tribunal called the "Jury for Servants," which possessed the power of compelling the service in agriculture of persons whom they considered as unemployed. In 1577, the Deemsters gave as the customary law "that, if any of the Lord his tennants be destitute of servants, and come and make his complaint to the Deemster that he can get none to occupy my Lord his land withall, then the Deemster is to send to the Coroner and to the Lockman of every parish, and then to swear four honest men in every parish to enquire first of vagrant servants." These juries were to "be impannelled all times in the yeare as often as there will be just cause for the same; and that the vagrant servants by the said jurors found be first made liable and put to service, otherwise to suffer punishment till they submitt."


By customary law, servants wishing to leave their masters at the expiration of their agreement were required to give notice of their intention on a certain day; "but lest the master might happen to be from home, or might absent himself in a deceitful manner, to take advantage of the servant; in either case the servant may repair with a competent witness to the place where the master usually sits, at the hearth or at meat, and there make a nick with his knife in such master's chair; or, if the door should be shut against him, he may make a nick in the threshold, which shall be authentic in law against such master." A similar law was put on record in the Statute Book, in 1665; but without the obligation of making the "nick."


A curious privilege, called Yarding, was conferred by an ancient customary law on the Deemsters, Moars, Coroners, and Serjeants of Baronies, which enabled them to compel people to enter into their service at a trifling fee, fixed by law. The ceremony was performed by an officer

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called the Sumner, who laid a straw over the shoulder of the person so required, and said, "You are hereby Yarded for the service of the Lord of Man, in the house of his Deemster, Moar, Coroner, or Serjeant of Barony;" at the same time repeating the name of the person requiring such servant. Persons refusing to comply with this requisition were committed to prison, and there kept on a daily allowance of one barley cake and a pint of water, "till they yielded obedience to perform their service." Such Yarded servants were "proclaimed and made known at the parish church or cross . . . the Sunday next after the day of Yarding aforesaid, whereby the farmers may the timelier know to provide themselves with other servants." All vicars and members of the House of Keys were allowed their "bridge and staff," which implied that their servants should not be taken from them by Yarding. It was a customary ordinance that the porridge or sollaghyn of Yarded servants should be so thick that the pot-stick would stand upright in the centre of the pot immediately before dishing the porridge; and the cakes given to them were required to be as thick as the length of a barley-corn.

The law instituting Yarding has long since been repealed.


It is well known that the Celts formerly reckoned not only the night with which the week or any period began, but also the night with which it ended. A curious instance of this method of reckoning occurs in the Deemster's oath, in which the six days of creation have been made into six days and seven nights. It runs thus: "By this book, and by the holy contents thereof, and by the wonderful works that God hath miraculously wrought in heaven above and in the earth beneath in six days and seven nights, I, A.B., do swear that I will, without respect of favour or friend-ship, love or gain, consanguinity or affinity, envy or malice, execute the laws of this Isle justly, betwixt our Sovereign Lord the King, (or Lady the Queen), and his or her subjects within this Isle, and betwixt party and party, as indifferently as the herring backbone doth lie in the midst of the fish." Of late years it has been the practice to make the 'six days and seven nights' into 'six days and six nights.'


By the statute of 1665 we learn that the Manx Legislators encouraged legal purgation in general, especially that form of it which is thus described in the tenth ecclesiastical customary law:--"He that enters his claim within the year and a day after the probate of the Will . . . without bill, bond or

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evidence, shall prove the same upon the grave of him or her from whom the debt was due, with lawful compurgators according to the ancient form; that is to say, lying on his back with the Bible on his breast, and his compurgators on either side." This compurgation seems to have been only prescribed in default of documentary evidence. In 1609 it had been denounced by the temporal authorities as "not fitting nor Christian-like," but the then bishop, Phillips, vigorously protested against this view in a letter written in that year to the Earl of Salisbury, who was then one of the guardians of the Island, in which he says--"one of our best lawes (the nature of that people considered), vizt., the oath for swearing on the grave, in case where there is not specialty he (The Governor) hath abrogated, and prescribes us some others not so convenient not with so good a conscience to be used of us, seeing they want their due allowance and forme, vizt. generall consent upon good advice and the Lord's approbation." To this the Governor and Legislature replied that "the swearing of and upon the grave of the dead was unfitting and caused much wrong to be done to poor orphanes and simplest of ffriends." Nevertheless the Bishop's view was to prevail for sometime longer, for we find the following case in 1616:--"Md that Mr Christopher Younge chaplaine of the Castell of Rushen left in his last will that Mr Thomas Samsburie Demster did owe unto him The sum of sevene pounds and Mrs Jaine Samsbuerie weiff to the said Tho Samsbuerie twelve shillings neine pence. The said Thomas and Jaine came to the Grave of the forsaid Christopher and die lie upon theire backes wth ye bibel on their brest wth theire compurgatours and did sweare that they ought (sic) him nothinge when they did recken wth the Executore and immediately the same daye being the second of July Ano 1616 they did recover of the Executore vijs ijd after the accounte was made by me Edw Caloe Vicr (of Malew);" and, as we have seen above, purgation was included in the ecclesiastical laws in 1665. Moreover, as we shall see below; Bishop Wilson,, in the eighteenth century, approved of it and quoted Exodus xxii., 11., and Leviticus v., 1., in its favor.


The Stocks were in vogue in the Isle of Man, as elsewhere, and we find that in 1610 it was "by generall consent as afforesaid proclaimed, that as oft as any man or woman shall be found drunk hereafter, the Party soe offending, if not of ability to pay a fine, shall be for the first time punished in the Stocks, the second time to be tyed to the Whipping Stocks, and the third time to be whipped therein." By another law passed in

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[paragraph continues] 1655 it was enacted that, "If any servant hire more than twice, he shall be whipped at the parish church on Sunday, or at the market in the Whipping Stocks." This punishment, though long since obsolete, was not legally abolished till 1876.


The Pillory was also an Insular institution. So late as 1757 it was ordained by the Marriage Act that any stranger convicted of having solemnized marriage without licence or previous banns was to "be publickly exposed with his ears nailed to a Pillory to be erected for that Purpose at Castletown Cross upon the next Court Day of General Gaol Delivery after such conviction at twelve o'clock at noon, and there to remain for the space of one hour, when his ears are to be cut off and remain on the said Pillory," &c. This was repealed in 1849. By the 72nd ecclesiastical law "whosoever shall swear an oath (by taking the name of God in vain) shall for the first time pay 12 pence, and sit one hour in the Stocks; for the second time two shillings, and so double to be for every such offence, to be levyed by the churchwardens and afterwards disposed of by the ordinary to pious uses."


Another curious punishment was being whipped on the Wooden Horse. Thus we find among the laws passed in 1629: "Whosoever shall be found or detected to pull Horse Tayles shall be punished upon the Wooden Horse, thereon to continue for the space of two hours and to be whipped naked from the waist upwards."


Bishop Wilson tells us in his History of the Isle of Man that "there are a great many laws and customs which are peculiar to this place and singular" in his time (1697-1755), and he proceeds to enumerate them as follows:--

"The eldest daughter (if there be no son) inherits, though there be more children."

"The wives, through the whole Island, have a power to make their wills (though their husbands be living) of one-half of all the goods movable or immovable; except in the six northern parishes, where the wife, if she has had children, can only dispose of a third part of the living goods; and this favour, tradition saith, the south-side women obtained above those of the north for their assisting their husbands in a day of battle." (This is said to be the battle of Stantwat, in 1098, between the north and south Manx.)

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"A widow has one half of her husband's real estate, if she be iris first wife, and one-quarter if she be the second or third; but if any widow marries, or miscarries, she loses her widow-right in her husband's estate."

"When any of the tenants fell into poverty, and were not able to pay their rents and services, the sitting quest, consisting of four old moars or baliffs in every parish, were obliged to find such a tenant for the estates as would secure the lord's rent, &c., who, after his name was entered in the court-rolls, had an unquestionable title to the same."

"A child got before marriage shall inherit, provided the marriage follows within a year or two, and the woman was never defamed before with regard to any other man."

"Executors of spiritual men have a right to the year's profits if they live till after twelve of the clock on Easter Day."

"They still retain a usage (observed by the Saxons before the Conquest) that the Bishop, or some priest appointed by him, do always sit in the great court along with the Governor, till sentence of death (if any) be pronounced: the Deemster asking the jury (instead of 'Guilty or not guilty?') Vod fir-charree soie? which, literally translated, is 'flay the man of the chancel, or he that ministers at the altar, continue to sit?' If the foreman answers in the negative, the Bishop, or his substitute, withdraws, and the sentence is then pronounced on the criminal."

"When any laws which concern the Church are to be enacted, the Bishop and the whole clergy shall be made privy thereunto, and join with the temporal officers, and have their consents with them till the same shall be established."

"If a single woman prosecutes a single man for a rape, the ecclesiastical judges impannel a jury; and if this jury find him guilty, he is so returned to the temporal court, where, if he be found guilty, the Deemster delivers to the woman a rope, a sword, and a ring, and she has it in her choice to have him hanged or beheaded, or to marry him."

"If a man get a farmer's daughter with child, he shall be compelled to marry her, or endow her with such a portion as her father would have given her. No man could dispose of his estate unless he fell into poverty; and, at this day, a man must have the approbation of the Governor and Officers before he can alienate."

"The manner of calling any person before a magistrate, spiritual or temporal, is pretty singular: The magistrate, upon .a piece of thin slate or stone, makes a mark, generally the first letters of his christian or surname. This is given to the proper officer, the summoner, if it be before an ecclesiastical magistrate; or the lockman, if before a temporal, with twopence, who shows it to the person to be charged, with the time when he is to

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appear, and at whose suit; which, if he refuses to obey, he is fined or committed to prison, until he give bonds to appear and pay costs."

Bishop Gibson (1695) 1 says that "This stone, so marked is called a Token, which, being given to the plaintiff, he delivereth it to the Coroner of the place where the defendant resides, and the defendant, having received it, is bound to appear and answer. It has been an ancient custom in that Island, that if the plaintiff find his adversary present in the Court while the Court is sitting, he may take him by the arm, and bring him before the Governor, and set his foot upon his adversary's foot, and there plead his cause against him without the formality of summoning him with a token."

The following laws, taken from the Statute Book, may also be mentioned: All goats belonged to the Queen of Man. In case of people removing from one parish to another, "if the cock crow trice, they remaining there three nights and three days after removing, that then the person departed shall pay all spirituall dutyes to that same Church within the same parish he doth remove to." One of the duties of the Sumner was to stand at the chancel door of his Parish Church "at time of service, to whip and beat all the doggs."

"All Scotts avoid the land with the next vessell that goeth into Scotland, upon paine of forfeiture of his goods, and his body to prison."

"That whensoever any theef shall be found to steal either mutton, sheep, lambe, goate, kidd, swine, or pigg, the same shall be found to be Fellony in like manner to death, without valuing the same."

"That the stealing and cutting of bee-hives in gardens shall be Fellony in like manner to death, without valuing the same."

The Manx Ecclesiastical Law is also responsible for many curious enactments, by which the Church enforced its discipline. Bishop Wilson writes of this ecclesiastical discipline as follows: "There is nothing more commendable than the discipline of this church. . . . Offenders of all conditions, without distinction, are obliged to submit to the censures appointed by the church, whether for correction or example (commutation of penances being abolished by a late law), and they generally do it patiently. Such as do not submit (which have hitherto been but few) are either imprisoned or excommunicated; under which sentence if they continue more than forty days, they are delivered over to the Lord of the Isle, both body and goods. . . The manner of doing penance is primitive and edifying. The penitent, clothed in a sheet, &c.,

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is brought into the church immediately before the Litany; and there continues till the sermon be ended; after which, and a proper exhortation, the congregation are desired to pray for him in a form provided for that purpose; and thus he is dealt with, till by his behaviour he has given some satisfaction that all this is not feigned, which being certified to the bishop, he orders him to be received by a very solemn form for receiving penitents into the peace of the church. But if offenders, after having once done public penance, relapse into the same or other scandalous vice, they are not presently permitted to do penance again, though they should desire it ever so earnestly, till they shall have given better proofs of their resolution to amend their lives; during which time they are not permitted to go into any church in time of divine service, but stand at the church door, until their pastor and other grave persons are convinced by their conversation that there are hopes of a lasting reformation, and certify the same to the bishop. There is here one very wholesome branch of church discipline . . . namely, the injoining offenders' purgation by their own oaths, and the oaths of compurgators (if need be) of known reputation, where the fame is common, the crime is scandalous, and yet not proof enough to convict them; and this is far from being complained of as a grievance: for if common fame has injured any person, he has an opportunity of being restored to his good name (unless upon trial the Court find just cause to refuse it), and a severe penalty is laid upon any that, after this, revive the scandal. On the other hand, if a man will not swear to his own innocency, or cannot prevail with others to believe him, it is fit he should be treated as guilty, and the scandal removed by a proper censure." 1


The following was the form of Excommunication:--"For as much as your crimes have been so great repeated and continued in so long as to give offence to all sober Christians, and even to cry to Heaven for vengeance. And you having had sufficient time given you to consider of the consequence of continuing in them without any visible or sincere remorse or probability of a future reformation. Therefore, in the name of our Lord Christ and before this Congregation, we pronounce and declare you, A.B., Excommunicate and shut out of the Communion of all faithful Christians. And may Almighty God who by His Holy Spirit has appointed this sentence for removing of scandal and offence out of the Church and for reducing of sinners to a sense of their sins and danger make this censure to all the good ends

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for which it was ordained. And that your Heart may be filled with fear and dread that you may be recovered out of the same and power of the Devil and your Soul may be saved, and that others may be warned by your sad example not to sin nor continue in sin so presumptuously."

By the 3rd accustomed law of the Church "excommunicated persons persisting irregularly are to be imprisoned and delivered over, body and goods, to the Lord's mercy."

By the 10th ecclesiastical law any one "that strikes a minister shall be excommunicated (ipso facto) and to do penance and after satisfaction given to the Law to receive absolution, and to be received at the church stile into the church by the minister's reading before him the 51st Psalm and before the congregation to repeat his schedule after the minister."


The penalty of Penance was inflicted for a variety of offences. It consisted in standing in a sheet at the Parish Church, or several Parish Churches, on Sunday during service, or at the Market Cross on Saturdays during market time. The number of days' penance was regulated by the seriousness of the offence. According to an entry in the Episcopal Records, dated 1623, a malicious slanderer was "to remain a Lyer of Record, and do open penance . . . . putting his finger on his mouth, and confessing a Lye in saying 'Tongue, thou Lyed,' and so publickly to ask the party offended forgiveness." By the 23rd accustomed law "Whosoever commits Fornication shall make three Sundays' pennance, and if they marry that they go from the Sheet to the Ring;" and by the 34th "All offenders censured to Pennance are to perform their censures and satisfy the Law before they be admitted to the Holy Communion, and to pay 3d to the minister for every day's Penance for writing certificates, and to the Sumner 2d, and if the offender bring not a sheet he is to pay the Sumner 4d for furnishing him, and no appeal be from the Church, and none offending be privileged from censures." The 5th ecclesiastical constitution, passed under the superintendence of Bishop Wilson in 1703, makes the punishment of Penance and Excommunication still more severe. It runs as follows: "For the more effectual discouragement of Vice, if any Person shall incurr the censures of the Church, and, having done Penance, shall afterwards incurr the same Censures, he shall not be permitted to do Penance again (as has been formerly accustomed) untill the Church be fully satisfied of his sincere repentance; during which time he shall not presume to come within the Church, but be obliged to stand in a decent manner

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at the Church Door every Sunday and Holy Day the whole time of morning and evening service, untill by his penitent behaviour, and other instances of sober living, he deserves and procures a certificate from the Minister, Churchwardens, and some of the soberest Men of the Parish, to the satisfaction of the Ordinary, which if he does not so deserve and procure within three months, the Church shall proceed to Excommunication; and that during these proceedings the Governor shall be applied to not to permit him to leave the Island; and this being a matter of very great importance, the Ministers and Church-wardens shall see it duly performed, under penalty of the severest Ecclesiasticall Censures; and whenever any daring offender shall be and continue so obstinate as to incurr Excommunication, the Pastor shall affectionately exhort his Parishioners not to converse with him upon peril of being a partaker with him in his Sin and Punishment." In 1737 the following civil law was passed with reference to excommunicated persons: "Be it further ordained and enacted . . . . that the custome and practice of delivering over persons excommunicated in the Spirituall Court, body and goods to the Lord of the Isle, shall entirely cease, and that such persons excommunicated continuing obstinate for the space of three months under censure, shall, upon application by the Governor to the said Court, be confined three months in one of the Castles, instead of the rigorous Punishment and forfeiture aforesaid: But this shall not be construed or understood to take off his censure, any Law, Custome, or Usage to the contrary notwithstanding."

The following is a story about a Penance which the Nuns of St. Bridget's Nunnery, near Douglas, were said to have been compelled to perform:--


Over a place called The How of Douglas there is a rock, vastly high and steep, about the middle of which is a hollow not very different from the fashion of an elbow chair, and near the top another very much like the former. Whether these are made by art or nature I cannot pretend to determine, nor did I ever hear; but, on the slightest accusation, the poor nun was brought to the foot of this rock, when the sea was out, and obliged to climb to the first chair, where she sat till the tide had twice ebbed and flowed. Those who had given greater cause for suspicion, went up to the second chair, and sat the same space of time. Those who endured this trial, and descended unhurt, were cleared of the aspersion thrown upon them; but the number of fortunate could not be great, for besides the

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danger of climbing the ragged and steep rock (which now very few men can do above 30 or 40 paces), the extreme cold when you come to any height, the horror of being exposed alone to all the fury of the elements, and the horrid prospect of the sea, roaring through a thousand cavities and foaming round you on every side, is enough to stagger the firmest resolution and courage, and without all question has been the destruction of many of those unhappy wretches.--Waldron.

Penance was done in Ballaugh Church 55 years ago, in Parson Stowell's time, according to information given by a man now living, who was one of the chapter-quest at the time. During the time he was in office two men and two women were brought to church for this purpose. They stood in the "alley" of the church, and the Sumner threw white sheets over them. This was for the first three Sundays; but on the fourth they stood inside the chancel railing, and were addressed by the parson, who "made them feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves." A similar penance was seen about the year 1825, also by a man now living, in the parish church of Lezayre.


Among the accustomed unwritten laws of the Manx Church was the following:--"That he or she that call a man a Dog or a woman a Bitch shall wear the Bridle at the Market Cross or make 7 Sundays penance in several Parish Churches." This ordinance was freely put in force by Bishop Wilson, who wrote in June, 1714, "I ordered a bridle to be made, as a terror to people of evil tongues; and it is now brought about the circuit by the General Sumner, and lodged in his hands for the time to come."

Waldron remarks upon this:--"If any person be convicted of uttering a scandalous report, and cannot make good the assertion, instead of being fined or imprisoned, they are sentenced to stand in the Market-place on a sort of scaffold erected for that purpose, with their tongue in a noose of leather, which they call a bridle, and having been thus exposed to the view of the people for some time, on the taking off this machine they are obliged to say three times, Tongue thou hast lied." A somewhat similar instrument was used in various parts of England; it was called "the bridle" or "the branks." In Scotland, too, it was used for the correction of scolds and gossips. It was made of thin iron, passing over and round the head, and fastened behind by a padlock. The bit was a flat piece of iron, about two inches long and one broad, which went into the mouth and kept the tongue down by its pressure. A specimen of the "Bishop's brank" is sketched and noticed in the Abbotsford Edition of The Monastery.

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The 26th ecclesiastical law was to the effect "that common w--h--r--s be drawn after a boat in the sea during the Ordinaries appointment." This barbarous punishment was put in force by Bishop Wilson in at least one case. The most notorious of which, that of Kathrine Kinred, is copied from the Episcopal Registry, dated March 15th, 1713, in extenso, as follows:--"Forasmuch as neither Christian advice or gentle methods of punishments are found to have any effect on Kath: Kinred, of kk Christ, a notorious str--m--p--t, who has brought forth illegitimate children, and still continues to strowl about the country, and to lead a most vicious and scandalous life on other accounts. All such tending to the great dishonour of the Christian name, and to her own utter destruction, without a timely and thorow reformation. It is, therefore, hereby order’d (as well for the further punishment of the said delinquent, as for the example of others) that the said Kath. Kinred he dragged after a boat in the sea, at Peeltown, on Wednesday, the 17th instant (being the fair of Saint Patrick), at the height of the market. To which end a boat and boat crew are to be charged by the General Sumner. And the constable and souldiers of ye garrison are, by the Governor's order, to be aiding and assisting in seeing this censure performed. And in case any owner, master, or crew of any boat are found refractory, by neglecting or refusing to perform this service for the restraining of vice, their names are to be forthwith given in by the Sumner-General, to the end that they may be severely fin’d for their contempt, as the Governor's order directs. Dated at Bishop's Court, this 17th day of March, 1713." Signed, "Tho, Sodor and Man, Wm. Walker."

The above is endorsed as follows:--"St. Patrick's Day being soe stormy and tempestuous that noe boate could performe the within censure; upon St. German's Day (July 13th), about the height of the market, the within Kath. Kinred was dragged after a boat in the sea, according to the written order, which is humbly certified by me." Signed, "Thomas Corlett, Generall-Sumner."

Bishop Wilson has been the object of much obloquy for the severity of his ecclesiastical discipline, and the above has been frequently quoted to prove this reproach; but it must be remembered that this was an exceptional case, and also that Bishop Wilson only administered a law which he found in existence; and a reference to the records will show how often he intervened to mitigate these punishments, which were, on the whole, more severe before his episcopacy than during it.

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There was an ancient custom, long retained in the Island, of bowing to the altar. The Manx people of two centuries ago, seem to have been what would now be called "ritualists" in some of their acts of worship. Indeed, there seems to have been but little change at the time of the Reformation, and whatever changes took place afterwards were gradual till the arrival of Wesley. With reference to this custom, Bishop Wilson gives the following, among other instructions which he received from Archdeacon Hewestone: That he should be careful "to make obeisance at coming into and going out of the church, and at going up to and coming down from the altar. All ancient, commendable, and devout usages, and which thousands of good people of our Church practice at this day."


The observation of Sunday was strictly enforced by civil as well as ecclesiastical law. By the Statute of 1610, no one was "admitted to fish from Saturday morning till Sunday at night, after sun-set, upon pain of forfeiture of his boat and netts." In 1690, this period, by the influence of Bishop Levinz, was extended till Monday morning. As a consequence of this legislation and their custom of not going to sea on Friday, the fishermen were formerly idle for three days out of seven. It would appear, both from the above Statute, and from a number of fines and other punishments recorded between 'boo and 1750, that "Sunday" was the period from sunset on Saturday to sunset on Sunday. For we find that, if those who were presented were able to prove that, they had done after sunset on Sunday what would have been breaking the Sabbath before it, they were not punished. Similar offences on Saturday night after sunset were severely punished till 1690, when, by order in Convocation, Bishop Levinz extended Saturday till midnight. For he ordained that "noe milner do suffer his milne to grind from 12 of the clock on Saturday at night till night-fall on Sunday," under penalty of "14 dayes imprisonmt in St. German's prison and penance in every church of the Island for the first offence, and for every relaps double punishment and £4 fine to the Lo: use without mittigacon." He did not, however, as we have already seen, permit the fishermen to set sail till Monday morning. There is no legislation on record against other occupations on Saturday evening, but it was the almost universal practice to avoid any work then, as it was supposed to be displeasing to the Fairies, though doubtless this idleness had originally the sanction of customary law.

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Among "the constitucons of the ould tyme," to be observed by the Lord of the Isle at the Tinwald was, according to the Sloane M.S., of the Acts of Sir John Stanley, in the British Museum, that "the 3 Reliques of Man" should be borne before him by three "Clarkes . . . in their surplesses." We nowhere learn what these "Reliques'' were, but possibly two of them might be the "hand" and the "bishop's head," which were among the silver plate belonging to Rushen Abbey, sold by the Earl of Derby to the Crown after the dissolution of that Monastery. This "hand" and "head" seem to have been silver reliquaries which perhaps enclosed reputed relics of some early Bishop of the See.


There is nothing peculiar about the outdoor games of either young or grown-up Manxmen or Manxwomen, and they are, therefore, of little interest from the Folk-Lorist's point of view. Waldron remarks: "In their sports they retain something of Arcadian simplicity. Dancing, if I may call it so, jumping and turning round at least, to the fiddle and base-viol, is their great diversion. In summer they have it in the fields, and in winter in the barns." Of the indoor games, at Hollantide, Christmas, and Twelfth Night, we have already treated in Chapter VI.

Horse racing and shooting with the bow and arrow seem to have been the chief amusements of the Manx. Prizes for these were given by the 7th and later Earls of Derby, the first race under their patronage, of which we have any record, having been in 1627. The racecourse was on the peninsula of Langness, and the races took place on the 28th of July, being the birthday of the 7th Earl. During the time of the Commonwealth they fell into disuse, but they were continued after the Restoration, as will be seen by the following order given by the 8th Earl .--"It is my good will and pleasure yt ye two prizes formerly granted (by me) for hors running and shouting shall continue as they did, to be run, or shot for, and so continue dureing my good will and pleasure.--Given under my hand att Lathom ye 12 of July, 1669." The following were the chief conditions under which the race was run for a plate of the value of five pounds:--"No horse, or gelding, or mair shall be admitted to run for the said plate, but such as was foaled within the said Island, or in the Calfe of Mann. That every horse, gelding, or mair that is designed to run shall be entered before the 8th day of July, with his master's name and his ovine, if he be generally knowne by any, or else his colour, and whether horse, mair, or gelding. . . . That every person that puts in either horse,

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mair, or gelding, shall at the time of their entering depositt the sume of five shill. a piece into the hands of the cleark of the rolls, which is to goe towards the augmenting of the plate for the year following, besides one shill. a piece to be given by them to the. said cleark of the rolls for entering their names.

That every horse, mair, or gelding shall carry horseman's weight, that is to say, ten stone-weight, at fourteen pounds to each stone, besides saddle and bridle."

As to the shooting, for which prizes were also given, Waldron tells us that "the young men were great shooters with bowe and arrows. They had shooting matches frequently, parish against parish, and wagers were laid which side would have the better." There are records of these matches having taken place at the end of the last century.

The only indigenous outdoor game, properly so-called, is cam mag, a sort of hockey.

There is a strange superstition among the Manx fishermen about being in the third boat to go out of harbour, which is considered most unlucky. After the first two boats have gone out, a number will follow as nearly as possible in line, so that no one in particular can be said to be the third. No reason is assigned for this curious notion.



165:1 Anthropological Notes and Queries--British Association.

165:2 There were two of these officials in every parish, one for the day and the other for the night watch.

172:1 In Camden's Britannia.

173:1 History of the Isle of Man. Manx Society, Vol. XVIII., pp. 113-14.

Next: Chapter X. Proverbs and Sayings