Baronial Lands

A minority of tenants did not hold their lands directly from the Lord, but instead from Barons who themselves were inferior to the Lord. The tenancies of these Baronial lands are typically not recorded in the Libri Assedationis and Libri Vastarum but in separate but similar documents. This section is an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of the Baronies and their associated records.


In 1422 Barons were required to show their claim to their lands and also to do fealty to the new Lord and King of Man. Those who were out of the island were however given forty days grace to do so before forfeiting their estates. The record of the 1422 "Court of all Tennants and Commons of Man, holden at Kirk Michael" states that the Bishop of Man demonstrated his claim and did fealty, as also did the Abbot of Rushen and Prioress of Douglas. The Prior of Withorne, in Galloway, the Abbot of Furnace, the Abbot of Bangor, the Abbot of Saball and the Prior of St Beade in Copeland are remarked as being absent however (presumably due to being off island). No other people are mentioned. It seems clear therefore that they compromise the Barons at this time. [All of this appears within the Statutes, for example Mills's 1821 edition.]


Gell in Manx Society Volume XII describes the religious houses in more detail. The Monastery of Rushen (founded with a grant of land in 1134) was in the parish of Malew. The Priory of Douglas (also called the Nunnery) is speculated to have lands in Braddan. The Friary of Bymaken is also mentioned, but unlike the other two institutions, its head was not a Baron of the Isle.


In 1539 an Act of King Henry VIII resulted in the dissolution of the monasteries. Gell explains that this act did not directly apply to the Isle of Man, but that it was an arbitrary action by the King which resulted in the monastery of Rushen and (simultaneously) the Priory of Douglas being seized by the Crown. Moore (in his History of the Isle of Man p351) comments that the tithes belonging to these houses were then leased for the king's benefit.


Moore also comments that Furness Abbey had been earlier dissolved (in 1537) and its tithes (which were in Maughold and Michael) had been likewise leased for the benefit of the crown. According to a Certifacte of Revenue by the Commisioners dated 1537 and recorded in Monumenta de Isula Manne (Manx Society Volume IX p35) the Furness Abbey land consisted of an adjacent parcel (called Rouat wathe) of yearly rent 12 pence and the parsonages of Mahold and Mighell collectively produced the yearly rent of 6 pounds 13 shillings 4 pence. Page 67 of the same reference contains a copy of a grant (in the Patent Rolls) to Thomas Preston of the Rectories of Michael and Maughold formerly belonging to Furness Abbey for the period of 31 years. The stated annual rent 6l 13s 4d matches that given above.


Moore also references Talbot (Manx Sun Nov 1894) quoting from the Roll of Accounts (in English Public Records) to explain that later the priory of Whithorne was dissolved and its Manx tithes (which were in Marown and Lezayre) seem to have come into the possession of the Lord of Man. Moore comments that the properties of Bangor and Saball and St Bede's (Bees) were soon after also found to be in private hands (suggesting that they had been similarly seized).


Gell quotes a grant of 1609 in which the crown leases the former lands of Rushen Abbey and Douglas Priory to the Lord of Man. Moore asserts that all the tithes were granted to the Lord of Man, although the stated grant does not make this clear.


By the above it would appear that most or all of the land and tithes formally held by the inferior barons fell into other hands during the sixteenth century. I would like to establish exactly properties were associated with which Baronies and (as far as possible) track the leaseholders up to 1700. There are various records relating to these [including appendices in Talbot's transcription of the Manorial Roll), and I have yet to examine them in detail.


Some Evidence


The Rectories of St Michael and St Maughold together with the lands etc. of the Monastery of Furness were granted to Thomas Preston by the King in 1585 at a rent of 6l 13s 4d for a period of 31 years. A fine equal to the rent was paid. (Manx Soc Pub IV citing the Patent Rolls.) He was vicar of Michael until c1605 (Manx Soc Pub XXIX).


The Rectories of St Michael and St Maughold together with the associated lands etc. of the Monastery of Furness were granted to Francis Philips and Richd Moore by the King in 1603 at a rent of 6l 13s 4d. (Manx Soc Pub IX citing the Patent Rolls.)


The Monastery of Rushen, Priory of Douglas and Fryers of Brymaken together with their lands etc. granted to Sir Thomas Leigh Knightly and Thomas Spencer in 1606 for a period of 40 years. The fine was 101l 15s 11d. (Manx Soc Pub IX citing the Patent Rolls). The Rectories of Kirkevrist in Shelding and Kirklovan belonging to Rushen Abbey were included.