Selection of the Moar and Setting Quest

By the late 18th century the members of the Setting Quest would generally serve for many years, whilst responsibility for the Moarship would rotate between the quarterlands. (An analysis of the Libri Vastarum makes the former obvious from the names of the Setting Quest and the latter from their determination of the next year's moar at the October Courts.)


The pre 1700 property records (Liber Assed and Liber Vast) do not record all transfers, and this can make it difficult to determine exactly when a leasehold was inherited by a new tenant. On the other hand a significant minority of the members of a parish served in some official role (yearly changing parish posts including the moar, the 4 man setting quest and the 4 man chapter quest). If a clear mechanism existed for determining the occupants of such parish roles (for example by rotation amongst the leading landholders) in these earlier years then this might provide a primitive form of census.


The Moar and the following year's Setting Quest


Dickinson (page 70 of "The Lordship of Man under the Stanleys") states that the moar for the previous year was always included in the Setting Quest referencing Moore (p902 of his "History of the Isle of Man"). Moore's only comment in this reference is that it was formerly the custom that "the moar of the present year was to be of the setting quest of the year following", ascribing this fact to Parrs M.S. A typewritten copy of a transcript of the customary laws (MS 9864 GR 1/20 item 19) contains the following pertinent entry "The moare of the present yeare is to bee of yee setting quest for ye yeare followinge, because hee is left acquainted with ye estate, condicon & ability of every severall tenant within his psh & can informe ye rest of his fellowes who are of sufficiencie & abillitie for ye paymt of ye lords rent & who they are doubtful of that they may [re]quire those to put in & produce sufficient sercuritie for ye paymt of ye paid rent, or if they cannot, to provide a new tenant.". Unfortunately there are no other entries in this document relating to the selection of parish officials.


An examination of the Libri Vastarum, Libri Assedationis and (where available) pension book gives the names of the Setting Quest and Moar for the corresponding year. I have compiled such a list for Kirk Michael which covers almost every year between 1576 and 1703. This shows that there is usually (but not always) a match between the name of the Moar and a member of the following year's setting quest. In some of the exceptions there is an obvious explanation for the omission, for example Phill Cannell was Moar in 1661 and 1662 and Coronor in 1663. (The reason that his name doesn't appear in the setting quests for either 1662 or 1663 is presumably due to the other office he held that year.) This fact can be used to help order and date early records.


Before the Act of Settlement was enacted in 1704 the names of the Kirk Michael Setting Quest vary significantly from year to year. After this date they often match exactly from Sheading Court to Sheading Court. Although I do not have the names of the Moars for this period, there is clear evidence that for certain parishes at least the Moar changed each year (see below). This suggests that the selection of the Setting Quest at this time, and also that the customary membership of the preceding Moar was discontinued.


Selection of the Moar


In [Peter Edge's transcription of] Parr's Abridgement of the Laws and Customs (written c1690) we have the following: "68.9 Alsoe if there bee a scarcity of fitt persons to bee hath to execute the Moars place, and that such service is imposed too often upon the best capacitated and those of (perhaps) better estates freed in respect of their disabillity, in that case such persons are to hyre and find out one to execute the place for them, because the Lord may injoine the same as a service or suite accruinge out of every ones estate by his prerogative."


The only other evidence which I have so far found relating to the selection of the Moar comes in MS2157A. In this collection of original documents several parishes (Andreas, Malew, Arbory) return details of their choices of Moar shortly following the 1704 Act of Settlement. Key extracts from the handful different documents are given below. They are typically witnessed with the writers signature or mark.


[MS2157/7A] "We the Sett Inquest of K Andreas whose names are subscribed being required by Mr Recr Genll to nominate & appoint a fitt person to be Moar for ye present year 1705; we have considered of ye same & find no estate in ye parish is more fitt to undertake ye charge & truble of ye Moarship than ye Tenant of Mullintown now in ye possession & management of Capt James Christian of Mullinlown; whom we appoint to discharge yt office either by himself or some fitt person in his behalf for this present year." In MS2157/6A a slighly earlier documeny covering the same appointment, the moar is assigned to be from the quarterland of Mullelonn and the delay in making it is attributed to not knowing the setting of the said quarter.


[MS2157/3A] "Being required of yor order to appoint a sufficient person to be moare of the parish of KK Andreas for this year ensuing; we the setting Inquest of the said pish doe nominate and appoint John Saile of the small Quarter to be Moare this year and he to have ye assistance of Donold Cornade Philip Brew Wm Cleator Patrick Carrett, John Lace & James Fargher with Patrick Caole all these being [in] ye possession & occupation of two quarters of land who come now in court to execute the moars office. [and overleaf follows:] I Thomas Cowle old Moar of KK Andreas have according to ye Honble Govrs Order charged the within named John Sayle to appear at Castletown to be sworn Moar for this present year, on Friday next. As witness my mark to my name this 6th of Novr 1710."


[MS2157/4A] "We the Setting Quest of the Parish of KK Malew whose names are subscribed with the advice and assistance of several old Moars have appointed the moarship to be performed as followeth, commencing the year 1704.". There follows a list of names for each year between 1704 and 1729 inclusive, although just the word "Ronaldsway" is entered for the years 1704, 1709, 1714, 1719, 1724. Those names I've checked were large tenants and some entries such as "William Quaile & partner", "Tho Woods & John Quiney", "William Fargher of Shibbrick for half a quarter of land called Ballaegg with the Flatts about Castletown" seem to indicate that these Moars were selected according from the larger tenants.


[MS2157/5A] "We whose names are written being of the setting quest of KK Arbory parish being ordered by the Receivers power to settle the moarship of the said parish it being now out of the [wont?] and usuall course, we therefore accordingly have made strict enquiry concerning the said moarship, by complaint being made do find that there is four Quarter lands and a halfe in our said parish vixt Aristine & Ballagawen hath not served nor done the moarship this fifteen years or upwards. Therefore we think it fitt & convenient that the persons dwelling in the abovesaid Quarter Lands should officiat and serve in the said moarship this present year without they can shew sopme reason to the contrary which is not known to us, but at present it appears to us to be their course, and Nicholas Bridson the year following this we give in for our answer this 25th of Feb 1703/4.


[MS2157/2A headed Arbory 1705] "We whose names are underwritten being the setting quest having considdered on the settklement and due placeing of the moars according to the course of the parish and finding in the setting booke that every of the parish hath made the moars service in their turn. And we make [?] for this year to serve for moar [?] parish beginning his course again [?] is in the setting book and every [?] land to serve herby in due course as is [? ?] the setting booke."


[MS2157/1A] "We whose names are underwritten being the setting quest of KK Arbory being charged to settle a Moar for the said parish for this present year according to the setting book and having perused the said book we find that Mr Tyldseley is lyable to be moar according to the rule of settlement, and after this present year to go throu the parish as it is said in the setting book until ten years be expired whereof two years are expired already, and then at every tenth year to begin at Ballidoole and BallaCageen according to the course of the said parish as it is aforesaid in the said booke. And this we give for our answer this 17th day of January in the year 1707/8."


My conclusions from the above are that the selection of the new moar was made by the (incoming or outgoing ?) setting quest, but that if they did not find a suitable candidate then the Lord had the power to force a choice on them. Sharing out the moar's post in rotation between the quarterlands or treens seems to have been done for fairness, but was not obligitory. In the seventeeth century is not uncommon to see the same individual serving several times in rapid succession, and the Moar's selection would seem to have been a rather informal and local arrangement therefore.