Libri Assedationis

Overview

 

The Libri Assedationis (latin for setting books) list all of the Lord of Mann's lands together with the name of the tenant and the annual rent which they are liable for. An individual book was known as Liber Assedationis. Both terms are often abbreviated to Lib Assed.

 

The order of the entries within the Libri Assedationis, and also the rent payable on them is for the most part fixed throughout the entire four century period during which they survive. [The main exceptions are the addition over time of many new intack lands and the doubling of rents on quarterland following the 1703 Act of Settlement.] Following the list of rents the documents also record other forms of income for the Lord (specifically payments by his officers and various fines paid during the year).

 

Organisation of the records

 

Prior to the 1703 Act of Settlement two Lib Assed booklets were produced annually, one each for the North and South Sides of the Island. Many of these booklets were later bound together into two series of chronologically ordered volumes. A substantial proportion (perhaps 100) remain in their original booklet state however and most of these are undated. A few form part of another record series. At the time of writing an effort is being made to reorganise and properly date all of the 16th century Lib Assed (Summer 2015).

 

We have surviving Liber Assedationis for most years between 1523 and 1575, however the documents are disorganised and often incomplete. Between 1575 to 1702 the two annual series are virtually complete. After the Act of Settlement in 1703 the record was produced less frequently, apparently only for the following years: 1704,1706,1709,1712,1716,1721,1728,1740,1750,1761,1783,1797,1816 (Patrick, German and Marown only),1858,1869,1881,1891,1901 and 1911.

 

Early records

 

Prior to 1523 only a handful of Lib Assed survive and it is probable that they were produced less frequently. The only such survivals which I am aware of are for the South Side: 1506,1511 and 1513, and for the North Side: 1515,1518 and two undated years.

 

The two undated years referred to above appear to precede any of the dated records and probably correspond to some of the documents mentioned in the Nantleys document. This was a 17th century account (held within the Pennant papers) which makes Observations upon the Setting books of Ao 1490: 1495: 1499: 1503 and 1505 and upon the Commissions of 1490 and 1505. The sources imply that these very early records have a somewhat different format from the others (in particular the rents were changeable).

 

Format

 

The content of the Liber Assed remained almost unchanged from 1506 to 1702. In later documents some changes were made and additional information included, but the format still remained very similar. We will begin by describing the structure of the earlier records.

 

Format of the 1506-1703 Libri Assedationis

 

Every year a new Liber Assedationis "book" was produced, where each book is a set of handwritten pages bound together without a cover. A book contains the records for either the North or South side parishes and typically comprises around 25 pages (50 sides). Within a book the entries are ordered by parish with the records for each parish beginning on a fresh page and headed by the name of that parish. From 1593 the four names of the setting quest (the annually changing jury overseeing property transfers) were included and they appear immediately following this heading in the top right corner of the page. After this heading comes a long list of property categories which are (nearly) always given in the same order.

 

The format of a property section will now be described. The heading in the left column records the name of the property category or type, the right column gives the list of rents of the Lords holdings within the section. The middle column gives the name of the tenant or tenants corresponding to each rent. Often the rent is broken up between multiple individuals and in such cases the part of the rent which each tenant is liable for is written above their name. All the figures are written in Roman Numerals and use the abbreviations l, s and d for pounds, shillings and pence. The sum of the rents is given below the section.

 

The first sections are the treens (ancient farming land) which are given by name and (other than the special instances given below) which always appear in the same order. The spellings of the treen names can vary substantially throughout the records. After the treens come Intacks, Cottages, Firm Vast (payments for the use of waste land) and Firma Molend (or mills). After these property rents come several more sections which relate to additional income for the Lord from the parish. These are the annual customary payments from officers (namely the Moar of the parish and also when he came from the parish the Coroner of the Sheading), Firma Brass (payments for the rent of brass, and in particular the brass pans used in brewing) and a final section headed fines and amercements. In the Kirk Michael records the Firma Brass section moves to appear between the Firma Molend and the officers's customary payments sections after 1618. It moves again in 1642 to come between Firma Vast and Firma Molend. The Firma Vast section was removed after 1644 (and the 1644 Liber Assedationis entry is marked accorded). This was presumably as an effect of the compositions then being made.

 

The Liber Assedationis incorporated tenancy changes recorded in the previous year's Liber Vastarum and the setting quest given was that recorded in (and responsible for) this preceding Liber Vastarum. The document records income from the current year (and thus includes the name of the new Moar) however. Changes in tenancy during the year are indicated by drawing part or all of a box around the name of the old tenant.

 

Changes after 1703

 

Following the Act of Settlement in 1703 the Libri Assedationis was produced much less frequently. (This may reflect the fact that in itself it no longer provided all the information which the officers needed, and the Liber Vastarum and Composition Book became more heavily used). Multiple changes in the tenancy or leasehold of property could now be indicated in a single Liber Assedationis. This was initially done by drawing multiple nested partial boxes around an entry, often with each line being marked with a year. In the final few books (after 1850) the format was simplified and just the year of relevant changes to an entry was recorded.

 

After 1703 the fines and amercements section was removed from the Libri Assedationis. (It was extracted to a new series of annual accounts books likewise titled Fines and Amercements. These also incorporate the newly introduced alienation fines and are held under reference MS10192.)

 

Whilst the customary payments from the Moar continued to appear in the Libri Assedationis, his name was no longer given.

 

Beginning in 1869 the alienation fine paid was also given with each entry. (This was presumably to avoid having to rerecompute it anew whenever a transfer occurred).

 

The less concise format and greater number of tenants makes the later books much larger than the pre 1703 records. Whilst they remain handwritten documents from 1783 onwards each Liber Assedationis is recorded into a single volumes with a hard printed cover. (Possibly the covers were added later.) Beginning in 1869, the entries are made into pre-printed pages with additional marked columns for the "proportion of rent", "date of entry", "alienation fine", "marginal rent".

 

Dating the Records

 

There are several ways to date individual booklets. The setting quest and the names of the Moar (and where appropriate the Coronor) can potentially be matched with other documents which may be dated. Also marked entries (of tenants to be drawn) can be used to identify the corresponding Liber Vastarum. In later Libri Assedationis the fines and amercements section often records the years from which these are taken, and the latest year given is generally the year of the Liber Assedationis. The entries can also be cross referenced against the court records. The list of tenants in an undated Liber Assedationis can be compared with those in dated documents or (more rigourously) with a catologue of tenancy changes prepared from Libri Vastarum and Libri Assedationis records (such as is given in the transcription section). In the transcriptions section I have listed the Kirk Michael setting quest, moar's name, year and microfilm reference for almost every North Side Liber Assedationis between 1576 and 1703.