Composition Books



The composition records relate to fines payable to the Lord due only to the possession or tenancy of his lands. These fines fall into two categories, payments made at the commencement of a lease and gratuities which were a special payment equivalent to an annual rent made to a new Lord. The records of both sets of payments are (largely) contained within five bound composition books which contain a variety of documents from mostly between 1593 and 1705. Unfortunately these records cover several different purposes, are of inconsistent formats and can initially be rather confusing to interpret. Books 2,3 and 4 contain loose handwritten indexes of unknown provenance which typically indicate where entries for each parish appear within a book. Beyond that they contain limited information however. The summary below attempts to classify the different documents. The contents of these are described in more detail within the appropriate subsection.


Organisation of the Records


The five composition books are conserved manuscripts which are all held under reference 10057 (Manorial Records) at the Manx National Heritage Library. They are contained within four boxes. My index of the five books is given below. (The first book does not have numbered pages and the folio numbers are based on my page count.) A more detailed description of these individual records (ordered by date) is given under elsewhere on this site. (See the other pages under this subheading). Certain related records exist in other document collections and these are also described there. (In particular there are later summaries of the 1643 and 1666 compositions and several later copies of the 1703-5 composition book. These are easier to read and navigate and also serve to help plug some gaps in the records.)


Several of the major records referred to below were updated over several years. The indexes given below refer to documents dated 1643, 1691 and 1704, but strictly speaking these span the approximate periods 1643-1645, 1691-1692 and 1703-1705 respectively.


Book 1 titled Compositions book (in Box 1)

 folio   1.0 - 25.5     customs in kind in 1593
 folio  26.0 - 37.0     customs in money in 1593 (north side) with allowances
 folio  41.0 - 54.0     customs in money in 1593 (south side) with allowances
 folio  55.0 - 64.5     new enclosures 1609
 folio  65.0 - 83.0     new enclosures 1610-1622
 folio  83.0 - 99.0     new enclosures 1623
 folio  99.0 -105.0     presentments of tenants who had not compounded for leases c1644
 folio 106.0 -133.0     South Side Liber Assed (undated)
 folio 134.0 -163.0     South Side Liber Assed (undated)
 folio 163.0 -221.0     South Side Liber Assed (undated)


Book 2 titled Compositions for abbey lands and intacks (in Box 1)

 folio   1.0 -  1.5     compositions for several intacks 1673
 folio   2.0 - 21.5     surviving lives in 1666
 folio  22.0 - 37.0     receipts of 1704 fines on abbey lands
 folio  39.0 - 77.0     1704 compositions (Lonan and Maughold)
 folio  78.0 - 87.0     late (1735) compositions for new intacks
 folio  88.0 -146.0     1704 compositions (Lezayre, Santon, and Marown)
 folio 147.0 -187.5     receipts/debts of 1643 fines
 folio 188.0 -227.5     1704 fines and compositions for abbey lands


Book 3 titled 1612 &tc vol2 (in Box 2)

 folio   2.0 - 13.0     new leases granted in 1610
 folio  15.0 - 17.0     potential fines for re-establishing leases not compounded in 1610
 folio  18.0            19 year leases for clerkships granted in 1610
 folio  19.0            summary of benevolences received in 1610
 folio  20.0            summary of all income above
 folio  21.0 - 64.5     1704 fines and receipts (north side)
 folio  68.0 -145.0     1643 composition book (south side)
 folio 147.0 -284.5     Appears to be predominately a summary of existing leases c1655
 folio 285.0 -368.5     1666 compositions 
 folio 369.0 -423.5     1691 lives 


Book 4 titled 1613-1691 (in Box 3)

 folio   1.0 -  6.5     1506 Liber Assed (or similar) for Castletown Cottages (in latin)
 folio   7.0 - 10.5     As above for Malew
 folio  11.0 - 13.0     As above for Arbory 
 folio  15.0 - 16.0     leases in existence prior to 1610 and expired by 1613 (thus due)
 folio  17.0 - 18.0     leases in existence prior to 1610 and still not expired in 1613  
 folio  19.0 - 22.5     tenants who had had leases on only part of their land prior to 1613
 folio  23.0 - 29.0     fines compounded with the officers 1613,1614
 folio  29.0 - 36.5     other fines for compositions since the 1613 commission
 folio  37.0 - 47.0     1654-5 leases for rectories, tythes and clerkships (neat record)
 folio  48.0 - 54.0     1654-5 leases for rectories, tythes and clerkships (rough entries)
 folio  54.0 - 59.0     1655 survey/reconfirmation of existing leases for land
 folio  60.0 -105.5     1643 composition book (north side)
 folio 106.0 -146.5     1704 fines and receipts (south side)
 folio 147.0 -156.5     1660 compositions (various parishes)
 folio 157.0 -211.5     1660 gratuities (about 10 parishes)
 folio 212.0 -308.5     1679 lives


Book 5 titled composition book c1703 (in Box 4)

 folio   1.0 -324.5     1704 Compositions
 folio 325.0 -330.5     1628 licences for exports (?)
 folio 331.0 -338.0     1628 sureties for exports (?)
 folio 339.0 -342.5     1626 licences
 folio 344.0 -347.0     1626 sureties
 folio 348.0 -385.0     1704 Compositions


1643-1704 Composition records organised by parish


The composition books can be muddled and somewhat confusing to read. The tables below provide an index to those sections relevant to compositions which were agreed between 1643 and 1704. It is organised by parish. A reference C2/345.0 means that the section begins at folio 345 of Composition Book 2.


Entries below suffixed by (C) relate to lists of new compositions. The other sections are predominately surveys of existing compositions. There were separate composition books in 1704 for Lord's and Abbey land. These are indicated by 1704(L) and 1704(A) respectively below. Note also that several parishes contain two entries for the 1704 composition book. In these instances, one is simply a neat true copy of the other (the original). The table below only includes the reference for the original document.


Parish 1643(C) 1660 1666(C) 1666 1679 1691 1704(L) 1704(A)
Andreas C4/097.0 C4/186.0 C3/286.0 C2/001.0 C4/271.0 C3/385.0 C5/141.0
Arbory C3/112.0 C4/174.0 C3/363.5 C2/019.0 C4/305.0 C5/283.0
Ballaugh C4/089.0 C3/308.0 C2/005.0 C4/261.5 C3/380.0 C5/068.0
Braddan C3/096.0 C3/337.0 C2/014.0 C4/237.0 C3/412.0 C5/348.0 C2/220.0
Bride C4/195.0 C3/301.0 C2/003.0 C4/213.0 C3/389.0 C5/120.0
German C4/060.0 C3/313.0 C2/006.0 C4/246.5 C3/371.0 C5/239.0 C2/188.0
Jurby C4/084.0 C4/192.0 C3/306.0 C2/004.0 C4/230.0 C3/383.0 C5/102.0
Lezayre C4/201.0 C3/288.0 C2/002.0 C4/219.0 C3/392.0 C5/175.0 C2/223.0
Lonan C3/078.0 C3/335.0 C2/011.0 C4/279.0 C3/405.5 C2/039.0 C2/226.5
Malew C3/128.0 C4/153.0 C3/342.0 C2/019.5 C4/292.0 C3/417.0 C5/298.0 C2/199.0
Marown C3/103.0 C3/340.0 C2/012.0 C4/239.5 C3/414.0 C2/138.0
Maughold C3/068.0 C3/331.5 C2/013.0 C4/233.0 C3/403.0 C2/057.0
Michael C4/077.0 C4/182.0 C3/307.0 C2/016.0 C4/257.0 C3/377.0 C5/051.0
Onchan C3/087.0 C3/327.0 C2/009.0 C4/285.0 C3/408.0 C5/361.0
Patrick C4/072.0 C3/325.0 C2/008.0 C4/242.0 C3/369.0 C5/216.0
Rushen C3/120.0 C4/169.0 C3/367.0 C2/021.0 C4/299.0 C5/268.0 C2/198.0
Santan C3/107.0 C4/178.0 C3/341.0 C2/018.0 C4/268.0 C3/415.5 C2/130.0


During the English Civil War, the Stanley Lords of Man were temporarily supplanted. The composition books also contain surveys taken by this separate administration. These records are less well grouped by parish.


Parish Surveys during the 1650s
Andreas : C3/228.0-228.5 : C3/272.0-284.5
Arbory : C3/156.0-156.5 : C3/237.0-237.5
Ballaugh : C3/186.0-189.5 : C3/216.0-216.5 : C3/229.0-229.0 : C3/256.0-263.0 : C4/054.0-058A.0
Braddan : C3/199.0-202.5 : C3/218.0-223.5 : C3/231.0-231.5 : C3/238.0-238.5
Bride : C3/158.5-160.5 : C3/267.0-271.0
German : C3/161.0-163.0 : C3/174.0-177.0 : C3/232.0-236.0
Jurby : C3/173.0-173.5 : C3/206.0-206.0 : C3/209.5-212.0
Lezayre : C3/196.0-198.5 : C3/225.0-227.5
Lonan : C3/147.0-148A.0 : C3/168.0-170.0 : C3/217.0-217.5
Malew : C3/149.5-151.5 : C3/192.5-195.5 : C3/241.5-247.5
Marown : C3/171.0-171.0 : C3/213.0-214.0
Maughold : C3/185.0-185.0 : C3/205.0-205.0 : C3/264.0-266.5
Michael : C3/248.0-255.0
Onchan : C3/181.0-184.5
Patrick : C3/164.0-167.0 : C3/230.0-230.5 : C3/239.5-240.5
Rushen : C3/203.0-204.0 : C3/207.0-208.5 : C3/215.0-215.0
Santan : C3/238A.0-238A.0



Composition records on microfilm


The above composition books were microfilmed many years ago. Michael Bridson has a provided a set of correspondences which forms the basis for the table below. The years field gives the description associated with the microfilm (but which does not necessarily precisely cover the records it contains). The Manx National Heritage Library microfilm equivalences have not yet been fully checked. Please let me know of any errors.


The manuscript of the 1760 copy of the 1704 composition book referred to in the table below is held within the Atholl Papers bundle 65 at the Manx National Heritage Library. A few pages are missing from the original 1704 document and this 1760 copy provides a useful substitute. It is also somewhat easier to read.


Ref above Years Folios MNHL Film LDS Film
Book 1 1594-1623 & undated Not numbered GL838(1)
Book 2 1643-1735 1-228 GL839(2) 0106703(2)
Book 3 1610-1692 1-424 GL838(2) & GL839(1) 0106703(1)
Book 4 1506-1679 1-309 GL839(3) & GL840(1) 0106701
Book 5 1704-1713 1-386 GL840(2) & GL841 0106702
N/A 1704 (1760 copy) RC1 & RC2



Online images


Images of several of the Composition Books are now available online at and Christopher Keig has produced an excel spreadsheet to serve as a finding aid for these. This is available at Composition Book Aid and it links directly to the online records.