Overview of Lease Records



Some of the Lord's tenants took out leases which granted them possession of lands for a period. This was either for an agreed period of years or until all of a named list of (usually three) people had all died. A fee (called a fine) was paid to the Lord at the commencement of a lease. Unlike land rents, these fines would be agreed anew each time. At certain times leases were also agreed for certain Church offices which the Lord had the authority to grant (such as clerkships).


For the most part leases were only taken out by prominent Manxmen, and perhaps only for the best tenancies. In 1643 however (at the start of the English Civil War) all of the Lord's tenants were compelled to agree leases. In 1666 the same was required of the Abbey Land tenants also. Further records relating to these leases were produced on several occasions up until 1704, in which year the Act of Settlement concluded a long running dispute between the Lord and his Manx people as to the nature of tenure.


Leases were predominately arranged with the Lord's Commissioners in several key years. There are a number of collections or summaries of leases from these dates. The two main primary sources are the Knowsley Lease Book and the five volume Composition Books. Unfortunately the ordering of the latter is confusing (presumably as the result of a haphazard binding of individual manuscripts). There is also some overlap between the sources. For this reason the sources are individually summarised, and separately the lease collections are explained in chronological order.


Some individual lease contracts survive. These are covered in the Contracts section.