Libri Monasteriorum

This record series is the books of the manorial court of the Barony originally belonging to Rushen Abbey (sometimes referred to as Abbey Lands). This was a substantial Barony including about 100 quarterlands (equivalent to about two parishes) and was by far the largest of the Baronies. (This calculation excludes the demense.) The associated Baronial Court corresponds closely to the Lord's Sheading Courts (as well as the other Barons's Courts) and the format of the records is very similar. The main difference is that the Lord's Sheading Court records are spread over two series namely Libri Placitorum (for the common law proceedings) and Libri Vastarum (for land transfers).

 

Organisation of the Records

 

The documents are organised into a handful of bundles of Court records, and cover the period 1579-1916. The earlier documents are in bundles. From 1654 onwards they are held in bound volumes. Unlike the other Barony Court records, the Libri Monasteriorum have been mostly microfilmed. (An exception is the period 1654-1674 which was not microfilmed although the original document survives. There is also a gap in the microfilms for the years 1740-1864.)

 

The court appears to have been held twice a year: in May or June and also in October or November. Each such court is documented separately, but these individual records were later bound together to form larger bundles or volumes. Usually the courts appear chronologically, but there are various instances of the records being bound out of order.

 

Format of the Records

 

The record of each individual court begins with heading in abbreviated latin. This generally begins Cur plitar p tenen et tenemt (Court of pleas for tenants and tenements) and typically goes on to mention the jurisdiction (e.g. Monaster de Rushen) the date (e.g. xxix May Ano 1662) and the officers in attendance ( e.g. Coram Ferdinand Calcott Senschall etc.).

 

Immediately below this heading we have a latin phrase declaring that the twelve man jury of the court has been sworn in. Often the names of the jury are given. A typical example is


Inquisic Capt suo sacramt duodem
legall homin viz

       Lupi                           Skinscoe                      German
Wm Harrison               }        John Spiteone     }            don: lace     }
Jo: bell balla keaw       }           Bradan         }            Hen: Cayne    }
Jo: bridson ballanrvane   }        Gilbt Cubin       }              Sulby       }  Jur
Tho: mc ylrea             }        Wm Cashen         }            Wm kearney    }
                                   John Cannell      }            Ewan Curgey   }

The headings above refer to the parishes from which the men came. The Abbey had tenants in six parishes namely Lupi (Malew), Skinscoe in Lezayre, Bradan, German, Sulby in Lonan and Rushen.

 

The next section is a list of presentments by the officials of individuals for misdemeanors. A brief description of the offence and any fine imposed is given. The parish name is given in the left margin. This is sometimes accompanied by the names of a 4 man jury impanelled to investigate it. The whole section is usually in latin. An example in English (from June 1660) is given below.


Lupi              presented by John Bridson sergeant there
                  that Hugh Arthur disobeyed the deemster
                  authority in not appearinge to praise goo[ds]
                  for the lords use is in fine xiid

German            James Cayne et Richard Halsall for
                  not appearinge at the Court beinge of a 
                  great Inquest to give answere wth their
                  fellows is in fine [no amount given]

There are two more sections after the presentments. One of these is records complaints by tenants against other tenants and the other details land transfers to be approved by the court. Sometimes these two record types are kept completely separate. In other cases they are grouped by parish (ie the German complaints are followed by German land transfers and then Bradan complaints and so on). Land transfers appear only to be recorded for the first Court of each year (ie the May/June Court) which is consistent with the behaviour of the Lord's Sheading Courts.

 

The complaints tend to be more more numerous and to relate to a wide range of grievances. The format is similar to the presentments discussed above. They are easily distinguished (whether in English or latin) by the invariable use of the latin abbreviations quer vs (complains against) near the start. An example is given below.

Lupi               Robt kaneene quer vs Raulle Shymin
                   & Henri Taggard for trespass in his
                   corne & grasse wth sheepe & goats
                   damages 10s. [Qui?] [am?] appear 1d vi

It appears to me that the final sentence in such entries (including the above) was added only once the court made its decision. It is generally given in latin, regardless of the language of the rest of the paragraph.

 

The land transfer entries follow the same format as the Libri Vastarum, which format is described more fully under the description of that record type. An example is:


German    | donald Lace |     Robt mc     |
          ---------------                 |  viiid     
          ylvorey et uxor  ----------------

donald lace in Court desired that the name of Robt
mc ylvorey & his wife bee entred for this viiid
rent acknowledging the same to bee due unto
them in liew of porcon of goods.

 

Occasional documents

 

The Libri Monasteriorum also contain some occasional additional records which relate to the tenancies. Michael Bridson has kindly shared his old observations on the records (with his caveat that they do require checking). The additions mainly comprise rentals (which would have served much the same purpose as the Libri Assedationis for the Lord's land), a book of fines (corresponding to the Lord's Composition Books) and tithe rolls. He identified rentals only for 1607,1611,1612 and (probably) 1629, together with fines c1610 and tithe rolls c1610 and 1640. These additional records were found in page series 217-277, 522-530 and 625-642.