In A.D. 1399 the Isle of Man was granted by King Henry 4th (who claimed the island as a conquest) to Henry de Percy, Earl of Northumberland. It was in 1405 seized by the same king on the ground of its forfeiture by the treason of the Earl of Northumberland, and granted to Sir John Stanley for life. in 1406, the latter grant was made absolute to Sir John Stanley, his heirs and assigns, subject to the service of rendering two falcons to the King of England on the day of his coronation.
The island was governed by kings, or lords of the house of Stanley, until 1595, when, a dispute having arisen as to the succession to the sovereignty of the island, Queen Elizabeth, at the request of the disputants, assumed the government of the island, and retained it until her death in 1603. King James 1st succeeded to the government of the island.
In 1607 he granted it to Henry, Earl of Northampton, and Robert, Earl of Salisbury, who surrendered it in 1609, when the king made a new grant to Robert, Earl of Salisbury, and Thomas, Earl of Suffolk. They ruled the island until 1611, when, the dispute as to  the succession in the house of Stanley having been arranged, the island was granted to William, sixth Earl of Derby, and (except for about nine years during the Commonwealth, when it was under the rule of Thomas, Lord Fairfax) the isle continued under the sovereignty of lords of the house of Stanley until 1736, when it passed by inheritance to James, second Duke of Atholl, who in 1764 was succeeded by his daughter Charlotte, Baroness Strange, wife of John, third Duke of Atholl. In 1765 the sovereignty of the island was surrendered to King George 3rd.
During the period from 1399 to 1765, the insular kings or lords under the grants from the Crown of England were the sovereigns of the island, which is an ancient kingdom, and had its own legislature, the Tynwald. In 1716, in the case of Christian v. Corren, before a Committee of the Privy Council, it was held that an appeal lay from the decision of the kings or lords of the island to the King of England in Council, of which right of appeal the subject could not be deprived by the king's grants.
In 1523, Ann, Countess of Derby, widow of Thomas, second Earl of Derby, and fifth King of Man of the house of Stanley, claimed dower in the island. The decision was against the Countess, on the ground that the isle was not part of the realm of England. The judges alleged that no general Act of Parliament extended to the island, but that by special name an Act might extend to it. This seems to have been the earliest authority for the position that the Isle of Man is bound by Acts of Parliament extending to it by name.
In the reign of Henry 8th, and subsequently, were passed Acts of Parliament affecting the church and clergy, extending to all the king's dominions, but without specially naming any. The Isle of Man was in a very peculiar position with respect to such Acts, by reason of its being under the immediate sovereignty, not of the King of England, but of the kings or lords under the grants before referred to.
Some of such Acts are -
[Note. -All the foregoing Acts were passed during the reign in the Isle of Man of Edward, third Earl of Derby, sixth Lord of Man of the house of Stanley.]
Many of the provisions in these Acts were inapplicable to the Isle of Man. First fruits and tenths were not payable in respect of livings there. At the same time it is presumed the Reformation was brought about in the island by means of the recognition of some of the Acts, for there are no Acts of the Insular Legislature bearing on the Reformation.
The church is "established" in the Isle of Man as in England, but if there can be implied from the relative positions of the Church and State in the island the terms or compact on which the establishment was effected, such terms as to the ecclesiastical courts differ from those in England.
The bishop, archdeacon, vicars-general, official, and registrar of such courts must on appointment take their respective oaths of office before the temporal authorities. The sumner-general, the apparitor of the courts, and who acts as a kind of public administrator of the estates of deceased persons in certain cases, is appointed by the Crown, through the governor, but he takes his oath of office before a judge of the Ecclesiastical Court. There may be two vicars-general, who have concurrent jurisdiction, and they may sit jointly or separately. The bishop, archdeacon, and vicars-general are ex-officio members of the Insular Council, which acts in a double capacity, it being the Upper House of the Insular Legislature, and also the Executive Council of the Sovereign and Governor. The archdeacon's official may be summoned  to the council in its executive capacity only. On a vacancy occurring in the See the vicars-general, registrars, and surrogates (who act in the issuing of marriage licences only), are appointed by the governor on behalf of the Crown to act during the vacancy in the See.
Obedience to the citations, orders, and judgments of the Ecclesiastical Courts is enforced by the authority of the governor. The service of citations, &c., is made by the sumner-general or one of his parochial deputies, who are styled "Sumners," and the fact of service is certified to the court by such officer.
If a defendant or witness cited to appear at the court do not appear, the judge endorses the certificate with a memorandum to the effect that the person for his contempt in not appearing is "presented." In like manner an order or judgment of the court is served by the same officer, and if the officer of his own knowledge can certify the fact of disobedience, he does so, and the judge endorses the certificate, as in the case of contempt for non-appearance. The sumner's certificate, with the judge's "presentment" endorsed, is filed in the Rolls Office, where the records of the temporal courts are kept, and the governor issues a "writ of contempt," which is enforced by a constable who, in the case of a writ of contempt for non-appearance, either imprisons the presented person, or takes him personally before the court to which he had been cited, and in the case of a writ of contempt for disobedience to an order or judgment imprisons the person presented. In cases where the sumner cannot certify the contempt, the matter of the alleged contempt is, at the instance of the plaintiff, enquired into in court, and if the court finds the contempt to have been committed, a presentment of it is made by the court, and a writ of contempt issues. Before 1765 soldiers performed the civil duties now performed by constables, and enforced the writs of contempt. Formerly, under general orders of the Governor, a soldier was authorised to take the persons presented into custody without a special writ being issued in each case, but the custom of arresting under a general order has been long discontinued. The Ecclesiastical Court has no control over the imprisonment of a person in custody under a writ of contempt, such person can be discharged only by the governor, on terms prescribed by him, the terms being usually such as will ensure obedience. It may be observed that, except as to the officer by whom service is made, the like course of procedure is followed in the temporal courts.
The law as to lapse is that, in case the bishop have the right to present to an incumbency, and he do not present within six months from the Easter next following the avoidance, the right of presentation falls to the Crown, not to the archbishop.
And where a benefice in the bishop's patronage falls vacant during a vacancy in the See, the right of presentation falls to the Crown.
Previously to A.D. 1636, it was considered to be the law of the Isle that all appeals from the Ecclesiastical Courts lay, not to the archbishop, but to the Lord or Sovereign of the Isle or to the temporal Courts of Appeal.
Some time after the passing of the Act of Parliament, 33 Henry 8, c. 31 (1512), " An Act for dissevering the Bishoprick of Chester and of the Isle of Man from the jurisdiction of Canterbury to the Jurisdiction of York," it was considered by some that, whatever may have been the law in respect to appeals prior to 1542, the effect of the Act of Parliament was to vest in the archbishop the like right and power as to appeals which he had with respect to the Diocese of Chester under the Act. By the Act it is enacted that the Diocese of Chester shall be of the Province and Archbishopric of York, and of the metropolitical jurisdiction of the same, to every effect and purpose, "according to the ecclesiastical laws in this realm," and that the Bishoprick and Diocese of Man, in the Isle of Man, be annexed, adjoined, and united, to the province and metropolitical jurisdiction of York in all points, and to all purposes and effects, as the Bishoprick of Chester is annexed, adjoined, and united, to the same. By others it was contended that the Act did not effect any change in the law of the Isle as to the Ecclesiastical Courts. However, by order of James, Lord Strange, Lord of the Island, dated 22nd November 1636, he directed that until further order no appeal should thereafter be made to the Governor of the Isle, or the temporal courts there, "for any cause depending or determined in the Ecclesiastical Courts, which do merely concern government of the church, excommunications, suspensions, incest, adultery, fornication, profanation of God's name, profanation of the Sabbath, cursing, probate of wills and testaments, granting or administration, granting tuition of infants' goods, or merely substracting of tithes, or for or concerning the defamations determinable or punishable by the ecclesiastical laws." It is to be remarked that the order does not affirm the jurisdiction of York in matters of appeal, nor direct that appeals should not be made to the Lord himself, it professes merely to take away in certain cases the right of appeal to jurisdictions inferior to the Lord. However, though it was from time to time asserted by Manx jurists, including judges of the Ecclesiastical Courts, that the order was of no legal validity, in course of time appeals to York in relation to the subjects referred to in the order were acknowledged, the appeals in other matters being to the Staff of Government, the Insular Court of Appeal.
Grants of probate and letters of administration were governed by the insular law; and though the Archbishop's Provincial Court exercised appellate jurisdiction, a provincial grant of probate or administration was of no validity in the Island. Since the transfer of the probate jurisdiction in England from the Ecclesiastical Courts to the Court of Probate, there has been no appeal in testamentary cases in the Island. It is doubtful whether the appellate jurisdiction of the Archbishop's Court in Manx testamentary causes has been affected by the Act which transferred the English jurisdiction in testamentary cases.
Previous to A.D. 1737, whenever a person was excommunicated by the Ecclesiastical Court, he was by the Court "delivered over, body and goods," to the lord of the isle. By an Insular Act of that year such practice was abolished, and it was enacted that a person excommunicated, continuing obstinate for three months, should upon application to the governor by the court be confined three months in prison, but such imprisonment was not to be understood as taking off the censure.
Formerly the Court of the Archdeacon of the Isle of Man exercised ecclesiastical jurisdiction in certain matters, the judge of the court being the archdeacon's official.
By an Act of the Insular Legislature passed in 1871, "the voluntary and contentious jurisdiction and authority of the court of the archdeacon of the said isle and of the archdeacon and his official, with reference to the grant or revocation of probate of wills or letters of administration of the effects of deceased persons, and in relation to any matters or causes testamentary, and also with reference to all suits or matters relating to the estates of deceased persons, and to all other matters of judicial cognizance, ecclesiastical or otherwise, and whether is conferred by statute or otherwise," should cease, and all such jurisdiction and authority were transferred to the Ecclesiastical Courts of the bishop of  Sodor and Man, to be exercised by such courts or by the bishop or his vicar general.
With reference to the Book of Common Prayer, the law in the Isle of Man is in a very extraordinary and unsatisfactory position. There seems to be no doubt that from the Reformation the Book of Common Prayer for the time being in use in England, or a Manx translation of it, has been, with some slight variations, in use there. Assuming that the Isle of Man is sufficiently designated, as it were, by special name, by an Act of Parliament which is declared to extend to all the dominions of the Crown of England, the several Acts of Uniformity of 1548, 1552, and 1558, were obligatory in the Isle of Man; but the Act of Uniformity 14 Charles 2nd, c. 4 (1662), does not extend to that Isle, even by implication, for it declares that it shall apply to the realm of England, dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick-on-Tweed.
So then, as far as legislation is concerned, the Book of Common Prayer directed to be used by the Act of Uniformity of Queen Elizabeth - the Act of 1558 - is, -if such Act be unrepealed, - that only which can be legally used in the Isle of Man. I may observe that, notwithstanding the Act of Elizabeth being, applicable to all the Queen's dominion, which included Ireland, the Parliament of Ireland passed an Act - 2 Elizabeth, c. 2 (1559) - for uniformity in the public services in the Church. The Act is similar to that passed in England. The same Parliament passed another Act of Uniformity in the reign of Charles II., 17 & 18 Charles II., c. 6 (1665), but, as with respect to the Isle of Man, the English Act of Charles II. (1662) did not extend to Ireland.
However, if the English Act of Elizabeth was in force in Ireland, it was questionable how far the Irish Act of Elizabeth was valid.
Since 1662 references have been made to the Book of Common Prayer in various Acts of Parliament professing to extend to the Isle of Man.
The Act 31 & 35 Vict. c. 57 (1871), directing the use of a new table of lessons, and the Act 35 & 36 Vict. c. 35 (1872), permitting the use of shortened services, do not extend to the Isle of Man.
Since 1662 reference to and provisions affecting the Book of Common Prayer have also been made in Acts of the Insular Legislature. The following are instances:-
Under the Act 33 Henry 8. c. 31. (1642) before referred to the bishoprick of Man was made part of the province of York. Such bishoprick is represented in the Convocation of York by the bishop, the archdeacon, and one proctor elected by the clergy. The canons passed by the Convocation are binding on the clergy in the Isle of Man to the same extent as they are on the clergy within the English dioceses of the province. And it might possibly be contended that, if none of the English Acts of Uniformity apply to the island, the Canons of 1604 (which are said to have been adopted by the York Convocation), and which include canons relating to Divine Service, and the use of the Book of Common Prayer, are in force there. If so, it is not clear to which Book of Common Prayer the canons would legally apply as regards the Isle of Man. The canons seem to have been made after the proclamation of King James 1st (5th March 1603-4) by which the use of a Book of Common Prayer somewhat altered from that of Elizabeth, or rather the Prayer Book of Elizabeth with "explanations," was ordered to be used. However, if the Book of Common Prayer rested on the authority of the canons only, the power of the Insular Legislature to legislate as it has done, with reference to Divine Service, is unaffected.
If the Act of Uniformity of Elizabeth were in force in the Isle of Man, it is doubtful whether Divine Service could be legally conducted there, except according to the Book of Common Prayer in the English language. Yet the fact is that previously to 1765 Manx written translations of the Book of Common Prayer were in general use throughout the island. By the great bulk of the population, particularly outside the towns, the English language was very little understood, and the use of the Manx language in Divine Service was a necessity. In 1765 was issued a printed edition of the Book of Common Prayer, translated into Manx for the use of the diocese of Man under the direction of Dr. Mark Hildesley, Bishop of Sodor and Man, and such translation is that which has ever since continued in use, though by reason of the wide-spread knowledge of the English tongue, particularly within the last 30 years, the occasions for its use are now rare. The translation is of the Prayer Book of 1662, thus showing that such book had superseded that of Elizabeth, and also of James 1st, if ever used. (It contains special petitions amongst the State prayers for the lord and lady and the government of the isle, and it omits the prayer for the High Court of Parliament, which was evidently not used, as the island has its own Legislature.)
The bishop and clergy of Man, assembled in synod or convocation, have on several occasions made canons applicable to the Church in the island. In the year 1703-4 (luring the episcopate or Dr. Thomas Wilson, a code of canons was adopted by the Convocation, but as they comprised matters affecting the laity, they were submitted for approval to the Insular Legislature, and they were approved and passed as an Act of Tynwald. By one of such canons it is thus provided:- "For the better government of the Church of Christ, for the making of such orders and constitutions as shall from time to time be found wanting, and that better enquiry may be made into the execution of those that are in force, there shall be (God willing) a convocation of the whole clergy of the diocese on Thursday in Whitsun week, every year after this, at the Bishop's chapel, if his Lordship be within the isle, or as soon as conveniently after his return." At the Convocation held on 16th May 1706 a special form of service for receiving penitents, to he used in churches and chapels, prepared by the bishop, was adopted, and the use of it enjoined.
It has been usual in the island for the Governor by proclamation to appoint days of public fasting, humiliation, and thanksgiving, as is done in England by authority of the Sovereign, and the bishop on such occasions has been directed to prepare forms of prayer to be used. But the bishops have frequently on their own authority directed the use of special forms of prayer or service. It has evidently been considered that the island is not bound by the Acts of Uniformity, and that the bishop by his episcopal authority has power to give, directions with respect to public worship. Bishop Wilson frequently directed the use of special forms. On 18th June 1705 he made the following order:- " It is hereby ordered (by the approbation of the Civil Government) that in the public services of the Church this petition be inserted in the Litany in the place and manner following and constantly used in all the churches within the isle; viz., 'That it may please Thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, and to restore and continue to us the blessings of the seas, so as in due time we may enjoy them.' " That order is obeyed until this day, and in the Manx translation of the Prayer Book the petition in the Litany is that altered as above by Bishop Wilson. Keble in his life of Bishop Wilson says (p.233):- " Perhaps the Act of Uniformity, not mentioning in the body of it the Isle of Man, had not been so accepted there as to take away from the bishop the common prerogative of his order, to regulate (within certain limits) the details of Divine Service in his own diocese." And (p.831):- "He used without scruple his episcopal liberty in such matters; warranted, I suppose, by the omission of the name of the island in the Act of Uniformity." Bishop Wilson prepared "A form of consecrating churches and chapels, churchyards and places of burial," which is in use at the present time, and he directed the use of a form of prayer (drawn up by himself):- "By the clergy of the diocese of Man, who, according to a laudable custom, are bound to attend the boats during the herring fishing." This form has fallen into disuse, but it was used long after the bishop's episcopate. It has been an old custom within the isle to use proper lessons on Ash Wednesday, and at the meetings of the Tynwald Court, when assembled, to promulgate new laws. There were no proper lessons for Ash Wednesday in England before 1871.
There is one view of the Acts of Uniformity in regard to their application to the Isle of Man, which, perhaps, has been considered before, namely, that the second and each subsequent Act of Uniformity repealed, though not in express words, the provisions of the previous Act, so far as it directed the use of a particular Book of Common Prayer, and, therefore, that the Act of Uniformity of Charles 2nd repealed the provisions of the Act of Elizabeth as to the use of the Prayer Book then established, not only within England, but generally throughout all the dominions of the Crown, though the use of the new Book of Common Prayer was enjoined throughout England and Wales only. There was much reason for the limitation as to the use of the new Prayer Book by the last Act of Uniformity, as the provisions of a general Act of this kind were not really applicable to the extending dominions of the Crown where there was no Established Church, and it certainly could not have been the intention of Parliament in 1662 to enjoin the use of a new Prayer Book in England and continue in use in other parts of the King's dominions the Prayer Book of Elizabeth. If this be the correct view of the Act of 1662, then all the action of the Insular Legislature, and of the Bishops of Sodor and Man, with reference to the Book of Common Prayer and the conduct of Divine Worship, was within their respective powers and was regular and duly authorised.
The Act of Parliament, 3 & 4 Vict. c. 86 (1840), the Clergy Discipline Act, does not extend to the Isle of Man. The procedure in the Insular Ecclesiastical Courts is that which has existed from ancient times, but with a few statuteable modifications. Occasionally the bishops have acted in the spirit of the English Clergy Discipline Act by referring matters of complaint against clergy to persons as commissioners, but this has been done only where the accused clergyman voluntarily submitted to the reference.
Very many of the Acts of Parliament which affect the Church and clergy do not apply to the Isle of Man. The Church Building Acts, and those relating to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, are as to the island in much confusion by reason of some being made to extend to the island, and others not so extending. Amongst the Acts relating to the clergy which are not applicable to the island are:-
I may observe that the Insular Legislature have passed Acts, in 1696 against non-residence, in 1734 and 1879 to provide for the erection and improvement of houses of residence for the clergy, and as to dilapidations, in 1844 to regulate the respective rights of outgoing and incoming incumbents as to the temporalities, and in 1880 for the appointment of Church Commissioners, who have powers somewhat similar to those of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in England as to the formation of parochial districts formed out of parishes, and the establishment of rural deaneries, &c. By the same Act provision is made against the holding two benefices together, whether the benefices be both or one within the island, and to enable the bi shop to appoint a curate to discharge the duties of an incumbent who is of unsound mind. It has never been considered to be the law of the Isle of Man that the contracts of joint stock companies or corporations are affected by reason of a clergyman being a member, nor that there is any restraint by the law of the island as to the services of episcopally ordained clergymen, whether as incumbents or curates, wherever they may have been ordained, save only where the restraint is by Act of Parliament, such as exists under the Colonial Clergy Act, 1874 (37 & 38 Vict. c. 77.), which extends to the Isle of Man. Acts have been frequently passed by the Insular Legislature with respect to parish and other churches, burial grounds, and the temporalities of the bishop and clergy. Of the latter character is the Act for the Commutation of Tithes, passed in 1839, but there is this important difference between the Manx Act and that passed in England, the collection of the tithes rentcharge is taken out of the hands of the clergy and managed by an agent appointed by the Crown, the bishop, and the clergy.
In my opinion there ought to be substantial uniformity in the law as to the Book of Common Prayer in England and the Isle of Man. At present the law is in much confusion and uncertainty. Legislation on this subject ought to be by Act of Parliament, but within certain limits provision might be made for modifications suited to local circumstances.
But as to the tribunals for matters of ecclesiastical cognisance, and the practice and procedure in the ecclesiastical courts of the island, there is no necessity for the action of Parliament. All such matters, and matters relating to the external affairs of the Church, as the Established Church of the island, ought to he left to the Insular Legislature. The removal of cases which come under the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874, to be heard by the judge of the Provincial Court in the first instance, might occasion great hardship and much unnecessary expense to suitors. There is no objection, of course, to an appeal to the Provincial Court as at present.
Attorney General for the Isle of Man.
Castletown, Isle of Man,
12th April 1882.
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