Early Emigration

Early Emigration

The Manx Legislature had, indeed, placed special difficulties on the emigration of the Manx people. One of the earliest laws in the Statute Book had directed that no-one born and resident in the Island should leave it without the Governor’s license and had branded disobedience to the law as felony. In 1655 the law was strengthened,

“and it was ordered that whosoever shall transport any men or women servants out of the Isle without special license first had and procured from the Governor . . . shall forfeit and be proceeded against in the strictest and severest manner that by law shall or may be instituted for every tyme offendinge.”

But even this Act was not found stringent enough. The Governor’s pass was too easily procurable; and the Legislature in 1715 had to confess that:

“the servants of this Island, both men and women, as soon as they attain the age of sixteen or seventeen years, and fit to serve in the country, do, under the notion of necessity or other pretence, obtain license, and serve their whole lives in other countrys . . . whereby this island is no better than a nursery for other places, and the useful servants going off, and but a few left, besides such depraved, useless, or inactive people who are rather a burden than any real service to the Island, upon which will inevitably ensue the utter decay, not only of husbandry and tillage, but also of all kinds of trade.”


(source: The Land of Home Rule; an essay on the History and Constitution of the isle of Man by Spencer Walpole, (1893); artwork is by Thomas Falcon Marshall, ‘Emigration – The Parting Day’ http://bit.ly/1LflnWw)

Bernadette Weyde

Bernadette Weyde

I'm a web designer, amateur historian and keen gardener and I enjoy bringing Manx history, folklore and poetry to a modern audience.


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