The Constitution of Old Time
First among the customary laws that were written down in 1417 was the procedure for Tynwald Day. As its description of ‘the Constitution of Old Time’ suggests, this law describes the practice originally established by the Vikings in the 10th century AD. The name of Tynwald comes from the Old Norse Thingvöllr, meaning meeting place or assembly field, the place where the Vikings met to uphold the law, settle disputes, and make decisions affecting the community. While the function of Tynwald Day has evolved over the centuries, Tynwald continues to this day to meet in the open air once a year, on old midsummer’s day, at Tynwald Hill in St John’s.
At the same time as the customary law of 1417 describes an age-old ceremony, it also asserts the authority of the Stanleys as the newly established Lords of Man. The procedure for Tynwald Day, along with the other customary laws that accompany it, vividly represents the desired relationship between the Lord of Man and his subjects, in particular asserting his primacy over the ecclesiastical Barons.
The Procedure for Tynwald Day
OUR DOUGHTFUL AND GRATIOUS LORD, this is the
Constitution of old Time, the which we have given in our
Days, how yee should be governed on your Tynwald Day.
First, you shall come thither in your Royal Array, as a
King ought to do, by the Prerogatives and Royalties of the
Land of Mann. And, upon the Hill of Tynwald sitt in a
Chaire, covered with a Royall Cloath and Cushions, and,
your Visage into the East, and your Sword before you,
holden with the Point upward; your Barrons in the third
your Deemsters before you sitting; and your Clarkes, your
Knights, Esquires and Yeomen, about you in the third
in, before your Deemsters, if you will ask any Thing of
them, and to hear the Government of your Land, and your
the Hill, with three Clearkes in their Surplisses. And
in their Hands, with their Weapons upon them, either
Sword or Axe. And the Moares, that is, to Witt of every
Sheading. Then the Chief Coroner, that is the Coroner of
that noe Man make any Disturbance or Stirr in the Time
of Tinwald, or any Murmur or Rising in the King's
Presence, upon Paine of Hanging and Drawing. And
then shall let your Barrons and all other know you to be
received the Land as Heyre Apparent in your Father's
Days. And all your Barrons of Man, with your worthiest
much as you are, by the Grace of God, now King and Lord
of Man, yee will now that your Commons come unto you
and shew their Charters how they hould of you. And your
Barrons, that made no Faith nor Fealtie unto you, that they make now.
And if any of your Barrons be out of the Land, they shall have the
Space of Fourty Days. After that they are called in to come
Shew whereby they houlde and clayme Lands and Tenements,
Within your Land of Man; and to make Faith and Fealtie,
if Wind and Weath served them, or els to cease their
Temporalties into your Hands. And then to proceed in your Matters,
whatsoever you have To doe, in Fellony or Treason,
or other Mattters that touch the Governaunce of your Land of Manne.
At the time, all of the barons of the Isle of Man were representatives of the Church.
The people of the Isle of Man. They stand outside the Court, which is fenced by the Coroner of Glenfaba.
Representatives of the six sheadings, administrative districts of the Island.
The Coroner of the sheading in which Tynwald Hill is located. Described as the Chief Coroner, it is his responsibility to fence (‘shall make Affence’) the Court.
The two High Court Judges of the Isle of Man.
A formal acknowledgement of loyalty to the Lord of Man.
These are likely to have been sergeants or officers of the sheriff. They may have physically fenced the Court. This office no longer exists.
This is thought to be the members of the House of Keys.