Chris Callow opened several interesting books for our inspection – the Liber Assedationis, or setting books, listing all the Lord of Mann’s lands and the names of tenants from the early 16th century; the Liber Vastarum, the wast books, showing changes of tenancy; plus Barony records, composition books and property deeds. James Wood’s Atlas of 1867 provided a very useful way of locating properties – something for which we have to thank the necessity of working out the appropriate property tax for the support of what was then known as the Lunatic Asylum which had been built at Ballamona in 1860. A useful and attractive edition of the Manorial Rolls had been published by Rev Theophilus Talbot in 1924. Chris had learned to appreciate all these records during his work as an advocate, and has since applied his knowledge of them to his own family research. He showed how the information available across the records could be correlated to glean even more.
From early times, permission was given to take in land to create new holdings, and this was called intack. Sometimes this was an extension to existing holdings, but completely new holdings were also created. The difference between intack and other established parts of a holding can be seen in the various charges levied on them. The development of intack holdings shows pressure of population and suggests climatic differences, too, when farming was made possible at a higher altitude.
In particular, Chris dipped into his family history in relation to the Crammag, much of which now lies submerged under the Sulby Reservoir. His grandmother Bessie was the last of the Crammag Cowleys, born there in 1896. Later the family had moved to The Creggans, above Tholt-y-Will. The Cowley family was also associated with The Close. The Cowleys of The Close including the notable preacher, Illiam y Close, referred to in the Manx song, Ushtey millish ‘sy gharee.
Grateful thanks go to Chris for sharing his expertise and the fruits of his research with us.