The long-running bitter disputes
between the House of Keys and the Duke of Atholl (as Lord of Mann)
came to a climax in 1765 when the British Parliament passed the
Isle of Man Revesting Act to curb smuggling in the Irish Sea. The
Duke of Atholl was 'persuaded' to sell his rights to collect customs
duties on the Island to the British Crown.
Much of Manx commerce was viewed as illegal smuggling by the British
Customs, but as legitimate trade by the Manx merchants. Lower rates
of taxes and duties were paid legally to the Lords of Mann on goods
entering the Isle of Man, but, if on their subsequent delivery to
Britain duties were avoided, this was not seen as being the concern
of the Manx authorities.
since 1737, the Dukes of Atholl had imposed taxation on the Isle
of Man only in agreement with Tynwald. This changed after the 1765
Revestment with the British Government assuming all rights to impose
and collect heavier duties on the Island. This left the Island's
authorities with no money with which to improve the roads, harbours
or public buildings.
The powerless state of the Keys led to a petition of 800 signatures
being collected in 1780. This called for the Keys to be dissolved
and to be replaced with an elected body. It was hoped that an elected
Parliament could more effectively challenge the British Government
in Westminster, which was now ultimately responsible for the Island.
Although the Keys were unable to
make any changes that cost money, they were able to bring about
important social changes, in particular the repeal in 1777 of regulations
and restrictions which obliged Manx workers to take certain jobs
for low wages. The system had been abused by the Duke of Atholl's
officials, who had been able to compulsorily obtain cheap labourers
and servants by a system known as 'yarding'.