Records of the Chief Secretary's Office

Scope and Content

The earliest records of the post-revestment Government Office (now known as the Chief Secretary's Office), including Government Letter Books from 1781-1898 and subject files continuing until the 1930s, were transferred to the Manx Museum by the Government Office in the 1950s. In 1898, the Government Office appears to have ceased using letter books and moved to a system of storing records in subject files only. The papers at the Isle of Man Public Record Office now catalogued as S17 continue the sequence of Government Office subject files.

The majority of files stored at the Public Record Office date from the 1930s onwards (with the majority of earlier papers still held by Manx National Heritage Library and Archives), however some earlier 19th and 20th century files do exist amongst this series.

Due to the central role of the Government Office and Government Secretary in all core functions of Government, the subject files are a key source documenting the political and administrative history of the Isle of Man during the 19th and 20th century, including the move to self-governance.

S17/1 contains subject files created by the Government Office and Government Secretary (now known as the Chief Secretary's Office) in the course of administration of the functions of the Isle of Man Government. The majority of files date from the early-mid 20th century.

Topics covered include:

  • - appointment of key officials and civil servants;
  • - appointments and promotion of members of the Isle of Man Constabulary;
  • - preparation of Bills and passing of Acts of Tynwald, including the granting of Royal Assent;
  • - constitutional reform;
  • - granting of passenger certificates for maritime vessels;
  • - House of Keys elections;
  • - arrangements for Tynwald Day celebrations;
  • - the First World War, including arrangements for military service, peace treaties, peace celebrations, war graves and war memorials;
  • - the Second World War, including arrangements for internment camps;
  • - admission of advocates to the Manx Bar;
  • - education;
  • - customs duties and common purse arrangements;
  • - administration of justice and the Manx legal system;
  • - visits of Royalty to the Isle of Man;
  • - presence and activities of the Armed Forces on the Isle of Man;
  • - water supplies;
  • - drainage schemes;
  • - accidents;
  • - acquisition of land;
  • - Crown lands;
  • - agriculture;
  • - air travel;
  • - management of Government property;
  • - immigration and emigration;
  • - recognition of acts of bravery by members of the public;
  • - public works and development schemes;
  • - public finances, including Government loans and investments;
  • - burial grounds;
  • - electricity supply;
  • - development of the fire service;
  • - fishing industry;
  • - public health;
  • - governorship of the Island;
  • - housing;
  • - horticulture;
  • - taxation;
  • - pensions;
  • - social insurance (National Insurance Scheme);
  • - poor relief;
  • - highways;
  • - town planning;
  • - motor vehicles and traffic;
  • - unemployment;
  • - United Nations;
  • - industrial wage agreements and trade unions;
  • - church measures.

These files have numeric reference codes (for example, 27489). These files are not a complete series - gaps in the file numbering suggest more files originally existed than are preserved at the Public Record Office.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1765, the British Government purchased the Isle of Man from the Lord of Man, 3rd Duke of Atholl resulting in the revestment of sovereignty in the British Crown. The Lieutenant Governor, appointed by the Crown, became head of the administration of government for the Island reporting to English government departments, in particular the Treasury and Home Office. The Lieutenant Governor and a team of officials, headed by the principal civil servant the Government Secretary, were responsible for making and executing Government policy for the Island. In 1866, House of Keys elections were held for the first time and the momentum for Home Rule and self-government increased. This led to the gradual formation of committees for functions such as harbours and highways and the emergence of statutory boards during the late 19th century and early 20th century. However the Government Office and Government Secretary continued to play a central role in the administration of government during this period and were involved in virtually all functions.

During the 20th century, the system of boards and committees for control of core government functions continued to evolve and the Island achieved ever-increasing independence in governance. During the 1980s, the system of Boards was replaced by a ministerial system with new executive departments, such as the Treasury. Many of the functions of the Government Office were devolved to these new departments, however the Chief Secretary continues as the head of the Isle of Man Civil Service. At the time of accession, the Chief Secretary's Office is part of the Cabinet Office. The Island is now a British crown-dependency, self-governing through an independent Parliament (Tynwald), although the UK Crown continues to represent the Island in matters of foreign policy and defence.


S17/1: Subject files 1826-1982

Access Information

Part of this series in currently closed to public access. Please contact the Isle of Man Public Record Office for further information:

For information on visiting the Isle of Man Public Record Office please see our website:

Other Finding Aids

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Archivist's Note

Catalogue created by Angela Skitt, IOMPRO, 22 June 2015.

Appraisal Information

Records in S17/1 were reviewed by IOMPRO staff during September 2014 and were selected as suitable for permanent preservation.

Custodial History

Records in S17/1 were fully transferred to the IOMPRO under section 3(4) of the Public Records Act 1999 by the Cabinet Office on 22 April 2015 as part of Accession A28.

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