Captain of the Parish

Mr Ray Gawne, Captain of the Parish of Arbory

The office of Captain of the Parish originated in Viking times, when the Island was defended by a system of militias based on the sheadings and later on the parishes. All able bodied men were obliged to participate and the Captains of the Parish were in overall command and mustered the militias in times of trouble.

This continued in various forms until the 1800’s and after that the Captains’ responsibilities tended to be more civil than military. Civil duties included mustering working parties to carry out public works such as road building, keeping order at fairs, the establishment of parochial schools – many of the things that central government and the parish commissioners are now responsible for.

The duties of the Captain of the Parish are now largely ceremonial – he attends at Tynwald Hill on Tynwald Fair Day each year – but one duty, the Requisition Meeting, remains. If an issue of public concern arises and a number of electors of a parish make a formal request to the Captain , he is obliged to call a public meeting to have the matter debated. The link back his role in earlier centuries is obvious.