It was Sir John Stanley, Lord of Man, who ordered the 1417 Law to be set down, and it is right and poignant that his descendant, Edward Stanley, the 19th Earl of Derby, should have kindly accepted my invitation to come as a guest on Tynwald Day to help us mark the 600th anniversary and celebrate our long unbroken history of parliamentary tradition.’
From the first recorded Tynwald Day in 1417, the Day had traditionally been held on 24th June, which is the feast day of St John the Baptist and also Midsummer’s Day. However, in 1753, the Isle of Man legislated to replace the Julian Calendar with the Gregorian Calender after Great Britain had done so in the previous year: making a difference of 11 days. However, the legislation retained the Julian Calendar for the purpose of determining Tynwald Day stating that “Midsummer Tynwald Court shall be holden and kept … upon or according to the same natural Days upon or according to which the same should have been so kept or holden … in case this Act had never been made.” Hence Tynwald Day occurred on 24 June in the Julian Calendar, but on 5th July according to the Gregorian Calendar. It was not subsequently moved back to 7th July, even though the Gregorian Calendar is now 13 days ahead of the Julian Calendar as the Gregorian Calendar had no Leap Day in 1800 or 1900. As a result – if Tynwald Day occurs on a Saturday or Sunday, it is normally commemorated on the next Monday as it was in 2008 and 2009.
Each year on Tynwald Day the Tynwald Court participates at the Tynwald Day Ceremony at St John’s. After a religious service in the Royal Chapel, the members of Tynwald process to Tynwald Hill, one of the ancient open air sites of Tynwald. Following the proceedings on Tynwald Hill, presided over by the Lieutenant Governor, the members of Tynwald return to the Royal Chapel where a formal sitting of Tynwald takes place. By statute, each Act of Tynwald must be promulgated on Tynwald Hill within eighteen months of enactment or it ceases to have effect. Promulgation of the Acts takes place on Tynwald Day and the promulgation is certified at the sitting of Tynwald at St John’s.
Any person may approach Tynwald Hill on Tynwald Day and present a Petition for Redress. If the Petition is in accordance with the Standing Orders of Tynwald, any Member of Tynwald may subsequently request that Tynwald consider the substance of the petition. Matters are indeed redressed by this simple but ancient procedure which can lead directly to the enactment of legislation.
Today – Wednesday July 5th 2017 – will serve as an occasion to welcome two visiting units from the Royal Air Force as they perform their ceremonial roles and add to the colour and spectacle of the formal proceedings. Manned exclusively by officers and airmen of the RAF Regiment, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary, the Queen’s Colour Squadron will form the guard of honour. The squadron is the RAF’s only dedicated ceremonial unit, but also has an operational role as 63 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment.
Joining the squadron will be the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment which, in additional to its ceremonial duties, undertakes operational support roles around the world.
The proceedings will also serve as an opportunity to recognise the 600th anniversary of the Customary Law Act. The President of Tynwald, Steve Rodan MLC, said: ‘The Customary Law of 1417 is the earliest Manx statute we have in writing. It is significant because it sets out in detail the Tynwald Day ceremony itself – the very pattern which we follow on Tynwald Hill in St John’s to this day. Even back then it was referred to as “the constitution from old times” so we can see that our ancient ceremonial was already rooted in the distant past way back then.