Manx Genealogy Archive 2

Fair & Unfair (?) Maids of Milntown

This query opes in a way that seems to have no connection with the legendary Fair Maids of Milntown, but does so in a very clear way.

I was looking for the Sarah Kerr who married Thomas Arthur Corlett. Kerr or Carr was not a common name on the Island, and I have only been able to trace one girl of this name in a century. Sarah Kerr was seemingly born on 18 February 1740, and baptised at St Matthew's church in Douglas on 18 April 1740 to Dr Andrew Kerr and Mary Christian, who had married at Maughold on 16 October 1729. The couple's four children, John, baptised 1731 and buried in 1741, Arthur George, baptised 1734, Thomas baptised in 1737 and Sarah in 1740 were all christened at St Matthews, but the couple were married in Maughold. There were one or two doctors practising on the Island in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but Andrew Kerr seems to be hitherto unrecorded.

Someone said facetiously that I would have no difficulty in finding a Mary Christian, my only problem would be to find the right one !

Frances, as is so often the case, produced an important lead. When James Christian of Leyayre died on 5 July 1778, he left a detailed will which was proven in 1779, from which it turned out that he was lately of Islington, London. He named as his executors Arthur George Kerr, James Christian, a sugar broker of London, and his nephew Deemster Moore. This suggests that James Christian and Deemster Moore’s mother were siblings, and that Arthur George Kerr was also descended from the same family. Captain James Christian (1670-1742), the son of Deemster Edward Christian of Milntown, married a Jane Barton, the couple producing no fewer than thirteen children. Their son James who was born 12 January 1704/05 became a solicitor in London, which would explain the Islington connection. Their daughter Jane married Captain Charles Moore, his children including Thomas Moore, who was born in 1726, became Deemster and died in 1794. Captain Christian and Jane Barton also had a daughter Mary, who was baptised 16 October 1707. No details are usually given for her, but it seems probable that it was this Mary Christian who married Dr Andrew Kerr in 1729, and bore a son Arthur George Kerr in 1734. The three executors to James Christian’s estate in 1779 were therefore first cousins representing three branches of the family of their grandfather Captain James Christian.

It has been suggested that the girl that Dr Andrew Kerr married was one of the legendary “Fair Maids of Milntown” but this Mary was born c1687 so would have been 53 by the date of her last delivery, which seems unlikely. The “Fair Maids” who were the daughters of Ewan Christian (1651-1719) were first cousins to the large brood of children reared by Ewan’s brother, Captain James Christian, both families apparently living at Milntown at the same time. Indeed the youngest of the Fair Maids arrived after the first few of Captain James Christian’s “maids”.

Was the name "The Fair Maids" contemporary, and if so, did people distinguish between the “Fair Maids” proper, and the “Unfair” Maids, of did people look in disbelief at Ewan’s ten girls and their NINE cousins by James, and summarise the lot as “Fair Maids” which sounds more plausible to me !

If you meet a charming young lady from Milntown, do you say to her "Are you a Fair Maid or an xxxxxxxxxxx" . If she isn't, then she is gonna be really miffed.

There is a suggestion that Dr Kerr was of “Lough-ny-guiy”. With the death of Andrew’s eldest son John, the estate presumably passed to Arthur George Kerr, so it may be that Thomas Arthur Corlett bought that land that was to become the Corlett home from his brother-in-law

1 I believe I have outlined the correct Mary that Andrew Kerr married, but if anyone has any confirmation or corrections shoot away.

2 Fair Maids - Was the name contemporary, and did it apply to Ewan's 10 girls, or did it embrace Captain's James contribution, which at nine, gave the official Fair Maids, a tough challenge. Lets hope the 19 girls never got to fighting over boyfriends !

3 Loughan-y-EIgh - Does anyone have any comments re Kerr ownership ?