[From Manx Families, A.W.Moore, MS 1889]

Christian’s of Milntown, Isle of Man and Ewanrigg Hall, Cumberland


[Appeared in Manx Note Book No 1 p17/20, 1885]

Arms: Azure a chevron confrée, between three chalices OR.

Crest: a unicorn’s head argent, erased, armed and crested OR.

Motto: Salus per Christum



A family of Scandinavian origin, the MacCristens, or Christins, or, as they now call themselves, Christians 1, must have attained an important position in the Isle of Mann at an early date, as John McCristen, the first of whom there is any record, was one of the Judges or Deemsters in 1408 and a Member of the Tynwald Court in 1422. Of his three successors, who also bore the name of John, the first was seated at Altadale, in the Parish of Lezayre; the second was Deemster, from 1500-1510, and the third was also Deemster from 1511-1535. This later acquired the property adjoining Altadale and called the whole Milntown. He was the first to put the Manx Laws in writing. Daniel, his brother, was the ancestor of the Christians of Baldroma, in Maughold. His sister married Garret of Ballabrooie, and his eldest daughter Samsbury 2 of Ronaldsway. John, his second son, was Water-Bailiff. William, the eldest, who was Deemster with his father, succeeded to the estate in 1535, but died four years afterwards. William’s second son, Robert, was also Deemster. From him the Christians of Lewaigue, in Maughold, are descended. Ewan, the fourth in descent from William, changed his name from MacCristen to Christian. He succeeded to the property in 1593 3. In 1605, when only 26 years old, he was made Deemster, and held that office 51 years. He was also Deputy-Governor of Peel Castle, and the most influential man in the Island. His sister, Jane, married Thomas Samsbury of Ronaldsway, and died without progeny. He purchased that estate from her trustees, and presented it, in 1643, to her third son, William, the famous ‘Iliam Dhone.’ John,4 his eldest son, who died before him, was Assistant-Deemster. 5 His eldest daughter, Mabel, born in 1599, was John Curghey of Ballakillingan’s second wife. Ewan,6 John Curghey’s son, by his first wife, married Margaret, born in 1617, a younger sister of Mabel’s. Ewan was succeeded in 1656 by his grandson Edward, who was also Deemster. Edward’s eldest son, Ewan, purchased the property of Ewanrigg Hall, in Cumberland, (circa 1680), and also succeeded to the Milntown property on his father’s death in 1693. His eldest son, John, married Bridget, daughter of Humphrey Senhouse, of Netherhall, a lineal descendant of King Edward the First. Of his numerous 7 daughters, several married into Manx families—Ann to one of 8 the Bacons of Ballabrooie, (Major Cæsar Bacon was her grandson); Jane to Thomas Moore, of the Abbey; Elizabeth to William Fine of Ballahott; Alice to Quayle Curphey, of Ballakillingan; Margaret to Thomas Wattleworth, of Peel: she had two daughters, one of whom, Elizabeth, was Archdeacon Moore’s and W.F. Moore’s grandmother; the other, Margaret, married her first cousin, Joseph, son of Thomas, vicar of Crosthwaite, in Cumberland, who was Edward Christian’s fifth son. From him are descended a branch of the family who are numerously represented at the present day. We may mention Ewan and Joseph Henry Christian, architects of the Church Commissioners; Henry Bailey, Member of Council at the Cape of Good Hope; Henry, Admiral and Chief-Constable of Gloucestershire; Alfred, George, and William Christian, Merchants, and Mrs. W.F. Moore, of Cronkbourne.

To return to the elder branch, John, the eldest son of John and Bridget Senhouse, married Jane, daughter of Eldred Curwen, of Workington Hall, Cumberland. He was High Sheriff for Cumberland in 1766. His third son, Charles, married Ann, daughter and heiress of Jacob Dixon, of Moreland Close, and had issue, who still possess that property. Their second son x1, Fletcher, was mate of H.M.S ‘Bounty,’ and leader of the mutineers. He settled in Pitcairn’s Island, where he married an Otaheitan woman, by whom he had a son, called ‘Thursday October,’ and a daughter, who married the Rev. G.H. Nobbs, the chaplain of the Island. Thursday October Christian died in 1850. His grandson, Andrew, now 41 years old, has a numerous family. In 1856, the whole community, consisting of 194 souls, viz., 40 adult males, 47 adult females, 54 boys, and 53 girls, were transferred to Norfolk Island, where land was allotted to them by the English Government. Mary, daughter of the above John and Bridget Senhouse, married Edward Law, D.D, Bishop of Carlisle, and had issue, among others, a son, who became Lord Ellenborough. John, the High Sheriff, died in 1767, and was succeeded by his son John, then a child of twelve years old, who, in 1775, married (first) Margaret, daughter of John Taubman of Castletown. (John Taubman had married Esther, daughter of Deemster Nicholas Christian of Ballastole, a distant connection of the Milntown Christians. From him are descended the Goldie-Taubmans, of the Nunnery.) By her he had issue John, who became Deemster, and who succeeded to the Christian properties. Margaret Christian, neé Taubman, died in 1778. In 1782, he married Isabella, heiress of Henry Curwen, of Workington Hall, his first cousin, and assumed the name of Curwen. He was one of the first agriculturalists of his day, and he held a high position in the House of Commons 9. His descendant, Henry Curwen, is the present proprietor of Workington Hall. Deemster John Christian’s son, William Bell Christian, Receiver General, M.C., M.A., J.P., the 19th in descent from John MacCristen, is the present proprietor of the family estates 10. His eldest son, Ewan John, is Commissioner of Police at Kimberley, South Africa.


1 James the VIIth Earl of Derby writing to his son, in 1643, says-" There be many of the Christians in this Country-that is Christins, For that is the true name; but they have made themselves chief here., [see Manx Soc vol III pt Ch17]

2 Samsbury, now Sansbury

3 William, Ewan’s father, inherited in 1593 –ed, JM Oates, 1999

4 He was imprisoned in Peel Castle by Lord Derby in 1648 and died shortly afterwards [in 1650]

5 Editor’s note: See Archdeacon Will 1708 #38, Lezayre, of Mr. Valentine Christian, proved 18 Jun 1708, presumed died some time before, in Addenda. Valentine is a son of Edward.

6 This Ewan Christian, together with his namesake of Lewaigue, and John Stevenson, of Balladoole, was appointed by the House of Keys, in 1703, to treat with the Earl of Derby concerning "several disputes, questions, and differences . . . between the Lords of the Isle and their tenants," which were than arranged by the ‘Act of Settlement.’ (See the preamble to that Act in the Statute Law Book.)

7 Seven daughters

8 Editor’s correction [jmo]: It was a daughter of Capt. James Christian that was married to Joseph Bacon. (Of the two remaining daughters, Mary married Mr. Kerr of Lough-ny-guiy, maternal grandfather of T. A. Corlett, and Sarah married Mr. Kilpatrick.) [fpc: It would appear unlikely that fair maid Mary married Mr Kerr as she would have been 53 at birth of last child; a mary Christrian m Dr Andrew Kerr at Maughold 1729 - Mary is likly d/o of James judging from 1779 will of James Christian late of Islington]

9 A short Biography will be given under the head of " Manx Worthies," in a future number.
[note never appeared as such but Moore did have an entry in
Manx Worthies Ch3 pp73]

10 His 1st wife, Miss Brine, a descendant of John and Bridget Christian (above) died without issue. [fpc - He married Charlotte Brine, daughter of T Brine the Castletown architect but doubt her descent from the Christians - other information indicates 6 children - this footnote was removed from the published version]

x1 Fletcher Christian has been variously described as 6th or even 10th son Charles Christian md Ann Dixon 2 May 1751; children: 1) John b 27 Aug 1752, d 14 Jun 1791; 2) Ewan b 21 Jul 1754, d 3 May 1757; 3) Jacob 18 Jun 1756, d 24 Apr 1757; 4) Edward b 3 Mar 1758, d 29 Mar 1823; 5) Mary b 1 Oct 1760, d 13 Aug 1786; 6) Charles b 18 Jul 1762; 7) Fletcher b 25 Sep 1764, d 23 Sep 1793; 8) Frances b 24 Aug 1766, d 7 Sep 1766; 9) Ann b 24 Aug 1766, d 25 Aug 1766; 10) Humphrey b 23 Dec 1767.

I have attempted to illustrate the family based on the above information - mostly drawn from Mrs Hicks Beach Yestersdays behind the Door + some baptismal information etc (eg from Burke) - more to be added
  John     =   ?
  William  = ?
  d 1539   |
         |               |                  |  
Deemster |               |            Vicar |       
    William IX = ?     Robert =          John  =
               |         |                     |
               |      (Lewaigue)               +------------------------------------------------+     
               |                                                                                |
        +------+----------------------------------------------+                             +---+--------------+
        |                                                     |                             | 
Deemster|                                                     |   (Ronaldsway)         Capt |   1627
      Ewan X =  ? Harrison                                  Jane = Thomas Samsbury         Edward = Elizth Maycott
      b1559  |                                          db1665
      d1655  |
        |                               |                               |                            |
Deemster|                       Receiver|                               | (2)            (1)         |
      John  XI =  Margt Parker         William = Elizth Cockshutt     Mabel = John Curghey = ?     Margaret
      d1675    |                 (Illiam Dhone)|                      b1599                |          |
               |                   shot 1663   v                                           |          |
               |                                                                         Ewan = ------+
        |                            |
Deemster|                            |
     Edward XII = Dorothy Wilson    Charles
      b1628     |                   b1644 
      d1693     |                   d1696
                |   (6 sons  + 5 daus)
      |     [1677]                                                         
    Ewan XIII =  Mary Cain  
   b1651      |                                                           
   d1719      |                                                            
      +-------+------------------------+---------------+---------------->10 daughters (Fair Maids of Milntown)--+-------------------+-----------------------+---------------------+-----------------------+----->
      |                                |               |                                                        |                   |                       |                     |                       |                
      |  1717                          |         Vicar | (1)1728            (2)           (3)1741               |                   |                       |                     |                       |  1728  Ballakillingan      
    John XIV = Bridget Senhouse      William       Thomas  =  Elizth Monkhouse  = Jane Scott  = Emma Naylor   Mary = John Fletcher Margt = Thos Crakeplace Jane = Wilfred Clark Martha = Robert Tubman Alicia = Quayle Curghy 
   b1688     | d1749                                b1697  |    d1734           |  d1737      |               b1687                b1689                 b1695/6                b1698                  b1702  |   
   d1745     |                                      d1770  |                    |             |
             |                                             v                    v             v
             |                                            2dau                 son d. unm    Joseph = Margt Wattleworth
      |                |                             |                     |                    |                  |               |                       |                 |                              |      |                     |                       |
      |                |                             |                     |                    |                  |               |                       |                 |                              |      |                     |                       |
    Ewan XV         John XVI = Jane Curwen          Humphrey            Charles = Ann Dixon   Mary = Edwd Law    Anne = ? Bacon  Jane = Charles Moore Elizabeth = Wm Fine  Margaret = Thomas Wattleworth  Isabel Sarah = ? Kilpatrick   Martha                  Emma  
    b1718           b1719    |                    vicar Docking           b1729 |                  |                  |               |                         |                   |                          
    d1752           d1767    | d1776                 |  Norfolk           d1768 |                  v                  v               v                         v                   v                          
                             |                    Edward                        |
                             |                       |                          +--~~--+--~~
                             |                      (x)                             Fletcher
                             |                                                        b1764
                  |                              |                        |      |                     |                   |       (x)              |                 
         (1)1775  |      (2)1778                 |    1774                |      |  1769               |                   |        | 1st cousin    | 
Margt Taubman = John  XVII = Isabella Curwen   Dorothy = John Taubman  Bridget Julia = Edward Stanley Jane = Wm Blamire  Frances = Edwd Christian  Mary 
   d1778      | b1754      |                   b1757   |                               (Workington)                              |  (Norfolk )
              | d1829      |                   d1784   |                                                                         v(took name Hare)
     +--------+            | Curwen                   (c)
     |                     +----------------+-----+---+----+-----+-------+
     |                                      |     |   |    |     |       |
   John XVIII = Susanna Allen             Henry  Wm Edwd John Bridget Christian_Frances

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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