Isle of Man Family History Society Journal Vol 2, No 4, October 1980



We are indebted to Mrs. A. Bamford .. the 'Strays Coordinator' of the Berkshire Family History Society, for sending this entry:
Married, 22 June, 1816, at Cookham, George Augustus WOODS, of the Isle of Man, Bachelor, to Anna Maria CONEY, Spinster.

Robert Gracy

It was Mr. Robert P. Geyer who wrote to Mrs. Lyle after reading about the pictorial plate depicting The Mormon Temple at Salt Lake City, that had been left in a Peel house at a change of tenants;. The news cutting read: 'Robert Gracey of Peel in the year 1851, when he was only 16 years old, landed in America; and walked across the American continent, including the Rocky Mountains, to the California gold fields. He died in Nevada; aged 90, one of the last survivors of the Indian wars.'

At about the same time as Mr Meyer wrote I had noticed an enquiry in the July 1979 edition of what was to be the most precise and detailed Magazine of family history in the world, The Christian Family Chronicle; under Mr. Geyer's name: 'I wish to learn about John and Jane (Lord) Christian whose daughter Catherine was born 15th August 1813 in German Parish, Peel, Isle of Man, and died there, 23rd October 1899. Catherine married 9th July, 1838 Robert Gracey.'

Mr. Geyer's letter to Mrs. Lyle reveals that he is a grandson of young Robert, who had a brother Thomas. He writes: 'According to family legend Thomas went to Utah, with a Mormon aunt about 1852, when he was 10 years old. The aunt died on the way. Perhaps he walked to Utah with the Mormons. I can find no record. However, in May 1860, Thomas was in Douneyville, California, in the gold fields and had sent for his younger brother, Robert. He travelled out by clipper ship to New York, and round the Horn to California., taking 90 days on the trip. An Indian uprising in Nevada called for volunteers to protect Virginia City in May 1860, and both boys volunteered and went to Virginia City. Later both served the community in several civic offices, including assessor constable, tax collector, Justice of the peace and US commissioners. Thomas died in Butte, Montana., in 1910, and Robert in Reno, Nevada in 1934, aged 92. So there we are! See how legends are born., Time conflates brothers, and puts dates to events that belong to quite different circumstances Clearly the picture of a child waking all alone across the American continent with all its tear jerking accompaniment is the end product. But the facts were that when the convoys of covered wagons rolled westward, most of the males walked all the way, and only the women and children rode in the wagons

However, two questions still remain. How did the cutting of the 1930's get onto the plate? What indeed is the story of the plate?, And then there is Mr. Geyer's query about young Robert's grandparents. Can anyone in Peel add to the story?

[FPC - The Gracey family were Peel Based, a Robert Gracey being noted as mariner/public house licence holder from 1776, Thomas Gracey as tidesman in 1823, and John Thomas Caine states that his uncle Robert Gracey also joined the Mormons. Robert died 1851 - the mormon Aunt was possibly Jane Cubbon sister of his mother Ellinor Cubbon who is given as mother of a Mary Gracey with father John Gracey]


The Manx in American History


The President's House in Washington, DC, is, of course, now universally known as The White House, for the coat of white paint given it at the time to cover the scars of its burning by British forces during the war of 1812. It was the home once of a Manx 'first lady', the wife of President John Tyler, 10th President of the United States.

Letitia Christian, a descendant of early Manx settlers of Virginia, married Captain John Tyler on March 20th, 1813, at Charles City County: Virginia, where both had been born and raised. Subsequently, he was elected to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates, as a member of Virginia's Executive Council, as a member from: Virginia in the US House of Representatives and later in the US Senate, and as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1836 he was elected Vice President of the United States, and in 1841 upon the death of William Henry Harrison assumed: the Presidency. Letitia Christian Tyler became the First Lady of the land, and it was in the famous Blue Room of the White House that. their daughter, Elizabeth, was married in 1842. Although Tyler was to serve as President until 1845, his success was saddened in 1842 with the death in the White House of his wife Letitia Christian Tyler the Manx First Lady. . EDWARD SAYLE


Anatomy of a Manx Family

Every Irish princeling of Celtic times historians have said, could recite his ancestry back to Adam, : many a Manxman has been drawn: to genealogy by the reflection that he too is Celtic, and his own island. being so much more compact and self sufficient, his task should be the easier . But of course, it has not proved so. True,. the Island is uniquely privileged having so many relevant documents under the one Museum roof, and must remain especially grateful for the continuing services of the Mormon Church in making their contents so readily available there on microfilm. But the thrill of having so much so near only deepens the frustration of realising how relatively little help that great collection may be able to offer us individually. The microfilms of few parish records stretch further back than 1700, and they come to an uneven end somewhere in the latter half of the 19th Century Within those limits a fairly comprehensive canvas island wide and nearly 200 years long. Yet like the documents that make it up, that canvas has its holes and stains, due to human laxity or disinterest. They are fortunate researchers who can trace their roots with certitude far into the 17th Century, and any sort of sure knowledge before the compilation of the earliest Manorial Rolls for the Stanleys about the end of the 15th Century is a rare matter of happy chance. The most impressive of any display of family trees tend to show dotted lines towards the top. Blessed, we may say, are the Clagues who point to an Ogham inscription of the dark ages to certify their ancient tenure of a quarterland. But a cynic might wonder, did no one ever play Selsdon Man tricks in our Island? And even if J.J. Kneen suggests an etymological connection between your surname and hieroglyphics on a Gault Cross, or transliterates word in the Manx Chronicle into it, that hardly satisfies the College of Heralds

The Moment of such personal disillusion is a major crisis. It is so easy to lose both all heart and all interest. Yet equally it could be the moment when our eyes are opened to a broader and more satisfying vista of Family History, a when we get a second wind to go on. Hitherto we see, we have regarded genealogy as a very personal thing MY family. Now we realise that our frustration is largely due to the very size of that family, and the fact that our own outlines are blurred into it, and that we cannot distinguish the individual thread in its make up which is our self, merely makes the whole of it very much more ours. There is a new and a better thrill in the study of US rather than of just ME. Indeed the study of ME and MINE can ultimately issue in Narcissism .

At any rate; that is what has happened to me. My interest is in WE KISSACKS, and I want to offer my experience in embarking on such a study to all of you, in the hope that some of you mill be interested enough to do the same for your own Manx surname Mine is not the greatest of the tribes of Man. How much more worthwhile would he a study of the Corletts who flourish like scutch grass on the face of our island? Why have some families soared into the aristocracy, and others continued for generations as though they had never been born, quite without memorial

Years ago I found myself paging through an early Manx Society publication my father happened to have in the house, and reading list after list of the Houses of Keys, and finding a question form in my mind that one day I'd like to solve. It was: Why was there hardly ever a Keys without at least one of the family in it, until about 1640, since when I do not believe there has ever been a bearer of the name to be an M.H.K? I used to wonder who was the bearer of the name that adorned the fascia board of that great Grocer's shop in Douglas, and since has multiplied itself all ever: the island and got itself on to innumerable plastic bags? And who was responsible for the name of Engine No. 13? For alone of all those names canonised in the world flung millennium leaflets as Manx, we have had an IoM Ry engine to bear that name for us, an engine, (I noted as well) that started out its life in the same year I did my own. (I have since discovered the highly significant economic and social fact that in gaining that glorious brass and green(or red) mechanical memorial, nothing helped more than to have the Grocer for father!). And at the other end of the scale, Old St. Peter's in Peel has been a place of secret pilgrimage, to look on the piece of broken slate affixed inside the eastern gable, whereon an unpractised hand his chiselled a memorial to Elin Kisig. The heartless stone had cruelly broken just under the laboriously completed first line and so the second had to be cut over the first. Will I ever know whose daughter she was, or who thus mourned her? What sort of people have Kissacks been? Where do we all come from? What is the origin of our name?

Having once decided that my study should be of We and not of Me, I began to collect every piece of information I. could find about the none. Especially I began systematically to collate from the Museum microfilms every occurrence of the name in its various forms in the Parochial records. The Mormon indexes of baptisms and Marriages has made this a relatively simpler task, although completeness demands reeling through the transcripts of the registers themselves, since the indexes were prepared by workers in Utah who had imperfect ideas about Manx family conventions and the spelling of Manx names. But by and large for statistical analysis the indexes are sufficient. It is Just a matter of copying down parish by parish lists already compiled from the registers. In the end, you will have all to hand in your note books a cross section of the family history, island wide and a century and a half in length.

The exercise may low move into your own home, no longer dependent on rare and uncomfortable peering into the museum scanners. You will have every baptism under the name listed in chronological order, and they can easily be counted and tabulated, parish by parish, and I suggest decade by decade. in additional refinement would be to break down the figures into male and female. But it will be very easy to turn it all into a neat table, one axis for parishes, the other for decades, which totted up will tell you how many baptisms have been registered in each parish, and how those births have occurred across the century' end a half.

Of course, it will only be when someone from every one of those Millennium publicity listed families (and no doubt others too) have joined in the exercise that we will begin to be able to Flee significant demographic comparisons. But as it is now it is worth noting down the figures printed at the end of every parish index in the Mormon microfilms, which give the overall totals of baptisms (and marriages) for that parish. We thus get one very useful control for our studies. You will find that there have been getting on for 200,000 baptisms recorded in our parishes, varying from some 17,000 for German to something over 4,000 in Bride, and perhaps a quarter of the whole is accounted for by the Douglas parishes. Male baptisms systematically exceed female by about 3% of the total.

These figures will provide you with a statistical map of the Island and its population history, against which your own family's outlines can take shape. It also is useful to make a list of the census figures for the Island which go beck in one form or another to 1726, for these will also add depth to the significance of your own figures If you like making graphs you can plot the rise of the Island population in general, and lay on it the graph of the decade totals of your family births, so seeing if your family kept up or lost ground to the growth of the Island.

My first interest was to discover the variations in density of my family's population across the Island. By dividing the grand total of all the baptisms on the Island by the family total, I realised that every boy end every girl who was born onto our Mann alive had about one chance in 173 of being baptised a Kissack. If however, they chose Rushen or Ballaugh for their parish their chances would have dropped to 3666 or 3550 to 1 respectively, as a parallel use of the figures would show, whereas the odds would have increased in Lezayre to 58:l, in Santon: and Maughold to 57:1 and in Jurby to 50:1 In Douglas; it would have been 250:1 but in Ramsey only 88:1. Indeed the Four parishes of Andreas, Jurby, Lezayre and Maughold enclosing and including Ramsey, account for well nigh half the total of Kissack baptisms, although their share of the total overall baptismal figures is only between one quarter and onto fifth.

This little exercise had thus given me the equivalent of a backward view of nearly 300 years of our family and enabled me to recognise that we are in origin undoubtedly a Northside family, despite the fact that the one quarterland to bear the family name, and that. going back into the 17th Century is Ballakissack in Santon. Santon indeed scores high in baptisms 88,but Malew, Arbory and Rushen between them register only 52, as against the impressive 539 for the 4 northern parishes mentioned above

No less intriguing are the places where the name is rare Rushen shows 17 decades with not one Kissack baptism. Even more perplexing is Ballaugh, which despite its adjacency to Lezayre, Jurby and Andreas records only one family baptism in 140 years And there is appends' to this entry a notice. to the effect that this family were from Lezayre , and only came because the floods of the Sulby river that January Sunday in 1762 prevented them getting to their own parish. Church. Moreover Rushen and Ballaugh are the only 2 parishes in the 1515 edition of the Manorial Roll to show Kissacks as owners of quarterlands. Yet precisely where we would expect to find them best established, their disappearance is most complete.

Bride, one might think; of as firmly part of that. northern block of the family homelands; nevertheless it records no Kissack baptisms. in 14 decades of registers. Then three entries in the decade 1841 1850 are followed by 2 empty decades, and only. in the 1870's does there appear settled signs of the family. I call these empty periods 'nil decades', And they can tell us facts about the family analogous to the bird watcher's records of nests and breeding pairs. They tell us whether young married couples are there or not. To go three (even two) decades with nil returns strongly suggests that there can be no family presence at all, and if figures recommence, we have the interesting problem of discovering where the family came from. Even Andreas recorded 6 nil decades between 1740 1800. So too, Arbory has only one baptism in 9 decades, German has 6 nil decades ( 1700 1760) Malew in the 19th Century shows nil between 1830 and 1860, and Michael 7 nil decades in 18th and four in the 19th.

Patrick poses another sort of problem after one sole entry (in the 18th Century) in 12 decades, suddenly in the 1820's a population explosion of Kissacks begins, and by 1880 the score is 43. This is clearly associated with the mines.

The habitats of the family were in some nine parishes. Lezayre goes 20 decades without a nil, Maughold has only one nil in 19 decades, as does Braddan, 'Santon has only 1 nil (1791 1800) in 21 decades of records Douglas and . Marown have only 2 nils in 19 decades, and Onchan 5. Jurby only enters the records in 1730, and Ramsey in 1750; but show no nils afterwards.

Where, as in these perishes, there are continuos figures . It is useful to make a graph of the decade counts, preferably against a plot of the general population figures. I have found that some parishes will have a higher profile than others The towns may have a high profile, which may reflect the mobility of a town population, greater perhaps, than in the agricultural areas. In the country the greatest stability of continuance is provided by the owner farmer.

The Kissacks have only had two holdings persisting from the earliest recorded Ballakissack; in Santon and Kerrowmoar in the Abbeylands of Lezayre. Although both these families disappear from these estates about the 1880's the profiles of the two parishes show a contrast. Lezayre was a prolific parish in the 18th Century, recording 113 baptisms in the Century, peaking to 20 in the decade 1751 1760, but it was declining by 1800, and although the score for the decade 1841 1850 is 9, the presence of the name was fading fast after that. Santon on the other hand has a strongly continuing low profile. Over 21 decades its average is 4; its high is 8. There were not so many Kissack families in Santon, but the Ballakissack: family held its own economically and genetically better than Kerrormoar.

Most of the Kissacks in the; period were agricultural labourers. Though these might not move as frequently as town labourers, move they had to, especially the adolescent, and peaks and lows reflect this. But the study of the family's other occupations is another exercise, and when the records of the lash Century censuses are collated with such figures as we deal with here, the family portrait takes on further detail and colour.

R. Kissack

Index [note Rev R.Kissack subsequently wrote two books about the Kissack Family:
Seed of Isaac [1985] (now out of print) including genealogical tables
The MacIsaacs : possible origins of a Scots-Manx surname [1991]
both published Douglas by the Author.

[note poor scanning - will be corrected FPC - however I no longer have this issue so may be some time]



Elizabeth Barlow of Matamata, New Zealand, has al ready established her name in Manx Family History in gathering the New Zealand Qualtrough clan together in 1979 . she visited the Isle of Man in Summer 1980 as a first step in greater project no less than linking all the Qualtroughs of the world and maybe even tracing the family tree in its fulness,

she writes:

'In an initial meeting.and Genealogy attack',-I headed off to the Reference Section of the nearest city Library. I had roped in the assistance of. two aunts who were both very interested in the project. We took over the international phone directory section, and poured over them looking for Qualtroughs and their addresses. We returned with 50 names and addreses gathered from the Isle of Man, England, Canada, USA and Australia, I returned home and drafted an introductory letter and questionnaire. 72$ was outlaid for postage and in early May 50 letters were in the post.Now all I had to do was to wait; but not for long.

Fortified by supportive and even enthusiastic replies from England, 'foront~, k~custon and elsewhere we spent three hectic weeks on the Island.

I endeavoured to contact as many Qualtroughs as possible. Those I met and who entertained me with typical Manx hospitality, were able te give me a lot of information fir. John. Qualtrough of Braaid had been searching the family for many years during his employment at in the Rolls Office, so we had and still have much to share.Mr. John K. Qualtrough of Cronkbourne Avenue,Douglas, told me all he knew of his family history, and showed his appreciation of my work by giving me a water-colour of Bradda Head which he had painted himself. Misses Grace and Evelyn Qualtrough of Colden Road, Douglas were thrilled to exchange information with me. I was able to put them in touch with distant relatives in Canada who had answered my questionnaire. The Misses Qualtrough were able to tell me of their family's involvement in the Qualtrough ship-building yard in Douglas. Their grandfather, William, had built the 'Goldseeker', sailed it out to Australia in the early 1850's, married Eleanor Gawne in Geelong, had a daughter there, and shortly afterwards returned to start the Qualtrough Soft-drink firm to keep the work-force employed during the winter. In due course the shipyard was closed, but the drinks firm continued.

Mr. Ian Qualtrough, son of Sir Joseph, Speaker of the House of Keys for many years; and owner of J. Qualtrough & Co. Ltd., Timber Merchants, trapsed me through the Rushen, Malew and Arbory churchyards looking for Qualtrough graves. We must have found near a hundred, which I photographed, or transcribed, depending on the condition of the headstone . Ian told me much of his ancestry, and introduced me to what was to me the quaint and unusual system the Manx had for nick naming their people. I heard of Jo-Bill-Jo Qualtrough, Dick the Bumble, etc. This put a new light on research for me as it gave it a bit of a human touch.

Elizabeth came back to New Zealand in August to a hugebox full of Qualtrough mail.

Some of the new lineages I have received I have been able to slot nicely into my research and family tree. Others I am expecting to give me quite a lot of hard work ahead, as very little is known especially by several Qualtroughs in America. Correspondence in all cases continues to Great Britain and North America, as I ask them all for further information. They are in many cases, on first name terms, and feel as if we had known each other for years.

Our Journal then most gladly offers itself in anto her appeal:

'Please can you assist me in my project to contact with QUALTROUGHS, and also gather QUALTROUGH references. If overseas members check their PHONE DIRECTORIES, and/or ELECTORAL ROLLS for addresses, and send me any they can locate, I would most appreciate it. I bellieve there is a big congregation of Manx descendants in OHIO. Can anyone give me a contact in that area? Perhaps a Manx Society? If members in the Isle of Man are transcribing (or just walking through) churchyards/cemetaries and come across any Qualtrough headstones, a transcription be most appreciated. (Note that Rushen, Onchan and Malew have been thoroughty done). If you are reading Census Returns or parish Record of any of the other 14 parishes orators, and across any Qualtrough references, these would be very thankfully received. Any expenses will be gladly refunded. Please send info:to:
ELIZABETH BARLOW Banks Road, Matamata,
New Zealand [note this address no longer holds]

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