Isle of Man Family History Society Journal Vol 4 No 4 Oct 1982



FRANCIS LASNON, and the Story of the POOR HOUSE

At the far end of Fort Street, Douglas, which is at the left hand side of the Victoria Street car park, is a very interesting house. For many years it was known as the Old Poor House, today it is the store for flowers and plants belonging to Clucas the Florists, of 54 Duke Street. It is a two storey building and in 1835 stood out on the shore; there is a retaining wall, "a bullnose", rising from ground level to some seven feet, that would have repelled the waves rolling inshore.

In 1786, the piece of land on which this new house stands was bought by Francis Lasnon from the widow of Alexander Pikeman; on this site he built the house, the same house that can been seen today, together with a cow shed and an extensive yard.

At the end of September 1788 while Lasnon was busy making the final arrangements for the occupation of his new built house, he must have realised that he was about to die. He made and signed his Will on the 29th September, and died 2 days later, As he had requested in his will, he was buried at the upper end or North side of Onchan churchyard on 4th October. Ten years later J. Feltham and Ed. Wright record that there was a stone over this grave having the following inscription:- "Francis Lasnon of Douglas, died 2nd October 1788, aged 39 years".

All that seems to be known about Francis Lasnon was that he was a shopkeeper and that he left his house and concerns to the Poor of Douglas forever. It was not until June 1817 that this building was used to house the Poor, and in 1818, there were six adults and four children living in Lasnon's house. In 1822 there were six males and six females. The oldest was a man called "old Cringle", who was 90 yrs old, and the oldest woman being 84. There were three boys who aged 10, 12, and 17 yrs old. At this time the number of people getting money from the St. Matthew's Charity was 150. (Widow Morrison, aged 99 was getting help from St. Matthew's Charity, but was still living in her Home in Sand Street).

In 1840, a Doctor Spencer was appointed. His duties were to visit people in their own home, look after the dispensary that had been started in Lasnon's House, and attend the Patients in the 'House of Industry'. It was proposed to open a Hospital of twelve beds for fever cases: This does not seem to have happened, but the dispensary continued until it was transferred to the first hospital in Douglas in 1850 (This building was at the other end of Fort Street). From 1840 and for many years after that Lasnon's House was used by the Ladies for making and dispensing of soup.

But who was Francis Lasnon ? The contents of his will, inventory of his possessions tell an interesting story. His shop was well stocked with rolls of dimity, printed and plain nankeen linen, buckles, buttons, thimbles and other trifles. There were 11 pairs of leather britches, 6 pairs of nankeen, and 2 of silk, many silk waistcoats, black and coloured, a parcel of white and coloured thread, stockings, gloves, sheets, table-clothes and handkerchiefs, which all seem to have belonged to the shop. There were boot-makers lasts, leather and beeswax; was he making boots as well as britches ?

Among the many different items on the inventory were 34½ dozen glass bottles. Further down the list there is a pestle and mortar, a brewing pan of brass, 6 lances, a lump of alum and a box of ginger. Was he making and selling medicines or just selling these things ? Probably his last activity was salting down herrings. Ten tonne of salt, several barrels and one barrel of salt herrings are on the list. He had a decked boat, fully equipped, a punt and a fishing yawl, as well as a warp mill.

His house was full of interesting things, a box of books, several pictures, two dictionaries, a walnut chest of drawers, a mahogany table, a time piece clock, utensils for making coffee and tea spice, boxes of looking glasses and a well equipped kitchen,among what seems to be his personal things were a spy glass, two snuff boxes, a watch with a key and chain, a ring, a gun and pistol.

Anyone passing that fine new house in 1788 would probably have seen blue and white curtains in every window, a sundial in the yard and a heifer if it was not in the cow shed. Somewhere around there was a cart and horses trappings, a wheelbarrow and other various implements.

He had a shag green travelling case and two trunks; he was no ordinary traveller. The umbrella mentioned in the inventory is of interest. It was valued at the price of one shilling. Was the frame covered in oiled silk ? (In 1823 Charles Mackintosh was on his way to London, and has hoping to visit the Duke of Athol. He had sent a 'waterproof umberella to the Dutchess'. A new process that he patented in 1824).

Lasnon left a legacy for his god-daughter, Jane Grandon [sic Grandin in will]. She was the child of Ettenne Bienvenu and Jane Cain, baptised 24th August 1784 at Kirk Braddan. Grandon was a dyer by trade. Were these two men (Lasnon & Grandon) friends who had left Holland or France working together dyeing cloth ? There was blue, bleach and white lead on the inventory. There was a parcel of old silver and a special cup. If only these items had been opened out and given in detail, how much more would they have told of this bachelor. The box of papers and other trifles would have been a great help.

His executors were two of his employees, John Quilliam, -who was a weaver, and James Curphy the labourer. James Curphy seems to have been an honest and trusted servant. His two sons, Thomas and James were left £10 each. These boys ? signed their names, but their father could not do so. Lasnon had requested that James Murphy, (the father) to see that Isabella Curren was paid her legacy while she was under age. This girl was the daughter of James Curren, mariner, and Judith Curren. Judith Curren had been Lasnon's housekeeper. In the will she was left "one shilling to my late housekeeper". This speaks for itself. There was a cot on the inventory, also a black gown that was claimed by Judith Warren. Others mentioned were Robert Sayle [sic I read Robert Fayle prob son Paul Fayle & Deborah Faragher bapt 1780 at St Marks ], son of Paul Sayle, left £10, Daniel Crogan, left £10, apprentices John and James Gell, sons of Isabella Gell, widow, each were left £5.

Lasnon's signature was witnessed by Margaret Clague, (was she the new housekeeper ?) and Thomas Mullan.

When Lasnon bought the land to build a new house in 1786, he must have had no idea that he would be dead at its completion in 1788. Yet he knew that he was about to die when he made his will. What was he suffering from ? Probably Pulmonary Tuberculosis. He had started coughing up blood, but this is only a wild guess on my part.


 [see also Vol 12 #2 pp60/62]


Memorials of God's acre - Quilliam

St. Peter's Church, Peel



John Quilliam, of Patrick, 30th March



Philip Quilliam, died 13th January



Thomas Quilliam, died 13th August
"Mourn not, dear friends, for my decease,
For I with Christ have made my peace,
Life is uncertain, death is sure,
Sin gave wound, Christ the cure."





Isabel Oats, wife of Robert Quilliam, 22nd December



Robert Quilliam





John Quilliam, of East Folieu, buried 10th March





Isabella William, daughter of Thomas and Mary Quilliam,
23rd June, an infant




Since the July edition of the journal, many additions to the "Christian's of Ballabeg" have been received. A photocopy of a picture from Alan Fryer of Ballabeg, Arbory, with my grandfather John (Joey) Christian 1881-1953 as a member of the 'Patrick Glee Club'. A letter and a 'pocket' album with various photographs from Mrs. Mildred Rigby of Leyland ,Lancashire. She says: "Your article on the Christian Family in this quarter's magazine interested me very much. I recognised immediately the photograph of John - did you know that he always signed himself as Joey ? - he was a prolific sender of postcards in the late 19c., to Mrs. Goodier who lived in Preston, whose hobby was collecting postcards. I have been looking all over the house for a photograph I know I have somewhere of 'Joey' in the Gondoliers costume which he wore when he sang in the Gilbert & Sullivan production. When it eventually turns up, I will let you have it. (Thank you)

I knew that John James Clague married Jane Christian from Surby and it is nice to see her with her family, I hadn't realised that she was the elder sister of the Joey who was so friendly with the Preston cousins of John James.

My late husband, born 1903 was taken to the Island at the age of six weeks for the family's annual holiday. They would stay in Castletown for two weeks and then Surby for the last two weeks on a farm. They were on the Island when war broke out and they had to return to Fleetwood on the last boat.

I didn't know that Jane died during childbirth. John James eventually married Madeline Qualtrough and she was the mother of three children: 1. William Oliver Clague, who retired a few years ago from the family ironmongers business in Arbory Street; 2. Eileen; 3. Isobel who married Winston Lace. John James Clague and my mother-in-law were cousins."

William Christian 1824-1887

I have discovered that William Christian (Super Willie) 1824-1887, who had four wives, died as a result of a fatal accident that occurred on Tuesday 8th November 1887. It was reported in the Isle of Man Examiner as follows:

"On Tuesday afternoon last Mr. Wm. Christian, of Ballabeg, Bride, (Father of Mr. William Christian, the 'Manx Giant'), was found lying dead on the high road near the Lhenn, Jurby. An inquest was held on the body, at which was transpired that the deceased had left home that morning with a cart and a pair of horses for the purpose of carting some loads of "bent" from the Lhenn beach to a farm in Sulby. At a later hour in the day the horses were stopped near the Craig farm, having no driver, and the cart being partly loaded with "bent". The man who stopped them proceeded back in the direction they had come, and found the deceased lying dead in the road, badly mangled. As no one seems to have witnessed the affair it can only be conjectured from the state of the load in the cart, and some "bent" that had been found on the ground in the place where he lay, that as he was, when last seen alive, riding on the top of the load (as is often the case along country roads), as this piece of road being very rough, he was thrown over the front port of the cart, and between the horses and the shaft on to the ground. The wheel of the cart must have passed over his body, as his right ribs are completely smashed' and the spine of his back having been fearfully bruised, the wind was allowed to pass out of its usual cavity and lodge between the skin and the body, which itself was sufficient to cause death. The deceased appeared also to have been caught near the right hip by a hook (supposed to be the hook of the breech board) and dragged a considerable distance before let fall on to the ground. Viewing all the circumstances of the case, the Jury could return a verdict of accidental death but the circumstances attending the same are unknown. The deceased was 62 years of age, and always enjoyed good health - as was admitted to be the strongest man in his day living on the Island; and he was a man of very and genial habits, his death will be regretted by a great many friends."

Please note the following corrections:

1. John Edward Christian, eldest son of William Christian & Margaret Crowe, did not marry Margaret Jane Hudson at Kirk Patrick. John E. Christian moved to California, and may have been the one who was married in Napa County on 17th March 1903 to Ellen Kneale, the daughter of William Kneale and Marguerite Crowe. The John Edward that was originally quoted was a schoolteacher of Cronk-y-Voddy, being the son of Patrick Christian.

2. Robert Charles Christian, 2nd child of Robert Christian and Margaret Gilmour, died 24-1-1904 as the result of a fall whilst on patrol in Government House,Douglas. He was married to Margaret Watterson of Peel. It was his son Robert Henry who died in Canada.

Lastly, since the release of the 1881 census into the Manx Museum, I have been able to check on the fourth wife of William Christian. She was the daughter of John Quiggin(Farmer) of Douglas. Her full name was 'Elizabeth Christian Quiggin' and was married at St. Barnabas's Church, Douglas on 11th May 1873. Living with William and Elizabeth at the time of the 1881 census was taken, was a nephew, John Hugh Christian, aged 7 yrs, he was the second illegitimate child of Anne Jane Christian (b.1835), the youngest sister of Super Willie.!

R. Christian



Introductory Note by Renee Cowley and Douglas Sweaney

On 21 June 1883 at Malew Parish Church our grandfather Thomas William Bridson (1860-1949) married our grandmother Ann Elizabeth Delany (1858-1930). He was Manx: she was half Manx and half Irish. She used to tell a romantic story of how her grandfather and grandmother came to the Isle of Man from Ireland and of how her father (Harry Delany) was brought up in the Isle of Man by a foster mother. We have heard this story many times from our grandmother and from her daughters, including our own mothers. The story has become something of a family legend and we thought it ought to be written down before it is forgotten. We also thought that it would be worthwhile to check the story, so far as practicable, from parish records of births, censuses and other sources.

There are good records in the Manx Museum and most of the farms and other buildings where the people concerned were born and lived still exist. So a good deal of factual information is available. Unfortunately it has not so far been possible to verify the more romantic parts of the story and as the events occurred more than a century and a half ago checking the facts of what occurred is not easy. The evidence which is available does not indicate that the story is untrue: on the contrary the indications are that its main outlines are correct. We hope that as time goes on farther researches will provide additional information. But as the story still remains unverified we think that our best course is to give the story, as we recall it, and then describe the checks that have been made. We also record the later history of the Bridson and Delany families, for which there is ample evidence, and show how they came to be linked by the marriage of Thomas William Bridson and Ann Elizabeth Delany.

Bridson and Delany family trees are included.


In Dublin (about the year 1807) there was a young lady named Lady Bridget Cogan. During her shopping outings in the city she met a young man named Patrick Delany working in a drapers shop and they fell in love. The parents of Lady Bridget Cogan strongly opposed the attachment and when it was persisted in they confined her to their house. However, the two young people were not deterred. The young woman made her escape from the house and she and the young man eloped. They went off by boat to the Isle of Man where they settled down in or near St Johns.

The parental disapproval lasted for some years. During that time Mr. and Mrs. Delany had a family, the youngest of whom was a boy named Henry. After some years in the Island the Cogan family relented and invited the couple back to Dublin. This they did, taking with them the older children, but not Henry who was a baby and presumably too young for the rigours of the Journey. This youngest child was left with a woman to be looked after until the parents could collect him. The baby boy Henry Delany (or Harry Delany as he was usually called) remained in the care of the woman for some years, during which time nothing was heard from the parents. Then unexpectedly the parents wrote to say they were coming to collect the child. By this time the woman had become very attached to the boy and would not part with him. So when the parents came over she hid the boy on the mountain (Slieau Whallian). She told the neighbours to say that the boy was dead and this is what she told the parents. They made extensive enquiries but could find no trace of the boy. The woman kept him in hiding all the time and went up the mountain each night to feed and look after him. Eventually the parents left and returned to Dublin. The woman then continued to bring up the boy.

The parents in Dublin had never really accepted the story that their son had died and some years later - when the young Henry Delany was in his late teens or early twenties - they wrote a letter addressed to "Harry Delaney, Isle of Man." This letter travelled about the Isle of Man for sometime but eventually delivered to Henry Delany in St Johns. It invited him to go to Dublin. He was pleased to hear from his parents, who had apparently established themselves in some sort of business, possibly a drapers shop, and arrangements were made for him to make the journey to Dublin. When he got there he was very warmly welcomed. But, whereas the Dublin family had remained Catholics, Harry had been brought up as a Protestant. The celebrations to mark his return included religious services different from those to which he was accustomed. The homecoming in the end was not a success and after only a short stay in Dublin he returned to the Isle of Man. He married a Manx girl, a Miss Bell, became a butcher, and lived in the St Johns area where they brought up a family.

The eldest brother of Harry Delany was meanwhile running a drapers business in Dublin. He and his family lived over the shop. About the mid-19th century the shop was burnt down and a number of people lost their lives. This disaster was recorded on a memorial stone in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.

Patrick and Bridget Delany

We have so far been unable to obtain any information from Dublin or the Isle of Man to substantiate the existence of anyone called "Lady Bridget Cogan". It would help if we could trace the marriage of Patrick Delany to Bridget Cogan. This presumably took place in Dublin before they eloped to the Isle of Man, rather than on the Island after the elopement. So a search in Dublin would be needed and that has so far not been possible. As we shall see later, however, the Delany family grave at Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin contains two people named Cogan; and James Delany, the eldest son of Patrick and Bridget Delany, and a daughter named Bridget. The names Bridget and Cogan are therefore clearly family names. Furthermore there is a record of the lease at Kirk Michael, Isle of Man, in 1818, of a person named Bridget Delany who may have been the wife of Patrick Delany. The indirect evidence therefore is that Patrick Delany married Bridget Cogan, but whether she was "Lady Bridget Cogan" in unverified.

Our recollection is that Patrick Delany was described as a drapers assistant, but Harry Delany when married declared that his father's occupation was that of a tailor. So whether or not Patrick was a drapers assistant at the time of his elopement, he evidently became a tailor in Dublin later. And that was after being an innkeeper in the Isle of Man.

Patrick and Bridget Delany probably came to the Isle of Man in 1807 or 1808. (If they were 21 years of age that would mean that they were born around 1786 or 1787). They probably arrived by sailing boat at Peel and after landing there may have continued to St Johns. Whether they knew anyone on the Island with whom they wanted to make contact is not known. The legend always mentioned that they settled in St Johns. That was where Harry Delany lived in the later years of his life. His parents could possibly have stayed there for a time when they first arrived on the Island. Their first child was born in 1809 but we have not succeeded in tracing his birth or baptism in the parish records which we have examined; So we do not know where his parents were at that time, and in fact we have been unable to discover where they lived during their first five or six years on the Island.

It is not until 1813 that we have the first record of their Presence on the Island, and this shows them to be at Kirk Michael. The "Gazette" newspaper of 12 May 1814 contained an announcement of P. Delany that "He has opened at the New Inn, Kirk Michael, the house lately occupied by Mr. Ray." There are also newspaper records that he paid for licences to sell wines and spirits in October 1813, November 1816, March 1818 and November 1818. The "New Inn" is now known as the "Crown and Mitre Inn-. Some information about it is contained in an article on old Manx Inns in the "Proceedings" of the Isle of Man Museum. The article said that the inn was in the hands of P. Delany from 1813 to 1818 and that it then passed into the hands of Lt. Ivie. It therefore appears that Patrick (and Bridget) Delany ran this inn from late 1813 to late 1818. This 5 year period in business indicates a fairly settled existence. But after 1818 the Delany records at Kirk Michael cease. What happened ?

It was probably at this juncture that Patrick Delany returned to Dublin. The legend says that the parents of Bridget relented and asked the couple to return to Ireland. Is this what happened ? We think not. We think Patrick went back because his wife died. As previously mentioned, the Kirk Michael Parish Register records the death on 14 February 1818 of Bridget Delany. Was this Patrick's wife ? The record itself unfortunately gives no further details. It is an uncommon name in the Isle of Man. Could the person who died have been a relative ? We have said that we do not know whether the Delanys knew anyone on the Island when they first arrived. Robert Bridson (born 1886) thinks they may have done. So it is conceivable that the Bridget Delany who died in 1818 was not Mrs. Patrick Delany, but a relative, maybe an aunt, of Patrick's. But we think it highly unlikely. Nevertheless, the person buried in Kirk Michael could have been a daughter. We doubt this for two reasons. First. if Bridget, wife of Patrick, had returned to Dublin we would expect her to be buried in the Delany grave at Glasnevin cemetery. Her husband is buried there, but there is no record that she was. Secondly, there are two persons named Sarah Delany buried in the grave and it is very likely that one of them was a daughter of Patrick and Bridget Delany. So our conclusion is that it is Patrick's wife who is buried at Kirk Michael.

We also believe that Bridget Delany died in childbirth. We know that Henry Delany was born in 1818. Unfortunately we do not know the precise date. If we could ascertain the day and month of his birth, and could thus establish that his birth proceeded the death of Bridget Delany, we would feel completely confident that Henry's mother died in childbirth (a not infrequent occurrence in the early 19th century). If that is what happened - and we believe it is it explains why the young child Henry was left with a foster mother on the Island when the rest of the family returned to Dublin.

There are other examples (as will be seen later) of young children being left with foster Parents when the mother died in childbirth. In 1818 Patrick Delany had 2 or 3 other children. He would not himself have been able to look after the new born baby, and would have had to find a foster mother for it as soon as the mother died. As he had no relatives on the Island with whom he could leave the baby he would have had to find a suitable non-relative, possibly someone with whom he and Bridget had become friendly during their early years on the Island. After Bridget's death it would take Patrick some months to recover from the shock, communicate with his own and his wife's relatives in Dublin, and make up his mind what to do. The death of Bridget Delany was in February 1818. Patrick took out licences in March and November of that year. to it must have been abound the turn of the year that he gave on the business at the New Inn, left the Isle of Man and returned to Dublin. On his departure he would have had to decide what to do about the baby, which would then have been about 10 months old. If it was being well looked after by the foster mother it is understandable that Patrick would arrange for her to continue to care for it until he obtained work in Ireland and made a new home there. So this is how we think that young Harry Delany came to be left behind.

If the mother had been alive, she would hardly have gone without the baby. It has always seemed an odd feature of the "Delany Legend", as we recall it, that the mother left the baby behind and that it was some years later that the parents returned to collect it. But if as we believe the mother had died and the father had returned to Dublin, find work and make a new home for himself and the other children it is credible that an appreciable time might elapse before he could go back to the Isle of Man to fetch the youngest child. Letter-writing was not common among people of his background and postal deliveries were difficult. In any case he would probably have waited until the child was old enough to be looked after without the foster mother's help. It seemed likely therefore that the foster mother would have had the baby for long enough to become so attached to it as not to wish to part with it, and that, knowing the boy's mother was dead, and not having heard from the father for some time, she would come to regard the child as her own.

Henry Delany

What do we know of Henry's birth ? The census records of 1851 and 1861 show him to have been born in 1818 in the Parish of German. We do not know the actual date of birth. He was a child of Catholic parents. There is no record of his Catholic baptism in Douglas. We would have expected him to have been born at Kirk Michael in the Parish of Michael and we do not know how he came to be born in the Parish of German. These parishes adjoin each other. the statement that he was born in German is Henry Delany's own declaration in the censuses so presumably it is correct. However if he were separated from his parents shortly after he was born, and particularly if his mother died at birth, he may not have been certain of the Parish in which he was born. Alternatively, if Bridget Delany went to stay with a friend or relative for the birth of the child it could have been with someone in the neighbouring parish, possibly with someone she knew before the move to Kirk Michael to open the "New Inn". this person might be the woman who became Henry's foster mother. We hope that it will be possible to trace the record of Henry Delany's birth or baptism so that these uncertainties can be cleared up. the foster mother with whom he was left would have been a Manx woman and a Protestant. She would have brought Henry up as a Protestant too. If, as seems likely, it was not possible for his father (and mother) to have baptised him as a Catholic before the return to Dublin, he would probably not have been baptised at all immediately. He may never have been baptised. On the other hand he may have been baptised in later life. In that case it would have been as a Protestant and the record of it would be in the normal parish register. But such a baptism could have taken place at any age and is therefore difficult to trace. A diligent search has been made in the Parish Registers of Michael, German, Patrick, Malew, St. Marks and Marown, but without finding any record of the baptism of Henry Delany.

At any rate it seems likely that the woman in whose care Henry was left did not live at Kirk Michael but probably in the Parish of German, somewhere near St Johns. Slieau Whallian mountain is nearby. When Patrick Delany came back to collect the boy we are told that the woman "hid him on the mountain". This was always the phrase used. Quite possibly the boy would have been hidden in a cottage on the mountain. It is understandable that Patrick (who may have been accompanied by a female relative) found difficulty in accepting the story of the boy's death. There would be no record of it in the perish register. He would know a number of Manx people, certainly at Kirk Michael and possibly at St Johns, and would no doubt talk to them about the purpose of his visit and what was said to have happened to his young son. Many children did die young, but the story may have been put about that the boy-met with an accident or disappeared shortly before the father's arrival. At any rate Patrick Delany must have returned to Dublin upset and perplexed. This would have been in the early 1820's. The woman continued to bring up the boy.

The first record of Henry Delany is of his marriage to Esther Bell on 15 Oct 1840 at St. Marks Parish Church. He is there stated to have come from Marown. The following year 1841 and the Malew census record shows Henry Delany age 23, a lead miner, and Esther Bell age 20, both born in the Isle of Man, living at one of the houses at Cloughwilley. In the next house at the same place lived Catherine Bell, age 74, of independent means,and Christopher Quaggin, age 18, a lead miner. The Cloughwilley farm had two small cottages near the road. When visited in 1973 they were being reconstructed. It is probable that these were the two buildings whose occupants were recorded in the census.

It is thus clear that when Henry Delany first married he worked at one of the Foxdale mines. The lady in the nearby cottages, Catherine Bell, was probably Esther Bell's grandmother. The intriguing question then arises, was Catherine Bell the woman whom the baby Henry was left when his mother died and his father returned to Dublin ?

If she was Henry's foster mother she would have been 51 when he was born. She may have been someone whom Patrick and Bridget Delany met when they first arrived on the Island. Patrick and Bridget do not seem to have had any experience in Inn-keeping before they came to the Isle of Man. Did Catherine Bell (and her husband) run an Inn in the St Johns area, and did Patrick and Bridget gain some experience there before venturing to take on the Crown and Mitre at Kirk Michael ? But this is speculation and we simply to not know whether Catherine Bell was Henry's foster mother or not.

What about the letter which is said to have been sent to Henry Delany asking him (if alive) to visit his family in Dublin ? We do not know when the letter arrived. But it is clear from the recollection of some of Henry's (Bridson) grandchildren that Henry Delany did pay such a visit as a young man. It is probable that it took place before the marriage in 1840. The most likely time is between 1835 and 1840. The letter addressed "Harry Delany, Isle of Man" is said to have been delivered to him in St Johns. It does seem that he was known there and possibly went to school there. Perhaps one day we shall find some evidence that will clarify the circumstances of his birth and early upbringing.

From 1841 onwards we have records of Henry Delany and his family and we shall give the rest of the story later. But first let us set out what we know about the fire in Dublin.

The Dublin Fire

As already mentioned Patrick Delany appears to have returned to Dublin in 1818 and to have entered business as a tailor. We do know that his eldest son James Delany ran such a business in rented premises at 19 and 20 Westmoreland Street, Dublin, and it was there that the disastrous fire occurred on 7 June 1866 in which six people lost their lives, including James' wife Marianne (age 50), and their three daughters Bridget (age 20) , Maria (age 19) and Sarah (age 12). James Delany and his son John were out when the fire occurred and returned hone to find the premises ablaze and the occupants dead. James Delany died shortly afterwards, however, on 29 October 1866 (age 57).

We are indebted to Mr. Joseph G. Delany of 123 Newtown Park Avenue, Dublin, for the following note on the fire which he obtained from the files of the "Freemans Journal" for the years in the National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin:

"The above premises there rented by my great-grandfather Mr. James Delany and he and his son John left at about 8 o'clock pm on 7 June 1866. On returning at about ten pm they saw that it was on fire but thought the family were safe and went to enquire in houses in the neighbourhood. Actually at the time the floors had collapsed and the occupants were dead. (The occupants were those named on the inscription plate you mention, and also a Mr. Anthony Strahan, a friend of the family,also lost his life. He was buried in Mount St Jerome Cemetery, Dublin, and, I understand a monument to his memory was erected in the Mortuary Chapel there. He was of Protestant faith, my great-grandfather's family and their maid were Catholics.)

The affair was subject to an inquest which lasted for 15 days as there was great public concern owing to the inefficiency and inadequacy of the Fire Brigade. A Committee,with the Rev. Dr. Spratt as Chairman was formed to receive subscriptions- for a fund to relieve the financial distress of my great-grandfather. The Fund was known as the 'Delany Fund' and subscriptions came in from all over the country.

The last meeting of the Fund was held on 17 September 1866, with a Rev. Canon Pope in the Chair. The statement of accounts showed that £84 1/- had been collected and it was decided that £50/- should be given to the family of Elizabeth Kavanagh, £50/- towards the erection of the monument to Mr. Strahan, and "an address to be presented with the balance, after deduction of some minor expences, to Mr. James Delany on a near date."

I could find no further reference to this 'Address' etc., and can only presume that it was not presented as my great-grandfather died on 29.10.1866

The only inscription on the Delany Family grave at Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, at the present time is'


However, there used to be a memorial inscription recording the fire and those who died. There is a typed copy of this inscription in the Bridson Family papers. Unfortunately the paper was folded in four and with the passage of time the top right-hand quarter of the paper has disappeared. In its truncated form it reads as follows'

UNDERNEATH are deposited/ whose deplorable deaths took place/ at Westmoreland Street, Dublin, on/ occurrence created universal sorrow/ classes of Citizens for the lamented and amiable suffered.

Mrs. Marie Delany Aged 50 years,
Her Daughter Bridget Aged 28 years,
Maria Aged 19 years,
Sarah Aged 12 years and their Faithful Servant,
Elizabeth Kavanagh Aged 18 years.

Shortly afterwards the remains of the surviving parent James Delany Esqr were also here deposited. He died on the 29th October 1866, aged 57 years.

(To be continued)


Manx in American History


Gilbert Christian emigrated from the Isle of Man to America by way of Northern Ireland in 1726, first settling in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, then moving to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in 1732. He settled in what is now Augusta County. Among his six sons was John, who fathered Israel Christian.

By 1740, Israel was a prominent merchant and Indian trader at Staunton, Virginia. Like most frontiersmen he was active in the Virginia Militia, and in 1754 was named captain of rangers in the French and Indian war. In 1760 he was commissary of Byrd's Regiment,and following the war, in 1759-1760 he served as burgess from Augusta in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Moving to the site of present Cloverdale, Virginia, he continued in trade, building a stone house shortly after serving on a council that selected sites for forts along the frontier. For service in the First Virginia Regiment, Israel was granted land in Fincastle County - which subsequently became Montgomery and Kentucky Counties - and when Botetourt County was formed, he donated 45 acres for the site of the county seat. He and his son-in-law, Colonel Stephen Trigg, erected the first 20 by 24 foot long court house, and in 1770, Israel Christian was appointed a Justice and sheriff. (During the American Revolution he moved to Fincastle, Montgomery County, where he died in September 1789)

Israel Christian's most prominent son, William, was born at Augusta in 1743. He was chosen by his father for a legal career, and read law under Patrick Henry. After passing the bar, he abandoned law and lead Henry on an expedition to the lands beyond the Alleghenies for which they unsuccessfully sought a Crown grant. He won the heart of Henry's sister, Anne, and at the age of 26, William and Anne Christian settled in Israel's stone house at Cloverdale, a wedding gift. Upon organisation of Botetourt County, William was commissioned a major of militia by Royal Governor Dunmore' he had served as a captain in the Indian wars as early as 1763. He was also named a local Justice. Within two years, Fincastle County was split off of Botetourt and William Christian moved his family there, setting at Dunkard's Bottom on the New River. He was named a justice and high sheriff, and appears to have been among the first to experiment, without success, in the growing of hemp.

By 1773 there were signs of an uprising by the Cherokee Indians, and Dunmore ordered Christian to do what he could to calm the situation. The effort failed and Dunmore's War followed. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1774, he was raised to full Colonel in 1775, acknowledgment by the colonial government at Williamsburg of his leadership.

As tension mounted between the colonists and the Royal Governor, William Christian became chairman of the Fincastle Committee of Safety, and in January 1775 rode by horseback to Williamsburg, carrying for publication the historic Fincastle Resolves. As a delegate from Fincastle, he sat thrilled at the impassioned "Give me Liberty or give me Death" oration of his brother-in-law, Patrick Henry, at St. John's Church in Richmond. There, Christian was named with other leading Virginians under Henry to raise and train a militia to replace to the Royal Governor and his Scots "mercenaries". When Royal Governor Dunmore seized the colonist's gunpowder at Williamsburg, Christian was among the first frontiersmen on the scene when Henry marched on Williamsburg and forced the Governor to return the powder. He was named second to Henry in command of the First Virginia ''Liberty or Death" Regiment, and on March 18, 1776, was named by the Continental Congress to take command of the famous regiment. His forces helped to drive the Royal Governor from the colony, and he saw Patrick Henry installed as the first Governor of the "independent" Commonwealth of Virginia.

As Colonel of the Virginia Militia, Christian was ordered by Governor Henry to bring an end to Indian attacks on frontier settlements. Leading a force of 1,800 men, Christian defeated the Cherokees at the Battle of Long Island Flats, and served as a commissioner at the signing of the peace treaty with the Indians in May 1777. He alternated between military assignments and extended service in the Virginia legislature, and in 1780 helped form the Loyal Company which sought to mark off lands to the west. At the conclusion of the war, he moved his family to a 9,000 acre grant on Bear Creek in Kentucky, the present-day site Louisville, Kentucky. His family home, "Oxnoor" remains in the family.

But it was a rough and dangerous life. First his son-in-law, John Floyd, was slain by the Indians. Then, in 1786 while leading forces in pursuit of Indian raiders, Colonel Christian was ambushed and killed. At his side when he died was a trusted aide, Sergeant Kelly. On 9th April 1786, his body was brought home from Indiana where he had fallen, and was buried with full honours. He was only 43 years of age, and had been spoken of as the man destined to become the first governor of Kentucky.

This branch of the Christian family has been commemorated in a number of geographic placenames, ranging from Christian Creek near Staunton, Virginia, to Christianaburg, the county seat for Montgomery County. Christian County, Kentucky, is named in honour of Col. Christian, and a portrait of him by Victor Kneale hangs permanently in the restored courthouse at Fincastle, Virginia. The life of Col. Christian was commemorated in postal issuances of the Isle of Man in 1976.


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