[From The Manx Quarterly, #29]

A Great Manx Family


The Isle of Man contains very little of a native aristocracy, though cases are not uncommon of quite plain people, simple farmers tilling with their own hands the small estates which have come down to them from generation to generation, being able to trace their descent for four centuries and upwards. It must be admitted that the hereditary owner of land often regards a far more successful and affluent farmer who cannot produce his title deeds with a most exasperating condescension. One of Mr Christopher Shimmin's happiest little touches is this passage out of the play called "The Dooinney-Moyllee " :-

Cannell: My ones were as good as thy ones.
Juan: Allowing, Cannell, allowing, but they never owned land,

However, the most self-satisfied possessor of acres never considered himself the social equal of the Christians of Milntown. They really were "family"; they were " the gentry," and the most fervid democrat, if he has any reverence left in him for the things that are past, cannot but feel a pang when an ancient stock such as this passes out of remembrance. The last male survivor of the Christians and occupant of Milntown, has gone; and Mrs Christian, widow of the Rev. William Bell Christian, a mighty man in his day, has just had placed in Lezayre Parish Church a memorial tablet setting forth the tale of the twenty-one generations, representing the period from 1380 to 1918, which recently came to an end. The tablet was dedicated by the Rev. Canon Kermode, Vicar of Lezayre, and it reads as follows:-

To the glory of God and in memory of the following descendants of Gillocrist, A.D. 1176, the traditional founder of the family of Christian, of Milntown, in the Parish, and of Ewanrigg in Cumberland; from whom through more than twenty-one generations, Milntown passed in the direct male line,

A.D. 1380-1901.

John MacCrystyn,-1388, Justiciarias, Insulae 1408.

William MacCrystyn,-1422, Deemster; M.H.K., 1417.

John McCrysten.-1500, Deemster.

John McChristen,-1511, Deemster:

John McCristen-1527, Deemster, who first put the Manx laws into writing; and his grandson, William McChristen, Archdeacon, 1550.

William McChristen.-1535, Deemster; and his brother, John McChristen, Water-Bailiff; and his nephew, Robert McChristen, of Lewaigue, Deemster.

Ewan McChristen.-1539, M.H.K.

William McChristen-1568; and his brother, Robert McChristen, of Loaghmolla, Deemster.

William McChristen.--1593; and his brother, John McChristen, Vicar of Maughold, whose son Edward McChristen, of Ballakilley and Loughmolla, Governor, 1628-1639; and William McChristen, of Knockrushen, were imprisoned for their patriotism.

Ewan Christian.-1579-1655, Deputy-Governor; Deemster for 51 year; the most influential Manxman of his time; and his descendant Nicholas Christian, of Ballastole, Deemster, 1734.

John Christian.-1602- 1650, Deemster, imprisoned; and his brother, William Christian, of Ronaldsway and Langness, known. to his countrymen as "Illiam Dhone," 1608-1642, Governor, a great patriot, shot at Hango Hill; and descendant of` "Illam Dhone," Admiral Sir Hugh Cloberry Christian, K.B 1747-1798, Commander-in-Chief at the Cape, who had a peerage conferred upon him with the title, Lord Ronaldsway, but died before the patent reached him; who was thanked for his services by Parliament and received a sword of honour from George III; Rear-Admiral Hood Hanway Christian. 1784-1851, siege of Genoa, Walcheren; Thomas Hompeach Christian, 1819, Commander, R.N., siege of Acra; George Jackson Christian., 1821, 1857, LCS., killed with his wife and children in the Indian Mutiny; Major Hugh Henry Christian, 1851-1914, Burmese War, Indian Mutiny; and the Right Hon. John Whitby Christian, 1807-1887, Lord Chief Justice of Appeal, Ireland.

Edward Christian.-1628-1693, Deemster; and his brother, Major Charles Christian, 1644-1696; and his grandson, the Rev Thomas Christian, B.A., 1697-1770, Vicar of Crossthwaite, Cumberland, for 42 years.

Ewan Christian; -1651-1719, who was prominent in securing the Manx Act of Settlement, a triumphant result of his ancestors' struggles, and his ten daughters, known as the "Fair Maids of Milntown"; and his descendant, Ewan Christian, 1814-1895, President R.I.B A., Architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

John Christian.-1688-1745, barrister-at-law; and his grandson, the Rev Edward Christian, later Christian Hare, of Docking, and Stanhoe Hall, Norfolk.

Ewan Christian,-1718- 1752, barrister-at-law; and his brother, Charles Christian, of Moreland Close, Cumberland, 1729-1768, whose son, Fletcher Christian, R.N., 1764-173, was Leader of the Bounty Mutiny. John Christian.-1719-1767, High Sheriff for Cumberland; and his brother, Edward Christian, Captain R.N., 1725, Coromandel Coast.

John Christian, later Christian Curwen.-1756-1828, of Workington Hall, Cumberland, for 38 years M.P. for Carlisle and Cumberland, founder of the Royal Agricultural Society, who received the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh, who twice declined the offer of a peerage, and who rendered many patriotic services to his native Island and received the formal thanks of the House of Keys.

John Christian.-1776-1852, barrister-at-law; J.P. for Cumberland, Deemster for 50 years. William Bell Christian,-1815-1886, B.A., C.P., J.P., Vicar of this Parish, returned unopposed Member for. Ramsey for 18 years; Acting-Speaker for several years, member of the Legislative Council, as Receiver-General, who devoted his life and energies to the welfare of his native Island.

Ewan John Christian.-1845-1898, Lieutenant of Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. Edward Alan Christian.-1879-1918, who died unmarried at Milntown, 17th February, 1918. This memorial is erected by Violet the widow of William Bell Christian. A.D. 1922. [His 4th wife and widow, died 1936, is buried as Sophie Maria - but her third name was Violet and this is the one she was commonly known by ]

At the head of the tablet appears the coat-of-arms of the Milntown family, which consists of a white unicorn, three vases and a square, with the motto, " Salus per Christum."

Fair Maids of Milntown

The following information is partly from pp60-61 The yesterdays behind the Doors by Mrs Hicks Beach but with much additional information by Jeoff Wilde

The "Fair Maids" were the daughters of Ewan Christian b. 11 Mar 1650/51 d. 10 Sep 1719 m. Mary Cane (b. c1650) 7 Feb 1676/77 St. Mary's Whitechapel, Middlesex, England,

Mary Christian b. 26 Apr 1687, d. 24 Oct 1715 Dearham, Cumberland m. 2 Feb 1709/10 Dearham, John Fletcher of Clea Hall, Cumberland ( d. 1756).

Margaret Christian b. 2 Nov 1689, d. 1775 Crakeplace Hall, Brigham, Cumberland, England, m. 12 Dec 1717, Cumberland, Thomas Crakeplace (1687-1731) Crakeplace Hall, Brigham, Cumberland. Thomas was the son of Henry Crakeplace b. 1651 and Jane Senhouse.
Thomas Crakeplace and Margaret Christian had four children Henry b. 1718, Christian b. 1721, Jane b. 1726, and Mary b. 1728.

Jane Christian b. 12 Feb 1695/96, d. 1760 Standingstone, Wigton Cumberland, m. 18 Jan 1718/19 Dearham Cumberland, Wilfred Clark 1695-1777 Standingston Wigton, Cumberland, they had two children Wilfred b. c1730 and Ewan b. 1734.

Martha Christian bapt. 27 Aug 1698, d. 1763 Cockermouth Castle, Cumberland m. Robert Tubman (? Taubman) b. ? Cockermouth Castle, Cumberland d. 1745. They may have had 3 children Richard b. 1726, Frances b. 1731, and Robert b. 1735. Mrs Hicks-Beach however states she only had one child Frances who married Samuel Irton 1714-1766 of Irton Hall, Cumberland, son of George Irton and Elizabeth Poole

Alicia Christian bapt. 25 May 1702, d. 23 Jun 1790 Ballakillingan, Lezayre, m. 23 May 1728 Brigham, England, Quayle Curghey b. 1706 d. 23 Mar 1780, Ballakillingan, Lezayre, son of John Curghey and Margaret Lowcay; they had 7 children; Isabella, Ewan b. 1729, Alicia b. 1731, John b. 1732, Jane b. 1734, Edward b. 1736, and Elizabeth b. 1738. Quayle was Alicia's cousin and their dau. Alicia m. John Christian, banker of Douglas, (probably another cousin) they both died in Dunkirk France.



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