End Product

The Eastern Area centred on Douglas is the natural climax of the story of the Clan, for today the town and its environs contain over half the Island population. But in 1725 its population, according to Bishop Wilson, was only 810. A list of householders there in 1730 contains three Kissack households : William and Catherine, William and Elizabeth and John and Isabel. We can identify the last, the only one with children, as DmI, and the first as BaIV.

As for the second, there is no record of a William married to an Elizabeth, but as the implication is that (if they were not childless) their children would be independent, we might relate them to BaII or BaIII. Indeed there is a document, dated 1745, in which William and Elizabeth Kissack make over a dwelling-house in Douglas to John Kissack. Now John Kissack married Elizabeth Corrin in 1744 (DmII), and it would be natural to infer a close relationship. He could not be a son, but conceivably he could be a grandson. In which case it is possible that John the Tobacconist would be the intermediate generation. We do not know the name of William the Soldier's wife. It could well be Elizabeth. (BaII and Dml).

In May 1742 a William Kissack was presented for not having paid his contribution of 10d towards the erection of a gallery in Braddan church. Since the Sailor had died in 1734, he must have been the Soldier or the Fiddler. In 1747, 28 citizens of Douglas signed a petition supporting Dan Curghey in his candidature for the Clerkship of Douglas. These included 'John Kissag and John Kissag senior'. This suggests that we can add DmII to the above series. The will of Elizabeth (alias Corrin) in 1803 reveals that John had not followed his father in the tobacco trade, but had been a mariner. They had lived in a house called Muckle s Gate, and owned another in the market-place. Only one of their sons, John reached manhood, and the Corrin family connection suggests to me that he might have become the husband of Jane Corrin in 1772 (MaVII).

But behind these early register entries lies a 17th century hinterland, populated by shadowy figures, such as Robert Kuisake and family (Ban, or William of Lonan, presented with others in 1669 for rendering cloth on a Sunday, or the William who witnessed the will of Ann Quill in 1685 in the same parish. Was he the husband of Joney Atkinson, whose children were Philip, William, Katherine and Bessie ? And who was William the Carpenter who owned a house in Laxey ?

Sometimes the glimpses we catch are vivid and colourfully human. What sort of fellow was 'Cut and Trump Kewley' with whom Catherine Kissag had dealings in 1683? Or the vignette of 17th century social life in Douglas that landed unhappy Alice Kissag before a Court on January 13, 1667, when she was sentenced for 'execration against the Governor and Bishop, which aggravates the censure. The said Alice Kissage is censured to wear the Bridle for the space of 2 hours at the 4 market crosses of this Island . . and in the interval is to be committed (to St. German's) until she give bonds to perform the censure'.

And her sin? 'John Wooley, Alice Taylor and Ellin Wooley sayeth that Alice Kissag being in company with them Saturday last, they had some discourse concerning licences to be granted to midwives, and of the said Alice, her Joney, going to England, who then was lost. The said Alice said : 'My curse upon the Bishop that ever he came to the Island'' .

A glimpse here too of Manx history, both social and political. Political, because it shows the mentality, if not of Bishop Barrow himself, at least his Vicar-general, in taking so seriously the fact that Barrow had been made by the Stanleys Governor as well as Bishop of the Island (a Manx miniature of the contemporary French Richelieus and Mazarins). So the disrespect of poor Alice was that much compounded. And social because it also reveals the Bishop`s typical concern for the improvement of living standards on the Island, in this case hygiene.

Other glimpses come from wills. There seems a special pathos in the death-bed scene of Christian Quail, alias Kissage. She was the daughter of William of Kerrowmoar (Plz1), she had married first Mr. Sylvester Radcliffe of Knockaloe and had born him a son Thomas and a daughter Jane, before she was widowed and married Quail of Ballaquale, Douglas. The scene on the February night in 1675 is described by Mary Malawherry and Katherine Koonill in the artlessly graphic style that is the mark of a nuncupatory will - how she took off her ring and asked where her , daughter Nelly was, and being told she was in bed with her child, said 'she has had a great adoe with the child'. She asked them to give her the ring, and 'bid her look to and be careful of my linen and clothes', and her children Mary and Robert were to have coats made of serge in the loft. 'And for the rest of my goods I have in the world, I leave them to her for she best deserves them, and I have nobody else to leave them to . Then she 'fell to prayer again, beseeching God to pardon and forgive her sins' . However, two children of her former marriage, Captain Thomas Radcliffe and Mrs. Jane Fletcher thought there certainly were others to leave them to, and claimed their share in an estate which came to some £20. And the nucupatory will was over-turned.

But on a more purely genealogical plane, we have seen that those years may mask some connection between the Millers of Cornaa (MgI) and the Douglas Kissacks (OnI) and possibly (BaII) through their trade. The only 18th century miller named in the region is the Henry of (BaVII), whom his will of 1816 shows as identical with a Henry 'the Butler' . . . A generation later there is a similar conjunction of Henrys (DmVII and DmXI), but here they can be distinguished, (DmVII) as married first to Margaret Garrett, with a daughter, Margaret, born in 1796. Widowed in 1803, he married Jane Jones of Patrick the next year. Her will of 1850 shows they were childless, and that they lived in Collister's House on the South Quay, and owned another at 60 Strand Street, Douglas. This Henry was a Boat-Carpenter. Of the other (DmXI), we know nothing. Doubtless one was the son of Robert and Christian Cain (DmIII), but which of the two it is not quite clear.

Douglas expanded rapidly in the 18th century, largely by its being a free-port that sustained a thriving smuggling trade with the mainland. It also attracted immigrants from the rest of Britain. The population in 1757 was 1,814; in 1784 it was 2,850; in 1821, 6,054; and by 1811 it had almost touched 10,000. This represents a 12-fold increase over 1726, whereas the Island population as a whole had increased by less than 4-fold.

But if the Douglas of 800 souls had included 3 Kissack households in 1726, the Douglas of 10,000 in 1851 only numbered 5 househ olds of the name, and an 1892 Directory only shows 7. The rough image of the family revealed in the 19th century censuses is of a work-force with 13 in domestic service. 10 general labourers, 4 lodging house-keepers, 6 in construction trades, and 14 in baking or garment making. Nor was there a large build up of families in the neighbouring parishes. Braddan had a single family in 1841, 3 in '61, and 4 in '71 and '81; Onchan, 2 in '41, 5 in '51, 2 in '61, 3 in '71 and 2 in '81. In Lonan a single family of Philip and Jane (LoVI) persisted.

We can make a broader survey of the eastern area based on the parish and civic registers from 1700 to the present day, using what information is available of the circumstances of the heads of families. Of the 100 or so households traced, about 70 carry some sort of clue. Before about 1830 this is inevitably very sketchy. But over all, it would show 11 mariners, 18 in construction trades, 6 in shops (chiefly clothing or groceries), 5 bakers and 2 millers. 6 described themselves as farmers and 9 as labourers. 15 were in office jobs, and 5 in catering or entertainment (the last class naturally containing William the Fiddler).

We can begin to gauge the social status of families, if we set these figures against a time scale. The last to call himself a farmer on a birth or marriage certificate was in 1950, and a general labourer in 1920. The clerical and administrative category begins about 1910, and the catering and entertainment (apart from the fiddler) about 1950. The occupations of course are only those of heads of families, but give an indication of the homes in which the family grew up. The wives had their own businesses. In Bent's Business Directory of 1902, 6 Mrs. Kissacks are listed with boarding house facilities; in 1907 there were 2 in Ramsey - a high proportion of Kissack households.

These same households can reflect the movements of population during the 19th and 20th centuries into the towns. Some 70% of the eastern area families seem to have lived there over the whole period. Of the rest some 20% came in from the north, 7% from the south, and 3% from the west.

A more specifically genealogical analysis shows that many of these households can be credibly structured into a pattern of some 9 families, whose branches are traceable over the generations.

Five of these are of northern origin. Three have already been sketched and go back to the 17th century (LzIV), (LzVI) and (MgIII). A fourth is the Jurby family (JuII). The other is the MacKissacks (PaI). A Lonan family (DrLVIII) goes back to (PaII).

Of the other three, one is a family of 19th century bakers (OnVII). William (1813-1878) assisted by two wives, Ann and later Dinah Quine, holds the Clan record for progeny - 9 sons and 7 daughters. Mortality however was high, and though 5 of his sons carried on the line, (at least 4 of them as Bakers in Douglas), none of his grandsons seem to have settled on the Island, even if descendants can still be found in Liverpool. The genealogical challenge of William is to identify his father. Documents imply that he was born in 1813, in Douglas, and that his father was a farmer named John. Records however show no such John connected with Douglas fathering a William about 1813. Indeed only two Farmer john couples could be considered - John and Catherine (Quayle) (MgXVIII) or John and Ellinor (Kaighin) (JuVIII) The northern family of William and Margaret (Wade) (JuXX) are equally in search of a father for the same date. I can find no decisive evidence : but the likelihood between the two would be a Maughold provenance for an Onchan settler, and a Jurby one for a northern farming family.

I would however like to conclude this survey with notice of two families in the eastern region of particular interest. I designate them as the Flaxdressers and the Crosby Kissacks.

Flaxdresser was the trade of the James Kissack, born in 1813, who married Jane Mylrea in 1835 (BaXVII). They lived at Tromode on the Braddan and Onchan border, and had 6 sons and 3 daughters. In the first generation, Thomas, the eldest, became a miller working first at Union Mills and then in Michael (BaXXIII). James went to sea (DrI). Robert became a blacksmith (DrIII). William and Philip worked in Douglas William (DhI) as a coachman.

Thomas the Miller and his wife Ann Jane Cain had 12 children (BaXXIII), 5 of whom died young. One son, William was Ship's Purser (DrXVIII), and another Stanley Thomas emigrated to South Africa. Blanche a daughter of Thomas and Ann Jane, married her cousin, Robert Frederick, a son of James the Mariner (DrI). The second son of the Mariner also James, was a Douglas Hairdresser, (DrXX), and his son, Frank, born 1914, became one of the Island's leading accountants (DrXLIV).

Robert the Blacksmith had 4 sons (DrIII) :- Thomas Arthur (DrXXVII) was in the Grocery trade, as manager or traveller; Geo. Albert (DrXXII) was in the Isle of Man Steam Packet office; Edward (DrXXVI) chief clerk in a Plumbing firm; Robert James, a printer with an Island newspaper. One of Thomas Arthur's sons, Geo. Albert II was Chief Registrar (DrLI); two others, Thomas Arthur and William Frederick, served the Steam Packet Co., the former as General Manager (*1) ' (DrLXIV) His youngest son was an accountant with the Electricity Board (DrLX).

Thomas Arthur's second brother, Geo. Albert I (DrXXII) had a son and a daughter; the son retired from a sea-going career as a Steam Packet captain, took Orders, and joined the Board of Northern Lighthouses. (DrXLI); the daughter married a future Deemster. William the Purser s son, William Mylrea (DrXXXV) was first a Marine Engineer and then an Agricultural Merchant. His elder son, Paul, born 1937, is a Chartered Accountant in Vancouver; his second, Brian, Vice-President of an American Bank in Frankfurt (Tra17).

Most of this family's 5 generations were lived in Douglas, in a spread of occupations from the sea to high administrative posts, in commerce and public service, including General Manager of the Island s Steamers, a Chief of the Rolls Office, and a Captain and Reverend Overseer of Lights. No sign here of Clogs to Clogs.

Of more direct genealogical interest is the quest for the ancestry of the old Flaxdresser. Despite omissions and a confusion of the names Thomas and James at times, all the evidence points to the paternity of the Thomas who married Anne Bridson at Braddan in 1808. The real crux is to identify his parents. There seems to be only two serious candidates - the son of John Kissack and Margaret Crowe, born 1777, (LzXX), or the son of James Kissack of Onchan (OnIV). The first of these (LzXX) seems more associated more with the west and possibly the sea. Bridson is a southern name, and more likely to have found an Onchan husband. This Thomas was born in 1788 (OnIV). A Thomas was buried in Braddan in 1837, aged 45. Could this figure be a mere guess? It looks suspiciously rounded-off. Certainly someone born in 1792 could hardly have married in 1808, and in any case no Thomas is recorded as baptised nearer to that year than this Onchan one in 1788.

Thomas was probably a Cordwainer, as was another son of James, who managed to enlist in the Fencibles twice in one day. Another brother was Philip (DmVIII) who settled in Lonan, where his son, also Philip, and his family are also found (LoVI). Father James had married Elizabeth Crow in Lezayre in 1766, and was most probably the son of William, baptised 1740 (OnIII). Earlier than this it is impossible to go. Those were the years when it was rare to append a mother's name, and the list of children with a William for father in Onchan extends from 1718 to 1747.

The other family is that called Crosby Kissacks. If the Flaxdressers symbolise the ability to do varied jobs with constant efficiency, the Crosby family exemplifies a sustained concern with a single basic industry, in their case building and construction. As with the Flaxdressers, they have a founding father, a Philip whose children begin to appear in baptismal registers in German about 1785. His wife then was Hester Cottier, though we have no record of their marriage, a fact that strongly suggests that it took place in Marown, where marriage registers of that period have been lost. Apart from his first two children the rest of the family of 5 sons and 3 daughters were baptised in Marown. He had his children confirmed: he bought Manx prayer books. He also bought wood at a Marown farm sale, and so gives some indication of a solid personality and a carpenter. He had a second wife, Margaret Kinrade, married at Marown in 1828. There is no record of his burial, but his will was proved in 1838 (MrVII).

It is a fair inference that his parents were Henry Kissack and Margaret Cubbon (BaVII) who though married in Braddan, were chiefly associated with Marown. Another of their sons, Robert, 1765-1825, is buried there in the same grave as his mother, (died 1804), his wife, Isabella Cain, (1864) and their son John (1850) (MrVI). Only one of Philip's sons, William (MrVIII), left the issue that has led to the flourishing line of today. He had 10 children. In 1841, having married Margaret Fayle in 1833, he was living at Ellerslie. Ten years later he had 8 children under his roof and is described as 'Joiner employing 4 men'. In 1861, he is 'Joiner and Cartwright', and has John and Thomas his adult sons with him, though his wife seems to have a separate establishment nearby, with their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, aged 20. In the same neighbourhood, at Ballaglionney, is his brother, Philip, also a carpenter. His wife, Catherine Cannell, calls herself a charwoman, their 15 year old son, William, an agricultural labourer (MrIX).

William died in 1870 having established the dynasty. In the census the next year, two of the daughters live together in Ellerslie. Philip now, 73, and alone, lives on the Peel Rd. And it is Thomas, the youngest son who resides in Crosby at what has since been the family home, Pink Cottage (later to be named Rose Villa). Thomas is 33, married to Mary Jane Quinney since 1869. Their first child is a year old (MrX). Thomas was to consolidate both business and family. And he too would have a large family, 6 sons and 3 daughters.

And here chances a remarkable family encounter. It so happens that Fred Kissack of the Tops (Cronk-y-Voddey) family (GrX) lifts the curtain to leave a somewhat embarrassing glimpse of life in Pink Cottage around 1880. In his account of his journey from Cleveland, Ohio, in 1903, in the vain hope of finding his father, old James, still alive, he passes through Crosby in the train, and recalls how he started out his career as a Joiner himself :

'I have a tender recollection of staying just one week here a good many years go. I went to work with a man the name of Kissack (not my relative). I was to live with him. I found he was a hard drinker, and had a big family. We were on short rations, so when Saturday afternoon came around, I shipped my tools home, and footed it myself. I did not get any money for my week's work. I was fortunate to be able to get home.

Thomas' older brother, Robert, also a Joiner, married an Irish wife (BaXX) and added the skills of millwright-fitter to those of carpentry. In 1861 they lived at 2 Callow Place, Douglas, and 20 years later his widow lives at Cronkbourne. His eldest son William Edward (MrXI) followed him as a fitter. In the next generation, however, William Edward`s son, Edward took to farming in Braddan, and served as Parish Clerk (DrXXIV). One of his daughters, Annie Leece, married Thomas Conibear of the Greengrocery family, and his youngest son entered the Customs and Excise Service (DrLVa). In the next generation. John Edward (DrLVb) was an Hotelier.

Fred Kissack's judgment on old Thomas is to some extent corroborated by the family. They commemorate him as 'the one who made money and lost it'. They recall how at the turn of the century they were sold up, and had to part with a large portion of their land-holding. But it was not the end of the family enterprise even if it was one of the women of the family that inspired the revival. 'Mary Mountain bought back the family silver, and brow-beat back Harry from Liverpool'. Howard Kissack finds the strength and glory of the century-old family business in such a spirit, through which in succeeding generations there have been sons who both developed their personal craft skills of carpenter, blacksmith or engineer, and then pooled them in dedication to the ancestral enterprise. Quite unpretentiously, or perhaps with a subconscious instinct born of memories of the near-failure at the turn of the century, they have refused to leave their shop-floors for any directorship status, and when things were bad (e.g. in war-time) have worked through almost single-handed.

Harry died in 1956, aged 80. His son, Robert Reginald, succeeded him, but died, aged 59 in 1979. He had been joined in 1965 by his elder son, Howard, When Derek, the younger son, came in in 1972, Kissack Bros. became a Limited Company, from which Derek has since moved out to be his own master.

What is now Rose Villa stands on the same site as what was called Reid's Cottage in the 1840s, and among its outhouses one of the first power saw-mills on the Island was set up, no doubt to challenge the joiners and blacksmiths of the family to develop engineering aptitudes too. But this talent surfaced notably in George Henry (MrXV), who, having served his apprenticeship as an automobile mechanic, and with the R.A.F., entered the Peel Engineering Co. in the immediate post-war years, when there was a great demand for cars, and out of his work on Ford-10 Specials developed the Peel Bubble-Car. It was an enterprise that deserved a success it never attained, largely because it was quite 25 years ahead of its time.

Not that all the Crosby Kissacks made their careers out of construction and mechanics. Ralph (MrXV) was a journalist of note, and another Ralph (DrXXXIX) is a solicitor in the South of England.

Please note that the copyright of the 'Seed of Isaac' and 'The MacIsaacs' remains with the family of Rex Kissack and no part may be reproduced from this site without their permission.


(*1) Corrected to `General Manager` was `Managing Director` - source "Seed of Isaac"
^Top