Maughold Families

The 18th century saw a significant growth in the presence of Kissack families in the parish of Maughold. W. & C. Radcliffe, historians of the parish, are of the opinion that though our family were not among the ancient quarterland holders, they settled there in the 17th century, probably from Lezayre, and made themselves much at home.

Maughold registers reach well back into the 17th century unlike those of Lezayre, and therefore can testify to a comparative absence of the name. The first occurrence of the name is the burial in 1680 of an Elizabeth, followed by the baptism of Christian (MgII), daughter of Hugh, 1683, and in 1685 by the marriage of Margaret to John Corkill, and the baptism of Michael, son of Ewan Kissag (MgI).

In the 1690s, John married Mariod Christian in 1692, and their children were baptised, John (1693), Edward (1697), William (1701) and Ewan (1705) (MgIII).

Other documents fill in some of the events of the `80s, particularly the story of Ewan Kissag, Milner, and Mary Costean. In October 1683, a vicar-general allows his feelings to get the better of him, and he scrawls his outrage on the charge sheet :

'Kissag hath soe far prevailed with some of the Clergy as to be joyned in matrimony (within this five weeks) to this said woman, who is now near the time of her deliverance. How consonant this with Christian discipline or the purity of that profession the revd. Court can best judge. In regard that the above Ewan hath been censured for a late incest which he hath not yet performed, and which the Sumner of Kirk Maughold is ordered to put into execution, and that when the same is done, he is to perform the Like censure once again for this repeated and aggravated offence to God and his church . . . and the woman to perform her penance in Ecclesia and two weeks in prison . :'

With what extra trouble for Ewan and the Clergy is not known, but the matter must have dragged on, for finally someone has written 'mortuus' by Ewan's name, and it looks as if he cheated if not the hangman, at least the Vicar General and St. Jaronyms. That the John and Michael of the baptisms were his children by Mary Costean is proven by his will (1686) in which he left his miller's tools to his son Edward, and the residue of his estate to his wife and his sons, John and Michael.

There is no further sign of Michael, but a generation later we have the wills of John and Edward. John died unmarried in 1711 : he made his mother executor, and left his fishing boat to his uncle John Costean. His half-brother Edward was miller of Cornaa, who seemingly continued the family`s war with the Church, and was in 1707 presented for 'His frequent excess drinking to ebriety, and was very lately so drunk at Port-y-Vullen that he was desperately sick and weakly to a great measure ... And also for not coming to Church for 7 months by past, and despising all admonitions for his reformation.' No surprise then that the same year he was charged for milling on Sundays, or that in 1709 he was ordered 'to pay Mr. Allen (the vicar) a Tythe pig of the Mill Crofts for two years'. Kissacks of that age do indeed illustrate the image of the Miller of the Dee. They cared for nobody.

His will, dated 1716, mentions no wife. Yet Jurby registers mention the marriage of an Edward Kissag to Catherine Christian in 1682, and the death in 1696 of Catherine Christian, wife of Ewan Kissag. Should we have read Edward for Ewan ? Nor does the will mention any children, but it raises intriguing vistas of family ramifications. His legatees include William Kissag, Sr., and William Jr., of Douglas, a sister Jane and her eldest daughter, a sister Averick, a David and a John Kissack. To Ewan Kerruish and his wife he left house and croft for the use of their daughter Margaret. Other legatees were Margaret Cannan and Joney Cannan, and there is mention of a debt of ?5.0.0. to John Callow, Quaker, acknowledged. If we are to assume some family connection with Douglas, we can identify the family that had two Williams in it as (OnI). William Jr., must have died about the same time as Edward. He left legacies to his brothers, John, William and Paul. Edward's legacy to John Kissag was '1 /- legacy due to me from Widow Kissag of Kirk Andreas'.

Here then are pointers to a possible family linkage between Andreas, Maughold, Douglas and even Jurby. Edward would be the son of an earlier wife of Ewan (? the Elizabeth who died in 1680 ?), and his birth could probably be dated about 1660.

Was Widow Kissag the relict of James, who got herself presented in 1688 for not frequenting church? James had three children (Ann. In Andreas a Thomas had been buried in 1655, and an Alice married Pat Kewley in 1660.

Though there is equally no obvious link with any of the Maughold families of the l8th century, the fact that Ewan's will had been witnessed by two John Kissags at least suggests that one might have been the miller of Purt-y-Vullen presented in 1688 'for not receiving the sacrament'. It was certainly a trait that was running in the family. And of course it was at Purt-y-Vullen that the miller of Cornaa disgraced himself in 1707. If it were not for their un-puritanical lapses, we might ask if the family in Maughold were associated with the Quakers of Maughold, whose sufferings for conscience in the l7th century is a dark part of the Island`s history.

However the descendants of the John who married Mariod Christian in 1692 (MgIII) were to spread in the parish and beyond. John was a miller and had a house in Ramsey. We need more than parish records to reconstruct their story. The sons John and Edward of the registers (MgIII) never feature elsewhere; Robert and Mary never feature among baptisms. Was Edward a mistake for Robert in the baptisms? Robert's marriage settlement survives, and Mary features in John's will of 1731, but in it Ewan is the chief character, charged with seeing his brother and sister received their due. In 1731 also, Mariod contracts with Joney Skinner of Andreas for Ewan to marry her niece Ellinor Kneale. Perhaps as a result Ewan possessed land in the Nappin of Lezayre. 1731 also saw the death of Mariod, and Ellinor died in 1737 leaving three children, John, Ewan and Joney (LzXII).

From this point, and in contrast with Ewan of Kerrowmoar and Ewan the miller of Lezayre, this Ewan leaves little or no trace at all. A court case in 1741 shows that he had not honoured all the conditions of the 1731 contract, by which Ewan and Ellinor were to have housed and maintained Joney Skinner. But Ellinor`s death must have so disrupted the household that her nephew Robert Kneale had taken Joney in, and was suing Ewan for the cost of her upkeep. The case had some interesting side-lights. It confirms the conjecture that the Ewan Kissag who sired a family of six by Mary Cowley (though no marriage record can be found) was indeed the same Ewan (LzXVI). It hints at an illegitimacy involving Mary Cowley and Robert Kneale; and comments as the judgment of the Court that the sum charged by it to Ewan was 'a fair one considering the present scarcity', a sidelight on a year when, following two successive failed harvests in the Island, plague had followed famine, and 123 burials took place in Lezayre in a single year, against a yearly average of 24. After this Ewan lives unobtrusively, unpresented, with n o will surviving, to be buried in 1774 as 'Ewan Kissag from St. Andrews'.

Mary Cowley's children are part of Lezayre's history. Philip was in court from time to time for being reluctant to part with his money in paying his debts, and in the end was killed by lightning. Barbara her youngest daughter had two 'lapses' in her sex life. Both Philip and Robert left issue, but they are lost to sight after the second generation (LzXXI and XXIII). Ellinor's children were left in the care of the Kneale family, and I would identify the Ewan with the Hugh Kissack, shoemaker, who died in 1819, aged 86 (RyIV), and conjecture the John Kissack who married Catherine Martin might be his brother (RyIII).

John and Mariod's other children lived out their lives (not always long) in Maughold. Robert was miller at Purt-y-Vullen. He had ten children by two wives, of whom 8 were sons (MgIV). Wm. and Constance Radcliffe in their history of Maughold tell us that it was his brother William that succeeded him at Purt-y-Vullen in 1749. He had married Margaret Callow (LzXIII). Their eldest son was Robert (1736-1813). When his first wife Mary Corkill died in 1807, he married Joney Callow (MgVIII). He made over to her his croft at Purt-y-Vullen, by then known as 'Big Rob the Miller's croft', with £10, or 5/- annually, 'not to marry anyone else'.

It will be remembered that William the Merchant's family derived from the Close-y-Killip side of the Lezayre branch. But there was also a Maughold line which came from the Kerrowmoar branch. There was Hugh Kissage who died in 1699, an uncle and guardian of Ewan the Old Sumner, who held land on the Nappin adjacent to Kerrowmoar. His family was all daughters (LzIV), one of whom married Philip Kissage in 1707. (It was this Alice who got the venomous side of Isabel Kissage's tongue). It is unclear where Philip fits into the family, but he must have come from the Close-y-Killip side. They had 8 children of which at least four died in childhood (LzVII). In 1737 they had a double wedding though not all on one day; weddings were too good occasions to spoil that way. Their daughter, Elizabeth married John Kermode, and Ewan Kissage his sister Isobel (MgVI). Philip died the next year, and a year later Alice remarried to Robert Callow of Maughold.

In the next generation one of Ewan and Isobel's sons, Ewan, married Catherine Kerruish (MgIX), and another, William, Margaret Kennish (MgXI). This settled the first in the Rhenab and the second in Ballagorey. The Rhenab line can be followed in MgXVII, MgXX and MgXXI, MgXXIV and MgXXV : and the Ballagorey in MgXVI and MgXXII. Ewan of the Rhenab 1769-1853 combined weaving with farming, Ewan (1808-1885) shoemaking. On the Ballagorey side, William (1775-1842) and his wife Jane Joughin used their farmhouse as an inn.

By 1850 a new trade was entering Maughold life. One of the sons of William and Margaret Morrison (MgXX), T homas Henry, took to mining, and married Isabel Quarrie (MgXXVI). John (b 1843) son of Ewan and Ann Skillicorn, also was a miner, but one of his sons, Robert James (1890-1966) was farming Crow Green in the 1920s (NrIX), and another lived at Glen Mona and worked as a quarryman (NrX).

Of the Ballagorey family, the eldest son of William and Jane (Joughin), William (b 1798) went to Ramsey as a Blacksmith (RyXV), another Thomas set up as a Hatter in Onchan (LoIV), his only son emigrating. John (b 1802) who stayed with the land left a widow who remarried in 1869, and only a daughter for issue, Ann Jane, who married William Caley in 1882 (MgXXII).

Behind MgXXIV is the story of William dying at only 40 in 1881, having buried his firstborn son in 1875, and with a second son born in the same year. His daughters married - Helena to. Thomas Wardle of Bristol, Ann Jane to Caesar Clarke, and Catherine Christian to Albert Chrystal of the Land Agents, and his son Henry became a Warehouseman in Ramsey (MgXXV). By his first wife, Henry had three daughters, one who emigrated; by his second, two sons, Henry Jackson (b 1928) who is now Property Negotiator in Chrystal's and John Ramsey (b 1932), the current Town Surveyor of Ramsey.

These four families, all with Lezayre origins, form the main structure of the Maughold Kissack presence. Of the Merchant`s family, after Isabel Kerruish and Margaret Christian, there was little local intermarriage in the line, and the family tended to move to Douglas, although one son of William II, Henry Oscar lived in Ramsey as an Accountant in 1851. The other three families, however, intermarried and stayed. They took their wives not only from Callows, Christians and Kerruishs, but also from the equally proud Kermodes, Kennishes, Corkills and Corteens. In relation to the land, they did not possess it in large acreages, but they combined other livelihoods with the care of it, inn keeping, weaving, shoemaking, tailoring and mining, not to exclude milling, though this ceased at the beginning of the l9th century.

These Maughold families then were thus released in a very large degree from the frustration of the agricultural labourer's life. Out of the 25 or so family units of the parish, in only two cases are the heads of the family labourers. This is not to say that individuals at various parts of their lives were not so employed. But it suggests that the Kissacks who moved from Lezayre into Maughold fared better than those who stayed. Had they stumbled on the secret of survival in Manx agriculture, not to be encumbered with too much land, but to diversify between trade and crops?

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.


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