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The West and South

The picture that emerges from the Registers of the western parishes of Ballaugh, Michael and German shows that before William (LzXXVII) brought his wife Jane Kaighin and their baby son from Lezayre into Cronk-y-Voddey about 1820, the family name was very rare. The Ballaugh and Michael registers are probably the best kept of the Island, and it is eloquent testimony of the absence of the family to find 76 burials of Kaighins recorded in Michael alone between 1600 and 1745, and only 5 Kissacks up to 1881 in that parish and only 12 in German.

The Ballaugh pattern has its own significance, between 1600 and 1881 there are 14 burials recorded, all but one (1875) in the 17th century, and 10 of these between 1600 and 1610. There must have been a substantial family presence in the pre-registration age, a phenomenon that will be considered later. But the registers indicate no sign of any settled family of the name after 1617, if we except the transitory presence of William (JuXXII) and Jane Kneen between their wedding there in 1847 and their removal to Ramsey where the 1851 Census locates them.

The Michael presence begins when Leah`s son John (JuXIV) brought his Lezayre bride, Jane Kneale into the parish about 1845. The family have remained there, his great-granddaughter now married to Tom Cashin the Schoolmaster (WeX). More transient were the brief residences of the family of the eldest son of William and Jane, William II and Margaret Kermeen (GrIX), in the '40s, and of two sons of the Ballakissack family of Santon in Ballafageen in the '80s (MiIII) and (WeIII).

As we have seen it was German that was to be the home of William and James' progeny at the Tops for some eighty years.

And it is in old St. Peter's in Peel that we find the oldest and probably the most pathetic of monumental inscriptions to bear our name. It is a fragment of slate, only some 2' by 9", artlessly carved, with clear indications that the stone had split off after only a single line had been laboriously cut. The carver had faced his frustration by placing his second line above the first, and his third above that. It is now fixed to the eastern gable of the roofless church, just above where the altar stood, and it reads : "1663 Rest her soul / body of Elin Kisic. I pray God / Hereunder lyeth the".

No professional handiwork here. Whoever carved it loved her, and knew his letters in mid-17th century, no common achievement. The parish records give us no clue at all, neither baptismal, matrimonial or burial. There is no evidence of any Kisig living in Peel in those years, except allusions to William Kissig, a pirate who made it his home port round about 1648, a courtesy seemingly not appreciated by the inhabitants. Could she in some way have been related to him?

It is in German too that we come once again on the tracks of that Lezayre family, left by John Kissack the Miller, when he died in 1785, He had been the eldest son of Mary Corkish, the second wife of Ewan the Miller. The last glimpse of the family (LzXX) had been of Margaret Crow his widow left with 8 children. Now it is a document resulting from the loss at sea of Hugh (or Ewan) their second son that reveals their subsequent story. He had been Captain of the African vessel, Penny, of Liverpool, when she parted company from her little convoy about 1800, never to be heard of again. So a Court needed to decree how his estate should be disposed of, and consequently listed all the survivors of the family. His two younger brothers, Thomas and Edward, were then off the Island, but his brother John, his mother Margaret, and his sisters were in court. One, Margaret, had married John Corkill (or Corkan), Catherine was then wife of Robert Cain, and Ann of Adam Cain. William is not mentioned, but would surely have been the 'young man from Kirk Michael' of that name, buried in Lezayre in 1796.

This however is not the last to be heard of them. In October 1814 brother Edward died in Peel, where he had property described as 'considerable'. It was at any rate considerable enough to unite the brothers John and Thomas, and Adam Cain and John Corkill, to contest the claim of Isabel Cain, his niece, that Edward had dictated a will leaving all he had `to the last halfpenny`, to her. It was all complicated by the death of Margaret their mother in 1814, leaving her estate (and not a few debts) to Edward. The documentation shows what a feast the lawyers were able to make of it, before in the end the nuncupatory will in Isabel`s favour prevailed over the claim that in reality he should be considered as having died intestate, like his brother Hugh. Of interest too, is the note the Vicar-General penned to the scribe who had written the record of the proceedings, ordering him to change to "Deceased" and "Death" throughout his own words of "Deceded" and "Deceasment"!

But there are several German families that elude even conjecture in identification, certainly GrVI, GrII and GrXII. The marriage connections with the Cain family would lend credence to the identification of the above John as the husband of GrIV, and the possibility that he may have married Margaret Mylrea in 1801, after being widowed in 1800. Conjecture too must arise over the mystery of where this family got its wealth, and whether other brothers besides Hugh were sea-farers. Were they all in the Africa trade? The most famous of contemporary slaver captains out of Liverpool in those years was a Hugh Crow (1765-1829) of Lezayre. His gravestone memorialises his parents Edmund Crow and Judith Tear, his sister Judith, her husband and son, two brothers, William and John (who died abroad seemingly slaving), and adds 'also John Crow Snr. who lies interred in this (Maughold) Church Yard'. This sounds as if he were Edmund's father. A son Edmund was baptised to John Crow in 1733, and a daughter Margaret in 1734. She may well have been the widow of John Kissack the miller and mother of these boys, so making them cousins of Hugh Crow. It must however be admitted that the inscription implies that Edmund had been born in 1730. There is a strange legend in the family that there had been a 'black woman' in it. I had come to assume that it referred to Ann Garrett and her morals, but who knows?

However the bulk of the German Kissacks sprang from the immigrants from Lezayre (GrVII). And for these Cronk-y-Voddy Kissacks, Peel was their local town, 7 miles distant, yet visible from the top of their fields. Here the girls would serve their time in a domestic service which would also be a course in domestic science, to lift up the l9th century cottage home above the squalor of the 18th. But only one of their sons, James, settled there after his marriage in 1887 (GrXV). The family would sometimes call themselves the Smerwick Kissacks, for Cowley Terrace, where they lived, had been built from the proceeds of a profitable fishing season out of that port. For his health's sake James had exchanged the mill for the sea. He had always got the head-high independence of the earlier Kissack millers, without however their vices. Once in his youth he made too merry at St. John's and spent the night in a ditch on the Staarvey Road. That delivered him. He died in 1929 in circumstances that provided me with the only personal evidence I have of Manx second-sight.

I was a schoolboy spending my Easter holidays in Douglas with his sister Christian. He had had a stroke some two and a half weeks earlier, but seemed well set for recovery. Aunt Christian had an occult friend who exercised her art through tea-leaves, and at a tea-taking one winter afternoon previously, she told Christian that she saw in her cup Sickness in the West, and No Recovery. But of who and when she would only say : 'I see a bunch of Easter Lilies'. Acquainted of this, I went to Cowley Terrace, oblivious of such old wife's tales, on Easter Saturday, till on entering the house I saw lying on the hall-way table a bunch of daffodils (which the Manx call Easter Lilies.). Next morning in Douglas, against all expectation a telegram reached us to say he was dead.

Three of the Smerwick Kissacks followed their uncle Fred to America - both the sons, Jimmie and Charlie, and the youngest daughter, Maggie. She never married but her name earned fame in Cleveland for her nursing skill and personality. Jimmie went first to Canada in 1908, and later to Cleveland. Like his uncle he was a carpenter. He married, but had no issue. In 1981, aged 93, he returned to the Island, remarried, and now at 97 he has attained the record for longevity of all our Clan. Only Charles left issue, 2 sons and a daughter.

At Cowley Terrace I would be told : there are other Kissacks 'down the street'. I assume they would be WeVIII, but we had no contact.

It is at Peel that German meets Patrick, and Patrick is the parish that links West and South. Into it a Kissack population arrived in the 19th century with almost explosive force. Before this they had only the flimsiest of presences. Parish registers begin late, but an early entry is the burial of Alice Kissag in 1725. A legal case in 1745 alludes to a receipt for the rent of the Nass from Widow Joney Kissag. In 1780 John Kissack marries a widow, Ann Gorham, and in 1795 another John marries Catherine Quirk. The entry in 1760 of the birth of Robert MacKissack heralds the advent of this mysterious family, and their story here will be dealt with later.

There were to be 43 Kissacks born in Patrick between 1820 and 1880, nearly all to have Richard Kissack the Tailor for sire or grandsire. All four of his sons by Catherine Leece settled in Patrick. Richard, we find in ArIII, John's family in PaII, Thomas' in PaIV and James' PaV. All were miners except James. He was an Agricultural Labourer. In the 1841 census, he features as 'James, 15, disabled', which suggests that an accident had left him unable to follow his brothers into the more demanding and more rewarding work in the lead mines.

Like his parents James resided at Ballakerka. Though he is a farm labourer in the censuses, on his own marriage, certificate, 1849, he appears as Mariner as also on his daughter Elizabeth's certificate at her marriage to Robert Clarke in 1877, eight years after James` death at the age of 47 in 1869. Had he been to sea before his marriage? And did he meet disability there?

One of the great grand-daughters of Elizabeth and Robert Clarke, Amelia Edna Harbottle, has supplied details of some of the family's subsequent history. Their son Joshua Stephen married Alice May Cashin in 1902, and Elizabeth emigrated with them to Boisevaine, Manitoba, where she was buried in 1936, aged 83. Family legend tells how when Elizabeth's youngest brother Stephen as a child fell out of a swing and broke his leg, Jane their mother got out horse and cart, and took him to a blacksmith who set his leg perfectly. And on a psychic note, when her eldest brother John was lost at sea in the West Indies, she knew by a dream 'all lost at sea', before ever the news arrived. Of the rest of the family. Ellinor married John Creer and they too have left issue in the United States, and a chance encounter with an Australian John Kissick, has led me to think Stephen may have emigrated there. After James' death, his wife Jane, with their youngest daughter Jane, farmed a small croft in Glen Rushen near the Beckwith Mine.

As for the other, the mining brothers the Patrick labour force of miners was detailed in the 1851 census. There were three grades - Miner, Miners Labourer, and Ore-washers. There were 87 in the first, and 37 in the second. Two of the miners would be Kissacks; in 1861 there would be seven, in 71 two, in '83 three. The family of John (PaII) seen through the censuses, shows himself as lead-miner in '41 and '61; his son Thomas in '61, sons Richard and William in '71, and Richard in '81, with a nephew, Thomas, 21, also miners. But by '71 John had left the mine and was farming 10 acres. Ten years later his widow Catherine Callin and a son William had doubled the holding.

Thomas, John`s brother, husband of Catherine Quirk (PaIV) was an agricultural labourer in '41, a miner in '51 and '61, but in '71 and '81 he was also farming a small croft, a widower living with a daughter Ellen and her husband, Wm. Lees, or Lace, himself a lead-miner in the Rushen Glen area. Age and relative affluence tended to plan the cursus honorum: - Ag-lab, Labourer in Mines, Miner, Crofter.

In the '71 census, the family had given its name to a couple of cottages near the Primitive Methodist Chapel at Patrick, where Thomas and Mary (Nowell) were living (PaVI). (If the 1856 Braddan marriage certificate of Thomas and Mary did not say Thomas was the son of Richard, miner of Foxdale, I should have thought he too was a son of John and Catherine, born 1839 (PaII). There is no baptismal record of any son Thomas born to Richard (PaIII), and in 1881 two nephews in the household of a son of Richard and Catherine, Richard married to Mary (Mylchreest) (PaXI) - Thomas, aged 21 and John aged 9 - would correspond to members of Thomas and Mary (Nowell)'s family but do not fit in with any part of Richard`s tree.)

There were only four of Richard's great-grandsons who worked the mines. The decade count of Patrick family births is also measure of the decline of the Manx mining industry. Against the 43 births of the 6 decades, 1820-1880, the next 6 decades yield only a total of 25, in figures that trail from 9 in 1880/90 to one in 1930/40.

Nevertheless the Patrick family goes on today. The Ralph Kissacks of Ballacannell, Lonan, can go back via DrLVIII, WeIX, PaXI, PaII and ArIII to Richard. And John Frederick, Secretary to the Local Government Board, can trace his line upwards via his grandfather, John Thomas, who for years worked by day in a London foundry, and at evenings and weekends in a slum Mission. His route is :- DrXL, WeVII, PaIX, PaIV, ArIII.

The Patrick patriarch would be the Richard, buried in 1850 aged 69, and I am sure, the Richard who enlisted in the 3rd Corp of Manx Fencibles on October 26, 1807, the son of John Kissack and Ann Corham, a widow nee Cubbon, born 1783 (PaIX). All his children, from Richard (1806) to Elizabeth (1824), were baptised in Arbory, (except Catherine (1809), in St. George's, Douglas). The mother of his first five children (ArIII) is entered as Catherine Leece, the last three as Elizabeth. But his widow's burial of 1863 reads 'Catherine Kissack of Castletown, 83 years'. Aged 81, she was living, at the '61 Census, in Clogher in Malew, with a daughter Elizabeth, 36, married to Samuel Keggin. Both she and her daughter have German recorded as their birth-place.

There is no record of the baptism of another Richard, who married Eleanor Clarke at Arbory in 1788 (ArII), and apart from these two families all of whose entries fall between 1791 and 1824, only one other baptism is recorded for Arbory, that of William, son of William Kissig and Catherine Bridson in 1750 (ArI). He might be a brother of Eleanor Clarke's husband, or even the bridegroom of Margaret Quilliam in 1799. Of other Arbory marriages registered without sign of offspring, certainly the John who married Anne Watterson in 1833 was Isaac's second son in flight from Lezayre. He came to the borders of Rushen and Arbory to labour and farm at Ballagilbert and Kerrowmoar. He married into a landowning family, and even came to share ownership of a few acres on the fringes of South Barrule with the family. He returned north to German in the 1850s. Anne bore him no children, but Leonora, the second wife who he married when over 70 gave him a son and a daughter (GrXIII). But he is buried with Anne in Arbory.

With equal certainty, the Catherine who married William Hutchin in 1781 was a daughter of the Kerrowmoar family (LzX). Other fragments bearing our name can be found :- A John Kissack with a Robert Cannan was functioning in the unpopular office of Lessee of Tithes for the parish in 1778, and the Henry Kissack who features in Malew records is designated 'from Arbory'.

This Henry married first Elizabeth Green in Malew in 1725 (MaVI). Her tombstone in Malew is one of the few Kissack inscriptions recorded by Feltham in his record of Manx grave-yards in 1799:- 'Elizabeth Kissack, alias Green, buried 15 November 1742, aged 43'. The next year he married Joney, the widow of William Bell, at Malew, and in 1745 he was being sued by Richard Bell, William`s executor, for £5.18s.1d. Joney died in 1751, and Henry in 1774, aged 87. The sum here involved, and the fact that he was a juror in Castletown in 1728, suggests he was a bourgeois of some substance. It is not however easy to follow his family forward.

Adjacent to and west of Arbory, Rushen makes the extreme southerly tip of the Island, and has an even fainter Kissack presence than Arbory. Its total baptismal record is of three of the children of its vicar, E. W. Kissack (RuI). This is the more remarkable since it is in Edremony, one of its quarterlands that the family name is found in the earliest land registers of 1510. But it had disappeared by 1631 before the parochial records open A like phenomenon marks Ballaugh, and seems of a piece with what happens later in Lezayre, Jurby and Patrick. Not perhaps to be described as a Clogs to Clogs syndrome, but an indication of a rhythm in the fluctuations of a family never blessed with wide land h oldings. The Manx saying is that a name stays only four generations on a farm. Either the line dies out altogether, or the heiress takes a husband in whose name it is then entered.

We have however been given one vivid picture of the Rev. E. W. Kissack in Rushen from the pen of William Cubbon himself, in his letter to Jimmie Kissack. In his boyhood, he writes :

'Parson Kissack came to our School always on a Monday morning. His chin nad a dimple, and in slzaving he of ten bled it, and that always caught my eye. He gave us a Bible lesson.

I can never forget that Parson for another reason. He came to my Father`s house. And Father said : "Has Parson . Kissage ever been in our house before?" And Mother said "No". Then said Jem Cubbon : "I'll mark the event! " He went into the back-kitchen and brought out a hatchet, and with it made a V-mark on the wood rafter that carried the ceiling above. "There now", said Jem Cubbon, "I've been going to Church in the Sunday morning when I'm in port, and you've seen me there, and I go to Chapel in the evenings, and this is the first time you've been in this house! When we look up we will be reminded of that". And Parson Kissack enjoyed the experience, I think. And somehow or other Jimmie, when I remember your face, with the twinkle in your eye, Pazon Kissack comes into my memory'.

Pazon Kissack was in the 4th generation from William the Miller (in the Merchant`s line), and Jimmie Kissack (of Smerwick and Cleveland) in the sixth of Isaac`s line.

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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