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Kissacks in Jurby

Though the Jurby parish registers show only one Kissack baptism in the 17th century, the family had been present there for many years. A 1643 land entry tells of a Close-y-Kissack, and the will of Mally Kissagg, dated 1686, mentions a son Philip Tear, another son, possibly James, an unmarried brother and an unmarried niece, and 3 daughters who are to be her executors, though only one Mary Tear, is on the Island. In 1692 a William Garrett enters a claim against the estate of Alice Kissag, for what was due to him by the death of her father. Alice was married to Michael Moore.

The one recorded baptism in the 17th century is that of Esable daughter of John and Esable. Weddings are those of William Kissag and Catherine Corrowne (1673), William and Mary Garret (1679), Edward Kissag and Catherine Christian (1682), Pat Kelly and Jaine Kissag (1683), Besides Mally, Eales Kissag was buried (in 1610), and Catherine Christian, wife to Ewan (sic) Kissag (in 1696). The occurrence of the Garret name suggests a special relationship between the families, and it is to the wedding of William Kissag and Esther Garret in 1751 that the Jurby sept trace their descent.

Not only did this couple marry that year, but so did William Garret and Ann Kissage, alias Kewish, and it is a safe hazard to see here a double marriage, the second couple being parents of the first pair. As such Esther's husband was the eldest son (b 1729) of a William who married Ann Kewish in Lezayre in 1727. Ann's will of 1767 refers to William as her only son, so that two other children, Elizabeth and Robert, baptised respectively in Andreas and Jurby, must be presumed to have died. The fact that the children were all baptised in different parishes argues that the father followed an itinerant trade, possibly of miller.

Above 200 names compose the tree that can be constructed across 230 years, out of their marriage. This fact makes one of the contrasts with the Maughold Kissacks. A second one is that there is no sign of any of them ever having owned much land, or been millers. Predominantly they were labourers. They left few wills, but a goodly number of graves Even though the four sons of Esther and William were all labourers, and both Stephen (JuV) and his wife Ann Quayle were buried as paupers, both she and her brother-in-law William (JuVI) have tombstones in the parish churchyard. Their nephew, John, 1795-1869 (JuXII) also a labourer, put up a stone to his 2 year old daughter.

Nicholas, 1793-1849 (JuVI), a grandson of William and Esther, became a shoemaker. Two sons, William (JuXXII) and John (JuXXIV) followed him, though William had reverted to the farm by 1861, and Nicholas' widow also became a farm labourer. Thomas 1798-1883, (JuXIX) progressed from agricultural labourer to butcher. The next generation saw Daniel, 1835-1906, (JuXXIII) a joiner, and Thomas, 1825-1867 (JuVIII) a tailor. At least two of those who stayed with the land described themselves as farmers in the 1861 census.

As the Lezayre family died out or moved away, Ewan's legitimate line to America, his illegitimate one to German, Jurby families moved in. One was that of William and Margaret (Wade) (JuXX), who settled in upper Narradale, first as Steward of 150 acres of Par kin Larkin, and later in the Geary. After his death his widow and some of the children moved to Ramsey and kept a dairy. This family was preceded by a son of Stephen, John, 1796-1868, (JuXII). He had 13 children by two wives. His widow married Thomas Criggall, and in 1881 was living in Glen Auldyn, with three of John's children, Edward a weaver, Robert and Isabella.

Another Jurby gravestone commemorates Robert (JuXXVIII), 18301902, 'loved and respected by all, Jesus called and he bade his farewell' a far cry from the millers of Maughold and Lezayre a century before. A grandson of William and Esther, the 1851 census shows him as an agricultural labourer with his father in the Curragh. Ten years later, married to Margaret Caley, he is labouring on a farm in Lezayre. The 1871 census shows him farming 13 acres at Ballacrellin in Andreas, and the 1881 census shows him settled at Purt in Bride, where he remained till his death. He had 3 sons, but they do not seem to have left issue on the Island.

This is somehow in keeping with the anomaly that Bride, the northernmost parish on the Island, has never been a home for long to any Kissacks. The only occurrence of the name in the parish registers are in connection with the marriages of William Kissack and Margaret Martin in 1834 (JuXVIII); of Eliza Kissack and Henry Corkish in 1839; and of James to Jane Skillicorn (Bil) in 1844; in connection with the baptisms of the children of James and Jane, and of 3 children of the Rev. E. W. Kissack and Jane le Mare (Run: and in 1906 with the marriage of one of those sons, Henry to Tina Hutchinson (NrIII): plus a solitary burial in 1845 of Ann Kissack, an infant, probably the daughter of James and Jane above. There is also the record of the baptism in 1799 of Catherine and Ann, daughters of Matthias Kinrade and Jane MacKissack, who had been married in Bride in 1776.

The censuses connect another family which settled in Michael about 1845 with an origin in Jurby. But who was this John who died in 1859 aged 40', born in Jurby? All the available clues - including the suspicious absence of family tradition - point to the illegitimate son of Leah, daughter of Stephen (JuV), born in 1817. He is found at Shughlage as a farm-servant of 20 in 1841, married to Jane Kneale at Lezayre in 1845, and living on 'the mountain' near Ballaskyr in 1851 (MiI). His eldest son John emigrated for a while to Cumberland, where he married and had a daughter Mary Jane. But being widowed he returned to the Island, married Henrietta Renton in 1889, and had 4 further children (MiII), 'all born after she was 40. He worked at Ivey Cottage, Michael, as gardener following a period as a lead-miner, whilst he was caring for his mother and his sisters. (His mother died in 1891). His own son John was a builder in Kirk Michael, who married Ada Quayle (WeX).

Other families, as one would expect, emigrated further afield. Leah's youngest brother William married Mary Lewin (JuXI). Their son cousin, John in 1851. They emigrated to America, finally settling in Wisconsin. (It was a photograph of her grave, recording her birth in Michael, sent on random chance to the post-master in Peel, that led to the ultimate meeting of her great-grand-daughter with the descendants of John Kissack above).

One of the largest Jurby families, that of John and Catherine Craine, (JuXXI) has its own saga of emigration. The grand-daughter of Elinor the eldest child relates: 'All grandma's brothers went to the States, except Danny. Johnny the eldest did exceptionally well in Illinois. The railway needed his land . . . He contributed largely to building the first Methodist Episcopal Church in Farmer City. William also went out. My grandmother said he was the one closest to their mother. She had one letter from him and after that nothing.'

Daniel, the one that remained behind, did not stay in Jurby. He married Mary Ann Oats (AnXIV) and worked for the Post Office.

The census returns from 1841 onwards, and the standardised certification of birth and marriages which began about the same time, and became compulsory about 1880 provide much information about the condition of families, so that in subsequent generations families descending from a background completely agrarian and uneducated can be found in occupations such as Fisherman, Mariner (even Master Mariner), Coal-merchant, Wharehouse-man, Provender-dealer, Baker, Engineer, Foundry worker, Gas-worker, Advocate`s clerk, and (especially on the mainland) Policeman. Wesley Kissack, six generations from William and Esther, held important posts in social welfare institutions in England (NcVII).

In the 5 censuses, 1841-1881, it is possible to locate 16 of the 33 family units that make up Jurby's contribution to the Gazeteer. A count of the children in those censuses gives 11, 19, 31, 18 and 15 respectively. The peak, in the decade '51-'61, corresponds to the graph of baptisms-per decade which I use as a density-quantum to measure the family presence in a parish. This also shows a peak for Jurby in the 1850s (18), as also in the 90s (14). But then after 13 in the 1870s, it falls to nil, for the first time since 1740s. As the tribe of William and Esther drew away from the soil, they also drew away from Jurby.

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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