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Alexander Christie (1814-1883)

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Early migrant from Midlothian to Adelaide (embarking from Liverpool), who then fathered 13 children and became a politician

Biography

Outline

Alexander Christie was born 6 December 1814 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom to William Christie (-1817) and Ann Maxwell (c1780-) and died 27 February 1883 in Cape Jervis, South Australia, Australia of unspecified causes. He married Ann Dowie (1820-1897) 26 December 1838 in Parish Church of St George, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom. Ancestors are from the United Kingdom.

Ancestry background

An excerpt from “The Christie history’, written and read by Malcolm Collins for the Christie reunion on 22.3.1969 at Cape Jervis:-

“The Christie family of Scotland are regarded as forming a Sept of the Farquharson Clan with its centre at Braemar Castle in the Eastern Highlands. Rumour has it that our branch lent some support to the clan of Rob Roy, a colourful character with a great liking for the goods and cattle of the Earl of Montrose. Records of births and baptisms were voluntary prior to 1855 at Register House, Edinburgh, and relate only to information kept by the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Christie’s may have belonged to the Free Church of Scotland and records kept at individual churches.”

Family in Scotland

“The parents of Alexander Christie, William and Ann Christie, nee Maxwell, lived at Leith Walk, Edinburgh, where he was employed as a gardener, later moving to Stirling and engaged in business as a merchant till his death in 1817, leaving a young family of children, three boys and two girls. The eldest, Janet Maxwell Christie, was born on 15.12.1808, and married Alexander Dick in November 1839. William Christie, date of birth unknown, is assumed to be the second child. He and his wife Lillias, lived in Glasgow from 1837 or before. Twins Alexander and Maxwell Christie, were born on 6.12.1814. Maxwell Christie married Ann Gilchrist on 11.12.1838, at St Enoch’s, Glasgow. Ann Maxwell Christie, the youngest of the family was born at Stirling on 27.3.1816. She arrived at Port Adelaide in 1850, believed to be on the ship ‘The Black Douglas’. On 11.3.1851, she married Hugh Watson, at Manse, Freeman Street, Adelaide. They eventually moved to a property at Delamere, which they named ‘Blinc Bonnie” and had a family of six.”

The notes of Mr Hugh Anderson Watson state:-

“My two uncles, Maxwell and Alexander Christie (twins), after leaving school, Maxwell served his apprenticeship to a house carpenter and builder. Alexander spent most of his youth on the quays and wharfs on the Firth of Clyde where he learnt all there was to learn about sailing boats and handling small craft, and fishing boats. He always loved the salt water. People used to say that it ran in his veins. Alexander was known as Sandy.”

Alexander married Ann Dowie on 26.12.1838, in the Parish Church of St George, Edinburgh. The officiating minister was Rev. David Welsh. Ann Dowie was born on 30.10.1820 and was employed at the home of Rev. David Welsh, 59 Melville Street, Edinburgh, Scotland. Ann was the daughter of the late William Dowie, a wright. She had a brother named John.

To South Australia

The excerpt from ‘The Christie History’ continues:-

“The twins and their wives said farewell to Edinburgh on 3.1.1839, en route to Liverpool and South Australia. The ‘Sir Charles Forbes’ of 363 tons was at Liverpool docks loading for Port Adelaide. She sailed on 23.1.1839, with 171 passengers, Capt. Charles Lang in command, and a crew of 16 men. James Gilchrist, brother-in-law of Maxwell, was also a passenger. They arrived at Port Adelaide on 7.6.1839. At that time land in the colony was being sold for one pound per acre, an 80 acre section for 80 pounds, with one acre in the city as a bonus. Records show A & M Christie purchased section 93, in District B for 80 pound. Their town acre is believed to have been in Hindley Street. Records of 1843 show Alexander on Sec. 90, Sturt Road, Mitcham. Records of 1841 list Maxwell on Sec. 90, District B. He called his farm ‘Woodside’. The neighbour on Sec.91 was Hugh Watson. He called his farm ‘Woodend’. These farms would have been only 3-4 miles from Adelaide.”

“Little is known of Alexander while he lived near Adelaide. In a letter to his sister, Janet, headed Adelaide, 3rd October 1839, he mentions small snakes on the land nearby as being “something like the adders we used to see in the back walk at Stirling.” Seven children were born at this time, one, Margaret, died on 6th September 1853, aged 14 moths and is buried at St Mary’s Churchyard at Edwardstown. William, the eldest, began his schooling at St Leonards, near Glenelg.”

Daughter Margaret’s death was recorded in the Register newspaper on 17.9.1853 – “On 6th Sept, 1853, Margaret – younger daughter of Alexander Christie, at Woodside, Black Forest.”

Cape Jervis

The excerpt from ‘The Christie History’ continues:-

“On 31st July 1856, Alexander Christie purchased Sec.103, in Hundred of Waitpinga (at Cape Jervis) 115 acres for 115 pounds and on 1st September, 1856, Sec 102. 77 acres for 77 pounds, these were original land grants. On 20th January, 1858, he purchased land at Delamere, part Sec. 1519 Hundred of Yankalilla, 31 acres, this had been the home of John Cassells. It was transferred to William Christie on 15th June 1886.”

The birth of Henry Samuel was recorded in the Register newspaper on 30.5.1856 – “On the inst., at the Stockyards, Rapid Bay, Mrs Alexander Christie, of a son.”

Alexander was granted a slaughtering licence on November 20th, 1858 according to the SA Advertiser.

The Christie Family Histories”, compiled by Kathleen A. Mitchell, states:-

“In 1858, The Glenburn Wesleyan Church was opened. The first class leader (minister) was Mr Lambert Ferris Bawden. Joel Cole gave the land, in 1858, where the church was built, near a flowing creek surrounded by lovely hills. The creek at the back of this church, run s back up a valley which was known for its lovely field of lilies. This same creek runs past the land owned by Alexander, section 1519. According to what I have been told, during the pregnancy of her 9th child, Ann Dowie Christie would walk to and from Cape Jervis to cook for their sons who worked the farms. When the child was due Alexander had to send for the midwife, Mrs Bawden, and she encouraged Alexander to call the child, if a boy, after her husband, Lambert Ferris Bawden. Thus Lambert’s name. The Christie name has been associated with the chapel ever since.”

The Government Gazette of May 24th 1860 announced appointments to the South Australian Volunteer Military Force. Alexander Christies was made Lieutenant.

Agnes, the eldest daughter of Alexander and Ann, was married on the 13th November 1861. It is believed it was the first wedding ceremony performed in the Glenburn Wesleyan Church.

The notes of Mr Hugh Anderson Watson state:-

“Alexander arranged for Mr Thomas to build the Christie homestead at Cape Jervis. Mr Thomas lived near the Glenburn Wesleyan Church, now known as the Uniting Church. He would go down each day and work on the house. It took seven years to build. There also was a large underground tank built, estimated to hold 30,000 gallons of water. It is said that a dance was held in it when it was completed. By 1863-65, the homestead of the Christie family should have been completed.”

“The District Council of Rapid Bay was proclaimed on the 19th March 1856, severing relations with the District Council of Yankalilla. The earliest available records, dated 1875 July 1864, list the name of A. Christie among the eight nominations for three councillors; however, he was not elected. However, he was successful in the following two years, 1865-6 and represented Cape Jervis Ward.”

The birth of the twins Lily and Jemima was also recorded in the Register newspaper on 24.5.1865 – “CHRISTIE – on the 22nd May, at Cape Jervis, Mrs A. Christie, of twin daughters.”

The Kangaroo Island Mail Run

The notes of Mr Hugh Anderson Watson continue:-

“After coming to Cape Jervis Alexander met an old sailor named Jock Thompson and his two sons, George and Alex, they lived in a hut on the beach near the boat harbour. This old sailor had a small boat and made a scanty living by catching fish when the weather was favourable. He would sell his catch to the miners of the Talisker Mines, also to the local residents. In the course of time, Alexander came to light with a fine big new boat of his own. I believe it was about 26 feet long, a cutter rig with masts and sails. In the larger boat he and Jock Thompson often crossed to Kangaroo Island carrying passengers or goods of any kind or anything else that was offering. About the year 1866, the people of Kangaroo Island wanted a regular mail service. They eventually petitioned the Government for a weekly service to go overland too and from Cape Jervis, thence by boat to Hog Bay, a distance of 8-9 miles, and from there along the coast to Kingscote, about another 30 miles. After many attempts, the request was granted and tenders were invited for the boat service, and the successful tenders were A. Christies and J. Thompson, and the term was for three years. They had the first two terms and carried the mail for 6 years. The next term was secured by Mr Harry Bates of Kangaroo Island. As there was nothing now for Jock Thompson to do at Cape Jervis, he and his two sons shifted their camp to Yorke Peninsula. After a time A. Christie got the mail contract back and carried it on with the help of his sons.”

From the “Southern Argus”, 28th July, 1866:-

“A meeting of the promoters of the Nickel and Cobalt Mine was held at the Silverton Hotel on the evening of the 19th Instant. Capt Barklay was voted to be chairman of the meeting. It was proposed by Mr Alexander Christie, and seconded by Capt. Price, that the company should consist of 5,000 shares, 2000 to be held by the promoters as paid up, and the remaining 3000 to be offered to the public at five pound per share to be paid in calls as required for working of the mine. Mr A Abrahams was appointed secretary, and it was resolved that he should take immediate steps to organise the company to work the mine. It was then resolved that the mine should be called the Wheal Christie, and the health of Mr Christie was drunk with bumpers. Messrs. Alexander Christie, R.J. Shepherd, Capt. Barklay and Capt. Price were elected directors pro term.”

In the 1867 Adelaide Almanack, an Alex Christie is listed as a farmer at Stockyards in the district of Rapid Bay.

A cutting from a Methodist paper of 1904 states:-

“For years before 1876, services were conducted in Cape Jervis, first in Mr Christie’s house and then in a building erected for a day school. Alexander Christie was instrumental in having a day school established for the education of children in the area. He provided a portion of land for the erection of a building and in 1867 a school was opened with 20 pupils, later increasing to 70.”

The marriage of son William was recorded in the Register newspaper on 12.6.1868 – “CHRISTIE-ROBERTSON – On the 28th May, at the residence of the bride’s mother, by the Rev. J.G. Millard, William Christie, eldest son of Mr Alex Christie, Cape Jervis, to Mary Robertson, eldest daughter of the late Mr James Robertson, Marion Road.”

The marriage of daughter Ann was recorded in the Register newspaper on 16.4.1870 – “JONES-CHRISTIE – On the 13th April, in the house of the bride’s father, Cape Jervis, by licence, by the Rev. John Sinclair, of Yankalilla, Thomas, third son of Mr John Jones, South Richmond, to Ann, second daughter of Mr Alex Christie, Cape Jervis.”

The 1876 South Australian Directory has Alexander Christie as a farmer at Cape Jervis, and William Christie as a farmer at Stockyards, Rapid Bay. I suspect this is son William (1841) taking over the old property, while his father Alex 1814) moves to new land at Cape Jervis. In the 1881 Directory of South Australia, Alexander (1814) is listed as a farmer at Cape Jervis, son John is a farmer at Cape Jervis. Daughter Ann is at Cape Jervis and daughter Agnes is at Stansbury. A.J. Christie is listed as a storekeeper at Hog Bay Kangaroo Island, and a William Christie is a farmer at Delamere.

Death in the Harbour

The Christie Family Histories” continues:-

“In February 1883, Alexander Christie took his dinghy from the boat harbour and went up the gulf about due north, fishing as usual. He went to what was known as the snapper ground, about a mile out from Morgan’s Beach, and nearly two miles from the boat harbour. After fishing for several hours the wind rose to quite a strong breeze from the south, so Mr Christie, in making for home, had to pull his boat right against the wind, and, of course, made very slow progress. His people watched him from land and could see that he was exhausted but could render no assistance. His son Maxwell, and his son-in-law, Tom Jones, were on the edge of the channel that led into the harbour, waiting to give any assistance they could. Mr Christie pulled his boat to within a few yards of the channel, or entrance to the harbour, and then stopped, thinking no doubt that the rush of water would carry him through, but unfortunately it didn’t, it turned the boat broadside on, and in a second it was upside down, and Mr Christie was thrown into the water, almost inside the boat harbour. His son, Maxwell, dashed into the water and brought him quickly to land, and with the assistance of the Lighthouse staff and others they tried for more than an hour to resuscitate him, but all to no avail. Alexander Christie had dies, on the 27th February 1883, aged 67 years.”

Alexander left a will in which all his property was left to his wife. Ann Dowie Christie lived out her days at the homestead for the following 14 years and on the 17th January 1897, at the age of 76, she passed away. Both are buried in the cemetery at Bullaparinga.



Children


Offspring of Alexander Christie and Ann Dowie (1820-1897)
Name Birth Death Joined with
William Christie (1841-1923) 4 June 1841 Rapid Bay, South Australia, Australia 24 February 1923 North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia Mary Robertson (c1841-1881)

Agnes Christie (1843-1927)
Ann Christie (1846-1905)
John Christie (1848-1921)
Maxwell Alexander Christie (1850-1926)
Margaret Christie (1852-1853)
Janet Christie (1854-1933)
Henry Samuel Christie (1856-1946)
Lambert Ferris Bowden Christie (1858-1934)
Hugh Watson Christie (1860-1927)
Jane Christie (1863-?)
Lillias Christie (1865-1952)
Jemima Christie (1865-1901)



Sources and notes

‡ General
  • The Christie History, by Malcolm Collins, 22/3/1969
  • The Register newspaper
  • The Christie Family Histories, compiled by Kathleen A Mitchell
  • The notes of Mr Hugh Anderson Watson
  • The Southern Argus newspaper
  • Adelaide Almanack
  • Methodist paper of 1904
  • South Australian Directories
  • The Adelaide Advertiser newspaper



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