Select Christie Miscellany

Here are some Christie stories and accounts over the years:

Christies in Fife

Christies were farmers at Fostertoun in the parish of Kinglassie in Fife in the 17th century.  They were recorded at that time as follows:
- James Chrystie and Alison Corrour were married on November 21, 1632 in Kinglassie
- Their children were baptized at Fostertoun
   (witnesses at the baptisms were Patrick Corrour, Thomas Chrystie, David Chrystie, George Chrystie elder
    and younger, and James Chrystie).
- James Chrystie was buried in March 1652. 
   (his will was registered in Fostertoun, Kinglassie parish on July 21, 1652)
- Alison Currour, relict of James Christie and tenant in Fostertoun, Markinch parish, died on January 29, 1675.

Christies and Christys

Christies are from Scotland, Christys from Ireland.  However, the main Christy presence today seems to be in America.  The table below shows the current approxiamete numbers of Christies and Christys.

Numbers (000's)



The Christies and Norway

The connection between Norway and the northeast of Scotland began with the Vikings who held sway from the late 8th century until the end of the 11th century.  Scotland has since returned the flow.  Famous Norwegians such as Grieg and Christie have Scottish roots.  Grieg in fact married a daughter of the magistrate W.F.K. Christie.

The Christie name is to be found in Stavanger, Bergen, Oslo, and other Norwegian towns.  The earliest known of these Christies was Edward Christie, who died in Bergen in 1599.  He had only one daughter.  So there are no Christies from him in Norway.

An Andrew Christie from Montrose in Scotland came to Bergen in 1654.  He and his wife Anna were the forerunners, via a postmaster and merchant in Kristiansund  of a number of famous Norwegian Christies.  The members of this family ran as follows:

Johan Koren Christie (1745-1823), Kristiansund postmaster and merchant
- son Edvard Eilert Christie (1773-1831), Kristiansund  customs officer and merchant
   - Edvard Christie (1812-1896)
      - Sara Stockfleth Christie (1857-1948), an educator and politician
   - Johan Koren Christie (1814-1885), a writer in the Norwegian nationalist cause
- son Wilhelm Frimann Christie (1778-1849), first president of the Norwegian parliament
- nephew Werner Hosewinckel Christie (1785-1872), a customs officer
   - Hans Langsted Christie (1826-1907), a jurist and politician
   - Johan Koren Christie (1827-1907), an engineer
      - Werner Hosewinckel Christie (1877-1927), a professor of agriculture
         - Johan Koren Christie (1909-1995), a general in the Norwegian air force
         - Amalie Christie (1913-2010), a pianist
         - Werner Hosewinckel Christie (1917-2004), a general in the Norwegian air force
            - Werner Hosewinckel Christie (born in 1949), Norway's first Minister of Health
   - Eilert Christian Brodtkurb Christie (1832-1906), a noted Norwegian architect
- nephew Hartvig Caspar Christie (1788-1869), a naval commander
   - Hartvig Caspar Christie (1826-1873), a mineralogist and physicist
      - Harvig Caspar Christie (1893-1959), a priest and politician

Erling Christie, who died in 1996, was a Norwegian modernist poet, inspired - it has been said - by T.S Eliot.

James Christie the Auctioneer

Christie's company literature states that their founder James Christie conducted his first sale in London in December 1766 and that the earliest auction catalog dates from this time.  Two years later Christie took over two houses in Pall Mall and built in the gardens in the rear a "spacious and lofty" auction room.    

Christie was by all accounts a charming and persuasive advocate of his trade.  He was a close friend and neighbor of Thomas Gainsborough who painted his portrait.  Gainsborough depicted the auctioneer leaning on one of the artist's own landscape paintings and holding a piece of paper in his right hand, perhaps an auction list.  Christie wore a sober brown frock suit, a white linen shirt, and a formal wig.  On the little finger of his left hand was a signet ring.  Two pendant seals dangled from watches worn about his waist.  His dress and jewellry befitted a cosmopolitan English gentleman of the 1700's.

Gainsborough's picture hung in Christie's auction room.  Some forty years after James Christie's death, Christie's auctioned it.

The Christies of Glyndebourne

These Christies were of Swiss origin.   Daniel Christin had wasted his money there and sought his fortune by enlisting in the East India Company.  He changed his name to Christie on joining the Bombay engineers, rising there to the rank of major.  Chivalrously, he prevented a contingent of British soldiers from robbing the ruler's harem of their jewellery.  The ruler in gratitude - fearing a different intent on the part of the soldiers - gave the gems to Christin.  He was rewarded by the Sultan with a fortune of about £20,000.

How he came to meet and woo the daughter and heiress of Sir Patrick Langham of Glyndebourne in Sussex and Tipeley in Devon is not recorded.  But it was their grandson, William Langham Christie, who combined the two estates.  John Christie of this family founded the Glyndebourne Festival Opera at Glyndebourne in 1934 which is still going strong today.

In 2009, the Christie family put up for sale a 17th century Italian painting of Saint John the Evangelist known as Il Domenichino.  It had been in their possession for more than a hundred years.  The painting was of course auctioned by Christie's.

The Dragon Seas

In Agnes Short's novel The Dragon Seas, the Christie family have moved from being simple fishingfolk to prosperous traders, carrying goods to Europe and the Baltic.  But now a new venture is coccupying their minds, the China tea-trade.  Ships from Aberdeen are making the long voyage from cold grey northern waters to the silky, warm seas of the East.

The Dragon Seas splendidly evokes the cool, bright, bustling world of Aberdeen in the mid 19th century, with its merchants, its doctors, its seafarers and its shipbuilders now absorbed in the arguments of steam versus sail. 

Samuel Christy and His Two Sons

Samuel Christy had come to Virginia sometime in the 1720's and settled to farm near the mouth of the York river in Gloucester county.  He died without leaving a will.  According to the old English law, it was the oldest son Samuel who inherited all of his father's lands, as well as his slaves.

Shortly thereafter, however, Samuel's entire family and all but one of his slaves died from smallpox.  The next son Julius, who had recently been apprenticed to a man named James Booker to learn the carpenter's trade, was away from home at the time and fortunately did not catch the fever.  The one surviving black was subsequently inherited by Julius and worked for him as a carpenter's assistant.

The Death of Alexander Christie

Alexander Christie was an early settler into South Australia, having arrived there from Edinburgh in 1839. After an eventful life, he met his death one day in a small boat after the wind had got up.  Kathleen Mitchell described the accident in The Christie Family Histories as follows:

"In February 1883, Alexander Christie took his dinghy from the boat harbor 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 Morganís Beach and nearly two miles from the boat harbor. 

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 that they could. 

Mr Christie pulled his boat to within a few yards of the channel or entrance to the harbor and then stopped, thinking no doubt that the rush of water would carry him through.  But unfortunately it didnít.  It turned the boat broadside on and in a second it was upside down.  Mr Christie was thrown into the water, almost inside the boat harbor.

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 died, on February 27 1883, at the age of 67."

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