Illiam Dhone

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Illiam Dhône

Illiam Dhône[1] or Illiam Dhôan[1]:xxxix (14 April 1608 – 2 January 1663), also known as William Christian, was a Manx politician and depending on viewpoint, patriot, rebel or traitor. He was a son of Ewan Christian, a deemster; in Manx, Illiam Dhône literally translates to Brown William — a name he received due to his dark hair, and in English he was called Brown-haired William.[1]:xxxix

Rise to prominence[edit]

In 1648 the Lord of Mann, James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, appointed Christian as Receiver General. In 1651 the Earl went to England to fight for Charles II and Christian was left in command of the island militia, the Earl was taken prisoner at the Battle of Worcester, and his wife Charlotte de la Tremouille, who was residing on the Island, sought to obtain her husband's release by negotiating with the victorious parliamentarians for the surrender of the island.

At once a revolt headed by Christian broke out, the Manx Rebellion of 1651,[1] partly as a consequence of this step and partly due to discontent caused by some agrarian arrangements recently introduced by the Earl, the rebels seized many of the island forts and then Christian entered into negotiations with the parliamentarians. The island was soon in the power of Colonel Robert Duckenfield, who had brought the parliamentary fleet to Mann in October 1651, the Countess of Derby was compelled to surrender her two fortresses, Castle Rushen and Peel Castle, and Christian remained Receiver General. He then became Governor of the Isle of Man in 1656.

Imprisonment and trial[edit]

Two years later, however, Christian was accused of misappropriating money, although these charges were never substantiated, he fled to England, and in 1660 was arrested in London. After serving a year of imprisonment he returned to Mann, hoping that his offence against the Earl of Derby would be condoned under the Act of Indemnity of 1661; but, anxious to punish his conduct, Charles, the new Earl, ordered his seizure. At his trial, Christian refused to plead, and the House of Keys declared that his life and property were at the mercy of the Lord of Mann, the Deemsters then passed sentence, and Christian was executed by shooting at Hango Hill (near what is now Janet's Corner, Castletown, on 2 January 1663.[2]


This arbitrary act angered King Charles II and his advisers, the deemsters and others were punished, and some reparation was made to Christian's family. Christian is chiefly celebrated through the Manx ballad Baase Illiam Dhône, which has been translated into English by John Crellin in 1774[1]:107–110 (and separately by George Borrow[citation needed]), and through the references to him in Sir Walter Scott's Peveril of the Peak.