Family stories 2 — About the Christisons

On my original website — well, almost original as the first one on Talk City (2000) is long gone — I had a gallery with notes about my mother’s family. Unfortunately my copies of the full-size pictures vanished some time ago when my old computer crashed and had to be reformatted. Fortunately I was able to retrieve the small versions, which give some idea at least.

Roy The pic on the left is Roy Christison in the late 1880s. What a cutie! Can you see any resemblance? Does the fact so many of my ancestors seem to have worn dresses have any bearing on my later life? 😉 The Tartan I used to think is Gordon, but I find it is probably Farquarson, as the Christisons of the Aberdeen-Montrose area are a sept of that clan. But then, given the information Karly Morgan, another descendent of John’s, sent me in April 2003, perhaps it is Gordon after all; Roy’s sister Isobel johnhad told me it was when she first showed me his father John’s picture, which is on the right, full size!

My maternal great-grandfather, John Hampton Christison. A bit Byronic in several ways by all accounts. This picture was taken in the late 1880s. He was an interesting character who published a book on Scottish dancing and etiquette. (Christison, JH. (1882), Manual of Dancing and Etiquette, 793.4 C. Mitchell Library, Sydney.) He was born in Scotland. (5th May 1858, Brechin, Angus, Scotland; married Sophia Jane Lillie in Australia 1880.) I had always thought John Christison was born in Australia. His father was David Christison (1828-1905) who was born in Fife, Scotland, and died 11th November 1905 at Joadja Creek, NSW, now a ghost town. He was in his later years a Lamp Lighter for Mittagong Council. John certainly took his family back to Scotland, around the time these photos were taken, in Maitland NSW, in fact, and I suspect before departure sometime in the later 1880s. One winter was enough to persuade them to return to Australia. My grandfather Roy remembered the locals in Inverurie (or was it Inverbervie?) calling out to them, “Kiltie, kiltie cold bum” as they swanned down the street in this gear.

Wendy Plunkett in Melbourne sent me these details on January 28 2003.

John Hampton Christison was my Great Grandfather too, so I think that makes us second cousins. I’ve been tracing the history of my various lines for about 10 years now, but have only got to look at the Christisons here in Australia recently, although I visited Scotland in 1997 and traced the family back a couple of generations. David Christison [father of John Hampton] was born in Fettercairn, the son of David Christison and Janet Hampton [or Hanton], which is where the name originated. He had a twin brother Alexander [Don’t know whether he died in childhood] and at least three other siblings. In the 1841 Census David [the Younger] aged 13 was apprenticed to a tailor, Alex Anderson, whilst elder brother, James, aged 18 was apprenticed to a shoemaker, Will Silver. In the 1851 Census David [the Elder] is listed as a crofter and agricultural labourer, while wife Janet is a schoolmistress. [Schoolteaching has continued strongly through the generations I see!] David married Catherine Belford in December 1852 and they had nine children, all born in Brechin, Angus Scotland. [Angus is next to Kincardine.]

Two girls and two boys appear to have died in early childhood, but the other 5 all drifted to Australia at some stage. John Hampton was the first, having left his ship c. 1878, I think, and married Sophia Lillie in 1880. David and Catherine arrived in 1885 on the “Florida” with their two daughters, Jessie and Lizzie. Their youngest son, Alexander Belford, arrived in 1886 and David, the eldest living child, and his wife [Catherine Angus] came in 1888. I have been trying to fill in the gap after the family returned from their visit to Scotland in 1889. JHCI think that John Hampton [another pic on the right] went to the Boer War in 1899, but haven’t been able to establish what he did before. He says he was divorced in 1892, when he married Mary Mohr in Melbourne in 1909. She was born in Mittagong, the same year as his eldest daughter, Lillie Violet, and was 24 years younger than him. They had three daughters, Katherine Belford,Effie Edzell and Shelah de Lisle. He was a “Railway Official” in 1909, but was back to “Dancing Teacher ” when he died in 1923. I would like to catch up with some descendants of his second family to see what their stories are.

More pieces in the puzzle, thanks to Karly Morgan, a descendant of Isobel, my grandfather Roy’s sister. One of Isobel’s daughters tells this story:

John Christison was a member of the Gordon Highlanders before he came to Australia. He paid two pound to pay his way out of the regiment and joined a ship’s crew to pay his way to Australia.

SophiaWhen Sophia (pic on the right) and John were newly married they lived at Clarence Town and owned a vineyard at Hinton (near Maitland). John taught highland dancing at night in Maitland. He also later taught in a private school. They went to Scotland when nanny was 2 years old and remained there until she was 6. John received the highest medal possible for his dancing and danced before the Queen, (Victoria). When they were coming back to Australia Sophia was on the boat with her four children when John refused to board the boat. DavidSo she sailed here on her own* and went to live with her parents, George and Mary Lillie. John Christison returned to Australia on the next available boat and kidnapped his two sons from school, in Sydney [that’s the other son, David, on the left], and took them to his parent’s house in Mittagong. The police were called and the boys were returned to their mother. John Christison remarried in Rose Bay, Sydney, and he had two children by that marriage.

A bit of a contradiction there about John’s second marriage though. In one of the memoirs my mother left to me, she adds:

[In 1906] Dad (Roy) completed his training at the age of 20 and his first school was a very small place called Spencer on the Hawkesbury River. It was 11 miles down river from Brooklyn Railway Station. In those days it was only accessible by water so Dad was met and rowed by one of the fishermen’s mother to his place of “work”. He was one of the luckier ones because he had his mother (Sophia) who at a young age had been left to shoulder the responsibility of bringing up her family alone. To do this she took in boarders and herself, a very refined lady, went out to work starting at 3 am to scrub and clean office buildings in the city. With two of her children married and the youngest daughter able to stay with her married sister it left Gran free to go with Dad to become his housekeeper. He felt he owed her his help and care now he was in a position to give it to her. I think his wages were about nine pound a month. He was able to rent a sort of cottage — slab built…

And that story will form another page later on, but you will see my grandfather had an exciting childhood.

* My mother told me that during World War II Sophia told her the whole story, very late at night, but my mother’s mind was on babies (me probably) and a husband and brothers at war, so she didn’t really listen… I do recall my mother telling me though that the real reason Sophia left so precipitously was that she had seen something quite dreadful. I have given a hint above by using the word “Byronic”. By the way, I remember Sophia, just; she died when I was nine, the same year as my sister.

Connection with Christison of Lammermoor?

One of Queensland’s more interesting pioneers, something of a trail-blazer in Aboriginal relations, was Robert Christison of Lammermoor Station and Cameron Downs. He in turn was the nephew of Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882), an eminent professor of toxicology and medical jurisprudence at Edinburgh University. There is even a connection between him and Sherlock Holmes! The fourth baronet, Lieutenant-General (Alexander Frank) Philip Christison, a major British military figure of the Second World War, died in 1993 at 100 years old, but thirty years earlier my grandfather had a letter from the Old Country questioning his relationship to this family. If there is a connection, it must be distant.

See also About the Whitfields


Maureen Christison Says:

January 21, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Hi there,

If you go to World Connect you will find the Christison family tree which I have researched and you will find the link to the General and the others.
Maureen Christison

27 thoughts on “Family stories 2 — About the Christisons

  1. Where does Flora Christoson (nee Fletcher) fit in? I think she married one of John Hampton Christosons children, but I can only find the name Roy as one of his sons. Flora was my Great Grandmother.

      • Hello Neil,
        My Brother Bruce Jackson has posted above and so am also a relative of John Hampton Christison. My Grandmother Flora Christison (nee Fletcher) who I have a photo of, was married to David (John and Lily’s Son) was the mother of Rita and Louise. My Mother Felicity was the only child of Rita. Louise had two Children Max and Bill.

        My Mother Felicity Jackson (nee Pedersen) passed away this year. I have been going through information she has left for me. So I have recently been interested to find out more about the Christison story. Mum’s grandfather David (who had left Flora) was John and Sophia Hampton’s son.

        While she was alive we visited Joadja Ghostown where John Hampton taught at the School.
        We didn’t realise his father John was buried there at the time.

        I wasn’t sure how to make a post on here however John Hampton Christison is buried at Woronora Cemetery (and also Mary) in Sydney NSW. I found his grave yesterday. I have a photo of it if you can advise how I can post it?

        We also have a photo of John in Uniform at the Pyramids from the Bohr war.

        I was thrilled to see that there is a book written by your cousin about him.

        Kind Regards,

        Carole Logue

  2. Hello, My name is Kate Miranda (nee Jordan). I am a descendent of Sir Robert Christison and I have just started researching my family history working from a very old and fragile family tree written on parchment paper that my grandmother gave to me. It dates back to Alexander Christison b. 1753, father of Sir Robert. I have been able to verify all of the written dates on my family tree through online records. I’m 39 and my grandmother has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so I am hoping to complete the missing information. I will trace all of your findings. I am from the Australian side but now live in London. Thanks for all of your work. Best wishes, Kate

  3. Hello! My name is Jennifer, I’ve been researching the Christison family line back to the 1600s, and have found your link to Sir Robert Christison, and from there the Christisons of Lammermoor. We’re descended from the same line, Roy Christison is my 5th cousin, 3x removed.

    Roy’s great, great grandfather John (b. 1720) had a number of sons, and Roy is descended from one of them (James b.1754), while Sir Robert is descended from another of them (Alexander b.1753). I hope this helps!

  4. Thanks, Bill. I know my grandfather had little to do with his father. My grandmother used to just say “Some things are best not talked about!”

  5. Neil, I am the the eldest Grandson of Isobel Watson (nee Christison).My brother David &I have been researching the Christisons .by using the various Web sites available today we have compiled comprehensive details of the life of our Great GrandFather John Hampton Christison.Unfortunatly he seems to have been somewhat of a shady character judging by the various newspaper reports! Also some of the Family anecdotes handed down over the years have proved to be fancifull.For instance the family were only in scotland less than a year and they all came back to Australia on a German ship(“Elberfield” out of Hamburg) together.Included on the shipping list was a young lizzie Christison.We can only conclude she went with them to assist with the young children. John Hampton did go to the Boer war with the NSW Mounted Rifles as according to a SMH report (12/10/19000 was wounded at Rhenoster Poort.
    Cheers Bill Niven

  6. I have always assumed there is a Scandinavian origin, as the name suggests that and it fits well with Scottish history, but I have no real knowledge about it.

  7. Hello,

    I’m a US Christeson, whose oldest known ancestor is John Christison, born 1722, in Talbot County, Maryland. There is a record of a George Christeson, who was “transported” to Talbot County in 1674, but nothing else is known about him, and no connection to him has been established, although the place and time is right for him to have been John’s grandfather. Of course, there is also Wenlock Christison, the famous Quaker, but his only son died before reaching adulthood. Do you have any record in your tree of a George who disappears from Scotland around the year 1674? I would love to establish a connection. I have heard a family legend, that the first Christisons were brought from Scandinavia to Scotland to “light ships ways into harbors” by the Lindsey family. Do you have any infomation on how, when, or where the first Christisons arrived in Scotland and from where? I apprectiate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks, Mike

  8. I believe i am a relative of your clan. my g.g.g.grandfather was john christi(e)son 1808 married Isabell hampton (1806) they were married about 1823 probably in Forfar. He is from Dun, Forfar & she is Brechin, Menmuir, Forfar. They had a son Charles, 1824 who was an apprentice shoemaker in 1851 and a daughter Annie G. C. who didn’t marry until 1878 to a James Sutor. Charles married Mary Ann Scott and they had many children, 1 of whom was James Scott Christison, Tailor, married Agnes Kelly Walker in 1883 and they had many children, 1 of whom was my grandmother, Mary Scott Christison, 1892 who immigrated to Ontario, Canada in 1911. I have not been able to put the David Christison line into mine but i am would bet that David (1828)& my Charles are cousins. Several other Christisons immigrated to Canada, didn’t realize the Aust. connection. found one in south africa. my grandmother Mary Scott C. always said they were the Christison’s without the “e” & i never understood what she meant until i start the family project nearly 10 years ago. Her fathers birth cert. indicates the spelling of Christieson as does his fathers Charles so i usual Scottish custom they dropped the “e” because of a falling out or to distinguish their family from other related families.

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