Christie


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Christie is a Scottish clan name, originating on Scotland's east coast.  It is normally thought to be the Scottish version of Christian (meaning Christ-bearing).  Those who suspect a Danish origin of the name in Scotland think that it may have come from the Danish word cruset, meaning "cup."

Christy is generally the Irish spelling - from the Gaelic criostoir (or Christ-bearing).  Christie made its way from Scotland to Norway.  Christie or Christy in America could be Scottish or Irish or even of Swiss iorigin or possibly from Denmark (from Christiansen).

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Scotland.  Clan Christie, said to be a sept of clan Farquharson, was first sighted in Fife in the 15th century. A Christie farming family in Cupar can trace their Fife ancestry to the early 1600's.  But the main home of the Christies has been further up the coast, in Angus and Aberdeenshire.  John Chrystie was listed as a burgess of Aberdeen back in 1530.

Political and religious tensions in the 17th century caused many Christies to leave this area, among them being:

Andrew Christie to Norway in 1654; Alexander Christie/Christy to Ulster in 1675; James Christie to America in 1685; and another James Christie who sailed from Leith on the ill-fated expedition to Darien in Central America in 1698.

Christies in Aberdeenshire may have been farmers, such as James Christie of Gallowgatehead:

"Mr. James Christie, who died at the ripe age of 93 and was interred on July 30, 1808 at St. Peter's cemetery in Aberdeen, farmed on the land of Mr. George Moir of Scotstown for fifty years.  He had three successive leases and just survived the expiry of his third lease."

They may have been fishermen.  There was a 19th century Christie family at Skateraw up the coast near Stonehaven.  They were captured by the painter George Washington Brownlow in his 1865 picture of them mending their nets.  Family records show some of these Christies tragically drowned at sea. 

They could also have been seafarers and merchants.  The ports of Aberdeen and Montrose were linked in trade with the Hanseatic League ports in Norway and the Baltic.  Alexander Christie was provost of Montrose in the late 18th century and also a wealthy merchant (unfortunately ruined when the wars with Napoleon halted trade).  His brother William was the first Unitarian minister in Scotland.  Agnes Short's novels such as The Dragon Seas describe a fictional Christie family of merchants in mid 19th century Aberdeen.   

Norway.  Christies from the northeast of Scotland came to Bergen in Norway, most notably Andrew Christie who arrived there in 1654.  This Andrew Christie was the forebear of a notable Norwegian Christie family, from WFK Christie, the first president of the Norwegian parliament, to WH Christie, Norway's Minister of Health in the 1990's.  This family maintained their cultural links with Montrose and Aberdeen for many generations.

England.  Christies made it to London, most notably James Christie a former Navy midshipman who founded Christie's auction house on Pall Mall in 1766.  In 1823 the firm moved under his son James to St. James's Square where it remains to this day, a leader in its field.

The Christies of Glyndebourne in Sussex of Swiss origin had married into the English landed gentry.  John Christie started the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1934. 

Ireland.  Christies were Christys in Ireland, whether they be Scots imports or Irish.  Alexander Christy arrived in Antrim from Aberdeen in 1675 and settled at Moyallan on the river Bann.  He is traditionally regarded as the man who introduced the linen trade to the area.  His family, together with other Quaker families of the region such as the Nicholsons and the Richardsons, developed the Lurgan linen industry.

America.  Many Christies from Scotland have emigrated to America over the years.  But the Christies and Christys there do not have that much of a Scottish flavor to them.

James Christie did come from Scotland (as recounted in Walter Christie's 1919 booklet The Christie Family in America).  But he married a Huguenot in New Jersey and his descendants grew up in the New Jersey Dutch community of Bergenfield.  A line of this family acquired the now historic Campbell-Christie House in New Jersey in 1795.  This was where the inventor Walter Christie, often called "the father of the modern tank," was born in 1865.

The Christies who arrived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the early 1700's were in fact Swiss Mennonites who intermarried with other Swiss German families there. 

And then there were the Irish Christys, including:
  • Jesse Christy who arrived in America from county Antrim in 1719
  • Samuel Christy who is thought to have come sometime in the 1720's to Gloucester county, Virginia (his descendants moved onto Kentucky)
  • and Andrew Christy who came with his family in 1762 and settled in western Pennsylvania.
Christie could also be Cherokee Indian.  The starting point was John Christie, an Indian trader in North Carolina in the late 18th century and his daughter Betsy who married into the Cherokee tribe.  She died in 1838 following the Cherokee "Trail of Tears" removal from their homeland.  Her Cherokee family adopted the Christie name.  Grandson Ned Christie was a Cherokee Nation leader falsely accused of murdering a US marshal who was gunned down by a posse at his home in 1892.

Canada.  Gabriel Christie, the son of a Stirling merchant, had come over with the British Army in the 1750's, stayed and ended up, through astute property purchases from the departing French, as one of the largest landowners in British Quebec.  His land holdings were analysed in Francoise Noel's 1992 book The Christie Seigneuries, Estate Management and Settlement in the Upper Richelieu Valley, 1760-1854.

There was also an early Christie link between Scotland and Canada through the fur trade and the Hudson Bay Company.  Alexander Christie came to Canada and joined the Hudson Bay Company in 1809.  He was governor of their Red river settlement for many years and was considered one of the company's most important traders.  His sons and grandsons also worked for the Hudson Bay Company.

A number of Christies who arrived from Scotland in the first half of the 19th century went on to make a mark for themselves in their new country:
  • Thomas Christie came with his parents in 1827.  He was a proferssor at McGill university and helped set up the Lachute academy.  He was also in Parliament through his Quebec constituency. 
  • David Christie arrived in 1833.  He later represented Erie, Ontario in Parliament and was a founding member of the "clear grit" movement which advocated republicanism in Canada. 
  • William Christie came to Toronto in 1848 and started out working as a baker.  He began his own biscuit-making enterprise which grew to be the largest of its kind in Canada (his business ended up being sold to Nabisco in the 1920's). 
South Africa.   John Christie came to South Africa as a doctor during the Boer War and stayed, becoming a successful businessman and a political figure in Johannesburg.

Australia.
  Two Christie stories are characteristic in some ways of Australia's early history.

Alexander Christie left Edinburgh with his wife Ann for a new life in Australia.  Landing in Port Adelaide in 1839, they were among the early settlers of South Australia.  They made their home down the coast at Cape Jervis and they raised nine children there.

"In 1856 Alexander arranged for Mr. Thomas to build the Christie homestead in Cape Jervis.  Mr. Thomas would go down there every day and work on the house.  It took seven years to build.  There was also a large underground tank built, estimated to hold 30,000 tons of water.  It was said that a dance was held in it when it was completed."

Alexander farmed and was instrumental in starting the weekly mail service by boat for the inhabitants of Kangaroo island.  In 1883, however, Alexander Christie met an untimely end in his boat.

James Christie came to Tasmania as a convict in 1842.  His convict record there included various offences of being drunk and being "out after hours."  But he married in 1852, received his conditional release a year later, and he and his wife Anne raised six children at their home just outside Hobart.

Eldest son John, perhaps ashamed of his convict background, left home suddenly for Melbourne in 1876.  He went to the Goulbourn valley to shear sheep and through hard work saved enough money to buy a horse and dray.  He eventually developed a large homestead at Numurkah.   He lived onto 1929, a respected member of his community.

Select Christie Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Christie Names


James Christie founded Christie's auction house in London in 1766.
Alexander Christie was a fur trader in Canada and one of the leading figures of the Hudson Bay Company in the first half of the 19th century.
WFK Christie was the first president of the Norwegian parliament.
EP Christy was the founder of the blackface minstrel group Christy's Minstrels that toured America in the mid 19th century.
Agatha Christie was a famous English crime writer.  Her works featured the detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple.
John Christie was the founder of the Glyndebourne opera festival in Sussex.
Julie Christie was an award-winning English actress of the 1960's and 1970's.
Linford Christie, an athlete born in Jamaica, won the Olympic 100 meter title in 1992.

Select Christies Today
  • 21,000 in the UK (most numerous in Glasgow)
  • 11,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).



Select Surnames

Archer  Duffy Houston McMahon Sachs
Atkins Elliott Hunter
Metcalfe Sainsbury
Barlow Farrell Irving Murdoch Savage
Bassett    
Ferguson Jacobs Newman Snow
Blair Fisher Jardine Nicholson Spalding
Bliss Fletcher Jenkins O'Connor Starbuck
Bloom Forbes Joyce O'Neill Stein
Bradley Forsyth     
Kellogg Owen Swift
Burns Franklin Knox Peterson Tyler
Cameron Friedman Kramer Pitt Tyson
Carey Gates Kruger Pollock/Polk Upson
Christie Geary Larkin Porter Van Buren
Churchill Graham Leadbetter Quinn Vincent
Coleman Griffiths Lomas Rathbone Wainwright
Connolly Harvey Long
Rees/Reese Walcott
Craven Hawkins Mackay 
Richards Warner
Crowe Hickey Marshall Robson Weinberg   
Daft Hodge Massey Roosevelt Wells
Dempsey  Hoffman Matthews  
Rowe Wren
Dow Holt McKenzie Ryan Yardley

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 500 surnames.

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