CHRISTIAN, WILLIAM (1608-1663), Manx politician, a son of Ewan Christian, one of the Manx deemsters, was born on the 14th of April 1608, and was known as Illiam Dhone, or Brown William. In 1648 the lord of the Isle of Man, James Stanley, 7th earl of Derby, appointed Christian his receiver-general; and when in 1651 the earl crossed to England to fight for Charles II. he left him in command of the island militia. Derby was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, and his famous countess, Charlotte de la Tremouille, who was residing in Man, 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, partly as a consequence of this step, partly owing to the discontent caused by some agrarian arrangements recently introduced by the earl. The rebels seized many of the forts; then Christian in his turn entered into negotiations with the parliamentarians; and probably owing to his connivance the island was soon in the power of Colonel Robert Duckenfield, who had brought the parliamentary fleet to Man in October 1651. The countess of Derby was compelled to surrender her two fortresses, Castle Rushen and Peel castle, while Christian remained receiver-general, becoming governor of the island in 1656. Two years later, however, he was accused of misappropriating some money; he fled to England, and in 1660 was arrested in London. Having undergone a year's imprisonment he returned to Man, 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 of Derby, ordered his seizure; he refused to plead, and a packed House of Keys declared that in this case his life and property were at the mercy of the lord of the island. The deemsters then passed sentence, and in accordance therewith Christian was executed by shooting on the 2nd of January 1663. This arbitrary act angered 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 Dhone, which has been translated into English by George Borrow, and through the references to him in Sir Walter Scott's Peveril of the Peak.
See A.W. Moore, History of the Isle of Man (1900).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)