Ballaugh Heritage Trust

Treisht Eiraght Valley Ny Loghey

New biography of Illiam Dhone published

The Chairman of the Manx Heritage Foundation, The President of Tynwald and the author

The Chairman of the Manx Heritage Foundation, The President of Tynwald and the author

Milntown House, the ancestral home of the Christian family, was the location for the launch of the new and definitive biography of William Christian, otherwise known as Illiam Dhone, one of the most controversial figures in Manx history. The launch was in the presence of the Hon. Clare Christian, MLC, President of Tynwald.

This year is the 350th anniversary of the execution of llliam Dhone by firing squad at Hango Hill outside Castletown, and this biography, by Jennifer Kewley Draskau has been commissioned by the Manx Heritage Foundation to mark this occasion.

His death on the morning of January 2nd, 1663, marked the end of an extraordinary and troubled period in the Island’s history. The Lord of Man, the Seventh Earl of Derby, had been captured and executed as part of the English Civil War, and Illiam Dhone had surrendered the Isle of Man to the Parliamentary forces which arrived soon afterwards

Ever since that day, debate has raged over whether Illiam Dhone was a patriot or a traitor. Did he surrender the Island to save the Manx people from a violent invasion, or did he do it for his own gain?

Illiam Dhone certainly flourished under Commonwealth rule, indeed he took the position of Governor of the Island for a period, but mysterious setbacks and allegations (of embezzlement, plotting a coup and even impregnating his own illegitimate daughter) dogged him until the Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy, when the new Earl of Derby took revenge and put him on trial. Although a ‘silver-tongued orator’, Illiam refused to plead or even attend the trial and was condemned to death.

His execution provoked the wrath of King Charles II and rocked the English legal system to its foundations. The Manx Deemsters were summoned to London and were imprisoned for a whole year and the Eighth Earl of Derby was instructed to restore all the lands and possessions of the Christian family. This intriguing and impeccably researched account by local author Jennifer Kewley Draskau, tells the remarkable story of an enigmatic and elusive figure, whilst simultaneously casting fascinating light on a little-known period of Manx history and the traditions of the Isle of Man, which underpin its unique relationship with England and the UK today.

The book is retailing for £20 and is available throughout the Island.


Categorised as: Books