Papers of the Stevensons of Balladoole, Arbory

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The content consists of correspondence of numerous Stevenson family members, including relatives through marriage such as Quilliam (marriage to Margaret Christian Stevenson); Woods (marriage to Charlotte Stevenson); Call (marriage to Maria Woods; daughter of Charlotte Stevenson); and Gunton (marriage to Charlotte Woods; daughter of Charlotte Stevenson). Further notable correspondents within the deposit include several Earls of Derby and John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl (1755-1830).

Much legal material is present such as several court cases connected to the Stevenson family, petitions (including a petition to King George II [1683-1760] from the Archbishop of Dublin) character statement, witness interrogations, mortgages, depositions, corn and herring laws, act to provide for the assimilation of the Manx currency with that of the United Kingdom and deed sales of land for the quarterland of Cowans and Ballakeigan. Other deeds concern the reversion of the family name from Woods back to Stevenson and the sale of a seat in St Mary’s Chapel, Castletown. Grants on land in Lezayre and the Calf of Man to the Stevenson family through Charlotte de la Tremoille are included. An Order of His Majesty in Council regarding Illiam Dhone’s (1608-1663) execution (1663) is present together with a copy of the proceedings before King Charles II (1630-1685) in the case of Illiam Dhone. Wills of Stevenson family members and others connected to the family and estate are also present.

Rent rolls of Balladoole and Ballakeigan, revenue accounts, receipts of payments, bond and securities, bonds of Indemnity, requests of loans and details of the estate are present. Genealogical information relating to baptisms, burials, marriages, separations and travels (India, Gibraltar to Cadiz and a diary written in Italy) of the Stevenson family is included. A book of memoranda and material related to Kirk Arbory Church are also present within the deposit.

Items of historic interest and printed material are included, for example extracts from the Annals of Ulster, Johnstone’s Antiquitates Celto Normanicae (containing the Chronicle of Mann and the Isles), a copy of the Prophecies of St Cyprian, Bishop of Arles A.D. 542, The Chronicle of William, son of George: Battle of Tournay 1745, a publication on the Battle of Culloden 1746 and a copy of advertisement for The Christian’s Manual. Poems (some in French), a sonnet and music sheet for Psalm 110 are present. Miscellaneous items such as a diagram of Vauban’s First Method, a Christmas cartoon and a lock of hair belonging to Captain John Quilliam (First Lieutenant on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar [1805] and husband of Margaret Christian Stevenson [c.1770-1844]), together with a piece of his shroud are also included within the deposit.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Stevensons of Balladoole, formally ‘Stephenson’, hold one of the oldest known documented family names in the Isle of Man. Originally from Ireland (under the name Fitzstephens), the family can be traced back in the Manx records as early as the fourteenth century. Occupying land called Balladoole in the southern parish of Arbory, the family’s surname changed to Stevenson by the sixteenth century where it is listed in the Manorial Roll of 1511. Many family members have been connected to the Manx legislature throughout the centuries. In 1417 Reginald Stevenson was a member of the House of Keys; Major Richard Stevenson (d.1683) was Deputy Governor of the Isle of Man and Receiver General; John Stevenson (d.1737), friend of Bishop Wilson (1663-1755), was president of The House of Keys; William Augustus Stevenson (c.1849-1918) was a Member of the House of Keys (MHK); and Ralph Stevenson (1895-1977) was a member of the Legislative Council (MLC).

Family lore has it that one of the Stevenson ancestors married the heiress to Balladoole farm. In the eighteenth century the grand Balladoole House was built, which still stands to this present day. The eighteenth century also saw a change to the family name. Richard Ambrose Stevenson (c.1743-1773) left at least three sons to inherit, however after the youngest son Frederick (c.1767-1807) died without issue it was Richard’s elder daughter Charlotte (c.1764-1838) who inherited everything. Charlotte had married Thomas Woods in 1787 and after her death it was her son George Augustus Woods (c.1788-1853) who became sole owner of Balladoole. In the late 1860s George’s eldest son William Baring Woods (c.1820-1905) decided to revert back to his maternal great-grandfather’s name of Stevenson, most likely for political reasons. The last Stevenson of Balladoole was William Baring’s grandson, Sir Ralph Claremont Skrine Stevenson (1895-1977), who sold the estate in 1973.

Conditions Governing Access

No regulations or restrictions are implemented on this material.

Advance notification of a research visit is advisable by emailing library@mnh.gov.im.

Other Finding Aids

A descriptive list in the form of catalogue card index is available for consultation.

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from genealogical information situated in Papers of the Stevenson family of Balladoole (MNH MS 11237), Dollin Kelly’s (ed.) New Manx Worthies (2006: 429) and websites http://www.selectsurname.com/stevenson2.html#d (accessed 18 March 2016) & https://familysearch.org/search/ (accessed 22 March 2016).

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), March 2016.

Related Material

Related material held by Manx National Heritage includes the 'Papers of the Stevenson family of Balladoole' (MNH MS 11237), 'The MacDubhghaills and the Stevensons of Balladoole, Scarlett and the Calf' (MNH MS 08718) & the 'Papers of Sir Ralph Claremont Skrine Stevenson' (MNH MS 10859).