Later life

First Marriage
After the witchcraft trial Christian disappears from the history books, until her marriage in 1719 to the Rev. John Millar, Minister of Kilmaurs Kirk in Ayrshire.

They married on the 11th September 1719 at Bargarran, and Christian moved to Kilmaurs with her new husband.

Three years later while on a visit to Bargarran, John Millar took ill and died. It was recorded that he was buried in the family buried lair at Erskine Kirk (now Bishopton Parish Church).  After John Millar’s death, Christian returned to Bargarran to live, and undertook at European Tour with her mother.

European Tour

While visiting Europe with her mother, Christian found that the Dutch thread producers had developed a technique to produce a very fine linen thread.  The technology used was a ‘Twisting Mill’ developed by Dutch thread workers.   This fine thread was of a much higher quality than that of the Scottish thread producers of the day.

On her return to Bargarran in 1722, Christian persuaded some of her Glasgow merchant friends to acquire the Dutch technology on her behalf, and within a few months the Bargarran Thread Company had been formed as a Cottage Industry with Christian producing a very fine thread from rooms in Bargarran House.    See the Bargarran Thread Company page for more information.

Thread Development
By 1727 Christian’s name appears in the Board of Manufacturers minutes, where on the 3rd Novemember, Lord Menzie, along with Messer’s McCauley, Drummond and Paterson were asked to “converse with Mrs Millar of Johnstoun now in town, and to bring in her proposals for spinning & twisting thread.”

This was only the first of many mentions of her name in these minutes, until April 1728 when Christian Millar is appointed as the first Spinning School Mistress of Edinburgh. Although not specifically mentioned in the minutes, Christian had probably advised the board that the establishment of spinning schools would be advantageous, and within a few years several Spinning Schools had been opened by the Board of Manufacturers.

In the Minutes of 1728, Christian is to be paid £50 sterling annually as her salary, while the Glasgow Mistress was only paid £25. We feel this indicates the importance placed on Christian in the development of these schools.

By the 1729 Minutes, Christian is being described as Christian Shaw, relict (Widow) of the Rev John Millar, so we have confirmation that we have been looking at the right person!

Our research into Christian’s involvement in the Edinburgh Spinning School is continuing, we have currently reached the year 1733 in the records and hope to view the years 1733 – 1737 by the end of this year, when we shall publish the results of our investigation.

Second Marriage

After her move to Edinburgh, Christian eventually met William Livingstone, a glove maker. They were married on the 20th February 1737 in the Tron Kirk in Edinburgh.

It is here that the trail used to go cold. In most accounts the story ends with the phrase:

‘and she lived happily ever after, disaperaing into Edinburgh society’.

As part of our research we now know what became of Christian!

In the Greyfriars Kirkyard Burial records there is an entry dated the 8th September 1737 and it reads:

“Christian Shaw, Spouse to William Livingston, Glover… E Tods Tomb”

At the age of 52 Christian had died, having been married to William for just 6 months. We don’t know how she died, but in the records of burials for August, it is recorded that ‘Pleuratick Fever & Nervous Fever were very frequent, DEADLY this month likewise the small pox continues to rage.’

We assume Christian died from one of these fevers or diseases.

Her burial in Provost Tod’s tomb is interesting, and may well be explained by a marriage in 1735 of George Tod in Edinburgh to an Elizabeth Shaw, who may have been one of Christian’s sisters.

Text derrived from research by Stephen Clancy, February 21012 to October 2013,  and published in this form here in April &2014 and updated in August 2014