Thursday, October 2, 2008
The first official record I have of my Mackay ancestors at Craggan, Inchcape is the birth of Ann Mackay on 5th August 1832 at Inischape to Robert Mackay and Mary Mackay.
Robert and Mary Mackay were my great, great grandparents. Robert was born about 1776 in Rogart maybe at Inchcape but I have no proof of this. His wife Mary was born at Muie, Rogart daughter of William Mackay and Jane Ross.
On 25th March 1794, aged 18 or over, Robert joined the Sutherland Fencibles. He served with the Fencibles until 27th September 1799, then the following day he joined the 93rd Regiment of Foot later to become the Sutherland Highlanders. In 1805 at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, Robert suffered a pulmonic complaint which rendered him unfit for further service. However he was not discharged from the 93rd until 9th March 1815.
Robert’s discharge papers in 1815 state that he was a Private and was born in the Parish of Rogart in or near the town of Dornoch. He was said to be 39 years of age, 5 foot 6 inches in height with dark hair, dark complexion and hazel eyes. He was a labourer by trade.
No doubt Robert came back to Rogart probably to Inchcape. The marriage of Robert to Mary Mackay is not registered. After the birth of Ann they had two more children at Inchcape – William born 18th January 1834 (my great grandfather) and Neil born 27th December 1841.
In 1841 Robert is recorded with his wife Mary, daughter Ann and son William at Inchcape but by 1851 Mary is recorded as a widow. Research at The Public Record Office, Kew, London gave Robert’s date of death as 12th May 1846. As he died before 1855 when official registration of births, marriages and deaths began I do not know the names of his parents.
In the 1809 Militia List for Rogart is a Robert Mackay, tenant at Incheap(Inchcape) In the 1812 Statute List for Rogart there is a Robert Mackay, widower, registered at Inchcape – is this my Robert or maybe his father? There is no Robert Mackay listed at Inchcape in the 1824 Militia list.
After her husband’s death Mary continued to croft her few acres at Inchcape until 1864 when my great grandfather, William Mackay married Alexanderina(Lexie) Murray from Fleuchary, Dornoch. Lexie was the daughter of Robert Murray and Margaret Gray. Lexie’s aunt Helen Gray, who was married to Gilbert Gunn, had moved to Inchcape from Fourpenny, Dornoch. Is this how Lexie and William came to meet? In 1861 William was working as a ploughman for Thomas Barclay in Dornoch so maybe that is when they met. I wish I knew!!
After their marriage at the Poles, Dornoch where Lexie’s uncle William Gray owned an inn, William took over the running of the croft at Inchcape. William and Lexie had 10 children, five boys and five girls all of whom lived to adulthood.
My great, great, grandmother, Mary Mackay died at Inchcape on 1st March 1877.
For the last 14 years of his life William was paralysed. I have been told by a current resident of Inchcape that this was caused by his carrying a very heavy sack of meal on his back up the hill to Craggan. There was no road to the croft which is high up on the hill above Dalmore. The croft house was very small with only three rooms. I have been told by the same resident that there was a hook on the ceiling and William was able to pull himself up in bed with ropes attached to this hook.
William died on 12th July 1911 at Inchcape. Hiis death was recorded in The Northern Times as the beloved husband of Alexanderina Murray. This short obituary was also written about him in the local paper.
The death took place at Inchape, Rogart, on the 12th inst., of William Mackay, at the age of 76 years, who for a period of 14 years was confined to bed through bodily infirmity. During his younger days he followed the occupation of farm work, and was considered one of the formest(sic) ploughmen within a wide range, always receiving the premier place wherever he competed. For several years, and during the working of the granite quarry at Dalmore, he was employed there, being an excellent and capable workman. Although confined to bed for such a long period, he being of a cheery disposition, bore his infirmity with great resignation. A large concourse of people assembled at the funeral, showing the sympathy of the district to be united for the widow and large family whom he has left to mourn his loss.
Lexie lived on at Craggan with some of her children until she died there aged 82 years from acute bronchitis on 1st December 1917.