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McKay / MacKay Reay, Caithness.

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#1
My name is Ian McKay; and, for the last few years I've been researching my family tree, which eventually brought me to Reay, Caithness. Sometime in the 1840's, my g/g/grandfather, William McKay, trekked down from Reay, Caitjness area, to the North West of England, and married a Welsh girl, named Eliza Jones, (on 13th July 1849, in St Mary's parish church in Chester). Some time after that date, they then appear to have moved to Liverpool. (where we still are!)

The 1851 census form shows William and Eliza, and their firstborn child, John Robert, in Liverpool; however, the family name was then spelled MacKay, not McKay. All the Victorian census forms agree William's year of birth as being 1817, and simply say "Born Scotland" (however, they don't say where in Scotland.) Subsequent census returns show that the spelling was changed sometime between the 1851 and 1861 census taking.

On the marriage certificate of William and Eliza, William's father is named as Robert; so, I looked back in Scotland for a Robert MacKay who sired a son in 1817, and subsequently christened him William and found only one "fit"! A Robert Mackay married a Janet Davidson in Milnetown, Reay, on 4th March 1817, and Janet gave birth to a son in the early December of that year.

So, to the purpose of this rather long rambling e-mail, I now appear at a dead end as I don't know where to look for further information about my Scottish family roots; and, I would be very grateful if someone could find time to point me in the right direction.

Can anyone suggest where I might find out more information, as I would dearly like to get back further than my g/g/g/grandparents Robert and Janet; eg, their marriage details their parents name's etc', but I don't know where to look. Does the "Milnetown" area still exist, and is there a church, or family history society in the Milnetown/Reay area, that might be able to help me, or at least point me in the right direction?

Best regards
Ian
 

benny1982

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#2
Hi Ian

Firstly what was Robert McKay's occupation? This may help in finding if the 1817 birth is the right one. The baptism should give the fathers occupation.

What were William's childrens names? From my own personal experience with Scottish ancestry I found that the eldest son and eldest daughter were named after the fathers parents. Scottish people did tend to stick to this naming pattern, including Scots who lived in England.

Ben
 

lizanne

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#3
Hi Ian,
There is a marriage for a Robert Mackay to a Janet Davidson in Caithness.
1 March 1817 Reay caithness.
Do yo know if Robert and Janet stayed in Scotland.
If they did and died after 1855 if you could find a record of their deaths on Scotland's People that would give you their parents names and their mothers maiden names.
I will do some ore digging to see if I can come up with anything.
Jane
 

lizanne

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#5
Hi Ian,
I have gone through the Robert Davidson baptisms in Reay.
After discounting earlier Robert's born to the same parents there are 13 possibles.
I think that this is where a list of Williams children's names could come in handy if they were following the Scottish naming pattern for their children.

As for Janet Davidson I can find only 2 in Caithness.
1 born Reay bapt 1786 , the other born Thurso bapt 1799 .
Jane
 

benny1982

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#6
Hi

I agree with Lizanne.

Scottish naming patterns can help greatly in tracking a likely baptism in Scotland for a Scottish ancestor in England.

My 5xgreat grandfather was John Stewart. He died aged 80. He said that he was from Selkirk, Scotland. His two eldest children were called James & isabella Stewart. There was a John Stewart baptised at the right time period in Selkirk son of James & Isabella Stewart. As Selkirk is a Borders area and there are far less Stewarts in there as opposed to the Highlands, I am 99.9% certain I have his baptism and parentage.

Ben
 
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#7
Hi Jane & Ben
Many many thanks for your updates; and, on the question of the names of William's children, here they are.

William McKay /MacKay (My g/g/Grandfather), Born Scotland 1817)
Married Eliza Jones (Chester July 1849)
Issue: John Robert MacKay (Born Gresford 1851)
William McKay (Born Liverpool 1853)
Alexander McKay ( Born Liverpool 1855)
James Archibald Mckay (My g/grandfather, Born liverpool 1858)
Walter McKay (Born Liverpool,1861)
Agnes Mckay (Born Liverpool 1864)

I'm 99.9999% certain that the Robert shown on the 1849 marriage certificate of William and Eliza is, in fact, the Robert Mackay who married Janet Davidson on 1st March 1817, and that they are my g/g/g/grandparents, and the son that was born to them, christened William, who was born on 4th December 1817, is my g/g/grandfather.

Because, although I've been unable to find any record of William's actual date of birth, here in Liverpool, I now notice that, on William's death cert, dated 28th Nov 1871, he is stated as being 54 years old, at death; therefore, as he was born in 1817, he can not yet have had a birthday in 1871, the year that he died! Otherwise it would have shown the age at death as being 55!

This narrows it down considerably, as his birthday must have been either in the last two days of November; or, in the month of December, which strongly suggests that he might well have been born in the December of 1817; and, therefore, is the boy child born to Robert Mackay and a Janet Davidson, on 4th December 1817.

Slow progress; but, nevertheless, progress. I suppose that only someone interested in the black arts of genealogy would call going backwards, a step foward; and therefore, progress!! I'm not sure about Robert MacKay surviving until after 1855, because that would put him into his sixties, and I don't have any evidence to back that up.

Hope the info about William's children is helpful

Best to you all
Ian
 

benny1982

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#8
Hi

The original baptism of William McKay should give his fathers name in order to help confirm the relationship.

Have you also tried looking for any McKay's born in Caithness living in England in 1851, 1861 etc? This can also give clues.

Ben
 
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#9
Hi again Jane
Ref your kind posting, (on November 20th(?),see below.) I'm puzzled by you saying that you went through the Robert Davidson baptisms in Reay; because, the man I think is my g/g/g/grandfather is Robert MacKay, not Robert Davidson. He married a Janet Davidson, in Reay, on 1st March 1817.

Thanks anyway for your kind help. Incidentally, subsequent to you asking for a list of William's children's names I did post it up for you. However, if we don't correspond befor the end of this year I would like to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. You've been so helpful to me.

All the best
Ian McKay
Hi Ian,
I have gone through the Robert Davidson baptisms in Reay.
After discounting earlier Robert's born to the same parents there are 13 possibles.
I think that this is where a list of Williams children's names could come in handy if they were following the Scottish naming pattern for their children.

As for Janet Davidson I can find only 2 in Caithness.
1 born Reay bapt 1786 , the other born Thurso bapt 1799 .
Jane
 

lizanne

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#10
Hi Ian,
Sorry only just seen your message.
My mistake I meant to put Robert Mckay. Must have been having a blonde moment.
I have rechecked and there are 13 possibles I will post the details tomorrow need to go to bed now.
Jane
 
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#13
Hi Ben
Unfortunately, no further on in my research yet! If I could find a definite date of birth for my g/g/grandfather William McKay / MacKay, and it matched the D.O.B of the boy born to Robert MacKay and Janet Davidson, I could then be 100% sure that they are definitely my g/g/g/grandparents, as I do know that their son, William, was born on 4th December 1817. Onwards and upwards.
Best
Ian
 

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