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THE BIGHOUSE MACKAYS

See Pedigree Table E

I. William Mackay, son of Iye Du XII of Strathnaver by his wife, Christina Sinclair, was the first of this family. During the troubled minority and early reign of King James VI, when the northern people did very much as they pleased, William was often on the war-path. As we show in our memoir of his brother, Huistean Du of Strathnaver, he led the Mackays on La Tom Fraoich, fighting the Sutherlands from morning till nightfall, and next morning at day-break, being joined by the Gunns, practically exterminated a strong force of Sinclairs that was advancing in coucert with the Sutherlands. Sir Robert Gordon refers to various other encounters in which William bore a part. The Murrays who got possession of the lands of Strathhalladale in 1430 - lands which the Mackays held at that time by charter from the Lord of the Isles - he harried so mercilessly that they had to abandon the strath altogether. On the 14th Sep 1592, Rory Murray of Bighouse complained to the Privy Council: -

That upon the 20th Sep 1587, William Mackay "with certan brokin hieland men, to the noumer of personis or thairby," came to the lands of Bighouse or Strathhalladale and "ejected the said complenaris wyffe and bairnis furth of the said houssis, Quhairthrou thay being strangearis in that cuntrey at last miserablie deit throu hunger in the mountane." Further, the said William Mackay "hes continuallie sensyne withhaldin and possest the said complenaris hous and rowme, and hes banist himself the cuntry swa that he dar nocht repair thairunto for feir of his lyffe" (Privy Council Register).

Eventually Murray alienated these lands to William Mackay for 1000 merks on 18th Jul 1597, and on the 18th Dec, 1598, the latter secured the estate by a charter of confirmation under the Great Seal. William, who died in 1612, married Isabella, daughter of Rorie Mackenzie of Ardfalie, afterwards of Redcastle, by a daughter of Munro of Fowlis (Bighouse Inventory). [Rorie Mackenzie was a son of Kenneth, 11th of Kintail, by a daughter of the Earl of Athole (Macfarlane's Collections)]

Their known issue was three sons and two daughters.: -

  1. Angus, who succeeded
  2. Iye of Golval
  3. Donald
  4. Ann, married Adam Gordon of Kilcalumkill
  5. Marian
[Footnote: In the Bighouse Inventory the following item appears: - "Decreet of Reduction at the instance of Alexander Murray, brother and heir of the umql. Alexander Murray of Spenziedale, agt. Donald McAngus McAlister of Glengarry, nearest and lawful heir of Donald Isles of Lochalsh, knight, Goodames brother - reducing a service and infeftment upon the lands of Bighouse, Forse, Trantills. etc., in prejudice of the said Alexander Murray, the decreet dated 20th Jan 1579." It may be that the service and infeftment referred to above were obtained by Glengarry in virtue of the rights held over these lands by the Lord of the Isles, whose representative Glengarry claimed to be. When in due process this infeftment failed, the Mackays seem to have taken the law into their own hands and to have driven the Murray's out. ]

II. Angus, duly succeeded his father in the lands of Strathhalladale, and on the 2nd May 1631, obtained from the 1st Lord Reay the churchlands of Balnaheglis and Goval with the salmon fishings of Halladale water, in perpetual fee for the annual payment of 17/4 (Bighouse Inventory). He married first, Jane Elphingstone (niece of Lord Elphingstone), who died in 1630, and was buried in Kirkton Chapel, Strathhalladale, leaving issue. He married secondly, Jane, daughter of Sir Alexander Gordon of Navidale. He died of witchcraft in 1634, as Sir Robert Gordon gravely informs us. His known issue was: -

  1. William
  2. Angus, who had a bond from his brother William on 12th May, 1643 (Caithness Sheriff Records).
III. William, was appointed one of the Committee of War for the shire of Sutherland by the Scots Parliament in 1648. Towards the close of that year he accompanied John, afterwards 2nd Lord Reay, on the expedition which ended so disastrously at Balveny, and not long thereafter resigned his estate to his eldest son. He married Jane, daughter of John Mackay of Strathy, and had known issue four sons and one daughter: -
  1. Donald, had a charter of the family lands from his father, 14th Sep 1649, "to be halden of the said William, and redeemable for payment of ten merks within the church of Reay " (Bighouse Inventory). He died without issue.
  2. Angus, who succeeded his brother, and of whom follows
  3. John, witnessed a sasine of Strathhalladale, 20th Dec 1667
  4. William of Rennivie
  5. Mary, married John Gunn of Braemore, and had sasine of Braemore, 29th Aug 1687, in virtue of her marriage contract.
IV. Angus, was served heir to his brother Donald, 21st Jul 1681, (Chancery Record), and had a charter of the estate under the Great Seal, 1st Jul 1687, in favour of himself and his spouse Jane Sinclair in life-rent, and of Joseph Mackay their eldest lawful son in fee, whom failing to George their second son (Reg.Mag.Sig.).
He married Jane, daughter of Patrick Sinclair of Ulbster; and they are both buried in the Bighouse Aisle, Reay, where a slab in the wall shows the arms of husband and wife. The issue of this marriage was: -
  1. Joseph, married Helen, daughter of General Sir George Munro of Culrain, 20th Jul 1692, and died without issue in 1698 (Bighouse Inventory).
  2. George, who succeeded his elder brother
  3. Rachel, married John Munro of Eriboll, and had sasine in life-rent of the lands of Eriboll, 2nd Feb 1688.
  4. Elizabeth, married George Mackay of Kinloch, and had sasine in life-rent of Kinloch, 11th Jun 1712
  5. Ann, married Alexander Fraser of Erogie, and had sasine in life-rent of Erogie in Dores, Inverness-shire, 6th Jun 1700.

V. George, served heir to his brother Joseph, 19th Jan 1699, had sasine of the estate on 14th May 1706, and married Catherine, daughter of William Ross of Kindace in 1704.
He died in 1722, issue one son and two daughters: -

  1. Hugh, died young
  2. Elizabeth
  3. Janet, married William Mackay of Melness, and had issue
VI. Elizabeth, married in 1728 Lieut.-Col. the Hon. Hugh Mackay, son of the 3rd Lord Reay, and died 31st Mar 1769, having borne five children. Her husband had sasine of Strathhalladale on 5th Oct 1744, having bought up the encumbrances upon the estate.
He married secondly, Isabella, daughter of Alexander Mackenzie of Lentran, 14th Apr 1770, and died at Bath without issue by his second marriage on 12th November of that year.
The issue of the first marriage was: -
  1. Ensign Hugh Mackay, died unmarried in early life
  2. Colin, died in infancy
  3. Janet, married Colin Campbell of Glenure, who was murdered by one of the Stewarts of Ardshiel in 1752. Her issue was three daughters: -
    1. Elizabeth Campbell, died young
    2. Louisa Campbell, inherited ¼ of the estate of Bighouse and married George Mackay of Handa, who purchased the remainder of the estate, and was afterwards known as of Bighouse. She had issue
    3. Colina Campbell, married James Bailie, merchant in Bristol and Granada, and M.P. for Horsham.
  4. Mary, married William Bailie of Rosehall, and died his widow at Peterhead in 1808. They had issue seven sons and two daughters: -
    1. Mackay Hugh Bailie, Colonel of the Reay Fencibles, and afterwards Major-General
    2. George
    3. John
    4. Simon
    5. Charles
    6. Lamington
    7. Evan, afterwards Sir Evan, a Major-General of the Bengal Army
    8. Elizabeth, married Roderick Mackenzie of Fairburn
    9. Catherine, married Captain James Sutherland of Oldany
  5. Marion, married the 5th Lord Reay as his first wife, and died without issue
  6. Robina, died unmarried at Harrogate, 10th Aug 1762
IVa. William Mackay of Rennivie, Farr, son of William 3rd of Bighouse, granted sasine of Rennivie to his elder brother Angus in security for 1000 merks, 3rd Mar 1681. He was alive in 1694.
He married and had known issue two sons: - Angus and Donald, who witnessed a sasine of Rennivie, 30th May 1709.

Va. Angus, "as eldest lawful son and apparent heir of the deceased William Mckay", had sasine on a tack of Rennivie in security for a loan of 3000 merks to Lord Strathnaver, 13th Mar 1700. He married (contract 1st Jun 1704) Ann, daughter of Hector Mackay of Skerray His widow, in virtue of her marriage contract, had sasine of Rennivie on 30th May 1709.
Their known issue was two sons and a daughter: -

  1. "William, served heir male to his deceased cousin, George 5th of Bighouse (Chancery Record, 5th Aug 1728), disponed his rights over said estate, his brother Angus consenting, to John Mackay of Clashneach on 16th Mar 1728, who in turn conveyed these rights to the Hon. Hugh Mackay, husband of Elizabeth of Bighouse
  2. Angus, mentioned above. His tombstone in Farr church yard bears the inscription, "Here lyes the body of Angus Mackay of Kennivie, who dyed the 4 day of Jannivary, 1737". The arms of Mackay are beautifully carved on the stone. "Angus Mackay of Kennivie, wadsetter", appeared as a commissioner at a meeting of the Tongue Presbytery, 24th Mar 1756. He was probably a son of the above Angus, but further we cannot trace this family in the male line.
  3. Marion, married James Mackay, tacksman of Skerray, and had issue three sons and four daughters: -
    1. Angus, a merchant in London
    2. Major-General Alexander, Adjutant-General of the Forces in Scotland, died at Edinburgh in 1809 without issue.
    3. George, died unmarried
    4. Elizabeth (See EXCURSUS below)
    5. Ann, second wife of William Mackay of Melness, no issue
    6. Janet, married Donald Mackay of Borgie, and had issue (See Strathy Mackays)
    7. Bessie, married Major Donald Mackay of Eriboll, and had issue (See Aberach Mackays).
Excursus. - Elizabeth, married Hector Mackay, Clashadie, Tongue, and had issue as follows: -
  1. Alexander, an officer of the H.E.I.C. , died s.p.
  2. John, of the H.E.I.C, died s.p.
  3. Donald in Lamigo, Tongue, married Isabella Mackay, and had the following issue: -
    1. Hector, died in Melbourne, 1857, leaving issue
    2. Hugh Mackay, merchant in Lamigo, married Catherine Ross, and died about 1877 leaving issue: -
      1. John, died in Edinburgh leaving one son
      2. Christina (Mrs. John Mackay), in Edinburgh
      3. Alexandrina (Mrs. William Mackay), Skerray
      4. Isabella (Mrs. Donald Mackay), Lamigo
      All the daughters are living and have issue.

IIb. Iye Mackay of Golval, son of William 1st of Bighouse, had sasine of Golval and Strath, 6th Mar 1633, married Margaret, daughter of John Gordon of Sidera, and had issue: -
  1. William
  2. Angus, married Mary, daughter of Walter Innes, Skail, Reay, 20th Aug 1670
  3. Christina, married Donald, son of Neil Williamson Aberach;
  4. Isabella, married Donald Forbes, Auchentoft
IIIb. Rev. William, minister of Rogart, was served heir to his father Iye on the 29th July, 1663 (Chancery Record), and married Margaret, daughter of David Sutherland of Morvich, who bore him as follows: -
  1. Rev Iye, minister of Clyne, married Catherine, daughter of Patrick Dunbar of Sidera, and had a son Patrick Mackay served heir to his father in 1730.
  2. William of Forsinain. His tombstone in the church-yard of Reay bears the inscription, "Here lyes the body of ane honest gentleman, William Mackay, Forsinain, who departed this life 1720" and as the shields of Mackay and Sinclair are carved on the stone, we conclude that he was married to a Sinclair.
  3. Jane, married first, Alexander Sutherland of Morvich, and had sasine of the lands of Morvich in life-rent, 27th Feb 1686. She married secondly, Alexander Sutherland of Breygrudie, and had sasine of Breygrudie in life-rent, 18th May 1693. By her first husband she had a daughter Jane Sutherland, who married the poet John Mackay of Strathan-Melness, 3rd Jun 1712, the last of the clan Erchar Mackays whom we have been able to trace.
  4. David of Pitfure
  5. Angus
  6. Mary (Sasine Register)

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