( - )
( - )
(1832 - 1897)
(1842 - )
David Shaw Mackay|
(1874 - 1952)
= ca 1900
Elizabeth Amelia King
(1878 - 1971)
Apart from the Taylors, who appear to be late arrivals in Scotland, the other families are from well known Scottish clans, follow the links there for more information. Their distribution in Great Britain in 1881 is shown here.
As can be seen in the map below, the other families were all from Sutherland (the Mathesons are not shown, but were the west coast between the MacDonnells and MacLeods)
The MacKays came from , about 40km inland from Dornoch - 10 km south of Lairg on the Shin River (see the 1830 map - reproduced below and also the 1815 Sutherland Estate map - link above). Achinduich (pronounced "ak-in-dweek") is a farm on the A836, the main road south from Lairg. The photo below is the Achinduich farmhouse today, which appears to have been built later in the 19th C.
The landscape in Scotland can be seen from this photo (looking North) taken at entrance to MacKay territory just north of Lairg on the road to Tongue. It must have been a hard life, especially in the winter.
Achinduich, in the parish of Creich, was quite a substantial farm (of old part of the Skelbo estate: bankrupt from 1716- and eventually bought by the Sutherland family in 1787) which included the outlying settlements of Ramscaig and Achmore. A house at Achmore has been excavated by archaeologists.
Achinduich tended to be split: half in the hands of a tacksman and half in the hands of small tenants. It was cleared in 1807. Outside the large sheep-parks, ruins may be seen of some of the cleared houses. The woodlands were also important.
1716 tenants: Gilbert Mackenzie, William MacKay, John Barclay, Donald McCurchie, Hugh Murray, John Murray, John McDonald, William Mckenzie, Murdoch Beg, Neil McKay, George MacWilliam.
1746 June heads of families: Alexander Murray, Donald Ros, John Matthewson, Niel Mathhewson, Alexander Gun, William Mckenzie and Murdoch McKay
1797 Mrs Margaret Douglas or Munro, tackswoman and tenants: John MacKay, John Munro, Angus MacKay, John Campbell, Robert Murray "all joint Tackholders and tenants of the Town & lands of Achinduich & its pertinents". "George MacKay Subtenant or possessor of the lands, grasing or shealing of Meikle Ramiscaig, a part of the said Pursuer's Tack lands of Achinduich"
(Thanks to Malcolm Bangor-Jones for this information)
The Taylor and Ross families probably came from and the New Zealand Mathesons and Munros from nearby at . Skelbo and Achavandra (near Trentham on the map below) are on the south shore of Loch Fleet, about 7km north of Dornoch.
It is not known if the Skelbo Mathesons were related to Isabella, but it is possible.
From the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland of about 1895:
Achavandra, a hamlet in the Dornoch parish near Skelbo in Sutherland. A free church stood on it, and was transferred to a parochial school board.
The best description of life in Scotland is that given in the Statistical Accounts of Scotland (note - to access, use the non-subscribers list). These are two accounts of life in every parish in Scotland in 1791-1799 and 1834-1845, usually written by the local minister. The accounts cover every aspect of life in considerable detail: the topography, history, population, agriculture, industry, economy, education etc and are well worth reading.
This extract from the 18th C. Account of Lairg gives an interesting insight into life there ca 1795:
p 569, Parish of Lairg, written by "A Friend to Statistical Inquiries"
For a detailed description of this era see the The Highland Clearances.
An extract from this site:
In 1809 three men were employed by the Duke and Duchess to examine the Sutherland estates and to suggest possible improvements, they were James Loch, William Young and Patrick Sellar.
The advice Loch and Young gave to the Duchess was to shift the people away from the Straths: Strathnaver, Strathbrora, Strath of Kildonan etc. and to convert these regions into giant sheep farms. The people would be made to go to allotments all over the West, East and North coasts of Sutherland.
A most benevolent action, to put these barbarous Highlanders into a position where they could better associate together, apply themselves to industry, educate their children, and advance in civilisation."
In 1814 known as the Year of the Burnings Sellar gave orders to burn the hill grazing areas so there would be no food for the tenant’s cattle and the people would have no choice but to leave.
Much of Sutherland today is littered with the remains of crofts and townships. Areas where people had lived for thousands of years now lie barren and empty. Between 1814 and 1818, Rosal was cleared, to make way for sheep farms, by the infamous Patrick Seller. It was one of the villages untouched by burning but settlements round about were all fired as they were cleared.
In the Strath of Kildonan alone, just one small part of this vast county, between 1811 and 1831 the population was decimated, from 1574 people to just 257.
The overpopulation and poverty, would have led to emigration for many, even if there had been no clearances. The Duke helped indirectly by waiving rents and giving good cattle and timber prices. He was by then, well aware of his unpopularity.
Eye witness accounts of the clearances:
The Rev. Donald Sage, missionary at Achness:
The Statistical Account of Lairg Parish written in 1834 talks about the effects of the clearances and the dramatic decrease in population. By the 1850's therefore, it seems likely the most of the worst effects of the changes had taken place, however it is fairly safe to think that the clearances were a major cause for the family's emigration to New Zealand. If nothing else the earlier emigrations resulting from the clearances set a precedent and friends writing home would have probably painted an attractive picture to young Scots looking for a life with more opportunity.
For details of the family history now continue on to