Notes re Septs of Clan MacKay

[Crest of clansfolk of Clan MacKay] Crest of Clansfolk of Clan MacKay

The Bains, or Baynes

The Bains or Baynes are descendants of the son of Neil, brother of Angus Dubh, Chief of the Clan Mackay in the early 15th century. Their progenitor was John Bain or Fair. A branch of these Bains settled near Dingwall in the 16th century. They acquired Tulloch, afterwards the property of the Davidsons.

MacPhail, Macvail, Paul, Polson

All are synonymous names. Paul, another descendant of Neil, the ancestor of the Bains, was the progenitor of the Siol-Phail sept of the Mackays. Paul MacTyre was the name of a famous Sutherlandshire freebooter who lived in the 14th century, and was Lord of Strathcarron, Strathoykell, and Westray. His fortress was Dun Creich, commanding the Kyle of Sutherland (Tongue?). The Polsons of Creighmore were said to be descendants of the Paul or Pol. Alexander MacBain, in his notes to Skene's "Highlanders of Scotland" (2nd ed.), says: "Tyre was not his father, as usually is supposed, but Mac-tire (meaning `Wolf.' a common name in his day and earlier); the name is Paul Mac-Ic-tire."


This sept is descended from Neil MacNeill Mackay. King James I gave him lands in Creich and Gairloch in 1430.


Robert Mackay, historian of the clan, writes (in 1829): "During the last two centuries there have been a respectable family of Williamsons of Banneskirk, in Caithness, of the Shiol Thomais Mackays, descended from Thomas, brother of Neil Mackay, slain at Drimnacoub.

MacCay, MacQuey, MacQuoid

The name Mackay in another form - the last an anglicised rendering of Mac-Aoidh.

MacKee, MacKie, MacCrie

These forms of Mackay are found in the Hebrides and Galloway. The clan historian says:

Alexander (progenitor of the Mackays) was succeeded by his son Walter, and he by his son Martin, who was slain in Lochaber, from whom, it is supposed, the MacKies, MacGhies and MacCries of Galloway and Ireland, and Mackays of Argyle are descended.


MacGhie/MacGhhie are not "Mackays," and the old family of MacGhie of Balmaghie, which for about 600 years possessed estates in Galloway, used completely different arms from any arms of the Chief of Mackays. They continued in possession of their lands until 1786, and presumably derived from Isle MacGhee in Ulster.

The Mackays of Argyll

The Mackays of Argyll are frequently alluded to as MacGhees.

[From: "The Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands,"
by Frank Adams. 1908]
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