William McKay, Glenlivet

The earliest record found to date of McKays in Glenlivet is of William, who was given a tack on Nether Clashmore in 1709, in the name of William McKay of Duff. This was followed by another tack for three years in 1711. The next tack found however was for the year 1735 and was for a nineteen years duration. On this occasion he was named as William McKay, together with his son Donald. In the interval between 1715 and 1735 the tacksmen in Nether Clashnore were Duncan McWilliam, his son William, and James Gordon of Beldornie.

It may be that William McKay was unable to match the rent offered by these persons and had remained in Clashnore as a sub-tenant. Certainly the 1735 document refers to Clashnore as being in his possession. In that year, he, together with his son Donald and also Robert Gordon of Achdregnie, were granted the lease for nineteen years. This Robert Gordon later petitioned the Duke of Gordon, alleging that he (Robert Gordon) being an illiterate person, had failed to understand the precise terms of the tack. He requested that he be named the sole tacksman, to the exclusion of William and Donald. He stated that he was prepared to let the old man (William) remain as a tenant, but wanted nothing to do with the remainder of the family (Donald and his brothers). Although he ended his petition by suggesting that His Grace should prefer a Gordon to a Duff, this apparently carried no weight. The petition was ignored. Perhaps the Duke was influenced by the unenviable reputation of the Gordons of Achdregnie.

The McKay family continued in Nether Clashnore until the late 1920’s. The evidence for this is contained in the Gordon Castle Muniments, where the names and in some cases the relationships of father and son are recorded, together with details of rents paid and arrears.

The last McKay line in Clashnore was that of James McKay and his wife Catherine McIntosh. James was descended from Robert McKay, a younger brother of William who left Glenlivet for Aultmore in 1845. James and Catherine had nine children, most of whom were born at Nether Clashmore.

Achnarrow is the largest farm in the district.  The lands of Nether Clashmore have now been taken in by Achnarrow, while Clashnore was until 1983 a Government Experimental Farm but is now leased by Mr. Alastair Nairn. Upper Clashnore, previously Backside, is also under lease and also farmed.

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