William McKay, Glenlivet (b. approx. 1675)


In August of 2021 Bill (website author) established contact with Robert B.R.Tulloch in Edinburgh, who is married to Elizabeth Helen Tulloch, born McKay, the daughter of Frank McKay (Jnr.) who was born at Marnoch near Huntly in 1913.   The introduction to Robert Tulloch came via a chance meeting in Elgin in July 2021 with Frances Fraser, a granddaughter of Frank McKay of Lockers, cousin to Elizabeth and 2nd cousin to Bill.

Until that meeting Bill had been unaware of Frank (Jnr.) having married or having offspring.  This website will be updated appropriately in time as more information becomes available, however documents compiled and/or assembled by Elizabeth on McKay history were loaned to Bill who subsequently scanned them electronically, resulting in the PDF file linked to below.

The PDF file has been inserted on this page because it charts known history of McKay family from George McKay of Lockers Croft, Newmill (Elizabeth and Bill’s great grandfather) back in time to the subject of this page, William McKay of Nether Clashnore, Glenlivet.  It will therefore replicate some of the detail already contained on this website, and the intention is to ensure the information on the website does not deviate from the content of Elizabeth’s documents.  Website updates will follow in due course.  Elizabeth had spent some time as a researcher at the Scottish Records Office in Edinburgh so the content of the PDF can be viewed with some confidence in terms of accuracy.

Click here to open the PDF fileNB: It should also be downloadable via this link.  Be aware it is almost 150Mb in size, comprising 126 pages in all including graphics.  If your technology is ageing a bit, be prepared to wait a couple of minutes for the PDF to load.   Most of the PDF pages are numbered however they are interspersed with graphics which are unnumbered, therefore page numbering is ultimately less exact than would normally be expected – there is an index near the start which serves as a navigational aid only.

Bill McKay,  August 2021

Original page text (updated 2023)

From the 1500’s to the early 20th Century, Glenlivet Estate belonged to the Gordon family (later the Dukes of Richmond and Gordon).  It is now (since the 1930’s) Crown held property.  Land owned by the Gordon family at the turn of the 17th century would have been managed by tacksmen who were basically tenant farmers, who in turn sub-divided parcels of land to sub-tenants.  It was apparently normal practice for sub-tenants to be identified using the name of the primary tenant of the land they farmed as an alias, so William McKay was also known as William Duff (Duff presumably being the primary tenant from whom land was leased).

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 or Duff. The tack of 1709 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.

Interestingly though, Donald’s son Peter McKay for whom there is a page on this website was also known as Patrick Duff.   Click here to go to the Peter/Patrick McKay/Duff page for a possible explanation.

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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August 2018