Francis McKay (Frank), 1887-1936


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age 30 or less
Francis Morrison McKay

Frank (Francis Morrison) married on 16th Feb. 1918 in St. Margaret’s RC Church in Huntly to Helen Whannell of 71 Loch Street, Aberdeen.  He was serving with the 6th Gordon Highlanders.  His place of residence on the marriage certificate is registered as the “British Expeditionary Force, France”.

This picture of Frank is thought to have been taken in his late twenties, and before WW1.

Helen’s parents were Hugh Whannell (occ. Wool Sorter), and Helen Whannell nee MacDonald.  Her death was notified by a son whose given address is 193 Liverpool Street, London W1 (Geordie? – to be confirmed).

Frank survived the war to be killed, tragically, in an accident involving a train.  At the time of his death in 1936 it is thought the family had been living either in Drumblade, Banffshire, or at 18 Christie Crescent, Huntly.  Sadly, Frank was found on the LNER railway line near Drumblade (Greenhaugh farm) at about 9am on the last day of November 1936 having died from serious head injuries and legs severed as a result of accidentally being run over by a train.  He was certified as unemployed at his time of death, but had previously been working variously as a farm servant, postman, and general labourer before and after WW1.  A subsequent correction to the death certificate has the words “labourer, unemployed” struck out.

His children Alex and Ella (Isabella Ann) organised the 1976 McKay gathering as a result of meeting up in Aberdeen whilst Alex was in the Northeast on holiday from Australia where he had lived for many years.

Frank and Helen’s family are shown below. Research is still ongoing, so not a complete story yet.

The other names below came from a conversation with John McKay of Forres some time ago, with more recently updated information (2019/20) from John’s brother, Alf, who lives in Weston Super Mare.

 

Helen had previously been married to a William Petrie (in Glasgow) and was widowed before marrying Frank.

Some of the children were born with surname Whannell but with named father as Frank before they married in 1918.

There was another child to Helen called Hugh Dykes Whannell born in 1904 with no named father.

Mary Helen Frances McKay was born at Roseneath Cottage, Bogie St.,Huntly.  She was resident at 36 Old St., Huntly at the time of her death.  Mary’s husband was Alexander Pirie (1907-1979), and their daughter was named Lily.

Alexander Smith McKay was born at 28 Castle St., Huntly.  He emigrated to Australia and married Elizabeth Strachan Walker (born 1908).  They had three daughters;

      • Beth, who had two daughters, Leslie and Leanne
      • Sandra, whose children are Lesley and Tiffany
      • Leslie

Isabella (Ella) Ann McKay was born in 1912 at 28 Castle St., Huntly, but no doubt due to a combination of her father being away during the Great War and not marrying her mother until 1918, was brought up by grandmother Mary McKay at Lockers Croft and at Hill Street, Newmill.  Ella was a domestic servant.  This is to be confirmed, but Ella may have had a son named Jimmy Mitchell (1934-1998), and possibly in Boharm.  He was brought up at Lockers/Newmill until 1944 when Mary died, after which Ella continued raising the ten year old.

In 1952 Ella married Alexander (Sandy) Scott (1903-1962), an agricultural salesman whose first wife died in 1951, so Ella became mother to Janet (Netta) Scott, Sandy’s daughter (1940-1996).

The author remembers meeting Ella on a couple of occasions when visiting her in the ‘old Aberdeen’ area of the city at 17 Roslin St. with his father in the early 1970’s, by which time she was widowed and becoming ‘elderly’ as far as this young teenager was concerned (she would have been aged about 60).  At her death in 1990 she is registered as resident in Peterculter,

Francis McKay junior a.k.a. Frank died in 1994 in Edinburgh at the age of 81, at the address given as 470 Gilmerton Road in the South of the city.  He had been a commissioned officer (Captain) in the Black Watch regiment.  The website author moved to Edinburgh in 1995 just a ‘stones throw’ away from Gilmerton Road with no awareness of relatives potentially living nearby.  In fact the house at 470 no longer stands, having long since been demolished to make way for an Erskine veterans care home and supermarket car park.

Details of marriage and/or children for Frank jnr are as yet not fully available, however in January 2021 a contact from London made through this website informs us it is highly likely that a daughter named Vera Sandison was born in Gartly in 1932 to Frank, named as the father, and Janet Duncan Sandison, a domestic servant.  The London contact is a nephew to Vera.  She died in 1979 in London having had no children.  The 1952 & 1953 electoral rolls for Aberdeen show Vera listed under Foresterhill hospital (Cornhill Road) so the assumption is that she had become a nurse or otherwise engaged in a medical profession before moving to London in the late 1950s.

Janet had had children earlier, and subsequent to, the birth of Vera in Huntly, and had a spouse. Frank is identified by name, by home address in Huntly, and also as a soldier in the Gordon Highlanders stationed at the time in Aldershot, and was pursued in court for alimony payment for the child in 1933.

Stephen McKay may have been a fatal casualty of WW2.  This is to be confirmed (see update towards the end of this paragraph), but if correct he was killed in Malaya in 1942 as a military policeman on a motorcycle patrol.  He is noted as having a home address of 36 Old Street, Huntly, which in fact is where his sister Mary and brother-in-law Alex Pirie had lived and was the address of Mary at her death in 1992.  For that reason this Stephen McKay is assumed to be her brother until it can be disproved.  Important Update 13th September 2019: A record of Stephen McKay Petrie born to Helen Petrie (Whannell?) in Foamyburn, Marnoch (as was brother Frank) but with father unidentified (although highly likely and therefore assumed for now to be Frank) could make the above information on Stephen McKay null and void unless he enlisted under the name McKay instead of Petrie.  Research is ongoing.

There is so far no record of Frederick (Fred) or George (Geordie) McKay, further research has been hindered by the Corona Virus outbreak of 2020.

On Helen’s death certificate the informant is named as a son said to be resident in London W1 (Liverpool Street) at the time.  The first name of the informant of her death is unclear but could be George (see below).

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