John McKay, Lockers 1885

John and Ida, late 1940's ?

John McKay was born at Lockers Croft to the North of Newmill.  He married Ida Masson who lived at Montgrew but with origins in Morayshire (Pluscarden).  From 1892 Ida, aged 6, was legitimised as daughter to James Smith Robb who farmed Montgrew, the year he married Annabella Masson (Ida's mother).  The farm tenancy fell ultimately to John and Ida possibly on their marriage in 1905.  Until that time John McKay had been employed as a farm servant at Montgrew (known locally as Growies).

It is of more than some interest that in that same year before Ida and John married (in December), Ida gave birth to a son, James Morrison, in February, to farm servant John Morrison.  In 1913 James' birth certificate was amended to record John Morrison as the father, who subsequently (in the same year) emigrated to Alberta, Canada to work on a brother’s farm. He later disappeared and was found drowned in the harbour of Prince Rupert Island, British Columbia, in 1941.  More information on the Morrisons in the 'McKays of Montgrew' booklet - see link below.

Montgrew farm belonged to the Fife estates and comprised some 110 acres at that time, supplemented by the lease of land belonging to the Seafield and Fife estates in the vicinity of Keith and the village of Newmill, to the West and North of Montgrew respectively.

The author, grandson of John and Ida, was born 3 years after John died and therefore has no additional direct knowledge or information to draw on, and all of John and Ida's immediate family have now passed.

Information on family members included below comes from research carried out and information provided by family members and made available in various formats, and pulled together here as a central repository as far as possible.   Endorsed corrections and additions from anywhere and anyone are welcome.


  Click HERE to bring up a chart of children and grandchildren of John and Ida McKay (you might have to right-click and open in a new tab in order to zoom in and out or scroll left or right depending on the machine you are using.


John's family members do not all have individual pages allocated on this website, so short biographies are included here below to help the reader know a little more about who they were as characters - all of them are now deceased.  Grandchildren may be included within separate family lines.

Disclaimer: The information here is correct as understood by the author as originally assembled in 2019.  If any of it seems incorrect or otherwise needs amendment please contact me, Bill McKay, via the form on the website Contact page (or directly by email if you happen to know my email address).  I will be more than happy to make changes requested. 


James (Jimmy), John's Firstborn Son

Jimmy left home in the late 1920's (1928) to take up farming in Canada as a single man.  He took up farming in the province of Saskatchewan however these were the depression years and he returned home in the mid-1930's.  By comparison, his uncle Robert who had emigrated 2 years earlier in 1926 survived and prospered, and raised a large family in Saskatchewan.

On returning home Jimmy secured an appointment as chaffeur to the Reverend Fraser, minister of the Parish of Grange in close proximity to Montgrew farm.  At the outbreak of WWII he was called up and joined the RAF as an engine fitter, and on demobilisation worked as a millwright in various locations in England before returning to become a maintenance engineer with the MacRobert Douneside estate in Tarland, Aberdeenshire.  At Tarland, he met his wife to be, Evelyn Glennie, who was housekeeper to Lord and Lady MacRobert, and there they remained until Jimmy's death in 1987.

Jimmy and Evelyn had no family, but it might be noteworthy and permitted here to mention that Evelyn had a niece, born 1965 and also called Evelyn Glennie, who has become a world renowned musician (virtuoso percussionist primarily) despite being hearing impaired since childhood and profoundly deaf from the age of 12.

Fairly or not, Jimmy was known as prickly and argumentative, characteristics perhaps not entirely unheard of elsewhere in the McKay clan!

Norman (Rory)

As was apparently the way amongst John McKay's children, Norman was known by a nickname.  Rory became apprenticed to businessman Harry Brown who ran a joiner and millright business in Newmill near Keith. After his appenticeship, he went to work as a maintenance engineer at flourmills in Leith (Edinburgh), Bristol in the West of England, and later London before settling in Halesowen, Birmingham, again in the West of England (somehow known in England as 'The Midlands') where he became manager of a small engineering company.  Here also, he and wife Mina established a small corner shop and grocery business, helped by Mina's mother,  Mrs. Flanagan.   Daughter Phyllis and her husband Johnny Batsford eventually took over the grocery business on the deaths of Rory and Mina.  Interestingly, Rory and Mina married on 14th July 1931 in St. Thomas' RC Chapel in Keith.  It had always been assumed by the website author that Mina's surname (Flanagan) indicated she was from Ireland, however her mother came from Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire and was named Elsie Robertson before marrying Joseph Flanagan in Scotland (possibly in Glenlivet).  Elsie subsequently remarried to Smith but seemed to have retained her Flanagan surname and in her latter years lived with Rory and Mina in the Dudley area of Birmigham.

Iris (Kirsty)

Kirsty moved South to the central belt in Scotland (the Glasgow-Edinburgh 'corridor') as a nursing auxiliary, before returning home to Montgrew to help with the demands of a growing family.  Husband-to-be Sandy Rennie was employed as first horseman at Montgrew, and after marriage and service in other farms in the North-East, they settled in the village of Alves, Morayshire.  They brought up young Sam and daughter Iris there, as well as eventually fostering two teenage boys.  Iris married Ian McIntosh (a telecomms engineer) and they lived within a mile of the village of Alves raising 4 children.  Information on Sam and wife Bertha is not yet available although it is known they had 3 children.

Isla (Dimple)

After school, Isla took up nursing starting at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and later at Aberdeen, followed by Dr. Gray's Hospital in Elgin as the first sister in the casualty department.  There she met 'husband to be' Alec Mackenzie who was an accident victim in that unit.  They raised a family in Elgin where Alec had a motor factor trade business,.  Son Graeme and eventually daughter Margaret (after experience as a medical radiographer) followed their father into the business, and Graeme went on to acquire the well known Junners cycle and toyshop business in Elgin.

Ivy (Jock the Quine)

With a large number of younger siblings, Ivy spent her early adulthood helping to run the home at Growies (Montgrew farm).   Her future husband, Sandy Morrison, was employed on the farm, and after service on other farms in Banffshire and Morayshire they settled in the village of Dyke near Forres, where Sandy became the Church beadle and pursued his hobby of woodworking until his death.  Ivy eventually moved into the town of Forres.

Josephine (Joey)

Like Ivy, Joey spent early adult years helping out at Montgrew until she met Bill Clark, one of the Clarks from Fortrie farm of Grange, whom she married.  Bill was athletic in his younger days involved in Highland Games, but also well known as an acclaimed Bothy Ballad singer.  He spent a number of years in the army before settling into farming with Joey near Ballindalloch, where they raised a large family.

Norris (Roger)

Roger worked at Montgrew, a champion match ploughman winning medals for working with Clydesdale horses. After WWII he and Lizzie started farming at North Bogbain farm to the west of Keith.  The story is not totally clear today, but perhaps due to the farm being under the same land ownership as Montgrew there was a connection between them, and in 1953 the status of the financial balance sheet of Montgrew started to impact the sustainability of North Bogbain leading to Roger giving up North Bogbain.  After then working as farm Grieve at various places including (more than one) at Tarland with some involvement in the North of Scotland Agricultural College, Earnside and Mains of Alves farms near the village of Alves to the west of Elgin, and finally Seafield farm to the North of Forres. Roger gave up farming at the relatively young age of 50.  The family moved to Elgin where Roger worked until retirement at Elgin City Sawmills as a sawyer and saw doctor.  He was an accomplished fiddler and continued to entertain at pubs (notably the Imperial in Elgin) and events in and around Elgin until his early eighties.

John (Jock or Don)

Jock worked on Montgrew before being called up during WWII.  He served in an infantry regiment, but it is not known now which of the theatres of war he operated in (Europe, Middle East, or Far East).  His wife Susan and he met whilst she was serving in the WAAF, also during the war.  Susan was from Fife, so they set up home in Fife where Jock worked in the potato industry and later as a worker with the local county council in Glenrothes.  He died young (aged 60) from a heart attack,  Jock and Susan had two children, John and Sheila.

William (Beal - for the uninitiated in Doric, it rhymes with Peel)

Bill went from school in Keith to the Meteorological Office (M.O.D. related civil service work closely associated with the Royal Air Force), becoming a weather forecaster serving in the UK and abroad, ending his time in the Met. Office in charge of the weather station in Gibraltar where he served more than once.  From 1942-1947 he served in the RAF as a pilot involved in high level and long range weather reconnaisance.  He served in other overseas tours including the planning and operation of weather services for the Christmas Island hydrogen bomb tests and as a team leader for the British contribution to the International Indian Ocean Expedition from 1963-1965.  He was awarded the MBE medal in the mid-1960's for services to Meteorology.  On retirement to Elgin with wife Jean in 1981, he became secretary to Elgin golf club whilst Jean was involved in the running of local charities.


Sadly, Robert died aged about 6 years, of Septicaemia.

George (Dogs or Geordie)

On leaving school, Geordie worked at Montgrew, and after the death of his father John, he and wife Jean continued the tenancy of the farm with his mother Ida until the early 1960's when Ida retired to live in the town of Keith.  Geordie moved to Garmouth near the mouth of the river Spey where he ran local bus services until his premature death aged about 41 from a heart attack.  Jean and two sons Norman and Michael moved to Elgin whilst third son, young Geordie, had already married.  Sadly young Geordie died soon thereafter in a road accident.


Like several of her sisters before her, Mary entered nursing and worked at the Sick Children's hospital in Aberdeen after leaving school.  She later married John Mann from Keith who was then serving in the Army.  John was a baker to trade, and resumed that work after being discharged from the Army due to ill-health.  Mary and John had a family of 6, and unfortunately John died in the late 1950's from his illness leaving Mary to raise the young family.  Ida McKay (her mother) lived with Mary and the children for some time until around 1970 when Ida moved into new-build accommodation for retirees.


Alfred lived only 8 or 9 days and died from 'infant debility'.

Margaret (Babbie)

Babbie also entered nursing, becoming a ward Sister before marrying husband Gordon, who was in the Army.  They settled eventually at the Army base in Catterick (Yorkshire) and continued to live out their lives near there, where Gordon became the (civilian) barrack warden on leaving the Army.  They had a son, Keith, and daughter, Ann.

Ida (Bunty)

Bunty became a Post Office Telephone Supervisor after leaving school, but eventually moved into nursing like many of her sisters, and became a Nursing Sister Tutor.  Sadly she sufferred from emphysema and died young aged just 55.  Click here for an obituary from NHS colleaqgues.

The McKays of Montgrew Booklet - This work describes the children and families of the children of John and Ida in some detail, and was created in the years 2011/12 by Isobel Calder, daughter of Mary Newlands McKay.  Many of the family are variously covered to a greater or lesser degree and there are numerous pictures and stories to bring the subjects to life.   A wealth of information from Isobel compiled carefully with contributions from across and down the family chain.  Reading it is recommended.  For the best reading experience, use full-screen mode obtained by clicking the icon below the flip-book presented here, and use your mouse (if not on a mobile device) to zoom-in/out as required  ...

John McKay is pictured here as a young man, estimated about 30 years of age, possibly less, which means it would have been in the years leading up to WW1.

Entirely possible at the time this picture is taken that he would already have assumed management of Montgrew along with Ida.




Supporting Evidence for DNA Hunters

These graphics, updated November 2019, show known family links for John and Ida, away from the paternal Glenlivet McKay heritage roots shown elsewhere on this website.  They may assist ancestry hunters match DNA indicators related to these predecessors more clearly than elsewhere.

James Morrison

At age 16 James enlisted in the regular army in the 1st Gordons. He served in Malta, Constantinople, Egypt, India and Northern Ireland, and on 22.09.1939 was part of the British Expeditionary Force in France.  He was killed in action in France on 6th June 1940, aged 35, and is buried at Franleu Cemetery, South of Abbeville, France.

James was married to Isabella (Tibby) Milne from Keith and had three children, Isobel, James and John. Isobel died in the 1990s, young James died at age 45 and John (Jackie) still lives in Keith.

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August 2018