I haven’t been actively researching my family’s genealogy but did acquire a copy of the Book of MacKay by Angus MacKay and my grandfather’s war records. I haven’t had time to go through the former but I dutifully added the latter to my Reunion 9 database. My previous posts both here and on various genealogy forums turned up someone with some answers as our family trees intersect.
I’m now able to better trace my direct lineage back to Scotland. The male line appears to go:
- Andrew Muschamp
- Moray Andrew
- William Andrew
Eight generations is pretty good. I even produced a graph. Details on the two oldest Scottish McKay ancestors are minimal. They both got married, Angus McKay appears to have married Helen Davie on March 22nd in Barony Lanark Scotland. It appears my ancestors lived a while in Lanark and some distant relatives must live there still. Angus’s parents appear to be Donald McKay and Mary McLeod who lived in Rogart, Sutherland, Scotland. I did some further digging and in 1812 a Donald McKay and a Mary McLeod both are connected to “Achlean of Pitfure” in Rogart Sutherland.
I’ve written some people who may be able to help me, so I might have further updates shortly.
Yesterday I volunteered for the Union Bay Historical Society and supposedly people want more information about my Irish McKay relatives. My oldest proven ancestor on that side still remains Robert McKay 1829-1892, his wife was Mary Ann, maiden name possibly being Downey. I actually have a bit more information, they appear to have been married on August 6th, 1852 in Larne, County Antrim, Ireland. Robert’s father may have been Alexander McKay also from Antrim Ireland.
Those ancestors along with the Muschamps figure prominently in Union Bay history. I am still looking for more information about the Muschamps, Emerson 1862-1952 is still remembered. His father also an Emerson died in 1877 and married a Maria Martin. His father would be another Emerson born 1750 died September 5, 1835. His father is thought to be John born March 20, 1707 died in 1795 or 1798. His father is yet another John born 1677 died December 20, 1757. Finally there is another John Muschamp who the researcher thought to be from Newham, England. Proving that John is the same as another John Muschamp and ensuring all the other Johns and Emersons are correct produces an even bigger family tree which has been researched and documented.
My other oldest family tree, the Dougans goes back to Ireland. A lot of dates are missing but my oldest ancestor on that side is a James Dougan, who had a son Isaac, who himself had a son Isaac and another named Arthur. Arthur married Jeanne and had six children. Their son James Dougan sailed to Canada in 1859, married Annie McGrath and they had many, many kids in the Cowichan Valley. Arthur and Jeanne lived in Northern Ireland, six miles South of the city of Coleraine, on the ancient farmstead of Ballywillen (Ballywillan). Several generations of Dougans or O’Dougans as they would have been known in the distant past, lived on this farm.
Dougan can be spelled a number of ways. Although the family tree survives there is no contact and little known about this family from their time in Ireland, much is known about them in the early history of the Cowichan Valley.
It seems most of my Irish ancestors came from one single county, County Antrim, though I think some came from Londonderry or County Derry. Both are part of the historic Irish province of Ulster, I suspect some of my ancestors may have been Ulster Scots. Almost all my ancestors seem to have been Presbyterian.
If you have any leads you can leave a comment or contact me easily enough through email. More and more information keeps getting digitized and there are websites even television shows that help you in researching your family tree. I ultimately found two new specialty forums and left questions about Donald McKay and Robert McKay and their kin. I also read more of the Book of MacKay but it is mainly concerned with the ruling family or certain other prominent longtime land owning families. Much of the early origins of the name based on Angus’s research is in the Wikipedia or even earlier sources such as Sir Robert Gordon and yet another Robert McKay. Robert’s book is available free online. There is plenty of information on the ancestral homeland of the Mackays and their origins. The trick is tracing your lineage back, which pretty much requires land ownership or service to the crown from about 1850s or so on. Apparently the 1841 census was the first decent one, beyond that you have to rely on old country church records, land deeds, wills, or documents kept by the family. Literacy rates (and public education) increased as the 1800s dawned, from possibly 45% in Scotland to around 85% a hundred years later. England was actually less literate, but what got written down and then survived for 200+ years is a crap shoot unless it involved land, money, literature, or the church.
Some people keep contacting me about my research. I try to help people when I can. My recent WordPress upgrade didn’t go perfectly, but all the data I’ve put online is still online. We had dinner with my 94 year old grandmother, she is interested in my research and offered to fund it, so I’m thinking of taking the plunge and signing up to Ancestry.ca for a while. I’d already put in a request for a marriage certificate from Ireland on the advice of someone online. If I can just export my data from Reunion 9 into Ancestry.ca and most importantly, easily get information back out, I guess there is little harm in trying their service. I will need a world account as there are Scottish and Irish ancestors, plus the odd English one.
I’m reconsulting some old books and papers we have as well. Hopefully I get lucky, but I fear after about 1841 accurate records diminish and none of my ancestors were particularly rich or famous. I don’t have any particularly squeamish relatives or infamous ancestors, to the best of my knowledge. I’ll probably keep my tree private though, just in case.