The name Mackay is derived from the gaelic "Macaoidh" or "son of Hugh" .

Some historians have advised that the Mackays claim decent from the Royal House of Moray through the line of Morgund of Pluscarden and were originally known as Clan Morgan. This relationship with Clan Morgan is probably mythical. Around 710 A.D. a tribe known as the C'nel Lorne left Ireland to land in what is now known as Argyll in Scotland. This tribe is believed to be the progenitors of Clann MacAoidh. The C'nel Lorne are descended from Aedh, grand-son of the Irish king N'iall.

In 1160, Malcom IV removed the Clan, with other Moraymen, north to Ross, where they spread to Sutherland. They fought for Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, at the battle of Bannockburn on 24th June 1314. It was from the great-grandson of the Chief who fought for Bruce that the Clan took its name. In 1427 Angus Dubh Mackay was described as a leader of four thousand Strathnaver men.

Map - Click for larger imageStrathnaver is said to be the ancestral home of the Mackays. It is a region in the very north-west of Scotland, corresponding to the northern part of the modern county of Sutherland. The Mackays at one time possessed the stretch of land known as "Lord Reay's Country" from Drimholisten to Kylescue.

Charles I, in 1628 created the MacKay chief Lord Reay. Though they opposed Cromwell, the Mackays became staunch Whigs during both Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745 (The Forty-Five).

The Mackays suffered badly in the Strathnaver clearances between 1815 and 1818. In 1829 the Reay estates passed to the Earl of Sutherland. This decline of fortune resulted in the descendants of one of the most famous and oldest of the true Gaelic Clans being scattered to many parts of the world.

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