Also known as Morgan (son of Magnus in the early 14th century) and by their Gaelic name "Macodh" or "son of Hugh" (though which Hugh, nobody knows, though Aodh, abbot of Dunkeld has been suggested). Malcolm Macaodh was married to the sister of Somerled of the Isles and became Earl of Ross in the 12th century and the clan became established in Strathnaver in Caithness. When the 2nd Lord of the Isles invaded the area to claim the earldom of Ross, Angus Dubh Macaodh opposed him but was defeated and captured. However, he married his captor's daughter (who was also a granddaughter of King Robert II) and gained substantial land. Angus was killed at the Battle of Drumnacoub in 1429.
The Mackays had to defend their territory against their powerful neighbours the Earls of Sutherland but eventually had to sell out the last of their property in 1829 through debt. In 1626 Sir Donald Mackay raised an army of over 3,000 men and fought in the Thirty Years War in Bohemia and later in Denmark. Donald Mackay was created Baronet of Nova Scotia on 28th March 1627. He became Baron Reay (after the name of the clan territory) in 1628 and fought for King Charles I> in the Civil War. Later, Hugh Mackay of Scouri commanded the forces of William and Mary> at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. Staunchly Protestant, they fought against the Stewarts in the Jacobite Uprisings of 1715 and 1745. In the 19th century the close links with the continent and Holland resulted in the title of 12th Lord Reay passing to Baron Eric Mackay van Ophement in the Netherlands. The next chief of the clan became a British subject in 1938 and worked in the Foreign Office during WW2.
The Irish MacKays, McCoys and Magees probably originated in Scotland, crossing to the Ulster Plantations in the 17th century.
The clan motto is "Manu forti" (With a strong hand).
The Maccrie, Macghee, Macghie, Mackee, Macvail, Scobie, and Bain families are regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the Mackay clan.
Mackay was the 42nd most frequent surname at the General Register Office> in 1995.
There are Mackay clan Web sites here> and here> as well as here>.
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