From Scotland to Ulster

From Finlay Mór to Ffyndley McKyndley of Raphoe

Pushing back through the mists of time and trying to deciphers what few records we have and interpret legends that have been trodden over and re-written to suit different families and different interest, yields an interesting tale. So let me try and cast some light on not only how the Irish McKinleys happened to move across from Scotland from Perthshire, but also how a Highland family migrated down from the wilds to relative "civilisation". As is often the case there is a considerable amount of devious dealings, disasters and tragedy - which all make for a great telling.

Let's start with what we suppose we know: that one Findla Mór, standard bearer to the royal House of Stuart, was killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547 and that from him sprang the name and lineage of the Scottish and hence Irish McKinlay/McKinley clan. Did he exist: very much so. Is there record of him: yes. So we have a good starting point.

Findlay was the second son of Donald and Isabel Farquharson and was born in a small place called Invercauld, which is between the villages of Braemar and Balmoral in the heart of the Cairngorm Mountains, about a hundred miles due north of Edinburgh. For his brave deeds not only did his offspring come to use the family name McKinlay (Anglicised version of Gaelic son-of-Finlay), but he was also awarded the stewardship of Invercauld and hence became the 1st Farquharon of Invercauld (a title which still remains with the Farquarson family to this day). He married twice and we assume that his first wife, Margaret, died young. His second wife was called Beatrix Garden or Gardyne and according to Farquharson family history begat six sons and four girls before the Great Finlay was cut in half by an English cannon-ball.

Here starts the whole intrigue of who begat the McKinlays. According to Farquharson history the title of Farquharson is inherited via the third son of the second marriage: their reasoning is that the only known son of the first marriage, William, died without leaving a male heir. But for whatever reason, the line of Findlay Mór via his second wife Beatrix, kept the name of Fraquharson and did not take the more honoured McKinlay. I smell intrigue or perhaps the machinations of a second wife who wanted the best for her off-spring (a normal occurance in the blood-thirsty norms of Scottish inheritances).

One of the reasons behind not wanting to follow the McKinlay line may have to do with a complaint made to the King about the carrying on of various McKinlay's in the area. The King in question was James Vth of Scotland, the poor fellow who was to become father of Mary Queen of Scots. He commanded his half-brother the Earl of Murray, local chief of the area, to descend upon the Clan Hatton at Bayenacht and to "destroy" them. Now the Farquharsons and McKinlays were a sept of the Hattons (Clan Chatton). The monarch went on the proclaim "Foresame kill as Johne M'Kinla, Thomas Makkinla, Ferquar M'Kinla, brethir (brothers)...." for basically the crime of burning, slaughtering and raising hell in the area. Now there are two things to conclude here: one the one hand we have three McKinley brothers who are clearly on the wrong side of the law for one reason or another; secondly that as early as 1528 they were publicly named McKinlay. This therefore questions the notion that Findlay was the founder of the Clan, or at very least questions as to whether William was the sole son of the first marriage. Whatever the answer it does give a pretty clear reason as to why Beatrix didn't want the line and title going down through outlawed McKinleys.

What became of the outlawed brothers we don't know: there is a high probability that the sentence was carried out; another possibility is that they fled the area. Which might explain as to why the next we hear of McKinlay's is a hundred miles to the south south-west in the region of Callander, just to north of Glasgow. Nothing like a price on your head to make you change allegiances from one feudal Lord to another. One other source mentions that Findlay in fact had four sons by his first wife and five by his second: this would seem to tally with William plus the three hot-heads being sons of the first marriage. But the King's rage was vented against the entirety of Clan Hatton and its septs, so one has to also question just how Findlay himself kept alive and not only survived the slaughter but went on to have the Earl of Huntly appoint him as royal standard bearer a couple of decades later. From what I can find out, all the named men were killed and the women and children shipped down south to the lowlands - which goes a long way towards explaining how the McKinlays got to settle in the area of Anie.
The McKinlays of Callander
Again let us start with what we do know. Various McKinlays settled in the area of Callander some time in the 1500's. By the early 1600's they were certainly farming at The Anie, a townland on the southern shore of Loch Lubhaig to the northwest of the village of Callander. The earliest reputed settler in the area was one Donald McKinlay who was born in The Anie in 1589, being son of a certain Thomas McKinlay who in turn was born in the early 1560's. But around the same time there is mention of one Finlay McKinlay being born in 1580 a little further over to the west in Glen Finglas. this is important given the Scottish naming pattern as his name and his date of birth give credence to the idea of him being a grandson of the great Findla Mór.

As the map to the left shows Glen Finglas and the Anie are about three miles apart and we have records of McKinlays living all around the area in the 1600's and later. But for some reason the Glen Finglas McKinlay's disappear early on, whilst the neighbouring families around Anie survive and grow.

There is an interesting, if sad, tale as to what might have happened. Certainly the story seems to fit in with what we know of the Scottish McKinleys and may be the seed for why a large number of them moved across to Donegal in the 1610-20's. This is to be found on the web-site under the Stewarts of Balquhidder forum run by Ryk Brown. For the link follow

The intrepid researchers have found 17th Century parish records that suggest as to why the little valley had its name: basically due to one of its inhabitants, Finlay Glas Farquharson. Finlay Glas means Grey Finlay and the Farquharson name now gives us a direct ancestoral link up to Finlay Mór in Braemar. The records refer to the valley as being called Glen Finlay Glas, Glenfinlayson and Glenmacfinlay. The site goes on to underline that the senior line of McKinlays settled at Anie, just across in the next valley and that their family burial ground was the small chapel of St Bride's where we find the gravestone of John McKinley, as set out in the section on the front page dealing with the link from the Anie to Donegal.

Half way between Glen Finglas and the Anie, high in the saddle of the mountain pass is a small lake called Lochan nan Corp, or "small lake of the bodies" (highlighted in yellow in the map above). Local legend talks of a large family group making there way in the depths of winter in a funeral procession from Glen Finglas across to St Bride's Chapel at the Anie. The family is not named but the logical conclusion is that we are dealing with a McKinlay group taking their deceased across the pass for burial at St Bride's. Being in the deep mid-winter the group assumed that the ice on the lake was thick and strong, and headed out crossing over the lake on foot: the ice broke and they all perished: or so the legend tells. This left the little valley empty and apparently a group of local McGregors moved in and took the place over: this certainly goes a ong way to explaining why we have material evidence of McKinlay's in Glen Finglas early in the 1600's who then disappear all together.

Before leaving the story of the Glen Finglas McKinlays consider the following: local parish and legal records of the 17th century mention a number of McKinlays in the immediate vacinity: with just three different first names between the eleven mentions, these being Donald, Finlay and John. From what I have found so far there are no other McKinlay families mentioned in records in Scotland in the early 1600's. Of our Donegal McKinleys of that era the names John and Finlay are common. I suspect that the fellow being taken for burial was Finlay Glas, grey Finlay himself, with the entire family group following on behind the recently deceased patriarch. Under the Scottish naming system this Finlay Glas would likely have been a grandson on Finlay Mór, and thus we are talking of a death that took place late in the 1500's or very early in the 1600's.

From Callendar to Donegal

The only real link is based on namings and the structured method of Scots nomenclatures. I was going back over the "proof" of the Antrim McKinley's coming from the Callendar area. In the first place, being a sceptic, I put to one side all suggested proofs post 1900: by that stage the Scottish McKinlays had a vested interest in prooving the Dervock link across to the President of the US.

Going further back the have the following facts.

Fact 1: The Hearth Money Rolls of 1669 name the following McKinley householders in the County of Antrim (NB none named in the previous census substitutes etc., which suggests they arrived in post 1640). Daniel McKinley, Daniel McKenly, Robert McKenly, John McKinley, Daniell McKinley, Gilchrist McKinly, Widow McKnely, Malcum McKinly, Daniell McKinily, Widow Kinly, John McKinlagh, Malcullum McKinly and John McKinla. The predominant names therefore being Daniel (four times), John (three times) and two versions of Malcolm. Try as I might I couldn't find any sight or sound of a Daniel McKinley in the Callendar area. But John McKinley was a completely different issue: we have an existing tombstone of one John McKinley who died in the Callendar area on 13th August 1732 aged 52 - ie born 1679/80. He dovetails neatly into the birth year of the third suggested son of John (Iain) McKinley of the Anie, Callendar (son of Donald, son of Thomas, son of William, son of Finlay Mór). That is to say that this is John McKinley, younger brother of "James the Trooper". The Gaelic rendition of John being placed in brackets in the source material had me go check my Gaelic and of course what is the English version of the Gaelic Dónall ... Daniel of course. So here we have two of the three keys names of the Callendar McKinley's cropping up in Antrim one generation later. The three McKinley brothers in Callendar were Donald (alias Donall, alias Daniel), James (the Trooper...even though he was probably another fellow called David,...but anyway) and the youngest, John.

Fact 2: The father of John Iain (father of the three brothers mentioned above) is said to have been Donald McKinley born at the Anie circa 1589. A web-site of the Stewarts of Ardvorlich carries the following Court statement as proof of a Stewart who was told to "apprehend and try John Roy McDuff in Rannach for stealing under cloud and silence of night sky ... a mare pretaining to Donald McEanlay of Dulater" 6 July 1620. The Gaelic rendition of McKinley is without the K,...hence McEanlay. So we have a Donald McKinley having a mare stolen off him from his farmland in Callendar - Dulater being a part of Callendar.

Fact 3: most sources state that this Donald was the son of Thomas, son of William, son of Finlay Mór. They also state that Thomas had a brother, John, born in 1560 (Thomas in 1562). But this John completely disappears from Scottish records (well, "records" is an exaggeration...). Now here may lie the link between our Antrim McKinleys and our Donegal/Londonderry McKinleys. The Muster Rolls of Donegal and environs, taken in 1630, name fifteen McKinley males as men-at-arms. Six of these are John, three Robert, and two ffyndley. But the key here is that one of the John's is clearly named as John the elder, man at arms of the Bishop of Raphoe. But the forenames of John and ffyndley are very clear links back across to Callendar. We know that the Donegal McKinley's were in the area by 1611 as there is a stated reference to one Neale McKinly - meaning John brother of Thomas would have been 51 at that time, ie a senior clan member and quite likely to have been entitled "John the elder".

Fact 4: a couple of miles from Callendar lies Glen Finglas where a parallel McKinlay line "appears". There is reference to a Finlay McKinlay born 1580 who had a son Donald in 1615. There are suggestions that this Donald was father Donald, James the Trooper and John...but that we are unlikely to ever find out. There is only one other instance of a Finlay McKinlay outside of the Callendar area, and he appears two generations later. So again, we come back with a strong naming-link bewteen Donegal and Callendar. These Glen Finglas McKinlays disappear early in the 17th century.

Fact 5: I refer to the posting from Cheryl Rowe on Genforum on Feb 12th (re York PA connection of William McKinley to David McKinley). In this she talk of a comment from the Buchanan's suggesting that two groups of McKinley's crossed over to Ireland due to some form of persecution (legal, religious or feud?). If the Donegal McKinley's came from the line of John the elder, and that John the elder was brother of Thomas; and if the Antrim McKinleys followed some forty to fifty years later from the line of Donald: well then that story has legs.

Clearly there are issues with all of this: but the forenames do seem to stick (for the moment anyway).