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Rev. James Aberigh Mackay
Vicar of St. George's Church, Penang, Malaysia between 1859-1868

Born in Inverness on 5 August 1820, the Reverend James Aberigh-Mackay was a minister in the Scottish Episcopal Church and became chief of the Aberach Mackays.

He was the son of George Mackay, a merchant and Presbyterian Church leader. He graduated from King's College, Aberdeen in 1840 and then spent some years in the United States where he attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He was ordained in 1845. He returned to Inverness in 1849 and was appointed Curate at St John's Chapel. Following the death of Bishop Low in 1850, it was widely anticipated that he would become Bishop but this post was given to Robert Eden.

In 1857 he went to India and was involved in the Indian Mutiny. He saw active service with his regiment, the 9th Lancers, and officiated at Penang, Meerut, Simla and Calcutta. After 18 years' service he returned to Britain and continued to officiate at home and abroad. His elder son, James L Aberigh-Mackay became Lieutenant Colonel of the 8th Bengal Cavalry and was recognised as one of the most brilliant cavalry officers in the British service.

He died in Bournemouth on 14 June 1908.

The photograph is from 'Sutherland and the Reay Country' edited by Rev Adam Gunn & John Mackay, 1897

From an email from Mike Gibby....

Rev. James Aberigh Mackay was born and grew up in Inverness, he attended firstly, Aberdeen University, and then Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, where he met and marr

James Livingston Aberigh-Mackay 1845-1920
Lillias Grant Aberigh-Mackay 1847-1925
George Robert Aberigh-Mackay 1848-1881
Charles Frederick Everest Aberigh-Mackay 1850

As was common at that time, the children were left behind in Scotland when Rev. & Mrs Mackay left for Calcutta.

Within months of their arrival in India, the Mutiny broke out. The Mackays survived this, at the siege of Lucknow (Rev. Mackay writing a book of his experiences about it) and he was then posted to Penang. About 18 months after their arrival at Penang, Lucretia returned to Scotland due to chronic ill health.

In one sense, Lucretia's departure marked the start of a new life for the Reverend, as from this time onwards, he lived for extended periods with a series of parishioners’ families, and through each of these hosts; he was introduced to their different circles of friends. The Rev. Mackay became quite adventurous, traveling regularly from Penang Island, across to Province Wellesley, which was then populated by a small number of European planters, and gave church services there. From his diary entries one senses he enjoyed a sense of freedom in this new territory.

He was quite a social reformer, for example by securing the early release of some
sailors convicted of being accessories to manslaughter - by persuading Sir Benson Maxwell, their sentencing judge, to support their pardon! Other examples of his humanitarian causes are referred to in his diary.

The Reverend also enjoyed a warm disputation; with some independent Anglican missionaries, who were very much Puritans - who disapproved, for example of his reading Punch magazine, which they felt should not be read by any Christian. During his time in Penang it appears he also wrote 2 novels (‘Wimberley Castle’, and ‘Morley Grange’) though it is not clear if they were ever published.

Perhaps the Rev. Mackay’s most impressive achievement was maintaining excellent relations with everyone at Penang, despite the society being deeply divided – and his departure from Penang, caused quite an eruption of appreciative articles in the ‘Penang Argus’ newspaper.

He wrote a diary started in January 1860 in Penang and it's available from the Bodleian Library, Oxford with the final entry in 1869.

Photo of Mackay's church in Penang - St. George's Church. Its from the Royal Collection at Windsor castle,;  specifically the pic is 'From an album presented to Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh by the Bishop of Penang in remembrance of his 1869 visit'.

Mike Gibby, November 2021

Molochology Not Theology: Penang Sermons
By James Alberigh Mackay (1870) (pdf)

The basic story behind this 2nd book is, that when he was about to leave Penang, his parishioners made a subscription (collection) for him - he suggested they use it to make a Church library, but instead they preferred the idea of publishing a collection of his sermons.

From London to Lucknow
With memoranda of Mutinies, Marches, Flights, Fights, and Conversations to which is added an Opium Smuggler's explanation of the Peiho Massacre by A chaplain in H.M. Indian Service in two volumes.

Volume 1 | Volume 2

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