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The Scottish Nation

MACAULAY (additional). The name Aulai, Awlay, or Alzea, is said to be derived from MacAulaidh, the son of Olave or Olaf, the Norse Olla or Olaus. A tribe of Macaulays were settled at Uig, Ross-shire, in the south-west of the island of Lewis (in Gaelic Leodhas, anciently Leoghas, the land of lakes), and many were the feuds which they had with the Morrisons, or clan ‘Ille Mhuire, the tribe of the servant or disciple of Marg, who were located at Ness, at the north end of the same island. In the reign of James VI., one of the Lewis Macaulays, Donald Cam, so called from being blind of one eye, renowned for his great strength, distinguished himself on the patriotic side, in the troubles that took place, first with the Fifeshire colonies at Stornoway (see article MACLEOD), and then between the Lewis men and the Mackenzies. His attacks on the latter were fierce and frequent, so much so that to this day there is a Gaelic saying, Cha robh Cam, mach robh crosd, whoever is blind of an eye is pugnacious,” but really meaning that it is not easy to overcome a one-eyed person. Donald Cam Maclaulay had a son, Fear Bhreinis, “The Man,” or Tacksman of Brenish, of whose feats of strength many songs and stories are told. His son, Aulay Macaulay, minister of Harris, had six sons and some daughters. Five of his sons were educated for the church, and one named Zachary he bred for the bar. One of his sons, the Rev. Kenneth Macaulay, Ardnamurchan, nicknamed Kenneth Drover, wrote a ‘History of St. Kilda.’ Dr. Johnson, on his journey to the Hebrides, turned out of his way to visit him, and paid him a compliment on his ‘History.’ He had an only son, Aulay, who married in England. The Macaulays of Uist and Harris are all descended from the Brenish family.

George Macaulay, a native of Uig, died an alderman of London, in the end of the 18th century.

Another of Aulay Macaulay’s sons was the Rev. John Macaulay, A.M., grandfather of the celebrated orator, statesman, and historian, Lord Macaulay. Born at Harris in 1720, John Macaulay graduated at King’s college, Old Aberdeen, and was ordained minister at South Uist in 1745. The same year he furnished some information through his father, which nearly led to the capture of Prince Charles Edward. In 1756 he was translated to the parish of Lismore and Appin, Argyleshire, and in 1765 to Inverary. He was minister of the latter place when he met Dr. Johnson, on his famous visit to the Hebrides. In 1774 he was translated to Cardross, Dumbartonshire, where he died in 1789. He married Margaret, 3d daughter of Colin Campbell of Inversregan, Ardchattan, and had twelve children.

One of his sons entered the East India Company’s military service, and attained the rank of general.

Another, Aulay Macaulay, known as a miscellaneous writer. Born about 1758, he was educated at the university of Glasgow, where he took the degree of M.A. During his residence at college, he contributed various essays to ‘Ruddiman’s Weekly Magazine,’ under the signature of Academicus. He afterwards became tutor to the sons of J.F. Barham, Esq., of Bedford, in whose family he remained three years. Having entered into holy orders, he obtained the curacy of Claybrook in Leicestershire, where he went to reside in August 1781. To Mr. Nichols’ ‘History of Leicestershire’ he contributed various articles of local interest, particularly a complete account of the parish of Claybrook. In 1789 he was presented to the rectory of Frolesworth, which he resigned in 1790. In the autumn of 1793 he made a tour through South Holland and the Netherlands; of which he furnished a curious description to the Gentleman’s Magazine. In 1794 he attended a son of Sir Walter Farquhar, as tutor, into Germany; and during his residence at Brunswick, he was employed to instruct the young princess, afterwards Queen Caroline, in the rudiments of the English language. In 1796 he was presented to the vicarage of Rothley, by Thomas Babington, Esq., M.P., who had married his sister, Jane. He died February 24, 1819. He had married a daughter of John Heyrick, Esq., town-clerk of Leicester, by whom he had eight sons. He published the following works: -- Essays on Various Subjects of Taste and Criticism. 1780. – Two Discourses on Sovereign Power and Liberty of Conscience, translated from the Latin of Professor Noodt of Leyden, with Notes and Illustrations. 1781. – The History and Antiquities of Claybrook. 1790. – Various detached Sermons. – He was more than thirty years engaged on a Life of Melancthon, which was never completed.

Zachary, a third son, was for some years a merchant at Sierra Leone. On his return to London, he became a prominent member of the Anti-slavery society, and obtained a monument in Westminster abbey. He married Miss Mills, daughter of a Bristol merchant, and had a son, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lord Macaulay.

This nobleman, born October 25, 1800, at Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, was named after his aunt’s husband, Thomas Babington, a wealthy English merchant. He graduated at Trinity college, Cambridge, of which he became, in 1822, a fellow. In the second year of his course he had carried off the chancellor’s medal by his poem ‘Pompeii.’ In the following year a similar distinction was awarded to his poem ‘Evening,’ and in 1821 he was elected to the Craven scholarship. In 1822 he took the degree of B.A., in 1825 that of M.A., and in 1826 he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn. He had already won himself some literary fame by his essay on Milton in the Edinburgh Review, by his ballads, and by numerous contributions to the periodical literature of the day. The Whig government conferred upon him a commissioner-ship in bankruptcy, and, under the auspices of the marquis of Lansdowne, he was elected M.P. for Calne in 1830. He took a prominent part in the agitation for reform; in Dec. 1832 he became secretary to the board of control, and was elected M.P. for Leeds. In 1834 he was appointed fifth member of, and legal adviser to the supreme council of India. In 1838 he returned to Britain, with that practical knowledge of Indian affairs of which he afterwards made so efficient use both in speech and essay. From September 1839 to September 1841 he was secretary at war. In January 1840 he was elected M.P., for Edinburgh. In 1842 he published his ’Lays of Ancient Rome.’ His ‘Essays’ appeared in 1843 in 3 vols. In the government of Lord John, afterwards Earl Russell, he was, in July 1846, appointed paymaster-general of the forces, with a seat in the cabinet. In 1847, the electors of Edinburgh, by a majority, declined to re-elect him, and in May 1848 he ceased to be paymaster of the forces. In that year appeared the first two volumes of his ‘History of England from the accession of James II.’ In 1849 he was elected lord rector of the university of Glasgow, and in 1850 the honorary appointment of professor of ancient history in the Royal Academy was conferred upon him. In 1852 he was spontaneously re-elected M.P. for Edinburgh. In 1853 he received from the king of Prussia the order of merit, which had been founded by Frederick the Great. The same year his ‘Speeches’ were published. In 1855 the third and fourth volumes of his ‘History of England’ appeared. He was raised to the peerage of the United Kingdom as Baron Macaulay, Sept. 10, 1857. He died, unmarried, Dec. 28, 1859, and was buried in Westminster abbey. IN 1862, a tablet, containing his name and the dates of his birth and death, and the words “His body is buried in peace, but his name liveth for evermore,” was placed over his grave. At his death his title became extinct.

Electric Scotland Website, corrections (MacAulay)

Lucas McCaw <>
6:47 PM 19th Jan 2023

Hello Alastair,

I hope this finds you well. My name is Lucas McCaw and I live out in Edmonton, ALberta. I am a teacher but also happen to be the Heritage Secretary for the Clan MacAulay (my own maternal side Macaulay family comes from the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides). I am also the lead researcher/admin for various Macaulay DNA projects concerning specific families from around Scotland and Ireland.

One of my project members sent me a link to the Electric Scotland website and made mention of the MacAulay entry on the page. I went to read it and noticed some inaccuracies about the family. Given that this is an old article, I'm not surprised, since the issues would not have been known/provable 20+ years ago. At this time though, a huge amount of information has been discovered thanks to modern science, DNA testing, etc. I was hoping you might be able to make corrections to the article so as to reflect current understanding? It just helps with others new to researching the family. It's easiest to avoid misunderstandings at the beginning.

The page address is:

The Scottish Nation

Most of the inaccuracies are in the first paragraph, the overview. I've made a few notes I hope you can go over.

First paragraph:

"A tribe of Macaulays were settled at Uig, Ross-shire, in the south-west of the island of Lewis"

-Uig is on the north-west of Lewis, not the south-west

-The first Macaulays of this specific family listed further down in the page were not "settled" at Uig. This family began at Uig at the time that people/families in the Hebrides started taking on surnames (1400s/1500s). There are no other Macaulays from other areas of Scotland or Ireland that are ancestral to this family.

-Advanced Y DNA testing has now shown there are MULTIPLE and completely unrelated families (at least 5 or 6 at this point) of Macaulays who originate on Lewis. The largest is the Uig family, who count among them anti-abolitionist Zachary Macaulay, Lord Thomas Babbington Macaulay, and Domhnall "Cam" Macaulay.

Some of these other Macaulay families on Lewis are proven illegitimate lines via Macaulay females in the 1700s or earlier. Some are simply from a coincidental surname that arose on the island. Y DNA testing is also showing that some of the traditional tales of the various sons of Domhnall Cam may be inaccurate as the living descendants of some of these sons don't match each other on Y DNA.

"The Macaulays of Uist and Harris are all descended from the Brenish family."

-This is quite incorrect as proven by Y DNA. The Brenish Macaulays were one small branch of the larger Macaulay family in Uig. THe vast majority of males in the Uig Macaulays do not trace back to a male who lived in Brenish, but in fact from males who were cousins of the Brenish family, and lived in other parts of Lewis. And the majority of the MAcaulays who lived in Stornoway (capital of Lewis) are not related to the Uig Macaulays whatsoever.

-The Uist Macaulays are ABSOLUTELY NOT descended or related to ANY Macaulay family on the Isle of Lewis. Y DNA studies have proven that completely. In fact there are 2 separate and distinct Macaulay families on North Uist. One of them now shows that they descend from a family of Macaulays who originated on South Uist from the time of surname establishment. The other North Uist Macaulay family has only done basic DNA testing, but clear they are separate.

-Only a couple of Harris Macaulays have tested, and so far they descend from the "main" Uig family described above. But they are from very different branches. None of the other Macaulays in Harris have tested, so there is absolutely no proof to the claim that all Harris Macaulays are from Uig. Some of them likely are, but others may be completely distinct from each other.

-There are no documented or genetic connections between the MAcaulays of Lewis and the Macaulays of the Uists.

Please let me know if there's any clarification you need, or any other questions.

Thank you and take care,

Lucas McCaw
Heritage Secretary, Clan MacAulay

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