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The Scottish Nation

REAY, Lord, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conferred in 1628, on Sir Donald Mackay of Far, baronet, the elder son of Hucheon or Hugh Mackay, by his second wife, Lady Jean Gordon, eldest daughter of the eleventh earl of Sutherland. He was born in February 1591, and in 1612, in his fatherís lifetime, was engaged, under a commission from the king to him and John Gordon, younger of Embo, in arresting at Thurso a notorious coiner named Arthur Smith, a servant of the wicked earl of Caithness, when a tumult ensued in which John Sinclair of Strickage, a nephew of the latter, was killed. The matter was brought before the privy council, on the complaint of both parties. In December 1613 Donald Mackay, with others concerned, obtained a remission and pardon for their share in the transaction. He succeeded his father in 1614, and in 1616 was knighted at Theobaldís by King James VI. Believing himself to have been ill used by his uncles Sir Robert and Sir Alexander Gordon, in 1618 he abandoned the house of Sutherland with which he was connected, and formed an alliance with the rival family, that of the earl of Caithness, who had long been their mortal enemy, the principal object of this alliance being the destruction of the clan Gun. Through the interference, however, of his uncle, Sir Robert Gordon, he was soon after reconciled to the Sutherland family, and in 1622, when Caithness was denounced a rebel, his name was included, with those of his uncles and James Sinclair of Murkle, in the new commission of fire and sword issued against him. In 1626 Sir Donald obtained the kingís license to raise a regiment in the north to assist Count Mansfeldt in his campaign in Germany, and collected about 3,000 men, the greater part of whom embarked at Cromarty in October of that year. On account of bad health he was obliged to delay his own departure, and on 18th March 1627 he was created a baronet. Soon after he proceeded to Germany, and distinguished himself in the service of the king of Denmark. In 1628 he was again in Britain, when he was raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Reay, by patent dated 20th June of that year, to him and his heirs male for ever. Returning to Germany, he served two campaigns against the imperialists, and in 1630 he joined the king of Sweden with his regiment, in consequence of a peace having been concluded between the king of Denmark and the emperor of Germany. A considerable number of gentlemen, chiefly from Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, joined him on this occasion, some of whom rose to high rank in the army of Gustavus Adolphus. In 1631, he returned to England, and was accused by one David Ramsay of having said that the troops raised by the marquis of Hamilton for the Swedish service were intended to assist him in asserting his right to the Scottish crown. Lord Reay denied the charge, but Ramsay persisting in his story, his lordship challenged him to combat. As the case involved a matter of treason, it was considered so important that a high court of chivalry was, by commission under the great seal, constituted, to superintend the combat, which was appointed to be fought in Tothill Fields, Westminster, 12th April 1631, the English earl of Lindsey being nominated for the occasion high constable of England, and the earl of Arundel, earl Marischal. The parties were ordained to be armed each with a long sword, a short sword, a pike and dagger. The meeting was adjourned to 17th May, and on the 12th the court assembled, when both Lord Reay and Ramsay were committed to the Tower of London till they found security to keep the peace.

On the breaking out of the civil wars, his lordship, with the earl of Sutherland and others, joined the Covenanters on the north of the river Spey. He afterwards took arms in defence of Charles I., and in 1643 arrived from Denmark, with ships and arms, and a large sum of money, for the service of the king. He was in Newcastle in 1644, when that town was stormed by the Scots, and being made prisoner, was conveyed to Edinburgh tollbooth. He obtained his release after the battle of Kilsyth in August 1645, and embarked at Thurso in July 1648 for Denmark, where he died in February 1649. He married, first, in 1610, Barbara, eldest daughter of Kenneth, Lord Kintail, and had by her Y Mackay, who died in 1617; John, second Lord Reay, two other sons and two daughters. By a second wife, Rachel Winterfield or Harrison, he had two sons, the Hon. Robert Mackay Forbes and the Hon. Hugh Forbes. Of this marriage he procured a sentence of nullity, and then took to wife Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Thomson of Greenwich, but in 1637 was ordained to pay his second wife £2,000 sterling for part maintenance, and £3,000 sterling yearly during his non-adherence. By Elizabeth Thomson he had one daughter.

John, second Lord Reay, joined the royalists under the earl of Glencairn in 1654, and was taken at Balveny and imprisoned. By his wife, a daughter of Donald Mackay of Scourie, he had three sons; 1. Donald, master of Reay, who predeceased his father, leaving by his wife Ann, daughter of Sir George Munro of Culcairn, a son, George, third Lord Reay. 2. The Hon. Brigadier-general ∆neas Mackay, who married Margaretta, countess of Puchlor; and 3. The Hon. Colin Mackay. ∆neas, the second son, was colonel of the Mackay Dutch regiment. His family settled at the Hague, where they obtained considerable possessions, and formed alliances with several noble families. Their representative, Berthold Baron Mackay, died 26th December 1854, at his chateau of Ophemert, in Guelderland, aged eighty-one. He married the Baroness Van Renasse Van Wilp, and his eldest son, the Baron ∆neas Mackay, at one time chamberlain to the king of Holland, became next heir to the peerage of Reay, after the present family.

George, third Lord Reay, F.R.S., took the oaths and his seat in parliament, 29th October 1700. In the rebellion of 1715, he raised his clan in support of the government. In 1719, when the earls Marischal and Seaforth, and the marquis of Tullibardine, with 300 Spaniards, landed in the Western Highlands, he did the same, and also in 1745. He died at Tongue, 21st March 1748. He was thrice married; first, to Margaret, daughter of Lieutenant-general Robert Mackay of Scourie, colonel of the 21st regiment of foot, killed at Steinkirk in 1692, and had by her one son, Donald, fourth Lord Reay; secondly, to Janet, daughter of John Sinclair of Ulbster, by whom he had a son, the Hon. Colonel Hugh Mackay of Bighouse, and a daughter, Anne, wife of John Watson of Muirhouse, Mid Lothian; and, thirdly, to Mary, daughter of John Dowel, Esq., writer in Edinburgh, and had by her four daughters and two sons, the Hon. George Mackay of Skibo, and the Hon. Alexander Mackay, captain in the earl of Loudounís Highlanders, on that regiment being raised, 8th June 1745. At the battle of Preston or Gladsmuir that year, he commanded one of the three companies of his regiment engaged in it, and was taken prisoner by the rebels. He attained the rank of lieutenant-general in the army, and was commander-in-chief of the forces in Scotland, colonel of the 21st foot, and governor of Stirling castle. He died 31st May 1789. Christian, the third daughter, was the wife of the Rev. John Erskine, D.D., of Carnock, minister of the old Greyfriars church, Edinburgh.

Donald, fourth Lord Reay, succeeded his father in 1748, and died at Durness, 18th August, 1761. He was twice married, and, with one daughter, the Hon. Mrs. Edgar, had two sons, George, fifth Lord Reay, who died at Rosebank, near Edinburgh, 27th February 1768, and Hugh, sixth lord. The fifth Lord Reay was also twice married, but had issue only by his second wife, a son, who died young, and three daughters. Hugh, his half-brother, who succeeded him, was for some years in a state of mental imbecility. He died at Skerray, 26th January 1797, unmarried, when the title devolved on Eric Mackay, son of the Hon. George Mackay of Skibo, third son of the third Lord Reay. Admitted advocate in 1737, Mr. Mackay of Skibo was, in 1757, elected M.P. for the county of Sutherland, and two years afterwards was appointed master of the mint of Scotland. He died at tongue, June 25, 1782. By his wife, Anne, third daughter of Hon. Eric Sutherland, only son of the attainted Lord Duffus, he had 5 sons and 4 daughters. His eldest son, George, died in 1790. Eric, the 2d son, became 7th Lord Reay. Alexander, the next, an officer in the army, succeeded as 8th Lord Reay. Donald Hugh, the 4th son, a vice-admiral, died March 26, 1850 Patrick, the youngest, died an infant.

Eric, 7th Lord Reay, was, in 1806, elected one of the representative Scots peers. He died, unmarried, July 8, 1847, and was succeeded, as 8th Lord Reay, by his brother Alexander, barrack-master at Malta, born in 1775. He married in 1809, Marian, daughter of Col. Goll, military secretary to Warren Hastings, and relict of David Ross, Esq. of Calcutta, eldest son of the Scottish judge, Lord Ankerville, issue, 2 sons and 6 daughters. George, the eldest son, died in 1811. The 2d son, Eric, master of Reay, was born in 1813.

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