More Macaulays of Uig

Baile na Cille

Letter to the Gazette, 5 May 1921:

Sir – I observed in your columns the other week an interesting article re the origin of the Clan Macaulay and Lord Macaulay’s ancestors. We have no definite historical proof that the Macaulays are of a Scandinavian origin. The name Macaulay is admittedly pure Norse, also their appearance favours their Norse origins. Some students of Macaulay History maintain they came from the north of Ireland, and settled in Uig, Lewis. Based, no doubt, on the assumption that in some districts of Ireland the name Macaulay is a very old one, and forms a big percentage of the population of these districts. The West Highland Macaulays however, are not like them in features or otherwise. Physically the Irish Macaulays are typical Celts. It is evident that Macaulays were in Uig, Lewis, for a long time previous to the 16th century, but we cannot go further back with any degree of authentic record than Dugald Macaulay, father of the famous, Donald Cam, of whom very little is known. [Stories are known of Dugald’s father, John Roy, however.]

It may be of interest to some of your readers to know that Fear Bhreidhnis, Lord Macaulay’s ancestor, died of apoplexy or heart failure while steering his boat from Brenish towards the entrance of Uig bay. He appears to have been a bit of a Martinet, as when his boatmen saw him in distress they stood so much in fear of him that they dared not ask him what ailed him. They landed his remains at Carnish, and they were buried in Baile na Cille churchyard Uig.

The Macaulays burial place in this old churchyard, as most of your readers know, is locally known as the Chapel Mor and the Chapel Beag. The Brenish family were buried in the Chapel Beag, but fear Valtos and his descendants being in the line of succession, were entitled to bury in the Big Chapel. Of this Valtos family was that prominent man, Mr. Macaulay of Hoy in Orkney, who was so popular with the Orcadians. He is buried in the precincts of Kirkwall Cathedral. Reverting to the Chief Donald Cam, who was at constant feud with the Morrisons of Ness, it may not be generally known, but it is the case, that he gave in marriage one of his daughters to Young.

On the birth of their first baby, Mrs. Morrison’s Uig maid discovered a plot by the Morrisons to destroy the child if not the mother. The maid fled to Uig, taking the baby with her, but was overtaken by the Morrisons at Bragar. She, however, it is said, evaded capture, and the Macaulays being informed of this, lost no time in seeking out the Morrisons for reparation and satisfaction for this insult to the daughter of their house. However, with the advent of the Fifer, their feuds appear to have ceased. It was at the Old Stornoway Castle, around which the fiercest battles were fought, that the Macaulays of Uig, with their brave Chief, distinguished themselves, and ultimately made it so hot for these adventures that they were forced to leave the island. I may add that the writer learned these facts from the late Mrs. Malcolm Maclean, Crowlista, Uig, nee Christina Macaulay, the sixth in direct descent from Donald Cam, and she was an authority on the genealogy and history of her Clan.

H Maclean