Spelling There is no "correct" way to spell the name McKaig. John McKaig, the immigrant to Canada, spelled it McKaig, as do his descendants. The descendants of his brother William, who remained in Scotland, spell it McCaig. On the baptism record of their father Archibald, it is McCaig, but on the record of his brother James it is MacKaig. Their parents marriage record says McCaig, but their mother's Poor Law record says McKaig. It is also sometimes spelled MacCuaig or McKeg. Note that they all sound about the same.
The name is frequently associated with Clan Donald. According to a Clan Donald website
"MacCaig: Those from Islay or Kintyre. MacCaigs not of Clan Donald may be of Clans MacLeod or Farquharson. Clan Donald MacCaigs derive from the Gaelic: MacThaoig -"son of the poet" or "philosopher." Islay & Kintyre- Clan Donald South
"MacCuaig: Those from Islay. MacCuaigs not of Clan Donald may be of Clans MacLeod or Farquharson. Clan Donald MacCuaigs derive from the Gaelic: MacCuaich - "son of the drinking cup". Hereditary cupbearers to the Lords of the Isles. From Islay - Clan Donald South."
The Problem The only confirmed records on which John McKaig's name appears are his marriage, the baptisms of his sons, and his wife's poor law record. From the church records we only know his name and can estimate his age. Mary Beith's Poor House Case, filed 13 July 1843 tells us that John was a weaver and that he died in September 1824. We also know that, as of July 1843, Mary "resided in Causeyside and Shuttle Streets for the last 30 years", only the last 19 as a widow.
But the question remains: where and when was John McKaig born?
The life of John McKaig and Mary Beith John was born before 1771, assuming that he was at least 17 years old when he married. Mary Beith and John McKaig were married 22 Jun 1798 (Church of Scotland, Abbey Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1798 p.109). Both of them were "of this parish" at the time of the marriage.
Mary and John had two children who were named in Mary's Poor House Record:
A variety of possible records that tie to John McKaig have been found.
From "Wills & Testaments 1513 - 1800" (Scotland's People)
From "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms (Scotland's People)
- 15/12/1748, Archibald McKisaig, miller in OIB, and Mary McDougal, his spouse, Parish of North Knapdale, Testament Dative (no will), Argyll Commissary Court Cc2/3/11. The reason for the court action was the death of Mary McDougal. Their only child was a daughter Ann. Also mentioned but not named are the children of Archibald's former marriage.
- 23/06/1766, Neill MacCuag, Tenant In Cragabus, and Christian Gilchrist, his spouse, Testament Dative (no will), The Isles Commissary Court, Cc12/3/5. The reason for the court action was the June 1766 death of Christian Gilchrist. A son Duncan was named. Money was paid to John MacCuag in Cragabus, with no reason or relationship stated. Cragabus is a farm in Kildalton Parish on the Isle of Islay, on the road between the Oa and Port Ellen Ordnance Survey Name Books » Argyll OS Name Books, 1868-1878 » Argyll volume 35.
- John McQuaig, son of Duncan McQuaig, was baptized at Kildalton, Argyll 4 Oct 1740 (541/00 0010 0031). Unfortunately, most Kildalton baptism records are missing the child's name and/or the mother's name.
- John McCaig, son of Patrick McCaig and More McLea, was baptized at Campbeltown, Argyll 02 Dec 1761 (507/00 0030 0092)
- John McCoaig, son of Gilbert McCoaig and Isabell McIntosh, was baptized at Campbeltown, Argyll 24 Apr 1767 (507/00 0030 0127)
- John McCoaig, son of Duncan McQuaig, was baptized at Campbeltown, Argyll 4 Oct 1740 (541/00 0010 0031)
Married before? The marriage record of John McKaig and Mary Beith is silent with regard to their status. Since Mary was about 30 years old at the time of the marriage, it is quite possible that either or both of them had been married before. There are several possible earlier marriages for John where no children were baptized in 1798 or later.
Another child, possibly son of the same John by a different marriage, baptized at Killean And Kilchenzie, Argyll (note: marriage records do not begin until 1783):
One possible scenario for the family in Paisley is that they are from Campbeltown, and Mary came with them to Paisley to care for the children.