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Research Notes
for John McKaig, husband of Mary Beith

Contents Spelling  |  The Problem  |  Where to Look  |  Married before?  |  Summary

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:

  1. Archibald McKaig, born 20 Oct 1802 Paisley, baptized 29 Oct 1802 High Church, Paisley (Parish registers for High Church, Paisley 1802). He died after June 1840 "fighting in Mexico".
  2. James McKaig, 22 Jan 1807 Paisley, baptized 28 Jan 1807, Middle Church, Paisley.

Where to Look  As indicatd above, the McKaig name is frequently found in the Western Highlands, particularly on the Isle of Islay and the nearby mainland.

A variety of possible records that tie to John McKaig have been found.

From "Wills & Testaments 1513 - 1800" (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.
From "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms (Scotland's People)
  • 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.

  • John McCoaig and Susan McAlaster were married 26 Apr 1790 at Campbeltown, Argyll (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Banns & Marriages, 507/00 0050 0027).  Only known children, baptized at Campbeltown, Argyll:

    1. Archibald and Donald MacCoag, sons of John MacCoag and Susanna MacAlestor, both baptized 16 Feb 1791 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 507/00 0020 0128

  • John MacCuaig and Anny McMillan were married 20 Jul 1787 at Killean and Kilchenzie, Argyll (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Banns & Marriages, 519/00 0010 0315).  Only known child, baptized at Killean And Kilchenzie, Argyll:

    1. Issabella McCuaig, daughter of John McCuaig and Ann MacMillan, baptized 4 Feb 1789 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 507/00 0020 0128)/li>
  • 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):

    1. Niell McCaog, son of John McCaog and Jean McMillan, baptized 23 Jul 1785 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 519/00 0010).  He is not included with the next family because of the location of his baptism.

  • No marriage record has been found for the following John McCaog and Jean McMillan.  Apparently they were legally married, as their son John is called "lawful son" on his baptism record.  Known children, baptized at Paisley Low Church, Renfrewshire:

    1. John McCaug, son of John McCaug and Jean McMillan, baptized 25 Jan 1784 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 573/03 0020 0194)

    2. Marry McCaig, daughter of John McCaig and Jane McMillan, baptized 21 Mar 1789 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 573/03 0040 0005)

    3. Jean McCaig, daughter of John McCaig and Jane McMillan, baptized 28 Feb 1794 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 573/03 0040 0038)

    4. JamesMcKeag, son of John McKeag and Jean McMillan, baptized 8 Nov 1795 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 573/03 0040 0048)

    5. James McCaig, son of John McCaig and Jean McMillan, baptized 4 Nov 1795 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 559/00 0030 0228)

  • John McCoaig and Margaret McKenderick were married 19 Jul 1785 at Campbeltown, Argyll (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Banns & Marriages, 507/00 0050 0020).  Only known child, baptized at Campbeltown, Argyll:

    1. Mary McCoaig, daughter of John McCoaig and Margaret McKenderick, baptized 6 Feb 1789 (Scotland's People, "Old Parish Registers", Births & Baptisms, 507/00 0020 0110)

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.

Summary 

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© 2015 Shirley York Anderson