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Letter from Ross Macky


June 9th, 1949

    Dear Mr Macky
    I wish to begin by offering my profound thanks for the Book of Macky which arrived here yesterday. I spent the whole evening reading through the pedigree and the letters which I found so interesting, especially as I know the district around Coshquin and Fahan pretty well.
    Nevertheless, I believe there is a lot of information which I can add and which I hope will be of interest to all Mackys wherever they may live.
    In the beginning of your book you speak of John Macky, known as 'the spy', who lived at the end of the seventeenth century. He was not, as you state, a spy of James II but for William III at the Court of James II in Paris. Practically the whole of the clan Macky had fought for the Protestant cause under Gustavus Adolphus in Holland and Germany.
    I possess one of John Macky's books, A Journey Through Great Britain, with an account of all the notable personages of the time. This book was published in 1723 by his son, Spring Macky. In this book he gives the reason for the name now being spelt with an extra 'a'. It was all due to General Mackay who fought for William of Orange at Killiecrankie in 1689. This gentleman, when he was in the French service, put an 'a' between the 'k' and 'y' in his name to give it the greater sound, calling himself Mackay. This is imitated by all the younger people of the clan and those in Kintyre-- but the branches in Fife, the clan Stirling and Galloway still write it after the old way of 'Macky' as did Lord Reay.
    It is a tradition in our branch of the family that we took a very active part in the Siege of Derry in 1689, and are mentioned in all the accounts of that event. At the beginning of the siege the whole of the township was formed into six companies and a William Macky was made an officer, an ensign of the 6th Company. He survived the siege and later became an alderman of the city and also an elder of the Presbyterian church. In 1704 he refused to take the Sacrament as laid down in the Test Act and so had to give up his post as an alderman of the city.
    He was a merchant, and in McKenzie's narrative it states: Our men were diligent to countermine the enemy, being incited to it every night by General Mitchelburn. These works were carried out under the care of Captain Schornbron and the indefatigable pains and charges of Captain Michael Cunningham and Mr Will Macky, who both paid some of the soldiers for working, out of their own pockets, and gave many of those that wrought meat at their houses.
    In the famous Battle of Pennyburn Hill in which the Defenders of Derry made a surprise cavalry charge outside the walls, led by Colonel Murray, a Lieutenant William Macky, another of this name, was killed. In this charge the French General Mamman was slain by Colonel Murray.
    In the records of Derry Cathedral I have this entry:

1643 12th April George Macky buried in Cathedral

1654 4th May marriage of Thomas Gardiner and Mary Hogge solemnised in presence of David Macky, Edward James and others at Derry.

    I have also countless others but this just shows that Mackys have been in Derry from very early times. The Cathedral records only go back to 1642. I give now some names of landowners of the name Macky with the date and residence.

1721 James Glenside Parish of Lifford
1723 David Molleman Parish of Templemore
1723 James Coshquin Parish of Templemore
1723 Joseph Drumachore
1728 William Parish of Derry City
1732 William Parish of Derry City
1757 Samuel Inisdren Parish of Culdaff
1766 John Parish of Derry City
1798 James Gallagh Parish of Derry
1816 David Molleman Parish of Templemore

    You mention in the letters of 'old Mr Macky' the banker of Derry being buried in 1849. Now this was my great-great-grandfather William Macky who was born in 1769, married Anne, daughter of James Parker, and is buried in Derry Cathedral. He had nine children and was succeeded by his eldest son, James Thompson Macky. This William had a brother, John Macky, who owned a farm at Ballynagalleagh and another at Connanoyle. He married Eleanor and had two sons, James and William. There was another Macky living at Gallagh at the same time named James (Jack) Macky who married a Dorcas. He had two sons, William and John. William was left the farm at Lisfannon, and John one at Gallagh. Three daughters, Anne, Dorcas and Elizabeth.
    The banker William was a JP and Burgess of the city. In 1796 the Derry Yeoman Cavalry was formed, composed of about 50 gentlemen of the city and he was one of the first to join.
    His son, James Thompson Macky, was born in 1800 and died in 1885. He married Caroline Coffin, daughter of Admiral Frances Holmes Coffin of Devon. He brought the Bank of Ireland in a stage coach from Dublin, escorted by a troop of cavalry. During the Sinn Fein troubles he raised his own troop of horses with which he used to scour the countryside. That was in order to prevent the Feinians burning down out of the way farms and buildings belonging to Protestants. He was once engaged in a very fierce fight at Burn, County Donegal. In his time he travelled over the whole of Europe. He was JP and deputy-lieutenant of County Derry. He had five children and was succeeded by his son, Captain Francis Coffin Macky, JTDL, of the Third Dragoon Guards. He was my grandfather.
    He married Emma Clara Beresford, a relation of the Marquis of Waterford. My grandfather was High Sheriff for County Donegal and County Derry and whilst in the army aide-de-camp to the Duke of Cambridge who was commander in chief at that time. He was born in 1847 and died 1920. He was succeeded by his son, my father, Captain John Barn Beresford Macky, late of Warwickshire regiment.
    He was born in 1889 and in 1908 went to the north west frontier of India with his regiment and was there until 1912. A brother lieutenant at the time was the present Field Marshall Montgomery who is also of a Derry family. My father was very badly wounded at the battle of .......... and was taken prisoner. Being so badly wounded he was taken in charge by the Red Cross in Switzerland and was later retired from the army. I was born in Switzerland in 1923 and have been studying archaeology. I have just returned from Tripolitania where I have been excavating the ancient Roman and Phoenician city of Sabratha.
    Well, I have given you a very rough account of my side of the family and also a few details from other records. I have written across to Derry to try and find out where Kilfinnan lies, as I have not heard of it. We have a tradition that the family originally came from Kintyre probably about 1630 but are not the Mackys of Kintyre but belong to the Mackys of the island of Islay-- the Mackys of the Rhinns as they are called, and who used to be hereditary lieutenants to the MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, until his flight in 1620. There exists in the Records Office of Scotland the oldest Gaelic Charter dated 1408 from Lord of the Isles to the MacAridh-na-Renna, or Mackys of the Rhinns as it is called in Gaelic. I enclose one of the book plates and a photo of James Thompson Macky and John Macky of BallynaGallagh.

Ross Macky