George McKay 1862-1915

George & Mary McKay of Lockers

George McKay has the distinction of being the only member of the McKay family to have lived his entire life at Lockers, Newmill, Banffshire, a holding of approximately 15 acres. Born there on 12th October 1862, the second son and youngest child of Peter McKay and Isabella Clark, he remained there until his death (also at Lockers) on 2nd May 1915.

In the 1871 census George is listed along with his parents and older sister and brother - Marjory born 1859 and William born in 1860, but by the 1881 census his mother was the head of the family, his father having died in 1879 and his brother William previously left home for Forres. On 14th January 1882 George married Mary Newlands and they reared their numerous progeny at Lockers, his mother living with them until her death in 1894. After he himself died in 1915 his widow carried on at Lockers until the early 1920's when she moved to the village of Newmill.

Until comparatively recent times many small farmers and crofters could not rely solely on agriculture for their livelihood and were often engaged in other activities as well, frequently leaving the various family members to carry on the cultivation of the land in their absence. These individuals thus provided the sort of essential services without which a rural community would founder i.e. that of the smith, the wright, the molecatcher, to name but a few. George McKay was one such farmer, in his case the subsidiary occupation being that of cattle and horse dealer - a vital role in an agricultural society. He travelled far afield in this pursuit and is known to have gone as far North as Sutherland in search of suitable beasts. The usual practice was for the animals to be brought down over the ancient system of drove roads to be sold at trysts and fairs all over the country. One of the biggest of these was at Akey Brae in Buchan which was one of the few fairs to be attended by English buyers. In general the cattle side of the business was in decline by the last quarter of the 19th century and the trading at these fairs became mainly in horses. George McKay seems to have followed this trend as we are told that he originally dealt in cattle but latterly was known as a horse dealer.

George is also remembered for having quarrelled violently with his local priest (it is said that this was not unconnected with immoderate drinking habits...) and as a consequence severing his connection with the Roman Catholic Church. Thus was broken the long tradition of Highland Catholicism of the McKay family.

Origin Unknown 14th January 2011

Map of Lockers

The actual location of Lockers ('x' marks the spot) is slightly to the North & West of the pointer on the above map, virtually nothing remains of the original building apart from crumbling walls and gable end with chimney. The pointer describes the location of Followsters farm where Mary (Newlands) McKay lived with her family before marrying George.
Mary's story can be seen via the 'Family Links' page.

Apparently the Lockers holding ultimately consisted of two crofts - upper and lower Lockers.

The pointer on the map actually shows the location of the neighbouring farm called Followsters where Mary was staying prior to their marriage in 1882. Followsters prospers to this day.

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