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Alexander McKay

Generation 6




1841 Census

1851 Census

1861 Census

1871 Census

1881 Census

1891 Census

1901 Census



1775 / 76


1841 / 51









I have to confess this is a bit of a longshot involving a lot of supposition and circumstantial evidence. It starts with David McKay. As I say on David McKay's record, I am short of a lot of information on him. However, I did find him in the 1851 Census and clearly identified him through his wife Eliza McKay (McCulloch). The Census gave me his age and place of birth, those being 32 and Edinburgh, St Cuthbert's, respectively. His age gave me a 'suggested' birth year of 1818 or 1819.

In actual fact, there are two contenders for his birth record. Firstly, there was a birth in 1819, in St Cuthbert's Edinburgh to a William McKay and a Margaret Manson. Secondly there was a birth in 1820 to an Alexander McKay and a Barbara McLeod, also in St Cuthbert's Edinburgh. Initially, I leant towards the first of these, as this would have made David 32 at the 1851 Census, the age that was recorded against him at the Census. However, as I thought about it a bit more, I started leaning towards the second, i.e. Alexander and Barbara. The information that pointed to them is all circumstantial, but persuasive:

  • Alexander and Barbara lived in Stevenlaw's Close, Edinburgh. Now, although there are about 40 years between the two examples, the fact is that David's son, Robert McKay, married Ann Bueglay, whose family had a long history of living in Stevenlaw's Close. It may be that the two families lived side by side for many years; there is also the coincidence of names - David's son, Robert, called his daughter Barbara and my own father is called Alexander.
  • I found an 1841 Census record for an Alexander and Barbara McKay. Because of the ages I am not at all confident they are the same people, but there are no other 'contenders'. They lived in Old Assembly Close, which is located very near to Stevenlaw's Close. Living with them was "Alexander Jnr" (aged 28), who I presume was their son and was described as a 'Type Founder'. This is a job in the printing trade and 10 years later, David McKay's entry in the 1851 Census identifies him as a Printer Compositor. In those days entry into the printing trade was a jealously guarded thing and it's perfectly feasible that it was 'kept in the family';

All a bit speculative and tenuous, but I am reasonably convinced Alexander is the father of David McKay and I will now pursue this line.

(In the 1841 Census, referred to above, Alexanders occupation is given as "Army Pensioner", which probably means he fought in the Napoleonic Wars. I found four 'Alexander McKays' in the Napoleonic Wars section of 'FindMyPast', but unfortunately there are no details that can be used to distinguish one from the others.)

I have been unable to find, with any degree of confidence, a birth record for Alexander and I have no information about Alexander that narrows down his place of birth, other than the information in the 1841 Census, which at least indicates that he was not born in Edinburgh . Given the times, you might think that he was born in the same place where he was married, but there is no clear candidate for that. On the other hand, it looks like Barbara was born in Ross-shire and possibly Killearnan and there is a birth record for an Alexander McKay born in Killearnan in 1783, but there is no definitive evidence it is him and his age at the time of the 1841 Census evidence would have been 58 rather than the 65 ascribed to him ...... but, you never know.


Birth - 1775 / 76

From the age ascribed to Alexander in the 1841 Census, Alexander would have been born in this period. Under the heading of 'whether born in in this county', the Census is marked with "N". So, he may well be the Alexander McKay I found born in Killearnan. More work needed here.

16th June 1819

Alexander married Barbara McLeod in the parish of St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh. In a remarkably detailed record, Alexander is described as a "Wright" living at Castle Hill, Murray's Close, Edinburgh. His wife is recorded as being the daughter of Alexander McLeod, a farmer from Ross Shire. Barbara was living at 27 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh.

View the record.

1st July 1820

Alexander' son, David, was born in St Cuthbert's Parish, Edinburgh. Alexander was described as a Wright (just as he was in his marriage record) and his mother was Barbara McLeod. They lived in Stevenlaw's Close, Edinburgh.

View the record.

1841 Census

I have real doubts as to whether this is the Census record for my Barbara because of the ages ascribed to her and Alexander, but it's the only contender. The Census records that Alexander, aged 65, lives with his wife Barbara, aged 58 and "Alexander Jr", aged 28, in Old Assembly Close, Edinburgh. I assume 'Alexander Jnr' is Alexander's son, but it doesn't say so. Our Alexander is described as an "Army Pensioner", which possibly means he fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

View the record.

5th April 1846

Alexander's son, David MacKay, married Eliza McCulloch at Trinity College Church, Edinburgh. This church, which is now demolished, was situated at the foot of Chalmer's Close, where David's son Robert and his wife, Ann, later lived (at No. 1). Both David and Eliza lived in Baillie Fyfe's Close at the time of their wedding.


I cannot find a record of Alexander's death that stands up to scrutiny. If the Barbara and Alexander I found in the 1841 Census is correct, then they both must have died before the 1851 Census, as I cannot find them there. However, if it is not correct, then the chances are that they may both have died quite young before 1841, but again, I cannot find an appropriate record. Who knows?