Description Alister Mac Alister

Alister Mac Alister.

The old Gaelic word aed means fire.  It's modern form is aodh ; in this form, however, it is used only as a man's name.  The Gaulish name Aedtian means a man of fire ; the Highland name MacAoidh means a son of fire.  For those who are ignorant of Gaelic I may state that Aoidh is simply the genitive case of Aodh.  I presume everyone knows that "mac" is pure Gaelic, and means son.  They MacKays who rejoice in their Keltic origin and feel proud of their clan, pronounce their name so as to rhyme with high.  The MacKays who try to make Englishmen of themselves pronounce their name so as to rhyme with gay.  There are thus to kinds of MacKays, the High MacKays and the Gay MacKays.  The "K" in MacKay is merely the "C" repeated so as to fill up a felt gap.  The name is really Mac-Aoidh, or Mac-Ay.  In some old documents we find Aodh given in English simply as I.  There was one I Mac-Ay ; but there never was an A Mac-A. 

Alexander MacKay —Alasdair Mac Iain Mhie Ruairidh — was born in some part of the Highlands about they year 1670.  He had a son who was also named Alexander.  This Alexander —Alasdair Mac Alasdair — was born about 1700, and lived at Beauly in the parish of Kilmorack.  He had six children, Alexander, Donlad, Rory, Hugh, a daughter, whose name I do not know, and Margaret.

1.  Alexander, eldest son of Alister Mac Alister, was born in 1728.  He joined the 78th regiment or Fraser's Highlanders in 1757, and came to Halifax as a soldier in June of that year.  He fought at Louisburg in July 1758, at Montmorency and the Heights of Abraham in September, 1759, and at Quebec in April, 1760.  He returned to Scotland in 1763 and, as the regiment was then disbanded, received his discharge. He settled at Beauly, and shortly afterwards married Nellie Calder.  He had seven children, John, Alexander, Donald, Hugh, Catherine and Mary.  He came to Pictou in 1784, and settled near Fish Pools.  He died in 1821, aged 93 years.  He was one of the strongest men in Fraser's Highlanders.  John, his eldest son, lived below New Glasgow.  Alexander, his second son, was born in 1769.  He was a man of great strength and activity.  He married Ann, daughter of Hugh Fraser, and had by her Hugh, Ann, Roderick, Alexander, John, Sophia, Margaret, Donald, Helen, James Macgregor and Catherine.  He left Fish Pools and settled on the East River of St. Mary's in July, 1815.  He died in September, 1866.  He was succeeded on his farm by his son Roderick, who was succeeded by his son James, the present occupant.  James MacGregor, the youngest of Alexander MacKay's sons, studied for the ministry, and is still in the flesh, with all the signs of strength and vitality that characterized his father and grandfather.  Gu ma Fada beo e is ceo de thigh. 

Donald, third son of Alexander MacKay, the soldier, lived at Fox Brook, where his son Rory died in 1902, at the age of 94 years.  Hugh, the fourth son, lived at Fish Pools, and was known as the Big Deacon.  He was one of the mighty men so admirably described by the late Mr. Robert Grant in his East River Sketches –a well-written and interesting work.  Catherine, eldest daughter of Alexander MacKay, was married to Alexander Buie Fraser.  Mary, his youngest daughter, was married to Andrew Fraser.

2.  Donald, second son of Alister Mac Liaster, came to Nova Scotia and settled at the Albion Mines.  He married Christy Fraser, by whom he had six sons : Donald, a catechist in Cape Breton ; Roderick, and elder in Dr. Roy's congregation ; Hugh, who lived at the Mines ; Alexander, who lived in Halifax ; Joseph, who lived at the Mines ; and William, who sold his farm at the Mines and went to live at Millstream on a farm with the purest air on the East River, especially in February. 

3.  Rory, or Roderick, third son of Alister Mac Alister, came to Pictou on the ship Hector in 1773.  He settled at the Mines, or rather in the woods near the place in which the people of Stellarton now live in the enjoyment of all the comforts they should derive, that is, if they believe in the prayer of Agur.  His wife's name I do not know.  He had at least four children : Ann, James, John and Robert.  James was born at Mines and died there.   John was a blacksmith in Pictou town.  Robert was for a long time customs of Pictou County.  Ann was born in Scotland, and was married to the Rev. James MacGregor, D. D., in 1796.

4.  Hugh, fourth son of Alister Mac Alister, came to Pictou.  He died without issue.

5.  I was told that the elder daughter of Alister Mac Alister was married to a Forbes.

5.  Margaret, youngest daughter of Alister Mac Alister, was married to John Robertson, in Farley, Kilmorack.

John Robertson came to Pictou in 1784, and settled in the woods in the place which is now known as Churchville, though is should have been known as Farley.  He had six children: James, Catherine, Nancy, Margaret, Mary and William.  James and William lived at Churchville.  Catherine was married to John Roy Fraser, at Springville, Nancy to James Fraser, Culloden, Margaret to John MacKenzie, and Mary to Robert Grant, Millstream.

Roy, or more correctly Rudrie or Rodrie, is a Keltic name, and a very fine name.  It is derived from ruadh, reddish, and righ, a king, and means a reddish haired king.  It is generally supposed that Roderick, which is an English name, is more aristocratic than Rory or even Rudrie.  That my, indeed be the case.  As I was brought up in the woods, and fed on oat-meal and the Shorter Catechism, I am not a judge of aristocratic matters.  Possibly, English itself is more aristocratic than Gaelic.  At any rate it makes no use of cases and constructs the sentence very much like Chinese.  Gaelic uses cases like Greek and Latin, and this fact may be urged against. it.  That the Chinese are a highly aristocratic people —that they have aristocratic ceremonies never heard of by Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar —no one will deny.

The word ruadh is generally translated into English as red.  But it does not mean red ; it means simply reddish or ruddy.  Instead then of converting Iain Ruadh Friseal into Red John Fraser I have Anglicized the word Ruadh and called him John Roy Fraser. 

A. M. S. 

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