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Professions, Occupations and Crafts

Professions, Occupations and Crafts in the descendents of the Mackay-MacPherson-Murray-Matheson Unions.

Such is the immense variety of occupations open to recent generations, and still increasing rapidly, that I find it impossible to put our families into categories.

Generation A was a crofting one where many skills were required in addition to looking after cattle and sheep and tilling the ground. John Murray II and Andrew Mackay could build a croft for their families and work as joiners, quarrymen and roadmen. While none would be an artist at his job, each, aided by a good wife, succeeded in raising a large family without modern privileges such as piped water, electricity and welfare services.

Of the four men in this generation, three tried to break loose from their traditional settlements; only one succeeded, namely William Murray who went to Nova Scotia. Andrew Mackay came back after the wreck, and Great John II wrote off Glasgow after a period there. They would appear to be a very industrious lot. They were church-goers, and I expect they read very little other than the Bible.

Generation B. The fates of the 19 in this generation vary widely. The out-standing member of it was Donald Murray (1805-1972) a banker who became Provost of Rutherglen, and was responsible doubtless for the appearance of six bankers, at least, in the next two generations. His entry into "The Establishment" is shown in that he is represented in each of the next three generations by a Colonel in the Territorial Army. This generation also shows itself strongly in four crofting or farming marriages, each very productive of descendents widely spread over the world, especially in New Zealand. But there is sadness in that we know nothing about the fates of seven members, whom I call "The Lost Mackays".

Generation C was to be found mostly abroad, although one of its best representatives was still at home in Sutherland, namely Margaret Mackay, "the lame one", a kindly spinster who lived to a great age at Bonar Bridge, and who is the subject of a separate note. This generation is now giving its off-spring a better education than it had received.

Generation D is marked by the entry into the professions of law, medicine, local government, politics and engineering.

Generations E and F show many teachers in the family groups at home and overseas, and many students at Universities. Theology shows itself, especially in America, and some folk in the family are reading very critically commentaries on religion. The family has in great part ceased to be church-going. The two World Wars disturbed the family greatly. My tables show 26 in the armed forces, and 10 losing their lives... but these figures are incomplete. We are essentially not a military family. Examples of son following father in a craft are now few, apart from the Robertsons of New Jersey. Here, my Aunt Katherine Mackay married a stone mason, James Robertson, produced four sons who all became iron moulders of great skill, and three grandsons who worked in foundries.

I have found no instance of any member founding a business and developing it to an extent that it was worth handing over to his son, except perhaps in farming. Many have good posts in commerce, but as managers or deputies. On the negative side, alas, we have no artists, sculptors, poets, writers, musicians or plumbers. There might be a good musician coming out of Highgate in London, in Generation F... but we will have to wait a bit! [Alas not: another doctor! RHM].

Travel? Generation E abroad seems to stay put, more or less. But the U.K. lot, D and E, seem to circle the globe for work, study, research and pleasure. This applies to the ladies as well.

Great John and Ann, William and Janet, would be bewildered were they to see us now!

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