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William McKay was the 7th child of Edward Hector MacKay 1st and Rebecca Forsdyke and was born in Falkenham, Suffolk on the 18th July 1876. His first appeared on the 1881 Census living with his parents and siblings in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex at the age of 5 years. He enlisted as a Boy Soldier in The Royal Scots on the 3rd October 1890 at Great Clacton, Suffolk for a period of 12 years and appears on the 1891 Census for Aldershot Barracks in Hampshire. His entire period of service was spent in Scotland and England, much of his time having been spent on clerical duties and later on Instructor Training Courses for Military Engineering in Chatham, Kent and the School of Musketry in Hythe, Kent. He was promoted several times to Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Colour Sergeant and finally to Sergeant Major. It was during his time in Chatham that the photograph of himself and his older brother, james McKay was taken. As he did not serve overseas, he was not in possession of any Campaign Medals he was however awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
William married twice, firstly to Mary Jane Robin Boyne in Edinburgh on the 12th June 1901 and it was just before that time that he adopted the alternative spelling of his surname of MacKay. There were 3 children from this 1st Marriage, Marian Williamson MacKay, born in North Leith, Edinburgh on 3rd May 1903, Edward Hector MacKay 3rd, also born in North Leith on the 28th May 1906 and Rebecca Forsdyke MacKay, born in Bo'ness, Linlithgow on the 18th May 1910. Following the death of his 1st wife on the 27th August 1915, he remarried to Janet Ballingall Stuart in Edinburgh on the 5th August 1920 and another daughter, Isobel Janet Ballingall MacKay was born in Barry, Angus on 24th May 1928.
Although William had initially signed on for 12 years service, he was permitted to re-engage to complete 21 years service on the 20th August 1901. He was later posted to the Permanent Staff of the 8th Battalion as Officer in Charge of Records and later still to the 10th Battalion. He took his discharge on 24th October 1914. With the outbreak of World War 1, he immediately re-enlisted in The Royal Scots and was seconded to the 467th Agricultural Company based in Hamilton, Scotland as their Officer Commanding with the rank of Captain. The purpose of the Company was to provide labour and support to the Farmers of Hamilton in the production of much needed foodstuffs for the population at home and the soldiers fighting in France. Many of the able-bodied men of the area had been called-up for War service leaving the Farmers short of labour. The men of the 467th Agricultural Company would have been unsuitable for active service due to age or fitness etc. As a consequence of his efforts, the Farmers of Hamilton presented William with a Testimonal dated 27th December 1918 listing all the Farmers that he had assisted. A copy of the Testimonial is displayed below.
After the War, William managed a 'Gentlemen's Club' in Edinburgh for a number of years and later moved to Barry in Angus where he became the Steward of the Panmure Golf Club. I have obtained a copy of a book celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Club which includes a photograph of William taken ca 1948 and a brief article that reads as follows: "In May 1948, Mr. McKay the Steward, announced he was to retire. He had given 21 years of faithful service to the Club. A sum of £225 was collected and presented along with a letter thanking him for his services and wishing him well for the future". I have obtained copies of 2 letters that he wrote during World War 2, one to his Nephew, Donald John Stott, in New Zealand dated 4th December 1940 and the other to his sister, Annie Stott, nee McKay in New Zealand, dated 1st May 1941. Transcripts of the 2 letters are available for down-loading below.
William passed away on the 26th April 1958 at home in Barry, Angus. Isobel Janet Ballingall MacKay, his only child from his second Marriage, passed away on 8th March 2015 in Roxburghe House Nursing Home, Dundee, Angus.