Born in Inverness on 5 August
1820, the Reverend James Aberigh-Mackay was a minister in the Scottish Episcopal
Church and became chief of the Aberach Mackays.
He was the son of George Mackay, a merchant and Presbyterian Church leader. He
graduated from King's College, Aberdeen in 1840 and then spent some years in the
United States where he attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He was
ordained in 1845. He returned to Inverness in 1849 and was appointed Curate at
St John's Chapel. Following the death of Bishop Low in 1850, it was widely
anticipated that he would become Bishop but this post was given to Robert Eden.
In 1857 he went to India and was involved in the Indian Mutiny. He saw active
service with his regiment, the 9th Lancers, and officiated at Penang, Meerut,
Simla and Calcutta. After 18 years' service he returned to Britain and continued
to officiate at home and abroad. His elder son, James L Aberigh-Mackay became
Lieutenant Colonel of the 8th Bengal Cavalry and was recognised as one of the
most brilliant cavalry officers in the British service.
He died in Bournemouth on 14 June 1908.
The photograph is from 'Sutherland and the Reay Country' edited by Rev Adam Gunn
& John Mackay, 1897
From an email from Mike Gibby....
Rev. James Aberigh Mackay was
born and grew up in Inverness, he attended firstly, Aberdeen University, and
then Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, where he met and marr
James Livingston Aberigh-Mackay
Lillias Grant Aberigh-Mackay 1847-1925
George Robert Aberigh-Mackay 1848-1881
Charles Frederick Everest Aberigh-Mackay 1850
As was common at that time, the
children were left behind in Scotland when Rev. & Mrs Mackay left for
Within months of their arrival in
India, the Mutiny broke out. The Mackays survived this, at the siege of Lucknow
(Rev. Mackay writing a book of his experiences about it) and he was then posted
to Penang. About 18 months after their arrival at Penang, Lucretia returned to
Scotland due to chronic ill health.
In one sense, Lucretia's
departure marked the start of a new life for the Reverend, as from this time
onwards, he lived for extended periods with a series of parishioners’ families,
and through each of these hosts; he was introduced to their different
circles of friends. The Rev. Mackay became quite adventurous, traveling
regularly from Penang Island, across to Province Wellesley, which was then
populated by a small number of European planters, and gave church services
there. From his diary entries one senses he enjoyed a sense of freedom in this
He was quite a social reformer,
for example by securing the early release of some
sailors convicted of being accessories to manslaughter - by persuading Sir
Benson Maxwell, their sentencing judge, to support their pardon! Other examples
of his humanitarian causes are referred to in his diary.
The Reverend also enjoyed a
warm disputation; with some independent Anglican missionaries, who were
very much Puritans - who disapproved, for example of his reading Punch
magazine, which they felt should not be read by any Christian. During
his time in Penang it appears he also wrote 2 novels (‘Wimberley Castle’, and
‘Morley Grange’) though it is not clear if they were ever published.
Perhaps the Rev. Mackay’s most
impressive achievement was maintaining excellent relations with everyone at
Penang, despite the society being deeply divided – and his departure from
Penang, caused quite an eruption of appreciative articles in the ‘Penang Argus’
He wrote a diary started in
January 1860 in Penang and it's available from the Bodleian Library, Oxford with
the final entry in 1869.
Photo of Mackay's church in Penang - St. George's
Church. Its from the Royal Collection at Windsor castle,
specifically the pic is 'From an album presented to Prince Alfred, Duke of
Edinburgh by the Bishop of Penang in remembrance of his 1869 visit'.
Mike Gibby, November 2021
Molochology Not Theology: Penang Sermons
By James Alberigh Mackay (1870) (pdf)
The basic story behind this 2nd
book is, that when he was about to leave Penang, his parishioners made a
subscription (collection) for him - he suggested they use it to make a Church
library, but instead they preferred the idea of publishing a collection of his
From London to Lucknow
With memoranda of Mutinies, Marches, Flights, Fights, and Conversations to which
is added an Opium Smuggler's explanation of the Peiho Massacre by A chaplain in
H.M. Indian Service in two volumes.
Volume 1 |