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Macaulay Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: DULCE PERICULUM (danger is sweet)

Let me share the historical background of your family, the MacAulays, based on the accounts passed down through generations.

Your family’s origin can be traced to different provenances. One account attributes your lineage to one of the branches of the Siol Alpen, from which the Macgregors also descend. Another suggests that you stem from Amhlaidh, a younger son of the Earl of Lennox. Records from the Ragman Roll of 1296 mention Maurice de Arncaple as the ancestor of the Lairds of Ardincaple, which would become the principal MacAulay seat.

In 1587, Sir Aulay MacAulay of Ardincaple was recognized as a principal vassal of the Earls of Lennox. Your family became closely connected with the Macgregors, and a bond of manrent was established in 1591 between Macgregor of Glen Strae and the Laird of Ardincaple. This bond acknowledged the superiority of Macgregor, and Ardincaple agreed to pay tribute in cattle. Despite this connection, the MacAulays sought to distance themselves from the Macgregors when the latter were declared outlaws in 1610. The protection of the Earls of Lennox seems to have spared your family from the consequences that befell the Macgregors.

Over time, the fortunes of your family declined, and the twelfth and last chief of the MacAulays eventually sold off the estates to the Campbells around 1767. The MacAulays of Lewis, on the other hand, claimed Norse descent, tracing their lineage back to Olav the Black, the last King of Man. They were followers of the MacLeods of Lewis and were not directly connected with the mainland MacAulays. However, they supported the Royalist Cause under the Marquis of Montrose and fought at the Battle of Aldern in 1645.

Your family produced notable figures, including Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838), an activist abolitionist of the slave trade, and his son, Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), a Member of Parliament for Edinburgh and an Essayist. Thomas was later made Lord Macaulay of Rothley in 1857. Another prominent member was James Macaulay (1817-1902), who founded The Boy’s Own Paper and The Girl’s Own Paper. Robertson M. Macaulay (1833-1915) emigrated to Canada in 1854 and built up the business of Sun Life Assurance in Montreal.

The Clan MacAulay Association now exists to promote the heritage and shared kinship of the surname, electing a chief every five years through democratic means, breaking away from traditional hereditary succession.

And so, the rich tapestry of your family’s history unfolds, weaving together the tales of valor, resilience, and accomplishments across the ages. From the ancient roots lost in Celtic antiquity to the close associations with Clan Campbell and Macgregor, your ancestors played significant roles in the shaping of Scotland’s history.

Throughout the years, your family stood firm through both triumphant and challenging times, from supporting Robert the Bruce to navigating the complexities of the Scottish feuds. The resilience displayed by the MacAulays in the face of adversity is a testament to the strength of character that runs through your lineage.

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Family Crest Motto: DULCE PERICULUM (danger is sweet)

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