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Eric Mackay (7th Lord Reay)

Eric Mackay [1773–1847] was the son of George Mackay of Skibo, who died bankrupt in 1782. ‘At his death everything went to the hammer, and so completely stripped was his family that his children were conveyed from the castle of Skibo in cruppers on the backs of ponies.’ [Donald Sage, Memorabilia Domestica, 35]

Eric began work as a clerk in the London counting house of his relation James Baillie of Dochfour [1737–93], and, on James’ death, was taken on, first as a clerk and then as a partner, by another relation, George Baillie [1755-1810]. [Appendix to George Baillie's narrative of the mercantile transactions of the concerns of George Baillie and Co's houses, from the year 1793 to 1805 inclusive]

In 1797 Eric succeeded his cousin, the ‘idiot’ Hugh Mackay, to become 7th Lord Reay, inheriting the family estates in the north of Sutherland. In 1829 Mackay sold the Reay lands to the Marquis of Stafford, later Duke of Sutherland, from who he had borrowed £100,000 in 1825. Thus ended centuries of Mackay ownership[Ian Grimble, The World of Rob Donn, Edinburgh 1979].

Mackay then invested in Guyana, buying plantation Goldstone Hall from William Fraser [National Archives of Scotland: CS96/1947] and, in 1835 received compensation of £17,205 for emancipation of 331 enslaved people [Legacies of British Slave Ownership, 8383]. A number of letters written between Mackay and his attorney, James Grimond, were published in the Guyana Historical Journal (1990), online here.

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