Clan Hannay History
Hannay may have originally been spelt ‘Ahannay’, possibly deriving from the Gaelic ‘O’Hannaidh’, or ‘Ap Shenaeigh’. The family can be traced back to Galloway in South-West Scotland. The name of ‘Gilbert de Hannethe’ appears on the Ragman Roll in 1296. However unlike a large number of Scottish nobles who later sided with Robert the Bruce, Gilbert supported John Balliol who was more local to them through his descent from the Celtic Princes of Galloway.
From their lands of Sorbie, reportedly acquired by the same Gilbert the family began to spread and a tower built at Sorbie in 1550 commanded their ever increasing dominion.
Patrick Hannay had a distinguished military career and was patroned by Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, daughter of James VI and sister of Charles I. After the death of Queen Anne, wife of James VI in 1619 Patrick composed two eulogies and in return had many published on his own death, one of which said: ‘Go on in virtue, aftertimes will tell, none but a Hannay could have done so well’.
Possibly the best known Hannay was James Hannay, the Dean of St Giles’ in Edinburgh who had the claim to fame of being the target of Jenny Geddes’ stool. In an infamous incident in 1637 the Dean had began to read the new liturgy when with a cry of ‘Thou false thief, dost thou say Mass at my lug? was heard and a stool came flying from the congregation, thrown by an incensed Jenny Geddes. The incident began a full scale riot which took the town guard to control.
Sir Robert Hannay of Mochrum was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia In 1630, and from the Sorbie roots the Hannays of Grennan, Knock, Garrie and Kingsmuir also evolved. The fortunes of the original Hannays of Sorbie were seriously dented in the seventeenth century when a long running feud with the Murrays of Broughton resulted in the Hannays being outlawed. The famous tower at Sorbie fell into disrepair and was lost along with the neighboring lands around 1640. Many Hannays moved to Ireland, in particular Ulster and the name can still be found there and in many surrounding Counties.
One branch of the family begun by a younger son of the Sorbie Hannays, Alexander Hannay took lands at Kirkdale by Kirkcudbright. The line established by his son John Hannay of Kirkdale is now recognised as the chiefly one.
Sir Samuel Hannay, who had served within the Hapsburg Empire. He returned to Scotland having amassed a considerable wealth in London and built mansion house at Kirkdale before he died in 1790, when the estate passed to his sister Mary, then further to her nephew, William Rainsford Hannay, on her death in 1850. From this direct line comes the present chief Hannay of Kirkdale and of that Ilk. The clan has not forgotten it’s roots as in 1965 the old tower was handed over to a clan trust for its preservation.
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