The Clan Bain has no connection with MacBain or MacBean. In fact the clan is closely associated with Clan MacKay in the far North West of Scotland.
Around 1427 an internal feud broke out within clan MacKay which split the the clan into two factions. On one side was the ageing chef of the clan Angus Du Mackay and his second son while on the other were his cousins Morgan Neilson and Niel Neilson MacKay. This second faction were backed by the men of Clan Sutherland, a huge insult to the old chief as the Sutherlands were long time enemies of the Clan.
The two sides finally clashed at a battle known as Drumnacoub near the Kyle of Tongue. The battle was a disaster for the leadership of MacKay since not only was the Angus the chief killed but Morgan and Niel were also slain. Indeed the battle was so intense that very few of either side were left alive from something in the region of 3,000 men. Nevertheless Angus’ side managed to win the day and chiefship remained with his line.
After the battle Niel Deilson McKay’s son John Bain MacKay dropped his surname to become John Bain and began the line of Bain. He, his family and supporters all moved from Sutherland over to Caithness where John’s mother had been taken for her own safety.
John married in 1436 and had four sons; The eldest, John founded the Bains of Caithness and Haddingtonshire, the second son, William the Bains of Clyth. Third son Alexander was founder of the Bains of Tulloch and Dingwall and the fourth son Donald moved down to Galloway.
There are several spellings of the name, originally it was Bane but later changed to Bain while the Tulloch branch also used the spelling Bayne. All however spring from the same progenitor.
Bain of Tulloch recorded Arms in the Register of All Arms and Bearings in the Court of the Lord Lyon circ. 1673. The Bayne’s seat was at Tulloch Castle near Dingwall which they held for over 200 years until Kenneth Bayne, sold the castle and estate to his cousin Henry Davidson in 1762.
The surname is still common in Caithness and further north into Orkney and Shetland.