Hon. Edward Hay MacKenzie

The difference in the way Edward appears in the historical record compared with his namesake John MacKenzie the banker is an interesting reflection on attitudes to social status and expectations in the nineteenth century Highlands. Edward was a great landowner, not titled himself, but of aristocratic lineage; yet he has been remembered as someone who lacked the qualities of nobility required for the task. John, on the other hand, was perceived as bringing the true qualities of Scottish aristocracy to illuminate the mundane world of trade. The real difference was probably in financial skills rather than any deeper moral quality: John, who built up his own fortune, knew exactly what his income was and what he could afford; while Edward, suddenly elevated to the position of a great landowner, rushed to acquire a townhouse, country mansion, carriage, horses, footmen -- and a debt which the estate could not pay. Possibly, too, while John was seen as generous, Edward was beset by prospective pensioners who would drain his resources while regarding it as only what they were due.

- 4 December 1814
Newhall, Black Isle. The present Newhall house (below) was built around 1807.
Lieut Col William Hay of Newhall (d.1775), second son of John Hay 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale.
Margaret Hay, daughter of John Hay of Limplum
From 1806 he lived at 104 Princes Street (no.61 until 1811, when the street was renumbered)
Cromartie, to which he succeeded (through his wife) in 1801, comprising lands in Easter and Wester Ross. Coigach, part of the estate, is used as an example by Richards of an estate which resisted clearance in the 1850s. At this time it was heavily populated and very poor, with a population probably 50 per cent greater in 1840 than in 1800. The local fishing industry had high hopes in the 1810s but subsequently declined, and the famines of 1837 and 1846 had caused additional strain. Edward's son John Hay MacKenzie was a 'benevolent but debt-ridden commoner' who died in 1849 when 'the finances of his estate were in a condition not far removed from chaos.' The only circumstance which averted the immediate sale of the estate was that four days before his death his daughter and heir married the eldest son of the Duke of Sutherland, one of the richest men in Britain, but as the rents were insufficient to cover the expenses (annuities to members of the Hay-MacKenzie family etc), rationalisation of land-use was attempted in 1852, but was thwarted by the organised resistance of the crofters, and the violence of public opinion. (4) It seems probable that Edward, having become one of the great Scottish landowners in 1801, over-estimated the actual income of the estate: around 1805 he re-built Newhall House and took one of the best townhouses in Edinburgh, and his tax assessment in 1811 demonstrates a lavish lifestyle.
Political views
He was a steward at the celebration of William Pitt's birthday in May 1814, with Walter Scott, William Forbes and others, suggesting Tory allegiance.
Religious views
Although he was Episcopalian he was eager to assert his patronage of established religion in the Cromarty estates he had inherited, causing considerable collateral inconvenience as appears from this report of a complaint by members of the Gaelic chapel in Edinburgh about the delay in giving them a minister, shortly after Edward's death:
'It appeared ... that the original founder of the Old chapel had left to the Society for Christian Knowledge the right of nominating a proper person to be pastor of that chapel, provided he was approved of by the original subscribers, and a majority of the seat-holders. After Mr Macdonald had left the chapel, the Rev Mr John Kennedy had been proposed, but as that gentleman had a view to a parish in the north, the right of the patronage of which was disputed between the Crown and Mr Hay Mackenzie of Cromarty, nothing was done in the settlement till the House of Lords had decided the question, in favour of Mr Mackenzie; Mr Kennedy having been presented to the parish of Killearnan, declined accepting the Chapel. (5)
Assessed taxes 1811
His house had 26 windows and a rental value of £90. In 1812 he was assessed for additional items: 4 male house servants, 1 male servant classed as 'under or occasional servant retained for husbandry or trade', a 4-wheeled carriage, 3 horses 'for own use', 3 'horses/mules', 2 dogs, and armorial bearings.
Chapel connection
1814 (funeral)
Married on
Hon. Maria Murray-Mackenzie, eldest daughter and co-heir of George, sixth Lord Elibank. She was co-heiress of the Cromarty estates, on assuming which Edward took the surname and arms of MacKenzie. Maria was the daughter of a previous MacKenzie's sister.
John Hay-Mackenzie (of Newhall and Cromarty m. 1828 Anne daughter of Sir James Gobson Craig), Isabella (m. John Buckle), Dorothea (m. Sir David-Hunter Blair), Georgiana (m. the Earl of Glasgow)

Newhall House (6)


  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
  3. Assessed taxes for the Burgh of Edinburgh year ending at Whitsunday 1811, National Archives of Scotland E327/51, and year ending 1812 E327/54
  4. Eric Richards, A History of the Highland Clearances (Croom Helm, London, 1982) p.444
  5. Caledonian Mercury, 23 February 1815
  6. Sylvia Duckworth, 'Newhall House' (Wikimedia Commons accessed 16 August 2011)

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