John ‘Ban’ MacKay – The First Bain

Anyone that knows me knows I spend far too much time at my computer whether it be for work or play so putting it to good use scouring the internet for info on the Bain family, I came across an interesting article on the Clan MacKay Association of Canada website purporting to the origins of the Bain family to the Clan MacKay with the first Bain being John ‘Ban’ MacKay.

The information from the article seems to have been based on the Book of MacKay (of which I have not been able to trace a copy) however upon managing to read a copy of A J Lawrence’s book ‘The Clan Bain’ the text from the book and the article are almost identical, whether due to cross-referencing in previous research or whether it is a genuine collaboration, is unknown.  However there are legal deeds and documents which seem to back the story up and therefore based on these sources I shall begin to tell the story of how the Clan Bain came to be.

According the The Book of MacKay and the book The Clan Bain, the first Bain was in fact a MacKay whom after a family feud over land and the relating bad feeling had moved his family from the Clan MacKay lands at Strathnaver in Sutherland to Olrig in Caithness where he dropped the Mackay name and used his nickname of Ban (meaning fair) as his surname instead.

He had four sons; John Bane, William Bane, Alexander Bane, and Donald Bane and they and their descendants became the Bain Clan.

John Bain Mackay, son of Neil Neilson Mackay, was born 1408 in Strathnaver, Scotland, and became the progenitor of the families Bane, Bene, Bain and Bayne by dropping his real surname, Mackay, and using Bain as a surname. After the battle of Drum-Nan-Coup, Angus Dubh Mackays were resentful over the activities of Angus Moray of Cubin and their cousins, Morgan and Neil Mackay, whom he had duped for the benefit of the bitter enemies, the Sutherlands. The mother of John Bain Mackay had to be taken away from such unpleasant conditions, so her son John took her to Olrig, in Caithness-shire in 1435, where they received a friendly welcome due to the knowledge that their troubles had been inspired by the Sutherland Clan. John married in 1436 and died in 1452, leaving issue – four sons:

JOHN BAIN: born 1437, progenitor of the Bain families in Caithness and Haddingtonshire. WILLIAM BAIN: born 1438, progenitor of the Bain families of Clyth. ALEXANDER BAIN: born 1440, progenitor of the Baynes of Tulloch and Dingwall. DONALD BAIN: born 1443, settled in Galloway.

Source: Clan Mackay Association of Canada

John ‘Ban’ MacKay was a son of Neil Neilson Mackay.

Neil Neilson Mackay was one of three brothers, the others being Morgan Neilson MacKay and Thomas Neilson Mackay.  The brothers were cousins of Angus Dubh Mackay, the chief of the Clan MacKay.

The story of the family feud unfolds in the tale of the Battle of Drumnacoub which I will follow-up on in another post.

Following the Battle of Drumnacoub c 1433, John ‘Ban’ MacKay dropped the MacKay surname and moved with his mother from Sutherland to Olrig in Caithness. He settled and had four sons here who over time spread further and became the founders of the Bain families from Caithness & Haddingtonshire, Clyth, Tulloch & Dingwall and Galloway.

Although various spellings of the name occur; Bane, Bain, Baine Bayne, Bayn it has been proven that these are in fact the same family and the Bayne’s of Tulloch are also part of the Clan Bain.

Please note the Clan Bain are not part of the Clan MacBean and to date I have not been able to find any evidence to back up Clan Gunn’s claim of association.

The Mackay origin seems to be the most plausible story and certainly fits with geography and names over the generations in our own Bain line and of other lines I have come across.

If this tale rings true, it means that all the Bain’s are in fact the same family!!

How good would it be to find out how many of us there actually is?

I would love to know that but the thing that drives me the most about this research is trying to link my Bain line to one of the original four Bane brothers…..I have an idea which one it could be but it would be amazing if I could actually document the trail right back and that is what I guess drives me to keep on searching.




4 responses to “John ‘Ban’ MacKay – The First Bain

  1. Pingback: Bain Clan Crest & Tartan | Our Scottish Clan·

  2. Pingback: Tulloch Castle | Our Scottish Clan·

  3. Pingback: Original Bain Brothers | Our Scottish Clan·

  4. Hello! My name is Hillary Bayne!
    I am stuck on some genealogy aspects of either the Tulloch Side or the Clan Macbean/Macbain/Mcbain side. Please email me so we might be able to figure some of this history out together!


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