The Original Bane Family

John Bane MacKay had four sons John Bane, William Bane, Alexander Bane and Donald Bane (the original Bane family) whom became the progenitors of the Clan Bain.

They firstly settled in Olrig, Caithness before spreading further out into areas such as Thurso, Wick, Dingwall, Ross-shire and Haddington. With the family of one of his sons, Donald settling in Galloway.

John Bane (MacKay, son of Neil Neilson Mackay, was called “Ban” or “Bahn” (the fair) to distinguish him from other John MacKays of the time. He was born c 1408 and became the progenitor of the families Bane, Bene, Bain and Bayne. After the battle of Drum-nan-Coup, the powerful descendants of the Chief, Angus Du, were understandably resentful over the activities of Angus Moray of Cubin, and of their cousins Morgan and Neil MacKay whom he had duped for the benefit of his bitter enemies the Sutherlands; and relations with their families became very unpleasant. The mother of John felt it particularly badly and had to be taken away from such conditions.  John took her to Olrig in Caithness c 1435, where they received a friendly welcome due to the knowledge that their troubles had been inspired by the Sutherlands. John apparently got a job working on some land; and he was given his nickname “Bane” as a surname. He soon got a better job and married c 1436. He died c 1452 leaving issue.

Source: The Clan Bain with its ancestral and related Scottish Clans by A J Lawrence (published July 1963).


The sons and grandsons of John Bane Mackay are as follows.

John Bane (1437) 

  • John Bane (1463)
  • William Bane (1464)
  • Alexander Bane (1466)
  • Donald Bane (1470)

The families of John’s children settled in Caithness and Haddingtonshire.

William Bane (1438) 

  • John Bane (1463)
  • Duncan Bane (1465)
  • Donald Bane (1466)
  • William Bane (1468)
  • Alexander Bane (1471)

The children of John Bane Mackay’s second son William Bane became the progenitors of several family lines.

Alexander Bane (1440)

  • Donald Bane (1461)
  • Alexander Bane (1462)
  • John Bane (1463)
  • David Bane (1465)

The children of John Bane MacKays third son Alexander Bane eventually moved from Caithness to Ross-shire and include the Bayne’s of Tulloch lines.

Donald Bane (1443) 

John Bane MacKay’s youngest son moved to Galloway and his children were all female and therefore never carried on the Bane name.

Please note that as with most historical records, it is only the males that are detailed and there could be more related families bearing other names from the female offspring in each generation.

The Clan Bain originates in the early 15th century with John Bane MacKay who moved to Caithness and had four sons.

One of his sons, Donald only had daughters, therefore it is doubtful whether any of this line can be tracked due to the female lines not carrying on the name.  It is believed they settled in Galloway.

This means that if you bear the Bane (Bain/Bayne) surname today or in recent times, you are more than likely descendant from one of the other three sons.

Can you guess which of the original Bane brothers you are descendant from?


My goal with this research is to link my line back to one of the original brothers in the 15th century. Although to date I have only managed to get as far back as the mid 18th century leaving a 250 period unknown and ripe to explore, albeit more difficult due to lack of records.

I hope to be ale to link up with other Bain lines and each of our family lines ‘jigsaw pieces’ once fitted together will eventually solve the puzzle.







2 responses to “The Original Bane Family

  1. I am Arthur Kean, 4th great grandson of Alexander Hutcheon 178-1877 and Ann Bain about 1778, Aberdeenshire -? Have tried for some time to find her parents without any luck. Any leads would be appreciated. Thank You Arthur


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