The MacKenzie Brothers
Attribution: unknown or not recorded
The MacKenzie Brothers
Amongst the close friends of Hugh Millar were the MacKenzie family of ‘Calrossie’ at no.4 Barkly Street, Cromarty. Descendants of the family still own the ‘Hugh Miller chair’, a very elegant ‘country sheraton’ carver which has had a place of honour at ‘Calrossie’ for over 100 years. Hugh sat on this chair whenever he visited Donald Alexander Mackenzie, grandson of Donald MacKenzie who built the family home. Hugh Millar was most likely friends of their grandfather as they would have been of similar ages but it is obvious from what Donald Alexander and his brother William achieved, that Hugh would have made a great impression on both their lives.
Donald Alexander and his older brother William Mackay MacKenzie became well known as prolific writers on history, religion, mythology and anthropology. They were born in 1873 and 1871 respectively and were the grandsons of Donald Mackenzie and sons of Alexander Holm MacKenzie and Isabella MacKay. Their father being the local Registrar, Deputy Sheriff Clerk and member of the Cromarty School board, in his day.
Donald A. began working as a journalist in Glasgow on the editorial staff of the Evening News and in 1903, he moved to Dingwall as owner and editor of The North Star before moving again in 1910, to join the staff of the People’s Journal in Dundee. BY 1916, he was the chief representative of the Bulletin based in Edinburgh. As well as writing books, articles and poems, he would also give lectures in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester. He also broadcast a series of talks on Celtic mythology. As a well-known member of the Scottish Arts Club, Donald also had many friends amongst the leading authorities in Scotland and across the world, on the subjects of which he had a special knowledge of.
Donald’s brother, William Mackay Mackenzie graduated Master of Arts from Edinburgh University and taught at Glasgow Academy from 1896 before becoming secretary to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments, in 1913. He remained at the Royal Commission until he retired in 1935 and during that time. he was also Rhind lecturer in Archaeology at Edinburgh University for a year in 1925. During the Second World War acted as head of the department of Ancient Scottish History and held an appointment on the staff of the War Trade Intelligence Department.
In 1942 he was appointed to be a member of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions in Scotland, where he had formerly been Secretary. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (Federal Security Agency) and was made an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1949 at Edinburgh.
As a well-known historian, he wrote extensively on folk-lore and archaeology and was the editor of Dunbar’s poems. Dunbar being a Scottish ‘makar’, or court poet active in the late fifteenth century and the early sixteenth century.
He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) and was made an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1949 at Edinburgh University. William’s publications include editions of the poems of Dunbar and Barbour’s Bruce, and books on Hugh Miller, Flodden, Bannockburn and Arran.
Donald Alexander Mackenzie died in 1936 with William Mackay Mackenzie dying in 1952. Both are buried at Cromarty.
The Scotsman, 1935, 1936, 1949
Aberdeen Press & Journal 1935