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the Finlay and Janet McDonald Gunn


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Finlay Gunn was the only son of Hugh and Margaret Gunn to remain in Scotland when his six brothers came to America around 1850.

He married "Jessie" or Janet McDonald of Balchraggan on Dec. 23, 1850.  She was recorded in the Old Parish Register as having been born to William McDonald and Marion McKay on June 11, 1830.

Balchraggan is about 5 miles from where Finlay Gunn was born at Kinlochlaggan and about three miles from Bonar Bridge, located on the Kyle of Sutherland.  "Balchraggan" comes from the two Gaelic words "Baile" meaning a village or hamlet; and "Craggan" meaning a rocky place or a small rock.

Family history in their family Bible in the handwriting of Finlay Gunn tells us that he was the fourth generation of the family to live in Creich Parish and Sutherlandhsire.  A page from his family Bible is quoted here:

"This Holy Bible belongs to me Finlay Gunn Blacksmith Balchraggan near Portinlick the Husband of Janat McDonald: to us Born first a son named Hugh after his Father's Father, second born a daughter named Margrat after hir mothers mother, third born a son named George after his Fathers out west brother, fourth born a son named William after his mothers father (5) Born a son named Alexander after his Father second brother (6) a sister and hir Mothers first sister, (7) a son named John after his Fathers third brother, (8) a daughter named for hir Mothers name Jannat (9) a son Born named Joseph, after his Fathers Fourth Brother 10 a daughter named after the 4th of hir mothers sisters"

All seven children of Hugh and Margaret Gunn of Kinlochlaggan who raised families had a "Hugh" named after their grandfather, and all who had daughters had a "Margaret" or a "Marion" named for their grandmother.  Four of them had a "Christina" named after their aunt, and most had an Alexander and a George.

Finlay Gunn was a very religious man and died while reciting the 23rd psalm, according to his granddaughter, Christina Graham McKay.

Finlay was a blacksmith, violin maker, and ironcraftsman par excellence; he even made a gun at one time.

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the Family of Finlay Gunn

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Hugh, the oldest child of the Finlay Gunns was a blacksmith, as was his father.  George, also unmarried was a postman at Invershin.  Alexander was a blacksmith, a gillie (attendant of a hunter or fisherman), and played the violin and bagpipes.  Damon Gunn, during his 1923 visit to Balchraggan reported, "He played a couple of pieces and since then I certainly admire the instrument because I know of nothing other which can stir the blood in you as that unless it is just as a band marches by."

Alexander married late in life and had no children.

In a 1949 letter from Rev. Iain Martin of the church of Creich to Alan Gunn concerning the Finlay Gunn family he writes:

"Alexander Gunn died in the old home at Balchraggan on 28th April 1944 aged 85 years.  He was buried in the small cemetery at Invershin with his bagpipes lying on the top of his coffin -- he was a great violinist and piper.  His sister died in Invershin before him.  His wife lived on for a time in the house; but she had to remove and went to live on the other side of the Kyle.  The house and croft fell to Mrs. Graham and I understand that she has sold it and that it is occupied by the local policeman who is retiring.  So Balchraggan has passed from the Gunn family which is very sad."

William, the third son of Finlay Gunn, was a blacksmith and lived across the Kyle of sutherland from Balchraggan at Culrain, Ross-shire.  The story is that he used to boat across the Kyle to court his future wife who at that time was living there.

The Kyleside cottage in culrain which was the William Gunn family home and smithy later became the home of the Alexander Polson.  Mrs. Finlay Gunn lived the last seven years of her life in that home with the william Gunns and died there in 1907.  Jesse Ross was born in that house in 1885.

As of 1979, Euphemia Polson was living at the Kyleside cottage, which still had the anvil that had been used by Finlay Gunn and later by her father.  When Finlay Gunn purchased the anvil he ordered it from Glasgow; it arrived at Invergordon by steamer and was brought home from there by horse and cart -- when the road consisted of only a cart track.

Mrs. Polson spent the four winter months at the homes of her two sons.  The oldest, William, and his wife Norma were running a small hotel in MacDuff, which is a small fishing village of about 4000 inhabitants.  William and Norma had two children -- Wendy and Gregor.

Euphemia's second son, Alexander Gunn Polson, or "Alastair" (Gaelic for Alexander) was, as of 1979, Sergeant in charge of the Beauly Police Station.

Her daughter, Mary Bremner, was residing at Edderton in Ross-shire with her husband, a joiner (skilled workman who makes woodwork and furniture) by trade, and their four daughters.

The fifth son of Finlay Gunn was John, a blacksmith, who lived at home with his other bachelor brothers.  He died in 1916 at the age of 53, much younger than any other members of the family.

The superiority of the Gunn brothers of Balchraggan as iron craftsmen is evidenced at the Countess of Sutherland's castle at Culrain -- in more recent years a Youth Hostel.

Finlay Gunn had four daughters.   Margaret, the oldest, married twice.  She first was a Mrs. Ross and later a Mrs. Munn of Inverness.  She raised two spinster daughters, Jessie and Belle, who lived in Inverness except for the years when Jessie was housekeeper for her uncles.

The second daughter of Finlay Gunn, Christina, married Duncan McGillvray who was a baker.  They had one stillborn daughter, also a foster daughter who lived in the United States (Oregon) after her marriage.  Mrs. McGillvray made a trip to visit her shortly before her death.

Christy McKay wrote concerning her "Aunt Christina":  "She was a very pretty and distinctive person and thrifty -- almost to a fault!  Because of her thrift she and her husband bought a vakery business, quite large, employed the bakers and she kept an eye on the shop.   They were very successful and in spite of little education she kept the business for quite a number of years after her husband's death.  She had great business acumen.  Joseph was likewise.  He had a flourishing bakery business in Lairg."

Joseph's only child, Jesse Gunn Hepburn, was married to a banker in Bonar Bridge and Tain.  Jesse's maternal grandmother had also been a Gunn, so she is a Gunn on both sides of her family.

The third daughter of Finlay Gunn, Janet or "Jessie", married Donald Campbell, head lock-keeper at the Caledonian Canal, and raised a family of eight children in Inverness. 

The youngest child of Finlay Gunn was Mrs. Euphemia Gunn Graham -- and the last to pass away -- on October 24, 1954.   Mrs. Graham had three daughters.  The eldest, Mrs. Elizabeth or "Betty" Kennedy, passed away in 1978.  At that time her son, Graham, was a store manager, and her daughter, Helen, was living in England where she was doing nursing.

In 1978 the two remaining daughters of Euphemia Graham -- Mrs. Christina "Christy" MacKay, and "Jean" Smith --  were living in Dingwall.  "Christy" MacKay's daughter, Elizabeth Ann (Mrs. Scott Lauder) was living at nearby Canon Bridge with her two small children, Rachel and Ruth.  In 1979 a new baby sister, Jane Kristina, was added to the household.

Chris's son, the Rev. Ronald MacKay, was the minister of the Free Church in Golspie.

Since none of the six sons of Finlay Gunn had sons, our branch of the Clan Gunn has no descendants by the name Gunn in the British Isles.

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