Captain James Hanna(y), Explorer and Trader of the Canadian Northwestern Coast, d. 1787

Kilkeel Gathering – Mourne Observer

The Mourne Observer followed up on their previous month’s preview article with this report on the Hanna(y) trip to Kilkeel!

Visitors from around the world enjoy exploring the past during trip to Kilkeel

By Julie Mclaughlin (julie @

KILKEEL warmly welcomed a group of international visitors last week. Hosted by the Clan Hannay Society, there were two days of special events that anyone with the surnames Hannay, Hannah, Hanna or Hanney was welcome to attend. Local people had the chance to catch up with distant relatives and make new friends at the gathering, last Monday and Tuesday (29 and 30 May)…

See the full article (PDF).

Clan Hannay genealogist Dr Keith Hanna (centre) with clan member and tour guide Maynard Hanna and Heritage project officer Laura Johnston

Hanna Gathering in the News

The Mourne Observer printed the following article on p. 23 of the Wednesday, 3 May, 2023 issue.

Kilkeel will play host to international gathering of the Hannas

By Julie Mclaughlin (julie @

An international gathering of people with the surname Hanna will be taking place in Kilkeel towards the end of this month. The Clan Hannay Society is hosting a special Hanna gathering to enable people with the surname Hanna to get together and meet one another. The Clan Hannay Society is an organisation “dedicated to global fellowship and friendship of all those bearing or descended from the family names Hannay, Hannah, Hanna or Hanney”, their website,, says. The organisation was founded in 1960. The society even has published a history of the Hanna family, “The Hannays of Sorbie” by Stewart Francis, which is available on Amazon. All people with the surnames Hanna, Hannay, Hannah, Hanney and similar are invited to attend two special days of events taking place at the end of May.

An international gathering of people with the surname Hanna will be visiting Hanna’s Close in Kilkeel at the end of May to learn more about the Hanna family in south Down.

People do not have to be members of the Clan Hannay Society to attend. The Northern Ireland event is timed to take place directly after the annual Clan Gathering, which is taking place in the village of Sorbie, Scotland, the last weekend in May. According to the organisers, “This is therefore a unique opportunity to meet with kinspeople with a shared historical and genetic connection and to find out more about one of the most active Scottish clan societies.”

The main focus of the two days of events will be Kilkeel, which according to the Clan Hannay, has the highest concentration of the surname Hanna in the world. The two-day schedule starts with a coach tour of County Down on the afternoon of Monday, 29 May. That evening at 6pm will be the Clan Hannay Town Meeting at the Kilmorey Arms Hotel in Kilkeel. This will be followed by a Clan Hannay Ulster-Scots dinner with entertainment by the Schomberg Society.

“We will use this opportunity to have an American-style town hall meeting for the clan leadership to present where the Clan Hannay Society is after over 50 years of existence and the future direction at both Sorbie Tower, our ancestral home, “and with our sister societies around the world,” a spokesperson said. “This will be a wonderful opportunity to meet and share with Hannas, Hannahs, Hanneys and Hannays from across the British Isles and beyond as well as a time for an open Q and A session with the clan leadership and to meet with the clan historian and clan genealogist. “Many of the original founders of the Clan Hannay Society from Northern Ireland have sadly passed away but we think this event will offer a chance to discuss future directions and to see if there is interest in rekindling local Clan Hanna activities in Ulster and across Ireland.”

The Clan Hannay Society will stop to see the Robert Hanna statue in Kllkeel during a tour of local sights.

On Tuesday, 30 May, there will be a visit to Hanna’s Close from 9 to 10am. At 10am there will be an introduction to the Schomberg Ulster-Scots Society, which will include a stop at the Sgt Major Robert Hill Hanna statue at Lower Square, Kilkeel. He received the Victoria Cross for his heroism in World War I.

On the Tuesday afternoon, there will be a scenic tour of the Mourne Mountains, Scarva and Hillsborough. For those who wish to attend the town hall meeting, it is free and no tickets are required.

Tickets for the dinner at the Kilmorey Arms are £33 for adults and£8.50 for children. They can be purchased online at and the deadline for booking is 22 May. There is an £8 supplement payable on the night for those who order the sirloin steak meal.

Tickets for the entire two-day Scotch-Irish/Ulster Scots Historical and Cultural Trip to Kilkeel, which includes the dinner at the Kilmorey Arms, is £75 per person. Tickets can be purchased online at

For more information, contact Keith Hanna by email at postmaster @

Obituary: Harry Hannay

Harry Hannay, the husband of  Clan Hannay Society Membership Secretary Jacquie Hannay, passed away on the 30th of December, 2022. He was 81 years old and a long-time member of the Clan Hannay Society. We will all miss his good company and sense of humour.  The service will be held at Roucan Loch Crematorium on Monday 23rd January at 2pm.

For the full obituary, please click here.

Obituary: Michael Bennett

Michael K. Bennett
Died October 11, 2022.

We received the following obituary from Hanna Bennett concerning her father, Clan Hannay Society Life Member Michael K. Bennett.

Michael K. Bennett beloved father, brother and uncle died on October 11, 2022. He was 62 yrs. old.

Mike is survived by his daughter, brother and five nephews.

He was a Merchant Marine Officer and Chief Engineer. Sailing around the World, meeting and making new friends wherever he went. Always willing to give a hand when needed.

He will truly be missed.

Andrew Boyd Hannah (1864-1940) Scottish Footballer


Andrew Boyd Hannah was an early professional Scottish international footballer in the 19th century who played as a right back in both Scotland and England. Uniquely, he is the only player to have been captain of both Everton FC and Liverpool FC over his three separate spells in English football. He missed just two games in Everton’s 1890–91 English First Division title winning season.

He was born in Renton, Dumbartonshire, north west of Glasgow to Northern Irish emigrant parents from near Killinchy, County Down, Henry Hannah and Margaret Boyd. Henry worked in the Glasgow shipyards and eventually had his own dairy business to which Andrew was apprenticed. However, his penchant for the newly professional association football meant that he was signed for Renton FC.

He won the Scottish Cup twice with Renton and his team was even unofficial world champions after defeating English cup holders, West Bromwich Albion, in 1888. He was subsequently signed by WBA after they saw how good he was. By all accounts, he was an all-round athlete who also competed and won the ‘hop, step and leap’ in the Highland Games at Braemar.

Bizarrely, we also won a £10 wager by going into a Circus lions cage as a publicity stunt! He was married twice and had several daughters and a son. Some of his children emigrated to Canada. A few years ago his unmarked grave in Clydebank cemetery in Glasgow had a gravestone erected by representatives of Everton FC to which some of his descendants attended for its unveiling.

Shannon Bews from Canada is a Clan Member and his great, great, great granddaughter.

Obituary: MGen Jim Hanna

Major General James Eric Hanna, CD, BASc, PEng
Jun 19, 1926 – Dec 22, 2020.

It is with great sadness that Kathleen Hanna reports the death from congestive heart failure of her husband James Eric Hanna at the age of 94 at the Perley & Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Tuesday, December 22.

Born in Toronto, Jim Hanna was raised in Ottawa, receiving his early education at the Ottawa Model School and at Trinity College School, Port Hope. While a student at Ottawa’s Glebe Collegiate Institute, he began his military career in the Royal Canadian Artillery (militia) and subsequently enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force, completing training as a flight engineer in the spring of 1945. After the war, he attended the University of Toronto and obtained the degree of Bachelor of Applied Science in Aeronautical Engineering. During summer vacations, he continued flying training in the Royal Canadian Air Force (reserve), receiving his pilot’s wings in 1949.

Jim was appointed to the Royal Canadian Air Force (regular) in 1950 and served with fighter squadrons in Canada and the United States. He subsequently held the position of instructor in the All-Weather Operational Training Unit at North Bay, Ontario, and Cold Lake, Alberta. He attended the Empire Test Pilots School at Farnborough in 1956, travelling extensively in the Far East, enduring many inoculations, and enjoying a Singapore sling at Raffles Long Bar. The next five years were spent with the Central Experimental and Proving Establishment at Malton and Ottawa. He served as a test pilot slated to fly the Avro Arrow. When the program was cancelled, he was assigned to the staff of the Operational Requirements subdivision at Air Force Headquarters.

After completing the Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College course in 1964, Jim spent a year in the Middle East as Air Staff Officer to the Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force in Gaza and walked the streets of Jerusalem. His most vivid memories of the posting included being stranded in the desert at dusk, guarding his broken-down truck with a rifle while his mechanic changed the tire, flying to the 15th century Basilica of St. Catherine monastery in the South Sinai desert to deliver barrels of sacramental wine for the Monks, and climbing 3,000 steps up the venerated Gebel Musa (Mount Sinai), where God spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments.

Jim joined the directing staff of the Staff College in Toronto in 1965 and was named Commander of the Canadian Forces Base in Rivers, Manitoba in 1967.

In 1970, Jim, by now a colonel, and his family moved to Québec City to participate in the Federal Biculturalism Development program at Laval University. One year later, he was posted to National Defense Headquarters in Ottawa as Deputy Director-General, Bilingual and Biculturalism. In 1974 he attended the Royal College of Defense Studies in London, UK. Jim was elevated to brigadier general and appointed Canadian Defense Attaché in Paris in 1975. In August 1977, he assumed command of the Air Defense Group of the 22nd NORAD region, North Bay, while receiving a promotion to major general.

In 1979, he was appointed Commander, Canadian Forces Europe based in Lahr, Germany, the first pilot to hold this position, in charge of Canada’s army and air force commitment to NATO in the European theatre. It was here in 1980 that Jim had breakfast with Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who was deeply interested in viewing and discussing the Battle of Hochstadt/Blenheim, Gettysburg, Trafalgar, and the American Civil war. Military history was Jim’s favorite subject, and his flair for languages, especially French, satisfied the P.M.

Major General Hanna returned to Ottawa at the end of 1981, taking his well-earned, though brief, retirement: Jim soon joined de Havilland Aircraft for five years as Director of Government and Military Sales. When he finally truly retired – and with Jim, this could never be more than a relative term – he embraced passions for which he now had the time. He was a member and patron of Christ Church Cathedral and the Prayer Book Society. As a proud Canadian, he supported many Canadian foundations such as the Perley & Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian War Museum, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, The Ottawa Hospital, TVO, CBC, and other deserving causes such as the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) of Canada. He was a councillor and longtime member of the Clan Hannay Society, attending many of their gatherings in Scotland. Jim was a collector of antiques, military memorabilia, flags, and heraldry, gifted with a marvelous memory, passionate about erudite mysteries of the Spirit of God, and the spiritual dimension of his life. He would have been at home in the company of John Knox and the Cambridge and Oxford Independent thinkers of the 1870s. Jim served on the board of the Canadian Red Cross as Vice President and the Board of Commissionaires and was the eldest member of the Royal Canadian Military Institute (RCMI) in Toronto.

Jim was the son of Mrs. V. Muriel Hanna (née Boyce, d.1991) and Major F.J. “Eric” Hanna RMC, LLB of Ottawa (d. 1969). His grandfather was Dr. James E. Hanna (d. 1936). In 1954, Jim married Madeleine Joan Ritchie, who was a steadfast partner until her untimely death in April 1981 in Lahr, Germany. Their son Jamie Edward, RMC, BEng, PEng, and MBA (Queen’s University), of Oakville, and daughter Brenda Christine Hanna, of Calgary, will always remember their journeys to many parts of the world. In 1992, Jim married June Purvis, who tragically died in 2003. Jim and June pursued many activities, travelling extensively, meeting old friends, and enjoying the company of stepdaughter and her husband Janine Purvis and Cameron Trollope and their young children, Jenna and Michelle, of Richmond Hill, and stepson Stephen Purves, of Thunder Bay. Jim married Kathleen MacIver in December 2006 in Ottawa. He is predeceased by uncle Dr. Herb E. Hanna (d. 1982), aunt Eileen (Hanna) Stavely (d. 1980), sisters Elizabeth Lawler, RN and Barbara Dore, and niece Leslie Doré. In addition to his widow, son and daughter, he is survived by his granddaughter Julia Madeleine Hanna, grandson Roland Hanna, nieces Kathryn Doré Hall and Heather Doré Grognet, and nephews Phil Doré, Michael Doré and Frank Andrew Lawler.

St Giles’ Cathedral and the Hannays

The history of St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh is a long and complicated one of saints, pilgrims, war, destruction and restoration.  St Giles lies right in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town on the Royal Mile, which runs from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Palace, both ancient buildings in their different ways.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and the central location of the Cathedral, High Courts of the Justiciary and old Mercat Cross symbolise the three estates of Scotland (religion, justice and trade), all ruled over by the monarchy.  The Cathedral is still very much at the heart of Scottish religion and pageantry and the centre of parades for remembrance and  celebration. The Queen and the Royal Family regularly visit St Giles, which is the Church of Scotland’s High Kirk.  Its 15th century crown spire can be seen for many miles around Edinburgh. (Photo 1)

1) St Giles Cathedral with its famous 15th C crown spire

The Hannays played an important part in Scottish religious history in the 17th Century, and St Giles is well worth a visit for any Clan members visiting Edinburgh.

St Giles was a Greek saint who lived as a hermit in France.  How his relics came to Edinburgh is a mystery, but in the 6th Century Scotland was seen possibly as a safe haven for Christians escaping from the remnants of the Roman Empire and St Andrew’s relics also came to Scotland around the same time.  Pilgrimages to  saints’ relics were an essential part of religious life up until the Scottish Reformation in 1560, and King David I established many abbeys and churches across Scotland in the 12th century, which still exist today (although mainly in ruins).  Holyrood Abbey, next to the Palace, and St Giles were both founded by David I in 1124, and you can still touch the 12th century stone pillars and see the masons’ marks on the stones where they had marked off their work. (Photo 2)

2) Interior showing the beautiful stonework

The Scottish Reformation took place in 1560, when John Knox led the Protestants to overthrow the Roman Catholic church.  The Church of Scotland was established as a Presbyterian church and St Giles was stripped of all its statues, stained glass windows and anything which could be considered idolatrous.  John Knox preached in St Giles.  Knox’s sermons were very long, and it is said that Mary Queen of Scots’ husband Lord Darnley was not impressed at all as he had to miss his dinner!

In 1603 King James VI of Scotland became James I of Great Britain in what is known as the Union of the Crowns.  James, whose great grandmother was England’s Henry VIII’s sister, had been brought up a Protestant and was therefore accepted by England as the successor to Queen Elizabeth I.  He is possibly most famous for authorising the King James Version of the Bible and was King when William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth (a play a about a Scottish King haunted by witches).

The problem which James and then his son Charles I both had was how to bring the Church of England, which was Anglican and had Bishops appointed by the Kings, and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which refused to accept bishops, into line.  Charles eventually decided to introduce a Book of Common Prayer to try to standardise the two countries’ faith systems.  And this is where a Hannay appears in the history of St Giles as the cause of one of the most momentous riots in Edinburgh.

Dean James Hannay was in charge of St Giles in 1637 when King Charles I issued an edict that the new Book of Common Prayer should be read in all churches in Scotland and England.  On 23 July 1637 as Dean Hannay started to the read a woman called Jenny Geddes picked up her stool and threw it at him and then everyone else in the congregation joined in the riot.  The Dean had to run for his life!  There is still a plaque on one of the pillars in St Giles marking this event.  (Photo 3)

3) Plaque showing the spot where Dean James Hannay read from the Book of Common Prayer for the first and last time in 1637

As a result of the ensuing riot, many other Scottish towns followed suit and there was a general rebellion against the King.  In 1638 the National Covenant was drawn up as a petition stating very clearly that although Charles I was King of Scotland he was not to be the head of the Scottish Church.  This remains the case today where the Queen is head of the Church of England, but not of the Church of Scotland.  This document is one of the most famous documents in Scottish History and a copy of it can be seen in St Giles.  (Photo 4)

4) Copy of the National Covenant signed in 1638

The people who signed and supported the National Covenant were known as the Covenanters, and there followed a bloody and difficult period, which included Charles I being executed in 1649.  His sons Charles II and James II continued the suppression of the Covenanters in what was known as the “Killing Times”.  It was a brutal period, and  an example of the cruel punishments inflicted on the Covenanters two women were tied to stakes and left to drown at Wigtown Bay.  Many Covenanters were imprisoned and many who escaped emigrated to the Americas to start a new life.  After the exile of James II to France the new Protestant King and Queen, William and Mary, finally established the Church of Scotland in 1690.

After so many centuries of war and destruction, St Giles has been restored and extended, and has regular Sunday services, attended by the public as well as the Queen and Lord Provost of Edinburgh.  The stained glass windows have been replaced, and it is a beautiful cathedral to visit. (Photo 5)

5) Looking west to the stained glass window commemorating the poet Robert Burns

Susan Napier
14 June 2021