Bronze Age Settlement?

From the Clan West Archive – Article originally published in the 1990s. This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: Packard Harrington was the Clan Archaeologist in the 1990s and early 2000s. Any hyperlinks and images that may have been in the Clan West website version are now lost. Hyperlinks below were added (and references to lost images removed or substituted) when the archived version was reviewed and revised in August, 2020. 

The archeologist who helped the Clan Hannay Society secure several thousand pounds to help conserve Sorbie Tower said he believes the site could date much further back than previously thought.

Packard Harrington, who has worked on ecclesiastic digs less than 10 miles away from Sorbie, said he thinks Sorbie could have been the site of a Bronze Age settlement.  The Bronze Age stretched from 2000 to 1000 B.C.

He’s spent 12 years in Whithorn, Scotland’s earliest Christian site, where he found evidence amongst ruins dating to around 900 A.D. or earlier of Viking buildings.

“We haven’t found the evidence, but that continuum is not going to be inconsistent with what happened at Sorbie”, he said.  “If there happened to be a Viking occupation there it wouldn’t surprise me”.

Harrington said a diary of a relative of the tower’s last occupant, Brigadier General John Stewart, mentions visiting Sorbie and unearthing cremation urns.  The writer speculated that the urns could be third-century Roman, but Harrington is skeptical about the likelihood of a Roman cremation site outside the immediate frontier, at that time.

“It could be that those urns were not Roman at all, but Bronze Age”, he said.  “Perhaps Sorbie was a Bronze Age cemetery”.

Good introductions to Dark Age Britain can be found in:

Arthur’s Britain, by Leslie Alcock

Celtic Britain, by Charles Thomas

Picts, Gaels and Scots“, by Sally Foster

More detailed information on Dark Age Dumfries and Galloway are:

Wild Men and Holy Places, by Daphne Brooke

Whithorn and Saint Ninian, Peter Hill

The Old Place of Sorbie

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published in November of  2011. This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: The core of this article is excerpted from Vol. I of the Studies in Grey Galloway, a series published by the Galloway Gazette in 1969-1970. Any hyperlinks and images that may have been in the Clan West website version are now lost. Hyperlinks below were added (and references to lost images removed or substituted) when the archived version was reviewed and revised in August, 2020. 


by I. F. MACLEOD, M.A., F.S.A. Scot.

Resident Tutor in Galloway, Department of Extra-Mural Education, University of Glasgow

Newton Stewart 1969

The tower house in Scotland conforms to a standard type from the middle of the fourteenth century to the end of the sixteenth century, compact, but adaptable to changing requirements. In the earliest towers, the walls were up to 8′ thick, with defense conducted mainly from the wall walk and from projecting timber hoardings; by the sixteenth century defense is mainly from the ground level by hand guns and small arms, and the top level of the tower lends itself to decorative turrets and detail.

The earliest examples are square or oblong, three or four storys high, with access by ladder or an external wooden stairway to the first floor, and a turnpike stair in the wall thickness at one corner to the upper floors. The “L” plan provides additional accommodation in a wing of five to six storys, and perhaps takes the stairway. The walls are a maze of passages and chambers.

The outer defenses are a ditch and stone barmkin or courtyard was, mainly for protecting stock and goods. The tower is not usually free standing, as within the courtyard will be barns and stables and various other buildings.

In most later towers the entrance is on the ground floor, in the re-entrant angle between the projecting wing and the main block where appropriate.

Elaborate Z plan tower houses and the rich north-cast group of castles by the Bell family of master mansions (Crathes, Craigievar, Midmar, Castle Fraser) have no real parallel in Galloway, but otherwise this province has a very comprehensive range of examples of Scottish tower building. The following list of Galloway examples would form an exhaustive list of castles to visit (numbers 1,3,4,6,9,11, and 12 are Ancient Monuments open to the public).

1 Threave Castle, west of Castle-Douglas, on an island in the R. Dee (NX 739623).

2 Corsewall Castle, north-west of Stranraer (NW 992715).

3 Cardoness Castle, west of Gatehouse-of-Fleet (NX 591553).

4 Orchardton Tower, south-east of Castle-Douglas (NX 817551).

5 Garlies Castle, north-east of Newton Stewart (NX 423692).

6 Carsluith Castle, between Creetown and Gatehouse-of-Fleet (NX 495542).

7 Barholm Castle, between Creetown and Gatehouse-of-Fleet (NX 521530).

8 Rusko Castle, north of Gatehouse-of-Fleet (NX 584604).

9 Drumcoltran Tower, north-ease of Dalbeattie (NX 869683).

10 Craigcaffie Tower, north of Stranraer (NX 088642).

11 Castle of Park, west of Glenluce (NX 189571).

12 Maclellan’s Castle, in Kirkcudbight (NX 683551).

13 Isle of Whithorn Castle, in Isle of Whithorn (NX 475366).

14 Castle of St. John, in Stranraer (NX 061608)


The Old Place of Sorbie or Sorbie Tower was built towards the end of the sixteenth century to replace a wooden building on the motte or alternatively another structure within the immediate area. The style of the tower suggests a date in the 1580’s or 1590’s, but a slightly earlier date is certainly possible.

The design of the tower and its construction would be the work of some local family of master masons, perhaps based on the burgh of Wigtown, but unfortunately nothing further is known about this.

The tower, though still a very substantial building, is in poor state of repair, particularly the east wing of the main block, and part of the vault over the kitchen has collapsed. Unlike many Galloway tower houses there is no record of recent occupation, e.g. as accommodation for farm laborers, and the Old Place of Sorbie seems to have stood empty since the middle of the eighteenth century.

The site of the tower, with protection from swamp and water about it, was in itself perhaps an adequate defense against surprise attack. That such security was necessary even a very later date in Galloway is clearly illustrated by the history of the Hannays of Sorbie in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Patrick Hannay of Sorbie was slain in 1543 by Patrick Maclellan; John Hannay was killed in a quarrel in 1640; a Hannay of Sorbie was involved with other Galloway gentlemen including Fergus McDowall of Freugh, Alexander McDowall of Garthland, and McKie of Mertoune, in an affray in the street of Edingurgh in 1526 in which a prominent Dutchman and several others were killed, and which had a sequel in which Thomas Maclellan of Bombie was killed in a clash with the Gordons; and, lastly, the ruinous series of feuds with their neighbours, the Murrays of Broughtons, in a succession of quarrels involving the Stewarts of Garlies, the Dunbars, and the Kennedys, in the 1590’s and 1600’s, including incidents of fired barns, stolen crops, etc., indeed all the ingredients of a ‘Western” film melodrama.

The tower probably had the additional protection of a water filled ditch, of which perhaps sections can still be traced to the east of the tower and elsewhere, and of a barmkin or enclosing wall round a courtyard, and no doubt relied on defense if necessary with small firearms and handguns from the tower itself.

Nothing remains of buildings and structures associated with the tower, such as barns, stables, additional retainers’ quarters, etc., but the wooded area beyond the fenced section has a number of features, not however necessarily associated with the tower, deserving future examination. In particular, there is a stone lined well south-east of the tower, there are some small stony mounds to the east of the tower, and there is a long narrow mound to the north of the tower which does not seem entirely natural.

The Old Place was an obviously carefully planned L plan tower house, with stone vaulted basement, first floor hall, second and third storys and attic with timber flooring, designed for its period on a spacious scale – basically domestic rather than military architecture. It clearly belongs with, for example, the Castle of Park, and Maclellan’s Castle in Kirkcudbright, and Dunskey Castle at Portpatrick, in the class of castellated buildings where, at least as far as the main building itself is concerned, defensive considerations are no longer predominant. The rubble stonework and present ragged appearance gives no real indication of how colorful and pleasing the original would have looked in the sixteenth century, covered with ‘harl’ or roughcast, and with other associated buildings, and perhaps gardens and a dovecot, nearby.

The entrance is on the ground floor in the re-entrant angle in the east wing of the L plan, and opens on to the bottom of the staircase on the left leading up to the left, right and right again to the first floor hall. The staircase is of generous proportions for a tower house, wide and not steep. Access to the second and third floors and the attic was by the turret stair which was corbelled out over the re-entrant angle, with the corbel termination ending in a grotesque human head.

Above the doorway to the left was a square recess in which the arms of the Hannays would have been displayed, and above the door itself very probably the family motto with the name or initials of the Hannay who built the tower and his wife. A small window to the right of the door, lighting the passageway to the kitchen, would also have provided coverage to the area in front of the door with a hand gun.

The main block is 40′ 3″ by 24′ externally, i.e. outside the walls. The wing projects 25′ 9″ from the main block and is 20′ wide.

The ground floor consists of three cellars and a kitchen. The vaulted passage runs from the south end of the main block by the entrance area to the kitchen at the north end. The vaulted kitchen measures 17′ by 13′ 6″. It has a fine fireplace, 17′ by 5′, in the north gable wall, with a window, possibly for draught for the fire, in the west wall, and a recess for storage in the east wall.

Off this passage are two vaulted cellars, one with one narrow window in the west wall, and the second with windows in the west and south walls. The third cellar is under the main staircase in the east wing, and has a window in the south wall.

The great hall occupies all of the first floor of the main block, and is 27′ by 16′ 6″. The east wing is occupied by the main staircase and the turret stair. The hall would have been a grand and comfortable room, with wooden roof, tapestries on the walls, iron grated windows with glass and wooden shutters, perhaps portraits of members of the Hannay family, collections of books, seats in the in-goes of the windows, and fine tables and chairs. There was a good-sized fireplace in the east wall, and additional heating would have come up from the kitchen fireplace underneath and its chimney in the north gable. The hall was well lighted, with two windows in the west wall, one in the south wall, and one in the east wall. There were three simple rectangular cupboard recesses in the west and south walls, and two mural chambers in the north gable, each with a small window.

It is no longer possible to go beyond the first floor as the stairway in the turret has virtually disappeared. The second and third floors would have provided rooms and sleeping accommodations for the Hannay and their guest, with the attic utilized as room for staff or simply as a dormitory.


The Hannays of Sorbie may have originated in the Anglo-Norman or Flemish settlers in Galloway in the twelfth century, or could possibly represent an earlier Norse element in the area. The existence of West Hanney in Berkshire, Haningtons in Hampshire and Northamptonshire, and Hanwell in Oxfordshire, should be noted, but generally speculation on the matter is not really a profitable exercise. There is no direct evidence to show that the Hannays held the lands of Sorbie until the middle of the fifteenth century, but clearly there was a family with that name in the area long before that time.

It is not possible to conclude that Gilbert de Hannethe and Gilbert de Annethe, listed in the “Ragman’s Roll” of 1296, actually held Sorbie, but they were certainly magnates of importance in Galloway. It is possible that the name actually represent the same person listed twice by a clerical error, and referred to in a 1296 inquest as Gilbert de Hannith. Other members of the family active in Galloway in the fourteenth century were Fynlaus a’hanna (canon of Whithorn in 1390) and Findlay Ahanna (resigned the living at Kirkmaiden. Rhins. In 1393).

The free spelling of Hannay as A’Hannay, A’hanna, Hanna, Ahannay, etc., using the Welsh prefix A or Ap, and the mediaeval version de Hannethe, de Annethe, etc., is a source of confusion, but there is no reason to suppose that these represented different family groups.

The earliest known Hannay at Sorbie seems to have been Ethe Hannay of Sorbie, pre 1460-1485, who was succeeded by Robert Hannay, who acted for his brother-in-law, Quentin Agnew, as sheriff of Wigtownshire in 1498/99, and was certainly a person of considerable importance.

The family was at the height of its power and influence about the middle of the sixteenth century , with wealth accumulated partly from the post-Reformation acquisition of church lands, but perhaps more significantly from territorial aggrandizement in the Machars area, partly through marriage, and perhaps most important of all from active participation in trade and mercantile endeavor in Wigtown and area. Various members of the Hannay family were burgesses and provosts of Wigtown in the sixteenth century, and clearly a residence in the burgh was maintained, e.g. the license, already quoted, to William Hannay, provost of Wigtown in 1550, to build a fortified house within the burgh. Alexander Hannay, his father, acquired the lands of Kirkdale in the Stewartry in 1532, perhaps largely from profits from his business interest in Wigtown.

Alexander Hannay of Sorbie, who took over lands of Sorbie in 1569, and who was dead by 1612/13 may well have built the Old Place of Sorbie. It was, ironically, his feuding and violent disputes with his neighbors which brought about the initial decline of the fortunes of the Hannays of Sorbie. His son, John, who was killed in 1640, revived and continued these quarrels, and much of the Sorbie estates were sold in 1626 to Sir Patrick Agnew of Lochnaw, lands later deeded to the Stewarts of Garlies, who finally took over the Old Place of Sorbie in 1677.

The last resident of the Old Place was Brigadier-General John Stewart, M.P. for Wigtownshire in the British Parliament of 1707, who held the Old Place from 1695 until his death there on 22nd April, 1748, and who is buried in the Old Kirkyard.

Perhaps the most interesting Hannay was Patrick Hannay, court poet, diplomat, and adventurer, possibly the brother of John Hannay of Sorbie and Sir Robert Hannay of Mochrum, or else a Hannay of Kirkdale. He was the author of various pleasant pieces, ‘A Happy Husband or Directions to a Maid to chose her Mate’, 1619; ‘Two elegies on the Death of Queen Anne with Epitaph’, 1619; ‘A wifes behavior before marriage’, 1619; and ‘Philomel or the Nightingale, Shertine and Mariana, Songs and Sonnets’, 1622


The Old Place of Sorbie or Sorbie Tower (Map Reference NX 451471) is situated in the Old Tower Plantation approximately one mile east of Sorbie village. The site is north of the B7052 road which runs east off the A746 (Newton Stewart to Whithorn) from Sorbie to Garlieston.


Map references are recorded on the National Grid Reference System. The first three numbers represent the distance from the left edge of the map and the second three numbers represent the distance from the bottom edge.

The best coverage of the area for most purposes in the Ordnance Survey map NX 44 on the scale of 2″ to 1 mile, or Sheet 80 on the 1″ to 1 mile scale.

Improvements of Late (1977)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published in 1977 and written by Maj. R.W. Hannay, [then] Chief of the Clan Hannay.
This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: Any hyperlinks and images that may have been in the original article are now lost. Hyperlinks below were added (and references to lost images removed or substituted) when the archived version was reviewed and revised in August, 2020. 

Sorbie Tower in the ancient province of Galloway in Scotland is the place from which we have all sprung. Although in ruins, there is still a substantial part of it remaining. A grim old place with massive walls its stones whisper stories of the past when every man’s hand was against his neighbour and the Hannays were a force to be reckoned with in those rebellious times. The Tower is included in the published list of Ancient Monuments whose preservation is regarded as of national importance.

In 1965, the owner of the surrounding property, Mrs. Jean Cummings, most generously presented the Tower with an area of ground surrounding to be held in Trust by the Clan. The Trustees are your Convener, Secretary and Treasurer, Ramsay Rainsford-Hannay, Alex Hannah and Donald Hannah respectively.

The Society appointed Andrew Hannah, the only bearer of the name now in Sorbie, general custodian of the Tower and erected fences and gates around the tower as required in the Trust agreement. Andrew kept the surrounding clear of undergrowth and organized the removal of centuries of debris from the interior.

In 1972, the Society acquired a full acre surrounding the Tower and formed a new access, a small car park and fenced the new boundaries.

In 1975, the Society was approached by a charity, the Estate of Hope and Kindness who are interested in restoration work and they cleaned off the ivy overgrowing the Tower and cut down much of the surrounding shrubbery.

In 1976, the Estate obtained a Government Grant and the first real advance in the restoration of the Tower was made. While wages were met by the Grant, equipment and materials were paid for by the Society from the proceeds of an urgent appeal to the membership. An enlarged property consolidated access road and car park were made; a large hut erected with water and electricity supply. The floor of the Tower was cobbled, the stairway from the ground to the first floor rebuilt and a large area of original courtyard at the entrance uncovered.

Altogether the Society has collected and spent over 4,000 pounds in the restoration project and those who know the Tower in the past cannot fail to be impressed with the progress.

The work is by no means completed and the immediate tasks are to restore the dressed stone of the window openings and to repair a large hole in the vaulted floor of the Great Hall. These are skilled operations. But the craftsmen are available if we can provide the funds. Few Clan Societies possess a heritage as impressive as Sorbie Tower and it is our privilege to cherish it in our time for future generations.

Major Ramsay Hannay of Kirkdale and that Ilk

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published in 2004.
This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: Any hyperlinks and images that may have been in the original article are now lost. Hyperlinks below were added (and references to lost images removed or substituted) when the archived version was reviewed and revised in July, 2020. 

Ramsay W R

Past Chief of
Clan Hannay

1911 – 2004

The only child born to Colonel Frederick and Mrs. Rainsford Hannay of Kirkdale, Wigtownshire, Scotland in India on the 15th day of June, 1911.

Educated at Winchester College and Trinity College Cambridge then called to the English Bar in 1932.

Married to Margaret Wiseman in 1936 and then joined the Legal Department of the Board of Trade (now the Department of Trade & Industry) in 1937.

Commissioned into the Highland Light Infantry in 1939. Served mainly in Europe during World War II and demobilized with rank of Major in 1945 and returned to the Board of Trade until his retirement in 1964. Upon retirement, he has since administered his family Estate in Scotland.

Formally gazetted by the Lord Lyon King at Arms as Chief of the Hannay Clan with the title “Ramsay W R Hannay of Kirkdale and that Ilk” in 1982.

His family consists of a daughter, Mrs. Jessica Russell and her husband, Colin; a son, Professor David Hannay, MRCGP and his wife, Janet, two grandsons and their wives, Mark and Fiona, Neil and Kirsten, and grandson Stephen.

Mrs. Margaret Hannay died in October. 1994.

Passed away peacefully on January 10th, 2004. He was 92 years of age.

CSM Robert Hill Hanna, V.C.

by Robert Keith Hanna, Clan Hannay Genealogist

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for bravery “in the face of the enemy” that a British or Commonwealth/Empire soldier can receive. It was inaugurated in 1856 after the Crimean War and only 1,357 have ever been awarded, and a mere 16 since World War II. Two people with the surname Hannay/Hannah/Hanna have received such an award over the years, and the earliest recipient was Company Sergeant Major Robert Hill Hanna in 1917. He was born on his father’s farm in Aughnahoory Townland, near Hanna’s Close, Kilkeel, County Down in the north of Ireland on August 6th 1887, the second of 11 children born to Robert Hill Hanna Snr and his wife Sarah Hanna. Educated at Ballinran School in the Kingdom of Mourne, he left school at 14 and worked on the family farm until age 18 when he decided to emigrate to British Columbia in Canada. There he became a lumberjack and after an apprenticeship started his own prosperous Lumber Business prior to World War 1.

At the start of the War, this diminutive lumberman (a mere 5 foot 5 ¾ inches high and 140 lbs in weight) enlisted as a private on November 7th 1914 just after Canada declared war into the 29th (Vancouver) Battalion, 2nd Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. After extensive training for 6 months, the Battalion was shipped to England on May 20th 1915. They arrived for service in northern France on the 17th September 1915. By the middle of 1916 he had been promoted to Corporal having seen action on the Somme, and he had also served at Ypes, Arras and Paschendale having gone “over the top” 22 times in total prior to Vimy Ridge in 1917.  By December 20th 1916 he had become a Sergeant and by August 1917 this veteran volunteer soldier had become Company Sergeant Major just before his 30th birthday.

As the War was coming to its denouement, and during a bitter 10-day struggle around Vimy Ridge — from August 15th -25th, 1917— the Canadian Corps overran a much-contested treeless hillock on the north side of the French mining centre of Lens called “Hill 70” (so called because it was 70m above sea level). On August 21st, during the start of the second phase of the fighting for Hill 70, both the Canadians and Prussian Guards had decided to attack each other on the same day at almost the same pre-dawn time such that desperate bayonet fighting ensued in No-Man’s Land. The Canadian 29th Battalion’s right hand company (B) pushed forward to meet its objective suffering crippling losses at it crossed the open fields. All the officers were killed or wounded, whereupon the company-sergeant-major, Robert Hanna, assumed command of the remnants of the force and determined to take the German strongpoint that three assaults had failed to seize. It was a stub German trench with parapet machine gun and it was flanking the Canadian Battalion’s attack with the potential to destroy the whole of the 29th Battalion. Hanna coolly collected a party of men and then led them against the position amid a hail of rifle and machine-gun fire. He personally forced his way through barbed wire, used a grenade to silence the gun and then killed the four remaining German gun crew with his bayonet and rifle. He then advanced down the trench and destroyed two dug-outs with German stick grenades he found in the trench after his own ammunition had run out. He was joined by the rest of his Company at this stage and they consolidated their position by hastily building a fortification block, because Germans from the town below had regrouped after dawn to counter attack in force. However, Hanna and his party bravely held on against repeated assaults by the Prussians until they were relieved later in the day. For his initiative, act of leadership and personal courage Hanna was recognised with the award of the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace later that year. He was also promoted to Lieutenant and served for the remainder of the War as an officer before being demobilised on the 24th May 1919.

(L: Victoria Cross recipients Private Michael James O’Rourke of the 7th (1st British Columbia) Battalion and Company Sergeant Major Robert Hill Hanna of the 29th (Vancouver) Battalion stand united in front of Buckingham Palace after the Victoria Cross awards ceremony conducted by King George V on the 5th December, 1917.)

After the war Hanna continued to run his logging camp before taking up his original vocation of farming near Mount Lehman outside Vancouver, returning home several times to Ireland to visit family and friends over the years. He married and had two sons, one of whom, John, died in infancy.

Robert Hill Hanna died on 15th June 1967 and is buried in the Masonic Cemetery at Burnaby, British Columbia. His Victoria Cross is still in the possession of his son Robert who was born in 1940 and served in the RCAF and as a civil pilot with Canadian Airlines before his retirement.

The Canadian Connection (Clan West Archive)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published January 13, 2011.  This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: Any hyperlinks and images that may have been in the original article are now lost. Hyperlinks below were added (and references to lost images removed) when the archived version was reviewed and revised in June, 2020. The author — Dr. Richard Hannah — refers to specific relatives (e.g. Grandad, Ernie) of his who are not further identified.

The Canadian Connection is the work of Dr Richard S. Hannah, Professor, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1 – Dr Hannah is an active supporter of the Hanna, Hannah, Hannay Clan.

The family arrived in [Montréal,] Québec from Donegal sometime in 1848. The reason I assume Montréal is based on the immigration patterns of the mid-nineteenth century. Most Irish immigrants headed for Upper Canada would disembark at Montréal to avoid the Lachine rapids. Then go either overland via stage or re-board a lake-bound sailing vessel above the rapids. This begs the question, how many of the family came together and why did they choose to settle in rural Durham Co. in then Upper Canada? We know they arrived in 1848 from family records and the fact that Richard was born on the boat during the transit from Ireland. Family history suggests that Richard was named after the captain of the vessel who supposedly offered £1000 to adopt him.

In Ireland, by the 1840′s perhaps a third of the population of 8.5 million existed in a subsistence economy, depending for their diet almost exclusively on the vulnerable potato crop. The famine began in earnest in 1845 and lasted for six years. It was the famine which caused an unparalleled exodus with as many as 2.5 million people leaving over the decade from 1846-56. Untold numbers boarded the “coffin ships” on which thousands died en route to Québec. Our family was either extremely lucky or had the funds to travel in better quarters than the majority of their countrymen. So great were the numbers attempting to escape to Canada that in 1848, the Canadians raised the port taxes to stem the flow of ships carrying the poor and diseased Famine Irish. The evidence from 19th century Canada suggests that a sizable portion of the immigrants (about 2/3 Protestant) became well-adjusted and successful rural dwellers. Given the so-called “chain” migration of young emigrants from Ireland, the concentration of Irish from particular areas at home in particular localities in their “New World” are not surprising.

The letters home, containing information about the opportunities and even more vital, the fare, led new emigrants to seek out relatives and friends. This was certainly the case in Manvers during this time. The 1851 census lists pages and pages of “born in Ireland” and “Church of England”. Protestants and Catholics did not mix! Although our family, i.e. Francis and all but one brother (John), left Manvers, the Census records in subsequent years reveal a number of Hannahs emigrating from Ireland into the Manvers area. Since Hannah is an uncommon name in Canada and they are only found around Manvers, the new Hannahs were probably relatives of ours. For example, there was an Andrew Hannah and family who arrived sometime between 1851 and 1861 and lived close to John. Since one of Francis’ and John’s brothers was called Andrew, perchance he was a cousin.

The first official signs of the Hannah family are found in the 1851 Census of Upper Canada. Four families appear in Manvers Township, Durham County. They were listed as follows:

1. Francis (31)

  • Catherine (31)
  • Catherine (8)
  • Jane (6)
  • Richard (4)
  • David (2)
  • Andrew (26) (probably an unmarried brother)

2. Edward (43)

  • Anne (44) Died just before census
  • Jane (25)
  • Eliza (18)
  • Elva (17)
  • Robert (11)
  • Mary Anne (9)
  • Edward (5)
  • Sarah (3)

3. John (36)

  • Ellen (28)
  • Margaret (8)
  • Robert (6)
  • William (4)

4. Jane (58) Widow

  • John (28)
  • Jane (19)

Since there are no birth/death or marriage records before the late 1860s, we will never know if one family arrived first or if they all arrived together. A check of the 1851 census in townships adjacent to Manvers does not reveal any other Hannahs and these three families lived within a few houses of each other.

The census records show that Francis lived in a log cabin while all of the other families lived in log shanties. All of the brothers are listed as labourers. One could speculate that the widow Jane aged 58 and her two children had arrived first and were the reason that Francis and his brothers went to Manvers in the first place. It appears as if Francis and family remained in Manvers until at least 1856. This assumption is based on marriage records for Francis’ sons, Robert and John where they record Manvers as their birth place. So in their 8 to 10 year stay in Manvers, Francis and Catherine increase the size of their family to seven with two more to come. Only Francis’ brother John is still in Manvers in 1861 according to the census of that year.

You are probably wondering where Manvers Township is. Manvers is in Durham County just south of Lindsay, Ontario. In a detailed map of Manvers Twp. from 1876, you can find the property of Robert Hannah and like all the Hannahs of that generation he has donated part of his land for the Orange Lodge. The Hannahs in North Dakota did the same thing, but more on that later. There exists a drawing of Robert’s farm circa 1876. I do not know the relationship of Robert to our family, but he was probably a cousin. Whoever he was it is obvious from the farm “Maple Grove” that he much better off than our family!

So what do we know about Manvers Township during this time period? The following account is from Smiths’ Canadian Gazetteer of Canada West in 1846, which is only two years before the clan arrived:

“A township in the Newcastle District. In Manvers, 21,281 acres are taken up, 3,800 of which are settled within about 25 years by Canadians, Pennsylvanian Dutch, Germans, Americans, Irish and a few English and Scotch. Population about 300. Professions and Trades include one physician, woolen factory, five stores, one brewery, one tannery, two taverns, four blacksmiths, five wagon makers, four shoe makers, one foundry and one tinsmith.”

In the 1861 census the only brother that I can find is John who is still comfortably ensconced in Manvers Twp. Where the other three brothers went is still a mystery. Unless one has a hint of a location, looking in the census is an impossible task. I only found the Hannahs in Manvers because on David’s (son of Francis) marriage certificate he lists Manvers as his birthplace.

However, then comes 1871, thank goodness, because the entire Ontario census of 1871 has been indexed and is not only on a computer database but is also on the Internet. Much to my surprise Francis and Catherine are listed twice. In April they are residing in Derby Twp Grey Co. (near Owen Sound) and again in August in Assiginack Twp. on Manitoulin Is. An interesting observation is that Francis lists his age as 50 in April and only 49 in August. Ten years later he is only 58!! This obviously was the beginning of the Hannah tradition of obfuscating their ages from the government. Ernie comes to mind right away. I digress. So sometime between 1856 and 1871, Francis and Catherine plus brood along with brother Andrew and his family, closed up shop in Manvers and moved to the Owen Sound area. Until more of the censuses become indexed by name on computer databases, where they were during this time span will remain a mystery. Since they moved to the Manitoulin in 1871, I think it is safe to assume that they were in the Owen Sound area for a number of years, so the missing time is probably in the nature of five or six years. I was hoping that Francis and Catherine’s two youngest boys (James and Edward) would state on their marriage certificates where they were born but alas, one lists Ontario and the other really narrows it down by listing place of birth as Canada. Unfortunately, births were not registered by the government until the mid 1870s.

So here is what we know. Until April of 1871, Francis and Catherine were farming in Derby Twp., Grey Co. Frances’ brother Andrew and his family and Francis and Catherine’s eldest daughter Catherine and her husband Arron Box are living in Arran Twp. Bruce Co. Also present in Derby Twp. was Richard Hannah and family (not our Richard but perhaps Francis’ brother) who came from Donegal and whose descendants eventually ended up in the Killarney and Brandon area. Some of you may have met Eldon Hannah (a grandson of this Richard). I am still not 100% sure of the relationship to our family but given the predilection of Hannahs to live together, they were brothers or else cousins.

Manitoulin Island was the traditional home of the Chippawa and Ottawa tribes. In 1836, the then Lieut. Governor Sir Francis Head decided to consolidate “all of the wandering Bands of the North Shore and also the tribes settled in all parts of Upper Canada” on Manitoulin Is. The scheme ended in failure because very few Indians could be convinced to resettle. Since that did not work, in 1870 the government of Canada decided to move the native population unto reserves on the Island and move in the White settlers.

By the fall of 1871 Francis and Catherine have moved to Assiginack Twp, near the town of Manitowaning, on Manitoulin Island. Sons Richard, Robert and Edward are not listed, so I assume that they remained in Derby Twp. for a time to work or were away visiting relatives when the Census Takers came by. Ellen Jane (Francis and Catherine’s second daughter) has married Alpheus Adams, and they are also in Assiginack. Either living with, or just visiting with, the Adams are Sarah and Robert Hannah, who are the daughter and son of Francis’ brother Edward.

The next window we have on the lives of the clan is the 1881 census. Over the intervening 10 years Richard, David, Robert and Francis (Frank) have all married and are living in the same neighbourhood around Manitowaning. The exception is Frank and his new bride Eliza who move north of Manitowaning a few miles to Bidwell Twp. Since Frank was the youngest of the married brothers, he most likely had to go further afield to find land to farm, or it could be related to the fact that Andrew (Francis’ brother) and family have moved to the same area from where we last saw them around Owen Sound.

So what were they up to in the Manitoulin? A scan of the Manitoulin Expositor published in Manitowaning, reveals a few references to the family:

9 Aug 1879. One day last week Mrs. F. Hannah of lot 5 con 1, Bidwell, went down to a field about dusk to feed some pigs. While in the field she suddenly discovered a bear about four rods away. She called to her husband who was about 200 yards from her and picked up her little boy and ran, the bear following her. The cries brought her husband, S. Carr and John McCauley to her assistance and they chased the animal with dogs but on account of darkness and thick swamp they found it impossible to capture him. Had it not been for the men being so near it is quite likely Mrs. Hannah would have lost her life as the bear followed close after her till frightened away. (This is Francis Jr. and Eliza Hannah)

11 Oct 1879. Assiginack Fall Fair. The annual Fall Fair of the Assiginack Agricultural Society was held in this village on Friday Oct 3rd. The total number of entries was 848 and the number of visitors is estimated at about 1000; quite a number of these came from the north side of the Island.

Class Poultry

    • 1st place- pair of Buff Cochins F. Hannah
    • 1st place- pair Turkeys F. Hannah

Class Common Sheep

    • 1st place- Shearing Ram F. Hannah

Class Grain and Seeds

    • 2nd place- half peck white beans A. Adams

Class Vegetables and Fruit

    • 1st place- 1 doz. crab apples F. Hannah
    • 1st place- 12 large tomatoes A. Adams
    • 2nd place- 12 small tomatoes A. Adams

Class Dairy Products

    • 3rd place- 50 lbs. butter in tub Hannah
    • 1st place- 1 loaf light bread A. Adams
    • 1st place- 1 doz. buns A. Adams

1 Nov. 1879. “New Buildings- A new home is being erected for Mrs. R. Hannah on the South Bay Road, near the corner of J.H. Tinkis’ park lots” (The reference is to our Richard and Anne)

6 Dec. 1879. School Reports- The teacher would be very much pleased if some of the ratepayers would allow their children to attend more regularly: make an effort to encourage both teacher and pupils.

No. 1 Assiginack Second class

      • 1st Anna Hannah
      • 3rd Albert Hannah

The Expositor can do much good for our future fathers and mothers by publishing these reports. It has already engendered a spirit of generous emulation amongst the youth, and the spirit may yet reach the parents and stimulate them to give their children some chance of education. (These are the children of Robert and Sophia Hannah. Edward’s son Francis’ children and grandchildren did not avail themselves of much education since all but a few are listed as illiterate on the census).

20 Dec. 1879. On a motion of D.L. Clark, seconded by R. McDonald, an order was drawn on the treasurer in favour of Francis Hannah for the sum of $6, being payment in full for road job to be done by him before 1st June, Hannah N.D.

On the move again, the peripatetic Hannah clan heads for the prairies. In 1882 Alpheus and Ellen Jane Adams arrive in Cartwright, Manitoba in search of land less severe for farming than available in the Manitoulin. In the fall of 1883, they squatted on a piece of land just south (2 km.) of the international boundary in the then Dakota Territories. Anecdotal family history leads us to believe that they were unaware of the fact that they were in the U.S. On November 24th 1884, a farm Post Office was established on Alpheus and Ellen Jane’s farm. Alpheus named the Post Office for Francis. A year later it moved a mile east to Francis’ farm which is now the town site of Hannah.

According to the U.S. census (1900), Francis and Catherine, their children and their families, (Richard, David, John and Edward) arrived on site between 1884 and 1885 and staked out claims (see fig. 7). Catherine Jr. married Arron Box and I lose track of them in Bruce Co. Ontario. Francis Jr. and Eliza (of bear fame) arrived in Hannah, 11 years later in 1896. Unfortunately the other two sons died young and did not move to Hannah. Robert was a hotel keeper in Manitoulin and died in June of 1879 at the age of 26. Robert’s widow Sarah (nee Laybourne) and family never moved to Hannah (see complete story later). James farmed in Manitoulin and died in February of 1900 at the age of 38.

So besides farming what did the clan do in Hannah?

John Hannah was Postmaster from Sept. 20 1890 until Jan. 1898.

Alpheus and Ellen Jane Adams established the Methodist Church by holding services in their home. In 1898, Alpheus along with others formally established the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Hannah. Ellen Jane was the first president of the Ladies Aid Society.

David and Mary Hannah were charter members of Hannah Presbyterian Church.

John Hannah (1897) was a charter member of the Independent Order of Foresters and was the first Treasurer.

Then there was the Loyal Orange Lodge. John Hannah built the hall and donated it to the lodge. The chapter went by the name “The Chosen Few” and all of the Hannah males were charter members. Since the “Orange” was a decidedly anti-Catholic organization brought from Ireland, it is not surprising to see the Irish Protestant settlers embrace the tenets of the Lodge.

The Masonic Lodge began the Hannah cemetery, and Alpheus Adams was on the fist Board of Directors. In a visit to the cemetery in 1996, I found a marker for Catherine but no sign of Francis. After checking the existing records with June Dickson (the secretary/treasurer) it became evident that he is probably buried there but there is no record of where. It certainly is odd that Catherine predeceased Francis by eight years yet she has a marker. It is possible that he was buried next to Catherine and no one got around to adding his name to the marker.

Robert Henry Hannah (Granddad) ran a Barber Shop.

In 1897, John Hannah ran a Feed and Livery Stable:

“He also ran a stage carrying passengers and baggage for the purpose of making connections between the Great Northern at Hannah and the Canadian Pacific at Snowflake, Manitoba each Friday and Monday. One day John Hannah was met at the Snowflake depot by a Canadian Customs collector and informed that he was at liberty to bring passengers from Yankeedom, he must not take any more back or his team would be confiscated.” (Hannah 100 years, 1996).

David Hannah Jr. was also in the Hardware business for a brief time.

A Blithe Historic Cavalcade (Clan West Archive)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published January 29, 2012.  This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: The Clan West USA image is now lost.  A new version was scanned for this archive article from a photolithographic print of the original illustration. The artist, the late Pat Hanna, was one of the founders of the Clan Hannay Society. Pat drew this image circa 1960 as a promotional piece for the newly-formed society.  The Clan West image originally had an interactive index (now lost) with rollover descriptions for each numbered image.



The Family or Clan of Hannay Hannah Hanna is of very ancient origin and all who bear the name can undoubtedly be traced to the Border clan whose chiefs were the Lairds of Sorbie Castle in Galloway, Scotland. According to the two leading authorities – Sir Bernard Bourke and O’Hart.

(click to enlarge)

I have rough sketched this cavalcade of Hannay Hannah Hanna History dedicated to our Clansmen and women all, wheresoever scattered. Greetings, “Per Ardua Ad Alta”.

Pat Hanna,
N.Z. and Australia.

The Clan Hannay (Clan West Archive)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published February 14, 2011.  This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: The original article may have had external links, but these are now lost.  The links and notes found in the republished article below were researched and added as part of the May, 2020 editorial pass. Furthermore, statements from this original article may have been superseded by newer research -FAL.

By Mrs. Rhoda Home (nee Hannah)

The Hanna family name is derived from one Annadh, or Annaidh, who was four generations in descent from Meachlin O’Loughlin who was first to bear the famous name of O’Loghlin. The O’Loughlin families were chieftains in the County Clare in the district of Burren. A Barony of Burren still exists and it is evident that the Hanna family must be accepted as having come from County Clare.

[This information linking Hanna to Annadh is apparently drawn from The Irish Nation, by John O’Hart, which was published by M. H. Gill & Son, Dublin, 1878.  It is not clear how Mrs. Home connects the Annadh family to the Hannays of Galloway. The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland (First Edition, 2016) indicates that the Annadh name is a precursor of the Hannan family name, which is unrelated to the Hannays]

The O’Laghlan family was in the great line of O’Connor of Corcomroe in the County Clare. They trace their pedigree from Corc who was the third son of Fergus Nor in the district of Ir. The O’Loughlin families were styled Kings and Princes and the territories possessed by them were called Corcamruadh, Corcoiche and Corc Galen.

The earliest known possession of Sorbie (Castle) were the powerful Anglo-Norman family, the Viponts, lord of Westmoreland, who received the lands and manor of Sorbie in 1185. Exactly when and how the Hannays or “Ahanna” as the name was formally spelt, succeeded the Viponts is a matter of conjecture as the records of the 13th Century are very sparse. Similarity of the mottoes is very interesting; Viponts, “Per Ardua ad Aspera”, and the Ahannas, “Per Ardua Ad Alta”. The succession could have been peaceable as by marriage.

Like the other native Galloway Clans the McDowalls and the McCullochs, the Hannays supported John Balliol who by his mother the Lady Devorgilla, represented the old Celtic Lords of Galloway against Bruce. In 1308 they were forced to submit to Edward Bruce when he conquered Galloway.

The first mentioned is Gilbert de Sowreby who witnessed a Charter in 1268. This Gilbert is possibly one of the Gilbert de Hannethes who signed the Ragman’s Roll in 1296 when Edward 1st of England made the feudal lords and chiefs of Scotland swear allegiance to him at Berwick.

From Sorbie, Hannays rode to Sauchieburn and Flodden. They feuded against or sided with their neighbours the Kennedys, the Dunbars and the Murrays, and joined James 4th on his pilgrimages to St. Ninian’s Shrine at Whithorn. In 1601 the Hannays were outlawed for their behaviour towards the Murrays.

Some prominent members of the family were: John de Hannah, Shipmaster to James 1st; Andrew Hannay of Scots Archer Guard of the King of France 1469; Dougal Ahanna, Falconer of James 4th; Patrick Hannay, soldier/poet who fought for the Winter Queen of Bohemia; Sir Robert Hanna of Mochrum who fought for Charles 1st; Dr. James Hanna[y], Dean of St. Giles, at whom Jenny Geddes hurled her famous stool in 1637.

Some of the Hannah clan migrated to Ireland and in Ulster, County Down, there is a senior branch of the Scots Cadets known as the Hannas of Newry.

South Pacific – H.M.S. Bounty Connection (Clan West Archive)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published December 4, 2011.  This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: The original article may have had external links, but these are now lost.  The links and notes found in the republished article below were researched and added as part of the May, 2020 editorial pass. -FAL.

Ivy Anne Hannah, b.1907 in Maclean, NSW, Australia, married Norfolk Island widower William (Bill) Peter Quintal on Norfolk Island in 1955. They lived on Norfolk Island where they are both now buried in Kingston Cemetery. Ivy died on 1 February, 1981 aged 74 years, and Bill in 1987 aged 79 years, leaving son John Benjamin Quintal who remains a resident of Norfolk.

The Quintal family is in direct lineage to Matthew Quintal who was born on 3 March, 1766 in Padstow, Cornwall, England and served on the ship Bounty. Matthew and his Tahitian partner Tewalua (Sarah) [also referred to as Tevarua] both died on Pitcairn Island in 1799. Matthew’s other partner Teraura (Susannah) was born at Raatiran, Tahiti in about 1775 also died on Pitcairn on 15 July, 1850. The union between Matthew and Tewalua began the line linking to Ivy Ann Hannah.

[The rest of the 2011 article confines itself to the broader story of the Bounty and its crew, without further reference to the ancestral line of Ivy Hannah’s husband Bill Quintal.  Subsequent research has turned up the following:

Matthew and Tewalua had four children who survived infancy:

Matthew, 1791-1814
Jenny (or Jane), b. 1794
Arthur, 1795-1872
Sarah, 1796-1851

Arthur married his half-brother Edward’s daughter Martha (1822-1893). They had the following children who survived childhood:

Louisa, 1839-1892
Rhoda, 1842-1857
Edward, 1844-1901
Edmund, b. 1846
Rachel, 1849-1934
Julia, 1841-1869
Hugo, 1857-1949
Arthur, b. 1859
Martha, b. 1863
Wallace, b. 1865

Edward married Angeline McCoy (1854-1914).  Their following children who survived childhood were:

Edmund, b. 1874
Albert, 1875-1926
Lara, 1879-1899
Louis, b. 1882
Ellis, 1884-1942
John, 1886-1911
Blanche, b. 1888

Ellis married Catherine Nobbs (1888-1971), who herself was descended from the Quintel family as well as that of Fletcher Christian.  Ellis and Catharine were Bill Quintal’s parents.

Further information regarding the Quintal line can be found at the following external links:

The original article continues:]

Shortly after World War I, two young veterans who did not want to settle down went to a Boston publishing house with a proposition. If they were grub-staked with adequate advance royalties, they would go to Tahiti and produce a most interesting story. The publisher agreed, and out of this came the Bounty trilogy by Nordhoff and HallMutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairn’s Island. The success was tremendous; H.M.S. Bounty and Captain Bligh became household phrases. Until then, that uprising on April 28, 1789, had received only moderate attention. The mutiny on the Hermione had been much more violent, and the uprisings at Spithead and Nore involved a whole fleet. But now, Nordhoff and Hall’s Bounty became the mutiny.

The mission of the Bounty to Tahiti had been a very special one. The American Revolution had broken up a profitable, long standing triangular trade in which, among other things, Philadelphia, New York, and other North American ports sent flour to feed the slaves in Jamaica, Barbados, and other sugar islands, getting in exchange sugar and rum, which could be exchanged for British manufactures. The British, at the close of the war, put an end to that arrangement, to the distress of the Americans and even more so to the sugar islands, where slave holders found it difficult to feed their slaves.

From Captain James Cook’s first Pacific voyage in the Endeavour came a suggestion of possible relief. Joseph Banks (later Sir Joseph), the wealthy naturalist who went on the voyage, called attention to breadfruit, the inside of which could be a good substitute for bread. He pulled government wires, at which he was most adept, and gained authorization for sending a naval vessel out to Tahiti to take a thousand or so young breadfruit plants to feed the West Indian slaves. The Navy Board procured a small three masted ship, the Bethia, of 230 tons (this was smaller than any of Cook’s ships) at barely half the price of the Resolution [the vessel used by Cook for his second and third Pacific voyages]. She would be renamed and commissioned as H.M.S. Bounty. The crew of 47 would be severely cramped because a large part of the ship was transformed into a “floating green house”, with a special gardener and assistant in charge. One result of the scant space was that no room was available for any marines, who had the duty of guarding the officers.

The command went to Lieutenant William Bligh, partly through the influence of Banks. Bligh had been sailing master under Cook in the Resolution and had done a great deal of charting – in fact he was rated as one of the best hydrographers. After Cook’s death, Bligh helped to navigate the ship home and served in several actions during the remainder of the American Revolution. Then he was on half-pay for five years, commanding a large merchantman. His dual personality has been a matter for discussion ever since; he was a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde. In addition to his navigating ability, he usually ran his ship well. He was thoughtful of his crew’s health and morale when conditions were right; and he was level-headed in most crises. But he could lapse from the able, rational personality into the uptight, nagging behavior that could lead to mutiny; he was not a vicious sadist like Captain Pigot, who was chopped up on the Hermione, but could be an exasperating nagger. His whole naval record would be a mixture of high achievement and of serious mutinies (the Bounty was only one of his mutinies). Some people are called accident-prone, Bligh was certainly mutiny-prone.

Bligh was the only commissioned officer on the Bounty. There were several warrant officers including a troublesome master and a drunken surgeon, and there were several midshipmen in addition to the gardener and his assistant. The name that has always been associated with Bligh has been that of Fletcher Christian, Master’s Mate. Like Bligh, he came from the west coast of England not far from John Paul Jones’ early home, and both were from solid families. Christian attended grammar school and then entered the navy. He used family influence to meet Bligh and ask for a position on his ship when he was 21 years old and Bligh 10 years older. Just as there were sharply contrasting elements in Bligh’s makeup, so were there in Christian’s. Christian normally had a very cheerful disposition and made friends easily, but he was also subject to bad moods. For a long time Bligh and Christian were extremely close. Christian was Bligh’s protègè, dining with him frequently and finally being promoted to Acting Lieutenant which made him second in command. The Bligh and Christian moods would have much to do with the mutiny.

The Bounty sailed from Portsmouth on December 23, 1787. It was planned to round Cape Horn but after a month of brutal freezing gales Bligh headed for Good Hope instead He had done a remarkably successful job in doing everything possible for the crew’s well-being, and his efforts were appreciated.

The Bounty was at Tahiti from October 26, 1788 to April 4, 1789. Relations were unusually pleasant for the first two months. Loving was more general than ever, accompanied by a rising venereal disease rate. Bligh was in almost constant companionship with the local king and queen. The potting of breadfruit plants went on apace at Point Venus where the Cook observatory had been set up. It was now fortified. Christian lived ashore where he was put in charge. He was becoming rather indolent and was quite promiscuous among the native girls until he took up with the tall and beautiful daughter of a chief. She was his dutiful “wife” as long as they lived.

By the turn of the year the happy, carefree situation was beginning to go sour, both among officers and crew. “Such neglectful and worthless petty officers I believe were never in a ship as are in this. If I had any officers to supersede them, or was able to do without them, considering them as common seamen, they should no longer occupy their respective stations.”, wrote Bligh early in January of 1789. Punishments and flogging increased. Miscreants were apprehended, flogged, and placed in irons. Christian, so long the captain’s particular pet, now caught the heaviest of Bligh’s ill humor aroused by Christian’s often sloppy work. Violating all normal behavior Bligh often criticized Christian before the crew and even before the natives.

By the time the Bounty sailed from Tahiti on April 4 deterioration of captain-crew relations were well under way. For the three weeks she pushed westward and there was understandable resentment at the “paradise lost.” The amorous time at Tahiti was an experience that they were not likely to have again and, in contrast, the life aboard ship was become more unbearable, particularly the growing bitter antagonism between Captain Bligh and Christian.

The crisis came in the early hours of April 28, 1789, off the island of Tofura in mid-Pacific. As a result of Bligh’s nagging, Christian was in such a desperate emotional state that he prepared a raft in which to escape from the ship. About 4 am the mutiny pattern suddenly took form. The surprising thing is that, despite hours of confrontation on the deck, there was no physical violence. One of the midshipmen, Edward Young, persuaded Christian to give up his idea of a raft escape and instead to depose Bligh and take over the ship. The temper of the crew, he argued, would make this possible. Christian finally agreed to head the movement, provided there would be no bloodshed.

Christian, cutlass in hand, invaded Bligh’s cabin with four of the toughest members of the crew. Bligh was hauled out of his bed shouting at the top of his voice. The conspirators soon had the ship under their control. Their original plan had been to set Bligh and three or four others adrift in one of the smaller boats, but it soon became apparent that at least half the crew were “loyalists” who wanted to leave with Bligh, so the big launch was used. The launch could not hold all who wanted to go so three were persuaded to remain with the ship, but they made it clear that they were not mutineers. Christian even gave Bligh his best chronometer.

Following on from the bloodless mutiny, three effects took place:

  • a remarkable open-boat passage under Bligh to Timor;
  • the Admiralty’s follow-up in sending the frigate Pandora to Tahiti to pick up the mutineers and her wreck on the return; and
  • the court martial at Portsmouth and the hanging of three mutineers.

Christian with the Bounty returned to Tahiti and continued on to Pitcairn’s Island with the hard-core mutineers plus the native men and women.

Bligh partly redeemed his harsh reputation by taking the overloaded Bounty launch across the mid-Pacific, through the Great Barrier Reef and on to Timor. One of the longest single-boat trips to date. Even after his quartermaster was killed by island natives there were 18 men, which left scant freeboard to keep the waves out. Food and water were desperately short. Bligh put the men on a diet of two ounces of bread and a gill of water a day, and however irascible he might be at other times, his instant cheerfulness and solicitude for the well-being of this crew kept their morale high. The Great Barrier Reef with its 1500 miles of treacherous coral was a real test of his seamanship. Cook’s Endeavour had almost been wrecked on it, and the frigate Pandora, sent out to get the mutineers, was lost on the reefs. Between April 28 and June 14, the boat had covered some 4,000 miles. The exhausted men were scarcely able to walk, but Dutch hospitality at Kupang quickly revived them. Bligh proceeded on to London from Batavia in a Dutch ship, with the others following on.

Bligh was the hero of the hour. He was promoted to commander and then to post-captain. He was soon sent back to Tahiti for more breadfruit plants which he carried to Jamaica, but the slaves did not care for the flavour.

The admiralty extended the long arm of the empire, sending out the frigate Pandora to round up the mutineers and bring them back to England for trial. Pandora arrived at Tahiti on March 28 and remained there until May 8, during which time she rounded up 14 prisoners. Her captain, Edward Edwards, a “vicious martinet” with none of Bligh’s better qualities, hunted down everyone who had been on the Bounty. Some of the non mutineers, confident in their innocence, voluntarily reported to him and were locked up like the rest. To confine his 14 prisoners securely, he built a roundhouse on the quarterdeck. This ill-ventilated and unlighted cell became known as “Pandora’s Box”.

After searching the area for the Bounty without success the Pandora was wrecked trying to get through the Great Barrier Reef on August 21, 1789. One bosun’s mate, remembering the prisoners shut up in the “box”, unbolted the scuttle (Captain Edwards had shown no concern for their safety), but four of them, fettered with leg irons, drowned.

The prisoners came before a general court martial at Portsmouth. Bligh, already out on his second breadfruit voyage, was absent, and the prosecution used a harsh memorandum which Bligh had left. A few were acquitted, but Midshipman Peter Haywood, amiable, well-connected, and innocent, was spared only after a strong lobby interceded for him. In the end, three mutineers were hanged, one from the starboard yardarm and two from the port.

In the meantime, there had been dramatic developments out in the far Pacific. After the mutiny there was a question of “what next?” The future seemed to depend to some extent upon whether Bligh and his boat crew ever reached safety; if they did, there seemed a very good chance the Royal Navy would reach out for the mutineers. Under Christian’s command and with discipline well enforced, the Bounty, after one or two stops, put into Tahiti temporarily. Some of the sailors resumed domestic relations with their “wives”.

It was quickly decided however, that if the Bounty was still at Tahiti or thereabouts, she would fall prey to a searching frigate. The mutineers hoped to find a place that was remote, uninhabited, and inaccessible. On September 23, 1789, five months after the mutiny, the Bounty sailed for the last time from Tahiti, loaded down with stores and provisions. There were passengers too, men and women, a biracial group. There were eight English mutineers, headed by Christian, and six Polynesian natives, brought along for labor. There were also 12 women: four of them were “wives” of the leaders, including “Isabella”, the wife of Christian and daughter of a chief, a most admirable person. Some of the others were tricked aboard before the Bounty sailed.

After two more temporary inspections, Christian finally found the solution in a volume of Pacific Voyages. In an account of Carteret’s voyage in H.M.S. Swallow, he found a reference to Pitcairn’s Island. Major Pitcairn commanded the British troops at Lexington and was later killed at Bunker Hill. The island seemed to be a haven.

On January 15, 1790, they decided that this was the place and they landed in a bay of sorts, with a narrow beach. A week later, on January 23, 1890, the Bounty came to her end. There was a debate as to what to do because of the fear that another ship might sight her. It was decided to run her ashore, but suddenly smoke was seen rising from her hull. One of the toughest of the hard-core mutineers had gone below and set her afire. There was no longer any question of sailing home in her.

Three years later, the little colony almost disappeared because of friction over the women. The natives began to conspire to kill all the whites. On September 20, 1793, they killed Christian and four others. On October 4 all the remaining natives were killed, with the widows of the slain whites taking part.

Pitcairn continued in splendid isolation, quite cut off from the world, until the whaler Topaz put in there in 1808. Because of the War of 1812, England did not get word immediately. In 1817 there was temporary alarm when two British frigates called, but contact was amiable. So it continued with occasional visits until 1856 when Britain moved most of the islanders to Norfolk Island. Many of them were unhappy at the change and returned to Pitcairn which, eventually became a formal part of the British Empire.

THE ARMS OF SORBIE (Clan West Archive)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published December 9, 2011.  This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: This article reflects the views of the author at the time it was written and may contain information inconsistent with more recent research into family history.  For further study, we refer readers to The Hannays of Sorbie by Stewart Francis and Hanna of the Close by Keith Hanna.


The heraldry of the Clan evolved in the first half of the 12th century, and by the 13th century, heraldry had become a scientific system of identification.

In those early days, few could read or write, and heraldry supplied the people with an easy means of readily identifying their Kings and Chiefs.

Knights and nobles wore boldly colored devices on their shields to identify them in tournaments and on the battlefield. Later, these devices were worn on their mantles (coats) and the fabrics draped over their war horses to protect the animals from wounds incurred in the heat of battle. Hence the term, “Coat-of-Arms”.

Tradition tells us that a Hanna took up the cross, and accompanied Richard I, also known as Coeur de Lion, or Lion Heart, in the early 1190s to take part in the Third Crusade; to free the Holy Lands of Palestine from the grip of the infidel Saracen. All of the Christian Knights of the time wore the symbol of the Cross on his dress, at least for the duration of his time while on Crusade.

The taking up of the Cross was a very serious business, not to be taken lightly. The Chief or Nobleman doing so had to bear the cost of provisioning, arming, and transporting his Knights, servants and vassals, and horses; over several thousands of miles, and ofttimes for extended periods of time, up to several years. Maintaining such contingents would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps even millions, by today’s standards. Therefore the Hannas had to be extremely wealthy in their own right to be able to afford such a venture.

While the Chief and his warrior Clansmen were off on these forays, the Lady of the household was charged with the responsibility of managing these vast estates, with only the household servants and non-warrior tenants and kin. The Chief’s lands were then vulnerable to attack, which sometimes happened, in spite of the guarantees given by the Pope in return for service to the Church.

Crest of the Clan Hanna

The Herald Nisbet, writing about the year 1700 gives the Hanna Crest and Motto a Crusader origin. His “book of Galloway” states:

“A family which has dealt many blows in time of war from Flodden Field to the Gates of Rhodes, and for some such service bore heraldic device of a crescent and fitched cross”.

It is then obvious that this Hanna was successful in personally defeating Saracens in combat. From this activity, the Hanna, adopted the Cross-crosslet (each of the arms and the head of the cross being again crossed), fitched (that is the base of the cross being pointed) issuing out of a Crescent; sable (sable is the color black for piety). This arrangement depicting victory over the Muslim Saracen.

Later, the Chief of the Clan, wore this symbol on his helmet, and other head wear: Hence the reference to this device as being a crest. He would then have made up duplicates of his crest, in pewter or bronze castings, mounted on a leather strap. These he would then issue to his sons, family members, knights, household guards and servants.

By Scottish Heraldic law, only the Chief of the Clan is allowed to wear the Crest without the strap adornment; as the Crest is his. The rest of us as Clansmen, can wear the Crest on our bonnets as long as the Crest is enclosed within the “Belted Circle”. The belted circle is now a part of the casting and is representative of the leather strap mounting of old.

As Clansmen, we may also use the Crest on letterheads, and other items, if it is enclosed within the belted circle and is accompanied with the words “Cirean Ceann Cinnidh”; in Gaelic meaning “crest of the Chief (or head) of the Children (family)”.

A Coat of Arms is the general term applied to the whole armorial device, and is technically called an “Achievement”. This consists of the following main parts and, for illustration purposes, we will use the Coat of Arms of our Chiefs – The Ahannas of Sorbie.

The Arms: the shield and the devices or “charges” on it.

For the Hannays of Sorbie, this is “Argent three Roebucks heads couped azure, collared or, with a bell pendant gules.”

The Helmet: there are special types for Royalty, Peers, Knights and Baronets, Feudal Barons, Esquires and Gentle men.

The Mantling: originally the cloth hanging down from the helmet. Its useful purpose was to insulate the Knight from the heat of the sun on his armor. The mantling is of the principal colors of the family.

Hannays of Sorbie: Argent (silver) and azure (blue)

The Wreath: Also known as the Torse. A skein of silk covers the join between the Crest and the Mantling, and consists of six alternative twists of the livery (colors) of the family. This adornment probably came from the Crusades, when the torse actually held the mantle to the helmet; much as the Arabs head band held his protective mantle in place about his head and shoulders.

Hannays of Sorbie: Argent and azure.

The Motto: originated on the standard and seal.

Hannays of Sorbie: Per Ardua Ad Alta – though hardship to the highest places or enlightenment.

Supporters: are only granted to peers; Knights Grand Cross; Heirs, male and female of the minor barons of Scot land and Chiefs of Old Families and Clans.

The Hannas of Mochrum were created Baronets of Nova Scotia (New Scotland), Canada, in 1629, and their supporters were two Roebucks proper (natural colors).

Several branches of the family have, over the years, registered Arms with the Lord Lyon, the Heraldic Officer for Scotland. Mostly they derive from those of the Chief – Ahannay of Sorbie, and they are to be found in the Heraldic registers of Scotland, England and Ireland.

However, each of these branches must display differences in their arms, and there are prescribed devices to differentiate from the arms of the Chief, as only the Chief may display his arms, as they are equivalent to his signature. As an example: the arms of Kirkdale originally contained a mullet (star) to designate the owner as a third son of Sorbie. Due to the demise of the Sorbie branch of the family, the Sorbie arms have been granted to the Kirkdale house, without difference, designating Kirkdale as the Chiefly line of the family.