Churches, abbeys and chapels,  History

St Bride’s revisited

Gate into Callander graveyardSome of you may remember that in September last year I wrote about a little graveyard on the road between Callander and Loch Lubnaig, in which are buried several members of the McKinlay clan.   The graveyard once surrounded a small chapel dedicated to St Bride, and is in fact mentioned in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘The Lady of the Lake’.

On 7th September this year – strangely, it was exactly a year later, to the very day – Colin and I went there again, along with some new friends, and for a very special reason.

When I published my post it attracted quite a lot of interest from McKinlays and their relatives around the world;   several of them have a line of descent that can be traced back to this small graveyard and the people buried in it.

Among the people who got in touch with me last October was Moira Goodman from Dunfermline, who knew about the graveyard already but told me that she had greatly enjoyed the article.   Moira kindly shared with me an old photo of the graveyard, taken in 1910, and she also filled me in on the genealogy of the McKinlays of Annie, near Callander, some of whom settled in Canada in the 1800s.   Then, in August this year, a lady called Jean emailed to say that she and her husband Terry were planning on coming over from the US to see St Bride’s, where Terry’s 5 x great grandparents were buried.  I was excited to meet them, and I also felt that the two families should definitely meet up!

Specifically, both Moira and Terry can trace their lineage back to John McKinlay and Elizabeth Ferguson, who are buried at St Bride’s.  John was born in 1679, and died in 1732.  The graveyard is now quite overgrown, and the only stone still standing is that of John and Elizabeth’s son, James, who lies together with his wife, Elenora, and their son, Peter. But once you begin walking around the site you realise that there are more graves, together with what I believe are the foundations of the old chapel.

St Bride's Sept 2015 14

It was an absolute delight to meet Jean and Terry, along with Moira and her husband, Peter, on a sunny morning in Callander, and to drive the short distance to St Bride’s.   As I’ve said before, the graveyard is not the easiest place to access, lying on a sharp corner at the end of a straight section on the busy A84.   If you’re thinking of visiting it yourself, take great care in walking there and in getting your car off the road;  there’s a lay-by just a couple of hundred yards before it.

St Bride's Sept 2015 11

Moira had already visited St Bride’s and knew of its significance in her history, but for Terry and Jean it was a new and lovely experience;   I cannot think of a more beautiful spot to find as the last resting place of your ancestors.

I know that Moira, Peter, Jean and Terry explored a few more graveyards during that week, and shared a lot of anecdotes and insights about their family trees.   What a nice thing to have happened.   I am thrilled to have met them, and to have been able to bring them together.

Callander graveyard (1)You can read the full feature about St Bride’s here on The Hazel Tree.

For part of their holiday, Jean and Terry had chosen to explore Scotland with Cameron Tours, based in Dunfermline.  We enjoyed talking to the owner/driver, Dave, who has a lot of fascinating information to share about the places he visits.

Photos copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf

If you believe that you are descended from the McKinlays in St Bride’s, please feel free to contact me.


  • Fife Photos and Art

    Jo, this post is an inspiration to the rest of us. How wonderful that your previous post created the opportunity for two couples from different parts of the world to meet up and recognise their shared ancestry. Absolutely BRILLIANT!!!! Very nice photos too!

    • Jo Woolf

      That’s very true, Lorna – little did I realise something like this might happen, when I started writing about ancient sites! Yes, Jean and Terry’s family tree is SO impressive, written on a large roll of canvas. There are literally hundreds of names on it. We were even blessed with sunshine, which was quite remarkable given this year’s summer.

  • Mickey Moore

    Jo, I am descended from the McKinlay’s of The Anie and would love to be able to find more of my kin. I live in Alberta where my GG Uncle (brother to Eleanora Cameron McKinlay) worked as a factor for the Hudson’s Bay Co. His diaries are in the Alberta archives. His Uncle, Archibald McKinlay was factor at Fort Nez Perce and after it burned down, built Fort Walla Walla. He retired after a few years at Walla Walla to Savona Ferry in British Columbia. There is fascinating history connected with both men. In 2014 I drove to Athabasca where James McKinlay and his wife and some of their children are buried. He died in 1913 and she lived to be 100 and died in 1970..she was an amazing woman. I hope to learn more about my extended family around the world. Sincerely, Ms. Mickey Moore, Vermilion, Alberta.

  • Mickey Moore

    As a post script to my previous comment, I would like to point out that some of the descendants of John and Elizabeth McKinlay have the blood of Robert the Bruce running in their veins because of the marriage of John McKinlay (b.1720 son of John and Elizabeth) to Catharine Buchanan who was a ggggg? Grandaughter of The Bruce. That line goes back to William the first as well (through Buchanan and Bruce)

    • Jo Woolf

      Wow, that is some history! Fantastic. I am impressed that you have all this information, especially regarding the McKinlays in Alberta and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Hoping that I might be able to assist you via Moira to put some more pieces together. Best wishes, Jo

    • humpdogusmc

      Hello Mickey MOORE

      I was reading your post, very interesting I too am a descendant of McKinley’s… I would like to know more about names and dates, if possible … Do I need to contact someone or is something I work with you on ?

      Thanks Gary

      • Jo Woolf

        Hi there Gary, and thank you for getting in touch about the McKinlays! I would be delighted to put you in touch with both Moira and Jean. I will drop them an email with your address, and will copy to Micky as well. I know that Moira will be interested to read your comment about ‘Trooper’ McKinley. Great to hear from you, and I hope that you will be able to continue your family research! Kind regards, Jo

  • Jean

    Jo, Sorry I missed this till now. If Mickey would like a copy by computer of the family tree I have just tell her to contact me at the email address you have, ok? I so miss researching the ancestry. Maybe I will get back to it soon. Tell Moira hello for us. Jean

  • humpdogusmc

    Jo Woolf,

    Hello sir, So I was talking with a member of Clan Farquharson in North Carolina, USA and I was wearing my McKinley Great Kilt he asked me if I am a descendant of James “The trooper” McKinley because he a never seen someone in a great kilt of the McKinley’s .. To long of a story to type all out ..LOL But Anyways he gave me the information from this article … I wanted to Thank you and I would like to know more and maybe you could have my email given to Jean and Terry, and Moira and Peter to finish the genealogy that I have been working on for years … Thank You and Good day sir..

    PS . You can contact me any time

  • Mark Winzenburg

    Hi Jo. Could you put me in touch with Moira, Jean, and Mickey? I have almost no info on the roots of the McKinlay family in Scotland, but I am happy to share what I know of the story of McKinlay family in Ontario.

    • Marshall Smith

      Mark Winzenburg, I believe my Great Grandfather, William M. McKinley (1845-1873), came to Ohio through Ontario, Canada, but have been unable to find any documentation to search for proof. I am very interested in what you know of the McKinlay family in Ontario

  • Keli McKinley Hansen

    Thank you for sharing this- I’m a McKinley decedent from the Anie. Traveling there in February… this will add to the experience!

    I’m happy to have my contact info shared.
    Keli McKinley Hansen

    • Jo Woolf

      Oh lovely! Nice to hear from you, Keli and I hope you have a great time when you visit in February. Thanks for letting me know and I’ll put you in touch with Moira who I know will be delighted. Best wishes, Jo

  • Alan Simpson

    Absolutely excellent site!

    My mother is the daughter of John McKinley Hunter from Callander. John’s parents were William Hunter and Margaret Mckinley.

    My mother has told me, as a child (1930’s), being ushered into a house in Callander to view a Mckinley family tree elaborately painted on a wall or as a hanging. If pictures of this tree exist it would certainly be thrilling for my mother to see again. Anyone have any knowledge about this painted tree?

    • Jo Woolf

      Hi Alan, great to hear from you and to know of your connection! Your mother’s memory of the family tree as a painting or wall-hanging sounds fascinating – I will make enquiries! If anyone who reads this knows any more or can help, you’re welcome to email me direct (jo(at) or leave a reply below.

  • James McKinlay

    Hi Jo, i stumbled on your blog by chance really. It follows some (soul) searching on the web following the death of my father Iain back in May following a battle with cancer. He was the son of James McKinlay from Greenock who then moved to Nottingham in about 1950. My dad was a Nottingham boy but (as I am) was very proud of his Scottish roots and had done a degree of tracing of our family tree himself. This took us to visit (when i was around 15 years old in 1992) Rathlin Island as we believed our relatives had left Rathlin for Greenock generations before. When there we were introduced to a very elderly farmer who pointed to the remains of a stone building that he remembered as a child being “The McKinley Farm”. I took a stone from those ruins back with me to the East Midlands which i still keep. I like to think that theres a chance my ancestor also handled it as i have.

    The Annie is even more intriguing and has given me the urge further investigate my lineage especially as the “ay” spelling of my surname is less common than the “ey”.

    Thanks for your blog
    James McKinlay
    Father to Thomas and William McKinlay
    Son of Iain McKinlay
    Grandson of James (Hamish to his family when north of the border) McKinlay

    • Jo Woolf

      Hi James, thank you so much for your comment and for telling me about your family! That sounds so interesting, about your discovering the ‘McKinley Farm’ and keeping a stone from it. There seem to be McKinlays and McKinleys spread very widely around the world, that’s for sure! I do hope that you find your research rewarding – I’m sure it will be fascinating! I love how your grandson is called Hamish when in Scotland! If you’d like to be put in touch with my friend Moira Goodman, who has done a lot of genealogical research into her own McKinlay descent, please let me know as she’s always happy to hear from new connections. Meanwhile very best wishes, Jo

  • Jenson Lim

    Hi Jo, I am interested in the history of the church in Callander. Is St. Bride’s the original “Callander Kirk” before the congregation built the current building in South Church Street?

    I am writing an article about one aspect of this and would like to get my facts right! Thank you!

  • Marshall Smith

    My Great Grandfather was William M. McKinley (1845-1873). He was apparently the son of another William McKinley (1777, Ireland-1874), though I only know this from oral history. I believe he arrived in Canada, and came from the Canadian Province of Ontario to Ohio, where he married my Great Grandmother, Mary Amelia Van Hellen. I am interested in connecting with anyone who knows anything about these folks.

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