McHardy/MacHardy of Ordachoy Genealogy
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Home > The McHardy Boys, page 1

I am very grateful to the author of the following article, John Duff, for allowing me to reproduce it here. It was after reading “The McHardy Boys” and encountering for the first time the legendary origins of the family name that I began to entertain the idea of researching my own family line. The genealogy bug took complete hold after I worked through the 1866 records (compiled by one Charles McHardy and transcribed by Anna in New Zealand) and discovered the article related stories about my own 5XG Grandfather, my 4XG Grandfather, and my 5XG Grand Uncles. Granted, the major part of the article follows a branch of the Auchallater McHardys all the way to New Zealand, but it does a wonderful job of describing a certain McHardy spirit, and the Ordachoyers are related to these Auchallater McHardys through Ann of Auchallater, who was daughter to the Alister who walked to Dunvegan and who married James of Ordachoy in 1803. Moreover, it makes a very good read for anyone interested in McHardy genealogy of whatever line.

“The McHardy Boys” first appeared in The Scots Magazine in August, 1998.

About the Author
John was himself profiled in the September, 1996 issue of The Scots Magazine. Though born in Fraserburgh, he grew up in Midmar and, through his career in the Police Force and Mountain Rescue teams centered in Braemar, has become an integral part of the local community of Upper Deeside. Having arrived there in 1964 as a police constable, he retired from the Grampian Police in 1986 with the rank of Inspector in charge of the Deeside area. Besides working with the first Mountain Rescue team within the police force, John also played a lead part in establishing the civilian Braemar Mountain Rescue Association in the mid-60s. Serving the community so closely has whetted John's appetite for local history. In addition to tracking down McHardy family history, he has also provided research for The Herald on Braemar connections to R.L. Stevenson's Kidnapped, and investigated the stories of the local crofters and sometime whisky distillers and smugglers of centuries past. He is presently Vice President of the Braemar Royal Highland Society (Braemar Highland Gathering).
John Duff recalls a remarkable family
     Although Deeside has produced its fair share of distinguished sons and daughters, the Braemar McHardys are outstanding for the sheer number and diversity of those bearing the name who have left an indelible mark, not only in their native glens, but across the world.
     There are several different theories regarding the origins of the McHardys and one of the most interesting, particularly supported by circumstantial evidence, is that the family is descended from some of the biggest and strongest followers, sent at some distant date by McLeod of Raasay to serve the Earl of Mar. It is certain that, in common with the men of Raasay, the McHardy men were frequently exceptionally large and powerful, any under six feet tending to be regarded as undersized. Those who recognised any Clan Chief other than their own patriarch, gave their allegiance to the McLeod of McLeod.
     James Grant, author of Legends Of The Braes Of Mar, and himself married to a McHardy, explained the name, exclusive to the North-East, in terms of a William Tell-type encounter between a McLeod and the dreaded Malcolm Canmore. Surprised and impressed by McLeod's bravery, Canmore said, “Hardy thou art, and Hardy thou shalt be!” Thus McLeod became Hardy, and his sons MacHardy.
     John Grant Michie, the Dinnet minister and historian, described the McHardys who, until the 18th century were bonnet lairds of remote Daldownie in Glengairn, as a “wild and extravagant race”. His words were more than justified. A McHardy was almost always chosen as Captain (war leader) on Invercauld's forays into Badenoch, and scarcely a generation passed without a McHardy causing some sort of sensation. Donald of Daldownie, who, at dirk point,
forced an exciseman to eat a summons he was trying to serve: Jane in Glen Clunie, who knew the whole of the New Testament by heart: Alister, in Croft Muickan, who casually carried a boll of bere (barley) on his back some 20 miles home across the hills from Glen Isla, and then was highly amused when the Glen Isla champion's bid to emulate his feat foundered before the top of the first hill: James, who led the Braemar Riot in 1797 against the hated Militia Act, and was subsequently outlawed, and Alister, his kinsman in Auchallater, who thereafter journeyed on foot to Dunvegan to plead with the McLeod to intercede on his behalf: Donald, who severely mauled a 12-man naval press gang which was rash enough to try to impress him on the bridge at Perth: the list is a very long one.
     There is space here only to have a look at the families of John and William, sons of Alister of the boll of bere fame. This branch of the family was locally known as the “Buie” McHardys, from their one-time home in the Ballochbuie forest. William was born in 1804, and John in 1806. Both became head keepers on Mar estate, and they and their families became known throughout Scotland. They competed so successfully at the early Braemar Gatherings, before there were any official rules or records, that rules had to be framed to enable lesser mortals to have some chance of sharing the prize money. Indeed at one Gathering prior to 1832, when the first formal rules were introduced, John carried off every first prize. Of the two, he appears to have been slightly more athletic, but William was modestly described as “a great man for heavy lifts”. Indeed, on one occasion when John Lamont the carrier was temporarily absent, he quietly and as a joke put the 268lb Inver lifting stone into his cart.

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