Alexander MacKenzie and his Baharie descendants

Advertisements above

National Reward

Courage, Devotion and


By Royal Decree of the 15 September, 1856.


Has been awarded to
Captain of the Schooner "OCEAN CHILD,"

of the

On the 9th of February, 1856, the Belgian ship "Queen" was caught in a violent tempest; the ship sprung a leak, and the pumps were insufficient for the quantity of water. After twelve hours painful work, the ship in distress was perceived by the Schooner "Ocean Child," who attempted in vain to approach her. Meanwhile the danger became so great, that Captain MacKenzie hesitated no longer, but put out his boat, and was fortunate enough to save the whole crew; a short time after the vessel was swallowed up in the waves.

The Minister of the Interior,


No. 7770.

Alexander MacKenzie and his Baharie descendants

Chris Brookes (CONTACT INFO) lives at Sunderland in England. A few years ago she became aware that one of her relatives, William George Baharie of Sunderland, married Murdina McKenzie, a daughter of Alexander McKenzie of Reiff in 1877. Most of the following information on Alexander came to me from several descendants of Reiff MacKenzies in various parts of the world, with the information on the Baharie family of Sunderland coming from Chris.

Alexander McKenzie

Alexander McKenzie was christened 26 February 1815 at Reiff in the Coigach Barony of Lochbroom Parish, Ross and Cromarty, a child of Murdo McKenzie and Mary Kerr. His father Murdo's parents were another Murdo McKenzie, and Mary McLean, and there are over a thousand descendants of that couple traced by many genealogists through eight generations to the present!

Alexander shows up in the 1841 census at Reiff 41-8 aged 25 to 29 years of age. He was living then in the home of his parents along with seven other relatives, all the males in the Household, down to 10 year old Roderick, were listed as "Fisher and Crofter".

Neil McKenzie MacLennan, a retired Chief Constable of Police, in 1939 wrote a history of the MacLennan family of Reiff, and included information on the MacKenzies, who were also ancestors of his. Roddy MacLeod in Scotland (CONTACT INFO), and Donald MacLeod in New Zealand (CONTACT INFO), have sent me some details from that history, and say Neil remarked that four of Alexander's uncles moved to Sunderland or Newcastle where they had a small shipping concern.

Sometime after 1841 Alexander moved south to Gorbals in Lanark, an area now part of Glasgow. The I.G.I. shows his marriage there either 5 or 6 November 1848 to Margary Robertson, and the birth of their daughter Ann 5 September, 1849 (with Ann's christening 25 November, 1849).

The family then seems to have moved north-east, as Alexander and Margary's daughter Murdina was born about 1852 at Inverness (according to the 1861 and 1871 censuses).

It is not certain yet how long the family stayed at Inverness, but the birth of a third daughter, Margaret Alexanderina MacKenzie, was registered 2 January, 1857 at Banff, and a son Alexander also there 7 March, 1860. The 1861 census gives their birthplace in BanffShire as Macduff.

I suspect Alexander went to work for his uncles shipping concern as in 1856 he is given a lifesaving "Reward" as Captain of the schooner "Ocean Child", of the Port of MacDuff. Gwen Smith in Tasmania (CONTACT INFO) has sent me a photo of the framed scroll describing Alexander's heroism. I have transcribed the scroll at the top of this file (TOP OF FILE). Greg Wighton (CONTACT INFO), also in Tasmania, is married to a descendant of Alexander's brother John. Greg has the gilt framed scroll that was the source of the photo Gwen mailed.

A great grandson of Murdina who lives in Sunderland recently gave Chris a copy of the Reward scroll passed down in the Baharie family. We have not yet had a chance to compare the Tasmania and Sunderland versions, but it seems likely they are both part of the same print run, amazing that branches of the family now unknown to each other have both treasured the same document from 1856 till today!

The Reward document was originally printed by J Tate, Printer, Sunderland. Chris says there is also a handwritten copy which has the word Translation written on the top left hand corner. The word REWARD has been translated differently, so that the title reads National Récompense, Courage, Devotion, Humanity. Possibly the manuscript version was an original translation from the French, and was sent to the printer who shortened that one word for appearance sake.

In the 1861 census the four children are with their McKenzie grandparents at Reiff in Coigach. By time of daughter Murdina's marriage in 1877 Alexander is noted as deceased. A 13 December, 1862 article in The Scotsman, credited there to "Northern Ensign" regarding the loss of four ships including "Ocean Child" I think notes his death;

-- All hope of the safety of the four vessels belonging to this and neighbouring ports which have been missing is now nearly dissipated. Of these vessels two -- the Maria and Stemster -- belong to this port, and had eight men on board. The schooner Ocean Child of Macduff, which sailed from Dantzic for the East Coast early in October, and the Providence of Fraserburgh, are the other two. In all eighteen men compose the crews, nine of whom were married. The Ocean Child is believed to have been the vessel which was seen off the Dogger Bank in distress by the crew of another ship, who despatched a crew with two men to their relief. The crew had succeeded in getting on board, but had unfortunately taken some chests with them, by which the small boat was overloaded and swamped, occasioning the loss of the six men of the Ocean Child and of their two brave deliverers.
--Northern Ensign.

Murdina McKenzie

Murdina was born sometime from 1852 to 1854 at Inverness, to parents Alexander McKenzie of Reiff, and Margary Robertson from LanarkShire. She had a sister Ann born at Gorbals in 1849, a sister Margaret born at Macduff in Banff in 1857, and a brother Alexander also born at Macduff, in 1860.

In the 1861 census Murdina and her three siblings were with their father Alexander's parents at Reiff 61-9, the three oldest (including 4 year old Margaret) listed as scholars.

Chris says Murdina shows up in the 1871 census as a domestic servant at the address where the Baharie family lived and worked. Murdina's parents and siblings have not yet been traced in the 1871 census.

Murdina next turns up in her marriage registration to William George Baharie 22 October 1877 at St Paul Hendon, Sunderland.

By time of the 1881 census Murdina and her husband are at Bishopwearmouth, in Durham England, with the first two of their six children.

There is a letter from Murdina's sister Ann "Scott McLeod" in Brooklyn in 1917 sent to Murdina's daughter, which also mentions "Aunt Margaret", and photos from that period of "Mrs MacLeod", and her son John, so it appears Murdina kept up correspondance with her sisters.

In her old age, 1920, Murdina asked the Scottish Records Office the charge for searching for the death registration of Murdoch Mackenzie, and the marriage registration of Rod McKenzie. Presumably Murdoch was her namesake, her grandfather, and Rod was probably her first cousin Roderick, who was with her at their grandparents home at Reiff in the 1861 census.

Chris says Murdina died about 1925 in Sunderland. She has done lots of research on the Baharie family Murdina married into, and says descendants of Murdina McKenzie and William George Baharie still live in Sunderland!

Sunderland Baharie Family

Alexander Baharie opened the first school of Navigation in Sunderland and the family were nautical instrument makers there. The Baharie family are said to be originally from Athole.

Alexander Baharie was the father of William George who married Murdina McKenzie in 1877. Alexander was born 15 August 1802 Sunderland, son of Alexander said to be born at Dundee, and grandson of Alexander said to have been born at Athole. Chris has not yet been able to verify the places of birth of the oldest two, as she has not had the information very long.

Chris says there is in the library in Sunderland a set of documents called the Corder Manuscripts. Corder was a local historian who documented many families in Sunderland, his work amounts to many volumes. Chris has copies of Corder's work for both Baharie and McKenzie, though on her first look through she could not see a separate listing for McKenzie. Chris says Corder could have lumped them all together because although there are trees and personal notes in his work a lot of it is where he transcribed the parish records for future reference. Chris is planning a visit to Sunderland and will take a closer look at the records, though she says the Baharie info she earlier collected there has proved quite usefull.


It looks like the earlier guess that Alexander McKenzie went to work for his uncles in Sunderland as Captain of one of their schooners was correct, and his daughter Murdina married William George Baharie of Sunderland, whose family were makers of nautical instruments, and founded the first school of navigation there.

Chris has done a lot of research on the Baharies of Sunderland, in consultation with others and sources such as the Corder Manuscripts in Sunderland. She says one of the tantalising things for her is that though a lot of Alexander Baharie's possessions, including letters, were given to the museum in Sunderland, the museum has been closed for over a year for restoration. She hopes the museum will be open later this year when she next visits Sunderland. Though the curator has been very helpful in the past, Chris at that time had no idea of the collection there.

This file, and others dealing with history and genealogy of Coigach, links from my homepage at:

Any suggestions for additions or edits please feel free to email me,

Donald MacDonald-Ross, at:

Sign the Guestbook!

Sign or read the new Guestbook, HERE

Old Guestbook, March 1999 - March 2012, is archived, click HERE to view.

Unfortunately, a systems problem at Rootsweb a few years ago led to losing years of messages from 2012 forward, am trying to launch a new guestbook end of March, 2020.

Advertisements below