Etruria (1884)
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Oct. 5, 2009

I am researching the history of the Ruxton family of Aberdeenshire (one of my great great grandmothers was Margaret Ruxton). Agnes Ruxton, a sister of Margaret, married a naval officer Lt. William Snowey, and one of their children, Euphemia, married a Horatio McKay in 1859 at Liverpool. As Horatio is not a common name, I was wondering if he is the same Horatio who was a captain for the Cunard lines. Euphemia McKay died in 1889, so it is possible her husband was married a second time, to Miss Elizabeth Swan, in 1894 (ref New York Times). I have no idea if Euphemia and Horatio had any children. Can anyone confirm if my guess is correct?

Peter Smith,
Vienna, Austria

Feb. 1, 2009

My Grandfather, Tom Corrigan, was able seaman on the Etruria, as I have some discharge papers of his in my possession. He sailed on 5/2/1898 to New York and discharged on 21/2/1898 in Liverpool, there is another
one from 18/12/1897-18/1/1898 also to New York. He also sailed on the Umbria, Carinthia, Anatolia, Kansas,
European and Moonlight. Tom Corrigan was later lost on the Empress of Ireland. Hope this is of some interest to you.

Sean O'Hagan
Dundalk, Ireland

Thomas Corrigan seen at left.


Thomas Corrigan's discharge paper.

Dec. 4, 2007

My great great grandfather was Benjamin L. McKay (1860 - 1909) who might have been the nephew of Horatio McKay. We know very little of Benjamin but the family story was that his uncle was a ship captain and he came to the United States working on his uncle's ship. We know he was in Illinois or Missouri in 1884 for the birth of his first child and that his wife was born in Quincy. We have only begun to look into our family history so with little to go on I hoped the "uncle" connection might lead to Benjamin's parentage in Scotland. If anyone knows of a connection or has a clue for me to follow, please write. 

Carol Abram

Nov. 9, 2008

This is in response to Elizabeth McKay's (message #3) posting dated May 29, 2008.  My name is Bob Engebretson and I am married to Heather Ann (Raymer) Engebretson, a great-granddaughter of Captain Horatio McKay. Her Mother, Penelope Raymer, is the daughter of Capt. Donald Horatio McKay. Donald was one of several
children of Capt. Horatio McKay. All of his sons had Horatio as their middle name!  

I have only scratched the surface of the McKay story and I really need to dig out notes I made during my earlier research. I have some information about Alexander (Horatio's brother, not his son) in there. Penelope has a fantastic collection of original news clippings assembled by Horatio's wife Elizabeth, including a full-page interview printed in the New York Times after his retirement where he was consulted immediately following the loss of the Titanic. The front page of that edition was taken up with first-hand accounts of survivors, and Capt. McKay's interview was all of Page 2.

I have to admit I was a bit confused by the coincidence of more than one Elizabeth McKay so many years apart.  My younger brother Tony is quite a genealogist and has done some work on the McKay family that I have not yet seen. When I first found out about the amazing McKay family's seagoing history I immediately stated that I must write a book about them. Maybe we can collaborate. I am hoping to scan all of the clippings that Penelope has, though she is a little bit apprehensive about letting the collection out of her hands. So Heather's sister, Katherine, is working with a museum archivist to ensure that we do no damage. 

It was really just happenstance that I was googling McKay information today after having set it all aside for a few years. I was looking to find out if the "Mackey" cited to Lewis & Clark in 1805 by the Chinook and Clatsop Indians of the Oregon and Washington coast near the Columbia River was perhaps just a misspelling of McKay.  Those Indians already spoke a little English due to the British and American traders they had encountered prior to the Lewis & Clark overland expedition and were able to provide a pretty complete list of names of the traders they dealt with, along with ship descriptions (but not names).  

I suspected that particular trader was perhaps Horatio's father, as the time frame was correct and Lewis and Clark were recording phonetically what the Indians told them.  Also, L&C were notoriously poor spellers. I am pretty well satisfied that Mackey was an Irish ship's surgeon who had a financial interest in the vessel he sailed and traded in. At any rate he was probably not a McKay. Enough said for now.  Please do contact me.  I constantly watch history slip through the hands of so many families, never to be retrieved; and it pains me to think it could happen to my or my wife's families.

Bob Engebretson

May 29, 2008

My Name is Elizabeth McKay My late husband was the grandson of Captain Horatio McKay who was a Cunard captain for 40 years, two of his ships being the Ertruria and the Umbria. We have recently opened A trunk which to our great delight contained some very important historical photos and documents. We are in the process of logging all the information as well as searching for any other living relatives. His father (my husband's greatgrandfather) also served on the steam ships, as well as 3 of his brothers, we have found 2 of them but cannot find any record of Alexander McKay. We are also very keen to hear from any relatives who may be living in America as he spent much of his time their. If anyone has any information on this family I would be most interested to swap the information we have discovered ?

Yours in keen interest,
Elizabeth McKay

Aug. 15, 2009 (update)

Dear Michael, my sincere apologies for the long delay, but so much has been happening since we found your site. I am writing on behalf of Elizabeth Mckay who you might remember was researching her relatives 'The Mckay brothers' all of whom were with Cunard for some 40 years, you may remember we found Horatio and his father (also Horatio) and the story of one of the 'ships' in serious trouble at sea and his bravery along with his first engineer in bringing it and the passengers and crew to safety. Since this we have uncovered so much information regarding this family and their association with many 'notable people' including royals.

Horatio made quite a name for himself and is mentioned in many articles in New York, he was married in Oyster Bay to the daughter of  one of the Swan family  (a family of some renown, authors and painters). Horatio actually had a polka written for him after the near disaster with the ship, it was called 'THE LUCANIA POLKA', we actually have the music and a short video of it being played by a well known musician. We were able to find this after being contacted by distant relatives in Alaska! You can imagine our excitement at each revelation, and we continue to uncover more information.

We just wanted to say at this stage a huge thank you to your marvelous site as after many months of searching it was your site which eventually opened the right door. We shall most certainly keep you updated as events unfold as it really is a truly remarkable story of one families deep love of the sea. PS...we also have a book written by Horatio McKay himself, and signed! titled 'A Square rigger remembers' there is so much information to follow through from this, for instance at the death of 'father' among the names of those who attended the funeral are the Roosevelt family, it seems they were neighbours in Oyster Bay at one time. Suffice to say we cannot thank you enough for this fantastic site and wish you every success for its long continuation, we have recommended it to so many people.

Thank you,
Molly Bennett and Elizabeth McKay.

Feb. 24, 2008

My name is Fraser McInnes. I am also a great grandson of a captain of Etruria!! It was captain James T. Potter, I don't know to much about him to be honest. All I have to go by is his obituary a few random pictures of him on some Cunarders and I have some of his uniform buttons, medals and a medal he won for rescuing the crew of a ship I believe while captaining Etruria in 1905. I'm really excited to be booked on the QE2's final transatlantic this Oct., so would love to know any more info on him or the Etruria before then!!

Fraser McInnes

Jan. 21, 2008

My name is Ian McMickan. I am the great-grandson of Captain William McMickan who was captain of both the Etruria, on her maiden voyage and also the Umbria. Lovely to see these images.

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