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William's Commanders: Hugh Mackay

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Rank: Major General. Nationality: British.

Born in 1640 in Scourie, Scotland, Mackay would marry into a Dutch mercantile family before serving with Scottish forces in the Dutch army.

During the Glorious Revolution Mackay would support the newly crowned King William III and Mary II.

General Hugh MacKay (c.1640–1692) by Nicolaes van Ravesteyn. Wikimedia Commons

Between 1689 and 1690 he was appointed military commander of William’s forces in Scotland and although suffering a defeat at the hands of James Graham’s Jacobite Highland army at the Battle of Killiecrankie (27 July 1690), Mackay was soon able to regain the initiative and all but subdued Scotland for the Williamite cause.

At the end of 1690 he was redeployed to Ireland to help mop up the remaining Jacobite forces after the Battle of the Boyne. After the war ended, with the signing of the Treaty of Limerick, he returned to fighting on the continent and commanded the British forces serving with the Dutch army as part of the Grand Alliance.

In 1692 he took to the field during the Williamite defeat at the Battle of Steenkerque. Outmanoeuvred by the French, Mackay advised William that the Alliance forces should withdraw and regroup.

William refused to retreat, and Mackay decided to return to his regiment and serve beside his own clansmen in an infantry assault he knew was doomed to failure. Upon leaving William’s presence he is supposed to have remarked, in true Scots Presbyterian spirit, “the will of the Lord be done.”

Mackay was subsequently killed while leading his men into combat.


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