Not much is known about the Hanna/Hannay/Hannah Clan (there are many spelling variations) until about the sixteenth century. The origin of the Clan is a matter of dispute. Some say that we stemmed from the Celtic, others the Pictish, and yet others say that we are of Norse blood.
It was in the sixteenth century that our family was at the height of its power. They had become increasingly active in trade and industry in Wigtown and the surrounding areas. Various members of the Hannay family were burgesses and provosts of Wigtown at that time. They bought the estate of Kirkdale and they also owned a town house in Wigtown, for which they had royal permission to fortify.
Alexander Hannay of Sorbie may well have built the Tower of Sorbie, the pride of Clan Hannay. The land that he aquired to build the Tower was originally owned by a Norman family, the Veterponts. In 1626 the Place was sold to Sir Patrick Agnew of Lochnaw, because of a decline in the Hannay fortunes, brought about by feuding. The lands were later deeded to the Stewarts of Garlies, who took over Sorbie Tower in 1677. Later, in 1783, Samuel Hannay built a house for himself out of silver granite. This house is still held by members of the Hannay family, as is the house at Kirkdale.
Various members of the family also worked in royal courts. John Hanna was a shipmaster to the king. Others were royal tailors, commanders of artillery and falconers in the Court of James V. Patrick Hannay was a poet in the Court of James VI and also attended the king's daughter, Anne of Bohemia, as soldier and courtier.
At one time, the Hannays were outlawed in Scotland, due to feuding with their neighors, the Murrays. They moved to the plantations of Ulster, where there are still many Hannays today. Then the Clan started migrating further,and in America they became strong in the Presbyterian ministry. Now there are descendants of the Hannay line situated all over the world, with more in America than anywhere else.
In 1328 Gilbert de Sowerby witnessed a charter and it would have been he or his father who signed the Ragmans Roll as Gilbert de Hannethe in 1296 when Edward I (The Confessor) was taking names. What happened in the intervening 200 years?
The Vipont family motto was "Per Aspera ad Alta" and the fact that the Hannethe/Ahanna motto was "Per Ardua ad Alta" suggests that there was a peaceable union, possibly through marriage. But what of the Hannay/Hanna/Hannay/Hanney name itself? Stewart Francis in "The Hannays of Sorbie" speculates that HANN may be a place name and that the suffix, spelled in whatever way, represents the old word for "island". Indeed, the word "island" itself contains in its first syllable the sound to which he refers. The "pont" in Vipont undoubtedly is the old Latin root meaning "bridge". Perhaps there is some symbolism at work in the word play.
From Sorbie members of the clan rode to Sauchieburn and Flodden. In the tradition of the time, they made war on or were warred upon by their neighbors the Kennedys, Dunbars and Murrays. Some of them joined James IV on his pilgrimages to St. Ninian's shrine at Whithorn near Sorbie where there is a fascinating ongoing "dig". In 1601 a Hannay's behavior towards the Murrays was so outrageous the family was outlawed for a time.
You can trace the Francis genealogy in his book where he identifies the clan families as of Sorbie, Knockglass, Capenoch, and Kilfillan in Wigtonshire and Kirkdale across the water in the Stewartry. There he writes, "They held considerbale sway over the Machars of Galloway and the Burgh of Wigtown marched to their tune."