McKay served as a piper with the 78th Highlanders and was one of the first five pipers officially authorized in the Regiment. While serving with the 78th in 1854 at Poona, India, he was appointed as a piper. McKay took part in the 1856-57 campaign in Persia and the Sepoy Mutiny in India.
He died of cholera in India on August 18, 1857.
Medal Entitlement: India Service Medal (1854-1895) with Persia clasp; Indian Mutiny Medal (1857-1858).