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Deighton, Bell & Co U 




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F.S.A. (Scot), 

From a Portrait by 
Sir Qeorge Reld, JP.h.B.A. 
in Scottish National 
Portrait Qallery. 
(By Permiiision). 






William F. Skene, ll.d. 

F.S.A. (Scot.) 
Edited, with Excursus and Notes, by 

Alexander Macbain, m.a., ll.d. 

Author of "'An Etyniological Gaelic Dictionary"; Editor of 
" History of Clan Matkeson" " Reliqicice Celtica" Ssr°c. 

P: N E A S M A C K A Y 


I 902 

Z^t i>enh»xet' (preee, ^ttrftng. 

\_Origi?uil Title-Page.\ 























Other Works by IV. F. Skeuc\ LL.D. 


Ancient d^aeltc ^ortru. 

THE DEAN OF LISMORE'S BOOK. A Selection of Ancient 
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M'(}regor, Dean of Lismor.e, in the beginning of the Sixteenth 
Century. [Introduction and Additional Notes.] i vol. 8vo, 
with Facsimiles. 1 2s. 


^ncunt (CljronkUs. 

Memorials of Scottish History. Published by the Authority of 
the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, under the 
direction of the Lord Clerk-Register of .Scotland. In i vol. 8vo. 


Hlaljn of 3fortrun. 

English Translation, edited with Introduction and Notes. 2 vols. 
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Ctnnrir .^rotlauD. 

Cymric Poems attributed to the Bards of the Sixth Century. 
2 vols. With .Maps and Facsimiles. . Price 36s. 

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THE CORONATION STONE. Small 4to. With Illustrations in 
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''' Heureux le peuple dont Vhistoire eniiuie" say the French, and if this 
be a just criterion of national prosperity, it must be confessed that the 
Highlanders of Scotland have no mean claim to be considered as one of 
the happiest people in Europe. Just as this remark may be with regard 
to Highland history, it would not be easy to assign a reason for it, still 
less to account for the general neglect which the history of that people 
has experienced, in an age when the early annals of almost every nation 
have been examined, and their true origin and history determined, with 
a talent and success to which no other period can show a parallel. 

The cause of this somewhat remarkable fact may, perhaps, be traced 
to the influence of that extraordinary prejudice against the Celtic race in 
general, and against the Scottish and Irish branches of that race in par- 
ticular, which certainly biased the better judgment of our best historians, 
who appear to have regarded the Highlands with somewhat of the spirit 
of those who said of old, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth."' 
But it is mainly to be attributed to the neglect, by the indiscreet 
supporters of Highland fables, of that strictly critical accuracy, in point 
of evidence and of reasoning, so indispensable to the value of historical 
research ; the want of which infallibly leads to the loose style of argument 
and vague assumption so remarkably characteristic of that class ot 
writers, and tends unfortunately to draw down upon the subject itself 
no small share of that ridicule to which the authors were more justly 
liable. The prevailing error which appears to me to have misled almost 
all who have as yet written upon the subject, has been the gratuitous 
assumption, not only by those whose writings are directed against the 
claims of the Highlanders, but also by their numerous defenders, that 
the present Highlanders are the descendants ot the ancient Scotti, who, 
in company with the Picti, so often ravaged the Roman provinces in 
Britain. Nor have either party deemed it necessary to bring either 
argument or authority in support of their assumption. The Scots, as 
will be shewn in the sequel, were unquestionably a colony issuing from 
Ireland in the sixth century ; and thus, while the one party triumphantly 


asserts the Irish origin of the Highlanders, their defenders have hitherto 
directed their efforts to the fruitless attempt of proving that the Scots 
were the original inhabitants of the country. 

The attention of the Author was directed to this subject by an 
advertisement of the Highland Society of London, making offer of a 
premium for the best History of the Highland Clans : his Essay proved 
the successful one, and the Highland Society deemed his Work worthy 
of the attention of the public, and requested that it might be published. 
Since that period the Author has been enabled to make many important 
additions to the original Essay, and has considerably altered its plan 
and arrangement. In collecting the materials of the present Work, the 
Author has to acknowledge the very liberal assistance which he has 
received from many of his literary friends in Scotland ; and he feels that 
it would be improper to allow this opportunity to escape without 
acknowledging the very great obligations which he has been laid under 
by Donald Gregory, Efq., Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries of 
Scotland, for the valuable and important communications which he has 
at all times so liberally made to the Author: and also by Mr. T. G. 
Repp, for the able assistance which he has rendered to the Author in 
the earlier part of his enquiry. 

In presenting this Work to the public it will be necessary to say a 
few words regarding the system of history developed in it. A glance at 
the Table of Contents will shew that that system is entirely new ; that it 
is diametrically opposed to all the generally received opinions on the 
subject, and that it is in itself of a nature so startling, as to require a 
very rigid and attentive examination before it can be received. The 
Author had, from a very early period, been convinced that the present 
system was erroneous, and that there was in it some fundamental error, 
which prevented the elucidation of the truth. Accordingly, after a long 
and attentive examination of the early authorities in Scottish history, 
together with a thorough investigation of two new and most valuable 
sources — viz., the Icelandic Sagas in their original language and the 
Irish Annals — he came to the conclusion, that that fundamental error 
was the supposed descent of the Highlanders from the Dalriadic Scots, 
and that the Scottish conquest in the ninth century did not include the 
Highlands. Proceeding upon this basis, the system of history developed 
in the following pages naturally emerged ; and in it will be found the 
first attempt to trace the Highlanders, and to prove their descent, step 
by step, from the Caledonians — an attempt which the incontrovertible 
Irish origin of the Dalriadic Scots has hitherto rendered altogether 
unsuccessful. The Author is aware that to many this system may 


appear wild and visionary, but he feels confident that a perusal of the 
chain of reasoning contained in the first few chapters, will be sufificient 
to satisfy any unprejudiced enquirer that the true origin of the High- 
landers is therein ascertained, and that their descent from the Caledonians 
rests upon historic authority of no ordinary strength. The same remarks 
which apply generally to the origin of the Highlanders, are true also with 
regard to the Highland clans : the descent of each of these has been 
traced and proved from the most authentic documents, while the 
absurdity of the Irish origins of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
as well as the Scandinavian dreams of later historians, have been shewn. 
With these remarks, the Author leaves his \\^ork to the judgment of 
the public, and he may conclude with the words of a celebrated foieign 
historian, " There can be no greater enjoyment to the inquisitive mind 
than to find light where he has hitherto found nothing but darkness. 
]More than once I have experienced this agreeable sensation in the 
progress of the present investigation, and I may venture with the more 
confidence to deliver this A\'^ork from my hands to the reader, because 
happily I can safely assert, that much which formerly appeared to him 
only in doubtful and obscure gloom, will now be seen in the full and 
clear light of day." 


Dr. Skene's first and most popular work, "The Highlanders of 
Scotland," appeared in two small volumes sixty-five years ago, and for 
the greater part of that period it has been out of print, and is now 
extremely scarce, with the consequent enhancement of price. The 
author did not produce a second edition, as he had in view the produc- 
tion of a more elaborate work covering the same ground ; and this he 
published in 1876- 1880 in three volumes, under the title of "Celtic 
Scotland." In this work Dr. Skene did not, however, condescend to 
the writing of an account of the origins of the individual Highland 
clans as he did in the earlier work, that, indeed, forming the bulk of the 
second volume of the " Highlanders." The consequence of this has 
been that those of the public who interest themselves in clan history — 
and they are many — have to consult the second volume of the " High- 
landers," and there is thus a much-felt want for a second and accessible 
edition. Besides this, it is well known that the smaller book, with its 
definiteness of narrative and youthful assurance, is still read in preference 
to the elaboration and judicial balancing of "Celtic Scotland." It is to 
meet this public preference and public want that this — the second — 
edition of the early book has been undertaken ; but it was felt that the 
defects of a work, published at a time when modern Celtic scholarship 
was only just beginning in Ireland and on the Continent the great 
career which it has been running ever since with ever-increasing volume, 
should be pointed out in notes and appendices. Some errors in the 
book are continually reproduced in treatises and articles bearing on High- 
land history, though these errors have been carefully, if silently, 
eradicated in "Celtic Scotland." The Editor's first duty has been to 
bring the work up, in his notes, to the standard of Dr. Skene's latest 
expressed views ; he has also made the corrections that two decades of 
scholarship (1880- 1902) have made necessary, 

The Editor has, besides, taken advantage of this occasion to 
emphasise and make clear the one great disservice which Dr. Skene has 
done to the history of his country ; and that is his theory that the Picts, 


in language and race, were Gaelic. In the preface to the present work 
Skene warns his readers that the system of history developed in it is 
''diametrically opposed to all the generally received opinions on the 
subject, and that it is itself of a nature so startling as to require a very 
rigid and attentive examination before it can be received." This is very 
true : Skene had reversed all that the Scottish Chronicles told of the 
Picts and of the Scottic Conquest, and had rejected the testimony of 
contemporaries that the Picts spoke a language of their own, and had 
manners and customs peculiar to themselves. Few now, even of those 
that write histories, seem to know that Skene's views of Scottish 
ethnology and early history are entirely revolutionary. His "uniformi- 
tarian " theory of Gaelic-speaking Picts seems so natural that people 
forget to look at the original authorities and see for themselves how 
extraordinarily Skene has dealt with these. County histories, Clan 
histories, and general Scottish histories presently in course of publication, 
accept Skene's views, either without doubt or with little demur, or even 
with a jocose gaiety that makes the latest of them "go one better." 
A7id yet no present-day Celtic scholar — and many have written on the 
subject — holds Skene^s views that the Picts spoke Gaelic. It is full time 
now that this should be recognised, and that the old position of the 
Chronicles should be once more reverted to. 

The original text and notes of the " Highlanders of Scotland " have 
been reproduced intact, first, and separate from all editorial matter, 
which comes at the end of the book. Even the misprints of the earlier 
edition have been left ; they were so unimportant that it was thought 
best to leave them in a work claiming to be an exact reproduction of 
the original text. A portrait of Dr. Skene and a revised edition of 
Ptolemy's map of Scotland are also added, together with a much-needed 


William Forbes Skene was born at Inverie, in Kincardineshire, in 
1809. His father was James Skene of Rubislaw, near Aberdeen, Scott's 
great friend, a lawyer and litterateur ; his mother was a daughter of Sir 
William Forbes of Pitsligo. Young Skene was reared among surround- 
ings that brought him into contact with the best literary men of that 
day in Scotland. He received his early education in Edinburgh High 
School, and even at that early age he devoted some attention to Gaelic, 
which was no doubt natural, as he was connected maternally with the 
Glengarry family. Besides, being somewhat delicate as a young lad, he 
was, on Scott's suggestion, sent to Laggan, in Badenoch, to board with 
the famous (iaelic scholar, Dr. Mackintosh Mackay. These facts 
account for his devotion to Celtic history, and also, no doubt, as has 
been suggested, for his bias towards the families of Cluny and Glengarry 
as against Mackintosh and Clanranald. In 1824 he went to Germany, 
where he sojourned for a year and a half, and where he acquired a taste 
for philology, which, however, never passed the amateur stage with him. 
Thereafter he attended St. Andrew's University for a session, and for 
another Edinburgh University, and being destined for the legal profession 
he served his legal apprenticeship with his relative, Sir William Jardine, 
and became W.S. in 1832. He held an appointment in the Court of 
Session for many years, becoming latterly Depute-Clerk of Court. In 
the meantime he had become the head of a prominent legal hrm, a 
position which he held to his death. It is interesting to note that 
Robert Louis Stevenson spent some of his time trying to learn law in 
Dr. Skene's firm. In the later years of his life he devoted himself, in 
the comparative freedom which he attained from business cares and 
engagements, to putting his thoughts and researches in Scoto-Celtic 
history into shape, and "Celtic Scotland" appeared in 1876-1880 in 
three volumes — his magnum opus. He succeeded Burton in 1881 as 
Historiographer Royal for Scotland, and had been made LL.D. of 
Edinburgh University and D.C.L, of Oxford in 1879. Dr. Skene took 
much interest in religious and philanthropic work, and produced in this 


connection a work entitled "(iospel History for the Young" (3 vols., 
1883-4). In Church polity he belonged to the Episcopalian communion. 
He died at Edinburgh, unmarried, in August, 1892. 

His first work was the " Highlanders of Scotland," published in 1837. 
He contributed many valuable papers to the " Proceedings of the Society 
of Antiquaries "; in 1862 he wrote a long preface to Dr. Maclachlan's 
edition of the " Book of the Dean of Lismore," where he defends 
Macpherson's Ossian ; he edited the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots in 
1867 — a most valuable work containing most Irish and Scottish 
documents relating to the ancient history of Scotland ; next year he 
issued the Foi/r Aticient Books of Wales in two volumes, with an 
elaborate introduction ; and he edited Fordun and Reeves's " Adamnan " 
for the Historians of Scotla/id series. Lastly came his chief work, 
■' Celtic Scotland." The second volume of this work, dealing with the 
••( "hurch and Culture," is the best piece of work that Skene has done; 
the first and last volumes are not so satisfactory. They are both spoiled 
by his ethnologic views in regard to the Picts. Much of the third 
volume applies only to the Irish tribes, the Picts being supposed to be 
like them in polity and culture. Of Dr. Skene's intellectual qualities, 
I'rof. Mackinnon says (Proceedings of Royal Soc. of Edinburgh, 1894) : 
" He had a vigorous intellect, a powerful memory, a judgment in the 
main calm and clear. He possessed in no small measure, the con- 
structive faculty that was able to fit together into whole isolated facts 
gathered from many quarters, the historical imagination that could 
clothe the dry bones with flesh and skin, and make the dead past live 
again." Dr. Skene was undoubtedly possessed of high constructive 
ability, but he was weak in the critical faculty. This is shown in his 
method of dealing with his authorities and his historic materials. The 
Sagas, for example, throw little real light on Scottish history from 800 to 
1057 : yet Skene undertakes to write the history of Scotland for that 
period by their light. His belief in the " Albanic Duan " as against the 
native Chronicles is another case. The Celts of Scotland, however, owe 
Dr. Skene a deep debt of gratitude, for he was the first to draw their 
early history out of the slough into which it had got, and to make it 
respectable. For this end he lent the weight of his learning and position 
to the cause of the Scottish Celt at a time when it was sorely needed ; 
and he made writers of Scottish history devote fuller attention to the 
Celtic side of Scottish affairs. 



Frontispiece — Portrait of Author. 



Original Title-Pagk, 




Author's Preface, 


Preface to Second Edition, 


Life of Dr. .Skene, 




The original Colonisation of Britain — The Picts and Caledonians 
proved to be the same People — The Dalriadic Scots an Irish 
Colony of the Sixth Century, ... ... ... ... ... i 

The State of the Scottish Tribes in the year 731 — Their Territories — 

Internal Condition — Principles of Succession — Government, ... 14 

The Scottish Conquest — Its effects did not extend to the Northern 
Picts, but were confined exclusively to the Southern Picts, or 
Picts inhabiting the Lowlands — The Northern Picts were 
altogether unaffected by that Conquest, and remained in some 
degree independent of the Scottish dynasty, which then began 
to rule over the greater part of Scotland, 30 


The Northern Picts called themselves Gael, spoke the Gaelic 
language, and were the real ancestors of the modern High- 
landers, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 44 




C^icneral History of the Highlands from the first Norwegian invasion 
of that district to the accession of Malcolm Kenmore, and to 
the termination of the Norwegian kingdom of the Highlands 
and Islands, ... ... ... .-■ ••• ■•• ••• •■• 5^ 


General History of the Highlands, from the accession of Malcolm 
Kenmore to the termination of the history of the Highlanders 
as a peculiar and distinct people, in the abolition of heritable 
jurisdictions and the introduction of sheep farming, 79 


Constitution and Laws of the Highlanders — Clanship — Law of Suc- 
cession — Law of Marriage, and Gradation of Ranks 99 


Religion of the Highlanders — The Culdee Church — Its Constitution 
and form of Government — Poetry — Ossian considered as an 
historical Poet — New pi-oof of his authenticity — Music, ... ii8 


The Highland Dress — Three Varieties of Dress worn previous to the 
Seventeenth Century ; and their Antiquity — Arms and Armour 
— Character of the Highlanders, ... ... ... 142 

The Seven Provinces of Scotland, 157 



Traditional Origins of the Highland Clans— History of Highland 
Tradition — Succession of false Traditions in the Highlands — 
Traces of the oldest and true Tradition to be found — Effect to 
be given to the old Manuscript Genealogies of the Highland 
Clans, ... ... ... ... ... •.• •■• ••• ••• 175 


I. The Gallgael, 190 

Argyll, 194 

I. Siol Cuinn 196 

1. Clan Rory, or Matrorys,... ... ... ... ... 208 





2. Clan Donald, or Macdonnells, 211 


Clan Donald, continued, ... ... ... ... ... 232 

3. Clan Dugall, or Macdugalls, 242 

II. Siol Gillevray, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 247 

1. Clan Neill, or Macneills, 248 

2. Clan Lachlan, or Maclachlans, ... ... ... ... 250 

3. Clan Ewen, or Macewens, ... ... ... ... 251 

III. Siol Eachern, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 252 

1. Clan Dugall Craignish, or Campbells of Craignish, ... 252 

2. Clan Lamond, or Lamonds, ... ... ... ... 253 


Atholl, ... ••• 256 

I\'. Clan Donnachie, or Robertsons, 264 

\'. Clan Pharlane, or Macfarlanes, ... ... ... ... 270 


II. -Moray, 278 

I. Clan Chattan, or Macphersons,... ... ... ... ... 284 


II. Clan Cameron, or Camerons, ... ... ... ... ... 299 

III. Clan Nachtan, or Macnachlans, ... ... ... ... 304 

I\'. Clan Gille-eon, or Macleans, 306 

\'. Siol O'Cain, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 312 

1. Clan Roich, or Alonros, ... ... ... ... ... 313 

2. Clan (3iIlcmhaol, or Macmillans, ... ... ... 315 


III., ' 318 

I. Clan Anrias, or Rosses, ... ... ... ... ... ... 322 

II. Clan Kenneth, or Mackenzies,... ... ... ... ... 325 

III. Clan Mathan, or Mathiesons, ... ... ... ... 331 

IV. Siol Alpine, 331 

1. Clan Gregor, or Macgregors, ... ... ... ... 332 

2. Clan Grant, or Grants, ... ... ... ... ... 339 

3. Clan Fingon, or Alackinnons, ... ... ... ... 341 

4. Clan Anaba, Macnabs, ... ... ... ... ... 343 

5. Clan Dufifie, or Macphies, ... ... ... ... 344 

6. Clan Quarrie, or Macquarries, ... ... ... ... 345 

7. Clan Aulay, or Macaulays, ... ... ... ... 345 





I\'. (rARMORAX, • 


I. Clan Leod, or Macleods, 


II. Clan Campbell, or Campbells, 


V. Caithness, 


I. Clan Morgan, or Mackays, 


VI. Ness, 


I. Clan Nical, or Macnicols, 


\'II. Sutherland, 



.• 371 

Table of the Descent of the Highland Clans, 






... m 





Excursus and Notes, 




Ptolemy's Map of Scotland, 

Facing page 8 





The Original Colonization of Britain — The Picts and Cale- 

Scots an Irish Colony of the Sixth Century. 

Colonization The original colonization of Britain, as of most 
of Britain. countries, is involved in considerable obscurity ; but 
although this obscurity arises in some degree from the distance 
of time to which we must look back, and the scanty materials 
which have corne down to us, yet much of the uncertainty 
which has hitherto invested the subject, and of the controver- 
sies to which that uncertainty has necessarily given rise, is to 
be attributed to the want of a proper discrimination of the 
authorities for the early history of Britain. It is not unusual 
to find, even in writers of the present day, authors of the third 
and of the thirteenth centuries quoted as of equal authority,, 
and equal reliance apparently placed upon their statements ; 
while, on the other hand, we see others wholly neglect the 
authentic historians, and build their theories upon the monkish 
fables of the middle ages. The authorities upon 
for the early wliich the gcnuino history of Scotland is princi- 
pally grounded may, with a view to the reliance 
which we ought to place upon them, and their importance for 
the earlier history, be divided into three classes. Of these the 



„ first class consists of the Roman authors, who wrote 

Roman an- ' 

thore. while the Romans retained possession of the greater 

part of Britain ; these excellent historians, from their antiquity, 
the attention and accuracy with which they were accustomed to 
examine the history and manners of their barbaric foes, and 
the fidelity of their representations, ought to be ranked as first 
in importance, and it is exclusively from them that the great 
leading facts in the early history of the country ought to be 

Monkish ^" ^^^^ second class w^e may place the early 

writers. monkish writers, as Bede, Gildas, Nennius, Adom- 

nan, &c. Much of the error into which former writers have 
been led, has arisen from an improper use of these authors ; 
they should be consulted exclusively as contemporary historians, 
• — whatever they assert as existing or occurring in their own 
time, or shortly before it, we may receive as true ; but when we 
consider the perverted learning of that period, and the little 
information which they appear to have possessed of the tradi- 
tions of the people around them, we ought to reject their fables 
and fanciful origins, as altogether undeserving of credit. 

The last class consists of what may be termed the 

A 1^ 1^ O 1 1 O^ Q 

Annalists. These are partly native writers of Scot- 
land, partly the Irish and Welsh annalists, and are of the greatest 
use for the more detailed history of the country. The native 
Annals consist of those generally termed the Latin Lists, viz., 
the Pictish Chronicle, Chronicles of St. Andrew's, Melrose, 
Sanctae-crucis, and others, and also of the Albanic Duan, a 
Gaelic historical poem of the eleventh century. The Irish 
annals are those of Tighernac, also of the eleventh centur}', and 
by far the best and most authentic chronicle we have. The 
annals of Innisfallen, Buellan, and Ulster, works of the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth centuries.^ The Welsh annals are prin- 

' Tliroughout this work reference is of John Pinkerton. Those parts of 

made only to the accurate versions of the Annals which relate to Scotland 

the Albanic Duan and the Irish An- have been printed by me, with a 

nals published by Dr. Charles O'Con- literal translation, in the Collectanea 

nor, little credit being due to the de Rebus Albanicis, edited by the 

inaccurate transcript of Johnston, lona Club, 
and still less to the dishonest version 


cipally the Triads, written, if we may judge from internal 
evidence, between the sixth and ninth centuries ; and the annals 
of Carradoc of Nant Garvan, who lived in the thirteenth century. 
Besides these, much light is thrown upon the history of Scot- 
land during the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, by the 
Norse Sagas.^ 

Proceeding upon the principle of this classilication, it is 
plain, that in order to determine the original colonization of 
„ . . , , Scotland, and to establish the great leading facts 

Original colo- ' c> o 

nization^to be ^f j^-g early history, we must turn exclusively to the 
from the Ro- Roman authors ; and we shall find that although 

man authors -^^-^ j o 

*"''y- the information contained in them is scanty, yet that 

when they are considered without reference to later and less 
trustworthy authorities, they afford data amply sufficient for 
this purpose. The earliest authentic notice of the British isles 
and of their inhabitants which we possess, appears to be the 
voyage of Hamilcar, the Carthaginian, in the fifth century 
before the incarnation, as described by Festus Avienus ; from 
that account it may be inferred that at that period the larger 
island was inhabited by a people called Alhioncs, 
habitants were while the Gens Hibernorum possessed the smaller 

the Albiones. . , , , . i i i • t- ^ i • 

island, to which they gave their name. 2 Jr'rom this 
period we meet with little concerning these islands, except the 
occasional mention of their names, until the arms of Julius 
Caesar added Britain to the already overgrown empire of the 
Romans. 3 When Caesar landed upon that island its name had 
already changed from the more ancient appellation of Albion 
to that of Britannia ; and although he calls the inhabitants 
indiscriminately Britanni, yet it appears from his account, that 

' Reference is liere made also to the Propinqiia rursus insula Albionum 

originals of these very important patet." 

historians, and the author must in —Festus Avienus de Oris Maritimis, 

like manner protest agaiust the v. 35. 

authority of Torfseus. „_,, ,^ ^ ^. , ^, „ -x- 1 

•' 5 The oldest notice of the British 

'" Ast hinc duobus in sacram — sic in- isles is undoubtedly that contained in 

sulam a Treatise of the World, generally 

Dixere Prisci— solibus cursus rati est : attributed to Aristotle. In this trea- 

Hsec inter undas multum cespitem tise they are called Albion and lerne, 

jacit, which appear to be their most ancient 

Eamque late gens Hibernorum colit ; appellations. 


they consisted at that time of two races, strongly distinguished 
from each other by their manners, and the relative state of 
civiHzation to which they had advanced. The one race in- 
habited the interior of the country, and all tradition of their 
origin seemed to have been lost ; while the other race, which 
inhabited the more maritime parts of the island, were acknow- 
ledged to have proceeded from Belgium. From this we may 
infer, that the inland people were principally the ancient 
Albiones, while the others were a new people, termed 

The Britanni. ... , r i • i i i i 

Britanm, who by the conquest oi the island had 
imposed upon it their name.^ 

At the same period, too, it would seem that Ireland had 
received a new race of people, termed Scotti, as in the cosmo- 
graphy attributed to yEthicus, and said to have been 
drawn up by the orders of Julius Caesar, we find it 
inentioned that Ireland was inhabited by Gentibiis Scotoruni\~ 
Sidonius Apollinaris also mentions the Scots as having been 
amoncs: the enemies of Caesar. 3 That these Scots are to be dis- 
tinguished from the more ancient Hiberni, is clear from the lives 
of St. Patrick, the most ancient notices perhaps which we have 
of the state of that island. 4 But even independently of that, we 
should be led to the same result by analogy, the name of Scotia 
having gradually superseded that of Hibernia, in the same 
manner as the name of Britannia had previously superseded that 
of Albion. It would thus appear, that in the time of C?esar, each 
of the British isles had received a new race of inhabitants, the 
Britanni and the Scotti, in addition to the old possessors, the 
Albiones and the Hiberni. 

The next author from whom we derive any information 
relative to the inhabitants of Britain is Tacitus, who, from the 
peculiar sources of information which he possessed, and his 
general credit as an historian, is the more worthy of attention, s 
From the few remarks which he makes on the different inhabi- 

• Ca?sar de Bello Gallico, v. 12. ' " Fuderit et quanquam Scotum." — 

^''Cceli solisque temperie magis Sidon, Apollinar. Car. vii., 1. 90. 

utilis Hibernia a Scotorum gentibus * See Innes's Critical Essay, vol. ii., 

colitur: Menavia insula seque ac for a clear demonstration of this 

Hibernia Scotorum gentibus habi- fact. 

tatur." . ' Tacitus in Vita Agricola, 11. 


tants of Britain, it would appear that, in the time of Agricola, 
they were principally distinguished into three races ; viz., the 

Britanni, the Silures, and the inhabitants of Cale- 
ign^oia'Ther! clouia. Of these, he remarks the resemblance between 
racet ;* Mten- ^he Britanui and the inhabitants of Gaul, both in their 
CaiedonTL ^"^"^ outward appearance and in their language ; ^ they 

seem therefore to have been the same people with 
Caesar's Britanni, who inhabited the maritime parts of Britain ; 
and they appear during the interval between these two writers 
to have pushed their conquests in some places even as far as the 
western sea, and to have obtained possession of the greater part 
of the island. 

That the Silures and Caledonii were not of the 
were*^th^°°e" Same race, and could not both have been remnants of 
AMonel ^^'^ the Albiones or Britons, who inhabited the interior 

during the time of Caesar, appears sufficiently plain 
from the very marked distinction which Tacitus draws between 
them, and from the different origin which he is consequently 
disposed to assign to them. But when we consider the fact, that 
the name of Albion or Albania was afterwards exclusively con- 
fined to the northern part of Britain, joined to the constant 
tradition recorded both b\' the Welsh and native writers, that its 
inhabitants were peculiarly entitled to the distinctive appellation 
of Albani or Albanich ; it seems obvious that we must view the 
inhabitants of Caledonia, which certainly included the whole of 
the nations inhabiting to the north of the Firths of Forth and 
Clyde,2 as the sole remaining part of the Albiones or ancient 
inhabitants of the island. 

The only conclusion to which we can come regarding the 
The Silures Silures is, that they were either a new people who had 
^rt\^/^be arrived during the interval between the periods when 
scottii. Caesar and Tacitus wrote, or else that they were a 

'Tacitus in Vita Agricola, 11. Grampians. In which he distioctly 

"Proximi Gaiiis at similes suQt. states that no people lived to the 

Sermo haud multuni diversua." north of them, and that they were the 

'This appears from the speech northernmost inhabitants of the 

which Tacitus puts into the mouth of island— "sed nulla jam ultra gens, 

Galgacus, the Caledonian general, nihil nisi fluctus et saxa."-Tacit. Tit. 

delivered before the battle of the ^^^-i ^0- 


part of the nation of the Scots, who made their appearance 
in these islands about or shortly after the time of Caesar. 
Their appearance, situation, and the tradition of a Spanish 
origin, which they appear to have possessed in common with the 
Scots of Ireland, would lead us to adopt the latter supposition ; 
but, as an enquiry into the origin of this tribe would be some- 
what foreign to the object of the present work, and would 
lead to considerable digression, we shall proceed to the con- 
sideration of the subject more imediately connected with it, 
namely, the origin of the inhabitants of the northern part of 

We have thus seen that the Caledonians, or inhabitants 
of the country extending to the north of the Firths of 
Forth and Clyde, were the remains of the Albiones ; and 
that, in the time of Tacitus, the only other inhabitants of 
Britain, besides the Silures, were the Britanni, a people who 
acknowledged a Gallic origin. The next author from whom 
we can derive any important information on the subject 

of their origin is Dio. Cassius, who wrote about 
In the third A. I). 235. Hc states that the barbaric Britons consisted 
un'^!)nquerej of two great natious called Caledonii and Ma^atai,! 
divided Tntn and as provincial Britain unquestionably extended 
c^edonil" at that time to the Firths of Forth and Clyde, both of 

these nations must have inhabited the country north 
of the wall of Antonine. It is equally clear from the words of 
Dio., that these two nations were but two divisions of the same 
race ; and he adds, that the Ma^atae lay next to the wall and the 
Caledonii beyond them, and that to one or other of these two 
nations might be referred all the other tribes. 

We can only consider them then as the same people who 
inhabited Caledonia in the days of Tacitus, and we thus see that 
no new people or race had arrived in North Britain down to the 
beginning of the third century, but that it still continued to be 
inhabited by the same Caledonii who opposed the march of 
Agricola in the first century, and who, we may infer from the 
Roman authors, were a part of the ancient nation of the Albiones, 
the oldest inhabitants of the island. Of the internal state of the 

• Dio. Cass., 1. 76, c. 12. 

CHAP. l] 


Caledonians during this period we know little ; in the time of 
Agricola they appear to have consisted of a number of inde- 
pendent tribes, who, although they acknowledged a common 
origin, and were known by one national appellation, were in all 
probability engaged in frequent warfare among themselves, and 
were only united for the purpose of a general incursion into the 
territories of the southern Britons. The invasion of the Romans 
appears to have produced the first general and permanent union 
among them. The different tribes of Caledonia assembled 
together, and with many solemnities formed themselves into a 
general confederacy ; one of their chiefs was elected to lead them 
against the Romans ; and Galgacus may thus with reason be 
called the first king of the Caledonians'. His authority, in all 
probability, only continued while the nation was at war, but the 
system once introduced, seems to have been followed out on 
after occasions, gradually assuming a more permanent char- 
acter, until it at length appeared in the shape of the Pictish 

In the second century the Caledonians consisted 
of thirteen tribes, whose names and positions are for- 
tunately preserved to us by the invaluable geographer 
Ptolemy. In the oldest editions of his work they 
appear as follows : — 

A.D. 121. 

consisted of 


1. Epidioi . . . 

2. Kreones . . 

3. Karnones . 

4. Kairinoi . . 

5. Kournaovioi 

6. Kaledonioi . 

7. Kanteai 


Inhabiting Kintyre, Knapdale, Argyll pro- 
per, and Lorn. 

Lochaber, Morvern, Moidart, 

Morer, Knodert, and Glenelg. 

Wester Ross. 

Assint, Edderachylis, and Parish 

of Duriness. 
Strathnaver and Kaithness. 

Badenoch, Stratherrick, Glen- 

garry, Glenmorison, Glenur- 
quhart, and the Aird, &c., 
Strathnairn, Strathdearn, and 
Easter Ross. 

" Tacitus Vit. Agricol., c. 30. 


Tribes. Districts. 

8. Lougoi .... Inhabiting Parishes of Kildonnan, South 

Clyne, Golspie, Dornoch and 
Rogart in Sutherland. 

9. Mertai .... Parishes of Criech and Lairg in 


10. Vakomagoi . The County of Elgin, Strathspey, 

Strathavon, Braemar, and 

11. Vernicomes . Merns, Angus, and Fife. 

12. Taixaioi . . . Buchan and Banfifshire. 

13. Damnonioi . Perthshire, except Atholl. 

In this state they ma}- be supposed to have continued with 
little variation down to the end of the third century. 

Hitherto the only people mentioned by the Roman authors, 
as inhabiting North Britain, have been the Maeatae and Caledonii, 
and the Roman writers are after this period altogether silent for 
some time on this subject, but when they again commence to 
give us a few scattered notices of the inhabitants of Britain, we 
find a very remarkable change in their language. The formid- 
able names of Caledonii and Maeatae vanish, and in their place 
we find the enemies of the provincial Britons appearing under 
the appellations of Picti, Scotti, Saxones, and Attacotti.^ The 
history of the Saxons is too well known to require 


an\' examination ; their attacks upon the Romans and 

provincial Britons were merel}' piratical excursions, and they 

had no settlement in the island till long after this period. 

From Dio.'s account, there can be no doubt that in 
Picti. .... 

his time there existed but one nation in the northern 

or unconquered part of Britain, which was divided into two great 

tribes of Maeat^ and Caledonii ; the Picti must therefore either 

be their descendants or a new colon)-, who had arrived in the 

island after the time of Dio. Their antiquity in the country 

however is evident from Eumenius, the first author who mentions 

the Picts ; and from whom it appears, that they certainly existed 

in Britain as early as the days ofCssar;^ and their identity with 

the Caledonii and Msata; of Dio. rests upon authority equally 

* Amm. Mar., 1. 26, c. 4. Hibernis assueta liostibus. — Eumen- 

» Soli Britanni Pictis mode et ii^s, paneg. Constantio. 


7. "^ 





strong ; for besides the inference to be drawn from the mere 
fact of finding the Picti occupying the territories of the Cale- 
donians at no very distant period after these Caledonians appear 
in independence and strength, and when there is no hint of their 
having been overthrown, or subjected to invasion by a foreign 
people, we have the distinct and positive testimony of Eumenius, 
who talks of " The Caledonians and other Picts ; " ^ and of 
Ammianus Marcellinus, who informs us that the Picts were 
divided into two nations, the Dicalcdones and the Vecturiones.^ 
It appears then that the Picts consisted of two great nations, of 
which one is identified by Eumenius with the Caledonii ; and as 
the Maeatae were certainly of the same race, and inhabited the 
same territories with the other division of the Pictish nation, 
their identity cannot be doubted. We see, therefore, the Cale- 
donii of Tacitus and Dio. presenting, under the name of Picti, 
the same twofold division of their nation, and continuing the 
same system of successful resistance and active incursion which 
had rendered them so formidable in the first two centuries. 

We may therefore hold it established as an incontrovertible 
fact, that the Picts and Caledonians were the same people, 
appearing at different times under different appellations, and that 
they were consequently the sole remaining descendants of the 
Albiones, the most ancient inhabitants of the island. 3 

Of the Attacotti, we know less. St. Jerome 

Attacotti. . -^ . . 

informs us, that they were a people inhabiting 
Britain.4 They appear in independence, and engaged in com- 
pany with the Picts and Scots in frequent incursions into the 
Roman province, during the years 364 and 368.5 After these 
dates they are not mentioned again, although the Picts and 
Scots are stated to have ravaged the Roman province in the 
years 384, 396, and 398,5 until we find them in the early part of 
the fifth century as enrolled among the Roman troops ;4 and 

' Eumenius, paneg. Constantin. by the Britons and Romans ; and tliat 

2 Amm. Marc. 1 27 c 8. their peculiar and national name was 

, , ,. . , p p ,, . .^ that of Albanich, manifestly the 

As an additional proof of this, it ■ ■ ^ t i.\ 11 e 

, , ,, , % ., ', , oriBinal of tJie classical name 01 



will be afterwards sliewn that the 

applications of Caledonii and Picti 

were not acknowledged by them- * Jerom, tom. ii., p. 76. 

selves, but were imposed upon them ' Ammian. Marcellin. passim 


Orosius styles them certain barbarians, " qui quondam in f(2diis 
recepti atque in militiam allecti." From these notices it 
is plain, that they inhabited some part of Britain, north of the 
Firths of Forth and Clyde, and as there certainly existed in 
Dio.'s time no other nation in North Britain than the Picts or 
Caledonians, they must have settled there subsequent to his 
time. The conjecture of Pinkerton is therefore probably correct^ 
that they had arrived from Ireland, and occupied that part of the 
west coast which afterwards became Dalriada. 

The onlv nation whose origin it now remains for 

Scotti. . ' . . , r , ,- • ^ i 

us to nivestigate, is that oi the Scotti. As they 
appear in hostility to the Romans after the date of the formation 
of the province of Valentia, they could not have been a part of 
the Britons ; the}' must then either have owed their origin, as 
well as the Picts, to the Caledonians, or else they must have 
been a foreign people engaged only in a temporary league with 
them against their common enemy the Romans. The supposi- 
tion of their having a common origin with the Picts, is rendered 
exceedingly improbable from the marked line of distinction 
which is drawn between them by Gildas, Bede, and Nennius, 
both in respect of their manners, their language, and their tradi- 
tionary origin. With regard to their manners, Gildas is perfectly 
distinct, as he describes them to have been " moribus ex parte 
dissidentes."! Their language appears also to have been in some 
degree different. Bede in enumerating the various dialects into 
which the gospel was translated, mentions the Pictish and 
Scottish as different dialects,^ in which Nennius also concurs. 
Now if the Picts and Scots were both branches of the Cale- 
donians, who were certainly an undivided people in the third 
centurv-, it is inconceivable that such a difference in language 
and manners could have existed between them in the fifth. As 
to the traditionary origin of the two nations, as contained in the 
monkish writers, although in general we ought to place no 
reliance whatever upon the accuracy of the origin assigned by 
them to any nation, yet wherever they assigned the same origin 
to different nations, we may safely infer that there existed 
between them a resemblance in manners and language suffici- 

1 Gildas, c. 15. "" Bede, b. 1, c. 1. 


ently strong to justify the assertion. And in the same way the 
argument applies, that wherever different origins are given b}' 
them to different nations, it is to be inferred that there was a 
considerable dissimilarity between them, and that no tradition 
of a common origin could have existed among them. These 
writers, however, agree in giving totally different origins to the 
Picts and Scots. For these reasons, then, we may conclude that 
A.. , J*, the Scots could not have been descended of the 

Attacked the 

Pro^fnce from Caledonians, but must have been merely a part of the 
Ireland. Scots of Ireland, who were at that time in temporary 

connection onh' with the Picts, but who afterwards, it would 
appear, obtained a permanent settlement among them. This 
conclusion is strongly corroborated by the language constantly 
used regarding them by Claudian, thus : — 

" I lie leves Mauros nee falso nomine Pictos 
Edomuit, Scotiiinque vago mucrone, secutus 
Fregit Hyperboreas remis audacibus imdas" ^ 

The Picts mentioned in this passage it will be remarked are 

only subdued, while the Scots alone are followed across the 

Hyperborean waves, which can only apply to the Irish sea ; 

because, if it applied to either of the Firths, there would be no 

reason for the distinction made between the Picts and Scots. 

Again he says : — 

'' Maduerunt Saxone fuso 
Orcades, incaluit Pictorum sanguine Thule 
Scotorum cuinulos flevit glacialis I erne." '" 


" Totam quum Scotus lemen 
Movit et infesto spumavit remige Tethys.'" ^ 

It has been said that lerne here does not mean Ireland, but 
Stratherne, — the glaring improbability of this however must 
appear, when we consider, First, — That while Ireland was well 
known under that name, in no other instance do we find an\' 
part of Scotland appearing in the works of the Roman writers 
under any such appellation ; even in Ptol^y's Geography of 
Scotland, which is so very minute, no such place appears. 

^ Claudian, de HI. cons. Honorii. ^ Claudian, 1. 2, in prin. con Stilichonis. 

- Claudian, de IT. cons. Honorii. 


Secondly, — No tolerable reason can be shewn why Claudian 
should distinguish such a small portion of Scotland on this 
occasion. Thirdly, — It does not appear that Strathern formed 
at any time a part of the Scottish possessions ; on the contrary, 
it appears to have been the very head quarters of the Picts. 
And lastl)-, in this passage of Claudian, the Scots are described 
as crossing Tethys in coming from lerne to the Roman province ; 
but Tethys, it will appear from the following passage of the same 
author, can onl\' apply to the sea, and not to either of the Firths 
of Clyde or Forth. 


" Domito quod Saxoni Tetliys 
Mitior aut fracto secura Britannia Picto." ^ 

The subjugation of the Saxon could only render the sea more 
safe, and therefore Tethys could not apply to a Firth in North 

The testimony of Gildas is equally distinct upon this point, 
for he describes the Scots as coming " a circione," and the Picts 
" ab aquilone."2 Now it appears from Vitruvius that circio 
corresponds pretty nearly to our north-west and by west, while 
aquilo is the same as our north-east, and consequently the Scots 
could not have come from North Britain, but from Ireland. In 
another passage, after describing an irruption of the Picts and 
Scots, he says " Revertuntur ergcj impudentes grassatores 
Hyberni domum, post non longum temporis reversuri. Picti in 
extrema parte insula tunc primum et deinceps requieverunt."3 
It is thus be}'ond a doubt that the Scots had no permanent 
settlement in Britain, as late as the early part of the fifth century, 
and that Ireland was the habitation of those Scots who joined 
the Picts in their attacks upon the provincial Britons. 

They appear however from Adomnan and Bede to have been 
firmly established in the western part of Scotland in the days of 
St. Columba, and even as late as the time of Bede to have 
retained the tradition of their Irish origin, although like all 
Monkish traditions,^n appellation for the leader of the colony 
has been formed out of their generic name of Dalriads. The 
accession of this colony must have taken place at some period 

' Claudian, 1. 1, V. 395. ''Gildas, c. 11. ' Gildas, c. 19. 


between the time of Gildas and that of St. Columba, and that 
date has been fixed at the year 503, partly by the direct authority 
of Tighernac, Flann of Bute, and others, and partly by the calcu- 
lation of the reigns of their kings, of whom several lists have 
been preserved. 

Such is a simple statement of the leading facts of the early 
history of Scotland derived from the Roman authors ; and a 
strict adherence to them as the best sources of our early history, 
and an accurate mode of reasoning, from the facts contained in 
them, have brought us to the following conclusions ; viz. — that 
the Picts are the descendants of the ancient Caledonians ; that 
these Picts or Caledonians remained the only inhabitants of 
North Britain till the beginning of the sixth century ; that a 
colony of Scots from Ireland effected a settlement in the island 
about that time, and that they had firmly established themselves 
there, and possessed considerable extent of territory in the time 
of St. Columba, or about sixty years later, and continued in the 
same state down to the time of Bede in the eighth century. 

The great question therefore which we have now to deter- 
mine is, to which of these two nations the Highlanders of 
Scotland owe their origin, and this is a question which must 
depend in a great measure upon the nature and effects of that 
revolution generally termed the Scottish conquest, which took 
place in the middle of the ninth century, and which united the 
various inhabitants of Scotland under the government of one 
monarch. But of this subject, we shall treat in the next chapter. 



The State of the Scottish Tribes in the year 731— Their 
Territories— Internal Condition— Principles of Succes- 
sion — Government. 

The Scottish conquest (as it is cjenerally termed), 

The nature and ... ^ •' ^' 

eflects of the 111 the ninth century, is certainly at the same time 

Scottish Con- ^ 

questinvoived the most oDscurc, and the most important event in 

in obscurity. ^ 

the early annals of Scotland. That some great 
revolution took place at that period, which had the effect of 
uniting the various independent tribes in Scotland under the 
rule of one monarch, cannot be doubted ; but there are perhaps 
few points in Scottish history, the nature of which has been 
more misrepresented and more misunderstood than that im- 
portant revolution ; while no attempt whatever has been made 
to assign the peculiar causes which led to so remarkable an 
event, or to ascertain the effects which it produced upon the 
internal state and condition of the tribes of Scotland, and 
the extent of its influence in the country. Our earlier writers 
in general have attributed to Kenneth, the complete conquest 
and extermination of the whole Pictish nation ; but althouQ-h 
many attempts were made by their followers to bring this 
account within the bounds of probability, an examination into 
the more genuine authorities for Scottish history, and the total 
silence of contemporary writers in other countries (a silence 
unaccountable upon the supposition of a revolution of such 
magnitude having taken place), soon shewed the absurdity of 
this fable, and led to various, although unsuccessful endeavours 
on the part of later historians to ascertain the true history of 
that period ; some having even gone so far as to deny the 
truth of the story altogether, and to maintain that the Picts 


were the conquerors in the struggle, and that they had sub- 
jected the neighbouring Scots. 

Unsatisfactory^ as the accounts given of this event in the old 
Scottish chronicles and the theories of the more modern ^\Titers 
are, we can nevertheless distinctly perceive the traces of some 
remarkable revolution in the state of the countrv, and in the 
relative position of the various tribes at that time inhabiting it ; 
and we shall now endeavour, as shortly as possible, to ascertain 
the real character of this change, and the probable causes which 
led to it. 

The principal events in the history of Scotland from the 
departure of the Romans to the middle of the eighth century, 
can be sufficiently discovered from the works of Gildas, Nennius, 
the Welsh bards, the Irish annals, and in particular from the 
venerable Bede. The most remarkable occurrences duriner this 
period were the arrival of the Scots from Ireland in the }-ear 
503, and the conversion of the northern Picts to Christianity 
about sixty years later by the preaching of Columba ; the rest 
of the history apparently consists entirely of the petty battles 
of the Picts with the Dalriads and among themselves, with 
occasional incursions of the Angli into the Pictish territories, 
none of which produced any lasting change. Bede, however, 
finishes his history in the year 731, and with that year com- 
mences a period of great obscurity and confusion, during which 
we have no certain guide until the middle of the ninth century, 
when we find the numerous tribes of Scotland united under the 
government of Kenneth. Before entering upon this enquiry, it 
will therefore be necessary for us to ascertain the exact situa- 
tion in which these nations were placed at the time when Bede 
finishes his history, the relations which they bore to each other, 
and the peculiar laws which governed the succession of their 

Situation of Bede closes his history in the year 731 with a 

scotwin sketch of the state of the inhabitants of Britain, 
A.D. ,31. ^j^^ j^jg ^yords relating to the nations at that time 

inhabiting the northern part of the island, are "'Pictoriivi quoque 
natio tempore hoc et foedus pacis cum gente habet Anglorum 
et catholicae pacis et veritatis cum universali ecclesia particeps 
existere gaudet. Scoti qui Britanniam ificolunt suis contenti 


finibus, nihil contra gentem Anglorum insidiarum moliuntur aut 
fraudium. Bntones quamvis et maxima ex parte domestico sibi 
(xlio gentem Anglorum et totius catholicae ecclesiae statutum 
Pascha, minus recte moribusque improbis impugnent, tamen et 
divina sibi et humana prorsus resistente virtute in neutro 
cupitum possunt obtinere propositum.''^ From this passage it 
would appear that when Bede finished his history the inhabitants 
of North Britain consisted of four races, Picti, Angli, Scoti qui 
Britanniam incolunt, and Britones, and from the general tone of 
the passage, as well as from the phrase " suis contenti finibus," 
it would seem that these different nations had probably for some 
time previous possessed the same territories, and that their 
mutual boundaries had not experienced much alteration. 
Territories of '^^^^ southcm boundary of the Picts, which was 

the Plots. ^igQ ^j-^g northern boundary of the Angli, appears 
Southern from Bcde to have been the Firth of Forth. For, in 

boundary. describing the result of the unsuccessful expedition 
of the Angli under Ecfrith, into the territory of the Picts, in the 
year 684, he has the following passage : " Ex quo tempore spes 
coepit et virtus regni Anglorum fluere, et retro sublapsa referri. 
Nam et Picti terrain possessionis sua; qtiani teniierunt Angli et 
Scoti qui erant in Britannia et Britonum quoque pars nonnulla 
libertatem receperunt, qnaui ct Jiacterms habent per annos circiter 
quadraginta ct scx."^ Now the southern boundary of the Picts 
was at that time the Firth of Forth, for he adds immediately 
after, that the monastery of Abercorn was " in vicinia freti quod 
Anglorum terras Pictorumque disterminat ; " and his expression 
" quam et hactenus habent per annos circiter quadraginta et sex'" 
shews that no change had taken place, but that it had continued 
to be the southern boundary of the Picts till the year 731, which 
is ]\.\?,t forty-six years after the event he was narrating. 

The German ocean, and the Pentland Firth, were at that time 

the eastern and northern boundaries of the Picts. 

Northern The Welsh Triads describe them as extending along 

ry. ^j^^ ^^^ ^^ Lochlin, or the German ocean. Adomnan 

mentions Lochness and the River Ness as being " in Provincia 

Pictorum," near which also he places the palace of the Pictish 

' Bede, b. 5, c. ult. ^ gede, b. 4, c. 26. 


king converted by St. Columba. That they possessed the 
extreme north of Britain is also clear from Nennius, who in 
describing Britain says, "' Tertia insula sita est in extremo limite 
orbis Britannia^ ultra Pictos et vocatur Orcania insula ; " ^ and 
that they still possessed these territories as late as the eighth 
century is proved from the life of St. Findan, written in the 
ninth century, where the author relates that the saint was carried 
away captive from Ireland by the Norwegian pirates in the end 
of the eighth centur}-, and adds " ad quasdam venire insulas 
juxta Pictorum gentem quas Orcades vocant." ^ 
Western T\\& western boundary of the Picts appears at all 

Txmndary. times to have been, partly a ridge of hills, termed 
Drumalban, which separated them from the Scots, as the 
southern part of the boundary, and as the northern part the sea 
from the Linne Loch to Cape Wrath. Thus the Scottish 
chronicles invariably mention that P^ergus the First, King of the 
Scots, ruled over the districts extending from Di'uvialban to 
Inni-sgall, or the Hebrides. Adomnan, who wrote in 

Drumalban. , i • • r i i • i 

the begmnmg 01 the seventh century, mentions the 
Pictorum plebe et Scotorum Britanniae " quos utrosque dorsi 
montes Britannici disterminant ; " and in talking of the Picts, he 
invariabl)' describes them as being " ultra dorsum Britanniae." 
The phrase dorsum Brittanniai used by him is plainly a mere 
Latin translation of the Gaelic word Drumalban. 

Tighernac implies that the same mountain-ridge was their 
mutual boundary in the year 717, in which year he mentions the 
expulsion of the Monks of lona by King Nectan, " trans dorsum 
Britannia." The Chronicon Rythmicum mentions the Scots as 
having inhabited " ultra Drumalban " till the reign of Kenneth. 
It thus appears that Drumalban, or the dorsum Britanniae was 
the invariable boundary of the Picts and Scots, south of the 
Linne Loch, from the year 503 down to the eighth century. 
There is no range of hills now bearing this name, but we find it 
frequently mentioned in older writers. The earliest description 
of Scotland which contains any allusion to its mountain ranges 
is entitled " De situ Albaniae quae in se figuram hominis habet," 
and is supposed to have been written by Giraldus Cambrensis, 

"Nennius c. 2. " *Goldasti Aleman. rerum Script. 

Vita Findani, p. 318, 


about the year 1180. This work describes Scotland (which 
name at that period was applied only to the country north of 
the Firths of Forth and Clyde) as resembling in form that of a 
man. The head of the figure lay in Arregathel, the mountains 
of which he says resemble the head and neck of a man ; the 
body consisted of that chain which is called Mound, and which 
he describes as reaching from the western sea to the eastern ; 
the arms were those mountains " qui dividunt Scotiam ab Arre- 
gaithel;" the legs, the two rivers Tay and Spey. After this 
description he adds, " inter crura hujus hominis sunt Enegus et 
Moerne citra montem, et ultra montem alise terrse inter Spe et 
montem." From this description it would seem that he considered 
that there were but two remarkable chains in Scotland, " mons 
qui Mound vocatur," and "montes qui dividunt Scotiapi ab Arre- 
gaithel." The localit}- of the first of these chains is perfectly 
distinct from his description, for he tells us that part of it formed 
the northern boundary of " Enegus et Mcerne," a range which 
to the present day bears the name of " The Mounth." The 
other part extended to the western sea, and must therefore be 
the western part of the same chain which divides the count}' 
of Inverness from the counties of Perth and Argyll, and which 
is now termed Drumuachdar. The other chain, viz. the " montes 
qui dividunt Scotiam ab Arregaithel," are described as forming 
the arms of the figure, and must therefore have consisted of two 
ridges, the one branching from the Mounth, on the south, and 
the other on the north. As it appears, however, in describing 
the seven parts into which Scotland was of old divided, that 
Athol is named as one of them, it is plain that the western 
boundary of the southern part of Arg)'ll was at that time the 
same as it is now, and therefore the southern branch of the 
" montes qui dividunt Scotiam ab Aregaithel " must be the 
same with that chain of hills which runs from Benauler on the 
north-west corner of Perthshire to the head of Loch Long, and 
■which to this day separates the county of Argyll from the 
district of Atholl and the counties of Perth and Dumbarton. 
But this very chain is called b}' the same author Bruinalban, 
for in afterwards describing these seven parts of Scotland, of 
which he had formerly given the names (though with some 
variation), he mentions that division which corresponds with 


Atholl and Gouerin, as extending " a Spe usque ad Montem 
Bruinalban." The Bruinalban of this writer appears, from the 
following circumstances, to have been synonymous with the 
Drumalban of others ; for while Giraldus concludes his descrip- 
tion with the words, " Fergus filius Ere ipse fuit primus qui de 
semine Chonare suscepit regnum Albaniae a monte Bruinalban 
usque ad mare Hibernian et ad Inche Gall," ^ the same passage 
is found in other chronicles in the following words : " Fergus 
filius Eric fuit primus qui de semine Chonare suscepit regnum 
Albaniae ; i.e., a monte Drumalban usque ad mare Hiberniae et 
ad Inche Gall ; " 2 and "Fergus filius Erth primus in Scotia 
regnavit tribus annis ultra Drumalban usque Sluaghmuner et 
ad Inche Gall." 3 

The name of Drumalban was known even at a much later 
period than this, for it occurs in the Regiam Magistatem ; and 
also in the history of the Bishops of Dunkeld, in both of which 
it appears as certainly applied to the same chain. The passage 
in the Regiam Magistatem as translated by Sir John Skene is 
as follows : — " 2. And gif he quha is accused of the cattell, or 
anie other thing thifteously stolen or reft, alledges anie man for 
his warant dwelling betwixt Forth and Drumalbane, he quha is 
challenged sail have fifteen days to produce his warant before 
the sheref; whilk warant dwells within the said bounds. — 3. 
And gif anie dwell beyond thir places or bounds in Murray, 
Ross, Caithness, Argyll, or in Kintyre, he sail have all the 
fifteen days, and also ane moneth to bring and produce all his 

He thus divides Scotland, which is afterwards defined as 
" the partes of the realme benorth the water of Forth," into two 
parts, the one extending from the Forth to Drumalbane, and 
the other lying beyond " thir bounds ; " and containing Murra}', 
Ross, Caithness, and Argyll. His Drumalbane, therefore, can 
refer only to that chain of hills which forms the present eastern 
boundary of Argyllshire. The history of the Bishops of Dun- 
keld evidently places Drumalbane in the same place, for Atholl 
and Drumalbane are mentioned as forming one of the decanatu 
•of that bishopric. Since, then, the name of Drumalbane existed, 

' Innes, A pij. Xo. 1. - Innes, App. Xo. 4. * Chron. San. Andrese. 


and was known as applied to a particular range of hills at so 
late a period, we ma}- conclude with safet}', that the descriptions 
of it given b}- Buchanan, Monypenn}- and others, applied to 
a range of hills well known at the time under that name, and 
were not merely speculations as to the locality of a name which 
had ceased to be used. The great distinguishing feature applied 
to Drumalbane by these authorities is, that it divides the rivers 
flowing into the western sea from those flowing into the eastern, 
— a peculiarit}' which belongs only to a long range of hills com- 
mencing at Loch Long, and running up the centre of the island 
until it is lost among the mountains of Caithness, and of which 
that chain already alluded to as separating the counties of Perth 
and Argyll forms the southern part. As an additional corrobo- 
ration of this, Buchanan mentions that the River Earn takes its 
rise from it, and that in fact it was merely the highest part of 

The southern part of the western boundary of the Picts was 
therefore evidenth' the same with the present western boundary 
of Perthshire and Inverness-shire. The remaining and northern 
part of their western boundary appears to have been the sea 
from the Linne Loch to Cape Wrath, and this is a part of the 
boundary which it is of considerable importance for us to deter- 
mine, as it involves the question of the possession of those 
districts which extend from Caithness to the Linne Loch, and 
comprise the western parts of the counties of Sutherland, Ross, 
and Inverness, and the northern part of the county of Argyll. 

From all the notices which I have been able to collect, it 
appears that these districts, at all times, belonged to the Picts. 
In the first place it may be inferred from the ancient chronicles, 
that Dalriada did not originally extend beyond the Linne Loch, 
for they divide Dalriada among the three brothers who are said 
to have conducted the Scots from Ireland. The eldest obtained 
Lorn ; the second, Argyll Proper and Kintyre ; while the 
youngest obtained Isla. And this division is fully corroborated 
by the Irish Annalists, who mention the descendants of these 
brothers frequently, and always in the same districts as they are 
placed by the Scottish Chronicles. In the second place, inde- 
pendently even of this argument, we have the direct testimony 
of Bede, that these districts were possessed by the Picts from 


the time of St. Columba to the year 731, when he finishes his 
history. He mentions that Oswald, the King of the Angh of 
Northumberland, wishing to Christianize his subjects, sent to 
the Scots requesting them to supply him with a Monk for that 
purpose ; and that in consequence of this request, Aidan, a 
monk of the monastery of Hy or lona, left that island and went 
to him. After which, he adds the following passage — " Qu^e 
videlicet insula ad jus quidem Britannise pertinet non magno 
ab ea freto discreta, sed donatione Pictorum qui illas Bi'itannice 
plagas incolunt jamdudum Monachis Scotorum tradita, eo quod 
iliis predicantibus fidem Christi perceperunt." ^ Thus shewing 
not only that lona was in the Pictish territories in the days of 
St. Columba, but that they actually possessed and inhabited the 
neighbouring districts of Britain in his own time, that is, in the 
eighth century. A testimony so direct and positive as this to 
the existence of a fact in his own lifetime, and at the very time 
he is writing, it is impossible by any reasoning or criticism 
to overcome. But Bede is not the only one who asserts this 
fact ; Walafred Strabo, in his life of St. Blaithmac, asserts the 
same, although at a period some years later. He opens his 
poem with these words : — 

" Insula Pictorum quitdam monstratur in oris 
Fluctivago suspensa salo cognomine Eo.^^ 

But if the Picts thus possessed the districts extending to the 
western sea opposite lona, and since we have distinct evidence 
of their inhabiting the northern shore of Scotland, it would seem 
incredible to suppose that they did not also possess the inter- 
vening districts. We can hardly imagine that the Scottish 
nation were thus as it were divided into two by the Pictish 
tribes, or that a small portion of them could exist unmolested 
in the very heart of their powerful enemies, and completely cut 
off from the rest of the Scots in Britain, as well as from the 
Irish. We must therefore conclude, that the Picts inhabited the 
whole of the districts lying to the north of the Linne Loch, 
a circumstance corroborated by the language of Bede, who 
mentions the Picts in general terms as inhabiting the " Septcn- 
trionalcs plagas Britannicer 

I Bede, b. 3, c. 3. 


We have thus she\\n by an incontrovertible chain of autho- 
rities, that in the year 731, the period at which Bede closes his 
histor}-, the territories of the Pictish nation consisted of the 
present counties of Kinross, Fife, Perth, Forfar, Kincardine, 
Aberdeen, Mora)', Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, and 
the northern part of Argyll ; in fact, the whole of Scotland 
north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde, with the exception 
of Southern Argyll. 

The Firth of Clyde is universally allowed to have 
TerrHor^jf ]yeQn the boundary which separated the Dalriads 
from the Strathclyde Britons, and consequently it 
follows that Dalriada, or the territory of the Scots in 
Britain, uiust Jiavc been coiifiiied to South Argyll, or that part 
of the county lying to the south of Linne Loch ; and the Scots 
appear to have maintained their possession of a territory so 
inconsiderable in comparison with that of the Picts, partly by 
the strong natural boundaries and impervious nature of the 
country itself, and partly by the close connexion which they 
at all times preserved with the Irish. We shall now proceed, 
in pursuance of our plan, to investigate shortly the 

Internal con- . i r i • j. ^1 

ditionofUie Hitemal statc and strength ot these nations at tne 


same period. 
When the Picts first appear under that appellation upon the 
stage of history, and when by the frequency of their 

Picts divided . . . it-. • • ti -z. • ^i. 

into two incursions into the Roman provinces in Britain tney 

attracted the attention of the Roman writers, they 
are described by them as having been divided into two great 
nations, Dicaledoncs, and Vectiirioncs. The origin of this 
division cannot now be traced, but as it apparently did not 
exist at the time when Ptolemy wrote his geography, it must 
have owed its origin to circumstances occurring subsequent to 
that period. In whatever manner, hoA\-ever, it may have origi- 
nated, this twofold division of the Pictish nation appears to 
have subsisted at least down to the eighth century. We trace 
it in Bede as existing in full force in the time of St. Columba, 
when he mentions that Columba came over " predicaturus ver- 
bum Dei provinciis septentrionalium Pictorum, hoc est eis quae 
arduis atque horrentibus Montium jugis ab Australibus eorum 
sunt regionibus sequestrate. Namque ipsi Australes Picti qui 


intra eosdem montes habent sedes multo ante tempore (ut 
perhibent) relicto errore idolatria^ fidem veritatis acceperant." ^ 

The northern Picts mentioned by Bede, in all probability 
correspond with the Dicaledones of the Roman authors, for the 
Dicaledones, from their name, apparently extended along the 
Deucaledonian or Northern Sea. This distinction of the Pictish 
nation into the two great tribes of the northern Picts or 
Dicaledones and southern Picts, or Vecturiones, took its origin 
probably from incidental circumstances, and was afterwards 
perpetuated and increased b}- the difference of religion between 
them during the period from the conversion of the southern 
Picts by Ninian, and that of the northern Picts by St. Columba, 
as well as by the superior progress in civilization, which the 
prior conversion of the southern Picts would naturally give rise 
to. The same twofold division of the Picts can be traced sub- 
sequent to the time of St. Columba in Tighernac and the other 
Irish annalists. In Tighernac, we find the Picts sometimes 
termed Picti, at other times Cruithne and Piccardach : but 
although the last two are occasionally called Picti, yet we find 
a marked distinction at all times drawn between them, and 
occasionally we find them even having kings independent of 
each other. As an instance, in the \-ear 731, Tighernac men- 
tions a battle " between Brude, the son of Angus, and Talorcan, 
the son of Congusa. Brude conquers, but Talorcan escapes ; " 
and in 734, we find it mentioned, that Talorcan, the son of 
Congusa, was taken by his own brother, and given over by him 
into the hands of the PiCCARDACH, thus making a complete 
distinction between the Piccardach and the other Picts, of whom 
Talorcan Mac Congusa was one. Again< in 729, Tighernac 
calls Angus, the father -of Brude above-mentioned, "Ri na 
Piccardach," or King of the Piccardach, while, at that time, 
Drust was king of the Picts, and Angus did not attain the 
throne of the Picts till the year 731. We may also remark, that 
whenever Tighernac has the word Piccardach, the annals of 
Ulster use the word Pictores in Latin, instead of Picti, the 
name usually applied by them to the Picts. These words 
Piccardach and Pictores have generally been thought synony- 

• Bede, b. 3, c. 4. 


mous with Picti,»and a mere error of the transcriber, and they 
have accordingl)- been so translated by O'Connor in his edition 
of these annals ; but when we remark the uniformity with 
which these appellations occur in the two annalists, and with 
which they are distinguished from the rest of the Picts, and the 
confusion which such an idea must necessarily introduce both 
in the chronology and in the succession of the Pictish monarchs, 
it is impossible to suppose that they are the mere casual 
blunders of a transcriber. 

The similarity of name, and other causes connected with 
their kings, which we shall afterwards mention, plainly point 
out the Piccardach of Tighernac to be the same with the Vec- 
turiones of the Romans, and the southern Picts of Bede, and 
consequently the name of Cruithne, although no doubt occa- 
sionally applied to all the Picts, would in its more restricted 
Sense belong to the Dicaledones or northern Picts. 

Besides this great division of the Pictish nation 
oUhe^Picte^^ '"^° ^^^ northern and southern Picts, they were also 
divided into a number of smaller tribes, whose union 
together in a sort of permanent confederacy formed the two 
larger nations. The expressions of Tacitus shew, that when 
the Romans first appeared in Caledonia, it was inhabited by a 
number of " Civitates " apparently independent of each other, 
and the immediate result of the Roman invasion was the union 
of these tribes for the first time into a strong confederacy, and 
the election of Galgacus as a general to lead them to battle. 
In the second centur)', we again find them divided into a 
number of small tribes, whose names and situations are given 
us by Ptolemy. Shortly after this time, the great division into 
Vecturiones and Dicaledones took place, but that division did 
not, it would seem, make any change in the constitution of the 
Pictish nation as a confederacy of small tribes, or even produce 
a more close connexion between them. 

From this period, the existence of the smaller tribes which 
composed the Pictish nations, can be sufficiently traced in Bede 
and the Irish annalists. Thus Bede appears to allude to these 
tribes under the appellation of " Provincial," when, on one 
occasion, he mentions the " Universas Provincias Pictorum," 
and in another, the " ProviJiciis Septentrionalium Pictorum." 


In the following passages of Tighernac ai*d the annals of 
Ulster, particular tribes of the Picts also appear to be men- 
tioned : 

A.D. 666. Eochaigh larlaithe Ri Cruithne Midhi mortuus est. 

668. Navigatio filiorum Gartnaidh ad Hiberniam cum plebe 


670. Venit gens Gartnaidh dc Hibernia. 

739- Talorcan mac Drostan Rex Athfotla. 

752. Cath a Sreith in te7-ra Circi. 

The territories of the Dalriads, as we have already 
Dairiads seen, consistcd of the southern half of Argyllshire 

•divided into iitii/-ti ii ii- 

three tribes, and the Island of Isla, and they seem at all times to 
have been divided into no more than three tribes, 
namely, the Genus Loarn, Genus Comgal, and Genus Gabran. 
The districts inhabited b\' these tribes can also be pretty nearly 
ascertained from these annals. The name points out the dis- 
trict of Lorn as the possession of the Genus Loarn. Argyll 
and Kintyre belonged to the Genus Gabran, for Duncan Begg, 
who is mentioned by Tighernac in 719 as leading that tribe, is 
called by him in 721 Rincina tire, or King of Kintyre. While 
the present district of Cowall, which is in old MSS. always 
termed Comgaill, points itself out as the seat of the Genus 
Comgaill. These tribes of the Dalriads, however, must not be 
viewed in the same light as the Pictish tribes, because the 
tribes of the Picts, although they possessed a common origin, 
yet had been for a long course of time separated from each 
■other ; they possessed independent chiefs of their own, and were 
•connected together only by the necessity of having a common 
head for the sake of their mutual safety. The Dalriadic tribes, 
on the contrary, had a much closer connexion ; they formed 
but one nation, had sprung from the original stock within a very 
few generations, and were, therefore, united together by the 
ties of affinity and relationship as well as those of common 
•origin and of policy. 

The only point which now remains for us to 

Bnles of sue- . , - i ^ i ^ • ^u 

session among examuie beiorc we can proceed to determme the 
causes which led to the union of all these nations, 
under the rule of Kenneth Mac Alpin, are the principles which 
regulated the succession to the throne among them. 


On examining the line of Pictish kings, as contained in 
our ancient chronicles, we cannot fail to observe one 
fuc^l'ion. great peculiarit}-, namel}-, that hereditary succession 
to the throne, appears to have been wholly unknown 
to them even so late as the ninth centur\\ We occasionally 
find a king succeeded b\- his brother, but in no instance by his 
son ; and in general, each king appears to be totally uncon- 
nected with his predecessor. But that some rule of succession 
existed among them is apparent from the testimony of Bede, 
who states, that the Picts on their first landing agreed, " ut ubi 
res veniret in dubium^ magis de fceminea regum prosapia quam 
de masculina rcgem sibi eligerent," and adds, ''quod usque hodie 
apud Pictos constat esse servatuni.'' From this passage of Bede 
WQ may infer, first, that the Picts elected their monarchs ; and, 
secondly, that the election was not unlimited in its range, but 
was confined to some specific class of individuals, otherwise it 
could not come into doubt ; and thirdly, that when there did 
exist a doubt as to the proper object of the election, they chose 
that person most nearly related to the former king by the 
female line. 

Now there appears from Adomnan to have existed among 
the Picts a division of the people into Nobiles and Plebeii, ^ 
and the account iriven bv Tacitus of the election of Galgacus, 
plainl}- indicates that it was to the Xobile genus alone that this 
privilege of being chosen to fill the Pictish throne belonged. 2 
We have already seen that besides the great two-fold division 
of the Picts into Dicaledones and Vecturiones, they also at all 
times consisted of a number of small tribes ; we have also 
remarked that it appears from Tacitus and from the notices 
of these tribes formerly given from Tighernac, that they were 
originally independent of each other, and that they possessed 
chiefs of their own to whom alone they owed obedience, although 
the}' were frequenti}' led b\- considerations of mutual safety 
to unite under a common head. When we consider these facts, 

•QuendamdeiVoitViPictorumyewere. quidam cum tota pleheius familia.— 
—Adorn., h. 2, c. 24. IIlo in tempore Adom., b. 2, c. 33. 

quo Sanctus Columba in Pictorum pro- ^ Inter plures duce.'i virtute et genere 

vincia per aliquot demorabatur die.-^, pnestans nomine Galgacus. — Tacit. 

Vita Agric. 


it must appear evident that it was these chiefs alone who could 
be elected kings of the Picts, for it cannot for a moment be 
supposed that if the whole nation was divided into tribes 
subject respectively to the authority of their chiefs, that they 
would suffer any one of inferior rank to themselves to fill the 
Pictish throne. This view is confirmed by the expression of 
Tacitus with regard to Galgacus, that he was " inter //«;r.y duces 
virtute et genere praestans," and still more strongly by the 
following passages of Tighernac : 

A.D. 713. Tolaro Mac Drostan ligatus apud frah-em siium 

Nee tan regent. 
739. Tolarcan Mac Drostan, Rex Atfotla a bathadh la 

Aengus (drowned by Angus). 

Thus Tolarg- Mac Drostan, the brother of Nectan, the king of 
the Picts, appears after his brother's death, and during the 
reign of Angus, as king of Athol, and consequently Nectan 
must have been chief of Athol before he became king of the 
Picts. What the peculiar rule was which regulated the election 
of these chiefs to the Pictish throne, and on what occasions 
that rule failed .so as to bring the affair " in dubium," it is 
impossible now to determine ; but from the authorities which 
we have mentioned we may conclude, first, that the privilege 
of being elected monarch of the Picts, was confined exclusively 
to the hereditar}' chiefs of the different tribes into which that 
nation was divided, and, secondly, that whenever that election 
was involved in doubt, the chief most nearly related to the last 
king by the female line was chosen. 

Such a mode of succession as this, however, was not calcu- 
lated to last ; each chief who in this manner obtained the Pictish 
throne, would endeavour to perpetuate the succession in his own 
family, and the power and talent of some chief would at length 
enable him to effect this object and to change the rule of election 
into that of hereditary succession. This object appears in reality 
to have been finally accomplished by Constantin, the son of 
Fergus, who ascended the Pictish throne towards the end of the 
eighth centur}-, and in whose family the monarchy remained for 
some time. 

.Such, then, being the principles which regulated the succession 
to the Pictish throne, it may be well to enquire whether the 


same rule of election applied to the chiefs of the different tribes 
as well as to the monarch of the whole nation. The fact of the 
regal succession of the Picts being so peculiar does not in itself 
by any means lead to the inference that the same principles must 
have regulated the succession of the chiefs, for it is plain that 
this peculiarity assumed its form, not from the general principles 
of succession having always been so, but from the fact of the 
Picts having been rather an association of small and indepen- 
dent tribes united onl\' b}' similarity of origin and language, 
and for purposes of mutual safety, than one compact nation. 
Consequentl)' no argument drawn from the nature of the 
succession to an office of no distant origin, and one produced 
b\' adventitious circumstances, can affect the question as to the 
nature of succession in general, which must have existed from 
the beginning, and which it is scarcely possible that circum- 
stances can alter. Whatever was the nature of the succession 
among the chiefs, we may infer with great probability that when 
one of these chiefs succeeded in perpetuating the succession to 
the throne in his own tribe, the mode of succession introduced 
b\- him must have been that previously existing in his own tribe. 
This was effected for the first time by Constantin, who com- 
menced his reign anno 791. He was succeeded by his brother 
Angus. Angus was succeeded by Drust the son of Constantin, 
and Drust b)' Uen the son of Angus. We see here, that though 
this was strictly a male succession, yet that in several points it 
differs from our ordinarv rules of male succession. Thus it 
seems to have been a fixed rule among the Picts that brothers 
in all cases succeeded before sons ; this is observable in the 
catalogues of the Pictish kings, and also in the only instance 
we possess of succession to the government of a tribe when 
Nectan is succeeded in Atholl by his brother, Talorg. Secondly, 
after all the brothers had succeeded, the children of the elcler 
brother were called to the succession ; and, thirdly, as in the 
case before us, in their failure the sons of the second brother 
succeeded, and so forth. 

Among the Dalriads the rules of succession to the govern- 
ment of the different tribes appear to have been very much the 
same ; this is evident upon referring to the genealogies of the 
Dalriadic kings, and it A\ould be needless to multiply examples. 


With regard to the succession to the command of the Dalriadic 
nation, that appears originally to have been governed by the 
same rule as that of the single tribes, and it afterwards became 
so frequently the subject of contention, that in general the most 
powerful at the time obtained the supremacy. 

Such, then, is a general view of these nations in the year 731. 
The Picts, we have seen, were by far the most powerful of the 
different nations inhabiting North Britain ; they possessed the 
whole of Scotland proper, or Scotland north of the Firths of 
Forth and Clyde, with the exception of the southern part of 
Argyllshire, which was occupied by the Dalriads ; although 
divided into numerous tribes, they were united under the rule of 
one monarch, and while part of the nation had made consider- 
able progress in civilization, and therefore may be supposed less 
inured to warfare, the other part possessed all the hardihood and 
constitutional bravery of a mountain people. The Dalriads, on 
the contrary, were of far less power ; they occupied a small and 
mountainous district, and apparently owed their existence in 
the heart of the Pictish tribes to the strength of their natural 
barriers, the poverty of their country, and their alliance with 
Ireland, and perhaps also to the policy with which they took 
advantage of the jealousies and rivalry between the two great 
nations of the Picts. 

In the ninth centur}' we find the state of Scotland very 
different ; the whole country was then united under the 
government of one monarch, hereditary succession was firmly 
established, the once formidable name of Picti gradually dis- 
appearing, and the name of Scotia and Scotti, formerly confined 
to so small a portion of the island, rapidly spreading over the 
whole country. It must unquestionably have been a series of 
events of no small importance which could have given rise to a 
revolution so remarkable. 



The Scottish Conquest — Its Effects did not extend to the 
Northern Picts, but were confined exclusively to the 
Southern Picts, or Picts inhabiting the Lowlands— The 
Northern Picts were altogether unaffected by that 
Conquest, and remained in some degree independent of 
THE Scottish Dynasty, which then began to rule over 

THE greater part OF SCOTLAND. 

Having now examined, at some length, the internal state 
and constitution of the different tribes inhabiting Scotland in 
the year 731, and ascertained their relative position, we shall 
be better enabled to determine the nature and extent of the 
singular revolution which took place in the ninth century. In 
doing this we are unfortunately deprived of the usual mode of 
ascertaining an historical point, as the silence of the best autho- 
rities for the history of this period, and the fables of 

No distinct i i • • ' i i r i • • i • 

autiioiity the Other historians, have lelt us no distinct authority 

regarding - . ... •, i i 

the Scottish for the nature 01 the event. It is still possible, how^- 

conquest. . - , . 

ever, in a point of this nature, to make a considerable 
approximation to the truth, by reasoning as well from the 
natural consequences of the events which we know to have 
happened previously to the revolution as from the condition of 

the country after it. Either of these modes of reason- 
TsMrtained^ iug in thcmselves would afford a strong presumption 
ofrel^onhfg^^ that the conclusion to which we are brought by them, 

was probably the true one, but if the result of both 
accurately coincides, we are then warranted in concluding that 
we have made the nearest approximation to the truth, which it 
is possible to attain regarding the nature of a revolution occur- 
ring at so very distant a period. 

In the first place, then, we shall ascertain the principal events 
of the history of Scotland, between the )-ear 731 and that in 


which the Scottish conquest is said to have taken place, and by 
arguing from the effects likel\' to have resulted from 

First, from ^ i • ' 1 1 r 

the natural them, lorm a conclusion as to what the nature of 

consequences . , 

of previous that revolution must have been, i he record oi these 


events is principally to be found in the Irish Annals. 
In the }'ear 731, Angus Mac Fergus, as he is 
Kelgn'of' styled by the Annalists, commenced a reign of thirty 
of°fbe Kcts^ years over the Pictish nation. By a continued course 

of victory, and the gradual subjugation of every 
opponent, he had in the }'ear 729 raised himself to the command 
of the Piccardach or southern Picts, to which division of the 

nation he belonged ; and finally, in the vear 731, b\' 

Bis conquests. _ , tvt /-^ ' 

the conquest of Talorgan Mac Congusa, his last 
opponent, he obtained the throne of the whole Pictish nation. 
From the opposition which Angus met with, and from the 
number of opponents with whom he had to contend, it would 
seem that originally he possessed but a doubtful title to the 
throne ; and that he owed his success rather to his own power 
and talents than to the support of any of the other Pictish chiefs. 
After he had in the year 729 overcome all opposition among the 
southern Picts, his efforts were directed entirely against the 
Cruithne or northern Picts ; and it would appear from the con- 
stant succession of attacks, to which he was subjected during 
his reign from that nation, that they strenuously opposed his 
right to the throne. Angus at length succeeded in subduing 
their opposition, and it is quite clear, from the Irish Annalists, 
that the immediate result of his success and rapidly increasing 
power was, as might be expected from the character of the 
Celts, a league between the principal tribes of the northern Picts 
and the Dalriads or Scots of Argyll, who were ever read\- for 
war with their Pictish enemies. 

When Angus Mac Fergus commenced his reign 
^aguTbe-* over the Picts, Eocha, the son of Eochaigh of the line 
northern^ of Gabran, ruled over the Dalraids. On his death in 
Dalriads. 733, the line of Loarn obtained the superiority in 

Dalriada in the person of Muredach, the son of 
Aincellach, and it was immediately on the commencement of 
his reign that this league appears to have been formed, for in 
the same year, Dungal, the son of Selvach, and consequently 


his cousin, made a sudden descent upon the monastery of Tory 
Island, surprised Brude, the son of Angus, the Pictish king, who 
was there at the time, and in defiance of the monasterial 
privileges carried him off. This act of treacher)- was revenged 
in the following }'ear by Angus, who undertook an expedition 
into the Dalriadic territories. W^hen on his march for that 
purpose, Talorcan Mac Congusa, by whose conquest Angus had 
obtained the Pictish throne, was delivered up to him by his own 
brother, and was immediately drowned. Angus then penetrated 
into the district of Lorn, where he was attacked near the foot of 
Defeat of Dunolly bv Talorcan Mac Drusten, the king of Atholl. 

p?^s'a^ Talorcan, however, was defeated and taken prisoner, 

Dainads ^^^^ somc }'ears afterwards shared the same fate A\-ith 

Talorcan Mac Congusa. Angus then returned to Dunleitfin, a fort 
upon the banks of the river Leven, which he destroyed, and Dun- 
gal, being wounded in its defence, was obliged to fly to Ireland 
from his power. Angus thus, by the same vigour and success which 
had marked his previous career, crushed this formidable union. 

Two }'ears after this, Dungal again returned to Scotland, 
having, in all probability, received assistance from Ireland, and 
Angus once more made preparations for invading Dalriada. 
His formidable army was divided into two parts ; with the one 
he him.self laid waste the whole of Dalriada, burnt the fort of 
Dunadd, carried off an immense booty, and cast the two sons of 
Selvac, Dungal and Feradach, into chains. In the meantime, 
his brother, Talorcan, opposed Muredach, the king of Dalriada, 
with the other division of the army, and a battle was fought 
between them on the banks of the Linne Loch, in \\hich 
Talorcan was victorious, and Muredach was obliged to fl\-. 

Whether the northern Picts were engaged in this second 
attempt, it is impossible to determine, but Angus seems to have 
firmly established his power b\- the event, and to have, for the 
time, completely crushed the power of the Dalriads.^ 

' For this short detail of the events different years in which they are said 

which occurred subsequent to 731, the to have occurred. The author cannot 

reader is referred to the accurate resist calling the attention of the 

copies of Tighemac and the Annals of reader to the valuable addition which 

Ulster, printed by 0"Connor, in which an examination of these important 

the authorities for the various events Annals in the original makes to the 

here stated will be found under the history of this period. 

CHAP. Ill] 



A.D. 73G. 
of Dalriada. 

With this year commences a very remarkable 
difference between the various chronicles of the 
Dalriadic kings. These chronicles consist of what 
are generally termed the Latin Lists or Chronicles of several 
of the Scottish monasteries written in the twelfth centur>' ; and 
of the Albanic Duan, a work composed in the year 1050, and 
consequently the oldest and best authority for the list of their 
kings. These various lists agree in general down to the flight 
of Muredach, and whenever there is any discrepancy between 
them, the Albanic Duan is invariably supported by Tighernac, 
and the Ulster xA.nnals. After Muredach, however, they differ 
altogether, and the two lists are as follows. 

Albanic Duan. 


Miiredh 3 

Aodh na Ardflailh, 30 

Domnall 24 

Conaill 2 

Conaill 4 

Constantin 9 

Aongus 9 

Aodha 4 

Eoganan 13 

Dungal 7 

Alpin 4 

Kenneth Mac Alpin . . . .109 

Latin Lists. 


Muredach 3 

Ewen 5 

Muredach 3 

Ewen 3 

Hedalbus 30 

Fergus 3 

Selvad 21 

Eooati 30 

Dilnoal 7 

Alpin 4 

Kenneth Mac Alpin . . . .109 

On comparing these two lists it will be observed that they 
both agree as to the reign of Muredach, and that after him they 
differ altogether, both in the names and number of the kings, 
until they come to Eoganan, where they once more agree during 
the last three reigns. The antiquit) of the Albanic Duan, and 
the fact that the amount of the reigns of the different kings 
mentioned by it make up exactly the interval between the reign 
of Muredach and that of Kenneth, precludes the possibility of 
that part of the list not being authentic ; while at the same time 
the number and accordance of the Latin Lists obliges us to 
receive their catalogue also as genuine ; consequently, the only 
supposition which can be made is, that between the reigns of 



Muredach and Eoganan, there existed in Dalriada two inde- 
pendent lines of princes, and that these two lines were once 
more united in the person of Eoganan, after he had reigned 
seventeen years in one part of the Dalriadic territories. 

Two of the kings contained in the Latin Lists during this 
period are to be found in the Irish Annals : in 778 they mention 
the death of Edfin Mac Eachach, Ri Dalriadcx, and in 781 the 
death of Fergus Mac Eachach, Ri Dalriada. From this it 
would appear that the kings of the Latin Lists were the kings 
of Dalriada, properly speaking, and not those of the Albanic 
Duan, and also that they were descended from Eachach, who 
reigned over Dalriada in 726, and who was a Scot, of the tribe 
of Gabran. The question then comes to be, who 
princes in wcrc the kiugs said bv^ the Albanic Duan to be 


reigning in Dalriada during this period ? Aodh, the 
first of them, could not, from the period of his reign, have been 
the same person with Edfin, as is generally supposed ; and the 
fact that Aodh commenced his reign in the very year that the 
Pictish monarch, as we have seen, overran Dalriada, and con- 
quered the whole district of Lorn, affords a strong presumption 
that he must have been put there by the Pictish king, and that 
he ruled over the Pictish possessions in Dalriada. This pre- 
sumption is placed almost beyond a doubt, by the Annals of 
Ulster, where we find, in 749, " The burning of Cillemoire of 
Aidan, the son of Angus." Aodh could not have been of the 
line of Lorn, for the first of the proper kings of Dalriada during 
this period, as given by the Latin Lists, is Ewen, the son of 
Muredach, of that line. He could not have been of the line of 
Fergus, for Ewen is succeeded, in the thirteenth year of Aodh's 
reign, by Edfin of Fergus line ; and when during the reign of 
Aodh w^e find Cillemoire, a place in Lorn, actually in possession 
of a person of the same name, and when that person is described 
as the son of Angus, shortly after the district of Lorn had been 
conquered by Angus, king of the Picts, we must hold it to 
establish beyond a doubt, that Aodh, or Aidan, was the son of 
Angus Mac Fergus, king of the Picts, and that he was the first 
of a line of Pictish princes who ruled over the Pictish possessions 
in Dalriada. 

The two lines of kings reigning at the same time in Dalriada 


unite, as we have seen, in the person of Eoganan, whose reign in 
the Latin Lists is made to extend to thirty years, and in the 
Albanic Duan to only thirteen. He would appear, consequently, 
to have been one of the kings of Dalriada, of the Scottish line, 
and to have recovered possession of the territories 
Dalriada by which had been wrested from his ancestors by Angus 

the Scots. . . 1 1 • 1 1 1-11 

m 736. I his undertaking he apparently accomplished 
by the assistance of the Irish. The seventeenth year of his reign, 
or that in which he obtained possession of the whole of Dalriada, 
will fall about the year 819, and in that very year the Annals of 
Inisfallen mention the death or slaughter of Aid, king of Ireland, 
while fighting in Alban, or Scotland ; and in another part of the 
same annals he is mentioned as having been killed at the battle 
of Druvi ; thus plainly indicating that he assisted the Dalriads 
in recovering their ancient possessions, and that he was himself 
slain after they had pushed their success as far as the Drum, 
or Drumalban, the original boundary between the Picts and 

The events which took place between the conquest of part 
of Dalriada by the Picts in 736, and its recovery by the Dalraids 
in 819, are not numerous. 

In 741 the northern Picts appear once more to 
between ufe"^ have leagued with the Dalriadic Scots, and to have 
and ruTr^dsT slaiii onc of the Pictish princes on the side of Angus 
feat.*^""^ *^''' Mac Fergus, which aggression was immediately 
followed by the attack and total defeat of the 

In 749 Cillemoire, the residence of the Pictish prince in 
Lorn, was burnt, probably by Edfin, the Dalriadic king. 

In 761 died Angus Mac Fergus, certainly the 
Angus"* most powerful king the Picts ever had. He raised 

Picto."*"'^ the southern Picts to a great superiority in Scotland. 
He defeated the northern Picts, and brought these 
turbulent tribes under his subjection. He almost annihilated 
the Scots of Dalriada; and yet it was his power and his victories 
which laid the germs of that revolution which resulted in the 
overthrow of the Pictish influence in Scotland. 

Angus was succeeded by his brother Brude, who reigned 
only two years. After Brude's death the northern Picts appear 


to have regained their strength sufficiently to enable them to 
place Kenneth, a chief of that race, upon the throne, although 
they were opposed by Aodh, the son of Angus and chief of 
the Piccardach. Kenneth was succeeded by Elpin, but it is 
uncertain whether he was of the northern or southern Picts. 
He was succeeded by Drust, son of Talorcan, who was probably 
the same as Talorcan, the king of Atholl, and therefore a 
northern Pict. Drust was succeeded by Talorcan, con of the 
famous Angus, and he again, after a reign of two years and 
a half, by Conall, the son of Tarla or Tadg, who reigned five 

From the death of Angus, in the year 761, down to this 
period, there seems to have been a constant struggle between 
the northern and southern Picts for the superiority, the two 
races being apparently alternately successful, for a king 
of the one race generally succeeds one of the other down 
to the reign of Conall, when the southern Picts under Con- 
stantin Mac Fergus, a descendant of Angus, succeeded once 
more in obtaining the pre-eminence \\hich they had had 
under Angus. 

In 789 a battle was fought between Conall and Constantin, 
in which Constantin was victorious, although Conall succeeded 
in making his escape. During a long reign of thirty years 
Constantin established the power of the southern Picts so firmly 
that he was enabled to transmit the crown to his posterity, and 
thus introduce hereditary succession to the throne for the first 
time among the Picts. Conall, on his defeat by Constantin, 
appears to have adopted the usual policv of the 

Third league , ^. . \ ,. , , 

between the northern Picts, and immediately to have entered 

northern . . , 

Pictaand mto a league With the Dalriadic Scots; for we find 

Dalriads. , - 

him in 807 fighting in Dalriada, having attacked 
the possessions of the southern Picts in that territory, 
although unsuccessfully, as he was killed in Kintyre 

bv Conall, the son of Aidan, the Pictish prince 

Their defeat " ^ 

In 819, the Dalriads at last prevailed, after so many un- 
successful attempts, in recovering the territory which had been 
wrested from them by the southern Picts, and their success 
was principally owing to the assistance of the Irish Monarch, 


although there can be little doubt that the northern Pi'cts would 
on that occasion be faithful to those allies by whom they had 
been so frequently assisted. 

In 839, Uen, the last king of the Picts of the line of 
Constantin, was killed by the Danes, and with him the power 
of the southern Picts again declined. ^ The only fact which 
is at all known with certainty after this date, is the death of 
Alpin, king of Dalriada in Galloway, after he had overrun and 
nearly destroyed that province ; ^ and the chronicles are alto- 
gether silent until we find his son Kenneth in the undisturbed 
possession of the whole of Scotland north of the Firths of 
Forth and Clyde. 

Such being a short outline of the events which occurred 
between the year 731 and the Scottish conquest, so far as they 
can be ascertained from the more authentic annalists, it will 
now be proper to proceed to the first line of argument by which 
the true character of that conquest can be established, namely, 
by arguing from the natural consequences of these events, and 
the change which they were calculated to produce in the relative 
situation of the different nations which at that time inhabited 

The accession First. — We have seen that the pre-eminent power 

the southern to which the Piccardach or southern Picts attained 

Picts on three i a -» x t^ i i i • 

occasions h»v. undcr Angus Mac Fergus, had the immediate effect 

ing forced the , 

northern Picts of causing the iiorthem Picts to offer every opposition 

into league 

with the Dal- to that power, and to take every opportunity of ren- 

riads against '^ ^ i i j ^ 

them, a fourth dcring themsclvcs independent of them — an object, 

attempt would '-' ^ •' 

have the same vvhich, although they were unsuccessful during the 
life of Angus, they accomplished after his death, and 
even succeeded in placing two monarchs of their own race upon 
the Pictish throne. 

We have also seen that the very same cause under Constantin 
Mac Fergus and his brother Angus, fifty years later, produced 
the very same effect of causing the revolt of the northern Picts ; 
and that although they were equally unsuccessful during the 
lives of these two princes, yet during the reign of Drust, son 
of Constantin, who succeeded Angus, they appear as indepen- 

' See Note, p. 32. ^ Register of St. Andrews 


dent, and governed by a king of their own of the name of 
Talorcan, according to the Pictish chronicle. 

Such having been the result of the great accession of power 
obtained by the southern Picts upon three several occasions, it 
is to be presumed that when upon the death of Uen, the last 
king of the line of Fergus, the southern Picts attempted for 
the fourth time to assert their superiority, and to put forward 
a king of their own race, the northern Picts would oppose 
them to the utmost of their power, and would endeavour, as they 
had done thrice before under similar circumstances, to render 
themselves altogether independent of the southern division of 
the race. But when we find that immediately after the death of 
Uen, the southern Picts were engaged in contest with Alpin, the 
Dalriadic king, and that they were unable to prevent his con- 
quering Galloway, one of their principal provinces, we may infer 
that the northern Picts had been successful in their fourth 
attempt, and consequently that at the date of the Scottish 
conquest they were perfectly independent of, and unconnected 
with the southern Picts. 

Second. — Further, it has been seen that on the three several 
occasions when the power and superiority attained by the 
southern Picts under Angus Mac Fergus, and afterwards under 
Constantin, drove the northern Picts into revolt, they were not 
content with merely endeavouring to render themselves inde- 
pendent, but actually leagued with the Dalriadic Scots in active 
opposition to the Piccardachs ; on the first two occasions, when 
we find the king of the northern district of Atholl fighting along 
with the Dalriads against Angus, the Pictish king ; and on the 
third occasion, when we find that Conall Mac Tadg, the king 
of the race of the northern Picts whom Constantin drove from 
the throne, was killed by the Pictish Prince of Lorn while 
fighting in Kintyre, and therefore assisting the Scots of Dalriada. 
It is but reasonable to infer, that when the power of the southern 
Picts drove them for the fourth time into revolt, they would 
again join the Scots in opposition to the Piccardachs, and would 
assist them in their final and successful attempt. Again, the 
great object of the Piccardach princes was apparently to per- 
petuate the succession to the Pictish crown in their own family, 
and the northern Picts appear to have constantly opposed that 


object, and consequently to have upheld the ancient Pictish 
mode of succession by the female line. Now, as from the name 
of Alpin, and those of his descendants, it is plain that the 
Dalriadic-king must have been connected with the Picts by the 
female line, it is natural to suppose that the northern Picts 
would support the heir to the Pictish crown according to the 
ancient system of succession, rather than to permit the intro- 
duction of hereditary succession in the line of the southern 
Picts, and the consequent increase of their power, even although 
that support should have the effect of placing a foreign family 
upon the throne. 

It is manifest, then, that if the Cruithne or northern Picts 
were altogether independent of the southern Picts at the time 
of the conquest, and if they even actually assisted the Dalriadic 
Scots in that conquest, they would themselves remain unaffected 
by its results, and instead of suffering from the success of that 
invasion, would even in all probability obtain an accession of 

Such is the conclusion to which we are brought by this mode 
of argument ; but there is still another mode bv 

Second mode i • i i i • r i ' 

of argument, which the naturc and mtent of this revolution may 

by coutrasting . 

the si'uation be ascertauied. We know the exact state and internal 

of the tribes 

after the con- coiiditioii of the different tribes in 731 : by contrasting 

quest, with . . / o J fc. 

tiieir condi- with this the situation of the same tribes after the 

tion in ,31. 

alleged conquest, it is manifest that we may deduce 
from their condition after that event the probable nature of the 
revolution which produced so great a change. 

From this contrast we obtain the following results : — 
P"irst. — In the year 731, Scotland was inhabited by two 
distinct nations, the Picts, and the Dalriadic Scots. These 
nations were independent of each other, and were governed 
by independent lines of princes. After the year 843, we find 
the whole of Scotland under the government of one monarch ; 
it therefore necessarily follows, either that these two nations 
were united into one, or that the one reduced the other under 
its dominion. 

Second. — As we find that after the year 843 there was but 
one king over Scotland, and as we find that the succession to 
the throne was purely hereditary, it is manifest that the monarch 


must have been descended either from the Scottish or the Pictish 
Hnc. But the name of Scotland appears never to have been 
applied to North Britain before that date, but rather to have 
subsequently extended itself gradually over the whole country, 
and to have at last superseded the more ancient appella- 
tion of Albion or Albania. It is consequently to be inferred 
that the later kings were of the Scottish race, and that 
the Scots had obtained a preponderance over the Picts ; 
besides this inference, which results naturally from the argu- 
ment, the whole authorities for the early history of Scot- 
land concur in establishing the fact, that Kenneth, the first 
monarch who ruled over the whole country, was of the 
Scottish race. 

Third. — When we consider that the name of Scotland did 
not spread rapidly over the country, but that it was many 
centuries before that appellation comprehended the whole of 
Scotland, and also that the first four or five kings of the line 
of Kenneth are termed by the Irish annalists kings of the Picts, 
and not of the Scots, or of Scotland, we must infer that the 
effects produced by the conquest did not extend to the whole of 
the Picts, but that a very considerable part of them must have 
remained altogether unaffected by the invasion, and that the 
name of Scotland must have spread over the country, rather 
from the fact of its kings being derived from that race, and 
of their political pre-eminence, than from an actual subjugation 
of all the Pictish tribes, as feigned by the Scottish historians ; 
a theory the absurdity of which it is impossible not to perceive, 
if we look at the state of Scotland in 731, and the very great 
superiority of the Picts over the Scots in power, extent of 
territor)', and in numbers. 

Fourth. — If we find, subsequent to the year 843, or the date 
of the supposed conquest, any part of the Pictish nation appear- 
ing as a body, under a peculiar national name, and apparently 
distinguished by that name from the rest of Scotland, it is 
manifest that that tribe could have formed no part of the 
Scottish conquest, and must have retained their territory and 
their independence, notwithstanding the subjugation of the rest 
of the countr)^ But we find from the Irish annalists, that as 
late as the year 865, the northern Picts appear as a distinct 


people from the rest of Scotland, under their ancient and 
peculiar name of Cruithen tuath, or CruitJuie of the North. We 
must consequently conclude that the Cruithne were not affected 
by the conquest, but remained a peculiar and distinct people 
for many years afterwards. The northern Picts, however, are 
not the only exceptions ; for the Strath Clyde Britons exhibit 
a parallel instance of the same thing. They are frequently 
mentioned after the date of the conquest, by their peculiar 
national appellation. i\nd we know from history that they 
were not included in the conquest, but remained for a long 
period independent, and under the government of their own 

Not only, however, do the northern Picts appear as a distinct 
body under their peculiar appellation of Cruithne, as late as the 
year 865, but we even find that their territories, consisting of the 
whole of Scotland north of the Grampains, retained the appella- 
tion of Pictavia as late as the year 894. This appears very clear 
from the Pictish Chronicle, for in 865, when the annals of Ulster 
mention that the Northmen ravaged the Cruithen tuath, or 
northern Picts, the Pictish Chronicle, in relating the same event, 
uses the expression Pictavia, instead of Cruithen tuath. After- 
wards, in 894, the Pictish Chronicle mentions that the Norwegians 
conquered Pictavia, but we know from the Norse Sagas that this 
conquest was confined to the country north of the Grampians. 
Wherever the Norwegians ravaged other parts of the country, 
the Pictish Chronicle invariably uses the expression Albania 
instead of Pictavia. If the northern Picts appear as a distinct 
people, retaining their ancient appellation so late as the 
year 865, and if their territories also retained the name of 
Pictavia as late as the end of the ninth century, it is evident 
that that territory could not have been comprised within those 
conquered by the Scots, and that the name of Scotland must 
have spread over that part of the country from other causes 
than that of conquest. 

This result is confirmed by all the native writers of Scotland, 
who invariably confine the Scottish conquest to the country 
south of the Grampians, although they err in supposing that the 
country north of that range had been previously in possession 
of the Scots. 


Upon comparing, therefore, the results obtained by the two 
lines of argument which we have followed, we find 

Tlie result ^ ' 

of both them to coincide so very remarkably with each other, 

111 ones of J J 1 

t"iat tiiT*' ^^^'^^ ^^^ cannot, in the absence of express authority 
scotscon- regarding the nature of this revolution, come to 

quered the "=" " ' 

Picuo'iTiy ''^">' other conclusion, than that we have made the 
nearest possible approximation to the truth, and that 
from a strict analysis of all the facts known, either preceding 
or subsequent to that event, and of the inferences deducible from 
them, it appears that the conquest by the Dalriadic Scots was 
confined exclusively to the Piccardach or southern Picts — that 
the Scots were assisted in that conquest by the Cruithne or 
northern Picts — and that after the conquest, the northet'n Picts, 
although they owed a nominal submission to the kings of the 
Scottish line, yrt remained in fact independent, and still retained 
their ancient territories and peculiar designation. 

This view of the conquest is strongly corroborated by the 
testimony of Nennius, who mentions that in the fifth century 
a colony of Jutes under Octa and Ebussa, settled on the north 
of the " Mare fresicum id est quod inter nos Scotosque est usque 
ad co}ifi)iia Pictorumy ^ Whatever may be the truth with 
regard to this colony, the clear inference from this passage is, 
that fifteen }'ears after the Scottish conquest, or in 858, when 
Nennius wrote, the Scots occupied the country immediately 
north of the P^irth of Eorth, and the Picts lay beyond them, and 
were separated from them by a distinct boundary. In other 
words, the Scots occupied the territories previously possessed 
by the southern Picts, while the northern Picts remained 
untouched ; and this view is likewise supported by the only 
facts regarding the war immediately preceding that event, 
which are to be found in the ancient chronicles. 

Alpin's attack appears, from the register of St. Andrews, 
to have been confined to Galloway, a province of the so7ithern 
Picts ; and it is expressly said by that chronicle, that it was 
his conquest of that territory which transferred the kingdom 
of the Picts to the Scots. Kenneth, his son, apparently fought 
but one battle, and that battle took place, according to the same 

' Xennius, c. 37. 


chronicle, at Forteviot, in the very heart of the territory of the 
southern Picts. 

The origin of the fable of the subjugation and even exter- 
mination of the whole Pictish nation, is probably to be found 
in the circumstance, that the southern Picts were known by the 
peculiar name of Piccardach or Picts proper, a name \\hich 
never occurs after the date of the conquest, while the northern 
Picts have the appellation of Cruithne, under which name they 
appear as late as the }'ear 865, and thus those events which 
originally belonged to the Piccardach or Picts proper onl}-, were 
afterwards, when both names had long ceased to be used, 
naturally extended to the whole Pictish nation. 



The Northern Picts called themselves Gael, spoke the Gaelic 
Language, and were the real Ancestors of the modern 

In the preceding chapter it has been shewn that the revolution 
ill 843. generally termed the Scottish conquest, made no altera- 
tion whatever in the state of the inhabitants of the northern or 
mountainous part of Scotland, but that its effects were confined 
exclusively to the southern and lowland districts. This impor- 
tant point being established, we come now more immediately 
to the question of the origin of the modern Highlanders, or that 
Gaelic race at present inhabiting these mountains. From the 
remarks which have been previously made on the early history of 
Scotland, it is plain the Highlanders must have been either the 
descendants of the northern Picts, or of the Scots of Dalriada 
who conquered the southern Picts, or else we must suppose them 
to ha\'e been a different people from either of these nations, and 
to have entered the country subsequently to the Scottish con- 
quest ; for these three suppositions manifestly exhaust all the 
theories which can be formed on the subject of their origin. 
The second of these theories is the one which has generally 
been maintained by historians, and the traditions at present 
current among the Highlanders themselves would rather support 
the latter. In another part of this work, the descent of the 
m.odern Highland clans from the Gaelic race which inhabited 
the Highlands of Scotland in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, 
will be fully shewn. But the present chapter will be devoted 
to the proof of the simple fact, that the Gaelic race were the 
descendants of the inhabitants of the same district in the ninth 
centur\', and consequently of the northern Picts. It would be 
inconsistent with the limits of this work to enter into any 
examination of the other two hypotheses, and it would also 

CHAP. IV] O F S C O T L A N D 45 

be unnecessary, for it is evident that if I am successful in 
establishing this great fact, the reputed origin of the High- 
landers from the Scots, whether of Dalriada or of Ireland, as 
well as all the other systems which have been maintained, 
must be equally false. 

The descent of the Highlanders of the eleventh 
Descentof j^j-jj twelfth ceuturies from the northern Picts of the 

the High- 

from the ninth, may be proved in two ways : — First, by shew- 

Picu"" ing that the northern Picts spoke the same language 

and bore the same national appellation as the High- 
landers, and when we add to this the fact, that they inhabited 
the same territories at no very great distance of time, the 
presumption will be very strong that they must have been the 
same people. Secondly, by tracing the Highlanders up to the 
northern Picts, and by shewing such a connexion between these 
two nations as to render it impossible that any foreign people 
could have settled in the Highlands between these periods. 

hi the first place, they spoke the same language, 
language' of and werc known among themselves by the same 

national name. It is well known that the language 
spoken by the Highlanders of Scotland is a dialect of that 
great branch of the Celtic languages termed the " Gaelic," and 
that the people using that language have always termed them- 
selves Gael, while the Highlanders as belonging to that branch 
of the Celtic race designate themselves sometimes as Gael and 
sometimes Albanaich or Gael Albanaich. These facts are 
admitted by every one. 

The first proof which I shall bring that the Picts 
TriadT.^'^^ ^vere a Gaelic race, and spoke a dialect of the Gaelic 

language, is from the Welsh Triads. The Triads 
appear distinctly to have been written previous to the Scottish 
conquest in the ninth century, and they mention among the 
three usurping tribes of Britain the " Gwyddyl Ffichti" and add 
immediately afterwards, "and these Gwyddyl Ffichti are in 
Alban, along the shore of the sea of Llychlyn." In another 
place, among the treacherous tribes of Britain, the same Triads 
mention the " Gwyddyl coch o'r Werddon a ddaethant in 
Alban," that is " the Red Gwyddyl from Ireland, who came 
into Alban," plainly alluding to the Dalriads, who were an Irish 


colony, and who have been acknowledged by all to have been 
a Gaelic race. It will be observed from these passages that the 
Welsh Triads, certainly the oldest and most unexceptionable 
authority on the subject, apply the same term of Gwyddyl to 
the Picts and to the Dalriads, and consequently they must have 
been of the same race, and the Picts a Gaelic people. Farther, 
the Welsh word " Gwyddyl," by which they distinguish that 
race, has been declared by all the best authorities to be exactly 
synonymous with the word Gael, the name by which the High- 
landers have at all times been distinguished, and the Welsh 
words " Gwyddyl Efichti " cannot be interpreted to mean any- 
thing else than " TlIE GAELIC PiCTS," or " PiCTlSH Gael."i 

Besides the passage above quoted, the Triads frequently 
mention the Picts, and at all times with the word " Gwyddyl " 
prefixed. Caradoc of Nantgarvan, a Welsh writer of the twelfth 
century, also frequently mentions the Picts by this title of 
" Gwyddyl Ffichti," or Gaelic Picts. 

But the Welsh writers are not the only authorities who prove 
the Picts to have spoken Gaelic, for a native writer of the 
seventh century, and one who from his residence in the north 
of Scotland must have been well acquainted with their language, 
furnishes the most incontrovertible evidence that that language 
was a dialect of the Gaelic. Adomnan, it is well 

Adoiiman. i t t r r- • /-< i i • i 

known, wrote the Eiie oi Samt Lolumba m the 
seventh century, at a time when the Picts were at the height 
of their power. On one occasion he mentions that when 
Columba was in Skye, a Gentile old man, as he always terms 
the Picts, came to him, and having been converted, was baptized 
in that island. He then adds this passage : " qui hodieque in 
ora cernitur maritima fluviusque ejusdem loci in quo idem 
baptisma acceperat ex noiiii7ie ejus DOBUR Artbranani usque 
in hodiernum nominatus diem ab accolis vocitatus." ^ It so 
happens, however, that " Dobur " in Gaelic means " a well," 
and that it is a word altogether peculiar to that language, and 
not to be found in any other. It has been fully proved in a 

' It may be mentioned tliat these able work the Welsh Archteologj'. 
passages are taken from tlie originals 
in Welch, as published in that invalu- " Adomnan, b. 1, c. 33. 


preceding chapter, in discussing the extent of the Pictish terri- 
tories, that the inhabitants of Skye must at that time have been 
Picts, and consequently it will follow of necessity from this 
passage that they used the Gaelic language. 

It may be proper here to notice an argument which has been 
frequently drawn from Adomnan, that the Picts and Scots must 
have spoken languages very different from each other. It has 
been urged as a conclusive argument by those who assert the 
language of the Picts to have been a Teutonic dialect, that 
on several occasions when Columba, who was an Irish Scot, 
addressed the Picts, he is described by Adomnan as using an 
intei'preter. Now, although Columba is very frequently men- 
tioned as conversing with the Picts, there are but two occasions 
on which any such expression is used,i and in both passages the 
expression of Adomnan is exactly the same, viz. : — " Verbo Dei 
per interpretatorem recepto." It will be remarked, that 
Adomnan does not say that Columba used an interpreter in 
conversing with the Picts, but merely that he interpreted or 
explained the word of God, that is, the Bible, which being 
written in Latin, would doubtless require to be interpreted to 
them ; and the very distinction which is made by Adomnan, 
who never uses this expression when Columba addresses the 
Picts, but only when he reads the word of God to them, proves 
clearly that they must have understood each other without 
difficulty, and that there could have been but little difference 
of language between the two nations of Picts and Scots. 

The third proof which I shall adduce to show 


ofthecoun. that the Picts spoke a Gaelic dialect, and perhaps 
the strongest of all, is derived from the topography 
of the country. The territories of the Picts, as we have shewn 
in a preceding chapter, consisted of the whole of Scotland north 
of the Firths of Forth and Clyde, with the exception of the 
southern parts of Argyll. It has never been disputed that 
the names of the places in general throughout this territory can 
admit of being derived from some Celtic dialect only, and that 
those in the Highlands are exclusively Gaelic ; even Pinkerton 
has confessedly failed altogether in his attempt to discover 

^ Adomnan, b. 2, c. 33, 12. 


Teutonic etymologies for the topography of the country. It 
would therefore be but a waste of time to prove an assertion 
which has been so generally admitted ; and it will only be 
necessary here to notice two objections which have been made 
to the conclusion to which we are naturally led by this fact, 
viz. : — that the Picts, who at all times inhabited the greater part 
-of the north of Scotland, must hav^e been a Gaelic people. 

In the first place, it has been said that there is a clear 
■distinction perceptible between the names of places in the High- 
lands and those in the eastern or Lowland part of the country, 
and that while the former are unquestionably Gaelic, the latter 
can be traced to the Kymric or Welsh dialect only. From this 
supposed distinction, one author ^ concludes that the country 
must have been inhabited by British tribes before the arrival 
of the Caledonians or Picts, who are considered by him as of 
Teutonic origin ; and another author ^ infers, from the same 
fact, that the Picts themselves were of Cymric or British descent. 
Nothing, however, can be more erroneous than the premises 
from which these conclusions are drawn ; for an attentive 
examination of the topography of the two divisions of the 
country will shew that there is no difference whatever between 
the elements which compose the names of the natural features in 
both, and that those in the Lowlands are as purely Gaelic as 
those in the Highlands. 

The words which are principally dwelt upon as affording 
proof of a Welsh derivation are those syllables, Aber, For, Pit, 
Lan, Strath, &c., which so frequently enter into the composition 
of the names of places in Scotland. Now, nothing more will 
be requisite than to refer to the best Gaelic dictionaries, in order 
to shew that all these words are as purely Gaelic as they are 
Welsh ; and a map of the Highlands will prove distinctly that 
they are to be found as constantly occurring in the one part 
of the country as in the other. 3 

^ Pinkerton. word corresponding exactly with the 

2 p, , Gaelic word Inver, and that they are 

used synonymously in the different 

» The tirst of these words is the one parts of Scotland. The best mode of 

which has been principally made use ascertaining to what language a word 

of in this argument, and it has been properly belongs is by reducing that 

always assumed that Abei- is a Welsh word to its primitives, and in whatever 


The second objection which has been made to the conclusion 
is a more serious one, for it has been asserted by one writer with 
great confidence, that the topography of Scotland has changed, 
and that the Gaelic names- so universal over the country were 
introduced by the Scottish conquest in the ninth century. Of 
such a change of nomenclature he has, after much research, 
produced one solitary example. To this it might be a sufficient 
answer to remark, that history shews us that a change of popula- 
tion rarely if ever produces any change in the topography of 
the country, and that in particular no change is perceptible in 
Scotland during the last eight centuries, although the Low- 
landers, a Teutonic race, have been in possession of the country 
which was previously inhabited by a Celtic race. But a still 
stronger answer will be found in the fact that a considerable 
number of the names of places in the Pictish territories previous 
to the Scottish conquest, have come down to us in the ancient 
chronicles, and that these names are invariably retained in the 
present day, and are of pure Gaelic origin. A remarkable 
instance of this occurs in the Pictish Chronicle. That ancient 
chronicle, in mentioning the foundation of the Church of Aber- 
nethy, describes the boundaries of the territory ceded to the 
Culdees by the Pictish king as having been " a lapide in 
Apurfeirt usque ad lapidem juxta Cairfuil, id est Lethfoss, et 
inde in altum usque ad A than." It is plain from the style of 
this passage that these names were used at that very time, 
and it is a remarkable fact that the same places are still known 
by these names, although slightly corrupted into those of 
Apurfarg, Carpow, and Ayton, and that the words are 
unquestionably Gaelic. It may also be remarked that the 
" Cairfuil id est Lethfoss " is exactly parallel to the instance so 

language these primitives are found, word ath, signifying a ford, and conse- ■ 
it is from that dialect that the word quently, according to the rules of 
must he held to have sprung. Now philology, we must consider aber to be 
the Gaelic word inver is well known a Gaelic word ; a fact which is asserted 
to be composed of the preposition ann in the latest and best Gaelic diction- 
andtheprimitive word fiibr, signifying aries. With regard to all these 
water; but it is quite plain that that disputed words, reference is made to 
word bior also enters into the com- the excellent Gaelic Dictionary pub- 
position of the word aber, which is lished by the Highland Society of 
formed by the addition of the Gaelic Scotland. 



triumphantly adduced by the author above alluded to,i and shews 
that a place may from various circumstances have two names, 
both of which can be traced to the same language. It will 
be unnecessary to produce other instances in proof of the fact 
that the names of places have almost universally remained 
unaltered to the present day from a very early period. A perusal 
of Adomnan's life of St. Columba will of itself be sufficient 
to establish the fact in respect of Scottish topography, and 
numerous examples will be found in other sources. These 
three proofs then which we have brought forward suffice to shew 
that the Picts must have spoken a Gaelic dialect, and form 
a body of evidence much stronger than any which can generally 
be adduced regarding the language of a nation of which no 
written memorial has come down to us. 

Aibani the With regard to their national appellation, it may 

appellation be remarked that besides the evidence of the Welsh 
Triads, the Pictish Chronicle shows that they were 
known in the ninth century by the name of Gael. That chronicle 
mentions, in the reign of Donald, the brother and successor of 
Kenneth Mac Alpin, the following circumstance : — " In hujus 
tempore jura ac leges regni Edi filii Ecdachi fecerunt Goedeli 
cum rege suo in Fothuirtabaict." The kingdom of Edus or 
Edfin was, it is well known, the Scottish kingdom of Dalriada 
prior to the conquest. Now, if by the word Goedeli the Scots 
are meant, it is impossible to conceive how .they could come 
to enact laws which were already the laws of their kingdom. 
The manner in which the passage is expressed plainly indicates 
that the Goedeli were different altogether from the regnum Edi, 
and that the Goedeli were enacting the laws of a kingdom 
different from their own. The transaction has also plainly the 
appearance of a species of treaty or compact between the Goedeli 
on the one hand and the king on the other. We know that 
the regnum Edi was the Scottish kingdom, and that Donald, 
at that time king, was of Scottish lineage, and a descendant 
of P2dfin. The only mode by which an intelligible construction 
can be put upon this passage, is to suppose that the Goedeli 
here refers to the Picts, and that the Pictish Chronicle is 

^ " Inverin qui fuit Aberin." — Chalmers. 


describing a solemn agreement between the Picts and the 
Scottish king, by which they submitted themselves to him, 
and adopted many of the laws of the Scottish kingdom. Besides 
the general name of Gael, the Picts also, as well as the High- 
landers, used the name of Albani or Albanaich ; and an instance 
of this will be found in the descriptions given by the ancient 
Saxon writers of the Battle of the Standard in the year 11 36, 
where the Picts of Galloway, who were placed in the front of 
the army, are mentioned, in charging the enemy, to have 
shouted as their war-cry, " Albanich, Albanich ! " 

When we consider that the northern Picts have been proved 
to have inhabited the whole of the Highlands, with the exception 
of southern Argyll, even as late as the end of the ninth century, 
and that the Scottish conquest did not produce any change 
either in their situation or in their territories ; and that it 
has also been proved that these northern Picts spoke the Gaelic 
language, and bore the appellation of Gael and Albanich as 
well as the Highlanders, the presumption is very strong indeed 
that they must have been the same people, and one which it 
would require evidence of no ordinary force to overturn. But 
in the second place, there is still another proof which 
landers can be remains to be adduced in order to show that the 
the period Highlanders were the descendants of the northern 
northern Picts, and that is, to trace the Highlanders as in 

Picts were in . r i t t • i i i r i i 

possession of possession of the Highlands as lar back as we can, 

their country. '^ . .,.,., , , . , 

uiitil we arrive at a period in which we had previously 
found the northern Picts inhabiting the same country ; and 
thus the impossibility of the Highland clans having been 
descended from any other nation, would be evident. 

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the north of 
Scotland, which at that time was unquestionably inhabited by 
a Gaelic race, was divided into several great districts ; the 
principal of which were the districts of Athol, Moray, Ross, 
Garmoran, Mar, and Buchan. During this period also, we find, 
in the ancient chronicles, and in the Irish Annalists, very 
frequent mention made of certain persons bearing the title of 
Maormors, and generally acting an important part in the various 
events of Scottish history. It is of the greatest 

The Maormors. r i i i i • r i i • 

consequence for the due understanding 01 the history 


of this period, as will appear in the sequel, to ascertain exactl\- 
the nature of that title, and of the territorial divisions of Scot- 
land at the time ; and fortunately these ancient authorities 
have left us sufficient materials for that purpose. A comparison 
of the different facts recorded regarding that office, will lead 
to the following" results. 

First. — -The office of Maormor appears to have been next 
in dignity and power to that of the king ; thus, the Annals 
of Ulster, in describing one of the numerous battles which 
took place between the Scots • and the Danes in the tenth 
centur}-, add " that many of the Scots were killed, but that 
neither king nor Maormor of them were lost in the conflict." ^ 
Besides this, the Pictish Chronicle frequently records the death 
of some of the Maormors as well as that of the king. 

Second. — -We always find the title of Maormor associated 
and connected with one or other of the great districts into which 
Scotland was at that time divided ; thus, the Annals of Ulster 
mention the Maormor of Moray, — the Pictish Chronicle, the 
Maormors of Angus, Atholl, &c. — the Annals of Innisfallen, 
the Maormor of Mar ; and that connexion was apparently so 
close and intimate, as to enable them at times to 'wage inde- 
pendent war with the king of Scotland himself 

Third. — Every notice regarding the succession of the 
Maormors which has reached us, proves that they observed 
a rule of succession strictly hereditary. Of this many examples 
might be given, but perhaps the strongest will be found in 
the succession of the Maormors of Moray. 

In 1032, the Annals of Ulster mention the death of Gil- 
comgain Mac Maolbride, Maormor of Mureve. Afterwards 
in 1058, they have the death of Lulac Mac Gilcovigan^ king 
of Scotland ; and in 1085, the death of Maolsnechtan Mac 
Lulach, king or Maormor of Mureve. Here we see that although 
one of the Maormors of Moray had obtained possession of 
the throne of Scotland, yet on his being driven from that 
prominent station, his son appears as Maormor of Moray. The 
history of the same family also shews very clearly that the 
succession to the dignity of Maormor was strictly a male 

1 An. Ult. ad an. 917. 


succession, for in the beginning of the eleventh century we 
find Malcolm Mac Maolbride, the Maormor of Moray, in 
possession of the throne of Scotland ; and although it appears 
from the Sagas, that Sigurd, earl of Orkney, married Malcolm's 
daughter, and that on Malcolm's death, Thorfinn, earl of Orkney, 
his grandson, was his nearest heir according to feudal principles, 
yet we find that he A\-as succeeded in Moray by his brother 
Gilcomgan Mac Maolbride, to whose posterity also his claim 
to the throne of Scotland descended. 

Fourth. — Not only were the Maormors so intimately connected 
with the great districts of Scotland as to shew that they must 
have possessed in them considerable power and extent of terri- 
tory, but they also appear as the hereditary leaders of great 
tribes, as well as the hereditary governors of these districts. For 
in the year 1020, Tighernac mentions the death of Finlay Mac 
Ruairi, Maonuor of the Clan Croeb, or sons of Croeb, by the 
children of his brother Maolbride. This is a very important 
fact, for it shews that the Gaelic population of the north of Scot- 
land was divided into great tribes, corresponding to the great 
territorial divisions of the countrv ; and that over each of these 


tribes, the Maormor of the district was hereditary lord, and con- 
sequently it follows from this fact, that the Maormors were of 
the same race with the people whom they governed. 

Fifth. — Further, this title of Maormor was quite peculiar to the 
Gaelic people, who at this period inhabited Scotland. It is im- 
possible, on examining the history of this early period, to avoid 
being struck with this fact, and the remark has accordingly been 
very generally made by the later historians. It was altogether 
unknown among the Irish, although they were also a Gaelic 
people ; for although Tighernac frequently mentions Maormors 
of Alban as being engaged in many of the feuds in Ireland, yet 
we never find that title given by any of the Annalists to an 
Irish chief In Britain the title was confined to the north of 
Scotland, and although many of the Saxon and Norman barons 
and other foreigners obtained extensive territories in Scotland, 
and even at an early period not unfrequently succeeded by 
marriage to the possessions and powers of some of the Maormors, 
yet we never find them appearing under that title. From this it 
is plain, that whenever we find a person bearing the title of 


Maormor, we ma)^ conclude that that person was chief of some 
tribe of the Gaelic race which inhabited the northern districts of 
Scotland at this period. • .i . 

Sixth. — The great territorial divisions of Scotland, the chiefs 
of which were termed Maormors, appear in the Norse Sagas 
under two names, Riki and larldom, of which the former was 
more peculiarly and exclusively applied to them. Thus, on one 
occasion it is said, that Sigurd had these Rikis in Scotland, 
Ros, Sutherland, Moray, and Dala. But Sigurd was also in 
possession of Caithness, which having belonged to the Nor- 
wegians for a long time, was not governed by a Maormor, and 
as that district is not included under the term Riki, it is plain 
that that term was applied only to the Maormorships, if I may so 
call them. With regard to the other term, larldom, the Orkney- 
inga Saga mentions, that Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, died 
possessed of the Hebrides, a great extent of territory in Ireland, 
and nine larldoms in Scotland ; by these larldoms, the Maor- 
morships only can be meant, and it will be observed, that in 
narrating the possessions of Thorfinn, that term is applied to the 
districts on the mainland of Scotland only. The Maormors 
themselves appear in the Norse Sagas under one name only, that 
of Scotajarl, and there is good reason for thinking that that title 
was applied to them exclusively. 

From the preceding observations upon the nature of the title 
of Maormor, and of the territorial divisions of Scotland in the 
eleventh century, we see that at that period the Gaelic inhabi- 
tants of the north of Scotland were divided into several great 
tribes, v/hich corresponded exactly with the great territorial 
divisions of the country. We also see, that the Maormors of the 
different districts were the hereditary and native chiefs of these 
great tribes, and that that title was altogether peculiar to the 
Gaelic inhabitants of Scotland. The history of these Maormors, 
then, becomes a very important medium for ascertaining the 
earlier history of the Highlanders ; for, whenever we find any of 
the northern chiefs mentioned in the history of Scotland as having 
this title, we may conclude with certainty, that the northern dis-r 
tricts were at that time inhabited by the same Gaelic race whom 
we find in possession of them in the eleventh century. Inde- 
[^endently of this, the particular history of some of the Maormors 


affords distinct evidence that the Highlanders inhabited the 
north of Scotland as far back as the middle of the tenth century, 
for the line of the Maormors of Moray can be distinctly traced 
as in possession of that district from the end of the eleventh 
century up to that period. The Maormors of Atholl also can be 
traced as far back, though not by such strong evidence as those 
of Moray, and likewise those of Mar. 

In the preceding chapter, it has been seen that there is 
distinct evidence of the possession of the Highlands by the 
northern Picts as late as the conquest of Thorstein, in the year 
894 ; there is consequently a period of but fifty-six years between 
the last notice of the northern Picts and the earliest period to 
which the line of the particular Maormors can be traced, and any 
revolution by which the Highlanders, if they were a foreign race, 
could have obtained possession of the north of Scotland, must 
have taken place during that short period of fifty-six years. 
But we find mention made of the Maormors of Scotland at a 
much earlier period than even this ; for the annals of Ulster 
mention them as holding the rank next to the king in the year 
917. It is quite impossible to suppose, that during the short 
space of twenty-three years so very great a change could have 
taken place in the population of the northern districts, and that 
the northern Picts, who are found in almost independent posses- 
sion of that part of Scotland, could have, during so short a time, 
been driven out of their territories, and a new race have come in 
their place ; or that such an event, if it could have happened, 
would have escaped the notice of every historian. And this con- 
clusion is also very strongly corroborated by the circumstance, 
that the Norse Sagas and the Irish Annals, which at all times 
mutually corroborate each other, and which together form the 
only authentic history of Scotland from the conquest of 
Thorstein in 894 down to the eleventh century, contain no 
hint whatever of any change in the population of the 
north of Scotland ; and a perusal of the Sagas, which com- 
mence to narrate events in the north of Scotland in the very 
year in which we find the last mention of the northern Picts, 
\Vi11 be sufficient to shew that no event of so very formidable 
a nature could have occurred without its having been mentioned 
by them. 


The history of the Maormors of Scotland then, forms a 
clue by which the Highlanders of the elev-enth 

The northern , , . . , , , , 

Pictsare century can be distnictly traced up to the northern 

the ancestors . , . , , , , , , • i 

of the r icts of the nnith century, and when we add to this, the 


facts that the northern Picts spoke the same language, 
bore the same national appellation, and inhabited the same 
territories as the Highlanders did, it is impossible that we can 
come to any other conclusion than that they were the same 

Having now concluded the chain of argument by which the 
true origin of the Highlanders of Scotland has been demonstrated, 
it will not be improper here to recapitulate shortly the different 
leading facts which have been established, and by which that 
origin has been determined. 

hi the first place. — It has been shewn, that from the earliest 
period down to the end of the fifth century, that part of Scotland 
which extends to the north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde, was 
at all times inhabited by a single nation, termed by the Romans 
at first Caledonians, and afterwards Picts. 

/;/ tlie second place. — It has been proved, that in the beginning 
of the sixth century, an Irish colony arrived in Scotland, and 
obtained possession of the southern part of Argyll, and that 
during a period of 340 years, the territorities and relative situa- 
tion of the two nations of the Picts and Dalriads remained 

/// the third place. — It has been proved, that during this 
period the Picts were divided into two great nations, the 
Dicaledones, Cruithne, or northern Picts, and the Vecturiones, 
Piccardach, or southern Picts ; that the northern Picts inhabited 
the whole of the mountainous part of the country, with the 
exception of the Dalriadic territories, consisting of southern 
Argyll alone, while the southern Picts occupied the plains ; that 
in the year 843, the Dalriadic Scots conquered the Piccardach or 
southern Picts, but that their conquest was confined to that branch 
of the Pictish nation alone ; and that while the northern Picts 
probably assisted the Dalriadic Scots in that conquest, their 
situation was, at all events, not in any respect altered by it, but 
on the contrary, that the}^ remained in full possession of the north 
of Scotland. 


In the fourth place. — We have proved that tJie northern Picts 
occupied the zvhole of the Highlands as late as the end of the ?tinth 
century ; — we have shewn that they spoke the same language, 
and bore the same national name as the Highlanders did ; — and 
lastly, we have traced the Highlanders as in possession of the 
Highland districts, up to the ver}' period in which we had previ- 
ously found these districts inhabited by the northern Picts. 

These facts then, supported as they are by evidence of no 
ordinary description, lead us to this simple result, that the 
Highlands of Scotland have been inhabited bv the same nation 
from the earliest period to the present day. And that while the 
tribes composing that nation have uniformly styled themselves 
Gael or Albanich, they have been known to the numerous 
invaders of the country under the various appellations of 
Albiones, Caledonii, Picti, Dicaledones, Cruithne, Northern Picts, 
Reddschankes, Wild Scottis, and Highlanders. 



General History of the Highlands from the first Norwegian 
Invasion of that District to the Accession of Malcolm 
Kenmore, and to the Termination of the Norwegian 
Kingdom of the Highlands and Islands. 

The preceding portion of this work has been devoted to a 
critical examination of the fragments which remain of the early 
history of Scotland, by which we have been brought to the 
conclusion, that the Highlanders of Scotland are the descendants 
of the northern Picts ; and in the course of that examination, a 
view has been given of the leading facts of their history, down 
to the end of the ninth centur\-. The state of the Highlanders 
at that period was very different indeed from what it w^as in the 
thirteenth century, when the Highland clans first make their 
appearance in their modern shape. In the ninth centur\' we 
find them in possession of the whole of the north of Scotland, 
with the exception of the districts of Fife, Strathern, Angus^ 
and Mearns, while in the thirteenth century they were entirely 
confined to the mountainous part of the country, and the eastern 
districts were occupied by a people of Teutonic origin, and 
speaking a German language. The causes of this change in 
the population are to be found in the events of Scottish history 
during the tenth and eleventh centuries ; it will therefore be 
necessary, before proceeding with the history of the Highland 
clans, to give a rapid sketch of these events, in so far as they 
affected the state of the Highlands. 

The limits of this w^ork must of necessity render that sketch 
as concise as possible ; but it will be proper to premise, that 
the history contained in the following chapters will be 
found altogether different from that which has generally been 
received ; which arises from the simple fact, that instead of 
following the monkish writers, who have given birth to the 


fabulous notions of the present day, the author has gone to the 
only genuine sources of the history of this early period now 
extant, nanriely, the Norse Sagas, and the Annalists of Ireland, 
which, although entirely unconnected, corroborate each other in 
so remarkable a manner as to leave no doubt of the authenticity 
of their details. 

With the tenth century, the history of the Highlanders of 
Scotland may, properly speaking, be said to commence. Pre- 
viously to that period, they appear indeed under their distinctive 
appellations of Dicaledones, Cruithne, or northern Picts, but still 
they were not then marked out from the other tribes of Scotland 
by any peculiarity of manners or of polity ; — of their internal 
condition we know nothing ; — and their history in no degree 
differed from that of Scotland generally. 

The conquest of the southern Picts by the Scots of Argyll, 
in which, if they were not assisted, at least they were not 
opposed, by the northern Picts, produced the first remarkable 
change in the internal state of Scotland. The inhabitants of 
the Lowlands, from being a powerful and, comparatively, 
civilized Celtic people, became a mixed race of Picts and Scots ; 
their learning, their civilization, and their very name being lost 
in the Scottish barbarism with which they were overrun, while 
the Highlanders found, according to the usual fate of Celtic 
policy, that, in prosecuting an internal feud, they had placed a 
more formidable enemy in a situation of power which it was by 
no means easy for them to resist, and that they had purchased 
the defeat and ruin of their rival race of southern Picts by the 
loss of their own independence. The history of Scotland, from 
the Scottish conquest to the beginning of the tenth century, is 
principally characterised by the gradual and steady progress of 
the power and influence of the Scots in the plains of Scotland, 
and by the resistance of the inhabitants of its mountains to 
their domination, while both parties were equally exposed to the 
harassing invasions of the northern pirates. The 

Erection of . . 

tiieNorwe- erection of the iSorwegian kingdom of the Isles and 

gian kingdom ,, , , r ^ i ■ i T r i • i 

of the Isles Larldom 01 Orkney, m the end 01 the nmth century, 

and Earldom ■' -^ ' 

"/ Oi'kney. produced the next change in the internal condition of 

A.D. 888. ^ ° 

Scotland, and may be considered as throwing the 
first distinct light on the history of the Highlands. Previously to 


this period, the ravages of the Norwegian pirates had for some 
time been incessant, and, in general, successful, yet they had 
not effected an\' permanent settlement either in the isles or on 
the mainland of Scotland. The summer was spent by them 
on the seas, ravaging and laying waste wherever they were 
attracted by the prospect of plunder, while in winter they 
retired to some of the numerous isles of Scotland, to secure 
their plunder and recruit their followers. Towards the latter 
end of the ninth century, however, the pirates who infested these 
isles, received a great addition to their numbers and strength 
b}- the arrival of those Vikings who had unsuccessfully opposed 
the conquest of Norway by Harald Harfagr, and who preferred 
a piratical life on the ocean to one of submission to his authorit}'. 
The facilities of shelter and protection which these islands 
afforded them, enabled them, by their incessant incursions on 
the new!}' erected kingdom of Norway, to harass the conqueror 
who had expelled them from their country, while, although 
Harald sent out his fleet every summer to drive them from the 
islands where they had taken refuge, he found that they merely 
evaded his force b}- flying to the open sea, and returned again 
to these retreats in winter. At length,- Harald finding it in vain 
to protect his newly acquired dominions from the constant 
incursions of these rovers, determined at once to put an end to 
their predatory expeditions, by the conquest of the isles which 
had afforded them shelter and the means of renewing these 
enterprises. For this purpose, having collected a powerful fleet, 
he set sail in person from Norway, and proceeding first to the 
Shetland Isles, he totally subdued them, and drove out the 
pirates who had there taken refuge. Continuing then his 
southern course, he reduced to his allegiance the Orkney Isles 
and Hebrides, concluding an uninterruped career of victory with 
the capture of the Isle of Man, which was found deserted, its 
inhabitants having fled on his approach to the neighbouring 
coast of Scotland. Here he left a garrison for the maintenance 
of his authority in these distant isles, and retracing his course 
towards the north, ravaged the coasts of Scotland as he pro- 
ceeded. Among the chiefs who had followed Harald in his 
expedition to the west was Rognwald, the son of Eystein, who 
had been made larl of the Maerians in Norway ; he was accom- 


panied by his brother Sigurd and his son Ivar, the latter of 
whom was killed in some one of the many encounters which 
Harald had with the pirates. In order to recompense the father 
in some measure for such a loss, Harald, on his return from the 
Irish seas, proposed to bestow upon Rognwald the isles of 
Orkney and Shetland, in addition to his former possessions. 
But Rognwald, finding that such a distant acquisition would 
bring more trouble than profit, besought Harald's permission 
to make over the princely gift to his brother Sigurd, who was 
accordingly installed larl of the Orkneys. 

Harald had no sooner returned to Norway than the native 
chiefs of the isles and the neighbouring districts of the mainland, 
who had been either expelled or subdued by the Norwegian 
pirates, took advantage of his absence, and of the complete dis- 
persion of the pirates which he had effected, to seize possession 
of the isles, with the assistance of the Irish, and to revenge 
themselves for their previous subjection, by the expulsion and 
slaughter of the Norwegians whom Harald had left to secure 
the isles. In order effectually to subject the western isles to his 
authorit) , and to preclude the possibility of their again becoming 
a retreat for the pirates, from which they might harass his 
dominions, Harald determined to adopt the same method which 
had proved successful with the Orkneys, and with that view he 
dispatched Ketil, the son of Biorn, chief of Raumsdal, with a 
powerful fleet, and the title of larl, ,to the Hebrides. Ketil 
reached the Orkneys in safety, and proceeding thence along the 
line of the Hebrides, he successfully reduced them under his 
subjection, the Islesmen apparently having been quite unpre- 
pared for the prompt attack of the Norwegians. 

No sooner, however, did Ketil find himself in the quiet 
possession of the western isles, than he determined to throw 
off his allegiance to the King of Norway ; for this purpose 
he strengthened himself by alliances of every description, both 
with the native chiefs of the isles and also with several of the 
pirates themselves, and then sending back to Norway the troops 
which had established him in his new possessions, he refused 
to pay the stipulated tribute to Harald, and declared himself 
independent King of the Hebrides. 

But Ketil was not destined long to enjoy his newly erected 


kingdom, as he appears to have died a very few years afterwards. 
On his death the chief authority in the isles was assumed by his 
son Helgi and his grandson Thorstein the Red, the son of his 
daughter Audur and Olaf the white, king of Dubhn. The 
native chiefs of the isles seem soon after this to have embraced 
a favourable opportunity of again throwing off the yoke of the 
Norwegians altogether ; as we find that Helgi left the Hebrides 
and settled with his adherents in Iceland, while at the same 
time Thorstein the Red, Ketil's grandson, proceeded in com- 
pany with his mother to the Orkneys. ^ 

Sigurd, then Earl of the Orkneys, received Thorstein with 
• ■ hospitality, and forming a close alliance with him, he 
First Nor- took advantage of this great accession to his strength, 
the'north'ot ^o make a descent in company with his ally upon the 
a!'u.'s"m-!)oo. northern districts of Scotland. The two pirate kings 
rapidly made themselves masters of the districts of 
Kateness, Sutherland, Ross, and Moray, and their progress 
southward was only arrested by that part of the great barrier 
of the Grampians which forms the southern boundary of the 
district of Marr. The Norse Sagas have recorded the names 
of two of the Scottish larls or Maormors who were slain in 
this expedition, Meldun and Melbrigda Tonn ; the latter of 
these Maormors appears to have been the last who opposed 
Sigurd, and was therefore in all probability Maormor of Marr. 
The death of this Maormor was revenged upon Sigurd in a 
most remarkable manner, if we are to believe the incident as 
related in the Norse Sagas. Melbrigda, say these writers, 
derived his appellation of Tonn from his possessing a very 
prominent tooth, and Sigurd having slain him in battle, cut 
off his head and suspended it to the front of his saddle as he 
galloped over the field of his victory. The violence of the 
motion occasioned the prominent tooth to inflict a wound on 
the thigh of the larl, which inflamed, produced mortification, 
and ultimately caused the larl's death. He was buried in the 
territories of him he had slain. ^ 

On the death of Sigurd, his son Guttorm succeeded to him 
as Earl of Orkney, while Thorstein the Red, retaining possession 

' Snorro, Orkneyinga Saga. Land- " Landnamabok, Olafs Saga, &c. 

namabok, Laxdaela Saga, Olafs Saga. 


of the conquests of the mainland, assumed the title of king of 
the half of Scotland. Thorstein had scarcely enjoyed his newly 
acquired territories for six years when the chiefs of the north of 
Scotland determined to make an effort for the recovery of the 
districts which had been wrested from them by the Norwegians. 
They united together, and under the command of Dungadi or 
Duncan, the larl or Maormor of Caithness, they made a general 
and simultaneous attack upon Thorstein ; a pitched battle 
ensued, which ended in the defeat and death of 
Thorstein, and the expulsion of the Norwegians 
from the north of Scotland.^ 

Thus terminated the first Norwegian kingdom in the High- 
lands, which lasted too short a time to have had much effect 
upon the population. And after this little can be gathered from 
the Norse writers as to the state of Scotland till the close of the 
tenth century. Thorfinn, who was Earl of Orkney about the 
middle of that century, appears to have regained possession of 
Caithness, but during a long reign, made no other attempt to 
extend his conquest in Scotland ; he had married the daughter 
of Duncan, the Maormor of Caithness, and in all probability 
founded a claim to the district from that circumstance ; but with 
the exception of Caithness, the northern chiefs appear from the 
Sagas to have enjoyed the undisturbed possession of their terri- 
tories during the whole of this period. 

After the kingdom of Thorstein, the Sagas throw somewhat 
more light upon the internal state of the Highlands. From the 
first Norwegian conquest under Thorstein to the end of that 
under Sigurd H., we find frequent mention made of various 
powerful Scottish chiefs, who universally appear under the Nor- 
wegian title of larls, but in addition to this we can now distincth- 
trace the division of the north of Scotland into a number of 
tribes, possessing considerable extent of territory, whose chiefs or 
Maormors it was to whom the Norwegians gave the title of larl. 
The people who opposed the invasions of the Norwegians at this 
period were unquestionably the descendants of the very same 
people who fought with the Romans many ages before, and who 
then exhibit the same division into tribes of a similar extent. 

' Sagas above referred to. 


Now, when we consider the rugged and ahnost inaccessible nature 
of the northern Highlands, the few circumstances which occurred 
during the first eight centuries to make any great alteration in 
the state of its tribes, and the unlikelihood that any political 
change or event which might take place in a different part of the 
country, could exercise any great influence over the inhabitants 
of districts so remote ; there is ever\^ reason to conclude that the 
northern tribes would in all probability vary but little in their 
situation, extent, numbers, or power, from the period of the 
Roman invasion to the tenth century ; and accordingly when we 
compare the number and situation of the tribes into which the 
Highlands were divided in the tenth and eleventh centuries, with 
the minute and accurate account of the Caledonian tribes, given 
by Ptolemy in the second century, we find that in three particu- 
lars only is there the slightest variation between them, and that 
with these exceptions, the north of Scotland in the eleventh 
century exhibits the exact counterpart, in the number and extent 
of its tribes, to the same districts in the second. 

The first variation which w-e observe is in the situation of the 
two tribes of the Caledonii and the Vacomagi. In Ptolemy's 
time the Caledonii certainly inhabited the west of Atholl, the 
district of Badenoch, and the numerous glens which branch out 
on every side from Lochness, while the Vacomagi possessed a 
tract of country extending along their eastern frontiers, and 
embracing the present counties of Nairn and Elgin, the districts 
of Strathspey, Strathearn, and Marr, and the eastern part of 

In the eleventh century we find these tribes in a different 
situation ; for the territories occupied by these two tribes now- 
formed the earldoms of Atholl, Moray, and Marr, the ridge of 
the Mounth or Mound (including Drumnachdar), dividing the 
former earldom from the two latter. 

This is a change which could only have been produced by the 
sudden seizure of the districts which afterwards formed the 
earldom of Moray by another tribe, by which these two tribes 
would be respectively confined to Atholl and Marr ; and as the 
territories of the Taixali still remained unaltered as the earldom 
of Buchan, probability points to the Cantese, who lay immedi- 
ately to the north of the districts in question, as the invading 


tribe. Now, it is remarkable that we can distinctly trace this 

change in the relative position of these tribes at a very early 

period in the Irish Annals. In the year 666 Tighernac mentions 

the death of Eacha, King of the Midland Cruithne. The 

Cruithne, we have seen, was the peculiar name of the northern 

Picts, and as of all the tribes mentioned by Ptolemy that of the 

Caledonii proper is the only one which could be called Midland, 

it is plain that these kings of the Midland Cruithne were the 

chiefs of that tribe. Now, we find a singular change in their 

title within eighty years after this date, for in 739 Tighernac 

mentions the death of Talorgan, King of Atholl. Atholl was 

always a part of the territories of the Caledonians proper, and 

consequently, when we find the chiefs of that tribe preserving 

their title of king, hut changing the designation of Midland 

Cruithne for the less extended title of Atholl, we can have little 

difficulty in inferring that they had between these two periods 

been deprived of the northern portion of their territories, and 

confined principally to that district. This change is confirmed 

by our finding distinct evidence of the extension of the eastern 

tribes towards the west in 668, for at that date Tighernac 

mentions the departure of the Gens Gartnaidh with the people 

of Skye for Ireland. The western position of the former tribe 

is sufficiently indicated by that of the latter, and the coincidence 

between the departure of that tribe for Ireland, and the loss 

of their northern districts by the Caledonii, is sufficient to warrant 

us in concluding that these events were connected, and that 

the expulsion of the Gens Gartnaidh, and the death of Eacha, 

the king of the Midland Cruithne, was probably effected by 

the conquest of the latter together with the Vacomagi by the 

Cantese, and the seizure by that tribe of the northern part of 

their territories. In this way the V'acomagi would be confined 

to the earldom of Marr, the Caledonii to that of Atholl, while 

the Cantese would form the earldom of Moray ; and as Tighernac 

mentions in 670 the return of the Gens Gartnaidh from Ireland, 

they probably occupied the district previously possessed by the 

Canteai, and which afterwards formed the earldom of Ross. 

The same event will also account for the next variation in the 

possession of these tribes. In Ptolemy's time the southern 

division of modern Argyll was inhabited by the Epidii, the 



Creones extended from the Linne Loch to Kintail, and the 
present district of Wester Ross was possessed by the Carnones. 

In 503 we know that the Dalriads obtained possession of 
the territories of the Epidii, and it is equally certain that 
Dalriada did not extend north of the Linne Loch. In 843 
we know that the Dalriads left Dalriada and seized possession 
of the extensive country of the southern Picts, but in the 
eleventh century we find that the possessions of the Creones 
still remained a distinct earldom, under the title of Garmoran, 
while those of the Dalriads and the Carnones appear as forming 
part of one great district, termed Ergadia or Oirirgael, while 
individually they were known as Ergadia Borealis and Australis. 
It is also worthy of notice that Lochaber formed a part of 
this great district, and in some degree connected the two 
detached portions. 

The name of Argyll, it must be recollected, was not applied 
to any district of Scotland previous to the Scottish conquest, 
and consequently it must have arisen by the extension over 
the whole district of some tribe who had previously inhabited 
a part. That tribe could not have been the Dalriads, for 
such an extension would be quite incompatible with their con- 
quest of the southern Picts, and it is difficult to see how their 
Highland conquest should have assumed such a form, or that 
the name of Argyll would have been confined to that part 
of their conquest only. 

The Creones remained unaltered, and the only other people 
who at any time possessed any part of this district are the 
Carnones, who inhabited Wester Ross, and the Caledonians 
proper, who must have possessed Lochaber. One or other 
of these two tribes must, it is plain, have first dispossessed 
the other, so as to become the sole inhabitants of the northern 
part of Ergadia ; and on the departure of the Dalriads in 843, 
they must have occupied the vacant territory, and thus extended 
the name over the whole, for from the detached and arbitrary 
nature of the districts which were included under the name 
of Argyll, it is impossible in any other way to account for 
its application. 

Now, it is certainly remarkable, that at the very period 
when we have ascertained that the tribe of the Caledonii or 


Midland Cruithne were driven out of their northern possessions 
by the Cantese, and when the conquered portion of the tribe 
must have taken refuge in other districts, probably to the west, 
we see an otherwise unaccountable emigration of the Gens 
Gartnaidh, or inhabitants of Wester Ross, to Ireland. The 
inference is unavoidable, that the vanquished Caledonians had 
dispossessed them, and taken possession of their territories. 
This tribe then, it is plain, inhabited the whole of the great 
district of Argyll, with the exception of Dalriada ; and as at 
the period of the Scottish conquest in 843 they surrounded 
Dalriada on every side ^ we can have little hesitation in concluding 
that they probably obtained possession of the relinquished 
districts, and extended the name of Argyll over the whole. 

Such ■ is the natural deduction from the events obscurely 
indicated in the Irish Annals, but that the fact was really so 
is proved by another circumstance. 

It will afterwards be shewn, that the. jurisdiction attached 
to each of the Culdee monasteries, was exactly co-extensive 
with the territories of the tribe in which the monastery was 
situated, and that these jurisdictions were in number and extent 
the same with the earliest bishoprics in Scotland. Now, the 
bishopric of Dunkeld originally consisted just of the district 
of AthoU and of Argyll, the latter of which was separated from 
it in A.D. 1200, and formed into an independent diocese. This 
is sufficient proof that some one tribe possessed at one time both 
of these districts, and as Atholl was at all times the principal 
possession of the Midland Cruithne or Caledonians proper, it 
puts the fact that the name of Argyll was applied to the 
territories on the west coast, acquired at different times by 
that tribe, beyond a doubt. The only other change which 
had taken place in the relative situations of the tribes is, that 
in place of the two tribes of the Lougai and Mertae, we find 
the single earldom of Sutherland, and this change is certainly 
to be attributed to the conquest of the northern districts by 

Although the districts of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, and 
Moray are certainly mentioned by the Sagas as forming a 
part of his kingdom in Scotland, yet it is plain, from the nature 
of the country and the rapidity with which he overran the whole 


of it as far as the Mounth, that that conquest must have com- 
prehended only the eastern and less mountainous parts of these 
districts. Thorstein retained possession of his conquered 
territories for six years, and during this period it might be 
expected that the native tribes inhabiting these districts would 
be almost driven out — those whose possessions included moun- 
tain districts would take refuge there in order to escape the 
invader, but it is scarcely to be expected that any tribe whose 
.sole possessions were on the coast would escape almost total 

When the unconquered tribes, however, succeeded in driving 
the Norwegians out of the country, those who had taken refuge 
in their mountain recesses would regain possession of that part 
of their territories which they had lost, while the districts which 
had belonged to any tribe that had been totally crushed and 
overwhelmed by the Norwegians, would probably become the 
possession of the nearest tribe. Now the Loiigai was almost 
the only tribe whose possessions were confined to the coast, 
and in the numerous Norse accounts of Thorstein's kingdom, 
we find traces of the extinction of the family of but one of 
the many Scottish larls who opposed him. The Landnamabok 
mentions the slaughter of Meldun, a Scottish larl, and the 
slavery of his whole family, who did not recover their freedom 
even on the reconquest of the northern districts by the native 
chiefs. There can be little doubt from this that the tribe 
inhabiting the coast of Sutherland had been almost entirely 
annihilated by the conquest of Thorstein, and that the tribe 
inhabiting the interior of this district had, on the extinction of 
the Norwegian kingdom, obtained possession of the whole. 

The changes which had taken place in the relative situation 
of the northern tribes in the second and in the eleventh century, 
will be more easily understood from the following Table : — 

Names of the districts of the Names of the Tribes inhabiting 
loth century; thetn ; 

from the Norse Sagas. from Ptolemy. 

Katanes or Caithness ... By the Kournaovioi. 

Ness — Durnes and Ed- Kairinoi. 


CHAr. v] 



Names of the districts of the 

lOtii century ; 

from the Norse Sagas. 

Names of the Tribes inhabiting 

them ; 

from Ptolemy. 

Sudrland — 

Sutherland, except — 

Mertai. The Lougoi 


were destroyed by 
Thorstein, and the 
Mertai occupied the 

Ros — 

Easter Ross . . - 

Karnones, who were ex- 
pelled from Wester 
Ross to Ireland, and 
two years afterwards 
returned and took 
possession of Easter 




Myrhaevi — 

Moray ... - 

the Caledonioi and 


Dala — 

Argyll. . . \ 

Kaledonioi, who origin- 

Atjoklar — 

Atholl ... J 

ally possessed Atholl, 
occupied South Argyll 
on its relinquishment 
by the Dalriads, and 
expelled the Karnones 
out of North Argyll, 
or Wester Ross. 

Second Nor- 
wegian king- 
dom in the 
north of Scot- 
land. A.D. 
(ISO— 993. 

The second conquest of the north of Scotland by the 
Norwegians took place towards the end of the tenth 
century, and was occasioned by an attempt on the 
part of the Scots to recover possession of Caithness. 
Finlay, the son of Ruairi, Maormor of Moray, the 
chiefs of which district were at that time the most 
powerful in the northern part of Scotland, marched to Caithness 
with a powerful army, for the purpose of driving the Norwegians 
out of that district. He was met by Sigurd, then Earl of 
Orkney, with the whole force of the Orkneys, and after an 
obstinate engagement Finlay was defeated and obliged to fly. 
Sigurd, upon this success, immediately overran the whole of 
the Highlands with his victorious army, and obtained possession, 
with little difficulty, of the districts of Ross, Moray, Sutherland, 
and Dala or Argyll. The Celtic inhabitants of these districts, 


although, after the total defeat which they had sustained under 
the Maormor of Moray, they were unable to offer any opposition 
to the progress of Sigurd, were not disposed to endure the 
Norwegian yoke long without making an attempt to throw it 
off. Accordingl}^, Sigurd had retained possession of the con- 
quered territories for seven years only, when the northern 
Maormors made a sudden rising, and succeeded in surprising 
and expelling the Norwegians from the Highlands, and slaying 
the governor whom the Earl of Orkney had placed over the 
conquered districts. Sigurd no sooner became aware of this 
success, than he collected a numerous army among the islands, 
and at once proceeded to the mainland of Scotland ; but he had 
scarcely landed in Caithness before he was informed that the 
Gaelic army under Kenneth and Melsnechtan, Maormors of 
Dala and Ross, was stationed near Duncansbay Head for the 
purpose of intercepting his progress. Sigurd immediately 
attacked the Highland army, and succeeded in killing Mels- 
nechtan, one of their leaders, and putting the rest to flight. 
This success he would in all probability have followed up with 
the entire destruction of their arm\', and the recovery of his 
Highland possessions, had he not learned that Malcolm, the 
Maormor of Moray and nephew of Finlay, was at that moment 
approaching with an army too powerful for him to cope with. 
On receiving this intelligence, Sigurd judged it prudent to retire 
to the Orkneys, and thus left Malcolm in possession of the 
disputed districts. By Sigurd's retreat the Highland chiefs 
gained time to recover complete possession of the whole of the 
territories which had been for seven years wrested from them, 
and they established that possession so firmly, that Sigurd was 
never afterwards able to obtain a footing upon the mainland of 
Scotland. ^ 

Malcolm, the Maormor of Moray, by his success in expelling 
the Norwegians, and by the assistance derived from the exten- 
sive territories under his control, as well as by his great personal 
talent, had now acquired so much power and influence in the 
north of Scotland that he was enabled to obtain possession of 
the Scottish throne itself In what his title to the crown con- 

^ Olafs Saga, Snorro, Niala Saga. 


sisted, or what^was the nature of the claim which he made to it, 
it is impossible now to determine ; but certain it is that he was 
supported in his attempt by the whole inhabitants of the 
northern part of Scotland, and in order to obtain the counte- 
nance of a people so singularly tenacious of their ancient customs, 
he must have^possessed a stronger claim than what mere power 
or influence could give him, more especially as his descendants, 
for many generations afterwards, constantly asserted their right 
to the throne of Scotland, and as invariably received the 
assistance of the Celtic portion of its inhabitants. In all proba- 
bility the Highlanders were attempting to oppose the hereditary 
succession in the family of Kenneth M'Alpin, and to introduce 
the more ancient Pictish law. Be this as it may, however, 
Malcolm, by the defeat and death of Kenneth M'Duff, 
at Monievaird, became king of Scotland. Shortly 
after he had mounted the throne, Malcolm effected a reconcilia- 
tion with Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, who married his daughter, 
and the fruit of this marriage was Thorfinn, who afterwards 
became the most powerful earl which the Orkneys ever possessed. 
On Malcolm's death, after a reign of twenty-six years, the 
Scottish faction, as it may be termed, in opposition to the 
Pictish or northern party, succeeded in placing a descendant of 
Kenneth M'.A.lpin again upon the throne. His name 
was ' also Malcolm ; he was the son of Kenneth, 
whom his predecessor had defeated and slain, and is known in 
the Norse Sagas by the name of Kali Hundason. The second 
Malcolm had no sooner commenced his reign than he appears 
to have directed his efforts towards reducing the power of the 
Norwegians in Scotland ; but this was a task to which his 
strength was by no means equal, for his opponent Thorfinn was 
a person of no ordinary talents and energy. 

On the death of Sigurd, his father, Thorfinn had received 
from his maternal grandfather, Malcolm, king of Scotland, the 
district of Caithness, which had so often been the subject of 
contention between the Norwegians and the Scots, and during 
Malcolm's life he had obtained every assistance from him in the 
government of his dominions. Malcolm M'Kenneth therefore 
determined to make this a pretext for going to war with Thor- 
finn. With this intention he demanded tribute from him for 


the territories which he possessed on the mainland of Scotland, 
and upon the refusal of the Norwegian earl he gave Caithness 
to Moddan, his sister's son, and directed him to assume the 
Norwegian title of larl. Moddan accordingly, in consequence 
of these directions, proceeded to the north, and raised an army 
in Sutherland for the purpose of taking possession of the district 
which had thus been bestowed upon him. But the Norwegians 
who inhabited that district had no sooner heard of his arrival 
than they immediately assembled under Thorfinn, who was at 
that time in Caithness, and having been joined by a large force 
from the Highlands, commanded by Thorkell, the Scots found 
it necessary to retire, while Thorfinn took advantage of the 
opportunity to subjugate the districts of Sutherland and Ross, 
and to ravage the greater part of Scotland. Moddan in the 
meantime ha\ing returned to the king, and having reported to 
him the ill success of his expedition, Malcolm resolved upon 
making one great effort to reduce Thorfinn. For this purpose 
he collected a fleet of eleven ships, and the whole force of the 
south of Scotland, and dividing his army, he went himself in the 
fleet towards the north, while he sent Moddan by land with a 
strong detachm.ent, with the intention of attacking Thorfinn on 
both sides at once ; but scarcely had Malcolm reached the 
Pentland Firth when he was met by Thorfinn, who had in the 
meantime retired to the Orknevs, where he had collected a 
powerful fleet. After a long and fiercely contested engagement 
the Scottish fleet was completely dispersed, and the king of 
Scotland, having with difficulty escaped, fled to the Moray 
Firth, where he once more commenced to levy troops. 

Nevertheless, he was speedily followed by Thorfinn, who, 
having been joined by Thorkell with troops raised by him in the 
Orkneys, also reached the ]\Ioray Firth ; but having learnt, so 
soon as he landed, that Moddan had marched to Caithness with 
the other division of the Scottish army, and was then at Thurso, 
he resolved to despatch Thorkell with a part of the army to 
attack Moddan, while he himself with the rest of his force 
remained to oppose Malcolm. Thorkell, aware that the inhabi- 
tants of Caithness were favourable to the Norwegians, proceeded 
with such expedition and secrecy that he succeeded in surprising 
Moddan in Thurso, and having set fire to the town, he slew the 


leader and completely dispersed his followers. Having collected 
additional forces in Caithness, Sutherland, and Ross, Thorkell 
returned towards the Moray Firth and joined Thorfinn in 

Malcolm in the meantime had once more collected forces, 
both from the east and west of Scotland, his levies having 
even extended as far as Kintyre, and having also been joined 
by a number of Irish auxiliaries who had been invited oyer b}' 
Moddan, he determined to make a final effort for the expulsion 
of the Norwegians, and marched accordingly with this immense 
army towards the north in search of Thorfinn. He found the 
Norwegian earl not the less prepared to meet him, that in 
numbers he was far inferior. A battle took place between the 
two hostile races on the southern shore of the Beauly Firth ; 
each party seeming resolved to peril their cause upon the result 
of this engagement ; but the ferocity and determined valour 
of the Norwegians at length prevailed over the numbers and 
undisciplined daring of the Scots, and Malcolm was totally 
defeated, himself killed, and his army almost destroyed. By 
this defeat the Scots were now left altogether without the means 
of resistance, and Thorfinn followed up his success by conquer- 
ing the whole of Scotland as far as the Firth of Tay, and 
completely subjugating the inhabitants. 

The Norwegian Saga gives a strong and powerful picture 
of the effects of this conquest : " Earl Thorfinn drove the 
scattered remnants of the Scottish army before him, and sub- 
jugated the wliole country in his progress, even as far as the 
district of Fyfe. He then sent Thorkell with a part of the arm\- 
home, but when the Scots, who had submitted to him, heard 
that the earl had sent some part of his army awa\-, they attacked 
him, but unsuccessfully, for Earl Thorfinn no sooner perceived 
their treachery than he gathered his army together again and 
met them. The Scots did not attempt to defend themselves, 
but fled immediately to the woods and deserts. Then Earl 
Thorfinn, when he had driven the fugitives away, declared that 
he would burn and lay waste the whole country in revenge for 
their treacher\*. His men then spread over the whole conquered 
country, and burnt every hamlet and farm, so that not a cot 
remained. Every man that they found they slew, but the old 


men and women fled to the deserts and woods, and filled the 
country with lamentation. Some were driven before the Nor- 
wegians and made slaves. 

" Thus says Arnor, the earl's skald : 

" ' The dwellings were all destroyed, 
When he burnt every where, (that day 
Danger and death was not awanting,) 
As among dry reeds the red flames 
Sprung into the kingdom 
Of the Scots. The Great 
Slayer revenged himself 
On the Scots. In one summer 
Three times were they 
Overcome by the Prince.' 

" After this Earl Thorfinn returned to his ships, subjugating 
the country everywhere in his progress." ^ 

The Norwegians thus obtained effectual possession of the 

greater part of the north of Scotland, and their king- 

wegLa °'^" dom, which by the talents and energy of Thorfinn 

Kingdom in .11 • r i • 

tiie north of thev wcre enabled to retam lor thirty years, was un- 
A.p. io3i- paralleled m its extent and duration by any previous 
or subsequent conquest. Besides the Orkneys, which 
was their original seat, their possessions in Scotland consisted 
now of the Hebrides and of nine of the great districts or earldoms 
of Scotland, which, as far as can be gathered from the Sagas, 
appear to have been those of Caithness, Ness, Sutherland, Ross, 
Moray, Garmoran, Buchan, Marr, and Angus ; while to the 
Scots there remained nothing north of the Firths of Forth 
and Clyde, except the districts of Fyfe, Strathern, Menteith, 
Gowr)% and Lennox, with the two northern districts of AthoU 
and Argyll.2 

' Orkneyinga Saga, Flatey Book.— he has adopted in consequence of find- 

Tighernac, Annals of Ulster. ing the most remarkable coincidence 

It will be observed that the Author between the Irish Annals and the 

has here altogether departed from the Norse Sagas, both of which agree in 

generally received history, and that in these particulars, 
place of Malcolm II., said to have 

reigned thirty years, he has placed - All the Xorse Sagas are unani- 

ftt-o Malcolms of different families, mous as to the extraordinary extent of 

the first of whom reigned twenty-six Tliorfian's conquest. 
and the latter four years. This view 


The effects of this conquest seem to have been more par- 
ticularly felt by the Scottish portion of the population, and its 
immediate result appears to have been the complete extinction 
of the house of Kenneth Mac Alpin, which for so many genera- 
tions had filled the Scottish throne, the extirpation of the greater 
part of the chiefs of the Scottish race, and the termination of 
that superiority and dominion which they had so long main- 
tained in the Lowlands of Scotland. 

But besides the portion of the country occupied by the Scots, 
a considerable part of the territories of the northern Picts 
remained unconquered by the Norwegians, while Thorfinn 
extended his conquests to the banks of the Firth of Tay, and 
while he effected the utter destruction of the Scottish posses- 
sions, even of those districts which he had not overrun with his 
victorious troops, the district of AthoU and the greater part of 
Argyll was sufficiently protected by its mountain barriers from 
his power, and became now the only part of Scotland which 
could offer any resistance to his progress. 

In addition to this, one of its most powerful chiefs had 
married the daughter of the last king, and his son, who thus 
added a hereditary right to the throne to the influence which he 
derived from his power, appears to have been proclaimed king 
without any opposition, and to have received the unanimous 
support of all who were still independent of the Norwegian 
yoke. In personal character Duncan was far from being well 
fitted for the difficult situation in which he was placed, but being 
the only chief of the northern Picts who remained unsubdued 
by the Norwegians, he was the most likely person to preserve 
the rest of Scotland from their grasp ; and during the whole of 
his reign he appears to have been unmolested by Thorfinn in 
his circumscribed dominions. The Scots having thus enjoyed, 
during Duncan's reign, six years of repose, began to consider 
their strength sufficiently recruited to attempt the recovery of the 
extensive territories in the north which Thorfinn had conquered. 
Taking advantage accordingly of the temporary absence of 
Thorfinn, who was engaged with the greater part of his Nor- 
wegian force in an English expedition, Duncan advanced 
towards the north of Scotland, and succeeded in penetrating 
as far as the district of Moray without encountering apparently 


any resistance. The Gaelic inhabitants of the north, however, 
who preferred remaining under the Norwegian yoke rather than 
submit to a chief of their own race whose title to the throne 
they could not admit, opposed his farther progress, and Macbeth, 
the Maormor of Moray, attacked him near Elgin, defeated his 
armv, and slew the king himself Macbeth immedi- 

A.D 1010. ,11 ? 1 • , • , 1 

ately took advantage of this success, and assisted by 
the Norwegian force which still remained in the country, he 
overran the whole of Scotland, and speedil)' made himself 
master of all that had remained unconquered by the Norwegians. 
The sons of Duncan were obliged to fly ; the eldest took refuge 
at the court of England, while the second fled from the venge- 
ance of Macbeth to the Hebrides, and surrendered to Thorfinn 
himself Macbeth, with the sanction probably of the Earl of 
Orkney, assumed the title of King of Scotland, which he claimed 
in right of his cousin Malcolm, and notwithstanding all the 
efforts of the Scots he maintained possession of the crown for 
a period of eighteen years. 

Although Macbeth was a native chief and one of the Gaelic 
Maormors of the north, yet his conquest can only be considered 
with regard to its effects as a Norwegian conquest. He had 
previously been tributary to that people, and it was by their 
assistance principally that he became king of Scotland ; so that 
at this period we may consider the whole country as having 
been virtually under the dominion of the Norwegians : Thorfinn 
himself ruling over the northern districts, while with his con- 
currence Macbeth reigned in the southern half 

During the reign of Macbeth the adherents of the Atholl 
family made two several attempts to recover possession of the 
throne, but they were both equally unsuccessful. The first 
occurred in the year 1045, when Crinan, the father of Duncan, 
attacked Macbeth at the head of all the adherents of the family 
in Scotland ; Crinan's defeat was total, and the slaughter very 
great ; for in the concise words of the Irish Annalists, " In that 
battle was slain Crinan, Abbot of Dunkelcl, and many with him, 
viz. nine times twenty heroes." This defeat seems 
for the time to have completely extinguished Dun- 
can's party in Scotland, and it was not till nine years 
afterwards that the second attempt was made. 

A.D. 1045. 

A.D. 1054. 


Malcolm, Duncan's eldest son, who had taken refuge in England, 
obtained from the English king the assistance of a Saxon army, 
under the command of Siward, the Earl of Northumberland, 
but although Siward succeeded in wresting Lothian from Mac- 
beth, and in placing Malcolm as king over it, he was unable to 
obtain any further advantage, and Macbeth still retained the 
kingdom of Scotland proper, while Malcolm ruled as king over 
Lothian until, four years afterwards, a more favourable oppor- 
tunity occurred for renewing the enterprise. The son of the 
king of Norway, in the course of one of the numerous piratical 
expeditions which were still undertaken by the Norwegians, had 
arrived at the Orkneys, and on finding the great state of power 
to which Thorfinn had raised himself, he proposed that they 
should join in undertaking an expedition having no less an 
object than the subjugation of the kingdom of England. To 
this proposal the enterprising Earl of Orkney at once acceded, 
and the two sea kings departed for the south with the whole 
Norwegian force which they could collect. It was not destined, 
however, that they should even land on the English coast, for 
their fleet appears to have been dispersed and almost destroyed 
in a tempest ; such was probably at least the calamity which 
befel the expedition, as the words of the Irish annalist who 
alone records the event are simply, " but God was against them 
in that affair." 

It appears that the king of England had no sooner become 
aware of the discomfiture of the threatened invasion of his 
territories, than he sent an English army into Scotland for the 
purpose of overthrowing the power of the Norwegians in that 
country, and of establishing Malcolm Kenmore on his father's 
throne ; and in the absence of the Norwegians the Saxon army 
was too powerful for the Gaelic force of Macbeth to withstand. 
The English accordingly made themselves masters of the south 
of Scotland, and drove Macbeth as far north as Lumphanan, 
where he was overtaken and slain in battle. Upon the death 
of Macbeth, Lulach, the son of his cousin Gillcomgain, succeeded 
him, but after maintaining a struggle with Malcolm for the short 
space of three months, he also was defeated and slain 

A.D. 1058. ^ • r- 1 1 1 • T r 1 • 

at Esse, m Strathbolgie. In consequence of this 
defeat, Malcolm Kenmore obtained, by the assistance of the 


English, quiet possession of the throne of Scotland, which 
his own po\\-er ctnd talents enabled him to preserve during 
the remainder of his life. He was prevented, apparently by 
the return of Thorfinn, from attempting to recover any part 
of the northern districts which the Norwegian earl had sub- 
jugated, and consequently his territories consisted only of 
those southern districts which Macbeth had acquired by the 
defeat of his father Duncan. 

P^rom the accession of Malcolm Kenmore to the death of 
Thorfinn, which took place six years after, the state of Scotland 
remained unaltered, and the country exhibited the remarkable 
spectacle of a Gaelic population, one half of which obeyed the 
rule of a Norwegian earl, while the other half was subdued by a 
prince of their own race at the head of a Saxon arm} . 

CHAP. VI] O F S C O T L A N D 79 


General History of the Highlands,, from the Accession of 
Malcolm Kenmore to the Termination of the History of 
the Highlanders as a Peculiar and Distinct People, in 

DUCTION OF Sheep Farming. 

The Norwegian kingdom of Scotland, which had lasted for thirty 

years, terminated with the death of Thorfinn in the 
A.D. 10G4. -^ - ,.,,.. 

year 1064 ; and notwithstanding its great extent and 

duration, and the important effects which it must have pro- 
duced upon the population of the country, that kingdom has 
been most unaccountably passed over in silence by every native 
historian. The truth of its existence at the same time does not 
depend upon the authority of the Sagas alone, although that 
authority would in itself be sufficient to establish with certainty 
the occurrence of any event at this period ; for the ancient 
Saxon historians, in narrating the events of Siward's campaign 
against Macbeth, expressly mention that he had to contend 
against an immense force of Scots and NortJivien, and that 
in the battle which ensued, many of the Angles and of the 
Danes fell, distinctly shewing, that at this time the Danes must 
have possessed a considerable part of the country, and that 
Siward's expedition was directed against them as well as against 

the Scots. The extensive possessions of Thorfinn did 
o^Tho^un** not upon his death descend to his sons, but, with the 
reverte.f'to* exccptioii of their original kingdom in the Orkneys, 
chtefs!*^'^^ reverted to the native chiefs, who by hereditary right 

were entitled to rule over them. " Then many domains 
which the earl had conquered/"^// off, and their inhabitants sought 
the protection of those native chiefs who were territorially born ^ 

^ The word odalborinn, here trans- properly be expressed in English ; it is 
lated territorially horn, has a much " natus ad hajredium avitum, sc. recta 
stronger signitication, which cannot linea a primo occupante." 

So T in=: HIGHLANDERS [part i 

to rule over them," are the emphatic words of the Orkney- 
inga Saga ; and there can be no question that that Saga 
alludes to the earldoms which Thorfinn had conquered in 
Scotland. This, therefore, is a passage of great importance 
for the histor\- of the Highlands, for it proves clearly that 
when Thorfinn's death caused the dismemberment of his king- 
dom, the great districts of Scotland reverted to the descendants 
of the Gaelic chiefs who had formerly possessed them, and 
had a hereditary right to their acquisition, and, consequently, 
that the Norwegian conquest produced no permanent effect 
whatever upon the race originally in possession of these terri- 
tories, or upon the chiefs of the Gaelic tribes in the north of 

Yet although the Norwegian kingdom did not produce any 
effect upon the succession of the native chiefs, it is nevertheless 
possible that a very great change may have taken place on 
the population of the different districts over which the native 
chiefs were again enabled to resume their wonted sway ; and 
in estimating the probable extent of such a change, it will be 
necessar}' to keep in view that the effects of a Norwegian 
conquest were frequently very different, according to the nature 
of the conquered country. In some districts the ancient 
inhabitants were almost entirely driven out, the country became 
graduall}- colonized by Norwegians, and a Norwegian larl 
generally placed over it ; while in others, where such a pro- 
ceeding was more difficult, owing to the impervious nature of 
the country, the Norwegians usually contented themselves with 
plundering the district and exacting a tribute from its lord, 
leaving the ancient inhabitants otherwise in full possession of 
their territor}-. 

It is plain that in the eastern and more level districts of 
Scotland, a Norwegian conquest of not less than thirty years' 
duration could produce no other effect than that of an extensive, 
and probably a permanent change in the population ; and there 
can be little doubt that when, upon the death of Thorfinn, 
the districts occupied by him reverted to the descendants of the 
ancient possessors, the population must have been principally 
Norwegian, and that the Norse language had spread over that 
part of the country. In the more mountainous and Highland 


districts, however, we are warranted in concluding that the 
effect must have been very different, and that the possession 
of the country by the Norwegians for thirty years could have 
exercised as little permanent influence on the population itself, 
as we are assured by the Saga it did upon the race of their 

Previously to this conquest the northern Gaelic race pos- 
sessed the whole of the north of Scotland, from the western to 
the eastern sea, and the general change produced by the con- 
quest must have been, that the Gael were for the first time 
confined within those limits which they have never since 
exceeded, and that the eastern districts became inhabited by 
that Gothic race, who have also ever since possessed them. 

The population of the south of Scotland remained in the 
meantime partly Anglic and partly Gaelic, the former people 
possessing the whole of the country south of the Firth of Forth, 
while the latter occupied the remaining districts. Upon the 
death of Thorfinn the northern districts of the country fell once 
more under the rule of the native chiefs, and they appear to 
have refused to acknowledge Malcolm Kenmore's right, and to 
have chosen for themselves a king of their own, Donald 
M'Malcolm, who in all probability was a son or descendant 
of Malcolm M'Maolbride, the Maormor of Moray, who had 
formerly been king of Scotland. During a period of twenty- 
one years, Malcolm appears to have been engaged in constant 
attempts to reduce the northern districts under his dominion, 
and to have gradually extended his kingdom, until he at length 
succeeded in suppressing all opposition to his government. In 
lO/O we find him founding the Culdee establishment of Mortlach, 
in consequence of a victory obtained over his opponents. In 
1077 the Saxon Chronicle informs us that Maolsnechtan, the 
Maormor of Moray, and son of that Lulach whom the northern 
faction had placed on the throne after the death of Macbeth, 
sustained a complete overthrow from Malcolm, and escaped 
with difficulty with the loss of his army and treasures ; and 
finally, in 1085, we find recorded the violent deaths of Donald 
M'Malcolm, king of Alban, and Maolsnechtan M'Lulach, 
Maormor- of Moray. After this date we do not trace the 
appearance of any further opposition to his power, and he 



had probably now effectually reduced the whole of Scotland 
under his dominion. During the remainder of Malcolm's reign 
he continued in possession of the whole of Scotland, with the 
exception probably of Caithness, and he does not appear to 
have been disturbed on his throne by any further opposi- 
tion on the part of the northern chiefs. Although Malcolm 
had been placed on the throne b\' the assistance of an 
English army, there can be no question that his kingdom was 
in its constitution a purely Celtic one, and that with the 
exception of the Anglic inhabitants of Lothian and Norwegian 
population of the north Lowlands,, his subjects were purely 
Celtic. On his death, however, which took place in the year 
1093, the Celtic and the Saxon laws of succession came into 
direct opposition to each other ; for according to the Celtic law, 
his brother Donald was entitled to the succession, while the 
Saxons, who had been mainl}- instrumental in placing Malcolm 
on the throne, would yield obedience to no sovereign but his 
sons, who, according to the principles of succession recognised 
by them, were alone entitled to inherit. In addition to 
this subject of division, the Gaelic portion of the population 
were irritated, because of the great influx of Saxons that had 
been introduced among them, and felt alarmed at the idea of 
being governed by a family who were in all respects, except 
that of birth, Saxons. They accordingly proclaimed 
Donald Bane their king, and their power was still 
sufficiently great to enable them to succeed in placing him on 
the throne. Their success, however, was principally owing to 
the powerful assistance of Magnus Barefoot, king of Norway, 
who was at that time in possession of the Western Isles. These 
islands he had reduced under his power in the last year of 
Malcolm Kenmore's reign, and as that prince was at that time 
preparing for his English expedition, he found it impossible to 
defend these remote parts of his kingdom, and was easily 
induced to consent to their occupation by the king of Norway. 
On his death, in 1093, Magnus had still remained with his fleet 
among the islands, and probably agreed to support Donald's 
claim to the throne, on condition of his confirming his brother's 
grant. Donald having passed his previous life among the Gael, 
possessed all their dislike to the encroachments of foreigners, 

A.D. 1093. 


and in the spirit of that sentiment, his very first act was to expel 
all the English who had settled in the Lowlands under the pro- 
tection of Malcolm. But he was not long permitted to enjoy 
the crown, for Duncan, the eldest son of his brother Malcolm, 
having applied to the king of England for assistance, received 
from him the aid of a numerous army of English and Normans, 
with which he advanced into Scotland, and succeeded in expel- 
ling Donald Bane. Notwithstanding the success which attended 
him in this enterprise, Duncan found it impossible, even with 
the assistance of his English auxiliaries, to preserve his hold in 
the Gaelic part of Scotland, and was in consequence obliged to 
enter into an agreement with the native chiefs, by which he 
purchased their support by the expulsion of the English who 
had accompanied him to Scotland. The Scots, however, had no 
sooner obtained the dismissal of the foreigners than they took 
advantage of it to attack and slay Duncan, and replace Donald 
Bane on the throne. From this it is plain that the whole of the 
Gaelic population were in the interest of Donald, whom they 
conceived to be their legitimate king. But the English king 
being determined not to spare any effort to place the family of 
Malcolm on the Scottish throne, again renewed the contest two 
years afterwards, by despatching Edgar ^theling with a large 
army, composed of Saxons and Normans, to effect that purpose. 
The Gaelic inhabitants of Scotland were unable to resist the 
invasion of so powerful an arm)', and Edgar having overcome 
Donald in battle, made him captive and placed his namesake, 
the son of Malcolm Kenmore, on the throne. 

Edgar, who was now the eldest surviving son of Malcolm 

Kenmore, was in a very different situation from either his father 

or his brother, for he was through his mother the undoubted heir 

of the old Saxon monarchy, and possessed a natural claim on 

the alleeiance of the Anglic inhabitants of the country 

From the t, o .' 

orEd^ar which had not belonged to the previous kings of 

uithedeath ' Scotland. It was accordingly by the assistance of 

th/Firet'"^^"' the Saxons alone that he was placed on the throne, 

thfconstt" The whole Gaelic population of the country appears 

ia*g°purefy to have been opposed to his claim. The hereditary 

^*^°°" possessions of the family which were in the High- 
lands were even enjoyed by the descendants of Donald 


Bane and Duncan, Malcolm Kenmore's eldest son, and 
during the reigns of Edgar and of his brother and successor, 
Alexander I., the laws, institutions, and forms of government 
were purely Saxon, while it is only on the accession of David I., 
who had previously possessed extensive baronies in England, 
that the Norman or feudal institutions were for the first time 
introduced into the countr}-. 

On the accession of Edgar those districts which had formed 
part of Thorfinn's kingdom appear to have remained in the 
possession of the native chiefs, who had regained them on the 
fall of that kingdom ; but the rest of the country, consisting of 
the territories on the north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde, 
which the Scots had wrested from the southern Picts, and which 
had fallen to the ro}"al house founded by Duncan, in addition to 
the whole of the country south of the Firths, became the 
absolute property of the king ; and here wq find the Saxon 
population and Saxon institutions principally established. In 
imitation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom, this part of the country 
was divided into earldoms, which were bestowed upon members 
of the royal family ; Saxon thanes were introduced over the 
whole country ; sheriffs and sheriffdoms everywhere estab- 
lished ; and thus, during the reigns of Edgar and Alexander I., 
the whole of Scotland, with the exception of what had formed 
the kingdom of Thorfinn, exhibited the exact counterpart of 
Saxon England, with its earls, thanes, and sheriffs, while the 
rest of the country- remained in the possession of the Gaelic 
Maormors, who yielded so far to Saxon influence as to assume 
the Saxon title of earl. 

Such was the termination of the Gaelic kingdom of Scotland; 
from this period the Gael ceased to be the dominant people in 
the country, and then commenced that long enduring struggle 
between the opposing races, for independence on the one part, 
and supremacy on the other, which continued more or less to 
agitate the country, until finally terminated on the disastrous 
field of Culloden in 1746. 

It appears, therefore, to have been during the reign of Edgar 
that the population of Scotland assumed that appearance which 
it has ever since exhibited. The Norwegian kingdom of Thor- 
finn had, as we have seen, excluded the Gael from the eastern 

CHAP. VI] O F S C O T L A N D 85 

and more level part of the country north of the Tay, and had 
colonised these districts with a Norwegian race. The Saxon 
conquest under Edgar, for such it was in its effects, now confined 
them altogether to the mountainous districts of the country, 
and peopled the remainder of the Lowlands with Saxons and 
Normans. The tvv^o Teutonic races who were now placed 
contiguous to each other, and together occupied the whole of 
the Lowlands, gradually amalgamated and formed that Gothic 
race which now occupies that portion of the country, while 
the Gael were confined within those limits to which they have 
ever since been restricted. 

During the whole of Edgar's reign, the Highlanders do not 
appear to have made any attempt to disturb him in the pos- 
session of the crown ; but in the beginning of that of his 
successor, Alexander I., the district of Moray had so far 
recovered from the blow which Malcolm Kenmore's conquest 
of the north had inflicted upon it, as to enable them to offer 
considerable opposition to the government. 

In this the Highlanders appear to have been instigated by 
Ladman, a son of Donald Bane, who probably desired to revenge 
his father's death, and attempted to seize the person of the king, 
by a sudden and unexpected attack upon him while at his palace 
of Invergourie. 

Alexander, however, succeeded in escaping from their 
clutches, and with equal promptitude and boldness he sum- 
moned as many of his vassals as were within reach, attacked 
the Highlanders, unprepared for this prompt retaliation, and 
pursued them across the Spey into Moray, where he laid waste 
and devastated the country. 

" Fra that day hys legys all 
Oysid hym Alsandyr the Fers to call." 

And so effectually did he succeed in crushing the inhabitants 
of Moray, that they were compelled to put to death Ladman, 
the son of Donald Bane, who had instigated them to the 
attempt in which they were unsuccessful. ^ During the 
remainder of the reign of Alexander, and the whole of that 

* Annals of Ulster, under 1116. Winton and Fordun. 


of David I., the Highlanders acquiesced in their occupation 
of the throne, being now, even according to the Celtic law, 
the legitimate heirs of Malcolm Kenmore ; but on the death 
of David I., the two laws of succession were again opposed 
to each other, for, according to the feudal law, 
tionsin Malcolm, David s grandson, was the true heir of 

favour of i • i 1 t t • i i i • i - i 

thedescen- the throne, while the Highlanders recognised in that 

dants of , , "^ "^ ■ 

Duncan, character William, termed the Boy of Egremont, the 

eldest son _ _ ^ o 

of Malcolm soii of William F"itz Duncan, and grandson of 

Kenmore. ° 

Duncan, who was Malcolm Kenmore's eldest son. 
The Boy of Egremont was supported in his claim by no less 
than seven earls, of whom the principal were the earls of 
Stratherne, Ross, and Orkney ; and on the return of Malcolm 
IV. from France, where he had followed the king of England, 
they attacked him in the citadel of Perth. 

Notwithstanding the powerful support which the Boy of 
Egremont had, this attempt was doomed to be as unsuccessful 
as all the others made by his family. Malcolm appears to 
have acted with a promptitude worthy of his predecessor, 
Alexander the Fierce, and 

" Rycht marilyly 
Soone skalyd all that cumpany 
And tuk and slue." 

The claim of the descendants of William Fitz Duncan upon 
the throne was now taken up by Donald Bane, 

A.D. 1100. , , . ^ 

who asserted himself to be his son, and as usual 
he obtained the support of the northern chiefs. For seven 
years he held out the earldoms of Moray and Ross against 
W'illiam the Lion, plundering the rest of the country far and 
wide ; and it was only in consequence of his being accidentally 

met by the ro}'al troops, when accompanied by few 

of his followers, and slain, that the king succeeded 
in suppressing the insurrection. The attempt was resumed 

twent\'-four vears afterwards by his son Guthred, 

A.D. 1211. , 1 . r 

who kept possession of the north of Scotland for 
some time, and baffled ever}^ attempt on the part of the king 
to take him, until he was treacherously betrayed into the hands 
of the liarl of Buchan, and beheaded. Another attempt was 


made on the death of WilHam the Lion and accession of his 

son Alexander II., by Donald, a brother of Guthred, 
■A.D. 1214. . . . .... , , , ' 

in conjunction with a claimant to the earldom of 

Moray, but this insurrection was speedily suppressed by the 

Earl of Ross, a new and powerful ally of the government ; 

and the same fate attended the last effort made by this family to 

obtain possession of the throne, which they conceived to be 

their right, six years afterwards. Gilliescop M'Scolane, a 

descendant of William Fitz Duncan, who at first 
A.D. 1222. , . , , 1 , 

obtained a temporary success, was betrayed and put 

to death with his sons. He appears to have been the last of 
his race, and thus terminated these singular attempts to place a 
rival family on the throne of Scotland, which lasted during a 
period of upwards of one hundred years, and which exhibits 
so extraordinary a proof of the tenacity and perseverance 
with which the Highlanders maintained their peculiar laws of 
succession and the claims of a hereditary title to the throne. ^ 

During the whole of this period the Highlanders, of whom 
the inhabitants of the district of Moray were the principal, 
did not cease to assert the claim of the lineal descendant of 
Malcolm Kenmore to the throne of Scotland ; and in all their 
insurrections they were supported by the greater part of the 
northern chiefs, as well as by the Norwegian Earl of Orkney, 
whose power, however, as well as his territories, had sustained 
considerable diminution. It was, nevertheless, in vain for them 
to contend against the increasing power of the Saxon kings 
of the family of Malcolm, and the great force which, by the 
assistance of the Norman and Saxon barons, they were enabled 
to bring into the field against themi. Accordingly, each in- 
surrection was successively subdued with increasing loss to 
the inhabitants of Moray, until at length, in the year 1 161, upon 
the ill success of the attempt to place William of Egremont 
on the throne, Malcolm IV., after a violent struggle, finally 
succeeded in subjecting the country ; he completely crushed the 
family which had been hitherto known as possessors of the title 
of earls of Moray, and bestowed that dignity upon the earls 
of Mar. 

^ The account of these insurrections the Chronicle of Melrose, 
is taken from Winton, Fordun, and 


In the meantime the earls of Ross had been ^radualU^ 
establishing themselves in that power and influence which had 
formerly been possessed by the chiefs of Moray, and the defeat 
of the last attempt of the inhabitants of that district to place 
the descendant of their ancient earls in possession of his in- 
heritance, as well as one of the rival race of Mac Williams, 
upon the throne by Ferehard, Earl of Ross, in the year 121 5, 
completely established their power. At this time the Western 
Isles were in possession of the Norwegians ; the line of the 
ancient earls of Atholl had shortly before become extinct, and 
consequently there was not any one to dispute the supremacy 
which the earls of Ross now assumed in the north of Scotland. 
But a considerable change took place in the Highlands, upon 
the cession of the Isles by the Norwegians to the 
the Isles. king of Scotlaud in the year 1 266, as that event 

A.D 1266. ^ , - , . . - , . , 

was the means 01 bringmg one 01 the most powerlul 
clans in the Highlands under subjection to the king ; besides 
the earldom of Ross, the only other territory in which the 
descendants of the ancient Maormors remained in full and 
undisturbed possession of the power and dignity which their 
ancestors held, w^as the district of Dala or Argyll, the male 
line of the ancient Maormors or earls having universally failed 
in all the other Highland districts. Their several dignities 
and power had passed into the hands of Norman barons, and 
their dependent tribes had separated into a number of small 
and independent clans, who, besides having to oppose the 
tyranny and encroachments of these barons, were at constant 
feud with each other, either for the nominal title of chief, or 
for some other cause. Such a state of matters was peculiarly 
favourable for the introduction of Saxon laws and of Saxon 
domination into the country, and as a natural consequence, 
the resistance to these novelties, which in other circumstances 
would have been general among the Gael, now fell entirely 
upon the single great chief who still possessed any considerable 
power in the Highlands, and who was thus- driven into constant 
opposition to the government. The cession of the Isles thus 
brought the powerful clan of the Macdonalds into the field, 
and their having so lately enjoyed a state of regal indepen- 
dence, with but a nominal submission to the king of Norway, 


disposed them the less to yield a ready obedience to the Scottish 
monarch. Had the Macdonalds been a united clan, they would 
have had little difficulty in compelling the earls of Ross to 
submit to their authority, and with them to have presented a 
powerful opposition to the government, but the Highland law 
of succession had produced its usual effect over their extensive 
territories, and the clan being divided into several rival branches, 
they were able to do little more than merely to hold their 
ground against the earls of Ross. And as the jealousy and 
hereditary enmity between the two great tribes of Ross and 
Argyll was too great to allow them to unite together in any 
object, the government consequently experienced but little 
difficulty in effecting its object of overawing the Highland clans, 
and compelling the adoption of the feudal law. 

The extinction of some of the branches of the Macdonalds, 
and the forfeiture and utter extermination of one of its principal 
branches in the wars of Bruce and Baliol, at length threw 
the whole power and force of that great tribe into the hands 
of the lords of the Isles, who accordingly began now to present 
an alarming aspect to the government. The earldom of Ross, 
too, had at this time shared the fate of the other Highland 
earldoms, and had become extinct, while the honours and 
territories fell into the possession of a Norman baron ; so that 
it was only by the exercise of the greatest foresight and prudence 
on the part of government that the enmity between the Gael 
and Saxons was prevented from breaking out into open hos- 
tilities, until at length a circumstance occurred to bring down 
upon the country the storm of Gaelic fury which had so long 
been dreaded. That event was brought about from the male 
line of the earls of Ross having once more failed, and the 
lord of the Isles, who had married the heiress of the title, 
immediately claimed the earldom as an appanage to his former 
power. It was at once perceived by Government, that however 
undeniable this claim might be, to admit it would be to con- 
centrate the whole power which the Gael still possessed col- 
lectively in the person of one chief, and that by means of 
that union he would become so formidable an opponent, as 
to render the result of any struggle which might occur between 
the two races, a matter of considerable doubt. The government 


therefore resolved to oppose the claim of the lord of the Isles by 
every means in its power, and as a pretext for doing so, a 
fictitious claim to the title was raised in the person of the 
son of the governor himself. The lord of the Isles flew to 
arms in order to vindicate his right, and that struggle was 
commenced between the government and these powerful lords, 
which in all probability would have been successful on the 
part of the Gael, had it not been for the energy and 
ot^theZvd military talent of King James I., and which was not 
a.d!" H^ys!*' brought to a conclusion till the forfeiture of the last 
lord of the Isles in 1493. 

From the extinction of this powerful dynasty may be dated 
the fall of the Highland clans, who now rapidly declined both 
in their political power and internal condition. By the for- 
feiture of the last lord of the Isles, and his subsequent death 
without lawful issue, the sole remaining family of the great 
Highland chiefs became extinct, and the countty, which had 
hitherto been in the possession of these few great chiefs, was 
now occupied by a number of small clans, of which the more 
considerable had become disunited among themselves ; feuds 
arose among them everywhere, chiefly on the subject of the 
now nominal dignity of chief, and the whole of the Highlands 
became a scene of disorder, internal warfare, and bloodshed. 

The strict, vigorous, and, considering the state of the people, 
the beneficial government of the great chiefs was gone, while 
the power of the ro}'al government had not yet extended far 
beyond the Highland line, as the boundary between the High- 
land and Lowland portions of Scotland was denominated, and 
the s\'stem of clanship, which in its perfect state was the only 
one at all compatible with the peculiar condition of the High- 
landers, and the mode of life which the nature of their country 
necessaril}- obliged them to follow, was, when broken in upon 
and amalgamated with feudal principles, singularly ill adapted 
to improve their condition. What the dissension among the 
Highland clans, and the extinction of their great families had 
commenced, was by the artful and designing policy of the 
Argyll family completed. By good fortune originally, and 
subsequently by well-judged policy, the family of Campbell 
had gradually arisen from the condition of petty chiefs in Argyll- 


shire to that of powerful barons. Their only opponents in that 
quarter had been the lords of the Isles ; the extinction of that 
family now afforded them a favourable opportunity of extending 
their power which was not neglected, and a succession of 
talented and crafty statesmen, secretly and steadily pursuing 
the same policy, soon enabled them to attain their object. The 
general line of policy pursued by these earls was, by devising 
means to incite the different clans in their neighbourhood to 
rebellion and acts of aggression, and when these proceedings 
had attracted the attention of government towards them, the 
Earl of Argyll made offer of his services to reduce the turbulent 
clans to obedience, upon certain terms. Should government, 
however, upon any occasion, despatch another person for that 
purpose, the expedition was certain to have an unsuccessful 
issue, and the council of state found itself under the necessity 
of accepting of Argyll's offer ; so that the affair generally 
terminated in the unwary clans finding themselves betrayed 
by the very person who had instigated them to acts of rebellion, 
and that additional power consequently devolved upon the 
Argyll family. 

Although the Highland clans were now reduced to such a 
state of anarchy and disorder, they were still powerful enough, 
when united, to shake the stability of the government. The 
frequent attempts which they made to replace the descendants 
of the lords of the Isles on the Highland throne of their 
ancestors will be mentioned in another place. But in no instance 
did the system of clanship manifest its extraordinary influence in 

such strength as in the rapid but brilliant campaigns 
Mo^roL. of Montrose, when the Scottish army marched into 

England to assist the parliament in their struggle, 
and Montrose endeavoured, by raising the Highland clans, to 
make a diversion in favour of the king in the north of Scotland. 
He was, upon that occasion, promptly and cheerfully joined by 
the Highlanders, who entertained a hereditary re$pect for the 
descendant of so many kings, and whose principles also led them 
to support the hereditary succession to the crown. No person 
was better acquainted with Highland warfare, or more able to 
make an advantageous use of the peculiar qualities of that race, 
than the Marquis of Montrose ; and, accordingly, with a force 


which at first did not exceed 1500 men, he gained five successive 
victories over the troops sent against him by the Scottish parlia- 
ment, and finally, by the last victory at Kilsyth, found himself 
in possession of the country. There is little doubt that Montrose 
could now have placed his royal master on the throne, had it not 
been for the inveterate adherence of the Highlanders to their 
ancient practice, which, as usual, rendered any permanent 
advantage which they might have been able to derive from their 
victory altogether nugatory ; for, unaccustomed to a regular 
campaign having an ultimate object in view, or, in fact, to any 
other species of warfare than that of their own predatory incur- 
sions, of which the object was plunder alone, they were in the 
habit of returning to their homes after every battle, to secure the 
spoil they had obtained ; and thus Montrose's army gradually 
melted away, until he found himself with even fewer men than 
when he commenced the campaign, and obliged to forego all the 
advantages he might have derived from his brilliant progress. 
Nevertheless, he unfortunately determined to advance with the 
small force which remained to him, and without the assistance 
of the clans, by whose aid he had been able to do so much, and 
the defeat which he sustained at Philliphaugh at once neutralized 
the effects of his previous success. Nor was he again able to 
redeem the ground he had lost, although he succeeded in making 
his escape to the Highlands. On the death of Charles I., his 
son, Charles H., who was determined to make a last effort in 
Scotland before concluding a treaty with the Presbyterian party, 
iiiduced Montrose to attempt again to rouse the Highland clans, 
and the unfortunate issue of this adventure is well known : 
Montrose was defeated at Invercharron in Ross-shire, and soon 
thereafter, by the treachery of Macleod of Ascent, delivered up 
to the Covenanters, who speedily revenged the many terrors he 
had caused them, by his death on the scaffold. 

After this the Highlands were completely subdued by Crom- 
well, who compelled the principal clans to submit to his authority, 
and to secure their obedience he built several fortresses and 
garrisoned them with English troops. Subsequently, however, 
they were called forth from their mountain districts, and from 
the prosecution of their internal feuds, to assist the Earl of 
Lauderdale in carrying through his oppressive proceedings 


against the gentry of the western counties of Scotland, where 
they were long after remembered under the denomination of the 
Highland host. 

The revolution which placed the Prince of Orange on the 
throne of Great Britain, again called the Highlanders forth to 
attempt the restoration of that family for whom they had already 
effected so much, and they once more found themselves in arms 
under a leader as fully able to guide their energies as Montrose 
had been. Bearing the same name, and with a character as 
enterprising as his illustrious predecessor, Dundee was soon at 
the head of 3000 Highlanders, and if his career of victory had 

not been arrested at the outset by his death after the 
^me^cranky. battle of Killiecranky, he would probably have effected 

his object. His death left no one of sufficient energy 
to follow out the enterprise, and the fruits of their victory were 
accordingly lost. The Highland chiefs had now so frequently 
taken up arms in behalf of the Stuart family, that they began to 
feel themselves in a manner identified with the cause, and from 
this period they appear to have kept up a close correspondence 
with the exiled court in France. Their sons were frequently 
sent to be educated in that country, and thus their devotion to 
the cause of hereditary' right was strengthened by personal 
attachment to the individuals of the family which had been 
driven from the throne ; more especially as the proceedings of 
the eovernment towards the clans were little calculated to 
conciliate their attachment. At one time they were persecuted 
with unexampled severity, and at others their honour insulted 
by attempts to buy them off from their adherence to the exiled 
family. They spurned these offers with disdain, while the 
severities but irritated them the more, and the massacre of 
Glencoe has left a stain on the memory of King William which 
will not soon be forgotten. 

The period now approached \\-hen they were once 
^^Tnt^^"^ more to raise the Highland standard in favour of the 

Stuarts, and the unconciliating manners and the 
mistaken policy of George I. hastened the event, which for some 
time previous, had been in contemplation. The Highlanders, to 
the amount of nearly 15,000 men, assembled in the year 171 5, at 
the instigation of the Earl of Mar. Under such leaders as either 


Montrose or Duiulee there could not be a moment's doubt as to 
the immediate result of a demonstration so powerful as this ; but 
what either of these great leaders could with half the numbers 
have effected, the military incapacity and indecision of their 
self-constituted commander prevented them from achieving. In 
this ill-fated attempt we see how unavoidably the mismanage- 
ment and obstinacy of one individual may disarm the otherwise 
resistless energy of such a band, and prevent its success, even 
where no appearance of opposition existed adequate to resist its 
progress. A brave, and in this instance misguided people, 
became exposed to the vengeance of a vindictive government, 
too seriously alarmed to be much disposed to exercise forbear- 
ance. towards them. Prompt measures accordingly were immedi- 
ately taken, effectually to subdue the Highlanders. An Act 
was passed to strip them of their arms ; an officer of skill and 
experience was sent to examine the state of the country, and in 
consequence of his report, means were taken to open up the 
Highland districts, and render them more accessible to English 
troops, by means of military roads carried through all the 
principal districts. The estates of those engaged in the insur- 
rection were forfeited ; independent companies of Highlanders, 
favourable to the established government, were raised to secure 
the peace of the country, and garrisons of English soldiers were 
stationed in the different Highland forts. But before any 
permanent effect could result from these measures, another 
opportunity had presented itself for the warlike and loyal spirit 
of the clans again to burst forth into open insurrection ; and on 
this occasion they certainly had not to complain of having to 
range themselves under the banner of an unenterprising leader. 
It seemed, indeed, as if the Highland clans, which were now 
rapidly approaching the termination of their independence, and 
that royal family whose unhappy fate had so repeatedly called 
forth their devoted exertions in its favour, were not to fall 
without exhibiting together one more splendid effort, the 
brilliancy of w^hich, and the near approach which they made to 
success, should create universal astonishment. 

It was in the month of July, 1745, that the son 

Insurrection ^^ james. Styling himself Third of England, Prince 

Charles Edward, made his unexpected appearance 

CHAP. VI] O F S C O T L A N D 95 

on the west coast of Scotland, raised the standard of revolt in 
Glenfinan, and was, in the course of a few days, joined by some 
1500 clansmen. With this insignificant force he boldly set 
forward to assert his right to the British crown, his strength 
daily and rapidly increasing until it augmented to about 5000 
men. But the ardour of his disposition, and that of his devoted 
followers, compensated for the want of numerical force, and he 
urged his headlong progress with a degree of success of which 
history affords few examples ; after defeating a greatly superior 
force of regular troops at Prestonpans, he penetrated with his 
small army into the very heart of a strong and populous country, 
nor suspended his progress until within ninety miles of the 
metropolis of England. Circumstances had rendered some 
space for deliberation now necessary, and, considering the very 
inadequate character of their resources, to enable them for any 
length of time to maintain their ground in the midst of an 
enemy's country, the only chance of success seemed to be, in 
resolving at all hazards to push on to London, and under the 
walls of the metropolis to dispute the pretensions of the reigning 
monarch to the throne. But, unhappily for their cause, the con- 
fidence of the Scottish levies had rapidly declined in proportion 
as they found themselves removed to a distance from their 
native hills ; conflicting opinions began to prevail, the prudence 
of timely retreat was urged upon the Prince, and his reluctant 
assent to that disheartening measure finally attained. It is not 
my object here to detail the events of this romantic enterprise ; 
suffice it to say, that even in the discouragement of retreat, the 
gallantry and characteristic hardihood of the clansmen were 
conspicuous ; they defeated the King's troops at Falkirk, but 
every hope of ultimate success was finally extinguished on the 
disastrous field of Culloden. 

The government were now too painfully aware of the formid- 
able character of the Highlanders in arms, wild and undisciplined 
as they were, and of the constancy of their loyal attachment to 
the exiled house of Stuart, not to adopt the most severe measures 
to crush their spirit, and the universal alarm which their progress 
had created throughout the kingdom, was too great to be for- 
gotten, when the opportunity of revenge at length presented 
itself Every atrocity which it is possible to conceive an army, 

96 'the HIGHLANDERS [part i 

smarting under a sense of previous discomfiture and disgrace, 
capable of inflicting, was for some time committed on the 
unfortunate Highlanders ; their peaceful glens were visited with 
the scourge of a licentious soldiery let loose upon the helpless 
inhabitants, and every means was taken to break up the peculiar 
organization and consequent power of the Highland clans. The 
disarming Act which had been passed after the insurrection of 
the year 1715 was now carried into rigid execution; and with a 
view to destroy as much as possible any distinctive usages and 
peculiarities of this primeval race, and thus to efface their 
nationality, an Act was passed proscribing the use of their 
ancient garb. The indignity inflicted b\' this act was perhaps 
more keenly felt by the Highlanders, attached in no ordinary 
degree to their ancient customs, than any of the other measures 
resorted to by the English government, but at the same time 
It must be admitted that it effected the object contemplated 
in its formation, and that more was accomplished by this 
measure in destroying the nationality and breaking up the 
spirit of the clansmen, than by any of the other acts. The 
system of clanship was also assailed by an act passed in the 
year 1748, by which heritable jurisdictions were 
heritable aboHshed throughout Scotland, and thus the sanction 

jurisdictions. ,.,.,_, 

of law \\as removed from any claim which Highland 
chiefs or barons might in future be disposed to make upon 
the obedience or services of their followers. 

The general effect of these enactments was altogether to 
change the character of the Highlanders as a nation ; their 
long-cherished ideas of clanship gradually gave way under the 
absence and ruin of so many of their chiefs, while, with the 
loss of their peculiar dress, and the habitual use of arms, they 
also lost their feelings of independence. But what was left 
unaccomplished by the operation of these penal acts, was finally 
completed by the skill and policy of the Earl of Chatham, 
who, by levying regiments in the Highlands for the service 
of the government in Canada, rendered the hardihood, 
fidelity, and martial spirit, so eminently characteristic of 
the Gael, subservient to the interest of government, to which, 
when in opposition, it had been so formidable, at the same 
time that "the absence of the most inflammable part of a 


superabundant population, greatly diminished the risk of fresh 

Thus terminated the existence of the Scottish Highlanders 
as a peculiar, and in some degree, an independent nation ; and 
it is remarkable to find their fall brought about by their 
exertions in the cause of those Princes whose ancestors had 
striven so long and so hard to crush that very spirit to which 
they were beholden for the last support. But if these acts of 
the government thus destroyed the organization of the Highland 
clans, and brought the country into a state of peace from one 
of almost constant strife and bloodshed, it was left for the 
Highland chiefs themselves, by an act as unjustifiable in respect 
to humanity as it was inexpedient as an act of policy, to give 
the last blow to the rapid decline of the Highland 

Introduction . , -- ,..,..,, - , 

of sheep population, and to ariect their individual comrort and 

welfare, as by the former measures the government 
had affected their independence and national spirit. An idea 
was unhappily adopted by Highland proprietors, that a much 
larger rent might be obtained for their possessions now in 
the occupancy generally of small farmers, and the herds of 
black cattle which they reared, were they converted into grazings 
for sheep ; a plan, for the accomplishment of which it became 
necessary to throw a number of the small farms into one, and 
thus to divide the districts into single sheep farms of great 
extent, which, of course, required for that purpose to be cleared 
of the population now become superfluous. This formed the 
climax to the process of deterioration which had been gradually 
reducing the condition of the poor Highlanders, in proportion 
as their chiefs advanced in the modern constitution of society. 
For the Highland tacksman, who was originally co-proprietor 
of his land with the chiefs, became by a series of changes, first 
vassal, then hereditary tenant, and lastly, tenant at will, while 
the law of the country now declared the chiefs to be absolute 
proprietors of the lands occupied by their clan. When, accord- 
ingly, the first prospect of this advantage opened to them, the 
chiefs had no hesitation in violating the relation which subsisted 
between the Highland proprietor and his tacksman, and in 
proceeding to depopulate the country for the sake of their 

increased rents. The change produced by this system was very 



great, and to adopt the words of General Stewart, in his work on 
the state of the Highlands, " It has reduced to a state of nature 
lands that had long been subjected to the plough, and which 
had afforded the means of support to a moral, happy, and 
contented population ; it has converted whole glens and districts, 
once the abode of a brave, vigorous, and independent race of 
men, into scenes of desolation ; it has torn up families which 
seemed rooted, like Alpine plants in the soil of their elevated 
regions, and which from their habits and principles appeared 
to be its original possessors, as well as its natural occupiers, and 
forced them thence, penniless and unskilful, to seek a refuge 
in manufacturing towns, or in a state of helpless despair, to 
betake themselves to the wilds of a far distant land. The spirit 
of speculation has invaded those mountains which no foreign 
enemy could penetrate, and expelled a brave people whom 
no intruder could subdue." 

Experience has not justified the policy of this change ; 
and the Highland proprietors now find themselves in a worse 
position than they would have been if the old system had been 
suffered to continue ; while the country remains a most dis- 
heartening spectacle of desolation and distress, exhibiting the 
wreck of that singular and interesting people who have inhabited 
the same rugged territory from the earliest dawn of history, 
but whose peculiarity of manners and simplicity of character 
are now rapidly disappearing. 

CHAP. VII] O F S C O T L A X D 99 


Constitution and Laws of the Highlanders— Clanship — Law of 
Succession— Law of Marriage and Gradation of Ranks. 

The interest, which the GaeHc population in Scotland has 
always excited, is to be attributed in a great measure to the 
peculiarity of their character and of their manners. Situated 
in the heart of civilization, and of continued improvement in the 
form of society, they have for centuries exhibited the strange 
contrast of a mountain people retaining their habits of predatory 
warfare and pastoral occupation with singular tenacity, in spite 
of the advancement of society around them ; while speaking a 
peculiar language, and wearing a peculiar dress, they possessed 
in a very great degree the imaginative character and rude virtues 
of a simple and uncultivated race. In a work so limited as the 
present, it would be impossible to present anything like a 
complete view of a subject of this nature, and as the great object 
of the writer throughout has been to give a correct and authentic, 
and consequently a concise, detail of the history of this singular 
nation, although perhaps at the expense of the amenity of his 
style, and in opposition to the prejudices of his countrymen, he 
will, in the following remarks, convey merely a short sketch of 
the principal peculiarities of their manners, substituting a true 
picture, derived from the most authentic facts which can still be 
collected, in place of the loose declamation which that subject 
has hitherto in general called forth. 

In treating of this matter it will be necessary, for the sake of 
perspicuity, to consider it under three different branches ; the 
first comprehending their government, laws, and distinction of 
ranks, the second relating to everything connected with their 
religion, superstitions, and music, and the last branch consisting 

loo THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

of their domestic manners, by which may be understood their 
ordinary- mode of Hfe, their dress, arms, &c. 

The crreat pecuh"arity which distin<juishes the form 

Distinction r i 

between the of Government and society amon"- the nations of 

Highland , , . . . ^ ^ ^ 

and the feu- Celtic Origin from that of all other European nations 

dal systems. ... 

is certainly the existence among these tribes of what 
is generally termed the p(XtriarcJial system of government ; and 
this system had one remarkable property, that it occasionally 
exhibited features to all appearance identic with the feudal and 
other forms of society, although in point of fact these apparently 
similar features were produced by ver\' different causes, and 
were based on very different principles. Thus, although most 
of the great nations which formed the original inhabitants of 
Europe were divided into a number of tribes acknowledging the 
rule of an hereditary chief, and thus e.xhibiting an apparently 
similar constitution, }'et it was community of origin which con- 
stituted the simple tie that united the Celtic tribe with its chief, 
while the tribes of the Goths and other European nations were 
associated together for the purposes of mutual protection or 
convenience alone ; the Celtic chief was the hereditary lord of 
all who were descended of the same stock with himself, while 
the Gothic baron was the hereditary proprietor of a certain tract 
of land, and thence entitled to the service and obedience of all 
who dwelt upon that land. 

In no Celtic nation in which the patriarchal system has 
remained is this property of that system so very remarkable as 
the case of the Highlanders of Scotland. In some instances 
their system of government has exhibited features so nearly 
allied to the feudal as even to have led many to assert that that 
system has at all times existed among them, while in other 
instances their constitution and laws are altogether opposed to 
the principles of the feudal law. As an example of this apparent 
similarity we may mention the system of clanship. 

Clanship. ,.,, r ,,-, r 

which has not unfrequently been mistaken for a 
modification of the feudal jurisdiction, while nothing can exhibit 
a stronger opposition than the laws of succession and marriage 
according to the two systems. The natural consequence of this 
has been, that in the former instance the feudal law^ was intro- 
duced into the Highlands with so little difficulty that at a very 


early period we find instances of lands in the Highlands being 
held by a feudal tenure, and the chiefs exercising a feudal juris- 
diction; while in the latter, the struggle between the two systems 
was long and doubtful. Many years have not passed since the 
feudal law of succession and marriage came into general use in 
the Highlands, and to this source may be traced most of the 
controversies which have arisen among many of the Highland 
families regarding succession and chieftainship. 

The system of clanship in the Highlands, though possessing 
this apparent resemblance, was in principle very different indeed 
from the feudal system as observed in the rest of the country. 
In the one case, the people followed their chief as the head of 
their race, and the representative of the common ancestor of the 
whole clan ; in the other, they obeyed their leader as feudal 
proprietor of the lands to which they were attached, and for 
their portion of which they were bound to render military 
service. In the one, the Highland chief was the hereditary lord 
of all who belonged to his clan, wherever they dwelt or whatever 
lands they possessed ; in the other, the feudal baron was entitled 
to the military service of all who held lands under him, of 
whatever race they might individually be. The one dignity, in 
fact, was personal, while the other was territorial ; yet these two 
systems, so different in principle, were still in appearance and 
effect almost identic. Both .systems exhibited the appearance 
of a subject m possession of unlimited power within his territories, 
and exacting unqualified obedience from a numerous band of 
followers, over whom they held a power of life and death, and 
whose defection they could resist with fire and sword. Both 
were calculated to raise the power of the turbulent chiefs and 
nobles of the period, and to diminish that of the crown — to 
retard the operations of justice throughout the country, and to 
impede the progress of improvement. The one system was 
peculiarly adapted to a people in the hunting and pastoral state 
of society — to a people the nature of whose country prevented 
the adoption of any other mode of life, and whose manners must 
consequently remain the same, how^ever much their mental state 
might be susceptible of improvement. The other system was 
necessary to a population occupying a fertile country, possessing 
but a rude notion of agriculture, and obliged to defend their 


possessions from aggression on all sides. But neither of the two 
were at all compatible with a nation in a state of civilization, 
where the liberty of the subject required protection, and the 
security of property an equal administration of justice. 

The feudal system, so far as the tenure of lands and the 
heritable jurisdictions were concerned, was easily introduced, 
to appearance, in the Highlands ; but although the principal 
Highland chiefs readily agreed, or were induced by circumstances, 
to hold their lands of the crown or of the Lowland barons, yet 
in reality the Celtic system of clanship remained in full force 
among the native Highlanders and the chieftains of the smaller 
branches, who were not brought into direct contact with the 
government until a very late period. The peculiarities of the 
Highland clan are nowhere better described than in the letters 
from an officer of Engineers to his friend in London, written 
about the year 1730; and his remarks are peculiarly valuable, 
as being the observations of a stranger ; so that I cannot omit 
quoting the passage. 

"The Highlanders are divided into tribes or clans, under 
chiefs or chieftains, and each clan again divided into branches 
from the main stock, who have chieftains over them. These are 
subdivided into smaller branches of fifty or sixty men, who 
deduce their original from their particular chieftains, and rely 
upon them as their more immediate protectors and defenders. 
The ordinary Highlanders esteem it the most sublime degree of 
virtue to love their chief and pay him a blind obedience, 
although it be in opposition to the government. Next to this 
love of their chief is that of the particular branch from whence 
they sprang ; and in a third degree, to those of the whole clan 
or name, whom they will assist, right or wrong, against those of 
any other tribe with which they are at variance. They likewise 
owe goodwill to such clans as they esteem to be their particular 
well-wishers. And, lastly, they have an adherence one to another 
as Highlanders in opposition to the people of the low country, 
whom they despise as inferior to them in courage, and believe 
they have a right to plunder them whenever it is in their power. 
This last arises from a tradition tJiat iJie Lowlands in old times 
were the possessions of their ancestors. 

" The chief exercises an arbitrary authority over his vassals. 


determines all differences and disputes that happen among them, 
and levies taxes upon extraordinary occasions, such as the 
marriage of a daughter, building a house, or some pretence for 
his support or the honour of the name ; and if anyone should 
refuse to contribute to the best of his ability, he is sure of severe 
treatment, and if he persists in his obstinacy, he would be cast 
out of his tribe by general consent. This power of the chief is 
not supported by interest as they are landlords, but as lineally 
descended from the old patriarchs or fathers of the families, for 
they hold the same authority when they have lost their estates. 
On the other hand, the chief, even against the laws, is to protect 
his followers, as they are sometimes called, be they never so 
criminal. He is their leader in clan quarrels, must free the 
necessitous from their arrears of rent, and maintain such who by 
accidents are fallen to total decay. Some of the chiefs have not 
only personal dislikes and enmity to each other, but there are 
also hereditary feuds between clan and clan which have been 
handed down from one generation to another for several ages. 
These quarrels descend to the meanest vassals, and thus some- 
times an innocent person suffers for crimes committed by his 
tribe at a vast distance of time before his being began." 

To this concise and admirable description, it is unnecessary 
to add anything farther. 

In no instance, perhaps, is the difference between the High- 
land and the feudal laws, both in principle and in 
ceeslon! ^""^ appearance, so very remarkable as in the law of 
succession. This subject has been hitherto very much 
misunderstood, which has produced a degree of vagueness and 
uncertainty in all that has hitherto been written on the history 
of the Highland clans, although it is of the greatest consequence' 
for that history, that a correct idea should be entertained of 
the precise nature of the Highland law of succession, as well 
as of the distinction between that law and the feudal. It has 
generally been held, that the law of succession in the Highlands 
was the same with the feudal, and whenever supposed anomalies 
have been perceived in their succession, it has at once been 
assumed, that, in these cases, the proper rule had been departed 
•from, and that the succession of their chiefs was in some 
degree elective. We frequent)}- find it asserted, " that ideas of 


succession were so loose in the Highlands that brothers were 
often preferred to grandsons and eveti to sons." But nothing 
can be more erroneous than this opinion, or more inconsistent 
with the character of the Highlanders than to suppose that they 
ever, in any degree, admitted of election. For an attentive 
examination of the succession of their chiefs when influenced 
by the feudal law will show, that they adhered strictly to a 
system of hereditary succession, although that system was very 
different from the feudal one. The Highland law of succession 
requires to be considered in reference to two subjects : — first, 
as to the succession to the chiefship and to the superiority of 
the lands belonging to the clan ; and secondly, as to succession 
ro property or to the land itself The former is generally 
termed the law of Tanistry, and the latter that of 


Gavel. The first of these is the most important to 
be ascertained, for when the feudal law was introduced, it 
became in fact the succession to the property also, while the 
last was too much opposed to feudal principles to be allowed 
to exist at all, even in a modified state. The oldest and most 
complete specimen of the Highland law of Tanistry which 
remains, is to be found in the case of the succession of the 
Maormors of Moray, and the peculiarities of this system will 
appear from a consideration of the history of that family. In 
the first place, the Highlanders adhered strictly to succession 
in the male line, which is proved by the fact, that although 
Malcolm, Maormor of Moray, and afterwards King of Scotland, 
had a daughter who was married to Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, 
and Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, Sigurd's son, was consequently 
his feudal representati\e, yet he was succeeded in his posses- 
sions by his brother Gillcomgain. In the second place, the 
great peculiarity which distinguished the Highland from the 
feudal laws of succession was that, in the former, the brothers 
invariably succeeded before the sons. This arose partly from 
an anxiet}' to avoid minorities in a nation dependent upon a 
competent leader in war, but principally from the difference in 
principle between the two systems. In the feudal system it 
was succession to property, and the nearest relation to the last 
feudal proprietor was naturally considered feudal heir, while in 
the Highland s\'stem, on the other hand, it was succession to 


the right of chiefship, derived from being the lineal descendant 
of the founder of the tribe, and thus it was the relation to 
the common ancestor through whom the right was derived, 
and not to the last chief, which regulated the succession ; the 
brother being considered as one degree nearer to the original 
founder of the race than the son.^ 

An attentive examination of the most ancient and purest 
instances of Highland succession, will sufificiently show, that 
the brothers of the chief invariably succeeded before the sons, 
as a right, and according to a fixed rule, and not, as has been 
generally supposed, that the succession of a brother before a 
son was any departure from the established rule of succession 
or produced by a species of election. This is in no case so 
strikingly exemplified as in the succession of the Maormors 
of Moray : Maolbride, the first known Maormor, is succeeded 
by his brother Finlay, Finlay by Malcolm, son of Maolbride, 
and Malcolm by his brother Gillcomgain. But further, in the 
third place, the Highland law of Tanistry had still another 
peculiarity, which was this, that if the person who ought to 
succeed was under age, his nearest male relation succeeded 
and retained the chiefship during his life, although the projDer 
heir had in the meantime attained majority. This will appear 
from a curious passage in a chronicle of considerable antiquity, 
which informs us, that there was an ancient law by which "in 
cases that the children of the deceissand suld not have passit 

' The principle upon wliich the and thus the brother of Malcolm III. 
Tanistic succession is founded was reigned after him to the exclusion of 
recognised as the old law of succes- the son of Malcolm III." 
sion in Scotland as early as the com- Baliol answered, "That if the brother 
petition between Bruce and Baliol tor was preferred to the son of the king 
the crown: — Bruce's third pleading the example proved against Bruce, for 
was "that the manner of sicccession that the son, not the brother, was the 
to the kingdom of Scotland in former nearest in degree." Hailes adds the 
times made for his claim, for that the following just remark : — " Here Baliol 
brother, as being nearest in degree attempted to answer Bruce's argument 
(ratione proximitatis in gradu), was without understanding it. Bruce sup- 
wont to be preferred to the son of the posed an ancestor to be the com^non 
deceased king. Thus, when Kenneth stock, and the degrees to be the persons 
M 'Alpine died, his brother Donald was descending from that stock. Hence 
preferred to his son Constantine: thus, the king's brother stood in one degree 
when Constantine died, his brother nearer the common stock than the 
Edh was preferred to his son Donald ; king's son.'' 


the aige of fourteen ziers, that he of the hliide wha wes nerrest, 
beand worthie and capable, suld be elected to reign dureing 
his lyffe, without prejudice of the richteous heretouris whan 
they atteinit the parfite aige." From this passage we learn, 
that fourteen was the ancient Highland period of majority, 
and that if the lawful heir had not attained that age, then 
the nearest relation succeeded for the period of his life, after 
which it returned to the proper heir. This remarkable property 
was also illustrated in the succession of the Maormors of Moray; 
for although Gillcomgain had a son Lulach, he is succeeded 
by Macbeth, the son of his uncle Finlay, and therefore his 
nearest heir failing his own son, and after Macbeth's death 
Lulach succeeded him. 

Every instance of Highland succession which has hitherto 
been thought to have proceeded from loose ideas on this subject, 
will be found upon examination to accord with this system ; 
and it is manifest that the law of Tanistry, although opposed 
in a remarkable degree to the feudal notions of later days, 
yet proceeds naturally from the principles of the patriarchal 
constitution of society, and was in fact peculiarly adapted to 
a people whose habits of warfare required at all times a com- 
petent chief to lead them. But if the law of Tanistry was 
opposed to the principles of the feudal system, still more so 
was the law of Gavel, or the succession to property 

Gavel. ... 

among the Highlanders. The feudal law implied 
the right of the eldest son not only to the superiority over 
the rest of the family, but also to the whole of the property 
itself, and the younger branches were driven to seek advance- 
ment in war or in other courses of life. In the Highland.: it 
was quite different, fcjr there the property of the clan was by 
the law of Gavel divided in certain proportions among the 
whole of the male branches of the family, while females were 
altogether excluded fnjm succession either to chiefship or to 

What the exact proportions were into which the property 
was divided, it is impossible to ascertain, but it would appear 
that the principal seat of the famil}', together with a certain 
extent of property around it, was not included in the division 
and always remained the propert}- of the chief of the clan for 


the time. The chief, besides this, retained a sort of right of 
superiority over the whole possessions of the clan, and received 
from each of the dependent branches a proportion of the produce 
of the land as an acknowledgment of chiefship, as well as for 
the purpose of enabling him to support the dignity of his 
station and the hospitality which he was called upon to exercise. 

Although this system is so adverse to feudal principles, it 
is nevertheless clear that it was the only one which could exist 
among a people in the condition that the Highlanders were, 
and that it was in fact produced by the state of society among 
them ; for when there was no other means of subsistence or 
pursuits open to the branches of the families during peace, 
except those derived from the pasturage of the country, and 
during war that of following their chief, whose interest it 
accordingly became to retain upon the property as great a 
number of men as possible, and to secure the obedience of as 
large a clan as he could, it naturally followed that a division 
of the property among them was expedient, as well as that the 
patriarchal right of government and chiefship should descend 
to the lawful heir alone. A system so directly opposed to 
feudal principles as this could not maintain its existence in 
the Highlands under any modification, but still it was a system 
so well adapted to the Highland constitution of society, that it 
was only after a long struggle that it was finally given up, and 
even at a comparatively late period instances of its operation 
among them ma}' be observed. 

The most remarkable instance of this system, perhaps, 
appears in the history of the Macdonalds. Sommerled divided 
his immense possessions among his three sons. Another divi- 
sion took place by Reginald, his eldest son, among his three 
sons. And again, in the fourteenth century, by John, Lord 
of the Isles, who had obtained nearly the whole of the territories 
which had belonged to his ancestor Sommerled, among his 
seven sons ; and finally, as late as the fifteenth century, we 
find the possessions of his eldest son Reginald, the founder of 
the clan Ranald, divided among his five sons. One effect 
produced by this system was, that the branch of the family 
which had been longest separated from the main stem, in 
technical language the eldest cadet, became the most powerful 


famih- of the clan next to the chief, and in many cases much 
more powerful than even the family of the chief itself, in direct 
opposition to the results produced when the feudal system 
prevailed, in which case the youngest cadet, or the family 
nearest to the main stem, was of most consideration ; and this 
difference between the two systems produced, as we shall 
afterwards see, a very remarkable result. 

It has been not unfrequently remarked in the High- 
marrirfge. 1^"^! succcssion, that a bastard son is often found in the 
undisturbed possession of the chiefship or property of 
a clan ; and that in general when a feud has arisen from this 
cause between the bastard and the feudal heir, the bastard has 
the support of a great part of the clan. This, as might be ex- 
pected, has hitherto been attributed to loose ideas of succession 
among the Highlanders, or to the influence of some principle of 
election ; but when we consider how very inflexible the notions 
of the Highlanders were in matters of hereditarv right, it would 
seem a more probable supposition that the Highland law of 
marriage was originally very different from the feudal, and that 
a person who was feudal!}- a bastard might in their view be con- 
sidered legitimate, and therefore entitled to be supported in 
accordance with their strict ideas of hereditar\' rio-ht and their 
habitual tenacit\- of whatever belonged to their ancient usag-es. 
There is accordingly a singular custom regarding marriage 
retained to a very late period among the Highlanders, which 
would seem to infer that their original law of marriage was 
different from that of the feudal. This custom was termed hand- 
fasting, and consisted in a species of contract between two chiefs, 
by which it was agreed that the heir of the one should live with 
the daughter of the other as her husband for twelve months and 
a day. If in that time the lad\' became a mother, or proved to 
be with child, the marriage became good in law, even although 
no priest had performed the marriage ceremony in due form ; 
but should there not have occurred any appearance of issue, the 
contract was considered at an end, and each party was at liberty 
to marry or handfast v.'ith an\- other. It is manifest that the 
practice of so peculiar species of marriage must have been in 
terms of the original law among the Highlanders, otherwise it 
would be difficult to conceive how such a custom could have 

CHAP. VII] O F S C O T L A N D 109 

originated ; and it is in fact one which seems naturally to have 
arisen from the form of their society, which rendered it a matter 
of such vital importance to secure the lineal succession of their 
chiefs. It is perhaps not improbable that it was this peculiar 
custom which gave rise to the report handed down by the 
Roman and other historians, that the ancient inhabitants of 
Great Britain had their wives in common, or that it was the 
foundation of that law in Scotland b}' which natural children 
became legitimized by subsequent marriage ; and as this custom 
remained in the Highlands until a very late period, the sanction 
of ancient custom was sufficient to induce them to persist in 
regarding the offspring of such marriages as legitimate.^ It 
naturally followed that when the feudal law was introduced, it 
came, in this point, to be directly opposed to the Highland law, 
and must have frequently occasioned the lineal and legitimate 
heir, according to Highland principles, to be looked upon as a 
bastard by the government, and according to their rules as 
incapable of succeeding ; and thus arose many of those disputes 
about succession and chiefship which embroiled so many families 
with each other and with the government. But it must always 
be kept in mind that the Highlanders themselves drew a very 
strong distinction between bastard sons and the issue of these 
handfast unions, whom they considered legitimate, and that they 
rigorously excluded from succession of an)^ sort the illegitimate 

Having thus given a short view of the principal peculiarities 
which distinguished the constitution and laws of the Highlanders 
from those of other nations, it becomes proper that we should in 
some degree complete the sketch b\- a cursory examination of 
the gradation of ranks which appears to have existed 
o/ranks°° among them, and these we must, in the same manner 
as the law of succession, regard in two points of view ; 
first, in reference to their relation to property or the land of which 

^ As late as the sixteenth century becaus, as he alleged, his mother wns 

the issue of a handfast marriage handfasted and financed to his 

claimed the earldom of Sutherland. father ;'" and his claim was i^om^/^^ off 

Alexander Sutherland claimed the by Sir Adam Gordon, who had married 

earldom "as one lawfullie descended Earl John's heiress.— Sir Kobert 

from his father Earle John the third ; Gordon. 


the}- were proprietors, and second, in relation to the clan of which 
the)- were members. 

With respect to the first point of view, the Highland system 
appears to have borne a close resemblance to the Welsh and Irish 
customs. According to the Welsh authorities there were three 
several tenures of land and nine degrees of rank. The first 
tenure was termed Maerdir, from Maer, the same as the Gaelic 
Maor, and signifying correctly any person that has jurisdiction. 
The Welsh had three degrees of rank under this tenure, the 
Brenin or king, the Twysog or duke, and the Jarl or earl. By 
the Irish these were all termed Righ or king. The second 
tenure was the Uchelordir or dominium, and consisted likewise 
of three degrees, the Arglwd or lord, the Barwn, and the Brier or 
squire. The same degrees were known to the Irish by the name 
of the Tighern, Nemed, and Flath. The third and last tenure 
was termed by the Welsh Priodordir, from priodor, signifying 
native, and included dll whom we would now call tenants. Of 
these there were three degrees, the Gwreange or yeoman, the 
Alltud or labourer, and the Kaeth or slave. The Irish had like- 
wise three degrees, and termed them severally Fuidir, Biadhtach, 
and Mogh. The oldest account of the degrees of rank among 
the Highlanders is contained in a description given by an old 
sennachy of the government of the Isles under their Celtic lords, 
where we should expect to find the ancient usages of the High- 
landers preserved with greater care. " The constitution or 
government of the Isles," says he, *' was thus : Macdonald had 
his council at Island Finlaggan, in Isla, to the number of sixteen. 
— viz., four thanes, four armins (that is to say, freemen, lords, or 
sub-thanes), four bastards (z>., squires or men of competent 
estates who could not come up with armins or thanes, that is, 
freeholders), four ... or men that had their lands in factory, 
as Macghee, of the Rhinds of Isla ; Macnicoll, in Portree, in 
Skye; and Maceachern and Macgillevray, in Mull; Macillemhaol 
or Macmillan, &c. There was a table of stone where the council 
sat in the Isle of Finlaggan ; the which table, with the stone on 
which Macdonald sat, was carried away by Argyll, with the bells 
that were at Icolmkill. Moreover, there was a judge in every 
isle for the discussion of all controversies, who had lands from 
Macdonald for their trouble, and likewise the eleventh part of 


every action decided ; but there might still be an appeal to the 
council of the Isles. Macfinnon was obliged to see weights and 
measures adjusted, and Macduffie or Macphie, of Colonsay, kept 
the records of the Isles." 

In this account it is plain that the Highland system was 
almost the same with the Welsh and Irish. The first tenure 
consisted, with them, of the Ard Righ, Righ and Maormor, of 
which latter the lord of the Isles was no un\\orthy representation.- 
The Tighern or Thane, the Armin and the Squire were the same 
with the three Welsh degrees included under the Uchilordir, 
while the Highlanders had an order termed native men, clearl}- 
equivalent to the Priodordir of the Welsh. These native men, 
however, were just the tenants or farmers on the property, for 
Martin, in his admirable picture of the ancient customs of the 
Western Isles, says, that the peculiar acknowledgment made by 
the tenants to the chief of their clan was the calpe. " There was 
another duty payable by all the tenants to their chief, though 
they did not live upon his lands, and this is called Calpich ; 
there was a standing law for it also called Calpich law, and I am 
informed that this is exacted by some in the mainland to this 
day." And this is confirmed by Skene, who mentions in his 
work De Verborum Significatione, that Herezeld and Calpe were 
two duties paid by the tenant of more than the eighth of a 
davach to his landlord or chief Now, we find this was likewise 
the peculiar acknowledgment of chiefship incumbent upon the 
native men, for in the bonds of Manrent which exist between 
native men and their chief, we find them always giving their 
bonds of Manrent and " Calpis, as native men ought and could 
do to their chief," and that there is always an obligation for the 
due payment of the Calpe. We must be careful, however, to 
draw a proper distinction between the nativi or native men of 
Highland properties, and the seii'i fugitivi or CuinerlacJi, the 
latter of which were slaves, and the same as the Welsh Kaeth. 
These have all been hitherto most improperly confounded, and it 
has been assumed, that they were equally ascribed to the soil, 
but this was far from being the case. In all old charters they 
are carefully distinguished. The servi ox fugitivi were absolute 
slaves, and might be bought and sold either with or independent 
of the land. The nativi were so termed not because they were 


bound to the soil, but because they could not be removed from it 
at the will of their lord. It was not a restriction upon their 
libert}-, but a privilege that gave them their peculiar name. 

The native man was the tenant who cultivated the soil, and 
who possessed, all over Scotland, but especially in the Highlands, 
a definite and recognized estate in the soil. So long as he per- 
formed his services he was not to be removed from his land, nor 
could the lord exact from him a higher rent or a greater propor- 
tion of labour than what was due, and of right accustomed to be 
given. Their great privilege, therefore was, that they held their 
farms by an inherent right which was not derived from their lord, 
and from which he could not remove them. And in this way we 
find that all old Highland alienations of land included the 
" Nativis ad dictas terras pertinentibus." The servi and fugitivi 
were the cottars and actual labourers of the soil, who were 
absolute slaves, and posses.sed no legal rights either of station or 
property. It is very remarkable, however, that the servi or slaves 
were confined entirely to the Lowlands of Scotland, not a trace 
of them being found in the Highlands ; and as the existence of 
slavery of this description invariably points out a conquered 
people under the domination of another race, it forms a strong- 
argument for the Highlanders being the original inhabitants of 
the country. Where a clan had retained their original property 
without addition ordiminution, the whole of the families connected 
with it, from the Tighern to the native man, were unquestionably 
of the same race, and although the Tighern may have held his 
lands of the crown as a Norman baron, yet the Gaelic system of 
tenure would be preserved in his barony in all its purity. When 
a Norman baron obtained by succession or otherwise a Highland 
property, the Gaelic nativi remained in actual possession of the 
soil under him, but at the same time paid their calpes to the 
natural chief of their clan and followed him to war. When a 
Highland chief, however, acquired, by the operation of the feudal 
succession, an additional property which had not been previously 
in the possession of his clan, he found it possessed by the nativi 
of another race. If these nativi belonged to another clan which 
still existed in independence, and if tliey chose to remain on the 
property, they did so at the risk of being placed in a perilous 
situation should a feud arise between the two clans. But if they 


belonged to no other independent clan, and the stranger chief 
had acquired the whole possessions of their race, the custom 
seems to have been for them to give a bond of Manrent to their 
new lord, by which they bound themselves to follow him as their 
chief, and make him the customary acknowledgment of the 
Calpe. They thus became a dependent sept upon a clan of a 
different race, while they were not considered as forming a part 
of that clan. 

With respect to the gradation of ranks in relation to the 
clan of which they were members, besides the righ or king, 
who, in point of rank and birth was originally on equality with 
the other chiefs, and merely derived some additional dignity 
during his life from his station, the highest title of honour 
among the Highlanders was anciently that of Maonnor. The 
nature of this title has been sufficiently examined in another 
place, and from all the materials which have come down to 
us, it is very evident that the Maormors were the patriarchal 
chiefs of the great tribes Jnto which the Highlanders were 
formerly divided. 

When the line of the ancient Maormors had gradually fallen 
before the influence of the feudal system and the introduction 
of the feudal barons, the clans into which the great tribes were 
divided appear in independence, and their leaders were known 
by the name of Ceann Cinne or chief, who was held to represent 
the common ancestor and founder of the clan, and who 
derived his dignity from that source. The peculiarities of the 
Gaelic chief are too well known to require any illustration, 
it may only be necessary to mention that it was an office 
possessed strictly by right of blood alone, and that nothing 
can be more erroneous or more inconsistent with the principles 
which regulated the form of society among the Highlanders 
than the opinion, so frequently expressed, that either election 
or a connexion by marriage could give any person a right to 
the chiefship who, according to the Highland principle of 
succession, was not the nearest male heir to that dignity. Next 
to the chief was the Tanist, or person entitled to succeed by 
the laws of Tanistry, who possessed that title during the life of 
the chief, and was considered a person of considerable con- 


114 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

After the famih* of the chief came the Ceanntighes, or heads 
of the houses into which the clan was divided, among whom the 
most powerful was the oldest cadet or Toisich. It naturally 
followed from the law of Gavel, which produced a constant 
subdivision of the chief's estate, until in actual extent of 
property he not unfrequently came to possess less than any of 
the other branches of the family, that that branch which had 
been longest separated from the main stem became the most 
powerful. In this respect the Highland system exhibits a 
striking contrast to that of the feudal, and from the earliest 
period it was the oldest cadet who appears to have enjoyed, next 
to the chief, the highest dignity in the clan, and the principal 
post of honour when called into the field. His station was that 
of leading the van in the march, and in battle to occupy the 
right pf the line when the chief was present ; and in the absence 
of the chief to command the whole clan. Hence in Gaelic he 
was called Toisich, or the first, for there can be little doubt 
that the ancient Gaelic title of Toisich was peculiar to the oldest 
cadet. Dr. Macpherson, who was intimately acquainted with 
the exact meaning of ancient Gaelic phraseology and usages, 
says, " Toisich was another title of honour ^^•hich obtained 
among the Scots of the middle ages ; Spelman imagined that 
this dignity was the same with that of Thane. But the High- 
landers, among whose predecessors the word was once common, 
distinguished carefully in their language the Toisich from the 
Tanistair or the Tieiiia. When they enumerate the different 
classes of their great men, agreeabh' to the language of former 
times, they make use of these three titles in the same sentence, 
with a disjunctive particle between them. 

" In Gaelic, Tiis., Tos, and TosicJi signify the beginning or 
first part of any thing, and sometimes the front of an army or 
battle. Hence the name Toshichy — (p. 185.) 

It is remarkable that the signification given to the name 
Toshich by Dr. Macpherson implies the very post of honour 
which the oldest cadet klways occupied as his peculiar privilege. 
Another character of the oldest cadet was that of maor or 
steward, in which his duties were to collect the revenues of the 
chief When the feudal customs were introduced into the 
Highlands, this office became identified with the feudal baron- 


bailie, and as the feudal law required that there should be a 
bailie for every barony, it soon ceased to be the peculiar office 
of any particular branch of the clan. The Gaelic name, how- 
ever, retained for the office of Tosheadorach, sufficiently indicates 
that prior to the introduction of feudal customs it was the 
peculiar privilege of the Tosheach, or oldest cadet ; and this 
is confirmed by every notice of the ancient Gaelic maors or 
seneschalli which have come down to us. 

There was one remarkable result which followed from the 
power and consequence of this branch of the family, that when 
that of the chief, through peculiar circumstances, had become 
reduced so as not to be able to afford the clan the protection 
required from him, the clan frequently followed the oldest cadet 
instead of the chief, as on such occasions he became the most 
powerful person in the sept, and he thus often for a length of 
time enjoyed the possession of the dignity, consequence, and 
privileges of chief, without either possessing a right of blood to 
that station or acquiring the title of chief It is plain that 
while clanship remained in its original and perfect state this 
could never be the case ; but when the introduction of the 
feudal system had broken in upon the purity of clanship, and 
the territory of the chief had probably come into the possession 
of a Lowland baron by means of the feudal succession, or the 
chief had by some unsuccessful opposition to the government 
brought ruin upon himself, or any other cause which the intro- 
duction of the Lowland barons might have occasioned, had 
rendered him incapable of maintaining his station, the clan 
naturally sought the protection of the only family able to 
occupy the position of that of their chief, and accordingly this 
duty was necessarily sought for at the hands of the oldest cadet 
On such occasions he did not assume the title of chief, but was 
known by that of captain, or leader of the clan. 

As the term captain has generally been held to be synony- 
mous with that of chief, and to import the head of a clan by 
right of blood as well as by possession, it may be necessary to 
say a few words regarding the nature of the title. It is plain 
that this dignity was one called forth by circumstances, and 
that it was not usual in the Highlands, because it appears to 
have been altogether unknown until a late period, and then 


when it did come into use it was principally confined to three of 
the Highland clans only. These clans were the clan Chattan^ 
clan Cameron, and clan Ranald, and if the title of captain was 
synonymous with that of chief, it is altogether impossible to 
conceive that it should have been confined to these clans alone, 
and that it did not prevail more generally over the Highlands. 
It is evident that a title, which was not universal among the 
Highland clans, must have arisen from peculiar circumstances 
connected with these clans in which it is first found ; and when 
we examine the history of these clans, there can be little doubt 
that it was simply a person who had from various causes become 
de facto head of the clan, while the person possessing the 
hereditary right to that dignity remained either in a subordinate 
situation, or else for the time disunited from the rest of the 
clan. To enter minutely into this investigation here would lead 
to too great length ; suffice it therefore to mention, that in each 
of these clans there is a controversy regarding the chiefship ; 
that the family claiming that rank have in each asserted the 
family in possession of the captainship to have been merely 
the oldest cadet, and to have by usurpation or otherwise 
obtained their situation with the title of captain ; and that when 
we come to the history of these clans, it will be proved that the 
captains of the clans were originally the oldest cadets, whom 
various circumstances had placed in that situation. There is 
one instance, however, which may be mentioned, as it seems to 
place the fact at once beyond all doubt. The title of captain 
occurs but once in the family of the Macdonalds of Slate, and 
this single occurrence of this peculiar title is just when the clan 
Houston was led by the uncle of their chief, then in minorit}'. 
In 1545 we find Archibald Maconuill captain of the clan 
Houston, and thus on the only occasion when this clan followed 
as chief a person who had not the right of blood to that station, 
he styles himself captain of the clan. 

Next to the Ceanntighes, or heads of houses, followed in rank 
the Diiinc Uaisle, or gentry of the clan. These constituted the 
only gradation subsisting between the chief and the actual body 
of the clan, forming a sort of link by which they were united. 
They were all cadets of the house of the chief, and could invari- 
ably trace their connexion step by step with his family. 


We shall now conclude this short view of the gradation of 
ranks among the Highlanders by an account of the personal 
attendants of the chief, which we shall extract from the excellent 
Letters of an Officer of Engineers in 17 16. 

" When a chief goes a journey in the hills, or makes a formal 
visit to an equal, he is said to be attended by all or most part 
of the officers following, viz. : — 

" The henchman. 

" The bard or poet. 

" The bladier or spokesman. 

" The gillemore, bearer of the broadsword. 

" The gillecasflue, to carry the chief when on foot over the 

" The gille comstraine, to lead the chief home in dangerous 

" The gille trusharnish or baggage-man. 

" The piper, who, being a gentleman, I should have named 
sooner. And lastly, 

" The piper's gillie, who carries the bagpipe. 

" There are likewise some gentlemen near of kin who bear 
him company, and besides, a number of the common sort, who 
have no particular employment, but follow him only to partake 
of the cheer." 



Religion of the Highlanders— The Culdee Church — Its Constitu- 
tion AND Form of Government— Poetry— Ossian Considered 
AS AN Historical Poet — New Proof of his Authenticity — 
Music. . 

The Highlanders, like all other people who have long preserved 
their original manners and mode of life unaltered, possessed a 
peculiarly imaginative character. While their manners remained 
in primitive rudeness, while their occupations were still those 
peculiar to the early stages of society, the energy of savage 
nature displayed itself in the increased power of imagination 
and the engrossing influence of fanc}-. But these natural 
properties of primitive society were greatly heightened in the 
Highlanders by the wild and romantic aspect of their country, 
which exercised a powerful influence on their character; and the 
force of imagination over the Highlanders has consequently 
displayed itself from the earliest period in the wildest supersti- 
tion and poetic fancy. 

What the ancient religion of the Highlanders was 
giun of the before the light of Christianit}' dawned upon them, 

Highlanders. i -r^w • t i 11 

whether the Druidical, as suspected by some, or a 
belief peculiar to themselves, would lead to too extensive an 
enquiry to ascertain. The direct authorit\' upon this subject is 
not great. Tacitus mentions, that when the Caledonian clans 
united for the purpose of opposing Agricola, that they ratified 
their confederacy by solemn sacrifices. The only other writer 
from whom any information can be obtained is Adomnan, from 
whom it appears, that the Picts, whom we have formerly shown 
to have been the ancestors of the Highlanders, were possessed 
of a religious establishment of priests, and that a Pagan religion, 
full of the usual ceremonies and superstitions, existed among 
them. The most authentic record, perhaps, of the nature of that 


religion exists in the numerous stone monuments and circles 
which have remained, and may still be seen in such profusion, 
in spite of the ravages of time, the zeal of early converts to 
Christianity, and the consequences of agricultural improvement; 
and there can be little doubt that a comparison of these 
interesting monuments, in connection with the few historical 
facts on the subject which are known, would afford a curious 
and sufficiently accurate picture of the nature of that ancient 

religion. The conversion of the northern Picts to 
Church. Christianity took place in the sixth century, and was 

effected by the preaching of St. Columba, whose 
memory is still regarded with veneration by the Highlanders as 
the great apostle of their nation. The form of church govern- 
ment established by him in the north of Scotland was of a very 
peculiar nature, and is deserving of some notice, as well from 
that circumstance as from its having given rise to a modern 
controversy of unusual length and bitterness. In the Christian 
church founded bv that great man, and afterwards termed the 
Culdee Church, the zealous Presbyterian sees at that early period 
the model of a pure Presbyterian government, and the great 
principle of clerical equality acknowledged in a remote and 
obscure island, at a period when the rest of the world submitted 
willingly and blindly to Episcopal supremacy. The devout 
believer in the apostolic origin and authority of Episcopacy can 
discover nothing essentially different from the diocesan episco- 
pacy which was at that time universal in Christian churches ; 
and the Roman Catholic sees evidence of the existence of his 
own peculiar doctrines in that church which both the other 
parties are agreed in pronouncing to be the solitary exception 
to the universal prevalence of its dogmas and the earliest witness 
against its corruptions. When a controversy of this nature has 
arisen regarding the constitution of an early Christian church, 
it is manifest that that church must have possessed considerable 
peculiarities of form and character, and that it must in some 
respects have differed from the other churches of the period. 
If in no respect distinct in form or doctrine from the generality 
of Christian societies of that period, it is difficult to conceive 
how any doubt could have arisen as to its polity ; and it is still 
more difficult to suppose that it could have presented an exact 


counterpart to a modern system of church government, con- 
fessed!}' formed upon no ancient model, and the invention of the 
sixteenth century. Each party has unfortunately been more 
anxious to prove its resemblance to their own cherished system 
of church government than to ascertain its actual constitution. 
They have eagerly seized hold of every circumstance which 
appeared to favour their hypothesis, and attempted to neutralise 
and explain away whatever was adverse to their system ; but 
until we find it impossible, from an impartial examination of all 
the scattered notices of the history of the Culdee church which 
have come down to us, to extract a consistent form of church 
government, although that form ma}' have been a peculiar one,, 
we are not entitled to assume, a priori, that the form of the 
Culdee church must have been the same with some known form 
of church government, and in consequence to disregard an}- 
embarrassing notice, however trivial. The obscurity which 
attends this subject has arisen from various causes. We cannot 
expect to find in the older writers much information regarding 
the internal history of the country, because, while they anxiously 
recorded the principal events of its external history, there was 
nothing in its manners and form of societ}' to strike them as 
peculiar or worthy of commemoration. With regard to the 
Christian church established in the country the case is different, 
for when we consider that at that period all Christian churches 
possessed essentially the same form of government, and that a 
form believed to be of apostolic institution, we may well suppose 
that if the Culdee church differed essentially from other churches 
in an}' important particular, that that circumstance would be 
carefully recorded by ever}- ecclesiastical writer ; and if we find 
that ecclesiastical writers do impute peculiarities to that church, 
we ma}- safel}- conclude that, with the exception of the differ- 
ences of form mentioned by these writers, it must in all other 
respects have been similar to other Christian societies throughout 
the world. Modern writers have added much to the difficulty of 
the question by overlooking the fact, that the Culdee church of 
Scotland was the offspring of the church founded in Ireland a 
century before by St. Patrick, and by persisting in viewing the 
Culdee church as it existed in Scotland unconnected with its 
mother church, although it formed an essential part of that 


church for many centuries after its foundation by Columba ; 
but the difficulty has been increased still more by not distin- 
guishing between the different churches which existed at the 
same time in Ireland and in Britain. During the occupation of 
Britain by the Romans, that island was inhabited by two races — 
the Britons and the Picts, and the latter were divided into 
two nations of the southern and northern Picts ; Ireland 
at the same period was also inhabited by two races — the 
Scots, who possessed the south and west, and the Cruithne, or 
Irish Picts, who inhabited the north and east.^ In the fourth 
century the Scots brought the whole island under subjection, 
and after that period, while their name extended over the whole 
of Ireland, we find the two races distinguished by the titles 
of the Southern Scots and Northern Scots. The Britons were 
the first of these different races who became Christian, and after 
them the Scots, both having been apparently converted to 
Christianity before the departure of the Romans from the island. 
After that event we find, in A.D. 431, Palladius sent from Rome 
as Primus Episcopus^ to the " Scotos in Christiun Credentes" 
and in the following year Patrick made his mission to Ireland. 
It would be unnecessary here to refute the absurd idea formerly 
held, that the Scots to whom Palladius was sent were the Scots 
of Britain, as there is no point which has been so clearly estab- 
lished as the fact that his mission was to Ireland ; but historians 
have been much puzzled to reconcile the mission of Palladius 
with that of Patrick. Patrick unquestionably converted his 
Scots from Paganism, and that for the first time ; Palladius, 
it is equally certain, was sent but one year before to Scots 
already Christian. Many attempts have been made to 
account for this, all of which are equally unsatisfactory. But 
when we find, on examining the best authorities, that Saint 
Patrick in fact converted the people of the north of Ireland 
only, that he founded his archiepiscopal seat at Armagh in 
Ulster, and that the jurisdiction of that primate never extended 
beyond that part of the island, the inhabitants of which were 

See infra. copus." It most certainly signified 

* Much confusion has arisen among first bishop, in respect of dignity, or 

our historians by mistaking the mean- primate, not first bishop in order of 

ing of the expression " Primus Epis- time. 

122 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

termed the northern Scots, it will appear very plain that the 
Scoti in Christum Credentes, to whom Palladius was sent as 
primate, were the southern Scots, or Scots proper, and that Saint 
Patrick's mission was directed principally to the Irish Picts, 
or northern Scots, who alone formed his church. In A.D. 414, 
Ninian, a bishop of the British church, converted the southern 
Picts to Christianit}' ; and in 565, Columba, a presbyter of the 
church founded b_\- Saint Patrick, by the conversion of the 
king- of the northern Picts, added that nation to the church, 
which previousl}- consisted of the northern Scots of Ireland 
onl\-. To the same church also belonged the Scots of Britain, 
who came over from the north of Ireland sixty years before- 
the arrival of Saint Columba. Now, it must be remarked that 
the churches of Britain, of the southern Scots founded b}' 
Palladius, and of the southern Picts by Ninian, had all emanated 
from Rome ; and although they did not owe ecclesiastical 
obedience to the aspiring bishops of that cit}-, they unquestion- 
abl\' derived their form of government and worship from her, 
and, accordingl}', when again brought in contact with their 
mother church, in the person of Augustine, they were not found 
to differ in an}- essential particular. The church of the northern 
Picts and northern Scots, to which the name of Culdee was 
afterwards given, and which owed its origin to St. Patrick, 
was in a very different situation, for it as unquestionably 
emanated from the church of Gaul, a church ahvays opposed 
to that of Rome, and claiming a descent from the church of 
Ephesus, and its founder, St. John the Evangelist ; and it was 
under the teaching of St. Martin of Tours that St. Patrick 
framed the system of church government which he afterwards^ 
introduced. The principal writer from whom any information 
regarding the Culdee church is to be derived is the Venerable 
Bede, and we accordingl)' find that writer imputing to the Culdee 
church certain peculiarities in its outward form and government 
which he implies not to have existed in other churches. 

The passage in Bede upon which both parties found their 
principal argument with regard to the form of government 
in the Culdee church, is the following : — " Habere autem solet 
ipsa insula rectorem semper Abbatem Presbyterum cujus juri et 
omnis provincia et ipso etiam episcopi, ordine inusitato debeant 



esse subject! justa exemplum primi doctoris illius, qui non 
episcopus sed presbyter extitit et monachus." From this passage 
the Presbyterian argues that if a presbyter possessed the 
supreme government of the church, it must have been essentially 
a Presbyterian church, and overcomes the objection derived 
from the mention of bishops by asserting that the word had a 
different signification in the Culdee church from that in other 
churches, and did not imply a distinct or superior order of 
clergy. The Episcopalian justly argues that Bede must have 
used the word episcopus in its ordinary sense, and consequently 
that the church must have been an Episcopalian one ; but he 
attempts to explain the anomalous circumstance of these bishops 
being subject to a presbyter b}- asserting that the monastery of 
lona possessed a bishop as well as an abbot, and that the 
episcopi who were subject to the presbyter abbot were merel\' 
those bishops of lona over whom the abbot had some jurisdic- 
tion in temporal matters. But it is manifest that neither of 
these explanations are satisfactory, and that an impartial con- 
sideration of this passage would bring us to a very different 
conclusion from either. By the use of the words "ordine 
inusitato," it is plain that the only anomalous circumstance 
connected with lona was the subjection of the bishops to its 
presbyter abbot. By confining the expression to this circum- 
stance, he clearly implies that the church possessed an order of 
bishops exactl}- in the same manner as other churches ; nor, if 
the episcopi were not a separate and superior order, but merely 
implied certain missionaries, as the Presbyterians allege, do we 
see any room for the remark that their subjection to the abbot 
was an unusual institution. 

On the other hand, if the Episcopalians are right in asserting 
that there was nothing unusual or anomalous in the constitution 
of the Culdee church with the exception that the Abbot of lona 
exercised jurisdiction over the Bishop of lona in some temporal 
matters, independently of the fact that we cannot trace either 
in the Irish Annals, which contain many particulars regarding 
lona, or in other historians, the smallest trace of any Bishop of 
lona different from the Abbot of lona, it is difficult to suppose 
that Bede would have intimated the existence of an unusual 
form of government in the strong and precise terms which he 


uses. But that the Culdee church was essentially an episcopal 
church, and possessed an order of bishops distinct from and 
superior to that of the presbyter, is ver}' clear, both from an 
impartial consideration of the language of Bede throughout, and 
from other writers. 

In mentioning the mission of Aidan and of Finan to the 
Northumbrians, Bede adds in both cases that they were sent 
" accepto gradu Episcopatus," and what Bede implied by the 
" gradus Episcopatus " abundantly appears from the case of 
Cedd, who was ordained Bishop of Finan. The words of Bede 
are " qui (Finan) ubi prosperatum ei opus evangelii comperit, 
fecit eum (Cedd) episcopum in gentem orientalium Saxonum, 
vocatus ad se in viinisteriuni ordinationis aliis duolnis episcopis : 
qui accepto gradu episcopatus rediit ad provinciam et majore 
auctoritate coeptum opus explens, fecit per loca ecclesias, pres- 
byteros et diaconos ordinavit" &c. 

In another part of his work he mentions that Pope John 
wrote a letter to the heads of the Scottish or Culdee church, 
which letter bore this superscription, " Dilectissimis et sanctis- 
simis Thomiano Columbano, Chromano, Dimae et Bartano epis- 
copis, Chromano, Hermannoque Laistrano, Stellano et Segeno 
presbyteris, Sarano ceterisque doctoribus seu abbatibus Scotis";i 
which implies both the existence and the superiority of the epis- 
copal order in the church. Adomnan is equally distinct that the 
bishops were a superior order to the presbyters. He narrates 
that Columba upon one occasion sent for a priest at the con- 
secration of the eucharist, and that suddenly casting a look at 
him, he desired him to use the privilege of his order, and break 
the bread according to the episcopal mode.^ The unavoidable 
inference from these passages is unquestionably that the Culdee 
church was no exception to the universal prevalence of epis- 
copacy in Christian churches at that period, and to this inference 
the Presbyterian party oppose merely the passage of Bede 
formerly quoted ; but allowing to that passage its fullest force, 
to which the other passages are equally entitled, the fact there 
stated is not only, as we shall afterwards see, compatible with 

* Bede, lib. ii., c. 19. sis episcopus."— Adorn. Vit. S. Columb., 

* " Hunc solxis episcopus episcopali lib. i., c. 16. 
ritu f range panem— nunc scimus quod 


the existence of episcopacy in that church, but the direct infer- 
ence from the passage unquestionably is that the Culdee church 
possessed an order of bishops superior to that of the presbyters. 

The Culdee church being, then, essentially an episcopal 
church, let us now examine its peculiarities, and in what respects 
it differed from the form of church government universally 
prevalent at that period ; and in doing so it \vdll be necessary 
to bear in mind that the Culdee church included the province of 
the northern Scots in Ireland, as well as the northern Picts in 
Scotland, and that it was the work of St.- Patrick in the iifth 
century, not that of Columba in the sixth (as generally sup- 
posed), who merely added the nation of the northern Picts to 
its jurisdiction. 

In the }-ear 380, about fifty-two years before the Culdee 
church was established by Saint Patrick, the monastic system 
was for the first time introduced into Europe by Saint Martin 
of Tours ; and previous to the rise of this extraordinary and 
powerful institution, the Catholic clergy consisted merely of the 
three orders of bishops, presbyters, and deacons. 

The bishops were, generally speaking, seated in the principal 
towns, and exercised an ecclesiastical jurisdiction over a certain 
extent of the surrounding country which formed his diocese, 
while the spiritual wants of its inhabitants were supplied by the 
subordinate orders of presbyters and deacons. Such was the 
state of the clergy when the Culdee church took its origin, but a 
new institution had arisen in the East, which was destined after- 
wards almost to supplant the clergy, and to wield the whole 
power of the Establishment. Although they subsequently 
attained this extraordinary elevation, yet at the time of which 
we speak the monasteries had barely risen to a station which 
placed them on a par with the clergy. Originally the monas- 
teries were societies exclusively composed of laymen, who 
adopted this mode of retiring from the active duties of the 
world, and devoting themselves to a life of contemplation and 
devotion. Their spiritual wants were supplied by the bishop 
and presbyters of the diocese in which the monastery was 
situated, and to whose jurisdiction they were subject in ecclesi- 
astical matters. Subsequently they found it expedient to 
procure a presbyter for the head of their monastery, and after 

126 T II E H I G H LANDERS [part I 

this period the abbots of the monasteries were universally pres- 
b\ters, while the monks remained laymen as before. They thus 
in some degree dispensed with the services of the neighbouring 
clergy, and while the bishop was obliged to render assistance to 
the monastery in matters A\hich belonged exclusively to his 
order to perform, the abbot was relieved entirely from his juris- 
diction. Such was the condition of these societies when Saint 
Martin established the first European monastery at Tours. 
The monks still consisted of laymen, and the abbot was an 
ordained presbyter. The dangerous consequences likely to 
result from such an institution, if elevated bevond its original 
position, were not seen, and its advantages and merits were 
over-estimated to such a degree as to facilitate their rapid 
advance to power. To the progress which the}' had already 
made, Martin added the step of providing a bishop for the 
e.vclusive use of the monastery, who was elected by the abbot 
and monks, and ordained by the adjacent bishops to the end 
that he might preach and do episcopal offices in the monastery ; 
and this bishop was obliged to reside within its walls, and submit 
to its monastic rule. In this state Saint Patrick arrived at 
Tours, and there can be little doubt that it was under the 
teaching of Saint Martin, who was his uncle, that he framed the 
.system of church polity which he afterwards introduced into 
Ireland. In that .system we should consequently expect to find 
the same weight and preference given to the monastic institutions 
over the clerical which Saint Martin had already manifested, 
and that the same effect should follow from that preference, of 
an additional step in their progress being attained b}' the 
monastic orders at the expense of the secular clergy. 

Now, in examining the Culdee monasteries, the first peculi- 
arity which strikes us is, that the monks were no longer laymen, 
but ordained clergy men, ^ and in this that church is certainly 
an exception to all other churches. But we find a still more 
remarkable peculiarity in their system, for we see many of the 
abbots of their monasteries possessing the same character, 
e.xercising the same functions, and in every respect occupying 

' This fact is acknowledged by all from it, and the peculiarity of such a 
who have written upon the subject, circumstance, does not appear to have 
although the inference to be drawn been perceived. 

CHAP, viii] 



the same position with the bishops of the other churches ; and 
we find the monasteries over which these abbots presided pos- 
sessing a jurisdiction over a certain extent of territor)- in the 
neighbourhood, in the same way as the bishops did in other 
churches. Now, when we add to this fact that although, as we 
have seen, the episcopal order existed in this church, we find it 
impossible to trace the existence of any individual bishop dis- 
tinct from the abbot of the monastery, the presumption naturally 
arises in the mind that the great peculiarity of the Culdee church 
was the union of the clerical and monastic orders into one col- 
legiate system, where the abbot and the bishop was the same 
person, and the inferior orders of presbyters and deacons formed 
the monks who were under his control ; and accordingly, on an 
attentive examination of the older historians, we find that this 
was actually the case. We can distinctly trace a division of the 
Culdee abbots into two orders, of " abbates et episcopi " and of 
" abbates et presbyteri ; " thus, in the letter addressed by Pope 
John to the Culdees, the superscription implies that the five 
bishops as well as the five presbyters were abbots, and w^e 
accordingly find in the Irish Annals several of these bishops 
and presbyters mentioned as abbots. Besides this, the bishop- 
abbots are frequently alluded to in these Annals.^ This distinc- 
tion appears to have been drawn between monasteries which 

' In Tighernac the following of those 
to whom the letter is addressed are 
meniioned : — 


A.D. 661. Deith of Tomene, Abbot- 
bishop of Armagh. 

654. Death of Colman, Bishop of 

tlie OTelly's and Abbot of 

643. Death ot Cronan, Bishop of 


659. Death of Dima, Bishop of 



650. Deatli of Cronan, Abbot of 

Mtiighe Bile. 

6-16. Death of Laisre, Abbot of 


A.D. 652. Death of Segine, Abbot of 

662. Death of Saraii, Abbot of 

the O'Cridans. 
One of the Bishops and two of the 

presbyters are not mentioned in these 

Annals, and were therefore probably 

in Scotland. 

Of bishop-abbots, besides the two 

above mentioned, I find in Tighernac 

the following : — 

A.D. 663. Tuenoc, the son of Findlain, 
Abbot of Ferna, and Dim- 
na, i%co bishops, died. 

687. Death of Osen, i?isAoyO of the 

Monaster!/ of Finntan. 
715. Celine, Bishop-abbot of Fer- 
na, died. 

718. Death of Dubduin, Bishop- 

abbot of Cluanirard. 


had been founded by the primate, and the abbots of which were 
ordained bishops, and the monasteries which had emanated from 
those ruled b\- a bishop-abbot, which, being intended to remain 
subordinate to the monastery from which they proceeded, and 
not to form a separate jurisdiction, were governed by presbyter- 
abbots, and resembled in many respects the chorepiscopi of the 
ancient church, and the archdeaconries of the present established 
church of England. 

The character of the CuMee church, then, may be considered 
to have been in its polity a collegiate system, as carried to its 
fullest extent. In its mode of operation it may be viewed as a 
missionary church, and this was a system which was evidently 
peculiarly adapted to the state and character of the people 
among whom the church was established. 

Both the nation of the northern Scots of Ireland and that of 
the northern Picts of Scotland consisted at that time of a union 
of several tribes, when the power of the king was circumscribed 
and his influence small ; while the turbulent chiefs, almost inde- 
pendent, and generally at war with each other, rendered the 
royal protection unavailable for the security of any church con- 
stituted as most Christian churches at that time were. The 
Culdee polity preserved the principle of clerical subordination 
and centralisation, then and justly considered indispensable for 
the efficiency of a Christian church, while it avoided the dangers 
arising from the peculiar form of society of their converts by the 
peculiar form of government which their church assumed. 
Enclosed in a monastery with their ecclesiastical superior, the 
clergy were safe from aggression, and issuing forth as mission- 
aries from its walls in time of peace, they carried the blessings 
of Christianity to the savage members of the tribe in which they 
had been cast. 

Of the history of the Culdee church little is known, and the 
annalists merely afford a few of the leading changes which took 
place in its external form. At first it consisted of the province 
of the northern Scots in Ireland alone, and the primacy over the 
whole church was vested in the monastery of Armagh, the 
bishop of which was styled Primus Episcopus. The province 
was inhabited by numerous tribes, in each of which a monastery 
was gradually founded, governed by a bishop-abbot, whose 


jurisdiction extended over the territorities of the tribe ^ in which 
his monastery was placed; and where the spiritual necessities' 
of his diocese required an additional establishment of clergy, a 
subordinate monastery was founded, over which a presbyter only 
was placed. In 565, Columba, the presbyter-abbot of the monas- 
tery of Dearmagh, which had emanated from that of Cluanirard, 
over which Finan ruled as bishop-abbot, converted Brude, 
king of the northern Picts, and added that nation to the Culdee. 
church. The monastery of lona, of course, remained of that 
subordinate species ruled by a presbyter-abbot, and accordingly 
it appears that the additional monasteries required by the 
exigencies of the infant church in the Highlands were still for 
many years afterwards supplied from the episcopal monasteries 
of Ireland. In the middle of the seventh century the primacy 
was removed, for what cause we know not, from Armagh to 
Scotland. 2 The great veneration and sanctity which attached 
to the character of Saint Columba, as first apostle of the Picts, 
had invested the monastery of lona, which he had founded, 
with a superiority over the other Pictish monasteries, and 
consequently the primacy became the undoubted right of that 
monastery ; but the almost idolatrous veneration entertained 
for Saint Columba, produced the anomalous and extraordinary 
departure from the principle of episcopacy of the abbot of lona 
assuming the primacy of the Culdee church and retaining his 
character of presbyter. That such was the fact it is impossible 
to avoid admitting, if full force be given to the passage of Bede, 
frequently alluded to ; but that this is incompatible with the 
existence and privileges of the episcopal order there is no reason 
for thinking ; nor if this explanation, resulting from an impartial 
examination of the history of the church and the language of 
the old writers, be admitted, is it possible to produce a single 
passage which would infer that the Culdee church was not 

' In Tighernac the bishop-abbots of See two instances in the former 

the different monasteries are fre- note. 

quentlv styled bishop of the tribe in „ A . . • /t x • 

, ■ , \, ^ -^ ^ ■, - Cuius monastenum (lona) in cunc- 

which the monastery was situated, .. ^ ^ ■ ^^ a ,.,. 

, ■' tis pene septentrionalium Scottorum 

et omnibus Pictorum monasteriis non 

A.D. 579. Death of Mani, Bishop of parvo tempore arcem tenebat.— Bede, 

the O'Fiatachs. lib. iii., cap. 3. 


130 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

essentially, and in the strictest meaning of the term, an episcopal 

On the transference of the primacy from Armagh to lona, 
many of the other monasteries of the Picts became episcopal, 
and were placed under the government of the bishop-abbot. In 
this state the church continued with little variation till the 
conquest of the southern Picts by the Scots of Dalriada. The 
church which previously existed among the southern Picts was 
one of those which had emanated, though not immediately, 
from Rome, and it .differed in no essential particular from other 
churches. On the conquest of that race by the Scots, the 
Culdee church and .system of polit}- was introduced by the 
conquerors, and in consequence of this great accession of terri- 
tory to the Culdee church, and of the ruin of the Irish part of 
their Establishment by the Danes, the primacy was once more 
removed from lona to Dunkeld, a church belonging to the 
northern Picts ; and this monastery being an episcopal one, the 
anomalous form of government which had resulted from the 
primacy of lona ceased for ever. ^ With Dunkeld the primacy 
continued for forty years only, for the Culdee churches estab- 
lished by Kenneth in the conquered territory of the southern 
Picts, and which were peculiarl}^ Scottish, appear to have 
become jealous of their subjection to the Pictish bishop of Dun- 
keld, arid to have taken advantage of the usurpation of the 
throne by Grig, a chief of the northern Picts, to procure from 
him, probably as the price of their subm.ission, the removal of 
the primacy from Dunkeld to Saint Andrews. ^ After this 
period there appears to have been no alteration in the outward 
form of the church until the reign of David. 

^ It is universally admitted that ' The Chronicon Elegiacum says of 
Dunkeld was founded after the con- Grig, " Qui dedit Ecclesiae libertates 
quest, by Kenneth M'Alpine. That Scoticante quse sub Pictorum lege 
the primacy was likewise removed to redacta fuit " ; and as it is in this 
it appears from the two following reign that the Bishop of St. Andrews 
passages in the Annals of Ulster : — is first termed "Primus Episcopus," 
A.D. 864. TuathalMacArtguso,Prmz<.s it is plain that the above passage 
Episcopus of Fortran and refers to a removal of the primacy 
Abbot of Dunkeld, died. to the Scottish church of St. An- 
872. Flaibhertach Mac Murcer- drews 

taieh, Princeps of Dun- 
keld, died. 


There are few facts in the early history of the Christian 
church more striking than the remarkable ease and pliability 
with which the church adapted itself in its outward form to the 
political constitution of the countries in which it was established. 
When Christianity was established by the Emperor Constantine 
as the religion of Europe, we see the extreme facility with 
which the church assumed a polity formed after the model of 
the Roman. On the fall of the empire by the invasions of the 
northern barbarians, the Christian church alone maintained its 
position, and again adapted itself to the forms of society which 
arose among these nations when settled in its territories. 

In the Culdee church this quality of the early Christian 
societies is no less apparent. When confined to the north of 
Ireland, which was inhabited by a number of independent tribes, 
scarcely owing subjection to a common head, we find the diocese 
of the episcopal monasteries corresponding to the extent and 
numbers of these tribes ; and when the same system was intro- 
duced into Scotland, we should naturally expect to find the 
same accurate adaptation of the church to its territorial divisions. 
The districts occupied by the early tribes of Scotland are in 
every respect the same with those territorial divisions which 
were afterwards known as earldoms, and accordingly there is 
nothincf more remarkable than the exact accordance between 
these earldoms and the position of the episcopal monasteries, so 
far as they can be traced. This will appear from the following 
table : — 

Culdee Monasteries. Earldoms or Tribes. 

St. Andrews Fife. 

Dunblane Stratherne ; Menteith, not an old 


Scone Gowrie. 

Brechin Angus ; Mearns, formerly part of 


Monymusk Mar. 

Mortlach Kuchan. 

Birney (Moray) Moray. 

Rosemarkie Ross. 

Dornoch Caithness. 

lona Garmoran. 

Dunkeld Atholl ; Argyll, part of .Atholl. 


The exact coincidence of these dioceses with the most 
ancient territorial divisions, forms an important and sure guide 
in ascertaining the extent and history of the latter. 

David I. is generally supposed to have altogether overthrown 
the Culdee church, and to have introduced the Roman Catholic 
clerg}' in their place ; but this is a most erroneous view of the 
nature and extent of the alteration effected by him. To give 
a complete view of the change which took place in his reign 
would lead to too great length here ; it may be sufficient to 
mention that it appears, from all the authentic information on 
the subject that remains to us, that the alteration produced by 
him affected the church in three particulars only. First, by the 
establishment of parochial clergy, and consequently superseding 
the missionary system which had hitherto supplied the spiritual 
wants of the people. Secondly, by the introduction of the 
monastic orders of the Roman Catholic church into the country; 
and, thirdly, by appointing a bishop over the parochial clergy, 
and declaring the territory over which the Culdee monastery 
had exercised their jurisdiction to be his diocese, in the Roman 
Catholic sense of the word. The extent and number of the 
dioceses remained unaltered, being just those which had pre- 
viously existed among the Culdees. The bishop was almost 
invariably the Culdee abbot, who was taken out of his monas- 
tery ; his place was supplied by an officer termed a prior, and 
wherever the privilege was not expressly taken from them, the 
prior and Culdee college constituted the dean and chapter of 
the diocese, and elected the same person as bishop whom they 
would formerly have elected to precisely the same office under 
the title of abbot. 

Such is a short sketch of the peculiar form which the Chris- 
tian church, established among the Picts or Highlanders of 
Scotland, assumed on their conversion from Paganism b\' the 
exertions of St. Columba, the great apostle of their 
of'th"High-'' nation. But, while the influence of Christianity, and 
the zeal with which it was propagated, soon dispelled 
the public and general worship of false gods, and substituted 
the true religion as a professed belief in place of their former 
idolatry ; yet, as might be expected from a character so enthusi- 
astic as that of the Highlanders, a great part of the spirit of that 


idolatry remained under the appearance of Christianity, and 
exhibited itself in the wild and fanciful superstitions of the 
Highlanders and the superstitious practices which they still 
observed on their holidays. 

To enter into this subject at all would lead to an investiga- 
tion of a length altogether incompatible wnth the limits of this 
work, and it is with regret that we leave a subject which affords 
such a curious and interesting picture of the Highland mind. It 
may perhaps be sufficient to remark, with a view to direct the 
enquiries of others, that the superstitions of the Highlanders 
consisted principally of three kinds : first, a belief in a species 
of supernatural beings, termed by them Daoine-shith, or fairies ; 
secondly, a belief in the influence of departed spirits over the 
affairs of this life ; and thirdly, in second-sight, a subject of 
considerable difficulty, and one altogether peculiar to the High- 
landers. Besides their superstitious belief, the spirit of their 
ancient idolatry was retained in many of their festivals, the 
principal of which was the Beltam, or first day of May, and 
SamJiuui, or Allhallow eve ; in the practices observed by them 
on these days may still be traced the rites of their ancient 
religion. Although their idolatrous worship had been superseded 
by Christianity, yet, as long as the feuds and their constant 
habits of predatory warfare remained among them, they do not 
appear to have imbibed much of its spirit. A French writer of 
the earl}- part of last century remarks, " lis se disent Chretiens, 
mais toute leur religion est fort tenebreuse, et ils ne craignent 
gueres ni Dieu ni Diable." The case is now very different, for 
since peace has been restored to the hills they have advanced 
with wonderful rapidity, and they may now with truth be called 
the most moral and religious part of the population of Scotland. 
Among savage nations poetry is always the first, 
vehicle of history ; before any regular means are 
taken for perpetuating a knowledge of the early history of 
their tribes, they are usually in the habit of reciting in verse 
the deeds of their forefathers, and their early traditions are 
thus handed down from the most remote antiquity. This 
custom, although common to all nations in a primitive stage 
of society, was peculiarly so to the Highlanders. The natural 
disposition of a hunting and pastoral people for poetry and 

134 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

hyperbole, was increased in them b}' the pecuh'ar and imagi- 
native nature of their character, by their secluded situation, 
and the romantic aspect of their country ; and thus poetry 
was from the earliest period almost the only medium b}' 
which a knowledge of the great events of their early history, 
the achievements of their forefathers, and the illustrious 
examples presented for their emulation was conveyed to the 
Highlanders, and the warlike and somewhat chivalrous char- 
acter of the nation preserved. 

Of this species of historical poetry, a very ancient and 
remarkable specimen has been preserved to us in the Albanic 
Duan, a poem, written in the eleventh century, and containing 
the earliest traditions of the origin of the nation before the 
fables of the Scottish monks had full sway in the country ; 
but, by a fate altogether singular in the case of the High- 
landers, a complete body of these ancient versified histories 
have been handed down in the poems of Ossian. It is not 
m\- intention here to enter into the much disputed 


system of question of the authenticity of these poems, taken 
as a whole ; public opinion has long been made up 
as to their literary merit, and no proof of their authenticit}' 
which could be adduced could make any alteration in that 
opinion. When considered as a poet, it only remains for the 
individual admirers of Ossian to examine the claims of his 
works to be considered as the productions of a remote age ; 
but when looked upon as an historian, it becomes a matter 
of great and general importance that the question of their 
authenticity should be set at rest. It is now universally 
admitted that the ground-work of these poems is ancient, 
while it is generally held thar upon that foundation a modern 
superstructure has been raised ; with that question we have 
here nothing to do, but the point to be determined is, whether 
the historical system contained in the poems of Ossian is a 
part of that ancient ground-work, and an actual record of the 
events of remote ages, handed down through a long course of 
centuries, or whether it is the invention of a modern and 
ignorant antiquary. It has long been adduced, as a great 
objection to the authenticity of these poems, that the system 
of history contained in them is untrue, and that it is diamet- 


ricall}- opposed to the real history. The historical facts 
contained in Ossian relate principally to Ireland, and the 
difference between the Ossianic system and that generall}- 
believed may be stated in a very few words. The system 
maintained by the Irish writers is, that Ireland was inhabited 
by one race of people termed Scots, who are said to have 
come from Spain : that they divided Ireland into four pro- 
vinces, Ulster, Leinster, Afunster, and Connaught, each of 
which was governed by a petty king of the Scottish race : 
over these kings was placed a monarch, who reigned at Fara, 
in Meath, and these monarchs were all of the same Scottish 
line, and can be traced from father to son. The Ossianic 
system is very different from this. According to Ossian, 
Ireland was inhabited by two races of people : the south of 
Ireland was possessed by a people termed by him Firbolg ; 
the north by Gael, who came originally from Scotland. These 
two peoples, according to Ossian, were constantly at war with 
each other ; and in the second century the Firbolgs, by a 
series of victories having obtained possession of the greater 
part of Ireland, Conar, the brother of the King in Scotland, 
came over to the assistance of the Gael, and driving the 
Firbolgs out of the northern part of Ireland, founded a race 
of kings, who ruled in Temora or Tara, in Meath. The kings 
of the race of Conar remained on the throne till the middle 
of the third century, when the Firbolgs, under the command 
of Cairpre, again obtained the upper hand. 

These systems of history are, it will be observed, diamet- 
rically opposed to each other, but if it should appear that the 
system of Irish history, now believed, is not older than the 
fourteenth century, and that the history contained in the Irish 
Annals before that time is identic with that of Ossian ; and 
if it should also appear that these older annals were unpub- 
lished, and inaccessible at the time Ossian was published, and 
even for centuries before that time, and that the very existence 
of a different system being contained in these older annals 
was unknown, it is plain, not only that this objection must 
fall to the ground, but that it must follow, as an incontestable 
proposition, that these poems were not the work of Macpherson, 
but must have been older, at least, than the fourteenth centur}'. 

136 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

The proof of these facts will be taken from the Annals of 
Tighernac and Innisfallen, the oldest and most authentic annals 
which the Irish possess. The former is a work of the eleventh 
century ; the latter was written in the beginning of the thir- 
teenth. The book remained inaccessible to all but those who 
could read the ancient Irish language and character, and were 
for the first time printed, along with a Latin translation, in 
the year 1825. Before entering upon the subject of inquiry, 
it will be necessary to make one remark, in order that the 
argument may be distinctly understood, which is, that in all 
the Irish annals the name given to the earliest inhabitants of 
Scotland is Cruithne, and this appellation is always applied 
b}- them to the inhabitants of Scotland, in contradistinction 
to the Scots, or inhabitants of Ireland. 

In the first place, therefore, it can be proved from Tighernac 
that the Ultonians, or inhabitants of the north of Ireland, 
were Cruithne, and therefore must have come from Scotland. 
The kings of Ulster were also called kings of Eamania ; thus, 
Tighernac says, Elim, son of Conrach, reigned in Eamania 
ten years, and afterwards Fiachia was killed by Elim, son of 
Conrach, that is, by the king of Ulster. Again, he says, 
Angus F"in, king of Eamania, reigns, and afterwards he says 
a battle was fought by Cormac against the Lltonians, in 
which Angus Fin, with his Lltonians were routed ; and that 
the kings, both of Ulster and Eamania, were called kings of 
the Cruithne, appears from the following passages. In 236, 
he says, Fiacha Araide reigns in Eamania ten years, and 
afterwards he reports a battle between Cormac and the king 
of Munster against Fiacha Araidhe and the Cruithne. Again, 
he .says, in the year 565, Diarmait is killed by Black Hugh, 
king of Ulster ; and Adomnan, alluding to the same transaction, 
says that Diormit was killed by " Aidus nigrus Cruithnicum 
gente," by nation a Cruithne. 

It appears, therefore, from Tighernac, that the north of 
Ireland was inhabited by a people of the same race with the 
inhabitants of Scotland. Secondly, it can be proved from 
Tighernac and the Annals of Innisfallen, that a people called 
Bolgas inhabited the and south of Ireland. Thus 
Tighernac says, that Fiacha, King of Ireland, was killed in 


Temora, or as others relate, in the Plains of Bolgas ; and the 
Annals of Innisfallen mention Hugh, king of Connaught, and 
at the same time say that he was of the race of Bolgas. The 
same annals mention, in 332, a battle in Fermoy by three 
Collas, along with the seven tribes of the Bolgas, who are 
called Oilnegmacht, from inhabiting Connaught. 

We thus see that the Ossianic system of history is sup- 
ported by these old annalists in the few facts recorded, and 
that in direct opposition to the later and generally believed 

We now come to the particular details of the history which 
extend during the second and third centuries, and in the 
following table the two systems are confronted with each other, 
with a view to the distinct understanding of the argument, as 
follows : — 

Irish System. Ossianic System. 

07ie people in Ireland called Two races i?i Ireland. In the 
Scots. North., the Gael; South, the 


Conn, King of Temora . . . Conar, a Gael from Alban. 

I I 

Art Art. 

I- I 

Cormac Cormac, killed by 

Cairpre Cairpre, King of the Bolga. 

It will be seen that in the Irish, or generally believed 
system, four kings are made to succeed each other, from 
father to son, during that period ; while in the Ossianic 
system, Conar, a Scottish chief, comes over to Ireland and 
founds a fainily of kings of his own line, and his grandson, 
Cormac, is killed by Cairpre, of the race of the Bolgas, who 
in consequence mounted the throne. 

In corroboration of this, I remark, first, that Conn is said 
by Tighernac to have conquered the northern half of Ireland 
from the Momonians, or inhabitants of Munster, and that he 
is called by him of the race of the Cruithne. Thus, he remarks, 
counting all the kings after Conn was on the throne, seven 
kings of the race of the Cruithne reigned over Ireland, of course 

138 T H E H I G H L A N D E R S [part I 

including Conn in that race. Secondly, all agree that Conn 
was succeeded by his son Art or Arthur, and Art by his son 
Cormac. Thirdly, Cairpre is not made by Tighernac the son 
of Cormac, but his father is not given at all. And the Annals 
of Innisfallen shew that he was of the race of the Bol^as, for 
Tighernac says in 322 that Fiach, King of Ireland, was killed 
b}- the three Collas, sons of Eacho, who was son of Cairpre ; 
and the Annals of Innisfallen say that the battle was fought 
by the Collas along with the seven tribes of Bolgas, thus 
showing that Cairpre, their grandfather, must also have been 
of that race. 

We thus see that Ossian is supported throughout by the 
old Irish annals, and that even when he is in direct opposition 
to the system of Irish history at present received. Now when 
we consider that the history contained in these old annals was 
iinknozi'u, and the annals themselves unpublished when the 
poems of Ossian were first given to the world, we must come 
to the conclusion that the poems are necessarily as old at least 
as the fourteenth century, and that in them we have handed 
down to us a complete body of the most ancient historical 
poems by which a knowledge of the early history of the country 
was preserved to posterit}'. ^ It ma}', however, be proper to 
notice here shortly some of the other objections which have 
been made to Ossian as a historian. 

One objection is, that the Lochlannach, or Norwegians, are 
mentioned in these poems, but that the Norwegians did not 
appear on the coasts of Britain till the ninth century. In 
answer to this I have onl}' to remark, that the word Loch- 
lannach applies equally to all the tribes inhabiting Scandinavia 
and the North of German}', and to mention the well-known 
piracies of the Saxons, who infested the shores of Britain from 
the second centurx' to the fourth, when thev were defeated and 

'An argument of the same nature of that religion was unknown to 

has been used with great success by modern scholars when Macpherson 

the well-known Danish antiquarj-, published his Ossian, and coulii not 

Finn Magnussen. He proves that the have been known to him. Finn 

Odenism, or religion of the Lochlans, Magnussen is unquestionably the best 

8S contained in Ossian, is a correct authority on the subject of the religion, 

picture of the ancient religion of the of the Eddas. 
Scandinavians, and that the real nature 


driven out of the Orkneys by Theodosius. Another objection 
is, that Ossian places the Plain of Moylena in Ulster, while 
in fact it is in IVIeath.i To answer this, I must refer again 
to the Irish annals, and to the best Irish antiquaries, from 
whom it appears that there existed an extensive and well- 
known plain in Ulster under that name. O'Flaherty mentions, 
p. 193 — " Tuathal built Rathmor, or the Great Palace, in the 
Plains of ]\Ioylena, in Ulster." O'Connor also, the best and 
most learned of the Irish antiquaries, under the word " Rathmor 
Moylena," says — "Arx magna canipi Lena amplissima et anti- 
quissima UltonicE post Eamnaniam etsi ab aliis constructa 
babeatur regnante Tuathalie," a.d. 130. 

The place is mentioned three times in Tighernac, under 
the }'ears 161, 565, and 682. It will be unnecessary to enter 
into a detailed examination of these passages, and it will be 
sufficient to mention that they show very clearly that the Plain 
of Moylena was in Ulster. A third objection is, that Ossian 
places Temora, the well-known palace of the kings of Ireland, 
in Ulster, while its situation is known to have been in Meath; 
but in this objection very great injustice is done to Ossian, for 
it is assumed that the Tura of Ossian, which he undoubtedly 
places in Ulster, was the same with Temora, but in Ossian the 
most marked distinction is made between Tura and Teamharr, 
or Temora ; the former appears in Ossian to have been a seat 
of the Cruithne in Ulster, and was probably the same place 
with the Rathmore Moylena of the Irish annalists, while he 
places the latter considerably to the south, without marking 
out. its exact situation, and implies that it was the seat 
of the Irish kings. From these few remarks it will appear, 
the value of Ossian as an historical poet must stand in the 
highest rank, while, whether the chief part of these poems 
are of ancient or modern composition, there can remain little 
doubt that in him we possess the oldest record of the history 
of a very remote age. 

' This is a most dishonest objection, Ireland ; a -work that would have been 

for every Irish antiquary knows that more valuable if he had not adopted 

there was a plain of Moylena in Ulster. the absurd and untenable system of 

I regret much to see it repeated by Sir William Betham. 
Mr. Moore, in his excellent History of 


Where a national disposition towards poetry and recitation 
is exhibited by a primitive people, the sister art of 
music is seldom found to be wanting, and accordingly 
the Highlanders have at all times possessed a peculiarly strong 
inclination for melody. The style of the Highland airs is 
singular, being chiefly remarkable for its great simplicity, 
wildness, and pathos or expression. The scale used is different 
from the ordinary or diatonic scale, and is defective, wanting 
the fourth and the seventh ; but this very defect gives rise to 
the pleasing simplicity and plaintiveness of the Highland 
melody, and imparts to their music a character peculiarly 
adapted to the nature of their poetry. 

The most ancient instrument in use among them appears 
to have been the harp ; and although it has been for many 
generations unknown, there is little doubt that it was at one 
time in very general use throughout the Highlands. The 
author of "certain curious matters touching Scotland in 1797 " 
says, " they delight much in musicke, but chiefly in harps and 
clarischoes of their own fashion. The strings of the clarischoes 
are of brass wire, and the strings of the harps of sinews, which 
strings they strike either with their nayles growing long, or 
else with an instrument appointed for that use. They take 
great pleasure to decke their harps and clarischoes with silver 
and precious stones ; and poor ones that cannot attayne here- 
unto, decke them with chrystall." 

Innumerable other passages might be quoted to prove the 
very general use of the harp in the Highlands, while the records 
attest the existence of a numerous race of harpers attached to 
the different chiefs. Thus, in the lord high treasurer's accompts 
we find the following entries : — 

"May loth, 1503. Item to Makberty, the clairsha, to pass 
to the Isles, iijk x^. 

"Sept. 3d, 1506. Item to Maklain's clairsha, ix^. 

" 4, . To Earl of Argyle's clairsha, xiiij^., and 

to Duncan Campbell's bard, v^." 

And in a roll of Macnaughtan's soldiers, shipped at Lochkerran, 
" nth December, 1627," which has been preserved among the 
Morton papers, appears " Harie M'Gra, harper fra Larg." An 


interesting specimen of the Highland harp of this period has 
been preserved in the family of Lude. But besides the fact 
of the harp having been in general use at this period, there 
is complete evidence that it has been used in this country from 
the most remote period. The country lying to the north of 
the Firths of Forth and Clyde, including the greater part of 
the Highlands, abounds in large pillars of stone, carved with 
ancient sculptures, both intaglio and in relief These sculptured 
pillars are evidently of very great antiquity, many of them even 
antecedent to the introduction of Christianity, and they form a 
most valuable and interesting record of the ancient manners 
and customs of the country. Upon two of these erect stones 
are found representations of the harp, exactly resembling the 
Highland harp in their design and appearance. On the first 
of these stones, the date of which is fixed from various cir- 
cumstances to be of the ninth centur\', there is an armed figure 
seated and playing on the harp. The other is of still greater 
antiquity, and on it there appears a harp of an exactly similar 
construction. The use of the harp appears to have rapidly 
declined in the Highlands during the seventeenth century, in 
consequence of the civil wars which commenced at that period^ 
and at length it was entirely superseded by the more martial 
instrument, the bagpipe, the origin of which is altogether 
unknown, although, from the character of the music, there is 
greater probabiIit\- in supposing it an ancient instrument of 
the Highlanders than of foreign introduction. 

Besides the harp, the horn appears to have been in very 
ancient use among the Highlanders. It is found on two of 
these remarkable sculptured crosses, and in both cases it is. 
apparently used in hunting. 

142 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 


The Highland Dress— Three Varieties of Dress" worn previous 
TO THE Seventeenth Century; and their Antiquity — Arms 
AND Armour— Hunting— Character of the Highlanders. 

The dress of the Highlanders is one in many 
?re?s'*"'* respects pecuHar to that nation, and is so singularly 

well adapted to their mode of life and the nature 
of their country, that it is difficult to believe that it is not the 
original dress of its inhabitants. Of late years, however, the 
antiquity of this dress and of the use of tartan in the Highlands 
has been much doubted, and an opinion has very generally 
prevailed that it is but of modern invention, or, at all 
events, that the truis is the only ancient form of the dress ; 
although what motive or circumstance could have led to the 
adoption, at a recent period, of so singular a dress, the doubters 
of its antiquity do not pretend to specify. 

It would be too much, perhaps, to affirm that the dress, as at 
present worn, in all its minute details, is ancient, but it is very 

certain that it is compounded of three varieties in the 
tierof^'hi^' form of the dress, which were separately worn by the 
17th ce"nt*ury. Highlanders in the seventeenth century, and that 

each of these can be traced back to the most 
remote antiquity. 

The first form of the dress was that worn by 
vane y. ^^^ Duuc Uasal, or gentry of the Highlands, and 
consi-sted of the Breacan or plaid, and the Lenicroich or High- 
land shirt. They are thus described by Martin : — " The plad, 
wore only b}' the men, is made of fine wool — the thred as 
fine as can be made of that kind — it consists of divers colours, 
and tKerc is a great deal of ingenuity required in sorting the 
colours, so as to be agreeable to the nicest fancy. For this 


reason the women are at great pains, first to give an exact 
pattern of the plad upon a piece of wood, having the number of 
every thred of the stripe on it. The length of it is commonly 
seven double-ells. 

" When they travel on foot the plad is tied on the breast 
with a bodkin of bone or wood. The plad is tied round the 
middle with a leather belt ; it is pleated from the belt to the 
knee very nicely. This dress for footmen is found much easier 
and lighter than breeches or trowis. 

" The first habit wore by persons of distinction in the Islands 
was the Lenicroich, from the Irish word Leni, which signifies 
a shirt, and Croich, saffron, because their shirt was died with 
that herb. The ordinary number of ells used to make this robe 
was twenty-four ; it was the upper garb, reaching below the 
knees, and was tied with a belt round the middle, but the 
Highlanders have laid it aside about a hundred years ago. 

" The shoes anciently wore were a piece of the hide of a 
deer, cow, or horse, with the hair on, being tied behind and 
before with a point of leather. The generality now wear shoes, 
h.aving one thin sole only, and shaped after the right and left 
foot, so that what is for one foot will not serve for the other. 

" But persons of distinction wear the garb in fashion in the 
south of Scotland." 

By the writers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they 
are termed the mantle and the shirt, and are described by them 
as being the only dress worn by the gentry ; thus the Reverend 
James Broome, in his " Travels over England, Scotland, and 
Wales," published at London in 1700, tells us, " they go habited 
in mantles, striped or streaked with divers colours, about their 
shoulders, which they call pladden, with a coat girt close to 
their bodies, and commonly are naked upon their legs, but wear 
sandals upon the soles of their feet ; and their women go dad 
much after the same fashion." 

In 1688, according to Sacheveril, " The usual outward habit 
of both sexes is the pladd ; the women's much finer, the colours 
more lively, and the square larger than the men's ; and put me 
in mind of the ancient Picts. This serves them for a veil, and 
covers both head and body. The men wear theirs after another 
manner, especially when designed for ornament : it is loose and 

144 THE HIGHLANDERS [part r 

flowing, like the mantles our painters give their heroes. Their 
thighs are bear, with brawny muscles. Nature has drawn all 
her strokes bold and masterly. What is covered is only adapted 
to necessity; a thin brogue on the foot, a short buskin of various; 
colours on the leg, tied above the calf with a striped pair of 
garters." According to Nicolay d'Arfeville, cosmographer to 
the King of France (who published at Paris, in the year 1583,: 
a volume entitled " La Navigation du Roy d'Escosse Jaques' 
cinquiesme du nom, autour de son Royaume et Isles Hebrides 
et Orchades soubz la conduite d'Alexandre Lindsay excellent 
Pilote Escossois"), " lis portent comme les Islandois une grand 
et ample chemise saffranee, et par dessus un habit long jusques 
aux genoux de grosse laine a mode d'une soutane. lis vont 
teste nue et laisent croistre leurs cheveux fort long, et ne portent 
chausses ni souliers sinon quelques uns qui ont des botines 
faictes a I'antique qui leur montent jusques aux genoux. "^ 
Lesly gives a more minute description of this dress in 1578. 
He says : — " Vestes ad necessitatem (erant enim ad bellum in 
primis accommodatae) non ad ornatum faciebant : chlamydes 
enim gestabant unius forma; et nobiles et plebeii (nisi quod 
nobiles variegatis sibi magis placebant) et illas quidem demissas 
ac fluxas, sed in sinus tamen quosdam, ubi volebant, decenter 
contractas. Has brachas a veteribus appellatas facile equidem 
crediderim. His solis noctu involuti suaviter dormiebant : 
habebant etiam, cujusmodi Hibernenses et hodie sibi placent, 
villosas stragulas, alias ad iter, alias ad lectos accommodatas. 
Reliqua vero vestimenta erant brevis ex lana tunicella manicis 
inferius apertis, uti expeditius cum vellent jacula torquerent, 
ac fo^moralia simplicissima, pudori quam frigori aut pompse 
aptionne ; ex lino quoque amplissima indusia conficiebant, multis 
sinibus, largioribusque manicis ad genua usque negligentius 
fluentia. Ha^c potentiores croco, alii autem adipe quodam, quo 
ab omn' sorde diutius manerent Integra, illinebant : assuefacere 

^ " They wear, like tl)e Irish, a large grow very long, and they wear neither 

and full shirt, coloured with saffron, stocl'ings nor shoes, except some who 

and over this a garment, hanging to liave buskins, made in a very old 

the knee, of thick wool, after the fashion, which come as high as their 

manner of a cassock. They go with knees." 
bare heads, and allow their hair to 




enim se perfectius castrorum sudoribus consultissimum pute- 
bant."i Lindsay of Pittscottie gives the same account in 1573. 
" The other pairts (of Scotland) northerne ar full of montaines, 
and very rud and homlie kynd of people doeth inhabite, which 
is called Reedschankis or wyld Scottis. They be cloathed with 
ane mantle, with ane schirt, saffroned after the Irisch manner, 
going bair legged to the knee." Monsieur Jean de Beaugne, 
who accompanied the French auxiliaries to Scotland in 1548, 
describes the same dress : " Quelques sauvages les suyvirent, 
ansi qu'ils sont nuz fors que de leurs chemises taintes et de 
certaines couvertures legeres faites de laine de plusieurs couleurs; 
portans de grands arcs et semblables epees et bouchiers que les 
autres."2 In 15 12, John Major adds his testimony to the general 
use of the same dress : " A medio crure ad pedem caligas non 
habent ; chlamyde pro veste superiore et camiisa croco tincta 
amiciuntur grossos pugiones sub zona positos ferunt fre- 
quenter nudis tibiis sub cruribus ; in hyeme chlamydem pro 
veste superiore portant."3 And finally, we have the authority 
of Blind Harry for the fifteenth century. He mentions that 

• " Their clothing was made for use 
(being chiefly suited to war), and not 
for ornament. All, both nobles and 
common people, wore mantles of one 
sort (except that the nobles preferred 
those of different colours). These were 
long and flowing, but capable of being 
neatly gathered up at pleasure into 
folds. I am inclined to belieTe that 
they were the same ns those to which 
the ancients gave the name brachse. 
Wrapped up in these for their only 
covering, they would sleep comfort- 
ably. They had also shaggy rugs, 
such as the Irish use at the present 
day, some fitted for a journey, others 
to be placed on a bed. The rest of 
their garments consisted of a short 
woollen jacket, with the sleeves open 
below for the convenience of throwing 
their darts, and a covering for the 
thighs of the simplest kind, more for 
decency than for show or a defence 
against cold. They made also of linen 
Tery large shirts, with numerous folds 


and very large sleeves, which flowed 
abroad loosely on their knees. These 
the rich coloured with saffron, and 
others smeared with some grease, to 
preserve them longer clean among the 
toils and exercises of a camp, which 
they held it of the highest consequence 
to practise continually." 

^ " Several Highlanders (or wild 
Scots) followed them (the Scottish 
army), and they were naked, except 
their seamed shirts and a certain light 
covering made of wool of various 
colours ; carrying large bows and 
similar swords and bucklers to the 
others," i.e., to the Lowlanders. 

2 " From the middle of the thigh 
to the foot they have no covering for 
the leg, clothing themselves with a 
mantle instead of an upper garment. 
They carry large daggers, placed under 
the belt ; their legs are frequently 
naked under the thigh ; in winter thej' 
carry a mantle for an upper garment." 


Wallace, who had been living in the Braes of Gowrie, having 
entered Dundee, was met by the son of the English constable 
of Dundee, and adds : 

" Wallace he saw and tovvart him he went, 
Likli he was licht byge and weyle beseyne, 
In till a gyde of gudly ganand greyne. 
He callyt on hym and said, Thou Scot abyde, 
Quha dewill the grathis in so gay a gyde (attire), 
Ane Ersche mantill it war the kynd to wer ; 
A Scottis thewtill (large knife) wndyr the belt to bar, 
Rouch rewlyngis upon thi harlot fete." 

There is thus a complete chain of authorities for the dress 
of the Highlanders, from the fourteenth to the seventeenth 
century, having consisted of the Highland shirt stained with 
saffron, the Breacan or belted plaid, the short Highland coat, 
and the Cuaran or buskins, and that their limbs, from the 
thigh to the ancle, were certainly uncovered. 

Previous to the fourteenth century, we cannot expect to find 
descriptions of the dress, but the existence of the same dress 
among the Highlanders can be established by another mode of 
proof On the various tomb-stones of the ancient Highland chiefs 
still extant in some of the ruined chapels of the western High- 
lands, are to be seen effigies of these personages, represented clad 
in armour, and almost invariably in the Highland dress. The 
dates of these monuments are various ; but the most complete 
evidence perhaps of the existence of this garb in the fourteenth 
century, is to be found in the sculptures of Macmillan's Cross. 
This ancient structure has been preserved in an uninjured state, 
and is still standing in the village of Kilmory in Knapdale : 
although there does not appear any date upon the stone, yet 
from the form of the letters in which there is this inscription, 
*' Crux Alexandri Macmillan," there can be no doubt that it 
is at least as old as that period. On one side is the representa- 
tion of an Highland chief engaged in hunting the deer, and the 
■dress of the figure appears quite distinctly to be after the High- 
land fashion. But from the Duplin Cross, the date of which can, 
from various circumstances, be fixed to have been towards the 
•end of the ninth century, there are a number of figures repre- 
sented in the Highland garb, armed with the target and long 


spear. Another very remarkable figure is found on the sculp- 
tured stone at Nigg, apparently of a still older date, in which 
the resemblance to the Highland dress is very striking, present- 
ing also considerable indication of the sporran or purse. But it 
would be needless to detail all the sculptured monuments which 
bear evidence of the existence of the Highland garb ; suffice it 
to say, that they afford complete proof of its having been the 
ordinary dress of a considerable part of the northern population 
from the earliest period of their history. 

There is thus distinct evidence for the remote antiquity of 
this dress ; but a very remarkable attestation to its use in the 
eleventh century still remains to be adduced. 

Magnus Barefoot, it is well known, conquered the Western 
Isles, and a great part of the Highlands, in the year 1093. 
Various of the oldest Sagas, in mentioning that expedition, add 
the following sentence — " It is said, when king Magnus returned 
from his expedition to the west, that he adopted the costume 
in use in the western lands, and likewise many of his followers ; 
that they went about bare-legged, having short tunics and also 
upper garments ; and so, many men called him Barelegged, or 
Barefoot." The tunic and the upper garments are clearly the 
shirt and mantle of the Scottish writers. This dress, which was 
worn, as we have seen, from the earliest period, appears to have 
been peculiar to the gentry of the Highlands ; — thus in a MS. 
history of the Gordons, by W. R., preserved in the Advocates' 
Library (Jac. V. 7, 11), the following anecdote is given, as occur- 
ring about the year 1591 or 1592 : "Angus, the son of Lauchlan 
Mackintosh, chiefe of the clan Chattan, with a great party, 
attempts to surprise the castle of Ruthven in Badenoch, belong- 
ing to Huntly, in which there was but a small garrison ; but 
finding this attempt could neither by force -nor fraude have 
successe, he retires a little to consult how to compass his intent. 
In the meanetime one creeps out under the shelter of some 
old ruins, and levels with his piece at one of the clan Chattan, 
cloathed in a yellow warr coat (which amongst them is the badge 
of the chief tables or heads of clans), and piercing his body with a 
bullet, strikes him to the ground, and retires with gladness into 
the castle. The man killed was Angus himself, whom his 
people carry away, and conceills his death for many yeir.^-. 


pretending he was gone beyond seas." Martin likewise says, 
that it was worn by persons of distinction ; and other writers 
contrast it with the dress of the common people. 

The dress of the common people was the second 
ortheVi^ei!*^ variety in the form of the Highland dress. 

John Major points out the distinction most clearly. 
After describing the dress of the gentry as given above, he adds, 
" In panno lineo multipliciter intersuto et cocreato aut picato, cum 
cervinae pellis coopertura vulgus sylvestrium Scotorum corpus 
tectum habens in praelium prosilit."^ It appears, therefore, to 
have consisted of the shirt, painted instead of being stained 
with saffron, and sewed in the manner of the modern kilt, while 
above it they wore a deerskin jacket ; they likewise wore the 
plaid, which the gentry belted about the body, over the 
shoulders, like the modern shoulder plaid. Taylor, the water 
poet, describes this dress very minutely in 1618 — "And in 
former times were those people which were called Red-shanks. 
Their habite is shooes with but one sole a-piece ; stockings 
(which they call short hose) made of a warme stuff of divers 
colours, which they call tartane. As for breeches, many of 
them, nor their forefathers, never wore any, but a jerkin of 
the same stuffe that their hose is of, their garters being bands 
or wreaths of hay or straw, with a plaid about their shoulders, 
which is a mantle of divers colours, much finer or lighter stuffe 
than their hose, with blue flat caps on their heads, a hand- 
kerchiefe knit with two knots about their necke, and thus are 
they attyred." There is, however, as old an attestation for the 
use of this dress as for the other ; for while the Sagas describe 
the king of Norway and his courtiers wearing the dress of the 
Highland gentry in the eleventh century, they describe some 
of his meaner followers attired in that of the common people 
of the Highlands. " Sigurd had on," say they, " a red skarlet 
tunic, and had a blue vest above it ; " here the tunic and vest 
answer exactly to the shirt and jacket of the common people. 
Sigurd is described by the Saga as having been much derided 
by the Norwegians for his extraordinary dress. He is accused 

' " The common people of the Higli- ment, manifoldly sewed, and painted 
land Scots rush into battle liaving or daubed with pitch, with a covering 
their body clothed with a linen gar- of deer-skin." 


of displaying his nakedness, and termed " a sleeveless man, and 
without backskirts." The third variety in the form 
of^thedresf^ of the drcss wom by the Highlanders was that of 
the Truis, but this dress can be traced no further 
back than the year 1538. Martin thus describes it in 1716. 
" Many of the people wear trozvis ; some have them very fine 
woven, like stocking of those made of cloth ; some are coloured, 
and others striped ; the latter are as well shaped as the former, 
lying close to the body from the middle downwards, and tied 
round with a belt above the haunches. There is a square piece 
of cloth which hangs down before. The measure for shaping 
the trowis is a stick of wood, whose length is a cubit, and that 
divided into the length of a finger, and half a finger, so that 

it requires more skill to make it than the ordinary habit 

The one end (of the plaid) hangs by the middle over the left 
arm, the other going round the body, hangs by the end over 
the left arm also ; the right hand above it is to be at liberty 
to do any thing upon occasion." And in 1678 it is thus men- 
tioned by Cleland, who w^ote a satirical poem upon the 
expedition of the Highland host. 

'' But those who were their chief commanders, 
As such who bore the pirnie standarts, 
Who led the van and drove the rear, 
Were right well mounted of their gear ; 
With brogues, trues, and pirnie plaides. 
With good blue bonnets on their heads. 

" A slasht out coat beneath her plaides, 
A targe of timber, nails, and hides." 

Defoe, in his Memoirs of a Cavalier, mentions it as worn 
in 1639 — " Their dress was as antique as the rest ; a cap on 
their heads, called by them a bonnet, long hanging sleeves 
behind, and their doublet, breeches, and stockings of a stuff 
they called plaid, striped across red and yellow, with short 
coats of the same." The earliest notice, however, is contained 
in the treasurer's accounts for 1538, and consists of the dress 
worn by James V. when hunting in the Highlands. 

" Item, in the first for ij elnis ane quarter elne of variant 
cullorit velvet to be the kingis grace ane sc/iort Heland coit, 
price of the elne vj^'^ : summa, xiiji'b x^. 

150 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

" Item, for iij elnis quarter elne of grene taffatyis, to lyne 
the said coit with, price of the ehie x^. : summa, xxxij^. vj^^. 

" Item, for iij ehiis of Hcland tertane to be hoiss to the 
kingis grace, price of the ehie iiij^. iiij^. : summa, xiijs. 

" Item, for xv ehiis of Holland claith to be syde Heland 

sarkis to the kingis grace, price of the elne viij^. : summa, 

" Item, for sewing and making of the said sarks, ix^. 

" Item, for twa unce of silk to sew thame, x^. 

" Item, for iiij elnis of ribanis to the handes of them, ijs." 

The Jioiss here mentioned are plainly the ti^uis, the stockings 
being termed short Jioiss ; and from these accounts it appears 
that this dress consisted of the Highland shirt, the truis made 
of tartan, the short Highland coat made of tartan velvet, with 
the sleeves " slasht out ; " and finally, the plaid thrown over 
the shoulders. The truis cannot be traced in the Highlands 
previous to the sixteenth century, but there is undoubted 
evidence that it was, from the very earliest period, the dress 
of the gentry of Ireland. I am inclined therefore to think 
that it was introduced from Ireland, and that the proper and 
peculiar dress of the Highlanders consisted of the first two 
varieties above described. The use of tartan in the Highlands 
at an early period has been denied, but the passages above 
quoted show clearly, that what is now called tartan, was used 
from an early period in various parts of the dress. Among 
the gentry, the plaid was always of tartan, and the coat appears 
to have been from 1538 of tartan velvet, and slashed; the 
short hoiss were likewise of tartan, but the Highland shirt 
was of linen, and dyed with saffron. Among the common 
people the plaid was certainly not of tartan, but generally 
brown in colour, ^ while the shirt worn by them was of tartan. 
The present dress with the belted plaid is exactly the same 
as the old dress of the gentry, with the exception of the yellow 
shirt. The dress with the kilt and shoulder-plaid, is probably 
a corruption of the dress of the common people. Among the 

' " Chlamydes enim gestabant unius says, " But for the most part they 

formfe omnes et nobiles et plebeii (nisi (the plaids) are now browne, most 

quod nobiles varierjatis sibi 7nagis place- nere to the colour of the hadder." 
bantj." — John Major. Moniepennie 


common people the shirt was of tartan, and sewed in plaits, 
and they wore a jacket, and the plaid over the shoulder ; this 
shirt was probably termed filleadh, and if divided in the middle 
would form exactly the present dress with the shoulder plaid ; 
the lower part of the shirt would be the filleadh-beg or kilt, 
the upper part the waistcoat, and the jacket and shoulder-plaid 
would remain. It has likewise been doubted whether the 
distinction of clan tartans was known at that period ; but 
Martin seems to set that question at rest, for in his valuable 
account of the Western Isles he says, " Every isle differs from 
each other in their fancy of making plaids, as to the stripes, 
or breadth, or colours. This humour is as different through 
the mainland of the Highlands, in so far that they who have 
seen those -places, are able, at the first view of a man's plaid, 
to guess the place of his residence." Among the common 
people, the jacket was of deer-skin. But the cuaran or buskin, 
and afterwards the hose, were common to both. 

The dress of the Highland women is thus described by 
Lesley in 1578 — " Mulierum autem habitus apud illos decentis- 
simus erat. Nam talari tunicae arte Phrygia ut plurimum 
confect?e amplas chlamydes, quas jam diximus, atque illas 
quidem polymitas superinduerunt. Illarum brachia armillis, 
ac colla monilibus elegantius ornata maximam habent decoris 
speciem."! And by Martin in 17 16 — "The ancient dress wore 
by the women, and which is yet wore by some of the vulgar, 
called Arisad^ is a white plad, having a few small stripes of 
black, blue, and red. It reached from the neck to the heels, and 
was tied before on the breast with a buckle of silver or brass, 
according to the quality of the person. I have seen some of 
the former of a hundred marks value ; it was broad as an 
ordinary pewter plate, the whole curiously engraven with various 
animals, &c. There was a lesser buckle, which was wore in 
the middle of the larger, and above two ounces' weight ; it 
had in the centre a large piece of chrystal, or some finer stone, 

'"Their women's attire was very ferent colours. Their chief ornaments 

becoming. Over a gown reaching to were the bracelets and necklaces with 

the ancles, and generally embroidered, which they decorated their arms and 

they wore large mantles of the kind necks." 
already described, and woven of dif- 

152 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

and this was set all round with several finer stones of a lesser 

" The plad being pleated all round, was tied with a belt 
below the breast ; the belt was of leather, and several pieces 
of silver intermixed with the leather like a chain. The lower 
end of the belt has a piece of plate, about eight inches long 
and three in breadth, curiously engraven, the end of which was 
adorned with fine stones, or pieces of red coral. They wore 
sleeves of scarlet cloth, closed at the end as men's vests, with 
gold lace round them, having plate buttons set with fine stones. 
The head dress was a fine kerchief of linen strait about the 
head, hanging down the back taperwise. A large lock of hair 
hangs down their cheeks above their breast, the lower end 
tied with a knot of ribbands." 

Besides the antiquity of the Highland dress, the use of 
armour among the Highlanders has been also 
much doubted by modern antiquaries, but there 
are perhaps few points for which there is clearer attestation 
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ; and the few 
notices of Highland customs at that period attest the use of 
the helmet, and the shirt of mail. Their weapons appear to 
have been the large sword, the battle-axe, the spear, the bow 
and arrow, and the dirk. In illustration of this, we shall throw 
together a few passages from the writers of that period. 

In 1 5 12. — "Arcum et sagittas, latissimum ensem, cum parv^o 
halberto, pugionem grossum ex solo uno latere scindentem et 
acutissimum sub zona semper ferunt. Tempore belli loricam 
ex loris ferreis per totum corpus induunt et in ilia pugnant.''^ 

In 1573. — " Thair weapones ar bowes and dartes, with ane 
verie broad sword, and ane dagger sharp onlie at the one 

In 1578. — "In prceliis vero hostilique concursu vel lancea 
vel sagitta adversarium petebant. Gladio quoque utebantur 
ancipiti, pedites oblongo, equites brevi, utrique lato, ac acie 

^ John Major. — " They always carry they cover their wliole body with a 

a bow and. arrows, a very broad sword shirt of mail of iron rings, and fight 

Avith a small halbert, a large dagger, in that.'' 
sharpened on one side only, but very , Lindsay of Pittscottie. 

sharp, under the belt. In time of war 


longe accutissimo ut primo conatu hominem facile dissecaret 
medium. Lorica hamis ferreis conserta muniebantur. Hanc 
tunicae corriaceae non minus firmae quam eleganti (nostri Acton 
dicunt) superinduerunt. Omnes denique armatura illis leves, ut 
facilius si eo angustiarum detruderentur, ex hostium manibus 
possent elabi."i 

In 1583. — " Leurs armes sont Tare et la flesche et quelques 
javellotz qu'ils tirent fort dextrement, et une large espee, avec 
le poignard pointu, qui ne taille que d'un coste. lis sont fort 
legers a la course, et n'y a cheval si viste qui les puisse devancer, 
comme j'en ay veu la preuve plusieurs fois, tant en Angleterre 
qu'en Escosse." ^ 

Martin, in his Western Isles, says, " The ancient way of 
fighting was by set battles, and for armes some had broad 
two-handed swords, and head-pieces, and others bows and 

The author of " Certain curious matters concerning Scot- 
land" in 1597 says, "They fight with broad swords and axes." 
— Moneypennie, who wrote in 161 2, remarks — "Their armour 
wherewith they cover their bodyes in time of warre, is an yron 
bonnet, and an habbergion, side almost even to their heeles. 
Their weapons against their enemies are bowes and arrows. 
The arrows are for the most part hooked, with a barbel on 
either side, which, once entered within the body, cannot be 
drawn forth again, unless the wound be made wider. Some 
•of them fight with broad swords and axes." 

Beague, in describing the battle of Pinkie, says, " The 
Highlanders, who show their courage on all occasions, gave 

^ Lesly.— " In battle and hostile en- light, that they might the more easily 

counter their weapons were a lance or slip from their enemies' hands, if they 

arrows. They use also a two-edged chanced to fall into such a straight." 

sword, which with the foot soldier . , „ .,, ^, . 

was pretty long, and short for the ' ^'^^^^^ d'Arfeville.-" Their arms; both had it broad, and with are the bow and arrow, and some 

an edge so exceedingly sharp that at ^^^^s, which they throw with some 

one blow it could easily cut a man in dexterity, and a large sword, with a 

two; for defence they use a coat of single-edged dagger. They are very 

mail woven of iron rings, which they ^^^^t of foot, and there is no horse 

wore over a leather jerkin, stout and of ^o swift as to outstrip them, as I have 

handsome appearance, which we call ^'^en proved several times both in 

-an Acton. Their whole armour was -England and Scotland. 


proof of their conduct at this time, for they kept together in 
one bod}-, and made a very handsome and orderly retreat. 
They are armed with broadswords, large bows, and targets." — 
And finally, an Act of Council dated 13 December, 1552, ordering" 
a levy of rwo ensigncies of Highland soldiers within the bounds 
of Huntly's lieutenancy, to go to France with other Scottish 
troops for the support of his most Christian Majesty in his 
wars, directs the Highlanders to be accoutred as follows, viz.,. 
" with jack and plait, steil bonnet, sword, boucklair, new hose, 
and new doublett of canvass at the least, and sleeves of plait 
or splents, and ane speir of sax elne lang or thereby." 

These passages, to which many others might be added, 
are sufficient to show that the Highlanders were not the naked 
and defenceless soldiers at that time as is generally supposed,, 
but that they were well acquainted with the use of defensive 
armour, and that the steel head-piece, the habergeon, or the 
shirt of mail, was in general use among them. 

When not engaged in regular warfare, or in some 

unting. r 1 1 i • r i 

ot the almost constant predatory excursions 01 the 
time, the chief occupation of the ancient Highlanders was 
that of hunting. In the words of Holinshed, " whensoever 
they had entered into league and amitie with their enemies, 
they would not live in such security that thereby they would 
suffer their bodies and forces to degenerate, but they did 
keep themselves in their former activitie and nimbleness of 
lives, either with continual huntinge (a game greatly esteemed 
among our ancestors) or with running from the hills unto the 
valleys, or from the valleys unto the hills, or with wrestling, 
and such kind of pastymes, whereby they were never idle." 
As the Highlanders considered that, next to war, hunting 
was the most manly exercise and occupation, their great hunting 
expeditions seem to have been held with splendid though rude 
magnificence, and they were not un frequently made the cover 
of deeper designs. Taylor, the water poet, gives so very lively 
and picturesque a description of the Highland hunting scene 
he witnessed, that although it has already been made the 
subject of frequent quotation, it is so very ^ much to the present 
purpose that I cannot refrain from inserting a portion here. 
" The manner of the hunting is this — five or six hundred 


men do rise early in the morning, and they do disperse them- 
selves divers ways, and seven, eight, or ten miles' compass, 
they do bring or chase in the deer in many herds (two, three, 
or four hundred in a herd) to such or such a place as the 
nobleman shall appoint them ; then when day is come, the 
lords and gentlemen of their companies do ride or go to the 
said places, sometimes wading up to the middle through burns 
and rivers, and then they being come to the place, do lie 
down on the ground, till those foresaid scouts, which are called 
the Tinchell, do bring down the deer ; but as the proverb 
says of a bad cook, so these unkell men do lick their own 
fingers ; for besides their bows and arrows which they carry 
with them, we can hear now and then a harquebuss or a musket 
go off, which they do seldom discharge in vain. Then after 
we had laid there three hours or thereabouts, we might perceive 
the deer appear on the hills round about us (their heads making 
a show like a wood), which, being followed close by the tinchell^ 
are chased down into the valley where we lay ; then all the 
valley on each side being waylaid with an hundred couple of 
greyhounds, they are all let loose a^ occasion serves upon 
the herd of deer, that with dogs, guns, arrows, dirks, and 
daggers, in the space of two hours four score fat deer were 
slain, which after are disposed of some one way and some 
another, twenty and thirty miles, and more than enough left 
for us to make merry withall at our rendezvous." 

I may conclude this rapid survey of the manners 
and customs of the Highlanders by contrasting a 
character of the Highlanders in the fourteenth century with 
one of the present day, both of them written by persons far 
from favourable to the Highlands or its inhabitants. " Insulana 
sive montana ferina gens est et indomita, rudis et emmorigerata, 
raptu capax, otium diligens, ingenio docilis et callida, forma 
spectabilis, sed amictu deformis ; populo quidem Anglorum 
et lingus, sed et proprie nationi, propter linguarum diversi- 
tatem infesta et crudelis ; regi tamen et regno fidelis et 
obediens, nee non faciliter legibus subdita si regatur." ^ " The 
modern Gael," says a modern writer who cannot certainly be 

^ Fordun. 

156 THE HIGHLANDERS [part i 

accused of partialit}- to the Highlanders, " is naturally an 
indolent and unindustrious being ; yet when there is occasion 
for activity and exertion, he is not often to be paralleled. He 
is modest and unassuming. His courtesy and good breeding 
are unstudied and becoming, and no feeling of inferiority betrays 
him into abstraction or awkwardness of manner ; shrewd, 
inquisitive, and intelligent, he has his faculties collected and 
at his command. He is sensible of kindness and deeply 
susceptible of gratitude, but withall he is superstitious, haughty, 
passionate, and vindictive." ^ 

i Armstrong. 


The Seven Provinces of Scotland. 

In treating of the earlier part of the history of Scotland, it had 
been my intention to have refrained from entering more deeply 
into the subject than was absolutely necessary for the develop- 
ment of the single proposition which I had to establish — viz., the 
descent of the Highlanders from the northern Picts ; but the 
remarkable discoveries of Sir Francis Palgrave, regarding the 
court and privileges of the seven earls of Scotland in the 
thirteenth century, corroborate so very strongly the views 
which I had been led to form of the constitution of the Pictish 
kingdom, and of its preservation in the subsequent Scottish 
monarchy, that I am induced to depart from my resolution, and 
to give a more detailed view of the subject in this Appendix. 

Previous writers of Scottish history have in general over- 
looked the ancient territorial divisions of the country. That 
the name of Scotia was, previous to the thirteenth century, 
confined to the country north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde, 
is undoubted ; the chronicles and ancient writers invariably 
asserting that these Firths divided Scotia from Anglia. That 
part of the present kingdom situated to the south of these 
Firths, appears to have formerly consisted of the two provinces 
of Lothian and Cumbria, or Galloway ; and these provinces 
have been frequently noticed by our later historians. These 
writers have, however, entirely overlooked the fact, that Scotia, 
or Scotland proper, was likewise divided into provinces. We 
have seen that frequent allusion is made by the chroniclers and 
monkish writers to the " provinciae Pictorum";i and from the 

■■ See Part I., chap. ii. 


Scottish conquest down to the thirteenth century, they frequently 
notice the existence o^ pjwinces in the north of Scotland. The 
oldest description of these territorial divisions which we possess, 
is contained in the work of Giraldus Cambrensis, styled " De 
Situ Albaniae," and written in the year 1180. He mentions 
that the " Aqua optima, quae Scottice vocata est Forth," divides 
the " regna Scottorum et Anglorum," and says, " Hasc vero 
terra a septem fratribus divisa fuit antiquitus in septem partes : 
quarum pars principalis est Enegus cum Moerne, ab Enegus 
primogenito fratrum sic nominata : secunda autem pars est 
AdtJicodle et Gouerin^ : pars etiam tertia est Stradeern cum 
Meneted : quarta pars partium est Fife cum Fothreve : quinta 
vero pars est Marr cum BucJien : sexta autem est Miirref et 
Ros : septima enim pars est CatJianesia citra montem et ultra 
montem : quia Mons Mound dividit Cathatiesiavi per medium."^ 
He afterwards gives a different account of the seven provinces, 
on the authority of Andrew, Bishop of Caithness : — 

"Primum regnum fuit (sicut mihi verus relator retulit, Andreas, 
videlicet, vir venerabilis Katanensis episcopus nacione Scottus 
et Dunfermlis Monachus) ab ilia aqua optima, quae Scottice 
vocata est Forth, Britannice Werid, Romane vero Scotte-Wattre, 
i.e., aqua Scottorum ; quae regna Scottorum et Anglorum dividit, 
et currit juxta oppidum de Strivelin, usque ad flumen aliud 
nobile, quod vocatum est Tae. 

" Secundum regnum ad Hilef, sicut mare circuit, usque ad 
montem aquilonali plaga de Strivelin qui vocatur Athrin. 

" Tertium regnum ab Hi/ef usque ad Z^e. 

" Ouartum regnum ex F>e usque ad magnum et mirabile 
flumen quod vocatur Spe, majorem et meliorem totius Scociae. 

'• Ouintum regnum de S^e usque ad montem Bruinalban. 

" Sextum regnum fuit Muref et Ros. 

" Septimum regnum fuit Arregaithel." 

On comparing these two lists, it will be observed that six 

'The word read by Inues Gouerin, Atlioll and Gowry being in the same 

ought undoubtedly to be Garorin or territorial division. Innes probably 

Garmorin, for the division of the Picts never heard of the Earldom of Gar- 

into the two nations of Australes et moriu, 
Septentrionales, and the language of 

Bede, precludes the possibility of £. Innes, App. No. 1. 


of the seven provinces are the same in both ; the first province 
in the second list being equivalent to Fife and Fothreve ; the 
second, to Stratherne and Menteth ; the third, to Angus and 
Merns ; the fourth, to Marr and Buchan ; the fifth, to Atholl ; 
and the sixth, Moray and Ross ; while in the first list, the 
seventh is Cathanesia, and in the second it is Argyll. 

This variation, it is plain, could not arise from any error in 
the ancient documents from which these two accounts are taken ; 
and the two lists can only represent the division of Scotland 
into seven provinces, at different periods, since otherwise we 
could not account for the omission of either Argyll or Caithness 
This variation, however, points out distinctly the different periods 
in the history of Scotland to which the two lists apply. The 
first list omits Argyll ; the second includes Argyll and omits 
Caithness ; and the ninth century produced exactly the changes 
in the history of Scotland which would account for this varia- 
tion ; for the Scottish conquest, in 843, added Dalriada, which 
afterwards became Argyll, to the rest of Scotland, and towards 
the end of the same century, Caithness fell into the hands 
of the Norwegians. The second list thus exhibits the exact 
territories possessed by the king of Scotland subsequent to 
the ninth century, while the first list gives an equally faithful 
picture of the extent of the Pictish kingdom previous to the 
Scottish conquest. This is very plain, when we find that the 
seven provinces in the first list form exactly the possessions 
of the Picts, and that the part omitted is just the territory 
of the Dalriads ; and this is most important, for it proves that 
the division into seven provinces was peculiar to the Picts, and 
that the Pictish kingdom formed the basis of the subsequent 
Scottish monarchy. Having thus established the fact that the 
seven provinces contained in the first list were the territorial 
divisions of the Pictish kingdom previous to the Scottish 
conquest, we now proceed to enquire into the nature and 
purpose of this division. 

Giraldus mentions a tradition that the seven provinces arose 
from a division of the territory of the Picts among seven 
brothers. These seven brothers, however, are manifestly the 
same with the seven sons of Cruthne, the progenitor of the 
Picts mentioned in the following passage of the Pictish chronicle: 


" Cruidne filius Cinge, pater Pictorum habitantium in hac insula, 
C. annis regnavit ; VII. filios habuit. Haec sunt nomina eorum ; 
Fiv, Fidach, Floclaid, Fortreim, Got, Ce, Circui." ^ The same 
seven brothers are mentioned in an old Gaelic poem attributed 
to St. Columba, and quoted in that ancient and singular history 
of the Picts contained in the book of Ballymote. 

" The seven great sons of Cruthne 
Divided Alban into seven parts, 
Cait, Ce, Ciiighceathac, 
Fibh, Fidach, Fotla, Foitreand."- 

The names of these seven brothers, however, appear from the 
Irish annalists to have been actually the Gaelic names of the 
districts in question. 

The name of Fortren occurs frequently in these Annals, 
where many of the Pictish kings are termed " Ri Fortren," 
or king of Fortren ; and that this word, although used for 
Pictavia in general, was applied in a strict sense to Stratherne, 
appears from two facts: ist, Angus Ri Fortren (or king of 
Fortren, in Tighernac), appears, in the old history of the 
foundation of St. Andrews, as residing in Forteviot in Strath- 
erne as his capital ; and it is plain that, in a state of society 
like that of the Picts, the residence of the monarch would 
always be in the territories of the tribe of which he was the 
chief 2dly, The Annals of Ulster mention in 903 the slaughter 
of Ivar the Norwegian pirate, " by the men of Fortren," while 
the Pictish Chronicle, in relating the same event, says, " In 
sequenti utique anno occisi sunt in Straithheremi (Stratherne) 

Fiv is manifestly Fife. In Cathanesia, and Athfotla or. 
Atholl, we plainly recognise Got or Cait, and Fotla ; while 
Tighernac mentions a battle fought " in terra Circi," and from 
the parties engaged in it, it would appear to have been in 
the territories of the southern Picts, and consequently the 
province of Angus. There only remain the names Ce and 

1 Pinkerton, App. No. 10. must not be judged of by Pinker- 

ton's translation, which bears but 
* Pinkerton, App. No. 14. This a very remote resemblance to the 
very curious and valuable document original. 


Fidach to be identified ; but although these must have been 
the Gaehc names of the two remaining provinces stretching 
from the Dee to the Firth of Tain, we are unable further to 
identify them. All authorities thus agree in the division of the 
Pictish nation into seven provinces ; and as the Picts were at 
the same time divided into the two great nations of the Northern 
and Southern Picts, who were separated from each other by the 
Great Grampian range, it would appear that four of these provinces 
belonged to the former of these nations, and three to the latter. 

The Picts, however, it must be remembered, consisted of a 
confederacy of tribes, in number certainly greater than seven. 
These tribes, then, must have been grouped together, as it were 
into provinces, and it will be necessary to ascertain their number 
and situation before we can understand the purpose of the latter 
division. After giving the first list of seven provinces, Giraldus 
proceeds to say — " Inde est ut hi septem fratres praedicti pro 
septem regibiis habebantur : septem regulos sub se habentes. 
Isti septem fratres regnum Albaniae in septem regna diviserunt, 
et unusquisque in tempore suo in suo regno regnavit." There 
were thus, according to tradition, among the Picts, seven " reges," 
and inferior to them seven " reguli," that is to say, as the Picts 
were a confederacy of tribes, the heads of the nation consisted 
of fourteen chiefs, of whom seven were superior in rank to the 
rest. As we had previously found the existence of the seven 
provinces traditionally preserved in the shape of the seven sons 
of the supposed founder of the Pictish kingdom, so we should 
likewise expect to recognize the fourteen tribes of the nation 
traditionally preserved in the same documents and in a similar 
form. Such is actually the case. The Pictish Chronicle has the 
following passage : — 

"15 Brude bout, a quo xxx Brude regnaverunt Hiberniam 
et Albaniam, per centum 1. annorum spacium xlviii. annis reg- 
navit. Id est, Brude Pant, Brude Crpant, Brude Leo, Brude 
Urleo, Brude Gant, Brude Urgant, Brude Guith, Brude Urguith, 
Brude Fecir, Brude Urfecir, Brude Cal, Brude Ureal, Brude Ciut, 
Brude Urciut, Brude Fee, Brude Urfec, Brude Ru, Brude Eru, 
Brude Gart, Brude Urgart, Brude Cinid, Brude Urcinid, Brude 
lup, Brude Uriup, Brude Grid, Brude Urgrid, Brude Mund 

Brude Urmund." 



In the Book of Ballymote, perhaps the better authority, we 
find exactly the same list, with the exception that instead of 
Fecir we have Feth, instead of Ru we have Ero, instead of lup 
we have Uip, instead of Grid we have Grith, and instead of 
Mund we have Muin. 

Although Brude is here stated to have thirty sons, yet, on 
giving their names, it appears to be a mistake for twenty-eight 
which is the true number, as the Book of Ballymote has the 
same. This number, however, is again reduced to fourteen, as 
we find that every alternate name is merely the preceding one 
repeated, with the syllable " Ur " prefixed. 

This, then, is a strictly analogous case to the former. It 
appears from Giraldus, that there were among the YicXs fourteen 
persons styled " reges et reguli," who, from the state of society 
among them, must have been chiefs of tribes, and consequently 
the nation was divided into fourteen tribes, while we find a 
tradition, that a successor of the founder of the nation and king 
of the Picts had fourteen sons. 

The tribes of the Caledonians or Picts, as they existed 
A.D. 121, are, however, preserved by Ptolemy. The exact num- 
ber of these tribes cannot be ascertained from him, as he 
nowhere marks the distinction between the tribes of the Cale- 
donians and those of the other Britons. They appear, however, 
to have been fourteen in number, for, north of the Firths of 
Forth and Clyde, which in the second century was certainly 
inhabited by the Caledonians or Picts alone, he places twelve 
tribes ; the Damnonioi likewise belonged to them, for that tribe 
is placed by Ptolemy partly north and partly south of these 
Firths, and the expression of Julius Capitolinus, in narrating 
the building of the wall of Antonine in A.D. 138, " submotis 
barbaris," implies that previous to that ev^ent a considerable 
number of the Caledonians dwelt south of the Firths ; amono- 
these " submotis barbaris " we may probably likewise include 
the Novantai, as Tacitus draws a decided distinction between 
them and the neighbouring tribes, when he styles them, along 
with the Damnonioi " novas gentes." 

This just makes up the number of fourteen ; and it is a very 
remarkable circumstance, that in the names of these' fourteen 
tribes, as given by Ptolemy, we actually find, with but one 




exception, the names of the fourteen sons of Brude given by the 
Pictish Chronicle. This will appear from the following table, 
and as the names in the one list are Gaelic, and in the other 
Greek, it will be necessary to add to the former the forms they 
would assume by pronunciation, and the use of the aspirate in 
the oblique cases, which has the effect in Gaelic, as is well 
known, of sometimes changing the form of the letter, and some- 
times rendering it silent.^ 

Pant or Phant 

Leo Leo 

Gant . . . pronounced . . . Kant 

Guith . . . pronounced . . . Kai 

Feth or Ped 

Cal or Kal 

Cuit or Tuic 

Fee Fee 

Eru Eru 

Gart ^ . . . pronounced . . . Kar 

Cinid Cinid 

Uip or Uiph 

Grith . . . pronounced . . . Kre 

Muin or Vuin 

Novaniai. ^ 











Y^owxwaovioi. * 



In comparing these names, it must be recollected that the 
Gaelic names are monosyllabic, while the Greek are not. But 
\\-hen, in fourteen Greek names, the fiist syllables of teji are 
found to be identic with the Gaelic, as well as the second 
syllables of tivo, and that there are but two which bear a 
doubtful or no similarity, the identity may be considered com- 

We thus see that the Pictish nation was a confederacy of 

^ In old Gaelic D and T are used for 
each otlier indiscriminately. By the 
asj)irate used in the oblique cases, b 
and M become v, P becomes F, and T is 
silent. In ancient MSS. it is likewise 
difficult to distinguish t from c. 

^ Na, the Gaelic definite article, 
Navantai — the Yantai. 

'* Tighernac mentions the Gens Gart- 
naidh, pronounced Karnie. 

* Corr is the Gaelic for a corner, and 
hence a district " Corrn'aovioi " is the 
" district of the Aovioi," and Corr is 
singularly applicable to their situation 
in Caitliness. 

*The identification of the fourteen 
tribes with the fourteen sons of Brude 
may perhaps be considered visionary, 
but its accuracy does not in any way 
affect the argument regarding the 
constitution of the Pictish monarchy. 



[part I 

fourteen tribes, the chiefs of seven of which were considered 
of superior rank to the others, and that these fourteen tribes 
were grouped into seven provinces, in each of which one of 
the seven superior chiefs ruled, lliis exhibits a system exactly 
analogous to that which existed, as appears from Caesar and 
others, in Gaul, where several of the tribes were dependent 
upon others more powerful than themselves. It has been fully 
shewn in this Work, that the northern tribes remained in very 
much the same state, down to the introduction of the Saxon 
la\\'s, in the reign of Edgar ; that the maormors or chiefs of 
these tribes assumed the title of earl, and that the territories 
of the tribes are exactly the same with the earldoms into which 
the north of Scotland was afterwards divided. We are thus 
enabled, by comparing the tribes as given by Ptolemy with 
the subsequent earldoms and the seven provinces contained in 
Giraldus, to ascertain the exact local system of the Pictish 
kingdom. This will appear from the following table : — 






Fiv . . . 

Cinid . 


Southern Picts . i 

Fortren . . 



Circi . . . 
Fidach . \ 

Vuin . 

fFec . 





Northern Picts . . 

Ce . . .J 
Fotla . . . 

[Kar . 
/Kal . 
(Kre . 


Leo . 

Ero . 
"IKai . 
Ped . 


Fell into the pos- 


Cait . . . 

session of the 
Norwegians — 

A.D. 925. 
Destroyed by 

From this table it will be observed, that the Southern Picts 
consisted of but three of the fourteen tribes, while their terri- 
tories comprised three of the seven provinces. It would appear, 
then, that the system of dependent tribes was confined to the 
Northern Picts, and this circumstance will, in some degree, 
explain the origin of the seven provinces. 


It has been fully shewn in the previous part of the Work, 
that the Pictish monarchy was an elective one, and that the 
king of the Picts was chosen from among the chiefs of the 
tribes.i Adomnan mentions the existence of a senatus among 
the Picts. This senatus, then, must have been the constitutional 
body by whom the Pictish monarch was elected, or his right 
to the Pictish throne judged of; and it is equally clear that 
it must originally have been formed out of the chiefs of these 
tribes ; but while the Southern Picts consisted of three great 
tribes only, the nature of the country, and other causes inci- 
dental to mountain districts, had caused the division of the 
Northern Picts into a much greater number. Although these 
tribes were probably originally independent of each other, yet 
in a representation of the nation by the heads of its tribes, it 
was absolutely necessary that the one division of the nation 
should not have too great a preponderance over the other, in 
numbers and extent of territory equally powerful ; and in this 
way, I think, arose the arrangement of the tribes of the 
Northern Picts into four provinces, in each of which one tribe 
alone, and probably the most powerful, was selected to form 
a part of the national council, and to which tribes the others 
would soon become dependent. The division of the nation into 
seven provinces was then a political institution, whose origin 
is unknown, for the purpose of preserving the balance between 
the two great branches of the Picts, whose habits of life, and the 
nature of their country, rendered their interests very different ; 
and the seven great chiefs, by whom the seven provinces were 
represented, alone had a voice in the senatus of the nation, and 
constituted the electors of the Pictish monarch, and the judges 
of his right to the throne, when the principle of succession was 

Such, then, was the constitution of the Pictish monarchy 

' Part I., chap. ii. sponsione Apostoli letificati, proelium 
- The seven provinces of the Picts, pararimt ; et diviso exercitu, circa 
and the seven great chiefs who pre- regem siium septem agmina statue- 
sided over them, are plainly alluded runt."— Pinkerton, App. No. 7. 
to in the following passages in the " Altero autem die, evenit regi prae- 
old accounts of the foundation of St. dicto, cum septem comitibus amicissi- 
Andrews :— mis, ambulare."— Pinkerton, App. No. 
" Die autem postero Picti, ex 12. 


previous to the Scottish conquest : let us now see what effect 
that event produced upon the system. Subsequent to this 
event, we have strong reason for thinking that some repre- 
sentation of the Pictish nation as separate and distinct from 
the Scots still continued, for in the reign of Donald, the 
successor of Kenneth Mac Alpin, we find a solemn contract 
entered into between the Goedili on the one hand, and the king 
of the Scots on the other, by which the laws and customs of 
the Dalriadic Scots were introduced, including of course the 
rule of hereditary succession to the throne. 

The second list of the seven provinces contained in Giraldus, 
applies unquestionably to some period subsequent to the Scot- 
tish conquest. The principal variation between this- list and the 
previous one, is the addition of Argyll as a province, and the 
omission of Caithness. The former would be produced by the 
union of the Dalriadic territories to those of the Picts ; the 
latter by the acquisition of Caithness by the Norwegians. The 
six years' forcible occupation of the district by Thorstein in the 
end of the ninth century would not be sufficient to exclude it 
from among the provinces, for that pirate king likewise pos- 
sessed Moray and Ross, which certainly continued as a Scottish 
province ; and it is apparent from this fact that no conquest 
would be sufficient to account for the omission of one of the 
provinces. It must be recollected, however, that Caithness was 
in the possession of the Norwegian Earl of Orkney in the tenth 
century, when no conquest whatever of that district is recorded, 
and the fact that one of the previous earls of Orkney is stated 
by the Sagas to have married the daughter of Duncan, Jarl or 
Maormor of Caithness, affords a strong presumption that he 
acquired that district by succession. The entire separation of 
Caithness from Scotland, and its annexation to the Norwegian 
possessions as an integral part, will appear from a curious 
document printed by Sir Francis Palgrave in his valuable work 
on the Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth. This 
document, in giving a description of Danelaghe, mentions that 
it included " Albania tota qua; modo Scotia vocatur, et Morovia, 
usque ad Norwegiajii et usque Daciam, scilicet, Kathenesia, 
Orkaneya, Enthegal (Inchegall or the Hebrides) et Man,"i &c. 

' Vol. I., p. 572, 


The succession of the earl of Orkney to Caithness, therefore, 
caused the dismemberment of that district from Scotland, and 
that event took place, as appears from the Sagas, about the 
year 925, from which period Caithness must have ceased to 
form one of the seven provinces of Scotland. The only other 
variation which we discover, is, that a part of the province of 
Fife appears afterwards, under the name of Fortreve, which was 
previously the name of the province consisting of Stratherne and 
Menteth. From this it is plain that the Scots actually colonized 
the latter province, and that the remnant of the Pictish tribe 
which had possessed it, took refuge in the neighbouring province 
of Fife, to a part of which they gave their name, and where they 
remained, as well as the relics of the tribe of Fife, entire under 
a dominant Scottish population. The province of Angus seems 
to have continued under its Pictish chief as a tributary province, 
the Pictish Chronicle frequently recording the death of the 
Maormor of Angus, a title peculiar to the Picts,' along with 
that of the kings of Scotland. 

The new arrangement, then, of the seven provinces, by 
which Argyll became a province in place of Caithness, could 
not have taken place prior to the year 925, while previous to 
that date, and subsequent to the Scottish conquest, we find 
that the representation of the Picts as a nation by their Senatus 
still continued. The preservation of the system of the seven 
provinces, taken in connexion with these facts, thus proves that 
the Scots were incorporated into the Pictish system, and that the 
provinces of the Northern Picts were preserved entire, while the 
Scots came in place of the Southern Picts, of whom alone probably 
the Maormor of Angus retained a voice in the national council. 

Such, then, was the constitution of the Scottish monarchy 
established on the overthrow of the Southern Picts, and adopting 
the constitutional form of the conquered kingdom ; preserving, 
until the introduction of the Saxon laws in the twelfth century, 
the national council of seven great chiefs, by whom the right of 
the king to the throne was judged, under the hereditary kings 
of Scottish lineage, who filled the throne of the united nation, 
and thus gave the name of Scot and Scotia, formerly confined 
to the tribe from which they took their origin, to the whole 
country which submitted to their rule. 


We shall now examine what effect the formation of the 
Scoto-Saxon monarchy under Edgar, produced upon this con- 
stitutional bod}'. We have seen that, down to the introduction 
of the Saxon laws into the country, the tribes of Scotland 
existed under the rule of their hereditary Maormors or chiefs 
and that, wherever the old population remained, these Maormors 
adopted the Saxon title of Earl. As this was the highest title 
of honour among the Saxons, it is plain that there would now 
be no distinction in title between the chiefs of the superior 
and those of the subordinate tribes ; and the whole of these 
earls indiscriminately, along with the other earls created by the 
Scoto-Saxon kings, and the crown vassals or thanes, would now 
form the " communitas regni," which constituted the parliament 
of all Teutonic nations. Notwithstanding this, however, as the 
seven great chiefs by whom the seven provinces of Scotland 
were represented, still existed, although they merely enjoyed 
the title of Earl in common with the other chiefs, it is not 
unlikely that we should find them retaining the shadow of this 
ancient national council co-existent with, and independent of, 
the great parliament of the nation, and claiming the privileges 
of the constitutional body of which their ancestors formed the 
members ; that, besides the parliament or communitas regni, 
which included the whole of the earls, with the other crown 
vassals, we should find seveti of the Earls claiming and exer- 
cising the privileges of the body which they represented ; and 
that they would yield with reluctance their position as a 
representation of the seven provinces of Scotland. 

Of the exercise of this right, however, an instance appears 
to have occurred even as late as the reign of Malcolm IV. On 
the death of David I., whose right to the throne had not been 
disputed by any of the factions into which Scotland was divided, 
the claims of his grandson Malcolm were disputed by William, 
commonly called the Boy of Egremont, the great-grandson of 
Malcolm Canmore, king of Scotland, b}' his eldest son Duncan, 
likewise king of Scotland, and he was supported by the Gaelic 
part of the population. 

The Orkneyinga Saga states that " Ingibiorg larlsmoder 
(earl's mother) married Malcolm, king of Scotland, who was 
called Langhals (Canmore) ; their son was Duncan, king of 


Scotland, the father, of WilHam ; he was a good man ; his son 
was William Odlinger (the noble), whom all the Scots wished 
to have for their king!' ^ 

The nation, therefore, in some way expressed a desire to have 
the Boy of Egremont for their king ; and that this expression of 
the desire of the nation was made by the seven earls, appears 
from the following passages. In 1160, the Chronicle of Melrose 
mentions the following event : — " Malcolmus Rex Scotorum 
venit de exercitu Tolosa^, cumque venisset in civitatem quae 
dicitur Pert, Fereteatht cotnes et v. alii comites, irati contra regem 
quia perrexit Tolosam, obsederunt civitatem et regem capere 
voluerunt ; sed praesumtio illorum minime praevaluit." This 
attack by the earls was made in favour of the Boy of Egremont, 
for Winton mentions him as being among the conspirators as 
well as Gilleandres, Earl of Ross ; and the fact that, while 
Winton assures us that the Boy of Egremont and the Earl 
of Ross were present, the Chronicle of Melrose does not include 
either among the six earls, shews very clearly that these six 
carls were acting in some public capacity peculiar to them. 

The following passage in Bower shews equally clearly, 
however, that the demonstration made by the six earls was the 
event alluded to by the Saga, when it says, " whom all the Scots 
wished to have for their king " : — 

" Videntes denique Scotorom proceres nimiam sui regis 
familiaritatem cum Anglorum rege Henrico et amicitiam, turbati 
sunt valde, et omnis Scotia cum illis. Timuerunt enim ne -sua 
familiaritas opprobrium illis pararet et contemptum : quod omni 
studio praicavere conantes, iniserunt legationem post euin, dicentes ; 
nolunius hunc regnare super nos. Propterea reversus ab exercitu 
de Tholosa, Scotiam adveniens, propter diversas causarum 
exigentias, auctoritate regia praelatos jubet et proceres apud bur- 
gum regium de Perth convenire. Concitatis interim regni 
majoribus, sex comites, Ferchard, scilicet. Comes de Strathern et alii 
quinqjie, adversus regem, non utique pro singulari commodo seu 
proditiosa conspiratione, immo reipublics tuitione commoti, ipsum 
capere nisi sunt, quern infra turrim ejusdem urbis obsederunt. 
Cassato pro tunc eorum, Deo disponente, conatu, non multis 

' Orkneyinga Saga, p. 90. 


postmodum diebus evolutis, clero consulente, cum suis 
optimatibus ad concordiam revocatus est.''^ 

It appears, then, that a portion of the earls were considered 
as representing the greater part of the nation ; and we thus trace, 
as late as the twelfth century, the existence of a constitutional 
body, whose origin is lost in the earliest dawn of Pictish history, 
while the incorporation and preservation of the Northern Picts, 
as a distinct portion of the nation, afterwards termed the Scots, 
becomes undoubted. 


^ Fordun, b. Tiii., c. 4. This Tiew then I did not perceive that the 

of the conspiracy in 1160 suggested institution of the seven provinces had 

itself to me on seeing a notice of Sir F. survived the establishment of the 

Palgrave's singular discovery, as until Scoto-Saxon monarchy. 





Traditionary Origins of the Highland Clans— History of High- 
land Tradition— Succession of False Traditions in the 
Highlands— Traces of the Oldest and True Tradition to 
BE found— Effect to be given to the Old Manuscript 
Genealogies of the Highland Clans. 

In the second part of this Work, it is proposed to examine 
the history, individually, of the different clans of the Gael of the 
Highlands of Scotland, to trace the origin of each, their distinc- 
tive designations, descent, branches into which they have 
subsequently spread out, and the affiliation of the different clans 
with respect to each other, with such particulars of their earlier 
history as may seem to be supported by good evidence. 

It has been considered unnecessary to load these accounts 
with the more recent details of family history, as possessing in 
themselves little variety or interest to the general reader, and 
in no respect affecting the main object of this Work — namely, 
that of dispelling the obscurity and inconsistencies in which the 
early history of the Gael has been involved. When the outline 
has been distinctly traced, and the subject reduced to'what it is 
to be hoped may appear a well-founded system of history, that 
outline would admit of being easily filled up, and the notice of 
each individual family brought down in full to the present time, 
were such details compatible with the necessary limits of a Work 
of the present description. 

176 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ir 

In order to explain the nature of the arrangement in which 
the clans have been placed, it will be necessary to recall 
to the recollection of the reader, that one great feature of the 
system of history established in this Work is, that previous to the 
thirteenth century the Highlanders of Scotland were divided into 
a few great tribes, which exactly corresponded with the ancient 
earldoms, and that from one or other of these tribes all the 
Highlanders are descended. Accordingly, the different clans 
will be found under the name of the ancient earldom, or tribe, of 
which they originally formed a part, and, throughout, the relation 
of the different clans to each other will be accurately maintained. 

Before entering, however, upon the history of the High*land 
clans, it may not be amiss to notice an objection which may be 
made to this view of their origin. 

In the early part of this Work it has been demonstrated, so 
far as a fact of that nature is capable of demonstra- 

The Pictisli 

origin of the tion, that the modern Highlanders are the same 

Higliland clans . •ii-ii tt-ii 

contradicted peoplc With those who mhabitcd the Highlands of 

by tradition. -,,,.,., 

Scotland in the ninth and tenth centuries, and that 
these inhabitants were not Scots, as is generally supposed, but 
were the descendants of the great northern division of the Pictish 
nation, who were altogether unaffected by the Scottish conquest 
of the Lowlands in 843, and who in a great measure maintained 
their independence of the kings of that race. It has also been 
shewn that these Northern Picts were a part of the Caledonians, 
the most ancient inhabitants of the country, and that they spoke 
the same language, and bore the same national appellation, 
with the present Highlanders. Now to this idea, it may be 
said, that the traditionary origins at present existing among 
the clans are radically opposed, and that it is difficult to believe 
that, if such was their real origin, a tradition of an opposite 
nature could exist among them. At first sight this objection 
will appear a serious one ; but that arises, in a great measure, 
from not duly investigating the nature and history of the 
Highland traditions. 

In examining the history of the Highland clans, the enquirer 

will first be struck by the diversity of the traditionary 

Highland origins assigned to them. He will find them to have 


been held by some to be originally Irish, by others 


Scandinavian, Norman, or Saxon, and he will find different 
origins assigned to many of the clans, all of which are supported 
by arguments and authorities equally strong. Among so many 
conflicting traditions and systems, he will probably feel himself 
in considerable uncertainty, and the presumption which naturally 
arises in his mind is, that all these systems and traditions are 
equally false, and that the true origin of the Highlanders has 
yet to be discovered. This presumption will be strengthened 
when he remarks, that in none of these traditions is a native 
origin ever assigned to any of the clans, but that, on the 
contrary, they are all brought from some one foreign people 
or another ; a system which reason shows to be as impossible 
as it is unsupported by history and inconsistent with the internal 
condition of the country. But a closer inspection will discover 
to him a still more remarkable circumstance — viz., that there 
Succession ^"'^.s been in the Highlands, from the earliest period, 
Tn t'he^'*''*°* ^ succession of traditions regarding the origin of the 
Highlands. different clans, which are equally opposed to each 
other, and which have equally obtained credit in the Highlands, 
at the time when they severally prevailed. It will be proper, 
therefore, to notice shortly these successive systems of tradi- 
tionary origin which have sprung up at different times in the 
Highlands, and the causes which led to their being adopted 
by the clans. 

The immediate effect of the Scottish conquest, in 843, was 
the overthrow of the civilization and learning of the country. 
The Southern Picts, a people comparatively civilized, and who 
possessed in some degree the monkish learning of the age, were 
overrun by the still barbarous Scottish hordes, assisted by the 
equally barbarous Pictish tribes of the mountains. After this 
event, succeeded a period of confusion and civil war, arising 
from the struggles between the races of the Scots and of the 
Northern Picts, for pre-eminence on the one part, and inde- 
pendence on the other ; and when order and learning once 
more lifted up their heads amongst the contending tribes, a race 
of kings of Scottish lineage were firmly established on the 
throne, and the name of Scot and Scotland had spread over the 
whole country. A knowledge of the real origin of the Highland 
clans was, in some degree, lost in the confusion. The natural 


178 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

result of the pre-eminence of the Scottish name in the country 
was a gradual belief in the Scottish origin of the Highland 
clans ; and this belief, which must eventually have prevailed 
ev'en among the clans themselves, was firmly fixed in their 
minds at an earlier period by a circumstance in the history of 
Scotland which will be afterwards noticed. The 

First general _ , i • i i i i • i 

tradition hrst svstem, then, which produced a change in the 

irisii origin traditional origin of the Highlands may be called 

to the clans. , r- . , r • 7 

the Scottish or ij-ish system. 
The oldest and purest specimen of this tradition which' I 
have been able to discover, is contained in an ancient parchment 
MS., containing genealogies of most of the Highland clans, 
and which, from internal evidence, appears to have been written 
about A.D. 1450. 1 In this MS. the different clans are brought 
from two sources. First, the Macdonalds and their numerous 
dependants are brought from Colla Uais, an Irish king of the 
fourth century ; second, the other clans mentioned in the MS. 
are brought in different lines from Feradach Fin and his son, 
Fearchar Fada, the latter of whom was a king of Dalriada, of 
the line of Lorn, and reigned in the early part of the eighth 
century. I shall state shortly the reasons which induce me to 
think generally that this could not have been the true origin 
of these clans, and that it must have been a .system introduced 
by circumstances, and one which gradually obtained belief 
among the Highlanders. The particular objection to the origin 
of the different clans mentioned in the MS. will be found under 
the head of each clan. In t\-\Q first place, it will be remarked, 
that although the Dalriads consisted of the three different 


^ This MS., the value and importance covering upon it the date of 1467. As 

of which it is impossible to estimate this MS. will be very frequently 

too highly, was discovered by the quoted in the course of this part of 

Author among the MSS. in the collec- the Work, it will be referred to os 

tion of the Faculty of Advocates. " the MS. of 1450," to distinguish it 

After a strict and attentive examina- from the other Gaelic MSS. to which 

tion of its contents and appearance, allusion will be made. Tlie Author 

the Author came to the conclusion may add, that he has printed the text 

that it must have been written by a of the MS. in question, accompanied 

person of the name of M'Lachlan as with a literal English translation, 

early as the year 1450 ; and this con- in the first number of the valuable 

elusion with regard to its antiquity Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, 

was afterwards confirmed by dis- edited by tlie lona Club. 


tribes of Lorn, Cowall, and Kintyre ; and although, as we have 
seen, the tribe of Lorn was almost annihilated, while that of 
Kintyre attained to so great power as eventually to obtain the 
supreme authority over all Scotland, yet the clans in this MS. 
inhabiting the greater part of the Highlands, including the 
extensive districts of Moray and Ross, are all brought from the 
small and almost annihilated tribe of Lorn, and not one from 
anv of the other Dalriadic tribes. It is almost inconceivable 
that the population of such immense districts could have sprung 
from the small tribe of Lorn alone. In the second place, if we 
suppose the general system of the descent of the clans from 
the Dalriadic tribe of Lorn, as contained in the MS., to be 
correct, then the relative affinities of the clans with each other 
will be found at utter variance with those which are known and 
established by authentic documents. The clans brought by 
this MS. from the line of Lorn may be divided into two classes ; 
first, those brought from sons or brothers of Fearchar Fada ; 
secondly, those brought from a certain Cormac Mac Oirbertaigh, 
a descendant of Fearchar. In the second, the Rosses are 
made nearer in connexion to the Macnabs than the Mackinnons, 
and yet there is no tradition of any connexion having subsisted 
between the Rosses and the Macnabs, a connexion which 
distance of abode renders improbable ; while, on the other hand, 
there exists a bond of Manrent between the Macnabs and 
Mackinnons, founded upon their close connexion and descent 
from two brothers. The same remark applies to the Mac- 
gregors, Mackinnons, and Macquarries, who by the MS. are 
made no nearer to each other than they are to the Rosses, 
Mackenzies, &c. If, however, we leave out of view those earlier 
parts of the different genealogies by which the clans are con- 
nected with the kings of the line of Lorn, then we shall find the 
rest of the MS. to be borne out in a most remarkable manner 
by every authentic record of the history of the different clans 
which remains to us. In the third place, those early parts of 
the different genealogies do not agree among themseh-es ; thus, 
Cormac Mac Oirbertaigh is upon different occasions made 
great -great -grandson, great-grandson, grandson, a remote 
descendant, nephew, and brother of Fearchar Fada. 

It will be shewn in another place, that there is every reason 

i8o THE HIGHLANDERS [part ir 

to think that the genealogies contained in the MS. are perfectly 
authentic for the last fourteen generations, or as far back- as the 
year looo A.c, but that previous to that date they are to be 
regarded as altogether fabulous. ^ 

Upon the whole, the only inferences which can be legiti- 
mately drawn from the MS. are, ist — That there was at that 
time an universal belief in the Highlands, that the Highland 
clans formed a distinct people of the same race, and acknow- 
ledging a common origin. 2dly — That the clans mentioned in 
the MS. apparently consist of three great divisions ; the clans 
contained in each division being more closely connected among 
themselves than with those of the other divisions. The first 
consists of the Macdonells and other families descended from 
them. The seco7id, of those clans which are said by the MS. 
to be descended from sons or brothers of Fearchar Fada, and 
who inhabit principally the ancient district of Moray. The 
third is formed by the principal Ross-shire clans, together with 
the clan Alpin, who are brought from Cormac Mac Oirbertaigh. 
The next system of traditionary origins which 

The second . , , . , x t • i t i i i • i 

general tradi- was Hitroduced uito the Highlands, and which sup- 

tion deduced , - , 117- 

theciansfrom planted the lormer, mav be termed the heroic system,. 

the heroes of .",,,. 

Scottish and and may be characterized as deducing many of the 

Irish history. •' 1 • 1 

Highland clans from the great heroes in the fabulous- 
histories of Scotland and Ireland, by identifying one of these- 
fabulous heroes with an ancestor of the clan of the same name. 
This system seems to have sprung up very shortly before the 
date of the MS. before referred to, and to have very soon 
obtained credit in the Highlands, probably in consequence of 
the effect of its flattering character upon the national vanity. 
We can trace the appearance of this system in some of the clans 
contained in the MS. of 1450. It seems to have been first 
adopted by the Macdonalds, who identified two of their ances- 
tors, named Colla and Conn, with Colla Uais and Conn of the 
hundred battles, two celebrated kings of Ireland. In the 
Macneills we actually see the change taking place, for while 
they have preserved their descent in the MS. according to the 
Irish system, they have already identified their ancestor, v/ha 

^ See infra, chap. ii. 


gave his name to the clan, with Neill Xaoi Giall, a king of Ire- 
land, who reigned many hundred years before they existed. In 
the Macgregors we can detect the change taking place in the 
latter part of the 15th century. In a MS. genealogy written in 
the year 1512,1 I find that the Macgregors are brought in a 
direct line from Kenneth Macalpin, a hero famed in fabulous 
history as the exterminator of the whole Pictish nation; whereas, 
in the MS. of 1450, we have seen that their origin is very 
different ; so that this change must have taken place between 
these two periods. The pubhcation of the history of Fordun, 
and the chronicle of Winton, had given a great popular celebrity 
to the heroes of Scottish history, and some of the Highland 
Sennachies finding a tribe of the Macgregors termed Macalpins, 
probably took advantage of that circumstance to claim a descent 
from the great hero of that name. The same cause apparently 
induced them afterwards to desert their supposed progenitor 
Kenneth, and to substitute in his place Gregory the Great, a 
more mysterious, and therefore, perhaps, in their idea, a greater 
hero than Kenneth. 

A similar change may be observed in the traditionary origin 
of the Macintoshes, Mackenzies, Macleans, &c.; the Macintoshes, 
who, in the MS. of 1450, are made a part of the clan Chattan, 
and descended from Gillechattan Mor, the great progenitor of 
that race, appear soon after to have denied this descent, and to 
have claimed as their ancestor, Macduff, the Thane of Fife, him- 
self a ereater and more romantic hero even than Kenneth 
Macalpin. They were, however, unfortunate in this choice, as 
in later times the very existence of Macduff has with some 
reason been doubted, and they were perhaps induced to choose 
him from the fact that the late earls of Fife possessed exten- 
sive property in their neighbourhood, and also that there is some 
reason for thinking that the earls of Fife were actually a branch 
of the same race. 

Not to multipl}' instances of the change of the traditionary 
origins to this system, I shall only mention at present the 
Mackenzies and the Macleans, who, probably, from finding the 
Scotch field occupied, took a wider flight, and claimed descent 

1 MS. penes Highland Society of Scotland. 

i82 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

from a certain Colin Fitzgerald, a scion of the noble family of 
Kildare, who is said to have greatly contributed to the victory at 
Largs in 1266. This origin, it has been seen, was altogether 
unknown in 1450, at which period the Mackenzies were uni- 
^versally believed to have been a branch of the Rosses. 

The last system of Highland origins did not appear till the 
seventeenth century, and is not the production of the 

The last tra- 

dition assigns Highland Sennachies. It may be termed the Nor- 

Norman and . t^ • i 

Norwegian wcgian or Danish system, and sprung up at the 

ancestors to ^ \ ' ^ . ^ , , . 

many of the time whcii the fabulous history of Scotland first 


began to be doubted ; when it was considered to be 
a principal merit in an antiquary to display his scepticism a.^ 
to all the old traditions of the country ; and when the slender 
knowledge of the true history, which they did possess, produced 
in their minds merely a vague idea of the immense extent of 
the Norwegian conquests and settlements in the north of Scot- 
land. Not only was every thing imputed to the Danes, but 
every one was supposed to be descended from them. This idea, 
however, never obtained any great credit in the Highlands. 
The greatest effort of the favourers of this system was that of 
making the ^Nlacleods the direct descendants of the Norwegian 
Icings of j\Iann and the Isles, a descent for which there is not a 
vestige of authority. Besides this, I possess a MS. genealogy 
of the INIacleods, written in the sixteenth century, in which there 
is no mention whatever of such an origin.^ I mav also mention 
the Camerons, who are said to be descended from Cambro, a 
Dane ; the Grants from Acquin de Grandt, a Dane ; the Mac- 
donalds from the Norwegians of the Isles ; the Campbells from 
de Campo-Bello, a Norman ; and many others, but all of which 
are equally groundless, as will be shewn in the sequel. 

Such is a short view of the different systems of descent 
which have sprung up in the Highlands, and of the causes which 
apparently led to their being adopted ; and from these few 
remarks which have been made upon the origin of the Highland 
clans, we may draw two conclusions. In the first place, we 
may conclude that circumstances ma}' cause the traditionary 
origin of the different Highland clans to change, and a new 

^ MS. penes Highland Society of Scotland. 


origin to be introduced, and gradually to obtain general belief; 
and arguing from analogy, the real origin of the Highlanders 
may be lost, and a different origin, in itself untrue, may be 
received in the country as the true one. Farther, in this way 
there may be a succession of traditions in the Highland families, 
all of them differing equally from each other and from the truth. 
In the second place, we may conclude, that although the general 
system of the origin of the clans contained in a MS. may be 
false, yet the farther back we go, there appears a stronger and 
more general belief that the Highland clans formed a peculiar 
and distinct nation, possessing a community of origin, and also, 
that throwing aside the general systems, the affinities of the 
different clans to each other have been through all their changes 
uniformly preserved. 

Such being the case, it is manifest that we should consider 
these old MS. genealogies merely as affording proof 

The old MS. , t • i i i i 

genealogies that the Highland clans were all of the same race, 

merely prove . 

that the Higii- and that in order to ascertain w^hat that race was, we 

land clans pos- 
sessed a com- should look to Other sources. It ha^ already been 

mon ongm. •' 

shewn, from historic authority, that the Highlanders 
of the tenth century were the descendants of the Northern Picts 
of the seventh and eighth. Now, when it appears that the 
Highlanders at that time were divided into several great tribes 

inhabiting those northern districts which were after- 
reaiity de- warcls kiiown as earldoms, and that these tribes had 

scended from , , . , . ^ , . , .... 

the great hereditary chiefs, who appear in the chronicles in 

tribes of the . .... .... , , 

tenth and connexioii With their respective districts, under the 

eleventh cen- ■ y r -\rr i i • i 

tunes, whose title of Maormors — and when it also appears that 

chiefs were 

afterwards in maiiv' of the districts these Maormors of the tenth 

termed earls. 

century can be traced down in succession to the 
reign of David I., at which time, in compliance with the Saxon 
customs then introduced, they assumed the title of Comes, and 
became the first earls in Scotland : — and when it can be shewn 
that in a few generations more, almost all of these great chiefs 
became extinct in the male line ; that Saxon nobles came by 
marriage into possession of their territories and honours ; and 
that then the different clans appear for the first time in these 
districts, and in independence ; we are irresistibly drawn to the 
conclusion, that the Highland clans are not of different or of 

i84 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

foreign origin, but that they were a part of the original nation, 
who have inhabited the mountains of Scotland as far back as 
the memory of man, or the records of history can reach — that 
they were divided into several great tribes possessing their 
hereditary chiefs ; and that it was only when the line of these 
chiefs became extinct, and Saxon nobles came in their place, 
that the Highland clans appeared in the peculiar situation and 
character in which they were afterwards found. 

This conclusion, to which we have arrived by these general 
arguments, is strongly corroborated by a very remarkable cir- 
cumstance : for, notwithstanding that the system of an Irish or 
Dalriadic origin of the Highland clans had been 
^f a'^Hc'tTsh introduced as early as the beginning of the fifteenth 
be'trac^edtn ccntury, wc can still trace the existence in the High- 
landa^'^''" lands, even as late as the sixteenth century, of a still 
older tradition than that contained in the MS. of 
1450 ; a tradition altogether distinct and different from that one, 
and one which not only agrees in a singular manner with the 
system developed in this Work, but which also stamps the 
Dalriadic tradition as the invention of the Scottish monks, and 
accounts for its introduction. 

The first proof of the existence of this tradition which I shall 
bring forward, is contained in a letter dated 1 542, and addressed 
to King Henry VIII. of England, by a person designating him- 
self "John Elder, clerk, a Reddschanke." It will be necessary, 
however, to premise that the author uses the word " Yrische " 
in the same sense in which the word Erse was applied to the 
Highlanders, his word for Irish being differently spelt. In that 
letter he mentions the " Yrische lords of Scotland, commonly 
callit Redd Schankes, and by Jiistoriagraphonris, PiCTIS." 
He then proceeds to give an account of the origin of the High- 
landers ; he describes them as inhabiting Scotland " befor the 
incummynge of Albanactus Brutus second sonne," and as having 
been " gyauntes and wylde people without ordour, civilitie, or 
maners, and spake none other language hut Yrische ; " that they 
were civilized by Albanactus from whom they were " callit 
Albonyghe." And after this account of their origin, he adds, 
" which derivacion the papistical curside spiritualitie of Scotland, 
will not heir in no maner of wyse, nor confesse that ever such a 

CiiAi'. I] OFSCOTLAND 185 

kynge, namede Albanactus reagnedethei'-, the which derivacion all 
the Yrische men of Scotland, which be the auncient stoke, cannot, 
nor will not denye." 

He then proceeds to say, " But our said bussheps drywithe 
Scotland and theme selfes, from a certain lady namede Scota, 
which (as they alledge) came out of Egipte, a raaraculous hote 
cuntreth, to recreatt hirself emonges theame in the colde ayre 
of Scotland, which they can not affernie by no probable auncient 
author!' From the extracts which have been made from this 
curious author, it will at once be seen, that there were at that 
time in Scotland two conflicting traditions regarding the origin 
of the Reddschankes or Highlanders, the one supported by the 
Highlanders of the " more aunciettt stokel' the other by the 
^' curside spiritualitie of Scotland ; " and from the indignation 
and irritation which he displays against the " bussheps," it is 
plain that the latter tradition was fast gaining ground, and 
must indeed have generally prevailed. The last tradition is 
easily identified with that contained in the MS. of 1450, and 
consequently there must have existed among the purer High- 
landers a still older tradition by which their origin was derived 
from the " Pictis." 

The existence of such a tradition in Scotland at the time is 
still further proved by Stapleton's Translation of the Venerable 
Bede, which was written in 1550. In that translation he renders 
the following passage of Bede, " Cugus monasterium in cunctis 
pene septentrionalium Scottorum et omnium Pictorum monas- 
teriis non parvo tempore arcem tenebat," as follows : — " The 
house of his religion was no small time the head house of all 
the monasteries of the northern Scottes, and of the abbyes of 
all the Reddschankes." It would be needless to multiply 
quotations to shew that the Highlanders were at that time 
universally known by the term Reddschankes. 

The accordance of the oldest tradition which can be traced 
in the country, with the conclusion to which a strict and critical 
examination of all the ancient authorities on the subject had 
previously brought us, forms a body of evidence regarding the 
true origin of the Highlanders of Scotland to which the history 
•of no other nation can exhibit a parallel. The authority of John 
Elder, however, not only proves the tradition of the descent of 

i86 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

the Highlanders from the Picts, to have existed in the High- 
lands before the Irish or Dalriadic system was introduced, but 
we can exen ascertain from him the origin of the later system, 
and the cause of its obtaining such universal belief. 

It appears from John Elder's letter, that the clergy of Scot- 
land asserted the descent of the Highlanders from the Scots of 
Dalriada, and that the older Highland families held a different 
tradition, which agrees with the system contained in this Work. 
The object of John Elder's letter, however, was to assure the 
King of England of support in the Highlands in his plans of 
obtaining influence in Scotland, and the Highland chiefs who 
held this older tradition are just those whom he afterwards 
names to King Henry as in the English interest. Now it is 
very remarkable, that the first trace of the Dalriadic system 
which we can discover, is in the famous letter addressed to the 
Pope in 1320 b)- the party who asserted the independence of 
Scotland. To this party the clergy of Scotland unquestionably 
belonged, while it is equally clear that the Highland chiefs, with 
very few exceptions, belonged to the English party ; and upon 
comparing the traditionary history upon which Edward I. 
founded his claim, and which of course his party in Scotland 
must have believed, we actualh' find it to be a part of the 
same tradition which John Elder asserts to have been held 
by the older Highland families, and which included a belief 
of their descent from the Picts. The cause of the prevalence 
of the Scottish story is now clear ; for the question of the 
independence of Scotland having been most improperly placed 
by the two parties on the truth of their respective traditions, 
it is plain that as the one part}' fell, so would the tradition 
which the}' asserted ; and that the final supremacy of the 
independent part}' in the Highlands, as well as in the rest of 
Scotland, and the total ruin of their adversaries, must have 
established the absolute belief in the descent of the High- 
landers, as well as the kings and clergy of Scotland, from the 
Scots of Dalriada. 

We see, however, from John Elder, that, notwithstanding 
the succession of false traditions which prevailed in the High- 
lands at different times, traces of the true one were still to 
be found. 


This remark, however, is true also of the traditionary origins 
of individual clans, as well as of the Highlanders in general ; 
for although tradition assigns to them an origin which is untrue, 
still we can invariably trace in some part of that tradition the 
real story, although it assumes a false aspect and colouring from 
its being connected with a false tradition. 

The most remarkable instance of this occurs in those clans 
who assert a Scandinavian or Norman origin ; for we invariably 
find, in such cases, that their tradition asserted a marriage of 
the foreign founder of their race with the heiress of that family 
of which they were in reality a branch. Thus, the Macintoshes 
assert that they are descended from the Earl of Fife, and 
obtained their present lands by marriage with the heiress of 
clan Chattan, and yet they can be proved to have been from 
the beginning a branch of that clan. The Campbells say that 
they are a Norman family, who married the heiress of Paul 
O'Duibhne, lord of Lochow, and yet they can be proved to be 
descended from the O'Duibhnes. The Grants, who are a sept 
of the clan Alpin, no sooner claimed a foreign descent from 
the Danish Acquin de Grandt, than they asserted that their 
ancestor had married the heiress of Macgregor, lord of Freuchie; 
the Camerons and Mackenzies, when they assumed the Danish 
Cambro and the Norman Fitzgerald for their founders, asserted 
a marriage with the heiresses of Macmartin and Matheson, of 
which families they can be proved to have been severally 
descended in the male line. The first thing which strikes us 
as remarkable in this fact is, that the true tradition invariably 
assumes the same aspect, although that a false one, with regard 
to all the clans ; and there is also another fact with regard to 
these clans which will probably throw some light upon the 
cause of the adoption of a false tradition, and the singular 
and unvarying aspect which the true one assumes — viz., that" 
most of the families who assert a foreign origin, and account 
for their position at the head of a Highland clan by a marriage 
with the heiress of its chief, are just those very families, and 
no other, whom we find using the title of captain ; and that 
the family who' oppose their title to the chiefship invariably 
assert a male descent from the chief whose daughter they are 
said to have married. The word captain implies a person in 


actual possession of the leading of the clan who has no right 
b\' blood to that station ; and it will afterwards be proved that 
every family who used the title of captain of a particular clan, 
were the oldest cadets of that clan, who had usurped the leading 
of it, to the prejudice of the chief by blood. Now, as the 
identity of the false aspect which the true tradition assumes 
in all of these cases, implies that the cause was the same in 
all, we may assume that wherever these two circumstances are 
to be found combined, of a clan claiming a foreign origin, and 
asserting a marriage with the heiress of a Highland family, 
whose estates they possessed and whose followers they led, 
they must invariably have been the oldest cadet of that family, 
who by usurpation or otherwise had become de facto chief 
of the clan, and who covered their defect of right by blood 
by den}'ing their descent from the clan, and asserting 
that the founder of their house had married the heiress of its 

The general deduction from the MS. genealogies of the 
Highland clans is, that the various clans were divided into 
several great tribes, the clans forming each of these separate 
tribes being deduced by the genealogies from a common 
ancestor, while a marked distinction is drawn between the 
different tribes, and indications can at the same time be 
traced in each tribe, which identify them with the earldoms 
or maormorships into which the north of Scotland was 
anciently divided. 

This will appear from the following table of the dis- 
tribution of the clans by the old genealogies into different 
tribes : — 

I. Descend.\nts of Conx of the Hundred Battles. 

The Lords of the Isles, or 

The Macdougalls. 
The Macneills. 

The Maclauchlans. 

The Macewens. 

The Maclaisrichs. 

The Maceacherns. 

II. Descend.\nts of Ferchar Fata Mac Feradaig. 

The Otd Maormors of Moray. 
The Macintoshes. 

The Macphersons. 
The Macnauchtons. 


III. Descendants of Cormac Mac Oirbertaig. 

The Old Earls of Ross. 
The Mackenzies. 
The Mathiesons. 
The Macgiegors. 

The Mackinnons. 
The Macquarries. 
The Macnabs. 
The Macduffies. 

IV. Descendants of Fergus leith dearg. 
The Macleods. | The Campbells. 

V. Descendants of Krycul. 
The Macnicols. 

In the following notices of the Highland clans we shall 
take the various great tribes into which the Highlanders were 
originally divided, and which are identic with the old earldoms, 
in their order ; and after giving a sketch of the history and 
fall of their ancient chiefs or earls, we shall proceed, under 
the head of each tribe, to the different clans which formed a 
part of that tribe, and then for the first time appeared in 

190 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 


I. The Gallgael. 

When the Norse Sagas and Irish Annals first throw their 
steady though faint hght upon the history of the 

The Gallgael. ,r,-, i ,•• , • i 

north oi Scotland, we can distinctly trace, in the 
restless warfare at that period excited by the incessant incur- 
sions of the northern pirates, the frequent appearance of a 
people termed by the Irish annalists the Gallgael, or Gaelic 
pirates. The northern pirates were at that time known to 
the Irish writers by the name of Fingall and Dugall, the 
former being applied to the Norwegians, the latter to the 
Danes. The word Gall, originally signifying a stranger, came 
to be applied to every pirate, and we find a strong distinction 
invariably implied between the white and the black Galls, 
and those to whom they added the name of Gael, or Gaelic 
Galls. The latter people are first mentioned in the Irish 
Annals in the year 855, when we find them assisting the Irish 
against the Norwegians ; and in the following year they again 
appear under their leader, Caittil fin, or the white, at war with 
the Norwegian pirate kings of Dublin. In 1034, Tighernac 
mentions the death of Suibne, the son of Kenneth, king of the 
Gallgael ; and in 1 1 54 we find mention made of an expedition 
to Ireland by the " Gallgael of .-^rran, Kintyre, Man, and the 
Cantair Alban." This last passage proves that the Gallgael 
were the inhabitants of the Isles and of Argyll, the expression 
Cantair Alban being equivalent to the Oirir Alban or Oirir 
Gael of other writers, and to the Ergadia of the Scottish 
historians ; and as Arefrodi, the oldest Norse writer which we 
possess, mentions the occupation of the Western Isles, on the 
departure of Harold Harfagr, by Vikingr Skotar, a term which 
is an exact translation of the appellation Gallgael, it seems 
clear that the Gallgael must have possessed the Isles as well 


as Argyll, from the period of the Scottish conquest, in the 
ninth century, to the middle of the twelfth, while the expression 
of Are frodi equally clearly implies that they were native Scots 
and not Norwegians. 

The Gallgael were certainly independent in the ninth cen- 
tury, and also in the beginning of the eleventh, when a king 
of the race is mentioned ; it is therefore not improbable that 
the kings of the Isles between these periods were of this race. 
The first king of the Isles who is mentioned is Anlaf, who 
attempted, in conjunction with Constantine, the Scottish king, 
to obtain possession of Northumberland, but was defeated by 
Athelstan, the Saxon king, at Brunanburgh, in 938. Anlaf is 
styled by the Saxon historians, Rex plurimarum insularum, 
and that he was king of the Western Isles, and of the same 
race with the Gallgael, is put beyond all doubt by the Egilla 
Saga, which ancient document not only calls him a king in 
Scotland, but expressly states that he had Danish blood from 
his mother, who was a Dane, and a descendant of Regnar 
Lodbrog, but that Jiis father zvas a native Scot^ Anlaf was 
the son of Sidroc, who was put by the Danes in possession of 
Northumberland ; and as Anlaf is called by the Irish writers 
grandson of Ivar, and it is well known that Ivar was a son 
of Regnar Lodbrog, it follows from the passage in the Egi'lla 
Saga, that Sidroc must have been a native Scot of the race 
of the Gallgael, who married the daughter of Ivar, the principal 
leader of the Danish pirates, and was made by him king of 
the Northumbrians. But it would farther appear that Sidroc 
was the brother of the king of the Gallgael, for the Saxon 
historians mention, in 914, the death of Nial rex by his 
brother Sidroc. Sidroc was at this time in possession of 
Northumberland, so that king Nial was probably the king 
of the Gallgael, and on his unnatural death was succeeded by 
his nephew Anlaf 

In ascertaining the earlier kings of this race we are assisted 
by the Manx traditions. Sacheveral, in his curious work on 

' Egilla Saga. — Olafr Raudi liet at modur kyni oc kominn af aett 
konungr a Skotlandi liann var Ragnars Lodbrokar. 
Skotzkr at faudr kyni enn Danskr 

192 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

the Isle of Man, mentions that there was a very old tradition, 
that previous to the conquest of the Island by Godred Crovan, 
in the end of the eleventh century, it was ruled by twelve 
successive kings of the same race, the first of whom was named 
Orree, and conquered the island about the middle of the ninth 
centur}-. This tradition is very remarkably confirmed, for we 
recognise in the names of these kings the kings of the Isles 
of the race of Sidroc, of whom Anlaf is the first mentioned 
by the historians, while the first of them is said to have 
conquered Man at the very time when, as we have seen, the 
Gallgael took possession of the Western Isles. The accuracy 
of the tradition, however, is still farther evinced by the fact 
that the Lodbrogar quida, an authentic and almost contem- 
porary record of the piratical expeditions of Regnar Lodbrog, 
in describing an attack upon the Western Isles by Regnar, 
in 850, actually mentions that he slew Aurn conungr, or king 
Aurn at Isla. The resemblance of name is sufficient to identify 
him with the Orree of the Manx tradition, and it would thus 
appear that the Gallgael, a native tribe, had under their king 
Orree, or Aurn, taken possession of the Western Isles and 
Man shortly after the date of the Scottish conquest in 843. 
It is now clear who these Gallgael were, for they possessed 
Argyll as well as the Isles ; and it has been previously shewn, 
that the whole of Argyll was, immediately after the Scottish 
conquest in 843, possessed by the tribe of the Caledonii," who 
had previously inhabited the districts of Atholl, Lochaber, and 
North Argyll. The Pictish origin of the Gallgael is, however, 
established by another circumstance. The territories occupied 
by the Gallgael in the ninth century constituted exactly the 
diocese of Dunkeld. The first measure of Kenneth M'Alpin, 
on his conquest of the southern Picts, was to establish the 
Culdee Church over the whole of the conquered territory, and 
in consequence of this great extension of that church, he found 
it necessary to remove the primacy from lona to Dunkeld. 
With this church the primacy remained until the reign of 
Grig, when the primacy was removed from Dunkeld to St. 
Andrews ; and the Scots appear to have obtained the removal 

1 See Part I., p. G7. 


of their subjection to the diocese of Dunkeld, as the price of 
their submission to the usurper Grig. The expression of the 
chronicle in narrating this event is remarkable — 

" Qui dedit Ecclesia libertates Scoticatice, 
Qu£E sub Pictorum lege redacta fuit ;"^ 

and the inference is clear that the inhabitants of the diocese 
of Dunkeld at least, that is, the Gallgael, were at that time 
Picts. The early history of this tribe is now sufficiently clear: 
on the conquest of the southern Picts by the Scots, they 
obtained possession of Dalriada, which, along with their pre- 
vious possessions of Lochaber and Wester Ross, now received 
the appellation of Oirir Gael, or the Coastlands of the Gael, 
probably in contradistinction to their inland possessions of 
Atholl ; and a few years afterwards they added the Western 
Isles to their now extensive territories. Here their king, Aurn, 
was slain by Regnar. As Regnar immediately after this 
attacked the Fingall in Ireland, and continued at war with 
them for some years ; and as at the same period we find the 
Gallgael, under their leader Caittil fin, also engaged in hostili- 
ties with the Fingall, it is probable that Regnar had compelled 
them to join him, and that it was in consequence of this union, 
and of the pirate life which they were compelled to adopt, that 
they obtained the Irish name of Gallgael, and the Norse appella- 
tion of Vikingr Skotar. On the arrival of the sons of Regnar, 
in 865, to avenge their father's death, Caittil appears to have 
joined them with his Gallgael, and is probably the same person 
with the Oskytel, whom the Saxon historians mention as one of 
the leaders in that expedition. His successor was Neil, who 
was put to death by his own brother Sidroc, who, having married 
the daughter of Ivar, the son of Regnar Lodbrog, had, on the 
success. of the expedition, been put in possession of Northumber- 
land. On Sidroc's death, his son Anlaf found himself unable 
to retain possession of Northumberland, but held the Scottish 
territories of his race, from whence he made two unsuccessful 
attempts to regain Northumberland. The next king of the 
Isles mentioned by the historians, is Maccus, styled by the 
Saxon writers " rex plurimarum insularum," and by the Irish 

^Cliron. Eleg. 


194 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

writers, the son of Arailt. It appears from the same writers 
that he was Anlafs nephew, for they style Arailt the grandson 
of Ivar and son of Sidroc. Maccus was succeeded by his 
brother, Godfrey Mac Arailt, who was slain in an Irish 
expedition in 987, and not long after his death the Isles were 
conquered, along with a considerable part of the north of 
Scotland, by Sigurd, the earl of Orkney. Among the Scottish 
earls mentioned by the Sagas as reconquering the north of 
Scotland from Sigurd, is Hundi or Kenneth. He 
was probably the same Kenneth who was father of 
Suibne, king of the Gallgael in 1034, and at the same time m.ust 
have been son of Godfrey, as we find Ranald Mac Godfrey king 
of the Isles in 1004. On Ranald's death, in 1004, Suibne, the 
son of Kenneth, reigned over this tribe until 1034, when, as his 
death exactly .synchronises with the conquest of the Isles and 
the whole of the north of Scotland by Thorfinn, the earl of 
Orkney, it would appear that he had been slain by that power- 
ful earl in the unsuccessful defence of his territories. From 
this period there is no mention of any king of the Gallgael, 
and it is certain that the subsequent kings of the Isles were 
not of this race. It is therefore apparent that this petty king- 
dom never afterwards rose to the same state in which it had 
been before the conquest of Thorfinn, and that the different 
septs into which the tribe became separated on the death of 
their king in 1034, never again united under one head. We 
shall now, therefore, trace the origin and history of the various 
septs whom we find inhabiting these districts at a later period, 
under the two great divisions of Arg}'ll and Atholl. 


The ancient district of Argyll consisted of the present 
county of that name, together with the districts of Lochaber 
and Wester Ross, and was known to the Highlanders by the 
name of the Cantair, or Oirir, Alban, and sometimes of Oirirgael, 
whence the present name is derived. The present district of 
Wester Ross was termed by them Oirir an tuath, or the 
Northern coastlands, and the remaining part received the 
name of the Oirir an deas, or Southern coastlands. From 


the previous history of this district, it is probable that this 
name was derived from its forming the maritime part of the 
territories of the Gallgael, in opposition to their inland pos- 
sessions of Atholl. By the historians, the whole of this 
extensive district is included under the term of Ergadia, and 
the northern and southern divisions under those of Ergadia 
Borealis and Ergadia Australis. When the Saxon polity of 
sheriffdoms was introduced into Scotland, the government 
had not such a secure footing in the Highlands as to enable 
them to distribute it into numerous sheriffdoms, and thus to 
force obedience to the laws, by means of the sheriffs, every- 
where established, as they did in the Lowlands. Such a 
subjection to royal authority in the person of sheriffs could 
only in the Highlands be a nominal one, but the principles 
of the Saxon polity then introduced, required that the whole 
country should either nominally or really be distributed into 
sheriffdoms, and accordingly the whole of the Highlands was 
divided into two, the districts north of the Mounth forming 
the sheriffdom of Inverness, while those south of that range 
were included in the sheriffdom of Perth. In this state the 
Highlands remained till the reign of Alexander II., divided 
into two sheriffdoms, each of which in extent resembled more 
a petty kingdom than the sheriffdom of the rest of the 
country ; and that sheriff-making monarch revived the Saxon 
policy of bringing conquered districts under permanent sub- 
jection to the laws and government, by erecting them into a 
new and separate sheriffdom, and thus arose the additional 
shires of Elgin, Nairn, Banff, Cromarty, and Argyll. In this 
way, previous to the reign of Alexander II., the districts of 
North and South Argyll were included in separate shires, the 
former being in Inverness, the latter in Perth. To the Norse 
the whole district was known by the name of Dala, under 
which appellation it is first mentioned in the end of the 
tenth century, and is included among the conquests of Sigurd, 
the second of that name, Earl of Orkney, and the same term 
is used by the Norse writers for this district down to the end 
of the twelfth century. In 1093 the Western Isles were con- 
quered by Magnus Barefoot, king of Norway, and the conquest 
was confirmed to him by ^Malcolm Kenmore, then commencing 

196 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

the expedition into England, in which he lost his life, who 
resigned to Magnus all the Western Isles round which he 
could sail in a boat of a particular size, but Magnus causing 
his boat to be dragged across the isthmus which unites Kintyre 
and Knapdale, asserted that the former district came within 
the description of those which were resigned to him, and thus 
was Kintyre separated from Argyll, ^ and united to the kingdom 
of the Isles, of which it ever afterwards formed a part. This 
great district of Argyll was inhabited by a number of power- 
ful clans, of which the most potent were the Macdonalds and 
other clans of the same race, who exercised for a long period 
an almost regal sway in these regions, and who were anciently 
included under the general designation of the Siol Cuinn, or 
race of Conn, a remote ancestor of the tribe. 

Siol Cjiimi. 

This tribe was one far too distinguished to escape the 
grasping claims of the Irish Sennachies, and accordingly it 
appears to have been among the very first to whom an Irish 
origin was imputed ; but later antiquaries, misled by the close 
connection which at all times subsisted between the Macdonalds 
and the Norwegians of the Isles, have been inclined rather 
to consider them as of Norwegian origin. Neither of these 
theories, however, admit of being borne out either by argument 
or authority. The followers of the Irish system can only 
produce a vague tradition in its support against the manifest 
improbability of the supposition that a tribe possessing such 
extensive territories in Scotland should have been of foreign 
origin, while history is altogether silent as to the arrival of 
any such people in the country. Besides this, it has been 
formerly shewn that there is reason to regard the Irish tradi- 
tions in Scotland as of but late origin. As to the Norwegian 
theory, it has principally arisen from its supporters having 
overlooked the fact, that when the Danish and Norwegian 
pirates ravaged the shores of Scotland, and brought its inhabi- 
tants under their subjection, the conquered Gael adopted in 

' Magnus Barefoot's Saga. 


some degree the Norwegian habits of piracy, and took fre- 
quently an active share in their predatory expeditions. These 
Gael are termed, as we have seen in the Irish Annals, Gallgael, 
or the Norwegian Gael, to distinguish them from those Gael 
who were independent of the Norwegians, or who took no 
part in their expeditions, and we have every reason to think 
consisted principally of the Siol Cuinn. 

The traditions of the Macdonalds themselves tend to shew 
that they could not have been of foreign origin. The whole 
of the Highlands, and especially the districts possessed by 
the Gallgael, were inhabited by the northern Picts, as we 
have seen, at least as late as the eleventh century. In the 
middle of the twelfth, the Orkneyinga Saga terms Somerled 
and his sons, who were the chiefs of this tribe, the Dalveria 
Aett, or Dalverian family, a term derived from Dala, the 
Norse name for the district of Argyll, and which implies that 
they had been for some time indigenous in the district ; and 
this is confirmed in still stronger terms by the Flatey-book, 
consequently the Macdonalds were either the descendants of 
these Pictish inhabitants of Argyll, or else they must have 
entered the country subsequently to that period. 

But the earliest traditions of the family uniformly bear 
that they had been indigenous in Scotland from a much earlier 
period than that. Thus, James Macdonell, of Dunluce, in a 
letter written to King James VI., in 1596, has this passage — 
" Most mightie and potent prince, recommend us unto }'Our 
hieness with our service for ever your grace shall understand 
that our forebears hathe been from time to time ^ your servants 
unto your own kingdome of Scotland." And again, in 161 5, 
Sir James Macdonald, of Kintyre, exp^-esses himself, in a letter 
to the Bishop of the Isles, in these words — " Seeing my race 
has been teufie hu7idrcd years kyndlie Scottismen under the 
kings of Scotland — ." Although many other passages of a 
similar nature might be produced, these instances may for the 
present suffice to shew that there existed a tradition in this 
family of their having been natives of Scotland from time 

^ The expression of " from time to documents, always signifies from time 
time," when it occurs in ancient immemorial. 

198 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

immemorial ; and it is therefore scarcely possible to suppose 
that they could have entered the country subsequently to the 
ninth century. But besides the strong presumption that the 
Macdonalds are of Pictish descent, and formed a part of the 
great tribe of the Gallgael, .ve fortunately possess distinct 
authority for both of these facts. For the former, John Elder 
includes the Macdonalds among the ancient Stoke, who still 
retained the tradition of a Pictish descent, in opposition to 
the later tradition insisted in by the Scottish clergy, and this 
is sufficient evidence for the fact that the oldest tradition 
among the Macdonalds must have been one of a Pictish 
origin. The latter appears equally clear from the last mention 
of the Gallgael, in which they are described as the inhabitants 
of Argyll, Kintyre, Arran, and Man ; and as these were at 
this very period the exact territories which Somerled possessed, 
it follows of necessity that the Macdonalds were the same 

The identity of the Gallgael with the tribe ov-er which 
Somerled ruled as hereditary chief, being thus established, 
the independent kings of the Gallgael must in all probability 
have been his ancestors, and ought to be found in the old 
genealogies of the family. The last independent king of the 
Gallgael was Suibne, the son of Kenneth, whose death is- 
recorded in 1034, and exactly contemporary with this Suibne, 
the MS. of 1450, places a Suibne among the ancestors of 
Somerled ; accordingly, as the Gallgael and the Macdonalds 
were the same tribe, the two Suibnes must have been meant 
for the same person. But the MS. makes the name of Suibne's 
father to have been Nialgusa, and there does not occur a 
Kenneth in the genealogy at all. As an authority upon this 
point, Tighernac must be preferred, and his account is cor- 
roborated by most of the old Scottish writers, who mention the 
existence at that time of a Kenneth, Thane of the Isles ; and 
farther, at the very same period, as we have seen, one of the 
northern Maormors who opposed Sigurd, earl of Orkney, was 
named Kenneth. We must consequently receive Tighernac's 
account as the most accurate ; but above Kenneth we find 
the two accounts again different, for there is no resemblance 
whatever between the previous kings of the Gallgael and the 


earlier part of the Macdonald genealogies ; and the MS. of 
1450, without mentioning any of these kings at all, leads the 
genealogy amongst the Irish kings and heroes. 

Here then we have the point where the fabulous genealogies 
of the Highland and Irish Sennachies zvere comiected with the 
genuine history. 

The MS. of 1450 is supported in its genealogy of the 
Macdonalds by all other authorities up to Suibne, and here 
the true history, as contained in the Irish Annals and the 
genealogy of the MS., separate; the one mentions the Gallgaels 
under their leaders as far back as the year 856, while the other 
connects Suibne by a different genealogy altogether with the 
Irish kings. It is obvious, then, that this is the point where 
the Irish genealogies were connected with the real line of the 
chiefs, and an examination of this MS. will shew that the 
period where the genealogies of the other clans were also 
connected with the Irish kings was the same. We may there- 
fore conclude, that previous to the eleventh century the MS. 
of 1450, and the Irish genealogies of the Highland clans, are 
of no authority whatever, and consequently, that the Siol Cuinn 
is of native origin. ' 

After the death of Suibne we know nothing of the history 
of the clan until we come to Gille Adomnan, the grandfather 
of Somerled, who, according to the fragment of an ancient 
Gaelic MS., was driven out of his possession in Scotland by 
the violence of the Lochlans and Fingalls, and took refuge 
in Ireland. The expedition of Magnus Barefoot in 1093 is 
probably here alluded to. The same authority proceeds to 
inform us, that " whilst Gillebride Mac Gille Adomnan was 
residing in Ireland, the descendants of Colla, consisting of the 
Macquarries and Macmahones, held a great meeting and 
assembly in Fermanagh, the county of Macquire, regarding 
Gillebride's affairs, how they might restore to him his patrimony, 
which had been abdicated from the violence of the Lochlan 
and Fingalls. When Gillebride saw such a large body of the 
Macquires assembled together, and that they were favourable 
to his cause, he besought them to embark in his quarrel, and 
to assist the people in Scotland who were favourable to him 
in an attempt to win back the possession of the country. The 

200 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

people declared themselves v/illing to go, and four or five 
hundred put themselves under his command. With this com- 
pany Gillebride proceeded to Alban, and came on shore ." ^ 

Here, unfortunately, the fragment concludes abruptly, but it 
would appear that this expedition was unsuccessful, for another 
MS. history of considerable antiquity, but of which the 
beginning is also lost, commences with these words — " Somer- 
led, the son of Gilbert, began to muse on the low condition 
and misfortune to which he and his father were reduced, and 
kept at first very retired." But Somerled was a person of 
no ordinary talents and energy ; he put himself at the head 
of the inhabitants of Morven, and by a series of rapid attacks 
he succeeded, after a considerable struggle, in expelling the 
Norwegians, and in making himself master of the whole of 
Morven, Lochaber, and North Argyll. He soon afterwards 
added the southern districts of Argyll to his other possessions, 
and David I. having at this period conquered the 

A.D. 1035. . & r M 

islands of Man, Arran, and Bute, from the Nor- 
wegians, he appears to have held these islands of the king of 
Scotland ; but still finding himself unable, in point of strength, 
to cope with the Norwegians of the Isles, he, with true Highland 
policy, determined to gain these ancient possessions of his 
family by peaceful succession, since he could not acquire them 
by force of arms ; and accordingly with that intent he prevailed, 
by a singular stratagem, in obtaining the hand of the daughter 
of Olaf the Red, the Norwegian king of the Isles, in marriage. 
Of this union the fruit was three sons, Ducrall, Resfinald, 
and Angus ; by a previous marriage he had an only son, 

Somerled, having now attained to very great power in the 
Highlands, resolved to make an attempt to place his grandsons, 
the sons of Winiund or Malcolm ^NI'Heth, who had formerly 
claimed the earldom of Moray, in possession of their alleged 
inheritance. This unfortunate earldom seems to have been 
doomed by fate to become, during a succession of many cen- 
turies, the cause of all the rebellions in which Scotland was 
involved ; and it now brought the Regulus of Argyll, as 

^ MS. penes Highland Society of Scotland. 

CHAP. II] O F S C O T L A N D 201 

Somerled is termed by the Scottish historians, for the first 
time in opposition to the king. Of the various events of 
this war we are ignorant, but from the words of an ancient 
chronicle it appears to have excited very great alarm among 
the inhabitants of Scotland. In all probability Somerled had 
found it expedient to return speedily to the Isles, by the 
recurrence of events there of more immediate importance to 
himself than the project of establishing his grandsons in their 
inheritance ; for Godred, the Norwegian king of the Isles, and 
brother-in-law to Somerled, having at this time given loose 
to a tyrannical disposition, and having irritated his vassals 
by dispossessing some of their lands, and degrading others 
from their dignities, Thorfinn, the son of Ottar, one of the 
most powerful of the Norwegian nobles, determined to depose 
Godred, as the only means of obtaining relief, and to place 
another king on the throne of the Isles. For this purpose 
Thorfinn went to Somerled, and requested that he might have 
Dugall, his eldest son, who was Godred's nephew by his sister, 
in order to make him king in his place. Somerled rejoiced at 
the prospect of thus at last obtaining his object, and delivered 
up Dugall to the care of Thorfinn, who accordingly took the 
young prince, and conducting him through the Isles, compelled 
the chiefs of the Isles to acknowledge him for their sovereign, 
and to give hostages for their allegiance. 

One of them, however, Paul Balkason, a powerful noble- 
man, who was Lord of Sky, refused to make the required 
acknowledgment, and, fl}'ing to the Isle of Man, acquainted 
Godred with the intended revolution. Alarmed at the intelli- 
gence, Godred instantly ordered his vassals to get tl^eir ships 
ready, and without delay, sailed to meet the enemy. He 
found that Somerled had already prepared for the expected 
struggle, and was advancing towards him with a fleet of eighty 
galleys. " A sea battle," says the Chronicle of Man, " was 
fought between Godred and Somerled during the night of 
the Epiphany, with great slaughter on both sides. Next 
morning, however, at daybreak, they came to a 
compromise, and divided the sovereignity of the 
Isles ; so from that period they have formed two distinct 
monarchies till the present time. The ruin of the Isles may 

202 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

be dated from the moment when part of them were ceded to 
the sons of Somerled. By this treaty, Somerled acquired all 
the islands south of the point of Ardnamurchan, but he no 
sooner found himself in secure possession of these islands than 
he was again involved in hostilities with the government, 
having joined the powerful party in Scotland who at this 
time determined to dethrone Malcolm IV. and place the Boy 
of Egremont on the throne, and in prosecution of that design 
commenced to infest the shores of Scotland with his fleet. 
On the failure of this attempt, Malcolm appears at length to 
have discovered that Somerled was becoming too powerful 
to be permitted to remain in the state of partial independence 
which he had assumed ; he accordingly demanded that Somerled 
should resign his lands into the king's hands, and hold them 
in future as his vassal, and he prepared to enforce his demand 
by the aid of a powerful army. Somerled, however, emboldened 
by his previous successes, was little disposed to yield compliance 
to the king's desire, but on the contrary, resolved to anticipate 
the attack. Collecting* his fleet accordingly from among the 
Isles, he soon appeared in the Clyde, and landed at Renfrew. 
Here he was met by the Scottish army under the command 
of the High Steward of Scotland, and the result 
of the battle which ensued was the defeat and 
death of Somerled, together with his son, Gillecolum. 

This celebrated chief is described by an ancient Seimachie 
to have been " a well-tempered man, in body shapely, of a 
fair piercing eye, of middle stature, and of quick discernment." 
His territories at his death were very considerable, compre- 
hending the whole of the district of Argyll, the original 
possession of the clan, and that portion of the Hebrides 
termed by the Norwegians the Sudreys. These great pos- 
sessions, which he had acquired by his own personal exertions, 
did not descend entire to his successor ; for, although his 
grandson, Somerled, the son of Gillecolum, succeeded to 
the whole of his Highland territories, the Isles, with the 
exception of Arran and Bute, had come to him with his wife, 
and consequently descended to Dugall, his eldest son by 
that marriage. 

For a period of upwards of fifty years after the death of 

AD. 11(34 ^ 


Somerled, his grandson of the same name ^ appears to have 
remained in undisturbed possession of the extensive territories 
on the mainland of Scotland, to which he succeeded ; and 
although we do not find him during that period in active 
rebellion, or offering any decided opposition to the govern- 
ment, yet there is reason to think that he formed the principal 
support to the numerous rebellions raised during that period 
in favour of the rival family of Mac William. 

He appears, however, to have rendered a more active 

assistance to the last attempt made by that family in 1221, 

and the king probably took advantage of that 

A.D. 1221. i= t' J & 

occasion to make an effort to reduce him more 
efifectuall}' under his power, for in that year, Alexander, 
having collected an army in Lothian and Galloway, attempted 
to penetrate the recesses of Argyll by sea, but was beat back 
by a tempest, and forced to take refuge in the Clyde. On 
the failure of this attempt, Alexander was not discouraged, 
but was resolved to attempt an expedition by land. He 
collected a large army from every quarter, and entered Argyll, 
and whether it is to be attributed to the military skill of the 
royal leader, or, as is more probable, to the incompetency of 
his adversary, and the divisions which have always existed 
in a Celtic country so extensive as that ruled by him, yet 
certain it is that in this year the king made himself master 
of the whole of Argyll, and Somerled took refuge in the Isles, 
where he met a violent death eight years afterwards. 

According to Winton, the most honest and trustworthy of 
all our chroniclers — 

" De kyng that yhere Argyle wan 
Dat rebell wes til hym befor than 
For wythe hys Ost thare in wes he 
And Athe' tuk of thare Fewte, 

' The Scottish Historians and High- a Norse Saga, which mentions a 

land Sennachies are unanimous in Somerled a king, and calls him a 

asserting that Somerled was sue- relation of Duncan, the son of Dugall. 

ceeded hy another Somerled, who I have ventured to call him son of 

rebelled against Alexander II. in Gillecolum, and grandson of Somerled, 

1221 ; and their account is confirmed as the only probable supposition, 
by the Anecdotes of Olave the Black, 


Wyth thare serwys and thare Homage, 
Dat of hym wald hald thare Herytage, 
But of the Ethchetys of the lave 
To the Lordis of that land he gave." 

By " the Lordis of that land," to whom the forfeited estates 
were given, Winton means the foreign vassals placed there by 
Alexander, for Fordun is quite distinct that those who had 
offended the king too deeply to hope for pardon fled, and 
their properties were bestowed upon those who had followed 
the army into Argyll. The general effect of this conquest, 
as it may well be called, was that the district of Argyll was 
no longer under the rule of a single lord. Wherever those 
who had previously held their possessions as vassals of Somerled 
submitted to the king and were received into favour, they 
became crown vassals, and held their lands in chief of the 
crown, while the estates of those who were forfeited were 
bestowed as rewards upon many of those who had joined 
the expedition into Argyll ; and from the nature of the expe- 
dition, and especially from its complete success, it is probable 
that these were principally Highlanders. The forfeited estates 
were farther brought under the direct jurisdiction of the 
government by being, according to the invariable policy of 
Alexander H., erected into a sheriffdom by the name of Argyll, 
and the extent of this, the first sheriffdom bearing that name, 
enables us to define with certainty the districts which were 
forfeited by the native lords and bestowed upon strangers. 
The sheriffdom of Argyll originally consisted of that part of 
the country now known as the district of Argyll proper, con- 
sisting of the districts of Glenorchy, Lochow, Lochfine, Glassrie, 
and Ardskeodnish. These were bestowed upon the ancestors 
of the M'Gregors and Macnauchtans, and of a family, probably 
Lowland, termed De Glassrie, while the ancestor of the Camp- 
bells was made hereditary sheriff of the new sheriffdom. Besides 
this, the shire of Argyll included part of Lochaber, retained by 
the crown ; the north half of Kintyre, bestowed upon a certain 
Dufgallus filius Syfin, and the upper half of Cowall given to 
a Campbell. The whole of Ergadia Borealis or North Argyll 
was granted to the Earl of Ross, who had rendered powerful 
assistance to the king both upon this and a former occasion. 


The remainder of this great district of Argyll was now held 
of the crown by those who had formerly been vassals of Somer- 
led, and consisted of Lochaber, held by the chief of the clan 
Chattan ; Lorn, by sons of Dugall, the eldest son of the first 
Somerled by his second marriage ; Knapdale by the ancestor 
of the Mac Neills ; South Kintyre, by Roderick the son of 
Reginald, second son of Somerled ; and the lower half of 
Cowall, by the ancestor of the Lamonds. These formed no 
part of the new sheriffdom of Argyll, but remained, as formerly, 
part of the sheriffdoms of Perth and Inverness. 

In this manner was the power of the descendants of Somer- 
led, by the first marriage, on the mainland completely broken 
for the time, and the fragments of the clan now looked up to 
the race of Dugall, the eldest son of the second marriage, who 
was in undisturbed possession of the share of the Isles acquired 
by Somerled, as their head. Dugall, the eldest son of this 
marriage, possessed, besides the Isles, the district of Lorn, as 
his share of the possessions of his paternal ancestors. But on 
his death, the Isles did not immediately descend to his children, 
but appear to have been acquired by his brother Reginald, 
according to the Highland law of succession, who, in con- 
sequence, assumed the title of king of the Isles. By the same 
laws, the death of Reginald restored to his nephews the inherit- 
ance of their father. 

Dugall had left two sons, Dugall Scrag and Duncan, who 
appear in the Norse Sagas, under the title of Sudereyan kings. 
As the Hebrides were at this time under the subjection of the 
Norwegian king, the sons of Somerled appear to have nominally 
acknowledged his authority, but as these Sagas abound in 
complaints against their fidelity, they seem to have professed 
submission to either king, as best suited their object for the 
time, while, in fact, they were in a state of actual independence. 
This state of matters occasioned Haco, at that time king of 
Norway, to determine, at length, to reduce these refractory 
chiefs to obedience; and for this purpose he selected a Nor- 
wegian, termed Uspac, gave him the name of Haco, with the 
title of king, and dispatched him to the Sudereys, with a 
Norwegian armament. Upon his arrival at the 
Hebrides, it was discovered most opportunely for the 

2o6 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Sudereyan kings, that Haco Uspac was in fact a son of Dugall, 
and brother of Dugall Scrag and Duncan, and accordingly, that 
which was intended for their overthrow, turned to their advan- 
tage. But in the meantime, Olave the Swarthy, king of Man, 
had proceeded to Norway, and had made the king aware of the 
real state of the case, upon which Haco dispatched him to the 
Sudereys with another fleet. When he had reached the Sound 
of Isla, he found the brothers, king Uspac, Dugall, and Duncan, 
already there, together v.ath their relation, Somerled, who had 
taken refuge in the Isles from the power of the king of Scotland. 
These chiefs, alarmed at the force of the Norwegians, attempted 
to overcome them by stratagem, and for this purpose "invited 
them to an entertainment, and provided strong wines," not an 
uncommon stratagem among the Highlanders. But the Nor- 
wegians had suspicion of their good faith, and refused to go, 
whereupon each of the commanders proceeded to draw their 
forces together, and in the night the Norwegians made an un- 
expected attack upon the Sudereyans, in which they succeeded, 
having slain Somerled, and taken Dugall prisoner, while the 
other two brothers effected their escape. Uspac, upon this 
judged it prudent to submit himself to the Norwegians, and 
afterwards joined them in their expedition to Bute, where he 
met his death in an attack upon a fortress in that island. " 
Duncan was now the only one of his family who retained any 
power in the Sudereys, but of his farther history nothing is 
known except the foundation of the priory of Ardchattan, in 
Lorn. On his death, his son Ewen succeeded to the whole 
power and territories of this branch of the descendants of 
Somerled ; and he appears to have remained more faithful to 
the Norwegian king than his predecessors had been, for when 
Alexander II., king of Scotland, had determined upon making 
every effort to obtain possession of the Western Isles, 

A.D. 124;t. , , • • r 1 . ^ • 

and, deemmg it of the greatest consequence to wm 
Ewen to his interest, had besought him to give up Kerneburgh, 
and other three castles, together with the lands which he held 
of king Haco, to the king of Scotland, adding, that if Ewen 
would join him in earnest, he would reward him with many 

^ This account is taken from tlie Anecdotes of Olave the Black. 


greater estates in Scotland, together with his confidence and 
favour, and although all Ewen's relations and friends pressed 
him to comply, he declared that he would not break his oath to 
king Haco, and refused all offers of compromise. 

Alexander, it is well known, died in Kerreray, in the com- 
mencement of an attack upon the Isles, and his son, Alexander 
III., when he had attained majority, determined to renew the 
attempt to obtain possession of the Isles, which his father had 
commenced. But instead of proceeding in person to the execu- 
tion of this enterprise, he excited the Earl of Ross, at that time 
the most powerful nobleman in Scotland, and whose great 
possessions extended over the mainland opposite to the Northern 
Isles, to commence hostilities againt them, and this Earl accord- 
ingly, accompanied by the chief of the Mathiesons and other 
powerful dependents, suddenly crossed over to the Isle of Sky, 
where he ravaged the country, burned villages and churches, 
and killed great numbers both of men and women. Upon this, 
the Sudereyan kings immediately dispatched letters to Haco, 
complaining of the outrages committed, and acquainting him 
that it was but part of a plan by which the Scottish king 
purposed to subdue all the Sudereys, if life was granted to him. 

Haco was no sooner aware of the extent of the danger to 
which his insular dominion was exposed, than he determined to 
proceed in person to the Hebrides, with all the troops which his 
means could supply. Upon Haco's appearance, he was at once 
joined by most of the Highland chiefs, among whom was king 
Dugall, son of Ronald, the son of Reginald Mac Somerled, and 
upon his arrival at Gigha, he was met by king Ewen. Haco 
desired that Ewen should follow his banner, but the politics of 
that prince had changed in a most unaccountable manner, for he 
excused himself, and said that he had sworn an oath to the 
Scottish king, and that he had more lands of him than of the 
Norwegian monarch, and therefore he entreated king Haco to 
dispose of all those estates which he had conferred upon him. 
The unfortunate termination of Haco's expedition, eventually 
justified the sagacity at least of Ewen's change, but Haco did 
not find the other Sudereyan lords so keen sighted or so 
scrupulous in breaking their oaths as Ewen appeared to be, for 
he was not only shortly afterwards joined by Angus, Lord of 

2o8 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Isla and South Kintyre, but even by Murchard, a vassal of the 
Earl of Menteith, in North Kintyre, who had obtained this 
district from the baron to whom it had been granted by 
Alexander II. The result of this enterprise is well known to 
everyone, and the defeat of the Norwegians by the Scots at 
Largs, produced a treaty by which the Isles were 

A.D. 1266. ^ , , 1 , 1 <^ . , , . 

nnally ceded to the Scottish king.^ In consequence 
of Ewen's timely change, this event rather increased than 
diminished his power, but the ill-luck of the Macdonalds, which 
invariably prevented the concentration of their power in the 
hands of one family for any length of time, had commenced to 
display itself, for Ewen died without male issue, and left but 
two daughters, the eldest of whom had married the Norwegian 
king of Man, and the second, Alexander of the Isles, a 
descendant of Reginald. 

The failure of the male descendants of Dugall in the person 
of Ewen had now the effect, in consequence of the well-devised 
treatment of the conquered district of Argyll by Alexander II., 
and subsequent annexation of the Isles to Scotland by his 
successor, of dividing this great clan into three, the heads of 
each of which held their lands of the crown. These were the 
clan Rory, clan Donald, and clan Dugall, severally descended 
from three sons of these names, of Reginald, the second son of 
Somerled by his second marriage.^ 

Clan Rory. 

On the death of Somerled, although the superiority of 
Argyll and the Isles fell respectively to his grandson Somerled, 
and his son Dugall, yet according to the Highland law of 
gavel, the property of which he died possessed was divided 
among all his sons, and the portion which fell to Reginald 
appears to have consisted of Islay among the isles, and Kintyre 
and part of Lorn on the mainland. 

Of the events of Reginald's life little is known, and even that 
little is not free from uncertainty, for, as he was contemporary 

' Norse account of Haco's expedition. . Clan Rory, Clan Donald, and Clan 
^ "Ranald, from whom sprung the I>"gall-"-MS. of 1450. 


with Reginald, the Norwegian king of Man and the Isles, it 
is nearly impossible to distinguish between the acts of the 
two princes. 

Reginald, however, appears on the death of his brother 
Dugall, to have been designated " dominus insularum," and 
sometimes even " rex insularum," and " dominus de Ergile 
and Kintyre," under which title he grants certain lands to the 
abbey of Saddell, in Kintyre, which he had founded. 

These titles, however, did not descend to his children, and 
he was succeeded in his paternal inheritance by his eldest 
son, Roderic, who, on the conquest of Argyll by Alexander II., 
considerably increased his powers by agreeing to hold his lands 
of the king as crown vassal ; and after this period he is generally 
styled Dominus de Kintyre. Roderic appears to have adopted 
the Norwegian habits of piracy in their fullest extent, and to 
have become, in everything but his birth, one of that race. 
He was one of the most noted pirates of his day, and the 
annals of the time are full of the plundering expeditions which 
he made. In these habits he was not followed by his sons 
Dugall and Allan. Dugall ruled over his Gaelic possessions 
in the usual manner of a Celtic chief, and when Ewen had 
at length agreed, in 1249, to desert the Norwegian interest 
for that of Scotland, bore the Norwegian title of king of the 
Isles until his death. 

On Haco's expedition to the Western Isles, king Dugall 
acquired great accession to his territories. Few of the Island 
chiefs had afforded so much assistance to Haco, or taken such 
an active part in his expedition as Dugall, and Haco therefore 
bestowed upon him all those parts of Ewen of Lorn's territories 
which had fallen into his hands. King Dugall appears to 
have died without descendants, and his brother Allan succeeded 
to the possessions of this branch of the Siol Cuinn. On the 
cession of the Isles, .■\llan, along with the other Hebridean 
chiefs, transferred their allegiance to Alexander III. of Scotland ; 
for his name is found among the barons in the list of those 
who assembled at Scoon in 1284, to declare Margaret, the 
maid of Norway, heiress to the crown ; and on that occasion 
he is designed " Allangus, fiHus Roderici." On this occasion, 
when Alexander appears to have been willing to purchase the 



support of his nobles to the settlement of the crown on his 
daughter at any price, the adherence of Allan was obtained 
by a grant of a great part of the ancient earldom of Garmoran, 
which remained ever afterwards in this familv, and was now 
known as the lordship of Garmoran. Allan left one son, 
Roderic, of whose history little is known, but it would appear 
that he was not considered legitimate by the feudal law, for 
we find that Allan was succeeded in his lordship of Garmoran 
by his daughter Christina, although the Highland law, by which 
Roderic was unquestionably considered legitimate, had still 
so much influence as in some measure to compel Christina 
to legalise Roderic's possession of these lands by a formal 
resignation and regrant. Roderic afterwards incurred the 
penalty of forfeiture during the reign of Robert Bruce, probably 
from some connexion with the Soulis conspiracy of 1320. But 
his lands were restored to his son Ranald by David H. Roderic 
had but one son, Ranald, and one daughter, Amie, married 
to John, lord of the Isles. Ranald, however, did not long enjoy 
his extensive territories, for holding some lands in North Argyll, 
of the Earl of Ross, his proximity of situation gave rise to a 
bitter feud between these powerful chiefs. David II. having 
in 1346 summoned the barons of Scotland to meet him at Perth, 
Ranald made his appearance there with a considerable body 
of troops, and took up his quarters at the monastery of Elcho. 
William, Earl of Ross, who was also with the army, took this 
opportunity of revenging himself upon Ranald, and having 
surprised and entered the monastery in the middle of the night, 
he slew Ranald with seven of his followers. By the death 
of Ranald, the descendants of Roderic became extinct, and 
John of the Isles, the chief of the clan Donald, who had married 
his sister Amy, became entitled to the succession, to which 
he immediately laid claim. 


The Qk\A.QXY.\.~( continued). 

Clan Donald. 

The clan Donald derive their origin from Donald II., son of 
Reginald. The share of his father's possessions which fell to 
him appears to have been South Kintyre and Isla, but it is 
unquestionable that he held these possessions of his brother 
Roderic, as the head of the house. As the clan Donald were 
at this time under the sway of the Norwegians, but little is 
known of their history until the cession of the Isles in 1266. 
Donald is said by a Highland Sennachie to have gone to 
Rome for the purpose of obtaining remission for various atroci- 
ties of his former life, which he is reported to have obtained 
with little difficulty, and to have evinced his gratitude by 
granting lands to the monastery of Saddell, and other ecclesias- 
tical establishments in Scotland. It was during the life of 
Angus Moir, his son and successor, that the expedition of 
Haco to the Western Isles took place, and although Angus 
joined him immediately on his arrival with his fleet, and assisted 
him during the whole war, yet, in consequence of the treaty 
which afterwards took place between the kings of Norway and 
Scotland, he does not appear to have suffered either in his 
territories or in his power. He appeared at the convention in 
1284, when the maiden of Norway was declared heiress of the 
crown, when his support appears to have been purchased by a 
grant of Ardnamurchan, a part of the earldom of Garmoran ; 
and also confirmed his father's and grandfather's grants to the 
abbey of Saddell, granting additional lands to them himself by 
not fewer than four charters. Angus left two sons, Alexander 
and Angus Og. Alexander acquired a considerable addition to 
his territories by marriage with one of the daughters and co- 

212 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

heiresses of Ewen de Ergadia, the last of the male descendants 
of Dugall, the son of Somerled ; but he unfortunatel}- joined 
John, the lord of Lorn, in his opposition to the accession of 
Robert the Bruce, and in consequence became a sharer in the 
ruin of that great chief After the defeat of the lord of Lorn at 
Lochow, and the subsequent siege of Dunstaffnage, king Robert 
proceeded to crush Alexander of the Isles also. And for this 
purpose he crossed over the Isthmus of Tarbet and besieged 
Alexander in Castle Swen, his usual residence. The lord of the 
Isles was as little able to hold out against the power of the 
Bruce as the lord of Lorn had been, and he was accordingly 
obliged to surrender to the king, who immediately imprisoned 
him in Dundonald Castle, where he died. His whole possessions 
were forfeited and given to his brother Angus Og, who, fortun- 
ately for himself and for his clan, had adopted a different line 
of politics, having followed the part}- of the Bruce from the 
very beginning. 

After the disastrous defeat at Methven, and the subsequent 
skirmish of the lord of Lorn at T)'ndrum, where the Bruce 
was obliged to fl\', he was received by Angus in his castle of 
Dunaverty, and there protected until he was obliged to take 
refuge in the small island of Rachlin. From this period Angus 
attached himself to his part}-, and took a share in all his sub- 
sequent enterprises. He assisted in the attack upon Carrick, 
when " the Bruce wan his father's hall," and was also present 
at the battle of Bannockburn, where Bruce at length reaped the 
reward of all his former toils and dangers, on which occasion 
Aneus with his clan seem to have formed the reserve. 


" Ye ferd bataile ye noble king 
Tuk till his awne governyng. 
And had in till his company 
Ye men of Carrik halely, 
A lid ojf Ar^/iile, ajtd of Kentyre, 
And off ye Isles, quharof lues syr 
Anoiis of Isle, and but all ya. 
He of ye plane land had alsua 
Off armyt men a mekyl rout. 
His bataile stalwart wes and stout." ^ 

^ Barbour. 


As Angus had shared in Bruce's dangers and adversity, so 
he now reaped the advantage of his success. The extensive 
territories of the Comyns, and their alHes, the lords of Lorn, had 
fallen into his hands through their forfeiture, and he accordingly 
bestowed upon Angus the lordship of Lochaber, which had 
formerly belonged to the Comyns, together with the lands of 
Durrour and Glencoe, and the islands of iVIull, Tiree, &c., 
which had formed part of the possessions of the Lorn family. 
Bruce, however, was quite aware that in thus increasing the 
already extensive possessions of the Isles' family, he was raising 
up a powerful opponent to the crown ; but the services of 
Angus in his utmost need rendered it impossible for him to 
withhold these grants, and believing himself secure of Angus's 
attachment during his life, he endeavoured to neutralize the 
effects of such an addition to their power by building the castle 
of Tarbett in Kintyre, which he demanded permission to do as 
an equivalent for the grants of land he had made. Angus Og 
of the Isles died in the early part of the fourteenth century, 
leaving two sons, John, his successor, and John Og, ancestor of 
the Macdonalds of Glencoe. 

Although Angus had throughout his life been a steady 
friend to the crown, yet when, on his death, any influence, which 
personal attachment between the king and him might have 
occasioned had ceased, the causes which had formerly forced 
this clan into opposition to the crown, again operated to change 
the policy of the lords of the Isles, or rather to cause them to 
resume their former line of conduct. These natural causes of 
separation were heightened by a dispute between John and the 
Regent, with regard to some of the lands which had been 
granted by the Bruce ; and John had not been long in pos- 
session of the power and dignities of his ancestors before he 
joined the party of Edward Baliol and the English king. In 
consequence of this, a formal treaty was concluded between 
Edward Baliol and John on the 12th of December, 1335, in 
which Baliol, " quantum in se est," yielded for ever to John 
and his heirs and assignees, together with the whole of his 
father's possessions, all title to the lands and islands claimed by 
the Earl of Murray (the Regent), and also gave him the ward- 
ship of Lochaber until the majority of the heir of Atholl, at 

214 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

that time onl\- three years old, b}- whose ancestors it had been 
forfeited on the accession of Robert I-5ruce. This indenture was 
confirmed by Edward HI. on the 5th of October, 1336. 

The accession to Baliol's part}- of so great a man as John 
of the Isles did not, however, prevent the recovery of Scotland, 
for the regents succeeded eventuall\- in entirely freeing the 
countr\- from English dominion, and were enabled in 1341 to 
send for David II. from France to commence his personal reign 
over his native kingdom, although the lord of the Isles himself 
was too powerful to suffer b}- that revolution. On the return 
of David II. to his country, he found it of the utmost importance 
to attach as many of the Scottish barons to his party as 
possible, and succeeded in concluding a treaty with John of the 
Isles, who now for the first time found himself not in opposition 
to the king. But a circumstance soon after occurred very much 
to increase John's power, and to concentrate in his person 
nearly the whole of the possessions of his ancestor, Somerled. 
This circumstance was the slaughter of Ranald of the Isles by 
the earl of Ross at Perth in the year 1346, b)' which John of 
the Isles, who had married his sister Am}', became entitled to 
the succession, to which he immediately laid claim. Although 
John was not at this time in opposition to David II., yet the 
government, notwithstanding the advantage it would derive 
from the support of so powerful an Highland chief as the 
Island lord, was well aware of the danger of thus allowing the 
extensive territories and great power of the Siol Cuinn, which 
had shaken the stabilit}' of the crown under Somerled, to 
become again united in the person of John, and it was deter- 
mined to throw ever}- obstacle in his wa}-. John's request was 
consequently refused, and the government seems to have taken 
advantage of the death of Am}- as an excuse for refusing a title 
to their lands ; and even to have asserted that, the marriage 
upon which it was founded had been irregular, and could not 
therefore be recognized. 

The natural effect of this refusal was to throw John once 
more into opposition, and to regain for the party of Baliol 
one of its most powerful adherents, but the attention of the 
king of England having been soon after diverted from Scotland 
by the wars in France, and a peace having in consequence 


been entered into between England and Scotland, John's 
opposition did not produce any consequences detrimental to 
the government. 

It was not long after this time that a very extraordinary 
change took place in the character and situation of the different 
factions in Scotland, which once more served to detach John 
of the Isles from the English interest, and to class him among 
the supporters of Scottish independence. Previously to the 
return of David II. from captivity in England in 1357, the 
established government and the principal barons of the kingdom 
had, with the exception of those periods when Edward Baliol 
had gained a temporary success, been invariably hostile to 
the English claims, while it Was merely a faction of the nobility, 
who were in opposition to the court, that supported the cause 
of Baliol and of English supremacy. John, from the natural 
causes arising from his situation, and urged by the continued 
policy of the government being directed towards the reduction 
of his power and influence, was always forced into opposition 
to the administration for the time by which this policy was 
followed, and when the opposing faction consisted of the 
adherents of the English interest, the Island lord was naturally 
found among them, and was thus induced to enter into treaty 
with the king of England. On the return of David, however, 
the situation of parties became materially altered ; the king 
of Scotland now ranked as Edward of England's staunchest 
adherent, and secretly seconded all his endeavours to overturn 
the independence of Scotland, while the party which had 
throughout supported the throne of Scotland and the cause 
of independence were in consequence thrown into active opposi- 
tion to the crown. The natural consequence of this- change 
was that the lord of the Isles left the party to which he had 
so long adhered, as soon as it became identified with the 
royal faction, and was thus forced into connexion with those 
with whom he had been for so many years at enmity. 

The Steward of Scotland, who was at the head of this 
party, was of course desirous of strengthening himself by 
means of alliances with the most powerful barons of the country, 
and he therefore received the accession of so important a person 
Avith avidity, and cemented their union by procuring the 

2i6 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

marriage of the lord of the Isles with his own daughter. John 
now adhered steadfasth' to the party of the steward, and took 
an active share in all its proceedings, along with the other 
barons b)- whom they were joined, but without any open 
manifestation of force, until the year 1366, when the country 
was in a state of irritation from the heavy burdens imposed 
upon the people in order to raise the ransom of their king, 
and when the jealousy of David towards the steward had at 
length broken out so far as to cause the former to throw 
his own nephew and the acknowledged successor to his throne 
into prison. The northern barons, who belonged to his part}-, 
broke out into open rebellion, and refused to pa}' their pro- 
portion of the general taxation, or attend the parliament, to 
which they were frequently summoned. Matters appear to have 
remained in this state, and the northern chiefs to have actuall}- 
assumed independence for upwards of two years, until David 
had at last brought himself to appl}^ to the steward as the 
only person capable of restoring peace to the countr}-, and 
charged him to put down the rebellion. 

In consequence of this appeal, the steward, who was un- 
willing to be considered as the disturber of the peace of the 
kingdom, and whose ends were better forwarded by steady 
opposition to the court party than by open rebellion, took 
every means in his power to reduce the insurgent noblemen 
to obedience ; but although he succeeded in obtaining the 
submission of John of Lorn and Gillespie Campbell, and 
although the earls of Mar and Ross with other northern barons, 
whose object was gained by the restoration of the steward 
to freedom, voluntarily joined him in his endeavours, the lord 
of the Isles refused to submit, and secure in the distance, and in 
the inaccessible nature of his territories, set the royal power 
at defiance. But the state of affairs in France soon after 
requiring the undivided attention of the English king, he was 
obliged to come to terms with the Scots, and a peace having 
been concluded between the two countries on the most favour- 
able terms for the latter, the Scottish government was left at 
liberty to turn its attention wholly towards reducing the Isles 
to obedience. In order to accomplish this, David II., well 
aware of the cause of the rebellion of the Isles, and of the 


danger of permitting matters to remain in their present position, 
at length determined, and that with a degree of energy which 
his character had given Httle reason to expect, in person to 
proceed against the rebels, and for this purpose commanded 
the attendance of the steward with the barons of the realm. 
But the steward, now perceiving that the continuance of the 
rebellion of the Isles would prove fatal to his party, by the 
great influence which he possessed over his son-in-law, succeeded 
in persuading him to meet the king at Inverness and to submit 
himself to his authority, and the result of this meeting was 
a treaty entered into between " Johannes de Yla, dominus 
insularum " on the one hand, and " David, Dei gratia rex 
Scotorum " on the other, in which John not only engaged to 
submit to the royal authority and to take his share of all public 
burdens, but also to put down all others who dared to raise 
themselves in opposition to the regal authority. For the ful- 
filment of this obligation the lord of the Isles not only gave 
his own oath, but offered the high steward, his father-in-law, 
as security, and delivered his lawful son Donald by the steward's 
daughter, his grandson Angus by his eldest lawful son John, 
and a natural son also named Donald, into the hands of the 
king as hostages. 

By the accession of Robert Stewart to the throne of Scot- 
land, which took place shortly after this event, the lord of 
the Isles was once more brought into close connexion with 
the crown, and as John remained during the whole of this 
reign in a state of as great tranquillity as his father Angus 
had been during that of Robert Bruce, the policy of thus 
connecting these turbulent chiefs with the government by the 
ties of friendship and alliance, rather than that of attempting 
to reduce them to obedience by force and forfeiture, became 
very manifest. King Robert, no doubt, saw clearly enough 
the advantage of following the advice left by Robert Bruce 
for the guidance of his successors, not to allow the great 
territories and extensive influence of these Island lords ever 
again to be concentrated in the person of one individual ; but 
the claims of John were too great to be overlooked, and 
accordingly Robert had been but one year on the throne, when 
John obtained from him a feudal title to all those lands which 

2i8 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

had formerl}' belonged to Ranald the son of Roderick, and 
which had so long been refused to him. 

In order, however, to neutralize in some degree the effect 
of thus investing one individual with a feudal title to such 
extensive territories, and believing himself secure of the attach- 
ment of John during his lifetime, king Robert determined, 
since he could not prevent the accumulation in one family of 
so much property, at least by bringing about its division among 
its different branches, to sow the seeds of future discord, and 
eventually perhaps of the ruin of the race. He found little 
difficulty in persuading John, in addition to the usual practice 
in that family of gavelling the lands among the numerous 
offspring, to render the children of the two marriages feudally 
independent of each other, a fatal measure, the consequences 
of which John did not apparently foresee ; and accordingly, 
in the third year of his reign, king Robert confirmed a charter 
by John to Reginald, the second son of the first marriage,, 
of the lands of Garmoran, which John had acquired by his 
marriage with Reginald's mother, to be held of John's heirs, 
that is to say, of the descendants of the eldest son of the 
first marriage, of whom one had been given as an hostage in 
1 369, and who would of course succeed to every part of John's 
possessions which were not feudally destined to other quarters. 
Some years afterwards John resigned a great part of the western 
portion of his territories, consisting principally of the lands 
of Lochaber, Kintyre, and Knapdale, with the island of 
Colonsay, into the king's hands, and received from him charters 
of these lands in favour of himself and his heirs by the marriage 
with the king's daughter ; thus rendering the children of the 
second marriage feudall)^ independent of those of the first, 
and furnishing a subject for contention between these families 
which could not fail to lead to their ruin. 

After this period, we know little of the events of John's life, 
and he appears to have died about the year 1386. During the 
rest of Robert the Second's reign, and of the greater part of that 
of Robert HI., the peace of the country does not appear to have 
been disturbed by any act of hostility from the Island chiefs, 
and consequently the history of the children of John is but little 
known ; but when the dissension which took place between the 


principal barons of Scotland, in consequence of the marriage of 
the duke of Rothsay, and the consequent departure of the earl 
of March to the English court, caused the wars between the two 
countries once more to break out, and called forth the English 
invasion of Scotland, the intercourse between England and the 
Island chiefs appears to have been renewed, and the frequency 
of the safe conducts granted at this period by the king of 
England to the sons of John, shews that their relationship to the 
Scottish king was not sufficient to counteract the causes which 
naturally threw them into opposition. From the tenor of these 
documents, it does not appear that at this time there was any 
difference of rank or authority observed among the brothers. 
By the wise policy of Robert II. this great clan had become 
completely divided for the time into two, who \\'ere in every 
respect independent of each other. Godfrey, the eldest surviving 
son of the first marriage, possessed the principal power on the 
mainland, as lord of Garmoran and Lochaber, which he trans- 
mitted to his son ; and Donald, the eldest son of the second 
marriage, held a considerable extent of territory of the crown, 
which was now first known as the feudal lordship of the Isles, 
and which, though not superior to, was independent of the 
lordship of Garmoran and Lochaber. The rest of the brethren 
received the usual provision allotted to them by the law of gavel, 
and which was principally held by them as vassals of one or 
other of the two lords. But a circumstance soon after occurred 
which had the effect of raising one of the brothers to a station of 
power which he could not otherwise have attained, and of adding 
to the already too extensive possessions of the Macdonalds. 
This circumstance was the marriage of Donald, the eldest son of 
the second marriage of John, lord of the Isles, with Mary, sister 
of Alexander, earl of Ross. Alexander, earl of Ross, had an 
only daughter, Euphemia, b}' the daughter of the duke of 
Albany, whom he had married. Upon the death of Alexander, 
Euphemia became a nun, and committed the government of her 
earldom to the governor. Donald saw that if the governor was 
permitted in this manner to retain the actual possession of the 
earldom, although his right to the succession was undeniable, he 
would be unable to recover his inheritance from the grasp of so 
crafty and ambitious a nobleman. He accordingly proceeded to 

220 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

exert himself to obtain possession of the earldonn, contending 
that Euphemia, by taking the veil, had become, in a legal point 
of view, dead ; and that the earldom belonged to him in right 
of his wife, and accordingly he demanded to be put in possession 
of it. This demand was of course repelled by the governor, 
whose principal object appears to have been to prevent the 
accession of so extensiv^e a district to the territories of the lord 
of the Isles, already too powerful for the security of the govern- 
ment, and whose conduct was more actuated by principles of 
expediency than of justice. Donald had no sooner received this 
unfavourable answer to his demand, than he determined to 
assert his claim by arms, since he could not obtain it from the 
justice of the government. And in consequence of this deter- 
mination, he raised all the forces which he could command, to 
the amount of ten thousand men, with whom he suddenly 
invaded the earldom of Ross. From the inhabitants of Ross he 
appears to have met with no resistance, so that he speedily 
obtained possession of the district ; but on his arrival at Ding- 
wall, he was encountered by i:\ngus Dow Mackay, at the head 
of a large body of men from Sutherland, and, after a fierce 
attack, the Mackays were completely routed, and their leader 
taken prisoner. 

Donald was now in complete possession of the earldom, but 
his subsequent proceedings shewed that the nominal object of 
his expedition was but a cover to ulterior designs, for, leaving 
the district of Ross, he swept through Moray, and penetrated 
even into Aberdeenshire, at the head of his whole army. Here 
he was met at the village of Harlaw by the earl of Mar, at the 
head of an inferior army in point of numbers, but composed of 
Lowland gentlemen, who were better armed and disciplined 
than the Highland followers of Donald. It was on the 24th of 
July, 141 1, that the celebrated battle of Harlaw was fought, 
upon the issue of which seemed to depend the question of 
whether the Gaelic or Teutonic part of the population of 
Scotland were in future to have the supremacy. 

Of the battle the result was doubtful, as both parties claimed 
the victory ; but in the case of the Highlanders, the absence of 
decided victory was equivalent to defeat in its effects, and 
Donald was in consequence obliged to retreat. The check 


which had been given to the Highland army was immediately 
followed up by the duke of Albany collecting additional forces, 
and marching in person to Dingwall. But Donald avoided 
hazarding another encounter, and returned with his forces to the 
Isl€*5, where he remained all winter, while Albany rapidly made 
himself master of the earldom of Ross. 

In the ensuing summer the war was again renewed, and 
carried on with various success on both sides, until at length the 
Island king was obliged to- come to terms with the governof, 
and a treaty was concluded at Polgilp, in Argyllshire, in which 
Donald agreed to give up his claim to the earldom of Ross, and 
to become a vassal of the Scottish crown. 

It has generally been supposed that the resignation of the 
earldom of Ross by Euphame, the Xun, in favour of her grand- 
father, was the sole cause of this invasion; but this is impossible, 
for the instrument by which the earldom was resigned is dated 
in 141 5, just four }-ears after the battle, and it seems rather to 
have been an attempt on the part of Albany to give a colour of 
justice to the retention of the earldom, which he was enabled, 
by the result of the battle, to carry into effect. There is no 
doubt that a claim on the earldom was the ostensible cause of 
the invasion ; but the readiness with which that claim was given 
up when his subsequent inroad upon the Lowlands was checked 
— and he might easily have retained possession of Ross, instead 
of retreating to the Isles ; besides, the fact that in the }-ear 1408 
there was a treat}- between Donald and the king of P^ngland, 
and that the war was no sooner at an end than a truce was 
concluded with England for six years — very clearly indicate 
that this invasion was but a part of a much more extensive and 
more important scheme for which the claim of the earldom 
served but as a pretext ; and that upon the failure of the 
greater plan, that claim was readily resigned. 

During the rest of the regency of Albany, Donald did not 
again disturb the peace of the kingdom ; and on the utter 
ruin of the Albany family, accomplished by the revenge of 
James I., Alexander, lord of the Isles, the son of Donald, 
quietly succeeded to the earldom of Ross. Unfortunately for 
himself, however, his succession to such extensive territories, 
and the acquisition of so much power, took place at a time 

222 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

when the individual who held the reins of government was 
one fully able, by his singular energy, decision of character, 
and personal bravery, to compete with his turbulent nobles, 
as well as to break down their independence and power. 
Towards this object James I. seems to have turned his atten- 
tion at the very commencement of his reign, and, doubtful 
of his strength effectually to reduce the northern barons to 
obedience, he had recourse to stratagem. For this purpose 
he summoned these barons to attend a parliament to be held 
at Inverness, and proceeded there himself at the head of his 
principal nobles, and accompanied by a force which rendered 
resistance unavailing ; and the great northern chiefs not 
thinking it proper to disobey the summons, were arrested as 
soon as they made their appearance, to the number of about 
forty chiefs, among whom was Alexander, earl of Ross and 
lord of the Isles, his mother the countess of Ross, and 
Alexander Mac Godfrey of Garmoran, who appeared as feudal 
lord of that district. 

Many of these victims of this act of treachery were forth- 
with executed, among whom was Alexander of Garmoran, 
whose whole possessions were in consequence forfeited to the 
crown, while the rest, together with the lord of the Isles, were 
detained in captivity. By the success of this expedient, the 
king concluded that he had effectually reduced the Highland 
chiefs to obedience, and accordingly, after a short captivity, 
he set Alexander of the Isles at liberty ; but the prospect of 
submission was only apparent, for no sooner was the lord 
of the Isles free, than he flew to arms to obtain revenge for 
the injurious treatment he had experienced, and appeared soon 
after before Inverness with an army of 10,000 men, and rased 
to the ground the town which had been the scene of his 

But James, from the great decision and activity of his 
character, was fully equal to cope with the Island lord, whose 
ancestors had been the terror of preceding governments ; and 
accordingly he no sooner became aware of this invasion, than, 
with an energy for which his adversary was little prepared, 
he collected a feudal force, penetrated into Lochaber with 
the utmost rapidity, and overtook the Highland army before 


they had been able to reach the shelter of the Isles. So 
completely were the Highlanders surprised by this bold march, 
that the lord of the Isles found himself deserted before the battle 
by l^e clans Chattan and Cameron, who, doubtful of the issue of 
an encounter, and feeling no great cordiality for the cause of 
the earl of Ross, went over to the royal army. The lord of 
the Isles, however, did not shun the attack, but, as might be 
expected from the dispiriting effect of so great a desertion, the 
result was the complete rout and dispersion of the Highland 
army ; and so close did the pursuit of the Island lord at 
length become, that he found it impossible to conceal himself, 
and after several unsuccessful attempts to obtain a reconcilia- 
tion with the king, he resolved to throw himself upon the 
royal mercy, and to descend to the most extraordinary piece 
of humiliation which is recorded in history. It was upon the 
occasion of a solemn festival held in the chapel of Holyrood 
that this proud chief, whose father and grandfather had entered 
into treaties and concluded peace as independent princes, 
appeared before the assembled Scottish court, divested of all 
his garments save his shirt and drawers alone, and holding a 
naked sword in his hand, knelt down at the feet of the 
monarch, and implored his clemencj'. In some degree his 
supplication was successful, for James granted him his life, but 
directed him to be instantly imprisoned in Tantallon Castle. 

James, however, had yet to learn that, from the peculiar 
nature of the system of clanship, the imprisonment of their 
chief did not in any way affect the strength of the clan, or 
render them more amenable to the royal authority. On the 
contrary, he was now to find that such a proceeding was more 
likely to incite them to revenge. And accordingly Alexander 
of the Isles had been only two years in captivity, when the 
inhabitants of the Isles once more broke out into open insur- 
rection, and burst into Lochaber under the command of Donald 
Balloch, the son of his uncle Reginald, and chief of the clan 
Ranald. They there encountered an army which had been 
left in Lochaber for the purpose of overawing the Highlanders, 
under the command of the earls of Mar and Caithness, and 
after an obstinate conflict, the king's troops were completely 
defeated, the earl of Caithness left dead upon the field, while 

224 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

the remainder \vere rescued with some difficulty by the earl 
of Mar. Donald Balloch, however, considered it hazardous to 
follow up his success, and having ravaged the neighbouring 
districts, he retired to the Isles, and subsequently to Ireland, 
to avoid the vengeance of so powerful an adversary as the 
king of Scotland. 

James now saw that the absence of the chief, so far from 
rendering the clan more disposed to become amenable to his 
will, rather roused them to acts of rebellion and revenge, and 
that it was better to have at the head of the clan, a chief 
who had become bound to him from acts of clemency, than 
to expose them to the influence of the other branches of the 
family, who were irritated by the indignity offered to the 
Island lord ; he therefore proceeded in person to the north, 
for the purpose of quelling the remains of the rebellion : his 
expedition was attended with his usual success, by the sub- 
mission of all the chiefs who had been engaged in it. Donald 
Balloch was, soon after this, betrayed, and his head sent to 
the king, upon which he at once restored the lord of the 
Isles to liberty, granted him a free pardon for all the various 
acts of rebellion he had been guilty of, and also confirmed to 
him not only all his titles and possessions, but even granted 
him the lordship of Lochaber, which had been forfeited from 
his cousin Alexander, and given to the earl of Mar. The 
policy of this act was soon apparent, for although Alexander 
of the Isles was naturally thrown into opposition to the court, 
and entered into a strict league with the earls of Crawford 
and Douglas, who at that time headed the opposition, yet 
it does not appear that the peace of the country was again 
disturbed during his life. But on his death, the parties engaged 
in the league, which, although strictly preserved, had not 
hitherto led to an)- manifestations of actual insurrection, at 
length broke out into open rebellion, and the new lord of 
the Isles, who was as active an opposer of the royal party 
as his father had been, seized the royal castles of Inverness, 
Urquhart, and Ruthven, in Badenoch, and declared himself 

In this state of open rebellion, John, lord of the Isles, 
was secretly supported by the earl of Douglas, and openly 


by the other barons who belonged to their party ; but a 
circumstance soon after occurred, which, together with the 
murder of Douglas, and defeat of Crawford, by Huntly, not 
only reduced John, after having for several years maintained 
a species of independence, to submit to the king, and resign 
his lands into his hands, but moreover proved the cause of 
the subsequent ruin of the kingdom of the Isles, which had 
so long existed in a condition of partial independence. This 
circumstance was a rebellion in the Isles, against John, by 
his son Angus Og, and John was thus doomed to experience, 
in his own territories, the same opposition which he had so 
long offered to the king. 

With regard to the actual circumstances which gave rise 
to this extraordinary contest, there is considerable obscurity, 
but the causes are thus stated by an ancient Sennachie of 
the clan Donald : — " John succeeded his father, a meek, modest 
man, brought up at court in his younger years, and a scholar 
more fit to be a churchman, than to command so many 
irregular tribes of people. He endeavoured, however, still to 
keep them in their allegiance, by bestowing gifts on some, 
and promoting others with lands and possessions ; by this 
he became prodigal, and very expensive. He had a natural 
son, begotten of Macdufifie of Colonsay's daughter, and Angus 
Og, his legitimate son, by the earl of Angus's daughter. He 
gave the lands of Morvairn to Maclean, and many of his 
lands in the north to others, judging, by these means, to 
make them more faithful to him than they were to his father. 
His son, Angus Og, being a bold, forward man, and high 
minded, observing that his father very much diminished his 
rents by his prodigality, thought to deprive him of all manage- 
ment and authority." But, whatever was the cause of this 
dissension, it appears that Angus Og, who had been appointed 
by his father lieutenant general in all his possessions, and who 
had been the actual mover in all these insurrections, took 
advantage of his station to deprive his father of all authority 
whatever, and to become lord of the Isles, and Angus Og was 
no sooner in a situation of power than he determined to be 
revenged upon the earl of Atholl, for the hostility which he had 
invariably manifested against the lord of the Isles, and at the 

226 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

same time to declare himself independent ; for this purpose, 
having collected a numerous army in the Isles, he suddenly 
appeared before the castle of Inverness, and having been 
admitted by the governor, who believed him faithful, he im- 
mediately proclaimed himself king of the Hebrides. He then 
invaded the district of Atholl, and arriving unexpectedly at 
Blair, he stormed the castle, seized the earl and countess of 
Atholl, and carried them prisoners to I.sla, where he confined them. 
But the workings of superstition effected that which it would 
have been found perhaps difficult by any other means to obtain, 
for a storm of thunder and lightning having sunk the greater 
part of his galleys on his return to the Isles with the rich booty 
he had obtained, it was ascribed to the wrath of heaven, in con- 
sequence of his having plundered and attempted to burn the 
chapel of St. Bridget, in Atholl ; and in order therefore to 
expiate the crime for which he now began to feel remorse, he set 
the earl and countess at liberty, and performed penance on the 
scene of his sacrilege. 

Angus Og next induced his father to enter into a treat}- with 
the king of England and the earl of Douglas, which had for its 
object no less than the entire subjugation of Scotland, and its 
partition among the contracting parties. This remarkable 
treaty is dated at London, on the 13th of February, 1462, and 
by it the lord of the Isles agreed, upon payment of a stipulated 
sum of money to himself, his son, and his ally, Donald Balloch 
of Isla. to become the sworn vassal for ever of England, and 
that along with the whole body of his subjects, and to assist him 
in the wars in Ireland as well as elsewhere. But in addition to 
this, it was provided that in the event of the entire subjugation 
•of Scotland by the earls of Ross and Douglas, the whole of the 
kingdom to the north of the Scottish Sea, or Firth of Forth, was 
to be divided equally between Douglas, the lord of the Isles, and 
Donald Balloch, while Douglas was to be restored to the pos- 
session of those estates between the Scottish Sea and the 
borders of England, from which he was now excluded. No 
step, however, appears to have been taken upon this extra- 
ordinary treaty, until the year 1473, at which period the lord of 
the Isles appears to have been in open rebellion, and to have 
continued so for several years. But Angus Og docs not appear 


to have been supported in this insurrection by the other parties 
who had joined in the league with him, which occasioned his 
reduction to become a matter of less difficulty to the 

A parliament was held at Edinburgh in the year 1475, in 
which this fierce and insurgent noble was declared a traitor, and 
his estates confiscated to the crown ; and, in order to carry this 
forfeiture into effect, the earls of Crawford and Atholl were 
directed to proceed against him with a large force. The extent 
of these preparations, which comprehended a formidable fleet, 
as well as a land army, now convinced the earl of Ross that the 
proceedings of his rebellious son, which had already deprived 
him of all authority, were likely also to cause the utter ruin and 
destruction of his race, and he determined to make one effort to 
regain his station,, and to preserve the possessions of his 
ancestors. The only means now left for him to effect this was, 
to obtain the assistance of the government, a matter by no 
means easy, in consequence of the rebellion into which he had 
been dragged by his son, and which had resulted in his for- 
feiture. He was therefore obliged to submit to the necessary 
sacrifice, and b}' means of a grant of lands in Knapdale, he 
obtained the powerful influence of the earl of Argyll, and in 
consequence, upon resigning his whole possessions into the 
hands of the crown, he received a remission for his past offences, 
and was reinstated in the royal favour, and in his former pos- 
sessions, with the exception of the earldom of Ross, lands of 
Knapdale and Kintyre, and offices of sheriff of Inverness and 
Nairne, which were retained by the crown, while he himself 
was created a peer of parliament by the title of lord of the 

Soon after this, the earl of Atholl was despatched to the 
north, for the purpose of reinstating the earl of Ross in his 
possessions ; and on entering the earldom, he was joined by the 
Mackenzies, Mackays, Frasers, Rosses, and others, but being 
met by Angus Og, who had hastened there at the head of the 
■clan, at a place called Lagebread, the earl of Atholl was defeated 
with great slaughter, and with some difificulty made his escape. 
The earls of Crawford and Huntly were then sent, the one by 
sea, the other by land ; but both expeditions were attended with 

228 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

equally bad success. The third expedition consisted of Argyll 
and Atholl, who were accompanied by the lord of the Isles, and 
on this occasion Argyll found means to persuade several of the 
families of the Isles to join their party. An interview then took 
place between the contending parties, which did not produce 
any result, and the two earls, who do not appear to have had 
an}' great cordiality towards the object of their expedition, 
returned. John, however, proceeded onwards through the 
Sound of Mull, accompanied l»y the Macleans, Macleods, 
Macneils, and others, and encountered Angus Og in a bay on 
the south side of the promontory of Ardnamurchan. A naval 
engagement immediately took place between the father and son 
and their respective followers, which ended in the complete 
overthrow of the unfortunate father, and the dispersion of his 
fleet. By this victory, which will long be remembered in the 
traditions of the country as the " Battle of the Bloody Bay," 
Angus became completely established in the possession of the 
power and extensive territories of his clan. John appears not 
long after this to have become reconciled to his son, who easily 
regained the entire ascendancy over him which he had formerly 
possessed ; and, accordingly, it was but five years after the date 
of his submission that we once more find him throwing off his 
allegiance to the throne, and engaging in a treaty with Edward 
IV., king of England, who was then preparing to invade Scot- 
land ; and from this period, during the remainder of the reign of 
James III., the Isles appear to have continued in a state of 
open resistance to the authority of the government. But the 
accession of James IV. in 1494, made a material change in this 
respect, for that energetic monarch, who in many points of view 
bore a strong resemblance to his ancestor the first James, took 
the most decided and severe measures for reducing the country 
to a state of peace, while the recent death of Angus Og left 
John in no condition to defend himself from the consequences 
of the rebellion into which he had been led. In these measures 
James was accordingly successful ; it was in the sixth year of 
his reign that he turned his attention particularly to the state of 
the Highlands and Isles ; and during that year, he visited them 
personally three times, besides having twice, in the preceding 
year, penetrated into the Highlands as far as Dunstaffnage and 


Mingarry, in Ardnamurchan, and reduced most of the Highland 
chiefs to obedience. 

The lord of the Isles, nevertheless, still refused to submit, 
and defied the royal authority. James found himself unable 
successfully to attack him in his strongholds, but on his return 
to Edinburgh, he assembled a parliament, in which the title and 
possessions of the lord of the Isles were declared forfeited to 
the crown. 

Not long after this, John of the Isles appears to have died ; 
and as his grandscm, Donald Du, was still a minor, and the 
other branches of the family were engaged in various dissensions 
among each other, there was no one at once to resume the 
government of the clan, and to offer effectual resistance to the 
king. The forfeiture and death of John had the effect of com- 
pletely disorganizing the clan ; while all those clans which had 
been dependent upon the lords of the Isles, although not 
connected by descent, having attained to considerable power 
under their protection, seized this opportunity, with one accord, 
of declaring themselves independent of the Macdonalds, and set 
about procuring from the king feudal titles to their respective 

There was no longer, therefore, any prospect of the 
Macdonalds again obtaining the almost royal state which they 
had so long enjoyed, and from this period may accordingly be 
dated the fall of that once powerful clan ; although, before the 
Macdonalds finally resigned the contest, they appear to have 
made three several attempts to place various of their branches at 
the head of the whole tribe ; but these attempts proved equally 
unsuccessful, partly from the prompt measures adopted by 
government, but principally from the effects of their own 
internal dissensions, as well as from the great opposition they 
received from those clans formerly dependent on the Mac- 
donalds, but whose interest it had now become to prevent the 
union of the tribe under one head as formerly. The first of 
these attempts took place shortly after the death of John of the 
Isles, and was made in favour of Donald Du, his grandson by 
his son, Angus Og. The principal parties engaged in this 
attempt were Alaster Macdonald, of Lochalsh, the son of 
Celestin, who was a brother of John, lord of the Isles, Torquil 

230 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Macleod of Lewis, and Lauchlan Maclane of Doward. To 
Maclane was intrusted the person of Donald Du, and the task 
of keeping possession of the Isles, while Alaster proceeded with 
the greater part of the clan to Ross, with a view to recover 
possession of that earldom. Here he was not prepared to meet 
with opposition, but Mackenzie, being well aware that the loss 
of his newly acquired independence would follow Alaster's 
success, and although far inferior in strength, resolved to make a 
desperate effort, in which he succeeded ; for, having surprised 
the Macdonalds in the night time, at the village of Blairnapark, 
he dispersed them with great slaughter. Alaster upon this 
returned to the Isles, but the dissension among the islanders 
soon put a finishing stroke to the defeat of this first attempt. 
The principal families of the Isles who were opposed to the 
succession of Donald Du, were those of Macian of Ardna- 
murchan, and Macconnel of Kintyre, who were apprehensive 
that their own houses would suffer by the success of the 
rebellion. They had not, however, dared to oppose it, when 
fortune at first seemed to favour the enterprise ; but when, after 
Alaster's defeat in Ross, he returned to the Isles, to raise men, 
they followed his vessel to Oransay, where they overtook him, 
and put him to death. Maclane with his party had, in the 
meantime, though at first more successful, been reduced 
to submission by the efforts of the government. Having 
found little difficulty in making himself master of the 
Isles, he had, with the other Island chiefs, burst into 
Badenoch, at the head of a considerable force, wasting the 
country in every direction ; and even set fire to the town of 
Inverness. An army, at the head of which were the earls of 
Argyll, Huntiy, Crawford, and Marshall, with Lord Lovat, and 
other barons was led against him, but, with the usual Highland 
policy, he had retreated to the Isles with his plunder. James 
then found it necessary to dispatch a fleet under the command 
of Sir Andrew Wood, the most celebrated naval commander of 
his day, to the Isles, to co-operate with the land army, and the 
result of this expedition shewed that the Island chiefs had 
hitherto owed their immunity to the inefficient state of the 
Scottish navy ; and that the extraordinary advance which had 
been made in that department now laid them at the mercy of 


the government. Kerneburg Castle, the last resort of the 

insurgents, was reduced with the utmost facility. The Maclanes 

and Macleods submitted, and Donald Du was taken 

A.D. 1501. . . ,., irTi/- 

captive and imprisoned in the castle of Inch Connel, 
where he was destined to remain for forty years. 

At no period, however, did the Highlanders exhibit more of 
the extraordinary perseverance with which they support a 
falling cause ; for although the person whom they regarded as 
the legitimate heir of the Isles was in hopeless captivity, they 
made an attempt to place his nearest relation and presumptive 
heir in possession of the Isles ; and accordingly it was not many 
years after the failure of their former insurrection, that Donald 
Galda, the son of that Alaster who had been the principal 
mover in the former rebellion, having just attained the age of 
majority, raised another insurrection in the Isles, in order to 
assert what he considered his just claim to the lordship of the 
Isles ; but this attempt, although supported by a greater pro- 
portion of the chiefs, proved equally unsuccessful with the last. 

It appears that Donald Galda had no sooner declared 
A.D. 151.J. , . r . r . . 1 T 1 1 

his intention of attempting to regam the Isles, than 

he was joined by the powerful clan of the Macleods. He also 
reconciled himself with the Macconnells of Kintyre, and with 
this great accession of power he succeeded in obtaining posses- 
sion of the Isles, and was immediately declared lord of the 
Isles ; but he did not long enjoy his dignity, as he died a few 
weeks afterwards, and the only event of his short reign was his 
revenging his father's death upon the Macians of Ardnamurchan, 
by the slaughter of their chief and his son. 

232 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 


The Gx\.i.OM£.L—( contmued). 

Notwithstanding the ill success of the two attempts which 
the Macdonalds had made to set up one of their race as lord 
of the Isles, they remained determined not to give up all 
prospect of having a chief of their own race without a farther 
struggle. The effects of the last insurrections had indeed so 
completely depressed and crushed them for the time, that they 
appear to have been, during the remainder of the reign of 
James V., in no condition to attempt such an enterprise ; and 
it was in consequence not till the regency of Mary of Guise, 
that an apparently favourable opportunity offered itself for the 
purpose. The race of Celestine, John's immediate younger 
brother, being now extinct, they turned their thoughts towards 
Donald Du, the son of Angus Og, in whose favour the first 
attempt had been made shortly after the death of the last lord 
of the Isles ; and they now determined to make a final effort 
to place him in possession of the inheritance which they con- 
ceived to have been unjustly wrested from him. Donald Du 
had been carried off, when still a minor, on the successful siege 
of Kerneburgh, by Sir Andrew Wood, and had been detained 
in captivity ever since in Inchconnel ; but a sudden and 
unexpected attack upon his castle by the Macdonalds of 
Glenco effected his liberation, and he had no sooner arrived 
in the Isles than he was declared lord, and received the sub- 
mission of the chiefs of the different branches of the Macdonalds 
and the other Island lords. In this insurrection, Donald Du 
was supported by the earl of Lennox, who was at 

A.D. 1545. . . , T- ,. , . , , 

that time \n the English interest ; and as long as 
Lennox continued in league with him, he remained in pos- 
session of the Isles ; but that earl having soon after made his 


peace with the king, and disbanded his followers, Donald Du 
went to Ireland for the purpose of raising forces to support 
his occupancy of the territories of the Isles, but having been 
attacked with fever, he died at Drogheda, on his way to 
Dublin, and with him ended the direct line of the earls of 
Ross and lords of the Isles, and all hopes of a descendant of 
Somerled again reigning over the Isles. Thus ended the last 
effort made by the Macdonalds to regain their former state 
and power, and from this period they have remained divided 
and broken up into various branches, whose numerical strength 
is rendered unavailing by their mutual jealousy and want of 

Upon the forfeiture of the lords of the Isles, and failure of 
their subsequent attempts to retrieve their affairs, the various 
clans occupying the extensive territories which had owned 
their sway, were found in one or other of three situations : 
of one class were a number of clans which became dependent 
upon the jVIacdonalds, but were not of the same origin, and 
these clans, with the exception of the Macleods, Maclanes, and 
others, opposed all the attempts made for the restoration of the 
family of the Isles, while upon the success of that opposition 
all of them raised themselves in strength and power. A second 
class were of the same origin as the family of the Isles, but 
having branched off from the main stem before the succession 
of the elder branches fell to the clan, in the person of John 
of the Isles, in the reign of David II., and before they rose 
to the height of their power, they now appeared as separate 
clans ; of these were the Macalasters, Macians, &c. The Mac- 
alasters are traced by the MS. of 1450 from Alaster, a son of 
Angus Mor ; and while the general derivation is confirmed 
by their tradition, the particular steps of the genealogy con- 
tained in that MS. derive corroboration from the records. 

The Macalasters inhabited the south of Knapdale and the 
north of Kintyre, and during the government of the lords of 
the Isles, we of course know little of their history. But after 
the forfeiture of the Isles they became independent, and were 
immediately exposed to the encroachments of the Campbells, 
so that their principal possessions soon found their way into 
different branches of that wide spreading race. 

234 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

The Macians of Ardnamurchan are descended from John^ 
a son of Angus Mor, to whom his father gave the property 
which he had obtained from the crown ; while the descent of 
the Macians, or Macdonalds, of Glencoe, from John Fraoch, a 
son of Angus Og, lord of the Isles, is undoubted, and never 
has been disputed, and their history in no degree differs from 
that of the other branches of the Macdonalds. There is but 
one circumstance peculiar to them which has rendered their 
name celebrated in the annals of the country, — that of the 
infamous massacre to which this unfortunate clan was sub- 
jected ; a well-known transaction, into the details of which it 
is unnecessary here to enter. It must for ever remain a blot 
upon the memory of the king in whose reign it happened, and 
on that nobleman by whom it was perpetrated, which can never 
be effaced ; and so detestable a transaction is almost sufficient 
to justify the hatred and opposition of the Highlanders towards 
the established government, which, united to their personal 
attachment to the line of their ancient kings, produced the 
unfortunate insurrections of the years 171 5 and 1745. The 
third set were the descendants of the different lords of the 
Isles, who still professed to form one clan, but among whom 
the subject of the representation of the, lords of the Isles soon 
introduced great dissensions. These branches all adopted the 
name of Macdonald, and the first great division which took 
place among them was between the descendants of the sons 
of the two marriages of John, lord of the Isles, in the four- 
teenth centur}-. The descendants of the first marriage were 
limited to the clan Ranald ; those of the second consisted of 
the Macdonalds of Sleat, Isla, and Keppoch, and the former, 
now that the circumstances which had given the latter in some 
degree a pre-eminence were at an end, loudh' asserted their right 
to be considered as the patriarchal chiefs of the clan Donald. 

Among the descendants of the latter famil}', the represen- 
tation now clearly devolved upon the Macdonalds of Sleat, who 
were descended of Hugh, brother of John, the last lord of the 
Isles. The three branches, however, remained in ever}- respect 
independent of each other. The second branch, or Macdonald 
of Isla and Kintyre, after maintaining themselves for some time 
in a state of considerable power, at length sunk gradually before 


the secret but powerful agenc}- of the Campbells, and were 
finally extinguished in the beginning of the reign of Charles I., 
when the Campbells, having procured letters of fire and sword 
against the whole clan Jan Vor, and having also obtained the 
assistance of the Macleods, Macleans, Macneils, Camerons, and 
others, compelled the last representative of that house, Sir 
James Macdonald, to fly to Spain, upon which the earl of 
Argyll got a grant of their lands, which forms the most valu- 
able portion of his property. 

The Macdonalds of Keppoch remained for a long period 
in the forcible possession of their district of Lochaber, in spite 
of every effort to dispossess them, which occasioned their being 
engaged in perpetual feuds with their neighbours. They were 
the last of the Highlanders who retained the system of preda- 
tory warfare, in which at one time all were equally engaged ; 
and as it is not long since the\' became extinct, it mav be said 
that they preserved the warlike and high-spirited character of 
the ancient Highlander until it terminated with their own 
existence. The Macdonalds of Sleat is the only branch which 
has increased in power and station, and as their elevation to 
the peerage by the title of Lord Macdonald has placed them 
in the apparent situation of chief of the race, it will not be 
improper to add a few remarks on the claims of the different 
branches to that station. 

While it is fullv admitted that the familv of Sleat are the 
undoubted representatives of the last lord of the Isles, \-et if 
the descendants of Donald, from whom the clan took its name, 
or even of John of the Isles in the reign of David II., are to 
be held as forming one clan, it is plain that, according to the 
Highland principles of clanship, the jus sanguinis, or right of 
blood to the chiefship lay unquestionably in the male repre- 
sentative of John, whose own right was undoubted. John of 
the Isles had, b}- Amy, the daughter of Roderick of the Isles, 
three sons, John, Godfrey, and Ranald, of whom the last only 
left descendants, and from whom the clan Ranald unquestion- 
ably derive their origin. By the daughter of Robert II., John 
had four sons, Donald, lord of the Isles, from whom came the 
Macdonalds of Sleat ; John Mor, from A\hom the Macconells 
of Kyntyre ; Alaster, the progenitor of Keppoch ; and Angus. 

236 THE HIGHLANDERS [part li 

In this question, therefore, there are involved two subordi- 
nate questions which have given rise to considerable disputes. — 
First, was Am}-, the daughter of Roderic of the Isles, John's 
legitimate wife, and were the sons of that marriage John's 
legitimate heirs ? And secondly, if the sons of the first marriage 
are legitimate, who is chief of the clan Ranald, the only 
clan descended from that marriage ? With regard to the first 
point, there are two documents which place it beyond all doubt 
that Amy was John's lawful wife. The first of these is a dis- 
pensation from the Pope in 1337 to John, son of Angus of the 
Isles, and Amie, daughter of Roderic of the Isles. The second 
is the treaty between John and David II. in 1369, in which the 
hostages are " Donaldum filium meum ex filia domini senescali 
Scotis genitum Angusium filium quondam Johannis filii mei et 
Donaldum quemdam alium filium meum naturalemy John had 
by Am}' three sons, John, Godfrey, and Ranald, and the dis- 
tinction made in the above passage between Jolm ''filius iiieus" 
and Donald filius meus natiiralis, proves that this family were 
legitimate. But it is equally clear that the children of this 
marriage were considered as John's feudal heirs. When Robert 
II., in pursuance of the policy which he had adopted, persuaded 
John to make the children of the two marriages feudally inde- 
pendent of each other, it was effected in this manner. John 
received charters of certain of his lands containing a special 
destination to the heir of the marriage with the king's daughter, 
while he granted a charter of another portion of his lands, 
consisting of the lordship of Garmoran, part of Lochaber, and 
some of the Isles, among which \\as that of Uist, to Reginald, 
one of the children of the first marriage, to be held of John's 
lawful heirs, and this charter was confirmed b}' the king. That 
a special destination was necessary to conve}' part of John's 
possessions to the children of the second marriage is in itself 
a strong presumption that they were not his feudal heirs, and 
from the terms of Reginald's charter it is manifest that he must, 
on John's death, have held his lands of the person universall}' 
acknowledged to be the feudal heir of the lord of the Isles. 
This person, ho\\:ever, was his brother Godfrey, the eldest 
surviving son of the first marriage, for in a charter to the 
Abbey of Inchaffra}', dated 7th July, 1389, he designates himself 


" Dominus de Uist," and dates his charter " Apud Castrum 
meum de Ylantirum," both of which are included in Reginald's 
charter. Moreover it appears that he was succeeded in this by 
his son Alexander, for when James II. summoned a parliament 
at Inverness, to which those only who held their lands in chief 
of the crown, were bound to attend, and when, from the state 
of the country at the time, it is apparent that no one would 
appear who could on an}^ ground excuse his absence, we find 
among those who obeyed the summons, i\lexander Macreury 
de Garmoran. Macreury and Macgorr}-, or son of Godfrey, 
are convertible expressions, and the attendance of this chief 
in parliament j^roves that the sons of Godfrey held the lordship 
of Garmoran in chief of the crown. W'e find, however, that the 
rest of Reginald's lands were equal!)' held of this Alexander, 
for Reginald's charter included a considerable part of Loch- 
aber, and in the year 1394 an indenture was entered into 
between the Earl of Moray and .Alexander de Insulis dominus 
de Lochaber for the protection of certain lands in Morayshire. 
We thus see that when it was intended that the eldest son of 
the second marriage should hold his lands of the crown a 
special destination to him was requisite, that a charter of 
certain lands was given to Reginald to be held of John's feudal 
heirs, and that these very lands were held in chief of the crown 
by Godfrey, the eldest surviving son of the first marriage, and 
by his son Alexander. It is, therefore, plain that the actual 
effect of Robert the Second's policy was to divide the possessions 
of his formidable vassals into two distinct and independent 
feudal lordships, of which the Dominium de Garmoran et 
Lochaber was held by the eldest son of the first marriage, 
and the Dominium Insularum b}' the eldest son of the second 
marriage ; and in this state they certainly remained until the 
fatal parliament of 1427, when the lord of Garmoran was 
beheaded and his estates forfeited to the crown. 

The polic}' of James I. induced him then to reverse the 
proceedings of his predecessor Robert, and he accordingly- 
concentrated the Macdonald possessions in the person of the 
lord of the Isles, but this arbitrary proceeding could not deprive 
the descendants of the first marriage of the feudal representation 
of the chiefs of the clan Donald, which now, on the failure of* 

238 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

the issue of Godfrey in the person of his son Alexander, unques- 
tionabh' devolved on the feudal representative of Reginald, the 
youngest son of that marriage. 

Of the descent of the clan Ranald, there is no doubt what- 
ever, nor has it ever been disputed, that they derive their 
origin from this Reginald or Ranald, a son of John, lord of the 
Isles, b\- Amy Mac Ror\\ Ranald obtained, as we have seen, 
from his father the lordship of Garmoran, which he held as 
vassal of his brother Godfrev, and these were the same terri- 
tories which the clan Ranald possessed, as appears from the 
parliamentary records in 1587, when mention is made of the 
" Clan Ranald of Knoydart, Mo}'dart, and Glengarry." There 
has, however, arisen considerable doubt which of the various 
families descended from Ranald anciently possessed the chief- 
ship, and without entering in this place into an argument of 
any great length on the subject, we shall state shortly the 
conclusions to which we have been led after a rigid examination 
of that question. 

That the present family styling themselves "of Clanranald'' 
v\-ere not the ancient chiefs there can be no doubt, as it is 
now a matter of evidence that the)' are descended from a 
bastard son of a second son of the old family of Moydart, 
who assumed the title of captain of Clanranald in 1531, and 
as long as the descendants of the elder brother remain they 
can have no claim by right of blood. The point we are to 
examine is, who was the chief previous to that assumption ? 

Ranald had five sons, of whom three only left issue, viz. : 
Donald, from whom descended the family of Knoydart and 
Glengarry ; .Allan, the ancestor of the famil}' of ^loydart ; and 
Angus, from whom came the famih- of Moror. That the 
descendants of Angus were the \-oungest branch, and could 
have no claim to the chiefship, has never been disputed, and 
the question accordingly lies between the descendants of Donald 
and of Allan. The seniority of Donald, however, is distinctly 
proved by the fact, that on the extinction of the family of 
]\Ioror, the famih' of Moydart succeeded legalh- to that pro- 
perty ; consequently by the law of Scotland the\' must have 
been descended from a \'ounger son than the family of Kno}'dart 
and Glengarry, and it follows of necessit}' that the latter famil}' 


must have been that of the chief. Independently, however, of 
this argument, derived from the history of their properties, the 
same fact is evinced by the constant appearance of the latter 
family at the head of the clan previous to the usurpation of the 
family of Moydart ; thus when after Alexander, the lord of Gar- 
moran, had been beheaded in 1427, and the lord of the Isles was 
soon after imprisoned, the whole clan rose in arms and revenged 
the death and imprisonment of their chiefs by the defeat of 
the king's army at Inverlochy in 1433, they were commanded 
by Donald the son of Ranald, for the oldest authorities term 
the Donald Balloch who led the clan on this occasion, the son 
of Alexander's uncle. The only other Donald who stood in 
this relation to Alexander was the son of John Mor, of Isla ; 
but the same authorities state that the Donald Balloch of Inv-er- 
lochy was betrayed and slain but a very few years afterwards, 
while the Donald the son of John Mor was unquestionably alive 
in 1462. The Donald Balloch of Inverlochy must, therefore, 
have been Donald the son of Ranald, and unless he was the 
chief of the clan Ranald it is difficult to suppose that he would 
have been placed in command of the whole clan, while the 
natural inference from the transaction is, that the clan turned 
themselves to Donald as the person who had the best right to 
lead them. Donald had three sons, John, Alaster, and Angus. ^ 
On the forfeiture of Alexander Mac Gorry of Garmoran in 
1427, that part of Lochaber possessed by him was granted to 
the Earl of Marr, while all those lands held of him by the 
clan Ranald remained in the crown, and consequently the 
chief of clan Ranald must have held them as crown vassal. ^ 
Accordingly we find John, the eldest son of Donald, holding 
his lands of the crown, as appears from a gift of the nonentries 
of Knoydart to Cameron since the decease of umq'i John 

'MS. of 1450. charter to the ancestor of tlie Mac- 

neills, dated in 1427, of the island of 

«Not only did the chief of clan Barra, and of the lands of Boysdale in 

Ranald hold these lands of the crown, ^j^^ -^^^^^ ^^ Uist,both of whicli islands 

as he had previously held them of are included in Reginald's charter, and 

Alexander Mac Gorry, but it actually ^^^ ^j ^^^-^^^ ^^,^^^ ^^ ^.^ j^^^.^ g^^j,^ 

appears that the Lord of the Isles was certainly held in chief of the crown 

his vassal in some of them, for Alex- ^^ ^^^ j^gj^ ^^ ^1,^ ^^.^^ marriage, 
ander. Lord of the Isles, grants a ■• 

240 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Mac Ranald,' and this sufficientl)- indicates his position at the 
head of the clan, as, if he had not been chief, he would have 
held his lands of the Moydart family. John appears by another 
charter to have died in 1467, and in 1476 the lands of Garmoran 
were included in a crown charter to John, lord of the Isles. 
The lords of the Isles had invariably manifested the most 
inveterate hostilit}- to the rival family of Garmoran and their 
supporters. On the acquisition of Lochaber by Alexander, lord 
of the Isles, after his release from prison, this animosity 
displayed itself in the proscription of the Macdonalds of 
Keppoch, Macmartins of Letterfinlay, and others who were 
always faithful adherents of the patriarchal chief of the clan. 
The same animosity was now directed against the chief of clan 
Ranald ; his lands of Knoydart appear to have been given 
to Lochiel, the lands of Southmoror, Arisaig, and many of 
the isles, were bestowed on Hugh of Slait, the brother of the 
lord of the Isles, and in this way the principal branch of the 
clan Ranald was reduced to a state of depression from which 
it did not soon recover. To this proscription there was but 
one exception, viz., the family of Moydart, who alone retained 
their possessions, and in consequence, on the forfeiture of the 
lords of the Isles, they did not hesitate to avail themselves 
of their situation, and place themselves at the head of the clan, 
a proceeding to which the representative of the ancient chiefs 
was not in a situation to offer any resistance. This was prin- 
cipally effected by John, surnamed Mudortach, a bastard son 
of the brother of the laird of Moydart ; but the character of 
the usurpation is sufficiently marked b}' the title of captain of 
clan Ranald, which alone he assumed, and which his descendants 
retained until the latter part of the last centur\-, when the 
Highland title of captain of clan Ranald was most improperly 
converted into the feudal one of Macdonald of clan Ranald 
At the forfeiture of the lords of the Isles, the family of 
Knoydart and Glengarry consisted of two branches termed 

'That this John Mac Ranald was tlie other brandies of the clan ; second, 

John, the eldest son of Donald, appears on tlie failure of his descendants the 

from two facts ; first, his lands adjoin descendants of Alaster succeeded to 

those of Alaster, the second son, and them, 
are separated by them from those of 


respectively " of Knoydart " and " of Glengarry," of which the 
former was the senior ; and while the senior branch never 
recovered from the depressed state to which they had been 
reduced, the latter obtained a great accession of territory, and 
rose at once to considerable power by a fortunate marriage 
with the heiress of the Macdonalds of Lochalsh. During the 
existence of the senior branch, the latter acknowledged its head 
as their chief, but on their extinction, which occurred soon after 
the usurpation by the family of Moydart, the Glengarry branch 
succeeded to their possessions, and as representing Donald, the 
eldest son of Ranald, the founder of the clan, loudly asserted 
their right to the chiefship, which they have ever since 

As the Moydart family were unwilling to resign the position 
which they had acquired, this produced a division of the clan 
into two factions, but the right of the descendants of Donald 
is strongly evinced by the above fact of the junior branch 
acknowledging a chief during the existence of the senior, and 
only maintaining their right to that station on its extinction 
and by the acknowledgment of the chiefship of the Glengarry 
family constantly made by the Macdonalds of Keppoch and 
other branches of the clan, who had invariably followed the 
patriarchal chiefs in preference to the rival family of the lords 
of the Isles. 

These few facts, which are necessarily given but very 
concisely, are however, sufficient to warrant us in concluding 
that Donald, the progenitor of the family of Glengarry, was 
Ranald's eldest son ; that from John, Donald's eldest son, 
proceeded the senior branch of this family, who were chiefs 
of clan Ranald ; that they were from circumstances, but prin- 
cipally in consequence of the grant of Garmoran to the lord 
of the Isles, so completely reduced, that the oldest cadet, as 
usual in such cases, obtained the actual chiefship, with the 
title of captain, while on the extinction of this branch, in the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, the family of Glengarry, 
descended from Alaster, Donald's second son, became the legal 
representatives of Ranald, the common ancestor of the clan, 
and consequently posses.sed that right of blood to the chiefship 
of which no usurpation, however successful, could deprive them. 


242 THE HIGHLANDERS [part li 

The family of Glengarry have since then not only claimed the 
chiefship of the clan Ranald, but likewise that of the whole 
clan Donald, as undoubted representative of Donald, the 
common ancestor of the clan ; and when the services rendered 
b\- the famil\- to the house of Stuart were rewarded by a 
peerage from Charles H., Glengarry indicated his rights by 
assuming the title of Lord Macdonell and Arross, which, on 
the failure of male heirs of his bodv', did not descend to his 
successors, although his lands formed in consequence the barony 
of Macdonell. 

Quarterly. First — Or, a lion rampant, azure, armed and langued, gules. 
Second — A dexter hand coupee, holding a cross crosslet, fitchee sable. 
Third — Or, a ship with her sails furled, salterwise, sable. Fourth — 
A salmon naiant, proper, with a chief waved argent. 


Principal Seat. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Mac Alaster of Loup, now Somerville Macalister of Kennox. 

The Ranaldson IMacdonells, of ?kIacdonell and Glengarry, are the unques- 
tionable male representatives of the founder of the clan, and therefore 
possess the right of blood to the chiefship. 

In 1427 the Macdonells of Garmoran and Lochaber mustered 2000 men. 
In 171 5, the whole clan, 2S20. In 1745, 2350. 

Cla)t Diigall. 

The jMacdogalls have, in general, been derived from Dogall, 
the eldest son of Somerled, and it has been hitherto assumed, 
that Alexander de Ergadia, who first appears in 1284, and who 
was the undoubted ancestor of the clan, was the son of Ewen 
de Ergadia, or king Ewen, who appears so prominently at the 
period of the cession of the Isles. Bat this derivation, to which 
the resemblance of name has probably given rise, is unquestion- 
ably erroneous, for independently of the fact that there is strong 
evidence for king Ewen having died without male issue, it is 


expressly contradicted by the manuscript of 1450, in two several 
places. That invaluable record of Highland genealogies says 
expressly, that from Ranald sprung the clan Rory, clan Donald, 
and clan Dogall ; and that this was no mere mistake, but the 
real opinion of the author, is evident, for in another place he 
gives the genealogy of the Macdogalls of Dunolly from Dugall 
the son of Ranald. This, however, is confirmed by the chartu- 
lary of Cupar, for the manuscript makes Alexander de Ergadia, 
the son of Duncan, son of Dugall, son of Reginald ; and in 
that chartulary Duncan-us de Lornyn witnesses a charter of the 
earl of Atholl of the lands of Dunfallandy, dated certainly 
between 1253 and 1270, while during that period Ewen was in 
possession of the lands of his branch of the family. These facts 
seem to leave little room to doubt that this clan were in reality 
descended from Ranald, the son of Somerled, and that their 
ancestor Dugall was the brother of Donald, the founder of the 
clan Donald. 

The first appearance of this family is at the convention of 
1284, where we find the name of Alexander de Ergadia, and 
his attendance on this occasion was probably procured by a 
crown charter of his lands ; but from this period we lose sight 
of him until the reign of Robert the Bruce, when the opposition 
of Alexander de Ergadia, lord of Lorn, and his son John to the 
succession of that king, has made his name familiar in Scottish 
history. Alaster having married the third daughter of John, 
called the Red Comyn, who was slain by Bruce in the Domini- 
can church at Dumfries, became, from that circumstance, the 
mortal enemy of that prince, and on more than one occasion, 
was the means of reducing him to great straits, in the early 
period of his reign. After his defeat at Methven, in June 19, 
1306, Bruce retreated to the mountainous part of Braidalbane, 
and approached the borders of Argyllshire, where, with his 
followers, who did not amount to three hundred men, he was 
encountered b\' Lorn with about a thousand of his followers, 
and repulsed after a very severe engagement. The Bruce with 
difficulty escaped, and the greatness of his danger is attested 
by the fact, that upon one occasion he was only able to extricate 
himself from th^ followers of Lorn by unclasping his mantle ; 
and the brooch, which is said to have been lost bv him during 

244 T 1 1 E H I G H L A N D E R S [part li 

the struggle, is still preserved as a remarkable relic in the family 
of INIacdogall of D.unolh'. 

The place where this battle was fought is still called Dairy, 
or the King's Field. On another occasion, when he had been 
obliged to hide from his enemies, he was tracked for a long 
distance by John of Lorn and his part}', b\' aid of a blood- 
hound, and only escaped by the exertion of alm.ost incredible 
personal courage and activity. It is not to be wondered at, 
therefore, that when Bruce had finally established himself 
firml}- on the throne of Scotland, one of his first objects 
should be directed towards crushing his old enemies the Mac- 
dogalls, and revenging the many injuries he had received from 

Accordingly, he marched into Argyllshire for the purpose 
of la}-ing that countr}- waste and taking possession of Lorn, 
and found John of Lorn, with his followers, posted in the for- 
midable and nearly inaccessible pass which intervenes between 
the mountain of Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe. But the 
militar\' skill of Bruce was able to overcome even the natural 
difficulties of the country, for he dispatched a party to scale 
the mountain, and gain the heights, while attacking the enemy 
in front, he speedil\- changed their resistance into precipitate 
flight — the difficulty of the pass, which had been of advantage 
to them in the attack, now proved their ruin when in flight, and 
accordingly, being unable to effect their escape, they were totally 
routed, and that with great slaughter. L^pon this event Bruce 
laid waste Argyllshire, and besieged the castle of Dunstafnage, 
which he compelled to surrender. Alaster, of Lorn, hopeless 
of successfully continuing his opposition, submitted to the vic- 
torious king, while his son John, who could not expect to be 
admitted to any terms, fled to England. The greater part of 
their territories were forfeited by the king, and given to Angus 
of Isla, who throughout had been one of his main supports, 
while Alaster was allowed to retain the district of Lorn. At 
this time the king of England was making preparations for that 
great expedition into Scotland, which resulted in the battle of 
Bannockburn, and on the arri\al of John of Lorn as a fugitive, 
he appointed him admiral of the fleet, and dispatched him to 
Scotland, to co-operate with the land army. The battle of 


Bannockburn soon after confirmed Bruce in the secure pos- 
session of the crown, and he was no sooner relieved from the 
apprehension of any farther attempt on the part of the king of 
England to regain possession of Scotland, than he determined 
to drive the lord of Lorn out of the Isles, where he had arrived 
with his fleet. For this purpose, when he had accompanied his 
brother Edward in his expedition to Ireland, he turned his 
course towards the Isles, and having arrived at Tarbet, he is 
said to have caused his gallevs to be dragged over the isthmus 
which unites Kintyre and Knapdale. 

"And quhen thai, that in the His war, 
Hard tell how the gud king had thar 
Gert hys schippis with saillis ga 
Owt our betuix (the) Tarbart (is) twa, 
Thai war abaysit sa wtrely 
For thai wyst, throw auld prophecy, 
That he that suld ger schippis sua 
Betuix thai seis with saillis ga, 
Suld wyne the His sua till hand 
That nane with strength suld him withstand, 
Tharfor thai come all to the king, 
Wes nane withstud his bidding, 
Owtakyn Hione of Lome aliayne. 
But Weill sun eftre was he tayne 
And present right to the king." ' 

The result of this expedition was the complete dispersion 
of the English fleet and the seizure of John of Lorn, who was 
imprisoned in Dumbarton, and afterwards in Lochleven, where 
he remained during the rest of Robert Bruce's reign. The 
death of Robert Bruce seems to have procured for John of Lorn 
his libert\% and as his marriage with a relation of the Comyn 
had caused the forfeiture of his possessions, so he was now to 
recover his former station by a more politic connexion with the 
royal famil)'. He appears to have married a grand-daughter of 
Robert Bruce, early in the reign of his successor, David II., and 
was in consequence not only restored to his pos.sessions, but 
even obtained a grant of the additional property of Glenlion. 
These extensive territories were not, however, doomed to remain 

^ Barbour. 

246 THE H I G H L A X D K R S [part ii 

long in the familx', for on the death of Ewen, the last lord of 
Lorn, they passed into the famil)' of Stewart of Innermeath ; 
John Stewart of Innermeath and his brother Robert having 
married his two daughters and co-heiresses, and by an arrange- 
ment between the brothers, the descendants of John Stewart 
acquired the whole of the Lorn possessions, with the exception 
of the Castle of Dunolly and its dependencies, situated in the 
heart of their lordship, which remained to the next branch of 
the family. 

Thus terminated the power of this branch of the descendants 
of Somerled, who at one time rivalled the other branches in 
their power and the extent of their territories. The chieftain- 
ship of the clan now descended to the family of Dunolly, who 
were descended from Allan, the son of John of Lorn, and 
brother of Ewen, the last lord, and who still survive the decay 
of their ancient grandeur. This family continued to enjoy the 
small portion of their ancient estates which remained to them 
until the year 171 5, "when the representative incurred the 
penalt)- of forfeiture for his accession to the insurrection of 
that period, thus losing the remains of his inheritance to replace 
upon the throne the descendants of those princes whose acces- 
sion his ancestors had opposed at the expense of their feudal 
grandeur." But the estate was restored to the family in 1745, 
in consequence of their having taken no part in the attempt 
of that }^ear. 

Quarteily. First and fourth — In a field azure, a lion rampant, argent, for 
Macdogall. Second and third — Or, a lymphad sable, with flame of 
fire issuing out of the topmast, proper, for Lorn. 


. ■ Principal Scat. 


Oldest Cadet. 
Macdogall of Raray. 

Macdogall of Dunolly. 

In 1745, 200: 


Siol Gillevray. 

Besides the Macdonalds and the Macdogalls, the MS. of- 
1450 deduces various others of the Argyllshire clans from the 
same race. According to that ancient document, a certain 
Gillebride rig eilan, or king of the Isles, lived in the twelfth 
centur}-, and was descended from a brother of Suibne, the 
ancestor of the Macdonalds slain in 1034 ; and from Anradan, 
or Henr\', the son of Gillebride, the same authority deduces 
the Macneills, Maclachlans, Macewens, and Maclaisrichs. That 
the genealogy by which this Gillebride is brought from an 
ancestor of the Macdonells, in the beginning of the eleventh 
century, is authentic, is perhaps more than we are entitled to 
assert ; but the existence of a traditionary affinity between 
these clans and the race of Somerled at so early a period, 
sufficient!}' proves that they were of the same race. Gillebride, 
probabl}', merely possessed the Norwegian title of a Sudreya 
Konungr, or Hebridean king, which was bestowed on the 
principal Island chiefs ; and the seat of his race appears to 
have been Lochaber, as the different clans descended from 
him can in general be traced from thence, and his immediate 
ancestor is termed " Abrice," or of Lochaber. I have ventured 
to call this tribe the Siol Gillebride, or Gillevray, as I find 
an old Sennachy of the Macdonalds stating that in the time 
of Somerled, " the principal surnames in the country (Morvern, 
Ardgour, and Lochaber) were Mac Innes and Mac Gillevrays, 
who were the same as the Mac Innes." It appears from this 
passage, that the oldest inhabitants of these districts consisted 
of two clans, the Mac Gillevrays and the Mac Innes, who were 
of the same race ; and as there is a very old traditionary con- 
nexion between the clan A Mhaisdir, or Mac Innes of Ardgour, 
and several of the clans descended from Anradan Mac Gille- 
bride, it seems to establish the identitv of this tribe with the 
old Mac Gillevrays of Morvern. The various branches of this 
tribe probably formed but one clan, under the name of the clan 
Gillevra}', until the conquest of Arg}'ll by Alexander II., when 
they fully shared in the ruin which fell upon those who adhered 
"to Somerled, with the exception of the Macneills, who agreed 
to hold their lands of the crown ; and the Maclachlans, who 

248 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

regained their former position by marriage with an heiress of 
the Lamonds. The other branches of this tribe appear, on the 
breaking up of the clan, to have followed as chief the Mac- 
dogall Campbells of Craignish, a family descended of the 
kindred race of the Mac Innes of Ardgour, who likewise 
attained to considerable power. 

Clan Ncill. 

The Macneills first appear in the beginning of the fifteenth 
century as a powerful clan in Knapdale, and as this district 
was not included in the sheriffdom of Arg}'ll, it is probable 
that their ancestor had agreed to hold the district as a vassal 
of the crown. In the beginning of the preceding century we 
find that the district of Knapdale had been forfeited and given 
by Robert Bruce to John de Menteth, and in 1310 there is a 
letter by the king of England granting to John Terrealnanogh 
and Murquocgh, the sons of Swen de Ergadia, the lands of 
Knapdale, " que quondam fuit antecessorum dictorum Johannis 
Terrealnanogh et Murquogh," and from which they had been 
driven out b}- John de Menteth. This Swen appears to be 
the Swen Ruoidh alluded to in an ancient manuscript genealogy 
of the Campbells, which adds, he was owner of a great castle, 
Swen in Knapdale, and was Thane of Glassrie and Knapdale. 
The next notice of the Macneills is a charter by Alexander, 
lord of the Isles, dated in 1427, to Gilleonan Roderici Mur- 
chardi Makneill, of the Island of Barra, and the lands of 
Boysdale, in Uist, to him and the longest liver of his brothers 
procreated between Roderic Makneill and the daughter of 
Ferquhard Mac Gilleon, and failing them to the heirs whom- 
soever of the said Roderic. 

But Barra was not at this time chief of the clan, as we 
shall afterwards see. In 1472 we find Hector Mactorquill 
Macneill, keeper of Castle Swen, witnessing a charter of 
Celestine, lord of Lochalsh ; and from his office of heritable 
keeper of Castle Swen, which, together with Knapdale, had 
been again wrested from his ancestors by Robert Bruce, and 
granted to John of the Isles by Robert II., there seems little* 
doubt that he must have been chief of the clan. Six years 


after this the family of Geya first make their appearance in 
the person of Malcolm Macneill of Gigha, who, in 1478, witnesses 
a charter of John, lord of the Isles. 

From this period the clan remained divided into these two 
families of Gigha and Barra, and exhibits the somewhat remark- 
able feature of part of their possessions being completely 
separated off and lying at a very great distance from the rest ; 
and as both these properties appear in the possession of the 
clan at a very early period, it is difficult to say how one part 
of the clan came to be so detached from the rest. This cir- 
cumstance, however, has afforded grounds for a dispute between 
the Macneills of Barra and the Macneills of Taynish, or Gigha, 
with regard to the chiefship, a circumstance which can be 
easily accounted for when we recollect that the remoteness of 
the two possessions must have superseded all dependence or 
connexion between their occupiers, and that a long period of 
independence would naturall)- lead each of them to claim the 
chiefship of the whole. As late as the middle of the sixteenth 
century, it is certain that neither of these families were in 
possession of the chiefship, for in the Register of the Privy 
Seal there appears in that \-ear a letter " to Torkill Macneill, 
chief and principal of the clan and surname of Macnelis ; " 
and it is unquestionable that this Torkill was neither Gigha 
nor Barra, for at this date Macneill of Gigha's name was Neill 
Macnele, and that of Barra, Gilleownan Macneill. As this 
Torkill is not designated b)- any property, it is probable that 
the chiefs of the Macneills possessed the hereditary office of 
keeper of Castle Swen, in which capacit)' the first chief of the 
clan appears. After this period we cannot trace any chief of 
the clan distinct from the families of Barra and Gigha, and 
it is probable the family of the hereditary keepers of Castle 
Swen became extinct in the person of Torkill, and that his 
heiress carried his possessions to the Macmillans, whom we 
find soon after in possession of Castle Swen, with a considerable 
tract of the surrounding country. Tradition unquestionably 
points to Barra as now chief of the clan, and in this family 
the right to the chiefship probably exists, although the extreme 
distance of his possessions, which he appears from the first 
charter of Barra to have obtained in consequence of a marriage 

250 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

with an heiress of the Macleans, from the rest, led many of 
them to follow the Macneills of Gigha, and made the latter 
famil)' almost independent. 

Quarterly. First— .Azure, a lion rampant argent. Second— Or, a hand 
coupee, fessways, gules, holding a cross, crosslet, fitchee, in pale azure. 
Third— Or, a lymphad sable. Fourth — Parted per fess, argent and 
vert, to represent the sea, out of which issueth a rock, gules. 


Sea Ware. 

Principal Seat. 

Knapdale, afterwards Barra. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Macneill of Gigha. 

Macneill of Barra. 

Clan Lachlan. 

The Maclachlans are traced, by the manuscript of 1450, to 
Gilchrist, the son of Dedaalan, who was son of that Anradan 
from whom all the clans of this tribe are descended, and besides 
the \\\'^\ authorit}- which this genealogy derives from the 
circumstance that there is every reason to think that the author 
of the manuscript was a Alaclachlan, it is farther confirmed 
by the fact that at the period at which the manuscript mentions 
a Gillepadrig Mac Gilchrist as one of the chiefs of the clan, 
we find in the Paisley chartulary a charter by " Laumanus 
filius Malcolmi," the ancestor of the Lamonts, witnessed by 
Gillpatrick filius Gillchrist. Universal tradition asserts that 
the}- acquired these lands in Cowall by marriage with an heiress 
of the Lamonds, and the manuscript apparently indicates the 
same fact, for it states that this Gilchrist married the daughter 
of Lachlan Mac Rory, while Lachlan Mac Rory is exactly 
cotemporarx- with Angus Mac Ror\-, lord of Cowall, chief of 
the Lamonds. Their original seat appears to have been in 
Lochaber, where a ver\- old branch of the family has from 
the earliest period been settled as native men of the Camerons. 
]^ut as this clan soon after their acquisitions in Cowall became 
dependent upon the Campbells, we are unable to furnish any 


history of the subsequent generations. Although the Maclachlans 
were thus reduced by the Campbells to a species of dependence, 
the\' still remained a clan of considerable strength, and for a 
long period do not appear to have been subject to any great 
change in their condition : in the year 1745 their strength was 
estimated at three hundred men. 

A rms. 

Quarterly. First — Or, a lion rampant gules. .Second— Argent, a hand 

coupee fessways, holding a cross, crosslet, fitchee, gules. Third — 
Or, a galley, her oars in saltyre, sable, placed in a sea proper. Fourth 
— Argent, in a base undee vert, a salmon naiant, proper. 

Mountain ash. 

Principal Seat. 
Strathlachlane in Cowall. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Maclachlan of Coruanan, in Lochaber. 

Maclachlan of Maclachlan. 

In 1745, 300. 

Clan Ewen. 

The Reverend Mr. Alexander Macfarlane, in his excellent 
account of the parish of Killfinnan, says, " on a rocky point on 
the coast of Lochfine, about a mile below the church, is to be 
seen the vestige of a building called Caesteal Mhic Eobhuin> 
i.e., Mac Ewen's castle " ; and he adds, " This Mac Ewen was 
the chief of a clan, and proprietor of the northern division of the 
parish called Otter." The reverend gentleman professes his 
inability to discover who this Mac Ewen was, but this omission 
is supplied by the manuscript of 1450, which contains the 
genealogy of the clan " Eoghan na Hoitreic," or clan Ewen of 
Otter, and in which they are brought from Anradan, the common 
ancestor of the Maclachlans and Macneills. 

This family became ver}^ soon extinct, and their property 
gave a title to a branch of the Campbells ; of their history 
consequently, we know nothing whatever. 


Siol Eachern. 

Under this name are comprised the Macdogall Campbells of 
Craignish, and Lamonds of Lamond, both of whom are very old 
clans in Argyllshire, and were, as we have reason to think, of 
the same race. 

Clan Dugall CraignisJi. 

The policy of the Argyll family led them to employ every 
means for the acquisition of property and the extension of the 
clan. One of the arts, which they used for the latter purpose, 
was to compel those clans which had become dependent upon 
them to adopt the name of Campbell, and this, when successful, 
was generally followed at an after period by the assertion that 
that clan was descended from the house of Arcryll. In general, 
the clans thus adopted into the race of Campbell, are sufficiently 
marked out by their being promoted only to the honour of being 
an illegitimate branch, but the tradition of the country invariably 
distinguishes between the real Campbells and those who were 
compelled to adopt their name. Of this, the Campbells of 
Craignish afford a remarkable instance ; the}- are said to be 
descended from Dogall, an illegitimate son of one of the 
ancestors of the Campbells in the twelfth century, but the 
universal tradition of the country is that their old name was 
Mac Eachern, and that they were of the same race with the 
Macdonalds. This is partly confirmed by their arms, being the 
galley of the Isles, from the mast of which hangs a shield, 
' containing the gironc of eight pieces or and sable of the 
Campbells, and still more by the manuscript of 1450, which 
contains a genealogy of the Mac Eacherns, deducing them, not 
from the Campbells, but from a certain Nicol Mac Murdoch in 
the twelfth century. When the Mac Gillevrays and Mac Innes 
of Morvern and Ardgour were dispersed and broken up, we find 
that many of their septs, especially the Mac Innes, although not 
residmg on any of the Craignish properties, acknowledged that 
family as their chief Accordingly, as the Mac Gillevrays and 
Mac Innes were two branches of the same clan, and separate 
from each other, as early as the twelfth century ; and as the 
Mac Eacherns are certainly of the same race, while Murdoch, 


the first of the clan, is exactly contemporary with Murdoch, the 
father of Gillebride, the ancestor of the Siol Gillevray, there 
seems little doubt that the Siol Eachern and the Mac Innes 
were the same clan. ^ That branch of the Siol Eachern which 
settled at Craignish in the ancient sheriffdom of Argyll, were 
called the Clan Dogall Craignish, and are said to have obtained 
this property from the brother of Campbell of Lochow in the 
reign of David II. Certain it is that in that reign, Gillespie 
Campbell obtained these lands on the forfeiture of his brother, 
Colin Campbell of Lochow, and it is probable that from him the 
clan Dougall Craignish acquired their right. The Lochow 
family were afterwards restored from this forfeiture, and the 
Craignish family were then obliged to hold their lands of the 
Argyll family. 

They remained for some time after this a powerful family, 
though unable eventually to resist that influence which swept 
all the neighbouring clans under the power of the Campbells, 
where they soon became identified with the other clans which 
had been compelled to assume the name of Campbell and to 
give up their existence as a clan, to swell the already overgrown 
size of that powerful race. 

Clan Laniond. 

There are few traditions more universally believed in the 
Highlands, or which can be traced back to an earlier period, 
than that the Lamonds were the most ancient proprietors of 
Cowall, and that the Stewarts, Maclachlans, and Campbells, 
obtained their possessions in that district by marriage with 
daughters of that family, .-^t an early period, we find that a 
small part of Upper Cowall was included in the sheriffdom of 
Argyll, while the rest of the district remained in the shire of 
Perth ; it is plain, therefore, that the lord of Lower Cowall had, 
on the conquest of Argyll by Alexander II., submitted to the 
king, and obtained a crown charter. Towards the end of the 
same century, we find the high steward in possession of Lower 

^ There was an old family of Mac property of the Mac Innes, it strongly 
Eachern of Kingerloch, and as Kinger- confirms the hypothesis that the two 
loch marches witii Ardgoiir, the old clans were of the same race. 

254 THE HIGHLANDERS [part li 

Cowall, and the Maclachlans in that of Strachhichlan ; and as it 
appears that, in 1242, Alexander the high steward married Jean, 
the daughter of James, son of Angus Mac Rory, said to be lord 
of Bute, while the manuscript of 1450 informs us that about the 
same period Gilchrist Maclachlan married the daughter of 
Lachlan Mac Ror)-, it seems probable that this Roderic or 
Ror}' was the person who obtained the crown charter of Lower 
•Gowall, and that b)- these marriages the property passed to the 
Stewarts and Maclachlans. The identity of these facts with the 
tradition, at the same time, indicate that Angus Mac Rory was 
the ancestor of the Lamonds. 

After the marriage of the Stewart with his heiress, the next 
of the Lamonds whom we trace is " Duncanus filius Ferchar," 
and " Laumanus filius Malcolmi nepos ejusdem Duncani," who 
grant a charter to the monks of Paisley, of the lands of Kilmor 
near Lochgilp, and of the lands " qiias nos et antecessoj'es Jiostri 
apud Kilmun habuerunt." In the same year there is a charter 
b}- Laumanus filius Malcolmi, of Kilfinan, and this last charter 
is confirmed in 1295 by " Malcolmus filius et hasres domini 
quondam Laumani." That this Laumanus was the ancestor of 
the Lamonds is proved by an instrument, in 1466, between the 
monastery of Paisley and John Lamond of that ilk, regarding 
the lands of Kilfinan, in which it is expressly said, that these 
lands had belonged to John Lamond's ancestors. From Lau- 
manus the clan appear to have taken the name of Maclaman 
or Lamond ; and previous to Laumanus they unquestionably 
bore the name of Macerachar, and clan ic Earachar. The 
close connexion of this clan with the clan Dougall Craignish is 
marked out b\' the same circumstances which have indicated 
the other branches of that tribe ; for during the power of the 
Craignish famih', a great portion of the clan ic Earacher followed 
that family as their natural chief, although they had no feudal 
right to their services. There is one peculiarity connected with 
the Lamonds, that although b}- no means a powerful clan, their 
genealogy can be proved by charters, at a time when most other 
Highland families are obliged to have recourse to the uncertain 
lights of tradition, and the genealogies of their ancient senna- 
chies; but their great antiquity could not protect the Lamonds 
from the encroachments of the Campbells by whom they were 


soon reduced to as small a portion of their original possessions 
in Lower Cowall, as the other Argyllshire clans had been of 
theirs. As a clan, the Lamonds were of very much the same 
station as the Maclachlans, and like them, they have still 
retained a part of their ancient possessions. 

Azure, a lion rampant argent. 

Crab-apple tree. 

Principal Seat. 
Lower Cowall. 

Lamond of Lamond. 

256 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 


The Gm.l.c,\^i.'~( continued). 

At ho II. ■ 

The district of Atholl unquestionably formed, from the very 
earliest period, one of the principal possessions of the powerful 
and extensive tribe of the Gallgael ; but it possesses peculiar 
claims to our attention from the fact, that it is the earliest 
district in Scotland which is mentioned in history, and that it 
has, from a remote period, preserved its name and its boundaries 
unaltered. Its principal interest, however, arises from the strong 
presumption which exists, that the family which gave a long line 
of kings to the Scottish throne, from the eleventh to the four- 
teenth century, took their origin from this district, to which they 
can be traced before the marriage of their ancestor with the 
daughter of Malcolm II. raised them to the throne of Scotland. 
When Thorfinn. the earl of Orkney, conquered the North of 
Scotland, the only part of the territory of the Northern Picts 
which remained unsubjected to his power was the district of 
Atholl and part of Argyll. The king of the Gallgael was slain 
in the unsuccessful attempt to preserve the Isles, and the king of 
the Scots, with the whole of his nobility, had fallen in the short 
but bloody campaign which laid the North of Scotland under 
the Norwegian earl. 

Had any of the Scottish nobility remained, of sufficient 
power to offer the least resistance to the progress of the Nor- 
wegians, there can be little doubt that he would naturally have 
been placed on the throne ; but in the disastrous condition to 
which the Scots were reduced, they had recourse to Duncan, the 
son of Crinan, abbot of Dunkeld, by the daughter of Malcolm, 
the last Scottish king. Duncan, after a reign of six years, was 
slain in an attempt to recover the northern districts from the 


Norwegians ; and his sons were driven out by Macbeth, who 
thus added the South of Scotland, for the time, to the Norwegian 

The circumstances attending the establishment of the race of 
Crinan again on the throne are well known ; but there is no fact 
which so completely establishes the entire overthrow of the 
Scots, and that the country wrested by Malcolm Kenmore from 
the Norwegians, had been completely divested of its nobility, 
than this, that Malcolm's family were no sooner in possession of 
the crown, than they divided the Lowlands of Scotland into 
earldoms, according to the Saxon polity, which were all of them 
granted to different members of the royal family. The districts 
included in Thorfinn's original conquest, we know reverted to 
the descendants of the original proprietors, but the earldoms 
into which the rest of the country was divided, can all be traced 
originally in the possession of Malcolm Kenmore. 

These earldoms, however, consisted of exactly the country 
actually inhabited by the Scots, and the earldom of Atholl pos- 
sessed by the Northern PiCTS. The establishment of Malcolm 
Kenmore, as king of Scotland, would, in the circumstances, place 
the Scottish districts at his disposal, and there is therefore the 
strongest presumption that Atholl was the original possession of 
his race before they ascended the throne. This is confirmed by 
the circumstance that when the descendants of Duncan, the 
eldest son of Malcolm Kenmore, were excluded from the crown 
by his younger sons, they succeeded, nevertheless, as we shall 
afterwards see, to the earldom of Atholl, and still more by the 
designation which our earlier historians gave to Crinan, the 
founder of this royal race. Fordun, in mentioning the marriage 
of Crinan, abbot of Dunkeld, with Beatrice, daughter of Malcolm 
II., the issue of which marriage was Duncan, who succeeded his 
maternal grandfather, and was murdered by Macbeth, styles 
Crinan '■'' Abthanus de Diil ac seneschallus insularum." With 
regard to the first of these two titles, Pinkerton remarks, " To 
support this nonsense, Fordun brings more nonsense, and tells 
us abba is father, and thana is respondence vel numerans, and 
the abthane was a chamberlain, who managed the king's rent 
and treasury. But who," adds Pinkerton, " ever heard of an 
abthane? and who knows not that Dull, a village, could not 

258 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

give a title which was, in that age, territorial ?" and in this 
remark he has been followed by all subsequent historians. 

The following notices will shew, not only that there was such 
a title as abthane in Scotland, but even that that very title of 
Abthane of Dull existed to a late period, and consequently that 
Pinkerton, in denying its existence, only betrays his gross 
ignorance, and want of real research into the minuter parts of 
Scottish history : — 

Charter. — William the Lyon to the Bishop of Dunkeld, of 
terra de Abbethayn de Kilntichael, in Strathardolf ^ 

Charter. — Hugh, Bishop of Dunkeld, of reditu viginti 
solidorum qui nos et clericos nostros contingit de Abthania 

Charter. — William the Lion to Gilbert, Earl of Stratherne, 
of Madderty, and confirmation by Galfridus, Bishop of Dunkeld, 
of the said grant to the church of Madderty, et super terra qui 
AhtJien de Madderdj'n dicitur et super quieta clamatione de Can 
et Conneck qui clerici Dunkelden antiquitus ah eadetti Abthen 
perceperunt. 3 

Charter by David H. to John Drummond, of the office of 
Baillierie, of the AbtJiain of Dull ^ in Athol 4 ; and 

Charter by the same king to Donald Macnayre, terre de 
Ester Fossache, in Abthania de Dull, in vie de Perth. 5 

These notices establish the existence of Abthanes and 
Abthainries in Scotland, and also of the particular Abthainry of 
Dull in Atholl. As it is very plain, however, that I^'ordun 
neither knew what it meant, nor of the existence of the 
Abthainrie of Dull, independent of Crinan, it appears evident 
that he must have drawn his information from some authentic 
document, for it is impossible to suppose that he would invent 
a title which he could not explain, or if he had been aware 
of the actual existence of the Abthainrie of Dull in after times, 
that he would have given the absurd explanation which he did. 
Crinan is the first person who can be traced of that race which 
gave so many kings to Scotland frvjm Duncan to Alexander 

^ Chartulary of Dunfermline. * Robertson's Index. 

- Chartulary of St. Andrews. * Ibid. 

•" Chartulary of Inchaffray. 

CHAP. V] O F S C O T L A N D 259 

III. ; their origin is lost in obscurity, and if, as we conclude, the 
titles given to Crinan by Fordun are drawn from an authentic 
source, it becomes a matter of great interest and importance to 
trace the origin and signification of the title of xAbthane 
generally, and of that of Abthane of Dull in particular. 

The title of Abthane is peculiar to Scotland, and does not 
appear to have existed in any other country. It also appears to 
have been of but very rare occurrence even in Scotland, for I 
have been able to trace only three Abthainries in Scotland — 
viz., those of Dull, Kilmichael, and Madderty ; the two former 
in Atholl, and the latter in Stratherne. From this it is plain 
that it could not have been always a peculiar and distinctive 
title, but must merely be a modification of the title of Thane, 
produced by peculiar circumstances. The name shews that it 
must in its nature have been strictly analogous to the Thane, 
and for the same reason it must have taken its origin subsequent 
to the introduction of Thanes into Scotland. It would be 
needless here to controvert the idea formerly so prevalent in 
Scotland, that the Thanes were the ancient governors of the 
provinces, for it is now universally admitted that the Scottish 
Thane was the same title with the Saxon Thegn, or Thane, in 
England, and that it was introduced with the Saxon polity into 
Scotland ; but it will be necessary to advert to an erroneous 
•opinion first started by Chalmers in his Caledonia, and since 
adopted by many, that the Thane was merely a land steward or 
bailiff, and that the Abthane was just the abbot's steward, 
in the same way as the king's thane was the king's steward. 
With regard to the Abthane this is impossible, when we 
■consider that although there were many abbots in Scotland 
who must have had their land stewards, yet there are 
but three instances of the title of Abthane connected with land 
in Scotland. His idea of the nature of ,the Thane is equally 
erroneous, for if the Scottish Thane was introduced by the 
Saxons, as Chalmers has succeeded in establishing, the char- 
acters of the offices must be the same ; and nothing is clearer 
than that the Saxon Thane was not a land steward, but the 
actual proprietor of a certain extent of land held directly of 
the crown, and that it was the title of a Saxon land proprietor 
■exactly equivalent to the Norman baron. Of course, judging 

26o THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

b}' analogy, the Thanes and Abthanes of Scotland must have 
been also land proprietors. In order to ascertain the period in 
which they were introduced into Scotland, it \vill be necessary 
to advert shortly to the events in Scottish history which caused 
the introduction of Saxon polity. It is well known that Duncan, 
the son of Crinan, was killed by Macbeth, and that his son 
Malcolm fled to England for protection ; and it is now equally 
clear that Macbeth was not the usurper he is generally con- 
sidered, but that he claimed the throne under the Celtic law of 
succession, and that he was supported throughout by the Celtic 
inhabitants of the country, who inhabited all to the north of the 
Firths of Forth and Clyde, Lothian being possessed by the 
Angli. Malcolm Canmore was placed upon the throne by an 
English army. On his death, however, his brother Donald 
succeeded in obtaining possession of the crown, to the prejudice 
f'f Malcolm's sons ; and as he claimed the throne on the Celtic 
law that brothers succeeded before sons, he was supported by 
the Celtic inhabitants, and his party succeeded in expelling the 
English whom Malcolm had introduced. Donald was expelled 
by an English arm\' composed principally of Normans, who 
placed Duncan, Malcolm's eldest son, generally considered a 
bastard, on the throne, but finding he could not retain possession 
of it without the concurrence of the Celtic part)', Duncan was 
forced to dismiss the English once more — a measure which did 
not avail him, for he was slain by his uncle, Donald Bane, and 
the expulsion of the English completed. Edgar, his brother, 
now made the third attempt to introduce the English, and 
succeeded, but he was in a very different situation from his 
father and his brother : they had been placed on the throne by 
an English army composed principally of Normans, vv^ho left 
them when they had succeeded in iheir immediate object, but 
Edgar was, through his mother, the heir of the Saxon monarch}- 
and the legitimate sovereign of all the Saxons, a part of whom 
{possessed the south of Scotland. This is a fact which has 
not been attended to in Scottish history, but it is a most 
important one ; and it is certain that Edgar entered Scotland 
at the head of a purely Saxon army, and that during his reign 
and that of his successor, Alexander I., the constitution of Scot- 
land was purely Saxon. The Norman barons and Norman 

CHAP. V] O F S C O T L A N D 261 

institutions were not introduced till the accession of David I., 
who had previously been to all intents and purposes a Norman 
baron, and possessed through his wife an extensive Norman 
barony. Previous to his accession in 11 24 there is not a trace 
of Normanism, if I may be allowed the expression, in Scotland, 
and we find no other titles of honour than just the two denomina- 
tions of Saxon landholders, the eorl or earl, and the Thegn or 
Thane. It is consequently during these two reigns, or between 
the years 1098 and 1 124, that we must look for the origin of 

We have already remarked, that Abthane was strictly 
analogous to Thane, and consequently implies a Saxon landed 
proprietor ; and the name shew^s that Abthanus and Abthania 
are the same words with Thanus and Thanagum, with the 
addition of the prefix x\b. It follows, therefore, that that prefix 
must express some characteristic of an ordinary Thanus ; in 
other words, that the .Abthanus was a landed proprietor, with 
an additional character expressed by the syllable Ab. The 
syllable, however, is manifestly derived from Abbas, an abbot ; 
and here we are at once supported by the analogous case of the 
German Abbacomites. Du Cange defines them to be " Abbates 
qui simul erant comites," and refers to the similar term of Abba 
milites, implying abbots who held lands of a subject superior ; 
there can, therefore, be little doubt, judging by analogy, that 
Abthanus was just Abbas qui simul erat Thanus, or an abbot 
who possessed a Thanedom ; and as Thanedoms were certainly 
hereditary in Scotland, the name once applied to the lands 
would always remain. Such being manifestly the origin of 
Abthanedoms generally, we shall now be better enabled to 
ascertain the origin of the three Abthanedoms of Dull, Kil- 
michael, and Madderty. From what has been said, it is plain 
that the Abthaneries were just Thanedoms held of the crown 
by an abbot, and that they must have been so created between 
1098 and 1 124, It is, however, a remarkable circumstance, that 
these three Abthanedoms were in two essential respects in the 
very same situation, for, first, as appears from the charters 
previously quoted, they were at the earliest period at which we 
can trace them in the crown ; 2dly, that the monks of Du7ikeld 
had ancient rights connected with all of them. From the 

262 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

previous arguments regarding Abthanes, these facts can be 
accounted for in one way only. They must, in the first place, 
have been all created during the reign of Edgar or Alexander 
I. ; in the second place, the rights possessed by the monks of 
Dunkeld, to the exclusion of their bishop, proves that the abbas 
who possessed them all must have been the Culdee abbot of 
Dunkeld, who was only superseded b}^ the bishop in the reign 
of David I. ; and thirdly, as we find them all in the crown at 
such an early period, the king of Scotland must have been that 
abbot's heir. Now, it is a very remarkable circumstance that 
these three facts are actually true of the abbet of Dunkeld during 
the reign of Edgar, for he was Ethelred, Edgar's youngest 
brother, and he died without issue, so that the king of Scot- 
land was in reality his heir. As the arguments regarding the 
necessary origin of these three Abthanedoms are thus so 
remarkably supported by the fact that there did exist at the 
time a person in whom these requisites are to be found, a 
fact otherwise so very unlikely to occur, we are warranted in 
concluding that this was their real origin, and that Ethelred, 
the abbot of Dunkeld, must have received from his brother 
Edgar three Thanedoms, which, in consequence, received the 
peculiar appellation of Abthanedoms, and which, upon his 
death, fell to the crown. It would also appear that as he 
was the onl)- abbot of royal blood to whom such a munificent 
gift would be appropriate, so these were the only Abthanedoms 
in Scotland. This will likewise account for the appellation 
given by Fordun to Crinan. At that period there was certainly 
no such title in Scotland, but it is equally certain that there 
were no charters, and although Crinan had not the name, he 
may have been in fact the same thing. He was certainly abbot 
of Dunkeld, and he may have likewise possessed that exten- 
sive territory which, from the same circumstance, was afterwards 
called the Abthanedom of Dull. Fordun certainly inspected 
the records of Dunkeld, and the circumstance can only be 
explained by supposing that Fordun ma}' have there seen the 
deed granting the Abthanedom of Dull to Ethelred, abbot of 
Dunkeld, which would naturally state that it had been pos- 
sessed by his proavus crinan. and from which P'ordun would 
conclude that as Crinan possessed the thing, he was also known 


by the name of Abthniius de Dull. From this, therefore, we 
learn the very singular fact that that race which gave a long 
line of Kings to Scotland, were originally lords of that district 
in Atholl, lying between Strathtay and Rannoch, which was 
afterwards termed the Abthania de Dull. 

Besides the Abthanrie of Dull we find that in the reign of 
Alexander I., nearly the whole of the present district of 
Braedalbane was in the crown, and these facts leave little 
room to doubt that the royal family were originally, before 
their accession to the throne, lords of the greater part of 
Atholl. Duncan, however, succeeded to the throne in 1034, 
and at that period the whole of Atholl was under the dominion 
of the Gallgael. Of this race, then, the descendants of Crinan 
must unquestionably be, and this is singularly corroborative 
of the title of Senneschallus visiilaruui, likewise given to 
Crinan by Fordun, and which must have reached Fordun 
from the same source with that of Abthanus de Dull, and is 
consequently equally authentic. The exact connexion of 
Crinan with the family of the Gallgael kings, it would of course 
be difficult to point out, but it may not be improper to mention 
that there exists a very old tradition to which other circum- 
stances lead mc to attach considerable credit, viz., that Crinan 
was the son of Kenneth, Thane of the Isles,' and if this be 
true, he would thus be the brother of Suibne, the last regulus 
of the Gallgael, and by the operation of the Gallic law of 
tanistry, Duncan might, during his life, have been at the head 
of this numerous and powerful tribe. 

By Edgar, the whole of Atholl, with the exception of 
Braedalbane, was erected into an earldom and bestowed upon 
Aladach, the son of his father's brother,^ and on his death, 
towards the end of the reign of David I., it was obtained by 
Malcolm, the son of Duncan, the eldest son of Malcolm Ken- 
more, 3 either because the exclusion of that family from the 
throne could not deprive them of the original property of the 

'Ancient History of the Drummonds. Ciiarfulary of Dunfermline. In that 

.. ri 1 • o chartf-r Malcolm implies that he was 

- Orkneyinga Saga, , , , ^ , , . 

aescended or more than one king 

•" That Malcolm was the son of Dun- buried at Dunfermline, which is only 

can is proved by a charter in the possible on this supposition. 

264 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

family, to which they were entitled to succeed, or as a com- 
pensation fur the loss of the crown. The earldom was enjoyed 
in succession by his son Malcolm, and his grandson Henry, and 
on the death of the latter, in the beginning of the thirteenth 
century, his granddaughters, by his eldest son, who predeceased 
him, carried the earldom into the families of Galloway and 
Hastings, from whom it latterly came to the family of De 
Strathboggie.i When the Celtic earls of Atholl thus became 
extinct, and in consequence the subordinate clans assumed 
independence, we find the principal part of Atholl in the 
possession of the clan Donnachie or Robertsons. 

Clan Dotuiachie. 

The tradition which has hitherto been received of this clan, 
indicates, that they are a branch of the clan Donald, and that 
Duncan Reamhar, the first of the Robertsons of Struan, was 
a son of Angus Mor, lord of the Isles. Unfortunately, the 
Robertsons are not one of the clans noticed in the manuscript 
of 1450 ; but nevertheless, that manuscript affords a strong 
presumption that this tradition is unfounded, — for although it 
details all the branches of the Macdonalds with great minute- 
ness and accuracy, and especially the descendants of the sons 
of Angus Mor, it does not include the Robertsons among them, 
and this presumption will appear the stronger when we consider 
not only the great extent of territory which this Duncan, as 
we shall afterwards see, possessed in the district of Atholl, but 
that the arms of the two families are quite different, and that 
they do not appear ever to have had any connection, as a clan, 
with the Macdonalds. There is also another fact which renders 
it impossible that this Duncan could have been the son of 
Angus of the Isles, and which consequently throws additional 
doubt upon the tradition, viz., that in several charters Duncan 
is designated " filius Andrece de Atholia,"^ and this designation 
'' de At/iolia" continued in the family for several generations 

•■ The peerage writers have been teenth century there is scarcely a 

more than usually inaccurate in their single step in the genealogy which 

account of the earldom of Atholl. is correctly given in the peerage. 

From its origin down to the four- 2 Eobertson's Index. 


The real descent of the family is indicated by their desig- 
nation, which was uniformly and exclusively de Atholia. It is 
scarcely possible to conceive, that the mere fact of a stranger 
possessing a considerable extent of territory in the earldom, 
should entitle him to use such a designation. Atholia was 
the name of a comitatus, and after the accession of David I 
the comitatus was as purely a Norman barony as any baronia 
or dominium in the country. It will not be denied that the 
name of the barony was exclusively used by its possessors and 
their descendants, and that the possession of a territorial name 
of barony as surely marks out a descent from some of the 
ancient barons, as if every step of the genealogy could be 
proved ; and if we turn to the other earldoms in Scotland, 
we find it to be invariably the case, that those families whose 
peculiar designation is the name of the earldom, are the male 
descendants of the ancient earls. Thus the Northern families 
of " De Ross" can all be traced to the earls of that district, and 
the case is the same with Sutherland, Mar, Angus, Strathern, 
Fife, Menteith, and Lenox. The only apparent exception to the 
rule is in the case of the earldom of Moray, and in that the 
origin of the family of De Moravia is altogether unknown, so 
that the probability is equally great that that family is descended 
from the former earls of Moray, as that they were foreigners. 
Further, although many families have at different times obtained 
extensive territories in several of the earldoms, even greater 
in proportion than those of the Robertsons, yet not a single 
instance can be found of any of these families assuming a 
designation from the earldom in which their territories were 
situated, nor is it possible to produce a single family not 
descended from the ancient earls who bear the name of the 
earldom. The designation De Atholia thus distinctly indicates 
a descent from the ancient earls of Atholl, but the history of 
their lands points to the same result. The possessions of 
Duncan de Atholia, who is considered the first of the Robert- 
sons of Struan, consisted, so far as can be ascertained, of three 
classes. ist. Those lands, afterwards erected into the barony 
of Struan, of which Glenerochie formed the principal part, and 
which were strictly a male fief 2d. The barony of Disher and 
Toyer, comprehending the greater part of the present disti'ict 

266 T H 1-: HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

of Braedalbane. 3d. Adulia, or Dullmagarth. By examining 
the ancient chartularies, it appears that these last lands were 
formerly in the possession of the ancient earls of Atholl, for 
Malcolm, the third earl, grants the " Ecclesia de Dull to St. 
Andrews,"' and this charter was afterwards confirmed by his 
son, Henry, the last earl. 

Now, it will be observed as a remarkable fact, that although 
the Lowland families who succeeded Henr\- in the earldom of 
Atholl, obtained possession of a considerable portion of the 
earldom by that succession, }-et we do not find them in posses- 
sion of Dull, which, on the contrary, belongs to this family, De 
Atholia. It is plain that this family could not have acquired 
these lands by force in the face of the powerful barons who 
successively obtained the earldom, and as we can only account 
for its not forming a part of the succession of these earls by 
supposing Dull to have been a male fief, it follows, of necessity, 
that the familv of De Atholia must have been the heirs male 
of the family of Atholl. 

But the other possessions point still more clearh- to the real 
descent of the famih- ; for there exists in the chartulary of 
Cupar a charter by Coningus filius Henrici Comitis Atholie 
to the abbey of Cupar, from which it appears that he was 
]3roprietor of Glenerochie ; and this charter is confirmed by 
Eugenius filius Coningi filii Henrici Comitis Atholie, likewise 
proprietor of Glenerochie. Glenerochie is the same as Strowan, 
and is included in the charter erecting the possessions of the 
family into the baron\' of Strowan ; and as Strowan was at all 
times a male fief, it is scarcely possible to doubt the descent 
of Duncan De Atholia from Ewen the son of Conan the son of 
Henry, earl of Atholl. There is a charter, however, which still 
more clearly proves it. It appears from the chartular}' of 
Inchaffray, that Ewen, the son of Conan, had married Maria, 
one of the two daughters and co-heiresses of Duncan, the son 
of Convalt, a powerful baron in Stratherne. Duncan's posses- 
sions consisted of Tullibardine and Finach in Stratherne, and 
of Lethindy in Gowrie ; his eldest daughter, Muriel, married, the .seneschall of Stratherne, and their daughter, Ada, 

' Chartulary of St. Andrews. 

CHAP. V] O F S C O T L A N D 267 

carried her mother's inheritance, consisting of the half of Tulli- 
bardine, the lands of Ruchanty, &c., being the half of Finach, 
and part of Lethindy, to William De Moravia, predecessor of 
the Murrays of Tullibardine. The other half of these baronies 
went to Ewen Mac Conan, who married Maria Duncan's 
youngest daughter. Now, we find that in 1284, this Maria 
granted her half of Tullibardine to her niece, Ada, and William 
Moray, her spouse ; and in 1443, we find Robert Duncanson, the 
undoubted ancestor of the Robertsons of Strowan, designating 
himself, Dominus de Fynach, and granting his lands of Finach, 
in Stratherne, consanguineo suo Davidi de Morav'a Domino de 
Tullibardine. The descent of the family from Ewen, the son of 
Conan, the second son of Henry, earl of Athol, the daughters of 
whose eldest son carried the earldom into Lowland families, is 
thus put beyond all doubt, and the Strowan Robertsons thus 
appear to be the male heirs of the old earls of Atholl. Ewen 
was succeeded by his son, Angus, as I find a charter to Angus 
filius Eugenii, of part of the baron}- of Lethendy. About fifty 
\-ears after, this appears : Duncanus de Atholia filius Andreae de 
Atholia ; and as Duncan is in tradition invariably styled " Mac 
Innes," it is probable that this name was derived from this 
Angus, and that Andrew de Atholia was his son. 

From this view of the earlier generations of the clan 
Donnachie, it would accordingly seem that upon the death 
of Henry, the last Celtic earl of Atholl, the district of Atholl 
was divided, and that the eastern part descended in the female 
line, by the feudal law, while the western and more inaccessible 
part was divided among the male descendants of the old earls, 
according to the Highland law of gavel. 

Andrew, of whom we know nothing, was succeeded by his 
son, Duncan, termed Rearnhixir, or Fat. Duncan acquired a 
great addition to his lands, including the south half of Rannach, 
by marriage with one of the daughters of a certain Callum 
Ruaidh, or Malcolm the Red, styled Eeamnach, or De Lennox, 
whom tradition connects closely with the earls of Lennox, 
Malcolm appears to have been the same person with a Malcolm 
de Glendochart, who signs Ragman's Roll in 1296, for it is 
said that the other daughter of Callum Ruaidh married 
Menzies, and it is certain that the Menzies possessed soon after 

268 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Glendochart, and the north half of Rannoch. The descent of 
Malcohn from the earls of Lennox is probable, for we find John 
Glendochar witnessing a charter of Malduin, third earl of 
Lennox, in 1238. Duncan appears to have attained to very 
considerable power at that time, and to have been in possession 
of extensive territories in the wilder and more mountainous 
parts of the district of Atholl. From him the clan took their 
name of clan Donnachie, and he is still the hero of many 
traditions in that country. Of Robert de Atholia, his son and 
successor, we know little. By marriage with one of the 
daughters and co-heiresses of Sir John Sterling, of Glenesk, he 
obtained part of that property which his daughter Jean, however, 
carried into the family of Menzies of Fothergill, and by his 
second marriage with one of the co-heiresses of Fordell, he 
appears to have had four sons, Thomas, Duncan, Patrick, 
ancestor of the family of Lude, and Gibbon. During the life 
of Thomas we find the first appearance of the clan Donnachie, 
as a clan, when the)' played a distinguished part in the raid 
which the Highlanders made into Angus in 1392, in which 
Sir Walter Ogilvie, sheriff of Angus, and many other Lowland 
barons were slain. According to Winton — 

•' Thre chiftanys gret ware of thaim then 
Thomas, Patrik, and Gibbone, 
Duncansonys wes thare surnowne.'' 

Thomas had an onh- daughter, Matilda, who carried part of 
the property, by marriage, to the family of Robertson of Stra- 
loch. The barony of Strowan came to Duncan, Thomas's 
brother, who is mentioned in 1432, under the designation of 
" Duncanus de Atholia dominus de Ranagh," and who was 
succeeded by his son Robert. 

Robert was a person of considerable power, and was held in 
great dread by the neighbouring Lowlanders, whom he was in 
the habit of continually harassing b}- his predatory incursions 
upon their possessions. Upon the murder of king James I. b\- 
the earl of Atholl and his accomplice, Graham, Robert was 
fortunate enough to arrest Graham, together with the master of 
Atholl, after the commission of the bloody deed ; but an}' 
advantage which might have been gained by this act was 

CHAP. V] O F S C O T L A N D 269 

thrown awav' b\' the reckless chief, who desired nothino- more 
than to have the lands which remained to his family erected into 
a barony, which was granted to him along with the empty 
honour of being entitled to carr}- a man in chains upon his 
escutcheon, together with the motto of 

" Virtutis gloria merces." 

The historian of the abbots of Dunkeld relates a curious anec- 
dote connected with the death of this chief of the clan 
Donnachie. It seems that Robert had some dispute with Robert 
Forrester, of Torwood, regarding the lands of Little Dunkeld 
which the laird of Strowan claimed, but which had been feued 
by the bishop of Dunkeld to Torwood. Robert Reoch had 
consequently ravaged these lands, but upon one occasion, on his 
way to Perth, he was met near Auchtergaven b}- Torwood, and a 
conflict immediate!)- took place between the parties, in which 
Robert was mortall}- wounded on the head. But the hard}' chief, 
heedless of the consequences, and having bound up his head with 
a white cloth, is said to have ridden in that state to Perth, and 
there obtained from the king the new grant of his lands of 
Strowan, as a reward for the capture of the master of Atholl, 
and on his return to have expired in consequence of the 
wound which he had received. 

Notwithstanding that the remaining possessions of the family 
of Strowan had been erected into a baron}', the}' were surrounded 
by far too many powerful neighbours to be able to retain them 
long. The greater part of the territories which once belonged 
to them had alread}' found their wa}' into the possession of the 
grasping barons in their neighbourhood, and being unable, in 
point of strength, to cope with them, every opportunit}' was 
taken still farther to reduce their alread}' diminished possessions. 
Accordingly, some generations afterwards, the earl of Atholl, 
taking advantage of a wadset which he possessed over Strowan's 
lands, which in those da}'s was not an uncommon mode of 
acquiring property, succeeded in obtaining possession of nearly 
the half of the estates which remained to them ; and notwith- 
standing the manifest injustice of the transaction, the Robertsons 
were never afterwards able to recover possession of their lands, 
or to obtain satisfaction against a nobleman of so much power 

2/0 T H E II 1 G H LAND E R S [part ii 

and influence. Hut in spite of the diminished extent of their 
estates, the Robertsons have been able al\va}-s to sustain a pro- 
minent station among the Highland clans, and to take an active 
share in every attempt which was made by the Gael of Scotland 
to replace the descendants of their ancient line of kings on the 

The deeds of Alexander Robertson of Strowan, in the insur- 
rection of 1715, as well as his eccentricity of character and poetic 
talents, have made the name of Strowan Robertson familiar to 
ev'ery one ; and although their estates have been three times 
forfeited, and their name associated with every insurrection of 
the Gael in Scotland, }-et a descendant of that ancient race still 
holds part of the original pos.sessions of the clan, with the name 
of Robertson of Strowan. 

Gules; three wolves' heads erased, argent, armed, and langued, azure. 

Fern or brakens. 

Principal Seat. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Robertson of Lude. 

Robertson of Strowan. 

In 17 1 5, Soo. In 1745, 700. 

Clan Pharlaii. 

This clan is the only one, with the exception perhaps of the 
clan Donnachie, whose descent from the ancient earls of the 
district in which their possessions la}% can be proved b)^ charter, 
and it can be shewn in the clearest manner, that their ancestor 
was Gilchrist, brother of Maldowen, the third earl of Lennox- 
There still exists a charter b\- Maldowen, earl of Lennox, to 
his brother Gilchrist " de terris de superiori Arrochar de Luss," 
which lands continued in the possession of the clan until the 
death of the last chief, and had at all times been their principal 
seat. But while their descent from the earls of Lennox cannot 


be doubted, the origin of these earls is a matter of greater 

The ancient earls of this district have not been fortunate 
enough to escape the grasp of the modern antiquaries, and 
they alone of the native earls of Scotland have had a foreign 
orisrin assigned to them. The first of the earls of Lennox who 
appears on record is Aluin comes de Levenax, who is mentioned 
in the early part of the thirteenth century, and from this Aluin 
there can be no doubt whatever that the later earls of Lennox 
were descended. It unfortunately happens, however, that an 
Aluin Macarchill witnesses a number of charters in the reign 
of David I., and that in the previous century Ordericus Vitalis, 
a Saxon writer, had mentioned the flight of a Northumbrian 
nobleman named :\rchillus into Scotland, in consequence of 
the of William the Conqueror, and although constant 
tradition asserts the earls of Lennox to be of native origin, 
this fact was sufficient for our Saxonizing antiquaries unani- 
mously to instal Archillus of Northumberland as the founder 
of the ancient earls of Lennox. ^ There are two facts, however, 
which materiall)' interfere with this arrangement. First, several 
<renerations intervene between Archillus the Northumbrian, and 
Archill the father of Aluin. Secondl}-, as many generations 
intervene between Aluin Macarchill and Aluin first earl of 
Lennox, whose identit)- could only be effected by giving Aluin 
a long life of 120 years, and a family at the great age of eight}-. 
Moreover, Aluin Macarchill on no occasion appears with the 
word Comes after his name, a fact of itself sufficient to shew 
that he had no connexion with any earldom. But, divesting 
this earldom of these puerile absurdities, its historv is perfectl\' 
clear. During the life of David I., there is distinct authorit)^ 
for its being no earldom, but having formed a part of the 
principalit}' of Cumbria. The next notice of Lennox is, that 
during the reign of Malcolm IV., and a part of that of William 
the Lion, their brother David, earl of Huntingdon-, appears as 
earl of Lennox. And as Lennox was previously a part of the 
principality of his grandfather, there can be little doubt that 
it had been for the first time erected into an earldom in his 

' Tlie accurate Lord Uailes perceived additional case under Lennox. 
tlu' absurditj- of this descent. See 

272 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

favour. After his death the next appearance of the earls is 
contained in two charters : ist. A charter relating to the church 
of Camps}', from ''Alj'ivfi comes de Levenax,filius ct heres Alwini 
coinitis dc Levenax, Maldowcni filio et kcrede nostra conccdente.'' 
2d. A charter relating to the same subject by " Maldozoen, films 
et heres co)nitis Ahvini junioris coniites de Levenax et heredes 
Alwini senioris comitis de Levenax'' '^ And these charters shew 
that a certain Aluin had been created Earl of Lennox by 
William the Lion. Who .^luin was it is almost impossible to 
determine, and in the absence of all direct authority we are 
driven to tradition, in this instance a surer guide, for the 
tradition is supported b\- documentary evidence. An ancient 
history of the Drummonds asserts, that the earls of Lennox 
before they acquired that dignity, were hereditary seneschals 
of Stratherne, and baillies of the Abthainrie of Dull in Atholl. 
From the chartulary of Inchaffray. and others, we can trace the 
hereditary seneschals of Stratherne subsequent to the creation 
of Aluin as earl of Lennox, but not before ; but it would appear 
that the later seneschals were a branch of an older family, who 
had possessed that office, and had been advanced to a higher 
dignity, for these hereditary offices invariably went according to 
the strict rules of feudal succession, and consequently remained 
at all times in the head of the family, but if the possessor of 
them was advanced to a higher dignity, incompatible with their 
retention, and had possessed more than one such hereditary 
office, they were in general separated, and given to different 
branches of the family. Now we find, that of the later sene- 
schals of Stratherne, one branch possessed the seneschalship, 
and another branch the office of baillie of the Abthainrie of 
Dull ; there m.ust therefore hav-e been an older family in pos- 
session of both of these hereditar}' offices, who had been 
advanced to a higher dignity ; and that that family was that 
of the earls of Lennox appears from the fact, that the later 
baillies of the Abthainrie of Dull possessed the lands of Pln- 
larig, in the barony of Glendochart, and held them as vassals 
of Malcolm de Glendochart, who was, as we have seen, a cadet 
of the earls of Lennox. This connexion of the Lennox family 

' Napier's Partition of the Lenno.x. 


with the crown lands in Braedalbane warrants us, in the absence 
of other evidence, in placing the family of Lennox under the 
title of Atholl, and this is confirmed by the fact, that the only 
possessions which we can trace in the family of the earls of 
Lennox, or their cadets out of that earldom, were all in Braed- 
albane, and that we find them in possession of these lands from 
the earliest period. 

Aluin was succeeded by his son, who bore the same name. 
This earl is very frequently mentioned in the chartularies of 
Lennox and Paisley, and he died before the year 1225, leaving 
nine sons. He was succeeded by his eldest son Maldowen, and 
among the other sons there appear to have been only two who left 
any male descendants. Aulay was founder of the family of Fassa- 
lane, who afterwards succeeded to the earldom by marriage with 
the heiress of the last earl, and Gilchrist obtained possession 
of the northern portion of the district of Lennox, and became 
progenitor of the clan Pharlan, or that of the Macfarlanes. 
Maldowen, the third earl, appears to have lived till about the 
year 1270, and he surrendered to the king the stronghold of 
Dumbarton, which had previously been the principal seat of 
the family. Of the fourth and fifth earls, both of whom bore 
the name of Malcolm, little is known ; their names, together 
with those of the earlier earls, having only been perpetuated 
in consequence of their numerous donations of land to the 
various ecclesiastical establishments. The latter earl was killed 
at Halidon Hill, in 1333, and in his son Donald the male line 
of this branch of the famil}' became extinct. Margaret, countess 
of Lennox, the only daughter of Donald, the sixth earl, married 
Walter de Fasselane, the heir male of the family, but any 
attempt to preserve the honours and power of the Lennox in 
the family proved ifnsuccessful, for Duncan, the eighth earl, 
their son, had no male issue, and his eldest daughter, Isabella, 
having married Sir Murdoch Stuart, the eldest son of the 
Regent, duke of Alban}-, he became involved along with his 
family in the ruin by which the house of Albany was over- 
whelmed. The honours and estates of Lennox were not, 
however, forfeited, but were possessed by Isabella, the widow 
of Duke Murdoch of Albany, under the title of Countess of 
Lennox, until her death in 1460; and on her decease the 


274 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

earldom was claimed b\' three families — those of Napier of 
Merchiston, and Haldane of Gleneagles, the co-heirs of her 
second sister Margaret, and that of Stewart of Darnley, who 
represented the youngest sister Elizabeth. It would be un- 
necessary here to enter into any detail of the measures by 
which the Darnley family at length succeeded in overcoming 
all opposition, and acquiring the title of Earl of Lennox ; 
suffice it to say, that they had finall}- accomplished this object 
in 1488. The earldom of Lennox having thus fallen into the 
possession of a Norman family, the clans which had formerly 
been united under the rule of the old earls, now became separate 
and independent, and the principal of these was the clan Phar- 
lane or Macfarlanes. 

The Macfarlanes were descended from Gilchrist, a younger 
brother of Malduin, earl of Lennox. This Gilchrist appears 
frequently as a witness to many of the Lennox charters, in 
which he is generally designated " frater Comitis." Duncan, 
his son, also obtained a charter of his lands from the earl of 
Lennox, in which the earl ratifies and confirms " Donationem 
illam quam Malduinus avus meus comes de Lennox fecit 
Gilchristo fratri suo de terris superioris Arrochar de Luss." 
Duncan appears in Ragman's roll under the title of " Duncan 
Mac Gilchrist de Sevenaghes." From a grandson of Duncan, 
termed Bartholomew, or in Gaelic, Parian, the clan took their 
surname of Macfarlane, and the connexion of Parian with 
Duncan and Gilchrist is sufficiently proved by a charter to 
Malcolm Macfarlan, or Parian's son. This charter proceeds 
upon the resignation of his father, Bartholomew, son of Mal- 
duin, and confirms to ^Malcolm the lands of Arrochar and 
others, " Adeo libere plenarie quiete et honorifice in omnibus 
et per omnia sicut carta originalis facta per atitecessores nostras 
a)itecessoribus dicti Malcohni ; " and from this Malcolm Mac- 
farlane the whole clan are descended. To Malcolm succeeded 
his son Duncan, sixth laird of Macfarlane, who obtained from 
Duncan, earl of Lennox, a charter of the lands of .Arrochar, 
in as ample manner as his predecessors held the same, which 
is dated at Inchmirin in the year 1395. This Duncan, laird 
of Macfarlane, was married to Christian Campbell, daughter 
to Sir Colin Campbell, of Lochow, as appears from a charter 


by Duncan, earl of Lennox, confirming a different charter 
granted by Duncan, laird of Macfarlane, in favour of Christian 
Campbell, daughter to Sir Colin Campbell, of Lochow, his wife, 
of the lands of Ceanlochlong, Inverioch, Glenluin, Portcable, 
&c. This charter is dated also in the year 1395. It was not- 
ions: after the death of Duncan that the ancient line of the 
earls of Lennox became extinct, and there is strong reason 
for thinking that the Macfarlanes claimed the earldom as heirs 
male, and offered a strong resistance to the actual occupation 
of the earldom of Lennox by the feudal heirs. This resistance, 
however, suffered the usual fate of the assertion of their rights 
by the Celts ; and the final establishment of the Stewarts as 
earls of Lennox appears to have been preceded by the disper- 
sion and almost entire destruction of this clan. The family 
of the chief fell in the defence of what they conceived to be 
their rights, and a great part of the clan took refuge in distant 
parts of the kingdom. The ruin of the clan, however, was 
prevented by the opportune support given by one of its houses 
to the Darnley famih^ ; and its head, Andrew Macfarlane, 
having married the daughter of John Stewart, lord of Darnley 
and earl of Lennox, saved the rest of the clan from destruction, 
and was put in possession of the greater part of their former 
possessions. Andrew Macfarlane does not appear, however, to 
have had a natural title to the chiefship, other than that of 
being the only person in a condition to afford them protection, 
for the clan refused him the title of chief; and his son. Sir 
John Macfarlane, in a charter to a William Macfarlane, desig- 
nates himself honorabilis vir Johnnes Macfarlane, dominus 
ejusdem, miles Capitaneiis de clan Pharlane, filius Andreaf. 
After this, the Macfarlanes appear to have supported th^ 
Lowland earls of Lennox on all occasions, and to have followed 
their standard to the field. Little is consequently known of 
their history for some generations, and they appear to have 
continued to enjoy undisturbed possession of their ancient 
property under the powerful protection of these great barons. 

In the sixteenth century we find Duncan Macfarlane of that 
ilk frequently mentioned as a steady adherent of Mathew, earl 
of Lennox. He joined the earls of Lennox and Glencairn in 
the year 1 544, with three hundred men of his own surname, and 

2/6 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

was present with them at the unfortunate battle of Glasgow 
Muir. Macfarlane also shared in the ruinous forfeiture which 
followed that event, but being afterwards restored through the 
intercession of his friends, he obtained a remission under the 
priv}' seal, which is still extant. The loss of this battle obliged 
the Earl of Lennox to retire to England, and having there 
married a niece of king Henry VHL, he soon after returned 
with some English forces, which he had obtained from that 
monarch. On this occasion the chief of Macfarlane did not 
dare to join the earl in person, but nevertheless his assistance 
was not wanting, for he sent his relative, Walter Macfarlane, 
of Tarbet, with four hundred men to join him. According to 
Holinshed, " In these exploytes the erle had with him Walter 
Macfarlane, of Tarbet, and seven score of men of the head of 
Lennox, that spake the Irishe and the English Scottish tongues, 
light footmen, well armed in shirtes of mayle, with bows and 
two-handed swords ; and being joined with English archers and 
shotte, did much avaylable service in the streyghts, mareshes, 
and mounta\'ne countrys." 

This Duncan is reported to have been slain, with a number 
of his clan, at the fatal battle of Pinkey, in 1547. His son 
Andrew was not less active in the civil wars of the period, 
and took a ver\- prominent part on the side of the Regent, 
exhibiting in this instance a contrast to almost all the other 
Highland chiefs. Holinshed again records the name of Mac- 
farlane as being distinguished for bravery, for in describing 
the battle of Langside, he says, " In this battle the valliancie 
of ane Highland gentleman named Macfarlane stood the 
Regent's part in great stead, for in the hottest brunte of the 
fight he came in with three hundred of his friends and country- 
men, and so manfull)' gave in upoii the flank of the queen's 
people, that he was a great cause of disordering of them." 
The clan boast of having taken at this battle three of queen 
Mar)-'s standards, which the\- say were preserved for a long 
time in the famil}-. The reward obtained b\- the Macfarlanes 
for their services upon this occasion, was of the usual substantial 
nature of the royal rewards of those services when merited. 
The Regent bestowed upon them the crest of a demi-savage 
proper, holding in his dexter hand a sheaf of arrows, and 

CHAP. V] O F S C O T L A N D 277 

pointing with his sinister to an imperial crown or, with the 
motto, " This I'll defend." 

Walter Macfarlane, the grandson of this chief, seems to 
have been as sturdy an adherent as his grandfather had been 
an opponent to the ro}'al party. He was twice besieged in 
his own house during Cromwell's time, and his castle of 
Inveruglas burnt to the ground by the English, his losses 
on the one side being of a somewhat more substantial character 
than his grandfather's rewards on the other had been. 

It is impossible to conclude this sketch of the history of 
the Macfarlanes without alluding to the eminent antiquary, 
Walter Macfarlane, of that ilk, who is as celebrated among 
historians as the indefatigable collector of the ancient records 
of the country, as his ancestors had been among the other 
Highland chiefs for their prowess in the field. The most 
extensive and valuable collections which his industry has 
been the means of preserving form the best monument to his 
memory, and as long as the existence of the ancient records 
of the country, or a knowledge of its ancient history, remain 
an object of interest to an}' Scotsman, the name of Macfarlane 
will be handed down as one of its benefactors. The family 
itself, however, is now nearly extinct, after having held their 
original lands for a period of six hundred years. 

Argent, a saltier engrailed, cantoned with four roses gules. 

Cloudberry bush. 

Principal Seat. 
Arrochar, at the head of Lochlong. 

After 1493 the family of Macfarlane of Macfarlane were captains of the 
clan. The representative of the old chief is unknown. 

2/8 T H E H I G H L A N D E R S [part II 


II. — Moray. 

The Maormors of Moray were, during the tenth and eleventh 
centuries, by far the most powerful chiefs in Scotland ; 

Moray. _ ^ _ ^ 

their immense territories extended from the eastern 
nearly to the western seas, and their power and influence over 
the whole of the north of Scotland. They were the only chiefs 
who attempted, during this period to resist the encroachments of 
the Norwegians, and although that resistance was unsuccessful, 
yet in consequence of a connexion which was formed between 
the head of their race, and the Norwegian earl, the very success 
of the Norwegians ultimately contributed to increase the power 
of the Maormors of Moray, and to extend over Scotland the 
tribes dependent upon them. Three of these Maormors suc- 
ceeded in attaining the crown of Scotland, and until the fall of 
their race, before the increasing power of the kings of the line of 
Malcom Kenmore, they ma}' be considered as kings of the 

It has been previously remarked, that the Highland clans are 
divided by the old Highland genealogies into five great classes, 
and that one of these consists of the Macphersons, Macintoshes, 
and Macnaughtans ; to these there is reason to add, as we shall 
afterwards see, the Camerons, Macleans, Macmillans, and 
Monroes ; and this great division, which extends from Inverness 
even as far as Cowall and Kintyre, is proved by the same manu- 
script to be descended from the ancient inhabitants of Mora}', 
for among the genealogies of these clans, it contains the gene- 
alogy of the ancient Maormors of Moray, and connects the other 
clans with that line. The old name of this tribe has also been 
preserved to us by Tighernac, who calls Finlay Macrory, who 
was undoubtedl}- Maormor of Moray, " Maormor mhic Croeb." 
By the defeat and death of Donald Macmalcolm, king of Scot- 

CHAP. VI] O F S C O T L A N D 279 

land, and Maolsnectan Maclulaigh, king of Moray, by Malcolm 
Kenmore in the year 1085, the line of the ancient Maormors 
seems to have become extinct, and from that period the conse- 
quence of that powerful tribe began to decline. After the death 
of Maolsnectan, the first person whom we find in possession of 
this district is Angus, who in the Ulster Annals, is styled earl of 
Moray and son of Lulach's daughter ; Lulach was the father of 
Maolsnechtan, and Angus was thus the son of his sister. 

Although these annals do not mention who this Angus was, 
\et we are enabled, bv the assistance of the invaluable MS. so 
often quoted, to discover that he was the head of an ancient branch 
of the same famil)-, for when Wimund, the English monk, who 
claimed the earldom of Moray in the reign of David II., asserted 
that he was the son of this Angus, he assumed in consequence 
the name of Malcolm Macbeth. As his supposed father's name 
was Angus, it is plain that the name Macbeth which he assumed, 
was Angus's famiK' name, particularly as Wimund's son, 
Kenneth, also called himself Kenneth Macbeth. Among the 
Comites, however, who witness charters in the first j^ears of 
David the First's reign appears frequently Head, Hed, and Ed, 
with the word " Comes " after it, and he appears along with the 
earls of almost all the other earldoms, so that he could scarcely 
have been earl of any other district than Moray. His date is 
circa 1125, Angus is killed in 11 30, and if we add the fact of 
Angus's family name being Macbeth, there can be little doubt that 
Head was his father, and the husband of Lulach's daughter, and 
that from him his descendants took the name of Macbeth. At 
this period, feudal succession, by which alone Head could have 
derived any right from his wife, was altogether unknown in 
Scotland, and as he was the first of the Maormors of Moray who 
exchanged that name for the Saxon title of earl, it follows of 
necessity that his right to the position of Maormor- must have 
been derived through the Highland law of succession ; we should 
therefore expect to find this earl the head of some family closely 
connected with the former earls, to whom the earldom could 
have come by the operation of a strictly male succession. 

It so happens, however, that the grandson of Gillichattan, the 
founder of the clan Chattan, by far the most important of those 
clans, whose descent from the ancient Maormors of Moray is 

28o THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

established by the manuscript, is called by the manuscript, Heth, 
and that from a calculation of generations he is exactly contem- 
porary with the children of Lulach. As this is so very uncommon 
a name, there can be little doubt, but that Heth was the same- 
person who was the father of Angus, and who married the 
daughter of Lulach, and that he was hereditary chief of clan 
Chattan, the principal branch of the Moray tribe. He thus 
possessed a title to the earldom of Moray from his own descent, 
as well as from his connexion with the family of the previous 
Maormors. The tribes of Moray had no sooner in some degree 
recovered their strength after the blow the\' had received in the 
reign of Malcolm Kenmore, than their new Maormor commenced 
that course of determined opposition to the government of the 
feudal successors of Malcolm, which was not finally overcome for 
upwards of a hundred years, and the same adherence to the 
rights of the heirs of the throne, according to the Highland 
principles of succession, which the former Maormors had main- 
tained for their own. 

The attempt of the Moray tribes in the reign of Alexander I., 
which must have taken place during the possession of the 
earldom by Head, has already been alluded to, and on the death 
of Alexander I., a still more formidable attempt was made by 
Angus the next earl, in the reign of his successor David I., in the 
year 1 1 30, when Angus, after having obtained possession of the 
northern districts of Scotland, advanced at the head of a numer- 
ous army into Forfarshire. At this time it appears that David 
was at the court of Henry, king of England, but Edward, the 
son of earl Seward, led an army into Scotland with which he 
defeated and slew the earl of Moray at Strickathrow, and after 
this event David seems to have taken the most prompt measures 
to quell the Moravians. In consequence of measures the 
Moravians remained quiet for the unusual period of upwards of 
twelve years, but at the end of that time they were 

A.D. 1130. -^ . 

again excited to revolt by one of the most smgular 
occurrences of the history of that period. 

An English monk, who had hitherto been known under the 
name of Wimund, and who had risen to be bishop of Man, 
suddenly announced himself to be the son of Angus, earl of 
Moray, who had been slain at Strickathrow, and thereupon pre- 


pared to assert his right to that earldom. Having collected to- 
gether some ships in the Isle of Man, and having been joined by 
numerous adventurers, he appeared among the Western Isles, 
where he was immediately received bv Somerled, 
who, actuated either by policy or conviction, 
acknowledged his right, and also evinced his sincerity by be- 
stowing upon him his sister in marriage. Wimund, having 
assumed the name of Malcolm Macbeth, now proceeded to 
invade the shores of Scotland, where he was joined by many of 
the northern chiefs, and even received the support of the 
Norwegian earl of Orkney, who declared him to be the earl of 
Moray, and married his sister. The assistance of the northern 
chiefs, and the natural advantages which the mountainous 
character of the country afforded to the prosecution of his enter- 
prise, enabled Wimund for several years to sustain a war with 
David I. of Scotland, retiring to the mountains or to his ships 
when pressed by the royal army, and again renewing his 
depredations as soon as it was withdrawn. At length, however, 
he was betrayed and delivered up to David, who, in the spirit of 
eastern barbarity, caused his eyes to be put out, and imprisoned 
him in Rokesburgh Castle. 

Historians have generally considered Wimund to be an 
impostor ; but when, in addition to the improbability of any 
such imposition having either been conceived or likely to have 
been attempted with any prospect of success, we reflect, that 
the circumstance of his assuming the name of Malcolm Macbeth 
proves at least that Angus had children, and if so, that the)' 
must of necessity have fled from the wrath of David ; that 
Wimund not only received assistance from the Gaelic chiefs, but 
even from the earl of Orkney, all of them openly countenancing 
his pretensions ; and that in the Norse Sagas he is distinctly' 
styled Malcolm, earl of Moray, without any surmise of his title 
to that dignity being doubtful or called in question by any one 
at the time, — we must admit that W^imund's claim may have 
been well founded. 

When Wimund fell into the hands of his opponent, his sons 
appear to have sought refuge with Somerled, their uncle ; and 
that ambitious chief seems to have made their cause a pretext 
upon several occasions for invading Scotland. But as these 

282 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

invasions were generall}- succeeded by a peace, the}- were not 
productive of any advantage to his nephews. One of these 
youths, named Donald, was, in the year 1 1 56, discovered lurking 
in Gallowa}-, where he was secured, and imprisoned along with 
his father in Rokesburgh Castle. In the following year Malcolm 
appears to have come to terms with Wimund, who, upon being 
realeased from prison, resumed the cowl, and retired to the 
monastery of Biland, in Yorkshire. 

But there still remained one of the sons of Wimund at 
liberty, whose name was Kenneth, and who, undeterred by the 
fate of his father and brother, resolved to make another attempt 
for the recovery of his inheritance ; and taking advantage of the 
insurrection of the Scottish earls in favour of William of 
Egremont, he easily succeeded in exciting the Moravians once 
more to revolt. The unexpected success with which Malcolm 
crushed the conspiracy enabled him likewise, after a violent 
struggle, effectually to subdue these restless assailants ; and in 
order to prevent the recurrence of farther insurrections upon the 
part of the Moravians, he resolved to reduce their strength by 
removing many of the hostile clans, and peopling the districts 
with strangers. The inhabitants of the northern portion were 
principally either driven out or removed to the crown lands of 
Braedalbane, in Perthshire, and the conquered district was 
bestowed upon the Norman families of Bisset, Thirlstane, and 
Lauder. A great part of the present county of Elgin was 
likewise depopulated, and strangers introduced, among whom 
was the Flemish family of Innes, while the whole earldom was 
bestowed upon the earl of Mar. 

By these measures the Moravians were so completel}- 
crushed, that during the remainder of this and the following 
reign, they did not again attempt to disturb the peace of the 
countr\-. Kenneth in the meantime having made his escape 
after his defeat by Malcolm, and hopeless of obtaining farther 
support in Scotland, took refuge in Ireland, and solicited 
assistance from the Irish. He was there joined by Donald 
Macwilliam, who claimed the throne of Scotland in right of his 
great-grandfather, Duncan, Malcolm Kenmore's eldest son, and 
having collected a numerous body of Irish followers, the two 
adventurers proceeded to invade Scotland, and made an inroad 

CHAP. VI] O F S C O T L A N D 283 

into Moray. They were there met b\' Ferchard 

A.D. 1^14. - . 

Macantagart, the earl of Ross, who had judged it 
prudent for him to join the king's party ; the invaders were 
defeated, and both of the leaders slain. By this defeat, and the 
consequent death of Kenneth, it appears that the family of 
Angus became e.xtinct ; but the Highland law of succession had 
the effect of transmitting the claims of the family, together with 
the chiefship of the whole tribe, to the next branch of the clan, 

and accordingly we find that thirteen years after this 

A.D. 1228. ... . 

event, a certain Gillespie ^ raised another insurrection 
in Moray. In his progress he burned some wooden castles 
which had probably been erected for the purpose of containing 
garrisons to overawe the country ; he surprised and slew a baron 
called Thomas of Thirlstane, to whom Malcolm IV. had given 
the district of Abertarff, and afterwards burnt Inverness. The 
king proceeded against him in person, but unsuccessfully ; and 
in the following )-ear William Comyn, earl of Buchan, then 
justiciary of Scotland, marched with his numerous vassalage 
upon the same enterprise, dispersed the insurgents, and slew 
Gillespie with his two sons. As we find that, immediately after 
this event, Walter Comyn, the son of the earl of Buchan, 
becomes possessed of the districts of Badenoch and Lochaber, 
while it is certain that these districts were previously possessed 
by the natives, we cannot doubt that this Gillespie was lord of 
that extensive territory, and that on his death Comyn received a 
grant of them from the crown as the reward of his services in 
suppressing the insurrection and slaying its head. Alexander 
II. followed up this success by his usual policy, and erected the 
portion of the earldom of Moray, which was not now under the 
stern rule of the Bissets, Comyns, and other Norman barons, 
into the separate sheriffdoms of Elgin and Nairn. The authority 
of government was thus so effectually established, that the 
Moravians did not again attempt any further resistance ; and 
thus ended with the death of Gillespie, the last of that series of 
persevering efforts which the earls of Moray had made for 
upwards of one hundred years to preserve their native inheritance. 

'This Gillespie has been most im- family, slain in 1221. Fordun, the 
j)roperly confounded with Gillespie only authority for both rebellions, 
nine Seolaue, of the Mae William earefully distinguishes between them. 

284 THE HIGHLANDERS [part li 

The extinction of the native earls of Morav now threw the 
various clans formerly united under their sway into independence, 
and the most ])owerful of these was the clan Chattan. 

Clan Chattan. 

When the almost univ.ersal extinction of the Highland earls 
threw the Highland clans into the independent and disunited 
state in which the\- latterly existed, we find few of them in 
possession of such extensive territories as the clan Chattan. 
The whole of Badenoch, with greater part of Lochaber, and the 
districts of Strathnairn and Strathdearn, were inhabited by the 
various septs of this clan, and previous to the grant made to 
Com\'n, these districts were held of the crown b\- the chief of 
the clan. 

From the earliest period this clan has been divided into two 
great branches, respectively following as leaders Macpherson of 
Cluny and ^Macintosh of Macintosh, both of whom claim the 
chiefship of the whole tribe. The descent of the former family 
from the old chiefs of the clan has never been doubted, but the 
latter family has hitherto considered itself as possessing a 
different descent from the rest of the clan Chattan. The earl 
of Fife, of the name of Macduff, is claimed as its ancestor, 
alleging that the chiefship of the clan Chattan was obtained 
about the end of the thirteenth century by marriage with Eva, 
the daughter and heiress of Gillepatrick, the son of Dugall 
dall, son of Gillichattan, and chief of the clan. 

But independently of the manifest unlikelihood of a tale so 
clearly opposed to the Highland principles of succession and 
clanship, the mere fact of this family styling themselves captains 
of the clan, claiming a foreign origin, and asserting a marriage 
with the heiress of its chief, leads to the strong presumption 
that they were the oldest cadets of the clan, by whom the 
chiefship had been usurped, while the manuscript of 1450 puts 
it beyond doubt that this story is not onl}' an invention, but 
one subsequent to the date of the MS., and that the Macintoshes 
are as radically a branch of the clan Chattan as the Mac- 
phersons ; for that invaluable record of Highland genealogies 
deduces the Macphersons and the Macintoshes from two 
brothers, sons of Gillecattan Mor, the great founder of the clan 


Chattan. That there has long existed a keen dispute with 
regard to the chiefship of the clan Chattan between the Mac- 
phersons and Macintoshes is certain ; and while the Macphersons 
have hitherto rested their claims upon tradition alone, the 
Macintoshes have triumphantly brought forward charters and 
documents of every description in support of their alleged title. 
But the case is now altered ; and the investigations which we 
have made into the history of the tribe of Aloray, as well as 
into the history and nature of Highland tradition, shew that 
the fact of the Macphersons being the lineal and feudal repre- 
sentatives of the ancient chiefs of clan Chattan rests upon 
historic authority, and that they possess that right by blood to 
the chiefship, of which no charters from the crown, and no 
usurpation, however successful and continued, can deprive 

The MS. of 1450 puts it beyond all doubt that the Mac- 
phersons and the Macintoshes are descended from Neachtan 
and Neill, the two sons of Gillechattan Mor, the founder of the 
race ; while the title of captain, the assertion of a foreign 
origin, and of a marriage with the heiress of the former chiefs, 
as certainly point out that the Macintoshes were a usurping 
branch, and that the Macphersons, whose descent from the old 
chiefs is not denied, alone possessed the right of blood to that 
hereditary dignity. The history of the earls of Moray is equally 
conclusive, that the descendants of Xeachtan, from whom 
the Macphersons deduce their origin, were the eldest branch 
and chiefs of the clan. The son of Xeachtan is Head, or 
Heth, and although he married the sister of the last Maormor 
of Moray, yet, that in his own person he possessed a right to 
the earldom independently of his marriage, appears from the 
fact that he must have succeeded in 1085, before the title of 
earl or the feudal succession was introduced. His grandson, by 
his eldest son, Angus, was Malcolm Macbeth, whose title to the 
earldom and consequent!}- to the chiefship of his clan was 
acknowledged b\- all the Gaelic part of tiie population of 
Scotland, and even by the Norwegian earl of Orkney, while 
his grandson by his younger son, Suibne, was Muirich, from 
whom the Macphersons take their name of ihe clan Vuirich. 
On the death of the last descendant of Angus, his claims were 

286 THE HIGHLANDERS [part it 

taken up by Gillespie, and as he unquestionably possessed the 
districts of Badenoch and Lochaber before the feudal barons 
acquired possession of it, he must have been chief of the clan 
Chattan, the ancient possessors of these districts. This is 
singularly corroborated by the fact that the oldest traditions 
styled Gillichattan the grandfather of Gillipatrick, whose 
daughter is said to have married Macintosh, Mac Gillespie, or 
son of Gillespie, while he must have lived at that very time. 
Gillespie was certainly not a descendant of Angus, earl of 
Moray, but his claim to the earldom proves that he must have 
been a descendant of Head. The identity of the Macbeth 
family with the chiefs of the clan Chattan is therefore clearly 
established, and, at the same time, the descent of the clan 
Vuirich, or Macphersons, from these chiefs, is proved by the 
MS. of 1450. 

This statement, supported as it is by the MS., and by docu- 
mentary evidence of an antiquity far greater than any which 
the Macintoshes can produce, at once establishes the hereditary 
title of the Macphersons of Cluny to the chiefship of clan 
Chattan, and that of the Macintoshes to their original position 
of oldest cadets of the clan. 

The circumstances which led to the establishment of the 
Macintoshes as captains of clan Chattan can likewise be traced, 
and tend still more strongly to confirm the position which has 
been adopted. 

As the whole territory of Moray was at this period in the 
possession of different Lowland barons, in virtue of their feudal 
rights only, we know but little of the history of the various 
clans inhabiting that district till the fourteenth century ; never- 
theless it is certain that the clan Chattan, with its different 
clans, continued to acknowledge the rule of one common chief 
as late as that period ; for the historian, John Major, after 
mentioning that the two tribes of the clan Chattan and clan 
Cameron had deserted Alexander of the Isles after his defeat 
by King James I., in the year 1429, adds, " These two tribes are 
of the same stock, and followed one head of their race as cJiief^ 
From other sources we know that these clans were at this time 
separate from each other, and were actually engaged in mutual 
hostilities. But, notwithstanding, the passage distinctly proves 


that these clans had very shortly before followed one chief as 
head of their respective races. 

It appears, therefore, that some event must have occurred 
about this time to occasion disunion among the different 
branches of the clan, and it is impossible to avoid being struck 
with the remarkable coincidence in point of time between this 
rupture and the singular conflict between the chosen champions 
of the two clans upon the North Inch of Perth, in the year 
1396, which the works of Sir Walter Scott have recently made 
so generally familiar, but which has nevertheless baffled every 
enquirer into its cause or as to the lineage of its actors. 

According to the oldest authorities the names of these clans 
were clan Yha and the dan Qiihele, not the clan Kay and the 
clan Chattan, as they have generally been called. At the end 
of the contest it was found that only one of the clan Yha had 
survived, while eleven of the clan Ouhele were still existing, 
although severely wounded, upon which it was determined by 
the king that the clan Ouhele were the victors. Now there 
are but three clans in which any traditicm of this conflict is to 
be found, that of the Camerons, the Macphersons, and the 
Macintoshes, and it is obvious that the memory of so remark- 
able a circum.stance could never have been suffered to escape 
the enduring character of Highland tradition. The circum- 
stances which attended the conflict, however, clearly indicate 
the Macphersons and the Macintoshes as the actors. From 
the brief but contemporary accounts which have reached us 
we can only learn two facts connected with its cause ; first 
that the dispute had broken out very shortly before, and 
secondly, that the singular mode of determining it was carried 
into effect by Sir David Lindsay and the earl of Moray. In, 
ascertaining who the clans were who were engaged in this 
conflict, we must therefore look for some change in their 
situation immediately before the conflict, and for some especial 
connexion with the two noblemen who were principally 
interested in it. These are to be found in the clan Chattan 
only ; for, first, by the death of the Wolfe of Badenoch, in 
1394, that district, which was nearly equally inhabited by the 
Macphersons and the Macintoshes, came in to the crown, 
and thus those clans were suddenly relieved, but two years 

288 THE HIGHLANDERS [part il 

before the conflict, from the oppressive government of that 
ferocious baron ; and the attention of the clan would be at 
once turned from the necessity of defending themselves from 
the tyrann}- of their feudal superior, to their own dissensions, 
which, if such existed among them, would then break out ; and 
secondly, it so happens, that at that very period, the remaining 
possessions of these two families were held of these two barons, 
as their feudal superiors, the Macphersons holding the greater 
part of Strathnairn, under Sir David Lindsay, and the Macin- 
toshes being vassals of the Earl of Moray, in Strathdearn. 
Every circumstance, therefore, leads us to suppose the Mac- 
phersons and Macintoshes to have been the parties engaged 
in that celebrated conflict. Soon after this period the chief 
of the Macintoshes assumes the title of captain of clan Chattan, 
but the Macphersons have always resisted that claim of prece- 
dence, and at this period also, the Camerons seem to have 
separated from the clan Chattan. I am inclined to assume 
from these circumstances that the Macintoshes were the clan 
Qiiiiele. In the MS. of 1450, the Macphersons are stated to 
be descended of a son of Heth, and brother of Angus, earl 
of Moray, and it will be observed, that the name, Heth, is a 
corruption of the same Gaelic name which has been changed 
by these historians to YJia. Clan Heth must have been the 
most ancient name of the Macphersons, and it follows, that 
they were the clan Vlia of the conflict. The leader of the 
clan Yha is styled b\- the old authorities, Sha Fercharson, 
that of the clan Ouhele, Gilchrist Johnsone, and in the old 
MS. histories of the Macintoshes we find Gilchrist ]\Iac Jan, 
at the period, while, according to the MS. of 1450, the chief 
of the Macphersons was Shaw, and his great-grandfather's 
name is Ferchar, from whom he probably took the patronymic 
of Fercharson. From all this we m^ax' reasonablv deduce, that 
previous to the fifteenth century the various tribes forming 
the clan Chattan obeyed the rule of one chief, the lineal 
descendant and representative of Gillecattan Mor, the founder 
of the clan Chattan ; that in consequence of the rebellion of 
Gillespie, then chief of that race, the territories of the principal 
branch were forfeited and given to the Comyn, and consequently 
that the famil\' of the chief gradual!}- sunk in power, while that 


of the oldest cadet of the clan, i.e., Macintosh, who was in 
consequence, after the chief, the most powerful, and whose 
principal lands were held under the easy tenure of the bishop 
of Moray and the good earl of Moray, gradually rose in power, 
until at length they claimed the chiefship, and from this cause 
arose the first disunion among the branches of this extensive 

They became divided into distinct factions ; on the one 
side there was ranged the Macphersons and their dependants, 
together with the Camerons ; on the other side were the 
Macintoshes, with the numerous families who had sprung from 
that branch of the clan Chattan ; and they were about to 
settle their difference by open war, when the interference of Sir 
David Lindsay and the earl of Moray produced the extra- 
ordinary conflict which resulted in the defeat of the faction 
adhering to the family of the ancient chiefs, and to the estab- 
lishment of the Macintoshes as captains of clan Chattan. 

In this manner the Macintoshes became the de facto chiefs 
of the clan, and consequently acquired the title of Captain, a 
title which at once indicates the absence of any right by blood 
to the chiefship, and from this very circumstance is their name 
derived ; Toshoch being unquestionably the title anciently 
applied to the oldest cadets of the different clans, and having 
no connexion whatever with the Saxon title of Thane, as has 
generally been asserted. 

The conflict by which they finally established themselves 
in the power and dignity of head of the clan Chattan took 
place in 1396. From this period until the latter part of the 
sixteenth century, they remained, as leader of the clan, wil- 
lingly followed by the cadets of their own house, and exacting 
obedience from the other branches of the clan, often refused, 
and only given when they were in no condition to resist. 
Soon after this period, they appear to have become dependent 
upon the lords of the Isles, and to have followed them in all 
their expeditions. 

The first of the Macintoshes who appears in the records, 
is Malcolm Macintosh, who obtained from the lord of the 
Isles, in 1447, a grant of the office of baillic or steward of 
the lordship of Lochaber ; and the same office was given to 

290 T H E H I G H L A X D E R S [part ii 

his son, Duncan Macintosh, in 1466, along with the lands of 
Keppoch, and others in Lochabcr. 

It is probable that he likewise obtained from the same 
lord that part of Lochaber h'ing between Keppoch and 
Lochaber, for, on the forfeiture of the lord of the Isles in 
1475, he obtained a charter from James III.: " Duncano 
Macintosh, capitano de clan Chattan, terrarum de Moymore, 
Fern, Chamglassen, Stroneroy, Auchenheroy, &c.," dated 4 July, 
1476 ; and afterwards, in 1493, he obtained a charter from 
James IV., " terrarum de Keppoch Innerorgan, &c., cum officio 
Ballivatus earundem." 

Macintosh having probably rendered the government con- 
siderable assistance on that occasion, these grants were the 
cause of long and bitter feuds between the Macintoshes and 
the Camerons and the Macdonalds of Keppoch, the actual 
occupiers of the land. 

From this period may be dated the commencement of the 
rise of the Macintoshes to the great influence and consideration 
which they afterwards possessed. Two causes, however, com- 
bined to render their progress to power slow and difficult, and 
at times even to reduce the clan to considerable apparent 
difficulties. These causes were — first, the dissensions among 
the Macintoshes themselves ; and, secondly, the continued feud 
which they had with Huntly, in consequence of their strict 
adherence to the Earl of Mora)-. The dissensions in the clan 
commenced in the early part of the sixteenth century, with the 
accession of William Macintosh, of Dunnachton, to the chief- 
ship. His title to that dignity appears to hav^e been opposed 
by John Roy Macintosh, the head of another branch of the 
family ; and after having in vain attempted to wrest the 
chiefship by force from William, John Roy at length mur- 
dered him at Inverness, in the year 15 15. The perpetrator 
of this treacherous deed did not, however, attain his object, 
for, having been closely pursued by the followers of William 
Macintosh, he was overtaken at Glenesk and slain, while 
Lachlan, the brother of the murdered chief, was placed in 
possession of the government of the clan. But Lachlan was 
doomed to experience the same fate as his brother, for, accor 
ding to Lesly, " sum wicked persones being impatient oi 

CHAP. VI] O F S C O T L A N D 291 

vertuous leving, stirrit up ane of his awn principal kynnes- 
men, callit James Malcolmsone, quha cruellie and treasonablie 
slew his said chief." On Lachlan's death, his son was under 
age, and therefore the clan, in accordance with the ancient 
system of succession, chose Hector, a bastard brother, to be 
their chief. 

The Earl of Moray, who was the young chiefs uncle, became 
alarmed for his safety, and, in order to secure him against his 
brother's ambition, he carried him off, to be brought up by his 
mother's relations. But Hector was determined to repossess 
himself of the person of the young heir, and with that view 
invaded the lands of the Earl of Moray, at the head of the 
clan. He beseiged the Castle of Petty, which he took, and 
put the Ogilvies, to whom it belonged, to the sword. Upon 
this, the Earl obtained a commission from the King, and having 
raised his retainers, he attacked the Macintoshes, and seized 
300 of them, whom he instantly executed. Hector escaped, 
and fled to the King, to whom he surrendered himself, and 
received from him a remission of his former offences, but he 
was soon after slain in St. Andrews, and the young heir, 
William Macintosh, after having been brought up by the Earl 
of Moray, was put in possession of his inheritance. 

According to Leslie, " William wes sua well braught up 
be the meanes of the earl of Jklurray and the laird of Phindlater, 
in vertue, honestie, and civil policye, that after he had received 
the government of his countrie, he was a mirrour of vertue to 
all the Heiland captains in Scotland ; bot fortune did envye 
his felicitie, and the wicket practises of the dissoluit lives of 
his awne kin sufferit him nocht to remaine long amang them ; 
bot the same factious companie that raise againis his fader 
wes the cause of his destruction ne." 

Soon after the accession of William Macintosh to the chief- 
ship, the feud between the Macintoshes and the earls of Huntly 
commenced, and it appears to have been instigated by the acts 
of Lachlan Macintosh, the son of the murderer of the last chief, 
who had been received into favour, but who was still bent on 
the destruction of the family of the chief. But however the 
feud may have originated, a subject upon which the accounts 
piven in the different families are much at variance, it would 

292 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

appear that Alacintosh commenced the hostilities by surprising 
and burning the castle of Auchindoun. Huntly immediately 
moved against the clan with all the retainers which his exten- 
sive territories could furnish, and a fierce though short struggle 
ensued, in which any clan less powerful than the Macintoshes 
would have been completely crushed ; as it was, Macintosh 
found himself so unequal to sustain the conflict, that, despairing 
of obtaining an}- mercy from Huntly, he determined to apply 
to his lad}-, and for that purpose presented himself before her 
at a time when Huntly was absent, and surrendered himself 
to her will. The marchioness, however, was as inexorable as 
her husband could have been, and no sooner saw Macintosh 
within her power, than she caused his head to be struck off. 

The death of William Macintosh occasioned no farther loss 
to the clan, but, on the contrary, relieved them from the con- 
tinuance of the prosecution of the feud with Huntly ; for that 
nobleman found himself immediately opposed by so strong a 
party of the nobility who were related to Macintosh, that he 
was obliged to cease from farther hostilities against them, and 
also to place the son of the murdered chief in possession of 
the whole of his father's territories. The government after- 
wards found the advantage of restoring Macintosh to his patri- 
mony, and preserving so powerful an opponent to Huntly in 
the north ; for when the Queen nearly fell into Huntly's hands 
at Inverness, in 1562, when that ambitious nobleman wished 
to compel her majesty to marr\- his second son, John Gordon, 
of Findlater, the timely assistance of Macintosh assisted in 
defeating this plan. Soon after this, the feud between Huntly 
and Macintosh once more broke out, and this circumstance 
was the cause of the final separation of the Macphersons from 
the Macintoshes, and the loud assertion by the former of their 
right to the chiefship, which they have ever since maintained ; 
for Huntly, unable to meet the united force of the clan Chattan, 
took advantage in the claims of the Macphersons to cause a 
division of the clan, and in consequence of the support of this- 
powerful nobleman, the Macphersons were enabled to assert 
their right to the chiefship, and to declare themselves inde- 
pendent of the Macintoshes, if they could not compel the 
latter to acknowledge them as their chief The history of the 

ciiAr. VI] OF SCOTLAND 293 

Macphersons, posterior to the unfortunate conflict on the North 
Inch of Perth, becomes exceedingly obscure. As they hold 
their lands of subject superiors, we lose the assistance of the 
records to guide us, neither do they appear in history inde- 
pendently of the rest of the clan. And it is only when, at a 
late period, they began to assert their claims to the chiefship, 
that they again emerge from the darkness by which their 
previous history was obscured. Previous to this period, finding 
themselves in point of strength altogether unable to offer any 
opposition to the Macintoshes, they had yielded an unwilling 
submission to the head of that family, and had followed him 
as the leader of the clan ; but even during this period they 
endeavoured to give to that submission as much as might be 
of the character of a league, and as if their adherence was in 
the capacity of an ally, and not as a dependent branch of the 
clan. In consequence of Huntly's support, they now declared 
themselves independent, and refused all further obedience to 
the captain of clan Chattan, as Macintosh has been styled. 

In this they succeeded as long as the feud continued between 
Huntly and Macintosh, but when at length Huntly became 
reconciled to his adversary, and consequently gave up his 
unfortunate ally Macpherson, when he could derive no further 
benefit from him, the Macphersons found themselves unable 
to withstand Macintosh, and many of them were obliged in 1609 
to sign a bond, along with all the other branches of the clan 
Chattan, acknowledging Macintosh as their chief But the long 
continued hostilities, in which Macintosh soon after became 
engaged with the Camerons and other Lochaber clans, enabled 
Macpherson again to separate from him ; and during the whole 
of these wars Macintosh was obliged to accept of his assistance 
as of that of an ally merely, until at length, in 1672, Duncan 
Macpherson, of Cluny, threw off all connexion with Macintosh, 
refused to acknowledge his authority as chieftain of the clan, 
and applied to Lyon office to have his arms matriculated as 
" Laird of Clunie Macphersone, and the only and true repre- 
senter of the ancient and honorable familie of the clan 
Chattane," which he obtained ; and soon after, when the privy 
council required all the Highland chiefs to give security for 
the peaceable behaviour of their respective clans, Macpherson 

294 T H E H I G H L A \ D E R S [part ii 

obtained himself bound for his clan under the designation of 
Lord of Chin)' and chief of the Macphersons ; but his legal 
proceedings were not so fortunate as his resistance by arms 
Itad been, for no sooner was Macintosh aware of what had taken 
place than he applied to the privy council and the Lyon office 
to have his own title declared, and those titles given to Mac- 
pherson recalled. 

Both parties were now called upon to produce evidence 
of their assertions, but while IVIacintosh could produce deeds 
during a long course of \-ears, in which he was designated 
captain of clan Chattan, and also the unfortunate bond of 
Manrent \\ hich had been given in 1609, ]\Iacpherson had nothing 
to bring forward but tradition, and the argument arising from 
his representation of the ancient chiefs, which was but little 
understood b}' the feudalists of those days. The council at 
length gave a decision, which, perhaps, was as just a one as 
in the circumstances of the case could be expected from them. 
The judgment was in the following terms : " The lords of 
priv}' council, upon consideration of a petition presented by 
Duncan IMacpherson of Clun}-, and the Laird of Macintosh, 
doe ordain Mcintosh to give bond in these terms, viz., for those 
of his clan, his vassals, those descendit of his family, his men, 
tenants, and servants, or dwelling upon his ground ; and ordaine 
Cluny to give bond for those of his name of Macpherson, 
descendit of his family, and his men, tenants, and servants, 
but prejudice always to the Laird of Mcintosh, bonds of relief 
against such of the name of Macpherson, who are his vassals. 
(Sub"^'.), Rothes." Upon this decision the arms were likewise 
recalled, and those of the Macphersons again matriculated as 
those of ]\Iacpherson of Cluny. 

After this the Macintoshes remained in quiet possession 
of their hereditar}' territories, frequently at feud with Huntly 
and at other times at peace, and they appear to have constantly 
maintained the high station which they had acquired among 
the Highland clans with respect to power and extent of territory. 
Their feuds with the Camerons, with the accounts of which 
the earlier parts of their traditionar}' history abound, terminated 
by the place ot that clan becoming supplied by another whose 
possessions in the Braes of Lochaber placed them too near 


to the Macintoshes to avoid colh'sion, and their natural dis- 
position was of too turbulent a character not to give speedy 
cause of feud betwixt them. This clan was that of the 
Macdonalds of Keppoch, and the circumstance which gave 
rise to the feud was this, the Macdonalds had no other right 
to the lands they inhabited than that of long possession, while 
the Macintoshes held a feudal title to the property which they 
had obtained from the lord of the Isles, and which had been 
confirmed by the crown on their forfeiture. This feud continued 
for several years with various success, but was finally brought 
to a close by the last considerable clan battle which was fought 
in the Highlands. Macintosh had come to the determination 
of making an effort to obtain something more than a mere 
feudal title to these lands, and with that view, if possible, to 
dispossess the Macdonald.^". He accordingly raised as many 
of the clan as still adhered to him, notwithstanding the separa- 
tion which had taken place not long before between the 
Macintoshes and the Macphersons, and marched towards 
Keppoch with the assistance of an independent company of 
soldiers furnished him b}- the government. 

On his arrival at Keppoch he found the place deserted, 
and he was engaged in constructing a fort in Glenroy in order 
to leave a garrison behind him, believing himself secure from 
any opposition in the meantime, when he learnt that the 
Macdonalds of Keppoch had assembled together with their 
kindred tribes of Glengarrv and Glenco, and were stationed 
in great numbers at a place called Mulroy, for the purpose 
of attacking him at daybreak. ^Macintosh immediately resolved 
upon anticipating this design, and forthwith marched upon 
the enemy, whom he found prepared for the conflict. The 
Macdonalds were stationed on the upper ridge, under Coll 
Macdonald of Keppoch, and the Macintoshes had nearly sur- 
mounted the height of Mulroy when the battle began. The 
contest, though fierce and maintained with great obstinacy on 
both sides, was not of long duration, and ended in the defeat of 
the Macintoshes, the capture of their chief, and the death of 
the commander of the independent company. But the battle 
had not been- long closed, when a large body of the Mac- 
phersons, who, considering that the honour of clan Chattan 

296 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

was compromised, had forgotten all former feelings of rivalry, 
suddenl}' appeared and prepared to assail the victors. Keppoch, 
although victorious, was in no condition to renew the contest 
with a fresh party, and he therefore agreed to surrender 
Macintosh to them, who, accordingly, had the double humilia- 
tion of having been captured by the Alacdonalds, whom he 
despised as mere refractory tenants, and rescued by the Mac- 
phersons, whom he had treated with so little forbearance or 

The ]\Iacphersons did not take any advantage of the chance 
which had placed Macintosh in their hands, but escorted him 
safely to his own estates, and from that time forward Keppoch 
remained undisturbed in his possessions, while the Macintoshes 
and Macphersons continued as separate and independent clans, 
the one possessing the title of captain, and the other claiming 
that of chief of clan Chattan, for notwithstanding the decision, 
of the privy council, the Macphersons have ever since maintained 
themselves altogether distinct from the Macintoshes, and took 
an active share in the insurrections of 171 5 and 1745 as a 
separate clan, refusing to acknowledge the title of Macintosh to 
be either chief or captain of clan Chattan, and asserting their 
own preferable title. In the latter insurrection the name of 
Alacpherson has become celebrated for the distinguished part 
which their chief took in that ill-fated expedition, but 
perhaps still more so for the conduct of the clan to their 
chief after the defeat of Culloden had terminated the hopes 
of the Stuarts, and exposed Cluny to the vengeance of the 

There is perhaps no instance in which the attachment of the 
clan to their chief was so very strikingly manifested, as in the of the Macphersons of Cluny after the disaster of " the 
forty-five." The chief having been deeply engaged in that 
insurrection, his life became of course forfeited to the laws, but 
neither the hope of reward nor the fear of danger could induce 
any one of his people to betray him. h^or nine years he lived 
concealed in a cave at a short distance from his own house ; 
it was situated in the front of a woody precipice, of which the 
trees and shelving rocks completely concealed the entrance. 
This cave had been dug out b}- his own people, who worked by 

CHAP. VI] O F S C O T L A X D 297 

night, and conveyed the stones and rubbish into a neighbouring 
lake, in order that no vestige of their labour might appear and 
lead to the discovery of the retreat. In this asylum he continued 
to live secure, receiving by night the occasional visits of his 
friends, and sometimes by day, when time had begun to slacken 
the rigour of pursuit. 

Upwards of one hundred persons were privy to his conceal- 
ment, and a reward of one thousand pounds sterling was offered 
to any one who should give information against him ; and, 
besides, as it was known that he was somewhere concealed upon 
his own estate, a detachment of eighty men was constantly 
stationed there, independent of the occasional parties that 
traversed the country throughout, with a view to intimidate his 
tenantry and induce them by force or persuasion to disclose the 
place of his concealment ; but although the soldiers were 
animated by the hope of reward, and their officers by the 
promise of promotion for the apprehension of this proscribed 
individual, yet so true were his people, so inflexibly strict to 
their promise of secrecy, and so dexterous in conveying to him 
the necessaries he required in his long confinement, that not a 
trace of him could be discovered, nor an individual base enough 
to give a hint to his detriment. Many anecdotes are still 
related in the country of the narrow escapes he made in eluding 
the vigilance of the soldiery, and of the fidelity and diligence 
displayed by his clan in concealing him, until, after ten years 
of this dreary existence, he escaped to France, and there died 
in the following year. ^ 

After his death, the estate was restored to the present 
family, in whose possession it remains, and who are the lineal 
representatives of the ancient chiefs of the clan Chattan. 

Parted per fess, or, and azure, a lymphad or galley, her sails furled, her oars 
in action, of the first ; in the dexter chief point a hand coupee, grasping 
a dagger pointed upwards, gules, for killing Cummine Lord Badenoch : 
in the sinister point a cross crosslet, fitchee, gules. 


'^ Stewart's Sketches. 

298 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Priiicipal Seat. 
Strathnaim and Uadenocli. 

Oldest Cadei. 
Macintosh of Macintosh is oldest cadet, and was captain of the clan for 

a period of two centuries. 


Cluny Macpherson. 


In 1704, 1400. In 1715, 1020. In 1745, i/OO. 

CHAP. VII] O F S C O T L A X D 299 


Clan Cameron. 

An ancient manuscript history of this clan commences with 
these words — " The Camerons have a tradition amoncr them, 
that they are originally descended of a \'ounger son of the ro}'al 
family of Denmark, who assisted at the restoration of king 
Fergus II., anno 404. He was called Cameron from his crooked 
nose, as that word imports. But it is more probable that the\- 
are of the aborigines of the ancient Scots or Caledonians that 
first planted the countr\-." With this last conclusion I am full)- 
disposed to agree, but John Major has placed the matter beyond 
a doubt, for in mentioning on one occasion the clan Chattan and 
the clan Cameron, he says. " Ha; tribus sunt consanguinese." 
They therefore formed a part of the extensive tribe of Moray, 
and followed the chief of that race until the tribe became broken 
up, in consequence of the success of the Macintoshes in the 
conflict on the North Inch of Perth in 1396. Although the 
Macphersons for the time submitted to the Macintosh as captain 
of the clan, the Camerons seem to have separated themselves 
from the main stock, and to have assumed independence. 

The earliest possession of the Camerons was that part of 
Lochaber extending to the east of the Loch and river of Lochy, 
and was held by them of the lord of the Isles ; their more 
modern possessions of Locheil and Locharkaig, which lie on the 
west side of that water, had been granted b}- the lord of the 
Isles to the founder of the clan Ranald, by whose descendants 
it was inhabited. As the Camerons are one of those clans 
whose chief bore the somewhat doubtful title of captain, we are 
led to suspect that the latter chiefs were of a different branch 
from the older famih', and had, in common with the other clans 

300 T H E H I G H L A x\ D E R S [part ii 

among whom the title of captain is found, been the oldest cadet, 
and in that capacity had come to supersede the elder branch 
when reduced by circumstances. Originally the clan Cameron 
consisted of three septs, the clan ic Mhartin, or Mac Martins, of 
Letterfinla}' ; the clan ic Ilonobhy, or Camerons, of Strone ; and 
Sliochd Shoirle Ruaidh, or Camerons, of Glenevis. Of one ol 
these septs the genealogy is to be found in the MS. of 1450, and 
it is apparent from that genealogy that the Locheil famih' 
belonged to the second, or clan ic Ilonobhy, for the first of the 
Locheil family who appears on record is Allan Mac Connell dui 
or son of Donald Du, who in 1472 obtains a charter from 
Celestine of the Isles, lord of Lochalche, to himself and the heirs 
male pro-created between him and his wife, Mariot, daughter oi 
Angus de Insulis, with remainder to his brother, Eugene Mac 
Conneldu\', and the two last "-enerations of the clan ic Ilonobhv 
are Donald Du and his son Eogan. The traditionary origin of 
the Camerons, however, like that of the Macintoshes and other 
clans, clearly points out the ancient chiefs of the clan, for while 
they are unquestionably of native origin, their tradition derives 
them from a certain Cambro, a Dane, who is said to have 
acquired his propert)' with the chiefship of the clan, by marriage 
with the daughter and heiress of Mac Martin, of Letterfinlav. 
The extraordinary identity of all these traditionary tales, 
wherever the title of captain is used, leaves little room to doubt 
that in this case the Mac Martins were the old chiefs of the clan, 
and the Locheil family were the oldest cadets, whose after 
position at the head of the clan gave them the title of captain of 
the clan Cameron. There is some reason to think that on the 
acquisition of the captainship of the clan Chattan, in 1396, by 
the Macintoshes, the Mac Martins adhered to the successful 
faction, while the great body of the clan, with the Camerons of 
Locheil, declared themselves independent, and thus the Locheil 
family gained that position which they have ever since retained. 
Another circumstance probably contributed to place Donald Du 
at the head of the clan, for the Camerons having, along with the 
clan Chattan, deserted Alexander, lord of the Isles, when 
attacked by James I., in Lochaber, and having subsequently 
refused to join Donald Balloch in his inv^asion of Scotland in 
143 1, that chief, after his victory at Inverloch}-. resolved to 


revenge himself upon the Camerons, and attacked them with 
fury. The clan was unable to withstand his attack, and the 
chief was obliged to fl}' into Ireland, while the rest of the clan 
took refuge among the most inaccessible parts of that mountain 

When the return of Alexander from captivit}- had restored 
some decree of order to his wild dominions, the famil\- of Mac 
Martin were probabl}' unable to resume their former station, and 
the oldest cadet, who on the occurrence of such events, and 
being generally the most powerful family of the clan, assumed 
the chieftainship with the title of captain, was now placed at the 
head of the clan. The name of this chief was Donald Du, and 
from him the Camerons of Locheil take their patronymic of 
Macconnel Du. 

He appears to ha\e raised the Camerons from the depressed 
state into which they had fallen by the vengeance of the lords 
of the Isles, and to have re-acquired for the clan the estates 
which they had formerly possessed. These estates had been 
given by the lord of the Isles to John Garbh Maclean of Coll as 
a reward for his services, but Donald Du soon drove him out of 
Lochaber, and slew his son Ewen. Donald Du was succeeded 
by his son Allan M'Coilduy, who acquired the estates of 
Locharkaig and Locheil, from the latter of which his descen- 
dants have taken their title. This property had formed part of 
the possessions of the clan Ranald, and had been held by them 
of Godfrey of the Isles, and his son Ale.xander, the eldest branch 
of the family. After the death of Alexander, the Camerons 
appeared to have acquired a feudal title to these lands, while the 
chief of clan Ranald claimed them as male heir. 

At this period the feuds of the Camerons with the Mac- 
intoshes began, which, with various success on both sides, 
continued down to a late period, and that alwa\\s with unabated 
bitterness. Allan Mac Coildu\' was the most renowned of all 
the chiefs of the Camerons, with the exception, perhaps, of 
his descendant. Sir Ewen. " This Allan Mac Coilduy," says 
the manuscript histor>^ before quoted, " had the character of 
being one of the bravest captains in his time. He is said to 
have made thirty-two expeditions into his enemies' country, 
for the thirt\--two \-ears that he lived, and three more for the 

302 THE HIGHLANDERS [part -ii 

three-fourths of a \-ear that he was in his mother's womb " 
XotwithstandiiiL;" his character of one of the bravest captains, 
he was slain in one of his numerous conflicts with the Mac- 
intoshes and Macdonalds of Keppoch. The possessions of 
the famil}' were still farther increased, and feudal titles to 
their whole property obtained by his son Ewen Allanson. He- 
appears, in consequence of his feudal claims, to have acquired 
almost the whole of the estates which belonged to the chief 
of clan Ranald, and to have so effectually crushed that family 
that their chiefship was soon after usurped by a branch of the 

It was during the life of Ewen that the last lord of the 
Isles was forfeited, and as the crown readily gave charters to 
all the independent clans of the lands then in their possession 
Ewen Cameron easily obtained a feudal title to the whole of 
his possessions, as well those which he inherited from his father 
as those which he had wrested from the neighbouring clans ; 
and at this period may be dated the establishment of the 
Camerons in that station of importance and consideration which 
they have ever since maintained. 

Ewen Cameron having acquired a great part of the lands 
of the chief of Clanranald, and having been the cause of the 
downfjill of that family, he supported the bastard John Muder- 
tach in his usurpation of the chiefship, and in consequence 
brought upon himself the resentment of Huntly, who was at 
that time all-powerful in the north. After Huntly and Lovat 
had by force dispossessed John Mudertach, they returned 
separately and by different routes, and the consequence as 
might have been expected was, that the Camerons and Mac- 
donalds pursued Lovat, against whom they were principally 
irritated, and having overtaken him at the head of Loch Lochy, 
they attacked and slew him together with his eldest son and 
three hundred of his clan. Huntly, enraged at this, imme- 
diately returned to Lochaber with a force which prevented all 
opposition, seized Ewen Cameron and Ronald Macdonald of 
Keppoch, and caused them to be beheaded at Elgin. 

From this period the Camerons seem to have been engaged 
in the usual feuds with the neighbouring clans, conducted after 
the same fashion as usual in those matters, so that their history 

OIIAP. VII] . O F S C O T L A N D 303 

does not present anything remarkable until we come to the 
time of Sir Ewen Cameron, a hero whose fame has eclipsed 
that of all his predecessors. Sir Ewen, or " Evandhu " as he 
was called in the Highlands, seems to have possessed an 
uncommon character, and one of chivalrous features, only 
equalled perhaps by that of his unfortunate grandson, whose 
share in the insurrection of 1745 is well known. The grand- 
father was the first to join in the insurrection of 1652 in 
favour of the royal cause, and the last who held out against 
the power of Oliver Cromwell, and to whom, in fact, he never 
fully submitted. 

Of the numberless anecdotes related of this chief, it would 
be impossible to give a full detail in this place, or to do any 
justice to his history in a work so limited. He is said to 
have killed the last wolf in Scotland, and he so often defeated 
the body of troops stationed in Lochaber, and so constantly 
harassed them, that they were obliged to remain confined in 
the fortress of Inverlochy, and were at length so desirous to 
be at peace with him, that a treat}' was concluded on terms 
most honourable to Sir Ewen, and in which his political 
principles were fully respected. One circumstance, however, 
regarding him, it may be proper to mention, being of more 
importance than all his exploits, as it illustrates the highly 
chivalrous nature of his character as well as the impression it 
had made upon others ; and of the truth of this circumstance 
we have sufficient authority in the following passage of General 
Monk's letter : — " No oath was required of Lochiel to Cromwell, 
but his word of /lonour to live in peace. He and his clan were 
allowed to keep their arms, as before the war broke out, they 
behaving peaceably. Reparation was to be made to Locheil 
for the wood cut by the garrison of Inverlochy. A full 
indemnity was granted for all acts of depredation and crimes 
committed by his men. Reparation was to be made to his 
tenants, for all the losses they had sustained from the troops." 
Sir Ewen joined the royal party at Killicranky, although 
then an old man, and survived till the }'ear 1719, when he 
died at the age of ninety. 

If Sir Ewen's character was equalled by any one, it was b}' 
his G[randson. The share taken bv that unfortunate chief in the 

304 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

insurrection of 1745, is well known to ever\- one, and his conduct 
was such as to i^ain him the respect and admiration of all. 
The estates of the famil}- became of course included in the 
numerous forfeitures of that period ; but they were afterwards 
restored, notwithstanding that this clan had taken a part in 
every attempt made b_\' the Highlanders in favour of the family 
of Stuart. 


Or, paly, barry, gules. 



Principal Seat. 

Oldest Cadet. 

Cameron of Locheil was oldest cadet, and has been captain of the clan 

Cameron since the fourteenth century. 

Previous to the fifteenth century, Macmartin of Letterfinlay. 

In 171 7, 8co. In 1745, Soo. 

Clan NachtiDi. 

The traditions of the M'Nachtans derive them from Lochtay, 
where they are said to have been Thanes, but the genealogy 
contained in the manuscript of 1450, puts it beyond all doubt 
that they were one of the clans descended from the tribe of Moray, 
and formerly united under its Maormors. The whole of the 
ancient district of Mora)- is still occupied by clans descended 
from that tribe, with the exception of one portion of consider- 
able extent. This portion consists of that part of the ancient 
district which extends between the lordship of Badenoch and 
Strathnairn and the southern boundary of Ross, and compre- 
hends the extensive districts of the Aird, Glenurchart, Glenmori- 
son, Abertariff, Stratherick, &;c. This northern division of the 
ancient district is intersected b)' Loch Oich and Loch Ness, and 
is chiefly in pos.session of the Erasers, Grants, and Macdonalds, 
but as all these families can be traced as having acquired posses- 
sion of the lands at different periods, and as deriving their origin 
from the occupiers of other districts, it is plain that we must 


look to other quarters for the early occupiers of this division of 
the territories of that tribe. 

The first families that can be traced as in possession of this 
part of Moray are those of Bisset, a family unquestionably of 
Norman origin, and of Thirlstain, certainly a Lowland, if not a 
Norman family, and there can be little doubt that they 
acquired this district from Malcolm IV. in 1160, when we know 
that he planted a great part of Moray with strangers. The 
oldest authorities for this fact, however, are equally distinct, that 
he removed the old inhabitants and placed them in other parts 
of the country, for which purpose the crown lands must have 
been principally employed. It is, therefore, extremely probable, 
that those clans of Mora}- descent which we find at an early 
period in districts the most remote from their original seat, 
formed a part of the inhabitants of this district whom Malcolm 
IV. removed. 

To them the Macnachtans certainly belonged, for their 
genealogy indicates a Moray descent, while their traditions 
place them at a very early period in the crown lands of 

There is one remarkable circumstance regarding this clan, 
which is, that while the other clans can generally be traced to 
have previously formed a part of some greater sept, the 
Macnachtans at a very early period appear in the same indepen- 
dent state in which they existed at a late period, and also, that 
they continued without preceptible increase or diminution of 
strength. Their earliest possessions, which they have always 
maintained, although thev afterwards held them of the earl of 
Argyll, extended betwixt the south side of Lochfine and Loch- 
awe, and included the glens of Ara and Shira, Glenfine, and 
others, while their ancient seat, the castle of Dunduraw, shews 
that they must at one time have possessed considerable power. 
They probably obtained these properties from Alexander II., on 
his conquest of Argyll in 1221, and must as crown vassals have 
formed a part of his army, to whom the forfeited lands were 
principally given. The MS. of 1450 deduces them through a 
long line of ancestors from Nachtan Mor, who, according to that 
authority, must have flourished in the tenth century ; but the 
first chief of the family occurring in this genealogy, whose age we 


3o6 T H E H I G H L A N D E R S [part ii 

can fix with certainty, is Gilchrist Macnachtan, who obtained 
from Alexander III. the keeping of the royal castle of Frechelan 
in Lochawe, and this castle was for some time the residence of 
the family. In the reign of Robert Bruce, the baron Macnach- 
tan is mentioned as having activel}' supported the cause of 
Baliol along with the lord of Lorn, and on that occasion the 
Campbells probably obtained a grant of a great part of their 

In the reign of Robert III. there is a charter by Colin, earl of 
Arg}'le, to Maurice Macnachtan, of sundry lands in Over Lochaw, 
and at the same period Morice Macnachtan occurs in the 
genealogy previously alluded to. After this we know very little 
of the family until the reign of Charles I., when Sir Alexander 
Macnachtan appears to have distinguished himself very much in 
the numerous civil wars of that era. On the restoration of 
Charles II., Macnachtan is said to have ]:)roved an exception to 
the generality of the royalists, and to have been rewarded with a 
large pension as well as the honour of knighthood. He did not, 
however, escape the fate of the neighbouring clans, and found 
himself as little in a condition to offer any obstacle to. the rapid 
advancement of the Argyll family as the others. The}- accord- 
ingly soon joined the ranks of the dependents of that great 
family, and the loss of their estate some time afterwards, through 
the operation of legal diligence, reduced them still lower, until 
there was little left to them but the recollection of former great- 
ness, which the ruins of various of their strongholds, and the 
general tradition of the country, would shew not to be visionar}-. 


Quarterly. First and fourth — Argent, a hand fess-ways, coupee, proper, 
holding a cross crosslet, fitchee, azure. Second and third — Argent, a 
tower embattled gules. 

Principal Seat. 
Dundurraw on Lochfine. 


Clan Gille-eou. 

This clan is one of those to which a Norman origin has for 
a considerable length of time been assigned, and it is said that 


a brother of Colin Fitzgerald, the alleged ancestor of the Mac- 
kenzies, was the founder of the family. But this origin, as well 
as those of the other clans derived from a Norman source 
appears to have been altogether unknown previous to the 
seventeenth century, and to be but little deserving of credit. 

This clan has been omitted in the MS. of 1450, but the 
two oldest genealogies of the family, of which one is the 
production of the Beatons, who were hereditary sennachies of 
the family, concur in deriving the clan Gille-eon from the same 
race from whom the clans belonging to the great Moray tribe 
are brought by the MS. of 1450. Of this clan the oldest seat 
seems to have been the district of Lorn, as the}' first appear in 
subjection to the lords of Lorn ; and their situation being thus 
between the Camerons and Macnachtans, who were undoubted 
branches of the Moray tribe, there can be little doubt that the 
Macleans belonged to that race also. As their oldest seat was 
thus in Argyll, while they are unquestionably a part of the tribe 
of Moray, we ma)- infer that they were one of those clans 
transplanted from north Moray by Malcolm IV., and it is not 
unlikely that Glenurchart was their original residence, as that 
district is said to have been in the possession of the Macleans 
when the Bissets came in. 

The first of the family on whom tradition has fixed a name 
is Gilleon, surnamed " ni tuoidh," from the word signifying a 
battle-axe, which it appears was his favourite weapon. He is 
said to have fought at the battle of Largs, but of his history 
nothing whatever is known. In 1296 we find Gillemore Macilean 
del Counte de Perth signing Ragman's Roll,' and as the county 
of Perth at that time embraced Lorn, it is probable that this 
was the son of Gilleon and ancestor of the Macleans. In the 
reign of Robert the Bruce, frequent mention is made of three 
brothers, John, Nigell, and Dofuall, termed Mac Gillion, or filii 
Gillion, and they appear to have been sons of Gillemore, for we 
find John designated afterwards Mac Molmari, or Mac Gillimore. 

John Mac Gillimore had two sons, Lachlan Lubanich, 
predecessor of the family of Dowart, and Eachin Reganich, 
predecessor of that of Lochbuy. These brothers lived during 
the reign of Robert II., and appear first as followers of the lord 
of Lorn ; but a dispute having arisen between them and their 

308 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

chief, they left him and took refuge with the lord of the Isles. 
The island lord was now rapidly acquiring the supremacy oyer 
the other descendants of their great progenitor, Somerled, and 
they were accordingly at once received b}' him with great 
favour. But the usual consequence of a stranger entering into 
the countr}' of another clan followed, and a bitter feud soon took 
place between them and the chief of the Mackinnons, which led 
to one of the most daring actions which has ever been recorded 
of any Highland chief The lord of the Isles had set out on 
some expedition to the mainland in a single galley, desiring the 
Macleans and the Mackinnons to follow him, and the Macleans 
resolved upon taking this opportunit}' of avenging many injuries 
which they had received from Mackinnon, and killed him while 
in the act of mounting into his galle}'. Afraid of the vengeance 
of the lord of the Isles for this deed of treachery, they proceeded 
to follow up their act by one still more daring, and accordingly 
set sail after him. No sooner had they overtaken his galley than 
the two brothers at once boarded it, and succeeded in taking 
the Macdonald himself prisoner in the very centre of his islands, 
and within sight of many of his castles. The}- then carried their 
captive to the small island of Garveloch, and thence to Icolmkill,. 
where they detained him until the lord of the Isles, seeing no 
prospect of speed}- relief from his degrading situation, agreed to 
\-ow friendship to them " upon certain stones where men were 
used to make solemn vows in those superstitious times," and 
granted them the lands in Mull which the clan have ever since 

Lachlan Lubanich afterwards married the daughter of the 
lord of the Isles, and was appointed by him his lieutenant- 
general in time of war, an office for which this deed had shewn 
him well fitted. The descendants of these brothers have 
disputed among themselves the honour of the chieftainship of 
the clan Gille-eon, but, although there are not data left from 
which to ascertain with any degree of certainty in which family 
the right lay, there seems little reason to doubt that the famil}- 
of Dowart was the principal branch of the clan. Both families 
produce tradition in support of their claims ; but when we 
consider that, upon the lord of the Isles being compelled when 
in the power of both the brothers, to give his daughter to one of 


CHAP. VII] O F S C O T L A N D 309 

them, Lachlan was selected ; and that unvaried tradition asserts 
that his son commanded as Heutenant-general at the battle of 
the Harlaw ; it seems probable, that Lachlan was the eldest 
brother, and consequently, that the Macleans of Dowart were 
chiefs of the clan Gille-eon. 

Lachlan Lubanich was succeeded b\- his son Eachin Ruoidh 
ni Cath or Red Hector of the battles. He commanded, as we 
have said, at the battle of Harlaw, under the Earl of Ross, and 
it is said, that the Maclean and Irvine of Drum, having encoun- 
tered on the field of battle, slew each other in single combat. 
He appears to have well maintained his epithet of " ni cath," 
although the Sennachy is scarcely borne out in history, when he 
asserts that he " commanded an army in Ireland, took the cit\' 
of Dublin, and a fleet that lay in the harbour." 

His eldest son, Lachlan, was taken prisoner at the battle of 
Harlaw, and detained in captivity for a long time by the Earl of 
Mar ; his brother John, however, followed Donald Balloch with 
the Macleans in his expedition into Lochaber, and was present 
at the victory of Inverlochy. From this period until the 
forfeiture of the lords of the Isles, the Macleans adhered to these 
powerful chiefs, taking a share in all the transactions in which 
the Macdonalds were engaged. In the dissensions which arose 
between John, the last lord, and his son Angus Og, the chief of 
the Macleans took part with the former, and was present at the 
sea fight in the bloody bay, where both Macdonald the father, 
and Maclean, were made prisoners. 

On the forfeiture of the last lord of the Isles, the Macleans 
assumed independence, and appear to have gradually risen upon 
the ruins of that great clan, in the same manner as the 
Mackenzies, Campbells, Macintoshes and others. The posses- 
sions of the Macleans now comprehended the greater part of the 
island of Mull, Movern, and many of the smaller isles, and 
became divided into the powerful branches of Dowart, Lochbu)-, 
Coll, Ardgowr, Morvern, &c. Their history after this period 
exhibits merely a succession of feuds between them and the 
Macdonalds and Campbells, in which they were enabled to 
maintain their ground against both, by reason of their great 
numbers, and the nature of the country they possessed. But at 
length, towards the close of the sixteenth century, the Mac 

;.io THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

donalds appear to ha\e united for the purpose of effectually 
crushing the rising power of the Macleans. At the head of this 
union was Angus ]Macdonald of Kintyre, who had married 
Maclean's sister, and between whom and Maclean disputes had 
arisen in consequence of both possessing lands in Jura. The 
Macdonalds of Slait were involved in the dispute in consequence 
t)f Slait having landed on Maclean's property in Jura on his way 
to visit Macdonald of Kint}-re, when the Kintyre Macdonalds 
carried off some of Maclean's cattle during the night, in order 
that he might impute the theft to Macdonald of Sleat. In this 
thev were successful, for the Macleans were no sooner aware of 
their loss, than the\' attacked the Macdonalds of Sleat and 
defeated them with so much slaughter, that their chief with 
difficult}- escaped. In order to revenge themselves, the 
Macdonalds united to attack the Macleans, and having assembled 
in great numbers, landed in ]\Iull. At that juncture, the chief of 
the Macleans, who was surnamed Lachlan More, was a person 
well fitted by his great talents and military genius to meet the 
emergency upon which the fate of his clan seemed to depend. 
He immediate!}- retired with his followers and cattle to the hills 
in the interior of the island, and left the plains open to the 
Macdonalds, who, finding no one to attack, and being unable to 
force the almost inaccessible mountains, were obliged to depart ; 
but soon after returning with greater numbers, they found Mac- 
clean, having assembled his whole clan and been joined by the 
other numerous branches of the family, determined to anticipate 
their purposed invasion, and setting sail for Mull he attacked the 
Macdonalds in an island south of Kerrera, called Bacca. Un- 
prepared for so vigorous an attack on the part of the Macleans, 
the Macdonalds were forced to give way and betake themselves 
to their galleys, stationed on the other side of the island, but not 
before they had sustained great loss in the skirmish. After this 
defeat, the Macdonalds never again attempted to invade the 
possessions of the Macleans, but a bitter enmit}' existed between 
the Macleans and the Macdonalds of Isla and Kintvre, who fail- 
ing to make any impression upon them b}' force resorted to 
.treachery. With this view Angus Macdonald of Kintyre 
effected a reconciliation with Lachlan More, and the better to 
cover his intended fraud he visited him at his castle of Dowart, 


where his purpose was anticipated by Maclean, who took him 
prisoner, and did not release him until he had given up his right 
to some of the lands in Isla, and had left his brother and his 
eldest son at Dowart as hostages. Maclean was then invited to 
visit Macdonald at Kintyre, which, relying upon the security of 
the hostages, he agreed to do, and arrived there, having left 
Macdonald's brother at Dowart, and being accompanied by the 
other hostage, his uncle, and seventy gentlemen of his clan. 
They were received with apparent cordiality, but had no sooner 
retired for the night than the house was surrounded by the 
Macdonalds with Angus at their head, and after an obstinate 
resistance, the Macleans were made prisoners. 

Angus now satiated his vengeance by executing two of the 
Macleans every day, reserving their chief Lachlan More to the 
last ; and he had already in this way slain them all except the 
chief, when two of the gentlemen of his clan having been taken 
prisoners in Mull, he was obliged to exchange Lachlan for 
them. \o sooner, therefore, was Lachlan at liberty than he 
applied to the government, and obtained letters of fire and 
sword against Macdonald, with an order upon Macleod and 
Locheil to assist him. With these means he sailed for Isla, 
attacked and defeated the Macdonalds, burnt the whole island, 
and drove Angus to seek refuge in his castle, who, seeing that 
he could not resist Maclean, bought his forbearance by giving up 
to him the half of the island of Isla. 

On the death of Angus of Isla, this grant produced some 
negotiations between Maclean and James Macdonald, Angus's 
son, and in order to settle their difference a meeting was agreed 
upon between them, but Maclean coming unadvisedly with a 
small attendance, and his boats being stranded by the retiring 
tide, he was surprised by James Macdonald and killed after a 
brave resistance. And thus fell the greatest chief whom the 
Macleans ever had, a victim to the treachery of the Macdonalds 
of Isla. 

After this the feuds between the Macleans and Macdonalds 
seem to have come to an end ; the son of Lachlan having fully 
revenged his death by ravaging the island of Isla. The Macleans 
joined the Marquis of Montrose in his m.emorable campaign, 
along with the other Highland clans under the command of Sir 

312 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Lachlan Maclean of Morvem, and sustained the warlike 
character of the clan throughout that enterprise. 

In the )'ear 171 5 the Macleans also joined the rising under 
the Earl of Mar, and suffered upon that occasion the same 
penalt}' with the other clans who had been induced to take a 
part in that unfortunate expedition. But their estates having 
been afterwards restored, they were prevailed upon by the per- 
suasions of President Forbes to remain quiet during the subse- 
quent insurrection of the year 1745. 

Nevertheless, although they had thus escaped the snare into 
which so man\' of the clans fell upon this occasion, the family 
became soon after extinct, and the clan is now divided into 
several independent branches who contest with each other the 
honour of the chiefship. 


Quarterly — First. Argent, a rock gules- Second— Argent, a de.xter hand 
fess-ways, couped. gules, holding a cross ciosslet, fitchee, in pale azure. 
Third — Or, a lymphad sable. Fourth — Argent, a salmon naiant, 
proper; in chief, two eagles' heads erased, affronte gules. 

Blackberry heath. 

Pri7icipal Seat 

Oldest Cadet. 
The family of Lochbuy, who h»ve long claimed the chiefsWp, appear 

to be the oldest cadet- 

Maclean of Dowart appears to have been chief of the clan. 

■ • ■ Force. 

Formerly 800. In 1745, 5°<^- 

Siol O'Cain. 

In enquiring into the existence of any descendants of the 
ancient inhabitants of the North of Moray, we should expect to 
find them either as isolated clans in the neighbourhood, whose 
traditionary origin shewed some connection with those of the 
tribe of Moray, or situated in districts whose situation displayed 
evident marks of the violent removal effected b\' Malcolm IV. 


Of the latter we find instances in the Macnachtans and Macleans, 
of the former we can discover it in those clans whom tradition 
deduces from the O'Cains, and which consist principall}' of the 
Monros, Macmillans, and Buchannans. These clans, like most 
of the other Highland clans, have been supposed to be derived 
from the Irish, but their traditionary origin clearly points out their 
connection with the tribe of Moray. According to the ancient 
Sennachies, the descent of these clans is derived from certain 
branches of the family of O'Cain, who are said to have come from 
Fermanagh ; but the name Cain being spelt in Gaelic Cathan, and 
being the very same with Cattan, from whom clan Chattan 
derives its appellation, it seems much more probable that they 
derived their patronymic of " O'Cain " or " O'Cathan " from the 
Cattan of clan Chattan. And more particularly when the oldest 
genealogies of the Macmillans, expressly makes them a branch 
of the clan Chattan. The founder of the clan Chattan is also 
brought from the same part of Ireland as the Monros in the 
legends of the Sennachies ; and the identity of tradition clearly 
points out a connection between the two clans. We have 
already shewn this fable of the Irish origin to be untenable in 
respect to the one, and it must be equally so with regard to the 

CUdi Roicli. 

The possessions of the Monros lie on the north side of the 
Cromarty I'irth, and are known in the Highlands by the name 
of " Ferrin Donald," a name derived from the progenitor Donald, 
who bore the patronymic of O'Cain ; but as the}' originally 
formed a part of the tribe of Moray, it seems clear that their 
earliest seats must have been in that part of Moray from which 
they were driven out by the Bissets. By their situation they 
were naturally thrown into connection with the earls of Ross, and 
they seem, accordingly, to have followed them in the various 
expeditions in which they were engaged. 

The first of the Monros for whom we have distinct authority, 
is George Monro of Fowlis, who is said to be mentioned in a 
charter of William, earl of Sutherland, so early as the reign of 
Alexander II. In the next century, the clan appears to have been 
nearly cut off to a man, in a feud with the inhabitants of the 


hill-country of Ross. These clans, consisting principally of the 
Macivers, Macaula}'s, and Maclays, had risen against the earl of 
Ross, and taken his second son at Balnagowan. In his attempt 
to put down this insurrection, the earl of Ross was promptly 
assisted by the Monros and the Dingwalls, who pursued the 
Highlanders, and fought them at a place called Beallynebroig. 
The three clans who had broken out into rebellion were nearly 
extinguished, and it is said that a hundred and forty of the 
Dingwalls and eleven of the house of Fowlis, who were to 
succeed each other, were killed, and that accordingly the 
succession fell to an infant. The Monros, however, appear to 
have soon recovered from this slaughter, and to have again 
attained to the station they had formerly possessed. 

The first feudal titles obtained by this family to their pos- 
sessions were acquired about the middle of the fourteenth 
centur)', and all proceeded from the earl of Ross as their feudal 
superior. The reddendo of one of these charters is of a some- 
what singular nature considering the times, Monro holding the 
lands of Pitlundie blench of the earl of Ross, for payment of a 
pair of ivhite gloves, or three pounds Scots, if required, 
alternately. In another charter, however, granted by the same 
earl, of the lands of Easter Fowlis, to Robert Monro of Fowlis, 
it is expressly said, that these lands had belonged to his prede- 
cessors ever since the time of Donald, the first of this family. 
From this period, the Monros appear to have remained in 
possession of the same territories, without either acquiring 
additions to them, or suffering diminution ; and to have at all 
times held the same station in which they were first found 
among the other Highland clans. 

In the sixteenth century they seem to have been considered 
as a clan of considerable importance, for when so many of the 
Highlanders assembled round Queen Mary at Inverness, in 
1562, Buchannan says, "Audito principis periculo magna 
priscorum Scotorum multitude partim excita partim sua sponte 
affecit, imprimis Fraserii ct Moiiivi hominum fortissimorum in 
illis gentibus familiar." 

But when the civil wars of the seventeenth century broke 
out, and the Highlanders took such an active part on the side of 
the royal cause, the Monros were one of the few clans of Gaelic 

CHAP. VII] O F S C O T L A X D 315 

origin who embraced the other side ; and from this period the\' 
made a constant and determined opposition to the efforts made 
in favour of the Stuarts. The cause of this determination is 
probably to be found in the circumstance of the chief of the 
Monros having been for several generations engaged in the con- 
tinental wars, into which the}- had been drawn to serve by 
embarrassments at home, and the hope of increasing the fortunes 
of the family. This circumstance, as it had the same effect with 
the Mackays, seems always to have induced the Scotch, on their 
return from the German wars, to adopt the line of politics 
opposed to that of the Highlanders generall}-, and, in this 
respect, the Monros had rendered themselves well known for 
the active support which they invariably afforded to the 
established government. 

In the year 1745, the Monros proved their attachment to the 
government by joining it with the whole clan, and their chief, 
Sir Robert Monro, of Fowlis, was killed at the battle of Falkirk, 
fighting against the army of the Stuart cause. 

Or, an eagle's head erased, gules. 

Eagles' feathers. 

Principal Seat. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Munro of Milton. 

Munro of Fowlis. 

In 1704 and 1715, 4C0. In 1745, 5°°- 

Clan Gillemliaol. 

The earliest seat of the Macmillans appears to have been on 
both sides of the Locharkaig, and their situation strongly con- 
firms their traditionar)- connection with the clan Chattan. On 
the grant of Lochaber to the lord of the Isles, the iVIacmillans 

3 16 THE HIGHLAND E R S [part ii 

became vassals of that powerful chief, but when the Camerons 
obtained possession of Locharkaig, the}' became dependent upon 
that clan, in which situation they ha\e remained ever since. 

Another branch of this clan possessed the greater part of 
southern Knapdale, where their chief was known under the title 
of Macmillan of Knap ; and although the family is now extinct, 
many records of their former power are to be found in that 
district. One of the towers of that fine ancient edifice. Castle 
Swen, bears the name of Macmillan's Tower, and there is a 
stone cross in the old churchyard of Kilmoray Knap, upwards 
of twelve feet high, richly sculptured, which has upon one side 
the representation of an Highland chief engaged in hunting the 
deer, having the following inscription in ancient Saxon 
characters underneath the figure : — " H^ec est crux Alexandri 
Macmillan." Although the Macmillans were at a very earl)- 
period in Knapdale, the}' probabl}' obtained the greater part of 
their possessions there b}- marriage with the heiress of the chief 
of the Macneils, in the sixteenth century. Tradition asserts 
that these Knapdale Macmillans came originally from Lochtay- 
side, and that the}' formerl}- possessed Lawers, on the north side 
of that loch, from which they were driven by Chalmers of 
Lawers, in the reign of David H. 

As there is little reason to doubt the accuracy of the 
tradition, it would appear that this branch of the Macmillans 
had been removed b}' Malcolm I\". from North Moray, and 
placed in the crown lands of Strathtay. Macmillan is said to 
have had the charter of his lands in Knapdale engraved in the 
Gaelic language and character upon a rock at the extremity of 
his estate ; and tradition reports that the last of the name, in 
order to prevent the prostitution of his wife, butchered her 
admirer, and was obliged in consequence to abscond. On the 
extinction of the family of the chief, the ne.xt branch, Macmillan 
of Dunmore, assumed the title of Macmillan of Macmillan, but 
that famil}' is now also extinct. 

Although the Macmillans appear at one time to have been a 
clan of considerable importance, }'et as latterly they became 
mere dependants upon their more powerful neighbours, who 
posses.sed the superiorit}' of their lands, and as their principal 
amilies are now extinct, no records of their history have come 

ciiAi'. VII] OF SCOTLAND 317 

down to us, nor do we know what share they took in the various 
great events of Highland history. Their property, upon the 
extinction of the family of the chief, was contended for by the 
Campbells and Macneills, the latter of whom were a powerful 
clan in North Knapdale, but the contest was, by compromise 
decided in favour of the former. It continued in the same 
family till the year 1775, when, after the death of the tenth 
possessor, the estate was purchased by Sir Archibald Campbell, 
of Inverniel. 

Of the same race with the Macmillans, appear to be the 
Ruchannans, or clan Anselan, who obtained the baron}- of 
l^uchannan by marriage with its heiress. They claimed descent 
from .A.nselan O'Cain, and their oldest traditions indicate a close 
connection with the Macmillans. 


Or, a lion rampant sable upon a chief parted per barr. gules, 
three moUets argent. 

Principal Seat. 


3i8 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 


III.— Ross. 

The district of Ross is very frequently mentioned in the Norse 
Sagas along with the other districts which were ruled by 
Maormors or larls, but we find it impossible to extract from 
these authorities the names of many of its Maormors, for the 
proximity of the extensive district of Moray, and the very gr^at 
power and influence to which its chiefs attained, would naturally 
force the less powerful Maormor of Ross into a subordinate 
situation, and thus prevent his name from being associated with 
an}' of the great events of that early period of our history. 

It was consequently only upon the downfall of that powerful 
race that the chiefs of Ross first appear in history, and by that 
time they had already assumed the new appellation of Comes 
or earl. That these earls, however, were the descendants of the 
ancient Maormors, there can be little doubt, and this natural 
presumption is in this instance strengthened by the fact that 
the oldest authorities concur in asserting the patronymic or 
Gaelic name of the earls of Ross to be O'Beolan, or descendants 
of Beolan ; and we actually find, from the oldest Norse Saga 
connected with Scotland, that a powerful chief in the north of 
Scotland, named Beolan, married the daughter of Ganga Rolfe, 
or Rollo, the celebrated pirate, who became afterwards the first 
earl of Normandy. From this account, extracted from almost 
a contemporary writer, it would appear that the ancestor of the 
earls of Ross was chief of that district in the beginning of the 
tenth century. 

The first known earl of Ross is Malcolm, to whom a precept 
was directed from Malcolm IV., desiring him to protect and 
defend the monks of Dunfermline in their lawful privileges, 
possessions, &c. This precept is not dated, but from the names 


of the witnesses it must have been granted before the year 1162. 
The next earl who is recorded in history is Ferchard, surnamed 
Macintagart, or son of the priest. At this period the tribe of 
Moray, after a series of rebellions, of which each had proved 
to be more fatal to them than the preceding, was rapidly 
approaching its downfall ; and in proportion as it declined, 
the earls of Ross appear to have obtained more and more of 
the power and influence in the North, which had hitherto been 
possessed by the Maormors of Moray. By the defeat of 
Kenneth Macbeth, the last of the line of the old earls of 
Moray, that family became extinct, and the ruin of the tribes 
was completed, while Ferchard, earl of Ross, who had judged it 
prudent at length openly to join the king's party, and had been 
mainly instrumental in suppressing that insurrection, at once 
acquired the station in the Highlands which had been formerly 
held by the earls of Moray. The designation of this earl of 
" son of the priest," shews that he was not the son of the 
former earl, but that the older family must have become extinct, 
and a new line come into possession of the dignity. Of what 
family this earl was, history does not say, but that omission 
may in some degree be supplied by the assistance of the MS. 
of 1450. It is well known that the surname of Ross has always 
been rendered in Gaelic, clan Anrias, or clan Gilleani'ias, and 
they appear under the former of these appellations in all the 
early Acts of Parliament ; there is also an unvarying tradition 
in the Highlands, that on the death of William, last earl of 
Ross of this family, a certain Paul Mac Tire was for some time 
chief of the clan ; and this tradition is corroborated by the fact 
that there is a charter by this same William, earl of Ross, to 
this very Paul Mac Tire, in which he styles him his cousin. 
There appears, however, among the numerous clans contained 
in the MS. of 1450, one termed clan Gilleanrias, which com- 
mences with Paul Mac Tire, so that there can be little doubt 
that this clan is the same with that of the Rosses, and in 
this MS. they are traced upwards in a direct line to a certain 
" Gilleon na h'Airde," or Collin of the Aird, who must have 
lived in the tenth century. In this genealogy occurs the name 
of Gilleanrias, exactly contemporary with the generation pre- 
ceding that of Ferchard. 

320 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii" 

The name of Gilleanrias, which means the servant of St. 
Andrew, would seem to indicate that he was a priest ; and 
when, in addition to this, we consider the time exactly cor- 
responds — that the earls of Ross, being a part of the clan 
Anrias, must have been descended from him — and that among 
the earls who besieged Malcolm IV. in Perth, in the year 
1 1 60, appears the name of Gilleandres, it seems clear that 
Ferchard, " the priest's son," was the son of Gillieanrias, the 
founder of the clan Anrias, and consequently, that he succeeded 
to the earldom, of Ross on the failure of a former family. 
Ferchard appears to have rendered great assistance to Alex- 
ander II. in his conquest of Argyll in 1221, and on that 
occasion obtained from that monarch a grant of North Argyll, 
afterwards termed Wester Ross. The only other act recorded 
of his life is the foundation of the Abbey of Feme ; and on 
his death at Tayne, in 125 1, he was succeeded by his son 

It was during the life of this earl that the expedition of 
Haco to the Western Isles took place. The more immediate 
cause of this expedition was the incursions which the earl of 
Ross had made into various of the Isles ; but although, in a 
Celtic country, the proximity of powerful tribes was always 
accompanied by bitter feuds, and accordingly there might have 
existed some hereditary enmity between the Rosses and the 
Gael of the Western Isles, yet the history of the period shews 
very clearly that the hostilities of the earl of Ross were in all 
probability instigated by the king ; and that that monarch, 
aware of the danger of attempting the subjugation of the 
Isles, from the ill success of his father, had by these means 
called forth a Norwegian armament, and brought the war to 
his own country, a policy the sagacity of which was fully 
justified in the result. The cession of the Isles, however, 
although an event of so much importance and advantage to 
the general welfare of the country, did not affect the interests 
of the earl of Ross so favourably ; as previous to that occurrence 
they had, ever since the decline of the Maormors of Moray, 
been the only great chiefs in the Highlands, and had possessed 
an absolute influence in the North. Ikit now a new family 
was thus brought in closer connexion with the kingdom of 


Scotland, whose power was too great for the earls of Ross 
to overcome, and who consequently divided with them the 
consideration which the latter had alone previously held in 
the Highlands. It would lead to too great length to enter 
in this place into a detailed account of the history of these 
earls, particularly as their great power involved them so much 
with the general public events of Scottish history, that such 
a detail becomes the less necessary ; suffice it therefore to 
say, that notwithstanding the powerful clan of the Macdonalds 
having by the cession of the Isles been brought into the field, 
they continued to maintain the high station they had reached 
in point of influence ; and their policy leading them to a 
constant adherence to the established government of the time, 
they were ready to take advantage of the numerous rebellions 
of their rival chiefs to increase their own influence, although 
the actual strength of the Macdonalds, and the advantage 
they derived from the distant and inaccessible nature of their 
extensive possessions, was too great to allow any very per- 
manent advantage to be obtained over them. Such was the 
reciprocal position of these two great families in respect to 
each other ; and each of them would perhaps in the end have 
proved too much for the strength of the government, had 
they not at all times had to apprehend the enmity of the 
other ; so that they remained in an attitude of mutual defiance 
and respect until the extinction of the direct male line of the 
earls of Ross, when the introduction, through the operation of 
the feudal principles of succession, of a Norman baron into 
their territories and dignities, not only deprived the lords of 
the Isles of a dreaded rival, but eventually even threw the 
whole power and resources of the earldom of Ross into the 
hands of these Island lords ; and thus, no Highland chief 
remaining powerful enough to offer any opposition to the 
Macdonalds, gave birth to that brief but eventful struggle 
between the lords of the Isles and the crown, which could 
only terminate with the ruin or extinction of one of the 
contending parties. 

This termination of the male line of the earls of Ross, and 
introduction in their place of a Norman baron, although it 
was but for a short period that the Lowland family remained, 


322 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

being soon succeeded by the Macdonalds themselves, had the 
usual effect of bringing the subordinate clans into notice ; and 
the first of these to which we have to direct our attention is 
the clan Anrias, or the Rosses. 

Cla}i Aiirias. 

On the death of William, the last of the old earls of Ross, 
it is unquestionable that the chiefship of the clan devolved 
upon Paul Mac Tire, who in the MS. of 1450 is given as 
chief of the clan Anrias. Paul appears from that manuscript 
to have descended from a brother of Ferchard, first earl of 
Ross of this family, who bore the same name of Paul, and 
to have been a person of no ordinary consequence in his 
time. " Paul Mactire," says Sir Robert Gordon, " was a man 
of great power and possessions. In hys tyme he possessed 
the lands of Creich, in Sutherland, and built a house there 
called Douncriech,' with such a kynd of hard mortar that at 
this day it cannot be known whereof it was made. As he 
was building this house and fortefieing it, he had intelligence 
that his onlie son was slayen in Catteness, in company with 
one Murthow Reawich, ane outlaw and valiante captaine in 
these days, which made him desist from further building, when 
he had almost finished the same. There are manie things 
fabulouslie reported of this Paul Mactire among the vulgar 
people, which I do omit to relate." Sir Robert is perfectly 
correct in calling Paul a man of great power and possessions, 
for he held the whole of Strath Carron, Strath Oikill, Scrivater, 
and Glenbeg, in Ross, besides the extensive district of Braechatt 
including Lairg' Criech and Slischilish, or Ferrincoskie. He had 
also a charter of the lands of Gerloch from the earl of Ross , 
but his title to be considered as the inventor of vitrified 
forts, Duncriech being one of the most remarkable specimens 
remaining of these curious objects of antiquity, although 
admitted, strangely enough, by the sceptical Pinkerton, may by 
some be considered doubtful. " Paul Mactyre," says an ancien 
historian of Highland families, " was a valiant man, and caused 
Caithness to pay him blackmail. It is reported that he got 
nyn score of covves yearly out of Caithness for blackmail so long 
as he was able to travel." On this chief, whose actions seem to 


have dwelt so long in the recollection of after generations, being 
removed by death, we find the Rosses of Balnagowan appearing 
as the head of the clan, and in this family the chiefship has 
remained for upwards of three hundred years. The descent of 
the Rosses of Balnagowan has hitherto been considered as 
perfectly distinct, and it has never been doubted that their 
ancestor was William Ross, son of Hugh de Ross, who was 
brother to William, the last Earl of Ross. The family have in 
consequence claimed to be the male representatives of the 
ancient earls, but to this the objection naturally occurs, that if 
the Rosses of Balnagowan are the descendants of the brother 
of the last earl, how came Paul Mactire, a remote collateral 
branch, to be considered chief of the race, as we know from the 
MS. of 1450, and other sources, he unquestionably was? The 
descent of the Balnagowan family from a William de Ross, the 
son of a Hugh de Ross, who lived in the reign of David H., 
is undoubted ; but it unfortunately happens that the records 
prove most clearly that there lived at the same time two 
Hugh de Rosses, one of whom was certainly brother to the 
last earl, and that each of these Hugh de Rosses had a son 
William de Ross, 

In 1375, Robert II. confirms " Willielmo de Ross, filio et 
hcEvedi quond Hugonis de Ross," a charter of William, earl of 
Ross, to the said Hugh, his brother, of the lands of Balnagowan, 
and in 1379 he grants consanguineo suo Hugoni de Ross de 
Kinfauns, and Margaret Barclay his spouse, an annual rent 
from the lands of Doune in Banff. The one Hugh Ross thus 
got a charter in 1379, while the other was already dead in 1375.^ 

In 1383, however, we find a charter to John Lyon of lands 
in Fife, que fuerunt Roberto de Ross, filio et heredi Hugonis de 
Ross de Kinfauns, and in 1377 the king confirms a charter by 
the earl of Caithness, Willielmo de Ross, filio juniori quond 
Hugonis de Ross, of the lands in Caithness, which had belonged 
to Walter Moray. 

^ Mr. Wood, in liis Peerage, quotes be dead. Xo doubt he was, but a 

these cliarters as of the same Hugh grant of an annual rent to a dead 

de Ross ; and in quoting the last, re- person does not seem to liave struck 

marks, with the utmost gravity, Mr. Wood as singular, 
that Hugh appears at this time to 

324 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

From these charters, then, it appears that there existed in 
the North, at the same time, two William de Rosses, each of 
them son of a Hugh de Ross. The one William de Ross, how- 
ever, was the eldest son of Hugh de Ross, the brother of the 
last earl, while the other William de Ross was the younger son 
of a Hugh de Ross who, in consequence of a connection with 
the royal family, obtained a grant of Kinfauns in Perthshire, 
Kinfauns being inherited by the eldest son, Robert, while 
William obtained property in the North. It is, of course, im- 
possible to fix with certainty from which of the two Williams 
the Balnagowan family are descended, but the presumption 
certainly is, that William de Ross, the son of the earl's brother, 
died without issue, and that the other William de Ross, who 
must have been of a remote branch, is their ancestor. That 
the Rosses of Balnagowan were of the same branch with Paul 
Mac Tire is rendered probable by their own tradition, for when 
a family is led by circumstances to believe in a descent 
different from the real one, we invariably find that they assert a 
marriage between their ancestor and the heiress of the family 
from which they are in reality descended, and the Rosses 
of Balnagowan have accordingly invariably accompanied the 
assertion of their descent from Hugh, the brother of the last 
earl, with that of their ancestor having married the daughter 
and heiress of Paul Mac Tire. 

Of the history of the Rosses during the fifteenth centurv 
we know little ; and they ma\' have acquired the property of 
Balnagowan either by marriage or as male heirs of the last 
family. Towards the end of that century they very narrowly 
escaped being annihilated in a feud with the Mackays, who 
were at that time in great power. xA.ngus Mackay, after having 
for a long period constantly molested and irritated the Rosses 
by frequent incursions into their territories, was at length 
surprised by them in the church at Tarbat, and there burnt to 
death. When his son John attained majority, he determined 
to take a deep and bloody revenge for his father's death, and 
having raised as many of his own clan as he could, and also 
obtained considerable assistance from the earl of Sutherland, 
he unexpectedl)' burst into the district of Strathoykill, wasting 
the country with fire and sword. Alexander, then laird of 


Balnagovvan, collected forthwith all the men he could, and met 
the invader at a place called Aldycharrich. A battle followed, 
which was contested with unusual fierceness and obstinacy, 
until at length the Rosses were totally routed, and their chief, 
together with seventeen landed proprietors of the county of 
Ross, were slain. The Rosses do not appear ever to have 
recovered the great slaughter which took place upon this 
occasion, and they remained afterwards a clan of no great 
strength, until at length the family became extinct in the 
beginning of the eighteenth century, in the person of David, the 
last of the old Rosses of Balnagovvan, who, finding that in con- 
sequence of the entail of Balnagovvan ending with himself, he 
was enabled to sell the estate, disposed of it to General Ross, 
brother of lord Ross of Hawkhead, from whom the late Rosses 
of Balnagovvan are descended, thus occasioning the somewhat 
curious coincidence of the estates being purchased by a family 
of the same name though of very different origin. 

Oldest coat — Sa. on a chev. ar. a lion rampant, or, between two torteauxes. 

The uva ursi plant. 

Principal Seat. 

Ross Munro, of Pitcalnie, now represents this family. 

In 1427, 2000. In 1704 and 1715,300. In 1745, 50°' 

Claii Kenneth. 

The Mackenzies have long boasted of their descent from the 
great Norman family of Fitzgerald in Ireland, and in support 
of this origin they produce a fragment of the records of Icolm- 
kill, and a charter by Alexander III. to Colin Fitzgerald, the 
supposed progenitor of the family, of the lands of Kintail. At 
first sight these documents might appear conclusive, but, inde- 
pendently of the somewhat suspicious circumstance, that while 
these papers have been most freely and generally quoted, no 
one has ever yet declared that he has seen the originals, the 

326 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

fragment of the Icolmkill record merely says, that among the 
actors in the battle of Largs, fought in 1262, was " Peregrinus 
et Hibernus nobih's ex famiHa geraldinorum qui proximo anno 
ab Hibernia pulsus apud regem benigne acceptus hinc usque 
in curta permansit et in pr?efacto proslio strenue pugnavit," 
giving not a hint of his having settled in the Highlands, or 
of his having become the progenitor of any Scottish family 
whatever; while as to the supposed charter of Alexander HI., 
it is equally inconclusive, as it merely grants the lands of 
Kintail " Colino Hiberno," the word " Hibernus " having at 
that time come into general use as denoting the Highlanders, 
in the same manner as the word " Erse " is now frequentl}' 
used to express their language : but inconclusive as it is, this 
charter cannot be admitted at all, as it bears the most palpable 
marks of having been a forgery of later times, and one by no 
means happy in its execution. 

How such a tradition of the origin of the Mackenzies ever 
could have arisen, it is difficult to say ; but the fact of their 
native and Gaelic descent is completely set at rest by the 
manuscript of 1450, which has already so often been the means 
of detecting the falsehood of the foreign origins of other clans. 
In that MS., the antiquit}' of which is perhaps as great, and 
its authenticity certainly much greater than the fragments of 
the Icolmkill records, the Mackenzies, are brought from a 
certain Gilleon-og, or Colin the younger, a son of " Gilleon 
na h'airde," the ancestor of the Rosses. 

The descendants of Gilleon na h'airde we have already 
identified with the ancient tribe of Ross ; and it follows, there- 
fore, that the Mackenzies must always have formed an integral 
part of that tribe. 

Until the forfeiture of the lords of the Isles, the Mackenzies 
held their lands of the earl of Ross, and always followed his 
banner in the field, and there is consequently little to be learned 
of their earlier history, until by the forfeiture of that earldom 
also they rose rapidl}' upon the ruins of the Macdonalds to 
the great power and extent of territory which they afterwards 
came to possess. 

The first of this family who is known with certainty, appears 
to be " Murdo filius Kennethi de Kintail," to whom a charter 


is said to have been granted by David II. as early as the year 
1362 ; and this is confirmed by the manuscript of 1450, the 
last two generations given in which are " Murcha, the son of 
Kenneth." After him we know nothing of the clan, until we 
find the chief among those Highland barons who were arrested 
by king James I., at his treacherous Parliament held at Inver- 
ness in 1427 ; and the clan appears by this time to have become 
one of very considerable strength and importance, for Kenneth 
More, their chief, is ranked as leader of two thousand men. 

It was during the life of his son Murdoch that the earl of 
Ross and lord of the Isles was forfeited ; on that occasion 
the chief of the Mackenzies did not neglect the opportunity 
so eagerly seized by the other clans that were dependent on 
the Macdonalds, but not connected bv descent with that clan, 
to render himself altogether independent ; and therefore he 
steadily opposed, to the utmost of his power, every attempt 
on the part of the Macdonalds to resume possession of the 
earldom which had been wrested from them. One of the 
principal attempts of the Macdonalds for this purpose was 
that of the rebellion under Alaster Mac Gillespie, the nephew 
of the last lord, when, after having succeeded in regaining 
possession of the Isles, he at length invaded Ross ; but the 
Mackenzies were not willing to resign without a struggle their 
newly acquired independence. They accordingly exerted all 
the interest the\' could command to excite opposition to the 
attempt of Alaster Mac Gillespie upon Ross, and finally 
attacked him at the head of his own clan, together with a 
large body of the inhabitants of the country, near the river 
Connan. A fierce and obstinate engagement between the 
parties ensued, but the Macdonalds, being unable to cope with 
the numbers opposed to them, were at length completely 
overthrown with ver}- great slaughter. This battle is known 
in history and in tradition by the name of the conflict of 
Blairnapark ; after this, various other encounters took place 
between the Macdonalds, which ended in the complete inde- 
pendence of the former. 

From this period the Mackenzies gradually increased, both 
in power and extent of territories, until they finally established 
themselves as one of the principal clans of the north, and in 

328 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

the words of Sir Robert Gordon : — " From the ruins of the 
family of clan Donald and some of the neighbouring High- 
landers, and also by their own vertue, the surname of the 
clan Kenzie, from small beginnings began to flourish in these 
bounds, and by the friendship and favour of the house of 
Sutherland, chiefly of earl John, fifth of that name, earl of 
Sutherland (whose chamberlains they were in receiving the 
rents of the earldom of Rosse to his use), their estate afterwards 
came to great height, yea, above divers of their more ancient 
neighbours." The establishment of the clan at once in so 
great power, upon the ruins of the Macdonalds, was much 
furthered by the character of the chief of the time, who appears 
to have been a person of considerable talent, and well fitted 
to seize every occasion of extending their influence. " In his 
time," says an ancient historian of the clan, " he purchased 
much of the Braelands of Ross, and secured both what he 
had acquired, and what his predecessors had, by well ordered 
and legal security — so that it is doubtful whether his pre- 
decessors' courage, or his prudence, contributed most to the 
rising of his family." The endeavours of the Mackenzies 
thus to possess themselves of a portion of the now scattered 
territories of the Macdonalds, had with them the same result 
as with the other clans engaged in pursuit of the same object, 
for they soon found themselves involved in bitter feuds with 
.several branches of that great but fallen clan. 

Proximity of situation, and peculiar circumstances, occa- 
sioned the Glengarry branch of the Macdonalds to become 
their principal antagonists ; and the causes of this feud, which 
for some time raged with great fierceness, and at length ended 
in the additional aggrandisement of the Mackenzies, and in 
the loss of a great part of Glengarry's possessions, are these : 
During the period when the earldom of Ross was held by 
Alexander, lord of the Isles, that chief bestowed a considerable 
extent of territory in Ross upon the second son Celestine. 
The descendants of Celestine having become extinct, after the 
failure of the various attempts which had been made to regain 
the possessions and dignities of the forfeited lord of the Isles, 
their estate in Ross descended to Macdonald of Glengarry, 
whose grandfather had married the heiress of that branch of 


the Macdonalds. But these possessions were, from their proxi- 
mity, looked upon with an envious eye by the Mackenzies, 
and they consequently attempted to expel the Macdonalds 
from them. Various success for some years attended the 
prosecution of this feud, and many atrocities had been com- 
mitted on both sides, when Mackenzie resolved, by assistance 
from government and under cover of law, to obtain that which 
he had otherwise found himself unable to accomplish ; and the 
mode of procedure adopted b}' him for this purpose is thus 
described by Sir Robert Gordon : — " The laird of Glengarry 
(one of the clan Donald) being inexpert and onskilful in the 
laws of the realme, the clan Chenzie easily entrapped him 
within the compass thereof, and secretly charged him (bot not 
personallie) to appear before the justice of Edinburgh, having 
in the meantime slayn two of his kinsmen. Glengarry, not 
knowing, or neglecting the charges and summonds, came not 
to Edinburgh at the prefixt day, bot went about to revenge 
the slaughter of his kinsmen, whereby he was denounced rebell 
and outlawed, together with divers of his followers ; so by 
means and credit of the earl of Dumfermlvn, lord chancellor of 
Scotland, Kenneth Mackenzie, lord of Kintayle, did purchase a 
commission against Glengarr\- and his men, whereby proceeded 
great slaughter and trouble." Mackenzie having thus obtained 
the authority and assistance of the government, and being 
joined by a party of men sent by the earl of Sutherland, 
soon succeeded in driving the Macdonalds from the disputed 
territory, and at length besieged the only remaining detachment 
of them, who occupied the castle of Strome. 

After a siege of some duration, the Macdonalds were obliged 
to surrender, and the Mackenzies forthwith blew up the castle. 
He then invaded Glengarry at the head of a numerous body 
of troops, which he had collected for that purpose, and attacked 
the Macdonalds, who had taken arms in defence of their terri- 
tory. The Macdonalds were beat, and their leader, Glengarry's 
eldest son, was killed, with great slaughter on both sides ; the 
Macdonalds defended their possessions for a considerable period 
with such desperation, that at length Mackenzie, finding that 
he could not make any impression upon them in their own 
country, and Glengarry being aware that he had now little 

330 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ir 

chance of recovering the districts which had been wrested 
from him, the contending parties came to an agreement, and 
the result was, a crown charter obtained by Mackenzie to the 
disputed districts, being those of Lochalsh. Lochcarron, &c., with 
the castle of Strome. The charter is dated in the year 1607 — 
■' Thus doe the tryb of clan Kenzie become great in these pairts 
still encroaching upon their neighbours, who are unacquainted 
with the lawes of this kingdome." 

This Kenneth Mackenzie was soon after raised to the 
peerage b)- the title of Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, and his 
son Colin received the additional dignity of earl of Seaforth 
honours which they appear to have owed entirely to the great 
extent of territory which the)^ had then acquired — "All the 
Highlands and Isles, from Ardnamurchan to Strathnaven, were 
either the Mackenzies' property or under their vassalage, some 
very few excepted ; and all about him were tied to his family 
by very strict bonds of friendship." 

The Mackenzies took an active share in all the attempts 
made b}' the Highland clans in support of the cause of the 
Stuarts, with the exception of the last ; and having been 
twice forfeited, the dictates of prudence, strengthened by the 
eloquence of President Forbes, induced them to decline joining 
in that unfortunate insurrection. 

In the next generations, however, the family became extinct 
and the estates have passed by the marriage of the heiress 
into the possession of a stranger. 

Az. a stag's head embossed, or. 


Pri7icipal Seat. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Mackenzie of Gairloch. 

The family of the chief is said to be represented by Mackenzie 

of Allangrange. 

In 1427, 2000. In 1704, 1200. In 1745, 2500. 


Clan Mathan. 

The Macmathans or Mathiesons are represented in the 
manuscript of 1450 as a branch of the Mackenzies, and their 
origin is deduced in that document from Mathan or Mathew, 
a son of Kenneth, from whom the Mackenzies themselves take 
their name. 

This origin is strongly corroborated by tradition, which has 
always asserted the existence of a close intimacy and con- 
nexion between these two clans. The genealogy contained in 
the manuscript is also confirmed by the fact that the Norse 
account of Haco's expedition mentions that the earl of Ross, 
in his incursions among the Isles, which led to that expedition, 
was accompanied by Kiarnakr, son of Makamals, while at that 
very period in the genealogy of the manuscript occur the names 
oi Kenneth and Matgamna or Mathew, of which the Norse names 
are evidently a corruption. 

Of the history of this clan we know nothing whatever. 
Although they are now extinct, they must at one time have 
been one of the most powerful clans in the north, for among 
the Highland chiefs seized by James I. at the Parliament held 
at Inverness in 1427, Bower mentions Macmaken, leader of 
two thousand men, and this circumstance affords a most striking 
instance of the rise and fall of different families ; for, while the 
Mathison appears at that early period as the leader of two 
thousand men, the Mackenzie has the same number only, and 
we now see the clan of Mackenzie extending their numberless 
branches over a great part of the north, and possessing an 
extent of territory of which few^ families can exhibit a parallel, 
while the once powerful clan of the Mathisons has disappeared, 
and their name become nearly forgotten. 

Siol Alpine. 

The general appellation of Siol Alpine has been usually 
given to a number of clans situated at considerable distances 
from each other, but who have hitherto been supposed to 
possess a common descent, and that from Kenneth Macalpine, 
the ancestor of a long line of Scottish kings. These clans are 
the clan Gregor, the Grants, the Mackinnons, Macquarries, 

332 T H E H I G H L A N D E R S [part ii 

IMacnabs, and ]\Iacaulays, and they have at all times claimed 
the distinction of being the noblest and most ancient of the 
Highland clans. " S'rioghail mo dhream," my race is royal, was 
the proud motto of the Macgregors, and although the other 
Highland clans have for centuries acquiesced in the justice of 
that motto, yet this lofty boast must fall before a rigid examina- 
tion into its truth. For the authofity of the manuscript of 1450 
puts it beyond all doubt that that origin was altogether unknown 
at that period, and that these clans in reality formed a part of 
the tribe of Ross. 

The clans which formed the Siol Alpine seem to have 
differed from all others in this respect — that, so far back as 
they can be traced, they were always disunited, and although 
they acknowledged a common descent, yet at no time do they 
appear united under the authority of a common chief But the 
principal tribe was always admitted to be that of clan Gregor, 
who, in the words of a late illustrious writer, are described to 
have been a race " famous for their misfortunes and the indomit- 
able spirit with which they maintained themselves as a clan, 
linked and banded together in spite of the most severe laws, 
executed with unheard-of rigour against those who bore this 
forbidden surname." 

Clan Gregor. 

A great deal of romantic interest has of late years been 
attached to the history of this clan from the conspicuous part 
which it performs in many of the productions of the inimitable 
author of the Waverley novels, by which their proscription and 
consequent sufferings have become familiar to every one. But 
in the following short sketch I shall only attempt to throw 
together as many authentic facts regarding their early history 
as are still to be traced. The earliest possession of this family 
appears to have been the district of Glenurchy in Lorn, and 
from that district all the other septs of clan Gregor proceeded, 
for the common ancestor of all these clans is in tradition styled 
Ey Urchaych, or Hugh of Glenurch}% and his epithet of Glen- 
urchy apparently points him out as the first of the clan who 
took possession of that district. Glenurchy forms a part of 
those territories in Argyll which were forfeited by Alexander 


the Second, and given to the principal chiefs in his arm)'. As 
the earl of Ross had in particular joined him with a considerable 
force, and obtained no inconsiderable extent of territory in con- 
sequence, it is probable that Glenurchy was given to the chief of 
the Macgregors, at that time a vassal of the earl of Ross. 

Glenurchy appears among the possessions of the Argyll 
family as early as the reign of David II., and was afterwards 
settled upon a second son of that family, who became the 
founder of the house of Braedalbane. But notwithstanding that 
the Campbells had thus a legal right to that district, the 
Macgregors maintained the actual possession of it as late as 
the year 1390, for in that }ear there is mention of the death 
of John Gregorii de Glenurchy, and from the earliest period 
in which this clan is mentioned, their whole possessions appear 
to have been held by them upon no other title than that of 
the " Coir a glaive^' or right of the sword. 

Prior to the death of John Macgregor, of Glenurchy, we 
are not acquainted with anything more of their histor}- than 
the mere genealogy of the family. John Macgregor, who died in 
1390, appears to have had three sons — Patrick, who succeeded 
him ; John Dow, ancestor of the family of Glenstrae ; and 
Gregor, ancestor of the famil)- of Roro. Patrick appears, in 
addition to his lands in Glenurchy, to have possessed some 
property in Strathfillan, but the Campbells, who had obtained 
a feudal right to Glenurchy, and reduced the Macgregors to 
the situation of tenants at will, were apparently determined that 
they should not possess a feudal right to an}' property whatever. 
Malcolm, Patrick's son, was in consequence compelled to sell 
the lands of Auchinrevach in Strathfillan to Campbell of 
Glenurchy, who in this manner obtained the first footing in 
Braedalbane, and after this period the Macgregors did not 
possess one acre of land to which they had a feudal title. 
y\s long as the clan remained united under one chief, they were 
enabled to maintain possession of their ancient estates b\- the 
strong hand, but the policy of the Argyll family now occasioned 
the usual disunion among the various families of the clan. The 
chief of the Macgregors, with the principal families, had been 
reduced to the situation of tenants on the lands of the Campbells 
of Glenurch}-, with one exception, viz., the family of Glenstray, 

334 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

who held that estate as vassal of the earl of Arc^yll. From 
Glenurchy, the Macgregors experienced nothing but the extreme 
of oppression. The Argyll family, however, adopted the 
different policy of preserving the Macgregors on their property 
in a sufficient state of strength, to enable them to be of service 
to these wily lords in annoying their neighbours. The conse- 
quence of this was that the chief was for the time in no situation 
to protect his clan, and that the Glenstray family gradually 
assumed their station at the head of the clan with the title 
of captain, which they afterwards bore. The state of the 
principal branches of the clan now presented too favourable 
an opportunity for expelling them from the lands to be 
neglected, and accordingly the powerful families of Glenurchy, 
and others who had acquired a claim upon the chief of the 
Macgregors' lands, and were in the partial possession of them, 
appear at this time to have commenced a system of annoyance 
and oppression, which speedily reduced the clan to a state of 
lawless insubordination, and obliged them to have recourse 
to a life of robbery and plunder as their only means of sub- 
sistence. It was not unnatural that a spirit of retaliation should 
direct their attacks against those who thus acquired possession 
of their lands, but this conduct, though natural, considering 
the country and the time, was studiously represented at court 
as arising from an untameable and innate ferocity of disposition, 
which it was said nothing could remedy, " save cutting off 
the tribe of Macgregor, root and branch." And in truth, the 
treatment they had received had so utterly exasperated this 
unhappy clan, that it became the interest of these barons to 
extirpate them altogether, for which purpose every means was 
used to effect their object under the colour of law. 

The minority of King James the Fourth having thrown 
the power of the state into the hands of the principal barons, 
they appear for the first time to have attained this object by 
means of the enactment obtained in the year 1488, " for 
staunching of thiftreif and other enormities throw all the 
realme " ; and among the barons to whom powers were given 
for enforcing the Act, we find Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, 
Neill Stewart of Fortingall, and Ewine Campbell of Strachur. 
This Act must have fallen with peculiar severity upon the clan 


Gregor, and of course must rather have aggravated than alleviated 
the evil apparently sought to be remedied. But in numbers 
the Macgregor was still a powerful clan. The chieftainship had 
been assumed by the Glenstray family, which was descended 
from John Dow, second son of John Macgregor, and they 
still in some degree maintained their footing in Glenurchy. 
Besides this, a great number of them were now settled in the 
districts of Braedalbane and Atholl, among whom were the 
families of Roro, descended from Gregor, third son of John 
Macgregor, and those of Brackly, Ardchoille and Glengyll, the 
only remaining descendants of the ancient chiefs ; and those 
families, although they acknowledged Glenstray as the chief, 
were yet by distance and jealousy dissevered from that sept. 

In order to reduce these branches, Sir Duncan Campbell of 
Glenurchy obtained, in 1492, the office of baliary of the crown 
lands of Disher and Toyer, Glenlion and Glendochart, and the 
consequences of his obtaining this office speedily shewed them- 
selves, for in 1502 he obtained a charter of the lands of Glenlion, 
and he seems nearly to have accomplished the extermination 
of the other families of Macgregor in his neighbourhood. From 
this period the history of the Macgregors consists of a mere list 
of acts of privy council, by which commissions are granted to 
pursue the clan with fire and sword, and of various atrocities 
which a state of desperation, the natural result of these measures, 
as well as a deep spirit of vengeance against both the framers 
and executors of them, frequently led the clan to commit. 
These actions led to the enactment of still severer laws, and at 
length to the complete proscription of the' clan. 

The slaughter of Drummond of Drummondernoch in the 
year 1589, and the conflict of Glenfruin in 1603, are well known 
to every one ; the former affording a foundation for the incident 
detailed in Sir Walter Scott's Legend of Montrose, and the 
latter being the result of the remarkable raid of the Macgregors 
into Lennox, where they were opposed by the Colquhouns, 
whom they defeated with great slaughter. Previously to this 
latter event, the king, despairing of being able to reduce the 
clan, had constituted the earl of Argyll king's lieutenant and 
justice in the whole bounds inhabited by the clan Gregor, and 
this appointment was the means of at length effecting the utter 

336 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

ruin of the tribe ; for that poUtic nobleman, instead of driving 
the Macgregors to desperation, determined to use them as tools 
for executing his own vengeance on any of the neighbouring 
families who had the misfortune to offend him. 

There seems little doubt that almost all the incursions of the 
clan after this period ma}- be traced to that earl as their cause. 
But when the conflict of Glenfruin drew the attention of govern- 
ment once more upon them, the earl deemed it time to sacrifice 
his unfortunate instruments to the laws of his country. The 
chief of the clan Gregor was at this time Alaster Macgregor, of 
Glenstray, and the earl of Argyll having inveigled him into his 
power by a promise that he would convey him in safety to 
England and plead his cause at court, proceeded with him as 
far as Berwick ; but having crossed the border, he declared that 
he had, to the letter, now fulfilled his promise, though not to 
the sense. He forthwith conve}'ed his victim back again to 
Edinburgh, and, after the form of a mock trial, had him hanged 
along with seven of his followers. But unfortunately for the 
fame of the earl, Macgregor had, before his death, made a 
declaration, which affords so curious an exposure of that 
nobleman's policy that we shall subjoin an extract from that 
document, as printed in Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, Vol. H., 
p. 435. "I, Alaster Macgregor, of Glenstray, confess heir before 
God, that I have been persudit, movit, and intycit, as I am now 
presently accusit and troublit for ; alse gif I had usit counsall or 
command of the man that has entysit me, I would have done 
and committit sindrie heich murthouris mair. For trewlie syn 
I wes first his majesties man, I could never be at ane else, by 
my Lord of Argylls falshete and inventiones, for he causit 
Macklaine and Clanhamrowne commit herschip and slaughter 
in my roum of Rannoche, the quhilk causit my pure men 
thereefter to begg and steill, also thereefter he movit my brother 
and some of my friendes to commit baith heirschip and slaughter 
upon the Laird of Lues ; also, he persuadit myself with message 
to weir againes the Laird of Boquhanene, whilk I did refuse, 
for the whilk I was contenuallie bostit that he would be my 
unfriend, and when I did refuse his desire in that point, then he 
entysit me with other messengeris, to weir and truble the Laird 
of Luss, quhilk I behuffit to do for his false boutgaittes ; then 


when he saw I was in ane strait, he causit me trow he was my 
gude friend, &c., but with fair wordes to put me in ane snare 
that he might get the land of Kintyre in feyell fra his majesty 
beganne to put at me and my kin. The quhilk Argyll inventit 
maist shamfullie, and persuadit the Laird of Ardkinglass to 
dissave me quha was the man I did maist traist into ; but God 
did releif me in the meantyme to libertie maist narrowlie, &c. 
I declare befoir God that he did all his craftie diligence to 
intyse me to slay and destroy the Laird of Ardinkaiple Mackally 
for ony ganes kyndness or friendship that he might do or give 
me. The quhilk I did refuse in respect of my faithful promise 
maid to Mackallay of befor ; also he did all the diligence he 
culd to move me to slay the Laird of Ardkinglass in like 
manner. Bot I never grantit thereto. Throw the quhilk he 
did envy me gretumly, &c., &c." 

The result of the representations which were made to the 
king -against the Macgregors on account of this conflict, were 
the acts of proscription. 

By an Act of the privy council, dated 3rd April, 1603, the 

name of Macgregor was expressly abolished, and those who 

had hitherto borne it were commanded to change it for other 

surnames, the paui of death being denounced against those who 

should call themselves Gregor or Macgregor, the names of their 

fathers. Under the same penalty, all who had been at the 

conflict of Glenfruin, or accessory to other marauding parties 

charged in the Act, were prohibited from carrying weapons, 

except a pointless knife to cut their victuals. By a subsequent 

Act of council, death was denounced against any persons of 

the tribe formerly called Macgregor, who should presume to 

assemble in greater numbers than four. And finally, by an 

Act of Parliament, 1607, c. 26, these laws were continued and 

extended to the rising generation, in respect that great numbers 

of the children of those against whom the Acts of privy council 

had been directed, were stated to be then approaching to 

maturity, who, if permitted to assume the name of their parents, 

would render the clan as strong as it was before. The execution 

of these severe and unjustifiable Acts having been committed 

principally to the earl of Argyll, with the assistance of the earl 

of Atholl in Perthshire, were enforced with unsparing rigour by 


338 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

that nobleman, whose interest it now was to exterminate the 
clan ; and on the part of the unfortunate Macgregors were 
resisted with the most determined courage, obtaining sometimes 
a transient advantage, and always selling their lives dearly. 

After the death of Alaster of Glenstray, that branch of the 
Macgregors remained nominall)' captains and chiefs of the clan, 
with little real power over the other houses of the clan, until 
the end of the seventeenth century, when they appear to have 
become extinct ; although when Montrose raised his Highland 
army greater part of the clan Gregor joined him under the 
command of Patrick Macgregor of Glenstray. The Brackly 
family, however, seem constantly to have asserted their right 
to the chiefship, and at length, when the clan obtained full 
redress from the British government, by an Act abolishing for 
e\"er the penal statutes which had so long been imposed upon 
this race, they entered into a deed recognizing John Murray of 
Lanrick, afterwards Sir John Macgregor, Baronet, representative 
of this family, as lawfully descended from the ancient stock 
and blood of the lairds and lords of Macgregor, and therefore 
acknowledged him as their chief This deed was subscribed 
by eight hundred and twenty -six persons of the name of 
Macgregor capable of bearing arms, and in this manner the 
descendant of the ancient chiefs of the clan again assumed the 
station at the head of the clan which his ancestors had pos- 
sessed, and to which he was entitled by the right of blood. 

Their claim, however, is opposed by the Glengyle family, to 
which branch belonged the celebrated freebooter, Rob Roy, 
whose deeds have been latel\' brought so conspicuously before 
the public. 


Argent, a sword in bend azure, and a fir tree eradicated in bend sinister 

proper ; in chief, a crown gules. 


Principal Scat. 

Oldest Cadet. 
The Macgregors of Glenstray were oldest cadets and captains for a 

period of two centuries. 


Sir Evan Macgregor Murray, Baronet. 

In 1745, 70D. 

Clan Grant. 

Nothing certain is known regarding the origin of the Grants. 
They have been said to be of Danish, EngHsh, French, Norman, 
and of GaeHc extraction ; but each of these suppositions 
depends for support upon conjecture alone, and amidst so 
many conflicting opinions it is difficult to 'fix upon the most 
probable. It is maintained by the supporters of their Gaelic 
origin, that the}' are a branch of the Macgregors, and in this 
opinion they are certainly borne out b\- the ancient and un- 
varying tradition of the country ; for their Norman origin, I 
have upon examination entirely failed in discovering any 
further reason than that their name may be derived from the 
French, grand or great, and that the}' occasionally use the 
Norman form of de Grant. The latter reason, ho\ve\-er, is not 
of any force, for it is impossible to trace an instance of their 
using the form de Grant until the fifteenth century ; on the 
contrary, the form is invariably Grant or le Grant, and on the 
very first appearance of the family it is " dictus Grant." It is 
certainl}' not a territorial name, for there was no ancient pro- 
perty of that name, and the peculiar form under which it 
invariabl}' appears in the earlier generations, proves that the 
name is derived from a personal epithet. It so happens, how- 
ever, that there was no epithet so common among the Gael as 
that of Grant, as a perusal of the Irish annals will evince ; and 
at the same time Ragman's Roll shews that the Highland 
epithets always appear among the Norman signatures with the 
Norman " le " prefixed to them. The clan themselves unani- 
mously assert their descent from Gregor Mor Macgregor, who 
lived in the twelfth century ; and this is supported by their 
using to this da}' the same badge of distinction. So strong is 
this belief in both the clans of Grant and Macgregor, that in 
the early part of the last century a meeting of the two was held 
in the Blair of Atholl, to consider the polic}' of re-uniting them. 

340 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Upon this point all agreed, and also that the common surname 
should be Macgregor, if the reversal of the attainder of that 
name could be got from government. If that could not be 
obtained it was agreed that either Mac Alpine or Grant should 
be substituted. This assembl}' of the clan Alpine lasted for 
fourteen days, and was onl\- rendered abortive b)- disputes as 
to the chieftainship of the combined clan. Here, then, is as 
strong an attestation of a tradition as it is possible to conceive, 
and when to this is added the utter absence of the name in the 
old Norman rolls, the onh- trustworth\' mark of a Norman 
descent, we are warranted in placing the Grants among the 
Siol Alpine. 

The first of this family who appear on record are Domini 
Laurentius et Robertus dicti Grant, who are witnesses to an 
agreement between Archibald, Bishop of Moray, and John Bisset, 
dated in September, 1258, and they are said to have been the sons 
of Gregor}' de Grant, who acquired the lands of Stratherrick by 
marriage with a Bisset. This is so far borne out, that there 
is reason to think that Stratherrick was the earliest possession 
which the Grants had, and remained for some time in the 
family, while we find in Alexander the Third's reign a charter 
to Walter Bisset of Stratherrick. By this marriage the Grants 
at once took their place as barons of considerable power, and 
accordingly we find Laurence Grant bearing the high office of 
sheriff of Inverness in the reign of Alexander HI., and taking 
a leading part in the transactions of that period. Laurence 
still further increased the possessions of the family by marrying 
the daughter and heiress of the baron of Glencharn}', in Strath- 
spey, and obtained, in consequence, an extensive tract of country 
on the north side of the Spe\'. From this period the family 
took the name of Glencharn\- ; and it seemed as if the famil\- 
were to owe their whole advancement to their fortunate 
marriages, for Laurence's son and successor, Gilbert de Glen- 
charny, added to his other possessions a considerable extent 
of propert}- in the counties of I^lgin and Banff, b\- marriage 
with Margaret Wiseman, heiress of the Wisemans of Molben. 
Gilbert had but one son, of the same name. b\- whose death 
without issue these properties came to his sister Christina, with 
the e.xception of Stratherrick, which descended to the male 


heir/ Malcolm le Grant, probably a descendaiit of Robert, the 
younger son of Gregory the Grant. Christina had married 
Duncan Fraser, a cadet of the house of Lovat, aftd Fraser, 
finding that a peaceable possession of these properties in the 
midst of the clan Grant and at a distance from his own chief, 
was not to be expected, exchanged the properties in Strathspe}' 
with JVIalcolm Grant for that of Stratherrick, which its vicinity 
to Lovat rendered the more desirable possession for a Fraser. 
In this manner the greater part of Strathspey remained in the 
possession of the chief of the Grants, while their original pro- 
perty went into the family of the Frasers. 

After Malcolm we know little of the Grants, until we find 
Duncan Grant de eodem at the head of the clan in the middle 
of the fifteenth century, and from this period the\- began gradu- 
ally to increase in extent of pos.sessions and of power, until 
they rose to be a clan of no ordinary importance. 

At different periods they acquired Glenmorison, Glenurchart, 

and man}' other estates, and continued in the ranks of the 

principal clans, until at length the extinction of the noble 

family of Finlater added the peerage of Seafield to their former 


Gules, three antique crowns, or. 

Cranberry heath. 

Principal Seat. 


Oldest Cadet. 

The Sliochd Phadrick, or Grants of Tullochgorum, appear to 

have been oldest cadets. 

Grant of Grant, now Earl of Seafield. 

In 1715, 800. In 1745, S50. 

Clan Fingon. 

Of the history of this clan but little is known ; having 
settled at a very early period in the island of Sky, they 
became followers of the lords of the Isles, in whose history 

' Eobertson's Index. 

342 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

the}- are very often mentioned, but they do not appear to 
have been engaged in man}- transactions by which their name 
is separately brought forward as a clan. Although so great 
a distance intervened between the country of the Macgregors 
and that of this famih', the}- are unquestionably a branch of 
the former clan. In the MS. of 1450 they are brought from 
Finguine, a brother of Anrias or Andrew, who appears in the 
Macgregor genealog}^ about the year 1130. This connexion 
is farther proved by a bond of friendship entered into between 
Lauchlan Mackinnon, of Strathardill, and James Macgregor, of 
Macgregor, in 1671, in which bond, "for the special love and 
amitie between these persons, and condescending that they are 
descended lawfully /"rr? twa breetJiern of an Id descent, quhairfore 
and for certain onerous causes moving, we witt ye we to be 
bound and obleisit, likeas be the tenor hereof we faithfully bind 
and obleise us and our successors, our kin friends and followers, 
faithfully to serve ane anither in all causes with our men and 
servants, against all wha live or die." 

In consequence of their connexion with the Macdonalds, 
the Mackinnons have no history independent of that clan, and 
the internal state of these tribes during the government of the 
lords of the Isles is so obscure that little can be learned regard- 
ing them, until the forfeiture of the last of these lords. During 
their dependence upon the Macdonalds there is but one event 
of any importance in which we find the Mackinnons taking a 
share, for it would appear that on the death of John of the 
Isles, in the fourteenth century, Mackinnon, with what object 
it is impossible now to ascertain, stirred up his second son, 
John Mor, to rebel against his eldest brother, apparently with 
a view to the chiefship, and his faction was joined by the 
Macleans and the Macleods. But Donald, the elder brother 
was supported by so great a proportion of the tribe, that he 
drove John Mor and his party out of the Isles, and pursued 
him to Galloway, and from thence to Ireland. 

The rebellion being thus put down, John Mor threw himself 
upon his brother's mercy, and received his pardon, but Mac- 
kinnon was taken and hanged, as having been the instigator 
of the disturbance. 

On the forfeiture of the last lord, Mackinnon became inde- 


pendent, but his clan was so small that he never attained any 
very great power in consequence. In the disturbances in the 
Isles which continued during the following century, the name 
of Sir Lauchlan Mackinnon occurs v'ery frequently, and he 
appears, notwithstanding the small extent of his possessions, 
to have been a man of some consideration in his time. From 
this period they remained in the condition of the minor clans 
in the Highlands, and with them took a part in all the political 
events in which these clans were engaged. 

Clan An Aba. 

The Macnabs have been said by some to have been 
Macdonalds, by others, Macgregors ; but there exists a bond 
of Man rent, dated 1606, which proves them to have been a 
branch of the Mackinnons, and consequently of the Siol 
Alpine. This bond was entered into between Lachlan Mac- 
kinnon, of Strathardel, and Finlay Macnab, of Bowaine, and 
narrates that " happening to foregadder togedder with certain 
of the said Finlay's friends in their rooms, in the Laird of 
Glenurchay's country, and the said Lauchlan and Finlay 
having come of one house and being of one surnianie and 
lineage, notwithstanding the said Lauchlan and Finlay this 
long time bygone oversaw their awn duties till uders in 
respect of the long distance and betwixt their dwelling places, 
quhairfore baith the saids now and in all time coming are 
content to be bound and obleisit, with consent of their kyn 
and friends, to do all sted, pleasure, assistance, and service 
that lies in them ilk ane to uthers : TJie said Finlay acknozv- 
ledging the said Lanchlan as ane kind chief, and of a)ie house : 
and likelike the said Lauchlan to acknowledge the said Finlay 
Macnab, his friend, as his special kynsman and friend." 

This account of their origin is fully confirmed by the MS. 
of 1450. 

The Macnabs originally possessed considerable territories 
lying west of Loch Tay, but having followed Lorn in the 
opposition which he made to the Bruce, and having taken a 
conspicuous part in that struggle, their possessions were, on 
the accession of that monarch, restricted to the barony of 

344 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Eowain, in Glendochard, to which they have a charter as early 
as 1536. 

The Macnabs remained for a long time an independent 
clan in the heart of the possessions of the Campbells, and 
adopted a different line of politics from these great lords. 
The line of their chiefs, however, has at length become extinct, 
and their property is now in possession of the Braedalbanc 

Clan Diiffie. 

The Macduffies or Macphees are the most ancient inhabi- 
tants of Colonsay, and their genealogy, which is preserved in 
the manuscript of 1450, evinces their connexion by descent 
with the Macgregors and Mackinnons, among whom accordingly 
they have been placed. Of their early history nothing is 
known, and the only notice regarding their chiefs at that 
period, is one which strongly confirms the genealogy contained 
in the AIS. On the south side of the church of St. Columba, 
according to Martin, lie the tombs of Macduffie, and of the 
cadets of his family ; there is a ship under sail and a two- 
handed sword engraven on the principal tombstone, along with 
this inscription— 

"Hie lacet Malcolumbus Macduffie de Colonsay." 

And in the genealogy the name of Malcolm occurs at a period 
which corresponds with the supposed date of the tombstone. 
The Macduffies certainly remained in possession of Colonsay 
as late as the middle of the seventeenth century, for we find 
them mentioned on several occasions during the troubles of 
that period ; but they appear at that time to have been nearly 
exterminated, as we find in the criminal records for 1623, 
Coil Mac Gillespie Macdonald, in Colonsay (afterwards the 
celebrated Collkitto), was " delaitit of airt and pairt of the 
felonie and cruell slaughter of Umquhill Malcolm Macphie 
of Colonsay," with others of his clan. From this period their 
estate seems to have gone into the possession of the Macdonalds, 
and afterwards of the Macneills, by whom it is still held ; 
while the clan gradually sunk until they were only to be 
found, as at present, forming a small part of the inhabitants 
of Colonsay. 

CHAP. VIII] O F S C O T L A N D 345 

Clan Quarrie. 

The IMacquarries first appear in possession of the island 
of Ulva and part of Mull, and like the Mackinnons, their 
situation forced them, at a very early period, to become 
dependent upon the Macdonalds. But their descent from the 
clan Alpine, which has constantly been asserted by tradition, 
is established by the manuscript 1450, which deduces their 
origin from Guaire or Godfrey, a brother of Fingon, ancestor 
of the Mackinnons, and Anrias or Andrew, ancestor of the 
Macgregors. The history of the Macquarries resembles that 
of the Mackinnons in many respects ; like them they had 
migrated far from the headquarters of their race, they became 
dependent upon the lords of the Isles, and followed them as 
if they had been a branch of the clan. 

On the forfeiture of the last lord of the Isles, they became, 
like the Mackinnons, in a manner independent, and although 
surrounded by various powerful clans, they maintained their 
station, which was that of a minor clan, without apparently 
undergoing any alteration ; and survived many of the revo- 
lutions of fortune to which the greater clans were exposed in 
the same station, bearing among the other clans the character 
of great antiquity, and of having once been greater than they 
now were. 

Clan Aula. 

The Macaulays, of Ardincaple, have for a long period been 
considered as deriving their origin from the ancient earls of 
Lennox, and it has generally been assumed, without investiga- 
tion, that their ancestor was Aulay, son of Aulay, who appears 
in Ragman Roll, and whose father, Aulay, was brother of 
Maldowan, earl of Lennox. Plausible as this derivation may 
appear, there are yet two circumstances which render it 
impossible, and establish the derivation of the clan to have 
been very different. 

In the first place, it is now ascertained that these Aulays 
were of the family of de Fasselane, who afterwards succeeded 
to the earldom, and among the numerous deeds relating to 
this family in the Lennox chartulary, there is no mention of 
any other son of Aulay's than Duncan de Fasselane, who 

346 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

succeeded to the earldom and left no male issue. Secondly, 
there exists a bond of friendship entered into between 
Macgregor of Glenstray and Macaulay of Ardincaple, upon 
the 27th May, 1591, in which the latter owns his being a 
cadet of the house of the former, and promises to pay him 
the " Calp." There can be no doubt, therefore, that the 
Macaula}'s were a branch of the clan Alpine, and the mistake 
as to their origin has probably arisen from the similarity of 
name, and from their situation necessarily making them, for 
the time, followers of the earl of Lennox. 

The Alacaulays appear to have settled, at a very early 
period, in the Lennox, and the first chiefs who are mentioned 
in the Lennox chartulary are designed " de Ardincapill." 
Their connexion with the Macgregors led them to take some 
part in the feuds that unfortunate race were at all times 
engaged in, but the protection of the earls of Lennox seems 
to have relieved the :\Iacaulays from the consequences which 
fell so heavily upon the Macgregors. The Macaulays never 
rose above the rank of a minor clan, and like many others 
in a similar situation, they have latterly become extinct. 

ciiAr. IX] OF SCOTLAND 347 

I\'.— Garmoran. 

In the oldest list of the Scottish earldoms which has been 
preserved, appears the name of Garmoran. There was after- 
wards a lordship of Garmoran, consisting of the districts of 
Knoydart, Morer, Arisaig, and Moydart ; and the situation of 
this lordship indicates the position of the earldom to have 
been between north and south Argyll, including, besides the 
lordship of the same name, the districts of Glenelg, Ardna- 
murchan, and Morvern. 

At no period embraced by the records do we discover 
Garmoran as an efficient earldom ; but as the polity of 
earldoms was introduced by Edgar, its appearance in the old 
lists proves that it lasted in the possession of its native earls 
till after his reign. The grant by Alexander III. of a great 
part of the earldom as a lordship of the same name, likewise 
proves that it must have been for some time in the crown. 

In consequence of a singular mistake of our earlier historians, 
the existence of this earldom has been entirely forgotten, and 
its history merged in that of another earldom, of nearly the 
same name. Garmoran is known to the Highlanders by the 
name of Garbhcriochan, or the rough bounds. The identity 
of the first syllables of the two names shews that the name 
of Garmoran is descriptive of the district, and that it is properly 
Moran, with the prefixed qualification of garbh or rough. Now 
it is remarkable, that there is a Lowland earldom bearing the 
same nam.e, without the prefixed qualification of Rough, for 
the old name of the Merns is Moerne. The name is certainly 
descriptive of the situation of the earldom, and must have been 
imposed at a very early period ; but it is singular, that with 
reference to the Pictish nation, the original inhabitants of both, 

34^ THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

their j^osition is identic, for the Merns bears exactly the same 
position towards the southern Picts, forming a sort of wedge- 
like termination to their territories, which Garmoran does to 
the northern Picts. There can therefore be little doubt of the 
absolute identity of the names of these two earldoms. ^ 

The people and earls of Moerne are frequently mentioned 
in the older chronicles, principally as rebelling, along with the 
Moravians, against the government. It has invariably been 
assumed that Moerne here implies the Lowland Merns, but the 
constant and close connexion between the people of Moerne 
and the Moravians in the history of the Scottish rebellions has 
been remarked by historians as singular and inexplicable. 

If, by the Moerne, the Northern earldom is meant, which 
is adjacent to Moray, the connexion is natural, but it is 
impossible to account either for the language of the chronicles, 
or for the circumstances themselves, if it is to be understood 
of the Lowland Merns. 

This will appear more clearl)' from a review of the particular 
instances in which the name occurs. Moerne is mentioned in 
ancient chronicles four times : — 

I. In A.D. 950, Malcolm, king of Scotland, went into Moray, 
and slew Cellach, and shortly afterwards he is slain by the 
Viri na Moerne, or Men of the Moerne in Fodresach. Cellach 
we can prove to have been Maormor of neither Moray nor 
Ross. He must have been of some neighbouring Maormorship. 
If Moerne is Moran in the north, the transaction is natural ; 
the king slew their chief, and was slain by them in Forres. If 
the Merns, we neither know why the first event should have 
been mentioned or the second taken place. Moreover, another 
authority says he was slain by the Moravians at Ulurn. Ulurn 
was near P^orres. We see how the Moravians might have been 
mistaken for the people of Garmoran — not for the Merns — or 
how the people of the Merns should have been in Moray. 

II. Duncan, king of Scotland, is slain A.D. 1094 by Malpeder 
]\Iacloen, Comite de Moerne. This, however, could not have 
been the Southern Merns, because we have strong reason to 

' In the red book of Clanranald, tlie to the districts forming the eirldom 
name Morshron, pronounced Moran, of Garmoran. 
and signifying '• great nose," is applied 


think that until tiie reign of Edgar some time after, the Merns 
formed a part of the Maormorship of Angus. The older 
historians all agree that Merns was originally a part of Angus 
and it certainly was so in the tenth century, for when Kenneth, 
the third king of Scotland, was slain by the daughter of the 
earl of Angus, the scene of his slaughter is placed by the old 
chronicles in Fettercairn in the Merns. The ancient dioceses 
of the Culdee church, however, afford the most certain infor- 
mation as to the number and extent of the Maormorships 
previous to the reign of Edgar, and they place the matter 
beyond a doubt, for the diocese of Brechin unquestionably 
included the Merns along with Angus, and prove that it must 
have formed a part of the Maormorship of Angus until the 
reign of Edgar. If the earl who slew king Duncan was earl 
of Garmoran, the event is more intelligible, for he did so for 
the purpose of placing Donald Bane on the throne ; and 
Donald, we know, received the principal support from the 
Celtic inhabitants of the west. 

III. Alexander I. in his palace at Invergowry is attacked 
by the " Satellites " of Moerne and Moraj^ He drives them 
across the Month — across the Spey and over " the Stockfurd 
into Ros." 

" And tuk and slew thame or he past 

Out of that land, that fewe he left 

To tak on hand swylk purpose eft." 

The conne.Kion between Moray and Garmoran is intelligible 
— not so if this was Merns ; for it is quite impossible to account 
for the people of the Merns taking refuge in Ross, when the 
Grampians would afford them a securer retreat in their own 
neighbourhood. The language of Winton, however, is quite 
inconsistent with the supposition that the Southern Merns is 
here meant ; if by this, the Northern ]\Ioerne or Garmoran is 
here meant, it agrees with our previous deduction, that the 
earldom must have been forfeited after the reign of Edgar. 

It is thus plain that these transactions are connected with 
the Northern Moran only, and we trace from , them three of 
the old earls of Garmoran. 

1. Cellach, slain by Malcolm, king of Scotland, A.D. 950. 

2. Cellach, who appears in the Sagas under the name of 

350 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Gilli ; he lived A.D. 990 — 10 14, and was certainly Maormor of 
this district. 

3. Malpeder Alacleon, forfeited by Alexander I. 
The earldom of Garmoran remained in the crown until the 
reign of Alexander HI., with the exception of Glenelg, which 
had been given to the Bissets, A.D. 1160, and the support of 
the great chiefs of the Macdonalds at the convention of 1283 
was purchased by the grant of Ardnamurchan to Angus More 
of the Isles, and of the remaining part of the earldom to 
Allan Mac Rory, lord of the Isles, under the name of the 
Lordship of Garmoran. 

The ancient inhabitants of the earldom can, however, be 
traced b\- the assistance of the old manuscript genealogies 
The various clans are, as we have seen by these genealogies 
divided into five tribes, of which four can be identified with the 
tribes of the Gallgael, Moray, Ross, and Ness. The fifth 
consists of the ]\Iacleods and the Campbells, who are, by the 
oldest genealogies, deduced from a common ancestor. These 
two clans must have taken their descent from some of the 
ancient tribes, and we ought to find in their early history traces 
of a connexion with the earldom from which the\- proceed. 
The earliest charter which the Macleods possess is one from 
David II. to Malcolm, the son of Tormad Macleod, of two- 
thirds of Glenelg. He could not have acquired this by a 
marriage connection, and as these two-thirds came to the 
crown b}' forfeiture of the Bissets, it bears a strong resemblance 
to a vassal receiving his first right from the crown, and conse- 
quently an old possessor. Glenelg, however, was in Garmoran, 
and the connection of the Macleods with this earldom is strongly 
corroborated by the fact that in their oldest genealogy occur 
two Cellachs, grandfather and grandson, exactly contemporary 
with the two earls of Garmoran of that name. 

The Campbells are not old in Argyll proper, or the sheriff- 
dom of Argyll ; it was, we know, the peculiar property of 
Somerled II., and we have distinct authority for its being 
planted uith strangers. Campbell's ancestor was made sheriff 
by Alexander II.; his successor adhered to government, and 
received many grants of land in the sheriffdom, so that we 
should expect to find traces of his original property in the 


possession of cadets, who came off before his acquisition of 
property in Argyll. 

Allan Mac Rory obtained a grant of the lordship of Garmoran 
about 1275 ; his feudal heir was his daughter Christina, and 
her first act of possession is a charter Arthuro Campbell filio 
Domini Arthuro Campbell militis de terris de Muddeward 
Ariseg et Mordower et insulis de Egge et Rumme et pertineri. 

Christina was never in actual though in feudal possession of 
the lordship, for though vera h^eres, her nephew Ronald ^ was 
verus dominus, this is therefore apparently a feudal right given 
to an old possessor, otherwise we do not see its object. 

Thus, when we find from the manuscript genealogies that 
the Macleods and Campbells were branches of the same ancient 
tribe, and when we find that the oldest notices of each tribe 
separately, connect them with the district of Garmoran, there 
can be little doubt that these two clans are the remaining 
descendants of the ancient inhabitants of that district. 

Clan Leod. 

There are few clans whose Norwegian origin has been more 
strenuously asserted or more generally believed than that of the 
Macleods, and }-et, for that origin there is not the vestige of 
authority. In this matter it is usual to find the chronicle of 
Man referred to as expressh^ sanctioning the assertion, and this 
reference has been again and again repeated, but notwith- 
standing the confidence with which this chronicle has been 
quoted as authorit)-, it is a singular circumstance that that 
record is nevertheless destitute of the slightest hint of any such 
origin, or even of an\- passage which could be assumed as a 
eround for such an idea. Neither does the tradition of Nor- 
wegian descent, if such a tradition ever did exist, appear to be 
very old, for in a manuscript genealog}' of the Macleods, 
written in the latter part of the sixteenth centur\-, there is not 
a trace ol such a descent, but, on the contrary, as we have seen, 
they are deduced from one common ancestor with the Camp- 
bells, and were certainly a part of the ancient inhabitants of 
the earldom of Garmoran. 

' Ronald and Christina are so styled in a charter in the Inchaffray Chartulary. 


From the earliest period in which the Macleods are men- 
tioned in history, they have been divided into two great families 
of Macleod of Glenelg, or Harris, and Macleod of Lewis, and 
these families have for a considerable period disputed as to 
which of them the right of chief belongs. As occurs in the 
somewhat parallel case of the Macneils, this dispute appears to 
have arisen from the possessions of the Macleods having 
necessarily been so little connected together, and from both 
families being nearly of equal power and consequence ; but 
from the few data which have remained to guide us on this 
point there seems ever\' reason to think, that Macleod of Glen- 
elg, or Harris, was of old the proper chief of the clan. Macleod 
of Harris was originall}- invariabl}- designated " de Glenelg 
and Glenelg was certainly the first and chief possession of the 
clan. In various charters of the fifteenth century, to which the 
heads of both families happen to be witnesses, IMacleod de 
Glenelg alwa\'s appears before that of Macleod of Lewis, and 
finally the possessions of the Lewis famih' formed no part of 
the original possessions of the clan, for the first charter of the 
famil}' of Lewis is one by king David II., to Torquil Macleod 
of the baron}' of Assint. And it is certain that Torquil 
obtained this baron\- b}- marriage with Margaret Macnicol, the 
heiress of the lands, and in that charter he is not designated 
" de Lewis," nor has he any dcsig)iatio)i zvhatever. These facts 
seem conclusive that the claim of Macleod of Harris to be chief 
of the clan is well founded, and that the marriage of a younger 
son of that family with the heiress of Assgut and Lewis gave 
rise to the family of ]\Iacleods of Lewis, who were the oldest 
cadets of the clan, and who soon came to rival the family of 
the chief in power and extent of territory. 

The original possessions of the Macleods then appears to 
have been Glenelg, of which district King David II. grants a 
charter to Malcolm, the son of Tormod Macleod, and the 
reddendo of the charter is to keep a galle\- with thirt\--six oars 
for the use of the king. The Macleods are said to have 
acquired the extensive lands in Sk\-, which they still hold, by 
marriage with the daughter of Macraild, or Macarailt, one of 
the Norwegian nobles of the Isles ; and from this connexion, 
and the succession which was obtained by it, arose probabl\- 


the tradition of their being descended from the Norwegian 
kines of the Isles. Malcolm was succeeded b\' his son 
William, who, although from his having been a younger son, 
he had been brought up for the church, appears to have 
involved himself in nnmberless feuds with the neighbouring 
clans, and to have become one of the most noted and daring 
of the restless chiefs of that period. 

Among the first of his plundering incursions he ravaged the 
estates of Lovat in the Aird, in order to avenge an insult which 
he had received in that country in his youth. He afterwards on 
some occasion called down upon himself the resentment of the 
lord of the Isles, who invaded his estates with a considerable 
body of Macdonalds ; William Macleod, however, possessed no 
small portion of military skill, and having a perfect knowledge 
of the country, he succeeded in surprising the Macdonalds at a 
place called Lochsligichan, where he defeated them with great 
slaughter. But notwithstanding this feud with the Macdonalds, 
John Macleod, his successor, is said to have followed the banner 
of Donald of the Isles in his invasion of Scotland in 1411, and 
to have taken a part in the battle of Harlaw. 

From the accession of the Macdonalds to the earldom of 
Ross, the Macleods seem to have acknowledged them as their 
lords, and to have followed them on all occasions. On the 
unfortunate dissension occurring between John, the last lord of 
the Isles, and hi.*? son Angus Ogg, when both parties at length 
took to arms, the one to reduce a rebellious son, and the other 
to depose a person whom he considered incapable of governing 
his extensive territories, Macleod of Glenelg embraced the 
cause of the injured father, and took an active share in the 
civil war which thus divided the Macdonalds and finally caused 
their ruin. He was present at the battle of the Bloody Bay 
and lost his life in that unnatural engagement. 

On the forfeiture of the last lord, the Macleods, as well as 
the other clans connected with the Macdonalds, assumed inde- 
pendence, and in consequence Alexander Macleod received 
from king James IV. a crown charter of all his lands, which 
included those of Harris and his extensive possessions in Sky ; 
which charter narrates that these lands were held of the 

earls of Ross and lords of the Isles before their forfeiture, 


354 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

but were now to be held of the crown upon condition of holding 
in readiness one ship of twenty-six oars, and two of sixteen, for 
the king's service when required. After this period, the Mac- 
leods, like the other clans who had formerly been dependent 
upon the Macdonalds, appear to have become involved in a 
succession of feuds with the remaining branches of that great 
but now reduced clan, and these feuds seem to have been 
prosecuted with all the bitterness and barbarit}^ of the age. 
The Macleods took an active share in the conflicts and 
mutual injuries inflicted upon each other in the contest between 
the Macleans and the Macdonalds of Isla, towards the end of 
the sixteenth century, and by means of their support were 
mainly instrumental in causing the success of the former, and 
consequent ruin of the latter. But the most barbarous perhaps 
of any of these feuds was that carried on between the Macleods 
themselves and the clan Ranald. 

The Macleods had long been in a state of irritation against 
the latter, in consequence of the bad treatment which a daughter 
of Macleod of Glenelg had some time before experienced from 
her husband, the captain of clan Ranald, and they only waited 
for a fitting occasion to satisfy their vengeance on that ground. 
Towards the close of the sixteenth century an opportunity 
presented itself, when a small party of Macleods having acci- 
dentall}' landed on the island of Egg, they were at first received 
with hospitality, but having been guilty of some incivilities to 
the young women of the island, the inhabitants resented it so 
far as to bind them hand and foot and turn them adrift in 
their boat to perish if assistance did not reach them ; they 
had the good fortune, however, to be met by a boat of their 
own clansmen, and brought to Dunbegan, where they gave 
an account of the treatment they had met with. Macleod 
eagerly availed himself of the opportunity of executing his 
long meditated revenge on the clan Ranald, and having 
manned his galleys, set sail for the island of Egg. When 
the inhabitants became aware of his approach, and feeling 
conscious of their inability to offer any effectual resistance 
against the force that threatened them, they took refuge, along 
with their wives and families, to the amount of two hundred, 
in a large cave, the situation and difficult discovery of which 


rendered it admirably adapted for concealment. Here for two 
days they succeeded in eluding the search of the Macleods, 
which was pursued with ineffectual industry, until at length 
their retreat was discovered in consequence of their impatience 
having led them to send forth a scout ; when they refused to 
surrender themselves to the pleasure of the Macleod, he caused 
the stream of water which fell over the entrance of the cave 
to be turned aside ; and having caused all the combustibles 
to be found on the island, had them piled up against the 
entrance, and so furious a fire maintained for many hours 
that every creature within was suffocated ; thus, at one blow, 
exterminating the entire population of the island. This atrocity 
was one of the worst instances arising out of the feuds which 
at that period distracted the whole Highlands, and by which 
one family rose upon the ruins of another. 

The possessions and power of the Macleods appear to have 
been very much increased by Sir Rorie More Macleod, and it 
was during his life that the rival family of Lewis became 
extinct, — a circumstance which, as it removed the division and 
disagreement hitherto existing in the clan, also tended to render 
the family of still greater influence. During the civil wars of 
the seventeenth century, the Macleods joined the royal army 
with seven hundred men, and took an active share in all the 
campaigns of that period ; but when the clans again took arms 
in support of the cause of that family, the Macleods were 
induced, by the persuasion and active urgency of the Laird of 
Culloden, to abstain from taking any share in that insurrection, 
and while their presence would not probably have altered the 
ultimate result, they thereby escaped the numerous forfeitures 
of the period. 

Az. a castle triple towered and embattled, or, masoned sa. windows 

and port, gu. 

Red whortle-berries. 

Principal Seat. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Macleod of Lewis, now represented by Macleod of Rasay. 

356 THE H I G H L A \ D E R S [part ii 

Macleod of Macleod. 

In 1704, 700. In 1715, 1000. In 1745, 7°o- 

Clan Cauipbell. 

To the Campbells a Norman origin has been x^xy generally 
ascribed, and this numerous clan, who, although their possessions 
in Argyllshire were at first small, rapidly rose to considerable 
eminence, seems of late to have been tacitly surrendered by the 
supporters of the Celtic race to their antagonists, the admirers 
of William the Norman's motle\- band, }'et no clan do these 
southern antiquaries claim more unjustly. Their claim is 
principally founded upon the assumption that the name 
Campbell is a mere corruption of that of de Campo Bello, 
which the}- assert to have been a Norman famil\-. Now to 
this the answer is easy, for there never was a Norman family 
of the name of Campo Rello. Battel Abbe\' and other Rolls, 
Doomsday Book, and similar records, are equally silent about 
them, while the farther back we trace the spelling of the Scotch 
name, the more unlike does it become to his supposed Campo 
Bello, the oldest spelling of it, that in Ragman Roll, being 
Cambel or Kambel. There is thus no authority whatever for 
their Norman descent ; and while the most ancient manuscript 
genealogies attest their Gaelic origin, the histor\- of the earldom 
of Garmoran proves, as we have seen, that the}' formed a part 
of the ancient inhabitants of that district. There is one feature, 
however, in the tale of their Norman descent which deserves 
attention. \\'hile the}- say that their ancestor was a Norman 
de Campo Bello, the}- add that he acquired his Argyllshire 
propert}- by marriage with the daughter and heiress of Paul 
O'Duin, lord of Lochow. This stor}- is so exactly similar to 
those in the other clans, where the oldest cadet had usurped 
the chiefship, that it leads to the suspicion that the same 
circumstance must have given rise to it among the Campbells. 
We have shewn it to be invariabl}- the case, that when a clan 
claims a foreign origin, and accounts for their possession of the 
chiefship and propert}- of the clan b}- a marriage with the 


heiress of the old proprietors, they can be proved to be in 
reality a cadet of that older house who had usurped the chief- 
ship, while their claim to the chiefship is disputed by an 
acknowledfjed descendant of that older house. To this rule 
the Campbells are no exceptions, for while the tale upon which 
they found a Norman descent is exactly parallel to those of the 
other clans in the same situation, the most ancient manuscript 
genealogies deduce them in the male line from that very family 
of O'Duin, whose heiress they are said to have married, and 
the Macarthur Campbells, of Strachur, the acknowledged 
descendants of the older house, have at all times disputed the 
chiefship with the Argyll famil}'. Judging from analogy, we 
are compelled to admit that the Campbells of Strachur must 
formerly have been chiefs of the clan, and that the usual 
causes in such cases have operated to reduce the Strachur 
family, and to place that of Argyll in that situation, and this 
is confirmed by the early history of the clan. 

The first appearance of the Campbells is in the reign of 
Alexander III., and we find them at that time divided into 
two great families, afterwards distinguished by the patronymics 
of Mac Arthur and Mac Cailinmor. 

The first notice of the Mac Cailinmor branch is Gillespie 
Cambel, who witnesses the charter of erection of the Burgh 
of Newburgh by Alexander III. in 1266, and there is the 
strongest reason to think that he was heritable sheriff of the 
sheriffdom of Argyll, which had been erected by Alexander II. 
in 1 22 1. It is certain, however, that until the reign of Robert 
the Bruce, the Campbells did not possess an heritable right to 
any property in Argyllshire. The situation of the Mac Arthur 
branch at this time was very different, for we find them in 
possession of a very extensive territory in the earldom of 
Garmoran, the original seat of the Campbells. It is therefore 
impossible to doubt that Mac Arthur was at this time at the 
head of the clan, and this position he appears to have main- 
tained until the reign of James I. Arthur Campbell of this 
branch embraced the cause of Robert the Bruce, as well as 
Sir Neil Campbell, the son of Colinmore, and appears to have 
been as liberally rewarded by that monarch with the forfeited 
lands of his opponents. He obtained the keeping of the 

358 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Castle of Dunstaffnage, with a considerable part of the forfeited 
territor}^ of Lorn, and his descendants added Strachur in Cowall, 
and a considerable part of Glendochart and Glenfalloch, to 
their former possessions. In the reign of Davdd II. the Mac 
Cailinmor branch, who since the marriage of Sir Neil with the 
sister of Robert Bruce had been rapidly increasing in power 
and extent of territory, appear to have taken the first steps 
towards placing themselves at the head of the clan, but were 
successfull}' resisted b}- Mac Arthur, who obtained a charter, 
Arthuro Campbell quod nulli subjicitur pro terris nisi regi ; 
and the Mac Arthurs appear to have maintained this station 
until the reign of James I., when the}' were doomed to incur 
that powerful monarch's resentment, and to be in consequence 
so effectuall)- crushed as to offer no further resistance to the 
encroaching power of Mac Cailinmor. 

When James I. summoned his parliament at Inverness for 
the purpose of entrapping the Highland chiefs, John Mac 
Arthur was one of those who fell into the snare, and he seems 
to have been among the few especially devoted to destruction, 
for he was beheaded along with Alexander, the lord of Gar- 
moran, and his whole property forfeited, with the exception 
of Strachur and some lands in Perthshire, which remained to 
his descendants. His position at the head of the clan is 
sufficiently pointed out b\' Bower, who calls him '' pHnceps 
iiiagtms apud suos et dux mille hominum," but from this period 
the Mac Cailinmore branch were unquestionably at the head 
of the clan, and their elevation to the peerage, which took 
place but a few years after, placed them above the reach of 
dispute from an}- of the other branches of the clan. The 
Strachur famil}-, in the meantime, remained in the situation 
of one of the principal of the Ceann Tighe, preserving an 
unavailing claim to the position of which the}' had been 
deprived. After this period the rise of the Argyll family to 
power and influence was rapid, and the encroachments which 
had commenced with the branches of their own clan soon 
involved most of the clans in their neighbourhood ; and their 
history is most remarkable from their extraordinary progress 
from a station of comparative inferiority to one of unusual 
eminence, as well as from the constant and steady adherence 


of all the barons of that house to the same deep system of 
designing pohcy by which they attained their greatness. 

It would be inconsistent with the limits of this work to 
follow the history of this family farther, and the omission is 
of the less importance, as during the early part their history 
is identic with that of all the other Highland clans of no 
great notoriety ; while in the later part, when they began 
to rise upon the ruins of the great families of the Isles, it 
becomes in some degree the same with that of the Highlanders 
generally, and consists principally of the details of a policy 
characterised by cunning and perfidy, although deep and far- 
sighted, and which obtained its usual success in the acquisition 
of great temporal grandeur and power. 

Gyronne of eight, or, and sable. 


Principal Seat. 

Originally the lordship of Garmoran, afterwards Lochow. 

Oldest Cadet. 

Maccailinmore, or Campbell of Lochow, now Duke of Argyll, was oldest 

cadet, but has been at the head of the clan since 1427. 

Previous to 1427, MaCarthur Campbell of Strachur. 

In 1427, 1000. In 1715,4000. In 1745, 5000. 

v.— Caithness. 

The northern districts of Scotland were those which were 
most early exposed to the ravages of the Norwegians, and it 
was in these districts where they effected their first permanent 
settlement in Scotland. But the nature of the country itself 
had always a considerable influence upon the effect produced 
on the population by the Norwegian settlements. Where the 
country was open and exposed the population was in general 
altogether changed, and in process of time became purely 
Norse ; but where the conquered districts possessed in whole 
or in part the mountainous, and at that period, almost inac- 
cessible character of the rest of the Highlands, the actual 

36o THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

population common]}- remained Gaelic, although the chiefs 
were reduced to subjection and became tributary to the Nor- 
wegians. This distinction in the character of the different 
conquered districts can be traced without difficulty in the 
Sagas, and these invaluable records afford sufficient reason for 
thinking that a considerable portion of the Gaelic population 
remained, notwithstanding the long occupation of the country 
by the Norwegians. The districts which were subjected to 
the most permanent occupation of the Norwegians in Scotland, 
were those of Caithness, Ness, and Sudrland, or Sutherland. 

The district of Caithness was originally of much greater 
extent than the modern county of that name, as it included 
the whole of the extensive and mountainous district of Strath- 
naver. Towards the middle of the tenth century the Norwegian 
larl of Orkney obtained possession of this province, and with 
the exception of a few short intervals, it continued to form a 
part of his extensive territories for a period of nearly two 
hundred }-ears. The district of Strathnaver, which formed the 
western portion of the ancient district of Caithness, differed 
very much in appearance from the rest of it, exhibiting indeed 
the most complete contrast which could well be conceived, 
for while the eastern division was in general low, destitute of 
mountains, and altogether of a Lowland character, Strathnaver 
possessed the characteristics of the rudest and most inaccessible 
of Highland countries ; the consequence of this was, that while 
the population of Caithness proper became speedily and per- 
manently Norse, that of Strathnaver must, from the nature 
of the country, have remained in' a great measure Gaelic; 
and this distinction between the two districts is very strongly 
marked throughout the Norse Sagas, the eastern part being 
termed simply Katcticsi^ while Strathnaver, on the other hand, 
is always designated " Dolum a Katenesi," or the Glens of 
Caithness. That the population of Strathnaver remained Gaelic 
we have the distinct authority of the Sagas, for they inform us 
that the Dolum, or glens, were inhabited by the " Gaddgedli," 
a word plainly signifying some tribe of the Gael, as in the 
latter syllable we recognise the word Gaedil or Gael, which 
at all events shows that the population of that portion was 
not Nonse. 


The oldest Gaelic clan which we find in possession of this 
part of the ancient district of Caithness is the clan Morgan 
or Mackay. 

Clan Morgan. 

There are few clans whose true origin is more uncertain 
than that of the Mackays. By some they have been said to 
have descended from the family of Forbes in Aberdeenshire ; 
by others, from that of Mackay of Ugadale in Kintyre, and 
that they were planted in the North by King William the 
Lion, when he defeated Harold, earl of Orkney and Caithness, 
and took possession of these districts. But when we take into 
consideration the very great power and extent to which this 
clan had attained in the beginning of the fifteenth century, it 
is difficult to conceive that they could have been a mere offset 
from families in the South of comparatively small extent, or 
to give credence to stories in themselves improbable, and 
which have nothing further to support them than similarity of 
name in the one case, and of armorial bearings in the other. 
It happens, unfortunately for the solution of this question, 
that the clan Mackay is not contained in the manuscript of 
1450 ; and in the absence of direct testimony of any sort, 
the most probable supposition seems to be that they were 
descended from the ancient Gaelic inhabitants of the district 
of Caithness. If this conclusion be a just one, however, we 
can trace the early generations of the clan in the Sagas, for 
we are informed by them that towards the beginning of the 
twelfth century " there lived in the Dolum of Katanesi (or 
Strathnaver) a man named Moddan, a noble and rich man," and 
that his sons were Magnus Orfi, and Ottar, the earl in Thurso. 

The absence of all mention of Moddan's father, the infallible 
mark of a Norwegian in the Sagas, sufficiently points out that 
he must have been a native ; but this appears still more strongly 
from his son being called an earl. No Norwegian under the 
earl of Orkney could have borne such a title, but they indis- 
criminately termed all the Scottish Maormors and great chiefs 
€arls, and consequently Moddan and his son Ottar must have 
been the Gaelic Maormors of Caithness, and consequently the 
Mackays, if a part of the ancient inhabitants of Caithness, 
were probably descended from them. 

362 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

A very minute and circumstantial history of the first gene- 
rations is narrated in the ponderous volume of Sir Robert 
Gordon ; he deduces them from the Forbeses, but states that 
the first who obtained possessions in Strathnaver was named 
Martin, and adds " that he wes slain at Keanloch-Eylk in 
Lochaber, and had a son called Magnus. Magnus died in 
Strathnaver, leaveing two sones, Morgan and Farquhar. From 
this Morgan the whole familie of Macky is generally called 
clan-wic-VVorgan in Irish or old Scottish, which language 'is 
most as yet vsed in that countrey. From Farquhar the clan-wic- 
Farquhar in Strathnaver ar descended." 

The striking coincidence between Martin and his son Magnus, 
of Sir Robert Gordon, and Moddan and his son Magnus of the 
Sagas, strongly confirms the supposition that the Mackays are 
descended from these old Maormors of Caithness. The first 
chief of this clan who appears on record is Angus Dow, towards 
the beginning of the fifteenth century, and to him the latter 
chiefs can all be traced. At this time the clan had extensive 
possessions in Sutherland and Caithness, and seem to have 
been of no ordinary power and consideration among the 
Highland clans. Their territories included the greater part 
of Strathnaver, and a considerable portion of the district of 
Sutherland proper, and these were confirmed by Donald, lord 
of the Isles, after he had married the countess of Ross> 
" Angusis eyg de Strathnaver et Nigello filio suo seniori inter 
ipsum et Elezabetham de insulis sororem nostram procreato," 
on the 8th of October, 141 5. Among the chiefs arrested by 
King James I. at the parliament held at Inverness in 1427, 
Angus Dow is mentioned and designated as the leader of no 
less than four thousand men, a fact which places the Mackays 
among the most powerful of the Highland clans, and shews 
that they must have occupied their territories for a very long 
period of time. Angus Dow was chiefly remarkable for the 
resistance which he made to Donald of the Isles, when that 
ambitious leader made his well known attempt to obtain 
possession of the earldom of Ross, and it is this event which 
has principally preserved the name of Angus Dow Mackay 
from oblivion. Donald of the Isles had claimed the earldom 
of Ross in right of his wife, but had been refused possession 


of it by the Duke of Albany, then governor of Scotland, 
" whereat," says Sir Robert Gordon, " Donald of the Isles took 
such indignation and displeasure, that raising all the power of 
the Isles, he came into Rosse and spoiled the country, which 
Angus Dow Mackay of Farr endeavoured to defend, because 
that Donald had molested some friends which he had in that 
province. He met the lord of the Isles at Dingwall, where he 
fought a cruel skirmish against him. In end, Donald over- 
threw Angus Dow, took him prisoner, and killed his brother 
Rory Gald Mackay, with divers others." In another part of 
his work, alluding to the same conflict. Sir Robert Gordon 
says, " Donald of the Isles having detayned Angus Dow a 
while in captivitie released him and gave him his daughter in 
marriage, whom Angus Dow carried home with him into 
Strathnaver, and had a son by her called ' Neill Wasse,' so 
named because he was imprisoned in the Basse." Shortly after 
this Angus Dow appears to have brought the attention of the 
energetic James upon him, in consequence of an incursion 
which he had made into Caithness. The inhabitants of 
Caithness had resisted his inroad, and a battle had been fought 
at Helmsdale between the parties, " when ther wes much 
slaughter on either syde." In consequence of this Angus was 
included in the summons to attend the parliament at Inverness 
in 1427, and feeling that it would not have been prudent to 
disobey that order, he was arrested with the other Highland 
chiefs, on which occasion Fordun has transmitted his name to 
us in the following passage, " Ibi arrestavit Angus Duff, alias 
Macqye, cum quatuor filiis suis ducem quatuor millium de 
Strathnaveri." Angus obtained his liberty from the king, but 
his son was detained as a hostage, and committed to the prison 
of the Bass for security. 

After this period, the history of the Mackays consists almost 
entirely of constant incursions into Caithness, together with 
the usual feuds in which the Highland clans were at all times 
engaged, and they do not appear to have maintained the 
power and influence which they possessed under Angus Dow, 
but with diminished territories to have assumed a somewhat 
lower station in the scale of the Highland clans. The first 
crown charter obtained by the Mackays of their extensive 

364 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

possessions in Strathnaver appears to have been as late as the 
year 1499. This charter was obtained in consequence of Y. 
Mackay, at that time chief of the clan, having apprehended 
Alexander Sutherland of Dalred, his own nephew, who had 
incurred the vengeance of government in consequence of the 
murder of Alexander Dunbar, brother of Sir James Dunbar, 
of Cumnock, and delivered him over to the king with ten of 
his accomplices. The power of the government had now so far 
penetrated into the Highlands that the Highland chiefs began 
to feel the necessit}^ of possessing some sort of feudal title 
to their lands, while the government, aware of the advantage 
to its influence which the want of such a title occasioned, were 
not always willing to grant it ; in consequence of this, the 
Highland chiefs now began to take advantage of any service 
which they might have rendered to the government, to demand, 
as their reward, a feudal investiture of their estates ; and to this 
was probably owing the charter which Y. Mackay now obtained, 
and which his descendants took especial care that when once 
procured, it should be frequently renewed. 

It would be tedious and uninteresting to follow this clan 
through all the domestic broils and feuds with the neighbouring 
clans, of which their history is entirely composed, and in which 
in no respect differed from that of the other Highland clans. 
It may be sufficient to mention that considerable military 
genius, some talent, and more good fortune, contributed to 
raise the chief of the clan to the dignity of the peerage in the 
person of Donald Mackay, first Lord Reay, and thus to confer 
upon the clan a fictitious station among the other clans, which 
their power had not previously enabled them to attain. Donald 
Mackay had raised a regiment of fifteen hundred men of his 
clan, which he carried over to Germany to the assistance of the 
king of Bohemia ; and after having taken a distinguished part 
in all the foreign service of the time, he returned to England, at 
the commencement of the civil war in the reign of Charles I., 
with some reputation, acquired during the Continental wars, and 
having been of considerable service to that unfortunate monarch, 
he was by him raised to the peerage with the title of Lord Reay. 

His successors in the peerage maintained the station to 
which they had been thus raised, but, being as willing to remain 


in the peerage as their ancestor had been to be raised to it, Lord 
Reay found it as much his interest to oppose the family of 
Stewart, as Donald Mackay had to support that family in their 
difficulties with all his interest, and accordingly throughout the 
insurrections in favour of that royal house in the years 17 15 and 
1745, the existing government found in Lord Reay a staunch 
and active supporter; while the Stewarts found that in rewarding 
the loyalty of the chief of the Mackays with a peerage, they had 
but changed a steady friend to a bitter enemy, and that Charles 
Edward was to find one of his most powerful opponents in the 
great-grandson of the person who had been most indebted to 
his grandfather. 

The lineal descendant of this ancient line of Highland chiefs 
still remains in possession of the peerage, but having sold the 
estates which had been the property of the family for so many 
generations, the clan are left in reality without a chief of their 

A mis. 
Azure, on a chevron, or, between three bears' heads couped, argent, and 

muzzled, gules. A roebuck's head erased, of the last, between two 

hands holding daggers, all proper. 


Principal Seat. 

Oldest Cadet. 
Mackay of Auchness. 

Erick Mackay, Lord Reay. 

In M27, 4000. In 1745, Soo. 

VI.— Ness. 

Among the Rikis or districts in Scotland mentioned in the 
Sagas, and which are exactly synonymous with Maormorship.'^, 
as they may be called, or the earldoms of Scottish writers, the 
name of Ness occurs frequently. This designation has generally 
been supposed to be nothing more than a variation of the word 
Kateness, and has accordingly been so translated in most of the 

366 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

Latin translations of the Sacjas ; but a strict comparison of the 
different passages in which it occurs will show clearly that Ness 
and Caithness must be held to have been names applied by the 
Norwegians to different districts. Thus, in describing the civil 
war which took place in the Orkneys about the year 1040 
betvvcen Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, and Rognvald, his nephew 
who claimed a part of the Islands of Orkney, in right of his 
father, the Orkneyinga Saga says that " Rognvald sent messen- 
gers to Ncs and the Sudereyom to say that he had taken 
possession of the kingdom which was Thorfinn's ; and that 
none in these districts opposed him, but that Thorfinn was in 
in the meantime in Katcnesi with his friends," thus showing 
distinctly that Nes and Katenes could not have been applied 
to the same district, but that there must have been a marked 
difference between them. This is confirmed in another passage 
of the same Saga, in which it is mentioned that Swen having 
gone to Nes to plunder, was detained there by stormy weather, 
and sent a messenger to that effect to larl Erland, at that time 
in Katenes, and the same passage shows that Nes must have 
been a district of considerable size, as it mentions Swen having 
overrun the country and carried off an immense booty ; and 
also that at this period, namely, towards the beginning of the 
twelfth centur}', Nes belonged to the native inhabitants, other- 
wise it would not have been made the ob'ect of a plundering 
expedition ; a circumstance which was not the case with regard 
to Caithness. It appears, in fact, distinctly from the Sagas, 
that Ness was situated somewhere on the Northern shore of 
Scotland, and that it included the north-western angle of the 
country ; for the Earls of Orkney are frequently mentioned 
as crossing the Pentland Firth into Nes, and on one occasion 
Swen is stated, in the Orkneyinga Saga, to have gone from 
Lewes into Scotland to meet the king of Scotland, and as 
having passed through Ness on his way. 

The district of Strathnaver, as we have seen, formed part of 
the Riki of Katenes, and was known to the Norwegians by 
the name of " Dolum a Katenesi." The only districts therefore 
which at all answered to the description of Ness are those of 
Assint Edderachylis and Diurnes ; these districts are not 
included in any of the other earldoms comprehended in the 


north-western corner of Scotland. And in the latter the 
appellation Ness appears to have been preserved. There seems 
therefore little reason to doubt that there was an ancient 
maormorship or earldom, comprehending these districts of 
Assint Edderachylis and Diurnes, and that that earldom was 
known to the Norwegians under the designation of the Riki 
of Ness. 

The most ancient Gaelic clan which can be traced as 
inhabiting these districts, is the clan Nicail or Macnicols. 


Clan Nicail. 

" Tradition, and even documents declare," says the Reverend 
Mr. William Mackenzie, in his statistical account of the parish 
of Assint, " that it was a forest of the ancient Thanes of Suther- 
land." " One of these Prince Thanes gave it in vassalage to one 
Mackrycul^ who in ancient times held the coast of Coygach, that 
part of it at the place presently called Ullapool. The noble 
Thane made Assint over in the above manner, as Mackrycul had 
recovered a great quantity of cattle carried off from the county of 
Sutherland by foreign invaders. Mackrycul's family, by the fate 
of war in those days of old, being reduced to one heir female, she 
was given in marriage to a younger son of Macleod, laird of 
Lewis, the thane of Sutherland consenting thereto ; and also 
making Assint over to the new-married couple, together with its 
superiority. The result of this marriage was fourteen successive 
lairds here of the name of Macleod." The same gentleman also 
adds, in a note, " Mackry-cul is reported by the people here to be 
the potent man of whom are descended the Macnicols, Nicols, 
and Nicolsons." With the exception of the part performed by the 
Thane of Sutherland, which is disproved by the fact, that the 
charter to Torquil Macleod, who married the heiress of Mackry- 
cul, of the lands of Assint was a crown charter, and does not 
narrate any grant whatever ; this account is substantially con- 
firmed by the manuscript of 1450, in which MS. the descent of 
the clan Nicail is traced in a direct line from a certain Grcgall, 
plainly the Kryciil of the reverend minister of Assint. 

From a calculation of generations it appears that Gregall 
must have flourished in the twelfth century, and as we have seen 

368 THE HIGHLANDERS [part li 

that this district was certainly at that time occupied by a GaeHc 
tribe, it follows that the Macnicols must be of Gaelic origin. But 
the clan Nicol are not connected by the manuscript of 1450 with 
any of the four great tribes into which the clans contained in 
that manuscript are divided, and which tribes have been shewn 
to be synon}-mous with the ancient districts of Moray, Ros, 
Garmoran, and the tribe of the Gallgael. It seems therefore 
clear, that we must look upon the Macnicols as the descendants 
of the ancient Gaelic tribe who formed the earliest inhabitants of 
the district of Ness. This clan is now nearly extinct, and of its 
historx', when in possession of these districts, we know nothing. 
But these ancient possessions certainl}- comprehended Edder- 
achylis and Duirnes as well as Assint and Coygach, as we find 
these districts in the possession of the Macleods of Lewis, who 
acquired their mainland territories by marriage with the only 
daughter of the last Macnicol. The district of Assint remained 
in the possession of Macleod for many generations until about 
the year 1660, when it became the property of the earl of 
Seaforth, by the usual mode in which the powerful barons 
obtained possession of the properties of the chiefs in their neigh- 
bourhood, whom circumstances had reduced into their power, 
viz., by the fatal operation of the old system of wadset and 
apprising. By purchase it afterwards fell into the hands of the 
Sutherland famih', in whose possession it has ever since 
remained. The northern portion of this district continued for 
some time to be held b\' the Macleods, until a feud between 
Macleod of Edderachylis and the Morisons of Duirnes gave the 
Mackays, who were then at the height of their power, an oppor- 
tunity of wresting these estates from both families, and accord- 
ingly these districts have ever since formed a part of the 
Mackays' possessions, or what is called Lord Reay's country. 


The ancient district of Sutherland or Sudrland, so termed by 
the Norwegians, in consequence of its position in respect to 
Caithness, which for a long time was their only possesion on the 
mainland of Scotland, was of much less extent than the present 
country of the same name ; for the districts of Strathnaver, 


Edderachylis, Duirnes, and Assint, which are included in the 
same county at present, formed no part of the ancient earldom, 
but belonged the first to Caithness, while the others constituted, 
as we have seen, the ancient district of Ness. This district, 
therefore, included merely the eastern portion of the county, and 
although it is unquestionably of a mountainous and Highland 
character, yet it did not, like the other Highland districts, retain 
its Gaelic population in spite of the Norwegian conquest, but 
became entirely colonized by the Norse, who thus effected a per- 
manent change in its population. This result, however, arose 
from circumstances altogether peculiar to the district of Suther- 
land, and which, in no respect, apply to the case of other 
Highland regions. 

It will be in the recollection of the reader, that the principal 
cause of the extensive conquest of Thorfinn, the Norwegian larl 
of Orkney, on the mainland of Scotland, in the year 1034, was 
from the king of Scotland having bestowed Caithness and 
Sutherland upon Moddan, his sister's son, with commands 
to wrest these districts from the Norwegian larl, to whom they 
had been ceded by the preceding monarch. But there is con- 
siderable reason to think, from the expressions of the Norse 
writers, and from the events which followed, that Moddan must 
have been the Gaelic chief or Maormor of Sutherland ; for 
independently of the improbability of this district having been 
bestowed on any other Gaelic chief than its own proper 
Maormor, when the only object of the king was to wrest it from 
the hands of the Norwegians, the Saga expressly mentions that 
Moddan went north to take possessions of these two districts, and 
levied his army for that purpose in Sutherland, — a fact which, in 
these times, is sufficient to prove Moddan to have been the 
Maormor of Sudrland. The natural consequence of the com- 
plete success of Thorfinn, and of the total overthrow of his 
opponents must have been, in accordance with the manners of 
the times, that his vengeance would be peculiarly directed 
against the Gaelic chiefs, to whose race Moddan belonged, and 
against the Gaelic population who had principally supported him 
in his war with Thorfinn. We may hence conclude with cer- 
tainty, that on the establishment of the Norwegian kingdom of 
Thorfinn, the Gaelic inhabitants of Sudrland would be altogether 



driven out or destroyed, and that during the extended duration 
of the Norwegian occupancy, its population would become 
purely and permanently Norse. 

There are consequently no Highland clans whatever 
descended from the Gaelic tribe which anciently inhabited the 
district of Sutherland, and the modern Gaelic population of part 
of that region is derived from two sources. In the first place, 
several of the tribes of the neighbouring district of Ross, at an 
early period gradually spread themselves into the nearest and 
most mountainous parts of the country, and they consisted 
chiefly, as we have seen, of the clan Anrias. Secondly, Hugh 
Freskin, a descendant of Freskin de Moravia, and whose family 
was a branch of the ancient Gaelic tribe of Moray, obtained 
from King William the territory of Sutherland, although it is 
impossible to discover the circumstances which occasioned the 
grant. He was of course accompanied in this expedition by 
numbers of his followers, who increased in Sutherland to an 
extensive tribe ; and PVeskin became the founder of the noble 
family of Sutherland, who, under the title of Earls of Sutherland, 
have continued to enjoy possession of this district for so many 


Having now concluded the history of the Highland clans 
according to the system established in the former part of the 
Work, it may be proper here to state in a few words the simple 
but highly important conclusion to which these researches have 
brought us. 

First. The Gaelic race at present occupying the Highlands 
have existed as a distinct and peculiar people, inhabiting the 
same districts which they now occupy, from the earliest period 
to which the records of history reach. 

Secondly. Previous to the thirteenth century, that Gaelic 
nation was divided into a few great tribes, which exactly 
correspond with the ancient earldoms of that part of Scotland. 
The hereditary chiefs of these tribes were termed Maormors 
a title which the influence of Saxon manners changed to that 
of earl. 

Thirdly. From these few tribes all the Highlanders are 
descended, and to one or other of them each of the Highland 
clans can be traced. 

Upon this system, therefore, has every part of the present 
Work been brought to bear. Each of the clans has been viewed 
rather as forming a part of one great whole than as a separate 
family detached from all others, and it has throughout been 
deemed of more importance to establish with precision the place 
of each clan in this great system, than to enter into any detail 
of their history. Of the importance of the result to which all 
these researches have led, it is impossible for a moment to 
doubt ; and while a view has been given of the history of each 
detached portion, everything has been brought to contribute, in 
some degree, to the establishment of a great truth as new as it 
is important. 

372 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

This second portion would have extended to far greater 
length, and more minute detail of family history, had the 
Author not felt the necessity of compressing his plan within the 
narrow limits of an essay, which he was desirous should exhibit, 
in a distinct and complete form, the theory of Scottish history, 
which his researches have led him to adopt, and which he now 
submits with deference to the judgment of the public. 

The result of the system will be found, at one view, in the 
following table of the descent of the Highland clans. 
























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As the simple conclusion to which we have arrived, after the 
investigation contained in this Work, both as to the origin of the 
Highlanders generally and of the Highland clans in particular, 
is, that the whole Highland clans are, with very few exceptions, 
descended from one Gaelic nation, who have inhabited the same 
country from time immemorial, — it follows that the plan of this 
Work must exclude all those families to whom a long residence 
in the country have given the name of Highlanders, but who are 
not of Gaelic origin. But as these families are not very numer- 
ous, it will be proper, in order to complete this sketch of the 
Highlanders, that we should shortly state, in an Appendix, the 
reasons for considering them of foreign origin. There are, 
perhaps, few countries into which the introduction of strangers is 
received with less favour than the Highlands of Scotland. So 
strongly were the Highlanders themselves imbued with an 
hereditary repugnance to the settlement of foreigners among 
them, that assisted as that prejudice was by the almost im- 
penetrable nature of their country, such an occurence must 
originally have been nearly impossible, and at all times exceed- 
ingly difficult. In this respect, however, the extinction of the 
ancient earls or maormors produced some change. Norman and 
Saxon barons, by the operation of the principles of feudal succes- 
sion, acquired a nominal posse.ssion of many of the great High- 
land districts, and were prepared to seize every favourable 
opportunity to convert that nominal possession to an actual 
occupation of the country ; and although their influence was not 
great enough to enable them materially to affect the population 
of the interior of their respective districts, yet, under their pro- 
tection, many of the foreign families might obtain a footing in 

3/6 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

those parts which more immediately bordered on the Lowlands. 
It is accordingly the eastern and southern boundary of the 
Highlands which would naturally become exposed to the 
encroachment of the Lowlanders and their barons, and in which 
we might expect to find clans which are not of pure Gaelic 
origin. The first of the these clans is that of the 


In the present state of our information regarding the 
Stewarts, the question of their origin seems to have been at 
length set at rest, and until the discovery of new documents 
shall unsettle this decision, there seems no reason to doubt that 
they are a branch of the Norman family of Fitzallan. The 
proofs which have been brought forward in support of this 
conclusion are too demonstrative to be overcome by the 
authority of tradition alone, however ancient that tradition may 
be, and until some important additional information be discovered, 
we must look upon the fabled descent of the Stewarts from the 
thanes of Lochaber, and consequently their native origin, as 
altogether visionary. 

The whole of the Scottish Stewarts can be traced to Renfrew- 
shire as their first seat, but still, in consequence of the great 
extent of territory acquired by this family all over Scotland, a 
considerable number of them penetrated into the Highlands, 
and the amount of the Highland families of the name became 
in time considerable. Those families of the name who are 
found established in the Highlands in later times are derived 
from three sources, the Stewarts of Lorn, AthoU, and Balquidder. 

The Stewarts of Lorn are descended from a natural son of 
John Stewart, the last lord of Lorn, who, by the assistance of the 
Maclarins, a clan to whom his mother belonged, retained forcible 
possession of a part of his father's estates ; and of this family 
are the Stewarts of Appen, Invernahyle, Fasnacloich, &c. 
Besides the descendants of the natural son of the last lord of 
Lorn, the family of the Stewart of Grandtully in Atholl is also 
descended from this family, deriving their origin from Alexander 
Stewart, fourth son of John, lord of Lorn. 

The Stewarts of Atholl consist almost entirely of the 
descendants of the natural children of Alexander Stewart, 


commonly called the " Wolf of Badenoch ; " of these the principal 
family was that of Stewart of Garth, descended from James 
Stewart, one of the Wolfe of Badenoch's natural sons, who 
obtained a footing in Atholl by marrying the daughter and 
heiress of Menzies of Fothergill, or Fortingall, and from this 
family almost all the other Atholl Stewarts proceed. 

The Balquidder Stewarts are entirely composed of the 
illegitimate branches of the Albany family. The principal 
families were those of Ardvorlich, Glenbucky, and others. 


The original name of this family was Meyners, and they 
appear to be of Lowland origin. Their arms and the resemblance 
of name distinctly point them out to be a branch of the English 
family of Manners, and consequently their Norman origin is 
undoubted. They appear, however, to have obtained a footing 
in Atholl at a very early period, although it is not now possible 
to ascertain by what means the acquisition was obtained. 
Robert de Meyners grants a charter of the lands of Culdares in 
Fortingall to Matthew de Moncrief as early as the reign of 
Alexander II. His son Alexander de Meyners was certainly in 
possession of the lands of Weem, Aberfeldie, and Glendochart, 
in Atholl, besides his original possessions of Durrisdeer in 
Nithsdale. He was succeeded in the estates of Weem, 
Aberfeldie and Durisdeer, by his eldest son Robert, while his 
younger son, Thomas, obtained the lands of Fothergill. 

From the eldest son the present family of Menzies of Menzies 
is descended ; but the family of Menzies of Fothergill became 
extinct in the third generation, and the property was transferred 
to the family of Stewart in consequence of the marriage of 
James Stewart, natural son of the Wolfe of Badenoch, with the 


Of the Norman origin of the family of the Frasers it is 
impossible for a moment to entertain any doubt. They appear 
during the first few generations uniformly in that quarter of 
Scotland which is south of the Firths of Forth and Clyde ; and 
they possessed at a very early period extensive estates in the 
counties of East Lothian and of Tweeddale ; besides this, the 

378 THE HIGHLANDERS [part ii 

name of Frisale, which is its ancient form, appears in the roll of 
Battle Abbe\', thus placing the Norman character of their origin 
beyond a doubt. 

Down to the reign of Robert the Bruce the Erasers appear to 
have remained in the southern counties, but during his reign 
they began to spread northward, penetrating into Mearns and 
Aberdeenshire, and finally into Inverness-shire. Sir Andrew 
Eraser appears to have acquired extensive territories in the 
North by marriage with the heiress of a family of considerable 
consequence in Caithness ; but he still possessed property in the 
South, as he appears under the title of Dominus de Touch, in 
the county of Stirling. Simon Eraser was the first of the family 
of Lovat. By marriage with Margaret, daughter of John, earl of 
Orkney and Caithness, he obtained a footing in the North. On 
the death of Magnus, the last earl of this line, he unsuccessfully 
contested the succession with the earl of Strathearne, but at the 
same time he acquired the property of Lovat, which descended 
to his wife through her mother, the daughter and heiress of 
Graham of Lovat. His son Hugh is the first of this family who 
appears on record in possession of Lovat and the Aird. On the 
iith September, 1367, Hugh Eraser, "Dominus de Loveth et 
portionarius terrarum de Aird," does homage to the bishop of 
Moray for his part of the half daviach land of Kintallergy and 
Esser and fishings of Eorm. After this he occurs frequently 
under the title of " Dominus de Loveth," and this Hugh Eraser, 
Dominus de Loveth, is the undisputed ancestor of the modern 
Erasers of Lovat, while of their connections with the Southern 
Erasers, and also of their consequent Norman origin, there can 
be no doubt whatever. 


. Few families have asserted their right to be considered as 
a Gaelic clan with greater vehemence than the Chisholms, not- 
withstanding that there are perhaps few whose Lowland origin 
is less doubtful. Hitherto no one has investigated their history ; 
but their early charters suflfice to establish the real origin of 
the family with great clearness. The Highland possessions of 
the family consist of Comer, Strathglass, &c., in which is situated 
their castle of Erchless, and the manner in which they acquired 


these lands is proved by the fact that there exists a confirmation 
of an indenture betwixt Wilham de Fenton of Baky on the 
one part, and " Margaret de la A rd doniina de Erchless and 
Thomas de Chishelme her son and heir" on the other part, 
dividing between them the lands of which they were heirs 
portioners, and among these lands is the barony of the Ard in 
Inverness-shire. This deed is dated at Kinrossy, 25th of 
April, 1403. 

In all probability, therefore, the husband of Margaret must 
have been Alexander de Chishelme, who is mentioned in 1368 
as comportioner of the barony of Ard along with lord Fenton. 

The name of Chishalm does not occur in Battle Abbey Roll, 
so there is no distinct authority to prove that the family was 
actually of Norman origin, but these documents above cited 
distinctl}' shew that the name was introduced into the High- 
lands from the low country. Their original seat was in all 
probabilit}' in Roxburgshire, as we find the only person of the 
name who signs Ragman's Roll is " Richard de Chesehelm del 
county de Roxburg," and in this county the family of Chisholm 
still remains. Their situation, therefore, together with the 
character of the name itself, seems with sufificient clearness to 
indicate a Norman origin. 

The four families whose origin we have here investigated, 
although cursorily, complete the number of clans whose foreign 
origin can be established with any degree of certainty ; and 
whether we consider the small number of these families, or their 
situation on the borders of the Highlands, we cannot but be 
struck with the small impression which the predominating 
influence of the Saxons and Normans in the Highlands, and the 
continued encroachments of the Lowland barons, both of such 
lengthened endurance, produced upon the population of the 
aboriginal Gael. This is a fact which can only be accounted 
for by the rooted and unalterable hatred which the Gael have 
always exhibited to the introduction among them or settlement 
of strangers, and which perhaps more than any other cause 
led to those interminable feuds by which the Highlands of 
Scotland were so long and grievously distracted. 


By the Editor. 



The ethnology of the British Isles is still, despite the intelligent 
researches of the last fifty years, in an unsettled state. This 
is greatly due to the fact that the subject draws its materials 
from various subordinate or kindred sciences, and no one man 
has yet appeared who has been able to grasp with equal power 
the reins of all these sciences. The archaeologist deals with the 
monuments and other physical remains of man's past, helped 
by the anatomist in deciding upon " skins and skulls," a subject 
also dealt with by the anthropologist, whose sphere of science 
is man — his race, physique, and beliefs. The historian depends 
on his written or printed documents ; while the latest to lend 
his aid, as a real, not an empirical, scientist, is the philologist. 
Much was done in former times in using language to decide 
racial points ; but it is since Grimm and Zeuss some sixty 
years ago put philology on scientific lines that any good has 
accrued from this subject. It is still a science known 
thoroughly, especially for purposes of ethnology, only by a few. 
Without going back to the cave-men, and others of paleo- 
lithic times, when Britain and its isles formed a continuous 
part of Europe, we come to neolithic times, when unmistakably 
we have man of the New Stone Age. These neolithic men were 
comparatively small of stature, long-headed, and dark-haired. 
They buried in long barrows. The Bronze Age begins with 
the intrusion of a race tall in stature, broad-headed, and fair- 
haired, with beetling brows — a splendid race physically and 
mentally. They buried in round barrows. Some — indeed, 

382 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

most — ethnologists regard these men as the first wave of the 
Celts ; some say of Gadelic, or perhaps Gadelic and Pictish. They 
are allied by physique to several past and present races on the 
Continent — the modern Walloons, for instance, and the old 
Helvetii. The view maintained by the Editor is that the 
Gadels or ancient Gaels and the Picts both belonged to the 
great Aryan Race, and originally possessed the tall stature, 
blond hair, and long heads which are postulated for the pure 
Aryan. The Aryan Race, or rather the Aryan-speaking Race, 
is a discovery of modern or scientific philology. It was dis- 
covered some sixty years ago that the languages of the various 
nations — barring a very few — dwelling from Ireland to Ceylon, 
spoke languages that ultimately came from one original tongue. 
In short, the chief Indian languages, Persian, Slavonic, Lettic, 
Teutonic, Greek, Latin, and Celtic, are descended from one 
mother-tongue. For a long time it has been a matter of 
dispute where this original language had its habitat. It is now 
agreed that southern Russia and ancient Poland formed the 
home of the Aryan tongue. The dispersion of the Aryan- 
speaking people began some four thousand years ago. The 
Celts lay on the upper reaches of the Danube until the dawn 
of history begins ; the Latins and they were nearest of kin of 
any of the other leading branches. The Celts spread over 
Germany to the shores of the North Sea, and then, about 
600 B.C., or indeed earlier, they entered Gaul and pushed on 
their conquests into Spain, and later into northern Italy. They 
were at the height of their power in the fourth century', 
spreading from the west of Ireland to the mouth of the 
Danube, and in 279 they overran Asia Minor, settling down to 
the limits of Galatia about 250 B.C. Such an "empire" might 
satisfy Rome itself But it had no centre, and soon crumbled, 
after two hundred years' domination. 

The Celts all unite on one philologic peculiarity : every 
Aryan initial/ has been lost. In the course of their dispersion 
over Europe they divided into two dialects over the Aryan 
sound qv (as in Lat. quod, Eng. quantity). The one dialect 
made it k or q purely, the other made it / ; and we speak of 
P and Q Celts for brevity's sake. The Belgic Gauls, the Britons 
and Welsh, and the Picts, were P Celts ; the Gadels or Gaels 


of all ages were Q Celts. Most of Gaul spoke the P variety of 
Celtic. The Celts, of course, pushed westward into Britain. 
It is usually thought that the Gadels came first. The common 
notion naturally is that they swarmed into England about 
600 B.C., and were thence driven westward into Ireland by the 
advancing Belgic tribes. Undoubtedly Gadels were in Wales 
and Devonshire in the fifth century A.D., settled as inhabitants. 
These, however, are accounted for as the invaders of the Roman 
Province of Britain during the invasions of the Scots and Picts 
from 360 to 500. Indeed, in 366, and for a few years, the 
Province of Britain was ruled, or misruled, by Crimthann, 
High-King of Ireland. Theodosius arrived in 369. and drove 
out the invaders. As early as 200, settlements were made by 
expelled Gaels in South Wales. Besides this, Gaelic inscrip- 
tions of the fifth and sixth centuries in Ogam are found in 
South Wales, and one or two in old Cornavia. Professor Rhys 
is the great protagonist for the view that the Gadelic tongue 
was continuous in Wales from the time of the first Gadels till 
the seventh century. On the other side, Professor Kuno Meyer 
asserts that " no Gael ever set his foot on British soil save 
from a vessel that had put out from Ireland," a dictum with 
which the present writer agrees. 

The tradition among the Gaels of Ireland themselves is 
that they came from Spain to Ireland. It is more likely that, 
starting from Gaul, they skimmed along the southern shore of 
England — perhaps the Picts were then in possession of the 
country — and thus arrived in Ireland. Their own traditions 
and there being no other trace of them in Britain before the 
Christian era prove this contention. As already said, the date 
of their arrival must be about 600 or 500 B.C. 

About the same time the Picts came across, possibly from 
what was afterwards the land of the Saxon invaders of England, 
and may have colonised Scotland first, bringing there the red- 
haired, large-limbed Caledonians of Tacitus. In any case, the 
Picts must have been the predominant race in Britain in the 
fourth century B.C., when the Greek voyager, Pytheas, made his 
rounds of the northern seas. He calls the people of Britain 
Pretanoi or Prettanoi ; this might be a Celtic Oretani, present 
Gaelic Cruithne, possibly from crtcth, figure, so called because 

384 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

they tattooed themselves, whence Lat. Picti, painted men. The 
fact that Pictavia was also the name of a large Gaulish province 
makes this last statement doubtful. It may, however, be 
inferred that this Greek form Prettania gave rise to the name 
Britain — a bad Latin pronunciation of Prettania. Prof. Rhys 
here objects, and points out that Pliny mentions a tribe of 
Britanni as situated at the mouth of the Somme, not very far 
from Kent ; that there was such a tribe is proved by the 
modern town-name of Bretagne. If Prof. Rhys is right, he 
must postulate that part of Kent was inhabited by these 
Britanni, and that from this little colony came the name of the 
whole island. No Britanni are mentioned as in Britain, and 
it is likely that the tribe on the Somme were some returned 
emigrants from Britain. The Welsh call the Picts Prydyn 
(from pryd, figure), which again agrees with Gaelic derivation 
(Gaelic cruth, whence Cruithne, is, in Welsh, pryd). Britain is 
Welsh Prydain, the same word as that for Pict. Hence the 
Picts are the " figured " men both in the Gadelic and Brittonic 
languages. These are the Editor's views, and the proof must 
be deferred till we come to treat the Pictish question. 

We are on firm historic ground in regard to the last Belgic 
invasion of Celts from the Continent. The Belgic Gauls crossed 
over into Britain before Caesar's time, for he found them in 
possession of at least the eastern portion of England ; the 
language was the same on both sides of the Channel, some 
tribe names, such as the Atrebates, were common to both, 
and King Divitiacus ruled both in Gaul and Britain. Caesar 
speaks of the Britons of the interior as aboriginal, no doubt 
referring to the west coast and to Scotland. In any case, 
the Belgae seem at the time of the Roman conquest to have 
possessed Britain as far as the Forth — at least its eastern half, 
being probably in much the same position as we find the 
Anglo-Saxons about 613. The Picts had been conquered or 
driven west and north ; we know they inhabited all northern 
Scotland then, and possibly what was afterwards the Kingdom 
of Strathclyde. Tacitus mentions the Silures in South Wales 
as a dark curly-haired people, and argues their Spanish origin. 
These Silures are now recognised as the survivors of the 
Iberians of the Neolithic age. 


In Scotland, therefore, at the beginning of the Christian 
era, the racial position would be thus : Belgic Gauls in the 
eastern portion of the country from the Firth of Forth to the 
Tweed ; parallel to them in the western half, from the Firth 
of Clyde to the Solway, were the Picts, still retreating. The 
rest of the Picts filled the remaining portion of Scotland from 
the Firths to Cape Wrath and the Orkney Isles. The previous 
Iberian population, with its admixture of Bronze-age men, were 
absorbed by the Celts or driven westwards, where, among the 
Isles and on the West Coast, plenty traces of them are still 
in evidence. The Roman occupation of the district between 
the Walls, that is from the Tyne and Solway to the Clyde 
and Forth Wall, no doubt added a new ethnologic factor to 
the population there ; and the Brittonic or Belgic Gauls un- 
doubtedly came to possess Strathclyde and Dumbarton (the 
"dune" of the Britons). In the sixth century the Anglo-Saxons 
entered Scotland. The Celts called them Saxons because that 
tribe formed the first Teutonic raiders and invaders of Britain, 
the Gadelic tribes receiving the name from the Brittonic peoples. 
It was, however, the Angles that conquered the eastern halt 
of Scotland to the Firth of Forth. 

Meanwhile the Scots, who had helped the Picts to harass 
the Roman province for a hundred years, had acquired settle- 
ments on the Argyleshire coast and in the Isles. The Scots 
were simply the inhabitants of Ireland ; it was their own name 
for themselves. Isidore of Saville (600 A.D.) says the name in 
the Scottic language meant "tattooed," and, as a matter of 
fact, the root word is still alive in the language — Gaelic sgath, 
lop off; old Irish scothaini, allied to English scathe. This 
makes both Gadels and Picts mean " men of the tattoo." Dr. 
Whitley Stokes prefers the root skot, property ; German schatz, 
stock ; and translates the word as " owners, masters." The 
first invasion of Scotland by the Scots is set down by the 
Irish annalists as in the latter half of the second century (circ. 
160 A.D.) under Cairbre Riata, whom Bede calls Reuda (Gadelic 
* Reiddavos " Ready-man ? ") Riata gave his name to the 
Irish and Scotch Dal-Riadas both — " the Tribal portion of 
Riata." Possibly additions took place during the Picts and 

Scots alliance of 360 to (say) 460, but in any case a great 


386 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

accession to the Scots on the West Coast was the arrival, in 
501, of the sons of Ere from Dalriada ; they founded the little 
kingdom of Dalriada, practically Argyleshire and its Isles, 
though the original Argyle extended from the Mull of Kintyre 
to Lochbroom, as our earliest documents show. It means 
" Coastland of the Gael " — Airer-Gaidheal. When the Norse 
came about 800, they called the Minch Scotland Fjord, which 
shows that the Gael practically held the West Coast entire, and 
the Picts held the East Coast to Pettland Fjord, or Pictland 
Fjord, now Pentland. The name Scot and Scotland came 
to be applied to the Scottish kingdom in the tenth centur)^ 
b}' English writers — the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle calls Con- 
stantine, who fought unsuccessfully at Brunanburg, in 938, 
King of Scotland. The Irish, who were called by this 
time Hibernienses, or Hiberni, by outsiders, dropped the name 
Scot and called themselves Goedel, or, later, Gaoidheal, "Gael." 
This is the name that the Highlanders still call themselves 
by — Gaidheal. Unfortunately, the oldest Irish form dates only 
from 1 100 — Goedel, which would give a Gadelic form, ^Gaidelos^ 
but Scottish Gaelic points to *Gadilos or Gaidelos, and from 
various considerations seems the correcter form, giving a root 
gad, Eng. good, Gothic gadiliggs, relative ; German gatte, 
husband. The idea is " kinsman," as in the case of the native 
name for Welshman — Cymro, whence Cymric, *Com-brox, a 
" co-burger," where bj-ox or broges (plural) is from the root 
inrog, land ; Lat. margo, Eng. mark, viarch. 

The next invasion of Scotland, which gave her a most 
important accession of population in the Isles, the West Coast, 
and in Sutherland and Caithness, was made by the Norse 
about 795. Our historians seem little to understand either 
its extent in time and place or the great change it wrought 
in the ethnological character of the districts held by the Norse. 
Of this we shall speak at its proper place in notes on Chapter V. 
The Norman invasion extended even to Scotland, and Celtic 
earls and barons, either through failure of heirs male or otherwise, 
soon and in great numbers were succeeded by Normans and 

It will thus be seen that the Scottish people are ethno- 
logically very much mixed. The Caledonians, as Dr. Beddoe 



points out, still show German, or rather Walloon, characteristics. 
Norse features are predominant in Lewis and the northern Isles 
generally, though Iberian and other (such as Spanish) elements 
are strong. The East Coast is largely Teutonic. The old 
burghs were planted by the Canmore dynasty in the northern 
districts to keep the ordinary population in order, and towns 
like Inverness were from the first in the hands of Flemish and 
other Teutonic traders. 

The Pictish Problem. 

Till criticism began with Father Innes's Essay on the 
Ancient Inhabitants of Scotland in 1729, the Scottish historians 
taught that the Picts and Scots were two separate nations living 
side by side, each speaking a language of its own. These 
historians gave their attention nearly altogether to the story 
and genealogy of the Scots, representing Kenneth Mac Alpin 
in 843 as overthrowing and even extirpating the Picts, insomuch 
that their language and their name were lost. Father Innes's 
Essay, among other things, holds that though Kenneth Mac 
Alpin, the Scot, had to fight for his Pictish throne, yet he was 
rightful heir, but he proves that there was no extirpation 
of the Picts. Their language, as a dialect of Celtic, like British 
(Welsh) and Gaelic, naturally gave way to the Court and Church 
language of Kenneth and his dynasty, which was Gaelic — such 
is his easy-going method of getting rid of a national language. 
Later on Pinkerton, who had an anti-Celtic craze, put the Picts 
in the foreground of his historic picture of Scotland before 843 ; 
he regarded them as Gothic or Teutonic — ancestors of the 
Lowland Scots, who wiped out the Dalriadic Kingdom 
about 740. The king of the straggling remnant of Dalriads, 
one hundred years later, became, in the person of Kenneth 
Mac Alpin, also King of Picts. George Chalmers (1807), sanest 
critic of them all, regarded the Picts as Cymric or British by 
race and language, and of course accepted the usual story of 
the Scottish Chronicles. Mr. Skene, in the first edition of the 
present work, in 1837, adopted Pinkerton's revolutionary ideas 
about the Picts and the Scottish Conquest, but with the great 
difference that he regarded the Picts as Gaelic-speaking, using 
the same language as the Scots. In fact, he held that there 

388 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

was no change of race or language at the so-called Scottish 
Conquest, which was no conquest at all, but a mere matter 
of succession on Kenneth's part according to Pictish law. This 
may be called the " Uniformitarian " theory of early Scottish 
history : nobody conquered anybody, and the great Pictish 
nation was, as before, in language and race, the main body 
of the Scottish Kingdom, and most certainly ancestors of the 
present-day Scottish Highlanders — at any rate the Northern 
Picts were 'Jso. The Southern Picts he allows in 1837 to be 
conquered by Kenneth Mac Alpin, but in Celtic Scotland he only 
admits that Britons were between the Tay and the Forth — -the 
Britons of Fortrenn being mentioned in the Irish Chronicles — 
and gave Kings to the Picts, as the Kings' lists compelled him 
to admit ; but these Britons were Cornish (Damnonii of Corn- 
wall and Dumnonii of mid-Scotland, according to Ptolemy's 
geography, were likely the same people in Skene's view). This 
very plausible theory has for the last sixty years held the field 
in Scottish history ; indeed, the popular historians know no 
other. The County histories of Messrs. Blackwood, of course, 
hold by Skene's theories ; and the two latest historians of Scot- 
land — Dr. Hume Brown and Mr. Andrew Lang — regard the 
Picts as purely Gaels, and kill off the Dalriads in the time of the 
terrible Pictish King, Angus Mac Fergus (about 740). The 
obscurity of Kenneth Mac Alpin's succession is insisted upon. 
Mr. Lang, -as might be expected, is really " funny " on the 
subject. Writing about Prof Zimmer's expression that the 
Scots " took away the independence of the Picts," he says : — 
" We might as easily hold that James VI. took away the inde- 
pendence of the English by becoming King, as that Kenneth 
Mac Alpin, a Pict by female descent [?], did as much for the 
Picts." Dr. Skene has retarded the progress of scientific research 
into early Scottish history for at least a generation. This sort 
of thing, as shown by Lang's case, will go on for many a day yet, 
let Celtic scholars do what they like. 

Modern Celtic scholars have reverted to the old position of the 
Chronicles. Respect for the authority of contemporaries like Bede 
and Cormac, and, we may add, Adamnan, compels them so to do, 
not to mention the authority of the Chronicles ; philological facts, 
scientifically dealt with, and considerations of customs, especially 


in regard to marriage, hold the next place. The present writer 
thinks that the topography of Pictland is one of the most cogent 
factors in the solution of the problem, but, unfortunately, Celtic 
scholars " furth of Scotland " cannot appreciate this aspect of the 
question except to a limited extent. If Prof Rhys studied the 
topography of Pictland instead of the so-called Pictish inscrip- 
tions, it is certain that he would not distract either Celtic 
scholars or outsiders like Mr. Lang with his theories as to the 
Pictish being a non-Aryan, pre-Celtic tongue. The ingenuity 
wasted on this theory and on its ethnologic consequences makes 
the outsider yet distrust philologic ways. And here, again, the 
study of Scottish ethnology is retarded, though not to the same 
extent as it is by Dr. Skene's theories. 

We can here only summarise the arguments that go to prove 
that the Picts were a Celtic-speaking people, whose language 
differed both from Brittonic and Gadelic, but, at the same time, 
only differed dialectically from the Gaulish and Brittonic tongues. 
The language was of the P class. The arguments are these : — 

I. — Contemporary writers speak of the Pictish as a separate 
language from both Brittonic and Gadelic. 

Bede (731) twice refers to the matter: — "The nations and 
provinces of Britain, which are divided into four languages, viz., 
those of the Britons, the Picts, the Scots, and the English " 
(III. cap. 6). There may have been thus many provinces in 
Britain, but only four languages. In his first chapter he adds 
Latin as a fifth language — Britain " contains five nations, the 
English, Britons, Scots, Picts, and Latins, each in its own 
peculiar dialect cultivating the sublime study of divine truth." 
These statements, surely, are definite enough : Pictish is a lan- 
guage different from either Brittonic or Gadelic. This Skene 
acknowledges in the present volume, but confines it to the 
southern Picts ; in Celtic Scotland he does like the Scottish 
theologian — he looks the diffiiculty boldly in the face and passes 
on ! 

Adamnan (died 704), writing for people who knew that 
Pictish was a very different tongue from Irish, did not require 
to mention that interpreters were needed any more than modern 
travel-books do, but he does incidentally mention that Columba 
preached the Word twice through an interpreter, once to a 

390 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

peasant, and once to a chief. " On two occasions only," says 
Skene, does he require an interpreter, and it is at once inferred 
that King Brude and his court spoke to Columba without inter- 
preters — and in Gaelic ! 

Cormac, King-bishop of Cashel (circ. 900), records a word of 
the berla cruithnecJi or Pictish language {cartit, pin). 

The next contemporary references occur in the twelfth cen- 
tury, and they concern the so-called Picts of Galloway. These 
will best be considered under the next heading. 

H. — The so-called Picts of Galloway and the Irish Cruithnig. 

The Picts of Galloway are mentioned as being present at the 
Battle of the Standard (i 138) by Richard of Hexham, a contem- 
porary writer, who informs us that King David's army was 
composed inter alios of" Pictis, qui vulgo Gallweienses dicuntur." 
The learned cleric calls them Picts ; their usual name was 
Gallwegians. From Reginald of Durham, writing at the end of 
the twelfth century, we get a word belonging to these Picts, for, 
speaking of certain clerics of Kirkcudbright, he calls them 
" clerici illi qui Pictorum lingua Scollofthes cognominantur." 
Unfortunately, the word Scollofthes proves nothing, for like the 
W e\sh. ysgolkaig divxd old Irish scoloe, scholar, student — latterly, in 
Gaelic, servant — it is derived from Latin scholasticus ; but the 
reference to the Pictish language implies its existence in Gallo- 
way at the time. Of course we can pit against these two references, 
another from the same Anglic source. Henry of Huntingdon, 
who writes before 1 1 54, says : " The Picts seem now destroyed 
and their language altogether wiped out, so that what old writers 
say about them appears now fabulous." We have further an 
enumeration of the inhabitants of the Glasgow diocese in the 
charters of Malcolm and William the Lyon, which are addressed 
thus : " Francis et Anglis, Scotis et Galwejensibus et Walensi- 
bus " — Franks (Norman French), English (of the south eastern 
counties), Scots (Gaels possibly), Galwegians and Welsh (re- 
mains of the old Britons of Strathclyde). Here there is no 
mention of Picts. 

Galloway is so named from Gall-Gaidheil or " Foreign Gaels." 
This was the name given to the mixed Norse and Gaels who 
inhabited the Isles of Scotland, Man, Galloway, Kintyre, and the 
Western coast of Scotland. Dr. Stokes thinks that the Gaelic 


portion of them had relapsed into paganism. The Gall-Gaidheil 
afterwards formed the Kingdom of Man and the Isles, without, 
however, any portion of the mainland being included ; and the 
name Gall-Gaidheil became latterly restricted to Galloway. The 
early history of Galloway can only be guessed at. The Brittonic 
people certainly had possession of it, and Dr. Beddoe regards the 
tall hillmen of Galloway and upper Strathclyde as the best 
representatives of the Brittonic race, Wales itself being very 
much mixed in blood. It formed part of the Kingdom of 
Strathclyde, no doubt ; but it must have received a Gaelic 
population from Ireland before its conquest by the Norse. Its 
place-names show traces of Brittonic, Norse, and Gaelic names ; 
but Gaelic names are predominant. Gaelic was spoken in 
Galloway and Ayr till the seventeenth century ; but the Gaels 
of Ayr, Lanark, and Renfrew were invaders from the north, who 
in the tenth and eleventh centuries imposed their language and 
rule on the British Kingdom of Strathclyde. It is clear, from 
the above considerations, that the Galwegians of the twelfth 
century were anything but Ficts, and that their language was 
the same as the Manx. Richard of Hexham and Reginald of 
Durham, finding the Galwegians a race apart, called them Picts ; 
and so Dr. Skene founds one of his strongest arguments that 
Pictish was Gaelic on the fact that the Gaelic-speaking Gal- 
wegians were Picts according to two bungling English ecclesiastics 
of the twelfth century. 

The Irish Picts have always the name of Cruithnig, both in 
Gaelic and in Latin, whereas the Picts of Scotland are variously 
called Cruithnig, Picts, Piccardai, Pictones, and Pictores. In 
Ireland there were Picts in Dal-araidhe (Down and part of 
Antrim), in Meath and in Roscommon. The last two were 
doubtless some mercenaries introduced by some King or Kinglet 
returning victoriously from exile. Nothing is known of them 
save in a wild legend about the arrival of the Picts first in 
Ireland and their departure to Scotland, leaving a remnant in 
Meath. But the Cruithnig of Dal-araidhe figure prominently in 
Irish history in the sixth and seventh centuries. The Irish 
histories relate that they were the attendants or descendants of 
the Princess Loucetna, daughter of Eochaidh Echbel, King of 
Alba ; she married Conall Cernach, the great Ulster hero of the 

392 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

early part of the first century of the Christian era. But the 
Ulster Picts were evidently invaders from Scotland who settled 
on the corner of Ireland nearest to their own land. By the sixth 
century they were as Gaelic-speaking as the rest of the Irish. 
And hence Skene finds another proof that Pictish was Gaelic. 
He also misreads the history of Ulster, which he regards as 
having been all populated by the Picts. Ulster had in early 
Irish history two consecutive denotations : Ulster at first meant 
the province of Ulster as it is now. But the old kingly heroes 
of Ulster — the Clann Rudraid, descended of Ir, son of Miled— 
was gradually extruded from its lands by scions of the royal line 
of Ireland, until in the fifth century they had only Dal-araidhe 
or Ulidia or Uladh, which was still called Ulster and its kings 
still styled " Kings of Ulster." They were, of course, also King 
of the Picts of Dal-araidhe. Hence has arisen Skene's confusion, 
in which he is followed by Prof. Rhys. 

III. — The Pictish Language. 

Not a line of either poetry or prose has been recorded in 
Pictish ; the so-called Pictish inscriptions are yet unravelled. 
Only two words are recorded by writers as Pictish. Bede 
records that the east end of the Roman wall, between Forth 
and Clyde, ended " in loco qui sermone Pictorum Pean-fahel, 
lingua autem Anglorum Penneltun, appellatur." Here pean is 
for penn, which is also the old Welsh for " head," old Gaelic, 
cenn ; and faJiel is allied to Gaelic fal, Welsh givaivl, rampart. 
Both Skene and Rhys regard pean as British, belonging to the 
" Britons of Fortrenn," or if not so, borrowed from the British, 
Cormac records the word cartit, a pin or brooch pin, to which 
Stokes compares the old Welsh garthon, goad. 

We have, however, ample means to judge the affinities of 
the Pictish language in the numerous personal and place-names 
recorded by classical and later writers, or still extant in old 

(i) Names in the classical writers. 

Tacitus first mentions Caledonia, by which he means Scot- 
land north of the Firths, and Ptolemy writes it Kaledonios. 
The long e between / and d is guaranteed by the old Welsh 
Celydon, and Nennius's Celidon ; but all the same, it must be 
regarded as a Roman mispronunciation of Caldon — Id being not 


common in Latin as a combination, for early Gaelic shows 
Callden, now Caillinn, Scotch Keld, in Dun-Keld ; and there are 
three other names near at hand there with the same endin^^, 
notably, Schiehallion. The root cald in Celtic means " wood," 
and Caldonii would mean " woodlanders." 

Tacitus also records the Boresti in Fife ; he gives the 
personal name Calgacus, " sworded one " (Gaelic calg, colg, 
Welsh caly), The much misread Mons Graupius (now Gramp- 
ian), yields the root grup, a non-Gadelic root in />, which argues 
its Picto-Brittonic character. Stokes compares it to Greek 
grfipos, rounded (Ger. kruinin, bent). The Orcades, or Orkney 
Isles, give the Celtic root ore, pig, possibly here meaning "whale." 

Ptolemy (circ. 140 A.D.) in his geography, gives some 44 
names connected with Pictland. Ptolemy's tribal names begin 
in south Pictland with the Damnonii, who stretched across the 
neck of Scotland from Ayr to Fife. It is usual to regard the 
word as a variant of the Cornish Dumnoni, now Devon (Gaelic 
domhan, world, and duinno) ; both Skene and Rhys allow them 
to be Britons — those Britons of Fortrenn who were responsible 
for the Brittonic elements in the Pictish language according to 
the theories held by these writers. The Epidi of Kintyre are 
distinctly of the P Celtic branch ; the root cp or cq means horse 
(stem eqo, Gaulish epd). The Carnonacai (G. cam), the Caireni 
(" sheep men "), the Cornavii (compare Cornwall), the Lugi 
{lug, win), Smertai and Vaco-magi {jnagh, plain), are all good 
Celtic names) ; and to these may be added the Decantai, found 
also in Wales, and the Vernicones (G. fearna, alder ?). The 
Taixali of Aberdeen, and the Cerones or Creones, are as yet 
unexplained as to name. The coast names come next. The 
Clota or Clyde is from the Celtic clu, clean ; Lemannonios, 
now Lennox, like lake Lemann, comes from lemano, elm. The 
river Longos, Norse Skipafjord, or Loch Long, comes from long, 
ship ; Tarvedum {tarbh, bull) ; Cailis river {caol, narrow) ; Deva 
river means "goddess," and is a common Celtic name, more 
Gaulish-Brittonic than Gadelic ; Tava, the Tay, has Brittonic 
equivalents (W. Tawe, Devon Tavy? Welsh taw, quiet). Celtic, 
too, must be Itys (Gaulish Itins), and Vir-vedrum and Ver- 
ubium (prefix ver) ; nor would it be difficult to explain from 
Celtic roots Volas or Volsas, Nabaros {nav, float ?), Ila, now 

394 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

Ullie (z7, go), Varar, Tvesis (Spesis? now Spey); and Loxa. 
Tina and Boderia or Bodotria (Forth), are doubtful. The town 
names are less satisfactory. Alauna, really the river Allan, 
a good Celtic river name (W. Aliin, Cornish Alan, root pal) ; 
Lindum, G. linne, loch, water, possibly Linlithgow ; Victoria, 
a translated name, in West Fife ; Devana, " goddess," Gaulish 
Divona, " fons additus divis," gets its name from the river as 
usual, viz., the Don, old Gaelic Deon, now Dian, being in spite 
of its inland bearings, really Aberdeen ; Orrea, Bannatia, and 
Tamia arc not immediately explicable, though, as far as mere 
roots are concerned, they can be Celtic. Alata Castra, or 
Winged Camp, is supposed to be Burghead. It is a translated 
name. So, too, is High Bank, between the Ullie or Helmsdale, 
and the Varar or Moray Firth. This has recently been happily 
equated with the Oykel, whose " High Banks" the Norse usually 
made the southern boundary of their conquests, and which they 
called Ekkjals-bakki, or Ekkjal's Bank. The name Oykel goes 
along with the Oichil Hills and Ochiltree, and is from Celtic 
uxellos, high, Welsh 7ichel, Gaelic uasal. The Pictish here shows 
decidedly Brittonic phonetics. The island names prove nothing: 
Ebouda, perhaps for Boud-da, now Bute ; Malaios, now Mull 
{^mal, mel, brow, hill) ; Epidium {ech, horse) ; Ricina ; Dumna 
(compare Dumnoni) ; and Skitis, now possibly Skye (not sk'i, 
cut, " indented isle.") 

The historians of Severus's campaign (208-1 1) record but i&w 
names. The Maiatai and Caledoni are the only tribes mentioned^ 
seemingly having the north of Scotland between them, the 
Maiatai being next the northern wall. Adamnan calls them 
Miathi ; the name is still unexplained. Argento-coxos was a 
Caledonian chief of the time ; the name means " Silver-leg." A 
tablet found some years ago at Colchester gives us the war 
god's name as Medocius (G. and Irish Miadhach) and the 
devotee's name was Lossio Veda Nepos Vepogeni Caledo. The 
date of the inscription is from 232-235. Prof Rhys has suggested 
that Lossio '^Brittonic gen. Lossion-os, Gadelic Lossen-as) is 
related to the Welsh personal name Lleision. Vepogenos, the 
name of the Caledonian's grandfather or uncle (possibly), is 
thoroughly of the P variety of Celtic, and it appears in a shorter 
root form {vip) in the Pictish list of Kings (Vip, Vipoig), Gaelic 


FiacJia, a common name. Veda may be for Veicla, and this in a 
shorter root form appears in the Pictish Kings' list as Uuid, i.e., 
Vid. Ammianus MarcelHnus (circ. 400) gives the two tribes of 
Pictland as Di-calidonae and Vecturiones. The latter name has 
been happily corrected by Prof Rhys into Verturiones, whence 
the historic name of Fortrenn, the district between the Forth 
and the Tay. 

To sum up the results of the above analysis : one-third of the 
names can easily be paralleled elsewhere on Celtic ground — 
Gaulish or Brittonic, though not on Gadelic ground ; a fourth 
more show good Celtic roots and formative particles, and another 
fourth can easily be analysed into Aryan or Celtic radicals. 
These facts dispose of Prof Rhys's theory of the non-Aryan and 
non-Celtic character of the Pictish, and it also makes so far 
against Skene's Gadelic view — a name like Epidi being 
especially decisive against a Q language. The names of northern 
Pictavia show no difference in linguistic character from those of 
the south, as witness — Deva, Devana, Vacomagi, Caelis, Smertae, 
Lugi, Cornavi, Caireni, Carnonacae, Tarvedum, Verubium (root 
ub, point, weapon) ; and, finally, Orcades. 

(2) Post-classical Pictish Names. 

Contemporaries like Adamnan and Bede record but few 
Pictish names, and we depend on the Chronicles of the Picts and 
Scots for complete King lists, and on the Irish Annals as a 
check on these lists and as a source of further names, and 
especially, place-names. The lives of the Saints present some 
names, but this is a doubtful source. The King list begins with 
Cruithne, the eponymus of the race, who is contemporary with 
the sons of Miledh, the Gadelic invaders of Ireland, whose date 
is only 1700 B.C. according to the Annals. We have 66 names of 
Kings to cover the period from Cruithne to Brude, son of Mailcon 
(554-584 A.D.), the King who received Columba in 565. Imagi- 
nation seems to have failed the Pictish genealogists in making 
this list, for they fill a long gap with 30 Kings of the same name 
— Brude, differentiating them by epithets that go in couples, 
thus : Brude Leo, Brude Ur-leo, Brude Pont, Brude Ur-pont, &c. 
The Zifr here is the Gaulish prefix ver, Welsh gur, guar, Irish, fer, 
for, allied to English hyper and over. It is very common as a 
prefix in all the branches of Celtic. It is useless to take these 

396 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

King names seriously before Brude Mac Mailcon's time, though 
one figure may be historic — Nectan, son of Erp (A.D. 480), who 
is said to have given Abernethy to Derlugdach, abbess of Kildare. 
The name Nectan is common to Pictish and GaeHc ; it comes 
from necJit, pure, whose root is iiig, wash. The Pictish form and 
pronunciation is doubtless best recorded by Bede's Naiton, which 
shows Brittonic phonetics in changing ct into it. Erp, the father's 
name, was common in Pictland, and we last hear of it among the 
Norse. Erp, son of Meldun, a Scottish Earl, and grandson of an 
Irish King, was captured by the Norse, and as a freed man went 
to colonise Iceland in the end of the ninth century ; from him 
descended the Erplingi clan of Iceland. This is clearly the 
Pictish equivalent of Welsh Yrp (Triads) and Gadelic Ere, the 
latter a very common name {ere means cow, heaven). Brude 
appears in Bede in a more Welsh form as Bridei ; Stokes equates 
it with Kng. proud. Mailcon, the father, may have been the famous 
Welsh King, whom Gildas calls Maglo-cunus, " High Chief," 
known later as Maelgwyn of Gwyned. The list from Brude Mac 
Mailcon to Kenneth Mac Alpin is in the Pictish Chronicles as 
follows : — 

Gartnait filius Domelch (584-599). The name Gartnait, or Garnait, 
was very common in Pictland. It comes from ^ar/, head ; Welsh, 
garth. It is non-Gadelic. Domelch is in the Irish Annals given 
as Domnach (from dumno). 

Nectati nepos Uerb (599-619), "nephew of \'erb." Verb appears in 
many Gaulish and British names. In Ir. it means "cow," "blotch ;" 
in O. W. gverp, stigma. 

Ciniod f. Lutfin (619-631) ; Ir. Cinaed Mac Luchtren. The first name 
is our modern Kenneth {cin-aed, "fire-kin"), common to Irish and 
Pictish. Lutrin is a Pictish form of Celtic Lugo-trenos, " strong 
by the god Lug." Ltig either means the "sun-god" or "winner." 

Gari7iait f. Uuid or Wid (631-635). The name Vid is to be compared 
to O. W. guid as in Guid-lon, Guid-nerth ; fuller form Veida, 
already mentioned. Seemingly the root is vid, know. It also 
exists in Ir. as a prefix : Fid-gus, Fid-gaile. 

Bridei f. Uuid ox Jf^/d? (635-641). Brude son of Vid, brother of above. 

Talore fraier eoru7n (641-653). The name Talorg and Talorgan is 
purely Pictish, and is the same as Gaulish Argio-talos, " Silver 
Brow." It is common ; there was a St. Talorgan. The phonetics 
of the Pictish Chronicle are here purely British {rg becoming re). 

Talorcan f. Enfret (653-657). Talorgan, son of Eanfrid, King of 
Bernicia, who was an exile in Pictland. The name Eanfnd is 


Gartnait f. Donnel (657-663). The father's name is Domnall or Donald 

(Dumno-valos, "World-Kinsf '')> ^^^ 't is Irish. He was himself 

likely a Scot of Dalriada. 
Drest frater ejus (663-672). Drust is meant. It is a common name 

and purely Pictish. Its longer form is Drostan, o'd Cornish 

inscription Drustagni ; more celebrated as Tristan or Tristram of 

the legends. Stokes makes the root drut, W. drud^ brave, strong. 

Compare Eng. trust and the terminal trud in Teutonic names 

(Ger-trude, &c.). 
Bridei f. Bili (672-693}. Brude, son of Bili or Beli, King of Strathclyde. 

The name is British (Ir. bil, good). 
laran f. Entfidich (693-697). Taranis was the Gaulish " thunder" deity. 

W. taran, thunder. Adamnan has Tarainus, a Pict. The Irish 

Annals give Enfidaig for the father's name, En-fidach possibly ; 

Fidach, son of Cruithne, and Vid, already discussed, have the 

same root. 
Bridei f. Derili (697-706). Brude, son of Derile. The der may be an 

intensive prefix, as in W. Der-guist, O. Br. Der-monoc. There are 

also Uergard and Doirgarto, which came from Der-gart, gart being 

as in Gartnait. 
Nectan f. Derili {706-724-729), brother of above. 
Drust and Alpin co-reigned. The name Alpin is purely British ; if 

native, the root is alb^ white, as in Alpes, the Alps. It seems allied 

to the name Alba, the older Albion. 
Onfiust f. Urgust (730-760). Angus, son of Fergus. Both names are 

common to British and Irish. They mean " Unique Choice " and 

" Super-choice." 
Bridei f. Urgust (760-762), Angus's brother. 
Ciniod f. Wirdech (762-774). Kenneth, son of Feradach. An early 

mythic king was called Wradech, Ir. Annals, Uuradech, that is, 

Feradach. The name seems both Ir. and Pictish. 
Alpin f. Wroid (774-779). Ir. Annals, Feroth and Ferith, compare 

W. Gueruduc. 
Drust f. Talorgan (779-783). 
Talorgcm f. Onnust or An^us (783-786). 
Canaul f. Tarla (783-788), mis-reading for Conall, son of Tadg, both 

names being purely Irish, and he seems to have been a Scot 

Constantin f. Urgust (d. 820). Constantine is Latin ; Fergus, already 

Unnust f. Urgust (820-833). Angus, son of Fergus, his brother. 
Drest or Drust f. Consta7itin, and Talorgan f. Utholl, co-reigned 

3 years. 
Uiven or Eogan f. linnust or Angus (836-838). Eogan is both British 

and Gaelic. 
Wrad f. Bctrgoit, 3 years. [Possibly Dergairt.] 
Bred or Brude, son of Dergard, " Ultimus rex Pictorum " (St Andrews 

Priory Reg.). For Dergart, see Bridei f. Derili. 

398 THE HIGHLAxNDERS [excursus 

The above list, as handed down by the Pictish Chronicles, 
the age of which is unknown, is decidedly British in phonetics, 
and the names Brude, Gartnait, Talorgan, Drostan, and Alpin, 
are foreign to old Gaelic ; but, at the same time, they are ex- 
plicable from British sources. There is nothing non-Celtic in 
the list. It tells, therefore, both against Skene and Rhys. 

(3) The so-called Pictish Inscriptions. 

Pictland shares with the south of Ireland, Cornwall, and 
South Wales the peculiarity of possessing inscriptions in Ogam 
character. Ogam writing is an Irish invention, coincident pro- 
bably with the introduction of Christianity into southern Ireland 
in the fourth century. By the south Irish missionaries this style 
of inscription was introduced into Cornwall and South Wales ; 
and naturally we must look to the same people as its propaga- 
tors in Pictland. The south Irish conformed to Rome in Easter 
and other matters in 633 or thereabout. It is likely that they 
came to Pictland in the Roman interest some time after, and 
may have been mainly instrumental in converting King Nectan 
in 710 to adopt the Roman Calendar. The Irish Annals say 
that he expelled the Columban monks in 716 over his conversion 
to Rome. 

We should naturally expect these inscriptions to be either in 
Irish or Pictish, but Prof Rhys has jumped to the conclusion 
that they are purely Pictish, and, as his Pictish is non-Aryan, so 
is the language of these inscriptions. Unfortunately they are 
difficult to decipher ; the results as yet are a mere conglomera- 
tion of letters, mostly //, v, and n. One at Lunasting in the 

Orkneys is punctuated, and according to Rhys runs thus : 

Ttocuhetts : ahehhttmnnn : hccvvew : nehhtonn. 
In opposition to those who hold that Pictish was a Brittonic 
tongue. Prof Rhys cites the above, and declares that if it be 
Welsh he will confess he has not understood a word of his 
mother-tongue! It is neither Welsh nor any other language 
under the moon. Mr. Lang quotes the inscription and says — 
"This appears to be not only non-Aryan, but non-human! or 
not correctly deciphered. Some people seems to have dropped 
all its aspirates in one place at Lunasting." A word here and 
there is in a general way recognisable in these decipherments 
(as above the last word looks like Nechtan), but as yet these 


inscriptions are not correctly deciphered, and some, like the 
Golspie stone, are too weathered or worn to be deciphered. 
(4) Place-names of Pictland. 

Only a resume can be given here. The Pictish place-names 
are very different from names on Gadelic ground — Ireland and 
Dalriada. There is, of course, a veneer of Gaelic over them, as 
the Scots really did impose their language as well as their rule 
on the Picts. Place-names in the Isles and in Sutherland and 
Caithness must be left out of account, since they are largely 
Norse. From the southern borders of Ross to the Forth east 
of Drumalban the names have all a marked family resemblance, 
partly Gaelic, partly Pictish. The prefixes aber and pet, un- 
known to Gadelic, are found from Sutherland to the Forth. 
The former means " confluence," and had two forms, aper and 
oper, as in Welsh {ad, od, and ber, \jdX.fero) ; the Gaelic for aber 
is inver, and it has in the most common names superseded the 
Pictish aber. Pet means "farm," G. baile, which, in fact, has 
superseded it in purely Gaelic districts for a reason which the 
dictionary should make clear. The prefix both — farm, dwelling, 
common to Irish and Welsh as an ordinary noun, is widely used 
in Pictland to denote a bally. Pres, a bush, W. pjys, a covert, is 
a borrowed Pictish word, and occasionally appears in place- 
names, as does perth, brake, in Perth, Partick (old Perthoc, 
Strathclyde British), and Pearcock or Perthoc (King Edward). 
British pen we do not find now ; every one such has become 
kin, as in Kin-cardine, a very common name, for Pen-cardin, 
W. cardden, brake. Equall}' common is Urquhart for older 
\5v-clmrden, Adamnan's Airchartdan, " At (the) Wood." A pre- 
positional prefix peculiar to Pictish names \s for, /other, corrupted 
into fetter (Fetter-cairn) and foder (Foder-lettir). It is cor- 
rupted also mto far (Far-letter = Foder-letter). Possibly it is 
an adjective terminally in Dunottar (Dun Foither of Chronicles ?), 
Kin-eddar (King Edward), &c. It seems to mean " lower," 
" under " : vo-ter, a comparative from vo, Gaelic fo, under. The 
extensive use of certain prefix names in Pictland is observable 
as compared to Ireland, where their use is rare : strath, ben, 
monadh (rare in Ireland), allt ("stream" in Pictland), corrie, blair, 
and cairn. Lan, so common in Wales, is rare, though known, in 
Pictland ; the cill of the lona monks gave lan no chance. 

400 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

Ochil Hills and Oykel river have already been discussed. Space 
does not allow the discussion of individual place-names ; nor 
can the influence of Pictish on Gaelic phonetics and vocabulary 
be touched. Such a word as preas, bush, already alluded to, is 
easily detected as a Pictish borrow, because initial / is non- 
Gaelic, and its root qre, or qer, is allied to G. crami, W. prenn. 

IV. — Pictish Manners and Customs. 

For the manners and customs of early Scotland, Skene goes 
to Ireland, and transfers the whole social system to Pictavia ; so, 
as the latest example, does Mr. Andrew Lang. But surely the 
Book of Deer ought to have warned them all that this is utterly 
wrong. The public life outlined there resembles the Irish, but 
it is not the same. We have the king {ri), mormaer or great 
steward (translated earl or jarl), and toisech or clan chief: also 
the clan. The word mormaer means " lord " ; but it must be a 
Gaelic translation of the Pictish word, for the Gaelic itself is 
hybrid {inor, great ; juaer, officer ; from Lat. major). We have only 
three grades of nobility here, nor is there any trace else of more. 
The tenure of land is the usual Celtic one, but the only word of 
definite import we get is dabach or davock, four ploughlands, a 
term peculiar to Pictland, though extended slightly in feudal 
times to the West Coast and Isles. We see, therefore, that the 
older Pictish system underlies the Gaelic kingdom of Scotland. 

Another serious point, whose significance was lost by Skene, 
and found only too well by Prof Rhys, is the Pictish rule of 
succession, or the marriage system. The succession to the 
throne (Bede) and to property (Irish writers) lay in the females ; 
that is to say, a man succeeded to the throne because his 
mother was the previous king's daughter or sister. The king's 
brother was his heir, and failing him, his sister's son. It was 
the female side that was royal. A glance at the king list given 
above shows this : no son succeeds a father, but a brother often 
succeeds a brother. The fathers, too, were often outsiders : 
Talorgan, son of Enfrid, Prince of Bernicia, and called cousin of 
Egfrid (686) ; Brude, son of Bili, King of Strathclyde ; Gart- 
nait, son of Domhnall, Donald being likely a Scotic prince. 
This system, where maternity alone is regarded as certain, holds 
a low view of marriage, and is at present found only among un- 
civilised races. Caesar knew of the existence in Britain of 


promiscuous marriage ; Dion tells us that the wife of Argento- 
coxos, a Caledonian, acknowledged promiscuity among the 
high-born ; and Bede explains the system of his day — that the 
Picts got their wives from the Scots on condition of the succes- 
sion to the throne being through the females. 

Here we have a custom palpably belonging to a non-Aryan 
race, not to speak of a non-Celtic race. It must therefore be 
due to the customs of the previous inhabitants still surviving 
among the Celts ; the vanquished here took captive their victors. 
Whether the Pictish language was also influenced by the 
previous one it is hard to say ; but the influence could not be 
much, because Celtic civilisation was much higher than the 
native one, and borrowing would be unnecessary. 

To sum up the argument we cannot do better than quote 
Prof Mackinnon's criticism on Dr. Skene's position : — " The 
question cannot, however, be settled on such narrow lines as 
these [Pictish if non-Gaelic would have left remains, and an 
interpreter was only wanted twice.] The questions of blood 
and language must always be kept distinct. Anthropology and 
archaeology may hereafter yield concrete evidence which will be 
decisive of this matter. As things are, the following facts must 
be kept in the forefront. Among the Picts, succession was 
through the female. This custom is unknown among the Celts ; 
it is, so far as we know, non-Aryan. Again, Bede regarded 
Pictish as a separate language. The Gael of Ireland looked 
upon the Picts or Cruithnig, to use the native term, as a people 
different from themselves. Cormac, the first Gaelic lexico- 
grapher, gives one or two Pictish words, quoting them as foreign 
words, at a time when presumably Pictish was still a living 
language. The Norsemen called the Pentland Firth Pettland, 
i.e., Pictland Fjord, while the Minch was Skottland Fjord. Mr. 
Whitley Stokes, after examining all the words in the old records 
presumably Pictish, says: 'The foregoing list of names and 
words contains much that is still obscure ; but on the whole it 
shows that Pictish, so far as regards its vocabulary, is an Indo- 
European and especially Celtic speech. Its phonetics, so far as we 
can ascertain them, resemble those of Welsh rather than of Irish.' " 
Celtic scholars of the first rank who have pronounced on the 
matter are all agreed that Pictish was not Gaelic, as Skene held. 


402 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 


Page 2, second last line. Buellan is another form of Boyle. 

Page 3, line 17. For Hamilcar read Himilco. 

Page 4, line 10. There is no distinction between Albiones and Britanni. 
Albion originally meant all Britain ; it is the Irish that restricted the name 
to Scotland. 

Page 9, line 9. \'ecturiones, possibly a misreading for Verturiones 
later Fortren. 

Page 21. Gift of lona, according to native annals, was made by King 
Conall of Dalriada. Bede is here mistaken. For the extent of the power 
of the Gael, see Excursus above, p. 386. Strabo's " Islands of the Picts " 
is poetic license. The older Argyle stretched to Lochbroom, and in Norse 
times the Minch was Sl'o/\and Fjord. 

Page 23. Picts, Piccardach, Pictores, Picti, &c. Dr. Skene's attempted 
distinction in these names is not supported by the facts, and it finds no place 
in Celtic Scotland. 

Page 25, line 5. Read " Eochaid larlaithi rex Cruithne moritur." The 
Cruithnig meant were those of Ireland. 

Page 26. The Pictish Succession. See Excursus. The succession 
among the Scots was Patriarchal, but the king or chief was elective by the 
nobles. A king's successor was appointed during his lifetime, and was 
called the Tanist, which really means the Second. He was usually brother 
of the king, and generally gave way before the king's son, if the latter 
was of age. 

Pages 30-43. The Scottish Conquest. Here Dr. Skene declines to 
follow the Latin Chronicles for the Dalriad kings of the 8th century, and 
puts his faith in a poem called the " Albanic Duan," a monkish exercise of 
unknown date (professing to be written in ]\Ialcolm Canmore's reign, and 
calling Macbeth " renowned" !), and of little value. This is unfortunate, for 
Dr. Skene has misread the plain Chronicle history of Dalriada. The Duan 
confuses Dungal, son of Selbach (circ. 735), with Dungal, son of Ewen 
(circ. 835), and places Alpin, the successor of the latter, as successor to the 
former, thus killing off Alpin in 743 instead of 843. Dungal and Alpin are 
•the immediate predecessors of Kenneth the Conqueror in reality. Would it 
be believed that Skene actually places them like the Albanic Duan, one 
hundred years earlier, and closes the record of Dalriad kings for the next 
hundred years, regarding the kings in the lists, even in the Albanic Duan, as 
inserted by the monkish Chroniclers to fill the vacant gap? Yet so it is ! 
Pinkerton, before him, performed the same feat. The reason in both cases 
is the same — to get rid of the Dalriad Scots and their Conquest. Nor was 
there material wanting to make the suppression of the Dalriad kingdom 
plausible. Angus MacFergus, King of P'ortrenn, waded his way to the 
Pictish throne through blood—" a sanguinary tyrant," as a Saxon chronicle 

AND note;s] of SCOTLAND 403 

calls him. For an outrage on his son he invaded Dalriada and captured 
Dungal, King of Lorn, and possibly of Dalriada also, in 735, and in 740 he 
gave Dalriada a "smiting." In the same year a battle was fought in Ireland 
between the Cruithnig and Dalriads of that country. Skene transfers this 
fight to Galloway somehow, and manages to kill in it Alpin, the Dalriad 
King that appears then in the Albanic Duan. (A late Chronicle has it that 
the real Alpin fell in Galloway.) With the death of the king, the kingdom 
of Dalriada falls under Angus's sway, and it remains evermore Pictish — so 
Skene. The real truth is different. Angus's invasions were of no more 
moment than his invasions of the Britons, who in 749 inflicted heavy 
slaughter on the Picts, and the significant remark is made by the annalist — 
" Wane of Angus's kingdom " — a remark which Dr. Skene never saw. It 
occurs in Hennessy's new edition of the Annals of Ulster. Skene makes 
Angus a great king and conquering hero to the end (760). While he dies as 
" King of the Picts," his successor (his brother) dies as " King of Fortrenn." 
This dynasty had shrunk to its original measure of power ; and with it also 
tumble the theories built on it by Pinkerton and Skene. Later writers 
while accepting Skene's views that there was no Scottish Conquest, have 
usually refused to follow him in his suppression of Dalriada and its kings 
in 740. King Aed Finn fought with the Pictish King in Fortrenn in 767, 
a fact which Skene finds it hard to explain away. Aed's death is also 
recorded in the Annals — 777 ; his brother's in 780. In the Latin list given 
o" P- 2)7)1 the first two names should be deleted, and for Eogan should be 
read Eochaidb, who was father of Alpin, who was father of Kenneth the 
Conqueror. The conquest of the Picts cannot be clearly explained from our 
present materials. There was constant dynastic war for the last generation 
of kings — attempts mostly to break the Pictish rule of succession ; and it 
is notable how Scottic names are very prominent. The Danes harassed the 
Picts north and east. The Scots, pressed out of the Isles by the Norse, 
pressed eastward in their turn. The Scots also had the Church and the 
culture very much their own ; lona was undoubtedly the religious centre 
till the Norse caused a change to be made. Both in Pictland and in 
Strathclyde Gaelic ultimately and completely wiped out the original Pictish 
and British. The west coast from the Clyde to the Solway was, in the nth 
century, " as Gaelic as the Peat." See further the Editor's paper on 
"Skene,'' in Inverness Gaelic Soc. Trans., vol. xxi. 

Page 36, line 6 from bottom. The Pictish prince of Kintyre ! What an 
inversion of facts is here ! 

Page 41, line 2. Cruithen tuath meant the Pictish nation (Pictavia), not 
the Northern Picts. There was no distinction whatever between northern 
and southern Picts ; it is all a delusion, founded on Bede's reference to 
the Grampians as a physical division of Pictavia. 

Page 45, line 7 from bottom. Welsh G^oyddyl FJichti proves nothing ; 
the authority is too late, the word Gwyddyl being phonetically very un- 

Page 46, line 3 from end. The word dobur is common to Welsh and old 
Gaelic. It proves nothing either way. 

Page 50, line 20. The quotation about Aed Finn's laws, promulgated by 

404 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

the Gael at Forteviot, surely speaks against Skene's views, and implies 

Page 53, line 2. The Mormaor of Moray was often by the Irish Annalists 
loosely called ri Alban. This Malcolm was not the King Malcolm (1005- 


Page 53, line 16. Read " Mormaer Moreb," Mormaor of Moray. For 

Mormaer see Excursus above. 

Chapter V. The Norse Invasions, &c. Here Skene tries to write the 
history of Scotland from 843 to 1057 from new sources, viz., the Norse Sagas 
checked by the Irish Annals, He never refers to the native Chronicles, 
which during this period are no longer mere lists of kings. The results of 
Skene's departure from native sources are here again disastrous. The chap- 
ter may well be omitted in reading the book, for it is entirely misleading. 
The facts are correctly given in Celtic Scotland, where Dr. Skene makes the 
Chronicles his basis, and adds interesting particulars from the Norse Saga. 
But even in Celtic Scotland he failed to appreciate the full force of the Norse 
Invasions. For a period of over four hundred years the Norse were in pos- 
session of the Western Isles and a fringe of the mainland (Kintyre, &c.), and 
for shorter periods they held Argyle in all its extent to Lochbroom (Dalir), 
Sutherland, and Caithness. With less firm hand they held Ross to the 
Beauly Valley (Dingwall, "County Meeting Field," being still the Norse 
name of the capital of Ross). The place names prove this. The Hebrides 
could have no Gaelic left spoken in them. The place names in Lewis are in 
the proportion of 4 Noise to i Gaelic. This surely speaks for itself. In 
Islay, however, the proportion of Gaelic is to Norse as 2 to i. It is certain that 
Gaelic had to reconquer (if it was there before) the Hebrides, Skye and 
Sutherland (in great part). The ethnological characteristics of the people of 
these parts fully bear this out, as Dr. Beddoe shows. The Norse element is 
very strong throughout. 

Page 60. The Norse settled in the Isles early in the 9th century. 

Page 61, line 11. ^'■Native chiefs" ; there were scarcely any left. It was 
Norse chiefs who rebelled against Harald. 

Page 63, line 22. The " Native chiefs " could scarcely then have recovered 
Sutherland. The Sagas were unfortunately written when Caithness became 
part of Scotland (i 196-1200). 

Page 65, line 4. There were no " Midland Cruithne." See correction of 
this mistake at note on p. 25 above. The elaborate argument about the 
Ptolemy names and those of the loth century (pp. 65-69) is useless and 

Page 71, line 14. The Malcolm that succeeded in 1005 to the throne of 
Scotland was Malcolm Mac Kenneth, who reigned 30 years. The other 
Malcolm was only Mormaor or King of Moray. This error is acknowledged 
by Dr. Skene in Celtic Scotland, i. p. 400. 

Pages 69-76. All these pages are from Norse Sagas, and as given here 
are useless as history. Macbeth's connection with Thorfinn and the Norse 
is a matter of doubl. His name never appears in the Sagas. The name 
Mac-beth, Gaelic Mac-bethadh, means "Son of Life." Dr. Skene evidently 
thought that there was a Gaelic personal name Beth, and he would not allow 


that Comes Beth mentioned twice in the Chartulary of Scone is manifestly a 
mistake for Comes Heth, of Moray [Celtic Scotland, iii. 62). He is the ancestor 
of the famous Mac-Eths, and was married to the daughter of King Lulach. 
The name is Aed, "fire," a favourite old name, later Aodh, Englished as 
Hugh and lost, but still living in the surname Mackay and Mackie. 

Page 79, &c. Thorfinn's mainland power is vastly exaggerated in the 
Sagas. Its southern limit was Beauly Valley, where the Norse names fail. 
He had also the Kingdom of the Isles and the West Coast fringe (old Argyle 
or Dalir, as they called it). 

Page 81, line 21. Donald Mac Malcolm here mentioned is, of course, 
King Malcolm's own son. 

Page 81, line 28. For Mortlach, see Celtic Scotland, ii. 379. 

Page 81, Ime 3 from bottom. This is the same Donald as in I, 21. King 
Maelsnechtan is in the Annals ri Moreb. His father Lulach was Macbeth's 
successor for half a year. 

Page 82, line 4. Caithness, Sutherland, and old Argyle were still Norse 
or under Norse rule. It was King William who really annexed Caithness and 
Sutherland to the Scottish Crown ; and Argyle was finally subdued in 1222. 

Page 82. Donald Bane was " elected " king. He was at first tajiist. 

Page 85. Ladmann or Lament, son of Donald, was slain by the Moray 
men. He was really son of the Donald on p. Si, already mentioned. See 
Celtic Scotland, i. 453. The argument is therefore wrong. 

Page 86. Too much is made of the " Boy of Egremont." The conspiracy 
of the six earls is unexplained. See Celtic Scotland, iii. 66, where the Boy is 
cautiously suggested. 

Page 90, line 13. Dr. Skene here suggests that the fall of the Macdonalds 
meant the fall of the Highland clans. Why, it was the rise of the modern 
Highland clans. It freed the great clans of Maclean, Macleod, Mackay, 
Cameron, and especially, Mackenzie, not to mention minor clans, who in the 
15th century all freely got Crown charters independent of the Macdonald 

Page 96, line 26. Oae of the greatest factors in the change of the High- 
lands from mediaivalism to more modern habits of thought was the inflow of 
Presbyterian ideals in religion. Before the '45 the Highlanders were from a 
religious standpoint neither good Episcopalians nor Presbyterians at all. 
Indeed, they resisted Presbyterianism. A religious revival rose in the last 
half of the i8th century and spread slowly all over the north, which assured 
the success of Presbytery. 

Chapter VII. This chapter is rendered almost valueless by later research, 
which is given in full in Celtic Scotland, iii. chaps, iv. to viii. 

Page 100. Modern Highland clans have been feudal in succession and 
tenure of land ; but the kinship feeling still remained. 

Page 102, line 16. The officer of Engineers was Captain Burt. His book 
was reprinted lately. 

Page 103. Law of Succession. Dr. Skene says in Celtic Scotland thdX 
the Irish law of succession was "hereditary in the family, but elective in the 
individual." This has been shown already. In this work he confuses 
Pictish and Gaelic succession together. 


Page 104. Tanistry. The tanist or next heir was appointed during the 
king's or chief's lifetime, to avoid confusion at his death. 

Page 106. Gavel. The rule of dividing the property equally among the 
sons is really not Gadelic nor Scottic. It was very English, however, before 
feudalism came in. The case of Somarled of the Isles and his descendants 
to the 15th century is peculiar. It was the ruin of a mighty house. 
Originally, the chief had his mensal lands, and the rest of the tribe-land 
belonged to the tribe. But ever since the English Conquest (1172) the 
old Irish and Gadelic system became corrupt, because the sub-chiefs stuck 
to the lands assigned them, and latterly got charters. In Scotland, the chief 
of a Highland clan for the last five hundred years succeeds by primo- 
geniture, and it cannot be held by a bastard (contrary to the old system), nor 
can it pass through females. This is purely feudal and also Salic. 

Page III, line 12. Native men, or Na/ivl, were simply the bondsmen on 
the estates. Gradually they were set free, and by the i6th century the term 
is used in the sense of " kindly men "—men allied by kin to the chief. This 
is especially the case in bonds of manrent. 

Page 114. The Toiseach. Dr. Skene has here fallen into a grievous 
error. The toiseach was the head of the clan ; its earliest translation into 
Latin was '■'■ capitaiinr later "chief" in English. The theory about the 
oldest cadet being called toiseach is probably due to Skene's view of the 
Mackintoshes as oldest cadets of clan Chattan. The derivation of 
toiseachdorachd, "coronership," is toiseach, baillie, and deoraidh, a stranger; 
his first duty was doubtless to attend to incomers into the clan, and other 
" foreign office" matters. It also exists in Manx, tosiaokt-yoarrey. 

Page 118, Chapter VHI. Dr. Skene's account of the Celtic Church here 
is an excellent piece of pioneer work. Bishop Reeves later put the whole 
question of the Celtic Church on a scientific basis ; and Dr. Skene's second 
volume of Celtic Scotland is entirely devoted to the Church. It is his best 
piece of work. It was a monastic Church purely, the abbot being the 
religious head of the " diocese," or rather of the tribal district, for the Celtic 
Church was tribal. The abbot might only be a priest, as at lona usually. 
Bishops had no dioceses ; they were attached to the abbey for ordination 
purposes, and were numerous. Skene fails here to grasp this point. The 
use of the term Culdee for the Columban clergy is unfortunate. The 
Culdees belonged to the later and debased state of the Celtic Church 
(900-1200). They were first anchorites, who later clubbed into 13, still 
retaining their separate booths or houses and also lands. Later, of course, 
they were mairied. With great difificulty the Church reform party of the 
Ceannmore dynasty got them to become canons, and in the 13th century 
they practically disappeared. 

Page 121, line 8. Ireland was, except Dalaraidhe, all Scottic ; but it was 
traditionally divided into two halves— Leth Moga and Leth Chuinn, Mog 
Nuadat's Half (south), and Conn's Half (north). These were two kings — 
somewhat mythical — of the 2nd century A.D. 

Page 122. St. Patrick and Palladius are really one person, the person 
meant being called in British Sucat, " good at war " (W. hygad), translated 
into Grccco-Latin as Palladius (Pallas, goddess of war), and naming himself 


as Patricius, because he was of noble birth. His sphere in Ireland was the 
north, and the later Romanisers make him bishop of Armagh. He was 
a Briton, but no relation of St. Martin of Tours (p. 126, 1. 22). 

Page 126, line 5 from end. The monks were laymen under monastic 
rule, as usual ; but bishops were also monks, and nothing more. It was not, 
as Bede says, necessary that the abbot should be a bishop. 

Page 130, line 3. There really was no episcopacy at Armagh to transfer 
to lona. 

Page 132, line 21. There were no dioceses apart from the monasteries. 
There was only one bishop for Scotland — the Bishop of St. Andrews — 
till King Alexander's time. They really were not needed, as there were no 
dioceses till the Celtic Church fully conformed to Rome. 

Page 134. The Ossianic Poetry. It is needless to enter upon the ques- 
tion of the authenticity of Macpherson's Ossian. Celtic scholars are agreed 
that it is all Macpherson's own work, both English and Gaelic. Indeed, the 
Gaelic was translated from the English, and is for the most part very 
ungrammatical and unidiomatic. These very faults — showing its extremely 
modern character — have been always regarded as marks of antiquity. 
Ordinary Gaelic readers do not understand it at all. The English is better 
done, because it is the original. He has little or no foundation in Gaelic 
legend for his so-called poems : he used only about a dozen stories— and 
these, too, much abused — of the old literature, forming only a very small 
fraction of the English work. The latest scholarly views on the subject may 
be found in Dr. Ludwig Stern's paper on the "Ossianic Heroic Legends," 
translated in the 22nd vol. of the Inverness Gaelic Soc. Trans. Dr. Skene 
makes no reference to Finn or Ossian in Celtic Scotland. Again here he 
confuses the older Ulster with the smaller Ulster, called Ulidia or Dalaraidhe, 
and containing Picts. The list of kings on p. 137 shows to what straits a 
theory drags a man. Macpherson in "Temora" gives a further corrected list. 

Page 138, line iS. The history of Ireland iinknoivti! Why, both Keating 
and O'Flaherty were already published 1 Macpherson used them for the 
1763 volume. 

Page 141, line 23. The Bagpipe: "origin unknown." That is not so. 
It came to Scotland in the 14th century and reached the Highlands in the 
1 6th century, where it was hospitably received. Major (1521) does not 
mention it among Highland musical instruments, but Buchanan, fifty years 
later, says the Highlanders used it for war purposes. They also improved 
it by adding the big drone, whence the " Piob Mhor." It is thoroughly non- 
Gaelic by origin. 

Page 142, Chapter IX. The Highland Dress. About all the information 
possible in regard to the Highland dress is here given ; yet curiously the 
modern Highland dress of plaid and philabeg are not accounted for. The 
old dress was a Csaffron) leine or shirt, a plaid thrown over the shoulders and 
brought to the knees all round in plaits and also belted, a bonnet (sometimes), 
and brogues made of skm, sometimes with hose ; knees always bare. This 
is really a Southern Europe dress, not the "garb of old Gaul," which was 
breeches. The modern kilt is merely the lower half of the breacan or feile 
cut off from the upper, a jacket being made of the upper. When this 

4o8 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

improvement took place — when the kilt or philabeg was invented — is not 
known to a hundred years. It was during the Lowland wars of the 17th and 
18th centuries. Some have even asserted the improvement was made in the 
early iSth century at the instigation of the Iron Companies that then bought 
the Highland woods. 

Page 157. The Seven Provinces of Scotland. Dr. Skene makes too 
much of these seven earldoms. It is possible that in or about 800 a.d. the 
Pictish Kingdom was divided into the seven provinces mentioned. The sons 
of Cruithne are named in the best MSS. as follows ; — 

Cait, Ce, Cirig [Circinn], a warlike clan, 
Fib, Pidach, Fotla, Fdrtrenn, 

Cait is Caithness ; Circin is Magh-Chircinn or Mearns ; Fib is Fife ; Fothla 
is Athole ; Fortrenn is Menteith. But what are Ce and Fidach ? Evidently 
Mar and Moray. Ce may appear in Keith. 

Page 158, note. Gouerin is surely Cowrie. Skene's Garmoran is a 
continual nuisance. 

Page 163, the lists. The attempt to explain the 30 Brudes m this way is 
more than obsolete. 

Page 176, line 21. The Northern Picts in the 9th and loth centuries 
were overrun by Scots and Norse-men, and made less Pictish than any part 
of Scotland. The Norse-men had the Province of Cat ; the Scots had the 
West Coast, and were masters of the Mormaership of Moray. He allows the 
conquest of the Southern Picts by the Scots. Consequently, the chiefs of the 
older Highland clans can well claim to be either Scots or Norse. 

Page 177, line 11 from bottom. "Barbarous Scottish hordes"! Why, 
the Scots were the most learned people of Western Europe then ! The Picts 
were the barbarians. 

Page 176, line 12. The 14150 MS. Dr. Skene has made much use of this 
MS.— overmuch use. As far as the Macdonald genealogies go, the MS. 
reproduces the Book of Ballimote, and otherwise depends on that work. 
Where it stands alone, as in the case of clans Chattan, Cameron, Mackenzie, 
Ross, Matheson, Macfee, Macgregor, Maclaren, Mackay (of Perthshire), and 
Maclagans, it has to be used with caution, even as late as 1400. The 
genealogies end from 1400 to 1450. The IMS. is now undecipherable, owing 
to the employment of chemicals by its first editors. 

Page 181, line 5. The MS. here alluded to is the famous Dean of 
Lismore's Book, published in 1S62. 

Pages 184, 185. John Elder's views. This rascally turncoat tells Henry 
VIII. that the Redshanks were Picts, and that they were racially the old 
stock descended from the mythical Brutus, and hence naturally belonged to 
Ikitain and England. The story of descent from Scota, or from the Scots, 
he repudiates. In fact he takes up Edward I.'s position in his letter to the 
Pope about his claims on Scotland ; the Scots, with Bruce at their head, 
claimed independence as being from Ireland, descended of Scota. Dr. 
Skene favours the English view I The two stories aie myths ; they are not 
even traditions. 

Page 186, line 16. The extraordinary statement made here that we first 
hear of the Scota descent in 1320 in the letter to the Pope is contradicted by 


many documents, and all Irish history. See Picts and Scots Chronicles 

Page 187, line 4 from end. The idea of " Highland chief" was first trans- 
lated by "capitanus"; it implies nothing as to descent. 

Chapter II. The G.a.ll-G.\idheil. As already said, these were the 
mixed Norse and Gaels dwelling in the Western Isles and along the west coast 
from Galloway to Cape Wrath, afterwards reduced to the Kingdom of Man 
and the Isles. The Gael portion seem to have turned heathen, thinking Thor 
more powerful than Christ. The Hebrides were completely Norse. The term 
Vikingr Skotar of course applies to the Gaels among these Gall-Gaidheil ; 
but the Norse were by far the more numerous in the combined nationality, if 
it may be so termed. The Gall-Gaidheil never held any part of Perthshire — 
Dunkeld or any other place (p. 192). 

Page 191. Battle of Brunanburgh. There were two Anlafs present. 
Anlaf Cuaran, son of Sitric, son of Imar, claimant to Deira, and Anlaf, son of 
Godfred, King of Dublin and Cumberland. The former was Norse paternally, 
despite a Saga reference. See Skene himself on the point in Celtic Scotland, 

'• 353- 
Page 197. So.MERLED. He was "regulus of Argyll," which the Norse 
called Dalir, and his family the Dalverja. This is simply the old name 
Dalriada, which the Norse Sagas claim to ha\e been often conquered and 
held by their Kings and Earls. Somerled's name is Norse — Sumarlidhi, 
"summer-slider," that is, "mariner." He was son of Gille-brighde, son of 
Gille-adamnan. These two names are thoroughly Gaelic. The genealogy 
then gives "son of Solam (Solomund?) son of Imergi, son of Suibne, son of 
Nialgusa." Imergi or ]\Iergad is conjectured to be the kinglet lehmarc who 
submitted to Canute in 1031, Macbeth being the other. On the whole, 
Somerled may be regarded as a Gael ruling independently over the mixed 
Norse and Gael of Argyleshire, the Gael being there predominant in 
numbers, though not in martial activity. In Somerled's genealogy is Suibne, 
son of Nialgusa. Skene makes him Suibne, son of Kenneth (p. 198), to fit 
his Suibne, son of Kenneth, King of the Gall-Gaidheil, who died in 1034. 
He deliberately charges the genealogist with here tampering with the facts ; 
but really why should the genealogist do so? He had gone back far 
enough, in all conscience. This Kenneth is made King of Galloway in 
Skene's " Picts and Scots " ! 

Page 199, line 25. The MS. here referred to is the Red Book of Clan- 
ranald (Reliquice Cclticcc, vol. ii. p. 154). 

Page 200, line 17. The date here should be 1135. David's conquest of 
Man, Bute, and Arran is not mentioned in Celtic Scotland, and seems 
mythical. David had some claim oxer Kintyre as monastic charters show 
(Orig. Par. vol. ii. part i. p. i). 

Page 200, line 7 from end. The sons of JNIalcolm Mac-Heth were 
nephews of Somerled (nepotes then meant nephew). Malcolm himself was 
brother to Angus of Moray, whose father Aed was husband of King Lulach's 
daughter. Malcolm's history is mixed up with that of an impostor — Bishop 
Wymund of Man — who asserted that he was Malcolm Mac-Heth. The 
surname is now Mackay. See further note to p. 279. 


Page 202, line 24. Somcrlcd was slain before any battle occurred by one 
of his own men in his tent at night. The Sudreys included all the Scottish 
Isles on the West Coast ; the historical expression is " Sudreys and Man," 
still known in the title of the " Bishop of Sodor and Man." 

Page 202, line 6 from end. No grandson of the name of Somerled 
succeeded Somerled. His power and lands were divided between his three 
sons by Ragnhild, daughter of King Olave of the Isles and Man. Dugall, 
the eldest, received Lorn, Morvern, and Mull ; Reginald got Kintyre, Cowall, 
and Islay ; while Angus, the third son, received lands further north, of which 
he and his family were dispossessed by Reginald {Celtic Scoi/and, iii. 293). 

Page 205, line 3. " Lochabcr held by the chief of Clan Chattan "—this is 
pure tradition, and wrong at that. The sheriffship here meant is Balliol's 
division in 1292 (GV/Zr Scotland, iii. 88-89). 

Page 205, line 20. Reginald never had Lorn or any of Dugall's possession. 
See notes on Clan Dugall. 

Page 208, line 12. King Ewen of Argyle did not die without issue. See 
Celtic Scotland, iii. 294. 

Page 209, line 2. The two Reginalds. If historians are careless or par- 
tisan, it is easy to confuse Reginald of Man and the Isles with Reginald of 
Islay and Kintyre. Reginald of Man was a great \'iking, and undertook the 
government of Caithness for William the Lion, about 1 196. This is distinctly 
stated by the Orkney Saga and implied by Roger of Hoveden, who calls 
Reginald King of Man, but makes him son of Somerled, which he was not. 
Skene, even in Celtic Scotland, is wrong on this point, and so are all the Clan 
Donald historians. 

Page 209, line i \. Roderick was not the eldest son ; that honour belongs 
to Donald, ancestor and name-giver to Clan Donald {Celtic Scotland, iii. 293). 

Page 21 [, Chapter III. Clan Donald. Dr. Skene so entirely changed 
his views on the Macdonald history and genealogy that Celtic Scotland, iii. 
293-300, must be consulted. There he a\-owedly follows Gregory, the most 
level-headed of clan historians. The name Donald is Celtic : Dumno-valo-s, 
'' World-ruler," the same as the Gaulish Dumnorix. Reginald or Ronald is 
Norse : " Ruler by the Gods" ; his mother bore a feminine form of the same 
name still known as Raonaid. Donald was eldest son of Reginald. 

Page 219, line 15. John's sons by Amy were John, Reginald, and Godfrey. 
John died early and his family failed ; Reginald was the second son and 
regent of the Isles in John's old age and Donald's youth. Godfrey appears 
with the title "Lord of Uist," but he too disappears. His son was not 
Alexander Mac Reury of Garmoran ; such juggling with names might do in 
1837, not now. 

Page 220. Battle of Harlaw. There is f;ir too much importance 
attached to this battle. As Earl of Ross, Donald held estates in Buchan, 
which his descendants afterwards held, and it is far more probable that the 
attack on Aberdeenshire was largely due to the desire of recovering his posi- 
tion there, as joint Earl of Buchan. 

Page 223, line 6 from bottom. Donald I}alloch was a youth of 18, son of 
John Mor of Islay, cousin of Alexander of Ross. Skene here confuses him 
with Donald, second son of Reginald ; this Donald, who died about 1420, 


was ancestor of Glengarry. It is a great blunder. Donald Balloch lived to 
a good old age in Ireland and the Isles. His betrayal was a ruse ; another 
man's head was sent to the king. 

Page 235, line lo. Macdonalds of Keppoch. These were descended 
from Angus, illegitimate son of Alaster Carrach. They had no right to any 
lands ; they simply squatted on lands granted by Alexander of Isles to 

Page 237, line 9. Alexander Macreury of Garmoran cannot be trans- 
mogrified into Alexander MacGorrie. Phonetics are against it. MacReury, 
no doubt, was a descendant of the old M'Rorys of Garmoran, the last 
legitimate heir being Amy M'Rorie, wife of John of Isles and mother of 
Reginald of Garmoran, ancestor of Clanranald. Alexander M'Reury was a 
claimant to the lordship ; and he, with another claimant (?) John MacArthur, 
got hanged for their conduct. 

Page 239. Clanranald and Glengarry. In this earlier work, Skene 
allowed his connection with the Glengarry family to warp his judgment o\er 
undoubted facts. Reginald's eldest son was Allan ; Donald was a younger 
son. From Allan are descended Clanranald, who, to prove the truth of this, 
had the lands of Garmoran. The early history of the Glengarry branch is 
very obscure — -an obscurity out of which the family emerged by the heir, 
about 1 5 10, marrying Sir Donald of Lochalsh's sister, who was co-heiress of 
Sir Donald. As regards the right of chiefship between Clanranald and 
Glengarry, it has to be borne in mind that, according to purists, a Highland 
clan chief cannot be a bastard, e\-en though legitimated, nor can he claim 
chiefship through the females. Unfortunately for Clanranald, their most 
famous chief and ancestor was John Moydartach, a bastard legitimated 


Page 242. Clan Dug.\ll. Skene has here been led into a most 
unfortunate blunder by MS. 1450. Skene holds that King Ewen of Argyle 
died without male issue, because the 1450 MS. happens to drop him in the 
genealogy. The second blunder is to say that the MacDougalls are 
descended of Dugall, son of Reginald. The M.S. of 1450 and the Rook of 
Ballimote both make this blunder ; but the Book of Lecan gives the true 
genealogy under the heading of " Clan Somairli," for Dugall was really 
Somerled's eldest son and therefore head of the house of Somerled. John of 
Lorn and his father, Alexander de Argadia, were the heads of Somerled's 
house in Bruce's time. Alexander was son of King Ewen, son of Duncan, 
son of Dugall, son of Somerled. This is the genealogy given in Celtic 
Scotland^ vol. iii. p. 294. It also agrees with the facts, for it would be 
otherwise difficult to account for Alexander de Ergadia or Lorn. The 
reference to Cupar Abbey Chartulary is also unfortunate, for Duncan de 
Lornyn here adduced was Duncan of Lornie, near Perth ! The name 
Dugall is for Dubh-ghall, "Black Foreigner," that is, Dane. It is on a par 
with Norman, Frank, the Norman French Allan (Alemann) and others, 
formed from national names. 

Page 247. SlOL GiLLEVRAY. Gillebride rig eilan is a further reading of 
MS. 1450, in the lona Club Transactions, p. 358. In Celtic Scotland, vol. iii, 
p. 473, his place under the guidance of the Irish genealogist Mac Firbis is 

412 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

taken by Flaithbhertach ; and the genealog)' is that of Clan Lament ! The 
connection of King Suibne of Galloway with these mythic names is merely 
fancy. Anradan, or better Anrothan, is not Henry. The Mac Neills are not 
mentioned, nor the Mac Gillevrays in MS. 1450. The latter were an old 
Argyleshire clan ; and a branch of Clan Chattan bore the same name— 
from Gille-bratha, better Maol-br^tha, "Servant of Doom." Gillebride 
could never phonetically become (^illevray. The whole page (247) is a 

i'age 248, line 10. Knapdale in 1292 belonged to the Earl of Menteith 
and was in the sheriffdom of Lorn. It was acquired from the Sweens thirty 
years before as the Paisley charters show. 

Page 248. The Mac Neills. This clan was divided into two branches : 
Mac Neills of Gigha and Castle Sween, and the Mac Neills of Barra. They 
were separate clans historically, and Gregory thinks, from their non-connec- 
tion and from their different armorial bearings, that they are not descended 
from two brothers, but are independent. If there was any chiefship, then 
Gigha family had it, as the quotation on p. 249, line 21, shows, for this Chief 
Torkil in 1530, by the same document, is gifted with the non-entry of Gigha. 
It IS a pity Skene did not quote this fact. An excellent account of the Mac 
Neills of Barra appeared in the Highland N civs {ox 15th December, 1900, 
from the pen of Re\-. A. Maclean Sinclair. Skene is wrong in saying that 
the MS. of 1450 contains any reference to the Mac Neills. It does not 
{Celtic Scotland, iii. p. 473). The name Niall means "champion." 

Page 250. The Mac Lachlans. MS. 1450 derives the Maclachlans, the 
Lamonts, the Clan Somerled (.?), and Mac Ewens of Otter from Aed Alan, 
the Buirche, son of Anradan, descendant of Niall (ilun-dubh, the loth century 
Irish king. The Dedaalan given as father of Ciilchrist is the above Aed 
Alan, whom Skene in Celtic Scotland, iii. 472, regards as a far-away ancestor 
of Gilchrist. Angus Mac Rory, here and on p. 254, was no ancestor of the 
Lamonts, as MS. 1450, revised in Celtic Scotland, iii. 472, will show. The 
name Lachlan is somehow descended from Lochlan, " Norse-land." 

Page 251. Mac Ewen. The Gaelic of Ewen is Eoglian, "well born,'' 
with the same meaning as Eugenius or Eugene. 

Page 252. Siol Eachern. The statement that the Clan Dugall Craignish 
and the Lamonds are of the same stock is justified by the Lamond genealogy 
m MS. 1450, which Skene had misread. Where he gels his "Siol Eachern" 
is not known to the Editor. The Mac Eacherns flourished as a clan-let in 
the first half of the i6th century in Kilblane of Kintyre, the chief having the 
lands of Killelane and others after the forfeiture of the Lord of the Isles. 
Colin Makauchern of Killelane in 1499 was "mayrof fee" for South Kintyre, 
as he was before under the Island lord. The land was lost in 1552 to the 
grasping Lord of Dunivaig. In the first edition of MS. 1450, Skene gives an 
ill-read genealogy of the Mac Eacherns. Eachthigherna means " Horse-lord." 
Page 252. Clan Dugall Craignish. Dugall of Craigins is mentioned in 
1292. In 1361 the heiress Christina parted with his barony, in her sore dis- 
tress, to Colin Cambel, of Lochow, ancestor of the Duke of Argyle. Skene's 
arguments about the early connection of the Macgillivrays, Macinnesses, and 
Clan Dugall are all "in the air"— not even good guesswork. 


Page 253. Clan Lamont. Skene failed to recognise this clan in MS. 
1450 ; hence he does not join them to the Mac Lachlans, &c. They were 
powerful in the 13th century, and too generous to the Church. It is unlikely 
that they bore the name Mac-erchar previous to Mac Lamont, though there 
was a tendency latterly to do so. Anegosius Maccarawer, who submitted to 
Edward I. in 1297, has been claimed as the then chief of Mackintosh, though 
really head of the Laments. The name Lamont is earlier Lagman, a Norse 
name, the same in force and elements as English Law-man. 

Page 256. Atholl. Older Gaelic form, Athihotla or Ath-Fodla, 
"Second Fodla" or Second Ireland, Fodla being one of the names of 
Ireland, and that also of a mythical queen of the same. Atholl is one of the 
old Pictish provinces, and its population represent the best type of the 
Caledonians. Skene here makes it belong to the Gall-Gaidheil — a flat 
impossibility. The Norse never had any power in Atholl. 

Page 256. Abthaxe. The title Abthane, to which Skene here devotes 
several pages, never e.xisted ! The word is the old Gaelic for Abbey-land, 
still preserved in Appin I All this is known in Celtic Scotland^ ii. 343, and in 
vol. i., p. 431, Skene actually criticises Burton for following Fordun in such 
nonsense ! The ingenious arguments about abthane all fall to the ground 
(pp. 257-263). 

Page 264. Clan Donnachie. The name Donchath or Donnchath is 
explained as for Donno-catus "Warrior-lord" or " Brown-warrior," for the 
colour donn meant both. Duno-catus, another old name, makes this doubt- 
ful, for duno {u short) is used in names and means " strength " ; as dumiin, it 
means "town," "fort." 

Page 266, line 9 from bottom. Read Conaing, not Conan. 

Page 270. Clan Pharlan. This clan has nothing to do with Atholl. 
The clan is descended from the Earls of Lennox, as he well shows later. 
These Earls themselves were Celtic, and a Celtic genealogy is given them in 
the older genealogies {Celtic Scotland^ iii. 476) and in MS. 1450, though 
Skene was unable to decipher the genealogy in the 1450 MS., or, indeed, to 
recognise it. The name Ailin in the Gaelic records, Englished, or rather 
Latinised, as Alwyn (us), is native ; it is also old, for Adamnan (700) has it as 
Ailenus. The root is «/, stone (cf. Athelstane, Thorstein, iScc.) The Norman 
Alan is from Breton, and means an Alemann (" All Men " ; cf Frank, Norman, 

Page 271, line ir. Aluin Macarchill appears in the Book of Deer as 
Algune Mac Arcill (8th year of Ua\id's reign), and the man was an East 
Coast— probably Aberdeen — potentate. 

Page 275, line 24. " Andrew Macfarlane does not appear to have had a 
natural title to the chiefship." Why ? Because Sir John Macfarlane is called 
'"'' capitaneiis de Clan Pharlane"; and Skene is satisfied capiianiis or 
" captain " means " cadet chief" Now, captain is the ver}' earliest word for 
" chief" The word chief did not then naturally mean what was known as a 
Highland chief The 1587 Act puts "captain" before either "chief" or 
"chieftain." See p. 291, 1. 13 from bottom, for proper use of "captain." 
There is no break in the Macfarlane genealogy (so Celtic Scotland^ iii. 329). 
This is history as "she was wrote" in 1837. The name Parian, as he says. 

414 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

is an adaptation of Bartholomew ; just as the same family were fond of the 
name Absolo;/, and derived therefrom AI'Auslan, a sept of the Buchanans. 

Page 278, line 2 from end. For "Alhic Croeb" read " Moreb," that is, 
Morays — dat. pi. of //////>, sea. 

Page 279. Mac-Heth. Much nonsense has been written about Malcolm 
Mac-Heth, whose life history is complicated by the fact that an impostor, 
Wymund, Bishop of Man, tried to act his part. The name Heth is the most 
ill-used syllable I know of It appears as Head, Ed, Eth ; the Gaelic form 
of all these monstrosities can easily be identified. It is the very favourite 
name of Aed or Aodh, later, translated as Hugh. Mac-Heth is an old form 
of Mackay, the Galwegian Mackie ! Earl Ed is one of David's seven earls, 
and was, of course. Earl of Moray. He was married to King Lulach's 
daughter, and was thus father of Angus, Earl of Moray, slain in 11 30. 
Malcolm Mac-Heth was another son of Aed, and he continued the war. He 
married Somerled's sister, and was thus the father of the Mac-Heth nephews 
whom Somerled supported in 1153. Malcolm Mac-Heth was reconciled to 
the king in 1 157, and made Earl of Ross. The impostor's share in the whole 
story is not clear. Mac-Heth was not a family name ; surnames had not yet 
started, or were only starting in Southern Scotland. Mac-Heth was used, 
like a surname, to denote the claim on the Earldom of Moray by the 
descendants of Aed. 

Page 282. Conquest of Moray. Skene makes far too much of this 
Conquest of Moray, and his two Gillespics, though named by Fordun, can 
hardly represent the old families of Mac-Heth and Mac-William. The whole 
of p. 283 is in niibibus. 

Page 284. The Clan Chattan, which is so named from St. Catan or 
little Cat. Skene's views on this clan are vitiated by the fact that willy-nilly 
he antedates the Macphersons, who, probably, did not belong to the clan in a 
genealogical sense at all, being in the same position as the Macgillivrays and 
other adherents. Besides, the Macphersons are unknown till 1594 Shaw, the 
historian of Moray, could not give them a genealogy ; and the genealogy in 
Douglas' Baronage is an audacious manufacture. It is usual to regard the Clan 
Chattan as coming from Lochaber, but MS. 1450, which, by the way, identifies 
the Mackintoshes with Clan Chattan, points rather to a Moray connection, 
and possibly a relationship, as far as Mackintosh is concerned, with the 
family of Macbeth — the Mormaors of Moray. Skene's identification of Tead 
(Head in 1837) of that genealogy with Heth of Moray is impossible, if the 
name is Tead, and unlikely anyway. MS. 1450 has two genealogies of Clan 
Chattan. The first one is undoubtedly the Mackintosh genealogy, or an 
attempt at it. The second genealogy is quite a puzzle, for it does not agree 
in any way with the Macpherson genealogy. Both end in Gillicatan, 
significantly 14 generations back, which would place that worthy about the 
year 1000. Skene forces the second genealogy on the Macphersons, who 
don't want it I They have one of their own already ! 

Page 287. The Battle at the North Inch of Perth. The clans who 
fought at Perth in 1396 were the Clan Shaw (Clann Headh) or Mackintosh, 
and a clan called Quhele. We do not exactly know what this clan was ; it is 
mentioned in 1587. It must have possessed the uplands of Badenoch ;^but 


it gave way before the Macphersons, ivho came from Strathnairn originally. 
In Celtic Scotland Skene makes the combatants to be the Mackintoshes and 
Camerons. This is the usual view now, but it is not correct. No early 
Macphersons had names like Sha Ferchar-son. In the later work Skene 
gives the Macphersons as ancestor, Duncan Persoun (1438), a personage 
imprisoned with the Lord of the Isles. Their own genealogy names the 
Parson as Muireach, and his date, according to the length of their genuine 
genealogy, is about 1400, thus : Andrew, in Cluny (1591), son of Ewen, son 
of Donald Og (1562 ?), son of Donald Dall, son of Donald Mor (his brother 
Bean of Brin appears in 1490), son of Duncan (Skene's Parson !), son of 
Kenneth, son of Ewen Ban, son of Murdoch Parson, whence Clann Mhuirich 
(about 1380). This Murdoch was great grandson of Gillicatan, who flourished 
400 years before I He was also great grandfather of Eva of Clan Chattan, 
who married Angus Mackintosh in 1291, and brought him the Clan Chattan 
lands and chiefship I 

As a matter of fact Skene himself hit upon the truth. It was 
Huntly that raised the Cluny chiefs to check Mackintosh's rising 
power. The Strathnairn Macphersons he bands in 1543 against Mackintosh, 
and in 1591 he bands the Badenoch Macphersons. Besides, they were 
Huntly's tenants. In 1603, Andrew Macpherson iti (not of) Cluny had land 
to the extent of " 3 pleuchs in Laggan," of which he was tacksman. And this 
is the family that Mr Andrew Lang, following Skene's 1837 vagaries, ranks 
as royal ! Skene's argument about "captain" of Clan Chattan gets a good 
back-hander on p. 291, 1. 13 from bottom, in the present work: "Hieland 

The legitimacy of a Parson's son has also to be considered in the case of 
a Highland chief If Muireach lived in the 14th century, down tumble the 
Macpherson claims. A surname — or Highland Mac surname — cannot go 
back to the Culdees. 

The Macduff nonsense in the Mackintosh genealogy may really be 
explained by the curious fact that the allied Macbeth genealogy is called 
"genealogy of Clan Duff." The Mackintoshes are probably of Macbeth's 
lineage. There was no thane of Fife, and Macduft" himself is doubtful : 
Macduff could not be a surname. 

Eva, of Clan Chattan, has been usually regarded as mythical by those 
who have studied this question unbiasedly ; but Mr Murray Rose has tried 
to prove her identity. A lady Eva in 1296 supplicates her maintenance from 
Edward I., her husband having been taken prisoner at Dunbar. It runs thus 
— " Eva, uxor domini Alexandri Comyn de Badenaghe, qui captus fuit apud 
Dunbar, supplicat regi sustentationem suam de 40 £ terra de dote Domini 
Alexandri de Moravia quondam viri sui." An old antiquary — Rose, of 
Moncoffer — left among his innumerable papers a statement that Eva, heiress 
of Lochaber of the Isles (= Eva Macdonald, of Lochaber) married firstly, 
Alexander Murray, Freskin of Dufifus' brother ; secondly, Alexander Cumming, 
son of John Cumming of Badenoch ; and thirdly, she married Mackintosh of 
Clan Chattan. The weak point in the statement is that Eva was heiress of 
Lochaber, for in her time, the eastern portion, at least, of Lochaber belonged 
to the Cummings. 

4i6 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

Page 295. Macdonald of Keppoch had no right to his lands. His 
ancestor, Angus of Fersit, was an illegitimate son of Alaster Carrach. 

Page 299. The Clan Cameron. In modem times the Cameron 
estates have been west of the Lochy. Again Skene's notion of " captain " 
leads him astray. The septs of the Camerons were the Mac Maitins, Sliochd 
Somhairle, Clann 'ic Gillonfhaidh, and the Locheil branch. The 1450 MS. 
contains names from the Mac Martins and the M'Gillonies ; they are all the 
same stock. Gillonfliaidh or ^laolonfhaidh means " Servant of Storm." 
Cameron itself is from Gille-Camshroin, "Wry-nosed one." But the Camerons 
of Fife, Edinburgh, and Southern Perth, derived their names from the place- 
names Cambrun. Bishop Cameron was an Edinburgh man ; but he is given 
in the Cameron genealogies as brother of that excellent rei\er, Donald Du ! 
The Cameron genealogy in the histories before Donald Du is manufactured 
like that of Cluny in Douglas. 

Page 302, line 6. Ewen Allanson got his lands of Locheil and Lochalsh 
from Celestine of Lochalsh and his son. Sir Alexander. The Clan Ranald 
was in possession of its usual Garmoran lands ; it had lost Lochaber 

Page 304. The Mac-Naughtons. The name Nectan is Pictish and 
comes from 7v'g^ wash, as already said. The deportation of the Mac- 
Xaughtons from Northern Moray is mere theory, and unlikely too. The 
name exists clanwise only in Strathtay and Argyle. It seems clear that the 
Mac-Naughtons are intruders into Argyle from Pictland. 

Page 307. The Macleans. Of course the Macleans are not "of 
Moray"; they are an Island family, the name being either Mac-Gilleoin or 
Mac-Giir Sheathain (Gill'-eathain) ; in either case the name means "Son of 
John's Gille." MS. 1450 has the genealogy, and improved by other sources 
it appears at p. 480-1 of Celtic Scothmd^ iii. — a good genealogx-. Gillemore, 
of Perth, is not in the genealogy ; and the three sons mentioned in Bruce's 
time (John, Nigel, and Dofnald, 1326) are the sons of the real Gilleoin or 
ancestor. For John Mac Gillimore, read John Mac Gilleoin. 

Page 308. The Mackinnons were possessed of lands in Mull. The 
Macleans were interlopers, apparently. The legend on p. 308 is old, but 

Page 309. The capture of Lachlan Mac Lean at Harlaw is unlikely. 

Page 3 10- 1. An account of the feud between Maclean and Angus of Isla 
is gi\en in the new history of Clan Donald^ vol. ii. p. 553-73. It gives a 
more fair, if Macdonaldian, account of the transactions (dates 1 596-8). 

Page 312. Siol O'Cain. All this is traditional and unworthy of regard. 
O'Cathan is not allied to Clan Chatan ; the one is from cath, battle ; the other 
is from cat, cat. These O'Cathans came over in the ti'ain of the O'Cathan 
wife of Angus Og (1300) — so the Seanachies say, but, to use Fordun's terms, 
"they lie." These were native clans (p. 313). The Sleat Historian is the 
main authority for all this. 

Page 313. The Munros. The Sleat Seanachie says that this clan got 
its name from Bun-Roe, " Mouth of Roy River," in Derry, and that they 
came over in the train of Angus Og's wife (O'Cathan). A clan in the east of 
Ross, before ever Macdonalds were Earls of Ross, could hardlv have come as 


attendants on the bride of the Lord of Kintyre In west Argyle. The name is 
veiy difficult to unravel ; it is a place-name, since the first chiefs in the 14th 
century are called de Mtinro. Monadh-Ruadh, or even Bun-Ruadh (" Red 
Mount," " Red-footland "), would phonetically suit— the former especially. 
Ruadh, or Rodh, is the latter root and the foundation of the Gaelic name, 
Rothach, a Alunro. Robert de Monro is the first assured chief by charter 
evidence (1341-1372). 

Page 316. The Mac-Millans. The name is firstly Mac-Gille-mhaoil, 
Gille-maol, " Bald Gille " : but it probably stands for Gille-na-maol, which 
means " Gille of the Saints." Shortened in the usual way, it appears as 
Maolan. Compare Gille-naomh, Irish Gille-na-naomh, "Gille of the Saints," 
whence M'Gilnef, and Naomhan, whence M'Niven. The Macmillans of Knap 
and those of Lochaber were clearly independent clans. 

Page 317. The Buchanans and ^NI'Auslans, as already said, are 
descended from the Earls of Lennox, and can be traced by early charters. 
See note above on p. 275. 

Page 318. The first earl of Ross was Malcolm Mac-Heth, who was 
liberated in 11 57, witnessed a charter of Dunfermhne Abbey as Malcolm 
Mac Eth, and as Earl of Ross was entrusted with the defence of the monks 
of Dunfermline. His real due was the suppressed Earldom of Moray ; he 
got only the (easter) Ross part of it. He seems to have behaved badly, and 
probably plotted to get back the old Earldom. The ne.xt Earl of Ross is the 
Count of Holland, but he does not seem to have had more than the nominal 
title. The first Earl of line was Ferchar Mac-in-tagart (son of the priest), 
hailing evidently from the west — from the clerical district of Applecross. His 
family name was O BeoUan, Beollan being a common name then, even 
borrowed by the Norse (from bciil^ mouth). His connection with the Clan 
Gillanders is close, though not clear. Paul Mac-Mac-tire, in 1370, was, 
evidently from MS. 1450, chief of it. 

Page 319, line 4 from bottom. Gilleoin does not translate into Colin. 
Later it is the surname Gilleon, a side form of Maclean. 

Page 320, line 15 from bottom. " (jael of Western Isles" — read " Gall, 
&c." The Isles were still Norse. 

Page 322, line 7. Paul Mac Tyre. Tyre was not his father, as usually is 
supposed, but Mac-tire (meaning " Wolf," a common name in his day and 
earlier) ; the name is Paul Mac Tc-tire. Of course Paul the Wolf is possible, 
and, as a fact, he harried Caithness sufficiently to earn this title. Historians 
usually call him after old traditions, Paul the Robber. 

Page 323. The Rosses of Balnagown were descended of Hugh ot 
Rarichies, third son of Hugh, fifth Earl of .Sutherland. For the whole 
subject, see F. N. Reid's Earls of Ross (1894). The third Balnagown married 
Paul Mac-Mac-tire's daughter and heiress. 

Page 326. The Mackenzies were vassals of the Earls of Ross, and little 
or nothing is known of their history until the forfeiture of the last Earl. 
Their first charter is about the first forfeiture of the Island lord — 1463. 
Anything before that is spurious. The first chief mentioned is Kenneth 
More, leader of two thousand, captured by the king in 1427, as Skene here 
says. In Celtic Scotland^ iii. 317, he gives this Kenneth Mor as ancestor of 


4i8 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

Cluny ! And this, too, tliough Kenneth was manifestly a prominent vassal 
of the Earl of Ross, whose men alone are mentioned by Fordun. Mackenzie 
comes from G. Coinneach, " Fair one " ; it has nothing to do with Kenneth. 
The r in the name arose from mistaking old g for ^, Kengie being the real 

Page 328, line 6 from end. John, last Earl of Ross, was the only 
legitimate son of Alexander, Earl of Ross. His sons, Celestine and Hugh, 
were both illegitimate : Celestine of Lochalsh, and Hugh of Sleat, ancestor 
of Lord Macdonald. 

Page 331. Clan Matheson. The Gaelic is Mac-Mhathan, "Son of 
Bear." Like the Mackenzies, they were vassals of Ross, but at the forfeiture 
of the Earldom they, unhappily, were vassals to Celestine and his son 
.Alexander, of Lochalsh, and so did not get free like the Mackenzies. Good 
genealogies to about 1600 can be made out for the leading families. 

Page 331. .Siol .\lpine. This is pure tradition, made famous by Sir 
\\'alter Scott's Lady of the La]*i\ and therefore requiring respectful notice. 

Page 332. Clax Gregor. The name is the Latin Gregorius, from late 
Greek gregorios, " Watchful." There was no King Gregory ; the name 
meant is Cyric, debased into Girig. A genealogy to Kenneth Mac Alpin 
appears in the Dean of Lismore's Book ; a quite different one appears in 
MS. 1450, going back to Ferchar Foda of Lorn. An account of the lands 
held in Glenorchay by the Macgregors will be found in Orig. Parochiales^ ii. 
part i. p. 138. 

Page 339. Clax Grant. The name means undoubtedly "great," and 
is the Norman-French grand or grant (compare Blound, Blount, &c.) The 
first of the name are mentioned on p. 340 — Laurence Le Grant and Robert 
— the former being Sheriff of Inverness. They were Xorman-French 
interlopers. The clan itself, like the rest of the population, is native. The 
Bissets, Grants, and Prats were neighbours both in England (Nottingham, 
&c.) and in Northern Moray in the 13th century. Many le Grants are men- 
tioned as connected with the North in 1292- 1307. Gilbert of Glencarnie 
icirc. 1360) was not a Grant, as Skene asserts ; but Matilda of Glencarnie 
was mother of the first undoubted Chief of Grant (Sir Duncan Grant, 1434-85), 
her father being (jilbert of Glencarnie or Duthil. Many Grants appear in 
the 14th century, and confusion reigns in the Grant genealogy for that reason. 
Sir Duncan's father was possibly John Roy Grant, who died young. 

Page 341. The MacKixnons. The name Fingon was common in 
older times, a Celtic Vindo-gonios, denoting " Fair-bairn.'" The original 
habitat of the clan was Mull (Mishinish the chief place), where they held 
lands under the Lord of the Isles, and from the crown after their forfeiture. 
They had also the estate of Strathardle in Skye (parted with in 1791, the last 
(;f their land). They were closely connected with lona in the 15th century, 
and John Mackinnon was the last abbot. See " Memoirs of Clan Fingon," 
by Rev. Donald D. Mackinnon, M.A. (1899). Their Clan Gregor connection, 
though asserted by a bond, seems mere fancy. There was a bond also 
between the Mackinnons and Macnabs, asserting kinship. 

Page 343. Mac-nab, "Son of the Abbot"; likely the abbot of 
Glendochart, where there was a great Celtic monastery. 


Page 344. Macphee : Gaelic (old) Mac Duibhsithe. The name Dubh- 
sithe means " Black of Peace," the adjectives of colour being so used often to 
govern nouns in the genitive. 

Page 345. Macquarrie : Mac-Guaire. The name Guaire, Celtic Gaurios 
or Gorios, means "noble," "glorious." The clan had a good position under 
the Macdonald chiefs. 

Page 345. Mac-Aulay. Skene's two objections to the Mac-aulays being 
not of the line of the Earls of Lennox are of little value. The bond of 
kinship of 1591 rests on pure tradition. The Aulay is no doubt here the 
Norse Olaf or Anlaf The Macaulays of Lewis are certainly of Norse origin. 
There was an old Gaelic name, Amalghaidh, which confuses the etymology 
of the name in the case of the Lennox Macaulays, where the Earls bear old 
Gaelic names like Aihn and Maoldomhnach. 

Page 347. Garmoran. In 1343 this name is Garw-morwarne, that is, 
Garbh-morbhern or " Rough Morvern," meaning, no doubt, the " Rough 
(bounds) of Morvern," the district to the south of it. Mor-vern itself means 
likely "Great Passes" {hearna). Neither name has anything to do with 
Mearns (older Magh-ghirghinn), either in pronunciation or roots. Garmoran 
was the Clanranald country, "from Sheil to Sourn," as the Dean of Lismore 
has it. It was never an earldom, only a district. Skene here is entirely 
wrong, and the Earldom of Garmoran has no place in Celtic Scotland. 

Pages 348, 349. The events here detailed as I., II., III. belong to 
Mearns. See Celtic Scotland^ i. 364, 439, and 452. 

Page 349, last line. Cellach could not become Gilli in Norse ; it becomes 
Kjalakr. Earl Gilli ruled in the Isles (Coll, &c.) and not on the mainland. 
Besides, there was no Earldom of Garmoran. Nor could it remain in the 
Crown till Alexander III.'s time. It then belonged to the M'Rorys, and had 
been so held since Rory's time {Celtic Scotland., iii. 88). 

Page 350, line 17. The Macleods and Campbells were entirely uncon- 
nected and never belonged to the fabled Earldom of Garmoran. 

Page 351. Clan Leod. Skene denies the Norse origin usually ascribed 
to the Macleods by tradition. The genealogies given both for the Campbells 
and Macleods in the Kilbride MS. of 1540 and MS. 1450 are clearly absurd : 
both deduce the lineage of these clans from Fergus Lethderg, son of Nemed 
(2349 B.C. I), but there is nothing in common in the genealogies, save these 
last two names. The Campbell genealogy passes through King Arthur and 
other British names. The Macleod genealogy passes through Iver, the 
Norse King of Dublin (9th century), and several ancestors bearing such 
Norse names as Olvir, Magnus, Harold, Uspac, Magnus of Orkney, 
Longbard, &c. To make them Gaelic, the two mythic heroes are added at 
the end. There is therefore no connection whatever between the Campbells 
and Macleods, as a student of Highland history might expect. (See Celtic 
Scotland., iii. 340). Skene regards the Macleods as mainland clans, mainly 
because the charters of 1343 to the respective heads of both branches are for 
(ilenelg and Assynt ; but the after history of the Macleods show them to be 
almost purely an Island race. Indeed, Assynt is traditionally recorded as 
coming to the Lewis branch through the heiress of the Macnicols. We may, 
therefore, regard the Macleods as a Hebridean clan ; and, secondly, we can 

420 THE HIGHLANDERS [excursus 

deduce from their Norse names — Leod (Ljdtr, " Ugly," curtailed doubtless 
from Ljotulf, "Ugly Wolf"), Torquil or Thor-Kell ("Thors Kettle"), 
Tormod (" Thor-mooded "), and further back, Ollghair (Olvir) — that the 
chiefs were purely Norse. Their descent from Olave of Man is not proveable 
by any old documents. Lewis and Harris formed the cradle of the race 
apparently ; and from this we may infer that the Lew is family was the elder, 
as keeping the first habitat. Leod may, as the clan historians have it, have 
lived in the time of Alexander III., after the cession of the Isles (1266). His 
two sons, Torquil and Tormod, may have been the heads of the two branches 
or clans (so Gregory) into which they were in historic times divided. An 
interesting genealogy, attached to the Maclean genealogy {Celtic Scotland, iii. 
482), should be borne in mind in discussing any genealogy before or after 
Leod. It plainly contains "Ollaghar Nan Lann" of Mary the Bardess. 

Page 352, line 16. Macleod of Harris does not always take precedence 
of Macleod of Lewis in the charter signatures. On this score, they are about 
even. Buchanan of Auchmar (1723) gives the Lewis branch the precedence. 
Despite (Gregory, who regards them as two separate clans, with separate 
armorial bearings, there seems little doubt that the clan chiefs are ultimately 
from one father. 

Page 354. The story of the atrocity at Egg, though formerly much 
doubted, is now known to be perfectly true from a contemporary MS. 
published in Celtic Scotland, iii. 428, &c. The date of the event is 1 577. 

Page 356. Cl.\n Campbell. As Skene saj^s, the Campbells are 
certainly Celtic. The name is an epithet. Caim-beul, "Wry-mouth," is 
equivalent to the ancient Irish cerrbel, an epithet of Fergus, father of 
Diarmat, king of Ireland (539-558). Cerrbel or Cearr-beul became a 
Christian name as Cearbhall, Norse Kjarvalr, now Carrol. We meet also in 
ancient literature with ech-bel, "horse-mouthed." The name Cameron is 
also to be compared. The other derivations offered are useless. There was 
no "de Campo-bello," because idiom demanded Bello-campo (Beauchamp, 
Beecham) ; and " de Campellis " would become Champeaux. Of course the 
Campbells belonged not to Garmoran, though apparently Arthur, son of Sir 
Arthur Campbell, got a charter from the M'Rory heiress (about 1300) for the 
Garmoran lands ; but it clearly took no effect. John Macarthur in 1427 lost 
his life in reviving the claim to Garmoran, along with Alexander Mac Reury. 
These Campbells were, no doubt, the Strathchur branch, whose claim to the 
headship of the Campbell race rests merely on assertion. In Celtic Scotland, 
iii. 331, Skene says the original seat of the Campbells was the district of 
Lochow and Ardskeodnich, and he concedes to the Mac Cailin-Moir branch 
the headship {Celtic Scotland, iii. 339). At anyrate, it is the genealogy of the 
Lochow family that is always given ; it goes back to an ancestor, Duibhne. 
who li\ed about the middle of the 12th century. The clan was certainly 
known as Clann O Duibhne or Clann Duibhne (Englished Clan Guin, and 
often badly rendered in its Gaelic form in the old MSS. and songs). In 1266, 
Gillespie Campbell has the king's lands of Menstrie and Sauchie in 
Stirlingshire — evidently temporarily ; but he is the first Cambell mentioned, 
and is regarded, no doubt rightly, as father of Cailin Mor (1292), who 
possessed lands in Argyle, and who is the family eponymus (M'Callu7;/-mor). 


In 1292, Thomas Cambel held lands in Kintyre, and about the same time 
Dugald Cambell is connected with Dumbarton Castle as governor. The 
relationship of these several Cambels, and of Sir Arthur Cambel, it seems 
impossible now to define. Cailin Mor's son was Sir Neil, who married 
Bruce's sister. The Cambells are usually regarded as interlopers in Argyle 
(see Brown's Memorials of Argyle), but, if they did not originally belong to 
Argyle, we must not go further than Dumbartonshire for their habitat. The 
old genealogies trace them to the British King Arthur, a tradition which may 
indicate that the Cambells originally lived on the borderland of the Strathclyde 
Briton and the Gael. The name Arthur is common among them. The 
Cambells rose then on the ruins of the families of Lorn and of Alexander, 
lord of the Isles, partisans of the English. The Cambells of Lochow soon 
became masters of Argyle ; they were a race of statesmen, with high literary 
talent, as old Gaelic poetry shows, and they still manifest the same 
characteristics. Skene's severe censures are undeserved ; because the 
Campbell chiefs nearly always trod a path of level-headed common sense, 
must they be declared cunning and unscrupulous ? 

Page 357, middle paragraph. There was no sheriffdom of Argyle till 1292. 

Page 359. Caithness. The old province of Cat (so named from the 
Catti or Cat-tribe) included Caithness and Sutherland. In the restricted 
sense, Caithness meant in the Sagas, modern Caithness, but they also used it 
to mean the whole Cat province, save Sutherland. The province Ness meant 
strictly and always modern Caithness ; it was the Ness of Cat. Skene's 
attempt to make Ness mean the Cape Wrath district is entirely against the 
evidence (p. 366) ; it is abandoned in Celtic Scotland. 

Page 360, line 5 from bottom. "Gaddgedli"; this is simply a corruption 
of Gall-Gaidheil, later reduced to mean Galloway. The text of the Saga here 
is corrupt (Anderson's Orkn. Saga, p. 28). 

Page 361. 'The Mackays. The name Aodh or Aed, so troublesome to 
Sassenach scribes, was once the most popular of Gaelic names. We ha\ e 
already dealt with the Mac-Heths of Moray ; then there were the powerful 
Mackeths, or Mackies, of Galloway ; Mackays of Ugadale ; Mackays of the 
Rinns in Islay; and the Morgan Mackays of Sutherland. There is, of course, 
no connection between these clans. The Inverness-shire Mackays are usually 
called in Gaelic, Mac-ai, that is, Mac Dhai or Davidson ; they formed a 
branch of Clan Chattan. It is remarkable that the Sutherland Mackays claim 
kinship with the f'orbcs's of Aberdeenshire, and about 1608 actually adopted 
Lord Forbes' arms, with cadet differences (by permission of Lord Forbes, whom 
Hugh Mackay of Mackay calls his "dear chief") ; but it is also remarkable 
that the name Morgan exists, or in historic times existed, nowhere else than 
in Aberdeenshire and among the Sutherland Mackays. The name is Pictish 
— Morcunn (Book of Deer), "Sea-bright." Perhaps the explanation lies in 
the fact that the Earl of Ross held lands in Buchan — indeed, he was entitled 
to half the earldom, and the last lord of the old line died in asserting his 
claims, and the first of the Macdonald lords suffered at Harlaw in the same 
cause. Now, the lands of Strathhalladale and Ferrincoskry (Skibo, Creich, 
&€.), and probably more, belonged to the Earl of Ross. The former lands 
were granted or re-granted to Angus Du Mackay in 141 5 by Donald of the 


Isles. Angus Du is the first historic chief of Clan Mackay, and from Donald's 
charter we learn that he held also Strathnaver (Aed dc Strathnaver), or part 
of it. He does not seem to have held it of the crown. Angus opposed the 
claims of Donald of Isles to the Earldom of Ross, and put himself at the head 
of all the men of Sutherland, belonging to the Earldom of Ross, and the Ross- 
shire men, to expel Donald from the earldom, but Angus was defeated and 
captured. He then married Donald's sister, and in 141 5 received the lands 
above mentioned (Strathhalladale and Ferrincoskry). In 1427, he was 
arrested as abettor to the Lord of the Isles, his nephew, when he is 
represented as having 4000 men at his command. This number must apply 
to his former campaign against Macdonald, when he had all the malcontents 
of the Earldom of Ross at his back. The Mackays were never so numerous 
as the Mackenzies, who, in 1427, could muster 2000. But all Fordun's 
numbers are clearly exaggerated for the clans and chiefs then in arms in 
Macdonald's cause. 

Page 364. "Y. Mackay": this should simply be "Y Mackay." The 
single letter Y was all that then represented Aodh, older Aed, " Fire." 

Pages 366-7. All the arguments about Ness here are simply wasted 
ingenuity. See above note on p. 359 — Caithness. 

Page 367. The Mac-NICOLS. This was a Norse clan like the Macleods. 
Macnicol is, and was, sometimes pronounced Mac;racuil according to a well- 
known Gaelic phonetic law that en becomes cr (cf. Macreachtain for Mac- 
naughton, Macrigh for Macni). An ancestor, Krycul, is absurdly impossible 
as a name. Nicolas was a common Norse name. The habitat of the Clan 
Nicol is now Skye ; they say that they left Assynt when the Macleods took 
possession of it, and came over to the nearest shore of Skye. Nicolsons have 
been there for at least three hundred years, in abundance. 

Page 370. Skene regards Sutherland proper— east of the Brae-chat and 
Dirie-chat range— as Norse, the Gaelic speakers being mostly incomers ; but 
the same must be said of the rest of Sutherland. The old Earls of Sutherland 
were Celts of the Celts— the famed De Moravia family. Like the De Atholia 
family, they belonged to the famil)- of the Mormaers of Moray— kinsmen by 
descent to Macbeth, Finlay, and Ruary. The Murrays still hold high places 
in the peerage : Duke of Atholl, Earls Mansfield and Dunmore, not to 
mention lesser titles. Freskin of Moray was probably the descendant of a 
refugee, De Moravia, who established himself in Norse Sutherland about the 
first Mac-Heth rebellions. The name Freskyn is still unexplained, but it is 
likely to be either Pictish or Gaelic, and not Flemish or Frisian as usually 

Page 382, line 13. Delete "spoke languages that." 



[The references to 381, and subsequent pages, apply to Dr. Macbain's 

"Excursus and Notes."] 

Adomnan, Adamnan, 2, 12, 17, 
46, 47. 

Aed Finn, Edfin, ' Ri Dalriada,' 34, 35, 
50, 403. 

Albanic Duan, 2; its list of Dalriadic 
Kings, 33 et seq. ; of little value, 
402, 403. 

Albion, 3, 402. 

AlbioQes, Britons, 3, 402. 

Alexander I., King, attacked by Lad- 
man, 85 ; devastated Moray, 85. 

Anglo-Saxon Invasion, 385. 

Angus, MacFergus, " Ri na Piccardach," 
23-37 passim, 402, 403. 

Annalists, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh, 2. 

Argyll, Ergadia, Oirirgael, 66, 67. 

Argyll Family gain power, 91. 

Armour of the Highlanders, 152 et seq. 

Aryan race and language, 382. 

Attacotti, Pinkerton's conjecture re- 
garding them, 10. 

Bagpipe. See Music. 

Beddoe, Dr., 386, 391. 

Bede, 2, 10, 12, 15, 16, 22, 23, 24, 402. 

Belgic Gauls, 384, 385. 

Britannia, Britain, Original Coloniza- 
tion of. 1 et seq. 

Britanni, 3, 402. 

Brudes, many, 26, 37, 161, 163, 395, 

Burt's " Letters," 102, 116. 

C.5;SAR, 3 et seq. 

Caithness, Maormors of, and their 
allied clans, 359-365. 

Caledonii, Caledonians, the remains of 
the Albiones, 5, 6, 7; same peo- 
ple as the Plots, et seq. 

Cantefe, their probable conquest of the 
Caledonii or Midland Cruithne 
and the Vacomagi, 65, and the 
formation of the Earldom of 
Moray, 65. 
" Captain," il4 et seq., 406. 
Camones, 66. 

Celts, their dispersion over Europe and 
invasions of Britain, 382-385 
Charles Edward, his attempt to assert 

his right to the Crown, 95. 
Chiefs, native, resume power after 
the termination of the Nor- 
wegian rule, 79. 
Chronicles, Pictish, 2. 
Church, Celtic. See Culdee. 
Clan Anaba, 343, 344, 418. 
Annas, 322-325, 417. 
Aulay, 345, 346. 419. 
Cameron, 299, 304, 416. 
Campbell, 356-359, 419, 420, 421. 
Chattan, 284-298, 414, 415. 
Chisholm, 378, 379. 
Donald, 211-242, 410, 411, 416. 
Donnachie, 264-270, 413. 
Duffie, 344, 419. 
Dugall, 242-246, 411. 
Dugall, Craignish, 252, 253. 
Ewen, 251. 

Fingon, 341-343, 416, 418. 
Eraser, 377, 378. 
Gillemhaol, 315-317, 417. 
Gilleon. 3U6-312, 416. 
Grant, 339-341, 418. 
Gregor, 332-338, 418. 
Kenneth, 325-330, 417, 418. 
Lachlan, 250, 251. 412. 
Lamond, 253-255, 413. 



Clan Leod, 351-356, 419, 420. 
Mathan, 331, 417. 
Menzies, 377. 
Morgan, 361-365, 421. 
Nachtan, 304-306, 416. 
Neill, 248-250, 412. 
Nicai), 367, 368, 422. 
Pharlane, 270-277, 413. 
Quarrie, 345, 419. 
Roich, 313-31.5, 416. 
Rory, 208-210. 
Stewart, 376, 377. 
General Clan Table, 373. 
Clan system, 100 et seq. 
Claudian, 11. 

Columba, 13; converts Pictish kings, 
15; visits Skye, 46; his founda- 
tion of the Culdee Church, 121. 
Conn of the Hundred Battles, his de- 
scendants, 188. 
Contstantin, Mac Fergus, 33, 37. 
Cormac, Mac Oirbertaig, his descend- 
ants, 189. 
Creones, 66. 

Cromwell subdues the Highlands, 92. 
Cruithne, Cruithnig. See Dicaledones, 

and Picts. 
"Cruithen Tuath," Northern Picts, 41 ; 
rather "The Pictish Nation," 
Culdee Church, 119 et seq., 406, 407. 
Culdee Monasteries, their jurisdiction 
equal to the tribal territories, 
and earliest bishoprics, 131 et 
CuUoden, Battle of, 95. 

Dalriada, Dalriads, 10, 12 ; South 
Argyle Dalriads, 20-57 passim. 

David I., 86. 

Dicaledones, Northern Picts, Cruithne, 
9, 22, 23, 24, 403. 

Dio. Cassias, 6, 8, 9, 10. 

Donald Bane, elected king, 82, 405 ; 
expelled, 83 ; replaced, 83 ; over- 
come by Edgar iEtheling, 83; 
his reappearance and death, 86. 

Donald Mac Malcolm, chosen king, 81 ; 
founds Culdee establishment of 
Mortlach, 81, 405. 

Dress of the Highlanders, 142 et seq., 
407, 408. 

Drumalban, " Dorsum Britannise," 
Bruinalbin, the western bound- 
arj' of the Picts, 17, et seq. 

Duncan, King, defeated and slain by 
Macbeth, Maormor of Moray, 
near Elgin, 76, 405. 

Dundee, heads the Highlanders, 93 ; his 
fall at Killiecranky, 93. 

Dungall, King of Lorn, 33, 403. 

Dunkeld, Bishopric of, 67. 

Edgar, son of Malcolm Canmore, king, 
83 ; character of his reign, 83, 84, 

Elder, John, his views, 184 et seq , 408. 

Eocha, King of Dalriada, 31, 403. 

Epidii, 65, 66. 

Ethnology of Celtic Scotland, 381-401. 

Eumenius, first mentions Picts, 8. 

Excursus and Notes by Editor, 381-422. 

Ferchar Fata Mac Feradaig, his 

descendants, 188. 
Fergus I., King of the Scots, 17. 
Fergus Leith Dearg, his descendants, 

Fergus, " Ri Dalriada," 34, 35, 36. 
Forteviot, 43, 50, 404. 
Fortren, 160, 402. 

Gael, Gael Albanaich, Albanaich, de- 
signation of Highlanders, 45 ; 
and of the Picts, 50, 51. 

Gaelic, the language of the Pict8> 45 
etseq.; 403,404. 

Galgacus, first Caledonian king, 7. 

Gallgael, 190-277, 409. 

Garmoran, 68; earls of, and their al- 
lied clans, 347-359, 419. 

Gavel, 106 et seq. 406. 

Gens Hibernorum, 3. 

Gens Scotorum, 4. 

Gildas, 2, 10, 12, 15. 

Giraldus Cambrensis, his description 
of Scotland, 18. 

Glencoe Massacre, 93. 

" Gwyddyl Ffichti," Gaelic Picts, Pict- 
ish Gael, 45, 46, 403. 

Hamilcar, Himilco, 3, 402. 
Harold Harfagr, his conquest of the 
Isles, 60,61,404. 



Harp. See Music. 

Heritable jurisdictions abolished, 96. 

Hiberni, 4. 

Highland Clans, their Pictish origin, 
176 et seg., 408 ; Irish origin, 
178 et seg. ; Norwegian origin, 

182 et seq ; MS. of 1450, 178, 184, 
408 ; clans possessed a common 
origin — the great tribes of the 
tenth and eleventh centuries, 

183 et seq ; supposed Pictish ori- 
gin, 184, 185, 186, 408; Clan 
table of the old genealogies, 188, 
189; I., the Gallgael— ^r^^Z/, 
194-255; Atholl, 256-277, 409, 
413 ; II., Moray, 278-317 ; III., 
Ross, 318-346; IV., Garmoran, 
347-359 ; V., Caithness, 359-365, 
421 ; VI., Ness, 365 368 ; VII., 
Sudrland, 368-370 ; clans not of 
pure Gaelic origio, 376-379 ; 422; 
Table of the Descent of the 
Highland Clans, 373. 

Highlanders of Scotland, their origin, 
13 ; the descendants of the 
Northern Picts, 44 et seq ; used 
the Gaelic language, 45 ; can be 
traced back to the time of the 
Northern Picts, 51 et seq ; their 
history may be said to commence 
with the tenth century, 59 ; ac- 
cept the rule of Alexander I. and 
David I., 86 ; support the claims 
of William FitzDuncan's family, 
87 ; system of clanship broken 
in upon, 90, 405; follow Mon- 
trose and Dundee, 93 ; their part 
in the rebellions of 1715 and 
1745,94,95; efforts to crush their 
power and nationality, 90, 405 ; 
their character as a nation 
changed, their martial spirit 
and bravery diverted by the 
tact of Chatham to the service 
of the reigning house, 96 ; the 
system of clanship, 100 et seq. ; 
laws of succession, 103, 108 ; 
gavel, 106 ; tenure, 110 ; degrees 
of rank, 110 et seq.; religion, 118- 
132, 406 ; superstitions, 132 et 
seg.; poetry — Ossian, 133 et seg., 
407 ; Music, 140 et seq., 407 ; 

dress, 142 et seq., 407, 408 ; arms 
152 et seq.; hunting, 154 et seq.; 
character, 155, 166. 

Highlands entirely occupied by 
Northern Picts, 57, 404; his- 
tory of, 58-98. 405. 

Hume Brown, Dr., 388. 

Hunting, 154 et seq. 

Iberians, 385. 

lerne, 3n, 10. 

Innes's "Ancient Inhabitants," 387. 

Ireland all Scottic, 406. 

Irish Annals, 2, 15, 55. 

Isles, Cession of the, and its effects, 88. 

Isles, Lord of the, claims the Earldom 
of Ross, 89 ; takes arms to vin- 
dicate his claim against the 
Government, 90; forfeiture, 90. 

Kenneth Mac Alpin, 14, 25; 33-42 

Ketil, his subjugation of the Hebrides, 

61 ; declares himself King of 

the Hebrides, 61. 
Kilt. See Dress. 
Krycul, his descendants, 189. 

Ladmax, son of Donald Bane, makes 
an attack on Alexander I., 85 ; 
his death, 85, 405. 

Lang, Andrew, 388, 389, 398, 400. 

Latin Historians, 3 et seq. ; list of Dal- 
riadic kings, 33 et seq., 402. 

Lougai, 68. 

Lulacb, 81. 

Macbeth, Maormor of Moray, suc- 
ceeds Duncan as King of Scot- 
land, 76 et ."eq., 404; events of 
his reign, 76 et seq. ; 404, 405. 

Macdonalds, their weakness and ulti- 
mate extinction, 89, 405. 

Mackinnon, Professor, 401. 

Macpherson and Ossianic poetry, 135 
et seq., 407. 

Macpherson (Cluny) and Mackintosh 
problem. See Clan Chattan. 

Macpherson (Ossian). See Poetry. 

Mseatfe and Caledonii, one race, 6, 8. 

Magnus Barefoot, 82, 147. 



Malcolm IV., 87. 

Malcolm Kenmore, king in Lothian, 
77; obtains possession of the 
Scottish throne by English 
help, 78 ; his right questioned 
by the Northern chiefs, who 
choose a king. Donald Mac 
Malcolm, SI, 405; reduces the 
whole of Scotland under his 
dominion, 82, 405 ; his kingdom 
a Celtic one, 82. 

Malcolm Mac Kenneth, King of Scot- 
land, defeated and slain by 
Thorlinn, near Beauly, 73, 

Malcolm, Maormor of Moray, expels 
Sigurd and the Norwegians, 70; 
becomes King of Scotland, 71, 

Maormors, 51 ; next in dignity to 
the king, 52; Maormors of 
Moray, Angus, Atholl, Mar, &;c., 
52 ; their succession, male and 
hereditary, 52 ; leaders of tribes 
and governors of districts, 53 ; 
title peculiar to the Gaelic 
people, 53 ; the line of certain 
maormors traceable back to the 
ninth century, 55, 56 ; Maormor 
of Moray loosely called " Ri 
Alban," 404. 

Marriage Law, 108, 406. 

Meyer, Professor Kuno, 383. 

" Midland Cruithne," 65 et serj., 404. 

Moddan, defeated by Thorfinn,72. 

Moiikisli writers, how to use them, 2. 

Montrose, Wars of, 91 et seq. 

Moray, Maormors of, and their allied 
clans, 278-317, 404. 

Murdoch, King of Dalriada, 31, 32, 33. 

Music of the Highlanders, \-Vietseq., 

Nativi, 111 e^ serj., 406. 

Nechtan, his expulsion of the monks 

of lona, 17. 
Nennius, 2, 10, 15, 17. 42. 
Ness and the Clan Nicail, 365-368. 
Ness, River, and Loch Ness in " Pro- 

vincia Pictorum," 16. 
Ninian, his conversion of the southern 

Picts, 23. 

Norse Invasions, 58-78, 386 ; their eth- 
nological effects, 3, 41, 55, 404 ; 
Norse sagas, 41, 404, 405. 

Norwegian Kingdom of the Isles, its 
establishment and the results, 
59, 60, 404 ; second Norwegian 
kingdom, 69; Norwegians ex- 
pelled, 70 ; third Norwegian 
kingdom established, 74 et seq. ; 
404, 405 ; its termination, 79 ; 
effects of the Norwegian con- 
quests, 80 ; 405. 

Norwegian pirates, their ravages, 60. 

Palladius or Patrick, 121 et seq., 406. 

Pictavia. See " Cruitheu Tuath." 

Picti, the Picts, 8-57 passim ; king 
converted by Columba, 17 : the 
predominant race in Britain in 
the fourth century B.C., 383; 
their position in Scotland in 
early Christian times, 385 ; no 
distinction between Northern 
and Southern Picts, 403. 

Pictish problem, 387. ' 

Pinkerton, 10, 47, 402, 403. 

Poetry — Ossianic system, 134 et seq., 

Provinces of Scotland, the Seven, 157 
et seq., 408. 

Ptolemy, 7, 8, 64, 68, 404. 

Rank, Degrees of, 110 et seq. ; 406. 
Rebellions of 1715 and 1745,93, 94. 
Rhys, Professor, 383, 384, 389, 392, 394, 

396, 398. 400. 
Rognwald, larl of the Maerians in 

Moray, 60. 
Roman Occupation, 385. 
Roman Historians, 3 et seq., 402. 
Ross, Earls of, 65; their power and 

intluence, 88 ; their allied clans, 


Scotland, Scotia, the names, when 
first applied, 29, 40, 386. 

Scotti, Scots, 4-57 passim ; their con- 
quest of the Southern Picts and 
its results, 59; their invasions of 
Scotland, .385, 386. 

Scottish conquest in the ninth century, 
14 et seq., 30-43, 402, 403. 



Scottish tribes, their territories, &c., 
14 et seq. 

Sheep-farming, the evil results of its 
introduction, 97, 98. 

Sigurd, made larl of the Orkneys, 61 ; 
with Thorstein the Red subju- 
gates Kateness, Sutherland, Ross 
and Moray, 62; defeats Finlay 
MacRuairi and overruns the 
Highlands, 69 ; defeats the 
Highland army at Duncansbay 
Head, 70 ; retires before Mal- 
colm, Maormor of Moray, 70. 

Silures, o. 

Siol Alpine, 331-346, 418. 
Cuinn, 196-246. 
Eachern, 252, 412. 
Gillevray, 247-251, 411. 
O'Cain, 312-317, 416. 

Skene, Dr., Biographical Sketch of, 
xiii. ; paper on Skene in 
" Inverness Gael Soc. Trans- 
actions," 403. 

Someried, 197, 409. 

Stokes, Dr., 390. 

Strathclyde Britons, 41, 403. 

Stratherne, the headquarters of the 
Picts, 12. 

Succession, Rules of, 25-29 ;oassm, 39, 
381-402 jxissim. 

Sudrland, no High land clans connected 

with, 368-370. 
Superstitions of the Highlanders, 132 

et serj. 

Tacitus, 4, 24. 

Talorcan MacCongusa, 23, 31, 32. 

Talorcan , Tolarcan, Tolarg MacDrostan, 
KiDg of Atholl, 27, 32, 38. 

Tanistry, 104 et seq., 406. 

Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, 54 ; regains 
possession of Caithness, 63 ; de- 
feats Moddan in Caithness, and 
the Scottish King in the Pent- 
land Firth, 72; routs the Scottish 
army, and slays the King near 
Beauly, 73 et seq., 405 ; his death 
79 ; his power exaggerated in 
the Sagas, 405. 

Thorkell, 72, 73. 

Thorstein the Red, in alliance with 
Sigurd conquers northern main- 
land, and retains possession ; 
his expulsion and death, 63, 68, 

Tighernac, his Annals, 2, 13, 17, 23, 25. 

Toiseach, 114 et seq., 406. 

Topography of Pictland, Gaelic, 47-50; 

Vacomagi and Caledonii, their rela- 
tive positions in Ptolemy's time 
and the tenth century, 64. 

Vecturiones, Southern Picts, Piccar- 
dach, Pictores, 9, 22, 23, 24; 
Vecturiones, ( ? ) Verturiones, 
Fortren, 402. 

Vikings, 60. 

Welsh Annals, 3, 15. 
William of Orange, 93. 

ZiMMER, Professor, 388. 




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