Skip to main content

Full text of "History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name"

See other formats






















This volume, the second of an intended series of Clan Histories, 
has proved a stiff piece of work. At first the leading Macdonalds 
held aloof, thinking naturally enough, perhaps, that no member of 
another clan could do justice to a history of theirs. As the work 
progressed, however, I received the most ample and gratifying 
testimony that any such feeling was rapidly giving place to one of 
very general confidence in my desire to be impartial. 

It would be difficult for a Macdonald to write with a strictly 
unbiassed mind of the claims variously made to the Chiefship of 
his clan by the heads of at least three of its leading families. 
The ancient patriarchal feeling would, it is feared, assert itself, 
and influence the historic conscience of a clansman in favour of 
his own immediate Chiefs claim to that high and enviable honour. 
It is just possible that this feeling may influence the clan verdict 
as to the strict impartiality of the present performance. In that 
case I am willing to leave its final determination with the general 

It is impossible that a work of such difficulty can be free from 
errors, but they will not be found of any great importance. 

I am indebted to Miss J. Macdonald of Dalchosnie ; Lachlan 
Macdonald, Esq. of Skaebost ; the Rev. Donald Macdonald, 
Glenfinnan ; and a few others, for valuable Genealogical notes. 

I would like to have added an Index, but as each family is 
dealt with chronologically, this is the less necessary. A complete 
Index, where so many names would have to be included, would 
involve an amount of labour and space which it is impossible to 
devote to it. There is, however, a very full Table of Contents 
given, which it is hoped will satisfy most readers. 

A. M. 
INVERNESS, October, 1881. 


ORIGIN OP THE MACDONALDS Views of different authorities 1-16 

I. SOMERLED OF THE ISLES His father returns from Ireland to the 
Highlands Somerled appears at Morvern How he secured his 
Wife Fights Godred, King of Man Secures the Southern Isles for 
his Sons Invades the Isle of Man with fifty galleys Defeats King 
Godred Supports Malcolm MacHeth against Malcolm IV., for the 
Earldom of Moray Enters into a Treaty with the King Supports 
the " Boy of Egremont" Sails up the Clyde with 160 Galleys Is 
Defeated hy the High Steward at Renfrew Description of the 
Battle Somerled Assassinated His Character and Appearance 
His Marriage and Children Various Accounts '7-29 

II. REGINALD OP THE ISLES He and his brother called Kings of the 
Isles Alexander II. leads an Army into Argyle Defeats the 
Islanders Introduces Strangers Surnames first appear among the 
Highlanders The Earl of Ross receives the whole of North Argyle 
The families of Isla and Bute Angus of Bute and his three Sons 
killed Representation of the Family falls to Donald, Son of 
Reginald The two Families unite by Marriage Great increase of 
Territory Reginald's liberality to the Church Marriage and issue... 29-34 

III. DONALD DE ISLA from whom the Macdonalds derive their name 
The Clan attains great power and eminence Holds his mainland 
possessions direct from the Crown The Isles from the King of 
Denmark Visits Rome and does Penance Liberality to the 
Church His issue and death in 1289 35-37 

IV. ANGUS MOR MACDONALD joins Haco Supports the Maiden of 
Norway as Heiress to the Crown Grants more Lands to the 
Church Three great Chiefs of this Family rule in the West The 
Isles transferred from Norway to the Scottish Crown Marriage, issue, 

and death in 1300 37-39 

V. ALEXANDER MACCONALD marries the heiress of the MacDcugalls of 

Lorn Receives Extensive Territories in consequence Opposes 
Bruce Surrenders Imprisoned at Dundonald Castle, where he dies 
without issue in 1303 39 

VI. ANGUS OG MACDONALD supports Bruce Shelters him at Saddel 
Castle At Bannockburn commanding the Reserve, composed of 
5000 Highlanders Assigned for ever the Right of the Royal Army 
Obtains the Lordship of Lochaber and other extensive Possessions 

vijj Contents. 

These described The Campbells first appear in the West Marriage 
with an Irish Lady, Peculiar tocher Origin of various Highland 
Families The Sleat Historian's Account His Character Origin of 
the Macleans Mode of Installing the Lords of the Isles Council 
and Constitution of the Isles Marriage, issue, and death in 1329 ... 39-48 

VII. JOHN, FIRST LORD OF THE ISLES Raised the Clan to greater 
splendour than ever He joins Baliol against Bruce His Objects- 
Visits Edward III. in England David II. succeeds Enters into 
a Treaty with John of the Isles The King grants and confirms im- 
mense Possessions to the Macdonalds John assumes the Title of 
Lord of the Isles Disputes with the Crown Soon after changes 
Sides Full Account by Skene Copy of Treaty with the King The 
Steward succeeds to the Crown Hits on a Plan to break up the 
Lordship of the Isles John marries the King's daughter Legiti- 
macy of his Marriage with Amie MacRuari disputed Disputes among 
the Sons of the first and second families All the Ancient possessions 
of the family confirmed by Robert II. Edward III. issues a Com- 
mission to Treat with the Lord of the Isles direct Haughty bear- 
ing Legitimacy of first Marriage discussed and sustained Issue 

Death and Funeral in 1386 48-60 

with the English Court against the Scottish King Claims to be an 
Independent Prince Visits the English Court repeatedly Treated 
there as an Independent Sovereign Rebels His Power, Capacity, 
and Influence Marries the Daughter of the Countess of Ross 
Claims the Earldom of Ross Invades it with 10,000 Men Defeats 
Angus Dubh Mackay at Dingwall Is in Complete Possession of the 
Earldom Marches through Moray and Aberdeenshires Fights the 
Battle of Harlaw Description of the Battle The Duke of Albany 
follows him to the North Donald retreats to the Isles Gives up his 
Claim to the Earldom and becomes a Vassal of the Crown Hugh 
Macdonald's Account of the Campaign Interesting Details Opinions 
of Skene, Gregory, and Burton, on the origin and results of these 
Proceedings His marriage, family, and death 1420-1423 60-72 

on the Death of his Mother, and Acknowledged by the Crown His 
Character Character of James I. The King marches North to Inver- 
ness in 1427 Summonses the Barons and Chiefs to attend a Parliament 
there They are all arrested Many of them put to death The Earl 
of Ross and his mother imprisoned Alexander of Garmoran be- 
headed His possessions forfeited Treacherous Conduct of the 
King Earldom of Ross forfeited and restored The Earl gets into 
Court favour Murder of John, Lord] of Isla Causes of new Dis- 
turbances James Macarthur and James Campbell hanged for the 
murder of Isla Details of the Proceedings The Lord of the Isles 
sent to Edinburgh Soon after liberated Death of the Countess of 
Ross The Earl again in revolt Marches on Inverness with 10,000 
Men Burns the Town Retires to Lochaber Is there defeated by 
the King's troops Sues for Peace, which is refused The Earl flees 
and leaves his army to take care of itself He is pursued and is 
obliged to sue for mercy Throws himself at the feet of the King in 

Contents. ix 

a semi-nude condition Is pitied and his life spared Sent to Tan- 
tallon Castle Donald Balloch leads the Clan to Lochaber and 
defeats the King's forces Returns to the Isles with a great s|X>il 
Afterwards, Ixiim,' pursued, flees to Ireland The Earl set at Liberty- 
Receives ,-i Pardon and is Reinstated in his Titles and Possessions 
Skene mistaken as to Donald Balloch's relationship to the Earl 
Ruse played upon the King respecting Donald Balloch's death, who 
fled to Ireland Description of the Highlanders Death of the Earl 
of Caithness, his retinue, and over 1000 of the King's troops Inter- 
esting details by the Sleat historian The Earl made Justiciar of 
Scotland Is revenged on the Camerons for going over to the Royal 
Standard in Lochaber Cameron of Lochiel forced to flee to Ireland 
and his lands bestowed on John Garve Maclean Marriage Legi- 
timacy of Celestine of Lochalsh, and Hugh of Sleat discussed The 
Earl's marriage and issue His death in 1448 73-89 

Rebels against tbe Crown Seizes the Castles of Inverness, 
Urquhart, and Ruthven Declares his Independence of the Crown 
Cause of his Extraordinary Conduct The King assassinates Dou- 
glas with his own hand The Battle of Arkinholme The Earl of 
Ross sends an expedition of 5,000 under Donald Balloch to Ayrshire 
Meets with little Success But carries home a large spoil Attacks 
the Bishop of Lismore and slaughters his attendants Entreats for- 
giveness Refused Time granted him to show his earnestness In 
1457 he is Warden of the Marches He joins the King at the Siege 
of Roxburgh with 3,000 men Offers to precede the King's Army in 
the March to England by 1000 paces Attends a Parliament in Edin- 
burgh shortly after Soon in Rebellion and in League with the Doug- 
lasses and the English King In 1461 he grants a Commission, as an 
Independent Prince, to certain parties to confer with the King of 
England They meet at Westminster and conclude a Treaty to con- 
quer Scotland, for which the Earl and his friends are to get consider- 
able sums Burton's description of these Negotiations The Earl 
raises the Standard of Rebellion Places a large force under the Com- 
mand of his bastard son, Angus Og and Donald Balloch He is 
proclaimed King of the Hebrides Takes possession of Inverness 
Invades Athole Storms Blair Castle Plunders the Sanctuary of St. 
Bridget, and attempts to set fire to it Takes the Earl and Countess 
of Athole prisoners to Isla His galleys sunk with the booty 
Makes penance in an ignominious garb with many of his followers 
Releases the Countess The Earl assumes royal prerogatives over the 
Sheriffdoms of Inverness and Nairn He is Summoned before Parlia- 
ment for treason Does not appear Is ultimately forfeited in his 
titles and estates in 1475, and declared a traitor Large forces sent 
into his territories He sues for pardon and surrenders Is again 
pardoned and the Earldom of Ross and the Lordship of the Isles are 
in 1476 restored to him He immediately surrenders all, and is 
created a Baron Banrent and Peer of Parliament by the Title of Lord 
of the Isles The Earldom of Ross inalienably annexed to the 
Crown The new titles secured to his two bastard sons, Angus and 
John Angus soon after Rebels against his father, and is supported 

x Contents. 

by the Clan Interesting details by the Sleat Historian The Earl of 
Athole sent North to reinstall the Earl of Ross, overthrown by 
Angus Og, but is defeated with great slaughter Two other expe- 
ditions follow Angus completely established in power by the vic- 
tory of the Bloody Bay Description of this Naval engagement 
The bastardy of Angus proved But he wielded the power of an 
heir-apparent Assassinated at Inverness about 1485 The Lord of 
the: Isles again in Rebellion Enters into a Treaty with Edward IV. 
Alexander, Son of Celestine of Lochalsh, holding rank as heir to the 
Lordship He invades the Mainland Attacks the Mackenzies Ori- 
gin and results of the Quarrel The Battle of Park The Macdon- 
alds completely defeated Full Account of the Battle Pursuit and 
slaughter of the fleeing Macdonalds The Mackenzies punished by 
the Crown for their excesses This Insurrection cost the Macdonalds 
the Lordship of the Isles forfeited to the Crown in 1493 The Earl 
surrenders everything and becomes a Court pensioner in the King's 
household Alexander of Lochalsh repeatedly asserts his Claim to the 
Earldom of Ross Government determines that no single family shall 
again possess it James IV. in 1493 proceeds to the West Receives 
the Homage of the Chiefs Grants them Royal Charters Alexander 
of Lochalsh and John of Isla Knighted The King returns to the 
Isles with a Military force in 1494 Garrisons the Castle of Tarbert and 
V v~) , Dunaverty Sir John of Isla storms Dunaverty and hangs the Go- 
vernor from the walls in sight of the Royal Fleet Is apprehended 
with four of his Sons Tried and executed for treason in Edinburgh 
Two of his Sons escape to Ireland Macleod of Lewis and Macian 
of Ardnamurchan submit The King returns to the Isles in 1495 
Holds a Court in Ardnamurchan Several Chiefs submit Young 
Mackenzie and Mackintosh taken prisoners to Edinburgh Chiefs of 
Clans made Responsible for their followers Several agree under heavy 
penalties to abstain from mutual injuries Sir Alexander of Lochalsh 
invades Ross Defeated by the Mackenzies and Munroes at Drum- 
chait Assassinated by Macian of Ardnamurchan Mackenzie and 
Mackintosh escape from Edinburgh Castle Captured, and Mac- 
kenzie slain in the Torwood by Buchanan The King in Kintyre in 
1498 The Macleods of Harris and Lewis make Homage The King 
returns He is again back in Argyleshire Severe policy resolved 
upon The King violates his previous promises Revokes Charters 
previously granted by himself Most of the Earldom of Ross let on 
lease to Argyll, who receives a Commission of Lieutenancy over it 
The Macdonald lands in Lochaber, Duror, and Glencoe, awarded to 
Strangers The Royal expedition described by Skene Emporium 
for Shipping established at Tarbert Most of the Chiefs again 
submit Sir John of Isla holds out His Possessions forfeited to the 
Crown The Earl's marriage and death in 1498 89-122 

DONALD DUBH OF THE ISLES Son of Angus Og, a prisoner in 
Inchconnel Castle Declared a bastard in various Acts of Parlia- 
mentDeath of Earl John's Sons Various Claimants to the Lord- 
ship on the Death of the last Lord of the Isles Donald escapes from 
Prison Is recognised and proclaimed Lord of the Isles by the West- 
ern Chiefs The Legitimacy of his birth considered Influence of his 

Contents. xi 

escape on the Island Chiefs Causes which led to Donald Dubh's In- 
surrection fully discussed The Islanders advance into Badenoch 
Various Expeditions to the Isles The King leads one in person 
Confederacy of the Island Chiefs under Donald Dubh broken up 
Macleod of Lewis holds out, and is forfeited Donald Dubh again a 
prisoner for 40 years in Edinburgh Castle The King introduces new 
Laws into the Highlands Curious arrangement for Educating 
the People Great Reform in Consequence Sheriffdoms conferred 
throughout the North, and Courts of Law established Huntly 
appointed Governor of Inverness and Inverlochy Castles Conditions 
as to strengthening these Strongholds Huntly Supreme in the High- 
lands Sir Alexander of Lochalsh's children fall into his hands 
Donald Gallda a favourite at Court Is allowed to inherit his father's 
estates Unfortunate Position of the Macdonalds generally The 
Highlanders take a prominent part in the battle of Flodden Donald 
Gallda knighted on the field by the King Description of the Battle 

Effect of the Scottish Defeat on the Nation at large 122-136 

SIR DONALD GALLDA Leads the Islanders in another Rebellion 
The Castles of Urquhart, Dunskaich, and Caimburgh seized, and the 
Country wasted Sir Donald proclaimed Lord of the Isles Arrang- 
ments to suppress the Rebellion More peaceful measures follow 
The Chiefs come in, except Maclean of Duart, Macleod of Lewis, 
Alexander of Isla, Sir Donald Gallda himself, and his more imme- 
diate personal adherents The others pardoned and restored to favour 
Sir Donald obtains terms and appears at Court Is again intriguing 
with the English Rushes into a second Rebellion in 1517 Com- 
mits several depredations Is repudiated by the other Chiefs Argyll 
and Maclean of Duart takes the lead against him Petitions the 
Privy Council for Extraordinary powers Substance of the Petitions 
Base Character of Maclean Sir Donald's two sons captured and 
executed Grants to the leading Chiefs Sir Donald continues at 
large in spite of every effort to capture him John Macian rewarded 
for his loyalty to the Crown during these proceedings But Sir 
Donald and Alexander of Isla attack and kill himself and his two 
sons Detailed account by the Sleat Historian Sir Donald's death 
about 1519 136-150 


I. HUGH, FIRST OF SLEAT His Ancestry Leads a Body of the Island- 

ers to Orkney Is victorious and returns with a great booty Charter 
in his favour under the Great Seal in 1449 Marriage and issue Dies 
about the same time as his father in 1498 150-154 

II. JOHN HUCHONSON Instructed by two Charters Dies in 1502 ... 154-155 

III. DONALD GALLACH'S legitimacy questioned He is murdered by his 
bastard brother, Gillespic Donald Dubh's first Rebellion at this 
period Marriage and issue 155-156 

IV. DONALD MACDONAI.D known as " Domhnull Gruamach" State 
of the Isles during his Rule Feuds between the Macdonalds and 
Macleods Between the Campbells and Macdonalds, of Isla Full 
details Nine of the Island Chiefs submit to Argyll as the King's 

xii Contents. 

Lieutenant Macdonald of Isla appointed leader of all the Mac- 
donalds Donald Gruamach's marriage, issue, and death in 1534 ... 157-164 

V. DONALD UOKM MACDONALD Claims the Lordship of the Isles, and 
the Earldom of Ross He improves the fortunes of the family Is 
supported by the Island Chiefs Invades and lays waste Troter- 
nish Invades the territories of Mackenzie of Kintail Full details of 
these expeditions He is killed at Islandonain Castle in 1539 ... 164-168 

VI. DONALD GORMESON MACDONALD A Minor under the Tutorship 
of Archibald the Clerk The King visits the Isles in 1540, with a 
great fleet Visits all the Islands and the North West The Chiefs 
submit Many of them taken South prisoners Full details Chiefs 
soon afterwards set at Liberty on giving hostages The Lordship of 
the Isles in 1540 annexed inalienably to the Crown Donald Dubh 
after an imprisonment of 40 years regains his liberty He is received 
with enthusiasm by the Islanders Is again in rebellion, and with 
an army of 1800 invades Argyll, killing and plundering his old 
enemy He is joined by all the Macdonald Chiefs Processes of 
treason commenced against them Sends Plenipotentiaries to the Eng- 
lish King Curious Letter addressed to the English Privy Council 
The Barons of the Isles cannot write their names Donald Dubh 
leads a large force into Ireland to help the English He receives 
a large sum of money from England A pension of 2000 crowns 
per annum is confirmed to him Other remarkable arrangements 
He returns to Scotland with his followers, who are soon broken 
up Donald Dubh goes to Ireland and died there He clears the 
way for the Macdonalds of Sleat as leaders But some of the Chiefs 
preferred Sir James Macdonald of Isla He is oppossed by others 
Letter to the English King announcing his appointment as Lord of 
the Isles It is not acknowledged Sir James drops the title Disputes 
about the heiress of Macleod Curious Arrangements Feuds between 
the Macdonalds and the Mackenzies A Settlement by Decree-Ar- 
bitral Copy of the Document Further attempts to re-establish the 
Lords of the Isles given up Chiefs become more estranged among 
themselves Marriage, issue, and death, in 1585, of Donald Gormeson 168-189 

VII. DONALD GORM MOR MACDONALD Becomes involved in serious 
Disputes with the Macleans Conduct of ' ' Uuistean Mac Ghilleaspuig 
Chleirich "He gets his Chief into trouble He is curiously betrayed 
and cruelly put to death Raid of the Macdonalds to Mull Treachery 
of Maclean of Borreray- His dream The Macdonalds defeated at 
Gearna Dubh The Macdonalds return with a strong force Again 
defeated Donald Gorm and several other Chiefs taken prisoners by 
the Macleans - Government compels him to release them The King 
writes to the Earl of Huntly anent these slaughters -The " General 
Band" passed Macdonald and other Chiefs receive remissions in 
1589 They in consequence visit Edinburgh, where they are treach- 
erously seized and imprisoned - Heavily fined and released Harsh 
Conditions Harsher Proceedings Summonses of treason issued 
Donald Gorm joins Red Hugh O'Donnel in Ireland, against Queen 
Elizabeth Returns, leaving his followers behind him In 1596 the 
Island Chiefs are again obliged to submit to the Royal Authority, and 
are pardoned Remarkable Act passed in 1597 Hard Conditions 

Contents. xiii 

Lands forfeited in absence of title-deeds Mean motives of the King 
Lewis, Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg forfeited to the Crown Donald 
Gorm obtains a lease of Troternish The Lowland Adventurers- 
Donald makes advances to Queen Elizabeth Remarkable Communi- 
cationLennox and Huntly appointed Lieutenants of the Isles 
Srrious quarrels between the Macdonalds and Macleods Great 
bloodshed Cause The Macdonalds invade Harris The Macleods 
waste North Uist Affair at Kiltrynad between Rory Glas Macleod 
and Donald Maclan Mhic Sheumais Both Clans on the verge of 
Ruin Battle at the Coolins The Macleods overthrown Reconcili- 
ation affected Humiliating Conditions agreed to by the Western 
Chiefs in 1608 The Statutes of Icolmkill in 1609 Donald Gorm 
finally agrees to assist in keeping order in the Isles Rebellion of 
Macdonald of Isla More humiliating Conditions for the Island 
Lords Provisions as to Education Act against excessive drinking 
Quantity of Wine allowed to the Chiefs Not allowed to wear arms 
The Macdonalds and Mackenzies on friendly terms Curious in- 
stance Donald Gorm's Marriage, and death in 1616 189-213 

VIII. SIR DONALD MACDONALD served heir to extensive possessions - 
Disputes between him and Macleod of Dunvegan settled He, with 
other Island Lords, agree to maintain the Parish Kirks Impor- 
tation of Wine to the Isles prohibited Reason for this Donald 
continues loyal throughout Created a Baronet in 1625 Opposes 
the Covenanters Receives a letter from the King Marriage, issue, 

and death in 1643 213-215 

IX. SIR JAMES MACDONALD joins Montrose Sends a body of men to 
assist Charles II. in England They fight at the battle of Worcester- 
Sir James after the wars of Montrose retires to the Isles His Char- 
acterHe punishes the Keppoch Murderers Receives a letter of 
thanks from the Government He is fined heavily at the Restoration 
Sir James a Cavalier of the Period His Marriage, and issue His 
Illegitmate son, the distinguished Gaelic Poet, An "Ciaran Mabach" 

Sir James' death in 1678 215-220 

X. SIR DONALD MACDONALD joins Viscount Dundee Taken ill in Loch- 

aber His heir fights at Killiecrankie at the head of the Clan Seve- 
ral leading Macdonalds killed Account of the preliminaries, the 
battle itself, and what followed The Highlanders mostly go to 
France Terms made with King William Sir Donald's residence 
burnt Marriage, issue and death in 1695 220-223 

XI. SIR DONALD MACDONALD a' CHOGAIDH Attends the Gathering of 
the Clans at Braemar He is captured and imprisoned in Edinburgh 
Soon at liberty at the head of his followers in the North Marches 
South with the Earl of Seaforth Lovat's Account of the Taking of 
Inverness The Macdonalds at Sheriffmuir Sir Donald attainted, 

and his estates forfeited His Marriage, issue, and death in 1718 ... 224-230 

XII. SIR DONALD MACDONALD Dies two years after his father, un- 
married ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 230 

XIII. SIR JAMES MACDONALD of Oronsay His Marriage, issue, and 

death in 1723 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 230-231 

XIV. SIR ALEXANDER MACDONALD during whose life the estates are 
repurchased by Alexander Mackenzie of Delvine for his behoof 

xiv Contents. 

Full Details of these Arrangements William the Tutor His share 
in securing the estates His death and funeral Extraordinary turn- 
outSir Alexander keeps out of the Rebellion of 1745- His letter to 
President Forbes His Popularity General Character His Lady's 
great beauty, and popularity His marriage, issue, and death in 1746. 231-239 

XV. SIR JAMES MACDONALD A Minor when he Succeeded He obtains 
Charters of the forfeited estates Grants an annuity to old Kings- 
burgh Visits North Uist on a hunting expedition Accidentally 
Shot in the leg Remains at Vallay for several weeks - He becomes a 
distinguished scholar General Character Epitaph on his Grave 

His death in 1766 239-243 

XVI. SIR ALEXANDER MACDONALD, First Lord Macdonald Created a 
Peer of Parliament Marriage Contract Provision for his Child- 
ren His musical and other accomplishments Offered Letters of 
Service to raise a Highland Regiment, with the rank of Lieutenant- 
Colonel The Macdonald Highlanders General Character Unpo- 
pular with his tenants Conversation with Dr. Johnson Marriage, 

issue, and death in 1795 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 243-247 

sums on Improvements Erected Armadale Castle Raised a High- 
land Regiment His death, unmarried, in 1824 247-248 

in the Army Assumes the name of Bosville Marriage, issue, and 

death in 1832 248-231 










THEIR POSITION IN THE CLAN Claims to the Earldom of Ross Claim 
of the Macalesters to the Chiefship of the Macdonalds Glengarry 
descended from the eldest surviving Son of John of the Isles ... 287-290 

I. REGINALD OR RANALD, progenitor of Glengarry Division of his 

father's Possessions among the Sons of the Respective Marriages 
The Chiefship Considered Skene's Arguments and Conclusions at 
length in favour of Glengarry Reginald's Marriage, issue, and 
death in 1419 290-298 

II. DONALD MACRANALD During whose time the Lands of Glengarry 
reverts to the Crown, and becomes a Royal Residence Marriage and 

issue 29g 

III. JOHN MACDONALD Marriage and issue 299 

Contents. xv 

IV. AI.ASTAIR MACDONALD, from whom the Family Patronymic His 

name first appears in the Public Records Marriage and issue ... 299-300 

V. JOHN MACDONALD His Marriage and issue 300 

VI. ALEXANDER MACDONAI.D Character of his Wife Discussed Decree 
against him by Grant of Freuchy Marriage and issue 300-302 

VII. AENEAS MACDONALD Obtains a Charter under the Great Seal 
Authorised to hold Courts In Lochcarron Marriage and issue ... 302-303 

VIII. DONALD MACDONALD Charter under Great Seal Various Re- 
tours in his favour Legitimacy of his mother through Celcstine of 
Lochalsh discussed Legitimacy sustained by the Courts and other 
Authorities Agreement between Glengarry and Grant that young 
Macdonald should marry Grant's daughter Young Glengarry 
Refuses Serious Results to his family Alleged Acknowledgment of 
Chiefship in favour of Clanranald Disposed of Feuds between 
Glengarry and Mackenzie of Kintail Various Expeditions and 
Slaughter on both sides Full Details Young Angus of Glengarry's 
Death and Burial Angus Illegitimate Change of name from Mac- 
dona/rf to Macdon*// for the first time Glengarry and Clanranald 
Controversy Marriage, issue, and death in 1645 303-332 

Inverlochy Follows him throughout the whole Campaign Joins the 
Earl of Antrim in Ireland in 1647 Glencairn's Expedition with 300 of 
his followers Charles I. makes him a Major-GeneralHe is forfeited 
by Cromwell in 1651 Raised to the Peerage in 1660 - Foists a Quarrel 
on Inverness in 1665 Curious Nature and Origin of this Quarrel 
Cool Articles of Agreement proposed by Glengarry Reply and De- 
fence of Town Council, before the Privy Council Case for the Town 
in exlenso Town has to pay a fine of ,4800 Scots Act of Privy 
Council holding Lord Macdonell answerable as Chief of his Clan 
Contract of Friendship between him and Macpherson of Cluny His 
Marriage without issue, and death in 1682 332-342 

X. RANALD MACDONALD OF SCOTUS- Succeeds to Glengarry Mac- 
donells of Lochgarry Curious Note Marriage and issue 342-344 

XI. ALASTAIR DUBH MACDONELL joined Dundee Position of the Clan 
at Killiecrankie Character and Appearance of Alastair Dubh Cele- 
brated for distinguished prowess and valour Standard-bearer to King 
James Movements after Killiecrankie Entertains Buchan, Graham, 
and Sir George Barclay at Glengarry He signs a letter to Mar ex- 
pressing loyalty to King George He soon after joins the Earl at 
Braemar At Sheriffmuir with 500 of his followers Submits to 
General Cadogan, and pardoned at Inverness Created a Peer of 
Parliament by the Chevalier St. George Marriage, issue, and death 

in 1724 344-349 

XII. JOHN MACDONALD keeps out of the Rebellion of 1745 His fol- 
lowers and younger son join His eldest son chosen to carry an 
Address from the Highland Chiefs, signed by their blood, to Prince 
Charles Captured while on his return and Imprisoned in the Tower 
of London Conduct of the Glengarry men during the Campaign 
They refuse to charge at Culloden Their excuse Considered Prince 
Charles sleeps in Glengarry Castle the night after the Battle Acci- 

xvi Contents. 

dental Death of his son, Colonel /Eneas, in the Streets of Falkirk 

John's Marriage, issue, and death ............... 349-354 

XIII. ALASTAIR MACDONELL Kept in the Tower until after Culloden 

His death in 1761 ........................ 354-355 

XIV. DUNCAN MACDONELL His Marriage, issue, and death ...... 355-3S 6 

Chiefs Original for Scott's "Fergus Maclvor " His appearance 
with his "tail" to meet George IV. on his visit to Scotland in 1822 
His general character Impetuous nature Fights a duel and kills his 
opponent Tried and acquitted by the Court of Justiciary His 
Marriage, issue, and accidental death in 1828 ............ 356-360 

XVI. AENEAS RANALDSON MACDONKLL ............... 360-361 



XIX. /ENEAS RANALDSON MACDONELL ............... 3 62 





GREENFIELD, MACDONELLS of .................. 5 2 9-53 


ORIGIN ........................... 367 

I. REGINALD, progenitor of the family ............... 367-368 

II. ALLAN MACDONALD, OR MACRANALD Died in 1419 ...... 368 

III. RODERICK MAC ALLAN Supports the Earl of Ross Pillages and 
burns Inverness Fights with Donald Balloch, in Lochaber, in 1431 
Joins in a raid to Sutherland His Marriage, issue, and death 

in 1481 ........................... 368-370 

IV. ALLAN MACDONALD Supports Angus of the Isles at the battle of 
the Bloody Bay Accompanies Alexander of Lochalsh to the Battle of 
Park Ravages Kintail Afterwards seeks and obtains Mackenzie's 
aid against his own relations Claims Suainart as tenant under John 
Cathanach of Isla He has Mackintosh, Macleod, and Mackay, pri- 
soners in Castleterrim Curious Capture of Mackintosh Narrow 
escape of Allan from the Macleans Marriage, issue, and death in 

1509 ................. ............ 370-376 

V. RANALD BAN ALLANSON MACDONELL Very popular His Marriage, 

issue, and death in 1513 ..................... 376-377 

^ VI. DONALD MACRANALD MACDONALD Becomes detested by the Clan 
forhisTXfreme cruelty and crimes Assassinated and excluded from 
the Succession in consequence Alexander Allanson succeeds to the 
command of the Clan Ranald Gallda's claim to the Succession His 
children legitimatised by the Crown ............... 377-378 

VII. JOHN MOYDARTACH MACDONALD Obtains a Crown Charter in 
153111 is recalled Summons of treason against him Reconciled 

Contents. xvii 

to the King His Character Illegitimate Birth Taken prisoner by 
James V. Ranald Gallda obtains possession John escapes Ranald 
is deposed Reasons The Clan, under John Moydartach, over-runs 
Str.itherick, AbertarfT, Urquhart, and Glenmoriston The Earl of 
Huntly sent against him John retires to Moydart Ranald Gallda 
re-instat-'d by Lovat Curious exhibition of Ranald's parsimony 
The Clan offended in consequence They again depose him The 
Battle of Blar-leine Full Account Death of Ranald Gallda Inter- 
esting details John Moydartach fully established at the head of 
Clanranald Attacks the Frasers and Mackintoshes Supported by 
the whole clan Huntly sent against him Fails and returns 
Disgraced and fined in consequence The Queen Regent visits Inver- 
ness Commands John to appear before her He refuses The Earl 
of Athole sent against him John comes to Inverness Fearing 
treachery he escapes Attacked on his way by Mackintosh, whom he 
teats off Becomes reconciled to the Queen Becomes acquainted 
during a visit to her Majesty, with his second wife John commanded 
to attend at Fallow-muir Refuses and prevents his retainers and the 
leading neighbouring chiefs from going The Earl of Huntly again 
comes north Apprehends some of the Chiefs, two of whom are tried 
and executed at Elgin John takes shelter in the Isles He and 
several others are pardoned after the Battle of Pinky Respite Is 
again in trouble Commission of Fire and Sword issued against him 
n 1552 Various expeditions against him They all fail Huntly 
imprisoned and fined heavily In 1555 John submits and is again 
pardoned He again rebels The Queen revisits Inverness John 
Moydartach again manages to keep out of her way He helps Queen 
Mary to obtain possession of the Castle of Inverness in 1563 Accom- 
panies her on her return journey Obtains remission for all his past 
offences General summary Is one of the Council of Donald Dubh 
of the Isles His brilliant talents and consummate skill as a warrior 
Alleged illegitimacy of his second son, progenitor of Glenaladalc 
Refutation John's Marriage, issue, and death in 1584 379-420 

VIII. ALLAN M ACDONAI.D- Kills Keppoch's brother He is put to the 
Horn Never pardoned His father's territories never confirmed to 
him Ill-treats his wife- Consequent feud with her family His Issue, 

and death in 1593 403-403 

IX. SIR DONALD MACDONALD- Invades Mull Taken prisoner by Mac- 
lean Afterwards joins Glengarry in his wars with Mackenzie Defeats 
MacNeill of Barra in South Uist Becomes involved in debts to the 
Crown Comes under severe Conditions in Consequence Obtains 
relief in 1610 Macleod of Sleat obtains the superiority of a great 
portion of his lands Sir Donald ultimately gets a Crown Charter 
Disputes with Allan, eldest son of Ranald Gallda, about certain rights 
in Moydart and Arasaig Sir Donald is reconciled to the King 
and obtains remission Again in trouble Hard Conditions as to his 
establishment and residence His use of wine restricted He becomes 
finally reconciled to, and is knighted by, James VI. His Marriage, 

issue, and death in 1619 403-408 

X. JOHN MACDONALD Enters into a contract of fidelity with Glen- 

garry Resigns the superiority of Arasaig and Moydart Various 

xviii Contents. 

Transactions regarding his lands with Sir Donald Macdonnld of 
Sleat and others Joins Montrose Full Account of his share in the 
Campaign Interesting Details Distinguished bravery of Young 
Clanmnald After the army is disbanded Clanranald refuses to sub- 
mit on the conditions offered Retires to Castletirrim Proposes to 
raise 1300 men to fight for Charles Enters into a bond of fidelity 
with the Laird of Morar Pays his respects to Charles II. on his 
landing at Garmouth in 1650 His Marriage, issue, and death in 
1670 408-417 

XI. DONALD MACDONALD Joins the Earl of Antrim Embarks to Ire- 
land with 300 followers Distinguishes himself in several engage- 
ments there Taken prisoner Released Returns home Grants a 
Wadset of Moydart and Arasaig to Sir James Macdonald He 
receives a new Charter His Marriage, issue, and death in 1686 418-419 

XII. ALLAN MACDONALD A minor under the Tutorship of his uncla, 
Benbecula Meets Dundee and Keppoch at Inverness in 1689 
Fights under Dundee at Killiecrankie and throughout the Campaign 
He refuses to surrender and take the oath of allegiance Escapes to 
France Enters the French Service Makes the acquaintance of his 
future wife Her Character They returned to Uist His estates 
preserved to him Makes up titles Joins in the RebelHon of 1715 
Mortally wounded at Sheriffmuir His noble character 419-424 

XIII. RANALD MACDONALD In France during the Rebellion His 
estates are preserved to him by Mackenzie of Delvine Dies unmar- 
ried before a pardon is procured, in 1725 The Succession falls to 

his cousin of Benbecula Shown how 424-427 

XIV. DONALD MACDONALD Is at Killiecrankie Keeps out of the 
'Fifteen Disposition to him of the estates Mrs. Penelope Mac- 
donald's part in the Transaction His Marriage, issue, and death in 

'73 427-428 

XV. RANALD MACDONALD Keeps out of the 'Forty-five Boisdale's 
interview with Prince Charles on his first arrival Ranald's marriage, 

issue, and death 428-430 

XVI. RANALD MACDONALD Joins Prince Charles Interview aboard 
the DoHtelle Following young Kinloch-moidart's example, Clan- 
ranald agrees to raise his followers Standard raised at Glenfinnan 
Takes part in the whole Campaign Narrow escape afterwards from 
capture by Cumberland's troops Meets the Prince again His Mar- 
riage under difficulties at Brahan Castle Escapes to France Enters 
the French Service His wife returns to Scotland to give birth to a 
Son She dies a few days after her confinement Ranald Attainted 
with other chiefs in 1746 Escapes through an error in the Act of 
Attainder His devotion to the Prince His father's resignation in 

his favour His Marriages, and issue 430-435 

XVII. JOHN MACDONALD His travels and education Makes up 

titles His Marriages, issue, and death in 1794 435-436 

ant of the Long Island Militia In Parliament His rental Sale of 

the Property His marriages, issue, and death in 1873 436-437 

Contents. xix 


Marriage, and issue 437 













Buccleuch, His Grace the Duke of (large paper) 

Bute, The Most Noble the Marquis of large paper) 

Glasgow, The Right Hon. the Earl of 

Hopetoun, The Right HOD. the Earl of (large paper) 

Lovat, Right Hon. Lord, Beaufort Castle (large paper) 

Macdonald, The Right Hon. Lord, of Sleat (large paper) 

Tweedmouth, The Right Hon. Lord (large paper) 

Forbes, Sir William Stuart, Bart., of Monymusk and Pitsligo 

D'Oyley, The Marchioness, Paris (6 copies, I large paper.) 

Eldon, The Right Hon. the Countess of 

Middleton, The Dowager Lady (large paper) 

Macdonald, Sir Archibald Keppel, Bart., Woolmer, Hants (large paper) 

Mackenzie, Sir Kenneth S., Bart, of Gairloch 

Paton, Sir Noel, R.S.A., LL.D., F.S.A., Scot, Her Majesty's Limner for 


Aitken, Dr., F.S.A., Scot., Inverness 
Allan, Wm., Esq., Sunderland 

Anderson, James, Esq., Procurator-Fiscal for the County of Inverness 
Audsley, Frank C., Esq., Invergordon 

Barron, James, Esq., F.S.A., Scot., Editor of the Courier, Inverness 
Batten, Mrs. Chisholm, of Aigais and Thornfalcon 
Beattie, Walter, Esq., Sunderland 
Blair, Sheriff, Inverness 
Brown, Horatio S., Esq., Venezia 
Brown, Neil, Esq., Dunclutha, Greenock 
Bryce & Son, David, Booksellers, Buchanan Street, Glasgow 
Bums, William, Esq., solicitor, Inverness 
Cameron, Donald, Esq., of Lochiel, M.P. 
Cameron, Rev. Alexander, Brodick 
Cameron, Miss Isabel Macdonald, Newcastle-on-Tyne 
Campbell, George J., Esq., solicitor, Inverness 
Campbell, George Murray, Esq., Ceylon 
Campbell, J. L., Esq., Broughty Ferry 
Camegy, Mrs., of Lour, Forfar 
Chalmers, P. H., Esq., advocate, Aberdeen 
Chisholm, Archd. C., Esq., procurator-fiscal, Lochmaddy 
Chisholm, Colin, Esq., Namur Cottage, Inverness 
Chisholm, John A., Esq., manufacturer, Inverness 
Chisholm, The (large paper) 
Cluny Macpherson of Cluny, C.B. (large paper) 

List of Subscribers. xxi 

Clarke, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Gumming, late 76th Regiment 

Craigie-Halkett, Lt. Duncan, 78th Highlanders 

Cran, J., Esq., F.S.A., Scot., Bunchrew 

Croal, Thos. A., Esq., F.S.A., Scot., Edinburgh 

Darrocb, Rev. Charles S. P., Medstead Rectory, Hants 

Darroch, Duncan, Esq., of Torridon 

Davidson, The late Duncan, Esq. of Tulloch, Lord Lieutenant of the County 

of Ross 

Davidson, D. H. C. R., Colonel, of Tulloch 
Davidson, John, Esq., merchant, Inverness 
Digby, Mrs. Sydenham Villas, Cheltenham 
Duguid, George, Esq., Scarboro' 
Finlayson, Roderick, Esq., Nairn 
Forbes, Duncan, Esq., of Culloden 

Forbes, James E. Stuart Forbes, Esq., Colville Mansions, London 
Forbes, Mrs. Stuart, Cheltenham (2 copies) 
Forsyth, W. B., Esq., Editor of the Advertiser, Inverness 
Fraser, Captain (of Culbockie), Nairn 
Fraser, Provost, Inverness 

Fraser, William, Esq., deputy keeper of the Records, Edinburgh 
Fraser-Mackintosh, C., Esq., M.I'., F.S.A., Scot., Inverness (large paper) 
Gallic, Lachlan, Esq., Edinburgh 
Gregory, Alex. A., Esq., Westwood, Inverness 
Henderson, \V. L., Esq., manager, Advertiser Office, Inverness 
HUey, Mrs. Walter, Hyde Hall, Sawbridgnorth 
Home, G. H. Monro Binning, Esq., of Argaty, Doune 
Hornsby, James, Esq., Gairloch 

Jeffrey, Allan Ranald Macdonald, Esq., London (large paper) 
Johnston, Geo. P., Esq., Hanover Street, Edinburgh (large paper) 
Kennedy, Neil, Esq., Isle Ornsay, Skye 
Lawson, Mrs., Everton, Liverpool 

Livingston, Mrs., 25 Saxe Coburgh Place, Edinburgh (large paper) 
Love, William, Esq., Glasgow 

Macandrew, H. C., Esq., sheriff-clerk for the County of Inverness 
Macdonald, A., Esq., commissioner for Lord Macdonald, Skye (la r Rc paper) 
Macdonald, A. J., Esq., London (large paper) 
Macdonald, A. R., Esq., Ord, Isle Omsay, Skye 
Macdonald, Alex., Esq., of Lyndale 
Macdonald, Alex., Esq., of Millerton, Inverness 
Macdonald, Alex., Esq., of Edenwood and Balranald 
Macdonald, Alex., Esq., timber merchant, Beauly 

Macdonald, Alexander, Esq., Chester, South Carolina, U.S.A. (large paper) 
Macdonald, Andrew, Esq., solicitor, Inverness (large paper) 
Macdonald, Angus, Esq., merchant, Inverness 
Macdonald, Angus R. (of Clanranald), Calcutta 
Macdonald, Kenneth, Town-Clerk of Inverness (large paper) 
Macdonald, Colonel John, A.M., C.B., Bombay Staff Corps- (large paper) 
Macdonald, Captain A., of Waternish, Skye 

xxii List of Subscribers. 

Macdonald, Captain D. P., Ben Nevis Distillery 
Macdonald, Councillor Duncan, Inverness 
Macdonald, C. M., Esq., Glencraig, Rothesay 
Macdonald, "The Peacock," Inverness 
Macdonald, D. J. Kinneir, Esq. of Sanda, Salisbury 
Macdonald, Donald, Esq. of Tormore (5 copies) 
Macdonald, Dr. Wra., Inverness 
Macdonald, Donald, Ex-Bailie, Inverness 
Macdonald, Donald, Esq., Culcraggie, Alness 
Macdonald, Duncan, Esq., Wishaw 
Macdonald, Frederick J., Esq., Leith 
Macdonald, Harry, Esq., Portree 
. Macdonald, James, Esq., The Farm, Huntly 
Macdonald, James, Esq., Ordnance Survey. 
Macdonald, Major John A., of Glenaladale, Glenfinnan 
Macdonald, John James, Esq.. Threadneedle Street, London 
Macdonald, J., Esq., F.S.A., Scot., London (i large paper, I 8vo.) 
Macdonald, John, Esq., Dunphail 

Macdonald, John, Esq., merchant, Exchange, Inverness 
Macdonald, John, Esq., accountant, Montreal, Canada (large paper) 
Macdonald, John, Esq., solicitor, Dursley 
Macdonald, John, Esq., superintendent of police, Inverness 
Macdonald, John, Esq., superintendent of police, Hawick 
Macdonald, John Denis, M.D., F.R.S., Inspector-General, R.N. 
Macdonald, Lachlan, Esq. of Skaebost, Skye (l copy, I large paper) 
Macdonald, Lieut. -General James W., C.B., equerry and private secretary to 

H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge 
Macdonald, Miss, Dunvegan Cottage, Dunvegan 
Macdonald. Mrs. Douglas (of Sanda), Bath 
Macdonald, Mrs. R. D. H. (of Clanranald) 
Macdonald, Mrs., Croig, Mull 
Macdonald, Neil, Esq. of Dunach, Oban 
Macdonald, Norman, Esq., banker, Benbecula 
Macdonald, P. T., Esq., Blair Athole 
Macdonald, Rev. D., Glenfinnan (2 large paper) 
Macdonald, Rev. James Alex., London 
Macdonald, The Hon. James S., Halifax, Nova Scotia 
Macdonald, The Misses, of Dalchosnie, Barnsfield, Southampton 
Macdonald, the Right Hon. \V. J., M.P., Victoria, Vancouver Island 
Macdonald, Vice- Admiral Sir Reginald J. G. of Clanranald, K. C.S.I., 

Sheerness (large paper) 

Macdonald, William Robertson, Esq. of Kinlochmoidart 
Macdonell, /Eneas R. , Esq. of Morar (5 copies) 
Macdonell, .(Eneas R. , Esq. of Glengarry, London 
Macdonell, Arthur Anthony, Esq. of Lochgarry, Oxford 
Macdonell, Col. John I., of Leek 
Macdonell, Donald, Esq., Dicoya, Ceylon 
Macdonell, P., Esq., Kinchyle, Dores 


List of Subscribers. xxiii 

Macdonell, Mrs. of Keppoch, London 

Macdonell, Miss Ronaldson, of Glengarry, Rothesay 

Macgillivray, Alexander, Esq., Arlington Road, London 

Macgregor, Rev. Alex., M.A., Inverness 

Mackay, D. J., Esq., solicitor, Inverness 

Mackay, John, C.E., Hereford 

Mackay, William, Esq., solicitor, Inverness 

Mackenzie, A. C., Esq., Maryburgh 

Mackenzie, Allan R., Esq., yr. of Kintail O ar g e paper) 

Mackenzie, Captain Colin, F.S.A., Scot., London (large paper) 

Mackenzie, D. H. Esq., Auckland, New Zealand (3 copies, 3 large paper) 

Mackenzie, Dr F. M., Inverness 

Mackenzie, Evan G., Esq., solicitor, Inverness 

Mackenzie, H. Munro, Esq., Whitehaven (large paper) 

Mackenzie, John Whitefoord, Esq. of Lochwards, Edinburgh (large paper) 

Stewart, Duncan, Esq., Lincoln's Inn Field, London 

Stewart, James, Esq., Dalkeith Park, Dalkeith 

Stodart, R. R., Esq., Register House, Edinburgh 

Stuart, Mrs. of Lochcarron 

Sutherland, Geo. Miller, Esq., F.S.A. Scot., Wick 

Sutherland-Walker, Evan C., Esq. of Skibo 

Tolmie, Rev. John W., Contin 

Tomlinson, Geo. C. J., Esq., London (large paper) 

Mackenzie, John, Esq., Brodick, Arran 

Mackenzie, J. A., Esq., burgh surveyor, Inverness 

Mackenzie, John, Auchenstewart, Wishaw 

Mackenzie, John Munro, Esq. of Mornish, Mull 

Mackenzie, James H., Esq., bookseller, Inverness (6 copies) 

Mackenzie, Major James D., of Findon 

Mackenzie, Malcolm, Esq., Guernsey 

Mackenzie, M. T., Esq., M.D., Broadford, Isle of Skye 

Mackenzie, N. B., Esq., banker, Fort-William 

Mackenzie, Roderick, Esq., London 

Mackenzie, William, Esq., Cabarfeidh Villa, Inverness 

Mackenzie, Wm. Esq., free Press Office, Inverness 

Mackinnon, John M. M., Esq., Ostaig House, Skye 

Mackinnon, Miss Flora, Duisdale House, Skye 

Mackintosh of Mackintosh (large paper) 

Mackintosh, Hugh, Esq., of Mactavish & Mackintosh, Inverness 

Machlachlan & Stewart, Messrs., Edinburgh (3 copies) 

Maclauchlan, Rev. Thomas, LL. D., Edinburgh 

Maclean, Mrs. (of Glengarry), Edinburgh 

Maclean, Miss Harriet, Bridge of Allan 

Maclellan, Alastair Macdonald, Esq. of Portree Estate, Ceylon 

Maclellan, Keith, Esq. of Melfort 

Macleod, Norman, Esq., bookseller, Edinburgh 

Macleod, Roderick, Esq., Merchant, Edinburgh 

Macrae, Alex. A., Esq., Glenoze, Skye 

xxiv List of Subscribers. 

Macrae, Donald, Esq., Glasgow 

Macrae, Fred D., Esq., Fowler's Bay, Australia 

Macraild, A. R., Esq., Inverness 

Macritchie, Andrew, Esq., solicitor, Inverness 

Martin, Donald A., Esq., Kiuloch, Skye 

Matheson, Alex., Esq. of Ardross and Lochalsh, M. P. 

Matheson, Kenneth J., Esq., yr. of Ardross and Lochalsh (large paper) 

Masson, Rev. Donald, M.A., M.D., Edinburgh 

Melven, James, Esq., bookseller, Inverness (4 copies, 2 large paper) 

Melven, Joseph T., Esq., bookseller, Elgin 

Milne, Messrs A. & R., booksellers, Aberdeen (3 copies, 2 large paper) 

Mitchell, Mrs. Lucy L., Helensburgh 

Munro, David, Esq., Inverness 

Munro, Henry, Esq., Ness Mount, Inverness 

Munro, John, Esq., Melbourne, Australia 

Noble, John, Esq., bookseller, Inverness (2 copies, 2 large paper) 

North, C. N. Macintyre, Esq., Author of " Leabhar Comunn Nam Fior 
Ghaidheal," London 

Pink, Wm. D., Esq., bookseller, Leigh, Lancashire 

Reid, Donald, Esq., solicitor, Inverness 

Robertson, D. Esq., Imperial Hotel, Inverness 

Robertson, Mrs. Greshornish, Skye (large paper) 

Rose, Hugh, Esq., solicitor, Inverness 

Ross, Alex., Esq., F.S.A., Scot., architect, Inverness -(large paper) 

Ross, Alex. , Esq. , of the Chronicle, Inverness 

Ross, Alex., Esq., Alness 

Ross, Colonel, of Cromarty (large paper) 

Ross, James, Esq., solicitor, Inverness 

Ross, Councillor Jonathan, Inverness 

Sampson, Lowe, Marston, & Co., publishers, London 

Scott, Roderick, Esq., solicitor, Inverness (large paper) 

Shaw, Alexander Mackintosh, Esq., author of the "History of the Clan 

Chattan " 

Shaw, Charles, Esq., W.S., Ex-Sheriff-Substitute of Lochmaddy 
Simpson, Ex-Provost, Inverness 
Simpson, Sheriff, Fort-William 
Sinclair, Rev. Allan, M.A., Kenmore 
Sinton, Thos., Esq., Inverton, Kingussie 
Smart, P. H., Esq., Drawing-master, Inverness 
Smith, John Turnbull, Esq., C.A., Edinburgh 
Smith, Dr. R. Angus, All Saints', Manchester 
Traill, Mrs. Stanway Vicarage, Winchcombe 
Trevor-Roper, Mrs., The Lodge, Hoylake, Cheshire 
Walker, Charles A., Esq., Aberdeen 
Watson, Rev. David, M.A., Beaverton, Ontario, Canada 
Williamson, Charles Macdonald, Esq., Glasgow 
Wilson, John, Esq., King William Street, London (4 large paper) 
Wylde, Mrs. (grand-daughter of Flora Macdonald), Cheltenham 





TO write a full, authentic, and, at the same time, 
popular history of this ancient and illustrious 
family is no easy task. Its earlier annals are 
much obscured, and it is difficult to decide between the 
various contradictory accounts given of it by the earlier 
chroniclers. The researches of Skene, Gregory, and others 
have, however, made the task much easier, and the 
result more trustworthy than it could otherwise have been. 
Gregory's " History of the Western Highlands and Isles of 
Scotland," is an invaluable guide, down to 1625, and will 
be largely taken advantage of in the following pages. The 
object of that work, to quote the author himself, " is to 
trace the history of the territories once owned by the great 
Lords of the Isles, from the time of the downfall of that 
princely race, in the reign of James IV. of Scotland, until 
the accession of Charles I. to the throne of Great Britain ". 
It is not our. intention to speculate at any length on the 
different races which are variously stated to have originally 
occupied the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Those 
who desire to enter upon that subject will find various and 
divergent authorities to consult, which need not here be 
referred to. In this work we shall get on to solid and 
authentic historical ground as soon as possible, and leave 



speculation as to the origin and prehistoric annals of the 
Clan to those who delight in such attractive but generally 
useless inquiries. Skene holds that the Macdonalds are of 
Celtic, or at all events of mixed Celtic origin ; that is, 
descended from the Gallgall Gaelic pirates, or rovers, who 
are said to be so described to distinguish them from the 
Norwegian and Danish Fingall and Dubk-ghall, or white 
and black strangers or rovers. He maintains that they 
are of a purely Pictish descent, not even mixed with the 
Dalriadic Scots. Gregory thinks that " the earliest inhabi- 
tants of the Western Isles or Ebudes (corruptly Hebrides) 
were probably a portion of the Albanich, Caledonians, or 
Picts. In some of the Southern Islands, particularly in 
Isla, this race must have been displaced or overrun by the 
Dalriads on their first settlement ; so that, at the date of 
the Scottish conquest the Isles, like the adjacent mainland, 
were divided between the Picts and the Scots. The 
change produced in the original population of the Isles, 
by the influx of the Scots a cognate Celtic race was, 
however, trifling compared with that which followed the 
first settlement of the Scandinavians in the Isles towards 
the end of the ninth century." From 880 to about 1 100 
the Western Isles were under and governed by Norwegian 
and Danish kings. In 1103 the Islanders took for their 
king Lagman, the eldest son of Godred Crovan, King of 
Man. This Prince, after a reign of seven years, abdicated, 
when the nobility of the Isles applied to Murchad O'Brien, 
then King of Ireland, to send them over a Prince of his 
blood to act as Regent during the minority of Olave, 
surviving son of Godred Crovan who died at Jerusalem, 
where he went on a pilgrimage, shortly after his abdication 
of the throne. The Irish King sent them Donald McTade, 
who ruled over the Islanders for two years ; but he became 
so obnoxious, by his tyranny and oppression, that the 
Island Chiefs rose against him, and expelled him ; where- 
upon he fled to Ireland, and never again returned to the 
Isles. Olave succeeded and reigned for forty years, pre- 
serving his kingdom from aggression, and securing a long 


period of peace within his dominions. This king was 
known among the Highlanders as Olave the Red. He 
was succeeded by his son, Godred the Black, whose 
daughter, Ragnhildis, married Somerled, Prince or Lord of 
Argyle, from whom sprung the dynasty so well known in 
Scottish history and of which we shall have a good deal 
to say in the following pages as Lords of the Isles. 

It is impossible to decide as to the elements of which 
the inhabitants of the Western Isles were at this period 
composed ; but there appears to be no doubt that a mixture 
of Scandinavian and Celtic blood was effected in very 
early times ; and the same holds good of the contiguous 
mainland districts, which, being intersected by various arms 
of the sea, were also, like the Isles, overrun more or less 
by the Norwegian and Danish sea rovers ; but, in spite of 
this, history and topography prove beyond question that 
the Celtic language ultimately prevailed, and that it was 
very much the same as is spoken in the present day. 
While there is no doubt at all as to the mixture of races, 
it is much more difficult to decide to what extent the 
mixture prevailed ; but all the best authorities hold that 
the Celtic element predominated. It is, however, of much 
more importance to discover which of the Scandinavian 
tribes infused the largest portion of northern blood into the 
population of the Isles. Gregory says that the Irish 
annalists divided the piratical bands, " which in the ninth 
and following centuries infested Ireland, into two great 
tribes, styled by these writers, Fiongall, or white foreigners, 
and Dubhghall, or black foreigners. These are believed 
to represent the former, the Norwegians, the latter, the 
Danes ; and the distinction in the names given to them is 
supposed to have arisen from a diversity either in their 
clothing or in the sails of their vessels. These tribes had 
generally separate leaders, but they were occasionally 
united under one king ; and, although both were bent, first 
on ravaging the Irish shores, and afterwards on seizing 
portions of the Irish territories, they frequently turned their 
arms against each other. The Gaelic title of Righ Fiongall, 


or King of the Fiongall, so frequently applied to the Lords 
of the Isles, seems to prove that Olave the Red, from whom 
they were descended in the female line, was so styled, and 
that, consequently, his subjects in the Isles, in so far as 
they were not Celtic, were Fiongall or Norwegians. It has 
been remarked by one writer,* whose opinion is entitled 
to weight, that the names of places in the exterior Hebrides, 
or the long island, derived from the Scandinavian tongue, 
resemble the names of places in Orkney, Shetland, and 
Caithness. On the other hand, the corresponding names in 
the interior Hebrides are in a different dialect, resembling 
that of which the traces are to be found in the topography 
of Sutherland, and appear to have been imposed at a later 
period than the first mentioned names. The probability is, 
however, that the difference alluded to is not greater than 
might be expected in the language of two branches of the 
same race after a certain interval ; and that the Scandin- 
avian of the Hebrides was, therefore, derived from two 
successive Norwegian colonies. This view is further con- 
firmed by the fact, that the Hebrides, although long subject 
to Norway, do not appear ever to have formed part of the 
possessions of the Danes.-}- 

We now come to consider more especially the origin of 
the Macdonalds, at one time by far the most important, 
numerous, and powerful of the Western Clans. This noble 
race is undoubtedly descended from Somerled of Argyle ; 
but his origin is involved in obscurity and surrounded with 
considerable difficulty. Of his father, Gillebride, and of 
his grandfather, Gilledomnan, little is known but the names. 
According to both the Highland and Irish genealogists, 
Gilledomnan was sixth in descent from Godfrey MacFergus, 
who in an Irish chronicle is called Toshach of the Isles, 
and who lived in the reign of Kenneth MacAlpin. Tradi- 
tion asserts that Godfrey or one of his race was expelled 
from the Isles by the Danes,! which assertion if correct, 

* Chalmers' Caledonia, vol. i. , p. 266. 
) Highlands and Isles, pp. 8, 9. 

J Hugh Macdonald's MS. History of the Macdonalds, written about the end of 
seventeenth century. 


may apply to the conquest of Harald Harfager, who in all 
probability dispossessed many of the native Island chiefs. 
But the Celtic Seanachies are not satisfied with a descent 
even so remote as Fergus. They trace, through a long line 
of ancestors, the descent of that chief from the celebrated 
Irish King, Conn nan Ceud Cath, or Conn of the Hundred 
Battles. Such is the account of Somerled's origin accord- 
ing to those who maintain his Scoto-Irish descent. Others 
have maintained that he was undoubtedly a Scandinavian 
by male descent. " His name," says Gregory, " is certainly 
a Norse one* ; but then on the other hand, the names of 
his father and grandfather are purely Celtic ; whilst the 
inter-marriages that must have taken place between the 
two races in the Isles and adjacent coasts, make it impos- 
sible to found any argument on the Christian name alone. 
Somerled is mentioned more than once in the Norse Sagas, 
but never in such a way as to enable us to affirm with cer- 
tainty what the opinion of the Scandinavian writers was as 
to his origin. He appears to have been known to them as 
Suinarlidi Haullds, and the impression produced by the 
passages in which he is mentioned is rather against his 
being considered a Norseman. It is possible, however, as 
he was certainly descended from a noted individual of the 
name of Godfrey, that his ancestor may have been that 
Gofra MacArailt, King of the Isles, who died in 989. But, 
on the whole, the uniformity of the Highland and Irish 
traditions, which can be traced back at least four hundred 
years, lead to the conclusion that the account first given of 
the origin of Somerled is correct." 

We are informed by the Macdonald genealogists that 
Gillebride was expelled from his possessions, and that he 
and his son Somerled were obliged for a long time to con- 
ceal themselves in a cave in Morvern, from which circum- 
stance the father is known in tradition as Gillebride na 
liUamh, or of the Cave.f From certain circumstances, 

* The Norse Somerled, and the Gaelic Somhairle, are both rendered into 
English, Samuel. 

( "Fragment of a Manuscript History of the Macdonalds," written in the reign 
of Charles II., by Hugh Macdonald, printed from the Gregory collection in the 


obscurely hinted at, continues Gregory, it would seem that 
Gillebride, after the death of Malcolm Ceannmor, had, with 
the other Celtic inhabitants of Scotland, supported Donald 
Bane, the brother of Malcolm, in his claim to the Scottish 
throne, to the exclusion of Edgar, Malcolm's son, and that, 
consequently, on the final triumph of the Anglo-Saxon 
party, Gillebride would naturally be exposed to their 
vengeance in exact proportion to his power, and to the 
assistance he had given to the other party. His possessions 

" Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis," pages 282-324. It is often referred to by Gregory 
in his "Highlands and Isles". It begins as follows: "Sommerled, 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. In the meantime, Allin Mac 
Vich Allin coming with some forces to the land of Morverin for pillage and herships, 
intending to retire forthwith to Lochaber, from whence he came. From this Allan 
descended the family of Lochiel. Sommerled thought now it was high time to 
make himself known for the defence of his country, if he could, or at least see the 
same, having no company for the time. There was a young sprout of a tree near 
the cave which grew in his age of infancy. He plucked it up by the root, and 
putting it on his shoulder, came near the people of Morverin, desired them to be of 
good courage and do as he did, and so by this persuasion, all of them having 
pulled a branch, and putting the same on their shoulder, went on encouraging each 
other. Godfrey Du had possession of the Isles of the north side of Ardnamurchan 
from the King of Denmark. Olay compelled the inhabitants of some of these Isles 
to infest Morverin by landing some forces there. The principal surnames in the 
country were Macinneses and Macgillivrays, who are the same as the Macinneses. 
They, being in sight of the enemy, could act nothing without one to command 
them. At length they agreed to make the first person that should appear to them 
their general. Who came in the meantime but Sommerled, with his bow, quiver, 
and sword? Upon his appearance they raised a great shout of laughter. Sommer- 
led enquiring the reason, they answered they were rejoiced at his appearance. They 
told him that they had agreed to make the first that would appear their general. 
Sommerled said he would undertake to lead them, or serve as a man otherwise. 
But if they pitched upon him as their commander, they should swear to be obedient 
to his commands ; so, without any delay, they gave him an oath of obedience. 
There was a great hill betwixt them and the enemy, and Sommerled ordered his 
men to put off their coats, and put their shirts and full armour above their coats. 
So making them go three times in a disguised manner about the hill that they 
might seem more in number than they really were, at last he ordered them to 
engage the Danes, saying that some of them were on shore and the rest in their 
ships ; that those on shore would fight but faintly so near their ships. Withal he 
exhorted his soldiers to be of good courage, and to do as they would see him do. 
The first whom Sommerled slew he ript up and took out his heart, desiring the rest 
to do the same, because that the Danes were no Christians. So the Danes were 
put to the flight ; many of them were lost in the sea endeavouring to gain 
their ships ; the lands of Mull and Morverin being freed at that time from their 
yoke and slavery. After this defeat given to the Danes, Sommerled thought to 
recover Argyle from those who, contrary to right, had possessed it, it being wrung 
out of the hands of his father unjustly by Macbeath, Donald Bain, and the Danes." 


are believed to have been on the mainland of Argyle, but 
this has not been conclusively ascertained. Somerled when 
young was drawn from his obscurity, and placed at the 
head of the men of Morvern, to defend the district from a 
band of Norse pirates who threatened to ravage it. By 
his courage and skill Somerled completely defeated them ; 
and, following up his success, he soon after recovered his 
paternal inheritance and made himself master of a great 
portion of Argyle, and henceforth assumed the title of Lord, 
Thane, or Regulus of Argyle, and became one of the most 
powerful chiefs in Scotland. 

Smibert agrees generally with the better known writers 
already quoted, and considers it probable, from many con- 
current circumstances, that while the Macdonalds were 
wholly Celtic fundamentally, they had the blood of the 
Irish Celts commingled in their veins with that of the 
Pictish Celts. The term Gall-Gael applied to them by early 
writers, signifying strangers or Piratical Gaels, seems to him 
to prove that from the first they dwelt in the Isles or sea 
coasts of the west, and severed them broadly from the 
Norse pirates, who at the same time visited our western 
shores. " The Gall-Gael appear to be clearly distinguish- 
able from the primitive or Dalriadic Scots" who issued 
from Ireland, and originally peopled a considerable portion 
of Argyle, then termed Dalriada. " The sires of the Mac- 
donalds arrived, in all likelihood, at a somewhat later epoch, 
fixing themselves more peculiarly in the Isles of the western 
coasts ; though, when the Scots overturned the kingdom of 
the southern and eastern Picts in the ninth century, and 
shifted more or less extensively to the richer territories then 
acquired, the Gall-Gael seem to have also become the main 
occupants of Argyle and the surrounding mainland. From 
that period they are closely identified with the proper 
northern and north-western Gaelic Picts, with whom they, be- 
yond doubt, formed connections freely. The interests of both 
were henceforth nearly the same ; and for many successive 
centuries they struggled conjointly against the growing and 
adverse power of the Scottish monarchy of the Lowlands." 


Of this view of " the descent of the Siol Cuinn (the special 
name given from an early chief, named Conn of the Hun- 
dred Battles, to the ancestors of the Macdonalds) it may at 
all events be said that there would be some difficulty in 
offering a more rational and intelligible one, and it may be 
justified by various and strong arguments. The early and 
long continued hostility which they displayed towards the 
Scots will not admit of their being considered as a pure 
Scoto-Dalriadic tribe. On the other hand, their constant 
community of interests with the Gaelic Picts of the north 
and north-west goes far to prove a close connection with 
these, and a liberal intermixture of blood, though it does 
not altogether justify us in ascribing their descent wholly 
and primarily to that native and purely Celtic source. 
Other facts indeed point strongly to an Irish original. 
Among such facts may be reckoned the repeated references 
of the Macdonald race, to Ireland for aid, in all times of 
peril and difficulty, for many consecutive centuries. From 
the Somerleds of the eleventh, down to Donald (called the 
Bastard) in the sixteenth century, the kings and chiefs of 
the house are again and again recorded as having visited 
that island and sought assistance as from undoubted rela- 
tives. Nor did they do so vainly, the Macquarries, for 
example, being almost certainly among such introduced 
auxiliaries. Moreover the line and range of their early 
possessions lead us directly towards Ireland. The Isle of 
Man was long one of their chief holdings, while Bute, 
Arran, and Islay, with Cantire, were among their first Scot- 
tish seats, all being in the track of Irish rovers or emigrants. 
Again the heads of the Macdonalds themselves seem to 
have entertained opinions as to their descent only expli- 
cable on the same supposition. Sir James Macdonald, 
writing in 1615, speaks of his family as having been 'ten 
hundred years kindly Scotsmen under the Kings of Scot- 
land.' ... On the whole, the conclusion reasonably 
to be drawn from these and similar circumstances is, that 
the direct founders of the Macdonald race came primarily 
from Ireland at some very early period of the annals of 


the Dalriad-Scots ; and that they were left (or made them- 
selves) the successors of that people in place and power in 
the west of Scotland, at the precise time when the over- 
throw of the southern Picts drew their Dalriadic conquerors 
further inland. That the Siol Cuinn, or Race of Conn, 
then became deeply and inseparably blended in regard of 
blood, as well as of interests with the native northern 
Gael, is a farther conclusion equally consistent with facts 
and probability." 

" The almost natural division between the Highlands and 
the Lowlands, conjoined with the remembrances which 
must long have existed of Pictish greatness, ever urged the 
inhabitants of the former region of all sections and des- 
criptions to unite for the maintenance of its independence 
against the encroaching Lowlanders. Besides, the ties 
betwixt the Scots and the Gaelic Picts were broken up at 
a very early period. The former entirely lost their Pictish 
dialect, spoken in Bede's time, and became otherwise 
thoroughly saxonised. On the contrary, the Highlanders, 
whether natives or immigrants, Gaelic or Erse, were from 
first to last, of the same primary Celtic stock ; and, accord- 
ingly it was but natural that all of them should have com- 
bined against the Lowlanders as against a common foe, 
and should, in short, have been blended in the course of 
time into one people, and that people the Gael of Scot- 
The same writer proceeds to say that various other 
clans of less note are implicated in the question of the 
origin of the Macdonalds as well as themselves ; and he 
candidly admits, though personally disposed in favour of 
the Irish origin, that it is certainly enveloped in consider- 
able difficulties. He then goes on to point out in reply to 
those who consider an Irish origin " degrading," that such 
parties appear to forget that whatever Ireland may have 
been since, that to the ancient western world it was the 
very cradle of religion and the nursery of civilisation. He 
asserts that undoubted evidences exist of the advanced 
state of the Irish people at a time when the Celts of Britain 
were comparatively in a state of barbarism. To belong to 


a race " which sent forth Columba, and through him ori- 
ginated an lona, with all its concomitant blessings, might 
satisfy the pride of birth of even the haughtiest families ". 
The settlement of the Saint in lona would appear 
to confirm the supposition that the immigrants of the 
sixth century, who he thinks were accompanied by 
Saint Columba, and with whom the ancestors of the 
Macdonalds came over from Ireland, only obtained posses- 
sion at first of some of the smaller islands, and that they 
held little of the mainland until the tenth, eleventh, or 
twelth centuries, after the removal further south of the 

Summing up the views of other writers on this subject, 
particularly those above quoted, the editor of Fullarton's 
" History of the Highland Clans " assumes that the clan 
governed by Somerled formed part of the Gall-Gael ; that 
their independent kings must in all probability have been 
his ancestors ; and, therefore, that the names of these kings 
should be found in the old genealogies of Somerled's 
family. " But this appears scarcely to be the case. The 
last king of the Gall-Gael was Suibne, the son of Ken- 
neth, who died in the year 1034 ; and, according to the 
manuscript of 1450, an ancestor of Somerled, contem- 
porary with this petty monarch, bore the same name, from 
which it may be presumed that the person referred to in 
the genealogy and manuscript is one and the same indivi- 
dual. The latter, however, calls Suibne's father Nialgusa ; 
and in the genealogy there is no mention whatever of a 
Kenneth. But from the old Scottish writers we learn that 
at this time there was such a Kenneth, whom they call 
Thane of the Isles, and that one of the northern maormors 
also bore the same name, although it is not very easy to 
say what precise claim either had to be considered as the 
father of Suibne. There is also a further discrepancy 
observable in the earlier part of the Macdonald geneal- 
ogies, as compared with the manuscript ; and besides, the 
latter, without making any mention of those supposed 
kings, deviates into the misty region of Irish heroic fable 


and romance. At this point, indeed, there is a complete 
divergence, if not contrariety, between the history as con- 
tained in the Irish annals and the genealogy developed in 
the manuscript ; for, whilst the latter mentions the Gall- 
Gael under their leaders as far back as the year 856, the 
former connect Suibne by a different genealogy with the 
Kings of Ireland. The fables of the Highland and Irish 
Scnnachies now become connected with genuine history. 
The real descent of the chiefs was obscured or perplexed 
by the Irish genealogies and, previous to the eleventh 
century, neither these genealogies nor even that of the 
manuscript of 1450 can be considered as of any authority 
whatever. It seems somewhat rash, however, to conclude, 
as Mr. Skene has done, that the Siol Cuinn, or descend- 
ants of Conn, were of native origin. This exceeds the 
warrant of the premises, which merely carry the difficulty 
a few removes backward into the obscurity of time, and 
there leave the question in greater darkness than ever." 

Skene, in his " Highlanders of Scotland," writing of " Siol 
Cuinn," says : " This tribe was one far too distinguished 
to escape the grasping claims of the Irish Sennachies, 
it accordingly 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 existed 
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 sup- 
position 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." The writer then points out that it has been 
proved that the Irish traditions in Scotland were of a com- 
paratively modern origin, and that the Norwegian origin of 
the race has been assumed without solid reasons, mainly 
from the fact that the Danish and Norwegian pirates 


ravaged the western shores of Scotland, and brought its 
inhabitants under subjection, when the conquered Gaels, to 
some extent, adopted the piratical and predatory habits of 
their conquerors. The traditions of the Macdonalds them- 
selves, he says, tend to show that they could not have been 
of foreign origin. The whole of the Highlands, and especi- 
ally the districts possessed by the Gall-Gael, were inhabited 
by the Northern Picts, at least as late as the eleventh cen- 
tury. In the middle of the twelfth the Orkneyinga Saga 
terms Somerled and his sons, who were the chiefs of the 
tribe, the Dalveria Aett, or Dalverian family a term, ac- 
cording to Skene, " derived from Dala, the Norse name for 
the district of Argyle, and which implies that they have 
been for some time indigenous in the district ; and this is 
confirmed in still stronger terms by the Flatey-book, con- 
sequently the Macdonalds were either the descendants of 
these Pictish inhabitants of Argyle, or else they must have 
entered the county 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 recomend us unto your 
hieness with our service for ever, your grace shall under- 
stand that our forbears hath been from time to time* your 
servants unto your own kingdom of Scotland.' Although 
many other passages of a similar nature might be produced, 
these instances may suffice to show that there existed a 
tradition in this family of their having been natives of Scot- 
land from time 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 Gall- 
Gael, we fortunately possess distinct authority for both of 
these facts. For the former, John Elder includes the 

* The expression of " from time to time," when it occurs in ancient documents, 
always signifies from time immemorial. 


Macdonalds among the ' ancient stoke,' who still retained 
the tradition of a Pictish descent, in opposition to the later 
tradition insisted on 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 Gall-Gael in which they are described as the 
inhabitants of Argyle, Kintyre, Arran, and Man ; and as 
these were at this period the exact territories which Somer- 
led possessed, it follows of necessity that the Macdonalds 
were the same people." 

In another part of this valuable and now rare work, 
Skene holds that " we are irresistibly driven to the conclu- 
sion, that the Highland Clans are not of a different or 
foreign origin, but they are 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 after- 
wards found ". And he then proceeds : " This conclusion 
to which we have arrived by these general arguments is 
strongly corroborated by a very remarkable circumstance ; 
for, notwithstanding that the system of an Irish or 
Dalriadic origin of the Highland Clans had been introduced 
as early as the beginning of the fifteenth century, we can 
still trace the existence in the Highlands, even as late as 
the sixteenth century, of a still older tradition than that 
contained in the MS. of 1450 ; a tradition altogether dis- 
tinct 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 tradi- 
tion, which I shall bring fonvard, is contained in a letter 
dated 1542, and addressed to King Henry VIII. of England 


by a person designating himself 'John Elder, Clerk, a Redd- 
shanks'. It will be necessary to premise that the author 
uses the word ' Yrisc/te' 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 co-Hit REDD 
SCHANKES, and by liistoriagraphouris PlCTIS '. He then 
proceeds to give an account of the Highlanders ; he des- 
cribes 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 but 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 spirit- 
ualitie of Scotland will not heir, in no maner of wyse nor 
confesse that ever such a kynge, namede Albanactus reagned 
ther, the which derivacion all the Yrische men of Scotland 
which be the auncient stoke, cannot, nor will not denye. 
But our said bussheps drywithe Scotland and theme selfes 
from a certain lady namede Scota (as they alledge) came 
out of Egipte, a maraculous hote cuntretti, to secreate 
hirself emonges theame in the cold ayre of Scotland, which 
they can not afferme by no probable auncient author.' " From 
the extracts which have been made from this curious 
author, continues Skene, it will be at once seen that there 
was at that time in Scotland two conflicting traditions re- 
garding the origin of the Reddschankes or Highlanders, the 
one supported by the Highlanders of the more auncient 
stoke, 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 gaining ground, and must indeed have generally pre- 
vailed. The last tradition is easily identified with that 
contained in the MS. of 1450 and consequently there must 
have existed among the purer Highlanders 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 pcne sept entrionalium 
Scottorum et omnium Pictorum monasteriis non parvo 
tempore arcem tenebat,' as follows : ' The house of his reli- 
gion was no small time the head house of all the monasteries 
of the northern Scottes, and of the Abbyes of all the REDD- 
SCHANKES.' It would be needless to multiply quotations to 
show that the Highlanders were at that time universally 
known by the term Reddshankes." 

Our author further says in regard to this the oldest tra- 
dition which can be traced in the country that it accords 
with the conclusions at which he had arrived otherwise by 
a strict and critical examination of all the ancient authori- 
ties on the subject, and 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 ; and 
he points out that while the authority of John Elder proves 
that the tradition of the descent of the Highlanders ex- 
isted before the Irish or Dalriadic system was introduced, 
we can at the same time learn from him the origin of the 
later system and the cause of its obtaining such universal 
belief. The first trace of the Dalriadic system is to be 
found in the famous letter addressed to the Pope in 1320 
by the party who stood out for the independence of Scot- 
land against the claims of Edward I. To this party the 
clergy belonged, while those who supported Edward I. 
believed in the more ancient tradition on which he founded 
his claim, and which included a belief in their descent from 
the Picts. The question of the independence of Scotland 
was thus to a great extent, unfortunately, connected by the 
two parties with the truth of their respective traditions, 
and " it is plain that as the one party fell, so would the 
tradition which they asserted ; and the final supremacy of 
the independent party 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 Highlanders, as well as the kings and clergy of Scot- 
land, from the Scots of Dalriada ". But in spite of all this, 
John Elder's letter proves that, notwithstanding the succes- 
sion of false traditions which prevailed in the Highlands at 
different periods, traces of the ancient and probably correct 
one were to be found as late as the middle of the sixteenth 

What is true of the Highlanders generally must be more 
or less true of individual clans, and of none more so than 
of the Macdonalds, to whom we must now return. From 
all these authorities, though a little conflicting in some 
points, there seems to be no difficulty in coming to the 
conclusion, that whether Somerled, at a remote period, 
descended from some of the Scoto-Irish immigrants to the 
Western Isles or not, the date of such descent is so far 
back, and his ancestors, if not of them, were so mixed up 
with the original Celtic Picts, who, in those remote ages, 
inhabited the Isles and North-west Highlands that the 
Macdonalds and their immediate progenitor, Somerled of 
the Isles, may be fairly described as of native Highland 
origin, with at least as much accuracy as Her Majesty of 
the United Kingdom, notwithstanding her continental con- 
nections, is justly described as of native British descent. 


FROM the death of Suibne to the accession of Gille- 
bride, father of Somerled, little or nothing is known 
of the ancestors of the Macdonalds. Gillebride 
was expelled from his possessions in the Scottish Highlands 
by the Danes and the Fiongalls, whereupon he took refuge 
in Ireland, and "afterwards prevailed upon the descendants 
of Colla, to assist him in an attempt to obtain possession 
of his ancient inheritance in Scotland. Four or five hun- 
dred of these joined him and accompanied him to Alban, 
but he was unsuccessful and failed to secure his object. It 
was only after this that Somerled, for the first time, comes 
into notice. He appears to have been of a very different 
temper to his father. At first he lived in retirement, 
musing in silent solitude over the ruined fortunes of his 
family. When a favourable opportunity presented itself, 
he, as already stated, placed himself at the head of the 
people of Morvern ; attacked the Norwegians, whom, after 
a long and desperate struggle, he expelled from the district; 
and ultimately made himself master, in addition to Mor- 
vern, of Lochaber and Argyle. When David the First, in 
1 135, expelled the Norwegians from Man, Arran, and Bute, 
Somerled obtained a grant of those islands from the king. 
" But finding himself unable to contend with the Norwegians 
of the Isles, whose power remained unbroken, he resolved 
to recover by policy what he despaired of acquiring by 
force of arms " ; and, with this view, he succeeded in 
obtaining, about 1140, the hand of Ragnhildis, daughter 
of Olave, surnamed the Red, then the Norwegian King of 
the Isles. The following curious account relating how 
Somerled secured the daughter of Olave, is given in the 
Macdonald MS. : " Olay encamped at Loch Storna ; 
Sommerled came to the other side of the loch, and cried 



out if Olay was there, and how he fared ? Olay replied 
that he was well. Then said Sommerled, I come from 
Sommerled, Thane of Argyle, who promises to assist you 
conditionally in your expedition, provided you bestow 
your daughter on him. Olay answered that he would not 
give him his daughter, and that he knew he himself was 
the man ; but that he and his men should follow him in 
his expedition. So Sommerled resolved to follow Olay. 
There was at that time a foster-brother of Olay's, one 
Maurice MacNeill, in Olay's company, who was a near 
friend of Sommerled ; and when Sommerled brought his 
two galleys near the place where Olay's ship lay, this 
Maurice aforesaid came where he was, and said that he 
would find means by which he might come to get Olay's 
daughter. So, in the night time, he bored Olay's ship 
under water with many holes, and made a pin for each 
hole, overlaying them with tallow and butter. When they 
were up in the morning and set to sea, after passing the 
point of Ardnamurchan, Olay's ship sprung a leak, casting 
the tallow and butter out of the holes by the ship tossing 
on the waves, and beginning to sink, Olay and his men 
cried for help to Sommerled. Maurice replied that Som- 
merled would not save him unless he bestowed his daughter 
upon him. At last, Olay being in danger of his life, 
confirmed by an oath that he would give his daughter to 
Sommerled, who received him immediately into his galley. 
Maurice went into Olay's galley and fixed the pins in the 
holes which he had formerly prepared for them, and by 
these means they landed in safety. From that time the 
posterity of Maurice are called Maclntyres (or wright's 
sons) to this day. On this expedition Olay and Sommerled 
killed MacLier, who possessed Strath within the Isle of 
Skye. They killed Godfrey Du, or the Black, by putting 
out his eyes, which was done by the hermit MacPoke, 
because Godfrey Du had killed his father formerly. Olay, 
surnamed the Red, killed MacNicoll in North Uist likewise. 
Now Sommerled marrying Olay's daughter, and becoming 
great after Olay's death, which death, with the relation and 


circumstances thereof, if you be curious to know, you may 
get a long account of it in Camden." 

On this point Gregory says, " It appears by no means 
improbable, too, that Somcrled, aware of his own power 
and resources, contemplated the conquest of a portion, at 
least, of the Isles, to which he may have laid claim through 
his remote ancestor, Godfrey. On these or similar grounds, 
Olave the Red, King of Man and the Isles, was naturally 
desirous to disarm the enmity, and to secure the support 
of the powerful Lord of Argyle, whose marriage with 
Ragnhildis, the daughter of Olave, about 1 140 the first 
authentic event in the life of Somerled seems to have 
answered this purpose. Of this marriage, which is lamented 
by the author of the ' Chronicle of Man,' as the cause of 
the ruin of the whole kingdom of the Isles, the issue was 
three sons Dugall, Reginald, and Angus." In a foot-note 
Gregory informs us that in regard to Somerled's sons, he 
follows " the Orkneyinga Saga, p. 383, which is very 
explicit, and is a better authority than the Chronicle of 
Man," which latter, adds a fourth son, Olave. In Skene 
and in the " History of the Highland Clans," he is said to 
have had another son, Gillecallum, by a previous marriage. 

Olave the Red, Somerled's father-in-law, was, in 1 1 54, 
assassinated by his nephews, the sons of Harald, who made 
a claim to the half of the kingdom of the Isles. His son, 
Godred the Black, was at the time in Norway, but, hearing 
of his father's death, he immediately returned to the Isles, 
where he was received with acclamation and great rejoicing 
by the inhabitants as their king. He apprehended and 
executed the murderers of his father. He went to Ireland 
to take part in the Irish wars, early in his reign ; but after- 
wards returned to Man, and became so tyrannical, thinking 
no one could resist his power, that he soon alienated 
the insular nobility one of whom, Thorfinn, the most 
powerful of the Norwegian nobles, sent word to Somerled 
requesting him to send his son, Dugall, then a child, that 
he might, being Godred's nephew, be proposed King of the 
Isles. The ambitious Somerled readily entered into the 


views of Thorfinn, who, having obtained possession of 
Dugall, carried him through all the Isles, except Man, and 
compelled the inhabitants to acknowledge him as their 
king, at the same time taking hostages for their fidelity 
and allegiance. One of the Island Chiefs, named Paul 
Balkason, and by some called the Lord of Skye, refused to 
comply with Thorfinn's demand, and, escaping secretly, he 
fled to the Court of Godred in Man, and informed him of 
what had just taken place in the Isles, and of the intended 
revolution. Hearing this, Godred roused himself and 
collected a large fleet, with which he proceeded against the 
rebels, who, under the command of Somerled, with a fleet 
of eighty galleys, met him, and a bloody but indecisive 
battle ensued. This engagement was fought on the night 
of the Epiphany, and though neither could claim the victory, 
next morning a treaty was entered into, by which Godred 
ceded to the sons of Somerled what were afterwards 
called the Southern Isles, thus dividing the sovereignty 
of the Isles and establishing them into two great principa- 
lities. By this convention he retained for himself the North 
Isles and the Isle of Man, those south of Ardnamurchan 
becoming nominally the possession of the sons of Somerled, 
but in reality of that warlike Chief himself, his sons being 
all minors, and he being naturally their protector and 
guardian. In spite of all these insular proceedings, and 
the division of their possessions between themselves and 
among the resident chiefs, the allegiance of all the Isles to 
Norway still continued intact. It is somewhat curious 
that Kintyre, a part of the mainland, should always have 
been included with what was called the South Isles ; but it 
is explained in a footnote by Gregory as follows : " The 
origin of this was a stratagem of Magnus Barefoot. After 
that Prince had invaded and conquered the Isles, he made 
an agreement with Malcolm Canmor, by which the latter 
was to leave Magnus and his successors in peaceable pos- 
session of all the Isles which could be circumnavigated. 
The King of Norway had himself drawn across the narrow 
isthmus between Kintyre and Knapdale, in a galley, by 


which he added the former district to the Isles." This 
anecdote has been doubted by some, but it appears in 
Magnus Berfaet's Saga, a contemporary work ; and it is 
certain that, as late as the commencement of the seven- 
teenth century, Kintyre was classed by the Scottish 
Government as one of the South Isles. 

About two years after this treaty was entered into, for 
some cause not clearly ascertained, Somerled invaded the 
Isle of Man with a fleet of fifty-three galleys, and after 
routing Godred, laid the island waste. Whether the 
invasion was in consequence of some infringement of the 
convention, or in consequence of the insatiable ambition of 
Somerled, it is impossible to say, but the power of the 
King of Man was so much shattered, that he was obliged 
to pay a visit to his rival in Norway, and to seek his assist- 
ance. He, however, did not return until after the death 
of Somerled in 1 1 64, a fact from which Gregory thinks it 
may be inferred that the latter had succeeded in extending 
his sway over the whole of the Isles. 

Meanwhile Somerled was not idle. Malcolm IV. was 
now King of Scotland, and to him Somerled had early 
made himself obnoxious by espousing the cause of his 
nephews, the sons of Wymund, or Malcolm MacHeth, to 
whom, on his first appearance, Somerled gave his sister in 
marriage, a circumstance which unmistakably shows the 
opinion he held of the justice of Malcolm's claim to 
the Earldom of Moray, while it suited the Government to 
detain him in prison, as an alleged impostor, though his 
claims seems now, on minute and careful inquiry, to be 
considered well founded by the best authorities. The 
extensive power and high position ultimately attained by 
this Island Chief may be inferred from the fact that he 
was able on one occasion to bring his dispute with the 
King to a termination by a solemn treaty, afterwards 
considered so important as to form an epoch from which 
Royal Charters were regularly dated. He is, however, 
again very soon in arms against the King, having joined 
the powerful party who determined to depose His Majesty, 


and place the Boy of Egremont on the throne. He first 
infested various parts of the coast, and afterwards, for some 
time, carried on a vexatious predatory war. The attempt 
to depose Malcolm soon failed ; but the King, convinced 
that the existence of an independent Chief like Somerled, 
was incompatible with the interests of the central Govern- 
ment and the maintenance of public order, requested the 
Island Chief to resign his possessions into His Majesty's 
hands, and to hold them in future as a vassal from the 
Crown. This Somerled declined to do, and boldly declared 
war against Malcolm himself, who immediately prepared to 
carry out his intention against the Island King, by invading 
his territories with a powerful army called together for the 
purpose. Emboldened by his previous successes, Somerled 
determined to meet the King with a numerous army from 
Argyle, Ireland, and the Isles ; and having collected them 
together, he sailed up the Clyde with one hundred and 
sixty galleys, landed his followers near Renfrew, threaten- 
ing, as the Chroniclers inform us, to subdue the whole of 
Scotland. He there met the Royal army under the com- 
mand of the High Steward of Scotland, by whom his army 
was defeated, and he himself and one of his sons, " Gille- 
colane "* (Gillecallum or Malcolm) were slain. The 
remaining portion of his followers dispersed. " Sommerled 
being envied by the rest of the nobility of Scotland for his 
fortune and valour, King Malcolm being young, thought 
by all means his kingdom would suffer by the faction, 
ambition, and envy of his leading men, if Sommerled's 
increasing power would not be crushed. Therefore, they 
convened and sent an army to Argyle, under the command 
of Gilchrist, Thane of Angus, who, harrassing and ravaging 
the country wherever he came, desired Sommerled to give 
up his right of Argyle or abandon the Isles. But Som- 
merled, making all the speed he could in raising his vassals 
and followers, went after them ; and, joining battle, they 
fought fiercely on both sides with great slaughter, till night 
parted them. Two thousand on Sommerled's side, and 

* Hailes Annals, ad Annum 1164. 


seven thousand on Gilchrist's side, were slain in the field. 
Being wearied, they parted, and marched off at the dawn 
of day, turning their backs to one another. After this 
when the King came to manhood, the nobles were still in 
his ears, desiring him to suppress the pride of Sommerled, 
hoping, if he should be crushed, they should or might get 
his estate to be divided among themselves, and at least 
get him expelled the country. Sommerled being informed 
hereof, resolved to lose all, or possess all he had in the 
Highlands ; therefore, gathering together all his forces from 
the Isles and the Continent, and shipping them for Clyde, 
he landed in Greenock. The King came with his army to 
Glasgow in order to give battle to Sommerled, who 
marched up the south side of the Clyde, leaving his galleys 
at Greenock. The King's party quartered at Renfrew. 
Those about him thought proper to send a message to 
Sommerled, the contents of which were, that the King 
would not molest Sommerled for the Isles, which were 
properly his wife's right ; but as for the lands of Argyle 
and Kintyre, he would have them restored to himself. 
Sommerled replied that he had as good a right to the lands 
upon the Continent as he had to the Isles ; yet those lands 
were unjustly possessed by the King, MacBeath, and 
Donald Bain, and that he thought it did not become His 
Majesty to hinder him from the recovery of his own rights, 
of which his predecessors were deprived by MacBeath, out 
of revenge for standing in opposition to him after the 
murder of King Duncan. As to the Isles, he had an 
undoubted right to them, his predecessors being possessed 
of them by the goodwill and consent of Eugenius the 
First, for obligations conferred upon him ; that when his 
forefathers were dispossessed of them by the invasion of 
the Danes, they had no assistance to defend or recover them 
from the Scottish King, and that he had his right of them 
from the Danes ; but, however, he would be assisting to 
the King in any other affairs, and would prove as loyal as 
any of his nearest friends, but as long as he breathed, he 
would not condescend to resign any of his rights which 


he possessed to any ; that he was resolved to lose all, or 
keep all, and that he thought himself as worthy of his own, 
as any about the King's Court. The messenger returned 
with this answer to the King, whose party was not altoge- 
ther bent upon joining battle with Sommerled. Neither 
did the King look much after his ruin, but, as the most of 
kings are commonly led by their councillors, the King 
himself being young, they contrived Sommerled's death 
in another manner. There was a nephew of Sommerled's, 
Maurice MacNeill, his sister's son, who was bribed to 
destroy him. Sommerled lay encamped at the confluence 
of the river Pasley into Clyde. His nephew taking a little 
boat, went over the river, and having got private audience 
of him, being suspected by none, stabbed him, and made 
his escape. The rest of Sommerled's men, hearing the 
death and tragedy of their leader and master, betook 
themselves to their galleys. The King coming to view the 
corpse, one of his followers, with his foot, did hit it. 
Maurice being present, said, that though he had done the 
first thing most villainously and against his conscience, that 
he was unworthy and base so to do ; and withal drew his 
long Scian, stabbed him, and escaped by swimming over 
to the other side of the river, receiving his remission from 
the King thereafter, with the lands which were formerly 
promised him. The King sent a boat with the corpse of 
Sommerled to Icollumkill at his own charges. This is the 
report of twenty writers in Icollumkill, before Hector 
Boetius and Buchanan were born. . . . Sommerled 
was a well tempered man, in body shapely, of a fair piercing 
eye, of middle stature, and quick discernment."* 

Gregory is disposed to believe in the account which says 
" that he was assassinated in his tent by an individual in 
whom he placed confidence, and that his troops, thus 
deprived of their leader, returned in haste to the Isles." 
He does not, however, adopt the conclusion that Somer- 
led was buried in Icolmkill. " Modern enquiries," he says, 
" rather lead to the conclusion that he was interred at the 

* Macdonald MS. : printed in the " Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis". 


Church of Sadale, in Kintyre, where Reginald, his son, 
afterwards founded a monastery." 

A recent writer, who claims descent for the Macdonalds 
from Fergus Mor, son of Eire, " who, about the year 506, 
permanently laid the foundation of the Dalriadic Kingdom 
of Scotland," sums up the character of Somerled thus 
The family of Fergus Mor continued to maintain a leading 
position in Scotland, supplying with few exceptions, the 
line of Dalriadic kings, and many of the more powerful of 
its thanes, or territorial lords. Of the latter, the most 
historical, and, it may be truly added, the most patriotic, 
was a great thane of Argyle, who appeared in the twelfth 
century, called Somliairle among his Celtic kinsmen, but 
better known as Somerled, which was the Norwegian form 
of his name. During the tenth and eleventh centuries, 
frequent settlements were made by Norwegian colonists 
among the Celtic population of the Highlands and Isles of 
Scotland. Although, however, the evils of Northern 
rapacity and oppression were keenly felt, the Celtic element 
continued to predominate even during the most disastrous 
periods. At length, a deliverer arose in Somerled, who 
was the son of a Celtic father, and a fair-haired, blue-eyed 
Norwegian mother. Few, if any, military leaders have left 
their marks more broadly or distinctly in Scottish history 
than he. This fact stands clearly out not only from the 
records of his career, preserved in authentic chronicles, but 
perhaps even more strikingly in the circumstantial traditions 
respecting him which still exist in Argyleshire and the 
Isles. These traditions when compared with the well- 
authenticated records of his life, appear like the fragments 
of some history that had been written of him, but is now 
lost, and hence they serve to supplement attractively the 
curt and dry details of the old chronicles. Many of these 
traditions refer to the youthful days of Somerled, who 
appears to have grown up an indolent and handsome giant. 
His father, Gillebride, regarded with contempt the seem- 
ingly unwarlike nature of his youngest son, who occupied 
himself in hunting and fishing, whilst his brothers trained 


themselves to engage, as opportunities offered, in deadly 
conflict with their Norwegian oppressors. Somerled's 
indolent and pleasant time, however, was soon destined to 
end. His father, being driven from the hills and glens of 
Argyle, was compelled to conceal himself in a cave in 
Morven, and from that moment Somerled began to take 
serious counsel regarding the position of affairs with his 
youthful companions of the chase. He found them ready, 
and equally prepared to hunt the wild boar, or assault the 
dreaded Norsemen. Somerled's very nature thenceforward 
was entirely changed ; he became a new man ; the indolent 
dreamer was suddenly absorbed in the delights of stratagem 
and battle. He spoiled like the eagle, and had no joy so 
great as when in the act of rending the prey. His little 
band gathered strength as he went, and under his eye 
dealt blow after blow on the bewildered enemy, until the 
Norsemen, whether soldiers or settlers, quickly abandoned 
garrisons and settlements in Argyle. They crowded into 
the Hebridean Islands, whither Somerled pursued them, 
capturing the Islands in detail, killing or expelling the 
invaders, and firmly establishing once more the old Celtic 
authority. Thus, on the ruin of the Norwegian power, 
Somerled built up his Island throne, and became not only 
the greatest thane of his family, but the founder of that 
second line of Island rulers, who, for nearly a period of four 
centuries, were occasional and formidable rivals of the 
Scottish kings.* 

We have seen that Somerled, by Elfrica or Rachel, 
daughter of Olave the Red, King of Man, had three sons, 
first, Dugall, ancestor of the Macdougalls of Lorn and 
Dunolly ; second, Reginald, from whom all the branches of 
the Clan Donald with whom we shall specially deal in the 
following pages ; and third, Angus, who succeeded to Bute, 
and was killed in Skye with his three sons in 1210. One 
of the sons of the latter, James, had a daughter, Jane, who 
married Alexander, son of Walter, High Steward of Scot- 

" An Historical Account of the Macdonells of Antrim," by the Rev. George 
Hill, editor of the " Montgomery Manuscripts". 


land, in right of whom he claimed Bute and Arran. Somer- 
led also had a daughter, Beatrice. James Macdonald, in his 
Hebrides, p. 705, states that in the year 181 1, the following 
inscription was legible on a monumental slab in lona : 
Bekag Nyn S/wrle Ilvrid Priorissa : that is, Beatrice, 
daughter of Somerled, Prioress. 

Besides the three sons of his marriage with Rachel, 
daughter of Olave the Red, Somerled had other sons, who 
seemed to have shared with their brothers, according to the 
then prevalent custom of gavel-kind, the mainland posses- 
sions held by their father ; whilst the sons descended of 
the house of Man divided amongst them, in addition, the 
South Isles, as ceded by Godred in 1 1 56. He is said by 
some authorities to have been twice married, and that 
Gillecallum, or Malcolm, and other sons, were by the first 

It has never been disputed that this Somerled was the 
immediate ancestor of the family of Macdonald. The 
period immediately succeeding his death is historically 
very obscure. " A second Somerled is found apparently 
holding his place, and many of his possessions, during the 
first twenty years of the succeeding, or thirteenth century. 
This must either have been a son or a grandson of the 
other most probably the latter, since Gillecolam, appa- 
rently the son of the elder Somerled by a first marriage, 
fell with him at Renfrew, and in all likelihood left the 
offspring, which bore the grandsire's name. This is the 
most feasible way in which the existence and the rule of 
the second Somerled can well be explained."f The author 
of the Macdonald MS., in the Transactions of the lona 
Club, who, it must be stated, cannot always be depended 
upon, says that " after Sommerled, his son Sommerled 
succeeded him as Thane of Argyle ; Reginald his brother, 
the Isles ; Dugall, Lorn ; and Gillies, had Kintyre, by the 
disposition of their father. Sommerled pretended that the 
people of Cowal and Lennox harrayed his lands of their 
store and cattle, and therefore made incursions on them, 

f Smibert's Highlanders. 


of which they complained to the King. Furthermore, he 
would have the lands which were left by his father to his 
brethren at his own disposal. The King sent the Earl of 
March with a considerable body of men against him, who 
was so favourable that he advised, at a private conference, 
that since he lost his affection for his brethren, by seizing 
on those lands which their father left them, he could not 
stand out against the King and them, and therefore that it 
was best he should go along with him, and he would 
procure for him the King's pardon and favour ; so he did, 
and was pardoned by the King. Shortly thereafter he 
died, leaving two sons, John and Maolmory, who were both 
young. Of this John are descended the MacEans of 
Ardnamurchan. He was buried at Icollumkill. Reginald, 
his brother, became tutor to John." Gregory says nothing 
about this second Somerled, but, at page 67, he correctly 
traces the Maclans of Ardnamurchan from John Sprangach, 
younger son of Angus Mor of Isla. The editor of Fullar- 
ton's " Highland Clans " considers the existence of this 
second Somerled " very doubtful ". Skene, however, 
believes in his existence. At this time of day it is impos- 
sible to settle the point ; but it is of little importance 
whether he existed or not, as even if he had there is now 
no question as to his successors having become extinct 
soon after his own death. 

Dougal (said by all the best authorities to have been 
Somerled's eldest son by the second marriage), succeeded 
to the Southern Isles and part of Argyle, if the Norse 
Sagas and native writers are to be credited, but his exact 
position has never been clearly defined. The records 
of the time are most confusing and obscure, but all autho- 
rities are agreed that two or three of his line succeeded 
him ; and there is no doubt whatever that his main line 
terminated in two heiresses the daughters of " King 
Ewin," the eldest of whom, according to Skene, married 
the Norwegian King of Man ; and the other, Alexander 
of the Isles, a grandson of Reginald, and ancestor of the 
MacAlastairs of Kintyre. Gregory does not enter at any 


length into this part of the history of the Island Chiefs 
that of the immediate descendants of Somerled before 
the great expedition of Haco, King of Norway beyond 
stating that " from King Dugall sprung the great House of 
Argyle and Lorn, patronymically Macdugall,* which, at the 
time of Haco's expedition, was represented by Dugall's 
grand-son, Ewin, commonly called King Ewin, and some- 
times erroneously King John " ; but Skene informs us, that 
the failure of the male descendants of Dugall in the person 
of Ewin, had the effect 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 mar- 
riage ". The Clan Dugall is generally, and, we believe, 
more correctly held to be descended from Dugall, the 
eldest son of Somerled himself, but our present purpose 
does not require us to go into a discussion of that question, 
as we are only dealing with the descendants of Donald, 
undoubtedly a son of Reginald, son of Somerled, Thane of 

Somerled was succeeded in his territories of Isla, Kin- 
tyre, and part of Lorn, by his son, 


who assumed the title of Lord of the Isles, or received 
it from his followers ; for at that time, whatever chief 
led either party, when the possessions of Somerled were 
subdivided among his sons, was called by his supporters, 
King of the Isles. We find that both Dugall and Re- 
ginald were styled Kings of the Isles at the same time 
that Reginald, the son of Godred the Black, was called 
King of Man and the Isles ; and in the next generation 
mention is made in a Norse chronicle of three Kings of 

* This family used generally the territorial surname of " de Ergadia," or "of 
Argyle ". 


the Isles, all of the race of Somerled existing at one and 
the same time. From this Gregory infers " that the word 
king as used by the Norwegians and their vassals in the 
Isles, was not confined, as in Scotland, to one supreme 
ruler', but that it had with them an additional meaning, 
corresponding either to prince of the blood-royal or to 
magnate. Many Seannachies or genealogists in later 
times, being ignorant of, or having overlooked this dis- 
tinction, have, by means of the expression King of the 
Isles, been led to represent those whom they style the 
direct heirs or successors of Somerled, through his son 
Reginald, and who alone, according to them, bore the 
royal title, as holding a rank very different from what 
they actually did." 

A most important change came over the fortunes of this 
family in 1220, when King Alexander the Second led an 
army into the district of Argyle, for the first time annexed 
it decisively to the Crown, and, according to Smibert, ex- 
pelled the second Somerled, who died soon after. Alexander, 
determined upon breaking up the kingdom of the Western 
Isles, and to reduce the power of its insular chiefs, con- 
firmed in their possession on the Western shores all those 
who agreed to submit to his authority and consented to 
hold their lands direct from the Crown of Scotland. In 
place of those who still held out, he invited families from 
the adjoining tribes, and planted and confirmed them in 
the lands of the ancient possessors. It is about this time 
that Highland families first began to assume surnames, 
and it was about the date of this division of the territories 
of Argyle, that we find mentioned for the first time such 
names as the Macgregors, Macnaughtons, Macneils, Clan 
Chattan, and Laments. At the same time, Argyle, which 
extended much further inland than the present county 
does, was formed into a Sheriffship the hereditary ap- 
pointment being in favour of the ancestors of the present 
House of Argyle. The whole of Ergadia Borealis, or 
North Argyle, was at the same time granted to the Earl of 
Ross for services rendered to the King. 


From Reginald, King of the Isles, sprang two great 
families, that of Isla descended from his son Donald, and 
therefore patronymically styled Macdonald ; and that of 
lii/te descended from his son Ruari, and therefore patrony- 
mically styled Macruari.* It appears that most of the 
descendants of Somerled had for a century after his death 
a divided allegiance, holding part of their lands, those in 
the Isles, from the King of Nonvay, their mainland 
domains, at the same time, being held of the King of 
Scotland. The latter, whose power was now gradually 
increasing, could not be expected to allow the Isles to re- 
main dependent on Norway without his making an effort 
to conquer them. The first footing obtained by the Scots 
in the Isles was, apparently, soon after the death of 
Somerled, when the Steward of Scotland seized the Island 
of Bute. That island seems after this to have changed 
masters several times, and, along with Kintyre, to have 
been a subject of dispute between the Scots and Nor- 
wegians, whilst in the course of these quarrels the family 
of the Steward strengthened their claim by marriage in 
the following manner : We have seen that Angus Mac- 
Somerled (who is supposed to have been Lord of Bute) 
and his three sons, were killed in 1210 ; nor does it appear 
that Angus had any other male issue. James, one of 
these sons, left a daughter and heiress, Jane, married to 
Alexander, the son and heir of Walter the High Steward 
of Scotland, who, in her right, claimed the Isle of Bute, 
and, perhaps, Arran also.f This claim was naturally re- 
sisted by Ruari, the son of Reginald, till the dispute was 
settled for a time by his expulsion, and the seizure of 
Bute and Arran by the Scots. It has been maintained by 

Both the Macdonalds and Macruaries used the territorial surnames of de 
Yla, or " of Isla," and " de Insulis." or " of the Isles ". 

t " In the traditions of the Stewarts, this lady's grandfather is called Angus 
Vlactfo, which, as I conceive, is an error for Angus MacSr/-the latter being 
the way in which MacSomerled (spelt MacSomhairle) is pronounced in Gaelic. 
I hat there was about this time a matrimonial alliance between the house of Stewart 
and that of Isla, is probable from a dispensation in 1342, for the marriage of two 
individuals of these families, as being within the forbidden degrees Andrew 
Stewart's Hist, of the Stewarts, p. 433. "Footnote in Grtgory. 


some writers, among them, the editor of Fullarton's Clans, 
that Ruari was the eldest son of Reginald. Others hold 
that Donald was the eldest ; and it is impossible now to 
say which is the correct view ; but this is of less conse- 
quence, as it has been conclusively established that Ruari's 
descendants terminated in the third generation in a female, 
Amie, who married John of Isla, great-grandson of Donald 
of Isla, Ruari's brother, and direct ancestor of all the 
existing branches of the Macdonalds. Thus, the succes- 
sion of the ancient House of Somerled fell indisputably 
to the descendants of Donald, son of Reginald, and 
grandson to the illustrious Somerled, Lord of Argyle, who 
became the most powerful, and whose territories were the 
most extensive, of all the Highland Clans ; indeed at one 
time they were equal to all the others put together. 

Roderick followed the instincts of his Norwegian ances- 
tors and became a desperate pirate, whose daring incursions 
and predatory expeditions fill the annals of the period. 
He had two sons, Allan and Dugall, who settled down 
among their relatives of the west. Dugall joined Haco in 
his expedition against the Isles, and, in return for his 
services, obtained a considerable addition to his previous 
possessions, including the possessions of his brother Allan, 
called " Rex Hebudem ". He died in 1268 without issue. 
Allan succeeded his father, but left no legitimate male 
issue, when his possessions went to his only daughter 
Christina, who resigned her lands to the king, and had 
them re-conveyed to her to strengthen her position against 
the claims of her natural brother, Roderick, who, however, 
appears to have come into possession afterwards, probably 
on the death of his sister, as we find his lands forfeited in 
the reign of Robert Bruce, in consequence of the share he 
took in the Soulis conspiracy of 1320. His lands were, 
however, restored to his son Ranald, who also had lands 
from William, Earl of Ross, in Kintail.f in connection 
with which he became embroiled with that powerful Chief, 

t Charter of King David, 4th July, 1342 ; and Robertson's Index, p. 48, David 
II. ; also Origines Parochiales Scotiae. 


when a feud ensued, which resulted in Ranald's death. In 
1346, David II. summoned the Scottish Barons to meet 
him at Perth, when Ranald MacRuari made his appearance 
with a considerable retinue and took up his quarters in the 
monastery of Klcho, a few miles from the city ; whereupon 
the Earl of Ross, who also attended in obedience to the 
King's orders, determined to be revenged on his vassal, 
and, entering the convent about the middle of the night, 
he killed Ranald and seven of his principal followers. 
Leaving no succession, his lands fell to his sister Amie, 
who, as already stated, married, and carried her lands to 
John of Isla, of whom hereafter. These lands, according 
to Gregory, comprised also the Isles of Uist, Barra, Eigg, 
Rum, and the Lordship of Garmoran (also called Garbh- 
chrioch), which "comprehends the districts of Moydert, 
Arasaig, Morar, and Knoydart," being the original posses- 
sions of the family in the North.* A charter was granted 
to the Bishop of Lismore, 1st January, 1507 [Mag. Sig. L. 
xiv. No. 405], confirming two evidents made by Reginald 
in his lifetime, in which he is described as the son of 
Somerled, qui se Regem Insularum nominavit Lord of 
Ergyle and of Kintyre, founder of the monastery of 
Sagadull (Sadell), of the lands of Glensagadull, and 
twelve marks of the lands of Ballebeain, in the Lordship 
of Kintyre, and of twenty marks of the lands of Cosken 
in Arran, to the said Abbey. He made very ample dona- 
tions to the monastery of Paisley, that he, and Fonia his 
wife, might be entitled to all the privileges of brotherhoop 
in the convent.f Of the principal events in the life of 
Reginald very little is known, and what can be ascertained 
is not free from uncertainty, for he was contemporary with 
Reginald, the Norwegian King of Man and the Isles, which 
makes it impossible to distinguish between the recorded 
acts of the two. Reginald was, however, without doubt 
designated " dominus insularum," and sometimes " Rex 
insularum," or King of the Isles, as well as " dominus de 

* Highlands and Isles, p. 27. 
t Wood's Douglas's Peerage ; and Highlands and Isles, p. 5. 



Ergile and Kintyre," under which title he grants certain 
lands as above to the Abbey of Saddell which he had 
founded in Kintyre. The author of "The Historical 
Account of the Macdonalds of Antrim," says [page 10] 
that Ranald, " although a younger son, became in reality 
the representative of the family, being not only popular in 
Scotland but respected on the coasts of Ulster, where he 
appeared sometimes as peace-maker among the Northern 
Irish chieftains. If, however, he bore this character on the 
Irish coast, his sons occasionally came on a very different 
mission. At the year 121 1, the Annals of the Four Masters 
and the Annals of Loch Ce, inform us that Thomas Mac- 
Uchtry (of Galloway) and the sons of Raghnall, son of 
Somhairle, came to Doire Chollum-Chille (Deny) with 
seventy ships, and the town was greatly injured by them. 
O'Domhnaill and they went to Inis Eoghain, and they 
completely destroyed the country." 

He married Fonia, a sister of Thomas Randolph, Earl 
of Moray, and by her had 

1. Donald of Isla, his heir, from whom the Macdonalds 
took their name, and 

2. Roderick, or Ruari, of Bute, whose succession and 
possessions we have already described, and whose issue 
terminated in Amie, who married John of Isla. According 
to the Macdonald MS. he had two other sons, Angus,* 
who had a son, Duncan, of whom the Robertsons, or Clann 
Donnachaidh of Athol, " and MacLullichs, who are now 
called in the low country Pittullichs". He had another 
son, John Maol, or Bald, who, according to the same 
authority, went to Ireland, and " of whom descended the 
Macdonalds of Tireoin " (Land of John, or Tyrone). 

Reginald died in the 54th year of his age, and was suc- 
ceeded by his eldest son, 

* Major Mackenzie in his Mackenzie Genealogies, Supplementary Sheet, calls 
this Angus a natural son. 



Or, of the Isles, from whom the Macdonalds derive their 
name. The share of his father's possessions which appears 
to have fallen to him comprised South Kintyre and Islay ; 
but it is certain that he also came into possession, as head 
of the house, of his brother Roderick's lands, by themselves 
a very extensive patrimony. A period of great importance 
in the history of the family has now been reached, and it is 
disappointing to find how little is recorded of the career of 
this chief who had so prominent a share in the most im- 
portant events which took place during the early part of the 
thirteenth century. Though the ancient autocratic authority 
of the Clan over others was never recovered by the race 
of Somerled after the partition by Alexander II. of the 
great district of Argyle, the ultimate union of all the claims 
and rights of this ancient and potent house in the line of 
Donald raised the family and its chief anew, to a pitch 
of power and eminence in Scotland almost unequalled by 
any other family in the kingdom, certainly unequalled in 
the Western Isles. Donald, like all the Western chiefs, 
after the treaty of succession agreed to as the result of the 
battle of Largs, held his possessions direct from the 
Scottish King, and, ever since, his successors remained 
subjects of the Scottish crown, in spite of many successive 
attempts on their part, almost invariably instigated by the 
English Government, to establish their independence in 
the Isles, and to embarrass the Scots. Hugh Macdonald 
informs us that Donald succeeded his .father " in the Lord- 
ship of the Isles and Thaneship of Argyle " ; that he went 
to Denmark, and took with him many of the ancient Danes 
of the Isles, such as " the Macduffies, and Macnagills " ; 
that his uncle Dugall accompanied him ; and that his own 
rights, and the peculiar rights he had to the Isles through 
his grandmother, daughter of Olave the Red, were then 
renewed to him by Magnus, King of Denmark. " After 
this, he and his uncle Dugall became enemies, so that at last 
he was forced to kill Dugall. After this King Alexander 


(of Scotland) sent Sir William Rollock as messenger to 
him to Kintyre, desiring to hold the Isles of him, which 
he had now from the King of Denmark. Donald replied 
that his predecessors had their rights to the Isles from the 
Crown of Denmark, which were renewed by the present 
King thereof, and that he held the Isles of his Majesty of 
Denmark, before he renounced his claim to his Majesty. 
Sir William said that the King might grant the superiority 
of the Isles to whom he pleased. Donald answered to 
this that Olay the Red, and Godfrey the Black's father, 
from whom he had the most of the Isles, had the Isles by 
their conquest, and not from the King of Denmark or 
Scotland, so that he and Sir William could not end the 
debate in law or reasoning. Donald being advised by 
wicked councillors, in the dawning of the day surprised 
Sir William and his men. Sir William, with some of his 
men, were killed. He banished Gillies (his wife's father) 
out of the Isles to the glens of Ireland, where some of his 
offspring remain until this day. He killed Gillies' young 
son, called Callum Alin. He brought the MacNeils from 
Lennox to expel Gillies out of Kintyre. After this he 
went to Rome, bringing seven priests in his company, to 
be reconciled to the Pope and Church. These priests de- 
claring his remorse of conscience for the evil deeds of his 
former life, the Pope asked if he was willing to endure any 
torment that the Church was pleased to inflict upon him ? 
Donald replied that he was willing, should they please to 
burn him in a caldron of lead. The Church, seeing him 
so penitent, dispensed him. Some writers assert that 
he had his rights from the Pope of all the lands he pos- 
sessed in Argyle, Kintyre, and the rest of the continent. 
After he returned home, he built (rebuilt or enlarged) the 
monastery of Saddell in Kintyre, dedicating (it) to the 
honour of the Virgin Mary. He mortified 48 merks land 
to that monastery, and the Island of Heisker to the Nuns 
of lona. He died at Shippinage in the year 1289, and was 
buried at Icolumkill." * 

* Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, pp. 288-9. Donald must have died long 
before 1289. 


He imitated his father's liberality to the Church, particu- 
larly to the monks of Paisley, to whom he gave ample 
testimony of his charity and goodwill, on condition that 
" ille uxor sua, heredes sui, et homines sui, participes sint 
in perpetuum, omnium bonorum qus in domo de Paslct, et 
in toto ordine Cluniascensi fient, tarn in orationibus, quam 
in ceteris divinis servitiis ". In this document he is 
designated " Dovenaldus, filius Reginaldi films Somerledi".* 
He left two sons. 

1. Angus Mor MacDonald, his heir. 

2. Alexander, according to Douglas, ancestor of the Mac- 
Alisters of Loup, and of the Alexanders of Menstrie, Earls 
of Stirling. This is corroborated by an old genealogical 
tree of the Macdonalds in our possession. 

Donald of the Isles was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Who was Chief at the time of Haco's expedition to the 
Western Isles in 1266, and who, with his fleet, immediately 
joined Haco on his arrival, and assisted him throughout the 
war, though it appears, in consequence of the treaty after- 
wards arranged between the Kings of Scotland and Norway, 
that he did not suffer for his conduct, either in person or 
property. In 1284 he appeared at the convention at which 
the Maiden of Norway was declared heiress to the Crown of 
Scotland, on which occasion his support seems to have been 
purchased by a grant of Ardnamurchan. He confirmed his 
father's and grandfather's grants to the Abbey of Saddell, 
and granted it further lands himself by four separate 
charters. f He also made a donation to the convent of 
Paisley of half a mark of silver " de domo suo proprio, et de 
singulis domibus per omnes terras suas de quibus fumum 
exit unum denari, singulis annis in perpetuum in puram 
elemosynam ". He also gave the monastery of the same 

* Wood's Douglas's Peerage, vol. ii. , p. 6. 
f Skene's Highlanders. 


place the patronage of the Church of Kilkerran, in Kintyre, 
" pro salute anima^, Domini sui Alexandri Regis Scoticae 
illustris, et Alexandri, filii ejus, etiam pro salute sua propria, 
et heredum suorum ".* A letter is addressed, in 1292, "to 
Anegous, the son of Dovenald of the Isles, and Alexander, 
his eldest son, respecting their comporting themselves well 
and faithfully to the King of England ".^ 

Writing of the descendants of Somerled about this period, 
Gregory says that of these " there were, in 1285, three great 
noblemen, all holding extensive possessions in the Isles as 
well as on the mainland, who attended in that Scottish 
Parliament, by which the crown was settled on the Maiden 
of Norway. Their names were Alexander de Ergadia of 
Lorn (Son of Ewin of Lorn), Angus, the son of Donald, 
and Allan, the son of Ruari. From the nature of the 
treaty, in 1266, it is obvious that these individuals were 
vassals of the King of Scotland for all their possessions, 
and not merely for what they held on the mainland, as some 
have supposed. It is further clear that, at this time, none 
of the three bore the title of Lord of the Isles, or could 
have been properly so considered ; and it is equally certain 
that the first individual whom we find assuming the style 
of Lord of the Isles, in its modern signification, possessed 
all those Isles, and very nearly all those mainland estates, 
which, in 1285, were divided among three powerful noble- 
men of the same blood. But of this hereafter.. From the 
preceding remarks, it will readily be perceived that the 
boasted independence of the modern Lords of the Isles is 
without historical foundation. Prior to 1266, the Isles were 
subject to Norway ; at that date the treaty of cession 
transferred them to Scotland ". J 

Angus Mor, who according to Hugh Macdonald, " was 
of a very amiable and cheerful disposition, and more witty 
than any could take him from his countenance," resided 
for a portion of his life at the Castle of Ardtornish. He 

* Chartulary Lereuax, 186-187 b- 

t Douglas's Peerage. 
t Western Highlands and Isles, p. 23. 


married a daughter of Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, 
with issue 

1. Alexander, his heir. 

2. Angus Og, who succeeded his brother Alexander. 
He died in 1300, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Of the Isles, who married one of the daughters, and co-heir- 
ess, of Ewen de Ergadia, the last of the male descendants of 
Dugall of Lorn, by whom he received a considerable acquisi- 
tion to his already extensive territories ; but having joined 
John Stewart, Lord of Lorn, in his opposition to Robert 
Bruce, he naturally became a partner in the consequent 
collapse and ruin of that great family. After the defeat of 
the Lord of Lorn at Lochow, Bruce proceeded against 
Alexander of the Isles ; crossed over the isthmus of Tarbet, 
and laid siege to Castle Sweyn, where Alexander usually 
resided. The Island Chief proved as little able to resist the 
power of Bruce as the Lords of Lorn had previously been, 
and he was compelled to surrender to the King, who im- 
mediately imprisoned him in Dundonald Castle, where he 
ultimately died. His possessions were forfeited to the 
Crown, and afterwards granted to his brother Angus Og. 

He is designated " Alexander de Insulis Scotiae, filius 
Angusii, filius Dovenaldi," in a letter addressed to him 
during the life of his father, wherein he is directed to keep 
the peace within his bounds of the Isles, till the meeting of 
the Parliament of Scotland, on the day of St. Thomas the 
Martyr, 1292. He is also designed in the same style in a 
confirmation of a donation of the Church of Kilkerran to 
the monastery of Paisley, to which Robert, Earl of Carrick, 
and Robert Bruce, his son and heir, are witnesses. 

He died in 1303, and was succeeded by his brother, 


Who, fortunately for himself and his clan, sided with Bruce 
from the outset of his bold attempt to free his native land 


from the English Edwards. After the disastrous defeat at 
Methven, and the subsequent skirmish with the Lord of 
Lorn at Tyndrum, the valiant Bruce was obliged to fly with 
his life, whereupon Angus of the Isles received and sheltered 
him in his castle of Saddell, Cantire, and, in August 1306, 
in his more secure Castle of Dunaverty, until, with Mac- 
donald's aid, he retired some time after for safer refuge to 
the Island of Rathlin, on the north coast of Ireland, then 
possessed by the family of the Isles. From this period 
Angus Og attached himself to the party of Bruce, and took 
an important share in all the subsequent enterprises, which 
terminated in the final defeat of the English at Bannock- 
burn, and established for ever the independence of Scot- 
land. Here Angus commanded the reserve, composed of 
5000 Highlanders, led, under his own chief command, by 
sixteen of their own immediate chiefs. On this memorable 
occasion Angus and his Highlanders performed such dis- 
tinguished service that, as a permanent mark of distinction 
for the gallantry and effect with which they plied their 
battle-axes, Bruce assigned to Angus, and his descendants 
for ever, the honourable position of the right flank of 
the Royal army. He first joined Bruce in 1286, and his 
loyalty never faltered, even when the fortunes of the 
King appeared most hopeless. He had previously assisted 
him in his attack on Carrick, when " the Bruce wan his 
father's hall," and continued to support him in all his 
toils and dangers, until these were crowned and rewarded 
by the great victory of Bannockburn. It was thus natural 
that the Chief of the Isles, having shared in the mis- 
fortunes of the Deliverer of his country, should, when 
success crowned their efforts, also share in the advantages 
secured by the victors. The extensive possessions of 
the Comyns and their allies, the Lords of Lorn, having 
been forfeited, were now at the disposal of the King, and 
he bestowed upon Angus the Lordship of Lochaber, which 
had formerly belonged to the Comyns, as also the lands of 
Duror and Glencoe, and the Islands of Mull, Jura, Coll, 
and Tiree, which had formed part of the possessions of the 


family of Lorn. Bruce was quite alive to the danger of 
raising up a powerful vassal like Angus Og of the Isles to 
a position of such power and influence by adding so much 
to his already extensive territories, and thus adding to the 
influence of so powerful an opponent and possible rival 
even to the Crown itself ; but the services rendered by the 
Island Chief in Bruce's greatest need, could not be over- 
looked, and so, believing himself quite secure in the attach- 
ment of Angus during his own life, he made these extensive 
grants, the only condition made by him to neutralize in any 
way their effects, being the erection of the Castle of Tarbet 
in Kintyre, which was to be occupied by the King's troops 
as a Royal stronghold, within the territories of the Island 
Chief. He obtained a charter from David II. " of the Isle 
of Isla, Kintyre, the Isle of Gythy (? Gigha), Dewae (Jura), 
the Isle of Coluynsay, and the twenty-four mark land of 
Moror, near the lands of Mule." He had a daughter named 
Fyngole, as appears from a Papal dispensation, dated ipth 
Kal. Februarii 1342, permitting John Stewart and Fyngole, 
" filia nobilis viri Angusii de Insulis," to marry, notwith- 
standing their being within the fourth degree of consan- 

According to Hugh Macdonald's MS., Robert Bruce was 
entertained by Angus for a whole half-year at Saddell ; he 
repeatedly sent his galleys with men to Ireland, and sent 
Edward Bruce across on various occasions, furnishing him 
with the necessary stores for his expedition. He brought 
over 1 500 men from Ireland, who fought with him at a place 
called Brarich, near Lochow. He erroneously states that he 
was still a minor when his father died. At the age of 22 years 
" he was proclaimed Lord of the Isles and Thane of Argyle 
and Lochaber," but he was much opposed on his first entry 
into his possessions " by Macdougall of Lorn, on account of 
the Island of Mull, to which he pretended right." Gregory, 
referring to this period, sums up the changes which took 
place, and the results which followed, thus : In the series 
of struggles for Scottish independence, which marked the 
close of the thirteenth and the opening of the fourteenth 



centuries, the Lords of Lorn, who were closely connected 
by marriage with the Comyn and Balliol party, naturally 
arrayed themselves in opposition to the claims of Bruce. 
On the other hand, the Houses of Isla and of the North 
Isles supported with all their power the apparently des- 
perate fortunes of King Robert I., and thus, when he came 
to be firmly seated on the throne, had earned the gratitude 
of that Prince, in the same proportion as the family of Lorn, 
by the inveteracy of their hostility, had provoked his resent- 
ment. On the forfeiture of Alexander, Lord of Lorn, and 
his son and heir, John, their extensive territories were 
granted by Bruce to various supporters ; and, amongst 
others, to Angus Og, i.e., Junior, of Isla, and to Roderick, 
or Ruari MacAlan, the bastard brother and leader of the 
vassals of Christina, the daughter and heiress of Alan 
MacRuari of the North Isles. The Isles of Mull (the 
possession of which had, for some time past, been disputed 
betwixt the Lords of Isla and Lorn), Jura, Coll, and Tiree, 
with the districts of Duror and Glencoe, fell, in this way, to 
the share of Angus Og. Lorn proper, or the greatest 
part of it, was bestowed on Roderick MacAlan, to whom 
his sister Christina gave, at the same time, a large portion 
of her inheritance in Garmoran and the North Isles. The 
Lordship of Lochaber, forfeited by one of the powerful 
family of Comyn, seems to have been divided between 
Angus Og and Roderick. The former likewise obtained 
in this reign, the lands of Morvern and Ardnamurchan, 
which seem previously to have been in the hands of the 
crown. But while Bruce thus rewarded his faithful ad- 
herents, he was too sensible of the weakness of Scotland 
on the side of the Isles, not to take precautionary measures 
against the possible defection of any of the great families 
on that coast, who might with ease admit an English force 
into the heart of the kingdom. He procured from Angus 
Og, who was now apparently the principal crown vassal in 
Kintyre, the resignation of his lands in that district, which 
were immediately bestowed upon Robert, the son and heir 
of Walter the High Steward, and the Princess Marjory 


Bruce. At the same time the fortifications of the Castle of 
Tarbet, between Kintyrc and Knapdale, the most important 
position on the coast of Argyleshire, were greatly enlarged 
and strengthened, and the custody of this commanding post 
was committed to a Royal garrison. Following out the 
same policy in other places, the keeping of the Castle of 
Dunstaffhage, the principal messuage of Lorn, was given 
by Bruce, not to Roderick Mac Alan, the " High Chief of 
Lorn," but to an individual of the name of Campbell, who 
was placed there as a royal constable. Towards the end 
of Bruce's reign, Roderick MacAlan of Lorn and the North 
Isles, was forfeited of all his possessions for engaging in 
some of the plots which, at that period, occupied the atten- 
and called forth the energies of that celebrated king. On 
this occasion, it is probable that Angus Og, whose loyalty 
never wavered, received further additions to his already 
extensive possessions ; and before King Robert's death the 
house of Islay was already the most powerful in Argyle and 
the Isles.* 

Angus Og married Margaret, daughter of Guy O'Cathan 
of Ulster, the " tocher " being, according to the Seannachie 
already quoted, " seven score men out of every surname 
under O'Kaine ". Among these, it is said, came twenty- 
four chiefs, who afterwards became the heads of clans or 
septs. Of that number, Macdonald mentions " the Mun- 
roes, so-called because they came from the Innermost 
Roe-water in the county of Derry, their names being 
formerly O'Millans ; the Roses of Kilraack, the Fairns, 
Dingwalls, Glasses, Beatons, so now called, but improperly, 
that being a French name, whereas they are Irish, of the 
tribe of O'Neals, and took the name (of Beaton) from 
following the name of Beda. Our Highland Shenakies 
say that Balfour Blebo, and these Beatons that came from 
France, went formerly from Ireland, but for this they have 
no ground to go upon. The MacPhersons who are not 
the same with the MacPhersons of Badenoch, but are of 
the O'Docharties in Ireland ; the Bulikes in Caithness, of 

* West Highlands and Isles, pp. 24-26. 


whom is the laird of Tolingail ; and many other surnames, 
which, for brevity, we pass over, many of whom had no 
succession." It is impossible to vouch for the accuracy of a 
great part of Hugh Macdonald's MS., for the author of it was 
such an out-and-out partisan, that he scrupled not to write 
anything calculated to glorify his own immediate chief and 
name, apparently caring little whether it was true or not. 
Some of his stories, however, are too interesting to be 
passed over ; but when not otherwise supported the reader 
must just take them for what he considers them worth.* 
He gives the following version of the origin of the Mac- 
leans ; the ceremony of proclaiming the Lords of the Isles ; 
and the manner in which justice was administered in those 
days in the Western Isles : " Now Angus Ogg being at 
Ardhorinish in Morvein, in the time of Lent, Macdougall 
sent the two sons of Gillian in message to him. To know 
of these, viz., the sons of Gillian, I will tell you from 
whence they came, viz., John of Lorn, commonly called 
John Baccach, who went off to harry Carrick in Galloway, 
the property of Robert Bruce, afterwards King Robert, 
and there meeting with one Gillian by name, son of Gil- 
leusa, son of John, son of Gilleusa-More, he came to John 

* The editor of the Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis adds the following note at 
the end of the Macdonald MS. This MS. History of the Lords of the Isles, now 
for the first time printed, is a very favourable specimen of the productions of the 
ancient Sennachies. Full of traditionary anecdotes, in general wonderfully ac- 
curate, they furnish a curious addition to the history of the Scottish Highlands. 
The Genealogical accounts of the various families contained in these MSS. is, how- 
ever, frequently full of errors, principally intentional, and arising from the pre- 
judices and active partizanship of the Sennachy, who being always devoted to one 
particular family, shared his patron's animosity against the Clans with whom he 
was at feud, and his jealousy of the other families of his own Clan, between whom 
there existed a rivalry. The Sennachy seldom scrupled to subserve his patron's 
jealousies, by perverting the history of their families, and this, he, in general, ac- 
complished either by actually perverting the Genealogy, or by an extensive bastard- 
ising of the heads of the family, probably proceeding upon a principle not unknown 
to the present day, that a fact, however notoriously false, if perseveringly asserted 
for a certain length of time, will at length be received as true. The writer of this 
MS. was a staunch adherent of the Slate family, and therefore his statements, with 
regard to the Clans with whom the Clan Donald were at feud, and to the rival 
branches of that great Clan must be received with great caution. The bastardis- 
ing of Dugall reputed to be the progenitor of the MacDougalls, is a good illus- 
tration of the above remarks, for there is no doubt whatever that he was the eldest 
legitimate son of Somerled, by his marriage with the daughter of Olave the Red. 


Baccach of Lorn in quest of better fortune. Macdougall 
gave him a spot of land in the Isle of Sael, called Bealach- 
uain. He had three sons, Hector, of whom descended the 
family of Lochbuy, and was the oldest ; Lachlin (of) whom 
descended the family of Duairt, and the rest of the name ; 
and a natural son, John, of whom others of the name des- 
cended. Now in the Scots language they were called 
Maclean, from that Gillian that made the first fortune 
there ; but the ancient Scots called them MacGillian. The 
two sons of Gillian, as related above, were sent ambas- 
sadors to Macdonald at Ardhorinish, where, at the time, 
he held his Lent, as the custom of the time then was. 
They, after landing, had some conference with Macdonald 
about the Isle of Mull. Macdonald, denying any of his 
proper right of lands to Mac, desired MacFinnon, who was 
master of his household, to use the gentlemen kindly, and 
to cause them dine alone. MacFinnon caused set before 
them bread and gruthim, consisting of butter and curds 
mixed together, which is made in harvest, and preserved 
until time of Lent. The gruthim was so brittle, that it 
was not easily taken up with their long knives. Mac- 
donald, coming up at the same time, and perceiving the 
men at meat in that posture, desired to give them some 
other sort of meat. MacFinnon replied that if they could 
not eat that meat as it was, they should put on the nabs of 
hens, with which they might gather it up easily ; which 
reproachful answer touched the sons of Gillian nearly. 
Macdonald being that same day to cross the Sound of 
Mull to Aros, to solemnise the festival of Pasch there, he 
took a small boat for himself, leaving MacFinnon behind 
with his great galley and carriage, and the rest of his men. 
When MacFinnon went to the shore to follow Macdonald, 
the sons of Gillian, taking the opportunity of revenge, and 
calling MacFinnon aside, stabbed him, and straight with 
his galley and their own men followed Macdonald across 
the Sound, who was not aware of them, thinking it was 
MacFinnon with his own galley that followed him, till they 
leaped into the boat wherein he was, and after apprehend- 


ing him, made him prisoner, and brought him to Dunstaf- 
nage in Lorn. They remained without. Macdougall 
being, in the meantime, at dinner, who hearing of their 
arrival, and that Macdonald was a prisoner with them, said 
he was glad Macdonald was safe, and was very well pleased 
to have him his prisoner ; but that Gillian's children were 
very bold in their attempt, and that he would, through 
time, bridle their forwardness and insolence. There was a 
young son of Macdougall's hearing what his father had 
said. This boy fostered by Gillian and his son, coming out 
to meet them, told what his father said of them. They 
being perplexed, and musing what to do in this so pre- 
carious an affair, thought best to have recourse to Mac- 
donald, and told him that all men knew that they were of 
no power or capacity to apprehend him, but by accident ; 
as it fell out ; and seeing it was so, that he knew if he 
pleased to do them any good, and forgive them their 
former crime, he was more in their power than their former 
master ; that they would join with him, go along with him, 
and deliver him from the present danger. So taking 
Macdonald to his own galley again, Macdougall neither 
seeing him or them ; they went for Mull, taking the Lord 
of the Isles upon his word, as they might. 

" For he gave four score merks land to Hector the oldest 
brother, and to Lachlin the youngest he gave the chamber- 
lainship of his house, and made MacKinnon thereafter 
marshall his army. Now, these made up the surname of 
Maclean, for they never had a rigg of land but what they 
received from Macdonald ; to the contrary of which I defy 
them, or any other, to produce any argument ; yet they were 
very thankful for the good done them afterwards. When 
the Macdonalds were in adversity, which happened by their 
own folly, they became their mortal enemies, as may be 
seen in the sequel of this history. Angus Ogg-of the Isles 
was a personable, modest man, affable, and not disaffected 
either to king or state. He created Macguire, or Mac- 
quarry, a thane. He had a natural son, John, by Dougall 
MacHenry's daughter, she being her father's only child. 


This John, by his mother, enjoyed the lands of Glencoe, of 
whom descended the race of the Macdonalds. He had his 
legitimate son, John, who succeeded him, by O'Kain's 
daughter. He had not many children that came to age. 
He had a daughter married to Maclean, and that by her 
inclination of yielding. Angus died at Isla, and was 
interred at Icolumkill. I thought fit to annex the cere- 
mony of proclaiming the Lord of the Isles. At this the 
Bishop of Argyle, the Bishop of the Isles, and seven priests, 
were sometimes present, but a bishop was always present, 
with the chieftians of all the principal families, and a Ruler 
of the Isles. There was a square stone, seven or eight feet 
long, and the tract of a man's foot cut thereon, upon which 
he stood, denoting that he should walk in the footsteps and 
uprightness of his predecessors, and that he was installed 
by right in his possessions. He was clothed in a white 
habit, to show his innocence and integrity of heart, that he 
would be a light to his people, and maintain the true 
religion. The white apparel did afterwards belong to the 
poet by right. Then he was to receive a white rod in his 
hand, intimating that he had power to rule, not with 
tyranny and partiality, but with discretion and sincerity. 
Then he received his forefathers' sword, or some other 
sword, signifying that his duty was to protect and defend 
them from the incursions of their enemies in peace or war, 
as the obligations and customs of his predecessors were. 
The ceremony being over, mass was said after the blessing 
of the bishop and seven priests, the people pouring their 
prayer for the success and prosperity of their new created 
lord. When they were dismissed, the Lord of the Isles 
feasted them for a week thereafter ; gave liberally to the 
monks, poets, bards, and musicians. You may judge that 
they spent liberally without any exception of persons. The 
constitution or government of the Isles was thus : Mac- 
donald had his council at Island Finlaggan, in Isla, to the 
number of sixteen, viz., four Thanes, four Armins, that is to 
say, lords or sub-thanes, four bastards (i.e.), squires or men 
of competent estates, who could not come up with Armins, 


or Thanes, that is, freeholders, or men that had their lands 
in factory, as Macgee of the Rinds of Isla, MacNicoll in 
Portree in Sky, and MacEachern, Mackay, and MacGille- 
vray, in Mull, Macillemhaoel or MacMillan, &c. There 
was a table of stone where this council sat in the Isle of 
Finlaggan ; the which table, with the stone on which Mac- 
donald sat, were carried away by Argyle with the bells that 
were at Icolumkill. 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." 

Angus Og died at Islay about 1329, and was buried at 

By his wife, Margaret, daughter of Guy O'Cathan, he had 
an only son and successor. He had also a natural son, 
John Fraoch, by a daughter of Dougall MacHenry, the 
leading man in Glencoe, progenitor of the Macdonalds of 

He was succeeded by his only lawful son, 


Who played a most important part in the turbulent age 
in which he lived. He is admitted by all the authorities 
to have been one of the most able and sagacious chiefs 
of his time ; and, by diplomacy and alliances, more 
than by the sword, he raised the clan to a position of 
splendour and power which they had not attained to since 
the days of Somerled. In his time Scotland was divided 
and harrassed by various claimants to the . crown, the 
principal of whom were David Bruce and Edward Baliol. 
John of the Isles supported the latter, more probably 
with the object of recovering, and maintaining intact, 
the ancient possessions of his house, than for any pre- 


fcrencc he entertained for Baliol and his English sup- 
porters. The Island chiefs had always claimed to be inde- 
pendent of the Scottish kings, and naturally enough it 
seemed to John of the Isles that to aid Baliol against Bruce 
would be the most effective means of strengthening his own 
family pretensions. He was quite satisfied that Bruce 
would not admit the claim to independence of any compe- 
titor within his realm ; whereas Baliol, not only entertained 
his pretensions, but actually confirmed him " as far as in 
him lay," to the vast territories already possessed by him, 
as also to an extensive addition, granting him by charter, 
in 1355, the lands of Mull, Skye, Islay, Gigha, Kintyre, 
Knapdale, and other large possessions. For these favours 
John bound himself and his heirs to become lieges to 
the Baliols ; for he believed that even if they succeeded to 
establish their claim to the crown he would be practically 
independent in the Western Isles, and could at any time 
re-assert the old pretensions of his house. He visited 
England in 1338, and was well received by Edward III., to 
whom, it is said, he acknowledged vassalage. John of the 
Isles and the Regent disputed about the lands granted by 
Bruce to Angus Og of the Isles, and this was the principal 
cause of the Island chief having thrown himself into the 
arms of the Baliol party. The latter, in addition to the lands 
above-mentioned, granted him the Wardship of Lochaber, 
until the heir of Athol, at the time only three years of age, 
attained his majority. These territories had been previously 
forfeited by the ancestors of the Lord of the Isles on the 
accession of Robert Bruce. The new grant was confirmed 
by Edward III. on the 5th of October, 1336. In spite of all 
this, however, and the great advantages to the Baliol party 
of securing the support of a powerful chief like John of the 
Isles, the Regent ultimately succeeded in rescuing Scotland 
from the dominion and pretentions of Edward of England 
and his unpatriotic tool, Edward Baliol, finally establishing 
the independence of his native country. 

In 1341, the Steward sent to France for David II., to 
commence his personal reign in Scotland ; but the Island 



chief was too powerful to suffer materially in person or 
property for his recent disloyalty. Indeed, David on his 
return considered it the best policy to attach as many of 
the Scottish barons to his party as possible ; and with this 
view he concluded a treaty with John of the Isles, by which 
a temporary peace was secured between them, and in con- 
sequence of which the Insular Chief was, for the first time 
during his whole rule, not in active opposition to the 
Scottish king. Gregory, referring to these transactions, 
says that "on the return of David II. from France, after 
the final discomfiture of Baliol and his supporters, John of 
the Isles was naturally exposed to the hostility of the 
Steward and the other nobles of the Scottish party, by whose 
advice he seems to have been forfeited, when many of his 
lands where granted to one of his relations, Angus Maclan, 
progenitor of the house of Ardnamurchan. This grant, 
however, did not take effect ; and such was the resistance 
offered by John and his kinsman, Reginald or Ranald, son 
of Roderick MacAlan (who had been restored, in all pro- 
bability, by Baliol, to the lands forfeited by his father), and 
so anxious was David at the time to bring the whole force 
of his kingdom together in his intended wars with England, 
that he at length pardoned both these powerful chiefs, and 
confirmed to them the following possessions : To John he 
gave the Isles of Isla, Gigha, Jura, Scarba, Colonsay, Mull, 
Coll, Tiree, and Lewis, and the districts of Morvern, Loch- 
aber, Duror, and Glenco : to Ranald the Isles of Uist, 
Barra, Egg, and Rum, and the Lordship of Garmoran, 
being the original possessions of his family in the North. 
By this arrangement, Kintyre, Knapdale, and Skye re- 
verted to their former owners, and Lorn remained in the 
hands of the crown, whilst it is probable that Ardnamur- 
chan was given as a compensation to Angus Maclan." 
The Lordship of Garmoran comprehended the districts of 
Moidart, Arisaig, Morar, and Knoydart, on the mainland. 
Not long after this, Ranald, son of Rory of the Isles, and 
last male representative of Roderick of Bute, grandson of 
Somerled of the Isles, was, in 1346, murdered, as already 


stated, at Perth by the Earl of Ross, from whom he held 
lands in Kintail ; and, leaving no issue, his sister Amic, 
who married John of the Isles, in terms of the grant in his 
favour by David II., became her brother's heir, when her 
husband, uniting her possessions to his own, assumed 
henceforth the style of Dominus Insiilamm, or Lord of the 
Isles. The first recorded instance of the assumption of 
this title by John of Isla, is in an indenture with the Lord 
of Lorn, in 1354. "Thus was formed," continues Gregory, 
" the modern Lordship of the Isles, comprehending the 
territories of the Macdonalds of Isla, and the Macruaries of 
the North Isles, and a great part of those of the Macdougalls 
of Lorn ; and although the representative of the latter 
family was nominally restored to the estates of his an- 
cestors on the occasion of his marriage with a niece of the 
king, yet he was obliged to leave the Lord of the Isles in 
possession of such portion of the Lorn estates as had been 
granted to the latter by David in 1 344. The daughter and 
heiress of John de Ergadia, or Macdugall, the restored 
Lord of Lorn, carried Lorn proper to her husband, Robert 
Stewart, founder of the Rosyth family, by whom the Lord- 
ship was sold to his brother, John Stewart of Innermeath, 
ancestor of the Stewarts, Lord of Lorn." 

This acquisition of territory added immensely to the 
power and influence of the Lord of the Isles, and though 
he was at the time on friendly terms with King David, the 
Government became concerned as to the consequences of 
permitting the ancient territories of Somerled to become 
again united in the person of such an able and powerful 
chief as the Lord of the Isles. They therefore determined 
to place every obstacle in his way, and refused to acknow- 
ledge him as the rightful heir to Ranald MacRuari of the 
Isles, and his wife Amie dying soon after, advantage was 
taken of her death to refuse him a title to her lands, while 
the Government went the length of asserting that her 
marriage with the Lord of the Isles, on which his claim was 
founded, had been irregular, and therefore could not be 
recognised. This naturally roused the ire of the great 


chief ; he was again in opposition, and in the ranks of the 
Baliol party ; but the English king having at the same 
time to direct his attention to the war with France, a 
treaty was entered into between the Scots and English 
before the opposition of the Lord of the Isles could 
produce any consequences detrimental to the Government 
of Scotland. 

Shortly after this a change took place in the character 
and position of the different factions in Scotland which 
had the effect once more of detaching the Lord of the Isles 
from the English interest, and of inducing him to take his 
natural position among the barons who stood out for the 
independence of Scotland. Skene describes the state of 
parties at this period and the ultimate result in a remark- 
ably clear and concise form, and says 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 sup- 
ported the throne of Scotland and the cause of independ- 
ence were in consequence thrown into active opposition 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 connection 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 with avidity, and cemented their union 
by procuring the marriage of the Lord of the Isles with his 
own daughter. John now adhered stedfastly to the party of 
the Steward, and took an active share in all its proceedings, 
along with the other barons by whom they were joined, but 
without any open manifestation of force, until the year 1 366, 
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 acknow- 
ledged successor to his throne into prison. The northern 
barons, who belonged to his party, broke out into open 
rebellion, and refused to pay their proportion 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 actually 
assumed independence for upwards of two years, until 
David had at last brought himself to apply to the Steward 
as the only person capable of restoring peace to the country, 
and charged him to put down the rebellion. 

In consequence of this appeal, the Steward, who was 
unwilling 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 noble- 
men 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 restora- 
tion 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 affars 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 favourable terms 
for the latter, the Scottish government was left at liberty 
to turn its attention wholly towards reducing the Isles to 
obedience. 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 little 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, suc- 
ceeded by the great influence which he possessed over his 
son-in-law, in persuading him to meet the king at Inverness, 
and to submit himself to his authority. 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 fulfilment of this obligation the 
Lord of the Isles not only gave his oath, but offered 
his father-in-law, the High Steward, as security, and de- 
livered 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.* 

* The following is a copy of the famous instrument which will be found at pp. 
69-70 of " Invernessiana," by Charles Eraser-Mackintosh, F.S.A., Scot., M.P. 


By the accession of Robert Steward to the throne of 
Scotland, which took place shortly after this event, the 

" To all who may see the present letters : John de Ylc, Lord of the Isles, wishes 
salvation in the Saviour of all. Since my most serene prince and master, the 
revered lord David, by the Grace of God, illustrious King of Scots, has l>een stirred 
up against my person because of certain faults committed by me, for which reason, 
coming humbly to the presence of my said lord, at the Town of Inverness, on the 
i5th day of the month of November, in the year of grace 1369, in the presence of 
the prelates, and of very many of the nobles of his kingdom, I offered and sub- 
mitted myself to the pleasure and favour of my said master, by suppliantly 
entreating for favour and for the remission of my late faults, and since my said 
lord, at the instance of his council, has graciously admitted me to his goodwill and 
favour, granting besides that I may remain in (all) my possessions whatsoever and 
not be removed, except according to the process and demand of law : Let it be 
clearly patent to you all, by the tenor of these presents, that I, John de Yle, 
foresaid, promise and covenant, in good faith, that I shall give and make reparation 
to all good men of this kingdom whatsoever, for such injuries, losses, and troubles 
as have been wrought by me, my sons, or others whose names are more fully set 
forth in the royal letters of remission granted to me, and to whomsoever of the 
kingdom as are faithful I shall thus far make the satisfaction concluded for, and I shall 
justly note purchased lands and superiorities, and I shall govern them according to 
my ability ; I shall promptly cause my sons and my subjects, and others my 
adherents, to be in peaceable subjection, and that due justice shall be done to our 
lord the King, and to the laws and customs of his kingdom, and that they shall be 
obedient to, and shall appear before the justiciars, sheriffs, coroners, and other 
royal servants in each sherirTdom, even belter and more obediently than in the 
time of Robert of good memory, the predecessor of my lord the King, and as the 
inhabitants of the said lands and superiorities have been accustomed to do. They 
shall answer, both promptly and dutifully, to the royal servants what is imposed 
regarding contributions and other burdens and services due, and also for the time 
past, and in the event that within the said lands or superiorities any person or 
persons shall offend against the King, or one or more of his faithful servants, and 
if he or they shall despise to obey the law, or if he or they shall be unwilling to 
obey in the premises, and in any one of the premises, I shall immediately, entirely 
laying aside stratagem and deceit, pursue that person or those persons as enemies, 
and as rebels of the King and kingdom, with all my ability, until he or they shall 
be expelled from the limits of the lands and superiorities, or I shall make him or 
them obey the common law : And for performing, implementing, and faithfully 
observing these things, all and each, I personally have taken the oath in presence 
of the foresaid prelates and nobles, and besides I have given and surrendered the 
under-written hostages, viz. , Donald, my son, begotten of the daughter of the Lord 
Seneschal of Scotland, Angus, son of my late son John, and one Donald, another, 
and natural son of mine, whom, because at the time of the completion of this 
present deed, I have not, at present, ready and prepared, I shall cause them to go 
into, or to be given up at the Castle of Dumbarton, at the feast of our Lord's birth 
now next to come, if I shall be able otherwise on this side, or at the feast of the 
Purification of the Blessed Virgin (or Candlemas, ad February) next following 
thereafter, under pain of the breach of the oath given, and under pain of the loss 
of all things which, with regard to the lord our King, I shall be liable to lose, in 
whatever manner. And for securing the entrance of these hostages as promised, I 
have found my Lord Seneschal of Scotland, Earl of Strathern, security, whose 
seal for the purpose of the present security, and also for the greater evidence of 
the matter is appended, along with my own proper seal, to these presents in testi- 
mony of the premises. Acted and given, year, day, and place foresaid." 


Lord of the Isles was once more brought into close con- 
nection 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 done 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, became very manifest. King Robert, no doubt, saw 
clearly enough the advantages 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 had for- 
merly belonged to Ranald, the son of Roderick, and which 
had been so long refused to him. 

In order, however, to neutralise in some degree the effect 
of thus investing one individual with a feudal title to such 
extensive territories, and believing himself secure in the 
attachment of John during his lifetime, King Robert, 
since he could not prevent the accumulation of so much 
property in one family, determined, by bringing about 
division among its different branches, to sow the seed of 
future discord, and eventually perhaps the ruin of the race. 
He found little difficulty in persuading John, in addition to 
the usual practice in that family of gavellingthe lands among 
a 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 
surviving son of the first marriage, of the land's of Gar- 
moran, 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 a hostage in 1369, and 


who would, of course, succeed to the whole of John's pos- 
sessions 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 feudally independent 
of those of the first, and furnishing a subject for contention 
between these families which could not fail to lead to their 

The regularity of the first marriage has been questioned, 
but its perfect legitimacy is now placed beyond question by 
the discovery of a dispensation by the Pope, dated 1337, 
permitting the marriage, as the parties were within the pro- 
hibited degrees of consanguinity allowed by the Church. 
On this point Gregory, Skene, Smibert, and indeed all the 
best authorities are at one ; and the first wife was divorced, 
from anything that can be ascertained, without any just 
reasons or any real cause of complaint against her good and 
faithful conduct. Gregory considers it highly probable that 
a secret understanding had been arrived at between the 
Steward and the Lord of the Isles before the latter divorced 
his first wife and married the daughter of the Steward, that, 
at the death of King David, the Steward would ascend the 
throne, supported by the Island Lord, under the title of 
Robert II. ; and certain it is, he says, that after that event 
the destination of the Lordship of the Isles was altered so 
as to cause it to descend to the grandchildren of the King. 
Aware that his rights to Garmoran and the North Isles 
were annulled by the divorce of his first wife, the Lord of 
the Isles, disregarding her claims, and trusting to the in- 
fluence of the King, his father-in-law, procured a royal 
charter of the lands in question, in which her name was not 
even mentioned. Godfrey the eldest son, by the first wife, 
resisted these unjust proceedings, maintaining his mother's 

* Highlanders of Scotland, by W. F. Skene, pp. 64-70. 


prior claims, and his own as her heir ; but Ranald, the 
younger brother, being more pliant, was rewarded by a 
grant of the North Isles, Garmoran, and many other lands, 
to hold of John, Lord of the Isles, and his heirs* 

When the Steward ascended the throne as Robert II., 
one of his first Acts of Parliament was to confirm his 
" beloved son John of the Isles," in the possession of the 
Scottish heritage of the house of Somerled, except a 
portion of Argyle, Moidart, Arisaig, Morar, and Knoydart, 
on the mainland. Uist, Barra, Rum, Egg, and Harris, 
in the Western Isles, were confirmed or assigned to him 
and his heirs by royal charter, dated at Scone, on the pth 
March, 1371-2. By the charter granted in his favour by 
David II. on the I2th June, 1344, he, in addition to securing 
the lands already named, was made keeper of the " King's 
Castles of Kernoburgh, Iselborogh, and Dunchonnal, with 
the lands and small Islands thereto belonging, to be held 
by the said John, and his heirs, in fee and heritage." In 
1354 he entered into an indenture with John of Lorn, Lord 
of Argyle, by which the latter gave up his ancient claims 
to these castles and lands, in favour of John of the Isles, 
as also his rights to the Islands of Mull, Jura, and Tiree. 
In the same year he was one of the four great barons of 
Scotland named as securities for the observance of the 
Treaty of Newcastle, and as the other three barons named 
were the Steward of Scotland, afterwards Robert II., the 
Lord of Douglas, and Thomas of Moray, it is clear that he 
was selected on that occasion as one of the most powerful 
chiefs of his time in all Scotland. On the 3ist of March, 
1356, Edward III. of England issued a commission to treat 
directly with the Island chief, and in the treaty for the 
liberation of David II., entered into on the 3rd of October in 
the following year, by which also an " inviolable truce " for 
ten years between England and Scotland was agreed upon, 
the Lord of the Isles was specially mentioned. In 1362 
he obtained a confirmation of all donations and concessions 

* Western Highlands and Isles, pp. 30-31. 


by whosoever made to him, and of whatsoever lands, tene- 
ments, annual rents, and other possessions held by him. 

The haughty temper of the Western chief is well illus- 
trated by an anecdote told in Hugh Macdonald's MS. 
" When John of the Isles was to be married, some of his 
followers and familiars advised him to behave courteously 
before the King, and to uncover himself as others did. 
He said (that) he did not well know how the King 
should be reverenced, for all the men he ever saw should 
reverence himself" ; and to get over the difficulty, he 
" threw away his cap, saying he would wear none," and thus 
there would be no necessity to humiliate himself by taking 
it off before the King. 

There is now no doubt whatever that John, first Lord of 
the Isles, married first, as his lawful wife, Amie, sole repre- 
sentative and heiress of the MacRuari branch of the Siol 
Cuinn, and that among his descendants by this marriage, 
we must look for the representative of the elder branch, 
and therefore for the chiefs of the line of Somerled of the 
Isles ; while it is equally true that the family of Sleat 
represent the last Earls of Ross and Lords of the Isles. 
There is, at the same time, no doubt that Donald, the 
eldest son of the second marriage, although not the chief 
of the family by right of blood, became the actual feudal 
superior of his brothers. On this point Gregory is em- 
phatic, and says " Donald, the eldest son of the second 
marriage, became on his father's death, second Lord of the 
Isles, and in that capacity was most undoubtedly, feudal 
superior and actual chief of his brothers, whether of the 
full or half blood." We shall therefore treat the Lords of 
the Isles as the first and most important line, in the follow- 
ing pages. 

By his marriage with Amie, heiress of the MacRuaries, 
" the good John of Isla " had issue 

1. John, who died before his father, leaving one son, 
Angus, who died without issue. 

2. Godfrey, of Uist and Garmoran, whose desendants are 
said to be extinct. 


2. Ranald, or Reginald, progenitor of Glengarry, and of 
all the Macdonalds claiming to be Clan Ranalds. These 
shall be dealt with in their order. 

4. Mary, said to have married, first, one of the Macleans 
of Duart, and, secondly, Maclean of Coll. 

He married, secondly, Lady Margaret, daughter of 
Robert, High Steward of Scotland, afterwards King Robert 
II., and first of the Stewart dynasty. By this lady he had 

5. Donald, who succeeded as second Lord of the Isles. 

6. John Mor Tanastair, of Isla, ancestor of the Earls of 
Antrim, Macdonalds of Sanda, and several other important 

7. Alexander, Lord of Lochaber, known as " Alastair 
Carrach," progenitor of the family of Keppoch, Dalchoisnie, 
and others, of whom in their order. 

He had also a natural son, Donald, one of the hostages 
named in the treaty of 1369 already quoted. 

Gregory says that John died in 1380, while Skene places 
his death about 1386. His death took place at his castle 
of Ardtornish in Morven ; and he was buried in the sacred 
precincts of lona, " with great splendour," by the ecclesias- 
tics of the Isles, whose attachment he secured by liberal 
donations to the Church, and who evinced their gratitude 
by naming him " the good John of Isla," a designation 
handed down by tradition to modern times. 

He was succeeded in his possessions, and in the Lordship 
of the Isles, by his eldest son by the second marriage, 


Better known in history as " Donald of Harlaw," the eldest 
son by his father's second marriage, who became feudal 
superior of the children by the first marriage, as already 
described. This chief possessed no small share of his 
father's spirit. He was a man of distinguished ability, 
and, though so closely connected with the throne, he 
resolved to gain complete independence, like his ancestors, 


for the Island kingdom. The more easily to gain his 
purpose he entered into an alliance with the English 
against his own country and king, a proceeding which can 
only be justified on the plea that, like his predecessors, 
he considered himself an independent Prince, owing no 
allegiance to the Scottish king for the territories held by 
the race of Somerled in the north-west Highlands and Isles. 
This contention was, however, clearly untenable, for in 
point of fact he only possessed his lands, as the eldest son 
of the second marriage, by a charter from the crown, in the 
absence of which these possessions would have gone to the 
children of the first marriage, who only could, on that plea, 
claim to be independent princes. Be that as it may, it is 
undisputed that the second Lord of the Isles is found, in 
the year 1388, shortly after the death of his father, nego- 
tiating with Richard II. of England on the footing of an 
independent Prince. Twelve years later we find him 
visiting England under a safe-conduct dated 2nd June, 
1400, granted in his favour by Henry IV., and treaties 
exist, entered into between him and that monarch, dated 
respectively 1405 and 1408. By the first, dated June 2nd, 
Donald de Insulis, and John, his brother, are allowed to 
come into England with 100 horse ; while on the i6th 
September, 1405, Henry IV. issued a commission for 
treating with Donald de Insulis, Chevalier, and John, his 
brother, about a final peace, alliance, and friendship 
between them and his Majesty. The same proceeding is 
repeated under date of 8th May, 1408. 

A few years later Donald raised the flag of rebellion, and 
conducted himself in a manner, and exhibited a power and 
capacity, which shook the throne and the government 
almost to their very foundations. He had married Lady 
Mary Leslie, only daughter of the Countess of Ross. 
Alexander, Earl of Ross, her only brother, married 
Isabella Stewart, daughter of the Regent, Robert Duke of 
Albany, by which union he had an only child, Euphemia, 
who became a nun, and resigned her estates and dignities 
in favour of her grandfather and her uncle John, Earl of 


Buchan, second son of the Duke of Albany, and his heirs 
male, whom failing, to return to the Crown, thus cutting off 
Lady Margaret, the wife of Donald, who was the heir 
general. Skene says that Euphemia, on taking the veil, 
committed the government of her earldom to the governor, 
when Donald saw that if Albany was permitted to retain 
actual possession of the Earldom, he would be unable to 
recover it in right of his wife from that crafty nobleman. 
He accordingly proceeded to take possession, 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. His demand that he should on 
these grounds be put in possession of it was opposed by 
the Governor, whose principal object appears to have been 
to prevent the accession of so vast a district as the ancient 
Earldom of Ross to the extensive territories of the Lord of 
the Isles, already too powerful to be kept in check by the 
Government. The Governor was actuated more by what 
would most conduce to the security of the Government 
than by any question as to whether the claims of the Lord 
of the Isles were in themselves just or not. Donald was 
not the man, however, who would patiently brook such 
unjust refusal of his rights ; and no sooner did he receive 
an unfavourable denial of his demands than he collected all 
the forces he could command, amounting to about ten 
thousand men, with whom he invaded the Earldom. He 
appears to have met with no resistance from the people of 
Ross ; and soon obtained possession of that district ; but on 
his arrival at Dingwall he was met by Angus Dubh Mackay, 
in command of a large body of men from Sutherland, who, 
after a fierce attack, was completely routed by the Lord of 
the Isles ; and Angus Dubh himself was taken prisoner. 
" Donald was now in complete possession of the Earldom, 
but his subsequent proceedings showed 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 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 better disciplined than the Highland 
followers of Donald. It was on the 24th July, 1411, 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." * 

The following description of the engagement is given in a 
recent work : Mar soon saw that he had to contend with 
tremendous odds ; but, although his forces were, it is said, 
only a tenth of those opposed to him, he resolved, from 
the confidence he had in his steel-clad knights, to risk a 
battle. Having placed a small but select body of knights 
and men-at-arms in front, under the command of the 
constable of Dundee and the Sheriff of Angus, the Earl 
drew up the main strength of his army in the rear, 
including the Murrays, the Straitens, the Maules, the 
Irvings, the Lesleys, the Levels, the Stirlings, headed by their 
respective chiefs. The Earl then placed himself at the 
head of this body. At the head of the Islemen and 
Highlanders was the Lord of the Isles, subordinate to whom 
were Mackintosh and Maclean, and other Highland chiefs, 
all bearing the most deadly hatred to their Saxon foes, 
and panting for revenge. 

On a signal being given, the Highlanders and Islemen, 
setting up those terrific shouts and yells which they were 
accustomed to raise on entering into battle, rushed forward 
upon their opponents ; but they were received with great 
firmness and bravery by the knights, who with their spears 
levelled, and battle-axes raised, cut down many of their 
impetuous but badly armed adversaries. After the 
Lowlanders had recovered themselves from the shock 
which the furious onset of the Highlanders had produced, 
Sir James Scrymgeour, at the head of the knights and 
bannerets who fought under him, cut his way through the 
thick columns of the Islemen, carrying death everywhere 

* Highlanders of Scotland, vol. il, pp. 71-73. 


around him ; but the slaughter of hundreds by this brave 
party did not intimidate the Highlanders, who kept 
pouring in by thousands to supply the places of those who 
had fallen. Surrounded on all sides, no alternative re- 
mained for Sir James and his valorous companions but 
victory or death, and the latter was their lot. The Con- 
stable of Dundee was amongst the first who suffered, and 
his fall so encouraged the Highlanders, that seizing and 
stabbing the horses, they thus unhorsed their riders, whom 
they despatched with their daggers. In the meantime 
the Earl of Mar, who had penetrated with his main army 
into the very heart of the enemy, kept up the unequal 
contest with great bravery, and, although he lost during 
the action almost the whole of his army, he continued the 
fatal struggle with a handful of men till night-fall. The 
disastrous result of this battle was one of the greatest mis- 
fortunes which had ever happened to the numerous 
respectable families in Angus and the Mearns. Many of 
these families lost not only their head, but every male in 
the house. Lesley of Balquhain is said to have fallen with 
six of his sons. Besides Sir James Scrymgeour, Sir 
Alexander Ogilvy, the Sheriff of Angus, with his eldest 
son, George Ogilvy ; Sir Thomas Murray, Sir Robert 
Maule of Panmure, Sir Alexander Irving of Drum, Sir 
William Abernethy of Salton, Sir Alexander Straiton of 
Lauriston, James Lovel, Alexander Stirling, and Sir 
Robert Davidson, Provost of Aberdeen, with 500 men-at- 
arms, including the principal gentry of Buchan, and the 
greater part of the burgesses of Aberdeen, who followed 
their Provost, were amongst the slain. The Highlanders 
left 900 men dead on the field of battle, including the 
Chiefs of Maclean and Mackintosh.* This memorable 
battle was fought on the eve of the feast of St. James the 
the Apostle, July 25, 1411. It was the final contest for 
supremacy between the Celt and the Teuton, and appears 
to have made at the time an inconceivably deep impression 
on the national mind. 

* This is incorrect, Mackintosh lived for many years after the date of the battle 
of Harlaw. 


The Lord of the Isles retreated, without molestation 
from the enemy, and was allowed to recruit his exhausted 
strength. As soon, however, as the news of the disaster 
reached the ears of the Duke of Albany, then Regent of 
Scotland, he set about collecting an army with which he 
marched in person to the north in the autumn, determined 
to bring the Lord of the Isles to obedience. Having 
taken possession of the Castle of Dingwall, he appointed 
a governor, and from thence proceeded to recover the 
whole of Ross. Donald retreated before him, and took 
up his winter quarters in the Islands. Hostilities were 
renewed next summer, but the contest was not long or 
doubtful notwithstanding some little advantages obtained 
by the Lord of the Isles for he was compelled to give 
up his claim to the Earldom of Ross, to become a vassal to 
the Scottish crown, and to deliver hostages to secure his 
future good behaviour.* 

Gregory states that the whole array of the Lordship of 
the Isles followed Donald on that occasion, and that 
consequently he was not weakened by any opposition such 
as might be expected on the part of his elder brothers or 
his descendants, though Ranald, " the youngest but most 
favoured son of the first marriage of the good John, was, as 
the seannachies tell us, ' old in the government of the Isles, 
at his father's death,' " and though he also acted as tutor 
or guardian to his younger brother Donald, now Lord of 
the Isles, to whom, on attaining his majority, he delivered 
over the Lordship, in the presence of the vassals, " contrary 
to the opinion of the men of the Isles," who doubtless 
considered Godfrey, the eldest son of the first marriage, as 
their proper lord. If the opinion of the Islanders was 
at first in favour of Godfrey, the liberality and other 
distinguished characteristics of Donald seem in a very short 
time to have reconciled them to his rule, for " there is no 
trace after this time of any opposition among them to 
Donald or his descendants ". And " as the claim of ' Donald 
of Harlaw ' to the Earldom of Ross, in right of his wife, 

* Fullarton's History of the Highland Clans. 


was after his death virtually admitted by King James I., 
and as Donald himself was actually in possession of that 
Earldom and acknowledged by the vassals in 141 1, he may 
without impropriety be called the first Earl of Ross of his 

According to Buchanan, "there fell so many eminent 
and noble personages as scarce ever perished in one battle 
against a foreign enemy for many years before". The 
following is from Hugh Macdonald : " This Alexander 
(Earl of Ross), who was married to the Duke of Albany's 
daughter, left no issue but one daughter, named Eupheme. 
She being very young, the Governor, her grandfather, 
took her to his own family, and having brought her 
up, they persuaded her by flattery and threats to resign 
her rights of the Earldom of Ross to John, his second son, 
Earl of Buchan, as it was given out, and that much against 
her will. But others were of opinion she did not resign 
her rights ; but thereafter she was bereaved of her life, as 
most men thought, by the contrivance of the Governor. 
Donald, Lord of the Isles, claimed right to the Earldom of 
Ross, but could get no other hearing from the Governor but 
lofty menacing answers, neither could he get a sight of 
the rights which Lady Eupheme gave to his son John. 
The Governor thought that his own strength and sway 
could carry everything according to his pleasure in the 
kingdom, still hoping for the crown, the true heir thereof 
(James I., nephew to the Duke of Albany) being prisoner 
in England. He likewise was at enmity with the Lord of 
the Isles, because Sir Adam Moor's daughterf was his 

* Western Highlands and Isles, pp. 31-32. 

t The author of the " Macdonnells of Antrim" says, in a footnote, pp. 17-18, 
regarding this lady, who was the grandmother of both the claimants : Elizabeth 
More or Muir, was a lady of the well-known Rowallan family, in the parish of 
Kilmarnock, her father, Sir Adam Muir, being the fifth in descent from David 
de Moore, the founder of that house early in the thirteenth century. There had 
formerly existed considerable doubt as to the reality of the marriage between 
Robert II. and Elizabeth Muir, and all the earlier Scottish historians down even to 
Buchanan, supposed that their union had not been legalised by marriage. The 
author of the Historic of James the sex/A, however, after quoting from a pedigree of 
the Muirs of Rowallan, says that " Robert, great Steward of Scotland having taken 


grandmother, knowing full well that he would own the true 
heir's cause against him. The Lord of the Isles told the 
Governor he would either lose all he had or gain the 
Earldom of Ross, to which he had such a good title. 
The Duke replied he wished Donald would be so forward 
as to stick to what he said. Donald immediately raised the 
best of his men, to the number of 10,000, and chose out 
of them 6600, turning the rest of them to their homes. 
They thought first they would fight near to Inverness ; 
but, because the Duke and his army came not, Donald's 
army marched through Murray, and over the Spey. The 
Governor, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Murray, and John 
Stewart, Earl of Buchan, the Governor's son, having 
gathered an army of 9700 men, desired the Lord of the Isles 
tostay, and thatthey would meethim near Inverness and give 
him battle ; but he would not leave his own men foraging 
in his own county of Ross. Therefore he marched forward, 
resolving to take his hazard near their doors, assuring 
himself of victory. Huntly, who was Macdonald's friend, 
sent him a private message, desiring him to commit no 
hostilities in his country, by the way of assuring him, he 
would not own the Governor's quarrels, and wishing Mac- 

away the said Elizabeth, drew to Sir Adame, her father, ane instrument that he 
should take her to his lawful wyfe, which myself hath seeae, said the collector (of the 
pedigree, Mr John Lerniouth), as also ane testimonie, written in Latine by Roger 
M'Adame, priest of our Ladie Marie's Chapelt." A charter granted by Robert II,, 
in 1364, proves that Elizabeth Muir was they?/ wife of that King, and refers to a 
dispensation granted by the Pope for the marriage. This charter was published in 
1694, by one Mr I^ewis Innes, Principal of the Scot's College at Paris. The 
dispensation from Rome referred to in the charter of 1364, was long sought for 
after the lady's death, and was not found until the year 1789, when it and a 
dispensation for the King's marriage with Euphcmia Ross, his last wife, were 
discovered together. There exists also another charter by David II., " to Robert, 
grent Steward of Scotland, of the lands of Kintyre ; and to John Stewart his son, 
gotten betwixt him and Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Adam Moore, knight, and 
failzeing of him, to Walter, his second brother." Elizabeth Muir is said to have 
been a very beautiful woman, and to have captivated the High Steward during the 
unquiet times of Edward Ballot, when the former was often obliged to seek safety 
in concealment. It is supposed that Dundonald Castle was the "scene of King 
Robert's early attachment and nuptials with the fair Elizabeth ". From this union 
are descended, through their daughter, Margaret Stewart, the Macdonnclls of 
Antrim ; and through their sons, not only the race of our British sovereigns, but 
also of several crowned heads in Europe. For an account of the Muirs of Rowallan, 
see Paterson's Parishes and Families of Ayrshire, vol. ii. , pp. 182-104. 


donald good success, and desiring him to be of good 
courage. The Lord of the Isles went forward till both 
armies met at Harlaw, a place in Garioch in the Braes of 
Buchan. There came several in the Governor's army out 
of curiosity to see Macdonald and his Highlanders routed, 
as they imagined ; others came to be rewarded by the 
Governor, as they did not expect to see any other king, in 
all appearance, but he and his offspring ; others came 
through fear of the Duke's great authority. Macdonald 
set his men in order of battle as follows. He commanded 
himself the main battle, where he kept most of the Islanders, 
and with the Macleods, John of Harris and Roderick of the 
Lewis. He ordered the rest to the wings, the right com- 
manded by Hector Roy Maclean, and the left by Callum 
Beg Mackintosh, who that day received from Macdonald 
a right of the lands of Glengarry in Lochaber, by way of 
pleasing him for yielding the right wing to Maclean, and 
to prevent any quarrel between him and Maclean. Mac- 
kintosh said he would take the lands, and make the left 
behave as well as the right. John More, Donald's brother, 
was placed with a detachment of the lightest and nimblest 
men as a reserve, either to assist the wings or main battle, 
as occasion required. To him was joined Mackenzie and 
Donald Cameron of Locheill. Allister Carrick was young, 
and therefore was much against his will set apart, lest the 
whole of his brothers should be hazarded at once. The 
Earls of Mar and Buchan ordered their men in a main 
battle and two small fronts ; the right front was com- 
manded by Lords Marishall and Erroll, the left by Sir 
Alexander Ogilvie, Sheriff of Angus. They encountered 
one another ; their left wing was forced by Maclean, and 
the party on Macdonald's right was forced to give way. 
There was a great fold for keeping cattle behind them, 
into which they went. The Earl of Mar was forced to give 
ground, and that wing was quite defeated. Mar and Erroll 
posted to Aberdeen, the rest of Macdonald's men followed 
the chase. There were killed on the Governor's side 2550. 
The Lord Marishall was apprehended safe, and died in his 


confinement of mere grief and despair. Sir Alexander 
Ogilvy, Sheriff of Angus, was killed, with seven knights, 
and several other gentlemen. On Macdonald's side Mac- 
lean fell ; he and Irvin of Drum fought together till the one 
killed the other. Drum's two brothers, with the principal 
men of that surname, were killed, so that a boy of that 
name, who herded the cattle, succeeded to the estate of 
Drum. Two or three gentlemen of the name of Munroc 
were slain, together with the son of Macquarry of Ulva, 
and two gentlemen of the name of Cameron. On Mac- 
donald's side were lost in all 180. This battle was fought 
anno 1411. Macdonald had burnt Aberdeen had not 
Huntly dissuaded him from it, saying that by his victory, 
in all appearance, he gained his own, yet it was ridiculous 
in him to destroy the town, and that the citizens would 
always join with him who had the upper hand. Now, to 
prove these fabulous and partial writers, particularly 
Buchanan, it is well known to several men of judgment and 
knowledge that Macdonald had the victory there, and 
gained the Earldom of Ross, for four or five generations 
thereafter, and that Mackintosh, whom they say was 
killed, lived twenty years thereafter, and was with the Earl 
of Mar when Alexander Macdonald, Lord of the Isles, was 
captive at Tantallon, in the battle fought at Inverlochy 
against Donald Balloch, Alexander's cousin-german. This 
Donald Balloch was son to John More, brother to Donald 
of the Isles and Earl of Ross. Now, it happened that this 
same Callum Beg Mackintosh was with King James I. 
after his releasement from his captivity in England, in the 
same place where the battle was fought. The King asked 
him how far they followed the chase? Mackintosh replied 
that they followed it farther than his Majesty thought. 
So the King riding on a pretty pace, asked Mackintosh if 
they came that length ? He answering, said, in his opinion, 
there was a heap of stones before them, and that he left 
there a mark to show that he followed the chase that length ; 
and with that he brought a man's arm with its gauntlet out 
of the heap. The King, beholding it, desired him to be 


with him that night at Aberdeen. The King upon his 
arrival there, Mackintosh going to his lodgings, said in 
presence of the bystanders, that he had performed his 
word to the King, and now he would betake himself to his 
own lodgings ; whereupon he immediately left the town, 
for he dreaded the King would apprehend him. Patrick, 
Earl of Tullibardin, said as other noblemen were talking 
of the battle of Harlaw, we know that Macdonald had the 
victory, but the Governor had the printer"* 

Summing up a description and the consequences of this 
famous engagement, Burton, with his characteristic hatred 
of the Highlanders, must of course call the result of this 
battle a " defeat " for the Islanders, and says " So ended 
one of Scotland's most memorable battles. The contest 
between the Lowlanders and Donald's host was a contest 
between foes, of whom their contemporaries would have 
said that their ever being in harmony with each other, or 
having a feeling of common interests and common nation- 
ality was not within the range of rational expectations. 
. . . It will be difficult to make those not familiar with 
the tone of feeling in Lowland Scotland at that time 
believe that the defeat of Donald of the Isles was felt as 
a more memorable deliverance than even that of Bannock- 

We learn from the MS. History of the Mackintoshes 
quoted by Charles Fraser-Mackintosh in " Invernessiana " 
that: In this war Malcolm, or Callum Beg, Chief of 
Mackintosh, " lost many of his friends, particularly James 
Mackintosh (Shaw) of Rothiemurchus," who must have 
been confused with the Chief himself, though the latter, in 
point of fact, lived until about 1457.4 

* Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, pp. 300-2. 

t Vol. iii. , pp. 101-102. 

% In 1412, according to the accounts of the great chamberlain of Scotland " pay- 
ment is made to Lord Alexander, Earl of Mar, for various labours aud expenses 
incurred in the war against the Lord of the Isles for the utility of the whole king- 
dom of ,122 75. 4d. ; and also to him for the construction of a fortalice at Inverness, 
for the utility of the kingdom, against said Lord of the Isles, ^ico ; and for lime 
to Inverness for the construction of said fortalice, and for food and the carriage of 


It has been generally supposed that the resignation of 
the Earldom of Ross by Euphemia the nun in favour of 
her grandfather, Robert, Duke of Albany, was the sole and 
immediate cause of the battle ; but the actual date of the 
instrument of resignation is 1415 four years afterwards; 
and Skene thinks that the securing of the resignation of 
the earldom in his favour at that date was rather an 
attempt on the part of Albany to give a colour of justice 
to his retention of what he was, by the result of the battle 
of Harlaw, enabled to keep in his possession. There is no 
doubt that his claim on the earldom was the ostensible 
cause of the invasion by the Lord of the Isles, but the 
readiness with which that claim was given up in the 
following summer, by a treaty concluded with the Governor 
at Fort-Gilp, in Argyleshire on which occasion Donald 
not only gave up the earldom, but agreed to become a 
vassal of the Crown, and to deliver hostages for his future 
good behaviour, while he might easily have kept possession 
of Ross clearly indicate that the invasion was but a part 
of a much more extensive scheme for which the claim to 
the earldom served as a very good excuse, and that upon 
the failure of the more extensive scheme, the claim for the 
earldom was, with little ado, given up. This becomes the 
more apparent if we keep in mind the treaty between 
Donald and Henry IV. of England, dated 1408, above 
referred to ; and that no sooner was the civil war in 
Scotland concluded than a truce was agreed upon between 
England and Scotland for a period of six years. Gregory 
is of the same opinion, and says (p. 32) " After the death 
of John, Lord of the Isles, we discover various indications of 
the intrigues of the English Court with the Scottish 
Islanders had been assumed ; and it is not altogether im- 
probable that it was a suspicion of these treasonable 
practices which caused the Regent, Robert of Albany, to 
oppose the pretensions of Donald, Lord of the Isles, to the 

wood, /32 ios. 3d. In 1414 payment is made to Lord Alexander, Earl of Mar, in 
consideration of his divers labours and expenses about the castle of Inverness, of 
52 us. 3 d." 


Earldom of Ross. But although English emissaries were 
on various occasions dispatched, not only to the Lord of 
the Isles himself, but to his brothers Godfrey and John 
and two of the brothers even appear to have visited the 
English Court we cannot, at this distance of time, 
ascertain how far these intrigues were carried." The fatal 
policy of taking part with England against Scotland in the 
quarrels of those kingdoms was continued by Donald's 
successors until the power of the Lord of the Isles was 
finally broken up ; and his grandson, as will be seen, by the 
same unpatriotic conduct brought on the downfall of his 
house sooner than it would otherwise have come. 

Donald, second Lord of the Isles, married Lady Mary 
Leslie (daughter of Sir Walter Leslie, by Euphemia, 
Countess of Ross, in favour of whose marriage there is a 
dispensation dated 1367), who became Countess of Ross in 
her own right when her niece resigned the earldom and 
adopted the veil. By this marriage the Lord of the Isles 
had issue 

1. Alexander, who succeeded as Lord of the Isles and 
Earl of Ross. 

2. Angus, Bishop of the Isles. 

3. Mariot, who married Alexander Sutherland, and to 
whom "her brother Alexander, in 1429, gave the lands of 
Duchall, to her and her husband, Alexander Sutherland, 
as appears from the grant of the same in the possesion 
of Sinclair of Roslin ".* 

He died, according to Findon, in 1423 ; to Gregory, 
"circa 1420"; while Hugh Macdonald the Seannachie, 
though not mentioning the year of his death, says that he 
" died at Ardhorinish, in Morvairn, in the forty-fifth year 
of his age, and was buried at Icolmkill, after the rites and 
ceremonies of his predecessors ". He was succeeded in the 
Lordship of the Isles, and, a few years later, in the Earl- 
dom of Ross, by his eldest son, 

* Wood's Douglas's Peerage. 



After the death of his mother, Countess of Ross in her 
own right, he became Earl of Ross. The title was ac- 
knowledged in 1430 by the Crown, though his father 
had given up all claims to it by the treaty of Port-Gilp 
already referred to. It is open to question, whether 
Donald of Harlaw was really entitled to style himself 
Earl of Ross, though he undoubtedly possessed, in right 
of his wife, the territory comprising the Earldom, not- 
withstanding that Skcne is of opinion that Donald may 
fairly be considered the first Earl of Ross of the race of 
Somerled. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that 
Alexander was not only styled Earl of Ross, but acknow- 
ledged as such by the Crown, in right of his mother. 

He was a man of great spirit and marked ability, and, 
like his father and grandfather, became ambitious to found 
a Celtic kingdom of the Isles, the sovereignty of which 
should be in his family. At the time, however, Scotland was 
ruled by James I., exhibiting kingly talents of a high order, 
and a resolution to bring his rebellious vassals, however 
powerful, to submission. In this he was ultimately 
successful, even in the case of the Lord of the Isles, though, 
at first, more by clever strategy than by actual force of 
arms. The King, who possessed remarkable energy, 
decision of character, and unsurpassed personal bravery, 
determined to break down the independence and power of 
the turbulent Island and West Highland Lords, and, collect- 
ing a large force, he, in 1427, marched to Inverness ac- 
companied by his principal nobles, with an army which 
made resistance on the part of the Highlanders quite 
unavailing. On his arrival he summoned his barons, in- 
cluding the Highland chiefs, to attend a parliament. 
Even the Lord of the Isles, seeing the power and splendour 
of the King, thought it prudent to obey ; and, with most 
of the Northern barons, he proceeded to meet him in the 
Highland Capital. As the chiefs entered the hall in 



which parliament was assembled, each of the haughty 
nobles was immediately arrested, and placed in irons in 
different parts of the building, not one being permitted to 
communicate with any of the others. Among the prisoners 
were Alexander of the Isles ; his mother the Countess of 
Ross ; Alexander of Garmoran, and several of the most 
powerful chiefs in the Highlands. It is recorded that the 
King exhibited marks of great joy as he saw those power- 
ful Highland Lords marching into the toils which he had so 
treacherously prepared for them. Alexander of Garmoran, 
was tried, convicted, and adjudged to be decapitated on 
the spot, and his whole possessions forfeited to the crown, 
while most of the others were sent to different castles and 
strongholds throughout the kingdom, until the majority of 
them were afterwards condemned to different kinds of 
death ; while a few were set at liberty after various terms of 
imprisonment. Among the latter was Alexander of the 
Isles. It is impossible to defend the mean and treacherous 
conduct of the King, however brave or otherwise dis- 
tinguished, but Hill Burton makes the attempt ; while 
telling us that " It is useless to denounce such acts," he 
makes an admission which is not altogether inapplicable to 
the present day: That "there was no more notion of keeping 
faith with the ' Irishry,' whether of Ireland or Scotland, 
than with the beast of prey lured to his trap ; " after which 
he proceeds to say that those whom it was deemed fitting 
to get rid of were put to death, and that nothing remains 
to show that there was even the ceremonial of a trial.* 

The Earldom of Ross, which had been procured by 
Robert, Duke of Albany, for his son, John Stewart, Earl 
of Buchan, on its resignation at Port-Gilp by Donald of 
Harlaw, fell to the Crown, in 1424, by the death of the 
Earl of Buchan, killed in that year at the battle of Verneuil 
in France ; whereupon the King at once restored it to the 
heiress of line, the mother of Alexander of the Isles. In 
1425, Alexander of the Isles and " Master of the Earldom 
of Ross," sat upon the jury which condemned to death 

* History of Scotland, vol. ii. , 402; 1876. 


the enemy of his house, Murdoch, Duke of Albany, his two 
sons, and the Earl of Lennox, for the murder of Rothesay. 
He does not appear, however, to have long continued in 
favour at Court, and it may be interesting to have Gregory's 
opinion of the influences which led Alexander at that time 
into opposition to the King. It has been mentioned, 
he says, that Godfrey, Lord of Uist, on the death of his 
younger brother, Ranald, asserted successfully his claim to 
the North Isles and Garmoran, from which he had been 
unjustly excluded by his father. Both Godfrey and 
Ranald left male issue who must naturally have been 
opposed to each other, like their fathers ; but the meagre 
notices we possess of the domestic feuds in the Highlands 
and Isles at this period, do not enable us to trace the 
progress of these dissensions. It may be readily conceived, 
however, that where such a prize was in dispute, much 
blood would be shed and many atrocities committed. The 
issue of Godfrey, or the Siol Gorrie, as they were called, 
must for a time have acquired a superiority over the Clan- 
ranald or the descendants of Ranald ; for in the year 1427 
we find mention made by a contemporary writer of an 
Alexander MacGorrie of Garmoran, then described as a 
leader of two thousand men. In addition to the disturb- 
ances sure to arise out of the rival claims of two such power- 
ful families, closely connected with the Lord of the Isles, 
there were other circumstances, in addition to these, which 
tended to involve his Lordship in feuds which his natural 
disposition inclined him to settle more by the sword than 
by an appeal to the law. There was a certain John Mac- 
Arthur, of the family of Campbell, and a leader of some 
note in the Highlands, who appears to have revived about 
this period a claim which one of his ancestors had acquired 
over a portion of Garmoran and the North Isles, and it can 
easily be conjectured what reception the assertions of such 
pretensions would receive from Alexander of the Isles and 
his warlike relatives. There is a charter of the lands of 
Moydert, &c, by Christina, daughter of Allan MacRuari, 
in favour of Arthur, son of Sir Arthur Campbell, knight, 


early in the fourteenth century, which is found, quoted for 
the names of the witnesses, in a MS. History of the Mac- 
naughtans, in the Advocates' Library. The event, how- 
ever, which appears to have had most effect in throwing 
the Highlands and Islands into confusion at this time was 
the murder of John, Lord of Isla and Kintyre, uncle to the 
Lord of the Isles, by a man, James Campbell, who is said 
to have received a commission from the King to apprehend 
John of Isla, but who exceeded his instructions by putting 
him to death. When it is considered in what lawless state 
even the more accessible portions of the kingdom were found 
on his accession by James I., owing to the incapacity and 
the weakness of the regent, Murdoch, Duke of Albany, it 
can easily be conceived how the murder of the uncle of 
Alexander of the Isles, and the leader of a powerful 
branch of the Macdonalds, should have raised disturbances 
in the Western Highlands and Isles which required all the 
energy and personal bravery of the King to suppress.* 

Among the most prominent of those executed at 
Inverness in 1427 were John MacArthur and James 
Campbell, hanged for the murder of John of Isla, as if to 
show the supposed impartiality of the treacherous proceed- 
ings of the King and his parliament on that occasion. Hugh 
Macdonald informs us that while the Lord of the Isles 
was confined in Tantallon Castle, the King sent this John 
MacArthur Campbell to know " if John More of Kintyre, 
Macdonald's uncle, would take all his nephew's land ; but it 
was a trap laid to weaken them that they might be the more 
easily conquered. James Campbell sent a man with a 
message to John of Kintyre, desiring him to meet him at a 
point called Ard-Du, with some prudent gentleman, and 
that he had matters of consequence from the King to be 
imparted to him. John came to the place appointed with 
a small retinue, but James Campbell with a very great 
train, and told (him) of the King's intention of granting 
him all the lands possessed by Macdonald conditionally he 
would hold of him and serve him. John said he did not know 

* Gregory's Western Highlands and Isles, pp. 34-35. 


wherein his nephew wronged the King, and that his nephew 
was as deserving of his rights as he could be, and that he 
would not accept of those lands, nor serve for them, till his 
nephew would be set at liberty ; and that his nephew 
himself was as nearly related to the King as he could be. 
James Campbell, hearing the answer, said that he (John of 
Isla) was the King's prisoner. John made all the resist- 
ance he could, till, overpowered by numbers, he was killed. 
His death made a great noise through the kingdom, 
particularly among the faction in opposition to the King, 
viz., the Hamiltons, Douglases, and Lindsays. The King 
at last being ashamed of what had happened, he pursued 
James Campbell as the murderer ; and although Campbell 
protested he had the King's authority for so doing, yet the 
King denied having given any other orders than that of 
apprehending him, if he would not come into the terms 
proposed to him ; and because Campbell had no written 
order from the King to produce in his defence, he was 
taken and beheaded, which shows the dangerous conse- 
quences of undertaking such a service without due circum- 

The young Lord of the Isles, was sent south, some say 
to Edinburgh, and others to Perth, where he was kept in 
captivity for a short time, and then liberated. His conduct 
immediately after his release shows that he felt the indignity 
of his capture and imprisonment very deeply. According 
to Gregory ; his mother, the Countess of Ross, had mean- 
while died, though Bower states that in 1429 she was 
charged with encouraging her son in his violent pro- 
ceedings, and was arrested and confined at Inchcolm, in 
the Firth of Forth, where she is said to have remained 
fourteen months after, a prisoner. But Gregory points 
out that this is hardly reconcilable with a charter, 
dated 24th October, 1429, in which her son styles himself 
Earl instead of Master of Ross. The simple change from 
the title of Master to that of Earl during her life, is not at 
all unlikely, when all the circumstances are taken into 

* Collectanea De Rebus Albanicis, p. 308. 


account his mother, who quite possibly may have even 
resigned in his favour, being a state prisoner ; and the 
necessity that he should use every influence, which the 
assumption of the title was calculated to strengthen, to 
raise the vassals of the Earldom for his projected raid on 
the Lowlands. 

He raised a force of about ten thousand men in Ross 
and the Isles, with whom he marched to Inverness, where 
he wasted the Crown lands and burnt the town to ashes, 
in revenge for the treacherous treatment there received by 
him two years before from the King. His followers, to 
quote the MS. History of the Mackintoshes, from " Inver- 
nessiana," " were a band of men accustomed to live by 
rapine, who fell upon Inverness, pillaged and burnt the 
houses, and then besieged the fort itself. But in vain, for 
it was gallantly defended by the bravery and vigour of the 
Governor, and Alexander, understanding that an assault 
was meditated upon him, retired precipitately towards 
Lochaber." The King, hearing of the burning of Inverness, 
prepared at once to vindicate his insulted authority, and 
with great promptitude collected a large force, which he 
commanded in person, and marched them into Lochaber, 
where he came upon the Island Chief quite unexpectedly. 
On the appearance of the Royal forces the Clan Chattan 
and the Camerons, who had hitherto followed the banner 
of the Lord of the Isles, deserted him and went over to the 
King, who immediately attacked the Islanders, routed 
them, and pursued them so closely, that their chief was 
obliged to sue for peace. This the King sternly refused on 
any other terms than an absolute and unconditional 
surrender, which the haughty Lord of the Isles declined to 
make, whereupon the King returned home, leaving strict 
orders with his commanders to make every effort to capture 
the Earl, who found it necessary to flee for shelter, leaving 
his army to take care of itself as best it could. He was 
ultimately driven to despair by the energy and vigilance 
of his pursuers, and determined to throw himself upon 
the mercy of the King, by appearing before him, his 


Queen, and Court, while assembled, on Easter Sunday, at 
a solemn festival in the Church of Holyrood, engaged in 
their devotions before the High Altar, the haughty chief, 
with bonnet in hand, his legs and arms quite bare, his body 
covered only with a plaid, in his shirt and drawers, with a 
naked sword in his hand held by the point, which, in token 
of submission, he offered to the King, on bended knees, 
imploring his forgiveness. " His appearance, with the 
solicitations of the affected Queen and all the nobles, made 
such an impression on his majesty that he completely 
submitted to the promptings of his heart, against the wiser 
and more prudent dictates of his better judgment. He 
accepted the sword offered to him, and spared the life of 
his captive, but immediately committed him to Tantallon 
Castle, under the charge of William Douglas, Earl of 
Angus. The spirit of his followers, however, could not 
brook this mortal offence, and the whole strength of the 
clan was mustered under Donald Balloch, a cousin of the 
Lord of the Isles. They were led to Lochaber, where they 
met the King's forces, under the Earls of Mar and Caith- 
ness, killed the latter, gained a complete victory over the 
Royal forces, and returned to the Isles in triumph with a 
great quantity of spoil. James again came north in person 
as far as Dunstaffnage ; Donald Balloch fled to Ireland ; 
and after several encounters with the Highlanders, the 
King received the submission of most of the chiefs who 
were engaged in the rebellion ; others were apprehended 
and executed, to the number of about three hundred, after 
which he released the Earl from Tantallon Castle, and 
granted him a free pardon for all his rebellious acts ; 
confirmed him in all his titles and possessions ; and con- 
ferred upon him the Lordship of Lochaber, which had 
previously, on its forfeiture, been granted to the Earl of 

Skene has been led into the error of stating that Donald 
Balloch was the son of Reginald, and Chief of Glengarry. 

* History and Genealogies of the Clan Mackenzie, by the same author, 1879, 
pp. 49-50. 


He was, undoubtedly, the son of John Mor Tanaistear, 
next brother of Donald of Harlaw, and ancestor of the 
Macdonnells and Earls of Antrim. Skene also fell into 
the mistake of crediting the ruse played upon the King, 
when a head, said to be that of Donald Balloch, was sent 
to him by Conn O'Neil, an Irish Chief. He says that King 
James seeing that the absence of their 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 their head a chief who 
had become bound to him from acts of clemency, than 
to expose them to the influences of the other branches 
of the family, who were now irritated by the indignity 
offered to their legitimate chief proceeded in person to 
the North, for the purpose of quelling the remains of the 
rebellion. His expedition was attended with the usual 
success by the submission 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 him not only in 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 prudence 
of this policy on the part of the King was soon apparent, 
for although the Island Chief was naturally more disposed 
to take up an antagonistic position to the Crown, and went 
even the length of entering into a treasonable league with 
the Earls of Crawford and Douglas, who at the time led 
the opposition to the King, he did not again disturb the 
peace of the nation during his life. 

Donald Balloch inherited through his" mother, Marjory 
Bisset, the district of the Glens in Ireland, whither he had 
betaken himself after the dispersion of his army, and after 
he had ravaged and spoiled the territories of Clan Chattan 
and the Camerons, who had deserted him and gone over to 

* Highlanders of Scotland, pp. 78-79. 


the King. Most of the subordinate insurgent leaders 
submitted to James, and tried to avoid punishment by 
throwing the whole blame of the insurrection on Donald 
Balloch, whose power, they declared, they dared not resist. 
As to Donald and his reputed decapitation, Gregory says 
that " on the return of James to Edinburgh, a head, said to 
be that of Donald Balloch, was sent to him by Hugh Buy 
O'Neill, an Irish chief of Ulster ; and it was generally 
believed at the Scottish Court that the ringleader of the 
late insurrection was now no more. But as Donald Balloch 
certainly survived King James many years, it is obvious 
that the sending of the head to Edinburgh was a stratagem 
devised by the crafty Islander in order to check further 

The date of this battle, according to Hill Burton and 
Gregory, was 1431. The former states that an extra- 
ordinary tax was granted on the occasion of it " for the 
resistance of the King's rebellers of the north," which was 
to be such that " in all lands of the realm where the yield 
of twa pennies was raiset, there be now ten pennies raiset ". 
[Vol. ii., p. 403]. Describing the battle, the author of 
" The Macdonnells of Antrim " informs us that the Low- 
land knights, who were very numerous in the Royal army, 
plumed themselves on the superior armour and discipline 
of their men, but soon found that even this was of no avail 
against the furious onset of their Highland foes, who 
wielded their broadswords and Lochaber-axes with all the 
ferocity of Northern warfare. According to him, at least 
one thousand of the King's army were slain, among whom 
were the Earl of Caithness, and sixteen of his personal 
retinue, together with several knights and barons from the 
southern counties of Scotland, after which the Highland 
host dispersed itself into marauding parties, spoiled the 
county, and then returned to their native fastnesses, having 
only lost some fifty of their comrades in arms on the 
battlefield. " Donald Balloch, and several other leaders, 
having had their revenge, steered their galleys across the 
Highlands and Isles, pp. 38-39. 



channel, and sought rest and security, which they very 
much needed, in the woody glens of Antrim. They were 
soon followed by a despatch from the Scottish King to 
O'Neill, requesting the latter to seize and send back Donald 
Balloch alive or dead. O'Neill, who had previously entered 
into a treaty with James I. of mutual assistance against 
England, sent the latter a human head, which was joyously 
accepted as that of Donald Balloch by the Scottish Court 
then at Perth. But Donald Balloch retained possession of 
his own head, and at the time of this other head's trans- 
mission to Scotland he was actually paying his addresses 
to O'Neill's daughter, whom he soon afterwards married, 
and through whose powerful connections he was restored 
without much delay to his estates in Isla and Cantire." 
This lady was the daughter of Conn O'Neill (son of Hugh 
Buy O'Neill), who resided at a place called Edenduffcarrick, 
and now known as Shane's Castle, in Ireland, where he 
died in the year 1482. 

Following up his account of the execution of James 
Campbell at Inverness, in 1427, for the murder of John 
Mor Tanaistear, father of Donald Balloch, Hugh Macdonald 
describes the incidents which led up to the battle of Inver- 
lochy, the battle itself, and the events which followed upon 
it, in so detailed and interesting a manner that, even at the 
risk of some repetition it may be placed before the 
reader, the phraseology being slightly modernised. He 
says : All those about the King wished to impair Mac- 
donald's estate and diminish his grandeur, to which the 
King himself was not very averse. They now thought it 
a convenient time for their purpose, the Lord of the Isles 
being in prison (in Tantallon Castle), and his uncle, John 
Mor, dead, to seize on the lands of Lochaber, whereupon 
Alexander, Earl of Mar, who had received a grant of these 
lands from the King, levied a great army by his Majesty's 
directions, namely, the followers of Huntly ; Allan, Lord 
of Caithness ; Eraser of Lovat, Mackintosh, Mackay of 
Strathnaver, Grant, and the Chief of the Camerons, who 
enticed some of Macdonald's vassals, by making them great 


promises, to join with them, and that the rights they 
formerly held of Macdonald would be confirmed to them 
by the King. The vassals and the freeholders, considering 
that Macdonald's power was entirely gone and ruined, and 
believing they would never again see him installed in his 
possessions, through greed and covetousness they joined 
the King's party. So, coming to Lochaber, they pitched 
their tents near the Castle of Inverlochy. Fraser of Lovat* 
was sent to harass Sunart and Ardnamurchan with 3000 
men, to secure provisions for the army and the camp. 
Macdonald, obtaining information of these proceedings, and 
finding an opportunity, sent a message from his prison of 
Tantallon to the Highlands desiring those whom he trusted 
most to face the enemy, though they might never again 
get a sight of him. So Donald Balloch, his cousin-german 
(John Mor's Son, at the time only 18 years of age, and 
who was fostered by Maclean), gathered all those who 
faithfully adhered to Macdonald's interest, and came to 
Carna, an island in Loch Sunart, there, meeting with the 
Laird of Ardnamurchan, Allan, son of Allan of Moydart, 
and his brother, Ranald Ban (for these were the principal 
men of the name who were with him). He picked out the 
best of their men to the number of 600, most of whom 
were gentlemen and freeholders, and all of whom came in 
their galleys to Inverskippinish, two miles south of Inver- 
lochy. Now Alastair Carrach, Macdonald's younger uncle, 
who held the lands of Lochaber east of Lochy, and whose 
posterity are yet there, took possession of the hill above 
the enemy with 220 archers, being unable by the smallness 
of their number to face the enemy, and expecting that 
some of his friends would at last come to his relief. Upon 
seeing his nephew, Donald Balloch, he was, however, much 
animated. As Donald Balloch drew near the Royal forces, 
Huntly stepped into the Earl of Mar's tent, where he and 
Mackintosh were playing at cards. Huntly suggested to 
them to give up their play as the enemy were close at 

* This was Hugh Fraser, created Lord Lovat by James I. in the same year, 
1431. His second son, Hugh, succeeded to the title. 


hand. They (the card-players) asked if the enemy were 
in great force, when Huntly replied that they were not 
very numerous, but he could see that they were determined 
to fight. " Well," said Mackintosh, ' we'll play this game, 
and dispute with these fellows afterwards." Huntly again 
looked out, when he saw the enemy driving on furiously 
towards them ; he goes a second time to the tent, saying, 
" Gentlemen, fight stoutly, or render yourselves to your 
enemies ". Mackintosh replied that they " would play that 
game, and would do with the enemy what they pleased 
afterwards, and that he knew very well the doings of the 
big-bellied carles of the Isles ". " Whatever they be," 
replied Huntly, " they will fight like men this day," when 
Mackintosh retorted that " though he himself (Huntly) 
should assist them, their (Mackintosh's) party would defeat 
them both ". Whereupon Huntly went out of the tent in 
a rage, saying that he would fight none against the High- 
landers that day. He then drew his men aside, and " was 
more of a spectator than of either party ". " Then joining 
battle, Donald Balloch made a main battle, and a front of 
his men." The front was commanded by Maclan of 
Ardnamurchan, and John Maclean of Coll ; the main 
battle by Ranald Ban, son of John M6r, murdered by 
James Campbell (and a natural brother of Donald Balloch, 
who became progenitor of the family of Lairgy), and Allan, 
son of Allan, Laird of Moidart (of whom descended the 
family of Knoydart), and MacDuffie of Colonsay, Mac- 
Quarrie of Ulva, and MacGee of the Rinds of Isla. As the 
combatants faced one another, Alastair Carrach and his 
220 archers poured down the brae of the hill on which they 
had planted themselves, and shot their arrows so thick on 
the flank of the Royal army, as to compel them to give 
way. Allan, Lord of Caithness, a son of Lovat, and 990 
were killed. Hugh Mackay of Strathnaver was taken 
prisoner, and he married a daughter of Alexander Mac- 
donald of Keppoch, " of whom descended the race of 
Mackays called Slioc Ean Abrich ". Donald Balloch lost 
only 27 men. The Earl of Mar was wounded in the thigh 


by an arrow, and was in the hills for two nights accom- 
panied only by his servant, in a starving condition, for they 
had no provisions. At last he fell in with some women 
tending their cattle, who happened to have a little barley 
meal for their own use, and with which they relieved the 
Earl and his servant, mixing it with a little water in the 
heel of the Earl's own shoe. The Earl, after he and his 
servant had satisfied their hunger, composed the following 
lines in Gaelic : 

'S math an cocaire an t-acras, 
'S mairg 'ni tailleas air biadh, 
Fuarag eorn' a sail mo bhroige 
Biadh is fhearr a fhuair mi riamh. 

The Earl left his clothes with the woman that he might 
disguise himself, and he travelled all night until he came 
to a small house, on a spot of land called Beggich, belong- 
ing to an Irishman named O'Birrin. He told this man 
that he was one of the Earl of Mar's followers, and that 
necessity obliged him to disguise himself for fear of being 
discovered. The man was going to slaughter a cow as the 
Earl came to his place, and he desired the stranger to hold 
her. " The Earl was more willing to obey his landlord's 
orders than skilful to act as butcher." The Irishman, dis- 
satisfied with the awkward manner in which he was assisted 
by the Earl, " cursed those who took such a blockhead abroad 
to be a soldier. At last he cuts some collops which he 
gave to the Earl to dress for himself which he could not 
very well do, until his landlord did it for him, by roasting 
them upon the coals. At going to bed he washed the Earl's 
feet in warm water, cleaned and washed his wound. When 
the Earl laid himself down, he could not sleep with cold, 
being very scarce of bed clothes. O'Birrin got up, took the 
cow's hide, and warming it to the fire, wrapped it about the 
Earl, which warmed him so much that he perspired during 
the whole night. In the morning, after such refreshments 
as they had, the Earl said he would go to Badcnoch." He 
informed his host that he did not know the way thither, 
but would do his best to find it, whereupon the Irishman 


made him fill his pockets with the flesh of the cow, and 
then convoyed him three or four miles on his way. When 
they parted company the stranger told him if he should 
ever find himself in tightened circumstances, to go to Kil- 
drummie, the seat of the Earl of Mar, and ask there for 
Alexander Stewart, who would cause the Earl to reward 
him for his present kindness to himself. 

Some time after the Irishman did as he was told, and, 
arriving at Kildrummie, asked for Alexander Stewart, 
when the porter told him that "he was a fool, for there was 
no such man there," but the Irishman continued to knock 
until the Earl himself at last heard him, and, calling for 
the porter, he asked him who was knocking at the gate. 
The latter replied that " he was some fool enquiring for 
Alexander Stewart ". The Earl soon recognised the " fool " 
as his old friend the Irishman, ordered the gate to be 
opened to him, and kindly embraced him, at the same time 
addressing him in the following lines : 

Oidhche dhomh a bhi ann an tigh air moran bidh 's air bheng aodaich, 
Fhuaras agh' mor do dh' fheoil air dhroch bhruich bho O'Birrin 's a Bhaggach. 

His Lordship sent for a tailor, and ordered him at once to 
make a suit of clothes for O'Birrin. He requested the latter 
to bring his wife and son to Kildrummie, but this the Irish- 
man declined, saying that his wife was old, and would not 
leave her native country. After entertaining him for some 
time, the Earl sent O'Birrin home with sixty milch cows, en- 
joining him to send his son to Kildrummie. The son came 
"some time thereafter, and was made a laird of a small 
estate, which has since fallen to a gentleman of the name of 
Forbes, whereby it may be seen that a good turn to a gener- 
ous or noble person is not always lost."* 

During the minority of James II. the Earl of Ross and 
Lord of the Isles held the office of " Justiciar of Scotland 
north of the Forth," a position which, Gregory thinks, he 
probably obtained from Archibald, Earl of Douglas and 
Duke of Touraine, then Lieutenant-General of Scotland. 
There is no account of the manner in which the Earl exer- 

* Transactions of the lona Club, 308-312. 


cised the duties of his high office, but it is supposed that it 
was under colour of it that he inflicted his vengeance on the 
Chief of the Camerons about this time for deserting him 
and going over to the Royal standard in Lochaber, and in 
consequence of which Lochiel was forced to flee to Ireland, 
where he remained for several years ; and, in his absence, 
his lands were bestowed by the Earl of Ross upon John 
Garve Maclean, ancestor and founder of the family of Coll. 
The Earl married Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander 
Seton, Lord of Gordon and Huntly, and by her had issue 

1. John, his successor. 

2. Celestine, variously styled Archibald, and its Gaelic 
equivalent, Gillespic, Lord of Lochalsh and Lochcarron. 
He married Finvola, daughter of Lachlan Maclean of Duart, 
with issue Sir Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh (Alas- 
tair MacGillespic) who aftenvards, in 1488, fought the 
famous battle of Park against the Mackenzies, near Strath- 
peffer, and of whom hereafter. 

3. Hugh otherwise called " Austin " and " Augustine," 
corruptions of the Gaelic equivalent Hugh, i.e., Huistean or 
Uistean. He was styled Lord of Sleat, and married, firsti 
Finvola, daughter of Maclan of Ardnamurchan, by whom 
he had John, his heir, who died without issue. He married, 
secondly, a lady of the Clan Gunn in Caithness, by whom 
he had issue, Donald Gallach, who carried on the succession, 
and whose descendants are now held, by general concur- 
rence, to represent, as heirs male, Alexander, third, and 
John, last Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, forfeited in 
1475 and 1493. 

A question has been raised about the legitimacy of 
Celestine and Hugh, as well as of Hugh's descendants, 
especially Donald Gallach, from whom descended the 
present Lord Macdonald of the Isles. Respecting Hugh, 
after describing a successful raid by him to Orkney, Hugh 
Macdonald, says that " Having routed the enemy, Austin 
(Hugh) and his party began to ravage the country, that being 
the only reward they had for their pains and fatigue, with 
which, having loaded their galleys, they returned home. 


Austine having halted at Caithness, he got a son by the 
Crowner of Caithness's daughter, of the name of Gun, 
which at that time was a very flourishing name there, 
descended of the Danes. This son was called Donald 
Gallich, being brought up in that county in his younger 
years ; for the ancient Scots, until this day, call the county 
of Caithness Gallibh." Referring to the two families of 
John, first Lord of the Isles, Skene says [vol. ii., p. 95] 
that the representation of his children by his second 
marriage, with the daughter of Robert II. "clearly devolved 
upon the Macdonalds of Sleat, who were descended of 
Hugh, brother of John the last Lord of the Isles," and at 
page 96 he says that " it is fully admitted that the family of 
Sleat are the undoubted representatives of the last Lord of 
the Isles ". Smibert calls Hugh of Sleat a " full brother " 
of John, Lord of the Isles, and says that "he left a line 
which indubitably had the clearest direct claims, as legiti- 
mate descendants, to the family honours and inheritance ". 
Gregory, who says that it is uncertain whether they are 
by the same mother as John, is more learned, and in a 
footnote, p. 41, writes : " I call these sons legitimate not- 
withstanding that Celestine is called 'filius naturalis' by 
Earl Alexander (charter in charter chest of Mackintosh 
1447), and 'frater carnalis' by Earl John (Reg. of Great 
Seal, vi., 116, 1463), and that Hugh is likewise called 'frater 
carnalis ' by Earl John (charter in Westfield Writs, in the 
possession of Alex. Dunbar, Esq. of Scrabster, 1470). They 
are, however, both called ' frater,' without any qualification, 
by Earl John (Reg. of Great Seal, vi., 116, xiii., 186). The 
history of Celestine and Hugh and their descendants, as 
given in the present work [Highlands and Isles,] sufficiently 
shows that they were considered legitimate, and that, conse- 
quently, the words ' naturalis ' and ' carnalis,' taken by them- 
selves, and without the adjunct ' bastardus,' do not neces- 
sarily imply bastardy. It is probable that they were used 
to designate the issue of those handfast, or left-handed 
marriages which appear to have been so common in the 
Highlands and Isles. Both naturalis and carnalis are 


occasionally applied to individuals known to be legiti- 
mate in the strictest sense of the term." 

Alexander of the Isles had also several daughters, one 
of whom 

4. Margaret, married John, twelth Earl of Sutherland, 
and another 

5. Florence, married Duncan Mackintosh, IX. of Mac- 
kintosh, with issue. 

He died at his Castle of Dingwall. on the 8th of May, 
1448, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 



Of the family of Macdonald, as strenuous an opponent of 
the King's party as ever his father had been. He began to 
rule at a critical period in the history of his house. The 
treasonable league which his father, Alexander, had formed 
with William, 8th Earl of Douglas, and the Earl of Craw- 
ford, has been already referred to, and, though they 
took no action upon it during the life of the last Lord, 
after his death they broke out into open rebellion. John 
of the Isles took an active part in the insurrection, collected 
a large force of the Islanders, seized the royal castles of 
Inverness, Urquhart, and Ruthven, and declared his indepen- 
dence of the Scottish Crown. He demolished the Castle 
of Ruthven to the ground. Urquhart Castle was placed 
under the command of his father-in-law, Sir James 
Livingstone, who on hearing of the insurrection of the 
Lord of the Isles left the Court and escaped to the High- 
lands ; while the stronghold of Inverness was carefully gar- 
risoned and supplied with a large quantity of military stores. 
It is asserted that the King himself was the cause of the 
marriage of the Lord of the Isles to the daughter of Sir 
James Livingstone, promising with her a grant of land which 
he never gave; and in the Auchinleck Chronicle the fact 
is recorded as a private grievance which, among others, 
urged the Island Chief into this rebellion. On this point 



Gregory supposes that he was too much occupied in 
securing himself against the great power and ambition 
of the Douglas party in the southern counties, now ren- 
dered more confident by the return of their chief from 
abroad, to be able to take prompt measures against the 
Earl of Ross ; at least, none such are recorded in the 
chronicles which have come down to us. But there can be 
no doubt that James contemplated proceeding to the 
North to chastise the rebels there ; for it was upon the 
refusal of Douglas to renounce the league, offensive 
and defensive, into which he had entered with the 
Earls of Ross and Crawford, that the king in a 
sudden fit of passion assassinated, with his own 
hand, that nobleman, whose inordinate ambition was con- 
sidered the chief cause of all these commotions. William, 
Earl of Douglas, being thus cut off in the height of his 
power, was succeeded by his brother, James, gth Earl, who, 
after repeated rebellions, was finally encountered and de- 
feated by the Earl of Angus, leader of the King's troops, 
at Arkinholme in Annandale. In this battle, Archibald, 
Earl of Moray, and Hugh, Earl of Ormond, brothers to 
the Earl of Douglas, were slain ; while the Earl himself, 
with his only remaining brother, Sir John Douglas of 
Balvany, made his escape into the West Highlands. Here 
he was received by the Earl of Ross, who still remained 
faithful to his engagements, having, it would appear, 
hitherto escaped, by reason of the remoteness and inacces- 
sibility of his territories, the vengeance which had fallen 
so heavily on his confederates, Douglas and Crawford. 
Ross immediately collected a fleet of one hundred galleys, 
with a force of five thousand men on board, and dispatched 
this expedition, under the command of his kinsman, 
Donald Ballach of Isla, to attack the^ coast of Ayrshire, 
with the intention, probably, of encouraging the Douglas 
party again to draw together, should such a course appear 
expedient. Owing to the able measures of defence adopted 
by the King, this enterprise met with little success. Donald 
commenced hostilities at Innerkip in Ayrshire ; but being 


unable to effect any object of importance, he proceeded to 
ravage the Cumrays and the Island of Arran. Not above 
twenty persons, men, women, and children, were slain by 
the Islanders, although plunder to a considerable amount 
including five or six hundred horses, ten thousand oxen 
and kine, and more than a thousand sheep and goats was 
carried off. The Castle of Brodick in Arran was stormed 
and levelled to the ground ; while one hundred bolls of 
meal, one hundred marts (cows), and one hundred marks 
of silver, were exacted as tribute from the Isle of Bute.* 
The expedition was concluded by an attack upon Lauder, 
Bishop of Argyle, or Lismore, * prelate who had made 
himself obnoxious by affixing his seal to the instrument 
of forfeiture of the Douglases, and who was now attacked 
by the fierce Admiral of the Isles, and, after the slaughter 
of the greater part of his attendants, forced to take refuge 
in a sanctuary, which seems scarcely to have protected him 
from the fury of his enemies.-f- 

The Earl of Douglas returned to England after the 
failure of the expedition under Donald Balloch ; and Ross, 
finding himself alone in rebellion, became alarmed for the 
consequences, and, by a submissive message, entreated the 
forgiveness of the King ; offering, as far as it was still left 
to him, to repair the wrongs he had inflicted. James at 
first refused to listen to the application ; but, after a time, 
consented to extend to the humbled chief a period of pro- 
bation, within which, if he should evince the reality of his 
repentance by some notable exploit, he was to be absolved 
from all the consequences of his rebellion, and reinstated 
in the Royal favour.} In 1457, the Earl of Ross was one 
of the Wardens of the Marches, an office of great trust 
and importance, but obviously intended to weaken his 
influence in the Highlands and Isles, by forcing him fre- 

* It would seem that the Castle of Rothesay was also besieged. Acts of Parlia- 
ment, ii. , 109. 

(Tytler's Scotland, iv., pp. 86-127. Auchinleck Chronicle, pp. 44, 51, 55. Acts 
of Parliament, ii., 190. 

$ Tytler's Scotland (1879 ed. ), vol. ii., p. 177. 

Rymer's Fcedera, xi., p. 397. 


quently to reside at a distance from the seat of his power ; 
and, as he was, at the same time, one of the nobles who 
guaranteed a truce with England,* it would seem that he 
had lost no time in effecting a reconciliation with the 
King. Previous to the siege of Roxburgh, at which [1460] 
James II. was unfortunately killed, the Earl of Ross joined 
the Royal Army with a body of three thousand of his 
vassals, well armed in their own peculiar fashion. To 
prove his loyalty, he offered, in case of an invasion of 
England, to precede the rest of the army, while in the 
enemy's country, by a thousand paces distance, so as to 
receive the first shock of the English. He was well re- 
ceived, and ordered to remain near the King's person ; but, 
as there was at this time no invasion of England, his 
courage and devotion, and that of his troops, were not put 
to the test proposed.f 

Hill Burton [434-5, History of Scotland, vol. ii.], quoting 
from Pitscottie, says that the Earl of Ross got such 
encouragement as made him believe that it was sound 
policy to help the King in his project, and so he went to 
the siege with " ane great army of men, all armed in High- 
land fashion, with halbershownes, bows, and axes ; and 
promised to the King, if he pleased to pass any farther 
into the bounds of England, that he and his company 
should pass ane large mile before the host, and take upon 
them the press and dint of the battle " ; and that he was 
found very serviceable " to spoil and herrie the country," 
an occupation to which the Lowland forces were now less 
accustomed than they used to be. 

Soon after the siege of Roxburgh, and the death of the 
King, a Parliament met in Edinburgh, which was attended 
by the Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, and other 
Highland chiefs. The Earl soon discovered that the new 
Government was not strong enough to keep him in sub- 
jection, and he renewed his league with the banished 
Douglases, with the view of pursuing his former schemes 

* Rymer's Foedera, xi. , p. 397. 

t Tytler's Scotland, iv., p. 176. Buchanan, b. xi. 


of personal aggrandisement. The Douglases were natur- 
ally anxious to secure the great power and influence of the 
Earl of Ross against the Government, and they soon suc- 
ceeded in inducing him to enter into a treasonable league 
with Edward IV. of England. By the advice of his 
principal vassals and kinsmen, on the iQth of October, 1461, 
Ross met in council at the Castle of Ardtornish, and 
granted a commission, as an independent prince, " to his 
trusty and well-beloved cousins," Ranald of the Isles, 
and Duncan, Archdean of the Isles, to confer with the 
deputies of the English King. These Commissioners met 
soon after at Westminster, and on the I3th of February, 
1462, concluded a treaty for the conquest of Scotland by 
Edward IV., with the assistance of the Earls of Ross and 
Douglas, both of whom were to receive stipulated sums of 
money, and, in case of success, large grants of lands for 
their aid in subjugating their native land to the English 

Referring to these negotiations, Hill Burton [vol. iii., p. 
3] says that on the 2d of August, 1461, "a commission is 
appointed by Edward IV. for peace ' with our beloved kins- 
man the King of Scots'; yet just two months earlier another 
had been issued for treating with ' our beloved kinsman, 
the Earl of Ross, and our choice and faithful Donald 
Balagh, or their ambassadors, commissioners, or messen- 
gers '. The refugee Earl of Douglas was a party to this 
negotiation. It was brought to a conclusion by an elaborate 
treaty dated February, 1462. By this document it was cove- 
nanted that the Lord of the Isles should become for all his 
territory the liegeman of King Edward and his heirs ; and 
that if Scotland should be conquered through the aid of the 
Lord of the Isles, he should be made Lord of the northern 
part of the Land to the Scots Water, or Firth of Forth ! 
while Douglas, should he give proper aid, was to be lord of 
all the district south of the Forth both districts to be held 
in strict feudal dependence on King Edward and his heirs. 
Meanwhile, and until he should reap this brilliant reward, 
the Lord of the Isles was to have ' for fees and wages ' 


yearly, in time of peace, a hundred merks, and in time of 
war two hundred pounds ; while his assistant, Donald, was 
to receive a retainer amounting to twenty per cent, of these 
allowances." Donald Balloch's son, John, was retained at 
half the sum stipulated for his father for carrying out his 
part of the treasonable programme. 

While the negotiations ending in this treaty were in pro- 
gress, the Earl of Ross raised the standard of rebellion in 
the North. Having assembled a great force, he placed them 
under the command of his bastard son, Angus Og, assisted 
by his distinguished and experienced relative, the veteran 
Donald Balloch. This rebellion, according to Tytler,* 
" was accompanied by all those circumstances of atrocity 
and sacrilege that distinguish the hostilities of these island 
princes. Ross proclaimed himself King of the Hebrides, 
whilst his son and Donald Balloch, having taken possession 
of the Castle of Inverness, invaded the county of Athole, 
published a proclamation that no one should dare to obey 
the officers of King James, commanded all taxes to be 
henceforth paid to Ross, and after a cruel and wasteful pro- 
gress, concluded the expedition by storming the Castle of 
Blair, dragging the Earl and Countess of Athole from the 
chapel and sanctuary of St Bridget to a distant prison in 
Isla. Thrice did Donald attempt, if we may believe the 
historian, to fire the holy pile which he had plundered 
thrice did the destructive element refuse its office, and a 
storm of thunder and lightning, in which the greater part 
of his war-galleys were sunk, and the rich booty with which 
they were loaded consigned to the deep, was universally 
ascribed to the wrath of heaven, which had armed the ele- 
ments against the abettor of sacrilege and murder. It is 
certain, at least, that this idea had fixed itself with all the 
strength of remorse and superstition in the mind of the bold 
and savage leader himself ; and such was the effect of the 
feeling, that he became moody and almost distracted. 
Commanding his principal leaders and soldiers to strip 
themselves to their shirt and drawers, and assuming himself 

* Vol. ii. (1879 edition), p. 192. 


the same ignominious garb, he collected the relics of his 
plunder, and proceeding with bare feet, and a dejected 
aspect, to the chapel which he had so lately stained with 
blood, he and his attendants performed penance before the 
altar. The Earl and Countess of Athole were immediately 
set free from their prison." The relief of Donald Dubh from 
captivity seems to have been the chief object of this expedi- 
tion, but Angus appears to have liberated his prisoners 
without attaining his object. 

During these turbulent proceedings Ross assumed royal 
prerogatives over the whole Sheriffdoms and Burghs of 
Inverness and Nairn, which at that time included all the 
northern counties. There are no means existing by 
which it can be ascertained how this civil broil was sup- 
pressed ; but it is known that the Earl of Ross was sum- 
moned before Parliament for treason in connection with it, 
that he failed to appear, and that the process of forfeiture 
against him was for a time suspended, though an army was 
actually in readiness to march against him. His submission, 
however, rendered this unnecessary, and although he did 
not receive an unconditional pardon, he was permitted to 
remain in undisturbed possession of his estates for twelve or 
thirteen years afterwards, until, at length, in 1475, the 
treaty between him and Edward IV. in 1462, came to light, 
when it was at once determined to proceed against him as 
an avowed traitor to the crown. He was summoned at his 
Castle of Dingwall to appear before the Parliament to be 
held in Edinburgh, in December, 1475, to answer^the various 
charges of treason brought against him, and, at the same 
time, a commission was granted in favour of Colin, Earl of 
Argyle, to prosecute a decree of forfeiture against him. He 
failed to appear on the appointed day, and sentence was 
pronounced upon him. He was declared a traitor, and his 
estates were forfeited to the Crown. A formidable arma- 
ment, under the command of the Earls of Crawford and 
Athole, comprehending both a fleet and a land force, was 
made ready to carry the sentence of Parliament into effect. 
These preparations induced him to sue for pardon through 


the medium of the Earl of Huntly. By means of a grant 
of lands in Knapdale to the Earl of Argyle he secured the 
influence of that powerful nobleman in his favour. The 
Queen and the States of Parliament were prevailed upon to 
intercede in his behalf, and appearing soon afterwards in 
person at Edinburgh, he, with much humility, and 
many expressions of repentance, surrendered himself un- 
conditionally to the Royal clemency, when the King, " with 
wonderful moderation," consented to pardon him ; and in a 
Parliament held on the 1st of July, 1476, he was restored to 
the forfeited estates of the Earldom of Ross, and the Lord- 
ship of the Isles. Immediately afterwards he made a 
voluntary and absolute surrender to the Crown of the 
Earldom of Ross, the lands of Kintyre and Knapdale, 
and all the Castles thereto belonging, as well as the 
Sheriffdoms of Inverness and Nairn ; whereupon he 
was in return created a Baron Banrent and Peer of 
Parliament by the title of Lord of the Isles. " The 
Earldom of Ross was now inalienably annexed to the 
Crown, and a great blow was struck at the power and 
grandeur of a family which had so repeatedly disturbed the 
tranquillity of Scotland." 

By the favour of the King, " the succession to the new 
title and the estates connected with it, was secured in favour 
of Angus and John, the bastard sons of the Lord of the 
Isles ; and Angus, the elder of them, was soon afterwards 
married to a daughter of the Earl of Argyle. This Angus 
was early accustomed to rebellion, having acted as 
lieutenant to his father in the great insurrection of 1461. 
Neither the favour now shown to him by the King, nor his 
alliance with the Earl of Argyll, were sufficient to keep the 
natural violence of his temper within bounds ; and circum- 
stances soon enabled him to establish an ascendancy over 
his father. The sacrifices made by the latter in 1476, when 
he gave up the Earldom of Ross, and the lands of Kintyre 
and Knapdale, were very unpopular among the chiefs 
descended of the family of the Isles, who further alleged 
that he had impaired his estate by improvident grants of 


land to the Macleans, Macleods, Macneils, and other tribes. 
Thus, the vassals of the Lordship of the Isles became divided 
into two factions one comprehending the clans last men- 
tioned, who adhered to the old lord, the other consisting 
of the various branches of the Clandonald who made 
common cause with the turbulent heir of the Lordship. 
In these circumstances Angus not only behaved with great 
violence to his father, but involved himself in various 
feuds, particularly with the Mackenzies."* 

The Sleat Seannachie, Hugh Macdonald, gives the fol- 
lowing version of the feuds and family quarrels which 
occurred between John, Lord of the Isles, and his son 
Angus Og. The father was " 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 to some and promoting 
others with lands and possessions ; by this he became pro- 
digal and very expensive. . . . 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 Ogg, 
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 management and authority. 
Many followers adhered to him. His father being at Isla, 
he went after him with a great party, forced him to change 
seven rooms to lodge in, and at last to take his bed, during 
the whole of the night, under an old boat. When he returned 
to his house in the morning he found his son sitting with a 
great crowd about him. MacFinnon rising up, desired 
Macdonald to sit down ; who answered that he would not 
sit till he would execute his intention, which was to curse 
his son. So leaving Isla with only six men, he went to 
the mainland and to Inverary, and having waited without 
till one of the Argyll gentlemen came forth in the morning, 
who, observing Macdonald, went in immediately and told 

* Gregory's Western Highlands and Isles, pp, 51-32- 



Argyll of the matter, who could scarcely believe him, saying 
if he was there he would certainly send some person to 
inform him before hand. With that he started up, and 
going out, finds Macdonald, and, having saluted him and 
brought him in, he said, I do not wonder at you coming 
here ; but I am surprised you did not warn me before your 
arrival, and that your retinue is so small. That is little, 
said Macdonald, to the revolutions of the times, and thou 
shalt be the better of my coming ; and so, after dinner, he 
bestowed on him the lands of Knapdale, Rilisleter, from 
the river Add to the Fox-burn in Kintyre, 400 merks lands, 
and desired Argyll to convey him to Stirling, where the 
king was at that time, and for his son's disobedience he 
would resign all his estates to the king. So they went 
to Stirling together, and from thence to Air, in company 
with the king, when John resigned all into his hands, 
excepting the barony of Kinloss in Murray, of Kinnaird 
in Buchan, and of Cairndonald in the West, which he re- 
tained to support his own grandeur during his lifetime. 
Angus Ogg Macdonald, his son, followed his former courses, 
came to Inverness, and demolished the castle. When his 
brother Austin saw how matters went on, and that John had 
resigned all to the king, he goes to Edinburgh, and takes his 
charters from the king for all his patrimony which his 
father and mother bestowed on him formerly, in favour of 
his heirs-male, legitimate or illegitimate ; which patrimony 
consisted of North Uist, the parish of Hough in South 
Uist, Canna, Benbicula, Slate, Trottenish, and Lochbroom- 
But Angus Ogg, his nephew, continuing his former pre- 
tensions, resolved not to surrender any of his father's lands 
to the king or to his father himself. The Earl of Athole 
was ordered with a party against him. He joined others 
in the north, who had the same injunctions from the king, 
viz., the Mackays, Mackenzies, the Brodies, some of the 
Erasers and Rosses. Angus Ogg came from Isla and 
Kintyre to the West, and raising some of his own name 
viz., Alexander Macdonald of the braes of Lochaber, John 
of Glengarry, the Laird of Knoydart, and some of the 


Islanders, he goes to Ross, where, meeting Athole and his 
party near Lagebread, he gave them a defeat, killing 517 
of their army. Mackay was made prisoner, Athole and 
Mackenzie made their escape. The Earl of Crawford 
afterwards was ordered by the king to go by sea, and 
Huntly, with a party, to go by land, to harass and dis- 
courage Angus Ogg's adherents ; but neither of them 
executed their orders. Argyll and Athole were sent to 
the Islanders, desiring them to hold of the king, and 
abandon Angus Ogg, and that the king would grant them 
the same rights they had formerly from Macdonald. This 
offer was accepted by several. But when the Macdonalds 
and heads of their families, saw that their chief and family 
was to be sunk, they began to look up to Angus Ogg, the 
young lord. About this time Austin, his uncle died, and 
was buried in Sand, North Uist." * 

Skene corroborates the family historian, and informs us 
that subsequent to the resignation of the Earldom of Ross, 
and after the late Earl was created a Peer of Parliament 
by the title of Lord of the Isles, the Earl of Athole was 
despatched to the north to reinstate Ross in his former 
possessions, now re-granted to him by the king, where he 
was joined by the Mackenzies, Mackays, Erasers, Rosses, 
and others ; but being met by Angus Og at a place called 
Lag-a-bhraid, the Earl of Athole was defeated with great 
slaughter, and it was with great difficulty that he managed 
to make his escape. Two expeditions were afterwards sent 
north the first under the Earl of Crawford by sea, with 
another body under the Earl of Huntly by land ; the second 
under the Earls of Argyll and Athole, accompanied by 
the Lord of the Isles in person. But these expeditions 
proved unsuccessful against Angus Og. Argyll, however, 
managed to persuade several families of the Isles to join 
him ; but failing in the object of their mission, the two 
Earls soon returned. The Lord of the Isles, however, pro- 
ceeded south, through the Sound of Mull, accompanied by 
the Macleans, Macleods, Macneils, and others, and again 

* Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, 315-316. 


encountered his rebellious son in a bay on the south side 
of Ardnamurchan, near Tobermory, where a naval engage- 
ment immediately took place between them, resulting in 
the complete overthrow of the father and the dispersion 
of his fleet. By this victory, at " the battle of the Bloody 
Bay," Angus was completely established in full possession 
of the powers and extensive territories of his clan. 

There " was one called Edmond More Obrian along with 
Ranald Bain (Laird of Muidort's eldest son), who thrust 
the blade of an oar in below the stern-post of Macleod's 
galley, between it and the rudder, which prevented the 
galley from being steered. The galley of the heir of 
Torquil of the Lewis, with all his men, was taken and 
and himself mortally wounded with two arrows, whereof 
he died soon after at Dunvegan. . . . After this con- 
flict, the Earl of Athole, being provided with boats by 
Argyll, crossed over privately to Isla, where Angus Ogg's 
lady, daughter of Argyll, was, and apprehended Donald 
Dhu, or ' the Black,' a child of three years of age, and 
committed him a prisoner to Inch Chonuil, so called from 
the builder, Conuil, son of the first Dougall of Lorn, where 
he remained in custody until his hair got grey. Yet Angus 
Ogg, Donald Du's father, was still advised by the Earl of 
Angus and Hamilton to hold out and maintain his rights. 
After this, John of the Isles gave up to the king all these 
lands which he formerly held back for the support of his 
grandeur. ... If we search antiquaries, we will find 
few names in Scotland that mortified more lands to the 
Church than the Macdonalds did. However, I cannot 
deny but his father's curse seems to have lighted on this 
man. He took a journey south, where he killed many of 
the Macalisters in Arran, and also of his own name, for 
seizing and intromitting with some of his lands without his 
consent. Returning through Argyle and Lochaber, he 
came to Inverness. Mackenzie was like to be killed, or at 
least banished, by Macdonald, because he was always 
against him, contriving all the mischiefs he could, least, 
upon recovering his own, he would deprive Mackenzie of 


these lands which he held of the king. There was another 
circumstance which shortened Macdonald's days viz., there 
was a lady of the name of Macleod, daughter of Rory, 
surnamed the Black, who was tutor to the lawful heir of 
the Lewis, married to the Laird of Muidort. The tutor, 
her father, being resolved not to acknowledge, by any 
means, the true heir of the Lewis, and engross the whole 
to himself, was displaced by Macdonald, and the rightful 
heir put in possession. This lady having a spite at Mac- 
donald for dispossessing her father, together with John 
Mackenzie, contrived his death in the following manner 
There was an Irish harper of the name of Art O'Carby, of 
the county of Monaghan in Ireland, who was often at 
Macdonald's, and falling in love with Mackenzie's daughter, 
became almost mad in his amours. Mackenzie seeing him 
in that mood, promised him his daughter, provided he 
would put Macdonald to death, and made him swear never 
to reveal the secret. This fellow, being afterwards in his 
cups, and playing upon his harp, used to sing the following 
verse, composed by himself in the Irish language : 

T' anain do dhia a mharcaich an eich bhall-a-bhric, 

Gu'm bheil t' anam an cunnart ma tha puinnsean an Galltit ; 

meaning, that the rider of the dapple horse was in danger 
of his life (for Macdonald always rode such a one), if there 
was poison in his long knife, which he called Gallfit. As 
Macdonald went to bed one night, there was none in the 
room along with him but John Cameron, brother to Ewan, 
laird of Locheill, and Macmurrich, the poet. This John 
had some rights from Macdonald of the lands of Mammore 
in Lochaber, written the day before, but not signed by 
Macdonald. The harper rose in the night-time, when he 
perceived Macdonald was asleep, and cut his throat, for 
which he was apprehended, but never confessed that he 
was employed by anybody so to do, although there were 
several jewels found upon him, which were well known to 
have belonged formerly to Mackenzie and the lady of 
Muidort. The harper was drawn after horses till his limbs 


were torn asunder. After the death of Angus, the Islanders 
and the rest of the Highlanders were let loose, and began 
to shed one another's blood. Although Angus kept them 
in obedience while he was sole lord over them, yet, upon 
his resignation of his rights to the king, all families, his 
own as well as others, gave themselves up to all sorts of 
cruelties, which continued for a long time thereafter." 

Gregory substantially corroborates the family historian 
and says that the rage of Angus knew no bounds when 
he discovered by whom his child, Donald Dubh, had been 
carried away ; that this was the real cause of the expedition 
to Athole and the mainland, and of the sacrilegious act of 
violating the Chapel of St. Bridget. After describing the 
assassination of Angus at Inverness, Gregory concludes : 
Thus fell Angus, the son and heir of John, last Lord of the 
Isles. With all his violence, which appears to have verged 
upon insanity, he was a favourite with those of his own 
name, who, perhaps, flattered themselves that he was 
destined to regain all that had been lost by his father. 

It has been said by some that Angus Og was a legiti- 
mate son of John, Earl of Ross, but all the best authorities 
are agreed that he was not. Gregory calls him a bastard. 
Smibert, in his "Clans of the Highlands of Scotland," 
referring to the assertions of " ancient private annalists," 
and especially to Hugh Macdonald, the Sleat historian, 
says that some of these assert that John, last Lord of the 
Isles, who had no children by his wife, Elizabeth Livingston, 
had yet, " a natural son begotten of Macduffie, Colonsay's 
daughter, and Angus Og, his legitimate son, by the Earl of 
Angus's daughter." Regarding this assertion he says 
" No mention of this Angus marriage occurs in any one 
public document relating to the Lords of the Isles, or to 
the Douglases, then Earls of Angus. On the other hand, 
the acknowledged wife of John of the Isles, Elizabeth 
Livingston, was certainly alive in 1475, at which date he, 
among other charges, is accused of making ' his bastard 
son ' a lieutenant to him in insurrectionary convocations of 
the lieges ; and Angus could therefore come of no second 


marriage. He indubitably is the same party still more 
distinctly named in subsequent Parliamentary records as 
' Angus of the Isles, bastard son to umquhile John of the 
Isles '. The attribution of noble and legitimate birth to 
Angus took its origin, without doubt, in the circumstance 
of John's want of children by marriage having raised his 
natural son to a high degree of power in the clan, which 
the active character of Angus well fitted him to use as he 
willed. That power was still further established by his 
being named in 1476 as principal heir of entail to his 
father, when the latter submitted to the Crown and ob- 
tained a seat in Parliament ; but in that very deed of entail 
his illegitimacy is stated once more with equal clearness, 
and he was only to succeed failing other heirs of the body 
of John. However, in the absence of any such legal issue, 
Angus wielded all the authority of an heir-apparent, and 
appears, by his violence, to have involved the tribe in 
perpetual disturbance." The father and son seem to have 
become quite reconciled during the latter years of the life 
of Angus, who was killed about 1485, at Inverness, while 
his father was yet alive. 

A few years after the Lord of the Isles is again in 
opposition to the Government ; enters into a treaty with 
Edward IV. of England, then preparing another expedition 
against the Scots ; and for the remainder of the reign of 
James III. the vassals of the Island Chief are found in a 
state of open resistance to the Crown. 

Angus Og having, according to most authorities, died 
without legitimate issue, and John, Lord of the Isles, being 
now advanced in years, his nephew, Alexander of Lochalsh, 
son of Celestine, his Lordship's brother, held, according to 
Gregory and other good authorities, the rank of heir to the 
Lordship of the Isles ; while others maintain that Alex- 
ander merely commanded the clan as guardian to Angus 
Og's youthful son, Donald Dubh, still a prisoner at Inch- 
con nell ; but the latter view, is inconsistent with several 
known facts, one of which is an existing charter, dated in 
1492, in favour of John Maclean of Lochbuy, of the office 


of Bailliary of the south half of the Island of Tiree, granted 
by John, Lord of the Isles, and Alexander de Insulis, Lord 
of Lochalsh, an office which could not have been given by 
Alexander of Lochalsh in any other capacity than as his 
father's heir to the Lordship of the Isles, for it formed no 
part of his own patrimony of Lochalsh. In 1488, Alexander 
invaded the mainland at the head of his vassals with the 
view of wresting the ancient possessions of the Earldom 
of Ross from those in possession of them by charters 
from the Crown especially the Mackenzies apparently 
with the full consent and approval of his aged uncle of the 
Isles. Gregory describes the origin and result of this raid 
as follows : " As the districts of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and 
Lochbroom, which Alexander inherited from his father, and 
which he now held as a Crown fief, lay in the Earldom of 
Ross, his influence there was greater than that of Angus of 
the Isles had been. Yet the only Crown vassal of the 
Earldom who joined him was Hugh Rose, younger of 
Kilravock, whose father at this time was keeper, under the 
Earl of Huntly, of the Castle of Ardmanach, in Ross. In 
the year 1491,* a large body of Western Highlanders, 
composed of the Clanranald of Garmoran, the Clanranald 
of Lochaber, and the Clanchameron, under Alexander of 
Lochalsh, advanced from Lochaber into Badenoch, where 
they were joined by the Clanchattan. The latter tribe, 
which possessed lands both under the Lord of the Isles and 
the Earl of Huntly, was led by Farquhar Mackintosh, the 
son and heir of the captain of the Clanchattan. From 
Badenoch the confederates marched to Inverness, where 
Farquhar Mackintosh stormed and took the royal castle, in 
which he established a garrison ; and where the forces of 
the Highlanders were probably increased by the arrival of 
the young Baron of Kilravock and his followers. Proceeding 
to the north-east, the fertile lands belonging to Sir Alex. 
Urquhart, the Sheriff of Cromarty, were plundered, and 
a vast booty carried off by the Islanders and their associates. 

* There is some confusion here as to the dates, for there is now no doubt that 
the battle of Park was fought as early as 1488. 


It is probable that at this time Lochalsh had divided his 
force into two parts, one being sent home with the booty 
already acquired, whilst with the other he proceeded to 
Strathconan, for the purpose of ravaging the lands of the 
Mackenzies. The latter clan, under their chief, Kenneth, 
having assembled their forces, surprised and routed the 
invaders, who had encamped near the river a place 
called Park, whence the conflict has received the name of 
Blairnepark. Alexander of Lochalsh was wounded, and, as 
some say, taken prisoner in this battle, and his followers were 
expelled from Ross. Meanwhile, the origin of these commo- 
tions did not escape the investigation of the Government ; and 
the result was the final forfeiture of the Lordship of the 
Isles, and its annexation to the Crown. It does not appear, 
from the documents which we posses, how far the Lord of 
the Isles was himself implicated in the rebellious proceedings 
of his nephew. It may be that his inability to keep the 
wild tribes of the West Highlands and Isles in proper 
subjection was his chief crime, and that the object of the 
Government in proceeding to his forfeiture was, by breaking 
up the confederacy of the Islanders, to strengthen indirectly 
the royal authority in these remote districts. The tenor of 
all the proceedings of James IV., connected with the final 
forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles, leads to this conclu- 

We extract the following details of the origin, progress, 
and result of this Macdonald raid to the County of Ross, 
from a recent volume by the author of this work.-f- Kenneth 
Mackenzie known as " Coinneach a Bhlair," VII. of Kintail, 
married Margaret, daughter of John, last Lord of the Isles, 
hoping that by this alliance the long continued family feud 
might be healed up. Some time after Alexander of Loch- 
alsh, Margaret's cousin, came to Ross, and, feeling more 
secure in consequence of this matrimonial alliance between 
the family of Mackenzie and his own, took possession of 

Highlands and Isles, pp, 55-58. 

t History of the Clan Mackenzie ; with Genealogies of the Principal Families of 
the Name : A. & W. Mackenzie, Inverness, 1879. 



Balcony House and the adjacent lands, where, at the fol- 
lowing Christmas, he provided a great feast for his old 
dependants, inviting to it most of the more powerful chiefs 
and barons north of the Spey, and, among others, his cousin's 
lord, Kenneth Mackenzie. The house of Balcony* was at 
the time very much out of repair, so that he could not con- 
veniently lodge all his distinguished guests within it. He had 
to arrange some of them in the outhouses as best he could. 
Kenneth did not arrive until Christmas eve, accompained 
by a train of able-bodied men, numbering forty, according 
to the custom of the times, but without his lady which 
gave great umbrage to Macdonald. One of the Macleans of 
Duart had the chief charge of the arrangements in the house. 
Some days previously he had a disagreement with Kenneth 
at some games, and on his arrival, Maclean, who had the 
disposal of the guests, told the heir of Kintail that, taking 
advantage of his connection with the family, they had taken 
the liberty of providing him with lodgings in the kiln. Ken- 
neth, who was very powerful, considered himself thus in- 
sulted, more especially as he imagined the slight proceeded 
from Maclean's ill-will against him, and he instantly struck 
Maclean a blow on the ear, which threw him to the ground. 
The servants in the house viewed this as a direct insult 
to their Chief, Macdonald, and at once took to arms. 
Kenneth, though sufficiently bold, soon perceived that he 
had no chance to fight successfully, or even to beat a re- 
treat, and, noticing several boats lying on the shore, which 
had been provided for the transport of the guests, he took 
as many of them as he required, sank the rest, and passed 
with his followers to the opposite shore, where he remained 
during the night. He took up his quarters in the house of a 
tenant "who haid no syrnam but a patronimick " ; and Ken- 
neth, boiling with passion, was sorely affronted at the per- 
sonal insult offered him, and at being from his own house 
on Christmas, staying with a stranger, and off his own pro- 

* Ardintoul MS. places this feast at Balnagown House. "In 1455, Beatrice, 
Countess of Ross, submitted to King James II., who then granted her the Barony 
of Balknie." Orig. Par. Scot., vol ii., p. 480. 


pcrty. He, in these circumstances, requested his host to 
adopt the name of Mackenzie, promising him protection in 
future, that he might thus be able to say he slept under the 
roof of one of his own name. His host at once consented, 
and his posterity were ever after known as Mackenzies. 
Next morning (Christmas day) Kenneth went to the hill 
above Chanonry, and sent word to the Bishop, who was at 
the time enjoying his Christmas with others of his clergy, 
that he desired to speak to him. The Bishop, knowing his 
man's temper, and the turbulent state of the times, thought 
it prudent to meet the young chieftain, though he considered 
it very strange to receive such a message, on such a day, 
from such a quarter, and wondered what could be the object 
of his visitor. He soon found that Mackenzie simply wanted 
a feu of a small piece of land on which was situated the 
house in which he lodged the previous night, and stated his 
reason to be, " lest Macdonald should brag that he had 
forced him on Christmas eve to lodge at another man's dis- 
cretion and not on his own heritage ". The Bishop, willing 
to oblige him, probably afraid to do otherwise, and perceiv- 
ing him in such a rage, at once sent for his clerk, and there 
and then granted him a charter of the township of Culli- 
cudden ; whereupon Kenneth returned to the place, and re- 
mained in it all day, lording over it as his own property. 
The place was kept by him and his successors until Colin 
acquired more of the Bishop's lands in the neighbourhood, 
and afterwards exchanged the whole with the Sheriff of 
Cromarty for lands in Strathpeffer. 

Next, day Kenneth started for Kinellan, where the old 
chief, Alexander, resided, and related what had taken place. 
His father was much grieved, for he well knew that the 
smallest difference between the families would revive their 
old grievances, and, although there was less danger since 
Macdonald's interest in Ross was less than in the past, 
yet he knew the clan to be a powerful one still more so 
than his own in their number of able-bodied warriors; but 
these considerations, strongly impressed upon the son by 
the experienced and aged father, only added fuel to the fire 


in Kenneth's bosom, which was already fiercely burning to 
revenge the insult offered him by Macdonald's servants. 
His natural impetuosity could ill brook any such insult, 
and he considered himself wronged so much that he felt 
it his duty personally to retaliate, and revenge it. While 
this was the state of his mind, matters were suddenly 
brought to a crisis by the arrival, on the fourth day, of a 
messenger from Macdonald with a summons requesting 
Alexander and Kenneth to remove from Kinellan, with all 
their family, within twenty-four hours, allowing only that 
the young Lady Margaret, his own cousin, might remain 
until she had more leisure to remove, and threatening war 
to the knife in case of non-compliance. Kenneth's rage 
can easily be imagined, and without consulting his father 
or waiting for his counsel, he requested the messenger to 
tell Macdonald that his father would remain where he was 
in spite of him and all his power. For himself he was to 
receive no rules for his staying or going, but he would be 
sure enough to hear of him wherever he was ; and as for his 
(Macdonald's) cousin, Lady Margaret, since he had no desire 
to keep further peace with his family, he would no longer 
keep his relative. Such was the defiant message sent to young 
Macdonald, and immediately after receipt thereof Kenneth 
despatched Lady Margaret in the most ignominious manner 
to Balnagown. The lady was blind of an eye, and to insult 
her cousin to the highest pitch he sent her mounted on a 
one-eyed horse, accompanied by a one-eyed servant, fol- 
lowed by a one-eyed dog. She was in a delicate state of 
health, and this inhumanity grieved her so much that she 
never wholly recovered. Her son, the only issue of the mar- 
riage, was named Kenneth, and to distinguish him from 
his father, was called Coinneach Og, or Kenneth the younger. 
Macdonald was naturally very much exasperated by 
Kenneth's defiant answer to himself, and the repeated 
insults heaped upon his relative, and, through her, upon all 
her family. He thereupon dispatched his great steward, 
Maclean, to collect his followers in the Isles, as also to 
advise and request the aid of his nearest relations on the 


mainland the Macdonalds of Moidart, and Clan Ian of 
Ardnamurchan. In a short time they mustered a force 
between them of about fifteen hundred men some say 
three thousand and arranged with Macdonald to meet him 
at Contin. They assumed that Alexander Mackenzie, now 
so old, would not have gone to Kintail, but would stay in 
Ross, judging that the Macdonalds so recently come under 
obligations to their king to keep the peace, would not 
venture to collect their forces and invade the low country. 
But Kenneth, foreseeing danger from the rebellious temper 
of Macdonald, went to Kintail at the commencement of 
Macdonald's preparations, and placed a strong garrison, with 
sufficient provisions, in Islandonain Castle ; and the cattle 
and other goods in the district he ordered to be driven and 
taken to the most remote hills and secret places. He took 
all the remaining able-bodied men along with him, and on 
his way back to Kinellan he was joined by his dependants 
in Strathconan, Strathgarve, and other glens in the Braes 
of Ross, all fully determined to defend Kenneth and his 
aged father at the cost of their lives, small as their united 
forces were in comparison with that against which they 
would soon have to contend. 

Macdonald had meanwhile collected his friends, and at 
the head of a large body of Western Highlanders, advanced 
through Lochaber into Badenoch, where he was joined by 
the Clan Chattan ; marched to Inverness, where they were 
joined by the young Laird of Kilravock and some of Lovat's 
people ; reduced the Castle (then a Royal fortress), placed a 
garrison in it, and proceeded to the north-east, and plundered 
the lands of Sir Alexander Urquhart, Sheriff of Cromarty. 
They next marched westward to the district of Strathconan, 
ravaged the lands of the Mackenzies as they proceeded, and 
put the inhabitants and more immediate retainers of the 
family to the sword resolutely determined to punish Mac- 
kenzie for his ill-treatment of Lady Margaret, and recover 
possession of that part of the Earldom of Ross so long pos- 
sessed by the Earls of that name, but now the property of 
Mackenzie by Royal charters from the king. Macdonald 


wasted Strathconan, and arrived at Contin on Sunday 
morning, where he found the people in great terror and 
confusion ; and, the able-bodied men having already joined 
Mackenzie, the aged, the women, and children took refuge 
in the church, thinking themselves secure within its pre- 
cincts from an enemy professing Christianity. They soon, 
to their horror, found themselves mistaken. Macdonald, 
having little or no scruples on the score of religion, ordered 
the doors to be closed and guarded, and then set fire to 
the building. The priest, helpless and aged men, women 
and children, were all burnt to ashes. 

Some of those who were fortunate enough not to be 
in the church immediately started for Kinellan, and in- 
formed Mackenzie of the hideous and cruel conduct of 
the advancing enemy. Alexander, sorely grieved in his 
old age at the cruel destruction of his people, expressed his 
gratitude that the enemy, whom he had hitherto considered 
too numerous to contend with successfully, had now engaged 
God against them, by their impious and execrable conduct. 
Contin was not far from Kinellan, and Macdonald, thinking 
that Mackenzie would not remain at the latter place with 
such a comparatively small force, ordered Gillespic to 
draw up his followers to the large moor known as " Blar na 
Pairc," that he might review them, and send out a detach- 
ment to pursue the enemy. Kenneth Mackenzie, who 
commanded, posted his men in a strong position on 
ground where he thought he could defend himself against 
a superior force, and conveniently situated to attack the 
enemy if a favourable opportunity occurred. His followers 
only amounted to six hundred, while his opponent had at 
least nearly three times that number ; but he had the ad- 
vantage in another respect, inasmuch as he had sufficient 
provisions for a much longer period than Macdonald could 
possibly procure for his larger force, the country people 
having driven their cattle and all provender that might be 
of service to the enemy out of his reach. About mid-day 
the Islesmen were drawn up on the moor, about a quarter 
of a mile distant from the position occupied by the Mac- 


kenzies, their forces only separated from each other by a 
peat moss, full of deep pits and deceitful bogs. Kenneth, 
fearing a siege, shortly before this prevailed upon his aged 
father to retire to the Raven's Rock, above Strathpeffer, to 
which place, strong and easily defended, he resolved to 
follow him in case he was compelled to retreat before the 
numerically superior host of his enemy. This the venerable 
Alexander did, recommending his son to the assistance and 
protection of a Higher Power, at the same time assuring 
him of success, notwithstanding the superior forces of his 
adversary. By the nature of the ground, Kenneth perceived 
that Macdonald could not bring all his forces to the attack 
at once. He courageously determined to maintain his 
ground, and adopted a stratagem which he correctly 
calculated would mislead his opponent, and place him at a 
serious disadvantage. He acquainted his brother Duncan 
with his resolution and plans, and sent him off, before the 
struggle commenced, with a body of archers to be placed 
in ambush, while he determined to cross the peat bog him- 
self and attack Macdonald in front with the main body, 
intending to retreat as soon as his adversary returned the 
attack, and thus entice the Islesmen to pursue him. He 
informed Duncan of his intention to retreat, and com- 
manded him to be in readiness with the close body of archers 
under his command to fall down and charge the enemy 
whenever they got fairly into the moss, and entangled 
among its pits and bogs. Having made all these prelimin- 
ary arrangements, he boldly marched to meet the foe, lead- 
ing his resolute band in the direction of the intervening 
moss. Macdonald seeing him, in derision called upon 
Gillespic to see " Mackenzie's impudent madness, daring 
thus to face him at such disadvantage ". Gillespic being a 
more experienced general than the youthful but bold Alex- 
ander said " that such extraordinary boldness should be met 
by more extraordinary wariness in us, lest we fall into unex- 
pected inconvenience ". Macdonald, in a furious rage, re- 
plied to this wise counsel, " Go you also and join with them, 
and it will not need our care, nor move the least fear in my 


followers ; both of you will not be a breakfast to me and 
mine ". Meanwhile, Mackenzie advanced a little beyond 
the moss, avoiding, from his intimate knowledge of it, all 
the dangerous pits and bogs, when Maclean of Lochbuy, 
who led the van of the enemy's army, advanced and 
charged him with great fury. Mackenzie, according to his 
pre-arranged plan, at once retreated, but so masterly that 
in so doing he inflicted " as much damage upon the enemy 
as he received ". The Islesmen soon got entangled in the 
moss, and Duncan observing this, rushed forth from his 
ambush and furiously attacked them in flank and rear, 
slaughtering most of those who entered the bog. He then 
turned round upon the main body, who were taken unpre- 
pared. Kenneth seeing this, charged with his main body, 
who were all well instructed in their chief's design, and 
before the enemy were able to form in order of battle, he 
fell on their right flank with such impetuosity, and did such 
execution amongst them, that they were compelled to fall 
back in confusion before the splendid onset of the small 
force which they had so recently sneered at and despised. 
Gillespic, stung at Alexander's taunt before the engage- 
ment commenced, to prove to him that " though he was 
wary in council, he was not fearful in action," sought out 
Mackenzie, that he might engage him in single combat, and 
followed by some of his bravest followers, he, with signal 
valour, did great execution among his opponents as he was 
approaching Kenneth, who was in the hottest of the fight ; 
and who, seeing Gillespic coming in his direction, advanced 
to meet him, killing, wounding, or scattering any of the 
enemy that came between them. He made a signal to 
Gillespic to advance and meet him in single combat ; but 
finding him hesitating, Kenneth, who far exceeded him in 
strength, while he equalled him in courage, would " brook 
no tedious debate, but pressing on with fearful eagerness, he 
at one blow cut off Gillespic's arm and passed very far into 
his body, so that he fell down dead." 

Next morning, Kenneth, fearing that those few who 
escaped might rally among the hills, and commit cruelties 


and robberies on those of his people who might lie in their 
way, marched to Strathconan, where he found, as he ex- 
pected? that about three hundred of the enemy had rallied 
and were destroying everything which they had passed 
over in their eastward march ; as soon, however, as they 
noticed him in pursuit they instantly took to their heels, 
but they were all killed or taken prisoners. Kenneth now 
returned to Kinellan, conveying Alexander, whom he had 
taken prisoner, in triumph. His aged father, Alastair lon- 
raic, had now returned from the Raven's Rock, and warmly 
embraced his valiant son congratulated him upon his 
splendid victory over such a numerically superior force ; 
but, shrewdly, and with some complaining emphasis, told 
his son that " he feared they made two days' work of one," 
since, by sparing Macdonald, whom he had also taken 
prisoner, and his apparent heir, Alexander of Lochalsh, 
they preserved the lives of those who might yet give them 
trouble. But Kenneth, though a lion in the field, could not, 
from any such prudential consideration, be induced to com- 
mit such a cowardly and inhuman act as was here inferred. 
He, however, had no great faith in his more immediate fol- 
lowers if an opportunity occurred to them, and he sent Mac- 
donald, under strong guard, to Lord Lovat, to be kept by 
him in safety until he should advise him how to dispose of 
him. He kept Alexander of Lochalsh with himself, but 
contrary to all the expectations of their friends, he, on the 
intercession of old Macdonald, released them both within 
six months, having first bound them by oath and honour 
never to molest him or his, and never again to claim any 
right to the Earldom of Ross, which Alexander of the Isles 
had formerly so fully resigned to the king.* 

Many of the Macdonalds and their followers who escaped 
from the field of battle perished in the river Conon. Fly- 
ing from the close pursuit of the victorious Mackenzies, they 
took the river, which in some parts was very deep, wherever 
they came up to it, and were drowned. Rushing to cross 

* This account of the Battle of Park is given mainly on the authority of the 
Earl of Cromartie's MS. History of the Mackenzies. 



at Moy, they met an old woman still smarting under 
the insults and spoliation inflicted on her and her neigh- 
bours by the Macdonalds on their way north and asked 
her, " Where was the best ford on the river ? " " Oh ! 
Ghaolaich, is aon ath an abhuinn ; ged tha i dubh cha'n eil 
i domhainn " (Oh ! dear, answered she, it is all one ford to- 
gether ; though it looks black it is not at all deep). In 
their pitiful plight, and on the strength of this misleading 
information, they rushed into the water in hundreds, and 
were immediately carried away by the stream, many of them 
clutching at the shrubs and bushes which overhung the 
banks of the river, and crying pitifully for assistance. This 
amazon and her lady friends had meanwhile procured their 
sickles, and now exerted themselves in cutting away the 
bushes on which the wretched Macdonalds hung with a 
death grasp, the old woman exclaiming, in each case, as she 
applied her sickle, " As you have taken so much already 
which did not belong to you, my friend, you can take that 
into the bargain ". This instrument of the old lady's revenge 
has been for many generations, and still is, by very old 
people in the district, called " Cailleach na Maigh," or the 
old wife of Moy.* 

The victors then proceeded to ravage the lands of 
Ardmeanach and those belonging to William Munro of 
Foulis the former because the young Baron of Kilravock, 
whose father was governor of that district, had assisted the 
other party ; the latter probably because Munro, who joined 
neither party, was suspected secretly of favouring Lochalsh. 
So many excesses were committed at this time by the 
Mackenzies that the Earl of Huntly, Lieutenant of the North, 
was compelled, notwithstanding their services in repelling 
the invasion of the Macdonalds, to act against them as 
oppressors of the lieges.f 

This insurrection cost the Macdonalds the Lordship of 
the Isles, as others had previously cost them the Earldom 
of Ross. In a Parliament held in Edinburgh in 1493, the 

* Mackenzie's History of the Mackenzies. 

t Gregory, p. 57. Kilravock Writs, p. 170, and Acts of Council. 


possessions of the Lord of the Isles were declared to be 
forfeited to the Crown. In the following January the aged 
earl appeared before King James IV., and made a volun- 
tary surrender of everything, after which he remained for 
several years in the king's household as a court pensioner. 
By Act of the Lords of Council in 1492, Alexander Urqu- 
hart, Sheriff of Cromarty, obtained restitution for himself 
and his tenants for the depredations committed by Mac- 
donald and his followers.* 

From the final forfeiture of the Lord of the Isles in 1493, 
to the death of John in 1498, the country was in a constant 
state of insurrection, though many of the leading heads of 
families made their submission to the Crown. Alexander 
of Lochalsh lost no opportunity of asserting his claim to 
the Earldom of Ross and the Lordship of the Isles. It 
was, however, determined by the Government that no single 
family should ever again be permitted to acquire the same 
preponderance in the west. At first the steps taken to 
secure the submission of the Islanders were not charac- 
terised by any great severity. In 1493, James IV. pro- 
ceeded in person to receive the submission and homage 
of the leading vassals of the Lordship. In this he acted 
wisely, as the result proved, for even those haughty barons 
had a certain respect for royalty, and proved themselves 
willing to grant to their king in person what was scarcely 
possible he could ever have forced from them by the sword. 
Among the first who submitted to his clemency were Alex- 
ander de Insulis of Lochalsh, John de Insulis of Isla, John 
Maclean of Lochbuy, and Duncan Mackintosh of that ilk, 
formerly vassals of the forfeited Lord of the Isles. In 
return for their submission they received royal charters of 
all or nearly all the lands which they previously held under 
the Island Chief, and thus became freeholders, independent 
of any superior but the Crown. Alexander of Lochalsh 
and John of Isla received the honour of knighthood, while 

* According to the Kilravock papers, p. i6a, the spoil amounted to "600 cows 
and oxen, each worth 135 4d ; 80 horses, each worth 265 8d ; icoo sheep, each 
worth 25 ; 200 swine, each worth 35 ; with plenishing to the value of ^300 ; and 
also 500 bolls of victual and ,300 of the mails of the Sheriffs lands." 


the former, as presumptive heir to the Lordship of the Isles 
previous to the forfeiture of his uncle, received a promise 
from the king to secure all the free tenants of the Isles in 
their holdings, an engagement which at first seems to have 
been strictly adhered to. The promise is distinctly men- 
tioned in several charters in the year 1498.* Considering 
all the circumstances it must be allowed that the king 
acted with great leniency towards the Island Chiefs, 
especially to Alexander of Lochalsh, the leading spirit in 
all the recent troubles ; particularly in the outbreak which 
ended in the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles. 

His Majesty soon returned to his lowland court ; but some 
of the more powerful vassals still holding out, he decided that 
another expedition should be sent, accompanied by such a 
display of military force as should effectually secure their 
submission, and command their obedience. So, in the month 
of April, 1494, we find the king again in the West, making 
preparations for a third visit by preparing and garrisoning 
the Castle of Tarbet, one of the most important strongholds 
in the West Highlands. In July following he appears with a 
powerful force, and proceeds to seize the castle of Dunaverty 
in South Kintyre, where he places a strong garrison, supplied 
like the one at Tarbet, with powerful artillery and experi- 
enced gunners. The most complete account of this period 
is that by Gregory, and, whether acknowledged or not, it 
has been freely taken advantage of by all our modern 
historians when treating of this obscure portion of the 
History of the Highlands. 

It will be recollected, he says, that the districts of Kintyre 
and Knapdale were, in 1476, expressly resigned by the Lord 
of the Isles, along with the Earldom of Ross, to the Crown. 
A great portion of Kintyre had been held, under the Lord of 
the Isles, by Sir Donald de Insulis, surnamed Balloch, of 
Isla, prior to this resignation, which deprived Sir Donald 
and his family of a very valuable possession. Whether Sir 
John of Isla, the grandson and representative of Sir Donald, 

* Reg. of Great Seal, riii., 336, 337. Gregory, p. 88. 


had, at the time he received knighthood, on the first visit of 
James IV. to the Isles, any hopes of the restoration of 
Kintyre, cannot now be ascertained. But it is certain that 
he was deeply offended at the step now taken, of placing a 
garrison in the castle of Dunaverty ; and he secretly collected 
his followers, determined to take the first opportunity of 
expelling the royal garrison, and taking possession of the 
district of Kintyre. This opportunity was soon afforded 
him. The king, not expecting opposition from this quarter, 
was preparing to quit Kintyre by sea, with his personal 
attendants the bulk of his followers having previously been 
sent away on some other expedition when the Chief of 
Isla, finding everything favourable for his attempt, stormed 
the castle, and hung the governor from the walls, in sight 
of the king and his fleet* 

James, unable at the time to punish this daring rebel, 
took, nevertheless, such prompt measures for the vindication 
of his insulted authority, that ere long Sir John of Isla and 
four of his sons were apprehended in Isla, by Macian of 
Ardnamurchan, and brought to Edinburgh. There they 
were found guilty of high treason, and executed accordingly 
on the Burrowmuir ; their bodies being interred in the church 
of St. Anthony. Two surviving sons, who afterwards re- 
stored the fortunes of this family, fled to their Irish territory 
of the Glens, to escape the pursuit of Macian.f In the 
course of this year, likewise, two powerful chiefs, Roderick 
Macleod of Lewis, and John Macian of Ardnamurchan, 
made their submission, and the activity displayed by the 
latter against the rebellious Islesmen, soon procured him a 
large share of the Royal favour. 

In 1495, after making extensive preparation for another 
expedition to the Isles, the king assembled an army 

* The Treasurer's accounts, under August 1494, show that Sir John of the Isles 
was summoned, at that time, to answer for treason " in Kintyre ''. The precise act 
of treason is learned from a tradition well known in the Western Highlands. 

t These particulars regarding the punishment inflicted on the Chief of Isla and 
his sons are derived from the MSS. of Macvurich and Hugh Macdonald, corroborated 
by a charter from the King to Macian, dated 24th March, 1499, and preserved 
among the Argyll papers, rewarding the latter for his services in apprehending 
Sir John, his sons, and acccomplices. 


at Glasgow; and, on the i8th of May, we find him at 
the Castle of Mingarry, in Ardnamurchan, being the second 
time within two years that he had held his court in that 
remote castle. John Huchonson, or Hughson, of Sleat ; 
Donald Angusson of Keppoch ; Allan MacRuari of Moy- 
dert, chief of Clanranald ; Hector Maclean of Dowart ; 
Ewin Allanson of Lochiel, captain of the Clan Chameron, 
and Gilleonan Macneill of Barra, seem to have made their 
submission in consequence of this expedition. In this 
year, too, Kenneth Og Mackenzie of Kintail and Farquhar 
Mackintosh, son and heir of the captain of Clan Chattan, 
were imprisoned by the king in the Castle of Edinburgh. 
This may have been partly owing to their lawless conduct 
in 1491, but was more probably caused by a dread 
of their influence among the Islanders. The measures now 
taken by the king were soon after followed up by an im- 
portant Act of the Lords of Council (1496), which merits 
particular notice. This Act provided, in reference to civil 
actions against the Islanders of which a considerable 
number were then in preparation that the chief of every 
clan should be answerable for the due execution of sum- 
monses and other writs against those of his own tribe, under 
the penalty of being made liable himself to the party bringing 
the action. This, although undoubtedly a strong measure, 
was in all probability rendered necessary by the disturbed 
state of the Isles after so many rebellions, and could hardly 
fail to produce a beneficial effect ; for in these wild and 
remote districts the officers of the law could not perform 
their necessary duties in safety, without the assistance of a 
large military force. At the same time that this important 
regulation was made, five chiefs of rank, viz., Hector 
Maclean of Dowart, John Macian of Ardnamurchan, Allan 
MacRuari of Moydert, Ewin Allanson of Lochiel, and 
Donald Angusson of Keppoch appearing before the Lords 
of Council, bound themselves " by the extension of their 
hands," to the Earl of Argyle, on behalf of the king, to ab- 
stain from mutual injuries and molestation of each under a 
penalty of five hundred pounds. Such were the steps taken 


by the King and Council to introduce, at this time, law and 
order into the remote Highlands and Isles. 

The active share taken by King James in supporting the 
pretentions of Perkin VVarbeck (1497) withdrew his atten- 
tion for a time from the state of the Western Isles, and 
seems to have given opportunity for a new insurrection, 
which, however, was suppressed without the necessity for 
another Royal expedition. Sir Alexander of Lochalsh 
whether with the intention of claiming the Earldom of Ross, 
or of revenging himself on the Mackenzies, for his former 
defeat at Blairnepark, is uncertain invaded the more fertile 
districts of Ross in a hostile manner. He was encountered 
by the Mackenzies and Munros at place called Drumchait, 
where, after a sharp skirmish, he and his followers were 
again routed and driven out of Ross. After this event the 
Knight of Lochalsh proceeded southward among the Isles, 
endeavouring to rouse the Islands to arms in his behalf, but 
without success, owing probably to the terror produced by the 
execution of Sir John (Cathanach) of Isla and his sons. Mean- 
time Macian of Ardnamurchan, judging this a proper oppor- 
tunity for doing an acceptable service to the king, surprised 
Lochalsh in the Island of Oronsay, whither he had retreated, 
and put him to death. In this Macian was assisted, accord- 
ing to tradition, by Alexander, the eldest surviving son of 
John (Cathanach) of Isla, with whom he had contrived to 
effect a reconciliation, and to whom he had given his 
daughter in marriage. Sir Alexander of Lochalsh left both 
sons and daughters, who afterwards fell into the king's hands ; 
and of whom we shall have occasion to speak in the sequel. 
About the same time as the unsuccessful insurrection of 
which we have just spoken, the Chiefs of Mackenzie and 
Mackintosh made their escape from Edinburgh Castle ; but 
on their way to the Highlands they were treacherously sur- 
prised at the Tor wood by the Laird of Buchanan. Mac- 
kenzie having offered resistance, was slain, and his head, 
along with Mackintosh, who was taken alive, was presented 
to the king by Buchanan. The latter was rewarded, and 


Mackintosh returned to the dungeon, where he remained 
till after the battle of Flodden. 

In the summer of 1498 King James, still intent upon pre- 
serving and extending his influence in the Isles, held his 
court at a new castle he had caused to be erected in South 
Kintyre, at the head of Loch Kilkerran, now called the 
Bay of Campbelltown. Alexander Macleod of Harris, or 
Dunvegan, and Torquil Macleod, now (by the death of his 
father Roderick) Lord of Lewis, paid their homage to the 
king on this occasion ; and some steps were taken to sup- 
press the feud between the Clanhuistean of Sleat and the 
Clanranald of Moydert, regarding the lands of Garmoran 
and Uist The king soon afterwards returned to the 
Lowlands, leaving as he imagined, the Isles and West 
Highlands in a state of tranquillity not likely soon to be 
disturbed. A few months, however, sufficed to produce a 
wonderful change between the king and his subjects in the 
Isles. The cause of this change remains involved in 
obscurity ; but it must have been powerful to induce so sud- 
den and total a departure from the lenient measures hitherto 
pursued, and to cause the king to violate his solemn 
promise by revoking all the charters granted by him to the 
vassals of the Isles during the last five years.* The new 
line of policy was no sooner determined on than followed 
up with the wonted vigour of the sovereign. We find him 
at Tarbet in the month of April, when he gave to Archi- 
bald, Earl of Argyll, and others for letting on lease, for the 
term of three years, the entire Lordship of the Isles as 
possessed by the last lord, both in the Isles and on the 
mainland, excepting only the Island of Isla and the lands 
of North and South Kintyre. Argyll received also a 
commission of Lieutenandry, with the fullest powers, over 
the" Lordship of the Isles ; and, some months later, was 
appointed keeper of the Castle of Tarbet, and Bailie and 
Governor of the king's lands in Knapdale. Argyll was 

* The King's general parliamentary revocation of all charters granted in his 
minority, could not affect those of the Islanders, which seem all to have been granted 
after attaining his majority. 


not, however, the only individual who benefited by this 
change of measures. Alexander, Lord Gordon, eldest son 
of the Earl of Huntly, received a grant of numerous lands 
in Lochaber (1500) formerly belonging to the Lordship 
of the Isles. Upon Duncan Stewart of Appin, who was 
much employed in the Royal service, were bestowed the 
lands of Duror and Glenco during the king's pleasure. 
The important services of Macian of Ardnamurchan (who 
alone of all the Islanders seems to have retained the 
favour of his sovereign) were likewise suitably acknow- 

Skene.f though less clear in details, substantially cor- 
roborates Gregory, and Tytler sums up the whole of the 
various expeditions of the king so concisely that we cannot 
resist quoting him. He says : In 1493, although much 
occupied with other cares and concerns, he found time to 
penetrate twice into the Highlands, proceeding as far as 
Dunstaffnage and Mingarry in Ardnamurchan, and in the 
succeeding year, such was the indefatigable activity with 
which he executed his public duties, that he thrice visited 
the Isles. The first of these voyages, which took place in 
April and May, was conducted with great state. It afforded 
the youthful monarch an opportunity of combining business 
and amusement, of gratifying his passion for sailing and 
hunting, of investigating the state of the fisheries, of fitting 
out his barges for defence as well as pleasure, and of inducing 
his nobles to build and furnish, at their own expense, vessels 
in which they might accompany their sovereign. It had 
the effect also of impressing upon the inhabitants of the 
Isles a salutary idea of the wealth, grandeur, and military 
power of the king. The rapidity with which he travelled from 
place to place, the success and expedition with which he 
punished all who dared to oppose him, his generosity to his 
friends and attendants, and his gay and condescending 
familiarity with the lower classes of his subjects, all com- 
bined to increase his popularity and to consolidate and 

* Highlands and Isles, 89-93. 
t Highlanders of Scotland, voL ii., pp, 86-90. 



unite, by the bonds of equal laws and affectionate allegiance, 
the remotest parts of the kingdom.* 

At Tarbet, in Cantire, he repaired the fort originally 
built by Bruce, and established an emporium for his 
shipping, transporting thither his artillery, laying in a stock 
of gunpowder, and carrying along with him his master- 
gunners, in whose training and practice he appears, from 
the payments in the treasurer's books, to have busied 
himself with much perseverance and enthusiasm. These 
warlike measures were generally attended with the best 
effects ; most of the chieftains readily submitted to a prince 
who could carry hostilities within a few days into the 
heart of their country, and attack them in their island 
fastnesses with a force which they found it vain to resist ; 
one only, Sir John of the Isles, had the folly to defy the 
royal vengeance, ungrateful for that repeated lenity with 
which his treasons had been already pardoned. His great 
power in the Isles probably induced him to believe that the 
king would not venture to drive him to extremities ; but in 
this he was disappointed. James instantly summoned him 
to stand his trial for treason ; and in a Parliament which 
assembled at Edinburgh soon after the king's return from 
the north, this formidable rebel was stripped of his power, 
and his lands and possessions forfeited to the crown.f 

The last Lord of the Isles died, about 1498, in the 
Monastery of Paisley, leaving no legitimate issue. He 
was interred at his own request in the tomb of his royal 
ancestor, King Robert II. He was married to Elizabeth, 
eldest daughter of James, Lord Livingston, great Chamber- 
lain of Scotland. His son, Angus Og, died, as already 
stated, about 1485, leaving an only child, Donald Dubh, 
who was at the time of his father's death, and still (1498) 
continued, a prisoner in the Castle of Inchconnel. Angus 

* Tytler's History of Scotland, vol. ii. , pp. 258-259, Ed. 1879. 

t Treasurer's Accounts, August 24th, 1494, " Item, to summon Sir John of the 
Isles, of treason in Kintyre, and for the expense of witnesses, vi, Ib. xiii. sh. iiii. d." 
This, according to Mr. Gregory, was Sir John, called " Cathanach," of Isla 
and Cantire, and Lord of the Glens in Ireland executed afterwards at Edinburgh 
about the year 1500. 


married Lady Mary Campbell, daughter of Colin, first Earl 
of Argyll ; and most authorities agree that Donald Dubh 
was the legitimate issue of that marriage, though, for state 
reasons, he was declared a bastard in various acts of parlia- 
ment, and, in consequence, known as "Donald the Bastard". 
John the second illegitimate son of the last lord, also died 
during his father's lifetime before the i6th of December, 
1478, clearly proved by the Register of the Great Seal, viii., 
1 20. 

Celestine of Lochalsh died in 1473 fifteen years before 
the death of his brother, Earl John while his son, Alex- 
ander of Lochalsh, the " heir presumptive " to the Lordship 
of the Isles, was assassinated in the Island of Oronsay in 
1498 the same year in which Earl John himself died. 

In the latter year died also Hugh of Sleat, the only 
surviving son of Alexander, third Earl, leaving by his first 
wife, Finvola, daughter of Alexander, son of John of 
Ardnamurchan, one son John MacHuistean, or Hughson, 
who is above referred to as having, in 1495, made his sub- 
mission to James IV. with several others of the principal 
vassals of the Isles. John Hughson died, without issue, in 
1502. He was succeeded in the property by his brother, 
Donald Gallach, the issue of his father by Mary, daughter 
of Gunn, Crowner of Caithness, from whom is descended 
the present Lord Macdonald of Sleat, and of whom pre- 

Sir Alexander of Lochalsh, nephew of John, last Lord 
of the Isles, married a daughter of Lovat, by whom he left 
three sons and two daughters, the eldest of whom, Sir 
Donald of Lochalsh, known as " Donald Gallda," was after- 
wards elected by the Islanders to the Lordship of the Isles. 
He and his brother took a prominent part in the succeeding 
insurrections in the Isles, in connection with which his 
proceedings will be noticed at length. It may, however, 
be stated that all three died without issue, Donald's two 
sisters, Margaret and Janet, succeeding to his property, 
and carrying it to their respective husbands Alexander 
Macdonald VI. of Glengarry and Dingwall of Kildun. 


From these facts it will be seen that the vassals of the 
Lordship of the Isles, on the death of Earl John, were 
without any recognised head, while there were not less 
than three possible claimants to that high position. The 
first was Donald Dubh, son of Angus Og of the Isles, the 
latter, undoubtedly, heir of entail to John, last Lord of the 
Isles and Earl of Ross. Donald Dubh, therefore, whether 
legitimate or not, had powerful claims ; and he was not 
long in asserting them. The next claimant was Sir 
Donald, whose father, Sir Alexander of Lochalsh, had for 
many years acted as, and held the rank of, heir to the 
Lordship. Finally, we have the descendants of Hugh 
of Sleat, son of Alexander, third Earl, who also, in their 
turn, claimed the succession. To follow these through 
their various insurrections, and to make the various points 
in this obscure period of the history of the Macdonalds as 
clear as possible, will be now attempted. 

It will be remembered that DONALD DUBH, son of 
Angus Og, and grandson of John, last Lord of the Isles, 
was still a minor, and, at the time of his grandfather's 
death, in 1498, a prisoner in the Castle of Inchconnell. 
The Islanders looked upon him as the legitimate heir of 
his grandfather John, last Earl of Ross ; and, having been 
set at liberty by the gallantry and fidelity of his relatives, 
the Macdonalds of Glencoe, he at once proceeded to the 
Lewis to solicit the aid of Torquil Macleod, a very power- 
ful chief, and married to the aunt of Donald Dubh, 
Katharine, daughter of Colin, first Earl of Argyll. Donald's 
cause was at once warmly espoused by the Lord of Lewis, 
a fact which had great influence with the other Island 
Chiefs ; for they naturally concluded that Torquil Macleod, 
so closely related to him, must have had ample proof of 
Donald's legitimacy otherwise he would not have had 
anything to do with him ; and from his intimate relations 
with the Argyll family, he was supposed to have had every 
facility for procuring accurate information regarding the 
marriage of Angus Og to his own sister-in-law, Katherine 
of Argyll. At first sight it would seem difficult to believe 


that the first Earl of Argyll should continue to maintain 
the illegitimacy of his own grandson, and the second Earl, 
Archibald, that of his nephew ; but if we keep in view their 
respective positions the latter being Lieutenant of the 
Isles as well as the grasping character of the race we can 
easily understand their conduct and its selfish object They, 
undoubtedly, had their eyes on the extensive and valuable 
Island territories for themselves, and it seemed a venial 
crime in their eyes to sacrifice the reputation of a daughter 
or a sister in comparison with the loss of the grand prospect 
which opened up now much increased by the confusion 
among the Islanders for want of a leader of gaining 
possession of the vast domains of the Lordship of the 
Isles and Earldom of Ross. Archibald would the more 
readily be induced to adopt this selfish view, when he 
found that the claims of Donald Dubh, even if admitted 
to be legitimate himself, were materially weakened, and 
likely to be contested by others of the Macdonalds on the 
ground of the undoubted, admitted bastardy of his father. 

The news of young Donald's escape, as well as its effect 
upon the disaffected Island chiefs, soon reached the king. 
Torquil was charged to deliver up the person of this rebel, 
described as being at Macleod's "rule and governance," 
under the penalty of treason. This he declined, where- 
upon he was himself denounced a traitor, and all his pos- 
sessions formally forfeited to the crown. The Earl of 
Huntly was sent to Lochaber and the neighbouring dis- 
tricts to collect the crown rents, by force if necessary ; and 
soon afterwards, in 1 502, a commission was issued in favour 
of Huntly, Lord Lovat, and William Munro of Fowlis, to 
enable them to proceed to Lochaber and Mamore, and to 
let the king's lands there for the space of five years to 
" true men ". They, at the same time, received strict orders 
to drive all " broken men " from the district. This injunc- 
tion, considering the disorganised state of that part of the 
country, meant the expulsion of the entire population ; for 
in those days all who were not governed by a responsible 
head or chief came under this designation. Lewis, forfeited 


by Torquil Macleod, was treated in a similar manner ; and 
we find that a grant of the lands of Mamore Duror and 
Glencoe was made to Duncan Stewart of Appin, who was 
at the time actively employed in carrying out the king's 
orders in the Isles. Great efforts were made by the king 
to win over some of the most powerful of the Highland 
chiefs, especially Ewen MacAllan of Lochiel and Lachlan 
Maclean of Duart. These gentlemen were in constant 
communication with the Court, and finally proceeded thither 
with the view of completing negotiations previously carried 
on by correspondence ; but no sooner did they return to 
the north than they seem to have forgotten everything 
" except the duty by which they fancied themselves bound 
to support the claims of the alleged heir of Innisgall ". 

The causes which led to the rebellion of the Islanders 
under Donald Dubh, and which so embittered the feelings 
of the Highlanders against the Government of the king 
are fully explained by various writers. Tytler says that 
from 1495 to 1499, in the autumn of which latter year 
the monarch held his court in South Kintyre, all appears to 
have remained in tranquillity ; but after his return, a com- 
plete change took place in the policy of the king, from 
causes which cannot now be ascertained. And the wise 
and moderate measures, some time previously adopted, 
were succeeded by proceedings so severe as to border on 
injustice. "The charters which had been granted during 
the last six years to the vassals of the Isles, were summarily 
revoked. Archibald, Earl of Argyll, was installed in the 
office of Lieutenant, with the ample and invidious power 
of leasing out the entire lordship of the Isles (the Island 
of Isla and the lands of North and South Cantire alone 
excepted). The ancient proprietors and their vassals 
were violently expelled from their hereditary property ; 
whilst Argyll and other royal favourites appear to have 
been enriched by new grants of their estates and lordships. 
We are not to wonder that such harsh proceedings were 
loudly reprobated ; the inhabitants saw with indignation 
their rightful masters exposed to insult and indigence, and 


at last broke out into open rebellion," the object of which 
was to place Donald Dubh on the throne of his ancestors 
of the Isles. Having described the release of Donald from 
the Castle of Inchconncl by the Macdonalds of Glencoe, 
and his visit to Macleod of the Lewis, Tytler proceeds 
"Although James received early intelligence of the medi- 
tated insurrection, and laboured by every method to dis- 
solve the union amongst its confederated chiefs, it now 
burst forth with destructive fury. Badenoch was wasted 
with all the ferocity of Highland warfare Inverness given 
to the flames ; and so widely and rapidly did the contagion 
of independence spread throughout the Isles that it de- 
manded the most prompt and decisive measures to arrest 
it. But James" power, though shaken, was too deeply rooted 
to be thus destroyed. The whole array of the kingdom 
was called forth. The Earls of Argyll, Huntly, Crawford, 
and Marshall, with Lord Lovat and other barons, were 
appointed to lead an army against the Islanders ; the 
castles and strongholds in the hands of the king were forti- 
fied and garrisoned ; letters were addressed to the various 
chiefs, encouraging the loyal by the rewards which awaited 
them, whilst over the heads of the wavering or disaffected 
were suspended the terrors of forfeiture and execution. 
But this was not all : a parliament assembled at Edinburgh 
on the nth of March, 1503, and in addition to the above 
rigorous resolutions, the civilisation of the Highlands, an 
object which had engrossed the attention of many a suc- 
cessive council, was again taken into consideration. To 
accomplish this end those districts whose inhabitants had 
hitherto, from their inaccessible position, defied the res- 
traints of the law, were divided into new sherriffdoms, and 
placed under the jurisdiction of permanent judges. The 
preamble of the Act complained in strong terms of the 
gross abuse of justice in the northern and western divisions 
of the realm more especially the Isles ; it described the 
people as having become altogether savage, and provided 
that the new sheriffs for the north Isles should hold their 
courts in Inverness and Dingwall, and those for the south, 


in the Tarbet of Lochkilkerran. The inhabitants of 
Dowart, Glendowart, and the lordship of Lorn, who, for a 
long period, had violently resisted the jurisdiction of the 
justice-ayres or ambulatory legal courts, were commanded 
to come to the justice-ayre at Perth, and the districts of 
Mawmor and Lochaber, which had insisted on the same 
exemption, were brought under the jurisdiction of the 
justice-ayre of Inverness. The divisions of Bute, Arran, 
Knapdale, Cantire, and the larger Cumbrae were to hold 
their courts at Ayr, whilst the deplorable condition of 
Argyll was marked by the words of the Act, ' that the 
court is to be held wherever it is found that each High- 
lander and Lowlander may come without danger, and ask 
justice,' a problem of no easy discovery. The districts of 
Ross and Caithness, now separated from the sheriffdom 
of Inverness, were placed under their own judges ; and it 
was directed that the inhabitants of these three great divi- 
sions of the kingdom should as usual attend the justice- 
ayre of Inverness." * 

In addition to his commission of Lieutenandry, with full 
powers over the Lordship of the Isles, the Earl of Argyll 
a few months later received the appointment of Keeper of 
the Castle of Tarbet, and Bailie and Governor of the king's 
lands in Knapdale ; while at the same time Alexander, Lord 
Gordon, eldest son of the Earl of Huntly, received grants 
of various lands in the district of Lochaber, which pre- 
viously formed part of the Lordship of the Isles. The 
Islanders, about the same time, became aware that steps 
were being taken to expel the vassals of the old Lordship 
from their ancient possessions, and it was only natural that 
such high-handed measures, and the great danger in which 
they now found themselves, should have exasperated their 
feelings, and induced them to form a powerful combination 
under their newly liberated leader, Donald Dubh whom 
they, rightly or wrongly, regarded as their hereditary lord 
for the protection of their mutual interests. Without 
waiting to be attacked they advanced into Badenoch, the 

* Tytler's History of Scotland, vol. ii., pp. 271-3. 


property of one of their principal enemies, the Earl of 
Huntly, who afterwards, when the other lords already 
named led a large force against the Isles, undertook to 
seize and garrison the castles of Strome in Lochcarron, 
and Islandonain in Kintail then thought " rycht necessar 
for the danting of the His" provided the artillery and 
ammunition necessary for besieging these strongholds were 
sent to him by sea at the king's expense. From this 
it would appear that the Mackenzies, under Hector Roy of 
Gairloch, acting as tutor to his nephew John Mackenzie, 
IX. of Kintail, then a minor, supported Donald Dubh 
against the Government. It would also account for certain 
differences which took place between Hector Roy and his 
ward regarding the possession of the Kintail stronghold a 
few years later, when Hector was ordered by the Privy 
Council to give it up to John, his nephew and chief. 

In April, 1 504, the Royal army had its rendezvous at 
Dumbarton, and from that place artillery and warlike 
stores of every description available, including "gun stanes, 1 ' 
were sent forward for the siege of Cairnburgh, a fort on an 
isolated island on the west coast of Mull. The Earl of 
Arran received two commissions against the Islanders, 
and, at the same time, the Earl of Argyll, Macleod of 
Harris and Dunvegan, and Maclan of Ardnamurchan, 
favoured, and were in regular correspondence with, the 
king,* who did not on this occasion proceed in person to 
the Isles. The rebellion turned out a more formidable 
affair than was anticipated, and very little progress was 
made to repress it in this campaign. In the following 

* In 1504 great efforts had been made, but with little permanent success, and 
the progress of the insurrection became alarming. Macvicar, an envoy from 
Macleod, who was then in strict alliance with the king, remained three weeks at 
Court. Maclan also had sent his emissaries to explain the perilous condition of 
the country ; and with characteristic energy, the king, as soon as the state of the 
year permitted, despatched the Earl of Huntly to invade the Isles by the north, 
whilst himself in person led an army against them from the south ; and John 
Barton proceeded with a fleet to reduce and overawe these savage districts. The 
terror of the Royal name ; the generosity with which James rewarded his ad- 
herents ; and the vigorous measures which he adopted against the disaffected, pro- 
duced a speedy and extensive effect in dissolving the confederacy. Tytler's History 
of Scotland. 



year, the insurrection becoming still more alarming, the 
king determined to lead his army in person. He invaded 
the Isles with a powerful force from the south, while Huntly 
attacked them from the north, and took several prisoners, 
none of whom, however, were of distinguished rank or 
influence. At the same time the Royal navy was employed 
under Sir Andrew Wood and Robert Barton. This ex- 
pedition resulted in breaking up the confederacy of the 
Island lords ; many of them submitted to the Royal 
authority, among the first being the powerful Chief of the 
Macleans, Lord of Duart, which act on his part also implied 
the submission of Nacneil of Barra, and of Macquarrie of 
Ulva, two chiefs who, since the forfeiture of the Lordship of 
the Isles, had followed the banner of their powerful neigh- 
bours, the Macleans. Maclean of Lochbuy soon followed 
the example of his chief, while the Macdonalds of Largie, 
a powerful sept of the Macdonalds of Isla, also came in. 
Ranald MacAllan, heir to the Chief of Clanranald, was 
already in high favour at Court ; so that the power of the 
Islanders was almost completely shattered. Some of 
the great chiefs, however, still held out, the principal of 
whom was Torquil Macleod of Lewis, though his chief, 
Macleod of Harris, had all through been loyal to the crown. 
He had taken an active and leading part in the rebellion 
of the Islanders under Donald Dubh ; and it is extremely 
probable that he entertained little hope of obtaining re- 
mission for his offences, which probably determined him in 
his resolution to hold out after the other leaders had made 
their submission. 

In 1506, Macleod was solemnly forfeited in Parliament 
for not appearing to take his trial for high treason, and, 
to execute this sentence, the Earl of Huntly was des- 
patched with a powerful force to the North Isles. He 
besieged and took the Castle of Stornoway, and reduced 
the whole Island of Lewis to obedience by the aid of 
Mackay of Strathnaver, who accompanied him in the 
expedition, and who was afterwards rewarded for his 
services by a life-rent grant of the lands of Assynt and 


Coigeach, part of the lands forfeited by Macleod described 
by Tytler as " the great head of the rebellion ". Macleod 
himself does not, however, appear to have been taken ; and 
it is uncertain what became of him after ; but we find a 
charter under the Great Seal in favour of his brother, 
Malcolm Macleod, of the lands and Lordship of the Lewis, 
"de novo," dated 2Qth June, 1511, under which his nephew 
John, the son of the forfeited Torquil, was excluded from 
the succession. Gregory states that " although this 
tedious rebellion was at length suppressed, it does not 
appear that the projects of the Government for expelling 
the old inhabitants from the Lordship of the Isles, and 
substituting ' true men ' in their room, had made any 
sensible progress. On the contrary the clans of the Isles 
and adjacent coasts continued to occupy, many of them 
perhaps contrary to law, their ancient possessions. Donald 
Dubh, the alleged heir of the Isles, for whose sake the 
Hebridean chiefs had made such sacrifices, again became a 
prisoner, and was committed to the Castle of Edinburgh, 
where he remained until he made his escape a second time, 
nearly forty years after this period, under the regency of 
the Earl of Arran," when the faithful Islanders again 
rallied round him, and supported him in his claims to the 
Lordship of the Isles and the Earldom of Ross, as the last 
male heir, in the direct line, of John, the last Lord who 
legitimately held the ancient honours. 

Meanwhile we must leave him in his long and weary 
captivity of forty years, and proceed to describe the state 
of the vassals of the Isles during his imprisonment, as also 
the fortunes of another who, in his absence, claimed the 
same ancient honours. During the recent rebellion of 
Donald Dubh, the lands of Clanchattan, as vassals of the 
Earl of Huntly, and those of the Stewarts of Appin, as 
followers of the Earl of Argyll, suffered severely from the 
incursions of the Islanders, who were infuriated against the 
Mackintoshes ; especially for separating themselves from the 
vassals of the ancient Lordship of the Isles; for joining the 
enemy ; and for claiming lands in the heart of Lochaber ; 


while the Stewarts, under the protection of Argyll, 
encroached upon the ancient lordship from the opposite 
side. The Camerons, since 1497, forcibly occupied the 
lands of Glenlui and Locharkaig without any acknowledge- 
ment to the representatives of the ancient superiors, in 
consequence of which they suffered severely from the 
Islanders by the plunder and devastation of their lands of 
Badenoch. These feuds, which in former times would have 
been settled by the arbitration of the sword between the 
injured parties and the aggressors, were on this occasion, 
by the influence of the king, Huntly, and Argyll, settled 
by decisions of the Privy Council, or of arbitrators chosen 
mutually by the parties themselves. 

The king was not satisfied with a mere compulsory 
obedience to the statutes of the realm, but took steps for 
the introduction to the Highlands of a knowledge of the 
laws by natives trained at the expense of the Government. 
A document is still in existence granting a piece of crown 
lands in the Isle of Skye by James IV. to Kenneth William- 
son to support him at the schools, with a view to his studying 
and making himself master of the laws of Scotland, and 
of afterwards practising as a lawyer within the bounds of 
the Isles. The document is as follows : " A letter of gift 
maid to Kanoch Wilyamson, induring the king's will, of all 
and hale the lands of [the] Terunga of Kilmartine, and the 
half of [the] Terunga of Baramosmor in Trouternes, with 
their pertinentis, extending yerely to sax marks of old 
extent, Hand in the Lordschip of the Illys, to hald the said 
Kanoch at the Skolis, and for to lere and study the kingis 
laws in Scotland, and eftirwart to exerce and use the samin 
within the boundis of the His & ca - At Strivelin, the xj of 
Aprile, the yere of God i m v c and viij yeris (1508), and of 
the kingis regne the xxi. yere." * 

During the remainder of this reign justice seems to have 
been administered throughout the kingdom with great im- 
partiality, and, in the Highlands, in a manner hitherto 

* Transactions of the lona Club, page 22. 


unknown. The king himself became so popular among 
the leading Islanders, and the royal authority was so well 
established, that " from the suppression of the insurrection 
of 1506 to the disastrous battle of Flodden in 1513, the 
West Highlands and Isles seem to have been free from 
any serious disturbance." Various appointments were 
confirmed which made the royal authority felt in the 
north. The heritable Sheriffdom of Inverness, which 
embraced the county of that name and those of Ross 
and Caithness, was conferred upon the Earl of Huntly, 
who was empowered to appoint deputies to hold courts 
respectively ; for the district of Badenoch, at Kingus- 
sie ; for Lochaber, at Inverlochy ; for Ross, at Tain or 
Dingvvall ; and for Caithness at Wick. Huntly was by 
the same charter, dated i6th January, 1508-9, "appointed 
governor of the Castle of Inverness, with a large grant of 
lands for the support of a garrison. Power was given him 
to add to the fortifications ; and he was at the same time, 
bound, at his own expense, to build upon the Castlehill of 
Inverness a hall of stone and lime upon vaults. This hall 
was to be one hundred feet in length, thirty feet in breadth, 
and the same in height ; it was to have a slated roof, and to 
it were to be attached a kitchen and chapel of proper size. 
The same nobleman had previously obtained a grant of the 
site of the Castle of Inverlochy, where he was bound to 
build a ' tower and strengthen it with a barmekyn,' which, 
however, had not been done owing to the Earl's constant 
employment in the king's service so late as the year 1511. 
From this period, the great power formerly enjoyed by the 
Earls of Ross, and Lords of the Isles, was transferred to 
Argyll and Huntly ; the former having the chief rule in the 
South Isles and adjacent coasts, while the influence of the 
latter prevailed in the North Isles and Highlands. The 
effect of the vigorous Government of James IV. was " a 
decided improvement on the state of the Isles during the 
latter part of his reign, which was accompanied, however, 
by great changes in the relative position of many of the 
principal insular families In the course of 


James' frequent expeditions to the West Highlands, the 
children of Sir Alexander de insulis of Lochalsh, who were 
all young at their father's death, had fallen into his hands. 
It appears that they were brought up in the Royal house- 
hold, and we may presume that their education was carefully 
attended to. Donald, the eldest son called by the High- 
landers Donald Gallda, or the Foreigner, from his early 
residence in the Lowlands speedily became a great 
favourite with the king. He was allowed to inherit his 
father's estates, or a great part of them, and was frequently 
permitted to visit the Isles. This privilege he did not 
abuse during the life of James IV. ; and but for the untimely 
death of that monarch, he would, no doubt, have received 
still greater marks of favour."* 

The position of the various families of Macdonald were 
now in many cases more unfortunate than they had ever 
been before. John, the eldest son and heir of Hugh of 
Sleat, made over all his estates to the family of Clanranald. 
His followers were thus without any legitimate means of 
subsistence, viewed with jealousy by the Government, and 
ultimately they became by force of circumstances rebels and 
marauders. The Clann Ian Mhoir of Isla at this period 
possessed no heritage in Scotland, but resided on their 
estate of the Glens, in the north of Ireland. The Macdonalds 
of Lochaber, or Keppoch, had local troubles on hand, which 
terminated in the deposition of one of their chiefs by the 
elders of the tribe, while they held their lands as occupants 
merely, " without any legal rights to the heritage ". The 
family of Moydart appear hitherto to have been in high 
favour at court, but in 1 509 their chief, Allan MacRuari, 
was tried, convicted, and executed in presence of the king, 
at Blair Athole, for some unrecorded crime, at which place, 
according to MacVurich, his body lies interred. His suc- 
cessor, Ranald MacAllan, in 1513, met with the same fate 
as his father, being executed under similar circumstances of 
obscurity, at Perth, after having been, like his father, tried 

* Gregory, who quotes the Treasurer's Accounts, A.D. 1507 to 1512, and Acts 
of the Lords of Council, xxiv., fo. 186. 


in presence of the king. While the other families of the 
West were thus in misfortune, in consequence of the strin- 
gent measures adopted by the Government after 1493, the 
Clann Ian of Ardnamurchan, from having throughout the 
late insurrections sided with the King, greatly increased in 
power, and became proportionately obnoxious to the other 
Islanders. The family of Glencoe shared in the common 
misfortune ; while other leading vassals of the old Lordship 
improved their position, or, in the case of those forfeited, 
were restored to their estates. But it will be more appro- 
priate to leave an account of the various Macdonald 
families, their doings, and vicissitudes, until we come to deal 
with them separately in the order of their descent from the 
main stem. 

The events which led up to the fatal battle of Flodden, 
in which James IV. with the flower of the Scottish nobility 
so chivalrously sold their lives, are so well known, as well 
as the facts connected with the battle itself, as to render it 
quite unnecessary to reproduce them. In this memorable 
engagement the Highlanders took a leading part. Sir 
Donald (Gallda) Macdonald of Lochalsh, who had been 
knighted under the Royal banner on the field of Flodden, 
led a large body of the Islanders to that fatal and ever 
memorable engagement. Tytler, describing the battle,* 
its causes, and results, says : " On the right the divisions 
led by the Earls of Lennox and Argyll were composed 
chiefly of the Highlanders and Islesmen ; the Campbells, 
Macleans, Macleods, and other hardy clans, who were 
dreadfully galled by the discharge of the English archers. 
Unable to reach the enemy with their broadswords and 
axes, which formed their only weapons, and at no time 
very amenable to discipline, their squadrons began to run 
fiercely forward, eager for closer fight, and thoughtless of 
the fearful consequences of breaking their array. It was 
to little purpose that La Motte and the French officers 
who were with them attempted by entreaties and blows to 
restrain them ; they neither understood their language nor 

* Vol. ii. , pp. 292-294. 


cared for their violence, but threw themselves, sword in 
hand, upon the English. They found, however, an enemy 
in Sir Edward Stanley, whose coolness was not to be 
surprised in this manner. The squares of English pikemen 
stood to their ground ; and although for a moment the 
shock from the mountaineers was terrible, its force, once 
sustained, became spent with its own violence, and nothing 
remained but a disorganisation so complete that to recover 
their ranks was impossible. The consequence was a total 
rout of the right wing of the Scots, accompanied by a 
dreadful slaughter, in which, amid other brave men, the 
Earls of Lennox and Argyll were slain." Among those 
who fell were the Earls of Huntly, Athole, Caithness, and 
Glencairn ; the Bishops of Caithness and of the Isles ; Sir 
Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy ; Lachlan Maclean of 
Duart ; Campbell of Lawers ; and several other High- 
landers of note. " The names of the gentry who fell are 
too numerous for recapitulation, since there were few 
families of note in Scotland which did not lose one relative 
or another, while some houses had to weep the death of all. 
It is from this cause that the sensations of sorrow and 
national lamentations occasioned by the defeat were pecu- 
liarly poignant and lasting ; so that to this day few Scots- 
men can hear the name of Flodden without a shudder of 
gloomy regret. The news of the discomfiture of the 
Scottish army at Flodden spread through the land with a 
rapidity of terror and sorrow proportionate to the greatness 
of the defeat, and the alarming condition into which it 
instantly brought the country. The wail of private grief, 
from the hall to the cottage, was loud and universal. In 
the Capital were to be heard the shrieks of women who 
ran distractedly through the streets, bewailing the husbands, 
the sons, or the brothers, who had fallen, clasping their 
infants to their bosoms, and anticipating in tears the 
coming desolation of their country." 

Regardless of the favours which had been extended 
to Donald Gallda of Lochalsh, and the honours which had 
been conferred upon him by the late king, no sooner did 


he return to the Isles after the battle of Flodden, than a 
new plot was immediately organised to proclaim him Lord 
of the Isles, notwithstanding that Donald Dubh, the 
recently elected holder of that dignity was yet alive, 
though still confined in the Castle of Edinburgh. In 
November, 1513, only two months after his arrival in the 
north, Sir Donald marched to Urquhart with a large body 
of Highlanders among whom we find Alexander Mac- 
Ranald of Glengarry, and Wiland Chisholm of Comar 
expelled the garrison from the Castle of Urquhart, seized 
the stronghold, plundered and laid waste the adjoining 
lands, then the property of John Grant of Freuchy. Almost 
simultaneously with these lawless proceedings, Lachlan Mac- 
lean of Duart seized the Royal Castle of Cairnburgh, and 
some time after, with the aid of Alexander Macleod of 
Dunvegan, he possessed himself of the Castle of Dunskaich, 
in Sleat, shortly after which Sir Donald was formally pro- 
claimed and elected Lord of the Isles. 

On the fatal field of Flodden fell, surrounded by a 
literal wall of the dead bodies of his clansmen, the brave 
Hector Odhar, Chief of the Macleans ; whereupon Lachlan 
Cattanach succeeded to the chiefship of Duart, and at once 
became the principal leader in the movement to place Sir 
Donald Gallda on the Island throne. Colin, third Earl of 
Argyll, was at once ordered by the Privy Council to proceed 
against Maclean and his associates, with as many of the 
king's lieges as he thought necessary, for the purpose of 
putting down the rebellion. 

By an act of Council, dated 1514, men of influence were 
placed in charge, as lieutenants, of particular divisions of 
the northern Highland counties Mackenzie of Kintail 
and Munro of Fowlis being appointed Lieutenants of 
Wester Ross ; while Ewin Allanson of Lochiel, and Wil- 
liam Lauchlanson were placed in charge of the district of 
Lochaber. Letters were at the same time sent to all the 
chiefs whose properties on the mainland lay contiguous to 
the Isles, charging them, in case any of the Islanders 
landed on their territories, to resist their hostile intentions 



to the utmost of their power, and intimating that any of 
them who disobeyed these instructions would be held 
equally guilty with the Islanders themselves and punished 

The effect produced was neither great nor satisfactory, 
and it was considered wiser to adopt measures of a more 
conciliatory character. John, Duke of Albany, at the time 
Regent, granted a commission to John Macian of Ardna- 
murchan, who had throughout continued faithful to the 
Government, to make terms with the less prominent and 
violent of the rebels ; promise them the Royal favour, and 
remission for their past crimes, if they agreed to become 
obedient and loyal subjects in future, and made restitution 
to those whom they had injured in their recent incursions. 
From these conditions the principal rebels, including the 
Macleans of Duart ; the Macleods of Lewis and Harris ; 
Alexander of Isla, chief of the Clann Ian Mhoir, or Mac- 
donalds South, who now resided on his Antrim estate of 
the Glynns, were exempted. There were also excluded the 
personal adherents and nearer relations of Sir Donald 
Gallda, with several of the smaller septs who dared not 
refuse to take part with the neighbouring and more power- 
ful clans. This plan so far succeeded that several of the 
insurgents submitted and went to Court, under assurance 
of protection, to arrange in person, the terms upon which 
they were to be pardoned and restored to favour. The Isles 
were thus brought for a time to a state of pacification pre- 
viously unknown. The Earl of Argyll and Mackenzie of 
Kintail, who had been guilty of some irregularities during 
these turbulent years, obtained remission from the Regent. 
It would appear that the intestine disorders so long 
chronic in the Isles were now coming to an end. In 1516 
Sir Donald Gallda and Macian of Ardnamurchan submitted 
many of the disputes which had risen between them to the 
decision of the legal tribunals of the kingdom. They came 
under mutual obligations to redress injuries done to each 
other's properties in the past. At the same time Sir 
Donald frequently appeared at Court, under a safe conduct 


from the Regent, while he carried on a lawsuit against his 
old enemy the Earl of Argyll. " The reconciliation of Sir 
Donald to the Regent was apparently so cordial, and so 
much power was still left to him in the Isles, that, on the 
24th September, 1516, a summons was dispatched to the 
Earl of Argyll and to ' Monsieur de Ylis," to join the Royal 
Army, then about to proceed to the borders. Some months 
after, the latter appears to have been in Inverness, with no 
good intentions, for the Earl of Huntly was directed to 
watch his motions ; and ere long he was again in open 
rebellion. Sir Donald and his followers had joined Alex- 
ander, Lord Home, in the treasonable practices which 
brought that nobleman's head to the block ; and, after his 
death, had given shelter to his proscribed followers. This 
fact, regarding which all our historians are silent, would 
seem to imply that Sir Donald was first excited to rebellion 
by the intrigue of English agents, and serves to account 
for the inveteracy of the Scottish Government against him 
after this period." 

We soon find Sir Donald again in rebellion. In 1517, 
having given out to the Islesmen the false intimation that 
the Lieutenandry of the Isles and other important offices 
belonging to the Crown had been bestowed upon him by 
the Regent and Privy Council, he succeeded in raising a 
strong body of men, at the head of whom he attacked and 
expelled his old enemy, Macian of Ardnamurchan, from 
his lands, and took possession of the castle of Mingarry ; 
and, although repeatedly charged by the Privy Council to 
give up the stronghold and the lands to their lawful owner, 
Sir Donald defied the Government, " razed the castle of 
Mingarry to the ground, and ravaged the whole district 
with fire and sword ". His chief leaders had in the mean- 
time discovered that he had deceived them, and that, 
instead of protecting the lands of which he pretended to 
have received charge and control, his real object was to lay 
them waste in the most ruthless manner. He refused to 
take their advice regarding his reckless and insane pro- 
ceedings, and at length, taking the matter boldly into their 


hands, they determined to apprehend and deliver him up 
to the Regent He, however, discovered their meditated 
designs, and managed to effect his escape ; but both his 
brothers were made prisoners by Lachlan Cattanach Mac- 
lean and Macleod of Lewis, the two leaders who had 
hitherto been most conspicuous in supporting Sir Donald 
in opposition to the Government. They had now, how- 
ever, turned against him, became his most inveterate 
enemies proceeded to make their submission to the Regent, 
and to palliate their late rebellious proceedings in support 
of the Island Chief. 

In 1517, the Earl of Argyll, the Macleans of Duart and 
Lochbuy, and Macleod of Harris presented petitions to 
the Privy Council, making certain offers and suggestions 
regarding the affairs of the Isles and Sir Donald Gallda ; 
and, although the petitions are separate and distinct, they 
are uniform in advocating the suppression of Sir Donald 
and his rebellious followers. Argyll demanded, first, that he 
" should be invested with very high powers over the men 
of the Isles ' for the honour of the realm and the common 
weal in time coming '. He desired a commission of lieuten- 
andry over all the Isles and the adjacent mainland, on the 
ground of the vast expense he had previously incurred, of 
his ability to do good service in the future, and of his 
having broken up the confederacy of the Islanders." His 
request was complied with, and the commission was granted 
for a period of three years, with the exceptions that those 
parts of Lochaber belonging to the Earl of Huntly, the 
Clanchattan, and Ewin Allanson of Lochiel, and the 
Islands of Arran and Bute, were excluded from its provi- 
sions. Second, " He claimed and obtained authority to 
receive into the King's favour all the men of the Isles who 
would make their submission, and become bound for future 
good behaviour ; to promise them remission for former 
offences, and to engage for the restitution, not only of their 
heritage, but of such Crown lands as they previously held 
in lease, upon proper security being given for payment of 
the accustomed rents and duties, by the delivery of hostages 


and otherwise; the last condition being imperative, 'because 
the men of the Isles are fickle of mind, and set but little 
value on their oaths and written obligations '. Sir Donald 
of the Isles, his brothers, and the Clan Donald were, how- 
ever, specially excepted from the benefits of this second 
article. The earl likewise demanded and received express 
power to pursue and follow the rebels with fire and sword ; 
to expel them from the Isles ; and to use his best endea- 
vours to possess himself of Sir Donald's castle of Strome, 
in Lochcarron. Particular instructions were given him to 
demand hostages from the Clan Ian Vor, or Clandonald of 
Isla, and their followers, who were now the principal sup- 
porters of Sir Donald ; and, in the event of their refusal, 
to pursue them with the utmost severity ; while, on the 
other hand, if they should submit, their leaders the sur- 
viving sons of the late Sir John Cathanach of Isla were to 
receive Crown lands in the Isles, to the annual value of one 
hundred merks, to enable them to live without plundering 
the king's lieges, and to keep rule in time to come they 
being now without heritage, owing to their father's for- 

Lachlan Maclean of Duart makes the following 
demands : first, " A free remission of all offences to him- 
self and his associates ; and particularly to his ' kin, men, 
servants, and partakers, following viz., Donald Maclean 
(his uncle), Gilleonan Nacneil of Barra, Neill Mackinnon of 
Mishnish, Dunslaf Macquarrie of Ulva, and Lachlan Mac- 
ewin of Ardgour ; it being understood that Dowart was 
ready to make redress of all damages committed against 
the Earl of Argyll and Macian of Ardnamurchan, 
according to the decision of certain mutual friends. This 
remission was authorised by the Council to be granted to 
Maclean, upon hostages being given for future obedience. 
His next demands are somewhat startling, when his own 
previous conduct and the history of his predecessors are 
taken into consideration, and might well justify the charge 
of fickleness of mind brought against the Islanders by the 
Earl of Argyll. He desired, in the second place, that Sir 


Donald of Lochalsh, with his associates, should be proceeded 
against as traitors, and their lands forfeited, according to 
law, for their treason and perseverance in rebellion. In the 
third place, he demanded that Sir Donald's two brothers, 
then in his custody, should be 'justified,' i.e., executed, 
according to law, ' for pleasure and profit to the king and 
regent, and for stability of the country ' ; and further stated 
that he would act with double zeal in the king's service, as 
soon as he should perceive that the Government was serious 
in ' destroying tJie wicked blood of the Isles ; for as long as 
that blood reigns, the King shall never have the Isles in peace, 
whenever they find an opportunity to break loose, as is evident 
from daily experience '. For his good service done and to be 
done and particularly for collecting, which he now under- 
took to do, the king's duties, in all places ' within (south of) 
the point of Ardnamurchan (except those belonging to Mac- 
ian, who was to answer for himself), Maclean demanded an 
heritable grant of one hundred merk lands in Tiree and 
Mull, free of all duties. This, however, the Council would 
not give for a longer term than till the majority of the king, 
an arrangement with which he was obliged to rest satisfied 
in the meantime. He made various other demands, chiefly 
regarding his lands and possessions in the Isles ; and, with 
some trifling exceptions, these were all agreed to."* 

One cannot help being amazed at the extremely mean and 
treacherous conduct of this Chief of the Macleans conduct 
which cannot possibly be stigmatised too severely. The 
author of the " Historical and Genealogical Account of the 
Clan Maclean," naturally unwilling to be too severe in the 
condemnation of a chief of his own clan, says, " The death 
of the brave Hector Odhar introduces us to the name of one 
in writing of whom I could wish the pen were in other 
hands than that of a Maclean ; but as I have set out avowedly 
with the purpose of giving a faithful record of our race, I 
shall certainly 'nothing extenuate'. Lachlan Cattanach Mac- 
lean succeeded his father in the year 1513 ; this chief, whose 
natural violence of temper and neglected education led to 

* Gregory, pp. 115-122. 


acts of the most savage cruelty, was altogether such a 
character as to make one regret that the noble line of 
Duart's lords had ever been tarnished by his being of their 
number. In early youth he had exhibited such symptoms 
of a bad disposition, and reckless indifference to the lives of 
his inferiors, that while residing among the Clan-Chattan, 
his mother's kindred, he twice narrowly escaped falling by 
the hand of some injured vassal. On his returning to Mull, 
a Moid, or council of chieftains and gentlemen of the 
Macleans, was held, at which the propriety of excluding him 
altogether from the succession was mooted ; his advocates, 
however, carried it in his favour, alleging his youth as 
some palliative for his present wicked and ungovernable 
conduct, and that at a more mature age there was hope of 
his being less objectionable ; but neither time nor circum- 
stances seemed calculated to smooth the rugged nature of 
Lachlan Cattanach. The first act of his cheftainship is one 
for which we would grant him credit for boldness at least, 
were it a mattter of certainty that he deserved it. In the 
seizure of the royal castle of Cairn burgh, near Mull, and of 
Dunscaich, in the Isle of Skye, he was aided by braver 
spirits than his own ; in this as well as in other exploits in 
which he had embroiled himself with his sovereign, he was 
powerfully assisted by his uncle Donald, and the Macleans 
of Lochbuy and Ardgour, by Macleod of Dunvegan, and 
others ; and it is not shown by anything the sennachies 
have recorded on the subject that one single act of bravery 
(a quality, when at all exhibited, they were ever fond of 
dwelling upon) was displayed upon these occasions by 
Lachlan Cattanach ; on the contrary, his pusillanimity is 
shown in very glaring colours on one or two occasions, when 
called to account for the rebellious doings in which he aided 
some, and to which he had led others. His first act of re- 
bellion was to favour the establishment of Sir Donald Mac- 
donald of Lochalsh as Lord of the Isles ; yet, when he 
himself was obliged to crave indemnity for the share he had 
taken therein, he did so in terms which it is unnecessary 
to characterize. Let his cowardly petition speak for itself : 


he seeks that two brothers of Sir Donald, who were 
originally acting in concert with him, but whom he had de- 
tained prisoners in the hope of ingratiating himself with his 
sovereign, whose power he now found to be pressing hard 
upon him, 'should be executed according to law, for pleasure 
and profit to the king and regent, and for stability of the 
country ' ; and that he himself would ' aid the Government 
in the purpose of destroying the wicked blood of Isles, for 
as long as that blood reigned the king could never have 
the Isles in peace '. Strange demands these for a man who 
was himself a prime agent in that very rebellion for which 
he wished others thus to suffer. His demands were numer- 
ous, but we find little else than the remission of offences to 
himself and those of his immediate followers conceded to 
him. He was in return obliged to promise restitution to 
the Earl of Argyll and Macdonald of Ardnamurchan for 
injuries done to their vassals, to become personally respon- 
sible for the chieftains lately in arms with him,and to give his 
oath of allegiance to the king and regent. Treacherous 
and pusillanimous as his conduct in these proceedings was, 
history might be tempted to offer something in excuse for 
him, were it not that his character, both public and private, 
is such as not to admit of a single palliative. He does not 
appear to have possessed one single redeeming quality. I 
do not find that he even possessed the negative virtue of 
being a brave tyrant." 

The execution of Sir Donald Gallda's two brothers, 
insisted upon by this brutal and treacherous chief of 
Maclean, was, it is supposed, ultimately carried out, though 
at first the Council were divided on the propriety of their 
execution. The majority, however, were in favour of the 
extreme sentence, while the minority wished to leave the 
ultimate decision to the regent ; but Gregory holds that 
" although it cannot positively be affirmed, there is reason 
to think that the opinion of the majority prevailed ". 

Maclean of Lochbuy and Alexander Macleod of Harris 
received remissions for themselves and for their followers 
on giving up hostages, but Macleod demanded in addition 


a heritable grant of the lands of Troternish. This was 
refused ; but he was continued a king's tenant as formerly. 
Mutual arrangements were made between the Earls of 
Huntly and Argyll as to the expulsion of the Clanchattan 
and the Highlanders of the Isles, in certain circumstances. 
Maclean of Duart appeared before the Council, and " gave 
his solemn oath of allegiance to the king and to the 
Regent ; binding himself at the same time to give his best 
assistance to Argyll, as Lieutenant of the Isles for the good 
government of these districts, and as far as lay in his power 
to observe the public peace and administer justice to all 
the king's lieges ". Sir Donald still continued at large, and in 
spite of the determined efforts made to capture him he 
managed to escape from his pursuers, and ultimately, by 
the aid of some of his old friends still powerful, to revenge 
the death of his father, Sir Alexander of Lochalsh, upon his 
hereditary enemy, Macian of Ardnamurchan. 

It will be remembered how vigorously John Macian sup- 
ported the Government of James IV., and that among his 
other exploits are recorded the apprehension of his rela- 
tive, Sir John Macdonald of Isla, and the assassination of 
another, Sir Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh. For these 
services he was well rewarded by James, and the favours 
then extended to him were continued by the regent after 
the king's death. He well knew that his unnatural conduct 
would never be forgiven by the children and kinsmen of the 
murdered chiefs, and that vengeance was only delayed until 
a fitting opportunity occurred. Macian, knowing all this, 
was naturally enough the first to join the Earl of Argyll in 
his expedition against the Islanders, after his return from 
the field of Flodden, and he uniformly continued steadfast 
in his opposition to Sir Donald and his party in the Isles. 
His lands suffered in consequence, and his life was eagerly 
sought for, not only by Sir Donald Gallda and his more 
immediate followers, but also by Alexander of Isla, who, 
although married to Macian's daughter, determined to 
revenge the assassination of his father and brothers upon 
their murderer. Soon after the submission of Maclean of 



Duart and Macleod of Dunvegan, Sir Donald Gallda, ably 
assisted by the Macleods of Lewis and Raasay, proceeded 
south to Ardnamurchan, where they met Alexander of Isla, 
and, with their united forces, they at once attacked Macian 
at a place called Creag-an-Airgid, or the Silver Craig, 
where he was defeated and slain, with his two sons, John 
Suaineartach and Angus, and a great number of their 
followers, shortly before the i8th of August, 1519.* 

Hugh Macdonald, the Sleat historian, after describing the 

assassination of Sir Alexander at Isle Ornsay, gives the 

following account of Donald Gallda's election as leader of 

the Islanders, and of the subsequent rebellious proceedings : 

" Now Donald Gauld, Alexander MacGillespig's son, was 

in a very low condition ; he had a dauvich of lands from his 

uncle Lovat. He gathered a great many necessaries, such 

as seed, &c., among the best men in Ross, for his being a 

great man's son. There was a common fellow in his 

company (named) Paul who gathered together his thigging 

in Ross. This man asked Donald Gauld what he meant 

to do with all the trash he was gathering. Donald Gauld 

answered, That mean and low as that was, he could do no 

better, and as it was God's will to reduce him to that low 

and despondent state, he ought to be content. Then, says 

Paul, if you will be advised by me, you will sell all your 

seed and thigging, for you will never raise yourself to any 

notice or respect by continuing a farmer ; therefore it is 

your interest to make money of all you have gathered, and 

hire as many men therewith as you can, to apprehend, in 

the first place, the Laird of Raisay, being the weakest and 

least powerful of all the Island Lairds, and after succeeding 

in this, you can act according to circumstances. This 

advice being followed, they came to the Isles, apprehending 

Raisay, to whom they communicated their intentions. 

Raisay goes along with them to the Lewis, and remained 

that night within the castle of Macleod of the Lewis. After 

that, Raisay had a consultation with his chief, the Laird of 

Lewis. It happened that night that a great many whales 

* Reg. of Privy Seal, vol. v., folio 139. 


ran ashore in the Bay of Stornoway. Macleod in the 
morning goes out to behold the diversion, and to kill them 
with broadswords. Donald Gauld and his company go out 
likewise. Raisay advised Donald Gauld, when Macleod 
began to strike at the whales to keep close at his heels to 
assist him : to which advice Donald invariably adhered. 
Macleod having gone home, asked what that young man 
was who assisted him in killing the whales. Being informed 
he was Donald Gauld, Macleod said it was reasonable and 
proper that he should be assisted to some honour and 

" After this Macleod of the Lewis and some others of 
the Islanders held a meeting at Kyleakin. Alexander of 
Kintyre came there for Donald Gruamach, son of Donald 
Gallich, to make him Lord of the Isles, and imparted his 
sentiments on the subject to Macleod. Macleod said he 
was willing that Donald Gruamach should be made Lord 
of the Isles, and that he was nearer related to him than 
Donald Gauld. Alexander of Kintyre had a double mean- 
ing in this offer. He well knew it did not belong to himself 
by right, and had a greater respect for Donald Gruamach, 
who had a greater right to that title, than for Donald 
Gauld, who, according to his opinion, was not so fit for the 
place, either by his actions or friendship ; besides, he did 
not wish to prefer Donald Gauld, he himself having a hand 
in his father's murder. Upon this, Macleod spoke to Donald 
Gruamach upon this subject, who answered, that it was a 
cause not very easily carried through ; that he doubted 
much the loyalty of the Islanders ; and that he would 
noways have a hand in that affair so long as Donald Du, 
Angus Ogg's son was alive. Alexander of Kintyre under- 
took this journey to create Donald Gruamach Lord of the 
Isles, fearing that if Donald Gauld succeeded he would 
revenge his father's death, of which he was a partaker. 
This Alexander of Kintyre being married to John of Ard- 
namurchan's daughter, was easily induced by his father-in- 
law to stand as heir, and to look for great honour and 
preferment, if Alexander MacGillespig was cut off. John 


of Ardnamurchan's purpose was to set them by the ears, in 
case he himself might get some of their lands to purchase. 
Donald Gruamach rejecting the offer made him of being 
created Lord of the Isles, the Macleods thought to make 
Donald Gauld Lord of them. With this intention, going to 
Morvern, where they met Maclean, Alexander of Kintyre 
being also in company, comporting with the times, because 
he formerly told his mind to these men, they proclaimed 
Donald Gauld Lord of the Isles. When Brayack of Ard- 
namurchan was desired to compear, Maclean sent him a 
private message not to come, to which he paid no atten- 
tion, but appeared, and was paid the same deference as any 
of the rest. As he sat in the tent, his son, John Sunoirtich, 
expressed his surprise that all the gentry of the Isles were 
called to Macdonald's tent, and he not treated as the rest. 
His father observed it was his own fault, by having a hand 
in Donald's father's death. His son said, if his advice was 
followed, they would attack Macdonald's tent ; but his 
father said they were too weak against Donald Gauld's 
party. In the meantime he ordered one of his men to look 
to the shore and see if his galley was afloat ; upon this 
there came a black sheep into the tent, and the person sent 
to see the galley came back with a salmon fish wanting an 
eye, telling him his boat was not afloat. John Brayack 
asked what was the place's name in which they were ? 
Being answered it was called Ballepaig, he said that three 
things had come to pass, of which the old woman who 
nursed him desired him to be aware, viz., the black sheep, 
the salmon with one eye, and Ballepaig, wherein she warned 
him never to remain a night ; and now, said he, the last 
period of my life must certainly be at hand. At that very 
moment one rushed out of Donald Gauld's tent, crying out, 
kill, and do not spare the MacEans ; which commands 
were instantly obeyed. MacEan fled for the space of a 
mile, but was overtaken by Mr. Allan Morrison, and killed 
by the Laird of Raisay. His son John was killed, together 
with a young son called Angus ; in short all of them that 
could be taken. This happened at a place called Craig-an- 


airgid. In the evening thereafter, Alexander of Kintyre, 
observing that the death of Donald's father was amply 
revenged, because it was John of Ardnamurchan that ap- 
prehended him ; but Donald Gauld said that his father's 
death was not yet fully revenged while Alexander, who was 
equally guilty with John Brayack, was in life. Alexander, 
hearing this, slipt away privately in the night time and left 
them. Donald Gauld after this went to Tyree, and died in 
the Inch of Teinlipeil, five weeks after he was proclaimed 
Lord of the Isles. Alexander of Kintyre and his two 
sons, one of whom was called John Cathanach, were after- 
wards, by the King's orders, hanged at the Borrowmuir, 
near Edinburgh, because, after the resignation of John of 
the Isles, they neither would take their rights from the 
King nor deliver up to him those lands which Macdonald 
had in Isla and Kintyre."* 

For some time previously measures had been taken to 
have Sir Donald forfeited for high treason, and when the 
new's of the slaughter of Macian of Ardnamurchan reached 
the Council, the Earl of Argyll strongly urged that a 
sentence of forfeiture should be pronounced against him as 
soon as the usual forms would admit In this, however, he 
did not succeed, whereupon he made a protest before 
Parliament that neither he, as Lieutenant, nor his heirs 
should in future be held responsible for any mischief that 
might follow on the refusal of his advice regarding the 
territory which had been committed to his care. He at the 
same time complained of not receiving certain supplies of 
men and money, previously promised to him by the regent, 
to carry on the king's service in the Isles. Gregory thinks 
" this last statement fully accounts for the length of time 
Sir Donald had been allowed to remain at large after the 
defection of so many of his adherents ; and it is difficult 
to say how much longer this state of things might have 
continued, had not his death, which took place some weeks 
after his success in Morvern, brought the rebellion, which 

* Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, pp. 321-324. 


had lasted with little intermission during upwards of five 
years, to a sudden close." 

In February, 1517-18, the Earls of Huntly and Argyll 
were both directed to proceed against " Donald His, rebel 
and traitor, and his complices". He was the last male 
representative of the family of Lochalsh, and died without 
issue before the i8th of August, 1519.* 

Leaving Donald Dubh still in captivity we shall go back 
some twenty years to pick up 


Brother of John, last Lord of the Isles and ancestor of the 
present Lord Macdonald of Sleat, and treat of the history 
of his house until Donald Dubh again emerges from 
his long imprisonment, and, in a second rebellion, com- 
pletely disarranges the schemes of the house of Sleat, and 
causes another period of disorder and chaos in the Isles 
which almost equalled in intensity those which have been 
already described. 

HUGH, FIRST OF SLEAT, was the the third son of Alex- 
ander, third Earl, and youngest brother of John fourth 
and last Earl, and of Celestine of Lochalsh. "f Very little 

* Register Privy Seal. 

fin Skene's "Celtic Scotland," vol. iii. , p. 298, we are told of Alexander, 
third Earl of Ross, that, " By his Countess Elizabeth, he had John, who succeeded 
him as Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles. By the daughter of Giollapadaraig, the 
last of the lay abbots of Applecross, and known to tradition as the Red Priest, with 
whom he obtained the lands of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and others, he had a son 
Hugh, to whom he gave the lands of Sleat in Skye ; and by the daughter of Mac- 
Dubhshithe or Macphee, of Lochaber, he had Celestine or Gillespic, to whom he 
gave the lands of Lochalsh." Dr. Skene has not given his authority, but we per- 
sume it is the following from Macdonald, the Sleat Historian, who, writing of 
Alexander, third Earl of Ross, says : First he took to him the concubine, daughter 
to Patrick Obeolan, surnamed the Red, who was a very beautiful woman. This 
surname, Obeolan, was the surnames of the Earls of Ross, till Farquhar born in Ross, 
was created Earl by King Alexander, and so carried the name of Ross since as best 
answering the English tongue. Patrick was an abbot, and had Carlbay in the Lewis, 
and the church lands in that country, with 18 merks lands in Lochbroom. He had 
two sons and a daughter. Patrick's daughter bore a son to Alexander, Lord of the 
Isles and Earl of Ross, who was called Austin, or, as others say, Augustine, (Hugh). 
She was twice brought before the King, as MacDonald could not be induced to 
part with her on occasion of her great beauty. The King said, that it was no 


is known of Hugh's history. In 1460, he made a raid into 
Orkney and ravaged the country, accompanied by William 
Macleod of Harris and "the young gentlemen of the Isles". 
His father, Earl Alexander, was for some cause taken 
prisoner to Edinburgh, and while there he dined with the 
Earl of Orkney, when "some sort of pudding was laid 
before them," apparently containing suet or other fatty 
substance. Hugh Macdonald, and the author of the Mac- 
vurich MS., are the only writers who notice this expedition, 
which, will be seen, was of considerable importance, 
though it originated in a boasting frolic between the 
two chiefs : " Macdonald pressed the Earl of Orkney to 
eat (the pudding), who said he would not eat light. 
Macdonald replied, that as he himself was not used to such 
light, he would eat of it. The Earl of Orkney asked what 
sort of light was wont to be burnt in his presence. Mac- 
donald turning about, and seeing Lauchlane Maclean 
behind him, desired the earl to inquire at that man stand- 
ing. Maclean said there was no other light but wax burnt 
before Macdonald. Upon this subject they discoursed 
until such time as the Earl of Orkney invited Macdonald 
to breakfast with him next morning. Macdonald invited 
the Earl of Orkney rather to breakfast with him, who 
answered that his breakfast would be sooner ready. Mac- 
donald said, not so. Wagers being laid, and pledges 
given on both sides, in the night time the Earl of Orkney 
sent twelve men through the town, desiring that none 
should dress or make meat ready for Macdonald that 
night, and likewise should supply him with no fuel for 
firing early in the morning. Maclean, getting up by times 
next day, could get no fuel, and remembered what 
happened the preceding night between the Earl of Orkney 
and his own master, whereupon he cut so many bows in 
their company, of which he made fire, and prepared a 
venison breakfast. Orkney being disappointed when 
called to breakfast with Macdonald, and much incensed, 

wonder that such a fair damsel had enticed MacDonald. At last by the King's per- 
suasion, he married Margaret Livingston, daughter to Sir Alexander Livingston, the 
Regent, who bore to him John, and other two who died in their infancy. 


said to Macdonald, Do you think to equal or cope with 
me in power and authority? Macdonald said he had a 
young son at home, who would be his equal and match in 
full, and would undertake to harass his country, if he 
himself would procure liberty from the king. The Earl of 
Orkney said, if Macdonald would undertake to fulfil his 
engagements, he would procure the king's leave. These 
promises being ratified, they went home. At this time 
Macdonald gave the Isle of Tyree to Maclean, and sent his 
son Austine (Hugh), with all the young heritors of lands, 
to harass the Orkney inhabitants, who expected and waited 
for their arrival, and had encamped in a little promontory 
pointing out in the sea, thinking the Islanders would land 
there, and be defeated on their landing. But Austine took 
another course ; for there was another point directly 
opposite to that in which the people of Orkney were 
encamped, separated by a long arm of the sea ; here he 
landed his men. The Orcadians had to go round the head 
of this bay before they could come at their enemies. At 
first they came on furiously, but, being as bravely resisted, 
they fell back in confusion, on which a great slaughter 
ensued, for the common people there are said to be no 
great warriors, whatever their gentry are. One of their 
best soldiers, called Gibbon, was killed. The Earl of 
Orkney himself was killed, single-handed, by one of William 
Macleod of Harris's men, called Murdo MacCotter, who 
was afterwards Maclean's ensign-bearer. Having routed 
the enemy, Austine and his party began to ravage the 
country, that being the only reward they had for their pains 
and fatigue ; with which, having loaded their galleys (they) 
returned home. Austine having halted at Caithness, he 
got a son by the Crowner of Caithness's daughter, of the 
name of Gun, which at that time was a very flourishing 
name there, descended of the Danes. The son was called 
Donald Gallich, being brought up in that county in his 
younger years ; for the ancient Scots, until this day, call 
the county of Caithness Gallibh."* 

* Transactions of the lona Club, pp. 306-307. 


Hugh Macdonald, the first of the family of Sleat, has a 
charter under the Great Seal, dated roth November, 1495, 
as follows : " Hugoni Alexandri de Insulis, Domino de 
Slete, fratri Joannis de Yle, Comitis Rossiae, et heredibus 
suis masculis inter ipsum Hugonem et Fynvolam, Alexandri 
Joannis de Ardnamurchan, legitime seu illegitime procreatis 
seu procreandis, ac ipsorum legitimis heredibus, quibus 
omnibus deficientibus heredibus suis masculis post mortem 
praefatae Fynvolaj, inter ipsum Hugonem, et quam cunque 
aliam mulierem de concilio dicti Comitis, viz. Donaldi de 
Insulis Domini Dunnowaig et de Glynnis, Celestini de 
Insulis de Lochalche, Lachlani Macgilleoni de Doward, et 
Alexandri Joannis de Ardnamurchan, quibus deficientibus 
tune de concilio ipsorum heredum vel ipsius deficientis 
heredis, electam super cartam sibi factam per dictum 
Joannem de Yle, Comitem Rossiae et Dominum Insularum, 
de data 28 Junii 1449, testibus Donaldo de Insulis, Domino 
de Dunnowaig et de Glynnis, Celestino de Insulis de Loch- 
alche, fratre dicti Comitis, Lachlano Macgilleon, Domino de 
Doward, Joanne Macgilleon de Lochboyg, Lachlano juvente 
Magilleon, Magistro de Doward, Willielmo Macloyd de 
Glenelg, Roderico Macleod de Leoghys, Alexandra Joannis 
de Ardnamurchan, Joanne Lachlani Magilleon de Colla, et 
Thoma de Mora, secretario dicti Comitis ac rectore de Kil- 
manawik, terris triginta mercarum de Skerehowg, duodecim 
mere de Benbecila, denariatam de Gergremyniss ex parte 
boreale de Uist, duab. den. de Scolpic, quatuor den. de 
Gremynes, duab. den. de Talawmartin, sex den. de Oroin- 
saig, dim. den. de Wanylis, et dim. den. de insula Gillegerve, 
una cum terris viginti octo mercarum de Slete, jacen. in domi- 
nio Insularum, tenend. de dicto Joanne de Yle."* It will 
be observed that by this charter the lands named were to 
go to the descendants of Hugh of Sleat and Finvola of 
Ardnamurchan, legitimate or illegitimate. 

Having died in 1498, the same year in which his brother 
John, fourth and last Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, 
died, Hugh of Sleat cannot be reckoned even one of the 

* Wood's Douglas's Peerage, vol. ii., pp. n-ia ; Reg. Great Seal, xiii., 150. 



chiefs of this line of Macdonald. He never did succeed to 
that honour. In addition to Sleat, which he occupied during 
the life of his father, we have seen that by the charter of 
1495, already quoted, he also possessed lands in Uist and 
Benbecula, but during the rule of his immediate successor, 
the latter are granted by Precept, dated 23d of August 
1505, to Ranald Macdonald of Clanranald.* 

Hugh Macdonald, progenitor of the family of Sleat, mar- 
ried, first, Finvola, daughter of Alexander Macian of Ard- 
namurchan, with issue, one son 

1. John, who succeeded. 

He is said to have married, secondly, a daughter of Gunn, 
Crowner of Caithness, by whom he had a son 

2. Donald Gallach, who succeeded his half brother John. 
He had also a son 

3. Donald Herrach, by a daughter of Maclcod of Harris, 
progenitor of the Macdonalds of Balranald and others in 
the Western Isles, who is said to have been illegitimate. 

4. Archibald, or Gillespic DubJi, a natural son, and a 
most desperate character. 

Hugh died in 1498, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Known as "John Huchonson," who is instructed by two 
charters, the one to Ranald MacAllan, of Clanranald, of 
lands in Uist, and of some lands which belonged to John's 
father, Hugh of Sleat, held by Ranald of John, Lord of the 
Isles, " on the resignation of John Huchounson, of Sleit, son 
and heir of the said deceased Hugh," dated 5th of August, 
1498, the same year in which John succeeded to them on 
the death of his father. The other charter is in favour of 
"Angus Rewathson Makranald, of the lands of Arrassaik, 
Keppath," and others, also on the resignation of John. 

He is among those who submitted to the King at Min- 
garry Castle, Ardnamurchan, in 1495, while his father was 
yet alive. 

* Privy Seal, vol iii. , folio 15. 


He died, in 1502, without issue, and was succeeded as 
representative of the family, by his half brother, 


Known as Donald "Gallach". The strict legitimacy of this 
chief has been considered doubtful ; and no record of any 
formal marriage by his father, to the daughter of Gunn, 
Crowner of Caithness, can be found. Even the family 
historian, Hugh Macdonald, who never hesitated to bas- 
tardise the descendants of other branches of the Mac- 
donalds when necessary to glorify his own chief, does not 
say that there was a formal marriage in this case, and 
such was hardly possible in the circumstances which he 
describes. Indeed his MS., already quoted (p. 152), 
is strong evidence the other way. The fact that his brother 
John made over all his possessions to Clanranald past his 
half-brother, has been held as strong presumptive evidence 
against his father's marriage. In any case Donald appears 
to have had neither possessions nor influence, whatever may 
have been the reason. Gregory says that John, the eldest 
son of Hugh, having no issue himself, and having probably 
quarrelled with his brothers, made over all his estates to 
the Clanranald ; as well as those estates which had been 
claimed and forcibly occupied by that clan as those which 
had remained in his own hands.* The rest of the Clan- 
huistein, on John's death, were thus left without any legal 
rights to any landed property in the Isles ; and being, 
moreover, viewed with jealousy by the Government, owing 
to their propinquity to the last Lord of the Isles, they were 
in a manner forced to become rebels. Donald Gallach, 
their leader, was, with another of the brothers, murdered 
by their own bastard brother, Archibald, or Gillespick 
Dubh, an unprincipled and ambitious man, whose atroci- 
ties seem to have been winked at by the Government, on 
the ground, probably, that his brothers were proclaimed 

* Reg. of Great Seal, xiii. , 336-7 ; xiv. , 141. John Huchonson had no brothers- 


rebels whom it was desirable to exterminate. This 
happened about the year 1 506 ; and Archibald, the fratri- 
cide, having endeavoured to seize the lands of Sleat, was 
expelled from the North Isles by Ranald Allanson, the heir 
of Moydart, to whom Sleat had been made over by John 
Huchonson, the last legal possessor. Taking refuge in the 
South Isles, where he joined himself to a band of pirates, 
Archibald, after a time, procured his own pardon, by 
delivering up to justice some of his lawless associates.* 
He then returned to Skye, and, being a man of ability, 
seized the command of his tribe, and exercised the office 
of Bailie of the extensive district of Trouterness ; his right 
to which, however acquired, was recognised by Govern- 
ment in iSio.f 

It will be in the recollection of the reader that it was 
during the rule of the two last mentioned chiefs of Sleat, 
John Hughson and Donald Gallach, 1501 to 1506, that the 
first rebellion of the Islanders under Donald Dubh took 
place, and both, with all the other vassals of the Lordship 
of the Isles, acknowledged his claim, and supported him in 
his attempts to regain its ancient possessions. In 1506, 
the same year in which Donald was captured and im- 
prisoned in Edinburgh Castle, Donald Gallach, was mur- 
dered by his bastard brother, Gillespic Dubh,i and during 
the whole of this period there is not a tittle of evidence 
to show that they ever claimed a right to lead the vassals 
of the Lordship of the Isles. On the contrary they fol- 
lowed Donald Dubh ; while their lands were in possession 
of Clanranald. 

Donald Gallach married a daughter of John (Cathanach) 
Macdonald of Isla and the Glynns, ancestors of the Earls 
of Antrim, with issue. 

I. Donald, his heir. 

* Hugh Macdonald's MS. ; Reg. of Privy Seal, iii. , fo. 161. The pardon was 
granted on the intercession of Argyll. 

(Highlands and Isles, pp. 107-8; Reg. Great Seal, iv., fol. 70; Hugh Mac- 
donald's MS. 

} For full particulars of this murder and the violent character of Gillespic Dubh, 
see the " Family of Balranald ". 


2. Archibald, the Clerk, and, 

3. Alexander. The last two are named in the Remission 
for the burning of Islandonian Castle in 1539.* He was 
succeeded by his eldest son, 


Known among the Highlanders as " Domhnull Gruamach 
Mac Dhomh'uill Ghallaich ". During the life of this chief 
the usual feuds and slaughters continued rampant in the 
Isles, but they did not extend to the rest of the kingdom. 
Donald's position appears all through to have been of 
a very subordinate character among the Island chiefs, and 
hardly anything is known of his early history. King James 
V., had been for several years during his minority in the 
power and under the influence of the Earl of Angus and 
the Douglases, and it was only in 1528, in the seventeenth 
year of his age, that he was able to extricate himself from 
their control, when the policy of the Government, especially 
towards the Isles, underwent a very considerable change. 
For this period we are totally in the dark as to the history 
of the family of Sleat. One of the first Acts passed by 
the Privy Council after the release of the king is one 
dated I2th November, 1528, bearing that certain persons 
in the Lordship of the Isles, during the supremacy of the 
Douglases, obtained new titles to land there which might 
" turn to the great skaith of his majesty, both in respect to 
his own proper lands and his casualties, without the same 
be wisely considered and foreseen to be for the good of his 
Grace and realm ". These grants were made by the Earl 
of Angus, no doubt with the view of securing adherents in 
the Isles ; but on the assumption of power by the king, 
they were declared null and void, while it was, at the same 
time, provided that, in future, no lands should be bestowed 
in the West Highlands and Islands without the advice of 
the Privy Council and of the Earl of Argyll the king's 
Lieutenant in the Isles, " because it is understood, by the 
* Origines Parochiales Scotiae. 


king, that the said lands, or the most part thereof, are his 
own proper lands, or in his hands, through forfeiture, escheit, 
or non-entries."* 

In the same year, serious disturbances again broke out 
in the North and South Isles. Those in the North 
originated in a feud between the Macdonalds and the 
Macleods of Harris and Dunvegan about the lands and 
office of Bailliary of Troternish in the Isle of Skye : 
To understand this feud properly, says Gregory, it will be 
necessary to trace, with some care, the history of the 
district in question. By a charter under the Great Seal, in 
August, 1498, the office of Bailliary, with two untiates of 
the lands of Trouterness, was confirmed to Alexander 
Macleod of Dunvegan as having been formerly held by 
him under the Lord of the Isles; and as being then in the 
hands of the Crown, by the last forfeiture of that noble- 
man.f Two months later, another charter passed the 
Great Seal, granting the same office, and eight merks of 
the lands, to Torquil Macleod of the Lewis, on precisely 
similar grounds.^ Both of these charters seemed to have 
been rendered null by the general revocation in 1498, or 
1499, already alluded to. In 1505 the eighty merk lands 
of Trouterness were let, by the Commissioners of the 
Crown, for three years, to Ranald Bane Allanson of 
Moydart ; the Earl of Huntly being surety for the pay- 
ment of the rent by the latter. In 1510, Archibald Dubh, 
the bloodstained captain of Clanhuistein, was acting as 
Baillie of Trouterness, and a letter was directed under the 
Privy Seal to the tenants of Trouterness in his favour. || 
Ranald Bane of Moydart was executed at Perth in 1513 ; 

* Transactions of the lona Club, p. 155. 

t Reg. of Great Seal, xiii., 305. 

% Ibid, xiii., 377. 

Reg. of Crown Rentals, ad tempus. 

II Reg. of Privy Seal, iv., fo. 70. In the same year, at the Justicealre held at 
Inverness, precept of remission, dated 4th July, is issued to Gillespic Dhu, Baillzie 
of Troternish, and others, John MacGille Martin, and 63 others, for common 
oppression of the lieges, and for resetting, supplying, and intercommuning with 
the king's rebels, and also for fire-raising. Invernessiantt, p. 193. 


and Archibald Dubh soon afterwards met with the fate he 
deserved, being killed by his nephews, the sons of his 
murdered brothers.* Macleod of Dunvegan, who seems to 
have been principal crown tenant of Trouterness some 
time before 1517, had his lease continued from that year 
until the majority of James V. Under the government of 
the Earl of Angus, Dunvegan appears to have obtained 
also an heritable grant of the lands of Sleat and North 
Uist ; and thus became additionally exposed to the 
hostility of the Clanhuistein of Sleat, who were now under 
the command of Donald Gruamach. The latter chief sought 
the assistance of his uterine brother, John MacTorquil 
Macleod (son of Torquil Macleod of the Lews, forfeited 
in 1506, and nephew of Malcom, the present Lord of 
Lewis), a man, like himself, without legal inheritance of 
any kind, in order to expel Dunvegan and his clan from 
Trouterness. In this they were successful, as well as in 
preventing him putting in force his new charter to Sleat 
and North Uist. Trouterness was again occupied by the 
Clanhuistein ; and John MacTorquil, taking advantage of 
the opportunity afforded by the death of his uncle, and 
the minority of the son of the latter, and aided by Donald 
Gruamach and his followers, seized the whole barony of 
Lewis, which, with the command of the Siol Torquil, he 
held during his life.f 

The Clandonald of Isla were among those rewarded by 
the Earl of Angus with grants of some of the lands which 
had reverted to the Crown after the forfeiture of the 
Lordship of the Isles. The same policy had been adopted 
towards Hector Mor, chief of the Macleans of Duart. 
These grants were now, however, declared null and void ; 
the Earl of Argyll being foremost in pressing the Council 
to this act of bad faith, no doubt anticipating that the 
result might almost to a certainty lead to the lands being 
ultimately conferred upon himself. The Macleans panted 

Hugh Macdonald's MS. 

t Acts of the Lords of Council, xxxix., fo. 159 ; xli., fo. 79. Acts of Parliament, 
>' 333- sir R - Gordon's History of the Family of Sutherland, p. 263. 


for an opportunity to avenge the death of their late chief, 
Lachlan Cattanach, on the Campbells of Argyll, and the 
combined followers of Macdonald of Isla and Maclean of 
Duart made a descent upon Roseneath, Craignish, and 
other lands belonging to the Campbells, ravaging them 
with fire and sword, and putting many of the inhabitants 
mercilessly to death. The Campbells retaliated by laying 
waste a great part of Mull and Tiree, as well as the lands 
of Morvern on the mainland. The insurrection had pro- 
ceeded to such a height that Sir John Campbell of Calder, 
"on behalf of his brother, the Earl of Argyll, demanded 
from the Council powers of an extraordinary nature to 
enable him to restore the peace of the country," in which 
was included, among other demands, one to the effect that 
all the able-bodied householders in the shires of Dumbarton 
and Renfrew, and in the Bailliaries of Carrick, Kyle, and 
Cunningham, should meet the Earl at Lochranza, in Arran, 
with provisions for twenty days, to aid him in the subjection 
of the Islanders. This request was refused by the Council, 
on the plea that, being harvest time, it would be most 
injurious to those districts, "but they gave directions for a 
cannon, with two falconets, and three barrels of gun- 
powder, under the charge of two gunners, and as many 
carpenters, to be forwarded to Dumbarton for the use of 
the Earl, in case he should find it necessary to besiege any 
of the ' strengths ' of the Isles. At the same time they 
determined upon sending a herald of 'wisdom and discre- 
tion ' to Alexander of Isla, with directions, in the first 
instance, to summon him and his followers to lay down 
their arms, under pain of treason ; and, if he found them 
disposed to be obedient, the herald was then authorised 
to treat with that chief about his coming under protection, 
to wait upon the king and state his grievances in person, 
being prepared to give hostages (Lowlanders) for his 
obedience, and for his payment of the rents and duties of 
such lands as might be assigned to him by his sovereign." 
The herald was a pursuivant named Robert Hart, who, in 
the course of about a month, reported to the Council that 


Alexander Macdonald of Isla proved contumacious, when 
directions were at once given to Argyll to proceed against 
the rebels of the Isles and reduce them to obedience. 
During the first six months little or no success was 
secured, but in the spring of 1538 preparations were made 
on a more extensive scale to compel the obedience of 
the rebel chiefs. The " tenants " of the Isles were sum- 
moned to the king's presence upon the 24th of May " t< > 
commune with his Majesty for the good rule of the Isles," 
and they were at the same time prohibited from giving any 
assistance to the rebels, and from " convocating the king's 
lieges in arms" under pain of treason. A large force 
from the southern counties was to join Argyll, the king's 
lieutenant, under high penalties, and to continue their ser- 
vice under him " for a month" ; while the burghs of Ayr, 
Irvine, Glasgow, Renfrew, and Dumbarton were to send 
their boats with provisions for the army, for which, however, 
they were to receive payment. Any of the Islesmen afraid 
to trust themselves in the low country on their way to the 
king were offered protection while on their way to Court, 
and for thirty days additional, to enable them to return 
home in safety. 

These proceedings had the desired effect on some of the 
leading Island chiefs, nine of whom sent in offers of sub- 
mission to the king through one of their number, Hector 
Maclean of Duart. Among them we find Donald Gruamach 
Macdonald of Sleat. Their names are : Hector Maclean 
of Doward, John Maclean of Lochbuy, John Moydartach, 
captain of Clanranald ; Alexander Macian of Ardnamur- 
chan, Alexander Macleod of Harris (Dunvegan), the Laird 
of Coll (Maclean), John Macleod of the Lewis, and Donald 
Gruamach of Dunskaich. These were all promised protec- 
tion against Argyll, and any others, on condition that they 
should meet the king at Edinburgh, or anywhere else 
where he might be holding his Court, before the 2Oth of 
June following, and remain there so long as he should 
require them to do so. The protection was to continue 
for twenty-one days after their departure from Court, to 



enable them to reach their homes in safety. The king 
at the same time agreed to procure from Argyll ample 
hostages to secure their absolute safety going and return- 
ing. These were to be Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, 
Archibald Campbell of Auchinbrcck, Archibald Campbell 
of Skipnish, and Duncan Campbell of Ilangcrig, all of whom 
were to be confined in the Castle of Edinburgh. Owing to 
the death of the Earl of Argyll in this year nothing, how- 
ever, was done, but in the following year it was resolved 
finally that the king should proceed in person against the 
Islanders on the first of June. The whole southern array 
of Scotland were to meet him, with forty days' provisions, at 
Ayr, on that day, to accompany him to the Isles, while the 
whole array of the northern counties were ordered to meet 
James, Earl of Murray, the king's natural brother and lieu- 
tenant of the North, at Kintail, or anywhere else he might 
appoint, to proceed against the Islanders under his directions. 
And, finally, a parliament was summoned to meet at Edin- 
burgh on the 24th of April to pass sentence of forfeiture 
against any Islesmen who should still continue disobedient. 
Seeing the magnitude of the preparations made for the 
Royal expedition, Macdonald of Isla, and Maclean of 
Duart, having first received a protection and safeguard, 
went to the king at Stirling, and made their submission on 
certain conditions which were considered satisfactory, and 
agreed to. These chiefs having been the leaders of the in- 
surrection, it was now considered unnecessary to lead the 
expedition to the Isles by the king in person, and the 
command was handed over to the Earls of Murray and 
Argyll. Macdonald of Isla promised to enforce the collec- 
tion of the royal rents from the crown lands of the Isles ; 
to support the dignity and respect of the revenues of the 
church ; and to maintain the authority of the laws, and the 
inviolability of private property. Under these conditions 
he and his vassals were reinstated in the lands which they 
had forfeited by their recent rebellions.* Macdonald's 
revelations at Court "were such that Argyll was deprived of 

* Tytler's Scotland. 


his lieutenancy, and even for a time imprisoned, and the 
crown took the government of the Isles and West High- 
lands into its own hands, an arrangement which made it 
necessary to take John of Isla and other chiefs into confi- 
dential communication with the government The lieu- 
tenancy which had been held by the house of Argyll was 
not transferred to another. Certain engagements were 
taken by John of Isla and others which seemed to render 
such a high officer unnecessary. On the vital question 
of the money interests of the crown in these districts, the 
Council were satisfied with obligations by the chiefs to 
collect and forward the feudal duties of the crown and the 
ecclesiastical taxes."* 

Macdonald of Isla appears at this period to have been 
leader of all the Macdonalds ; but Donald Gruamach of 
Sleat, though not the leader, seems all through to have 
taken a prominent share in the warlike proceedings of the 
clan. Like most other chiefs of his time, he could handle 
the sword better than the pen. A bond of offence and 
defence between Sir John Campbell of Cawdor, Hector 
Mackintosh, captain of Clan Chattan ; Hector Munro 
of Fowlis, Hugh Ross of Kilravock, and " Donald His of 
Slate," entered into at Inverness, on the3Oth of April, 1527, 
is given in extenso by Mr. Charles Eraser-Mackintosh, F.S.A. 
Scotf The last signature upon it is " Donald lies of Slate, 
with my hand at the pen" guided by Sir William Munro, 
notary public. " It is after and from him," continues Mr. 
Eraser-Mackintosh, " that the family of Sleat, now repre- 
sented by Lord Macdonald, had the Patronymic in Gaelic 
of ' Macdhomhnuill nan Eilean,' or Macdonald of the Isles, 
to distinguish his family from other branches. It has been 
alleged that neither this Donald, nor his contemporary and 
namesake, Ian Muidcartach, were of legitimate descent." 

Donald Gruamach married Margaret, daughter of Mac- 
donald of Moydart, by whom he had issue 
I. Donald, his heir. 

*John Hill Burton's History of Scotland, vol. in., p. 149, 1876 edition. 
( Invcrnessiana, p. 303. 


2. James, from whom descended the Macdonalds of 

Kingsburgh, whom see. 

He died in 1534, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 



Who soon after claimed for his family, and in his own per- 
son, the ancient honours of his ancestors, the Lordship of 
the Isles, and the Earldom of Ross. In 1535, we find him 
writing a letter, in Latin, dated 5th August, to King Henry 
VIII., in which he styles himself " Donaldus Rossie Comes 
et Insularem Scotie Dominus ". Regarding this claim 
Gregory says that " many of the Islanders still regarded 
Donald Dubh, for whose sake their fathers had risen in 
rebellion in 1 503, as the proper heir ; but the lengthened 
captivity of this hapless chief, joined to the doubts of his 
legitimacy, which were countenanced by the government, 
contributed to bring forward another claimant. This was 
Donald Gorm of Sleat, the son and successor of Donald 
Gruamach. The talents of the father had done much to 
raise the Clandonald, or Clanhuistein of Sleat from the 
depressed state into which they had fallen, owing to con- 
fiscations and internal dissensions ; and the power of the 
son was much increased by his marriage with the heiress of 
John MacTorquil Macleod. That chief, the representative 
of an elder, though forfeited branch of the family of Lewis, 
had, as we have seen, obtained possession of the estates and 
leading of his tribe; and, although he did not hold these by 
any legal title, the claims of his daughter, after his death, 
were far from contemptible, especially when supported by 
the influence of Clandonald. A compromise seems to have 
been entered into between Donald Gorm and Ruari 
Macleod, the legal heir of the Lewis. Ruari Macleod was 
allowed to enter into possession of the estate of Lewis, as 
formerly held by Malcolm Macleod, his father, and the last 
lawful possessor. In return for such an important conces- 
sion on the part of the chief of Sleat, the other became 


bound to assist in putting Donald Gorm in possession of 
Troutcrncss, against all the efforts of the chief of Dunvegan 
and his tribe, the Siol Tormod, who had again contrived to 
seize that district. It is probable too, that Macleod agreed 
to co-operate with him in his endeavours to obtain the 
Earldom of Ross and Lordship of the Isles, to which, 
indeed, on the supposition of the illegitimacy of Donald 
Dubh, and setting aside the forfeiture, Donald Gorm was 
heir male. This was the foundation of a conspiracy which 
soon embraced a majority of the Island chiefs, and was 
only extinguished by the death of Donald Gorm, and the 
active measures adopted by the king. It is probable that 
Argyll's loss of influence may have led the Islanders to ex- 
pect that their object was to be obtained by favour of the 
crown ; but, if so, they were disappointed, and their disap- 
pointment caused them to attempt seizing by force what 
they could not compass by other means. 

In the month of May this year (1539), Trouterness was 
invaded and laid waste by Donald Gorm, and his allies of 
the Siol Torquil, as we find from a complaint laid against 
them by Alexander Macleod of Dunvegan.* From Skyc, 
taking advantage of the absence of Mackenzie of Kin- 
tail, who was opposed to his pretentions, Donald Gorm 
passed over into Ross-shire, where, after ravaging the 
district of Kenlochewe, he proceeded to Kintail with the 
intention of surprising Mackenzie's castle of Islandonain. 
This fortress was at the time almost destitute of a garrison, 
and had the insurgents succeeded in their attempt, a for- 
midable rebellion in the Isles would have been the con- 
sequence. But their leader trusting to the weakness of the 
castle, and exposing himself rashly under the walls of the 
castle, received a wound in the foot, from an arrow shot by 

* Books of Adjournal, i6th December, 1539. "Tradition relates that the allies 
followed the Siol Tormod to Skaebost, where a battle was fought at a place called 
Achnafala (the field of blood), and that several heads that had been cut off in the 
fray floated by the river Snizort into the yair at the mouth of the river, hence still 
called, Coirre-nam-ceauH, the yair of the heads. The family residence of the chiefs 
of the Macdonalds was shortly thereafter transferred from the ancient castle of 
Dunskaich to the strong and commodious Castle of Duntulm in Troternish. " Ca- 
meron'-: History and Traditions of the Isle of Stye. 


the Constable of the Castle, which proved fatal ; for, not 
observing the arrow was barbed, the enraged chief pulled it 
hastily out of the wound, by which an artery was severed ; 
and the medical skill of his followers could devise no means 
of checking the effusion of blood which necessarily followed. 
They conveyed him to an islet out of reach of the castle, 
where a temporary hut was constructed, in which this ill- 
fated representative of the Lords of the Isles closed his 
short career. The spot where he died is still pointed out, 
and receives from the natives the name of " Larach tigh 
Mhic Dhonuill"; or, " the site of Macdonald's house ". Dis- 
couraged by this event, the insurgents returned to Skye, 
after burning all the boats belonging to the Kintail men 
they could find.* 

John Mackenzie, IX. of Kintail, it appears, supported 
Maclcod in his contentions with Macdonald, and this was 
the cause of Donald Gorm's raid upon Kenlochewe and 
Kintail. The following account is taken from Macken- 
zie's " History and Genealogies of the Clan Mackenzie" 
" Donald Gorm Mor Macdonald of Sleat laid waste the 
country of Macleod of Dunvegan, an ally of Mackenzie, 
after which he passed over, in 1539, to the mainland and 
pillaged the lands of Kenlochewe, where he killed Miles or 
Maolmuire, son of Finlay Dubh MacGillechriost MacRath, 
at the time governor of Islandonain Castle. Finlay was 
a very ' pretty man,' and the writer of the Genealogy of 
the Macras informs us that ' the remains of a monument 
erected for him, in the place where he was killed, is still 
(1704) to be seen '. Kintail was naturally much exasper- 
ated at this unprovoked raid upon his territory, as also for 
Macdonald's attack upon his friend and ally, Macleod of 
Dunvegan ; and to punish Donald Gorm, he despatched 
his son, Kenneth, with a force to Skye, who made ample 
reprisals in Macdonald's country, killing many of his fol- 
lowers and at the same time exhibiting great intrepidity 
and sagacity. Donald Gorm almost immediately made an 
incursion into Mackenzie's territories of Kintail, where he 

* Highlands and Isles, pp. 143-146. 


killed Sir (Rev.) Dougald Mackenzie, 'one of the Pope's 
knights ' ; whereupon Kenneth, younger of Kintail, paid a 
second visit to the Island, wasting the country ; and on his 
return Macdonald, learning that Islandonain was garrisoned 
by a very weak force under the new governor, John Dubh 
Matheson of Fernaig, who had married Sir Dugald Mac- 
kenzie's widow made another raid upon it, with fifty 
birlinns or large boats full of his followers, with the inten- 
tion of surprising the small garrison, and taking the castle 
by storm. The gallant defenders consisted at the time of 
only the governor, his watchman, and Duncan Mac- 
Gillechriost Mac Fhionnladh MacRath, a nephew of Maol- 
muire killed in the last incursion of the Island Chief. The 
advance of the boats was, however, noticed in time by the 
sentinel or watchman, who at once gave the alarm to the 
country people, but they arrived too late to prevent the 
enemy from landing. Duncan MacGillechriost was on the 
mainlaind at the time ; but, flying back with all speed, he 
arrived at the postern of the stronghold in time to kill 
several of the Islesmen in the act of landing ; and enter- 
ing the castle, he found no one there but the governor and 
watchman ; almost immediately, Donald Gorm Mor furi- 
ously attacked the gate, but without success ; the brave trio 
having strongly secured it by a second barrier of iron with- 
in a few steps of the outer defences. Unable to procure 
access, the Islesmen were driven to the expedient of 
shooting their arrows through the embrazures, and in this 
way they succeeded in killing the governor. 

"Duncan now found himself, except the watchman, sole 
defender of the castle ; and worse still, he found his am- 
munition reduced to a single barbed arrow, which he wisely 
determined to husband until an opportunity occurred by 
which he could make good use of it. Macdonald at this 
stage ordered his boats round to the point of the Airds, and 
was personally reconnoitring with the view of discovering 
the weakest part of the wall wherein to effect a breach. 
Duncan considered this a favourable opportunity, and aim- 
ing his arrow at Donald Gorm, it struck him and penetrated 


his foot through the master vein. Macdonald, not having 
perceived that the arrow was a barbed one, instantly 
wrenched it out, and, in so doing, separated the main artery. 
Notwithstanding that every available means were used, it 
was found impossible to stop the bleeding, and his men 
conveyed him out of the range of the fort to a spot a sand 
bank on which he died, called to this day, ' Larach Tigh 
Mhic Dhomhnuill,' or the site of Macdonald's house, where 
the haughty Lord of Sleat ended his career. The Islesmen 
burnt all they could find ashore in Kintail, which is con- 
firmed by the following: In 1539, Donald Gorm of Sleat 
and his allies, after laying waste Trouterness in Skye and 
Kenlochew in Ross, attempted to take the castle of Eilean- 
donain, but Donald being killed by an arrow shot from the 
wall, the attempt failed.* In 1541, King James V. granted 
a remission to Donald's accomplices namely, Archibald 
His, alias Archibald the Clerk, Alex. MacConnell Gallich, 
John Dow Donaldsoun, and twenty-six others whose 
names will be found in the ' Origines Parochiales,' p. 394, 
vol. ii., for their treasonable fire-raising and burning of the 
' Castle of Allanedonnand ' and of the boats there, for the 
' Herschip ' of Kenlochew and Trouterness, &c." )* 

Douglas says that Donald Gorm married Margaret 
daughter of Roderick Macleod of Lewis, while Gregory, a 
much more reliable authority, says that he married "the 
heiress of John MacTorquil Macleod, the representative of 
an elder, though forfeited, branch of the family of Lewis," 
who " had obtained possession of the estates and leading 
of his tribe " for a time, and who was a nephew of Malcolm 
Macleod, Lord of Lewis, at the period of which we write. 
By this marriage he left a son, 


Sixth of Sleat, who, at the time of his father's death, in 1 539, 
was a minor of tender years, under the tutorship or guar- 

* Gregory, pp. 145-146. Border Minstrelsy. Anderson, p. 283. Reg. Sec. 
Sig., vol. xv., fol. 46. 

( History of the Mackenzies, pp. 106-108. 


dianship of his grand uncle, Archibald His, or the Clerk. 
In the following year, 1540, the king determined upon an 
imposing voyage with the royal fleet to the Western Isles, 
the preparations for and the progress of which is thus des- 
cribed by Tytler : " He now meditated an important 
enterprise, and only waited the confinement of the queen 
to carry it into effect. The remoter portions of his kingdom, 
the northern counties, and the Western and Orkney Islands, 
had, as we have already seen, been greviously neglected 
during his minority ; they had been torn by the contentions 
of hostile clans ; and their condition, owing to the incursions 
of the petty chiefs and pirate adventurers who infested these 
seas, was deplorable. This the monarch now resolved to 
redress, by a voyage conducted in person, and fitted out 
upon a scale which had not before been attempted by any of 
his predecessors. A fleet of twelve ships was assembled, 
amply furnished with artillery, provided for a lengthened 
voyage, and commanded by the most skilful mariners in 
his dominions. Of these, six ships were appropriated to 
the king, three were victuallers, and the remaining three 
carried separately, the cardinal (Beaton), the Earl of Huntly, 
and the Earl of Arran. Beaton conducted a force of five 
hundred men from Fife and Angus ; Huntly and Arran 
brought with them a thousand, and this little army was 
strengthened by the royal suite, and many barons and 
gentlemen, who swelled the train of their prince, or followed 
on this distant enterprise the banner of their chiefs. It 
was one laudable object of the king in his voyage, to com- 
plete an accurate nautical survey of the northern coasts and 
isles, for which purpose he carried with him Alexander 
Lindsay, a skilful pilot and hydrographer, whose charts 
and observations remain to the present day. But his 
principal design was to overawe the rebellious chiefs, to 
enforce obedience to the laws, and to reduce within the limits 
of order and good government a portion of his dominions, 
which for the last thirty years, had repeatedly refused to 
acknowledge their dependence upon the Scottish crown. 
" On the 22d of May, to the great joy of the monarch 



and his people, the queen presented them with a prince, 
and James, whose preparations were complete, hoisted the 
royal flag on board the admiral's ship, and, favoured with a 
serene heaven and a favourable breeze, conducted his fleet 
along the populous coasts of Fife, Angus, and Buchan, till 
he doubled the promontory of Kennedar. He next visited 
the wild shores of Caithness, and, crossing the Pentland 
Firth, was gratified on reaching the Orkneys by finding 
these islands in a state of greater improvement and civili- 
sation than he had ventured to expect. Doubling Cape 
Wrath, the royal squadron steered for the Lewis, Harris, and 
the isles of North and South Uist ; they next crossed over 
to Skye, made a descent upon Glenelg, Moidart, and Ard- 
namurchan, circumnavigated Mull, visited Coll and Tiree, 
swept along the romantic coast of Argyle, and passing the 
promontory of Cantire, delayed a while on the shores of 
Arran, and cast anchor beside the richer and more verdant 
fields of Bute. Throughout the whole progress the voyage 
did not exhibit exclusively the stern aspect of a military 
expedition, but mingled the delights of the chase, of which 
James was passionately fond, with the graver cares and 
labours of the monarch and the legislator. The rude natives 
of these savage and distant regions flocked to the shore, to 
gaze on the unusual apparition, as the fleet swept past their 
promontories ; and the mountain and island lords crowded 
round the royal pavilion, which was pitched upon the beach, 
to deprecate resentment and proffer their allegiance. The 
force which was aboard appears to have been amply suffi- 
cient to secure a prompt submission upon the part of those 
fierce chieftains who had hitherto bid defiance to all regular 
government ; and James, who dreaded lest the departure 
of the fleet should be a signal for a return of their former 
courses, insisted that many of them should accompany him 
to the capital and remain there as hostages for the peaceable 
deportment of their followers. Some of the most refractory 
were even thrown into irons and confined aboard the ships, 
whilst others were treated with a kindness which soon sub- 
stituted the ties of affectionate allegiance for those of 


compulsion and terror. On reaching Dumbarton, the king 
considered his labours at an end, and giving orders for the 
fleet to proceed by their former course to Leith, travelled 
to court only to become exposed to the renewed enmity 
of his nobles." 

Gregory is more particular in the details of the royal ex- 
pedition, and informs us that Donald Mackay of Strathnaver 
was seized " without much difficulty ". From Sutherland 
" the fleet proceeded to the Isle of Lewis, where Ruari 
Macleod, with his principal kinsmen, met the king, and 
were made to accompany him in his further progress. The 
west coast of the Isle of Skye was next visited ; and 
Alexander Macleod of Dunvegan, lord of that part of the 
island, was constrained to embark in the royal fleet. 
Coasting round by the north of Skye, the king came to 
the district of Trouterness, so lately desolated by the Chief 
of Sleat. Here various chieftains, claiming their descent 
from the ancient Lords of the Isles, came to meet their 
sovereign particularly John Moydartach, captain of the 
Clanranald, Alexander of Glengarry, and other of ' Ma 
Coneyllis kyn '. These chieftains hoped to secure the royal 
favour by coming to meet the king before the course of 
his voyage led him to their own districts. From Trouter- 
ness James proceeded, by the coast of Ross, to Kintail, 
where he was joined by the Chief of the Mackcnzies ; and 
then, sailing southwards by the Sound of Sleat, he visited, 
in succession, the Isles of Mull and Isla, and the districts 
of Kintyre and Knapdale, taking with him, on his depar- 
ture, Hector Maclean of Dowart, and James Macdonald of 
Isla, the two principal leaders in the south Isles. It is not 
he least remarkable circumstance connected with this im- 
portant expedition, that the Earl of Argyll had no pro- 
minent command, if, indeed, he was employed at all, which 
is very doubtful." 

The king inspected and expressed his admiration of 
the fortifications of the Castle of Duntulm, and, arriving at 
the harbour of Portree, then called Loch Clioluim Cille, the 
ships dropped anchor. Tradition bears that the army 


landed on the rock upon which the present Scorribreck 
House is built, hence called Creag-na-nior Sliluagh, the rock 
of the multitude ; and that the king and his suite landed 
at a small creek farther east, hence called Port-an-righ, the 
king's landing place, which thereafter became the name of 
the Loch and Parish.* 

Some of the Island lords were soon after set at liberty 
on giving hostages for their peaceful behaviour ; while the 
more turbulent were kept in confinement until some time 
after the king's death in 1542. The Lordship of the 
Isles, and North and South Kintyre were, in 1 540, as part 
of the king's policy towards the Islanders, inalienably 
annexed to the crown. The long cherished hope of the 
western chiefs to establish the lordship in its ancient 
glory was thus for the time blasted, and a long peace was 
expected to succeed the successful voyage of the king ; 
but these expectations were soon dissipated, for James V. 
died in the flower of his age, two years after, when he 
was succeeded by his infant daughter, the unfortunate 
Mary, during whose reign Scotland was so much distracted, 
not only by foreign aggression, but by domestic feuds 
among the powerful factions that contended so keenly for 
power during her minority. 

During the rule of this chief, Donald Dubh again makes 
his escape from prison, is proclaimed Lord of the Isles, and 
supported by all the vassals of the ancient Lordship in a 
second rebellion. 

While the Earls of Lennox and Arran were disputing 
about the regency, and other members of the aristocracy 
sold themselves to the English King, two great chiefs in 
the North, Huntly and Argyll, stood firm in their loyalty 
to Scotland, and thus became objects of the hatred of 
Henry VIII. of England and the Scottish nobles who had 
so unpatriotically joined him in his anti-Scottish schemes. 

It was in 1 543, during this unsettled period of Scottish 
history, Donald Dubh who had been for nearly forty 
years kept in hopeless captivity, again managed to effect 

* History and Traditions of the Isle of Skye. 


his escape. It will be remembered that we parted with 
him in 1506, a prisoner in the Castle of Edinburgh, and 
that, with the exception of a few years at that period, he 
had been a state prisoner from his infancy. Though 
"stigmatised as a bastard," says Gregory, " he seems really 
to have been legitimate," and it is certain that he owed his 
second escape more "to the grace of God than to the 
goodwill of the Government". In any case he did manage 
to free himself from his enemies, and on his arrival shortly 
afterwards in the Isles, " he was received with enthusiasm 
by the same clans that had formerly supported his claims ; 
and with their assistance, he prepared to expel the Earls of 
Argyll and Huntly from their acquisition in the Lordship 
of the Isles " during his long imprisonment. He soon 
managed to arrange a truce with Argyll, which was to last 
until May -day of 1543, the same year in which he secured 
his liberty ; but meanwhile both were engaged in making 
preparations for the forthcoming contest. In the month of 
June following, both Argyll and Huntly are found engaged 
against the Islanders. About the same time the other 
Island Chiefs, kept in prison since the late king's voyage 
to the Isles, were set at liberty by the influence of the Eng- 
lish party, so as to enable Donald Dubh the more effectu- 
ally to cope with the two Earls, who were violently hated 
by the party in power and by those who pushed on the 
marriage of the young queen with the son of Henry VIII. 
against the interest and independence of their own country. 
Almost immediately after the liberation of the principal 
Island vassals of the lordship, Donald assembled an army 
of 1800 men, invaded Argyll's territories, slew many of 
his followers, and carried away a large number of his cattle, 
with a great quantity of other plunder. At this period all 
the vassals of the Isles, except James Macdonald of Isla, 
followed the banner of Donald Dubh against the Regent, 
and even Isla soon after joined the other Island lords and 
fought for the English faction. 

In 1 544, the terrible feud which broke out between the 
Macdonalds of Clanranald, under John Moydartach, on the 


one hand, and their legitimate chief, Ranald Gallda, and 
the Erasers on the other, took place and culminated in the 
sanguinary battle of Blarleine ; but this will be more appro- 
priately dealt with the under CLANRANALD OF MOYDART. 

In the following year, 1545, the Macdonalds of Moydart 
are found supporting the claims of Donald Dubh to the 
Lordship of the Isles, and fighting under his banner. 

At the battle of Ancrum, in the same year, Neil Macneil 
of Gigha, one of the vassals of the lordship, was present ; 
but whether as an ambassador from Donald Dubh, or 
fighting at the head of a body of Islanders, it is difficult to 
determine. In June following a proclamation is issued by 
the Regent, Arran, and his Privy Council, against " Donald, 
alleging himself of the Isles, and other Highlandmen, his 
part-takers ". The council had been frequently informed of 
the " invasions " made by them on the queen's lieges in 
the isles and on the mainland, assisted by the king of 
England, with whom " they were leagued," and which went 
to show, it was maintained, that it was their intention, if 
they could, to bring those parts of Scotland under the 
government of the king of England in contempt of the 
Scottish Crown. If Donald and his followers continued 
their " rebellious and treasonable proceedings," they were 
threatened with utter ruin and destruction from an invasion 
of their territories by " the whole body of the realm of Scot- 
land, with the succours lately come from France ". Donald 
and his followers paid no attention whatever to this threat, 
and the only effect it had was to throw the Islanders more 
than ever into the arms of the English. The regent was 
consequently forced to adopt more stringent measures ; 
processes of treason were commenced against the more 
prominent rebels, and these were followed up with as much 
dispatch as the forms of Parliament would allow. While 
these proceedings were going on against the Islanders at 
the instance of the government of Scotland, Donald Dubh, 
as Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, with the advice and 
consent of his barons and council, granted a commission 
to Roric MacAlaster, dean of Morvern, and Patrick Mac- 


lean, justice-clerk of the South Isles, to treat, under direction 
of the Earl of Lennox, with the English king, as Donald's 
plenipotentiaries. These gentlemen forthwith addressed a 
long letter to the Privy Council of Henry VIII., containing 
the following passage, explanatory of their hostile policy 
towards the Scottish kingdom. We quote it, modern- 
ising the spelling, from a state paper given in a foot- 
note (page 20) of the"Macdonnells of Antrim": "Where- 
fore your lordships shall consider we have been old enemies 
to the Realm of Scotland, and when they had peace with 
the king's highness (Henry VIII.) they hanged, beheaded, 
imprisoned, and destroyed many of our kin, friends, and 
forbears, as testified by our master, the Earl of Ross, who 
has laid in prison before he was born of his mother, and not 
relieved with their will, but now, lately, by the grace of God. 
In likewise the Lord Maclaine's father was cruelly murdered 
under ' traist ' in his bed in Edinburgh, by Sir John 
Campbell of Calder, brother to the Earl of Argyll. The 
Captain of Clanranald, this last year ago, in his defence 
slew the Lord Lovat, his son and heir, his three brothers, 
with thirteen score of his men ; and many other cruel 
slaughters, burnings, and herschips, the which were long to 

The barons and council of the Isles who acted on this 
occasion, not one of whom could sign his name, are given 
in this document in the following order : Allan Maclean 
of Torloisk, Gilleonan Macneil of Barra, Ewin Mackinnon 
of Strathardill, John Macquarrie of Ulva, Alex. Ranaldson 
of Glengarry, Alexander Ranaldson of Knoydart, John 
Maclean of Ardgour, Donald Maclean of Kingairloch, Hect- 
or Maclean, Lord of Dowart ; John Moydartach MacAlas- 
tair, captain of Clanranald ; Roderick Macleod of Lewis, 
Alexander Macleod of Dunvegan, Murdoch Maclean of 
Lochbuy, Angus Macdonald, brother german to James 
Macdonald ; Archibald Macdonald, captain of Clanhuisten ; 
Alexander Macian of Ardnamurchan, and John Maclean of 
Coll. Gregory, quoting from Tytler, gives the same names, 
but places them in a different order. The remainder of 


Donald Dubh's career cannot better be given than in the 
words of Gregory, by far the best and most complete 
authority we have. He says On the 5th of August the 
lord and barons of the Isles were at Knockfergus, in 
Ireland, with a force of four thousand men and a hundred 
and eighty galleys ; when, in presence of two commissioners 
sent by the Earl of Lennox, and of the constable, mayor, 
and magistrates of that town, they took the oath of 
allegiance to the King of England, "at the command of the 
said Earl of Lennox". In all the documents illustrative of 
these proceedings, we find that Lennox was acknowledged 
by the Islcsmen as the true regent and second person of 
of the realm of Scotland ; and while, at his command, they 
gave their allegiance to the English King, they, at the same 
time, bound themselves in particular to forward Henry's 
views in regard to the marriage of the Princess of Scotland, 
and, in all other affairs, to act under the directions of 
Lennox. The name of James Macdonald of Isla, whose 
lands of Kintyre had been so lately ravaged by Lennox, 
does not occur among the Barons of the Isles who accom- 
panied their lord to Knockfergus. It appears also that in 
the month of April he had even received a reward from 
Arran for his services against the English. Yet now his 
brother, Angus Macdonald, was one of the foremost in 
support of Lennox ; and his own conduct, in the course of 
a few months, justifies the suspicion that already this power- 
ful chief contemplated joining the rest of the Islanders. 

The troops that accompanied the Lord of the Isles to 
Ireland are described in the original despatches from the 
Irish Privy Council, giving Henry notice of their arrival, as 
being " three thousand of them, very tall men, clothed, for 
the most part, in habergeons of mail, armed with long 
swords and long bows, but with few guns ; the other 
thousand, tall maryners that rowed in the galleys ". An 
equal number of warriors had been left behind, to keep in 
check the Earls of Huntly and Argyll, forming a total force 
of eight thousand men now in arms, under the command of 
a leader who had passed the most of his life in prison, de- 


prived of all power and influence. It cannot be doubted 
that many of the Islanders acted on this occasion from a 
feeling of attachment to the representative of the family of 
the Isles, as well as from a deep-rooted hostility to the house 
of Argyll. But it is equally clear and unfortunately 
harmonises too well with the venal conduct of many of the 
Scottish nobility of the period to admit of question that 
English gold must have had a great effect in producing 
unanimity among tribes so many of which were at deadly 

From Knockfergus the plenipotentiaries of the Island 
Lord proceeded to the English court, bearing letters of re- 
commendation from their master, both to the king and 
Privy Council. By the last of these letters it appears that 
the Lord of the Isles (Donald Dubh) had already received 
from Henry the sum of one thousand crowns, and the pro- 
mise of an annual pension of two thousand. After certain 
articles proposed by the Islesmen, together with their oath 
of allegiance, had been given in by the Commissioners to 
the Privy Council, and the opinion of the Earl of Lennox 
had been taken as to the best mode of proceeding, the follow- 
ing conditions were agreed to on the 4th of Septcmpber : 
The pension of the two thousand crowns was confirmed to 
the Lord of the Isles by letters patent, and Henry engaged 
that that nobleman and his followers should be included in 
any treaty made between England and Scotland. On the 
other hand, the Lord of the Isles became bound, with all 
his adherents to serve the King of England truly and faith- 
fully, to the annoyance of the Regent of Scotland and his 
partisans. He engaged to make no agreement with the 
Earls of Huntly or Argyll, or with any of the Scots, to the 
prejudice of the King of England ; but, on the contrary, to 
continue steadfast in his opposition to them and in his 
allegiance to Henry. It was arranged that the Earl of 
Lennox, with a body of two thousand Irish, under the Earl 

* Anderson in his MS. History of Scotland, says that the Islesmen elected Donald 
for their Lord, as being the chiefest and nearest of blood ; and adds, that, besides 
a pension from the King of England, he was to receive ' ' certaine rich apparel of 
cloth of gold and silver from the said Earl " of Lennox. II., p. 47. 



of Ormond and Ossory, should lead an expedition against 
Scotland from the west, in which he was to be assisted 
by the Lord of the Isles with eight thousand men. As 
long as Lennox should remain in the country of the Earl 
of Argyll, the whole eight thousand men were to be placed 
at his disposal ; but, in the event of his proceeding to 
another part of Scotland and a march to Stirling was 
seriously contemplated it was provided that only six 
thousand of the Islanders should follow him, while the 
remaining two thousand should be employed in occupying 
the attention of the Earl of Argyll. Lastly, three thousand 
of the Islesmen were to receive pay from the King of Eng- 
land for two months. 

In conformity with these arrangements, instructions 
were given to the Earl of Ormond to levy two thousand 
Irish foot for the expedition against Scotland, and the other 
necessary preparations for an armament of such importance 
were actively carried on by the Irish Privy Council. But 
at this moment the Earl of Hertford, who was about to 
invade Scotland from the border, required the presence of 
Lennox in his camp ; and the western invasion was 
necessarily postponed till the termination of the campaign- 
This delay caused, in the end, the total failure of the expe- 
dition. The Lord of the Isles, after waiting for some time 
in vain, expecting the arrival of Lennox, and naturally 
anxious about the safety of the vassals he had left behind, 
returned with his forces to Scotland. Meantime, dissen- 
sions had arisen among his barons as to the division of the 
English pay received for three thousand of their men, and 
their quarrels ran so high that the army seems to have been 
broken up, whilst the chiefs retired each to his own castle.* 

* Highlands and Isles, p. 170-174. Donald Munro, High Dean of the Isles, in 
his description of Skye, written in 1549, says, in this Isle there are "12 paroch 
kirkes, manurit and inhabit," fertile lands for oates, excelling any other ground for 
grazing and pastures, many woods, many forests, many deer, fair hunting games, 
and ' ' many grate hills ". There are also six castles, to wit, the Castle of Dunvegan, 
belonging to Macleod of Harris, " ane Starke Strengthe biggit upon ane craig " ; 
the castles of Dunakyne and Dunringill, belonging to Mackinnon ; the Castle of 
Camus, in Sleat, the Castle of Dunskaich, and the Castle of Duntulm, the latter 
three " perteining to Donald Gormeson ". 


Donald Dubh again returned to Ireland with the Earl of 
Lennox, where, according to the Macvurich MS., he went 
"to raise men ; but he died on his way to Dublin, at Drog- 
heda, of a fever, without issue, either sons or daughters ". 
Documents in the State Paper Office prove, however, that 
he left "one bastard son," whom, Gregory informs us, 
Donald Dubh " in his dying moments commended to the 
care of the King of England ; but it does not appear that 
any claim was made on behalf of this individual to the 
succession ". Thus ended the career of this unfortunate 
Island Lord, who, whether legitimate by birth or not, was 
recognised by all the vassals of the Lordship of the Isles 
as their natural and legitimate leader. 

On the death of Donald Dubh, in 1 545, no other possible 
claimant (except his bastard son), legitimate or illegitimate, 
remained between the Macdonalds of Sleat and the repre- 
sentation of the last line of the Earls of Ross and Lords of 
the Isles ; but they were, at the time, almost deprived of 
power. Is has been already seen that their chief was at 
this period a minor, while " the title of the family to their 
estates was disputed by the Macleods of Harris," who did 
not fail to revive their claims at a period \vhen they thought 
their chance of success in enforcing it had materially im- 
proved. The comparatively humble position of the house 
of Sleat at this period may be inferred from the fact that 
the Islanders, after the death of Donald Dubh, made choice 
of James Macdonald of Isla as their leader, a chief whose 
pretentions to the Lordship of the Isles were certainly far 
inferior to those of Donald Gorm of Sleat ; but his greater 
power as an individual soon outweighed the higher and 
more legitimate claims of the chief of Sleat. He was, 
however, opposed by many of those who were the stoutest 
supporters of Donald Dubh such as the Macleans (with 
the exception of Allan Maclean of Gigha and Torloisk, 
better known as "Alein na'n Sop") the Macleods, the 
Macneils of Barra, the Mackinnons, and the Macquarries ; 
all of whom acted independently, and sought, with success, 
to effect their own reconciliation with the Regent. It is 


certainly curious to find James Macdonald of Isla, \\-ho 
had hitherto opposed all the other Island Lords in their 
opposition to the Scottish Regent, now becoming their 
leader, and placing himself at their head against the govern- 
ment which he had all through, single-handed, among the 
chiefs, continued to support. Gregory, however, naively 
suggests that his patriotism " evaporated on his perceiving 
a possibility of obtaining the pension of two thousand 
crowns promised to his predecessor," Donald Dubh, by the 
English ; while the author of " The Macdonnels of Antrim " 
says that the choice " was indeed remarkable, as he had 
strenuously opposed the whole movement of his brother 
chieftains in favour of Donald Dhu. They, nevertheless, 
elected him Lord of the Isles, which may have been done, 
principally, to detach him from the Regent's service ; and 
it seems to have had that effect, at least for a time." The 
same authority proceeds to say that " on the loth of 
February, 1546, a messenger appeared in Dublin, bringing 
a letter from James Macdonnel, which announced his 
appointment, and contained proposals for the consideration 
of the Privy Council ". The document, which under the 
circumstances, must be regarded as a curious and somewhat 
extraordinary communication, is (modernised in spelling) 
as follows : 

At Ardnamurchan, the 24th day of January, the year of 

God, one thousand five hundred and forty-six. 

We, James Macdonald of Dunyveg and the Glens, and apparent heir of 
the Isles, grants us to send a special letter directed from your Lordship to our 
kinsmen and allies, thinking the effect and form of their promises to the King 
of the Inland's Majesty, to fortify and supply our noble cousin, Matthew, Earl of 
Lennox. Wherefore we exhort and press your Lordship, my Lord-Depute of 
Ireland, with the well advised Council of Dublin, to show in our behalf, and 
explain to the King's Majesty, that we are ready, after our extreme power, 
our kinsmen and allies namely, our cousin, Allan Maclean of Gigha, Clan- 
ranald, Clanchameron, Clanian, and our own surname, both north and south, 
to take part with the Earl of Lennox, or any whomsoever the King's Majesty 
pleases, to have authorised or constituted by his grace, in Scotland ; loyally 
and truly the foresaid King's Majesty sending part of power to us, in company 
with the said Earl of Lennox, in one honest army to the Isle of Sanda, beside 
Kintyre, on Saint Patrick's Day nextjto come, or thereby, 'athowe' the said 
most excellent Prince giveth to us his Majesty's reward and succour, bond 


conforming and equivalent to hi> Grace's bond made to our ' cheyf maister, 
Donald Lord Yllis, qhowm God asolzeit,' who died in his Grace's service ; 
this being accepted, promised, and admitted, we require two or three ships to 
be sent to us, to be at an 'expremit' place, with this bearer, Hector Donald- 
sone, being pilot to the same, twenty days' (notice) before the army comes, 
that we might be ' fornest ' and gathered against the coming of the said army, 
to whom please your Lordship will give firm credence in our behalf. And for 
keeping and observing of these present promises, desiring suchlike to be sent 
to us with the said ships, we have affixed our proper seal to the same, with our 
subscription manual, the day, year, and place above 'expremit '. 

(Signed^ JAMES McCouiL of Dunnewaik and Glcnis. 

To this document the English king made no reply, his 
attention being now probably taken up with the events 
which led up to the Reformation in Scotland, and the plots 
for getting rid of Cardinal Beaton, who opposed it as well 
as the English attempt to force on a marriage between 
Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII., and the young Queen 
of Scots, and who soon fell a victim to his efforts, for he 
was assassinated on the 28th of May, 1 546, in the castle of 
St. Andrews. James Macdonald soon dropped his newly 
assumed title of Lord of the Isles, became once more a 
patriotic Scot, finally got into favour with the Regent, and 
remained a loyal subject of the Scottish crown as long as 
he lived. 

Various feuds were carried on among the Islanders during 
the next forty years, but we find little or no notice of the 
Macdonalds of Sleat and their chief. In June, 1554, the 
Earls of Huntly and Argyll were ordered to proceed, by 
land and sea, "to the utter extermination of the Clanranald, 
of Donald Gormeson (the heir of Sleat), and of Maclcod of 
Lewis, and their associates, who had failed to present 
hostages for their good conduct ".* They, however, met 
with little success. In 1565, the Earl of Argyll took part 
in the rebellion of the Duke of Chatclherault and the Earl 
of Murray, which originated in the opposition which arose 
to the marriage of Queen Mary with Lord Darnley. Among 
the western chiefs who were summoned to meet the Earl 
of Athole in Lorn, on the 2oth of September in that year, 
commanding the royal army, we find Ruari Macleod of 

* Gregory, p. 183. Reg. of I'my .Val, xxvi., fo. 57. 


Lewis, Tormod Macleod of Harris, Donald Gormeson of 
Sleat, and Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail. The rebels, 
however, took flight to the Lowlands and their leaders to 
England, and it was found unnecessary to lead Athole's 
followers to Lorn. The grasping Argyll, who had been 
pardoned shortly after, soon found means to extend his 
influence again over the Macdonalds of Skye and North 
Uist, in the crafty manner characteristic of his house. 

Gregory says that in this reign, the Earl of Argyll con- 
trived to extend his influence into the North Isles, and over 
two of the most powerful tribes in that quarter, the 
Clandonald of Skye and North Uist, and the Clanleod of 
Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg. The mode in which this 
object was attained is so characteristic of the house of 
Argyll that it seems to merit some detail, in reference to 
the rapid increase of the power of that noble family. 

William Macleod of Harris, chief of the " Siol Tormod," 
was the undisputed proprietor of the estates of Harris, 
Dunvegan, and Glenelg, under a particular destination, 
which, on his death in 1553, caused these extensive posses- 
sions to descend to his daughter and heiress, Mary.* He 
was, at the same time, nominal proprietor of Sleat, Trouter- 
ness, and North Uist, the possession of which we have seen, 
the Siol Tormod had unsuccessfully disputed with the 
Clandonald. On the death of William Macleod, his claim to 
the last mentioned estates was inherited by his brother and 
heir male, Donald. f The Siol Tormod was now placed in 
a position which, though quite intelligible on the principles 
of feudal war, was totally opposed to the Celtic customs that 
prevailed to a great extent throughout the Highlands and 
Isles. A female and a minor was the legal proprietrix of the 
ancient possessions of the tribe, which, by her marriage, 
might be conveyed to another and hostile family ; whilst 
her uncle, the natural leader of the clan, according to ancient 
custom, was left without any means to keep up the dignity 
of a chief, or to support the clan against its enemies. His 

* Reg. of Great Seal, xiii. No. 305 ; xxvi. 446. 
t Collectanea de rebus Albanicis, p. 45. 


claims on the estates possessed by the Clandonald were 
worse than nugatory, as they threatened to involve him in 
a feud with that powerful and warlike tribe, in case he 
should take any steps to enforce them. In these circum- 
stances Donald Macleod seized, apparently with the consent 
of his clan, the estates which legally belonged to his niece, 
the heiress ; and thus, in practice, the feudal law was made 
to yield to ancient and inveterate custom. Donald did not 
enjoy these estates long, being murdered in Trouterness by 
a relation of his own, John Og Macleod, who, failing 
Tormod, the only remaining brother of Donald, would have 
become the heir male of the family.* John Og next 
plotted the destruction of Tormod, who was at the time a 
student in the University of Glasgow ; but in this he was 
foiled by the interposition of the Earl of Argyll. He con- 
trived, notwithstanding, to retain possession of the estates 
of the heiress, and of the command of the clan, till his 
death in 1559.^ In the meantime, the feudal rights of the 
wardship, relief, and marriage of the heiress of Harris, were 
eagerly sought after by various powerful individuals. They 
were first bestowed, in 1553, by the Regent Arran, upon the 
Earl of Huntly, who afterwards proposed to sell his interest 
in the heiress and her property, to the fourth Earl of Argyll, 
for a large sum of money.} But Huntly, having fallen into 
disgrace with the Queen Regent, as formerly mentioned, 
was compelled to relinquish his bargain with Argyll, and 
to resign into her hand the claims he had acquired from 
Arran to the guardianship of Mary Macleod. The 
regent, while endeavouring, in 15 59, to secure the assistance 
of James Macdonald of Isla against the Protestants, of 
whom the fifth Earl of Argyll was one of the principal 
leaders, committed the feudal guardianship of the young 
heiress to that chief.|| In 1562, we find that the person of 

* MS. History of the Macleods. 

t Ibid. 

J Collectanea de rebus Albanicis, i. 137, 138. 

Ibid, 141. Anderson's History of Scotland MS. Adv. Lib. ii. 174. 

II Sadler's State Papers, ii. 431. 


the young lady had, by some accident, come into the 
custody of Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, who, having 
refused to give her up to the lawful guardian, James 
Macdonald, was at length compelled to deliver her to 
Queen Mary, with whom she remained for some years as a 
maid of honour, being, no doubt, one the Queen's celebrated 
Maries* Macdonald seems now to have made over his 
claims to Argyll, who finally exercised the right of guardian- 
ship, by giving Mary Macleod in marriage to his kinsman> 
Duncan Campbell, younger of Auchinbreck.f But previous 
to the marriage, the Earl, sensible of the difficulty which 
would attend any attempt to put an individual of his clan 
in possession of the territories of the Siol Tormod, even 
although he had the law in his favour, entered into the 
following arrangements, the most judicious that could be 
devised for making the most of his position at the time. 
His first agreement at the time was with Tormod Macleocl, 
who had been for some years in actual possession of Harris 
and the estates of the heiress, and had already given to the 
Earl (for the good offices of the latter) his bond of service 
for himself and his clan.| It was arranged that Macleod 
should renounce, in favour of Argyll, all claims he had to 
the lands of Clandonald ; that he should likewise pay 
the sum of one thousand merks towards the dowry of his 
niece. Argyll, on the other hand, engaged to procure from 
Mary Macleod, and any husband she might marry, a com- 
plete surrender of her title to the lands of Harris, Dunvegan, 
and Glenelg ; and to obtain for Tormod a crown charter of 
that estate. His next agreement was with Donald 
MacDonald Gorm of Sleat ; and in consideration of that 
chief paying five hundred merks towards the dowry of 
Mary Macleod, and of his likewise giving his bond of service 
for himself and his clan to Argyll, the latter engaged to 

* Collectanea de rebus Albanicis, p. 143-4. 
f Ibid, p. 151, and Histories of both families. 

J A contract to this effect, dated in 1559, will be found in the Collectanea de 
Rebus Albancis, p. 91. 

Ibid, p. 145. The contract is dated 24th February, 1566-7. 


make him his vassal in the lands of Trouterness, Sleat, and 
North Uist, to which the Macdonalds had at present no 
legal claim.* Argyll's agreement with Tormod Macleod 
was actually carried into effect ;f but circumstances seem 
to have interfered with the final completion of his contract 
with Macdonald. It is evident, however, that, although in 
the case of the Siol Tormod, at this time, ancient custom 
prevented the feudal law of succession from being carried 
into effect in its full extent, yet the Earl of Argyll did not 
surrender his legal claims without indemnifying himself 
amply for the sacrifice.* 

To those who have perused the past volumes of the "Celtic 
Magazine" and "The History of the Mackenzies," we need 
not here detail the terrible feuds and battles which took 
place between the Macleods of Lewis and Mackenzies of 
Kintail from about this period until the Macleods were 
almost exterminated, and their island principality acquired 
by the Mackenzies. In these struggles the Macdonalds of 
Sleat at first supported the Macleods, the result being 
that their territories in Skye were often ravaged and 
plundered by the Mackenzies. The violent proceedings of 
the two clans attained to such a pitch that they commanded 
the attention of the government, and, on the 1st of August, 
1 569, a Decree-Arbitral by the Regent Earl of Murray, was 
entered into at Perth, between Donald Gormeson Macdonald 
of Sleat and Colin Mackenzie of Kintail, which is couched, 
after the usual preamble, in the following terms, the spelling 
being modernised : 

" The variances, controversies, debates, depredations, in- 
cursions, slaughters, hcrschips, and all others committed, 
and standing in question betwixt Donald Gormesoun of 
Skye, his friends, servants, tenants, and attendants, on the 
one part ; and Colin Mackenzie of Kintail, John Mackenzie 
of Gairloch, and the remancntj his kin, friends, servants, and 

* Collectanea de rebus Albanicis, p. 147. The contract is dated 4th March, 

t Reg. of Great Seal, xxxiii. 9. MS. History of Macleods, quoting a royal 
charter to Tormod. dated 4th August, 1579. 

J Highlands and Isles, pp. 203-207, 



dependants, on the other part ; being referred aud compro- 
mised in the person of the noble and mighty Lord, James 
Earl of Murray, Lord Abernethy, Regent to our Sovereign 
Lord, his realm, and lieges personally accepting the same 
in presence of the said parties, his Grace having certain 
of the Secret Council present with him, and at length 
advising and consulting about the enormities and offences 
committed by either of them, and willing to reduce the said 
parties to their pristine amity, friendship and kindness, both 
for their own weal and the common weal and public ' com- 
modite ' of the country and our Sovereign Lord's lieges 
thereabout, evil-handled and oppressed. Decerns, decrees, 
delivers, and for final sentence and bond arbitral pro- 
nounces : That either of the said parties, taking the burden 
upon them for their kin, friends, servants, and partakers, 
shall forgive, bury, extinguish, and forget all manner of 
slaughters, herschips, spuilzies, depredations, fire-raisings, 
damages, injuries, and destructions committed by them or 
any of their causing and command in any times bygone 
before the date hereof : Like as either of the said parties by 
these presents consents thereto, allows and confirms the 
same, and shall enter into reconciliation, friendship, and 
amity each one with the other, remain and abide therein in 
all time coming, according to the duty of God's servants 
and their Prince's dutiful subjects, laws of God and man : 
And in special decerns and ordains the said Donald to 
cause Rory Mac Allan, alias Nimhneach, and all other?, 
the said Donald's kin, &c., to desist and cease from all 
troubling, molesting, harming, or invasion, of the said Laird 
of Gairloch's lands, ' rowmes,' possessions, tenants, servants, 
and goods, in any time coming, and suffer him and them 
peaceably to ' brouke ' and enjoy the same in all time com- 
ing, as their heritage at their pleasure, and upon the same 
part in case the said Rory Nimhneach will not obey, stand, 
and abide by this decreet, the said Donald shall, like as, in 
that case he by these presents discharges himself of the 
said Rory, and (will) neither support, aid, nor give him any 
manner of maintenance, nor suffer any of his friends, ser- 


vants, tenants, lands or bounds, receive or give him help or 
residence of any sort, but expel and hold him off the same 
and invade and pursue him to the uttermost, as they shall 
answer to my Lord Regent's grace, upon their duty and 
obedience : And, on the other part, decerns and ordains 
Colin Mackenzie of Kintail to cause Torquil Macleod, alias 
Connanach, and all others, his friends, servants, and part- 
takers, to desist and cease from troubling, harming, molest- 
ing, or invasion of the said Donald Gormesoun, his lands, 
&c., in any time coming, and suffer him peaceably to 
' brouke,' enjoy, and use the same in all times coming, as 
his heritage and kindly ' rowmes,' conform to his rights and 
titles thereof ; and in case the said Torquil Macleod refuse 
[obligation by Mackenzie the same, mutatis mutandis, as 
that given by Donald Gormesoun regarding Rory Nimh- 
neach]. AND ATTOUR in case any slaughters, murders, or 
herschips, be committed by any of the said parties' friends, 
tenants, and dependants, without the said parties' own 
advice or command, in that case the party aggrieved shall 
complain to the other, and desire reformation, assessment, 
and amends, and if he refuses, shall not seek satisfaction by 
his own force and power, but seek the same by the ordinary 
course of justice and law of this realm : Whereunto either 
party by these presents, as they are in duty obliged, restricts 
them, excluding and discharging all other means and ways 
of revenge and amends-taking : And in case, as God forbid, 
any of the said parties, their friends, servants, tenants, and 
dependants fail therein, or does anything contrary hereof ; 
in that case my Lord Regent's Grace wills and pronounces 
him to be a plain and open enemy to the party failing, and 
will defend, assist, and maintain the party aggrieved to his 
uttermost : And also declares in that case, all herschips, 
crimes, slaughters, fire-raisings, and other offences above 
discharged and taken away by this present compromise, 
shall be again wakened and restored in the same place they 
were before the making hereof, to be pursued and followed 
by the party offended, such like, and in the same manner 


and conditions, in all respects, as if this present decreet had 
never been made or given."* 

Though the Macdonalds of Sleat seem to have been 
constantly engaged in several local broils with neighbouring 
families during the reign of Donald, they do not appear to 
have got into any serious trouble with the Government 
while he was at their head. 

Referring to the latter part of Donald Gormeson's rule 
the period between the return of Queen Mary from France 
and the actual assumption of the government by her son, 
James VI., in the nineteenth year of his age, in 1585 the 
same year in which this chief of Sleat died, Gregory informs 
us that " the general history of the Highlands and Isles 
possesses little interest. Repeated failures seem to have 
made the Western clans sensible of the impossibility of re- 
establishing, in any shape, the old Lordship of the Isles ; 
and they gradually learned to prefer holding their lands 
under the sovereign directly, to being vassals of any subject, 
however powerful. Having now no longer a common 
object, they became, by degrees, more estranged from each 
other, whilst each chief laboured to extend his own posses- 
sions, or to defend himself from the aggressions of his more 
powerful neighbours. It thus happened that, without any 
insurrection of a general nature, there were yet, during the 
ntervat of which we speak, many serious disturbances in 
the Highlands and Isles, which called for the interference 
of the government." Such was the state of the country 
during the latter part of Donald Gormeson's career. 

He married Mary, daughter of Hector Maclean of Duart, 
and by her had issue 

1. Donald, his heir. 

2. Archibald, the clerk, who married Margaret, daughter 
of Angus Macdonald of Isla and the Glynns, ancestor of the 
family of Antrim, and by her had a son, Donald, who suc- 
ceeded his uncle, as head of the family of Sleat ; and a 
daughter, Maria, who married, as his first wife, Ranald, 
second son of Allan Macdonald, VIII. of Clanranald, whose 

* Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, pp. 92-94. 


descendants, by the second marriage, succeeded to the estates, 
and became head of the family, on the failure of the direct 
male heirs of Sir Donald in Ranald XIII. of Clanranald. 

He also had a son Hugh or Uistean, of whom immediately. 

3. Alexander, of whose issue, if any, nothing is known. 

He died in 1585, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Seventh baron of Sleat. Immediately on his succession 
this chief became involved in serious disputes with his 
neighbours, the Macleans, through the treachery of his 
nephew, a son of his brother Archibald, and a desperate 
character known as " Uistean Mac Ghilleaspuig Chleirich," 
Hugh, son of Archibald the clerk. The chief of Sleat 
in 1585, having gone to pay a complimentary visit to 
his relative, Angus Macdonald of Dunyveg, in Isla, and 
accompanied by the usual retinue befitting his rank, was 
forced by stress of weather to take shelter in the Island of 
Jura, on a part of it belonging at the time to Maclean of 
Duart. At the same time Uistean Mac Ghilleaspuig 
Chleirich, and a son of Donald Herrach already referred to 
as the ancestor of the Macdonalds of Balranald, were by 
the same cause driven into a neighbouring creek for shelter. 
Learning that their chief lay so near them, these vassals, 
says Gregory, carried off, by night, a number of cattle 
from Maclean's lands and took to sea, in the expectation 
that Donald Gorm and his party would be blamed by the 
Macleans for the robbery, and suffer accordingly. Their 
malicious design, unfortunately, took effect, for in the course 
of the following night the men of Skye were attacked by a 
superior body of the Macleans ; and, as they apprehended 
no danger, fell an easy prey to the assailants. Sixty of the 
Macdonalds were slain, and their chief only escaped the 
same fate from the circumstance of his accidentally sleeping 
on board his galley on the night of the attack. He im- 
mediately returned to Skye, much exasperated at what he 
had reason to believe was such an unprovoked attack, and 



vowed vengeance against the Macleans ; feelings which 
quickly spread amongst all the Macdonalds and their allies. 
Violent measures of retaliation were immediately resorted 
to, and carried to such an extent, that, in the month of 
September, we find the king writing to Macleod of Harris, 
earnestly requesting him to assist Maclean against Clan- 
donald, who had already done much injury to Maclean and 
his followers, and threatened to do more.* The original 
letter, dated i8th September, 1 585, is in the Macleod charter 
chest, in Dunvegan Castle. All the Macdonalds joined to 
revenge the insult offered to the chief of Sleat, and the 
terrible slaughter of his followers, for the unscrupulous and 
treacherous misdeeds of a character of whose conduct on the 
present occasion they were as ignorant as they were inno- 
cent. Angus Macdonald of Isla became the principal 
leader in the sanguinary battles which followed, but he was 
well supported by the chief of Sleat. 

From the New Statistical Account of the Parish of Kilmuir, 
Isle of Skye, written, in 1841, by the Rev. Alexander Mac- 
gregor, M.A., then residing in the parish, we extract the fol- 
lowing version of this treacherous act : " A secret plot 
was laid to deprive Donald Gorm Morof his property, which 
was devised and artfully carried on by his own nephew, Uis- 
tean Mac Gilleaspuig Chleirich (Hugh, the son of Archibald 
the clerk), a very powerful and treacherous man. Seeing that 
his uncle, Donull Gorm, had no issue, and that the property 
would, in consequence, devolve upon his elder brother, Donull 
Gorm Og Mac Gilleaspuig Chleirich, he resolved to usurp it 
by power and stratagem. For this purpose he secretly 
contrived to gain over to his cause as many of the clan as 
possible, at the same time pretending to his uncle to be on 
the best possible terms with him. The first preparation for 
the accomplishment of his schemes was the building of a 
large tower or castle on the farm of Peinduin, in the ad- 
joining parish of Snizort. This tower, still called ' Caisteal 
Uistein ' i.e., Hugh's castle, was never entirely finished. 
It was erected on a rock by the sea-side, and had neither 

* Highlands and Isles, pp. 230-81. 


doors nor windows, but was to be entered on the top by 
means of ladders, which could be pulled up and let down 
at pleasure. The ruins of this castle are still several feet 
in height. It is said that Donull Gorm had but little 
suspicion of his nephew's intrigues until he commenced the 
building of this unique fortress, which he did under other 
pretences, by the permission of his uncle. A few years 
afterwards, however, Donull Gorm had more direct proof 
of his nephew's intentions. Having had occasion to 
pay a visit to his kinsman at Dunyveg, in Isla, he set out 
from his castle at Duntulrn." Mr. Macgregor then gives 
an account of what occurred on the Island of Jura very 
much the same as that already quoted from Gregory, and 
proceeds " Soon after Donald Gorm's return at that time 
to his castle of Duntulm, he had a letter from his treacher- 
ous nephew, Uistean, which was the means of bringing his 
plots clearly to light. Uistean being in Uist, with a view 
to procure as many adherents as possible, wrote a letter to 
one of his confederates in Skye, revealing all his plans, 
while at the same time he wrote another letter, full of 
friendly expressions, to his uncle at Duntulm. It is said 
that, while both letters were closed and sealed, he com- 
mitted an egregious mistake for his own unrighteous cause, 
by addressing his confederate's letter to his uncle and vice 
versa; by which awkward oversight Donald Gorm was, 
from Uistean's own handwriting, led to a knowledge of all 
his schemes. Before the usurper was aware of what he had 
done, Donald Gorm despatched a messenger to his kinsman 
and relative, Donull Mac Ian 'ic Sheumais in Uist, to seize 
Uistean, and bring him prisoner to Duntulm. Without 
loss of time Donull Mac Ian put his liege lord's instructions 
into execution. He resorted to the house where Uistean 
resided, and as he approached with a strong retinue, the 
usurper dreaded that all was not right, and seeing the 
impossibility of effecting his escape, had barely time to 
dress himself in female attire, and to commence grinding 
with a quern, or hand-mill, at which the inmates had been 
at the time engaged. The size and masculine appearance 


of the grinder soon attracted the notice of the party when 
they entered the house. They laid hold of him, but his 
great agility and bodily strength, together with his being 
rendered violent by despair, made it doubtful for a time 
whether or not the party could retain him. At length, 
being encumbered with his dress, and unable any longer to 
defend himself against the men who surrounded him, he 
was seized, fastly bound, and carried prisoner to the family 
seat in this parish (Kilmuir). He was cast into the dun- 
geon of the castle, which was a dark, secluded vault on the 
ground-floor of the edifice, where he was chained in the 
centre of the apartment. He was fed on salt beef, and 
when he stretched forth his hand to grasp a covered pitcher 
which was placed near him, and which he no doubt 
supposed to contain water, he found it empty ! Writhing 
in agony with thirst, he found neither alleviation nor repose 
until death put an end to his sufferings." 

Lachlan Mor Maclean, was able for a time to get the 
best of the quarrel with the Macdonalds. On one occasion 
he put to death no less than five hundred and six of 
them, and to secure a truce with him Macdonald had 
to grant Maclean one half of his Isla territories ; where- 
upon the latter returned to Mull. The Macdonalds 
were generally, on this account, highly exasperated, and a 
powerful league was formed, under Donald Gorm of Sleat, 
to revenge their past misfortunes, composed of the Mac- 
donalds of Kintyre, Skye, Ardnamurchan, Clanranald, and 
the subordinate clans of Macneil of Gigha, Macalisters of 
Loup, and the Macphees of Colonsay, with the assistance 
of Maclean of Borreray, who held his lands of Donald Gorm 
of Sleat as his feudal superior. This powerful force 
assembled and entered Maclean's territories in Mull, so 
suddenly that he was quite unprepared to meet them, 
having no forces ready to take the field, and he was obliged 
to retreat with all the inhabitants of the lower grounds 
along the sea coast to the mountains, whither they carried 
all their moveable property, under his immediate command, 
and encamped at Lichd Li. The Macdonalds meanwhile 


sailed up Loch-nan-gall on the west coast of Mull, and, 
embarking, marched and pushed forward their outposts 
within three miles of where the Macleans were encamped. 
The Macdonalds of Slcat having taken a prominent part 
in this expedition, we shall give the following account of it 
from the history of the clan Maclean : Lachlan Mor Mac- 
lean gave strict orders that no one should advance beyond 
a certain pass, at which it was his intention to dispute the 
progress of his enemies when they attempted to force it. 
Contrary to his intentions, however, a bold and spirited 
youth, Ian an Inner (or John of Innerscadell), son of 
Maclean of Ardgour, who commanded the detached parties, 
and whose bravery on this occasion overmatched his 
prudence, could not witness the insulting advance of the 
Macdonalds without some attempt to check them ; he 
advanced from the post assigned to him, and with a few 
followers attacked the advanced party at Sron-na-Cranalich ; 
the result was the loss of almost every individual of his 
faithful band, one of whom was Allan, son of Maclean of 
Treshinish, a youth of much promise, and whose death was 
deeply lamented. 

Early the following day the invaders moved forward 
with the intention to attack the Macleans in their position. 
On the march, as they were approaching the pass already 
mentioned, Maclean of Borreray, while marching at the 
head of his men, was observed to be wrapped in an un- 
usual reverie of thoughtfulness. Sir Donald Macdonald of 
Sleat, the chief commander of the invaders, and whose 
immediate follower Borreray on this occasion was, ap- 
proached him, and inquired of him if the cause of his 
particularly thoughtful mood did not arise from a reluct- 
ance to fight against his clan and kinsmen ; and if so, that 
he was welcome to fall back into the rear and resign his 
" post to such as might not be deterred from doing their 
duty by such treacherous scruples." " Treac/ierous scruples," 
replied Maclean, " I entertain not ; more care for t/tee, and 
thy followers makes me in mood melancholy," and, 
in a half suppressed tone, as if addressing himself, he 



added, " that horrid ! and, I fear, ominously fatal dream ! " 
Macdonald, with fearful anxiety, inquired what dream ? 
"Listen," said Borreray, "you shall hear: at the middle 
hour of the night, as a peaceful slumber came o'er me, a 
voice distinctly repeated the following lines to me : 

An Lichd-Li sin, O ! Lichd-Li ! 

'S ann ort-sa bheirear an dith ! 

'S iad Clann-Ghilleain a bheir buaidh, 

Air an t' shluagh a thig air tir ; 

An Gcarna Dubh sin, 's i 'n Gearna Dubh, 

'S ann innte dhoirtear an fhuil ; 

Marbhar an Ridire ruadh, 

Mu'n teid claidheamh 'n truaill an diugh. 
Feared Lichd Lee* Ah ! dread Lichd Lee ! 
Direful are the deeds the fates have doomed on thee ? 
Defeated by the sons of Gillean the invading multitude shall be, 
On thee Gearna Dubhf streams of blood shall flow ; 
And the bold Red Knight shall meet his death ere a sword is sheathed. 

Borreray's dream worked with the most happy effect upon 
the superstitious credulity of the red knight of Sleat; for find- 
ing the Macleans in full force and most advantageously 
posted at the pass of Gearna Dubh (the dreaded spot where 
the fates had prophesied his downfall), the Macdonalds 
instantly sounded a retreat, and pursued as they were by 
the Macleans, aided by the artful but worthy Borreray, 
who now took his opportunity, accompanied by his 
followers, to change sides, the best Macdonald was he that 
could best run. They were, however, overtaken at the 
very spot where but the day before they landed in high 
hope of making an easy prey of those before whom they 
were now flying ; and so panic-struck and confused were 
they that hardly any resistance was made to the merciless 
attack^of the Macleans at the place of embarkation, pro- 
digious numbers being slain without the loss of a single 
individual on the side of their assailants. 

Soon after this the Macdonalds again returned to be re- 
venged on the Macleans, but they were defeated severely 

* Lichd Lee, the spot where the Macleans were encamped, so named from the 
ground being partially covered with a pavement of smooth flat rocks. 

t A projecting rock or precipice, forming the key of the position occupied by the 


at the Island of Bachca, a little south of Kerrera, with a 
loss of over three hundred Macdonalds, while among a large 
number of prisoners were Donald Gorm Mor of Sleat, 
Macian of Ardnamurchan, Macleod of Lewis, and Macphee 
of Colonsay, while the Macleans are said only to have lost 
" two common soldiers killed, and one gentleman of the 
Morvern Macleans wounded ". The Macdonalds are said by 
their enemies to have been 2500 strong while the Macleans 
only numbered 1200. 

The government now interfered, and Maclean not only 
had to release his prisoners, but had to give hostages to 
Macdonald for his future good behaviour. These hostages 
were afterwards, by proclamation from the council, to be 
given up to the young Earl of Argyll or his guardians, and 
to be conveyed by them wherever his Majesty might direct, 
until a final settlement of the matters in dispute between 
the Macdonalds and the Macleans. Macdonald was pro- 
mised a pardon for his share in the recent slaughters ; and 
the heads of both clans, with their principal supporters and 
allies, were charged to remain quiet and abstain " from all 
conventions or gathering in arms, and from all attacks upon 
each other ; so as not to hinder or disturb his Majesty in 
his attempts to bring about a settlement of their various 
disputes ". 

The king wrote a letter, dated 2Oth April, 1587, with his 
own hand, to the Earl of Huntly, regarding the affairs of 
the Isles, in which he says : " Right-trusty cousin and 
councillor, we greet you heartily well. We doubt not but 
the cruelties and disorders in the Isles these years bygone 
have greatly moved you, whereanent we intend, God will- 
ing, to take some special pains ourself, as well there as in 
the Borders, where we have been lately occupied. . . . 
Always fearing that the Islesmen within the bounds of your 
lieutenancy shall press or make some rising and gathering, 
before conveniently we may put orders to the matters 
standing in controversy in the West Isles, we desire you 
effectuously that with all goodly diligence you send to 
Donald Gormeson, M'Cloyd of the Lewis, M'Cloyd of the 


Harrich, the Clanrannald, and others being of power in 
these parts, willing and commanding them to contain 
themselves in quietness, and that they forbear to make any 
manner of convention or gatherings to the hinder and dis- 
turbance of our good deliberations, for we have written 
effectuously to Angus M'Connell, and have spoken with 
M'Clane, being here for the same effect. And so not 
doubting but you will do what in you lies, that all things 
remain quiet and in good order within the bounds of your 
charge, as ye will do us special and acceptable service. 
Commit you in the protection of Almighty God."* 

An important Act of Parliament, commonly known as 
the " General Band " or Bond, was passed at this time, 
which made it imperative on all landlords, baillies, and 
chiefs of clans, to find sureties to a very large amount in 
proportion to their resources and the number of their 
vassals, for the peaceable behaviour of their followers, and 
provision was made that if any superior, after having pro- 
vided the necessary securities, should fail in making 
immediate reparation for any injuries committed by any of 
those for whom he was held responsible, the aggrieved 
party might proceed at law against the sureties for the 
damage done, and if he failed in reimbursing his securities, 
he was to forfeit a heavy penalty, in addition, to the crown. 

In 1589, we find remissions granted to the Island chiefs 
for all the crimes committed by them " during the late 
feud," and among those who were, in consequence, induced 
to visit Edinburgh to consult with the king and council 
" for the good rule of the country," we find Lachlan Maclean 
of Duart, Angus Macdonald of Isla, and Donald Gorm Mor 
of Sleat. By a breach of faith which no circumstances can 
palliate, these three chiefs were, by order of the govern- 
ment, seized and imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and 
Maclean of Isla was treacherously brought to trial for the 
crimes previously pardoned by remissions under the Privy 
Seal. They were, however, afterwards pardoned, released, 
and permitted to return home on payment of heavy fines, 

* Invernessiana, pp. 245-46. 


amounting, according to one authority, to twenty thousand 
pounds each, under the designation of arrears and crown 
rents, in addition to other harsh conditions. The pardons 
were only to remain in force in the event of their fulfilling 
these harsh conditions in every particular, the king at the 
same time holding himself free to pronounce sentence of 
death and forfeiture upon them in case of future dis- 
obedience. Isla, before he was liberated, had to give in to 
the council his two sons and one of his nearest relations as 
hostages, for his appearance on a fixed day, and even if he 
did appear as arranged, his hostages were to be detained 
until his relative, Donald Gorm of Sleat, who was liberated 
at the same time, should place hostages in the hands of the 
council for implementing the conditions of his release, 
which, in thejatter case, was four thousand pounds, under the 
name of crown rents and feudal casualties for his lands. 
John Campbell, of Calder, guardian to the young Earl of 
Argyll, became surety for implementing these condi- 
tions by the two Macdonald chiefs, and having, on the 
application of Bowes, the English ambassador, found 
further sureties for their good behaviour towards the 
government of Ireland, they were finally liberated. Cir- 
cumstances followed which led them afterwards to abstain 
from carrying out the conditions of their release, and finally 
they placed themselves in open and avowed opposition to 
government. They were consequently, on the I4th of 
July, charged to appear before the Privy Council to fulfil 
the conditions of release imposed upon them, and failing 
their appearance the pardons previously granted to them 
were to be declared null, and immediate steps to be taken 
to forfeit their lands and other possessions, while Isla's 
hostages, including his two sons, were to be executed. 
These proceedings were afterwards ratified by a Parliament 
held in June, 1592, when the three estates agreed to assist 
his Majesty with their " bodies, counsel, and whole force to 
make his authority be obeyed by his subjects, and to cause 
the treasonable and barbarous rebels of Hielandis and His 
to be punished and repressed, as they have worthily 


deserved." To carry this agreement into effect there were 
produced in Parliament, next year, summonses of treason, 
duly executed, against Angus Macdonald of Isla, Donald 
Gorm of Sleat, John Macian of Ardnamurchan, and others 
their associates, for certain crimes of treason and lese- 
majesty committed by them ; but the more important 
proceedings against the Earls of Huntly, Angus, Errol, and 
other Catholic lords who were at the time plotting with 
Philip of Spain for the restoration of the Catholic religion 
in Scotland, prevented the government from carrying out 
for the time their proceedings against the Island chiefs. In 
June, 1594, however, they, with Maclean of Duart, still 
remaining contumacious, were forfeited by Parliament. 
Donald Gorm, little concerned as to this, with Ruari Mor 
Macleod of Harris, led 500 each of their followers to Ulster 
to assist Red Hugh O'Donnel, chief of the Irish branch 
of the Siol Cuinn, at the time in rebellion against the Eng- 
lish Queen Elizabeth. After meeting with Red Hugh and 
enjoying his hospitality for three days, Donald Gorm bade 
him farewell and returned home, leaving his followers in 
Ireland under command of his brother. In the following 
year we find Donald Gorm and Macdonald of Isla, on the 
application of the English ambassador, charged by the 
Privy Council to desist from assisting the Irish rebels. 

The Island chiefs still continued contumacious, and early 
in 1 596, to compel their submission, " the king, by advice 
both of the Privy Council and of the estates of Parliament, 
then sitting, resolved to proceed against the Islanders in 
person. A proclamation to this effect was issued in the 
month of May, by which all Earls, Lords, Barons, and free- 
holders worth above three hundred merks of yearly rent, 
and the whole burgesses of the realm were sum- 
moned to meet his Majesty at Dumbarton, on the 1st 
day of August, well armed, and with forty days' provisions ; 
and likewise provided with vessels to carry them to the 
Isles. Disobedience to this summons was to infer loss of 
life, lands, and goods. The effect of this proclamation was 
soon evident. Maclean and Macdonald of Sleat imme- 


diatcly repaired to court, and upon making their sub- 
mission and satisfying the demands of the exchequer, by 
agreeing to augment their rents, and to make certain other 
concessions, were received into favour, and restored against 
the acts of forfeiture under which they had been for two 
years. Roderick Macleod of Harris and Donald (Mac 
Angus) of Glengarry made their submission about the 
same time."* The original papers connected with Donald 
Gorm's submission are to be found in the Register House, 
from which it will be seen that he was on this occasion 
formally recognised as the heir of Hugh of Sleat, brother of 
John, last Earl of Ross, and as great-grandson of Donald, 
second Earl of Ross, and Lord of the Isles. 

In 1 597, an act of Parliament was passed in reference to 
the Highlands and Isles. The preamble bears that the 
inhabitants of the Highlands and Isles had not only 
neglected to pay the yearly rents, and to perform the 
services due from their lands to the crown, but that they 
had likewise, through their " barbarous inhumanity," made 
the Highlands and Isles, naturally so valuable from the 
fertility of the soil and the richness of the fisheries, alto- 
gether unprofitable either to themselves or to their fellow- 
countrymen. The natives are further described as neither 
cultivating any " civil or honest society " among them- 
selves, nor admitting others to traffic with them in safety. 
It is therefore, by this Act, made imperative upon all 
landlords, chieftains, leader of clans, principal householders, 
heritors, and others possessing, or pretending right to, any 
in the Highlands and Isles, to produce their various title- 
deeds before the Lords of the Exchequer upon the 1 5th day 
of May, 1598. They were further enjoined at the same 
time to find security for the regular payment of their rents 
to the crown, and for the peaceable and orderly behaviour 
of themselves, and of those for whom, by the law, they 
were bound to answer ; particularly in regard to those 
individuals desirous of trading in the Highlands and Isles. 
The penal part of the Act was, however, the most im- 

* Gregory's Highlands and Isles, pp. 263-64. 


portant. Disobedience to any of the injunctions above 
detailed, was made, by a harsh exercise of the highest 
powers of Parliament, to infer absolute forfeiture of all 
titles, real or pretended, which any of the recusants might 
possess to lands in the Highlands and Isles.* Taking into 
consideration both the loss of title-deeds, which, in the 
unsettled state of the country, must have been a very 
common occurrence and the difficulty which many even of 
the most powerful chiefs could not fail to experience, in 
finding the requisite bail for their peaceable and orderly 
behaviour, as well as that of their vassals and tenants it is 
evident this act was prepared with a view to place at the 
disposal of the crown, in a summary manner, many large 
tracts of land ; affording thus an opportunity to the king 
to commence his favourite plans for the improvement of 
the Highlands and Isles. It is not much to the credit of 
James, that the state papers relating to these projects show 
clearly that they sprung, not from the higher motives 
which have made some monarchs the benefactors of man- 
kind, but from the necessity of replenishing an exchequer 
which had been drained chiefly by his private extravagance 
and by his excessive liberality to unworthy favourites. 

No record has been kept of those who presented them- 
selves in terms of the act on the I5th of May, 1598, but it is 
known that the islands of Lewis and Harris, and the lands 
of Dunvegan and Glenelg were declared to be at the dis- 
posal of the crown, though it is undoubted that Roderick 
Macleod of Harris held unexceptionable titles to the first 
three named. He, however, managed, after many diffi- 
culties, to retain his properties ; but it was different with 
the Macleods of Lewis. Donald Gorm of Sleat had only 
recently obtained a lease of their lands of Troternish, and 
this district as well as their whole island principality was 
now forfeited and granted to a company of Lowland 
adventurers, the principal of whom were the Duke of 
Lennox; Patrick, Commendator of Lindores ; William, 
Commendator of Pittenweem ; Sir James Anstruther, 

* This Act is given in full in the Transactions of the lona Club, pp. 157-58, 


younger of that Ilk ; Sir James Sandilands of Slamanno, 
James Leirmonth of Balcolmly, James Spens of Wormes- 
toun, John Forret of Fingask, David Home, younger of 
Wedderburn; and Captain William Murray. These, at the 
same time, received grants of the lands belonging to Macleod 
of Harris ; but they were never able even to occupy them ; 
and it is already known to the readers of "The History of 
the Mackenzics " how the more interested island lords 
Macleod of Harris, Donald Gorm of Sleat, and Mackenzie 
of Kintail ultimately disposed of the lowland adventurers 
and the Island of Lewis. 

Tytler informs us, after describing the doings at court, 
that in 1598 "the royal mind, relapsing into sobriety, 
turned to the Isles and Donald Gorm Macdonald. This 
potent Highland chieftain had recently made advances to 
Elizabeth ; and it is not uninteresting to remark the statc- 
liness with which a prince among the Northern Vikingr 
approached the English Semiramis. He styles himself 
Lord of the Isles of Scotland, and chief of the Clan Donnel 
Irishmen ; and after a proud enumeration of the petty 
island princes and chiefs who were ready to follow him in 
all his enterprises, he offered, upon certain ' reasonable 
motives and considerations,' to embrace the service of the 
Queen of England, and to persuade the Isles to throw off 
all allegiance to the Scottish crown. He and his asso- 
ciates were ready, they declared, on a brief warning, to stir 
up rebellion throughout all the bounds of the mainland, to 
' fasche ' his Majesty, and weary the whole estates ; to 
create a necessity for new taxation, and thus disgust all 
classes of his subjects. To induce Elizabeth to embrace 
these proposals, Donald informed the queen that he knew 
the secret history of the Scottish king's intercourse with 
her arch-rebel Tyrone, and could lay before her the whole 
intrigues of the Catholic earls lately reconciled to the kirk, 
but 'meaning nothing less in their hearts than that which they 
showed outwardly to the world'. He would disclose also, he 
said, the secret practices in Scotland; and prove with what 
activity the Northern Jesuits and seminary priests had been 

12 A 


weaving their meshes, and pushing forward their ' diabolical, 
pestiferous, and anti-Christian courses ; which he, Donald 
Gorm Macdonald, protested before God and his angels he 
detested with his whole soul. All this he was ready to do 
upon ' good deservings and honest courtesies,' to be offered 
him by the Queen of England ; to whose presence he pro- 
mised to repair upon a moment's warning."* The same 
writer continues, " What answer was given by the English 
queen to these generous and disinterested proposals does 
not appear ; although the letter of Donald Gorm, who 
made it, is marked in many places by Burghley with the 
trembling hand of sickness and old age. It is probable 
that under the term ' honest courtesies,' more substantial 
rewards were found to be meant than Elizabeth was willing 
to bestow ; and that the perpetual feuds, massacres, and 
conspiracies which occurred amongst the Highland chiefs 
and their followers disgusted this princess, and shook her 
confidence in any treaties or alliances proposed by such 
savage auxiliaries."! 

In 1 599, a commission of lieutenandry over the Isles and 
West Highlands was granted to the Duke of Lennox, who 
had meanwhile been under a cloud and again restored to 
favour. The inhabitants are described as being guilty of 
the grossest impiety and the most atrocious barbarities. 
In 1601, another commission was granted to Lennox and 
Huntly, but they appear to have taken no active steps to 
bring the Islanders under subjection. The attention of the 
government was, at the same time, occupied apart from 
the civilization of the Lewis and Kintyre and the general 
measures proposed for the improvement of the Isles by a 
sudden quarrel, followed by much bloodshed and various 
desolating inroads which arose between the two great chiefs 
in the Isle of Skye, Donald Gorm Macdonald of Sleat and 
Ruari Macleod of Dunvegan. Donald Gorm had married 
Macleod's sister ; but owing to some jealousy or other cause 

* MS. in the state-paper-office, endorsed by Burghley ' ' Donald Gorm Mac- 
donald, March 1598." 

) History of Scotland, vol. iv., p. 267. 


of displeasure conceived against her, he repudiated that 
lady. Macleod being informed of this was highly offended, 
and sent a message to Donald Gorm desiring him to take 
back his wife. This the latter refused ; but on the contrary 
set about procuring a legal divorce, in which he succeeded, 
and immediately afterwards married a sister of Kenneth 
Mackenzie of Kintail. Macleod, in the first transports of 
his resentment at this indignity, assembled his clan and 
carried fire and sword through Macdonald's district of 
Troternish, in Skye. The Clandonald, in revenge, invaded 
Harris, which island they laid waste in a similar manner, 
killing many of the inhabitants and carrying off the cattle. 
This retaliation roused the Macleods to make a foray upon 
Macdonald's estate of North Uist, and, accordingly they 
sailed from Skye towards that Island ; and on arriving 
there, the Chief sent his kinsman, Donald Glas Macleod, 
with forty men to lay waste the Island, and to bring off 
from the Church of Kiltrynad the cattle and effects of the 
country people, which, on the alarm being given, had been 
placed there for safety. In the execution of these orders 
Donald Glas was encountered by a celebrated warrior of 
the Clandonald, nearly related to their chief, called Donald 
Maclan Mhic Sheumais, who had only twelve men with him. 
The Macdonalds behaved with so much gallantry on this 
occasion that they routed their opponents and rescued the 
cattle, Donald Glas and many of his men being killed. 
The Chief of Dunvegan, seeing the ill success of this 
detachment, and suspecting that a larger force was at hand, 
returned home, meditating future vengeance. These spolia- 
tions and incursions were carried on with so much inveteracy 
that both clans were carried to the brink of ruin ; and many 
of the natives of the districts thus devastated were forced to 
sustain themselves by killing and eating their horses, dogs, 
and cats. At length, in the year 1601, while Ruari Macleod 
was absent seeking assistance from the Earl of Argyll 
against his enemies, the Macdonalds invaded Macleod's 
lands in Skye in considerable numbers, wishing to force on 
a battle. The Macleods, under Alexander, the brother of 


of their chief, took post on the shoulder of the Coolins (a 
very high and rugged mountain or ridge of hills in Skye), 
and did not decline the contest. After a fierce and obstin- 
ate combat, in which both parties fought with great bravery, 
the Macleods were overthrown. Their leader, with thirty 
of their choicest warriors fell into the hands of the victors ; 
and two of the chiefs immediate relations, and many others, 
were slain. The Privy Council now interfered to prevent 
further mischief. The Marquis of Huntly and the Earl of 
Argyll, and all others, were prohibited from giving assist- 
ance to either of the contending parties ; whilst the chiefs 
themselves were ordered to disband their forces and to quit 
the island in the meantime. Macleod was enjoined to give 
himself up to the Earl of Argyll, and Macdonald to sur- 
render to Huntly, and both were strictly charged, under 
the penalty of treason, to remain with these noblemen till 
the controversy between them should be settled by the 
king and council. A reconciliation was at length effected 
between them by the mediation of Angus Macdonald of 
Isla, Maclean of Coll, and other friends ; after which the 
prisoners taken at " the battle of Benquhillin " were re- 
leased ; and, ever after, these clans refrained from open 
hostility, and submitted their disputes to the decision of the 

In 1608, Andrew Stewart, Lord Ochiltree, and Sir James 
Hay of Kingask proceeded to the Isles, armed with powers, 
to confer and come to certain terms with the Island chiefs. 
At Maclean's castle, Aros, Mull, he met Angus Macdonald 
of Isla, Maclean of Duart, Lachlan his brother, Donald 
Gorm Mor of Sleat, Donald MacAllan, captain of Clan- 
ranald ; Ruari Macleod of Harris, Alastair his brother, and 
several others. Here the proud lords agreed to the 
following humiliating conditions : "That they should 
forthwith give security for the regular payment of his ma- 
jesty's rents ; deliver up their castles and strongholds, to be at 
the disposal of the king ; that they should renounce all the 
feudal privileges claimed by them ; submit themselves 

* Highlands and Isles, pp. 292-297. 


wholly to the jurisdiction of the laws, and be accountable 
that others dependent on them did the same ; that they 
should deliver up their birlinns, galleys, and all vessels of 
war to be destroyed ; that they should send their children 
to the seats of learning in the lowlands to be educated under 
the protection of his Majesty's Privy Council as became the 
children of barons and gentlemen of the land." They 
however, soon suspected that Ochiltree was not altogether 
to be depended upon in his " fair words, promising to be 
their friend, and to deal with the king in their favour ". 
Angus Macdonald of Isla, having agreed to everything, 
was permitted to go home ; but finding the others not quite 
ready to do Ochiltree's bidding in the end, he invited them 
on board the King's ship Moon, to hear a sermon preached 
by his chief counsellor, Bishop Knox of the Isles, after 
which they were to dine with him. Ruari Macleod, shrewdly 
suspecting some sinister design, refused to go aboard the 
ship, and his suspicion proved only too true ; for immedi- 
ately after dinner Ochiltree informed his guests that they 
were his prisoners by the king's orders ; and, weighing 
anchor, he at once set sail for Ayr, and thence proceeded, 
taking his prisoners with him, to Edinburgh, where they 
were confined, by order of the Privy Council, in the castles 
of Dumbarton, Blackness, and Stirling. The imprisonment 
of the chiefs induced many of their followers to submit 
to the king's representatives, and the arrangements after- 
wards made became a starting point for a gradual and per- 
manent improvement in the Highlands and Western Isles. 
In 1609, the famous "statutes of Icolmkil " were entered 
into by the Island chiefs, who had meanwhile been set at 
liberty among the rest Donald Gorm Mor with the Bishop 
of the Isles. The statues are thus summarised : The first 
proceeded upon the narrative of the gross ignorance and 
barbarity of the Islanders, alleged to have arisen partly 
from the small number of their clergy, and partly from the 
contempt in which that small number of pastors was held. 
To remedy this state of things, it was agreed that proper 
obedience should be given to the clergy (whose number, 


much diminished by the Reformation, it was proposed to 
increase) ; that their stipends should be regularly paid ; 
that ruinous churches should be re-built ; that the Sabbaths 
should be solemnly kept ; and that, in all respects they 
should observe the discipline of the Reformed kirk as es- 
tablished by Act of Parliament. By one of the clauses of 
this statute, marriages contracted for certain years were 
declared illegal ; a proof that the ancient practice of 
hand-fasting still prevailed to some extent. The second 
statute ordained the establishment of inns at the most con- 
venient places in the several Isles ; and this not only for 
the convenience of travellers, but to relieve the tenants and 
labourers of the ground from the great burden and expense 
caused to them through the want of houses of public enter- 
tainment. The third statute was intended to diminish the 
number of idle persons, whether masterless vagabonds, or be- 
longing to the households of chiefs and landlords ; for experi- 
ence had shown that the expense of supporting these idlers 
fell chiefly upon the tenantry, in addition to their usual rents. 
It was therefore enacted that no man should be allowed to 
reside within the Isles who had not a sufficient revenue of 
his own ; or who at least did not follow some trade by 
which he might live. With regard to the great households 
hitherto kept by the chiefs, a limit was put to the number 
of individuals of which each household was to consist in 
future, according to the rank and estate of the master ; and 
it was further provided that each chief should support his 
household from his own means not by a tax upon his 
tenantry. The fourth statute provided that all persons not 
natives of the Isles, who should be found sorning, or living 
at free quarters upon the poor inhabitants (an evil which 
seems to have reached a great height), should be tried and 
punished by the judge ordinary as thieves and oppressors. 
The fifth statute proceeded upon the narrative, that one of 
the chief causes of the great poverty of the Isles, and of the 
cruelty and inhuman barbarity practised in their feuds, 
was their inordinate love of strong wines and aquavitae, 
which they purchased, partly from dealers among them- 


selves, partly from merchants belonging to the mainland. 
Power was, therefore, given to any person whatever to seize, 
without payment, any wine or aquavite imported for sale 
by a native merchant ; and if any Islander should buy any 
of the prohibited articles from a mainland trader, he was to 
incur the penalty of forty pounds for the first offence, one 
hundred for the second, and for the third, the loss of his 
whole possessions and moveable goods. It was, however, 
declared to be lawful for an individual to brew as much 
aquavitae as his own family might require ; and the barons 
and wealthy gentlemen were permitted to purchase in the 
lowlands the wine and other liquors required for their 
private consumption. The sixth statute attributed the 
"ignorance and incivilitee" of the Islanders to the neglect 
of good education among the youth ; and, to remedy this 
fault, enacted that every gentleman or yeoman possessed 
of sixty cattle, should send his eldest son, or, if he had no 
male children, his eldest daughter, to school in the low- 
lands, and maintain his child there till it learned to speak, 
read, and write English. The seventh statute forbade the 
use of any description of fire-arms, even for the destruction 
of game, under the penalties contained in an Act of Par- 
liament passed in the (then) present reign, which had never 
yet received obedience from the Islanders "owing to their 
monstrous deadly feuds ". The eighth statute was directed 
against the bards and other idlers of that class. The 
gentry were forbidden to encourage them ; and the bards 
themselves were threatened, first with the stocks and then 
with banishment. The ninth statute contained some 
necessary enactments for enforcing obedience to the pre- 
ceding acts. Such were the statutes of Icolmkill ; for the 
better observance of which, and of the laws of the realm 
and Acts of Parliament in general, the bishop took from 
the assembled chiefs a very strict bond. This bond, more- 
over, contained a sort of confession of faith on the part of 
the subscribers, and an unconditional acknowledgment of 
his majesty's supreme authority in all matters both spiritual 


and temporal, according to his " most loveable act of su- 
premacy ".* 

Shortly after this a proclamation was issued by which 
the inhabitants of the mainland of Argyll were prohibited 
from buying cattle, horses, or other goods within any of the 
Western Isles, but the Island chiefs having complained of 
this as an oppressive act which made it impossible for them 
to pay his majesty's claims, and injured his revenue from 
the Isles, the harsh order was immediately annulled. 

In 1610, six of the Island lords, including Donald Gorm 
of Sleat, attended in Edinburgh to hear his majesty's plea- 
sure declared respecting the arrangements already set forth 
as having been agreed to between them and the Bishop of the 
Isles. They further agreed to concur with and assist the 
king's lieutenants, justices, and commissioners in all ques- 
tions connected with the government of the Isles ; to live 
at peace among themselves, and to submit all questions of 
difference and dispute to the ordinary courts of law ; and 
the result was that in the following year, the Isles were 
almost entirely free from all disorder and rebellion. 

By a letter, dated 5th of November, 1611, King James 
granted to Andrew, Bishop of the Isles " all and quhatsum- 
ever soumes of money sail he found rest auntentand to his 
Majestic by Donald Gorme of Slaitte " and several other 
Highland Chiefs, " for yair pairties quhatsumever taxationes 
grantit to his Majestic, within his said kingdom, at any time 
preceeding the first day of July 1606". 

In 1613, we find the chief of Sleat on record as having 
settled with the exchequer, and " continuing in his obedience 
to the laws". In the following year he is the only one of 
the great chiefs of the Isles who supports the bishop, as his 
majesty's lieutenant, in putting down the rebellion of the 
Macdonalds of Isla. Few of the clan, however, could be 
induced to follow him. In 1615, he is found plotting with 
Sir James Macdonald of Isla, who, with the chiefs of Kep- 
poch, Morar, and Knoydart, visited him at Sleat, where 

* Highlands and Isles. 


they held a lengthened conference. Donald Gorm did not, 
however, join them openly, but many of his followers had 
done so with his full cognisance and consent. Later on, in 
the same year, he received instructions from the Privy 
Council to defend his own estates against the pirate, Coll 
MacGillespic, for which purpose he was permitted to 
employ two hundred men. It was confidently stated, 
at this period that neither Donald Gorm nor any of the 
other leading Islanders could be depended upon to proceed 
against their clansmen of Isla and the South Isles, had they 
been requested to do so. Indeed several of their leading 
vassals were in the ranks of the rebellious chief of Isla. 
This insurrection was, however, after considerable difficulty 
crushed, and in 1616 the leading Island chiefs had again to 
appear in Edinburgh and bind themselves mutually, as 
securities for each other, to the observance of very severe 
and humiliating conditions ; one of these being that they 
would appear before the Privy Council on the loth of July 
in each year and oftener if required, and another, that they 
should annually exhibit a certain number of their kinsmen 
out of a larger list named by the Council. Their house- 
holds were to be reduced to a small number of gentlemen 
followers. They were not allowed to carry pistols or hack- 
buts except on the king's service, and none but the chiefs 
and the gentlemen of their households were to wear swords 
or armour, or any weapons whatever. They were bound to 
reside at certain stated places, and had to build, without 
delay, " civil and comlie " houses, or repair their decayed 
residences, and to have " policie and planting " about them ; 
and to take mains or home farms into their own hands, 
which they were to cultivate " to the effect that they might 
be thereby exercised and eschew idleness". The rest of 
their lands they must let to tenants at fixed rents. No 
single chief was to have more than one birlinn or galley of 
sixteen or eighteen oars, and, after providing for the educa- 
tion of their children in the Lowlands,* the quantity of 

* This provision regarding education was confirmed by an Act of Privy Council, 
which bore, that " the chief and principal! caus quilk hes procurit and procuris the 



wine to be used in their houses was declared and very 
much restricted from what they had been in the habit of 
using, and none of their tenants were to be permitted by 
them to buy or drink any wine whatever. Immediately 
after and in support of these conditions the Privy Council 
passed a very strict general Act against excessive drinking, 
because, it was declared in the preamble, " the great and 
extraordinary excesse in drinking of vvyne, commonlie usit 
among the commonis and tenantis of the Ylis, is not only 
ane occasioun of the beastlie and barbarous cruelties and 
inhumanities that fallis oute amongis thame, to the offens 
and displeasour of God, and contempt of law and justice ; but 
with that it drawis nomberis of thame to miserable necessitie 
and povartie, sua that they arc constraynit quhen thay 
want from their awne, to tak from thair nichtbours". 

Donald Gorm was very unwell and unable to accom- 
pany the other Island chiefs to Edinburgh ; but he ratified 
all their proceedings, agreed to the conditions, and furnished 
the necessary securities by a bond, dated in August, 1616. 

continuance of barbaritie, impietie, and incivilitie within the Yllis of this kingdome, 
hes proceidit from the small cair that the chiftanes and principal! clannitmen of the 
Yllis hes haid of the educatioun and upbringing of thair childrene in vertew and 
lerning ; who, being cairles of thair duties in that poynte, and keiping thair childrene 
still at home with thame, whair they see nothing in thair tendir yeiris but the bar- 
barous and incivile formes of the countrie, thay ar thairby maid to apprehend that 
thair is no uther formes of dewtie and civilitie keept in any uther pairt of the cuntrie ; 
sua that, when thay come to the yeiris of maturitie, hardlie can thay be reclamed 
from these barbarous, rude, and incivile formes, quhilk, for lack of instructioun, war 
bred and sailed in thame, in their youthe ; whairas, if they had bcne sent to the 
inland (the low country) in thair youthe, and trainit up in vertew, lerning, and the 
Inglische tongue, thay wald haif bene the bettir prepairit to reforme thair countreyis, 
and to reduce the same to godliness, obedience, and civilitie." Another account, 
written about the same time, assigns a very different character to the people. The 
writer praises the inhabitants of Skye for their hospitality to strangers, their veneration 
for their chiefs and king, their activity in field sports, and for their taste for poetry, 
music, and traditional lore, while the females are described as " verie modest, 
temperet in their dyet and apparell, excessively grieved at the death of any near 
relation "; and all honour " ther ministers in a high degree, to whose care, under 
God, they owe ther freedom from idolatrie, and many superstitiouse customes". The 
Island itself is blest with a good and temperate air, which, though sometimes foggy 
and often surrounded with mist, so that they can scarce be discerned, yet the sum- 
mer, by reason of the continual and gentle winds, so abating the heat and the 
thickness of the air yet frequent showers in the winter, so " asswageing the cold, 
that neither the one nor the other proves obnoxious to the inhabitants, the summer 
not scorching nor the winter benumming them ". 


He named the Castle of Duntulm as his residence, and was 
allowed six household gentlemen, with an annual consump- 
tion of four tuns of wine ; while he had to exhibit three of 
his principal kinsmen annually to the Privy Council. The 
haughty Lords having petitioned the king, were afterwards, 
with some of their nearest relations, licensed to use fire- 
arms, for their own sport, within a mile of their residences. 
The families of Sleat and Kintail were on sufficiently 
friendly terms for several years during the latter part of 
Donald Gorm's life. This was mainly due to a happy 
marriage alliance. The following incident will show the 
relationship which existed between the two families 
and their retainers, and, at the same time, some of the 
peculiar customs of the period, and the social state of 
the country. We have already made the acquaintance of 
Duncan Macrae who killed Donald Gorm of Sleat, at 
Islandonain, in 1539. He had a son, Christopher, of whom 
we are told that " he was prudent and solid in counsel and 
advice, bold, forward, and daring, when need required, yet 
remarkably merciful during the bloody wars twixt Mac- 
Kenzie and Glengarry ". Our authority proceeds " The 
greatest fault his friends found with Christopher was his 
being too great a comrade and companion ; for, when he 
went to Chancry or Inverness, the first thing he did, was to 
call his landlord, the vintner, and with him, pitch upon and 
agree for the hogshead of wine that pleased him best, 
resolving to drink it all, with his acquaintances, before he 
left the town. It was said of him, if he was as frugal in 
keeping as he was industrious in acquiring, he had proved 
a very rich man in his own country ; for he was the first 
man there who drove cows to the south country mercates, 
and to that end bought cows yearly, from MacKenzie's, 
MacDonald's, and Maclean's estates. He was a great 
favourite of MacDonald and did him a piece of service he 
could not forget which was thus : Donald Gorm Mor, 
who was married to MacKenzie's daughter, having, with his 
lady, gone south, and staying longer than he had expected, 
was necessitated to borrow money, which he promised to 


pay on a certain day, and being obliged to go home in order 
to get the money, left his lady at Perth, till his return. 
Meantime, Christopher having sold his drove, and hearing 
that his master's daughter, Lady MacDonald, was at Saint 
Johnstown, i.e., Perth., he went to visit her, and being in- 
formed of the cause of her stay, and that of MacDonald's 
going home, told her he had money to answer all her de- 
mands, and even sufficient to carry her home ; advised her 
clear all and set out immediately, not doubting but she 
might overtake MacDonald at home, and prevent his having 
the trouble and risque of going south. And so it hap- 
pened, for she gladly accepting the compliment, they, early 
next day, went homeward, and having arrived the second 
day after MacDonald, he was greatly surprised till his lady 
informed him what Christopher had done. MacDonald 
and his lady insisted for his staying some days, and 
entertained him very kindly ; and on the day they were to 
part, Christopher, being still warm with drink, called for a 
large cup-full of strong waters, proposing as a compliment, 
to drink it all to MacDonald's good health. MacDonald 
supposing himself bound to return the compliment, by 
drinking as much as Christopher, said, ' I hope you don't 
mean to kill me by taking such a quantity of this liquor ? ' 
to which Christopher answered, ' Sir, and is it not natural, 
since my father killed your father ? ' And while MacDonald 
only smiled and said it was true, some of the bystanders, 
his attendants, drew their dirks, threatening to be at Chris- 
topher, and would undoubtedly have killed him, had not 
Sir Donald interposed, and conveyed him safe to his boat. 
Christopher was afterwards ashamed of what he had said, 
but MacDonald and he continued very fast friends."* 

Donald Gorm Mor Macdonald married, first, Margaret, 
daughter of Tormod Macleod of Harris and Dunvegan, and 
XIII th Baron of that Ilk, whom he afterwards divorced as 
already described. 

He married, secondly, Mary, daughter of Colin Cam 

* Genealogy of the MacRas, written by the Rev. John MacRa, minister of 
Dingwall, who died in 1704. 


Mackenzie, XI th Baron, and sister of Kenneth, first Lord 
Mackenzie of Kintail ; but dying without issue, in Decem- 
ber, 1616, he was succeeded by his nephew, (son of his 
brother Archibald, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Angus 
Macdonald of Isla and the Glynns, ancestor of the Earls 
of Antrim), 


Eighth baron and first baronet of Sleat, who, on the 6th of 
May, 1617, was served heir to his uncle, Donald Gorm, 
in the lands of Sleat, North Uist, Skerdhoug, Bcnbecula, 
Gcrgriminish, Skolpick, Griminish, Tallow Martin, Orronsay 
Mainlies, and the Island of Giligary, all in the Lordship of 
the Isles. In July of the same year he, with Sir Donald 
Mac Allan Mhic Ian, Captain of Clanranald, and other 
chiefs, appeared before the Privy Council, and he continued 
to do so regularly, in terms of his engagement, for some 
time after. An action at law which was begun during the 
life of his father against Sir Roderick Mor Maclcod of 
Dunvegan about some lands in Skye, was continued by Sir 
Donald Gorm Og. In 1618, an agreement by arbitration 
was arrived at, in Edinburgh, by which Sir Roderick 
Macleod was to receive a certain sum of money for his 
claims upon the lands in question, and that in order to pay 
himself he was to have possession of them for several years, 
when, at the time specified in the decree, they should return 
to Sir Donald and his heirs. In 1622, Donald Macdonald 
of Sleat, Sir Roderick Macleod of Harris, John Macdonald, 
Captain of Clanranald, son of Sir Donald MacAllan, among 
others, appeared before the Privy Council, on which occasion 
several acts of importance to the Isles were enacted. They 
became bound " to builde and repaire their Paroche Kirkis 
at the Sicht of the Bishope of the His ".* Masters of ships 
were prohibited from importing more wine to the Isles than 
the quantity allowed to the chiefs and their leading vassals 

, * This document, bearing date 23rd July, 1622, in given in full at p. 122, Col- 
lectanea de Rebus Albanicis. 


by the Act of 1617, alrcadly quoted. The reason given in 
the preamble for this protective measure is, that one of the 
causes which retarded the civilisation of the Isles was the 
great quantity of wine imported yearly, " with the insatiable 
desyre quhairof the said Islanders are so far possest, that, 
when thair arryvis any schip or other veschell there with 
wines, they spend both dayes and nights in their excesse 
of drinking sa lang as thair is anie of the wyne left ; sua 
that, being overcome with drink, their fallis oute many 
inconvenientis amangis thame, to the breck of his Majesty's 
peace ". By the same act Donald Gorm, Clanranald, and 
Mackinnon, were prohibited, under heavy penalties, from 
interfering, or in any way molesting those engaged in the 
fishings throughout the Isles. 

Donald Gorm Og was a steady loyalist, and, according 
to Douglas's Baronage, "a man of singular integrity and 
merit, a firm and steady friend of that unfortunate prince," 
King Charles the First, by whom he was highly favoured 
and esteemed. 

In 1625, he was created a Baronet of Novia Scotia, by 
patent, dated I4th July, which contained a clause " that he 
and his heirs male and assigns should have precedency 
before Sir William Douglas of Glenbervy, Sir Alexander 
Strachan of Thorntown, and Sir David Livingstone of 
Dunipace, by which he became the next baronet to Sir 
Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun, and the second of that 
order in the Kingdom of Scotland". When, in 1639, the 
civil war broke out in Scotland, Charles was so anxious to 
secure the assistance and influence of the chief of Sleat, 
that he wrote him a letter from his camp at Berwick, dated 
the nth of June in that year, in which he promised him 
" the lands of Punard, Ardnamurchan, and Strathardill, the 
Islands of Roume, Muck, and Cannay, which were to accrue 
to him by the forfeiture of the Earl of Argyle, Sir Dugald 
Campbell, and Mackinnon, seeing that Sir Donald at this 
time stood out for the good of his Majesty's service, and 
was resolved to undergo the hazard of his person and his 
estate for the same ; all of which he promises on the word 1 


of a king, to ratify to Sir Donald and his heirs, in any 
manner they shall think proper, provided that he use his 
best endeavours in his service at this time, according to his 
Majesty's commission."* He was able to communicate 
many of the designs and plans of the Covenanters in the 
North, which proved of great service to the king, and he nego- 
tiated with the Marquis of Antrim, chief of the Macdonells 
of Ireland, for a body of troops, who were to cross into Scot- 
land and serve on the king's side, against the Covenanters, 
but he died before they arrived, and ere an opportunity 
presented itself to him to give his active services in the field. 
He married Janet, daughter of Kenneth, first Lord 
Mackenzie of Kintail, sister of Colin Ruadh and of George, 
first and second Earls of Seaforth, and by her had issue 

1. Sir James, who succeeded. 

2. Donald of Castleton, who distinguished himself after- 
wards in the civil wars [See Macdonalds of Castleton]. 

3. Archibald. 4. Angus. 5. Alexander. 

6. Margaret, who married ALneas Macdonell, ninth of 
Glengarry, raised to the Peerage by the title of Lord Mac- 
donell and Arcs in 1660, without issue. 

7. Katherine, who married Kenneth Mackenzie, VI of 
Gairloch, without issue. The contract is dated 5th Septem- 
ber, 1635, in which the marriage portion is declared to be 
6000 merks, with an endowment of 1000 libs, scots yearly, f 

8 Janet, who married Donald Macdonald of Moydart, 
Captain of Clanranald, with issue, and 

9. Mary, who, as his first wife, married Sir Ewen Cameron 
of Lochiel, without issue. 

Sir Donald died in October, 1643, and was succeeded by 
his eldest son, 


Ninth baron and second baronet of Sleat, served heir to 
his father on the 2Oth February, 1644. He joined Montrose 

* Wood's Douglas' Peerage of Scotland. 

t History and Genealogies of the Clan Mackenzie, by the same author, p. 331. 


in 1645, and several of his followers fought with him at the 
battle of Inverlochy. He also sent a considerable body, to 
to the assistance of Charles II., when he marched into 
England in 1651, many of whom fought with him in the 
battle of Worcester. In 1646, he and the Earl of Scaforth 
were with Montrose when he retired with his supporters 
westward through the valley of Strathglass, and where, on 
receipt of a communication from the king, he disbanded 
his followers; quitted the country shortly after; and left Sir 
James and Seaforth to make the best of their way to their 
respective homes. 

In the beginning of the same year, 1646, Montrose 
came north to recruit his army. Seaforth raised his men 
and advertised " his foresaid neighbours to come, but none 
came except Sir James Macdonald, who, with Seaforth, 
joined Montrose at Inverness, which they besieged, but 
Middleton, who then served in the Scots armies in England, 
being sent with nearly 1000 horse and 600 foot, coming 
suddenly the length of Inverness, stopped Montrose's pro- 
gress. Montrose was forced to raise the siege and quit the 
campaign, and retired with Seaforth and Sir James Mac- 
donald to the hills of Strathglass, to await the arrival of the 
rest of their confederates, Lord Reay, Glengarry, Maclean 
and several others, who, with such as were ready to join 
him south were likely to make a formidable array for the 
king ; but in the meantime, the king having come to the 
Scots army, the first thing they extorted from him was to 
send a herald to Montrose, commanding him to disband his 
forces, and pass over to France till his Majesty's further 

When Charles II. marched into England in 1651, Sir 
James sent several of his vassals to his assistance. The 
king and his followers being defeated at the battle of 
Worcester, the royal cause was for the time ruined, and Sir 
James retired to his residence in the Isle of Skye, where 
" he lived with great circumspection." He was a man of 
great intelligence and ability, highly esteemed and trusted 

* Ardintoul MS., quoted at pp. 197-190, Mackenzie's History of the Mackenzies. 


by his dependants, and, according to Douglas, "of fine ac- 
complishments, untainted virtue and honour ". The share 
he took in bringing the Keppoch murderers to justice is 
fully set forth in the Celtic Magazine by a writer well ac- 
quainted with the facts. Writing of Ian Lorn Macdonald, 
the Keppoch bard, the writer says : " From this retreat 
(Kintail) he poured forth a torrent of mingled invective and 
appeals, such as very soon created a powerful public opinion 
in favour of the cause he espoused. Taking prompt ad- 
vantage of this, he visited Invergarry Castle, the seat of 
the Macdonell chieftain, raised to the peerage by Charles 
II., by the title of Lord Macdonell and Aros. His repre- 
sentations failed, however, in prevailing upon this chief to 
take the initiative in his favour ; but he advised him to 
appeal to Sir James Macdonald of Sleat, as Captain of 
Clandonald. To make his way to the good graces of Sir 
James, he composed the song beginning 

A bhean leasaich an stop dhuinn, 's lion an cupa le solas, 

Ma 's a branndai na beoir i, 

'N deoch 's air Captain Chloinn Domhnuil, s air Sir Alastair Og thig 'o 'n chaol. 

This appeal was followed by a personal visit from our 
bard ; which, backed as he was by the influence of Lord 
Macdonell, had the desired result. Sir James lost no 
time in representing the case to government, who autho- 
rised him to bring the perpetrators of the murder to 
immediate justice. The carrying out of the enterprise, 
which needed both secrecy and skill, was entrusted by 
Sir James to his son, Archibald An Ciaran Mabach a 
soldier and a poet ; and in whose abilities and courage his 
father reposed great confidence. In concert with the poet, 
they laid their plans so well that the assassins were sur- 
prised in their beds, and had summary justice inflicted 
upon them seven in all. By dawn next day their heads 
were laid at the feet of Lord Macdonell at Invergarry 
Castle. On their way to Invergarry, the heads were 
washed at a fountain, a few miles west from the castle, 
which to this day, in remembrance of the event, bears the 
name of ' Tobair-nan-ceann ' the Fountain of the heads ; 



and over which a chieftain representative of Lord Macdonell 
erected a monument, with a Gaelic inscription by the late 
eminent poet and scholar, Mr. Ewen Maclauchlan of Aber- 
deen, in Ossianic verse."* Douglas gives the following 
account " In his time there was a parcel of barbarous 
Highlanders who greatly infested the northern parts, com- 
mitted vast outrages, robberies, and even murders. They 
attacked Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch, with a con- 
siderable force in his own house, and most cruelly put him 
to death, anno 1663. The government used all manner of 
means to bring them to justice, but that was found imprac- 
ticable in a legal way ; they therefore sent a most ample 
commission of fire and sword (as it was then called) to Sir 
James Macdonald, &c, signed by the Duke of Hamilton, 
Marquis of Montrose, Earl of Eglinton, and other six of 
the privy council, with orders and full power to him to 
pursue, apprehend, and bring in, dead or alive, all these 
lawless robbers, &c. This, in a very short time, he effec- 
tually performed ; some of them he put to death, and 
entirely dispersed the rest, to the satisfaction of the whole 
court, which contributed greatly to the civilising of those 
parts. Immediately thereafter, by order of the Ministry, 
he got a letter of thanks from the Earl of Rothes, then lord 
high treasurer and keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, 
full of acknowledgments of the singular service he had 
done the country, and assuring him that it should not pass 
unrewarded, with many other clauses very much to Sir 
James's honour, &c. This letter is dated the i$th day of 
December, 1665, signed ROTHES." 

At the Restoration he was fined to a large amount at 
the instigation of Middleton, who is said to have received 
a grant of the fine for himself. From this it would appear 
that the loyalty of Sir James to the king during the Com- 
monwealth did not continue so stedfast as that of others of 
the Highland chiefs, and to the extent which would be 
naturally expected from the representative of the Mac- 

* The Rev. Allan Sinclair, M.A., in the Celtic Magazine, Vol. V., pp. looior. 
Article on Ian Lorn Macdonald, the Lochaber Gaelic Bard. 


donalds of the Isles, who had invariably in the past sup- 
ported the Stewarts. 

Sir James was quite a cavalier of the period. When at 
home, his mansion was enlivened by the presence of a guy 
and noble company, bent on mirth and music. Ian Lorn, 
in a song, gives an animated and brilliant description of 
his ancestral hall, lighted up at night with candles of the 
purest wax, while young ladies of dazzling beauty enter- 
tained the company with melody and song. The native 
beverage and Spanish wines flowed free as a mountain 
tarn. But it was in the field of battle that, according to 
the bard, Sir James specially distinguished himself. 

Nuair a rachadh tu'n strith. 

Ann an armailt an High, 

Bhilhendh do dhiollaid air mil' each gorm. 

Sir James married Margaret, only daughter of Sir Rode- 
rick Mackenzie of Coigeach, the famous Tutor of Kintail, 
and ancestor of the Earls of Cromarty. By this lady Sir 
James had issue 

1. Donald, his heir and successor. 

2. Roderick, who married Janet Ritchie, with issue, two 
sons, James and Donald, twins, born on the loth of June, 

3. Hugh, aftenvards of Glenmore. 

4. Somerled of Sortie. 

5. Catherine, who married Sir Norman Macleod of 
Bernera, with issue. 

6. Florence, who married John Macleod, XVII. of Harris 
and Dunvcgan, with issue, three sons and three daughters. 

He married, secondly, Mary, eldest daughter of John 
Macleod, XV. of Harris and Dunvegan, with issue 

7. John of Backney. 

He had also a natural son, Archibald, "An Ciaran 
Mabach," a distinguished warrior and Gaelic bard. John 
Mackenzie in his "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," p. 53, says 
of him that " In no one could his father more properly 
have confided matters of importance, requiring sagacity, zeal, 
and bravery, than in this son. Accordingly he made use of his 


services when necessary; and put the greatest dependence 
in his fidelity, prudence, and activity. Ciaran Maback was 
no doubt amply requitted by his father, who allotted him a 
portion of land in North Uist. Grants of land were in 
those times commonly given to gentleman of liberal educa- 
tion but of slender fortune ; where amid their rural occupa- 
tions they enjoyed pleasures unknown to those who in 
similar stations of life were less happily located. It does 
not appear that our poet was a voluminous writer ; and of 
his compositions there are very few extant. It is to be 
regretted that so few of his poems have been preserved, as 
his taste, education, and natural powers, entitle him to a 
high place among the bards of his country. Gentlemen of 
a poetical genius could have resided in no country more 
favourable to poetry than in the Highlands of Scotland, 
where they led the easy life of the sportsman or the grazier, 
and had leasure to cultivate their taste for poetry or 

Sir James died on the 8th of December, 1678, and was 
succeeded by his eldest son, 


Tenth baron and third baronet of Sleat. He joined Vis- 
count Dundee, but was taken seriously ill in Lochaber and 
was obliged to return home. His eldest son, however, 
who accompanied him, took his place, and fought bravely 
at the head of his clan, forming part of the left wing at the 
battle of Killiecrankie, on the 2/th of July, 1689. In 
addition to many more of his followers, five of his cousins- 
german, one of whom was Alexander Macdonald of Kings- 
burgh,* fell on that sanguinary field, but he escaped and 
returned, with the remnant of his followers, to the Isles. 

* Martin says that James Macdonald of Capstil was another, and that on the 
night of the battle of Killiecrankie, where he was slain, his cows in Skye, gave 
blood instead of milk, a fact which his family and friends considered a very bad 


He appears to have joined Dundee early ; for in a letter 
addressed to " the Laird of Macleod," dated 23rd of June, 
1689, from his headquarters at Moy, in Lochaber, Dundee 
mentions Sir Donald among other leading Highland chiefs 
whom he immediately expects to join him. 

Having joined Macdonald of Keppoch at Inverness, who 
had laid siege to the town, Dundee retired to Lochaber, 
and " from thence marched with one thousand five hundred 
foot and two hundred horse to Badenoch, against General 
Mackay and the laird of Grant, who had about six thousand 
men, and chased them day and night till they passed 
Strathbogie, where he encamped three days at Edinglassy. 
On the fourth day he received intelligence that Sir John 
Lancer's regiment of horse and other dragoons, Ramsay's 
regiment, and other two regiments of foot, had joined 
General Mackay, which obliged him to return to Keppoch, 
where he remained six weeks, till he was joined by the 
Honourable Sir Donald of the Isles, with five hundred men, 
who, by reason of indisposition, was obliged to return home, 
but left his young son, Sir Donald with my Lord Dundee. 
Then his Lordship appointed all the clans, with their 
friends and followers, to meet him at the Blair of Athole 
the next Tuesday, and that himself, the Honourable Sir 
Alexander Macdonald of Glengarry, Sir John Maclean, 
young Sir Donald of the Isles, the Captain of Clanranald, 
and Sir Hugh Cameron of Lochiel, would go and raise the 
Badenoch and Athole men against that day." The same 
writer, after describing the engagement, goes on to say 
"In the battle the Highlanders, besides their unparalleled 
general, Dundee, lost the brave Pitcur, who, like a moving 
castle in the shape of a man, threw fire and sword on all 
sides against his enemy ; Colonel Gilbert Ramsay, Mac- 
donald of Largie, his tutor andall his family ; Glengarry's 
brother, and many of his relations, and five cousins-german 
of Sir Donald of the Isles, with many private Highlanders." 
During the following winter Major -General Buchan, Lord 
Seaforth, Colonel Brown, and other officers, "came from 
King James in Ireland to Sir Donald of the Isles ; and 


Buchan, by his commission, being eldest Major-General, 
commanded the army, and desired each clan to give him 
one hundred men, promising with them to raise the low 
countries. The clans gave him one thousand five hundred 
men, with whom he marched from Keppoch to Kilwhuimin 
(Fort-Augustus), at the end of Loch Ness." Some time 
after Major-Generals Buchan and Cannin marched north, 
first to Lochaber and then to Badenoch, where, in a few 
days, they dispersed their forces. Afterwards " Major- 
General Buchan and his officers went to the Honourable Sir 
Alexander Macdonald of Glengarry ; and General Cannin 
and his officers went to the Honourable Sir Donald Mac- 
donald of the Isles, where they stayed about nine months, 
till the Earl of Breadalbane came with a commission from 
King William to treat with the clans, by offering them 
20,000 to own his government and live peaceably. But 
his majesty knew not that the loyalty and honour of the 
Scots Highlanders was not to be overcome by force, or de- 
bauched by treasure. For they generously scorned the offer 
as base, and unworthy of noble thoughts ; and only desired 
the liberty to send two of their officers to France to ac- 
quaint King James with the state of their affairs, and when 
they had received his orders they would act accordingly. 
This favour, with some difficulty, was granted them." These 
officers on their arrival in France informed King James of 
'the dreadful miseries and extremities his clans suffered and 
were reduced to, and humbly desired to know his will and 
pleasure ". He received their message " with grief and con- 
cern," and thanked the Highlanders for their loyalty and sup- 
port. He desired the commissioners on their return, to inform 
the chiefs " that if ever it pleased God to restore him, he 
would not be unmindful of their loyalty, who in past ages 
had always been faithful to his ancestors ; and that if it 
pleased God to call for him, he had a son, the young Prince, 
who, he doubted not, by God's grace, if he lived, would be 
in a condition fully to reward their fidelity." The king 
then gave the Highland chiefs full authority to make the 
best terms they could with the existing government, and 


to live peaceably and quietly, but he desired the principal 
officers to join him at St. Germains.* 

Terms were agreed to soon after at Achallader, in 
Argyll-shire, and such fair promises were given as induced 
many of the Highlanders to place faith in King William 
and his government. The manner in which these promises 
were implemented and the inhuman proceedings soon after 
at the massacre of Glencoe are too well known to require 
detailed notice here. Sir Donald's residence was set on fire 
by a party of William's troops who landed from a man-of-war 
ship, but they were forced immediately to embark. About 
twenty of them, buried at Dun-Flo, were killed. He seems 
to have secured favourable terms, and he does not appear 
to have taken any active part in public affairs during the 
remainder of his life. 

He married on the 24th of July, 1662, at Perth, Lady 
Mary Douglas, second daughter of Robert, third Earl of 
Morton, with issue 

1. Donald, his heir and successor. 

2. James of Oronsay, who succeeded his nephew, Sir 
Donald (who died unmarried in 1720), as Sir James Mac - 
donald, thirteenth of Sleat. 

3. William, known as Tutor of Macdonald, from whom 
the late Macdonalds of Vallay. He married Catharine, 
daughter of the famous Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, 
by his second wife, a daughter of Sir Lachlan Maclean of 
Duart. By this lady the Tutor " had a numerous issue ". 
(See Macdonalds of Vallay.) 

4. Elizabeth, who married Sir Alexander Bannerman of 
Elsick, Baronet, with issue. 

5. Barbara, who married Coll Macdonald of Keppoch. 

6. Mary, who died unmarried. 

He died on the 5th of February, 1695, and was succeeded 
by his eldest son, 

* Pamphlet " by an Officer of the Army, printed by Jonas Brown, at the Black 
Swan, London, 1714". 



Eleventh baron and fourth baronet of Sleat, known among 
his own countrymen (from the part he took, under Dundee 
at Killiecrankie, and afterwards under the Earl of Mar, 
in 1715, during his father's life) as "Domhnull a Chogaidh," 
or Donald of the Wars. He attended the great gathering 
of the chiefs at Braemar, and was soon after entrapped by 
the government, with a few others of the leading Jacobites, 
including Seaforth who was confined to his own Castle of 
Brahan, while the chief of Sleat was sent to the Castle of 
Edinburgh. Patten informs us that upon the news of the 
Earl of Mar's being in arms, and of the progress he was 
making, reaching the government, "orders were despatched 
immediately to Edinburgh to secure such suspected persons 
as were thought to be capable of mischief," and among the 
list of such, given by him, we find Seaforth, Sir Donald 
Macdonald, Sir John Maclean, the Laird of Mackinnon, 
Rob Roy, alias Macgregor, John Cameron of Lochiel, the 
Laird of Clanranald, the Laird of Glengarry, the Laird of 
Keppoch, Mackintosh, younger of Borlum, and fifty-four 
others, including Mar himself. It was, probably, on this 
occasion that Sir Donald was captured and imprisoned in 
Edinburgh. We, however, soon after meet him again in 
the North at the head of a body of his followers, variously 
stated at from six to eight hundred. The Earl of Seaforth 
collected his vassals, and having been joined by Sir 
Donald and his followers from the Isles, and a few from 
other Jacobite chiefs in the Northern Counties, Seaforth 
found himself at the head of a force of 3000 men. With 
these he attacked a large government force at Alness, 
which he soon dispersed, the Earl of Sutherland, who was 
at their head, retreating with his followers to Bonar Bridge, 
where they were at once broken up. The Mackenzies and 
the Macdonalds levied heavy fines on the territories of the 
Munros, who supported the government, which were fully 
revenged in their absence with the Jacobite army in the 


South, for which they at once set out, accompanied by Sir 
Donald and his Island warriors. 

Lord Lovat, in his " Account of the Taking of Inver- 
ness," supplies the following version : " The Earl of 
Seaforth, who was nominated Lieutcnant-Gcneral and 
Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Counties to his 
Majesty King James the VIII. (for so was the designation 
then), was not idle ; gathered his men from the Lewes, and 
all his inland country, to the place of Brahan, where Sir 
Donald Macdonald of Sleat, with six hundred men, and 
the Laird of Mackinnon, with one hundred and fifty, joined 
him ; Alexander Mackenzie of Frazerdale, who assumed 
command of the name of Frazer, and his lady, had forced 
four hundred of that name, which, with the hundred men 
that Chisholm (who is vassal to that family) had, made up 
five hundred under Frazerdale's command, which lay at 
and about Castledouny, five miles from Brahan and six 
from Inverness." He further adds that " being come 
to Invwness, General Seaforth called a Council of War, 
where were present the Lord Duffus, Sir Donald Mac- 
donald, Frazerdale, Mackinnon, the Chisholm, and several 
other officers, besides Sir John Mackenzie of Coul, the 
governor, where it was resolved that Culloden House must 
be reduced at any rate ; and so commanded Mr. George 
Mackenzie of Gruinziord to go with a trumpet along with 
him, and summon the house formally to surrender ; com- 
ing to the place, Gruinziord ordered the trumpet to sound, 
and called to Mr. Duncan who kept the house; Mr. Forbes 
not only told him, but showed him that the house was not 
in their reverence ; and so defiance was returned for 
answer. But in a second Council of War, the Lord Duffus 
was sent in order to reduce Mr. Forbes by reason ; or 
otherwise to assure him of the hardest treatment if the 
house was taken. But my lord returned without success ; 
and so a disposition was made for the siege, and the party 
for the attack ordered, but finding that the house was 
strong, and the governor and garrison obstinate and brave, 
after twelve days' deliberations, marched forward toward 



their grand camp at Perth. From Inverness they marched 
to Strath-Spey, the Laird of Grant's country, where they 
found the Grants all in arms, in order to secure their 
country from harm ; they only asked some baggage horses 
to the next country, and quartered their men civilly, and 
returned the horses home next day, and so they joined 
the Earl of Mar at Perth, where they continued till the 
decisive stroke of Dumblain, from whence they returned in 
a hundred parties, to the satisfaction of many who were 
very careful of disarming them in their retreat. But the 
four hundred Frazers that Mr. Mackenzie had brought 
there four days before to Dumblain, hearing that the Lord 
Lovat was come home, deserted that cause, and came 
home full armed, with their affection to their natural chief, 
and their love to the Protestant interest ; for which, that 
name distinguished themselves since the Reformation, as 
was plainly seen in their services thereafter till the Rebellion 
was extinguished." 

Immediately on the arrival at Perth of this large rein- 
forcement, Mar determined to cross the Forth and meet 
Argyll, who commanded the government forces. Patten 
says, that " The Earl of Mar being joined by the Earl of 
Seaforth, Sir Donald Macdonald, and others, with their 
respective clans, to the number of 8000 men, were prepar- 
ing to march from Perth, to join General Gordon with the 
Western clans at Auchterarder, in order to attempt the 
crossing of the Forth, which was indeed his main design. 
This was the 1 2th of November. Upon intelligence of this 
march, for the rebels advanced from Perth with their 
whole army, the Duke of Argyll sent for a train of field 
artillery from Edinburgh ; and having received all the 
reinforcement he expected from Ireland, his grace resolved 
not to suffer them to reach the Bank of Forth, but to fight 
them wherever he could come up with them. Accordingly, 
he passed the Forth at Stirling Bridge with his whole 
army, and advanced towards Dumblain. This occasioned 
a general engagement, fought near Dumblain, at a place 
called Sheriff-moor, on Sunday, November 13."* 

* History of the late Rebellion, second part, page 35. 


The details of this memorable engagement are already 
sufficiently well known. In the hottest part of the contest 
the Macdonalds exhibited the ancient valour of the race. 
The historian of the rebellion, already named, and who 
was with the Jacobite army, though he afterwards turn- 
coated, and wrote severely against them,* informs us that, 
immediately the enemy was seen, "the Earl of Mar 
ordered the Earl Marshall, Major-General of the horse, 
with his own squadron and Sir Donald Macdonald's batta- 
lion, to march up to the height and dislodge them," where- 
upon " the enemy disappeared," and later in the engage- 
ment, " all the line to the right being of the clans, led on 
by Sir Donald Macdonald's two brothers (James and 
William), Glengarry, Captain of Clanranald, Sir John Mac- 
clean, Glenco, Campbell of Glenlyon (and others), made a 
most furious attack, so that in seven or eight minutes we 
could neither perceive the form of a squadron or battalion 
of the enemy before us. We drove the main body and left 
of the enemy in this manner, for about half a mile, killing 
and taking prisoners all that we could overtake." 

The same authority in a list of the most considerable 
chiefs in Scotland, and the number of men they could 
raise, with an account of their disposition for or against 

* Of this minister of the Gospel, L)r. John Hill Burton writes : He holds a 
distinguished place in the annals of infamy. He betrayed his cause, and gave 
testimony against those whose deeds he had beheld when acting as their spiritual 
guide and exhorter to loyalty. He boasted of this, his treachery, as a "duty," 
wherein he made all the " reparation " he could " for the injury " he " had done 
the Government ". He afterwards wrote a history of the follies and misfortunes of 
those whom he had helped to seduce, by his religious persuasions, to their fatal 
career dedicated to the victorious general who had trampled them down. This 
servant of God, whose character has fortunately been but seldom exemplified in a 
profession the characteristic defects of which are not so much founded on calculat- 
ing selfishness as on indiscriminating and self-sacrificing zeal preached to the 
assembled army from Dcut. xxi. 17. " The right of the first born is his ;" and he 
recorded the observation that " it was very agreeable to see how decently and 
reverently the very common Highlanders behaved, and answered the responses ac- 
cording to the rubric, to the shame of many who pretended to more polite breeding." 
It is unfortunately necessary to rely for many of the events connected with the ex- 
pedition on the narrative of this perfidious man. It is some sanction for his accur- 
acy, that the events narrated by him were seen by many others, and his testimony 
must, like that of other approvers, be taken with suspicion, and guardedly relied 


the government, places Sir Donald Macdonald at the head 
of the clans with a thousand men, all with their chief, 
against the government and in the rebellion. To the 
captain of Clanranald he gives a thousand on the same 
side, while to the Laird of Glengarry, whom he describes 
as " inferior to none in bravery," he allots five hundred, 
Keppoch had three hundred men against the goverment. 
and Patten is very severe upon them for their conduct at 
Killiecrankie, Cromdale and Sheriffmuir, at which latter 
place " he still showed his face, but never drew his sword, 
for his people are expert at nothing more than stealing 
and public robberies ; for at Perth they made a good hand 
in this way of business among the country people and 
others of their own party". 

Burton, who never has a good word for the Highlanders 
if he can avoid it, is forced to say that " the impetuous 
rush of the Highlanders (on the right) carried Witham, 
with his horse and foot, before them down the steep de- 
clivity towards Dunblane, with much slaughter ". The 
Master of Sinclair, who had fought under the Duke of 
Marlborough, and a distinguished officer who fought at 
Sheriffmuir in the victorious wing of the Highland army 
among the Macdonalds, but who, generally, wrote very 
severely of Mar's army, describes the conduct of the High- 
landers as follows : " The order to attack being given, the 
two thousand Highlandmen, who were then drawn up in 
very good order, ran towards the enemy in a disorderly 
manner, always firing some dropping shots, which drew 
upon them a general salvo from the enemy, which began 
at their left, opposite to us, and run to their right. No 
sooner did that begin than the Highlanders threw them- 
selves flat upon their bellies ; and, when it slackened, they 
started to their feet. Most threw away their fuzies, and, 
drawing their swords, pierced them everywhere with an in- 
credible vigour and rapidity. In four minutes' time from 
their receiving the order to attack, not only all in our view 
and before us turned their backs, but the five squadrons on 
their left, commanded by General Whitham, went to the 


right about, and never looked back until they had got 
near Dunblane, almost two miles from us."* 

Towards the end of January it was found that neither 
the Chevalier nor the earl were disposed again to meet the 
government troops, notwithstanding the pressure and en- 
thusiasm of the Highlanders, who abused the principal 
officers with insulting epithets, and reproached them with 
betraying the army and their Prince. It was on this oc- 
casion that a Highlander on being asked by a friend of the 
Earl of Mar, what he would have their officers to do, ex- 
claimed " Do ! What did you call us to take arms for ? 
Was it to run away ? What did the king come hither for ? 
Was it to see his people butchered by hangmen, and not 
strike a blow for their lives ? Let us die like men and not 
like dogs." Sir Donald, seeing the state of matters, and 
quite satisfied that the Chevalier and Mar could not be in- 
duced again to meet the enemy, left them, and returned 
with his followers, numbering about a thousand able- 
bodied warriors, to the Isle of Skye, where he continued 
for some time at their head. Ultimately a detachment 
was sent against him to the Island, under command of a 
Colonel Clayton. He made no active resistance, but being 
unable to obtain a satisfactory assurance of protection from 
the government, he passed over to Uist, where he remained 
among his friends and vassals until he found means to 
escape in a ship which soon after carried him safely to 

He was afterwards attainted, by Act of Parliament,! for 
his share in the rebellion, and his estates were, like most 
others in the Highlands, forfeited to the crown. 

He married Mary, daughter of Donald Macdonald of 
Castletown.j: by whom he had issue 

I. Donald, who succeeded him as representative of the 

* Master of Sinclair's Memoirs, pp. 216-217. 
t George I., cap. 43. 

J She married, secondly, as his first wife, Alexander Macdonald, first of Bois- 
dale, with issue. 


2. Mary, who married John Martin of Flodigarry, with 
issue a daughter, Kate, married Rev. Donald Nicholson. 

3. Margaret, who married Captain John Macqueen, with 
issue, two daughters, who died without issue. 

4. Isabel, who married, 3rd of January, 1725, Alexander 
Munro, M.D., Professor of Anatomy in the University of 
Edinburgh, with issue, now represented by George Home 
Monro-Binning-Home of Argaty and Softlaw, who claims 
to be " Heir-general and Representative of the Earls of 
Ross and Lords of Skye, and of the Lords of the Isles ". 
She died on the loth of December, 1774. 

5. Janet, who married Norman Macleod, XVIII. of 
Macleod, with issue. 

He died, of paralysis, in 1718, when he was succeeded, 
as representative of the family, by his only son, who, 
although he never possessed the property, we shall reckon 


Twelfth baron and fifth baronet of Sleat. He is said to 
have been the last of the family born in the ancient Castle 
of Duntulm, and to have been a most amiable and pro- 
mising young man, beloved by all his kindred and clan. 
On the occasion of a visit to friends in the Island of 
Bernera, in 1720, he suddenly died shortly after his arrival 
from the bursting of a blood vessel, to the great grief of his 
family and all his retainers. Dying unmarried, he was 
succeeded as representative of the family by his uncle of 


Thirteenth baron and sixth baronet of Sleat, who married 
Janet, daughter of Alexander Macleod of Grishernish, 
with issue 

1. Alexander, who succeeded. 

2. Margaret, who married Sir Robert Douglas of Glen- 


bcrvie, baronet, author of the well-known Peerage and 
Baronage, with issue. 

3. Isabel, who died young. 

4. Janet, who married Sir Alexander Mackenzie, baronet, 
V. of Coul, with issue. 

He married secondly, Margaret, daughter of John Mac- 
donald of Castletown, with issue 

5. John, who died young. 

He died at Forres in 1723, and was succeeded by his 
eldest son, 


Fourteenth baron and seventh baronet of Sleat. Kenneth 
Mackenzie, an advocate in Edinburgh, and an intimate 
friend of the family of Sleat, purchased the estates, which 
were at the time affected by considerable debts, for behoof 
of the family, from the Commissioners and Trustees for 
the sale of Forfeited Estates in Scotland, and acquired a 
disposition of them in his own favour of date I4th of 
October, 1724. With the view of preventing any after 
forfeiture, Mr. Mackenzie entered into a contract with Sir 
Alexander, as heir-male of the attainted Sir Donald Mac- 
donald, by which he disponed to him, and to his heirs and 
assignees whomsoever, under certain prohibitory, irritant, 
and resolutive clauses, the lands and barony of Macdonald, 
and also assigned to him the procuratory of resignation 
contained in the disposition which he himself had obtained 
in October, 1724, from the Commissioners and Trustees for 
Forfeited Estates. Upon the procuratory contained in this 
disposition and Sir Alexander's resignation thereto con- 
tained in the contract, a charter was expede in his favour 
of the said lands, under the Great Seal, upon the 1 3th of 
February, 1727, under the conditions of entail cited in the 
contract, all of which are engrossed in the charter and in 
the instrument of sasine in his favour following thereon, 
dated I2th of August, and registered in the General 
Register of Sasines on the 2nd of September, 1827. The 
entail is dated 7th September, and 8th November, 1726 ; 


but it is not recorded in the record of Tailzies. The des- 
tination is " to and in favour of Sir Alexander Macdonald 
and his heirs-male, whom failing, to his heirs whatsoever, 
heritably and irredeemably " ; and under it the heir in 
possession has power " to provide for his younger children, 
besides the heir, with competent provisions, agreeably to 
the circumstances of the estate for the time," subject to 
certain special qualifications therein provided. In his 
marriage contract Sir Alexander settled the estate of 
Macdonald upon " the heirs-male of the marriage ". 

The current tradition in the Isle of Skye respecting these 
transactions conveys a slightly different account of the 
manner in which the estates were ultimately secured to 
the family. The Tutor, who no doubt was left in charge 
by Mr. Mackenzie until the attainder was removed, is said 
to have been a handsome, well-built man, distinguished 
for great athletic powers and for his amiable and gentle 
disposition. He, and his elder brother, Sir James of 
Oronsay, took, as we have seen, a distinguished part in the 
battle of Sheriffmuir, where he held the rank of Major 
under Mar, with their brother, Sir Donald, who died in 
1718. Being married to one of the twelve daughters of 
Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, he was in a position to 
secure great influence in his own favour and that of the 
family ; for the other eleven were married respectively 
to Alexander Drummond of Bathaldies ; Allan Maclean 
of Ardgour ; Grant of Glenmoriston ; Allan Cameron of 
Glendessary ; Macpherson of Cluny ; Archibald Cameron 
of Dungallan ; Peter Campbell of Barcaldine ; John Camp- 
bell of Achallader ; Robert Barclay of Urie ; Macgregor 
of Bochady ; and Macdonald of Morar ; while her eldest 
brother, Sir John Cameron, was married to a daughter of 
Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell. The current account * 
in Skye is as follows : During the period of forfeiture the 
Barony of Troternish was managed by a government fac- 

Taken down from old John Macdonald, who died in 1835 at the extraordinary 
age of 107 years, by the Rev. Alexander Macgregor. For a full account of John 
Macdonald, see Celtic Magazine, vol. iii. , pp. 462-66. 


tor of the name of Macleod, alias MacRuairidh Mhic 
Uilleim, a hard, cruel, and merciless man, whose very ap- 
pearance was abhorred and detested by all the inhabitants 
of Trotcrnish. The forfeiture of the Macdonald estates 
for the part taken by the chief and his family in the recent 
rebellion, was a subject of deep interest to many powerful 
persons in the kingdom, of whom several were on friendly 
terms with the government of the day. Nothing was left 
undone by these friends to bring influence to bear upon 
more influential persons at head-quarters on behalf of the 
powerful and highly respected family which had been 
deprived of such a vast and valuable property. The 
government yielded after a time so far as to confer a right 
to the forfeited estate, not directly on the rightful heirs, 
but on some of the gentlemen who had appealed to 
government in behalf of the Clan Domhnuill. The princi- 
pal among these was Mackenzie of Delvin, and it is said 
that His Majesty the King and his courtiers agreed to 
infeft that gentleman in the forfeited estates under a secret 
understanding that, in due time, the property would be 
restored to the rightful owners, as the government did not 
deem it prudent to make permanent enemies of such a 
powerful sept as the Macdonalds of the Isles, who might 
induce other branches of the clan as well as powerful chiefs 
of other clans to unite with them in refusing allegiance to 
the reigning dynasty. Be this as it may, " it is well known 
that the forfeited estates were not made over to the rightful 
heir but to his brother, William the Taightear. No sooner, 
however, did this take place than the Taightear delivered 
the estate over to the proper heir, and did not retain any 
portion thereof to himself, except a free grant of the farm 
of Aird during his lifetime, and a perpetual lease of the 
Island of Vallay, on the coast of North Uist, for his heirs 
and successors, for a shilling a year as feu. The Taightear 
lived and died at Aird, a place about two miles north of 
Duntulm Castle, and at the most northern point of Skye. 
The house he lived in is to this day called ' The Taightear '. 
When he died his remains were interred in Reilig Mhic 



Dhomhnuill, in the parish burying-ground, within seven or 
eight yards of the Kingsburgh mausoleum, wherein rest 
the remains of the celebrated Flora Macdonald. The 
funeral of the Taightear was attended by many thousands 
from all parts of the Island, and of the surrounding Isles. 
An idea may be formed of the number present on that 
occasion, when it is stated that the procession was two 
miles in length, six men walking abreast. Seven pipers 
were in attendance, who, placed at certain distances in the 
procession, severally played the funeral coronach. Upwards 
of three hundred imperial gallons of whisky were provided 
for the occasion, with every other description of refresh- 
ments in proportional abundance. The only other funeral 
in Skye that ever resembled it was that of Flora Mac- 
donald, which was about as numerously attended. Ever 
since the death of the Taightear, his descendants from sire 
to son lived at Vallay in comfort and happiness, until about 
fifty or sixty years ago the property became burdened, and 
had to be left by the only remaining heir, who, when a 
young man, entered the navy." 

Sir Alexander kept out of the Rebellion of 1745, more, 
no doubt, from motives of prudence than from any want 
of sympathy with the Jacobite cause. 

It is quite true that both Sir Alexander and Macleod 
of Dunvegan promised to join Prince Charles if he brought 
over a French army with him, though they afterwards 
joined the government against him. Miss Macleod of 
Dunvegan in a letter to the author, says that she recollects 
seeing in the Macleod charter chest a correspondence 
which had taken place between the Prince, Sir Alexander 
Macdonald, and her ancestor the Macleod of 1745, "in- 
viting Prince Charlie to come over several months before 
he arrived ". This " very interesting " correspondence is 
now lost. In the light of these facts the following letter 
addressed to President Forbes will be found both instruc- 
tive and interesting, as showing the amount of caution, 
indeed, duplicity, which some of the chiefs practised : 
" My Lord Probably you'll have heard, before this reaches 


you, that some of our neighbours of the main land have 
been mad enough to arm and join the Young Adventurer 
mentioned in Macleod's letter to you. Your lordship will 
find our conduct with regard to this unhappy scrape such 
as you'd wish, and such as the friendship you have always 
showed us will prompt to direct Young Clanranold is 
deluded, notwithstanding his assurances to us lately ; and 
what is more astonishing, Lochiel's prudence has quite for- 
saken him. You know too much of Glengarry not to know 
that he'll easily be led to be of the Party ; but, as far as I 
can learn, he has not yet been with them. Mr. Maclean of 
Coll is here with his daughter, lately married to Tallisker ; 
and he assures us of his own wisdom ; and, as he has 
mostly the direction of that Clan, promises as much as in 
him lies to prevent their being led astray. You may 
believe, my lord, our spirits are in a good deal of agitation, 
and that we are much at a loss how to behave in so extra- 
ordinary an occurrence. That we will have no connection 
with these madmen is certain, but are bewildered in every 
other respect till we hear from you. Whenever these rash 
men meet with a check, 'tis more than probable they'll 
endeavour to retire to their islands ; how we ought to 
behave in that event we expect to know from your Lord- 
ship. Their force, even in that case, must be very con- 
siderable, to be repelled with batons ; and we have no 
other arms in any quantity. I pledge Macleod in writing 
for him and myself. I come now to tell you, what you 
surely know, that I am most faithfully, my Lord, your 
most obedient humble servant, 

Tallisker, nth Aug., 1745. 

The part which Sir Alexander took during the Rebellion 
of 1745, and the interest he and his lady took in the after 
proceedings the escape of Prince Charles and the adven- 
tures of Flora Macdonald are too well known to require 
recapitulation here ; especially as they will appear at length, 

* Culloden Papers. 


in another work preparing for the press*. We may how- 
ever record an incident which occurred during his visit, 
after Culloden, to Fort-Augustus, where he went to meet the 
Duke of Cumberland. On presenting himself, the Duke, in a 
half jocular way, exclaimed " Oh ! is this the great rebel of 
the Isles," when Sir Alexander immediately and tartly re- 
plied, "My Lord Duke, had I been the rebel of the Isles, your 
Royal Highness would never have crossed the river Spey ". 
Sir Alexander was very popular in the Isles, where 
his hospitality was unbounded. He constantly dwelt among 
his people, and, in consequence, wielded very great in- 
fluence over them. This is proved in a special manner by 
his having succeeded in keeping them from following 
Prince Charles, for they all favoured his cause. It is said 
that his consumption of claret at table equalled a hogshead 
per week. Lady Margaret was equally popular. Mrs. 
Mackinnon Corry told Dr. Johnson " that she was quite 
adored in Skye," and that " when she travelled through the 
Island, the people ran in crowds before her and took the 
stones off the road lest her horse should stumble and she 
be hurt ". She was one of the greatest beauties and most 
accomplished ladies of her age, graces which she inherited 
from her mother " the greatest beauty of her day in Scot- 
land," whose eight daughters " were all equally remarkable 
with herself for a good mien," and all " beautiful women, 
conspicuous for their stature and carriage, all dressed in the 
splendid though formal fashions of that period, and inspired 
at once with dignity of birth and consciousness of beauty, f 
Johnson says that even in her eighty-fifth year the coun- 
tess had " little reason to accuse time of depredations on 
her beauty " ; while Boswell describes her as " majestic, her 
manners high-bred, her reading extensive, and her conver- 
sation elegant ". It is not surprising that the good and 
beautiful daughter of such a mother should have been the 
theme of English and Gaelic bards, and that her memory 

* The History and Adventures of Flora Macdonald : by the Rev. Alexander 
Macgregor, M.A. : A. & W. Mackenzie, Inverness, 
t Traditions of Edinburgh. 


should be revered among such a warm-hearted people as 
her lord's retainers in the Isle of Skye. 

Sir Alexander refused to lead his men in person, saying, 
in reply to President Forbes, that he must remain in Skye 
" to give the people directions and to keep the proper 
countenance in that country ". This indeed was absolutely 
necessary, for scarcely any one could be induced to join 
against the Prince. Those enrolled were never told 
whether they were to fight for or against him, and they 
were greatly disappointed, on arriving at Inverness, to find 
that they had to fight for the government against their 
Prince, their brother Highlanders and Islesmen. Though 
some time previously Macleod of Macleod wrote to Presi- 
dent Forbes that he and Sir Alexander could raise from 
fifteen hundred to two thousand men among their followers, 
only two companies of Macdonalds turned up at Inverness, 
where they arrived on the 3ist of December, under the 
command, as Captains, of James Macdonald, of Aird, 
Troternish, and John Macdonald of Kirkibost, both sons of 
William the Tutor, and cousins of Sir Alexander himself. 

Sir Alexander was in great favour with President Forbes 
of Culloden, as well as with the Duke of Cumberland. 
His Royal Highness afterwards corresponded with him, 
and complimented him on his loyalty, at the same time 
assuring him of his friendly regard. 

He married, first, on the 5th of April, 1733, Anne, 
daughter of David Erskine, of Dun, in the county of 
Forfar (a Lord of Session and Justiciary), and relict of 
James, Lord Ogilvie, son of David, third Earl of Airly, and 
by her (who died in Edinburgh in the 27th year of her age) 
had one son 

1. Donald, who, born loth Jaurary, 1734, died young. 
He married, secondly, on the 24th of April, 1739, Lady 

Margaret Montgomery, daughter of Alexander, ninth Earl 
of Eglintoun, and by her (who died in Welbeck Street, 
London, on the 3oth of March, 1799) had issue 

2. James, who succeeded his father. 

3. Alexander, who succeeded his brother, Sir James ; and 


4. ARCHIBALD, born, after his father's death, in 1747. 
He studied for the law, and was called to the English 
Bar, where he soon distinguished himself; early in his 
career he was made a King's Counsel. In 1780, he was 
appointed a Welsh Judge ; Solicitor-General, 7th of April, 
1784; Attorney-General, 28th of June, 1788, on which 
occasion he received the honour of knighthood. In 1777, 
he was elected Member of Parliament for Hindon. At the 
general election in 1780 he was returned for Newcastle- 
under-Lyne, and re-elected in 1784 and 1790. He was 
appointed Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1793; 
made a Privy Councillor, and, on the 27th of November, 
1813, he was created a baronet. On the 26th of December, 
1777, he married Lady Louisa Leveson Gower, eldest 
daughter of Granville-Leveson, first Marquis of Stafford, 
K.G., with issue (i) James Macdonald, who on the death 
of his father, on the loth of May, 1826, succeeded as second 
baronet. (2) Francis Macdonald, a captain in the Royal 
Navy; born on the 22nd of May, 1785, and died in the West 
Indies, on the 28th of June, 1 804, in the twentieth year of 
his age, without issue ; (3) Caroline Margaret, who died 
young; (4) Susan, who died young at Lisbon in 1803; 
(5) Louisa, who died unmarried on the I5th of April, 1862; 
and (6) Caroline-Diana, who married the Rev. Thomas 
Randolph, Prebendary of St. Paul's, Chaplain to the Queen, 
and Rector of Hadham, Herts, son of the Right Rev. Dr. 
John Randolph, Bishop of London. She died on the I3th 
of December, 1867. SIR JAMES, born on the I4th of 
February, 1784, was, in 1805, elected a member of Parlia- 
ment, for Newcastle-under-Lyne ; also in 1806 and 1807. 
He afterwards represented Calne. In 1829, he was elected 
M.P. for Hampshire, and was one of the clerks of the 
Privy Seal. He married, first, on the 5th of September, 
1805, Elizabeth, second daughter of John Sparrow of 
Bishton, Staffordshire, without issue. He married, secondly, 
loth August, 1810, Sophia, eldest daughter of William- 
Charles, 4th Earl of Albemarle, with issue (i), Archibald 
Keppel, the present Baronet ; (2), Granville- Southwell, 


born 1821 ; died 1831. He married, thirdly, on the 2Oth of 
April, 1826, Anne Charlotte, daughter of the Rev. J. Savile- 
Ogle of Kirkley Hall, Northumberland. Sir James died 
of cholera, in 1832, in which year he had been appointed, 
in the month of May, High Commissioner of the Ionian 
Islands. He was succeeded by SIR ARCHIBALD KEPPEL 
MACDONAI.D of East Sheen, the third Baronet, who was 
born on the I5th of October, 1820, educated at Harrow, 
and succeeded his father, Sir James, in June, 1832. He 
married, first, on the 1st of May, 1849, Lady Margaret 
Sophia Coke, daughter of Thomas-William, first Earl of 
Leicester. She died, 4th November, 1868, without issue. 
He married, secondly,25th November, 1869, Catherine Mary, 
eldest daughter of J. Coulthurst of Gargrave Hall, York- 
shire, widow of the Hon. Thomas-Edward Stonor, eldest 
son of the third Lord Camoys, with issue (i) Archibald- 
John, born 2nd of February, 1871, and (2) Mary-Catherine. 
Sir Archibald was a captain in the Scots Fusilier Guards, 
from which he retired in 1849, and equerry to the late 
Duke of Sussex. He is a Deputy-Lieutenant and Magis- 
trate of Hampshire, and was High Sheriff of the County 
in 1865. 

Sir Alexander Macdonald of Sleat died of pleurisy, in 
the 36th year of his age, at Bernera, Glenelg, on the 23rd 
of November, 1746, while on his way to London to wait 
upon the Duke of Cumberland. He was succeeded by his 
eldest son. 


Fifteenth baron, and eighth baronet of Sleat. He was 
served heir to his father on the 24th of January, 1751, 
when only 10 years of age, with the view of taking up the 
procuratory of resignation contained in his father's con- 
tract of marriage between him and his second wife, Lady 
Margaret Montgomery, dated 23rd of April, 1739, in which 
the lands and barony of Macdonald were made over to 


the heirs male procreated of that marriage. Thereafter a 
charter under the Great Seal, dated loth December, 1754, 
was expede in favour of Sir James of the lands and barony 
of Macdonald, under the conditions of entail specified in 
the original contract and Sir Alexander's charter which 
followed thereon. Sir James was infeft on the I2th of 
August in the same year, and his instrument of sasine is 
recorded in the General Register of Sasines, under date 
of 15th September, 1756. In 1751, Mackenzie of Delvine 
bought the estate of Strath from John Mackinnon of Mac- 
kinnon, for behoof of Sir James, at the time a minor. The 
property of Strath remained in Iiaereditate jacente of 
Delvine, while the fee of superiority was in haereditate 
jacente of Sir James. A charter of abjudication of these 
lands was afterwards expede in favour of Sir James, his 
heirs and assignees, upon certain debts paid out of the 
price, but the property was not finally conveyed to the 
Macdonald family until 1799, when Mr. Kenneth Mac- 
kenzie, Delvine's heir, granted a disposition to Alexander 
Wentworth, Lord Macdonald, in which he admitted the 
trust ab initio, and disponed the estate of Strath to his 
lordship and his heirs and asignees in fee simple, with 
procuratory and precept, upon which a charter and infeft- 
ment followed in his lordship's favour. 

Old Kingsburgh, on his liberation from imprisonment in 
Edinburgh Castle, for helping Prince Charles to escape, on 
the 4th of July, 1747, was appointed tutor to Sir James, 
in which capacity he acted with prudence and judgment, 
until the latter came of age, when, in consideration of his 
long and faithful services to the family, Sir James granted 
him an annuity of fifty pounds a year, which he continued 
to receive until he died, at the great age of eighty-three, on 
the 1 3th of February, 1772. 

In 1764, Sir James went on a shooting expedition to his 
property of North Uist, accompanied by Colonel John 
Maclcod of Talisker and several other Skye gentlemen. 
While deer-stalking at a place called Airidh-na-Gaoithe, 
Colonel Macleod's gun went off accidentally, a twig of 


heather having caught the trigger. The shot lodged in Sir 
James' leg, when he instantly fell to the ground. The 
party soon procured blankets from the nearest cottages, on 
which he was carried over the moor, a distance of five miles, 
to Vallay House, the residence of his relative, Ewen Mac- 
donald of Vallay. Mr. Macdonald, celebrated locally as a 
poet and musician, composed, on this occasion, the well- 
known air, Cum/ta tta Coise, " the Lament for the Foot," to 
words beginning : 

Mo ghaol, mo ghaol, do chas threubhach, 
Dha 'n tig an t-osan 's am feileadh ; 
Bu leat toiseach na'n ceudan 
'N am feidh 'bhi ga'n ruith. 

The inhabitants of the Island, suspecting that Talisker had 
intentionally shot their chief, at once, on hearing of the 
accident, flew to arms, surrounded Vallay House, threaten- 
ing to take Colonel Macleod's life, and it was only after 
Macdonald of Vallay and his other friends, in whom they 
had confidence, positively assured them that the mishap 
was purely accidental, that they were persuaded with diffi- 
culty to disband and return to their homes. Sir James 
was confined to his friend's house for several weeks, and 
upon his recovery, Vallay composed the well-known pio- 
baireackd, "Sir James Macdonald of the Isles' Salute," 
which he, at the same time, played with great taste and 
skill on his great Highland bag-pipes.* 

Sir James Macdonald was a distinguished scholar. A 
contemporary describes him : " As one of the most 
extraordinary young men I ever knew. He studied very 
hard ; was a scholar and a mathematician ; and yet, at 
twenty, I have heard him talk with a knowledge of the 
world which one would not have expected to hear but 
from the experience of age. He had great and noble 
schemes for the civilisation and improvements of his own 
country, and appeared, upon the whole, to be one of those 
superior spirits which seemed formed to show how far the 

Cameron's History and Traditions of the Isle of Skye. 



powers of humanity can extend."* He was undoubtedly 
a young man of great natural parts, and these were im- 
proved by a liberal education and travel. He was " of a 
most sweet disposition, and, for learning and the liberal 
arts and sciences inferior to none of his contemporaries ". 
Being of a very delicate constitution, it was thought a 
warmer climate would suit him better. He therefore went 
to Italy in 1765, where he met and associated with most 
of the learned men of that country. He finally found his 
way to Rome, where, after a lingering illness, he died on 
the 26th of July, 1766, greatly regretted by all who had 
made his acquaintance. Cardinal Piccolomini, governor of 
Rome at the time, composed an elegant Latin poem in his 
memory, and he was commanded by Pope Clement XIII. 
to accord to Sir James the most magnificent public funeral 
ever given to a Protestant. He was accompanied in his 
travels on the Continent by the Duke of Buccleuch and 
Adam Smith. On his death, his own countrymen and 
foreigners men of learning at home and abroad "con- 
tended with each other who should pay the greatest marks 
of respect to his merits and his virtues ". His mother, who 
outlived him, erected a monument to his memory in the 
Parish Church of Sleat, which had been executed at Rome. 
It has the following inscription, composed by his personal 
friend, George, Lord Lyttelton : 

To the memory of Sir James Macdonald, Baronet, who, in the flower of 
youth, had attained to so eminent a degree of knowledge in mathematics, 
philosophy, languages, and in every other branch of useful and polite learning, 
as few have acquired in a long life wholly devoted to study ; yet, to his 
erudition, he joined what can rarely be found with it, great talents for business, 
great propriety of behaviour, and great politeness of manners. His eloquence 
was sweet, correct, and flowing ; his memory vast and exact ; his judgment 
strong and accute ; all which endowments, united with the most amiable 
temper, and every private virtue, procured him, not only in his own country, 
but also from foreign nations, the highest marks of esteem. In the year of 
our Lord 1766, the 25th of his life, after a long and painful illness, which he 
supported with admirable prudence and fortitude, he died at Rome, where, 
notwithstanding the differences of religion, such extraordinary honours were 
paid to his memory as had never graced that of any other subject since the 

* Carter's Memoirs, voL ii., p. 168, quoted by Douglas in the Peerage. 


days of Sir Philip Sydney. The fame he left behind him is the best consola- 
tion to his afflicted family and to his countrymen in the Isle, for whose benefit 
he had planned many useful improvements, which his fruitful genius suggested, 
and his active spirit promoted, under the sober direction of a clear and en- 
lightened understanding. 

He was usually styled " The Scottish Marcellus," and it 
is said of him that in extent of learning and genius he 
resembled the admirable Crichton. Gaelic elegies were 
composed upon him by his natural brother, Archibald, a 
distinguished warrior and poet, popularly known as, " An 
Ciaran Mabach " ; and also by John MacCodrum, the 
celebrated Gaelic bard of South Uist 

General Stewart of Garth laments his early death in the 
following terms : " To a distant and unimproved region 
like Skye, the loss of such a man was irreparable. The 
example of his learning and virtues, his kindly feelings 
towards his people, and the encouragements and improve- 
ments he contemplated for them, would, no doubt, have 
produced incalculable advantages. His learning and 
accomplishments could have been understood and appre- 
ciated by the gentlemen farmers, tacksmen, and others of 
his people, who, as I have already noticed, were so well 
educated that conversations were frequently carried on 
among them in the Latin language." * 

Sir James was educated at Eton, where he had been 
sent early in life at his own earnest solicitation. Dying 
unmarried, he was succeeded by his next brother, 


Sixteenth baron, and ninth baronet of Sleat, who, on the 
I ;th of July, 1766, was, by patent, created a Peer of Ireland 
by the title of Baron Macdonald of Sleat, County Antrim, 
to himself and the heirs male of his body. In May, 1761, 
he obtained a commission as Ensign in the Coldstream 
Regiment of Foot-Guards. On the 3d of May, 1768, he 

* Sketches of the Highlanders, vol. ii., p. 419. 


married Elizabeth Diana, eldest daughter of Godfrey 
Bosville of Gunthwaite, county of York. In the marriage 
contract, which is dated 28th of March, 1768, provision 
is made for an annuity of 500 in favour of the lady 
should she survive him, and 5000 to be paid to his 
younger children, whether sons or daughters, " at the first 
term of Whitsunday or Martinmas next after their attain- 
ing the age of 21 years complete, or after their father's 
death, whichever of these periods shall first happen ". In 
the case of more daughters or younger children than one 
he reserved power to himself to divide that sum between 
them by a deed of writing under his hand at his own 
discretion, but should he fail to execute such a deed, the 
money was to be divided equally between his younger 
children. On the 24th of September, 1794, he further pro- 
vided for a sum of .7500 to each of his four younger sons. 
Being a keen politician, he made arrangements by which 
Sir Archibald, his brother, and William Macdonald, his 
agent, obtained feu-charters of parts of the estate, while 
other portions were conveyed to political friends in lifercnt 
or wadset, to qualify them as voters for the county. 
Shortly afterwards these " confidential friends," as they are 
described, re-disposed the property which they had acquired 
in feu to his lordship, but no infeftment was taken by him 
on these re-conveyances. 

Lord Macdonald was educated at Eton, and was a most 
accomplished and able man. He took a considerable 
interest in literature, and was elected a member of the 
Society of Antiquaries. He had a great taste for music, 
and encouraged those who took an interest in the art. A 
celebrated harper named O'Kane, who travelled in the High- 
lands in those days, was often entertained by his lordship, 
and he used to be delighted and charmed with his perform- 
ances. " No one was better able to feel and to estimate the 
superior talents of O'Kane, for I can vouch Lord Macdonald 
to have been one of our best amateurs on the violin, and one 
of the best judges of musical talents of that period. There 
had been for a great length of time in the family a valuable 


harp key ; it was finely ornamented with gold and silver, 
and with a precious stone. This key was said to have 
been worth eighty or one hundred guineas, and, on this 
occasion, our itinerant harper had the good fortune of being 
presented by Lord Macdonald with this curious and valu- 
able implement of his profession."* 

In December, 1777, letters of service were issued to his 
lordship to raise a regiment in the Highlands, with an offer 
of the Lieutenant-Colonelcy. He however declined the 
rank offered to him, but recommended that it should be given 
to Major John Macdonell of Lochgarry, who was in con- 
sequence at once appointed Lieutenant-Colonel-Command- 
ant. Lochgarry raised a fine body of men, numbering 1086, 
and Lord Macdonald's influence was extensively and 
successfully exerted to complete the fine regiment after- 
wards known as the 76th or "Macdonald's Highlanders". A 
dispute arose in 1799, about the bounty money of the men, 
when, before the matter could be arranged, Lord Mac- 
donald had, at the request of the men, to be sent for. When 
the question in dispute was explained to his Lordship " he 
advanced the money claimed by the soldiers, which 
amounted to a considerable sum, taking upon himself the 
risk of receiving it from those whose conduct had nearly 
ruined a brave and honourable body of men, as they after- 
wards proved themselves to be ".f 

His lordship was distinguished from the other barons 
of the family by the appellation of the " Morair Ban," or 
the Fair-haired Lord. And " being an English-bred chief- 
tain " and severe in exacting and increasing his rents, he 
was somewhat unpopular with his principal tenants, several 
of whom combined to keep the lands at the old rents, and 
many of them feeling keenly the hard pressure of the times 
were forced to emigrate.^ " The harbour of Portree," says 
Boswell, describing his own and Dr. Johnson's arrival there, 

* Gunn on the Harp. 

t Stewart's Sketches of the Highlanders. 

t History and Traditions of the Isle of Skye. 


" is a large and good one ; there was lying in it a vessel, to 
carry off emigrants, called the Nestor. It made a short 
settlement of the differences between a chief and his clan." 
Referring to his lordship's education in the South of 
England, " Dr. Johnson observed of this mode of educat- 
ing a young man, heir to a great estate, at a distance from, 
and in ignorance of the country where he has so high a 
stake ; that he cannot acquire a knowledge of the people ; 
can form no local attachment ; be a stranger to his own 
property ; and to his tenants ; is often disgusted with both, 
although the one be valuable by its produce, and the other 
estimable in character. 'A strong-minded man, like Sir 
James Macdonald, may be improved by an English educa- 
tion, but in general they (the Highland chieftains) will 
be tamed into insignificance.' In continuation of the 
same subject, Boswell says 'my endeavours to rouse the 
English-bred chieftain in whose house we were to the 
feudal and patriarchal feeling, proving ineffectual, Dr. 
Johnson this morning tried to bring him to our way of 
thinking.' Jolinson, ' Were I in your place, Sir, in seven 
years I would make this an independent Island. I would 
roast oxen whole, and hang out a flag to the Macdonalds,' 
Sir Alexander was still starting difficulties. Jolmson, ' Nay, 
Sir, if you are born to object, I have done with you ; Sir, I 
would have a magazine of arms.' Sir Alexander, 'They 
would rust.' Johnson, 'Let there be men to keep them 
clean ; your ancestors did not let their arms rust.' Four 
years after this conversation, Sir Alexander found that 
arms put into the hands of his people would not be suffered 
to rust, and that, when an opportunity offered, they were 
ready to take them up in defence of their country." * 
By his lady, as above, he had issue 

1. Alexander Wentworth, who succeeded as second 
Lord Macdonald. 

2. Godfrey, who afterwards became third Lord Mac- 

General Stewart's Sketches of the Highlanders, vol. ii., pp. 420, 21. 


3. Archibald, born 2ist May, 1777. He was a Captain 
in the Prince of Wales' Own Regiment of Light Dragoons ; 
and married, at Edinburgh, on the 29th of October, 1802, 
Jane, eldest daughter and co-heir of Duncan Campbell of 
Ardneave, Argyllshire, with issue (i) Archibald, born 
I7th of August, 1803 ; (2) Campbell, born i6th of June, 
1808 ; (3) James, born 27th of January, 1811 ; (4) Nixon- 
Alexander, born 5th of February, 1813 ; and (5) Arthur, 
born in 1816. He had also two daughters Mary and 
Elizabeth Diana. 

4. James, born on the 2pth of January, 1783, who became 
a Lieutenant-Colonel in the first regiment of Foot Guards ; 
served in the Mediterranean in 1807-8 ; in Spain under Sir 
John Moore ; and in the expedition to the Scheldt in 
1809. He was killed, unmarried, at Bergen-op-Zoom, Qth 
of March, 1814. 

5. Dudley Stewart Erskine, born I4th of February, 1786, 
a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He died, 26th of 
August, 1840. 

6. John-Sinclair, born nth March, 1788. 

7. William, born 1789. 

8. Diana, who married, as his second wife, on the 5th of 
March, 1788, the Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, 
in the county of Caithness, baronet, a member of Parlia- 
ment, a Privy Councillor, and President of the Board of 
Agriculture, with issue. She died 22nd of April, 1845. 

9. Elizabeth. 10. Annabella. 

Sir Alexander, first Lord Macdonald, died on the 1 2th 
of September, 1795, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Seventeenth baron, tenth baronet, and second Lord Mac- 
donald of Sleat, who was born on the 9th of December, 
1773. He expended about ^35,000 on the improvement 
of the property. Among others was the erection of the fine 
modern family residence, Armadale Castle, in the Parish 


of Sleat On the 2 1st of January, 1815, we find him 
writing to his brother, General Bosville, as next heir of 
entail, acquainting him that certain improvements had 
been going on since 1800, " and are still in progress, particu- 
larly the erection of a new mansion-house and offices at 
Armadale, for which I am now forming a contract with 
tradesmen ". Armadale Castle is a fine Gothic building. 
The lobby and staircase are very fine, and, from the correct- 
ness of design and elegance of finish, have been very much 
admired. A portrait of the ancestor of the family, Somer- 
led of the Isles, in full Highland costume, in stained glass, 
adorns the staircase window, and, from the lobby, presents 
a very beautiful appearance. 

In 1798, his lordship requested permission of his majesty 
to raise a regiment on his estates in the Isles. This request 
was readily gran ted and a fine body of men was soon recruited, 
called the Regiment of the Isles ; inspected and embodied 
at Inverness, by Major-General Leith Hay on the 4th of 
June, 1799. It would appear, General Stewart says, from 
the selection made that there was no want of men on 
Lord Macdonald's estate, as their age averaged twenty-two 
years, a period of life best calculated to enter upon military 
service. They afterwards behaved themselves exceedingly 
well. "The misunderstandings, unhappily too frequent in 
Highland regiments in former times, were never heard of in 
the Regiment of the Isles. At the reduction of the regi- 
ment at Fort George, in 1802, the soldiers ordered out all 
carriages in the garrison, and putting the officers in them, 
dragged them to the village of Campbelton, where they 
treated them with wine and other delicacies." 

His Lordship died unmarried, on the igth of June, 1824, 
when he was succeeded by his next brother, 


Eighteenth baron, eleventh baronet, and third Lord Mac- 
donald of Sleat, a Major-General in the army, who assumed 
the additional name of Bosville after that of Macdonald, 


but dropped it on his accession to the estates and titles of 
Macdonald. He was born on the 1 4th of October, 1775, 
and on the i$th of October, 1803, he married Louisa Maria, 
daughter of Farley Edsir. By her, who died on the loth 
of February, 1835, he had issue 

1. Alexander William Robert Bosville, who succeeded, 
in terms of a special Act of Parliament, to the English 
estates of Thorpe. 

2. Godfrey William Wentworth, who succeeded, in terms 
of the same Act, to the titles of Macdonald and the Scotch 

3. James William, born 3ist October, 1810. He is a 
Lieutenant-General; C.B. ; Knight of the Legion of Honour; 
of the Medjidie ; A.D.C., Equerry, and Private Secretary to 
His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, the Field- 
Marshal Commanding-in-Chief ; and Colonel of the 2ist 
Hussars. He served in the Crimea, on the Staff of His 
Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge ; had two horses 
shot under him one at Alma, and the other at Inkerman. 
He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel for 
distinguished services in the field ; became full Colonel in 
1860; Major-General in 1868; and Lieutenant-General in 
October, 1877. He married, on the 26th September, 1859, 
Elizabeth-Nina, second daughter of Joseph-Henry, third 
Lord Wallscourt, with issue (i), George Godfrey, Page of 
Honour to the Queen, born I7th of May, 1861 ; and (2), a 
daughter, Mary Selina-Honoria. 

4. William, born 27th September, 1817, an officer in the 
army, died unmarried on the nth of May, 1847. 

5. Louisa, who, on the 4th of June, 1826, married the Right 
Hon. John, 5th Earl of Hopetoun, with issue an only son, 
John-Alexander, 6th and late Earl. She died in 1854. 

6. Elizabeth Diana Bosville, who married, on the 2Oth 
of June, 1825, Duncan Davidson of Tulloch, the present 
Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Ross, with issue (i), 
Duncan H. C. R. Davidson, yr. of Tulloch, who married 
Georgina Elizabeth, daughter of John Mackenzie, M.D., of 
Eileanach, with issue Duncan ; John Francis Barnard ; 



Mary ; Elizabeth Diana; Adelaide Lucy ; Georgiana Vero- 
nica ; and Christina Isabella. (2), Godfrey Wentworth, died 
unmarried ; (3), Caroline Louisa, who married Captain 
George Wade, Commissioner of the Sceychelles, with issue, 
two daughters ; (4), Julia Bosville, who married the Hon. 
Henry Chetwynd, R.N., with issue, four sons and three 
daughters ; (5), Adelaide Lucy, who married Colonel 
George William Holmes Ross of Cromarty, late p2d High- 
landers, Commanding the Highland Rifle (Ross-shire) 
Militia, with issue (a), Duncan Munro, R.N.; (l>), Hugh 
Rose, R.A., died in 1879 ; (c), Walter Charteris, lieutenant 
68th Light Infantry ; (d), Katherine, married Frank Maud 
Reid, Captain, /ist Highland Light Infantry ; (e), Louisa 
Jane Hamilton, married the present Lord Macdonald of 
Sleat ; (f), Ida Eleanora Constance, who on the isth of 
June, 1 88 1, married Captain the Hon. Godfrey Ernest 
Percival Willoughby, born i8th June, 1847, late 9th 
Lancers, heir presumptive to the present Lord Middleton ; 
(6), Matilda Justina, who married Lieutenant-Colonel 
Craigie-Halkett of Cramond, with issue Duncan, Lieu- 
tenant, 78th Highlanders, and six daughters ; (7), Diana 
Bosville, died unmarried ; (8), Louisa Maria, died un- 
married ; (9), Elizabeth Diana, who married Patrick A. 
Watson Carnegy of Lour. The Hon. Elizabeth Diana 
Bosville Davidson, died in 1839. 

7. Julia, who married, on the nth of October, 1838, the 
Rev. Charles Walter Hudson, Rector of Trowell, Notting- 
hamshire, grandson maternally of George, first Marquis 
Townshend, with issue all dead. 

8. Susan Hussey, who married, 9th of February, 1832, 
Richard Beaumont, Captain, R.N. (both dead), with issue, 
(i), Godfrey, captain in the Guards ; (2), Richard ; (3), 
Dudley ; (4), Cecil W., R.N. ; (5), Diana, who married 
Count Gourowski Wichde ; (6), Averil, who married Hussey 
Vivian, M.P., with issue; (7), Gwuidaline. The Hon. Susan 
Hussey Beaumont, died on the 5th of November, 1879. 

9. Diana, married, 25th of April, 1839, Colonel John 
George Smyth of Heath Hall, Yorkshire, late M.P., and 


grandson maternally of George, fourth Duke of Graf- 
ton. He died on the loth of June, 1869. She died in 
1880, and left issue (i), George John Fitzroy, born I3th 
September, 1841 ; (2), Henry Edward, born 26th of March, 
1843 ; (3), Diana Elizabeth, who, on the 2ist of April, 1858, 
married the Earl of Harewood ; (4), Louisa ; (5), Mary ; 
(6), Eva. 

10. Jane Bosville. 

11. Marianne, who, on 28th of June, 1840, married Henry 
Martin Tumor, late Captain, ist King's Dragoon Guards, 
with issue (i), Archibald Henry, late Lieutenant, R.N., 
who died unmarried ; (2), Charles, Captain, Life Guards ; 
(3), Henrietta Minna, the present Countess of Eldon ; (4), 
Florence; (5), Mabel. Captain Turnor died on the I2th 
of July, 1876. 

12. Octavia Sophia, who, on the 7th of December, 1841, 
married William James Hope Johnstone of Annandale 
(who died I7th of March, 1850), with issue (i), John 
James, late M.P. for the county of Dumfries ; (2), Percy 
Alexander ; (3), Wentworth William ; (4) Alice Minna. 

His lordship died on the i8th of October, 1832, and was 
succeeded in the Scottish titles and estates by his second 


Nineteenth baron, twelfth baronet, and fourth Lord Mac- 
donald of Sleat, who was born on the i6th of March, 1809, 
and married on the 2ist of August, 1845, Maria Anne, 
daughter of Thomas Wyndham of Cromer Hall, Norfolk, 
with issue 

1. Somerled James Brudenell, who succeeded his father. 

2. Ronald Archibald Bosville, the present peer. 

3. Godfrey Alan, who died in infancy, on the 7th of July, 

4. Eva Maria Louisa, who, on the 7th of June, 1873, 
married Captain Algernon Langham, Grenadier Guards. 
He died in 1874. 


5. Flora Matilda, who died, unmarried, on the I2th of 
March, 1851. 

6. Lillian Janet, who, on the 2nd of August, 1876, married 
Francis, Viscount Tarbat, born 3rd of August, 1852, second 
son of the Duke of Sutherland, and heir to the Duchess in 
the Cromartie estates and titles, with issue. 

7. Alexandrina Victoria, a god-daughter of Her Majesty 
the Queen. 

Two other daughters died in infancy. 
His Lordship died on the 25th of July, 1863, and was 
succeeded by his eldest son, 


Twentieth baron, thirteenth baronet, and fifth Lord Mac- 
donald of Sleat. He was born on the 2nd of October, 1849, 
and died unmarried, on the 25th of December, 1874, when he 
was succeeded by his next and only surviving brother, 


Twenty-first baron, fourteenth baronet, and sixth and pre- 
sent Lord Macdonald of Sleat. He was born on the 9th 
of June, 1853, and married, on the 1st of October, 1875, 
Louisa Jane Hamilton, second daughter of Colonel George 
William Holmes Ross of Cromarty, with issue 

1. Somerled Godfrey James, his heir, born 2ist of July, 

2. Godfrey Evan Hugh, born 1879. 

3. Archibald Ronald Armadale, born 2Oth of May, 1880. 


THE Macdonalds of Balranald are descended from 
Donald Macdonald, known among the Highlanders 
as " Donald Herrach ". He was a son of Hugh, 
first of Sleat (son of Alexander, third, and brother of John, 
last Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles) by a daughter of 
Macleod of Harris. 

had possession of a great portion of North Uist, with a resi- 
dence at Balranald. His natural brother, Gillespic Dubh, a 
desperate character, seems to have had designs upon the 
lands possessed by his brother Donald ; whereupon he deter- 
mined upon his destruction. From an old manuscript, 
in which Gillespic is described as of "a designing and 
ambitious disposition," we extract the following account of 
the means that he used to gain his object, and how he in 
consequence came to a violent end. 

Being, as we have said, most anxious to obtain possession 
of his brother's lands in North Uist, he " contrived under 
some specious pretence to inveigle Donald Herrach to the 
neighbouring Dun of Loch Scolpeg, where he had made 
arrangements for his destruction. Gillespic and his associ- 
ates being afraid of the personal strength of Donald 
Herrach, which, it is said, was uncommon even in those 
times, as ' his single blow left seldom work for two,' were 
consequently obliged to revert to stratagem and duplicity, 
even after they had their victim in their power. They 
proposed, after partaking of some refreshments, that they 
should pass some of their time in some gymnastic feats 


(at which Donald was very expert), such as who should 
leap highest, they having previously contrived that one of 
the associates, named Paul, should place a thong, with a 
noose, through, or over, the wooden partition of the 
apartment in which they were assembled, and remain 
concealed on the opposite side, ready, when Donald would 
try the leap, to get the noose over his neck and strangle, 
or hold him, while Gillespic Dubh and the rest of his 
associates could, with more safety to themselves, finish 
him. This they did by running a red-hot spit through his 
body. Gillespic got the lands for the time, as also posses- 
sion of Donald Herrach's eldest son, Ranald. The other son, 
Angus Fionn, escaped to his friends in Skye. Some time 
afterwards, Gillespic visiting his eldest brother, Donald 
Gallach, in Skye, they went where a boat or galley had 
been built for him, and wishing to have Gillespic's opinion 
of her, he observed that he thought there was something 
deficient under her bow. Donald stooping down to see it, 
Gillespic Dubh drew his dirk and stabbed him to the heart. 
He had now got possession, not only of the two estates, 
but also of the heirs of his brothers, whom he had murdered. 
Gillespic afterwards resided in Uist, and what is most 
singular is, that he should preserve the lives of his nephews, 
the rightful heirs to the property, and that he should 
educate them with care ; but it was presumed that he was 
satisfied with acting as guardian, or, as it was then called, 
Tutor to the young men, and I do not believe he had any 
family of his own. 

" These two young men, Donald Gruamach, son of 
Donald Gallach, and Ranald, son of Donald Herrach, grew 
up to manhood under the subjection of their unnatural 
uncle, but determining to take the first opportunity of 
ridding themselves of his thraldom and injustice, they 
resolved to quarrel with him at an early opportunity, which 
offering, as they were in quest of deer, by Donald 
Gruamach's letting slip his own dogs at the first deer they 
saw, at which Gillespic took offence, and challenged him 
for so doing. Donald retorting, said that he had a better 


right to the deer than he had, and at the same time striking 
his uncle. Gillespic, calling Ranald, desired him to give 
him his sword as the fellow had hurt him. Donald said, 
'Give it to him, Ranald as he deserves, and remember 
your father's death and my father's ' ; upon which Ranald 
drew the sword he carried for his uncle, and slew him 
with it on the spot. This took place on a small rising 
ground in the glen between North and South Lee in Uist 
(called Crock Gillespic Dhuibh at Beallach-a-Skail), and 
Archibald is known to this day by the name of Gillespic 
dubh Bheallach-a-Skail. A servant who attended them at 
the time observed to Ranald, that he should strike a second 
blow, and that all would be clear before him, thereby 
intimating that by killing his cousin, Donald Gruamach, 
he would have the property. Ranald replied that he 
wished he had not done what he did. Upon the man's 
finding that his advice was not followed, he left them, and 
fled to Harris, where his descendants are at this day known 
by the name of Stalkers, or Macdonalds of the second 

" Paul, who assisted with the thong at the murder of 
Donald Herrach, obtained lands at Balmore, in North Uist, 
from Gillespic Dubh, but he occasionally resided for his 
better security at Dun Steingarry on Loch Paible at Bal- 
ranald, he being in terror of his life, after the death of his 
patron, Gillespic Dubh, from Donald Herrach's sons, 
Ranald and Angus Fionn, the latter of whom came 
expressly from Skye for the purpose of revenging his 
father's death. He wounded Paul as he was endeavouring 
to gain the sanctuary of Kilmuir, and an end was put to 
his life by a blind man that followed Angus Fionn, on 
hearing of the pursuit, but in a manner too savage to be 
mentioned. There are some of Paul's descendants at 
present in Benbecula. Of Angus Fionn were descended 
the Macdonalds of Trumisgarry. He generally resided at 
Dun Angus, at Orinsay. 

" Ranald Mac Dhoil Herrach went afterwards to Ireland, 
where he distinguished himself in the wars carried on in 


the northern provinces of that country by the Antrim 
family, at that time very powerful. Being severely wounded, 
he returned to his native country accompanied by a medical 
attendant of the house of Maclean, whose posterity were 
settled afterwards at Cuidrach, in Skye, and of whom is 
descended Sir Lachlan Maclean of Sudbury. 

" Ranald lived afterwards at Griminish, and frequently 
visited his cousin and chieftain, Donald Gruamach, who 
resided on his estate in Skye. On one occasion he found, 
on his going to Dunskaich in Sleat, that a party of the 
tribe of Clanranald were there, revelling without control, 
they presuming on the protection of their kinswoman, a 
daughter of Clanranald, the wife of their host, Donald 
Gruamach (who was himself of an indolent, passive disposi- 
tion). Ranald, despising the pusillanimity of his relation, 
seized on twelve of them early one morning, and hung them 
up to the walls of the castle in front of the lady's window, and 
going immediately to his friend told him that he was just 
setting off for Uist. He was requested to remain and partake 
of some breakfast previous to his departure. Ranald replied 
that he was afraid when the lady would look out of her 
window, the sight she would see would not incline her to 
thank him for his morning's work, and he immediately 
departed. It is supposed that she afterwards instigated Black 
Finnon Mackinnon to murder Ranald, which took place 
some time thereafter at a spot marked by a cairn on 
Druimard in Balmore, as he was on his way to pass the 
New Year with Donald Gruamach at Kirkibost, who had 
sent Finnon to Griminish for Ranald on New Year's day, 
and on coming to Druimard, Mackinnon produced Donald 
Gruamach's dirk (which he had stolen for the purpose) as 
a token that it was Donald Gruamach's orders that Ranald 
should be killed by the people, which was done accordingly." 

The murder of Donald Herrach, in the cruel man- 
ner here described, is corroborated by the New Statis- 
tical Account of the Parish of North Uist, where it is 
related, in addition to what has been said, that " Paul, at 
the moment Donald's head was within the loop, drew the 


thong with savage determination, and strangled him. 
From this circumstance he was called Paul na h-Eille, or 
Paul of the Thong. His life was short. Revenge, which 
in barbarous ages, takes a summary mode of inflicting 
punishment, soon overtook him. In a few weeks there- 
after, while Paul was building a stack of corn, from the 
top of it he observed, at some distance, a person of large 
stature rapidly moving towards the place. He hastily 
asked those around him from what airt the wind had 
blown the day before? On being informed it was from 
the east, and a leading wind from Skye, he exclaimed, the 
person at a distance must be Angus, commonly called 
Aonas Fionn, or Fair, son of Donald Herrach, who pos- 
sessed some part of Troternish in Skye, and that it was 
time for him to look to his own safety. At full speed he 
fled to the Church sanctuary at Kilmuir, a distance of 
about three miles. Angus saw him at a distance, and, 
following him with still greater speed, just as he was 
crossing a small rivulet that bounded the sanctuary on the 
south side, bent his unerring bow, and the arrow pierced 
Paul in the heel. He fell ; his legs in the water and the 
rest of his body on the land within the sanctuary, which 
to this day is called Lhead P/wil, or Paul's Field. This 
field forms part of the glebe of the parish. It is im- 
mediately adjoining the church, and the scene is pointed 
out about 100 yards from it. A blind man, a Comh-alt 
(foster-brother) of Donald Herrach, is said to have taken 
a brutal and indescribable revenge on Paul, which put an 
end to his lingering life. The memory of Paul na h-Eille 
is still held in universal detestation, while the descendants 
of Donald Herrach have since his time possessed and still 
possess large farms in North Uist. Loch Scolpeg, in which 
is, or rather was, the dun, where Donald Herrach was so bar- 
barously sacrificed to the evil passion of avarice, was some 
years ago drained by a gentleman living in its immediate 
neighbourhood ; and on the site of the dun he has erected a 
small octagonal building." This erection the present writer 
saw still standing while on a recent visit to North Uist. 



II. RANALD MACDONALD, son of Donald Herrach, des- 
cribed as of Griminish and Balranald, was succeeded by 
his son, 

III. ANGUS MACDONALD of Griminish and Balishear, 
who was succeeded by his son, 

IV. HUGH MACDONALD of Griminish, succeeded by his 

V. JOHN MACDONALD of Griminish, succeeded by his 

VI. DONALD MACDONALD of Knocknantoirean and 
Balranald. We are unable to procure trustworthy data 
regarding the wives of the preceding heads of this family, 
but there is no doubt that they succeeded each other from 
father to son in legitimate succession. Donald Macdonald 
was succeeded by his son, 

VII. ALEXANDER MACDONALD, of Kirkibost and Bal- 
ranald, who married, first, Jessie, daughter of John, son of 
Sir Donald Macdonald, Bart, of Sleat (Donald Gorm Og) 
with issue an only son, Donald, who succeeded him. He 
married, secondly, a daughter of the Rev. Donald Macleod, 
minister of Harris, with issue several sons, of whom the 
Macdonalds of Peniniurein and Springfield ; and a daughter, 
who married the Rev. John Macaulay, minister of South 
Uist, with issue. 

Alexander was succeeded by his only son by the first 

VIII. DONALD MACDONALD of Balranald, who married 
Catharine, daughter of Captain James Macdonald of Aird,* 
by his wife, a daughter of Macdonald of Kinloch-Moidart, 
with issue, 

1. Alexander, his heir. 

2. James (afterwards a Major in the army), who married 

This James Macdonald of Aird, was a son of William the Tutor (third son 
of Sir Donald Macdonald, third baronet of Sleat, by his wife Lady Mary Douglas, 
second daughter of Robert, third Earl of Morton), by his wife Catharine, daughter 
of the famous Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel. Through the marriage into the 
Kinloch-Moidart family, as stated in the text, it is said that the Macdonalds of 
Balranald were the nearest heirs to Kinloch-Moidart, but that the late Colonel 
Macdonald entailed the property on his mother's relatives, otherwise it would have 
gone rightfully to the family of Balranald, in virtue of the above-named marriage. 


Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. Owen, a banker in Tivcrton, with 
issue nine sons, three of whom attained distinction in the 
Army, and all of whom died unmarried. He had also one 
daughter, who died in infancy. Donald had also two 
daughters, Jessie and Catharine, both of whom died un- 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, 

IX. ALEXANDER MACDONALD, designated of Lyndale. 
He was a captain in the Bengal Artillery, from which 
he retired in consequence of ill health. He afterwards 
raised, and became Lieutenant-Colonel of, the 2nd Isle of 
Skye Regiment of Volunteers, numbering 510 men, most 
of whom, when the Militia were disbanded, joined the 
Glengarry Fencibles, or Caledonian Rangers. 

He married Jane Craigdallie, a lady belonging to an 
ancient Perthshire family, whose original name was Mac- 
gregor,* with issue 

1. Donald, who died at the Cape of Good Hope, un- 

2. James Thomas, of Balranald, who succeeded his 

3. Alexander, a captain in the i6th Bengal Native 
Infantry, who died in India, unmarried. 

4. John Robertson, who served in the 38th, 39th, and i6th 
Regiments, successively. He afterwards lived at the Rodil 
in Harris, and married Mary, daughter of Captain Mac- 
Rae of the Inverinate family, with issue one daughter, 
now residing with her mother at Dunvegan, Isle of Skye. 

5. Elizabeth Anne, who died unmarried. 

6. Caroline, who died young. 

7. Alexandrina Catherine, who married Andrew Corn- 
fute, a manufacturer in Perth, with issue all of whom died 
without issue. 

* The name of Macgregor was changed into that of Craigdallie, under the 
following circumstances. The ancestor of this lady joined the Chevalier in 1715, 
and after Sheriffmuir he, with his servant, when pursued by the government troops 
took shelter under a rock, called Craigdallie, in the Carse of Gowrie, and the name 
of the family was afterwards changed from Macgregor to Craigdallie. This 
gentleman's wife was Ann Don, a lady from Fife, belonging to the Newton Don 
family, now represented by Sir John Wauchope, Bart, of Edmonston. 


8. Isabella Maria, who married the Rev. Finlay Mac- 
Rae, minister of North Uist, with issue six sons and one 
daughter viz. (i) Donald, who married Annabella, daughter 
of Captain Miller of Pow, Perthshire, with issue ; (2) Alex- 
ander, a doctor in the army. He married Miss Maclean, 
Rochester, with issue, and died on his return from India ; 
(3) Duncan, who married in Australia, with issue ; and 
died there ; (4) John Alexander, minister of North Uist ; 

(5) James Andrew, Major, Inverness-shire Militia ; died un- 
married ; (6) Godfrey Alexander, a medical practitioner, 
North Uist; (7) Jane Anne Elizabeth, who married Edward 
William Hawes, R.N., with issue three daughters. 

He was succeeded by his second son, 

X. JAMES THOMAS MACDONALD of Balranald, who 
married Jane, daughter of Captain Donald Mackenzie, 
fourth son of Thomas Mackenzie, VI. of Applecross, and 
IV. of Highfield, by his wife, Elizabeth, only daughter of 
Donald Mackenzie, V. of Kilcoy, with issue 

1. Alexander, his heir, now of Balranald. 

2. Anne Margaret, who married Charles Shaw, W.S., 
late Sheriff Substitute of Lochmaddy, with issue (i) 
Duncan, a W.S. ; (2) James Thomas, a captain in the 
Inverness-shire Militia ; (3) Charles, married Mary Hastie 
in New Zealand, with issue ; (4) Alexander ; (5) Anne, 
married Capt. D. Cameron, Glenbrittle, Skye, with issue ; 

(6) Jane ; (7) Margaret Susan Christina ; (8) Elizabeth 
Anne Macdonald ; (9) Alexandra ; (10) Maggie, who died 
in 1879. 

3. Elizabeth Flora Anne, who married the Rev. Neil 
Mackinnon, minister of Creich, Sutherland-shire, with issue 
(i) Farquhar; (2) James Thomas; (3) Catharine, who 
married Jas. Ross Balblair, with issue ; (4) Jane ; (5) 
Jemima ; (6) Christina. 

4. Jessie Catharine, who married Donald Macdonald, 
now in Australia, with issue. 

5. Jane, who married Captain Donald C. Cameron, 
Talisker, with issue (i) Ewen ; (2) James Thomas ; (3) 
Donald ; (4) Mary ; (5) Jeanie. 


6. Jamima Isabella (died in 1874), who married Kenneth 
Maclcod, M.D., Calcutta, with issue (i) Julia ; (2) Jeanie ; 
(3) Alice Maud. 

James Thomas was succeeded by his only son, 
XI. ALEXANDER MACDONALD, now of Balranald, and 
of Edemvood in the County of Fife. He married, first, 
Margaret Anne Christina (died 1864), daughter of Norman 
MacLeod, Scalpa, and his wife Jessie, daughter of Mr. 
MacLeod, Ebost, Isle of Skye, without issue. He married, 
secondly, Margaret Campbell, daughter of the late Major 
Colin Lyon-Mackenzie of St. Martins, for many years 
Provost of Inverness, with issue 

1. James Alexander Ranald, his heir. 

2. Annie ; 3. Jeannie Alexandra ; 4. Margaret Jamima. 


THE first of this family was James Macdonald, second 
son of Donald Gruamach Macdonald, fourth baron 
of Sleat, and brother of Donald Gorm of Sleat, who 
claimed the Earldom of Ross and Lordship of the Isles, 
and was killed by the Mackenzies in 1539, at Eilean 
Donain Castle in Kintail. 

I. JAMES MACDONALD, first of Kingsburgh, lived in 
very turbulent times, and took a prominent part in the 
various disputes between the family of Sleat and the 
Macleods, during the reigns of James V. and Queen Mary. 
He was tutor-in-law for his nephew, Donald, sixth baron 
of Sleat, during his minority and " acquitted himself with 
fidelity and honour ". He married a daughter of Macleod 
of Harris, by whom he had issue, 

1. John, his heir, 

2. Donald. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, 

II. JOHN MACDONALD. About the year 1 578 this "John, 
son and heir of James Macdonald Gruamach (i.e., James 
son of Donald the Grim, fourth of Sleat), of Castle Camus, 
in Sleat," who was kept prisoner in the Castle of Inch- 
connell, Lochawe, made complaint against the Earl of 
Aygyll for oppressive and illegal conduct in detaining him 
prisoner. He was killed about 1585, in Mull, during a des- 
perate engagement, already described (pp. 192-195). 

He married a daughter of Macdonald of Knoydart, with 
issue, an only son, 

III. DONALD MACDONALD, a distinguished warrior, 


commonly known as " Domhnull Mac Ian 'ic Sheumais ". 
The manner in which he secured Uistcan Mac Ghillcspic 
Chleirich for planning the assassination of his uncle and chief, 
Donald Gorm Mor, and depriving him of his property, has 
already been described, (pp. 189-192). He was a man of 
unsurpassed courage and enormous bodily strength ; and he 
commanded the Macdonalds of Skye in three set battles 
against the Macleods and Macleans. In each case he came 
off victorious, against much larger forces than his own. 
In a quarrel which took place between Donald Gorm Mor 
Macdonald of Sleat, and Rory Mor Macleod of Dunvegan, 
Donald took a very prominent and distinguished share. 
Macleod invaded the district of Troternish with fire and 
sword. Macdonald retaliated by sending a force to invade 
Macleod's lands in Harris, killing many of the inhabitants, 
and carrying away a great booty of cattle. Macleod sent 
a body of forty able-bodied warriors to spoil and lay waste 
the Island of North Uist, then the property of Macdonald, 
and, according to Sir Robert Gordon, took " a prey of 
goods out of the precincts of the Church of Killtrynad, whcr 
the people had put all ther goods and cattle as in a 
Sanctuarie ". Here they were encountered by Donald 
Mac Ian 'ic Sheumais of Kingsburgh, at the head of twelve 
men who fought so valiantly, that they not only rescued 
the cattle and goods but killed Donald G/as, the leader of 
the Macleods, with nearly the whole of his followers. The 
late Alexander Cameron gives the following version of this 
and other raids in which Donald was the leading spirit : 
The local tradition of the battle narrates that it was the 
Macleods, after having succeeded in raising the creack of 
the Island, that had gathered their booty into the church, 
or monastery of the Trinity at Carinish, and that they 
were feasting there on some of the plunder, when Donald 
Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais arrived with his twelve warriors, 
who fought with their bows and arrows and swords with 
such effect, that only two of the Macleods escaped to con- 
vey the news of their discomfiture to their chief, who was 
with his galleys at Port-na-long. Donald Mac Iain Mhic 


Sheumais received a severe arrow wound in the action, 
from which he, however, soon recovered, and continued to 
distinguish himself as a warrior. The leader of the Mac- 
leods was slain by a Macdougall named Donald Mor Mac 
Neil Mine Iain, at the Sands named from that circumstance, 
Oitir Mhic-Dkomhmiil Ghlais. The slain of the party 
were buried at the scene of the action, known as Feithe- 
-na-fola, or the morass of blood, and their sculls were 
placed in the windows of the church of the Trinity, where 
they were to be seen up to a recent date. Rory Mor, see- 
ing the bad success of his clansmen, and suspecting that 
there were greater forces in the Island, retired home, in- 
tending to return shortly with greater forces to avenge 
his loss. 

In about three weeks, Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais 
was sufficiently recovered to proceed to Skye, to report the 
affair at Carinish personally to his chief, Donald Gorm 
Mor. He accordingly set sail in his galley with a befitting 
retinue, but when about half-way across the Minch, which 
separates North Uist and the other islands of the outer 
Hebrides from Skye, a violent snow-storm, with contrary 
wind arose, so that Donald was driven back, and had no 
recourse but to make for Rodil, in Harris, one of the seats 
of his enemy, Rory Mor. It was dark when Donald and 
his company landed, and their arrival was known to no one 
at Rodil with the exception of Macleod's page, Maccrimmon, 
a native of Skye, to whom Donald stood in the relation of 
goistidh, or godfather. Rory Mor, as usual, had a number 
of the gentlemen of his clan waiting on and feasting with 
him at Rodil House. The severity of the storm made the 
chief uneasy. He paced to and fro in his dining-hall, and, 
removing the panel from one of the apertures that served 
as windows, he peered into the darkness without, and, 
shuddered as the blast blew in through the window a 
shower of snow. Hastily closing the aperture, he ex- 
claimed, " I would not refuse shelter to my greatest enemy, 
even Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais, on such a night ". 
Maccrimmon immediately answered, " I take you at your 


word, Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais is here". Rory 
Mor was rather taken aback by the unexpected announce- 
ment, but yielding to no man in hospitality, he at once re- 
quested that Donald and his company should be shown in. 
The Macdonalds entered, and after a formal salutation, were 
requested to sit down to dinner with their host and kins- 
men. The long table groaned under its burden of beef, 
venison, and salmon. The Macleods were seated on one 
side, and the Macdonalds ranged themselves on the other 
side of the table, the duine-uasals of either clan being 
seated above, and the vassals below, the salt. Abundance 
of good old wine was quaffed, and as it took effect, the 
Macleods, who did not appear to relish the presence of the 
strangers, cast furtive glances across the table. At length 
the murmured and listless conversation was interrupted by 
the words, " Remember ! this day three weeks was fought 
the battle of Carinish," spoken by one of the Macleods in 
a loud and empathic tone. The chief gave a frowning look 
to the speaker, but that did not deter him from repeating 
the unfortunate words, which acted as a live spark on the 
combustible nature of the Macleods, and in an instant they 
displayed a score of daggers. A bloody scene would have 
inevitably followed had not the chief at once interfered, 
and with a voice of authority commanded his hasty clans- 
men to sheath their weapons, and not disgrace his hos- 
pitality and their own gallantry by such an ill-timed act. 
They at once obeyed, and he apologised to Donald for his 
clansmen's rashness, and good humouredly enquired of 
him why he had unsheathed his sword. Donald replied 
that he did not mean to act on the offensive, but that if 
any of his men had been struck he intended to have 
secured first the highest bird in the air, " an t-eun as airde 
tlia 'san eallninn ". When the hour for retiring came, the 
Macdonalds were shown to an outer house to sleep, but 
Donald, as being of higher rank, was about being shown to 
a bed-room in the house, when he declined to go, preferring 
to accompany his men ; which he did. They retired to rest, 
but had scarcely slept, when Maccrimmon came to the 


door and called to Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais that 
there was now a fair wind for Skye. The Macdonalds at 
once got up, and finding that the gale had subsided and that 
the wind was favourable they embarked in their galley for 
Skye. They had scarcely reached the entrance of the bay 
of Rodil when, on looking back, they observed the dormitory 
they had left in flames, some of the Macleods having 
treacherously set it on fire, suspecting that the Macdonalds 
were within. The piper of the Macdonalds struck up the 
piobaireachd, " Tha an dubhthuil air Macleod; i.e., the Mac- 
leods are disgraced," which galled the Macleods on per- 
ceiving that they were outwitted. The Macdonalds were 
soon borne by the breeze to their destination, Duntulm, in 

In the absence of Rory Mor in Argyll, seeking the aid 
and advice of the Earl of Argyll against the Macdonalds, 
in 1601, Donald Gorm Mor assembled his men and made 
an invasion of Macleod's lands, desiring to force on a 
battle. Alexander Macleod of Minginish, the brother of 
Rory Mor, collected all the fighting men of the Siol 
Tormod, and some of the Siol Torquil, and encamped by 
Ben Chullin. Next day they and the Macdonalds joined 
battle, " which continued all the day long, both contending 
for the victory with incredible obstinacy ". The leader of 
the Macleods (who was cased in armour) together with 
Niel Mac Alister Roy, and thirty of the leading men of the 
Macleods were wounded and taken prisoners, and the Mac- 
donalds succeeded in gaining the battle. John MacTormod, 
and Tormod MacTormod, two near kinsmen of Rory Mor, 
and several others of the Macleods, were slain. Donald 
Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais fought with great bravery in the 
action, under Donald Gorm Mor. The ravine where the 
battle was fought is hence named Coire na creach, or the 
ravine of the spoil. The Privy Council now interfered, and 
requested the chiefs to disband and quit Skye. Donald 
Gorm Mor was ordered to surrender himself to the Earl 
of Huntly, and Rory Mor to the Earl of Argyll, and were 
charged to remain with these noblemen under the pain of 


treason, until the quarrel between them should be settled by 
the king and council. Through the mediation of Angus 
Macdonald of Kintyre, the Laird of Coll, and other friends, 
a reconciliation was effected between them, upon which 
Donald Gorm Mor delivered up to Rory Mor the prisoners 
taken at Ben Chullin, after which they refrained from open 
hostility, though they had actions of law against each 
other. On the reconciliation being effected, Donald Gorm 
Mor was invited by Rory Mor to a banquet in Dunvegan 
Castle. When Donald Gorm appeared in sight of the 
Castle he was met by Macleod's splendid piper, Donald 
Mor Maccrimmon, who welcomed the chief of the Mac- 
donalds by playing "The Macdonald's Salute," which 
piobaireackd he composed for the occasion. It was at the 
same banquet that he composed " Faille nan Leodack ".* 
Donald Mac Ian 'ic Sheumais is said to have been the first 
who ventured to drive Highland cattle from the Western 
Isles to the mainland and southern markets. 

He married a daughter of Macdonald of Keppoch with 
issue (among several others, some of whom died young). 

IV. ALEXANDER MACDONALD, a great loyalist. He 
joined Montrose and was engaged in all his battles. He 
was one of Sir Donald Macdonald's " five cousins," killed at 
Killiecrankie. He married a niece of Sir Donald Mac- 
donald, eighth baron and first baronet of Sleat, with 

V. DONALD MACDONALD, a distinguished soldier, who, 
with his father, joined Dundee at the Revolution, and 
fought afterwards at Sheriffmuir. He married Margaret, 
daughter of Donald Nicolson of Scorribreck, with issue, 

VI. ALEXANDER MACDONALD. One of his contempo- 
raries, Douglas, himself (connected with the Sleat family by 
marriage), informs us in the "Baronage" that he "was a man 
of great integrity, probity, and honour, and has been long one 
of the principal managers of his chiefs affairs, having been 
first appointed into that station by old Sir Donald [who died 
in 1 7 1 8], was continued by his son, young Sir Donald, by Sir 

History and Traditions of the Isle of Skye. 


James, whose son, Sir Alexander, left him one of the Tutors 
to his sons the late Sir James and the present Sir Alex- 
ander [who died in 1795] ; and has always acquitted him- 
self with great fidelity and an unspotted character. In 
1746, having entertained the young Chevalier at his house 
in Skye, and assisted him in making his escape, he was 
apprehended by order of the Duke of Cumberland, and 
sent prisoner to the Castle of Edinburgh, where he 
remained, close confined, for about twelve months, and was 
at last liberated upon the general Act of Indemnity." All 
the more important public incidents of his life are given 
in the Rev. Alexander Macgregor's " Life of Flora Mac- 
donald," who became the wife of Donald's son, Allan. 

He married Florence, daughter of John Macdonald, 
second of Castleton, with issue 

1. Allan, his heir. 

2. James of Knockow, factor for Sir Alexander Mac- 
donald, eighth baronet of Sleat. He married a sister of 
Major Macleod of Balmeanach, with issue three daughters; 
(i) Anne, who married Mr. Mackenzie, a joiner, by whom 
she had a large family, all of whom emigrated, with their 
parents to America, except a daughter, Margaret, who 
married Mr. Macdonald, schoolmaster and catechist, now 
residing at Lochbay, Barra; (2) Margaret; and (3) Flora, 
both of whom died unmarried. 

3. Anne, who married, first, Ronald MacAlister, of the 
family of Loup, in Argyllshire, with issue nine sons and 
five daughters. She married, secondly, Lauchlan Mackin- 
non of Corry, in Skye, without issue. Her children by 
Ronald MacAlister were (i) Donald, (2) Allan, both of 
whom died at Kingsburgh ; (3) James, died at Cour ; (4) 
Janet, died in infancy ; (5) John, died in India, and left a 
sufficiently large sum of money to enable his father, 
Ronald MacAlister, to purchase the estate of Strath ; (6) 
Charles, died in India ; (7) Keith, who became a General in 
the Army and died at Torisdale, Argyllshire ; (8) Norman, 
a Colonel, and Governor of Prince of Wales Island. He 
was lost in the ship Ocean ; leaving two daughters, Frances 


Byng, who married Angus MacAlistcr of Balnakill ; and 
Flora, who married Keith Macdonald of Inistrynich ; (9) 
second son of Charles Mac Eachainn, outlawed for taking 
part in the rebellion of 1746, with issue five sons and six 
daughters ; (a) John, (b~) Ronald, both Captains in the 
H.E.I.C. Service ; (c) Alexander, a Lieutenant in the 
same Service, all three of whom died in India ; (d) Keith, 
a Lieutenant in the Indian Navy, who married Flora, 
daughter of Colonel Norman MacAlister, on which occa- 
sion he added Macalister to his own name of Macdonald 
to secure her property. By her he had one son and two 
daughters Keith Norman, who died young; Emily Birnie, 
who married Dr. Crichton, with issue a son, Charles 
Norman, now in India ; Margaret Frances, who married 
Brownlow North, son of the great revivalist preacher of 
the same name ; (e) CHARLES MACDONALD, a Lieutenant 
in the Glengarry Fencibles, who married Anne, daughter of 
Captain Neil Macleod of Gesto, and died at Ord, in 1867, 
leaving a family of five sons and three daughters ; Alex- 
ander Macdonald, Ord, who married Maria Macdonell, of the 
Keppoch family, with issue three sons (one of whom died 
young), and two daughters ; Lachlan Macdonald, now of 
Skaebost, Isle of Skye, who married Wilhelmina, daughter 
of the late John Mackenzie of Bengal, by whom he has a 
family of five sons and one daughter ; Keith, a doctor of 
medicine, now at Cupar, who married Miss Niblet, Edin- 
burgh, with issue two sons ; Neil, now of Dunach, 
Argyllshire, who married Madeline, daughter of the Rev. 
Mr. Brown of the North of England, with issue three 
sons ; Charles, now of Clayton, Fifeshire, who married 
Anne Mary, daughter of Thomas Williamson, Glasgow, 
with issue two sons and two daughters ; Flora, who 
married Alexander Smith, the Poet, author of " A Summer 
in Skye," with issue a son and two daughters ; Isabella 
who married John Robertson of Grishernish, Isle of Skye, 
with issue a family of four sons and seven daughters ; and 
Margaret, who married Godfrey Mackinnon of North Goon- 


ambil, Australia, with issue two sons and two daughters. 
(/) Isabella, daughter of Dr. Alexander, second son of 
Charles MacEachainn, married Captain Allan MacLellan of 
the Glengarry Fencibles, with issue six sons (of whom four 
died without issue), and four daughters ; Keith, now of 
Melfort, the eldest son alive, who married Jessie Mac- 
donell of the family of Keppoch, with issue ; Alister 
Macdonald, who married Bella Christian, daughter of Alex- 
ander MacRa of Hushinish, Harris ; Charles, drowned on 
his way to India; Marcella, who married Horatio Maculloch, 
the famous landscape painter, without issue ; Margaret ; 
Flora ; and Anne, all three married with issue, in Australia. 

From Anne of Kingsburgh, in addition to those above 
given are descended, among hundreds of distinguished 
Military, Professional, and Scientific men, John H. A. 
Macdonald, late Solicitor-General for Scotland, and now 
Sheriff of Perthshire ; Captain Allan Macdonald of Water- 
nish ; Mrs. Brown, Linkwood ; Mrs. Scott Moncrieff; the 
Rev. Donald MacKinnon, Sleat ; Lachlan MacKinnon, of the 
" Melbourne Argus " ; William MacKinnon, a distinguished 
M.D. in the Army, who, when quite a young man, was on 
Lord Clyde's staff in India, made a C.B., and is now De- 
puty Surgeon-General in the Army ; the Rev. Roderick 
Morrison, Kintail ; Keith Macalister, now of Glenbarr, 
Argyllshire ; Alexander MacAlister, now of Strathaird, 
in Skye ; and a great many others, all of whom we have 
traced step by step, but not being Macdonalds by name we 
cannot find the necessary space to show their descent and 
connexions in detail. 

Alexander of Kingsburgh was liberated from the prison 
of Edinburgh on the 4th of July, 1717, having "got a 
whole year's safe lodging for affording that of one night ". 
He became one of Sir James's Tutors, in which capacity 
he continued to act until Sir James came of age ; when, in 
consideration of his long and faithful services to the 
family, he granted him an annuity of fifty pounds sterling 
a-year, for the remainder of his life. He died at the great 


age of eighty-three, on the I3th of February, 1772, when 
he was succeeded by his eldest son, 

VII. ALLAN MACDONALD, who on the 6th of November, 
1750, married the celebrated Flora Macdonald of history. 
On the death of Old Kingsburgh, Allan and his famous 
wife took up their abode in Kingsburgh House. In 1773, 
they had the pleasure of entertaining Dr. Johnson and 
Boswell. This was the same house in which, under her 
guidance, Prince Charles slept for a night, on his memorable 
passage through the Isle of Skye from the Long Island. 
Allan became embarrassed in his business affairs in con- 
sequence of his father's connection with Prince Charles, 
and the neglect of Old Kingsburgh's affairs during his 
imprisonment in Edinburgh ; so, he determined to emig- 
rate with his wife and family to America. Soon after their 
arrival in North Carolina, in 1755, the American War of 
Independence broke out. Allan became a Captain in the 
newly raised 84th or Royal Highland Emigrant Regi- 
ment, then raised, and consisting of about 1500 Highland 
emigrants or their sons ; and his wife, the famous Flora, 
remained in the camp, inspiring them with enthusiasm in 
the Royal Cause, until the troops commenced their march. 
Their five sons also took part in the war, as did also Major 
Alexander Macleod, who had quite recently married their 
eldest daughter, Anne. Allan took a distinguished part in 
the war, but he was taken prisoner and committed to the 
prison of Halifax, Virginia. Flora, in great distress of 
mind and means, determined to return to Scotland, at the 
earnest request of her husband, he promising to join her and 
her daughter Frances as soon as he obtained his liberty. 
Crossing the Atlantic, the ship in which she was coming 
home was attacked by a French privateer, and, during the 
action which followed, while all the other lady passengers 
went below for safety, Flora remained on deck encouraging 
the sailors by her voice and example, and assuring them of 
snccess. The enemy was soon overcome and beaten off, 
but the brave Flora was knocked down and had her arm 
broken in the scrimmage. She afterwards used to say that 


she imperilled her life both in the cause of the Stuarts and 
the House of Hanover, and that she received little from 
either for her pains. On her arrival in the Highlands she 
went to reside with her brother at Milton, in Uist, and 
remained there until, on the Treaty of Peace at the con- 
clusion of the American War, in 1783, her husband was 
liberated, and he returned to Scotland. They went back to 
live at Kingsburgh House, Allan enjoying a captain's half- 
pay, which, with the product of the farm, enabled them to 
live comfortably for the rest of their days. Flora died on 
the 5th of March, 1790, when her remains were shrouded 
in one of the sheets in which Prince Charles had lain in 
Kingsburgh House, while a fugitive in Skye, and which 
Flora had carried with her, through all her adventures in 
America, and brought back to Skye on her return. She 
was buried in the Kingsburgh family vault in the Church- 
yard of Kilmuir, where now stands a fine monument, 
erected by public subscription, to mark her last resting- 
place. For full particulars of her life, death, and funeral, 
we refer the reader to her History by the Rev. Alexander 
Macgregor in the " Celtic Magazine," and now about to be 
published in book form. Allan, her husband, survived her 
only for a few years. He died on the 2Oth of September, 
1795, when he was buried by the side of his immortal wife ; by 
whom he had a fine family of five sons and four daughters 

1. Charles, a Captain in the Queen's Rangers. At his 
funeral, Lord Macdonald, on seeing his body lowered into 
the grave, remarked, " There lies the most finished gentle- 
man of my family and name ". He married Isabella, 
daughter of Captain James Macdonald of Aird, Troternish, 
son of William Macdonald, Tutor of Sleat, without issue. 

2. Alexander, an Officer in the Naval Service, lost at 
sea, unmarried. He went down in the " Ville de Paris," a 
French line of battle ship, taken after a severe fight ; he 
and his brother, Ranald, having been put on board in com- 
mand of the prize crew. 

3. Ranald, a Captain of Marines, " of high professional 
character, and remarkable for the character of his appear- 


ance ". He was lost in the " Ville de Paris " with his 
brother, Alexander, unmarried. 

4. James, a brave officer, who served with distinction in 
Tarlton's British Legion ; known in Skye as Captain James 
Macdonald of Flodigarry. He married Emily, daughter of 
James Macdonald of Skaebost, with issue, two sons and 
three daughters (i) James Somerled Macdonald, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel of the 45th Madras Native Infantry, who 
died in London, in January, 1842, unmarried. He was 
buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. (2) Allan Ranald, a 
Captain in the 4th Bengal Native Infantry, who married 
Miss Smith, daughter of General Smith, of the Bengal 
Army, with issue a son and two daughters. The son, Re- 
ginald Somerled Macdonald, of the Colonial Office, died 
four years ago. He married a daughter of Sir William 
Grove, an English judge, with issue two daughters, one of 
whom, remarkable for her great beauty, died young in 
Florence ; the other, Zeila Flora Macdonald, married 
Marshal Canrobert, of France, with issue several children. 

Of the three daughters of Captain James of Flodigarry, 
two, Flora and Charlotte, died young and unmarried ; the 
former in her father's house at Flodigarry, through an illness 
brought on by sleeping in damp sheets ; the latter, at the 
age of seventeen, while on a visit to her maternal aunt, the 
late Mrs. Alexander Mackenzie of Letterewe. Jessie, then 
only surviving daughter of Captain James Macdonald of 
Flodigarry, married Ninian Jeffrey, New Kelso, Lochcarron, 
with issue eight sons and two daughters ; (i) Captain James 
(died in 1875), who married Mary Irwin, leaving issue one 
daughter, who married Dixon Irwin, shipowner, Liver- 
pool; (2) Capt. George, of H.M. 32nd Light Infantry, whose 
career as a soldier was marked by the most reckless bravery. 
Before he was seventeen he held a Lieutenant's commission 
in Don Pedro's army in Portugal. The Portuguese war 
over, he was next found fighting under General Sir de Lacy 
Evans, and greatly distinguished himself at the battle of 
Venta Hill, on the 5th of May, 1836, when he had to be 
carried off the field with three bullets in his body. He sub- 



sequently obtained a commission in the British army, and, 
after serving in the tropics, fought through the Sikh war of 
1848-9 ; was present at the siege and storming of Mooltan, 
and at the closing battle of Goojerat. He married Annie, 
daughterof Colonel William Geddcs, H.E.I.C.S.,with issue- 
John Macdonald, in the 24th Regiment, and three daughters, 
one of whom, Flora Macdonald Wylde, died in infancy ; 
Jessie, still unmarried ; and Georgina Amelia, who married 
John Abernethy Rose, merchant, Kurrachee, India. Captain 
George Jeffrey died in China in 1868. (3) William John, 
stipendiary magistrate at Demerara, married Sophia, widow 
of the Rev. William Hamilton, Rector of the Episcopal 
Church at Leguan, Essiquibo, Demerara, with issue two 
children, a boy and a girl ; died in infancy ; (4) Allan 
Ranald Macdonald, a well-known litterateur in London, 
who married, and has issue, one son, Allan Ninian Charles 
Macdonald ; (5) Thomas Mackenzie, lost at sea, young and 
unmarried ; (6) Alexander Lachlan, in Edinburgh, un- 
married ; (7) Ninian, and (8) John, both of whom died in 
infancy. The daughters were, Amelia Macdonald, who 
died unmarried in 1864 ; and Agnes Johanna, who married 
Ranald Livingstone, of Drimsynie, Argyleshire, with issue 
Ranald J. Macdonald, Alexander William John, Emily 
Nina, Mary Frances, and Flora Charlotte Macdonald. Mr. 
Livingstone died on the 8th of October, 1871. 

5. John, the last survivor of Flora Macdonald's dis- 
tinguished sons, became Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal 
Clan Alpine Regiment, and Commandant of the Royal 
Edinburgh Artillery. He wrote extensively on military 
subjects, and was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society. 
He married, first, in India, Mrs Bogle, a widow, and 
daughter of General Salmon, with issue two children, who 
died young. He married, secondly, Frances Maria, eldest 
daughter of Sir Robert Chambers, Chief Justice of the 
Supreme Court of Judicature, Bengal, with issue seven sons 
and two daughters: (i) Robert, a Major in the Indian army, 
married, leaving issue one son, Somerled, who died young ; 
(2) John, a Captain in the Indian army, married, with 


surviving issue a son and a daughter ; (3) Allan, died 
young ; (4) William Pitt, a Major-General in the Indian 
army, twice married, with surviving issue seven sons and six 
daughters, most of whom are married, with issue ; (5) Charles 
Edward, in the Indian Civil Service, married, with issue a 
son and daughter, both married ; (6) James, a Captain in 
the Indian army, married, with issue a son and daughter, 
both married ; (7) Reginald, Lieutenant, I7th Lancers, 
married Miss Morris, with issue one daughter, unmarried ; 
(8) Flora Frances, who married Edward Wylde, of the 
Royal Navy, whom she survives without issue ; she 
resides at Cheltenham, and is the only living grandchild 
of the famous Flora Macdonald. (9) Henrietta Louisa 
Lavinia, who married Benjamin Cuff Greenhill, of Knowle 
Hall, Somersetshire, with issue three daughters, the eldest 
of whom, Lavinia, married Edward Amphlett, and died, 
leaving issue a son and daughter. The second, Flora, 
married Thomas Hussey, and is left a widow, with a son and 
three daughters. The third, Clari, married, without issue. 

Colonel John Macdonald died at Exeter, on the i6th of 
August, 1831, aged 72 years. 

6. Anne, who married Major Alexander Macleod of 
Lochbay, Isle of Skye, and of Glendale, Moore County, 
U.S.A. He fought through the American War of Inde- 
pendence ; subsequently distinguished himself in the Euro- 
pean wars, and rose to the rank of Major-General in the 
British army. His wife, Anne, daughter of Flora Mac- 
donald, survived him, and died at the house of their 
daughter, Mary, at the village of Stein, Isle of Skye, in' 
1834. The issue of this marriage was ; (i) Norman, killed 
by Glengarry in a duel, after a quarrel at a Northern Meet- 
ing Ball at Inverness ; (2 and 3) sons, one of whom married 
in India ; (4) Flora, who married Mr. MacKay, Forres, with 
issue ; (5) Mary, who died a few years ago, unmarried, in 
Stein, Isle of Skye. 

7. Frances or Fanny, who married Lieutenant Donald 
Macdonald of Cuidrach,* Isle of Skye, with issue. 

"Mrs. Major Alexander Macleod, daughter of Flora Macdonald, had a 


8 and 9. A boy and girl, who died young of typhus fever, 
aged respectively eleven and thirteen years, at Killicgray, 
their father's residence when in America, on the borders of 
Richmond and Montgomery Counties. The present pro- 
prietor of the property on which they are buried has, much 
to his honour, fenced in the graves of these children, to 
preserve the spot sacred to Flora Macdonald's offspring. 

daughter married to Mr. Macdonald of Cuidrach. A daughter named Janet, of 
said parents, was married to Major Alexander Macdonald of Monkstadt, in the 
parish of Kilmuir in Skye, and proprietor then of the small property of Courthill, 
parish of Lochcarron. Major Alexander Macdonald of Monkstadt, had two sons, 
Hugh and Alexander, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Alice. Hugh was tacks- 
man of Monkstadt, and was married to a daughter of Donald Macdonald of 
Tanera, afterwards of Kingsburgh, and was proprietor of Skaebost and Stein until 
sold. Said Hugh Macdonald of Monkstadt had a numerous family of sons and 
daughters ; Alexander, Donald, John, Hugh, James, and daughters Margaret 
Bosville, who married a Mr. Todd, proprietor of Underwood, Dumfriesshire, by 
whom she had a numerous family ; Jessie Julia; Johanna, and Eliza. Almost all 
went to Australia. Alexander, eldest son of Major Macdonald of Monkstadt, was 
never married. He became insane when a young man by an operation performed on 
his ears for deafness, and lived principally with his brother Hugh, and was quite 
harmless. Elizabeth, daughter of Major Alexander Macdonald, was married to 
Captain Alexander Macleod of Borlin, but had no issue, and her sister Alice was 
married to Dr. Millar, of Stornoway, with issue. Mrs. Major Macleod had a 
daughter named Fanny, but I think she was never married." Rev. Alexander 
Macgregor, M.A. 


THE first of the Macdonalds of Castleton was, 
H I. DONALD MACDONALD, second son of Sir 
Donald Macdonald, eighth baron and first baronet 
of Sleat, by his wife, Janet, second daughter, by his first 
marriage, of Kenneth, created first Lord Mackenzie of 
Kintail, on the ipth of November, 1609, and sister to Colin 
Ruadh, and George, first and second Earls of Seaforth 
(creation 1623). Donald of Castleton took a distinguished 
part in the civil wars of the time in which he lived. 

He married Margaret, daughter of John Cameron of 
of Lochiel father of the famous Sir Ewen Dubh, by 
whom he had issue 

1. John, his heir. 

2. Mary, who married her cousin, Sir Donald Macdonald 
" A Chogaidh," eleventh baron and fourth baronet of Sleat, 
(who died in 1718), with issue; and secondly, Alexander 
Macdonald, first of Boisdale, as his first wife, also with issue. 

Donald was succeeded by his only son, 

II. JOHN MACDONALD, second of Castleton. He fought 
at Killiecrankie, and married Mary Maclean of the family 
of Ardgour with issue 

1. Donald, his heir. 

2. Roderick "Mac Ian," of Camuscross, who married, 
first, Anne, daughter of John Macleod of Drynoch, com- 
monly called " Ian Mac Dhomhnuill Ghlais," from whom 
the Macdonalds of Tormore. 

3. Margaret, who married, Sir James Macdonald (of 
Oronsay) sixth baronet of Sleat, as his second wife, with 
issue, John Macdonald, who died young, without issue. 


4. Florence, who married Alexander Macdonald of 
Kingsburgh, the entertainer of Prince Charles in 1746, 
with issue Allan, who married the famous Flora Mac- 
donald, and others [see Family of KINGSBURGH]. 

5. Isabella, who married John Mackinnon of Kinloch, 
a cadet of the Mackinnons of Strath, with issue. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, 

III. DONALD MACDONALD of Castleton, a captain in 
one of the Independent Skye Companies in 1745. He 
afterwards joined the army and became a Colonel. It was 
he who wrote to President Forbes intimating the death of 
Sir Alexander Macdonald, seventh baronet of Sleat in 1746. 
After stating how the lady bore her afflictions " with that 
patience and resignation which becomes a Christian, and a 
woman of prudence," he proceeds to say, "There is, my 
Lord, one particular in which she has ordered me to solicite 
your interest, at a time she is not in a condition to 
write to you ; and that is in behalf of Mr. Macdonald of 
Kingsborrow, now a prisoner in the Castle of Edinborough. 
That gentleman has been a principal manager of the affairs 
of the family of Macdonald, for twenty-eight years, and 
did always discharge his trust with faithfulness and dili- 
gence. And, as by his long management, he is best 
acquainted with the affairs of the family, so there cannot 
be no greater service at present done her and her children, 
than that he should be set at liberty, and reinstated in his 
former office." He then points out, by her ladyship's 
request, the services rendered by her late lord in suppress- 
ing the rebellion, trusting that this will now " be remem- 
bered to his lady and children, and they would take the 
liberation of the gentleman in the Castle as an earnest of 
the regard of the government for her." 

He married Isabella, daughter of William Macleod of 
Hamer, (author of a most curious book on Second Sight, 
under the designation of "Theophilus Insulanus,") with issue 
an only son, 

IV. JOHN MACDONALD of Castleton, Sheriff-substitute 


of Skyc, who married his cousin by his mother, Margaret, 
daughter of Macleod of Arnisdalc, Glenelg, with issue 

1. Donald, who died in Skye, without issue. 

2. Norman, who died in the West Indies, without issue. 

3. Alexander, a Major in the army ; died in the East 
Indies, without issue. 

4. Magnus, died in the East Indies, without issue. 

5. John, a Captain in the army, died at Skirinish in 
1833, without issue. 

6. William, a Captain in the army, died in the East 
Indies, without issue. 

7. Flora of Skirinish, who died there unmarried. 

8. Isabella, died unmarried. 

The Sheriff died, at the great age of eighty-seven, on the 
25th of December, 1826. 

The direct male representation of Donald, third of 
Castleton, having thus entirely failed we must revert to his 

second son of John Macdonald, second of Castleton. 
Roderick married, first, Anne, daughter of John Macleod 
of Drynoch, a cadet of the Macleods of Macleod, with 

1. Alexander, his heir. 

2. James Macdonald of Knock, who married Grace, 
daughter of Major Macdonald of Breakish, with issue a 
son, who married Miss Mackay, Inverness. 

3. Donald Macdonald, first of Tormore, Isle of Skye, 
who married Eliza Macfarlane of Garistock, with issue 
Alexander Macdonald, second of Tormore, who married 
Isabella, daughter of Alexander Chisholm of Samalaman 
and Lochans, in Moydart, with issue ; (i) Alexander, born 
1831, died 1844; (2) Donald now of Tormore; (3) Mal- 
colm Neil, for some time an Indigo Planter in India, 
now at Tormore ; married Ethel, daughter of the Rev. Mr. 
Wright, with issue three sons Donald, Somerled, and 
Malcolm. (4) John Macleod ; (5) Eliza, who married 
Mr. Hutchins, Edinburgh, with issue; (6) Penelope, who 


married Dr. Maclean, Uist, with issue a daughter ; (6) 
Barbara Diana, who married a Mr. Oxley, with issue, and 
emigrated to America ; (8) Annabella, who married Mr. 
Oxley, brother to her sister's husband, with issue, who also 
emigrated to America ; and (9) Johanna, who married 
Dr. Campbell, Skye, with issue one son. Donald, first of 
Tormore, died in 1799, and his son Alexander, second 
of Tormore, died in 1857. 

Ruan Mac Ian was in many respects a most remarkable 
man, and a fine old Highland gentleman one of the last 
links in the chain which connected the customs of the past 
with the altered habits and civilization of the present. 
His second wife, a Mrs. Macqueen, had a daughter by a pre- 
vious marriage, who lived with her mother in Rory's house, 
after his second marriage ; and there does not appear to have 
been much love lost between him and this addition to his 
establishment at Camuscross. On a certain occasion he 
paid a visit to Armadale, and called on a namesake of his 
own.afterwards known as "Old Ord," to borrowseed potatoes. 
His friend asked how he left his wife, when he simply 
replied, " Dh' fhalbh i," or, she's away ; and being further 
questioned about the sad occurence, he said, that he did not 
go to see himself, but he knew she was gone, " Dh' aithnich 
mi gun dh' fhalbh i air scread ni'c Cuinn ". He delighted 
in great displays of hospitality at funerals, and judged the 
social position of those more immediately concerned by 
the quantity of spirits consumed, and the number of fights 
which took place on such occasions. When he heard of 
any more than usually desperate and sanguinary funeral 
fights, he would exclaim, " Yes, yes, that was to be looked 
for and expected. They came of respectable forbears." On 
the other hand, when he was informed that a funeral passed 
off quietly, he would say, " Yes, yes, that is just like the 
mean lot. What else could we expect from such a mean 
low-bred set of cads." On the occasion of the funeral of 
one of his sisters, he insisted that it must be celebrated by 
the bringing home of at least half-a-dozen dead bodies, as 
evidence of such an ample supply of whisky having been 


supplied as became the liberality and dignity of his house. 
He had strong views on the impropriety of the common 
people being allowed to mix too freely with their betters, 
and several curious stories are related of how, even in his 
old age, he resented this impertinence. In his earlier days 
the national beverage was freely manufactured without any 
interference by the Board of Excise, but in his latter years, 
he was much concerned and annoyed to hear that an Excise 
officer, one of a class then looked upon in the Highlands 
as the natural enemies of society, was on his way to the 
Isle of Skye, and had indeed actually crossed the Kyle. 
Old Rory was at the time confined to his bed by some 
ailment, and being unable personally to give such a wel- 
come as he desired to the stranger, he sent for a power- 
ful vassal upon whom he could fully depend to carry out 
any orders given him, if sufficiently rewarded. The hero 
having arrived, he was ushered into Rory's presence, who, 
pointing to a garment hanging against the wall of his 
room, said, " Do you see that coat with the silver buttons ? " 
" I do." " Well then, it shall be yours, if you go and meet 
the coming exciseman, set upon him, and give him such 
a pounding as will keep him from coming to molest us 
again." The order was soon carried into effect ; the man 
returned to tell his patron that he had executed his com- 
mission to the full, and demanding his reward, which, after 
being cross-examined, he at once received ; for Rory was 
highly delighted. The examiner proceeded in this strain. 
" Na phronn thu a' mionach beag aige ? " " Did you crush 
his small bowels ? " "I have " ; to which Rory replied, " 'S 
math sin," telling him to take the coat away with him as 
his well-earned reward, fully believing in his own mind 
that nothing more would be heard of the common enemy 
of Skyemen. Not very long after this, Rory in his walks 
met a man on the high-way, and asking him in the usual 
manner for his news, the way-farer informed him, among 
other things, that they were getting large catches of herring 
in Loch Eishort, and that an Excise officer was seen at 
Broadford, on his way through the Island. Rory became 



startled, and conscience-stricken, for he was, like most 
Highlanders, somewhat credulous, and believing his old 
enemy had risen almost from the dead, he exclaimed, " 'S 
math a bha fios aige fhein gu de dhcanadh feum dha a 
sheachd leor do scaddan ur." Well did he know what 
would do him good his seven fulls of fresh herrings ; as if 
this would have cured him from the effects of the terrible 
pounding which otherwise must have proved fatal. 

Roderick Mac Ian of Camuscross, was succeeded by his 
eldest son, 

ALEXANDER MACDONALD, who married Jane, eldest 
daughter of the Hon. Captain John Johnstone of Staple- 
ton, second son of James, second Earl of Hartfell, who was 
created Earl of Annandale in 1661. Alexander Macdonald 
was lost at sea in 1758. By his wife he had issue 

1. Donald, his heir. 

2. Alexander, who married Anne Salterford, and had 
issue an only son, Alexander John, who died in infancy. 

3. Mary, who died young. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, 
DONALD MACDONALD, who married Johanna Manning, 
and died in 1 804. By his wife he left issue 

1. James, his heir. 

2. Donald, a Lieutenant in the 6/th Regiment; who 
married Susan, daughter of Denis MacCarthy, and sister 
to his elder brother's wife, with issue James ; Donald of 
Desert ; and Jane. 

3. Johanna, who married George Gwynn. 
He was succeeded by his eldest son, 

V. JAMES MACDONALD, who, upon failure of the elder 
branch, became the representative of the family of Castle- 
ton ; he was also one of the Claimants for the Annandale 
Peerage, through his grandmother, Jane, daughter of the 
Hon. Captain John Johnstone of Stapleton. He married 
Catharine, daughter of Denis MacCarthy of Kilcoleman, 
with issue, 

1. Donald, who died, unmarried, in 1856. 

2. James Alexander, a Wesleyan minister in England. 


3. John Dennis, M.D., F.R.S., Inspector-General of Hos- 
pitals and Fleets, R.N., who was born in 1826, and married 
first, Sarah Phebe, daughter of Ely Walker of Stainland, 
with issue James Alexander Walker, who died in infancy ; 
John Dennis ; William Richard ; Elyna Mary ; and Ca- 
therine Janet. He married, secondly, Krina Christiana 
Cunningham, daughter of the Rev. William Archer, M.A., 
of Wicklow, without issue. 

4. Jane Masters, who married William Richard Rogers, 
M.D., with issue. 

James Macdonald died in 1865, when the male represen- 
tation of the family of Castleton, devolved upon his son, 

also succeeds his father as Claimant to the Annandale 
Peerage. He married Harriet, daughter of Edward William 
Mackie, with issue 

1. Rev. James Alexander Donald John, born in 1855. 

2. Edward William Johnstone, born 1858. 

3. Roderick John Johnstone, B.M. Edin., born 1859. 

4. Somerlet Hector Norman, born 1861, died 1863. 

5. Harriet Flora Macdonald. 

6. Catherine Amelia Macdonald. 


THE progenitor of the Macdonalds of Vallay, was 
WILLIAM MACDONALD, son of Sir Donald Mac- 
donald, third baronet of Sleat, better known as 
"Tutor of Macdonald". We have already seen (pp. 232-234) 
how he obtained the farm of Aird, near Duntulm in Skye, 
free for life, and a perpetual feu of the Island of Vallay, 
in North Uist, for one shilling a year, in return for his 
services to the family of Sleat, during the forfeiture, after 
1715. He was at the battle of Sheriffmuir, and, with his 
brother James, commanded the Macdonalds of Sleat, who 
opened the battle. Sileas nighean Mine Raonuill, the 
Gaelic poet, refers to him in her description of the battle 

as follows : 

Beir soraidh gu Domhnull o'n Dun, 
Gu Uilleam 's gu Seumas nan triuir. 

by hi? wife, Catharine, daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of 
Lochiel, he had a numerous issue, among whom were 
Captain James Macdonald of Aird, Troternish, Isle of 
Skye, and Captain John Macdonald of Kirkibost, North 
Uist, each of whom led a company of 100 men to Inver- 
ness, in 1745, against Prince Charles. Captain James, 
married Miss Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart, and by her 
had one son and three daughters. The son went to 
Australia, where he, with his wife, was drowned while 
crossing a river. Of the daughters, Catherine married 
Donald Macdonald, VIII. of Balranald, with issue; Isabella, 
married Captain Oharles, eldest son of Allan Macdonald of 
Kingsburgh and his wife Flora Macdonald, without issue. 
The third, Mary, died unmarried. The Tutor had also 


two daughters, the eldest of whom, Flora, was married, 
with issue ; the second, Margaret, died unmarried. The 
eldest son, 

I. EWEN MACDONALD, became first of Vallay, was a 
fine Highland gentleman, a composer of Highland piobair- 
eachds, and an excellent performer on the national instru- 
ment, the great Highland bag-pipes (see p. 241.) He 
married Mary, daughter of the Rev. Lachlan Maclean of 
Coll. On the old house at Vallay, the initials of the pair 
were carved thus " E.M.D. & M.M.L. 1742." By this lady 
he had issue, 

II. WILLIAM MACDONAI.D, second of Vallay, who 
married his cousin, Mary, daughter of Alexander Mac- 
donald, first of Boisdale, with issue 

1. Alexander, his heir and successor. 

2. Ewen Macdonald of Griminish, who married Miss 
Bruce, a governess at Vallay, with issue Ewen ; William ; 
Harriet, who married Major Oakes, H.E.I.C.S., with issue ; 
and Mary, who married General Tod, H.E.I.C.S., with issue. 

3. Mary, who married the Rev. Allan Macqueen, minister 
of North Uist, with issue a son and daughter. The son 
was in the army, and died abroad. The daughter died 

4. Susan, who married the Rev. James Macqueen, also 
minister of North Uist, with issue (i) William, who became 
minister of the quod sacra Church of Trumisgarry, and 
married Miss Macleod, Feorleg, Isle of Skye, without issue ; 
(2) Alexander, an officer in the Macqueen East Indiaman. 
He died, unmarried, in England ; (3) Alice, who married 
Captain Alexander Maclean, Hosta, of the 79th Cameron 
Highlanders, with issue several sons and daughters. 

5. Margaret, who first married Captain MacKinnon, 
without issue. She married secondly, Captain Martin of 
the Merchant Service, with issue an only daughter, Mary, 
who still survives in North Uist. Captain Martin died 
while his daughter was yet an infant. 

6. Janet, who married John Macdonald, Malaglet, without 
issue ; and, 


7. Catherine, who died unmarried. 
William was succeeded by his eldest son, 

III. ALEXANDER MACDONALD, third of Vallay, a Major 
in the army, who married his cousin, Harriet, daughter of 
Colin Macdonald, second of Boisdale, with issue 

1. Alexander, his heir, who entered the Royal Navy. 

2. Margaret, who married Neil Maclean, C.E., Inverness, 
without issue. 

3. Mary, who died unmarried, at Inverness. 

4. Isabella, who married the Rev. Neil Maclean, Minister 
of Tiree, with issue two sons and four daughters (i) 
Donald, a Doctor of Medicine, who married Jane Cameron 
of Glen Nevis, without issue ; (2) Alexander, who went to 
Australia ; (3) Lilias Margaret, who married Mr. Mitchell 
of Woodlands, Stirling, and died, without issue, in 1877 ; 
(4) Mary Flora, who died young ; (5) Isabella, who married 
Mr. Cameron of the Glen Nevis family, now a widow, 
residing in the Isle of Skye, with issue two sons and five 
daughters. Her eldest daughter is married to William A. 
Macleod, Scorrybreck. (6) Harriet, residing at Bridge of 
Allan, unmarried. 

Alexander, who died in Skye, was succeeded by his son, 

IV. ALEXANDER MACDONALD, fourth of Vallay. He 
was born I4th of July, 1788; and married, on the 2nd 
Feby., 1826, Flora, daughter of Captain Duncan Macrae, 
of the Inverinate family, Royal York Rangers, with issue 

1. Alexander-Ewen, married with issue, in Australia. 

2. William-John, Senator for Victoria, Vancouvers Island ; 
married with issue three sons and three daughters. 

3. Duncan-Alexander-Macrae, unmarried, in Australia. 

4. Colin-Hector, married, in Australia, with issue. 

5. Duncan, unmarried, in Australia. 

6. Christina-Mary, who married the Rev. J. W. Tolmie, 
Minister of Contin, with issue four sons and four daughters. 

7. Harriet-Margaret, who married Alexander A. Gre- 
gory, Inverness, with issue four sons and four daughters. 

8. Mary-Isabella, who married the Rev. Kenneth A. Mac- 
kenzie, Minister of Kingussie, with issue two daughters. 


IT has been shown that the Macdonalds of Sleat (though 
the undoubted male representatives of John, last 
Lord of the Isles, as well as of Donald, first Earl 
of Ross of the name of Macdonald, eldest son of John, 
by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of King Robert II. 
of Scotland), are not and cannot be the chiefs by right 
of blood of the whole Clan Donald and male representa- 
tives of Somerled, Thane of Argyll, while any of the 
representatives of John, first Lord of the Isles, by his first 
marriage with Amie MacRuari remains. This may now be 
accepted as a settled point, and one on which all unbiassed 
authorities are agreed. 

It is, however, much more difficult to decide which of 
the other leading claimants are entitled to that high and 
distinguished honour. 

There is the further difficulty to dispose of as to who 
is the present representative of the Old Earls of Ross, 
which title was unquestionably possessed by the Lords of 
the Isles since the marriage of Donald of Harlaw, second 
Lord of the Isles, to Lady Mary Leslie, daughter of 
Euphemia, Countess of Ross. The Earldom of Ross being 
in favour of heirs-general a fact placed beyond question 
by the title having been first brought into the family of 
Macdonald by marriage with Lady Mary Leslie it is now 
almost, if not quite, impossible to decide who the present 
representative of the ancient but long forfeited Earldom 
of Ross is. To have enabled this representation to pass 
into the family of Sleat, it was necessary not only that all 


the direct male representatives of Alexander and John, 
third and last Lords of the Isles and Earls of Ross of the 
race of Macdonald, should have died out, but the female 
representatives also. This is by no means a settled point. 
Indeed, if Gregory and other leading authorities be correct 
in holding that Celestine of Lochalsh was a legitimate son 
of Alexander third Earl and eldest brother of John last 
Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, the representation of 
the Earldom must have passed into the family of Glengarry 
by the marriage of Margaret (eldest daughter of Alexander 
of Lochalsh and heiress to her brother, Sir Donald) to 
Alexander Macdonald, VI. of Glengarry ; the other sister 
Janet, having married Dingwall of Kildun. This is a point 
which we do not feel called upon to decide. It may, how- 
ever, be stated that the male representation of the old 
Earldom of Ross has been successfully claimed by Mr. 
Munro Ross of Pitcalnie, whose claim as heir-male has 
been sustained by the Court of Session and by the House 
of Lords. As already stated, however, the honours of the 
Earldom were not limited to the heirs-male ; and, in point 
of fact, they were carried originally by a female to the 
family of Macdonald. The representation has also been 
claimed by the Erasers of Philorth, progenitors of Lord 
Saltoun, one of whom married Joanna, sister of Euphemia 
Leslie, Countess of Ross. Several other claimants might 
be named, but those already mentioned as heirs-general 
and heirs-male must be disposed of before any claims by 
later offshots are debateable. 

It is necessary before proceeding further to refer to a 
claim made to the chiefship of the race of Somerled by 
the MacAlesters of Loup, a family of note in Argyllshire, 
now known as Somerville-MacAlesters of Loup and Ken- 
nox, the latter place having been acquired by marriage 
with an heiress, whose name of Somerville the MacAlesters 
have in consequence added to their own. They claim to 
be descended from Alexander, " eldest son of Angus Mor, 
Lord of the Isles and Kintyre A.D. 1284, and third in 
descent from Somerled, Thane of Argyll, the common 


ancestor of the Clan Donald and Clan Dugall ; and there- 
fore, according to the Highland principle of clanship, they 
possess that 'jus sanguinus,' of which no forfeiture could 
deprive them and are the representatives of the ancient 
Lords of the Isles, as heirs male of Donald, the grandson 
of Somerled, from whom came the Clan Donald." In 
point of fact, however, Alexander, the progenitor of the 
MacAlesters, was not the " eldest son of Angus Mor," but 
his younger brother, and uncle to " Angus Og " who fought 
with Bruce at the head of his clan at Bannockburn, and 
who, on the forfeiture of the MacAlesters for having taken 
the opposite side under Macdougall of Lorn, succeeded to 
the forfeited property, not as MacAIester's "elder brother," 
but as his nephew and chief of the clan, and as a reward in 
part for his loyal support of the saviour of his country, 
King Robert the Bruce. The MacAlesters have thus no 
valid claim to the chiefship of the great Clan Donald, but 
they are undoubtedly the senior cadets of the race. 

John, first Lord of the Isles, married, first [see p. 69], 
Amie, heiress of the MacRuaries of Garmoran and Bute, 
and by her had three sons (and a daughter, Mary, who 
married, first Hector Maclean of Duart, and secondly, 
Maclean of Coll). 

1. John, who died before his father, leaving one son, 
Angus, who died without issue. 

2. Godfrey of Uist and Garmoran, whose name appears 
occasionally throughout the earlier chapters of this work, 
though really very little is known of his history or that of 
his descendants ; for scarcely any authentic records remain 
of the period of Highland history in which they flourished. 
Godfrey (who was also called Lord of Lochaber) received a 
charter under the style of Lord of Garmoran in 1388, 
dated at his castle of Ellantirim. We have already seen 
[p. 74], that his son Alexander of Garmoran, described as 
as a leader of a thousand men, was beheaded at Inverness 
by order of King James during his visit to the Highland 
capital in 1427, when his whole possessions were forfeited 
to the crown. His only son, also named Alexander, died 



in 1460. Macvurich, who records his death, describes him, 
like his father, as Lord of Uist. The lands of Uist and 
Garmoran, however, were forfeited, and, as we have already 
seen, were granted by John, Earl of Ross, to his brother, 
Hugh of Slcat ; but the latter was kept out of possession by 
the Macdonalds of Clanranald, who, by precept, obtained a 
grant of the lands in Uist and Benbecula in the year 1505, 
[See p. 1 54]. " From this time," Gregory writes, " although 
there were several descendants of Godfrey still in existence, 
the tribe fell into decay." Skene says that while Godfrey 
appears to have for a time maintained his right to his 
mother's inheritance against the issue of the second 
marriage of his father, it " was soon extinguished by the 
failure of heirs-male ".* The ground is now so far clear as 
to enable us to deal with Reginald, third and only remain- 
ing son of John, first Lord of the Isles, by his first wife, 
Amie MacRuari of Garmoran, whose male issue, so far 
as can be traced, survives. We shall therefore designate 


Eighth chief of the race of Somerled, progenitor of the 
Macdonalds of Glengarry and of all the Macdonalds 
known as Clanranalds, or Clann Raonuil ; i.e., descendants 
of Ranald or Reginald. When the arrangement already 
described (pp. 56-58) was made on the marriage of the first 
Lord of the Isles with Margaret Stewart, Ranald received a 
large grant of lands, including the North Isles, Garmoran 
and other extensive possessions, to hold of his father John, 
Lord of the Isles, and his heirs of the second marriage, as 
a reward for falling in with the scheme, while his eldest 
brother, Godfrey, stoutly opposed it. This arrangement 
seemed more advantageous to Ranald as a younger son of 
the first marriage, the offspring of which had to fight for 
their possessions against the combined power of their 
father and of the ruling monarch in the interest of the 
sons of the second marriage. And Ranald proved himself 

* Celtic Scotland, vol. iii. , p. 295. 


afterwards a man of great integrity and honour as tutor 
or guardian to his younger brother Donald, second Lord of 
the Isles, during his minority. He took a leading part 
in the government of the Isles during the life of his father, 
and was left in charge of the Lordship after his father's 
death, until Donald, the eldest son by the second marriage, 
became of age, when Ranald delivered over to him the 
government of the Lordship in presence of the leading 
vassals, very much against the wishes of the common 
people of the Isles, who still continued to look upon 
Godfrey, Ranald's eldest brother, as the rightful heir and 
head of the family. 

We have now arrived at a stage where we can no longer 
avoid discussing the question of the chiefship of the whole 
clan. From what has been already said it must be clear 
to the impartial reader, that the chiefship by right of 
blood cannot be in the family of Sleat, while any legiti- 
mate male descendant of the issue of John, first Lord of 
the Isles, by his first wife, Amie MacRuari of Garmoran, 
survives. There remains, however, still staring us in the 
face, the other question, upon which so much ink and 
temper have been wasted. We sincerely wish we could 
pass it over, but that, in a work like this, is quite impos- 
sible. The question is a most difficult one. We have 
carefully perused the whole controversy which has taken 
place, sixty years ago, between the families of Glengarry 
and Clanranald, as well as the respective genealogies pub- 
lished by both claimants, and certain facts which have 
been proved appear to us, in the absence of further evi- 
dence, quite insurmountable. 

Skene, undoubtedly one of the best living authorities on 
such a question, devotes considerable space to the discus- 
sion of the point, and he deals with it so clearly and 
concisely that we shall quote him at length. We may, 
however, point out that Skene is occasionally found tripping 
and he does so in this very connection ; for we find him 
confusing the famous Donald Balloch of Isla, son and 
successor to John Mor Tanistear (second son of the first 


Lord of the Isles by Margaret Stewart), with Donald, first 
of the family of Glengarry. Discussing the question of 
the much contested chiefship of the race of Somerled and 
Conn, he sums up thus : " While it is fully admitted that 
the family of Sleat are the undoubted representatives of 
the last Lord of the Isles, yet 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 representa- 
tive of John, whose own right was undoubted. John of 
the Isles had, by 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 
unquestionably derive their origin. By the daughter of 
Robert II. John had four sons, Donald, Lord of the Isles, 
from whom came the Macdonaldsof Sleat; John Mor, from 
whom the Macdonalds of Kintyre ; Alaster, the progenitor 
of Keppoch ; and Angus. 

" In this question, therefore, there are involved two 
subordinate questions which have given rise to consider- 
able disputes. First, was Amy, 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 the 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 dispensation from the 
Pope in 1337 to John, son of Angus of the Isles, and Amy, 
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 
Scotiae genitum Angusium filium quondam Johannis filii 
mei et Donaldum quemdam alium filium meum naturalem '. 
John had by Amy three sons, John, Godfrey, and Ranald, 
and the distinction made in the above passage between 


John 'filiits mats' and Donald filius meus naturalis, 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 indepcndant of each 
other, it was effected in this manner. John received 
charters of certain of his lands containing a special destina- 
tion 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 was 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 
by the king. That a special destination was necessary to 
convey 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 universally acknowledged to 
be the feudal heir of the Lord of the Isles. This person, 
however, was his brother Godfrey, the eldest surviving son 
of the first marriage, for in a charter to the Abbey of 
InchaffVay, 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 any ground excuse his absence, we find among those 
who obeyed the summons, Alexander Macreury de Gar- 
moran. Macreury and Macgorry, or son of Godfrey, held 
the lordship of Garmoran in chief of the crown. We find, 
however, that the rest of Reginald's lands were equally 
held of this Alexander, for Reginald's charter included a 


considerable part of Lochaber, and in the year 1394 an 
indenture was entered into between the Earl of Moray and 
Alexander de Insulis dominus de Lochaber, for the pro- 
tection 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 Insul- 
arum by 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 policy 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 the issue of Godfrey in the 
person of his son Alexander, unquestionably devolved on 
the feudal representative of Reginald, the youngest son of 
that marriage. 

" Of the descent of the Clan Ranald there is no doubt 
whatever, nor has it ever been disputed that they derive 
their origin from this Reginald or Ranald, a son of John, 
Lord of the Isles, by Amy MacRory. Ranald obtained, 
as we have seen, from his father the lordship of Garmoran, 
which he held as vassal of his brother Godfrey, and these 
were the same territories which the Clan Ranald possessed, 
as appears from the Parliamentary Records in 1587, when 


mention is made of the ' Clan Ranald of Knoydart, Moy- 
dart, and Glengarry". There has, however, arisen consider- 
able doubt which of the various families descended from 
Ranald anciently possessed the chiefship, 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 Clan- 
ranald ' were not the ancient chiefs there can be no doubt, 
as it is now a matter of evidence that they 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 family of 
Moydart, and Angus, from whom came the family of 
Moror. That the descendants of Angus were the youngest 
branch, and could have no claim to the chiefship, has 
never been disputed, and the question accordingly lies 
between the descendants of Donald and Allan. The 
seniority of Donald, however, is distinctly proved by the 
fact that on the extinction of the family of Moror, the 
family of Moydart succeeded legally to that property ; 
consequently by the law of Scotland they must have been 
descended from a younger son than the family of Knoydart 
and Glengarry, and it follows of necessity that the latter 
family must have been that of the chief. 

" Donald had three sons, John, Alaster, and Angus. On 
the forfeiture of Alexander Macgorry of Garmoran in 
1427, that part of Lochaber possessed by him was granted 
to the Earl of Mar, 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 non-entries of Knoydart to Cameron since 
the decease of Umq bl - John MacRanald.'f- and this suffi- 
ciently 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 in- 
cluded in a crown charter to John, Lord of the Isles. The 
Lords of the Isles had invariably manifested the most 
inveterate hostility 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 patri- 
archal 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 South Moror, Arisaig, and many of the isles, were be- 
stowed 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 Lord 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 repre- 
sentative of the ancient chiefs was not in a situation to 

* Not only did the Chief of Clan Ranald hold these lands of the crown, as he 
had previously held them of Alexander MacGorry, but it actually appears that the 
Lord of the Isles was his vassal in some of them, for Alexander, Lord of the Isles, 
grants a charter to the ancestor of the Macneils, dated in 1427, of the Island of 
Barra, and of the lands of Boisdale in the Island of Uist, both of which islands 
are included in Reginald's charter, and one of which was, as we have seen, cer- 
tainly held in chief of the Crown by the heir of thejirst marriage. 

t That this John MacRanald was John, the eldest son of Donald, appears from 
two facts ; first, his lands adjoin those of Alaster, the second son, and are separated 
by them from those of the other branches of the clan. Second, on the failure of 
his descendants, the descendants of Alaster succeeded to them. 


offer any resistance. This was principally effected by 
John, surnamed Mudortach, a bastard son of the brother 
of the Laird of Moydart ; but the character of the usurpa- 
tion is sufficiently marked by the title of Captain of Clan 
Ranald, which alone he assumed, and which his descend- 
ants retained until the latter part of the last century, 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 respectively ' of Knoydart,' and ' of Glen- 
garry,' 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 maintained. 

"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 descend- 
ants of Donald is strongly evinced by the above fact of 
the junior branch acknowledging a chief during the exis- 
tence 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 conclud- 
ing that Donald, the progenitor of the family of Glengarry, 

19 A 


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 principally 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 pos- 
sessed that right of blood to the chiefship of which no 
usurpation, however successful, could deprive them. 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 representatives of Donald, the 
common ancestor of the clan ; and when the services 
rendered by the family to the house of Stuart were rewarded 
by a peerage from Charles II., Glengarry indicated his 
rights by assuming the title of Lord Macdonnell and 
Arros, which on the failure of male heirs of his body, did 
not descend to his successors, although his lands formed in 
consequence the barony of Macdonell."* 

Reginald married a daughter of Walter Stewart, Earl of 
Athol, brother of King Robert II., and by her had issue 

1. Donald, immediate progenitor of the family of Glen- 

2. Allan, first of the family of Clanranald, of whom 

3. John, known among the Highlanders as " Ian Dall," 
or Blind John, who possessed lands in the Island of Eigg, 
and from whom the Macdonalds of Bornish descended. 

4. Angus. 5. Dugall. 6. A daughter Mora. 

He is said to have died, a very old man, in 1419, when 
he was succeeded by his eldest son, 

* Highlanders of Scotland, vol. ii., pp. 96-106. 



Second of the line of Glengarry. Little or nothing is known 
of him, which may be accounted for from the fact stated by 
Gregory, namely, that on the death of Ranald, " his children, 
then young, were dispossessed by their uncle Godfrey, who 
assumed the title of Lord of Uist (which, with Garmoran, 
he actually possessed), but never questioned the claims of 
Donald to the Lordship of the Isles."* On the execution 
and forfeiture of Alexander, the son and successor of 
Godfrey, in 1427, at Inverness, the lands of Glengarry 
reverted to the crown, and were held as a royal forest, 
or appanage of Inverlochy Castle then a royal residence. 
At the same time the Macdonalds of Glengarry were 
crown tenants, and they ultimately succeeded in obtaining 
a crown charter to the lands of which they were dispos- 
sessed by their feudal superior, Godfrey of Garmoran. 

Donald married, first, Laleve, daughter of Macivor, and 
by her had one son, 

1. John, his successor. 

He married, secondly, "a daughter of Macimmie"t 
(Lovat), by whom he had 

2. Alastair ; and 3, Angus Og. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Third of Glengarry, who married a daughter of Macleod of 
Lewis, with issue a son, 


Fourth of Glengarry, from whom the family take their 
Gaelic patronymic of " Mac 'ic Alastair," and who is the 
first of the family of Glengarry whose name is found in the 
ublic re cords ; and that only as the grandfather of his 

* Highlands and Isles, p. 31. 

t MS. of 1430, printed in the Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis. 


grandson mentioned in a commission of Lieutenancy by 
the crown in favour of Colin, Earl of Argyll, making him 
" Locum tenentum omnium insularum tarn australium 
quam borealium," and of certain lands among others, 
" Alterius MOROR quam Alester Makcane MAKALESTER 
habet" dated 8th of March, 1516 ;* that is, Alastair, son of 
John, son of Alastair, the last named being our present 
subject. The Moror here named is North Moror. On the 
26th of February, 1517, he appears in an action in the Court 
of Session as " Alexander Jhone MACALISTERIS sone in 
GLENGARRY.-J- He is repeatedly mentioned later, as we 
shall see further on. 

He married the only daughter of Hector Maclean of 
Duart, by whom he had issue 

1. John, his heir. 

2. yEneas, of whom the family of Sithean. 

3. John " Odhar," who settled in Lochcarron, and of 
whom the Clann Ian Uidhir of that district, Strath- 
glass, and elsewhere in the North, some of whom have 
changed their names to MacNairs. Most of the Strath- 
glass Macdonalds emigrated to Canada, principally to 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Fifth of Glengarry, who married his cousin, a daughter of 
Donald Cameron of Lochiel, by a daughter of Hector 
Mor Maclean of Duart, with issue one son, who suc- 
ceeded as, 


Sixth of Glengarry, whom we find mentioned as " Allastyr 
Mac Ean Vic Allyster of Morvern and Glengarrie," in a 
bond of manrent to Colin, Earl of Argyll, the King's 

* Reg. Sec. Sig., Lib. 5, fo. 192. 
t Acts Dom. Con., Lib. 12, fol. 2 b. 


Lieutenant at the time over the district in which Glen- 
garry's property lay, dated 5th of February, 1519, with a 
Notarial Instrument thereon, dated 8th of August in the 
same year. Under date of 3Oth March, 1538, there is 
recorded in the Register of the Privy Council, vol. 26, No. 
426, a letter under the Privy Seal to " Alexander Mackane 
MacAlester of Glengarry," of the Slysmoyne of Glengarry 
and Moror, " wyt all malis, fermes, proffitis, and dewteis of 
ye saide lands wyt yare pertinents of all yeris and terms 
bigane yat ye samin hes been in our sovcranc lordis handis 
or his predecessoris by resoune of nonentres sen ye deceis 
of John MacAlastir, fader to ye saide Alexander, or his 
predecessoris." On the 6th of March in the same year 
there is a charter under the Great Seal in favour of 
" Alexander Mackane MacAlister et Margarete Ylis ejus 
spouse " in liferent ; " et Angusio MacAlister eorum filio et 
heredi apparent! " in fee, and his heirs male, of the lands of 
Glengarry and Moror, with the Castle, Fortalice, and 
Manor of Strome, half of Lochalsh, Lochbroom, &c., &c., 
proceeding on the resignation of Alexander and Margaret 
of Lochalsh. In the controversy between Glengarry and 
Clanranald about the chiefship of the clan, the Clanranald 
champion made strong aspersions on the character of this 
lady, whom he erroneously described as, and confused 
with, a daughter of Celestine of Lochalsh. For the charge 
there is not a vestige of foundation. She was a grand- 
daughter of Celestine, a daughter of his son and successor, 
Alexander, and sister and co-heiress of Sir Donald Gallda 
of Lochalsh, who died, without issue, in 1518, when she 
succeeded, as eldest daughter of Sir Alexander, and 
co-heiress of his only son, Sir Donald Gallda, to one-half 
of his estates. These she carried to her husband, Alex- 
ander of Glengarry, and in consequence, secured for him a 
position of great influence and power. 

On the 26th of February, 1515, Grant of Freuchy 
obtained a decree against Sir Donald Gallda of Lochalsh, 
Chisholm of Comar, Alexander John Ranaldsoris son in 
Glengarry, Donald Mac Angus More in Achadrom, and 


others, " for the wrongous and violent spoliation and 
takand of the fortalice of Urquhart, frae the said John the 
Grant, and for 2000 as the value thereof." 

He married, as already stated, Margaret de Insulis and 
Lochalsh, co-heiress of Sir Donald (Gallda) Macdonald of 
Lochalsh, and, according to the best authorities, lineal 
representative and heiress to the forfeited Earldom of Ross, 
with issue an only son, who succeeded as, 


Seventh of Glengarry. He has a charter under the Great 
Seal* confirming " Honorabili viro Angusio Mac Alester 
filio ac heredi apparent! quondam Alexandri Mackane de 
Glengarie suisque heredibus masculis de corpore, &c., 
omnes et singulas terras de Glengarie, necnon terras 
Drynathane insulum de Sleichmeine duodecim mercatus 
terrarum antiqui extentus de Morare duodecim mercatus 
terrarum antiqui extentus de Locheache, viz., Inchnarine, 
Andenarra, Sallachie, &c., &c. quatour mercatus terrarum 
de Lochcarron " &c., &c, which had been apprised from 
him by John Grant of Freuchy, dated iQth July, 1574. 
Complaint was made to the Privy Council by the widow 
of Robert Guidlett, a mariner in Kinghorn, that her "spous 
being at the fischeing the last yeir in the North His, at the 
loch callit Lochstrone, within the dominion of Anguss 
McAlexander of Glengarry, wes in the hinderend of harvist 

last bipast crewallie set upoun and slane be Panter 

and utheris his complices," all of whom were within the 
dominions of Angus, and were his tenants. Angus was 
ordained of his own consent to affix and hold courts as 
often as need be within his bounds and dominions in the 
west, and put the " committaris of the said cryme to the 
knawledge of ane assyiss of the merchandis and marynaris 
that first sail happin to arrive at Lochstrone or Lochcarron 
at the next fischeing," and he is to minister justice upon 

Reg. Sec. Sig., Lib. ii., fo. (a t. 


them, if found culpable or innocent, conform to the laws of 
the realm.* 

./Eneas married, first, Janet, only daughter of Hector Og 
Maclean of Duart, with issue an only son, 

1. Donald, his heir. 

He married, secondly, Margaret Macleod, daughter of 
Roderick Macleod, " King's Baron of Herries," with 

2. Margaret, who married one of the Cuthberts of 
Castlchill, Inverness, and became the progenitrix of the 
famous Colbert, Charles, Marques of Seignelay, Minister of 
Lewis XIV. of France, f 

He married, thirdly, Mary, daughter of Kenncth-na- 
Cuirc, X. of Kintail, with issue, a daughter, Elizabeth, who 
married John Roy Mackenzie, IV. of Gairloch, with issue 
Mary, his third wife, survived Angus, and married, as her 
second husband, Chisholm of Comar. 

He was succeeded by his only son, 


Eighth of Glengarry, who has a charter under the Great 
Seal as " Donaldo MacAngus MacAlister filio et heredi 
apparent! Angus! i MacAllcster de Glcngarrie et heredi- 
bus suis masculis de corpore suo legitime procreandis," 
&c. of the lands of Glengarry, " Drynathane, insula de 
Sleuchmeine," &c., proceeding upon the resignation of 
Angus, dated igth of July, 1574.* He was known among 
the Highlanders as Domlimdl Mac Aongkais mhic Alastair 
(Donald, son of Angus, son of Alastair), and styled "of 
Morar, Knoydart, and Glengarry ". He has a Special 
Retour before the Sheriff-Depute of the County of Inver- 
ness, by a Respectable Inquest, dated 5th November, 1584, 
in the following terms: "Qui Jurati Dicunt quod quondam 

* This Commission is dated " At Holyrood-house, i6th July, 1574," and is 
given at length, pp. loo-ioi, Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis. 

t Parliamentary Warrant for the Bore Brieve of Charles, Marques Seignelay, 

t Reg. Mag. Sig., Lib. 34, No. no. 


Margareta Ylis avia Donaldi MacAngus MacAlestcr de 
Glengarrie latqris presentium obiit ultimo restitus ct saisitus 
ut de feodo ad pacem Matris supremi Domini nostri de 
omnibus et singulis terris de dimidietate terrarum dc 
Achiult et dimidietate terrarum de Torrurdane cum pis- 
cariis, &c. Et quod dictus Donaldus de Glengarrie est 
Legitimus et Propinquior hares quondam Margarete Ylis 
avie sue, &c* 

He has a General Retour at Edinburgh, under date of 
27th April, 1629, before the Sheriff-Deputes of the county 
and a " distinguished " jury, among whom we find the 
names of the direct male ancestors of the chiefs of Sleat 
and of Clanranald of Castletirrim as " principal members," 
expressly swearing to the legitimacy of Celestine of the 
Isles and Lochalsh, and to the descent of Glengarry from 
him and from John, last Earl of Ross and Lord of the 
Isles, through this Donald, and, of course, through 
Margaret of the Isles and Lochalsh. Yet the modern 
representatives of Sleat and Clanranald of Moydart main- 
tained, sixty years ago, the very opposite to this, and would 
have us believe that their own ancestors, who lived at a time 
when they had far better means of knowing the facts than 
their modern representatives, committed perjury when 
their own interests were altogether in the opposite direc- 
tion against the establishment of Glengarry's claim to 
represent, through Margaret of the Isles and Celestine her 
grandfather, the Earls of Ross and Lords of the Isles. 
The finding of this distinguished jury and of the chiefs of 
Sleat and Clanranald in 1629, f is as follows: "Qui Jurati 
Dicunt quod quondam Celestine de Ylis de Lochelche 
Prater quondam Joannis Comitis de Ros Domini de Ylis 
Abavus Donaldi MacAngus de Glengarrie obiit, &c. Et 
quod dictus Donaldus MacAngus lator presentium est 
Legitimus et propinquior Haeres ejusdem quondam Celes- 

* Original in the Registers of Chancery. 

f- " Dominum Donaldum McDonald de Slait, Joannem McLaud de Dunny- 
vagane, Joannem McRanald de Yllantyrim," are the first three on the list of 


tint de Ylis dc Lochelche sui abavi."* We have already 
referred to the charge of licentiousness made by the Clan- 
ranald champion, in the controversy of sixty years ago, 
against this Margaret of the Isles. He has clearly con- 
fused her with her aunt, another Margaret of the Isles, 
a daughter of Cclcstine, who behaved so badly as to call 
at the time for the interposition of the crown. The above- 
quoted documents, however, conclusively prove to those 
who require proof that the progenitrix of Glengarry was 
quite a different person and could not be the Margaret of 
doubtful character who is admitted by all parties even 
by the champion of Clanranald to have been a daughter 
of Celestine, while the Margaret who married Glengarry 
was his grand-daughter. 

In " Also a Fiar Raonuillich's" third letter to the editor of 
the "Inverness Journal," dated 2/th May, 1818, in defence 
of Clanranald of Castletirrim, he says : " I shall refer to 
the Privy Seal Record, where, on the 8th of September, 
1507, there will be found a letter to the Earl of Huntly, 
stating that the king had given to Margaret, the sister of 
Alexander of the Isles of Lochguelch, Knight, certain 
lands during pleasure that Margaret had 'applyit and 
subjectit her pcrsone, lands, and gudes, quhether in lauch- 
ful marriage or otherwise, we know not, to Donald Mac 
Arlc MacLauchlane Dowe'. Now, the designation of 
Margaret in this deed points her out, beyond a doubt, to 
be Celcstinc's daughter and sister of Alexander, designated 
of Lochalsh." After quoting other deeds to the same effect, 
he adds " On perusing the above documents, it must strike 
every person, ist, that Margaret the sister of Alexander, was 
not married in September, 1 507, but rather seems to have 
lived in open adultery, so glaring as to call the particular 
attention of the crown ; and that this Margaret was after- 
wards Glengarry's wife cannot be doubted, when her desig- 
nation is attended to, which is 'sister of Alexander of the 
Isles of Lochguelch,' &c." It has been already proved 
that this woman was not aftenvards Glengarry's wife, but 

* Original in Registers of Chancery. 


her niece, a lady of the same name, was, and no reflection 
that we can trace was ever cast upon her character. In 
another letter the Castletirrim champion states that the 
lady " was the grand-neice of Celestine and the daughter 
of Angus, the bastard son of John, last Earl of Ross 
attainted, . . . and this fair lady appears, from a 
document dated 8th September, 1 507, by King James to 
the Earl of Huntly, ' to have subjected her person, land, 
and gudes, quhether in lauchful marriage or othenvayes 
we know not, to Donald Mack Arle Mack Lachlane 
Dowe '." From these two quotations it will be seen that 
the same writer makes her at one and the same time the 
daughter and grand-niece of Celestine of Lochalsh ; and 
this is but one specimen of many extraordinary feats 
which he performs throughout the bitter controversy in 
which he was so long engaged in the interest of Clanranald 
against Glengarry. 

There is a case recorded in Durie's Decisions, under 
date of 26th February, 1650 (Glengarry against Munro of 
Fowlis), and another dated 4th of February, 1531 (Glen- 
garry against Lord Lovat), where Glengarry's title, derived 
through Celestine of the Isles and Lochalsh, was sustained 
by the Court of Session expressly as heir to the Lords of 
the Isles, and the title to pursue in these two actions and 
sustained by the Court was a transumpt of three charters 
in favour of Celestine by his brother John, last Earl of 
Ross. In one of these charters he is called Carissiinns 
Prater, in the second Prater Carnalis, and in the third 
Prater Legitinnis Carnalis. We have already given Gre- 
gory's opinion of these terms (pp. 88-89), ar >d it is held by 
those who maintain Celestine's legitimacy that " in those 
days of Papal influence carnalis was contra-distinguished 
to spiritualis brother laymen and brother churchman." 
A strong point is made by the Glengarry champion of the 
General Retour already referred to, by a jury of which 
Macdonald of Sleat and Macdonald of Clanranald were 
principal members, and it is fairly argued that " If Celestine 
had been a bastard, he could not legally, or in any formal 


instrument, be designated as the brother of the Earl of 
Ross, being tlie character to be proved ; and as Earl John 
was attainted and his estate forfeited, no right personal 
vested in him could be carried by service or succession. 
It was otherwise with Celestine ; he possessed extensive 
estates, which, though violently usurped by others, were 
not legally forfeited, and nothing but the plea of pro- 
scription and taciturnity prevented the recovery of them, 
as appears from Lord Durie's collection of adjudged cases, 
who, sitting as a judge on the bench at a time not very 
distant from the period of Celestine's succession, could not 
be ignorant of the circumstances of the case." This is a 
legal deduction with which we do not feel competent to 
deal, and only state it for the consideration of those whose 
training fit them to decide it. 

There is an agreement entered into between Angus 
MacAlester of Glengarry and John Grant of Freuchy, 
dated at Elgin on the I7th of November, 1571, by which 
Glengarry binds and obliges himself to cause Donald 
MacAngus, his son and apparent heir, to solemnize and 
complete the bond of matrimony in face of holy kirk with 
Helen Grant, lawful daughter to the said John Grant of 
Freuchy, betwixt the date above named and the fast of 
Saint John the Baptist called Midsummer next immediately 
thereafter. At the same time he agrees to grant to the 
laird of Freuchy a bond of manrent. Donald MacAngus. 
however, failed to enter into the agreement made in his 
behalf, and he refused to marry Helen Grant The conse- 
quences proved serious to Glengarry. In 1 548 his lands had 
been apprised for satisfaction of a previous " spulzie," and 
sold to James Grant for the sum of .10,770 135. 4d., and, 
in 1554, Queen Mary granted to John Grant, Helen's 
father, and the son and heir of James Grant of Freuchy, 
"the relief of various lands, including Glengarrie, which 
belonged to him as heir, and the relief of which belonged 
to the Queen ".* The estates had not passed to Grant in 
virtue of the above-named apprising, but they were again 

Origines Parochiales, vol. ii., part i., p. 185. 


apprised in consequence of Donald's refusal to marry 
Freuchy's daughter. They are, however, re-granted by 
Grant to Glengarry by a charter, already quoted, and 
confirmed by the crown on the 8th of July, 1574. In the 
contract between himself and Grant, Glengarry, in a bond 
of manrent, which he agreed to give, makes an exception 
in favour "of ye auctoritie of our soverane and his Chief 
of Clanranald only ". This is held by Clanranald of 
Moydart as an acknowledgment by Glengarry of the 
Captain of Clanranald as his chief. It is impossible to 
argue this away satisfactorily in the manner attempted 
by the Glengarry champion in the controversy already 
referred to. John Moydartach was then at the zenith of 
his power, and was de facto the most powerful and dis- 
tinguished warrior of the whole Clandonald. Glengarry's 
power was on the wane, and at this period very limited in 
comparison with that of his namesake of Clanranald. The 
necessities of his position might therefore have compelled 
him as at a later period the same cause obliged Cluny 
Macpherson to acknowledge Mackintosh to own the 
most distinguished and powerful of his contemporary 
Macdonald leaders, the Captain of Clanranald, as his chief. 
In these circumstances, and knowing the man with whom 
he had to deal, we are not disposed to attach much weight 
to this one isolated instance of alleged acknowledgment 
on the part of Glengarry ; and especially when it is made 
in favour of one who could not possibly be chief even of 
the Clanranalds of Castletirrim, inasmuch as he was 
beyond question of illegitimate birth. This point is at 
once disposed of by an entry in the original Record of the 
Privy Seal in the following terms : 

" Preceptum Legitimationis Johannis MacAlestar de Castdtirrim 
bastardi filii naturalis quondam Alexandri MacAlane de Casteltir- 
rim in commimi forma etc. Apud Striveling xv Januarrii anno 
j m if xxxi (1531). Per Signetum."* 

On the margin is an entry " x* " showing that the usual 
fee of ten shillings had been paid by the grantee, and it is 

* Reg. Sec. Sig. lib. 9, fo. 72 b. 


clear from the docquet, " Per Signetum," that it passed the 
Signet as well as the Privy Seal. 

The reign of this Glengarry was an exceedingly turbulent 
one. From 1580 to 1603 incessant feuds were carried on 
between the family and the Mackenzies, with the usual 
depredations and slaughters on both sides. These originally 
arose out of disputes between the two families regarding 
Strome Castle and the other property in Lochcarron and 
Lochalsh brought to the family of Glengarry by the mar- 
riage of Alexander, sixth baron, to Margaret of Lochalsh 
and the Isles. These lands adjoined those of the Mac- 
kenzies in Kintail, Lochalsh, and Lochcarron, and in the 
then state of society, and the feelings of jealousy which 
almost invariably existed between the clans, it was easy to 
find means of disagreements, heated disputes, and quarrels. 
Angus Og of Glengarry, a desperate and brave warrior, 
made numerous incursions into the country of the Mac- 
kenzies, committing, with his followers, wholesale outrages 
and murders, which were in their turn revenged by the 
Kintail men. 

The following account of these feuds is founded on 
old MSS. and the public records. Glengarry and his 
followers " sorned " on Mackenzie's tenants, not only in 
those districts in the immediate vicinity of his own pro- 
perty, but also, during their raids from Glengarry, on 
the outskirts of Kintail, and thus Mackenzie's dependants 
were continually harrassed by Glengarry's cruelty and ill- 
usage. His own tenants in Lochalsh and Lochcarron fared 
little better, particularly the Mathesons in the former, and 
the Clann Ian Uidhir in the latter originally the possessors 
of Glengarry's lands in the district. These tribes, finding 
themselves in such miserable slavery, though they regularly 
paid their rents and other dues, and seeing how kindly 
Mackenzie used the neighbouring tenants, envied their 
more comfortable state and " abhorred Glengarry's rascality, 
who would lie in their houses (yea, force their women and 
daughters) so long as there was any good to be given ) 
which made them keep better amity and correspondence 


with Mackenzie and his tenants than with their own master 
and his followers. This may partly teach how superiors 
ought always to govern and oversee their tenantry and 
followers, especially in the Highlands, who are ordinarily 
made up of several clans, and will not readily underlie such 
slavery as the Incountry Commons will do." 

The first serious outbreak between the Glengarry Mac- 
donalds and the Mackenzies originated thus : One Duncan 
Mac Ian Uidhir Mhic Dhonnachaidh, known as " a very 
honest gentleman," who, in his early days, lived under Glen- 
garry, and was a very good deerstalker and an excellent 
shot, often resorted to the forest of Glasletter, then the pro- 
perty of the Mackenzies of Gairloch, where he killed many 
of the deer. Some time afterwards, Duncan was, in con- 
sequence of certain troubles in his own country, obliged to 
leave it, and he, with all his family and goods, took up his 
quarters in Glen Affric, close to the forest. Soon after, he 
went, accompanied by a friend, to the nearest hill, and com- 
menced his favourite pursuit of deerstalking. Mackenzie's 
forester perceiving him, and knowing him as an old poacher, 
cautiously walked up to him, came upon him unawares 
and demanded that he should at once surrender himself and 
his arms. Duncan, finding that Gairloch's forester was 
accompanied by only one gillie, " thought it an irrecover- 
able affront that he and his man should so yield, and refused 
to do so on any terms, whereupon the forester being ill-set, 
and remembering former abuses in their passages," he and his 
companion instantly killed the poachers, and buried them 
in the hill. Fionnla Dubh Mac Dhomh'uill Mhoir, and 
Donald Mac Ian Leith, a native of Gairloch, were suspected 
of the crime, but it was never proved against them, though 
they were both repeatedly put on their trial by the barons 
of Kintail and Gairloch. 

About two years after the deed was committed, Duncan's 
bones were discovered by one of his friends who continued 
most diligently to search for him. The Macdonalds always 
suspected foul play, and this being now placed beyond 
question by the discovery of the victims, a party of them 


started, determined to revenge the death of their clansmen; 
and, arriving at Inchlochell, in Glenstrathfarrar, then the 
property of Rory Mor of Redcastle, they found Duncan 
Mac Ian Mhic Dhomh'uill Mhoir.a brother of the suspected 
Finlay Dubh, without any fear of approaching danger, 
busily engaged ploughing his patch of land, whom they at 
once attacked and killed. The celebrated Rory Mor, 
hearing of the murder of his tenant, at once despatched a 
messenger to Glengarry to demand redress aud the punish- 
ment of the assassins, but Glengarry refused. Rory 
determined to have satisfaction, and resolved, against the 
counsel of his friends, to have retribution for this and 
previous injuries as best he could. Having thus determined, 
he immedietely sent for his trusted friend, Dugall Mac- 
kenzie of Applecross, to consult with him as to the best 
mode of procedure to ensure success. 

Macdonald at the time lived in the Castle of Strome, 
Lochcarron, and, after consultation, the two Mackenzies 
resolved to use every means in their power to capture him, 
or some of his nearest relatives. For this purpose Dugall 
suggested a plan by which he would, he thought, induce the 
unsuspecting Glengarry to meet him on a certain day at 
Kishorn. Rory Mor, to avoid any suspicion, would start at 
once for Lochbroom, under cloak of attending to his in- 
terests there ; and if Glengarry agreed to meet Dugall at 
Kishorn, he would immediately send notice of the day to 
Rory. No sooner had Dugall arrived at home than he 
despatched a messenger to Glengarry to inform him that 
he had matters of great importance to communicate to him, 
and that he wished, for that purpose, to meet him on any 
day which he might deem suitable. 

Day and place were soon arranged, and Dugall at 
once sent a messenger, as arranged, with full particulars of 
the proposed meeting to Rory Mor, who instantly ga- 
thered his friends, the Clann Allan, and marched along with 
them to Lochcarron. On his arrival, he had a meeting 
with Donald Mac Ian Mhic Ian Uidhir, and Angus Mac 
Eachainn, both of the Clann Ian Uidhir, and closely allied 


to Glengarry by blood and marriage, and living on his lands ; 
" Yet notwithstanding this alliance, they, fearing his, and 
his rascality's further oppression, were content to join Rory 
in the plot ". The appointed day having arrived, Glengarry 
and his lady (a daughter of the Captain of Clan Ranald, he 
having previously, it is said, sent away the daughter of 
the laird of Grant) came by sea to Kishorn. He and Dugall 
Mackenzie having conferred together for a considerable time 
discussing matters of importance to each other as neigh- 
bours, Glengarry took his leave, but while being convoyed 
to his boat, Dugall suggested the impropriety of his going 
home by sea in such a clumsy boat, when he had only a 
distance of two miles to walk, and if he did not suspect 
his own inability to make the lady comfortable for the 
night, he would be glad to provide for her and see her home 
safely next morning. Macdonald declined the proffered 
hospitality to his lady ; sent her home by the boat, accom- 
panied by four of his followers, and told Dugall that he would 
not endanger the boat by overloading, but that he and the 
remainder of his gentlemen and followers would go home 
on foot. 

Rory Mor had meanwhile placed his men in ambush in 
a place called Glaic nan Gillean. Glengarry and his train, 
on their way to Strome Castle, came upon them without the 
slighest suspicion, when they were suddenly surrounded 
by Rory's followers, and called upon to surrender. Seeing 
this, one of the Macdonalds shot an arrow at Rory, which 
fixed in the fringe of his plaid, when his followers, thinking 
their leader had been mortally wounded, furiously attacked 
the Macdonalds ; but Rory commanded his friends, under 
pain of death, to save Glengarry's life, who, seeing he had 
no chance of escape, and hearing Rory's orders to his men, 
threw away his sword, and ran into Rory's arms, begging 
that his life might be spared. This was at once granted to 
him, but not a single one of his men escaped from the in- 
furiated followers of Rory Mor, who started the same night, 
taking Glengarry along with him, to Lochbroom. 

Even this did not satisfy the cruel disposition of Donald 


Mac Ian Mhic Ian Uidhir and Angus Mac Eachainn, who 
had an old grudge against their chief, Glengarry, his father 
having some time previously evicted their father from a 
davoch of land in Attadale, Lochcarron, to which they 
claimed a right. They, under silence of night, gathered 
all the Clann Ian Uidhir, and proceeded to Arinaskaig and 
Dalmartin, where lived at the time three uncles of Glen- 
garry Gorrie, Rory, and Ronald whom they, with all 
their retainers, killed on the spot. "This murder was un- 
doubtedly unknown to Rory or any of the Mackenzies, 
though alleged otherwise ; for as soon as his nephew, Colin 
of Kintail, and his friends heard of this accident, they were 
much concerned, and would have him (Rory) set Glengarry 
at liberty ; but all their persuasions would not do till he 
was secured of him by writ and oath, that he and his would 
never pursue this accident either legally or unlegally, and 
which, as was said, he never intended to do, till seventeen 
years thereafter, when, in 1 597, the children of these three 
uncles of Glengarry arrived at manhood," determined, (as 
will be seen hereafter), to revenge their father's death.* 

Gregory, however, says (p. 219) that after his liberation 
Glengarry complained to the Privy Council, who, investi- 
gating the matter; caused the Castle of Strome which Mac- 
donald yielded to Mackenzie as one of the conditions of his 
release, to be placed under the temporary custody of the 
Earl of Argyll ; and Mackenzie of Kintail was detained at 
Edinburgh, in what was called open ward, to answer such 
charges as might be brought against him. This is con- 
firmed by the Records of the Privy Council. In 1586, King 
James VI. granted a remission to "Colin M'Kainzieof Kin- 
taill, and Rodoric M'Kainzie of Auchterfailie (Redcastle 
and Artafeelie), his brother, for being art and part in the 
cruel murder of Rodoric M'Allester in Stroll ; Gorie M'Al- 
lester, his brother, in Stromcraig; Ronnald M'Gorie, the son 
of the latter ; John Roy M'Allane v' Allester, in Pitnean ; 
John Dow M'Allane v' Allester, in Kirktoun of Lochcarroun; 
Alexander M'Allanroy, servitor of the deceased Rodoric ; 

* Ancient and Ardintoul MSS. 
2O A 


Sir John Monro in Lochbrume ; John Monro, his son ; 
John Monro Hucheoun, and the rest of their accomplices, 
under silence of night, upon the lands of Ardmanichtyke, 
Dalmartene, Kirktoun of Lochcarroun, Blahat, and other 
parts within the baronies of Lochcarroun, Lochbrume, Ros, 
and Kessane, in the Sheriffdom of Innerness," and for all 
other past crimes. 

In 1597, Alexander MacGorrie and Ranald MacRory, 
sons of Glengarry's uncles murdered in Lochcarron in 1580, 
having arrived at maturity, and being brave and intrepid 
fellows, determined to revenge upon Mackenzie the death 
of their parents. With this object they went to Applecross, 
where lived one of the murderers, John Og, son of Angus 
MacEachainn, surrounded his house, and set fire to it, 
burning to death himself and his whole family. Kintail 
sought redress from Glengarry, who, while he did not 
absolutely refuse, did not grant it, or punish the wrong- 
doers ; and encouraged by Glengarry's son, Angus, who 
had now attained his majority, the cousins, taking ad- 
vantage of Mackenzie's absence, who had gone on a visit to 
France, continued their depredations and insolence wher- 
ever they found opportunity. Besides, they made a com- 
plaint against him to the Privy Council, whereupon he was 
charged at the pier of Leith to appear before the Council 
on an appointed day under pain of forfeiture. In this 
emergency, Mr. John Mackenzie, minister of Dingwall, 
went privately to France in search of his chief, whom he found 
and brought back in the most secret manner to Edinburgh, 
fortunately in time to present himself next day before 
the Council, in terms of the summons at Glengarry's in- 
stance ; and, after consulting his legal adviser and other 
friends, he appeared quite unexpectedly before their Lord- 

Meantime, while the gentlemen were on their way from 
France, Alexander MacGorrie and Alexander MacRory 
killed in his bed Donald Mackenneth Mhic Alastair, a gen- 
tleman of the family of Davochmaluag, who lived at 
Kishorn. The shirt, covered with his blood, had been sent 


to Edinburgh to await Mackenzie's arrival, who, the same 
day presented it before the Privy Council, as evidence of 
the foul crime committed by his accusers. Glengarry was 
quite unable to prove anything material against Kintail or 
his followers ; but, on the contrary, the Rev. John Mac- 
kenzie of Dingwall charged Glengarry with being instru- 
mental in the murder of John Og and his family at Apple- 
cross, as also in that of Donald Mackenzie of Davochmaluag, 
and undertook not only to prove this, but also that he was 
a sorner, an oppressor of his own and of his neighbours' 
tenants, an idolater, who had a man in Lochbroom mak- 
ing images, in testimony of which he carried south the 
image of St. Coan, which Glengarry worshipped, called in 
Kelinburgh Glengarry's God, and which was, by public order, 
burnt at the Town Cross ; that Glengarry was a man who 
lived in constant adultery, that he had put away the laird 
of Grant's daughter ; whereupon Glengarry was summoned 
to appear next day before the Council, and to lodge 
defences. He naturally became alarmed, and fearing 
the worst, fled from the city during the night, and gave up 
further legal proceedings against Mackenzie. Being after- 
wards repeatedly summoned, and failing to put in an 
appearance, most of the charges were found proven against 
him ; and in 1602,* he was declared outlaw and rebel ; a 
commission of fire and sword was granted to Mackenzie 
against Glengarry and all his followers, with a decree of 
ransom for the loss of those who were burnt and plundered 
by him, and for Kintail's charges and expenses, making 
altogether a very large sum. But while these legal questions 
were being arranged, Angus, younger of Glengarry, who 
was of a restless, daring disposition, went with some of his 
followers under silence of night to Kintail, burnt the town- 
ship of Cro, killed and burnt several men, women, and 
children, and carried away a large spoil. 

Mackenzie, decided to requite the quarrel by at once 

* Record of Privy Council, gth September, 1602 ; Sir Robert Gordon's Earl- 
dom of Sutherland, p. 248 ; Letterfearn, Ardintoul, and other MS. Histories of the 


executing his commission against Glengarry, and immedi- 
ately set out in pursuit, leaving a sufficient number of men 
at home to secure the safety of his property. He took 
with him a force of seventeen hundred men, at the 
same time taking three hundred cows from his farm 
of Strathbraan to maintain his followers. Ross of Balna- 
gowan sent a party of a hundred and eighty men, under 
command of Alexander Ross of Invercharron, to aid his 
neighbour of Kintail, while John Gordon of Embo com- 
manded a hundred and twenty men sent to his aid by the 
Earl of Sutherland, in virtue of the long standing bond of 
manrent between the two families ; but, according to our 
authority, Sir John "retired at Monar, growing faint-hearted 
before he saw the enemie ". Andrew Munro of Novar also 
accompanied Kintail on this expedition. The Macdonalds> 
hearing of Mackenzie's approach, drove all their cattle to 
Morar, where they gathered in strong force to guard them. 
Kintail, learning this, marched straight where they were ; 
harried and wasted all the country through which he had 
to pass ; defeated and routed the Macdonalds, and drove 
into Kintail the largest booty ever heard of in the High- 
lands of Scotland, " both of cows, horses, small bestial, 
duin-uasals, and plenishing, which he most generously 
distributed amongst his soldiers, and especially amongst 
such strangers as were with him, so that John Gordon of 
Embo was at his repentance for his return ". 

Before starting from home on this expedition, Kintail 
drove every one of Glengarry's followers out of their hold- 
ings in Lochalsh and Lochcarron, except a few of the 
" Mathewsons and the Clann Ian Uidhir," and any others 
who promised to submit to him and to prove their sincerity 
by " imbrowing their hands in the enemy's blood ". The 
Castle of Strome, however, still continued in possession of 
the Macdonalds. 

Mackenzie, after his return home, had not well dissolved 
his camp when Alexander MacGorrie and Ranald MacRory 
made an incursion to the district of Kenlochewe, and there 
meeting some women and children who had fled from Loch- 


carron with their cattle, he attacked them unexpectedly, 
killed many of the defenceless women, all the male children, 
killed and took away many of the cattle, and " houghed " 
all they were not able to carry along with them. 

In the following autumn, MacGorrie made a voyage to 
Applecross in a great galley, contrary to the advice of all 
his friends, who looked upon that place as a sanctuary 
which all Highlanders had hitherto respected, it being the 
property of the Church. Notwithstanding that many took 
refuge in it in the past, he was the first man who ever 
pursued a fugitive to the place, " but," says our authority, 
" it fared no better with him or he rested, but he being 
informed that some Kintail men, whom he thought no sin 
to kill anywhere," had taken refuge there with their cattle, 
he determined to kill them, but on his arrival he found 
only two poor fellows, tending their cows. These he 
murdered, slaughtered all the cows, and took away as many 
of them as his boat would carry. 

A few days after this Glengarry combined with the 
Macdonalds of Moydart, the Clann Ian Uidhir, and several 
others of the Macdonalds, who gathered together amongst 
them thirty-seven birlinns with the intention of sailing to 
Lochbroom, and, on their return, to burn and harry the 
whole of Mackenzie's territories on the west coast. Coming 
to an arm of the sea on the east side of Kyleakin, called 
Loch na Beist, opposite Lochalsh, they sent Alexander 
MacGorrie forward with eighty men in a large galley to 
examine the coast in advance of the main body. They 
first landed in Applecross, in the same spot where Mac- 
Gorrie had previously killed the two Kintail men. Kintail 
was at the time on a visit to Mackenzie of Gairloch, and 
hearing of Glengarry's approach and the object of his visit. 
he ordered all his coasts to be placed in readiness, and sent 
Alexander Mackenzie of Achilty with sixteen men and 
eight oarsmen, in an eight oared galley belonging to and in 
charge of John Tolmach Macleod, to watch the enemy and 
examine the coast as far as Kylerhea On their way south 
they landed by the merest chance at Applecross, on the 


north side of the point where MacGorrie landed. Here they 
noticed a woman gathering shellfish on the shore, and who 
no sooner saw them than she came and informed them that 
a great galley had landed in the morning on the other side 
of the promontory. They at once suspected it to be an 
advanced scout of the enemy, and, ordering their boat 
round the point, in charge of the oarsmen, they took the 
shortest cut across the neck of land, and, when half way 
over, they met one of Macdonald's sentries lying sound 
asleep on the ground. He was soon sent to his long rest ; 
and the Mackenzies, blowing up a set of bagpipes found 
lying beside him, rushed towards the Macdonalds, who, 
suddenly surprised and alarmed by the sound of the bag- 
pipes, and thinking a strong force was falling down upon 
them, fled to their boat, except MacGorrie, who, when he 
left it, swore a great oath that he would never return with 
his back to the enemy ; but finding it impossible single- 
handed to resist them, he retired a little, closely followed 
by the Mackenzies, who furiously attacked him. He was 
now forced to draw aside to a rock, against which he placed 
his back, and fought right manfully, defending himself with 
extraordinary intrepidity, receiving the enemy's arrows in 
his targe. He was ultimately wounded by an arrow which 
struck him under the belt, yet no one dared to approach 
him ; but John Dubh MacChoinnich Mhic Mhurchaidh 
noticing his amazing agility, seeing his party had arrived 
with the boat, and fearing they would lose Glengarry's 
galley unless they at once pursued it, went round to the 
back of the rock against which the brave Macdonald stood, 
carrying a great boulder, which he dropped straight on to 
MacGorrie's head, instantly killing him. Thus died the 
most skilful and best chieftain had he possessed equal 
wisdom and discretion then alive among the Macdonalds 
of Glengarry. 

The Mackenzies immediately took to their boat, pursuing 
Macdonald's galley to Loch na Beist, where, noticing the 
enemy's whole fleet coming out against them, John Tolmach 
recommended them to put out to sea ; but finding the fleet 


gaining upon them, they decided to land in Applecross, 
where they were nearly overtaken by the enemy. They 
were obliged to leave their boat and run for their lives, hotly 
pursued by the Macdonalds ; and were it not that one of 
Mackenzie's men John Mac Rory Mhic Mhurchaidh Mat- 
thewson was so well acquainted with the ground, and led 
them to a ford on the river between two rocks, which the 
Macdonald's missed, and the night coming on, they would 
have been quite unable to escape. The Macdonalds re- 
traced their steps to their boats, and on the way discovered 
the body of Alexander MacGorrie, whose death " put their 
boasting to mourning," and conceiving his fate ominous of 
additional misfortunes, they, carrying him along with them, 
prudently returned home, and disbanded all their followers. 
The Mackenzies soon arrived at Gairloch's house in Loch 
Maree, and gave a full account of their expedition, where- 
upon Kintail immediately decided upon taking further 
active measures against the Macdonalds. In the meantime 
he was assured that they had gone to their own country. 
He soon returned home, and found that the people of 
Kintail and Glengarry, tiring of incessant slaughters and 
mutual injuries, agreed, in his absence, in the month of 
May, to cease hostilities until the following Lammas. Of 
this agreement Kintail knew nothing ; and young Glen- 
garry, against the earnest solicitations of his father, who 
became a party to the agreement between his people and 
those of Kintail, started with a strong force to Glenshiel 
and Letterfearn, while Allan Macdonald of Lundy with 
another party went to Glenelchaig ; harried those places, 
took away a large number of cattle ; killed some of the 
aged men ; several women, and all the male children. 
They found none of the principal and able-bodied men 
(who had withdrawn some distance that they might, with 
greater advantage, gather together in a body and defend 
themselves) except Duncan Maclan Mhic Ghillechallum in 
Killichirtorn, whom the Macdonalds apprehended, and 
would have killed, had not one of them, formerly his 
friend and acquaintance, prevailed upon young Glengarry 


to save his life, and send him to the Castle of Strome, 
where he still had a garrison, rather than kill him. 

The successful result of this expedition encouraged 
Angus so much that he began to think fortune had at last 
turned in his favour, and he set out and called personally 
upon all the chiefs and leaders of the various branches of 
the Macdonalds throughout the west, soliciting their assist- 
ance against the Mackenzies, which they all agreed to give 
in the ensuing spring. 

This came to Mackenzie's knowledge. He was at the 
time residing in Islandonain Castle, and, fearing the con- 
sequences of such a powerful combination against him, he 
went privately to Mull by sea to consult his brother-in-law, 
Maclean of Duart, to whom he told that he had a com- 
mission of fire and sword against " the rebels of Glengarry 
and such as would rise in arms to assist them, and being 
informed that the Macdonalds near him (Maclean) had 
combined to join them, and to put him to further trouble, 
that, therefore, he would not only, as a good subject but as 
his fast friend, divert these whenever they should rise in 
arms against him ".* Maclean undertook to prevent the 
assistance of the Macdonalds of Isla, Glencoe, and Ardna- 
murchan, by, if necessary, invading their territories, and 
thus compelling them to protect their own interests at 
home. It appears that old Glengarry was still anxious to 
arrange a permanent peace with Mackenzie ; but young 
Angus, restless and turbulent as ever, would not hear of 
any peaceful settlement, and determined to start at once 
upon an expedition, from which his father told him, at the 
time, he had little hopes of his ever returning alive a fore- 
cast which turned out only too true. 

Angus, taking advantage of Mackenzie's absence in 
Mull, gathered, in the latter end of November, as secretly 
as he could, all the boats and great galleys within his 
reach, and, with this large fleet, loaded with his followers, 
passed through the Kyles under silence of night ; and, 
coming to Lochcarron, he sent his followers ashore in the 

* Ardintoul MS. 


twilight. The inhabitants perceiving them, escaped to the 
hills, but the Macdonalds slaughtered the aged men who 
could not escape, and many of the women and children ; 
seized all the cattle, and drove them to the Island of Slum- 
bay, where their boats lay, which they filled with the car- 
cases. Before, however, they had fully loaded, the alarm 
having gone through the districts of Lochalsh and Kintail, 
some of the natives were seen coming in the direction of 
Lochcarron. The Macdonalds deemed it prudent to 
remain no longer, and set out to sea pursued by a shower 
of arrows by way of a farewell, which, however, had but 
very little effect, as they were already out of range. 

The Kintail men, by the shortest route, now returned to 
Islandonain, sending twelve of the swiftest of their number 
across country to Inverinate, where lay, newly built, a 
twelve-oared galley, which had never been to sea, belonging 
to Gillecriost MacDhonnachaidh, one of Inverinate 's tenants. 
These horoes made such rapid progress that they were back 
at the castle with the boat before many of their companions 
arrived from Lochcarron. During the night they set to 
work, superintended and encouraged by Mackenzie's lady 
in person, to make arrangements for going to meet the 
enemy. The best men were quickly picked out. The lady 
supplied them with all the materials and necessaries within 
her reach, handed them the lead and powder with her own 
hands, and gave them two small pieces of brass ordnance. 
She ordered Duncan MacGillechriost, a powerful hand- 
some fellow, to take command of the galley in his father's 
absence, and in eloquent terms charged them all with the 
honour of her house and her own protection in her husband's 
absence. This was hardly necessary, for the Kintail men 
had not yet forgotten the breach of faith committed by 
Macdonald regarding the recent agreement to cease 
hostilities for a stated time, and other recent sores. Her 
ladyship wishing them God-speed, they started on their 
way rejoicing, and in the best of spirits. She mounted the 
castle walls, and stood there encouraging them until, by 
the darkness of the night, she could no longer see them. 



On their way towards Kylerhea they met a boat from 
Lochalsh sent out to inform them of the arrival of the 
Macdonalds at Kyleakin. Learning this, they cautiously 
kept their course close to the south side of the loch. It 
was a calm moonlight night, with occasional slight showers 
of snow. The tide had already began to flow, and, judging 
that the Macdonalds would wait the next turning of the 
tide, to enable them to get through Kylerhea, the Kintail 
men, longing for their prey, resolved to advance and meet 
the enemy. They had not proceeded far, rowing very 
gently, after placing seaweed in the rowlocks so as not to 
make a noise, when they noticed a boat rowing at the 
hardest and coming in their direction ; but from its small 
size they thought it must have been sent by the Mac- 
donalds in advance to test the passage of Kylerhea. They 
therefore allowed it to pass unmolested, and proceeded 
northward, looking for Macdonald's own galley. When 
they neared the Cailleach, a low rock midway between 
both Kyles, it was seen in the distance covered with snow. 
The night also favoured them, the sea, calm, appearing 
black and mournful to the enemy. Here they met the first 
galley, and drawing up near it, they soon discovered it to be 
no other than Macdonald's own great galley, some distance 
ahead of the rest of the fleet. Macdonald, as soon as he 
noticed them, called out "Who is there"? twice in succes- 
sion, but received no answer, and finding the Kintail men 
drawing nearer he called out the third time, when, in reply, 
he received a full broadside from Mackenzie's cannon, which 
disabled his galley and threw her on the Cailleach Rock. 
The men on board Macdonald's galley thought they had 
been driven on shore, and flocked to the fore part of the 
boat, striving to escape, thus capsizing and filling the galley. 
Discovering their position, and seeing a long stretch of sea 
lying between them and the mainland, they became quite 
confused, and were completely at the mercy of their enemies, 
who sent some of their men ashore to despatch any of the 
poor wretches who might swim to land, while others re- 
mained in the boat killing or drowning the Macdonalds. 


Such of them as managed to reach the shore were killed or 
drowned by those of the Kintail men who went ashore, not 
a soul out of the sixty men on board the galley having 
managed to escape, except Angus Macdonald himself, still 
breathing, though he had been wounded twice in the head 
and once in the body. He was yet alive when they took 
him aboard their galley, but he died before the morning. 
Hearing the uproar, several of the Lochalsh people went 
out with all speed in two small boats, under the command 
of Dugall MacMhurchaidh Matthewson, to take part in the 
fray ; but by the time they arrived few of Macdonald's fol- 
lowers were alive. Thus ended the career of Angus, younger 
of Glengarry, a warrior to whom his followers looked up, 
and whom they justly regarded as a bold and intrepid 
leader, though greatly deficient in prudence and strategy. 

The remainder of Macdonald's fleet, to the number of 
twenty-one, following behind his own galley, having heard 
the uproar, returned to Kyleakin in such terror and con- 
fusion that each thought his nearest neighbour was pursuing 
him. Landing in Strathardale, they left their boats " and 
their ill-cooked beef to these hungry gentlemen," and before 
they slept they arrived in Sleat, from whence they were sent 
across to the mainland in the small boats of the laird. 

The great concern and anxiety of her ladyship of Islan- 
donain can be easily conceived, for all that she had yet 
learnt was the simple fact that an engagement of some kind 
had taken place, and this she only knew from having heard 
the sound of cannon during the night. Early in the morning 
she noticed her protectors returning with their birlinn, ac- 
companied by another great galley. This brightened her 
hopes, and going down to the shore to meet them, she 
heartily saluted them, and asked if all had gone well with 
them. " Yea, Madam," answered their leader, Duncan 
MacGillechriost, " we have brought you a new guest, with- 
out the loss of a single man, whom we hope is welcome to 
your ladyship ". She looked into the galley, and at once 
recognising the body of Angus of Glengarry, she ordered it 
to be carried ashore and properly attended to. The men 


proposed that he should be buried in the tomb of his pre- 
decessors, " Cnoc nan Aingeal," in Lochalsh ; but this she 
objected to, observing that, if he could, her husband would 
never allow a Macdonald, dead or alive, any further posses- 
sion in that locality, at the same time ordering young Glen- 
garry to be buried with her own children, and such other 
children of the predecessors of the Mackenzies of Kintail as 
were buried in Kilduich, saying that she considered it no 
disparagement for him to be buried with such cousins ; and 
if it were her own fate to die in Kintail, she would desire to 
be buried amongst them. The proposal was agreed to, and 
everything having been got ready suitable for the funeral of 
a gentleman of his rank such as the place could afford in 
the circumstances he was buried next day in Kilduich, 
in the same tomb as Mackenzie's own children. 

This is not the generally received account of Angus Mac- 
donald's burial ; but we are glad, for the credit of our 
common humanity, to find the following conclusive testi- 
mony in an imperfect but excellently written MS. of the 
seventeenth century, otherwise remarkably correct and trust- 
worthy : " Some person, out of what reason I cannot tell, 
will needs affirm he was buried in the church door, as men 
go out and in, which to my certain knowledge is a malicious 
lie, for with my very eyes I have seen his head raised out 
of the same grave and returned again, wherein there was 
two small cuts, noways deep."* 

After the funeral of young Glengarry, Mackenzie's lady 
became concerned about her husband's safe return, and was 
most anxious that he should be advised of the state of mat- 
ters at home. She therefore despatched Robert Mac 
Dhomh'uill Uidhir to arrange the safest plan for bringing 
her lord safely home, as the Macdonalds were still prowl- 
ing among the creeks and bays further south. He soon 
after sailed in Maclean's great birlinn, under command 
of the Captain of Cairnburgh, accompanied by several 
other gentlemen of the Macleans. 

In the meantime, the Macdonalds, aware that Mackenzie 

* Ancient MS. 


had not yet returned, " convened all the boats and galleys 
they could, to a certain island which lay in his course, and 
which he could not avoid passing. So, coming within sight 
of the island, having a good prospect of a number of boats, 
after they had ebbed in a certain harbour, and men also, 
making ready to set out to sea. This occasioned the cap- 
tain to use.a strategem, and steer directly to the harbour, 
and still as they came forward he caused lower the sail, 
which the other party perceiving made them forbear putting 
out their boats, persuading themselves that it was a galley 
they expected from Ardnamurchan, but they had no sooner 
come forgainst the harbour but the captain caused hoist 
sail, set oars, and steers aside, immediately bangs up a bag- 
piper and gives them shots. The rest, finding the cheat 
and their own mistake, made such a hurly-burly setting out 
their boats, with their haste they broke some of them, and 
some of themselves were bruised and had broken shins also 
for their prey, and such as went out whole, perceiving the 
galley so far off, thought it was folly to pursue her any fur- 
ther, they all returned wiser than they came from home." 

" This is, notwithstanding other men's reports, the true 
and real narration of Glengarrie Younger his progress, of 
the Kintail men their meeting him in Kyle Rhea, of my 
lord's coming from Mull, and of the whole success, which 
I have heard verbatim not only from one but from several 
that were present at their actings."* 

Mackenzie arrived at Islandonain late at night, where he 
found his lady still entertaining her brave Kintail men after 
their return from Glengarry's funeral. While not a little 
concerned about the death of his troublesome relative, he 
heartily congratulated his gallant retainers on the excellent 
manner in which they had protected his interests during his 
absence. Certain that the Macdonalds would never rest 
satisfied until they had wiped out and revenged the death 

* Ancient MS. The authors of the Letterfeam and Ardintoul MSS. , give 
substantially the same account, and say that among those who accompanied Mac- 
kenzie to Mull, was " Rory Beg Mackenzie, son to Rory M6re, of Achiglunichan, 
Fairburn and Achilty's predecessor, and who afterwards died parson of Contine, 
from whom my author had the full account of Mackenzie's voyage to MulL" 


of their leader, Mackenzie determined if possible to drive 
them out of the district altogether. The castle of Strome, 
then in possession of Glengarry, was the greatest obstacle in 
carrying out this resolution, for it was a good and conveni- 
ent asylum for the Macdonalds when pursued by Mackenzie 
and his followers ; but he ultimately succeeded in wresting 
it from them. 

We give the following account of how it was taken, from 
the Ancient MS., slightly modernising the spelling : " In 
the spring of the following year, Lord Kintail gathered to- 
gether considerable forces and besieged the castle of Strome 
in Lochcarron, which at first held out very manfully, and 
would not surrender, though several terms were offered, 
which he (Mackenzie) finding, not willing to lose his men, 
resolved to raise the siege for a time ; but the defenders 
were so unfortunate as to have their powder damaged by 
the women they had within. Having sent them out by 
silence of night to draw in water, out of a well that lay just 
at the entrance of the castle, the silly women were in such 
fear, and the room they brought the water into being so 
dark for want of light, when they came in they poured the 
water into a vat, missing the right one, wherein the few 
barrels of powder they had lay. And in the morning, when 
the men came for more powder, having exhausted the sup- 
ply of the previous day, they found the barrels of powder 
floating in the vat ; so they began to rail and abuse the poor 
women, which the fore-mentioned Duncan Mac Ian Mhic 
Gillechallum, still a prisoner in the castle, hearing, as he 
was at liberty through the house, having promised and 
made solemn oath that he would never come out of the 
door until he was ransomed or otherwise relieved." This 
he was obliged to do to save his life. But having discovered 
the accident which befell the powder, he accompanied his 
keepers to the ramparts of the castle, when he noticed his 
countrymen packing up their baggage as if intending to 
raise the siege. Duncan instantly threw his plaid over the 
head of the man that stood next him, and jumped over the 
wall on to a large dung heap that stood immediately below. 


He was a little stunned, but instantly recovered himself, 
flew with the flectness of a deer to Mackenzie's camp, and 
informed his chief of the state of matters within the strong- 
hold. Kintail renewed the siege and brought his scaling 
ladders nearer the castle. The defenders seeing this, and 
knowing that their mishap and consequent plight had been 
disclosed by Duncan to the enemy, they offered to yield up 
the castle on condition that their lives would be spared, and 
that they be allowed to carry away their baggage. This 
was readily granted them, and " my lord caused presently 
blow up the house with powder, which remains there in 
heaps to this day. He lost only but two Kenlochewe men 
at the siege. Andrew Munro of Teannouher (Novar) was 
wounded, with two or three others, and so dissolved the 
camp." Another writer says : " The rooms are to be seen 
yet. It stood on a high rock, which extended into the midst 
of a little bay of the sea westward, which made a harbour 
or safe port for great boats or vessels of no great burden, 
on either side of the castle. It was a very convenient place 
for Alexander Mac Gillespick to dwell in when he had both 
the countries of Lochalsh and Lochcarron, standing on the 
very march between both." 

In 1603 the Macdonalds of Glengarry, under Allan Dubh 
MacRanuil of Lundy, made an incursion into the country 
of Mackenzie, in Brae Ross, plundered the lands of Cille- 
chriost, and ferociously set fire to the church during divine 
service, when full of men, women, and children, while Glen- 
garry's piper marched round the building cruelly mocking 
the heartrending wails of the burning women and infants, 
playing the well-known pibroch, which has been known 
ever since by the name of " Cilliechriost," as the family tune 
of the Macdonells. Gregory says, " some of the Mac- 
donalds chiefly concerned in this inhuman outrage were 
afterwards killed by the Mackenzies ; but it is somewhat 
startling to reflect that this terrible instance of private 
vengance should have occurred in the commencement of 
the seventeenth century, without, so far as we can trace, 
any public notice being taken of such an enormity. In the 


end the disputes between the chiefs of Glengarry and Kin- 
tail were amicably settled by an arrangement which gave 
the Ross-shire lands, so long the subject of dispute, entirely 
to Mackenzie ; and the hard terms to which Glengarry was 
obliged to submit in the private quarrel, seemed to have 
formed the only punishment inflicted on this clan for the 
cold-blooded atrocity displayed in the memorable raid on 
Kilchrist." After this the two powerful families continued 
on friendly terms much to their mutual advantage, and 
that of the wide district of country over which they held 

Angus, the eldest son, having been killed, and his father, 
Donald MacAngus, being now very advanced in years, the 
actual command of the clan fell to the second son, Alex- 
ander, known among the Highlanders as"Alastair Dearg". 
He appears to have been of a much more peaceable dis- 
position than his brother Angus. He also predeceased 
his father, who being very frail and confined to his bed in 
his latter years, had, after the death of Alastair Dearg 
to hand over the actual command of the clan to his grand- 
son Angus, or ^Eneas (son of Alastair Dearg), who was, in 
1660, created Lord Macdonell and Arros. 

That Alexander predeceased his father is clearly proved 
by an order of the Privy Council, dated Edinburgh, 3rd 
December, 1641, at the instance of William Mackintosh of 
Torcastle and others, for committing Angus, Donald's 
grandson, to Edinburgh Castle for refusing to exhibit 
several of his clan, named in the order, who had murdered 
Lachlan Mackintosh and William Millar within the burgh 
of Inverness, upon a Sabbath day named in the criminal 
letters issued against them. Angus was in Edinburgh at 
the date of the order, in which he is designed, though his 
father was still alive, as " the Laird of Glengarie, who is 
Cheefe Maister landslord to the saids rebells," and who 
" ought to be answirable for thame, and exhibite thame to 

* Abridged from the author's " History and Genealogy of the Clan Mackenzie," 
where a full account of the burning and " Raid of Cillechriost," will be found pp. 


justice conformc to the laws of the countrie and severall 
Acts of Parliament". The applicants pray that the Laird 
of Glengarry be committed to ward in Edinburgh till the 
said rebels be exhibited to answer for the said slaughter 
committed by them, or else to take responsible caution of 
him to exhibit them "at a certaneday vnder great soumes". 
After hearing parties the Council decreed as follows : 

"Quhereunto Angus Macdonald oy (og/ia, or grandson) to (he Laird of 
Glengarie being called to answyr, and he compeirand this day personally 
before the saids Lords, together with Lauchlane Macintosh, brother to the 
supplicant. And the saids Lords being well and throughlie advised with all 
that wes proponned and ullet'ged be both the saids parteis in this mater. The 
Lords of Secreit Counseill, in regard of the knowne old age and infirmitie of 
the old Laird of Glengarie being neir ane hundreth yeers of aye ; and that the 
said Angus Macdonald his oy (ogJ>a, or grandson) is appearand heir of the 
estat, hcs the management and government yairof, and is followed and acknow- 
ledged be the haill tennents of the bounds, and such as hcs ane dependence 
on his goodshir. Therefore they find that he is lyable for exhibition of the 
rebells foresaids, men tennants and servants, to his said guidshir, as he would 
have beene if his age did not excuse him. And the said Angus being per- 
so'ft-llie present as said is, and this sentence being intimate to him, and he 
ordained to find caution for exhibition of the saids rebells, before the saids 
Lords in the moneth of Junii next, and to keepe the peace in the meane time, 
he refused to doe the same ; and therefore the saids Lords ordains him to be 
committed to waird within the Castell of Edinburgh, therein to remaine upon 
his owne expenss, ay and whyll he find the said cautioun, and till he be freed 
and releeved be the said Lords, and siclyke ordanis lettres of intercommoning 
to be direct aganis the rebells foresaids." 

By an order dated ist of March, 1642, he is set at liberty 
" furthe of the Castle," but to continue at open ward within 
"this Burghe of Edinburghe," Sir John Mackenzie of 
Tarbat having become cautioner for him. He was im- 
prisoned in the Castle for " ye space of 1 3 weekis or there- 
by," and, in the order, he is again designed " Angus 
Macdonald, cfy (og/ia or grandson) to the Laird of Glen- 
garie ". This establishes beyond question that Alastair 
Dearg (as well as Angus Og) predeceased his father, 
Donald MacAngus MacAlastair, and that, although he 
commanded the Macdonalds of Glengarry during his 
father's life-time, he actually never was, and ought not to 
be reckoned one of the chiefs. 

21 A 


Hitherto we have not met with a single instance where 
Macdonell is used as the family name of Glengarry. It 
will be observed that during his grandfather's life-time the 
future Lord Macdonell and Arros was designated Angus 
Macdonald, and the first instance of Macdonell as a 
family name, in connection with Glengarry, is in the patent 
of nobility granted to the grandson and successor of Donald 
MacAngus, on the 2Oth of December, 1660. The name 
having at that date been assumed, we shall hereafter adopt 
it in connection with this family.* 

We have already seen that Donald's father entered into 
an agreement with Grant of Freuchy that his son Donald, 
should marry Grant's daughter, and that Angus suffered 
seriously in consequence of Donald's refusal to carry out 
that engagement. She, however, appears to have been 
living and cohabiting with him in Strome Castle, Loch- 
carron, probably in accordance with the outrageous custom 
which then partly prevailed with some, of having their 
betrothed living with them on probation. The inhabitants 
of the district looked upon her, erroneously, however, as 
his lawful wife ; and one of the charges made against him 
before the Privy Council, in 1602, was that " he lived in 
habitual and constant adultery with the Captain of Clan- 
ranald's daughter after he had put away and repudiated 
Grant's daughter, his married wife.-f The author of the 
oldest Mackenzie MS. extant]' refers to the same irregu- 
larity in the following terms : " His young lady Mac- 
Ranald's, or Captain of Clanranald's, daughter whom he 
had newly brought there (Strome Castle), and had sen 
away Grant's daughter." This would go far to explain the 
determination with which Grant decided upon punishing 
the father, and insisting upon the penalties provided for in 
the agreement between Grant and old Glengarry, failing 

Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh, F.S.A. Scot., M.P., has, in his possession, two docu- 
ments signed by Glengarry, both in the year 1660, in one of which he signs 
"Angus McDonald " ; in the other, " Macdonell". 

t Letterfearn MS. 

J The "Ancient " MS. of the Mackenzies. 


the due solemnization of the marriage. It is only from 
this position of parties that any plausible foundation can 
be found for the charge made by the Clanranald champion 
in his letters to the Inverness Journal in 1818 and 1819, 
that Alastair Dearg was illegitimate, and that therefore 
the Glengarry line was in the same position as that alleged 
in the case of John Moydartach's descendants. For this 
charge, however, there is no foundation whatever, for it is 
admitted by all, including Clanranald, that a legitimate 
marriage had taken place between Donald of Glengarry 
and the daughter of Allan MacDonald of Clanranald. 
The only question which could affect that union is a 
previous legally constituted marriage with Helen Grant of 
Grant, and that no such union existed has been proved 
beyond any possibility of doubt. But it is scarcely worth 
while to discuss seriously the various charges made by the 
Clanranald champion ; for he not only maintains that 
Donald, first of Scotus, was " Donald of Laggan," but that 
Alastair Dearg, the undoubted son of Donald MacAngus, 
and father of ./Eneas, Lord Macdonell and Arros, was the 
son of Donald of Scotus the brother and the son of the 
same man at the same time. " Regarding Allister Dearg," 
he says, in his letter of ist of October, 1819, " I admit he 
was the son of Donald of Laggan ". He has been proved 
to be the son of Donald MacAngus MacAlastair and brother 
of Donald first of Scotus, whom Clanranald calls " Donald 
of Laggan ". Contradictory nonsense like this is almost 
beneath notice, but it was the only possible retreat that 
the champion of Clanranald could find from the false 
position which he had assumed ; for he himself declares, 
when taken to task, that he never " attempted to insinuate " 
that Alastair Dearg's father, the real Donald of Laggan 
Donald MacAngus MacAlastair was not legitimate. 

Donald married, first, Margaret, daughter of Allan Mac- 
donald of Moydart, Captain of Clanranald, and grand- 
daughter of the famous John Moydartach, with issue 

i. Alexander, known as " Alastair Dearg," who married 
Jean, daughter of Allan Cameron, XV. of Lochiel, with 


issue ^Eneas Macdoncll, created a Peer of Scotland as 
Lord MacdonelJ and Arros in 1660, and who (Alastair 
Dearg having died before his father, Donald MacAngus), 
succeeded his grandfather as chief of Glengarry. 

2. Donald, first of Scotus, or Scothouse, who married 
Mary, daughter of Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat, with 
issue Reginald, second of Scotus, who married a daughter 
of Macleod of Macleod, with issue " Alastair Dubh " 
Macdonell (whose father succeeded to Glengarry on the 
death, without lawful issue, in 1682, of his cousin, Lord 
Macdonell and Arros), and four other sons, of whom here- 

3. John, known as Ian Mor, from whom the family of 
Ard-na-heare, all of whom emigrated to America. 

4. John, or Ian Og, whose descendants also went to 

He also had a natural son, Angus, by Helen Grant, 
Freuchy's daughter, killed at Kyleakin by the Mackenzies. 
He was legitimated by the following Precept, and, had 
he lived, would probably have succeeded to Glengarry : 
" Preceptum legittimationis Angusij McDonald Vc 
Angusij bastardi filij naturalis Donaldi Me Angus de 
Glengarrie, Reliqua in comuni forma. Apud Halierudhous, 
decime quinte die mensis Aprilis anno dn'i millessimo 
quingentesimo octuagesimo quarto. Per Signitum."* 

Glengarry married, secondly, a daughter of Macdonell 
of Keppoch. He died at an extreme old age over a 
hundred on Sunday, the 2nd of February 1645, the same 
day on which Montrose victoriously fought the battle 
of Inverlochy, aided by the men of Glengarry, under Donald 
MacAlastair's grandson and successor, 


Ninth of Glengarry, raised to the Scottish Peerage, in 1660, 
by the title of Lord Macdonell and Arros. We have seen 
that on the very day on which his grandfather died, the 2d 

* Reg. Privy Seal, vol. i., p. 119. 


of February, 1645, he had been engaged at the head of 
his clan with Montrose at the Battle of Inverlochy, his 
father, Donald, having died a few years previously. On 
this occasion he was accompanied by his three uncles 
Donald, first of Scotus ; John Mor, and John Og, all of 
whom were distinguished warriors, and steady supporters 
of the Stuarts. Angus Macdonell of Glengarry never left 
Montrose since he joined him, a young man, at the head of 
his followers, in 1644, in an expedition to Argyle, on which 
occasion they devastated and laid the whole of the country 
waste, and burnt and destroyed everything that came within 
their reach. From the I3th of December, 1644, till about the 
middle of January, 1645, they over-ran the country. The 
slaughter was immense, and before the end of January not 
a male person was to be seen throughout the entire extent 
of Argyle and Lorn, " the whole population having been 
either driven out, or taken refuge in dens and caves known 
only to themselves".. Glengarry adhered to the great Mar- 
quis throughout his distinguished career, Wishart declaring 
that he " deserves a singular commendation for his bravery 
and steady loyalty to the king, and his peculiar attachment 
to Montrose ". 

He joined the Earl of Antrim in Ireland in 1647, where 
his regiment suffered a serious defeat. " When Antrim left 
Scotland, early in 1647, he brought with him a regiment 
of Scotch Highlanders, under the command of Angus 
Macdonald of Glengarry, not so much, perhaps, to em- 
ploy them against his Irish enemies as to take them out of 
harm's way in Scotland, where David Leslie was cutting 
off in detail the various fragments into which the Royalist 
forces had separated themselves after their great victory 
at Kilsyth. This Highland regiment under Glengarry 
soon got into trouble here also, for on its march to join 
the Cavanaghs in Wexford, and thus to assist in opposing 
the Ormondists, it was set upon by a superior force under 
Sir Thomas Esmond, and entirely defeated. Four hun- 
dred of Glengarry's regiment were killed, with several 


officers,"* and the remaining officers, including himself, 
were taken prisoners. 

He was personally present at the meeting held in August, 
1653, at Lochearn, to make the arrangements preliminary 
to Glencairn's expedition, and afterwards joined the Earl 
with three hundred of his followers. Among those present 
were the Earl of Athole, Lord Lome, Lochiel, and several 
others. Lome brought 1000 foot and 50 horse, but, in 
about a fortnight after, on the 1st of January, 1654, he, on 
some pretence, clandestinely left with his followers, taking 
the direction of Ruthven Castle, then garisoned by English 
soldiers, from Cromar, in Badenoch, where Glencairn's army 
was at the time quartered. Exasperated at Lome for thus 
deserting him, Glencairn despatched a party of horse, under 
Glengarry and Lochiel, to bring Lome and his followers 
back, or, in case of refusal, to attack them. Glengarry 
followed them up so closely that he overtook them within 
half-a-mile of Ruthven Castle. Lome escaped with some 
of his horse, but Glengarry sent a party in pursuit, who 
overtook them, and brought about twenty of them back 
prisoners. The foot halted on a hill near the castle, and 
agreed to return to the camp ; but Glengarry, who had a 
strong antipathy to the whole Campbell race since the wars 
of Montrose, determined, contrary to his instructions, to 
attack them, and would have done so, but for the arrival of 
Glencairn himself in time to prevent bloodshed, at the same 
time, however, directing that no proposals should be re- 
ceived from them with arms in their hands ; whereupon 
they delivered their arms, and Glencairn with some of his 
officers rode up and addressed them on the impropriety of 
their conduct. The result was that the Campbells declared 
their willingness to serve the King and obey Glencairn as 
commander, a declaration which both officers and men 
confirmed by a solemn oath ; " but they all deserted within 
a fortnight."f 

* Macdonells of Antrim. Foot-note, p. 334. 

t Graham of Deuchrie's Account of Glencairn's Expedition ; and Fullarton's 
History of the Highland Clans, p. 293. 


In 1653 the exiled Charles granted Glengarry the follow- 
ing commission as Major-General : 

" Charles, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, 
Defender of the P'aith, &c., to our trusty and well-beloved Angus Macdonell of 
Glengarry, and to all others to whom these presentis shall come greeting, 
know ye that we, reposing trust and confidence in the courage, conduct, 
and good affection of you, the said Angus Macdonell, doe by these presentis 
constitute and appoint you to be one of our Major-Generals of such forces of 
foote as are or shall be levied for our service within our Kingdom of Scotland, 
giving you hereby power and authority to conduct, order, and command them, 
in all things for our saide service, according to the lawes and custome of warre, 
and as belongeth to the power and office of one of cure Major-Generals of foot ; 
and with the same to fight, kill, slay, and destroy, or otherwise subdue all op- 
posers and enemies who are in present hostility against or not in present 
obedience to us," [with the usual authorities, privileges, and rights belonging to 
Major-Generals, commanding all officers of inferior rank to obey him, while 
he is to obey all orders and commands from General Middleton, and all others 
his superior officers.] "Given at Chantilly, the3lst day of October, 1653, in 
the fifth yeare of our reigne." 

In 1651, he was forfeited by Oliver Cromwell, for his 
steady and active support of the Stuarts ; but on the Res- 
toration of Charles II. he was, as already stated, on the 2Oth 
of December, 1660, created, as a reward for his faithful 
services, Lord Macdonell and Arros, in the Peerage of Scot- 
land, the honours being limited to the heirs-male of his 
body.* He subsequently made a formal claim to the 
chicfship, not only of the descendants of Reginald, being 
the whole Clanranalds, but to that of the whole Clan- 
donald, as male representative of Somerled and Donald de 
Isla, the common ancestors of the clan. 

In 1665, the Macdonalds of Glengarry succeeded in foisting 
a serious quarrel on the town of Inverness, in which they 
curiously enough, in the end, managed to obtain the advan- 
tage before the Privy Council. The quarrel originated in 
a very simple manner at a Fair in the town on the i8th 
of August, 1665, as follows : " Upon the hill south of the 
Castle, the horse market stands ; and there being some 
women upon the edge of the brae, selling of cheese and 
bread, ready for such as could not go far to fetch it. One 
Finlay Dhu, a townsman, taking up a cheese in his hand, 

* For Diploma see Reg. Mag. Sig., Lib. 60, No. 8. 


asked what the rate of it was ? This being told him, 
whether designedly or by negligence, he let the cheese 
drop out of his hand, and down the hill it runs into the 
river. The woman told him she would oblige him to pay ; 
he (a crabbed fellow) gave her cross language of defiance. 
One that stood bye, espousing the quarrel, held him fast, 
and took off his bonnet in pledge, until he should pay the 
woman. A relation of Finlay's challenged this man, as it 
was none of his concern. ' Yes,' said he, ' I am concerned 
as a witness, to see just things.' To threatening words 
they go, and from words to blows, till at length most of the 
hill market is engaged in a confusion. This alarms the 
whole town ; the guards are called, who come in arms, and 
Joe Reed, a pretty man, their captain, runs in betwixt the 
parties, to separate them. Several other gentlemen present 
offer their mediation ; but no hearing. Swords are drawn, 
guns presented, and some wounds given. Provost Alex. 
Cuthbert is told that his guards are not regarded ; he puts 
on a steel cap, sword and targe, causes ring the alarm bell, 
and comes straight to the hill, and many pretty fellows 
with him. The people cry for justice ; the guards, being 
oppressed and abused, let off some shot, and two men are 
killed outright, and above ten wounded. The noise is 
hushed, and matters examined ; the guard is blamed. The 
provost, in a fury, said he allowed and avowed what was 
done ; for, who durst disturb the king's free burgh at a 
market time? The highlanders keep a-brooding. Two 
Macdonalds were killed ; one Cameron, and one Philan died 
of their wounds. The open rupture was closed on both 
sides with a punctilio of honour ; but a revenge was pro- 
mised and vowed. A great many gentlemen, Frasers, 
Grants and Mackintoshes offered to compose the matter, 
calling it chance-medley, and extenuating him that was the 
cause of the fray. The leading men of the Macdonalds 
present were addressed by the Magistrates, and civily 
treated, with a promise of strict examination, and execution 
for the blood ; but, alas ! it was post naitfragium, or, a par- 
don after execution, as the lost party thought. This 


rupture burst out afterwards ; but the unhappy fellow that 
occasions the fray was shapen for mischief, being marked 
like a stigma, having one half of his beard white, the other 
half black ! Meanwhile, the wounded men and the dead 
corpses were all carried over to this side the Bridge of Ness 
(i.e., the left bank of the Ness), as an odium to the town. 
Thomas Fraser of Beaufort concerned himself; the par- 
ishoners of Wardlaw went into the town and transported 
the corpses to their interment at Kirkhill, very decently, 
and the other wounded men also that died. Of all which 
I was an assisting eye-witness." 

In consequence of this affair combined with the fact that 
the town was always friendly toward the Mackintoshes, 
with whom the Macdonalds of Glengarry were continually 
at feud, the latter threatened to take ample vengance on 
the burgh. 

Their threats and boastings had been reported to the 
Town Council, who wrote to certain noblemen and gentle- 
men in the neighbourhood for advice and concurrence. 
These gentlemen promised assistance, and the inhabitants 
were ordered to provide for able-bodied men, which were to 
be sent in from the country, for their defence. The Mac- 
donalds, hearing this, proposed the following somewhat 
cool articles, as the basis of a treaty of peace : 

1. A covenant or bond to pass for entertaining offensive and defensive leagues, 

by which, if the town be invaded, the MacHonalds should come to 
assist, and e contra, the Town to send 100 men to assist them. 

2. The Town to become liable presently in 100,000 merks Scots to them. 

3. The town to quit their Superiority of Urakies, and to require no stent 


4. The Council to swear upon oath, what persons did draw the Macdonalds' 

blood, to be delivered up to their mercy. 

5. What arms, money, clothes, goods, cattle, 4c., were lost, should be repaid 

to the Macdonalds, as they should depone upon the worth. 

6. When any Inverness men shall meet Lord Macdonald's friends or followers, 

or any one of them, that the Inverness men shall immediately lay down 
their arms on the ground, in token of obedience. 

7. The Town to pay what sums the Macdonalds and their people shall have 

spent, from the time they became a body, until they be disbanded. 

To these articies the Council replied, " That upon the 



Clandonalds' disbanding, they were willing to give hearing 
to indifferent (neutral) friends, being conscientious and in- 
different men, to speak of such overtures as they found 
necessary, and expedient to be made use of; for removing 
hostilities and making a right understanding betwixt them". 
The case was afterwards submitted to the Privy Council, 
and Commissioners were sent to Edinburgh with the 
following instructions : 

1. Ye are to prosecute that action against the Clandonald with all vigour, 

before the Lords of the Privy Council. 

2. Ye are, with all your main and might, to defend the whole inhabitants of 

this burgh, from that criminal action intendej by the said Macdonalds ; 
and are to use all means possible, for vindication of this burgh, from 
their aspersions. P"or the better achievement thereof carry along with 
you the Town's Great Charter, where ye will find in the I3th line im- 
mediately following insuper your rights to the mill and hill whereon it 
was built, called Cannak Hill ; together with your contract passed 
betwixt your town and Robert Waus for Drumdivan. Take along with 
you also the King's gift to Balquhain of Drumdivan, with his Charter 
to Robert Waus thereon, with the two Sasines on both. 

The documents referred to point out the extent of the 
Burgh boundaries and privileges. 

The case for the Town laid before the Council is as 
follows, and shows that the parties had old grievances to 
redress and bitter memories to strengthen their present 
differences : 

The Town of Inverness having always been cruelly oppressed by neighbour- 
ing clans, and in contemplation thereof, King James VI. by his 
Charter, hath allowed them very large privileges in defending them- 
selves against these oppressions, and empowering their Magistrates to 
pursue and incarcerate, judge and punish such as shall make any in- 
surrections amongst them, amongst other clans, my Lord Macdonald's 
(of Glengarry) men, both in anno 1641 and 1650, most riotously de- 
forced the guard of the said Town and rescued the prisoners taken by 
them out of their Tolbooth, and lately in August last the said Town 
having appointed a guard in the horse-market, and the said guard hav- 
ing apprehended one of the captains of Clan Ranald's men who had 
committed a riot, whilst they were carrying him to the Tolbooth, they 
were followed by three of the Lord Macdonald's men, with drawn 
swords, most injurious threatening, whilst, in the meantime, the re- 
manent part of the guards were invaded by others of the Lord Mac- 
donald's men, and by them beat, wounded, and disarmed ; and the 
said guard being thereafter recruited by other two guards, one Gilles 


pick Macdonald did wound one of the town's customers in the very 
middle of all their guards, and having run into his own party and clan 
who were gathered together, within a musket shot to the said guard, to 
the number of one hundred or thereby, five of the townsmen did, most 
civilly, go towards the said company to demand the said Gillespick to 
be delivered to justice ; but such was the fury of that clan, that they 
did most violently set upon these five persons, and had murdered them, 
if the guard and townsmen had not immediately run for their defence, 
and, notwithstanding of that assistance, the said Macdonalds did most 
riotously invade the said assistance likewise, and, having loosed many 
shots, they did, with one of these shots, wound a townsman, 
and kill one of their own old men, both parties being mixed by 
the confusion ; aud albeit, they wounded many of the townsmen 
in the said conflict, yet did they thereafter convocate to the number 
of 700 men or thereby, and sent Angus and John Macdonald to 
demand of the town, one hundred thousand merks, a league 
offensive and defensive, the laying down of their arms whenever they 
should see my Lord Macdonald or any of his friends ; and that in sign 
of their submission, reparation of all their expenses, since they were 
convocated to a body ; and some other tyrannous propositions ; and 
because these were refused, the said ambassadors, as they termed them- 
selves, did, in the public market-place, threaten the people that their 
army was upon their march, and that they would burn the town, and 
put the inhabitants to the sword ; whereby the said inhabitants were so 
affrighted, that most of them removed themsdves and goods ; and 
albeit the Earl of Moray, Sheriff-principal of Inverness, did twice com- 
mand them to lay their arms down and dissipate, yet they most con- 
temptuously disobeyed ; and when, by the mediation of the Earl of 
Moray, 77 of their number were met with as commissioners for the 
rest, the lowest article they would accept of, was 40,000 merks, and 
the delivery of such townsmen to their mercy as did draw their blood. 

By all which it is clear that the Magistrates of Inverness and inhabi- 
tants thereof acted nothing in this particular, but in defence of His 
Majesty's authority, and of their own lives, and, if they had done less, 
they might have been called in question for their negligence ; and the 
peace can be very ill secured, if Magistrates must stand still, and see 
authority trampled upon ; neither can it be thought by any rational 
man than the Town of Inverness could have any design to meddle with 
any such clan, except upon necessity ; and all their outrages being 
proven, as shall be done, if it be not done already, the said Magistrates 
conceive that all the wrongs, libelled by the said Macdonalds against 
the said Town, are not relevant, seeing, in effect, anything that was 
done by them, was done in their own defence, and in defence of the 
said authority ; and albeit the said libel be raised merely to trouble 
the said burgh, yet they are most confident that most of the particulars 
therein libelled cannot be proven, except most suspected witnesses be 
admitted, who are no way comparable to the probation led, and to be 
led, by the burgh of Inverness ; the same consisting of famous and 


disinterested gentlemen, and the truth of the said proceedings, being 
attested by the Sheriff of the shire, is notour to all the country. 

Whereas it is alleged, that the said Town invaded the said Mac- 
donalds, without (beyond) their privileges, it shall be proven that their 
privileges extend two miles beyond that place ; and it is a most uncon- 
troverted principle in our law that, Magistrates having begun to follow 
delinquents within their own territories, may most justly pursue them 
wherever they flee. 

In respect of all which, it is humbly craved that the great loss and 
vexation of the said Town may be considered, all their trade being 
hereby destroyed, and the Town being deserted by its inhabitants, and 
forced yet to keep continual watches ; and that upon these accounts the 
Council would be pleased to provide for the security of the said place, 
for the future. 

The Macdonalds succeeded in their action, and the Privy 
Council decerned that the town of Inverness should pay 
Glengarry .4,800 Scots in name of damages, together 
with the fees due to the surgeon who attended the wounded 

In 1666, the same Commissioners reported to the Town 
Council, that they were greatly prejudiced, hindered and 
crossed, by supplications and cross petitions tendered to 
the Privy Council, by some ill-affected and malicious 
neighbours, whereby they pretended and protested, to be 
free of all personal and pecuniary fines, to be imposed upon 
the burgh, for that unhappy tumult raised in August last, 
with the Macdonalds ; whereupon the Town Council 
resolved " That the persons, protestors, and complainers 
to the Privy Council, viz., John Forbes of Culloden, Duncan 
Forbes, his brother, William Robertson of Inshes, T. Wat- 
son, A. Forbes, A. Chisholm, and W. Gumming, being 
ill-affected burgesses, should not in time to come, be 
received as Councillors of the Burgh ". 

There is an Act of the Privy Council, dated at Edin- 
burgh, iSthof July, 1672, ordaining and commanding Glen- 
garry as chief of the name and clan of Macdonald, to be 
answerable for the peace of the clan, as follows : 

The Lords of his Majesty's Privy Council, considering that by the Laws and 
Acts of Parliament of the realm, Chieftannes of Clannes are obliged to find 
caution for their whole name and Clan, that they shall keep the peace, and 
exhibit and present them to justice, whenever they shall be called. In prosecu- 


tion of which lawes the saides Lordes, ordaines and commandes /Eneas, Lord 
Macdonald, as chief of the name and clan of Macdonald, to exhibit before the 
Council, upon the first Tuesday of October next, the persons under-written, 
viz. Archibald Macdonald of Keppoch [and 12 others whose names are given], 
and to find caution for their men, tenants, servants, and indellers upon their 
lands, roumes, and possessiounes and the hail persons descended of their 
families, that they shall commit no murder, deforcement of messingers, reiff 
theifts, receipt of theifts, depredations, open and avowed fyre raisings and 
deidly feids, and any other deeds contrar to the Acts of Parliament ; with this 
provision, that the generality of the said band shall not infer against them or 
their cautioners an obligement to remove from their present possessiounes of 
such lands possest by them as belongs to the Laird of Mackintosche, they 
being willing to pay therefor, as the same has been set thes many yeirs bigane ; 
and until the said day that the said caution be found ; the said Lords ordains the 
Lord Macdonald to be answerable, and give bonds for the saidis persones that 
they shall keep the King's peace, and not commit any of the crimes foresaid 
under the pain of five thousand merks Scottes money. And for the saids persons 
their further encouragement to compear and give obedience to the saids Lords, 
ordaines personal protection to be granted to them for the space of twentie 
days before and twentie days after the said dyet of appearance, not only for 
civill debtes, but all criminall causes whatsomever. 

Those mentioned in the document, besides Archibald 
Macdonald of Keppoch, appear to be the principal Keppoch 
tenants, clearly showing that Lord Macdonell was held ac- 
countable for those of the clan outside his own immediate 
followers and vassals on the Glengarry property. 

On the 2oth of October, 1673, at Annat, a contract of 
Friendship is entered into between Lord Macdonell and 
Duncan Macpherson of Cluny, in which they bind them- 
selves and their successors to " honoure, owne, aide, fortifie, 
concurre with, assist and defend " each other and their 
kinsmen, friends, defenders, and followers. " Forasmuch as 
both the saids parties doe seriously consider the ancient 
love, mutuall friendship and kyndness that have been ob- 
served and inviolablie keiped betwixt their antecessors," 
they proceed to state that " it is contracted, agreed, and 
condiscendit upon betwixt the parties afternamed, to witt 
ane noble and potent Lord Aneas Lord McDonell for him- 
self and takeing burden upon him for the name and Clan 
of McDonalds as Cheeffe and principall man thereof, and 
for his remanent kinsmen, wassals, dependents and followers, 
on the ane pairt ; and the verie honourable Duncan 


McPherson of Cluny for himself and takeing burden upon 
him for the heall name of Macphersons and some others 
called old Clanchatten as Cheeffe and principall man thereof 
on the other pairt."* 

He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Donald Macdonald, 
first baronet of Sleat, without issue. He died in 1682, 
when the representation of the family reverted to Ranald 
or Reginald Macdonell, eldest son of Donald Macdonell, 
second son of Donald MacAngus MacAlastair, eighth 
baron of Glengarry, grandfather and predecessor of Lord 
Macdonell and Arros, as follows : Donald Macdonell, 
second son of Donald MacAngus MacAlastair, eighth of 
Glengarry, became first of Scotus, or Scothouse, and mar- 
ried Mary, daughter of Sir Donald Macdonald, whose 
sister, Margaret, was married to his nephew, Lord Mac- 
donell. By her he had issue 


Second of Scotus (alive in 1695), who became tenth of 
Glengarry, as above, and married a daughter of Macleod 
of Macleod, with issue 

1. Alastair Dubh Macdonell, his heir and successor. 

2. Angus or ^Eneas, on whom his father settled the 
lands and barony of Scotus ; his eldest brother, Alastair 
Dubh, succeeding to Glengarry only. His descendants, 
since 1868, claim to represent the male line, and to have 
succeeded to the chiefship of Glengarry. 

3. John, progenitor of the Macdonells of Lochgarry, who 
married Helen, daughter of Donald Cameron of Lochiel, 
with issue DONALD MACDONELL, II. of Lochgarry, who 
married Isabella Gordon of Glenlivet, with issue (i) John, 
died unmarried; (2) ALEXANDER MACDONELL, III. of 
of Lochgarry ; and (3) Peter, who died young. Alex- 
ander became a General in the Portuguese service, and 
married Dona Maria Zose^ da Costa, daughter of the tenth 
Count of Soure, with issue ANTHONY MACDONELL, IV. 

* Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis. 


of Lochgarry, who married Cassandra Eliza Macdonald, 
daughter of Major Ross Darby, and heiress of Angus Mac- 
donald of the Grange, Brompton, with issue ALEXANDER 
ANTHONY MACDONELL, V. of Lochgarry, a Colonel in 
the Indian Army, who married Margaret Jane, daughter of 
Lachlan Maclean, with issue (i) ARTHUR ANTHONY 
MACDONELL of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, VI. and 
present representative of the family ; (2) Harry Edward ; 
(3) Sophia Adelaide Hastings ; (4) Flora Lindsay.* 

* The following curious note is supplied by a member of the family : Donald 
Macdonald of Lochgarry was between 50 and 60 when he fled with Charles Edward 
to France. He was followed shortly after by his wife, Isabel Gordon, and her three 
sons. She escaped in the disguise of a clansmen from Lochgarry, as the butcher 
Cumljerlund and his troops broke through the gates and burnt the old castle to 
the ground, afterwards seizing and destroying all the surrounding lands. Donald 
placed his two oldest sons in the Scotch Guard (Ogilvie's), and the youngest in the 
Swiss Guard. He, himself, continued to live near Charles lidward in Paris, always 
retaining the full Highland costume, and, from his beauty and martial bearing, 
;i^ the cynosure of all eyes, even in those days of manliness. On one occasion, 
while dining in a Paris Cafe', he overheard seven Frenchman at a distant table 
deriding the young Chevalier and the half-clad savages he had brought with him 
In an instant his glass was shattered at the head of one, and his dirk thrown in the 
midst of all. He then and there challenged the seven on the spot, and fought them 
one by one, killing or wounding all. His eldest son, Colonel John, after the dis- 
banding of the Garde Ecossaist, began to pine after his native country, and. without 
telling his father, made his way to Calais, intending to embark for Great Britain. 
His father discovered his departure, followed him to Calais, and, finding him, 
resolved to pronounce on him the famous curse of Lochgarry, which has clung to 
the race ever since " My curse on any of my race who puts his foot again on 
British shore ; my double curse on he, who of my race may submit to the Guelph ; 
and my deadliest curse on he who may try to regain Lochgarry ". He threw his 
dirk after his son, and turned his back for ever on him he had loved the best. 
The old man died shortly after, in Paris, of a broken heart, living long enough to 
hear that Colonel John had made his submission ; had been given a full Colonelcy 
in the British Army, and the attainder of Lochgarry levied in his favour. His 
second brother, Alexander, would never consent to incur any of his father's curse, 
so he entered the Portuguese service, where he lived and died. The full weight of 
the curse fell on Colonel John, for, when he sought to inhabit Lochgarry, after he 
had built a beautiful modern mansion on the site of the burnt castle, his fine health 
began to fail, the strain on his nerves by living, as it were, amongst sounds of 
another world, or signs, as the tenantry said, " of the puir old laird's wraith " being 
amongst them. The ringing of bells, the knockings at the Hall door by unseen 
hands, the glimpses of a shadowy figure so haunted him, that he was forced to shut 
it up, and return to France, where he died shortly after, leaving Lochgarry (being 
himself unmarried), to his next brother, Alexander (of Portugal) and his heirs. 
But Alexander never took possession. Lochgarry House remained shut up till his 
death, in 1812, when his only son, Anthony, was brought from Portugal by his 
mother (a Portuguese), to enter the British service, and take possession. Neither 
he nor his young wife were able to continue to inhabit it, owing to the same un- 
earthly sounds. He also died, when only 31, after having, unfortunately, sold 
Lochgarry, the attainder having barred the entail 



4. Donald ; married, and killed at Killiecrankie ; issue 

5. Archibald, progenitor of the Macdonells of Barrisdale, 
now extinct in the male line. 

Ranald or Reginald Macdonell, II. of Scotus and X. of 
Glengarry, was succeeded in the latter by his eldest son, 


As eleventh of Glengarry. He was one of the most dis- 
tinguished warriors of his day in the Highlands. We find 
him and his father among the very first who joined 
Viscount Dundee in the attempt to restore James II. 
General Mackay, who commanded the king's troops, wrote 
to several of the chiefs offering them large bribes with the 
view of dissociating them from Dundee. Among others 
addressed was Glengarry, who, in reply, heartily despising 
the bribe, advised Mackay in return to imitate the conduct 
of General Monk by restoring King James. Alastair (his 
father being aged and frail,) joined Dundee "on the 
appointed day," the i8th of May, 1689, in Lochaber, with 
300 of his followers, soon followed by Clanranald, Appin, 
and Glencoe, with about 400 men between them. Soon 
after Lochiel arrived at the head of 600, while Keppoch 
followed with 200 more. From this place Montrose wrote 
his famous letter, dated Moy, June 23, 1689, to Macleod of 
Macleod, in which he says " Glengaire gave me account of 
the subject of a letter he receaved from you ; I shall only 
tell yow, that if you hasten not to land your men, I am of 
opinion you will have litle occasion to do the king great 
service " ; so sanguine was he of the prospects of the 
campaign. The particulars leading up to the Battle of 
Killiecrankie are sufficiently well-known. In the centre 
were placed, under Dundee's own immediate command 
the Macdonells of Glengarry and Clanranald, with the 
Camerons, an Irish regiment, and a troop of horse, under 
the command of Sir William Wallace. In the first charge 
they were met by a brisk fire from some of Mackay 's 


troops, by which no less than sixteen gentlemen of the 
Macdonells of Glengarry fell to rise no more. Nothing 
daunted, however, the Highlanders steadily advanced in 
face of the enemy's fire, until, having come to close 
quarters, they made a momentary halt, and having levelled 
and discharged their pistols, with scarcely any effect, they 
set up a loud shout and rushed with their claymores right in 
among the enemy before they had time to fix their 
bayonets. The result is already known. The enemy fled 
in utter confusion, thousands of them falling before the 
tremendous strokes of the double-edged claymores of the 
Highlanders, by which, in several cases, their bodies were 
literally cleft in twain. Alastair Dubh, still only Younger 
of Glengarry, performed feats of valour on this occasion, 
for which there are few, if any, parallels even among the 
Highlanders. " At the head of one large battalion towered 
the stately form of Glengarry, who bore in his hand the 
royal standard of King James VII."* The same writer 
describing the gathering in Lochaber on the i8th of May, 
says that "Macdonald of Glengarry, conspicuous by his 
dark brow and his lofty stature, came from that great valley 
where a chain of lakes then unknown to fame, and scarcely 
set down in maps, is now the daily highway of steam vessels 
passing and repassing between the Atlantic and the German 
Ocean. None of the rulers of the mountaineers had a 
higher sense of his personal dignity, or was more frequently 
engaged in disputes with other chiefs. He generally 
affected in his manners and house-keeping a rudeness 
beyond that of his rude neighbours, and professed to regard 
the very few luxuries which had then found their way from 
the civilised parts of the world into the Highlands as signs 
of the effeminacy and degeneracy of the Gaelic race. But 
on this occasion he chose to imitate the splendour of 
Saxon warriors, and rode on horseback before his four 
hundred plaided clansmen in a steel cuirass and a coat 
embroidered with gold lace." f The author of the 

* Macaulay's History of England, vol. iv., p. 374. 
t History of England, vol. iv. , pp. 343-345. 

22 A 


"Memoirs of Dundee" informs us that, at the head of his 
battalion, he "mowed down two men at every stroke with 
his ponderous two-handed sword ". He not only lost his 
brother Donald and several near relatives, but had also to 
deplore the death of his son Donald Gorm, so called from 
his beautiful blue eyes, a youth who had given early proof 
of prowess worthy of his illustrious ancestors, having on 
this occasion killed single-handed no less than eighteen of 
the enemy with his trusty blade. 

In August following, the Highlanders suffered a serious 
defeat at Dunkeld, and losing all faith in their commander, 
General Cannon, they retired to Blair-Athole, where they 
entered into a bond of association, to support the cause of 
King James, and for their own mutual protection, and then 

returned to their homes. They are to meet at in 

" September next," and to bring with them Fencible men 
Sir Donald Macdonald, Glengarry, and Benbecula, 200 
each, and Keppoch 100, while others were to bring more or 
less according to their resources. A few days after signing 
this bond they sent a characteristic answer to a communi- 
cation from General Mackay, in which he asked them to 
address the government for such terms as would induce 
them to lay down their arms. In reply they say, " that you 
may know the sentiments of men of honour, we declare to 
you and all the world, we scorn your usurper, and the 
indemnities of his government ; and to save you farther 
trouble by your frequent invitations, we assure you that 
we are satisfied our king will take his own time and way 
to manage his dominions and punish his rebels ; and 
although he should send us no assistance at all, we will die 
with our swords in our hands before we fail in our loyalty 
and sworn allegiance to our sovereign." * 

General Buchan meanwhile joined Cannon, and the two, 
finding themselves unable to oppose General Mackay, 
after wandering for a time through the country, dismissed 
their few remaining followers. Buchan, Lieutenant Graham, 
Sir George Barclay, and other officers, retired to Glengarry's 

* Parliamentary Records. 


residence, where they remained for a considerable time, 
partaking of his hospitality, and still entertaining some 
hope, however frail, of the restoration of King James, in 
whose interest they were prepared to enter upon any 
service, however hopeless and hazardous. General Cannon 
and his officers retired with Sir Donald Macdonald of 
Sleat, receiving similar treatment from him as those did 
who went to Glengarry, and entertaining the same hopes 
of Stuart restoration and courtly favour. 

On the 27th of August, 1691, a proclamation was issued 
by the government promising an indemnity to all who 
would make their submission and swear allegiance to the 
government by the first of January, 1692, and all the chiefs, 
except Maclan of Glencoe, gave in their adherence within 
the time prescribed. By a special agreement, with the 
government, Generals Buchan and Cannon, were sent to 
France, whither, as elsewhere stated, they obtained per- 
mission from James to retire, as they could be of no further 
service to him in their native land. 

It is unnecessary to detail at any length the various in- 
cidents and the state of feeling prevailing among the 
Highlanders which, in 1715, culminated in the battle of 
Sheriffmuir. Alexander of Glengarry was one of those 
who signed a letter to the Earl of Mar, expressing loyalty 
to King George, stating that " as we were always ready to 
follow your directions in serving Queen Anne, so we will 
now be equally forward to concur with your lordship in 
faithfully serving King George. The other signatures to 
this document are Maclean, Lochicl, Keppoch, Sleat, 
Mackintosh, Fraserdale, Macleod of Contulich, Glen- 
moriston, Comar, and Cluny. Notwithstanding these pro- 
fessions of loyalty to King George, Glengarry was among 
the great chiefs who soon after met at the pretended grand 
hunting match in Braemar, on the 27th of August, 1714, to 
arrange with Mar as to raising the standard of rebellion in 
favour of the Chevalier. A warrant for his apprehension, 
with many others of the Highland chiefs, was issued by 
the government, but though Sir Donald Macdonald of 


Sleat, and several others were apprehended and committed 
prisoners to the Castle of Edinburgh, Glengarry escaped 
capture. He appeared at Sheriffmuir at the head of 500 
Glengarry Macdonalds, where he greatly distinguished 
himself, as did indeed all the Macdonalds, of whom there 
were nearly 3000 in the field, under the chief command of 
Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat. Patten informs us that 
" all the line to the right, being of the clans led on by Sir 
Donald Macdonald's brothers. Glengarry, captain of Clan- 
Ranald, Sir John Maclean," and several others whom he 
names, " made a most furious attack, so that in seven or 
eight minutes we could neither perceive the form of a 
squadron or battalion of the enemy before us ".* Refer- 
ring to Glengarry, he says : " this gentleman was inferior 
to none in bravery". After Sheriffmuir the Highlanders 
retired to the North. On the final suppression of the 
rebellion, Alexander of Glengarry made his submission to 
General Cadogan at Inverness, and on the I5th of Sep- 
tember, 1725, all his followers peaceably surrendered their 
arms to General Wade at the barracks of Fort-Augustus, 
and received pardon for the part they had taken in the 
rebellion of 1715. 

After Sheriffmuir he was created a Peer of Parliament, 
by the Chevalier St. George, styling himself James VIII. 
of Scotland, by patent dated gih of December, 1716. He 
married first, Anne, daughter of Hugh, Lord Lovat, with 
issue, an only daughter, 

1. Anne, who married Roderick Mackenzie, IV. of Apple- 

He married secondly, Mary, daughter of Kenneth Mor 
Mackenzie, third Earl of Seaforth, with issue 

2. Donald Gorm who so greatly distinguished himself 
at Killiecrankie, where he fell gloriously after having 
killed eighteen of the enemy with his broadsword. He 
died unmarried. 

3. John, who succeeded his father ; 

4. Randolph ; and several others. 

* History of the Rebellion. 


Alastair Dubh Macdoncll, one of the most distinguished 
Chiefs of Glengarry, died in 1724, when he was succeeded 
by his eldest surviving son, 


Twelfth of Glengarry, who obtained a charter to himself 
and his heirs-male, dated 27th of August, 1724, of the lands 
of Knoydart, from John, Duke of Argyll, whose grand- 
father evicted these lands by a legal process from JEneas, 
Lord Macdonell and Arros. Under this destination the 
lands of Knoydart descended to his son, Alexander, and 
on his death, without issue, to his nephew, Duncan, John's 
grandson son and next heir of Colonel yneas Macdonell, 
John's second son, killed in the streets of Falkirk while in 
command of two battalions of his clan, who fought gal- 
lantly and with effect on the right wing of Prince Charlie's 
army. Duncan himself took no part in the rebellion of 
1745, but his second son, Angus, a youth only nineteen 
years of age, led two battalions of his retainers to the 
standard of the Prince, commanded respectively by Lieut- 
Colonel Macdonell of Lochgarry and Lieut-Colonel 
Macdonell of Barrisdale, both holding rank under himself.* 
Alastair, the eldest son, was chosen by the other Highland 
Chiefs to carry an address to the Prince in France, and 
signed by their blood. Having missed his Royal High- 
ness, who in the interval started for Scotland, he was taken 
prisoner, and detained in the Tower of London until after 
Culloden, though he was at the time an officer in the French 

t Amongst many who declared for the Chevalier a cautious policy was adopted. 
In cases where the head of a family and proprietor of an estate went out, he would 
previously make over his property to his eldest son, who remained at home in 
possession. When the father, on the contrary, was averse to active partisanship, 
a son went out, with all the forces, both in the way of men and money, which the 
house could contribute, assured that, although the youth shall fall or be attainted, he 
had still brothers to inherit the patrimonial property for behoof of the family. 
Some of the Highland gentlemen themselves saw fit to adopt this policy. The 
Macdonalds of Clanranald and also those of Glengarry, were led out by the sons 
of their respective chiefs. Chambers' History of the Rebellion, Foot-note, p. 137. 


Guard. The manner in which the Macdonalds of Glen- 
garry distinguished themselves on this occasion by their 
ancient loyalty and valour is too well known to require 
extended notice. 

We may however be permitted to say that the Glengarry 
Macdonalds had a share with Macdonald of Tiendrish in 
the capture of Captain Scott and his party of two com- 
panies the first taken by Prince Charlie's army near the 
head of Loch Lochy. In the Edinburgh Mercury of 28th 
October, 1745, we are informed that "Saturday last, his 
Royal Highness the Prince reviewed the Macdonclls of 
Glengarry at Musselburgh ; when they made a most noble 
appearance," of whom about three hundred were in the 
Highland army. The rear guard, in the retreat from Eng- 
land, was partly composed of the Glengarry men, where 
they performed special and very valuable service. On one 
occasion, at Clifton Hall, they alone completely routed, 
with great intrepidity, a large body of well-mounted Eng- 
lish dragoons. At the battle of Falkirk they along with 
Clanranald and Keppoch, formed a portion of the first line, 
where they behaved with characteristic valour. They also 
formed a part of the front line at Culloden, but in conse- 
quence of their removal to the left wing on this occasion, 
which they not only resented as an indignity, but considered 
an evil omen the Macdonalds, it was maintained, never 
having fought elsewhere than on the right wing, since Bruce 
accorded them that honourable position at the battle of 
Bannockburn they, with the other Macdonalds, refused to 
charge the enemy. Chambers informs us that "the Duke 
of Perth, who was stationed amongst them, endeavoured to 
appease their anger by telling them that, if they fought 
with their characteristic bravery, they would make the left 
wing a right, in which case he would assume for ever after 
the honourable surname of Macdonald. But the insult 
was not to be expiated by this appeal to clanship. Though 
induced to discharge their muskets, and even to advance 
some way, they never made an onset. They endured the 
fire of the English regiments without flinching ; only ex- 


pressing their rage by hewing up the heath with their 
swords ; but they at last fled when they saw the other 
clans give way. " From this conduct there was a brilliant 
exception in the Chieftain of Keppoch, a man of chiv- 
alrous character, and noted for great private worth." * It 
is not the fact, however, that the Macdonalds invariably 
fought on the right wing of the army, a well-informed 
writer in the " Celtic Magazine " [vol. ii., pp. 472-473], re 
the battle of Culloden, says, "one element of disaster to 
the Highland army existed at Culloden, which had never 
before previously occurred in modern times, and seems 
almost of itself to explain the discomfiture of the High- 
landers, and that was the conduct of the Macdonalds, who 
because they were stationed upon the left in place of the 
right of the line, actually refused to charge, and left the 
field without striking a single blow for the cause in which 
they were engaged. Tactically, therefore, the field was 
lost owing to a large body of the defeated never having 
fought or attempted to do so, and that not through their 
having been prevented from engaging by being skilfully 
cut off from the opportunity of attacking, by the man- 
oeuvres of their antagonists, as occurred at Blenheim and 
elsewhere, but simply by their own misdirected ideas of 
military etiquette an idea which seems the more absurd 
when it is borne in mind that at Killiecrankie the Mac- 
donalds were stationed without hesitation or remonstrance 
upon the left of the line, where they did right good ser- 
vice. Be this, however, as it may, there is no doubt but 
that the Macdonalds who had, by their past history proved 
themselves upon the whole the most brilliant and success- 
ful of all the clans, forfeited on this fatal day by their un- 
meaning prejudices, the prestige which their previous 
exploits had so deservedly earned. It is also singular that 
the fact of the Macdonalds having formed the left at 
Killiecrankie is never once alluded to in all the commen- 
taries and explanatory statements which have been made 

See Keppoch Family for fuller details of this chiefs magnificent heroic devo- 


regarding Culloden. The only possible manner of allowing 
the Macdonalds to drop mildly is a lame one. It is, how- 
ever, nevertheless true that the defeat, immediately after it 
had taken place, was not considered by the bulk of the 
army so fatal and decisive as the Prince's subsequent 
conduct rendered it ; and the Macdonalds believed that 
they would have had an ample opportunity of rectifying 
matters at the next fighting day, when, according to one 
of the clan (vide a. letter printed at the end of the Lock- 
hart Memoirs), he stated that the Athole men would not 
refuse them the right on that occasion. The occasion, 
however, never arrived, and the stain upon the military 
reputation of the Macdonalds must for ever remain un- 
effaced, and, looking to their position on the left at Killie- 
crankie, actually unexplained." 

After the irretrievable battle of Culloden, Prince Charles 
put up for a night in Glengarry's Castle, at the time 
deserted of its tenants, destitute of furniture and pro- 
visions, and in charge of a single domestic, entirely unfit 
for the accommodation and entertainment of a prince. The 
family mansion was afterwards, with many others, plundered 
and burnt to the ground by Cumberland's troops, who 
inflicted the most atrocious cruelties even on the common 
people and on helpless women and children. " In many 
instances the women and children were stripped naked, and 
left exposed ; in some the females were subjected even to 
more horrible treatment A great number of men unarmed 
and inoffensive, including some aged beggars, were shot 
in the fields and on the mountain-side, rather in the spirit 
of wantonness than for any definite object."* 

John married, first, the only daughter of Colin Mac- 
kenzie, IX. of Hilton, with issue 

1. Alastair, his heir. 

2. ^Eneas, a Colonel in the Prince's army, already re- 
ferred to as the leader of the clan during the campaign of 
the 'Forty-five. He married Mary Macdonald, daughter of 
Alexander Robertson of Strowan, with issue (i) Duncan, 

Chambers' Rebellion. 


who succeeded his uncle as XIV. of Glengarry, and of 
whom presently ; (2) Angusia, who married Mackay of 
Achamony. Chambers describes the fall of Colonel ^Encas 
Macdonell of Glengarry at Falkirk as follows : The 
Highland army lost more this day by an accident than 
it did on the previous day (in the battle) by the fire 
of the enemy. A private soldier of the Clanranald regi- 
ment had obtained a musket as part of his spoil upon 
the field of battle. Finding it loaded he was engaged 
at his lodgings in extracting the shot ; the door was 
open, and nearly opposite there was a group of officers 
standing in the street The man extracted the ball, and 
then fired off the piece, to clear it in the most expeditious 
manner of the powder ; but, unfortunately it had been 
double loaded, and the remaining ball pierced the body of 
young Glengarry, who was one of the group of bystanders. 
He soon after died in the arms of his clansmen, begging 
with his last breath that the man, of whose innocence he 
was satisfied, might not suffer ; but nothing could restrain 
the indignation of his friends, who immediately seized the 
the man, and loudly demanded life for life. Young Clan- 
ranald would have gladly protected his clansman ; but, 
certain that any attempt he could make to that effect would 
only embroil his family in a feud with that of Glengarry, 
and in the first place, cause that regiment to quit the Prince's 
army, he was reluctantly obliged to assent to their demand. 
The man was immediately taken out to the side of a bank 
wall near the town, and pierced with a volley of bullets. 
His own father put a shot into his body, from the desire to 
make his death as instantaneous as possible.* 

Glengarry married, secondly, a daughter of John Gordon 
of Glenbucket, with issue 

3. James, a Captain in the Army, whose daughter, Amelia, 
married Major Simon Macdonald of Morar. 

4. Charles, who joined the old 78th or Fraser High- 
landers, as Lieutenant, on the $th of January, 1757, and 
distinguished himself under Wolfe in the American War. 

History of the Rebellion. 


He soon rose to the rank of captain ; was wounded before 
Quebec on the 28th of April, 1759, and afterwards mortally 
wounded at St John's, Newfoundland, in 1762, after having 
attained the rank of Major in the Army.* If he was ever 
married, there is no trace of any of his descendants. 

5. Helen, who married Ranald Macdonell, fifth of Scotus. 
He was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Thirteenth of Glengarry, who in a General Retour, dated 
2nd of February, 1758, before the baillies of Inverness and a 
Respectable Jury, is described : " Qui Jurati Dicunt magno 
sacramento interveniente quod quondam Donaldus Mac- 
Angus vie Alister de Glengary Attavus Alexandri Mac- 
donell de Glengary latoris de presentium filii quondam 
Joannis Macdonell de Glengary qui fuit filius demortui 
Alexandri Macdonell de Glengary qui fuit filius Ronaldi 
Macdonell de Glengary qui fuit filius Donaldi Macdonell 
de Scotus, qui fuit filius natu secundus dicti Donaldi Mac- 
Angus vie Alister obiit," &c. " Et quod dictus Alexander 
Macdonell nunc de Glengary est Legitimus et propinquior 
haeres masculis dicti quondam Donaldi MacAngus vie 
Alister sui attavi," &c. There is another Retour, of the 
same date and place, and before the same parties, proceeding ; 
" Qui Jurati Dicunt magno sacramento interveniente 
quod quondam yEneas Dominus Macdonell de Arros filius 
fratris abavi Alexanderi Macdonell," &c., &c., the same as 
above, and concluding, " Donaldi Macdonell de Scotus 
fratri natu secundi Alexandri Macdonell de Glengary patris 
dicti quondam /Eneae Domini Macdonell de arros obiit," 
&c. " Et quod dictus Alexander Macdonell nunc de 
Glengary est ligitimus et propinquior haeres masculus dicti 
quondam /Eneae Domini Macdonell de arros ejus filii fratus 
abavii." He was, as already stated, chosen by the High- 
land chiefs to carry an address to Prince Charles, signed 

* Fullarton's History of the Highland Regiments. 


by their blood, giving assurance of their fidelity, though 
his father was then living, but advanced in years. On his 
return he was met and overpowered by two English men- 
of-war, and after a hot fight he was obliged to surrender ; 
for, the inflexible attachment and loyalty of the family to the 
House of Stuart, and his own military talents and influence 
among the Highlanders being well known to the govern- 
ment, he was kept in the Tower of London till after the 

He died unmarried in 1761, when he was succeeded by 
his nephew, the only son of Colonel ^Eneas Macdonell who 
fell at Falkirk, 


Fourteenth of Glengarry, who married Marjory, daughter of 
Sir Ludovick Grant, Bart, of Dalvey, with issue 

1. Alastair Ranaldson, his heir. 

2. Lewis, a Captain in the Army, who died unmarried. 

3. James, afterwards knighted and made a K.C.B. for 
distinguished services ; became a Lieutenant-General in the 
Army ; Principal Equerry to the Queen Dowager ; highly 
distinguished at Maida, Egypt, and Waterloo. He par- 
ticularly distinguished himself at the defence of Hougo- 
mont, where, assisted only by one sergeant of the Guards, 
he slew or drove back six French Grenadiers, who had 
found their way into the court-yard. He died, unmarried, 
in 1857. 

4. Angus, who died in infancy. 

5. Somerled, died at Curacoa, in the West Indies, un- 

6. Elizabeth, who first married I2th March, 1795, Wil- 
liam Chisholm of Chisholm, with issue (i) Alexander 
William Chisholm, born in 1810; (2) Duncan Macdonell 
Chisholm, both of whom succeeded each other in Strath- 
glass ; (3) Jemima, who married Mr. Chisholm Batten of 
Aigais and Thornfalcon, with issue. 


Elizabeth married, secondly, Sir Alexander Ramsay, 
Bart, of Balmain. 

7. Sibella, who died young. 

8. Margaret Isobel, who married Major Downing, killed 
during the Peninsular War, with issue one son, George 
Downing, Captain in the Madras Army, who married 
Margaret, daughter of Coll Macdonald of Dalness, W.S., 
by whom he had issue an only child, Elizabeth Margaret 
Downing Macdonald, who married Dugald Stuart, eldest 
son of the late Right Honourable Sir John Stuart of Bal- 
lachulish and Lochcarron, Vice-Chancellor. 

On the 3<Dth of April, 1788, being legally vested in Glen- 
garry and Knoydart, Duncan made a new destination of 
his whole estates in favour of certain heirs, of whom his 
eldest son, explicitly so designed, was the institute. He 
was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Fifteenth of Glengarry, who may truly be called the last 
specimen of the Highland chiefs of history, and is said 
to have been, in the most favourable features of his char- 
acter, Scott's original for Fergus Maclvor. It is impossible 
to chronicle here in detail the various incidents of his 
remarkable and interesting career. He on all occasions 
wore the Highland dress, and adhered to the style of living 
of his ancestors, and, when away from his Highland home, 
was invariably accompanied by a body of his retainers in 
full Highland costume. They were at the time gener- 
ally known as " Glengarry's tail ". These were regularly 
posted as sentinels at his door. He appeared at the grand 
reception given to George IV. during his visit to Edinburgh 
in 1822, accompanied by a small but select following of 
twelve of the leading gentlemen of the House of Glen- 
garry, including his brother, Colonel (afterwards General) 
Macdonell of Hougomont celebrity, Scotus, Barrisdale, and 
other leading men. According to the newspaper reports of 


the time, "each had a gillie in attendance tall, raw-boned, 
swarthy fellows who, besides the sword and target, carried 
guns of portentous length. We believe they are chiefly 
the foresters of the chieftain ; and indeed they look as if 
they had done nothing all their lives, but lived by hunting, 
and slept in the woods." 

His attempts to maintain, in his own peculiar manner, 
the ancient customs of Highland chieftainship cost him so 
much that he was forced to burden the estate to an extent 
which necessitated its transference by his successor to other 
and strange hands. When visiting his friends in Lochaber, 
he would march from Invergarry to Fort William in full 
Highland dress, with eagle feathers in his Glengarry 
bonnet, "followed by his tail," while Ailean Ball, his 
family bard, in full professional costume, was prepared 
with a bardic oration at the end of the journey. 

He appears to have had among his tenants a prototype, 
on a small scale, of Coinneach Odhar Fiosaiche the Brahan 
Seer who occasionally indulged in the luxury of predicting 
future events ; and on one occasion he declared that when 
the high road would be made round a certain well-known 
hill, the Macdonalds of Glengarry would disappear from 
the land of their ancestors. Glengarry hearing of the 
vaticinations of Alastair a Bhrochdair for such was his 
local designation sent for him and questioned him about 
his prediction, but Alastair declined to answer. The chief 
drew his dirk and threatened instant consequences unless 
Alastair at once replied to his interrogations. The " pro- 
phet " an old soldier by the bye coolly answered in his 
native tongue : "A Mhic 'ic Alastair, cuiribh bhur biodag 
air a h-ais 'na truaill. Bha mise latha dheth mo bheatha, 
agus thoinnidhinn as 'ur dorn i, agus mar a tha mi 'n diugh, 
tha mi 'guidhe oirbh na cuiribh thuige mi " " Glengarry, 
replace your dirk in its sheath ; there was a day in my 
life when I would twist it out of your fist, and I beseech 
you even now not to press me unduly." The chief made 
no further enquiries. Strange to say, the high road 
was shortly after constructed round that very hill, and 


almost immediately thereafter the estate of Glengarry was 
sold to the stranger. 

The friend who supplied this anecdote,* says of Glen- 
garry that with all his eccentricity he was possessed of 
much reflection and common sense. Captain Duncan 
Macdonell of Aonach, Glenmoriston, was a great friend 
and admirer of his chief. The summer before his untimely 
death, Glengarry went across the intervening hills to 
Aonach to visit his friend, the Captain, and in the familiar 
conversation which took place between them, he addressed 
him thus " Duncan, I have been thoughtless; I have been, 
as I thought, sustaining the honour of my ancestors ; but 
now I see that I have been wasting the heritage that gener- 
ations of them have left me. I must turn over a new leaf, 
I am determined to do it ; I am going south by-and-bye 
to have this business definitely arranged " ; and it was on 
this very expedition he was going, it is said, when he met 
with his untimely fate. 

On the occasion of King George's visit to Edinburgh, in 
1822, Glengarry claimed, as the representative of the High- 
land chiefs, to be with his " tail " in the king's body guard. 
This was granted ; and it is said that when Sir Walter 
Scott, who had charge of the programme, proposed to 
swear in the Glengarry men, he requested the chief to 
explain to them in their native tongue the nature of 
the oath, when Glengarry replied, " Never mind, swear 
them in, I will be responsible for them, and will take my 
own time to explain to them ; I am security for their 
loyalty ". 

His impetuous nature often led him to commit many 
acts which on reflection he bitterly regretted. At a 
Northern Meeting ball in Inverness, a lady present refused 
to dance with him. She afterwards danced with Norman 
Macleod, a grandson of Flora Macdonald, and then a 
young officer serving at Fort-George. Glengarry towered 
with rage, insulted Macleod, and caned him. A challenge 
followed ; next morning Glengarry apologised, and offered 

* The Rev. Allan Sinclair, M.A., Kenmore. 


to do the amende honorable. Nothing less, however, would 
satisfy Maclcod than that the haughty chief should undergo 
similar treatment a sound caning at Macleod's hands to 
what Glengarry inflicted upon him the previous evening. 
This, in cool blood, was out of the question ; a duel with 
pistols followed, and Macleod was killed. Glengarry was 
afterwards tried for the offence before the Court of Justi- 
ciary at Inverness, and acquitted. 

It was he who raised the controversy which raged so 
warmly in 1818 and 1819 with Clanranald as to the chief- 
ship of the clan, to which we have repeatedly referred. 

He married, on the 28th of January, 1802, Rebecca, 
second daughter of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, Bart, 
by whom he had issue (with six sons who died young) 

1. jEneas Ranaldson, his heir. 

2. Elizabeth, who married Roderick C. Macdonald of 
Castletirrim, Prince Edward Island, with issue John Alas- 
tair, now a monk in Canada ; Emma, who died young ; 
and Elizabeth, a nun. 

3. Marsali, who, on the 22nd of October, 1833, married 
Andrew, fourth son of Andrew Bonar of Kimmerghame, 
Berwick, with issue two sons and two daughters. 

4. Jemima Rebecca, who on the 5th of July, 1833, 
married Charles Hay, second son of Sir William Forbes 
of Pitsligo and Fettercairn, Bart, with issue (i) William 
Stuart Forbes, who (born i6th of June, 1835) succeeded 
as 9th Baronet of Monymusk and Pitsligo; now in New 
Zealand ; married, with issue three sons and four daugh- 
ters ; (2) Alexander Charles (born i$th April, 1837), in 
holy orders, married, with issue one son and two daugh- 
ters ; (3) John Stuart (born 28th May, 1849), who joined 
the American Cavalry, and was killed in action in Montana, 
U.S.A. ; (4) James Edmund Stuart (born in 1851), now in 
London, unmarried ; (5) Emma, and (6) Emilia, both died 
young in 1849; (7) Elizabeth, who married the Rev. 
George Digby, without issue ; (8) Henrietta, who married 
the Rev. Walter Hiley, with issue five sons and three 
daughters ; (9) Adelaide, who married the Rev. Francis 



Traill, with issue one son and two daughters. Mrs. Forbes 
now resides at Cheltenham. 

5. Louisa Christian ; 6. Caroline Hester : both unmarried, 
and residing in Rothesay. 

7. Guilelmina, who married Hugh Brown of Newhall, 
with issue two sons, Horatio, and Allan Brown ; the latter 
in Australia. 

8. Euphemia, who died unmarried. 

Glengarry was killed on the I4th of January, 1828, at- 
tempting to get ashore from the wrecked steamer Stirling 
Castle, at Corran, near Fort- William, when he was succeeded 
by his only surviving son, 


Sixteenth of Glengarry, who (born iQth July, 1818) married, 
on the 1 8th of December, 1833, Josephine, eldest daughter 
of William Bennet, grand-niece of the Right Rev. William 
Bennet, Bishop of Cloyne, with issue 

1. Alastair Ranaldson, his heir. 

2. /Eneas Robert, born in 1835. He was a distinguished 
student, having secured the highest prizes at Chatham. 
He was drowned in the Medway in 1855, in the twentieth 
year of his age. 

3. Charles Ranaldson, who, on the death of his eldest 
brother, in 1862, became representative of the family. 

4. Marsali, who, in 1869, married Hector Frederick 
Maclean, Edinburgh, without issue. Mrs. Maclean is now 
the lineal representative of the family, and possesses "Crag- 
gan-an-fhithich," with the ruin of the old castle (burnt by 
Cumberland in 1746) thereon, and the old family burying- 
ground, with other interesting family relics. These arc all 
that now remain to the modern representatives of Glen- 
garry of the ancient and extensive inheritance of the race. 

5. Eliza, who, in 1857, died unmarried, in the iSth year 
of her age. 

6. Helen Rebecca, who, in 1866, married Captain John 


Cunninghame of Balgownie, with issue John Alastair 
Erskine, born in 1869, and Helen Josephine Erskine. 
Captain Cunninghame died in 1879. 

This chief, who emigrated with his family to Australia, 
sold the greater part of the property, which was heavily 
mortgaged when it came into his possession, to the Marquis 
of Huntly, who, in 1840, sold it to Lord Ward (afterwards 
Earl of Dudley), for 91,000. His Lordship, in 1860, 
re-sold it to the late Edward Ellice of Glenquaich, for 
120,000. Knoydart, the only remaining portion, was 
afterwards sold by trustees, when the vast territories of 
the race of Glengarry passed from them for ever, except 
the site and ruin of the old castle burnt in 1746, and the 
family burying ground, the keys of which are held by the 
present owner, Mrs. Maclean, Edinburgh. 

JEneas Ranaldson, who thus sold the property so long 
inherited by his distinguished ancestors, was succeeded as 
representative of the family by his eldest son, 


Seventeenth of Glengarry, born in 1834. He died, un- 
married, in New Zealand, in 1862, when he was succeeded 
as representative of the family (his next brother, ./Eneas 
Robert, having died in 1855) by his second brother, 


Eighteenth of Glengarry, born in 1838. He married, in 
1865, Agnes Campbell, eldest daughter of Alexander 
Cassels, without issue. He died, on his way home from 
New Zealand, in June, 1868, being (failing any descen- 
dants of Major Charles Macdonell, youngest son of 
John Macdonell, twelfth of Glengarry, who emigrated 
to America, and was killed at Saint John, Newfound- 
land in 1 762), the last male of the line of Glengarry from 

23 A 


Alastair Dubh, son of Ranald II. of Scotus who suc- 
ceeded to Glengarry on the death of Lord Macdonell and 
Arros in 1682. Some members of the family maintain 
that Major Charles Macdonell may have left descendants 
who have not been satisfactorily accounted for, and there- 
fore they have hitherto abstained from acknowledging the 
succession of the descendants of ^Eneas, second son of 
Reginald II. of Scotus, and brother of Alastair Dubh 
Macdonell ancestor of the late Glengarry, as chiefs. 

According to this Scotus claim, which has been admitted 
by the Lyon King at Arms, on the death of Charles Ran- 
aldson Macdonell, eighteenth of Glengarry, 28th of June, 
1868, he was succeeded as representative of the family by 
his remote cousin [for descent see FAMILY OF SCOTUS], 


Seventh of Scotus, and nineteenth of Glengarry, who died 
on the 24th of October in the same year ; whereupon (his 
eldest son, ^Eneas Ranald, having predeceased him), he was 
succeeded by his grandson, 


Born 5th December, 1847, as twentieth representative and 
present chief of Glengarry. He married, in 1 874, Catharine 
Frances, only daughter of Henry Herries Creed, with 

r. ^Eneas Ranald, his heir, born 8th of August, 1875. 

2. Alister Somerled. 3. Marion Lindsay. 


ON the extinction of the direct line of Glengarry from 
Ranald, eldest son of Donald, first of Scotus, the 
succession reverted to the representatives of JEneas 
or Angus, second son of Ranald, second of Scotus, and 
brother of Alastair Dubh. It has been already stated (p. 
343) that, on the succession of Ranald to Glengarry, he 
settled the barony of Scotus on his second son, 

III. yNEAS or ANGUS, on whose descendants the repre- 
sentation of Glengarry devolved in 1868, on the extinction 
of all the male representatives of his brother, Alastair 
Uubh Macdonell, of Killiecrankie fame. JEneas married a 
daughter of Sir Norman Macleod, with issue 

1. Donald, his heir. 

2. John, progenitor of the Macdonalds of Greenfield, 
represented by John A. Macdonell, barrister, Toronto, 

3. Allan, whose descendants emigrated to America, where 
many of them now remain. 

4. Alexander, whose representatives are also in America. 
He was succeeded in Scotus by his eldest son, 

IV. DONALD MACDONELL, who married, first, Helen 
Meldrum of Meldrum, with issue an only daughter 

1. Margaret, who married Alexander Macdonald, VII. of 

He married, secondly, Elizabeth Gumming of Center, 
with issue 

2. Ronald, his heir ; 

And, thirdly, Mary Cameron of Glen-Nevis, with issue 

3. Archibald, who became a priest. 


Donald was killed at Culloden, when he was succeeded 
by his only son, 

V. RANALD MACDONELL, who married, first, Helen 
Grant of Glenmoriston, with issue 

1. .,Eneas, his heir. 

He married, secondly, Helen, (who died in June, 1793), 
daughter of John Macdonell, XII. of Glengarry, with issue 

2. Charles, a Major in the /2d Regiment, married, with 
issue an only daughter. 

3. Donald, Colonel in the H.E.I.C.S., who married Anne, 
daughter of Archibald Macdonell of Lochshiel, with 
issue (i) .<Eneas Ronald, advocate, now of Morar, who 
married Catherine, only daughter of James Sidgreaves of 
Inglewhite Hall, Lancashire, with issue Ronald Talbot, 
James Sidgreaves, Alister Young Crinan, and an only 
daughter, Catrina. (2) Donald, a Captain, N.I. of the 
H.E.I.C.S., who married Frances Eyre, with issue an only 
daughter, who died young. (3) Ann, who married Captain 
Stott, 92nd Regiment, with issue. (4) Catharine, unmarried. 

4. John, a Captain, killed in battle, unmarried. 

He had also six daughters. On his first marriage, Ranald 
assigned Scotus to ./Eneas and his heirs, burdened with a 
small life-rent to himself. He lived to a great age. Coll 
Macdonell of Barrisdale in a letter dated, Auchtertyre, 
28th of February, 1810, speaks of him as being then 85. 
He was succeeded by his eldest son, 

VI. .(ENEAS MACDONELL, who married a lady celebrated 
for great personal beauty and accomplishments, Anna, 
daughter of William Fraser of Culbockie.* By her ^Eneas 
of Scotus had issue 

* This lady's mother was also a Macdonell (Margaret, daughter of Macdonell 
of Ardnabi, a cadet of Glengarry), who married Fraser of Culbockie. She was a 
good Gaelic poet, and makes a prominent figure in the Ossianic controversy. 
Bishop John Chisholm, replying to the queries sent him by Sir John Sinclair 
regarding the Douay MS. , refers to her as follows : "Mrs. Fraser of Culbokie 
spoke of the manuscript to him on his return to Scotland, and told him she had 
taught Mr. Farquharson (the compiler of it) to read the Gaelic on his arrival in 
Scotland, in which his progress in a short time exceeded her own. She likewise 
had a large collection, of which she read passages to him when he could scarcely 
understand the Gaelic, and which escaped his memory since ; the manuscript was 


1. yEneas Ranald, his heir. 

2. Angus, who entered the army and died young. 

3. Helen Grant, a posthumous child, who married 
Colonel Kyle of Binghill. 

.^neas died at Dunballoch, then called Beauly-side, on 
the pth, and was interred on the I3th, of December, 1792. 
Mr. Alexander Macdonell of Milnefield, writing to the 
Laird of Morar on the 27th of that month, says, " I can 
assure you that his interment was attended by gentlemen 
and commons, suitable to that attention he would expect 
if he was to witness that melancholy scene, and they were 
entertained in an elegant manner ". 

He was succeeded by his only son, 

VII. ^ENEAS RANALD MACDONELL, who entered the 
Madras Civil Service, and afterwards settled at Cheltenham. 
The lands were heavily burdened, and his trustees finding 
it impossible to make both ends meet, though they cleared 
the glens of their ancient inhabitants and got a consider- 
able rise of rent from the brothers Gillespie, sold Scotus 
to Glenmoriston early in the century, who however did not 
long retain it, re-selling the lands to Glengarry, with whose 
estate they have since been incorporated. He married 
Juliana Charlotte Wade, daughter of the Archdeacon of 
Bombay, with issue 

I. .neas Ranald, who married Emma, daughter of 
General Briggs, of the H.E.I.C.S., with issue (i) /Eneas 
Ranald, who succeeded his grandfather as present chief of 
Glengarry; (2) John Bird, Lieutenant and Adjutant, I2th 
Regiment; (3) Jeanie, who married, in November, 1880, 
P. H. Chalmers, advocate, Aberdeen, younger son of Charles 

in fine large Irish characters, written by Mr. Peter Macdonell, chaplain to Lord 
Macdonell of Glengarry, after the Restoration, who had taught Mrs. Fraser, and 
made such a good scholar of her : she called this collection a Bolg Solair" Mr. 
Farquharson, who lived for thirty years in Strathglass, scarcely knew any Gaelic 
when he went there, but he was greatly assisted in acquiring a knowledge of it by 
Mrs. Fraser, who was accounted the best Gaelic scholar in that part of the country. 
She taught him the language grammatically, karnt him to read and write it ; 
and gave him a very high opinion of Gaelic poetry by the many excellent composi- 
tions in that language with which she made him acquainted. Mrs. Fraser's collec- 
tion was taken to America, but it is not known what afterwards became of it 


Chalmers of Monkshill ; (4) Charlotte Lindsay. He married, 
secondly, Mary, daughter of Dr. Johnson, with issue (5) 

2. William, V.C., a Judge of the High Court of Culcutta, 
who married Annie Louisa, daughter of Captain Duff, 
H.E.I.C.S., with issue (i) William Fraser, (2) Jeanie, (3) 
Julia Charlotte, (4) Annie Lindsay, (5) Helen Grant, and 
(6) Edith Isabella. 

3. Thomas Munro, who died without issue. 

4. Alexander Kyle. 

5. Anna, who married Hugh Hamilton Lindsay, son of 
the Hon. Hugh Lindsay, grandson of the fifth Earl of 

6. Julia Charlotte, who married John Bird, of the Madras 
Civil Service. 

On the death of Charles Ranaldson Macdonell, the last 
of the male line of Glengarry from Alastair Dubh, eldest 
son of Ranald, second of Scotus, on the 28th of June 
1868, JEneas Ranald Macdonell of Cheltenham, as above, 
became representative and chief of the ancient House of 
Glengarry, which see. 


THIS family, the modern representatives of which 
claim to be chiefs of the whole Clandonald, was in 
many respects the most distinguished of the race. 
It produced warriors seldom equalled, and never sur- 
passed even in the Highlands. We have already ex- 
pressed our opinion as to the family claim to the chiefship, 
and gave some of the reasons which has driven us to the 
conclusion that the claim is not well founded. Skene, than 
whom there is no better authority, maintains that Donald, 
the ancestor of Glengarry, was the eldest son of Reginald 
of the Isles, and that Allan, the progenitor of Clanranald, 
must have been the second son. " The seniority of 
Donald," he says, " is distinctly proved by the fact that on 
the extinction of the family of Moror (descended from a 
younger son), the family of Moydart succeeded legally to 
that property ; consequently, by the law of Scotland, they 
must have been descended from a younger son than the 
family of Knoydart and Glengarry, and it follows of ne- 
cessity that the latter family must have been that of the 
Chief." 1 That the family of Clanranald is descended from 


Or Ranald, eighth in descent from Somerled of the Isles 
and Thane of Argyll, is admitted on all hands, and the 
only question is, Whether Allan, the immediate progenitor 

For Skene's remarks in extenso on this point see pp. 391-398. 


of Clanranald, was the first or the second son ? His des- 
cendants now stoutly maintain that he was the first, and 
that consequently his immediate successors were chiefs of 
the whole Clandonald. This the reader must be left to 
judge for himself. Reginald was undoubtedly succeeded 
in a large portion of his extensive domains by 


Second of Moydart, and other wide territories in the West 
Highlands and Isles, now impossible to define, as a con- 
siderable portion of his father's possessions went to the 
other sons. Allan fought at the famous battle of Harlaw 
in 1411, where he greatly distinguished himself, with his 
brothers, Donald, first of Glengarry, and Dugald, the latter 
of whom was slain. 

Allan, according to the history of Clanranald,* married 
" a daughter of John, last Lord of Lorn, and brother of 
Dugald, Lord of Appin," by whom he had issue 

1. Roderick, his heir. 

2. Allan, from whom the Sliochd Alain Mhic Alain of 
Knoydart, whose lands returned to Glengarry in 1613, and 
of whose representatives nothing is known. 

3. John, issue extinct. 

He died at Castletirrim in 1419, a few months after his 
father, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Third of Moydart, much better known among his High- 
lander countrymen as " Ruari Mac Alain ". He was a 
man of great courage, and, very early in life, became 
distinguished for his valour and daring. He supported 
the Earl of Ross in all his contentions with the crown ; 

* Edinburgh 1819. 


joined him in 1492, in his expedition against Inverness, 
when, according to the MS. History of the Mackintoshes, 
after the king set him at liberty, " he collected a band 
of men accustomed to live by rapine, fell upon Inver- 
ness, pillaged and burnt the houses". Roderick, in 1431, 
fought against the king's troops in Lochaber under Donald 
Balloch, on which occasion the Earl of Mar, commanding 
the Royal army, was wounded, while Allan, Earl of Caith- 
ness, was slain, and many of their followers put to the 
sword. The king's army was completely defeated and 
overthrown.* In 1455, Roderick joined in a Macdonald 
raid to Sutherland, when the party was defeated at Skibo 
by Neil Murray, and fled back into Ross. They soon, 
however, returned, and were met by the Sutherland men, 
commanded by Robert, brother of the Earl of Sutherland, 
on the sands of Strathfleet, " when ther followed a sharp 
and cruell skirmish, foughtin with great courage on either 
syd. In the end, Mackdonald his men were overthrown, 
and most pairt of them killed, either in the conflict or in 
the chasse, which continued long, even to the Bonagh."f 
Referring to this raid, the author of the " History of Clar- 
ranald " says, that " A severe engagement followed ; the 
Macdonalds were ultimately defeated ; but Roderick suc- 
ceeded in saving most of his men, with whom he returned 
to Castletirrim." 

He married Margaret, daughter of the famous Donald 
Balloch of Isla, Chief of Clann Ian Mhoir, with issue 

1. Allan, his heir. 

2. Hector, or Eachainn, who obtained lands in Morvern, 
and became progenitor of the branch of the Macdonalds 
known as Clann Eachainn, of whom Neil MacEachainn of 
Flora Macdonald celebrity, father of Marshal Macdonald, 
Duke of Tarenitum, the famous French general ; Alexander 
R. Macdonald, Ord ; his brother, Lachlan Macdonald, now 
of Skaebost, Isle of Skye ; and many others, of whom 

* For full particulars of this engagement, see pp. 70-86. 
t Sir Robert Gordon's Earldom of Sutherland, p. 74. 



3. Margaret, who married, as his second wife, Alexander 
" lonraic " Mackenzie VI. of Kintail, with issue Hector 
Roy Mackenzie, progenitor of the family of Gairloch ; and 
a daughter who married, Allan Macleod, the last of the 
original proprietors who inherited a portion of Gairloch. 

We are informed in the family history that he married, 
secondly, " More, daughter of William Mackintosh of 
Mackintosh, by a daughter of the Thane of Calder". In 
the History of the Mackintoshes and Clan Chattan, by 
Alexander Mackintosh Shaw, recently published, page 83, 
we are told that William Mackintosh, who "died at Connage 
in 1368," had by his first wife, Florence, daughter of the 
Thane of Calder, " a daughter, married to Ruari Mac Alan 
Mhic Ranald of Moydart ". Considering that, by his second 
wife, this Chief of Mackintosh had five children before his 
death in 1 368, it is scarcely possible that his daughter by 
the first marriage, could have been the second wife of Ruari 
MacAllan of Moydart (whose first wife was a daughter of 
Donald Balloch of Isla, a man alfve in 1475), and whose 
eldest son, Allan MacRuari, was executed in 1 509. 

He died about 1481, and was succeeded by his eldest 


Fourth of Moydart, commonly called " Allan MacRuari ". 
He was one of the principal supporters of Angus, the 
bastard son of John, last Lord of the Isles, in the battle of 
the Bloody Bay, between Ardnamurchan and Tobermory, 
where Angus defeated his father. He also accompanied 
Alexander of Lochalsh, in 1488, to the Battle of Park, 
fought with the Mackenzies, and in the invasion of Ross 
and Cromarty in 1491, on which occasion they collected a 
great booty, a large share of which went to Clanranald.* 
For this spoil Alexander Urquhart, Sheriff of Cromarty, 
obtained restitution against Kilravock, who also joined in 

* Gregory, p. 66. 


it, by Act of the Lords of Council, in 1492, for himself and 
his tenants.* Kilravock, however, soon after raised an 
action before the Privy Council to be relieved of the obli- 
gation laid upon him. On the 5th of July, 1494, the Lords 
of Council continued the summons till the 3rd of August 
following. On the igth of May, 1496, there appears in 
the Acts of the Lords of the Privy Council a continuation 
of all the summonses in the case until the 3rd of July, 
except, inter alia, the one here referred to ; and on the 
second of March, 1497, a decreet is recorded ordaining 
" that the persons underwritten sail relefe and kepe scaith- 
less, Hucheon the Ross of Kilravick, at the hands of Mr. 
Alexander Urquhart, Sheriff of Cromartie and of ye guids 
underwritten ". Among the names set forth are Allan 
MacRory of Moydart, Ewin Allanesone of Lochiel, and 
Ronald Allan MacRorysone Allan's eldest son. In 1496, 
Maclean of Duart, Macian of Ardnamurchan, Allan Mac- 
Rory of Moydart, Ewen MacAllansone of Lochiel, and 
Donald MacAnguson of Keppoch, became pledges and 
sureties "by ye extension of yair hands," to Archibald, 
Earl of Argyll, in name and on behalf of the king's high- 
ness, that each of them should be harmless and scaithless 
of others without fraud or guile, under pain of a penalty 
of five hundred pounds for each of the said persons.f In 
1498, steps were taken to suppress a feud which had long 
existed between the Clanranald of Moydart and the Mac- 
donalds of Sleat about the lands of Garmoran and Uist. 

During the disputes between the Earl of Ross and Mac- 
kenzie, no one was more zealous in the cause of the Island 
chief than Allan of Moydart, who made several raids into 
Kintail, ravaged the country, and carried away large 
numbers of cattle. After the forfeiture of the Earldom of 
Ross, Allan's younger brother, supported by a faction of the 
tenantry, rebelled against his elder brother, and possessed 
himself for a time of the Moydart estate. John of the 
Isles unwilling to appear so soon in these broils, or, perhaps, 

* History of the Mackenzies, p. 74. 

t Acts of the Lords of Council, vii., fo. 39. 


favouring the pretensions of the younger brother, refused 
to give any assistance to Allan, who, however, hit upon a 
device as bold as it ultimately proved successful. He started 
for Kinellan, " being ane ile in ane loch," where Alexander 
(of Kintail) resided at the time, and presented himself 
personally before his old enemy, who was naturally much 
surprised to receive a visit from such a quarter, and from 
one to whom he had never been reconciled. Allan coolly 
related how he had been oppressed by his own brother and 
his nearest friends, and how he had been refused aid from 
those from whom he had a right to expect it. In these 
circumstances he thought it best to apply to his greatest 
enemy, who, perhaps, might in return gain as faithful a 
friend as he had previously been his " diligent adversary ". 
Alexander, on hearing the story, and moved by the manner 
in which Allan had been oppressed by his immediate 
relatives, promised to support him ; went in person with a 
sufficient force to repossess him, and finally accomplished 
his purpose. The opposing party at once represented to 
the king that Alexander Mackenzie invaded their territory 
as a " disturber of the peace, and ane oppressor," whereupon 
he was cited before His Majesty at Edinburgh, " but here 
was occasion given to Allan to requite Alexander's genero- 
sity, for Alexander having raised armies to assist him 
without commission, he found in it a transgression of the 
law, though just upon the matter ; so, to prevent Alex- 
ander's prejudice, he presently went to Holyrood House, 
where the king was, and being of a bold temper, did truly 
relate how his and Alexander's affairs stood, showing withal 
that he, as being the occasion of it, was ready to suffer what 
law would exact rather than expose so generous a friend to 
any hazard. King James was so taken with their reciprocal 
heroisms that he not only forgave, but allowed Alexander, 
and of new confirmed Allan in the lands of Moydart."* 
It will be noticed that Alexander Mackenzie of Kintail, 
married Allan's sister, Margaret, as his second wife, but 

* History of the Mackenzies, pp. 51-52, quoting the Earl of Cromartie's MS. 


whether before or after these civilities between them, we 
are not able to determine. 

In 1501, Allan was, with several others of the Clan, sum- 
moned before the Lords of Council to exhibit the rights 
by which he held his lands. He refused to attend, and on 
the loth of December in the same year, a decree was pro- 
nounced against him and the others as follows : The 
Lords of Council decreets and delivers, that the said Ewen 
MacEachainn, does wrong in the occupying of the lands 
of Ardtornish, in the Morvern ; Allan Rory's son, and 
Alexander Allan's son in the occupying of the lands of 
Moydart, &c. ; Allan Ranald's son, Mac lan's son, in the 
occupying of the lands of Knoydart, &c. ; and therefore 
ordains them to desist and cease therefrom, to be enjoyed, 
&c., by the king's highness. 

In addition to his other possessions, Allan Mac Ruari 
claimed the whole of the district of Suinart as tenant under 
John Cathanach of Isla. He never obtained charters for 
his lands, though he ultimately became on very good terms 
with the king, to whose influence in the Highlands he 
latterly, in a great degree, contributed. His heir, Ranald, 
was actually in high favour at court, and succeeded, in 
1505, in bringing a feud between his family and the Mac- 
donalds of Sleat to a successful issue ; for in that year, on 
the 23rd of August, he obtained a charter from John 
Macdonald of Sleat for the lands so long in dispute be- 
tween them.* 

He accompanied his father in a raid against Hucheon 
the Ross of Kilravock, and, his father having been in 
consequence summoned before the king and council, 
Ranald the heir had to be given up as a hostage for the 
father's future good behaviour. While in Edinburgh in 
this position he was highly esteemed by all who knew 
him, and it was on that occasion that he got so much into 
court favour. He is in trouble, however, in 1503, for in 
the Acts of Parliament for that year appears, under date of 

* Reg. Privy Seal, voL iii., fo. 15. 


1 9th March, a memorandum by which it is declared that 
he and several others named have been " forfaulted " in 
their persons and goods. On the 23rd of August, 1505, he 
received a Precept "Viginto octo mcrcatis terrarum de 
Sleit cum castro et fortalicio de Dunskahay, et sexaginta 
mercatis terrarum in Capite Boreali de Ewest, cum 
pertinen," which had belonged to John of Sleat. On the 
7th of June, 1507, the king addressed a letter to him and 
Alexander Macleod of Dunvegan, authorising them to let 
the lands of Lewis and Waternish, which were then under 
forfeiture a further proof of the confidence at that time 
reposed in him by James IV. 

Allan Mac Ruari was the dread and terror of all the 
neighbouring clans. He " had at one time three powerful 
chiefs as prisoners in his fortification of Castletirrim 
Macleod of Macleod, Mackay of Strathnaver, and Mac- 
kintosh of Mackintosh. The two first had in all probability 
quarrelled with him for being in arms against John, Earl 
of Ross, but the cause of his disagreement with Mackintosh 
is curious, and strongly descriptive of the manners of the 
times. Mackintosh had built for himself a castle in an 
island in Loch Moy (now Moyhall). On the day on which 
he first took possession of this castle, he summoned all his 
friends and vassals to partake of a banquet at which an 
Irish harper (in those days constantly strolling about the 
country) was present. After carousing for a considerable 
time, and supporting the ancient hospitality of the country, 
he rose from the table, and, before retiring to rest, expressed 
his happiness at being now, for the first day of /its life, free 
of the dread of Allan Mac Rory, of whom he then con- 
sidered himself quite independent. The Irish harper, in 
the course of his peregrinations, went to Castletirrim, and 
reported the words of Mackintosh. This was sufficient to 
rouse the spirit of the chief; he immediately summoned 
his vassals and travelled by night and rested by day, till 
he came to Lochmoy ; he had carried with him several 
boats made of hides, and easily transported ; these he 
launched under night and stormed the castle. Mackintosh 


was seized in bed, conveyed to Castletirrim, and kept in 
confinement for a year and a day. When he got his 
liberty, Allan advised him ' never to be free from tlie fear of 
Macdonald; and gave him one of his vassals, named 
Macsvvein or Macqueen, as a guide. This man was 
possessed of great prowess and personal strength, and 
Mackintosh prevailed on him to remain with him, and gave 
him a grant of the lands of Coryburgh, which his posterity 
at this moment enjoy. Some time after this, Allan 
required to visit his possessions in the Islands, and sailed 
from Castletirrim with one vassal only ; he was, at the 
time, on the very worst terms with Maclean, the chief of 
the clan Maclean, and had been engaged in hostilities with 
him ; he unfortunately observed him approaching with a 
fleet of ten sail, and seeing no possibility of escape, he 
ordered his men to stretch him out as a corpse, and 
directed them to bear down without any concern towards 
Maclean's squadron. On reaching it, his men com- 
municated the melancholy tidings of the death of their 
chief, whom, they stated, they were conveying to be interred 
with his ancestors in lona, and they were allowed to pass ; 
but before Maclean's return, Allan had overrun a great part 
of his lands, carried away the most valuable part of his 
effects to Castletirrim, and laid west the country."* 

Allan married, first, Florence, daughter of Donald Macian 
of Ardnamurchan, with issue 

1. Ranald, his heir, generally known as Ranald Ban 

2. Alexander, " Portioner of Muidwort," whose son, John 
Moydartach, afterwards became Captain of Clanranald. 
Alexander, according to the History of Clanranald, married 
a daughter of Farquhar XII. of Mackintosh, described as a 
"celebrated beauty". In the recently published History 
of Clan Chattan, p. 169, we are told that a daughter of 
this Farquhar married "Alastair Mac Allan, captain of 
Clan-Ranald ". Alexander's son, John Moydartach, is, 

History of Clanranald, pp. 82-84. 


however, described as a "bastard" in that work throughout, 
and even in the Clanranald History it is curious to notice 
that while in all other instances the chiefs are said to have 
had their sons by their wives, in the case of Alexander, it 
is said, after describing the marriage, that " He left three 
sons and a daughter," of whom John Moydartach is named 
as one. It is not said that all or any of these were by his 
wife. This apparently slight but important distinction 
would probably escape the ordinary reader ; but there it is, 
and it shows that the author had scruples in stating that 
John Moydartach was by Alexander's lawful wife. 

Allan married, secondly, late in life, Isabella, daughter of 
Thomas, fourth Lord Lovat, with issue 

3. Ranald Gallda, who fought and was overthrown at 
the Battle of Blarleine by his nephew, John Moydartach, 
when the latter became de facto chief and Captain of the 

Allan MacRuari was tried and executed before King 
James IV. at Blair Athole (where he was also buried) in 
1 509. This sentence is supposed to have been for the part 
he took in a raid upon Athole under Donald Dubh, who 
made such a stout claim for the Lordship of the Isles, already 
fully described. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Fifth of Moydart, who, as we have seen, took a prominent 
part in public affairs during the lifetime of his father. He 
was very popular, and much esteemed by his vassals, and 
is highly praised by the author of the Red Book of Clan- 
ranald, the family historian, for his excellent qualities. 

He married " a daughter of Roderick Macleod, surnamed 
The Black, tutor to the lawful heir of the Lewis,"* with 
issue, an only son 

I. Dugall, who succeeded him. 

* Hugh Macdonald's MS. Collectanae de Rebus Albanicis. 


2. Anne, who married, first, as his second wife, William 
Dubh Macleod of Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg, with 
j ssuc an only daughter, who married Rory Mor Mackenzie 
of Acha-Ghluineachan, and by her became progenitor of 
the Mackenzies of Fairburn and Achilty. She married, 
secondly, her cousin, Hector Roy Mackenzie, first of 
Gairloch (second son of Alexander " lonraic " Mackenzie, 
VI. of Kintail). Hector was tutor of his nephew, John 
Mackenzie, IX. of Kintail. By his wife, Anne of Clanranald, 
he had four sons, and three daughters, the eldest of whom, 
John Glassich Mackenzie, succeeded as second baron of 

Ranald, like his father, was tried in presence of the king, 
and executed at Perth, for some unrecorded crime, in 1513, 
when he was succeeded by his son, 


Sixth of Moydart, who, for his extreme cruelty and crimes 
against his own kindred, became detested by the clan. He 
was in consequence assassinated, and his sons were formally 
excluded from the succession. He was married, and had 
several lawful sons. " Allan, the eldest son of Dougal, and 
the undoubted heir-male of the Clanranald, acquired the es- 
tate of Morar, which he transmitted to his descendants. He 
and his successors were always styled ' MacDhughail 
Mhorair,' i.e., Macdougal of Morar, from their ancestor, 
Dougal Macranald."* On the death of Dugall MacRanald, 
the command of the clan, with the family estates, was 
given to Alexander Allanson, second son of Allan Mac- 
Ruari, fourth of Clanranald, and uncle of Dugall Mac- 
Ranald, assassinated as above. This position Alexander 
held until his death in 1530. On the exclusion of Dugall's 
heirs, Ranald Gallda, son of Allan MacRuari by Isabella 
Fraser of Lovat, became the nearest male heir, but he 

* Gregory's Highlands and Isles, p. 158. 
24 A 


seems to have taken no steps to assert his rights. This is 
perhaps not to be wondered at, for he and his friends 
might naturally conclude that if the clan passed over the 
nearest legal heirs-male the sons of Dugall MacRanald 
they might with equal justice at least refuse to receive 
and acknowledge as their chief, one whose claim was 
legally not so good, and whose reputation, in so far as it 
had reached them, was not such as they would admire in a 
chief of Clanranald. Indeed, once the clan had deposed 
the legal representative and heir-male, we do not see why 
they were not just as much entitled to choose the elder 
uncle Alexander and his natural son, John Moydartach, as 
they were to choose the younger uncle Ranald Gallda and 
his successors, who, so long as any of Dugall's lawful 
representatives remained, had no legal right to succeed, and 
of whom they knew nothing, as he had from his youth 
been brought up with his mother's family at Lovat, from 
which circumstance they called him Gallda, or the 

Ranald Gallda was never married, but left three natural 
sons, Allan, John, and Alexander, all of whom received a 
charter of legitimation from the crown, dated i8th of June, 
1555; and, on the 28th of January, 1 562, Allan, the eldest son, 
received a gift of the non-entry duties of his father's lands of 
Moydart and Arasaig since his father's death in July, 1544. 
This Allan left one son, Angus, who, as we shall see, after- 
wards claimed and held the lands of Arasaig and Moydart, 
until he was dispossessed of them by Donald, John Moy- 
dartach's grandson, for which act he was forfeited and 
declared a rebel ; but this sentence, on the death of the 
children of Angus a son and a daughter was soon after 
removed. The result of the Battle of Blarleine cleared the 
way from active opposition to John Moydartach, and left 
him in indisputed possession as Captain and actual chief 
of Clanranald of Moydart. How he conducted himself in 
that responsible and honourable position we shall now pro- 
ceed to show. 




Seventh of Clanranald, on the death of his father, Alexander 
MacAllan.who undoubtedlypossessed Moydart, Arasaig,and 
stronghold of Castletirrim, obtained a charter of his father's 
lands from the crown, dated nth February, 1531, in the 
following terms : Carta Joanni Mac Allestear, et haere- 
dibus suis, de omnibus et singulis terris subscript, viz., 
viginti Septem mercat. terrarum de Moydart ; triginta 
mercat. terrarum de Arisaik ; Viginti una mercat. terrarum 
jacen. in Igk, et triginta mercat. terrarum de Skerihoff, 
cum pertinen. jacen. in Oest, infra vicecomitat de Inver- 
ness, quond. Alano Macrory, avo dicti Joannis et suis 
praedeccssoribus in haereditate ab antique pertinuerunt, et 
per ipsos ultra hominum memoriam pacifice possessuerunt, 
et quod ipsorum carts et evidential earundum per guerram 
et perturbationis in provincia amissae et districts existunt. 
Tenend. de Rege, &c., Reddendo, &c. Servitium warde et 
relevii una cum marctagiorum contingerunt, cum clausula 
de non alienationis, absque licentio Regis, testibus ut in 
aliis, dat. Apud Edinb., nth die Februarii, 1531." 

The Glengarry champion in the controversy of 1818-19 
says of this instrument, after stating that Ranald Allanson 
took out charters in his own favour in 1498 and 1505, that 
" a measure, so new and not so well understood, appears to 
have suggested the idea to Ean Moydartach to apply for 
a charter also the better to secure him in his usurped 
possessions. He represented, but he represented falsely, 
that the lands were possessed by him and his predecessors 
past memory of man. He took no notice of the prior 
charters in favour of his uncle, which were on record. The 
crown was willing to get Highland proprietors to acknow- 
ledge a superior, and, without inquiry, granted, in the year 
1531, a charter in his favour proceeding expressly upon 
such narrative. When, however, it came to the knowledge 
of Ranald Allanson that the charter was surreptitiously 
taken out, he, in his turn, made application for having it 


recalled, and succeeded, and got the investitures renewed 
in his own person in 1540, and upon the ground that Ean 
Moydartach's infeftments were obtained ex sinistra unjusta 
informatione* The Clanranald champion, in reply, admits 
the charge and says that " he (Ranald) took out a charter 
of the lands of Arisaig and Moydart on the i/).th December, 
1540. This charter undoubtedly recals a charter granted 
to John of Moydart in 1531, of the same lands, which 1 
have no hesitation in stating was improperly obtained" The 
words of the precept, dated the 1 3th of December, 1 540, 
the day before the date of the charter itself, in favour of 
Ranald Gallda, are, " revocat, cassat, annullat, et exonerat, 
cartam et infeofamentum per ipsum per sinsistrum infor- 
mationem in nostra minori state Johanni Mac Alester, de 
predictis terris. Confectam et conccssam." The charter 
itself is almost in the same words. 

There is a summons of treason against several Highland 
chiefs, dated 26th of April, 1531, and " Johanne Mordord- 
ache de Ellanthorym, Capitaneo de Clanronald," is among 
the number. No serious steps appear to have been taken 
against him in consequence, for it is only ten months after, 
on the 1 1 th of February in the same year, that he obtained 
the charter already quoted.-f The author of the History 
of Clanranald informs us that, not appearing in answer to 
the summons on the 26th of April, the day appointed, it 
was continued till the 28th, and on that day it was again 
continued till the 26th of May. " Further procedure 
appears to have been dropped against him, most probably 
owing to his being reconciled to the King ; for, having 
married Margaret MacKeane, a daughter of Macdonald of 
Ardnamurchan, he, in July, 1534, obtained from the crown 
a charter of the lands of Kildonan, Moy, and others 
in favour of himself and his spouse." The Kildonan 
named was in the Island of Egg.j The same writer says 

* Glengarry and Clanranald Controversy, pp. 68-69. 

t The year in those days began on the 251)1 of March, not on the ist of January 
as at present, so that February is later in the year than April, 
J Reg. Mag. Lib., 25, No. 141. 


of the Precept of the lands in favour of Ranald, above 
quoted, that John " had no opportunity of showing that he 
had a lawful title to the lands, the king having at once 
reduced his charter, without any legal steps whatever ; and 
the consequence was that John resolved to maintain his title, 
and he actually did so in face of all opposition. The in- 
justice done him he severely felt, and this feeling seems to 
have actuated him in almost every action of his life, for at no 
period does he ever seem to have been thoroughly reconciled 
to the king, or rulers of the kingdom ; and the battle of 
Blarleine, and consequent possession of immense estates 
and power enabled him, upon every occasion, to distress 
and harass the government" 

John Moydartach, was a man of unsurpassed capacity 
and talent in diplomacy and war. His " mental endow- 
ments, with his great physical prowess, made him so 
popular that the circumstance of his illegitimacy was 
ignored, and on the death of his father he was unanimously 
elected by the clan to be their captain and chief to the 
exclusion of cousins and his uncle Ranald Gallda, any of 
whom had legally a preferential claim. On the death of 
Allaster (second son of Allan MacRuari), which took place 
in 1530, his bastard son, John Moydartach, a man of un- 
common talent and ability, was acknowledged by the whole 
clan as their chief; and he even succeeded in procuring 
charters to the estates. These he possessed without in- 
terruption, till, with other chiefs, he was apprehended by 
James V. in the course of that king's voyage through the 
Isles in 1540, and placed in prison. Lord Lovat and the 
Frasers then bestirred themselves for the interest of their 
kinsman, Ranald Gallda, and made such representations 
on the subject, that the charters formerly granted to John 
Moydartach were revoked, and the lands granted to Ranald 
Galda, as the heir of his father, Allan MacRuari. The 
existence of prior legal heirs (the sons of Dougal) seems to 
have been carefully concealed ; and, by the assistance of 
the Frasers, Ranald was actually placed in possession of 
the estate, which he held only so long as John Moydartach 


remained in prison ; for immediately on the return of that 
chief to the Highlands he was joined by the whole of the 
Clanranald, including the sons of Dougal, and again ac- 
knowledged as their chief. Ranald, who had lost favour 
with the clan by exhibiting a parsimonious disposition, was 
expelled from Moydart, and forced to take refuge with Lord 
Lovat, who once more prepared to assert the rights of his 
kinsman. The Clanranald, however, did not wait to be at- 
tacked, but, assisted by Ranald MacDonald Glas of Keppoch 
and his tribe, and by the Clanchameron, under their veteran 
leader, Ewin Allanson of Lochiel, they carried the war into 
the enemy's country."* They soon over-ran the lands of 
Stratherrick and Abertarff, belonging to Lord Lovat, the 
lands of Urquhart and Glenmorriston, belonging to the 
Grants, and even possessed themselves of the Castle of 
Urquhart. They plundered indiscriminately the whole 
district, and aimed at a permanent occupation of the in- 
vaded territories. The Earl of Huntly was ultimately sent 
against them with a large force, among whom we find 
Lovat, the Laird of Grant, and Ranald Gallda. On the 
approach of this strong force, the Highlanders of Clan- 
ranald retreated to their mountain fastnesses, leaving Huntly 
and his followers to penetrate through the country without 
any opposition. Ranald Gallda was again, without opposi- 
tion, put in possession of Moydart, while the lands were at 
the same time restored to those who were driven from 
them by Clanranald and their allies. Huntly now returned 
with his followers, accompanied, out of compliment, by 
Ranald Gallda. The Clanranald kept a close watch upon 
their movements, followed them at a distance, overtook them 
at Kinlochlochy, where the desperate Battle of Blarleine was 
fought, on the isth of July, 1544. Lovat, the Master of 
Lovat, and Ranald Gallda, with almost all their followers, 
were slain ; with the result that the Macdonalds of Clan- 
ranald maintained in possession of the estate and chiefship 
a distinguished leader of their own choosing, the famous 

* Gregory, p. 158. 


John Moydartach, against one who possessed greater legal 
claims, and who was supported by all the influence of the 
feudal law. John afterwards transmitted to his descen- 
dants, without serious difficulty, the great possessions which 
he had so bravely won by the sword. 

As to the alleged parsimony and effeminacy of Ranald 
Gallda we find the following reference in the Clanranald 
Family History (pp. 92-93) : " This interference of Lovat 
could ill be brooked by the Macdonalds, and the unlimited 
control which they observed the former to have over his 
young friend, convinced the clan that what they had heard 
of his effeminacy, was but too true, for it was circulated in 
the country that he was a boy, unfit for command or rule. 
A circumstance trifling in itself, tended to strengthen this 
conviction. A day or two after Ranald's arrival at 
Castletirrim, preparations were made for a feast to be 
given to the clan on his succession. Many sheep and 
cattle were slaughtered, and Ranald, observing a great 
number of fires in the court of the castle, and the busy 
faces of the cooks employed in dressing immense quantities 
of victual, inquired the cause of such a scene, when he was 
informed that the ' feast of welcome ' was to be given on 
that day, in honour of his succession ; and, unused to the 
sight of such feasts, and having no idea of such prepara- 
tions, he unfortunately observed that ' a few hens might do 
as well '. Such an observation was not lost upon the clan ; 
they despised the man who could for a moment think of de- 
parting from the ancient practice, apd they were confirmed 
in their belief of his weakness and want of spirit. They rose 
in arms and expelled both him and Lovat from the castle, 
and the feast which was prepared for them served to com- 
memorate the election of John, who was formally declared 
chief of the clan." This occurred on Ranald's first appear- 
ance at Castletirrim, who at the desperate Battle of 
Blarleine amply proved by his heroism that whether the 
charge of parsimoniousness was well founded or not, 
effeminacy had no seat in his soul ; for it is admitted by 


friends and foes that no one exhibited greater bravery and 
determination on that bloody field than he. 

The following is the traditionary account of this san- 
guinary engagement : John Moydartach, guessing the 
route Lovat was likely to take on his way home, marched 
down behind the range of mountains to the north of Loch- 
lochy, and encamped on the night previous to the battle 
in a glen among the hills immediately behind the farm 
of Kilfinnan, near a small loch, called Lochan-nam-bata, 
the loch of the staves. In the muddy margin of this little 
loch, the Moydart men left their staves on the morning of the 
battle, that by the number of unclaimed ones they might 
ascertain their losses in the impending struggle. Such is 
said to be the origin of the name. On the morning of the 
day of battle, they encamped out of sight at Lochan-nam- 
bata, till of a sudden they descended like birds of prey 
from their eyry, on the morning of the I5th. This is 
probable, as it was John Moydartach's best policy to con- 
ceal his forces till Lovat was in a position in which he 
could not decline battle against superior numbers. The 
Frasers numbered about three hundred men. The Clanranald 
brought five hundred warriors to the field. This disparity, 
sufficiently great to begin with, became greater, as 
Lovat found it necessary to detach fifty of his men, under 
command of his Lieutenant, Beathan Cleireach, to secure a 
safe retreat in case of discomfiture, which he apprehended 
owing to the disparity between the combatants. John 
Moydartach's tactics proved successful. Just as Lovat 
with his followers arrived at the east end of Loch Lochy, 
he descended with his grim warriors from the hills right 
opposite ; a movement, judging from the distance, which 
could be performed in a very short time. Lovat was now 
fully alive to the error he had committed in not accepting 
Huntly's preferred escort, but it was now too late. He 
had no alternative but to accept the chances of battle. 
Accordingly he made the best diposition of his forces, by 
placing the gentlemen of his little army, who were well 
armed, in front, and the others in the rear. The day was 


unusually hot. To ease themselves as much as possible, 
they prepared for the conflict by stripping themselves of 
their upper raiment all but their shirts and kilts. Hence 
the name Blarlcine, or Blar-nan-leine, by which this battle 
is known among the Highlanders. The fight began with 
a discharge of arrows the usual mode of Highland warfare 
in those times and when their arrows were expended, the 
struggle was carried on hand to hand with the sword. 
From the allusion to gunpowder, in the following lines, 
adapted to a pibroch composed in commemoration of this 
action, we infer that fire-arms must have been used at 
least to some extent : 

Fhriseilich a chail chaoil, 
Fhriseilich a chail chaoil, 
Fhriseilich a chail chaoil. 
Thugaibh am bmthach oirbh. 

Chloinn Domhnuil an fhraoich, 
Chloinn Domhnuil an fhraoich, 
Chloinn Domhnuil an fhraoich, 
Cuiribh na 'n siubhal iad. 

Luaidhe chruinn ghorm, 
Luaidhe chruinn ghorm, 
Luaidhe chruinn ghorm, 
'S fudar 'cur siubhal ri. 

The battle was fought from mid-day till late in the after- 
noon, and consisted latterly of isolated single combats. 
Both sides fought with determined courage, neither side 
yielding until of the Frasers only four remained un- 
wounded, and of the Clanranald eight. The others were 
either dead or disabled. Ranald Gallda was accounted the 
best swordsman of all that fought in this well-contested field. 
Many of the foe fell beneath his powerful weapon ; and it 
was more by stratagem than by strength or skill, that he 
was disabled towards the close of the struggle. Two 
noted Moydart warriors, father and son, fought under the 
banner of their chief. The son, known by the soubriquet 
of " An Gille maol dubh," while peforming deeds of valour 
himself, had his eye upon his aged sire, marking how, as 
foe after foe fell beneath the weapon of Ranald Gallda, that 
warrior came nearer and nearer to his father. The two 
at length joined in deadly strife. The older combatant 
gave ground before his more vigorous rival on observing 



which, the " Gille maol dubh " exclaimed, " 'S beag orm 
ceum air ais an t-seann duine," I like not the backward 
step of an old man. The father replied, " A' bheil thusa 'n 
sin a Ghille mhaoil duibh, ma tha bi 'n so'." Are you there, 
if so be here ; whereupon the son stepped forward and took 
his father's place at the moment when the latter had fallen 
mortally wounded. For a time the contest was doubtful, 
but finding himself overmatched by the skill and prowess 
of his opponent, the " Gille maol dubh " exclaimed, " Cha 
bhi mi 'm brath foille 's tu, seall air do chulthaobh," I won't 
take advantage of you, look behind. Apprehending 
treachery, Ranald instinctively turned round, and in the act 
of doing so the Moydart man felled him to the ground. 
This ended the fray. Ranald Gallda dead, as it was 
thought, John Moydartach had nothing to fear from him ; 
nor the Erasers anything further to contend for ; and the 
few that survived unscathed on either side sullenly with- 
drew from what may be called a drawn battle. Lovat, 
his eldest son the Master, and Ranald Gallda, with eighty 
gentlemen of the Frasers, besides others of less note, 
had fallen. At the outset, as both sides were about to 
give battle, to Lovat's grief he was joined by the Master, a 
youth of great promise just returned from abroad. He 
had been strictly charged by his father not to take part in 
the expedition, and accordingly remained at home after its 
departure. But stung by the taunts of a step-mother, who 
insinuated cowardice, she secretly hoping his fall might 
make way for advancement of her own son ; the gallant 
youth chose twelve trusty companions, followed his father 
and clan, and arrived at Kinlochlochy in time to take part 
in the fight which brought him to an untimely end. There 
is, right opposite the battlefield of Dalruari, where the pre- 
sent road curves westward towards the farm house of 
Kilfinnan, a hillock, still known by the name of Cnocan- 
oich-oich. Oich ! in Gaelic is expressive of pain. On this 
hillock, at the time the battle was fought, there was a 
hostelry, and a barn adjoining, into which many of the 
wounded were carried to have the benefit of such medical 


skill as was then available. Into this barn Ranald Gallda, 
dangerously wounded, was, with others, carried. During the 
night, the surviving Macdonalds indulged largely in pota- 
tions of " mountain dew," were jubilant over the discomfi- 
ture of the Frasers, and boasted of their own individual 
feats in arms. Ranald Gallda, who overheard their conver- 
sations, unwisely remarked " that there was one Macdonald, 
who had he been alive, might well have boasted of his 
prowess ; and that had he himself been what he was that 
morning, he would encounter them all single handed, 
rather than that one brave man had fallen that day 
beneath his sword." This unguarded remark discovered 
who their wounded prisoner was. Irritated by the taunt, 
they bribed the leech who dressed the wound to thrust his 
needle into his brain when dressing his head. Thus 
perished Ranald Gallda by the hands of his own clan a 
man whose capacity as well as prowess deserved a better 
fate at their hands. The loss sustained by the Frasers, 
great as it was, would have been still more disastrous to 
the clan but for a remarkable circumstance which we 
have upon the authority both of Buchanan and Sir Robert 
Gordon, that the wives of the slain Frasers almost all of 
them subsequently gave birth to sons. This is corro- 
borated by more than one of the Clan historians. And 
while some slight margin may be allowed for more or less 
exaggeration if such there be we have no reason to 
doubt the substantial accuracy of the testimony of these 

Another version differs from the above in some details, 
and it deserves a place here, though we hesitate to believe 
the part attributed to the heroic John Moydartach in the 
death scene of his brave relative, Ranald Gallda. *\fter 
some lengthy remarks as to the incidents which led up 
to the battle, of the same character as those already set 
forth, the chronicle proceeds : Among the Macdonalds 
there was an old man who had seven sons by his first 
wife, and one by a second, who was still a youth. This 

* The Rev. Alex. Sinclair, M.A., in the Celtic Magazine. 


person was himself a powerful and a skilful swordsman, 
and his seven sons were not inferior to their stern and 
stalwart father, either in strength or dexterity in the 
use of their weapons. The Macdonalds had proceeded 
on their march with great celerity, and some of them 
were outrun in the race; but when they mustered their 
numbers on the top of the hill of North Laggan, ere they 
descended into the plain, the old man found that he was 
not only surrounded by his seven sons by his first, but 
also attended by a youth, the only son by a second wife 
whom he passionately loved, and whom he could not think 
of leaving behind him, in the event of his fall in the battle, 
bereaved of her only son. He therefore tried all his powers 
of persuasion, but in vain, to induce the youth to return 
home. At length, determined to try the effect of taunts, 
since other means had failed, he exclaimed in accents of 
coarse severity, " I hate to see in battle a beardless youth, 
escaped from the spoon-feeding care of your mother!" The 
youth said nothing, but descended into the field of battle 
by the side of his veteran and determined father. When 
Lovat issued from the wood of Letterfinlay, on the broad 
field of Culross, he saw the Macdonalds drawn up in line 
with their right wing resting on the head of Lochlochy, and 
their left on a marsh below the house of Kinloch, thus cut- 
ting off his route to his own country by Shian and Laggan. 
He was now again strongly advised, by one of the patriarchs 
of his clan, to ascend the hill slantingly, above Kinloch, and 
cross by Corryshian, into Glenroy, and, by this route, to 
rejoin the Macintoshes, and to proceed to his own country 
by Moyhall. But Lovat and his brave clan were by far 
too proud and high-minded "to fly from an unfoughten 
field," and so he immediately advanced to plunge into 
battle; but the day being extremely hot, and seeing that the 
Macdonalds had stripped, as had been the wont of the clan 
when fighting in their own country (as on the day of the 
battle of the Grampians and that of Killiecrankie), he ordered 
his clan to strip also. Hence this memorable clan engage- 
ment is called the battle of Blairleine the field of shirts. 


The space on which this bloody clan-battle was fought 
did not exceed half a mile square, being bounded on the 
one side by Lochlochy, on the other side by the bog already 
mentioned, and on the other two sides, by the hills of 
Kinloch and Kilianan. This space is now partly covered 
by the loch, which has been embanked at Gairlochy, and so 
deepened, and thrown eastward ; and also by the Caledon- 
ian Canal ; but the two hillocks to which the wounded and 
the dying are said to have crawled from the field are still 
visible, the one on the south, and the other on the north 
side of the glen ; but both now are almost covered by the 
head of the loch. The one was called Cnocan nan creuclid, 
and the other, Cnocan oich-oicli ! names very appropriate 
for the stations of wounded men. 

Ranald Gallda, young, powerful, and active, and a perfect 
master of the science of swordmanship, was determined to 
requite upon the loftiest crests in the Macdonald band the 
insults and the contempt of which he had been the object, 
and the now deliberate usurpation of his title, office, and 
rights, as chief of his clan, by his uncle. Resolved to bring 
the stern question between them to the arbitrement of a 
personal conflict, he overlooked every meaner object of 
vengeance, and made incredible exertions to meet him in 
the battle ; but cool, wary, and skilful, John of Moydart, 
surrounded by his leine-chrios, or shirt of mail, as the body 
guard of a Highland chief has ever been called, seemed to 
decline or to overlook his nephew's repeated attempts to 
come into contest with him, and traversed the field, wher- 
ever his presence was needed here restoring order in his 
own ranks, and there beating the enemy to the ground. 
But not unscathed did this devoted band move through the 
ranks of the enemy, though everywhere attended by victory. 
The swords of Ranald Gallda and his gallant relative, 
Lovat, who, with his leine-chrios never lost sight of his 
young, brave, and distinguished nephew distinguished not 
less by his lofty and commanding stature, than his irresist- 
ible sword were cutting them to the ground, one by one, 
until, of these gallant bands, composed of the choice 


warriors of both clans, none were left but Ranald Gal Ida 
and the old veteran formerly mentioned. The old man saw 
four of his gigantic and brave sons cut down before his 
eyes, by Lovat and Ranald Gallda, while he himself was 
compelled to stand fixed to the spot, like a chained lion, 
over the prostrate body of his chief, John of Moydart, who 
had fallen severely wounded, to guard it from further 
injury, until removed from the field ; the other three 
had fallen at an early period of the engagement. The 
wounded chief having been carried away, the old man, 
inflamed with feelings of the most deadly hate and revenge 
against Ranald Gallda, now assailed him with terrible 
fury, but finding himself baffled by the skilful swordsman- 
ship of Ranald, and feeling his own inferiority, if not in 
strength, at least in quickness and agility of action, he 
changed from the offensive to the defensive, and while 
parrying the dexterous strokes and thrusts of his opponent, 
was slyly giving ground, inch by inch, thus, in his politic 
retreat, drawing his opponent towards the Macdonald side 
of the field. At this moment, his youngest son, by his 
second marriage (who had been separated from him, and 
was running in great anxiety and distress, over the now 
comparatively silent and deserted field of battle, looking 
for his father) made his appearance ; and, either not com- 
prehending the motive of the retreating steps of the 
veteran, or still remembering with some indignation, the 
taunt of the morning, exclaimed, " I hate the sight which 
meets my eye, the backward steps of an old man in battle !" 
and he instantly dashed in, sword and target in hand, 
between the old man and Ranald, calling out " Cothrum 
na Feinne" the equal combat of the Fingalians being the 
usual pledge in a fair field and no favour, among the clans. 
Though equal in courage to his opponent, yet the youth 
was far his inferior in strength and skill in the use of his 
weapon. This was evident to the old man at a glance, 
and his feelings of hatred and revenge against Ranald 
Gallda being now excited to madness, by alarm for his 
young, gallant, and only remaining son, a demon thought 


entered his heart, and he called out, " I will not be a 
traitor to you, Ranald, they are at you behind !" Ranald, 
thrown off his guard, in the impulse of the moment looked 
behind him, and was instantly cut down by the old man, 
who raised a shout of triumph that communicated the 
fall of Ranald Gallda to friends and foes over all the 

Lovat and Ranald Gallda down, and but few, indeed, of 
their chivalrous and gallant clan now left, the survivors 
determined, if possible, to make good their retreat, and 
draw off to the south-east corner of the field, where they 
still formed a small band of brothers and kinsmen. But 
the remnant of the Macdonalds, though in number scarcely 
exceeding their own, were excited and exasperated into 
fury by the resistance they had met, and the loss the 
irremediable loss all and each of them had sustained 
in kinsmen and brothers, dear and precious to their hearts, 
on the fatal field of Blair-leine. They, accordingly, 
mustered all their strength on the opposite side of the 
field, and prepared for a new, a last, and an exterminating 
assault on the remnant of the Frasers, who seeing that all 
further resistance was aimless, if not hopeless, fled with 
precipitation through the great glen of Albyn, towards 
their now bereaved country and families ; but such was the 
inveteracy and determination of the vengeful Macdonalds, 
that they followed in hot pursuit, slaying all whom they 
could overtake on the way, for the distance of about ten 

In the meantime Ranald Gallda was carried, still alive, 
from the field, and laid on a bed in a hut by the side of 
Cnocan oich-oich, while a wild, hair-brained personage, who 
was alternately the prophet and the leech of the clan, after 
having examined the wound, proceeded to report the state 
of the case to John of Moydart. " Will he live ? " enquired 
the chief, with a kindling eye and husky voice, casting a 
look of intelligence at the leech. " He might live," replied 
the wretch, " but so small is his hold of life that the point 
of the dealg (pin) which fastens your plaid were sufficient to 


send him to eternity, for his brain is laid open by the wound." 
The chief drew the dealg in silence, from his plaid, and 
handed it to the leech, who with a fiendish smile on his thin 
and haggard face, instantly entered the hut, where he found 
the old man and the youth, his son, watching over the 
apparently unconscious chief, and bathing his couch with 
their tears a change of feeling not uncharacteristic of the 
wild, passionate, but kind warm-hearted Highland warrior 
of the olden time. 

The leech approached the bed and tried, with a gentle 
hand, to remove the dirk, a weapon which the young chief 
loved, and which, somehow or other, he had contrived to 
draw from its sheath as he was being carried from the field ; 
but he found that the attempt was discovered, and that 
Ranald Gallda had still sufficient strength to resist him. 
The old man observed the attempt of the leech, and the 
tightening grasp of the chief on his dagger, and said 
fiercely, " Why dost thou want to disarm his hand ? Can'st 
thou not examine and bind up the wound without removing 
the dirk ? " " I like not," said the leech, " to exercise my 
skill on armed men ; but if thou wilt remove the weapon, 
I will do all I can to relieve him, although I fear there is 
little chance of his recovery, the strongest arm of the 
Clanranald having addressed his trenchant blade to his 

The old man groaned in the inmost core of his heart, and 
said, " Would that that arm had been in the grave ere it 
aimed the accursed blow at his head ; but alas, alas, no man 
need now fear the dirk of the heroic chief. Do thou 
examine the wound, and if you canst but cure and set him 
again on his feet, thou mayst ever count on an unfailing 
friend in me, and every man who will adhere to me in his 

The leech, in seeming compliance, made the old man and 
his son draw back from the bed, and leaned over the chief 
in the apparent examination of the wound. Ranald Gallda 
gave a convulsive start ; the leech shrunk back in alarm, 
but with the quickness of lightning, Ranald's dirk was 


buried in his heart ; and, with this last act of just vengance, 
Ranald Gallda ceased to live. 

John Moydartach is soon after engaged with the neigh- 
bouring clans, particularly the Erasers and Mackintoshes. 
" The battle of Blarleine had not been forgotten by Lovat, 
and he and Mackintosh took every opportunity of distress- 
ing him ; the Earl of Sutherland, too, prompted perhaps by 
the wish of sharing part of John's inheritance, was an active 
but secret instigator of all disputes and the consequence 
was that a warfare was constantly carried on. In this 
John was supported by the whole of his clan, particularly 
Glengarry, and the Lairds of Knoydart and Morar. The 
irresolute conduct of the Regent of the Kingdom, and the 
universal sway which the Earl of Huntly, then Lieutenant 
of the North, had over the neighbourhood, contributed in 
no small degree to keep alive the animosity which then 
existed. Huntly's ambition was unbounded ; his lands 
marched with those of the Clanranald in several parts, and 
could he have succeeded in reducing their power, there is 
little doubt but he would have reaped the whole benefit of 
the enterprise. Inroads were mutually made, and with vari- 
ous success, till the year 1554, when the Regent having 
resigned the government of the kingdom into the Queen 
Dowager's hands, and peace being for a time settled with 
the English, the Queen Regent and governor set about the 
internal settlement of the kingdom. Huntly was active in 
representing the conduct of John in its most unfavourable 
light, and he was at last despatched to bring him to the 
Queen Regent. He collected his own clan, the Gordons, 
as well as the Erasers and Mackintoshes, and marched 
forward to Moydart, into which he partly penetrated. 
John, in the meantime, was not inactive ; he summoned 
the clan, and opposed Huntly with such a force as com- 
pletely intimidated him. No action of any importance 
was fought, as it was alleged by Huntly that the Clan 
Chattan raised a tumult in the camp, which compelled him 
to retire. Be this as it may, Huntly, having completely 
failed in the enterprise, was committed to the Castle of 



Edinburgh, and was severely attacked by his enemies ; 
who averred that the failure originated, not in the behaviour 
of the Clan Chattan, but in Huntly himself having a dislike 
to Mackintosh, the chief of that clan. When it is con- 
sidered that Huntly was at that time one of the most 
powerful noblemen in the kingdom, and that his strength 
lay in the very neighbourhood, it can hardly be supposed 
that the defection of the Clan Chattan would have com- 
pelled him to retire ; and when, again, it is observed that 
Huntly at all times had a dislike to the Clanranald, and 
that the recent battle of Blairleine must have tended to 
strengthen that dislike, it is far less to be supposed that he 
would have favoured their cause. The more natural 
supposition is, that he saw the strength of John was such as 
to give him little chance of success, and he threw the blame 
of the defeat upon the Clan Chattan, while his enemies 
averred that he acted disloyally. This enterprise having 
completely failed, the Queen Regent was extremely in- 
dignant ; she shortly afterwards proceeded to Inverness, 
and held assizes, to which she summoned John, and the 
heads of those collateral branches of the clan who supported 
him ; but they refused to obey the summons, unless assured 
of their safety. John Stewart, Earl of Athole, was des- 
patched against them in July 1555. Athole was rather 
favourably inclined towards the Clanranald, and promised 
pardon and protection to them. John was induced to go 
to Inverness with several of his sons ; he had been but a 
short time there when, fearing treachery, he made his escape 
to Castletirrim. On his way he was attacked by Mackintosh 
and the Clan Chattan, whom he beat off; but having but 
few followers, he could not attempt any retaliation upon 
them. He very shortly afterwards became reconciled to 
the Queen Regent, and returned to Inverness. While 
there he became acquainted with Penelope, second 
daughter of Sir Charles Erskine, who was third son of 
Alexander, Viscount Fenton, and (his former wife, Mariatte 
M'Kane, being dead) married her in the year 1555."* 

* History of the Family, 1819, pp. 101-103. 


In 1547, John was commanded, among other Highland 
chiefs, to assemble at Fallow Muir to resist the English, 
who came to enforce the performance of a treaty of mar- 
riage which had previously been entered into for the 
marriage of Queen Mary with the heir to the English 
crown. John not only refused to go, but prevented all 
his retainers from doing so ; and his influence was suffi- 
cient among the clan to induce the other leading chiefs 
and their followers to do the same. After the battle of 
Blarlcine, the Earl of Huntly returned North with a strong 
force, when he laid a great part of the country waste, and 
apprehended many of the principal leaders of the clans, 
some of whom he put to death. Among the latter were 
Ewin Allanson of Lochiel and Ranald Macdonald, son of 
Donald Glas of Keppoch, who were tried for high treason, 
for the part they had taken at the battle of Blarlcine and 
in the rebellions of the Earl of Lennox. These were tried 
by a jury of landed gentlemen, found guilty, for a short 
time imprisoned in the Castle of Ruthven, and then be- 
headed. Their heads were exposed over the gates of the 
town of Elgin, Many of the others apprehended at the same 
time were ignominiously hanged. John Moydartach does 
not appear on this occasion to have opposed Huntly, but 
is said to have taken shelter in the Isles, from which he 
returned as soon as the Earl of Huntly left the North, and 
retaliated on Huntly's neighbouring property and friends, 
by plundering and wasting their territories. 

In 1548, the Highlanders, who refused to assemble at 
Fallow Muir, and who still remained outlaws, seem to have 
been pardoned, in consequence of the disastrous results of 
the battle of Pinky, on more favourable terms than they 
could reasonably have expected in the circumstances. 
John Moydartach shared in this clemency. We find a 
respite, dated 26th of August, 1548, in favour of " Jhone 
Muyduart MacAlester, Captaine of Clanranald ; Angus 
MacAlester, his brother ; Rorye MacAlester ; Allan Mac- 
Alester, sons to Jhone Muyduart ; Alester MacAne vie 
Alester of Glengarie ; Alester MacDowell vie Rynell ; 


Angus MacAngus Moir ; Angus MacAllane vie Ranald of 
Knovvdart ; Allane Owge MacAlester vie Allane ; Alester 
MacDonald vie Ane of Ardmowarche ; Angus MacAlester 
vie Angus ; Donald MacAlester vie Kane ; Allan Mac- 
Person vie Alester ; Donald Moir MacAne vie Illane, for 
yr treasonable remaining and abyding at hame fra our 
Soverane Ladyis oist and army, devisit and ordanit to 
convene upon Fallow-mure, ye last day of August ye zeir 
of God Jm. Vc., xlvii. [1547] zers for resisting of the Pro- 
tector of Ingland and his army, yam beand wt'in yis 
realme for destruction of ye lieges yrof, and for the 
slauchter of ye Lord Lovet and his complices at [Blarleine] 
ye yeir of God Jm. Vc. forty [four] zeris ; and for all 
actions, &c., and for xix. zers to endure. At Mussclburgh, 
ye xxvi. day of August, the zere of God Jm. Vc. xlviii. 
zeris. Per Signatarum."* In spite of the leniency dis- 
played towards him on this occasion, John could not give 
up his habits of war and pillage. He had little faith in 
the government, and he probably thought it much safer 
for himself and his clan, in their almost inaccessible wilds, 
to resist a power which he could not help seeing was, ^t 
this period, fast falling into decay. 

At Inverness, on the 24th of August, 1552, we find a 
Commission, under the great seal, granted by Mary Queen 
of Scots, with the advice of James, Duke of Chatelherault, 
Earl of Arran, and Lord Hamilton, Protector and Gover- 
nor of the Kingdom, to Archibald, Earl of Argyll, Lord 
Campbell and Lorn, and Justice General of Scotland, 
which proceeds, " that notwithstanding the said Governor 
has remained for a long time dispensing justice in the 
Burgh of Inverness, the Clanranald nevertheless refused 
obedience to Her Majesty's authority and laws, with the 
other subjects of the kingdom ; wherefore Her Majesty 
gives full power to the said Earl of Argyll to assemble his 
friends and vassals, and with them go to Clanranald, and 
to pursue them with fire and sword, and within whatever 
islands they may seek refuge, for their disobedience, dcpre- 

* Privy Seal, vol. xxii. , folio 27. 


dations, and murders."* Queen Mary of Guise, at this 
time in France, soon after came to Scotland, succeeded 
Arran as Protector, and became vested with full authority. 
She immediately ordered Huntly north with another ex- 
pedition for the express purpose of apprehending the 
Captain of Clanranald, and putting an end to his violent 

In June, 1554, the Earls of Huntly and Argyll "were 
ordered to proceed, by sea and land, to the utter exter- 
mination of the Clanranald," and others who had failed to 
give hostages for their good conduct. Argyll proceeded 
to the Isles, while Huntly with a large force, composed of 
Lowlanders and Highlanders, proceeded to attack Clan- 
ranald. Both failed in the object of their expedition, 
Huntly, because the Highlanders were so much exasperated 
against Huntly for his execution of William Mackintosh 
of Mackintosh in 1550, that the Earl declined to face Clan- 
ranald with such an army, after which he disbanded his 
forces and returned home. He was, in consequence, com- 
mitted to the prison of Edinburgh, by the Regent, and did 
not obtain his liberty until he had renounced among other 
lucrative grants which he had recently acquired, the Earl- 
doms of Mar and Moray, and the gift of the ward and 
marriage of Mary Macleod, heiress of Harris, Dunvegan, 
and Glenelg ; while he became bound to banish himself to 
France for five years ; but this latter condition was re- 
moved on payment to the Regent of a sum of 5000. 

Gregory, describing the Earl of Athole's expedition to 
the North in 1555, says that Athole succeeded so well with 
John, Captain of Clanranald, " that he prevailed upon that 
restless chief, with two of his sons, and certain of his kins- 
men, to come before the Regent, and submit themselves 
to her clemency. Mary of Guise, pleased with their sub- 
mission, pardoned them their past offences ; but ordered 
them, in the meantime, to remain, some at Perth, and others 
at the Castle of Methven, till her will should be further 
declared to them. After remaining, however, in these 

* Invernessiana, p. 223. 


places for a short time, the Highlanders made their escape 
to their native mountains ; giving the Regent a lesson, as 
a Scottish annalist [Balfour] quaintly observes, ' to hold the 
fox better by the ear while she had him in her hands '. 
This result of her mistaken lenity roused the Regent to 
greater exertions, and determined her to proceed next year 
in person to the North, to hold Justice Courts for the 
punishment of great offenders, and thus to prevent misrule 
in time coming. Accordingly, in the month of July, 1556, 
Mary of Guise arrived at Inverness, accompanied by the 
Earls of Huntly, Argyll, Athole, and Marischal, and the 
Bishops of Ross and Orkney, with others of the Privy 
Council. Here Courts were held, and offenders were 
visited with the most severe punishment the chiefs of 
clans being obliged to apprehend and present to justice 
the criminals of their own tribes, according to the wise 
regulations by James V., which during the late wars, had 
fallen into desuetude. As John Moydartach is not men- 
tioned at all by Lesley in his account of this progress of 
the Queen Regent to the North, it seems probable that 
this arch-rebel had escaped the punishment which awaited 
him by flying to the more remote Isles."* 

When Queen Mary visited Inverness in September, 1 563, 
and was denied access to the Castle, John, Captain of 
Clanranald, made his appearance with a numerous re- 
tinue, and was among the foremost, with the Mackintoshes, 
Frasers, and Munroes, to protect the Queen, whom he ac- 
companied for some distance on her return journey ; and 
he appears to have continued firm in his loyalty during the 
remainder of his life. In 1 566, he obtained a remission for 
past offences for himself, his sons, and all those who had 
taken part in his rebellious proceedings, dated 3d of March, f 

* Highlands and Isles, pp. 185-186, 

t The document (Privy Seal, vol. xxxv., p. 10), is as follows: Preceptum remis- 
sionis Johannis MacAlister, alias Moydart, Capitanei de Clanranald ; Allan Mac- 
Ane Vic Alestar, ejus filii ; Johannis Dig MacAne Vic Alestair, etiam ejus filii ; 
Rorie MacAne Vic Alestar, etiam sui filii ; Angusii MacAne Vic Alestar. etiam filii 
dicti Johannis ; Donaldi Gorme MacAne Vic Alester, etiam sui filii ; Alani Mac- 
Cawell Vic Rannald de Moroure, Angusii MacAllane Mac Rannald de Knoydert, 


The following corroborates the authorities already 
quoted: "In 1532 King James V. granted a charter of 
legitimation in favour of John Makalcster of Castletirrim, 
the son of the deceased Alexander M'Alane of Castletirrim, 
and in the same year, for the good service done and to be 
done by him, and seeing that the charters granted to his 
predecessors had been destroyed through war and other 
local disturbances, granted anew to him and to his heirs 
the 27 mark lands of Moydart, the 30 mark lands of 
Arisaik, and other lands in the Sheriffdom of Inverness, 
which of old belonged in heritage to Allan Makrory, the 
grandfather of John Makalestar of Castletirrim, and to his 
predecessors, and now to be held of the king in fee for ser- 
vice of ward, relief, and marriage, provided that John Mak- 
alcster and his heirs should not do homage to any person 
without the special licence of the king. In 1534, John 
M'Allaster Vic Allan, captain of the Clanranald, granted 
to Archibald, Earl of Argyll, the two Kinluthes, Aernie, 
Glenalladill, Blyng, and Shenan, together of the old extent 
of 10 marks, in the barony of Moydart. In the same year 
the granter of these lands appears as John M'Alester 
M'Allan of Elanterim, captain of the Clanranald. In 
1538, King James V. granted to Alane M'Coule M'Ran 
nald, and his brother Lauchlane M'Coule M'Rannald, the 
nonentry and other dues of 14 mark lands of Morowre and 
7 mark lands in Awrissaig, and other lands, in the sheriff- 
dom of Inverness. In 1 540, the same king granted the 
nonentry and other dues of the same lands to Archibald, 
Earl of Ergile, the lands, according to the grant, having 
been in the king's hands since the decease of John Mak- 
angus Reoch Makranald. In the same year he granted to 

Angusii Mac Alestar Vic Ane de Glengary ; Rorie, ejus fratris ; Gone, ejus fratris ; 
Alane, etiani sui fratris ; et Johannis Mac Condochie Cowill, pro ipsorum prodi- 
toria, remanentia, et domi existentia, ab exercitu apud Falew Muir, et ab hinc ad 
Maxwell Heuch migratione ; pro resistentia antiquorum inimicorum Anglic, in 
mense Octobris anno domino millesimo quingentesimo quartuagestimo septimo, 
convenire ordinal ; nee non ab omnibus alliis actionibus criminibus, transgression- 
ibus, et offunsionibus, per ipsos vel eorum aliquem, aliquibus temporibus preteritis 
preceden. diem date presentiam commiss. et perpetrat. Apud Edinburgh, tertio 
die mensis Marcij, anno Domini prescript. (1566) per signeturn." 



Ranald Alanesoun, styled Galda, the dues of the 27 mark 
lands of Moydert, and the 24 mark lands of Arissaik, in 
the Sheriffdom of Inverness, which were in the king's 
hands since the decease of Alane Rorisoun, Ranald's father. 
At the same time, on the narrative that it appeared that 
the deceased Alan Rorysoun of Moydert, the father of 
Ranald Alanesoun, and his predecessors had been heritably 
infeft in the same lands, and that all their charters had 
been lost or destroyed through disturbances in that district, 
in consequence of which Ranald could never obtain entry 
as his father's heir, King James V. granted him the lands 
anew, and revoked a grant of them made in his minority to 
John Makalester on sinister and unjust information, and all 
other grants of the same lands which he had given to any 
other persons. Ranald died in 1544, and in 1563 Queen 
Mary granted to his son Allane Makrannald, the dues of 
the 30 marks of Mwdart, and the 30 marks of Arissak, and 
other lands, which were in her hands since his father's 
decease." * 

In 154$, John MacAlister, Captain of Clanranald, and 
Angus Ranaldson of Knoydart, are found among the 
Council of Donald Dubh, who had only a short time pre- 
viously been proclaimed and acknowledged by all the 
Macdonalds as Lord of the Isles. 

John was undoubtedly one of the most distinguished 
warriors and leaders of the whole Macdonald race, and by 
his brilliant talents and his consummate skill and bravery 
in the field, he raised himself to the highest position in the 
clan ; while his regard for, and attention to, his own more 
immediate retainers ensured for him their warmest respect 
and admiration. The most distinguished leaders of the 
other branches of the race of Somerled acknowledged his 
surpassing ability, and followed him in all his proceedings 
against the common enemy ; and he never failed, when 
procuring any personal favours, to include those who joined 
him in his dangerous exploits. During the last twenty 
years of his life he appears to have lived quietly, unmolested 

* Origines Pariochales Scotia:, vol. ii. , pp. 202-203. 


and unmolesting, among his devoted people ; for, in com- 
mon with the rest of the Highlanders, he scarcely felt any 
interest in that period of Scottish history, during which the 
proceedings of Mary Queen of Scots, her marriages, capti- 
vity, and death, so much absorbed the attention of the 
southern part of the kingdom. 

He married, first, Marriate Macian of Ardnamurchan, 
with issue 

1. Allan, his heir. 

2. John Og, who married his cousin, Sheela, or Julia 
Macdonald,* with issue one son, Alexander, progenitor of 

3. Roderick, who died unmarried. 

* In the Clanranald Family History, p: 107, John Og is said to have been un- 
married, and his only son, Alexander, is described as a " natural son, of whom the 
families of Glennlladale and Borrodale, now [1819] represented by John Mac- 
donald, Esq." We are not at all surprised to find such a statement inserted, for 
selfish and spiteful reasons, in a work where so many attempts are made to falsify 
the facts as to the legitimacy of John Moydartach and others. It will surprise no 
one to find in a work where whole generations are passed over, and others made to 
live whole generations after they were in their graves in spite of dates and irrefrag- 
able charters, and with the clear intention of blinding the reader as to the natural 
origin of the famous Ian Muidartach no scruples against bastardising those of 
legitimate birth. Having made enquiries, among others, of Mr. Alexander Mac- 
donald, wine merchant, Inverness, one of the present representatives of Glenaladale, 
we have received permission to publish the following letter from the Rev. Donald 
Macdonald, Glenfinnan. Writing to his brother, he says: "In reply to your 
reference to page 107 of the History of Clanranald, I have simply to say, what you 
already know, that the assertion of illegitimacy there stated, is a most malicious 
untruth, put in for a purpose. The author of it, Macdonald of Dalilea, who was 
married to an aunt, had a quarrel with our father. By means of his acquaintance 
with the authors of the book, he gratified his spite, during the publication, by mis- 
leading them into this error, which he knew at the time to be false, and afterwards 
confessed openly. When the book appeared in print, he was suspected of it and 
accused, and afterwards, when my father and he became better friends, he made a 
clean breast of it. At the same time, he promised my father to have it corrected in 
the next edition, with a full confession of its incorrectness, but no second edition 
was ever issued. Such an assertion was never made before nor since by any other ; 
and it is in direct contradiction to the genealogy of the family. The trick occurred in 
our time, and we are still living testimonies to his confession of the crime and retrac- 
tation that is, though ourselves too young at the time to understand it, we received 
it afterwards by hearing the above stated and talked over frequently by our father, 
oldest brother, and sisters, in whose time and vivid recollection it occurred. Mr. 
Mackenzie then has more than abundant reason for not repeating this error in his 
forthcoming work, as it is, first, in contradiction to the family genealogy, and, 
second, the author of it confessed his motive for inventing it." Burke, who accepts 
the History here referred to as his authority throughout, reproduces the error 
that John Og was unmarried, in several editions. 



4. Angus ; and 5, Donald Gorm, who died unmarried. 

John married, secondly, in 1 555, Penelope, second daughter 
of Sir Charles Erskine, third son of Alexander, Viscount 
Fenton, with issue 

6. A daughter, who married John Stewart of Appin. 

He died, very advanced in years, in 1584, and was suc- 
ceeded by his eldest son, 


Eighth of Moydart and Clanranald. He took a prominent 
share in the remarkable career of his distinguished father, 
and was, at his predecessor's death, nearly fifty years of age. 
It would have been observed that he is included in the re- 
missions granted in favour of his father, dated respectively 
26th of August 1548, 2 ist May 1565, and 3rd of March 
1566. In 1588, he quarrelled with Alexander Macdonald 
of Keppoch and killed his brother. In consequence a letter 
under the Privy Seal, dated loth of May, in the same year, 
was passed in favour of "John M'Ranald, son and apparand 
aire to Allane M'Ranald of Easter Leys, his aris and 
assignees, ane or mar, of the gift of the escheit, &c.; quhilk 
pertinet to Allane M'Ane Muydart and Angus M'Allane, 
his sone, in Muydart, &c.; through being of the saids 
personis ordaurlied denouncit rebellis, and put to the horn 
for the slauchter of Allane Og M'Allane M'Ane, broder to 
Alexander M'Rannald of Kippoch, and not underlying the 
law, &c." For this offence he does not appear to have 
been ever pardoned, nor does he seem to have obtained 
any charters from the crown of his father's territories, 
though apparently he had undisturbed possession of 
them during his life. 

Allan married a daughter of Alastair Crotach Macleod 
of Harris, widow of James Og, son of Donald Gruamach, 
fourth of Sleat. Allan's ill-treatment of this lady became 
the cause of violent feuds between his family and that of 
the Macleods, which were only terminated by another 


marriage between John, Allan's grandson, and Moir, 
daughter of the famous Rory Mor Macleod of Harris and 
Dunvegan, knighted by King James VI. in 1613. By his 
wife (who, after his death, married, as her third husband, 
Macdonald of Keppoch) Allan had issue 

1. Angus, who died before his father, without issue. 

2. Donald, who succeeded to Clanranald. 

3. Ranald, who received from his father extensive posses- 
sions in Benbecula and Arasaig, and whose descendants on 
the failure of Donald's male representatives, carried on the 

4. John, who obtained a feu charter of the lands of Kin- 
lochmoidart, and from whom is lineally descended, on the 
mother's side, the present William Roberson-Macdonald of 

5. Margaret, who married Donald, eighth of Glengarry, 
with issue. 

6. Letitia, who married Alexander, second of Glenala- 

He died in 1 593, and was succeeded by his second and 
eldest surviving son, 


Ninth of Clanranald. Having entered into a marriage 
alliance with the house of Macdonald of Isla, then at war 
with the celebrated warrior Lachlan Mor Maclean of Duart, 
Clanranald joined his father-in-law, and entered the terri- 
tories of the Macleans of Mull, Tiree, and Coll, which he 
harried, wasted, and burnt, carrying away a large spoil. 
Maclean was at the time unable to retaliate, but his oppor- 
tunity soon came. In the summer of 1 595, the Macdonalds 
decided upon proceeding to Ireland, under Donald Gorm 
of Sleat, with a large fleet to aid Red Hugh O'Neil, Earl of 
Tyrone, in his wars with Queen Elizabeth. Duart was 
ready to oppose them on certain conditions, which Elizabeth 
was either unable or unwilling at the time to grant. He 


therefore disbanded his men, and Macdonald's fleet, con- 
sisting of a hundred sail, of which fifty were galleys, and 
the remainder smaller craft, sailed unmolested, for Ireland. 
The number of soldiers and mariners who started on this 
expedition are estimated at about five thousand. " Nine 
hundred men, however, under the Captain of Clanranald, 
still remained ; and as they passed Mull had the temerity 
to land for the night ; running their ' galleys, boats, and 
birlins' into a little harbour, where they imagined them- 
selves secure. But Maclean, by what Achincross termed a 
' bauld onset and prattie feit of weir,' took the whole com- 
pany prisoners, threw the chiefs into irons, sent them to his 
dungeons in his different castles, appropriated their galleys, 
and transported the common men to the mainland. 
Amongst the chief prisoners then taken were the Captain 
of Clanranald and three of his uncles, the Laird of Knoy- 
dart, M'lan of Ardnamurclian, Donald Gorm's brothers, and 
others ; and an account of the surprise was immediately 
transmitted by John Achinross to Nicolson, the English 
envoy at the Court of James. . . . Elizabeth was 
delighted with this exploit of Lauchlan Mor ; assured him 
of her gratitude and friendship " ; and sent him, in the shape 
of a thousand crowns, what he considered a very substantial 
proof of her appreciation of his conduct, and what he him- 
self, in a letter to Cecil, characterises as an " honourable 
token of her favour ".* The Captain of Clanranald joined 
the Macdonalds of Glengarry in their wars against Mac- 
kenzie in Kintail, Lochcarron, and Lochalsh, with the 
details of which the reader is already acquainted. He 
afterwards marched through Skye to his lands in Uist, 
when he found Murdoch MacRory Macneil of Barra com- 

* Tytler's History of Scotland ; in which we are told that " It is curious to trace 
Elizabeth's connection with this man [Lauchlan Mor]. The Lord of Duart's confi- 
dential servant happened to be a certain shrewd Celt, named John Achinross ; he, in 
turn, was connected by marriage with Master John Cunningham, a worthy citizen and 
merchant in Edinburgh. This honest Baillie of the Capital, forming the link be- 
tween savage and civilised life, corresponded with Sir Robert Bowes ; Bowes with 
Burghley or Sir Robert Cecil ; and thus Elizabeth, sitting in her closet at Windsor, 
or Greenwich, moved the strings which assembled or dispersed the chivalry of the 
Isles. This is no ideal picture, for letters of the actors remain." 


mitting outrages and depredations on his lands of South 
Uist, under pretence that a portion of them belonged to 
him. They met at North Boisdale, when most of the 
Barra men were slain. Macneil effected his escape, but 
Clanranald followed him to Barra, and compelled him to 
flee for refuge to some of the remoter Islands to the west 

The Captain of Clanranald, like most of the Highland 
chiefs, became much involved in debt to the crown and 
neighbouring chiefs for depredations on their lands ; and 
he is one of the chiefs who, in 1608, met the king's com- 
missioners at Maclean's Castle of Aros, in Mull, and agreed 
to give security for the payment of his Majesty's rents ; 
deliver up their castles and strongholds ; give up the feudal 
privileges hitherto claimed by them ; submit themselves to 
the laws of the realm ; deliver up their galleys, birlins, and 
vessels of war to be destroyed ; and send their children 
south to be brought up and educated under the protection 
and superintendence of the Privy Council, as became the 
children of barons and gentlemen of the land. On the 7th 
of March, 1610, Donald received a supersedure from the 
crown of all his debts for a period of three years, on the 
narrative that, having a great number of kinsmen, friends, 
and dependers, who, for years before had committed 
spulzies and depredations, and that for the obedience of 
the laws, he was forced to answer for them ; and various 
decreets had gone out against him, for great sums of money 
which it was impossible for him to pay, though his Majesty 
was satisfied that he had done all he could to do so. 
Donald Gorm of Sleat, who had meanwhile become 
superior by gift from the crown of the thirty merk lands 
of Skirrough, twelve merk lands of Benbecula, and one 
penny lands of Gartgimines, on the 4th of June, 1610, 
granted a charter of these lands to the Captain of Clan- 
ranald, which was confirmed by the crown on the 2Oth of 
July, and sasine was passed upon it on the 5th of October 
following. On the 24th of July in the same year, he ob- 
tained another charter from the crown, in which is narrated 
the substance of that granted by James V. to his grand- 


father, John Moydartach, on the nth of February, 1531, of 
the twenty-seven merk lands of Moydart, thirty merk lands 
of Arasaig, and thirty-one merk lands of Eigg. In addi- 
tion he now obtained three other merk lands of Moydart, 
nine merk lands in Eigg, " comprehending Galmisdale, 
Gruline, the third part of Cleatill, the half of Knockhaltock, 
and the half of Ballemenoch, extending to thirty merk 
lands of new extent". He also obtained by this charter the 
fourteen merk lands of Morar, seven merk lands in Arasaig, 
twenty-three merk lands of Kindess [south end of Uist], 
and six merks of Boisdale, all united and incorporated into 
the free barony of Castletirrim ; and the stronghold of 
Castletirrim was appointed the principal messuage of the 

Allan, the eldest son of Ranald Gallda, already referred to 
(p. 378), as having obtained a charter of legitimation in 
1555, and a gift of the non-entry duties of the lands of 
Moydart and Arasaig, was permitted to retain possession 
of these for a considerable time. His only son, Angus, 
also possessed them after him, and claimed them as his 
own, but Donald dispossessed him and took violent posses- 
sion. Angus at once commenced an action against Clan- 
ranald, who, disdaining it as frivolous and ill-grounded, and 
contemning the authority of the Sheriff before whom it was 
brought, decree was pronounced against him on the 6th of 
October, 1612, when he was denounced a rebel. In the 
same year Angus MacAllan MacRanald Angus, the son 
of Allan, son of Ranald was actually served heir to his 
grandfather, Ranald Allanson of Moydart, in the 27 merk 
lands of Moydart, and the 24 merk lands of Arasaig, of the 
old extent of 20* On the I4th of July, 1614, a letter 
passed the Privy Seal in favour of Sir Alexander Kerr of 
Oxenham, of the escheat pertaining to him, in consequence 
of this denunciation ; but he, nevertheless, maintained pos- 
session. Angus MacRanald shortly afterwards died, and 
his son, John, and daughter, Elizabeth, again denounced 
Sir Donald as a rebel, for not finding caution of lawborrows, 

* Origines Parochiales Scotice, Vol. II., p. 203 ; and Retours. 


at the instance of their father, and another letter passed the 
Privy Seal in favour of Sir James Stewart of Killeith, of 
Sir Donald's escheat ; but all further procedure was stopped 
by the death of John and his sister soon afterwards.* On 
the 5th of November, i6n,the king, by letter, under the 
Privy Seal, disponed to Andrew, Bishop of the Isles, " for 
the good, true, and thankful service done to His Majestic," 
all sums owing to him by several great Highland chiefs, 
among others Donald, Captain of Clanranald. He was 
still, notwithstanding the charters and other favours re- 
ceived by him from the crown, held responsible for the de- 
predations committed by him in Mull, Tiree, Kintail, and 
Barra ; but, at last, he became fully reconciled to the king, 
who granted him a full remission, dated at Greenwich, on 
the 27th of June, 1613, for all his past offences. On the 
26th of July, 1614, Sir Donald Macdonald, of Sleat, acquired 
the superiority of the lands of Skirrough, Benbecula, and 
Gartgimines, belonging to Clanranald. In 1615, Clanranald 
is included in an Act denouncing the Western chiefs as 
rebels against the Sovereign authority, on which occasion 
the Earl of Argyll, with a strong force, from the counties of 
Dumbarton, Ayr, and Renfrew is sent against them. In 
1616, he is included in a summons requiring that he should 
submit to appear annually before the Council, or as often 
as required, on being summoned to do so, and on such oc- 
casions to exhibit two of his kinsmen ; reduce the gentle- 
men of his household to the number of six ; that he should 
keep within certain prescribed limits of the residence 
allotted to him ; that he should farm a portion of his do- 
mains ; also plant, cultivate, and encourage his kinsmen to 
do the same ; that he should not keep more than three tuns 
of wine for consumption in his house ; that he should not 
keep more than one large galley, nor an unnecessary num- 
ber of fire-arms ; and that he should educate his children 
according to certain conditions imposed. For the execution 
of these stringent terms he had to grant his personal bond, 
and the security of personal friends. Donald afterwards 

* History of the Family of Clanranald, pp. 115-116. 


visited Edinburgh, where, according to the history of the 
family, he was knighted in May, 1617, at Holyrood House, 
by James VI. 

Sir Donald married Mary, daughter of Angus Macdonald 
of Isla, with issue : 

1. John, his heir. 

2. Ranald ; 3, Alexander ; 4, Donald ; all of whom died 
without issue. 

Sir Donald died in December, 1619, and was succeeded 
by his eldest son, 


Tenth of Clanranald, who, in 1622-23, entered into a con- 
tract of fidelity with Donald MacAngus of Glengarry, in 
which he is described as " John Moydart, captain of Clan- 
ranald," and by which they mutually bind and oblige each 
other, their servants, and tenants, to assist and concur wi;h 
one another against all mortal enemies. In 1625, he 
entered into an agreement with Sir Donald Mackay of 
Strathnaver, by which he resigned in favour of Mackay the 
superiority of the lands of Arasaig and Moydart, obtaining 
a feu-charter of them on the 7th of April, in the same year, 
in his own favour. This charter was confirmed by the 
crown on the 22nd of February, 1627. On the 1st of 
August in the latter year, Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat 
granted him a precept of dare constat of the lands of Skir- 
rough, Benbecula, and Gartgimines, of which Sir Donald, 
by charter from the crown, obtained the superiority in 
1614, while Sir Donald of Clanranald was under attainder, 
as already stated. On the precept of 1614 infeftment fol- 
lowed on the ist and 2nd of March, 1629. On the i8th of 
September, 1627, he was served heir in special to his father 
in the 21 merk lands of Eigg, which are " ex antique quon- 
dam Joanni M'Allister avo diet, quondam Domini Donaldi 
M'Allane, bueredibus suis et assignatis hasreditarie datas 
concessas et depositas " ; and the other lands which had 


been erected into the barony of Castletirrim by charter in 
favour of his father in 1610. On this retour a precept from 
Chancery was obtained, and infeftment followed on the 3rd 
of March, 1629. On the I3th of May, 1630, he was served 
heir in general to Allan, his grandfather, and to his great- 
grandfather, John Moydartach. Having made up titles, he 
made an assedation of the lands of Dalilea, Langal, and 
others, to John Ranaldson, parson of Islandfinnan, in life- 
rent, after whose death to Allan M'Ranaldson, his brother's 
son, also in life-rent, and on the death of Allan to his son for 
a term of nineteen years. Infeftment duly followed. In 
1629 John "resigned the lands of Moydart and Arisaig 
into the hands of Sir Donald M'Donald of Sleat, who had 
acquired rights from Sir Donald M'Kay to the direct su- 
periority, and they afterwards granted a charter of them to 
Lord Lorn, in whose person a second intermediate superi- 
ority vested ; and in this way the family of Argyll were, 
till lately, in possession of the superiority of a considerable 
part of the Clanranald estate ".* This charter is dated 
1 8th December, 1633, and 1st of April, 1634. On the same 
date Sir Donald Macdonald of Slcat, with Clanranald's con- 
sent, executed a charter of the lands of Skirrough in 
favour of Lord Lorn, to be held of Sir Donald. About this 
period the Mackenzics of Kintail appear to have obtained 
possession of the superiority ; for we find that, " in 1633, 
George Mackenzie was served heir to his brother, Colin, 
Earl of Seafort, Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, in the 27 mark 
lands of Moydart and the 24 mark lands of Arrasack ".f 

John took a prominent part in the wars of Montrose, 
already described under the FAMILIES of SLEAT and 
GLENGARRY. Clanranald joined the famous Montrose and 
General Alexander Macdonald, son of Colla Ciotach, at 
Inverlochy, in 1645, and took a distinguished part in all 
the victories of the campaign. Clanranald soon after, his 
number of troops being small, returned to his own country 
to raise his followers, when he found the garrison of Min- 

* History of the Family, 1819, p. 119. 
t Origines Parochiales Scotise, vol. ii., p. 203. 

26 A 


garry had been attacked by the Earl of Argyll. He im- 
mediately went to its relief, defeated the earl, reinforced 
the garrison, laid waste the whole of Suinart and Ardna- 
murchan, and returned to Castletirrim, where he found 
General Alexander Macdonald, who had in the meantime 
heard of the distress of his friends at Mingarry and hastened 
to their relief. Finding his services unnecessary in conse- 
quence of Clanranald's action, he halted at Castletirrim, 
where he was introduced to Donald, Clanranald's eldest 
son, " a young man of great resolution and bravery," to 
whom he gave a command in his army. From thence they 
proceeded to Arasaig and Moydart, where they were joined by 
Donald Gorm, first of Scotus, uncle of Glengarry, and raised 
all the men of Moydart and Glengarry. Proceeding to 
Lochaber, they were there joined by Donald Glas of Kep- 
poch, with the men of the Braes of Lochaber, the Stewarts 
of Appin, the Lairds of Glencoe and Glen Nevis, and a con- 
siderable body of the Camerons. This body, soon after, 
met Montrose at Blair-Athol, whither they had marched. 

Here a council of war was held, immediately on the 
arrival of the Highlanders, to fix upon their winter quarters, 
as the severe weather was fast approaching. Montrose re- 
commended a descent on the Lowlands, but the Highland- 
ers preferred a raid to Argyllshire, to revenge themselves 
on their enemy, Gillespic Gruamach. Montrose expressed 
doubt at there being a sufficient supply of food for such an 
army to pass them over the winter procurable in the county, 
when Angus MacAlain Duibh, a distinguished soldier and 
marksman from Glencoe, replied, " There is not a farm, or 
half a farm, under MacCailein, but what I know every foot 
of it ; and if good water, tight houses, and fat cows will do 
for you, there is plenty to be had ". They immediately 
marched, the various chiefs acting independently of Mon- 
trose to a considerable extent in these cattle-lifting ex- 
cursions, on their way to Argyll. "John of Moidart 
'and the Clanranald, with some of the Keppoch men, were 
the most active on these detours from the line of march ; 
and upon one occasion they returned to the camp 


with 1000 head of cattle." They were soon marching 
on Inveraray, where Argyll was, at the time making ar- 
rangements for a meeting of his retainers, whom he called 
together. He had declared that he would rather lose a 
hundred thousand crowns than that any mortal should 
know the passes by which an armed force could penetrate 
his country, even in the middle of summer. The month of 
December was now far advanced, and, to his utter amaze- 
ment and terror, the herds and shepherds rushed from the 
mountain pastures with the astounding intelligence that 
Montrose and the Highlanders were within a few miles of 
the Castle of Inveraray. The earl immediately escaped to 
sea by a fishing boat, leaving his friends and the whole 
county to the mercy of the enemy. The town of Inveraray 
was burnt to ashes. The army marched in three divisions, 
one under Montrose, one under Alexander Macdonald, his 
Lieut-General, and the third under Clanranald. " Thus he 
traversed, by separate routes, the whole district ; which was 
wasted even as Argyll had wasted Athole and the Braes 
of Angus, and burnt the ' Bonny house of Airlie '. The 
clans laid the whole face of the country in ashes, killing all 
whom they met marching to Inveraray (amounting, it is 
said, to 895 men-at-arms), sweeping off its flocks and herds 
from every valley, glen, and mountain that owned the sway 
of MacCailinmor."* A contemporary writer states that the 
Highlanders plundered and destroyed wherever they came, 
and " spared none that were fit to carry arms, and, in 
particular, they put to the sword all the men whom they 
met going in arms to the rendezvous appointed by Argyll ; 
nor did they desist till they had driven all the men who 
were fit for service out of the country, or at least obliged 
them to retire to lurking holes known to none but them- 
selves. They drove all their cattle, and burnt their villages 
and cottages to the ground ; thus retaliating upon Argyll 
the treatment he had given to others, he himself being the 
first who had practised this cruel method of waging war 
against the innocent country people, by fire and devastation. 

* Napier's Life and Times of Montrose, 289-291. 


Nor did they deal more gently with the people of Lorn, 
and the neighbouring parts who acknowledged Argyll's 
authority." * This expedition must have been of an atro- 
cious character. Another contemporary writer informs us 
that they burnt and slew over the whole country, " and left 
no house or hold, except impregnable strengths, unburnt, 
their corns, goods, and gear, and left not a four-footed 
beast in his [Argyll's] haill lands ; and such as would not 
drive, they houghed and slew, that they should never make 
stead ".} The Clanranald and Athole men returned home 
with the booty from Argyll, promising to return to 
Montrose whenever they were called upon to do so. 

We again find them, soon after, on the and of February, 
1645, taking a prominent part in the battle of Inverlochy, 
where, according to the last quoted authority, " the Captain 
of Clanranald, Maclean, and Glengarie were in the middle," 
round the Royal Standard, under the immediate command 
of Montrose himself, who commanded the centre. They 
took a distinguished share in the battle at Auldearn, 
victoriously fought on the 9th of May, 1645, where "the 
brave, hardy Clan Macdonald, and the equally brave and 
hardy Clanranalds, all fought like true heroes without the 
least fear of strokes or shot ".} The Clanranalds, with the 
other Macdonalds, were at Montrose's last great victory at 
Kilsyth, where, as usual, they greatly distinguished them- 
selves under the immediate command of their chief, who 
had just returned from a recruiting expedition in the 
Highlands, bringing with him 700 Macleans and 500 of his 
own clan. He was accompanied by his son Donald, already 
referred to, a youth at this date of only twenty years of 
age, who greatly distinguished himself throughout the 
whole campaign. On this occasion Montrose unfortunately 
stated, in presence of many of his officers, that, though 
Clanranald had brought a great addition to the camp, he 
had provided nothing to maintain them, while all the other 

* Wishart's Memoirs of Montrose. 

t Spalding's History of the Troubles in Scotland, vol. ii., p. 269 1702 Ed. 

J Red Book of Clanranald. 


clans had. Clanranald indignantly replied that the swords 
of his men could supply them with everything necessary 
for their maintenance at all times and in any circumstances. 
This did not quite satisfy Montrose, and dispute would 
have followed had not Alexander Macdonald (MacColla) 
intervened, stating that he knew the Clanranald men well, 
and would become personally responsible that by next 
evening they would bring in as much provender as any of 
the other clans. He then turned to young Clanranald, 
directing him to get his men ready by themselves, and to 
prepare for a foray next morning. Donald was not slow 
in executing these orders. He marched his men to the 
lands of the Earl Marischall, and, though they had been 
pretty well wasted on previous occasions, " he brought back 
with him a booty, not only surpassing that furnished by 
any other, but one that served the whole army for months. 
This brave action pleased Montrose, and induced him to 
apologise for his hasty expression." The author of the 
Red Book informs us that " Young Donald and his men 
brought more creachs to the camp than any others. Many 
of the Highlanders, when sent to drive a prey, drove it on 
to their own countries without asking the general's leave. 
John of Moidart would allow none of his men to leave 
him ; but there was another reason for this, namely, that it 
was not easy for the men from the Islands to drive their 
prey home from the low country ; hence the raising of 
creachs fell to their share all summer. Young Donald took 
a large prey from the Lord Marischall's country, and from 
the Mearns and Angus ; an old man, whom they met 
there, told them that the Mearns had not been used so 
since Donald of the Isles creac/ied, the year he fought the 
battle of Harlaw." The same chronicler, after describing 
various preliminaries of the battle, states that " Montrose 
held a Council of War, and referred it to his whole army 
whether to fight or retreat. All declared they would 
rather fight than retreat. Yet the troops had been long 
without food. Montrose sent his trumpet with a challenge, 
at which the great army gave a shout, and drew out in 


order of battle, 3,000 pikemen and 11,000 in battalions 
behind these, and you may think it was hard work for our 
small numbers to face. The fight was hard. The High- 
landers had 4000 foot and 500 horses ; and they fixed their 
shirts between their legs. The horsemen had white shirts 
over their armour. We advanced gallantly against a 
battery of great guns. Battle commenced by an excellent 
regiment of Scotch and Irish good marksmen, Major 
Lauchlin and Mac Coll directing and exhorting them. 
Donald, son of the Captain of Clanranald, and Donald 
MacEachain Oig Maclean, strove who should first engage. 
Donald and his men, and Patrick Caoch Macgregor and 
his men, in one regiment Clanranald gave the assault, 
and young Donald was the first man who leaped the 
intrenchments, and his people after him. The enemy was 
completely routed." Napier explains as to the " white 
shirts above their armour," that it would rather seem that 
Montrose had ordered them to disencumber themselves of 
their heavy armour that was over their shirts, for they had 
to charge up hill in the middle of a hot August. 

In the retreat from Perth, leading up to the battle of 
Kilsyth, we are told that " Donald, the son of the Captain 
of Clanranald, had the honour of bringing up the rear, 
which was under the immediate command of Sir Alexander 
Macdonald. Many individual feats of bravery were per- 
formed, and those of young Donald were not the least 
conspicuous. At one time, by a gallant manoeuvre, he cut 
off the entire advance of the enemy ; at another time he 
opposed his chosen band against ten times their number, 
who obstinately defended a ford, and was successful." At 
the battle of Kilsyth, a slight difference arose between 
Donald and Maclean as to who should assume chief com- 
mand of their immediate followers. It is thus related in 
the Clanranald Family History : " The action commenced 
by a fire of cannon and musketry from the Covenanters, 
and the attack by the king's forces, with a regiment of 
Irish commanded by Major Macdonald, and directed by 
Sir Alexander Macdonald. The gallant regiment com- 


manded by Donald, son of the Captain of Clanranald, and 
by Maclean, were ordered to their relief. An unfortunate 
difference had existed between these two as to precedency. 
Each maintained that he was entitled to command the 
other ; on this occasion Maclean desired Donald to place 
himself under his command. From Donald's situation he 
was rather in the rear, but, regardless of disputes of this 
kind, he pushed through Maclean's regiment with his men, 
and was himself the first who gained the trenches of the 
enemy. His men followed and drove all before them, 
striking terror wherever they went By this bold and 
decisive action the battle of Kilsyth was in a great 
measure gained. It was fought on the I4th of August, 
1645. The Covenanters lost nearly 4000 men, while the 
loss of Montrose did not amount to 100. After the battle 
of Kilsyth, Montrose marched to Hamilton ; and nearly the 
whole of Scotland submitted to him. While there the 
Captain of Clanranald and his son retired to their own 
country exhausted by the many engagements they had 
been in." At the same time all the Western Highlanders 
left Montrose, and marched westward under their brilliant 
name-sake, Alexander Macdonald, son of Colla Ciotach, 
now Captain-General of the whole army, immediately next 
in rank to Montrose himself, and a warrior-knight of great 
renown. From that day, the moment on which he lost the 
active support of the Highlanders in the field, the star of 
the great Montrose began to wane, and the end is already 
known to every schoolboy ; but the Clanranald continued 
as true to him in his misfortunes as they had ever been in 
the days of his great victories. 

Wishart thus describes the departure of the High- 
landers : Many of them, " being loaded with spoil, de- 
serted privately, and soon after returned to their own 
country ; their officers and leaders also openly demanded 
liberty to go home for a short time. They pretended that, 
as the Covenanters had at that time no army within the king- 
dom, there was the less occasion for their presence ; and as 
their corn had been all destroyed and their houses burnt by 


the enemy, there was an absolute necessity for their going 
home, tho' but for a few weeks, in order to repair their 
habitations, and lay up some winter provisions for their 
wives and families ; therefore they earnestly begged a short 
furlough ; and, as an inducement to obtain it, they solemnly 
promised to return in less than forty days in greater 
strength and numbers. Montrose, perceiving that they 
were fully resolved to leave him, and that it was not in his 
power to detain them, as they were all volunteers, and 
served without pay, thought it most expedient to dismiss 
them with a good grace, in order to ingratiate himself the 
more with them, and encourage them to return. He 
praised the bravery of the soldiers, and in the king's name 
returned his thanks to the officers for their services ; and 
entreated them to be as expeditious in settling their 
domestic affairs as possible, so that they might return 
against the appointed day, under the conduct of Alexander 
Macdonald, whom, at his own earnest desire, he appointed 
their captain. Macdonald, in a formal oration, returned 
thanks in all their names to the Lord-Governor for his 
great condescension and gave his solemn promise as a 
security for their speedy return. However he had secretly 
resolved not to return, and actually never after saw Mon- 
trose. He carried off with him above three thousand 
Highlanders, all very brave men, and the flower of the 
army ; and not satisfied with these, he privately seduced a 
hundred and twenty of the very best of the Irish, and 
carried them along with him also as a life-guard."* 

After the army was disbanded in May, 1645, and peace 
concluded with the Scottish army at Newark, the Com- 
mittee of Estates instructed General Middleton to grant 
remission on certain conditions to those who still held out. 
Among them was Clanranald, who refused to accept the 
terms offered, but retired sullenly to his stronghold of 
Castletirrim, where, although General Leslie and the Mar- 
quis of Argyll over-ran and wasted the greater portion of 
the adjoining country, he was left undisturbed. Here he 

* Memoirs of Montrose, pp. 137-138. 


for a time remained " firmly attached to his Sovereign, 
whose son he had afterwards the happiness to see restored 
to the throne of his ancestors ". When the Earl of Antrim, 
in October, 1646, proposed a new levy by the Royalist 
leaders for the rescue of the king, Clanranald pledged 
himself to raise 1300 men, of the proposed army of 

On the 1 5th of August, 1645, Clanranald entered into a 
bond of fidelity with Allan MacAlastair, Laird of Morar, 
who bound and obliged himself, his heirs and successors, to 
be bondsman and true servant to Clanranald, " fiar of 
Moydart," and to obey any of his heirs and successors, while 
Clanranald and his son, on the other hand, bound and 
obliged themselves and their heirs and successors " to stand 
be him in any where he will cause do, as their chief should 
do". Shortly after the landing of Charles II. at Garmouth, 
in Moray, on the 23rd of June, 1650, John went and paid 
his respects to him, after which he retired to his Island 
possessions in Uist, where he continued to reside for the 
remainder of his life. 

He married Moir, or Marion, daughter of Sir Roderick 
Maclcod of Macleod, known as " Ruari Mor," and by this 
alliance terminated a feud which arose out of a previous 
marriage, and long existed between the two families. By 
her he had issue 

1. Donald, his heir. 

2. Moir, or Marion, who married Lauchlan Maclean, 
eighth of Coll. 

3. Catharine, who married Macneill of Barra. 

4. Anne, who married Ranald Macdonald, second of 
Benbecula, whose son Donald, afterwards, on the failure of 
John's male issue, succeeded as head of the house of Clan- 

He died in 1670, at a very advanced age, in the Island of 
Eriska, South Uist, and was buried at Tomar, when he was 
succeeded by his only son, 

* Macdonells of Antrim, p. 274. 
2 7 



Eleventh of Clanranald, with whom the reader is already 
acquainted, he having taken, during his father's life, a pro- 
minent and distinguished share in the wars of Montrose. 
After the disastrous battleof Philipshaugh,Montrose returned 
to the north. The Earl of Antrim soon after landed at Kin- 
tyre, where he met Montrose. Many of the clans, among 
others the Clanranald, agreed to join him, but the king's 
order to disband the army put an end to further proceedings 
at the time. Donald was instructed by his father to proceed 
to Isla, and dispossess the Campbells. He was at the same 
time invited by the Earl of Antrim to join him in assisting 
the troops of King Charles in Ireland ; whereupon, Donald, 
with 300 men, embarked at Uist in 1648 ; proceeded 
through the Sound of Mull to Colonsay, and thence to the 
Sound of Isla, where he captured a large vessel belonging 
to the Estates of Scotland, laden with barley. He then 
proceeded to Ireland, and quartered his men at Kilkenny, 
where he met Glengarry and a large body of Highlanders, 
who afterwards took part in several engagements, includ- 
ing the capture of Belfast, Knockfergus, Coleraine, and 
Londonderry. In all these proceedings Donald of Clan- 
ranald, who held high rank in the Highland regiment, took 
a distinguished share. He remained with the king's army 
until its final overthrow, when both Clanranald and Glen- 
garry were taken prisoners and sent to Kilkenny. Here 
they were kept in durance for a considerable time. They, 
however, ultimately secured their liberty through the 
influence and intercession of the Duchess of Buckingham, 
who married, as her second husband, the Earl of Antrim, 
after which they returned to the Highlands ; Clanranald, in 
due course, landing safely in Uist. 

Soon after the death of his father he made up titles to 
the property, but the part he and his family took in the 
recent wars involved him deeply in debt, in consequence of 
which he was obliged for the purpose of raising money, to 


grant a wadsct of Moydart and Arasaig to Sir James Mac- 
donald, for 4000 mcrks. It was, however, afterwards 
redeemed. On the gth of January, 1674, he passed a 
signature of resignation and confirmation of the lands of 
Arasaig, Moydart, Skirrough, Benbecula, and the Island of 
Eigg, on which a charter afterwards followed. In April, 
1684, he obtained, from the Bishop of Lismore, a charter of 
the Island of Canna, in the signature to which he designated 
himself " Donald Macdonald of Moydart, Captain and 
Chief of ye family of Clanranald ". In the charter itself he 
is described as " Capitano seu principi familin.- de Clan- 
ranald ". 

He married his cousin, Moir, or Marion, daughter of 
John Maclcod, XIV. of Macleod, and sister of Roderick 
Macleod, XV., and of John Macleod, XVI. of Macleod, all 
three of whom followed each other in succession as chiefs 
of Macleod. By her he had issue 

1. John, who died in infancy. 

2. Allan, who succeeded his father as XII. of the family. 

3. Ranald, who succeeded his brother Allan as XIII. 

4. Margaret ; married Donald Macdonald, third of Ben- 
becula, who afterwards became head of the clan, and suc- 
ceeded to the estates as XIV. of Clanranald and nearest 
male heir on the death of Ranald. 

5 and 6. Marion and Janet, both of whom died without 

Donald died in 1686 in the Island of Canna, and was 
buried at Tomar. He was succeeded by his second and 
eldest surviving son, 


Twelfth of Clanranald, who was only about sixteen years of 
age when his father died. He was placed under the tutor- 
ship of his brother-in-law, Donald Macdonald of Benbecula, 


who was at the time nearest male-heir to Clanranald, after 
Allan himself and his brother Ranald. Bcnbecula, after- 
wards known as Tutor of Clanranald, spared no pains in 
the education of his ward, whose natural sympathies in 
favour of the Stuarts were strengthened by the traditions 
of his house and the personal influence of Benbecula, him- 
self a firm supporter of the Stuart succession and a young 
man otherwise of great ability and judgment. Both tutor 
and ward came to meet Viscount Dundee when, in May, 
1689, he joined Macdonald of Keppoch at Inverness, and 
there offered their services. These being joyfully accepted, 
they returned home and raised their vassals. Dundee pro- 
ceeded to Lochaber with Keppoch, where he was joined by 
Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat and his eldest son, with 
500 Skye Macdonalds. Proceeding from thence to meet 
General Mackay at Blair-Athol, he was joined on the way 
by Clanranald, by his tutor, and a body of 700 men. These 
were formed into a regiment under the tutor's command, 
with the rank of Colonel. They took a leading part in the 
victory of Killiecrankie, in which " the Highlanders threw 
away their plaids, haversacks, and all other utensils, and 
marched resolutely and deliberately in their shirts and 
doublets, with their fusils, targets, and pistols ready, down 
the hill on the enemy, and received Mackay's third fire 
before they pierced his line, in which many of the High- 
land army fell, particularly Lord Viscount Dundee, their 
General, the terror of the Whigs, the supporter of King 
James, and the glory of his country. Then the High- 
landers fired, threw down their fusils, rushed in upon the 
enemy with sword, target, and pistol, who did not main- 
tain their ground two minutes after the Highlanders were 
amongst them ; and I dare be bold to say there scarce ever 
were such strokes given in Europe as were given that day 
by the Highlanders. Many of General Mackay's officers 
and soldiers were cut down through the skull and neck to 
the very breasts ; others had skulls cut off above their ears 
like night-caps ; some soldiers had both their bodies and 
cross-belts cut through at a blow; picks and small swords 


were cut like willows." * Other particulars of this campaign 
have been already given under SLEAT and GLENGARRY [pp. 
220222 and 344-346], and are well known to the reader. 

The Proclamation issued by the government, offering 
protection in their persons and property to all who had 
been in arms, if they would surrender and take the oath of 
allegiance, before the ist of January, 1692, was spurned by 
Clanranald, who proceeded, with his brother Ranald, to 
France, where he completed his education, under the eye 
of James VII., and became one of the most accomplished 
gentlemen of his age. Having resided for some time at 
the Court of St. Germains, he obtained a commission in 
the French service under the Duke of Berwick, and soon 
acquired a distinguished reputation as a brave and gallant 
officer. When peace was restored he returned to St 
Germains, and was glad to learn that, through the in- 
fluence of his tutor, Donald Macdonald of Benbecula, and 
other influential friends in Scotland, his estates had been 
preserved to him. 

While in France Clanranald made the acquaintance of 
Penelope, a daughter of Colonel Mackenzie, who had been 
Governor of Tangiers under Charles II. "This young 
lady was not more distinguished by the beauty of her 
person than by the brilliancy of her wit and sweetness of 
temper. She was universally admired at a Court famed 
for the beauty of its women, and her prudence added not a 
little to the lustre of her charms. With such a person, 
possessing such a mind, it cannot be doubted that she had 
various offers of marriage, but she preferred Clanranald to 
all others, and satisfied that, with such a man, happiness 
could be obtained anywhere, she at once agreed to marry 
and accompanying him to his native hills. "f They soon 
returned to Scotland, and arrived safely in South Uist, 
where, though remote from society, " yet so completely did 
their tempers accord with each other, that their uniform 
hospitality, polite attention, and affable manners drew 

Memoirs of Dundee, by an Officer in the Army, 1714, pp. 19-20. 
t History of the Family, p. 148. 


company from all parts of the kingdom, and a little Court, 
well befitting that of a chief, was actually formed," which 
was favourably spoken of in all classes of society through- 
out the country. 

On his return to Uist, Clanranald made up titles to his 
estates, as his father's heir, by precept, dated 28th of July, 
1704, and was infefted thereon in November and De- 
cember, 1706. 

It is generally believed that he was in correspondence 
with the Court of St. Germains before the rising of 1715, 
for no sooner had the Earl of Mar raised his standard at 
Braemar than Clanranald sailed from Uist with his fol- 
lowers, and summoned his vassals of Moydart, Arasaig, 
and the small isles. He is among the chiefs charged to 
appear in Edinburgh to give security for his good be- 
haviour, by a certain day, and refusing, he was denounced, 
with other leaders of the clans, a rebel against the crown. 
His reply was at once to declare openly for the Chevalier, 
in whose service he was appointed Colonel. He received 
orders to march into Argyllshire to harass the Earl and 
prevent the Campbells and other neighbouring clans from 
joining the government forces; and while on his way he 
was joined at Fort- William by a body of Camerons and 
Macleans, with whom he attempted to surprise the garrison 
at Inverlochy. In this he failed, but on the I7th of Sep- 
tember he captured two redoubts, which, however, he was 
unable to retain for want of artillery. On the 6th of 
October he arrived at Strathfillan with about 700 of his 
own clan, and was joined by Glengarry and several other 
chiefs with a considerable following, the army on the i6th 
numbering some 2400 men, with whom on the following 
day he marched back in the direction of Inveraray, arriving 
there on the igth. The town was defended by a large 
body of Campbells, who refused a demand to surrender, 
made in writing, by Clanranald and Glengarry ; but Sir 
Duncan and Colonel Campbell came out to meet them next 
morning on a rising ground between the town and the in- 
vaders' camp, when the two Macdonald chiefs stated that 


the Earl of Mar's orders were to respect the country if they 
disbanded their men, but that, if they kept in arms, it was to 
be laid waste. Next morning a message was received, Lord 
Isla (the Earl's brother), who was in command, declining 
to treat with any one in arms against the government. 
The Macdonalds immediately proceeded to waste Kintyre 
and the Earl's lands in the district, after which they returned 
to Strathfillan. This raid kept many of the Campbells at 
home to protect their property and friends, and Clanranald 
compelled many others to pledge themselves not to move 
out of the district. This proved of great advantage to Mar. 
On the 3d of November the camp was broken up, and the 
whole body marched by Castle Drummond to Perth, where 
they joined the main army, under the Earl of Mar ; and 
about the same time, Sir Donald Macdonald, Seaforth, 
the Chisholm, and other Highlanders, made their appear- 
ance. On the 9th a council of war was called, at which it 
was decided to march on Dunblane. The history of this 
march and the battle of Sheriffmuir are sufficiently well 
known. All the Macdonalds behaved with their wonted 
bravery and valour, and no one more so than the gallant 
Chief of Clanranald, who fell mortally wounded " a man 
universally esteemed and respected by foe as well as friend, 
and whose memory is still cherished in the Highlands with 
the utmost fondness". Even Patten, the renegade author of 
"The History of the Rebellion," after stating that the Cap- 
tain of Clanranald, with 1000 men, all with their chief, were 
against the government and in the rebellion, says : " This 
clan did act the part of men that are resolute and brave, 
under the command of their chief, who, for his good parts 
and genteel accomplishments, was looked upon as the most 
gallant and generous young gentleman among the clans ; 
maintaining a splendid equipage ; keeping a just deference 
to the people of all sorts ; void of pride or ill-humour. He 
performed the part of one that knew the part of a complete 
soldier ; but a fatal bullet from the king's forces, through 
the body, disabled him, but did not daunt him ; so finding 
a necessity of yielding to the fate of his wound, he withdrew, 


and told he could do no more ; only his well-wishes attended 
his king and his country. He was lamented by both parties 
that knew him." It was on this melancholy occasion that 
Glengarry exclaimed to those who were disposed to mourn 
over the fallen hero, " Let us have revenge to-day : mourn- 
ing to-morrow " a suggestion which was instantly acted 
upon with terrible effect. 

As already stated, he married Penelope, daughter of 
Colonel Mackenzie, Governor of Tangiers, without issue. 
He was interred at Inverpephry, in the burying-place of 
the noble family of Perth, when he was succeeded by his 
only brother, 


Thirteenth of Clanranald. During the rebellion of 171 5 he 
was in France. When the news of his brother's death at 
Sheriffmuir reached him, he determined to set off for the 
Highlands, but before he could start information arrived 
that the rebellion was suppressed. He therefore decided to 
remain until he could hear further particulars from his 
friends at home. Intelligence soon came that he was among 
those who had been attainted, and that steps were being 
taken to deprive him of the family estates. He delayed 
coming home ; but an excellent friend of the family, Alex- 
ander Mackenzie, Principal Clerk of Session in Edinburgh, 
interested himself in Ranald's behalf, purchased large debts 
which had been accumulated by the late chief and by 
Ranald himself, mainly for prosecution of the Stuart cause, 
and got them all vested in his own person. He then raised 
an action of abjudication in the Court of Session against 
all the Clanranald estates, for the accumulated sum of 
^95,000 Scots, and obtained a decree in his own favour, all 
with the view of handing the property over to the represen- 
tative of the family so soon as a pardon could be procured 
or the attainder removed. Ranald, however, who was never 
married, died at St. Germains in 1725, before a pardon 


could be procured or the estates conveyed to him. Thus 
the male line of Sir Donald Macdonald, ninth of Clan- 
ranald, became extinct, and the dignity and succession re- 
verted to the nearest male heir of Ranald Macdonald 
immediate younger brother of Sir Donald last named, as 
follows : 

RANALD MACDONALD, second son of Allan, eighth of 
Clanranald, and immediate younger brother of Sir Donald, 
ninth of Clanranald, by his wife, a daughter of Macleod of 
Macleod, received from his father, Allan, the lands of Bar- 
row in Benbecula, Gartgimines, Baile-nan-Cailleach, Baile- 
finlay, Bailemeanach, Uachdar, Benbecula (called the two 
Airds), Knockworlane, and part of Machar-meanach ; also 
the lands of Ardness, Lochylt, and Essan in Arasaig. 
Afterwards, John Macdonald, tenth of Clanranald, granted 
to this Ranald and to his son, Ranald Og, a feu-charter, 
dated 1 2th of April, 1625, for infefting themselves in these 
lands, and infeftment followed in favour of the elder Ranald, 
recorded at the Chancery of Ross on the 2ist of June fol- 
lowing. These deeds are afterwards confirmed by the su- 
perior, the Earl of Argyll, on the I4th of March, 1633. 

Ranald, son of Allan, ninth chief, and immediate younger 
brother of Sir Donald, ninth of Clanranald, married, first, 
Maria, daughter of Archibald Macdonald, brother of Donald 
Gorm Mor, seventh, and sister of Sir Donald Macdonald, 
eighth baron and first baronet of Sleat. By this lady (who 
was forcibly seized and ravished by Sir Lauchlan Mac- 
kinnon of Strathardale, and for which act he was after- 
wards forfeited in 1722) Ranald had no issue. He married, 
secondly, Margaret, daughter of Angus Macdonald of Duny- 
veg, with issue 

1. Ranald, designed "Ranald Og," to distinguish him 
from his father. 

2. Angus Og, so called to distinguish him from his uncle, 
Angus of Clanranald. From Angus Og descended the 
families of Dalilea and Milton. 

Ranald was succeeded in the lands of Benbecula and 
others above mentioned by his eldest son, 

27 A 


RANALD OG MACDONALD, who had some difference with 
the chief of Clanranald about the payment of his feu-duties 
and services. This landed him in an action in the Court of 
Session, where judgment went against him. They soon, 
however, arranged matters, and became reconciled. On 
the /th of October, 1652, he was infeft as fiar upon his 
father's charter of 1625, and the infeftment is duly registered 
in the Chancery of Ross. On the i6th of December, 1655, 
he obtained from John Macdonald, tenth of Clanranald, a 
discharge of all feu-duties and services ; and on the 25th of 
March, 1675, he entered into an agreement with Donald, 
eleventh of Clanranald, by which his lands were to be held 
direct from the superior, the Earl of Argyll ; but this ar- 
rangement was afterwards departed from before it was 
finally ratified. 

Ranald married, first, a daughter of Macneil of Barra, by 
whom he had issue 

1. Donald, who succeeded, as fourteenth of Clanranald, on 
the death, without issue, of Ranald, thirteenth chief, and of 
whom presently. 

Ranald married, secondly, in 1653, Anne (or Agnes) 
Macdonald, daughter of John Macdonald, tenth of Clan- 
ranald,* with issue 

2. James, to whom his father gave the lands of Belfinlay, 
Ardbeg, Ardmore, and others. This James had a son, 
Allan of Belfinlay, who also had a son, Allan of Bel- 
finlay, who married Jane, eldest daughter of Lachlan 
Mackinnon of Cony, the entertainer of Pennant and Dr. 
Johnson, with issue Allan, a Major in the 55th Regiment, 
who married Flora, daughter of Peter Nicolson of Ardmore, 
with issue Captain Allan Macdonald, now of Waternish, 
Isle of Skye, and others. 

There is a dispensation, "dated at Elian Raald, the 8th of June, 1633," 
granted for this marriage by " Dominicus Dingin," under authority of a commission 
from the Pope, " to dispensate in such business, "written on the loth of December, 
1651. The parties are described as " in the second and third degree of consanguinity," 
whereas all marriages " contracted within the fourth degree, inclusively, are, by the 
universal Church of God, prohibited and declared of no force or value without a 
special dispensation from the said Church ". 


3. Donald Og, who died without issue. 

4. Moir, or Marion. 

On the death of Ranald, thirteenth of Clanranald, in 1725, 
in France, he was succeeded by his cousin, 


Third of Benbecula, as fourteenth of Clanranald, tutor of 
Allan the hero of Killiecrankie and Sheriffrnuir. We 
have already noticed the prominent share which he took in 
the military annals of the nation during the wars of 
Dundee. After Killiecrankie he returned to his island 
home in Benbecula, and took no part in the Rebellion of 
1715. Donald, eleventh of Clanranald, granted him a 
charter of nova-damus of all his lands, dated i6th of 
March, 1680. A considerable sum of money had been 
lodged with Alexander Mackenzie, Principal Clerk of 
Session, Edinburgh, with the view of procuring a pardon 
for Ranald, the late chief, and purchasing and conveying 
the estates to him. This money was obtained by Mrs. 
Penelope Macdonald, widow of Allan killed at Sheriff- 
rnuir, whose attachment to the clan and fond recollection 
of her distinguished husband cannot be better expressed 
than in the words of the disposition by which Mr. Mac- 
kenzie afterwards conveyed the estates to Donald by her 
instructions. After narrating the debts, the document 
proceeds : " Seeing it was at the earnest desire and re- 
quest of Mrs. Penelope Mackenzie, Dowager of the deceased 
Allan Macdonald of Moydart, Captain of Clanranald, that 
I did purchase the several debts above narrated, affecting 
the estate of Moydart, and thereupon obtained a decree 
and charter of abjudication in my favour ; and that it hath 
all along been in her view, as it was still her constant care, 
from the tender regard which she bore to the memory of 
her said deceased husband, to have the estate of Moydart 
settled upon, and conveyed to, the said Donald, elder of 
Benbecula, who (by the failure of the said Allan Mac- 


donald, and of Ranald Macdonald, late of Moydart, both 
now deceased, without heirs-male lawfully procreate of 
their, or either of their bodies) is now the nearest and 
lawful heir-male of the family of Moydart, and the un- 
doubted chief and Captain of Clanranald." For these 
reasons Mr. Mackenzie, by this disposition, conveyed over 
the whole estates to Donald in life-rent ; after him to 
Ranald, his son, in life-rent ; and thereafter, in fee, to 
Ranald, grandson of Donald, who afterwards succeeded 
in due course as fifteenth chief of the family, and who 
became so well known, during his father's life-time, in con- 
nection with Prince Charles, Flora Macdonald, and the 
Rebellion of 1745. The disposition is dated 5th of 
December, 1726, and infeftment followed thereon on 28th 
of September, and 7th, I3th, I7th, i8th, and ipth of 
October, 1727. 

Donald married, first, Margaret, eldest and only sur- 
viving daughter of Donald, eleventh, and sister of Allan 
and Ranald, respectively twelfth and thirteenth of Clan- 
ranald ; and by this marriage he became heir to his 
brother-in-law, through his wife, as well as heir-male of the 
family, on the death, in 1725, of Allan, twelfth chief. By 
this lady he had an only son 

1. Ranald, his heir. 

He married, secondly, Margaret, daughter of George 
Mackenzie of Kildun, by whom he had 

2. Alexander, who obtained the estate and became pro- 
genitor of the Macdonalds of Boisdale. 

3. Ann, who married John, second son of Lachlan 
Mackinnon of Strathardale. 

He died in 1730, and was succeeded by his son, 


Fifteenth of Clanranald, who, born in 1692, was in the 
39th year of his age. He refused to take any part in 
the Rebellion of 1745, though earnestly pressed to do so 


by Prince Charles, who called upon him immediately on 
his first arrival in the Long Island. He, however, offered 
no resistance to his son to join in that unfortunate enter- 
prise ; indeed, once the Prince did embark he extended to 
him every support and encouragement in his power. The 
particulars of his life are so well known that it is quite 
unnecessary to go into lengthy details, but we may quote 
Home's interesting account of the arrival of the Prince 
in South Uist, his visit to, and reception by, Clanranald. 
After describing the voyage and arrival of the Doutelle 
with his Royal Highness on board, Home proceeds to 
say that " she came to an anchor between South Uist 
and Eriska, which is the largest of a cluster of small 
rocky islands that lie off South Uist. Charles immediately 
went ashore on Eriska. His attendants giving out that he 
was a young Irish priest, conducted him to the house of 
the tacksman, who rented all the small island ; of him they 
learned that Clanranald and his brother Boisdale were 
upon the Island of South Uist; that young Clanranald was 
at Moydart, upon the mainland. A messenger was imme- 
diately despatched to Boisdale, who is said to have had 
great influence with his brother. Charles staid all night 
on the Island of Eriska, and in the morning returned to 
his ship. Boisdale came aboard soon after. Charles pro- 
posed that he should go with him to the mainland ; assist 
in engaging his nephew to take arms, and then as his am- 
bassador to Sir Alexander Macdonald and Macleod. To 
every one of these proposals Boisdale gave a flat negative, 
declaring that he would do his utmost to prevent his 
brother and his nephew from engaging in so desperate an 
enterprise, assuring Charles that it was needless to send 
anybody to Skye ; for that he had seen Sir Alexander Mac- 
donald and Macleod very lately, and was desired by them 
to acquaint him (if he should come to South Uist, in his 
way to the Highlands), that they were determined not to 
join him, unless he brought over with him a body of 
regular troops. Charles replied in the best manner he 
could, and, ordering the ship to be unmoored, carried 


Boisdale (whose boat hung at the stern) several miles out- 
ward to the mainland, pressing him to relent, and give a 
better answer. Boisdale was inexorable, and, getting into 
his boat, left Charles to pursue his course, which he did, 
directly for the coast of Scotland, and, coming to an 
anchor in the bay of Lochnanuagh, between Moydart and 
Arasaig, sent a boat ashore with a letter to young Clan- 
ranald." * 

Ranald married Margaret, daughter of William Macleod 
of Bernera, by whom he had issue 

1. Ranald, his heir. 

2. Donald, an officer in the British army, who greatly 
distinguished himself, and was killed with General Wolfe 
before Quebec. 

3. Margaret, who died unmarried. 
He was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Sixteenth of Clanranald, who was, with Macdonald of 
Kinlochmoidart and his brother, and young Glenaladale, 
the first to join the Prince in 1745. We cannot do better 
than continue the account from Home of how young Clan- 
ranald finally consented to join His Royal Highness. He 
proceeds, continuing our previous quotation : " In a very 
little time, Clanranald, with his relative Kinlochmoidart, 
came aboard the Doutelle. Charles, almost reduced to 
despair in his interview with Boisdale, addressed the two 
Highlanders with great emotion, and, summing his argu- 
ments for taking arms, conjured them to assist their Prince, 
their countryman, in his utmost need. Clanranald and his 
friend, though well inclined to the cause, positively refused, 
and told him (one after the other) that to take up arms with- 
out concert or support, was to pull down certain destruction 
on their own heads. Charles persisted, argued, and im- 
plored. During this conversation, the parties walked back- 

History of the Rebellion. 


wards and forwards upon the deck ; a Highlander stood 
near them, armed at all points, as was the fashion of the 
country. He was a younger brother of Kinlochmoidart, and 
had come off to the ship to inquire for news, not knowing 
who was on board. When he gathered from their dis- 
course that the stranger was the Prince of Wales ; when he 
heard his chief and his brother refuse to take arms with 
their Prince, his colour went and came, his eyes sparkled, 
he shifted his place, and grasped his sword. Charles ob- 
served his demeanour, and, turning briskly towards him, 
called out, ' Will you not assist me ? ' 'I will, I will,' said 
Ranald, ' though no other man in the Highlands should 
draw a sword ; I am ready to die for you. 1 Charles, with 
a profusion of thanks and acknowledgments, extolled his 
champion to the skies, saying he only wished that all the 
Highlanders were like him." Without further deliberation 
the two Macdonalds declared that they also would join, 
and use their utmost endeavours to engage their country- 
men to take arms. Immediately Charles, with his com- 
pany, went ashore, and was conducted to Borrodale, a farm 
which belonged to the estate of Clanranald. Having once 
decided to join, he proceeded at once to raise his vassals, 
and command those of Arasaig and Moydart to attend 
him, and bring their arms. These amounted to about 250 
men. A list of their names and arms is still preserved.* 
The standard being, a few days after, raised at Glenfinnan, 
they proceeded to Perth, from whence Clanranald, at the 
head of 500 men, was despatched to Dundee, where he 
arrived on the 7th of September, and next day, Sunday 
the 8th, proclaimed James VIII. as King. He then threw 
open the prison, took possession of all the public arms and 
ammunition he could find, and allowed all the prisoners 
their liberty. On the following day he searched several 
private houses for arms, and in all cases where he found 
any, he took possession and gave a receipt for them. On 
the loth, by special command, he returned and joined the 
Prince at Perth. From that day he took a distinguished 

Printed in the Appendix to the Clanranald Family History. 



part, at the head of his men, in all the proceedings of the 
Highland army ; at Prestonpans, Gladsmuir, where the 
Clanranald, with their chief, was placed, as a distinct mark 
of honour, on the right of the front line ; in the march to 
England and retreat to Scotland, and in the final and 
disastrous engagement with the king's troops on Culloden 
Moor. An eye-witness at Duddingston relates an incident 
which indicates his position and lofty bearing. " One day 
young Clanranald was conversing with the Young Pre- 
tender with his head covered, and Major Macdonald (Glen- 
aladale) standing behind Clanranald uncovered." He was 
wounded in the head at Culloden, but managed to escape 
to his grandmother's house in Inverness, after which he 
proceeded with his men to Moydart, where he remained in 
concealment for a considerable period. The king's troops 
soon followed him, and on one occasion he escaped cap- 
ture only by a miracle. A mean, base countryman, bribed 
by the enemy's officers, pointed out his hiding-place, on 
the side of a steep hill ; but hearing them approach he 
threw himself down the precipice at the risk of being 
dashed to pieces on the rocks, and marvellously escaped, 
though so near as to hear one of the soldiers saying, " the 
nest is warm, but the bird is flown ". A few days after 
three French ships of war arrived in Loch-nan-uagh, which 
were placed under Clanranald's command as Commodore, 
a commission in his favour as such having been brought 
from France in one of them. Here Clanranald again met 
the Prince, and strongly recommended him to distribute a 
sum of forty thousand pounds, brought from France for his 
use by these ships, among the more necessitous of those 
who had suffered so much in his cause, and were now with- 
out houses, food, or shelter; the whole country having been 
given to the flames, and all their cattle driven away by the 
king's troops. 

During the whole time Prince Charles was in hiding in 
the Long Island, Clanranald remained concealed in Moy- 
dart, waiting an opportunity to remove to some other part 
of the country, from which he could effect his escape to the 


Continent. This he ultimately managed in spite of the 
attempts of the government to capture him. He succeeded 
in finding his way to Brahan Castle, the scat of the Sea- 
forths, where he met a daughter of Basil Hamilton, and 
sister of the Earl of Selkirk, whom he had engaged to 
marry some time before. She was a relation of his own, 
her mother being a sister of Ranald's grandmother. The 
marriage was celebrated in presence of Lady Fortrose, 
her husband, Viscount Fortrose, who had his forfeited es- 
tates but not the titles restored to him some time pre- 
viously, being from home, and supposed to know nothing 
of his interesting visitors ; for he kept out of the Rebellion, 
and was, so far, on friendly terms with the government 
Leaving Brahan Castle, Clanranald and his lady pro- 
ceeded to Cromarty, where they embarked on board a 
ship bound for London under the names of Mr. and Mrs. 
Black. They arrived at their destination safely and un- 
molested, and soon after effected their escape to Paris. 
Here, finding it necessary to procure some means of sub- 
sistence, he endeavoured to obtain an introduction to those 
in power in France. Prince Charles shortly after came to 
Paris, and Clanranald requested his Royal Highness to 
introduce him to Louis XV., "to whom the Prince de- 
clared that he was the only person who had served him 
without fee or reward. He soon after got some military 
employment from the Court of France, and continued so 
employed until he became acquainted with Marshal Saxe, 
who appointed him his aide-de-camp ; and he remained 
for several years in that capacity, until the marshal's death, 
with the official notification of which to the king he was 
charged, and delivered to his majesty, at a public levee, 
when the king seemed so affected that he shed tears, and 
said to the company around him that he had lost his right 
arm. During this time his lady had become pregnant, and 
returned to Britain for the purpose of being delivered, and 
naturalising the child. She went to reside with her grand- 
mother, the widow of Lord Basil Hamilton, at Edinburgh, 
in whose house she was delivered of a son, and died a few 



days afterwards. Many of the chiefs who were engaged in 
the unfortunate Rebellion, refusing to deliver themselves 
up, a bill of attainder was brought against them, which 
received the Royal assent on the 4th of June, 1746. In 
this bill was included the names of Donald Macdonald, 
younger of Clanranald, Donald Macdonald of Lochgarry, 
Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch, Archibald Macdonald 
of Barrisdale, Alexander Macdonald of Glencoe, and others. 
Many suffered the penalty of the law, and, amongst others, 
Kinlochmoidart. He was executed at Carlisle on the i8th 
of October. As to Clanranald, by mistake he was named 
Donald instead of Ranald in the act of attainder passed 
against him. His friends took advantage of this, and, after 
some years' delay, he succeeded in recovering his estates, 
to which he retired, and became a steady and loyal subject 
of the king. It is pretty well known that of all those who 
joined Prince Charles, none was more devoted to him than 
youngClanranald,or acted more from less interested motives. 
He uniformly refused all pecuniary reward, maintained his 
own troops, and, it is said, for this truly noble conduct, the 
Prince signified his intention of conferring on him the 
dignity of a peer of the realm, by the title of Earl of Clan- 

All the transactions to which we have referred took place 
during the life of his father, who, being an old man even at 
the close of the Rebellion, a few years later, on the 28th of 
November, 1753, quite unable to attend to any business, he 
renounced the life-rent of the estates in favour of his son 
Ranald, by whose energy and business habits the debts of 
the property were soon paid. For the rest of his days 
Ranald lived quietly and unostentatiously on his property. 

He married, first, Mary, daughter of Basil Hamilton, 
eventually Earl of Selkirk, younger son of the Duke of 
Hamilton, and by her (born 8th of May, 1720 ; died i ith of 
May, 1750) he had issue 

I. Charles James Somerled, who died in his fifth year at 

* History of the Family, pp. 170-171 


Edinburgh, on the 25th of May, 1755, and was buried at 

He married, secondly, Flora, daughter of Mackinnon of 
Mackinnon, a celebrated beauty, with issue 

2. John, his heir.- 

3. James, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army. 

4. Margaret, who died unmarried. 

5. Mary, who died unmarried. 

6. Penelope, who married William, seventh Lord Bel- 
haven and Stenton (who died 29th of October, 1814), with 
issue (i), Robert Montgomery, who, born in 1793, 
succeeded as 8th peer; (2), William, born in 1799, in the 
H.E.I.C.S. ; and four daughters, Penelope, Susan Mary, 
Flora (died in 1810), and Jean (died in 1820). Lady Bel- 
haven died in 1816. 

Ranald was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Seventeenth of Clanranald, quite a youth at his father's 
death. He travelled for several years on the Continent 
with a learned tutor, who gave him a very liberal education. 
On his return home, he obtained a commission and became 
a Captain in the 22d Dragoons. Having made up titles to 
the family estates, he soon after retired from the army, and 
resided chiefly on his property, among his retainers, by 
whom he was greatly esteemed while he lived, and much 
lamented on his death, in 1794, at the early age of twenty- 

He married, first, Katharine, daughter of the Right Hon. 
Robert Macqueen of Braxfield, Lord Justice-Clerk of Scot- 
land, with issue 

1. Reginald George, his heir, born in Edinburgh on the 
29th of August, 1788. 

2. Robert Johnstone. 3. Donald. 

He married, secondly, his second cousin, Jean, daughter 
of Colin Macdonald, II. of Boisdale, and grand-daughter of 


Alexander, first of Boisdale, second son of Donald, four- 
teenth of Clanranald, without issue. 

He died in 1794, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 


Eighteenth of Clanranald. He was born in Edinburgh on 
the 29th of August, 1788, and was thus a minor, only six 
years of age, when he succeeded to the property. He was 
first sent to Edinburgh, and afterwards to Eton to com- 
plete his education. He then proceeded to the Continent, 
where he remained for several years. Conning of age in 
1809, he returned home, and was soon after appointed to 
the command of the Long Island Regiment of Inverness- 
shire local Militia, which he held for many years. He re- 
presented the Burgh of Plymton (disfranchised by the 
Reform Act of 1832) in Parliament from 1812 to 1824. 
He lived to a very old age, and, two years before his death, 
in 1871, he visited his native land, "and delighted his 
friends by his never failing vivacity and comparatively 
youthful appearance". According to the Statistical Account 
the rental of Clanranald's estate in 1837 was about .4500 
per annum ; but shortly after that date the property was 
sold by this chief for a large sum to Colonel Gordon of 
Cluny, Aberdeenshire. 

He married, on the 1st of April, 1812, Lady Caroline 
Ann Edgcumbe, second daughter of Richard, second Earl 
of Mount Edgcumbe, by whom (who died loth of April, 
1824) he had issue 

1. Reginald John James-George, his heir, now of Clan- 

2. Caroline-Sophia, who married, 8th September 1842, 
the Hon. Charles Cust, second son of John, first Earl of 
Brownlow, with issue one son, Ernest-Richmond Charles, 
and three daughters, one of whom Alice-Marian, married, 
9th of September, 1876, her cousin, Allan-Roger-Charles 


Porcelli, youngest son of Baron Porcclli, a Sicilian noble- 
man, who married Sarah Anne, his wife's aunt. 

3. Emma-Hamilla, who married, 2ist of April, 1840, the 
Hon. and Rev. Alfred Wodchousc, youngest son of John, 
second Lord Wodehouse, with issue Hobart ; Reginald, 
who died, 25th of August, 1861 ; Charles; Hamilla-Caro- 
line, who, on the 8th of November, 1876, marrried Edward 
Taylor, British vice-consul at Dunkerque ; Ernestine- 
Emma, who on the I7th of May, 1866, married John 
Marshall, second son of H. C. Marshall, of Westwood Hall, 
Leeds ; and Laura-Sophia. 

4. Louisa-Emily, who married, Charles-William Mars- 
ham, eldest surviving son of Robert Marsham of Stratton 
Strawless, County of Norfolk, and secondly, 4th December, 
1856, Colonel Hugh Fitz-Roy, Grenadier Guards, son of 
Lord Henry Fitz-Roy. 

4, Flora, Maid of Honour to the Queen. 

6. Sarah-Anne, who married, in 1848, Baron Porcelli, a 
Sicilian nobleman, with issue, one of whom married his 
cousin, as above. 

Clanranald married secondly, Anne, daughter of William 
Cunningham, and widow of Richard Barry Dunning, Lord 
Ashburton, without issue ; and thirdly, Elizabeth Rebecca 
Newman, also without issue. 

He died at his residence, Clarendon Road, London, on the 
nth of March, 1873, in the 85th year of his age, when he was 
succeeded as representative of the family by his eldest son, 


Nineteenth and present Clanranald, Vice-Admiral, R.N., 
K.C.S.I. He married, on the I2th of June, 1855, the Hon. 
Adelaide Louisa, second daughter of George, fifth Lord 
Vernon, with issue 

1. Allan Douglas, his heir, born in April, 1856. 

2. Angus Roderick, born in April, 1858 ; now in Calcutta. 

3. Adelaide Effrida. 


THIS sept of the Macdonalds is descended from 
Hector, or, in Gaelic, Eachainn, second son of 
Roderick Macdonald, third of Moydart and Clan- 
ranald, better known among the Highlanders as Ruari 
MacAlain, by his wife, Margaret, daughter of Donald 
Balloch, Chief of Clann Ian Mhoir [see p. 369.] Eachainn 
obtained lands in Morvern, Argyllshire. In 1501, Ewen 
MacEachainn, son of Hector, or Eachainn MacRuari, was 
with his chief Allan MacRuari, fourth of Clanranald, and 
several others, summoned before the Privy Council, to 
exhibit the rights by which each of them held their lands, 
but, refusing to attend, on the loth of December a decreet 
was pronounced against them, in which it is declared that 
" the said Ewen MacEachainn does wrong in the occupy- 
ing of the lands of Ardtornish in the Morvern " and he is 
ordained to " desist and cease therefrom," that they may be 
enjoyed by the king's highness. 

The great majority of those who descended from 
Eachainn and called themselves after him, have, in later 
times, adopted the more general name of Macdonald. We 
still, however, meet with the original name in various forms, 
principally in Argyllshire, such as MacEachan, Mac- 
Eachren, MacEacharn, MacEachin, Macichan, MacEchern, 
MacKechnie, and others all corruptions of the original 
MacEachainn, or son of Hector. It is impossible to follow 
the minor septs under these various designations. Indeed, 
we are quite unable to complete the steps of descent in the 
main line of the family, and must content ourselves with a 
very imperfect sketch of its later members. The first of 
whom we can obtain any historical view is 


CHARLES MACEACHAINN, or Macdonald. He belonged 
to the " Sliochd Aonghais Bhuidhe," who " held themselves 
aloof, and superior to the other MacEachans ". He oc- 
cupied the farms of Kinloid and Keppoch, in Arasaig 
under Clanranald, where he held the much honoured posi- 
tion, in those days, of Armourer to his chief. He was 
among the first chosen by Clanranald in 1745 to muster his 
mainland retainers, and Charles MacEachainn, marched at 
the head of one hundred and twenty Arasaig Macdonalds 
to the standard of Prince Charles at Glenfinnan, and, under 
the banner of his chief, he took a distinguished part in all 
the struggles of the subsequent campaign. After the battle 
of Culloden, MacEachainn missed the opportunity of escap- 
ing to France with his other friends and the Prince. From 
the position he took under Clanranald in the recent re- 
bellion he became a marked man, and every effort was 
made by the government troops to capture him. Failing 
in this, he was, in due course, outlawed ; but taking refuge 
in Ardnamurchan among his friends, he managed to escape 
capture, being carefully concealed and protected by the 
Rev. Alexander Macdonald, an Episcopalian minister, 
better known as " Maighistir Alastair," father of the famous 
Jacobite Gaelic Bard, " Alastair MacMhaighistir Alastair," 
parish schoolmaster of Ardnamurchan, a Presbyterian elder, 
and a Roman Catholic in succession. The bard was also, 
with his brother Angus, a wanderer from Cumberland's 
blood-hounds in similar circumstances, and for the same 
cause as MacEachainn. On Clanranald's return from 
France, Charles MacEachainn's farms were restored to him. 
His children, two sons and several daughters, were educated 
by their cousin, the Jacobite Gaelic poet and parish school- 
master, Alexander Macdonald. 

Charles married Marcella, daughter of Alexander Mac- 
donald of Dalilea,* and a cousin of Alexander Macdonald 
the poet, with issue 

* This Macdonald of Dalilea was out in 1745 ; and escaped with the Prince 
to France after Culloden ; and wrote a journal and memoirs of the campaign. 
The Macdonalds held Dalilea until it was sold by Miss Jane Macdonald to 


1. John, who became a priest. He was educated, first, 
in the Seminary of Bourbloch, and afterwards in Spain, 
where, for seven years, he was Professor of Moral Philo- 
sophy in the Catholic College of Vallodolid. He subse- 
quently returned home, and acted as Professor in the 
Catholic Seminary at Samalaman. He was known as a 
highly cultured and accomplished scholar. On his return 
from Spain he was appointed priest in charge of his native 
parish, and was, on several occasions, offered the Catholic 
Bishopric of Glasgow, the responsibility of which he felt 
called upon to decline. 

2. Alexander, a doctor of medicine. The second son, 
ALEXANDER, who on the death of his brother John, 

became representative of the family, entered King's College, 
Aberdeen, where he studied for the medical profession. 
Having taken his degree he afterwards practised as a 
physician in Arasaig, Lewis, Uist, and the Isle of Skye. 
In 1794, he joined the Glengarry Fencibles in the capacity 
of surgeon, and served with the regiment in Ireland during 
the rebellion of 1798. He was known as "An Doitear 
Ruadh," or Red Doctor. So far as we can discover, he 
appears to have been the first of this branch of the family 
who adopted the name of Macdonald ; for the Catholic 
Directory shows that he enter