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Full text of "A history of the Scottish Highlands, Highland clans and Highland regiments Volume 2"

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XLII. Social Condition of the Highlands Chiefs Land Distribution Agriculture- 
Agricultural Implements Live Stock Pasturage Farm Servants Harvest 
Work Fuel -Food Social Life in Former Days Education Dwellings 
Habits Wages Roads Present State of Highlands, . 1 

XLIII. State of Highlands subsequent to 1745 Progress of Innovation Emigration- 
Pennant s account of the country Dr Johnson Wretched condition of the 
Western Islands Introduction of Large Sheep Farms Ejection of Small 
Tenants The Two Sides of the Highland Question Large and Small Farms 
Depopulation Kelp Introduction of Potatoes into the Highlands Amount 
of Progress made during latter part of 18th century, . . . .31 

XLIV. Progress of Highlands during the present century Depopulation and Emigration 
Sutherland clearings Recent State of Highlands Means of Improvement 
Population of chief Highland Counties Highland Colonies Attachment 
of Highlanders to their Old Home Conclusion, . . . .54 


LL.D., F.S.A.S., . . 66 


1. Clanship Principle of Kin Mormaordoms Traditions as to Origin of Clans 
Peculiarities and Consequences of Clanship Customs of Succession High 
land Marriage Customs Position and Power of Chief Influence of Clanship 
on the People Number and Distribution of Clans, &c., . . .116 

II. The Gallgael or Western Clans Lords of the Isles The various Island Clans 
The Macdonalds or Clan Donald The Clanranald Macdonalds The Mac- 
donnells of Glengarry, . . . . . . . .131 

III. The Macdougalls Macalisters Siol Gillevray Macneills Maclachlans Mac- 

Ewens Siol Eachern Macdougall Campbells of Craignish Lamonds, 139 

IV. Robertsons or Clan Donnachie Macfaiianes Argyll Campbells and offshoots 

Breadalbane Campbells and offshoots Macleods, .... 169 

V. CLANCHATTAN Mackintoshes Macphersons Macgillivrays Shaws Farquhar- 

sons Macbeans Macphails Gows Macqueens Cattanachs, . .197 

VI. Camerons Macleans- -Macnaughtons Mackenricks Macknights Macnayers 

Macbraynes Munroes Macmillans, ...... 217 

VII. Clan Anrias or Ross Mackenzies Mathiesons Siol Alpine Macgregors Grants 

Macnabs Clan Duffie or Macfie Macquarries Macaulays, . . 235 

VIII. Mackays Macnieols Sutherlands Gunns Maclaurin or Maclareii Macraes 

Buchanans Colquhouns Forbeses Urquharta, .... 265 

IX. Stewarts Erasers Menzies Chisholms Stewart Murray (Athole) Drummonds 

Grahams Gordons Cummings Ogilvies Fergusons or Fergussons, 297 




INTRODUCTION. Military Character of the Highlands, . . . 
42ND ROYAL HIGHLAND REGIMENT (Am Freiceadan Dubh, "The Black Watch "), 334 
APPENDIX. Ashantee Campaign, ... . QQQ 
London s Highlanders, 1745-1748, ..... 45 1 
Montgomery s Highlanders, or 77th Regiment, 1757-1763, . . 453 
Eraser s Highlanders, or Old 78th and 71st Regiments- 
Old 78th, 1757-1763, ..... 457 
Old 71st, 1775-1783, . .... 465 
Keith s and Campbell s Highlanders, or Old 87th and 88th Regiments, . 475 
89th Highland Regiment, 1759-1765, . 

Johnstone s Highlanders, or 101st Regiment, 1760-1763, . , 

71ST HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY, formerly the 73rd or Lord Macleod s Highlanders, . 479 

Argyle Highlanders, or Old 74th Regiment, 1778-1783, ... 5 19 

Macdonald s Highlanders, or Old 76th Highland Regiment, . 520 

Athole Highlanders, or Old 77th Regiment, 1778-1783, . 522 

72ND REGIMENT, or DUKE OF ALBANY S OWN HIGHLANDERS, formerly the 78th or Seaforth s 

Highlanders, ....... 524 

Aberdeenshire Highland Regiment, or Old 81st, 1777-1783, 565 

Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment, or Old 84th, 1775-1783, . . 565 

Forty Second Royal Highland Regiment, Second Battalion, now the 73rd Regiment, 566 


* o/ 1 







Appendix to the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch), 1873-1875 (Ashantee 

Cam P ai n ) 803 

Fencible Corps, ... ftn7 

> . OVi 

- 808 



Painted by Engraved by 

by Dr Maelauchlan, J. Bartholomew, To face 

J. Fleming, W. Forrest, 

From Original Sources, H. Crickmore, 



(1.) John, Earl of Crawford. 
(3.) Sir John Macdonald. K.C.B. 

LORD CLYDE (Sir Colin Campbell), 

COLONELS OF THE 71ST AND 72o HIGHLANDERS, From Original Sources, 

(1.) John, Lord Macleod. 

(3.) Kenneth, Earl of Seaforth. 

COLONELS OF THE 78TH AND 79TH HIGHLANDERS, From Original Sources, H. Crickmore, 
(1.) F. H. Mackenzie, Lord Seaforth. (2.) Sir Patrick Grant, G.C.B., G.C.M.G. 

(3.) Sir Ronald Craufurd Feiguson, G.C.B. (4.) Sir James Macdonell, K.C.B., K.C.H. 

THE PRINCESS LOUISE, From Photograph by Hill and Saunders, W. Holl, 


COLONELS OF THE 91sT, 92o, AND 93o HIGH- 1 


(1.) General Duncan Campbell of Lochnell. 
(3.) Major-General W. Wemyss of Wemyss. 


(2.) Sir George Murray, G.C.B., G.C.H. 
(4.) Sir Duncan A. Cameron, K.C.B. 

H. W. Phillips, W. Holl, 

H. Crickmore, 

(2.) Sir Thomas Reynell, Bt, K.C.B. 
(4.) Sir Neil Douglas, K.C.B., K.C.H. 

Elliot and Fry, 
Original Sources, 

H. Crickmore, 

(2.) George, Marquis of Huntly. 
(4.) SirH. W. Stisted, K.C.B. 

J. Bartholomew, 









MACDONALD. . _. . 136 

MACDOUGALL, . . 159 

MACLACHLAN, . . 165 





GUNN, . 



74. Old Scotch plough, and Caschroim, or 

crooked spade, ..... 

75. Quern, ancient Highland, 

76. A Cottage in Islay in 1774, ... 25 

77. Music, ancient Scottish, scale, . .106 

78. Macdonald coat of arms, crest, and motto, 136 

79. Clanranald ,, 

80. Macdonnell of Glengarry 156 

81. Macdougall 159 

82. Macneill 162 

83. Maclachlan 165 

84. Lamond 168 

85. Robertson 169 

86. Macfarlane 173 

87. Argyll Campbell 175 

88. Breadalbane Campbell 186 

89. Macleod 191 

90. Mackintosh , , 201 

91. "Mackintosh s Lament, bagpipe music, 04 

92. Dalcross Castle, 209 

93. Macpherson coat of arms, crest, and motto, 210 

94. James Macpherson, editor of the Ossianic 

poetry, ...... 211 

95. Farquharson coat of arms, crest, and motto, 215 

96. Cameron ,, ,, ,, 217 

97. Maclean 

98. Sir Allan Maclean, 227 

99. Macnaugh ton coat of arms, crest, and motto, 229 

100. Munro of Foulis ,, ,, ,, 231 

101. Ross 

102. Mackenzie ,, ,, ,, 

103. Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, . 240 
104 Macgregor coat of arms, crest, and motto, 243 

105. Rob Roy, 245 

106. Grant coat of arms, crest, and motto, . 250 

107. Castle Grant, 254 

108. Mackinnon coat of arms, crest, and motto, 256 

109. Macnab ,, ,, ,, 258 




110. The last Laird of Macnab, 



111. Macqnarrie coat of arms, crest, and motto, 


112. Mackay 



113. Sutherland 



114. Dunrobin Castle, . . . . . 


115. Gurm coat of arms, crest, and motto, 


116. Maclaurin (or Maclaren) ,, 



117. Macrae ,, (> 



118. Buchanan ,, 



119. Colquhoun 



120. Old Eossdhu Castle, . . . . 



121. Forbes coat of arms, crest, and motto, 


122. Craigievar Castle, 



123. Urquhart coat of arms, crest, and motto, . 


124. Lorn 



125. Fraser 


126. Bishop Eraser s Seal, .... 



1 27. Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth, . 


128. Menzies coat of arms, crest, and motto, 



129. Chisholm 


130. Erchless Castle (seat of " the Chisholm "), 



131. Stewart Murray (Athole) coat of arms, 

crest, and motto, 


32. Blair Castle, as restored in 1872, 



133. Drummond coat of arms, crest, and motto, 


134. Graham 


135. Gordon 

J J 



136. Gordon Castle, 


137. Gumming coat of arms, crest, and motto, 



138. Ogilvy 



39. Crest and motto of 42nd Royal Highlanders, 
140. Farquhar Shaw of the "Black Watch" 





141. Plan of the Siege of Ticonderoga (1758), . 
42. British Barracks, Philadelphia, in 1764, . 


43. Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt, Portrait, 
144, ) Regimental Medal of the 42nd Eoyal 



145. f Highlanders, issued in 1819, 



146. Medal to the officers of the 42nd Royal 

Highlanders for services in Egypt, 



147. Colonel (afterwards Major-General Sir) 

Robert Henry Dick, 


148. Vase presented to 42nd Royal Highlanders 
by the Highland Society of London, 



19. Col. Johnstone s (42nd)Cephalonian medal, 
150. " Highland Pibroch," bagpipe music, 



151. View of Philadelphia, U.S., as in 1763, 


152. Sir David Baird, .... 


] 53. Monument in Glasgow Cathedral to Colonel 


the Hon. Heniy Cadogan (71st), . 
154. Major-General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B., . 




155. Monument erected by the 71st Highlanders 

194 . 

in Glasgow Cathedral, . 



156. Crest of the 72nd, Seaforth Highlanders, . 
157. General James Stuart, 



158. " Cabar Feidh," bagpipe music, 
159. Major-General William Parke, C.B., 



160. Map of Kaffraria, . 



161. Crest of the 74th Highlanders, 
162. Major-General Sir Archibald Campbell 
Bart., K.C.B. (74th), . 




33. Plan of Assaye, 23rd Sept. 1803, . 


164. Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. Sir Robert 

*J 1 T: 


Le Poer Trench (74th), 


165. Medal conferred on the non-commissioned 

officers and men of the 74th for meri 


torious conduct during the Peninsular 


campaign, .... 




. Waterkloof, scene of the death of 

tenant-Colonel Fordyce (74th), 
. Crest of the 78th Highlanders, 
. Facsimile of a poster issued by Lord 
Seaforth" in Ross and Cromarty in raising 
the Ross-shire Buffs (78th), 
. Plan of the Battle of Assaye, . 
. Major-General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser, 
Colonel Patrick Macleod of Geanies (78th), 
, Major-GeneralSir Henry Havelock, K.C.B., 
Suttee Chowra Ghat, scene of the second 

Cawnpoor Massacre, 15th July 1857, 
Plan of the action near Cawnpoor, 16th 

July 1857, . 
Map of the scene of Havelock s operations 

in July and August, 1857, . 
Mausoleum over the Well of the Massacre 

at Cawnpoor, 

Plan of the operations for the relief of Luck- 
now in September and November, 1857, 
Monument to the memory of the 78th 
Highlanders, erected on Castle Esplan 
ade, Edinburgh, 

Centre Piece of Plate presented by the 
counties of Ross and Cromarty to the 
78th, Ross-shire Buffs, 
Crest of the 79th Queen s Own Cameron 


Major-General Sir John Douglas, K.C.B., 
Eichard James Mackenzie, M.D., F.E.C.S., 
Lieutenant-Colonel W. C. Hodgson (79th), 
Monument erected in 1857 in the Dean 
Cemetery, Edinburgh, in memory of the 
79th who fell in action during the cam 
paign of 1854-55, 

Crest of the 91st Princess Louise Argyll 
shire Highlanders, .... 
The 91st crossing the Tyumie or Chumie 

River, .... 

Brass Tablet erected in 1873 in Chelsea 
Hospital to the memory of Colonel 
Edward W. C. Wright, C.B. (91st), . 
Lieutenant-Colonel Bertie Gordon (91st), . 
Major-General John F. G. Campbell (91stj 
Biscuit- Box presented by the men of the 
91st Princess Louise Argyllshire High 
landers to the Princess Louise on the 
occasion of her marriage, 
Crest of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, . 
General Sir John Moore, . . 
Coat of Arms of Col. John Cameron (92nd), 
Colonel John Cameron (92nd), . 
Sir John Macdonald, K.C. B., of Dalchosnie , 
Major-General Archibald Inglis Lockhart 

C.B. (92nd), . . . 

Badge of the 93rd Sutherland High 

landers, .... 

Sir Duncan M Gregor, K.C.B., 
The Hon. Adrian Hope (93rd), 
The Secunder Bagh, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Wm. M Bean, V C 


Centre Piece of Plate, belonging to the 
Officers Mess of the 93rd Sutherland 
Highlanders, ..... 

Map of Ashantee Country and Gold Coast, 
Sir Garnet J. Wolseley, K.C.M.G., C B., 
Sir John C. M Leod, K.C.B. (42nd), 




















~X 70 J0 oftNoaovw ^ 








Social condition of the Highlands Black Mail- 
Watch Money The Law Power of the Chiets- 
Land Distribution Tacksmen Tenants Rents 
Thirlage Wretched State of Agriculture Agricul 
tural Implements The Caschroim The Recstte- 
Methods of Transportation Drawbacks to Cultiva 
tionManagement of Crops Farm Work Live 
Stock Garrons Sheep Black Cattle Arable 
Land Pasturage Farm Servants The Bailie 
ffeamAre Davoch-lands Milk Cattle Drovers- 
Harvest Work The Quern Fuel Food Social 
Life in Former Days Education Dwellings- 
Habits Gartmorc Papers Wages Roads Pre 
sent State of the Highlands. 

As we have already (in ch. xviii.) given a 
somewhat minute description of the clan- 
system, it is unnecessary to enter again in 
detail upon that subject here. We have, per 
haps, in the chapter referred to, given the most 
brilliant side of the picture, still the reader 
may gather, from what is said there, some 
notion of what had to be done, what immense 
barriers had to be overcome, ere the High 
lander could be modernised. Any further de 
tails on this point will be learned from the 
Introduction to the History of the Clans. 

As might have been expected, for some time 
after the allaying of the rebellion, and the 
passing of the various measures already referred 
to, the Highlands, especially those parts which 
bordered on the Lowlands, Avere to a certain 
extent infested by what were known as cattle- 
lifters Anglice, cattle-stealers. Those who 
took part in such expeditions were generally 
" broken " men, or men who belonged to no 
particular clan, owned no chief, and who were 
regarded generally as outlaws. In a paper 
said to have been written in 1747, a veri 
gloomy and lamentable picture of the state o 

the country in this respect is given, although 
we suspect it refers rather to the period pre 
ceding the rebellion than to that succeeding it. 
However, we shall quote what the writer says 
on the matter in question, in order to give the 
eader an idea of the nature and extent of 
his system of pillage or " requisition :"- 

" Although the poverty of the people prin 
cipally produces these practices so ruinous to 
tociety, yet the nature of the country, which 
s thinnely inhabitate, by reason of the ex 
tensive moors and mountains, and which is 
so well fitted for conceallments by the many 
glens, dens, and cavitys in it, does not a little 
:ontribute. In such a country cattle are pri 
vately transported from one place to another, 
and securely hid, and in such a country it is 
not easy to get informations, nor to apprehend 
the criminaUs. People lye so open to their 
resentment, either for giving intelligence, or 
prosecuting them, that they decline either, 
rather than risk their cattle being stoln, or 
their houses burnt. And then, in the pursuit 
of a rogue, though he was almost in hands, 
the grounds are so hilly and unequall, and so 
much covered with wood or brush, and so full 
of dens and hollows, that the sight of him is 
almost as soon lost as he is discovered. 

" It is not easy to determine the number of 
persons employed in this way ; but it may be 
safely affirmed that the horses, cows, sheep, 
and goats yearly stoln in that country are in 
value equall to 5,000 ; that the expences lost 
in the fruitless endeavours to recover them will 
not be less than 2,000 ; that the extraordi 
nary expences of keeping herds and servanto 
to look more narrowly after cattle on account of 



feteaUing, otlierways not necessary, is 10,000. 
There is paid in blackmail or icatcli-money , 
openly and privately, 5 000 ; and there is a 
yearly loss by understocking the grounds, by 
reason of theifts, of at least 1 5,000 ; which 
is, altogether, a loss to landlords and farmers 
in the Highlands of 37,000 sterling a year. 
But, besides, if we consider that at least one- 
half of these stollen effects quite perish, by 
reason that a part of them is buried under 
ground, the rest is rather devoured than eat, 
and so what would serve ten men in the ordi 
nary way of living, swallowed up by two or 
three to put it soon out of the way, and that 
some part of it is destroyed in concealed parts 
when a discovery is suspected, we must allow 
that there is 2,500 as the value of the half 
of the stollen cattle, and 15,000 for the 
article of understock quite lost of the stock of 
the kingdom. 

"These last mischiefs occasions another, 
which is still worse, although intended as a 
remedy for them that is, the engaging com- 
panys of men, and keeping them in pay to 
prevent these thief ts and depredations. As 
the government neglect the country, and don t 
protect the subjects in the possession of their 
property, they have been forced into this 
method for their own security, though at a 
charge little less than the land-tax. The per 
son chosen to command this watch, as it is 
called, is commonly one deeply concerned in 
the theifts himself, or at least that hath been 
in correspondence with the thieves, and fre 
quently who hath occasioned thiefte, in order 
to make this watch, by which he gains con 
siderably, necessary. The people employed 
travell through the country armed, night and 
day, under pretence of enquiring after stollen 
cattle, and by this means know the situation 
and circumstances of the whole country. And 
as the people thus employed are the very 
rogues that do these mischiefs, so one-half of 
them are continued in their former bussiness 

of the Gartmore family, it can scarcely l<; r<i 
garded as a disinterested account, seeing that 
the Gartmore estate lies just on the southern 
skirt of the Highland parish of Aberfoyle, 
formerly notorious as a haunt of the Macgregors, 
affording every facility for lifters getting rapidly 
out of reach with their " ill-gotten gear." Still, 

of stealling that the busieness of the other 
half may be necessary in recovering." 1 

This is probably a somewhat exaggerated 

account of the extent to which this species of 

robbery was carried on, especially after the 

suppression of the rebellion ; if written by one 

1 Gartmore MS. in Appendix to Burt s Letters. 

no doubt, curbed and dispirited as the High 
landers were after the treatment they got from 
Cumberland, from old habit, and the assumed 
necessity of living, they would attempt to re 
sume their ancient practices in this and other 
respects. But if they were carried on to any 
extent immediately after the rebellion, when 
the Gartmore paper is said to have been writ 
ten, it could not have been for long ; the law 
had at last reached the Highlands, and this 
practice ere long became rarer than highway 
robbery in England, gradually dwindling down 
until it was carried on here and there by one 
or two " desperate outlawed" men. Long be 
fore the end of the century it seems to have 
been entirely given up. " There is not an in 
stance of any country having made so sudden 
a change in its morals as that of the High 
lands ; security and civilization now possess 
every part ; yet 30 years have not elapsed since 
the whole was a den of thieves of the most 
extraordinary kind." 2 

As we have said above, after the suppres 
sion of the rebellion of 1745--6, there are no 
stirring narratives of outward strife or inward 
broil to be narrated in connection with tho 
Highlands. Indeed, the history of the High 
lands from this time onwards belongs strictly 
to the history of Scotland, or rather of Britain. 
Still, before concluding this division of tho 
work, it may be well to give a brief sketch of 
the progress of the Highlands from the time of 
the suppression of the jurisdictions down to 
the present day. Not that after their disar 
mament the Highlanders ceased to take part 
in the world s strife ; but the important part 
they have taken during the last century or 
more in settling the destinies of nations, falls 
to be narrated in another section of this work. 
Wliat we shall concern ourselves with at 
present is the consequences of the abolition of 
the heritable jurisdictions (and with them the 
importance and power of the chiefs), on the 
- Pennant s Tour in Scotland. 


internal state of the Highlands ; we shall en 
deavour to show the alteration which took place 
in the social condition of the people, their 
mode of life, their relation to the chiefs (now 
only landlords), their mode of farming, their 
religion, education, and other points. 

From the nature of clanship of the relation 
ship between chief and people, as well as from the 
state of the law and the state of the Highlands 
generally it will be perceived that, previous 
to the measure which followed Culloden, it 
was the interest of every chief to surround 
himself with as many followers as he could 
muster ; his importance and power of injury 
and defence were reckoned by government and 
his neighbours not according to his yearly 
income, but according to the number of men 
he could bring into the field to fight his own 
or his country s battles. It is told of a chief 
that, when asked as to the rent of his estate, 
he replied that he could raise 500 men. Pre 
vious to 45, money was of so little use in 
the Highlands, the chiefs were so jealous 
of each other and so ready to take advantage 
of each other s weakness, the law was so 
utterly powerless to repress crime and redress 
wrong, and life and property were so insecure, 
that almost the only security which a chief 
could have was the possession of a small army 
of followers, who would protect himself and his 
property ; and the chief safety and means of 
livelihood that lay in the power of the ordi 
nary clansman was to place himself under the 
protection and among the followers of some 
powerful chief. "Before that period [1745] 
the authority of law was too feeble to afford 
protection. 3 The obstructions to the execution 

8 As a specimen of the maimer in which justice was 
administered in old times in the Highlands, we give 
the following : In the second volume of the Spalding 
Club Miscellany, p. 128, we read of a certain "John 
MacAlister, in Dell of Rothemurkus," cited on 19th 
July 1594 " before the Court of Regality of Spynie. 
He was "decerned by the judge ryplie aduysit with 
the action of spuilzie persewit contraue him be the 
Baron of Kincardine, .... to have vrongouslie in- 
tromittit with and detenit the broune horse lybellit, 
and thairfor to content and pay to the said Corn- 
plainer the soume of threttene schillings and four 
pennis money. " The reader will notice the delicate 
manner in which what looks very like a breach of the 
eighth commandment is spoken of in a legal docu 
ment of that period. John the son of Alister " con 
fessed" the intromission with the brown horse, but 
pled in defence that he "took him away ordowrlii 
and uocht spulyed, but be vertue of the Act of Athell 

of any legal warrant were such that it was 
only for objects of great public concern that 
an extraordinary effort was sometimes made to 
overcome them. In any ordinary case of 
private injury, an individual could have little 
xpectation of redress unless he could avenge 
his own cause ; and the only hope of safety 
from any attack was in meeting force by force. 
In this state of things, every person above the 
common rank depended for his safety and his 
consequence on the number and attachment 
of his servants and dependants ; without 
people ready to defend him, he could not 
expect to sleep in safety, to preserve his house 
from pillage or his family from murder ; he 
must have submitted to the insolence of every 
neighbouring robber, unless he had maintained 
a numerous train of followers to go with him 
into the field, and to fight his battles. To 
this essential object every inferior consideration 
was sacrificed ; and the principal advantage of 
landed property consisted in the means it 
afforded to the proprietor of multiplying his 
dependants." 4 

Of course, the chief had to maintain his 
followers in some way, had to find some 
means by which he would be able to attach 
them to himself, keep them near him, and 
command their services when he required 
them. There can be no doubt, however chi 
merical it may appear at the present day, that 
the attachment and reverence of the High 
lander to his chief were quite independent of 
any benefits the latter might be able to confer. 
The evidence is indubitable that the clan 
regarded the chief as the father of his people, 
and themselves as his children; he, they 
believed, was bound to protect and maintain 
them, while they were bound to regard his 
will as law, and to lay down their lives at his 
command. Of these statements there can bo 

boynd for ane better horse spuilzeat be the said pcr- 
sewar from the said Defender." Whether this was 
the truth, or whether, though it were true, John the 
son of Alister was justified in seizing upon the Baron s 
broune horse in lieu of the one taken by the Haron 
from him, or whether it was that the Baron was the 
more powerful of the two, the judge, it will have 
been noticed, decerned against the said John M A lis 
ter, not, however, ordaining him to return the horse, 
but to pay the Baron " thairfor " the sum of thirteen 
shillings. Memorials of Clan Shaw, by Rev. W. G. 
Shaw, p. 24. 

4 Observations on Hie Present State of Highland::, 
by the Earl of Selkirk, p. 13. 


ijo doubt. " Tliis power of the chiefs is not 
supported by interest, as they are landlords, 
but as lineally descended from the old 
patriarchs or fathers of the families, for they 
hold the same authority when they have lost 
their estates, as may appear from several, and 
particularly one who commands in his clan, 
though, at the same time, they maintain him, 
having nothing left of his own." 5 Still it was 
assuredly the interest, and was universally 
regarded as the duty of the chief, to strengthen 
that attachment and his own authority and 
influence, by bestowing upon his followers 
what material benefits he could command, and 
thus show himself to be, not a thankless 
tyrant, but a kind and grateful leader, and an 
affectionate father of his people. Theoretically, 
in the eye of the law, the tenure and distribu 
tion of land in the Highlands was on the same 
footing as in the rest of the kingdom ; the 
chiefs, like the lowland barons, were supposed 
to hold their lands from the monarch, the nomi 
nal proprietor of all landed property, and these 
again in the same way distributed portions of 
this territory among their followers, who thus 
bore the same relation to the chief as the latter 
did to his superior, the king. In the eye of 
the law, we say, this was the case, and so 
those of the chiefs who were engaged in the 
rebellion of 1715-45 were subjected to forfei 
ture in the same way as any lowland rebel. 
But, practically, the great body of the High 
landers knew nothing of such a tenure, and 
even if it had been possible to make them 
understand it, they would probably have 
repudiated it with contempt. The great prin 
ciple which seems to have ruled all the rela 
tions that subsisted between the chief and his 
clan, including the mode of distributing and 
holding land, was, previous to 1746, that of 
the family. The land was regarded not so 
much as belonging absolutely to the chief, but 
as the property of the clan of which the chief 
was head and representative. Not only was 
the clan bound to render obedience and reve 
rence to their head, to whom each member 
supposed himself related, and whose name was 
the common name of all his people ; he also 
was regarded as bound to maintain and protect 

his people, and distribute among them a fair 
share of the lands which lie held as their 
representative. " The chief, even against the 
laws, is bound to protect his followers, as they 
are sometimes called, be they never so criminal. 
He is their leader in clan quarrels, must free 
the necessitous from their arrears of rent, and 
maintain such Avho, by accidents, are fallen 
into decay. If, by increase of the tribe, any 
small farms are wanting, for the support of 
such addition he splits others into lesser por 
tions, because all must lie somehow provided 
for ; and as the meanest among them pretend 
to be his relatives by consanguinity, they insist 
upon the privilege of taking him by the hand 
wherever they meet him." 6 Thus it was con 
sidered the duty, as it was in those turbulent 
times undoubtedly the interest, of the chief to 
see to it that every one of those who looked 
upon him as their chief was provided for ; 
while, on the other hand, it was the interest 
of the people, as they no doubt felt it to be 
their duty, to do all in their power to gain the 
favour of their chiefs, whose will was law, who 
could make or unmake them, on whom their 
very existence was dependent. Latterly, at 
least, this utter dependence of the people on 
their chiefs, their being compelled for very 
life s sake to do his bidding, appears to have 
been regarded by the former as a great hard 
ship ; for, as we have already said, it is well 
known that in both of the rebellions of last- 
century, many of the poor clansmen pled in 
justification of their conduct, that they were 
compelled, sorely against their inclination, to 
join the rebel army. This only proves how 
strong must have been the power of the chiefs, 
and how completely at their mercy the people 
felt themselves to be. 

To understand adequately the social life of 
the Highlanders previous to 1746, the distri 
bution of the land among, the nature of their 
tenures, their mode of farming, and similar 
matters, the facts above stated must be borne 
in mind. Indeed, not only did the above in 
fluences affect these matters previous to the 
suppression of the last rebellion, but also for 
long after, if, indeed, they are not in active 
operation in some remote corners of the High- 

5 Burt s Letters, vol. ii. p. 5. 

8 Burt s Letters, vol. ii. p. 5. 


lands even at the present day ; moreover, 
they afford a key to much of the confusion, 
misunderstanding, and misery that followed 
upon the abolition of the heritable jurisdic 

Next in importance and dignity to the chief 
or laird were the cadets of his family, the 
gentlemen of the clan, who in reference to the 
mode in which they held the land allotted to 
them, were denominated tacksmen. To these 
tacksmen were let farms, of a larger or smaller 
size according to their importance, and often 
at a rent merely nominal ; indeed, they in 
general seem to have considered that they had 
as much right to the land as the chief himself, 
and when, after 1746, many of them were 
deprived of their farms, they, and the High 
landers generally, regarded it as a piece of gross 
and unfeeling injustice. As sons were born to 
the chief, they also had to be provided for, 
which seems to have been done either by cut 
ting down the possessions of those tacksmen 
further removed from the family of the laird, 
appropriating those which became vacant by 
the death of the tenant or otherwise, and by the 
chief himself cutting off a portion of the land 
immediately in his possession. In this way 
the descendants of tacksmen might ultimately 
become part of the commonalty of the clan. 
Next to the tacksmen were tenants, who held 
their farms either directly from the laird, or as 
was more generally the case, from the tacks 
men. The tenants again frequently let out 
part of their holdings to sub-tenants or cottars, 
who paid their rent by devoting most of their 
time to the cultivation of the tenant s farm, 
and the tending of his cattle. The following 
extract from the Gartmore paper written in 
1747, and published in the appendix to Burt s 
Letters, gives a good idea of the manner gene 
rally followed in distributing the land among 
the various branches of the clan : 

" The property of these Highlands belongs 
to a great many different persons, who are 
more or less considerable in proportion to the 
extent of their estates, and to the command of 
men that live upon them, or follow them on 
account of their clanship, out of the estates of 
others. These lands are set by the landlord 
during pleasure, or a short tack, to people 
whom they call good-men, and who are of a 

superior station to the commonality. Theso 
are generally the sons, brothers, cousins, or 
nearest relations of the landlord. The younger 
sons of famillys are not bred to any business 
or employments, but are sent to the French or 
Spanish armies, or marry as soon as they are 
of age. Those are left to their own good 
fortune and conduct abroad, and these are 
preferred to some advantageous farm at home. 
This, by the means of a small portion, and the 
liberality of their relations, they are able to 
stock, and which they, their children, and 
grandchildren, possess at an easy rent, till a 
nearer descendant be again preferred to it. 
As the propinquity removes, they become less 
considered, till at last they degenerate to be of 
the common people ; unless some accidental 
acquisition of wealth supports them above 
their station. As this hath been an ancient 
custom, most of the farmers and cottars are of 
the name and clan of the proprietor ; and, if 
they are not really so, the proprietor either 
obliges them to assume it, or they are glaid to 
do so, to procure his protection and favour. 

" Some of these tacksmen or good-men pos 
sess these farms themselves ; but in that case 
they keep in them a great number of cottars, to 
each of whom they give a house, grass for a 
cow or two, and as much ground as will sow 
about a boll of oats, in places which their own 
plough cannot labour, by reason of brush or 
rock, and which they are obliged in many 
places to delve with spades. This is the only 
visible subject which these poor people possess 
for supporting themselves and their famillys, 
and the only wages of their whole labour and 

" Others of them lett out parts of their farms 
to many of these cottars or subtennants ; and 
as they are generally poor, and not allways in 
a capacity to stock these small tenements, the 
tacksmen frequently enter them on the ground 
laboured and sown, and sometimes too stocks 
it with cattle ; all which he is obliged to re- 
deliver in the same condition at his removal, 
which is at the goodman s pleasure, as he is 
usually himself tennent at pleasure, and for 
which during his possession he pays an extra 
vagantly high rent to the tacksman. 

" By this practice, farms, which one family 
and four horses are sufficient to labour, will 


have from four to sixteen famillys living upon 
them." 7 

" In the case of very great families, or when 
the domains of a chief became very extensive, 
it was usual for the head of the clan occasion 
ally to grant large territories to the younger 
branches of his family in return for a trifling 
quit-rent. These persons were called chieftains, 
to whom the lower classes looked up as their 
immediate leader. These chieftains were in 
later times called tacksmen ; but at all periods 
they were considered nearly in the same light 
as proprietors, and acted on the same prin 
ciples. They were the officers who, under the 
chief, commanded in the military expeditions 
of the clans. This was their employment ; 
and neither their oAvn dispositions, nor the 
situation of the country, inclined them to 
engage in the drudgery of agriculture any 
farther than to supply the necessaries of life 
for their own families. A part of their land 
was usually sufficient for this purpose, and the 
remainder was let off in small portions to cot 
tagers, who differed but little from the small 
occupiers who held their lands immediately 
from the chief; excepting that, in lieu of rent, 
they were bound to a certain amount of labour 
for the advantage of their immediate superior. 
The more of these people any gentleman 
could collect around his habitation, with the 
greater facility could he carry on the work of 
his own farm ; the greater, too, was his per 
sonal safety. Besides this, the tacksmen, 
holding their lands from the chief at a mere 
quit-rent, were naturally solicitous to merit his 
favour by the number of their immediate de 
pendants whom they could bring to join his 
standard." 8 

Thus it will be seen that in those times 
every one was, to a more or less extent, a cul 
tivator or renter of land. As to rent, there 
was very little of actual money paid either by 
the tacksmen or by those beneath them in 
position and importance. The return expected 
by the laird or chief from the tacksmen for 
the farms he allowed them to hold, was that 
they should be ready when required to produce 
as many fighting men as possible, and give 
him a certain share of the produce of the land 

7 Hurt s Letters, vol. ii. pp. 341-3. 

8 BeavM*:s of Scotland, vol. v. pp. 184, 5. 

they held from him. It was thus the interest 
of the tacksman to parcel out their land into 
as small lots as possible, for the more it was 
subdivided, the greater would be the number 
of men he could have at his command. This 
liability on the part of the subtenants to bi 
called upon at any time to do service for the 
laird, no doubt counted for part of the rent of 
the pendicles allotted to them. These pendi- 
cles were often very small, and evidently of 
themselves totally insufficient to afford the 
means of subsistence even to the smallest 
family. Besides this liability to do service 
for the chief, a very small sum of money was 
taken as part of the rent, the remainder being 
paid in kind, and in assisting the tacksmen to 
farm whatever land he may have retained in 
his own hands. In the same way the cottars, 
who were subtenants to the tacksmen s tenants, 
had to devote most of their time to the service 
of those from whom they immediately held 
their lands. Thus it will be seen that, although 
nominally the various tenants held their land 
from their immediate superiors at a merely 
nominal rent, in reality what was actually 
given in return for the use of the land would, 
in the end, probably turn out to be far more 
than its value. From the laird to the cottar 
there was an incessant series of exactions and 
services, grievous to be borne, and fatal to 
every kind of improvement. 

Besides the rent and services due by each 
class to its immediate superiors, there were 
numerous other exactions and services, to 
which all had to submit for the benefit of 
their chief. The most grievous perhaps 
of these was thirlage or multure, a due 
exacted from each tenant for the use of the 
mill of the district to convert their grain into 
meal. All the tenants of each district or 
parish were thirled or bound to take their 
grain to a particular mill to be ground, the 
miller being allowed to appropriate a certain 
proportion as payment for the use of the mill, 
and as a tax payable to the laird or chief. In 
this way a tenant was often deprived of a con 
siderable quantity of his grain, varying from 
one- sixteenth to one-eighth, and even more. 
In the same way many parishes were thirled to 
a particular smith. By these and similar ex 
actions and contributions did the proprietors 


and cliief men of the clan manage to support 
themselves off the produce of their land, keep 
a numerous band of retainers around them, 
have plenty for their own use, and for all who 
had any claim to their hospitality. This seems 
especially to have been the case when the 
Highlanders were in their palmiest days of 
independence, when they were but little mo 
lested from without, and when their chief 
occupations were clan-feuds and cattle raids. 
But latterly, and long before the abolition of 
heritable jurisdictions, this state of matters 
had for the most part departed, and although 
the chiefs still valued themselves by the num 
ber of men they could produce, they kept 
themselves much more to themselves, and 
showed less consideration for the inferior 
members of the clan, whose condition, even 
at its best, must appear to have been very 
wretched. " Of old, the chieftain was not so 
much considered the master as the father of 
his numerous clan. Every degree of these 
followers loved him with an enthusiasm, which 
made them cheerfully undergo any fatigue or 
danger. Upon the other hand, it was his in 
terest, his pride, and his chief glory, to requite 
such animated friendship to the utmost of his 
power. The rent paid him was chiefly con 
sumed in feasts given at the habitations of his 
tenants. What he was to spend, and the time 
of his residence at each village, Avas known 
and provided for accordingly. The men who 
provided these entertainments partook of them; 
they all lived friends together ; and the de 
parture of the chief and his retinue never fails 
to occasion regret. In more polished times, 
the cattle and corn consumed at these feasts 
of hospitality, were ordered up to the land 
lord s habitation. What was friendship at the 
first became very oppressive in modern times. 
Till very lately in this neighbourhood, Camp 
bell of Auchinbreck had a right to carry off the 
best cow he could find upon several properties 

at each Martinmas by way of mart. The 
Island of Islay paid 500 such cows yearly, and 
so did Kintyre to the Macdonalds." 9 Still, 
there can be no doubt, that previous to 1746 
it was the interest of the laird and chief tacks- 
men to keep the body of the people as con 
tented as possible, and do all in their power to 
attach them to their interest. Money was of 
but little use in the Highlands then ; there 
was scarcely anything in which jt could be 
spent ; and so long as his tenants furnished 
him with the means of maintaining a substan 
tial and extensive hospitality, the laird was not 
likely in general to complain. " The poverty of 
the tenants rendered it customary for the chief, 
or laird, to free some of them every year, from 
all arrears of rent ; this was supposed, upon an 
average, to be about one year in five of the 
whole estate." 1 

In the same letter from which the last sen 
tence is quoted, Captain Burt gives an extract 
from a Highland rent-roll, of date probably 
about 1730 ; we shall reproduce it here, as it 
will give the reader a better notion as to how 
those matters were managed in these old times, 
than any description can. " You will, it is 
likely," the letter begins, " think it strange 
that many of the Highland tenants are to 
maintain a family upon a farm of twelve 
merks Scots per annum, which is thirteen 
shillings and fourpence sterling, with perhaps 
a cow or two, or a very few sheep or goats ; 
but often the rent is less, and the cattle are 

" In some rentals you may see seven or 
eight columns of various species of rent, or 
more, viz., money, barley, oatmeal, sheep, 
lambs, butter, cheese, capons, &c. ; but every 
tenant does not pay all these kinds, though 
many of them the greatest part. What fol 
lows is a specimen taken out of a Highland 
rent-roll, and I do assure you it is genuine, and 
not the least by many : 

u _v v, Butter. Oatmeal, 

e-ngnsn. stones- Lt) Oz Bollg B> p Lip _ 

Scots Money. 

Donald mac Oil vie ille Challum ... 3 10 4 5 10| 032 0213 

Murdoch mac ille Christ 5 17 6 9 9| 064 0333 

Duncan mac ille Phadrick 706 12 34 078 1 3 04 

| and 1 1 g 
i and A 
\ and i 

I shall here give you a computation of the of the same farm and rent, as you may perceive 
first article, besides which there are seven more by the fraction of a sheep in the last column : 

9 Old Statistical Accoiint of North Knapdale. 

1 Burt s Letters, vol. ii. p. 57. 


The money ,, _ ... _ ,. 

5 101 Sterling. 

butter, three pounds two ounces, at 4d. per Ib 1 1 

Oatmeal, 2 bushels, 1 peck, 3 lippys and J, at Gd. per peck... 4 9| and i 

Sheep, one-eighth and one-sixteenth, at 2s Q 41 

The yearly rent of the farm is ......................... 12 


It is plain that in the majority of cases the 
farms must have been of very small extent, 
almost equal to those of Goldsmith s Golden 
Age, " when every rood maintained its man." 
In the head of the parish of Buchanan in 
Stirlingshire, as well as in several other places, 
there are to be found 150 families living upon 
grounds which do not pay above 90 sterling 
of yearly rent, that is, each family at a medium 
rents lands at twelve shillings of yearly rent." 2 
Tliis certainly seems to indicate a very wretched 
state of matters, and would almost lead one to 
expect to hear that a famine occurred every 
year. But it must be remembered that for the 
reasons above given, along with others, farms 
were let at a very small rent, far below the real 
value, and generally merely nominal ; that be 
sides money, rent at that time was all but uni 
versally paid in kind, and in services to the 
laird or other superior ; and that many of the 
people, especially on the border lands, had 
other means of existence, as for example, 
cattle-lifting. Nevertheless, making all these 
allowances, the condition of the great mass of 
the Highlanders must have been extremely 
wretched, although they themselves might not 
have felt it to be so, they had been so long 
accustomed to it. 

In such a state of matters, with the land so 
much subdivided, with no leases, and with 
tenures so uncertain, with so many oppressive 
exactions, with no incitements to industry or 
improvement, but with every encouragement 
to idleness and inglorious self-contentment, it 
is not to be supposed that agriculture or any 
other industry would make any great progress. 
For centuries previous to 1745, and indeed for 
long after it, agriculture appears to have re 
mained at a stand-still. The implements in 
use were rude and inefficient, the time devoted 
to the necessary farming operations, generally 
a few weeks in spring and autumn, was totally 
insufficient to produce results of any impor- 

2 Gartmore MS. 

tance, and consequently the crops raised, sel 
dom anything else but oats and barley, were 
scanty, wretched in quality, and seldom suffi 
cient to support the cultivator s family for 
the half of the year. In general, in the High 
lands, as the reader will already have seen, 
each farm was let to a number of tenants, who, 
as a rule, cultivated the arable ground on the 
system of run-rig, i.e., the ground was divided 
into ridges which were so distributed among 
the tenants that no one tenant possessed two 
contiguous ridges. Moreover, no tenant 
could have the same ridge for two years 
running, the ridges having a new culti 
vator every year. Such a system of allo 
cating arable land, it is very evident, must 
have been attended with the worst results so 
far as good farming is concerned. The only 
recommendation that it is possible to urge in 
its favour is that, there being no inclosures, it 
would be the interest of the tenants to join 
together in protecting the land they thus held 
in common against the ravages of the cattle 
which were allowed to roam about the hills, 
and the depredations of hostile clans. As we 
have just said, there were no inclosures in the 
Highlands previous to 1745, nor were there 
for very many years after that. While the 
crops were standing in the ground, and liable 
to be destroyed by the cattle, the latter were 
kept, for a few weeks in summer and autumn, 
upon the hills; but after the crops were 
gathered in, they were allowed to roam un 
heeded through the whole of a district or 
parish, thus affording facilities for the cattle- 
aids that formed so important an item in the 
means of obtaining a Livelihood among the 
ancient Highlanders. 

As a rule, the only crops attempted to be 
aised were oats and barley, and sometimes a 
ittle flax; green crops were almost totally 
inknown or despised, till many years after 
745 ; even potatoes do not seem to have 
jeen at all common till after 1750, although 
atterly they became the staple food of the 


Highlanders. Rotation of crops, or indeed 
any approach to scientific agriculture, was 
totally unknown. The ground was divided 
into infield and outfield. The infield was 
constantly cropped, either with oats or bear ; 
one ridge being oats, the other bear alter 
nately. There was no other crop except a 
ridge of flax where the ground was thought 
proper for it. The outfield was ploughed 
three years for oats, and then pastured for 
six years with horses, black cattle, and sheep. 
In order to dung it, folds of sod were made 
for the cattle, and what were called flakes or 
rails of wood, removable at pleasure, for fold 
ing the sheep. A farmer who rented 60, 80, 

or 100 acres, was sometimes under the neces 
sity of buying meal for his family in the sum 
mer season. 3 

Their agricultural implements, it may easily 
be surmised, were as rude as their system of 
farming. The chief of these were the old 
Scotch plough and the easchroim or crooked 
spade, which latter, though primitive enough, 
seems to have been not badly suited to the 
turning over of the land in many parts of 
the Highlands. The length of the Highland 
plough was about four feet and a half, and 
had only one stilt or handle, by which the 
ploughman directed it. A slight mould-board 
was fastened to it with two leather straps, and 

1. Old Scotch plough. 2. Caschroim, or crooked spade. 

the sock and coulter were bound together at 
the point with a ring of iron. To this plough 
there were yoked abreast four, six, and even 
more horses or cattle, or both mixed, in traces 
made of thongs of leather. To manage this 
unwieldy machine it required three or four 
men. The ploughman walked by the side of 
the plough, holding the stilt with one hand ; 
the driver walked backwards in front of the 
horses or cattle, having the reins fixed on a 
cross stick, which he appears to have held in 
his hands. 4 Behind the ploughman came one 

3 Old Statistical Account, vol. ix. p. 494. 

4 " When I first saw this awkward method as I then 
thought it, I rode up to the person who guided the 
machine, to ask him some questions concerning it : he 
epoke pretty good English, which made me conclude 


and sometimes two men, whose business it 
was to lay down with a spade the turf that 

he was a gentleman ; and yet, in quality of a proprie 
tor and conductor, might, without dishonour, employ 
himself in such a work. My first question was, 
whether that method was common to the Highlands, 
or peculiar to that part of the country ? and, by way 
of answer, he asked me, if they ploughed otherwise 
anywhere else ? Upon my further inquiry why the 
man went backwards ? he stopped, and very civilly 
informed me that there were several small rocks, 
which I did not see, that had a little part of them 
just peeping on the surface, and therefore it was 
necessary his servant should see and avoid them, by 
guiding the horses accordingly, or otherwise his 
plough might he spoiled by the shock. The answer- 
was satisfactory and convincing, and I must here take 
notice that many other of their methods are too well 
suited to their own circumstances, and those of the 
country, to be easily amended by such as under 
take to deride them." Burt s Letters, vol. ii. pp. 42, 



was torn off. In the Hebrides and some other 
places of the Highlands, a curious instrument 
called a Reestle or Resile, was used in conjunc 
tion with this plough. Its coulter was shaped 
somewhat like a sickle, the instrument itself 
being otherwise like the plough just described. 
It was drawn by one horse, which was led by 
a man, another man holding and directing it 
by the stilt. It was drawn before the plough 
in order to remove obstructions, such as roots, 
tough grass, &c., which would have been apt 
to obstruct the progress of a weak plough like 
the above. In this way, it will be seen, fiye 
or six men, and an equal number if not 
more horses or cattle, were occupied in this 
single agricultural operation, performed now 
much more effectively by one man and two 
horses. 5 

The Caschroim,i.e,,ihQ crooked foot or spade, 
was an instrument peculiarly suited to the cul 
tivation of certain parts of the Highlands, 
totally inaccessible to a plough, on account of 
the broken and rocky nature of the ground. 
Moreover, the land turned over with the cas- 
chroiin was considerably more productive than 
that to which the above plough had been used. 
It consists of a strong piece of wood, about six 
feet long, bent near the lower end, and having 
a thick flat wooden head, shod at the extremity 
svith a sharp piece of iron. A piece of wood 
projected about eight inches from the right 
side of the blade, and on this the foot was 
placed to force the instrument diagonally into 
the ground. " With this instrument a High 
lander will open up more ground in a day, and 
render it tit for the sowing of grain, than could 
be done by two or three men with any other 
spades that are commonly used. He will dig 
as much ground in a day as will sow more 
than a peck of oats. If he works assiduously 
from about Christmas to near the end of April, 
he will prepare land sufficient to sow five bolls. 
After this he will dig as much land in a day as 
will sow two pecks of bere ; and in the course 
of the season will cultivate as much land with 
his spade as is sufficient to supply a family of 
seven or eight persons, the year round, with 
meal and potatoes. ... It appears, in general, 
that a field laboured with the caschroim affords 
usually one-third more crop than if laboured 

* Walker s Hebrides, vol. i. p. 122. 

with the plough. Poor land will afford near 
one-half more. But then it must be noticed 
that this tillage with the plough is very imper 
fect, and the soil scarcely half laboured." 6 No 
doubt this mode of cultivation was suitable 
enough in a country overstocked with popula 
tion, as the Highlands were in the early part 
of last century, and where time and labour 
were of very little value. There were plenty of 
men to spare for such work, and there was 
little else to do but provide themselves with 
food. Still it is calculated that this spade 
labour was three times more expensive than 
that of the above clumsy plough. The cas 
chroim was frequently used where there would 
have been no difficulty in working a plough, 
the reason apparently being that the horses and 
cattle were in such a wretched condition that 
the early farming operations in spring com 
pletely exhausted them, and therefore much of 
the ploughing left undone by them had to be 
performed with the crooked spade. 

As to harrows, where they were used at all, 
they appear to have been of about as little use 
as a hand-rake. Some of them, which re 
sembled hay-rakes, were managed by the hand ; 
others, drawn by horses, were light and feeble, 
with wooden teeth, which might scratch the 
surface and cover the seed, but could have no 
effect in breaking the soil. 7 In some parts of 
the Highlands it was the custom to fasten the 
harrow to the horse s tail, and when it became 
too short, it was lengthened with twisted 

To quote further from Dr Walker s work, 
which describes matters as they existed about 
1760, and the statements in which will apply 
with still greater force to the earlier half of the 
century : " The want of proper carriages in 
the Highlands is one of the great obstacles to 
the progress of agriculture, and of every im 
provement. Having no carts, their corn, straw, 
manures, fuel, stone, timber, seaweed, and kelp, 
the articles necessary in the fisheries, and every 
other bulky commodity, must be transported 
from one place to another on horseback or on 
sledges. This must triple or quadruple the 
expense of their carriage. It must prevent 
particularly the use of the natural manures 
with which the country abounds, as, with- 

6 Walker s Hebrides, vol. i. p. 127. 7 Idem, 131. 



out cheap carriage, they cannot be rendered 
profitable. The roads in most places are so 
bad as to render the use of wheel-carriages 
impossible; but they are not brought into 
use even where the natural roads would admit 
them." s 

As we have said already, farming operations 
in the Highlands lasted only for a few weeks 
in spring and autumn. Ploughing in general 
did not commence till March, and was con 
cluded in May ; there was no autumn or winter 
ploughing ; the ground was left untouched and 
unoccupied except by some cattle from harvest 
to spring time. It was only after the introduc 
tion of potatoes that the Highlanders felt 
themselves compelled to begin operations about 
January. As to the modus operandi of the 
Highland farmer in the olden time, we quote 
the following from the old Statistical Account 
of the parish of Dunkeld and Dowally, which 
may be taken as a very fair representative of 
all the other Highland parishes ; indeed, as 
being on the border of the lowlands, it may be 
regarded as having been, with regard to agri 
culture and other matters, in a more advanced 
state than the generality of the more remote 
parishes : " The farmer, whatever the state of 
the weather was, obstinately adhered to the 
immemorial practice of beginning to plough on 
Old Candlemas Day, and to sow on the 20th 
of March. Summer fallow, turnip crops, and 
sown grass were unknown ; so were compost 
dunghills and the purchasing of lime. Clumps 
of brushwood and heaps of stones everywhere 
interrupted and deformed the fields. The 
customary rotation of their general crops was 
1. Barley; 2. Oats; 3. Oats; 4. Barley; and 
each year they had a part of the farm employed 
in raising flax. The operations respecting 
these took place in the following succession. 
They began on the day already mentioned to 
rib the ground, on which they intended to sow 
barley, that is, to draw a wide furrow, so as 
merely to make the land, as they termed it, 
red. In that state this ground remained till 
the fields assigned to oats were ploughed and 
sown. This was in general accomplished by 
the end of April. The farmer next proceeded 
to prepare for his flax crop, and to sow it, 
which occupied him till the middle of May. 

8 Walker s Hebrides, vol. i. p. 133. 

when he began to harrow, and dung, and sow 
the ribbed barley land. This last was some 
times not finished till the month of June." 9 
As to draining, fallowing, methodical manur 
ing and nourishing the soil, or any of the 
modern operations for making the best of the 
arable land of the country, of these the High 
lander never even dreamed : and long after 1 
they had become common in the low country, 
it was with the utmost difficulty that his rooted 
aversion to innovations could be overcome. 
They literally seem to have taken no thought 
for the morrow, and the tradition and usage of 
ages had given them an almost insuperable 
aversion to manual labour of any kind. This pre 
judice against work was not the result of inherent 
laziness, for the Highlander, both in ancient and 
modern times, has clearly shown that his capacity 
for work and willingness to exert himself are as 
strong and active as those of the most indus 
trious lowlander or Englishman. The humblest 
Highlander believed himself a gentleman, hav 
ing blood as rich and old as his chief, and he 
shared in the belief, far from being obsolete 
even at the present day, that for a gentleman 
to soil his hands with labour is as degrading 
as slavery. 2 This belief was undoubtedly one 

M Old Statistical Account, vol. xx. p. 74. 

1 " Nothing is more common than to hear the High 
landers boast how much their country might be im 
proved, and that it would produce double what it does 
at present if better husbandry were introduced among 
them. For my own part, it was always the only 
amusement I had in the hills, to observe every minute 
thing in my way ; and I do assure you, I do not re 
member to have seen the least spot that would bear 
corn uncultivated, not even upon the sides of the hills, 
where it could be no otherwise broke \\p than with a 
spade. And as for manure to supply the salts and 
enrich the ground they have hardly any. In summer 
their cattle are dispersed about the shcelings, and 
almost all the rest of the year in other parts of the 
hills ; and, therefore, all the dung they can have must 
be from the trifling quantity made by the cattle while 
they are in the house. I never knew or heard of any 
limestone, chalk, or marl, they have in the country ; 
and, if some of their rocks might serve for limestone, 
in that case their kilns, carriage, and fuel would ren 
der it so expensive, it would be the same thing to 
them as if there were none. Their great dependence 
is upon the nitre of the snow, and they lament the 
disappointment if it does not fall early in the season." 
.Hurt s Letters, vol. ii. p. 48-9. 

2 " An English lady, who found herself something 
decaying in her health, and was advised to go among 
the hills, and drink goat s milk or whey, told me 
lately, that seeing a Highlander basking at the foot of 
a hill in his full dress, while his wife and her mother 
were hard at work in reaping the oats, she asked the 
old woman how she could be contented to see her 
daughter labour in that manner, while her husband 



of the strongest principles of action which 
guided the ancient Highlanders, and accounts, 
we think, to a great extent for his apparent 
laziness, and for the slovenly and laggard way 
in which farming operations were conducted. 

There were, however, no doubt other reasons 
for the wretched state of agriculture in the 
Highlands previous to, and for long after, 1745. 
The Highlanders had much to struggle against, 
and much calculated to dishearten them, in the 
nature of the soil and climate, on which, to a 
great extent, the success of agricultural operations 
is dependent. In many parts of the Highlands, 
especially in the west, rain falls for the greater 
part of the year, thus frequently preventing 
the completion of the necessary processes, as 
well as destroying the crops when put into the 
ground. As to the soil, no unprejudiced man 
who is competent to judge will for one moment 
deny that a great part of it is totally unsuited 
to agriculture, but fitted only for the pasturage 
of sheep, cattle, and deer. In the Old Statis 
tical Account of Scotland, this assertion is 
being constantly repeated by the various High 
land ministers who report upon the state of 
their parishes. In the case of many Highland 
districts, one could conceive of nothing more 
hopeless and discouraging than the attempt to 
force from them a crop of grain. That there are 
spots in the Highlands as susceptible of high 
culture as some of the best in the lowlands 
cannot be denied ; but these bear but a small 
proportion to the great quantity of ground that 
is fitted only to yield a sustenance to cattle 
and sheep. Now all reports seem to justify 
the conclusion that, previous to, and for lono- 
after 1745, the Highlands were enormously 
overstocked with inhabitants, considering the 
utter want of manufactures and the few other 

was only an idle spectator ? And to this the woman 
answered, that her son-in-law was a gentleman, and it 
would be a disparagement to him to do any such work ; 
and that both she and her daughter too were suffi 
ciently honoured by the alliance. This instance, I 
own, has something particular in it, as such ; but the 
thing is very common, d la Palatine, among the mid 
dling sort of people." Surfs Letters, vol. ii. p. 45. 

The Highlander at home is indolent. It is with 
impatience that he allows himself to be diverted 
from his favourite occupation of traversing the 
mountains and moors in looking after his flocks, a 
few days in spring and autumn, for the purposes of 
his narrow scheme of agriculture. It is remarked, 
however, that the Highlander, when removed beyond 
his native bounds, is found capable of abundant exer 
tion and industry. Graham s Perthshire, 235. 

outlets there were for labour. Thus, we think, 
the Highlander would be apt to feel that any 
extraordinary exertion was absolutely useless, 
as there was not the smallest chance of his 
ever being able to improve his position, or to 
make himself, by means of agriculture, better 
than his neighbour. All he seems to have 
sought for was to raise as much grain as \vculd 
keep himself and family in bread during the 
miserable winter months, and meet the de 
mands of the laird. 

The small amount of arable land was no 
doubt also the reason of the incessant cropping 
which prevails, and which ultimately left the 
land in a state of complete exhaustion. " To 
this sort of management, bad as it is, the inha 
bitants are in some degree constrained, from 
the small proportion of arable land upon their 
farms. From necessity they are forced to raise 
what little grain they can, though at a great 
expense of labour, the produce being so incon 
siderable. A crop of oats on outfield ground, 
without manure, they find more beneficial than 
the pasture. But if they must manure for a 
crop of oats, they reckon the crop of natural 
grass rather more profitable. But the scarcity 
of bread corn or rather, indeed, the want of 
bread obliges them to pursue the less profit 
able practice. Oats and bear being necessary 
for their subsistence, they must prefer them to 
every other produce. The land at present in 
tillage, and fit to produce them, is very limited, 
and inadequate to the consumption of the 
inhabitants. They are, therefore, obliged to 
make it yield as much of these grains as pos 
sible, by scourging crops." 3 

Another great discouragement to good farm 
ing was the multitude and grievous nature of 
the services demanded from the tenant by the 
landlord as part payment of rent. So multi 
farious were these, and so much of the farmer s 
time did they occupy, that frequently his own 
farming affairs got little or none of his per 
sonal attention, but had to be entrusted to his 
wife and family, or to the cottars whom he 
housed on his farm, and who, for an acre or so 
of ground and liberty to pasture an ox or two 
and a few sheep, performed to the farmer ser 
vices similar to those rendered by the latter to 
his laird. Often a farmer had only one day in 

3 Walker s Hebrides, &c., vol. i. p. lj)7. 



the week to himself, so undefined and so un 
limited in extent were these services. Even 
in. some parishes, so late as 1790, the tenant 
for his laird (or master, as he was often called) 
had to plough, harrow, and manure his land 
in spring ; cut corn, cut, winnow, lead, and 
stack his hay in summer, as well as thatch 
office-houses with his own (the tenant s) turf 
and straw ; in harvest assist to cut down the 
master s crop whenever called upon, to the 
latter s neglect of his own, and help to store it 
in the cornyard ; in winter frequently a tenant 
had to thrash his master s crop, winter his 
cattle, and find ropes for the ploughs and for 
binding the cattle. Moreover, a tenant had 
to take his master s grain from him, see that it 
was properly put through all the processes 
necessary to convert it into meal, and return it 
ready for use ; place his time and his horses at 
the laird s disposal, to "buy in fuel for the 
latter, run a message whenever summoned to 
do so ; in short, the condition of a tenant in 
the Highlands during the early part of last 
century, and even down to the end of it in 
some places, was little better than a slave. 4 

Not that, previous to 1745, this state of mat 
ters was universally felt to be a grievance by ten 
ants and farmers in the Highlands, although it 
had to a large extent been abolished both in 
England and the lowlands of Scotland. On the 
contrary, the people themselves appear to have 
accepted this as the natural and inevitable 
state of things, the only system consistent with 
the spirit of clanship with the supremacy of the 
chiefs. That this was not, however, univer 
sally the case, may be seen from the fact that, 
so early as 1729, Brigadier Macintosh of Bor- 
lum (famous in the affair of 1715) published a 
book, or rather essay, on Ways and Means for 
Kudosing, Fallowing, Planting, $c., Scotland, 
which he prefaced by a strongly-worded exhorta 
tion to the gentlemen of Scotland to abolish this 
degrading and suicidal system, which was as 
much against their own interests as it was op 
pressive to the tenants. Still, after 1745, there 
seems to be no doubt that, as a rule, the ordinary 
Highlander acquiesced contentedly in the esta 
blished state of things, and generally, so far as 
his immediate wants were concerned, suffered 
little or nothing from the system. It was only 

4 Old Statistical Account, vol. x. \>. 17. 

after the abolition of the jurisdictions that the 
grievous oppressive hardship, injustice, and 
obstruct! veness of the system became evident. 
Previous to that, it was, of course, the laird s 
or chief s interest to keep his tenants attached 
to him. and contented, and to see that they did 
not want; not only so, but previous to that 
epoch, what was deficient in the supply ol 
food produced by any parish or district, was 
generally amply compensated for by the levies 
of cattle and other gear made by the clans 
upon each other when hostile, or upon their 
lawful prey, the Lowlanders. But even Avith 
all this, it would seem that, not unfrequently, 
the Highlanders, either universally or in cer 
tain districts, were reduced to sore straits, and 
even sometimes devastated by famine. Their 
crops and other supplies were so exactly squared 
to their wants, that, whenever the least failure 
took place in the expected quantity, scarcity or 
cruel famine was the result. According to Dr 
Walker, the inhabitants of some of the Western 
Isles look for a failure once in every four years. 
Maston, in his Description of the Western 
Islands, complained that many died from 
famine arising from years of scarcity, and 
about 1742, many over all the Highlands ap 
pear to have shared the same fate from the 
same cause. 5 So that, even under the old 
system, when the clansmen were faithful and 
obedient, and the chief was kind and liberal, 
and many cattle and other productions were 
imported free of all cost, the majority of the 
people lived from hand to mouth, and fre 
quently suffered from scarcity and want. In 
finitely more so was this the case when it ceased 
to be the interest of the laird to keep around 
him numerous tenants. 

All these things being taken into considera 
tion, it is not to be wondered at that agricul 
ture in the Highlands was for so long in such 
a wretched condition. 

They set anich store, however, by their small 
black cattle and diminutive sheep, and appear 
in many districts to have put more dependence 
upon them for furnishing the means of exist 
ence, than upon what the soil could yield. 

The live-stock of a Highland farm consisted 
mainly of horses, sheep, and cattle, all of them 

5 See accounts of various Highland parishes in the 

Old Statistical Account. 



of a peculiarly small breed, and capable of 
yielding but little profit. The number of 
horses generally kept by a farmer was out of 
aU proportion to the size of his farm and the 
number of other cattle belonging to him. The 
proportion of horses to cattle often ranged from 
one in eight to one in four. For example, 
Dr Webster mentions a farm in Kintail, upon 
which there were forty milk co\vs, which with 
the young stock made one hundred and twenty 
head of cattle, about two hundred and fifty 
goats and ewes, young and old, and ten horses. 
The reason that so great a proportion of horses 
was kept, was evidently the great number that 
were necessary for the operation of ploughing, 
and the fact that in the greater part of the 
Highlands carts were unknown, and fuel, 
grain, manure, and many other things gene 
rally carried in machines, had to be conveyed 
on the backs of the horses, which were of a 
very small breed, although of wonderful 
strength considering their rough treatment and 
scanty fare. They were frequently plump, 
active, and endurable, though they had neither 
size nor strength for laborious cultivation. 
They were generally from nine to twelve hands 
high, short-necked, chubby-headed, and thick 
and flat at the withers. 6 " They are so small 
that a middle-sized man must keep his legs 
almost in lines parallel to their sides when 
carried over the stony ways ; and it is almost 
incredible to those who have not seen it how 
nimbly they skip with a heavy rider among 
the rocks and large moor-stones, turning zig-zag 
to such places as are passable." 7 Walker 
believes that scarcely any horses could go 
through so much labour and fatigue upon so 
little sustenance. 8 They were generally called 

I Walker s Hebrides, &e., vol. ii. p. 159. 

7 Hurt s Letters, vol. ii. p. 38. 

3 Still they would seem to have been of compara 
tively httle use for farming operations ; for Dr 
Walker, writing about 1760, when the breed was at 
least no worse than it was previous to 1745, speaks 
thus : The number of horses is by far too Wat 
upon every Highland farm. They are so numerous 
because they are inefficient ; and they are iiieflicient 
because they have neither stature nor food to render 
them sufficiently useful. Their number has never 
been restrained by the authority of the landlords, like 
that of the sheep. For in many places, they are bred 
and sold off the farm to advantage, being sent in 
droves to the south. In this case, their numbers upon 
a farm may be proper. But in general, there are six, 
eight, or ten horses upon the smaller farms and 
sixteen, twenty, or more upon the larger ; without 
=my being bred for sale, and even few for supporting 

garrons, and seem in many respects to havo 
resembled the modern Shetland pony. These 
horses for the greater part of the year were 
allowed to run wild among the hills, each 
having a mark indicating its owner; during 
the severest part of winter they were sometimes 
brought down and fed as well as their owners 
could afford. They seem frequently to have 
been bred for exportation. 

Sheep, latterly so intimately associated with 
the Highlands, bore but a very small propor 
tion to the number of black cattle. Indeed, 
before sheep-farming began to take place upon 
so large a scale, and to receive encouragement 
from the proprietors, the latter were generally 
in the habit of restricting their tenants to a 
limited number of sheep, seldom more than one 
sheep for one cow. This restriction appears to 
have arisen from the real or supposed interest 
of the landlord, who looked for the money part 
of his rent solely from the produce of sale ol 
the tenants cattle. Sheep were thus con 
sidered not as an article of profit, but merely 
as part of the means by which the farmer s 
family Avas clothed and fed, and therefore the 
landlord was anxious that the number should 
not be more than was absolutely necessary. 
In a very few years after 1745, a complete 
revolution took place in this respect. 

The old native sheep of the Highlands, now 
rare, though common in some parts of Shetland, 
is thus described by Dr Walker. It is the 
smallest animal of its kind. It is of a thin 
lank shape, and has short straight horns. The 
face and legs are white, the tail extremely 
short, and the wool of various colours ; for, 
beside black and white, it is sometimes of a 
bluish grey colour, at other times brown, and 
sometimes of a deep russet, and frequently an 
individual is blotched with two or three of 
these different colours. In some of the low 
islands, where the pasture answers, the wool of 
this small sheep is of the finest kind, and the 
same with that of Shetland. In the moun 
tainous islands, the animal is found of the 
smallest size, with coarser wool, and with this 

the stock. None of them perform the work of a 
horse ; even where such numbers are kept, and purely 
for labour, each of them, in many places, do not 
plough two acres of land annually. They get no food 
the whole year round, but what they can pick up 
upon the hills, and their sustenance is therefore 
unluckily accounted as nothing. 



very remarkable character, that it has often 
four, and sometimes even six horns. 

" Such is the original breed of sheep over all 
the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It varies 
much indeed in its properties, according to the 
climate and pasture of different districts; but, in 
general, it is so diminutive in size, and of so 
bad a form, that it is requisite it should be 
given up, wherever sheep-farming is to be fol 
lowed to any considerable extent. From this 
there is only one exception : in some places the 
wool is of such a superior quality, and so 
valuable, that the breed perhaps may, on that 
account, be with advantage retained." 

The small, shaggy black cattle, so well 
known even at the present day in connection 
with the Highlands, was the principal live 
stock cultivated previous to the alterations 
which followed 17-15. This breed appears to 
have been excellent in its kind, and the best 
adapted for the country, and was quite capable 
of being brought to admirable perfection by 
proper care, feeding, and management. But 
little care, however, was bestowed on the 
rearing of these animals, and in general they 
were allowed to forage for themselves as best 
they could. As we have said already, the 
Highland farmer of those days regarded his 
cattle as the only money-producing article with 
which his farm was stocked, all the other pro 
ducts being necessary for the subsistence of 
himself and his family. It was mainly the 
Battle that paid the rent. It was therefore 
very natural that the farmer should endeavour 
to have as large a stock of this commodity as 
possible, the result being that, blind to his own 
real interests, he generally to a large extent 
overstocked his farm. According to Dr Walker, 9 
over all the farms in the north, there was kept 
above one-third more of cattle than what under 
the then prevailing system of management 
could be properly supported. The consequence 
of" course was, that the cattle were generally in 
a half-fed and lean condition, and, during 
winter especially, they died in great numbers. 
As a rule, the arable land in the Highlands 
bore, and still bears, but a very small propor 
tion to that devoted to pasture. The arable 
land is as a rule by the sea-shore, on the side; 
of a river or lake, or in a valley ; while the 

Hulridfs, &c., vol. ii. p. 50. 

rest of the farm, devoted to pasturage, stretches 
often for many miles away among the hills. 
The old mode of valuing or dividing lands in 
Scotland was into shilling, sixpenny, and 
threepenny lands of Scotch money. Latterly 
the English denomination of money was used, 
and these divisions were termed penny, 1 half 
penny, and farthing lands. A tacksman gene 
rally rented a large number of these penny 
lands, and either farmed them himself, or, as 
was very often done, sublet them to a number 
of tenants, none of whom as a rule held more 
than a penny land, and many, having less than 
a farthing land, paying from a few shillings to 
a few pounds of rent. Where a number of 
tenants thus rented land from a tacksman 01 
proprietor, they generally laboured the arable 
land in common, and each received a portion 
of the produce proportioned to his share in the 
general holding. The pasturage, which formed 
by far the largest part of the farm, they had in 
common for the use of their cattle, each tenant 
being allowed to pasture a certain number of 
cattle and sheep, soumed or proportioned 2 to the 
quantity of land he held. " The tenant of a 
penny land often keeps four or five cows, with 
what are called their followers, six or eight horses, 
and some sheep. The followers are the calf, a 
one-year-old, a two-year-old, and a three-year- 
old, making in all with the cow five head of 
black cattle. By frequent deaths among them, 
the number is seldom complete, yet this penny 
land has or may have upon it about twenty or 
twenty -five head of black cattle, besides horses 
and sheep." The halfpenny and farthing lands 
seem to have been allowed a larger proportion 
of live stock than the penny lands, considering 
theii size. 3 It was seldom, however, that a 
tenant confined himself strictly to the number 
for which he was soumed, the desire to have 
as much as possible of the most profitable 
commodity frequently inducing to overstock, 
and thus defeat his main purpose. 

During summer and autumn, the cattle and 
other live stock were confined to the hills to 
prevent them doing injury to the crops, for 

1 A penny land apparently contained about the 
tenth part of a davoch, i.e., about forty acres. 

2 The rule in semiring seems to have been that one 
cow was equal to eight, in some places ten, sheep, 
and two cows equal to one horse. 

:i Walker s Hebrides, &c. , vol. i. p. 56. 


the lauds were totally unprotected by enclo 
sures. After the ground was cleared of the 
crops, the animals were allowed to roam pro 
miscuously over the whole farm, if not over 
the farms of a whole district, having little or 
nothing to eat in the winter and spring but 
what they could pick up in the fields. It 
seems to have been a common but very absurd 
notion in the Highlands that the housing of 
cattle tended to enfeeble them ; thus many 
cattle died of cold and starvation every winter, 
those who survived were mere skeletons, and, 
moreover, the farmer lost all their dung which 
could have been turned to good use as manure. 
Many of the cows, from poverty and disease, 
brought a calf only once in two years, and it 
was often a month or six weeks before the 
cow could give sufficient milk to nourish her 
offspring. Thus many of the Highland cattle 
were starved to death in their calf s skin. 

A custom prevailed among the Highlanders 
of old, common to them with other mountainous 
pastoral countries, e.g., Switzerland. During 
winter the tenants of a farm with their families, 
cottars, and servants, lived in the Bailte 
Geamhre, or winter town, in the midst of the 
arable land; but in summer, after all the 
sowing was done, about the middle of June, a 
general migration was made to the hills along 
with the cattle, the arable ground with all its 
appurtenances being allowed to take care of 
itself. The following passage, quoted from the 
old Statistical Account of Boleskine and Aber- 
tarff, Inverness-shire, will give a notion of the 
working of this practice : 

" The whole country, with two exceptions, 
consists of a variety of half davoch-lands, each 
of which was let or disponed by the Lovat 
family or their chamberlain to a wadsetter or 
principal tacksman, and had no concern with 
the sub-tenantry ; each sub-tenant had again a 
variety of cottars, equally unconnected with the 
principal tacksman ; and each of these had a 
number of cattle of all denominations, propor 
tional to their respective holdings, with the 
produce whereof he fed and clad himself and 
whole family. As there were extensive sheal- 
lings or grasings attached to this country, in 
the neighbourhood of the lordship of Badenoch, 
the inhabitants in tho beginning of summer 
removed to these sheallings with their whole 

cattle, man. woman, and child ; and it was no 
uncommon thing to observe an infant in one 
creel, and a stone on the other side of the 
horse, to keep up an equilibrium ; and when 
the grass became scarce in the sheallings, they 
returned again to their principal farms, where 
they remained while they had sufficiency of 
pasture, and then, in the same manner, went 
back to their sheallings, and observed this 
ambulatory course during the seasons of vege 
tation ; and the only operations attended to 
during the summer season was their peats or 
fuel, and repairing their rustic habitations. 
When their small crops were fit for it, all 
hands descended from the hills, and continued 
on the farms till the same was cut and secured 
in barns, the walls of which were generally 
made of dry stone, or wreathed with branches 
or boughs of trees ; and it was no singular 
custom, after harvest, for the whole inhabit 
ants to return to their sheallings, and to 
abide there till driven from thence by the 

snow. During the winter and 



whole pasturage of the country was a common, 
and a poind-fold was a thing totally unknown. 
The cultivation of the country was all per 
formed in spring, the inhabitants having no 
taste for following green crops or other modern 

The milk produced by the small Highland 
cows was, and indeed is, small in quantity, but 
in quality it resembles what in the Lowlands 
is known as cream. Of course, the butter and 
cheese made from such milk is unusually rich. 

About the end of August or beginning of 
September, the cattle had generally been got 
into good condition by their summer feeding, 
the beef then, according to Captain Burt, 
being " extremely sweet and succulent." It 
was at this time that the drovers collected their 
herds, and drove them to the fairs and markets 
on the borders of the lowlands, and sometimes 
so far south as the north of England. As from 
the want of good roads and any means of rapid 
conveyance, the drovers took a considerable 
time to reach their destination, and had in the 
meantime to be fed, a certain sum per head had 
to be paid to the owners of the territories 
through which they passed, for the liberty of 
being allowed grazing for the cattle. Burt 
gives the following graphic account of a scene 



he himself witnessed on the march south of one 
of these herds of cattle. " I have several times 
seen them driving great numbers of cattle 
along the sides of the mountains at a great 
distance, but never, except once, was near them. 
This was in a time of rain, by a wide river, 
where there was a boat to ferry over the 
drovers. The cows were about fifty in number, 
and took the water like spaniels ; and when they 
were in, their drivers made a hideous cry to 
urge them forwards : this, they told me, they 
did to keep the foremost of them from turning 
about ; for, in that case, the rest would do 
the like, and then they Avould be in danger, 
especially the weakest of them, to be driven 
away and drowned by the torrent. I thought 
it a very odd sight to see so many noses 
and eyes just above water, and nothing of 
them more to be seen, for they had no horns, 
and upon the land they appeared like so many 
large Lincolnshire calves." These drovers do 
not seem as a rule to have been the owners of 
cattle, but a class of men whose business it was 
to collect into one herd or drove the saleable 
cattle of a number of farmers, take them south to 
the markets and bring back the money, receiving 
a small commission for their trouble. As a rule 
they seem to have been men who, when their in 
tegrity was relied on, made it a point of honour to 
be able to render a satisfactory account of every 
animal and every farthing ; although probably 
no one would be more ready to join in a creach 
or cattle-lifting expedition, which in those days 
was considered as honourable as warfare. The 
drovers " conducted the cattle by easy stages 
across the country in trackways, which, whilst 
they were less circuitous than public roads, 
were softer for the feet of the animals, and he 
often rested at night in the open fields with his 
herds." 4 A good idea of the character of this 
class of Highlanders may be obtained from Sir 
Walter Scott s Chronicles of the Canongate. 5 

4 Logan s Scottish Gael, vol. ii. p. 65. 

5 The following remarks, taken from the Gartmore 
MS. at the end of Burt s Letters, gives one by no means 
a favourable idea of these drovers, but it must be borne 
in mind that the writer lived on the border of the 
most notorious and ill-behaved part of the Highlands, 
Rob Roy s country, and that he himself was properly 
a Lowlander. The extract will serve to show how busi 
ness transactions were conducted in the Highlands. 
" It is alledged, that much of the Highlands lye at a 
great distance from publick fairs, mercates, and places 
of commerce, and that the access to these places is both 


All the other operations connected with 01 
arising out of agriculture were conducted in 
as rude and ineffective a manner as those above 
mentioned. The harvest was always an anxious 
season with the Highlander, as from the wet 
ness of the climate and the early period at 
which rain set in, their crops might never come 
to useful perfection, or might be swept away by 
floods or heavy rains before they could be 
gathered in. 6 l)r Walker declares that in the 
Hebrides and Western Highlands the people 
made up their minds to lose one harvest in 
four on account of the wetness of the climate. 
If the crops, however, escaped destruction from 
the elements, the farmers were glad to get them 
reaped as quickly as possible. As a rule, the 
common sickle seems to have been used for 
cutting doAvn the grain, although it appears 
to have been not uncommon to tear it from the 

difficult and dangerous ; by reason of all which, trad 
ing people decline to go into the country in order to 
traffick and deal with the people. It is on this account 
that the farmers, having no way to turn the produce 
of their farms, which is mostly cattle, into money, 
are obliged to pay their rents in cattle, which the land 
lord takes at his own price, in regaird that he must 
either grase them himself, send them to distant mar 
kets, or credite some person with them, to be againe at 
a certain profite disposed of by him. This introduced 
the busieness of that sort of people commonly known 
by the name of Drovers. These men have little or no 
substance, they must know the language, the different 
places, and consequently be of that country. The far 
mers, then, do either sell their cattle to these drovers 
upon credite, at the drovers price (for ready money 
they seldom have), or to the landlord at his price, for 
payment of his rent. If this last is the case, the land 
lord does again dispose of them to the drover upon 
credite, and these drovers make what profites they can 
by selling them to grasiers, or at markets. These dro 
vers make payments, and keep credite for a few years, 
and then they either in reality become bankrupts, or 
pretend to be so . The last is most frequently the case, 
and then the siibject of which they have cheated is pri 
vately transferred to a confident person in whose name, 
upon that reall stock, a trade is sometimes carried on, 
for their behoof, till this trustee gett into credite, and 
prepaire his affairs for a bankruptcy. Thus the farmers 
are still keept poor ; they first sell at an under rate, and 
then they often lose alltogether. The landlords, too, 
must either turn traders, and take their cattle to mar 
kets, or give these people credite, and by the same 
means suffer." Burt s Letters, vol. ii. pp. 364, 365. 

The latter part of the season is often very wet ; 
and the corn, particularly oats, suffer very much. 
June and August are the months which have least rain. 
September and October are frequently very wet : during 
these months, not only a greater quantity of rain falls, 
but it is more constant, accompanied by a cold and 
cloudy atmosphere, which is very unfavourable either 
to the ripening of grain, or drying it after it is cut. 
In July and August a good deal of rain falls ; but it is 
in heavy showers, and the intervals are fine, the sun 
shining clear and bright often for several days to 
gether." Garnctt s Tour, vol. i. p. 24. 



earih by the roots. 7 The harvest work seems 
to have been generally performed by women, as 
is indeed the case still, in some parts of Scotland 
This, Burt thinks, tended much to retard the 
harvest, as it sometimes took a woman and i 
girl a fortnight to do what with the aid of a 
man might have been done in a couple of 
days. 8 So short-lived was the supply of grain 
and so ill-off were the people sometimes, that 
it was not uncommon for them to pluck the 
ears as they ripened, like fruit, and even scorch 
the grain when green and squeeze it into an 
unwholesome pulp. 9 

The flail appears to have been the only article 
used to separate the grain from its husk, and the 
only winnowing it got was from the draught 
that passed through the rude barn, which had 
two doors opposite each other for the purpose. 

The quern or hand-mill is the oldest machine 
used for grinding grain. It consisted of two 
stones, one above the other, the former turned 
round by a handle and having an opening in 

7 Buchanan s Travels in the Hebrides, p. 154. 

"In larger farms belonging to gentlemen of the 
clan, where there are any number of women employed 
in harvest-work, they all keep time together by seve 
ral barbarous tone* of the voice, and stoop and rise 
together as regularly as a rank of soldiers when they 
ground their arms. Sometimes they are incited to 
their work by the sound of a bagpipe, and by either 
of these they proceed with great alacrity, it being dis 
graceful for any one to be out of time with the sickle." 
This custom of using music to enable a number of 
common workers to keep time, seems to have been in 
vogue in many operations in the Highlands. We 
quote the following graphic account of the process of 
fulling given by Burt in the same letter that contains 
the above quotation, (vol. ii. p. 48.) "They use the 
same tone, or a piper, when they thicken the newly- 
woven plaiding, instead of a fulling-mill. This is 
done by six or eight women sitting upon the ground, 
near some river or rivulet, in two opposite ranks, 
with the wet cloth between them ; their coats are 
tucked up, .-UK! with their naked feet they strike one 
against another s, keeping exact time as above men 
tioned. Ami among numbers of men, employed in 
any work that requires strength and joint labour 
(as the launching a large boat, or the like), they must 
have the piper to regulate their time, as well as usky 
to keep up their spirits in the performance ; for pay 
they often have little, or none at all." Hurt s 

9 Burton s Scotlaiid (1689-1748), vol. ii. p. 395. 
The poverty of the field labourers hereabouts is de 
plorable. I was one day riding out for air and exercise, 
and in my way I saw a woman cutting green barley in 
a little plot before her hut : this induced me to turn 
aside and ask her what use she intended it for, and 
she told me it was to make bread for her family. The 
grain was so green and soft that I easily pressed some 
of it between my fingers ; so that when she had pre 
pared it, certainly it must have been more like a poul 
tice than what she called it, bread. " Burt s Letters, 
vol. i. p. 224. 

the top to admit the grain. This primitive 
kind of mill, even for long after 1745, was used 
all over the Highlands to convert the scanty 
supply of grain into meal. The quern was gene 
rally driven by two women sitting opposite eacli 

Quern, from the collection of the late Sir James Y. 
Simpson,, Bart. 

other, but it was also adapted to a rude water- 
wheel, the axle of which was fixed in the upper 
stone. This rude water-mill is still used in Shet 
land, and is of the very simplest construction. 
A common method of preparing the grain for 
the quern was called graddaning, which con 
sisted in taking a handful of corn in the 
talk, setting fire to it, and when it had burnt 
Long enough, knocking the grain from the head 
by means of a stick ; thus both thrashing and 
drying it at the same time. This of course 
was a wretched and most extravagant mode of 
jrocedure, blackening and otherwise spoiling 
,he grain, and wasting the straw. This pro- 
ess was common in the Western Islands, where 
also there was a kind of very rude kiln, on the 
me ribs of which were put the heads of the 
grain, which, when dried, were pulled down 
on the floor and immediately thrashed and 
winnowed, and stored up hot in plates, ready 
for the quern. Thus could a man have cut 
the sheaves, dry and thrash the barley, clean 
it for the quern, and make his breakfast thereof 
after it was ground. 1 Another method common 
in Badenoch and the central Highlands was 
to switch the corn out of the ear with a stick, 
separate it from the chaff, and put it in a pot 
on the fire, while a person kept stirring it 

1 Buchanan s Hebrides, p. 156. 


with a wooden spatula. " I have seen," says a 
gentleman from Laggan, "the corn cut, dried, 
ground, baked, and eaten in less than two hours. 2 
There must, however, have been a mill on a 
somewhat larger scale than either the hand or 
water-quern, situated in a great many of the 
Highland districts, as it is well known that in 
the Highlands as well as the Lowlands, multure 
and thirlage were common exactions by which 
the tenants were oppressed. The tenants would 
be no doubt glad in many cases to escape the 
heavy mill-dues by grinding their grain fur 
themselves, as well as their rude contrivances 
would allow them. But the convenience of a 
well-constructed mill in a district is evident, and 
of course it is but fair that those who take advan 
tage of the mill should pay for it. Moreover, 
in early times, when large mills were first 
introduced into a district by the laird or pro 
prietor, it was natural enough that he should 
endeavour, either by bargain or force, to get his 
tenants to take their grain to the district-mill 
to be ground, as only by this means could the 
expense of building and keeping up of the mill 
be defrayed and a miller induced to rent 
it. As money was scarce in those days, aud as 
rent and other dues were paid in kind, it was 
natural and fair enough that the landlord should 
exact a small portion of the grain taken to his 
mill as due to him for keeping the mill up, and 
also for the miller to take payment for his trouble 
and time by keeping to himself a certain 
proportion of the meal into whicli he had con 
verted the grain. But like every other custom, 
this was liable to abuse, and did in the end 
turn out to be a most grievous exaction and a 
great hindrance to agricultural improvement. 
Every farmer was thirled to a particular mill, 
thirlage being a due payable to the landlord ; 
and the miller, besides having a croft or small 
farm attached to the mill, was allowed to exact 
multure, or a proportion of meal, to pay himself 
for his trouble. Besides these there appears to 
have been other exactions which could be made 
by the miller on various pretexts, and the 
amount of which depended pretty much upon 
his own caprice. Altogether they not un- 
frequently amounted to an eighth or a tenth of 
the meal produced by the grain. Yet for long 
after 1745, even into the present century, did 
2 Logan s Garf, vol. ii p. 97. 

these exactions continue to be in force in many 
parts of the country ; and an almost universal 
complaint by the writers of the articles on the 
Highland parishes in the Old Statistical Ac 
count, is the grievous nature of these and 
other exactions. 

Almost the only fuel used by the High 
landers, not only in the early part but during 
the whole of last century, was peat, still used 
in many Highland districts, and the only fuel 
used in a great part of Orkney and Shetland. 
The cutting and preparing of the fuel, com 
posed mainly of decayed roots of various plants, 
consumed a serious part of the Highlander s 
time, as it was often to be found only at a 
great distance from his habitation ; and he 
had to cut not only for himself but for his 
laird, the process itself being long and trouble 
some, extending from the time the sods were first 
cut till they were formed in a stack at the side 
of the farmer s or cottar s door, over five or six 
months; and after all, they frequently turned 
out but a wretched substitute for either wood or 
coal; often they were little else than a mass of 
red earth. It generally took five people to cut 
peats out of one spot. One cut the peats, which 
were placed by another on the edge of the trench 
from which they were cut ; a third spread 
them on the field, while a fourth trimmed them, 
a fifth resting in the meantime ready to relieve 
the man that was cutting. 

As would naturally be expected, the houses 
and other buildings of the Highlanders were 
quite in keeping with their agricultural im 
plements and general mode of life. Even 
the tacksmen or gentlemen of the clan, 
the relations of the chief, lived in huts or 
hovels, that the poorest farmer in most parts 
of Scotland at the present day, would shudder 
to house his cattle in. In most cases they ap 
pear to have been pretty much the same as those 
of the small farmers or cottars, only perhaps 
a little larger. Burt mentions such a house 
belonging to a gentleman of the clan, which he 
visited in one of his peregrinations round 
Inverness. He says 3 it consisted of one long 
apartment without any partition, " where the 
family was at one end, and some cattle at the 
other." The owner of this rude habitation must 
have been somewhat shrewd and sensible, as he 
3 Letters, vol. ii. p. 7. 



could not only perceive the disadvantages of this 
mode of life to which he was doomed, but had 
insight and candour enough to be able to account 
for his submission to them. " The truth is," 
Captain Burt reports him to have said, " we 
are insensibly inured to it by degrees ; for, when 
very young, we know no better ; being grown 
up, we are inclined, or persuaded by our near 
relations, to marry thence come children, and 
fondness for them : but above all," says he, 
" is the love of our chief, so strongly is it in- 
fiilcated to us in our infancy; and if it were 
not for that, I think the Highlands would be 
much thinner of people than they now are." 
How much truth there is in that last statement 
is clearly evidenced by the history of the country 
after the abolition of the hereditary jurisdic 
tions, which was the means of breaking up the 
old intimate relation between, and mutual de 
pendence of, chief and people. Burt says else 
where, that near to Inverness, there were a few 
gentlemen s houses built of stone and lime, but 
that in the inner part of the mountains there 
were no stone-buildings except the barracks, 
and that one might have gone a hundred miles 
without seeing any other dwellings but huts of 
turf. By the beginning of last century the 
houses of most of the chiefs, though compara 
tively small, seem to have been substantially 
built of stone and lime, although their food and 
manner of life would seem to have been pretty 
much the same as those of the tacksmen. The 
children of chiefs and gentlemen seem to have 
1)een allowed to run about in much the same ap 
parently uncared for condition as those of the ten 
ants, it having been a common saying, according 
to Burt, " that a gentleman s bairns are to be 
distinguished by their speaking English." To 
illustrate this he tells us that once when dining 
with a laird not very far from Inverness pos 
sibly Lord Lovat he met an English soldier at 
the house who was catching birds for the laird 
to exercise his hawks on. This soldier told Burt 
that for three or four days after his first coming, 
he had observed in the kitchen (" an out-house 
hovel") a parcel of dirty children half naked, 
whom he took to belong to some poor tenant, 
but at last discovered they were part of the 
family. " But," says the fastidious English 
Captain, " although these were so little regarded, 
the young laird, about the age of fourteen, was 

going to the university and the eldest daugh 
ter, about sixteen, sat with us at table, clean 
and genteelly dressed." 4 

There is no reason to doubt Burt s statement 
when he speaks of what he saw or heard, but 
it must be remembered he was an Englishman, 
with all an Englishman s prejudices in favour 
of the manners and customs, the good living, 
and general fastidiousness which characterise 
his own half of the kingdom, and many of an 
Englishman s prejudices against the Scotch gen 
erally and the turbulent Highlanders in parti 
cular. His letters are, however, of the utmost 
value in giving us a clear and interesting glimpse 
into the mode of life of the Highlanders shortly 
before 1 745, and most Scotchmen at least will be 
able to sift what is fact from what is exagger 
ation and English colouring. Much, no doubt, 
of what Burt tells of the Highlanders when 
he was there is true, but it is true also of people 
then living in the same station in other parts 
of Scotland, where however among the better 
classes, and even among the farmers, even then, 
there was generally a rough abundance com 
bined with a sort of affectation of rudeness of 
manner. It is not so very long ago since the 
son of the laird, and he might have been a duke, 
and the son of the hind were educated at the 
same parish school ; and even at the present 
day it is no uncommon sight to see the sons of 
the highest Scottish nobility sitting side by side 
on the same college-benches with the sons of day- 
labourers, ploughmen, mechanics, farmers, and 
small shop-keepers. Such a sight is rare in the 
English universities ; where there are low-born 
intruders, it will in most cases be found that they 
belong to Scotland. We do not make these re 
marks to prejudice the reader in any way against 
the statements of Burt or to depreciate the value 
of his letters ; all we wish the reader to under 
stand is that he was an Englishman, rather fond 
of gossip, and perhaps of adding point to a story 
at the expense of truth, with all the prejudices 
and want of enlightenment and consmopolitan- 
ism of even educated Englishmen of 150 years 
ago. He states facts correctly, but from a 
peculiar and very un-Scottish point of view. 
His evidence, even when stripped of its slight 
colouring, is invaluable, and, even to the 

4 Burt s Letters, vol. ii. p. 96. 



modern Highlander, must prove that his an 
cestors lived in a very miserable way, although 
they themselves might not have realised its dis 
comfort and wretchedness, but on the contrary, 
may have been as contented as the most well-to- 
do English squire or prosperous English farmer. 
Even among the higher members of the clans, 
the tacksmen and most extensive farmers, the 
fare does not seem to have been by any means 
abundant, and generally was of the commonest 
kind. For a few months in the end of the year, 
when the cattle and sheep were in condition to 
be killed, animal food appears to have been plen 
tiful enough, as it must also have been after 
any successful cattle-foray. But for the rest of 
the year, the food of even the gentlemen in 
many places must have been such as any mo 
dern farmer would have turned up his nose at. 
In other districts again, where the chief was 
well-off and liberal, he appears to have been will 
ing enough to share what he had with his rela 
tions the higher tenants, who again would do 
their best to keep from want the under tenants 
and cottars. Still it will be seen, the living of all 
was very precarious. "It is impossible for me," 
says Burt^"from my own knowledge, to give 
you an account of the ordinary way of living 
of these gentlemen ; because, when any of us 
(the English) are invited to their houses there 
is always an appearance of plenty to excess ; 
and it has been often said they will ransack 
all their tenants rather than we should think 
meanly of their housekeeping : but I have heard 
it from many whom they have employed, and 
perhaps had little regard to their observations as 
inferior people, that, although they have been at 
tended at dinner by five or six servants, yet, with 
all that state, they have often dined upon oat 
meal varied several ways, pickled herrings, or 
other such cheap and indifferent diet." Burt 
complains much of their want of hospitality ; 
but at this he need not have been surprised. He 
and every other soldier stationed in the High 
lands would be regarded with suspicion and even 
dislike by the natives, who were by no means 
likely to give them any encouragement to fre 
quent their houses, and pry into their secrets 
and mode of life. The Highlanders were well- 
known for their hospitality, and are so in many 

5 Letters, vol. ii. p. 97. 

places even at the present day, resembling in 
this respect most people living in a wild and 
not much frequented country. As to the every 
day fare above mentioned, those who partook 
of it would consider it no hardship, if indeed 
Burt had not been mistaken or been deceived 
as to details. Oatmeal, in the form of porridge 
and brose, is common even at the present day 
among the lower classes in the country, and 
even among substantial farmers. As for the 
other part of it, there must have been plenty 
of salmon and trout about the rivers and 
lochs of Inverness-shire, and abundance of 
grain of various kinds on the hills, so that the 
gentlemen to whom the inquisitive Captain 
refers, must have taken to porridge and pickled 
herring from choice: and it is well known, that 
in Scotland at least, when a guest is expected, 
the hcxst endeavours to provide something better 
than common for his entertainment. Burt also 
declares that he has often seen a laicd s lady 
coming to church with a maid behind her car 
rying her shoes and stockings, which she put 
on at a little distance from the church. Indeed, 
from what he says, it would seem to have 
been quite common for those in the position of 
ladies and gentlemen to go about in this free 
and easy tashion. Their motives for doing so 
were no doubt those of economy and comfort 
not because they had neither shoes nor stock 
ings to put on. The practice is quite common at 
the present day in Scotland, for both respectable 
men and women when travelling on a dusty 
road on a broiling summer-day, to do so on their 
bare feet, as being so much more comfortable 
and less tiresome than travelling in heavy boots 
and thick worsted stockings. No one thinks 
the worse of them for it, nor infers that they 
must be wretchedly ill off. The practice has 
evidently at one time been much more common 
even among the higher classes, but, like many 
other customs, lingers now only among the com 
mon people. 

From all we can learn, however, the chiefs and 
their more immediate dependants and relations 
appear by no means to have been ill-off, so far 
as the necessaries of life went, previous to the 
rebellion of 1745. They certainly had not a 
superfluity of money, but many of the chiefs 
were profuse in their hospitality, and had al 
ways abundance if not variety to eat and drink. 



Indeed it is well known, that about 200 years 
before the rebellion, an enactment had to be 
made by parliament limiting the amount of 
wine and brandy to be used by the various 
chiefs. Claret, in Captain Burt s time, was as 
common in and around Inverness as it was in 
Edinburgh; the English soldiers are said to 
have found it selling at sixpence a quart, and 
left it at three or four times that price. In 
their habits and mode of life, their houses and 
other surroundings, these Highland gentlemen 
were no doubt rough and rude and devoid of 
luxuries, and not over particular as to cleanli 
ness either of body or untensils, but still always 
dignified and courteous, respectful to their supe 
riors and affable to their inferiors. Highland 
pride is still proverbial, and while often very 
amusing and even pitiable, has often been of 
considerable service to those who possess it, 
stimulating them to keep up their self-respect 
and to do their best in whatever situation they 
rnay be placed. It was this pride that made 
the poorest and most tattered of the tacksmen 
tenants with whom Burt came in contact, 
conduct himself as if he had been lord of 
all he surveyed, and look with suspicion and 
perhaps with contempt upon the unknown 
English red-coat. 

As a kind of set-off to Burt s disparaging ac 
count of the condition of Highland gentlemen, 
and yet to some extent corroborating it, we 
quote the following from the Old Statistical 
Account of the parish of Boleskine and Aber- 
tarf in Inverness-shire. The district to which 
this account refers was at least no worse 
than most other Highland parishes, and in 
some respects must have been better than those 
that were further out of the reach of civilisa 
tion. 6 "Till the beginning of this century, all 
the heritors and wadsetters in this parish 
lived in houses composed of cupple trees, and 
the walls and thatch made up of sod and 
divot ; but in every wadsetter s house there was 

6 The following quotations from Mr Dunbar s 
Social Life in Former Days, giving details of house 
hold furniture and expenses, may be taken as " a 
correct index of the comforts and conveniences " of 
the best off of the old Highland lairds ; for as they 
refer to Morayshire, just on the borders of the High 
lands, they cannot be held as referring to the High 
lands generally, the interior and western districts of 
which were considerably behind the border lands in 
many respects : 

a spacious hall, containing a large table, where LH 
and his family and dependants eat their two 


Imprimis, to 36 bolls malt, at 8 shillings and 4 ponce 
per boll 

Item, to 36 bolls meal, at same price, 

Item, to 10 bolls wheat, at 13 shillings and 4 pence 
per boll, 

Item, to 12 beeves at 1 per piece, . 

Item, to meal to servants without doors, 

Item, to servants wages within and without doors, 

Item, to casli instantly delivered, 

Item, to be paid monthly, 4, 4s., 


S. D. 


6 13 

S) 7 
41 5 
50 6 
50 8 


" Servants Wages 1741. 

Imprimis to gentlewomen, 10 

Item, to five maids, 5 G 8 

Item, to two cooks, . . -.500 

Item, to two porters, . 300 

Item, to Robin s servant, 100 

Item, to the groom, ....... 550 

Item, to the neighbour, 368 

Item, to three coat-servants, . .700 

Item, to two herds, ... . 168 

41 5 


DUFFUS, MAY 25, 1708. 

" Strypt Room. 

" Camlet hangings and curtains, featherbed and bolster, two 
pillows, five pair blankets, and an Inglish blanket, a green and 
white cover, a blew and white chamber-pot, a blew and white 
bason, a black jopand table and two looking-glasses, a jopand 
tee-table with a tee-pat and plate, and nine cups and nine dyshes 
and a tee silver spoon, two glass sconces, two little bowles, with R 
learn stoap and a pewter head, eight black ken chairs, with eight 
silk cushens conform, an easie chair with a big cushen, a jopand 
cabinet with a walnut tree stand, a grate, shuffle, tonges, and 
brush ; in the closet, three piece of paper hangings, a chamber 
box, with a pewter pan therein, and a brush for cloaths. 

" Closet next the Strypt Room. 

" Four dishes, two assiets, six broth plates, and twelve flesh 
plates, a quart flagon, and a pynt flagon, a pewter porenger, and 
a pewter flacket, a white iron jaculate pot, and a skellet pann, 
twenty-one timber plates, a winter for warming plates at the 
fire, two Highland plaids, and a sewed blanket, a bolster, and 
four pillows, a chamber-box, a sack with wool, and a white iron 
dripping pann. 

" In the forest Closet. 

" Seventeen drinking glasses, with a glass tumbler and two 
decanters, a oil cruet, and a vinegar cruet, a urinal glass, a large 
blew and white posset pot, a white learn posset pat, a blew and 
white bowl, a dozen of blew and white learn plates, three milk 
dishes, a blew and white learn porenger, and a white leam 
porenger, four jelly pots, and a little butter dish, a crvir.p chair 
and a silk craddle. 

" In the Moyhair Room. 

"A sute of stamped cloath hangings, and a moyhair bed witl, 
feather bed, bolster, and two pillows, six pair blankets, and an 
Inglish blanket and a twilt, a leam chamber-pat, five moyJuiir 
chairs, two looking-glasses, a cabinet, a table, two stands, a 
table cloak, and window hangings, a chamber-box with a 
pewter pann, a leam bason, with a grate and tongs and a 
brush ; in the closet, two carpets, a piece of Arres, three pieces 
lyn d strypt hangings, three wawcd strypt curtains, two piece 
gilded leather, three trunks and a oraddle, a chamber-box, and a 
pewter pann, thirty-three pound of heckled lint, a ston of vax 
and M firkin of sop, and a brush for cloaths, two pair blankets! 
and a single blanket. 

" In the Dyning-Room. 

" A sute of gilded hangings, two folding tables, eighteen 
low-backed ken chairs, a grate, a fender, a brass tongs, shuffle 
brush, and timber brush, and a poring iron, and a glass kes. 

" In my Lady s Room. 

" Gilded hangings, standing bed, and box bed, stamped 
drogged hangings, feather bed, bolster, and two pillows, a 
pallise, five pair of blankets, and a single one, and a twilt, and 
two pewter chamber-pots, six chairs, talilc, and looking-glasB 
a little folding table, and a chist of drawers, tonges, shuffle, 
jmrvin-iron, and a brush, two window curtains of linen; in the 
Laird s closet, two trunks, two chists, and a citrcna cabinet. . 



meals a-day with this single distinction, that 
he and his family sat at the one end of the 
table, and his dependants at the other; and it 
was reckoned no disparagement for the gentle 
men to sit with commoners in the inns, such 
as the country then afforded, where one cap, 
and afterwards a single glass, went round the 
whole company. As the inhabitants expe 
rienced no want, and generally lived on the 
produce of their farms, they were hospitable 
to strangers, providing they did not attempt a 
settlement among them. But it was thought 
then disgraceful for any of the younger sons 
of these wadsetters to follow any other profes 
sion than that of arms and agriculture; and 
it is in the remembrance of many now living, 
when the meanest tenant would think it dis 
paraging to sit at the same table with a manu 

The following quotation from the Statistical 
Account of Eannoch, in Perthshire, will give 
an idea of another phase of the life of High 
land gentlemen in those days, as well as enable 
the reader to see how it was, considering the 
general poverty of the country, the low rent, 

table, and a looking-glass, the dow holes, two carpet chairs, and 
a chamber-box with a pewter pan, and a little bell, and a brush 
foi eluatli. 

" My Lady s Closet. 

" A cabinet, three presses, three kists, and a spicerie box. a 
dozen learn white plates, a blew and white learn plate, a littU 
blew butter plate, a white learn porengev, and three gelly 
pots, two learn dishes, and two big timber capes, four tin congs, 
a new pewter basson, a pynt chopen, and mutchken stoups, two 
copper tankers, two pewter salts, a pewter mustard box, a white 
iron peper and suggar box, two white iron graters, a pot for 
starch, and a pewter spoon, thirteen candlesticks, five pair 
snuffers and snuf dishes conform, a brass mortar and pistol, a 
lantern, a timber box, a dozen knives and a dozen forks, and a 
carpet chair, two milk congs, a milk cirn, and kirn staff, a 
sisymilk, and creamen dish and a cheswel, a neprie basket, and 
two new pewter chamber pots. 

"A Note of Plate. 

Three silver salvers, four salts, a large tanker, a big spoon, and 
thirteen littler spoons, two jugs, a sugar box, a mustard box, a 
peper box, snd two little spoons. 

" An Account of Bottles in the Salt Cellar. 

" June the first 1708. 

Of Sack, five dozen and one, 

Of Brandie, three dozen and three, 

Of Vinegar and Aquavitie, seven 

Of Strong Ale, four dozen and four, .... 

Of other Ale, nine dozen, 

In the ale cellar, fifteen dozen and ten, .... 

In the hamper, five dozen empty, 

In the wine cellar, nine with Inglish AU>, 

White Wine, ten, 

Of Brandy, three, .... 

With Brandy and Surop, two, 

With Claret, fifteen, 

With Mum, fifteen, 

Throw the house, nineteen, 

49 2 
2 1 

There is in all, forty-nine dozen and two, 
And of mutchkin bottles twenty-five, 

"Received ten dozen and one of chapen bottles full of claret. 
More received eleven dozen and one of pynt bottles, whereof 
Ihere was six broke in the home-coming. 1709, June the 4th, 
received from Elgin forty-three chopen bottles of claret." 

the unproductiveness of the soil, and the low 
price of cattle, they were still able to keep 
open table and maintain more retainers than 
the land could support. "Before the year 
1745 Eannoch was in an uncivilized barbarous 
state, under no check, or restraint of laws. 
As an evidence of this, one of the principal pro 
prietors never could be compelled to pay his 
debts. Two messengers were sent from Perth, 
to give him a charge of horning. He ordered 
a dozen of his retainers to bind them across two 
hand-barrows, and carry them, in this state, to 
the bridge of Cainachan, at nine miles distance. 
His property in particular was a nest of 
thieves. They laid the whole country, from 
Stirling to Coupar of Angus, under contribu 
tion, obliging the inhabitants to pay them 
Black Meal, as it is called, to save their pro 
perty from being plundered. This was the 
centre of this kind of traffic. In the months 
of September and October they gathered to the 
number of about 300, built temporary huts, 
drank whisky all the time, settled accounts for 
stolen cattle, and received balances. Every 
man then bore arms. , It would have required 
a regiment to have brought a thief from that 

As to the education of the Highland gentry, 
in this respect they seem not to have been so far 
behind the rest of the country, although latterly 
they appear to have degenerated in this as in other 
respects ; for, as will be seen in the Chapter 
on Gaelic Literature, there must have been 
at one time many learned men in the High 
lands, and a taste for literature seems not to 
have been uncommon. Indeed, from various 
authorities quoted in the Introduction to Stu 
art s Costume of the Clans, it was no uncommon 
accomplishment in the 16th and 17th centuries 
for a Highland gentleman to be able to use 
both Gaelic and Latin, even when he could 
scarcely manage English. "If, in some in 
stances," says Mrs Grant, 7 " a chief had some 
taste for literature, the Latin poets engaged 
his attention more forcibly than the English, 
which he possibly spoke and wrote, but inward 
ly despised, and in fact did not understand well 
enough to relishits delicacies, or taste its poetry." 
" Till of late years," says the same writer on 

7 Essays, vol. i. p. 30. 



the same page, " letters were unknown in the 
Highlands except among the highest rank of 
gentry and the clergy. The first were but 
partially enlightened at best. Their mind 
had been early imbued with the stores of know 
ledge peculiar to their country, and having no 
view beyond that of passing their lives among 
their tenants and dependants, they were not 

much anxious for any other In some 

instances, the younger brothers of patrician 
families were sent early out to lowland sem 
inaries, and immediately engaged in some active 
pursuit for the advancement of their fortune." 
In short, so far as education went, the majority 
of the Highland lairds and tacksmen appear 
to have been pretty much on the same footing 
with those in a similar station in other parts of 
the kingdom. 

From what has been said then as to the 
condition of the chiefs or lairds and their 
more immediate dependants the tacksmen, pre 
vious to 1745, it may be inferred that they 
were by no means ill-off so far as the necessa 
ries and even a few of the luxuries of life went. 
Their houses were certainly not such as a 
gentleman or even a well-to-do farmer would 
care to inhabit now-a-days, neither in build 
nor in furnishing ; but the chief and principal 
tenants as a rule had always plenty to eat and 
drink, lived in a rough way, were hospitable 
to their friends, and, as far as they were able, 
kind and lenient to their tenants. 

It was the sub- tenants and cottars, the 
common people or peasantry of the Highlands, 
whose condition called for the utmost com 
miseration. It was they who suffered most 
from the poverty of the land,the leanness of the 
cattle, the want of trades and manufactures, 
the want, in short, of any reliable and systematic 
means of subsistence. If the crops failed, or 
disease or a severe winter killed the half of the 
cattle, it was they who suffered, it was they 
who were the victims of famine, a thing of not 
rare occurrence in the Highlands. 8 It seems 
indeed impossible that any one now living could 
imagine anything more seemingly wretched and 
miserable than the state of the Highland sub 
tenants and cottars as described in various con- 

! There appears to have been a dreadful one just 
three years before 45. See Stat. Account of various 
Highland parishes. 

temporary accounts. The dingiest hovel in the 
dirtiest narrowest " close " of Edinburgh may be 
taken as a fair representative of the house in 
habited formerly in the Highlands by the great 
mass of the farmers and cottars. And yet 
they do not by any means appear to have re 
garded themselves as the most miserable of 
beings, but on the contrary to have been light- 
hearted and well content if they could manage 
to get the year over without absolute starvation. 
No doubt this was because they knew no bet 
ter state of things, and because love for the 
chief would make them endure any thing with 
patience. Generally the houses of the sub 
tenants and cottars who occupied a farm were 
built in one spot, "all irregularly placed, 
some one way, some another, and at any dis 
tance, look like so many heaps of dirt." 
They were generally built in some small valley 
or strath by the side of a stream or loch, and 
the collection of houses on one farm was known 
as the " toon " or town, a term still used in Shet 
land in the very same sense, and in many parts 
of Scotland applied to the building occupied by 
even a single farmer. The cottages were gene 
rally built of round stones without any cement, 
thatched with sods, and sometimes heath ; 
sometimes they were divided into two apart 
ments by a slender partition, but frequently no 
such division was made. In the larger half 
resided the family, this serving for kitchen, eat- 
ng, and sleeping-room to all. In the middle 
of this room, on the floor, was the peat fire, 
above which was a gaping hole to allow the 
escape of the smoke, very little however of this 
finding its way out, the surplus, after every 
corner of the room was filled, escaping by 
the door. The other half of the cottage was 
devoted to the use of the live-stock when " they 
did not choose to mess and lodge with the 
family." Sometimes these cottages were built 
of turf or mud, and sometimes of wattle-work 
like baskets, a common system of fencing even 
yet in many parts of the Highlands where 
young wood is abundant. As a rule these huts 
had to be thatched and otherwise repaired 
every year to keep them habitable ; indeed, in 
many places it was quite customary every 
spring to remove the thatch and use it as man- 

9 Gamett s Tour, vol. i. p. 121. 


ure. Buchanan, even in the latter half of the 
18th century, thus speaks of the dwellings of 
tenants in the Western Isles: and, in this re 

spect at least, it is not likely they were in 
worse plight than those who lived in the early 
part of the century. " The huts of the op- 

A Cottage in Islay. From Pennant s Voyage to the Hebrides, 1774. 

pressed tenants are remarkably naked and open ; 
quite destitute of furniture, except logs of 
timbers collected from the wrecks of the sea, to 
sit on about the fire, which is placed in the 
middle of the house, or upon seats made of 
straw, like foot hassacks, stuffed with straw or 
stubble. Many of them must rest satisfied 
with large stones placed around the fire in 
order. As all persons must have their own 
blankets to sleep in, they make their beds in 
whatever corner suits their fancy, and in the 
mornings they fold them up into a small 
compass, with all their gowns, cloaks, coats, 
and petticoats, that are not in use. The 
cows, goats, and sheep, with the ducks, hens, 
and dogs, must have the common benefit of 
the fire, and particularly the young and ten- 
derest are admitted next to it. This filthy 
sty is never cleaned but once a-year, when 
they place the dung on the fields as manure 
for barley crops. Thus, from the necessity of 
laying litter below these cattle to keep them 
dry, the dung naturally increases in height 
almost mid-wall high, so that the men sit low 

about the fire, while the cattle look down from 
above upon the company. " We learn from the 
same authority that in the Hebrides every 
tenant must have had his own beams and side 
timbers, the walls generally belonging to the 
tacksman or laird, and these were six feet 
thick with a hollow wall of rough stones, 
packed with moss or earth in the centre. A 
tenant in removing carried his timbers with 
him to his new location, and speedily mounted 
them on the top of four rude walls. But in 
deed the condition of many of the Western Isles 
both before and after 1745 and even at the pres 
ent day, was frequently much more wretched 
than the Highlands in the mainland gene 
rally. Especially was this the case after 
1745, although even before that their condi 
tion can by no means be taken as typical of 
the Highlands generally. The following, how 
ever, from the Statistical Account of the island 
of Tiree, might have applied at the time 
(about 1745), to almost any part of the High 
lands. " About 40 years ago, a great part 
of the lands in this parish lay in their natu- 




ral uncultivated state, and such of them as 
were in culture produced poor starved crops. 
The tenants were in poor circumstances, the 
rents low, the farm houses contemptible. 
The communication from place to place was 
along paths which were to be known by the 
footsteps of beasts that passed through them. 
No turnips, potatoes, or cabbages, unless a 
few of the latter in some gardens; and a 
great degree of poverty, indolence, and mean 
ness of spirit, among the great body of the 
people. The appearance of the people, and 
their mode of thinking and acting, were but 
mean and indelicate; their peats were brought 
home in creels; the few things the farmer 
had to sell were carried to market upon the 
backs of horses; and their dunghills were hard 
by their doors." We have reliable testimony, 
however, to prove, that even the common 
Highland tenants on the mainland were but 
little better off than those in the islands ; their 
houses were almost equally rude and dirty, and 
their furniture nearly as scanty. The Sta 
tistical Account of the parish of Fortingal, in 
Perthshire, already quoted, gives a miserable 
account of the country and inhabitants pre 
vious to 1745, as does also the letters of Cap 
tain Burt in reference to the district which 
came under his observation; and neither of 
these districts was likely to be in worse con 
dition than other parts of the Highlands, 
further removed from intercourse with the 
Lowlands. " At the above period [1745], the 
bulk of the tenants in Eannoch had no such 
thing as beds. They lay on the ground, with 
a little heather, or fern, under them. One single 
blanket was all their bed-cloaths, excepting 
their body-deaths. Now they have standing- 
up beds, and abundance of blankets. At that 
time the houses in Eannoch were huts of, what 
they called, Stake and Rife. One could 
not enter but on all fours; and after entering, 
it was impossible to stand upright. Now 
there are comfortable houses built of "stone. 
Then the people were miserably dirty, and 
foul -skinned. Now they are as cleanly, 
and are clothed as well as their circumstances 
will admit of. The rents of the parish, at 
that period, were not much above 1500, 
and the people were starving. Now they pay 
4660 per annum, and upwards, and the 

people have fulness of bread. It is hardly 
possible to believe, on how little the High 
landers formerly lived. They bled their cows 
several times in the year, boiled the blood, 
eat a little of it like bread, and a most lasting 
meal it was. The present incumbent has 
known a poor man, who had a small farm 
hard by him, by this means, with a boll of 
meal for every mouth in his family, pass the 
whole year." This bleeding of the cattle to 
eke out the small supply of oatmeal is testi 
fied to by many other witnesses. Captain 
Eurt refers to it; 1 and Knox, in his View of 
tJte British Empire, 2 thus speaks of it: "In 
winter, when the grounds are covered with 
snow, and when the naked wilds afford them 
neither shelter nor subsistence, the few cows, 
small, lean, and ready to drop down through 
want of pasture, are brought into the hut where 
the family resides, and frequently share with 
them their little stock of meal, which had 
been purchased or raised for the family only, 
while the cattle thus sustained are bled occa 
sionally to afford nourishment for the children, 
after it has been boiled or made into cakes." 

It must be borne in mind that at that time 
potatoes were all but unknown in the High 
lands, and even in the Lowlands had scarcely 
got beyond the stage of a garden root. The 
staple food of the common Highlander was the 
various preparations of oats and barley; even 
fish seems to have been a rarity, but why it is 
difficult to say, as there were plenty both in 
the sea and in freshwater rivers and lochs. 
For a month or two after Michaelmas, the 
luxury of fresh meat seems to have been not 
uncommon, as at that time the cattle were in 
condition for being slaughtered; and the more 
provident or less needy might even go the 
length of salting a quantity for winter, but 
even this practice does not seem to have been 
common -except among the tacksmen. " No 
thing is more deplorable than the state of this 
people in time of winter." Then they were 
completely confined to their narrow glens, and 
very frequently night and day to their houses, 
on account of the severe snow and rain storms. 
" They have no diversions to amuse them, but 
sit brooding in the smoke over the fire till 

1 Letters, vol. ii. 28. 2 Vol. i. p. 124. 



their legs and thighs are scorched to an extra 
ordinary degree, and many have sore eyes and 
some are quite blind. This long continuance 
in the smoke makes them almost as black as 
chimney-sweepers; and when the huts are not 
water-tight, which is often the case, the rain 
that comes through the roof and mixes with 
the soootiness of the inside, where all the 
sticks look like charcoal, falls in drops like 
ink. But, in this circumstance, the High 
landers are not very solicitous about their 
outward appearance." 3 We need not wonder 
under these circumstances at the prevalence of 
a loathsome distemper, almost peculiar to the 
Highlands, and the universality of various kinds 
of vermin ; and indeed, had it not been that 
the people spent so much of their time in the 
open air, and that the pure air of the moun 
tains, and been on the whole temperate in 
drinking and correct in morals, their condition 
must have been much more miserable than it 
really was. The misery seems to have been 
apparent only to onlookers, not to those whose 
lot it was to endure it. No doubt they were 
most mercilessly oppressed sometimes, but even 
this oppression they do not seem to have re 
garded as any hardship, as calling for com 
plaint on their part: they were willing to en 
dure anything at the hands of the chief, who, 
they believed, could do no wrong. 

As a rule the chiefs and gentlemen of the clan 
appear to have treated their inferiors with kind 
ness and consideration, although, at the same 
time, it was their interest and the practice of 
most of them to encourage the notions the 
people entertained of their duty to their chiefs, 
and to keep them in ignorance of everything that 
would tend to diminish this profitable belief. 
No doubt many of the chiefs themselves be 
lieved as firmly in the doctrine of clanship as 
their people; but there is good reason to believe, 
that many of them encouraged the old system 
from purely interested and selfish motives. 
Burt tells us that when a chief wanted to get 
rid of any troublesome fellow, he compelled 
him, under threat of perpetual imprisonment 
or the gallows, to sign a contract for his own 
banishment, Avhen he was shipped off from the 
nearest port by the first vessel bound for the 

3 Burt, ii. p. 34. 

West Indies. Kef erring no doubt to Lord Lo vat, 4 
he informs us that this versatile and long 
headed chief acted on the maxim that to ren 
der his clan poor would double the tie of their 
obedience; and accordingly he made use of all 
oppressive means to that end. " To prevent 
any diminution of the number of those who 
do not offend him, he dissuades from their 
purpose all such as show an inclination to 
traffic, or to put their children out to trades, 
as knowing they would, by such an alienat on 
shake off at least good part of their slavish at 
tachment to him and his family. This he 
does, when downright authority fails, by tell 
ing them how their ancestors chose to live 
sparingly, and be accounted a martial people, 
rather than submit themselves to low and mer 
cenary employments like the Lowlanders, 
whom their forefathers always despised for the 
want of that warlike temper which they (his 
vassals) still retained, &c." This cunning chief 
was in the habit, according to Dr Chambers s 
Domestic Annals, of sending from Inverness 
and paying for the insertion in the Edinburgh 
Courant and Mercury of glaring accounts of 
feasts and rejoicings given by himself or held 
in his honour. 5 And it is well known that 
this same lord during his life-time erected a 
handsome tombstone for himself inscribed with 
a glowing account of his heroic exploits, in 
tended solely for the use of his clansmen. By 
these and similar means would crafty selfish 
lairds keep their tenants and cottars in ignor 
ance of their rights, and make them resigned 
to all the oppressive impositions laid upon 
them. No doubt Lovat s was an extreme 
and there must have been many grada 

tions of oppressions, and many chiefs who 
really cared for their people, and did their 
best to make them happy and comfortable, al 
though, considering their circumstances and 
general surroundings, it is difficult to see how 
they could succeed. Yet notwithstanding their 
miserable and filthy huts, their scanty and poor 
food, their tattered and insufficient clothes, 
their lean cattle and meagre crops, their 
country wet above and below, their apparent 
want of all amusements and of anything to 
lighten their cheerless condition, and the op- 

4 Letters, vol. i. p. 51. 

5 Fraser-Mackintosh s Antiquarian Notes, p. *. 



pressive exactions of their chiefs, the High 
landers as a body certainly do not seem to have 
been an unhappy or discontented people, or to 
have had any feeling of the discomfort attend 
ing their lot. 6 There seems to have been little 
or no grumbling, and it is a most remarkable 
fact that suicide was and probably is all but 
unknown among the Highlanders. Your 
genuine Highlander was never what could 
strictly be called a merry man; he never had 
any of the effervescence of the French Celt, 
nor of the inimitable never failing light-heart 
ed humour of his Irish brother ; but, on the 
other hand, under the old system, at heart he 
showed little or no discontent, but on the 
contrary seems fco have been possessed of a 
self-satisfied, contented cheerfulness, a quiet 
resignation to fate, and a belief in the power 
and goodness of his chief, together with an 
ignorance and contempt for all outside his own 
narrow sphere, that made him feel as happy 
and contented as the most comfortable pea- 
Bant farmer in France. They only became 
discontented and sorely cut up when their 
chiefs, it being no longer the interest of the 
latter to multiply and support their retainers, 
began to look after their own interests solely, 
and shoAv little or no consideration for those who 
regarded them with reverence alone, and who 
thought their chief as much bound to support 
and care for them and share his land and his 
bread with them, as a father is to maintain 
his children. After the heritable jurisdictions 
were abolished, of course everything was 
changed; but before that there is every reason 
to believe that the Highland tenants and cot 
tars were as contented and happy, though by 
no means so well off, as the majority of those 
in the same condition throughout the United 
Kingdom. Indeed the evils which prevailed 
formerly in the Highlands, like all other evils, 

The manners and habits of this parish [as of 
all other Highland parishes] have undergone a mate 
rial change within these 50 years ; before that period 
they lived in a plain simple manner, experienced few 
wants, and possessed not the means, nor had any 
desire, of procuring any commodities. If they had 
salt [upon which there was a grievous duty] and 
tobacco, paid their pittance of rents, and performed 
their ordinary services to their superiors, and that 
their conduct in general met their approbation, it 
seemed to be the height of their ambition." Old 
Statistical Account of Boleskin and Abertarf, Inver 
ness-shire (1798). 

look far worse in prospect (in this case retro 
spect) than they do in reality. Misery in 
general is least perceived by those who are in 
its midst, and no doubt many poor and ap 
parently miserable people wonder what chari 
table associations for their relief make so much 
fuss about, for they themselves see nothing to 
relieve. Not that this misery is any the less 
real and fruitful of evil consequences, and de 
manding relief,; it is simply that those who are 
in the midst of it can t, very naturally, see it in 
its true light. As to the Highlands, the tra 
dition remained for a long time, and we believe 
does so still in many parts, that under the old 
regime, chiefs were always kind as fathers, 
and the people faithful and loving as children ; 
the men were tall and brave, and the women 
fair and pure ; the cattle were fat and plentiful, 
and the land produced abundance for man and 
beast ; the summers were always warm, and 
the winters mild ; the sun was brighter than 
ever it has been since, and rain came only 
when wanted. In short everybody had plenty 
with a minimum of work and abundance of 
time for dancing and singing and other amuse 
ments; every one was as happy as the day was 
long. It was almost literally " a land flowing 
with milk and honey," as will be seen from the 
following tradition : 7 " It is now indeed idle, 
and appears fabulous, to relate the crops raised 
here 30 or 40 years ago. The seasons were 
formerly so warm, that the people behoved to 
unyoke their ploughs as soon as the sun rose, 
when sowing barley ; and persons yet living, 
tell, that in traveling through the meadows in 
the loan of Fearn, in some places drops of 
honey were seen as the dew in the long grass 
and plantain, sticking to their shoes as they 
passed along in a May morning ; and also in 
other parts, their shoes were oiled as with 
cream, going through such meadows. Honey 
and bee hives were then very plenty. . . Cattle, 
butter, and cheese, were then very plenty and 
cheap." This glowing tradition, we fear, must 
melt away before the authentic and too sober 
accounts of contemporaries and eye-witnesses. 
As for wages to day-labourers and mechanics, 
in many cases no money whatever was given ; 
every service being frequently paid for in kind ; 

7 Old Statistical Account of Feavn, Ross-shire. 



where money was given, a copper or two a day 
was deemed an ample remuneration, and was 
probably sufficient to provide those who earned 
it with a maintenance satisfactory to them 
selves, the price of all necessary provisions 
being excessively low. A pound of beef or 
mutton, or a fowl could be obtained for about 
a penny, a cow cost about 30 shillings, and a 
boll of barley or oatmeal less than 10 shillings ; 
butter was about twopence a pound, a stone 
(21 Ibs.) of cheese was to be got for about two 
shillings. The following extract, from the 
Old Statistical Account of Caputh, will give 
the reader an idea of the rate of wages, where 
servants were employed, of the price of pro 
visions, and how really little need there was for 
actual cash, every man being able to do many 
things for himself which would now require 
perhaps a dozen workmen to perform. This 
parish being strictly in the lowlands, but on 
the border of the Highlands, may be regarded 
as having been, in many respects, further 
advanced than the majority of Highland 
parishes. 8 " The ploughs and carts were usually 
made by the farmer himself; with little iron 
about the plough, except the colter and share ; 
none upon the cart or harrows ; no shoes upon 
the horses ; no hempen ropes. In short, every 
instrument of farming was procured at small 
expense, wood being at a very low price. Salt 
was a shilling the bushel : little soap was used : 

8 "The spades, ploughs, harrows, and sledges, of 
the most feeble and imperfect kinds, with all their 
harnessing, are made by the farmer and his servants ; 
as also the boats, with all their tackle. The boat has 
a Highland plaid for a sail ; the running rigging is 
made of leather thongs and willow twigs ; and a large 
stone and a heather rope serve for an anchor and 
cable ; and all this, among a people of much natural 
ingenuity and perseverance. There is no fulling mill 
nor bleachfield ; no tanner, maltster, or dyer ; all tli e 
yarn is dyed, and all the cloth fulled or bleached by 
the women on the farm. The grain for malt is steeped 
in sacks in the river; and the hides are tanned, and 
the shoes made at home. There are, indeed, itinerant 
shoemakers, tailors, wrights, and masons, but none 
of these has full employment in his business, as all 
the inhabitants, in some measure, serve themselves in 
these trades : hence, in the royal boroughs of Inver- 
aray, Campbelton, and Inverness, and in the con 
siderable villages of Crieff, Callander, Oban, Mary- 
burgh, Fort Augustus, and Stornoway, there are fewer 
tradesmen, and less demand for the workmanship of 
mechanics, than in any other places of the same size ; 
yet these are either situated in, or are next adjacent 
to, a more extensive and populous country, than any 
other similar towns or villages in Scotland. " Walker s 
Hebrides, vol. ii. pp. 374, 5. 

they had no candles, instead of which they 
split the roots of fir trees, which, though 
brought 50 or 60 miles from the Highlands, 
were purchased for a trifle. Their clothes were 
of their own manufacturing. The average 
price of weaving ten yards of such cloth was 
a shilling, which was paid partly in meal and 
partly in money. The tailor worked for a 
quantity of meal, suppose 3 pecks or a firlot a- 
year, according to the number of the farmer s 
family. In the year 1735, the best ploughman 
was to be had for L.8 Scots (13s. 4d.) a year, 
and what was termed a bounty, which con 
sisted of some articles of clothing, and might 
be estimated at lls. 6d. ; in all L.I, 4s. lOd. 
sterling. bur years after, his wages rose to 
L.24 Scots, (L.2) and the bounty. Female 
servants received L.2 Scots, (3s. 4d.) and a 
bounty of a similar kind ; the whole not ex 
ceeding 6s. or 7s. Some years after their 
wages rose to 15s. Men received for harvest 
work L.6 Scots, (10s.) ; women, L.5 Scots, 
(8s. 4d.). Poultry was sold at 40 pennies 
Scots, (3d.) Oat-meal, bear and oats, at L.4 
or L.5 Scots the boll. A horse that then cost 
100 merks Scots, (L.5 : 11 : If) would now 
cost L.25. An ox that cost L.20 Scots, 
(L.I : 13 : 4) would now be worth L.8 or L.9. 
Beef and mutton were sold, not by weight, but 
by the piece ; about 3s. 4d. for a leg of beef of 
3 stones ; and so in proportion. No tea nor 
sugar was used : little whisky was drunk, and 
less of other spirits : but they had plenty of 
good ale ; there being usually one malt bam 
(perhaps two) on each farm." 9 

When a Highlander was in need of anything 
which he could not produce or make himself, 
it was by no means easy for him to obtain it, 
as by far the greater part of the Highlands was 
utterly destitute of towns and manufactures ; 
there was little or no commerce of any kind. 
The only considerable Highland town was Inver 
ness, and, if we can believe Captain Burt, but 
little business was done there ; the only other 
places, which made any pretensions to be towns 
were Stornoway and Campbeltown, and these 
at the time we are writing of, were little better 
than fishing villages. There were no manufac 
tures strictly speaking, for although the people 

9 Old Stat. Account, vol. ix. pp. 494, 5. 



spun their own wool and made their own 
cloth, exportation, except perhaps in the case 
of stockings, seems to have been unknown. 
In many cases a system of merchandise some- 
Avhat similar to the ruinous, oppressive, and 
obstructive system still common in Shetland, 
seems to have been in vogue in many parts of 
the Highlands. By this system, some of the 
more substantial tacksmen would lay in a 
stock of goods such as would be likely to be 
needed by their tenants, but which these could 
not procure for themselves, such as iron, corn, 
wine, brandy, sugar, tobacco, &c. These goods 
the tacksmen would supply to his tenants as 
they needed them, charging nothing for them 
at the time ; but, about the month of May, the 
tenant would hand over to his tacksman-mer- 
chant as many cattle as the latter considered 
an equivalent for the goods supplied. As 
the people would seldom have any idea of the 
real value of the goods, of course there was 
ample room for a dishonest tacksman to realise 
an enormous profit, which, we fear, was too 
often done. " By which traffic the poor 
wretched people were cheated out of their 
effects, for one half of their value ; and so are 
kept in eternal poverty." 1 

As to roads, with the exception of those made 
for military purposes by General Wade, there 
seems to have been none whatever, only tracts 
here and there in the most frequented routes, 
frequently impassable, and at all time unsafe 
without a guide. Captain Burt could not 
move a mile or two out of Inverness without a 
guide. Bridges seem to have been even rarer 
than slated houses or carriages. 

We have thus endeavoured to give the reader 
a correct idea of the state of the country and 
people of the Highlands previous to the abo 
lition of the heritable jurisdictions. Our only 
aim has been to find out the truth, and we 
have done so by appealing to the evidence of 
contemporaries, or of those whose witness is 
almost as good. We have endeavoured to ex 
hibit both the good and bad side of the picture, 
and we are only sorry that space will not 
permit of giving further details. However, 
from what lias been said above, the reader must 
see how much had to be accomplished by the 

1 Gartmore Paper, in Bart s Letters, vol. ii. ].. 864. 

Highlanders to bring them up to the level of 
the rest of the country, and will be able to 
understand the nature of the changes which 
from time to time took place, the difficulties 
which had to be overcome, the prejudices which 
had to be swept away, the hardships which 
had to be encountered, in assimilating the 
Highlands with the rest of the country. 

Having thus, as far as space permits, shown 
the condition of the Highlands previous to 
1745, we shall now, as briefly as possible, 
trace the history down to the present day, 
showing the march of change, and we hope, of 
progress after the abolition of the heritable 
jurisdictions. In doing so we must necessarily 
come across topics concerning which there has 
been much rancorous and unprofitable contro 
versy ; but, as we have done in the case of 
other disputed matters, we shall do our best to 
lay facts before the reader, and allow him to 
form his opinions for himself. The history 
of the Highlands since 1745 is no doubt in 
some respects a sad one; much misery and cruel 
disappointment come under the notice of the 
investigator. But in many respects, and, we 
have no doubt in its ultimate results, the his 
tory is a bright one, showing as it does the 
progress of a people from semi-barbarism and 
slavery and ignorance towards high civilisation, 
freedom of action with the world before them, 
and enlightenment and knowledge, and vigorous 
and successful enterprise. Formerly the High 
landers were a nuisance to their neighbours, and 
a drag upon the progress of the country ; now 
they are not surpassed by any section of her 
Majesty s subjects for character, enterprise, 
education, loyalty, and self-respect. Consider 
ing the condition of the country in 1745, what 
could we expect to take place on the passing 
and enforcing of an act such as that which 
abolished the heritable jurisdictions? Was it 
not natural, unavoidable that a fermentation 
should take place, that there should be a war of 
apparently conflicting interests, that, in short, 
as in the achievement of all great results by 
nations and men, there should be much experi 
menting, much groping to find out the best way. 
much shuffling about by the people to fit them 
selves to their new circumstances, before matters 
could again fall into somethinglike asettled con 
dition, before each man would fl n d h is place in the 



new adj ustment of society ] Moreover, the High 
landers had to learn an inevitable and a salutary 
lesson, that in this or in any country under one 
government, where prosperity and harmony are 
desired, no particular section of the people is to 
consider itself as having a right to one par 
ticular part of the country. The Highlands 
for the Highlanders is a barbarous, selfish, 
obstructive cry in a united and progressive 
nation. It seems to be the law of nature, as 
it is the law of progress, that those who can 
make the best use of any district ought to have 
it. This has been the case with the world at 
large, and it has turned out, and is still turning 
out to be the case with this country. The 
Highlands now contain a considerable lowland 
population, and the Highlanders are scattered 
over the length and breadth of the land, and 
indeed of the world, honourably fulfilling the 
noble part they have to play in the world s 
history. Ere long there will be neither High 
lander nor Lowlander ; we shall all be one 
people, having the best qualities of the blood of 
the formerly two antagonistic races running in 
our veins. It is, we have no doubt, with men 
as with other animals, the best breeds are 
got by judicious crossings. 

Of course it is seldom the case that any 
great changes take place in the social or political 
policy of a country without much individual 
suffering : this was the case at all events in the 
Highlands. Many of the poor people and 
tacksmen had to undergo great hardships 
during the process of this new adjustment of 
affairs ; but that the lairds or chiefs were to 
blame for this, it would be rash to assert. Some 
of these were no doubt unnecessarily harsh and 
unfeeling, but even where they were kindest and 
most considerate with their tenants, there was 
much misery prevailing among the latter. In 
the general scramble for places under the new 
arrangements, every one, chief, tacksman, 
tenant, and cottar, had to look out for himself 
or go to the wall, and it was therefore the most 
natural thing in the world that the instinct of 
self-preservation and self-advancement, which 
is stronger by far than that of universal bene 
volence, should urge the chiefs to look to their 
own interests in preference to those of the people, 
who unfortunately, from the habit of centuries, 
looked to their superiors alone for that help 

which they should have been able to give 
themselves. It appears to us that the results 
which have followed from the abolition 
of the jurisdictions and the obliteration of 
the power of the chiefs, were inevitable ; that 
they might have been brought about in a much 
gentler way, with much less suffering and 
bitterness and recrimination, there is no doubt ; 
but while the process was going on, who had 
time to think of these things, or look at the 
matter in a calm and rational light ? Certainly 
not those who were the chief actors in bringing 
about the results. With such stubbornness, 
bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance on one side, 
and such power and poverty and necessity for 
immediate and decided action on the other, and 
with selfishness on both sides, it was all but 
inevitable that results should have been as they 
turned out to be. We shall do what we can 
to state plainly, briefly, and fairly the real 
facts of the case. 


State of Highlands subsequent to 1745 Progress of 
Innovation First mention of Emigration Pen 
nant s account of the country Dr Johnson 
Emigration fairly commenced in 1760 The Tacks- 
men the first to suffer and emigrate Consequences 
to those who remained Wretched condition of 
the Western Islands Introduction of large sheep- 
farms Ejection of small tenants "Mailers" 
Hebrides Eeal Highland grievance Title-deeds 
The two sides of the Highland Question Truth on 
both sides Excessive population Argument of 
those who condemn depopulation The senti 
mental and military arguments Testimony as 
to wretched condition of Highlanders High 
lands admirably suited for sheep Effect of 
sheep-farming on Highland scenery Highlands 
unsuited to black cattle Large and small farms 
Interference Fishing and farming cannot be 
successfully united Raising rents Depopulation 
How far the landlords were to blame Kelp 
Advantages and disadvantages of its manufacture 
Potatoes Introduction into the Highlands 
Their importance Failures of Crop Disease 
Amount of progress made during latter part of 
18th century. 

As we have said already, the Highlanders, 
chiefs and people, were so confounded, and 
prostrated by the cruel proceedings and strin 
gent measures which followed Culloden, that 
it was some time ere they could realise the 
new position of affairs. Little alteration ap 
pears to liave, for some years, been effected 



in the relationship subsisting between people 
and chiefs, the latter being HOAV simply land 
lords. The gentlemen and common people ol 
the clans continued to regard their chief in 
the same light as they did previous to the 
abolition of the jurisdictions, for they did not 
consider that their obedience to the head of the 
clan was in the least dependent upon any 
legislative enactments. They still considered 
it their duty to do what they could to support 
their chief, and were still as ready as ever to 
make any sacrifice for his sake. At the same 
time, their notions of the chief s duty to hi 
people remained unaltered ; he, they thought, 
was bound as much as ever to see to it that 
they did not want, to share with them the land 
which belonged to the chief not so much as a 
proprietor, but as the head and representative 
of his people. The gentlemen, especially, of 
the clan, the tacksmen or large farmers, most 
firmly and sincerely believed that they had as 
much right to a share of the lands as the chief 
himself, their relation ; he was as much bound 
to provide for them as a father is bound to 
make provision for his children. There is no 
doubt also that many of the chiefs themselves, 
especially the older ones, held the same belief 
on this matter as their subordinates, so that in 
many instances it was not till the old laird 
had passed away, and a new one had filled his 
place, that the full effect of the measures already 
described began to be felt. Of course, many 
of the chiefs and gentlemen who had taken 
part in the rebellion had been compelled to 
leave the country in order to save their lives, and 
many of the estates had been forfeited to govern 
ment, which entrusted the management of them 
to commissioners. It was probably these estates 
upon which changes began to be first effected. 
All the accounts we have of the Highlands 
from travellers and others down to the end of 
the 18th century, show the country in a state 
of commotion and confusion, resulting from the 
changes consequent on the rebellion, the break 
ing up of old relationships, and the gradual 
encroachment of lowland civilisation, lowland 
modes of life, and lowland methods of agricul 
ture. Up to the end of the century, the 
positive changes do not appear to have been 
great or extensive, they seem more to have been 
of a tentative experimental kind, attempts to 

find out the most suitable or profitable way of 
working under the new regime. The result of 
these experiments of this unsettling of many- 
century-old customs and ideas, and of the con 
sequent shifting and disturbing of the people, 
was for a long time much discontent and 
misery. The progress of change, both with 
regard to place and in respect of the nature of 
the innovations, was gradual, beginning, as a 
rule, with those districts of the Highlands 
which bordered on the lowlands, and proceed 
ing in a direction somewhat north-west. It 
was these border districts which got first settled 
down and assimilated in all respects to the 
lowlands, and, although in some instances the 
commotion was felt in the Western Islands and 
Highlands a few years after 1746, yet these 
localities, as a rule, were longest in adjusting 
themselves to the new state of things ; indeed, 
in many western districts, the commotion has 
not yet subsided, and consequently misery and 
discontent still frequently prevail. In the 
same way it was only little by little that 
changes were effected, first one old custom 
giving way and then another, their places 
being filled by others which had prevailed in 
the lowlands for many years before. Indeed, 
we think the progress made by the Highlands 
during the last century has been much greater 
than that of the lowlands during the same 
period; for when, in the case of the Highlands, 
the march of progress commenced, they were in 
many respects centuries behind the rest of 
the country, -whereas at the present day, with 
the exception of some outlying districts above 
mentioned, they are in almost every respect as 
far forward and as eager to advance farther as 
the most progressive districts of the south. 
This is no doubt owing to the extra pressure 
which was brought to bear upon them in the 
shape of the measures which followed Culloden, 
without which they no doubt must have pro 
gressed, but at a much slower rate. Perhaps 
-his is the reason why certain outlying districts 
have lagged behind and are still in a state of 
unsettlement and discontent, the people, and 
often the lairds, refusing to acknowledge and 
give way to the necessity for change, but even 
yet attempting to live and act in accordance 
with the old-fashioned clannish mode of manag 
ing men and land. 



The unsettled state of the Highlands, and 
the fact that many Highlanders were leaving 
the country, attracted attention so early as ahout 
1750. For in 1752, a pamphlet was published 
by a Mr John Camphell, pretending to give 
" A Full and Particular Description of the 
Highlands," and propounding a scheme which, 
in the author s estimation, would " prove 
effectual in bringing in the most disaffected 
among them." There is little said in this book 
of the actual condition of the Highlanders 
at that time, only a few details as to their 
manners, funeral-customs, marriages, &c., and a 
lamentation, ever since repeated, that so many 
should be compelled to leave their native land 
and settle among foreigners. The author does 
not mention emigration to America; what he 
chiefly deplores is the fact that so many High 
landers, from the unkindness of their superiors 
at home, should have taken service in various 
capacities, civil and military, in other European 
countries, frequently fighting in foreign armies 
against their fellow-countrymen. However, 
from the general tone of his remarks, it may be 
gathered that he refers mainly to those who 
were compelled to leave the country on account 
of the part they took in the late rebellion, and 
not on account of any alterations which had yet 
taken place in the internal affairs of the High 
lands. Still it is plainly to be inferred that 
already much misery and discontent prevailed 
in the country. 

Pennant made his two tours in Scotland in 
the years 1769 and 1772. His travels in the 
Highlands were confined mainly to the Western 
Islands and the districts on the west coast, 
and his account is little else than a tale of 
famine and wretchedness from beginning to 
end. What little agriculture there was, was 
as bad as ever, the country rarely producing 
enough of grain to supply the inhabitants, and 
in many places he fears " the isles annually 
experience a temporary famine." In the island 
of Islay a thousand pounds worth of meal was 
annually imported, and at the time of Pennant s 
visit "a famine threatened." Indeed, the normal 
state of the Western Highlands at least appears 
for long to have been one bordering on famine, 
or what would have been considered so in any 
less wretched country; and periodically many 
seem to have died from absolute want of food. 


Here is a sad picture of misery; Pennant ia 
speaking more particularly of Skye, but his 
remarks might have been applied to most of 
the Western Islands. "The poor are left to Pro 
vidence s care ; they prowl like other animals 
along the shores to pick up limpets and other 
shell-fish, the casual repasts of hundreds during 
part of the year in these unhappy islands. Hun 
dreds thus annually drag through the season 
a wretched life; and numbers, unknown, in all 
parts of the Western Highlands, fall beneath 
the pressure, some of hunger, more of the 
putrid fever, the epidemic of the coasts, 
originating from unwholesome food, the dire 
effects of necessity." 1 No change for the 
better to record in agriculture, the farms still 
overstocked with horses, black cattle and men, 
the fishing still all but neglected, hovels 
wretched as ever, and clothes as tattered and 
scanty nothing in short to be seen but want 
and wretchedness, with apparently no inclina 
tion in the people to better their condition. 
Johnson, who visited the Western Islands in 
the autumn of 1773, has a very similar report 
to make. Everything seemed to be in a state 
of transition ; old relationships were being 
broken up, and a spirit of general discontent 
and feeling of insecurity were abroad. As to 
the poor condition of the people generally, 
Johnson essentially confirms the statements of 
Pennant, although he hints that they did by 
no means appear to be unhappy, or able to 
realise their wretched condition. 

At the time of Pennant s and Johnson s 
visits to the Highlands, the new leaven of 
change had fairly begun to work. Already 
had depopulation and emigration begun, and to 
some extent sheep-farming on a large scale had 
been introduced. 

Emigration from the Highlands to America 
seems to have fairly commenced shortly after 
1760, as, in a pamphlet 2 published in 1784, it 
is stated that between the years 1763 and 1775 
above 20,000 Highlanders left their homes to 
settle on the other side of the Atlantic. The 
first apparently to suffer from the altered state 
of things in the Highlands, the decreasing 
value of men and the increasing value of 
money, were the tacksmen, or large farmers, 

1 Pennant s Tnur, vol. ii. p. 305. 
- A View of -the Highlands, &c. 


the relations of the old chiefs, who had held 
their farms from generation to generation, who 
regarded themselves as having about as much 
right to the land as the lairds, and who had 
hitherto been but little troubled about rent. 
After a time, when the chiefs, now merely 
lairds, began to realise their new position and 
to feel the necessity of making their land yield 
them as large an income as possible, they very 
naturally sought to get a higher rent for the 
farms let to these tacksmen, who, in most 
cases, were the only immediate holders of land 
from the proprietor. These tacksmen, in many 
cases, appear to have resented this procedure 
as they would a personal injury from their 
dearest friends. It was not that the addition 
to the rents was excessive, or that the rents 
were already as high as the land could bear, 
for generally the additions seem to have been 
trifling, and it is well known that the pro 
prietors received nothing like the rents their 
lands should have yielded under a proper 
system of management. What seems to have 
hurt these gentlemen was the idea that the 
laird, the father of his people, should ever 
think of anything so mercenary as rent, or 
should ever by any exercise of his authority 
indicate that he had it in his power to give or 
let his farms to the highest bidders. It was 
bad enough, they thought, that an alien 
government should interfere with their old 
ways of doing ; but that their chiefs, the heads 
of their race, for whom they were ready to lay 
down their lives and the lives of all over whom 
they had any power, should turn against them, 
was more than they could bear. The con 
sequence was that many of them, especially in 
the west, threw up their farms, no doubt 
thinking that the lairds would at once ask 
them to remain on the old terms. This, how 
ever, was but seldom done, and the consequence 
was that many of these tacksmen emigrated to 
America, taking with them, no doubt, servants 
and sub-tenants, and enticing out more by the 
glowing accounts they sent home of their good 
fortune in that far-off land. 

In some cases, the farms thus vacated were 
let to other tacksmen or large tenants, but in 
most instances, the new system was introduced 
of letting the land directly to what were for 
merly the sub-tenants, those who had held the 

land immediately from the ousted tacksmen. 
A number of these sub-tenants would take a 
large farm among them, sub- dividing it as they 
chose, and each becoming liable for his propor 
tion of the rent. The farms thus let were gene 
rally cultivated on the run-rig system already 
referred to, the pasture being common to all the 
tenants alike. 

That certain advantages followed these 
changes there is no doubt. Every account we 
have of the Highlands during the earlier 
part of the 18th century, agrees in the 
fact that the Highlands were over-peopled 
and over-stocked, that it was impossible 
for the land to yield sufficient to support 
the men and beasts who lived upon it. 
Hence, this drafting off of a considerable por 
tion of the population gave that which remained 
breathing-room; fewer people were left to 
support, and it is to be supposed that the 
condition of these would be improved. More 
over, they would probably have their farms at 
a cheaper rent than under the old system, when 
the demands of both tacksmen and laird had 
to be satisfied, the former, of course, having 
let the land at a much higher rate than that at 
which they held it from their superior. Now, 
it was possible enough for the laird to get a 
higher rent than before, and at the same time 
the people might have their farms at a lower 
rent than they had previously given to the 
tacksmen. There would also be fewer oppres 
sive services demanded of these small tenants 
than under the old system, for now they had 
only the laird to satisfy, whereas previously 
they had both him and the tacksman. There 
would still, of course, be services required by 
the laird from these tenants, still would part of 
the rent be paid in kind, still would they be 
thirled to particular mills, and have to submit 
to many similar exactions, of the oppressiveness 
of which, however, it was long before they 
became conscious ; but, on the whole, the 
condition of those districts from which emiorra- 


tions took place must to some extent have been 
the better for the consequent thinning of the 
population. Still no alteration appears to have 
taken place in the mode of farming, the nature 
of tenures, mode of paying rent, houses, clothes, 
food of the people. In some parts of the High 
lands and islands, no alteration whatever appears 



to have been made on the old system ; the tacks- 
men were allowed to remain undisturbed, and 
the people lived and held land as f orderly. 
j But even in those districts from which emigra 
tions were largely made, little or no improve 
ment seems to have been the consequence, if 
we may trust the reports of those who saw how 
things stood with their own eyes. Pennant, 
Johnson, Buchanan, 3 IsTewte, 4 the Old Statisti 
cal Account, all agree that but little improve 
ment was noticeable over the greater part of 
the Highlands from 1745 down till near the 
end ol the 18th century. 

One reason why emigration made so little 
difference in the way of improvement on the 

condition of those who remained in the country 
was, that no check was put upon the over 
stocking of the farms with men and animals. 
In spite of emigration, the population in many 
districts increased instead of diminished. A 
common practice among those tenants who con 
jointly held a large farm was for a father, on 
the marriage of a son or daughter, to divide his 
share of the farm with the young couple, who 
either lived in the old man s house or built a 
hut for themselves and tried to make a living 
out of the share of the pendicle allotted to them. 
To such an extent was this practice carried, that 
often a portion of land of a few acres, originally 
let to and siifficient to maintain one family, 
might in a few years be divided among six or 
eight families, and which, even if cultivated in 
the best manner possible, could not support its 
occupants for more- than two or three months a 
year. On account of this ruinous practice, 
Skye, which in 1750 had 15,000 inhabitants, 
most of whom were in a condition of misery 
and want, in 1857, in spite of large and 
repeated emigrations, had a population of about 
23,000. This custom was common in many 
Highland (chiefly western) districts down to 
only a few years ago, and was fruitful of many 
pernicious consequences of frequent famines, 
the constant impoverishing of the soil, the 
over-stocking of pasture-land, and continual 

In some cases, the farms vacated by the old 
tacksmen, instead of being let to the old sub 
tenants, were let to whatever stranger would 

3 Travels in the Western Islands. 

4 Tour in England and Scotland (1785). 

give the highest offer. On farms so let, the 
condition of the sub-tenants who were con 
tinued on the old footing, appears often to have 
been miserable in the extreme. These new- 
come tacksmen or middlemen cared nothing 
either for chiefs or people ; they paid their rent 
and were determined to squeeze from those 
under them as large a return as possible for their 
outlay. In confirmation of these statements, 
and to show the sad condition, of many parts 
of the Highlands in their state of transition, 
we quote the folio wing passage from Buchanan s 
Travels in the Hebrides, referring to about 
1780. Even allowing for exaggeration, al 
though there is no reason to believe the writer 
goes beyond the truth, the picture is almost 
incredibly deplorable : 

" At present they are obliged to be much 
more submissive to their tacksmen than ever 
they were in former times to their lairds or 
lords. There is a great difference between that 
mild treatment which is shown to sub-tenants 
and even scallags, by the old lessees, descended 
of ancient and honourable families, and the 
outrageous rapacity of those necessitous stran 
gers who have obtained leases from absent 
proprietors, who treat the natives as if they 
were a conquered and inferior race of mortals. 
In short, they treat them like beasts of bur 
then ; and in all respects like slaves attached 
to the soil, as they cannot obtain new habita 
tions, on account of the combinations already 
mentioned, and are entirely at the mercy of 
the laird or tacksman. Formerly, the per 
sonal service of the tenant did not usually ex 
ceed eight or ten days in the year. There lives 
at present at Scalpa, in the Isle of Harris, a 
tacksman of a large district, who instead of 
six days work paid by the sub-tenants to his 
predecessor in the lease, has raised the predial 
service, called in that and in other parts of 
Scotland, manerial bondage, to fifty-two days 
in the year at once ; besides many other 
services to be performed at different though 
regular and stated times : as tanning leather 
for brogues, making heather ropes for thatch, 
digging and drying peats for fuel ; one pan 
nier of peat charcoal to be carried to the 
smith ; so many days for gathering and shear 
ing sheep and lambs ; for ferrying cattle from 
island to island, and other distant places, and 



several days for going on distant errands ; 
so many pounds of wool to he spun into 
yarn. And over and above all this, they 
must lend their aid upon any unforeseen 
occurrence whenever they are called on. The 
constant service of two months at once is per 
formed at the proper season in the making of 
kelp. On the whole, this gentleman s sub 
tenants may be computed to devote to his 
service full three days in the week. But this 
is not all : they have to pay besides yearly a 
certain number of cocks, hens, butter, and 
cheese, called CAORIGH-FERRIN, the WIFE S 
PORTION ! This, it must be owned, is one of 
the most severe and rigorous tacksmen de 
scended from the old inhabitants, in all the 
Western Hebrides : but the situation of his 
sub-tenants exhibits but too faithful a picture 
of the sub-tenants of those places in general, 
and the exact counterpart of such enormous 
oppression is to be found at Luskintire." 

Another cause of emigration and of depopu 
lation generally, was the introduction of sheep 
on a large scale, involving the junction into 
one of several small farms, each of which 
might before have been occupied by a number 
of tenants. These subjects of the introduction 
of sheep, engrossing of farms, and consequent 
depopulation, have occupied, and still to some 
extent do occupy, the attention of all those 
who take an interest in the Highlands, and of 
social economists in general. Various opinions 
have been passed on the matters in question, 
some advocating the retention of the people at 
all costs, while others declare that the greatest 
part of the Highlands is fit only for pasture, 
and it would be sheer madness, and shuttin^ 

7 o 

our eyes wilfully to the sad lessons of experi 
ence, to stock a land Avith people that is fit 
only to sustain sheep, and which at its very 
best contains mere specks of arable ground, 
which, even when cultivated to the utmost, 
can yield but a poor and unprofitable return. 

Whatever opinion may be passed upon the 
general question, there can be no doubt that at 
first the introduction of sheep was fruitful of 
misery and discontent to those who had to 
vacate their old home and leave their native 
glens to find shelter they knew not well where. 
Many of those thus displaced by sheep and by 
one or two lowland shepherds, emigrated like 

the discontented tacksmen to America, those 
who remained looking with ill-will and an evil 
eye on the lowland intruders. Although often 
the intruder came from the South country, 
and brought his sheep and his shepherds Avith 
him, still this was not always the case ; for 
many of the old tacksmen and even sub 
tenants, after they saw how immensely more 
profitable the new system was over the old, 
wisely took a lesson in time, and following the 
example of the new lowland tenant, took large 
farms and stocked them with sheep and cattle, 
and reduced the arable land to a minimum. 
But, generally speaking, in cases where farms 
formerly subdivided among a number of 
tenants were converted into sheep farms, the 
smaller tenant had to quit and find a means 
of living elsewhere. The landlords in general 
attempted to prevent the ousted tenants from 
leaving the country by setting apart some 
particular spot either by the sea-shore or on 
waste land which had never been touched by 
plough, on which they might build houses and 
have an acre or two of land for their support. 
Those who were removed to the coast were 
encouraged to prosecute the fishing along with 
their agricultural labours, while those who 
were settled on waste land were stimulated to 
bring it into a state of cultivation. It was 
mainly by a number of such ousted High 
landers that the great and arduous undertaking 
was accomplished of bringing into a state of 
cultivation Kincardine Moss, in Perthshire. 
At the time the task was undertaken, about 
1767, it was one of stupendous magnitude; 
but so successfully was it carried out, that 
in a few years upwards of 2000 acres of fine 
clay-soil, which for centuries had been covered 
to the depth of seven feet with heath and 
decayed vegetable matter, were bearing luxu 
riant crops of all kinds. In a similar way, 
many spots throughout the Highlands, for 
merly yielding nothing but heath and moss, 
were, by the exertions of those who were de 
prived of their farms, brought into a state 
of cultivation. Those who occupied ground 
of this kind were known as mailers, and, as 
a rule, they paid no rent for the first few 
years, after which they generally paid the 
proprietor a shilling or two per acre, which 
was gradually increased as the land improved 


and its cultivation extended. For the first 
season or two the proprietor usually either lent 
or presented them with seed and implements. 
In the parish of Urray, in the south-east of 
Ross-shire, about the year 1790, there were 
248 families of this kind, most of whom had 
settled there within the previous forty years. 
Still the greater number of these, both tacks- 
men and sub-tenants, who were deprived of 
their farms, either on account of the raising of 
the rents or because of their conversion into 
large sheep-walks, emigrated to America. The 
old Statistical Account of North Uist says 
that between the years 1771 and 1775, a 
space of only four years, several thousands 
emigrated from the Western Highlands and 
Islands alone. At first few of the islands 
appear to have been put under sheep ; where 
any alteration on the state of things took 
place at all, it was generally in the way of 
raising rents, thus causing the tacksmen to 
leave, who were succeeded either by strangers 
who leased the farms, or by the old sub-tenants, 
among whom the lands were divided, and who 
held immediately from the laird. It was long, 
however, as we have already indicated, before 
the innovations took thorough hold upon the 
Hebrides, as even down almost to the present 
time many of the old proprietors, either from 
attachment to their people, or from a love of 
feudal show, struggle to keep up the old 
system, leaving the tacksmen undisturbed, 
and doing all they can to maintain and keep 
on their property a large number of sub 
tenants and cottars. Almost invariably, those 
proprietors who thus obstinately refused to 
succumb to the changes going on around them, 
suffered for their unwise conduct. Many of 
them impoverished their families for genera 
tions, and many of the estates were disposed of 
for behoof of their creditors, and they them 
selves had to sink to the level of landless 
gentlemen, and seek their living in commerce 
or otherwise. 

Gradually, however, most of the proprietors, 
especially those whose estates were on the 
mainland Highlands, yielded, in general no 
doubt willingly, to change, raised their rents, 
abolished small tenancies, and gave their 
lands up to the sheep farmers. The temptation 
was, no doubt, often very great, on account 

of the large rents offered by the lowland 
graziers. One proprietor in Argyleshire, who 
had some miles of pasture let to a number of 
small tenants for a few shillings yearly, on 
being offered by a lowlander who saw the 
place 300 a year, could not resist, but, how 
ever ruefully, cleared it of his old tenants, and 
gave it up to the money-making lowlander. 
It was this engrossing of farms and the turning 
of immense tracks of country into sheep-walks, 
part of which was formerly cultivated and in- | 
habited by hundreds of people, that was the 
great grievance of the Highlanders during the 
latter part of last century. Not that it could 
aggravate their wretchedness to any great ex 
tent, for that was bad enough already even 
before 1745 ; it seems to have been rather the 
fact that their formerly much-loved chiefs should 
treat them worse than they could strangers, 
prefer a big income to a large band of faithful 
followers, and eject those who believed them 
selves to have as great a right to the occupancy 
of the land as the chiefs themselves. " The 
great and growing grievance of the Highlands 
is not the letting of the land to tacksmen, but 
the making of so many sheep-walks, which 
sweep off both tacksmen and sub-tenants all 
in a body." 5 The tacksmen especially felt 
naturally cut to the quick by what they deemed 
the selfish and unjust policy of the chiefs. 
These tacksmen and their ancestors in most 
cases had occupied their farms for many gene 
rations ; their birth was as good and their 
genealogy as old as those of the chief himself, 
to whom they were all blood relations, and to 
whom they were attached with the most un 
shaken loyalty. True, they had no writing, no 
document, no paltry "sheep-skin," as they called 
it, to show as a proof that they had as much 
right to their farms as the laird himself. But 
what of that ? Who would ever have thought 
that their chiefs would turn against them, and 
try to wrest from them that which had been 
gifted by a former chief to their fathers, who 
would have bitten out their tongue before they 
would ask a bond ? The gift, they thought, 
was none the less real because there was no 
written proof of it. These parchments were 
quite a modern innovation, not even then uni 

5 Newte. 


versally acknowledged among the Highlanders, 
to whom the only satisfactory proof of pro 
prietorship and chiefship was possession from 
time immemorial. Occasionally a chief, who 
could produce no title-deed to his estate, was 
by law deprived of it, and his place filled by 
another. But the clan would have none of 
this ; they invariably turned their backs upon 
the intruder, and acknowledged only the ousted 
chief as their head and the real proprietor, 
whom they were bound to support, and whom 
they frequently did support, by paying to him 
the rents which were legally due to the other. 
In some cases, it would seem, 6 the original 
granters of the land to the tacksmen conveyed 
it to them by a regular title-deed, by which, of 
course, they became proprietors. And we 
think there can be no doubt, that originally 
when a chief bestowed a share of his property 
upon his son or other near relation, he intended 
that the latter should keep it for himself and 
his descendants ; he was not regarded merely 
as a tenant who had to pay a yearly rent, but 
as a sub-proprietor, who, from a sense of love 
and duty would contribute what he could to 
support the chief of his race and clan. In 
many cases, we say, this was the light in which 
chief, tacksmen, and people regarded these 
farms tenanted by the gentlemen of the clan ; 
and it only seems to have been after the value 
of men decreased and of property increased, 
that most of the lairds began to look at the 
matter in a more commercial, legal, and less 
romantic light. According to ]S"ewte and 
what he says is supported to a considerable 
extent by facts " in the southern parts of 
Argyleshire, in Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, 
Moray, and Ross, grants of land were made in 
writing, while in Inverness-shire, Sutherland- 
shire, the northern parts of Argyleshire, and 
the Western Islands, the old mode was con 
tinued of verbal or emblematical transference. 
In Ross-shire, particularly, it would appear 
that letters and the use of letters in civil 
iflairs had been early introduced and widely 
spread ; for property is more equally divided 
in that country than in most other counties in 
Scotland, and than in any other of the High 
lands. Agreeably to these observations, it is 

6 Newte s Travels, p. 127. 

from the great estates on the northern and 
western sides of Scotland that the descendants 
of the original tacksmen of the land, with 
tl ic ir families, have been obliged to migrate by 
the positive and unrelenting demands of rent 
beyond what it was in their power to give, 
and, indeed, in violation of those conditions 
that were understood and observed between 
the original granter and original tenant and 
their posterity for centuries." 3 These state 
ments are exceedingly plausible, and we be 
lieve to a certain extent true ; but it is unne 
cessary here to enter upon the discussion of 
the question. What we have to do with is the 
unquestionable fact that the Highland pro 
prietors did in many instances take advantage 
of the legal power, which they undoubtedly 
possessed, to do with trunr land as they pleased, 
and, regardless of the feelings of the old 
tacksmen and sub-tenants, let it to the highest 
bidders. The consequence was that these 
tacksmen, who to a certain extent were 
demoralised and knew not how to use the land 
to best advantage, had to leave the homes of 
their ancestors ; and many of the small farmers 
and cottars, in the face of the new system of 
large sheep-farms, becoming cumberers of the 
ground, were swept from the face of the 
country, and either located in little lots by the 
sea-side, where they became useful as fishers 
and kelp-burners, or settled on some waste 
moor, which they occupied themselves in re 
claiming from its native barrenness, or, as was 
frequently the case, followed the tacksmen. and 
sought a home in the far west, where many 
of them became lairds in their own right. i 

These then are the great recults of the 
measures which followed the rebellion of 
1745-6, and the consequent breaking up of 
the old clan system extensive sheep-farming, 
accompanied with a great rise in the rent of 
land, depopulation, and emigration. As to the 
legality of the proceedings of the proprietors, 
there can be no doubt; as little doubt is there 
that the immediate consequence to many of the 
Highlanders was great suffering, accompanied 
by much bitterness and discontent. As to the 
morality or justice of the laird s conduct, 
various opinions have been, and no doubt for 

7 Newte s Travels, p. 127. 



long will be, expressed. One side maintains 
that it "was the duty of these chiefs upon whom 
the people depended, whom they revered, and 
for whom they were ready to die, at all events, 
to see to it that their people were provided for, 
and that ultimately it would have been for the 
interest of the proprietors and the country at 
large to do everything to prevent from emigrat 
ing in such numbers as they did, such a 
splendid race of men, for whose services to the 
country no money equivalent could be found. 
It is maintained that the system of large farms 
is pernicious in every respect, and that only by 
the system of moderate sized farms can a 
country be made the best of, an adequate rural 
population be kept up, and self-respect and a 
high moral tone be nourished and spread 
throughout the land. Those who adopt this 
side of the question pooh-pooh the common 
maxims of political economy, and declare that 
laws whose immediate consequences are wide 
spread suffering, and the unpeopling of a 
country, cannot be founded on any valid basis ; 
that proprietors hold their lands only in trust, 
and it is therefore their duty not merely to 
consider their own narrow interests, but also 
to consult the welfare and consult the feelings 
of their people. In short, it is maintained by 
this party, that the Highland lairds, in acting 
as they did, showed themselves to be unjust, 
selfish, heartless, unpatriotic, mercenary, and 
blind to their own true interests and those ot 
their country. 

On the other hand, it is maintained that 
what occurred in the Highlands subsequent to 
1745 was a step in the right direction, and that 
it was only a pity that the innovations had not 
been more thorough and systematic. For long 
previous to 1745, it is asserted the Highlands 
were much over-peopled, and the people, as a 
consequence of the vicious system under which 
they had lived for generations, were incurably 
lazy, and could be roused from this sad 
lethargy only by some such radical measures as 
were adopted. The whole system of Highland 
life and manners and habits were almost bar 
barous, the method of farming was thoroughly 
pernicious and unproductive, the stock of 
cattle worthless and excessive, and so badly 
managed that about one half perished every 
winter. On account of the excessive popula 

tion, the land was by far too much subdivided, 
the majority of so-called farmers occupying 
farms of so small a size that they could furnish 
the necessaries of life for no more than six 
months, and consequently the people were 
continually on the verge of starvation. The 
Highlands, it is said, are almost totally un- 
suited for agriculture, and fit only for pasturage, 
and that consequently this subdivision into 
small farms could be nothing else than per 
nicious; that the only method by which the 
land could be made the most of was that of 
large sheep-farms, and that the proprietors, 
while no doubt studying their own interests, 
adopted the wisest policy when they let out 
their land on this system. In short, it is 
maintained by the advocates of innovations, the 
whole body of the Highlanders were thoroughly 
demoralised, their number was greater by far 
than the land could support even if managed 
to the best advantage, and was increasing every 
year; the whole system of renting land, of 
tenure, and of farming was ruinous to the 
people and the land, and that nothing but a 
radical change could cure the many evils with 
which the country Avas afflicted. 

There has been much rather bitter discussion 
between the advocates of the two sides of the 
Highland question; often more recrimination 
and calling of names than telling argument. 
This question, we think, is no exception to the 
general rule which governs most disputed 
matters ; there is truth, we believe, on both 
sides. We fear the facts already adduced in 
this part of the book comprise many of the 
assertions made by the advocates of change. 
As to the wretched social condition of the 
Highlanders, for long before and after 1745, 
there can be no doubt, if we .can place any re 
liance on the evidence of contemporaries, and 
we have already said enough to show that the 
common system of farming, if worthy of the 
name, was ruinous and inefficient ; while their 
small lean cattle were so badly managed that 
about one half died yearly. That the popula 
tion was very much greater than the land, 
even if used to the best advantage, could 
support, is testified to by every candid writer 
from the Gartmore paper 8 down almost to the 

8 Hurt s Letters, Appendix. 



present day. The author of the Gartmore 
paper, written about 1747, estimated that the 
population of the Highlands at that time 
amounted to about 230,000 ; " but," he says, 
" according to the present economy of the 
Highlands, there is not business for more than 
one half of that number of people. . . The 
other half, then, must be idle and beggars 
while, in the country." " The produce of the 
crops," says Pennant, 9 " very rarely are in any 
degree proportioned to the wants of the inhabi 
tants ; golden seasons have happened, when 
they have had superfluity, but the years of 
famine are as ten to one." It is probable, 
from a comparison with the statistics of Dr 
Webster, taken in 1755, 1 that the estimate of 
the author of the Gartmore paper was not far 
from being correct; indeed, if anything, it 
must have been under the mark, as in 1755 
the population of the Highlands and Islands 
amounted, according to Webster, to about 
290,000, which, in 1795, had increased to 
325,566, 2 in spite of the many thousands who 
had emigrated. This great increase in the 
population during the latter part of the 18th 
century is amply confirmed by the writers of 
the Statistical Accounts of the various Highland 
parishes, and none had better opportunities of 
knowing the real state of matters than they. 
The great majority of these writers likewise 
assert that the population was far too large in 
proportion to the produce of the land and 
means of employment, and that some such 
outlet as emigration was absolutely necessary. 
Those who condemn emigration and depopula 
tion, generally do so for some merely senti 
mental reason, and seldom seek to show that 
it is quite possible to maintain the large popu 
lation without disastrous results. It is a pity, 
they say, that the Highlander, possessing so 
many noble qualities, and so strongly attached 
to his native soil, should be compelled to seek 
a home in a foreign land, and bestow upon it 
the services which might be profitably em 
ployed by his mother country. By permitting, 
they say, these loyal and brave Highlanders to 
leave the country, Britain is throwing away 
some of the finest recruiting material in the 

9 Tour, ii. 306. 

1 See Walker s Hebrides, vol. i. pp. 24 28 

1 Walker, vol. i. p. 31. 

world, for and it is quite true the Highland 
soldier has not his match for bravery, moral 
character, and patriotism. 

These statements are no doubt true; it 
certainly is a pity that an inoffensive, brave, 
and moral people should be compelled to leave 
their native land, and devote to the cultivation 
of a foreign soil those energies which might be 
used to the benefit of their own country. It 
would also be very bad policy in government 
to lose the chance of filling up the ranks of 
the army with some of the best men obtainable 
anywhere. But then, if there was nothing for 
the people to do in the country, if their con 
dition was one of chronic famine, as was 
undoubtedly the case with the Highlanders, if 
the whole productions of the country were 
insufficient even to keep them in bare life, if 
every few years the country had to contribute 
thousands of pounds to keep these people 
alive, if, in short, the majority of them were 
little else than miserable beggars, an encum 
brance on the progress of their country, a 
continual source of sadness to all feeling men, 
gradually becoming more and more demoralised 
by the increasingly wretched condition in which 
they lived, and by the ever-recurring necessity 
of bestowing upon them charity to keep them 
alive, if such were the case, the advocates for 
a thinning of the population urge, whom would 
it profit to keep such a rabble of half-starved 
creatures huddled together in a corner of the 
country, reaping for themselves nothing but 
misery and degradation, and worse than useless 
to everybody else. Moreover, as to the mili 
tary argument, it is an almost universal state 
ment made by the writers of the Old Statistical 
Account (about 1790), that, at that time, in 
almost all the Highland parishes it was scarcely 
possible to get a single recruit, so great was the 
aversion of the people both to a naval and 
military life. Besides, though the whole of 
the surplus population had been willing to 
volunteer into the army, of what value would 
it have been if the country had no use for 
them; and surely it would be very question 
able policy to keep thousands of men in 
idleness on the bare chance that they might 
be required as soldiers. 

The sentimental and military arguments are 
no doubt very touching and very convincing to 



men in whom impulse and imagination pre 
dominate over reason and clearness of vision, 
and are fitting subjects for a certain kind of 
poetry, which has made much of them ; but 
they cannot for one moment stand the test of 
facts, and become selfishly cruel, impracticable, 
and disastrous, when contrasted with the 
teachings of genuine humanity and the best 
interests of the Highlanders. On this subject, 
the writer of the Old Statistical Account of the 
parish of Lochgoilhead makes some remarks 
so sensible, and so much to the point, that we 
are tempted to quote them here. " It is 
frequent," he says, "with people who wish 
well to their country, to inveigh against the 
practice of turning several small farms into one 
extensive grazing, and dispossessing the former 
tenants. If the strength of a country depends 
upon the number of its inhabitants, it appears 
a pernicious measure to drive away the people 
by depriving them of their possessions. This 
complaint is very just with regard to some 
places in Scotland ; for it must be greatly 
against the interest of the nation to turn rich 
arable land, which is capable at the same time 
of supporting a number of people, and of pro 
ducing much grain, into pasture ground. But 
the complaint does not seem to apply to this 
country. The strength of a nation cannot 
surely consist in the number of idle people 
which it maintains ; that the inhabitants of 
this part of the country were formerly sunk in 
indolence, and contributed very little to the 
wealth, or to the support of the state, cannot 
be denied. The produce of this parish, since 
sheep have become the principal commodity, is 
at least double the intrinsic value of what it 
was formerly, so that half the number of hands 
produce more than double the quantity of pro 
visions, for the support of our large towns, and 
the supply of our tradesmen and manufac 
turers ; and the system by which land returns 
the most valuable produce, and in the greatest 
abundance, seems to be the most beneficial for 
the country at large. Still, however, if the 
people who are dispossessed of this land 
emigrated into other nations, the present system 
might be justly condemned, as diminishing the 
strength of the country. But this is far from 
being the case ; of the great number of people 
who have been deprived of their farms in this 

parish, for thirty years past, few or none have 
settled out of the kingdom ; they generally 
went to sea, or to the populous towns upon the 
Clyde. In these places, they have an easy 
opportunity, which they generally embrace, of 
training up their children to useful and profit 
able employments, and of rendering them 
valuable members of society. So that the 
former inhabitants of this country have been 
taken from a situation in which they contri 
buted nothing to the wealth, and very little to 
the support of the state, to a situation in which 
their labour is of the greatest public utility. 
Nor has the present system contributed to 
make the condition of the inhabitants of the 
country worse than it was before ; on the con 
trary, the change is greatly in their favour. 
The .partiality in favour of former times, and 
the attachment to the place of their nativity, 
which is natural to old people, together with 
the indolence in which they indulged them 
selves in this country, mislead them in drawing a 
comparison between their past and their present 
situations. But indolence was almost the only 
comfort which they enjoyed. There was 
scarcely any variety of wretchedness with 
wliich they were not obliged to struggle, or 
rather to which they were not obliged to sub 
mit. They often felt what it was to want 
food ; the scanty crops which they raised were 
consumed by their cattle in winter and spring ; 
for a great part of the year they lived wholly 
on milk, and even that in the end of spring 
and beginning of winter was very scarce. To 
such extremity were they frequently reduced, 
that they were obliged to bleed their cattle in 
order to subsist for some time upon the blood; 
and even the inhabitants of the glens and 
valleys repaired in crowds to the shore, at the 
distance of three or four miles, to pick up the 
scanty provision which the shell-fish afforded 
them. They were miserably ill clothed, and 
the huts in which they lived were dirty and 
mean beyond expression. How different from 
their present situation 1 They now enjoy the 
necessaries, and many of the comforts of life 
in abiindance : even those who are supported 
by the charity of the parish feel no real want. 
Much of the wretchedness which formerly pre 
vailed in this and in other parishes in the 
Highlands, was owing to the indolence of the 



people, and to their want of management ; bu 
a country which is neither adapted for agricul 
ture nor for rearing black cattle, can neve 
maintain any great number of people com 

No doubt the very men who deplore wha 
they call the depopulation of the Highlands 
would advocate the advisability of emigration 
in the case of the unemployed surplus popula 
tion of any other part of the country. If their 
arguments against the emigration of the High 
landers to another country, and in favour of 
their being retained in their own district were 
logically carried out, to what absurd and 
disastrous consequences would, they lead? 
Supposing that all the people who have 
emigrated from this country to America, Aus 
tralia, and elsewhere, had been kept at home, 
where would this country have been 1 There 
would scarcely have been standing room for the 
population, the great majority of whom must 
have been in a state of indescribable misery. 
The country would have been ruined. The 
same arguments might also be used against the 
emigration of the natives of other countries, 
many of whom are no doubt as attached to 
their native soil as the Highlanders; and if 
the principle had been rigidly carried out, 
what direful consequences to the world at 
large would have been the result. In fact, 
there would have been little else but universal 
barbarism. It seems to be admitted by all 
thoughtful men that the best outlet for a 
redundant or idle population is emigration ; it 
is beneficial to the mother country, beneficial 
to the emigrants, and beneficial to the new 
country in which they take up their abode. 
Only thus can the earth be subdued, and made 
the most of. 

Why then should there be any lamentation 
over the Highlanders leaving their country 
more than over any other class of respectable 
willing men? Anything more hopelessly 
wretched than their positio.n at various times 
from 1745 down to the present day it would 
be impossible to imagine. If one," however, 
trusted the descriptions of some poets and 
sentimentalists, a happier or more comfortably 
situated people than the Highlanders at one 
time were could not be found on the face of 
the globe. They were always clean, and tidy, 

and well dressed, lived in model cottages, 
surrounded by model gardens, had always 
abundance of plain wholesome food and drink, 
were exuberant in their hospitality, doated on 
their chiefs, carefully cultivated their lands 
and tended their flocks, but had plenty of 
time to dance and sing, and narrate round the 
cheerful winter hearth the legends cf their 
people, and above all, feared God and honoured 
the king. Now, these statements have no 
foundation in fact, at least within the historical 
period ; but generally the writers on this side 
of the question refer generally to the period 
previous to 1745, and often, in some cases, to 
a time subsequent to that. Every writer who 
pretends to record facts, the result of observa 
tion, and not to draw imaginary Arcadian 
pictures, concurs in describing the country as 
being sunk in the lowest state of wretchedness. 
The description we have already given of tho 
condition of the people before 1745, applies 
Avith intensified force to the greater part of the 
Highlands for long after that year. Instead 
of improving, and often there were favourable 
opportunities for improvement, the people 
seemed to be retrograding, getting more and 
more demoralised, more and more miserable, 
more and more numerous, and more and more 
famine-struck. In proof of what we say, we 
refer to all the writers on and travellers in tho 
Highlands of last century, to Pennant, Boswell, 
Johnson, Newte, Buchanan, 3 and especially the 
Old Statistical Account. To let the reader 
judge for himself as to the value of the state 
ments we make as to the condition of the 
Highlands during the latter part of last 
century, we quote beloAV a longish extract 
from a pamphlet written by one who had 
visited and enquired into the state of the 
Highlands about the year 1780. 4 It is written 

3 Western Isles. 

4 " Upon the whole, the situation of these people, in- 
labitants of Britain ! is such as no language can 
lescribe, nor fancy conceive. If, with great labour 

and fatigue, the farmer raises a slender crop of oats 
ind barley, the autumnal rains often baflle his utmost 
il orts, and frustrate all his expectations ; and instead 
)f being able to pay an exorbitant rent, he sees his 
amily in danger of perishing during the ensuing 
vinter, when he is precluded Irom any possibility of 
ssistance elsewhere. 

"Nor are his cattle in a better situation; in summer 
hey pick up a scanty support amongst the morasses 
>r heathy mountains ; but in winter, when the grounds 
re covered with snow, and when the naked wilds 



by one who deplores the extensive emigration 
which was going on, but yet who, we are in- 

afford neither shelter nor subsistence, the few cows, 
small, lean, and ready to drop down through want of 
pasture, are brought into the hut where the family 
resides, and frequently share with them the small 
stock of meal which had been purchased, or raised, for 
the family only ; while the cattle thus sustained, are 
bled occasionally, to afford nourishment for the chil 
dren after it hath been boiled or made into cakes. 

" The sheep being left upon the open heaths, seek to 
shelter themselves from the inclemency of the weather 
amongst the hollows upon the lee-side of the moun 
tains, and here they are frequently buried under the 
snow for several weeks together, and in severe seasons 
during two months or upwards. They eat their own 
and each other s wool, and hold out wonderfully under 
cold and hunger ; but even in moderate winters, a 
considerable number are generally found dead after 
the snow hath disappeared, and in rigorous seasons 
few or none ai e left alive. 

"Meanwhile the steward, hard pressed by letters from 
Almack s or Newmarket, demands the rent in a tone 
which makes no great allowance for unpropitious 
seasons, the death of cattle, and other accidental mis 
fortunes ; disguising the feelings of his own breast 
his Honour s wants must at any rate be supplied, the 
bills must be duly negotiated. 

"Such is the state of farming, if it may be so called, 
throughout the interior parts of the Highlands ; but 
as that country hath an extensive coast, and many 
islands, it may be supposed that the inhabitants of 
those shores enjoy all the benefits of their maritime 
situation. This, however, is not the case ; those gifts 
of nature, which in any other commercial kingdom 
would have been rendered subservient to the most 
valuable purposes, are in Scotland lost, or nearly 
to the poor natives and the public. The only 


difference, therefore, between the inhabitants of the 
interior parts and those of the more distant coasts, 
consists in this, that the latter, with the labours of 
the field, have to encounter alternately the dangers of 
the ocean and all the fatigues of navigation. 

"To the distressing circumstances at home, as stated 
above, new difficulties and toils await the devoted 
farmer when abroad. He leaves his family in Octo 
ber, accompanied by his sons, brothers, and frequently 
an aged parent, and embarks on board a small open 
boat, in quest of the herring fishery, with no other 
provision than oatmeal, potatoes, and fresh water ; no 
other bedding than heath, twigs, or straw, the cover 
ing, if any, an old sail. Thus provided, he searches 
from bay to bay, through turbulent seas, frequently 
for several weeks together, before the shoals of herrings 
are discovered. The glad tidings serve to vary, but 
not to diminish his fatigues. Unremitting nightly 
labour (the time when the herrings are taken), pinch 
ing cold winds, heavy seas, uninhabited shores covered 
with snow, or deluged with rains, contribute towards 
filling up the measure of his distresses ; while to men 
of such exquisite feelings as the Highlanders generally 
possess, the scene which awaits him at home does it 
most effectually. 

"Having disposed of his capture to the Busses, he 
returns in January through a long navigation, fre 
quently admidst unceasing hurricanes, not to a com 
fortable home and a cheerful family, but to a hut 
composed of turf, without windows, doors, or chim 
ney, environed with snow, and almost hid from the 
eye by its astonishing depth. Upon entering this 
solitary mansion, he generally finds a part of his 
family, sometimes the whole, lying upon heath or 
straw, languishing through want or epidemical disease ; 
while the few surviving cows, which possess the other 

clined to believe, has slightly exaggerated the 
misery of the Highlanders in order to make 
the sin of absentee chiefs, who engross farms, 
and raise enormously the rents, as great as 
possible. Still, when compared with the state 
ments made by other contemporary authorities, 
the exaggeration seems by no means great, and 
making allowances, the picture presented is a 
mocking, weird contrast to the fancies of the 
sentimentalist. That such a woful state of 
things required radical and uncompromising 
measures of relief, no one can possibly deny. 
Yet this same writer laments most pitiably that 
20,000 of these wretched people had to leave 
their wretched homes and famine-struck con 
dition, and the oppression of their lairds, for 
lands and houses of their own in a fairer and 
more fertile land, where independence and 
affluence were at the command of all who 
cared to bend their backs to labour. "What 
good purpose, divine or human, could be served 
by keeping an increasing population in a land 
that cannot produce enough to keep the life in 
one-half of its people? Nothing but misery, 
and degradation, and oppression here ; happi 
ness, advancement, riches, and freedom on the 
other side of the water. Is there more than 
one conclusion 1 

In spite of all the emigration that has taken 
place from this country, no one has, we daresay, 
any real dread of depopulation ; the population 
is increasing over all the land every year, not 
excepting the Highlands. As for soldiers, no 

end of the cottage, instead of furnishing further 
supplies of milk or blood, demand his immediate 
attention to keep them in existence. 

"The season now approaches when he is again to 
delve and labour the ground, on the same slender 
prospect of a plentiful crop or a dry harvest. The 
cattle which have survived the famine of the winter, 
are turned out to the mountains; and, having put his 
domestic affairs into the best situation which a train 
of accumulated misfortunes admits of, he resumes the 
oar, either in quest of the herring or the white fishery. 
If successful in the latter, he sets out in his open boat 
upon a voyage (taking the Hebrides and the opposite 
coast at a medium distance) of 200 miles, to vend his 
cargo of dried cod, ling, &c., at Greenock or Glasgow. 
The produce, which seldom exceeds twelve or fifteen 
pounds, is laid out, in conjunction with his com 
panions, upon meal and fishing tackle ; and he returns 
through the same tedious navigation. 

" The autumn calls his attention again to the field ; 
the usual round of disappointment, fatigue, and dis 
tress awaits him ; thus dragging through a wretched 
existence in the hope of soon arriving in that country 
where the weary shall be at rest." A View of the 
Highlands, &c., pp. 3-7. 



doubt plenty will be forthcoming when wanted; 
if not so, it is not for want of men well enough 
fitted for the occupation. As every one 
knows, there is seldom a want of willing 
workers in this country, but far more fre 
quently a great want of work to do. 

That by far the larger part of the surface 
of the Highland districts is suited only for 
the pasturage of sheep, is the testimony of 
every one who knows anything about the 
subject. Those who speak otherwise must 
either ignore facts or speak of what they 
do not know, urged merely by impulse and 
sentimentalism. True, there are many spots 
consisting of excellent soil suited for arable 
purposes, but generally where such do occur 
the climate is so unfavourable to successful 
agriculture that no expenditure will ever pro 
duce an adequate return. 5 Other patches 
again, not, however, of frequent occurrence, 
have everything in their favour, and are as 
capable of producing luxuriant crops as the 
most fertile district of the lowlands. But 
nearly all these arable spots, say those who 
advocate the laying of the whole country under 
sheep, it is absolutely necessary to retain as 
winter pasturage, if sheep-farming is to be 
carried on successfully. The mountainous dis 
tricts, comprising nearly the whole of the 
Highlands, are admirably suited for sheep 
pasturage when the weather is mild; but in 
winter are so bleak and cold, and exposed to 
destructive storms, that unless the sheep 
during winter can be brought down to the low 
and sheltered grounds, the loss of a great part 
of the flocks would inevitably be the con 
sequence. Hence, it is maintained, unless 
nearly the whole of the country is allowed to 
lie waste, or unless a sheep farmer makes up 
his mind to carry on an unprofitable business, 
the arable spots in the valleys and elsewhere 
must, as a rule, be retained as pasture. And 
this seems to be the case in most districts. It 
must not be imagined, however, that the 
surface of the Highlands is one universal 
expanse of green and brown fragrant heather; 
every tourist knows that in almost every glen, 
by the side of many lochs, streams, and bogs 
patches of cultivated land are to be met with, 

5 See Old and New Statistical Accounts, passim. 

bearing good crops of oats, barley, potatoes, 
and turnips. These productions chiefly belong 
to the large sheep farmers, and are intended 
for the use of themselves, their servants, and 
cattle, and but seldom have they any to dis 
pose of. Others of these arable spots belong to 
small farmers, the race of whom is happily not 
yet extinct. Eut, on the whole, it would 
seem that so far as agricultural products are 
concerned, the Highlands seldom, if ever, pro 
duce sufficient to supply the wants of the 
inhabitants, importation being thus necessary. 
A curious and interesting point connected 
with the introduction of sheep into the High 
lands may be mentioned here : By means of 
this innovation, the whole aspect of the 
country seems to have been changed. Pre 
vious to that, the whole country seems to have 
borne a universal aspect of blackness, rarely 
relieved by a spot of green, arising from the 
fact that almost the only product of the moun 
tains was dark-brown heath. Captain Burt 
and others who visited the Highlands previous 
to the extensive introduction of sheep, indulge 
in none of the raptures over Highland scenery, 
that the most common-place and prosy tourist 
thinks it his duty to get into at the present 
day. They speak of the country almost with 
horror, as a black howling wilderness, full of 
bogs and big boulders, and almost unfit for 
human habitation. They could see no beauty 
in the country that it should be desired ; it 
was a place to get out of as soon as possible. 
How far these sentiments may have been 
justified by facts it is impossible now to say ; 
but it is the almost universal assertion by the 
writers in the Old Statistical Account, that the 
appearance of the Highland hills was rapidly 
changing, and that instead of the universal 
dark-brown heath which previously covered 
them, there was springing up the light-brown 
heath and short green bent or strong grass so 
well known to all modern tourists. If the 
Highland hills formerly bore anything like 
the aspect presented at the present day by 
the dreary black wet hills of Shetland, the 
remarks of Burt and others need not cause 
astonishment. But as the great outlines and 
peculiar features of the country must have 
been the same then as now, we suspect that 
these early English adventurers into the High- 



lands wanted training in scenery or were 
determined to see nothing to admire. But, 
indeed, admiration of and hunting for fine 
scenery seem to be quite a modern fashion, 
and were quite unknown to our ancestors 
in the "beginning of last century, or Avere 
confined to a few crazy poets. Men require 
to be trained to use their eyes in this as in 
many other respects. There can be no doubt 
that the first impulse to the admiration of 
the Highlands and Highlanders was given by 
the poems and novels of Sir Walter Scott ; 
it was he who set the sheepish stream of 
tourists agoing, and indirectly to him many a 
Highland hotel-keeper owes a handsome for 
tune. The fact at all events seems unquestion 
able, that the extensive introduction of sheep 
has to a large extent changed the external 
aspect of the Highlands. 

It must not be imagined that, previous to 
the changes we are speaking of, there were no 
sheep in the Highlands ; there were always a 
few of a very small native breed, but the 
staple stock of the Highland farmer was, as we 
previously mentioned, black cattle. The sheep, 
however, have also to a very large extent 
superseded them, a fact which is deplored by 
those who lament the many innovations which 
which have been introduced since 1745. But 
by all accounts much of the country is un- 
suited to the pasturage of black cattle, and as 
cattle and sheep do not thrive well together, 
the only alternative seems to be the introduc 
tion of sheep alone into those districts unsuited 
for cattle. "More than one-third of the 
country consists of mountains and declivities 
too steep and abrupt for black cattle, and the 
grass they produce too short and fine to afford 
them a tolerable pasture except in the height 
of summer. The greater part of the pasture is 
therefore lost, though it might all be benefi 
cially consumed with sheep. A flock of sheep 
will thrive where cows and oxen would starve, 
and will go at all seasons of the year to such 
heights as are inaccessible to black cattle. . . . 
In a situation of this kind the very wool of a 
flock would amount to more than the whole 
profit to be obtained by black cattle." 6 The 
only conclusion to be drawn from these state- 

8 Walker s Hebrides and Highlands. 

ments is, that the wisest thing that could be 
done was to introduce sheep into those dis 
tricts which were being wasted on black 

Along with the introduction of sheep, in 
deed, to a great extent caused by that, was the 
enlargement of farms, which with the raising 
of rents led to the depopulation of many dis 
tricts. The old system of letting farms in 
the Highlands has already been sufficiently 
explained, and the introduction of sheep 
seems to have rendered it necessary that this 
old system should be abolished, and that 
a large extent of country should be taken 
by one man. The question between large 
and small farms does not appear to us to 
be the same as between the old and new 
system of letting land. Under the old system, 
a farm of no great extent was often let to a 
large number of tenants, who frequently sub 
divided it still more, by either sub-letting part, 
or by sharing their respective portions with 
their newly-married sons and daughters. The 
testimony as to the perniciousness of this old 
system is universal ; it was, and until recently 
continued to be, the chief source of all the 
misfortunes that have afflicted the Highlands. 
As to whether, however, this old system should 
have been entirely abolished, or whether some 
modification of it might not have been retained, 
has been a matter of dispute. Some maintain 
that the Highlands can be profitably managed 
only on the large farm system, and only thus 
can sheep be made to pay, while others assert 
that, though many districts are suitable for 
large farms, still there are others that might 
with great profit be divided into small hold 
ings. By this latter method, it is said, a fair 
proportion of all clases would be maintained 
in the Highlands, noblemen, gentlemen, 
farmers large and small, cottars, labourers, 
and that only when there is such a mixture 
can a country be said to be prosperous. 
Moreover, it is held a proprietor, who in this 
country should be considered as a steward 
rather than the absolute owner of his estate, 
has no right to exclude the small farmer from 
having a chance of making a respectable living 
by the occupation for which he is suited ; that 
he stands in the WAJ of his own and his 
country s interests when he discourages the 



small farmer, for only by a mixture of the two 
systems cau the land be made the most of; 
and that, to say the least of it, it is selfish and 
wrong in proprietors not to consider the case 
of the poor as well as the rich. 

On the question as to the expediency of 
large or small farms we cannot pretend to be 
able to judge ; we know too little of its real 
merits. However, it appears to us that there 
is no reason why both systems cannot be very 
well combined in many parts of the Highlands, 
although there are many districts, we believe, 
totally unsuited for anything else but sheep- 
farms of the largest dimensions. Were the 
small farms made large enough to sufficiently 
support the farmer and his family, and remu 
nerate him for his outlay and labour, were 
precautions taken against the subdivision of 
these moderate-sized holdings, and were leases 
of sufficient duration granted to all, it seems to 
us that there is nothing in the nature of things 
why there should not be farms of a small size in 
the Highlands as well as farms covering many 
miles in extent. We certainly do think it too 
bad to cut out the small respectable class of 
farmers entirely, and put the land of the 
country in the hands of a sort of farmer aris 
tocracy ; it is unfair and prejudicial to the 
best interests of the country. But the small 
farmers must first show that they deserve to 
be considered ; certainly the small farmers 
under the old Highland system, which we 
believe is not yet quite extinct in some 
remote districts, deserved only to have the 
land they so mismanaged taken from them and 
given to others who could make a better use of 
it. Some consideration, we think, ought to be 
had towards the natives of the country, those 
whose ancestors have occupied the land for 
centuries, and if they are able to pay as good 
a rent as others, and show themselves willing 
to manage the land as well, in all humanity 
they ought to have the preference. But these 
are matters w-hich we think ought to be left to 
adjust themselves according to the inevitable 
laws which regulate all human affairs. Inter 
ference in any way between landlord and 
tenant by way of denunciation, vituperation, or 
legislation, seems to us only to make matters 
worse. It seems to us that the simplest com 
mercial maxims the laws of profit and loss, if 

they have fair play will ultimately lead to 
the best system of managing the land of the 
Highlands and of every other district, both in 
the interests of the proprietors and those of 
the tenants. If proprietors find it most pro 
fitable to let their lands in large lots, either 
for agriculture, for cattle, for sheep, or for 
deer, there is no reason why they should not 
do so, and there is no doubt that in the end 
what is most advantageous to the proprietor is 
so to the tenant, and vice versa, as also to the 
country at large. If, on the other hand, it be 
found that letting land in small lots is more 
profitable than the other practice, few pro 
prietors, we daresay, would hesitate to cut up 
their land into suitable lots. But all this, we 
think, must be left to experiment, and it can 
not be said that the Highlands as a whole 
have as yet got beyond the stage of probation ; 
changes from small to large and from large to 
small farms mostly the former and changes 
from sheep to deer and deer to sheep are still 
going on ; but, no doubt, ere long both pro 
prietors and tenants of land will find out what 
their real common interest is, and adjust them 
selves in their proper relations to each other. 
It is best to leave them alone and allow them 
to fight the battle out between themselves. 
Interference was attempted at the end of last 
century to stop emigration and to settle the 
ousted tenants on small lots by the sea-shore, 
where both fishing and farming could be 
carried on, but the interference did no good. 
Emigration was not diminished, although 
curiously it was the proprietors themselves, 
who subsequently did their best to promote 
emigration, that at this time attempted to stop 
it. The people seem generally until lately to 
have been quite willing and even anxious to 
emigrate at least those of most intelligence ; 
not that they cared not for their country, but 
that, however much they loved it, there was 
no good in staying at home when nothing but 
misery and starvation stared them in the face. 
AVe say that the landlords and others, includ 
ing the Highland Society, interfered, and 
endeavoured to get government to interfere, to 
prevent the great emigrations which were 
going on, and which they feared would ere 
long leave the country utterly peopleless. But 
the interference was of no use, and was quite 


uncalled for. Emigration still went on, and 
will go on so long as there is a necessity for 
it ; and the country will always have plenty of 
inhabitants so long as it can afford a decent 
subsistence. When men know better the laws 
of sociology the laws which govern human 
affairs interference of this kind will be simply 
laughed at. 

The scheme of the landlords who, while 
they raised the rents and extended their farms, 
were still loath to lose their numerous tenants 
and retainers of settling those on the coast 
w here they could combine farming and fishing, 
failed also, for the simple reason that, as it has 
been fairly proved, one man cannot unite 
successfully the two occupations in his own 
person. In this sense " no man can. serve two 
masters." " No two occupations can be more 
incompatible than farming and fishing, as the 
seasons which require undivided exertion in 
fishing are precisely those in which the greatest 
attention should be devoted to agriculture. 
Grazing, which is less incompatible with 
fishing than agriculture, is even found to dis 
tract the attention and prevent success in 
either occupation. This is demonstrated by 
the very different success of those who unite 
both occupations from those who devote them 
selves exclusively to fishing. Indeed, the 
industrious fisher finds the whole season barely 
sufficient for the labours of his proper occupa 
tion." 7 It seems clear, then, that the High 
land proprietors should be left alone and 
allowed to dispose of their land as they think 
fit, just as the owner of any other commercial 
commodity takes it to whatever market he 
chooses, and no harm accrues from it. If the 
Highland peasantry and farmers see it to be to 
their advantage to leave their native land and 
settle in a far-off soil where they will have 
some good return for hard work, we do not 
see that there is any call for interference or 
lamentation. Give all help and counsel to 
those who require and deserve them by all 
means either to stay at home or go abroad ; but 
to those who are able to think and free to act 
for themselves nothing is necessary but to be 
left alone. 

As we have already said, another cause 

7 Essay on The Fisheries of Scotland, in Highland 
Society Prize Essays, vol. ii. 

of emigration besides sheep-farming, though 
to some extent associated with it, was the 
raising of rents. Naturally enough, when 
the number of tenants upon a laird s estate 
ceased to make him of importance and give 
him power, he sought by raising his rents to 
give himself the importance derived from a 
large income. There can be no doubt that, 
previous to this, farms were let far below their 
real value, and often at a merely nominal rent; 
and thus one of the greatest incitements to 
industry was wanting in the case of the High 
land tenants, for when a man knows that his 
landlord will not trouble him about his rent, 
but would rather let him go scot-free than lose 
him, it is too much to expect of human nature 
in general that it will bestir itself to do what 
it feels there is no absolute necessity for. 
Thus habits of idleness were engendered in the 
Highlanders, and the land, for want of indus 
trious cultivation, was allowed to run compara 
tively waste. That the thinning of the popu 
lation gave those who remained a better chance 
of improving their condition, is testified to 
by many writers in the Old Statistical Account, 
and by other contemporary authorities, in 
cluding even Dr Walker, who was no friend 
to emigration. He says, 8 " these measures 
in the management of property, and this emi 
gration, were by no means unfriendly to the 
population of the county. The sub-tenants, 
who form the bulk of the people, were not 
only retained but raised in their situation, and 
rendered more useful and independent." It is 
amusing now to read Dr Walker s remarks on 
the consequences of emigration from the High 
lands ; had his fears been substantiated, and 
had they been well grounded, they ought to 
have been by this time, for sheep-farming, 
rent-raising, depopulation, and emigration have 
been going on rapidly ever since his time the 
Highlands must now have been " a waste 
howling wilderness." " If the [Highlanders]," 
he says, 9 " are expelled, the Highlands never 
can be reclaimed or improved by any other set 
of men, but must remain a mere grazing-field 
for England and the South of Scotland. By 
this alteration, indeed, the present rents may, 
no doubt, be augmented, but they must become 

8 Hebrides and Highlands, vol. ii. p. 406. 

9 Idem, p. 409. 



immediately stationary, without any prospect 
of further advancement, and will in time from 
obvious causes be liable to great diminution 
All improvement of the country must cease 
when the people to improve it are gone. Tho 
soil must remain unsubdued for ever, and the 
progress of the Highlands must be finally 
stopt, while all the cultivated wastes of the 
kingdom are advancing in population and 
wealth." How these predictions have been 
belied by facts, all who know anything of the 
progress of the Highlands during the present 
century must perceive. All these changes and 
even grievances have taken place, and yet the 
Highlands are far enough from anything 
approximating to depopulation or unproduc 
tiveness, and rents, we believe, have not yet 
ceased to rise. 

Notwithstanding the large emigration which 
has been going on, the population of the 
Highlands at the census of 1861 was at least 
70,000 greater than it was in the time of Dr 
Walker. 1 The emigration, especially from the 
west, does not seem to have been large enough, 
for periodically, up even to the present day, 
a rueful call for help to save from famine 
comes from that quarter." This very year 
(1863) the cry of destitution in Skye has been 
loud as ever, and yet from no part of the 
Highlands has there been a more extensive 
emigration. Prom the very earliest period in 
the history of emigration down to this date, 
Skye has been largely drawn upon, and yet the 
body of the people in Skye were never more 
wretched than at this moment." 2 Dr Walker 
himself states that, in spite of an emigration of 
about 6000 between the years 1771 and 1794 
from the Hebrides and Western Highlands, the 
population had increased by about 40,000 
during the forty years subsequent to 1750. 3 
Yet though he knew of the wretched condition 
the country from an over-crowded popula 
tion, practical man as he was, he gives way to 
the vague and unjustifiable fears expressed 
It is no doubt sad to see the people of 
a country, and these possessing many hi-h 
qualities, compelled to leave it in order to get 
room to breathe; but to tirade against emigre 

/IS? SdenCe Transa ctions for 1863, p. 608. 
1 Hebrides, &c., vol. ii. p. 401 

tion as Dr Walker and others do in the fac( 
of such woful facts as are known concerning 
the condition of the Highlands is mere selfish 
and wicked sentimentalism. 

Another fact, stated by the same author, and 
which might have taught him better doctrines 
in connection with some of the border parishes, 
is worth introducing here. The population of 
seventeen parishes in Dumbartonshire, Perth 
shire, and Argyllshire, bordering on the low 
country, decreased in population between 1755 
and 1795, from 30,525 to 26,748, i.e., by 3,787; 
these parishes having been during that time to 
a great extent laid out in cattle and sheep. 
Now, according to the Old Statistical Account 
(about 1795), these very parishes were on the 
whole among the most prosperous in the 
Highlands, those in which improvements were 
taking place most rapidly, and in which the 
condition of the people was growing more and 
more comfortable. It appears to us clear that 
the population of the Highlands did require a 
very considerable thinning ; that depopulation 
to a certain extent was, and in some places 
still is, a necessary condition to improvement. 
The main question is, we think, how to get 
these districts which are in a state of wretch 
edness and retrogression from over-population 
rid of the surplus. Unless some sudden 
meek be put upon the rate of increase of 
ihe general population, there never will be 
a lack of hands to bring in the waste places 
vhen wanted, and to supply all other de- 
nands for men. No doubt, it is a pity, if it 
be the case, that any extensive districts which 
could be brought to a high style of culti 
vation, and would then be better employed 
than in pasture should be allowed to lie waste, 
when there is every necessity for the land 
being made to yield as much as possible. And 
if the Highlanders are willing, it certainly does 
seem to be better to keep them at home and 
employ them for such purposes rather than let 
them go abroad and give their services to 
strangers. We should fancy the larger a 

population there is in a country where there is 
room enough for them, and which can give 
them enough to eat and drink, the better for 
that country. All we maintain is, that it 
being proved that the population in many 
parts of the Highlands having been redundant. 



so much so as to lead to misery and degrada 
tion, it was far better that the surplus shoulc 
emigrate than that they should be kept at 
home to increase the misery and be an ob 
struction to the progress of the country. Keep 
them at home if possible ; if not, permit them 
\vithout any weak sentimental lamentation to 
go abroad. It has been said that if the High 
lander is compelled to leave his native glen 
he would as soon remove to a distance of 4000 
as to a distance of 40 miles ; and that indeec 
many of them, since they must move, prefer 
to leave the country altogether rather than 
settle in any part of it out of sight of their 
native hills. There is no doubt much truth 
in this, so that the outcry about keeping the 
Highlanders at home is to a great extent 
uncalled for ; they don t wish to stay at home. 
Still many of them have been willing to settle 
in the lowlands or in other parts of the High 
lands. We have already referred to the great 
services rendered by the ousted tenants on the 
borders of the Perthshire and Dumbartonshire 
Highlands who settled in the neighbourhood 
of Stirling and reclaimed many thousand acres 
of Kincardine moss, now a fertile strath. 
Similar services have been rendered to other 
barren parts of the country by many High 
landers, who formerly spent their time in 
lolling idleness, but who, when thus given the 
opportunity, showed themselves to be as 
capable of active and profitable exertion as 
any lowland peasant or farmer. Many High 
landers also, when deprived of their farms, 
removed to some of our large towns, and by 
their exertions raised themselves and their 
families to an honourable and comfortable 
position, such as they could never have hoped 
to reach had they never left their native hills. 
By all means keep the Highlanders at home if 
they are willing to stay and there is work for 
them to do ; but what purpose can be served 
in urging them to stay at home if the conse 
quence be to increase the already enormous 
sort of pauperism ? 

That the landlords, the representatives of 
the old chiefs, were not accountable for much 
of the evil that flowed from the changes of 
which we have been speaking, no one who 
knows the history of the Highlands during the 
last century will venture to assert. Had they 


all uniformly acted towards their old tenants 
with humanity, judiciousness, and unselfish 
ness, much misery, misunderstanding, and 
bitter ill-will might have been avoided. It 
is, we venture to believe, quite against the 
spirit of the British constitution as it now 
exists, and quite out of accordance with en 
lightened reason and justice, not to say huma 
nity, that these or any other landed proprietors 
should be allowed to dispose of their land as 
they choose without any consideration for the 
people Avhose fathers have been on it for cen 
turies, or without regard to the interests of the 
country to which the land belongs. Many of 
the Highland proprietors, in their haste to get 
rich, or at least to get money to spend in the 
fashionable world, either mercilessly, and with 
out warning, cleared their estates of the tenants, 
or most unseasonably oppressed them in the 
matter of rent. The great fault of many of the 
landlords for they were not all alike was 
in bringing about too suddenly changes, in 
themselves, perhaps, desirable enough. Rents 
seem to have been too suddenly raised to such 
a rate as tended to inspire the tenant with de 
spair of being able to meet it. Some also, in 
their desire to introduce the large farm system, 
swept the tenants off the ground without warn 
ing, and left them to provide for themselves; 
while others made a show of providing for 
them by settling them in hamlets by the sea 
side, where, in general, they were worse off 
than ever. It was in their utter want of con 
sideration for these old tenants that many of 
the Highland landlords were to blame. Had 
they raised the rents gradually, extended the 
size of their farms slowly, giving the old 
tenants a chance under the new system, and 
doing their best to put these necessarily ejected 
in a way of making a living for themselves, 
iried to educate their people up to the age in 
}he matter of agriculture, social habits, and 
other matters; lived among them, and shown 
hem a good example ; in short, as proprietors, 
rigidly done their duty to their tenants, as 
lescendants of the old chiefs treated with 
some tender consideration the sons of those 
who worshipped and bled for the fathers of 
their clan, and as men, shown some charity and 
dndness to their poorer brethren, the iinprove- 
iient of the Highlands might have been brought 




about at a much less expense of misery auc 
rancour. That these old Highlanders wer 
open to improvement, enlightenment, and edu 
cation, when judiciously managed, is provec 
by what took place in some of the border anc 
other districts, where many improvements were 
effected without great personal inconvenience 
!; D any one, and without any great or sudden 
diminution of the population. Especially in 
the Western and Northern Highlands and the 
Islands, the landlords went to extremes in 
both directions. Some of them acted as we 
have just indicated, while others again, moved 
by a laudable consideration for, and tenderness 
towards the old tenants, retained the old system 
of small holdings, which they allowed to be now 
and then still more subdivided, endeavouring, 
often unsuccessfully, to obtain a rise of rent. 
In most cases the latter course was as fatal and 
as productive of misery and ruin as the former. 
Indeed, in some cases it was more so ; for not 
only was the lot of the tenant not improved, 
but the laird had ultimately to sell his estate 
for behoof of his creditors, and himself emi 
grate to the lowlands or to a foreign country. 
This arose from the fact that, as the number 
of tenants increased, the farms were diminished 
in size more and more, until they could neither 
support the tenant nor yield the landlord a 
rent adequate to his support. In this way 
have many of the old hospitable chiefs with 
small estates dropped out of sight ; and their 
places filled by some rich lowland merchants, 
who would show little tenderness to the 
helpless tenantry. 

But it is an easy matter now to look calmly 
back on these commotions and changes among 
the Highlanders, and allot praise or blame to 
chiefs and people for the parts they played, 
forgetting all the time how difficult these parts 
were. Something decisive had to be done to 
prevent the Highlands from sinking into in 
conceivable misery and barbarism; and had the 
lairds sat still and done nothing but allowed 
their estates to be managed on the old footing, 
ruin to themselves and their tenants would 
have been the consequence, as indeed was the 
case with most of those who did so. It was 
very natural, then, that they should deem it 
better to save themselves at the expense of 
their tenants, than that both land and tenants 

should be involved in a common ruin. They 
were not the persons to find out the best mode 
of managing their estates, so that they them 
selves might be saved, and the welfare of their 
tenants only considered. In some cases, no 
doubt, the lairds were animated by utter in 
difference as to the fate of their tenants; but 
we are inclined to think these were few, and 
that most of them would willingly have done 
much for the welfare of their people, and many 
of them did what they could ; but their first 
and most natural instinct was that of self- 
preservation, and in order to save themselves, 
they were frequently compelled to resort to 
measures which brought considerable suffering 
upon their poor tenants. We have no doubt 
most did their best, according to their know 
ledge and light, to act well their parts, and 
deal fairly with their people; but the parts 
were so difficult, and the actors were so un 
accustomed to their new situation, that they 
are not to be too severely blamed if they 
sometimes blundered. No matter how gently 
changes might have been brought about, suf 
fering and bitterness would necessarily to a 
;ertain extent have followed; and however 
much we may deplore the great amount of un 
necessary suffering that actually occurred, still 
we think the lasting benefits which have ac- 
:rued to the Highlands from the changes which 
were made, far more than counterbalance this 
temporary evil. 

What we have been saying, while it applies 
to many recent changes in the Highlands, re 
fers chiefly to the period between 1750 and 
1 800, during which the Highlands were in a 
state of universal fermentation, and chiefs and 
people were only beginning to realise their 
position and perceive what were their true in- 
.erests. We shall very briefly notice one or 
jwo other matters of interest connected with 
hat period. 

The only manufacture of any consequence 
hat has ever been introduced into the High- 
ands is that of kelp, which is the ashes of 
arious kinds of sea-weed containing some of 
he salts, potash, and chiefly soda, used in 
ome of the manufactures, as soap, alum, glass, 
fee. It is used as a substitute for barilla, im- 
)orted from Spain, America, and other places 
during the latter part of last century, on 



account of the American and continental wars, 
as well as of the high duties imposed on the 
importation of salt and similar commodities. 
The weeds are cut from the rocks with a hook 
or collected on the shore, and dried to a cer 
tain degree on the beach. They are afterwards 
burnt in a kiln, in which they are constantly 
stirred with an iron rake until they reach a 
fluid state ; and when they cool, the ashes be 
come condensed into a dark blue or whitish- 
coloured mass, nearly of the hardness and 
solidity of rock. The manufacture is carried 
on during June, July, and August ; and even 
at the present day, in some parts of the Islands 
and Highlands, affords occupation to consider 
able numbers of both sexes. 4 This manufac 
ture seems to have been introduced into some of 
the lowland parts of the Scottish coast early in 
the eighteenth century, but was not thoroughly 
established in the Highlands till about the 
year 1750. At first it Avas of little import 
ance, but gradually the manufacture spread 
until it became universal over all the western 
islands and coasts, and the value of the article, 
from the causes above-mentioned, rose rapidly 
from about 1 per ton, when first introduced, 
to from ,12 to 20 per ton 5 about the begin 
ning of the present century. While the great 
value of the article lasted, rents rose enor 
mously, and the income of proprietors of kelp- 
shore rose in proportion. As an example, it 
may be stated that the rent of the estate of 
Clanranald in South Uist previous to 1790 was 
2200, which, as kelp increased in value, 
rapidly rose to 15,000. 6 While the kelp 
season lasted, the whole time of the people was 
occupied in its manufacture, and the wages 
they received, while it added somewhat to 
their scanty income, and increased their com 
fort, were small in proportion to the time and 
labour they gave, and to the prices received by 
those to whom the kelp belonged. Moreover, 
while the kelp-fever lasted, the cultivation of 
the ground and other agricultural matters seem 
to have been to a great extent neglected, ex 
travagant habits were contracted by the pro 
prietors, whose incomes were thus so consider 
ably increased, and the permanent improve- 

4 Beauties of Scotland, vol. v. p. 95. 
6 New Statistical Account of Baray. 
* New Stat. Account of South Uist 

ment of their estates were neglected in their 
eagerness to make the most of an article whose 
value, they did not perceive, was entirely 
factitious, and could not be lasting. Instead 
of either laying past their surplus income or 
expending it on the permanent improvement of 
their estates, they very foolishly lived up to it, 
or borrowed heavily in the belief that kelp 
would never decrease in value. The conse 
quence was that when the duties were taken 
off the articles for which kelp was used as a 
substitute in the earlier part of the 19th 
century, the price of that article gradually 
diminished till it could fetch, about 1830-40, 
only from 2 to 4 a ton. With this the 
incomes of the proprietors of kelp-shores also 
rapidly decreased, landing not a few of them 
in ruin and bankruptcy, and leading in some 
instances to the sale of the estates. The 
income above mentioned, after the value of 
kelp decreased, fell rapidly from 15,000 to 
5000. The manufacture of this article is still 
carried on in the West Highlands and Islands, 
and to a greater extent in Orkney, but although 
it occupies a considerable number of hands, it 
is now of comparatively little importance, much 
more of the sea-weed being employed as manure. 
While it was at its best, however, the manu 
facture of this article undoubtedly increased to 
a very large extent the revenue of the West 
Highlands, and gave employment to and kept 
at home a considerable number of people who 
otherwise might have emigrated. Indeed, it 
was partly on account of the need of many 
hands for kelp-making that proprietors did all 
they could to prevent the emigration of those 
removed from the smaller farms, and tried to 
induce them to settle on the coast. On the 
whole, it would seem that this sudden source 
of large income ultimately did more harm than 
good to the people and to the land. While 
this manufacture nourished, the land was to a 
certain extent neglected, and the people some 
what unfitted for agricultural labour ; instead 
of looking upon this as a temporary source of 
income, and living accordingly, both they and 
the proprietors lived as if it should never fail, 
so that when the value of kelp rapidly de 
creased, ruin and absolute poverty stared both 
proprietors and people in the face. Moreover, 
by preventing the small tenants from leaving 


the country, and accumulating them on the 
coasts, the country became enormously over 
peopled, so that when the importance of this 
source of employment waned, multitudes were 
left with little or no means of livelihood, and 
the temporary benefits which accrued to the 
Highlanders from the adventitious value of 
kelp, indirectly entailed upon them ultimately 
hardships and misfortunes greater than ever 
they experienced before, and retarded consider 
ably their progress towards permanent im 

By all accounts the potato, introduced from 
Chili into Spain about the middle of the 
sixteenth century, was first introduced into 
Ireland by or through the instrumentality of 
Sir Walter Ealeigh about the end of that cen 
tury. From Ireland it seems shortly after to 
have been introduced into England, although 
its cultivation did not become anything like 
common till more than a century afterwards, 
and its use seems to have been restricted to the 
upper classes. 7 Its value as a staple article 
of food for the poorer classes remained for long 
unappreciated. According to the Old Statisti 
cal Account of Scotland, potatoes were first 
cultivated in the fields there in the county of 
Stirling, in the year 1739, although for long 
after that, in many parts of the country, they 
were planted only as a garden vegetable. 
According to Dr Walker, potatoes were first 
introduced into the Hebrides from Ireland in 
the year 1743, the island of South Uist being 
the first to welcome the strange root, although 
the welcome from the inhabitants seems to 
have been anything but hearty. The story of 
its introduction, as told by Dr Walker, 8 is 
amusing, though somewhat ominous when read 
in the light of subsequent melancholy facts. 
< In the spring of that year, old Clanronald 
was in Ireland, upon a visit to his relation, 
Macdonnel of Antrim ; he saw with surprise 
and approbation the practice of the country, 
and having a vessel of his own along with him, 
brought home a large cargo of potatoes. On 
his arrival, the tenants in the island were con 
vened, and directed how to plant them, but 
they all refused. On this they were all com 
mitted to prison. After a little confinement, 

7 Rural Cyclopaedia, article POTATO. 

? Hebrides and Highlands, vol. i. p. 251. 

they agreed, at last, to plant these unknown 
roots, of which they had a very unfavourable 
opinion. When they were raised in autumn, 
they were laid down at the chieftain s gate, by 
some of the tenants, who said, the Laird in 
deed might order them to plant these foolish 
roots, but they would not be forced to eat 
them. In a very little time, however, the in 
habitants of South Uist came to know better, 
when every man of them would have gone to 
prison rather than not plant potatoes." 

By the year 1760 potatoes appear to have 
become a common crop all over the country ; 
and by 1770 they seem to have attained to 
that importance as a staple article of food for 
the common people which they have ever since 
maintained. 9 The importance of the introduc 
tion of this valuable article of food, in respect 
both of the weal and the woe of the Highlands, 
cannot be over-estimated. As an addition to 
the former scanty means of existence it was 
invaluable ; had it been used only as an addi 
tion the Highlanders might have been spared 
much suffering. Instead of this, however, it 
ere long came to be regarded as so all-impor 
tant, to be cultivated to such a large extent, 
and to the exclusion of other valuable produc 
tions, and to be depended upon by the great 
majority of the Highlanders as almost their 
sole food, that one failure in the crop by disease 
or otherwise must inevitably have entailed 
famine and misery. For so large a share of 
their food did the common Highlanders look 
to potatoes, that, according to the Old Statis 
tical Account, in many places they fed on little 
else for nine months in the year. 

The first remarkable scarcity subsequent to 
1745 appears to have been in the year 1770, 1 
arising apparently from the unusual severity of 
the weather, causing the destruction of most of 
the crops, and many of the cattle. That, how 
ever, of 1782-83 seems to have been still more 
terrible, and universal over all the Highlands, 
according to the Old Statistical Account. It 
was only the interference of government and 
the charity of private individuals that prevented 
multitudes from dying of starvation. Neither 
of these famines, however, seem to have been 

1 Tennant s Tour, vol. ii. p. 306. 
1 Johnson s Tour,--p. 196, and Pennant in several 


caused by any failure 111 the potato crop from 
disease, but simply by the inclemeney of 
seasons. But when to this latter danger there 
came subsequently to be added the liability of 
the staple article of food to fail from disease, 
the chances of frequently recurring famines 
came to be enormously increased. About 
1838 potatoes constituted four-fifths of the 
food of the common Higlanders. 2 However, 
we are anticipating. It is sufficient to note here 
as a matter of great importance in connection 
with the later social history of the Highlands, 
the universal cultivation of the potato some 
time after the middle of the eighteenth cen 
tury. Even during the latter part of last cen 
tury, potato-disease was by no means unknown, 
though it appears to have been neither so 
destructive nor so widespread as some of the 
*orms of disease developed at a later period. 
New forms of disease attacked the root during 
the early part of the present century, working 
at times considerable havoti, but never appa 
rently inducing anything approaching a famine. 
But about 1840, the potato disease par excel 
lence seems to have made its first appearance, 
and after visiting various parts of the world, 
including the Highlands, it broke out generally 
in 1845, and in 1846 entailed upon the High 
lands indescribable suffering and hardship. 
Of this, however, more shortly. One effect 
attributed frequently in the Old Statistical 
Account to the introduction and immoderate 
use of the potato is the appearance of diseases 
before unknown or very rare. One of the 
principal of these was dropsy, which, whether 
owing to the potato or not, became certainly 
more prevalent after it came into common use, 
if we may trust the testimony of the writers of 
the Statistical Account. 

In looking back, then, by the aid of the 
authority just mentioned, along with others, 
on the progress made by the Highlands during 
the latter half of the eighteenth century, 
while there is much to sadden, still there is 
much that is cheering. The people generally 
appear in a state of ferment and discontent 
with themselves, and doing their best blindly 
to grope their way to a better position. While 
still there remain many traces of the old 

* Fullarton & Bainl s Remarks on the Highlands 
and Mantis, p. 10. 1838. 

thraldom, there are many indications that 
freedom and a desire after true progress were 
slowly spreading among the people. Many of 
the old grievous services were still retained ; 
still were there many districts thirled to par 
ticular mills ; still were leases rare and tenures 
uncertain, and rents frequently paid in kind ; 
in many districts the houses were still unsightly 
and uncomfortable huts, the clothing scanty, 
and the food wretched and insufficient. In 
most Highland districts, we fear, the old 
Scotch plough, with its four or five men, and 
its six or ten cattle, was still the principal 
instrument of tillage; drainage was all but 
unknown ; the land was overstocked in many 
places with people and cattle ; the ground was 
scourged with incessant cropping, and much 
of the produce wasted in the gathering and in 
the preparing it for food. Education in many 
places was entirely neglected, schools few and 
far between, and teachers paid worse than 
ploughmen ! The picture has certainly a black 
enough background, but it is not unrelieved by 
a few bright and hopeful streaks. 

On many parts of the border-Highlands im 
provements had been introduced which placed 
them in every respect on a level with the low 
lands. Many of the old services had been 

abolished, leases introduced, the old and in- 


efficient agricultural instrument replaced by 
others made on the most approved system. 
Houses, food, and clothing were all improved ; 
indeed, in the case of the last article, there is 
frequent complaint made that too much atten 
tion and money were expended on mere orna 
mentation. The old method of constant 
cropping had in not a few districts been 
abolished, and a proper system of rotation 
established ; more attention was paid to pro 
per manuring and ingathering, and instead of 
restricting the crops, as of old, to oats and 
barley, many other new cereals, and a variety 
of green crops and grasses had been intro 
duced. Not only in the districts bordering on 
the Lowlands, but in many other parts of the 
Highlands, the breed of sheep, and cattle, and 
horses had been improved, and a much more 
profitable system of management introduced. 
By means of merciful emigration, the by far 
too redundant population of the Highlands 
had been considerably reduced, the position 



of those who left the country vastly improved, 
and more room and more means of living 
afforded to those who remained. A more 
rational system of dividing the land prevailed 
in many places, and sheep-farming for which 
alone, according to all unprejudiced testimony, 
the greater part of the surface of the Highlands 
is fitted had been extensively introduced. 
The want of education was beginning to be 
telt, and in many districts means were being 
taken to spread its advantages, while the 
moral and religious character of the people, as 
a whole, stood considerably above the averao-e 
of most other districts of Scotland. In short, 
the Highlanders, left to themselves, were 
advancing gradually towards that stage of 
improvement which the rest of the country 
had reached, and the natural laws which 
govern society had only not to be thwarted 
and impertinently interfered with, to enable 
the Highlanders ere long to be as far forward 
as the rest of their countrymen. From the 
beginning of this century down to the present 
time they have had much to struggle with, 
many trials to undergo, and much unnecessary 
interference to put up with, but their progress 
has been sure and steady, and even compara 
tively rapid. We must glance very briefly at 
the state of the Highlands during the present 
century ; great detail is uncalled for, as much 
that has been said concerning the previous 
period applies with equal force to the present. 


Progress of Highlands during present century De 
population and emigration Questions between 
landlords and tenants Hardships of the ousted 
tenants Sutherland clearings Compulsory emigra 
tion Famines Poorer tenants compelled to take 
service Sir John M Neill s Report -Changes com 
plained of inevitable Emigration the only remedy 

-Large and small farms Experiments Hi"li- 

landers succeed when left to themselves Substitu 
tion of deer for sheep Kecent state of Highlands- 
Means of improvement Increased facilities for 
intercourse of great value Population of chief 
Highland counties Highland colonies Attach 
ment of Highlanders to their old home Conclu 

THE same causes have been at work and the 
same processes . going on since 1800, as there 
during the latter half of last century. 

Taking stand at the date, about 1840, 
of the New Statistical Account, and looking 
back, the conclusion which, we think, any 
unprejudiced inquirer must come to is, 
that the Highlands as a whole had im 
proved immensely. With the exception of 
some of the Western Islands, agriculture and 
sheep-farming at the above date were generally 
abreast of the most improved lowland system, 
and the social condition of the people was but 
little, if any, behind that of the inhabitants of 
any other part of the country. In most places 
the old Scotch plough was abolished, and the 
improved two-horse one introduced ; manurin^ 

* O 

was properly attended to, and a system of 
rotation of crops introduced ; runrig was all 
but abolished, and the land properly inclosed; 
in short, during the early half of the pre 
sent century the most approved agricultural 
methods had been generally adopted, where 
agriculture was of any importance. Thiii- 
age, multures, services, payment in kind, 
and other oppressions and obstructions to 
improvement, were fast dying out, and over a 
great part of the country the houses, food, 
clothing, and social condition of the people 
generally were vastly improved from what they 
were half a century before. Education, more 
over, was spreading, and schools were multi 
plied, especially after the disruption of the 
Established Church in 1843, the Free Church 
laudably planting schools in many places where 
they had never been before. In short, one 
side of the picture is bright and cheering 
enough, although the other is calculated to fill 
a humane observer with sadness. 

Depopulation and emigration went on even 
more vigorously than before. Nearly all the 
old lairds and those imbued with the ancient 
spirit of the chiefs had died out, and a young 
and new race had now the disposal of the 
Highland lands, a race who had little sympathy 
with the feelings and prejudices of the people, 
and who were, naturally, mainly anxious to 
increase as largely as possible their rent-roll. 
In the earlier part of the century at least, as in 
the latter half of the previous one, few of the 
proprietors wished, strictly speaking, to depopu 
late their estates, and compel the inhabitants 
to emigrate, but simply to clear the interior of 
the small farms into which many properties 



were divided, convert the whole ground into 
sheep pasture, let it out in very large farms, 
and remove the ejected population to the 
coasts, there to carry on the manufacture of 
kelp, or engage in fishing. It was only when 
the value of kelp decreased, and the fishing 
proved unprofitable, that compulsory emigra 
tion was resorted to. 

It is unnecessary to say more here on the 
question of depopulation and emigration, the 
question between Highland landlords and 
Highland tenants, the dispute as to whether 
large or small farms are to be preferred, and 
whether the Highlands" are best suited for 
sheep and cattle or for men and agriculture. 
Most that has been written on the subject has 
been in advocacy of either the one side or the 
other ; one party, looking at the question exclu 
sively from the tenant s point of view, while 
the other writes solely in the interests of the 
landlords. The question has scarcely yet been 
dispassionately looked at, and perhaps cannot 
be for a generation or two yet, when the bitter 
feelings engendered on both sides shall have 
died out, when both landlords and tenants 
will have found out what is best for themselves 
and for the country at large, and when the 
Highlands will be as settled and prosperous as 
the Lothians and the Carse of Gowrie. There 
can be no doubt, however, that very frequently 
landlords and their agents acted with little or 
no consideration for the most cherished old 
feelings, prejudices, and even rights, of the 
tenants, whom they often treated with less 
clemency than they would have done sheep 
and cattle. It ought to have been remembered 
that the Highland farmers and cottars were in 
a condition quite different from those in the 
lowlands. Most of them rented farms which 
had been handed down to them from untold 
generations, and which they had come to re 
gard as as much belonging to them as did the 
castle to the chief. They had no idea of low 
land law and lowland notions of property, so 
that very often, when told to leave their farms 
and their houses, they could not realise the 
order, and could scarcely believe that it came 
from the laird, the descendant of the old 
chiefs, for whom their fathers fought and died. 
Hence the sad necessity often, of laying waste 
their farms, driving off their cattle, and burn 

ing their houses about their ears, before the legal 
officers could get the old tenants to quit the 
glens and hill-sides Avhere their fathers had for 
centuries dwelt. It was not sheer pig-headed 
obstinacy or a wish to defy the law which 
induced them to act thus ; only once, we think, 
in Sutherland, was there anything like a dis 
turbance, when the people gathered together 
and proceeded to drive out the sheep which 
were gradually displacing themselves. The 
mere sight of a soldier dispersed the mob, and 
not a drop of blood was spilt. When forced 
to submit and leave their homes they did so 
quietly, having no spirit to utter even a word 
of remonstrance. They seemed like a people 
amazed, bewildered, taken by surprise, as much 
so often as a family would be did a father turn 
them out of his house to make room for stran 
gers. In the great majority of instances, the 
people seem quietly to have done Avhat they 
were told, and removed from their glens to the 
coast, while those who could afford it seem 
generally to have emigrated. Actual violence 
seems to have been resorted to in very few 

Still the hardships which had to be endured 
by many of the ousted tenants, and the unfeel 
ing rigour with which many of them were 
treated is sad indeed to read of. Many of 
them had to sleep in caves, or shelter them 
selves, parents and children, under the lee of a 
rock or a dyke, keeping as near as they could 
to the ruins of their burnt or fallen cottage, and 
living on what shell-fish they could gather on 
the shore, wild roots dug with their fingers, or 
on the scanty charity of their neighbours ; for 
all who could had emigrated. Many of the 
proprietors, of course, did what they could to 
provide for the ousted tenants, believing that 
the driving of them out was a sad necessity. 
Houses, and a small piece of ground for each 
family, were provided by the shore, on some 
convenient spot, help was given to start the 
fishing, or employment in the manufacture of 
kelp, and as far as possible their new condi 
tion was made as bearable as possible. Indeed, 
we are inclined to believe, that but few of the 
landlords acted from mere wantonness, or were 
entirely dead to the interests of the old tenants ; 
but that, their own interests naturally being of 
the greatest importance to them, and some 



radical change being necessary in the manage 
ment of lands in the Highlands, the lairds 
thoughtlessly acted as many of them did. It 
was the natural rebound from the old system 
when the importance and wealth of a chief 
were rated at the number of men on his estate ; 
and although the consequent suffering is to be 
deplored, still, perhaps, it was scarcely to be 
avoided. It is easy to say that had the chiefs 
done this or the government done the other thing, 
much suffering might have been spared, and 
much benefit accrued to the Highlanders ; but 
all the suffering in the world might be 
spared did people know exactly when and how 
to interfere. It would be curious, indeed, if 
in the case of the Highlands the faults were 
all on one side. We believe that the pro 
prietors acted frequently with harshness and 
selfishness, and did not seek to realise the 
misery they were causing. They were bound, 
more strongly bound perhaps than the pro 
prietors of any other district, to show some 
consideration for the people on their estates, 
and not to act as if proprietors had the sole 
right to benefit by the land of a country, and 
that the people had no right whatever. Had 
they been more gentle, introduced the changes 
gradually and judiciously, and given the native 
Highlanders a chance to retrieve themselves, 
much permanent good might have been done, 
and much suffering and bitterness spared. 
But so long as the Avorld is merely learning 
how to live, groping after what is best, so long 
as men act on blind unreasoning impulse, 
until all men learn to act according to the 
immutable laws of Nature, so long will scenes 
such as we have been referring to occur. The 
blame, however, should be laid rather to igno 
rance than to wanton intention. 

Of all the Highland counties, perhaps 
Sutherland is better known than any other in 
connection with the commotions which agi 
tated the Highlands during the early part of 
this century, and, according to all accounts, 
the depopulation is more marked there than 
anywhere else. The clearance of that county 
of the old tenants, their removal to the coast, 
and the conversion of the country into large 
sheep-farms commenced about 1810, under the 
Marquis of Stafford, who had married the 
heiress of the Sutherland estate. The clearing 

was, of course, carried out by Mr Sellar, the 
factor, who, on account of some of the proceed 
ings to which he was a party, was tried before 
a Court of Justiciary, held at Inverness in 
1816, for culpable homicide and oppression. 
Many witnesses were examined on both sides, 
and, after a long trial, the jury returned a 
verdict of " Not guilty," in which the judge, 
Lord Pitmilly, completely concurred. This, 
we think, was the only verdict that could 
legally be given, not only in the case of the 
Sutherland clearings, but also in the case 
of most of the other estates where such mea- I 
sures were carried on. The tenants were all 
duly warned to remove a considerable number 
of weeks before the term, and as few of them 
had many chattels to take with them, this could 
easily have been done. Most of them gene 
rally obeyed the warning, although a few, 
generally the very poor and very old, refused to 
budge from the spot of their birth. The factor 
and his officers, acting quite according to law, 
compelled them, sometimes by force, to quit 
the houses, which were then either burnt or 
pulled to the ground. As a rule, these officers 
of the law seem to have done their duty as 
gently as law officers are accustomed to do ; 
but however mildly such a duty had been per 
formed, it could not but entail suffering to 
some extent, especially on such a people as 
many of the Highlanders were who knew not 
how to make a living beyond the bounds of 
their native glen. The pictures of suffering 
drawn, some of thorn we fear too true, are 
sometimes very harrowing, and any one who 
has been brought up among the hills, or has 
dwelt for a summer in a sweet Highland glen, 
can easily fancy with how sad a heart the 
Highlander must have taken his last long 
lingering look of the little cottage, however 
rude, where he passed his happiest years, nest 
led at the foot of a sunny brae, or guarded 
by some towering crag, and svirrounded with 
the multitudinous beauties of wood and vale, 
heather and ferns, soft knoll and rugged 
mountain. The same result as has followed in 
the Highlands has likewise taken place in other 
parts of the country, without the same outcry 
about depopulation, suffering, emigration, &c., 
simply because it has been brought about 
gradually. The process commenced in the 



Highlands only about a hundred years since, 
was commenced in the lowlands and elsewhere 
centuries ago ; the Highlanders have had im 
provements thrust upon them, while the low- 
landers were allowed to develope themselves. 

After the decline in the price of kelp (about 
1820), when it ceased to be the interest of the 
proprietors to accumulate people on the shore, 
they did their best to induce them to emigrate, 
many proprietors helping to provide ships for 
those whom they had dispossessed of their 
lands and farms. Indeed, until well on in the 
present century, the Highlanders generally 
seem to have had no objections to emigrate, 
but, on the contrary, were eager to do so when 
ever they could, often going against the will of 
the lairds and of those who dreaded the utter 
depopulation of the country and a dearth of 
recruits for the army. But about 1840 and 
after, compulsion seems often to have been 
used to make the people go on board the ships 
provided for them by the lairds, who refused 
to give them shelter on any part of their pro 
perty. But little compulsion, however, in the 
ordinary sense of the term, seems to have been 
necessary, as the Highlanders, besides having 
a hereditary tendency to obey their superiors, 
were dazed, bewildered, and dispirited by what 
seemed to them the cruel, heartless, and unjust 
proceedings of their lairds. 

The earliest extensive clearing probably took 
place on the estate of Glengarry, the traditional 
cause of it being that the laird s lady had 
taken umbrage at the clan. " Summonses of 
ejection were served over the whole property, 
even on families most closely connected with 
the chief." 3 From that time down to the 
present day, the clearing off of the inhabi 
tants of many parts of the Highlands has been 
steadily going on. We have already spoken of 
the Sutherland clearings, which were con 
tinued down to a comparatively recent time. 
All the Highland counties to a greater or less 

1 Those who wish further details may refer to the 
following pamphlets : The Glcnyarry Evictions, by 
Donald Eoss ; Hist, of the Hebrides, by E. O. Tre- 
gelles ; Twelve Days in Skye, by Lady M Caskill ; 
Exterminations of the Scottish Peasantry, and other 
works, by Mr Robertson of Dundonnachie ; High 
land Clearances, by the Rev. E. J. Findlater ; Suther 
land as it was and is ; and the pamphlet in last note. 
On the other side, see Selkirk on Emigration ; Sir J. 
M Xeill s report and article in Edin. lieviciv for Oct. 

extent have been subjected to the same kind of 
thinning, and have contributed their share of 
emigrants to America, Australia, New Zea 
land, and elsewhere. It would serve no pur 
pose to enter into details concerning the clear 
ing of the several estates in the various 
Highland counties ; much, as we have said, 
has been written on both sides, and if faith 
can be put in the host of pamphlets that have 
been issued during the present century on the 
side of the ejected Highlanders, some of the 
evictions were conducted with great cruelty ; 4 
much greater cruelty and disregard for the 
people s feelings than we think there was any 
need for, however justifiable and necessary the 
evictions and clearings were. 

AVe have already referred to the frequent 
occurrence of famines during the past and 
present centuries in the Highlands, arising 
from the failure of the crops, principally, 
latterly, through the failure of the potatoes. 
These frequent famines gave a stimulus to 
emigration, as, of course, the people were 
anxious to escape from their misery, and the 
proprietors were glad to get quit of the poor 
they would otherwise have had to support. 
Besides the failure of the crops, other causes 
operated, according to Mr Tregelles, in the 
pamphlet already referred to, to produce the 
frequent occurrence of distress in the High 
lands ; such as the relation of landlord and 
tenant, the defective character of the poor-law, 
the excessive division and subdivision of the 
land, the imprudence and ignorance of some of 
the peasantry, inertness, also consequent on 
chronic poverty, want of capital. Every few 
years, up even to the present time, a cry of 
distress comes from the Highlands. Besides 
the famines already referred to in 1837 and 
1846, a still more severe and distressing one 
occurred in 1850, and seems, according to the 
many reports and pamphlets issued, to have 
continued for some years after. In the one of 
1837, many Highland proprietors and private 
gentlemen, forming themselves into an associa 
tion, did what they could to assist the High 
landers, mainly by way of emigration. Not 
only was it for the advantage of Highland pro 
prietors, in respect of being able to let their 

4 The Depopulation System in the Highlands, by an 
Eye- Witness. Pamphlet. 1849. 



lands at a better rent, to do what they could 
to enable the people to emigrate, but by doing 
so, and thus diminishing the number of poor 
on their estates, they considerably decreased 
the large tax they had to pay under the recent 
Scotch Poor-law Act. " Formerly the poor 
widows and orphans and destitute persons 
were relieved by the parish minister from the 
poors box, by voluntary subscriptions, which 
enabled the extremely needy to receive four or 
five shillings the quarter ; and this small pit 
tance was felt on all hands to be a liberal 
bounty. The landlord added his five or ten 
pound gift at the beginning of the year, and a 
laudatory announcement appeared in the news 
paper. But the Act for the relief of the poor 
of Scotland now provides that a rate shall be 
levied on the tenant or occupier, and some of 
those who formerly paid 10 per annum, and 
were deemed worthy of much commendation, 
have now to pay .400 per annum without 
note or comment ! Can we be surprised, then, 
that some of the landlords, with increased 
claims on their resources, and perhaps with 
diminished ability to meet such claims, should 
look round promptly and earnestly for a re 
medy? One of the most obvious and speedy 
remedies was emigration ; hence the efforts to 
clear the ground of those who, with the lapse 
of time, might become heavy encumbrances. 
It need not be matter of surprise that the 
landlord should clear his ground of tenants 
who, for a series of years, had paid no rent ; 
although perhaps a wiser and better course 
would have been to have sought for and found 
some good means of continued lucrative em 
ployment. . . . The lands are divided and 
subdivided until a family is found existing on 
a plot which is totally inadequate for their 
support ; and here we see their imprudence 
and ignorance. Families are reared up in 
misery, struggling with impossibilities, pro 
ducing at last that inertness and dimness of 
vision which result from a sick heart." 5 Most 
of those who write, like Mr Trcgelles, of the dis 
tress of the Highlands in 1850 and succeeding 
years, do so in the same strain. They declare 
there is no need for emigration, that the land 
and sea, if properly worked, are quite suffi- 

r Tregelles Hints on the Hebrides. 

cient to support all the inhabitants that were 
ever on it at any time, and that the people 
only need to be helped on, encouraged and 
taught, to make them as prosperous and the 
land as productive as the people and land of 
any other part of the kingdom. While this 
may be true of many parts, we fear it will not 
hold with regard to most of the Western 
Islands, where xintil recently, in most places, 
especially in Skye, the land was so subdivided 
and the population so excesshe, that under 
the most productive system of agriculture the 
people could not be kept in food for more than 
half the year. Even in some of the best off of 
the islands, it was the custom for one or more 
members of a family to go to the south during 
summer and harvest, and earn as much as 
would pay the rent and eke out the scanty 
income. " The fact is, that the working 
classes of Skye, for many years anterior to 
1846, derived a considerable part of their 
means from the wages of labour in the south. 
Even before the manufacture of kelp had been 
abandoned, the crofters of some parts at least 
of Skye appear to have paid their rents chiefly 
in money earned by labour in other parts of 
the kingdom. When that manufacture ceased, 
the local employment was reduced to a small 
amount, and the number who went elsewhere 
for wages increased. The decline of the 
herring-fishery, which for several years had 
yielded little or no profit in Skye, had a simi 
lar effect. The failure of the potato crop in 
1846 still further reduced the local means of 
subsistence and of employing labour, and forced 
a still greater number to work for wages in 
different parts of the country. From the 
Pentland Firth to the Tweed, from the Lewis 
to the Isle of Man, the Skye- men sought the 
employment they could not find at home ; and 
there are few families of cottars, or of crofters 
at rents not exceeding 10, from which at 
least one individual did not set out to earn by 
labour elsewhere the means of paying rent and 
buying meal for those who remained at home. 
Before 1846, only the younger members of the 
family left .the district for that purpose ; since 
that year, the crofter himself has often found 
it necessary to go. But young and old, crofters 
and cottars, to whatever distance they may 
have gone, return home for the winter, with 



rare exceptions, and remain there nearly alto 
gether idle, consuming the produce of the 
croft, and the proceeds of their own labour, 
till the return of summer and the failure of 
their supplies warn them that it is time to set 
out again. Those whose means are insufficient 
to maintain them till the winter is past, and 
who cannot find employment at that season at 
home, are of course in distress, and, having 
exhausted their own means, are driven to 
various shifts, and forced to seek charitable 

The above extract is from the Report by 
Sir John M ^eill, on the distress in Highlands 
and Islands in 1850-51, caused by the failure 
of the crops. He went through most of the 
western island and western mainland parishes 
examining into the condition of the people, 
and the conclusion he came to was, that the 
population was excessive, that no matter how 
the land might be divided, it could not support 
the inhabitants without extraneous aid, and 
that the only remedy was the removal of the 
surplus population by means of emigration. 
Whether the population was excessive or not, 
it appears to us, that when the sudden, deep, 
and extensive distresses occurred in the High 
lands, it was merciful to help those who had 
no means of making a living, and who 
were half starving, to remove to a land 
where there was plenty of well-paid work. 
Sir John believes that even although no pres 
sure had been used by landlords, and no dis 
tresses had occurred, the changes which have 
been rapidly introduced into the Highlands, 
extending farms and diminishing population, 
would have happened all the same, but would 
have been brought about more gradually and 
with less inconvenience and suffering to the 
population. " The change which then (end of 
last century) affected only the parishes bor 
dering on the Lowlands, has now extended to 
the remotest parts of the Highlands, and, 
whether for good or for evil, is steadily advanc 
ing. Every movement is in that direction, 
because the tendency must necessarily be to 
assimilate the more remote districts to the rest 
of the country, and to carry into them, along 
with the instruction, industry, and capital, the 
agricultural and commercial economy of the 
wealthier, more intelligent, and influential 

majority of the nation. If it were desirable to 
resist this progress, it would probably be found 
impracticable. Every facility afforded to com 
munication and intercourse must tend to hasten 
its march, and it is not to be conceived that 
any local organisation could resist, or even 
materially retard it. If nothing had occurred 
to disturb the ordinary course of events, this 
inevitable transition would probably have been 
effected without such an amount of suffering as 
to call for special intervention, though no such 
change is accomplished without suffering. The 
crofter would have yielded to the same power 
that has elsewhere converted the holdings of 
small tenants into farms for capitalists ; but 
increased facilities of communication, and in 
creased intercourse, might previously have done 
more to assimilate his language, habits, and 
modes of living and of thinking to those of 
men in that part of the country to which he is 
now a stranger, and in which he is a foreigner. 
" There would thus have been opened up to 
him the same means of providing for his sub 
sistence that were found by those of his class, 
who, during the last century, have ceased to 
cultivate land occupied by themselves. But 
the calamity that suddenly disabled him from 
producing his food by his own labour on his 
croft, has found him generally unprepared 
to provide by either means for his maintenance. 
All the various attempts that have yet been 
made in so many parishes to extricate the 
working classes from the difficulties against 
which they are unsuccessfully contending, 
have not only failed to accomplish that object, 
but have failed even to arrest the deterioration 
in their circumstances and condition that has 
been in progress for the last four years. In 
every parish, with one or two exceptions, men 
of all classes and denominations concur unani 
mously in declaring it to be impossible, by 
any application of the existing resources, or 
by any remunerative application of extra 
neous resources, to provide for the perma 
nent subsistence of the whole of the present 
inhabitants ; and state their conviction that the 
population cannotbemade self-sustaining, unless 

a portion removes from the parish The 

working classes in many parishes are convinced 
that the emigration of a part of their number 
affords the only prospect of escape from a 



position otherwise hopeless; and in many 
cases individuals have earnestly prayed for aid 
to emigrate. Petitions numerously signed by 
persons desirous to go to the North American 
colonies, and praying for assistance to enable 
them to do so, have been transmitted for pre 
sentation to Parliament. In some of the 
parishes where no desire for emigration had 
been publicly expressed, or was supposed to 
exist, that desire began to be announced as 
soon as the expectation of extraneous aid was 
abandoned. It has rarely happened that so 
many persons, between whom there was or 
could have been no previous concert or in 
tercourse, and whose opinions on many im 
portant subjects are so much at variance, 
have concurred in considering any one mea 
sure indispensable to the welfare of the 
community ; and there does not appear 
to be any good reason for supposing that 
this almost unanimous opinion is not well 
founded." 6 

These are the opinions of one who thoroughly 
examined into the matter, and are corroborated 
by nearly all the articles on the Highland 
parishes in the New Statistical Account. That 
it was and is still needful to take some plan 
to prevent the ever-recurring distress of the 
Western Highlands, and especially Islands, no 
one can doubt ; that emigration is to some ex 
tent necessary, especially from the islands, we 
believe, but that it is the only remedy, we are 
inclined to doubt. There is no doubt that 
many proprietors, whose tenants though in 
possession of farms of no great size were yet 
very comfortable, have cleared their estate, 
and let it out in two or three large farms solely 
for sheep. Let emigration by all means be 
brought into play where it is necessary, but 
it is surely not necessary in all cases to go from 
one extreme to another, and replace thousands 
of men, women, and children by half-a-dozen 
shepherds and their dogs. Many districts may 
be suitable only for large farms, but many 
others, we think, could be divided into farms 
of moderate size, large enough to keep a farmer 
and his family comfortably after paying a fair 
rent. This system, we believe, has been pur 
sued with success in some Highland districts, 

6 Sir John M NeilVs Import, pp. xxxiv.-xxxv. 

especially in that part of Inverness-shire occu 
pied by the Grants. 

In Sir John M Neill s report there aro 
some interesting and curious statements which, 
we think, tend to show that when the High 
landers are allowed to have moderate-sized 
farms, and are left alone to make what they 
can of them, they can maintain themselves in 
tolerable comfort. In the island of Lewis, 
where the average rent of the farms was 2, 
12s., the farmer was able to obtain from his 
farm only so much produce as kept himself 
and family for six months in the year; his 
living for the rest of the year, his rent and 
other necessary expenses, requiring to be ob 
tained from other sources, such as fishing, 
labour in the south, &c. So long as things 
went well, the people generally managed to 
struggle through the year without any great 
hardship; but in 1846, and after, when the 
potato crops failed, but for the interference of 
the proprietor and others, many must have 
perished for want of food. In six years after 
1846, the proprietor expended upwards of 
100,000 in providing work and in charity, to 
enable the people to live. Various experiments 
were tried to provide work for the inhabitants, 
and more money expended than there was 
rent received, with apparently no good result 
whatever. In 1850, besides regular paupers, 
there were above 11,000 inhabitants receiving 
charitable relief. Yet, notwithstanding every 
encouragement from the proprietor, who offered 
to cancel all arrears, provide a ship, furnish 
them with all necessaries, few of the people 
cared to emigrate. In the same way in Harris, 
immense sums were expended to help the 
people to live, with as little success as in 
Lewis ; the number of those seeking relief 
seemed only to increase. As this plan seemed 
to lead to no good results, an attempt was 
made to improve the condition of the people by 
increasing the size of their farms, which in the 
best seasons sufficed to keep them in pro 
visions for only six months. The following is 
the account of the experiment given by Mr 
Macdonald, the resident factor : " At "Whit 
sunday 1848 forty crofters were removed from 
the island of Bernera, then occupied by eighty- 
one ; and the lands thus vacated were divided 
among the forty-one who remained. Those 



who were removed, with two or three excep 
tions, were placed in crofts upon lands pre 
viously occupied by tacksmen. Six of the 
number who, with one exception, had occupied 
crofts of about five acres in Bernera, were 
settled in the Borves on crofts of ten acres of 
arable, and hill-grazing for four cows, and their 
followers till two years old, with forty sheep 
and a horse, about double the amount of 
stock which, with one exception, they had in 
Bernera. The exceptional case referred to was 
that of a man who had a ten-acre croffc in 
Bernera, with an amount of black cattle stock 
equal to that for which he got grazing in the 
Borves, but who had no sheep. They are all 
in arrear of rent, and, on an average, for up 
wards of two years. These six tenants were 
selected as the best in Bernera, in respect to 
their circumstances. I attribute their want of 
success to the depreciation in the price of black 
cattle, and to their not having sufficient capital 
to put upon their lands a full stock when they 
entered. Their stipulated rent in the Borves 
was, on an average, 12. Of the forty-one 
who remained, with enlarged crofts, in Bernera, 
the whole are now largely in arrear, and have 
increased their arrears since their holdings 
were enlarged. I attribute their want of suc 
cess to the same causes as that of the people in 
the Borves. The result of his attempt to im 
prove the condition of these crofters, by enlarg 
ing their crofts, while it has failed to accom 
plish that object, has at the same time entailed a 
considerable pecuniary loss upon the proprietor. 
" An attempt was made, at the same time, to 
establish some unsuccessful agricultural crofters, 
practised in fishing, as fishermen, on lands 
previously occupied by tacksmen, where each 
fisherman got a croft of about two acres of 
arable land, with grazing for one or two cows, 
and from four to six sheep, at a rent of from 
1 to 2 sterling. This experiment was 
equally unsuccessful. It is doubtful whether 
they were all adequately provided with suitable 
boats and tackle, or gear ; but many of them 
were ; and some of those who were not origi 
nally well provided were supplied with what 
was wanted by the destitution fund. Of these 
fishermen Mr Macdonald says : Not one of 
them, since entering on the fishing croft, has 
paid an amount equal to his rent. The 

attempt to improve the condition of those men, 
who had previously been unsuccessful as agri 
cultural crofters, by placing them in a position 
favourable for fishing, has also failed ; and 
this experiment also has entailed a considerable 
pecuniary loss upon the proprietor, who is not 
now receiving from these fishermen one-fourth 
of the rent he formerly received from tacksmen 
for the same lands. I therefore state confi 
dently, that in Harris the proprietor cannot 
convert lands held by tacksmen into small 
holdings, either for the purposes of agriculture 
or fishing, without a great pecuniary sacrifice ; 
and that this will continue to be the case, 
unless potatoes should again be successfully 
cultivated. I cannot estimate the loss that 
would be entailed upon the proprietor by such 
a change at less than two-thirds of the rental 
paid by the tacksmen. The results of the ex 
periments that have been made on this pro 
perty would, in every case, fully bear out this 
estimate. It is my conscientious belief and 
firm conviction, that if this property were all 
divided into small holdings amongst the pre 
sent occupants of land, the result would be, 
that in a few years the rent recoverable would 
not be sufficient to pay the public burdens, if 
the potatoes continue to fail, and the price of 
black cattle does not materially improve. " 7 

Yet not one family in Harris would accept 
the proprietor s offer to bear all the expense of 
their .migration. 

The condition of Lewis and Harris, as above 
shown, may be taken as a fair specimen of 
the Western Islands at the time of Sir John 
M Neill s inquiry in 1851. 

An experiment, which if properly managed, 
might have succeeded, was tried in 1850 and 
the two following years ; it also proved a 
failure. The following is the account given 
in the Edinburgh Review for October 1857. 
The reader must remember, however, that the 
article is written by an advocate of all the 
modern Highland innovations : A number of 
people in the district of Sollas in North Uist 
had agreed to emigrate, but " a committee in 
the town of Perth, which had on hand 3000 
collected for the Highland Destitution Relief 
Fund of 1847, resolved to form these people 

7 Sir John M Ncill s Report, pp. xxii., xxiit 



into a < settlement/ Lord Macdonald assenting 
and giving them the choice of any land in the 
island not under lease. The tenants, ahout 
sixty in number, removed to the selected place 
in autumn 1850, provided by the committee 
with an agricultural overseer. In the follow 
ing spring a large crop of oats and potatoes 
was laid down. The oats never advanced 
above a few inches in height, and ultimately 
withered and died, and the potatoes gave little 
or no return. A great part of the land so dealt 
with has never since been touched, and it is 
now even of less value than before, having 
ceased to produce even heather. This result, 
however, we are bound to mention, was at the 
time, and perhaps still, popularly ascribed, like 
all Highland failures, to the fault of those in 
authority. A new overseer was therefore sent, 
and remained about a year and a half; but in 
1852 a third of the people, becoming painfully 
impressed with the truth of the matter, went 
off to Australia. In 1 853 a third manager was 
sent to teach and encourage ; but as the 
money was now running short, he had little to 
give but advice, and as the people could not 
subsist on that any more than on the produce 
of their lots, they went off to seek employment 
elsewhere and so ended what was called this 
interesting experiment, but of which it seems 
to be now thought inexpedient to say anything 
at all. The results were to spend 3000 in 
making worse a piece of the worst possible 
land, and in prolonging the delusions and suf 
ferings of the local population, but also in sup 
plying one more proof of the extreme difficulty 
or impossibility of accomplishing, and the great 
mischief of attempting, what so many paper 
authorities in Highland matters assume as alike 
easy and beneficial." 

It would almost seem, from the failure of 
the above and many other experiments which 
have been tried to improve the condition of 
the Highlanders, that any extraneous positive 
interference by way of assistance, experiments, 
charity, and such like, leading the people to de 
pend more on others than on themselves, leads 
to nothing but disastrous results. This habit 
of depending on others, a habit many centuries 
old, was one which, instead of being encouraged, 
ought to have been by every possible means 
discouraged, as it was at the bottom of all the 

evils which followed the abolition of the juris 
dictions. They had been accustomed to look 
to their chiefs for generations to see that they 
were provided with houses, food, and clothing; 
and it could only be when they were thoroughly 
emancipated from this slavish and degrading 
habit that they could find scope for all their 
latent ^ energies, have fair play, and feel the 
necessity for strenuous exertion. 

As a contrast to the above accounts, and as 
showing that it is perfectly possible to carry 
out the small or moderate farm system, even 
on the old principle of runrig, both with com 
fort to the tenants and with profit to the pro 
prietors ; and also as showing what the High 
landers are capable of when left entirely to 
themselves, we give the following extract from 
Sir J. M Neill s Report, in reference to the 
prosperity of Applecross in Ross-shire : 

"The people have been left to depend on their 
own exertions, under a kind proprietor, who 
was always ready to assist individuals making 
proper efforts to improve their condition, but 
who attempted no new or specific measure for 
the general advancement of the people. Their 
rents are moderate, all feel secure of their 
tenure so long as they are not guilty of any 
delinquency, and a large proportion of those 
who hold land at rents of 6 and upwards, 
have leases renewable every seven years. Dur 
ing the fifteen years ending at Whitsunday 
1850, they have paid an amount equal to 
fifteen years rent. Many of the small crofters 
are owners, or part owners, of decked vessels, 
of which there are forty-five, owned by the 
crofters on the property; and a considerable 
number have deposits of money in the banks. 
The great majority of these men have not 
relied on agriculture, and no attempt has been 
made to direct their efforts to that occupation. 
Left to seek their livelihood in the manner in 
which they could best find it, and emancipated 
from tutelage and dependence on the aid and 
guidance of the proprietor, they have prospered 
more than their neighbours, apparently because 
they have relied less upon the crops they could 
raise on their lands, and have pursued other 
occupations with more energy and persever 

" Of the crofters or small tenants on this 
property who are not fishermen, and who are 



dependent solely on the occupation of land, 
the most prosperous are those who have relied 
upon grazing, and who are still cultivating their 
arable laud in runrig. These club-farmers, 
as they are called, hold a farm in common, 
each having an equal share. They habitually 
purchase part of their food. They have paid 
their rents regularly, and several of them have 
deposits of money in bank. Mr. Mackinnon, 
who has for more than fifteen years been the 
factor on the property, gives the following 
account of the club-farmers of Lochcarron : 

" Of the letters or crofters paying 6 and 
upwards, a large proportion have long had 
leases for seven years, which have been renewed 
from time to time. Those paying smaller 
rents have not leases. The lots which are 
occupied by tenants-at-will are much better 
cultivated than those which are held on leases. 
I don t, of course, attribute the better cultiva 
tion to the want of leases ; all I infer from this 
fact is, that granting leases to the present 
occupants of lots has not made them better 
cultivators of their lots. The most successful 
of the small tenants are those who have taken 
farms in common, in which the grazings are 
chiefly stocked with sheep, and in which there 
happens to be a sufficient extent of arable land 
connected with a moderate extent of grazing to 
enable them to raise crops for their own sub 
sistence. Since the failure of the potatoes, 
however, all the tenants of this class have 
been obliged to buy meal. On those farms 
which are held on lease, the land is still culti 
vated on the runrig system. There are five 
such farms on Mr. Mackenzie s property in the 
parish of Lochcarron. One of these is let at 
48, to six persons paying 8 each ; another 
for 56, to seven men at 8 each ; another 
for 72, to eight men at 9 each another to 
eight men at 13, 10s., equal to 108; 
another to eight men at 15 each, equal to 
120. The cultivation on all of these farms 
is on the runrig system. Their sales of 
stock and wool are made in common, that is, 
in one lot. Their stock, though not common 
property (each man having his own with a 
distinctive mark), are managed in common by 
a person employed for that purpose. The 
tenants of this class have paid their rents with 
great punctuality, and have never been in 

arrear to any amount worth mentioning. A 
considerable number of them have money in 
bank. They have their lands at a moderate 
rent, which is no doubt one cause of their 
prosperity. Another cause is, that no one of 
the tenants can subdivide his share without 
the consent of his co-tenants and of the pro 
prietor. The co-tenants are all opposed to 
such subdivision of a share by one of their 
number, and practically no sub-division has 
taken place. Their families, therefore, as they 
grow up, are sent out to shift for themselves. 
Some of the children iind employment at 
home, some emigrate to the colonies. " 8 

Of course it is not maintained that this is 
the most profitable way for the proprietor to 
let his lands ; it is not at all improbable that 
by adopting the large-farm system, his rent 
might be considerably increased ; only it shows, 
that when the Highlanders are left to them 
selves, and have fair play and good oppor 
tunities, they are quite capable of looking aftei 
their own interests with success. 

A comparatively recent Highland grievance 
is the clearance off of sheep, and the conver 
sion of large districts, in one case extending 
for about 100 miles, into deer forests. Great 
complaint has been made that this was a wanton 
abuse of proprietorship, as it not only dis 
placed large numbers of people, but substituted 
for such a useful animal as the sheep, an 
animal like the deer, maintained for mere 
sport. No doubt the proprietors find it more 
profitable to lay their lands under deer than 
under sheep, else they would not do it, and by 
all accounts 9 it requires the same number of 
men to look after a tract of country covered 
with deer, as it would do if the same district 
were under sheep. But it certainly does seem 
a harsh, unjust, and very un-British proceeding 
to depopulate a whole district, as has sometimes 
been done, of poor but respectable and happy 
people, for the mere sake of providing sport 
for a few gentlemen. It is mere sophistry to 
justify the substitution of deer for sheep, by 
saying that one as well as the other is killed 
and eaten as food. For thousands whose 
daily food is mutton, there is not more than 
one who regards venison as anything else than 

8 Sir John M Neill s Report, xxvi. xxvii. 

9 See Edin. Rev. for Oct. 1857. 



a rarity; and by many it is considered un 
palatable. Landlords at present can no doub 
do what they like with their lands ; but ii 
seems to us that in the long-run it is profitable 
neither to them nor to the nation at large, thai 
large tracts of ground, capable of maintaining 
such a universally useful animal as the sheep 
or of being divided into farms of a moderate 
size, should be thrown aAvay on deer, an ani 
mal of little value but for sport. 

As we have more than once said already, 
the. Highlands are in a state of transition, 
though, we think, near the end of it ; and we 
have no doubt that erelong both proprietor; 
and tenants will find out the way to manage 
the land most profitable for both, and life there 
will be as comfortable, and quiet, and undis 
turbed by agitations of any kind, as it is in 
any other part of the country. 

Since the date of the New Statistical Account 
and of. Sir J. M jSeill s Report, the same pro 
cesses have been going on in the Highlands 
with the same results as during the previous 
half century. The old population have in 
many places been removed from their small 
crofts to make way for large sheep-farmers, 
sheep having in some districts been giving 
place to deer, and a large emigration has been 
going on. Much discontent and bitter writing 
have of course been caused by these proceed 
ings, but there is no doubt that, as a whole, the 
Highlands are rapidly improving, although 
improvement has doubtless come through much 
tribulation. Except, perhaps, a few of the 
remoter districts, the Highlands generally are 
as far forward as the rest of the country. 
Agriculture is as good, the Highland sheep and 
cattle are famous, the people are about as com 
fortable as lowlanders in the same circum 
stances ; education is well diffused; churches of 
all sects are plentiful, and ere long, doubtless, 
so far as outward circumstances are concerned, 
there will be no difference between the High 
lands and Lowlands. How the universal 
improvement of the Highlands is mainly to be 
accomplished, we shall state in the words of 
Sir John M aSTeill. What he says refers to the 
state of the country during the distress of 1851, 
but they apply equally well at the present day. 
" It is evident that, were the population re 
duced to the number that can live in tolerable 

comfort, that change alone would not secure 
the future prosperity and independence of 
those who remain. It may be doubted whether 
any specific measures calculated to have a 
material influence on the result, could now be 
suggested that have not repeatedly been pro 
posed. Increased and improved means of 
education would tend to enlighten the people, 
and to fit them for seeking their livelihood 
in distant places, as well as tend to break 
the bonds that now confine them to their 
native localities. But, to accomplish these 
objects, education must not be confined 
to reading, writing, and arithmetic. The 
object of all education is not less to excite 
the desire for knowledge, than to furnish the 
means of acquiring it; and in this respect, 
education in the Highlands is greatly deficient. 
Instruction in agriculture and the management 
of stock would facilitate the production of the 
means of subsistence. A more secure tenure 
of the lands they occupy would tend to make 
industrious and respectable crofters more dili 
gent and successful cultivators. But the 
effects of all such measures depends on the 
spirit and manner in which they are carried 
out, as well as on the general management 
with which they are connected throughout a 
series of years. It is, no doubt, in the power of 
every proprietor to promote or retard advance 
ment, and he is justly responsible for the 
manner in which he uses that power ; bufc-its 
extent appears to have been much overrated. 
The circumstances that determine the progress 
of such a people as the inhabitants of those dis 
tricts, in the vicinity, and forming a part of a 
great nation far advanced in knowledge and in 
wealth, appear to be chiefly those which deter 
mine the amount of intercourse between them. 
Where that intercourse is easy and constant, 
:he process of assimilation proceeds rapidly, 
ind the result is as certain as that of opening 
;he sluices in the ascending lock of a canal. 
Where that intercourse is impeded, or has not 
:>een established, it may perhaps be possible 
-o institute a separate local civilization, an 
solated social progress ; but an instance of its 
successful accomplishment is not to be found 
n those districts. 

" Whatever tends to facilitate and promote 
ntercourse between the distressed districts 



and the more advanced parts of the country, 
tends to assimilate the habits and modes of 
life of their inhabitants, and, therefore, to pro 
mote education, industry, good management, 
and everything in which the great body ex 
cels the small portion that is to be assimi 
lated to it." ! 

Notwithstanding the immense number of 
people who have emigrated from the High 
lands during the last 100 years, the population 
of the six chief Highland counties, including 
the Islands, was in 1861 upwards of 100,000 
more than it was in 1755. In the latter year 
the number of inhabitants in Argyll, Inverness, 
Caithness, Perth, Ross, and Sutherland, was 
332,332; in 1790-98 it was 392,263, which, 
by 1821, had increased to 447,307; in 1861 
it had reached 449,875. Thus, although 
latterly, happily, the rate of increase has been 
small compared with what it was during last 
century, any fear of the depopulation of the 
Highlands is totally unfounded. 

Until lately, the great majority of Highland 
emigrants preferred British America to any 
other colony, and at the present day Cape 
Breton, Prince Edward s Island, Nova Scotia, 
New Brunswick, and many other districts of 
British North America, contain a large High 
land population, proud of their origin, and in 
many instances still maintaining their original 
Gaelic. One of the earliest Highland settle 
ments was, however, in Georgia, where in 
1738, a Captain Mackintosh settled along with 
a considerable number of followers from Inver 
ness-shire. Hence the settlement was called 
New Inverness. 2 The favourite destination, 
however, of the earlier Highland emigrants 
was North Carolina, to which, from about 1760 
till the breaking out of the American war, 
many hundreds removed from Skye and other 
of the "Western Islands. During that war 
these colonists almost to a man adhered to the 
British Government, and formed themselves 
into the Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment, 
which did good service, as will be seen in the 
account of the Highland Regiments. At the 
conclusion of the war, many settled in Carolina, 
wliile others removed to Canada, where land 

1 Sir John M NeilVs Report, xxxviii. xxxix. 
1 The American Gazetteer. Lond. 1762. Art. 
Inrerness, New. 


was allotted to them by Government. That 
the descendants of these early settlers still 
cherish the old Highland spirit, is testified to 
by all travellers ; some interesting notices of 
their present condition maybe seen in Mr David 
Macrae s American Sketches (1869). Till quite 
lately, Gaelic sermons were preached to them, 
and the language of their forefathers we believe 
has not yet fallen into disuse in the district, 
being spoken even by some of the negroes. 
Those who emigrated to this region seem mostly 
to have been tacksmen, while many of the 
farmers and cottars settled in British America. 
Although their fortunes do not seem to have 
come up to the expectations of themselves and 
those who sent them out, still there is no doubt 
that their condition after emigration was in 
almost every respect far better than it was 
before, and many of their descendants now 
occupy responsible and prominent positions 
in the colony, while all seem to be a^ 
comfortable as the most well-to-do Scottish 
farmers having the advantage of the latter 
in being proprietors of their own farms. 
According to the Earl of Selkirk, who 
himself took out and settled several bands 
of colonists, " the settlers had every incitement 
to vigorous exertion from the nature of their 
tenure. They were allowed to purchase in fee- 
simple, and to a certain extent on credit. 
From 50 to 100 acres were allotted to each 
family at a very moderate price, but none was 
given gratuitously. To accommodate those 
who had no superfluity of capital, they were 
not required to pay the price in full, till the 
third or fourth year of their possession ; and in 
that time an industrious man may have it in 
his power to discharge his debt out of the pro 
duce of the land itself." 3 Those who went out 
without capital at all, could, such was the high 
rate of wages, soon save as much as would 
enable them to undertake the management of 
land of their own. That the Highlanders were 
as capable of hard and good labour as the 
lowlanders, is proved by the way they set to 
work in these colonies, when they were entirely 
freed from oppression, and dependance, and 
charity, and had to depend entirely on their 
own exertions. 

z Selkirk on Emigration, p. 212. 



Besides the above settlements, the mass of 
the population in Caledonia County, State of 
New York, are of Highland extraction, and 
there are large settlements in the State of 
Ohio, besides numerous families and individual 
settlers in other parts of the United States. 
Highland names were numerous among the 
generals of the United States army on both sides 
in the late civil war. 4 

The fondness of these settlers for the old 
country, and all that is characteristic of it, is 
well shown by an anecdote told in Camp 
bell s Travels in North America (1793). The 
spirit manifested here is, we believe, as strong 
even at the present day when hundreds will 
flock from many miles around to hear a Gaelic 
sermon by a Scotch minister. Campbell, in his 
travels in British America, mainly undertaken 
with the purpose of seeing how the new Highland 
colonists were succeeding, called at the house 
of a Mr Angus Mackintosh on the Nashwack. 
He was from Inverness-shire, and his wife told 
Campbell they had every necessary of life in 
abundance on their own property, but there 
was one thing which she wished much to have 
-that was heather. " And as she had heard 
there was an island in the Gulf of St Law 
rence, opposite to the mouth of the Merimashee 
river, where it grew, and as she understood I 
was going that way, she earnestly entreated I 
would bring her two or three stalks, or cows 
as she called it, which she would plant on a 
barren brae behind her house where she sup 
posed it would grow ; that she made the same 
request to several going that way, but had not 
got any of it, which she knew would greatly 
beautify the place ; for, said she, This is an 
ugly country that has no heather ; I never yet 
saw any good or pleasant place without it. " 
Latterly, very large numbers of Highlanders 
have settled in Australia and New Zealand, 
where, by all accounts, they are in every respect 
as successful as the most industrious lowland 

I No doubt much immediate suffering and 
bitterness was caused when the Highlanders 
were compelled to leave their native land, 
which by no means treated them kindly ; but 
whether emigration has been disastrous to the 

4 Dr M Lauchlan s paper in Social Science Trans 
actions for 1863. 

Highlands or not, there can be no doubt of its 
ultimate unspeakable benefit to the Highland 
emigrants themselves, and to the colonies in 
which they have settled. Few, we believe, 
however tempting the offer, would care to quit 
their adopted home, and return to the bleak 
hills and rugged shores of their native land. 




Extent of Gaelic literature Claims of Ireland Cir 
cumstances adverse to preservation of Gaelic lite 
rature "The Lament of Deirdre"" The Children 
of Usnoth" "The Book of Deer" The Legend of 
Deer The memoranda of grants The "Albanic 
Duan" " Muireadhach Albannach" Gaelic char 
ter of 1408 Manuscripts of the 15th century 
"The Dean of Lismore s Book" Macgregor, Dean 
of Lismore " Ursgeul " " Bas Dhiarmaid " 
Ossian v s Eulogy on Fingal Macpherson s Ossian 
" Fingal " - Cuchullin s chariot " Temora " 
Smith s Sean Dana" Ossianic collections Fin- 
gal s address to Oscar Ossian s address to the setting 
sun John Knox s Liturgy Kirk s Gaelic Psalter 
Irish Bible Shorter Catechism Confession of Faith 
Gaelic Bible Translations from the English 
Original prose writings Campbell s Ancient High 
land Tales "Maol A Chliobain" "The man in 
the tuft of wool" Alexander Macdonald Macin- 
tyre Modern poetry School-books The Gaelic 
langiiage Gaelic music. 

THE literature of the Highlands, although not 
extensive, is varied, and has excited not a little 
interest in the world of letters. The exist 
ing remains are of various ages, carrying us 
back, in the estimation of some writers, to the 
second century, while contributions are making 
to it still, and are likely to be made for several 

It has been often said that the literature of 
the Celts of Ireland was much more extensive 
than that of the Celts of Scotland that the 
former were in fact a more literary people- 
that the ecclesiastics, and medical men, and 
historians (seanachies) of Scotland had less 
culture than those of the sister island, and 
that they must be held thus to have been a 
stage behind them in civilisation and pro 
gress. Judging by the remains which exist, 
there seems to be considerable ground for such 


a conclusion. Scotland can produce nothing 
like the MS. collections in possession of Trinity 
College Dublin, or the Royal Irish Academy. 
There are numerous fragments of considerable 
value in the Advocates Library, Edinburgh, 
and in the hands of private parties throughout 
Scotland, but there is nothing to compare with 
the Book of Lecan, Ledbliar na h-uidkre, and 
the other remains of the ancient literary culture 
cf Ireland, which exist among the collections 
now brought together in Dublin ; nor with 
such remains of what is called Irish scholar 
ship as are to be found in Milan, Brussels, and 
other places on the continent of Europe. 

At the same time there is room for ques 
tioning how far the claims of Ireland to the 
whole of that literature are good. Irish scholars 
are not backward in pressing the claims of 
their own country to everything of any interest 
that may be called Celtic. If we acquiesce in 
these claims, Scotland will be left without a 
shred of aught which she can call her own in 
the way of Celtic literature ; and there is a 
class of Scottish scholai s who, somewhat more 
generous than discriminating, have been dis 
posed to acquiesce but too readily in those 
claims. "We have our doubts as to Ireland 
having furnished Scotland with its Gaelic popu 
lation, and we have still stronger doubts as 
to Ireland having been the source of all the 
Celtic literature which she claims. A cer 
tain class of writers are at once prepared to 
allow that the Bobbio MSS. and those other 
continental Gaelic MSS. of which Zeuss has 
made such admirable use in his Grammatica 
C etticM, are all Irish, and they are taken as 
illustrative alike of the zeal and culture of the 
early Irish Church. And yet there is no evi 
dence of such being the case. The language 
certainly is not Irish, nor are the names of such 
of the writers as are usually associated Avith the 
writings. Columbanus, the founder of the 
Bobbio Institution, may have been an Irish 
man, but he may have been a Scotchman. He 
may have gone from Durrow, but he may have 
gone from lona. The latter was no less 
famous than the former, and had a staff of men 
quite as remarkable. We have authentic 
information regarding its ancient history. It 
sent out Aidan to Northumberland, and nume 
rous successors after him, and there is much 

presumptive evidence that many of these early 
missionaries took their departure from Scotland, 
and carried with them their Scottish literature 
to the Continent of Europe. And the lan 
guage of the writers is no evidence to the con 
trary. In so far as the Gaelic was written at this 
early period, the dialect used was common to Ire 
land and Scotland. To say that a work is Irish 
because written in what is called the Irish dia 
lect is absurd. There was no such thing as an 
Irish dialect. The written language of the whole 
Gaelic race was long the same throughout, and 
it would have been impossible for any man to 
have said to which of the sections into which 
that race was divided any piece of writing 
belonged. This has long been evident to muu 
who have made a study of the question, but 
recent relics of Scottish Gaelic which have 
come to light, and have been published, put the 
matter beyond a doubt. Mr Whitley Stokes, 
than whom there is no better authority, has 
said of a passage in the " Book of Deer" that the 
language of it is identical with that of the MSS. 
which form the basis of the learned grammar 
of Zeuss : and there can be no doubt that the 
" Book of Deer" is of Scottish authorship. It 
is difficult to convince Irish scholars of this, 
but it is no less true on that account. Indeed, 
what is called the Irish dialect has been em 
ployed for literary purposes in Scotland down 
to a recent period, the first book in the ver 
nacular of the Scottish Highlands having been 
printed so lately as the middle of last century. 
And it is important to observe that this lite 
rary dialect, said to be Irish, is nearly as far 
apart from the ordinary Gaelic vernacular of 
Ireland as it is from that of Scotland. 

But besides this possibility of having writings 
that are really Scottish counted as Irish from 
their being written in the same dialect, the 
Gaelic literature of Scotland has suffered from 
other causes. Among these were the changes 
in the ecclesiastical condition of the country 
which took place from time to time. First of 
all there was the change which took place 
under the government of Malcolm III. (Ceann- 
mor) and his sons, which led to the downfall 
of the ancient Scottish Church, and the sup 
planting of it by the Eoman Hierarchy. 
Any literature existing in the 12th century 
j would have been of the older church, and 



would have little interest for the institution 
which took its place. That there was such 
a literature is obvious from the " Book of 
Deer," and that it existed among all the insti 
tutions of a like kind in Scotland is a fair and 
reasonable inference from the existence and 
character of that book. Why this is the only 
fragment of such a literature remaining is a 
question of much interest, which may per 
haps be solved by the fact that the clergy 
nf the later church could have felt little in 
terest in preserving the memorials of a period 
which, they must have been glad to have seen 
passed away. Then the Scottish Reformation 
and the rise of the Protestant Church, how 
ever favourable to literature, would not have 
been favourable to the preservation of such 
literature. The old receptacles of such writings 
were broken up, and their contents probably 
destroyed or dispersed, as associated with what 
was now felt to be a superstitious worship. 
There is reason to believe that the Kilbride 
collection of MSS. now in the Advocates 
Library, and obtained from the family of 
Maclachlan of Kilbride, was to some extent a 
portion of the old library of lona, one of the 
last Abbots of which was a Eerquhard 
M Lachlan. 

Besides these influences, unfavourable to the 
preservation of the ancient literature of the 
Scottish Highlands, we have the fierce raid 
of Edward I. of England into the country, and 
the carrying away of all the national muni 
ments. Some of these were in all probability 
Gaelic. A Gaelic king and a Gaelic kingdom 
were then things not long past in Scotland ; 
and seeing they are found elsewhere, is there 
not reason to believe that among them were 
lists of Scottish and Pictish kings, and other 
documents of historical importance, such as 
formed the basis of those Bardic addresses 
made by the royal bards to the kings on the 
occasion of their coronation ? These might 
have been among the records afterwards in 
tended to be returned to Scotland, and which 
perished in the miserable shipwreck of the 
vessel that bore them. These causes may 
account for the wane of a more extensive 
ancient Celtic literature in Scotland, and for 
the more advantageous position occupied in 
this respect by Ireland. Ireland neither suf 

fered from the popular feeling evoked at the 
Reformation, nor from the spoliations of an 
Edward of England, as Scotland did. And 
hence the abundant remains still existing of a 
past literature there. 

And yet Scotland does not altogether want 
an ancient Celtic literature, and the past few 
years have done much to bring it to light. It 
is not impossible that among our public li 
braries and private repositories relics may be 
still lying of high interest and historical value, 
and which more careful research may yet bring 
into view. The Dean of Lismore s book has 
only been given to the world within the last 
six years, and more recently still we have the 
" Book of Deer," a relic of the llth or 12th 

On taking a survey of this literature, it 
might be thought most natural to commence 
with the Ossianic remains, both on account of 
the prominence which they have received arid 
the interest and controversy they have excited, 
and also because they are held by many to have 
a claim to the highest antiquity, to be the off 
spring of an age not later than the 2d or 3d 
century. But it is usual to associate literature 
with writing, and as the Gaelic language has 
been a written one from a very early period, 
we think it best to keep up this association, 
and to take up the written remains of the 
language as nearly as may be in their chrono 
logical order. The first of these to which refer 
ence may be made is 


This poem is found in a MS. given to the 
Highland Society by Lord Bannatyne, and 
now in the archives of the Advocates Library. 
The date of the MS. is 1238, but there is 
every reason to believe that the poem is of 
much higher antiquity. The preserved copy 
bears to have been written at Glenmasan, a 
mountain valley in the parish of Dunoon, in 
Cowal. The MS, contains other fragments of 
tales in prose, but we shall refer only to the 
poetical story of Deirdre, or, as it is usually 
called in Gaelic, " Dan Chloinn Uisneachain." 
The tale is a famous one in the Highlands, 
and the heroes of it, the sons of Usnoth, have 
given name to Dun Mhac Uisneachain, or Dun 
Mac Sniochain, said to be the Roman Bere- 



gonium, in the parish of Ardchattan in Argyle- poem as it appears in the Eeport of the High- 
shire. We give the following version of the land Society on the Poems of Ossian (p. 298). 

Do deck Dcardir ar a heise ar crichibh Alban, agus 
ro chan an Laoidh 

Inmain tir in tir ud thoir, 

Alba cona lingantaibh 

Nocha ticfuinn eisdi ille 

Mana tisain le Naise. 

Inmain Dun Fidhgha is Dun Finn 

Inmain in Dun os a cinn 

Inmain Inis Draignde 

Is inmain Dun Silibnei. 

Caill cuan gar tigeadh Ainnle mo nuar 

Fagair lim ab bitan 

Is Naise an oirear Alban. 

Glend Laidh do cliollain fan mboirmin caoimh 

lasg is sieng is saill bruich 

Fa hi mo cliuid an Glend laigh. 

Glend masain ard a crimh geal a gasain 

Do nimais colladh corrach 

Os Inbhar mungach Masain. 

Glend Eitchi ami do togbhus mo died tigh 

Alaind a fidh iar neirghe 

Buaile grene Ghlind eitchi. 

Mo chen Glend Urcliaidh 

Ba hedh in Glend direach dromchaiu 

Uallcha feara aoisi ma Naise 

An Glend Urchaidh. 

Glend da ruadh 

Mo chen gacli fear da na dual 

Is binn guth cuach 

Ar craeib chruim 

Ar in mbinn os Glenndaruadh 

Inmain Draighen is tren traigh 

Inmain Auicnd in ghainimh glain 

Nocha ticfuin eisde anoir 

Mana tisuinn lem Inmain. 

There is some change in the translation as 
compared with that given in the Highland 
Society s Eeport, the meaning, however, being 
nearly identical in both. The tale to which 
this mournful lyric is attached, the story of 
the children of Usnoth and their sad fate, 
bears that Conor was king of Ulster. Visiting 
on one occasion the house of Feilim, his sean- 
acliie, Feilim s wife, was delivered of a daughter 
while the king was in the house. Cathbad the 
Druid, who was present, prophesied that many 
disasters should befal Ulster on account of the 
child then born. The king resolved to bring 
her up as his own future wife, and for this 
end enclosed her in a tower where she was 
excluded from all intercourse with men, except 
her tutor, her nurse, and an attendant called 
Lavarcam. It happened that in the course of 
time, by means of this Lavarcam, she came to 
see Naos, the son of Usnoth. She at once 
formed a warm affection for him; the affection 

English Translation. 

Deirdre looked back on the land of A Iban, and sung 
this lay : 

Beloved is that eastern land, 

Alba (Scotland), with its lakes. 

Oh that I might not depart from it, 

Unless I were to go with Naos ! 

Beloved is Dunfigha and Dunfin. 

Beloved is the Dun above it. 

Beloved is Inisdraiyen (Imstrynich?), 

And beloved is Dun Sween. 

The forest of the sea to which Ainnle would come, 


I leave for ever, 

And Naos, on the seacoast of Alban. 
Glen Lay (Glen Luy ?), I would sleep by its gentle 


Fish and venison, and the fat of meat boiled, 
Such would be my food in Glen Lay. 
Glenmasan ! High is its wild garlic, fair Its 


I would sleep wakefully 
Over the shaggy Invermasan. 
Glen Etive ! in which I raised my first house, 
Delightful were its groves on rising 
When the sun struck on Glen Etive. 
My delight was Glen Urchay ; 
It is the straight vale of many ridges. 
Joyful were his fellows around Naos 
In Glen Urchay. 
Glendaruadh (Glendaruel ?), 
My delight in every man who belongs to it. 
Sweet is the voice of the cuckoo 
On the bending tree, 
Sweet is it above Glendaruadh. 
Beloved is D raven of the sounding shore 1 
Beloved is Avich (Dalavich ?) of the pure sand. 
Oh that I might not leave the east 
Unless it were to come along with me ! Beloved 

was reciprocated, and ISTaos and Deirdre, by 
which name the young woman was called, fled 
to Scotland, accompanied by Ainle and Ardan, 
the brothers of ISTaos. Here they were kindly 
received by the king, and had lands given them 
for their support. It is not unlikely that these 
lands were in the neighbourhood of Dun 
Mhac Uisneachain in Lorn. Here they lived 
long and happily. At length Conor desired 
their return, and sent a messenger to Scotland, 
promising them welcome and security in Ire 
land if they would but return. Deirdre strongly 
objected, fearing the treachery of Conor, but 
she was overruled by the urgency of her hus 
band and his brothers. They left Scotland, 
Deirdre composing and singing the above 
mournful lay. In Ireland they were at first 
received with apparent kindness, but soon after 
the house in which they dwelt was surrounded 
by Conor and his men. and after deeds of 
matchless valour the three brothers were put 



to death, in defiance of Conor s pledge. The 
broken hearted Deirdre cast herself on the 
grave of Naos and died, having first composed 
and sung a lament for his death. This is 
one of the most touching in the catalogue of 
Celtic tales; and it is interesting to observe 
the influence it exerted over the Celtic mind 
by its effect upon the topographical nomen 
clature of the country. There are several Dun 
Deirdres to be found still. One is prominent 
in the vale of the Nevis, near Fortwilliam, and 
another occupies the summit of a magnificent 
rock overhanging Loch Ness, in Stratherrick. 
Naos, too, has given his name to rocks, and 
woods, and lakes ranging from Ayrshire to 
Inverness-shire, but the most signal of all is 
the great lake which fills the eastern portion 
of the Caledonian valley, Loch Ness. The 
old Statistical Account of Inverness states 
that the name of this lake was understood to 
be derived from some mythical person among 
the old Celts ; and there can be little doubt 
that the person was Naos. The lake of Naos 
(Naise in the genitive), lies below, and over 
hanging it is the Tower of Deirdre. The pro 
pinquity is natural, and the fact is evidence of 
the great antiquity of the tale. 

There are other MSS. of high antiquity in 
existence said to be Scotch; but it is sufficient 
to refer for an account of these to the Appendix 
to the Report of the Highland Society on the 
Poems of Ossian, an account written by an 
admirable Celtic scholar, Dr Donald Smith, 
the brother of Dr John Smith of Campbel- 
town, so distinguished in the same field. 

The next relic of Celtic literature to which 
we refer is 


This is a vellum MS. of eighty-six folios, 
about six inches long by three broad, discovered 
in the University Library of Cambridge, by 
Mr Bradshaw, the librarian of the University. 
It had belonged to a distinguished coUector of 
books, Bishop Moore of Norwich, and after 
wards of Ely, whose library was presented to 
the University more than a century ago. The 
chief portion of the book is in Latin, and is 

said to be as old as the 9th century. This 
portion contains the Gospel of St John, and 
portions of the other three Gospels. The MS. 
also contains part of an Office for the visitation 
of the sick, and the Apostles Creed. There is 
much interest in this portion of the book as 
indicative of the state of learning in the Celtic 
Church at the time. It shows that the eccle 
siastics of that Church kept pace with the age 
in which they lived, that they knew their 
Bible, and could both write and read in 
Latin. The MS. belonged to a Culdee estab 
lishment, and is therefore a memorial of the 
ancient Celtic Church. It is a pity that we 
possess so few memorials of that Church, con 
vinced as we are that, did we know the truth, 
many of the statements made regarding it by 
men of a different age, and belonging to a 
differently constituted ecclesiastical system, 
would be found to be unsupported by the 
evidence. It is strange that if the Culdee 
establishments were what many modern writers 
make them to have been, they should have had 
so many tokens of their popularity as this 
volume exhibits ; and we know well that that 
Church did not fall before the assaults of a 
hostile population, but before those of a hostile 

But the more interesting portion of the 
Book of Deer, in connection with our inquiry, 
will be found in the Gaelic entries on the 
margin and in the vacant spaces of the volume. 
These have all been given to the world in the 
recent publication of portions of the book by 
the Spalding Club, under the editorship of 
Dr John Stuart. Celtic scholars are deeply 
indebted to the Spalding Club for this admir 
able publication, and although many of them 
will differ from the editor in some of the views 
which he gives in his accompanying disquisi 
tions, and even in some of the readings of the 
Gaelic, they cannot but feel indebted to him 
for the style in which he has furnished them 
with the original, for it is really so, in tne 
plates which the volume contains. On these 
every man can comment for himself and form 
his own inferences, 
this MS. 

We have given us in 




Columcille acusdrostan mac cosgreg adalta tan- 
gator ahi marroalseg dia doib gome abbordoboir acus- 
bede cruthnec robomormser buchan araginn acusesse 
rothidnaig doib ingathraig sain insaere gobraith omor- 
maer acusothosec.tangator asaathle sen incathraig ele 
acusdoraten ricolumcille si iarfallan dorath de acus- 
dorodloeg arinmormffirrbede gondas tabrad do acus- 
m tharat acusrogab mac do galar iarnere naglerec acus- 
robomareb act madbec iarsen dochuid inmonnaer 
dattdc naglerec gondendaes ernacde les inmac gondisad 
slante do acusdorat inedbairt doib uacloic intiprat 
gonice chloic petti mic garnait doronsat innernacde 
acustanic slante do; Iarsen dorat collumcille dodros- 
tan inchadraig sen acusrosbenact acusforacaib im- 
brether gebe tisaid ris nabad blienec buadacc tangator 
deara drostan arscarthain fri collumcille rolaboir 
columcille bedear anirn 6 hunn imacc. 

Such is the legend of the foundation of the 
old monastery of Deer, as preserved in this book, 
and written probably in the twelfth century. It 
was in all probability handed down from the 
close of the sixth or from a later period, but it 
must not be forgotten that a period of six hun 
dred years had elapsed between the events here 
recorded and the record itself as it appears. 
It is hard to say whether Columba ever made 
this expedition to Buchan, or whether Drostan, 
whose name is in all likelihood British, lived 
in the time of Columba. The Aberdeen 
Breviary makes him nephew of the saint, but 
there is no mention of him in this or any 
other connection by early ecclesiastical writers, 
and there is every reason to believe that he 
belonged to a later period. It was of some 
consequence at this time to connect any such 
establishment as that at Deer with the name of 
Columba. There is nothing improbable in its 
having been founded by Drostan. 

It is interesting to observe several tilings 
which are brought to light by this legend of 
the twelfth century. It teaches us what the 
men of the period believed regarding the sixth. 
The ecclesiastics of Deer believed that their 
own institution had been founded so early as 
the sixth century, and clearly that they were 
the successors of the founders. If this be true, 
gospel light shone among the Picts of Buchan 
almost as soon as among the people of lona. 
It has been maintained that previous to Co- 
lumba s coming to Scotland the country had felt 

English Translation, 

Columcille and Drostan, son of Cosgreg, his pupil, 
came from I as God revealed to them to Aberdour, and 
Bede the Pict was Mormaor of Buchan before them, 
and it was he who gifted to them that town in free 
dom for ever from mormaor and toiseach. After that 
they came to another town, and it pleased Colunicille, 
for it was full of the grace of God, and he asked it of 
the Mormaor, that is Bede, that he would give it to 
him, and he would not give it, and a son of his took 
a sickness after refusing the clerics, and he was dead 
but a little. After that the Mormaor went to entreat 
of the clerics that they would make prayer for the son 
that health might come to him, and he gave as an 
offering to them from Cloch an tiprat (the stone of the 
well) as far as Cloch Pit mac Garnad (the stone of 
Pitmacgarnad). They made the prayer, and health 
came to him. After that Collumcille gave that town 
to Drostan, and he blessed it, and left the word, 
Whosoever comes against it, let him not be long- 
lived or successful. Drostau s tears came (Deara) on 
separating from Collumcille. Collumcille said, Let 
Deer (Tear) be its name from hence forward. 

powerfully the influence of Christianity, 1 and 
the legend of Deer would seem to corroborate 
the statement. From the palace of Brude the 
king, in the neighbourhood of Inverness, on to 
the dwelling of the Mormaor, or Governor of 
Buchan, Christianity occupied the country so 
early as the age of Columba. But this is a 
legend, and must not be made more of than it 
is worth. Then this legend gives iis some 
view of the civil policy of the sixth century, as 
the men of the twelfth viewed it. The chief 
governor of Buchan was Bede, the same name 
with that of the venerable Northumbrian 
historian of the eighth century. He is simply 
designated as Cruthnec (Cruithneach) or the 
Pict. Was this because there were other in 
habitants in the country besides Picts at the 
time, or because they were Picts in contrast 
with the people of that day 1 The probability 
is, that these writers of the twelfth century 
designated Bede as a Pict, in contradistinction 
to themselves, who were probably of Scotic 
origin. Then the names in this document are 
of interest. Besides that of Bede, we have 
Drostan and Cosgreg, his father, and Garnaid. 
Bede, Drostan, Cosgreg, and Garnaid, are 
names not known in the Gaelic nomenclature 
of Scotland or Ireland. And there are names 
of places, Aberdobhoir, known as Aberdour to 
this day, Buchan also in daily use, Cloch in 
tiprat not known now, and Pit mac garnaid also 

1 Early Scottish Church, p. 146. 



become obsolete. Aberdobhoir (Aberdwfr) is 
purely a British name ; Buchan, derived from 
the British Bwch, a cow, is also British ; Pit 
mac garnaid, with the exception of the Mac, is 
not Gaelic, so that the only Gaelic name in the 
legend is Cloch in tiprat, a merely descriptive 
term. This goes far to show what the cha 
racter of the early topography of Scotland 
really is. 

Then there is light thrown upon the civil 
arrangements of the Celtic state. We read 
nothing of chiefs and clans, but we have Mor- 
maors (great officers), and Toiseachs (leaders), 
the next officer in point of rank, understood 
to be connected with the military arrangements 
of the country, the one being the head of the 
civil and the other of the military organisation. 
At this time there was a Celtic kingdom in 
Scotland, with a well established and well 
organised government, entirely different from 
what appears afterwards under the feudal 
system of the Anglo-Saxons, when the people 
became divided into clans, each under their 
separate chiefs, waging perpetual war with each 
other. Of all this the Book of Deer cannot 
and does not speak authoritatively, but it 
indicates the belief of the twelfth century with 
regard to the state of the sixth. 

The farther Gaelic contents of the Book of 
Deer are notices of grants of land conferred by 
the friends of the institution. None of these 
are real charters, but the age of charters had 
come, and it was important that persons hold 
ing lands should have some formal title to 
them. Hence the notices of grants inscribed 
on the margin of this book, all without date, 
save that there is a copy of a Latin charter of 
David I., who began his reign in the year 

The memoranda of grants to the monastery 
are in one case headed with the following 
blessing Acas bennact inchomded arcecmor- 
mar acusarcectosech chomallfas acusdansil 
daneis. " And the blessing of the one God on 
every governor and every leader who keeps 
this, and to their seed afterwards." The first 
grant recorded follows immediately after the 
legend given above. It narrates that Com- 
geall mac eda gave from Orti to Furene to 
Columba and to Drostan ; that Moridacn 
M Morcunn gave Pit mac Garnait and Acharl 

toche temni, the former being Mormaor and 
the latter Toiseach. Matain M Caerill gave a 
Mormaor s share in Altin (not Altere, as in the 
Spalding Club s edition), and Culn (not Culii) 
M Batin gave the share of a Toiseach. Dom- 
nall M Giric and Maelbrigte M Cathail gave 
Pett in muilenn to Drostan. Cathal M Mor- 
cunt gave Achad naglerech to Drostan. Dom- 
nall M Ruadri and Malcolum M Culeon gave 
Bidbin to God and to Drostan. Malcolum 
M Cinatha (Malcolm the Second) gave a king s 
share in Bidbin and in Pett M Gobroig, and 
two davachs above Rosabard. Malcolum 
M Mailbrigte gave the Delerc. Malsnecte 
M Luloig gave Pett Malduib to Drostan. 
Domnall M Meic Dubhacin sacrificed every 
offering to Drostan. Cathal sacrificed in the 
same manner his Toiseach s share, and gave 
the food of a hundred every Christmas, and 
every Pasch to God and to Drostan. Kenneth 
Mac meic Dobarcon and Cathal gave Alterin 
alia from Te (Tigh) na Camon as far as 
the birch tree between the two Alterins. 
Domnall and Cathal gave Etdanin to God 
and to Drostan. Cainneach and Domnall and 
Cathal sacrificed all these offerings to God and 
to Drcstan from beginning to end free, from 
Mormaors and from Toiseachs to the day of 

It will be observed that some of the words in 
this translation are different from those given 
in the edition of the Spalding Club. Some 
of the readings in that edition, notwithstand 
ing its general accuracy, are doubtful. In 
the case of uethe na camone, unless the ue 
is understood as standing for from, there is no 
starting point at all in the passage describing 
the grant. Besides, we read Altin allend, as 
the name of Altin or Alterin in another grant. 
This seems to have escaped the notice of the 
learned translator. 

These grants are of interest for various rea 
sons. We have first of all the names of the 
grantees and others, as the names common 
during the twelfth and previous centuries, for 
these grants go back to a period earlier than the 
reign of Malcolm the Second, when the first 
change began to take place in the old Celtic 
system of polity. We have such names as Com- 
geall Mac Eda, probably Mac Aoidh, or, as spelt 
now in English, Mackay ; Moridach M Mor- 



cunn (Morgan}, or, as now spelt, M Morran; 
Matain MCaerill, Matthew M Kerroll ; Gain 
M Bat in, Colin M Bean; Domhnall M Girig, 
Donald M Erig (Gregor or Eric?); Mallmgte 
APGathail, Gilbert M Kail ; Cathal M Mor- 
cunt, Cathal M Morran ; Domhnall M Ruadri, 
Donald M Rory ; Malcolum M Gideon, Malcolm 
M Colin ; Malcolum M Cinnatha, Malcolm 
M Kenneth, now M Kenzie. This was king 
Malcolm the Second, whose Celtic designation 
is of the same character with that of the other 
parties in the notice. Malcolum M Mailbrigte, 
Malcolm M Malbride ; the nearest approach to 
the latter name in present use is Gilbert. 
Malsnecte M Luloig, Malsnechta M Lulaieh. 
The former of these names is obsolete, but 
M Lullich is known as a surname to this day. 
Domnall M Meic Dubhacin (not Dubbacin), 
the latter name not known now. The name 
Dobharcon is the genitive of Dobharcu, an 
otter. The names of animals were frequently 
applied to men at the time among the Celts. 
The father of King Brude was Mialchn, a 
greyhound. Loilgheach (Lulach), a man s 
name, is in reality a milch cow. 

The next set of grants entered on the mar 
gin of this remarkable record are as follows : 

Donchad M Meic Bead mec Hidid (pro 
bably the same with Eda, and therefore Aoidh), 
gave Acchad Madchor to Christ and to Dros- 
tan and to Coluimcille ; Malechi and Comgell 
and Gillecriosd M Fingun witnesses, and Mal- 
coluim M Molini. Cormac M Cennedig gave as 
far as Scali merlec. Comgell M Caennaig, the 
Toiseach of Clan Canan, gave to Christ and 
to Drostan and to Columcille as far as the 
Gortlie mor, at the part nearest to Aldin 
Alenn, from Dubuci to Lurchara, both hill and 
field free from Toiseachs for ever, and a blessing 
on those who observe, and a curse on those 
who oppose this. 

The names here are different from those in 
the former entry, with few exceptions. They 
are Duncan, son of Macbeth, son of Hugh or 
Ay, Malachi, Comgall, Gilchrist M Kinnon, 
and Malcolm M Millan, Comgall M Caennaig 

(M x Coinnich or M Kenzie ?) In this entry we 
have the place which is read Altere and 
Alterin by Mr Whitley Stokes. It is here 
entered as Aldin Alenn, as it is in a former 
grant entered as Altiu. In no case is the 

er written in full, so that Alterin is a guess. 
But there is no doubt that Aldin Alenn 
and Alterin alia are the same place. If it 
be Alterin the Alia may mean rough, stony, 
as opposed to a more level and smooth place 
of the same name. It will be observed that 
in this entry the name of a clan appears 
Claude Canan (Clann Chanain). There was 
such a clan in Argyleshire who were treasurers 
of the Argyle family, and derived their name 
from the Gaelic Cain, a Tax. It is not impro 
bable that the name in Buchan might have 
been applied to a family of hereditary tax- 

The next series of grants entered on the 
margin of the " Book of Deer" are as follows : 
Colbain Mormaor of Buchan, and Eva, 
daughter of Gartnait, his wife, and Donnalic 
M Sithig, the Toiseach of Clenni Morgainn, 
sacrificed all the offerings to God and to 
Drostan, and to Columcilli, and to Peter the 
Apostle, from all the exactions made on a 
portion of four davachs, from the high monas 
teries of Scotland generally and the high 
churches. The witnesses are Brocein and 
Cormac, Abbot of Turbruaid, and Morgann 
M Donnchaid, and Gilli Petair M Donnchaid, 
and Malaechin, and the two M Matni, and the 
chief men of Buchan, all as witnesses in Elain 

The names in this entry are Colban, the 
mormaor, a name obsolete now although it 
would seem to appear in M Cubbin Eva, and 
Gartnait. The former seems to have been the 
Gaelic form of Eve, and the latter, the name 
of Eva s father; is gone out of use, unless it 
appear in M Carthy Donnalic (it is Donna- 
chac, as transcribed in the edition of the Spald- 
ing Club), M Sithig or Donnalic M Keich, the 
surname well known still in the Highlands 
Brocein, the little badger, Cormac, Morgan, 
Gillepedair, Malcechin, the servant of Each- 
ainn or Hector, and M Mutni or M Mahon, the 
English Matheson. There is another instance 
here of a clan, the clan Morgan. 

The most of these names must be understood 
merely as patronymic, the son called, accord 
ing to the Celtic custom, after the name of his 
father. There is no reason to think that these 
were clan names in the usual sense. King 
Malcolm II. is called Malcolum M Cinnatha, 




or Malcolm the son of Kenneth, but it would 
be sufficiently absurd to conclude that Malcolm 
was a Mackenzie. And yet there are two 
clans referred to in these remarkable records, 
the clan Canan and the clan Morgan. There 
is no reason to believe that either the Buch 
anans of Stirlingshire or of Argyleshire had 
any connection with the tribe of Canan men 
tioned here ; but it is possible that the Mackays 
of the Beay country, whose ancient name was 
Clan Morgan, may have derived their origin 
from Buchan. It is interesting to observe 
that the Toiseachs are associated with these 
clans, Oomgeli Mac Caennaig being called the 
Toiseacli of Clan. Canan, and Donnalic M- Siting 
the Toiseacli of Clan Morgan, although neither 
of the men are designated by the clan name, 
[t would seem that under the Mormaors the 
family system existed and Avas acknowledged, 
the Mormaor being the representative of the 
king, and the Toiseach the head of the sept, 
who led his followers to battle when called 
upon to do so. At the same tune the clan 
system would seem to have been in an entirely 
different condition from that to which it at 
tained after the introduction of the feudal 
system, when the chiefs for the first time got 
feudal titles to their lands. 

Many other inferences might be made from 
these interesting records, It is enough, how 
ever, to say that they prove beyond a ques 
tion the existence of a literary culture and a 
social organisation among the ancient Celts 
for which they do not always get credit ; and 
if such a book existed at Deer, what reason is 
there to doubt that similar books were nume 
rously dispersed over the other ecclesiastical 
institutions of the country ? 

A eoleha Alban uile, 
A shluagh feuta foltbhuidhe, 
Cia ceud ghabhail, au e61 duibh, 
Ro ghabhasdair Albanbruigh. 

Albanus ro ghabh, lia a shlogh, 
Mac sen oirderc Isicon, 
Brathair is Briutus gan brath, 
raitear Alba eathvach. 

Ro ionnarb a brathair bras, 
Briotus tar muir n-Icht-n-amhnas, 
Ro gabh Briutus Albain ain, 
Go rinn fhiadhnach Fotudain. 

Fota iar m-Briutus m-blaith, m-bil, 
Ro ghabhsad Clanna Nemhidh, 
Erglan iar teacht as a loing, 
Do aithle tboghla thuir Conning. 

There is one curious entry towards the close 
of the MS. " Forckubus caicliduini imUa 
arrath in lebran, colli. aratardda bendacht 

foranmain in truagan rodscribai 7," 

which is thus translated by Mr Whitley 
Stokes : " Be it on the conscience of every 
one in whom shall be for grace the booklet 
with splendour: that he give a blessing on the 
soul of the wretchock who wrote it." 

This is probably the true rneaning of the 
Gaelic. But the original might be rendered 
in English by the following translation : 
Let it be on the conscience of each man 
in whom shall be for good fortune the 
booklet with colour, that he give a blessing 
on the soul of the poor one who wrote it." 
Rath is good fortune, and li is colour, referring 
probably to the coloured portions of the writ 
ing, and Truaghan is the Gaelic synonym of 
the "miserus" or " miserimus " of the old 
Celtic church. Mr Whitley Stokes, as quoted 
by Dr Stuart, says (p. lx), " In point of lan 
guage this is identical with the oldest Irish 
glosses in ^euss Grammatica Celtica" 


This relic of Celtic literature might have 
been taken as chronologically preceding the 
Book of Deer, but while portions of the latter 
are looked upon as having been written pre 
vious to the ninth century, the former, su 
far as we know, is of the age of Malcolm III. 
It is said to have been sung by the Gaelic 
bard of the royal house at the coronation of 
Malcolm. It is transcribed here as it appears 
in the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, where 
it is given as copied from the M Firbis MS. 
in the Royal Irish Academy : 

English Translation, 
Ye learned of Alban altogether 
Ye people shy, yellow-haired 
Which was the first invasion, do ye know 
That took the land of Alban ? 

Albanus took it, active his men, 
That famous son of Isacon, 
The brother of Briutus without guile 
From whom Alba of the ships is said. 

Briutus banished his bold brother 

Over the stormy sea of Icht. 

Briutus took the beautiful Alban 

To the tempestuous promontory of Fotudan. 

Long after Briutus the noble, the good, 

The race of Neirahidh took it, 

Erglan, after coming out of his ship 

After the destruction of the tower of Conain". 




Cruithnigh ros gabhsad iarttain, 
Tar ttiachtain a h-Erean-mhuigh, 
.X.righ tri tichid righ ran, 
Gabhsad diobh an Cruithean-chlar. 

Cathluan an ced righ diobh-soin, 
Aisnedhfead daoibh go cumair, 
Rob e an righ degheanach dliibh 
An cur calma Cusaintin. 

Olanua Eathach ina n-diaigh, 
Gabhsad Albain iar n-airdghliaidh, 
Clanna Conaire an chaomhfhir, 
Toghaidhe na treun Ghaoidhil. 

Tri mec Ere mec Eachdach ait, 
Triar fuair beannachtair Patraicc, 
Ghabhsad Albain, ard a n-gus, 
Loarn, Fearghus, is Aonghus. 

Dech m-bliadhua Loarn, ler bladh, 
I fflaitheas Oirir Alban, 
Tar es Loarn fhel go n-gus, 
Seacht m-bliadhna ficheat Fearghus. 

Domhangart mac d Fheargus ard, 
Aireamh cuig m-bliadhan m-biothgarg, 
A .XXXIIII. gan troid, 
Do Comghall mac Domhangoirt. 

Da bhliadhan Conaing gan tair, 
Tar es Comhghaill do Gobhran, 
Ti bliadhna i o cnig gan roinn 
Ba ri Conall mac Comhghoill. 

Cethre bliadhna ficheat tall 

Ba ri Aodhan na n-iol-rann, 

Dech m-bliadhna fo seacht seol n-gle, 

I fflaitheas Eathach buidhe. 

Connchadh Cearr raitlie, rel bladli, 
A .XVI. dia mac Fearchar, 
Tar es Ferchair, feaghaidh rainn, 
.XIIII. bliadhna Domhnaill. 

Tar es Domhnaill brie na m-bla, 
Conall, Dunghall .X. m-bliadhna, 
.XIII. bliadhna Domhnaill duinn 
Tar es Dunghail is Chonail. 

Maolduin mac Conaill na ccreaeh 
A .XVII. do go dlightheach, 
Fearchair fadd, feagha leat, 
Do chaith bliadhain thai 1 .XX. 

Da bliadhain Eachdach na-n-each, 
Eo ba calma an ri rightheach, 
Aoin bhliadhain ba fiaith iarttain, 
Ainceallach maith mac Fearchair. 

Seachd m-bliadhna Dunghail dein, 
Acus a ceither do Ailpen, 
Tri bliadhna Muireadhiogh mhaith, 
. XXX. do Aodh na ardfhlaith. 

A ceathair ficheat, nir fhann, 
Do bhliadhnaibh do chaith Donihnall, 
Da bhliadhain Conaill, cem n-gle, 
Is a ceathair Ohonall ele. 

Naoi m-bliadhna Cusaintin chain, 
A naoi Aongusa ar Albain, 
Cethre bliadhna Aodha ain, 
Is a tri deng Eoghanain. 

Triocha bliadhain Cionaoith chruaidh, 
A ceathair Domhnall drechruaidh, 
.XXX. bliadhain co na bhrigh, 
Don churadh do Cusaintin. 

The Cruithne took it after that 
On coming out of Erin of the plain, 
Seventy noble kings of them 
Took the Cruithnean plain. 

Cathluan was the first king of them, 
I tell it you in order, 
The last king of them was 
The brave hero Constantine. 

The children of Eochy after them 
Seized Alban after a great fight, 
The children of Couair, the gentle man, 
The choice of the brave Gael. 

Three sons of Ere the son of Eochy the joyous, 
Three who got the blessing of Patrick, 
Seized Albau ; great was their courage, 
Lorn, Fergus, and Angus. 

Ten years to Lorn, by which was renown, 
In the sovereignty of Oirir Alban, 
After Lorn the generous and strong 
Seven and twenty years to Fergus. 

Domangart, son of the great Fergus, 
Had the number of five terrible years. 
Twenty-four years without a fight 
Were to Comghall son of Domangart. 

Two years of success without contempt 
After Comghall to Gobhran. 
Three years with five without division 
Was:kiug Conall son of Comghall. 

Four and twenty peaceful years 
Was king Aodhan of many songs. 
Ten years with seven, a true tale, 
In sovereignty Eochy buy. 

Connchadh Cearr a quarter, star of renown, 
Sixteen years to his son Ferchar, 
After Ferchar, see the poems, 
Thirteen years to Donald. 

After Donald breac of the shouts, 
Was Conall, Dungal ten years, 
Thirteen years Donald Donn 
After Dungal and Conall. 

Maolduin, son of Conall of spoils, 
Seventeen years to him rightfully. 
Ferchar fadd, see you it 
Spent one year over twenty. 

Two years was Eochy of steeds, 
Bold was the king of palaces. 
One year was king after that 
Aincellach the good, son of Ferchar. 

Seven years was Dungal the impetuous, 
And four to Ailpin. 
Three years Murdoch the good, 
Thirty to Aodh as high chief. 

Eighty, not feeble 

Years did Donald spend. 

Two years Conall, a noble course, 

And four another Conall. 

Nine years Constantine the mild, 
Nine Angus over Alban, 
Four years the excellent Aodh, 
And thirteen Eoghanan. 

Thirty years Kenneth the hardy, 
Four Donald of ruddy face, 
Thirty years with effect 
To the hero, to Constantine. 


Da bhliadhain, ba daor a dath, 
Da brathair do Aodh fhionnscothach, 
Domhnall mac Cusaintin chain, 
Ro chaith bliadhaiu fa cheathair. 

Cusaintin ba calma a glileac, 
Ro chaith a se is da fhicheat, 
Maolcoluim cethre bliadhna, 
londolbh a h-ocht airdriagla. 

Seacht m-bliadhna Dubhod det 
Acus a ceathair Cuilen, 
A .XXVII, os gach cloinn 
Do Cionaoth mac Maolcholuim. 

Seacht m-bliadhna Cusaintin cluin 
Acus a ceathair Macdhuibh 
Triochadh bliadhain, breacaid rainn 
Ba ri Monaidh Maolcoluim. 

Se bliadhna Donnchaid glain gaoith 
.XVII. bliadhna mac Fionnlaoich 
Tar es Mecbeathaidh go m-blaidh 
.vii mis i fflaithios Lughlaigh. 

Maolcholuim anosa as ri, 

Mac Donnchaidh dhata dhrechbhi, 

A re nocha n-fidir neach, 

Acht an t-eolach as eolach 

A eolcha. 

Da righ for chaogad, cliiine, 
Go mac Donuchaidh drech ruire, 
Do shiol Ere ardghlain anoir, 
Gabhsad Albain, a eolaigh. 

Although this poem is given in Gaelic as it 
appears in the Chronicles of the Picts and 
Scots, 2 the English translation differs in some 
places. At p. 60 Tri bliadhna fo cuig 3 is 
translated by Mr Skene "three years five 
times," while in the same page deck m- 
Uiadhna fo seacht is translated "ten years 
and seven." There is no apparent ground for 
such a distinction. So in p. 61 ceatliar ficheat, 
eighty, is translated " four and tw 3nty," which 
is at variance with the usus of the Gaelic lan 
guage. The above translation seems the true 

This poem is manifestly of great antiquity 
and of deep historical interest. Of the author 
ship little is known. It has been suggested 
that it is of Irish origin. 4 This is possible, for 
judging by the synchronisms of Flann Mainis- 
treach, the Irish seanachies were well informed 
on Scottish matters. But whether Irish or 
not, the whole poem refers to Scotland, and is 
entitled to a place among the Celtic remains 
of the country. It is our oldest and most 
authentic record of the Scottish kings, and in 

I ? 57 

Fo here and elsewhere in the poem seems to re 
present fa, upon, rather than ar, as Mr Skene sup 

4 Chronicles of Ike I lcts and Scots, Int. p. xxxvii. 

Two years, sad their complexion, 
To his brother Aodh the youthfully fair, 
Donald, son of Constantine the mild, 
Spent a year above four. 

Constantine, bold was his conflict 

Spent forty and six. 

Malcolm four years. 

Indulf eight in high sovereignty. 

Seven years Dubhoda the impetuous, 
And four Cuilen. 

And twenty-seven over all the tribes 
To Kenneth the son of Malcolm. 

Seven years Constantine, listen, 
And four to Macduff, 
Thirty years, the verses mark it, 
Was king of Monaidh, Malcolm. 

Six years was Duncan of pure wisdom, 
Seventeen years the son of Fiulay, 
After him Macbeth with renown, 
Seven months in sovereignty Lulach. 

Malcolm is now the king, 
Son of Duncan the yellow-coloured, 
His time knovveth no one 
But the knowing one who is knowing, 

Ye learned. 

Two kings over fifty, listen, 
To the son of Duncan of coloured face, 
Of the seed of Ere the noble, in the east, 
Possessed Alban, ye learned. 

this respect commended itself to the regard of 
Pinkerton, who was no friend of anything that 
was creditable to the Celts or helped to estab 
lish their claims. 


The name of Muireadhach Albannach is well 
known among the literary traditions of Celtic 
Scotland. In a curious genealogy by Lachlan 
Mac Mhuireadhaich or Vuirich, usually called 
Lachlan M Pherson, given in the Report of 
the Highland Society of Scotland on Ossian, 5 
the said Lachlan traces his own genealogy 
back through eighteen generations to this 
Muireadhach or Murdoch of Scotland, and 
states that his ancestors were bards to 
M Donald of Clanronald during the period. 
The original Murdoch was an ecclesiastic, and 
has probably given their name to the whole 
M Pherson clan. There is a curious poetical 
dialogue given in the Dean of Lismore s Book 
between him and Cathal Crodhearg, King of 
Connaught, who flourished in the close of the 
12th century, upon their entering at the same 
time on a monastic life. The poem would 
seem to show Murdoch to have been a man of 

6 P. 275. 


high birth, while his own compositions are 
evidence both of his religious earnestness and 
his poetical talent. Until the publication of 
the Dean of Lismore s book, it was not known 
that there were any remains of his composi- 

Mithich domh triall gu tigh Pharais, 
N uair a ghuin gun e soirbb. 
Cosnaim an tigh treun gun choire, 
Gun sgeul aig neacli eil oirnn. 
Dean do sriuth ri do shagairt 
S coir cuimhne ach gu dlu umad olc. 
Na beir do thigh righ gun agh 
Sgeul a s priomh ri agradh ort. 
Na dean folchainn a d pheacadh, 
Ge grain ri innseadh a h-olc ; 
Leigeadh de d chuid an cleith diomhar, 
Mur be angair a gabhail ort. 
Dean do shith ris an luchd-dreuchd, 
Ge dona, ge anmhuinn le d chor, 
Sguir ri d lochd, do ghul dean domhain, 
iMu m bi olc ri fhaighinn ort. 
Mairg a threigeadh tigh an Ardrigh, 
Aig ghradh peacaidh, turagh an ni, 
An t-olc ni duine gu diomhair 
lomadh an sin fiachan mu n ghniomh. 
Aig so searmoiu do shiol an Adhaimh, 
Mar shaoilim nach bheil se an bhreug, 
Fulang a bhais seal gu seachainn 
An fear nach domh gu n teid. 
Fhir a cheannaich siol an Adhaimh 
D fhuil, a cholla, us da chridhe, 
Air a reir gu n deanadh sealga, 
Ger ge dian ri m pheacadh mi. 

It is not necessary to give farther specimens 
of Murdoch of Scotland s poetry here, as those 
existing are very similar to the above ; but 
several specimens will be found in the Dean 
of Lismore s Book, from which the above is 
taken. The original has been difficult to read, 
and in consequence to render accurately, but 
there is little doubt that the real meaning of 
the poem is given. If the Book of Deer 
be a specimen of the Gaelic at the close of the 
12th century in the east of Scotland, the above 
is a specimen of the same language from the 
west, probably from the Hebrides. 


In 1408, Donald, Lord of the Isles, the hero 
of Harlaw, made a grant of lands in Islay to 
Brian Vicar Mackay, one of the old Mackays 
of the island. The charter conveying these 
lands still exists, and is written in. the Gaelic 
language. As it is now published by the 
Record Commission, it is not necessary to give 
it here, but it is a document of much interest, 
\\ritten by Fergus M Beth or Beaton, one of 

tions in existence, but that collection contains 
several, all on religious subjects. The follow 
ing is a specimen of his composition, and 
of the Gaelic poetry of the 12th or 13th 
century : 

English Translation. 

Tis time for me to go to the house of Paradise 
While this wound is not easily borne, 
Let me win this house, famous, faultless, 
While others can tell nought else of us. 
Confess thyself now to thy priest, 
Remember clearly all thy sins ; 
Carry not to the house of the spotless King 
Aught that may thee expose to charge. 
Conceal not any of thy sins 
However hateful its evil to tell ; 
Confess what has been done in secret, 
Lest thou expose thyself to wrath ; 
Make thy peace now with the clergy 
That thou mayst be safe as to thy state ; 
Give up thy sin, deeply repent, 
Lest its guilt be found in thee. 
Woe to him forsook the great King s house 
For love of sin, sad is the deed ; 
The sin a man commits in secret 
Much is the debt his sin incurs. 
This is a sermon for Adam s race, 
I think I ve nothing said that s false, 
Though men may death for a time avoid, 
Tis true they can t at length escape. 
Thou who hast purchased Adam s race, 
Their blood, their body, and their heart, 
The things we cherish thou dost assail 
However I may sin pursue. 6 

the famous Beatons who were physicians to 
the Lord of the Isles, and signed with the 
holograph of the great island chief himself. 
The lands conveyed are in the eastern part of 
the island, north of the Mull of Oa, and 
embrace such well-known places as Baile- 
Vicar, Cornabus, Tocamol, Cracobus, &c. 
The style of the charter is that of the usual 
feudal charters written in Latin, but the re 
markable thing is to find a document of the 
kind written in Gaelic at a time when such a 
thing was almost unknown in the Saxon, 
dialects of either Scotland or England. 


The Highlands seem to have had a large 
number of men of letters during the 15th 
century, and most of our existing manuscript 
materials seem to be of that age. These mate 
rials are of various kinds. They consist of 
short theological treatises, with traditional 
anecdotes of saints and others which seem to 

6 From Dean of Lismore s Book, with a few verbal 
alterations, p. 157. 



have been prevalent in the church at the 
time. One of the theological treatises now in 
the library of the Faculty of Advocates in 
Edinburgh, has reference to the Sacrament of 
the Supper, and maintains the purely Protestant 
doctrine that the sacrament can only profit 
those who receive it in faith. There are anec 
dotes of priests, often called by the Gaelic 
name of maighistir, which would indicate that 
the priests of the period had wives, and that 
the doctrine of celibacy had not then entered 
the Scottish church. 

Some of the manuscripts are genealogical, 
and as such are of much value to the Scottish 
historian. They show what the ideas of the 
seanachies of the thirteenth century were re 
garding the origin of the Highland clans. 
Some of these genealogical records have been 
published by the lona Club, and are in this 
way accessible to the general reader. They 
are indicative of the care taken at the period 
to, preserve memorials of family history, and 
were of value not only as conducing to the 
gratification of family pride, but to the pre 
servation of family property, inasmuch as these 
were the only means in accordance with which 
succession to property could be determined. 
The consequence is, that they are not always 
very reliable, favour being apt to bias the re 
corder on one side, just as enmity and ill-will 
were apt to bias him on the other. It is remark 
able how ready the seanachy of a hostile clan 
was to proclaim the line of the rival race 
illegitimate. This affects the value of these 
records, but they are valuable notwithstanding, 
and are to a considerable extent reliable, espe 
cially within the period where authentic infor 
mation could be obtained by the writer. 

A portion of these manuscripts deals with 
medical and metaphysical subjects, the two 
being often combined. We are hardly prepared 
to learn to how great an extent these subjects 
were studied at an early period in the High 
lands. We are apt to think that the region 
was a barbarous one without either art or 
science. A sight of the sculptures which dis 
tinguished the 14th and 15th centuries is 
prone to remove this impression. We find a 
style of sculpture still remaining in ancient 
crosses and gravestones that is characteristic 
of the Highlands ; elaborate ornaments of a 

distinct character, rich and well executed 
tracery, figures well designed and finished. 
Such sculptures, following upon those of the 
prehistoric period found still within the ancient 
Pictish territory, exist chiefly throughout the 
West Highlands, and indicate that one art, at 
least, of native growth, distinguished the Gaelic 
Celts of the Middle Ages. 

The medical manuscripts existing are chiefly 
the productions of the famous Macbeths or 
Beatons, the hereditary physicians of the Lords 
of the Isles for a long series of years. The 
charter of lands in Islay, already referred to, 
drawn out by Fergus Beaton, is of a date as early 
as 1408, and three hundred years after, men of 
the same race are found occupying the same posi 
tion. Hereditary physicians might seem to offer 
but poor prospects to their patients, and that 
especially at a time when schools of medicine 
were almost if not altogether unknown in the 
country ; but the fact is, that this was the only 
mode in which medical knowledge could be 
maintained at all. If such knowledge were not 
transmitted from father to son, the probability 
was that it would perish, just as was the case 
with the genealogical knowledge of the seana 
chies. This transmission, however, was pro 
vided for in the Celtic system, and while there 
was no doubt a considerable difference between 
individuals in the succession in point of mental 
endowments, they would all possess a certain 
measure of skill and acquirement as the result 
of family experience. These men were students 
of their science as it existed at the time. The 
Moors were then the chief writers on medicine. 
Averroes and Avicenna were men whose names 
were distinguished, and whose works, although 
little known now, extended to folios. Along 
with their real and substantial scientific acquire 
ments, they dived deep into the secrets of 
Astrology, and our Celtic students, while ready 
disciples of them in the former study, followed 
them most faithfully and zealously in the latter 
likewise. There are numerous medical and 
astrological treatises still existing written in 
the Gaelic language, and taken chiefly from 
the works of Moorish and Arabian writers. 
How these works reached the Scottish Hi^h- 


lands it is hard to say, nor is it easier to under 
stand how the ingredients of the medical 
prescriptions of these practitioners could bo 


obtained in a region so inaccessible at the 
time. The following specimen of the written 

"Labhrum anois do leighes na h-eslainti so oir is 
eigin nethi imda d fhaghbhail d a leighes ; ocus is e 
ced leighes is ferr do dhenamh dhi. 1. na lenna tru- 
aillighthi do glanad inaille cater fusia; oir a deir 
Avieenna s an 4 Can. co n-dein in folmhughadh na 
leanna loisgi d inarbad. An oilemhain bidh 
ocus dighi d ordughadh doibh ; an tres m, an t-adhbhar 
do dhileaghadh ; an a n-innarbadh go h-imlan ; 
an, fothraicthi do dhenum. doibh ; an, is eigin 
lictuber comhfhurtachta do thobhairt doib. An, 
is eigin neithi noch aentuighius riu do thobhairt 
doib muna roib an corp linta do droch-leannaibh." 

This extract is taken from an Irish manu 
script, but the language is identical with that 
in use in the writings of the Beatons. Celtic 
Scotland and Celtic Ireland followed the same 
system in medicine as in theology and poetry. 

The metaphysical discussions, if they may be 
so called, are very curious, being characterised 
by the features which distinguished the science 
of metaphysics at the time. The most remark 
able thing is that there are Gaelic terms to 
express the most abstract ideas in metaphysics ; 
terms which are now obsolete, and would 
not be understood by any ordinary Gaelic 
speaker. A perusal of these ancient writings 
shows how much the language has declined, 
and to what an extent it was cultivated at an 
early period. So with astrology, its terms are 
translated and the science is fully set forth. 
Tables are furnished of the position of the 
stars by means of which to foretell the cha 
racter of future events. Whatever literature 
existed in Europe in the 14th and 15th 
centuries, extended its influence to the Scottish 
Highlands. The nation was by no means in 
such a state of barbarism as some writers would 
lead us to expect. They had legal forms, for 
we have a formal legal charter of lands written 
in Gaelic ; they had medical men of skill and 
acquirement ; they had writers on law and 
theology, and they had men skilled in archi 
tecture and sculpture. 


"When the Highland Society of Scotland 
were engaged in preparing their report on the 
poems of Ossian, they thought it important to 
search with all possible diligence after such 
sources of ancient Gaelic poetry as might have 

Gaelic of medical manuscripts, is taken from 
Dr O Donovans grammar : 7 

English Translation. 

"Let me now speak of the cure of this disease 
(scnrvy), for many things must be got for its cure ; 
the first cure which is best to be made is to clean the 
corrupt humours with caterfusia ; for Avieenna says 
in the fourth Canon that evacuation causes an expul 
sion of the burnt humours. The second thing, t; 
order the patients a proper regimen of meat and drink 
the third thing, to digest the matter ; the fourth thing, 
to expel them completely ; the fifth thing, to prepare 
a bath for them ; the sixth, it is necessary to give 
them strengthening lictub. The seventh, it is neces 
sary to give them such tilings as agree with them, 
unless the body be full of bad humours." 

been open to Macpherson, and especially for 
such written remains as might still be found 
in the country. Among others they applied 
to the Highland Society of London, whose 
secretary at the time, Mr John Mackenzie, 
was an enthusiastic Highlander, and an excel 
lent Gaelic scholar. The Society furnished 
several interesting manuscripts which they had 
succeeded in collecting, and among these an 
ancient paper book which has since been called 
the " Book of the Dean of Lismore." This 
book, which now lies in the library of the 
Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, is a small 
quarto very much defaced, of about seven inches 
square, and one inch and a quarter in thickness. 
It is bound in a piece of coarse sheepskin, and 
seems to have been much tossed about. The 
manuscript is written in what may be called 
phonetic Gaelic, the words being spelled on 
the same principle as the Welsh and Manx, 
although the application of the principle is 
very different. " Athair," father, is " Ayr ;" 
"Saor," free, is "Seyr;" " Fhuair," found, is 
"Hoar;" " Leodhas," Lewis, is "Looyss;" 
" iuchair," a key, is " evvthir ;" " ghradh," love, 
is " Zrau." This principle of phonetic spelling, 
with a partial admission of the Irish eclipsis and 
the Irish dot in aspiration, distinguishes the 
whole manuscript, and has made it very difficult 
to interpret. The letter used is the English 
letter of the 15th and 16th centuries, and 
the MS. was transcribed by the late Mr Ewen 
M Lachlan of Aberdeen, an admirable Gaelic 
scholar. But no attempt was made to transfer 
its contents into modern Gaelic, or to interpret 
them, save in the case of a few fragments which 

7 Irish Grammar, p. 419. 



wore transferred and interpreted by Dr Smith 
for the Highland Society. Recently, however, 
the whole manuscript, with few exceptions, has 
been transcribed, presented in a modern Gaelic 
dress, translated and annotated, by the writer ; 
and a historical introduction and additional 
notes have been furnished by Dr W. F. 

The volume is full of interest, as present 
ing a view of the native literature of the 
Highlands in the 15th and 16th centuries, 
while it contains productions of a much earlier 
age. The fragments which it contains are 
both Scottish and Irish, showing how familiar 
the bardic schools were with the produc 
tions of both countries. Much of the con 
tents consists of fragments of what is usually 
called Ossianic poetry compositions by Ossian, 
by Fergus filidh his brother, by Conall Mac- 
Edirsceoil, by Caoilte M Ronan, and by 
poets of a later age, who imitated these 
ancient bards, such as Allan MacRorie, Gillie- 
callum Mac an Olla, and others. The col 
lection bears on one of its pages the name 
" Jacobus M Gregor decanus Lismorensis," 
James M Gregor, Dean of Lismore, and it has 
been conjectured from this fact and the resem 
blance of the writing in the signature to that 
of the body of the manuscript, that this was 
the compiler of the work. That the manuscript 
was the work of a M Gregor is pretty evident. 
It contains a series of obits of important 
men, most of them chiefs and other men of 
note of the clan Gregor, and there are among 
the poetical pieces of a date later than the 


Glennschee in glenn so rame heive 

A binn feig agus Ion 

Menik redeis in nane 

Ar on trath so in dey agon 

A glen so fa wenn Zwlbin zwrm 

Is haald tulchi fa zran 

Ner wanew a roythi gi dark 

In dey helga o inn na vane 

Estith beg ma zalew leith 

A chuddycht cheive so woym 

Er wenn Zulbiu is er inn fail 

Is er M ezoynn skayl troyg 

Gur lai finn fa troyg in shelga 

Er V ezwn is derk lei 

Zwll di wenn Zwlbin di helga 

In turkgi nach fadin erm zei 

Lai M ezwnn narm ay 

Da bay gin dorchirre in tork 

Gillir royth ba zoill finn 

Is sche assne rin do locht 

Ossianic, numerous songs in praise of that clan. 
It seems, however, that M Gregor had a brother 
called Dougal, who designates himself daor- 
oylach, or "apprentice," who had some share in 
making the compilation. These M Gregors 
belonged to Fortiugall in Perthshire, although 
James held office in the diocese of Argyll. He 
was vicar of the parish of Fortingall, and it is 
presumed usually resided there. 

In giving specimens from M Gregor s collec 
tion, it may be desirable to treat of the whole 
of what is called the Ossianic poetry. It is 
in this collection that we find the earliest 
written specimens of it, and although Mac- 
pherson s Ossian did not appear for two cen 
turies later, it seems better to group the whole 
together in this portion of our notice. The 
word "ursgeul" was applied by the High 
landers to these poetical tales. This word 
has been translated "a new tale," as if the 
wr here meant "new" in contradistinction to 
older tales. But the word ur meant " noble" 
or " great," as well as " new," and the word as 
so used must be understood as meaning a 
"noble tale" in contradistinction to the sgeu- 
lachd, or other tale of less note. From what 
source M Gregor derived his materials is not 
said, but the probability is that he was indebted 
both to manuscripts and to oral tradition for 
them. We shall here give a specimen of the 
Dean s collection as it appears in the original, 
with a version in regular Gaelic spelling, and 
an English translation. It is the poem usually 
called "Bas Dhiarmaid," or the Death of Diar- 

Modern Gaelic. 

Gleannsith an gleann so ri m thaobh, 

S am binn feidh agus loin, 

Is minig a rachas an Fheinn 

Air an t-srath so an deigh an con. 

An gleann so fa Bheinn Ghulbaiun gliuirm, 

Is aillidh tulcha fo n ghrein, 

Na sruthana a ruith gu dearg, 

An deigh shealg o Fhionn na Feinn. 

Eisdibh beag mar dh fhalbh laoch, 

A chuideachd chaoimh so uam, 

Air Bheinn Glralbainn us air Fionn fial, 

Us air M O Dhuinn, sgeul truagh : 

Gur le Fionn fa truagh an t-sealg 

Air Mhac O Dhuinn a s deirge lith, 

Dhol do Bheinn Ghulbainn do shealg 

An tuirc nach faodainn airm dhith. 

Le Mac O Dhuinn an airm aigh, 

Do m b e gu n torchradh an tore, 

Geillear roimhe, bu dh fhoill Fhinn, 

Is e esan a rinn do lochd. 



Er fa barlow a zail 

M ozunn graw uin sgoll 

Ach so in skayll fa tursych mnaan 

Gavr less di layve an tork 

Zing) r wal di lach ni wane 

Da gurri ea assi gnok 

In schenn tork schee bi garv 

Di vag ballerycb na helve mok 

Soeyth finn is derk dreach 

Fa \venn zwlbin zlass in telga 

Di fre dinnit less in tork 

Mor in tolga a rin a shelga 

Di clastich cozar ni wane 

Nor si narm teach fa a cann 

Ersi in a vest o swoyn 

Is glossis woyth er a glenn 

Curris ri faggin nin leich 

In shen tork schee er freich borb 

Bi geyr no ganyth sleygh 

Bi traneiseygh na gath bolga 

M ozwnn ni narm geyr 

Frager less in na vest oik 

"Wa teive reyll trom navynyth gay 

Currir sleygh in dayl in turk 

Brissir in cran less fa tlire 

Si chran fa reir er in mwk 

In sleygh o vvasi waryerka vlaye 

Rait less nochchar hay na corp 

Targir in tan lanu o troyle 

Di chossin mor loye in narm 

Marviss M ozunn fest 

Di hanyth feyn de hess slane 

Tuttis sprocht er Inn ne wane 

Is soyis sea si gnok 

Makozunn nar dult dayve 

Oik less a hecht slane o tork 

Er weith zoyth faddi no host 

A durt gar wolga ri ray 

Tothiss a zermit o hocht 

Ga maid try sin tork so id taa 

Char zult ay a chonyth finn 

Oik leinn gin a heacht da hygh 

Toissi tork er a zrum 

M ozunn nach trome trygh 

Toiss na ye reiss 

A zermit gi meine a tore 

Fa lattis troygh ya chinn 

A zil nin narm rim gort 

Ymbeis bi hurrus goye 

Agus toissi zayve in tork 

Guiine i freich neive garve 

Boonn in leich bi zarg in drod 

Tuttis in sin er in rein 

M O Zwne nar eyve fealle 

ISTa la di heive in turk 

Ach sen ayd zut gi dorve 

A la schai in swn fa creay 

M O Zwne keawe in gleacht 

Invakane fullich ni wane 

Sin tulli so chayme fa art 

Saywic swlzorme essroye 

Far la berrit boye gi ayr 

In dey a horchirt la tork 

Fa hulchin a chnokso a taa 

Dermit M O Zwne oyill 

Huttom tra ead nin noor 

Bi gil a wrai no grane 

Bu derk a wail no blai k . . . 

Fa boe innis a alt 

Fadda rosk barglan fa lesga 

Gunne agus glassi na hwle 

Maissi is cassi govvl ni gleacht 

Binnis is grinnis na zloyr 

Gil no zoid varzerk vlaa 

Mayd agis evycht sin leich 

Fear fa tharladh an gaol, 

Mac O Dhuinn gradh nan sgoil, 

Ach so an sgeul fa tursach mnathan, 

Gabhar leis do laimh an tore. 

Diongal do laoch na Feinn 

Do chnireadh e as a chnoc, 

An seann tore Sithe bu ghairbhe, 

Do. f hac ballardaich na h-alla-muic. 

Suidhidh Fionn is deirge dreach, 

Fa Bheinn Ghulbainn ghlais an t-seilg, 

Do frith dh imich leis an tore, 

Mor an t-olc a rinn a shealg. 

Ri na Feinn 

N uair s an arm a teachd fa ceann 

Eireas a bheisd o shuain, 

Us gluaiseas uath air a ghleann. 

Cuireas ri fagail nan laoch, 

An seann tore us e air friodh borb, 

Bu gheire no gath nan sleagh, 

Bu treine a shaigh no gath bolga. 

Mac O Dhninn nan arm geur, 

Freagras leis a bheisd olc, 

O thaobh thriall trom, nimhneach, gath, 

Cuirear sleagh an dail au tuirc. 

Brisear a crann leis fa thri, 

Is i a crann fa reir air a mhuc, 

An t-sleagh o bhos bhar-dhearg, bhlath, 

Raitleis noch char e na corp. 

Tairngear an tan lann o truaill, 

Do choisinn mor luaidh an arm, 

Marbhas Mac O Dhuinn a bheisd, 

Do thainig e fein as slan. 

Tuiteas sprochd air Fionn na Feinn, 

Us suidheas e s a chnoc, 

Mac Dhuinn nach do dhiult daimU 

Olc leis a thighinn slau o n tore. 

Air bhith dha fada n a thosd, 

A dubhairt, ged a b olc ri radh, 

Tomhais, a Dhiarmaid o shoe, 

Cia mend troidh s an tore a ta. 

Char dhiult e athchuinge Fhinn, 

Olc leinn gun e theachd d a thigh. 

Tomhaisidh an tore air a dhruim, 

Mae O Dhuinu nach trom troidh. 

Tomhais n a aghaidh a ris, 

A Dhiarmaid gu mion an tore ; 

Fa leat is truagh dha chinn, 

A ghille nan arm roinn ghoirt. 

Imicheas, bu thurus goimh, 

Agus tomhaisidh dhoibh an tore. 

Guinidh a fhriogh nimh, garbh 

Bonn an laoich bu gharbh an trod. 

Tuiteas an sin air an raon, 

Mac O Dhuinn nior aoibh feall ; 

N a luidhe do thaobh an tuirc, 

Ach sin e dhuit gu doirbh. 

A ta se an sin fa chreuchd 

Mac O Dhuinn caoinh an gleachd ; 

Aon mhacan fulangach nani Fiann 

S an tulach so chitheara fa fheart. 

Seabhag suilghorm Easruaidh, 

Fear le m beireadh buaidh gach air, 

An deigh a thorchairt le tore 

Fa thulchain a chnuic so a ta. 

Diarmad Mac O Dhuinn aibheil, 

A thuiteam troimh eud ; mo nuar ! 

Bu ghile a bhragh d no grian, 

Bu dheirge a bheul no blath caora. 

Fa buidhe innis a fhalt, 

Fada rosg barghlan fa liosg, 

Guirme agus glaise n a shuil, 

Maise us caise cul nan cleachd. 

Binneas us grinneas n a ghloir, 

Gile n a dhoid bhar-dhearg bhl&th, 

Meud agus eifeachd s an laoch 




Seng is ser no kness bayn 
Coythtyc is maaltor ban 
M O Zwne bi vor boye 
In tuni char hog swle 
chorreich wr er a zroy 
Immin deit cycle is each 
Fer in neygin creach nar charre 
Gilli a bar gasga is seith 
Ach troyg mir a teich so glenn 

English Translation. 

Glenshee the vale that close beside me lies 
Where sweetest sounds are heard of deer and elk, 
And where the Feinn did oft pursue the chase 
Following their hounds along the lengthening vale. 
Below the great Ben Gulbin s grassy height, 
Of fairest knolls that lie beneath the sun 
The valley winds. It s streams did oft run red, 
After a hunt by Finn and by the Feinn. 
Listen now while I detail the loss 
Of one a hero in this gentle band ; 
Tis of Ben Gulbin and of generous Finn 
And Mac O Duine, in truth a piteous tale. 
A mournful hunt indeed it was for Finn 
When Mac O Duine, he of the ruddiest hue, 
Up to Ben Gulbin went, resolved to hunt 
The boar, whom aims had never yet subdued. 
Though Mac O Duine of brightest burnished arms, 
Did bravely slay the fierce, and furious boar, 
Yet Finn s deceit did him induce to yield, 
And this it was that did his grievous hurt. 
Who among men was so belov d as he ? 
Brave Mac O Duine, beloved of the schools ; 
Women all mourn this sad and piteous tale 
Of him who firmly grasped the murderous spear. 
Then bravely did the hero of the Feinn 
Rouse from his cover in the mountain side 
The great old boar, him so well known in Sliee, 
The greatest in the wild boar s haunt e er seen. 
Finn sat him down, the man of ruddiest hue, 
Beneath Ben Gulbin s soft and grassy side ; 
For swift the boar now coursed along the heath ; 
Great was the ill came of that dreadful hunt. 
Twas when he heard the Feinn s loud ringing shout, 
And saw approach the glittering of their arms, 
The monster wakened from his heavy sleep 
And stately moved before them down the vale. 
First, to distance them he makes attempt 
The great old boar, his bristles stiff on end, 
These bristles sharper than a pointed spear, 
Their point more piercing than the quiver s shaft. 
Then Mac O Duine, with arms well pointed too, 
Answers the horrid beast with ready hand ; 
Away from his side then rushed the heavy spear, 
Hard following on the course the boar pursued. 
The javelin s shaft fell shivered into three, 
The shaft recoiling from the boar s tough hide. 
The spear huii d by his warm red-fingered hand, 
Ne er penetrated the body of the boar. 
Then from its sheath he drew his thin-leav d sword, 
Of all the arms most crowned with victory. 
Mac O Duine did then the monster kill 
While he himself escaped without a wound. 
Then on Finn of the Feinn did sadness fall, 
And on the mountain side he sat him down ; 
It grieved his soul that generous Mac O Duine 
Should have escaped unwounded by the boar. 
For long he sat, and never spake a word, 
Then thus he spake, although t be sad to tell ; 
" Measure, Diarmad, the boar down from the snout, 
And tell how many feet s the brute in length ; " 
What Finn did ask he never yet refused ; 
Alas! that he should never see his home. 

Seang us saor n a chneas ban. 
Cothaich us mealltair bhan, 
Mac O Dhuinn bu mh6r buaidh, 
S an t-suiridh cha thog suil, 
chuireadh uir air a ghruaidh. 
Immirdich f haoghaid us each, 
Fear an 6igin chreach nar char, 
Gille b fhearr gaisge us sitheadh, 
Ach is truagh mar a theich s a ghleann. 


Along the back he measures now the boar, 
Light-footed Mac O Duine of active step. 
Measure it the other way against the hah , 
And measure, Diarmad, carefully the boar. 
It was indeed for thee a mournful deed, 
Furth of the sharply-pointed, piercing arms, 
He went, the errand grievous was and sad, 
And measured for them once again the boar. 
The envenomed pointed bristle sharply pierced 
The soul of him the bravest in the field. 
Then fell and lay upon the grassy plain 
The noble Mac O Duine, whose look spoke truth ; 
He fell and lay along beside the boar 
And then you have my mournful saddening tale. 
There does he lie now wounded to the death, 
Brave Mac O Duine so skilful in the fight, 
The most enduring even among the Feinn, 
Up there where I see his grave. 
The blue-eyed hawk that dwelt at Essaroy 
The conqueror in every sore-fought field 
Slain by the poisoned bristle of the boar. 
Now does he lie full-stretched upon the hill, 
Brave, noble Diarmad Mac O Duine 
Slain, it is shame! victim of jealousy. 
Whiter his body than the sun s bright light, 
Redder his lips than blossoms tinged with red ; 
Long yellow locks did rest upon his head, 
His eye was clear beneath the covering brow, 
Its colour mingled was of blue and gray ; 
Waving and graceful were his locks behind, 
His speech was elegant and sweetly soft ; 
His hands the whitest, fingers tipped with red ; 
Elegance and power were in his form, 
His fair soft skin covering a faultless shape, 
No woman saw him but he won her love. 
Mac O Duine crowned with his countless victories 
Ne er shall he raise his eye in courtship more ; 
Or warrior s wrath give colour to his cheek ; 
The following of the chase, the prancing steed, 
Will never move him, nor the search for- spoil. 
He who could bear him well in wary fight, 
Has now us sadly left in that wild vale. 


This is, in every way, a fair specimen of the 
Dean s MS., and of the story of the death of 
Diarmad as it existed in Scotland in the year 
1512. The story is entirely a Scottish one, 
Glenshee being a well-known locality in the 
county of Perth, and Ben Gnlhin a well-known 
hill in Glenshee. This has been called an 
Ossiaiiic poem, but, according toDeanM Gregor, 
it was not composed by Ossian, but by a poet 
obviously of more recent times ; Allan Mac- 
Rorie, who was probably a composer of the 15th 
century. The resemblance of Diarmad to 
Achilles will occur at once to the classical 
reader, and there is no reason to doubt that 



there were large classes in the Highlands in 
the middle ages well acquainted with classical 

Another specimen of the Dean s poems may 

Modern Gaelic. 

Se la gus an de o nach fhaca mi Fionn, 

Cha-n fhaca ri m re se bu gheire learn ; 

Mac nighiiin O Theige, righ nain buillean trom, 

M oide, tis mo rath, mo chiall us mo chon. 

Fa filidh fa flath, fa righ air gheire, 

Fionn flath, righ na Feinn, fa triath air gach tir ; 

Fa miall mor mara, fa leobhar air leirg, 

Fa seabhag glan gaoithe, fa saoi air gach ceaird. 

Fa h-oileanach ceart, fa marcaich mor mhearbh, 

Fa h-ullamh air ghniomh, fa steith air gach seirm ; 

Fa fior, ceart, a bhreith, fa tamhaiche tuaith. 

Fa ionnsaichte n a aigh, fa brathach air buaidh ; 

Fa h-e an teachdair ard, air chalm us air cheol, 

Fa diultadh nan daimh o dh f hag graidh na gloir. 

A chneas mar an cailc, a ghruaidh mar an ros, 

Bu ghlan gorm a rosg, fholt mar an t-6r. 

Fa dull daiiuh us daoine, fa aireach nan agh, 

Fa h-ullamh air ghniomh, fa min ri mnathaibh. 

Fa h-e am miall mbr, mac muirne gach magh, 

B fhear loinneadh nan lann, an crann os gach fiodh. 

Fa saoibhir an righ, a bhotul mor glas, 

D fhion dhoirt gheur dhoibh, tairbh nochchar threa 

broinn bhain 

. . . air an t-sluagh, fa bu chrnaidh cheum, 
Fa chosnadh an gniomh, fa Bhanbha nam beann 
Gun d thug am flath triochaid catha fa cheann, 
Air sgraiteach dha, M Cumhail nior cheil, 
A deir fa gho, ni clos gb n a bhenl ; 
Ni euradh air neach, a fhuair tear o Fhionn, 
(."ha robh ach righ greine, righ rianih os a chionn. 
Nior dh fhag beist an loch, no nathair an nimh, 
An Eirinn nan naomh, nar mharbh an saor seimh. 
Ni h-innisinn a ghniomh, a bhithinn gu de bhrath, 
Nior innisinn uam, trian a bhuaidh s a mhaith. 
Ach is olc a taim, an deigh Fhinn na Feinn, 
Do chaith leis an fhlath, gach maitli bha na dheigh. 
Gun anghnath aoin mhoir, gun eineach glan gaoithe, 
Gun 6r us mnathaibh righ, s gun bhreith nan laoch. 
Is tuirseach a taim, an deigh chinn nan ceud, 
Is mi an crann air chrith, is mo chiabh air n-eug 
Is mi a chno chith, is mi an t-each gun srein, 
Achadan mi an uair, is mi an tuath gun treith ; 
Is mi Oisian MacFhinn, air trian de m ghniomh, 
An fhad s bu bheo Fionn, do bu learn gach ni. 
Seachd slios air a thigh, M Cumhail gon fleadh, 
Seachd fichead sgiath chlis, air gach slios diubh sin ; 
Caogad uidheam olaidh an timchioll mo righ, 
Caogad laoch gun iomagain anns gach uidheam clhiubh. 
Deich bleidh ban, n a thalla ri 61, 
Deich eascradh gorm, deich corn de n or. 
Ach bu mhaith an treabh, a bh aig Fionn na Feinn, 
Gun doichioll, gun druth, gun gleois, gun gleidh. 
Gun tarchuis ann, air aon fhear d a Fheinn, 
Aig dol air gach ni, do bhi each d a reir. 
Fionn flath an t-sluaigh, sothran air a luaidh, 
Righ nan uile aigh, roimh dhuine nior dhiult. 
Nior dhiult Fionn roimh neach, ge bu bheag a loinn, 
Char chuir as a theach, neach dha r thainig ann. 
Maith an cluine Fionn, maith an duine e, 
Noch char thiodhlaic neach, leth dhe r thiodhlaic se. 


be given as one which the compiler attributes 
to Ossian. It is Ossiaii s eulogy on his father 
Finn, or Fingal, as he is called by M Pher- 

English Translation. 

Twas yesterday week I last saw Finn, 

Ne er did I feel six days so long; 

Teige s daughter s son, a powerful king ; 

My teacher, my luck, my mind, and my light, 

Both poet and chief, as brave as a king, 

Finn, chief of the Feine, lord of all lands, 

Leviathan at sea, as great on land, 

Hawk of the air, foremost in arts, 

Courteous, just, a rider bold, 

Of vigorous deeds, the first in song, 

A righteous judge, firm his rule, 

Polished his mein, who knew but victory. 

Who is like him in fight or song ? 

Resists the foe in house or field, 

Marble his skin, the rose his cheek. 

Blue was his eye, his hair like gold, 

All men s trust, of noble mind. 

Of ready deeds, to women mild, 

A giant he, the field s delight, 

Best polished spears, no wood like their shafts. 

Rich was the king, his great green bottle 

Full of sharp wine, of substance rich. 

Excellent he, of noble form, 

His people s head, his step so firm, 

Who often warred, in beauteous Banva, 

There thirty battles he bravely fought. 

With miser s mind from none withheld, 

Anything false his lips ne er spoke. 

He never grudged, no, never, Finn ; 

The sun ne er saw king who him excelled, 

The monsters in lakes, the serpent by land, 

In Erin of saints, the hero slew. 

Ne er could I tell, though always I lived, 

Ne er could I tell the third of his praise. 

But sad am I now, after Finn of the Feinn ; 

Away with the chief, my joy is all fled. 

No friends mong the great, no courtesy ; 

No gold, no queen, no princes and chiefs ; 

Sad am I now, our head ta en away ! 

I m a shaking tree, my leaves all gone; 

An empty nut, a reinless horse. 

Sad, sad am I, a feeble kern, 

Ossian I, the son of Finn, strengthless indeed. 

When Finn did live all things were mine ; 

Seven sides had the house of Cumhal s sou, 

Seven score shields on every side ; 

Fifty robes of wool around the king ; 

Fifty warriors filled the robes. 

Ten bright cups for drink in his hall, 

Ten blue flagons, ten horns of gold. 

A noble house was that of Finn. 

No grudge nor lust, babbling nor sham; 

No man despised among the Feinn ; 

The first himself, all else like him. 

Finn was our chief, easy s his praise ; 

Noblest of kings, Finn ne er refused 

To any man, howe er unknown ; 

Ne er from his house sent those who came. 

Good man was Finn, good man was he; 
No gifts e er given like his so free. 

Twas yesterday week. 

This is a . specimen of a peculiar kind of 
ancient Celtic poetry. It was usually sung to 

music, and has a remarkable resemblance to 
some of the hymns of the early Latin Church. 



There is another composition of the same kind 
in praise of Gaul, called usually " Rosg Ghuill," 
or the War-Song of Gaul. 

It is unnecessary to give further specimens of 
these remains of the ancient heroic poetry of the 
Highlands here, nor is it necessary to quote any 
of the more modern compositions with which the 
Dean of Lismore s MS. abounds. It is enough 
to remark how great an amount of poetry was 
composed in the Highlands in the 14th, 15th, 
and 16th centuries. That was indeed an a^e 


of bards when poetical genius was amply re 
warded by great and liberal chiefs. It is of 
interest further to observe how ample the 
answer furnished by the Lismore MS. is to the 
ill-natured remarks of Dr Johnson, who main 
tained that there was not a word of written 
Gaelic in the Highlands more than a hundred 
years old. We shall now dismiss the Dean s 
MS., but we shall exhaust the subject of 
Ossian s poems by a cursory view of the other 
and later collections of those poems, and espe 
cially the collection of Macpherson. 


It is quite unnecessary here to enter on the 
question of the authenticity of the poems of 
Ossian, as edited by Macpherson. 8 The sub 
ject has been so largely treated in numerous 
publications, that we consider it better to give 
a short historical sketch of the publication, 
with such specimens as may serve to show the 
character of the work. 

The first of Macpherson s publications ap 
peared in the year 1760. It is entitled, " Frag 
ments of Ancient Poetry collected in the High 
lands of Scotland, and translated from the 
Gaelic or Erse Language." The first edition 
of this volume was immediately followed by a 
second, and the deepest interest was excited in 
the subject of Celtic literature among literary 
men. The work originally consisted of fifteen 
fragments, to which a sixteenth was added in 
the second edition. These are all in English, 
there not being one word of Gaelic in the 

! This question has been recently discussed by the 
Rev. Archibald Clerk of Kilmallie, in his elegant 
edition of the Poems of Ossian, published since the 
above was written, under the auspices of the Marquis 
of Bute. We refer our readers to Mr Clerk s treatise 
tor a great deal of varied and interesting information 
on this subject. 

book. Not that there is any reason to doubt 
that the fragments are genuine, and that Mac 
pherson spoke what was perfectly consistent 
with truth when he said, as he does at the be 
ginning of his preface, " The public may de 
pend on the following fragments as genuine 
remains of ancient Scottish poetry." Still it 
is to be regretted that the original Gaelic of 
these compositions was not given. It would 
have enable d the public, in the Highlands at 
least, to have judged for themselves on the 
question of their authenticity, and it would 
have afforded a guarantee for the accuracy of 
the translation. This, however, was not done, 
and there are none of the fragments contained 
in this little volume, the original of which can 
now be found anywhere. 

In his preface to these " Fragments," Mac 
pherson gives the first intimation of the exist 
ence of the poem of "Fingal." He says: 
" It is believed that, by a careful inquiry, 
many more remains of ancient genius, no less 
valuable than those now given to the world, 
might be found in the same country where 
these have been collected. In particular, there 
is reason to hope that one work of considerable 
length, and which deserved to be styled an 
heroic poem, might be recovered and trans 
lated, if encouragement were given to such an 
undertaking. The subject is an invasion of 
Ireland by Swarthan, king of Lochlyn, which 
is the name of Denmark in the Erse language. 
Cuchulaid, the general or chief of the Irish 
tribes, upon intelligence of the invasion, assem 
bles his forces ; councils are held, and battles 
fought ; but after several unsuccessful engage 
ments the Irish are forced to submit. At 
length Fingal, king of Scotland, called in this 
poem The Desert of the Hills, arrives with 
his ships to assist Cuchulaid. He expels the 
Danes from the country, and returns home 
victorious. This poem is held to be of greater 
antiquity than any of the rest that are pre 
served ; and the author speaks of himself as 
present in the expedition of Fingal." In the 
"Fragments" the opening of this poem is given, 
but whether from tradition or MS. is not said. 
It proceeds : " Cuchulaid sat by the wall, by 
the tree of the rustling leaf. His spear leaned 
against the mossy rock. His shield lay by 
him on the grass. Whilst he thought on 



the mighty Carbre, whom he slew in battle, 
the scout of the ocean came, Moran the son 
of Fithil." In 1762 there appeared a quarto 
volume, edited by Macpherson, containing the 
poem of " Fingal " and several other composi 
tions. The poem commences, " Cachullin sat 
by Tura s walls ; by the tree of the rustling 
leaf. His spear leaned against the mossy rock. 
His shield lay by him on the grass. As he 
thought of mighty Carbar, a hero whom he 
slew in war, the scout of the ocean came, 
Moran the son of Fithil." It will be seen 
that there are several variations in the two 
versions, and as we proceed these will appear 
to be more numerous and more marked. It is 
somewhat remarkable that the Garve of the 
earlier version should become Swaran in the 
second. The whole comparison is interesting, 
and sheds some light on the progress of the 
poems in the hand of the editor. It may be 
interesting, in juxtaposition with the above 
extracts, to give the Gaelic, as furnished at a 
later period, by the executors of Macpherson. 
It is as follows : 

" Shuidh Cuchullin aig balla Thura, 
Fo dhubhra craoibh dhuille na fuaim ; 
Dh aom a shleagh ri carraig nan cos, 
A sgiath mhor r a thaobh air an fheur. 
Bha sniaointean an fhir air Cairbre, 
Laoch a thuit leis an garbh-chomhrag, 
N uair a thainig fear-coimhid a chuain, 
Luath mhac Fluthil nau ceum ard. " 

The English in both the versions that of 
1760 and that of 1762 is a pretty accurate 
rendering of this. In some cases the Gaelic 
expletive is awanting, as in " garbh-chomhrag," 
and the name Moran is, in the last line, substi 
tuted for the Gaelic description, "The swift 
son of Fithil, of bounding steps." These, how 
ever, are allowable liberties in such a case. 
The variations are, however, more considerable 
as the several versions proceed, but that of 
1760 turns out to be a mere fragment of the 
first book of the great epic of 1762. The 
other fragments have also their representatives 
in the larger work. Some of them appear in 
the poem called " Carrickthura," and some of 
them in the epic of " Fingal," but in all these 
cases the later compositions are great expan 
sions of the shorter poems given in the earlier 
work. A comparison of these versions is full 
of interest, and in the hands of fair and acute 
criticism, is capable, as already said, of shedding 

much light on the whole question of Mac- 
pherson s Ossian. One thing is beyond ques 
tion, that the names of Ossian s heroes were 
familiar to the Scottish Highlanders from the 
earliest period; that they knew more of -their 
deeds, and spoke more of them than of those 
of Wallace and Bruce; that the country was 
teeming with poetical compositions bearing to 
have these deeds as their subjects; that Ihe 
topography of the country was in every quarter 
enriched with names drawn from Fingal and 
his men; and that to say that the whole of 
this was the invention of Macpherson, is no 
thing but what the bitterest national prejudice 
could alone receive as truth. 

There are many of the pieces in Macpherson s 
Ossian of marvellous power. The description 
of Cuchullin s chariot in the first book of 
Fingal is equal to any similar composition 
among the great classical epics. It proceeds : 

" Carbad ! carbad garbli a chomhraig, 
Gluasad thar chomhnard le bas; 
Carbad cuimir, luath, Chuchullin, 
Sar-mhac Sheuma nan cruaidh chas. 
Tha earr a lubadh si6s mar thonn, 
No ceo mn thorn nan carragh geur, 
Solus chlocha-buadh mu n cuairt, 
Mar chuan mu eathar s an oidliche. 
Dh iubhar faileusach an crann; 
Suidhear ann air chnamhaibh caoin; 
S e tuineas nan sleagh a th ann, 
Nan sgiath, nan lann, s nan laoch. 
Ri taobh deas a mhor-charbaid 
Chithear an t-eaeh meanmnach, seidear, 
Mac ard-mhuingeach, cliabh-fharsuing, dorcha, 
Ard-leumach, talmhaidh, na beinne; 
S farumach, fuaimear, a chos; 
Tha sgaoileadh a dhosain shuas, 
Mar cheathach air aros nan os; 
Bu shoilleir a dhreach, s bu luath 
Shiubhal, Sithfada b e ainni. 
Ri taobh eile a charbaid thall 
Tha each fiarasach nan srann, 
Caol-mhuingeach, aiginneach, brogach, 
Luath-chosach, sronach, nam beann. 
Dubh-sr6n-gheal a b ainm air an steud-each. 
Lan mhile dh iallaibh tana 
Ceangal a charbaid gu h-ard; 
Cruaidh chabstar shoilleir nan srian 
Xan gialaibli fo chobhar ban; 
Tha clochan-boillsge le buaidh 
Cromadh sios mu miming nan each, 
Nan each tha mar che6 air sliabh, 
A giulan an triath gn chliu. 
Is fiadhaiche na fiadh an colg, 
Co laidir ri iolair an neart; 
Tha m fuaim mar an geamhradh borb 
Air Gorm-mheall muchta fo shneachd. 
Sa charbad chithear an triath, 
Sar mhac treim nan geur lann, 
Cuchullin nan gorm-bhallach sgiath, 
Mac Sheuma mu n eireadh dan. 
A ghruaidh mar an t-iubhair caoin, 
A shuil nach b fhaoin a sgaoileadh ard, 
Fo mhala chruim, dhorcha, cliaoil ; 


A chiabh bhuidhe n a caoir m a cheann, 
Taomadli mu ghniiis aluinn an fhir, 
S e tarruing a shleagh o cliul. 
Teich-sa, shar cheaunard nan long, 
Teich o n t-sonn s e tigliinn a nail, 
Mar ghaillinn o ghleauii nan sruth, " 

It is difficult to give an English rendering 
of the above passage that would convey the 
elegance and force of the original. The ad 
mirer of Gaelic poetry cannot but regret that 
the English reader cannot peruse the Gaelic 
version, assured, as he feels, that his doing so 
would raise considerably his estimate of the 
Gaelic muse. There is not, perhaps, in any 
language a richer piece of poetical description 
than the above. Macpherson s English version 
of it is as follows : 

" The car, the car of battle comes, like the 
flame of death; the rapid car of Cuchullin, the 
noble son of Semo. It bends behind like a 
wave near a rock ; like the golden mist of the 
heath. Its sides are embossed with stones, 
and sparkle like the sea round the boat of 
night. Of polished yew is its beam, and its 
seat of the smoothest bone. The sides are re 
plenished with spears; and the bottom is the 
footstool of heroes. Before the right side of 
the car is seen the snorting horse, the high- 
maned, broad-breasted, proud, high-leaping, 
strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding 
is his hoof; the spreading of his rnane above 
is like that stream of smoke on the heath. 
Bright are the sides of the steed, and his name 
is Sulin-sifadda, Before the left side of the 
car is seen the snorting horse ; the thin-maned, 
high-headed, strong-hoofed, fleet, bounding son 
of the hill ; his name is Dusronnal among the 
stormy sons of the sword. A thousand thongs 
bind the car on high. Hard polished bits 
shine in a wreath of foam. Thin thongs, 
bright-studded with gems, bend on the stately 
necks of the steeds the steeds that, like 
wreaths of mist, fly over the streamy vales. 
The wildness of deer is in their course, the 
strength of the eagle descending on her prey. 
Their noise is like the blast of winter on the 
sides of the snow-headed Gormal. 

" Within the car is seen the chief, the strong, 
stormy son of the sword; the hero s name is 
Cuchullin, son of Semo, king of shells. His 
red cheek is like my polished yew. The look 
of his blue rolling eye is wide beneath the dark 

arch of his brow. His hair flies from his head 
like a flame, as, bending forward, he wields 
the spear. Fly, king of ocean, fly; he comes 
like a storm along the streamy vale." 

The Gaelic scholar will at once observe that 
the above is a free but a fair translation of the 
original Gaelic, and the character of the trans 
lation is such as to give no idea of imposition. 
It is just such a translation as a man of poetic 
temperament and talent Avould give of the 

In 1763 Macpherson published a second 
quarto containing the poem of Temora in eight 
books, along with several other pieces. The first 
book of the former had appeared in the collection 
of 1762, the editor saying that it was merely 
the opening of the poem ; but the great interest 
about the publication of 1763 is that here for 
the first time we are presented with the Gaelic 
original of one of the books of the poem. It 
is not true that Macpherson never offered to 
publish any portion of the original until he 
was obliged to do so by the pressure of public 
opinion, for in this case he published the Gaelic 
original of a part of the work altogether of his 
own accord. In a short introductory paragraph 
to the Gaelic, he says that he chooses the 
seventh book of Temora, " not from any other 
superior merit than the variety of its versifica 
tion. To print any part of the former collec 
tion," he adds, " was unnecessary, as a copy of 
the originals lay for many months in the book 
seller s hands for the inspection of the curious." 
Of this new publication, however, he sees, it 
right to furnish a portion " for the satisfaction 
of those who doubt the authenticity of Ossian s 
poems." The editor adds that " though the 
rroneous orthography of the bards is departed 
from in many instances in the following speci 
men, yet several quiescent consonants are re 
tained, to show the derivation of the words." 
He accounts for the uncouth appearance of the 
language by the use of the Iiomau letters, 
which are incapable of expressing the sounds 
of the Gaelic. What kind of orthography 
Macpherson would have selected he does not 
say. He could not be unacquainted with the 
ihonetic orthography of the Dean of Lismore s 
aook, and may, peril aps, have had it in view 
Ji the above remarks. But the orthography 
which he himself uses is neither the bardic nor 



the phonetic, and is more uncouth than any 
orthography which the bards were in the habit 
of using. One thing is clear, that the Gaelic 
of the seventh book of Temora was never 
copied from any manuscript written by a bard. 
The book opens as follows : 

" linna doir-choille na Leiyo 
Air uair, eri ceo taobh-ghorm nan ton ; 
Nuair dlmnas dorsa na h oiclia 
Air iulluir sliuil-greina nan speur. 
Tomhail, mo Lara nan srutli 
Thaomas du -iiial, as doricha cruaim ; 
Mar ghlas-scia , roi taoraa nan nial 
Snamh seachad, ta Gellach na h oicha. 
Le so edi taisin o-shean 
An dlu-ghleus, a mease na gaoith, 
S iad leumach o osna gn osua 
Air du -aghai oicha nan sian. 
An taobh oitaig, gu palin nan seoid 
Taomas iad ceach nan speur 
Gorm-thalla do thannais nach beo 
Gu am eri fon marbh-ran nan tend." 

Translated by Macpherson thus : 

From the wood-skirted waters of Lego ascend at 
times grey-bosomed mists ; when the gates of the west 
are closed, on the sun s eagle eye. Wide over Lara s 
stream is poured the vapour dark and deep ; the moon 
like a dim shield, is swimming through its folds. 
With this, clothe the spirits of old their sadden 
gestures on the wind when they stride from blast to 
blast along the dusky night. Often, blended with the 
gale, to some warrior s grave, they roll the mist, a 
grey dwelling to his ghost until the songs arise." 

Any reader who understands the Gaelic 
must allow, without hesitation, that while this 
is a free it is a fair rendering of the original ; 
while he will be constrained to add that in 
point of force and elegance the Gaelic is superior 
to the English version. Many of the expletives 
in Gaelic are not rendered in English at all, 
and these add largely to the poetic force and 
beauty of the former. The orthography of 
the Gaelic will be seen to be most uncouth 
and unphilosophical. "Linna" for "Linne" 
has no principle to warrant it; so with "oicha" 
for " oidhche," " Gellach" for " gealach," 
"cruaim" for " gruaim," "taisin" for " taibh- 
sean." Then there are no accents to guide the 
reader except that the acute accent is used in 
such extraordinary words as " t6n," " fon," 
which are written for " tonn," " fonn." Alto 
gether it would appear that the writer of the 
Gaelic of this book of Temora was to a large 
extent unacquainted with Gaelic orthography, 
and was unable to write the Gaelic language 
accurately. The orthography is, indeed, a 
mere jumble. Still the fact is an interesting 
and significant one as connected with the whole 

history of the Ossianic poetry that, at so early 
a period, Macpherson should have given, as a 
debt which he felt to be due to the public, a 
large specimen of the original of one of his 
poems. If there is any cause of regret con 
nected with the matter, it is that he did not 
let the country know where he found these 
poems, and refer others to the sources whence 
he derived them himself. These have never 
been discovered by any body else, although 
numerous pieces of Ossianic poetry are well 
known in the Highlands to the present day. 

There were various versions of Macpherson s 
collection, but the most interesting of all was 
the Gaelic original of the whole poems pub 
lished in 1807. In this edition a Latin trans 
lation was furnished by Mr Eobert M Farlane. 
The book is a very handsome one, and in every 
way creditable to its editors. Mr M Lachlaii 
of Aberdeen revised the Gaelic, and no man 
was more competent for such a duty. The in 
troduction to the edition of 1818 is understood 
to have been written by an excellent Gaelic 
scholar, the late Kev. Dr lioss of Lochbroom, 
and is an eloquent and powerful composition. 
Several translations of Ossian s poems have 
appeared, but the interest of the work is mainly 
associated with the name and labours of James 


In 1780 appeared a volume of Ossian s 
Poems, translated and edited by the Eev. John 
Smith of Kilbrandon, afterwards the Rev. Dr 
Smith of Campbeltown. The volume is en 
titled " Gaelic Antiquities, &c.," containing, 
among other things, " A Collection of Ancient 
Poems, translated from the Gaelic of Ullin, 
Ossian, &c." Dr Smith was an admirable 
Gaelic scholar, as was evidenced by his trans 
lation of a portion of the Scriptures into that 
language, and his metrical version of the 
Gaelic Psalms. The work before us is a work 
highly creditable to Dr. Smith s talents and 
industry, and although he complains of the 
reception which his efforts on behalf of Gaelic 
literature met with, it is still prized by Gaelic 

In the year 1787 appeared the Gaelic ver 
sion of the same poems in an octavo volume, 
entitled, " Sean Dana le Oisian, Orran, Ulann, 



&c." It is a pity that the two versions did not 
appear simultaneously, as there have not been 
wanting those who have charged Dr. Smith, 
as was done in the case of Macpherson, with 
composing himself much of the poetry which he 
gives as Ossian s. The same has been said of 
another collector of the name of Kennedy, 
who collected a large number of poems which 
now lie in MS. in the Advocates Library in 
Edinburgh; but it is a curious fact that some 
of the pieces which Kennedy is said to have 
acknowledged having composed, can be shown 
to be ancient. 

Dr. Smith s collection begins with the poem 
called " Dan an Deirg," the Song of Dargo, or 
the Red Man. It is a famous song in the 
Highlands, as is indicated by the proverbial 
saying, " Gach dan gu dan an Deirg," Every 
song yields to the song of Dargo. It was sung 
to a simple, touching air, which is still known. 
This poem is given by Dr. Smith in two sec 
tions, entitled severally, "A cheud chuid," and 
"An dara cuid." The song is given by the 
M Callums (referred to below), but it is most 
perplexing that not one word of their version 
agrees with Dr. Smith s. Their version is mani 
festly of the ancient form and rhythm, with the 
usual summary at the head of it given by Gaelic 
reciters ere beginning one of their songs. None 
of this is found in Dr. Smith s version, which 
is cast very much in the mould of Macpher- 
son s Gaelic Ossian. Mr. J. A. Campbell, in 
his- Popular Tales of the Highlands (vol. iii., 
p. 51), gives a few lines of the lament of the 
wife of Dargo for her husband, but they do 
not correspond in one line with the version of 
Dr. Smith. The same may be said of Dr. 
Smith s " Diarmad," which is entirely different 
from all the existing versions of the same poem. 
The versions of the Dean of Lismore and of 
Gillies (mentioned below) are identical, and so 
are to a large extent other existing versions 
taken down from oral recitation, but Dr. 
Smith s differs largely from them in locality, 
matter, and rhythm. It removes the story of 
the death of this Fingalian hero from Glenshee 
to Sliabh Ghaodhail, in Kintyre. At the 
same time, it is quite possible that different 
poems existed bearing the same name; and 
Dr. Smith s poems are compositions of decided 
excellence. They add much to the stores of 

the Gaelic scholar, and the English translation 
is done with a skill little inferior to that of 
Macpherson himself 


The earliest collector and publisher of the 
poems of Ossian was Mr. Jerome Stone at 
Dunkeld, who furnished the Scots Magazine 
in 1756 with a translation in rhyme of " Bas 
Fhraoich," or the Death of Fraoch. Stone 
did not give the Gaelic original of this or of 
any other of his collections, but they were 
found after his death, and a selection of them 
is printed in the Eeport of the Highland 
Society on Ossian. A Mr Hill, an English 
gentleman, made some collections in Argyle- 
shire in 1780; and several pieces were pub 
lished by a bookseller of the name of Gillies 
at Perth, who published an excellent volume 
of Gaelic poetry in 1786. 

Gillies s pieces have the true ring of the 
ancient poetry of the Highlands, and are in 
many cases to be found floating still among 
the traditional poetry of the people. The 
Ossianic pieces are numerous. They are 
"Suiridh Oisein air Eamhair aluinn," the 
Courtship of Ossian and Eviralin; " Comhrag 
Fhinn agus Mhanuis," the Conflict of Fingal 
and Manus; " Marbhadh Chonlaoich le Cuchu- 
lain," the Slaughter of Conlach by Cuchullin; 
"Aisling Mhailmhine," MaMna s Dream; 
" Briathran Fhinn ri Oscar," FingaTs Address 
to Oscar; " Eosg Ghuill," the War-song of 
Gaul; "Dan na h-Inghin," the Song of the 
Maiden, usually called "Fainesoluis; "Conn 
mac an Deirg," Conn, son of Dargo; "Duan 
Fhraoich," the Song of Fraoch; " Cath righ 
Sorcha," the Battle of the King of Sorcha; 
" Marbh-rann Oscair," the Death-song of Oscar ; 
" Ceardach Mhic Luinn, " the Smithy of the 
Son of Linn; " Duan a Mhuireartaich," the 
Song of Muireartach; " Caoidh Dheirdir," 
Deirdre s Lament, in which the poem given 
already from the old MS. of 1268 appears as 
a part of it. It is most interesting in this case 
to compare the written with the traditional 
poem; "Bas Dhiarmaid," the Death of Diar 
mad ; "Dearg mac Deirg," the Song of 
Dargo; " Teanntachd m6r na Feinn," the great 
trial of the Fingalia.ns; " Laoidh Laomuinn 
nihic an Uaimh-f hir," the Song of Laomuinn ; 



Eairagan," Earragon; " JSTa Brataichean," the 
Banners; " Bas Oscair," the Death of Oscar ; 
in all twenty-one fragments or whole pieces, 
some of them of considerahle length, and al 
most all, if not all, taken down from oral 
recitation. This list is given in full, in order 
to show what pieces of professed Ossianio 
poetry could he found in the Highlands soon 


A mhic mo mhic s e thubhairt an righ, 
Oscair, a righ nan 6g fhlath, 
Chnnnaic mi dealradh do lainne s b e m uaill 
Bhi g amharc do bhuaidh s a chath. 
Lean gu dlu ri cliu do shinnsireachd 
S na dibir a bhi mar iadsan. 
JST uair bu bhe6 Treunmlior nan rath, 
Us Trathull athair nan treun laoch, 
Chuir iad gach cath le bnaidh, 
Us bhuannaich iad cliu gach teugbhail. 
Us mairidh an iomradh s an dan 
Air chuimhn aig na baird an deigh so. 
! Oscair, claoidh thus an treuu-armach, 
S thoir tearmunn do n lag-lamhach, fheumach; 
Bi mar bhuinne-shvuth reothairt geamhraidh 
Thoirt gleachd do naimhdibh na Feinn, 
Ach mar fhann-ghaoth sheimh, thlath, shamhraidh, 
Bi dhoibhsan a shireas do chabhar. 
Mar sin bha Treunmhor nam buadh, 
S bha Trathull nan ruag "n a dheigh ann, 
S bha Fionn na thaic do n fharin 
G a dhion o ainneart luchd-eucoir. 
N a aobhar shiuinn mo lamh, 
Le failte rachainn n a choinnimh, 
Us gheibheadh e fasgath us caird, 
Fo sgail dhrithlinneach mo loinne. 

The ahove is a true relic of the ancient 
Ossianic poetry, full of power and full of life, 
and indicates the existence of a refinement 
among the ancient Celts for which the oppo 
nents of Macpherson would not give them 
credit. Gillies tells us that his collection was 
made from gentlemen in every part of the 
Highlands. It is perhaps the most interesting 
collection of Highland song which we possess. 

In 1816 there appeared a collection of Gaelic 
poetry by Hugh and John M Callum. It was 
printed at Montrose, and the original Gaelic 
version and an English translation were pub 
lished simultaneously. The work is called 
"An Original Collection of the Poems of 
Ossian, Orann, Ulin, and other bards who 
nourished in the same age." There are twenty- 
six pieces altogether, and the editors give the 
sources whence they were all derived. These 
are such as Duncan Matheson in Snizort. Isle 
of Skye; Hector M Phail in Torasay, Mull; 

after the publication of Macpherson a work by 
other and independent compilers. A com 
parison of those pieces Avith Macpherson s 
Ossian is interesting to the inquirer in this 
field. The following specimen of one of Gillies s 
alleged compositions of Ossian may be given 
here : 

English Translation. 

Sou of my son, so said the king, 

Oscar, prince of youthful heroes, 

I have seen the glitter of thy blade, and twas my pride 

To see thy triumph in the conflict. 

Cleave thou fast to the fame of thine ancestors, 

And do not neglect to be like them. 

When Treunmor the fortunate lived, 

And Trathull the father of warriors, 

They fought each field triumphantly, 

And won the fame in every fight. 

And their names shall flourish in the song 

Commemorated henceforth by the bards. 

Oh ! Oscar, crush thou the armed hero, 

But spare the feeble and the needy ; 

Be as the rushing winter, spring -tide, stream, 

Giving battle to the foes of the Fingalians, 

But as the gentle, soothing, summer breeze 

To such as seek for thy help. 

Such was Treunmor of victories, 

And Trathull of pursuits, thereafter , 

And Fingal was a help to the weak, 

To save him from the power of the oppressor. 

In his cause I would stretch out my hand, 

With a welcome I would go to meet him, 

And he should find shelter and friendship 

Beneath the glittering shade of my sword. 

Donald M Innes, teacher, Gribun, Mull; Dr. 
M Donald of Killean, from whom " Teann- 
tachd mor na Feinn" was obtained the Doctor 
maintaining, it appears, that his version was 
a better one than that given by Gillies ; Archi 
bald M Callum in. Killean ; and others who 
furnish " Laoidh nan ceann," a poem found in 
the collection of the Dean of Lismore, as are 
several others of the M Callums collection. 

This collection is a very admirable one, 
perfectly honest, and presents us with somo 
compositions of high poetic merit. The ad 
dresses of Ossian to the sun, which Macpher 
son declines to give in Gaelic, substituting for 
one of them a series of asterisks, although ho 
gives it in English, are here given in both 
languages; and the Gaelic versions are perhaps 
the finest compositions in the book. The 
address to the setting sun is here given as i 
specimen of the M Callums collection : 






An d fhag tha gorm astar nan speur, 
A inhic gun bheud a s or bliuidh ciabh ? 
Tha dorsa na h-oidhche dhuit fein, 
Agus pailliuin do chlos s an lar, 

Thig na tonna mu n cuairt gu mall 
Choimhead an fhir a s gloine gruaidh, 
A togail fo eagal an ceaun 
Hi d fhaicinn olio aillidh a cl shuain; 
Tlieich iadsan gun tuar o d thaobli. 

Gabh-sa codal ann ad uaimh 
A ghrian, us pill an tus le h-aoibhneas. 

Mar bhoillsge grein s a gbeamhradh 
S e ruith n a dheann le raon Lena 
Is amhuil laithe nam Fiann. 
Mar ghrian eadar frasaibh a treigsinn 
Dh aom neoil chiar-dhubh nan speur, 
Us bhuin iad an deo aoibhinn o n t-sealgair, 
Tha lorn gheugau na coill a* caoidh, 
Is maoth lusrach an t-sleibh a seargadh ; 
Ach pillidh fathasd a ghrian 
Ki doire sgiamhach nan geug ura, 
Us nl gach crann s a Cheitean gaire 
Ag amharc an aird ri mac an speura. 

The collection of the M Callums was a real 
addition to the stores of Gaelic poetry, and is 
most helpful in bringing to a satisfactory con 
clusion the whole question of the ancient 
Gaelic poetry of Scotland. Were there no 
other Gaelic compositions in existence save 
those pieces which this volume contains, they 
would be sufficient to prove the high character 
of the heroic poetry of the Scottish Gael for 
everything that constitutes true poetic power. 

It would be wrong in such a sketch as this 
to overlook the interesting and ingenious con 
tribution made to the discussion of the Ossianic 
question in the third and fourth volumes of 
Mr. J. Campbell s Tales of the West H ;>//,- 
lands. The whole four volumes are full of in 
teresting materials for the student of Gaelic 
literature and antiquities, but the third and 
fourth volumes are those in which a place is 
given to the ancient Ossianic poems. Mr. 
( ampbell, the representative of a distinguished 
Highland family, and unlike many of the class 
to which he belongs, an excellent Gaelic scholar, 
made collections on his own account all over 
the Highlands. He had as his chief coadjutor 
in the work Mr. Hector M Lean, teacher in 
Islay, and he could not have had a better Mr 
M Lean being possessed of scholarship, en 
thusiasm, and sound judgment. The result is 
a very remarkable collection of the oral litera 
ture of the Highlands, including selections from 
a large amount of poetry attributed to Ossian. 
This book is a truly honest book, giving the 

English Translation. 

Hast thou left the blue course of the sky 4 

Faultless son of golden locks ? 

The gates of the night are for thee, 

And thy place of repose is in the west. 

The waves gather slowly around 

To see him of fairest countenance ; 

Raising their heads in fear. 

As they witness thy beauty in repose, 

They fled pale from thy side. 

Take thou rest in thy cave, 

sun, and return with rejoicing. 

As the sunbeam in the winter time 

Descending quick on the slope of Lena, 

So are the days of the Fingalians. 

As the sun becoming darkened among showers, 

The dark clouds of the sky descended 

And bore away the joyous light from the huntsman. 

The bare branches of the wood weep, 

And the soft herbage of the mountain withers. 

But the sun shall return again 

To the beautiful forest of the fresh-clothed branch, 

And each bough shall smile in the early summer, 

Looking up to the son of the sky. 

compositions collected just as they were found 
among the native Highlanders. We shall take 
occasion again to refer to the Sgeulachds, or 
tales, and shall only refer at present to the 
Ossianic remains presented to us by Mr. 

Mr. Campbell s collections include most of 
the pieces that have been brought together in 
the same way, with such variations, of course, 
as must be looked for in the circumstances. 
He furnishes us with a version of the Lay of 
Diarmad (vol. iii., 50), having peculiar features 
of its own, but to a large extent identical with 
the versions of the Dean of Lismore and of 
Gillies. It is of much interest to compare this 
version, taken down within the last few years, 
with one taken down one hundred years ago, 
and another taken down three hundred and 
tifty years ago. The retentive power of human 
memory for generations is remarkably illus 
trated by the comparison. Mr Campbell also 
gives us " The Lay of Oscar," The Praise of 
Gaul," "The Poem of Oscar," and several 
other minor compositions, some of which had 
never before been printed. These, with Mr. 
Campbell s own disquisitions, are full of in 
terest; but for the details we must refer the 
reader to Mr. Campbell s volumes. 

From all that has been written on the sub 
ject of these ancient Gaelic poems of Ossian, 
it is perfectly clear that Ossian himself is no 
creation of James Macpherson. His name has 
been familiar to the people both of the High- 



lauds and Ireland, for a thousand years and 
more. " Oisian an deigh na Feiiin," Ossian 
after the Fingalians, has been a proverbial 
saying among them for numberless generations. 
Nor did Macpherson invent Ossian s poems. 
There were poems reputed to be Ossian s in 
the Highlands for centuries before he was 
born, and poems, too, which for poetic power 
and interest are unsurpassed; which speak 
home to the heart of every man who can sym 
pathise with popular poetry marked by the 
richest felicities of diction; and which entitles 
them justly to all the commendation bestowed 
upon the poems edited by Macpherson. 


It will be seen that a large proportion of 
the existing Gaelic literature of the early period 
is poetical. Not that it is so altogether, by 
any means; and if any large amount of it had 
come down to us, there is no reason for be 
lieving that so large a share of it would be 
poetical. But the prose MS. writings of the 
ancient Gael have, with the few exceptions 
already referred to, perished; and have left us 
with such poetical compositions as adhered to 
the national memory. 

As we enter upon the era of printing, we 
are disposed to look for a more extensive lite 
rature, and no doubt we find it. But with the 
era of printing came the use of. another lan 
guage, and the Gaelic ceased to be the vehicle 
for carrying abroad the thoughts of the learned. 
Religion still continued to make use of its 
services, but it ceased to be the handmaid of 
science and philosophy. 

The first printed Gaelic book which we find 
is Bishop Carsewell s Gaelic translation of the 
Liturgy of John Knox. It is well known that 
Knox compiled a prayer-book for the use of 
the Scottish Reformed Church, and that it was 
thought desirable that this prayer-book should 
he translated into the Gaelic language for the 
use of the Highlanders. The translation was 
undertaken by Mr. John Carsewell, who was 
appointed superintendent of the ancient dio 
cese of Argyle, which office he filled for many 
years. The book was printed at Edinburgh, 
in 15G7. The language is what is in modern 
times called Irish, but might in Carsewell s 
time be called Scotch, for none other was 

written in Scotland in so far as Gaelic was 
written at all. There are but three copies 
of this book known to exist an entire 
copy in the library of the Duke of Argyle, 
and two imperfect copies, one in the library 
of the University of Edinburgh, and one 
in the British Museum. This book was 
printed before one line of Irish Gaelic was 
printed. Extracts from the volume will be 
found in the Highland Society s Report upon 
Ossian, and in M Lauchlaii s Celtic Gleanings. 
The former extract is made to show that the 
names of Fingal and the Fingalians were well 
known in the Highlands at the period of the 
Reformation. In 1631 a translation of Cal 
vin s Catechism appeared, probably executed 
by Carsewell. 

In 1659 appeared the first fifty of the Psalms 
of David in metre by the Synod of Argyle. 
It is called " An ceud chaogad do Shalmaibh 
Dhaibhidh a meadrachd Gaoidhilg," the first 
Fifty of the Psalms of David in. Gaelic Metre. 
The language of the original here is what is 
called Irish, although it is, as is the Gaelic oi 
Carsewell, the ordinary written Gaelic of the 
period. This translation forms the ground 
work of all the editions of the Psalms that 
have been used since in the Scottish Church. 
The rest of the Psalms followed the first fifty 
in 1694, and the Psalter of the Argyle Synod 
became then complete. The introduction to 
the little volume of 1659 details the difficulties 
which the authors met in converting the Psalms 
into Gaelic metre, one of which, they say, was 
the necessity of adapting them to the structure 
of the English Psalm tunes. How Gaelic con 
gregational singing Avas conducted in the 
Highlands previous to this little book appear 
ing, it is hard to say. The introduction con 
cludes with the words, " Anois, a Legthora, 
dense dithcheall aim sann obair bhigse bhui- 
liughadh gu maith, agus guidh ar an Tigh- 
earna e fein do bheannughadh an tshoisgeil 
ana sna tirthaibh gaoidhlachsa, agus lasair 
shoilleir Ian teasa do dheanamh don tsraid 
bhig do lasadh cheana ionta. Grasa maillo 

English Translation. 

" And now, reader, strive to use this little 
work, and pray the Lord that He himself 
would bless the gospel in these Gaelic lands, 



and that He would make a bright flame full 
of heat of this little spark which has been 
now lighted in it." 

This little volume is now scarce, but full of 
interest to the Gaelic student. 

Alongside of the Synod of Argyle, another 
indefatigable labourer in the same field was at 
work. This was Mr Robert Kirk, minister at 
Balquhidder. There seems to have been no 
Rob Roy in the district at the time, and Mr. 
Kirk appears to have had a quiet life in his 
Highland parish ; more so, indeed, than other 
Scottish ministers of the time, for he seems to 
have been engaged in his translation during 
the heat of the persecution of the Covenanters, 
and it was published in 1684, four years 
before the Revolution. Kirk is said to have 
been so anxious to have precedence of the 
Synod of Argyle, that he invented a machine 
for awakening him in the morning by means 
of water made to fall upon his face at a certain 
hour. His Psalter preceded that of the Synod 
by a period of ten years. 

Mr Kirk dedicates his volume, which is 
published with the sanction of the Privy 
Council, and with the approbation of "the Lords 
of the Clergy, and some reverend ministers 
who best understand the Irish language," to 
the Marquis of Athole, &c., of whom he says 
that his " Lordship has been of undoubted 
courage and loyalty for the king, and still 
alongst inflexible to the persuasions or threats 
of frozen neutralists or flaming incendiaries in 
Church or State." Kirk further states that 
the work was " done by such as attained not 
the tongue (which he calls Scottish-Irish) with 
out indefatigable industry," manifestly point 
ing to himself as one who had so acquired it. 

This little volume of the minister of Bal 
quhidder is a most interesting contribution to 
our Gaelic literature. The language is what 
many writers call Irish, although there is 
no reason to believe that Mr Kirk ever was 
in Ireland, or conversed with speakers of 
Irish Gaelic. He knew and used the dialect 
which writers of the Gaelic language had used 
for centuries, and used at the time. No Irish 
writer could use a dialect more purely Irish 
than that found in Kirk s Gaelic preface. 
Kirk concludes his preface with the following 
lines : 

Imtliigh a Dhuilleachain gu dan, 
Le Dan glan diagha duisg iad th.ill. 

Cuir failte air Fonu fial na bFionn, 
Ar garbh-chriocha, s Indseadh gall. 

English Translation. 
Go, little leaflet, boldly, 

With pure holy songs wake them yonder, 
Salute the hospitable land of the Fingalians, 

The rugged borders, and the Isles of the strangers. 

" The land of the Fingalians" was the High 
lands generally; "the rugged borders" was 
the west coast of Inverness- shire and Ross- 
shire ; and " the Isles of the Strangers " were 
the Hebrides, so called from being long in 
possession of the Norsemen. 

In 1690 Mr Kirk edited in Roman letters 
an edition of Bedel s Irish Bible, with O Don- 
nell s New Testament, for the use of the High 
landers. Kirk says in the title-page of the work, 
Nocha ta anois chum maitheas coit-cheann 
na nGaoidheil Albanach athruighte go hair- 
each as an litir Eireandha chum na mion-litir 
shoileighidh Romhanta " whick is now for the 
common good of the Highlanders changed care 
fully from the Irish letter to the small readable 
Roman letter. At the close of the book there 
is a vocabulary of Irish words with their 
Gaelic equivalents. Many of the equivalents 
are as difficult to understand as the original 

In 1694 the completed Psalm-book of the 
Synod of Argyle appeared. It was very gene 
rally accepted, and although some editions of 
Kirk s Psalter appeared, the Synod s Psalter 
became the Psalter of the Church, and was 
the basis of all the metrical versions of the 
Gaelic Psalms that have appeared since. 

The Shorter Catechism was published in 
Gaelic by the Synod of Argyle about the same 
time with their first fifty Psalms. Numerous 
editions have been printed since, and perhaps 
there is no better specimen of the Gaelic lan 
guage in existence than what is to be found 
in the common versions of it. The earlier ver 
sions are in the dialect so often referred to, 
called Irish. The title of the book is " Foir- 
ceadul aithghearr cheasnuighe, an dus ar na 
ordughadh le coimhthional na Ndiaghaireadh 
ag Niarmhanister an Sasgan, &c." That may 
be called Irish, but it was a Scottish book 
written by Scottish men. 

In 1725 the Synod of Argyle, who cannot 
be too highly commended for their anxiety to 



promote the spiritual good of their countrymen. 
in the Highlands, published a translation of 
the Confession of Faith into Gaelic. It is a 
small duodecimo volume printed at Edinburgh. 
The Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with the 
Ten Commandments, the Lord s Prayer, and 
the Creed follow the Confession. The book is 
well printed, and the language is still the so- 
called Irish. The title runs : " Admhail an 
Chreidimh, air an do reitigh air ttus coimh- 
thionol na nDiaghaireadh aig Niarmhoinister 
an Sasgan ; &c. . . ar na chur a Ngaoidheilg le 
Seanadh Earraghaoidheal." The Confession of 
Faith, fyc., translated into Gaelic by the Synod 
of Argyle. 

It is interesting Avith respect to the dialect 
in Avhich all the works referred to appear, to 
inquire whence the writers obtained it, if it be 
simply Irish. Carsewell s Prayer-book ap 
peared before any work in Irish Gaelic was 
printed. The ministers of the Synod of 
Argyle were surely Scottish Highlanders and 
not Irishmen. Mr Kirk of Balquidder was a 
lowland Scot who acquired the Gaelic tongue. 
Now these men, so far as we know, were never 
in Ireland, and there were no Irish-Gaelic 
books from which they could acquire the 
tongue. There might be manuscripts, but it is 
not very probable that men would inspect 
manuscripts in order to enable them to write 
in a dialect that was foreign to the people 
whom they intended to benefit. Yet these all 
write in the same dialect, and with the identical 
same orthography. Surely this proves that 
the Scottish Gael were perfectly familiar with 
that dialect as the language of their literature, 
that its orthography among them was fixed, 
that the practice of writing it was common, as 
much so as among the Irish, and that the 
people readily understood it. It is well known 
that the reading of the Irish Bible was common 
in Highland churches down to the beginning 
of this century, and that the letter was, from 
the abbreviations used, called " A chorra litir," 
and was familiar to the people. At the same 
time, the language was uniformly called Irish, 
as the people of the Highlands were called Irish, 
although there never was a greater misnomer. 
Such a designation was never employed by the 
people themselves, and was only used by those 
who wrote and spoke English. In the title of 

the Confession of Eaith published in Gaelic in 
1725, it is said to be translated into the Irish 
language by the Synod of Argyle. 


Religious works formed the staple of the 
literature issued from the Gaelic press from 
the period now spoken of to the present day. 
The great want for many years was the Bible. 
For a long time the clergy used the Irish 
edition reprinted for the use of the Highlands 
by Mr Kirk ; but this was not satisfactory, 
from the difference of the dialect ; many in 
consequence preferred translating from the 
English. This habit pervaded all classes, and 
it is not improbable that there are in the High 
lands still persons who prefer translating the 
Scriptures for their own use to the common 
version. Certain traditional forms of transla 
tion were at one time in general use, and occa 
sionally the translations given bordered on the 
ludicrous. A worthy man was once translating 
the phrase " And they were astonied," and he 
made it " Bha iad air an clachadh, They were 
stoned. It was in every way desirable that a 
correct translation of the Gaelic Bible should 
be provided for the use of the Highlands, and 
this was finally undertaken by the Society for 
Propagating Christian Knowledge. The per 
son employed to perform the work was the 
Eev. James Stewart of Killin, a man fully 
qualified for it, and although his translation 
retained too much of the Irish dialect of 
O Donnell s Irish New Testament, it was wel 
comed as a highly creditable work, and as a 
great boon to the Highlands. Many minor 
changes have been made in the Gaelic New 
Testament of 1767, but it has been the basis 
of all subsequent editions which have sought 
merely to render certain portions of the work 
more idiomatic and pleasing to a Scottish ear. 
The publishing of this version of the New 
Testament proved a great benefit to the High 

Soon after the publication of the New Testa 
ment, it was resolved that the Old Testament 
should be translated into Gaelic also. This 
work, like the former, was undertaken by the 
Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, 
assisted by a collection made throughout 
the congregations of the Church of Scotland 


amounting to 1483. The principal translator 
employed was the Rev. Dr John Stewart of 
Luss, son of the translator of the New Testa 
ment, who translated three portions of the 
work, while a fourth portion, including the 
Prophets, was executed by the Rev. Dr Smith, 
of Campbellton, the accomplished editor of 
the Sean Dana. The whole work was 
completed and published in the year 1801. 
This work has been of incalculable service 
to the Highlands, and is one of the many 
benefits conferred upon that portion of the 
country by the excellent Society who under 
took it. Objections have been taken to the 
many Irish idioms introduced into the language, 
and to the extent to which the Irish ortho 
graphy was followed, but these are minor faults, 
and the work itself is entitled to all commenda 

Alleine s Alarm is an admirable specimen of 
translation, and is altogether worthy of the 
fame of Dr Smith. The same may be said of 
Mr M Farlane s translation of The History of 
Joseph, which is an excellent specimen of 
Gaelic writing. The Monthly Visitor tract 
has been translated by the writer for the last 
twelve years, and it has a large circulation. 



Much of our modern Gaelic prose literatiire 
consists of translations from the English. In 
this the Gaelic differs from the Welsh, in which 
is to be found a large amount of original prose 
writing on various subjects. This has arisen 
from the demand for such a literature being 
less among the Highlanders, among whom the 
English language has made greater progress, so 
much so, that when a desire for extensive read 
ing exists, it is generally attended with a suffi 
cient knowledge of English. Translations of 
religious works, however, have been relished, 
and pretty ample provision has been made to 
meet the demand. The first book printed in 
modern Scottish Gaelic was a translation of 
Baxter s Call to the Unconverted, executed by 
the Rev. Alex. M Farlane, of Kilninver, and 
published in 1750. There is much of the 
Irish orthography and idiom retained in this 
work, but it is a near approach to the modern 
spoken language of the Highlands. Since 
then many of the works of well-known religious 
authors have been translated and published, 
among which may be mentioned works by 
Boston, Bunyan, Brookes, Colquhoun, and 
Dodd ridge. These are much prized and read 
throughout the Highlands. The translations 
are of various excellence; some of them accurate 
and elegant, while others are deficient in 
both these qualities. Dr Smith s version of 

Of these Mr Reid, in his Bibliotheca Scoto- 
Celtica, gives but a scanty catalogue. He gives 
but a list of ten, most of them single sermons. 
There are several other such writings, however, 
which have been added since Reid s list was 
made up. Among these appears M Kenzie s 
Bliadhna Thearlaich, " Charles s year," a 
vigorous well-written account of the rebellion of 
1 745-6. M Kenzie was the compiler of a volume 
of Gaelic poetry in which the best specimens of 
the works of the bards are generally given, and 
although having ideas of his own on the subject 
of orthography, few men knew the Gaelic lan 
guage better. We have also a volume on astro 
nomy by the Rev. D. Connell ; and a History 
of Scotland by the Rev. Angus Mackenzie, both 
of them creditable performances. It is doubtful 
how far these works have been patronised by 
the public, and how far they have been of 
pecuniary benefit to their authors, but they are 
deserving works, and if they have not proved 
a remunerative investment, it is from want of 
interest on the part of the readers more than 
from want of ability on the part of the writers. 
In addition to these have been several maga 
zines, the contents of which have in some in 
stances been collected into a volume and pub 
lished separately. Of these are An teachdair 
Gaidhealach, " The Gaelic Messenger," edited 
by the late Rev. Dr M Leod of Glasgow, and a 
Free Church magazine An Fhianuis, "The Wit 
ness," edited by the Rev. Dr Mackay, now of 
Harris. " The Gaelic Messenger," An Teach- 
daire Gaidhealach, contained a large propor 
tion of papers furnished by the editor, Dr 
M Leod. These have been since that time col 
lected into a volume by his son-in-law the Rev. 
Archibald Clerk of Kilmallie, and published 
under the title of Caraid nan Gaidheal, " The 
Friend of the Highlanders." This is an admir 
able volume, containing, as it does, our best 



specimens of racy, idiomatic Gaelic, of which 
Dr M Leod was a master. It is a most in 
teresting addition to our Gaelic literature. 
Besides this, Dr M Leod produced Leabhar 
nan Cnoc, "The Book of the Knowes," a school 
collection of prose and poetry, and several 
other lesser works. The Leabhar nan Cnoc is 
an admirable collection of fragments, well 
adapted for school use, and at the same time 
interesting to the general reader, 

But the most remarkable addition that has 
recently been made to Gaelic prose literature 
is Mr J. F. Campbell s collection of " Sgeu- 
lachdan" or ancient Highland tales. It was 
long known that a large amount of this kind 
of literature existed in the Highlands ; that it 
formed the treasure of the reciter, a character 
recognised and appreciated in every small com 
munity ; and that it was the staple fireside 
amusement of many a winter evening. Speci 
mens of this literature appeared occasionally in 
print, and one of great interest, and remarkably 
well given, called Spiorad na h-aoise, "The 
Spirit of Age," appears in LeaHhar nan Cnoc, 
the collection already spoken of. Mr Campbell 
set himself to collect this literature from the 
traditions of the people, and he has embodied 
the result in four goodly volumes, which every 
lover of the language and literature of the Celt 
must pri/e. Many coadj utors aided Mr Camp 
bell in his undertaking, and he was happy in 
finding, as has been already said, in Mr Hector 
M Lean, teacher, Islay, a most efficient collector 
and transcriber of the tales. These tales were 
known among the Highlanders as " Sgeulach- 
dan " Tales, or " TJrsgeulan " Xoblo Tales, the 
latter having reference usually to stories of the 
Fingalian heroes. They are chiefly " Folk 
lore " of the kinds which are now known to 
pervade the world amongst a certain class as 
their oral literature. The Tales themselves are 
of various degrees of merit, and are manifestly 
derived from various sources. Some of them 
took their origin in the fertile imagination 


Bha bantrach aim roimhe so, us bha tri nigheanan 
aice, us thubhairt iad rithe, gu n rachadh iad a dh iarr- 
ai.lh an fhortain. Dheasaich i tri bonnaich. Tlui- 
bhairt iris an te mhoir, "Co aca is fhearr leat an leth 
bheag us mo bheannachd, no n leth mhor s mo mhall- 
achd ? " "Is fhearr learn, ars ise, an leth mhor us do 
mhallachd. Thubhairt i ris an te mheadhonaich, 

of the Celt, while others are obviously of 
classical origin, and are an adaptation of 
ancient Greek arid Latin stories to the 
taste of the Celt of Scotland. Mr Camp 
bell, in his disquisitions accompanying the 
tales, which are often as amusing and instruc 
tive as the tales themselves, traces numerous 
bonds of connection between them and similar 
legends common to almost all the European 
nations. He shows where they meet and 
where they diverge, and makes it very clear 
that most of them must have had a common 
origin. It has been maintained that many of 
these legends were brought to Scotland by re 
turning Crusaders ; that they were often the 
amusement of the camp among these soldiers 
of the ancient Church ; and that, related 
among hearers of all nations, they became dis 
persed among those nations, and that thus 
Scotland came to obtain and to retain her 
share of them. 

That Scotland felt largely the influence of 
the Crusades cannot be denied by any obser 
vant student of her history. Her whole politi 
cal and social system was modified by them, 
while to them is largely due the place and 
power which the mediaeval Church obtained, 
under the government of David I. That Scot 
tish literature should have felt their influence 
is more than likely, and it is possible, although 
it is hardly safe to go further, that some of 
these tales of the Scottish Highlands owe 
their existence to the wanderings of Scottish 
Crusaders. Be their origin, however, what it 
may, they afford a deeply interesting field of 
enquiry to the student of the popular literature 
of the country. In our own view, they are of 
great value, as presenting us with admirable 
specimens of idiomatic Gaelic. We transcribe 
one tale, making use of the ordinary ortho 
graphy of the Gaelic, Mr Campbell having used 
forms of spelling which might serve to expres 
the peculiarities of the dialect in which he 
found them couched. 

English Translation. 

There was a widow once of a time, and she liad 
three daughters, and they said to her that they were 
going to seek their fortunes. !She prepared three 
bannocks. She said to the big daughter, "Whether 
do you like best the little half with my blessing, or 
the big half with my curse ?" "I like best," said 
she, "the big half with your curse." She said to the 



"Co aca s fhearr leat an leth bheag us mo bheannachd, 
no n leth mhor us mo mhallachd." " Is fhearr learn 
an leth mh6r us do mhallachd," ars ise. Thubhairt 
i ris an te bhig, Co aca s fhearr leat an leth mhor us 
mo mhallachd, no n leth blieag s mo bheannachd ? " 
" Is fhearr leam an leth bheag us do bheannachd." 
Chord so r a mathair, us thug i dhi an leth eile cuid- 

Dh fhalbh iad, ach cha robh toil aig an dithis bu 
dhine an t6 b oige bhi leo, us cheangail iad i ri carr- 
agh cloiche. Ghabh iad air an aghaidh, s n uair a 
dh amhairc iad as an deigh, co a chunnaic iad ach ise 
us a chreig air a muin. Leig iad leatha car treis gus 
an d rainig iad cruach mhoine, us cheangail iad ris a 
chruaich mhoine i. Ghabh iad air an aghaidh treis, 
us dh amhairc iad n an deigh, us c6 a chunnaic iad 
ach ise a tighinn, s a chruach mhoine air a muin. 
Leig iad leatha car tacan gus an d rainig iad craobh, 
us cheangail iad ris a chraoibh i. Ghabh iad air an 
aghaidh treis, us n uair a dh amhairc iad n an deigh, 
c6 a chunnaic iad ach ise a tighinn, s a chraobh air a 
muin. Chunnaic iad nach robh maith bhi rithe. 
Dh fhuasgail iad i us leig iad leo i. Bha iad a falbh 
gus an d thainig an oidhche orra. Chunnaic iad solus 
facia uatha, us ma b fhada uatha, cha b fhada bha 
iadsan g a ruigheachd. Chaidh iad a stigh. Ciod e 
bha so ach tigh famhair. Dh iarr iad fuireach s an 
oidliclie. Fhuair iad sin us chuireadh a luidhe iad le 
tri nigheanan an f hamhair. 

Bha caran de chneapan ombair mu mhuinealan 
nigheanan an fhamhair, agus sreangan gaosaid niu m 
muinealan-san. Choidil iad air fad, ach cha do choidil 
Maol a chliobain. Feadh na h-oidhche thainig path- 
adh air an fhamhar. Ghlaodh e r a ghille maol carrach 
uisge thoirt d a ionnsuidh. Thubhairt an gille maol 
Carrach nach robh deur a stigh. "Marbh, ars esan, 
tc de na nigheanan coimheach, us thoir a m ionnsuidh- 
seafuil." "Ciamar a dh aithnicheas mi eatorra?" 
ars an gille maol carrach. " Tha caran de chneapan 
inu mhuinealan mo nigheanan-sa, agus caran gaosaid 
mu mhuinealan chaich." Clmala Maol a chliobain am 
famhar, us cho clis s a b urrainn i, chuir i na srean- 
ganan gaosaid a bha m a muineal fein agus mu mhui 
nealan a peathraichean mu mhuinealan nigheanan an 
fhamhair, agus na cneapan a bha mu mhuinealan 
nigheanan an fhamhair m a muineal fein agus niu 
mhuiuealan a peathraichean, us luidh i sios gu samh- 
ach. Thainig an gille maol carrach, us mharbh 
e te de nigheanan an fhamhair, us thug e an fhuil d a 
ionnsuidh. Dh iarr e tuilleadh a thoirt d a ionnsuidh. 
Mharbh e an ath the. Dh iarr e tuilleadh us mharbh 
e an treas te. Dhuisg Maol a chliobain a peathraich 
ean, us thug i air a muin iad, us ghabh i air falbh. 
Mhothaich am famhar dith us lean e i. 

Na spreadan teine a bha ise cur as na clachan le a 
saillean, bha iad a bualadh an fhamhair s an smigead ; 
agus na spreadan teine a bha am famhar toirt as na 
clachan le barraibh a chos, bha iad a bualadh Mhaol 
a chliobain an cul a chinn. Is e so bu dual doibh 
gus an d rainig iad amhainn. Leum Maol a chliobain 
an amhainn us cha b urrainn am famhar an amhainn 
a leum. "Tha thu thall, a Mhaol a chliobain." 
"Tha, ma s oil leat." "Mharbh thu mo thrl nigh 
eanan maola, ruagha." " Mharbh, ma s oil leat." 
" Us c uine thig thu ris ? " " Thig, n uair bheir mo 
glinothuch ann mi." 

Ghabh iad air an aghaidh gus an d rainig iad tigh 
tuathanaich. Bha aig an tuathanach tri mic. Dh innis 
lad mar a thachair dhoibh. Ars an tuatha ach ri 
Maol a chliobain, "Bheir mi mo mhac a s sine do d 
phiuthair a s sine, us faigh dhomh cir mhin oir, us 
dr gharbh airgid, a th aig an fhamhar," "Cha chosd 
e tuilleadh dhuit," ars Maol a chliobain. Dh fhalbh 
i us rainig i tigh an fhamhair. Fhuair i stigh gun 
t hios. Thug i leatha na cirean us dhalbh i mach. 

middle one, " Whether do you like best the big half 
with my curse, or the little half with my blessing ? " 
"I like best," said she, "the big half with your 
curse." She said to the little one, " Whether do you 
like best the big half with my curse, or the little half 
with my blessing ? " "I like best the little half with 
your blessing." This pleased her mother, and she 
gave her the other half likewise. 

They left, but the two older ones did not wish to 
have the younger one with them, and they tied her to 
a stone. They held on, and when they looked be 
hind them, whom did they see coming but her with 
the rock on her back. They let her alone for a while 
until they reached a stack of peats, and they tied her 
to the peat-stack. They held on for a while, when 
whom did they see coming but her with the stack of 
peats on her back. They let her alone for a while 
until they reached a tree, and they tied her to the 
tree. They held on, and whom did they see coming 
but her with the tree on her back. They saw that 
there was no use in meddling with her. They loosed 
her, and they let her come with them. They were 
travelling until night overtook them. They saw a 
light far from them, and if it was far from them they 
were not long reaching it. They went in. What 
was this but the house of a giant. They asked to 
remain overnight. They got that, and they were set 
to bed with the three daughters of the giant. 

There were turns of amber beads around the necks 
of the giant s daughters, and strings of hair around 
their necks. They all slept, but Maol a chliobain 
kept awake. During the night the giant got thirsty. 
He called to his bald rough-skinned lad to bring him 
water. The bald rough-skinned lad said that there 
was not a drop within. "Kill," said he, "one of 
the strange girls, and bring me her blood." "How 
v,-ill I know them ? " said the bald rough-skinned lad. 
"There are turns of beads about the necks of my 
daughters, and turns of hair about the necks of the 
rest." Maol a chliobain heard the giant, and as 
quickly as she could she put the strings of hair that 
were about her own neck and the necks of her sisters 
about the necks of the giant s daughters, and the 
beads that were about the necks of the giant s daugh 
ters about her own neck and the necks of her sisters, 
and laid herself quietly down. The bald rough- 
skinned lad came and killed one of the daughters of 
the giant, and brought him her blood. He bade him 
bring him more. He killed the second one. He bad 
him bring hi?n more, and he killed the third. Maox 
a chliobain wakened her sisters, and she took them on 
her back and went away. The giant observed her, 
and he followed her. 

The sparks of fire which she was driving out of the 
stones with her heels were striking the giant in the 
chin, and the sparks of fire that the giant was taking 
out of the stones with the points of his feet, they were 
striking Maol a chliobain in the back of her head. 
It was thus with them until they reached a river. 
Maol a chliobain leaped the river, and the giant could 
not leap the river. "You are over, Maol a chlio 
bain." "Yes, if it vex you." "You killed my 
three bald red-skinned daughters." "Yes, if it vex 
you." "And when will you come again?" " I will 
come when my business brings me." 

They went on till they reached a farmer s house. 
The farmer had three sons. They told what happened 
to them. Says the farmer to Maol a chliobain, "I 
will give my eldest son to your eldest sister, and get 
for me the smooth golden comb and the rough silver 
comb that the giant has." "It won t cost you more," 
said Maol a chliobain. She left and reached the giant s 
house. She got in without being seen. She took the 
combs and hastened out. The giant observed her, and 



Mhothaich am fatnhar dluth ; us as a deigh a bha e 
gus an d rainig e an amhainn. Leum ise an amhainn 
us cha b urrainn am famhar an amhainn a leum. 
" Tha thu thall, a Mhaol a chliobain." " Tha, ma s 
oil leat." "Mharbh, thu mo thri nigheanan maola, 
rtiagha." "Mharbh, ma s oil leat." " Ghoid thu 
mo chir mhln 6ir, us mo chir gharbh airgid." 
"Ghoid, ma s oil leat." "C 1 uine thig thu ris ? " 
" Thig, n uair bheir mo ghnothuch ann mi." 

Thug i na cirean thun an tuathanaich, us phos a 
piuthair mhor-sa mac m6r an tuathanaich. 

"Bheir mi mo mhac meadhonach do d pliiuthair 
mheadhonaich, us- faigh dhornh claidheamh soluis an 
fhamhair." "Cha cnosd e tuilleadh dhuit," ars 
Maol a chliobain. Ghabh i air falbh, us rainig i tigh 
an fhamhair. Chaidh i suas ann an barr craoibhe 
bha os cionn tobair an fhamhair. Anns an oidhche 
thainig an gille maol carrach, us an claidheamh 
soluis leis, a dh iarraidh uisge. An uair a chroin e a 
thogail an uisge, thainig Maol a chliobain a nuas, us 
phut i sios s an tobar e us bhath i e, us thug i leatha 
an claidheamh soluis. Lean am famhar i gus an 
d rainig i an amhainn. Leum i an amhainn, us cha 
b urrainn am famhar a leantuinn. Tha thu thall, a 
Mhaol a chliobain." "Tha, ma s oil leat." "Mharbh 
thu mo thri nigheanan maola, ruadha." "Mharbh 
ma s oil leat." " Ghoid thu mo chir mhln 6ir, s mo 
chir gharbh airgid." "Ghoid, ma s oil leat." 
"Mharbh thu mo ghille maol carrach." "Mharbh 
ma s oil leat." " Ghoid thu mo chlaidheamh soluis." 
"Ghoid, ma s oil leat." " C uine thig thu ris." 
" Thig, n uair bheir mo ghnothuch ann mi." Rainig 
i tigh an tuathanaich leis a 1 chlaidheamh sholuis, us 
ph6s a piuthair mheadhonach us mac meadhonach an 

" Bheir mi dhuit feiu mo mhac a s oige," ars an 
tuathanach, " us thoir a m ionnsuidh boc a th aig an 
fhamhar. " "Cha chosd e tuilleadh dhuit" ars Maol 
a chliobain. Dh fhalbh i us ramig i tigh an fhamh 
air, ach an uair a bha greim aice air a bhoc, rug am 
famhar, oirre. Ciod e " ars am famhar, a dheanadh 
tus onnsa, nan deanainn uibhir a choire ort s a rinn 
thus ormsa. " " Bheirinn ort gu n sgaineadh tu thu 
fhein le brochan bainne ; chuirinn an sin ann am poc 
thu ; chrochainn thu ri druim an tighe ; chuirinn teine 
fothad ; us ghabhaiim duit le cabar gus an tuiteadh thu 
n ad chual chriouaich air an urlar. Rinn am famhar 
brochan bainne us thugar dhith ri 61 e. Chuir ise am 
brochan bainne in a beul us m a h-eudainn, us luidh 
i seachad mar gu m bitheadh i marbh. Chuir am 
famhar ann am poc i, us chroch e i ri druim an tighe, 
us dh f halbh e f hein us a dhaoine a dh iarraidh fiodha 
do n choille. Bha mathair an fhamhair a stigh. Their- 
eadh Maol a chliobain n uair a dh f halbh am famhar, 
"Is mise tha s an t-s61as, is mise tha s a chaithir 
5ir." "An leig thu mise ann?" ars a chailleach. 
"Cha leig, gu dearbh." Mu dheireadh, leig i nuas 
am poca; chuir i stigh a chailleach, us cat, uslaogh, 
us soitheach uachdair ; thug i leatha am boc, us 
dh fhalbh i. An uair a thainig am famhar, thoisiche 
fhein us a dhaoine air a phoca leis na cabair. Bha a 
chailleach a glaodhaich, " S mi fhein a th ann." 
" Tha fios again gur tu fhein a th ann," theireadh am 
famhar, us e ag eiridh air a phoca. Thainig am poc 
a nuas n a chual chrionaich us ciod e bha ann ach a 
mhathair. An uair a chunnaic am famhar mar a bha, 
thug e as an deigh Mhaol a chliobain. Lean e i gus 
an d rainig i an amhainn. Leum Maol a chliobain an 
amhainn us cha b urrainn am famhar a leum. "Tha 
thu thall, a Mhaol a chliobain." "Tha, ma s oil 
leat." "Mharbh thu mo thri nigheanan maola, 
ruadha." "Mharbh, ma s oil leat" "Ghoid thu 
mo chir mhin 6ir, us mo chir gharbh airgid." 
"Ghoid, ma s oil leat." "Mharbh tlm mo ghille 
maol, carrach. " Mharbh, ma s oil leat. Ghoid 


after her lie went until they reached the river. She 
leaped the river, and the giant could not leap the 
river. " You are over, Maol a chliobain." "Yes, if 
it vex you." " You killed my three bald red-skinned 
daughters." "Yes, if it vex you." "You stole my 
smooth golden comb arid my rough silver comb." 
" Yes, if it vex you." " When will you come again." 
" When my business brings me." 

She brought the combs to the farmer, and the big 
sister married the big son of the farmer. 

I will give my middle son to your middle sister, 
and get for me the giant s sword of light." " It won t 
cost you more," says Maol a chliobain." She went 
away, and reached the giant s house. She went up 
in the top of a tree that was above the giant s well. 
In the night the bald, rough-skinned lad came for 
water, having the sword of light with him. When 
he bent over to raise the water, Maol a chliobain 
came down and pushed him into the well and drowned 
him, and took away the sword of light. The giant 
followed her till she reached the river. She leaped 
the river, and the giant could not follow her. " You 
are over, Maol a chliobain." "Yes, if it vex you." 
"You killed my three bald red-haired daughters." 
" Yes, if it vex you." "You stole my smooth golden 
comb and my rough silver comb." "Yes, if it vex 
you." "You killed my bald rough-skinned lad." 
" Yes, if it vex you." "You stole my sword of 
light." "Yes, if it vex you." "When will you 
come again?" "When my business brings me." 
She reached the farmer s house with the sword of 
light, and her middle sister married the middle son 
of the farmer. 

"I will give yourself my youngest son," said the 
farmer, "and bring me the buck that the giant has." 
" It won t cost you more," said Maol a chliobain. 
She went and she reached the giant s house, but as 
she got hold of the buck, the giant laid hands upon 
her. " What," said the giant, " would you do to me 
if I had done to you as much harm as you have done 
to me?" "I would make you burst yourself with 
milk porridge. I would then put you in a bag ; I 
would hang you to the roof of the house ; I would 
place fire under you; and I would beat you with 
sticks until you fell a bundle of dry sticks on the 
floor." The giant made milk porridge, and gave it 
her to drink. She spread the milk porridge over her 
mouth and her face, and lay down as if she had been 
dead. The giant put her in a bag which he hung to 
the roof of the house, and he and his men went to the 
wood to get sticks. The mother of the giant was in. 
When the giant went away, Maol a chliobain cried, 
" It is I that am in comfort ; it is I that am in the 
golden seat." "Will you let me there?" said the 
hag. "No, indeed." At length she let down the 
bag ; she put the hag inside, and a cat, and a calf, 
and a dish of cream ; she took away the buck, and 
she left. When the giant came, he and his men Ml 
upon the bag with the sticks. The hag was crying 
out, " It s myself that s here." "I know it is your 
self that s there," the giant would say, striking the 
bag. The bag fell down a bundle of dry sticks, and 
what was there but his mother. When the giant saw 
how it was, he set off after Maol a chliobain. He 
followed her till she reached the river. Maol a 
chliobain leaped the river, but the giant could not 
leap the river. "You are over, Maol a chliobain." 
"Yes, if it vex you." "You killed my three bald 
red-skinned daughters." "Yes, if it vex you." 
" You stole my smooth golden comb and my rough 
silver comb." "Yes, if it vex you." "You killed 
my bald, rough-skinned lad." " Yes, if it vex you." 
"You stole my sword of light." "Yes, if it vex 




thu mo chlaidlieamh soluis. " " Ghoid, ma s oil leat." 
" Mharbli thu mo mhathair. " " Mharbh, ma s oil 
leat." "Ghoid thu mo blioc." "Ghoid, ma s oil 
leat. " " C uine a thig thu ris ? " " Thig n uair bheir 
mo ghnothuch ann mi." " Nam bitheadh tusa bhos 
us mise thall" ars arn famhar, " Ciod e dheanadh tu 
airson mo leantuinn ? " " btopainn mi fhein, agus 
dh olainn gus an traoghainn, an amhainn." Stop am 
famhar e fhein, us dh 61 e gus an do sgain e. Phos 
Maol a chliobain Mac 6g an tuathanaich. 

The above is a fair specimen of these tales 
with which the story-tellers of the Highlands 
were wont to entertain their listeners, and pass 
agreeably a long winter evening. The ver 
sions of such tales are various, but the general 
line of the narrative is always the same. 
Scores of these tales may still be picked up 
in the West Highlands, although Mr Campbell 
has sifted them most carefully and skilfully, 
and given to the public those which are un 
doubtedly best. The following is a specimen 



Bha fear air astar uaireigin mu thuath, a reir coslais, 
nui Shiorramachd Inbhiri is. Bha e a coiseachd la, 
us chunnaic e fear a buain sgrath leis an lar-chaipe. 
Thainig c far an robh an duine. Thubhairt e ris, 
" Oh, nach scan sibhse, dhuinc, ris an obair sin." 
Thubhairt an duine ris, " Oh,nam faiceadh tu m athair, 
is e a s sine na mise." "D athair" ars an duine, 
"am bheil d athair be6 s an t-saoghal fhathasd?" 
"Oh, tha" ars esan. " C kite am bheil d athair" 
ars 1 esan, "am b urrainn mi "fhaicinn?" " Uh, is 
urrainn" ars esan, "tha e a tarruing dhathigh nan 
sgrath." Dh innis e an rathad a ghabhadh e ach am 
faiceadh e "athair. Thainig e far an robh e. Thu 
bhairt e ris, " Nach sean sibhse, dhuine, ris an obair 
sin." " Uh," ars esan, "nam faiceadh tu m athair, 
is e a s sine na mise. " Oh, .1111 bheil d athair s an 
t-saoghal fhathasd ?" " Uh, tha, " ars esan. " C aite 
am bheil e" ars esan, "an urrainn mi fhaicinn?" 
Uh, is urrainn, " ars esan, tha e a tilgeadh nan 
sgrath air an tigh. " Rainig e am fear a bha tilgeadh 
nan sgrath. " Oh, nach sean sibhse, dhuine, ris an 
obair sin," ars esan. " Uh, nam faiceadh tu m athair," 
ars esan, "tha e m6ran na s sine na mise." "Am 
bheil d athair agam r a fhaicinn ?" " Uh, tha," ars 
esan, "rach timchioll, us chi thu e a cur nan sgrath." 
Thainig e us chunnaic e am fear a bha cur nan 
sgrath. " Oh, a dhuine" ars esan, "is m6r an aois 
a dh fheumas sibse a bhi." " Oh," ars esan, " nam 
faiceadh tu m athair." "An urrainn mi d athair 
fhaicinn ?" ars esan, " C aite am bheil e ? " " Mata " 
ars an duine, is olach tapaidh coltach thu, tha mi 
creidsinn gu m faod mi m athair a shealltuinn duit. 
" Tha e," ars esan, " stigh ann an geadan cloimhe an 
ceann eile an tighe." Chaidh e stigh leis g a fhaicinn. 
Bha ua h-uile gin diubhsan ro mhor, nach eil an 
leithid a nis r a f haotainn. " Tha duine beag an so," 
ars esan, athair, "air am bheil coslas olaich thapaidh, 
Albaunach, us toil aige ur faieinn." Bhruidhinn 
e ris, us thubbairt e, " Co as a thainig thu ? Thoir 
dhomh do lamh, Albannaich. " Thug a mhac lamh air 
seann choltair croinn a bha na luidhe laimh riu. 
Shnaim e aodach uime. " Thoir dha sin," ars esan 
ris an Albannach, " us na toir dha do lamh." ling 

you." "You killed my mother." "Yes, if it vex 
you." "You stole my buck." " Yes, if it vex you. " 
"When will you come again ?" " When my business 
brings me." "If you were over here and I over there, 
what would you do to follow me ?" "I would stop 
myself up, and I would drink until I dried the river." 
The giant stopped himself up, and drunk until ho 
burst. Maol a chliobaiu married the young son of 
the farmer. 

referring to the famous Tom na h-iubhraich, in 
the neighbourhood of Inverness. It was taken 
down by the writer from the recital of an 
Ardnamurchan man in Edinburgh, and has 
never been printed before. The resemblance of 
a portion of it to what is told of Thomas the 
Ehymer and the Eildon Hills, is too close to 
escape observation. These tales are valuable 
as preserving admirable specimens of the 
idioms of the Gaelic language. 

English Translation. 


There was a man once on a journey in the north, 
according to all appearance in the sheriffdom of Inver 
ness. lie was travelling one day, and he saw a man 
casting divots with the flaughter-spade. He carne to 
where the man was. He said to him, " Oh, you are 
very old to be employed in such work." The man 
said to him, " Oh, if you saw my father, he is much 
older than I am." "Your father, " said the man, 
"is your father alive in the world still?" "Oh, 
yes," said he. "Where is your father?" said he ; 
"could I see him?" "Oh, yes," said he, "he is 
leading home the divots." He told him what way 
he should take in order to see his father. He came 
where he was. He said to him You are old to be 
engaged in such work. " Oh, " said he, if you saw 
my father, he is older than I." " Oh, is your father 
still in the world ?" "Oh, yes," said he. "Where 
is your father ? " said he ; " can I see him ! " " Oh, 
yes, " said he, he is reaching the divots at the house." 
He came to the man who was reaching the divots. 
" Oh, you are old," said he, " to be employed in such 
work." " Oh, if you saw my father," said he, " he is 
much older than I." "Is your father to be seen?" 
said he. " Oh, yes, go round the house and you will 
see him laying the divots on the roof." He came and 
he saw the man who was laying the divots on the 
roof. "Oh, man," said he, "you must be a great 
age." " Oh, if you saw my father." " Oh, can I see 
your father ; where is he ?" " Well," said the man, 
" you look like a clever fellow ; I daresay I may show 
you my father." " He is," said he, " inside in a tuft 
of wool in the further end of the house." He went 
in with him to show him to him. Every one of these 
men was very big, so much so that their like is not to 
be found now. " There is a little man here," said he 
,to his father, "who looks like a clever fellow, a 
Scotchman, and he is wishful to see you." He spoke 
to him, and said, " Where did you come from ? Give 
me your hand, Scotchman." His son laid hold of the 
old coulter of a plough that lay there. He knotted a 
cloth around it. "Give him that," said he to the 
Scotchman, "and don t give him your hand." The 
old man laid hold of the coulter, while the man held 



au seann duiiie air a clioltair, us a cheann eile yig 
an duine eile na laimli. An aite an coltair a bhi 
leathaun, rinn e cruinn e, us dh fhag e larach nan 
cuig meur ann, mar gu m bitheadh uibe taois ann. 
" Nach cruadalach an lamh a th agad, Albannaich," 
ars esau, "Nam bitlieadh do chridhe clio cruadalach, 
tapaidh, (Ih iarrainnse rud ort nach d iarr mi air fear 
roimhe." " Ciod e sin, a dhuine?" ars esan, "ma 
tha ni ann a s urraiim mise dheanamh, ni mi e." 
" Bheirinnse dhuit " ars esan, "f ideag a tha an so, 
agus fiosraichidh tu far am bheil Tom na h-iubhraieh, 
laiinh ri Inbhirnis, agus an uair a theid thu ann, chl 
thu creag bbeag, ghlas, air an dara taobh dheth. An 
uair a theid thu a dh ionnsuidh na creige, chi thu mu 
mlieudachd dovuis, us air cumadh doruis bhige air a 
chreig. Buail sron do choise air tri uairean, us air 
an uair mu dheireadh fosgailidh e. Dh fhalbh e, us 
rainig e us fhuair e an dorus. Thubhairt an seann 
duine ris, "An uair a dh fhosgaileas tu an dorus, 
seirmidh tu an fhideag, bheir thu tri seirmean oirre 
us air an t-seirm mu dheireadh," ars esan. "eiridh 
leat na bhitheas stigh, us ma bhitheas tu clio tapaidh 
us gun dean thu sin, is fheairrd thu f hem e us do 
mhac, us d oglia, us d iar-ogha. Thug e a cheud 
sheirm air an fhideag. Sheall e us stad e. Shin na 
coin a bha n an luidhe lathair f is na daoinibh an 
cosan, us charaich na daoine uile. Thug e an ath 
sheirm oirre. Dh eirich na daoine air an uilnibh us 
dh eirich na coin n an suidhe. Thionndaidh am fear 
ris an dorus, us ghabh e eagal. Tharruing e an dorus 
n a dheigh. Ghlaodh iadsan uile gu le ir, " Is miosa 
dh fhag na fhuair, is miosa dh fhag na fhuair." 
Dh fhalbh e n a ruith. Thainig e gu lochan uisge, a 
bha an sin, us thilg e an fhideag aims an lochan. 
Dhealaich mise riu. 

These specimens give a good idea of the popu 
lar prose literature of the Highlands. Whence 
it was derived it is difficult to say. It may 
have originated with the people themselves, 
but many portions of it bear the marks of 
having been derived even, as has been said, 
from an Eastern source, while the last tale 
which has been transcribed above gives the 
Highland version of an eld Scottish tradi 


Gaelic poetry is voluminous. Exclusive of 
the Ossianic poetry which has been referred 
to already, there is a long catalogue of modern 
poetical works of various merit. Fragments 
exist of poems written early in the 17th cen 
tury, such as those prefixed to the edition of 
Calvin s Catechism, printed in 1G31. One of 
these, Faosid Eoin Steuart Tiyhcarn na Hap- 
ven, "The Confession of John Stewart, laird of 
Appin," savours more of the Church of Rome 
than of the Protestant faith. To this century 
belongs also the poetry of John Macdonell, usu 
ally called Eoin Lorn, and said to have been 
poet-laureate to Charles II. for Scotland. Other 
pieces exist of the same period, but little would 

the other end in his hand. Instead of the coulter 
being broad, he made it round, and left the mark of 
his five fingers in it as if it were a lump of leaven. 
" You have a brave hand, Scotchman, " said he. "If 
your heart were as brave and clever, I would ask some 
thing of you that I never asked of another." " What 
is that, man ? " said he ; " if there is anything that I 
can do, I shall do it." " I would give yon," said he, 
" a whistle that I have here, and you will find out 
where Tomnahurich is near Inverness, and when you 
find it you will see a little grey rock on one side of it. 
When you go to the rock you will see about the size 
of a door, and the shape of a little door in the rock. 
Strike the point of your foot three times, and at the 
third time it will open." He went away, and he 
reached and found the door. " When you open the 
door," the old man said, " you will sound the whistle ; 
you will sound it thrice. At the third sounding all 
that are within will rise along with you ; and if you 
be clever enough to do that, you, and your son, and 
your grandson, and your great-grandson, will be the 
better of it." He gave the first sound on the whistle. 
He looked, and he stopped. The dogs that lay near 
the men stretched their legs, and all the men moved. 
He gave the second sound. The men rose on their 
elbows, and the dogs sat up. The man turned to 
the door and became frightened. He drew the door 
after him. They all cried out, " Left us worse than 
he found us ; left us worse than he found us. He 
went away running. He came to a little fresh water 
loch that was there, and he threw the whistle into 
the loch. I left them. 

seem to have been handed down to us of the 
poetry of this century. 

We have fragments belonging to the early 
part of the 18th century in the introduction to 
" Lhuyd s Archseologia," These are of much 
interest to the Gaelic student. In 1751 ap 
peared the first edition of Songs by Alexander 
Macdonald, usually called Mac Mhaighistir 
Alasdair. These songs are admirable speci 
mens of Gaelic versification, giving the highest 
idea of the author s poetical powers. Many 
editions of them have appeared, and they are 
very popular in the Highlands. Macintyre s 
poems appeared in 17G8. Macdonald and he 
stand at the very top of the list of Gaelic 
poets. They are both distinguished by the 
power and the smoothness of their composi 
tion. Macdonald s highest gifts are repre 
sented in his Biorluinn Cliloinn Haonuill, 
" Clan Eanald s Galley," and Macintyre s in 
his Beinn Doblirain, " Ben Douran." 

Later than Macintyre, Eonald M Donald, 
commonly called Eaonull Dubh, or Black 
Eanald, published an excellent collection of 
Gaelic songs. This Eanald was son to Alex 
ander already referred to, and was a school 
master in the island of Eigg. His collection 



is largely made up of his father s compositions, 
but there are songs of his own and of several 
other composers included. Many of the songs 
of this period are Jacobite, and indicate in 
tense disloyalty to the Hanoverian royal family. 

Gillies s Collection in 1786 is an admirable 
one, containing many of the genuine Ossianic 
fragments. This collection is of real value to 
the Gaelic scholar, although it is now difficult 
to be had. 

In addition to these, and at a later period, 
we have Turner s Collection and Stewart s 
Collection, both of them containing many ex 
cellent compositions. We have, later still, 
M Kenzie s Beauties of Gaelic Poetry, and we 
have, besides these, separate volumes of vari 
ous sizes ; by the admirable religious bard, 
Dugald Buchanan ; by Rob donn, the Reay 
bard; William Ross, the Gaiiioch bard; and 
many others, who would form a long cata 
logue. As might be supposed, the pieces in 
cluded in these collections are of various merit, 
but there is much really good poetry worthy 
of the country which has cultivated the poetic 
art from the earliest period of its history, and 
a country which, while it gave to Gaelic poetry 
such a name as Ossian, gave to the poetry of 
England the names of Thomas Campbell and 
Lord Macaulay. 


There are no early treatises on the structure 
and composition of the Gaelic language, such 
as the ancient MS. writings which still exist 
on Irish Grammar. Still, so early as the 
middle of last century, the subject had ex 
cited notice, and demands began to exist for a 
grammatical treatise on the Gaelic language. 
The first attempt to meet this demand was 
made by the Rev. William Shaw, at one time 
minister of Ardclach, in Nairnshire, and after 
wards a resident in England ; the author of a 
Gaelic dictionary, and an associate of John 
son s in opposing M Pherson and his Ossian, 
as it was called by adversaries. Shaw s Gram 
mar is made of no account by Dr Stewart, in 
the reference which he makes to it in his ex 
cellent grammar ; but the work is interesting 
as the first attempt made to reduce Gaelic 
grammar to shape at all, and as showing seve 
ral indications of a fair, if not a profound 

scholarship. That the volume, however, is to 
be held in any way as a correct analysis of the 
Gaelic language, is out of the question. Mr 
Shaw presents his readers, at the end of his 
volume, with specimens of Gaelic writing, 
which he intends to settle the orthography of 
the language. Anything more imperfect than 
the orthography of these specimens can hardly 
be conceived at least it is of a kind that 
makes the language in many of the words un 
intelligible to any ordinary reader. Mr Shaw s 
Grammar reached a second edition, showing 
the interest that was taken in the subject at 
the time. 

An abler scholar, in the person of the Rev. 
Dr Stewart, of Moulin, Dingwall, and the 
Canongate, Edinburgh, successively, took up 
the subject of Gaelic grammar after Mr Shaw. 
Mr Stewart was an eminent minister of the 
Scottish Church. Eew ministers stood higher 
than he did as a preacher, and few laboured 
more assiduously in their pastoral work ; still 
he found time for literary studies, and to none 
did he direct more of his care than to that of 
his native Gaelic. A native of Perthshire him 
self, he made himself acquainted with all the 
dialects of the tongue, and gives an admirable 
analysis of the language as it appears in the 
Gaelic Bible. Few works of the kind are 
more truly philosophical. The modesty which 
is ever characteristic of genius distinguishes 
every portion of it, while the work is of 
a kind that does not admit of much emenda 
tion. If it be defective in any part, it is 
in the part that treats of syntax. There the 
rules laid down comprehend but few of those 
principles which govern the structure of the 
language, and it is necessary to have recourse 
to other sources for information regarding 
many of the most important of these. 

A third grammar was published about thirty 
years ago by Mr James Munro, at the time 
parish schoolmaster of Kilmonivaig. This 
volume is highly creditable to Mr Munro s 
scholarship, and in many respects supplied a 
want that was felt by learners of the language. 
The numerous exercises with which the work 
abounds are of very great value, and must aid 
the student much in its acquisition. 

A double grammar, in both Gaelic and 
English, by the Rev. Mr Forbes, latterly 



minister of Sleat, presents a very fair view of 
the structure of the Gaelic language, while 
grammars appear attached to several of the 
existing dictionaries. There is a grammar pre 
fixed to the dictionary of the Highland Society, 
another to that of Mr Armstrong, and a third 
to that of Mr M Alpine. All these are credit 
able performances, and worthy of perusal. In 
fact, if the grammar of the Gaelic language be 
not understood, it is not for want of gramma 
tical treatises. There are seven or eight of 
them in existence. 

Mr Shaw, in the introduction to his grammar, 
says : It was not the mercenary considera 
tion of interest, nor, perhaps, the expectation 
of fame among my countrymen, in whose 
esteem its beauties are too much faded, but a 
taste for the beauties of the original speech of 
a now learned nation, that induced me either 
to begin, or encouraged me to persevere in 
reducing to grammatical principles a language 
spoken only by imitation; while, perhaps, I 
might be more profitably employed in tasting 
the various productions of men, ornaments of 
human nature, afforded in a language now 
teeming with books. I beheld with astonish 
ment the learned in Scotland, since the revival 
of letters, neglect the Gaelic as if it was not 
worthy of any pen to give a rational account 
of a speech used upwards of 2000 years by the 
inhabitants of more than one kingdom. I saw 
with regret, a language once famous in the 
western world, ready to perish, without any 
memorial ; a language by the use of which 
Galgacus having assembled his chiefs, rendered 
the Grampian hills impassable to legions that 
had conquered the world, and by means 
which Fingal inspired his warriors with the 
desire of immortal fame." 

That the Gaelic language is worthy of being 
studied, the researches of modern philologers 
have amply proved. For comparative philology 
it is of the highest value, being manifestly one 
of the great links in the chain of Aryan lan 
guages. Its close relation to the classica" 
languages gives it a place almost peculiar to 
itself. In like manner its study throws light 
on national history. Old words appear in 
charters and similar documents which 
knowledge of Gaelic can alone interpret, whil 
for the study of Scottish topography the 

knowledge of it is essential. From the Tweed 
to the Pentland Frith words appear in every 
part of the country which can only be analysed 
by the Gaelic scholar. In this view the study 
of the language is important, and good grammars 
are of essential value for its prosecution. 


At an early period vocabularies of Gaelic 
words began to be compiled for the benefit of 
readers of the language. The first of these 
appears attached to Mr Kirk s edition of 
Bedell s Irish Bible, to which reference has 
been made already. The list of words is not 
very extensive, and, as has been said, the 
equivalents of the words given are in many 
cases as difficult to understand as the words 
themselves. Mr Kirk s object in his vocabu 
lary is to explain Irish words in Bedell s Bible 
to Scottish leaders. 

In 1707 Lhuyd s Archaeologia Britannica 
appeared. It contains a grammar of the 
Iberno-Scottish Gaelic, and a vocabulary which 
is in a large measure a vocabulary of the Gaelic 
of Scotland. All that this learned writer did 
was done in a manner worthy of a scholar. 
His vocabulary, although defective, is accurate 
so far as it goes, and presents us with a very 
interesting and instructive view of the state of 
the language in his day. Lhuyd s volume is 
one which should be carefully studied by every 
Celtic scholar. 

In 1738 the Eev. David Malcolm, minister 
at Duddingstone, published an essay on the 
antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland, with 
the view of showing the affinity betwixt " the 
languages of the ancient Britons and the 
Americans of the Isthmus of Darien." In 
this essay there is a list of Gaelic words 
beginning with the letter A, extending to six 
teen pages, and a list of English words with 
their Gaelic equivalents, extending to eight 
pages. Mr Malcolm brought the project of 
compiling a Gaelic dictionary before the Gene 
ral Assembly of the Scottish Church, and he 
seems to have had many conferences with 
Highland ministers friendly to his object. 
The Assembly appointed a committee on the 
subject, and they reported most favourably of 
Mr Malcolm s design. Still the work never 
seems to have gone farther ; and beyond tho 



lists referred to, we have no fruits of Mr Mal 
colm s labours. Mr Malcolm calls the lan 
guage Irish, as was uniformly done by English 
writers at the time, and spells the words after 
the Irish manner. 

Three years after the publication of Mr 
Malcolm s essay in the year 1741, the first 
attempt at a complete vocabulary of the Gaelic 
language appeared. The compiler was Alex 
ander M Donald, at the time schoolmaster of 
Ardnamurchan, known throughout the High 
lands as Mac Mhaighistir Alasdair, and a bard 
of high reputation. The compilation was 
made at the suggestion of the Society for Pro 
pagating Christian Knowledge, in whose service 
M Donald was at the time. The Society sub 
mitted the matter to the Presbytery of Mull, 
and the Presbytery committed the matter to 
M Donald as the most likely man within their 
bounds to execute the work in a satisfactory 
manner. M Donald s book is dedicated to the 
Society, and he professes a zeal for Protest 
antism, although he turned over to the Church 
of Rome himself on the landing of Charles 
Edward in the Highlands in 1745. The 
vocabulary is arranged under the heads of 
subjects, and not according to the letters of the 
alphabet. It begins with words referring to 
God, and so on through every subject that 
might suggest itself. It is upon the whole 
well executed, seeing that the author was the 
pioneer of Gaelic lexicographers ; but the 
publishers found themselves obliged to insert 
a caveat in an advertisement at the close of 
the volume, in which they say that " all or 
most of the verbs in this vocabulary from page 
143 to page 162 are expressed in the Gaelic 
by single words, though our author generally 
expresses them by a needless circumlocution." 
M Donald s orthography is a near approach to 
that of modem Gaelic writing. 

In 1780 the Rev. Mr Shaw, the author of 
the Gaelic grammar already referred to, pub 
lished a dictionary of the Gaelic language in 
two volumes, the one volume being Gaelic- 
English, and the other English-Gaelic. This 
work did not assume a high place among 

Following upon Shaw s work was that of 
Robert M Farlane in 1795. This vocabulary 
is of little value to the student. 

Robert M Farlane s volume was followed in 
1815 by that of Peter M Farlane, a well known 
translator of religious works. The collection 
of words is pretty full, and the work upon the 
whole is a creditable one. 

Notwithstanding all these efforts at provid 
ing a dictionary of the Gaelic language, it was 
felt by scholars that the want had not been 
really supplied. In those circumstances Mr 
R. A. Armstrong, parish schoolmaster of Ken- 
more, devoted his time and talents to the pro 
duction of a work that might be satisfactory. 
The Gaelic language was not Mr Armstrong s 
mother tongue, and he had the great labour to 
undergo of acquiring it. Indefatigable energy, 
with the genius of a true scholar, helped him 
over all his difficulties, and, after years of toil, 
he produced a work of the highest merit, and 
one whose authority is second to none as an 
exposition of the Scoto-Celtic tongue. 

Mr Armstrong s dictionary was succeeded 
by that of the Higldand Society of Scotland, 
which was published in two quarto volumes 
in 1828. A portion of the labour of this great 
work was borne by Mr Ewen Maclachlan of Aber 
deen, the most eminent Celtic scholar of his 
day. Mr Maclachlan brought the most ample 
accomplishments to the carrying out of the 
undertaking ; a remarkable acquaintance with 
the classical languages, which he could write 
with facility, a very extensive knowledge of 
the Celtic tongues, and a mind of remarkable 
acuteness to discern distinctions and analogies 
in comparative philology. But he died ere 
the work was far advanced, and other scholars 
had to carry it through. The chief of these 
was the Rev. Dr M Leod of Dundonald, aided 
by the Rev. Dr Irvine of Little Dunkeld, and 
the Rev. Alexander M Donald of Crieff ; and 
the whole was completed and edited under the 
superintendence of the Rev. Dr Mackay, after 
wards of Dunoon, to whose skill and care 
much of the value, of the work is due. 

In 1831 an octavo dictionary by the Rev. 
Dr Macleod of Glasgow, and the Rev. D. 
Dewar, afterwards Principal Dewar of Aber 
deen, appeared. It is drawn largely from the 
dictionary of the Highland Society, and is an 
exceedingly good and useful book. 

There is a still later dictionary by Mr Neil 
M Alpino, schoolmaster in Islay. It is an 



excellent vocabulary of the Islay dialect, with 
some features peculiar to itself, especially 
directions as to the pronouncing of the words, 
which, from the peculiar orthography of the 
Gaelic, the learner requires. 

It will be seen from the above list that there 
is no lack of Gaelic dictionaries any more than 
of Gaelic grammars, and that some of the 
dictionaries are highly meritorious. And yet 
there is room for improvement still if com 
petent hands could be found. The student of 
Scottish topography meets with innumerable 
words which he feels assured are of the Scoto- 
Celtic stock. He applies to his dictionaries, 
and he almost uniformly finds that the words 
which puzzle him are absent. There seems to 
have been an entire ignoring of this source for 
words on the part of all the Gaelic lexico 
graphers, and from the number of obsolete 
words found in it, but which an acquaintance 
with ancient MS. literature helps to explain, 
a large supply, and a supply of the deepest 
interest, might be found. Irish dictionaries 
afford considerable aid in searching this field, 
but Gaelic dictionaries furnish very little. At 
the same time it must be remembered that 
topography is itself a recent study, and that 
men s minds have only latterly been more 
closely directed to these words. 

We have thus given a general view of the 
literature of the Scottish Gael. It is not ex 
tensive, but it is full of interest. That the 
language was at one time subjected to cultiva 
tion cannot be doubted by any man acquainted 
with the literary history of the Celtic race. 
The MSS. which exist are enough to demon 
strate the fact, of which no rational doubt can 
exist, that an immense number of such MSS. 
have perished. An old Gaelic MS. was once 
seen in the Hebrides cut down by a tailor to 
form measuring tapes for the persons of his cus 
tomers. These MSS. treated of various subjects. 
Philology, theology, and science found a place 
among Celtic scholars, while poetry was largely 
cultivated. The order of bards ensured this, an 
order peculiar to the Celts. Johnson s estimate 
of the extent of ancient Celtic culture was an 
entirely mistaken one, and shows how far pre 
judice may operate toAvards the perversion of 
truth, even in the case of great and good 


Of the Gaelic language in which this litera 
ture exists, this is not the place to say much. 
To know it, it is necessary to study its gram 
mars and dictionaries, and written works. 
With regard to the class of languages to which 
it belongs, many and various opinions were 
long held ; but it has been settled latterly 
without room for dispute that it belongs to the 
Indo-European, or, as it is now called, the 
Aryan class. That it has relations to the 
Semitic languages cannot be denied, but 
these are no closer than those of many 
others of the same class. Its relation to 
both the Greek and the Latin, especially to 
the latter, is very close, many of the radical 
words in both languages being almost identical. 
Natural objects, for instance, and objects 
immediately under observation, have terms 
wonderfully similar to represent them. Mons, 
a mountain, appears in the Gaelic Monadh; 
Amnis, a river, appears in Amhainn; Oceanus, 
the ocean, in Cuan; Muir, the sea, in Mare; 
Caballus, a horse, in Capull; Equus, a horse, 
.in Each; Canis, a dog, in Cu; Sol, the sun, 
in Solus, light; Salus, safety, in Slainte ; 
Rex, a king, in High ; Vir, a man, in Fear; 
Tectum, a roof, in Tigh; Monile, a necklace, 
in Muineal. This list might be largely ex 
tended, and serves to bring out to what an 
extent original terms in Gaelic and Latin 
correspond. The same is true of the Greek, 
but not to the same extent. 

At the same time there is a class of words 
in Gaelic which are derived directly from the 
Latin. These are such words as have been 
introduced into the service of the church. 
Christianity having come into Scotland from 
the European Continent, it was natural to 
suppose that with it terms familiar to ecclesi 
astics should find their way along with the 
religion. This would have occurred to a 
larger extent after the Roman hierarchy and 
worship had been received among the Scots. 
Such words as Peacadh, sin ; Sgriobtuir, the 
scriptures; Faosaid, confession; aoiblirinn, 
mass or offering ; Caisg, Easter ; Inid, initium 
or shrove-tide; Calainn, new year s day; 
Nolluirj, Christmas ; Domhnach, God or Domi- 
nus ; Diseart, a hermitage ; Eaglais, a church ; 
Sagart, a priest ; Pearsa or Pearsoin, a parson; 



Reilig, a burying place, from reliquiae; Ifrionn, 
hell ; are all manifestly from the Latin, and a 
little care might add to this list. It is mani 
fest that words which did not exist in the 
language must be borrowed from some source, 
and whence so naturally as from the language 
which was, in fact, the sacred tongue in the 
early church. 

But besides being a borrower, the Gaelic 
has been largely a contributor to other lan 
guages. What is usually called Scotch is per 
haps the greatest debtor to the Gaelic tongue, 
retaining, as it does, numerous Gaelic words 
usually thought to be distinctive of itself. A 
list of these is not uninteresting, and the fol 
lowing is given as a contribution to the object: 
Braw, from the Gaelic Breagh, pretty; Burn, 
from Burn, water; Airt, from Airde, a point 
of the compass; Baugh, from Baoth, empty; 
Kebbuck, from Cabaig, a cheese ; Dour, from 
Dur, hard ; Fey, from Fe, a rod for measuring 
the dead ; Teem, from Taom, to empty ; 
Sicker, from Shiclcer, sure, retained in Manx ; 
Leister, from Lister, a fishing spear, Manx ; 
Chiel, from Gille, a lad ; Skail, from Sgaoil, 
to disperse ; Ingle, from Aingeal, fire ; Aries, 
from Earlas, earnest ; Sain, from Sean, to 
consecrate. This list, like the former, might be 
much increased, and shows how relics of the 
Gaelic language may be traced in the spoken 
tongue of the Scottish Lowlands after the lan 
guage itself has retired. Just in like manner, 
but arising from a much closer relation, do 
relics of the Celtic languages appear in the 
Greek and Latin. The fact seems to be that 
a Celtic race and tongue did at one time occupy 
the whole of Southern Europe, spreading them 
selves from the Hellespont along the shores of 
the Adriatic, and the western curves of the 
Mediterranean, bounded on the north by the 
Danube and the Rhine, and extending to the 
western shores of Ireland. Of this ample 
evidence is to be found in the topography of 
the whole region ; and the testimony of that 
topography is fully borne out by that of the 
whole class of languages still occupying the 
region, with the exception of the anomalous 
language of Biscay, and the Teutonic speech 
carried by the sword into Britain and other 
northern sections of it. 

Mere resemblance of words does not establish 

identity of class among languages, such a 
similarity being often found to exist, when in 
other respects the difference is radical. It 
requires similarity of idiom and grammatical 
structure to establish the existence of such an 
identity. This similarity exists to a remark 
able extent between the Gaelic and the Latin. 
There is not space here for entering into 
details, but a few examples may be given. 
There is no indefinite article in either language, 
the simple form of the noun including in it 
the article, thus, a man is fear, Latin vir, the 
former having in the genitive fir, the latter 
viri. The definite article am, an, a\ in Gaelic 
has no representative in Latin ; thus an duine 
represents homo. The inflection in a large 
class of Gaelic nouns is by attenuation, while 
the nominative plural and genitive singular of 
such nouns are alike. So with the Latin, 
monachus, gen. monachi, nom. plur. monachi; 
Gaelic, manach, gen. manaich, nom. plur. 
manaich. The structure of the verb is remark 
ably similar in both languages. This appears 
specially in the gerund, which in Gaelic is the 
only form used to represent the infinitive and 
the present participle. The use of the sub 
junctive mood largely is characteristic of the 
Gaelic as of the Latin. The prepositions which 
are so variously and extensively used in Gaelic, 
present another analogy to the Latin. But 
the analogies in grammatical structure are so 
numerous that they can only be accounted for 
by tracing the languages to the same source. 
Another series of resemblances is to be found 
in the peculiar idioms which characterise both 
tongues. Thus, possession is in both repre 
sented by the peculiar use of the verb to 
be. Est mihi liber, there is to me a book, is 
represented in Gaelic by ilia leubhar agam, 
which means, like the Latin, a book is to 

But there is one peculiarity which distin 
guishes the Gaelic and the whole class of Celtic 
tongues from all others. Many of the changes 
included in inflection and regimen occur in the 
initial consonant of the word. This change 
is usually held to be distinctive of gender, but 
its effect is wider than that, as it occurs in 
cases where no distinction of gender is ex 
pressed. This change, usually called aspira 
tion, implies a softening of the initial conso- 



nants of words. Thus b becomes v, m be 
comes v, p becomes f, g becomes y, d be 
comes y, c becomes ch, more or less guttural, 
s and t become h, and so on. These changes 
are marked in orthography by the insertion of 
the letter h. This is a remarkable peculiarity 
converting such a word as mar into vbr, spelled 
mhdr; Ids into vds, spelled Mas; duine into 
yuine, spelled dhuine. This peculiarity partly 
accounts for the number of letters h introduced 
into Gaelic spelling, loading the words appa 
rently unnecessarily with consonants, but really 
serving a very important purpose. 

It is not desirable, however, in a work like 
this to prosecute this dissertation farther. 
Suffice it to say, that philologists have come to 
class the Gaelic with the other Celtic tongues 
among the great family of Aryan languages, 
having affinities, some closer, some more dis 
tant, with almost all the languages of Europe. 
It is of much interest to scholars in respect 
both of the time and the place which it has 
filled, and fills still, and it is gratifying to all 
Scottish Celts to know that it has become 
more than ever a subject of study among 
literary men. 


Among the Celts, poetry and music walked 
hand in hand. There need be no controversy 
in this case as to which is the more ancient 
art, they seem to have been coeval. Hence 
the bards were musicians. Their compositions 
were all set to music, and many of them com 
posed the airs to which their verses were 
adapted. The airs to which the ancient 
Ossianic lays were sung still exist, and several 
of them may be found noted in Captain Eraser s 
excellent collection of Highland music. They 
are well known in some parts of the Highlands, 
and those who are prepared to deny with 
Johnson the existence of any remains of the 
ancient Celtic bard, must be prepared to 
maintain at the same time that these ancient 
airs to which the verses were sung were, like 
themselves, the offspring of modern imposition. 
But this is too absurd to obtain credence. In 
fact these airs were essential to the recitation 
of the bards. Deprive them of the music with 
which their lines were associated, and you de 
prived them of the chief aid to their memory ; 

but give them their music, and they could 
recite almost without end. 

The same is true of the poetry of the modern 
bards. Song-singing in the Highlands was 
usually social. Few songs on any subject were 
composed without a chorus, and the intention 
was that the chorus should be taken up by all 
the company present. A verse was sung in the 
interval by the individual singer, but the object 
of the chorus was to be sung by all. It is 
necessary to keep this in view in judging of 
the spirit and effect of Gaelic song. Sung as 
songs usually are, the object of the bard is 
lost sight of, and much of the action of the 
music is entirely overlooked. But what was 
intended chiefly to be said was, that the com 
positions of the modern bards were all intended 
to be linked with music, sung for the most 
part socially. We do not at this moment 
know one single piece of Gaelic poetry which 
was intended merely for recitation, unless it 
be found among a certain class of modern 
compositions which are becoming numerous, 
and which are English in everything but the 

The music to which these compositions were 
sung was peculiar ; one can recognise a Gaelic 
air at once, among a thousand. Quaint and 
pathetic, irregular and moving on with the 
most singular intervals, the movement is still 
self-contained and impressive, to the Celt 
eminently so. It is beyond a question that 
what is called Scottish music has been derived 
from the Gaelic race. Its characteristics are 
purely Celtic. So far as the poetry of Burns 
is concerned, his songs were composed in 
many cases to airs borrowed from the High 
lands, and nothing could fit in better than the 
poetry and the music. But Scottish Lowland 
music, so much and so deservedly admired, is 
a legacy from the Celtic muse throughout. 
There is nothing in it which it holds in 
common with any Saxon race in existence. 
Compare it with the common melodies in use 
among the English, and the two are proved 
totally distinct. The airs to which " Scots wha 
hue," " AuldLangsyne," "Koy a Wife," "O a tlie 
airts," and "Ye Banks and Braes," are sung, are 
airs to which nothing similar can be found in 
England. They are Scottish, and only Scot 
tish, and can be recognised as such at once. 




But airs of a precisely similar character can be 
found among all the Celtic races. In Ireland, 
melodies almost identical with those of Scot 
land are found. In fact, the Irish claim such 
tunes as " The Legacy," " The Highland 
Laddie," and others. So with the Isle of Man. 
The national air of the Island, "Mollacharane," 
has all the distinctive characteristics of a 
Scottish tune. The melodies of Wales have a 
similar type. Such a tune as " The Men of 
Harlech" might at any time be mistaken for a 
Scottish melody. And if we cross to Brittany 
and hear a party of Bretons of a night singing 
a national air along the street, as they often 
do, the type of the air will be found to be 
largely Scottish. These facts go far to prove 
the paternity of Avhat is called Scottish music, 
and show to conviction that this music, so 
sweet, so touching, is the ancient inheritance 
of the Celt. 

The ancient Scottish scale consists of six notes, 
as shown in the annexed exemplification, No. 1. 
The lowest note A, was afterwards added, to 
admit of the minor key in wind instruments. 
The notes in the diatonic scale, No. 2, were 
added about the beginning of the fifteenth 
century, and when music arrived at its present 
state of perfection, the notes in the chromatic 
scale, No. 3, were farther added. 


No. 1. 


Bb cb B$ Db 

Eb Fb 

many of the Scottish airs have had the notes 
last mentioned introduced into them, to please 
modern taste they can be played without them, 

and without altering the character of the 
melody. Any person who understands the 
ancient scale can at once detect the later addi 

" The Gaelic music consists of different 
kinds or species. 1. Martial music, the Goll- 
traidheacht of the Irish, and the Brosnachadh 
Catha of the Gael, consisting of a spirit-stirring 
measure short and rapid. 2. The Geantraid- 
heacht, or plaintive or sorrowful, a kind of 
music to which the Highlanders are very partial. 
The Coronach, or Lament, sung at funerals, is 
the most noted of this sort. 3. The Suan- 
traidheacht, or composing, calculated to calm 
the mind, and to lull the person to sleep. 4. 
Songs of peace, sung at the conclusion of a war. 
5. Songs of victory sung by the bards before 
the king on gaining a victory. 6. Love songs. 
These last form a considerable part of the 
national music, the sensibility and tenderness 
of which excite the passion of love, and 
stimulated by its influence, the Gael indulge 
a spirit of the most romantic attachment and 
adventure, which the peasantry of perhaps no 
other country exhibit." 

The last paragraph is quoted from Mr 
Logan s eloquent and patriotic work on the 
Scottish Gael, 1 and represents the state of 
Gaelic music when more flourishing and more 
cultivated than it is to-day. 

The following quotation is from the same 
source, and is also distinguished by the accu 
racy of its description. 

" The ancient Gael were fond of singing 
whether in a sad or cheerful frame of mind. 
Bacon justly remarks, that music feedeth 
that disposition which it findeth : it was a sure 
sign of brewing mischief, when a Caledonian 
warrior was heard to hum his surly hymn. 
This race, in all their labours, used appropriate 
songs, and accompanied their harps with their 
voices. At harvest the reapers kept time by 
singing ; at sea the boatmen did the same; and 
while the women were graddaning, performing 
the luadhadh, or waulking of cloth, or at any 
rural labour, they enlivened their Avork by 
certain airs called luinneags. When milking, 
they sung a certain plaintive melody, to which, 
the animals listened with calm attention. The 

1 Logan on the Scottish Gad, vol. ii. 252-3. 



attachment which the natives of Celtic origin 
;have to their music, is strengthened by its 
intimate connection with the national songs. 
The influence of both on the Scots character 
is confessedly great the pictures of heroism, 
love, and happiness, exhibited in their songs. 
are indelibly impressed on the memory, and 
elevate the mind of the humblest peasant. 
The songs, united with their appropriate music, 
affect the sons of Scotia, particularly when far 
distant from their -native glens and majestic 
mountains, with indescribable feelings, and 
excite a spirit of the most romantic adventure. 
In this respect, the Swiss, who inhabit a 
country of like character, and who resemble 
the Highlanders in many particulars, experience 
similar emotions. On hearing the national 
Ranz de vaches, their bowels yearn to revisit 
the ever dear scenes of their youth. So power 
fully is the amor patrice awakened by this 
celebrated air, that it was found necessary to 
prohibit its being played, under pain of death, 
among the troops, who would burst into tears 
on hearing it, desert their colours, and even 

" No songs could be more happily con 
structed for singing during labour than those 
of the Highlanders, every person being able to 
join in them, sufficient intervals being allowed 
for breathing time. In a certain part of the 
song, the leader stops to take breath, when all 
the others strike in and complete the air with 
a chorus of words and syllables, generally with 
out signification, but admirably adapted to 
give effect to the time." The description pro 
ceeds to give a picture of a social meeting in 
the Highlands where this style of singing is 
practised, and refers to the effect with which 
such a composition as " Fhir a bhata," or the 
Boatman, may be thus sung. 

Poetical compositions associated with music 
are of various kinds. First of all is the Laoidh, 
or lay, originally signifying a stately solemn 
composition, by one of the great bards of anti 
quity. Thus we have "Laoidh Dhiarmaid," 
The lay of Diarmad ; "Laoidh Oscair," The 
lay of Oscar ; " Laoidh nan Ceann," The lay 
of the heads ; and many others. The word is 
now made use of to describe a religious hymn; 
a fact which proves the dignity with which 
this composition was invested in the popular 

sentiment. Then there was the " Marbhrann," 
or elegy. Few men of any mark but had their 
elegy composed by some bard of note. Chiefs 
and chieftains were sung of after their deaths 
in \rords and music the most mournful which 
the Celt, with so deep a vein of pathos in his 
soul, could devise. There is an elegy on one 
of the lairds of Macleod by a famous poetess 
" Mairi nighean Alasdair Euaidh," or Mary 
M Leod, which is exquisitely touching. Many 
similar compositions exist. In modern times 
these elegies are mainly confined to the religioua 
field, and ministers and other men of mark in 
that field are often sung of and sung sweetly 
by such bards as still remain. Then there are 
compositions called "lorrams" usually con 
fined to sea songs ; " Luinneags," or ordinary 
lyrics, and such like. These are all "wedded" 
to music, which is the reason for noticing 
them here, and the music must be known in 
order to have the full relish of the poetry. 

There are several collections of Highland 
music which are well worthy of being better 
known to the musical world than they are. 
The oldest is that by the Eev. Peter Mac- 
donald of Kilmore, who was a famous musician 
in his day. More recently Captain Simon 
Eraser, of Inverness, published an admirable 
collection ; and collections of pipe music have 
been made by Maodonald, Mackay, and, more 
recently, Eoss, the two latter pipers to her 
Majesty, all of which are reported of as good. 

The secular music of the Highlands, as 
existing now, may be divided into that usually 
called by the Highlanders " An Ceol m6r," 
the great music, and in English pibrochs. 
This music is entirely composed for the High 
land bagpipe, and does not suit any other 
instrument well. It is composed of a slow 
movement, with which it begins, the move 
ment proceeding more rapidly through several 
variations, until it attains a speed and an 
energy which gives room for the exercise of 
the most delicate and accurate fingering. 
Some of these pieces are of great antiquity, 
such as " Mackintosh s Lament" and "Cogadh 
na Sith," Peace or War, and are altogether 
remarkable compositions. Mendelssohn, on his 
visit to the Highlands, was impressed by them, 
and introduced a portion of a pibroch into one 
of his finest compositions. Few musicians take 



the trouble of examining into the structure of 
these pieces, and they are condemned often 
with little real discrimination. Next to those 
we have the military music of the Highlands, 
also for the most part composed for the pipe, 
and now in general employed by the pipers of 
Highland regiments. This kind of music is 
eminently characteristic, having features alto 
gether distinctive of itself, and is much relished 
by Scotsmen from all parts of the country. 
Recently a large amount of music of this class 
has been adapted to the bagpipe which is 
utterly unfit for it, and the effect is the oppo 
site of favourable to the good name either of 
the instrument or the music. This practice is 
in a large measure confined to regimental pipe 
music. Such tunes as " I m wearying awa , 
Jean," or "Miss Forbes Farewell to Banff," 
have no earthly power of adaptation to the 
notes of the bagpipe, and the performance of 
such music on that instrument is a violation 
of good taste and all musical propriety. One 
cannot help being struck with the peculiar 
good taste that pervades all the compositions 
of the M Crummens, the famous pipers of the 
Macleods, and how wonderfully the music and 
the instrument are adapted to each other 
throughout. This cannot be said of all 
pibroch music, and the violation of the prin 
ciple in military music is frequently most 
offensive to an accurate ear. This has, no 
doubt, led to the unpopularity of the bagpipe 
and its music among a large class of the 
English-speaking community, who speak of 
its discordant notes, a reflection to which it 
is not in the least liable in the case of com 
positions adapted to its scale. 

Next to these two kinds follows the song- 
music of the Gael, to which reference has been 
made already. It abounds in all parts of the 
Highlands, and is partly secular, partly sacred. 
There are beautiful, simple, touching airs, to 
which the common songs of the country are- 
sung, and there are airs of a similar class, but 
distinct, which are used with the religious 
hymns of Buchanan, Matheson, Grant, and 
other writers of hymns, of whom there are 
many. The dance music of the Highlands is 
also distinct from that of any other country, 
and broadly marked by its own peculiar fea 
tures. There is the strathspey confined to 

Scotland, a moderately rapid movement well 
known to every Scotchman ; there is the jig in 
f th time, common to Scotland with Ireland ; 
and there is the reel, pretty much of the same 
class with the Strathspey, but marked by 
greater rapidity of motion. 

There is one thing which strikes the hearer 
in this music, that there is a vein of pathos 
runs through the whole of it. The Celtic mind 
is largely tinged with pathos. If a musical 
symbol might be employed to represent them, 
the mind of the Saxon may be said to be oast 
in the mould of the major mode, and the mind 
of the Celt in the minor. The majority of 
the ordinary airs in the Highlands are in the 
minor mode, and in the most rapid kinds of 
music, the jig and the reel, an acute ear will 
detect the vein of pathos running through the 

In sacred music there is not much that is 
distinctive of the Celt. In forming their 
metrical version of the Gaelic Psalms, the 
Synod of Argyll say that one of the greatest 
difficulties they had to contend with was in 
adapting their poetry to the forms of the 
English psalm tunes. There were no psalm 
tunes which belonged to the Highlands, and it 
was necessary after the Reformation to borrow 
such as had been introduced among other Pro 
testants, whether at home or abroad. More 
lately a peculiar form of psalm tune has 
developed itself in the North Highlands, 
which is deserving of notice. It is not a 
class of new tunes that has appeared, but a 
peculiar method of singing the old ones. The 
tunes in use are only six, all taken from the 
old Psalter of Scotland. They are French, 
Dundee, Elgin, York, Martyrs, and Old Lon 
don. The principal notes of the original tunes 
are retained, but they are attended with such 
a number of variations, that the tune in its 
new dress can hardly be at all recognised. 
These tunes may not be musically accurate, 
and artists may make light of them, but sung 
by a large body of people, they are eminently 
impressive and admirably adapted to purposes 
of worship. Sung on a Communion Sabbath 
by a crowd of worshippers in the open air, on 
the green sward of a Highland valley, old 
Dundee is incomparable, and exercises over 
the Highland mind a powerful influence. 



And truly, effect cannot be left out of view 
as an element in judging of the character of 
any music. The pity is that this music is fast 
going out of use even in the Highlands. It has 
always been confined to the counties of Caith 
ness, Sutherland, Eoss, and part of Inverness. 
Some say that this music took its complexion 
from the old chants of the mediaeval Church. 
One thing is true of this and all Gaelic psal 
mody, that the practice of chanting the line is 
rigidly adhered to, although from the more 
advanced state of general education in the 
Highlands the necessity that once existed for 
it is now passed away. 

Connected with the Gaelic music, the musical 
instruments of the Celts remain to be noticed; 
but we shall confine our observations to the 
harp and to the bagpipe, the latter of which 
has long since superseded the former in the 
Highlands. The harp is the most noted in 
strument of antiquity, and was in use among 
many nations. It was, in particular, the 
favourite instrument of the Celts. The Irish 
were great proficients in harp music, and they 
are said to have made great improvements on 
the instrument itself. So honourable was the 
occupation of a harper among the Irish, that 
none but freemen were permitted to play on 
the harp, and it was reckoned a disgrace for a 
gentleman not to have a harp, and be able to 
play on it. The royal household always in 
cluded a harper, who bore a distinguished 
rank. Even kings did not disdain to relieve 
the cares of royalty by touching the strings of 
the harp; and we are told by Major that 
James I., who died in 1437, excelled the best 
harpers among the Irish and the Scotch High 
landers. But harpers were not confined to the 
houses of kings, for every chief had his harper 
as well as his bard. 

" The precise period when the harp was 
superseded by the bagpipe, it is not easy to 
ascertain. Eoderick Morrison, usually called 
Ruaraidh Dall, or Blind Roderick,, was one of 
the last native harpers ; he was harper to the 
Laird of M Leod. On the death of his master, 
Morrison led an itinerant life, and in 1650 he 
paid a visit to Robertson of Lude, on which 
occasion he composed a Port or air, called 
Suipeir Thighearna Leoid or The, Laird of 
Ludes Supper, which, with other pieces, is 

still preserved. M Intosh, the compiler of the 
Gaelic Proverbs, relates the following anecdote 
of Mr Robertson, who, it appears, was a harp- 
player himself of some eminence : One 
night my father, James M Intosh, said to 
Lude that he would be happy to hear him 
play on the harp, which at that time began to 
give place to the violin. After supper Lude 
and he retired to another room, in which there 
was a couple of harps, one of which belonged 
to Queen Mary. James, says Lude, here are 
two harps ; the largest one is the loudest, but 
the small one is the SAveetest, which do you 
wish to hear played ? James answered the 
small one, which Lude took up and played 
upon till daylight. 

The last harper, as is commonly supposed, 
was Murdoch M Donald, harper to M Lean of 
Coll. He received instructions in playing 
from Rory Dall in Skye, and afterwards in 
Ireland ; and from accounts of payments 
made to him by M Lean, still extant, Mur 
doch seems to have continued in his family 
till the year 1734, when he appears to have 
gone to Quinish, in Mull, where he died." 

The history of the bagpipe is curious and 
interesting, but such history does not fall 
within the scope of this work. Although a 
very ancient instrument, it does not appear to 
have been known to the Celtic nations. It 
was in use among the Trojans, Greeks, and 
Romans, but how, or in what manner it came 
to be introduced into the Highlands is a ques 
tion which cannot be solved. Two suppositions 
have been started on this point, either that it 
was brought in by the Romans or by the 
northern nations. The latter conjecture ap 
pears to be the most probable, for we cannot 
possibly imagine that if the bagpipe had been 
introduced so early as the Roman epoch, no 
notice should have been taken of that instru 
ment by the more early annalists and poets. 
But if the bagpipe was an imported instrument, 
how does it happen that the great Highland 
pipe is peculiar to the Highlands, and is per 
haps the only national instrument in Europe ? 
If it was introduced by the Romans, or by the 
people of Scandinavia, how has it happened 
that no traces of that instrument in its present 
shape are to be found anywhere except in the 
Highlands? There is, indeed, some plausi- 



bility in these interrogatories, but they are 
easily answered, by supposing, what is very 
probable, that the great bagpipe in its presenl 
form is the work of modern improvement, anc 
that originally the instrument was much the 
same as is still seen in Belgium and Italy. 

The effects of this national instrument in 
arousing the feelings of those who have from 
infancy been accustomed to its wild and war 
like tunes are truly astonishing. In halls of 
joy and in scenes of mourning it has pre 
vailed ; it has animated Scotland s warriors in 
battle, and welcomed them back after their 
toils to the homes of their love and the hills 
of their nativity. Its strains were the first 
sounded on the ears of infancy, and they are 
the last to be forgotten in the wanderings of 
age. Even Highlanders will allow that it is 
not the quietest of instruments, but when far 
from their mountain homes, what sounds, 
however melodious, could thrill round their 
heart like one burst of their own wild native 
pipe ? The feelings which other instruments 
awaken are general and undefined, because 
they talk alike to Frenchmen, Spaniards, 
Germans, and Highlanders, for they are com 
mon to all; but the bagpipe is sacred to Scot 
land, and speaks a language which Scotsmen 
only feel. It talks to them of home and all 
the past, and brings before them, on the burn 
ing shores of India, the wild hills and oft- 
frequented streams of Caledonia, the friends 
that are thinking of them, and the sweet 
hearts and wives that are weeping for them 
there ; and need it be told here to how many 
fields of danger and victory its proud strains 
have led ! There is not a battle that is honour 
able to Britain in which its war-blast has not 
sounded. When every other instrument has 
been hushed by the confusion and carnage of 
the scene, it has been borne into the thick of 
battle, and, far in the advance, its bleeding 
but devoted bearer, sinking on the earth, has 
sounded at once encouragement to his country 
men and his own coronach. 




As connected with the literary history of 
the Gaelic Celts, the following lists of Gaelic 
and Irish manuscripts will, it is thought, bo 

considered interesting. 


1. A folio MS., beautifully written on parchment 
or vellum, from the collection of the late Major Mac- 
lauchlan of Kilbride. This is the oldest MS. in the 
possession of the Highland Society of Scotland. It is 
marked Vo. A. No. I. The following remark is 
written on the margin of the fourth leaf of the MS. : 
" Oidche bealtne aim a coimhtech mo Pupu Muir- 
ciusa agus as olc lium nach marunn diol in linesi dera 
dub Misi Fithil ace furnuidhe na scoile." Thus 
Englished by the late Dr Donald Smith : " The 
night of the first of May in Coenobium of my Pope 
Murchus, and I regret that there is not left of my ink 
enough to fill up this line. I am Fithil, an attendant 
on the school." This MS., which, from its ortho 
graphy, is supposed to be as old as the eighth or ninth 
century, " consists (says Dr Smith) of a poem, moral 
and religious, some short historical anecdotes, a critical 
exposition of the Tain, an Irish tale, which was com 
posed in the time of Diarmad, son of Cearval, who 
reigned over Ireland from the year 544 to 565 ; and 
the Tain itself, which claims respect, as exceeding in 
point of antiquity, every production of any other ver 
nacular tongue in Europe." l 

On the first page of the vellum, which was originally 
left blank, there are genealogies of the families of 
Argyll and Mac Leod in the Gaelic handwriting of 
the sixteenth century. The genealogy of the Argyll 
family ends with Archibald, who succeeded to the 
earldom in 1542, and died in 1588. 2 This is supposed 
to be the oldest Gaelic MS. extant. Dr Smith con 
jectures that it may have come into the possession of 
the Maclachlans of Kilbride in the sixteenth century, 
as a Ferquhard, son of Ferquhard Maclachlan, was 
bishop of the Isles, and had lona or I Colum Kille in 
:ommendam from 1530 to 1544. See Keith s Cata 
logue of Scottish Bishops. 

To the Tain is prefixed the following critical expo 
sition, giving a brief account of it in the technical 
erms of the Scots literature of the remote a"-e in 
which it was written. "Ceathardha connagur in each 
ealathuin is cuincda don tsairsisi na Tana. LOG di 
sedumtis lighe Fercusa mhic Roich ait in rou hath- 
mchd four mach Nai. Tempus umorro Dianmita 
mhic Ceruailt in rigno Ibeirnia. Pearsa umorro Fer- 
j;usa mhic Roich air is e rou tirchan do na hecsib ar 
henu. A tucaid scriuint dia ndeachai Seanchan 
foirpda cona III. ri ecces ... do saighe Cuaire rig 
Oondacht." That is the four things which are re 
quisite to be known in every regular composition are 
o be noticed in this work of the Tain. The place of 
ts origin is the stone of Fergus, son of Roich, where 
ic was buried on the plain of Nai. The time of it, 
3esides, is that in which Diarmad, son of Cervail, 
eigned over Ireland. The author, too, is Fergus, 

1 Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland 
n the Poems of Ossian, App. No. xlx., p. 290. 

2 It is, therefore, probable that these genealogies were written 
about the middle of the sixteenth century. A fac simile of the 
writing is to be found in the Report of the Committee of the 
Highland Society on the authenticity of Ossian, Plate II. 



son of Roich ; for he it was that prompted it forth 
with to the bards. The cause of writing it was a visit 
which Shenachan Torhda, with three chief bards, 
made to Guaire, king of Connaught. 3 

Flaherty thus concisely atd accurately describes 
the subject and character of the Tain: "Fergusius 
Rogius solo pariter ac solio Ultonise exterminatus, in 
Connactiam ad Ollilum et Maudam ibidem regnantes 
profugit ; quibus patrocinantibus, inemorabile exarsit 
belluin septannale inter Connacticos et Ultonios multis 
poeticis figmeniis, ut ea ferebat tetas, adornatum. 
Hujus belli circiter medium, octennio ante caput 
arte Christianne Mauda regina Connactise, Fergusio 
Rogio ductore, imrnensam bonum prcedam conspicuis 
agentium et insectantium virtutibus memorabilem, e 
Cualgnio hi agro Louthiano re portavit." 4 

From the expression, " Ut ea ferebat setas," Dr 
Smith thinks that O Flaherty considered the tale of 
the Tain as a composition of the age to which it re 
lates ; and that of course he must not have seen the 
Critical Exposition prefixed to the copy here described. 
From the silence of the Irish antiquaries respecting 
this Exposition, it is supposed that it must have been 
either unknown to, or overlooked by them, and conse 
quently that it was written in Scotland. 

The Exposition states, that Sheannachan, with the 
three bards and those in their retinue, when about to 
depart from the court of Guaire, being called upon to 
relate the history of the Tain blio, or cattle spoil of 
Cuailgne, acknowledged their ignorance of it, and 
that having ineffectually made the round of Ireland 
and Scotland in quest of it, Eimin and Muircheartach, 
two of their number, repaired to the grave of Fergus, 
son of Roich, who, being invoked, appeared at the 
end of three days in terrific grandeur, and related the 
whole of the Tain, as given in the twelve Reimsgeala 
or Portions of which it consists. In the historical 
anecdotes allusion is made to Ossian, the son of Fin- 
gal, who is represented as showing, when young, an 
inclination to indulge in solitude his natural propen 
sity for meditation and song. A fac simile of the 
characters of this MS. is given in the Highland 
Society s Report upon Ossian, Plate I., fig. 1, 2, and 
in Plate II. 

2. Another parchment MS. in quarto, equally 
beautiful as the former, from the same collection. 
It consists of an Almanack bound up with a paper 
list of all the holidays, festivals, and most remark 
able saints days in verse throughout the year A 
Treatise on Anatomy, abridged from Galen Observa 
tions on the Secretions, &c.- The Schola Salernitana, 
in Leonine verse, drawn up about the year 1100, for 
the use of Robert, Duke of Normandy, the son of 
William the Conqueror, by the famous medical school 
of Salerno. The Latin text is accompanied with a 
Gaelic explanation, which is considered equally faith 
ful and elegant, of which the following is a speci 
men : 

Caput I. Anglorum regi scnpsit schola tota Salerni. 
1. As iat scol Salemi go hulidhe do seriou na fearsadh so do 
chum rig sag san do choimhed a shlainnte. 

Si vis incolumem, si vis te reddere sanum ; 
Curas tolle graves, irasci crede prophanum. 
Madh ail bhidh fallann, agiis madh aill bliidh slan ; Cuir na 
himsnimha troma dhit, agus creit gurub diomhain duit fearg do 

The words Leabhar Giollacholaim Meigbcathadh are 
written on the last page of this MS., which being in 
the same form and hand, with the same words on a 
paper MS. bound up with a number of others written 
upon vellum in the Advocates Library, and before 
which is written Liber Malcolmi Bcthune, it has been 

3 Report of the Committee of the Highland Society on Ossian, 
App. No. xix., p. 291. 

4 Ogyg., p. 275. 

conjectured that both works originally belonged to 
Malcolm Bethune, a member of a family distinguished 
for learning, which supplied the Western Isles for 
many ages with physicians. 5 

3. A small quarto paper MS. from the same collec 
tion, written at Dunstaffnage by Ewen Macphaill, 
12th October 1603. It consists of a tale in prose con 
cerning a King of Lochlin and the Heroes of Fingal : 
An Address to Gaul, the son of Morni, beginning 

Goll mear mileant 
Ceap na Crodhachta 

An Elegy on one of the earls of Argyle, beginning 
A Mhic Cailin a chosg lochd ; 

and a poem in praise of a young lady. 

4. A small octavo paper MS. from the same collec 
tion, written by Eamonn or Edmond Mac Lachlan, 
1654-5. This consists of a miscellaneous collection of 
sonnets, odes, and poetical epistles, partly Scots, and 
partly Irish. There is an Oylwtm or alphabet of secret 
writing near the end of it. 

5. A quarto paper MS. from same collection. It 
wants ninety pages at the beginning, and part of the 
end. What remains consists of some ancient and 
modern tales and poems. Tho names of the authors 
are not given, but an older MS. (that of the Dean of 
Lismore) ascribes one of the poems to Conal, son of 
Edirskeol. This MS. was written at Aird-Chonail 
upon Lochowe, in the years 1690 and 1691, "by Ewan 
Mac Lean for Colin Campbell. " Caillain Caimpbel 
leis in leis in leabharan. 1. Caillin mac Dhonchai 
mhic Dhughil mhic Chaillain oig." Colin Campbell 
is the owner of this book, namely Colin, son of Dun 
can, son of Dougal, son of Colin the younger. The 
above Gaelic inscription appears on the 79th leaf of 
the MS. 

6. A quarto paper MS., which belonged to the Rev. 
James MacGregor, Dean of Lismore, the metropolitan 
church of the see of Argyle, dated, page 27, 1512, 
written by Duncan the son of Dougal, son of Ewen 
the Grizzled. This MS. consists of a large collection 
of Gaelic poetry, upwards of 11,000 verses. It is 
said to have been written "out of the books of the 
History of the Kings." Part of the MS., however, 
which closes an obituary, commencing in 1077, of the 
kings of Scotland, and other eminent persons of Scot 
land, particularly of the shires of Argyle and Perth, 
was not written till 1527. The poetical pieces are 
from the times of the most ancient bards down to the 
beginning of the sixteenth century. The more ancient 
pieces are poems of Conal, son of Edirskeol, Ossian, 
son of Fingal, Fearghas Fili (Fergus the bard), and 
Caoilt, son of Ronan, the friends and contemporaries 
of Ossian. This collection also contains the works of 
Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchay, who fell in the 
battle of Flodden, and Lady Isabel Campbell, daughter 
of the Earl of Argyle, and wife of Gilbert, Earl of 
Cassilis. 8 "The writer of this MS. (says Dr Smith) 
rejected the ancient character for the current hand 
writing of the time, and adopted a new mode of 
spelling conformable to the Latin and English sounds 
of his own age and country, but retained the aspirate 
mark ( )... The Welsh had long before made a 
similar change in their ancient orthography. Mr 
Edward Lhuyd recommended it, with some variation, 
in a letter to the Scots and Irish, prefixed to his 
Dictionary of their language in the Archreologia 
Britannica. The bishop of Sodor and Man observed 
it in the devotional exercises, admonition, and cate 
chism, which he published for the use of his diocese. 
It was continued in the Manx translation of the 
Scriptures, and it has lately been adopted by Dr 

5 Appendix, tit supra. No. xix. 

6 Report of the Highland Society on Ossian. p. 92. 



Reilly, titular Primate of Ireland, in Ms TAGASG 
KKEESTY, or Christian Doctrine. But yet it must be 
acknowledged to be much inferior to the ancient mode 
of orthography, which has not only the advantage of 
being grounded on a knowledge of the principles of 
grammar, and philosophy of language, but of being 
also more plain and easy. This volume of the Dean s 
is curious, as distinguishing the genuine poetry of 
Ossian from the imitations made of it by later bards, 
and as ascertaining the degree of accuracy with which 
ancient poems have been transmitted by tradition for 
the last three hundred years, during a century of 
which the order of bards has been extinct, and ancient 
manners and customs have suffered a great and rapid 
change in the Highlands." 7 A fac simile of the 
writing is given in the Report of the Committee of the 
Highland Society, plate III. No. 5. Since the above 
was written, the whole of this manuscript, with a few 
unimportant exceptions, has been transcribed, trans 
lated, and annotated by the Rev. Dr M Lauchlan, 
Edinburgh, and an introductory chapter was furnished 
by W. F. Skene, Esq., LL.D. The work has been 
published by Messrs Edmonston & Douglas, of 
Edinburgh, and is a valuable addition to our Gaelic 

7. A quarto paper MS. written in a very beautiful 
regular hand, without date or the name of the writer. 
It is supposed to be at least two hundred years old, 
and consists of a number of ancient tales and short 
poems. These appear to be transcribed from a much 
older MS., as there is a vocabulary of ancient words in 
the middle of the MS. Some of the poetry is ascribed 
to Cuchulin. 

8. Another quarto paper MS. the beginning and 
end of which have been lost. It consists partly of 
prose, partly of poetry. With the exception of two 
loose leaves, which appear much older, the whole ap 
pears to have been written in the 17th century. The 
poetry, though ancient, is not Fingalian. The name, 
Tadg Og CO., before one of the poems near the end. 
is the only one to be seen upon it. 

9. A quarto parchment MS. consisting of 42 leaves, 
written by different hands, with illuminated capitals. 
It appears at one time to have consisted of four 
different MSS. bound to together and covered with 
skin, to preserve them. This MS. is very ancient and 
beautiful, though much soiled. In this collection is 
a life of St Columba, supposed, from the character 
(being similar to No. 27,) to be of the twelfth or thir 
teenth century. 

10. A quarto parchment medical MS. beautifully 
written. No date or name, but the MS. appears to 
be very ancient. 

11. A quarto paper MS., partly prose, partly verse, 
written in a very coarse and indifferent hand. No 
date or name. 

12. A small quarto MS. coarse. Bears date 1647 
without name. 

13. A small long octavo paper MS. the beginning 
and end lost, and without any date. It is supposed 
to have been written by the Macvurichs of the 
fifteenth century. Two of the poems are ascribed to 
ladg Mac Daire Bruaidheadh, others to Brian 
O Donalan. 

14. A large folio parchment MS. in two columns, 
containing a tale upon Cuchullin and Conal, two of 
Ossian s hereos. Without date or name and very 

15. A large quarto parchment of 7 4 leaves, supposed 
by Mr Astle, author of the work on the origin and 
progress of writing, to be of the ninth or tenth century. 

itle is Emanud, a name commonly given by the 

Gaelic writers to many of their miscellaneous 

writings. Engraved specimens of this MS. are to be 

seen in the first edition of Mr Astle s work atove- 
mentioned, 18th plate, Nos. 1 and 2, and in his 
second edition, plate 22. Some of the capitals in the 
MS. are painted red. It is written in a strong beauti 
ful hand, in the same character as the rest. This MS. 
is only the fragment of a large work on ancient history 
written on the authority of Greek and Roman writers, 
and interspersed with notices of the arts, armour 
dress, superstitions, manners, and usages, of the Scots 
of the author s own time. In this MS. there is a 
chapter titled, SlogJia C/iesair an Inis Bhreatan" 
or Cesar s expedition to the island of Britain, in which 
Lechlin, a country celebrated in the ancient poems 
and tales of the Gael, is mentioned as separated from 
Gaul by "the clear current of the Rhine." Dr 
Donald Smith had a complete copy of this work. 

16. A small octavo parchment MS. consisting of a 
tale in prose, imperfect. Supposed to be nearly as 
old as the last mentioned MS. 

17. A small octavo paper MS. stitched, imperfect 
written by the Macvurichs. It begins with a poem 
upon Darthula, different from Macpherson s, and 
contains poems written by Cathal and Nial Mor Mac- 
vurich, (whose names appear at the beginning of some 
of the poems,) composed in the reign of King James 
the Fifth, Mary, and King Charles the First. It also 
contains some Ossianic poems, such as Cnoc an air, 
&c. i. e. The Hill of Slaughter, supposed to be part 
of Macpherson s Fingal. It is the story of a woman 
who came walking alone to the Fingaliaus for protec 
tion from Taile, who was in pursuit of her. Taile 
fought them, and was killed by Oscar. There was an 
other copy of this poem in Clanranald s little book- 
not the Red book, as erroneously supposed by Laing. 
The Highland Society are also in possession of several 
copies taken from oral tradition. The second Ossianic 
poem in this MS. begins thus : 

Se la gus an de 

nach fhaca mi fein Fionn. 

It is now six days yesterday 
Since I have not seen Fingal. 

J Appendix to the Highland Society s Report, p. 300-1. 

18. An octavo paper MS. consisting chiefly of 
poetry, but very much defaced. Supposed to have 
been written by the last of the Macvurichs, but with 
out date. The names of Tadg Og and Lauchlan Mac 
Taidg occur upon it. It is supposed to have been 
copied from a more ancient MS. as the poetry is good. 

19. A very small octavo MS. written by some of 
the Macvurichs. Part of it is a copy of Clanranald s 
book, and contains the genealogy of the Lords of the 
Isles and others of that great clan. The second part 
consists of a genealogy of the kings of Ireland (ancestors 
of the Macdonaldsj from Scota and Gathelic. The 
last date upon it is 1616. 

_ 20. A paper MS. consisting of a genealogy of the 
kings of Ireland, of a few leaves only, and without 

21. A paper MS. consisting of detached leaves of 
different sizes, and containing, 1. The conclusion of a 
Gaelic chronicle of the kings of Scotland down to 
King Robert III.; 2. A Fiugalian tale, in which the 
heroes are Fingal, Goll Mac Morni, Oscar, Ossian, 
and Conan ; 3. A poem by Macdonald of Benbecula, 
dated 1722, upon the unwritten part of a letter sent 
to Donald Macvurich of Stialgary ; 4. A poem by 
Donald Mackenzie ; 5. Another by Tadg Og CC, 
copied from some other MS. ; 6. A poem by Donald 
Macvurich upon Ronald Macdonald of Clanranald. 
Besides several hymns by Tadg, and other poems by 
the Macvurichs and others. 

22. A ; .paper MS. consisting of religious tracts and 
genealogy, without name or date. 

23. A paper MS. containing instruction for children 
in Gaelic and English. Modern, and without date. 



24. Fragments of a paper MS., with the name o 
Cathelus Macvurich upon some of the leaves, am 
Niall Macvurich upon some others. Conn Mac an 
Deirg, a well known ancient poem, is written in the 
Roman character by the last Niall Macvurich, the 
last Highland bard, and is the only one among all the 
Gaelic MSS. in that character. 

With the exception of the first five numbers, all the 
before mentioned MSS. were presented by the High 
land Society of London to the Highland Society oi 
Scotland in January, 1803, on the application of the 
committee appointed to inquire into the nature and 
authenticity of the poems of Ossian. All these MSS. 
(with the single exception of the Dean of Lismore s 
volume,) are written in the very ancient form of 
character which was common of old to Britain and 
Ireland, and supposed to have been adopted by the 
Saxons at the time of their conversion to Christianity. 
This form of writing has been discontinued for nearly 
eighty years in Scotland, as the last specimen which 
the Highland Society of Scotland received of it consists 
of a volume of songs, supposed to have been written 
between the years 1752 and 1768, as it contains a 
song written by Duncan Macintyre, titled, An To/Heir 
Mac Neachdain, which he composed the former year, 
the first edition of Macintyre s songs having been 
published during the latter year. 8 

25. Besides these, the Society possesses a collection 
of MS. Gaelic poems made by Mr Duncan Kennedy, 
formerly schoolmaster at Craignish in Argyleshire, in 
three thin folio volumes. Two of them are written 
out fair from the various poems he had collected about 
sixty years ago. This collection consists of the fol 
lowing poems, viz., Luachair Leothaid, Sgiathan mac 
Sgairbh, An Gruagach, Rochd, Sithallan, Mur Bheura, 
Tiombau, Sealg na Cluana, Gleanncruadhach, Uirnigh 
Oisein, Earragan, (resembling Macpherson s Battle of 
Lora,) Manus, Maire Borb, (Maid of Craca,) Cath 
Sisear, Sliabh nam Beaun Fionn, Bas Dheirg, Bas 
Chuinn, Righ Liur, Sealg na Leana, Dun an Oir, An 
Cu dubh, Gleann Diamhair, Conal, Bas Chiuinlaich 
Diarmad, Carril, Bas Ghuill (different from the Death 
of Gaul published by Dr Smith,) Garaibh, Bas Oscair, 
(part of which is the same narrative with the opening 
of Macpherson s Tcmora,) in three parts ; Tuiridh 
nam Fian, and Bass Osein. To each of these poems 
Kennedy has prefixed a dissertation containing some 
account of the Sgealaehd story, or argument of the 
poem which is to follow. It was very common for 
the reciter, or history-man, as he was termed in the 
Highlands, to repeat the Sgealachds to his hearers be 
fore reciting the poems to which they related. Several 
of the poems in this collection correspond pretty 
nearly with the ancient MS. above mentioned, which 
belonged to the Dean of Lismore. 9 

26. A paper, medical, MS. in the old Gaelic charac 
ter, a thick volume, written by Angus Connacher at 
Ardconel, Lochow-side, Argyleshire, 1612, presented 
to the Highland Society of Scotland by the late 
William Macdonald, Esq. of St Martins, W.S. 

27. A beautiful parchment MS., greatly mutilated, 
in the same character, presented to the Society by the 
late Lord Bannatyne, one of the judges of the Court 
of Session. The supposed date upon the cover is 1238, 
is written in black letter, but it is in a comparatively 
modern hand. "Gleann Masai n. an cuige la deag do 
an ... Mb. : : : do bhlian ar tsaoirse Mile da chead, 
trichid sa hocht." That is, Glen-Masan, the 15th 
day of the ... of M ::: of the year of our Redemp 
tion 1238. It is supposed that the date has been 
taken from the MS. when in a more entire state. 
Glenmasan, where it was written, is a valley in the 
district of Cowal. From a note on the margin of the 


8 Report on Ossian, Appendix, p. 312. 
Report on Ossiau, pp. 1 08- 9, 

15th leaf, it would appear to have formerly belonged 
to the Rev. William Campbell, minister of Kilchrenan 
and Dalavich, and a native of Cowal, and to whom 
Dr D. Smith supposes it may, perhaps, have descended 
from his grand- uncle, Mr Robert Campbell, in Cowal, 
an accomplished scholar and poet, who wrote the 
eighth address prefixed to Lhuyd s Archceologia. 

The MS. consists of some mutilated tales in prose, 
interspersed with verse, one of which is part of the 
poem of "Clan Uisneachan," called by Macpherson 
Darthula, from the lady who makes the principal 
figure in it. The name of this lady in Gaelic is Deir 
dir, or Dearduil. A facsimile of the writing is given 
in the appendix to the Highland Society s Report on 
Ossian. Plate iii. No. 4. 

28. A paper MS. in the same character, consisting 
of an ancient tale in prose, presented to the Society 
by Mr Norman Macleod, son of the Rev. Mr Macleod 
of Morven. 

29. A small paper MS. in the same character, on 

30. A paper MS. in the same character, presented 
to the Highland Society by James Grant, Esquire of 
Corymony. It consists of the history of the wars of 
Cuchullin, in prose and verse. This MS. is much 
worn at the ends and edges. It formerly belon-v 1 to 
to Mr Grant s mother, said to have been an excellent 
Gaelic scholar. 


1. A beautiful medical MS. with the other MSS. 
formerly belonging to the collection. The titles of the 
different articles are in Latin, as are all the medical 
Gaelic MSS., being translations from Galen and other 
ancient physicians. The capital letters are flourished 
and painted red. 

2. A thick folio paper MS., medical, written by 
Duncan Conacher, at Dunollie, Argyleshire, 1511. 

3. A folio parchment MS. consisting of ancient 
Scottish and Irish history, very old. 

4. A folio parchment medical MS. beautifully 
written. It is older than the other medical MSS. 

5. A folio parchment medical MS. of equal beauty 
with the last. 

6. A folio parchment MS. upon the same subject, 
and nearly of the same age with the former. 

7. A folio parchment, partly religious, partly medi 

8. A folio parchment MS. consisting of the Histories 
of Scotland and Ireland, much damaged. 

9. A folio parchment medical MS., very old. 

10. A folio parchment MS. Irish history and poetry. 

11. A quarto parchment MS., very old. 

12. A long duodecimo parchment MS. consisting 
of hymns and maxims. It is a very beautiful MS., 
and may be as old as the time of St Columba. 

13. A duodecimo parchment MS. much damaged 
and illegible. 

14. A duodecimo parchment MS. consisting of 
poetry, but not Ossianic. Hardly legible. 

15. A duodecimo parchment MS. much injured by 
vermin. It consists of a miscellaneous collection of 
listory and poetiy. 

16. A duodecimo parehment MS. in large beautiful 
Better, very old and difficult to be understood. 

17. A folio parchment MS. consisting of the genea- 
ogies of the Macdonalds, Macniels, Macdougals, 

Maclauchlans, &c. 

All these MSS. are written in the old Gaelic charac 
ter, and, with the exception of No. 2, have neither 
date nor name attached to them. 



Besides those enumerated, there are, it is believed, 
many ancient Gaelic MSS. existing in urivate libraries. 
The following are known : 

A Deed of Fosterage between Sir Norman Macleod 
of Bernera, and John Mackenzie, executed in the year 
1640. This circumstance shows that the Gaelic lan 
guage was in use in legal obligations at that period in 
the Highlands. This MS. was in the possession of 
the late Lord Bannatyne. 

A variety of parchment MSS. on medicine, in the 
Gaelic character, formerly in the possession of the late 
I)r Donald Smith. He was also possessed of a com 
plete copy of the Emanuel MS. before mentioned, and 
of copies of many other MSS., which he made at dif 
ferent times from other MSS. 

Two paper MS. Gaelic grammars, in the same 
character, formerly in the possession of the late Dr 
Wright of Edinburgh. 

Two ancient parchment MSS. in the same character, 
formerly in the possession of the late Eev. James 
Maclagan, at Blair- Athole. Now in possession of his 
family. It is chiefly Irish history. 

A paper MS. written in the Roman character, in the 
possession of Mr Matheson of Fearnaig, Ross-shire. 
It is dated in 1688, and consists of songs and hymns 
by different persons, some by Carswell, Bishop of the 
Isles. There is reason to fear that this MS. has been 

A paper MS. formerly in the possession of a Mi- 
Simpson in Leith. 

The Lilium Medecinse, a paper folio MS. written 
and translated by one of the Bethunes, the physicians 
of Skye, at the foot of Mount Peliop. It was given 
to the Antiquarian Society of London by the late Dr 
Macqueen of Kilmore, in Skye. 

Two treatises, one on astronomy, the other on medi 
cine, written in the latter end of the thirteenth or 
beginning of the fourteenth century, formerly in the 
possession of Mr Astle. 


Three volumes MS. in the old character, chiefly 
medical, with some fragments of Scottish and Irish 
history ; and the life of St Columba, said to have been 
translated from the Latin into Gaelic, by Father 


A MS. volume (No. 5280) containing twenty-one 
Gaelic or Irish treatises, of which Mr Astle has given 
seme account. One of these treats of the Irish militia, 
under Fion Maccumhail, in the reign of Cormac-Mac- 
Airt, king of Ireland, and of the course of probation 
or exercise which each soldier was to go through before 
his admission therein. Mr Astle has given afac simile 
of the writing, being the thirteenth specimen of Plate 


An old Irish MS. on parchment, containing, among 
other tracts, An account of the Conquest of Britain 
by the Romans : Of the Saxon Conquest and their 
Heptarchy : An account of the Irish Saints, in verse, 
written in the tenth century : The Saints of the 
Roman Breviary : An account of the Conversion of 
the Irish and English to Christianity, with some other 
subjects. Laud. F. 92. This book, as is common in 
old Irish manuscripts, has here and there some Latin 
notes intermixed with Irish, and may possibly contain 
some hints of the doctrines of the Druids. 

An old vellum MS. of 140 pages, in the form of a 
music-book, containing the works of St Columba, in 
verse, with some account of his own life ; his exhorta 
tions to princes and his prophecies. Laud. D. 17. 

A chronological history of Ireland, by Jeffrey Keat 
ing, D.D. 

Among the Clarendon MSS. at Oxford are 

Annales Ultonienses, sic dicti quod precipue conti- 
neant res gestas TJltoniensium. Codex antiquissimus 
caractere Hibernico scriptus ; sed sermone, partim 
Hibernico, partim Latino. Fol. membr. The 16th 
and 17th specimens in Plate xxii. of Astle s work are 
taken from this MS., which is numbered 31 of Dr 
Rawlinson s.MSS. 

Annales Tigernaci (Erenaci. ut opiuiatur Waroeus 
Clonmanaisensis. Vid. Annal. Ulton. ad an. 1088), 
mutili in initio et alibi. Liber charactere et lingua 
Hibernicis scriptus. Memb. 

These annals, which are written in the old Irish 
character, were originally collected by Sir Jamea 
Ware, and came into the possession successively of the 
Earl of Clarendon, the Duke of Chandos, and of Dr 

Miscellanea de Rebus Hibernicis, metrice. Lingua 
partim Latina, partim Hibernica ; collecta per CEngu- 
sium O Colode (forte Colidium). Hie liber vulgo 
Psalter Na rann appellatur. 

Elegiaj Hibernicse in Obitus quorundam Nobilium 
fo. 50. 

Notse qusedam Philosophic^, partim Latine, partim 
Hibernice, Characteribus Hibernicis, fo. 69. Membr. 

Anonymi cujusdam Tractatus de varies apud Hiber- 
nos veteres occultis scribendi Formulis, Hibernice 
Ogum dictis. 

Finleachi Catalai Gigantomachia (vel potius Acta 
Finni Mac Cuil, cum Prcelio de Fintra), Hibernice. 
Colloquia qusedam de Rebus Hibernicis in quibus 
colloquentes introducuntur S. Patricius, Coillius, et 
Ossenus Hibernice f. 12. Leges Ecclesiasticse Hiber 
nice f. 53. Membr. 

Vita3 Sanctorum Hibernicorum, per Magnum sive 
Manum, filium Hngonis O Donnel, Hibernige de- 
scriptse. An. 1532, Fol. Membr. 

Calieni Prophetiae, in Lingua Hibernica. Ejusdem 
libri exemplar extat in Bibl. Cotton, f. 22. b. 

Extracto ex Libro Killensi, Lingua Hibernica, f. 

Historica quaadam, Hibernice, ab An. 130, ad An. 
1317, f. 231. 

A Book of Irish Poetry, f. 16. 

Tractatus de Scriptoribus Ilibernicis. 

Dr Keating s History of Ireland. 

Irish MSS. in Trinity College, Dublin : 

Extracto ex Libro de Kells Hibernice. 

A book in Irish, treating, 1. Of the Building of 
Babel. 2. Of Grammar. 3. Of Physic. 4. Of 
Chirurgery. Fol. D. 10. 

A book containing several ancient historical matters, 
especially of the coming of Milesius out of Spain. 
B. 35. 

The book of Balimote, containing, 1. The Genea 
logies of all the ancient Families in Ireland. 2. The 
Uracept, or a book for the education of youth, written 
by K. Comfoilus Sapiens. 3. The Ogma, or Art of 
Writing in Characters. 4. The History of the Wars 
of Troy, with other historical matters contained in the 
book of Lecane, D. 18. The book of Lecane, alias 
Sligo, contains the following treatises : 1. A treatise 
of Ireland and its divisions into provinces, with the 
history of the Irish kings and sovereigns, answerable 
to the general history ; but nine leaves are wanting. 
2. How the race of Milesius came into Ireland, and of 
their adventures since Moses s passing through the 
Red Sea. 3. Of the descent and years of the ancient 
fathers. 4. A catalogue of the kings of Ireland in 
verse. 5. The maternal genealogies and degrees of 
the Irish saints. 6. The genealogies of our Lady, 



Joseph, and several other saints mentioned in the 
Scripture. 7. An alphabetic catalogue of Irish saints. 

8. The sacred antiquity of the Irish saints in verse. 

9. Cormac s life. 10. Several transactions of the 
monarchs of Ireland and their provincial kings. 11. 
The history of Eogain M or, Knight ; as also of his 
children and posterity. 12. O Neil s pedigree. 13. 
Several battles of the Sept of Cinet Ogen, or tribe of 
Owen, from Owen Mac Neile Mac Donnoch. 14. 
Manne, the son of King Neal, of the nine hostages 
and his family. 15. Fiacha, the son of Mac Neil and 
his Sept. 16. Leogarius, son of Nelus Magnus, and 
his tribe. 17. The Connaught book. 18. The book 
ofFiatrach. 19. The book of Uriel. 20. TheLeinster 
book. 21. The descent of the Pochards, or the 
Nolans. 22. The descent of those of Leix, or the 
O Mores. 23. The descent of Decyes of Munster, or 
the Ophelans. 24. The coming of Muscrey to Moy- 
breagh. 25. A commentary upon the antiquity of 
Albany, now called Scotland. 26. The descent of 
some Septs of the Irish, different from those of the 
most known sort, that is, of the posterity of Lugadh 
Frith. 27. The Ulster book. 28. The British book. 
29. The Uracept, or a book for the education of youth, 
written by K . Comfoilus Sapiens. 30. The genealogies 
of St Patrick and other saints, as also an etymology 
of the hard words in the said treatise. 31. A treatise 
of several prophecies. 32. The laws, customs, ex 
ploits, and tributes of the Irish kings and provincials. 
33. A treatise of Eva, and the famous women of 
ancient times. 34. A poem that treats of Adam and 
his posterity. 35. The Munster book. 36. A book 
containing the etymology of all the names of the chief 
territories and notable places in Ireland. 37. Of the 
several invasions of Clan-Partholan, Clan-nan vies, 
Firbolhg, Tu atha de Canaan, and the Milesians into 
Ireland. 38. A treatise of the must considerable nieu 

in Ireland, from the time of Leogarius the son of 
Nelus Magnus, alias Neale of the nine hostages in the 
time of Roderic O Conner, monarch of Ireland, fol. 
parchment. D. 19. 

De Chirurgia. De Infirmitatibus Corporis humane, 
Hibernice, f. Membr. C. 1. 

Excerpta qusedam de antiquitatibus Incolarum, 
Dublin ex libris Bellemorensi et Sligantino, Hiber 

Hymni in laudem B. Patricii, Brigidae et Columbia?, 
Hibern. plerumque. Invocationes Apostolorum et 
SS. cum not. Hibern. interlin. et margin. Orationes 
qusedam excerptae ex Psalmis ; partim Latine, partim 
Hibernice, fol. Membr. I. 125. 

Opera Galeni et Hippocratis de Chirurgia, Hiber 
nice, fol. Membr. C. 29. 

A book of Postils in Irish, fol. Membr. D. 24. 

Certain prayers, with the argument of the four 
Gospels and the Acts, in Irish (10.), Fiechi Sleb- 
thiensis. Hymnus in laudem S. Patricii, Hibernice 
(12.), A hymn on St Bridget, in Irish, made by 
Columkill in the time of Eda Mac Ainmireck, cum 
Regibus Hibern. et success. S. Patricii (14.), Sanctani 
Hymnus. Hibern. 

Reverendissimi D. Bedelli Translatio Hibernica S. 


In addition to the above, there has been a consider 
able collection of Gaelic MSS. made at the British 
Museum. They were all catalogued a few years ago 
by the late Eugene O Curry, Esq. It is unnecessary 
to give the list here, but Mr O Curry s catalogue will 
be found an admirable directory for any inquirer at 
the Museum. Foreign libraries also contain many 
such MSS. 




Clanship Principle of kin Mormaordoms Tradi 
tions as to origin of Clans Distinction between 
Feudalism and Clanship Peculiarities of Clanship 
Consequences of Clanship Manrent Customs of 
Succession Tanistry and Gavel Highland Mar 
riage Customs Hand-fasting Highland gradation 
of ranks Calpe Native-men Kigh or King 
Mormaor, Tighern, Thane Tanist Ceantighes 
Toshach "Captain" of a Clan Ogtiern Duine- 
wassels, Tacksmen, or Goodmeu Brehon Position 
and power of Chief Influence of Clanship on the 
people Chiefs sometimes abandoned by the people 
Number and Distribution of Clans. 

THE term clan, now applied almost exclusively 
to the tribes into which the Scottish High 
landers were formerly, and still to some 
extent are divided, was also applied to those 
large and powerful septs into which the Irish 
people were at one time divided, as well as 
to the communities of freebooters that in 
habited the Scottish borders, each of which, 
like the Highland clans, had a common sur 
name. Indeed, in an Act of the Scottish 
Parliament for 1587, the Highlanders and 
Borderers are classed together as being alike 
"dependents on chieftains or captains of clans." 
The border clans, however, were at a com 
paratively early period broken up and weaned 
from their predatory and warlike habits, 
whereas the system of clanship in the High 
lands continued to flourish in almost full 
vigour down to the middle of last century. 
As there is so much of romance surrounding 
the system, especially in its later manifesta 

tions, and as it was the cause of much annoy 
ance to Britain, it has become a subject of 
interest to antiquarians and students of man 
kind generally ; and as it nourished so far 
into the historical period, curiosity can, to a 
great extent, be gratified as to its details and 

A good deal has been written on the subject 
in its various aspects, and among other autho 
rities we must own our indebtedness for much 
of our information to Skene s Highlanders 
of Scotland, Gregory s Highlands and Isles, 
Robertson s Scotland under her Early Kings, 
Stewart s Sketches of the Highlanders, Logan s 
Scottish Gael and Clans, and The lona Club 
Transactions, besides the publications of the 
various other Scottish Clubs. 

We learn from Tacitus and other historians, 
that at a very early period the inhabitants of 
Caledonia were divided into a number of tribes, 
each with a chief at its head. These tribes, 
from all we can learn, were independent of, 
and often at war with each other, and only 
united under a common elected leader when 
the necessity of resisting a common foe com 
pelled them. In this the Caledonians only 
followed a custom which is common to all 
barbarous and semi-barbarous peoples ; but 
what was the bond of union among the mem 
bers of the various tribes it is now not tasy to 
ascertain. We learn from the researches of 
Mr E. W. Robertson that the feeling of kin 
dred was very strong among all the early Celtic 



and even Teutonic nations, and that it was on 
the principle of kin that land was allotted to 
the members of the various tribes. The pro 
perty of the land appears to have been vested 
in the Cean-cinneth, or head of the lineage for 
the good of his clan ; it was " burdened with 
the support of his kindred and Amasach " 
(military followers), these being allotted par 
cels of land in proportion to the nearness of 
their relation to the chief of the clan. 1 The 
word clan itself, from its etymology, 2 points to 
the principle of kin, as the bond which united 
the members of the tribes among themselves, 
and bound them to their chiefs. As there are 
good grounds for believing that the original 
Caledonians, the progenitors of the present 
genuine Highlanders, belonged to the Celtic 
family of mankind, it is highly probable that 
when they first entered upon possession of 
Alban, whether peaceably or by conquest, 
they divided the land among their various 
tribes in accordance with their Celtic prin 
ciple. The word clan, as we have said, sig 
nifies family, and a clan was a certain number 
of families of the same name, sprung, as was 
believed, from the same root, and governed 
by the lineal descendant of the parent family. 
This patriarchal form of society was probably 
common in the infancy of mankind, and seems 
to have prevailed in the days of Abraham ; 
indeed, it was on a similar principle that 
Palestine Avas divided among the twelve tribes 
of Israel, the descendants of the twelve sons of 

As far back as we can trace, the Highlands 
appear to have been divided into a number of 
districts, latterly known as Mormaordoms, each 
under the j urisdiction of a Mormaor, to whom the 
several tribes in each district looked up as their 
common head. It is not improbable that Gal- 
gacus, the chosen leader mentioned by Tacitus, 
may have held a position similar to this, and 
that in course of time some powerful or popular 
chief, at first elected as a temporary leader, may 
have contrived to make his office permanent, 
and even to some extent hereditary. The title 
Mormaor, however, is first met with only after 
the various divisions of northern Scotland had 

Scotland under her Early Kings, Ap. D. 
2 Gaelic, dann ; Irish, clann, or eland; Manx, 
cloan, children, offspring, tribe. 

been united into a kingdom. " In Scotland 
the royal official placed over the crown or 
fiscal lands, appears to have been originally 
known as the Maor, and latterly under the 
Teutonic appellation of Thane. . . . The 
original Thanage would appear to have been 
a district held of the Crown, the holder, Maor 
or Thane, being accountable for the collection 
of the royal dues, and for the appearance of 
the royal tenantry at the yearly hosting, 
and answering to the hereditary Toshach, or 
captain of a clan, for the king stood in the 
place of the Cean-cinneth, or chief. . . . When 
lands were strictly retained in the Crown, the 
Royal Thane, or Maor, was answerable directly 
to the King ; but there was a still greater 
official among the Scots, known under the 
title of Mormaor, or Lord High Steward . . . 
who was evidently a Maor placed over a pro 
vince instead of a thanage an earldom or 
county instead of a barony a type of Har- 
fager s royal Jarl, who often exercised as a 
royal deputy that authority? which he had 
originally claimed as the independent lord of 
the district over which he presided." 3 Ac 
cording to Mr Skene, 4 it was only about the 
16th century when the great power of these 
Mormaors was broken up, and their provinces 
converted into thanages or earldoms, many of 
which were held by Saxon nobles, who pos 
sessed them by marriage, that the clans first 
make their appearance in these districts and 
in independence. By this, we suppose, he 
does not mean that it was only when the above 
change took place that the system of clanship 
sprang into existence, but that then the various 
great divisions of the clans, losing their cean- 
cinneth, or head of the kin, the individual clans 
becoming independent, sprang into greater 
prominence and assumed a stronger indi 

Among the Highlanders themselves various 
traditions have existed as to the origin of the 
clans. Mr Skene mentions the three principal 
ones, and proves them to be entirely fanciful. 
The first of these is the Scottish or Irish system, 
by which the clans trace their origin or founda 
tion to early Irish or Scoto-Irish kings. The 
second is what Mr Skene terms the heroic 

3 Robertson s Early Kings, i. 102, 103, 104. 

4 Highlanders, i. 16. 



system, by which many of the Highland clans 
are deduced from the great heroes in the 
fabulous histories of Scotland and Ireland, by 
identifying one of these fabulous heroes with 
an ancestor of the clan of the same name. 
The third system did not spring up till the 
17th. century, "when the fabulous history of 
Scotland first began to be doubted, when it 
was considered to be a principal merit in an 
antiquarian to display his scepticism as to all 
the old traditions of the country." 5 Mr Skene 
terms it the Norwegian or Danish system, and 
it was the result of a furor for imputing every 
thing and deriving everybody from the Danes. 
The idea, however, never obtained any great 
credit in the Highlands. The conclusion to 
which Mr Skene comes is, " that the Highland 
clans are not of different or foreign origin, but 
that they were a part of the original nation, 
who have inhabited the mountains of Scotland 
as far back as the memory of man, or the re 
cords 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 into their place, that 
the Highland clans appeared in the peculiar 
situation and character in which they were 
afterwards found." Mr Skene thinks this 
conclusion strongly corroborated by the fact 
that there can be traced existing in the High 
lands, even so late as the 16th century, a still 
older tradition than that of the Irish origin of 
the clans. This tradition is found in the often 
referred to letter of "John Elder, clerk, a 
Eeddschanke," dated 1542, and addressed to 
ICing Henry VIII. This tradition, held by 
the Highlanders of the " more auncient stoke" 
in opposition to the " Papistical curside spirit- 
ualite of Scotland," was that they were the 
true descendants of the ancient Picts, then 
known as " Redd Schankes." 

Whatever may be the value of Mr Skene s 
conclusions as to the purity of descent of the 
present Highlanders, his researches, taken in 
conjunction with those of Mr E. "W. Robert 
son, seem pretty clearly to prove, that from as 
far back as history goes the Highlanders were 
divided into tribes on the principle of kin, 

6 Highlanders, p. 7, et. seq. 

that the germ of the fully developed clan- 
system can be found among the earliest Celtic 
inhabitants of Scotland ; that clanship, in 
short, is only a modern example, systematised, 
developed, and modified by time of the ancient 
principle on which the Celtic people formed 
their tribes and divided their lands. The clans 
were the fragments of the old Celtic tribes, whose 
mormaors had been destroyed, each tribe divid 
ing into a number of clans. When, according 
to a recent writer, the old Celtic tribe was 
deprived of its chief, the bolder spirits among 
the minor chieftains would gather round them 
each a body of partisans, who would assume 
his name and obey his orders. It might even 
happen that, from certain favourable circum 
stances, a Saxon or a Norman stranger would 
thus be able to gain a circle of adherents out 
of a broken or chieftainless Celtic tribe, and 
so become the founder of a clan. 

As might be expected, this primitive, patri 
archal state of society would be liable to be 
abolished as the royal authority became ex 
tended and established, and the feudal system 
substituted in its stead. This we find was the 
case, for under David and his successors, dur 
ing the 12th and 13th centuries, the old and 
almost independent mormaordoms were gra 
dually abolished, and in their stead were 
substituted earldoms feudally dependent upon 
the Crown. In many instances these mor 
maordoms passed into the hands of lowland 
barons, favourites of the king ; and thus the 
dependent tribes, losing their hereditary 
heads, separated, as we have said, into a 
number of small and independent clans, al 
though even the new foreign barons them 
selves for a long time exercised an almost 
independent sway, and used the power which 
they had acquired by royal favour against the 
king himself. 

As far as the tenure of lands and the herit 
able jurisdictions were concerned, the feudal 
system was easily introduced into the High 
lands ; but although the principal chiefs readily 
agreed, or were induced by circumstances to 
hold their lands of the Crown or of low- 
country barons, yet the system of clanship 
remained in full force amongst the native 
Highlanders until a very recent period, and 
its spirit still to a certain extent survives in 



the affections, the prejudices, the opinions, and 
the habits of the people. 6 

The nature of the Highlands of Scotland 
was peculiarly favourable to the clan system, 
and no doubt helped to a considerable extent 
to perpetuate it. The division of the country 
into so many straths, and valleys, and islands, 
separated from one another by mountains or 
arms of the sea, necessarily gave rise to 
various distinct societies. Their secluded 
situation necessarily rendered general inter 
course difficult, whilst the impenetrable ram 
parts with which they were surrounded made 
defence easy. The whole race was thus broken 
into many individual masses, possessing a 
community of customs and character, but 
placed under different jurisdictions ; every dis 
trict became a sort of petty independent state; 
and the government of each community or 
clan assumed the patriarchal form, being a 
species of hereditary monarchy, founded on 
custom, and allowed by general consent, rather 
than regulated by positive laws. 

The system of clanship in the Highlands, 7 
although possessing an apparent resemblance 
to feudalism, was in principle very different 
indeed from that system as it existed in other 
parts of the country. In the former case, the 
people followed their chief as the head of their 
race, and the representative of the common 
ancestor of the clan; in the latter, they obeyed 
their leader as feudal proprietor of the lands to 
which they were attached, and to whom they 
owed military service for their respective por 
tions of these lands. The Highland chief was 
the hereditary lord of all who belonged to his 
clan, wherever they dwelt or whatever lands 
they occupied ; the feudal baron was entitled 
to the military service of all who held lands 
under him, to whatever race they might indi 
vidually belong. The one dignity was per 
sonal, the other was territorial ; the rights of 
the chief were inherent, those of the baron 
were accessory; the one might lose or forfeit 
his possessions, but could not thereby be 
divested of his hereditary character and privi- 

6 For details concerning the practical working of 
the clan system, in addition to what are given in this 
introduction, we refer the reader to chaps, xviii. 
xlii., xliii., xliv. of Part First. 

7 We are indebted for much of what follows to 
Skene s Highlanders of Scotland, vol. i. p. 153, et seq. 

leges ; the other, when divested of his fee, 
ceased to have any title or claim to the ser 
vice of those who occiipied the lands. Yet 
these two systems, so different in principle, 
were in effect nearly identical. Both exhibited 
the spectacle of a subject possessed of un 
limited power within his own territories, and 
exacting unqualified obedience from a numerous 
train of followers, to whom he stood in the 
several relations of landlord, military leader, 
and judge, with all the powers and preroga 
tives belonging to each of those characters. 
Both were equally calculated to aggrandise 
turbulent chiefs and nobles, at the expense of 
the royal authority, which they frequently 
defied, generally resisted, and but seldom 
obeyed; although for the most part, the chief 
was less disloyal than the baron, probably 
because he was farther removed from the seat 
of government, and less sensible of its inter 
ference with his own jurisdiction. The one 
system was adapted to a people in a pastoral 
state of society, and inhabiting a country, like 
the Highlands of Scotland, which from its 
peculiar nature and conformation, not only 
prevented the adoption of any other mode of 
life, but at the same time prescribed the divi 
sion of the people into separate families or 
clans. The other system, being of a defensive 
character, was necessary to a population occu 
pying a fertile but open country, possessing 
only a rude notion of agriculture, and exposed 
on all sides to aggressions on the part of neigh 
bours or enemies. But the common tendency 
of both was to obstruct the administration of 
justice, nurse habits of lawless violence, ex 
clude the cultivation of the arts of peace, and 
generally to impede the progress of improve 
ment; and hence neither was compatible with 
the prosperity of a civilised nation, where the 
liberty of the subject required protection, and 
the security of property demanded an equal 
administration of justice. 

The peculiarities of clanship are nowhere 
better described than in Burt s Letters from 
an Officer of Engineers to his Friend in Lon 
don. 8 " The Highlanders," he says, " are 
divided into tribes or clans, under chiefs or 

8 Letter xix. , part of which has already been quoted 
in ch. xlii., but may with advantage be again intro 
duced here. 



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

" The chief exercises an arbitrary authority 
over his vassals, determines all differences and 
disputes that happen among them, and levies 
taxes upon extraordinary occasions, such as 
the marriage of a daughter, building a house, 
or some pretence for his support or the 
honour of his name ; and if any one should 
refuse to contribute to the best of his ability, 
he is sure of severe treatment, and, if he per 
sists in his obstinacy, he would be cast out of 
his tribe by general consent. This power of 
the chief is not supported by interest, as they 
are landlords, but by consanguinity, as lineally 
descended from the old patriarchs or fathers 
of the families, for they hold the same autho 
rity when they have lost their estates, as may 
appear from several instances, and particularly 
ihat of one (Lord Lovat) who commands his 
clan, though at the same time they maintain 
him, having nothing left of his own. On 
the other hand, the chief, even against the 
laws, is bound to protect his followers, as they 
are sometimes called, be they never so criminal. 
He is their leader in clan quarrels, must free 

the necessitous from their arrears of rent, and 
maintain such who by accidents are fallen to 
total decay. Some of the chiefs have not only 
personal dislikes and enmity to each other, 
but there are also hereditary feuds between 
clan and clan, which have been handed down 
from one generation to another for several ages. 
These quarrels descend to the meanest vassals, 
and thus sometimes an innocent person suffers 
for crimes committed by his tribe at a vast 
distance of time before his being began." 

This clear and concise description will serve 
to convey an idea of clanship as it existed in 
the Highlands, about the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, when the system was in 
full force and vigour. It presented a singular 
mixture of patriarchal and feudal government ; 
and everything connected with the habits, 
manners, customs, and feelings of the people 
tended to maintain it unimpaired, amidst all 
the changes which were gradually taking place 
in other parts of the country, from the diffu 
sion of knowledge, and the progress of improve 
ment. There was, indeed, something almost 
oriental in the character of immutability which 
seemed to belong to this primitive institution, 
endeared as it was to the affections, and singu 
larly adapted to the condition of the people 
amongst whom it prevailed. Under its influ 
ence all their habits had been formed ; with 
it all their feelings and associations were indis- 
solubly blended. When the kindred and the 
folloAvers of a chief saw him surrounded by a 
body of adherents, numerous, faithful, and 
brave, devoted to his interests, and ready at 
all times to sacrifice their lives in his service, 
they could conceive no power superior to his ; 
and, when they looked back into the past his 
tory of their tribe, they found that his pro 
genitors had, from time immemorial, been at 
their head. Their tales, their traditions, their 
songs, constantly referred to the exploits or 
the transactions of the same tribe or fraternity 
living under the same line of chiefs ; and the 
transmission of command and obedience, of 
protection and attachment, from one genera 
tion to another, became in consequence as 
natural, in the eye of a Highlander, as the 
transmission of blood or the regular laws of 
descent. This order of things appeared to him 
as iixed and as inviolable as the constitution 



of nature or the revolutions of the seasons. 
Hence nothing could shake his fidelity to his 
chief, or induce him to compromise what he 
helieved to be for the honour and interest of 
his clan. He was not without his feelings of 
independence, and he would not have brooked 
oppression where he looked for kindness and 
protection. But the long unbroken line of 
chiefs is of itself a strong presumptive proof 
of the general mildness of their sway. The 
individuals might change, but the ties which 
bound one generation were drawn more closely, 
although by insensible degrees, around the 
succeeding one ; and thus each family, in all 
its various successions, retained something like 
the same sort of relation to the parent stem, 
which the renewed leaves of a tree in spring 
preserve, in point of form and position, to 
those which had dropped off in the preceding 

Many important consequences, affecting the 
character of the Highlanders, resulted from 
this division of the people into small tribes, 
each governed in the patriarchal manner al 
ready described. The authority of the sove 
reign, if nominally recognised, was nearly 
altogether unfelt and inoperative. His man 
dates could neither arrest the mutual depreda- 
| tions of the clans, nor allay their hereditary 
hostilities. Delinquents could not be pursued 
into the bosom of the clan which protected 
them, nor could the judges administer the 
laws, in opposition to the will or the interests 
of the chiefs. Sometimes the sovereign at 
tempted to strengthen his hands by fomenting 
divisions between the different clans, and en 
tering occasionally into the interests of one, in 
the hope of weakening another ; he threw his 
Aveight into one scale that the other might 
kick the beam, and he withdrew it again, that, 
by the violence of the reaction, both parties 
might be equally damaged and enfeebled. 
Many instances of this artful policy occur in 
Scottish history, which, for a long period, was 
little else than a record of internal disturb 
ances. The general government, wanting the 
power to repress disorder, sought to destroy its 
elements by mutual collision ; and the imme 
diate consequence of its inefficiency was an 
almost perpetual system of aggression, warfare, 
depreciation, and contention. Besides, the 


little principalities into which the Highlands 
were divided touched at so many points, yeb 
they were so independent of one another ; 
they approached so nearly in many respects, 
yet, in some others, were so completely sepa 
rated ; there were so many opportunities of 
encroachment on the one hand, and so little 
disposition to submit to it on the other ; and 
the quarrel or dispute of one individual of the? 
tribe so naturally involved the interest, the 
sympathies, and the hereditary feelings or ani 
mosities of the rest, that profound peace or 
perfect cordiality scarcely ever existed amongst 
them, and their ordinary condition was either 
a chronic or an active state of internal warfare. 
From opposing interests or wounded pride, 
deadly feuds frequently arose amongst the 
chiefs, and being warmly espoused by the 
clans, were often trasmitted, with aggravated 
animosity, from one generation to another. 

If it were profitable, it might be curious to 
trace the negotiations, treaties, and bonds of 
amity, or manrent as they were called, by 
which opposing clans strengthened themselves 
against the attacks and encroachments of their 
enemies or rivals, or to preserve what may be 
called the balance of power. Amongst the 
rudest communities of mankind may be dis 
covered the elements of that science which 
has been applied to the government and diplo 
macy of the most civilised nations. By such 
bonds they came under an obligation to assist 
one another ; and, in their treaties of mutual 
support and protection, smaller clans, unable 
to defend themselves, and those families or 
septs which had lost their chieftains, Avere also 
included. When such confederacies were 
formed, the smaller clans followed the for 
tunes, engaged in the quarrels, and fought 
under the chiefs, of the greater. Thus the 
MacEaes followed the Earl of Seaforth, the 
MacColls the Stewarts of Appin, and the Mac- 
Gillivrays and MacBeans the Laird of Mack 
intosh ; but, nevertheless, their ranks were 
separately marshalled, and were led by their 
own subordinate chieftains and lairds, who 
owned submission only when necessary for the 
success of combined operations. The union 
had for its object aggression or revenge, and 
extended no further than the occasion for 
which it had been formed ; yet it served to 



prevent the smaller clans from being swallowed 
up by the greater, and at the same time nursed 
the turbulent and warlike spirit which formed 
the common distinction of all. From these 
and other causes, the Highlands were for ages 
as constant a theatre of petty conflicts as 
Europe has been of great and important 
struggles ; in the former were enacted, in 
miniature, scenes bearing a striking and amus 
ing analogy to those which took place upon a 
grand scale in the latter. The spirit of oppo 
sition and rivalry between the clans perpet 
uated a system of hostility ; it encouraged the 
cultivation of the military at the expense of 
the social virtues, and it perverted their ideas 
both of law and morality. Revenge was ac 
counted a duty, the destruction of a neighbour 
a meritorious exploit, and rapine an honour 
able employment. Wherever danger was to 
be encountered, or bravery displayed, there 
they conceived that distinction was to be ob 
tained ; the perverted sentiment of honour 
rendered their feuds more implacable, their 
inroads more savage and destructive ; and 
superstition added its influence in exasperating 
animosities, by teaching that to revenge the 
death of a kinsman or friend was an act agree 
able to his manes ; thus engaging on the side 
of the most implacable hatred and the darkest 
vengeance, the most amiable and domestic of 
all human feelings, namely, reverence for the 
memory of the dead, and affection for the 
virtues of the living. 

Another custom, which once prevailed, con 
tributed to perpetuate this spirit of lawless re 
venge. " Every heir or young chieftain of a 
tribe," says Martin, who had studied the char 
acter and manners of the Highlanders, and 
understood them well, " was obliged to give a 
specimen of his valour before he was owned 
and declared governor or leader of his people, 
who obeyed and followed him on all occasions. 
This chieftain was usually attended with a re 
tinue of young men, who had not before given 
any proof of their valour, and were ambitious 
of such an opportunity to signalise themselves. 
It was usual for the chief to make a desperate 
incursion upon some neighbour or other that 
they were in feud with, and they were obliged 
to bring, by open force, the cattle they found 
in the land they attacked, or to die in the at 

tempt. After the performance of this achieve 
ment, the young chieftain was ever after 
reputed valiant, and worthy of government, 
and such as were of his retinue acquired the 
like reputation. This custom being recipro 
cally used among them, was not reputed rob 
bery 5 for the damage which one tribe sustained 
by the inauguration of the chieftain of another, 
was repaired when their chieftain came in his 
turn to make his specimen." 9 But the prac 
tice seems to have died out about half a cen 
tury before the time at which Martin s work 
appeared, and its disuse removed one fertile 
source of feuds and disorders. Of the nature 
of the depredations in which the Highlanders 
commonly engaged, the sentiments with which 
they were regarded, the manner in which they 
were conducted, and the effects which they 
produced on the character, habits, and manners 
of the people, an ample and interesting account 
will be frrmd in the first volume of General 
Stewart s valuable work on the Highlands. 

It has been commonly alleged, that ideas of 
succession were so loose in the Highlands, that 
brothers were often preferred to grandsons and 
even to sons. But this assertion proceeds on 
a most erroneous assumption, inasmuch as 
election was never in any degree admitted, and 
a system of hereditary succession prevailed, 
which, though different from that which has 
been instituted by the feudal law, allowed of 
no such deviations or anomalies as some have 
imagined. The Highland law of succession, 
as Mr Skene observes, requires to be considered 
in reference, first, to the chiefship and the 
superiority of the lands belonging to the clan ; 
and secondly, in respect to the property or the 
land itself. The succession to the chiefship 
and its usual prerogatives was termed the law 
of tanistry; that to the property or the land 
itself, gavel. But when the feudal system was 
introduced, the law of tanistry became the law 
of succession to the property as well as the 
chiefship ; whilst that of gavel was too directly 
opposed to feudal principles to be suffered to 
exist at all, even in a modified form. It ap 
pears, indeed, that the Highlanders adhered 
strictly to succession in the male line, and that 
the great peculiarity which distinguished their 

9 Description of tJie Western Islands. London, 



law of succession from that established by the 
feudal system, consisted in the circumstance 
that, according to it, brothers invariably suc 
ceeded before sons. In the feudal system pro 
perty was alone considered, and the nearest 
relation to the last proprietor was naturally 
accounted the heir. But, in the Highland 
system, the governing principle of succession 
was not property, but the right of chiefship, 
derived from being the lineal descendant of 
the founder or patriarch of the tribe ; it was 
the relation to the common ancestor, to whom 
the brother was considered as one degree nearer 
than the son, and through whom the right was 
derived, and not to ^he last chief, which regu 
lated the succession. Thus, the brothers of 
the chief invariably succeeded before the sons, 
not by election, but as a matter of right, and 
according to a fixed rule which formed the law 
or principle of succession, instead of being, as 
some have supposed, a departure from it, occa 
sioned by views of temporary expediency, by 
usurpation, or otherwise. In a word, the law 
of tanistry, however much opposed to the 
feudal notions of later times, flowed naturally 
from the patriarchal constitution of society in 
the Highlands, and was peculiarly adapted to 
the circumstances of a people such as we have 
described, whose warlike habits and love of 
military enterprise, or armed predatory expedi 
tions, made it necessary to have at all times a 
chief competent to act as their leader or com 

But if the law of tanistry was opposed to 
the principles of the feudal system, that of 
gavel or the succession to property amongst the 
Highlanders was still more adverse. By the 
feudal law the eldest son, when the succession 
opened, not only acquired the superiority over 
the rest of the family, but he also succeeded 
to the whole of the property, whilst the 
younger branches were obliged to push their 
fortune by following other pursuits. But in 
the Highlands the case was altogether different. 
By the law of gavel, the property of the clan was 
divided in certain proportions amongst all the 
male branches of the family, to the exclusion 
of females, who, by this extraordinary Salic 
anomaly, could no more succeed to the property 
than to the chiefship itself. The law of gavel 
in the Highlands, therefore, differed from the 

English custom of gavel-kind in being ex 
clusively confined to the male branches of a 
family. In what proportions the property was 
divided, or whether these proportions varied 
according to circumstances, or the will of the 
chief, it is impossible to ascertain. But it 
would appear that the principal seat of the 
family, with the lands immediately surrounding 
it, always remained the property of the chief; 
and besides this, the latter retained a sort of 
superiority over the whole possessions of the 
clan, in virtue of which he received from each 
dependent branch a portion of the produce of 
the land as an acknowledgment of his chiefship, 
and also to enable him to support the dignity 
of his station by the exercise of a commen 
surate hospitality. Such was the law of gavel, 
which, though adverse to feudal principles, 
was adapted to the state of society amongst 
the Highlands, out of which indeed it originally 
sprang ; because, where there were no other 
pursuits open to the younger branches of 
families except rearing flocks and herds during 
peace, and following the chief in war ; and 
where it was the interest as well as the 
ambition of the latter to multiply the con 
nexions of his family, and take every means 
to strengthen the power as well as to secure 
the obedience of his clan, the division of 
property, or the law of gavel, resulted as 
naturally from such an order of things, as that 
of hereditary succession to the patriarchal 
government and chiefship of the clan. Hence, 
the chief stood bo the cadets of his family in 
a relation somewhat analogous to that in which 
the feudal sovereign stood to the barons who 
held their fiefs of the crown, and although 
there was no formal investiture, yet the tenure 
was in effect pretty nearly the same. In 
both cases the principle of the system was 
essentially military, though it apparently led 
to opposite results ; and, in the Highlands, 
the law under consideration was so peculiarly 
adapted to the constitution of society, that it 
was only abandoned after a long struggle, and 
even at a comparatively recent period traces of 
its existence and operation may be observed 
amongst the people of that country. 1 

Similar misconceptions have prevailed re- 

1 Skeue s Highlanders of Scotland, vol. ii. cli. 7. 



garcling Highland marriage-customs. This 
was, perhaps, to be expected. In a country 
where a bastard son was often found in 
undisturbed possession of the chiefship or 
property of a clan, and where such bastard 
generally received the support of the clansmen 
against the claims of the feudal heir, it was 
natural to suppose that very loose notions oi 
succession were entertained by the people; 
that legitimacy conferred no exclusive rights ; 
and that the title founded on birth alone 
might be set aside in favour of one having no 
other claim than that of election. But this, 
although a plausible, would nevertheless be an 
erroneous supposition. The person here con 
sidered as a bastard, and described as such, 
was by no means viewed in the same light by 
the Highlanders, because, according to their 
law of marriage, which was originally very 
different from the feudal system in this matter, 
his claim to legitimacy was as undoubted as 
that of the feudal heir afterwards became. It 
is well known that the notions of the High 
landers were peculiarly strict in regard to 
matters of hereditary succession, and that no 
people on earth was less likely to sanction any 
flagrant deviation from what they believed to 
be the right and true line of descent. All 
their peculiar habits, feelings, and prejudices 
were in direct opposition to a practice, which, 
had it been really acted upon, must have 
introduced endless disorder and confusion ; 
and hence the natural explanation of this 
apparent anomaly seems to be, what Mr Skene 
has stated, namely, that a person who was 
feudally a bastard might in their view be 
considered as legitimate, and therefore entitled 
to be supported in accordance with their strict 
ideas of hereditary right, and their habitual 
tenacity of whatever belonged to their ancient 
usages. Nor is this mere conjecture or 
hypothesis. A singular custom regarding mar 
riage, retained till a late period amongst the 
Highlanders, and clearly indicating that their 
law of marriage originally differed in some 
essential points from that established under 
the feudal system, seems to afford a simple and 
natural explanation of the difficulty by which 
genealogists have been so much puzzled. 

" This custom was termed hand-fasting, and 
consisted in a species of contract between two 

chiefs, by which it was agreed that the heir of 
one should live with the daughter of the other 
as her husband for twelve months and a day. 
If in that time the lady became a mother, or 
proved to be with child, the marriage became 
good in law, even although no priest had 
performed the marriage ceremony in due form ; 
but should there not have occurred any 
appearance of issue, the contract was con 
sidered at an end, and each party was at 
liberty to marry or hand-fast with any other. 
It is manifest that the practice of so peculiar 
a species of marriage must have been in terms 
of the original law among the Highlanders, 
otherwise it would be difficult to conceive how 
such a custom could have originated ; and it is 
in fact one which seems naturally to have 
arisen from the form of their society, which 
rendered it a matter of such vital importance 
to secure the lineal succession of their chiefs. 
It is perhaps not improbable that it was this 
peculiar custom which gave rise to the report 
handed down by the Roman and other his 
torians, that the ancient inhabitants of Great 
Britain had their wives in common, or that it 
was the foundation of that law of Scotland by 
which natural children became legitimized by 
subsequent marriage ; and as this custom re 
mained in the Highlands until a very late 
period, the sanction of the ancient custom was 
sufficient to induce them to persist in regarding 
the offspring of such marriages as legitimate." - 
It appears, indeed, that, as late as the 
sixteenth century, the issue of a hand-fast 
marriage claimed the earldom of Sutherland. 
The claimant, according to Sir Robert Gordon, 
described himself as one lawfully descended 
from his father, John, the third earl, because, 
as he alleged, " his mother was hand-fasted 
and fianced to his father ;" and his claim was 
bought off (which shows that it was not con 
sidered as altogether incapable of being main 
tained) by Sir Adam Gordon, who had married 
;he heiress of Earl John. Such, then, was the 
nature of the peculiar and temporary connexion, 
,vhich gave rise to the apparent anomalies 
which we have been considering. It was a 
rustom which had for its object, not to inter- 
upt, but to preserve the lineal succession of 

2 Skene s Highlanders of Scotland, vol. i. chap. 7, 
jp. 1G6, 167 



the chiefs, and to obviate the very evil of which 
it is conceived to afford a glaring example. 
But after the introduction of the feudal law, 
which, in this respect, was directly opposed 
to the ancient Highland law, the lineal and 
legitimate heir, according to Highland prin 
ciples, came to be regarded as a bastard by the 
government, which accordingly considered him 
as thereby incapacitated for succeeding to the 
honours and property of his race ; and hence 
originated many of those disputes concerning 
succession and chiefship, which embroiled 
families with one another as well as with the 
government, and were productive of incredible 
disorder, mischief, and bloodshed. No allow 
ance was made for the ancient usages of the 
people, which were probably but ill under 
stood ; and the rights of rival claimants were 
decided according to the principles of a foreign 
system of law, which Avas long resisted, and 
never admitted except from necessity. It is 
to be observed, however, that the Highlanders 
themselves drew a broad distinction between 
bastard sons and the issue of the hand- fast 
unions above described. The former were 
rigorously excluded from every sort of suc 
cession, but the latter were considered as 
legitimate as the offspring of the most regularly 
solemnized marriage. 

Having said thus much respecting the laws 
of succession and marriage, we proceed next 
to consider the gradation of ranks which ap 
pears to have existed amongst the Highlanders, 
whether in relation to the lands of which they 
were proprietors, or the clans of which they 
were members. And here it maybe observed, 
that the classification of society in the High 
lands seems to have borne a close resemblance 
to that which prevailed in Wales and in Ire 
land amongst cognate branches of the same 
general race. In the former country there 
were three different tenures of land, and nine 
degrees of rank. Of these tenures, the first 
was termed Maerdir, signifying a person who 
has jurisdiction, and included three ranks; 
the second was called Uchilordir, or property, 
and likewise consisted of three ranks; and the 
third, denominated Priodordir, or native, in 
cluded that portion of the population whom 
we would now call tenants, divided into the 
degrees of yeomen, labourers, and serfs. A 

similar order of things appears to have prevailed 
in Ireland, where, in the classification of the 
people, we recognise the several degrees of 
Fuidir, Biadhtach, and Mogh. In the High 
lands, the first tenure included the three de 
grees of Ard Righ, High, and Mormaor ; the 
Tighern or Thane, the Armin and the Squire, 
were analogous to the three Welsh degrees in 
cluded in the Uchilordir ; and a class of per 
sons, termed native men, were evidently the 
same in circumstances and condition with the 
Priodordir of Wales. These native men were 
obviously the tenants or farmers on the pro 
perty, who made a peculiar acknowledgment, 
termed calpe, to the chief or head of their 
clan. For this we have the authority of Mar 
tin, who informs us that one of the duties 
"payable by all the tenants to their chiefs, 
though they did not live upon his lands," was 
called " calpich," and that " there was a stand 
ing law for it," denominated " calpich law." 
The other duty paid by the tenants was that of 
herezeld, as it was termed, which, along with 
calpe, was exigible if the tenant happened to 
occupy more than the eighth part of a davoch 
of land. That such was the peculiar acknow 
ledgment of chiefship incumbent on the native 
men, or, in other words, the clan tribute pay 
able by them in acknowledgment of the power 
and in support of the dignity of the chief, 
appears from the bonds of amity or manrent, 
in which we find them obliging themselves to 
pay " calpis as native men ought and should 
do to their chief." 

But the native men of Highland properties 
must be carefully distinguished from the 
cum.erlach, who, like the kaeth of the Welsh, 
were merely a species of serfs, or adscripti 
glebce. The former could not be removed from 
the land at the will of their lord, but there 
was no restriction laid on their personal 
liberty ; the latter might be removed at the 
pleasure of their lord, but their personal liberty 
was restrained, or rather abrogated. The native 
man was the tenant who cultivated the soil, 
and as such possessed a recognised estate in 
the land which he occupied. As long as he 
performed the requisite services he could not 
be removed, nor could a greater proportion of 
labour or produce be exacted from him than 
custom or usage had fixed. It appears, there- 



fore, that these possessed their farms, or hold 
ings, by a sort of hereditary right, which was 
not derived from their lord, and of which, 
springing as it did from immemorial usage, 
and the very constitution of clanship, it was 
not in his power to deprive them. The cumer- 
lach were the cottars and actual labourers of 
the soil, who, possessing no legal rights either 
of station or property, were in reality absolute 
serfs. The changes of succession, however, 
occasionally produced important results, illus 
trative of the peculiarities above described. 
" When a Xorman baron," says Mr Skene, 
" obtained by succession, or otherwise, a High 
land property, the Gaelic nativi remained in 
actual possession of the soil under him, but at 
the same time paid their calpes to the natural 
chief of their clan, and followed him in war. 
"When a Highland chief, however, acquired by 
the operation of the feudal succession, an addi 
tional property which had not been previously 
in the possession of his clan, he found it pos 
sessed by the nativi of another race. If these 
iiativi belonged to another clan which still 
existed in independence, and if they chose to 
remain on the property, they did so at the risk 
of being placed in a perilous situation, should 
a feud arise between the two clans. But if 
they belonged to no other independent clan, 
and the stranger chief had acquired the whole 
possessions of their race, the custom seems to 
have been for them to give a bond of manrent 
to their new lord, by which they bound them 
selves to follow him as their chief, and make 
him the customary acknowledgment of the 
calpe. They thus became a dependent sept 
upon a clan of a different race, while they 
were not considered as forming a part of that 
clan." 3 

The gradation of ranks considered in re 
ference to the clan or tribe may be briefly 
described. The highest dignitary was the 
righ or king, who in point of birth and station 
was originally on a footing of equality with the 
other chiefs, and only derived some additional 
dignity during his life from a sort of regal pre 
eminence. " Among the ancient Celtae the 
prince or king had nothing actually his own, 
but everything belonging to his followers was 

3 Skene s Highlanders of Scotland, vol. i. pp. 172, 

freely at his service;" of their own accord 
they gave their prince so many cattle, or a 
certain portion of grain. It seems probable 
that the Celtic chief held the public lands in 
trust for his people, and was on his succession 
invested with those possessions which he after- 
,vards apportioned among his retainers. Those 
only, we are told by Caesar, had lands, " magi 
strates and princes, and they give to their fol 
lowers as they think proper, removing them at 
the year s end." 4 The Celtic nations, accord 
ing to Dr Macpherson, limited the regal 
authority to very narrow bounds. The old 
monarchs of North Britain and Ireland were 
too weak either to control the pride and inso 
lence of the great, or to restrain the licentious 
ness of the populace. Many of those princes, 
if we credit history, were dethroned, and some 
of them even put to death by their subjects, 
which is a demonstration that their power was 
not unlimited. 

Next to the king was the Mormaor, who 
seems to have been identical with the 
Tighern 5 and the later Thane. As we have 
already indicated, the persons invested with 
this distinction were the patriarchal chiefs or 
heads of the great tribes into which the High 
landers were formerly divided. But when the 
line of the ancient mormaors gradually sank 
under the ascendant influence of the feudal 
system, the clans forming the great tribes be 
came independent, and their leaders or chiefs 
were held to represent each the common an 
cestor or founder of his clan, and derived all 
their dignity and power from the belief in such 
representation. The chief possessed his office 
by right of blood alone, as that right was 
understood in the Highlands ; neither election 
nor marriage could constitute any title to this 
distinction ; it was, as we have already stated, 
purely hereditary, nor could it descend to any 
person except him who, according to the High 
land rule of succession, was the nearest male 
heir to the dignity. 

Next to the chief stood the tanist or person 
who, by the laws of tanistry, was entitled to 
succeed to the chiefship ; he possessed this 
title during the lifetime of the chief, and, in 

4 Logan s Scottish Gael, i. 171. 

5 According to Dr Macphersor , TigJurn is derived 
from two words, meaning " a man of land." 



virtue of his apparent honours, was considered 
as a man of mark and consequence. " In the 
settlement of succession, the law of tanistry 
prevailed in Ireland from the earliest accounts 
of time. According to that law," says Sir 
James "Ware, " the hereditary right of succes 
sion was not maintained among the princes or 
the rulers of countries ; but the strongest, or 
he who had the most followers, very often the 
eldest and most worthy of the deceased king s 
blood and name, succeeded him. This person, 
by the common suffrage of the people, and in 
the lifetime of his predecessor, was appointed 
to succeed, and was called Tamst, that is to 
say, the second in dignity. Whoever received 
this dignity maintained himself and followers, 
partly out of certain lands set apart for that 
purpose, but chiefly out of tributary imposi 
tions, which he exacted in an arbitrary manner; 
impositions from which the lands of the church 
only, and those of persons vested with parti 
cular immunities, were exempted. The same 
custom was a fundamental law in Scotland for 
many ages. Upon the death of a king, the 
throne was not generally filled by his son, or 
daughter, failing of male issue, but by his 
brother, uncle, cousin-german, or near relation 
of the same blood. The personal merit of the 
successor, the regard paid to the memory of his 
immediate ancestors, or his address in gaining 
a majority of the leading men, frequently ad 
vanced him to the crown, notwithstanding the 
precautions taken by his predecessor." 6 

According to Mr E. W. Robertson, 7 the 
Tanist, or heir-apparent, appears to have been 
nominated at the same time as the monarch or 
chief, and in pursuance of what he considers a 
true Celtic principle, that of a "divided autho 
rity;" the office being immediately filled up in 
case of the premature death of the Tanist, the 
same rule being as applicable to the chieftain 
of the smallest territory as to the chosen leader 
of the nation. According to Dr Macpherson, 
it appears that at first the Tanist or successor 
to the monarchy, or chiefship, was elected, 
but at a very early period the office seems to 
have become hereditary, although not in the 
feudal sense of that term. Mr Skene has 
shown that the succession was strictly limited 

6 Dissertation, pp. 1C 5-6. 

7 Early Kings 

to heirs male, and that the great peculiarity of 
the Highland system was that brothers in 
variably were preferred to sons. This perhaps 
arose partly from an anxiety to avoid minorities 
"in a nation dependent upon a competent leader 
in war." This principle was frequently exem 
plified in the succession to the mormaordoms, 
and even to the kingly power itself; it formed 
one of the pleas put forward by Bruce in his 
competition for the crown with Baliol. 

After the family of the chief came the cean- 
tighes, or heads of the subordinate houses into 
which the clan was divided, the most powerful 
of whom was the toisich, or toshach, who was 
generally the oldest cadet. This was a natural 
consequence of the law of gavel, which, pro 
ducing a constant subdivision of the chief s 
estate, until in actual extent of property he 
sometimes came to possess less than any of the 
other branches of the family, served in nearly 
the same proportion to aggrandise the latter, 
and hence that branch which had been longest 
separated from the original became relatively 
the most powerful. The toshach, military 
leader, or captain of the clan, certainly appears 
to have been at first elected to his office among 
the Celtic nations, as indeed were all the digni 
taries who at a later period among the High 
landers succeeded to their positions according 
to fixed laws. 8 As war was the principal 
occupation of all the early Celtic nations, the 
office of toshach, or " war-king," as Mr Robert 
son calls him, was one of supreme importance, 
and gave the holder of it many opportunities of 
converting it into one of permanent kingship 
although the Celts carefully guarded against 
this by enforcing the principle of divided 
authority among their chiefs, and thus main 
taining the " balance of power." The toshach 1 ] s 
duties were strictly military, he having nothing 
to do with the internal affairs of the tribe or 
nation, these being regulated by a magistrate, 
judge, or vergobreith, elected annually, and in 
vested with regal authority and the power of 
life and death. It would appear that the 
duties of toshach sometimes devolved on the 
tanist, though this appears to have seldom 
been the case among the Highlanders. 9 From 
a very early time the oldest cadet held the 

8 Robertson s Early Kings, i. 24. 
8 Logan s Gael, i. 188. 



highest rank in the clan, next to the chief; 
and when the clan took the field he occupied, 
as a matter of right, the principal post of 
honour. On the march he headed the van, 
and in battle took his station on the right ; 
he was, in fact, the lieutenant-general of the 
chief, and when the latter was absent he com 
manded the whole clan. 1 Another function 
exercised by the oldest cadet was that of maor, 
or steward, the principal business of which 
officer was to collect the revenues of the chief; 
but, after the feudal customs were introduced, 
this duty devolved upon the baron-bailie, and 
the maor consequently discontinued his fiscal 

The peculiar position of the toshach, with 
the power and consequence attached to it, 
naturally pointed him out as the person to 
whom recourse would be had in circumstances 
of difficulty ; and hence arose an apparent 
anomaly which has led to no little misconcep 
tion and confusion. The difficulty, however, 
may easily be cleared by a short explanation. 
When, through misfortune or otherwise, the 
family of the chief had become so reduced that 
he could no longer afford to his clan the pro 
tection required, and which formed the corre 
lative obligation on his -part to that of fealty 
and obedience on theirs, then the clansmen 
followed the oldest cadet as the head of the 
most powerful sept or branch of the clan; and 
he thus enjoyed, sometimes for a considerable 
period, all the dignity, consequence, and pri 
vileges of a chief, without, of course, either 
possessing a right, jure sanguinis, to that 
station, or even acquiring the title of the office 
which he, de facto, exercised. He was merely 

1 " Toisick," says Dr Macpherson, "was another 
title of honour which obtained among the Scots of the 
middle ages. Spelman imagined that this dignity was 
the same with that of Thane. But the Highlanders, 
among whose predecessors the word was once common, 
distinguished carefully in their language the toisich 
from the tanistair or the tierna. When they enume 
rate the different classes of their great men, agreeably 
to the language of former times, they make use of 
these three titles, in the same sentence, with a dis 
junctive particle between them." "In Gaelic," he 
adds, tics, los, and tosich signify the beginning or 
first part of anything, and sometimes the front of an 
army or battle." Hence perhaps the name toisich, 
implying the post of honour which the oldest cadet 
always occupied as his peculiar privilege and distinc 
tion. Mr Robertson, however, thinks toshach is 
derived from the same root as the Latin dux. (Early 
Kings, i. 26.) 

a sort of patriarchal regent, who exercised the 
supreme power, and enjoyed prerogatives of 
royalty without the name. While the system 
of clanship remained in its original purity, no 
such regency, or interregnum, could ever take 
place. But, in process of time, many circum 
stances occurred to render it both expedient 
and necessary. In fact, clanship, in its ancient 
purity, could scarcely co-exist with the feudal 
system, which introduced changes so adverse 
to its true spirit ; and hence, when the territory 
had passed, by descent, into the hands of a 
Lowland baron, or when, by some unsuccess 
ful opposition to the government, the chief had 
brought ruin upon himself and his house, and 
was no longer in a condition to maintain his 
station and afford protection to his clan, the 
latter naturally placed themselves under the 
only head capable of occupying the position of 
their chief, and with authority sufficient to 
command or enforce obedience. In other Avords, 
they sought protection at the hands of the 
oldest cadet ; and he, on his part, was known 
by the name, not of chief, which would have 
been considered a gross usurpation, but of 
captain, or leader of the clan. It is clear, 
therefore, that this dignity was one which 
owed its origin to circumstances, and formed 
no part of the original system, as has been 
generally but erroneously supposed. If an 
anomaly, it was one imposed by necessity, 
and the- deviation was confined, as we have 
seen, within the narrowest possible limits. 
It was altogether unknown until a recent 
period in the history of the Highlands, and, 
when it did come into use, it was principally 
confined to three clans, namely, Clan Chattan, 
Clan Cameron, and Clan Eanald ; an un 
doubted proof that it was not a regular but an 
exceptional dignity, that it was a temporary 
expedient, not part of a system ; and that a 
captain differed as essentially from a chief as 
a regent differs from an hereditary sovereign. 
" It is evident," says Mr Skene, who has the 
merit of being the first to trace out this dis 
tinction clearly, " that a title, which was not 
universal among the Highlanders, must have 
arisen from peculiar circumstances connected 
with those clans in which it is first found ; 
and when we examine the history of these 
clans, there can be little doubt that it was 



simply a person who had, from various causes, 
become de facto head of the clan, while the 
person possessing the hereditary right to that 
dignity remained either in a subordinate situa 
tion, or else for the time disunited from the 
rest of the clan." 2 

Another title known among the ancient 
Highlanders was that of ogtiern, or lesser 
tighern, or Thane, and was applied either to 
the son of a tighern, or to those members 
of the clan whose kinship to the chief was 
beyond a certain degree. They appear to 
have to a large extent formed the class of 
duinewassels, or gentry of the clan, inter 
mediate between the chief and the body of 
the clan, and known in later times as tacks- 
men or goodmen. " These, again, had a circle 
of relations, who considered them as their im 
mediate leaders, and who in battle were placed 
under their immediate command. Over them 
in peace, these chieftains exercised a certain 
authority, but were themselves dependent on 
the chief, to whose service all the members of 
the clan were submissively devoted. As the 
duinewassels received their lands from the 
bounty of the chief, for the purpose of sup 
porting their station in the tribe, so these 
lands were occasionally resumed or reduced to 
provide for those who were more immediately 
related to the laird ; hence many of this class 
necessarily sank into commoners. This tran 
sition strengthened the feeling which was 
possessed by the very lowest of the com 
munity, that they were related to the chief, 
from whom they never forgot they originally 
sprang." 2 The duinewassels were all cadets of 
the house of the chief, and each had a pedi 
gree of his own as long, and perchance as 
complicated as that of his chief. They were, 
as might be expected, the bravest portion of 
the clan ; the first in the onset, and the 

2 Skene s Highlanders, vol. ii. pp. 177, 178. That 
the captains of clans were originally the oldest cadets, 
is placed beyond all doubt by an instance which Mr 
Skene has mentioned in the part of his work here re 
ferred to. " The title of captain occurs but once in 
the family of the Macdonalds of Slate, and the single 
occurrence of this peculiar title is when the clan 
Houston was led by the uncle of their chief, then in 
minority. In 1545, we find Archibald Maconnill, 
captain of the clan Houston ; and thus, on the only 
occasion when this clan followed as a chief a person 
who had not the right of blood to that station, he 
styles himself captain of the clan." 

3 Logan s Gael, L 173. 


last to quit the strife, even when the tide 
of battle pressed hardest against them. They 
cherished a high and chivalrous sense of 
honour, ever keenly alive to insult or re 
proach ; and they were at all times ready to 
devote themselves to the service of their chief, 
when a wrong was to be avenged, an inroad 
repressed or punished, or glory reaped by deeds 
of daring in arms. 

Another office which existed among the old 
Gaelic inhabitants of Scotland was that of 
Brehon, deemster, or judge, the representa 
tive of the vergobreith previously referred to. 
Among the continental Celts this office was 
elective, but among the Highlanders it ap 
pears to have been hereditary, and by no 
means held so important, latterly at least, as 
it was on the continent. As we referred to 
this office in the former part of this work, we 
shall say nothing farther of it in this place. 

To this general view of the constitution of 
society in the Highlands, little remains to be 
added. The chief, as we have seen, was a 
sort of regulus, or petty prince, invested with 
an authority which was in its nature arbitrary, 
but which, in its practical exercise, seems 
generally to have been comparatively mild 
and paternal. He was subjected to no theo 
retical or constitutional limitations, yet, if 
ferocious in disposition, or weak in under 
standing, he was restrained or directed by the 
elders of the tribe, who were his standing coun 
sellors, and without whose advice no measure 
of importance could be decided on. Inviolable 
custom supplied the deficiency of law. As his 
distinction and power consisted chiefly in the 
number of his followers, his pride as well as 
his ambition became a guarantee for the mild 
ness of his sway ; he had a direct and imme 
diate interest to secure the attachment and 
devotion of his clan ; and his condescension, 
while it raised the clansman in his own esti 
mation, served also to draw closer the ties 
which bound the latter to his superior, with 
out tempting him to transgress the limits of 
propriety. The Highlander was thus taught 
to respect himself in the homage which he 
paid to his chief. Instead of complaining of 
the difference of station and fortune, or con 
sidering prompt obedience as slavish degrada 
tion, he felt convinced that he was supporting 




his own honour in showing respect to the head 
of his family, and in yielding a ready com 
pliance to his will. Hence it was that the 
Highlanders carried in their demeanour the 
politeness of courts without the vices by which 
these are too frequently dishonoured, and 
cherished in their bosoms a sense of honour 
without any of its follies or extravagances. 
This mutual interchange of condescension and 
respect served to elevate the tone of moral 
feeling amongst the people, and no doubt con 
tributed to generate that principle of incor 
ruptible fidelity of which there are on record so 
many striking and even affecting examples. 
The sentiment of honour, and the firmness 
sufficient to withstand temptation, may in 
general be expected in the higher classes of 
society ; but the voluntary sacrifice of life and 
fortune is a species of self-devotion seldom 
displayed in any community, and never per 
haps exemplified to the same extent in any 
country as in the Highlands of Scotland. 4 
The punishment of treachery was a kind of 
conventional outlawry or banishment from 
society, a sort of aquce et ignis inter dictio even 
more terrible than the punishment inflicted 
under that denomination, during the preva 
lence of the Eoman law. It was the judgment 
of all against one, the condemnation of society, 
not that of a tribunal ; and the execution of 
the sentence was as complete as its ratification 
was universal. Persons thus intercommuned 
were for ever cut off from the society to which 
they belonged ; they incurred civil death in its 
most appalling form, and their names descended 
with infamy to posterity. What higher proof 
could possibly be produced of the noble senti 
ments of honour and fidelity cherished by the 
people, than the simple fact that the breach 
of these was visited with such a fearful retri 
bution 1 

On the other hand, when chiefs proved 
worthless or oppressive, they were occasionally 
deposed, and when they took a side which 

"All who are acquainted with the events of the 
unhappy .nsurrection of 1745, must have heard of a 
gentleman of the name of M Kenzie. who had so re 
markable a resemblance to Prince Charles Stuart, as 
to give rise to the mistake to which he cheerfully 
sacrificed his life, continuing the heroic deception to 
the last, and exclaiming with his expiring breath 
\ illams, you have killed your Prince. " (Stewart s 
Sketches, &c., vol. i. p. 59). 

was disapproved by the clan, they were aban 
doned by their people. Of the former, there 
are several well authenticated examples, and 
General Stewart has mentioned a remarkable 
instance of the latter. " In the reign of King 
William, immediately after the Revolution, 
Lord Tullibardine, eldest son of the Marquis 
of Athole, collected a numerous body of Athole 
Highlanders, together with three hundred 
Frasers, under the command of Hugh, Lord 
Lovat, who had married a daughter of the 
Marquis. These men believed that they were 
destined to support the abdicated king, but 
were in reality assembled to serve the govern 
ment of William. When in front of Blair 
Castle, their real destination was disclosed to 
them, by Lord Tullibardine. Instantly they 
rushed from their ranks, ran to the adjoining 
stream of Banovy, and filling their bonnets 
with water, drank to the health of King 
James ; then with colours flying and pipes 
playing, fifteen hundred of the men of Athole 
put themselves under the command of the 
Laird of Ballechin, and marched off to join 
Lord Dundee, whose chivalrous bravery and 
heroic exploits had excited their admiration 
more than those of any other warrior since the 
days of Montrose." 

The number of Highland clans has been 
variously estimated, but it is probable that 
when they were in their most flourishing con 
dition it amounted to about forty. Latterly, by 
including many undoubtedly Lowland houses, 
the number has been increased to about a 
hundred, the additions being made chiefly by 
tartan manufacturers. Mr Skene has found 
that the various purely Highland clans can be 
clearly classified and traced up as having be 
longed to one or other of the great mormaordoms 
into which the north of Scotland was at one 
time divided. In his history of the individual 
clans, however, this is not the classification 
which he adopts, but one in accordance with 
that which he finds in the manuscript genea 
logies. According to these, the people were 
originally divided into several great tribes, 
the clans forming each of these separate tribes 
being deduced from a common ancestor. A 
marked line of distinction may be drawn be 
tween the different tribes, in each of which 
indications may be traced serving more or less, 



according to Mr Skene, to identify them with 
the ancient mormaorships or earldoms. 

In the old genealogies each tribe is invari 
ably traced to a common ancestor, from whom 
all the different branches or clans are supposed 
to have descended. Thus we have 1. De 
scendants of Conn of the Hundred Battles, in 
cluding the Lords of the Isles, or Macdonalds, 
the Macdougals, the Macneills, the Maclachlans, 
the Macewens, the Maclaisrichs, and the Mac- 
eacherns ; 2. Descendants of Fearchar Fada 
Mac Feradaig, comprehending the old mor- 
maors of Moray, the Mackintoshes, theMacpher- 
sons, and the Macnauchtans ; 3. Descendants 
of Cormac Mac Oirbertaig, namely, the old 
Earls of Ross, the Mackenzies, the Mathiesons, 
the Macgregors, the Mackinnons, the Mac- 
quarrieSj the Macnabs, and the Macduffies ; 4. 
Descendants of Fergus Leith Dearg, the Mac- 
leods and the Campbells ; and 5. Descendants 
of Krycul, the Macnicols. 

Whatever may be the merits or defects of 
this distribution, it is convenient for the pur 
pose of classification. It affords the means of 
referring the different clans to their respective 
tribes, and thus avoiding an arbitrary arrange 
ment ; and it is further in accordance with the 
general views which have already been sub 
mitted to the reader respecting the original 
constitution of clanship. We shall not, how 
ever, adhere strictly to Mr Skene s arrangement. 


The Gallgael, or Western Clans Fiongall and Dubh- 
gall Lords of the Isles Somerled Suibne Gille- 
bride Mac Gille Adomnan Somerled in the West 
Defeat and death His children Dugall and his 
descendants Ranald s time sons, Ruari, Donald, 
Dugall Roderick Ranald The Clan Donald- 
Origin Angus Og His son John His sons God 
frey and Donald Donald marries Mary, sister of 
Earl of Ross Battle of Harlaw Policy of James I. 
Alexander of the Isles Donald Balloch John 
of the Isles Angus Og declares himself Lord of the 
Isles Seizes Earl and Countess of Athole Intrigues 
with England Battle of Lagebread Battle of 
Bloody Bay Alexander of Lochalsh Expedition 
of James IV. Donald Dubh Donald Galda 
Donald Gorme Donald Dubh reappears Somer- 
led s descendants fail The various Island Clans 
The Chiefship Lord Macdonald and Macdonald of 
Clan Ranald Donald Gorme Mor Feuds with the 
Macleans and Macleods Sir Donald, fourth Baronet 
Sir Alexander s wife befriends Prince Charles 
Sir James, eighth Baronet Sir Alexander, ninth 
P>aronet, created a peer of Ireland Present Lord 
Macdonald Macdonalds of Islay and Kintyre 

Alexander of Islay s rebellions Angus Macdonald 
Feud with Macleans Sir James imprisoned 
His lands pass to the Campbells Macdonalds of 
Keppoch, or Clanranald ot Lochaber Disputes 
with the Mackintoshes The Macdonalds at Cul- 
loden Clanranald Macdonalds of Garmoran and 
their offshoots Battle of Kinloch-lochy or Blar- 
nan-leine Macdonalds of Benbecula, Boisdale, 
Kinlochmoidart, Gleualadale Marshal Macdonald, 
Duke of Tarentum Macdonalds of Glencoe - 
Macdonuells of Glengarry Feud between the 
Glengarry Macdonalds and Mackenzie of Kintail 
General Sir James Macdonnell Colonel Alexander 
Ranaldson Macdonnell, last specimen of a Highland 
Chief Families descended from the Macdonnells 
of Glengarry Strength of the Macdonalds Cha 
racteristic in the arms of the Coast-Gael. 

THE clans that come first in order in Mr 
Skene s classification are those whose pro 
genitor is said by the genealogists to have 
been the fabulous Irish King Conn " of the 
hundred battles." They are mostly all located 
in the Western Islands and Highlands, and are 
said by Mr Skene to have been descended from 
the Gallgael, or Gaelic pirates or rovers, who 
are said to have been so called to distinguish 
them from the Norwegian and Danish Fingall 
and Dugall, or white and black strangers or 
rovers. Mr Skene advocates strongly the un 
mixed Gaelic descent of these clans, as indeed 
he does of almost all the other clans. He 
endeavours to maintain that the whole of these 
western clans are of purely Pictish descent, not 
being mixed with even that of the Dalriadic 
Scots. We are inclined, however, to agree 
with Mr Smibert in thinking that the founders 
of these clans were to a large extent of Irish 
extraction, though clearly distinguishable from 
the primitive or Dalriadic Scots, and that from 
the time of the Scottish conquest they formed 
intimate relationships with the Northern Picts. 
" From whatever race," to quote the judicious 
remarks of Mr Gregory, " whether Pictish or 
Scottish, the inhabitants of the Isles, in the 
reign of Kenneth MacAlpin, were derived, it 
is clear that the settlements and wars of the 
Scandinavians in the Hebrides, from the time 
of Harald Harfager to that of Olave the Red, 
a period of upwards of two centuries, must 
have produced a very considerable change in 
the population. As in all cases of conquest, 
this change must have been most perceptible 
in the higher ranks, owing to the natural ten 
dency of invaders to secure their new posses 
sions, where practicable, by matrimonial al 
liances with the natives. That in the Hebrides 



a mixture of the Celtic and Scandinavian blood 
was thus effected at an early period seems 
highly probable, and by no means inconsistent 
with the ultimate prevalence of the Celtic lan 
guage in the mixed race, as all history suffi 
ciently demonstrates. These remarks regarding 
the population of the Isles apply equally to 
that of the adjacent mainland districts, which, 
being so accessible by numerous arms of the 
sea, could hardly be expected to preserve the 
blood of their inhabitants unmixed. The 
extent to which this mixture was carried is a 
more difficult question, and one which must 
be left in a great measure to conjecture ; but, 
on the whole, the Celtic race appears to have 
predominated. It is of more importance to 
know which of the Scandinavian tribes it was 
that infused the greatest portion of northern 
blood into the population of the Isles. The 
Irish annalists divide 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 DubhgaU, or black foreigners. These are 
believed to represent, the former the Nor 
wegians,, the latter the Danes ; and the dis 
tinction 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 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 Fhiongall, or King of the Fiongall, so 
frequently applied to the Lords of the Isles, 
seems to prove that Olave the Eed, 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 Avere not Celtic, 
were Fiongall or Norwegians. It has been re 
marked by one writer, whose opinion is entitled 
to weight, 5 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 corre 
sponding names in the interior Hebrides are 

8 .lialmers Caledonia, vol. i. p. 2C(3. 

in a different dialect, resembling that of which 
the traces are to be found in the topography 
of Sutherland; and appear to have been im 
posed 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 Scandinavian population of the He 
brides was, therefore, derived from two succes 
sive Norwegian colonies. This view is furthe v 
confirmed by the fact that the Hebrides, 
although long subject to Norway, do not 
appear to have ever formed part of the posses 
sions of the Danes." 6 

As by far the most important, and at one 
time most extensive and powerful, of these 
western clans, is that of the Macdonalds, and 
as this, as well as many other clans, according 
to some authorities, can clearly trace their 
ancestry back to Somerled, the progenitor of 
the once powerful Lords of the Isles, it may 
not be out of place to give here a short sum 
mary of the history of these magnates. 

The origin of Somerled, the undoubted 
founder of the noble race of the Island Lords, 
is, according to Mr Gregory, involved in con 
siderable obscurity. Assuming that the clan 
governed by Somerled formed part of the great 
tribe of Gallgael, it follows that the inde 
pendent kings of the latter must in all pro 
bability have been his ancestors, and should 
therefore be found in the old genealogies of his 
family. But this scarcely appears to be the 
case. The last king of the Gallgael was 
Suibne, the son of Kenneth, who died in the 
year 1034 ; and, according to the manuscript 
of 1450, an ancestor of Somerled, contemporary 
with this petty monarch, bore the same name, 
from which it may be presumed that the person 
referred to in the genealogy and the manuscript 
is one and the same individual. 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 a Kenneth, 
whom they call Thane of the Isles, and that one 
of the northern mormaors also bore the same 
name, although it is not very easy to say what 

6 Western Highlands, p. 7. 



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 genealogies, as compared with 
the manuscript ; and besides, the latter, with 
out making any mention of these supposed 
kings, deviates into the misty region of Irish 
heroic fable and romance. At this point, in 
deed, there is a complete divergence, if not 
contrariety, between the history as contained in 
the Irish Annals, and the genealogy developed 
in the manuscript ; for, whilst the latter men 
tions the Gallgael 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 Sennachies now became connected 
with the genuine history. The real descent of 
the chiefs was obscured or perplexed by the 
Irish genealogies, and previously to the eleventh 
century neither these genealogies nor even that 
of the manuscript of 1450 can be considered 
as of any authority whatsoever. It seems 
somewhat rash, however, to conclude, as Mr 
Skene has done, that the Siol-Cuinn, or de 
scendants of Conn, were of native origin. This 
exceeds the warrant of the premises, which 
merely carry the difficulty a few removes 
backwards into the obscurity of time, and 
there leave the question in greater darkness 
than ever. 

From the death of Suibne till the acces 
sion of Gillebride Mac Gille Adomnan, the 
father of Someiied, nothing whatever is known 
of the history of the clan. The latter, having 
been expelled from his possessions by the 
Lochlans and the Fingalls, took refuge in 
Ireland, where he persuaded the descendants 
of Colla to espouse his quarrel and assist him 
in an attempt to recover his possessions. Ac 
cordingly, four or five hundred persons put 
themselves under his command, and at their 
head he returned to Alban, where he effected 
a landing; but the expedition, it would seem, 
proved unsuccessful. Somerled, the son of 
Gillebride, was, however, a man of a very 
different stamp. At first he lived retired, 
musing in solitude upon the ruined fortunes 
of his house. But when the time for action 
arrived, he boldly put himself at the head of 
the inhabitants of Morven ; attacked the Nor 

wegians, whom, after a considerable struggle, 
he expelled; made himself master of the whole 
of Morven, Lochaber, and northern Argyle ; 
and not long afterwards added to his other 
possessions the southern districts of that 
country. In the year 1135, when David I. 
expelled the Norwegians from Man, Arran, 
and Bute, Somerled appears to have obtained 
a grant of those Islands from the king. But 
finding himself still unable to contend with 
the Norwegians of the Isles, whose power re 
mained 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 1 140) the hand of Eagnhildis, 
the daughter of Olaf, surnamed the Eed, who 
Avas then the Norwegian king of the Isles. 
This lady brought him three sons, namely, 
Dugall, Eeginald, and Angus ; and, by a pre 
vious marriage, he had one named Gillecallum. 
The prosperous fortunes of Somerled at length 
inflamed his ambition. He had already attained 
to great power in the Highlands, and success 
inspired him with the desire of extending it. 
His grandsons having formerly claimed the 
earldom of Moray, their pretensions were now- 
renewed, and this was followed by an attempt 
to put them in actual possession of their 
alleged inheritance. The attempt, however, 
failed. It had brought the regulus of Argyll 
into open rebellion against the king, and the 
war appears to have excited great alarm 
amongst the inhabitants of Scotland ; but 
Somerled, having encountered a more vigorous 
opposition than he had anticipated, found it 
necessary to return to the Isles, where the 
tyrannical conduct of his brother-in-law, God- 
red, had irritated his vassals and thrown 
everything into confusion. His presence gave 
confidence to the party opposed to the tyrant, 
and Thorfinn, one of the most powerful of the 
Norwegian nobles, resolved to depose Godred, 
and place another prince on the throne of the 
Isles. Someiied readily entered into the views 
of Thorfinn, and it was arranged that Dugall, 
the eldest son of the former, should occupy the 
throne from which his maternal uncle was to 
be displaced. But the result of the projected 
deposition did not answer the expectations of 
either party. Dugall was committed to the 
care of Thorfinn, who undertook to conduct 



him through the Isles, and compel the chiefs 
not only to acknowledge him as their sovereign, 
but also to give hostages for their fidelity and 
allegiance. The Lord of Skye, however, re 
fused to comply with this demand, and, having 
fled to the Isle of Man, apprised Godred of the 
intended revolution. Somerled followed with 
eight galleys; and Godred having commanded 
his ships to be got ready, a bloody but inde 
cisive battle ensued. It was fought on the 
night of the Epiphany; and as neither party 
prevailed, the rival chiefs next morning entered 
into a sort of compromise or convention, by which 
the sovereignty of the Isles was divided, and 
two distinct principalities established. By this 
treaty Somerled acquired all the islands lying 
to the southward of the promontory of Ardna- 
murchan, whilst those to the northward re 
mained in the possession of Godred. 

But no sooner had he made this acquisition 
than he became involved in hostilities with the 
government. Having joined the powerful party 
in Scotland, which had resolved to depose 
Malcolm IV., and place the boy of Egremont 
on the throne, he began to infest various parts 
of the coast, and for some time carried on a 
vexatious predatory warfare. The project, 
however, failed; and Malcolm, convinced that 
the existence of an independent chief was in 
compatible with the interests of his government 
and the maintenance of public tranquillity, re 
quired of Somerled to resign his lands into the 
hands of the sovereign, and to hold them in 
future as a vassal of the crown. Somerled, 
however, was little disposed to comply with 
this demand, although the king was now pre 
paring to enforce it by means of a powerful 
army. Emboldened by his previous successes, 
he resolved to anticipate the attack, and having 
appeared in the Clyde with a considerable 
force, he landed at Renfrew, where being met 
by the royal army under the command of the 
High Steward of Scotland, a battle ensued 
which ended in his defeat and death (1164). 
This celebrated chief has been traditionally 
described as " a well-tempered man, in body 
shapely, of a fair piercing eye, of middle 
stature, and of quick discernment." He ap 
pears, indeed, to have been equally brave and 
sagacious, tempering courage with prudence, 
and, excepting in the last act of his life, dis 

tinguished for the happy talent, rare at any 
period, of profiting by circumstances, and 
making the most of success. In the battle of 
Renfrew his son Gillecallum perished by his 
side. Tradition says that Gillecallum left a 
son Somerled, who succeeded to his grand 
father s possessions in the mainland, which he 
held for upwards of half a century after the 
latter s death. The existence of this second 
Somerled, however, seems very doubtful al 
though Mr Gregory believes that, besides the 
three sons of his marriage with Olave the 
Red, Somerled had other sons, who seem to 
have shared with their brothers, according to 
the then prevalent custom of gavelkind, the 
mainland possessions held by the Lord of Argyle ; 
whilst the sons descended of the House of 
Moray divided amongst them the South Isles 
ceded by Godred in 1156. Dugall, the eldest 
of these, got for his share, Mull, Coll, Tiree, 
and Jura ; Reginald, the second son, obtained 
Isla and Kintyre ; and Angus, the third son, 
Bute. Arran is supposed to have been divided 
between the two latter. The Chronicle of Man 
mentions a battle, in 1192, between Reginald 
and Angus, in which the latter obtained the 
victory. He was killed, in 1210, with his 
three sons, by the men of Skye, leaving no 
male issue. One of his sons, James, left a 
daughter and heiress, Jane, afterwards married 
to Alexander, son and heir of Walter, High 
Steward of Scotland, who, in her right, claimed 
the isle of Bute. 

Dugall, the eldest son of his father by the 
second marriage, seems to have possessed not 
only a share of the Isles, but also the district 
of Lorn, which had been allotted as his share 
of the territories belonging to his ancestors. 
On his death, however, the Isles, instead of 
descending immediately to his children, were 
acquired by his brother Reginald, who in con 
sequence assumed the title of King of the Isles ; 
but, by the same law of succession, the death 
of Reginald restored to his nephews the in 
heritance of their father. Dugall left two 
sons, Dugall Scrag and Duncan, who appear 
in the northern Sagas, under the title of the 
j Sudereyan Kings. They appear to have ac 
knowledged, at least nominally, the authority 
of the Norwegian king of the Hebrides ; but 
actually they maintained an almost entire in- 



dependence. Haco, the king of Norway, 
therefore came to the determination of re 
ducing them to obedience and subjection, a 
design in which he proved completely success- 
fid. In a night attack the Norwegians defeated 
the Sudereyans, and took Dugall prisoner. 

Duncan was now the only member of his 
family who retained any power in the Sude- 
reys; but nothing is known of his subsequent 
history except that he founded the priory of 
Ardchattan, in Lorn. He was succeeded by 
his son Ewen, who appears to have remained 
more faithful to the Norwegian kings than his 
predecessors had shown themselves; for, when 
solicited by Alexander II. to join him in an 
attempt he meditated to obtain possession of 
the Western Isles, Ewen resisted all the pro 
mises and entreaties of the king, and on this 
occasion preserved inviolate his allegiance to 
Haco. Alexander, it is well known, died in 
Kerreray (1249), when about to commence an 
attack upon the Isles, and was succeeded by 
his son Alexander III. When the latter had 
attained majority, he resolved to renew the 
attempt which his father had begun, and with 
this view excited the Earl of Ross, whose pos 
sessions extended along the mainland opposite 
to the Northern Isles, to commence hostilities 
against them. The earl willingly engaged in 
the enterprise, and having landed in Skye, 
ravaged the country, burned churches and 
villages, and put to death numbers of the 
inhabitants without distinction of age or sex. 
Haco soon appeared with a Norwegian force, 
and was joined by most of the Highland chiefs. 
But Ewen having altered his views, excused 
himself from taking any part against the force 
sent by the Scottish king; and the unfortunate 
termination of Haco s expedition justified the 
prudence of this timely change. In the year 
1263 the Norwegians were completely defeated 
by the Scots at the battle of Largs ; and the 
Isles were, in consequence of this event, finally 
ceded to the kings of Scotland. This event, 
however, rather increased than diminished the 
power of Ewen, who profited by his seasonable 
defection from the Norwegians, and was 
favoured by the government to which that 
defection had been useful. But he died with 
out any male issue to succeed him, leaving only 
two daughters, one of whom married the Nor 

wegian king of Man, and the other, Alexander 
of the Isles, a descendant of Reginald. 

The conquest and partition of Argyle by 
Alexander II., and the subsequent annexation 
of the Western Islands to the kingdom of 
Scotland, under the reign of his successor, 
annihilated the power of the race of Conn as 
an independent tribe ; and, from the failure of 
the male descendants of Dugall in the person 
of Ewen, had the effect of dividing the clan 
into three distinct branches, the heads of which 
held their lands of the crown. These were the 
clan Ruari or Rory, the elan Donald, and the 
clan Dugall, so called from three sons of Ranald 
or Reginald, the son of Somerled by Ragn- 
hildis, daughter of Olave. 

Of this Ranald or Reginald, but little com 
paratively is known. According to the High 
land custom of gavel, Somerled s property was 
divided amongst all his sons ; and in this 
division the portion which fell to the share of 
Reginald appears to have consisted of the island 
of Islay, with Kintyre, and part of Lorn on the 
mainland. Contemporary with Reginald there 
was a Norwegian king of Man and the Isles, 
who, being called by the same name, is liable 
to be confounded with the head of the Siol 
Conn. Reginald, after the death of his brother 
Dugall, was designated as Lord, and sometimes 
even as King, of the Isles ; 7 and he had like 
wise the title of Lord of Argyle and Kintyre, 
in which last capacity he granted certain lands 
to an abbey that had been founded by himself 
at Saddel in Kintyre. But these titles did not I 
descend to his children. He was succeeded by 
his eldest son Roderick, 8 who, on the conquest 
of Argyle, agreed to hold his lands of Rory, or 
the crown, and afterwards was commonly styled 

7 " Both Dugall and Reginald were called Kings of 
the Isles at the same time that Reginald, the son of 
Godred the Black, was styled King of Man and the 
Isles ; and in the next generation we find mention of 
these kings of the Isles of the race of Somerled exist 
ing at one time." The word king with the Norwegians 
therefore corresponds to Magnate. Gregory, 17. 

8 " The seniority of Roderick, son of Reginald, has 
not been universally admitted, some authors making 
Donald the elder by birth. But the point is of little 
moment, seeing that the direct and legitimate line of 
Roderick, who, with his immediate progeny, held a 
large portion of the Isles, terminated in a female in 
the third generation, when the succession of the house 
of Somerled fell indisputably to the descendants of 
Donald, second grandson of Somerled, and head of the 
entire and potent clan of the Macdonalds." Smibert, 
p. 20. 



Lord of Kintyre. In this Roderick the blood 
of the Norwegian rovers seems to have revived 
in all its pristine purity. Preferring "the good 
old way, the simple plan" to more peaceful and 
honest pursuits, he became one of the most 
noted pirates of his day, and the annals of the 
period are filled with accounts of his predatory 
expeditions. But his sons, Dugall and Allan, 
had the grace not to follow the vocation of 
their father, for which they do not seem to 
have evinced any predilection. Dugall having 
given important aid to Haco in his expedition 
against the Western Isles, obtained in conse 
quence a considerable increase of territory, and 
died without descendants. Allan succeeded to 
the possessions of this branch of the race of 
Conn, and, upon the annexation of the Isles 
to the crown of Scotland, transferred his alle 
giance to Alexander III., along with the other 
chiefs of the Hebrides. 9 

Allan left one son, Roderick, of whom almost 
nothing is known, except that he was not con 
sidered as legitimate by the feudal law, and in 
consequence was succeeded in his lordship of 
Garmoran by his daughter Christina. Yet the 
custom or law of the Highlands, according to 
which his legitimacy could moult no feather, 
had still sufficient force amongst the people to 
induce the daughter to legalise her father s 
possession of the lands by a formal resignation 
and reconveyance; a circumstance which shows 
how deeply it had taken root in the habits and 
the opinions of the people. Roderick, how 
ever, incurred the penalty of forfeiture during 
the reign of Robert Bruce, " probably," as Mr 
Skene thinks, "from some connection with the 
Soulis conspiracy of 1320;" but his lands were 
restored to his son Ranald by David II. 
Ranald, however, did not long enjoy his ex 
tensive possessions. Holding of the Earl of 
Ross some lands in North Argyle, he unhappily 
became embroiled with that powerful chief, and 
a bitter feud, engendered by proximity, arose 
between them. In that age the spirit of hos 
tility seldom remained long inactive. In 1346, 
David II. having summoned the barons of 
Scotland to meet him at Perth, Ranald, like 

9 In the list of the Barons who assembled at Scone 
in 1284 to declare Margaret, the Maid of Norway, 
heiress to the crown, he appears under the name of 
Allangus filius Rodcrici. 

the others, obeyed the call, and having made 
his appearance, attended by a consideiable 
body of men, took up his quarters at the 
monastery of Elcho, a few miles distant from 
the Fair City. To the Earl of Ross, who was 
also with the army, this seemed a favourable 
opportunity for revenging himself on his enemy; 
and accordingly having surprised and entered 
the monastery in the middle of the night, he 
slew Ranald and seven of his followers. By 
the death of Ranald, the male descendants of 
Roderick became extinct ; and John of the 
Isles, the chief of the Clan Donald, who had 
married Amy, the only sister of Ranald, now 
claimed the succession to that principality. 


BADGE. ITeath. 

The Clan Donald derive their origin from a 
son of Reginald, who appears to have inherited 
South Kintyre, and the island of Islay; but 
little is known of their history until the an 
nexation of the Isles to the crown in the year 
1266. According to Highland tradition, Donald 
made a pilgrimage to Rome to do penance, and 
obtain absolution for the various enormities of 
his former life ; and, on his return, evinced his 
gratitude and piety by making grants of land 
to the monastery of Saddel, and other religious 
houses in Scotland. He was succeeded by his 
son, Angus Mor, who, on the arrival of Haco 
with his fleet, immediately joined the Nor 
wegian king, and assisted him during the 
whole of the expedition ; yet, when a treaty 
of peace was afterwards concluded between the 
kings of Norway and Scotland, he does not 
appear to have suffered in consequence of the 



part which he took in that enterprise. In the 
year 1284 he appeared at the convention, by 
which the Maid of Norway was declared heiress 
of the crown, and obtained as the price of his 
support on that occasion a grant of Ardna- 
murchan, a part of the earldom of Garmoran, 1 
and the confirmation of his father s and grand 
father s grants to the monastery of Saddel. 
Angus left two sons, Alexander and Angus 
Og (i.e , the younger). Alexander, by a mar 
riage with one of the daughters of Ewen of 
Ergadia, acquired a considerable addition to 
his possessions; but having joined the Lord of 
Lorn in his opposition to the claims of Robert 
Bruce, he became involved in the ruin of that 
chief; and being obliged to surrender to the 
king, he was imprisoned in Dundonald Castle, 
where he died. His whole possessions were 
forfeited, and given to his brother, Angus Og, 
who, having attached himself to the party of 
Bruce, and remained faithful in the hour of 
adversity, now received the reward of his 
fidelity and devotion. Angus assisted in 
the attack upon Carrick, when the king 
recovered " his father s hall ; " and he was 
present at Bannockburn, where, at the head of 
his clan, he formed the reserve, and did battle 
" stalwart and stout," on that never-to-be-for 
gotten day. Bruce, having at length reaped 
the reward of all his toils and dangers, and 
secured the independence of Scotland, was 
not unmindful of those who had participated 
in the struggle thus victoriously consummated. 
Accordingly, he bestowed upon Angus the 
lordship of Lochaber, which had belonged to 
the Comyns, together with the lands of Dur- 
rour and Glencoe, and the islands of Mull, 
Tyree, &c., which had formed part of the pos 
sessions of the family of Lorn. Prudence might 
have restrained the royal bounty. The familv 
of the Isles were already too powerful for sub 
jects ; but the king, secure of the attachment 
and fidelity of Angus, contented himself with 
making the permission to erect a castle or 
fort at Tarbat in Kintyre, a condition of the 
grants which he had made. This distinguished 
chief died early in the fourteenth century, 
leaving two sons, John his successor, and 

1 "The Lordship of Gartnoran (also called Garbh- 
chrioch) comprehends the districts of Moidart, Arisaig, 
Morar, and Knoydart." Gregory, p. 27. 


John Og, the ancestor of the Macdonalds of 

Angus, as we have already seen, had all his 
life been a steady friend to the crown, and had 
profited by his fidelity. But his son John does 
not seem to have inherited the loyalty along 
with the power, dignities, and possessions of 
his father. Having had some dispute with the 
Eegent concerning certain lands which had been 
granted by Bruce, he joined the party of Edward 
Baliol and the English king ; and, by a formal 
treaty concluded on the 12th of December 1335, 
and confirmed by Edward III. on the 5th October 
1336, engaged to support the pretensions of the 
former, in consideration of a grant of the lands 
and islands claimed by the Earl of Moray, be 
sides certain other advantages. But all the 
intrigues of Edward were baffled; Scotland was 
entirely freed from the dominion of the English ; 
and, in the year 1341, David II. was recalled 
from France to assume the undisputed sove 
reignty of his native country. Upon his 
accession to the throne, David, anxious to 
attach to his party the most powerful of the 
Scottish barons, concluded a treaty with John 
of the Isles, who, in consequence, pledged him 
self to support his government. But a circum 
stance soon afterwards occurred which threw 
him once more into the interest of Baliol and 
the English party. In 1346, Eanald of the 
Isles having been slain at Perth by the Earl of 
Ross, as already mentioned, John, who had 
married his sister Amy, immediately laid claim 
to the succession. The government, however, 
unwilling to aggrandise a chief already too 
powerful, determined to oppose indirectly his 
pretensions, and evade the recognition of his 
claim. It is unnecessary to detail the pretexts 
employed, or the obstacles which were raised 
by the government. Their effect was to restore 
to the party of Baliol one of its most powerful 
adherents, and to enable John in the mean 
while to concentrate in his own person nearly 
all the possessions of his ancestor Somerled. 

But ere long a most remarkable change 
took place in the character and position of 
the different parties or factions, which at 
that time divided Scotland. The king of 
Scotland IIOAV appeared in the extraordinary 
and unnatural character of a mere tool 
or partisan of Edward, and even seconded 




covertly the endeavours of the English king to 
overturn the independence of Scotland. Its 
effect was to throw into active opposition the 
party which had hitherto supported the throne 
and the cause of independence ; and, on the 
other hand, to secure to the enemies of both 
the favour and countenance of the king. But 
as soon as by this interchange the English 
party became identified with the royal faction, 
John of the Isles abandoned it, and formed a 
connection with that party to which he had for 
many years been openly opposed. At the head 
of the national party was the Steward of Scot 
land, who, being desirous of strengthening 
himself by alliances with the more powerful 
barons, hailed the accession of John to his in 
terests as an extraordinary piece of good fortune, 
and cemented their union by giving to the Lord 
of the Isles his own daughter in marriage. The 
real aim of this policy was not for a moment 
misunderstood; but any open manifestation of 
force was at first cautiously avoided. At 
length, in 1366, when the heavy burdens 
imposed upon the people to raise the ransom 
of the king had produced general discontent, 
and David s jealousy of the Steward had dis 
played itself by throwing into prison the 
acknowledged successor to the throne, the 
northern barons broke out into open rebellion, 
and refused either to pay the tax imposed, or 
to obey the king s summons to attend the par 

In this state matters remained for some time, 
when David applied to the Steward, as the only 
person capable of restoring peace to the country, 
and, at the same time, commissioned him to put 
down the rebellion. The latter, satisfied that 
his objects would be more effectually forwarded 
by steady opposition to the court than by 
avowedly taking part with the insurgents, 
accepted the commission, and employed every 
means in his power to reduce the refractory 
barons to obedience. His efforts, however, 
were only partially successful. The Earls of 
Mar and Eoss, and other northern barons, 
whose object was now attained, at once laid 
down their arms ; John of Lorn and Gillespie 
Campbell likewise gave in their submission ; 
but the Lord of the Isles, secure in the dis 
tance and inaccessible nature of his territories, 
refused to yield, and,, in fact, set the royal 

power at defiance. The course of events, 
however, soon enabled David to bring this 
refractory subject to terms. Edward, finding 
that France required his undivided attention, 
was not in a condition to prosecute his am 
bitious projects against Scotland; a peace was 
accordingly concluded between the rival coun 
tries ; and David thus found himself at liberty 
to turn his whole force against the Isles. With 
this view he commanded the attendance of the 
Steward and other barons of the realm, and 
resolved to proceed in person against the re 
bels. But the Steward, perceiving that the 
continuance of the rebellion might prove fatal 
to his party, prevailed with his son-in-law to 
meet the king at Inverness, where an agree 
ment was entered into, by which the Lord of 
the Isles not only engaged to submit to the 
royal authority, and pay his share of all public 
burdens, but further promised to put down all 
others Avho should attempt to resist either ; 
and, besides his own oath, he gave hostages to 
the king for the fulfilment of this obligation. 
The accession of Robert Steward or Stewart to 
the throne of Scotland, which took place in 
1371, shortly after this act of submission, brought 
the Lord of the Isles into close connection 
with the court ; and during the whole of this 
reign he remained in as perfect tranquillity, 
and gave as loyal support to the government 
as his father Angus had done under that of 
King Robert Bruce. 2 In those barbarous and 
unsettled times, the government was not always 
in a condition to reduce its refractory vassals 
by force ; and, from the frequent changes and 
revolutions to which it was exposed, joined to 
its general weakness, the penalty of forfeiture 
was but little dreaded. Its true policy, there 
fore, was to endeavour to bind to its interests, 
by the ties of friendship and alliance, those 
turbulent chiefs whom it was always difficult 
and often impossible to reduce to obedience 
by the means commonly employed for that 

The advice which King Robert Bruce had 
left for the guidance of his successors, in regard 
to the Lords of the Isles, was certainly dictated 

2 The properties of Moidart, Arisaig, Morar, and 
Knoidart, on the mainland, and the isles of Uist, 
Barra, Rum, Egg, and Harris, were assigned and con 
firmed to him and his heirs by charter dated at Scone 
March 9, 1371-2. 



by sound political wisdom. He foresaw the 
danger which would result to the crown were 
the extensive territories and consequent in 
fluence of these insular chiefs ever again to be 
concentrated in the person of one individual ; 
and he earnestly recommended to those who 
should come after him never, under any cir 
cumstances, to permit or to sanction such 
aggrandisement. But, in the present instance, 
the claims of John were too great to be over 
looked ; and though Robert Stewart could 
scarcely have been insensible of the eventual 
danger which might result from disregarding 
the admonition of Bruce, yet he had not been 
more than a year on the throne when he 
granted to his son-in-law a feudal title to all 
those lands which had formerly belonged to 
Eanald the son of Roderick, and thus conferred 
on him a boon which had often been demanded 
in vain by his predecessors. King Robert, 
however, since he could not with propriety 
obstruct the accumulation of so much property 
in one house, attempted to sow the seeds of 
future discord by bringing about a division of 
the property amongst the different branches of 
the family. With this view he persuaded 
John, who had been twice married, not only 
to gavel the lands amongst his offspring, which 
was the usual practice of his family, but also 
to render the children of both marriages 
feudally independent of one another. Ac 
cordingly King Robert, in the third year of 
his reign, confirmed a charter granted by John 
to Reginald, the second son of the first mar 
riage, by which the lands of Garmoran, form 
ing the dowry of Reginald s mother, were to 
be held of John s heirs ; that is, of the 
descendants of the eldest son of the first mar 
riage, who would, of course, succeed to all his 
possessions that had not been feudally destined 
or devised to other parties. Nor was this all. 
A short time afterwards John resigned into 
the king s hands nearly the whole of the 
western portion of his territories, and received 
from Robert charters of these lands in favour 
of himself and the issue of his marriage with 
the king s daughter ; so that the children of 
the second marriage were rendered feudally 
independent of those of the first, and the seeds 
of future discord and contention effectually 
sown between them. After this period little 

is known of the history of John, who is sup 
posed to have died about the year 1380. 

During the remainder of this king s reign, 
and the greater part of that of his successor, 
Robert III., no collision seems to have taken 
place between the insular chiefs and the general 
government ; and hence little or nothingis known 
of their proceedings. But when the dissensions 
of the Scottish barons, occasioned by the mar 
riage of the Duke of Rothesay, and the subse 
quent departure of the Earl of March to the 
English court, led to a renewal of the wars be 
tween the two countries, and the invasion of 
Scotland by an English army, the insular chiefs 
appear to have renewed their intercourse with 
England; being more swayed by considerations 
of interest or policy, than by the ties of rela 
tionship to the royal family of Scotland. At 
this time the clan was divided into two 
branches, the heads of which seemed to have 
possessed co-ordinate rank and authority. 
Godfrey, the eldest surviving son of the first 
marriage, ruled on the mainland, as lord of 
Garmoran and Lochaber ; Donald, the eldest 
son of the second marriage, held a considerable 
territory of the crown, then known as the feu 
dal lordship of the Isles ; whilst the younger 
brothers, having received the provisions usually 
allotted by the law of gavel, held these as vas 
sals either of Godfrey or of Donald. This 
temporary equipoise was, however, soon dis 
turbed by the marriage of Donald with Mary, 
the sister of Alexander Earl of Ross, in conse 
quence of which alliance he ultimately sue 
ceeded in obtaining possession of the earldom. 
Euphemia, only child of Alexander, Earl of 
Ross, entered a convent and became a nun, 
having previously committed the charge of the 
earldom to her grandfather, Albany. Donald, 
however, lost no time in preferring his claim to 
the succession in right of his wife, the conse- 
sequences of which have already been narrated 
in detail. 3 Donald, with a considerable force, 
invaded Ross, and met with little or no resist 
ance from the people till he reached Dingwall, 
where he was encountered by Angus Dhu Mac- 
kay, at the head of a considerable body of men 
from Sutherland, whom, after a fierce conflict, 
he completely defeated and made their leader 

3 For details, see vol. i., p. 69, et seq. 



prisoner. Leaving the district of Ross, which 
now acknowledged his authority, he advanced 
at the head of his army, through Moray, 
and penetrated into A berdeenshire. Here, 
however, a decisive check awaited him. On 
the 24th of July, 1411, he was met at the 
village of Harlaw by the Earl of Mar, at 
the head of an army inferior in numbers, but 
composed of better materials ; and a battle 
ensued, upon the event of which seemed to 
depend the decision of the question, whether 
the Celtic or the Sassenach part of the popula 
tion of Scotland were in future to possess the 
supremacy. The immediate issue of the con 
flict was doubtful, and, as is usual in such 
cases, both parties claimed the victory. But 
the superior numbers and irregular valour of 
the Highland followers of Donald had received 
a severe check from the steady discipline and 
more effective arms of the Lowland gentry ; 
they had been too roughly handled to think of 
renewing the combat, for which their opponents 
seem to have been quite prepared ; and, as in 
such circumstances a drawn battle was equi 
valent to a defeat, Donald was compelled, as 
the Americans say, " to advance backwards." 
The Duke of Albany, having obtained rein 
forcements, marched in person to Dingwall ; 
but Donald, having no desire to try again the 
fate of arms, retired with his followers to the 
Isles, leaving Albany in possession of the 
whole of Ross, where he remained during the 
winter. Next summer the war was renewed, 
and carried on with various success, until at 
length the insular chief found it necessary to 
come to terms with the duke, and a treaty was 
concluded by which Donald agreed to abandon 
his claim to the earldom of Ross, and to become 
a vassal of the crown of Scotland. 

The vigour of Albany restored peace to the 
kingdom, and the remainder of his regency was 
not disturbed by any hostile attempt upon the 
part of Donald of the Isles. But when the 
revenge of James I. had consummated the ruin 
of the family of Albany, Alexander, the son of 
Donald, succeeded, without any opposition, to 
the earldom of Ross, and thus realised one 
grand object of his father s ambition. At 
almost any other period the acquisition of 
such extensive territories would have given a 
decided and dangerous preponderance to the 

family of the Isles. The government of Scot 
land, however, was then in the hands of a man 
who, by his ability, energy, and courage, 
proved himself fully competent to control his 
turbulent nobles, and, if necessary, to destroy 
their power and influence. Distrustful, how 
ever, of his ability to reduce the northern 
barons to obedience by force of arms, he had 
recourse to stratagem ; and having summoned 
them to attend a parliament at Inverness, 
whither he proceeded, attended by his prin 
cipal nobility and a considerable body of 
troops, he there caused forty of them to be 
arrested as soon as they made their appear 
ance. Alexander, Earl of Ross and Lord 
of the Isles, his mother the Countess of 
Ross, and Alexander MacGodfrey, of Gar- 
moran, were amongst the number of those 
arrested on this occasion. Along with several 
others, MacGodfrey was immediately executed, 
and his whole possessions forfeited to the crown, 
and the remainder were detained in captivity. 
By this bold stroke, James conceived that 
he had effectually subdued the Highland 
chiefs \ and, under this impression, he soon 
afterwards liberated Alexander of the Isles. 
But he seems to have forgotten that " vows 
made in pain," or at least in durance, " are 
violent and void." The submission of the 
captive was merely feigned. As soon as he 
had recovered his liberty, the Lord of the 
Isles flew to arms, Avith what disastrous re 
sults to himself has already been told. 4 So 
vigorously did the king s officers follow up the 
victory, that the insular chief, finding con 
cealment or escape equally impossible, was 
compelled to throw himself upon the royal 
clemency. He went to Edinburgh, and, on the 
occasion of a solemn festival celebrated in the 
chapel of Holyrood, on Easter Sunday 1429, the 
unfortunate chief, whose ancestors had treated 
with the crown on the footing of independent 
princes, appeared before the assembled court in 
his shirt and drawers, and implored on his 
knees, with a naked sword held by the point 
in his hand, the forgiveness of his offended 
monarch. Satisfied with this extraordinary 
act of humiliation, James granted the sup 
pliant his life, and directed him to be forth 
with imprisoned in Tantallon castle. 
4 See vol. i. p. 73. 



The spirit of clanship could not brook such 
a mortal affront. The cry for vengeance was 
raised ; the strength of the clan was mustered ; 
and Alexander had scarcely been two years in 
captivity when the Isles once more broke out 
into open insurrection. Under the command 
of Donald Balloch, the cousin of Alexander 
and chief of clan Ranald, the Islanders burst 
into Lochaber, where, having encountered an 
army which had been stationed in that country 
for the purpose of overawing the Highlanders, 
they gained a complete victory. The king s 
troops were commanded by the Earls of Mar 
and Caithness, the latter of whom fell in the 
action, whilst the former saved with difficulty 
the remains of the discomfited force. Donald 
Balloch, however, did not follow up his victory, 
but having ravaged the adjacent districts, with 
drew first to the Isles, and afterwards to Ireland. 
In this emergency James displayed his usual 
energy and activity. To repair the reverse 
sustained by his lieutenants, he proceeded in 
person to the North ; his expedition was at 
tended with complete success; and he soon 
received the submission of all the chiefs who 
had been engaged in the rebellion. Not long 
afterwards he was presented with what was 
believed to be the head of Donald Balloch ; 
" but," says Mr Gregory, " as Donald Balloch 
certainly survived king James many years, it is 
obvious that the sending of the head to Edin 
burgh was a stratagem devised by the crafty 
islander, in order to check further pursuit." 
The king, being thus successful, listened to the 
voice of clemency. He restored to liberty the 
prisoner of Tantallon, granted him a free par 
don for his various acts of rebellion, confirmed 
to him all his titles and possessions, and further 
conferred upon him the lordship of Lochaber, 
which, on its forfeiture, had been given to the 
Earl of Mar. The wisdom of this proceeding 
soon became apparent. Alexander could 
scarcely forget the humiliation he had un 
dergone, and the imprisonment he had en 
dured ; and, in point of fact, he appears to 
have joined the Earls of Crawford and 
Douglas, who at that time headed the oppo 
sition to the court ; but during the remainder 
of his life the peace of the country was not 
again disturbed by any rebellious proceedings 
on his part, and thus far the king reaped the 

reward of his clemency. Alexander died ubout 
1447, leaving three sons, John, Hugh, and 

The opposition of Crawford, Douglas, and 
their associates had hitherto been chronic ; 
but, on the death of Alexander, it broke out 
into active insurrection ; and the new Lord of 
the Isles, as determined an opponent of the 
royal party as his father had been, seized the 
royal castles of Inverness, Urquhart, and 
Ruthven in Badenoch, at the same time de 
claring himself independent. In thus raising 
the standard of rebellion, John of the Isles 
was secretly supported by the Earl of Douglas, 
and openly by the barons, who were attached 
to his party. But a series of fatalities soon 
extinguished this insurrection. Douglas was 
murdered in Edinburgh Castle; Crawford was 
entirely defeated by Huntly ; and John, by the 
rebellion of his son Angus, was doomed to 
experience, in his own territories, the same 
opposition which he had himself offered to the 
general government. Submission was, there 
fore, inevitable. Having for several years 
maintained a species of independence, he was 
compelled to resign his lands into the hands 
of the king, and to consent to hold them as a 
vassal of the crown. This, however, was but 
a trifling matter compared with the rebellion 
of his son, which, fomented probably by the 
court, proved eventually the ruin of the prin 
cipality of the Isles, after it had existed so 
long in a state of partial independence. 
Various circumstances are stated as having 
given rise to this "extraordinary contest, al 
though in none of these, probably, is the true 
cause to be found. It appears, however, that 
Angus Og, 5 having been appointed his father s 

8 " The authority of Mr Skene is usually to be re 
ceived as of no common weight, but the account 
given by him of this portion of the Macdonald 
annals does not consist with unquestionable facts. 
As such, the statements in the national collections of 
Foedera (Treaties), and the Records of Parliament, 
ought certainly to be regarded ; and a preference 
must be given to their testimony over the counter- 
assertions of ancient private annalists. Some of the 
latter parties seern to assert that John II., who had 
no children by Elizabeth Livingston (daughter of 
Lord Livingston), had yet "a natural son begotten of 
Macduffie of Colonsay s daughter, and Angus Og, his 
legitimate son, by the Earl of Angus s daughter." 
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 



lieutenant and representative in all his posses 
sions, took advantage of the station or office 
which was thus conferred on him, deprived 
his father of all authority, and got himself 
declared Lord of the Isles. How this was 
effected we know not; bit scarcely had he 
attained the object of his ambition, when 
he resolved to take signal vengeance upon 
the Earl of Athole, an inveterate enemy of his 
house, and, at the same time, to declare him 
self altogether independent of the crown. 
With this view, having collected a numerous 
army, he suddenly appeared before the castle 
of Inverness, and having been admitted by the 
governor, who had no suspicion whatever of 
his design, immediately proclaimed himself 
king of the Isles. He then invaded the 
district of Athole ; stormed and took Blair 
Castle; and having seized the earl and coun 
tess, carried them prisoners to Islay. The 
reason given by Mr Gregory for Angus s 
enmity against the Earl and Countess of 
Athole is, that the former having crossed over 
privately to Islay, carried off the infant son of 
Angus, called Donald Dabh, or the Black, and 
committed him to the care of Argyle, his 
maternal grandfather, who placed him in the 
Castle of Inchconnely, where he was detained 
for many years. Mr Gregory places this event 
after the Battle of Bloody Bay. On his re 
turn to the Isles with the booty he had 
obtained, the marauder was overtaken by a 
violent tempest, in which the greater part of 
his galleys foundered. Heaven seemed to de 
clare against the spoiler, who had added sacri 
lege to rapine by plundering and attempting 
to burn the chapel of St Bridget in Athole. 
Stricken with remorse for the crime he had 
committed, he released the earl and countess, 
and then sought to expiate his guilt by doing 

Isles, Elizabeth Livingston, was certainly alive in 
1475, at which date he, among other charges, is 
accused of making " his bastard sou " a lieutenant to 
him in " insurrectionary convocations of the lieges ;" 
and Angus could therefore come of no second mar 
riage. 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. " Smibert s 
Clans pp. 23, 24. 

penance on the spot where it had been in 

Asa proof of the sincerity of his repentance, 
this Angus Og next engaged in treason upon a 
larger scale. At the instigation of this hopeful 
son, his father, whom he had already deprived 
of all authority, now entered into a compact 
with the king of England and the Earl of 
Douglas, the object of which was nothing less 
than the entire subjugation of Scotland, and its 
partition amongst the contracting parties. By 
this treaty, which is dated the 18th of Feb 
ruary 1462, the Lord of the Isles agreed, on 
the payment of a stipulated sum, to become 
the sworn ally of the king of England, and to 
assist that monarch, with the whole body of 
his retainers, in the wars in Ireland and else 
where ; and it was further provided, that in 
the event of the entire subjugation of Scotland, 
the whole of that kingdom, to the north of the 
Firth of Forth, should be equally divided be 
tween Douglas, the Lord of the Isles, and 
Donald Balloch of Islay ; whilst, on the other 
hand, Douglas was to be reinstated in posses 
sion of those lands between the Forth and the 
English borders, from which he had, at this 
time, been excluded. Conquest, partition, and 
spoliation, were thus the objects contemplated 
in this extraordinary compact. Yet no pro 
ceeding appears to have been taken, in conse 
quence of the treaty, until the year 1473, 
when we find the Lord of the Isles again in 
arms against the government. He continued 
several years in open rebellion ; but having 
received little or no support from the other 
parties to the league, he was declared a traitor 
in a parliament held at Edinburgh in 1475, 
his estates were also confiscated, and the Earls 
of Crawford and Athole were directed to march 
against him at the head of a considerable force. 
The meditated blow was, however, averted by 
the timely interposition of his father, the 
Earl of Eoss. By a seasonable grant of the 
lands of Knapdale, he secured the influence 
of the Earl of Argyll, and through the 
mediation of that nobleman, received a re 
mission of his past offences, was reinstated in 
his hereditary possessions, which he had re 
signed into the hands of the crown, and created 
a peer of parliament, by the title of the Lord of 
the Isles. The earldom of Eoss, the lands of 



Knapdale, and the sheriffships of Inverness and 
Nairn were, however, retained by the crown, 
apparently as the price of the remission granted 
to this doubly unfortunate man. 

But Angus Og was no party to this arrange 
ment. He continued to defy the power of the 
government ; and when the Earl of Athole was 
sent to the north to reinstate the Earl of Ross 
in his remaininig possessions, he placed himself 
at the head of the clan, and prepared to give 
him battle. Athole was joined by the Mac- 
kenzies, Mackays, Erasers, and others ; bat 
being met by Angus at a place called Lage- 
bread, he was defeated with great slaughter, 
and escaped with great difficulty from the field. 
The Earls of Crawford and Huntly were then 
sent against this desperate rebel, the one by 
sea and the other by land; but neither of them 
prevailed against the victorious insurgent. A 
third expedition, under the Earls of Argyll and 
Athole, accompanied by the father of the rebel 
and several families of the Isles, produced no 
result ; and the two earls, who seem to have had 
little taste for an encounter with Angus, re 
turned without effecting anything. John the 
father, however, proceeded onwards through the 
Sound of Mull, accompanied by the Macleans, 
Macleods, Macneills, and others, and having 
encountered Angus in a bay on the south side 
of the promontory of Ardnamurchan, 6 a des 
perate combat ensued, in which Angus was 
again victorious, and his unfortunate parent 
overthrown. By the battle of the Bloody 
Bay, as it is called in the traditions of the 
country, Angus obtained possession of the ex 
tensive territories of his clan, and, as " when 
treason prospers tis no longer treason," was 
recognised as its head. Angus, some time 
before 1490, when marching to attack Mac 
kenzie of Kintail, was assassinated by an Irish 
harper. 7 

The rank of heir to the lordship of the 
Isles devolved on the nephew of John, Alex 
ander of Lochalsh, son of his brother, Celestine. 
Placing himself at the head of the vassals of 
the Isles, he endeavoured, it is said, with 
John s consent, to recover possession of the 
earldom of Ross, and in 1491, at the head of a 

6 Gregory (p. 52) says this combat was fought in a 
bay in the Isle of Mull, near Tobormory. 

7 See Gregory s Highlands, p. 54. 

large body of western Highlanders, he advanced 
from Lochaber into Badenoch, where lie was 
joined by the clan Chattan. They then marched 
to Inverness, where, after taking the royal 
castle, and placing a garrison in it, they pro- 
ceded to the north-east, and plundered the 
lands of Sir Alexander Urqulmrt, sheriff of 
Cromarty. They next hastened to Strath- 
connan, for the purpose of ravaging the lands 
of the Mackenzies. The latter, however, sur 
prised and routed the invaders, and expelled 
them from Ross, their leader, Alexander of 
Lochalsh, being wounded, and as some say, 
taken prisoner. In consequence of this in 
surrection, at a meeting of the Estates in 
Edinburgh in May 1493, the title and posses 
sions of the lord of the Isles were declared to 
be forfeited to the crown. In January follow 
ing the aged John appeared in the presence of 
the king, and made a voluntary surrender of 
his lordship, after which he appears to have 
remained for some time in the king s house 
hold, in the receipt of a pension. He finally 
retired to the monastery of Paisley, where he 
died about 1498; and was interred, at his own 
request, in the tomb of his royal ancestor, 
Robert IT. 8 

With the view of reducing the insular 
chiefs to subjection, and establishing the royal 
authority in the Islands, James IV., soon after 
the forfeiture in 1493, proceeded in person to 
the West Highlands, when Alexander of Loch 
alsh, the principal cause of the insurrection 
which had led to it, and John of Isla, grand 
son and representative of Donald Balloch, 
were among the first to make their submission. 
On this occasion they appear to have obtained 
royal charters of the lands they had previously 
held under the Lord of the Isles, and were both 
knighted. In the following year the king 
visited the Isles twice, and having seized and 
garrisoned the castle of Dunaverty in South 
Kintyre, Sir John of Isla, deeply resenting this 
proceeding, collected his followers, stormed the 
castle, and hung the governor from the Avail, in 
the sight of the king and his fleet. With four 
of his sons, he was soon after apprehended at 
Isla, by Maclan of Ardnamurchan, and being 
conveyed to Edinburgh, they were there exe 
cuted for high treason. 

8 Gregory, p. 581. 



In 1495 King James assembled an army at 
Glasgow, and on the 1 8th May, he was at the 
castle of Mingarry in Ardnamurchan, when 
several of the Highland chiefs made their 
submission to him. In 1497 Sir Alexander 
of Lochalsh again rebelled, and invading the 
more fertile districts of Eoss, was by the 
Mackenzies and Munroes, at a place called 
Drunichatt, again defeated and driven out of 
Eoss. Proceeding southward among the Isles, 
he endeavoured to rouse the Islanders to arms 
in his behalf, but without success. He wa 
surprised in the island of Oransay, by Maclan 
of Ardnamurchan, and put to death. 

In 1501, Donald Dubh, whom the islanders 
regarded as their rightful lord, and who, from 
his infancy, had been detained in confinement 
in the castle of Inchconnell, escaped from 
prison, and appeared among his clansmen. 
They had always maintained that he was the 
lawful son of Angus of the Isles, by his wife 
the Lady Margaret Campbell, daughter of the 
first Earl of Argyll, but his legitimacy was 
denied by the government when the islanders 
combined to assert by arms his claims as their 
hereditary chief. His liberation he owed to 
the gallantry and fidelity of the men of 
Glencoe. Eepairing to the isles of Lewis, 
he put himself under the protection of its lord, 
Torquil Macleod, who had married Katherine, 
another daughter of Argyll, and therefore sister 
of the lady whom the islanders believed to be 
his mother. A strong confederacy was formed 
in his favour, and about Christmas 1503 an 
irruption of the islanders and western clans, 
\mder Donald Dubh, was made into Badenoch, 
which was plundered and wasted with fire and 
sword. To put down this formidable rebellion, 
the array of the whole kingdom north of Forth 
and Clyde was called out ; and the Earls of 
Argyll, Huntly, Crawford, and Marischal, 
and Lord Lovat, with other powerful barons, 
were charged to lead this force against the 
islanders. But two years elapsed before the 
insurrection was finally quelled. In 1505 the 
Isles were again invaded from the south by the 
king in person, and from the north by Huntly, 
who took several prisoners, but none of them 
of any rank. In these various expeditions the 
fleet under the celebrated Sir Andrew Wood 
and Eobert Barton was employed against the 

islanders, and at length the insurgents were 
dispersed. Carniburg, a strong fort on a small 
isolated rock, near the west coast of Mull, in 
which they had taken refuge, was reduced ; 
the Macleans and the Macleods submitted to 
the king, and Donald Dubh, again made a pri 
soner, was committed to the castle of Edinburgh, 
where he remained for nearly forty years. 
After this the great power formerly enjoyed 
by the Lords of the Isles was transferred to the 
Earls of Argyll and Huntly, the former having 
the chief rule in the south isles and adjacent 
coasts, while the influence of the latter pre 
vailed in the north isles and Highlands. 

The children of Sir Alexander of Lochalsh, 
the nephew of John the fourth and last Lord of 
the Isles, had fallen into the hands of the king, 
and as they were all young, they appear to have 
been brought up in the royal household. 
Donald, the eldest son, called by the High 
landers, Donald Galda, or the foreigner, from 
his early residence in the Lowlands, was al 
lowed to inherit his father s estates, and was 
frequently permitted to visit the Isles. He was 
with James IV. at the battle of Flodden, and 
appears to have been knighted under the royal 
banner on that disastrous field. Two months 
after, in November 1513, he raised another in 
surrection in the Isles, and being joined by the 
Macleods and Macleans, was proclaimed Lord 
of the Isles. The numbers of his adherents 
daily increased. But in the course of 1515, 
the Earl of Argyll prevailed upon the insur 
gents to submit to the regent. At this time 
Sir Donald appeared frequently before the 
council, relying on a safe-conduct, and his re- 
onciliation to the regent (John, Duke of 
Albany) was apparently so cordial that on 
24th September 1516, a summons was de 
spatched to Monsieur de Ylis, to join the 
royal army, then about to proceed to the bor- 
lers. Ere long, however, he was again in open 
rebellion. Early in 1517 he razed the castle of 
Mingarry to the ground, and ravaged the whole 
district of Ardnamurchan with fire and sword. 
His chief leaders now deserted him, and some 
of them determined on delivering him up to 
the regent. He, however, effected his escape, 
jut his two brothers were made prisoners by 
Maclean of Dowart and Macleod of Dun- 
vegan, who hastened to make their sub- 



mission to the government. In the following 
year, Sir Donald was enabled to revenge the 
murder of his father on the Maclans of Ardna- 
murchan, having defeated and put to death 
their chief and two of his sons, with a great 
number of his men. He was about to be for 
feited for high treason, when his death, which 
took place a few weeks after his success against 
the Maclans, brought the rebellion, which had 
lasted for upwards of five years, to a sudden 
close. He was the last male of his family, and 
died without issue. 

In 1539, Donald Gorme of Sleat claimed the 
lordship of the Isles, as lawful heir male of 
John, Earl of Ross. With a considerable force 
he passed over into Ross- shire, where, after 
ravaging the district of Kinlochewe, he pro 
ceeded to Kintail, with the intention of sur 
prising the castle Eilandonan, at that time 
almost without a garrison. Exposing himself 
rashly under the wall, he received a wound in 
the foot from an arrow, which proved fatal. 

In 1543, under the regency of the Earl of 
Arran, Donald Dubh, the grandson of John, 
last Lord of the Isles, again appeared upon the 
scene. Escaping from his long imprisonment, 
he was received with enthusiasm by the insular 
chiefs, and, with their assistance, he prepared 
to expel the Earls of Argyll and Huntly from 
their acquisitions in the Isles. At the head of 
1800 men he invaded Argyll s territories, slew 
many of his vassals, and carried off a great 
quantity of cattle, with other plunder. At first 
he was supported by the Earl of Lennox, then 
attached to the English interest, and thus re 
mained for a time in the undisputed possession 
of the Isles. Through the influence of Lennox, 
the islanders agreed to transfer their alliance 
from the Scottish to the English crown, and in 
June 1545 a proclamation was issued by the 
regent Arran and his privy council against 
Donald, alleging himself of the Isles, and 
other Highland men, his partakers. On the 
28th July of that year, a commission was 
granted by Donald, Lord of the Isles, and 
Earl of Ross, with the advice and consent of 
his barons and council of the Isles, of whom 
seventeen are named, to two commissioners, for 
treating, under the directions of the Eail of 
Lennox, with the English king. On the 5th 
of August, the lord and barons of the Isles 


were at Knockfergus, in Ireland, with a force 
of 4000 men and 180 galleys, when they took 
the oath of allegiance to the king of England, 
at the command of Lennox, while 4000 men 
in arms were left to guard and defend the Isles 
in his absence. Donald s plenipotentiaries then 
proceeded to the English court with letters 
from him both to King Henry and his privy 
council ; by one of which it appears that the 
Lord of the Isles had already received from the 
English monarch the sum of one thousand 
crowns, and the promise of an annual pension 
of two thousand. Soon after the Lord of the 
Isles returned with his forces to Scotland, but 
appears to have returned to Ireland again with 
Lennox. There he was attacked with lover, 
and died at Drogheda, on his way to Dublin. 
With him terminated the direct line of the 
Lords of the Isles. 

All hopes of a descendant of Somerled again 
governing the Isles \vere now at an end ; and 
from this period the race of Conn, unable to 
regain their former united power and conse 
quence, were divided into various branches, 
the aggregate strength of which was rendered 
unavailing for the purpose of general aggran 
disement, by the jealousy, disunion, and rivalry, 
which prevailed among themselves. 

After the forfeiture of the Lords of the Isles, 
and the- failure of the successive attempts which 
were made to retrieve their fortunes, different 
clans occupied the extensive territories which 
had once acknowledged the sway of those insular 
princes. Of these some were clans, which, al 
though dependent upon the Macdonalds, were 
not of the same origin as the race of Conn; and, 
with the exception of the Macleods, Macleans, 
and a few others, they strenuously opposed all 
the attempts which were made to effect the resto 
ration of the family of the Isles, rightly calcu 
lating that the success of such opposition would 
tend to promote their own aggrandisement. 
Another class, again, were of the same origin 
as the family of the Isles ; but having branched 
off from the principal stem before the succes 
sion of the elder branches reverted to the clan, 
in the person of John of the Isles, during the 
reign of David II., they now appeared as 
separate clans. Amongst these were the Mac- 
alisters, the MacTans, and some others. The 
Macalisters, who are traced to Alister, a son of 




Angus Mor, inhabited the south of Knapdale 
and the north of Rintyre. After the forfeiture 
of the Isles they became independent ; but 
being exposed to the encroachments of the 
Campbells, their principal possessions were 
ere long absorbed by different branches of that 
powerful clan. The Maclans of Ardnamurchan 
were descended from John, a son of Angus 
Mor, to whom his father conveyed the pro 
perty which he had obtained from the crown. 
The Macdonalds of Glencoe are also Maclans, 
being descended from John Fraoch, a son of 
Angus Og, Lord of the Isles ; and hence their 
history is in no degree different from that of 
the other branches of the Macdonalds. A 
third class consisted of the descendants of the 
different Lords of the Isles, who still professed 
to form one clan, although the subject of the 
representation of the race soon introduced great 
dissensions, and all adopted the generic name 
of Macdonald in preference to secondary or 
collateral patronymics. 

We shall now endeavour to give a short 
account of the different branches of the Mac 
donalds, from the time of the annexation of 
the Lordship of the Isles to the crown in 

Since the extinction of the direct line of the 
family of the Isles, in the middle of the 1 6th 
century, Macdonald of Sleat, now Lord Mac 
donald, has always been styled in Gaelic Mac 
Dhonuill nan Eilean, or Macdonald of the 
Isles. 9 

As the claim of Lord Macdonald, however, 
to this distinction has been keenly disputed, 
we shall here lay before the reader, as clearly 
as possible, the pretensions of the different 
claimants to the honour of the chiefship of the 
clan Donald, as these have been very fairly 
stated by Mr Skene. 

That the family of Sleat are the undoubted 
representatives of John, Earl of Eoss, and the 
last Lord of the Isles, appears to be admitted 
on all sides ; but, on the other hand, if the 
descendants of Donald, from whom the clan 
received its name, or even of John of the Isles, 
who flourished in the reign of David II., are 
to be held as constituting one clan, then, 
according to the Highland principles of clan- 

9 Gregory s Highlands, p. 61. 

ship, the jits sanguinis, or right of blood to the 
chiefship, rested in the male representative of 
John, whose own right was undoubted. By 
Amy, daughter of Eoderick of the Isles, John 
had three sons, John, Godfrey, and Ranald ; 
but the last of these only left descendants ; 
and it is from him that the Clan Ranald 
derive their origin. Again, by the daughter 
of Robert II. John had four sons Donald, 
Lord of the Isles, the ancestor of the Mac 
donalds of Sleat ; John Mor, from whom pro 
ceeded the Macconnells of Kintyre ; Alister, 
the progenitor of Keppoch ; and Angus, who 
does not appear to have left any descendants. 
That Amy, the daughter of Roderick, was 
John s legitimate wife, is proved, first, by a 
dispensation which the supreme Pontiff granted 
to John in the year 1337 ; and secondly, by a 
treaty concluded between John and David II. 
in 1369, when the hostages given to the king 
were a son of the second marriage, a grandson 
of the first, and a natural son. Besides, it is 
certain that the children of the first marriage 
were considered as John s feudal heirs ; a cir 
cumstance which clearly establishes their legi 
timacy. It is true that Robert II., in pur 
suance of the policy he had adopted, persuaded 
John to make the children of these respective 
marriages feudally independent of each other , 
and that the effect of this was to divide the 
possessions of his powerful vassals into two 
distinct and independent lordships. These 
were, first, the lordship of Garmoran and 
Lochaber, which was held by the eldest son of 
the first marriage, and secondly, that of the 
Isles, which passed to the eldest son of the 
second marriage ; and matters appear to have 
remained in this state until 1427, when, as 
formerly mentioned, the Lord of Garmoran was 
beheaded, and his estates were forfeited to the 
crown. James I., however, reversing the policy 
which had been pursued by his predecessor, 
concentrated the possessions of the Macdonalds 
in the person of the Lord of the Isles, and 
thus sought to restore to him all the power 
and consequence which had originally belonged 
to his house; "but this arbitrary proceeding," 
says Mr Skene, " could not deprive the de 
scendants 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, 
devolved on the feudal representative of Regi 
nald, the youngest son of that marriage." 

The clan Ranald are believed to have de- 
! rived their origin from this Reginald or Ranald, 
who was a son of John of the Isles, by Aury 
MaeRory, and obtained from his father the 
lordship of Garmoran, which he held as vassal 
of his brother Godfrey. That this lordship 
continued in possession of the clan appears 
evident from the Parliamentary Records, in 
which, under the date of 1587, mention is 
made of the clan Ranald of Knoydart, Moy- 
dart, and Glengarry. But considerable doubt 
has arisen, and there has been a good deal of 
controversy) as to the right of chiefship ; 
whilst of the various families descended from 
Ranald each has put forward its claim to this 
distinction. On this knotty and ticklish point 
we shall content ourselves with stating the 
conclusions at which Mr Skene arrived after, 
as he informs us, a rigid examination of the 
whole subject in dispute. According to him, 
the present family of Clanranald have no valid 
title or pretension whatever, being descended 
from an illegitimate son of a second son of the 
old family of Moydart, who, in 1531, assumed 
the title of Captain of Clanranald ; and, conse 
quently, as long as the descendants of the 
eldest son of that family remain, they can have 
no claim by right of blood to the chiefship. 
He then proceeds to examine the question, 
Who was the chief previous to this assumption 
of the captaincy of Clanranald 1 and, from a 
genealogical induction of particulars, he con 
cludes that Donald, the progenitor of the 
family of Glengarry, was the eldest son of the 
Reginald or Ranald above-mentioned ; that 
from John, the eldest son of Donald, pro 
ceeded the senior branch of this family, in 
which the chiefship was vested ; that, in con 
sequence of the grant of Garmoran to the Lord of 
the Isles, and other adverse circumstances, they 
became so much reduced that the oldest cadet 
obtained the actual chiefship, under the ordi 
nary title of captain ; and that, on the extinc 
tion of this branch in the beginning of the 
seventeenth century, the family of Glengarry 
descended from Alister, second son of Donald, 
became the legal representatives of Ranald, the 
common ancestor of the clan, and consequently 

possessed that jus sanguinis of which no usur 
pation could deprive them. Such are the 
results of Mr Skene s researches upon this 
subject. Latterly, the family of Glengarry 
have claimed not only the uhiefship of clan 
Ranald, but likewise that of the whole clan 
Donald, as being the representative of Donald, 
the common ancestor of the clan ; and it can 
scarcely be denied that the same evidence 
which makes good the one point must serve 
equally to establish the other. Nor does this 
appear to be any new pretension. When the 
services rendered by this family to the house 
of Stuart were rewarded by Charles II. with a 
peerage, the Glengarry of the time indicated 
his claim by assuming the title of Lord Mac- 
donnell and Aros ; and although, upon the 
failure of heirs male of his body, this title did 
not descend to his successors, yet his lands 
formed, in consequence, the barony of Mac- 

Donald Gorme, the claimant of the lordship 
of the Isles mentioned above as having been 
slain in 1539, left a grandson, a minor, known 
as Donald Macdonald Gormeson of Sleat. His 
title to the family estates was disputed by the 
Macleods of Harris. He ranged himself on the 
side of Queen Mary when the disputes about 
her marriage began in 1565. He died in 1585, 
and was succeeded by Donald Gorme Mor, 
fifth in descent from Hugh of Sleat. This 
Donald Gorme proved himself to be a man of 
superior abilities, and was favoured highly by 
James VI., to whom he did important service 
in maintaining the peace of the Isles. "From 
this period, it may be observed, the family 
were loyal to the crown, and firm supporters 
of the national constitution arid laws ; and it 
is also worthy of notice that nearly all the 
clans attached to the old Lords of the Isles, on 
the failure of the more direct line in the person 
of John, transferred their warmest affections to 
those royal Stuarts, whose throne they had 
before so often and so alarmingly shaken. 
This circumstance, as all men know, became 
strikingly apparent when misfortune fell heavily 
in turn on the Stuarts." l 

Donald Gorme Mor, soon after succeeding 
his father, found himself involved in a deadly 

1 Smibert s Clans, p. 25. 



feud with the Macleans of Dowart, which 
raged to such an extent as to lead to the 
interference of government, and to the pass 
ing in 1587 of an act of parliament, com 
monly called " The general Bond " or Band 
for maintaining good order both on the borders 
and in the Highlands and Isles. By this act, 
it was made imperative on all landlords, bailies, 
and chiefs of clans, to find sureties for the 
peaceable behaviour of those under them. The 
contentions, however, between the Macdonalds 
and the Macleans continued, and in 1589, with 
the view of putting an end to them, the king 
and council adopted the following plan. After 
remissions under the privy seal had been 
granted to Donald Gorme of Sleat, his kins 
man, Macdonald of Islay, the principal in the 
feud, and Maclean of Dowart, for all crimes 
committed by them, they were induced to 
proceed to Edinburgh, under pretence of con 
sulting with the king and council for the good 
rule of the country, but immediately on their 
arrival they were seized and imprisoned in 
the castle. In the summer of 1591, they 
were set at liberty, on paying each a fine to the 
king, that imposed on Sleat being ,4,000, under 
the name of arrears of feu-duties and crown- 
rents in the Isles, and finding security for 
their future obedience and the performance of 
certain prescribed conditions. They also bound 
themselves to return to their confinement in 
the castle of Edinburgh, whenever they should 
be summoned, on twenty days warning. In 
consequence of their not fulfilling the con 
ditions imposed upon them, and their con 
tinuing in opposition to the government, their 
pardons were recalled, and the three island 
chiefs were cited before the privy council on 
the 14h July 1593, when, failing to appear, 
summonses of treason were executed against 
them and certain of their associates. 

In 1601, the chief of Sleat again brought 
upon himself and his clan the interference of 
government by a feud with Macleod of Dun- 
vegan, which led to much bloodshed and great 
misery and distress among their followers and 
their families. He had married a sister of 
Macleod ; but, from jealousy or some other 
cause, he put her away, and refused at her 
brother s request to take her back. Having 
procured a divorce, he soon after married a I 

sister of Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail. 
Macleod immediately assembled his clan, and 
carried fire and sword through Macdonald s 
district of Trotternish. The latter, in revenge, 
invaded Harris, and laid waste that island, 
killing many of the inhabitants, and carrying 
off their cattle. " These spoliations and incur 
sions were carried on with so much inveteracy, 
that both clans were brought to the brink of 
ruin ; and many of the natives of the districts 
thus devastated were forced to sustain them 
selves by killing and eating their horses, dogs, 
and cats." The Macdonalds having invaded 
Macleod s lands in Skye, a battle took place 
on the mountain Benquillin between them 
and the Macleods, when the latter, under 
Alexander, the brother of their chief, were 
defeated with great loss, and their leader, with 
thirty of their clan, taken captive. A recon 
ciliation was at length effected between them 
by the mediation of Macdonald of Islay, Mac 
lean of Coll, and other friends; when the 
prisoners taken at Benquillin were released. 2 

In 1608, we find Donald Gorme of Sleat 
one of the Island chiefs who attended the 
court of Lord Ochiltree, the king s lieutenant, 
at Aros in Mull, when he was sent there for 
the settlement of order in the Isles, and who 
afterwards accepted his invitation to dinner 
on board the king s ship, called the Moon. 
When dinner was ended, Ochiltree told the 
astonished chiefs that they were his prisoners 
by the king s order ; and weighing anchor he 
sailed direct to Ayr, whence he proceeded 
with his prisoners to Edinburgh and pre 
sented them before the privy council, by whose 
order they were placed in the castles of 
Dumbarton, Blackness, and Stirling. Peti 
tions were immediately presented by the 
imprisoned chiefs to the council submitting 
themselves to the king s pleasure, and making 
many offers in order to procure their liberation. 
In the following year the bishop of the Isles 
was deputed as sole commissioner to visit and 
survey the Isles, and all the chiefs in prison 
were set at liberty, on finding security to a 
large amount, not only for their return to 
Edinburgh by a certain fixed day, but for 
their active concurrence, in the meantime. 

2 Gregory s Highlands, \>. 297. 



with the bishop in makkig the proposed survey. 
Donald Gorme of Sleat was one of the twelve 
chiefs and gentlemen of the Isles, who met 
the bishop at lona, in July 1609, and sub 
mitted themselves to him, as the king s re 
presentative. At a court then held by the 
bishop, the nine celebrated statutes called the 
" Statutes of Icolmkill," for the improvement 
and order of the Isles, were enacted, with 
the consent of the assembled chiefs, and their 
bonds and oaths given for the obedience thereto 
of their clansmen. 3 

In 1616, after the suppression of the re 
bellion of the Clanranald in the South Isles, 
certain very stringent conditions were imposed 
by the privy council on the different Island 
chiefs. Among these were, that they were to 
take home-farms into their own hands, which 
they were to cultivate, " to the effect that they 
might be thereby exercised and eschew idle 
ness," and that they were not to use in their 
houses more than a certain quantity of wine 
respectively. Donald Gorme of Sleat, having 
been prevented by sickness from attending 
the council with the other chiefs, ratified all 
their proceedings, and found the required 
sureties, by a bond dated in the month of 
August. He named Duntulm, a castle of his 
family in Trotternish, Skye, as his residence, 
when six household gentlemen, and an annual 
consumption of four tun of wine, were allowed 
to him ; and he was once-a-year to exhibit to 
the council three of his principal kinsmen. 
He died the same year, without issue, and was 
succeeded by his nephew, Donald Gorme Mac- 
donald of Sleat. 

On July 14th 1625, after having concluded, 
in an amicable manner, a)l his disputes with 
the Macleods of Harris, and another controversy 
in which he was engaged with the captain 
of Clanranald, he was created a baronet of 
Nova Scotia by Charles I., with a special 
clause of precedency placing him second of 
that order in Scotland. He adhered to the 
cause of that monarch, but died in 1643. He 
had married Janet, commonly called " fair 
Janet," second daughter of Kenneth, first Lord 
Mackenzie of Kintail, by whom he had several 
children. His eldest son, Sir James Mac- 

3 Gregory s Highlands, p. 330. 

donald, second baronet of Sleat, joined the 
Marquis of Montrose in 1645, and when 
Charles II. marched into England in 1651, 
he sent a number of his clan to his assistance. 
He died 8th December 1678. 

Sir James eldest son, Sir Donald Mac- 
donald, third baronet of Sleat, died in 1695. 
His son, also named Sir Donald, fourth 
baronet, was one of those summoned by the 
Lord Advocate, on the breaking out of the 
rebellion of 1715, to appear at Edinburgh, 
under pain of a year s imprisonment and other 
penalties, to give bail for their allegiance to 
the government. Joining in the insurrection, 
his two brothers commanded the battalion of 
his clan, on the Pretender s side, at Sheriff- 
rnuir; and, being sent out with the Earl 
MarischaPs horse to drive away a reconnoitring 
party, under the Duke of Argyll, from the 
heights, may be said to have commenced the 
battle. Sir Donald himself had joined the 
Earl of Seaforth at his camp at Alness with 
700 Macdonalds. After the suppression of the 
rebellion, Sir Donald proceeded to the Isle of 
Skye with about 1000 men; but although he 
made no resistance, having no assurance of 
protection from the government in case of a 
surrender, he retired into one of the Uists, 
where he remained till he obtained a ship 
which carried him to France. He was for 
feited for his share in the insurrection, but 
the forfeiture was soon removed. He died in 
1718, leaving one son and four daughters. 

His son, Sir Alexander Macdonald, seventh 
baronet, was one of the first persons asked by 
Prince Charles to join him, on his arrival off 
the Western Islands, in July 1745, but refused, 
as he had brought no foreign force with him. 
After the battle of Preston, the prince sent 
Mr Alexander Macleod, advocate, to the Isle 
of Skye, to endeavour to prevail upon Sir 
Alexander Macdonald and the laird of Macleod 
to join the insurgents ; but instead of doing 
so, these and other well-affected chiefs enrolled 
each an independent company for the service 
of government, out of their respective clans. 
The Macdonalds of Skye served under Lord 
Loudon in Eoss-shire. 

After the battle of Culloden, when Prince 
Charles, in his wanderings, took refuge in Skye, 
with Flora Macdonald, they landed near Moy- 



dhstat, or Mugstot, tlie seat of Sir Alexander 
Macdonald, near the northern extremity of 
that island. Sir Alexander was at that time 
with the Duke of Cumberland at Fort 
Augustus, and as his wife, Lady Margaret 
Montgomerie, a daughter of the ninth Earl of 
Eglinton, was known to be a warm friend of 
the prince. Miss Macdonald proceeded to 
announce to her his arrival. Through Lady 
Margaret the prince was consigned to the care 
of Mr Macdonald of Kingsburgh, Sir Alex 
ander s factor, at whose house he spent the 
night, and afterwards departed to the island 
of JRasay. Sir Alexander died in November 
1746, leaving three sons. 

His eldest son, Sir James, eighth baronet, 
styled " The Scottish Marcellus," was born in 
1741. At his own earnest solicitation he was 
sent to Eton, on leaving which he set out on 
his travels, and was everywhere received by 
the learned with the distinction due to his 
unrivalled talents. At Rome, in particular, 
the most marked attention was paid to him by 
several of the cardinals. He died in that city 
on 26th July 1766, when only 25 years old. 
In extent of learning, and in genius, he 
resembled the admirable Crichton. On his 
death the title devolved on his next brother, 
Alexander, ninth baronet, who was created a 
peer of Ireland, July 17, 1776, as Baron Mae- 
dohald of Sleat, county Antrim. He married 
the eldest daughter of Godfrey Bosville, Esq. 
of Gunthwaite, Yorkshire, and had seven sons 
and three daughters. Diana, the eldest daugh 
ter, married in 1788 the Eight Hon. Sir John 
Sinclair of Ulbster. His lordship died Sept. 
12, 1795. 

His eldest son, Alexander Wentworth, second 
Lord Macdonald, died unmarried, June 9, 1824, 
when his brother, Godfrey, became third Lord 
Macdonald. He assumed the additional name 
of Bosville. He married Louise Maria, daughter 
of Farley Edsir, Esq. ; issue, three sons and 
seven daughters. He died Oct. 13, 1832. 

The eldest son, Godfrey William Went 
worth, fourth Lord Macdonald, born in 1809, 
married in 1845, daughter of G. T. Wyndham, 
Esq. of Cromer Hall, Norfolk ; issue, Somerled 
James Brudenell, born in 1849, two other sons 
and four daughters. 


called the Clan IAN VOR, whose chiefs were 
usually styled lords of Dunyveg (from their 
castle in Isla) and the Glens, were descended 
from John Mor, second son of "the good John 
of Isla," and of Lady Margaret Stewart, daughter 
of King Eobert II. From his brother Donald, 
Lord of the Isles, he received large grants of 
land in Isla and Kintyre, and by his marriage 
with Marjory Bisset, heiress of the district of 
the Glens in Antrim, he acquired possessions 
in Ulster. He was murdered before 1427 by 
an individual named James Campbell, who is 
said to have received a commission from King 
James I. to apprehend him, but that he 
exceeded his powers by putting him to death. 
His eldest son was the famous Donald 
Balloch. From Eanald Bane, a younger 
brother of Donald Balloch, sprang the Clan- 
ranaldbane of Largie in Kintyre. 

Donald Balloch s grandson, John, surnamed 
Cathanocli, or warlike, was at the head of the 
clan Ian Vor, when the lordship of the Isles 
was finally forfeited by James IV. in 1493. 
In that year he was among the chiefs, for 
merly vassals of the Lord of the Isles, who 
made their submission to the king, when he 
proceeded in person to the West Highlands. 
On this occasion he and the other chiefs were 

Alexander of Isla was with Sir Donald of 
Lochalsh when, in 1518, he proceeded against 
the father-in-law of the former, Maclan of 
Ardnamurchan, who was defeated and slain, 
with two of his sons, at a place called Craig- 
anairgid, or the Silver Craig in Morvern. The 
death of Sir Donald soon after brought the 
rebellion to a close. In 1529 Alexander of 
Isla and his followers were again in insurrec 
tion, and being joined by the Macleans, they 
made descents upon Eoseneath, Craignish, and 
other lands of the Campbells, which they 
ravaged with fire and sword. Alexander of 
Isla being considered the prime mover of the 
rebellion, the king resolved in 1531 to pro 
ceed against him in person, on which, hasten 
ing to Stirling, under a safeguard and protec 
tion, he submitted, and received a new grant, 
during the king s pleasure, of certain lands in 
the South Isles and Kintyre, and a remission 
to himself and his folloAvers for all crimes 
committed by them during the late rebellion. 



In 1543, on the second escape of Donald 
Dubh, grandson of John, last lord of the Isles, 
and the regent Arran s opposing the views of 
the English faction, James Macdonald of Isla, 
son and successor to Alexander, was the only 
insular chief who supported the regent. In 
the following year his lands of Kintyre were 
ravaged by the Earl of Lennox, the head of 
the English party. 

After the death of Donald Dubh, the 
islanders chose for their leader Jarues Mac 
donald of Isla, who married Lady Agnes 
Campbell, the Earl of Argyll s sister, and 
though the most powerful of the Island chiefs, 
he relinquished his pretensions to the lord 
ship of the Isles, being the last that assumed 
that title. 

A dispute between the Macleans and the 
clan Ian Vor, relative to the right of occupancy 
of certain crown lands in Isla, led to a long 
and bloody feud between these tribes, in which 
both suffered severely. In 1562 the matter 
was brought before the privy council, when it 
was decided that James Macdonald of Isla 
was really the crown tenant, and as Maclean 
refused to become his vassal, in 1565 the rival 
chiefs were compelled to find sureties, each to 
the amount of 10,000, that they would 
abstain from mutual hostilities. 

James having been killed while helping to 
defend his family estates in Ulster, Ireland, 
his eldest son, Angus Macdonald, succeeded 
to Isla and Kintyre, and in his time the feud 
with the Macleans was renewed, details of 
which will be found in the former part of this 
work. In 1579, upon information of mutual 
hostilities committed by their followers, the 
king and council commanded Lauchlan Mac 
lean of Dowart and Angus Macdonald of 
Dunyveg or Isla, to subscribe assurances of 
indemnity to each other, under the pain of 
treason, and the quarrel was, for the time, 
patched up by the marriage of Macdonald with 
Maclean s sister. In 1585, however, the feud 
came to a height, and after involving nearly 
the whole of the island clans on one side or the 
other, and causing its disastrous consequences 
to be felt throughout the whole extent of the 
Hebrides, by the mutual ravages of the con 
tending parties, government interfered, and 
measures were at last adopted for reducing to 

obedience the turbulent chiefs, who had caused 
so much bloodshed and distress in the Isles. 

James Macdonald, son of Angus Maedonald 
of Dunyveg, had remained in Edinburgh for 
four years as a hostage for his father, and early 
in 1596 he received a license to visit him, in 
the hope that he might be prevailed upon to 
submit to the laws, that the peace of the Isles 
might be secured. He sent his son, who was 
soon afterwards knighted, back to court to 
make known to the privy council, in his 
father s name and his own, that they would 
fulfil whatever conditions should be prescribed 
to them by his majesty. At this time Angus 
made over to his son all his estates, reserving 
only a proper maintenance for himself and his 
wife during their lives. When Sir William 
Stewart arrived at Kintyre, and held a court 
there, the chief of Isla and his followers 
hastened to make their personal submission to 
the king s representative, and early in the 
following year he went to Edinburgh, when 
he undertook to find security for the arrears 
of his crown rents, to remove his clan and 
dependers from Kintyre and the Binns of 
Isla, and to deliver his castle of Dunyveg to 
any person sent by the king to receive it. 

Angus Macdonald having failed to fulfil 
these conditions, his son, Sir James, was in 
1598 sent to him from court, to induce him to 
comply with them. His resignation of his 
estates in favour of his son was not recognised 
by the privy council, as they had already been 
forfeited to the crown ; but Sir James, on his 
arrival, took possession of them, and even 
attempted to burn his father and mother in 
their house of Askomull in Kintyre. Angus 
Macdonald, after having been taken prisoner, 
severely scorched, was carried to Smerbie in 
Kintyre, and confined there in irons for several 
months. Sir James, now in command of his 
clan, conducted himself with such violence, 
that in June 1598 a proclamation for another 
royal expedition to Kintyre was issued. He, 
however, contrived to procure from the king a 
letter approving of his proceedings in Kintyre, 
and particularly of his apprehension of his 
father : and the expedition, after being delayed 
for some time, was finally abandoned. 

In August of the following year, with the 
view of being reconciled to government, Sir 



James appeared in presence of the king s 
comptroller at Falkland, and made certain 
proposals for establishing the royal authority 
in Kintyre and Isla; but the influence of 
Argyll, who took the part of Angus Mac- 
donald, Sir James s father, and the Campbells, 
having been used against their being carried 
into effect, the arrangement came to nothing, 
and Sir James and his clan were driven into 
irremediable opposition to the government, 
which ended in their ruin. 

Sir James, finding that it was the object of 
Argyll to obtain for himself the king s lands 
in Kintyre, made an attempt in 1606 to 
escape from the castle of Edinburgh, where he 
was imprisoned ; but being unsuccessful, was 
put in irons. In the following year a charter 
was granted to Argyll of the lands in North 
and South Kintyre, and in the Isle of Jura, 
which had been forfeited by Angus Macdonald, 
and thus did the legal right to the lands of 
Kintyre pass from a tribe which had held 
them for many hundred years. 4 

Angus Macdonald and his clan immediately 
took up arms, and his son, Sir James, after 
many fruitless applications to the privy council, 
to be set at liberty, and writing both to the 
king and the Duke of Lennox, made another 
attempt to escape from the castle of Edin 
burgh, but having hurt his ancle by leaping 
from the wall whilst encumbered with his fet 
ters, he was retaken near the West Port of that 
city, and consigned to his former dungeon. 
Details of the subsequent transactions in this 
rebellion will be found in the former part of 
this work. 5 

After the fall of Argyll, who had turned 
Eoman Catholic, and had also fled to Spain, 
where he is said to have entered into some 
very suspicious dealings with his former an 
tagonist, Sir James Macdonald, who was living 
there in exile, the latter was, in 1620, with 
MacRanald of Keppoch, recalled from exile by 
King James. On their arrival in London, Sir 
James received a pension of 1000 merks ster 
ling, while Keppoch got one of 200 merks. 
His majesty also wrote to the Scottish privy 
council in their favour, and granted them 
remissions for all their offences. Sir James, 

4 Gregory s Highlands and Isles, p. 312 

5 Vol. i., chap. x. 

however, never again visited Scotland, and 
died at London in 1G26, without issue. The 
clan. Ian Vor from this period may be said to 
have been totally suppressed. Their lands 
were taken possession of by the Campbells, 
and the most valuable portion of the property 
of the ducal house of Argyll consists of what 
had formerly belonged to the Macdonalds of 
Isla and Kintyre. 

POCH, called the CLANRANALD of LOCHABER, Were 
descended from Alexander, or Allaster Carrach, 
third son of John, Lord of the Isles, and Lady 
Margaret Stewart. He was forfeited for join 
ing the insurrection of the Islanders, under 
Donald Balloch, in 1431, and the greater part 
of his lands were bestowed upon Duncan 
Mackintosh, captain of the clan Chattan, whicli 
proved the cause of a fierce and lasting feud 
between the Mackintoshes and the Macdonalds. 
It was from Ranald, the fourth in descent 
from Allaster Carrach, that the tribe received 
the name of the Clanranald of Lochaber. 

In 1498, the then chief of the tribe, Donald, 
elder brother of Allaster MacAngus, grandson 
of Allaster Carrach, was killed in a battle with 
Dougal Stewart, first of Appin. His son 
John, who succeeded him, having delivered 
up to Mackintosh, chief of the clan Chattan, 
as steward of Lochaber, one of the tribe who 
had committed some crime, and had fled to 
him for protection, rendered himself unpopular 
among his clan, and was deposed from the 
chiefship. His cousin and heir-male pre 
sumptive, Donald Glas MacAllaster, was 
elected chief in his place. During the reign 
of James IV., says Mr Gregory, this tribe 
continued to hold their lands in Lochaber, as 
occupants merely, and without a legal claim to 
the heritage. 6 In 1546 Ranald Macdonald 
Glas, who appears to have been the son of 
Donald Glas MacAllaster, and the captain of 
the clan Cameron, being present at the 
slaughter of Lord Lovat and the Frasers at 
the battle of Kinloch-lochy, and having also 
supported all the rebellions of the Earl of 
Lennox, concealed themselves in Lochaber, 
when the Earl of Huntly entered that district 
with a considerable force and laid it waste, 

6 Highlands and Isles, p. 109. 




many of the inhabitants prisoners. 
Having "been apprehended by William Mack 
intosh, captain of the clan Chattan, the two 
chiefs were delivered over to Huntly, who 
conveyed them to Perth, where they were 
detained in prison for some time. They were 
afterwards tried at Elgin for high treason, and 
being found guilty, were beheaded in 1547. 

Allaster MacRanald of Keppoch and his 
eldest son assisted Sir James Macdonald in 
his escape from Edinburgh Castle in 1615, 
and was with him at the head of his clan 
during his subsequent rebellion. On its sup 
pression, he fled towards Kintyre, and nar 
rowly escaped being taken with the loss of his 
vessels and some of his men. 

In the great civil war the Clanranald of 
Lochaber were very active on the king s side. 
Soon after the Restoration, Alexander Mac 
donald Glas, the young chief of Keppoch, and 
his brother were murdered by some of their 
own discontented followers. Coll Macdonald 
was the next chief. Previous to the Revolu 
tion of 1688, the feud between his clan and 
the, regarding the lands he occu 
pied, led to the last clan battle that was ever 
fought in the Highlands. The Mackintoshes 
having invaded Lochaber, were defeated on a 
height called Mnlroy. So violent had been 
Keppoch s armed proceedings before this event 
that the government had issued a commission 
of fire and sword against him. After the de 
feat of the Mackintoshes, he advanced to Inver 
ness, to wreak his vengeance on the inhabitants 
of that town for supporting the former against 
him, if they did not purchase his forbearance 
by paying a large sum as a fine. Dundee, 
however, anxious to secure the friendship of 
the people of Inverness, granted Keppoch his 
own bond in behalf of the town, obliging him 
self to see Keppoch paid 2000 dollars, as a 
compensation for the losses and injuries he 
alleged he had sustained from the Mackintoshes. 
Keppoch brought to the aid of Lundee 1COO 
Highlanders, and as Mackintosh refused to 
attend a friendly interview solicited by Dun 
dee, Keppoch, at the desire of the latter, drove 
away his cattle. W& are told that Dundee 
" used to call him Coll of the cowes, because 
he found them out when they were driven to 
the hills out of the way." He 

battle of Killiecrankie, and, on the breaking 
out of the rebellion of 1715, he joined the 
Earl of Mar, with whom he fought at Sheriff- 
muir. His son, Alexander Macdonald of 
Keppoch, on the arrival of Prince Charles in 
Scotland in 1745, at once declared for him, 
and at a meeting of the chiefs to consult as to 
the course they should pursue, he gave it as 
his opinion that as the prince had risked his 
person, and generously thrown himself into the 
hands of his friends, they were bound, in duty 
at least, to raise men instantly for the pro 
tection of his person, whatever might be the 

At the battle of Culloden, on the three 
Macdonald regiments giving way, Keppoch, 
seeing himself abandoned by his clan, ad 
vanced with his drawn sword in one hand 
and his pistol in the other, but was brought 
to the ground by a musket shot. Donald Roy 
Macdonald, a captain in Clanranald s regiment, 
followed him, and entreated him not to throw 
away his life, assuring him that his wound was 
not mortal, and that he might easily rejoin his 
regiment in the retreat, but Keppoch, after 
recommending him to take care of himself, 
received another shot, which killed him on the 
spot. There are still numerous cadets of this 
family in Lochaber, but the principal house, 
says Mr Gregory, 7 if not yet extinct, has lost 
all influence in that district. Latterly they 
changed their name to Macdonnell. 


fought at the 

BADGE. Heath. 

Highlands and Isles, p. 415. 



are descended from Ranald, younger son of 
John, first Lord of the Isles, by his first wife, 
Amy, heiress of the MacRorys or Macruaries 
of Garmoran. In 1373 he received a grant of 
the North Isles, Garmoran, and other lands, 
to be held of John, Lord of the Isles, and his 
heirs. His descendants comprehended the 
families of Moydart, Morar, Knoydart, and 
Glengarry, and came in time to form the 
most numerous tribe of the Clandonald. 
Alexander Macruari of Moydart, chief of the 
Clanranald, was one of the principal chiefs 
seized by James I. at Inverness in 1427, and 
soon after beheaded. The great-grandson of 
Ranald, named Allan Macruari, who became 
chief of the Clanranald in 1481, was one of 
the principal supporters of Angus, the young 
Lord of the Isles, at the battle of Bloody 
Bay, and he likewise followed Alexander of 
Lochalsh, nephew of the Lord of the Isles, in 
his invasion of Ross and Cromarty in 1491, 
when he received a large portion of the booty 
taken on the occasion. 8 In 1495, on the 
second expedition of James IV. to the Isles, 
Allan Macruaii was one of the chiefs who 
made their submission. 

During the whole of the 15th century the 
Clanranald had been engaged in feuds regard 
ing the lands of Garmoran and Uist ; first, with 
the Siol Gorrie, or race of Godfrey, eldest 
brother of Ranald, the founder of the tribe, 
and afterwards with the Macdonalds or Clan 
huistein of Sleat, and it was not till 1506, that 
they succeeded in acquiring a legal title to the 
disputed lands. John, eldest son of Hugh of 
Sleat, having no issue, made over all his 
estates to the Clanranald, including the lands 
occupied by them. Archibald, or Gillespock, 
Dubh, natural brother of John, having slain 
Donald Gallach and another of John s brothers, 
endeavoured to seize the lands of Sleat, but was 
expelled from the North Isles by Ranald Bane 
Allanson of Moydart, eldest son of the chief of 
Clanranald. The latter married Florence, 
daughter of Maclan of Ardnamurchan, and had 
four sons 1. Ranald Bane; 2. Alexander, who 
had three sons, John, Farquhar, and Angus, 
and a daughter ; 3. Ranald Oig ; and 4. Angus 

8 Gregory s Highlands and Isles, page 66. 

Reochson. Angus Reoch, the youngest son, 
had a son named Dowle or Coull, who had a 
son named Allan, whose son, Alexander, was 
the ancestor of the Macdonells of Morar. 

In 1509 Allan Macruari was tried, con 
victed, and executed, in presence of the king 
at Blair-Athol, but for what crime is not 
known. His eldest son, Ranald Bane, obtained 
a charter of the lands of Moydart and Arisaig, 
Dec. 14, 1540, and died in 1541. He married 
a daughter of Lord Lovat, and had one son, 
Ranald Galda, or the stranger, from his being 
fostered by his mother s relations, the Frasers. 

On the death of Ranald Bane, the fifth chief, 
the clan, who had resolved to defeat his son s 
right to succeed, in consequence of his relations, 
the Frasers, having joined the Earl of Huntly, 
lieutenant of the north, against the Macdonalds, 
chose the next heir to the estate as their chief. 
This was the young Ranald s cousin-german, 
John Moydartach, or John of Moydart, eldest 
son of Alexander Allanson, second son of 
Allan Macruari, and John was, accordingly, 
acknowledged by the clan captain of Clan 
ranald. Lovat, apprised of the intentions of 
the clan against his grandchild, before their 
scheme was ripe for execution, marched to 
Castletirrim, and, by the assistance of the 
Frasers, placed Ranald Galda in possession of 
the lands. The Clanranald, assisted by the 
Macdonalds of Keppoch and the Clan Cameron, 
having laid waste and plundered the districts 
of Abertarf and Stratherrick, belonging to 
Lovat, and the lands of Urquhart and Glen- 
moriston, the property of the Grants, the 
Earl of Huntly, the king s lieutenant in the 
north, to drive them back and put an end to 
their ravages, was obliged to raise a numerous 
force. He penetrated as far as Inverlochy in 
Lochaber, and then returned to his own terri 
tories. The battle of Kinloch-lochy, called 
Blar-nan-leine, " the field of shirts," followed, 
as related in the account of the clan Fraser. 
The Macdonalds being the victors, the result 
was that John Moydartach was maintained in 
possession of the chiefship and estates, and 
transmitted the same to his descendants. On 
the return of Huntly with an army, into 
Lochaber, John Moydartach fled to the Isles, 
where he remained for some time. 

The Clanranald distinguished themselves 



under the Marquis of Montrose in the civil 
wars of the 17th century. At the battle of 
Killiecrankie, their chief, then only fourteen 
years of age, fought under Dundee, with 500 
of his men. They were also at Sheriifmuir. 
In the rebellion of 1745, the Clanranald took 
an active part. Macdonald of Boisdale, the 
brother of the chief, then from age and 
infirmities unfit to be of any service, had an 
interview with Prince Charles, on his arrival 
off the island of Eriska, and positively refused 
to aid his enterprise. On the following day, 
however, young Clanranald, accompanied by 
his kinsmen, Alexander Macdonald of Glenala- 
dale and JEneas Macdonald of Dalily, the 
author of a Journal and Memoirs of the Expe 
dition, went on board the prince s vessel, and 
readily offered him his services. He after 
wards joined him with 200 of his clan, and 
was with him throughout the rebellion. 

At the battles of Preston and Falkirk, the 
Macdonalds were on the right, which they 
claimed as their due, but at Culloden the 
three Macdonald regiments of Clanranald, 
[veppoch, and Glengarry, formed the left. It 
was probably their feeling of dissatisfaction at 
being placed on the left of the line that caused 
the Macdonald regiments, on observing that 
the right and centre had given way, to turn 
their " acks and fly from the fatal field without 
striking a blow. 

At Glenboisdale, whither Charles retreated, 
after the defeat at Culloden, he was joined by 
young Clanranald, and several other adherents, 
who endeavoured to persuade him from em 
barking for the Isles, but in vain. In the act 
of indemnity passed in June 1747, young 
Clanranald was one of those who were 
specially excepted from pardon. 

The ancestor of the Macdonalds of Benbe- 
cula was Eanald, brother of Donald Macallan, 
who was captain of the Clanranald in the 
latter part of the reign of James VI. The 
Macdonalds of Boisdale are cadets of Benbe- 
cula, and those of Staffa of Boisdale. On 
the failure of Donald s descendants, the family 
of Benbecula succeeded to the barony of 
Castletirrim, and the captainship of the Clan 
ranald, represented by Reginald George Mac 
donald of Clanranald. 

From John, another brother of Donald 

Macallan, came the family of Kinlochmoidart, 
which terminated in an heiress. This lady 
married Colonel Eobertson, who, in her right, 
assumed the name of Macdonald. 

From John Oig, uncle of Donald Macallan, 
descended the Macdonalds of Glenaladale 
" The head of this family," says Mr Gregory, 
" John Macdonald of Glenaladale, being 
obliged to quit Scotland about 1772, in con 
sequence of family misfortunes, sold his Scot 
tish estates to his cousin (also a Macdonald), 
and emigrating to Prince Edward s Island, 
with about 200 followers, purchased a tract of 
40,000 acres there, while the 200 Highlanders 
have increased to 3000." 

One of the attendants of Prince Charles, 
who, after Culloden, embarked with him for 
France, was Neil MacEachan Macdonald, a 
gentleman sprung from the branch of the 
Clanranald in Uist. He served in France as a 
lieutenant in the Scottish regiment of Ogilvie, 
and was father of Stephen James Joseph 
Macdonald, marshal of France, and Duke of 
Tarentum, born ISTov. 17, 1765 ; died Sept. 24, 

The MACDONALDS of GLENCOE are descended 
from John Og, surnamed Fraoch, natural son 
of Angus Og of Isla, and brother of John, 
first Lord of the Isles. He settled in Glencoe, 
which is a wild and gloomy vale in the district 
of Lorn, Argyleshire, as a vassal under his 
brother, and some of his descendants still 
possess lands there. This branch of the 
Macdonalds was known as the clan Ian Abrach, 
it is supposed from one of the family being 
fostered in Lochaber. After the Revolution, 
Maclan or Alexander Macdonald of Glencoe, 
was one of the chiefs who supported the cause 
of King James, having joined Dundee in 
Lochaber at the head of his clan, and a 
mournful interest attaches to the history of 
this tribe from the dreadful massacre, by 
which it was attempted to exterminate it in 
February 1692. The story has often been 
told, but as full details have been given in the 
former part of this work, it is unnecessary to 
repeat them here. 

The Macdonalds of Glencoe joined Prince 
Charles on the breaking out of the rebellion 
in 1745, and General Stewart, in his Sketches 
of the Highlanders, relates that when the 



insurgent army lay at Kirkliston, near the 
seat of the Earl of Stair, grandson of Secretary 
Dalrymple, the prince, anxious to save his 
lordship s house and property, and to remove 
from his followers all excitement and revenge, 
proposed that the Glencoe-men should be 
marched to a distance, lest the remembrance 
of the share which his grandfather had in the 
order for the massacre of the clan should rouse 
them to retaliate on his descendant. Indignant 
at being supposed capable of wreaking their 
vengeance on an innocent man, they declared 
their resolution of returning home, and it was 
not without much explanation and great per 
suasion that they were prevented from march 
ing away the following morning. 


BADGE. Heath. 

The GLENGARRY branch of the Macdonalds 
spell their name MACDONNELL. The word 
Dhonuill, whence the name Donald is derived, 
is said to signify " brown eye." The most 
proper way, says Mr Gregory, of spelling the 
name, according to the pronunciation, was that 
formerly employed by the Macdonalds of 
Dunveganandthe Glens, who used Macdonnell. 
Sir James Macdonald, however, the last of 
this family in the direct male line, signed 
Makdonall. 9 

The family of Glengarry are descended from 
Alister, second son of Donald, who was eldest 
son of Reginald or Ranald (progenitor also of 
the Clanranald), youngest son of John, lord of 

" Uiijhlands and Isles, p. 417, Note. 

the Isles, by Amy, heiress of MacRory. Alex 
ander Macdonnell, who was chief of Glen 
garry at the beginning of the 16th century, 
supported the claims of Sir Donald Macdonald 
of Lochalsh to the lordship of the Isles, and 
in November 1513 assisted him, with Chis- 
holm of Comer, in expelling the garrison and 
seizing the Castle of Urquhart in Loch Ness. 
In 1527 the Earl of Argyll, lieutenant of the 
Isles, received from Alexander Macranald of 
Glengarry and North Morar, a bond of man- 
rent or service; and in 1545 he was among 
the lords and barons of the Isles who, at 
Knockfergus in Ireland, took the oath of alle 
giance to the king of England, " at the com 
mand of the Earl of Lennox." He married 
Margaret, eldest daughter of Celestine, brother 
of John Earl of Ross, and one of the three 
sisters and coheiresses of Sir Donald Mac 
donald of Lochalsh. His son. Angus or 
^Eneas Macdonnell of Glengarry, the represen 
tative, through his mother, of the house of 
Lochalsh, which had become extinct in the 
male line on the death of Six Donald in 1518, 
married Janet, only daughter of Sir Hector 
Maclean of Dowart, and had a son, Donald 
Macdonnell of Glengarry, styled Donald Mac- 
Angus MacAlister. 

In 1581 a serious feud broke out between 
the chief of Glengarry, who had inherited one 
half of the districts of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, 
and Lochbroom in "Wester Ross, and Colin 
Mackenzie of Kintail, who was in possession 
of the other half. The Mackenzies, having 
made aggressions upon Glengarry s portion, the 
latter, to maintain his rights, took up his tem 
porary residence in Lochcarron, and placed a 
small garrison in the castle of Strone in that 
district. With some of his followers he un 
fortunately fell into the hands of a party of 
the Mackenzies, and after being detained in 
captivity for a considerable time, only procured 
his release by yielding the castle of Lochcarron 
to the Mackenzies. The other prisoners, in 
cluding several of his near kinsmen, were put 
to death. On complaining to the privy coun 
cil, they caused Mackenzie of Kintail to be 
detained for a time at Edinburgh, and subse 
quently in the castle of Blackness. In 1602, 
Glengarry, from his ignorance of the laws, 
was, by the craft of the clan Kenzie. as Sir 


Robert Gordon says, " easalie intrapped within 
the compass thereof," on which they procured 
a warrant for citing him to appear before the 
justiciary court at Edinburgh. Glengarry, 
however, paid no attention to it, but went 
about revenging the slaughter of two of his 
kinsmen, whom the Mackenzies had killed 
after the summons had been issued. The con 
sequence was that he and some of his followers 
: were outlawed, and Kenneth Mackenzie, who 
was now lord of Kintail, procured a commis 
sion of fire and sword against Glengarry and 
his men, in virtue of which he invaded and 
wasted the district of North Morar, and carried 
off all the cattle. In retaliation the Mac- 
donalds plundered the district of Applecross, 
and, on a subsequent occasion, they landed on 
the coast of Lochalsh, with the intention of 
burning and destroying all Mackenzie s lands, 
as far as Easter Ross, but their leader, Allaster 
MacGorrie, having been killed, they returned 
home. To revenge the death of his kinsman, 
Angus Macdonnell, the young chief of Glen 
garry, at the head of his followers, proceeded 
north to Lochcarron, where his tribe held the 
castle of Strone, now in ruins. After burning 
many of the houses in the district, and killing 
the inhabitants, he loaded his boats with the 
plunder, and prepared to return. In the 
absence of their chief, the Mackenzies, en 
couraged by the example of his lady, posted 
themselves at the narrow strait or kyle which 
separates Skye from the mainland, for the 
purpose of intercepting them. Night had 
fallen, however, before they made their appear 
ance, and taking advantage of the darkness, 
some of the Mackenzies rowed out in two boats 
towards a large galley, on board of which was 
young Glengarry, which was then passing the 
kyle. This they suddenly attacked with a 
volley of musketry and arrows. Those on 
board in their alarm crowding to one side, the 
galley overset, and all on board were thrown 
into the water. Such of them as were able to 
reach the shore were immediately despatched 
by the Mackenzies, and among the slain was 
the young chief of Glengarry himself. The 
rest of the Macdonnells, on reaching Strath 
aird in Skye, left their boats, and. proceeded 
on foot to Morar. Finding that the chief of 
the Mackenzies had not returned from Mull, a 

large party was sent to an island near which 
he must pass, which he did next day in Mac 
lean s great galley, but he contrived to elude 
them, and was soon out of reach of pursuit. 
He subsequently laid siege to the castle of 
Strone, which surrendered to him, and was 
blown up. 

In 1603, "the Clanranald of Glengarry, 
under Allan Macranald of Lundie, made an 
irruption into Brae Ross, and plundered the 
lands of Kilchrist, and others adjacent, be 
longing to the Mackenzies. This foray was 
signalized by the merciless burning of a 
whole congregation in the church of Kil 
christ, while Glengarry s piper marched round 
the building, mocking the cries of the unfor 
tunate inmates with the well-known pibroch, 
which has been known, ever since, under the 
name of Kilchrist, as the family tune of the 
Clanranald of Glengarry." 1 Eventually, Ken 
neth Mackenzie, afterwards Lord Kintail, suc 
ceeded in obtaining a crown charter to the 
disputed districts of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and 
others, dated in 1607. 

Donald MacAngus of Glengarry died in 
1603. By his wife, Margaret, daughter of 
Alexander Macdonald, Captain of Clanranald, 
he had, besides Angus above mentioned, two 
other sons, Alexander, who died soon after his 
father, and Donald Macdonnell of Scothouse. 

Alexander, by his wife, Jean, daughter of 
Allan Cameron of Lochiel, had a son, .ZEneas 
Macdonnell of Glengarry, who was one of the 
first in 1644 to join the royalist army under 
Montrose, and never left that great com 
mander, " for which," says Bishop Wishart, 
" he deserves a singular commendation for his 
bravery and steady loyalty to the king, 
and his peculiar attachment to Montrose." 2 
Glengarry also adhered faithfully to the cause 
of Charles II., and was forfeited by Crom 
well in 1651. As a reward for his faith 
ful services he was at the Restoration created 
a peer by the title of Lord Macdonnell and 
Aross, by patent dated at Whitehall, 20th 
December 1660, the honours being limited to 
the heirs male of his body. This led him to 
claim not only the chiefship of Clanranald, but 
likewise that of the whole Clandonald, as 

1 Gregory s Highlands, pp. 301-303. 

2 Memoirs, p. 155. 



being the representative of Donald, the com 
mon ancestor of the clan : and on 18th July 
1672, the privy council issued an order, com 
manding him as chief to exhibit before the 
council several persons of the name of Mac- 
donald, to find caution to keep the peace. 

The three brandies of the Clanranald en 
gaged in all the attempts which were made for 
the restoration of the Stuarts. On 27th 
August 1715, Glengarry was one of the chiefs 
who attended the pretended grand hunting 
match at Braemar, appointed by the Earl of 
Mar, previous to the breaking out of the 
rebellion of that year. After the suppression 
of the rebellion, the chief of Glengarry made 
his submission to General Cadogan at Inver 
ness. He died in 1724. By his wife, Lady 
Mary Mackenzie, daughter of the third Earl of 
Seaforth, he had a son, John Macdonnell, who 
succeeded him. 

In 1745, six hundred of the Macdonnells of 
Glengarry joined Prince Charles, under the 
command of Macdonnell of Lochgarry, who 
afterwards escaped to France with the prince, 
and were at the battles of Preston, Falkirk, 
and Culloden. The chief himself seems not to 
have engaged in the rebellion. He was how 
ever arrested, and sent to London. 

General Sir James Macdonnell, G.C.B., who 
distinguished himself when lieut.-col. in the 
guards, by the bravery with which he held the 
buildings of Hougomont, at the battle of 
Waterloo, was third son of Duncan Mac 
donnell, Esq. of Glengarry. He was born at 
the family seat, Inverness-shire, and died May 
15, 1857. 

Colonel Alexander Eanaldson Macdonnell of 
Glengarry, who, in January 1822, married 
Eebecca, second daughter of Sir William Forbes 
of Pitsligo, baronet, was the last genuine 
specimen of a Highland chief. His character 
in its more favourable features was drawn by 
Sir Walter Scott, in his romance of Waverley, 
as Fergus Maclvor. He always wore the 
dress and adhered to the style of living of his 
ancestors, and when aAvay from home in any 
of the Highland towns, he was followed by a 
body of retainers, who were regularly posted 
as sentinels at his door. He revived the 
claims of his family to the chiefship of the 
Macdonalds, styling himself also of Clanranald. 

In January 1828 he perished in endeavouring 
to escape from a steamer which had gone 
ashore. As his estate was very much mort 
gaged and encumbered, his son was compelled 
to dispose of it, and to emigrate to Australia, 
with his family and clan. The estate was 
purchased by the Marquis of Huntly from the 
chief, and in 1840 it was sold to Lord Ward 
(Earl of Dudley, Feb. 13, I860,) for 91,000. 
In 1860 his lordship sold it to Edward Ellice, 
Esq. of Glenquoich, for 120,000. 

The principal families descended from the 
house of Glengarry, were the Macdonnells 
of Barrisdale, in Knoydart, Greenfield, and 

The strength of the Macdonalds has at all 
times been considerable. In 1427, the Mac 
donnells of Garmoran and Lochaber mustered 
2000 men; in 1715, the whole clan furnished 
2820; and in 1 745, 2330. In a memorial drawn 
up by President Forbes of Culloden, and trans 
mitted to the government soon after the insur 
rection in 1745, the force of every clan is de 
tailed, according to the best information which 
the author of the report could procure at the 
time. This enumeration, which proceeds upon 
the supposition that the chieftain calculated on 
the military services of the youthful, the most 
hardy, and the bravest of his followers, omit 
ting those who, from advanced age, tender 
years, or natural debility, were unabie to carry 
arms, gives the following statement of the 
respective forces of the different branches of 
the Macdonalds : 

Macdonald of Sleat, 
Macdoiiald of Clanranald, 
Macdonell of Glengarry, . 
Macdonell of Keppoch, . 
Macdonald of Glencoe, . 

In all, 



Next to the Campbells, therefore, who could 
muster about 5000 men, the Macdonalds were 
by far the most numerous and powerful clan 
in the Highlands of Scotland. 

" The clans or septs," says Mr Smibert, 3 
" sprung from the Macdonalds, or adhering to 
and incorporated with that family, though 
bearing subsidiary names, were very numerous. 

1 Clans, 29. 



One point peculiarly marks the Gael of the 
coasts, as this great connection has already 
been called, and that is the device of a Lym- 
phad or old-fashioned Oared Galley, assumed 
and borne in their arms It indicates strongly 
a common origin and site. The Macdonalds, 
Maclachlans, Macdougals, Macneils, Macleans, 
and Campbells, as well as the Macphersons, 
Mackintoshes, and others, carry, and have always 
carried, such a galley in their armorial shields. 
Some families of Macdonald descent do not 
bear it ; and indeed, at most, it simply proves 
a common coast origin, or an early location 
by the western lochs and lakes." 


The Macdougalls Bruce s adventures with the Mac- 
dougalls of Lorn The Brooch of Lorn The Stewarts 
acquire Lorn Macdougalls of Raray, Gallanach, 
and Scraba Macalisters Siol Gillevray Macneills 
Partly of Norse descent Two branches of Barra 
and Gigha Sea exploits of the former Ruari the 
Turbulent s two families Gigha Macneills Mac 
neills of Gullochallie, Carskeay, and Tirfergus 
The chiefship Macneills of Colonsay Maclauch- 
lans Kindred to the Lamonds and MacEwens of 
Otter Present representative Castle Lachlan 
Force of the clan Cadets MacEwens Macdougall 
Campbells of Craignish Policy of Argyll Camp 
bells Lamonds Massacred by the Campbells 
The laird of Lamond and MacGregor of Glenstrae. 


BADGE. Cypress ; according to others, Bell Heath. 

THE next clan that demands our notice is that 
of the Macdougalls, Macdugalls, Macdovals, 
Macdowalls, for in all these ways is the name 
spelled. The clan derives its descent from 

Dugall, who Avas the eldest son of Somerled, 
the common ancestor of the clan Donald; 
and it has hitherto been supposed, that Alex 
ander de Ergadia, the undoubted ancestor of 
the clan Dugall, who first appears in the year 
1284, was the son of Ewen de Ergadia, who 
figured so prominently at the period of the 
cession of the Isles. This opinion, however, 
Mr Skene conceives to be erroneous ; first, 
because Ewen would seem to have died with 
out leaving male issue ; and, secondly, because 
it is contradicted by the manuscript of 1450, 
which states that the clan Dugall, as well as 
the clan Eory and the clan Donald, sprung 
not from Ewen, but from Eanald, the son of 
Somerled, through his son Dugall, from whom 
indeed they derived their name. Mr Smibert s 
remarks, however, on this point are deserving 
of attention. " It seems very evident," he 
says, " that they formed one of the primitive 
branches of the roving or stranger tribes of 
visitants to Scotland of the Irish, or at least 
Celtic race. Their mere name puts the fact 
almost beyond doubt. It also distinguishes 
them clearly from the Norsemen of the Western 
Isles, who were always styled I ion-galls, that 
is, Fair Strangers (Hovers, or Pirates). The 
common account of the origin of the Mac 
dougalls is, that they sprung from a son or 
grandson of Somerled, of the name of Dougal. 
But though a single chieftain of that appel 
lation may have flourished in the primitive 
periods of Gaelic story, it appears most pro 
bable, from many circumstances, that the clan 
derived their name from their descent and 
character generally. They were Dhu-Galls, 
black strangers. The son or grandson of 
Somerled, who is said to have specially founded 
the Macdougall clan, lived in the 12th cen 
tury. In the IcJth, however, they were nume 
rous and strong enough to oppose Bruce, and 
it is therefore out of the question to suppose 
that the descendant of Somerled could do 
more than consolidate or collect an already 
existing tribe, even if it is to be admitted as 
taking from him its name." 4 

The first appearance which this family makes 
in history is at the convention which was held 
in the year 1284. In the list of those who 

4 Clans, 44, 45. 



attended on that occasion, we iind the name of 
Alexander de Ergadia, whose presence was 
probably the consequence of his holding his 
lands by a crown charter; but from this period 
we lose sight of him entirely, until the reign of 
Robert Bruce, when the strenuous opposition 
offered by the Lord of Lorn and by his son 
John to the succession of that king, restored 
his name to history, in connection with that 
of Bruce. Alister having married the third 
daughter of the Red Comyn, whom Bruce 
slew in the Dominican church at Dumfries, 
became the mortal enemy of the king; and, 
upon more than one occasion, during the early 
part of his reign, succeeded in reducing him to 
the greatest straits. 

Bruce, after his defeat at Methven, on the 
19th of June 1306, withdrew to the moun 
tainous parts of Breadalbane, and approached 
the borders of Argyleshire. His followers did 
not exceed three hundred men, who, dis 
heartened by defeat, and exhausted by pri 
vation, were not in a condition to encounter a 
superior force. In this situation, however, he 
was attacked by Macdougall of Lorn, at the 
head of a thousand men, part of whom were 
Macnabs, who had joined the party of John 
Baliol ; and, after a severe conflict, he was 
compelled to abandon the field. In the re 
treat from Dalree, where the battle had been 
fought, the king was hotly pursued, and 
especially by three of the clansmen of Lorn, 
probably personal attendants or henchmen of 
the Macdougalls, who appear to have resolved 
to slay the Bruce or die. These followed the 
retreating party, and when King Robert en 
tered a narrow pass, threw themselves sud 
denly upon him. The king turning hastily 
round, cleft the skull of one with his battle- 
axe. " The second had grasped the stirrup, 
and Robert fixed and held him there by press 
ing down his foot, so that the captive was 
dragged along the ground as if chained to the 
horse. In the meantime, the third assailant 
had sprung from the hillside to the back of the 
horse, and sat behind the king. The latter 
turned half round and forced the Highlander 
forward to the front of the saddle, where he 
clave the head to the harns. The second 
assailant was still hanging by the stirrup, and 
Robert now struck at him vigorously, and 

slew him at the first blow." Whether the 
story is true or not, and it is by no means 
improbable, it shows the reputation for gigantic 
strength which the doughty Bruce had in his 
day. It is said to have been in this contest 
that the king lost the magnificent brooch, since 
famous as the " brooch of Lorn." This highly- 
prized trophy was long preserved as a remark 
able relic in the family of Macdougall of 
Dunolly, and after having been carried off 
during the siege of Dunolly Castle, the family 
residence, it was, about forty years ago, again 
restored to the family. 5 In his day of adver 
sity the Macdougalls were the most per 
severing and dangerous of all King Robert s 

But the time for retribution at length arrived. 
When Robert Bruce had firmly established him 
self on the throne of Scotland, one of the first 
objects to which he directed Ms attention, was 
to crush his old enemies the Macdougalls, 6 and 
to revenge the many injuries he had suffered 
at their hands. With this view, he marched 
into Argyleshire, determined to lay waste the 
country, and take possession of Lorn. On 
advancing, he fotmd John of Lorn and his 
followers posted in a formidable defile between 
Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe, which it seemed 
impossible to force, and almost hopeless to 
turn. But having sent a party to ascend the 
mountain, gain the heights, and threaten the 

5 Mr Smibert (Clans, p. 46) thus describes this 
interesting relic : "That ornament, as observed, is 
silver, and consists of a circular plate, about four 
inches in diameter, having a tongue like that of a 
common buckle on the under side. The upper side is 
magnificently ornamented. First, from the margin 
rises a neatly-formed rim, with hollows cut in the 
edge at certain distances, like the embrasures in an 
embattled wall. From a circle within this rim rise 
eight round tapering obelisks, about an inch and a 
quarter high, finely cut, and each studded at top with 
a river pearl. Within this circle of obelisks there is 
a second rim, also ornamented with carved work, and 
within which rises a neat circular case, occupying the 
whole centre of the brooch, and slightly overtopping 
the obelisks. The exterior of this case, instead of 
forming a plain circle, projects into eight semi- 
cylinders, which relieve it from all appearance of 
heaviness. The upper part is likewise carved very 
elegantly, and in the centre there is a large gem. 
This case may be taken off, and within there is a 
hollow, which might have contained any small articles 
upon which a particular value was set." 

6 In referring to this incident in the first part of 
this work (p. 63), the name " Stewart " (which had 
crept into the old edition) was allowed to remain in 
stead of that of "Macdougall." The Stewarts did 
not possess Lorn till some years after. 



enemy s rear, Bruce immediately attacked them 
in front, with, the utmost fury. For a time 
the Macdougalls sustained the onset bravely ; 
but at length, perceiving themselves in danger 
of being assailed in the rear, as well as the 
front, and thus completely isolated in the defile, 
they betook themselves to flight. Unable to 
escape from the mountain gorge, they were 
slaughtered without mercy, and by this reverse, 
their power was completely broken. Bruce 
then laid waste Argyleshire, besieged and took 
the castle of Dunstaffnage, and received the 
submission of Alister of Lorn, the father of 
John, who now fled to England. Alister was 
allowed to retain the district of Lorn : but the 
rest of his possessions were forfeited and given 
to Angus of Isla, who had all along remained 
faithful to the king s interests. 

When John of Lorn arrived as a fugitive in 
England, King Edward was making prepara 
tions for that expedition, which terminated 
in the ever-memorable battle of Bannock- 
burn. John was received with open arms, 
appointed to the command of the English 
fleet, and ordered to sail for Scotland, in 
order to co-operate with the land forces. But 
the total defeat and dispersion of the latter 
soon afterwards confirmed Bruce in possession 
of the throne ; and being relieved from the 
apprehension of any further aggression on the 
part of the English kings he resolved to lose no 
time in driving the Lord of Lorn from the Isles, 
where he had made his appearance with the fleet 
under his command. Accordingly, on his 
return from Ireland, whither he had accom 
panied his brother Edward, he directed his 
course towards the Isles, and having arrived 
at Tarbet, is said to have caused his galleys 
to be dragged over the isthmus which con 
nects Kintyre and Knapdale. This bold pro 
ceeding was crowned with success. The Eng 
lish fleet was surprised and dispersed ; and its 
commander having been made prisoner, was 
sent to Dumbarton, and afterwards to Loch- 
leven, where he was detained in confinement 
during the remainder of King Eobert s reign. 

In the early part of the reign of David 
II., John s son, John or Ewen, married a 
grand-daughter of Eobert Bruce, and through 
her not only recovered the ancient possessions 

of his family, but even obtained a grant of the 

property of Glenlyon. These extensive ter 
ritories, however, were not destined to remain 
long in the family. Ewen died without male 
issue ; and his two daughters having married, 
the one John Stewart of Innermeath, and the 
other his brother Eobert Stewart, an arrange 
ment was entered into between these parties, 
in virtue of which the descendants of John 
Stewart acquired the whole of the Lorn posses 
sions, with the exception of the castle of 
Dunolly and its dependencies, which remained 
to the other branch of the family ; and thus 
terminated the power of this branch of the 
descendants of Somerled. The chieftainship 
of the clan now descended to the family of 
Dunolly, which continued to enjoy the small 
portion which remained to them of their an 
cient possessions until the year 1715, when 
the representative of the family incurred the 
penalty of forfeiture for his accession to the 
insurrection of that period ; thus, by a singular 
contrast of circumstances, " losing the remains 
of his inheritanace to replace upon the throne 
the descendants of those princes, whose acces 
sion his ancestors had opposed at the expense 
of their feudal grandeur." The estate, how 
ever, was restored to the family in 1745, as a 
reward for their not having taken any part in 
the more formidable rebellion of that year. 
In President Forbes s Eeport on the strength 
of the clans, the force of the Macdougalls is 
estimated at 200 men. 

The Macdougalls of Earay, represented by 
Macdougall of Ardencaple, were a branch of 
the house of Lorn. The principal cadets of 
the family of Donolly were those of Gallanach 
and Soraba. The Macdougalls still hold pos 
sessions in Galloway, where, however, they 
usually style themselves Macdowall. 


A clan at one time of considerable importance, 
claiming connection with the great clan Donald, 
is the Macalisters, or MacAlesters, formerly in 
habiting the south of Knapdale, and the north 
of Kintyre in Argyleshire. They are traced to 
Alister or Alexander, a son of Angus Mor, of 
the clan Donald. Exposed to the encroach 
ments of the Campbells, their principal pos 
sessions became, ere long, absorbed by dif 
ferent branches of that powerful clan. The 



chief of this sept of the Macdonalds is Somer- 
ville MacAk-ster of Loup in Kintyre, and 
Kennox in Ayrshire. In 1805 Charles 
Somerville MacAlester, Esq. of Loup, assumed 
the name and arms of Somerville in addition 
to his own, in right of his wife, Janet Somer 
ville, inheritrix of the entailed estate of 
Kennox, whom he had married in 1792. 

From their descent from Alexander, eldest 
son of Angus Mor, Lord of the Isles and 
Kintyre in 1284, the grandson of Somerled, 
thane of Argyle, the MacAlesters claim to be 
the representatives, after MacDonell of Glen 
garry, of the ancient Lords of the Isles, 
as heirs male of Donald, grandson of Somerled. 
After the forfeiture of the Lords of the 
Isles in 1493, the MacAlesters became so 
numerous as to form a separate and independent 
clan. At that period their chief was named 
John or Ian Dubh, whose residence was at 
Ard Phadriuc or Ardpatrick in South Knap- 
dale. One of the family, Charles MacAlester, 
is mentioned as steward of Kintyre in 1481. 

Alexander MacAlester was one of those 
Highland chieftains who were held responsible, 
by the act " called the Black Band," passed 
in 1587, for the peaceable behaviour of their 
clansmen and the "broken men" who lived 
on their lands. He died when his son, Godfrey 
or Gorrie MacAlester, was yet under age. 

In 1618 the laird of Loup was named one 
of the twenty barons and gentlemen of the 
shire of Argyle who were made responsible for 
the good rule of the earldom during Argyll s 
absence. He married Margaret, daughter of 
Colin Campbell of Kilberry, and though, as a 
vassal of the Marquis of Argyll, he took no 
part in the wars of the Marquis of Montrose, 
many of his clan fought on the side of the 

The principal cadet of the family of Loup 
was MacAlester of Tarbert. There is also 
MacAlister of Glenbarr, county of Argyle. 


Under the head of the Siol or clan Gillevray, 
Mr Skene gives other three clans said by the 
genealogists to have been descended from the 
family of Somerled, and included by Mr Skene 
under the Gallgael. The three clans are those 
of the Macneills, the Maclauchlans, and the 

Macewens. According to the MS. of 1450, 
the Siol Gillevray are descended from a certain 
Gillebride, surnamed King of the Isles, who 
lived in the 12th century, and who derived 
his descent from a brother of Suibne, the 
ancestor of the Macdonalds, who was slain in 
the year 1034. Even Mr Skene, however, 
doubts the genealogy by which this Gillebrido 
is derived from an ancestor of the Macdonalds 
in the beginning of the llth century, but 
nevertheless, the traditionary affinity which is 
thus shown to have existed between these clans 
and the race of Somerled at so early a period, 
he thinks seems to countenance the notion that 
they had all originally sprung from the same 
stock. The original seat of this race appears 
to have been in Lochaber. On the conquest 
of Argyle by Alexander II., they were involved 
in the ruin which overtook all the adherents 
of Somerled ; with the exception of the Mac 
neills, who consented to hold their lands of the 
crown, and the Maclauchlans, who regained 
their former comsequence by means of mar 
riage with an heiress of the Lamonds. After 
the breaking up of the clan, the other branches 
appear to have followed, as their chief, Mac- 
dougall Campbell of Craignish, the head of a 
family, which is descended from the kindred 
race of Maclnnes of Ardgour. 


BADGE. Sea Ware. 

The Macneills consisted of two independent 
branches, the Macneills of Barra and the 
Macneills of Gigha, said to be descended from 
brothers. Their badge was the sea ware, but 



they had different armorial bearings, and from 
this circumstance, joined to the fact that they 
were often opposed to each other in the clan 
fights of the period, and that the Christian 
names of the one, with the exception of Neill, 
were not used by the other, Mr Gregory thinks 
the tradition of their common descent erroneous. 
Part of their possessions were completely sepa 
rated, and situated at a considerable distance 
from the rest. 

The clan Neill were among the secondary 
vassal tribes of the lords of the Isles, and its 
heads appear to have been of Norse or Danish 
origin. Mr Smibert thinks this probable from 
the fact that the Macneills were lords of Castle 
Swen, plainly a Norse term. "The clan," he 
says, 7 " was in any case largely Gaelic, to a 
certainty. We speak of the fundamental line 
of the chiefs mainly, when we say that the 
Macneills appear to have at least shared the 
blood of the old Scandinavian inhabitants of 
the western islands. The names of those of 
the race first found in history are partly 
indicative of such a lineage. The isle of 
Barra and certain lands in Uist were chartered 
to a Macneill in 1427 ; and in 1472, a charter 
of the Macdonald family is witnessed by 
Hector Mactorquil Macneill, keeper of Castle 
Swen. The appellation Mac-Torquil, half 
Gaelic, half Norse, speaks strongly in favour 
of the supposition that the two races were at 
this very time in the act of blending with one 
people. After all, we proceed not beyond the 
conclusion, that, by heirs male or heirs female, 
the founders of the house possessed a sprinkling 
of the blood of the ancient Norwegian occu 
pants of the western isles and coasts, inter 
fused with that of the native Gael of Albyn, 
and also of the Celtic visitants from Ireland. 
The proportion of Celtic blood, beyond doubt, 
is far the largest in the veins of the clan 

About the beginning of the 15th century, 
the Macneills were a considerable clan in 
Knapdale, Argyleshire. As this district was 
not then included in the sheriffdom of Argyle, 
it is probable that their ancestor had consented 
to hold his lands of the crown. 

The first of the family on record 


7 Clans, p. 84. 

Nigellus Og, who obtained from Robert Bruce 
a charter of Barra and some lands in Kin- 
tyre. His great-grandson, Gilleonan Eoderick 
Muchard Macneill, in 1427, received from 
Alexander, Lord of the Isles, a charter of 
that island. In the same charter Avere in 
cluded the lands of Boisdale in South Uist, 
Avhich lies about eight miles distant from 
Barra. With John Garve Maclean he dis 
puted the possession of that island, and was 
killed by him in Coll. His grandson, Gil 
leonan, took part with John, the old Lord of 
the Isles, against his turbulent son, Angus, 
and fought on his side at the battle of Bloody 
Bay. He Avas chief of this sept or division of 
the Macneills in 1493, at the forfeiture of 
the lordship of the Isles. 

The Gigha Macneills are supposed to have 
sprung from Torquil Macneill, designated in 
his charter, " filius Nigelli," Avho, in the early 
part of the 15th century, received from the 
Lord of the Isles a charter of the lands of 
Gigha and Taynish, Avith the constabulary of 
Castle Sweyn, in Knapdale. He had two 
sons, Neill his heir, and Hector, ancestor of 
the family of Taynish. Malcolm Macneill of 
Gigha, the son of Neill, who is first mentioned 
in 1478, AA r as chief of this sept of the Mac 
neills in 1493. After that period the Gigha 
branch folloAved the banner of Macdonald of 
Isla and Kintyre, Avhile the Barra Macneills 
ranged themselves under that of Maclean of 

In 1545 Gilliganan. Macneill of Barra AA r as 
one of the barons and council of the Isles Avho 
accompanied Donald Dubh, styling himself 
Lord of the Isles and Earl of Eoss, to Ireland, 
to sAvear allegiance to the king of England. 
His elder son, Eoderick or Euari Macneill, 
was killed at the battle of Glenlivet, by a 
shot from a fieldpiece, on 3d Oct. 1594. He 
left three sons Eoderick, his heir, called 
Euari the turbulent, John, and Murdo. Dur 
ing the memorable and most disastrous feud 
which happened between the Macleans and 
the Macdonalds at this period, the Barra Mac 
neills and the Gigha branch of the same clar 
fought on different sides. 

The Macneills of Barra Avere expert seamen, 
and did not scruple to act as pirates upon 
occasion. An English ship having been 



seized off the island of Barra by Ruari the 
turbulent, Queen Elizabeth complained of this 
act of piracy. The laird of Barra was in con 
sequence summoned to appear at Edinburgh, 
to answer for his conduct, but he treated the 
summons with contempt. All the attempts 
made to apprehend him proving unsuccessful, 
Mackenzie, tutor of Kintail, undertook to effect 
his capture by a stratagem frequently put in 
practice against the island chiefs when sus 
pecting no hostile design. Under the pre 
tence of a friendly visit, he arrived at Mac- 
neill s castle of Chisamul (pronounced Kisimul), 
the ruins of which stand on an insulated rock 
in Castlebay, on the south-east end of Barra, 
and invited him and all his attendants on 
board his vessel. There they were well plied 
with liquor, until they were all overpowered 
with it. The chief s followers were then sent 
on shore, while he himself was carried a pri 
soner to Edinburgh. Being put upon his trial, 
he confessed his seizure of the English ship, 
but pleaded in excuse that he thought himself 
bound by his loyalty to avenge, by every means 
in his power, the fate of his majesty s mother, 
so cruelly put to death by the queen of England. 
This politic answer procured his pardon, but 
his estate was forfeited, and given to the tutor 
of Kintail. The latter restored it to its owner, 
on condition of his holding it of him, and pay 
ing him sixty merks Scots, as a yearly feu duty. 
It had previously been held of the crown. 
Some time thereafter Sir James Macdonald of 
Sleat married a daughter of the tutor of Kin- 
tail, who made over the superiority to his 
son-in-law, and it is now possessed by Lord 
Macdonald, the representative of the house of 

The old chief of Barra, Ruari the turbulent, 
had several sons by a lady of the family of 
Maclean, Avith whom, according to an ancient 
practice in the Highlands, he had hand/Listed* 
instead of marrying her. He afterwards mar 
ried a sister of the captain of the Clanranald, 
and by her also he had sons. To exclude the 
senior family from the succession, the captain 
of the Clanranald took the part of his nephews, 
whom he declared to be the only legitimate 
sons of the Barra chief. Having apprehended 
the eldest son of the first family for having 
been concerned in the piratical seizure of a 

ship of Bourdeaux, he conveyed him to Edin 
burgh for trial, but he died there soon after. 
His brothers-german, in revenge, assisted by 
Maclean of Dowart, seized Neill Macneill, the 
eldest son of the second family, and sent him 
to Edinburgh, to be tried as an actor in the 
piracy of the same Bourde aux ship; and, 
thinking that their father was too partial to 
their half brothers, they also seized the old 
chief, and placed him in irons. JSTeill Mac 
neill, called "Weyislache, was found innocent, 
and liberated through the influence of his 
uncle. Barra s elder sons, on being charged 
to exhibit their father before the privy council, 
refused, on which they were proclaimed rebels, 
and commission was given to the captain of 
the Clanranald against them. In consequence 
of these proceedings, which occurred about 
1613, Clanranald was enabled to secure the 
peaceable succession of his nephew to the 
estate of Barra, on the death of his father, 
which happened soon after. 8 

The island of Barra and the adjacent isles 
are still possessed by the descendant and re 
presentative of the family of Macneill. Their 
feudal castle of Chisamul has been already 
mentioned. It is a building of hexagonal 
form, strongly built, with a wall above thirty 
feet high, and anchorage for small vessels 
on every side of it. Martin, who visited 
Barra in 1703, in his Description of the 
Western Islands, says that the Highland 
Chroniclers or sennachies alleged that the then 
chief of Barra was the 34th lineal descendant 
from the first Macneill who had held it. He 
relates that the inhabitants of this and the 
other islands belonging to Macneill were in the 
custom of applying to him for wives and hus 
bands, when he named the persons most suit 
able for them, and gave them a bottle of strong 
waters for the marriage feast. 

The chief of the Macneills of Gigha, in the 
first half of the 16th century, was Neill Mac 
neill, who was killed, with many gentlemen of 
his tribe, in 1530, in a feud with Allan Mac 
lean of Torlusk, called Alien nan Sop, brother 
of Maclean of Dowart. His only daughter, 
Annabella, made over the lands of Gigha to 
her natural brother, Neill. He sold Gigha to 

* Vol. II. p. 124. 

b Gregory s Highlands and Isles, p. 346. 



James Macdonald of Isla in 1554, and died 
without legitimate issue in the latter part of 
the reign of Queen Mary. 

On the extinction of the direct male line, 
Nei]l Macneill vie Eachan, who had obtained 
the lands of Taynish, became heir male of the 
family. His descendant, Hector Macneill of 
Taynish, purchased in 1590 the island of 
Gigha from John Campbell of Calder, who 
had acquired it from Macdonald of Isla, so 
that it again became the property of a Mac 
neill. The estates of Gigha and Taynish 
were possessed by his descendants till 1780, 
when the former was sold to Macneill of 
Colonsay, a cadet of the family. 

The representative of the male line of the 
Macneills of Taynish and Gigha, Roger 
Hamilton Macneill of Taynish, married Eliza 
beth, daughter and heiress of Hamilton Price, 
Esq. of Eaploch, Lanarkshire, with whom he 
got that estate, and assumed, in consequence, 
the name of Hamilton. His descendants are 
now designated of Eaploch. 

The principal cadets of the Gigha Macneills, 
besides the Taynish family, were those of 
Gallochallie, Carskeay, and Tirfergus. Tor- 
quil, a younger son of Lachlan Macneill Buy 
of Tirfergus, acquired the estate of Ugadale in 
Argyleshire, by marriage with the heiress of 
the Mackays in the end of the 17th century. 
The present proprietor spells his name Macrieal. 
From Malcolm Beg Macneill, celebrated in 
Highland tradition for his extraordinary 
prowess and great strength, son of John Oig 
Macneill of Gallochallie, in the reign of James 
VI., sprung the Macneills of Arichonan. 
Malcolm s only son, Neill Oig, had two sons, 
John, who succeeded him, and Donald Mac 
neill of Crerar, ancestor of the Macneills of 
Colonsay, now the possessors of Gigha. Many 
cadets of the Macneills of Gigha settled in the 
north of Ireland. 

Both branches of the clan Neill laid claim 
to the chiefship. According to tradition, it 
has belonged, since the middle of the 16th 
century, to the house of Barra. Under the 
date of 1550, a letter appears in the register 
of the privy council, addressed to " Torkill 
Macneill," chief and principal of the clan and 
surname of Macnelis." Mr Skene conjectures 
this Torkill to have been the hereditary keeper 

of Castle Sweyn, and connected with neither 
branch of the Macneills. He is said, hoAvever, 
to have been the brother of Neill Macneill of 
Gigha, killed in 1530, as above mentioned, 
and to have, on his brother s death, obtained 
a grant of the non-entries of Gigha as repre 
sentative of the family. If this be correct, 
according to the above designation, the chief- 
ship was in the Gigha line. Torquil appears 
to have died without leaving any direct suc 

The first of the family of Colonsay, Donald 
Macneill of Crerar, in South Knapdale, ex 
changed that estate in 1700, with the Duke of 
Argyll, for the islands of Colonsay and Oron- 
say. The old possessors of these two islands, 
which are only separated by a narrow sound, 
dry at low water, were the Macduffies or 
Macphies. Donald s great-grandson, Archi 
bald Macneill of Colonsay, sold that island to 
his cousin, John Macneill, who married Hester, 
daughter of Duncan Macneill of Dunmore, 
and had six sons. His eldest son, Alexander, 
younger of Colonsay, became the purchaser of 
Gigha. Two of his other sons, Duncan, Lord 
Colonsay, and Sir John Macneill, have dis 
tinguished themselves, the one as a lawyer and 
judge, and the other as a diplomatist. 


BADGE. Mountain Ash. 

Maclachlan, or Maclauchlan, is the name of 
another clan classified by Skene as belonging to 
the great race of the Siol Conn, and in the MS., 
so much valued by this writer, of 1450, the 
Maclachlans are traced to Gilchrist, a grand 
son of that Anradan or Henry, from whom all 



the clans of the Siol Gillevray are said to be 
descended. They possessed the barony of 
Strathlachlan in Cowal, and other extensive 
possessions in the parishes of Glassrie and 
Kilmartin, and on Loch Awe side, which Avere 
separated from the main seat of the family by 
Loch Fyne. 

They were one of those Gaelic tribes who 
adopted the oared galley for their special 
device, as indicative of their connection, 
either by residence or descent, with the Isles. 
An ancester of the family, Lachlan Mor, who 
lived in the 13th century, is described in the 
Gaelic MS. of 1450, as "son of Patrick, 
son of Gilchrist, son of De dalan, called the 
clumsy, son of Anradan, from whom are de 
scended also the clan Neill." 

By tradition the Maclachlans are said to 
have come from Ireland, their original stock 
being the O Loughlins of Meath. 

According to the Irish genealogies, the clan 
Lachlan, the Lamonds, and the MacEwens of 
Ottei, were kindred tribes, being descended 
from brothers who were sons of De dalan 
above referred to, and tradition relates that 
they took possession of the greater part of the 
district of Cowal, from Toward Point to 
Strachur at the same time ; the Lamonds 
being separated from the MacEwens by the 
river of Kilfinan, and the MacEwens -from the 
Maclachlans by the stream which separates the 
parishes of Kilfinan and Strath Lachlan. 
De dalan, the common ancestor of these 
families, is stated in ancient Irish genealogies 
to have been the grandson of Hugh Atlaman, 
the head of the great family of O Neils, kings 
of Ireland. 

About 1230, Gilchrist Maclachlan, who is 
mentioned in the manuscript of 1450 as chief 
of the family of Maclachlan at the time, is a 
witness to a charter of Kilfinan granted by 
Laumanus, ancestor of the Lamonds. 

In 1292, Gilleskel Maclachlan got a charter 
of his lands in Ergadia from Baliol. 

In a document preserved in the treasury of 
Her Majesty s Exchequer, entitled " Les peti 
tions de terre demandees en Escoce," there is 
the following entry, Item Gillescop Mac- 
loghlan ad demandi la Baronie de Molbryde 
juvene, apelle Strath, que fu pris contre le foi 
From this it appears that Gillespie 

Maclachlan was in possession of the lands 
still retained by the family, during the oc 
cupation of Scotland by Edward I. in 1296. 9 

In 1314, Archibald Maclachlan in Ergadia, 
granted to the Preaching Friars of Glasgow 
forty shillings to be paid yearly out of his 
lands of Kilbride, " juxta castrum meum quod 
dicitur Castellachlan." He died before 1322, 
and was succeeded by his brother Patrick. 
The latter married a daughter of James, 
Steward of Scotland, and had a son, Lachlan, 
who succeeded him. Lachlan s son, Donald, 
confirmed in 1456, the grant by his predecessor 
Archibald, to the Preaching Friars of Glasgow 
of forty shillings yearly out of the lands of 
Kilbride, with an additional annuity of six 
shillings and eightpence "from his lands of 
Kilbryde near Castellachlan." 1 

Lachlan, the 15th chief, dating from the 
time that written evidence can be adduced, 
was served heir to his father, 23d September 
1719. He married a daughter of Stewart of 
Appin, and was killed at Culloden, fighting 
on the side of Prince Charles. The 18th 
chief, his great-grandson, Eobert Maclachlan 
of Maclachlan, convener and one of the 
deputy-lieutenants of Argyleshire, married in 
1823, Helen, daughter of William A. Carruthers 
of Dormont, Dumfries-shire, without issue. 
His brother, the next heir, George Maclachlan, 
Esq., has three sons and a daughter. The 
family seat, Castle Lachlan, built about 1790, 
near the old and ruinous tower, formerly the 
residence of the chiefs, is situated in the 
centre of the family estate, which is eleven 
miles in length, and, on an average, a mile and 
a half in breadth, and stretches in one con 
tinued line along the eastern side of Loch 
Fyne. The effective force of the clan previous 
to the rebellion of 1745, was estimated at 300 
men. Their original seat, according to Mr Skene, 
appears to have been in Lochaber, where a 
very old branch of the family lias from the 
earliest period been settled as native men of 
the Camerons. 

In Argyleshire also are the families of 
Maclachlan of Craiginterve, Inchconnell, &c., 

9 See Sir Francis Palgrave s Scottish Documents, 
vol. i. p. 319. 

1 Munimenta Fratrum Prcdicatorum de (llasgu. 
Maitland Club. 



and in Stirlingshire, of Auchintroig. The 
Maclachlans of Drumblane in Monteith were 
of the Lochaber branch. 


Upon a rocky promontory situated on the 
coast of Lochfyne, may still be discerned the 
vestige of a building, called in Gaelic Chaistel 
Mhic Eobhuin, or the castle of MacEwen. 
In the Old Statistical Account of the parish 
of Kilfinnan, quoted by Skene, this MacEwen 
is described as the chief of a clan, and pro 
prietor of the northern division of the parish 
called Otter; and in the manuscript of 1450, 
which contains the genealogy of the Clan 
Eoglian na Hoitreic, or Clan Ewen of Otter, 
they are derived from Anradan, the common 
ancestor of the Maclauchlans and the Macneills. 
This family soon became extinct, and their 
property gave title to a branch of the Camp 
bells, by whom it appears to have been sub 
sequently acquired, though in what manner 
we have no means of ascertaining. 


Under the name of Siol Eachern are in 
cluded by Mr Skene the Macdougall Campbells 
of Craignish, and the Lamonds of Lamond, 
both very old clans in Argyleshire, and sup 
posed to have been originally of the same race. 


" The policy of the Argyll family," says Mr 
Skene, " led them to employ every means for 
the acquisition of property, and the extension 
of the clan. One of the arts which they used 
for the latter purpose was to compel those 
clans which had become dependant upon them 
to adopt the name of Campbell; and this, 
when successful, was generally followed at an 
after period, by the assertion that that clan 
was descended from the house of Argyll. In 
general, the clans thus adopted into the race 
of Campbell, are sufficiently marked out by 
their being promoted only to the honour of 
their being an illegitimate branch; but the 
tradition of the country invariably distin 
guishes between the real Campbells, and those 
who were compelled to adopt their name." Of 
the policy in question, the Campbells of Craig 
nish are said to have afforded a remarkable 

instance. According to the Argyll system, as 
here described, they are represented as the 
descendants of Dugall, an illegitimate son 
of a Campbell, who lived in the twelfth 
century. But the common belief amongst 
the people is, that their ancient name was 
MacEachern, and that they were of the same 
race with the Macdonalds ; nor are there 
wanting circumstances which seem to give 
countenance to this tradition. Their arms are 
charged with the galley of the Isles, from the 
mast of which depends a shield exhibiting 
some of the distinctive bearings of the Camp 
bells ; and, what is even more to the purpose, 
the manuscript of 1450 contains a genealogy 
of the MacEacherns, in which they are derived 
from a certain McoL MacMurdoch, who lived 
in the twelfth century. Besides, when the 
MacGillevrays and Maclans of Morvern and 
Ardgour were broken up and dispersed, many of 
their septs, although not resident on the pro 
perty of the Craignish family, acknowledged 
its head as their chief. But as the MacGille 
vrays and the Maclans were two branches of 
the same clan, which had separated as early as 
the twelfth century ; and as the MacEacherns 
appear to have been of the same race, Mur 
doch, the first of the clan, being contemporary 
with Murdoch the father of Gillebride, the 
ancestor of the Siol Gillevray; it may be con 
cluded that the Siol Eachern and the Maclans 
were of the same clan; and this is further 
confirmed by the circumstance, that there was 
an old family of MacEacherns which occupied 
Kingerloch, bordering on Ardgour, the ancient 
property of the Maclans. That branch of the 
Siol Eachern which settled at Craignish, were 
called Clan Dugall Craignish, and obtained, it 
is said, the property known by this name from 
the brother of Campbell of Lochow, in the 
reign of David II. 2 The lands of Colin Camp 
bell of Lochow having been forfeited in that 
reign, his brother, Gillespie Campbell, appears 
to have obtained a grant of them from the 

2 "Nisbet, that acute heraldist," says Smibert, 
"discovered an old seal of the family, on which the 
words are, as nearly as they can be made out, 8(igil- 
lum) Dugalli dc Craignisti, showing that the Camp 
bells of Craiguish were simply of the Dhu-GaH race. 
The seal is very old, though noticed only by its use 
in 1500. It has the grand mark upon it of the bear 
ings of all the Gael of the Western Coasts, namely, the 
Oared Galley." 



crown ; and it is not improbable that the clan 
Dugall Craignish acquired from the latter their 
right to the property of Craignish. After the 
restoration of the Lochow family, by the re 
moval of the forfeiture, that of Craignish were 
obliged to hold their lands, not of the crown 
but of the house of Argyll. Nevertheless, 
they continued for some time a considerable 
family, maintaining a sort of independence, 
until at length, yielding to the influence ot 
that policy which has already been described, 
they merged, like most of the neighbouring 
clans, in that powerful race by whom they 
were surrounded. 3 


. Crab- Apple Tree. 

It is an old and accredited tradition in the 
Highlands, that the Lamonds or Laments were 
the most ancient proprietors of Cowal, and 
that the Stewarts, Maclauchlans, and Campbells 
obtained possession of their property in that dis 
trict by marriage with daughters of the family. 
At an early period a very small part only of 
Cowal was included in the sheriffdom of Upper 
Argyle, the remainder being comprehended in 
that of Perth. It may, therefore, be presumed 
that, on the conquest of Argyle by Alexander 
LI., the lord of Lower Cowal had submitted 
to the king, and obtained a crown charter. 
But, in little more than half a century after 
that event, we find the High Steward in pos 
session of Lower Cowal, and the Maclauchlans 
in possession of Strathlachlan. It appears, 
indeed, that, in 1242, Alexander the High 

3 Skene s Highlanders. 

Steward of Scotland, married Jean, the daugh 
ter of James, son of Angus MacEory, who is 
styled Lord of Bute ; and, from the manuscript 
of 1450, we learn that, about the same period, 
Gilchrist Maclauchlan married the daughter of 
Lachlan MacEory ; from which it is probable 
that this Eoderic or Eory was the third indi 
vidual who obtained a crown charter for Lower 
Cowal, and that by these intermarriages the 
property passed from his family into the hands 
of the Stewarts and the Machlauchlans. The 
coincidence of these facts, with the tradition 
above-mentioned, would seem also to indicate 
that Angus MacEory was the ancestor of the 

After the marriage of the Steward with the 
heiress of Lamond, the next of that race of 
whom any mention is made is Duncan Mac 
Fercher, and "Laumanus," son of Malcolm, 
and grandson of the same Duncan, who appear 
to have granted to the monks of Paisley a 
charter of the lands of Kilmore, near Lochgilp, 
and also of the lands " which they and their 
predecessors held at Kilmun" (quas nos et ante- 
cessores nostri apud Kilmun habicerunt). In 
the same year, " Laumanus," the son of Mal- 
:olm, also granted a charter of the lands of 
Kilfinnan, which, in 1295, is confirmed by 
Malcolm, the son and heir of the late " Lau 
manus" (domini quondam Laumanis). But 
in an instrument, or deed, dated in 1466, be- 
;ween the monastery of Paisley and John 
Lamond of Lamond, regarding the lands of 
Kilfinan, it is expressly stated, that these 
lands had belonged to the ancestors of John 
Lamond; and hence, it is evident, that the 
" Laumanus," mentioned in the previous deed, 
must have been one of the number, if not 
indeed the chief and founder of the family. 
" From Laumanus," says Mr Skene, " the clan 
appear to have taken the name of Maclaman 
or Lamond, having previously to this time borne 
the name of Macerachar, and Clan Mhic 

The connection of this clan with that of 
Dugall Craignish, is indicated by the same 
circumstances which point out the connection 
of other branches of the tribe ; for whilst the 
Craignish family preserved its power it was 
followed by a great portion of the Clan Mhic 
Earachar, although it possessed no feudal right 



to their services. "There is one peculiarity 
connected with the Lamoncls," says Mr Skene, 
" that although "by no means a powerful clan, 
their genealogy can be proved by charters, at 
a time when most other Highland families are 
obliged to have recourse to tradition, and the 
genealogies of their ancient sennachies ; but 
their antiquity could not protect the Lamonds 
from the encroachments of the Campbells, by 
whom they were soon reduced to as small a 
portion of their original possessions in Lower 
Cowal, as the other Argyleshire clans had 
been of theirs." 4 The Lamonds were a clan of 
the same description as the Maclauchlans, 
and, like the latter, they have, notwithstanding 
"the encroachments of the Campbells," still 
retained a portion of their ancient possessions. 
The chief of this family is Lamond of Lamond. 
According to Nisbet, the clan Lamond were 
originally from Ireland, but whether they 
sprung from the Dalriadic colony, or from a 
still earlier race in Cowal, it is certain that 
they possessed, at a very early period, the 
superiority of the district. Their name con 
tinued to be the prevailing one till the middle 
of the 17th century. In June 1646, certain 
chiefs of the clan Campbell in the vicinity of 
Dunoon castle, determined upon obtaining the 
ascendency, took advantage of the feuds and 
disorders of the period, to wage a war of exter 
mination against the LSmonds. The massacre 
of the latter by the Campbells, that year, 
formed one of the charges against the Marquis 
of Argyll in 1661, although he does not seem 
to have been any party to it. 

An interesting tradition is recorded of one 
of the lairds of Lamond, who had unfortunately 
killed, in a sudden quarrel, the son of Mac- 
Gregor of Glenstrae, taking refuge in the house 
of the latter, and claiming his protection, 
which was readily granted, he being ignorant 
that he was the slayer of his son. On being 
informed, MacGregor escorted him in safety to 
his own people. "When the MacGregors were 
proscribed, and the aged chief of Glenstrae 
had become a wanderer, Lamond hastened to 
protect him and his family, and received them 
into his house. 


Robertsons or Clan Donnaehie Macfarlanes Camp 
bells of Argyll and offshoots Royal Marriage- 
Campbells of Breadalbane Macarthur Campbells of 
Strachur Campbells of Cawdor, Aberu chill, Ard- 
namurchan, Auchinbreck, Ardkinglass, Barcaldine, 
Dunstaifnage, Monzie The Macleods of Lewis and 
Harris Macleods of Rasay. 


4 Skene s Highlander*, vol. ii. part ii. chap. 4. 

BADGE. Fern or Brackens. 

BESIDES the clans already noticed, there are 
other two which, according to Skene, are set 
down by the genealogists as having originally 
belonged to the Gallgael or Celts of the 
Western Isles; these are the Robertsons or 
clan Donnachie, and the Macfarlanes. 

Tradition claims for the clan Donnachie a 
descent from the great sept of the Macdonalds, 
their remote ancestor being said to have been 
Duncan (hence the name Donnachie) the Eat, 
son of Angus Mor, Lord of the Isles, in the 
reign of William the Lion. Smibert thinks 
this is certainly the most feasible account of 
their origin. Skene, however, endeavours to 
trace their descent from Duncan, King of 
Scotland, eldest son of Malcolm III., their 
immediate ancestor, according to him, having 
been Conan, second son of Henry, fourth and 
last of the ancient Celtic Earls of Athole. 
This Conan, it is said, received from his father, 
in the reign of Alexander II., the lands of 
Generochy, afterwards called Strowan, in Gaelic 
StfuthantlasA is, streamy. Conan s great- 
grandson, Andrew, was styled of Athole, de 
Atholia, which was the uniform designation of 




the family, indicative, Mr Skene thinks, of 
their descent from the ancient Earls of Athole. 
According to the same authority, it was from 
Andrew s son, Duncan, that the clan derived 
their distinctive appellation of the clan Don 
na chie, or children of Duncan. Duncan is said 
to have been twice married, and acquired by 
both marriages considerable territory in the 
district of Kannoch. By his first wife he had 
a son, Robert de Atholia. 

As it is well known that Mr Skerie s Celtic 
prejudices are very strong, and as his deriva 
tion of the Robertsons from Duncan, king of 
Scotland, is to a great extent conjectural, it is 
only fair to give the other side of the question, 
viz., the probability of their derivation from 
the Celts of the Western Isles. We shall take 
the liberty of quoting here Mr Smibert s judi 
cious and acute remarks on this point. " There 
unquestionably exist doubts about the deriva 
tion of the Robertsons from the Macdonalds ; 
but the fact of their acquiring large possessions 
at so early a period in Athole, seems to be 
decisive of their descent from some great and 
strong house among the Western Celts. And 
what house was more able so to endow its 
scions than that of Somerled, whose heads 
were the kings of the west of Scotland 1 The 
Somerled or Macdonald power, moreover, ex 
tended into Athole beyond all question ; and, 
indeed, it may be said to have been almost the 
sole power which could so have planted there 
one of its offshoots, apart from the regal autho 
rity. Accordingly, though Duncan may not 
have been the son of Angus Mor (Macdonald), 
a natural son of the Lord of the Isles, as has 
been commonly averred, it by no means follows 
that the family were not of the Macdonald race. 
The proof may be difficult, but probability 
must be accepted in its stead. An opposite 
course has been too long followed on all sides. 
Why should men conceal from themselves the 
plain fact that the times under consideration 
were barbarous, and that their annals were 
necessarily left to us, not by the pen of the 
accurate historian, but by the dealers in song 
and tradition?" 

Referring to the stress laid by Mr Skene 
upon the designation tie At holla, which was 
uniformly assumed by the Robertsons, Mr 
Smibert remarks," In the first place, the 

designation De Atholia can really be held to 
prove nothing, since, as in the case of De 
Insulis, such phrases often pointed to mere 
residence, and were especially used in reference 
to large districts. A gentleman of Athole is 
not necessarily connected with the Duke ; and, 
as we now use such phrases without any meaning 
of that kind, much more natural was the cus 
tom of old, when general localities alone were 
known generally. In the second place, are the 
Robertsons made more purely Gaelic, for such 
is partly the object in the view of Mr Skene, 
by being traced to the ancient Athole house 1 
That the first lords of the line were Celts may 
be admitted ; but heiresses again and again 
interrupted the male succession. While one 
wedded a certain Thomas of London, another 
found a mate in a person named David de 
Hastings. These strictly English names speak 
for themselves ; and it was by the Hastings 
marriage, which took place shortly after the 
year 1200, that the first house of Athole was 
continued. It is clear, therefore, that the sup 
position of the descent of the Robertsons from 
the first lords of Athole leaves them still of 
largely mingled blood Norman, Saxon, and 
Gaelic. Such is the result, even when the 
conjecture is admitted. 

As a Lowland neighbourhood gave to the 
race of Robert, son of Duncan, the name 
of Robertson, so would it also intermingle 
their race and blood with those of the Low 
landers." 3 

It is from the grandson of Robert of Athole, 
also named Robert, that the clan Donnachie 
derive their name of Robertson. This Robert 
was noted for his predatory incursions into the 
LoAvlands, and is historically known as the 
chief who arrested and delivered up to the 
vengeance of the government Robert Graham 
and the Master of Athole, two of the murderers 
of James I., for which he was rewarded with 
a crown charter, dated in 1451, erecting his 
whole lands into a free barony. He also re 
ceived the honourable augmentation to his 
arms of a naked man manacled under the 
achievement, with the motto, Virtutis gloria 
merces. He was mortally wounded in the 
head near the village of Auchtergaven in a 

5 Smibert s Clans, pp. 77, 78. 



conflict with Robert Forrester of Torwood, 
with whom he had a dispute regarding the 
lands of Little Dunkeld. Binding up his head 
with a white cloth, he rode to Perth, and ob 
tained from the king a new grant of the lands 
of Strowan. On his return home, he died of 
Ids wounds. He had three sons, Alexander, 
Robert, and Patrick. Robert, the second son, 
was the ancestor of the Earls of Portmore, a 
title now extinct. 

The eldest son, Alexander, was twice mar- 
ried, his sons becoming progenitors of various 
families of Robertsons. He died in, or shortly 
prior to, 1507, and was succeeded by his grand 
son, William. This chief had some dispute 
with the Earl of Athole concerning the marches 
of their estates, and was killed by a party of 
the earl s followers, in 1530. Taking advan 
tage of a wadset or mortgage which he held 
over the lands of Strowan, the earl seized 
nearly the half of the family estate, which the 
Robertsons could never again recover. Wil 
liam s son, Robert, had two sons William, 
Avho died without issue, and Donald, who 
succeeded him. 

Donald s grandson, llth laird of Strowan, 
died in 1636, leaving an infant son, Alexander, 
in whose minority the government of the clan 
devolved upon his uncle, Donald. Devoted 
to the cause of Charles I., the latter raised a 
regiment of his name and followers, and was 
with the Marquis of Montrose in all his battles. 
After the Restoration, the king settled a pen 
sion upon him. 

His nephew, Alexander Robertson of StroAv- 
an, was twice married. By his second wife, 
Marion, daughter of General Baillie of Letham, 
he had two sons and one daughter, and died in 
1688. Duncan, the second son by the second 
marriage, served in Russia, with distinction, 
under Peter the Great. 

Alexander, the elder son of the second mar 
riage, was the celebrated Jacobite chief and 
poet. Born about 1670, he was destined for 
the church, and sent to the university of St 
Andrews ; but his father and brother by the 
first marriage dying within a few months of 
each other, he succeeded to the family estate 
and the chiefship in 1688. Soon after, he 
joined the Viscount Dundee, when he appeared 
in arms in the Highlands for the cause of King 

James ; but though he does not appear to have 
been at Killiecrankie, and was still under age, 
he was, for his share in this rising, attainted 
by a decreet of parliament in absence in 1690, 
and his estates forfeited to the cro\vn. He 
retired, in consequence, to the court of the 
exiled monarch at St Germains, where he lived 
for several years, and served one or two cam 
paigns in the French army. In 1703, Queen 
Anne granted him a remission, when he re 
turned to Scotland, and resided unmolested 011 
his estates, but neglecting to get the remission 
passed the seals, the forfeiture of 1690 was 
never legally repealed. With about 500 of 
his clan he joined the Earl of Mar in 1715, 
and was taken prisoner at the battle of Sheriff- 
muir, but rescued. Soon after, however, he 
fell into the hands of a party of soldiers in the 
Highlands, and was ordered to be conducted 
to Edinburgh ; but, with the assistance of his 
sister, he contrived to escape on the way, when 
he again took refuge in France. In 1723, 
the estate of Strowan Avas granted by the 
government to Margaret, the chief s sister, by 
a charter under the great seal, and in 1726 she 
disponed the same in trust for the behoof of 
her brother, substituting, in the event of his 
death Avithout laAvful heirs of his body, Dun 
can, son of Alexander Robertson of Druma- 
chune, her father s cousin, and the next laAvful 
heir male of the family. Margaret died un 
married in 1727. Her brother had returned 
to Scotland the previous year, and obtaining 
in 1731 a remission for his life, took possession 
of his estate. In 1745 he once more "mar 
shalled his clan" in behalf of the Stuarts, but 
his age preventing him from personally taking 
any active part in the rebellion, his name Avas 
passed over in the list of proscriptions that 
folloAved. He died in his OAvn house of 
Carie, in Rannoch, April 18, 1749, in his 
81st year, Avithout lawful issue, and in him 
ended the direct male line. A volume of 
his poems was published after his death. 
An edition Avas reprinted at Edinburgh in 
1785, 12mo, containing also the "History 
and Martial Achievements of the Robertsons 
of StroAA T an." He is said to have formed 
the prototype of the Baron of Bradwardine in 
" Waverley." 

The portion, of the original estate of StroAvan 



which remained devolved upon Duncan Robert 
son of Drumachune, a property which his 
great-grandfather, Duncan Mor (who died in 
1687), brother of Donald the tutor, had 
acquired from the Athole family. As, how 
ever, his name was not included in the last 
act of indemnity passed by the government, he 
was dispossessed of the estate in 1752, when 
he and his family retired to France. His son, 
Colonel Alexander Robertson, obtained a resti 
tution of Strowan in 1784, and died, unmar 
ried, in 1822. Duncan Mor s second son, 
Donald, had a son, called Robert Bane, whose 
grandson, Alexander Robertson, now succeeded 
to the estate. 

The son of the latter, Major-general George 
Duncan Robertson of Strowan, C.B., passed 
upwards of thirty years in active service, and 
received the cross of the Imperial Austrian 
order of Leopold. He was succeeded by his 
son, George Duncan Robertson, born 26th 
July 1816, at one time an officer in the 42d 

The force which the Robertsons could bring 
into the field was estimated at 800 in 1715, 
and 700 in 1745. 

Of the branches of the family, the Robert 
sons of Lude, in Blair-Athole, are the oldest, 
being of contemporary antiquity to that of 

Patrick de Atholia, eldest son of the second 
marriage of Duncan de Atholia, received from 
his father, at his death, about 1358, the lands 
of Lude. He is mentioned in 1391, by Wyn- 
toun (Book ii. p. 367) as one of the chieftains 
and leaders of the clan. He had, with a 
daughter, married to Donald, son of Farquhar, 
ancestor of the Farquharsons of Invercauld, two 
sons, Donald and Alexander. The latter, 
known by the name of Rua or Red, from the 
colour of his hair, acquired the estate of Stra- 
loch, for which he had a charter from James 
II. in 1451, and was ancestor of the Robert 
sons of Straloch, Perthshire. His descend 
ants were called the Barons Rua. The last 
of the Barons Rua, or Red, was Alexander 
Robertson of Straloch, who died about the 
end of the last century, leaving an only son, 
John, who adopted the old family soubriquet, 
and called himself Reid (probably hoping to 
be recognised as the chief of the Reids). John 

Reid entered the army, where he rose to the 
rank of General, and died in 1803, leaving the 
reversion of his fortune (amounting to about 
70,000) for the endowment of a chair of 
music, and other purposes, in the Univer 
sity of Edinburgh. This ancient family is 
represented by Sir Archibald Ava Campbell, 

Donald, the elder son, succeeded his father. 
He resigned his lands of Lude into the king s 
hand on February 7, 1447, but died before he 
could receive his infeftment. He had two 
sons : John, who got the charter under the 
great seal, dated March 31, 1448, erecting the 
lands of Lude into a barony, proceeding on 
his father s resignation ; and Donald, who got 
as his patrimony the lands of Strathgarry. 
This branch of Lude ended in an heiress, 
who married an illegitimate son of Stewart 
of Invermeath. About 1700, Strathgarry 
was sold to another family of the name of 

The Robertsons of Inshes, Inverness-shire, 
are descended from Duncan, second son of 
Duncan de Atholia, dominus de Ranagh, above 

The Robertsons of Kindeace descend from 
William Robertson, third son of John, ances 
tor of the Robertsons of the Inshes, by his 
wife, a daughter oi Fearn of Pitcullen. He 
obtained from his father, in patrimony, several 
lands about Inverness, and having acquired 
great riches as a merchant, purchased, in 
1615, the lands of Orkney, ISTairnshire, and 
in 1639, those of Kindeace, Ross-shire; 
the latter becoming the chief title of the 

The Robertsons of Kinlochmoidart, In 
verness-shire, are descended from John 
Robertson of Muirton, Elginshire, second 
son of Alexander Robertson of Strowan, by 
his wife, Lady Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl 
of Athole. 

The fifth in succession, the Rev. William 
Robertson, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, 
was father of Principal Robertson, and of 
Mary, who married the Rev. James Syme, and 
had an only child, Eleonora, mother of Henry, 
Lord Brougham. The Principal had three 
sons and two daughters. 




BADGE. Cloudberry bush. 

Of the clan Macfarlane, Mr Skene gives 
the best account, and we shall therefore take the 
liberty of availing ourselves of his researches. 
According to him, with the exception of the 
clan Donnachie, the clan Parian or Pharlan is 
the only one, the descent of which from the 
ancient earls of the district where their posses 
sions were situated, may be established by the 
authority of a charter. It appears, indeed, 
that the ancestor of this clan was Gilchrist, 
the brother of Maldowen or Malduin, the third 
Earl of Lennox. This is proved by a charter 
of Maldowen, still extant, by which he gives 
to his brother Gilchrist a grant " de terris de 
superiori Arrochar de Luss;" and these lands, 
which continued in possession of the clan 
until the death of the last chief, have at all 
times constituted their principal inheritance. 

But although the descent of the clan from 
the Earls of Lennox be thus established, the 
origin of their ancestors is by no means so 
easily settled. Of all the native earls of Scot 
land, those of this district alone have had a 
foreign origin assigned to them, though, appa 
rently, without any sufficient reason. The 
first Earl of Lennox who appears on record is 
Aluin comes de Levenox, who lived in the early 
part of the 13th century; and there is some 
reason to believe that from this Aluin the 
later Earls of Lennox were descended. It is, 
no doubt, impossible to determine now who 
this Aluin really was ; but, in the absence of 
direct authority, we gather from tradition that 
the heads of the family of Lennox, before 

being raised to the peerage, were hereditary 
seneschals of Strathearn, and bailies of the 
Abthanery of Dull, in A thole. Aluin was 
succeeded by a son of the same name, who 
is frequently mentioned in the chartularies 
of Lennox and Paisley, and who died before 
the year 1225. In Donald, the sixth earl, 
the male branch of the family became ex 
tinct. Margaret, the daughter of Donald, 
married Walter de Fassalane, the heir male 
of the family; but this alliance failed to ac 
complish the objects intended by it, or, in 
other words, to preserve the honours and power 
of the house of Lennox. Their son Duncan, 
the eighth earl, had no male issue ; and his 
eldest daughter Isabella, having married Sir 
Murdoch Stuart, the eldest son of the Re 
gent, he and his family became involved in 
the ruin which overwhelmed the unfortunate 
house of Albany. At the death of Isabella, 
in 1460, the earldom was claimed by three 
families ; but that of Stewart of Darnley even 
tually overcame all opposition, and acquired 
the title and estates of Lennox. Their acces 
sion took place in the year 1488; upon which 
the clans that had been formerly united with the 
earls of the old stock separated themselves, 
and became independent. 

Of these clans the principal was that of the 
Macfarlanes, the descendants, as has already 
been stated, of Gilchrist, a younger brother of 
Maldowen, Earl of Lennox. In the Lennox 
charters, several of which he appears to have 
subscribed as a witness, this Gilchrist is gene 
rally designated as frater comitis, or brother 
of the earl. His son Duncan also obtained a 
charter of his lands from the Earl of Lennox, 
and appears in the Ragman s roll under the 
title of " Duncan Macgilchrist de Levenaghes." 
From a grandson of this Duncan, who was 
called in Gaelic Parian, or Bartholomew, the 
clan appears to have taken the surname of 
Macfarlane ; indeed the connection of Parian 
both with Duncan and with Gilchrist is clearly 
established by a charter granted to Malcolm 
Macfarlane, the son of Parian, confirming to 
him the lands of Arrochar and others; and 
hence Malcolm may be considered as the real 
founder of the clan. He was succeeded by 
his son Duncan, who obtained from the Earl 
of Lennox a charter of the lands of Arrochar 


as ample in its provisions as any that had been 
granted to his predecessors; and married a 
daughter of Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, as 
appears from a charter of confirmation granted 
in his favour by Duncan, Earl of Lennox. 
Not long after his death, however, the ancient 
line of the Earls of Lennox became extinct ; 
and the Macfarlanes having claimed the earl 
dom as heirs male, offered a strenuous opposi 
tion to the superior pretensions of the feudal 
heirs. Their resistance, however, proved alike 
unsuccessful and disastrous. The family of 
the chief perished in defence of what they 
believed to be their just rights ; the clan also 
suffered severely, and of those who survived 
the struggle, the greater part took refuge in 
remote parts of the country. Their destruc 
tion, indeed, would have been inevitable, but 
for the opportune support given by a gentle 
man of the clan to the Darnley family. This 
was Andrew Macfarlane, who, having married 
the daughter of John Stewart, Lord Darnley 
and Earl of Lennox, to whom his assistance 
had been of great moment at a time of diffi 
culty, saved the rest of the clan, and recovered 
the greater part of their hereditary possessions. 
The fortunate individual in question, however, 
though the good genius of the race, does not 
appear to have possessed any other title to the 
chiefship than what he derived from his posi 
tion, and the circumstance of his being the 
only person in a condition to afford them pro 
tection ; in fact, the clan refused him the title 
of chief, which they appear to have considered 
as incommunicable, except in the right line ; 
and his son, Sir John Macfarlane, accordingly 
contented himself with assuming the secondary 
or subordinate designation of captain of the 


Erom this time, the Macfarlanes appear to 
have on all occasions supported the Earls of 
Lennox of the Stewart race, and to have also 
followed their banner in the field. For several 
generations, however, their history as a clan 
is almost an entire blank ; indeed, they appear 
to have merged into mere retainers of the 
powerful family, under whose protection they 
enjoyed undisturbed possession of their here 
ditary domains. But in the sixteenth century 
Duncan Macfarlane of Macfarlane appears as a 
steady supporter of Matthew, Earl of Lennox. 

At the head of three hundred men of his own 
name, he joined Lennox and Glencairn in 
1544, and was present witli his followers at 
the battle of Glasgow-Muir, where he shared 
the defeat of the party he supported. He was 
also involved in the forfeiture which followed 
but having powerful friends, his property was, 
through their intercession, restored, and he 
obtained a remission under the privy seal 
The loss of this battle forced Lennox to retire 
to England ; whence, having married a niece 
of Henry YIIL, he soon afterwards returned 
with a considerable force which the English 
monarch had placed under his command. The 
chief of Macfarlane durst not venture to join 
Lennox in person, being probably restrained 
by the terror of another forfeiture ; but, acting 
on the usual Scottish policy of that time, he 
sent his relative, Walter Macfarlane of Tarbet, 
with four hundred men, to reinforce his friend 
and patron ; and this body, according to Holin- 
shed, did most excellent service, acting at once 
as light troops and as guides to the main body. 
Duncan, however, did not always conduct 
himself with equal caution ; for he is said to 
have fallen in the fatal battle of Pinkie, in 
1547, on which occasion also a great number 
of his clan perished. 

Andrew, the son of Duncan, as bold, active, 
and adventurous as his sire, engaged in the 
civil wars of the period, and, what is more 
remarkable, took a prominent part on the side 
of the Eegent Murray ; thus acting in opposi 
tion to almost all the other Highland chiefs, 
who were warmly attached to the cause of the 
queen. He was present at the battle of Lang- 
side with a body of his followers, and there 
" stood the Eegent s part in great stead ;" for, 
in the hottest of the fight, he came up with 
three hundred of his friends and countrymen, 
and falling fiercely on the flank of the queen s 
army, threw them into irretrievable disorder, 
and thus mainly contributed to decide the for 
tune of the day. The clan boast of having 
taken at this battle three of Queen Mary s 
standards, which, they say, were preserved for 
a long time in the family. Macfarlane s reward 
was not such as afforded any great cause for 
admiring the munificence of the Kegent ; but 
that his vanity at least might be conciliated, 
Murray bestowed upon him the crest of a 



demi-savage proper, holding in his dexter hand 
a sheaf of arrows, and pointing with his sinister 
to an imperial crown, or, with the motto, This 
I ll defend. Of the son of this chief nothing 
is known ; hut his grandson, Walter Macfar- 
lane, returning to the natural feelings of a 
Highlander, proved himself as sturdy a cham 
pion of the royal party as his grandfather had 
been an uncompromising opponent and enemy. 
During Cromwell s time, he was twice besieged 
in his own house, and his castle of Inveruglas 
was afterwards burned down by the English. 
But nothing could shake his fidelity to his 
party. Though his personal losses in adhering 
to the royal cause were of a much more sub 
stantial kind than his grandfather s reward in 
opposing it, yet his zeal was not cooled by 
adversity, nor his ardour abated by the ven 
geance which it drew down on his head. 

Although a small clan, the Macfarlanes 
were as turbulent and predatory in their way 
as their neighbours the Macgregors. By the 
Act of the Estates of 1587 they were declared 
to be one of the clans for whom the chief was 
made responsible ; by another act passed in 
1594, they were denounced as being in the 
habit of committing theft, robbery, and op 
pression ; and in July 1624 many of the clan 
were tried and convicted of theft and robbery. 
Some of them were punished, some pardoned ; 
while others were removed to the highlands of 
Aberdeenshire, and to Strathaven in Banffshire, 
where they assumed the names of Stewart, 
M Caudy, Greisock, M James, and M Innes. 

Of one eminent member of the clan, the 
following notice is taken by Mr Skene in his 
work on the Highlands of Scotland. He says, 
" It is impossible to conclude this sketch of 
the history of the Macfarlanes without alluding 
to the eminent antiquary, "Walter Macfarlane 
of that ilk, who is as celebrated among histo 
rians as the indefatigable collector of the an 
cient records of the country, as his ancestors 
had been among the other Highland chiefs for 
their prowess in the field. The family itself, 
however, is now nearly extinct, after having 
held their original lands for a period of six 
hundred years." 

Of the lairds of Macfarlane there have been 
no fewer than twenty-three. The last of them 
went to North America in the early part of 

the 18th century. A branch of the family 
settled in Ireland in the reign of James VII., 
and the headship of the clan, is claimed by 
its representative, Macfarlane of Hunstown 
House, in the county of Dublin. The descen 
dants of the ancient chiefs cannot now be 
traced, and the lands once possessed by them 
have passed into other hands. 

Under the head of Garmoran, Mr Skene, 
following the genealogists, includes two western 
clans, viz., those of Campbell and Macleod. 
We shall, however, depart from Mr Skene s 
order, and notice these two important clans 
here, while treating of the clans of the 
western coasts and isles. Mr Skene, 6 on very 
shadowy grounds, endeavours to make out that 
there must have been an ancient earldom of 
Garmoran, situated between north and south 
Argyle, and including, besides the districts of 
Knoydart, Morar, Arisaig, and Moydart (form 
ing a late lordship of Garmoran), the districts 
of Gleuelg, Ardnamurchan, and Morvern. 
He allows, however, that " at no period 
embraced by the records do we discover Gar 
moran as an efficient earldom." As to this, Mr 
E. W. Eobertson 7 remarks that "the same 
objection maybe raised against the earldom of 
Garmoran which is urged against the earldom 
of the Merns, the total silence of history 
respecting it." 


BADGE Myrtle. 

The name CAMPBELL is undoubtedly one of 
considerable antiquity, and the clan has long 

Highlanders, ii. 266. 
7 Early Kings, i. 75. 



been one of the most numerous and powerful 
in the Highlands, although many families 
have adopted the name who have no connec 
tion with the Campbells proper by blood or 
descent. The Argyll family became latterly 
so powerful, that many smaller clans were 
absorbed in it voluntarily or compulsorily, and 
assumed in course of time its peculiar designa 
tion. The origin of the name, as well as of 
the founder of the family, remains still a matter 
of the greatest doubt. The attempt to deduce 
the family from the half-mythical King Arthur, 
of course, is mere trifling. 

The name is by some stated to have been de 
rived from a Norman knight, named de Campo 
Bello, who came to England with William the 
Conqueror. As respects the latter part of the 
statement, it is to be observed that in the list 
of all the knights who composed the army of 
the Conqueror on the occasion of his invasion 
of England, and which is known by the name 
of the Roll of Battle-Abbey, the name of 
Campo Bello is not to be found. But it does 
not follow, as recent writers have assumed, 
that a knight of that name may not have come 
over to England at a later period, either of his 
reign or that of his successors. 

It has been alleged, in opposition to this 
account, that in the oldest form of writing the 
name, it is spelled Cambel or Kambel, and it 
is so found in many ancient documents ; but 
these were written by parties not acquainted 
with the individuals whose name they record, 
as in the manuscript account of the battle of 
Halidon Hill, by an unknown English writer, 
preserved in the British Museum; in the Bag 
man s Roll, which was compiled by an English 
clerk, and in Wyntoun s Chronicle. There is 
no evidence, however, that at any period it 
was written by any of the family otherwise 
than as Campbell, notwithstanding the extra 
ordinary diversity that occurs in the spelling 
of other names by their holders, as shown by 
Lord Lindsay in the account of his clan ; and 
the invariable employment of the letter ^ by 
the Campbells themselves would be of itself 
a strong argument for the southern origin of 
the name, did there not exist, in the record 
of the parliament of Robert Bruce held in 
1320, the name of the then head of the family, 
entered as Sir Nigel de Campo Bello. 

The writers, however, who attempt to sus 
tain the fabulous tales of the sennachies, assign 
a very different origin to the name. It is 
personal, say they, " like that of some others 
of the Highland clans, being composed of the 
words cam, bent or arched, and beul, mouth ; 
this having been the most prominent feature 
of the great ancestor of the clan, Diarmid 
O Dubin or O Duin, a brave warrior celebrated 
in traditional story, who was contemporary 
with the heroes of Ossian. In the Gaelic lan 
guage his descendants are called Siol Diarmid, 
the offspring or race of Diarmid." 

Besides the manifest improbability of this 
origin on other grounds, two considerations 
may be adverted to, each of them conclusive : 
First, It is known to all who have examined 
ancient genealogies, that among the Celtic 
races personal distinctives never have become 
hereditary. Malcolm C anmore, Donald Bane. 
Rob Boy, or Evan Dim, were, with many 
other names, distinctive of personal qualities, 
but none of them descended, or could do so, 
to the children of those who acquired them. 

Secondly, It is no less clear that, until after 
what is called the Saxon Conquest had been 
completely effected, no hereditary surnames 
were in use among the Celts of Scotland, nor 
by the chiefs of Norwegian descent who 
governed in Argyll and the Isles. This cir 
cumstance is pointed out by Tytler in his 
remarks upon the early population of Scot 
land, in the second volume of the History of 
Scotland. The domestic slaves attached to the 
possessions of the church and of the barons 
have their genealogies engrossed in ancient 
charters of conveyances and confirmation copied 
by him. The names are all Celtic, but in no 
one instance does the son, even when bearing 
a second or distinctive name, follow that of 
his father. 

Skene, who maintains the purely native 
origin of the Campbell, does so in the follow 
ing remarks : 

"We have shown it to be invariably the 
case, that when a clan claims a foreign origin, 
and accounts for their possession of the chief- 
ship and property of the clan by a marriage 
with the heiress of the old proprietors, they 
can be proved to be in reality a cadet of that 
older house who had usurped the chiefship. 



while their claim to the chiefship is disputed 
by an acknowledged descendant of that older 
house. To this rule the Campbells are no 
exceptions, for while the tale upon which they 
found a Norman descent is exactly parallel to 
those of the other clans in the same situation, 
the most ancient manuscript genealogies deduce 
them in the male line from that very family of 
O Duin, whose heiress they are said to have 
married, and the Macarthur Campbells, of 
Strachur, the acknowledged descendants of the 
older house, they have at all times disputed 
the chiefship with the Argyll family. Judging 
from analogy, we are compelled to admit that 
the Campbells of Strachur must formerly have 
been chiefs of the clan, and that the usual 
causes in such cases have operated to reduce 
the Strachur family, and to place that of 
Argyll in that situation, and this is confirmed 
by the early history of the clan." 

We shall take the liberty of quoting here 
some ingenious speculations on the origin of 
the name and the founder of the clan, from 
the pen of a gentleman, a member of the 
clan, who, for several years, has devoted his 
leisure to the investigation of the subject, 
and has placed the results of his researches 
at our disposal. He declares that the name 
itself is the most inflexible name in Scotland. 
In all old documents, he says, in which it 
occurs, either written by a Campbell, or under 
his direction, it is spelled always Campbell, or 
Campo-Bello ; and its southern origin he be 
lieves is past question. It has always seemed 
to him to have been the name of some Roman, 
who, after his countrymen retired from Britain, 
had settled among the Britons of Strath-Clyde. 
" I am not one," he continues, " of those 
who suppose that the fortunes of Campbell 
depended entirely on the patrimony of his 
wife. As a family who had been long in the 
country, the chief of the name (it is improbable 
that he was then the sole owner of that name, 
although his family is alone known to history), 
as a soldier, high in his sovereign s favour, 
was likely to have possessed lands in Argyle 
before his marriage took place. Men of mark 
were then necessary to keep these rather wild 
and outlandish districts in subjection, and 
only men high in royal favour were likely to 

have that trust, a trust likely to be so well 

rewarded, that its holder would be an eligible 
match for the heiress of Paul In-Sporran. 

"It is also quite likely that Eva O Duin 
was a king s ward, and on that account her 
hand would be in the king s gift ; and who so 
likely to receive it as a trusted knight, con 
nected with the district, and one whose loyalty 
was unquestioned] 

" Again, we put little stress on the Celtic 
origin of the name, from the crooked mouth of 
the first chief, as if from earn, bent or crooked, 
and beiil, mouth. No doubt this etymology is 
purely fanciful, and may have been invented 
by some one anxious to prove the purely 
Celtic origin of the family ; but this seems 
really unnecessary, as a Celtic residence, Celtic 
alliances, and Celtic associations for nearly 
800 years, is a Celtic antiquity in an almost 
unbroken line such as few families are able to 
boast of; indeed, no clan can boast of purer 
Celtic blood than the Campbells, and their 
present chief." 

The conclusion which, we think, any un 
prejudiced reader must come to, is, that the 
question of the origin of the Campbells cannot, 
until further light be thrown upon it, be 
determined with certainty at the present 
day. It is possible that the story of the 
genealogists may be true; they declare that 
the predecessors of the Argyll 8 family, on the 
female side, were possessors of Lochow or Loch- 
awe in Argyleshire, as early as 404 A.D. Of this, 
however, there is no proof worthy of the name. 
The first of the race who comes prominently 
into notice is one Archibald (also called Gil- 
lespie) Campbell, as likely as not, we think, 
to be a gentleman of Anglo-Norman lineage, 
who lived in the llth century. He acquired 
the lordship of Lochow, or Lochawe, by mar 
riage with Eva, daughter and heiress of Paul 
O Duin, Lord of Lochow, denominated Paul 
Insporran, from his being the king s treasurer. 
Another Gillespic is the first of the house 
mentioned in authentic history, his name oc 
curring as a witness of the charter of the lands 
of the burgh of Newburgh by Alexander III. 
in 1246. 

* In March 1870, the present Duke, in answer to 
inquiries, wrote to the papers stating that he spells 
his name Argyll, because it has been spelled so by 
his ancestors for generations past. 




Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, the real 
founder of the family, sixth in descent from 
the first Gillespic, distinguished himself by his 
warlike actions, and was knighted by King 
Alexander the Third in 1280. He added 
largely to his estates, and on account of his 
great prowess he obtained the surname of Mohr 
or More (" great") ; from him the chief of the 
Argyll family is in Gaelic styled Mac Chaillan 

More. 9 

Sir Colin Campbell had a quarrel with a 
powerful neighbour of his, the Lord of Lorn, 
and after he had defeated him, pursuing the 
victory too eagerly, was slain (in 1294) at a 
place called the String of Cowal, where a 
great obelisk was erected over his grave. This 
is said to have occasioned bitter feuds betwixt 
the houses of Lochow and Lorn for a long 
period of years, which were put an end to by 
the marriage of the daughter of the Celtic 
proprietor of Lorn, with John Stewart of 
Innermeath about 1386. Sir Colin married 
a lady of the name of Sinclair, by whom he 
had five sons. 

Sir Mel Campbell of Lochow, his eldest 
son, swore fealty to Edward the First, but 
afterwards joined Eobert the Bruce, and fought 
by his side in almost every encounter, from 
the defeat at Methven to the victory at Ban- 
nockburn. King Robert rewarded his services 
by giving him his sister, the Lady Mary Bruce, 
in marriage, and conferring on him the lands 
forfeited by the Earl of Athole. His next 
brother Donald was the progenitor of the 
Campbells of London. By his wife Sir Mel 
had three sons, Sir Colin ; John, created Earl 
of Athole, upon the forfeiture of David de 
Strathbogie, the eleventh earl ; and Dugal. 

Sir Colin, the eldest son, obtained a charter 
from his uncle, King Eobert Bruce, of the 
lands of Lochow and Artornish, dated at Ar- 
broath, 10th February 1316, in which he is de 
signated Colinus filius Nigclli Cambel, militis. 
As a reward for assisting the Steward of Scot 
land in 1334 in the recovery of the castle of 
Dunoon, in Cowal, Sir Colin was made here 
ditary governor of the castle, and had the 

" This, through the mis-spelling, intentional or un 
intentional, of Sir Walter Scott, is often popularly 
corrupted into Maccallum More, which, of course, is 
wrong, as the great or big ancestor s name was Colin, 
not Callum. 

grant of certain lands for the support of his 
dignity. Sir Colin died about 1340. By his 
wife, a daughter of the house of Lennox, he 
had three sons and a daughter. 

The eldest son, Sir Gillespic or Archibald, 
who added largely to the family possessions, 
was twice married, and had three sons, Duncan, 
Colin, and David, and a daughter, married to 
Duncan Macfarlane of Arrochar. Colin, the 
second son, was designed of Ardkinglass, and 
of his family, the Campbells of Ardentinny, 
Dunoon, Carrick, Skipnish, Blythswood, Shaw- 
field, Eachan, Auchwillan, and Dergachie are 

Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochow, the eldest 
son, was one of the hostages in 1424, under 
the name of Duncan, Lord of Argyll, for the 
payment of the sum of forty thousand pounds 
(equivalent to four hundred thousand pounds 
of our money), for the expense of King James 
the First s maintenance during his long im 
prisonment in England, when Sir Duncan was 
found to be worth fifteen hundred merks a-year. 
He was the first of the family to assume the 
designation of Argyll. By King James he 
was appointed one of his privy council, and 
constituted his justiciary and lieutenant within 
the shire of Argyll. He became a lord of 
parliament in 1445, under the title of Lord 
Campbell. He died in 1453, and was buried 
at Kilmun. He married, first, Marjory or 
Mariota Stewart, daughter of Eobert Duke of 
Albany, governor of Scotland, by whom he had 
three sons, Celestine, who died before him ; 
Archibald, who also predeceased him, but left 
a son; and Colin, who was the first of Glenorchy, 
and ancestor of the Breadalbane family. Sir 
Duncan married, secondly, Margaret, daughter 
of Sir John Stewart of Blackball and Auchin- 
gown, natural son of Eobert the Third, by 
whom also he had three sons, namely, Dun 
can, who, according to Crawford, was the an 
cestor of the house of Auchinbreck, of whom 
are the Campbells of Glencardel, Glensaddel, 
Kildurkland, Kilmorie, Wester Keams, Kil- 
berry, and Dana ; Mel, progenitor, according 
to Crawford, of the Campbells of Ellengreig 
and Ormaclale ; and Arthur or Archibald, an 
cestor of the Campbells of Ottar, now extinct. 
According to some authorities, the Campbells 
of Auchinbreck and their cadets, also Ellen- 



greig and Ormadale, descend from this the 
youngest son, and not from his hrothers. 

The first Lord Campbell was succeeded by 
his grandson Colin, the son of his second son 
Archibald. He acquired part of the lordship 
of Campbell in the parish of Dollar, 1 by mar 
rying the eldest of the three daughters of 
John Stewart, third Lord of Lorn and Inner- 
meath. He did not, as is generally stated, 
acquire by this marriage any part of the lord 
ship of Lorn (which passed to Walter, brother 
of John, the fourth Lord Innermeath, and heir 
of entail), but obtained that lordship by ex 
changing the lands of Baldunning and Inner- 
dunning, &c., in Perthshire, with the said 
Walter. In 1457 he was created Earl of 
Argyll. In 1470 he was created baron of 
Lorn, and in 1481 he received a grant of many 
lands in Knapdale, along with the keeping of 
Castle Sweyn, which had previously been held 
by the Lord of the Isles. He died in 1493. 

By Isabel Stewart, his wife, eldest daughter 
of John, Lord of Lorn, the first Earl of Argyll 
had two sons and seven daughters. Archibald, 
his elder son, became second earl, and Thomas, 
the younger, was the ancestor of the Campbells 
of Lundie, in Forfarshire. Another daughter 
was married to Torquil Macleod of the Lewis. 
Archibald, second Earl of Argyll, suceeeded 
his father in 1493. In 1499 he and others 
received a commission from the king to let 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. He also 
received a commission of lieutenancy, with 
the fullest powers, over the lordship of the 
Isles ; and, some months later, was appointed 
keeper of the castle of Tarbert, and bailie and 
governor of the king s lands in Knapdale. 
From this period the great power formerly en 
joyed by the Earls of Eoss, Lords of the Isles, 
was transferred to the Earls of Argyll and 
Huntly ; the former having the chief rule in 

1 In 1489, by an act of the Scottish parliament, the 
name of Castle Gloom, its former designation, was 
changed to Castle Campbell. It continued to be the 
frequent and favourite residence of the family till 
1G44, when it was burnt down by the Macleans in the 
army of the Marquis of Montrose. The castle and 
lordship of Castle Campbell remained in the posses 
sion of the Argyll family till 1808, when it was sold. 

the south isles and adjacent coasts. At the 
fatal battle of Flodden, 9th September 1513, 
his lordship and his brother-in-law, the Earl of 
Lennox, commanded the right wing of the 
royal army, and with King James the 
Fourth, were both killed. By his wife, 
Lady Elizabeth Stewart, eldest daughter of 
John, first Earl of Lennox, he had four sons 
and five daughters. His eldest son, Colin, was 
the third Earl of Argyll. Archibald, his second 
son, had a charter of the lands of Skipnish, 
and the keeping of the castle thereof, 13th 
August 1511. His family ended in an heir- 
female in the reign of Mary. Sir John Camp 
bell, the third son, at first styled of Lorn, and 
afterwards of Calder, married Muriella, daugh 
ter and heiress of Sir John Calder of Calder, 
now Cawdor, near Nairn. 

According to tradition, she was captured in 
childhood by Sir John Campbell and a party 
of the Campbells, while out with her nurse 
near Calder castle. Her uncles pursued and 
overtook the division of the Campbells to 
whose care she had been intrusted, and would 
have rescued her but for the presence of mind 
of Campbell of Inverliver, Avho, seeing their 
approach, inverted a large camp kettle as if to 
conceal her, and commanding his seven sons 
to defend it to the death, hurried on with his 
prize. The young men were all slain, and 
when the Calders lifted up the kettle, no 
Muriel was there. Meanwhile so much time 
had been gained that farther pursuit was use 
less. The nurse, just before the child was 
seized, bit off a joint of her little finger, in 
order to mark her identity a precaution which 
seems to have been necessary, from Campbell 
of Auchinbreck s reply to ono who, in the 
midst of their congratulations on arriving 
safely in Argyll with their charge, asked what 
was to be done should the child die before she 

was marriageable ] " She can never die," said 
he, " as long as a red-haired lassie can be found 
on either side of Lochawe !" It would appear 
that the heiress of the Calders had red hair. 

Colin Campbell, the third Earl of Argyll, 
was, immediately after his accession to the 
earldom, appointed by the council to assemble 
an army and proceed against Lauchlan Mac 
lean of Dowart, and other Highland chief 
tains, who had broken out into insurrection, 



and proclaimed Sir Donald of Lochalsh Lord 
of the Isles. Owing to the powerful in 
fluence of Argyll, the insurgents submitted 
to the regent, after strong measures had been 
adopted against them. In 1517 Sir Donald 
of Lochalsh again appeared in arms, but being 
deserted by his principal leaders, he effected 
his escape. Soon after, on his petition, he re 
ceived a commission of lieutenancy over all the 
Isles and adjacent mainland. 

For some years the Isles had continued at 
peace, and Argyll employed this interval in 
extending his influence among the chiefs, and 
in promoting the aggrandisement of his family 
and clan, being assisted thereto by his brothers, 
Sir John Campbell of Calder, so designed after 
his marriage with the heiress, and Archibald 
Campbell of Skipnish. The former was parti 
cularly active. In 1527 an event occurred, 
which forms the groundwork of Joanna 
Baillie s celebrated tragedy of "The Family 
Legend." It is thus related by Gregory :- 
"Lauchlan Cattanach Maclean of Dowart 
had married Lady Elizabeth Campbell, 
daughter of Archibald, second Earl of Argyll, 
and, either from the circumstance of their 
union being unfruitful, or more probably 
owing to some domestic quarrels, he de 
termined to get rid of his wife. Some ac 
counts say that she had twice attempted her 
husband s life; but, whatever the cause may 
have been, Maclean, following the advice of 
two of his vassals, who exercised a considerable 
influence over him from the tie of fosterage, 
caused his lady to be exposed on a rock, which 
was only visible at low water, intending that 
she should be swept away by the return of the 
tide. This rock lies between the island of 
Lismore and the coast of Mull, and is still 
known by the name of the Lady s Rock. 
From this perilous situation the intended victim 
was rescued by a boat accidentally passing, 
and conveyed to her brother s house. Her 
relations, although much exasperated against 
Maclean, smothered their resentment for a 
time, but only to break out afterwards with 
greater violence ; for the laird of Dowart being 
in Edinburgh, was surprised when in bed, and 
assassinated by Sir John Campbell of Calder, 
the lady s brother. The Macleans instantly 
took arms to revenge the death of their chief, 

and the Campbells were not slow in preparing 
to follow up the feud; but the government 
interfered, arid, for the present, an appeal to 
arms was avoided." 2 

On the escape of the king, then in his seven 
teenth year, from the power of the Douglases, 
in May 1528, Argyll was one of the first to 
join his majesty at Stirling. Argyll after 
wards received an ample confirmation of the 
hereditary sheriifship of Argyleshire and of 
the offices of justiciary of Scotland and master 
of the household, by which these offices be 
came hereditary in his family. He had the 
commission of justice-general of Scotland re 
newed 25th October 1529. He died in 1530. 
By his countess, Lady Jane Gordon, eldest 
daughter of Alexander, third Earl of Huntly, 
the third Earl of Argyll had three sons and a 
daughter. His sons were, Archibald, fourth 
Earl of Argyll ; John, ancestor of the Camp 
bells of Lochnell, of which house the Camp 
bells of Balerno and Stonefield are cadets; 
and Alexander, dean of Moray. 

Archibald, the fourth Earl of Argyll, was, 
on his accession to the title in 1530, appointed 
to all the offices held by the two preceding 
earls. A suspicion being entertained by some 
of the members of the privy council, which 
is said to have been shared in by the king 
himself, that many of the disturbances in the 
Isles were secretly fomented by the Argyll 
family, that they might obtain possession of 
the estates forfeited by the chiefs thus driven 
into rebellion, and an opportunity soon pre 
senting itself, the king eagerly availed himself 
of it, to curb the increasing power of the Earl 
of Argyll in that remote portion of the king 
dom. Alexander of Isla, being summoned to 
answer certain charges of Argyll, made his 
appearance at once, and gave in to the council 
a written statement, in which, among other 
things, he stated that the disturbed state of 
the Isles was mainly caused by the late Earl 
of Argyll and his brothers, Sir John Camp 
bell of Calder, and Archibald Campbell of 
Skipnish. The king made such an examination 
into the complaints of the islanders as satisfied 
him that the family of Argyll had been acting 
more for their own benefit than for the welfare 

8 Highlands cmd Isles of Scotland, p. 128. 



of the country, and the earl was summoned 
before his sovereign, to give an account of 
the duties and rental of the Isles received by 
him, the result of which was that James com 
mitted him to prison soon after his arrival at 
court. He was soon liberated, but James was 
so much displeased with his conduct that he 
deprived him of the offices he still held in the 
Isles, some of which were bestowed on Alex 
ander of Isla, whom he had accused. After 
the death of James the Fifth he appears to 
have regained his authority over the Isles. 
He was the first of the Scotcli nobles who 
embraced the principles of the Reformation, 
and employed as his domestic chaplain Mr 
John Douglas, a converted Carmelite friar, 
who preached publicly in his house. The 
Archbishop of St Andrews, in a letter to the 
earl, endeavoured to induce him to dismiss 
Douglas, and return to the Romish church, 
but in vain, and on his death-bed he recom 
mended the support of the new doctrines, and 
the suppression of Popish superstitions, to his 
son. He died in August 1558. He was twice 
married. By his first wife, Lady Helen Hamil 
ton, eldest daughter of James, first Earl of 
Arran, he had a son, Archibald, fifth Earl of 
Argyll. His second wife was Lady Mary 
Graham, only daughter of William, third Earl 
of Menteith, by whom he had Colin, sixth 
earl, and two daughters. 

Archibald, fifth Earl of Argyll, was educated 
under the direction of Mr John Douglas, his 
father s domestic chaplain, and the first Pro 
testant Archbishop of St Andrews, and dis 
tinguished himself as one of the most able 
among the Lords of the Congregation. In the 
transactions of their times the earl and his 
successors took prominent parts ; but as these 
are matters of public history, and as so much 
the history of the Highlands, in which the 
Argylls took a prominent part, has been already 
given in the former part of this work, we 
shall confine our attention here to what be 
longs to the history of the family and clan. 

The earl had married Jean, natural daughter 
of King James the Fifth by Elizabeth daughter 
of John, Lord Carmichael, but he does not 
seem to have lived on very happy terms with 
her, as we find that John Knox, at the request 
of Queen Mary, endeavoured, on more occa 

sions than one, to reconcile them after some 
domestic quarrels. 3 Her majesty passed the 
summer of 1563 at the earl s house in Argyle- 
shire, in the amusement of deer-hunting. 

Argyll died on the 12th of September 1575, 
aged about 43. His countess, Queen Mary s 
half-sister, having died without issue, was 
buried in the royal vault in the abbey of 
Holyrood-house ; and he married, a second 
time, Lady Johanna or Joneta Cunningham, 
second daughter of Alexander, fifth Earl of 
Glencairn, but as she also had no children, he 
was succeeded in his estates and title by his 

On the 28th of January 1581, with the king 
and many of the nobility, the sixth earl sub 
scribed a second Confession of Faith. He died 
in October 1584, after a long illness. He 
married, first, Janet, eldest daughter of Henry, 
first Lord Methven, without issue ; secondly, 
Lady Agnes Keith, eldest daughter of William, 
fourth Earl Marischal, widow of the Eegent 
Moray, by whom he had two sons, Archibald, 
seventh Earl of Argyll, and the Hon. S\r Colin 
Campbell of Lundie, created a baronet in 1627. 
In 1594, although then only eighteen, the 
seventh Earl of Argyll was appointed king s 
lieutenant against the popish Earls of Huntly 
and Errol, who had raised a rebellion. In 
1599, when measures were in progress for 
bringing the chiefs of the isles under sub 
jection to the king, the Earl of Argyll and his 
kinsman, John Campbell of Calder, were 
accused of having secretly used their influence 
to prevent Sir James Macdonald of Dunyveg 
and his clan from being reconciled to the 
government. The frequent insurrections which 
occurred in the South Isles in the first fifteen 
years of the seventeenth century have also 
been imputed by Mr Gregory to Argyll and 
the Campbells, for their own purposes. The 
proceedings of these clans were so violent and 
illegal, that the king became highly incensed 
against the Clandonald, and finding, or sup 
posing he had a right to dispose of their 
possessions both in Kintyre and Isla, he made 
a grant of them to the Earl of Argyll and the 
Campbells. This gave rise to a number of 
bloody conflicts between the Campbells and 

3 Caldenvond, rol. ii. p. 215. 



the Clandonald, in the years 1614, 1615, and 
1616, which ended in the ruin of the latter, 
and for the details of which, and the intrigues 
and proceedings of the Earl of Argyll to 
possess himself of the lands of that clan, 
reference may be made to the part of the 
General History pertaining to this period. 

In 1603, the Macgregors, who were already 
under the han of the law, made an irruption 
into the Lennox, and after defeating the 
Colquhouns and their adherents at Glenfruin, 
with great slaughter, plundered and ravaged 
the whole district, and threatened to "burn the 
town of Dumbarton. For some years pre 
viously, the charge of keeping this powerful 
and warlike tribe in order had been committed 
to the Earl of Argyll, as the king s lieutenant 
in the " bounds of the clan Gregor," and he 
was answerable for all their excesses. Instead 
of keeping them under due restraint, Argyll 
has been accused by various writers of having 
from the very first made use of his influence 
to stir them up to acts of violence and aggres 
sion against his own personal enemies, of whom 
the chief of the Colquhouns was one ; and it 
is further said that he had all along meditated 
the destruction of both the Macgregors and 
the Colquhouns, by his crafty and perfidious 
policy. The only evidence on which these 
heavy charges rest is the dying declaration of 
Alister Macgregor of Glenstrae, the chief of the 
clan, to the effect that he was deceived by the 
Earl of Argyll s " falsete and inventiouns," and 
that he had been often incited by that nobleman 
to "weir and truble the laird of Luss," and 
others ; but these charges ought to be received 
with some hesitation by the impartial historian. 
However this may be, the execution of the 
severe statutes which were passed against the 
Macgregors after the conflict at Glenfruin, was 
intrusted to the Earls of Argyll and Athole, 
and their chief, with some of his principal 
followers, was enticed by Argyll to surrender 
to him, on condition that they would be al 
lowed to leave the country Argyll received 
them kindly, and assured them that though he 
was commanded by the king to apprehend 
them, he had little doubt he would be able to 
procure a pardon, and, in the meantime, he 
would send them to England under an escort, 
which would convey them off Scottish ground. 

It was Macgregor s intention, if taken to Lon 
don, to procure if possible an interview with 
the king ; but Argyll prevented this ; yet, that 
he might fulfil his promise, he sent them under 
a strong guard beyond the Tweed at Berwick, 
and instantly compelled them to retrace their 
steps to Edinburgh, where they were executed 
18th January 1604. How far there may have 
been deceit used in this matter, whether, ac 
cording to Birrel, Argyll " keipit ane Hieland- 
man s promise ; in respect he sent the gaird to 
convey him out of Scottis grund, but thai were 
not directit to pairt with him, but to fetch 
him bak agane ;" or whether their return was 
by orders from the king, cannot at the present 
time be ascertained. 

In 1617, after the suppression by him of 
the Clandonald, Argyll obtained from the 
king a grant of the whole of Kintyre. For 
some years Argyll had been secretly a Catho 
lie. His first countess, to whom Sir William 
Alexander, afterwards Earl of Stirling, in 
scribed his "Aurora" in 1604, having died, 
he had, in November 1610, married a second 
time, Anr e, daughter of Sir William Cornwall 
of Brorne, ancestor of the Marquis Cornwallis. 
This lady was a Catholic, and although the 
earl was a warm and zealous Protestant when 
he mdrried her, she gradually drew him over 
to profess the same faith with herself. After 
the year 1615, as Gregory remarks, his per 
sonal history presents a striking instance of 
the mutability of human affairs. In that year, 
being deep in debt, he went to England ; but 
as he was the only chief that could keep the 
Macdonalds in order, the Privy Council wrote 
to the king urging him to send him home ; 
and in his expedition against the clan Donald 
he was accompanied by his son, Lord Lorn. 
In 1618, on pretence of going to the Spa for 
the benefit of his health, he received from the 
king permission to go abroad ; and the news 
soon arrived that the earl, instead of going to 
the Spa, had gone to Spain ; that he had there 
made open defection from the Protestant re 
ligion, and that he had entered into very sus 
picious dealings with the banished rebels, Sir 
James Macdonald and Alister MacRanald of 
Keppoch, who had taken refuge in that country. 
On the 16th of February he was openly de 
clared rebel and traitor, at the market cross of 



Edinburgh, and remained under this ban until 
the 22d of November 1621, when he was de 
clared the king s free liege. Nevertheless, he 
did not venture to return to Britain till 1638, 
and died in London soon after, aged 62. From 
the time of his leaving Scotland, he never 
exercised any influence over his great estates ; 
the fee of which had, indeed, been previously 
conveyed by him to his eldest son, Archibald, 
Lord Lorn, afterwards eighth Earl of Argyll. 
By his first wife he had, besides this son, four 
daughters. By his second wife, the earl had a 
son and a daughter, viz., James, Earl of Irvine, 
and Lady Mary, married to James, second Lord 

Archibald, eighth Earl and first Marquis of 
Argyll, after his father, went to Spain, as has 
been above said, managed the affairs of his 
family and clan. So full an account of the 
conspicuous part played by the first Marquis 
of Argyll, in the affairs of his time, has been 
already given in this work, that further detail 
here is unnecessary. Suffice it to say, that in 
1641 he was created Marquis, and was beheaded 
with the " Maiden," at the cross of Edinburgh, 
May 27, 1661 ; and whatever may be thought 
of his life, his death was heroic and Christian. 
By his wife, Lady Margaret Douglas, second 
daughter of William, second Earl of Morton, 
he had three daughters and two sons. The 
eldest son Archibald, became ninth Earl of 
Argyll, the second was Lord ISTiel Campbell, 
of Ardmaddie. 

On the death of the eighth earl, his estates 
and title were of course forfeited, but Charles 
II., in 1663, sensible of the great services of 
Lord Lorn, and of the injustice with which he 
had been treated, restored to him the estates 
and the title of Earl of Argyll. The trivial 
excuse for the imprisoning and condemning 
him to death, has been already referred to, 
and an account has been given of the means 
whereby he was enabled to make his escape, 
by the assistance of his step-daughter, Lady 
Sophia Lindsay. Having taken part in Mon- 
mouth s rebellion, he was taken prisoner, and 
being carried to Edinburgh, was beheaded upon 
his former unjust sentence, June 30, 1685. 
Argyll was twice married ; first to Lady Mary 
Stuart, eldest daughter of James, fifth Earl of 
Moray; and secondly, to Lady Anna Mackenzie, 

second daughter of Colin, first Earl of Seaforth, 
widow of Alexander, first Earl of Balcarres. 
By the latter, ho had no issue ; but by the 
former he had four sons and three daughters. 
He was succeeded by his son Archibald, tenth 
Earl and first Duke of Argyll, who was an 
active promoter of the Revolution, and accom 
panied the Prince of Orange to England. He 
was one of the commissioners deputed from 
the Scots Parliament, to offer the crown of 
Scotland to the Prince, and to tender him the 
coronation oath. For this and other services, 
the family estates, which had been forfeited, 
were restored to him. He was appointed to 
several important public offices, and in 1696, 
was made colonel of the Scots horse-guards, 
afterwards raising a regiment of his own clan, 
which greatly distinguished itself in Flanders. 
On the 21st of June 1701, he was created, 
by letters patent, Duke of Argyll, Marquis of 
Lorn and Kintyre, Earl of Campbell and 
Cowal, Viscount of Lochow and Glenila, Baron 
Inverary, Mull, Morvern, and Tiree. He died 
28th September, 1703. Though undoubtedly 
a man of ability, he was too dissipated to be a 
great statesman. He married Elizabeth, 
daughter of Sir Lionel Tollmash, by whom he 
had two sons, the elder being the celebrated 
Duke of Argyll and Greenwich. 

John, second Duke of Argyll, and also Duke 
of Greenwich, a steady patriot and celebrated 
general, the eldest son of the preceding, was 
born October 10, 1678. On the death of his 
father in 1703, he became Duke of Argyll, 
and was soon after sworn of the privy coun 
cil, made captain of the Scots horse-guards, 
and appointed one of the extraordinary lords 
of session. He was soon after sent down as 
high commissioner to the Scots parliament, 
where, being of great service in promoting the 
projected Union, for which he became very 
unpopular in Scotland, he was, on his return 
to London, created a peer of England by the 
titles of Baron of Chatham, and Earl of Green 

In 1706 his Grace made a campaign in 
Flanders, under the Duke of Marlborough, and 
rendered important services at various sieges 
and battles on the continent, and on Decem 
ber 20, 1710, he was installed a knight of the 
Garter. On the accession of George I., he was 



made groom of the stole, and was one of the 
nineteen members of the regency, nominated 
by his majesty. On the king s arrival in 
England, he was appointed general and com- 
mander-in-chief of the king s forces in Scotland. 

At the breaking out of the Eebellion in 
1715, his Grace, as command er-in-chief in 
Scotland, defeated the Earl of Mar s army at 
Sheriffmuir, and forced the Pretender to retire 
from the kingdom. In March 1716, after 
putting the army into winter quarters, he re 
turned to London, but was in a few months, 
to the surprise of all, divested of all his em 
ployments. In the beginning of 1718 he was 
again restored to favour, created Duke of 
Greenwich, and made lord steward of the 
household. In 1737, when the affair of Cap 
tain Porteous came before parliament, his Grace 
exerted himself vigorously and eloquently in 
behalf of the city of Edinburgh. A bill having 
been brought in for punishing the Lord Provost 
of that city, for abolishing the city guard, and 
for depriving the corporation of several ancient 
privileges ; and the Queen Eegent having 
threatened, on that occasion, to convert Scot 
land into a hunting park, Argyll replied, that 
it was then time to go down and gather his 

In April 1740, he delivered a speech with 
such warmth against the administration, that 
he was again deprived of all his offices. To 
these, however, on the resignation of Sir 
Robert Walpole, he was soon restored, but 
not approving of the measures of the new 
ministry, he gave up all his posts, and never 
afterwards engaged in affairs of state. This 
amiable and most accomplished nobleman has 
been immortalised by Pope in the lines, 

" Argyle, the state s whole thunder born to wield, 
And shake alike the senate and the field." 

He was twice married. By his first wife, Mary, 
daughter of John Brown, Esq. (and niece of 
Sir Charles Duncombe, Lord Mayor of London 
in 1708), he had no issue. By his second 
wife, Jane, daughter of Thomas Warburton of 
Wilmington, in Cheshire, one of the maids of 
honour to Queen Anne, he had five daughters. 
As the duke died without male issue, his Eng 
lish titles of Duke and Earl of Greenwich, and 
Baron of Chatham, became extinct, while his 
Scotch titles and patrimonial estate devolved 

on his brother. He died October 4, 1743; and 
a beautiful marble monument was erected to 
his memory in Westminster Abbey. 

Archibald, third Duke of Argyll, the brother 
of the preceding, was born at Ham, Surrey, in 
June 1682, and educated at the university of 
Glasgow. In 1705 he was constituted lord 
high treasurer of Scotland; in 1706 one of 
the commissioners for treating of the Union 
between Scotland and England; and 19th 
October of the same year, for his services in 
that matter, was created Viscount and Earl of 
Isla. In 1708 he was made an extraordinary 
lord of session, and after the Union, was chosen 
one of the sixteen representative peers of Scot 
land. In 1710 he was appointed justice- 
general of Scotland, and the following year 
was called to the privy council. When the 
rebellion broke out in 1715, he took up arms 
for the defence of the house of Hanover. By 
his prudent conduct in the West Highlands, 
he prevented General Gordon, at the head of 
three thousand men, from penetrating into the 
country and raising levies. He afterwards 
joined his brother, the duke, at Stirling, and 
was wounded at the battle of Sheriffmuir. In 
1725 he was appointed keeper of the privy 
seal, and in 1734 of the great seal, which 
office he enjoyed till his death. He excelled 
in conversation, and besides building a very 
magnificent seat at Inverary, he collected one 
of the most valuable private libraries in Great 
Britain. He died suddenly, while sitting in 
his chair at dinner, April 15, 1761. He mar 
ried the daughter of Mr Whitfield, paymaster 
of marines, but had no issue by her grace. 

The third Duke of Argyll was succeeded by 
his cousin, John, fourth duke, son of the 
Hon. John Campbell of Mam ore, second son 
of Archibald, the ninth Earl of Argyll (who 
was beheaded in 1685), by Elizabeth, daughter 
of John, eighth Lord Elphinstone. The fourth 
duke was born about 1693. Before he suc 
ceeded to the honours of his family, he was an 
officer in the army, and saw some service in 
France and Holland. When the rebellion of 
1745 broke out, he was appointed to the 
command of all the troops and garrisons in 
the west of Scotland, and arrived at Inverary, 
21st December of that year, and, with his 
eldest son joined the Duke of Cumberland at 



Perth, on the 9th of the following February. 
He died 9th November 1770, in the 77th 
year of his age. He married in 1720 the Hon. 
Mary Bellenden, third daughter of the second 
Lord Bellenden, and had four sons and a 

John, fifth Duke of Argyll, born in 1723, 
eldest son of the fourth duke, was also in the 
army, and attained the rank of general in March 
1778, and of field-marshal in 1796. He was 
created a British peer, in the lifetime of his 
father, as Baron Sundridge of Coomb-bank in 
Kent, 19th December 1766, with remainder 
to his heirs male, and failing them to his 
brothers, Frederick and William, and their 
heirs male successively. He was chosen the 
first president of the Highland Society of 
Scotland, to which society, in 1806, he made 
a munificent gift of one thousand pounds, as 
the beginning of a fund for educating young 
men of the West Highlands for the navy. 
He died 24th May 1806, in the 83d year of 
his age. He married in 1759, Elizabeth, 
widow of James, sixth Duke of Hamilton, the 
second of the three beautiful Miss Gunnings, 
daughters of John Gunning, Esq. of Castle 
Coote, county Roscommon, Ireland. By this 
lady the duke had three sons and two daugh 

George William, sixth Duke of Argyll, was 
born 22d September 1768. He married, 29th 
November 1810, Caroline Elizabeth, daughter 
of the fourth Earl of Jersey, but had no issue. 
His Grace died 22d October 1839. 

His brother, John Douglas Edward Henry 
(Lord John Campbell of Ardincaple, M.P.) 
succeeded as seventh duke. He was born 
21st December 1777, and was thrice married ; 
first, in August 1802, to Elizabeth, eldest 
daughter of William Campbell, Esq. of Fair- 
field, who died in 1818 ; secondly, 17th April, 
1820, to Joan, daughtei and heiress of John 
Glassel, Esq. of Long Niddry ; and thirdly, in 
January 1831, to. Anne Colquhoun, eldest 
daughter of John Cunningham, Esq. of Craig- 
ends. By his second wife he had two sons 
and a daughter, namely, John Henry, born in 
January 1821, died in May 1837; George 
Douglas, who succeeded as eighth duke ; and 
Lady Emma Augusta, born in 1825. His 

Grace died 26th April 1847. 

George John Douglas, the eighth duke, born 
in 1823, married in 1844, Lady Elizabeth 
Georgina (born in 1824), eldest daughter of 
the second Duke of Sutherland ; issue, John 
Douglas Sutherland, Marquis of Lorn (M.P. 
for Argyleshire), born in 1845, and other 
children. His Grace has distinguished himself 
not only in politics, but in science; to geology, 
in particular, he has devoted much attention, 
and his writings prove him to be possessed of 
considerable literary ability. He is author of 
" An Essay on the Ecclesiastical History of 
Scotland since the Reformation," " The Reign 
of Law," &c. He was made Chancellor of 
the University of St Andrews, 1851 ; Lord 
Privy Seal, 1853; Postmaster-general, 1855-8; 
Knight of the Thistle, 1856; again Lord 
Privy Seal, 1859 ; Secretary of State for 
India, 1868. The Duke of Argyll is heredi 
tary master of the queen s household in Scot 
land, keeper of the castles of Dunoon, Dun- 
staffnage, and Carrick, and heritable sheriff of 

It has been foretold, says tradition, that all 
the glories of the Campbell line are to be re 
newed in the first chief who, in the hue of 
his locks, approaches to Ian Roy Cean (John 
Red Head, viz., the second duke). This pro 
phecy some may be inclined to think, has been 
royally fulfilled in the recent marriage of the 
present duke s heir, the Marquis of Lorn, with 
the Princess Louise, daughter of Her Majesty 
Queen Victoria, This event took place on 
the 21st March 1871, amid the enthusiastic 
rejoicings of all Scotchmen, and especially 
Highlandmen, and with the approval of all 
the sensible portion of Her Majesty s subjects. 
Her Majesty conferred the honour of knight 
hood on the Marquis of Lorn, after the cere 
mony of the marriage, and invested him with 
the insignia of the Order of the Thistle. 

There are a considerable number of impor 
tant offshoots from the clan Campbell, the 
origin of some of which has been noticed 
above ; it is necessary, however, to give a more 
particular account of the most powerful branch 
of this extensive clan, viz., the BREADALBANE 

2 A 




BADGE. Myrtle. 

As we have already indicated, the ancestor 
of the Breadalbane family, and the first of the 
house of Glenurchy, was Sir Colin Campbell, 
the third *son of Duncan, first Lord Campbell 
of Lochow. 

In an old manuscript, preserved in Tay- 
mouth Castle, named "the Black Book of 
Taymouth " (printed by the Bannatyne Club, 
1853), containing a genealogical account of 
the Glenurchy family, it is stated that " Dun 
can Campbell, commonly callit Duncan in Aa, 
knight of Lochow (lineallie descendit of a 
valiant man, surnamit Campbell, quha cam to 
Scotland in King Malcolm Kandmoir, his 
time, about the year of God 1067, of quhom 
came the house of Lochow), flourisched in 
King David Bruce his dayes. The foresaid 
Duncan in Aa had to wyffe Margarit Stewart, 
dochter to Duke Murdoch [a mistake evidently 
for Robert], on whom he begat twa sones, the 
elder callit Archibald, the other namit Colin, 
wha was first laird of Glenurchay." That es 
tate was settled on him by his father. It had 
come into the Campbell family, in the reign 
of King David the Second, by the marriage of 
Margaret Glenurchy with John Campbell ; 
and was at one time the property of the war 
like clan MacGregor, who were gradually ex 
pelled from the territory by the rival clan 

In 1440 he built the castle of Kilchurn, on 
a projecting rocky elevation at the east end oi 
Lochawe, under the shadow of the majestic 

Ben Cruachan, where now a picturesque 


"grey and stern 
Stands, like a spirit of the past, lone old Kilchurn." 

According to tradition, Kilchurn (properly 
Coalchuirn) Castle was first erected by his 
lady, and not by himself, he being absent on 
a crusade at the time, and for seven years the 
principal portion of the rents of his lands are 
said to have been expended on its erection. 
Sir Colin died before June 10, 1478 as on 
that day the Lords auditors gave a decreet in 
a civil suit against "Duncain Cambell, son 
and air of umquhile Sir Colin Cambell of 
lenurquha, knight." He was interred in 
Argyleshire, and not, as Douglas says, at Fin- 
Larig at the north-west end of Lochtay, which 
afterwards became the burial-place of the 
family. His first wife had no issue. His 
second wife was Lady Margaret Stewart, the 
second of the three daughters and co-heiresses 
of John Lord Lorn, with whom he got a third 
of that lordship, still possessed by the family, 
and thenceforward quartered the galley of 
Lorn with his paternal achievement. His 
third wife was Margaret, daughter of Eobert 
Eobertson of Strowan, by whom he had a sou 
and a daughter. Sir Colin s fourth wife was 
Margaret, daughter of Luke Stirling of Keir, 
by whom he had a son, John, ancestor of the 
Earls of London, and a daughter, Mariot, mar 
ried to William Stewart of Baldoran. 

Sir Duncan Camp-bell, the eldest son, ob 
tained the office of bailiary of the king s lands 
of Discher, Foyer, and Glenlyon, 3d Septem 
ber 1498, for which office, being a hereditary 
one, his descendant, the second Earl of Bread 
albane, received, on the abolition of the herit 
able jurisdiction in Scotland, in 1747, the 
sum of one thousand pounds, in full of his 
claim for six thousand. Sir Duncan also got 
charters of the king s lands of the port of 
Lochtay, &c. 5th March 1492; also of the 
lands of Glenlyon, 7th September 1502; of 
Finlarig, 22d April 1503 ; and of other lands 
in Perthshire in May 1508 and September 
1511. He fell at the battle of Flodden. 
He was twice married. He was succeeded 
by Sir Colin, the eldest son, who mar 
ried Lady Marjory Stewart, sixth daugh 
ter of John, Earl of Athole, brother uterine 



of King James the Second, and had three 
sons, viz., Sir Duncan, Sir John, and Sir 
Colin, who all succeeded to the estate. Tiie 
last of them, Sir Colin, hecame laird of Glen- 
urchy in 1550, and, according to the "Black 
Book of Taymouth," he " conquessit" (that is, 
acquired) " the superiority of M lfobb, his 
haill landis." He was among the first to join 
the Reformation, and sat in the parliament of 
1560, when the Protestant doctrines received 
the sanction of the law. In the " Black 
Book of Taymouth," he is represented to 
have been "ane great justiciar all his tyme, 
throch the quhilk he sustenit the deidly feid 
of the Clangregor ane lang space ; and besides 
that, he causit execute to the death many 
notable lymarris, he behiddit the laird of Mac- 
gregor himself at Kandmoir, in presence of the 
Erie of Athol, the justice-clerk, and sundrie 
other nobilinen." In 1580 he built the castle 
of Balloch in Perthshire, one wing of which 
still continues attached to Taymouth Castle, 
the splendid mansion of the Earl of Breadal- 
bane. He also built Edinample, another seat 
of the family. Sir Colin died in 1583. By 
his wife Catherine, second daughter of Wil 
liam, second Lord Ruthven, he had four sons 
and four daughters. 

Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, his 
eldest son and successor, was, on the death of 
Colin, sixth Earl of Argyll, in 1584, nominated 
by that nobleman s will one of the six guar 
dians of the young earl, then a minor. The 
disputes which arose among the guardians 
have been already referred to, as well as the 
assassination of the Earl of Moray and Camp 
bell of Calder, and the plot to assassinate 
the young Earl of Argyll. Gregory expressly 
charges Sir Duncan Campbell of G] enure hy 
with being the principal mover in the branch 
of the plot which led to the murder of Calder. 

In 1617 Sir Duncan had the office of herit 
able keeper of the forest of Mamlorn, Bendas- 
kerlie, &c., conferred upon him. He after 
wards obtained from King Charles the First 
theisheriffship of Perthshire for life. He was 
created a baronet of Nova Scotia by patent, 
bearing date 30th May 1625. Although re 
presented as an ambitious and grasping charac 
ter, he is said to have been the first who 
attempted to civilise the people on his exten 

sive estates. He not only set them the ex 
ample of planting timber trees, fencing pieces 
of ground for gardens, and manuring their 
lands, but assisted and encouraged them in 
their labours. One of his regulations of 
police for the estate was " that no man shall 
in any public-house drink more than a chopin 
of ale with his neighbour s wife, in the absence 
of her husband, upon the penalty of ten 
pounds, and sitting twenty-four hours in the 
stocks, toties quoties." He died in June 1631. 
He was twice married ; by his first wife, Lady 
Jean Stewart, second daughter of John, Earl 
of Athole, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, 
by whom he had seven sons and three daugh 
ters. Archibald Campbell of Monzie, the fifth 
son, was ancestor of the Campbells of Monzie, 
Lochlane, and Fiiinab, in Perthshire. 

Sir Colin Campbell, the eldest son of Sir 
Duncan, born about 1577, succeeded as eighth 
laird of Glenurchy. Little is known of this 
Sir Colin save what is highly to his honour, 
namely, his patronage of George Jamesone, the 
celebrated portrait painter. Sir Colin married 
Lady Juliana Campbell, eldest daughter of 
Hugh, first Lord Loudon, but had no issue. 
He was succeeded by his brother, Sir Robert, 
at first styled of Glenfalloch, and afterwards of 
Glenurchy. Sir Robert married Isabel, daugh 
ter of Sir Lauchlan Mackintosh, of Torcastle, 
captain of the clan Chattan, and had eight sons 
and nine daughters. William, the sixth son, 
was ancestor of the Campbells of Glenfalloch, 
the representatives of whom have succeeded to 
the Scottish titles of Earl of Breadalbane, &c. 
Margaret, the eldest daughter, married to John 
Cameron of Lochiel, Avas the mother of Sir 
Ewen Cameron. 

The eldest son, Sir John Campbell of Glen 
urchy, who succeeded, was twice married. 
His first wife was Lady Mary Graham, eldest 
daughter of William, Earl of Strathearn, Men- 
teath, and Airth. 

Sir John. Campbell of Glenurchy, first Earl 
of Breadalbane, only son of this Sir John, was 
born about 1635. He gave great assistance to 
the forces collected in the Highlands for 
Charles the Second in 1653, under the com 
mand of General Middleton. He subsequently 
used his utmost endeavours with General 
Monk to declare for a free parliament, as 



the most effectual way to bring about his 
Majesty s restoration. Being a principal cre 
ditor of George, sixth Earl of Caithness, 
whose debts are said to have exceeded 
a million of marks, that nobleman, on 8th 
October 1672, made a disposition of his 
whole estates, heritable jurisdictions, and 
titles of honour, after his death, in favour of 
Sir John Campbell of Glenurchy, the latter 
taking on himself the burden of his lordship s 
debts ; and he was in consequence duly infef ted 
in the lands and earldom of Caithness, 27th 
February 1673. The Earl of Caithness died 
in May 1676, when Sir John Campbell ob 
tained a patent, creating him Earl of Caith 
ness, dated at Whitehall, 28th June 1677. 
But George Sinclair of Keiss, the heir-male of 
the last earl, being found by parliament en 
titled to that dignity, Sir John Campbell ob 
tained another patent, 13th August 1681, 
creating him instead Earl of Breadalbane and 
Holland, Viscount of Tay and Paintland, Lord 
Glenurchy, Benederaloch, Ormelie, and Weik, 
with the precedency of the former patent, and 
remainder to whichever of his sons by his first 
wife he might designate in writing, and ulti 
mately to his heirs-male whatsoever. On the 
accession of James II., the Earl was sworn 
a privy councillor. At the Revolution, he 
adhered to the Prince of Orange ; and after 
the battle of Killiecrankie, and the attempted 
reduction of the Highlands by the forces of the 
new government, he was empowered to enter 
into a negotiation with the Jacobite chiefs to 
induce them to submit to King William, full 
details of which, as well as of his share in the 
massacre of Glencoe, have been given in the 
former part of the work. 

When the treaty of Union was xmder discus 
sion, his Lordship kept aloof, and did not 
even attend parliament. At the general elec 
tion of 1713, he was chosen one of the sixteen 
Scots representative peers, being then seventy- 
eight years old. At the breaking out of the 
rebellion of 1715, he sent five hundred of his 
clan to join the standard of the Pretender; 
and he M as one of the suspected persons, with 
his second son, Lord Glenurchy, summoned to 
appear at Edinburgh within a certain specified 
period, to give bail for thoir allegiance to the 
government, but no further notice was taken 

of his conduct. The Earl died in 1716, in 
his 81st year. He married first, 17th De 
cember 1657, Lady Mary Eich, third daugh 
ter of Henry, first Earl of Holland, who had 
been executed for his loyalty to Charles the 
First, 9th March 1649. By this lady he 
had two sons Duncan, styled Lord Or 
melie, who survived his father, but was 
passed over in the succession, and John, in 
his father s lifetime styled Lord Glenurchy, 
who became second Earl of Breadalbane. He 
married, secondly, 7th April 1678, Lady Mary 
Campbell, third daughter of Archibald, Mar 
quis of Argyll, dowager of George, sixth Earl 
of Caithness. 

John Campbell, Lord Glenurchy, the second 
son, born 19th November 1662, was by his 
father nominated to succeed him as second 
Earl of Breadalbane, in terms of the patent 
conferring the title. He died at Holyrood- 
house, 23d February 1752, in his ninetieth 
year. He married, first, Lady Frances Caven 
dish, second of the five daughters of Henry, 
second Duke of Newcastle. She died, with 
out issue, 4th February 1690, in her thirtieth 
year. He married, secondly, 23d May 1695, 
Henrietta, second daughter of Sir Edward 
Villiers, knight, sister of the first Earl of Jer 
sey, and of Elizabeth, Countess of Orkney, the 
witty but plain-looking mistress of King Wil 
liam III. By his second wife he had a son, 
John, third earl, and two daughters. 

John, third earl, born in 1696, was edu 
cated at the university of Oxford, and after 
holding many highly important public offices, 
died at Holyroodhouse, 26th January 1782, 
in his 86th year. He was twice married, and 
had three sons, who all predeceased him. 

The .male line of the first peer having thus 
become extinct, the clause in the patent in 
favour of heirs-general transferred the peer 
age, and the vast estates belonging to it, to 
his kinsman, John Campbell, born in 1762, 
eldest son of Colin Campbell of Carwhin, 
descended from Colin Campbell of Mochaster 
(who died in 1678), third son of Sir Robert 
Campbell of Glenurchy. The mother of the 
fourth Earl and first Marquis of Breadalbane 
was Elizabeth, daughter of Archibald Camp 
bell of Stonefield, sheriff of Argyleshire, and 
sister of John Campbell, judicially styled Lord 



Stouefield, a lord of session and justiciary. 
In 1784 he was elected one of the sixteen re 
presentative peers of Scotland, and was re- 
chosen at all the subsequent elections, until 
he was created a peer of the United Kingdom 
in November 1806, by the title of Baron 
Breadalbane of Taymouth, in the county of 
Perth, to himself and the heirs-male of his 
body. In 1831, at the coronation of William 
the Fourth, he was created a marquis of the 
United Kingdom, under the title of Marquis 
of Breadalbane and Earl of Ormelie. In 
public affairs he did not take a prominent or 
ostentatious part, his attention being chiefly 
devoted to the improvement of his extensive 
estates, great portions of which, being unfitted 
for cultivation, he laid out in plantations. In 
the magnificent improvements at Taymouth, 
his lordship displayed much taste ; and the 
park has been frequently described as one of 
the most extensive and beautiful in the king 
dom. He married, 2d September 1793, Mary 
Turner, eldest daughter and coheiress of David 
Gavin, Esq. of Langton, in the county of Ber 
wick, and by her had two daughters and one 
son. The elder daughter, Lady Elizabeth 
Maitland Campbell, married in 1831, Sir 
John Pringle of Stitchell, baronet, and the 
younger, Lady Uary Campbell, became in 
1819 the wife of Richard, Marquis of Chandos, 
who in 1839 became Duke of Buckingham. 
The marquis died, after a short illness, at 
Taymouth Castle, on 29th March 1834, aged 

The marquis only son, John Campbell, 
Earl of Orrnelie, born at Dundee, 26th Octo 
ber 1796, succeeded, on the death of his 
father, to the titles and estates. He married, 
23d November 1821, Eliza, eldest daughter of 
George Baillie, Esq. of Jerviswood, without 
issue. He died November 8th, 1862, when 
the marquisate, with its secondary titles, in 
the peerage of the United Kingdom, became 
extinct, and he was succeeded in the Scotch 
titles by a distant kinsman, John Alexander 
Gavin Campbell of Glenfalloch, Perthshire, 
born in 1824. The claim of the latter, how 
ever, was disputed by several candidates for 
the titles and rich estates. As we have already 
indicated, the title of Glenfalloch to the estates 
was descended from William, sixth son of Sir 

Robert Campbell, ninth laird and third baron 
of Glenurchy. He married, in 1850, Mary 
Theresa, daughter of J. Edwards, Esq., Dub 
lin, and had issue two sons, Lord Glenurchy 
and the Honourable Ivan Campbell ; and one 
daughter, Lady Eva. This the sixth earl died 
in London, March 20, 1871, and has been 
succeeded by his eldest son. 

the old Statistical Account of the parish of 
Strachur says : " This family is reckoned by 
some the most ancient of the name of Campbell. 
The late laird of Macfarlane, who with great 
genius and assiduity had studied the ancient 
history of the Highlands, was of this opinion. 
The patronymic name of this family was Mac- 
arthur (the son of Arthur), which Arthur, 
the antiquary above-mentioned maintains, was 
brother to Colin, the first of the Argyll family, 
and that the representatives of the two brothers 
continued for a long time to be known by the 
names of Macarthur and Maccaellein, before 
they took the surname of Campbell. Another 
account makes Arthur the first laird of 
Strachur, to have descended of the family of 
Argyll, at a later period, in which the present 
laird seems to acquiesce, by taking, with a 
mark of cadetcy, the arms and livery of the 
family of Argyll, after they had been quartered 
with those of Lorn. The laird of Strachur has 
been always accounted, according to the cus 
tom of the Highlands, chief of the clan Arthur 
or Macarthurs." We have already quoted Mr 
Skene s opinion as to the claims of the Mac 
arthurs to the chiefship of the clan Campbell ; 
we cannot think these claims have been 
sufficiently made out. 

Macarthur adhered to the cause of Robert 
the Bruce, and received, as his reward, a con 
siderable portion of the forfeited territory of 
MacDougall of Lorn, Bruce s great enemy. He 
obtained also the keeping of the castle of 
Dunstaffnage. After the marriage of Sir Neil 
Campbell with the king s sister, the power 
and possessions of the Campbell branch rapidly 
increased, and in the reign of David II. they 
appear to have first put forward their claims 
to the chieftainship, but were successfully re 
sisted by Macarthur, who obtained a charter 
" Arthuro Campbell quod nulli subjicitur pro 
terris nisi regi." 



In the reign of James I., the chief s name 
was John Macarthur, and so great was his 
following, that he could bring 1,000 men into 
the field. In 1427 that king, in a progress 
through the north, held a parliament at Inver 
ness, to which he summoned all the Highland 
chiefs, and among others who then felt his 
vengeance, was John Macarthur, who was be 
headed, and his whole lands forfeited. From 
that period the chieftainship, according to 
Skene, was lost to the Macarthurs ; the family 
subsequently obtained Strachur in Cowal, and 
portions of Glenfalloch and Glendochart in 
Perthshire. Many of the name of Macarthur 
are still found about Dunstaffnage, but they 
have long been merely tenants to the Campbells. 
The Macarthurs were hereditary pipers to the 
MacDonalds of the Isles, and the last of the 
race was piper to the Highland Society. 

In the history of the main clan, we have 
noted the origin of most of tho offshoots. 
It may, however, not be out of place to refer 
to them again explicitly. 

represented by the Earl of Caw dor, had their 
origin in the marriage in 1510, of Muriella 
heiress of the old Thanes of Cawdor, with Sir 
John Campbell, third son of the second Earl of 
Argyll. In the general account of the clan, 
we have already detailed the circumstances 
connected with the bringing about of this 

The first of the CAMPBELLS of ABERUCHILL, 
in Perthshire, was Colin Campbell, second 
son of Sir John Campbell of Lawers, and 
uncle of the first Earl of London. He got 
from the Crown a charter of the lands of 
Aberuchill, in 1596. His son, Sir James 
Campbell, was created a baronet of Nova 
Scotia in the 1 7th century. 

scended from Sir Donald Campbell, natural 
son of Sir John Campbell of Calder, who, 
as already narrated, was assassinated in 1592. , 
For services performed against the Macdonalds, 
he was in 1625 made heritable proprietor of 
the district of Ardnamurchan and Sunarfc, and 
was created a baronet in 1628. 

The AUOHINBRECK family is descended from 
Sir Dugald Campbell of Auchinbreck, who 
was created a baronet of Xova Scotia in 1628. 

branch of the house of Argyll, Sir Colin Camp 
bell, son and heir of James Campbell of 
Ardkinglass, descended from the Campbells 
of Lorn, by Mary, his wife, daughter of Sir 
Eobert Campbell of Glenurchy, was made a 
baronet in 1679. The family ended in an 
heiress, who married into the Livingstone 
family; arid on the death of Sir Alexander 
Livingstone Campbell of Ardkinglass, in 1810, 
the title and estate descended to Colonel 
James Callander, afterwards Sir James Camp 
bell, his cousin, son of Sir John Callander 
of Craigforth, Stirlingshire. At his death in 
1832, without legitimate issue, the title be 
came extinct. 

The family of BARCALDINE and GLENURE, in 
Argyleshire, whose baronetcy was conferred in 
1831, is descended from a younger son of Sir 
Duncan Campbell, ancestor of the Marquis of 

from Colin, first Earl of Argyll. The first 
baronet was Sir Donald, so created in 1836. 

The ancient family of CAMPBELL of MONZIE, 
in Perthshire, descend, as above mentioned, 
from a third son of the family of Glenurchy. 

We have already devoted so much space 
to the account of this important clan, that it 
is impossible to enter more minutely into the 
history of its various branches, and of the 
many eminent men whom it has produced. 
In the words of Smibert, " pages on pages 
might be expended on the minor branches 
of the Campbell house, and the list still be 
defective." The gentry of the Campbell 
name are decidedly the most numerous, on 
the whole, in Scotland, if the clan be not 
indeed the largest. But, as has been before 
observed, the great power of the chiefs called 
into their ranks, nominally, many other families 
besides the real Campbells. The lords of that 
line, in short, obtained so much of permanent 
power in the district of the Dhu- Galls, or 
Irish Celts, as to bring these largely under 
their sway, giving to them at the same time 
that general clan-designation, respecting the 
origin of which enough has already been said. 

The force of the clan was, in 1427, 1000; 
in 1715, 4000; and in 1745, 5000. 

Although each branch of the Campbells 



has its own peculiar arms, still there runs 
through all a family likeness, the difference 
generally being very small. All the families 
of the Campbell name bear the oared galley 
in their arms, showing the connection by 
origin or intermarriage with the Western 
Gaels, the Island Kings. Breadalbane quar 
ters with the Stewart of Lorn, having for 
supporters two stags, with the motto Follow 


BADGE. -Red Whortleberry. 

The clan LEOD or MACLEOD is one of the 
most considerable clans of the Western Isles, 
and is divided into two branches independent 
of each other, the Macleods of Harris and the 
Macleods of Lewis. 

To the progenitors of this clan, a Norwegian 
origin has commonly been assigned. They 
are also supposed to be of the same stock as 
the Campbells, according to a family history 
referred to by Mr Skene, which dates no 
farther back than the early part of the 16th 

The genealogy claimed for them asserts 
that the ancestor of the chiefs of the clan, 
and he who gave it its clan name, was 
Loyd or Leod, eldest son of King Olave 
the Black, brother of Magnus, the last king 
of Man and the Isles. This Leod is said 
to have had two sons : Tormod, progenitor 
of the Macleods of Harris, hence called the 
Siol Tormod, or race of Tormod; and Torquil, 
of those of Lewis, called the Siol Torquil, or 
race of Torquil. Although, however, Mr 
Skene and others are of opinion that there is 

no authority whatever for such a descent, and 
" The Chronicle of Man" gives no countenance 
to it, we think the probabilities are in its 
favour, from the manifestly Norwegian names 
borne by the founders of the clan, namely, 
Tormod or Gorman and Torquil, and from 
their position in the Isles, from the very 
commencement of their known history. The 
clan itself, there can be no doubt, are mainly 
the descendants of the ancient Celtic inhabi 
tants of the western isles. 

Tormod s grandson, Malcolm, got a charter 
from David II., of two-thirds.of Glenelg, on the 
mainland, a portion of the forfeited lands of the 
Bissets, in consideration for which he was to 
provide a galley of 36 oars, for the king s use 
whenever required. This is the earliest charter 
in possession of the Macleods. The same Mal 
colm obtained the lands in Skye which were 
long in possession of his descendants, by 
marriage with a daughter of MacArailt, said 
to have been one of the Norwegian nobles of 
the Isles. From the name, however, we 
would be inclined to take this MacArailt for 
a Celt. The sennachies sometimes made sad 

MACLEOD of HARRIS, originally designated 
" de Glenelg," that being the first and princi 
pal possession of the family, seems to have 
been the proper chief of the clan Leod. The 
island, or rather peninsula of Harris, which is 
adjacent to Lewis, belonged, at an early period, 
to the Macruaries of Garmoran and the North 
Isles, under whom the chief of the Siol Tor- 
mod appears to have possessed it. From this 
family, the superiority of the North Isles 
passed to the Macdonalds of Isla by marriage, 
and thus Harris came to form a part of the 
lordship of the Isles. In the isle of Skye the 
Siol Tormod possessed the districts of Dun- 
vegan, Duirinish, Bracadale, Lyndale, Trotter- 
nish, and Minganish, being about two-thirds 
of the whole island. Their principal seat was 
Dunvegan, hence the chief was often styled of 
that place. 

The first charter of the MACLEODS of LEWIS, 
or Siol Torquil, is also one by King David II. 
It contained a royal grant to Torquil Macleod 
of the barony of Assynt, on the north-western 
coast of Sutherlandshire. This barony, how 
ever, he is said to have obtained by marriage 



with the heiress, whose name was Macnicol. 
It was held from the crown. In that charter 
he has no designation, hence it is thought that 
he had then no other property. The Lewis 
Macleods held that island as vassals of the 
Macdonalds of Isla from 1344-, and soon came 
to rival the Harris branch of the Macleods in 
power and extent of territory, and even to 
dispute the chiefship with them. Their 
armorial hearings, however, were different, the 
family of Harris having a castle, while that of 
Lewis had a burning mount. The possessions 
of the Siol Torquil were very extensive, 
comprehending the isles of Lewis and Easay, 
the district of Waterness in Skye, and those 
of Assynt, Cogeach, and Gairloch, on the 

To return to the Harris branch. The 
grandson of the above-mentioned Malcolm, 
William Macleod, surnamed AcMerach, or the 
clerk, from being in his youth designed 
for the church, was one of the most daring 
chiefs of his time. Having incurred the 
resentment of his superior, the Lord of the 
Isles, that powerful chief invaded his territory 
with a large force, but was defeated at a place 
called Lochsligachan, He was, however, one 
of the principal supporters of the last Lord of 
the Isles in his disputes with his turbulent 
and rebellious son, Angus, and was killed, in 
1481, at the battle of the Bloody Bay, where 
also the eldest son of Eoderick Macleod of the 
Lewis Avas mortally wounded. The son of 
William of Harris, Alexander Macleod, called 
Allaster Croftach, or the Humpbacked, was 
the head of the Siol Tormod at the time of 
the forfeiture of the lordship of the Isles in 
1493, when Eoderick, grandson of the above- 
named Eoderick, was chief of the Siol Torquil. 
This Eoderick s father, Torquil, the second 
son of the first Eoderick, was the principal 
supporter of Donald Dubh, when he escaped 
from prison and raised the banner of insurrec 
tion in 1501, for the purpose of regaining the 
lordship of the Isles, for which he was for 
feited. He maried Katherine, daughter of the 
first Earl ol Argyll, the sister of Donald 
Dubh s mother. The forfeited estate of Lewis 
was restored in 1511 to Malcolm, Torquil s 
brother. Alexander the Humpback got a 
charter, under the great seal, of all his lands 

in the Isles, from James IV., dated 15th 
June, 1468, under the condition of keeping in 
readiness for the king s use one ship of 26 
oars and two of 1 6. He had also a charter 
from James V. of the lands of Glenelg, dated 
13th February, 1539. 

With the Macdonalds of Sleat, the Harris 
Macleods had a feud regarding the lands and 
office of bailiary of Trotternish, in the isle of 
Skye, held by them under several crown 
charters. The feud was embittered by Macleod 
having also obtained a heritable grant of the 
lands of Sleat and North Uist; and the Siol 
Torquil, who had also some claim to the Trotter 
nish bailiary and a portion of the lands, siding 
with the Macdonalds, the two leading branches 
of the Macleods came to be in opposition to 
each other. Under Donald Gruamach (" grim- 
looking") aided by the uterine brother of 
their chief, John MacTorquil Macleod, son of 
Torquil Macleod of the Lewis, forfeited in 
1506, the Macdonalds succeeded in expelling 
Macleod of Harris or Dunvegan from Trotter 
nish, as well as in preventing him from taking 
possession of Sleat and North Uist. The 
death of his uncle, Malcolm Macleod, and the 
minority of his son, enabled Torquil, with the 
assistance of Donald Gruamach, in his turn, to 
seize the whole barony of Lewis, which, with 
the leadership of the Siol Torquil, he held 
during his life. His daughter and heiress 
married Donald Gorme of Sleat, a claimant for 
the lordship of the Isles, and the son and 
successor of Donald Gruamach. An agree 
ment was entered into between Donald Gorme 
and Euari or Eoderick Macleod, son of Mal 
colm, the last lawful possessor of the Lewis, 
whereby Eoderick was allowed to enter into 
possession of that island, and in return 
Eoderick became bound to assist in patting 
Donald Gorme in possession of Trotternish, 
against all the efforts of the chief of Harris or 
Dunvegan, who had again obtained possession 
of that district. In May 1539, accordingly, 
Trotternish was invaded and laid waste by 
Donald Gorme and his allies of the Siol 
Torquil; but the death soon after of Donald 
Gorme, by an arrow wound in his foot, under 
the walls of Mackenzie of Kintail s castle of 
Ellandonan, put an end to his rebellion and 
his pretensions together. When the powerful 





















fleet of James V. arrived at the isle of Lewis 
the following year, Roderick Macleod and his 
principal kinsmen met the king, and were 
made to accompany him in his farther pro 
gress through the Isles. On its reaching 
Skye, Alexander Macleod of Dunvegan was 
also constrained to embark in the royal fleet. 
With the other captive chiefs they were sent 
to Edinburgh, and only liberated on giving 
hostages for their obedience to the laws. 

Alexander the Humpback, chief of the 
Harris Macleods, died at an advanced age in 
the reign of Queen Mary. He had three sons, 
William, Donald, and Tormod, who all suc 
ceeded to the estates and authority of their 
family. He had also two daughters, the elder 
of whom was thrice married, and every time 
to a Macdonald. Her first husband was 
James, second son of the fourth laird of Sleat. 
Her second was Allan Maclan, captain of the 
Clanranald; and her third husband was Mac 
donald of Keppoch. The- younger daughter 
became the wife of Maclean of Lochbuy. 

William Macleod of Harris had a danghter, 
Mary, who, on his death in 1554, became 
under a particular destination, his sole heiress 
in the estates of Harris, Dunvegan, and 
Glenelg. His claim to the properties of Sleat, 
Trotternish, and ]STorth Uist, of which he was 
the nominal proprietor, but which were held 
by the Clandonald, was inherited by his next 
brother and successor, Donald. This state of 
things placed the latter in a very anomalous 
position, which may be explained in Mr 
Gregory s words: "The Siol Tormod," he 
says, 4 " was now placed in a position, which, 
though quite intelligible on the principles of 
feudal laAV, was totally opposed to the Celtic 
customs that still prevailed, to a great extent, 
throughout the Highlands and Isles. A 
female and a minor was tho legal proprietrix of 
the ancient possessions of the tribe, which, by 
her marriage, might be conveyed to another 
and a 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 claims on the 
estates possessed by the Clandonald were 

4 History of the Highlands and fsles, p. 204. 

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 circumstances, 
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 Trotternish, by a relation of his own, John 
Oig Macleod, who, failing Tormod, the only 
remaining brother of Donald, would have 
become the heir male of the family. John 
Oig next plotted the distruction of Tormod, 
who was at the time a stitdent in the univer 
sity of Glasgow; but in this he was foiled by 
the interposition of the Earl of Argyll. He 
continued, notwithstanding, to retain pos 
session of the estates of the heiress, and of 
the command of the clan, till his death in 
1559." The heiress of Harris was one of 
Queen Mary s maids of honour, and the Earl of 
Argyll, having ultimately become her guardian, 
she was given by him in marriage to his 
kinsman, Duncan Campbell, younger of 
Auchinbreck. Through the previous efforts 
of the earl, Tormod Macleod, on receiving a 
legal title to Harris and the other estates, 
renounced in favour of Argyll all his claims 
to the lands of the Clandonald, and paid 1000 
merks towards the dowry of his niece. He 
also gave his bond of service to Argyll for 
himself and his clan. Mary Macleod, in 
consequence, made a complete surrender to 
her uncle of her title to the lands of Harris, 
Dunvegan, and Glenelg, and Argyll obtained 
for him a crown charter of these estates, dated 
4th August, 1579. Tormod adhered firmly 
to the interest of Queen Mary, and died in 
1584. He was succeeded by his eldest son, 
William, under whom the Harris Macleods 
assisted the Macleans in their feuds with tho 
Macdonalds of Isla and Skye, while the Lewis 
Macleods supported the latter. On his death 
in 1590, his brother, Roderick, the Rory Mor 
of tradition, became chief of the Harris 
I Macleods. 

I In December 1597, an act of the Estates 
I had been passed, by which it was made 
: imperative upon all the chieftains and land- 




lords in the Highlands and Isles, to produce 
their title-deeds before the lords of Exchequer 
on the 15th of the following May, under the 
pain of forfeiture. The heads of the two 
branches of the Macleods disregarded the act, 
and a gift of their estates was granted to a 
number of Fife gentlemen, for the purposes of 
colonisation. They first began with the Lewis, 
in which the experiment failed, as narrated in 
the General History. Roderick Macleod, on 
his part, exerted himself to get the forfeiture 
of his lands of Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg, 
removed, and ultimately succeeded, having 
obtained a remission from the king, dated 4th 
May, 1610. He was knighted by King 
James VI., by whom he was much esteemed, 
and had several friendly letters from his 
majesty; also, a particular license, dated 16th 
June, 1616, to go to London, to the court, at 
any time he pleased. By his wife, a daughter 
of Macdonald of Glengarry, he had, with six 
daughters, five sons, viz., John, his heir; Sir 
Roderick, progenitor of the Macleods of 
Talisker; Sir Norman of the Macleods of 
Bernera and Muiravonside; William of the 
Macleods of Hamer; and Donald of those of 

The history of the Siol Torquil, or Lewis 
Macleods, as it approached its close, was most 
disastrous. Roderick, the chief of this branch 
in 1569, got involved in a deadly feud with 
the Mackenzies, which ended only with the 
destruction of his whole family. He had 
married a daughter of John Mackenzie of 
Kintail, and a son whom she bore, and who 
was named Torquil Connanach, from his re 
sidence among his mother s relations in Strath- 
connan, was disowned by him, on account of 
the alleged adultery of his mother with the 
breve or Celtic judge of the Lewis. She 
eloped with John MacGillechallum of Rasay, 
a cousin of Roderick, and was, in consequence, 
divorced. He took for his second wife, in 
1541, Barbara Stewart, daughter of Andrew 
Lord Avondale, and by this lady had a son, 
likewise named Torquil, and surnamed Oighre, 
or the Heir, to distinguish him from the other 
Torquil. About 1566, the former, with 200 
attendants, was drowned in a tempest, when ! , 
sailing from Lewis to Skye, and Torquil 
Connanach immediately took up arms to vindi 

cate what he conceived to be his rights. In 
his pretensions he was supported by the 
Mackenzies. Roderick was apprehended and 
detained four years a prisoner in the castle of 
.Stornoway. The feud between the Macdonalds 
end Mackenzies was put an end to by the 
mediation of the Regent Moray. Before be 
ing released from his captivity, the old chief 
was brought before the Regent and his privy 
council, and compelled to resign his estate 
into the hands of the crown, taking a new 
destination of it to himself in liferent, and 
after his death to Torquil Connanach, as his 
son and heir apparent. On regaining his 
liberty, however, he revoked all that he had 
done when a prisoner, on the ground of coer 
cion. This led to new commotions, and in 
1576 both Roderick and Torquil were sum 
moned to Edinburgh, and reconciled in pre 
sence of the privy council, when the latter 
was again acknowledged as heir apparent to 
the Lewis, and received as such the district of 
Cogeach and other lands. The old chief some 
time afterwards took for his third wife, a 
sister of Lauchlan Maclean of Dowart, and had 
by her two sons, named Torquil Dubh and 
Tormod. Having again disinherited Torquil 
Connanach, that young chief once more took 
up arms, and was supported by two illegiti 
mate sons of Roderick, named Tormod Uigacli 
and Murdoch, while three others, Donald, 
Rory Oig, and Neill, joined with their father. 
He apprehended the old chief, Roderick 
Macleod, and killed a number of his men. 
All the charters and title deeds of the Lewis* 
were carried off by Torquil, and handed over 
to the Mackenzies. The charge of the castle 
of Stornoway, with the chief, a prisoner in it, 
was committed to John Macleod, the son of 
Torquil Connanach, but he was attacked by 
Rory Oig and killed, when Roderick Macleod 
was released, and possessed the island in peace 
during the remainder of his life. 

On his death he was succeeded by his son 
Torquil Dubh, who married a sister of Sir 
Roderick Macleod of Harris. Torquil Dubh, 
as we have narrated in the former part of 
the work, was by stratagem apprehended by 
the breve of Lewis, and carried to the country 
of the Mackenzies, into the presence of Lord 
Kintail, who ordered Torquil Dubh and his 



companions to be beheaded. This took place 
in July 1597. 

Torquil Dubh left three young sons, and 
their uncle Neill, a bastard brother of their 
father, took, in their behalf, the command of 
the isle of Lewis. Their cause was also sup 
ported by the Macleods of Harris and the 
Macleans. The dissensions in the Lewis, fol 
lowed by the forfeiture of that island, in con 
sequence of the non-production of the title- 
deeds, as required by the act of the Estates of 
1597, already mentioned, afforded the king an 
opportunity of trying to carry into effect his 
abortive project of colonisation already referred 
to. The colonists were at last compelled to 
abandon their enterprise. 

The title to the Lewis having been acquired 
by Kenneth Mackenzie, Lord Kintail, he lost 
no time in taking possession of the island, 
expelling JSTeill Macleod, with his nephews, 
Malcolm, William, and Eoderick, sons of Eory 
Oig, who, with about thirty others, took refuge 
on Berrisay, an insulated rock on the west 
coast of Lewis. Here they maintained them 
selves for nearly three years, but were at length 
driven from it by the Mackenzies. JSTeill sur 
rendered to Eoderick Macleod of Harris, who, 
on being charged, under pain of treason, to 
deliver him to the privy council at Edinburgh, 
gave him up, with his son Donald. Neill was 
brought to trial, convicted, and executed, and 
is said to have died " very Christianlie " in 
April 1613. Donald, his son, was banished 
from Scotland, and died in Holland. Eoderick 
and William, two of the sons of Eory Oig, 
were seized by the tutor of Kintail, and 
executed. Malcolm, the other son, apprehend 
ed at the same time, made his escape, and 
continued to harass the Mackenzies for years. 
He was prominently engaged in Sir James 
Macdonald s rebellion in 1615, and afterwards 
went to Flanders, but in 1616 was once more 
in the Lewis, where he killed two gentlemen 
of the Mackenzies. He subsequently went to 
Spain, whence he returned with Sir James 
Macdonald in 1620. In 1622 and 1626, com 
missions of fire and sword were granted to 
Lord Kintail and his clan against " Malcolm 
MacEuari Macleod." Nothing more is known 
of him. 

On the extinction of the main line of the 

Lewis, the representation of the family de 
volved on the Macleods of Easay, afterwards 
referred to. The title of Lord Macleod was 
the second title of the Mackenzies, Earls of 

At the battle of Worcester in 1651, the 
Macleods fought on the side of Charles II., 
and so great was the slaughter amongst them 
that it was agreed by the other clans that they 
should not engage in any other conflict until 
they had recovered their losses. The Harris 
estates were sequestrated by Cromwell, but the 
chief of the Macleods was at last, in May 
1665, admitted into the protection of the 
Commonwealth by General Monk, on his find 
ing security for his peaceable behaviour under 
the penalty of 6,000 sterling, and paying a 
fine of 2,500. Both his uncles, however, 
were expressly excepted. 

At the Eevolution, MACLEOD of MACLEOD, 
which became the designation of the laird of 
Harris, as chief of the clan, was favourable to 
the cause of James II. In 1715 the effective 
force of the Macleods was 1,000 men, and in 
1745, 900. The chief, by the advice of Presi 
dent Forbes, did not join in the rebellion of the 
latter year, and so saved his estates, but many 
of his clansmen, burning with zeal for the 
cause of Prince Charles, fought in the ranks 
of the rebel army. 

It has been mentioned that the bad treat 
ment which a daughter of the chief of the 
Macleods experienced from her husband, the 
captain of the Clanranald, had caused them 
to take the first opportunity of inflicting a 
signal vengeance on the Macdonalds. The 
merciless act of Macleod, by which the entire 
population of an island was cut off at once, is 
described by Mr Skene, 5 and is shortly thus. 
Towards the close of the 16th century, a small 
number of Macleods accidentally landed on 
the island of Eigg, and were hospitably re 
ceived by the inhabitants. Offering, however, 
some incivilities to the young women of the 
island, they were, by the male relatives of the 
latter, bound hand and foot, thrown into a 
boat, and sent adrift. Being met and rescued 
by a party of their own clansmen, they were 
brought to Dunvegan, the residence of their 

6 Highlanders, vol. ii. p. 277. 



chief, to whom they told their story. Instantly 
manning his galleys, Macleod hastened to Eigg 
On descrying his approach, the islanders, with 
their wives and children, to the number of 
200 persons, took refuge in a large cave, situ 
ated in a retired and secret place. Here for 
two days they remained undiscovered, but 
having unfortunately sent out a scout to see if 
the Macieods were gone, their retreat was 
detected, but they refused to surrender. A 
stream of water fell over the entrance to the 
cave, and partly concealed it. This Macleoc 
caused to be turned from its course, and then 
ordered all the wood and other combustibles 
which could be found to be piled up around 
its mouth, and set fire to, when all within the 
cave were suffocated. 

The Siol Tormod continued to possess 
Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg till near the 
close of the 18th century. The former and 
the latter estates have now passed into other 
hands. A considerable portion of Harris is 
the property of the Earl of Duiimore, and 
many of its inhabitants have emigrated to 
Cape Breton and Canada. The climate of the 
island is said to be favourable to longevity. 
Martin, in his account of the Western Isles, 
says he knew several in Harris of 90 years 
of age. One Lady Macleod, who passed the 
most of her time here, lived to 103, had then 
a comely head of hair and good teeth, and en 
joyed a perfect understanding till the week 
she died. Her son, Sir Norman Macleod, 
died at 96, and his grandson, Donald Mac 
leod of Bernera, at 91. Glenelg became the 
property first of Charles Grant, Lord Glenelg, 
and afterwards of Mr Baillie. From the 
family of Bernera, one of the principal branches 
of the Harris Macleods, sprung the Macleod s 
of Luskincler, of which Sir William Macleod 
Bannatyne, a lord of session, was a cadet. 

The first of the house of BASAY, the late 
proprietor of which is the representative of 
the Lewis branch of the Macleods, was 
Malcolm Garbh Macleod, the second son of 
Malcolm, eighth chief of the Lewis. In 
the reign of James V. he obtained from his 
father in patrimony the island of Easay, which 
lies between Skye and the Eoss-shire district 
of Applecross. In 1569 the whole of the 
Easay family, except one infant, were barbar 

ously massacred by one of their own kinsmen, 
under the following circumstances. John 
MacGhilliechallum Macleod of Easay, called 
Ian na Tuaidh, or John with the axe, who 
had carried off Janet Mackenzie, the first 
wife of his chief, Eoderick Macleod of the 
Lewis, married her, after her divorce, and 
had by her several sons and one daughter. 
The latter became the wife of Alexander 
Eoy Mackenzie, a grandson of Hector or 
Eachen Eoy, the first of the Mackenzies of 
Gairloch, a marriage which gave great offence 
to his clan, the Siol vie Gillechallum, as the 
latter had long been at feud with that par 
ticular branch of the Mackenzies. On Janet 
Mackenzie s death, he of the axe married a 
sister of a kinsman of his own, Euari Macallan 
Macleod, who, from his venomous disposition, 
was surnamed Nimhneach. The latter, to 
obtain Easay for his nephew, his sister s son, 
resolved to cut off both his brother-in-law and 
his sons by the first marriage. He accordingly 
invited them to a feast in the island of Isay in 
Skye, and after it was over he left the apart 
ment. Then, causing them to be sent for one 
by one, he had each of them assassinated as 
they came out. He was, however, balked in 
his object, as Easay became the property of 
Malcolm or Ghilliechallum Garbh Macallaster 
Macleod, then a child, belonging to the direct 
line of the Easay branch, who was with his 
foster-father at the time. 8 Easay no longer 
belongs to the Macleods, they having been 
compelled to part with their patrimony some 
years ago. 

The Macleods of ASSYNT, one of whom be 
trayed the great Montrose in 1650, were also 
a branch of the Macleods of Lewis. That 
estate, towards the end of the 17th century, 
became the property of the Mackenzies, and 
the family is now represented by Macleod of 
Geanies. The Macleods of Cadboll are cadets 
of those of Assynt. 

6 Gregory s Highlands aiid Isles of Scotland, p. 




Clan Chattau Chiefslup Mackintoshes Battle of 
North Inch Macpliersons MacGillivrays Shaws 

Farquharsons Macbeans Macphails Gows 

MacQueens Cattanachs. 


OP the clan Chattan little or nothing authentic 
is known previous to the last six hundred years. 
Their original home in Scotland, their paren 
tage, even their name, have been disputed. One 
party brings them from Germany, and settles 
them in the district of Moray; another brings 
them from Ireland, and settles them in Loch- 
aber; and a third makes them the original 
inhabitants of Sutherland and Caithness. 
With regard to their name there is still greater 
variety of opinion: the Catti, a Teutonic tribe; 
Catav, "the high side of the Ord of Caith 
ness ;" Gillicattan Mor, their alleged founder, 
said to have lived in the reign of Malcolm II., 
1003-1033; cat, a weapon, all have been 
advanced as the root name. We cannot pre 
tend to decide on such a matter, which, in the 
entire absence of any record of the original 
clan, will no doubt ever remain one open to 
dispute; and therefore we refrain from entering 
at length into the reasons for and against 
these various derivations. Except the simple 
fact that such a clan existed, and occupied 
Lochaber for some time (how long cannot be 
said) before the 14th century, nothing further of 
it is known, although two elaborate genealogies 
of it are extant one in the MS. of 1450 
discovered by Mr Skene ; the other (which 
whatever its faults, is no doubt much more 
worthy of credence) compiled by Sir ^Eneas 
Macpherson in the 17th century. 

Mr Skene, on the authority of the MS. of 
1450, makes out that the clan was the most 
important of the tribes owning the sway of 
the native Earls or Maormors of Moray, and" 
represents it as occupying the whole of Bade- 
noch, the greater part of Lochaber, and the 
districts of Strathnairn and Strathdearn, hold- 

7 For much of this account of the clan Chattan 
we are indebted to the kindness of A. Mackintosh 
Shaw, Esy. of London, who has revised the whole. 
Ho s forthcoming history of the clan, we have reason 
to believe, will be the most valuable clan history yet 

ing their lands in chief of the crown. But it 
seems tolerably evident that the MS. of 1450 
is by no means to be relied upon; Mr Skene 
liimself says it is not trustworthy before A.D. 
1000, and there is no good ground for suppos 
ing it to be entirely trustworthy 100 or even 
200 years later. The two principal septs of 
this clan in later times, the Macpliersons and 
the Mackintoshes, Mr Skene, on the authority 
of the MS., deduces from two brothers, Neach- 
tan and Neill, sons of Gillicattan Mor, and 011 
the assumption that this is correct, he proceeds 
to pronounce judgment on the rival claims of 
Macpherson of Cluny and Mackintosh of 
Mackintosh to the headship of clan Chattan. 

Mr Skene, from " the investigations which 
he has made into the history of the tribes 
of Moray, as well as into the history and 
nature of Highland traditions," conceives 
it to be established by " historic authority," 
that the Macphersons are the lineal, and 
feudal representatives of the ancient chiefs of 
the clan Chattan, and " that they possess that 
right by blood to the chief ship, of which no 
charters from the crown, and no usurpation, 
however successful and continued, can deprive 
them." It is not very easy to understand, 
however, by what particular process of reason 
ing Mr Skene has arrived at this conclu 
sion. For supposing it were established "be 
yond all doubt," as he assumes it to be, by 
the manuscript of 1450, that the Macpher 
sons and the Mackintoshes are descended 
from Neachtan and ]S T eill, the two sons of 
Gillichattan-more, the founder of the race, 
it does not therefore follow that " the Mack 
intoshes were an usurping branch of the 
clan," and that " the Macphersons alone pos 
sessed the right of blood to that hereditary 
dignity." This is indeed taking for granted 
the very point to be proved, in fact the whole 
matter in dispute. Mr Skene affirms that the 
descent of the Macphersons from the ancient 
chiefs " is not denied," which is in reality 
saying nothing to the purpose; because the 
question is, not whether this pretended descent 
has or has not been denied, but whether it can 
now be established by satisfactory evidence. 
To make out a case in favour of the Macpher 
sons, it is necessary to show first, that the 
descendants of Neachtan formed the eldest 



branch, and consequently were the chiefs of 
the clan ; secondly, that the Macphersons are 
the lineal descendants and the feudal repre 
sentatives of this same Neachtan, whom they 
claim as their ancestor; and, lastly, that the 
Mackintoshes are really descended from Neill, 
the second son of the founder of the race, and 
not from Macduff, Earl of Fife, as they them 
selves have always maintained. But we do 
not observe that any of these points has been 
formally proved by evidence, or that Mr Skene 
has deemed it necessary to fortify his assertions 
by arguments, and deductions from historical 
facts. His statement, indeed, amounts just to 
this That the family of Macheth, the de 
scendants of Head or Heth, the son of Neach- 
tan, were "identical with the chiefs of clan 
Chattan ;" and that the clan Vurich, or Mac 
phersons, were descended from these chiefs. 
But, in the first place, the "identity" which 
is here contended for, and upon which the 
whole qiiestion hinges, is imagined rather than 
proved ; it is a conjectural assumption rather 
than an inference deduced from a series of 
probabilities : and, secondly, the descent of 
the clan Vurich from the Macheths rests solely 
upon the authority of a Celtic genealogy (the 
manuscript of 1450) which, whatever weight 
may be given to it when supported by col 
lateral evidence, is not alone sufficient autho 
rity to warrant anything beyond a mere con 
jectural inference. Hence, so far from granting 
to Mr Skene that the hereditary title of the 
Macphersons of Cluny to the chiefship of clan 
Chattan has been clearly established by him, 
we humbly conceive that he has left the 
question precisely where he found it. The 
title of that family may be the preferable one, 
but it yet remains to be shown that such is 
the case. 

Tradition certainly makes the Macphersons 
of Cluny the male representatives of the chiefs 
of the old clan Chattan ; but even if this is 
correct, it does not therefore follow that they 
have now, or have had for the last six hundred 
years, any right to be regarded as chiefs of the 
clan. The same authority, fortified by written 
evidence of a date only about fifty years 
later than Skene s MS., in a MS. history of 
the Mackintoshes, states that Angus, 6th 
chief of Mackintosh, married the daughter and 

only child of Dugall Dall, chief of clan Chat- 
tan, in the end of the 13th century, and with 
her obtained the lands occupied by the clan, 
with the station of leader, and that he was 
received as such by the clansmen. Similar 
instances of the abrogation of what is called 
the Highland law of succession are to be found 
in Highland history, and on this ground alone 
the title of the Mackintosh chiefs seems to be 
a good one. Then again we find them owned 
and followed as captains of clan Chattan even 
by the Macphersons themselves up to the 17th 
century; while in hundreds of charters, bonds 
and deeds of every description, given by kings, 
Lords of the Isles, neighbouring chiefs, and 
the septs of clan Chattan itself, is the title 
of captain of clan Chattan acceded to them 
as early as the time of David II. Mr Skene, 
indeed, employs their usage of the term Captain 
to show that they had no right of blood to the 
headship a right they have never claimed, 
although there is perhaps no reason why they 
should not claim such a right from Eva. By 
an argument deduced from the case of the 
Camerons the weakness of which will at once 
be seen on a careful examination of his state 
ments he presumes that they were the oldest 
cadets of the clan, and had usurped the chief- 
ship. No doubt the designation captain was 
used, as Mr Skene says, when the actual leader 
of a clan was a person who had no right by 
blood to that position, but it does not by 
any means follow that he is right in assuming 
that those who are called captains were oldest 
cadets. Hector, bastard son of Eerquhard 
Mackintosh, while at the head of his clan 
during the minority of the actual chief, his 
distant cousin, is in several deeds styled 
captain of clan Chattan, and he was certainly 
not oldest cadet of the house of Mackintosh. 

It is not for us to offer any decided opinion 
respecting a matter where the pride and pre 
tensions of rival families are concerned. It 
may therefore be sufficient to observe that, 
whilst the Macphersons rest their claims chiefly 
on tradition, the Mackintoshes have produced, 
and triumphantly appealed to charters and 
documents of every description, in support of 
their pretensions; and that it is not very easy to 
see how so great a mass of written evidence can 
be overcome by merely calling into court 



Tradition to give testimony adverse to its 
credibility. The admitted fact of the Mack 
intosh family styling themselves captains of 
the clan does not seem to warrant any inference 
which can militate against their pretensions. 
On the contrary, the original assumption of 
this title obviously implies that no chief was 
in existence at the period when it was assumed; 
and its continuance, unchallenged and undis 
puted, affords strong presumptive proof in 
support of the account given by the Mackin 
toshes as to the original constitution of their 
title. The idea of usurpation appears to be 
altogether preposterous. The right alleged by 
the family of Mackintosh was not direct but 
collateral ; it was founded on a marriage, and 
not derived by descent; and hence, probably, 
the origin of the secondary or subordinate 
title of captain which that family assumed. 
But can any one doubt that if a claim founded 
upon a preferable title had been asserted, the 
inferior pretension must have given way? Or 
is it in any degree probable that the latter 
would have been so fully recognised, if there 
had existed any lineal descendant of the 
ancient chiefs in a condition to prefer a claim 
founded upon the inherent and indefeasible 
right of blood 1 

Further, even allowing that the Macpher- 
sons are the lineal male representatives of the 
old clan Chattan chiefs, they can have no 
possible claim to the headship of the clan 
Chattan of later times, which was composed 
of others besides the descendants of the 
old clan. The Mackintoshes also repudiate 
any connection by blood with the old clan 
Chattan, except through the heiress of that 
clan who married their chief in 1291; and, 
indeed, such a thing was never thought of 
until MrSkene started the idea; consequently 
the Macphersons can have no claim over them, 
or over the families which spring from them. 
The great body of the clan, the historical clan 
Chattan, have always owned and followed the 
chief of Mackintosh as their leader and cap 
tain the term captain being simply employed 
to include the whole and until the close of 
the 17th century no attempt was made to de 
prive the Mackintosh chiefs of this title. 

Among many other titles given to the chief 
of the Mackintoshes within the last 700 years, 

are, according to Mr Fraser-Mackiiitosh, those 
of Captain of Clan Chattan, Chief of Clan 
Chattan, and Principal of Clan Chattan. The 
following on this subject is from the pen of 
Lachlan Shaw, the historian of Moray, whose 
knowledge of the subject entitled him to speak 
with authority. It is printed in the account 
of* the Kilravock Family issued by the Spald- 
ing Club. "Eve Catach, who married Mac 
intosh, was the heir-female (Clunie s ancestor 
being the heir-male), and had Macintosh as 
sumed her surname, he would (say the Mac- 
Phersons) have been chief of the Clanchatan, 
according to the custom of Scotland. But this 
is an empty distinction. For, if the right of 
chiftanry is, jure sanguinis, inherent in the 
heir-female, she conveys it, and cannot but 
convey it to her son, whatever surname he 
takes; nam jura sanguinis non prcescribunt. 
And if it is not inherent in her, she cannot 
convey it to her son, although he assume her 
surname. Be this as it will, Macintosh s 
predecessors were, for above 300 years, de 
signed Captains of Clanchatan, in royal char 
ters and commissions, in bonds, contracts, 
history, heraldrie, &c. ; the occasion of which 
title was, that several tribes or clans (every 
clan retaining its own surname) united in the 
general designation of Clanchatan; and of this 
incorporated body, Macintosh was the head 
leader or captain. These united tribes were 
Macintosh, MacPherson, Davidson, Shaw, 
MacBean, MacGilivray, MacQueen, Smith, 
Maclntyre, MacPhail, &c. In those times of 
barbarity and violence, small and weak tribes 
found it necessary to unite with, or come under 
the patronage of more numerous and powerful 
clans. And as long as the tribes of Clanchatan 
remained united (which was till the family of 
Gordon, breaking with the family of Mac 
intosh, disunited them, and broke their coali 
tion), they were able to defend themselves 
against any other clan." 

In a MS., probably written by the same 
author, a copy of which now lies before us, a 
lengthened enquiry into the claims of the rival 
chiefs is concluded thus : " In a word, if by the 
chief of the clan Chattan is meant the heir of 
the family, it cannot be doubted that Cluny is 
chief. If the heir whatsoever is meant, then 
unquestionably Mackintosh is chief; and who- 



ever is chief, since the captaincy and command 
of the collective body of the clan Chattan was 
for above 300 years in the family of Mackin 
tosh, I cannot see but, if such a privilege now 
remains, it is still in that family." In refer 
ence to this much-disputed point, we take the 
liberty of quoting a letter of the Kev. W. 
G. Shaw, of Forfar. He has given the 
result of his inquiries in several privately 
printed brochures, but it is hoped that ere 
long he will place at the disposal of all who 
take an interest in these subjects the large 
stores of information he must have accumu 
lated on many matters connected with the 
Highlands. Writing to the editor of this 
book he says, on the subject of the chiefship 
of clan Chattan : 

" Skene accords too much to the Macpher- 
sons in one way, but not enough in another. 

" (Too much) He says that for 200 years 
the Mackintoshes headed the clan Chattan, 
but only as captain, not as chief. But during 
these 200 years we have bonds, &c., cropping 
up now and then in which the Macphersons 
are only designated as (M. or N.) Macpherson 
of Cluny. Their claim to headship seems to 
have been thoroughly in abeyance till the mid 
dle of the 17th century. 

" (Too little) For he says the Macphersons 
in their controversy (1672) before the Lyon 
King, pled only tradition, whereas they pled 
the facts. 

" De jure the Macphersons were chiefs; de 
facto , they never were; and they only claimed 
to use the title when clanship began to be a 
thing of the past, in so far as fighting was 

" The Macphersons seem to have been 
entitled to the chieftainship by right of birth, 
but de facto they never had it. The might of 
the Macintosh had made his right, as is 
evidenced in half-a-hundred bonds of manrent, 
deeds of various kinds, to be found in the 
Thanes of Cawdor, and the Spalding Club 
Miscellany passim. He is always called 
Capitane or Captane of clan Quhattan, the 
spelling being scarcely ever twice the same." 

Against Mackintosh s powerful claims sup 
ported by deeds, &c., the following statements 
are given from the Macpherson MS. in Mr 
\V. G. Shaw s possession : 

I. In 1370, the head of the Macphersons 
disowned the head of the Mackintoshes at In- 
vernahavon. Tradition says Macpherson with 
drew from the field without fighting, i. e., 
he mutinied on a point of precedence between 
him and Mackintosh. 

II. Donald More Macpherson fought along 
with Marr at Harlaw, agaimi Donald of the 
Isles with Mackintosh on his side, the two 
chiefs being then on different sides (1411). 

III. Donald Oig Macpherson fought on tho 
side of Huntly at the battle of Corrichie, and 
was killed; Mackintosh fought on the other 
side (1562). 

IY. Andrew Macpherson of Cluny held the 
Castle of Euthven, A.D. 1594, against Argyll, 
Mackintosh fighting on the side of Argyll. 8 

This tends to show that when the Macplier- 
sons joined with the Mackintoshes, it was (they 
alleged) voluntarily, and not on account of 
their being bound to follow Mackintosh as 

In a loose way, no doubt, Mackintosh may 
sometimes have been called Chief of Clan 
Chattan, but Captain is the title generally 
given in deeds of all kinds. He was chief of 
the Mackintoshes, as Cluny was chief of the 
Macphersons by right of blood; but by agree 
ment amongst the Shaws, Macgillivrays, Clarkes, 
(Clerach), Clan Dai, &c., renewed from time 
to time, Mackintosh was recognised as Captain 
of Clan Chattan. 

AVe cannot forbear adding as a fit moral to 
this part of the subject, the conclusion come 
to by the writer of the MS. already quoted : 
"After what I have said upon this angry point, 
I cannot but be of opinion, that in our day, 
when the right of chieftanrie is so little re 
garded, when the power of the chiefs is so 
much abridged, when armed convocations of 
the lieges are discharged by law, and when a 
clan are not obliged to obey their chief unless 
he bears a royal commission, when matters 
are so, tis my opinion that questions about 
chieftainrie and debates about precedency of 
that kind, are equally idle and unprofitable, 

8 Mr Mackintosh Shaw says that, in 1591, Huntly 
obtained a bond of manrent from Andrew Macpherson 
and his immediate family, the majority of the Mac 
phersons remaining faithful to Mackintosh. State 
ments II. and III. are founded only on the Macpher 
son MS. 


and that gentlemen should live in strict friend 
ship as they are connected by blood, "by affin 
ity, or by the vicinity of their dwellings and 
the interest of their families." 

The clan Chattan of history, according to 
Mr Eraser-Mackintosh of Drummond, 9 was 
composed of the following clans, who were 
either allied to the Mackintoshes and Mac- 
phersons by genealogy, or who, for their own 
protection or other reasons, had joined the 
confederacy : The Mackintoshes, Macpher- 
sons, Macgillivrays, Shaws, Earquharsons, 
Macbeans, Macphails, clan Tarril, Gows (said 
to be descended from Henry the Smith, of 
North Inch fame), Clarks, Macqueens, David 
sons, Cattanachs, elan Ay, Nobles, Gillespies. 
" In addition to the above sixteen tribes, the 
Macleans of Dochgarroch or clan Tearleach, 
the Dallases of Cantray, and others, generally 
followed the captain of clan Chattan as his 
friends." Of some of these little or nothing 
is known except the name ; but others, as the 
Mackintoshes, Macphersons, Shaws, Farquhar- 
sons, &c., have on the whole a complete and 
well-detailed history. 


BADGE According to some, Boxwood, others, 
Eed Whortleberry. 

According to the Mackintosh MS. Histories 
(the first of which was compiled about 1500, 
other two dated in the 16th century, all of 
which were embodied in a Latin MS. by Lach- 
lan Mackintosh of Kinrara about 1680), the 

9 Antiquarian Notes, p. 358. 


progenitor of the family was Shaw or Seach, 
a son of Macdutf, Earl of Fife, who, for his 
assistance in quelling a rebellion among the 
inhabitants of Moray, was presented by King 
Malcolm IV. with the lands of Petty and 
Breachly and the forestry of Strathearn, being 
made also constable of the castle at Inverness. 
From the high position and power of his father, 
he was styled by the Gaelic-speaking population 
Mac-an-Toisich, i.e., " son of the principal or 
foremost." Tus, tos, or tosich, is " the beginning 
or first part of anything," whence "foremost" 
or " principal." Mr Skene says the tosich was 
the oldest cadet of a clan, and that Mackin 
tosh s ancestor was oldest cadet of clan Chat- 
tan. Professor Cosmo Innes says the tosich 
was the administrator of the crown lands, the 
head man of a little district, who became under 
the Saxon title of Thane hereditary tenant; 
and it is worthy of note that these functions 
were performed by the successor of the above 
mentioned Shaw, who, the family history says, 
" was made chamberlain of the king s revenues 
in those parts for life." It is scarcely likely, 
however, that the name Mackintosh arose 
either in this manner or in the manner stated 
by Mr Skene, as there would be many tosachs, 
and in every clan an oldest cadet. The name 
seems to imply some peculiar circumstances, 
and these are found in the son of the great 
Thane or Earl of Fife. 

Little is known of the immediate successors 
of Shaw Macduff.. They appear to have made 
their residence in the castle of Inverness, which 
they defended on several occasions against the 
marauding bands from the west. Some of 
them added considerably to the possessions of 
the family, which soon took firm root in the 
north. Towards the close of the 1 3th century, 
during the minority of Angus MacFerquhard, 
6th chief, the Comyns seized the castle of 
Inverness, and the lands of Geddes and Eait 
belonging to the Mackintoshes, and these 
were not recovered for more than a century. 
It was this chief who in 1291-2 married Eva, 
the heiress of clan Chattan, and who acquired 
with her the lands occupied by that clan, 
together with the station of leader of her 
father s clansmen. He appears to have been 
a chief of great activity, and a staunch sup 
porter of Eobert Bruce, with whom he took 




part iu the battle of Bannockburn. He is 
placed second in the list of chiefs given by 
General Stewart of Garth as present in this 
battle. In the time of his son William the 
sanguinary feud with the Camerons broke out, 
which continued up to the middle of the 17th 
century. The dispute arose concerning the 
lands of Glenlui and Locharkaig, which Angus 
Mackintosh had acquired with Eva, and which 
in his absence had been occupied by the 
Camerons. William fought several battles 
for the recovery of these lands, to which in 
1337 he acquired a charter from the Lord of 
the Isles, confirmed in 1357 by David II., but 
his efforts were unavailing to dislodge the 
Camerons. The feud was continued by his 
successor, Lauchlan, 8th chief, each side occa 
sionally making raids into the other s country. 
In one of these is said to have occurred the 
well-known dispute as to precedency between 
two of the septs of clan Chattan, the Mac- 
phersons and the Davidsons. According to 
tradition, the Camerons had entered Badenoch, 
where Mackintosh was then residing, and had 
seized a large " spreagh." Mackintosh s force, 
which followed them, was composed chiefly of 
these two septs, the Macphersons, however, 
considerably exceeding the rest. A dispute 
arising between the respective leaders of the 
Macphersons and Davidsons as to who should 
lead the right wing, the chief of Mackintosh, 
as superior to both, was appealed to, and de 
cided in favour of Davidson. Offended at 
this, the Macphersons, who, if all accounts are 
true, had undoubtedly the better right to the 
post of honour, withdrew from the field of 
battle, thus enabling the Camerons to secure 
a victory. When, however, they saw that 
their friends were defeated, the Macpher 
sons are said to have returned to the field, 
and turned the victory of the Camerons 
into a defeat, killing their leader, Charles 
MacGillonie. The date of this affair, which 
took place at Invernahavon, is variously fixed 
at 1370 and 1381, and some writers make 
it the cause which led to the famous battle 
on the North Inch of Perth twenty-six years 

As is well known, great controversies have 
raged as to the clans who took part in the 
Perth fight, and those writers just referred to 

decide the question by making the Macpher 
sons and Davidsons the combatant clans. 1 
Wyntoun s words are 

" They three score ware clannys twa, 
Clahynnhe Qwhewyl and Clachinyha, 
Of thir twa kynnys war thay men, 
Thretty again thretty then, 
And thare thay had thair chiftanys twa, 
SCHA FARQWHARIS SONE wes ane of thay, 

On this the Rev, W. G. Shaw of Forfar re 
marks," One writer (Dr Macpherson) tries to. 
make out that the clan Yha or Ha was the clan 
Shaw. Another makes them to be the clan 
Dhai or Davidsons. Another (with Skene) 
makes them Macphersons. As to the clan 
Quhele, Colonel Robertson (author of Histo 
rical Proofs of the Highlanders, ) supposes that 
the clan Quhele was the clan Shaw, partly 
from the fact that in the Scots Act of Parlia 
ment of 1392 (vol. i. p. 217), whereby several 
clans were forfeited for their share in the raid 
of Angus [described in vol. i.], there is mention 
made of Slurach, or (as it is supposed it ought 
to have been written) Sheach 2 et omnes clan 
Quhele. Then others again suppose that the 
clan Quhele was the clan Mackintosh. Others 
that it was the clan Cameron, whilst the clan 
Yha was the Clan-na-Chait or clan Chattan. 

" From the fact that, after the clan Battle 
on the Inch, the star of the Mackintoshes was 
decidedly in the ascendant, there can "be little 
doubt but that they formed at least a section 
of the winning side, whether that side were 
the clan Yha or the clan Quhele. 

" Wyntoun declines to say on which side 
the victory lay. He writes - 

Wha had the waur fare at the last, 
I will nocht say. 

It is not very likely that subsequent writers 
knew more of the subject than he did, .so that 
after all, we are left very much to the tradi 
tions of the families themselves for information. 
The Camerons, Davidsons, Mackintoshes, and 
Macphersons, all say that they took part in 

1 For details as to this celebrated combat, see vol. 
i. ch. v. The present remarks are supplementary to 
the former, and will serve to correct several inac 

2 Every one acquainted with the subject, knows 
what havoc Lowland scribes have all along made of 
Gaelic names in legal and public documents. 



the fray. The Shaws tradition is, that their 
ancestor, being a relative of the Mackintoshes, 
took the place of the aged chief of that section 
of the clan, on the day of battle. The chroni 
clers vary as to the names of the clans, but 
they all agree as to the name of one of the 
leaders, viz., that it was Shaw. Tradition and 
history are agreed on this one point. 

" One thing emerges clearly from the confu 
sion as to the clans who fought, and as to 
which of the modern names of the contending 
clans was represented by the clans Yha and 
Quhele, one thing emerges, a Shaw leading 
the victorious party, and a race of Shaws 
springing from him as their great if not their 
first founder, a race, who for ages afterwards, 
lived in the district and fought under the 
banner of the Laird of Mackintosh." 3 

As to the Davidsons, the tradition which 
vouches for the particulars of the fight at 
Invernahavon expressly says that the David 
sons were almost to a man cut off, and it is 
scarcely likely that they would, within so 
short a time, be able to muster sufficient men 
either seriously to disturb the peace of the 
country or to provide thirty champions. Mr 
Skene solves the question by making the 
Mackintoshes and Macphersons the combatant 
clans, and the cause of quarrel the right to the 
headship of clan Chattan. But the traditions 
of both families place them on the winning 
side, and there is no trace whatever of any 
dispute at this time, or previous to the 16th 
century, as to the chiefship. The most pro 
bable solution of this difficulty is, that the 
clans who fought at Perth were the clan 
Chattan (i.e., Mackintoshes, Macphersons, and 
others) and the Camerons. Mr Skene, indeed, 
says that the only clans who have a tradition 
of their ancestors having been engaged are the 
Mackintoshes, Macphersons, and Camerons, 
though he endeavours to account for the pre 
sence of the last named clan by making them 
assist the Macphersons against the Mackin 
toshes. 4 The editor of the Memoirs of Lochiel, 
mentioning this tradition of the Camerons, as 
well as the opinion of Skene, says, " It may 
be observed, that the side allotted to the 

3 The Mackintosh MS. of 1500 states that Lanchlan, 
the Mackintosh chief, gave Shaw a grant of Rothie- 
murchus " for his valour on the Inch that day." 

* Vol. ii. pp. 175-178. 

Camerons (viz. the unsuccessful side) affords 
the strongest internal evidence of its correct 
ness. Had the Camerons been described as 
victors it would have been very different." 

The author of the recently discovered MS. 
account of the clan Chattan already referred 
to, says that by this conflict Cluny s right to 
lead the van was established ; and in the 
meetings of clan Chattan he sat on Mackin 
tosh s right hand, and when absent that seat 
was kept empty for him. Henry Wynde 
likewise associated with the clan Chattan, 
and his descendants assumed the name of 
Smith, and were commonly called Sliochd a 
Gow Chroim. 

Lauchlan, chief of Mackintosh, in whose 
time these events happened, died in 1407, at 
a good old age. In consequence of his age 
and infirmity, his kinsman, Shaw Mackintosh, 
had headed the thirty clan Chattan cham 
pions at Perth, and for his success was re 
warded with the possession of the lands of 
Rothiemurchus in Badenoch. The next 
chief, Ferquhard, was compelled by his clans 
men to resign his post in consequence of 
his mild, inactive disposition, and his uncle 
Malcolm (son of William Mac-Angus by a 
second marriage) succeeded as 10th chief of 
Mackintosh, and 5th captain of clan Chattan. 
Malcolm Avas one of the most warlike and suc 
cessful of the Mackintosh chiefs. During his 
long chiefship of nearly fifty years, he made 
frequent incursions into the Cameron terri 
tories, and waged a sanguinary war with the 
Comyns, in which he recovered the lands taken 
from his ancestor. In 1411 he was one of the 
principal commanders in the army of Donald, 
Lord of the Isles, in the battle of Harlaw, 
where he is by some stated incorrectly to 
have been killed. In 1429, when Alexander, 
Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross ; broke 
out into rebellion at the head of 10,000 
men, on the advance of the king into Loch- 
aber, the clan Chattan and the clan Came 
ron deserted the earl s banners, went over 
to the royal army, and fought on the royal 
side, the rebels being defeated. In 1431, 
Malcolm Mackintosh, captain of the clan 
Chattan, received a grant of the lands of 
Alexander of Lochaber, uncle of the Earl 
of Ross, that chieftain having been forfeited 




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" Tlie tune is as old as 1550 or thereabouts. An^us Mackay in las Pipe Music Book gives it 1526, ami says it was 
composed on the death of Lauchlan, the 14th Laird ; but we believe that it was composed by the famous family bard 
Macintyre, upon the death of William, who was murdered by the Countess of Huntly, in 1550. This bard had seen 
within the space of 40 years, four captains of the Clan Chattan meet with violent deaths, and his deep feelings found 
vent in the refrain, 

" Mackintosh, the excellent They have laid thee 

They have lifted ; Low, they have laid thee." 

These are the only words in existence which I can hear of. 



for engaging in the rebellion of Donald Bal- 
locli. Having afterwards contrived to make 
his peace with the Lord of the Isles, he re 
ceived from him, between 1443 and 1447, a 
confirmation of his lands in Lochaber, with 
a grant of the office of bailiary of that district. 
His son, Dnncan, styled captain of the clan 
Chattan in 1467, was in great favour -with 
John, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross, whose 
sister, Flora, he married, and who bestowed on 
him the office of steward of Lochaber, which 
had been held by his father. He also received 
the lands of Keppoch and others included in 
.that lordship. 

On the forfeiture of his brother-in-law in 
1475, James III. granted to the same Duncan 
Mackintosh a charter, of date July 4th, 1476, 
of the lands of Moymore, and various others, 
in Lochaber. When the king in 1493 pro 
ceeded in person to the West Highlands, Dun 
can Mackintosh, captain of the clan Chattan, 
was one of the chiefs, formerly among the vas 
sals of the Lord of the Isles, who went to meet 
him and make their submission to him. These 
chiefs received in return royal charters of the 
lands they had previously held under the 
Lord of the Isles, and Mackintosh obtained 
a charter of the lands of Keppoch, Innerorgan, 
and others, with the office of bailiary of the 
same. In 1495, Farquhar Mackintosh, his 
son, and Kenneth Oig Mackenzie of Kintail, 
were imprisoned by the king in Edinburgh 
castle. Two years thereafter, Farquhar, who 
seems about this time to have succeeded his 
father as captain of the clan Chattan, and 
Mackenzie, made their escape from Edinburgh 
castle, but, on their way to the Highlands, 
they were seized at Torwood by the laird of 
Buchanan. Mackenzie, having offered resist 
ance, was slain, but Mackintosh was taken 
alive, and confined at D unbar, where he re 
mained till after the battle of Flodden. 

Farquhar was succeeded by his cousin, Wil 
liam Mackintosh, who had married Isabel 
M Niven, heiress of Dunnachtan : but John 
Roy Mackintosh, the head of another branch of 
the family, attempted by force to get himself 
recognised as captain of the clan Chattan, and 
failing in his design, he assassinated his rival 
at Inverness in 1515. Being closely pursued, 
however, he was overtaken and slain at Glen- 

esk. Lauchlan Mackintosh, the brother of the 
murdered chief, was then placed at the head 
of the clan. He is described by Bishop 
Lesley as "a verrie honest and wyse gentle 
man, an barroun of gude rent, quha keipit hes 
hole ken, friendes and tennentis in honest and 
guid rewll." The strictness with which he 
ruled his clan raised him up many enemies 
among them, and, like his brother, he was cut 
off by the hand of an assassin. " Some wicked 
persons," says Lesley, " being impatient of vir 
tuous living, stirred up one of his own princi 
pal kinsmen, called James Malcolmson, who 
cruelly and treacherously slew his chief." 
This was in the year 1526. To avoid the 
vengeance of that portion of the clan by whom 
the chief was beloved, Malcolmson and his 
followers took refuge in the island in the loch 
of Rothiemurchus, but they were pursued to 
their hiding place, and slain there. 

Lauchlan had married the sister of the Earl 
of Moray, and by her had a son, William, who 
on his father s death was but a child. The 
clan therefore made choice of Hector Mackin 
tosh, a bastard son of Farquhar, the chief 
who had been imprisoned in 1495, to act as 
captain till the young chief should come of 
age. The consequences of this act have already 
been narrated in their proper place in the 
General History. On attaining the age of man 
hood William duly became head of the clan, 
and having been well brought up by the Earls 
of Moray and Cassilis, both his near relatives, 
was, according to Lesley, " honoured as a per 
fect pattern of virtue by all the leading men of 
the Highlands." During the life of his uncle, 
the Earl of Moray, his affairs prospered ; but 
shortly after that noble s death, he became in 
volved in a feud with the Earl of Huntly. He 
was charged with the heinous offence of con 
spiring against Huntly, the queen s lieutenant, 
and at a court held by Huntly at Aberdeen, on 
the 2d August 1550, was tried and convicted 
by a jury, and sentenced to lose his life and 
lands. Being immediately carried to Strath- 
bogie, he was beheaded soon after by Huntly s 
countess, the earl himself having given a 
pledge that his life should be spared. The 
story is told, though with grave errors, by Sir 

6 History of Scotland, p. 137. 



Walter Scott, in his Tales of a Grandfather. 6 
By Act of Parliament of 14th December 1557, 
the sentence was reversed as illegal, and the son 
of Mackintosh was restored to all his father s 
lands, to which Huntly added others as assyth- 
ment for the blood. But this act of atonement 
on Huntly s part was not sufficient to efface the 
deep grudge owed him by the clan Chattan on 
account of the execution of their chief, and 
he was accordingly thwarted by them in many 
of. his designs. 

In the time of this earl s grandson, the clan 
Chattan again came into collision with the 
powerful Gordons, and for four years a deadly 
feud raged between them. In consequence of 
certain of Huntly s proceedings, especially the 
murder of the Earl of Moray, a strong faction 
was formed against him, Lauchlan, 16th chief 
of Mackintosh, taking a prominent part. A 
full account of these disturbances in 1624 has 
already been given in its place in the General 

In this feud Huntly succeeded in detach 
ing the Macphersons belonging to the Cluny 
branch from the rest of clan Chattan, but the 
majority of that sept, according to the MS. 
history of the Mackintoshes, remained true to 
the chief of Mackintosh. These allies, how 
ever, were deserted by Huntly when he be 
came reconciled to Mackintosh, and in 1609 
Andrew Macpherson of Cluny, with all the 
other principal men of clan Chatfcan, signed a 
bond of union, in which they all acknowledged 
the chief of Mackintosh as captain and chief 
of clan Chattan. The clan Chattan were in 
Argyll s army at the battle of Glenlivat in 
1595, and with the Macleans formed the right 
wing, which made the best resistance to the 
Catholic earls, and was the last to quit the field. 

Cameron of Lochiel had been forfeited in 
1598 for not producing his title deeds, when 
Mackintosh claimed the lands of Glenluy and 
Locharkaig, of which he had kept forcible 
possession. In 1618 Sir Lauchlan, 17th 
chief of Mackintosh, prepared to carry into 
effect the acts of outlawry against Lochiel, 
who, on his part, put himself under the pro 
tection of the Marquis of Huntly, Mackintosh s 
mortal foe. In July of the same year Sir 

6 Vol. ii. r . 7. 

Lauchlan obtained a commission of fire and 
sword against the Macdonalds of Keppoch for 
laying waste his lands in Lochaber. As he 
conceived that he had a right to the services 
of all his clan, some of whom were tenants and 
dependents of the Marquis of .Huntly, he 
ordered the latter to follow him, and compelled 
such of them as were refractory to accompany 
him into Lochaber. This proceeding gave 
great offence to Lord Gordon, Earl of Enzie, 
the marquis s son, who summoned Mack 
intosh before the Privy Council, for having, 
as he asserted, exceeded his commission. He 
was successful in obtaining the recall of Sir 
Lauchlan s commission, and obtaining a new 
one in his own favour. The consequences of 
this are told in vol. i. ch. x. 

During the wars of the Covenant, William, 
18th chief, was at the head of the clan, but 
owing to feebleness of constitution took no 
active part in the troubles of that period. He 
was, however, a decided loyalist, and among 
the Mackintosh papers are several letters, both 
from the unhappy Charles I. and his son 
Charles II., acknowledging his good affection 
and service. The Mackintoshes, as well as 
the Macphersons and Farquharsons, were with 
Montrose in considerable numbers, and, in 
fact, the great body of clan Chattan took part 
in nearly all that noble s battles and expedi 

Shortly after the accession of Charles II., 
Lauchlan Mackintosh," to enforce his claims 
to the disputed lands of Glenluy and Loch 
arkaig against Cameron of Lochiel, raised 
his clan, and, assisted by the Macphersons, 
marched to Lochaber with 1500 men. He 
was met by Lochiel with 1200 men, of 
whom 300 were Macgregors. About 300 were 
armed with bows. General Stewart says : 
" When preparing to engage, the Earl of Bread- 
albane, who was nearly related to both chiefs, 
came in sight with 500 men, and sent them 
notice that if either of them refused to agree 
to the terms which he had to propose, he 
would throw his interest into the opposite 
scale. After some hesitation his offer of 
mediation was accepted, and the feud amicably 
and finally settled." This was in 1665, when 
the celebrated Sir Ewen Cameron was chief, 
and a satisfactorv arrangement having been 



made, the Camerons were at length left in un 
disputed possession of the lands of Glenluy and 
Locharkaig, which their various branches still 

In 1672 Duncan Macpherson of Cluny, 
having resolved to throw off all connexion with 
Mackintosh, made application to the Lyon 
office to have his arms matriculated as laird of 
Cluny Macpherson, and " the only and true 
representative of the ancient and honourable 
family of the clan Chattan." This request 
was granted; and, soon afterwards, when the 
Privy Council required the Highland chiefs to 
give security for the peaceable behaviour of 
their respective clans, Macpherson became 
bound for his clan under the designation of 
the lord of Cluny and chief of the Macpher- 
sons ; as he could only hold himself respon 
sible for that portion of the clan Chattan 
which bore his own name and were more par 
ticularly under his own control. As soon as 
Mackintosh was informed of this circumstance, 
he applied to the privy council and the Lyon 
office to have his own title declared, and that 
which had been granted to Macpherson re 
called and cancelled. An inquiry was accord 
ingly instituted, and both parties were ordered 
to produce evidence of their respective asser 
tions, when the council ordered Mackintosh to 
give bond for those of his dan, his vassals, 
those descended of his family, his men, tenants, 
and servants, and all dwelling upon his ground; 
and enjoined Cluny to give bond for those of 
his name of Macpherson, descended of his 
family, and his men, tenants, and servants, 
" without prejudice always to the laird of 
Mackintosh." In consequence of this decision, 
the armorial bearings granted to Macpherson 
were recalled, and they were again matriculated 
as those of Macpherson of Cluny. 

Between the Mackintoshes and the Macdon- 
alds of Keppoch, a feud had long existed, ori 
ginating in the claim of the former to the lands 
occupied by the latter, on the Braes of Loch- 
aber. The Macdonalds had no other right to 
their lands than what was founded on pre 
scriptive possession, whilst the Mackintosheshad 
a feudal title to the property, originally granted 
by the lords of the Isles, and, on their forfeit 
ure, confirmed by the crown. After various 
acts of hostility on both sides, the feud was at 

length terminated by " the last considerable 
clan battle which was fought in the Highlands." 
To dispossess the Macdonalds by force, Mackin 
tosh raised his clan, and, assisted by an inde 
pendent company of soldiers, furnished by tho 
government, marched towards Keppoch, but, 
on his arrival there, he found the place deserted. 
He was engaged in constructing a fort in Glen- 
roy, to protect his rear, when he received in 
telligence that the Macdonalds, reinforced by 
their kinsmen of Glengarry and Glencoe, were 
posted in great force at Mulroy. He imme 
diately marched against them, but was defeated 
and taken prisoner. At that critical moment, 
a large body of Macphersons appeared on the 
ground, hastening to the relief of the Mackin 
toshes, and Keppoch, to avoid another battle, 
was obliged to release his prisoner. It is 
highly to the honour of the Macphersons, that 
they came forward on the occasion so readily, 
to the assistance of the rival branch of the clan 
Chattan, and that so far from taking advantage 
of Mackintosh s misfortune, they escorted him 
safely to his own territories, and left him 
without exacting any conditions, or making 
any stipulations whatever as to the chiefship. 7 
From this time forth, the Mackintoshes and the 
Macphersons continued separate and independ 
ent clans, although both were included under 
the general de-nomination of the clan Chattan. 

At the Eevolution, the Mackintoshes adhered 
to the new government, and as the chief re 
fused to attend the Viscount Dundee, on that 
nobleman soliciting a friendly interview with 
him, the latter employed his old opponent, 
Macdonald of Keppoch, to carry off his cattle. 
In the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, the Mack 
intoshes took a prominent part. Lauchlan, 
20th chief, was actively engaged in the 15, 
and was at Preston on the Jacobite side. Tho 
exploits of Mackintosh of Borlum, in 1715, 
have been fully narrated in our account of the 
rebellion of that year. 

Lauchlan died in 1731, without issue, when 
the male line of William, the 18th chief, be 
came extinct. Lauchlan s successor, William 
Mackintosh, died in 1 741. Angus, the brother 
of the latter, the next chief, married Anne, 8 
daughter of Farquharson of Invercauld, a lady 

7 Skene s Hiyhla nders, ii. 188-9. 8 For por 

trait of Lady Anne Mackintosh, v. vol. i. p. 637. 



who distinguished herself greatly in the rebel 
lion of 1 745. When her husband was appointed 
to one of the three new companies in Lord 
London s Highlanders, raised in. the begin 
ning of that year, Lady Mackintosh traversed 
the country, and, in a very short time, en 
listed 97 of the 100 men required for a cap 
taincy. On the breaking out of the re 
bellion, she was equally energetic in favour 
of the Pretender, and, in the absence of 
Mackintosh, she raised two battalions of the 
clan for the prince, and placed them under the 
command of Colonel Macgillivray of Dun-ma- 

glass. In 1715 the Mackintoshes mustered 
1,500 men under Old Borlum, but in 1745 
scarcely one half of that number joined the 
forces of the Pretender. She conducted her 
followers in person to the rebel army at In 
verness, and soon after her husband was taken 
prisoner by the insurgents, when the prince 
delivered him over to his lady, saying that 
" he could not be in better security, or more 
honourably treated." 

At the battle of Culloden, the Mackintoshes 
were on the right of the Highland army, and 
in their eagerness to engage, they were the first 

Dalcross Castle. From a photograph in the possession of The Mackintosh. 

to attack the enemy s lines, losing their brave 
colonel and other officers in the impetuous 
charge. On the passing of the act for the 
abolition of the heritable jurisdictions of 1747, 
Mackintosh claimed 5000 as compensation for 
his hereditary office of steward of the lordship 
of Lochaber. 

In 1812, JEneas, the 23d laird of Mack 
intosh, was created a baronet. On his death, 
without heirs male, Jan. 21, 1820, the baro 
netcy expired, and his cousin, Alexander whose 
immediate sires had settled in Canada, succeeded 
to the estate. Alexander dying without issue 

was succeeded by his brother Angus, at whose 
death in 1833 Alexander, his son became 
Mackintosh of Mackintosh, and died in 1861, 
his son, Alexander ^Eiieas, now of Mackintosh, 
succeeded him as 27th chief of Mackintosh, and 
22nd captain of clan Chattan. 

The funerals of the chiefs of Mackintosh 
were always conducted with great ceremony 
and solemnity. When Lauchlan Mackintosh, 
the 19th chief, died, in the end of 1703, his 
body lay in state from 9th December that 
year, till 18th January 1704, in Dalcross Castle 
(which was built in 1G20, and is a good 




specimen of an old baronial Scotch mansion, 
and has been the residence of several chiefs), 
and 2000 of the clan Chattan attended his 
remains to the family vault at Petty. Kep- 
poch was present with 220 of the Macdonalds. 
Across the coffins of the deceased chiefs are 
laid the sword of William, twenty-first of 
Mackintosh, and a highly finished claymore, 
presented by Charles I., before he came to the 
throne, to Sir Lauchlan Mackintosh, gentleman 
of the bedchamber. 

The principal seat of The Mackintosh is 
Moy Hall, near Inverness. The original castle, 
now in ruins, stood on an island in Loch Moy. 

The eldest branch of the clan Mackintosh 
was the family of Kellachy, a small estate in 
Inverness-shire, acquired by them in the 17th 
century. Of this branch was the celebrated 
Sir James Mackintosh. His father, Captain 
John Mackintosh, was the tenth in descent 
from Allan, third son of Malcolm, tenth chief 
of the clan. Mackintosh of Kellachy, as the 
eldest cadet of the family, invariably held the 
appointment of captain of the watch to the 
chief of the clan in all his wars. 


BADGE. Boxwood. 

The Macphersons, the other principal branch 
of the clan Chattan, are in Gaelic called the 
clan Vuirich or Muiric.h, from an ancestor of 
that name, who, in the Gaelic MS. of 1450, is 
said to have been the " son of Swen, son of 
Heth, son of Nachtan, son of Gillichattan, 
from whom came the clan Chattan." The 
word Gillichattan is supposed by some to mean 

a votary or servant of St Kattan, a Scottish 
saint, as Gillichrist (Gilchrist) means a servant 
of Christ. 

The Macphersons claim unbroken descent 
from the ancient chiefs of the clan Chattan, 
and tradition is in favour of their being the 
lineal representatives of the chiefs of the clan. 
However, this point has been sufficiently dis 
cussed in the history of the Mackintoshes, 
where we have given much of the history of 
the Macphersons. 

It was from Munich, who is said to have 
been chief in 1153, that the Macphersons de 
rive the name of the clan Muirich or Vuirich. 
This Muirich was parson of Kingussie, in the 
lower part of Badenoch, and the surname was 
given to his descendants from his office. He 
was the great-grandson of Gillichattan Mor, 
the founder of the clan, who lived in the reign 
of Malcolm Canmore, and having married a 
daughter of the thane of Calder, had five sons. 
The eldest, Gillichattan, the third of the name, 
and chief of the clan in the reign of Alexander 
II., was father of Dougal Ball, the chief whose 
daughter Eva married Angus Mackintosh of 
Mackintosh. On Dougal Ball s death, as he 
had no sons, the representation of the family 
devolved on his cousin and heir-male, Kenneth, 
eldest son of Eoghen or Ewen Baan, second 
son of Muirich. ISTeill Chrom, so called from 
his stooping shoulders, Munich s third son, 
was a great artificer in iron, and took the name 
of Smith from his trade. Farquhar Gilliriach, 
or the Swift, the fourth son, is said to have 
been the progenitor of the MacGillivrays, who 
followed the Mackintosh branch of the clan 
Chattan; and from David Dubh, or the 
Swarthy, the youngest of Munich s sons, were 
descended the clan Dhai, or Davidsons of 
Invernahavon. 2 

One of the early chiefs is said to have re 
ceived a commission to expel the Comyns from 
Badenoch, and on their forfeiture he obtained, 
for his services, a grant of lands. He was also 
allowed to add a hand 

holding a dagger 

2 This is the genealogy given hy Sir JUneas Mac- 
pherson. From another MS. genealogy of the Mac 
phersons, and from the Mackintosh MS. history, \v<> 
find that the son of Kenneth, the alleged grandson 
of Muirich, married a daughter of Ferquhard, ninth 
of Mackintosh, dr. 1410, so that it is probable Sir 
yEneas has placed Muirich and his family more than 
a century too early. 



his armorial bearings. A MS. genealogy of 
the Macphersons makes Kenneth chief in 
1386, when a battle took place at Inverna- 
havon between the clan Chattan and the 
Camerons, details of which and of the quarrel 
between the Macphersons and the Davidsons 
will be found in the general history, and in 
the account of the Mackintoshes. 

In 1609 the chief of the Macphersons signed 
a bond, along with all the other branches of 
that extensive tribe, acknowledging Mackin 
tosh as captain and chief of the clan Chattan ; 
but in all the contentions and feuds in which 
the Mackintoshes were subsequently involved 
with the Camerons and other Lochaber clans, 
they were obliged to accept of the Macpher 
sons aid as allies rather than vassals.. 

Andrew Macpherson of Cluny, who suc 
ceeded as chief in 1647, suffered much on 
account of his sincere attachment to the cause 
of Charles I. His son, Ewen, was also a 
staunch royalist. In 1665, under Andrew, 
the then chief, when Mackintosh went on 
an expedition against the Camerons, for the 
recovery of the lands of Glenluy and Lochar- 
kaig, he solicited the assistance of the Mac 
phersons, when a notarial deed was executed, 
wherein Mackintosh declares that it was of 
their mere good will and pleasure that they 
did so ; and on his part it is added, " I bind 
and oblige myself and friends and followers to 
assist and fortify and join, with the said An 
drew, Lauchlan, and John Macpherson, all 
their lawful and necessary adoes, being there 
unto required." The same Andrew, Lauchlan, 
and John, heads of the three great branches 
of the Macphersons, had on the 19th of the 
preceding November given a bond acknowledg 
ing Mackintosh as their chief. In 1672 Dun 
can Macpherson of Cluny, Andrew s brother, 
made application to the Lyon office to have 
his arms matriculated as laird of Cluny Mac 
pherson, and " the only and true representative 
of the ancient and honourable family of the 
clan Chattan." This application was success 
ful ; but as soon as Mackintosh heard of it, he 
raised a process before the privy council to 
have it determined as to which of them hac 
the right to the proper armorial bearings 
4fter a protracted inquiry, the council issuec 
an order for the two chiefs to give security for 

he peaceable behaviour of their respective 

ilans, in the terms given in the account of 

Mackintosh. The same year Cluny entered 

nto a contract of friendship with ^Eneas, Lord 

\Iacdonnell, and Aros, " for himself and take- 

ng burden upon him for the ha ill name of 

Macpherson, and some others, called Old 

Clan-cliatten, as cheefe and principall man 


It is worthy of note that this same Duncan 
made an attempt, which was happily frustrated 
by his clansmen, to have his son-in-law, a son 
of Campbell of Cawdor, declared his suc 

On the death, without male issue, of Duncan 
Macpherson, in 1721 or 1722, the chief ship 
devolved on Lauchlan Macpherson of Nuid, 
the next male heir, being lineally descended 
from John, youngest brother of Andrew, the 
above-named chief. One of the descendants 
of this John of Nuid was James Macpherson, 
the resuscitator of the Ossianic poetry. Lauch 
lan married Jean, daughter of Sir Ewen Came 
ron of Lochiel. His eldest son, Ewen, was the 
chief at the time of the rebellion of 1 745. 

James Macplierson, Editor, &c. of the Ossianic Poetry. 

In the previous rebellion of 1715, the Mac 
phersons, under their then chief Duncan, had 



taken a very active part on the side of the 
Pretender. On the arrival of Prince Charles 
in 1745, Ewen Macpherson of Cluny, who the 
same year had "been appointed to a company 
in Lord London s Highlanders, and had taken 
the oaths to government, threw up his com 
mission, and, with 600 Macphersons, joined 
the rebel army after their victory at Preston- 
pans. The Macphersons were led to take an 
active part in the rebellion chiefly from a de 
sire to revenge the fate of two of their clans 
men, who were shot on account of the extra 
ordinary mutiny of the Black Watch (now the 
42d regiment) two years before, an account of 
which is given in the history of that Eegiment. 
Ewen Macpherson, the chief, at first hesi 
tated to join the prince; and his wife, a 
daughter of Lord Lovat, although a staunch 
Jacobite, earnestly dissuaded him from break 
ing his oath to government, assuring him that 
nothing could end well that began with per 
jury. Her friends reproached her for interfer 
ing and his clan urging him, Cluny unfortu 
nately yielded. 

At the battle of Falkirk, the Macphersons 
formed a portion of the first line. They were 
too late for the battle of Culloden, where their 
assistance might have turned the fortune of 
the day ; they did not come up till after 
the retreat of Charles from that decisive field. 
In the subsequent devastations committed by 
the English army, Cluny s house was plundered 
and burnt to the ground. Every exertion was 
made by the government troops for his appre 
hension, but they never could lay thek hands 
upon him. He escaped to France in 1755, 
and died at Dunkirk the following year. 

Ewen s son, Duncan, was born in 1750, in 
a kiln for drying corn, in which his mother 
had taken refuge after the destruction of their 
house. During his minority, his uncle, Major 
John Macpherson of the 78th foot, acted as 
his guardian. He received back the estate 
which had been forfeited, and, entering the 
army, became lieutenant-colonel of the 3d fool 
guards. He married, 12th June 1798 
Catherine, youngest daughter of Sir Ewen 
Cameron of Fassifern, baronet; and on hi 
death, 1st August 1817, was succeeded by hi 
eldest son, Ewen Macpherson of Cluny, the 
present chief. 

In Cluny castle are preserved various relics 
of the rebellion of 1745; among the rest, the 
Prince s target and lace wrist ruffles, and an 
autograph letter from Charles, promising an 
ample reward to his devoted friend Cluny. 
There is also the black pipe chanter on which 
the prosperity of the house of Cluny is said to 
be dependent, and which all true members of 
the clan Vuirich firmly believe fell from heaven, 
in place of the one lost at the conflict on the 
North Inch of Perth. 

The war-cry of the Macphersons was "Creag 
Dim," the name of a rock in the neighbourhood 
of Cluny Castle. The chief is called in the 
Highlands "Mac Mhurich Chlanaidh," but 
iverywhere else is better known as Cluny 

Among the principal cadets of the Macpherson 
family were the Macphersons of Pitmean, In- 
vereshie, Strathmassie, Breachaehie, Essie, &c, 
The Invereshie branch were chiefs of a large 
tribe called the Siol Gillies, the founder of 
which was Gillies or Elias Macpherson, the 
first of Invereshie, a younger son of Ewori 
Baan or Bane (so called from his fair com 
plexion) above mentioned. Sir Eneas Mac 
pherson, tutor of Invereshie, advocate, who 
lived in the reigns of Charles II. and James 
VII., collected the materials for the history of 
the clan Macpherson, the MS. of which is still 
preserved in the family. He was appointed 
sheriff of Aberdeen in 1684. 

George Macpherson of Invereshie married 
Grace, daughter of Colonel William Grant of 
Ballindalloch, and his elder son, William, dy 
ing, unmarried, in 1812, was succeeded by his 
nephew George, who, on the death of his ma 
ternal granduncle, General James Grant of 
Ballindalloch, 13th April 1806, inherited that 
estate, and in consequence assumed the name 
of Grant in addition to his own. He was MP. 
for the county of Sutherland for seventeen 
years, and was created a baronet 25th July 
1838. He thus became Sir George Macpher- 
son-Grant of Invereshie, Inverness-shire, and 
Ballindalloch, Elginshire. On his death in 
November 1846, his son, Sir John, sometime 
secretary of legation at Lisbon, succeeded as 
second baronet. Sir John died Dec. 2, 1850. 
His eldest son, Sir George Macpherson- Grant of 
Invereshie and Ballindalloch, born Aug. 12, 



1839, became the third baronet of this family. 
lie married, July 3, 1861, Frances Elizabeth, 
younger daughter of the Eev. Eoger Pockling- 
ton, Vicar of Walesby, Nottinghamshire. 

We can refer only with the greatest brevity 
to some of the minor clans which were in 
cluded under the great confederacy of the clan 


The Macgillivrays were on<3 of the oldest 
and most important of the septs of clan 
Chattan, and from 1626, when their head, 
Ferquhard MacAllister, acquired a right to the 
lands of Dunmaglass, frequent mention of them 
is found in extant documents, registers, etc. 
Their ancestor placed himself and his posterity 
under the protection of the Mackintoshes in the 
time of Ferquhard, fifth chief of Mackintosh, 
and the clan have ever distinguished them 
selves by their prowess and bravery. One of 
them is mentioned as having been killed in a 
battle with the Camerons about the year 1330, 
but perhaps the best known of the heads of 
this clan was Alexander, fourth in descent 
from the Ferquhard who acquired Dunmaglass. 
This gentleman was selected by Lady Mackin 
tosh to head her husband s clan on the side of 
Prince Charlie in the 45. He acquitted him 
self with the greatest credit, but lost his life, 
as did all his officers except three, in the 
battle of Culloden. In the brave but rash 
charge made by his battalion against the 
English line, he fell, shot through the heart, 
in the centre of Barrel s regiment. His body, 
after lying for some weeks in a pit where it 
had been thrown with others by the English 
soldiers, was taken up by his friends and 
buried across the threshold of the kirk of 
Petty. His brother William was also a 
warrior, and gained the rank of captain in the 
old 89th regiment, raised about 1758. One 
of the three officers of the Mackintosh battalion 
who escaped from Culloden was a kinsman of 
these two brothers, Farquhar of Dalcrombie, 
whose grandson, Kiel John M Gillivray of 
Dunmaglass, is the present head of the clan. 

The M Gillivrays possessed at various times, 
besides Dunmaglass, the lands of Aberchallader, 
Letterchallen, Largs, Faillie, Dalcrombie, and 
Daviot. It was in connection with the suc 

cession to Faillie that Lord Ardmillan s well- 
known decision was given in 1860 respecting 
the legal status of a clan. 

In a Gaelic lament for the slain at Culloden 
the MacGillivrays are spoken of as 

" The warlike race, 
The gentle, vigorous, flourishing, 
Active, of great fame, beloved, 
The race that will not wither, and has descended 
Long from every side, 
Excellent MacGillivrays of the Doune. 

SHAW. 8 

The origin of. the Shaws, at one time a most 
important clan of the Chattan confederation, 
has been already referred to in connection 
with the Mackintoshes. The tradition of the 
Mackintoshes and Shaws is " unvaried," says 
the Eev. W. G. Shaw of Forfar, that at least 
from and after 1396, a race of Shaws existed in 
Eothiemurchus, whose great progenitor was the 
Shaw Mor who commanded the section of the 
clan represented by the Mackintoshes on the 
Inch. The tradition of the Shaws is, that he was 
Shaw, the son of James, the son or descendant 
of Farquhar ; the tradition of the Macintoshes 
that he was Shaw-??iac-Gilchrist-mc-Ian- 
??ic-Angus-?)iac-Farquhar, - - Farquhar being 
the ancestor according to both traditions, from 
whom he took the name (according to Wyn- 
toun) of Sha Farquharis Son. 4 The tradition 
of a James Shaw who had bloody contests 
with the Comyns, which tradition is fortified 
by that of the Comyns, may very likely refer 
to the James, who, according to the genealogies 
both of the Shaws and Mackintoshes, was the 
son of Shaw Mor. 

Mr Shaw of Forfar, who is well entitled to 
speak with authority on the subject, maintains 
" that prior to 1396, the clan now represented 

3 The Shaw arms are the same as those of the 
Farquharsons following, except that the former have 
not the banner of Scotland in bend displayed in the 
second and third Barters. 

4 The date of part of the Mackintosh MS. is 1490. 
It stat