Gairloch in North-West
I.Records and Traditions of Gairloch
Chapter X.John Glassich Mackenzie and his Sons
THERE is little but trouble and misfortune to be
recorded as regards the immediate successors of the great Hector Roy. His
eldest son, Iain Glassich, was a minor at the time of his father's death,
having been born about 1513. As a boy he was brought up in the house of
Chisholm of Strathglass, whence his name of Glassich, On coming of age, he
was served heir to his father of the lands of Gairloch, and the grazings
of Glasleitire and Coire nan Cuilean in Kintail. We know nothing of his
Soon after John Glassich Mackenzie came of age, he
endeavoured to upset the arrangement his father Hector Roy had made with
John of Killin, ninth lord of Kintail, and a desperate feud ensued. In
1544 he was compelled to enter into a bond undertaking to keep the peace,
and promising obedience to his* cousin Kenneth, the tenth lord of Kintail.
Notwithstanding this bond, he seems to have still persevered in his
claims, which, as some say, extended to the whole of the Kintail estates.
In 1547 John Glassich refused to join the royal standard, and upon this
his estates were forfeited to the crown; but though this forfeiture was
never reversed, it does not appear to have affected the succession. The
escheat was granted to the earl of Sutherland, but it is not likely that
he was able to act upon the grant in such a wild inaccessible country as
Gairloch then was.
In 1550 Kenneth, lord of Kintail, still suspicious of
the intentions of John Glassich, sent for him to Brahan, where he came
with only one attendant, Iain Gearr, probably one of the MacRaes who had
settled in Gairloch. Kenneth, after charging John Glassich with designs
against him, caused him to be apprehended. Seeing thisv Iain Gearr drew
his two-handed sword and made a fierce stroke at the lord of Kintail, who
sat at the head of the table, and whose skull would have been cloven
asunder had he not ducked his head under the table. Iain Gearr was
instantly seized by Mackenzie's men, who threatened to slay him on the
spot, but the chief, admiring his fidelity, strictly charged them not to
touch him. When Iain Gearr was asked why he had struck at the lord
himself, instead of at those who had seized his master, he boldly replied,
"I see no one else whose life is worth that of my own chief." The sword
made a deep gash in the table, and the mark remained until Colin, first
earl of Seaforth, had the piece cut out, saying that he "loved no such
remembrance of the quarrels of his relations."
John Glassich was removed
to Eileandonain Castle, where they say his death was occasioned by poison
administered to him in a mess of milk soup, prepared by the wife of
MacCalman, a clergyman, and deputy-constable of the fort. His body was
sent to the people of Strathglass, who buried him in Beauly priory, where
the Gairloch baronets are interred in the present day.
It was in the
days of John Glassich that Donald Gorm of Sleat, in Skye, made an
expedition against Kintail, taking advantage of the absence of Mackenzie
of Kintail. The latter had opposed the pretensions of Donald Gorm to the
earldom of Ross. In the month of May 1539 Donald Gorm crossed over to the
mainland. He first came to Kenlochewe, which, though part of Gairloch in
the present day, still belonged at that time to the lord of Kintail. Here
the Macdonalds destroyed all before them, and killed Miles, or Maolmuire,
son of Fionnla Dubh MacGillechriosd MacRae, at that time governor of
Eileandonain Castle. The remains of a monument erected on the spot where
Maolmuire MacRae was killed were to be seen in 1704. Donald Gorm was
himself killed soon afterwards, when attacking Eileandonain Castle, by a
barbed arrow fired at him by a nephew of Maolmuire MacRae.
During the feeble rule of John Glassich the M'Leods strove to regain
Gairloch, but were kept in check by the clansmen, including some of the
John Glassich married Agnes, daughter of James Fraser
of Foy-ness, and had three sons, viz., Hector, Alexander, and John, known
as John Roy Mackenzie.
Hector, the eldest son of John Glassich,
succeeded his father. During his minority the estates were given in ward
to John, fourth of the Stewart earls of Athole. Hector came of age in
1563. His death occurred, probably by violence, in September 1566.
brother Alexander, called Alastair Roy, second son of John Glassich, then
succeeded to Gairloch, but as he did not make up his title he is not
reckoned as one of the lairds of Gairloch. He and his brother Hector are
said to have lived in Eilean Suthainn, on Loch Maree. His death (without
issue) took place within a few weeks of his brother's decease, and
probably from the same cause. Some say that these two young men were slain
at the instigation of their relatives of Kintail; but it seems quite as
probable that their deaths were due to the M'Leods, who still held
one-third of Gairloch. Alastair Roy married a daughter of John
MacGillechallum M'Leod, laird of Raasay, by his marriage with Janet,
daughter of Mackenzie of Kintail.
The Gairloch family have thus been
under a cloud since the death of the great Hector Roy; but John Roy, the
youngest son of John Glassich, saw brighter days. The story of his long
and prosperous life will form the subject of our next chapter.
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