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Gairloch in North-West Ross-Shire
Part I.óRecords and Traditions of Gairloch
Chapter X.óJohn 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 personal appearance.

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 valiant MacRaes.

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.

His 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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