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Camerons of Letterfinlay


THE CAMERONS OF LETTERFINLAY, STYLED “MACMARTIN.”

While many histories and memoirs of the Camerons of Lochiel have been written, little or no attention has been given to the Macmartins of Letterfinlay, although nearly every account makes them out as original heads of the clan. It would be out of place, even if possible, to detail with accuracy the early history of Lochaber or of its inhabitants, and its owners, native and imported, During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the family of Macdonald, which particularly favoured Mackintosh and Maclean, predominated, and no rights or titles existing are known, except those flowing from them. The charter of 1337 to Mackintosh is unhappily mislaid, and no other of the fourteenth century, to a vassal in Lochaber, unless to Maclean, is known to exist. Those who have undertaken to write about the Camerons are at one as to there being four races, which ultimately fell under the leadership of Lochiel, as Captain of the Clan Cameron, viz.—(1) Macgillonies, (2) Lochiel, (3) Clan Soirle, (4) Macmartins. The title of captain indicates that the clan was not homogeneous, and that it ultimately became hereditary, with the title of chief, is highly creditable to the tenacity and ability of the successive heads of Lochiel.

It may be well to examine the position of those families in the latter half of the fifteenth century :—(1). The Macgillonies, once important, are conjectured to have been originally Macphees, but, having no charter history, it is beyond the scope of this and similar papers, to do more than mention the name.

(2). The Lochiel chroniclers declare themselves unable to point to any Lochaber charter earlier than 1492, when Alexander of the Isles and of Lochalsh, who had in 1472 given Ewen, Allan’s son, some lands in Lochalsh, grants him lands in Lochiel, by charter dated 12th July, 1492, confirmed in 1495. That there were no older charters, which might have been burnt in 1746, may be inferred from the receipt granted on 13th May, 1724, by Lochiel to Grant for his titles, which had been placed for safe custody, wherein the earliest is a charter of 1534. Thus, before July, 1492, there is nothing documentarily authentic establishing the Camerons of Lochiel as Lochaber land owners; and the famous Donald Dubh must have had an antipathy to charters, burning those of Maclean when he got the chance. Here it may be as well, as illustrating Lochiel’s position at the time, to give a copy of his bond of man-rent to young Mackintosh. It has been stated in alleviation that this was a mere act of friendship, inconsequence of Ewen, Allan’s son, having married Marjory, Mackintosh’s daughter; whereas the lady he did marry (and in regard to whom there have been put forth shameful stories of unnatural conduct to her children, and ridiculous fables of what occurred when occasionally compelled to speak to the “Black Tailor’’), was Marjory, second daughter of Lachlan Mackintosh of Gallovie, commonly called Lachlan Badenoch, by his second wife, Catherine Grant, daughter of Sir Duncan Grant of Grant. Mr Mackenzie, in his history of the clan, does not fall into Balhaldie’s error on this point:—

“Be it kenned to all men by these presents,—Me, Ewen Vic Allan, to be bound and obliged, and by these my present letters and the faith in my body to be leally and truly, binds and obliges me to a right honourable man, and my true friend and master, Ferquhard Mackintosh, son and apparent heir to Duncan Mackintosh, Captain of the Clan Chattan, to be a leal, true, and faithful man and servant to the said Ferguhard, and that I shall never hear or see his skaith, but that I shall warn him, and that with all my men, familiars, party, and purchase, and all others holding or dependent upon me, shall take their plain part, and supply, maintain, and defend the said Ferquhard Mackintosh in all actions, causes, and quarrels that he has, or shall have ado for ever, with all my goodly power, in contrary of all that live and is, or may die (except my service owed to my lord and master, Alexander of the Isles). And if it shall happen as (God forbid) any freak of distance to be betwixt the said Alexander and Ferquhard, that the foresaid Ewen shall take part with the said Ferquhard, and shall cause by all my goodly power the foresaid Alexander of the Isles, and Ferquhard Mackintosh, to appoint, agree, and accord; and if it shall happen the said Alexander will not appoint, agree, or accord with the said Ferquhard, I, the Baid Ewen Vic Allan, binds and obliges me, my men, familiars, party, purchase, assistance, and holding, and all others dependent upon me, to raise and be upright, and to take plain part with all our power, supply, and keep with the said Farquhar Mackintosh, in contrar and against the said Alexander of the Isles, unto the time that they be both fully agreed and accorded. Attour the said Alexander of the Isles is bound and obliged that the Baid Ewen Vic Allan shall complete and fulfil all the sundrie points and articles that is here witnessed. In the witness of the whelk tyeing (thing?) because I, the said Ewen, has no seal proper present of my own, with instance, I have procured the seal of my foresaid lord and master, Alexander of the Isles, to this my letter of man-rent, to be appended, at Inverness, the 19th day of the month of February, in the year of God, 1492.”

It will be thus seen that the Lochiels owed all their estate to Alexander of Lochalsh, and he it was who brought about this reconcilation with Mackintosh, in the handsome manner above shewn, and followed it up by the charter in the month of July. The Lochiels and Mackintoshes had been crossing swords for many a year prior to 1492, but this document is the first meeting on parchment.

(3). Let us now turn to the other branch of the Camerons, viz., Glenevis, at this period. Mr Mackenzie, in his “History of the Camerons,” rather gingerly hints as to their origin in these words:—“Indeed, it has been maintained that the Glenevis family were originally not Camerons at all, but Macdonalds, who settled there, under the Macdonalds of the Isles, before the Camerons had any hold in the district.” There are pregnant sentences in Glenevis’s letter of the 9th September, 1785, quoted by Mr Mackenzie. I give two or three in illustration of my present narrative:—“I proceed now to inform you the family of Gordon claimed the property of the lands of Mamore, which, finding they could not peaceably keep—possession being disputed by a powerful family in this country ; this and other causes induced them to give a charter of the said lands of Mamore to my predecessor, which consequently entailed upon him the enmity of that powerful family, and nearly lost him his paternal inheritance of Glenevis. In this quarrel my predecessor and yours frequently bled, and at last were extirpated, all but one child, a son of Glenevis, with whom his then nearest of kin—your predecessor— fled to Gordon Castle, and put himself under the protection of his superior, where he remained to the age of manhood, when he was, by a fortunate change of times and circumstances, enabled to resume the property of Glenevis (which was also seized upon), and, by relinquishing his grant of Mamore, to establish peace between said family and Huntly. The lands given up, though at a later period, were divided equally between them, as they continue to be at this day.”

Sixteen years before Lochiel had a charter to any lands, and thirty-six years before his first charter to lands in Lochaber, the predecessor of Glenevis received a charter from John of Yla, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, dated at Dingwall, 20th April, 1466. The translation has been done with the utmost care, not only as befitting so old a document, but as containing the gift of an office which has puzzled antiquarians :—

“Be it known to all by these presents that we John of Yla, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, have given and granted, like as by these presents we do give and grant to our beloved Esquire, Somerled (son?) of John (son?) of Somerled, keeper of these presents, a davoch of our lands of Glennyves, with the pertinents, together with the office which is commonly called Tocheachdeora of all our lands of Lochabir whatsover, excepting the lands pertaining to our foster child Lachlan Makgilleon of Doward, in Lochabir, to be holden and to be had the aforesaid lands and office to the aforesaid Somerled, with all the pertinents and fruits whatsoever, and by all their right measures and ancient bounds during all the lifetime of the said Somerled, and after his decease, we by these presents have granted the said davoch of Glennyves and office with pertinents to the eldest son of the said Somerled who for the time may be, for five years immediately thereafter following, in the same manner, form, and effect as above, for their homages and faithful services, to be well and faithfully rendered to us and our heirs against mortals whomsoever during the time before noted, In witness of the which thing we have caused our seal to be affixed to these presents at Dingwall the twentieth day of the month of April in the year of the Lord one thousand four hundred and fifty six.” (Seal in good preservation).

The word “Tocheachdeora,” so written by the Latin scribe, has, I have said, puzzled the learned, being rendered “depute to the mair of fee,” “Coroner,” “Sergeant,'' “Officer,” “equivalent to Bailie,” and some sapient antiquaries consulted as to this deed, made it “Governor, or High Sheriff.” None of the definitions seem accurate, and I invite the views of the Society, merely indicating that in my view it is a compound word, and may be synonimous with the “Ostiarius” at the Royal Court, or “he who was to stand in front of the door of Macdonald when in Lochaber, as guardian.”

The charter describes Somerled as “Somerled John Somerled,” but I take this to mean Somerled son of John who was son of Somerled, and these names can point to no other source than that of Macdonald, and this Somerled, known by tradition as “Soirle Ruagh,” has left his mark in the Glen by such names as Somerled’s Cave, Somerled’s Stone, Somerled’s Burial-place.

It has been stated, and with truth, that Glenevis was generally opposed to Lochiel, as they had every cause to be (being on one occasion cut off to one child), and in support of this view, I give the following remarkable document, entitled “Assurance be M‘Conil duy to Makintoishie, 1577,” the spelling being modernised:—

“Be it kenned to all men by these presents,—Me, Allane Cameron, chief and captain of Clan Cameron, bearing the burden of my kin of Clan Cameron, that depends on me, or takes my part, to have assured, and by these presents assures, Lachlan Mackintosh of Dunachton, his kin, friends, servants, roumes, steadings, and possessions, their bodies, goods, and gear, moveable and immoveable. Further, and by these presents, assures Clan Allane Vic Ayne, Clan Aonas Vic Ayne, Vic Ayne, Vic M‘Cyne, T)onald Dhu M‘Donill Vic Ayne, Vic M‘Cyne, and Johanne Vic Ayne, Vic Ewen Roy, with the rest of Sioldonquhy-Vic-Soirle, their bodies, goods, and gear, friends and tenants, tenants and sub-tenants, rooms, steadings, and possessions, corns, and with all the lands that they possessed and manured last within the bounds of Mamore and Lochaber, to be unhurt, unharmed, or molested in any way by me, my kin or friends foresaids, with all others that I may stop or let from the day and date hereof till Whitsunday next, and immediately following the date hereof, and that they shall win their goods and gear, with their servants and tenants, upon their own towns, and manure the same as peaceably, without impediment made to them by me or any that I may stop, during the survivance of the said assurance; provided that I or none in my name require meat, drink, nor service of them during the time of the assurance as said is, except M‘Ayne Vie Ewin Roy, guid talik man (?). I, the forenamed Allane, binds and obliges me that I shall hold Johanne Dhu Yic Ewen’s sons in their own towns until Whitsunday, so that they give me meat and drink reasonably (?) as others in the country, and that I shall have the service of their tenants who dwells upon the ground. The same assurance to stand firm and stable upon fifteen days’ premonition, to be made at Innerloquhy, gif it be the Erie of Huntlie’s pleasure. Be this my assurance given, written, and subscribed by me, at Lochele, the penult of Januar, 1577, before these witnesses—Johanne Vic Allister Duff, the sons of Ewen Yic Ayne, Charles Vic William, with others diverse.

(Signed) “ Allanb Camrone, Lard off Lochzill. “And I, Johanne Macphall, Not, has written and subscribed this with my hand, in sign and token of the veritie, teste manu mea, as witness. (Initialed) “J. M‘P.”

The spelling of names is the most correct that can be made of Sir John Macphail’s rather poor caligraphy. The word “M‘Cyne,” which occurs twice, is either intended for “Ayne” or John, or would indicate some connection with Sweyn or Macqueen. The document speaks for itself, and shews that Glenevis and other dwellers in Mamore, were obliged to ask Mackintosh’s protection. Glenevis had been possessed, under the charter of 1456, by Somerled, his son John (styled “ Dileas”), and his grandson, Donald Vic Allister Vic Soirle for about a century, until Donald, much pressed by Lochiel, who had contrived ultroneously to obtain charters to Glenevis and other lands, considered it prudent to hold his lands of the Earl of Huntly, who had meantime obtained a Crown grant of the greater part of Lochaber. Accordingly, at Elgin, on 15th September, 1552, a minute of agreement was passed between George, Earl of Huntly, and Donald, whereby the latter agreed to resign Glenevis into the Queen’s hands, as superior, to be afterwards held of the Earl, and the Earl bound himself to grant a feu charter, with a feu of ten merks Scots. The necessary deeds were prepared, and charter and infeftment followed, in 1553. No further title was made up afterwards until 1712, when Allan

Cameron is entered by the superior, as great-great-great-grandson of Donald, who is styled in the charter, “Attavus” of Allan. It is thus seen that Glenevis was held since 1456, yet the astonishing statement is made by Drummond of Balhaldie in the first instance, and slavishly followed, that it was not until about 1618 Glenevis and others got charters from Huntly, and for lands formerly possessed by them as tenants and vassels of their chief, Lochiel.

Having cleared up the position of the various Cameron families, except one, which was necessary for the sake of elucidation, I now deal with the Macmartins, the principal object of this paper:—

(4). The name of Letterfinlay, inseparably connected with the Macmartins, first occurs in the year 1466, when it, with Macomer and Stronaba, is found included with other lands in a charter by John of Yla to Mackintosh, dated at Inverness, 14th of November, of that year. One of the witnesses is the well-known Donald Balloch; and this is the only occasion I have observed him named in a Lochaber writ. This charter was confirmed in 1494. At this period the extent of the Mackintosh possessions in Lochaber was immense, all secured by charters, viz.:—Glenluie and Loch Arkaig, in 1337 ; Brae-Lochaber, in 1443, the hereditary bailiaiy and stewardship of Lochaber, 1447; Glengarry, Auchindrome, Letterfinlay, Stronaba, and the two Leanachans, in 1466. For a long time prior to this period it may be assumed that the Macmartins had been in actual possession of Letterfinlay, and it may be also assumed that a Lochiel married Macmartin’s daughter and heiress. Yet, although no charter appears to have been granted by the Macdonalds or subsequent superiors in the fifteenth century, we find the Macmartins assuming a distinct importance and footing in writs of the period, commencing early in the sixteenth century. The titles referred to at the sale in 1851, do not go further back than 1763, but there were valuable papers in existence early in this century. Mr Jas. Fraser of Gortuleg had been previously very desirous to get the papers, and on 7th January, 1803, he writes:—“The young Parson of Kirkhill, having left this some days bygone, with his spouse, would have to hire a chaise from Perth, in return of which the Letterfinlay white iron box may be «ent to me.” By a subsequent letter he had received the box.

In 1513, and again in 1533—(1) Duncan Macmartin, closely allied with Keppoch, is found; in 1548, Soirle Macmartin, and by 1549 the line becomes unbroken. (2) In that year Martin Yic Conchie of Letterfinlay appears, and is foster-father to Ewen of Lochiel. There is also found, in 1570, Martin Vic Conchie MacMartin; and by 1584 the ultroneous claims of Lochiel to the lands, which ran on from 1534 to 1580, appear to have dropped. In 1561 one Duncan Vic Ronald intents process in the Sheriff Court of Inverness, against Gille Martin Yic Conchie, in Letterfinlay. (3) Martin was succeeded by Duncan, who is found as early as 1598, and had a brother named Donald. In 1600 Duncan of Letterfinlay is styled Vic Conchie. The Macmartins are found after this period in close alliance with Lochiel, and in 1617 they were Lochiel’s chief supporters in obstructing Mackintosh’s holding Steward Courts or crossing the Lochy. The principal people summoned by Mackintosh to Edinburgh, to answer for their conduct in that year, were Allan Cameron of Lochiel; Duncan Cameron, alias Macmartin; Dougal Cameron; Dougal Cameron, alias Macmartin Yic Allister; Donald Cameron, alias Macmartin ; and Ewen Cameron alias Macmartin Vic Conchie Vic Ewen. In June, 1629, there is found in the records, Duncan of Letterfinlay, who fostered Sir Ewen Cameron, and his son, Duncan Oig Cameron, alias Macmartin.

At this point it may be well to give a description of the lands of Letterfinay, Macomer, and Stronaba, as these were ultimately possessed and owned by the Macmartins. They were in extent nine merks of land, part of the forty merkland of Davochnessie, and were described thus—“All and whole, the town and lands of Letterfinlay, the town and lands of Invergluif or Invergloy, the town and lands of Fortness or Fomess, the lands of Stronaba, the lands of Bolnach, the town and lands of Muccomar|Or Maccomar, the lands of Strongluy, with the shealing of Achavorie, extending to nine merks lands, with all and singular, houses, biggings, yards, mosses, muirs, tofts, crots, parts, pendicles, outsetts, insetts, woods, fishings, properties, commonties, and commodities, belonging thereto, used and wont, lying within the lordship of Lochaber and Sheriffdom of Inverness.” There were shealings higher up the the glen of the Gloy, called Luibindhu, Luibvraid, and Luiack* The feu duty was stipulated at fifty-six merks three shillings and fourpence Scots, two wedders, and a quarter of a wedder, two lambs, and a quarter of a lamb, one stone butter, and a dozen poultry, with four long carriages, not exceeding forty miles; also, that no sale should take place without a first offer to the superior, under an unlaw of one hundred merks.

In the old charters there were ridiculous penalties as to the killing of deer or roe, or cutting the Gordon woods in Lochaber, and the following is a curiosity:—“And further, it shall not be leisome to the said George Macmartin, otherwise Cameron, and his foresaids, to move or alter the seats of their shealings furth of the place where they were the time the said lands were first acquired in feu, except they put them further back from the forest, but that they continue in all time coming where they first were.”

In old times the two Ratullichs were always let to Letterfinlay’s people, so that the family and its branches were long a power in Lochaber, possessing that fine block of land fronting the loch and the river of Lochy, extending from the barony of Abertarff at the north-east, to the river of Spean at the south-west, and backwards to Brae Roy, Glen Roy, and Blarour. The divergence of the river Lochy, caused by the construction of the Caledonian Canal, has in effect destroyed the famous Dell of Macomer, on which Highland hosts had so often mustered, and I refer specially to the “Grameid,” where, in language nervous and vivid, the place and the assembled warriors are depicted in the time of Dundee.

Duncan of Letterfinlay, as I have said, is found in close connection with Lochiel, and as he first had to stand the brunt of crossing Mackintosh’s expeditions, and obstructing him at the ford of Lochy, Lochiel sublet to him the lands of Kylinross, which, though west of the river, lay convenient to Macomer, and the Letterfinlay family for about a century, appear as occupants of that place, except the short interval to be noted. The occupants of Kylinross in 1663 were Martin Cameron of Letterfinlay, John Vic Ian Vic Comhie Vic Ian, and Gilliephatrick Yic Ian Kyndnish. This Duncan was succeeded by his eldest son (4) Duncan Oig, who did not relish the position of buffer betwixt Mackintosh and Lochiel, and in his father’s lifetime fell out with Sir Ewen Cameron, and was dispossessed of Kylinross, which had been assigned him by his father Duncan. Matters, however, were made up, for the Macmartims were worth conciliating. Duncan Oig is found in 1642 and 1645, and was succeeded by his son (5) Martin, who is found as owner prior to 1663. He, in turn, was succeeded by his son, named (6) Duncan, who appears to have been put in possession before bis fathers death. I purpose dealing with them under one head. In 1667 Lord Macdonell, as appears by the Book of the Grants, interceded with Grant on behalf of Donald Vic Ewen Macmartin of Rattulichbeg, and Angus Vic Ian Roy Vic Coil Maomartin, apparent of Rattulichmore, who had been imprisoned as marauders in Strathspey. The name of the Lochaber men as “ lifters” was well known in Moray, and there is a curious reference by Kenneth, Earl of Seaforth, in a letter to the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, dated Elgin, 25th September, 1682, where the Earl, having been asked to see as to “ disaffected” ministers taking shelter in Ross, says little about them, being full of his own special grievance :—

“My Lord,—Ever since my north-coming, I have made it my business to enquire if any of those disaffected ministers you spoke of to me at Edinburgh did resort to the shire.I am concerned in, but found no such disorderly people in it; although we suffer so much by the Lochaber men, that if the King and Council take not an effectual course presently, many of us in that place will not have so much of our own as will pay the public dues.” Unless the Earl exaggerated, it is clear the Lochaber men, when they entered Ross, performed the busine s which brought them, in a thorough manner. In 1685 the name of Neil, son of Letterfinlay, is found. In 1683 the Marquis of Huntly takes proceedings against Duncan Macmartin of Letterfinlay.

In the month of September, 1663, occurred the murder (still counted as the most deplorable event in the annals of Lochaber) of the youths, Alexander and Ronald Macdonell of Keppoch. Those accused of the murder were Archibald Macdonell in Keppoch, either cousin or uncle of the boys ; Donald Gorme in Inveroymore; Alexander Macdonald in Tulloch ; Angus Macdonald in Murligan; Allister Macdonald in Bohuntin; Allister Macdonald in Crenachau; Donald Macdonald in Blaimahinven; and Angus Macdonald in Achluachrach, all in the Brae of Lochaber ; and it would appear that it was not until 1671 the murderers were prosecuted. In that year, at the instance of Mackintosh, as Steward of Lochaber, and of His Majesty's Advocate, they were summoned to appear before the Lords of His Majesty’s Justiciarie, in a Justice Court, to be held by them within the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, upon the 24th day of July. Of course they did not appear, and were fugitated. By some means Archibald, the leader, was left in possession, and having married Mary Cameron, Letterfinlay’s daughter, became father of the renowned Coll Macdonell of Keppoch. A Bister of Mary’s was married, as his second wife, to John Mor Vic Allister Vic Allan of Glenevis.

It would be well to have the exact truths of this deplorable business brought out; and my disappointment may be conceived, when, looking over papers at one time in the possession of Alexander Mackintosh of Connage, one of the Sheriffs of Inverness, and seeing one with this backing, “Lord Macdonald’s letters to Connage, concerning Allister M‘Ranald, 1663,” to find, when opened, there was nothing within, the inside page having been used at a later date, for another purpose. I have mentioned about the Keppoch murder chiefly because the criminal process alluded to also contains a separate charge. Martin of Letterfinlay had been busy on his own account, though the crime was not so aggravated. Upon the L8th July, 1671, he and his brother, John Roy Cameron, were summoned to appear before Mackintosh’s Steward Court for the murder and slaughter of Donald Roy Vic Ian Vic Inteire (the wright), and for the mutilation and wounding of Angus Macdonald in Shian, sometime in course of the month of June preceding. Angus compeared as a complainer for his interest, but neither of the defendants. The proceedings, which lasted for years, were conducted with pertinacity, one of the papers being, “Procedure at a Court held at Leckroy, on 24th February, 1677, by Murdo Mac-pherson of Clune, as Steward Depute,” showing that Letterfinlay’s effects, which had been escheated, consisted of 5 score great cows, worth 2000 merks; 40 young cows, 400 merks; 4 score bolls victual, 480 merks; 25 piece of horses and mares, 720 merks; young horses and mares, 200 merds; 6 score sheep, 270 merks; in all, 4070 merks. John Roy Cameron’s stock ran to 3 score great cows and 30 young cows, 1500 merks; 20 piece of horses and mares, 600 merks; 5 score head of sheep, 225 merks; 5 young horses and mares, 105 merks; 50 bolls of victual, 300 merks; in all, 2730 merks. These were very substantial properties. The records of Privy Council from 1683 to 1685 contain numerous charges and counter-charges, Mackintosh against Letterfinlay and Keppoch—these last having, for the moment, a full revenge on the day of Mulroy.

I now turn to a more agreeable picture, the mustering of the clans at Delmacomer, early in 1689, under Dundee; and here is a translation of the description of young Letterfinlay in the Grameid:—

“Here too is Macmartin the younger, rising high above his whole line. His dark locks hang around his face and •cover his cheeks, and his eyes shine like the stars, while his neck rivals the white flowers. His father and a great force of dependants accompany him, and an illustrious company of his brethren in their ranks surround him on every side. He himself, in variegated array, advances with lofty mein. The garter ribbons hanging at his leg were dyed with Corycian saffron, and with the tint of the Syrian shell, as was his plaid. The crest of his helmet glows with floating plumes, and the trappings of his mounted powder horn gleam in shining brass. His sister had embroidered his tunic with the red gold, and a double line of purple went round his terrible shoulders. Mighty of limb, mighty in strength* he could uproot the old ash tree, or with his teeth alone tear away the hard iron. Whenever be turns his head and neck, his arms rattle, and the hollow rocks seem to moan, and as he treads the plain the earth groans under his weight.”

This powerful depiction may be contrasted with Allan Dali, in his “Inverlochy Gathering” :—

“’S ann d’ ar coimhearsnaich a raid,
Mac-’ic-Mhartuinn na Leitrach,
Aig am biodh na fir aluinn,
A dheanamh larach a sheasamh;
A ghleidheadh onoir nan Gaidheal
’S a reachadh dana na ’n leithsgeul,
Ri linn cruadail a’s gabhaidh,
Gum bu laidir an treis iad.”

(7) George Mac Martin was the next possessor, son of Martin the younger, and was twice married. He had several children by his first wife, from a reference in the contract of marriage with his second wife, Mary, eldest daughter of Angus Mackintosh, .senior, merchant in Inverness, and of Culchlachie. This contract is dated at Inverness, 14th December. 1732. The lady’s tocher was 6000 merks, and she got a jointure of 300 merks secured over Dellmacomer and Strongluy. One of the witnesses, and Letterfinlay’s groomsman, was Allan Cameron, younger of Lindally, and he himself signs “George Mc Martine.” Letterfinlay was dead prior to 29th December, 1737, as on that day he is referred to in a deed as deceased. Geori'e was succeeded by his eldest son (8), Captain Cosmo Gordon Cameron, who died young without issue. Cosmo was captain in the Highland regiment commanded by Colonel Archibald Montgomery, and was succeeded by (9) George MacMartin Cameron, who, upon 4th August, 1763, had himself served heir to his Grand-uncle, Martin Cameron of Letterfinlay. In the service, George styles himself as son of the late Evan MacMartin, otherwise Cameron, sometime of Barlowbeg (Ratlichbeg ?), thereafter in Dellifour of Badenoch, and through the failure of heirs male, descended of umquhile Martin MacMartin, otherwise Cameron, of Letterfinlay, commonly called Martin Mor MacMartin, he, George, was nearest heir male of Martin Mor, his Grand-uncle. There is a tradition that George was not the lawful heir, the alleged propinquity being falsely sworn to by one named “ Ian-Mor-na-Cath-ruagh.” George is stated to have been a herd lad, and, after his service as heir, was taken from the kitchen to the dining-room, and educated. John

Cameron in Glenroy, whose descendants are still living in Brae Lochaber, was said to be son of the true heir, and it was common report that the successful claimant’s family would never prosper. Certain it is that George was in difficulties for the last fifty years of his life, being under trust for forty-six years, and the trust ran on till 1840, a period of fifty' seven years. George married, on 28th February, 1767, Isobel Fraser, sister of Simon Fraser, last Laird of Foyers, of the race of “Huistean Frangach,” by whom he had a numerous family, some living to very great age. He was of careless disposition, not unmingled with obstinacy, which involved his estate. Gortuleg, in one of his letters, calls him “poor thoughtless man.” He executed a trust in 1783; a bond of interdiction in 1798 ; a deed of entail in 1807, which was held null; and a further deed of trust in 1817. The family originally had their residence at Letterflnlay, but had removed to Mucomer by 1770. In 1788-1790 George writes from “Claiggin, by the Nevis,” as his abode. The house of Letterflnlay was converted into an inn. Lord Cockburn speaks of it in 1819 as comfortable, but, in 1841, as a poor place. That portion of land called Davochnessie was formerly occupied by a race of Camerons renowned above all others for strength, activity, and daring. So late as 1780 a body of Macmartin men, to the number of forty or fifty, as noted in the “Book of Grant,” attacked the lands of Glenmoriston, and well-nigh took the life of the well-known Alpin Grant, the laird’s brother. To this day, that a Cameron is of the race of Davochnessie is held an honour, but the place itself now knows them not.

Without referring to the clean sweep of the Ratullichs by Mr Belford, let us contrast the letterflnlay, Macomer, and Stronaba of to-day with these places in 1805. What they are now may be seen by the Valuation Roll of 1890-91, little over a dozen occupants. Luckily I am able to give a full list for 1805. In Macomer and Tomess there were John Macdiarmid, Alexander Cameron,, shepherd; Donald Cameron, Donald Cameron Smith in Fomess, Mary Macintyre—5. In Stronaba—the Rev. Thomas Ross of Eilmonivaig, John Cameron, Catherine Macarthur, Alexander Macarthur, George Cameron, Donald Macdonald, Alexander Macdonald, John Mackinnon, weaver; Katharine Mackinnon, Janet Cameron, Flora Cameron, John Macneil, Duncan Cameron, Evan Cameron, John Macpherson, weaver; John Macpherson, labourer ; John Maclachlan, alias Cameron—17. In Invergloy—John Cameron Vic Coil-vic-Ian Vic Ullay, John Cameron Vic Aonash Vic Ian-dhu, John Cameron Vic Ewen, Donald Mor Cameron, Ewen

Cameron Vic Allister, Duncan Cameron, tailor; Ewen Cameron Vic Aonash, John Roy Cameron, John Roy Cameron, junior; Alexander Breck Cameron, Samuel Cameron, Widow Mary Kennedy, Ewen Cameron Vic Coil vie Ian, Donald Ban Cameron, and Donald Ban Cameron Vic Ewen Vic Allister—16. In Inverskilliroy— Martin Cameron, Alexander Breck Cameron, Donald Ban Cameron, Ewen Cameron, Ann Cameron—5. In Letterfinlay—Duncan Doun Macnaughton, Duncan Macnaughton Vic Homas, residing at Borline of Glengarry; Donald Macnaughton, John Macnaughton, Evan Cameron, innkeeper; Duncan Cameron—6. In Tartness— John Cameron, Widow Anne Cameron, and Widow Vere Macdonald —3. In Bolluach, Glengloy, and Strongloy—Allan Cameron, tenant in Meople of South Morar; Peter Stewart, James Mackay, Donald Mor Cameron, and Duncan Roy Cameron—5 ; in all, 57 heads of families, perhaps 300 souls. The family of George Cameron of which I have any note, consisted of four sons, Gordon, Hugh John, Hugh, Duncan, and five daughters, Jane, Isabella, Christian, Anne, and Charlotte. Miss Charlotte, the youngest daughter, died at Macomer 15th June, 1812—all the others survived their father. Upon George’s death in June, 1829, he was succeeded by his eldest son (10) Gordon Cameron. He entered the military service, and in 1794 went abroad ?n Erracht’s Regiment. He was one of Glengarry’s friends and supporters in the unfortunate duel with Lieutenant Norman Macleod, and when volunteering was rife early in the century, he raised a local company called the Letterfinlay Volunteers. Like his father he was much embarassed, and he did not survive him long, dying on 20th September, 1830. He was succeeded by his next brother (11) Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh John, who had served with distinction. The estate was under trust until 1840, Colonel Cameron, however, taking an active part in the administration. He was of a proud, reserved, but honourable disposition, quite unfitted to cope with the difficulties which surrounded him. To add to these, he had barely succeeded, when he found himself involved in a serious litigation with the Gordon trustees, in reference to the marches of Stronaba and Blarour. He struggled on, affairs getting worse, until 1847, when he was obliged to execute a trust deed. Fortunately, he did not live to witness the actual sale to Mr Baillie, in November, 1851. Sensitive in disposition, proud of his descent, and of being the oldest head of his clan, Colonel Cameron’s heart was broken at the prospect of what had become inevitable. I had hoped to get access to a memoir of his family, which, some forty years ago, I had heard rumoured as being in existence ; but, having failed, the genealogy now given is to be taken as subject to correction.

The last of the Macmartins was (12) Hugh, who was served heir in 1851 to his brother Colonel Hugh John, as also to his brother Duncan. This Hugh and his sisters lived latterly at Inveruisk-a-Vullin, in Glenluy, and none of them having married, the race of the Macmartins through George, both male and female, terminated. The burial place of the Macmartins (Cill-’Icomar) is at Achnanaimhnichean, even now a pretty spot, but no longer, through the Canal operations, to be compared to what it was when really at the confluence of the rivers.

That there are heirs of line, and male, can, from what has been above stated, hardly admit of doubt; and it would be well that such as can establish their connection, should do so legally, and prevent what is at present the virtual extinction of this ancient and honourable House from becoming actual and total.


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