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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
VI. The Cruithne


party, and royalist sympathies (the Gordons were Catholic Jacobites, the Forbeses Protestant Whigs). Theirs was a long history of staunch and honorable service to their cause. They still hold the charter that Robert the Bruce granted to their predecessor, Sir Christian of the Aird, who was active in the Bruce’s campaign at Castle Urquhart in 1305, and was later at Halidon Hall. The Urquharts descend from William of Urquart, Constable of Castle Urquhart and Sheriff (agent of royal authority) of Cromarty in the early fourteenth century. This sheriffdom became hereditary in the Urquhart family.

The MacKenzies (Mac Coinnich) lived just west of the Aird in Ross, and descend from Gilleon of the Aird, a dynast of late eleventh or early twelfth century, and the predecessor of Sir Christin of the Aird mentioned above. In medieval times they held their lands of the O’Beolain earls of Ross (later surnamed "Ross"), and on the downfall of that earldom under its later MacDonald earls, the MacKenzies rose to great power in the North, rising against their erstwhile lords, the MacDonalds, at the moment of their need. The MacKenzies were staunch Jacobites.

The Mathesons (Mac Mhathain) remained loyal to the MacDonald earls of Ross to the end, but later adhered to their Mackenzie kinsmen as they rose to preeminence. They lived in western Ross opposite Skye, with early branches in Sutherland as well.

The Nicholsons (Mac Neacail) originally possessed the lands between Loch Maree and Loch Torridon on the west coast of Ross. These lands passed in the early fourteenth century through an heiress to the MacLeods of Lewis. After this the Nicholsons followed the MacLeods of Lewis, and most of them settled by the MacLeods in north-central Skye, where they held for several centuries the lands of Scorrybreac near Portree. Their chief, as "Mac Nichol of Portree," was one of the sixteen members of the Council of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles.

The South Albans
The South Albans descend from the original Pictish tribal population of Stirlingshire, Fife and especially lowland Perthshire and Angus. They were originally known by the tribal designation "the men of Fortrenn" from the province of that name centered around Strathearn. By the seventh century their leading dynasty had monopolized the high-kingship of the Picts. This probably had something to do with the physical proximity of Fortrenn to the English Kingdom of the Northumbrians, who were the main threat to the security of the Picts and Dalriadic Scots as well (see Chapter IV). Out of this Pictish past came the medieval office of mormaer (earl) and the concept of thanage (baronyholding), both hereditary but territorial concepts to supplement the strictly tribal offices of the Gaels in the kingdom of Albany in the early Middle Ages. The families which emerge in the High Middle Ages include the Ogilvys,the Drummonds,and those descended from the House of Strathearn.


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