The Conflict of Alltan-Beath
Donald Mackay of Strathnaver, having succeeded his brother,
,John, taketh the occasion upon the death of Adam, Earl of Sutherland (who left his
grandchild, John, young to succeed him) to molest and invade the inhabitants of
Sutherland. He came, the year of God 1542, with a company of men to the village of
Knockartoll, burnt the same, and took a great prey of goods out of Strathbrora.
Sir Hugh Kennedy of Griffen Mains dwelt then in Sutherland,
having married John, Earl of Sutherland's mother, after the death of his father,
Alexander, Master of Sutherland. Sir Hugh Kennedy being advertised of Mackay's coming into
Sutherland, he advises with Hutcheon Murray of Abirscors, and with Gilbert Gordon of
Garty, what was best to be done. They resolve to fight the enemy; and so having gathered a
company of men, they overtook Mackay, unawares, beside a place called Ailtan-Beath, where
they invaded him suddenly; having passed his spies unseen.
After a little skirmish the Strathnaver men fled, the booty
was rescued, and John MacIan-MacAngus, one of their chieftains, was slain, with divers of
the Strathnaver men. Donald Mackay, nevertheless, played the part of a good soldier; for
in his flight he killed, with his own hand, one William Sutherland, who most eagerly
pursued him in the chase.
The inhabitants of Sutherland and Strathnaver (in regard of
Earl John's minority) did thus continually vex one another, until this Donald Mackay was
apprehended and imprisoned in the Castle of Fowlis, in Ross, by commandment of the Queen
Regent and the Governor, where he continued a good while in captivity.