The year of God 1427, Thomas Mackay (otherwise Macneil),
possessor of the lands of Creich, Spanzedell, and Polrossie, in Sutherland, had perceived
some displeasure against the laird of Freswick, called Mowat, whom Thomas Macneil did
eagerly pursue, and killed him near the town of Tain, in Ross, within the Chapel of St.
Duffus, and burnt also that chapel unto which this Mowat had retired himself as to a
The King hearing of this cruel fact, he causes to proclaim
and denounce Thomas Macneil rebel, and promised his land to any that would apprehend him.
Angus Murray (the son of Alexander Murray of Cubin, above-mentioned), understanding the
King's proclamation, had secret conference with Morgan and Neil Mackay, brethern to this
Thomas. Angus offered unto them, if they would assist him to apprehend their brother, that
he would give them his own two daughters in marriage, and also assist them to get the
peaceful possession of Strathnaver, which they did claim as due to them, and (as he
thought) they might easily obtain the same, with little or no resistance at all, seeing
that Neil Wasse Mackay (the son of Angus Dow) lay prisoner in the Bass, and Angus Dow
himself was unable (by reason of the weakness of his body at that time) to withstand them.
Morgan Mackay and Neil Mackay do condescend and yield to the
bargain; and presently, thereupon, they did apprehend their brother, Thomas, at
Spanzedell, in Sutherland, and delivered him to Angus Murray, who presented him to the
King, at whose command Thomas Macneil was executed at Inverness; and the lands of
Polrossie and Spanzedell, which he did possess, were given to Angus Murray for this
service; which lands his successors do possess until this day . Angus Murray, for
performance of his promise made to Neil and Morgan Mackay, gave him his two daughters in
Then Angus deals with Robert, Earl of Sutherland, that he
might have his attollerance to convene some men in Sutherland, therewith to accompany his
two sons-in-laws to obtain the possession of Strathnaver. Earl Robert grants him his
demand; so Angus having gathering a company of resolute men, he went with these two
brethern to invade Strathnaver. Angus Dow Mackay hearing of their approach, convened his
countrymen, and, because he was unable himself in person to resist them, he made his
bastard son (John Aberigh) leader of his men. They encountered at Druim-nacoub, two miles
from Tongue -- Mackay's chief dwelling-place.
There ensued a cruel and sharp conflict, valiantly fought a
long time, with great slaughter, so that, in the end, there remained but few alive on
either side. Neil Mackay, Morgan Mackay, and their father-in-law (Angus Murray), were
there slain. John Aberigh, having lost all his men, was left for dead on the field, and
was afterwards recovered; yet he was mutilated all the rest of his days. Angus Dow Mackay,
being brought thither to view the place of the conflict, and searching for the dead
corpses of his cousins, Morgan and Neil, was there killed with the shot of an arrow, by a
Sutherland man, that was lurking in a bush hard by, after his fellows had been slain. This
John Aberigh was afterwards so hardly pursued by the Earl of Sutherland, that he was
constrained, for the safety of his life, to flee into the Isles.
The Scottish historians, in describing this conflict, do
mistake the place, the persons, and the fact; and do quite change the whole state of the
history. For the person -- Angus Dow Mackay of Strathnaver is, by some of them called
Angus Duff and by others, Angus Duff of Strathern. For the place -- they make Angus Duff
of Strathern to come from Strathern (some say from Strathnaver), to Moray and Caithness,
as if these shires did join together. For the fact -- they would have Angus Duff to come
for a prey of goods out of Caithness and Moray, which two shires do not march together,
having a great arm of the sea interjected betwixt them, called Moray Firth and having Ross
and Sutherland betwixt them by land. But the truth of this conflict and the occasion
thereof I have here set down.
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