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Antiquarian Notes, Historical, Genealogical and Social
(Second Series) Inverness-Shire, Parish by Parish
Chapter III. Kirkhill


AFTER their forfeiture, the great possessions of the Bysets in the Aird, comprehending, with the exception of ecclesiastical property, the whole of the present parishes of Kirkhill, Kiltarlity, and Kilmorack, became much subdivided. A perusal of the Cess Rolls of 1644 and 1691 will show, however, that with trifling exceptions they fell into the hands of the Frasers and Chisholms and their cadets. During the seventeenth century the Frasers lost ground considerably. Amongst those who strove to obtain a footing in the Aird were the Earls of Argyll—the second Earl in 1497, receiving large portions from Sir David Lvndsay of Beauford, while other lands were also acquired.

The first Mackintosh who obtained land there was Farquhar Roy Mackintosh, son of Dougall Mor Mac Gillie Callum, which Malcolm was youngest son of Malcolm Beg Mackintosh, tenth of Mackintosh. Malcolm Mackintosh was slain at the battle of Craigcailleoch in 1441, leaving a very young family, of whom the eldest, Dougall above mentioned, was reckoned one of the greatest warriors of his day. At Edinburgh, on the 16th of October, 1511, Archibald, 2nd Earl of Argyll, by charter of taillie and donation, for the homage and service manifoldly rendered and to be rendered to him and his, by Farquhar Mackintosh, son of Dougall Mor Mackintosh, granted, to be held ward and relief, all and whole the lands of Kirkton and Inchberry, with their pertinents, lying within the Sheriffdom of Inverness, to the said Farquhar Mackintosh and the heirs male of his body lawfully procreated or to be procreated, whom failing to Donald Mackintosh his brother-german and the heirs male of his body lawfully procreated or to be procreated, whom failing to the heirs male of the body of the foresaid Dougall, their father, lawfully procreated or to be procreated, whom all failing, fully to return to the said noble Earl and his nearest heirs male whomsoever. The charter was confirmed by James IV. at Edinburgh on 27th February, 1512. Unfortunately Dougall Mor in his old age, instigated by the evil advice of relatives, turned against his Chief, and with his two sons was killed in an attack on the Castle of Inverness in 1521. Failing lawful heirs male, Kirkton and Inchherry reverted to Argyll in terms of the charter, and the Earl's son, Colin third Earl, after serving heir to his father in 1526, feued the lands the following year to Hugh, fifth Lord Lovat, and they have since remained with the Lovat family, although the superiority continued for a considerable time in the Argylls. The first Mackintosh acquisition was thus of brief duration.

The Fentons of Ogill were descended of the same family that owned much of the Aird. In 1475 Alexander Fenton of Ogill is found, and on 6th December, 1507, the before mentioned Archibald, Earl of Argyll, for an onerous consideration sells and alienates to Thomas Fenton of Ogill, his heirs and assignees, the lands of Beaufort with the pertinents. Seventeen years later, James Fenton of Ogill, styling himself lord of the lands of Beaufort, by charter dated Edinburgh, 13th December, 1524, granted to honourable persons, Lachlan Mackintosh of Dunachton and Jean Gordon, his spouse, and the longest liver of them in conjunct fee, all and sundry, his lands of Beaufort, with tenants, tenancies, and services of free tenants of the same and their pertinents, lying within the Sheriffdom of Inverness. The holding was—the parties and longest liver in fee, and their heirs, whom failing the nearest and lawful heirs of Janet—of the King in fee and heritage, and doing to the King the service used and wont only. The charter, which is witnessed by Master John Irwine, Rector of Benholme, Sir David Edward, Sir Robert Gordon of the Glen, Walter Chessman, Sir Walter Fairweather, and others, is confirmed by James V. at Edinburgh of same date. From the destination being to Jean Gordon's heirs, failing children of the marriage, it is probable the price paid to Fenton was part of her own fortune. There were
three children of the marriage—William, who succeeded, Margaret and Muriel—and after the cruel murder of her husband Lachlan Mackintosh, the hand of Jean Gordon, heiress of Lochinvar, a young, wealthy, and accomplished widow, was eagerly sought. I observe that on 25th June, 1527, at Darnaway, an agreement for her marriage was entered into between her brother James Stuart, "the little Earl of Moray," and Hugh Fraser, fifth Lord Lovat, then a widower. The marriage was to be solemnized as soon as a dispensation was obtained, and in the first instance Master Gilbert Strachan, or any other that had power to dispense within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity the parties stood to each other, was to be applied to, and failing in this, the parties to "send to the Court of Rome, with all diligence for harnebringing of the same dispensation." The Earl was to give 1203 merks in money, and Lovat 40 merks of land furth of the Barony of Dalcross, as a jointure. Either the dispensation was refused, or the contemplated marriage broken off for other causes, somewhat hastily, for it is recorded that Jean Gordon married, the same year (1527), James Ogilvie of Cardale, laird of Findlater. Curiously Jean Gordon's son, William Mackintosh above mentioned, fifteenth of Mackintosh, afterwards married Margaret Ogilvie, sister of James, his step-aunt.

The lands contained in Mackintosh's charter, under the general title of "Bewfurde," comprehended-

I. The Barony of Drumchardiny, in the parish of Kirkhill, which apparently included all the present Newton and Lentran estates, with the exception of Kingillie, and extended to three davochs land of old extent, ultimately sub-divided as follows:—Holm and Rhinduie, one davoch; Cragach, one half davoch; Drumchardiny, one and a half davoch.

II. The half davoch land of old extent of Easter Eskadale in the parish of Kiltarlity, and

III. The half davoch land of old extent of Kinnairies, also in the parish of Kiltarlity—the whole lying within the ancient Barony of Beaufort; and in 1617 of the value of Z7 old extent, and 35 new extent.

William, son of Lachlan Mackintosh and Jean Gordon, does not seem to have made up titles to these Aird lands, as his son Lachlan Mackintosh is retoured thereto as heir of his grandfather Lachlan, on 9th June, 1567. Lachlan conveys the fee of the lands to his eldest son Angus, by charter dated at Inverness, 15th June, 1568, confirmed by James VI. at Dalkeith, 1st January, 1574. On the 21st of January, 1617, Lachlan, afterwards Sir Lachlan Mackintosh, eldest son of Angus, is served heir to his grandfather Lachlan in the whole lands.

The lands being distant from the chief Mackintosh estates, it would appear that they were dealt with in form of wadset, and not set to tenants in the usual way. As regards the Kirkhill lands, Lachlan Mackintosh in 1570 wadsets Drumchardinv to Hugh, Lord Lovat, for £500 Scots, Lovat granting at the same time a letter of reversion, and in 1583 his Lordship's chamberlain gives an acquittance for the teinds of Drumchardiny for crop 1583. It would appear that the lands remained under wadset to the Lovat family up to 1617.

On 31st October, 1576, Mackintosh, in respect of a sum of 200 merks, wadsets Cragaig to Allister Vic Homas Fraser, who grants letter of reversion the same day. On 2nd June, 1598, a contract is entered into between Lachlan Mackintosh and James Vic Allister Fraser anent the wadset of the half of Cragaig, and on the following day James grants Mackintosh a letter of reversion on the repayment of 700 merks. On the 23rd July, 1593, Thomas Fraser of Moniack and spouse, get a wadset of the half of Cragaig, and a letter of redemption on payment Of 400 merks is granted by them of same date. A similar obligation by Moniack is granted on 5th August, 1598. Mackintosh wadsets the half of Cragaig to Andrew Vie Coul Fraser, and on 3rd June, 1598, Andrew grants letter of reversion on payment of 500 merks and 50 merks. The lands above mentioned appear to include the whole one and a half davoch of old extent of Holm, Rhinduie, and Cragach, and to have remained with these families, after Lachlan Mackintosh's death, and during the minority of his grandson and successor, up to 1617.

The Mackintosh lands in Kiltarlity were held as follows-

1. Easter Eskadale. On the 21st September, 1570, Mackintosh wadsets the lands of Eskadale to William Fraser of Struy for 500 merks, and Struy grants a letter of reversion on the same day subscribed with his hand. On 26th June, 1585, the wadset is renewed between the parties. The Struy family continued in possession until 1618. The necessities of the family of Mackintosh compelled the sale of their Aird estates, and I find that on 10th of March, 1618, there is a Crown charter by James VI. on the resignation of Lachlan Mackintosh of Dunachton, of the lands of Eskadale, extending to half a davoch of land of old extent, with shielings, ale house, and crofts, in favour of Thomas Fraser of Struy and Elizabeth Dunbar his spouse.

2. Kinnairies. On the 11th May, 1569, Mackintosh wadsets the half davoch lands of Kinnairies to Alexander Chisholm of Comar, for five hundred merks, and the Chisholm grants a letter of reversion of the same date signed with his own hand. The wadset and redemption are renewed by the parties on 11th June, 1585, and again on the penult of May, 1589—Chisholm dying within a couple of months or so thereafter. He appears to have left Kinnairies to a younger son, whose Christian name, though I have not observed it, I apprehend was Allister, called "Mor." It is certain that in 1618, there were two Johns Chisholm, one John Chisholm of Comar and the other John Chisholm of Kinnairies, cousins-german in the first and second degree. On the 22nd April, 1618, James VI., upon the resignation of Lachlan Mackintosh of Tor Castle, grants a charter of the lands of Kinnairies, extending to one half davoch land of old extent of the value of 17s 6d, in favour of John Chisholm, styled of Kinnairies, and the heirs male of his body, whom failing to Thomas Chisholm, second son of John Chisholm of Comar and his nearest and lawful heirs whomsoever. John Chisholm of Kinnairies was succeeded by his only son Alexander, upon whose death, without male issue, Thomas Chisholm, second son of Comar, in 1634, serves as heir male of taillie and provision to Alexander, as his (Thomas') father's brother's son. Thomas Chisholm of Kinnairies sold the lands shortly after to Colonel Hugh Fraser, the first Fraser of Kinnairies, and in the Valuation Roll for 1644 Colonel Fraser is assessed at the large sum of £626 in Kiltarlity. In the same year Thomas Chisholm, described as of "Wester (Lovat's) Eskadale," is assessed at £261, while as "Thomas Chisholm of Kinnairies," he is assessed in Kilmorack at £40. From this Thomas was descended the late Mr Cohn Chisholm of Inverness. The half davochs of Easter Eskadale and of Kinnairies adjoined. It will have been noticed that for some time the Lovat family had been, as wadsetters, possessors of one and a half davochs of Drumchardiny. It is recorded by Mr Anderson in his History of the Frasers, apparently on good authority, that "the family of Mackintosh held large possessions in the Aird which this Lord Lovat (Simon, the eighth Lord), of whom we now speak, was very anxious to get into his own hands. With this view he employed Fraser of Belladrum and Fraser of Culbokie to purchase the lands of Drumchardiny, Holm, and Cragach, but they over-reached him and purchased for themselves. This was soon after 1617, and chagrined his Lordship not a little." It was natural that Lovat should desire these lands, for he was proprietor (excluding the island of Merkinch) of the whole country from the River Ness to the Burn of Rhinduie, comprehending Kinmvlies, Bunchrew, English- ton, Kirkton, Phopachy, and Inchberry on the one side, with the properties or superiorities of Moniacks, Achnagairn, etc., on the other. The character of this Lord, although counted extravagant and a dilapidator of his estates so far as regards his successors, is thus kindly noticed in the history—

"This nobleman has been represented in very different lights, for while he was generally surnamed Simon 'Mor,' or the Great, other called him 'Shim Gorrach,' i.e., Simon the Fool. He surely had several laudable qualities. He was one of the best of landlords or masters. He never would remove a tenant that paid his rents for any grassum or bribe. He could never be prevailed upon to set a price upon the River of Beauly, or to give a tack for a liquidate value on the fishing of it, for he said that fishing was a casual, a contingent thing, depending upon a special Providence, and that the over-rating a thing so casual might provoke God to blast the common blessings. For the same reason he would not set any of his orchards in tack, though he had several of them, and a prodigious quantity of fruit in them. From the orchard of Beauly alone he had usually six chalders of good fruit, apples and pears. He had another excellent quality, that lie could not endure to hear an absent person run down by any present. It was a maxim of his, that as receipts made thieves so a credulous receiver made the liar. This noble lord excelled in hospitality, and was generous, liberal, and charitable—his house was an open harbour for good men, and his heart was no less open to entertain and receive them. The door of his house was seldom shut, and yet such regularity was observed that none was ever seen drunk at his table."

By charter dated 1st November, 1616, Lachlan Mackintosh of Dunachton, with consent of John Grant of Freuchie and James Grant of Ardnill, interdicting creditors, sold to Hugh Fraser of Belladrum, his heirs male and assignees whatsoever, all and whole the town and davoch lands of Holm and Rhindowie, the town and half davoch land of Cragach, with the ale house and ale house croft of the same, with fishings and grazings, together also with half of the miln of Holm, half of the multures, sequels, and knaveships of the towns and lands of Drumchardiny, Holm, Rhindowie, and Cragach, lying within the barony of Drumchardiny and Beaufort and Sheriffdom of Inverness.

James VI,, at Edinburgh, on 20th December, 1616, ratifies the above sale, and of new granted the above-mentioned lands to the said Hugh Fraser of Belladrum, together with half of the yair called Carriencoir, pertaining to the said lands of Holm and Cragach, and to the lands of Drumchardiny adjacent to them, with fishings of salmon and other white fish in the sea, and in pools of which the tenants and possessors of Holm and Cragach were formerly in use and possession, and incorporated all into the free Barony of Holm.

On the 14th of November, 1616, Lachlan Mackintosh of Dunachton with consent foresaid sells to Hugh Fraser of Culbokie, his heirs male and assignees whomsoever, the town and lands of Drumchardiny extending to one and a half davoch land of old extent, with the ale house and ale house crofts of the same with fishings and grazings, half of the miln of Holm, half of the multures, sequels, and knaveship of the town and lands of Drumchardiny, Holm, Rhindowie, and Cragach in the barony of Drunichardiny and Beaufort, and Sheriffdom of Inverness. James VI., at Edinburgh, on 20th December, 1616, ratifies the above sale, and of new granted the above-mentioned lands to the said Hugh Fraser of Culbokie, together with half of the yair called Carriencoir pertaining to the said lands of Drumchardiny, and to the lands of Holm and Cragach adjacent to them, with fishings of salmon and of other white fish in the sea and in the pools of which the tenants and possessors of Drumchardiny were formerly in use and possession, and incorporated the whole into the free Barony of Drumchardiny. The value of these lands were about equal—Belladrum in the Roll for 1644 being assessed at £573 and Culbokie at £567 Scots. The hill lands and Baronies of Holm (now Lentran) and of Drumchardiny, incorporated out of the old Barony of Drumchardiny as above in 16r8, were not formally divided as late as 1790.

Thus passed away the hold of the Mackintoshes in the Aird, which lasted from 1524 to 1618.

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