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Historical and Traditional Sketches of Highland Families and of the Highlands
by John MacLean 1848


"The Historical and Traditional Sketches," which will be found in the following pages, portions of which had occasionally appeared in the local papers, and have been copied into other papers in various parts of Scotland, England, Ireland, India, Australia, and America, are now presented to the public in a more collected and extended form. This is complying with the desires which have been repeatedly expressed by many of the sons of the Gael at home and abroad.

These Sketches have no pretension to literary excellence, nor are they put forward as a full chronological or consecutive History of the Families and events to which they refer. Their interest is purely local; and their merit, if they possess any, is, that they contain historical facts, traits of character, and traditional tales of stirring times, and of important personages, which have not been presented to the public by any other author.

Of the author, or perhaps I should more properly say, the reciter of these tales, it would not become me, his son, to speak in terms of praise. I may, however, say, without exposing myself to censure, that from his infancy he gave a greedy ear to the recital of old stories; and when, as was, and still is, the custom of the country, the fathers, grandfathers, and patriarchs of the town assembled together in the winter evenings and told "the tales of other times," he would sit in the "chimney nook" in wrapt attention listening to their conversation. This predilection of his youth "grew with his growth, and strengthened with his years."

An all-merciful and bountiful Creator has been pleased to gift him with good health and a retentive memory. In the course of a life of upwards of a century, he has suffered little bodily illness or mental distress; and, except in so far as his powers are impaired by the natural debility which necessarily attends old age, he still retains the enjoyment of his physical and mental faculties. It may not be out of place to say that one of our Scottish newspapers has lately said of him, "Although the Maitland and Spalding Clubs, and many antiquarian individuals have rescued the records of the country from oblivion, yet John Maclean, the Inverness Historian, by dint of powerful recollection in his own person, may be said to have eclipsed them." And one of our ablest and most patriotic Chiefs writes—"It is an unusua1 blessing conferred on frail and feeble humanity, that the mind should exercise its unimpaired function and the memory retain its perfect power, when many years have worn the fleshly machine in which these work."

In placing these sketches before the public, I avail myself of the opportunity to express for my father and myself, our respectful thanks to the Editors of the various newspapers and publications in the old and new worlds, who have brought his case before the public, as well as our unfeigned gratitude to the numerous Sons of the Gael, "noble, gentle, and simple," at home and abroad, whose benevolence has cast a parting gleam of sunshine on the shortening days of Centenarian.

To his exalted and illustrious Sovereign, who has graciously extended to him her Royal bounty, it would be presumptuous in him to attempt to express his sense of the honour and the benefit she has conferred upon him; and while his lamp of life shall last, he will offer up his heartfelt supplications for her long, prosperous, and happy reign.

F. M’L.

  1. George MacKenzie of Rosehaugh
  2. Family of Chisholm, &c.
  3. McKenzies of Redcastle
  4. The Black Watch, or Forty-Second Royal Highlanders, &c.
  5. Donald Gruimach, The Black-Isle Cattle-Lifter
  6. Highland Robbers and Cattle Lifters
  7. Lord President Forbes
  8. MacIntoshes of Borlum, &c. Part I
    MacIntoshes of Borlum, &c. Part II

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