Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Scottish Nation

THE ISLES, Lord of, an ancient title, possessed by the descendants of Somerled, thane of Argyle, who in 1135, when David I. Expelled the Norwegians from Arran and Bute, and some other of the islands, appears to have got a grant of them from that monarch. To secure himself in possession, however, he married, about 1140, Effrica, or Ragnhildis, the daughter of Olave the Red, king of Man, from which marriage sprung the dynasty so well known in Scottish history as the Lords of the Isles. By her he had three sons: Dugall, Reginald or Ranald, and Angus. The Chronicle of Man adds a fourth, Olave. By a previous marriage he had one son, Gillecolane. According to the Celtic genealogists, this Somerled (the name is Norse, in Gaelic Somhairle, in English, Samuel) was descended, through a long line of ancestors, from the celebrated Irish king Conn Chead Chath, or Conn of the hundred battles. He assisted his son-in-law, Wimund, the pretended earl of Moray, when he invaded Scotland in 1141, and on the death of David I., accompanied by the children of Wimund, he landed with a great force, in Scotland, 5th November 1153, in order to revenge the wrongs done to him. Having, however, encountered a more vigorous opposition than he had anticipated, he found it necessary to agree to terms of accommodation with Malcolm IV., an event which was deemed of so much importance as to form an epoch from which various royal charters were dated.

      His brother-in-law, Godred the Black, king of Man, had acted so tyrannically that Thorfinn, one of the most powerful of the insular nobles, resolved to depose him, and applied to Somerled for his son, Dugall, then a child, whom he proposed to make king of the Isles in Godred’s place. Carrying Dugall through all the isles, except Man, Thorfinn forced the inhabitants to acknowledge him as their king, and took hostages from them for their obedience. One of the chief islanders fled to the Isle of Man, and informed Godred of the plot against him. That prince immediately collected a large fleet, and proceeded against the rebels, then under the guidance of Somerled, with a fleet of eighty galleys. After a bloody but indecisive battle (1156) a treaty was entered into, by which Godred ceded to the sons of Somerled what were afterwards called the South Isles, retaining for himself the North Isles and Man. Two years afterwards, Somerled invaded the latter island with a fleet of fifty-three ships, and laid the whole island waste, after defeating Godred in battle.

      Somerled’s power was now very great, and for some time he carried on a vexatious predatory warfare on the coasts of Scotland, till Malcolm required of him to resign his possessions into his hands as his sovereign, and to hold them in future as a vassal of the Scottish crown. Somerled refused, and in 1164, assembling a numerous army, he sailed up the Clyde, with 160 galleys, and landed his forces near Renfrew, where he was met by the Scots army, under the high steward of Scotland, and defeated, he himself and his son Gillecolane being amongst the slain. According to tradition, he was assassinated in his tent by an individual in whom he placed confidence. This celebrated chief has been traditionally described as “a well tempered man, in body shapely, of a fair piercing eye, of middle stature, and of quick discernment.” According to the then prevalent custom of gavel kind, whilst Gillecolane’s son, also named Somerled, succeeded to his grandfather’s superiority of Argyle, the insular possessions were divided among his sons descended of the house of Man. Dugall, the eldest of these, got for his share, Mull, Coll, Tiree, and Jura; Reginald, the second son, obtained Isla and Kintyre; and Angus, the third son, Bute. Arran is supposed to have been divided between the two latter. The chronicle of Man mentions a battle, in 1192, between Reginald and Angus, in which the latter obtained the victory. He was killed, in 1210, with his three sons, by the men of Skye, leaving no male issue. One of his sons, James, left a daughter and heiress, Jane, afterwards married to Alexander, son and heir of Walter, high steward of Scotland, who, in her right, claimed the isle of Bute.

      Both Dugall and Reginald were called kings of the Isles at the time that Reginald, the son of Godred the Black, was styled king of Man and the Isles; and in the next generation we find in a Norse chronicle, mention made of three kings of the Isles, of the race of Somerled, existing at one time. It is evident, therefore, says Mr. Gregory, that the word king, as used by the Norwegians and their vassals in the Isles, was not confined as in Scotland, to one supreme ruler, but that it had with them an additional meaning, corresponding either to prince of the blood, or to magnate. (Highlands and Isles of Scotland, p. 17). On Dugall’s death, the isles that had fallen to his share, instead of descending immediately to his children, were acquired by his brother, Reginald. As lord of Kintyre, the latter granted certain lands to the abbey of Saddel, in Kintyre, which had been founded by him, for monks of the Cistercian order. He also made ample donations to the monastery of Paisley. From Dugall sprung the great house of the MacDougals of Lorn, who styled themselves de Ergadia or of Argyle. He left two sons, Dugall Scrag, and Duncan, who, in the northern Sagas, bear the title of the Sudereyan kings. Dugall was taken prisoner by Haco, king of Norway, but of the history of Duncan nothing is known, except that he founded the priory of Ardchattan in Lorn. He was succeeded by his son, Ewen, commonly called King Ewen, and sometimes, erroneously, King John, of whom honourable mention is made in a previous part of this work.

      Reginald had two sons, Donald and Roderick. From Donald, who appears to have inherited the Isles, spring the great family of Isla, patronymically styled Macdonald (see that surname). On Roderick or Ruari, his second son, Reginald bestowed Bute and part of Kintyre. He was the founder of a distinct family, that of Bute, (Patronymically styled Macruari or M’rory,) which afterwards became very powerful in the Isles. Roderick was one of the most noted pirates of his day, and the annals of the period are filled with accounts of his predatory expeditions. The Scots having driven him out of Bute, he went to Norway, to solicit assistance from King Haco, and the complaints made by him and other islanders, of the aggressions of the Scots, led to Haco’s celebrated expedition to Scotland in 1266, which ended in his defeat and death. Roderick had two sons, Dugall and Allan, who, with their father, were devoted partisans of Haco. They were forced to resign Bute, but had lands assigned to them, on their agreeing to become vassals of Scotland, in that portion of the Isles which had belonged to the king of Man. This family, in consequence, were styled Macruaries of the North Isles; and on the death of Dugall, called Rex Hebudum, without descendants, his brother Allan succeeded to his possessions, to which afterwards he appears to have added the lordship of Garmoran, on the mainland, (Gregory’s Highlands and Isles, p. 22,) comprehending the districts of Moydart, Arassaig, Morar, and Knoydert.

      Angus, lord of Isla, the son of Donald, styled Angus Mor by the Seannachies, had his lands ravaged in 1255, by Alexander III., for refusing to renounce his fealty to Norway. Although, on this occasion he was forced to submit, eight years afterwards, on the arrival of Haco in the Isles, he joined the Norwegians. But on the annexation of the western isles to Scotland, he finally transferred his allegiance to the Scottish crown. In 1284 he was present at the convention by which the Maiden of Norway was declared heiress to the throne of Scotland. At this convention attended also Alexander de Ergadia of Lorn, son of Ewen, and Allan MacRuari of the North Isles, son of Roderick. Angus Mor died soon after 1292. He had two sons, Alexander of Isla, and Angus. The elder son, Alexander, by a marriage with one of the daughters of Ewen of Lorn, acquired a considerable addition to his possessions, but having joined the lord of Lorn in his opposition to Robert the Bruce, he became involved in the ruin of that chief; and being obliged to surrender to the king, he was imprisoned in Dundonald castle, Ayrshire, where he died. His whole possessions were forfeited and given to his brother, Angus Oig, who had supported the claims of Bruce. After the defeat at Methven, and the subsequent unfortunate skirmish with the men of Lorn at Tyndrum, Angus hospitably received Bruce into his castle of Dunaverty, in August 1306, and there sheltered him until he found it necessary to take refuge in the island of Rachlin. He assisted in the attack upon Carrick, when the king had landed in his patrimonial district, and he was present at the battle of Bannockburn where the men of the Isles, under “Syr Anguss of Ile and But,” formed the reserve. When the struggle was over, Bruce bestowed upon Angus the lordship of Lochaber, which had belonged to the Comyns, with the lands of Durrour and Glenco, and the islands of Mull, Tyree, &c., which had formed part of the possessions of the family of Lorn. He left two sons: John, his successor, and Join Oig, ancestor of the Macdonalds of Glenco.

      Allan MacRuari of the North Isles, above mentioned, had an illegitimate son, Roderick, the leader of the vassals of Christina, his daughter and heiress. This Roderick, having also attached himself to the fortunes of Bruce, received from that monarch the greater part of Lorn, and at the same time his sister, Christina, bestowed on him a large portion of her inheritance in Garmoran and the North Isles. In 1325, Roderick was forfeited of all his possessions for engaging in some plot against the king, Mr. Skene thinks “from some connexion with the Soulis conspiracy of 1320.” His lands were restored to his son, Ranald, by David II., about 1344. Two years thereafter, Ranald was killed in the monastery of Elcho, near Perth, where he had taken up his temporary quarters, having been attacked there at midnight by the earl of Ross, from whom he held the lands of Kintail in N. Argyle.

      John of Isla, the son and heir of Angus Oig, and chief of the clan Donald, having had some dispute with the regent concerning certain lands which had been granted by Robert the Bruce, joined the party of Edward Baliol, and by a treaty concluded 12th December 1335, engaged to support his pretensions in consideration of a grant of the lands and islands claimed by him. On the return of David II. From France in 1341, that monarch, anxious to secure the support of the most powerful of his barons, concluded a treaty with John of Isla, who, in consequence, pledged himself to support his government. He had married Amy, the sister of Ranald, and as that chief left no issue, she became his heir, and her husband, uniting her possessions to his own, assumed the title of lord of the Isles. The king, however, unwilling to aggrandise a chief already too powerful, determined to evade his claim, and John, again, transferred his support to the party of Baliol. When David returned from his captivity in England in 1357, John of the Isles abandoned that party, and having without any cause divorced his lady, with whom he had got such extensive possessions, he married, secondly, the lady Margaret, daughter of Robert, high steward of Scotland. In 1366, when the heavy burdens imposed upon the people for the ransom of the king, had produced general discontent, and the steward had been thrown into prison by David, the northern barons broke out into open rebellion, to put down which the steward was released. All the northern chiefs submitted, except the lord of the Isles, who was forfeited; but the steward prevailed upon his son-in-law to meet the king at Inverness, in 1369, when an agreement was entered into, by which John not only engaged to submit to the royal authority, and pay his share of all public burdens, but promised to oppose all others who should attempt to resist either, and gave hostages for his faithful fulfilment of this obligation. The accession of the steward to the throne took place the following year, and during the whole of the reign of Robert II., John of the Isles conducted himself as a loyal and obedient subject. From his father-in-law he received a feudal title to all those lands which had belonged to his first wife, whom he had divorced. Godfrey, his eldest surviving son by her, resisted this unjust proceeding, maintaining his mother’s prior claims and his own as her heir, but Ranald, his younger brother, for not opposing it, was rewarded by a grant of the North Isles, Garmoran, and many other lands, to hold of his father and his heirs. Subsequently, John resigned into the king’s hands nearly the whole of the western portion of his territories, and received charters of these lands in favour of himself and the issue of his second marriage (three sons), so that the latter were rendered feudally independent of the children of the first marriage, also three sons. John of the Isles died about 1386, at his own castle of Ardtornish, in Morvern, and was buried in Iona. He had given liberal grants to the church, and the ecclesiastics of the Isles are traditionally said to have bestowed upon him the appellation of “the good John of Isla.” According to the seannachies, Ranald, the youngest son of the first marriage, was “old in the government of the Isles at his father’s death.” He afterwards acted as tutor or guardian to his younger brother, Donald, lord of the Isles, to whom, on his attaining majority, he delivered over the lordship, in presence of the vassals. He did not long survive his father, and his children were dispossessed by their uncle, Godfrey, who assumed the title of lord of Uist and Garmoran.

      Donald, second lord of the Isles, the eldest son of the second marriage, married Mary Leslie, afterwards countess of Ross, which led to a contest with the regent duke of Albany regarding that earldom, and to the celebrated battle of Harlaw in 1411, the whole circumstances connected with which will be found detailed in the memoir of the first duke of Albany (see ALBANY). On his brothers of the full blood Donald, virtual earl of Ross in right of his wife, bestowed ample territories as his vassals, and each of them became the founder of a powerful family (see MACDONALD, surname of). Donald died in Isla about 1420, and was interred in Iona, with the usual ceremonies. He left Alexander, his successor both in the Isles, and the earldom of Ross, and Angus, afterwards bishop of the Isles (See ROSS, earl of).

      Alexander’s son and successor, John II., fourth lord of the Isles, and earl of Ross, on 13th February 1462, entered into a treaty with Edward IV. Of England and the banished earl of Douglas, for the conquest of Scotland. On this occasion he assumed the style of an independent prince, and granted a commission to his “trusty and well beloved cousins, Ranald of the Isles and Duncan, archdean of the Isles,” to confer with the deputies of Edward IV. According to the conditions of the treaty, the lord of the Isles, with the celebrated Donald Balloch of Isla, who had some years previously defeated the royal forces under the earls of Caithness and Mar, and John, his son and heir, and all their retainers, agreed to become Edward’s sworn vassals, and to assist him in all his wars, upon payment to each of a stipulated sum of money; and it was farther provided that, in the event of the entire subjugation of Scotland, the whole of the kingdom north of the Forth was to be equally divided between the earls of Ross and Douglas, and Donald Balloch, while Douglas was to be put in possession of his extensive estates between the Forth and the English border. Soon after the lord of the Isles raised the standard of rebellion. Assembling a large force under the command of his bastard son, Angus, and Donald Balloch, they made themselves masters of the castle of Inverness, whence proclamations were issued in name of the earl, addressed to all the inhabitants of the burghs and sheriffdom of Inverness, including also Nairn, Ross and Caithness, and the people were commanded to obey the said Angus as the earl’s lieutenant, under pain of death, to pay to him all the taxes usually paid to the crown, and to refuse obedience to the king.

      On the suppression of this rebellion, the earl of Ross was summoned before parliament for treason, but failed to appear. In 1475 the treaty above mentioned became known to the government. He was, in consequence, summoned in his castle of Dingwall to appear before the Estates of the realm at Edinburgh, and the earl of Argyle received a commission to prosecute the decree of forfeiture against him. Failing to appear, he was declared a traitor, and his estates were confiscated. He only prevented an armed invasion of the Isles by suing for pardon, by the intercession of the earl of Huntly. He even appeared in person at Edinburgh, and with many expressions of contrition surrendered himself to the clemency of James III. The queen and the Estates of the realm also pleaded for him, and in July 1476, he was restored to the forfeited earldom of Ross and the lordship of the Isles. He then voluntarily resigned that earldom, and the lands of Kintyre and Knapdale, and, as a compensation, was created a peer of parliament by the title of lord of the Isles. He had no children by his wife, Elizabeth Livingston, daughter of Lord Livingston, great-chamberlain of Scotland, but the succession to the new title, and the estates connected with it, was secured in favour of his illegitimate sons, Angus and John, the latter of whom was dead before 16th December 1478. The elder son, Angus, married a daughter of the earl of Argyle.

      The resignation of the earldom of Ross and of the lands of Kintyre and Knapdale, had irritated the island chiefs descended from the original family, and while the Macleans, Macneills, Macleods, and other tribes adhered to the lord of the Isles, the various branches of the clan joined his turbulent son and heir, Angus, who, early accustomed to rebellion, and of a violent temper, soon obtained an ascendency over his father, and had great influence with his vassals. Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail having repudiated his wife, Lady Margaret of the Isles, sister of Angus, a quarrel was the consequence, and the latter, assisted by his kinsmen, resolved to make it a pretence to regain possession of the whole or a part of the earldom of Ross. Accordingly, at the head of a numerous band of Island warriors, he invaded that district. The earl of Athol was sent against him, and was joined by the Mackenzies, Mackays, Frasers, and others. A conflict ensued at a place called Lagebread, where they were defeated by Angus, with great slaughter. The earls of Crawford and Huntly were then sent against him, the one by sea and the other by land; but neither of them was successful. A third expedition, under the earls of Argyle and Athol, was accompanied by Angus’ father, and several families of the Isles joined the royal force.

      Argyle and Athol procured an interview between Angus and his father, in the hope of bringing about an accommodation between them; but in this they were disappointed, and the two earls returned without effecting anything. The lord of the Isles, however, proceeded onward through the Sound of Mull, accompanied by the Macleans, Macleods, Macneills, and others, and having encountered Angus in a bay of the Island of Mull, near Tobermory, a desperate battle ensued, in which Angus was again victorious. This engagement is traditionally called “The Battle of the Bloody Bay,” and by it Angus obtained possession of the extensive territories of his clan, and was recognised as its head. John was afterwards reconciled to his son, who, however, does not appear to have made any surrender, in consequence, of his power or influence. Having once more thrown off his allegiance to the throne, he engaged in a treaty with Edward IV., who was then preparing to invade Scotland, and, during the remainder of his life, continued in a state of open resistance to the government.

      Some time after the battle of the Bloody Bay, the earl of Athol crossed privately to Isla, and carried off the infant son of Angus, called Donald Dubh, or “the Black.” Having been placed in the hands of his maternal grandfather, Argyle, he was carefully guarded in the castle of Inchconnel, in Lochow. When Angus discovered by whom his child had been carried off, summoning his adherents, he sailed to the neighbourhood of Inverlochy, where he left his galleys. He then made a rapid and secret march into the district of Athol, where he committed the most appalling excesses. This expedition is known as “the Raid of Athol.” The earl of Athol and his countess took refuge in a chapel dedicated to St. Bride, whence they were dragged by the ferocious chief, and his followers, loaded with plunder, conveyed them to Inverlochy. Here he embarked them in the galleys, and sailed for Isla; but in the voyage from Lochaber, many of his galleys sunk in a dreadful storm, with all the plunder with which they were laden. Believing this loss to have been occasioned by his desecration of the chapel of St. Bride, he soon liberated his prisoners, and even performed a humiliating penance in the chapel he had violated. After this event he marched to Inverness to attack Mackenzie of Kintail, when he was assassinated by an Irish harper sometime between 1480 and 1490.

      The rank of heir to the lordship of the Isles devolved on the nephew of John, Alexander of Lochalsh, son of his brother, Celestine. Placing himself at the head of the vassals of the Isles, he endeavoured, it is said, with John’s consent, to recover possession of the earldom of Ross, and in 1491, at the head of a large body of western Highlanders, he advanced from Lochaber into Badenoch, where he was joined by the clan Chattan. They then marched to Inverness, where, after taking the royal castle, and placing a garrison in it, they proceeded to the north-east, and plundered the lands of Sir Alexander Urquhart, sheriff of Cromarty. They next hastened to Strathconnan, for the purpose of ravaging the lands of the Mackenzies. The latter, however, surprised and routed the invaders, and expelled them from Ross, their leader, Alexander of Lochalsh, being wounded, and as some say, taken prisoner. In consequence of this insurrection, at a meeting of the Estates in Edinburgh in May 1493, the title and possessions of the lord of the Isles were declared to be forfeited to the crown. In January following the aged John appeared in presence of the king, and made a voluntary surrender of his lordship, after which he appears to have remained for some time in the king’s household, in the receipt of a pension. He finally retired to the monastery of Paisley, where he died about 1498; and was interred, at his own request, in the tomb of his royal ancestor, Robert II.

      With the view of reducing the insular chiefs to subjection, and establishing the royal authority in the Islands, James IV., soon after the forfeiture in 1493, proceeded in person to the West Highlands, when Alexander of Lochalsh, the principal cause of the insurrection which had led to it, and John of Isla, grandson and representative of Donald Balloch, were among the first to make their submission. On this occasion they appear to have obtained royal charters of the lands they had previously held under the lord of the Isles, and were both knighted. In the following year the king visited the Isles twice, and having seized and garrisoned the castle of Dunaverty in South Kintyre, Sir John of Isla, deeply resenting this proceeding, collected his followers, stormed the castle, and hung the governor from the wall, in the sight of the king and his fleet. With four of his sons, he was soon after apprehended at Isla, by MacIean of Ardnamurchan, and being conveyed to Edinburgh, they were there executed for high treason.

      In 1495 King James assembled an army at Glasgow, and on the 18th May, he was at the castle of Mingarry in Ardnamurchan, when several of the Highland chiefs made their submission to him. IN 1497 Sir Alexander of Lochalsh again rebelled, and invading the more fertile districts of Ross, was by the Mackenzies and Munroes, at a place called Drumchatt, again defeated and driven out of Ross. Proceeding southward among the Isles, he endeavoured to rouse the islanders to arms in his behalf, but without success. He was surprised in the island of Oransay, by MacIean of Ardnamurchan, and put to death.

      In 1501, Donald Dubh, whom the islanders regarded as their rightful lord, and who, from his infancy, had been detained in confinement in the castle of Inchconnell, escaped from prison, and appeared among his clansmen. They had always maintained that he was the lawful son of Angus of the Isles, by his wife the Lady Margaret Campbell, daughter of the first earl of Argyle, but his legitimacy was denied by the government when the islanders combined to assert by arms his claims as their hereditary chief. His liberation he owed to the gallantry and fidelity of the men of Glencoe. Repairing to the isle of Lewis, he put himself under the protection of its lord, Torquil Macleod, who had married Katherine, another daughter of Argyle, and therefore sister of the lady whom the islanders believed to be his mother. A strong confederacy was formed in his favour, and about Christmas 1503, an irruption of the islanders and western clans under Donald Dubh was made into Badenoch, which was plundered and wasted with fire and sword. To put down this formidable rebellion, the array of the whole kingdom, north of Forth and Clyde, was called out; and the earls of Argyle, Huntly, Crawford, and Marischal, and the Lord Lovat, with other powerful barons, were charged to lead this force against the islanders. But two years elapsed before the insurrection was finally quelled. In 1505, the Isles were again invaded from the south by the king in person, and from the north by Huntly, who took several prisoners, but none of them of any rank. In these various expeditions the fleet under the celebrated Sir Andrew Wood and Robert Barton was employed against the islanders, and at length the insurgents were dispersed. Carniburg, a strong fort on a small isolated rock, near the west coast of Mull, in which they had taken refuge, was reduced; the Macleans and the Macleods submitted to the king, and Donald Dubh, again made a prisoner, was committed to the castle of Edinburgh, where he remained for nearly forty years. After this the great power formerly enjoyed by the lords of the Isles was transferred to the earls of Argyle and Huntly; the former having the chief rule in the south isles and adjacent coasts, while the influence of the latter prevailed in the north isles and Highlands.

      The children of Sir Alexander of Lochalsh, the nephew of John the fourth and last lord of the Isles, had fallen into the hands of the king, and as they were all young, they appear to have been brought up in the royal household. Donald, the eldest son, called by the Highlanders, Donald Galda, or the foreigner, from his early residence in the Lowlands, was allowed to inherit his father’s estates, and was frequently permitted to visit the Isles. He was with James IV. At the battle of Flodden, and appears to have been knighted under the royal banner on that disastrous field. Two months after, in November 1513, he raised another insurrection in the Isles, and being joined by the Macleods and Macleans, was proclaimed lord of the Isles. The number of his adherents daily increased. But in the course of 1515, the earl of Argyle prevailed upon the insurgents to submit to the regent. At this time Sir Donald appeared frequently before the council, relying on a safe-conduct, and his reconciliation to the regent (John, duke of Albany) was apparently so cordial that on 24th September 1516, a summons was despatched to “Monsieur de Ylis,” to join the royal army, then about to proceed to the borders. Ere long, however, he was again in open rebellion. Early in 1517, he razed the castle of Mingarry to the ground, and ravaged the whole district of Ardnamurchan with fire and sword. His chief leaders now deserted him, and some of them determined on delivering him up to the regent. He, however, effected his escape, but his two brothers were made prisoners by Maclean of Dowart and Macleod of Dunvegan, who hastened to make their submission to the government. Soon after the earl of Argyle, with the Macleans of Dowart and Lochbuy, and Macleod of Harris, presented to the council certain petitions and offers relating to the suppression of the rebellion. In the following year, Sir Donald was enabled to revenge the murder of his father on the MacIeans of Ardnamurchan, having defeated and put to death their chief and two of his sons, with a great number of his men. He was about to be forfeited for high treason, when his death, which took place a few weeks after his success against the MacIeans, brought the rebellion, with had lasted for upwards of five years, to a sudden close. He was the last male of his family, and died without issue.

      In 1539, Donald Gorme of Sleat claimed the lordship of the Isles, as lawful heir male of John earl of Ross. With a considerable force he passed over into Ross-shire, where, after ravaging the district of Kinlochew, he proceeded to Kintail, with the intention of surprising the castle of Elandonan, at that time almost without a garrison. Exposing himself rashly under the walls, he received a wound in the foot from an arrow, which proved fatal.

      In 1543, under the regency of the earl of Arran, Donald Dubh, the grandson of John, last lord of the Isles, again appeared upon the scene. Escaping from his long imprisonment, he was received with enthusiasm by the insular chiefs, and with their assistance, he prepared to expel the earls of Argyle and Huntly from their acquisitions in the Isles. At the head of 1,800 men he invaded Argyle’s territories, slew many of his vassals, and carried off a great quantity of cattle, with other plunder. At first he was supported by the earl of Lennox, then attached to the English interest, and thus remained for a time in the undisputed possession of the Isles. Through the influence of Lennox, the islanders agreed to transfer their alliance from the Scottish to the English crown, and in June 1545, a proclamation was issued by the regent Arran and his privy council against “Donald, alleging himself of the Isles, and other Highland men, his parttakers.” On the 28th July of that year, a commission was granted by Donald, “lord of the Isles, and earl of Ross,” with the advice and consent of his barons and council of the Isles, of whom seventeen are named, to two commissioners, for treating, under the directions of the earl of Lennox, with the English king. On the 5th of August, the lord and barons of the Isles were at Knockfergus in Ireland, with a force of 4,000 men and 180 galleys, when they took the oath of allegiance to the king of England, at the command of Lennox; while 4,000 men in arms were left to guard and defend the Isles in his absence. Donald’s plenipotentiaries then proceeded to the English court with letters from him both to King Henry and his privy council; by one of which it appears that the lord of the Isles had already received from the English monarch the sum of one thousand crowns, and the promise of an annual pension of two thousand. Soon after the lord of the Isles returned with his forces to Scotland, but appears to have returned to Ireland again with Lennox. There he was attacked with fever, and died at Drogheda, on his way to Dublin. With him terminated the direct line of the lords of the Isles

      The lordship of the Isles, annexed on 3d Dec. 1540 inalienably to the crown, forms one of the titles of the prince of Wales.

[Got in a wee email from Ranald MacDonald...

Enjoyed this week's Newsletter and in particular the reference to Isles and Somerled my direct male ancestor.

Tales and stories of Somerled are not complimentary. He cleansed the Western Seaboard of Scotland from the invading Viking hordes. He was selected by the Men of the Isles as their leader and rose to the occasion. His territory was not granted to him by a mainland King. He was indeed Rex Insularum and held his land by the ancient Celtic tradition of 'Swordland'. If you wanted to contest his right, you had to fight and prove it. No Feudal sheepskin title would hold any sway with a man of his stature. No Gael worth his salt would submit to a mainland king of doubtful Gael ancestry.

He was not defeated at Refrew in c1164. He was murdered in his tent on the battlefield before the battle commenced. It was a political plot, known and established. His body was taken to Saddell Monastery which he built, and not Iona where some historians have indicated his place of burial.

And on the point of the name of Constantine High King of Ireland his direct male ancestor. His correct title is Conn cead cathach.


Return to The Scottish Nation Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus