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The Scottish Nation

MACDONALD, the name of a numerous and wide-spread clan, divided into several tribes, which derived its generic name from Donald, elder son of Reginald, second son of the celebrated Somerled of Argyle, king of the Isles (see THE ISLES, lord of).

      The distinctive badge of this clan was the bell-heath. They formed the principal branch of the Siol-Cuinn, or race of Conn, their great founder, Somerled, being supposed by the Sennachies or Celtic Genealogists, to have been descended from an early Irish king, called Conn of the Hundred battles. Although a Norwegian extraction has been claimed for them, their own traditions invariably represent the MacDonalds as of Pictish descent, and as forming part of the great tribe of the Gall-gael, or Gaelic pirates, who in ancient times inhabited the coasts of Argyle, Arran, and Man. The latter is Mr. Skene’s opinion (History of the Highlands, vol. ii. p. 38.) The antiquity of the clan is undoubted, and one of their own name traces it back to the sixth century. Sir James MacDonald of Kintyre, in a letter addressed, in 1615, to the bishop of the Isles, declares that his race “has been tenne hundred years kyndlie Scottismen under the kings of Scotland.”

      The representative and undoubted heir-male of John, eleventh earl of Ross, and last lord of the Isles, is Lord Macdonald, of the family of Sleat in Skye, descended from Hugh, the brother of Earl John and the third son of Alexander, tenth earl of Ross. A son, John, whom Hugh of Sleat had by his first wife, Fynvola, daughter of Alexander MacIan of Ardnamurchan, died without issue, but by a second wife, a lady of the clan Gunn, he had another son, Donald, called Gallach, from being fostered by his mother’s relations in Caithness. He had several other sons, and his descendants were so numerous in the 16th century that they were known as the clan Huistein, or children of Hugh. They were also called the Clandonald north, from their residence in Skye and North Uist, to distinguish them from the clan Ian Vohr of Isla and Kintyre, who were called the Clandonald south. Since the extinction of the direct line of the family of the Isles, in the middle of the 16th century, Macdonald of Sleat, now Lord Macdonald, has always been styled in Gaelic, MacDhonuill nan Eilean, or Macdonald of the Isles. (Gregory’s Highlands and Isles of Scotland, page 61.)

      Donald Gallach’s great-grandson, Donald Macdonald Gormeson of Sleat, son of that Donald Gorme, the claimant of the lordship of the Isles, who was slain in 1539 at Elandonan in Kintail, was a minor at the time of his father’s death, and his title to the family estates was disputed by the Macleods of Harris. He ranged himself on the side of Mary queen of Scots when the disputes about her marriage began in 1565. With MacLeod of Lewis he was engaged in a feud with the Mackenzies, and in August 1569 he and Mackenzie of Kintail were obliged, in presence of the regent Moray and the privy council at Perth, to settle, under the regent’s mediation, the quarrels and disputes between them. He died in 1585.

      His eldest son, Donald Gorme Mor, fifth in descent from Hugh of Sleat, soon after succeeding his father, found himself involved in a deadly feud with the Macleans of Dowart, which raged to such an extent as to lead to the interference of government, and to the passing in 1587 of an act of parliament, commonly called “The general Bond” or Band, for maintaining good order both on the borders and in the Highlands and Isles. By this act, it was made imperative on all landlords, baillies, and chiefs of clans, to find sureties for the peaceable behaviour of those under them. The contentions, however, between the Macdonalds and the Macleans continued, and in 1589, with the view of putting an end to them, the king and council adopted the following plan. After remissions under the privy seal had been granted to Donald Gorme of Sleat, his kinsman, Macdonald of Isla, the principal in the feud, and Maclean of Dowart, for all crimes committed by them, they were induced to proceed to Edinburgh, under pretence of consulting with the king and council for the good rule of the country, but immediately on their arrival, they were seized and imprisoned in the castle. In the summer of 1591, they were set at liberty, on paying each a fine to the king, that imposed on Sleat being £4,000, under the name of arrears of deu duties and crown rents in the Isles, and finding security for their future obedience and the performance of certain prescribed conditions. They were also taken bound to return to their confinement in the castle of Edinburgh, whenever they should be summoned, on twenty days’ warning. In consequence of their not fulfilling the conditions imposed upon them, and their continuing in opposition to the government, their pardons were recalled, and the three island chiefs were cited before the privy council on the 14th July 1593, when failing to appear, summonses of treason were executed against them and certain of their associates.

      In 1595, Donald Gorme and Macleod of Harris, with each 500 of their followers, went to Ulster, to the assistance of Red Hugh O’Donnell, then in rebellion against Queen Elizabeth, but the former almost immediately returned to the Isles, leaving his brother in command of his clansmen. In the following year he procured a lease from the crown of the district of Trouterness in Skye, but when, two years afterwards, that district was granted by the king, with the island of Lewis, belonging to Macleod of Harris, to a company of lowland adventurers, chiefly Fifeshire gentlemen, for the purpose of colonization, he joined with Macleod and Mackenzie of Kintail in preventing their settlement either in the Lewis or in Skye, and the project in consequence ultimately failed.

      In 1601, the chief of Sleat again brought upon himself and his clan the interference of government by a feud with Macleod of Dunvegan, which led to much bloodshed and great misery and distress among their followers and their families. He had married a sister of Macleod, but, from jealousy on some other cause, he put her away, and refused at her brother’s request to take her back. Having procured a divorce, he soon after married a sister of Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail. Macleod immediately assembled his clan, and carried fire and sword through Macdonald’s district of Trouterness. The latter, in revenge, invaded Harris, and laid waste that island, killing many of the inhabitants, and carrying off their cattle. The Macleods, in their turn, invaded Macdonald’s island of North Uist, when Donald Glas Macleod, a kinsman of the chief, and forth men, in endeavouring to carry off some cattle, were encountered and totally defeated by a near relative of Donald Gorme, called Donald MacIan Vic James, who had only twelve men with him, Donald Glass and many of the Macleods being killed. “These spoliations and incursions were carried on with so much inveteracy, that both clans were brought to the brink of ruin; and many of the natives of the districts thus devastated were forced to sustain themselves by killing and eating their horses, dogs, and cats.” (Gregory’s Highlands and Isles of Scotland, page 296.) The Macdonalds having invaded Macleod’s lands in Skye, a battle took place on the mountain Benquillin between them and the Macleods, when the latter, under Alexander, the brother of their chief, were defeated with great loss, and their leader with thirty of their clan taken captive. On being informed of this, the privy council issued orders for the contending chiefs to disband their forces and to quit the island, Macleod being enjoined to give himself up to the earl of Argyle, and Macdonald to surrender himself to the marquis of Huntly. A reconciliation was at length effected between them by the mediation of Macdonald of Isla, Maclean of Coll, and other friends; when the prisoners taken at Benquillin were released.

      In 1608, we find Donald Gorme of Sleat one of the Island chiefs who attended the court of Lord Ochiltree, the king’s lieutenant, at Aros in Mull, when he was sent there for the settlement of order in the Isles, and who afterwards accepted his invitation to dinner on board the king’s ship, called the Moon. When dinner was ended, Ochiltree told the astonished chiefs that they were his prisoners by the king’s order; and weighing anchor he sailed direct to Ayr, whence he proceeded with his prisoners to Edinburgh and presented them before the privy council, by whose order they were placed in the several castles of Dumbarton, Blackness, and Stirling. Petitions were immediately presented by the imprisoned chiefs to the council submitting themselves to the king’s pleasure, and making many offers in order to procure their liberation. A number of commissioners were appointed to receive their proposals, and to deliberate upon all matters connected with the civilization of the Isles, and the increase of his majesty’s rents. In the following year the bishop of the Isles was deputed as sole commissioner to visit and survey the isles, and all the chiefs in prison were set at liberty, on finding security to a large amount, not only for their return to Edinburgh by a certain fixed day, but for their active concurrence, in the meantime, with the bishop in making the proposed survey. Donald Gorme of Sleat was one of the twelve chiefs and gentlemen of the Isles, who met the bishop at Iona, in July 1609, and submitted themselves to him, as the king’s representative. At a court then held by the bishop, the nine celebrated statutes called the “Statutes of Icolmkill,” for the improvement and order of the Isles, were enacted, with the consent of the assembled chiefs, and their bonds and oaths given for the obedience thereto of their clansmen. On the 28th June 1610 the chief of Sleat and five others of the principal Islanders went to Edinburgh, to hear the king’s pleasure declared to them, when they were compelled to give sureties to a large amount for their reappearance before the council in May 1711. They were also taken bound to concur with and assist the king’s lieutenants, justices and commissioners, in all matters connected with the Isles, to live together in peace and amity, and to submit all their disputes in future to the decision of the law. In 1613 we find Donald Gorme of Sleat, Macleod of Harris, Maclean of Dowart, and Donald MacAllan, captain of the Clanranald, mentioned as having settled with the exchequer, and as continuing in their obedience to the laws. In the following year, while on his way home from Edinburgh, after transacting business with the privy council, he was sent by the bishop of the Isles, with Sir Aulay MacAulay of Ardincaple, to Angus Oig, brother of Sir James Macdonald of Isla, who had seized the castle of Dunyveg, to endeavour to prevail upon him to surrender it, but his negotiation was unsuccessful. On the escape of Sir James MacDonald from Edinburgh castle in 1615, he proceeded to Sleat, where he had a lengthened conference with Donald Gorme. Although the latter did not himself join him, a number of his clan did, when he sailed for Isla, to raise the standard of insurrection against the government.

      In 1616, after the suppression of the rebellion of the Clanranald in the South Isles, certain very stringent conditions were imposed by the privy council on the different Island chiefs. Among these were, that they were to take home farms into their own hands, which they were to cultivate, “to the effect that they might be thereby exercised and eschew idleness,” and that they were not to use in their houses more than a certain quantity of wine respectively. Donald Gorme of Sleat, having been prevented by sickness from attending the council with the other chiefs, ratified all their proceedings, and found the required sureties, by a bond dated in the month of August. He named Duntullim, a castle of his family in Trouterness, as his residence, when six household gentlemen, and an annual consumption of four tun of wine, were allowed to him; and he was once a-year to exhibit to the council three of his principal kinsmen. He died the same year, without issue, and was succeeded by his nephew, Donald Gorme Macdonald of Sleat.

      In July of the following year, the latter, who had been knighted, as he is styled Sir Donald, appeared, with other chiefs, before the council, and continued annually to do so, in accordance with the conditions already referred to. In 1622, on his and their appearance to make their obedience to the privy council as usual, several acts of importance, relating to the Isles, were passed, by one of which the chief of Sleat and three other chiefs were bound not to molest those engaged in the trade of fishing in the Isles, under heavy penalties. On 14th July 1625, after having concluded, in an amicable manner, all his disputes with the Macleods of Harris, and another controversy in which he was engaged with the captain of the Clanranald, he was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I., with a special clause of precedency placing him second of that order in Scotland. He adhered to the cause of that monarch, but died in 1643. He had married Janet, commonly called “fair Janet,” second daughter of Kenneth, first Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, by whom he had several children.

      His eldest son, Sir James Macdonald, second baronet of Sleat, joined the marquis of Montrose in 1645, and when Charles II. marched into England in 1651, he sent a number of his clan to his assistance. He died 8th December 1678.

      Sir James’ eldest son, Sir Donald Macdonald, third baronet of Sleat, died in 1695. His son, also named Sir Donald, fourth baronet, was one of those persons summoned by the lord advocate, on the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, to appear at Edinburgh, under pain of a year’s imprisonment and other penalties, to give bail for their allegiance to the government. Joining in the insurrection, his two brothers commanded the battalion of his clan, on the Pretender’s side, at Sheriffmuir, and, being sent out with the earl Marischal’s horse to drive away a reconnoitring party, under the duke of Argyle, from the heights, may be said to have commenced the battle. Sir Donald himself had joined the earl of Seaforth at his camp at Alness with 700 Macdonalds. After the suppression of the rebellion Sir Donald proceeded to the isle of Skye with about 1,000 men, but although he made no resistance, having no assurance of protection from the government in case of a surrender, he retired into one of the Uists, where he remained till he obtained a ship which carried him to France. He was forfeited for his share in the insurrection, but the forfeiture was soon removed. He died in 1718, leaving one son and four daughters.

      The son, Sir Donald Macdonald, fifth baronet, died, unmarried, in 1720, when the title reverted to his uncle, Sir James Macdonald of Oronsay, sixth baronet. The latter had one son and three daughters. Margaret, the second daughter, became the wife of Sir Robert Douglas of Glenbervie, baronet, author of the Peerage and Baronage of Scotland. Sir James died in 1723.

      His son, Sir Alexander Macdonald, seventh baronet, was one of the first persons asked by Prince Charles to join him, on his arrival off the western islands, in July 1745, but refused, as he had brought no foreign force with him. Young Clanranald, accompanied by Allan Macdonald, a younger brother of Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart, was despatched with letters from the prince to Sir Alexander and the laird of Macleod, to solicit their aid. They could have brought between them 2,000 men, to his assistance, and had promised to join him, if supported by a foreign force, but when they found he had come without troops they considered the enterprise desperate, and would have nothing to do with it. On the 11th August Sir Alexander wrote to the lord-president, Forbes of Culloden, informing him of the names of the chief who had joined Charles, and requesting directions how to act in the event of any of them being compelled to take refuge in the islands. In this letter, speaking for Macleod and himself, he says: “You may believe, my lord, our spirits are in a great deal of agitation, and that we are much at a loss how to behave in so extraordinary an occurrence. That we will have no connexion with these madmen is certain, but are bewildered in every other respect till we hear from you. Whenever these rash men meet with a check, ‘tis more than probable they’ll endeavour to retire to their islands; how we ought to behave in that event we expect to know from your lordship. Their force even in that case must be very inconsiderable to be repelled with batons; and we have no other arms in any quantity.” (Culloden Papers, p. 207.) After the battle of Preston, the prince sent Mr. Alexander Macleod, advocate, to the isle of Skye, to endeavour to prevail upon Sir Alexander Macdonald and the laird of Macleod to join the insurgents, but instead of doing so, these and other well-affected chiefs enrolled each an independent company for the service of government, out of their respective clans. The Macdonalds of Skye served under Lord Loudon in Ross-shire.

      After the battle of Culloden, when Prince Charles, in his wanderings, took refuge in Skye, with Flora Macdonald, they landed near Moydhstat, the seat of Sir Alexander Macdonald, near the northern extremity of that island. Sir Alexander was at that time with the duke of Cumberland at Fort Augustus, and as his wife, Lady Margaret Montgomerie, a daughter of the ninth earl of Eglinton, was known to be a warm friend of the prince, Miss Macdonald proceeded to announce to her his arrival. She had previously received a letter from Charles, informing her that he intended to seek refuge on her husband’s property, and on being told by the bearer of it to burn it, she rose up, and, kissing the letter, exclaimed, “NO! I will not burn it. I will preserve it for the sake of him who wrote it to me. Although King Georg’s forces should come to the house, I hope I shall find a way to secure the letter.” Through Lady Margaret the prince was consigned to the care of Mr. Macdonald of Kingsburgh, Sir Alexander’s factor, at whose house he spent the night, and afterwards departed to the island of Rasay. Charles subsequently declared, when refused assistance by Macdonald of Morar, who had been one of his adherents, that some of those who had joined him at first, had turned their backs on him in his greatest need, while others who had refused to join him became, in his adversity, his best friends; for it was remarkable, he said, that those of Sir Alexander Macdonald’s following had been most faithful to him in his distress, and had contributed greatly to his preservation. Sir Alexander died in November 1746, leaving three sons.

      His eldest son, Sir James, eighth baronet, styled “The Scottish Marcellus,” was born in 1741. From his infancy he exhibited the most extraordinary abilities; and, after receiving the rudiments of his education at home, at his own earnest solicitation he was sent to Eton, where, so great was his proficiency, and so precocious his genius, that Dr. Barnard, in a very short time, actually placed him at the head of his class. On leaving Eton he set out on his travels, and was everywhere received by the learned with the distinction due to his unrivalled talents. At Rome, in particular, the most marked attention was paid to him by several of the cardinals. He died in that city on 26th July 1766, when only 25 years old. In extent of learning, and in genius, he resembled “the Admirable Crichton.” Like him, too, he was prematurely cut off in the full promise of his days, leaving scarcely any authentic memorials of his wonderful acquirements. On his death the title devolved on his next brother, Alexander. The third brother, Archibald, was educated at Westminster school and Christ church, Oxford, and studied for the English bar. After being solicitor-general and attorney-general, he was appointed lord-chief-baron of the court of exchequer. He was created a baronet of Great Britain in 1813. He died in 1826, aged 60, and was succeeded by his son, styled of East Sheen, Surrey.

      Sir Alexander, 9th baronet, was created a peer of Ireland, July 17, 1776, as Baron Macdonald of Sleat, county Antrim. He married eldest daughter of Godfrey Bosvile, Esq. of Gunthwaite, Yorkshire; issue, 6 sons and 3 daughters. Diana, the eldest daughter, married in 1788 Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, baronet. His lordship died Sept. 12, 1795.

      His eldest son, Alexander Wentworth, 2d Lord Macdonald, died, unmarried, June 19, 1824, when his brother, Godfrey, became 3d Lord Macdonald. He assumed the additional name of Bosvile. He married Louisa Maria, daughter of Farley Edsir, Esq.; issue, 3 sons and 7 daughters. A major-general in the army. He died Oct. 13, 1832.

      The eldest son, Godfrey William Wentworth, 4th Lord Macdonald, born in 1809, married in 1845, daughter of G. T. Wyndham, Esq. of Cromer Hall, Norfolk, issue, Somerled James Brudenell, burn in 1849, 2 other sons and 5 daughters.


      The Macdonalds of Isla and Kintyre, called the clan Ian Vor, whose chiefs were usually styled lords of Dunyveg, from their castle in Isla, and the Glens, were descended from John Mor, second son of ‘The good John of Isla,” and of Lady Margaret Stewart, daughter of King Robert II. From his brother Donald, lord of the Isles, he received large grants of land in Isla and Kintyre, and by his marriage with Marjory Bisset, heiress of the district of the Glens in Antrim, he acquired possessions in Ulster. He was murdered before 1427 by an individual named James Campbell, who is said to have received a commission from King James I., to apprehend him, but that he exceeded his powers by putting him to death. His eldest son, Donald, surnamed Balloch, is the chief who, when the Isles broke out into rebellion, on the imprisonment of his cousin Alexander, lord of the Isles and earl of Ross, took command of the Islanders, and at their head burst into Lochaber in 1431. Having encountered the king’s army under the earls of Mar and Caithness at Inverlochy, he gained a complete victory, Caithness being killed, while Mar saved with difficulty the remains of the discomfited force. Donald Balloch, after ravaging the adjacent districts, withdrew first to the Isles, and afterwards to Ireland. It is stated erroneously that he was soon after betrayed into the hands of his enemies, and his head cut off and presented to James, and some historians have been led into the error of calling him, Donald, lord of the Isles, but that title he never claimed. He escaped the vengeance of King James, and subsequently took a prominent part in the rebellions of John earl of Ross and lord of the Isles. He was knighted before his death, which took place in 1476. From Ranald Bane, a younger brother of Donald Balloch, sprang the Clanranaldbane of Largie in Kintyre.

      Donald Balloch’s grandson, John, surnamed Cathanach, or warlike, was at the head of the clan Ian Vor, when the lordship of the Isles was finally forfeited by James IV. in 1493. In that year he was among the chiefs, formerly vassals of the lord of the Isles, who made their submission to the king when he proceeded in person to the west Highlands. On this occasion he and the other chiefs were knighted. In the following year, the king having placed a garrison in the castle of Dunaverty in South Kintyre, Sir John of Isla collected his followers, and storming the castle, hung the governor from the wall, in sight of the king and his fleet. The treasurer’s accounts show that in August 1494 he was summoned to answer for treason in Kintyre, and ere long he and four of his sons were apprehended in Isla my MacIan of Ardnamurchan and conveyed to Edinburgh. Being found guilty of high treason, they were executed on the Burrowmuir of Edinburgh, their bodies being interred in the church of St. Anthony. Two surviving sons fled to Ireland. Alexander, the elder of them, is traditionally said in 1497 to have assisted MacIan, with whom he had effected a reconciliation, and had married his daughter, in putting to death Sir Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh in the island of Oransay, whither that chief had retreated.

      In 1517, when Sir Donald of Lochalsh, claiming to be lord of the Isles, rebelled against the government, his principal supporters, after the desertion of his chief leaders, were the clan Ian Vor, or Clandonald of Isla, and their followers; and the earl of Argyle, the king’s lieutenant in the Isles, received particular instructions with regard to them, that if they should submit, their leaders, the surviving sons of the late Sir John Cathanach of Isla, were to receive crown lands in the Isles, to the annual value of 100 merks, to enable them to live without plundering the king’s lieges, and to keep good rule in time to come – they being now without heritage, owing to their father’s forfeiture; and in the event of their refusal, to pursue them with the utmost severity. (Gregory’s Highlands and Isles, page 121.)

      Alexander of Isla was with Sir Donald of Lochalsh when, in 1518, he proceeded against the father-in-law of the former, Macian of Ardnamurchan, who was defeated and slain, with two of his sons, at a place called Craiganairgid, or the Silver Craig in Morvern. The death of Sir Donald soon after brought the rebellion to a close. In 1529 Alexander of Isla and his followers were again in insurrection, and being joined by the Macleans, they made descents upon Roseneath, Craignish, and other lands of the Campbells, which they ravaged with fire and sword. The latter retaliated in their turn, and the earl of Argyle was commissioned to proceed against the rebels. A herald being sent to Alexander of Isla, commanding him to lay down his arms, that chieftain refused. Owing, however, to the formidable preparations of government, nine of the principal islanders in 1539 went in their submission. Alexander of Isla being considered the prime mover of the rebellion, the king resolved in 1531 to proceed against him in person, on which, hastening to Stirling, under a safeguard and protection, he also submitted, and received a new grant, during the king’s pleasure, of certain lands in the South Isles and Kintyre, and a remission to himself and his followers for all crimes committed by them during the late rebellion.

      Soon after, the earl of Argyle presented a complaint to the council, alleging that Alexander of Isla had been guilty of various crimes against him and his followers, hoping, by this means, to bring him into discredit at court. that chief being summoned to answer the charges, readily appeared, but Argyle not coming forward to prove his allegations, he gave into the council, in his turn, a written statement in reference to the conduct of his accuser, on which the earl was summoned to appear before the king to give an account of his receipt of the duties and rental of the Isles. The result of the inquiry into his proceedings proving unsatisfactory, the king committed him to prison, and although soon liberated, he was deprived of all his offices in the Isles, some of which were bestowed on Alexander of Isla.

      In 1532 the latter was sent to Ireland at the head of about 8,000 men, for the purpose of creating a diversion in favour of the Scots of Ulster, then engaged in a war with England. His eldest son, James Macdonald, was, at the same time, for his education placed by King James, under the special charge of William Henderson, dean of Holyrood. In 1540, when James, after the suppression of the rebellion of Donald Gorme of Sleat, visited the Isles, and the districts of Kintyre and Knapdale, he took with him, on his departure, with other chiefs, James Macdonald of Isla, the son and successor of Alexander above mentioned. Some of the captive chiefs, after being sent to Edinburgh, were liberated, upon giving hostages for their obedience, while the more turbulent of them were detained in confinement until sometime after the king’s death. James Macdonald’s castles of Dunyveg in Isla and Dunaverty in Kintyre were, at this time, made royal garrisons.

      In 1543, on the second escape of Donald Dubh, grandson of John, last lord of the Isles, and the regent Arran’s opposing the views of the English faction, James Macdonald of Isla was the only insular chief who supported the regent. In the following year his lands of Kintyre were ravaged by the earl of Lennox, the head of the English party. In April 1545, the chief of Isla received a reward from Arran for his services against the English, yet we find his brother, Angus Macdonald, one of the lords and barons of the Isles who, in the month of August following, went to Knockfergus in Ireland, to take the oath of allegiance to the king of England.

      After the death of Donald Dubh, the same year, of a fever at Drogheda, the islanders chose for their leader, James Macdonald of Isla, who entered into negotiations with the earl of Lennox, then in Ireland, and also sent letters and an accredited envoy to the Irish privy council, to submit certain proposals, on his part, to the king of England. In these he offered to join Lennox, or any other person properly authorized, with all his force, desiring in return from the English king a bond for a yearly pension of two thousand crowns promised to his predecessor, Donald Dubh. To these proposals he received no reply. His disputes with the fourth earl of Argyle being soon after settled by the mediation of the regent Arran, he married Lady Agnes Campbell, the earl’s sister, and though the most powerful of the Island chiefs, he relinquished his pretensions to the lordship of the Isles, being the last that assumed that title.

      Archibald, fifth earl of Argyle, being one of the most able among the lords of the Congregation, the queen regent, to weaken his influence, endeavoured to involve the chief of Isla in a quarrel with him, and with that object she bestowed upon Macdonald the wardship of Mary Macleod, the wealthy heiress of Dunvegan, which Argyle had expected to obtain. Macdonald, in consequence, did not hesitate to take part against Argyle, but the earl speedily counteracted the influence of the regent, and in October 1559, James Macdonald was actually on his way to join the lords of the Congregation with 700 foot soldiers. (Sir R. Sadler’s State Papers, vol. i. pp. 431, 517, quoted in Gregory’s Highlands and Isles of Scotland, p. 188.)

      A dispute between the Macleans and the clan Ian Vor, relative to the right of occupancy of certain crown lands in Isla, led to a long and bloody feud between these tribes, in which both suffered severely. In 1562 the matter was brought before the privy council, when it was decided that James Macdonald of Isla was really the crown tenant, and as Maclean refused to become his vassal, in 1565 the rival chiefs were compelled to find sureties, each to the amount of £10,000, that they would abstain from mutual hostilities. In the end of that year, the chief of Isla went to Ireland, to assist his brothers, Sorley Buy Macdonald and Alexander Oig Macdonald, in the defence of the family possessions in Ulster; but being surprised, soon after landing, by a party of the O’Neills, under the celebrated Shane O’Neill, earl of Tyrone, in the conflict which ensued the Macdonalds were defeated with great slaughter; James Macdonald the chief being mortally wounded, and his brother Angus slain, while Sorley Buy was taken prisoner, with many of his followers. In a short time after, however, O’Neill having rebelled against the English government, set Sorley Buy and his other prisoners at liberty, and joined Alexander Oig Macdonald, who, with 600 of his clan, lay at Claneboy. A great entertainment was prepared for him, but in the midst of it, a dispute arose, and some of the Macdonalds, eager to revenge the death of their late chief, rushing into the tent, despatched both O’Neill and his secretary, with their dirks. O’Neill’s successor, Turlogh Luineach O’Neill, afterwards earl of Tyrone, made war upon the Macdonalds in Ulster, and in the following year killed Alexander Oig Macdonald. He subsequently married the widow of James Macdonald, and the children of the latter being young at their father’s death, the Irish estates of the family were seized by their uncle, Sorley Buy, who, after various conflicts both against the native Irish and the English forces, became a faithful subject of Queen Elizabeth, and was the ancestor of the earls of Antrim in the peerage of Ireland.

      James’ eldest son, Angus Macdonald, succeeded to Isla and Kintyre, and in his time the feud with the Macleans was renewed. In 1579, upon information of mutual hostilities committed by their followers, the king and council commanded Lauchlan Maclean of Dowart and Angus Macdonald of Dunyveg or Isla, to subscribe assurances of indemnity to each other, under the pain of treason, and the quarrel was, for the time, patched u by the marriage of Macdonald with Maclean’s sister. In 1585, however, the feud came to a height, and after involving nearly the whole of the island clans on one side or the other, and causing its disastrous consequences to be felt throughout the whole extent of the Hebrides, by the mutual ravages of the contending parties, government interfered, and the measures which were at last adopted for reducing to obedience the turbulent chiefs, caused so much bloodshed and distress in the Isles. For an account of the circumstances which render this feud so remarkable, see the article MACLEAN. In June 1594, as Macdonald of Dunyveg and Maclean of Dowart continued contumacious, they were forfeited by parliament.

      James Macdonald, son of Angus Macdonald of Dunyveg, had remained in Edinburgh for four years as a hostage for his father, and early in 1596 he received a license to visit him, in the hope that he might be prevailed upon to submit to the laws, that the peace of the Isles might be secured. A vast expedition, under Sir William Stewart of Houston, knight, commendator of Pittenweem, appointed for the occasion lieutenant and justiciary of the Isles, was, in the meantime, in preparation to proceed against the island chiefs. They, in consequence, all made their submission, except Macdonald of Dunyveg. A lease of the Rinns of Isla, the chief matter in dispute between him and Maclean, was at this time granted by the king to the latter, and Macdonald, finding that the expedition was now chiefly directed against himself, and deprived of all support, yielded. He sent his son, who was soon afterwards knighted, back to court to make known to the privy council, in his father’s name and his own, that they would fulfil whatever conditions should be prescribed to them by his majesty. At this time Angus made over to his son all his estates, reserving only a proper maintenance for himself and his wife during their lives. When Sir William Stewart arrived at Kintyre, and held a court there, the chief of Isla and his followers hastened to make their personal submission to the king’s representative, and early in the following year he went to Edinburgh, when he undertook to find security for the arrears of his crown rents; to remove his clan and dependers from Kintyre and the Runns of Isla; and to deliver his castle of Dunyveg to any person sent by the king to receive it. On promising to comply with these conditions he was liberated and allowed to return to the Isles. His son, Sir James Macdonald of Knockrinsay, remained at court, as a sort of hostage for his father. Soon after the latter’s departure, his cousin, James Macdonald of Dunluce in Ireland, son of Sorley Buy Macdonald, preferred a claim to the lands of Kintyre and Isla, and all the estates held by Angus Macdonald, on the ground of the illegitimacy of the latter. Having arrived at Edinburgh, he was received with great distinction at court, and knighted, but his claim was dismissed by the privy council.

      Angus Macdonald having failed to fulfil the conditions entered into by him in Edinburgh the previous year, his son, Sir James, was in 1598 sent to him from court, to induce him to comply with them. His resignation of his estates in favour of his son, was not recognised by the privy council, as they had already been forfeited to the crown; but Sir James, on his arrival took possession of them, and even attempted to burn his father and mother in their house of Askomull in Kintyre, as related under the head of MACALESTER. Angus Macdonald, after having been taken prisoner, severely scorched, was carried to Smerbie in Kintyre, and confined there in irons for several months. Sir James, now in command of his clan, conducted himself with such violence that in June 1598, a proclamation for another royal expedition to Kintyre was issued. He, however, contrived to procure from the king a letter approving of his proceedings in Kintyre, and particularly of his apprehension of his father, and the expedition, after being delayed for some time, was finally abandoned. In a conflict between the Macdonalds, under Sir James, and the Macleans, at the head of Lochgruinard, the same year, the chief of the latter was slain (See MACLEAN,) AND Sir James was so severely wounded that for a time his recovery was doubtful.

      In August of the following year, with the view of being reconciled to government, Sir James appeared in presence of the king’s comptroller at Falkland, and made certain proposals for establishing the royal authority in Kintyre and Isla, offering to relinquish the former, on the latter, with the exception of the castle of Dunyveg, which he agreed to give up to a royal garrison, and sixty merk lands in its vicinity for their maintenance, being granted to him in heritage, for the annual feu duty of  £600 in all. He also agreed to allow his father, whom he had set at liberty, about £670 of yearly pension, and to send his brother to Edinburgh as a hostage for the performance of his offers. These were approved of by the privy council, but the influence of Argyle, who took the part of Angus Macdonald, Sir James’ father, and the Campbells, having been used against their being carried into effect, the arrangement came to nothing, and Sir James and his clan were driven into irremediable opposition to the government, which ended in their ruin.

      In 1603, Angus Macdonald, Sir James’ father, fearful of another plot against his life, caused his son to be apprehended, and, after detaining him some time as a prisoner, delivered him to Campbell of Auchinbreck, who placed him in the hands of the earl of Argyle. that nobleman early in 1604 brought him, by order, before the privy council at Perth, when he was committed prisoner to the royal castle of blackness. Attempting to escape from thence, he was removed to Edinburgh castle. In the following year, his father, Angus Macdonald, met the comptroller of Scotland, Sir David Murray, Lord Scone, at Glasgow, and gave him certain offers to be forwarded to the king. In the subsequent September he attended a court held by the comptroller at Kintyre, when he paid him all the arrears of rent due by him both for his lands of Kintyre and Isla; and, for his future obedience, Lord Scone took with him, on his departure, one of his natural sons, Archibald Macdonald of Gigha, who was confined in the castle of Dumbarton. But vain were all his endeavours to obtain a favourable consideration of his offers. The influence of Argyle was exerted against him, and he could neither obtain from the privy council any answers to his repeated applications, nor was he permitted to go to court to lay his case before the king. His son, Sir James, finding that it was the object of Argyle to obtain for himself the king’s lands in Kintyre, made an attempt, in 1606, to escape from the castle of Edinburgh, but being unsuccessful, was put in irons. Macdonald of Gigha, however, was more fortunate in escaping from Dumbarton castle. In the following year a charter was granted to Argyle of the lands in North and South Kintyre and in the isle of Jura, which had been forfeited by Angus Macdonald, and thus, says the historian of the Highlands, did the legal right to the lands of Kintyre pass from a tribe which had held them for many hundred years. (Gregory’s Highlands and Isles, page 312.)

      Angus Macdonald and his clan immediately took up arms, and his son, Sir James, after many fruitless applications to the privy council, to be set at liberty, and writing both to the king and the duke of Lennox, made another attempt to escape from the castle of Edinburgh, but having hurt his ancle by leaping from the wall whilst encumbered with his fetters, he was retaken near the West Port of that city, and consigned to his former dungeon. In 1608 a mandate was issued to Angus Macdonald, and his son, Angus Oig, charging them to surrender the castle of Dunyveg, within twenty-four hours after receiving it, and a proclamation was made for a new expedition against the Isles. Lord Ochiltree being appointed for the occasion lieutenant over them, Angus Macdonald, on his arrival in Isla, delivered to him the castle of Dunyveg, which was immediately garrisoned for the king, and also the fort of Lochgorme, which was at once demolished. He attended the lieutenant’s court at the castle of Aros in Muss, and having made his submission, was allowed to return home, when the other island chiefs were carried prisoners to Edinburgh. In May following, however, having presented himself before the privy council at Edinburgh, he was committed to ward in the castle of Blackness, while his son, Sir James Macdonald, was the same month at length brought to trial, charged with setting fire to the house of Askomull, and making his father prisoner, and with treasonably attempting, at different times, to escape from prison. He denied the fire-raising, and produced a warrant from the king, approving of his conduct in apprehending his father, which, however, he subsequently withdrew. He admitted having attempted to escape from prison, but denied that in his last attempt he had wounded severely some of the keepers. He was found guilty, and sentenced to be beheaded as a traitor, and all his lands and possessions were declared forfeited to the crown. (Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials, vol. iii. pp. 5-10.) The sentence was not carried into effect, and Sir James remained a prisoner in the castle of Edinburgh till 1615, when he succeeded in making his escape, after being twelve years in confinement. His father had been liberated soon after being sent to Blackness, for the purpose of accompanying the bishop of the Isles in his survey of the islands, and he was one of the chiefs who attended the celebrated court held by that prelate at Iona, when the ‘Statutes of Icolmkill’ were passed.

      In 1610 Angus Macdonald was one of the six principal island chiefs who met at Edinburgh to hear the king’s pleasure declared to them, when they were compelled to give sureties to a large amount for their reappearance before the council in May 1611. The bishop of the Isles was soon after made constable of the castle of Dunyveg.

      Angus Macdonald died before 1613, and in the following spring the castle of Dunyveg was surprised and taken by a bastard son of his, named Ranald Oig, on which Angus Oig, the younger brother of Sir James Macdonald of Isla, collected some of his clan, and having recovered the castle, offered to restore it to the bishop on receiving a remission for any offences committed by him and his associates. He subsequently, however, refused to deliver it up, although advised to do so by his brother, Sir James, then a prisoner under sentence of death in Edinburgh castle, and the bishop was sent in September to Isla, with a conditional pardon to Angus Oig and his abettors, provided they gave up the fortress at once. Finding that Angus refused to surrender the castle, the bishop departed and John Campbell of Calder, whose sister Sir James Macdonald had married, having sent to the pricy council an offer of a feu duty for Isla higher than had ever been given before, they empowered him to proceed against Angus Oig and his followers. Sir James Macdonald, on being informed of this, sent certain proposals to the privy council, offering to take the crown lands of Isla, on a seven years’ lease, at a rent of 8,000 merks, or if this was not acceded to, engaging to remove himself, his brother, and his clan, out of the country, on receiving a free pardon, with liberty to depart the kingdom. No attention, however, was paid to his application, and Campbell of Calder, as king’s lieutenant, departed for Isla.

      The bishop of the Isles had entered into a treaty with Angus Oig, by which he promised to endeavour to procure for the latter a lease of the crown lands in that island, and to do his best to obtain a pardon for him and his associates, and had left as hostages in his hands, for the fulfilment of these promises, his son and nephew, Mr. Thomas Knox, and Mr. John Knox of Ranfurlie. To obtain possession of the hostages, one George Graham of Eryne, a Ross-shire man, was sent by the chancellor, the earl of Dunfermline, to Angus Oig, to assure him that by delivering them up, the expedition in preparation against him and the other rebels in Isla would be stopped. On these assurances Angus Oig was induced to give them their liberty. Graham also, in the chancellor’s name, strictly enjoined him to hold the castle of Dunyveg at all hazards, until he should receive farther orders from the chancellor and privy council. Angus Oig, in consequence, disobeyed the summons to surrender the castle, but, after a short siege, he was forced to yield it without conditions, and, with some of his principal adherents, was sent prisoner to Edinburgh.

      Soon after Sir James Macdonald made his escape from Edinburgh castle, as already mentioned, and a reward of £2,000 was offered for him, dead or alive. He was enthusiastically received by his clansmen, and the reward for his apprehension was speedily raised to £5,000. Landing in Isla, he succeeded by a stratagem in drawing the governor, Alexander Macdougall, and some of the garrison, out of Dunyveg castle. The former and about six of his men were slain, and next day the place surrendered to him. On the 3d July Sir James’ brother, Angus Oig Macdonald, and several of his accomplices were tried and condemned for high treason, and executed on the 8th. They pleaded that they had been deceived by Graham, otherwise they would at once have surrendered to the royal forces.

      The earl of Argyle was sent from London, to put down the rebellion of Sir James Macdonald, who, at the head of about 1,000 men, had encamped on the west coast of Kintyre. On the approach of the earl, with a large force, the rebels dispersed, and Sir James fled, in all haste, to Isla, where he collected his scattered followers, to the number of 500 men. He was followed by Argyle, with his whole array, on which he made his escape to Ireland, and soon after got safely away to Spain. There he was shortly after joined by Allaster MacRanald of Keppoch, who had assisted him in his escape from Edinburgh castle, and had continued faithful to him in all his subsequent proceedings.

      After the fall of Argyle, who had turned Roman Catholic, and had also fled to Spain, where he is said to have entered into some very suspicious dealings with his former antagonist, Sir James Macdonald, the latter was, in 1620, with MacRanald of Keppoch, recalled from exile by King James. On their arrival in London, Sir James received a pension of 1,000 merks sterling, while Keppoch got one of 200 merks. His majesty also wrote to the Scottish privy council in their favour, and granted them remissions for all their offences. Sir James, however, never again visited Scotland, and died at London in 1626, without issue. The clan Ian Vohr from this period may be said to have been totally suppressed. Their lands were taken possession of by the Campbells, and the most valuable portion of the property of the ducal house of Argyle consists of what had formerly belonged to the Macdonalds of Isla and Kintyre.

      The Macdonalds of Colonsay were a branch of the great house of Isla, being descended from Coll, a brother of James Macdonald of Dunyveg and the Glens, and of Sorley Buy Macdonald, father of the first earl of Antrim. His grandson, Coll MacGillespick Macdonald, called Coll Keitache, or Left-handed, assisted his kinsman, Angus Oig, when he took possession of Dunyveg castle in 1614. After the surrender of that fortress he made his escape, and was with Sir James Macdonald in his rebellion, for the recovery of Kintyre from the Campbells. On the dispersion of Sir James’ forces, coll MacGillespick surrendered the castle of Dunyveg and another fort in Isla to Argyle, on assurance of his own life and that of his followers, and immediately joined that nobleman against his former associates. He was subsequently expelled from Colonsay by the Campbells, with whom he had a quarrel. His son, the well-known Sir Alexander MacColl Macdonald, so renowned in Montrose’s wars, went to Ireland, and in July 1644 he returned to the Hebrides, at the head of the Irish troops, amounting to 15,000 men, sent by the marquis of Antrim, to assist the royalists in Scotland. After taking the castles of Meigray and Kinloch Alan, he disembarked his forces in Knoydart, and, as he advanced, he despatched the fiery cross, to summon the clans to his standard. He was at first, however, only joined by the clan donald, under the captain of Clanranald and the laird of Glengarry. To oppose his progress, the marquis of Argyle collected an army, and sent some ships of war to Loch Eishord, where Macdonald’s fleet lay, which captured or destroyed them; thus effectually cutting off his retreat of Ireland. Macdonald was, therefore, compelled to search out the marquis of Montrose, who was then about to raise the royal standard. He had sent letters to that nobleman by a confidential friend, and the answer he received was an order to march down, with all expedition, into Athol. Arriving there, closely pursued by Argyle, he fixed his head-quarters at Blair, where he was soon joined by Montrose, and immediately appointed major-general of Montrose’s army. At the battle of Tippermuir, shortly after, he had the command of the centre of the royalist force. He was very useful to Montrose, in obtaining recruits among the Clanranald and other friendly clans.

      After the battle of Fyvie and the retreat of Montrose to the Highlands, that chivalrous commander was induced by Macdonald and the captain of Clanranald to invade the territory of their common enemy, Argyle, their desire of revenging the wrongs of the Clandonald taking place of their feelings of loyalty or patriotism. The army which pillaged and ravaged Argyle and Lorn was divided into three parties, each under the respective orders of Macdonald, the captain of Clanranald, and Montrose himself. For upwards of six weeks, in the depth of winter, these different bodies traversed the whole country, without molestation, burning, wasting, and destroying everything which came within their reach, and the whole of Argyle, as well as the district of Lorn, soon became a dreary waste. The people themselves were not spared, and before the end of January 1645, no male inhabitant was to be seen throughout either district, those who were not killed having been driven out of the country, or taken refuge in caves, and dens, and other hiding places.

      At the battle of Inverlochy Macdonald commanded the right wing, which consisted of his regiment of Irish. On the 16th March he was despatched by Montrose to Aberdeen, with a body of 1,000 horse and foot, the latter 700 Irish, which, to relieve the apprehensions of the inhabitants, he left outside the town, and stationed strong parties at the gates to prevent any straggling parties of them from entering. He showed the utmost respect for private property, and left Aberdeen the following day to join Montrose at Durris. Some of his Irish troops having stayed behind, entered the town, and began to plunder it. According to Spalding, (vol. ii. p. 306,) they “were abusing and fearing the town’s people, taking their cloaks, plaids, and purses from them on the high streets.” Complaints of their conduct were brought to Macdonald on his march, on which he returned, and drove “all these rascals, with sore skins, out of the town before him.” On Montrose’s departure for Perthshire, to avoid Baillie’s troops, Macdonald was left with 200 men at Cupar Angus, which town he burned. He then wasted the lands of Lord Balmerinoch, killed Patrick Lindsay, the minister of Cupar, and after routing some troopers of Lord Balcarres, slaying some of them, and carrying off their horses and arms, hastened off to join Montrose.

      At the battle of Auldearn, he had the command of the right wing, which was posted at a place where there was a considerable number of dikes and ditches. To make the Covenanters believe that he himself commanded this wing, Montrose gave the royal standard to Macdonald, intending, when they should get entangled among the bushes and dikes, with which the ground to the right was covered, to attack them himself with the left wing. When the battle commenced, however, instead of maintaining his position, as he had been expressly commanded by Montrose, Macdonald unwisely advanced beyond it to attack the Covenanters, and though several times repulsed, he returned to the charge. At last driven back by superior numbers, he was forced to retire in great disorder into an adjoining enclosure. His retreat he managed with great dexterity, displaying the most remarkable courage while leading off his men. Defending his body with a large target, he resisted, single-handed, the assaults of the enemy, and was the last man to leave the field. So closely indeed was he pressed, that some of Hurry’s spearmen actually came so near him as to fix their spears in his target, which, says Wishart (Memoirs, p. 136), he cut off by threes or fours at a time with his broadsword. Wishart’s character of Macdonald is that he “was a brave enough man, but rather a better soldier than a general, extremely violent, and daring even to rashness.” A successful charge by Montrose, in the nick of time, retrieved the honour of the day.

      Previous to the battle of Alford, in 1645, he was sent into the Highlands to recruit, and after that event he joined Montrose with about 700 Macleans under their chief. Various other clans also joined Montrose at this time.

      After the battle of Kilsyth, he was sent by Montrose into Ayrshire with a strong force to suppress a rising under the earls of Cassillis and Glencairn. We are told that the countess of Loudon, whose husband had acted a conspicuous part against the king, received Macdonald with great kindness at Loudon castle, and not only embraced him in her arms, but entertained him with great splendour and hospitality. (Guthry’s Memoirs, p. 155.) Montrose having been appointed by the king captain-general and lieutenant-governor of Scotland, conferred the honour of knighthood upon Macdonald, in presence of the whole army. Almost immediately after, the latter announced his intention of proceeding to the Highlands, to avenge the injuries done to the Clandonald by Argyle four years before. Montrose strongly remonstrated against such a step, but in vain. Macdonald went off with upwards of 3,000 Highlanders, and 120 of the best of the Irish troops, whom he had selected as a body-guard. This desertion was a principal cause of the defeat of Montrose’s army soon after at Philiphaugh. When Montrose, by command of the king, disbanded his forces, Macdonald was one of those who were excepted from pardon by the government. In May 1647 General David Leslie was ordered to advance into Kintyre to drive out Macdonald, who was there with a force of about 1,400 foot, and two troops of horse. He had taken no precautions to guard the passes leading into that peninsula, and he was in consequence forced to retire from it by Leslie. After placing 300 men in a fortress on the top of the hill of Dunavertie, he embarked his troops in boats provided for the occasion, and passed over into Isla. Leslie immediately went in pursuit of him, when Macdonald fled to Ireland, where he was soon afterwards killed in battle. His father, old Coll Keitache, was left with 200 men in the castle of Dunyveg in Isla, and being entrapped by Leslie into a surrender of it, was handed over to the Campbells, and hanged from the mast of his own galley, placed over the cleft of a rock near the castle of Dunstaffuage.


      The Macdonalds of Garragach and Keppoch, called the Clanranald of Lochaber, were descended from Alexander, or Allaster Carrach, third son of John, lord of the Isles, and Lady Margaret Stewart. He was forfeited for joining the insurrection of the Islanders, under Donald Balloch, in 1431, and the greater part of his lands were bestowed upon Duncan Macintosh, captain of the clan Chattan, which proved the cause of a fierce and lasting feud between the Macintoshes and the Macdonalds. It was from Ranald, the fourth in descent from Allaster Carrach, that the tribe received the name of the Clanranald of Lochaber.

      In 1498, the then chief of the trive, Donald, elder brother of Allaster MacAngus, grandson of Allaster Carrach, was killed in a battle with Deugal Stewart, first of Appin. His son, John, who succeeded him, having delivered up to Macintosh, chief of the clan Chattan, as steward of Lochaber, one of the tribe who had committed some crime, and had fled to him for protection, rendered himself unpopular among his clan, and was deposed from the chiefship. His cousin and heir male presumptive, Donald Glas MacAllaster, was elected chief in his place. During the reign of James IV., says Mr. Gregory, this tribe continued to hold their lands in Lochaber, as occupants merely, and without a legal claim to the heritage. (Highlands and Isles, p. 109.) In 1546 Ranald Macdonald Glas, who appears to have been the son of Donald Glas MacAllaster, and the captain of the clan Cameron, being present at the slaughter of Lord Lovat and the Frasers, at the battle of Kinloch-lochy, and having also supported all the rebellions of the earl of Lennox, concealed themselves in Lochaber, when the earl of Huntly entered that district with a considerable force and laid it waste, taking many of the inhabitants prisoners. Having been apprehended by William Macintosh, captain of the clan Chattan, the two chiefs were delivered over to Huntly, who conveyed them to Perth, where they were detained in prison for some time. They were afterwards tried at Elgin for high treason, and being found guilty, were beheaded in 1547. Their heads were placed on the gates of the town, and several of their followers were hanged.

      In 1593, after the murder of “the bonny earl of Moray,” when the Macintoshes and Grants made hostile inroads into Huntly’s estates, that nobleman caused the clan Cameron to plunder the lands of the clan Chattan in Badenoch, and sent the Clanranald of Lochaber under Keppoch, their chief, to spoil and waste the estates of the Grants in Strathspey. Keppoch seized the castle of Inverness for Huntly, of whom he was a vassal for the lands of Gargavach or Garragach in the Braes of Lochaber, but from want of provisions was compelled by Macintosh to retire from it, one of his sons, and an officer of his being taken and hung. He assisted Huntly at the battle of Glenlivat in October 1594, when the young earl of Argyle was defeated. After the banishment of Huntly and the other Popish earls, the duke of Lennox was employed to reduce their vassals to obedience, and Keppoch gave his bond of service to the earl of Argyle for himself and his clan, and delivered to the deputies of that nobleman one of his sons as a hostage for his obedience. On the return of Huntly, however, and his restoration to favour in 1598, Keppoch, with others of his old vassals, ranged themselves under the banners of their former lord. (Collectanea de rebus Albanicis, p. 200.)

      Allaster MacRanald of Keppoch and his eldest son assisted Sir James Macdonald in his escape from Edinburgh castle in 1615, and was with him at the head of his clan during his subsequent rebellion. On its suppression he fled towards Kintyre, and narrowly escaped being taken with the loss of his vessels and some of his men. In the following January, a commission was given to Lord Gordon, Huntly’s eldest son, for the apprehension of Keppoch and his son, a reward of 5,000 merks being offered for either of them, alive or dead. A second commission was given to Huntly himself against Keppoch. In July 1618 a commission of fire and sword against Keppoch and his sons was granted to Macintosh, but Lord Gordon procured its recall before it could be acted upon. With his second son, Donald Glas, Keppoch succeeded in making his escape to Spain, but two years thereafter was recalled by King James to London, and received a pension of 200 merks from that monarch. Under a protection for six months from the king he appeared before the privy council in Edinburgh, and on finding sufficient security for his obedience to the laws, he obtained his pardon, and was allowed to return to Lochaber.

      In the great civil war the Clanranald of Lochaber were very active on the king’s side. Soon after the Restoration, Alexander Macdonald Glas, the young chief of Keppoch, and his brother, were murdered by some of their own discontented followers. Coll Macdonald was the next chief. Previous to the Revolution of 1688, the feud between his clan and the Macintoshes, regarding the lands he occupied, led to the last clan battle that was ever fought in the Highlands. The Macintoshes having invaded Lochaber, were defeated on a height called Mulroy. So violent had been Keppoch’s armed proceedings before this event that the government had issued a commission of fire and sword against him. After the defeat of the Macintoshes, he advanced to Inverness, to wreak his vengeance on the inhabitants of that town for supporting the former against him, if they did not purchase his forbearance by paying a large sum as a fine. Dundee, however, anxious to secure the friendship of the people of Inverness, granted Keppoch his own bond in behalf of the town, obliging himself to see Keppoch paid 2,000 dollars, as a compensation for the losses and injuries he alleged he had sustained from the Macintoshes. Keppoch brought to the aid of Dundee 1,000 Highlanders, and as Macintosh refused to attend a friendly interview solicited by Dundee, Keppoch, at the desire of the latter, drove away his cattle. We are told that Dundee “used to call him Coll of the Cowes, because he found them out when they were driven to the hills out of the way.” He fought at the battle of Killiecrankie, and, on the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, he joined the earl of Mar, with whom he fought at Sheriffmuir. His son, Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch, on the arrival of Prince Charles in Scotland in 1745, at once declared for him, and at a meeting of the chiefs to consult as to the course they should pursue, he gave it as his opinion that as the prince had risked his person, and generously thrown himself into the hands of his friends, they were bound, in duty at least, to raise men instantly for the protection of his person, whatever might be the consequences.

      On the commencement of the rebellion, two companies of the second battalion of the Scots Royals, under the command of Captain, afterwards General Scott, having been despatched from Fort Auigustus to reinforce Fort William, were intercepted by a party of Lochiel’s and Keppoch’s men. To spare the effusion of blood, Keppoch advanced alone to Scott’s party, and offered them quarter. Captain Scott, who had been wounded and had two of his men killed. immediately surrendered, and he and his whole party were taken prisoners. After the Pretender had been proclaimed at Glenfinnan, Keppoch joined the prince there with 300 of his men. He was one of the leaders of the party who subsequently captured Edinburgh, and was at the battle of Preston, where, as well as at the battle of Falkirk, he and his men fought on the extreme right of the first line. On the arrival of the duke of Cumberland at Edinburgh, he was one of the seven chiefs who, with Lord George Murray, advised the retreat of the Highland army to the north. At the battle of Culloden the three Macdonald regiments formed the left line, and on their giving way, Keppoch, seeing himself abandoned by his clan, advanced with his drawn sword in one hand and his pistol in the other, but was brought to the ground by a musket shot. Donald Roy Macdonald, a captain in Clanranald’s regiment, followed him, and entreated him not to throw away his life, assuring him that his wound was not mortal, and that he might easily rejoin his regiment in the retreat, but Keppoch, after recommending him to take care of himself, received another shot, and was killed on the spot. There are still numerous cadets of this family in Lochaber, but the principal house, says Mr. Gregory, Highlands and Isles, p. 415,) if not yet extinct, has lost all influence in that district. Latterly they changed their name to Macdonnell.


      For the Glengarry branch of the Macdonalds, see MACDONNELL.


      The Clanranald of Garmoran are descended from Ranald, younger son of John, first lord of the Isles, by his first wife, Amie, heiress of the MacRorys or Macruaries of Garmoran. In 1373 he received a grant of the North Isles, Garmoran, and other lands, to be held of John, lord of the Isles, and his heirs. His descendants comprehended the families of Moydart, Morar, Knoydart, and Glengarry, and came in time to form the most numerous tribe of the Clandonald. Alexander Macruari of Moydart, chief of the Clanranald, was one of the principal chiefs seized by James I. at Inverness in 1427, and soon after beheaded. The great-grandson of Ranald, named Allan Macruari, who became chief of the Clanranald in 1481, was one of the principal supporters of Angus, the young lord of the Isles, at the battle of the Bloody Bay, and he likewise followed Alexander of Lochalsh, nephew of the lord of the Isles, in his invasion of Ross and Cromarty in 1491, when he received a large portion of the booty taken on the occasion. (Gregory’s Highlands and Isles, page 66.) In 1495, on the second expedition of James IV. to the Isles, Allan Macruari was one of the chiefs who made their submission. In the following year he appeared, with four other chiefs of rank, before the lords of council, when they bound themselves “by the extension of their hands,” to the earl of Argyle, on behalf of the king, to abstain from mutual injuries and molestation, each under a penalty of £500.

      During the whole of the 15th century the Clanranald had been engaged in feuds regarding the lands of Garmoran and Uist; first, with the Siol Gorrie, or race of Godfrey, eldest brother of Ranald, the founder of the tribe, and afterwards with the Macdonalds or Clanhuistein of Sleat, and it was not till 1506, that they succeeded in acquiring a legal title to the disputed lands. John, eldest son of Hugh of Sleat, having no issue, made over all his estates to the Clanranald, including the lands occupied by them. Archibald, or Gillespock Dubh, natural brother of John, having slain Donald Gallach and another of John’s brothers, endeavoured to seize the lands of Sleat, but was expelled from the North Isles by Ranald Bane Allanson of Moydart, eldest son of the chief of Clanranald. The latter was twice married; first, to a daughter of Macian of Ardnamurchan, by whom he had two sons, Ranald Bane and Alexander; and, secondly, to a daughter of Lord Lovat, by whom he had one son, likewise named Ranald, called Ranald Galda, or the stranger, from his being fostered by his mother’s relations, the Frasers.

      In 1509 Allan Macruari was tried, convicted, and executed, in presence of the king in blair of Athol, but for what crime is nowhere stated. His son, Ranald Bane, was also executed at Perth in 1513, but neither has his crime been recorded. Allan’s son, Dougal Macranald, having made himself obnoxious to the clan by his cruelties, was assassinated by them, and his sons excluded from the succession; the command of the tribe and the estates being given to Allaster Allanson, Dougal’s uncle. Dougal’s eldest son, Allan, was the ancestor of the Macdonalds of Morar. Allaster died in 1530, when his natural son, John Moydartach, or John of Moydart, was acknowledged by the clan captain of Clanranald. In 1540, when James V. made an expedition to the Isles, he went to meet his majesty, but, with other chiefs, he was apprehended and placed in prison. The time seemed favourable for Lord Lovat to put forth the claim of the young Ranald Galda to the chiefship and estates, although Dougal’s sons were still alive. By his influence the charters granted to John Moydartach were revoked, and by the assistance of the Frasers, Ranald Galda was placed in possession of the lands. On the release, however, and return to the Highlands of John Moydartach, three years afterwards, Ranald was expelled from Moydart, and to assert his right Lord Lovat assembled his clan. The Clanranald, assisted by the Macdonalds of Keppoch and the Clancameron, having laid waste and plundered the districts of Abertarf and Stratherick, belonging to Lovat, and the lands of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, the property of the Grants, the earl of Huntly, the king’s lieutenant in the north, to drive them back and put an end to their ravages, was obliged to raise a numerous force. He penetrated as far as Inverlochy in Lochaber, and then returned to his own territories. The battle of Kinloch-lochy, called Blar-nan-leine, “the field of shirts,” followed. The Macdonalds being the victors, the result was that John Moydartach was maintained in possession of the chiefship and estates, and transmitted the same to his descendants. On the return of Huntly, with an army, into Lochaber, John Moydartach fled to the Isles, where he remained for some time.

      In 1552, a commission was given to the earl of Argyle against the Clanranald, on account of their chief having refused to obey the summons of the regent Arran to meet him at Aberdeen, with the other chiefs, but after communication with John Moydartach, Argyle undertook that this chief should personally appear in presence of the privy council before the following February. When the queen dowager assumed the regency in April 1554, she sent the earl of Huntly on an expedition against the Clanranald, and at the head of a large force, chiefly Highlanders and of the clan Chattan, he passed into Moydart and Knoydart, but finding that the chief and his clan had retreated among the fastnesses of the Highlands, Huntly’s officers refused to follow them there, and he was obliged to abandon the enterprise and return home. In the following year the queen regent sent the earl of Athol, with a special commission to apprehend the chief of Clanranald, when he prevailed upon John Moydartach, two of his sons, and some of his kinsmen, to submit themselves to the queen, who pardoned them their past offences, but ordered them to be detained prisoners, some at Perth, and others at the castle of Methven. They soon, however, made their escape to their own country.

      The Clanranald distinguished themselves under the marquis of Montrose in the civil war of the 17th century. At the battle of Killiecrankie, their chief, then only fourteen years of age, fought under Dundee, with 500 of his men. They were also at Sheriffmuir. In the rebellion of 1745, the Clanranald took an active part. Macdonald of Boisdale, the brother of the chief, then from age and infirmities unfit to be of any service, had an interview with Prince Charles, on his arrival off the island of Eriska, and positively refused to aid his enterprise. On the following day, however, young Clanranald, accompanied by his kinsmen, Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale and Æneas Macdonald of Dalily, the author of a Journal and Memoirs of the Expedition, went on board the prince’s vessel, and readily offered him his services. He afterwards joined him with 200 of his clan, and was with him throughout the rebellion.

      At the battles of Preston and Falkirk, the Macdonalds were on the right line, which they claimed as their due, but at Culloden the three Macdonald regiments, of Clanranald, Keppoch, and Glengarry, formed the left. In support of their claim to the right othe Macdonalds stated that, as a reward for the fidelity of Angus Macdonald, lord of the Isles, in protecting Robert the Bruce, for upwards of nine months, in his territories, that prince, at the battle of Bannockburn, conferred the post of honour, the right, upon the Macdonalds – that this post had always been enjoyed by them, unless when yielded from courtesy upon particular occasions, as was done to the chief of the Macleans at the battle of Harlaw. (Lockhart Papers, vol. ii. p. 510.) It was, however, maintained by Lord George Murray, that under the marquis of Montrose the right had been assigned to the Athol men, and he insisted that that post should now be conferred upon them. The dispute was put an end to by Charles’ prevailing upon the three chiefs of the Macdonalds to waive their pretensions upon that occasion. It was probably their feeling of dissatisfaction at being placed on the left of the line that caused the Macdonald regiments, on observing that the right and centre had given way, to turn their backs and fly from the fatal field without striking a blow.

      At Glenboisdale, whither Charles retreated, after the defeat at Culloden, he was joined by young Clanranald, and several other adherents, who endeavoured to persuade him from embarking for the Isles, but in vain. Young Clanranald was one of the chiefs who held a meeting at Mortlaig, soon after, when they entered into a bond for their mutual defence, and agreed to assemble their clans the following week at Auchincarry in the Braes of Lochaber, but none of them, for various reasons, were able to meet on the day appointed. When the prince first took shelter in Benbecula, he was visited by old Clanranald, to whom the island belonged. On his second visit to that island the chief again visited him, and promised him all the assistance in his power to enable him to leave the kingdom. Lady Clanranald, at the same time, sent the prince half-a-dozen of shirts, some shoes and stockings, a supply of wine and brandy, and other articles of which he stood much in need. When Charles removed to South Uist, Clanranald placed twelve men at his disposal, to serve as guides, and to obey his orders. For the assistance rendered to the prince, Lady Clanranald, and, sometime after, her husband, old Clanranald, and Macdonald of Boisdale, his brother, were apprehended and sent to London, but a few months thereafter they were set at liberty. In the act of indemnity passed in June 1747, young Clanranald was one of those who were specially excepted from pardon.

      The ancestor of the Macdonalds of Benbecula was Ranald, brother of Donald Macallan, who was captain of the Clanranald in the latter part of the reign of James VI. The Macdonalds of Boisdale are cadets of Benbecula, and those of Staffa of Boisdale. On the failure of Donald’s descendants, the family of Benbecula succeeded to the barony of Castletirrim, and the captainship of the Clanranald, represented by Reginald George Macdonald of Clanranald.

      From John, another brother of Donald Macallan, came the family of Kinlochmoidart, which terminated in an heiress. This lady married Colonel Robertson, who, in her right, assumed the name of Macdonald.

      From John Oig, uncle of Donald Macallan, descended the Macdonalds of Glenaladale. “The head of this family,” says Mr. Gregory, “John Macdonald of Glenaladale, being obliged to quit Scotland about 1772, in consequence of family misfortunes, sold his Scottish estates to his cousin (also a Macdonald), and emigrating to Prince Edward’s Island, with about 200 followers, purchased a tract of 40,000 acres there, while the 200 Highlanders have increased to 300.”

      One of the attendants of Prince Charles, who, after Culloden, embarked with him for France, was Neil Mac Enchin Macdonald, a gentleman sprung from the branch of the Clanranald in Uist. He served in France as a lieutenant in the Scottish regiment of Ogilvie, and was father of Stephen James Joseph Macdonald, marshal of France, and duke of Tarentum, born Nov. 17, 1765; died Sept. 24, 1840.

      What is called the Red Book of Clanranald, is a manuscript in Gaelic written on parchment, by the MacVuirichs, who were, for generations, bards to the family of Clanranald, and contains a good deal of the history of the Highland clans, with part of the works of Ossian.


      The Macdonalds of Glenco are descended from John Og, surnamed Fraoch, natural son of Angus Og of Isla, and brother of John, first lord of the Isles. He settled in Glenco, which is a wild and gloomy vale in the district of Lorn, Argyleshire, as a vassal under his brother; and some of his descendants still possess lands there. This branch of the Macdonalds were known as the clan Ian Abrach, it is supposed from one of the family being fostered in Lochaber. After the Revolution, Macian or Alexander Macdonald of Glenco, was one of the chiefs who supported the cause of King James, having joined Dundee in Lochaber at the head of his clan, and a mournful interest attaches to the history of this tribe from the dreadful massacre, by which it was attempted to exterminate it in February 1692. The story has often been told, and as it comes quite within the object of this work, it may be repeated here.

      A negotiation had been set on foot by the earl of Breadalbane with the Highland Jacobite chiefs to induce them to submit to the government. It was, however, broken off by the chiefs, principally at the instigation of Macdonald of Glenco, between whom and the earl a difference had arisen respecting certain claims which the latter had against Glenco’s tenants for plundering his lands, his lordship insisting for compensation out of Glenco’s shre of the money which government had placed at his disposal for distribution among the chiefs. The failure of the negotiation was extremely irritating to the earl, who threatened Glenco with his vengeance, and immediately entered into a correspondence with Secretary Dalrymple, the master of Stair, between whom it is understood a plan was concerted for cutting off the chief and his people. On the 27th August 1691, a proclamation was issued offering an indemnity to all persons then or formerly in arms for James VII., who should take the oath of allegiance to King William’s government before the first day of January following, on pain of military execution after that period. All the other chiefs having given in their adherence within the prescribed time, Glenco resolved to do so too, and accordingly proceeded to Fort William to take the required oaths. He arrived there on the 31st day of December 1691, being the last day allowed by the proclamation for taking them. Presenting himself before Colonel Hill, the governor of Fort William, he desired that officer to administer to him the oaths required by the proclamation, but the governor declined doing so, on the ground that the civil magistrate alone could administer them. There not being any magistrate whom he could reach before the day closed, Glenco remonstrated with him, but he persisted in his refusal. He, however, advised Glenco to hasten to Inverary, and gave him a letter to Sir Colin Campbell of Ardkinglass, sheriff of Argyleshire, begging of him to receive Glenco as a “lost sheep,” and to administer the necessary oaths to him. At the same time he gave Glenco a personal protection under his own hand, with an assurance that no proceedings should be instituted against him under the proclamation, till he should have an opportunity of laying his case before the king or privy council. To reach Inverary with as little delay as possible, Glenco proceeded on his journey through mountains almost impassable, the country being covered with deep snow. He did not even stop to see his family, though he passed within half a mile of his own house. At Baracaldine he was detained twenty-four hours by Captain Drummond. On arriving at Inverary, he found that Sir Colin Campbell was absent, and he had to wait three days till his return. As the time allowed for taking the oaths had expired, Sir Colin declined at first to swear Glenco, but the latter having first importuned him with tears to receive from him the oath of allegiance, and then threatened to protest against the sheriff for not swearing him, Sir Colin yielded, and administered the oaths to the unfortunate chief and his attendants, on the 6th January. Glenco, thereupon, returned home, in perfect reliance that having done his utmost to comply with the order of the government, he was free from danger.

      Three days after the oaths were taken, Sir Colin wrote Hill, acquainting him with what he had done, and stating that Glenco had undertaken to get all his friends and followers to follow his example. About the same time he sent the letter which he had received from Hill, and a certificate that Glenco had taken the oath of allegiance, to Colin Campbell, sheriff clerk of Argyle, then at Edinburgh, with instructions to lay the same before the privy council, and to inform him whether the council received the oath. The paper on which the  certificate that Glenco had taken the oaths was written, contained other certificates of oaths which had been administered within the time fixed, but Sir Gilbert Elliot, the clerk of the privy council, refused to receive the certificate relating to Glenco, as irregular. Campbell, thereupon, waited upon Lord Aberuchil, a privy councillor and lord of session, and requested him to take the opinion of some members of the council. He accordingly spoke to Lord Stair and other privy councillors, and they were all of opinion that the certificate could not be received without a warrant from the king. Instead, however, of laying the matter before the privy council, or informing Glenco of the rejection of the certificate, that he might petition the king, Campbell perfidiously defaced the certificate, and lodged the paper on which it was written with the clerks of the council.

      To enforce the penalties in the proclamation, now that the time allowed for taking the oath of allegiance had expired, instructions, signed and countersigned by the king, on the 11th January, were sent down by young Stair to Sir Thomas Livingston, commander of the forces; by which he was ordered “to march the troops against the rebels who had not taken the benefit of the indemnity, and to destroy them by fire and sword;” but he was allowed a discretionary power to give terms and quarters to chieftains and heritors, or leaders, they becoming prisoners of war, and taking the oath of allegiance, and to the community, on taking the same oath and delivering up their arms. In his letter to Livingston, enclosing these instructions, Secretary Dalrymple significantly says: “I have no great kindness to Keppoch nor Glenco, and it is well that people are in mercy, and then just now my lord Argyle tells me that Glenco hath not taken the oath, at which I rejoice. It is a great work of charity to be exact in rooting out that damnable sect, the worst of the Highlands.” Additional instructions, bearing date 16th January, also signed and countersigned by King William, were despatched to Livingston by the master of Stair, one of which was that “if M’Ean of Glenco and that tribe can be well separated from the rest, it will be a proper vindication of the public justice to extirpate that set of thieves.” In the letter containing these instructions Dalrymple informs Livingston that “the king does not at all incline to receive any after the diet but in mercy.” He artfully adds, however, “but for a just example of vengeance, I entreat the thieving tribe of Glenco may be rooted out to purpose.” A duplicate of these additional instructions was, at the same time, sent by Dalrymple to Colonel Hill, the governor of Fort William, with a letter of similar import to that sent to Livingston. From the following extract it would appear that not only the earl of Breadalbane, but also the earl of Argyle, was cognisant of this infamous transaction. “The earls of Argyle and Breadalbane have promised that they (the Macdonalds of Glenco) shall have no retreat in their bounds, the passes to Rannoch would be secured, and the hazard certified to the laird of Weems to reset them; in that case Argyle’s detachment, with a party that may be posted in Island Stalker, must cut them off.”

      Preparatory to putting the fatal warrant into execution, a party of Argyle’s regiment, to the number of 120 men, under the command of Captain Campbell of Glenlyon, was ordered to proceed to Glenco, and take up their quarters there, about the end of January, or beginning of February. On approaching the Glen, they were met by John Macdonald, the elder son of the chief, at the head of about 20 men. On his demanding from Campbell the reason of his coming into a peaceful country like theirs with a military force, he and two subalterns who were with him explained that they came as friends, and that their sole object was to obtain suitable quarters, where they could conveniently collect the arrears of cess and hearth money, – a new tax laid on by the Scottish parliament in 1690, – in proof of which Lieutenant Lindsay produced the instructions of Colonel Hill to that effect. Having given their parole of honour that they came without any hostile intentions, and that no harm would be done to the persons or property of the chief and his tenants, they received a kindly welcome, and were hospitably entertained by Glenco and his family till the fatal morning of the massacre. Indeed, so familiar was Glenlyon that scarcely a day passed that he did not visit the house of Alexander Macdonald, the younger son of the chief, who was married to his niece, and take his “morning drink,” agreeably to the practice of Highland hospitality.

      Immediately on receipt of his instructions, Livingston wrote to Lieutenant-colonel Hamilton, who had been fixed upon by the secretary to be the executioner, expressing his satisfaction that Glenco had not taken the oath within the prescribed period, and urging him, now that a “fair occasion” offered for showing that his garrison served for some use, and as the order to him from the court was positive, not to spare any that had not come timeously in, desiring that he would begin with Glenco, and spare nothing of what belongs to them, “but not to trouble the government with prisoners,” or, in other words, to massacre every man, woman, and child. Hamilton, however, did not take any immediate steps for executing this inhuman order.

      In the meantime, the master of Stair was not inactive. On the 30th January he wrote two letters, one to Livingston, and the other to Hill, pressing them on. Accordingly, the latter, on the 12th February, sent orders to Hamilton, forthwith to execute the murderous commission. On the same day, Hamilton directed Major Robert Duncanson, of Argyle’s regiment, to proceed immediately with a detachment to Glenco, so as to reach the post which had been assigned to him by five o’clock the following morning, at which hour he promised to reach another post with a party of Hill’s regiment. On receipt of this order, Duncanson despatched another from himself to Captain Campbell of Glenlyon, then living in Glenco, with instructions to fall upon the Macdonalds precisely at five o’clock the following morning, and put all to the sword under seventy years of age, and to have “a special care that the old fox and his sons do not escape your hands.” With this sanguinary order in his pocket, Campbell spent the evening before the massacre at cards with John and Alexander Macdonald, the sons of the chief. At parting he wished them good night, and even accepted an invitation from Glenco himself to dine with him the following day.

      Glenco and his sons retired to rest at their usual hour, but early in the morning, John Macdonald, the elder son, awakened by the sound of voices about his house, jumped out of bed, threw on his clothes, and went to Inverriggen, where Glenlyon was quartered, to learn the cause of the unusual bustle. To his great surprise, he found the soldiers all in motion, on which he inquired at Captain Campbell the object of such extraordinary preparations at such an early hour. Campbell pretended that his sole design was to march against some of Glengarry’s men, and craftily referring to his connexion with the family, he put it to the young man, whether, if he intended anything hostile to the clan, he would not have provided for the safety of his niece and her husband. Apparently satisfied with this explanation, John Macdonald returned home and again retired to rest, but he had not been long in bed when his servant informed him of the approach of a party of men towards the house. Leaping from his bed he ran to the door, and perceiving a body of about twenty soldiers coming in the direction of his house, he fled to a hill in the neighbourhood, where he was soon joined by his brother, Alexander, who had escaped from the scene of carnage, after being roused from sleep by his servant.

      The massacre commenced about five o’clock in the morning at three different places at once. Glenlyon undertook to butcher his own hospitable landlord and the other inhabitants if Inverriggen, where he and a party of his men were quartered, and sent Lieutenant Lindsay with another party of soldiers to Glenco’s house, to cut off the unsuspecting chief. Under the pretence of a friendly visit Lindsay and his party obtained admission into the house. Glenco was in bed, and while in the act of rising to receive his visitors, he was basely shot at by two of the soldiers, and fell lifeless into the arms of his wife. One ball entered the back of his head, and another penetrated his body. The lady, in the extremity of her anguish, leapt out of bed and put on her clothes, but the ruffians stripped her naked, pulled the rings off her fingers with their teeth, and treated her so cruelly that she died the following day. The party also killed two men whom they found in the house, and wounded a third named Duncan Don, who came occasionally to Glenco with letters from Braemar.

      While this was going on in Glenco’s house, Glenlyon was fiercely pursuing the work of murder at Inverriggen, where his own host was shot by his order. Here the party siezed nine men, whom they first bound hand and foot, after which they shot them one by one. Glenlyon was desirous of saving the life of a young man about twenty years of age, but one Captain Drummond shot him dead. The same officer, impelled by a thirst for blood, ran his dagger through the body of a boy who had grasped Campbell by the legs, and who was supplicating for mercy. Some of the soldiers carried their cruelty so far as to kill a woman, and a boy only four or five years old.

      A third party under the command of one Sergeant Barker, which was quartered in the village of Auchnaion, fired upon a body of nine men whom they observed in a house in the village sitting before a fire. Among these was the laird of Auchintrincken, who was killed on the spot, along with four more of the party. This gentleman had, at the time, a protection in his pocket from Colonel Hill, which he had received three months before. The remainder of the party in the house, two or three of whom were wounded, escaped by the back of the house. A brother of the laird of Auchintrincken having been seized by Barker, requested him as a favour not to despatch him in the house, but to kill him outside the door. The sergeant consented, because he said he had experienced his kindness; but when brought out he threw his plaid, which he had kept loose, over the faces of the soldiers who were appointed to shoot him, and also escaped.

      In other parts of the Glen there were some persons dragged from their beds and murdered, among whom was an old man of eighty years of age. Between thirty and forty of the inhabitants were slaughtered in cold blood, and the whole male population under 70 years of age, amounting to 200, would have been cut off, if fortunately for them a party of 400 men under Lieutenant-colonel Hamilton, who was principally charged with the execution of the sanguinary warrant, had not been prevented by the severity of the weather, from reaching the glen till eleven o’clock, six hours after the slaughter, by which time the whole surviving male inhabitants, warned of their danger, had fled to the hills. On arriving at Canneloch-leven, Hamilton appointed several parties to proceed to different parts of the glen, with orders to take no prisoners, but to kill all the men that came in their way. On their march they met Major Duncanson’s party, by whom they were informed of the events of the morning. They also told them that as the survivors had escaped to the hills, they could only burn the houses and carry off the cattle. They accordingly set fire to the houses, and having collected the cattle and effects in the glen, they carried them to Inverlochy, where they were divided among the officers of the garrison. An old man, the only remaining male inhabitant of the desolate vale, was put to death by Hamilton’s orders.

      Ejected from their dwellings by the fire which consumed them, the greater part of the females and children, overcome by fatigue, cold, and hunger, on their way to the hills, dropped down and perished miserably among the snow.

      In every quarter, even at court, the account of the massacre was received with horror and indignation. The ministry, and King William himself, grew alarmed, and to pacify the people he dismissed the master of Stair from his councils, pretending that he had signed the order for the massacre among a mass of other papers, without knowing its contents. This is the only defence ever offered for King William, but it is quite unsatisfactory. The outcry of the nation for an enquiry into this barbarous transaction was so great that a commission was issued in 1695, to the duke of Hamilton and others, to investigate the affair, but it was never acted upon. On 29th April 1595, upwards of three years after the massacre, another commission was appointed, with the marquis of Tweeddale, lord high chancellor of Scotland, at the head of it. The commissioners appear to have conducted the enquiry with great fairness, but anxious to palliate the conduct of the king, in their report, which was subscribed at Holyroodhouse, on the 20th June, and transmitted to his majesty, they gave a forced construction to the terms of the order, and threw the whole blame of the massacre upon secretary Dalrymple. Not one of the parties engaged in it was ever brought to justice.

      This celebrated glen is supposed by some to have been the birthplace of Ossian.

      The Macdonalds of Glenco joined Prince Charles on the breaking out of the rebellion in 1745, and General Stewart, in his Sketches of the Highlanders, relates that when the insurgent army lay at Kirkliston, near the seat of the earl of Stair, grandson of Secretary Dalrymple, the prince, anxious to save his lordship’s house and property, and to remove from his followers all excitement to revenge, proposed that the Glenco-men should be marched to a distance, lest the remembrance of the share which his grandfather had in the order for the massacre of the clan should rouse them to retaliate on his descendant. Indignant at being supposed capable of wreaking their vengeance on an innocent man, they declared their resolution of returning home, and it was not without much explanation and great persuasion that they were prevented from marching away the following morning. The same author says that while the family of the unfortunate gentleman who suffered is still entire, and his estate preserved in direct male succession to his posterity, this is not the case with the family, posterity, and estates, of those who were the principals, promoters, and actors in this black affair. In 1745 the Macdonalds of Glenco could bring 130 men into the field. According to the memorial which President Forbes transmitted to government after the insurrection, of the force of each clan, the Clandonald could muster in all 2,330 men. Of these Macdonald of Sleat could furnish 700; Clanranald, 700; Glengarry, 500; and Keppoch, 300.


      Flora Macdonald, whose memory will ever be held in high esteem, for her generous and noble disinterestedness in assisting Prince Charles to make his escape after the battle of Culloden, was the daughter of Macdonald of Milton, in south Uist. Her father, a tacksman or gentleman farmer, left her an orphan when only a year old, and her mother married Macdonald of Armadale in the isle of Skye, who, at the time of the rebellion, commanded one of the militia companies raised in that island by Sir Alexander Macdonald, for the service of the government. When first introduced to the prince, she was about 24 years of age. She was of the middle size, and besides a handsome figure and great vivacity, she possessed much good sense, an amiable temper, and a kind heart. After the prince’s departure she was apprehended by a party of militia, and put on board the Furnace Bomb, and afterwards removed to Commodore Smith’s sloop, and treated with great kindness and attention by him and General Campbell. She was a prisoner for a short time in Dunstaffnage castle, and after being conveyed from place to place, she was carried up to London, where she remained in confinement from December 1746 till the following July, when she was discharged, at the special request of Frederick, prince of Wales, father of George III., without a single question having been put to her.

      On her liberation, Miss Macdonald was invited to the house of Lady Primrose, a zealous Jacobite lady, where she was visited by a number of distinguished persons, who loaded her with presents. After her return to Skye, she married young Macdonald of Kingsburgh, with whom she emigrated to America. There her husband died, and after suffering many privations during the war of American independence, she returned with her family to Skye. She died March 4, 1790, leaving a son, Lieutenant-colonel John Macdonald, a memoir of whom is given below, and a daughter, married to a Macleod in Skye. She retained her Jacobite predilections to the last hour of her existence.

      Lieutenant general Sir John Macdonald, G.C.B., adjutant-general to the forces, who died at London March 28th, 1850, was a member of the same branch of the Macdonald family as Flora Macdonald, to whom he was nearly related; and he possessed two or three remarkable memorials of his kinswoman.

MACDONALD, ALEXANDER, an eminent Celtic poet, was the 2d son of an episcopalian clergyman at Ardnamurchan, who resided at Dalilea in Moydart. He was born in the beginning of the 18th century, and is generally styled Alasdair Mac Mhairghstir Alasdair, or Alexander, the son of Mr. Alexander. Being intended by his father for the ministry, he was sent to the university of Glasgow, but having married before he finished his studies, he was obliged to leave college, and became teacher to the Society for propagating Christian knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Having become a presbyterian, he was afterwards parochial schoolmaster of Ardnamurchan. Besides his school he occupied the farm of Cori-Vullim, at the foot of Ben Shiante, the highest mountain in that part of the country.

      When the rebellion of 1745 broke out. Macdonald Joined Prince Charles, and turned Roman Catholic. He held a commission in the insurgent army, and after the battle of Culloden, he and his brother Angus, a man of small size but of extraordinary strength, escaped the pursuit of their enemies, and concealed themselves in the wood and caves of Kinloch-na-nua, above Borrodale, in the district of Arisaig. He went afterwards to Edinburgh, and took charge of the education of the children of some Jacobite families there, but soon returned to the Highlands. The time of his death is not stated, but he lived to a good old age.

      His first work, published in 1741, was a ‘Gaelic and English Vocabulary,’ which he was engaged to write, by the Society for propagating Christian Knowledge, for the use of their schools, and appeared under their patronage. His poems were first published in Edinburgh in 1751, and being in Gaelic, were eagerly bought up by the Highlanders. He left several pieces in manuscript, some of which were included in a volume, printed in 1776, by his son Ronald, a schoolmaster in the island of Eigg, which contained also a few specimens of old Gaelic poetry, with some pieces of his own.

MACDONALD, ANDREW, an ingenious but unfortunate poet, son of George Donald, gardener at the foot of Leith Walk, Edinburgh, was born about 1755. He studied at the university of Edinburgh, and in 1775 was admitted into deacon’s orders in the Scottish Episcopal Church. On this occasion he assumed the prefix of Mac to his name. He was admitted as tutor into the family of Mr. Oliphant of Gask; and in 1777 became pastor of the Episcopal congregation at Glasgow. In 1782 he published his ‘Velina, a Poetical Fragment,’ in the Spenserian stanza, which is described as containing much genuine poetry. His next adventure was a novel, called ‘The Independent,’ from which, however, he derived neither profit nor reputation. Having written ‘Vimonda, a Tragedy,’ he got it acted at Edinburgh, with a Prologue by Henry Mackenzie, but though it was received with great applause, it produced no advantage to the author. Finding his income, which was derived solely from the seat rents of his church, decrease as his congregation diminished, he resigned his charge, and with it the clerical profession, and removed to Edinburgh; but not succeeding there, he repaired to London, accompanied by his wife, who had been the maid-servant of the house in which he had lodged at Glasgow. In the summer of 1787 ‘Vimonda’ was performed at the Haymarket Theatre to crowded houses. He next engaged with much ardour upon an opera, but neither this nor any of his subsequent dramatic attempts was equal in merit to his first tragedy. Meanwhile, by writing satirical and humourous poems for the newspapers, under the signature of “Mathew Bramble,” he contrived to earn a precarious subsistence for a time; but this resource soon failed him. He was at last reduced almost to the verge of destitution; the privations to which he was subjected had a fatal effect on a constitution naturally weak, and he died in August 1790, aged only 33, leaving a widow and one child in a state of extreme indigence. A volume of his Sermons, published soon after his death, met with a favourable reception; and in 1791 appeared his ‘Miscellaneous works,’ in one volume, containing all his dramas, with ‘Probationary Odes for the Laureateship,’ and other pieces.

MACDONALD, JOHN, F.R.S., lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Clan-Alpin regiment, and author of several works on military tactics, the only son of the celebrated Flora Macdonald, was born in 1759. He passed several years in the service of the East India company, and attained the rank of captain in the corps of Engineers on the Bengal establishment. In 1798 he communicated to the Royal Society a continued series of observations on the diurnal variation of the magnetic needle, which he had carried on at Bencoolen, in Sumatra, and at St. Helena, in 1794 and the two following years. At a subsequent period he contributed no less than sixteen letters to the Gentleman’s Magazine on the variation of the magnet; and for the same periodical he also wrote a great number of articles on various scientific subjects. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1800, about which year he returned to England, and was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Clan-Alpin regiment, and commandant of the royal Edinburgh artillery. He was subsequently stationed for some time in Ireland. In 1803 he published in two volumes a translation of the ‘rules and Regulations for the Field Exercise and Manoeuvres of the French Infantry, issued August 1, 1791; with explanatory Notes and illustrative References to the British and Prussian Systems of Tactics,’ &c. In 1804, at which time he belonged to the first battalion of Cinque Ports volunteers, he produced a translation of ‘The Experienced Officer, or Instructions by General Wimpffen to his Sons, and to all Young Men intended for the Military Profession; with Notes and Introduction.’ IN 1807, being then chief engineer at Fort Marlborough, he published two more volumes, translated from the French, entitled ‘Instructions for the conduct of Infantry on Actual Service,’ with explanatory Notes;’ and in 1812 he issued a translation of ‘The Formations and Manoeuvres of Infantry, by the Chevalier Duteil,’ being his last work of this nature. In 1811 he published a Treatise on the Violoncello, which showed that he was well versed in Harmonics.

      To the important subject of conveying intelligence by telegraphs, Colonel Macdonald had, for many years, directed his attention; and in 1808 he published ‘A Treatise on Telegraphic Communication, Naval, Military, and Political,’ in which work he proposes an entirely new telegraphic system. In 1816 he issued a Telegraphic Dictionary, extending to 150,000 words, phrases, and sentences, towards the publication of which the Directors of the East India Company granted £400. He also received testimonials to the utility of his plans from Mr. Barrow, secretary to the admiralty, and Sir Harry Calvert, adjutant-general. He died at Exeter, Aug. 16, 1831. He married a daughter of Sir Robert Chambers, chief-justice of Bengal.

MACDONALD, Baron, of Sleat, a title in the peerage of Ireland, conferred in 1776, on Sir Alexander Macdonald, 9th baronet of Sleat.

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