Alexander Mackenzie.

History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name online

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commonly known as " Domhnull Mac Ian 'ic Sheumais".
The manner in which he secured Uistean Mac Ghillespic
Chleirich for planning the assassination of his uncle and chief,
Donald Gorm Mor, and depriving him of his property, has
already been described, (pp. 189-192). He was a man of
unsurpassed courage and enormous bodily strength ; and he
commanded the Macdonalds of Skye in three set battles
against the Macleods and Macleans. In each case he came
off victorious, against much larger forces than his own.
In a quarrel which took place between Donald Gorm Mor
Macdonald of Sleat, and Rory Mor Macleod of Dunvegan,
Donald took a very prominent and distinguished share.
Macleod invaded the district of Troternish with fire and
sword. Macdonald retaliated by sending a force to invade
Maclcod's lands in Harris, killing many of the inhabitants,
and carrying away a great booty of cattle. Macleod sent
a body of forty able-bodied warriors to spoil and lay waste
the Island of North Uist, then the property of Macdonald,
and, according to Sir Robert Gordon, took " a prey of
goods out of the precincts of the Church of Killtrynad, wher
the people had put all ther goods and cattle as in a
Sanctuarie ". Here they were encountered by Donald
Mac Ian 'ic Sheumais of Kingsburgh, at the head of twelve
men who fought so valiantly, that they not only rescued
the cattle and goods but killed Donald G/as, the leader of
the Macleods, with nearly the whole of his followers. The
late Alexander Cameron gives the following version of this
and other raids in which Donald was the leading spirit : —
The local tradition of the battle narrates that it was the
Macleods, after having succeeded in raising the creadi of
the Island, that had gathered their booty into the church,
or monastery of the Trinity at Carinish, and that they
were feasting there on some of the plunder, when Donald
Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais arrived with his twelve warriors,
who fought with their bows and arrows and swords with
such effect, that only two of the Macleods escaped to con-
vey the news of their discomfiture to their chief, who was
with his galleys at Port-na-long. Donald Mac Iain Mhic


Sheumais received a severe arrow wound in the action,
from which he, however, soon recovered, and continued to
distinguish himself as a warrior. The leader of the Mac-
leods was slain by a Macdougall named Donald Mor Mac
Neil Mhic Iain, at the Sands named from that circumstance,
Oitir MJiic-Dhomlinuil GJrfais. The slain of the party-
were buried at the scene of the action, known as FeitJie-
-na-fola, or the morass of blood, and their sculls were
placed in the windows of the church of the Trinity, where
they were to be seen up to a recent date. Rory Mor, see-
ing the bad success of his clansmen, and suspecting that
there were greater forces in the Island, retired home, in-
tending to return shortly with greater forces to avenge
his loss.

In about three weeks, Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais
was sufficiently recovered to proceed to Skye, to report the
affair at Carinish personally to his chief, Donald Gorm
Mor. He accordingly set sail in his galley with a befitting
retinue, but when about half-way across the Minch, which
separates North Uist and the other islands of the outer
Hebrides from Skye, a violent snow-storm, with contrary
wind arose, so that Donald was driven back, and had no
recourse but to make for Rodil, in Harris, one of the seats
of his enemy, Rory Mor. It was dark when Donald and
his company landed, and their arrival was known to no one
at Rodil with the exception of Macleod's page, Maccrimmon,
a native of Skye, to whom Donald stood in the relation of
goistidlt, or godfather. Rory Mor, as usual, had a number
of the gentlemen of his clan waiting on and feasting with
him at Rodil House. The severity of the storm made the
chief uneasy. He paced to and fro in his dining-hall, and,
removing the panel from one of the apertures that served
as windows, he peered into the darkness without, and,
shuddered as the blast blew in through the window a
shower of snow. Hastily closing the aperture, he ex-
claimed, " I would not refuse shelter to my greatest enemy,
even Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais, on such a night".
Maccrimmon immediately answered, " I take you at your


word, Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais is here". Rory
Mor was rather taken aback by the unexpected announce-
ment, but yielding to no man in hospitality, he at once re-
quested that Donald and his company should be shown in.
The Macdonalds entered, and after a formal salutation, were
requested to sit down to dinner with their host and kins-
men. The long table groaned under its burden of beef,
venison, and salmon. The Macleods were seated on one
side, and the Macdonalds ranged themselves on the other
side of the table, the duine-uasals of either clan being
seated above, and the vassals below, the salt. Abundance
of good old wine was quaffed, and as it took effect, the
Macleods, who did not appear to relish the presence of the
strangers, cast furtive glances across the table. At length
the murmured and listless conversation was interrupted by
the words, " Remember ! this day three weeks was fought
the battle of Carinish," spoken by one of the Macleods in
a loud and empathic tone. The chief gave a frowning look
to the speaker, but that did not deter him from repeating
the unfortunate words, which acted as a live spark on the
combustible nature of the Macleods, and in an instant they
displayed a score of daggers. A bloody scene. would have
inevitably followed had not the chief at once interfered,
and with a voice of authority commanded his hasty clans-
men to sheath their weapons, and not disgrace his hos-
pitality and their own gallantry by such an ill-timed act.
They at once obeyed, and he apologised to Donald for his
clansmen's rashness, and good humouredly enquired of
him why he had unsheathed his sword. Donald replied
that he did not mean to act on the offensive, but that if
any of his men had been struck he intended to have
secured first the highest bird in the air, "an t-eun as airde
tha 'sau ealtuinn". When the hour for retiring came, the
Macdonalds were shown to an outer house to sleep, but
Donald, as being of higher rank, was about being shown to
a bed-room in the house, when he declined to go, preferring
to accompany his men ; which he did. They retired to rest,
but had scarcely slept, when Maccrimmon came to the


door and called to Donald Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais that
there was now a fair wind for Skye. The Macdonalds at
once got up, and finding that the gale had subsided and that
the wind was favourable they embarked in their galley for
Skye. They had scarcely reached the entrance of the bay
of Rodil when, on looking back, they observed the dormitory
they had left in flames, some of the Macleods having
treacherously set it on fire, suspecting that the Macdonalds
were within. The piper of the Macdonalds struck up the
piobaireachd, " Tha an dubJitJiuil air Madeod; i.e., the Mac-
leods are disgraced," which galled the Macleods on per-
ceiving that they were outwitted. The Macdonalds were
soon borne by the breeze to their destination, Duntulm, in

In the absence of Rory Mor in Argyll, seeking the aid
and advice of the Earl of Argyll against the Macdonalds,
in 1 60 1, Donald Gorm Mor assembled his men and made
an invasion of Macleod's lands, desiring to force on a
battle. Alexander Macleod of Minginish, the brother of
Rory Mor, collected all the fighting men of the Siol
Tormod, and some of the Siol Torquil, and encamped by
Ben Chullin. Next day they and the Macdonalds joined
battle, "which continued all the day long, both contending
for the victory with incredible obstinacy ". The leader of
the Macleods (who was cased in armour) together with
Niel Mac Alister Roy, and thirty of the leading men of the
Macleods were wounded and taken prisoners, and the Mac-
donalds succeeded in gaining the battle. John MacTormod,
and Tormod MacTormod, two near kinsmen of Rory Mor,
and several others of the Macleods, were slain. Donald
Mac Iain Mhic Sheumais fought with great bravery in the
action, under Donald Gorm Mor. The ravine where the
battle was fought is hence named Co ire na creacli, or the
ravine of the spoil. The Privy Council now interfered, and
requested the chiefs to disband and quit Skye. Donald
Gorm Mor was ordered to surrender himself to the Earl
of Huntly, and Rory Mor to the Earl of Argyll, and were
charged to remain with these noblemen under the pain of


treason, until the quarrel between them should be settled by
the king and council. Through the mediation of Angus
Macdonald of Kintyre, the Laird of Coll, and other friends,
a reconciliation was effected between them, upon which
Donald Gorm Mor delivered up to Rory Mor the prisoners
taken at Ben Chullin, after which they refrained from open
hostility, though they had actions of law against each
other. On the reconciliation being effected, Donald Gorm
Mor was invited by Rory Mor to a banquet in Dunvegan
Castle. When Donald Gorm appeared in sight of the
Castle he was met by Macleod's splendid piper, Donald
Mor Maccrimmon, who welcomed the chief of the Mac-
donalds by playing "The Macdonald's Salute," which
piobaireaclui he composed for the occasion. It was at the
same banquet that he composed " Failte nan Leodach ".*
Donald Mac Ian 'ic Sheumais is said to have been the first
who ventured to drive Highland cattle from the Western
Isles to the mainland and southern markets.

He married a daughter of Macdonald of Keppoch with
issue (among several others, some of whom died young).

IV. Alexander Macdonald, a great loyalist. He
joined Montrose and was engaged in all his battles. He
was one of Sir Donald Macdonald's " five cousins," killed at
Killiecrankie. He married a niece of Sir Donald Mac-
donald, eighth baron and first baronet of Slcat, with

V. Donald Macdonald, a distinguished soldier, who,
with his father, joined Dundee at the Revolution, and
fought afterwards at Sheriffmuir. He married Margaret,
daughter of Donald Nicolson of Scorribreck, with issue,

VI. Alexander Macdonald. One of his contempo-
raries, Douglas, himself (connected with the Sleat family by
marriage), informs us in the "Baronage" that he "was a man
of great integrity, probity, and honour, and has been long one
of the principal managers of his chief's affairs, having been
first appointed into that station by old Sir Donald [who died
in 171 S], was continued by his son, young Sir Donald, by Sir

* History and Traditions of the Isle of Skye.


James, whose son, Sir Alexander, left him one of the Tutors
to his sons — the late Sir James and the present Sir Alex-
ander [who died in 1795] ; and has always acquitted him-
self with great fidelity and an unspotted character. In
1746, having entertained the young Chevalier at his house
in Skye, and assisted him in making his escape, he was
apprehended by order of the Duke of Cumberland, and
sent prisoner to the Castle of Edinburgh, where he
remained, close confined, for about twelve months, and was
at last liberated upon the general Act of Indemnity." All
the more important public incidents of his life are given
in the Rev. Alexander Macgregor's " Life of Flora Mac-
donald," who became the wife of Donald's son, Allan.

He married Florence, daughter of John Macdonald,
second of Castleton, with issue —

1. Allan, his heir.

2. James of Knockow, factor for Sir Alexander Mac-
donald, eighth baronet of Sleat. He married a sister of
Major Macleod of Balmcanach, with issue — three daughters;
(1) Anne, who married Mr. Mackenzie, a joiner, by whom
she had a large family, all of whom emigrated, with their
parents to America, except a daughter,. Margaret, who
married Mr. Macdonald, schoolmaster and catechist, now
residing at Lochbay, Barra; (2) Margaret; and (3) Flora,
both of whom died unmarried.

3. Anne, who married, first, Ronald MacAlister, of the
family of Loup, in Argyllshire, with issue — nine sons and
five daughters. She married, secondly, Lauchlan Mackinnon
of Corry, in Skye, without issue. Her children by Alex-
ander MacAlister were (1) Donald, (2) Allan, both of
whom died at Kingsburgh ; (3) James, died at Cour ; (4)
Janet, died in infancy ; (5) John, died in India, and left a
sufficiently large sum of money to enable his father,
Ranald MacAlister, to purchase the estate of Strath ; (6)
Charles, died in India ; (7) Keith, who became a General in
the Army and died at Torisdale, Argyllshire ; (8) Norman,
a Colonel, and Governor of Prince of Wales Island. He
was lost in the ship Ocean ; leaving two daughters, Frances


Byng, who married Angus MacAlister of Balnakill ; and
Flora, who married Keith Macdonald of Inistrynich ; (9)
Margaret, who married Dr. Alexander Macdonald,
second son of Charles Mac Kachainn, outlawed for taking
part in the rebellion of 1746, with issue— five sons and six
daughters ; (a) John, {b) Ronald, both Captains in the
H.E.I.C. Service; (V) Alexander, a Lieutenant in the
same Service, all three of whom died in India ; ((f) Keith,
a Lieutenant in the Indian Navy, who married Flora,
daughter of Colonel Norman MacAlister, on which occa-
sion he added Macalister to his own name of Macdonald
to secure her property. By her he had one son and two
daughters — Keith Norman, who died young; Emily Birnie,
who married Dr. Crichton, with issue — a son, Charles
Norman, now in India ; Margaret FYances, who married
Brownlow North, son of the great revivalist preacher of
the same name ; (e) Charles MACDONALD, a Lieutenant
in the Glengarry Fencibles, who married Anne, daughter of
Captain Neil Macleod of Gesto, and died at Ord, in 1867,
leaving a family of five sons and three daughters ; Alex-
ander Macdonald, Ord, who married Maria Macdonell, of the
Keppoch family, with issue — three sons (one of whom died
young), and two daughters ; Lachlan Macdonald, now of
Skaebost, Isle of Skye, who married Wilhelmina, daughter
of the late John Mackenzie of Bengal, by whom he has a
family of five sons and one daughter ; Keith, a doctor of
medicine, now at Cupar, who married Miss Nisbett, Edin-
burgh, with issue— two sons ; Neil, now of Dunach,.
Argyllshire, who married Madeline, daughter of the Rev.
Mr. Brown of the North of England, with issue— three
sons ; Charles, now of Clayton, Fifeshire, who married
Anne Mary, daughter of Thomas Williamson, Glasgow,
with issue — two sons and two daughters ; Flora, who
married Alexander Smith, the Poet, author of "A Summer
in Skye," with issue — a son and two daughters ; Isabella
who married John Robertson of Grishernish, Isle of Skye,
with issue — a family of four sons and seven daughters ; and
Margaret, who married Godfrey Mackinnon of North Goon-


ambil, Australia, with issue — two sons and two daughters.
(/) Isabella, daughter of Dr. Alexander, second son of
Charles MacEachainn, married Captain Allan MacLcllan of
the Glengarry Fencibles, with issue — six sons (of whom four
died without issue), and four daughters ; Keith, now of
Melfort, the eldest son alive, who married Jessie Mac-
donell of the family of Keppoch, with issue ; Alister
Macdonald, who married Bella Christian, daughter of Alex-
ander MacRa of Hushinish, Harris ; Charles, drowned on
his way to India; Marcella, who married Horatio Maculloch,
the famous landscape painter, without issue ; Margaret ;
Flora ; and Anne, all three married with issue, in Australia.

From Anne of Kingsburgh, in addition to those above
given are descended, among hundreds of distinguished
Military, Professional, and Scientific men, John H. A.
Macdonald, late Solicitor-General for Scotland, and now
Sheriff of Perthshire ; Captain Allan Macdonald of Water-
nish ; Mrs. Brown, Linkwood ; Mrs. Scott Moncrieff ; the
Rev. Donald MacKinnon, Sleat; Lachlan MacKinnon, of the
" Melbourne Argus " ; William MacKinnon, a distinguished
M.D. in the Army, who, when quite a young man, was on
Lord Clyde's staff in India, made a C.B., and is now De-
puty Surgeon-General in the Army ; the Rev. Roderick
Morrison, Kintail ; Keith Macalister, now of Glenbarr,
Argyllshire ; Alexander MacAlister, now of Strathaird,
in Skye ; and a great many others, all of whom we have
traced step by step, but not being Macdonalds by name we
cannot find the necessary space to show their descent and
connexions in detail.

Alexander of Kingsburgh was liberated from the prison
of Edinburgh on the 4th of July, 1717, having "got a
whole year's safe lodging for affording that of one night".
He became one of Sir James's Tutors, in which capacity
he continued to act until Sir James came of age ; when, in
consideration of his long and faithful services to the
family, he granted him an annuity of fifty pounds- sterling
a-year, for the remainder of his life. He died at the great


age of eighty-three, on the 13th of February, 1772, when
he was succeeded by his eldest son,

VII. Allan Macdonald, who on the 6th of November,
1750, married the celebrated Flora Macdonald of history.
On the death of Old Kingsburgh, Allan and his famous
wife took up their abode in Kingsburgh House. In 1773,
they had the pleasure of entertaining Dr. Johnson and
Boswell. This was the same house in which, under her
guidance, Prince Charles slept for a night, on his memorable
passage through the Isle of Skye from the Long Island.
Allan became embarrassed in his business affairs in con-
sequence of his father's connection with Prince Charles,
and the neglect of Old Kingsburgh's affairs during his
imprisonment in Edinburgh ; so, he determined to emig-
rate with his wife and family to America. Soon after their
arrival in North Carolina, in 1755, the American War of
Independence broke out. Allan became a Captain in the
newly raised 84th or Royal Highland Emigrant Regi-
ment, then raised, and consisting of about 1 500 Highland
emigrants or their sons ; and his wife, the famous Flora,
remained in the camp, inspiring them with enthusiasm in
the Royal Cause, until the troops commenced their march.
Their five sons also took part in the war, as did also Major
Alexander Macleod, who had quite recently married their
eldest daughter, Anne. Allan took a distinguished part in
the war, but he was taken prisoner and committed to the
prison of Halifax, Virginia. Flora, in great distress of
mind and means, determined to return to Scotland, at the
earnest request of her husband, he promising to join her and
her daughter Frances as soon as he obtained his liberty.
Crossing the Atlantic, the ship in which she was coming
home was attacked by a French privateer, and, during the
action which followed, while all the other lady passengers
went below for safety, Flora remained on deck encouraging
the sailors by her voice and example, and assuring them of
snccess. The enemy was soon overcome and beaten off,
but the brave Flora was knocked 'down and had her arm
broken in the scrimmage. She afterwards used to say that


she imperilled her life both in the cause of the Stuarts and
the House of Hanover, and that she received little from
either for her pains. On her arrival in the Highlands she
went to reside with her brother at Milton, in Uist, and
remained there until, on the Treaty of Peace at the con-
clusion of the American War, in 1783, her husband was
liberated, and he returned to Scotland. They went back to
live at Kingsburgh House, Allan enjoying a captain's half-
pay, which, with the product of the farm, enabled them to
live comfortably for the rest of their days. Flora died on
the 5th of March, 1790, when her remains were shrouded
in one of the sheets in which Prince Charles had lain in
Kingsburgh House, while a fugitive in Skye, and which
Flora had carried with her, through all her adventures in
America, and brought back to Skye on her return. She
was buried in the Kingsburgh family vault in the Church-
yard of Kilmuir, where now stands a fine monument,
erected by public subscription, to mark her last resting-
place. For full particulars of her life, death, and funeral,
we refer the reader to her History by the Rev. Alexander
Macgregor in the " Celtic Magazine," and now about to be
published in book form. Allan, her husband, survived her
only for a few years. He died on the 20th of September,
1795, when he was buried by the side of his immortal wife; by
whom he had a fine family of five sons and four daughters —

1. Charles, a Captain in the Queen's Rangers. At his
funeral, Lord Macdonald, on seeing his body lowered into
the grave, remarked, " There lies the most finished gentle-
man of my family and name ". He married Isabella,
daughter of Captain James Macdonald of Aird, Troternish,
son of William Macdonald, Tutor of Sleat, without issue.

2. Alexander, an Officer in the Naval Service, lost at
sea, unmarried. He went down in the " Villc de Paris," a
French line of battle ship, taken after a severe fight ; he
and his brother, Ranald, having been put on board in com-
mand of the prize crew.

3. Ranald, a Captain of Marines, " of high professional
character, and remarkable for the character of his appear-


ance ". He was lost in the " Ville de Paris " with his
brother, Alexander, unmarried.

4. James, a brave officer, who served with distinction in
Tarlton's British Legion ; known in Skye as Captain James
Macdonald of Flodigarry. He married Emily, daughter of
James Macdonald of Skaebost, with issue, two sons and
three daughters — (1) James Somerled Macdonald, Lieu-
tenant-Colonel of the 45th Madras Native Infantry, who
died in London, in January, 1842, unmarried. He was
buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. (2) Allan Ranald, a
Captain in the 4th Bengal Native Infantry, who married
Miss Smith, daughter of General Smith, of the Bengal
Army, with issue — a son and two daughters. The son, Re-
ginald Somerled Macdonald, of the Colonial Office, died
four years ago. He married a daughter of Sir William
Grove, an English judge, with issue — two daughters, one of
whom, remarkable for her great beauty, died young in
Florence ; the other, Zeila Flora Macdonald, married
Marshal Canrobert, of France, with issue — several children.

Of the three daughters of Captain James of Flodigarry,
two, Flora and Charlotte, died young and unmarried ; the
former in her father's house at Flodigarry, through an illness
brought on by sleeping in damp sheets ; the latter, at the
age of seventeen, while on a visit to her maternal aunt, the
late Mrs. Alexander Mackenzie of Letterewe. Jessie, then
only surviving daughter of Captain James Macdonald of
Flodigarry, married Ninian Jeffrey, New Kelso, Lochcarron,
with issue — eight sons and two daughters ; ( 1 ) Captain James
(died in 1875), who married Mary Irwin, leaving issue — one
daughter, who married Dixon Irwin, shipowner, Liver-
pool; (2) Capt. George, of H.M. 32nd Light Infantry, whose
career as a soldier was marked by the most reckless bravery.
Before he was seventeen he held a Lieutenant's commission
in Don Pedro's army in Portugal. The Portuguese war
over, he was next found fighting under General Sir de Lacy
Evans, and greatly distinguished himself at the battle of
Venta Hill, on the 5th of May, 1836, when he had to be
carried off the field with three bullets in his body. He sub-



sequently obtained a commission in the British army, and,
after serving in the tropics, fought through the Sikh war of
1848-9 ; was present at the siege and storming of Mooltan,
and at the closing battle of Goojerat. He married Annie,
daughterof Colonel William Geddes, H. E.I. C.S., with issue —
John Macdonald, in the 24th Regiment, and three daughters,
one of whom, Flora Macdonald Wylde, died in infancy;
Jessie, still unmarried ; and Georgina Amelia, who married
John Abernethy Rose, merchant, Kurrachee, India. Captain
George Jeffrey died in China in 1868. (3) William John,
stipendiary magistrate at Demerara, married Sophia, widow
of the Rev. William Hamilton, Rector of the Episcopal
Church at Leguan, Essiquibo, Demerara, with issue — two
children, a boy and a girl ; died in infancy ; (4) Allan
Ranald Macdonald, a well-known litterateur in London,
who married, and has issue, one son, Allan Ninian Charles
Macdonald ; (5) Thomas Mackenzie, lost at sea, young and

Online LibraryAlexander MackenzieHistory of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name → online text (page 26 of 48)