Alexander Macrae.

History of the clan Macrae with genealogies online

. (page 14 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

pointed out at Achnagart. Duncan's sword was
picked up on Sheriffmuir after the battle, and was
exhibited for many years in The Tower of London as
" the great Highlander's sword." There are men
still alive who remember seeing this sword in The
Tower. It is not there now, however, and what has
become of it is no longer known, though the proba-
bility is that it may have been lost in the fire by
which The Tower Armoury was destroyed in 1841.
In the time of William Earl of Seaforth, Duncan
was Captain of the Freiceadan or Guard, whose duty
it was to protect the marches of the Seaforth estates


from the plundering raids of the Lochaber cattle-
lifters, and many are the traditions of his adventures
and feats of arms against the Fir Chaola (the thin
or lean men), as the Lochaber marauders were
usually called in Kintail. 1 Duncan was also a poet,
but it has been found impossible so far to recover
any more than the merest fragments of his produc-
tions.' 2 He was married, and left issue.

3. Maurice, son of Alexander, was tenth in
descent from Fionnla Dubh Mac Gillechriosd. He
lived at Achyuran, in Glensheil, and is said to have
married Christina, daughter of Alexander Macrae,
Camusluinie, with issue at least two sons, Alexander
and Duncan.

(xi.) Alexander, son of Maurice, was called
Alister Ruadh (red-haired Alexander), and was
ground officer of Kintail. It is said that while at
school at Fortrose he married a Margaret Fraser of
Belladrum, by whom he had one daughter, who
married Duncan Macrae, Achnashellach. Alexander
married, secondly, a daughter of John Macrae,
Inversheil, with issue : —

(1). Donald, called Domhnull Ruadh, who was
a farmer at Achnagart, and in 1794 moved to Ard-
elve, in Lochalsh, where he lived for nineteen years.
In 1813 he moved to Morvich, in Kintail, where he
died the same year. He married Anne, daughter of
Christopher Macrae of Drudaig, 3 and by her had a
large family, of whom at least four sons reached
manhood, and there was a daughter alive and

1 See chapter on the legends and traditions of the clan.
2 Appendix J. 3 Page 164.


unmarried in 1830. The four sons had the farm of
Immer, in Lochcarron, between them for some time,
and they were there as late as 1823.

(«). Alexander is mentioned as the eldest of
Donald Roy's sons in a letter written by himself to
the Honourable Miss Mackenzie of Seaforth, on the
22nd May, 1830. He married Isabella Crichton,
who was descended from a Covenanting family, and
had issue : — Marion, Donald, William Crichton,
Alexander, John, Farquhar.

(b). Christopher married and left a son, Donald,
who is now living at Bundalloch, in Kintail, and is
married with issue.

(c). Farquhar.

(d). The Rev. John, some time of Knockbain,
and better known in the Highlands as Macrath Mor
a Chnuicbhain (the great Macrae of Knockbain),
said to have been the youngest of the sons, was
born either at Achnagart or at Ardelve in May,
1794. In his youth he was noted not only for
physical strength but also for his mental capacity
and intelligence, and numerous anecdotes about his
great personal strength and courage are still floating
about the Highlands. While living at Immer with
his brothers he made the acquaintance of the Rev.
Lachlan Mackenzie, of Lochcarron, who is said to
have formed a high opinion both of his character
and of his abilities. After leaving Immer he
received a share in the farm of Ratagan, on the
south side of Lochduich, and while there he acted
for some time as superintendent of the workmen
who were engaged on the construction of the road


leading from Kintail across Mam Ratagan to
Glenelg and Kyle Rhea. He afterwards held an
appointment as teacher in a school at Arnisdale, in
Glenelg, where he hecame a centre of much influence
for good. Upon deciding to enter the Church lie
succeeded in obtaining a bursary for Mathematics at
Aberdeen University. In this subject he took a
high position during his course, but failed to make
a good appearance in Latin and Greek, having
commenced the study of those languages too late in
life to be able to acquire the familiarity which is
necessary for a complete mastery of their construc-
tion and idiom. He was, however, a very proficient
student of Hebrew. On completing his college
course and obtaining licence, he acted for some time
as assistant to the Rev. James Russell, of Gairloch.
He became minister of Cross, in Lews, in 1833.
Here he continued until 1839, when he became
minister of the parish of Knockbain, in the Black
Isle. 1 The great controversy which led to the
Disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843 was
then at its height, and Mr Macrae soon became one
of the ablest and most energetic of the leaders of
the popular party in the Highlands. In 1843 he
cast in his lot with the Free Church, and remained
at Knockbain for some years longer. In 1847, the
death of his intimate friend, the Rev. Alexander
Stewart, of Cromarty, made him wish for a change
of locality, and in 1849 he accepted the Gaelic
Church at Greenock, where he continued until town

l The Black Isle is the peninsula lying between the Beauly and Cromarty
Firths, on the north-east coast of Scotland.


life and labour began to tell so much on his health
that he found it necessary to move to a quieter
scene. Accordingly in 1857 he moved to the parish
of Lochs in Lews, and then in 1866 to Carloway,
also in Lews. Here he remained until 1871, when
he retired from active duty, generously declining to
accept the retiring allowance to which he was
entitled from the Church. He died at Greenock on
the 9th October, 1876, leaving behind him a
memory and a name which Gaelic-speaking High-
landers will not readily allow to perish. Mr
Macrae's powers as a preacher were undoubtedly of
the very highest order, and his influence among the
people and his brother clergy was very great. It
was said of him at the time of his death that no
minister in the Highlands during the last two
hundred years had made so great an impression on
so large a number of people. One writer says that
Mr Macrae, " who was of fine personal appearance,
was the type of a genuine Kintail man, well propor-
tioned, beautifully shaped head and shoulders,
herculean limbs, and deep chest, an excellent' voice,
and an impressive manner. The effects he produced
upon his hearers were such as no preacher of the
time except Dr Chalmers was known to produce.
In Gaelic his powers came fully out, yet in English
he often thrilled his hearers as he did when he
spoke in his native tongue. His preaching was
characterised by richness of thought, beauty and
simplicity of illustration. He was a large-hearted
man, sound in doctrine, liberal in sentiment, and
esteemed by all." Another writer says that "His.


appearance as he presented himself before a congre-
gation at once arrested attention, it suggested to his
hearers the thought that this was a messenger
from God."- The Rev. John Macrae married
Penelope, daughter of Captain Mackenzie of Bayhle
in Lews, and by her, who died on the 9th December,
1859, aged fifty-four years, he had four sons and
two daughters.