Alexander Macrae.

History of the clan Macrae with genealogies online

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when occasion required, and the firm, stable, and sure love and
favour the said Farquhar Macra and others foresaid, of the said
name of Macra, and their predecessors, did and doth bear to the
said George Campbell of Craignish and his predecessors, and the


acts of kindness and friendship done by the said name of Macra
to the said family of Craignish, when occasion offered, in all time
bygone. And now for the more firm and sure upholding and
maintaining of the said relationship, friendship, and correspond-
ence, and for the better keeping and preserving the samen on
record, in all time coming, the said George Campbell of Craig-
nish, by their presents, binds and obliges him, his heirs and
successors, to maintain, and in hand take the part of any of the
said name of Macra in all lawful causes, and defend the samen, to
the uttermost of their power, against any other person, their duty
to Her Majesty and Her Highness' successors and Council, and
their immediate lawful superiors, alwise excepted. And sicklike
the saids Farquhar Macra, Mr Donald, Donald, John, Duncan, and
Kenneth Macra, in name and behalf foresaid, for them, their heirs,
and all others lineally descending of their bodies, by their presents,
binds and obliges them and their foresaids, so far as they may do
by law, to own, maintain, and in hand take the part of the said
George Campbell of Craignish or his foresaids, or any others
lineally descending of his family, in all lawful causes, and defend
any of the said family, to the utmost of their power, against all
other person or persons, their duty to Her Majesty and Her High-
ness' successors and Council, and their immediate lawful superiors,
all is excepted. And both the said parties obliges them and their
foresaids to renew and reiterate their presents, as oft as they will
be required thereto, that the samen may be kept in record and
memory ad futuram rei memoriam.

" In testimony hereof (written by John Campbell, younger of
Balmillin), both parties have subscribed their presents, place, day,
month, and year, foresaid, before these witnesses : — Ronald
Campbell of Lagganlochta ; Ronald Campbell, brother german to
the said George Campbell of Craignish ; Archibald Campbell,
merchant in Kilvoran, in Islay ; and the said John Campbell,
writer hereof.

(Signed) " Geo. Campbell. Farqr. Macra.

" Mr Dond. Macrah. D. Mackra.

" John Macrah. Dun. Macra.

" Ken. Macra.

" Ron. Campbell, Witness. Ron. Campbell, Witness.
" Arch. Campbell, Witness. J. Campbell, Witness."




The two regiments now linked together as the Seaforth High-
landers are the 72nd Highlanders (the Duke of Albany's Own
Highlanders) and the 78th Highlanders (the Ross-shire Buffs).
The 72nd, now the First Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders,
■was raised by Kenneth, Earl of Seaforth. It was inspected and
passed at Elgin on the loth of May, 1778, and was numbered
the 78th. In 1786 it was re-numbered the 72nd, and in 1822
received the additional name of The Duke of Albany's Own
Highlanders, Albany being the second title of the Duke of York,
then the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. It is usually
stated that this regiment was recruited largely from the Macraes,
but an examination of the muster roll of the men who were
inspected and passed in Elgin in May, 1778, shows that although
there were several Macraes among them, yet they formed but a
small proportion of the whole regiment. The Ross-shire names on
the roll are comparatively few, and so far as can be judged from
names, the recruits might have been brought together from all
parts of the United Kingdom. The majority were in all proba-
bility Highlanders, and the Macraes became so prominent in this
regiment, not because of their number, but because of the part
they took as ringleaders in the Mutiny, which is known as " The
Affair of the Macraes."

From Elgin the regiment proceeded to Edinburgh, where it
was ordered to be kept in readiness to embark for India.
During their sojourn in Edinburgh, many of the men were billeted
in the Canongate and other parts of the city, and among them
there arose a rumour that the regiment had been sold to the East


India Company. But this was not the only grievance. The
bounty money promised, and also their pay, were in arrears, and
the result was that on Tuesday, the 22nd of September, 1778,
when the regiment assembled, and were about to proceed to Leith
to embark there, a large number of men refused to march until
their grievances were attended to. The officers were insulted and
stoned by the populace, who were in complete sympathy with the
men. A scene of great confusion ensued, and, notwithstanding
Seaforth's efforts to allay the mutinous feeling by promising that
their demands should be complied with as soon as possible, five
hundred Highlanders shouldered their arms, set off at a quick
pace, with pipes playing and two plaids fixed on poles for colours,
to Arthur's Seat, where they took up a position of such natural
strength that, with the arms of those days, it would be no easy
matter to compel them to surrender. Here they remained for
some days, being liberally supplied with food and even ammuni-
tion by the people of Edinburgh and Leith, among whom they
had many sympathisers. They appointed officers, and placed
sentries in regular order, so that any attempt to surprise them was
seen to be clearly hopeless. Two accidents occurred among them.
One man was killed by falling over a rock, and another man, who
was accidentally shot through the thigh, was removed to the
Royal Infirmary. Meantime the authorities were assembling a
considerable force in the city, but at the same time efforts were
being made to induce the mutineers to come to terms. On the
second day, General Skene, who was second in command in
Scotland, visited them, but they insisted on their former conditions,
and the dismissal of certain officers. On the third day they were
visited by the Duke of Buccleuch, Lord Dunmore, Lord Mac-
donald, and several gentlemen and clergymen, but with the same
result. On the next day, however, a settlement was arrived at, and
the following conditions were accepted by them, viz. : — A general
pardon for all that had passed ; that all arrears should be paid
before embarkation ; and that they should never be sent to the East
Indies. These are the conditions as stated in the newspapers of
the day, but it is quite possible the third condition may have
been that they were not to be disposed of to the East India Com-
pany, as they readily sailed to India three years afterwards. The
conditions were signed by the Duke of Buccleuch, Lord Dunmore,


Sir Adol pirns Stoughton, Commander-in-Chief for Scotland, and
General Skene, second in command in Scotland.

On Friday, the 25th of September, at 11 a.m., they marched
down from Arthur Seat, headed by Lord Danmore, and assembled
in St Anne's Yard, near Holyrood, where they were addressed by
General Skene, who gave them some good advice, and promised
that a Court would be held next day to inquire into the com-
plaints against some of the officers. These complaints were
pronounced by the Court to be without foundation, but
not one of the mutineers received punishment of any kind.
After the meeting in St Anne's Yard, the men were billeted in
the suburbs of Edinburgh, and on the following Monday they
embarked at Leith.

This amicable settlement did not give satisfaction to all the
officers, some of whom blamed Lord Dunmore for acting as he did
on behalf of the mutineers, and urged the necessity of severe
measures as the only guarantee for the maintenance of discipline.
The public, however, applauded the wisdom and prudence of the
reconciliation, as there was a general feeling that the mutineers
were not without some real grievances. Several disturbances of a
similar nature had recently taken place in the Highland regiments,
and all about breaches of the conditions of enlistment. It is
quite possible that, in the anxiety to gain recruits, promises were
sometimes made which could not easily be fulfilled ; but the fact
that the disputes were frequently about arrears of pay, which the
Government were well able to afford, shows an inexcusable care-
lessness with regard to one of the most practical of all the conditions
of employment. And when, in addition to these grievances, the
men had to serve under officers who neither knew their language
nor appreciated their character, it can easily be understood that
their lot was not always free from provocation. 1

1 " A Highland regiment, to be orderly ami well disciplined, ought to be
commanded l>y men who are capable of appreciating their character, directing
their passions and prejudices, and acquiring their entire confidence and
affection. The officer to whom the command of Highlanders is entrusted
must endeavour to acquire their confidence and good opinion. With this view
he must watch over the propriety of his own conduct. He must observe the
strictest justice and fidelity in his promises to his men, conciliate them by an
attention to their disposition and prejudices, and at the same time by pre-


Of these disturbances, " The Affair of the Macraes " was by far
the most formidable, and had it not been so wisely and so
j udiciously settled, it might have had a very disastrous effect on
the efforts being then made to recruit the army from the High-
lands. It showed once for all that Highland soldiers meant to
insist at whatever cost upon being dealt with in good faith, and
henceforth we hear less about breaches of the conditions of

The idea of sending the regiment to India was for a time
abandoned, and from Leith they sailed to Jersey and Guernsey,
where they were stationed for some time to resist any attempt at
invasion by the French. In 1781 they proceeded to India, ac-
companied by the Earl of Seaforth as their Colonel. The voyage,
which lasted from the 12th June, 1781, to the 2nd April, 1782,
proved a disastrous one. Illness broke out among the men, and
before they arrived at St Helena, to their utter dismay, their
Colonel died. His death had a most depressing effect upon the
men, of whom no fewer than two hundred and forty-seven died
before they reached India. Traditions of this disastrous voyage
still survive in Kintail. The subsequent career of the 72nd
Highlanders is a matter of history, which it is not necessary to
repeat here.

The 78th Highlanders (the Ross-shire Buffs), now the Second
Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, was raised by Francis,
Earl of Seaforth. It was inspected and passed at Fort-George in
July, 1793, and proceeded to Jersey and Guernsey. The follow-
ing year another battalion was raised, which was inspected and
passed at Fort-George in June, and received the distinctive name
of the " Ross-shire Buffs." From the Channel Islands, the first
battalion went on active service to Holland, while the second
battalion proceeded at once to the Cape of Good Hope, and took
part in the capture of the Colony from the Dutch. In 179G it

serving a firm and steady authority, without which he will not be respected.
Officers who are accustomed to command Highland soldiers find it easy to
guide and control them when their full confidence has been obtained, but
when mistrust prevails, severity ensues, with a consequent neglect of duty,
and by a continuance of this unhappy misunderstanding the men become
stubborn, disobedient, and in the end mutinous. — Sketches of the Highlanders,
by Major-Oeneral David Stewart of Garth.


was joined by the first battalion, and the two battalions, in-
corporated into one, proceeded to India, where the regiment saw
much service before it returned home again in 1817. In 1804
another second battalion was raised. This battalion fought with
great distinction at the battle of Maida, in Italy, in 1806. The
next year it was in Egypt, and Buffered very heavily at El Hamet.
It saw some further arduous service in Holland, and was
incorporated with the other battalion of the Ross-shire Buffs in
1817. The subsequent history of the Ross-shire Buffs is well
known. A large number of Macraes from Kintail served in each
of these three battalions.

The 72nd and the 78th (Ross-shire Buffs) were linked together
in 1881 as the Seaforth Highlanders.



The old parish of Kintail, including Glensheil, which was made
into a separate parish by the Lords Commissioners of Teinds on
the 30th December, 1726, is situated in the south-west of the
County of Ross. A considerable portion of its boundary runs
along the sea coast, its inland boundaries being the parishes of
Lochalsh, Kilmorack, Kiltarlity, Kilmonivaig, and Glenelg. The
present parish of Kintail is about eighteen miles long, and
varying in breadth from five to six miles. Glensheil is about
twenty-six miles long, and from two to six miles in breadth. The
combined area of the two parishes is rather more than two
hundred square miles, a great portion of which consists of moor-
land and mountain. From the sea coast the country opens up in
three large valleys or glens — Glenelchaig, Glenlic, and Glensheil.
These glens are surrounded by steep and lofty mountains, which
are frequently covered with green pasture from base almost to
summit. The richness of its pastures was no doubt the reason
why, in the pastoral age of the Highlands, Kintail was so noted
for its cattle. It was often called Cintaille nam Bo (Kintail of
the cows), and, needless to say, was one of the happy hunting
grounds of the cattle lifters of Lochaber. The natural pastoral
richness of the country helped also to rear a race of men who,
according to all accounts, were at least as robust in mind and
bodj', and as well favoured as any of their neighbours. The
men of Kintail were usually of good physique and strong, full
features. 1 They had large chests and deep voices, and in mimick-

i There are some excellent representations of Kintail faces in Benjamin
West's painting of the rescue of King Alexander III. from the fury of a stag
by Colin Fitzgerald, the reputed founder of the House of Kintail, the original
of which is in Brahan Castle. See also page 101.


ing the speech of a Kintail man in Gaelic it is still the custom to
adopt as deep a tone of voice as possible. In an old Gaelic song
they are spoken of as, " Fir ghearra dhonna Chintaille " (the thick-
set auburn-haired men of Kintail). They were known among their
neighbours as Na Doimhich, which may mean either the bulky
ones, or the barrels, while the Lochaber men were usually called
— at all events in Kintail — Na Fir Chaola, which means the lean
or sharp-featured men.

The earliest glimpses we get of the history of Kintail comes
to us, as in the case of most Highland parishes, through legends
connected with some of the early Scottish Saints, and two at least
of the contemporaries of Columba, St Oran 1 and St Douan,'- have
left traces of their names in the country. Scururan, or Oran's
Peak, is the highest and most prominent of the mountains of
Kintail, and near the foot of it is a place called Achyuran, or
Oran's field, while the small island on which the ruins of the
stronghold of the Barons of Kintail still stand is called Ellan-
donan, or Donan's Island. So far as at present known, not even
a legend has survived to explain what connections those two
Saints may have had with the country, but that they were con-
nected in some way with the places which bear their names, may
be regarded as extremely probable.

About the middle of the seventh century the country was
visited by an Irish Saint called Congan. He was a son of the
King of Leinster, and was trained as a soldier. On succeeding
to his father's dominions he ruled well, but was unfortunate in
war with his enemies, and having been wounded and conquered, he

1 Oran, a wellborn Irishman, came to Iona with Columba. When Oran
arrived, Columba told him that whoever willed to die first should not only go
more quietly to Christ, but should confirm and ratify the right of the com-
munity to the Island by taking corporal possession of it. Oran consented,
whereupon Columba not only assured him of eternal happiness, but said that
none who came to pray at his own sepulchre should receive his petition till he
had first prayed at Oran's. Oran was thus the first man to be buried in Iona
There are many traces of Oran's name to be met with in the West Highlands.
Columba came to Iona in a.d. 563.

'- Douan was also a disciple of Columba. He founded a Monastery in the
Island of Eigg, where he was put to death, together with his community of
about fifty persons, by a band of pirates, probably Picts from the neighbouring
i on the 17th of April, a.d. 617.


was forced to flee from his native country. Taking with him his
sister Kentigerna and her three sons, one of whom was the cele-
brated St Fillan, he sailed for Scotland, and eventually settled in
Lochalsh, where he led a religious and ascetic life, and lived to an
old age. He is said to have died in Lochalsh, and to have been
buried in Iona. St Fillan afterwards built a Church in Lochalsh,
and dedicated it to his uncle Congan. It was called in Gaelic,
Kilchoan, that is, St Congan's Church, and stood very near the
present site of the Parish Church.

St Fillan, whose name is associated with Kintail, flourished
early in the eighth century. He was the son of an Irish nobleman
called Feradach, by Kentigerna, sister of St Congan, and fled with
his uncle from Ireland to Lochalsh, as already stated. The chief
scene of this Saint's labour, however, was in Perthshire, but tradi-
tion says that, in addition to the church he built in Lochalsh, he
built another at Kilellan (Fillan's Church), in Kintail, which, as the
name implies, was called after himself. There is a burying-place still
at Kilellan, and there is a local tradition that St Fillan himself was
buried there. It is said that, when he felt his end was drawing
near, he went to Iona, and there died, kneeling before the high
altar. His body was then sent in a birlinn or galley to Kintail,
and buried at Kilellan under a sod that had been brought from

The next Saint whose name enters prominently into the tradi-
tions of Kintail is St Duthac, to whom the old Parish Church at
Kilduich was dedicated. He was Bishop of Ross, and flourished
about the middle of the thirteenth century. His name is asso-
ciated more especially with Tain, which in Gaelic is called Bailie
Dhuthich, that is, Duthac's Town. The Kintail tradition is that
Farquhar Mac an t' Shagairt, Earl of Ross, who founded the
Abbey of Fearn, and died in 1257, sent two Irish monks to Kin-
tail to minister to the spiritual wants of the people. One of these
was Duthac, who had charge of the north side of Lochduich,
which has ever since been so called after him. The other monk
was called Carrac, and had charge of the south side. The two
monks used to meet together from time to time at the west end of
the Loch. On one occasion, at the time of driving their cattle to
the Sheiling, they arranged that on the way they should hold a
meeting at the usual place, but when Duthac arrived there he


found Carrac lying dead on the knoll where they used to meet,
and which still bears Cansc'a name. Duthac was so grieved at
the death of his friend that he did not care to live in Kintail any
longer. It was then he went to Tain, where, we are told, he
"taught publicly with all gentleness," and became noted for his
miraculous powers. His day was celebrated on the 8th of March,
aud his shrine at Tain became a famous resort for pilgrims. How
far these Kintail legends may have any foundation in fact it is, of
course, impossible to say. The legend of the death and burial of
St Fillan, probably refers to some other ecclesiastic who may have
been connected with the old church at Kilellan, but the name of
St Fillan was such an honoured one in Kintail ' that it would not
be surprising if legends of other saints gradually gathered around
it. There is no reason to believe that St Fillan was buried in
Kintail. There were other early Celtic ecclesiastics of the name
Fillan, but they do not appear to have been connected with
Kintail. Some trace of another Saint survives in the place name,
Killechuinard, 2 on the south side of Lochduich, where the remains
of some ruins aud of a disused burial-place are still to be seen,
but of their history nothing appears to be known beyond a vague
tradition that a monastery once stood there.

The stronghold of Ellandonan, around which most of the
history of Kintail centres, is believed to have been built in the
time of Alexander II., 3 who reigned from 1214 to 1249, as a place

1 Page 291.

2 It is difficult to say which Saiut it was whose name is here preserved.
A certain Cyneheard was Bishop of Winchester from 754 to 780, and there is
some record also of a Scottish Monk or Abbot called Kineard, who visited
Gaul with the great British scholar, Alcuin, about the end of the eighth
century, and wrote a life of Charlemagne. It is more likely, however, that
Cille-Chuinard means the Church of Donort, which in Gaelic would be Cille-
Dhoinort, and would be pronounced almost exactly the same as Cille Chuinard.
Donort was Abbot of the great Celtic Monastery of Murthlac, in Banffshire,
from about 1056 to 1098. According to some authorities, there was for some
time a Diocese of Murthlac, of which Donort was Bishop. It is on record that
at the beginning of the twelfth century King David I. of Scotland gave to the
newly-formed Bishopric of Aberdeen five churches which had been founded by
the missionary zeal of the Monks of Murthlac, and which had belonged to their
monastery. It is quite possible that one of those churches, dedicated to
Donort, may have stood on the spot now known as Killechuinard.

3 See page 293 for the Kintail legend of the Building of Ellandonan


of defence against the Danes. At that time Kintail formed part
of the Earldom of Ross, and is said to have been inhabited by
three different tribes — the Mac Beolans, who inhabited Glensheil
and the south side of Lochduich and Lochalsh, as far as Kylerea ;
the Mac Ivors, who inhabited Glenlic ; and the Mac Thearlichs,
who inhabited Gleuelchaig. 1 Sometime during the latter part of
the thirteenth century, the Earl of Ross appointed a kinsman of
his own, called Kenneth, to the government of Ellandonan Castle,
which is said to have been garrisoned by a number of Macraes and
Maclenuans. Kenneth was an able and ambitious man, and,
having quarrelled with the Earl of Ross, whom he set at defiance
during the unsettled times which followed the death of King
Alexander III., in 1286, he succeeded in establishing himself in a
position of independence as lord and ruler of Kintail. It is said
that he ruled well, and that his influence was felt over most of the
Western Isles. He died in 1304, and was buried in Iona. He
was the founder of the great Clan Mackenzie, and from him they
derive their name. 2 The Earls of Ross, however, still continued
superiors of the lands of Kintail, as part of their Earldom, and the
Mackenzies occujjied the lands and the Castle as their vassals for
about two hundred years. King Robert Bruce confirmed to the
Earl of Ross all his lands, including Borealis Ergadia, that is,
North Argyle, as the west of Ross, Lochalsh and Kintail included,
was then called. We find many other references to the over-
lordship of the Earls of Ross until 1463, when Alexander Mac-
kenzie, sixth of Kintail, obtains a charter direct from the Crown.

Meantime we find various contemporary references to the
circumstances and affairs of Kintail. In 1331, Randolph, Earl of
Moray, who was then Warden of Scotland, despatched a Crown
officer to Ellandonan to prepare the Castle for his reception and
to arrest misdoers. Fifty of these misdoers were put to death,
and their heads were exposed on the top of the Castle walls.
As Randolph sailed up towards the Castle in his barge
and saw those heads, he declared, in his zeal for the cause
of law and order, that he loved better to look upon them
then than on any garland of roses he had ever seen. 3 In

1 Mackenzie's History of the Mackeuzies, New Edition, page 45.

Online LibraryAlexander MacraeHistory of the clan Macrae with genealogies → online text (page 23 of 35)