Alexander Macrae.

History of the clan Macrae with genealogies online

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2 Appendix G. 3 Sir Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather,


1503, Alexander Gordon, Earl of Huntly, undertook to reduce
Ellandonan and other castles on the west coast " for the daunting
of the Isles," and to furnish or raise men to keen them when
reduced, King James IV. engaging to provide a ship and artillery
for the purpose. In 1504 there was a general insurrection in the
Highlands, which it took the King's forces two years to quell, and
in the course of which Ellandonan Castle was occupied by the
Earl of Huntly. In 1539, Donald Gorm Macdonald of Sleat
invaded the country and attempted to take the castle, but was
killed during the siege by a Macrae, called Duncan Mac Gille-
chriosd. 1 Donald Gorm and his followers succeeded, however, in
setting fire to the castle, for we find that in 15-11 James V.
granted remission to Donald's accomplices for their treasonable
burning of the Castle of Ellandonan and the boats there. The
great feud which broke out between Kintail and Glengarry about
1580, and in which the Macraes took such a leading part, has been
already referred to. 2 This feud, which lasted for about twenty-
five years, ended in the complete discomfiture of Glengarry, whose
possessions in Lochcarron and Lochalsh were made over to Kintail
by a Crown charter in 1607. The House of Kintail had now
practically reached the zenith of its greatness.

Meantime the Barons of Kintail and their people took a pro-
minent part iu the national affairs of Scotland. John, the second
Baron of Kintail, fought on the side of Bruce at Bannockburn,
and is said to have had a following of five hundred men. John
of Killiu, ninth Baron, who was one of the Privy Councillors of
James V., fought with his followers at Floddeu in 1513, and at
Pinkie in 1547. Colin, the eleventh Baron, fought as a young
man at the head of his vassals on the side of Queen Mary at the
battle of Langside in 1568.

In the unsettled times of the reign of Charles I., with whose cause
George, second Earl of Seaforth, finally cast in his lot, the men of
Kintail played an important part. Seaforth fought at the battle
of Auldearn in 1645, nominally against Montrose, but it had been
arranged beforehand that his men should retire without fighting,
and that Montrose should be allowed an easy victory. 8 Shortly
afterwards Seaforth publicly avowed himself a supporter of Mon-

i Page 25. - Chapter III. 3 Page 886.


trose, who was then joined by a large number of the men of
Kintail. Henceforth the people of Kintail continued to be staunch
supporters of the House of Stuart until the final defeat at Culloden
in 17-45. In 1650 the Parliament placed a garrison in Ellandonan
Castle to overawe the country, but the insolence of the soldiers
becoming intolerable, they were summarily turned out by the
people, and no attempt was made to restore or to replace them. 1
A number of Kintail men fought on the Royalist side at Wor-
cester in 1651. In 1654, on the 26th of June, General Monk,
Cromwell's lieutenant in Scotland, visited Kintail with an army,
and remained there for two or three days. The names of the
places mentioned in the account of his visit at the time were
evidently written by men who knew no Gaelic, and are not exsily
identified now. One Kintail man was killed by the soldiers, 2 the
houses and huts were burnt wherever they went, and a large
spoil of cattle was taken by them, 3 " which made some part
of amends for the hard march." 4

A large number of Macraes took part in the rising of 1715,
and suffered heavily at the battle of Sheriffmuir. Tradition
relates that this battle made fifty-eight widows in Kintail. The
Macraes of Kintail and the Mathesons of Lochalsh were in the
centre of the second line of Mar's army, and a writer of the last
century says that they were the only part of Seaforth's men that
behaved well at Sheriffmuir, for when the rest ran away the
Macraes and Mathesons held their ground until a large number of
them was left dead on the field. 5 The same writer, who was a

1 Page 195. °- Page 31. 3 p age 63.

* The events which led to Monk's visit to Kintail were as follows : — In
1653 a Stuart rising took place in the Highlands under the Earl of Glencairn,
whose place was soon taken by General Middleton. It was to quell this rising
that Monk made his march through the Highlands in 1654. Having heard
that Middleton was in Kintail, Monk led his forces there, only to find, on
arriving, that Middleton had left the day before and gone to Glenelg. Monk
did not follow Middleton to Glenelg, but plundered the people of Kintail and
then departed by way of Gleustrathfarrar. The rising shortly afterwards
collapsed. For a more detailed account of General Monk's visit to Kiutail,
see a paper by Mr William Mackay in Volume xviii. (1S92) of the Transactions
of the Gaelic Society of Inverness.

5 The Highlands of Scotland in 1750, from a MS. in the British Museum,
with introduction by Andrew Lang.


bigoted Whig, and very much biased in most of his remarks On
the Jacobite clans, tells us that the common people in Kintail are
" the Macraes, who are by far the most fierce, warlike, and
strongest men under Seaforth." He then goes on to say that
until quite recently the Macraes were little better than heathen
and savages, but his only excuse for such a statement seems to have
been his Whig prejudices, and his desire to make it appear that, as a
result of Whig influences in Kintail, there was a ".surprising
alteration in the people even in point of common civility, decency,
and cleanliness." As a matter of fact, there was hardly any
district in the Highlands where Whig influences made way more
slowly than in Kintail.

Early in 1719, Cardinal Alberoni, Prime Minister of Spain,
with which country we were then at war, fitted out a power-
ful expedition under the Duke of Ormonde 1 to support the
Jacobite cause in the Highlands of Scotland. But scarcely had
the expedition left the coast of Spain when it was overtaken by a
terrible storm in the Bay of Biscay. The storm lasted for twelve
days, and so completely dispersed the fleet that only two vessels
were able to reach Scotland. These two vessels had on board the
Earl of Seaforth, the Earl Marischal, the Marquis of Tulli-
bardine, and about three hundred Spaniards, with arms and
ammunition for two thousand men. They landed in Kintail on
the 5th of April, and encamped on the mainland opposite to
Ellandonan. Here they lay quiet for some time in the hope that
Ormonde might still be able to effect a landing, but they were
soon joined by several Highlanders, including the famous Rob Roy
Macgregor and a party of his followers.

Shortly afterwards three ships of war — the Worcester, the
Enterprise, and the Flamborough — sailed up Lochalsh under the
command of Captain Boyle of the Worcester. On the 10th of May,
early in the morning, Captain Boyle drew up the Worcester and
the Enterprise in front of Ellandonan Castle, which was garrisoned
by forty-five Spaniards, commanded by Irish officers, and at nine

1 James Butler, Duke of Ormonde, a distinguished soldier of the reigns of
William III. and Anne. On the accession of George I. he embraced the cause
of the Stuarts, and was henceforth obliged to live abroad. Born, 1665 ; died,



o'clock sent his lieutenant with a boat under a flag of truce to
demand the surrender of the Castle, which was refused. About
four in the afternoon Captain Boyle was informed by a deserter
from the Jacobite side that the number of men in their camp
was more than four thousand, and was daily increasing. One
thousand would probably be nearer the truth. He there-
fore resolved to delay action no longer, and at eight o'clock
in the evening he opened upon the Castle " a great fire," under
cover of which he despatched two boats, manned and armed, under
two lieutenants, to whom the Spaniards, who had mutinied against
their officers, readily surrendered. To prevent the Jacobites,
whose camp lay near the Castle, from taking possession of it again,
Captain Herdman of the Enterprise was sent to blow it up. This
■duty he effectually performed after having first sent off the
prisoners with three hundred and forty-three barrels of gunpowder,
fifty-two barrels of musket shot, and some bags of meal. At the
same time he burnt several barns on the mainland near the Castle,
where quantities of corn had been stored for the use of the camp.
Such was the end of Ellandonan Castle.

Meantime Captain Hedesley of the FlaniDorough sailed up
Lochduich, where a large quantity of ammunition, belonging to
the Spaniards, was stored under a guard of thirty of their men,
but on his first appearance within sight the Spaniards set fire to
it. This store was situated at Loch nan Corr, near the site of the
Manse of Kiutail, and, for many years afterwards, cannon balls
and other relics of ammunition used to be found on the glebe in
great abundance. It was at the same time that the old church of
Kintail was destroyed, 1 the only possible excuse for such an act of
sacrilege being the fact that the incumbent of the parish was that
ardent Episcopalian and Jacobite, the Rev. Donald Macrae, who
was now an old man, and who died shortly afterwards. After
destroying the church, the troops landed, and, according to their
custom, plundered the unfortunate, defenceless people.

On hearing of these events, the Commander-in-Chief of the
Forces in Scotland ordered General Wightman, who was then
stationed at Inverness, to proceed to Kintail with the troops under
his command — about 1200, which included 136 Highlanders,

l Old Statistical Account.


chiefly Munros and Mackays. The Jacobite force consisted of about
1100, which included about 200 Spaniards.'

The battle was fought on the 10th of June, at a place now
called Eas-nau-arni (the waterfall of arms). The fighting began
at five o'clock in the afternoon, and lasted for about three
hours. The King's troops made three unsuccessful attempts to
dislodge the Highlanders, but in the fourth attack Seaforth was
wounded, and the heather in which the Highlanders were posted
having caught fire, they began to fall into a state of confusion.
Recognising the hopelessness of further resistance, the Highlanders
dispersed and retired to the mountains, and next morning the
Spaniards surrendered as prisoners of war. The King's troops
lost twenty-one killed, and one hundred and twenty-one wounded.
The loss of the Highlanders is not known, but was probably not
very heavy. Seaforth, Marischal, and Tullibardine, with the
other principal officers, succeeded in making their escape to the

Major-General Wightman spent some days in the neighbouring
country, plundering and burning the houses of the guilty, and
on the 28th of June ho writes from Lochcarron to say he is on his way
to Inverness. The local tradition of a Dutch Colonel, who was
killed in the battle, and whose ghost used to revisit the scene of
the conflict, appears to have no foundation in fact. The only
officer in the Royalist side who is returned as killed in the official
list of casualties is Captain Downes of Montagu's regiment, who
was buried on the south side of the river, and whose grave is still
pointed out. 2

After the Rebellion of 1715, the Seaforth estates, being for-
feited, were placed by Parliament under the management of the
Forfeited Estates Commissioners. The Commissioners did not
find their task an easy one, for the tenants as a rule adhered
loyally to their old landlords or chiefs, and refused to pay any rent
to the factors whom the Commissioners appointed. For several
years the Kintail rents were regularly paid to Seaforth 's Chamber
lain, Donald Murchison, who continued to scud them to his

1 Tullibardine, in a letter to the Earl of Mar, gives the number aa 1120,
including 200 Spaniards.

2 For a full account of the battle of Glensheil, see " The Jacobite Attempt
of 1719," edited for the Scottish History Society by W. K. Dickson.


on the Continent. At last two Whigs of
William Ross of Easter Fearn, and his brother, Robert Ross, a
Bailie of Tain — undertook to collect the rents on the estates of
Seaforth, Chisholm, and Glenmoriston, and started from Inverness
on the 13th September, 1721, with an escort of soldiers under
Lieutenant John Allardycc. Having visited Glenmoriston, they
proceeded to Strathglass and Kintail, but a young lad, Patrick
Grant, son of Ian a C'hragain, the Chief of Glenmoriston, took a
short route to Kintail, and informed Donald Murchison of the
approach of the Whig factors. Though Murchison had been " bred
a writer," he had also some military training, and held a Lieu-
tenant-Colonel's commission in the Jacobite army of 1715. Part of
the funds collected from the people he used in keeping on foot a
company of armed Highlanders, whom he always held in readiness
for the protection of Seaforth's interests in Lochalsh and Kintail.
With these and several other followers, amounting in all to 300
men, Murchison set out, accompanied by Patrick Grant, to meet
the Whig factors and their military escort. They met on the
2nd of October, at a place called Ath nam Muilach, a narrow pass
in the mountains beween Glenaffric and Kintail. After some
skirmishing, in which several were wounded, a meeting was ar-
ranged between Easter Fearn and Murchison, with the result that
the factors retreated, leaving their commission in Murchison's
hands, and promising, it is said, not to act again in the service of
the Commissioners. Among the wounded was Easter Fearn him-
self and his son Walter. The son died on the following morning,
and his body was carried by the soldiers to Beauly Priory for burial. 1
In the following month the Sheriff-Depute of Inverness held
Courts of Inquiry at Inverness with the view of ascertaining who
were Murchison's followers. Among the witnesses examined was a
soldier in the Royal Regiment of North British Fusiliers, called
Donald Macrae, who was one of the escort that accompanied the
factors, and who recognised from fifty to sixty Kintail men, whose
names and patronymics are stated in his evideuce. 2 They were

1 Fuller accounts of the affair of Ath nam Muilach are given iu Mackenzie's
History of the Mackenzie* (new edition), pp. 305-310; and Mackay's Urquhart
and Glenmoriston, pp. 235-236.

2 For a full account of these inquiries see a paper on " Donald Murchison
and the Factors on the Forfeited Estates," by William Mackay, published in
the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Iuverness, Vol. xix. (1893). See aleo
Appeudix M.


nearly all Macraes, most of them belonging to the chief families of
Kintail. Nothing appears to have come of this inquiry.

Shortly afterwards another attempt was made to obtain pus-
session of Seaforth's estate for the Government. A company of
soldiers, under Captain Macneill, formerly of the Highland Watch,
proceeded from Inverness to Kintail by Dingwall, Uarve, and
Lochcarron. But while crossing the hills of Attadale, between
Lochcarron and Lochalsh, they were met by Donald Murchison
and his dauntless followers at a place called the Coille Bharj (the
white wood). A skirmish ensued, in which one soldier was killed
and several wounded. Captain Macneill himself was severely
wounded, and, withdrawing his men, shortly afterwards made his
way back to Inverness as well as he could. 1 After this the
Forfeited Estates Commissioners appear to have made no further
attempt to collect rents in Kintail. -

In 1725 General Wade, 3 in his report to the King, states that
the Seaforths still pay their rents to Donald Murchison, and in the
same year the Forfeited Estates Commissioners report that they
had not sold the estate of William, Earl of Seaforth, as they had
not been able to obtain possession of it. The constant fighting in
which the men of Kintail had been engaged almost since 1640 told
against their material circumstances, and General Wade states, in

1 Mackenzie's History of the Macken/.ies (new edition), p. 811.

2 In Appendix H. will be found a list of the tenants on Seaforth's Kintail
estate in 1719 and 1756, and the rents they paid. Considering the high value
of money at those dates, it will be found that the difference between the rents
paid in the Highlands then and now was not so great as is generally supposed.

3 George Wade, Field Marshal of His Majesty's forces, and Privy
Councillor, was a distinguished soldier whose name is still well known in the
Highlands in connection with his roads and bridges. He joined the army in
1690, served in the Continental wars of his time, and eventually rose to I he
highest military rank. In 1724 he was appointed to a command in Scotland,
and while holding that command he employed his soldiers in making roads in
the Highlands. The roads gave rise to a famous couplet :—

If you had seen these roads before they were made,
You would hold up your hands aud bless General Wade.
In 1745 he commanded an army in the North of England to oppose the South-
ward march of the Highlanders, but was too old and infirm to be of much
service. He died in 1748, at the age of 80. Wade was an officer of great vigour
and sound judgment, and is well entitled to a high place among the chief
benefactors of the Highlands.


1725, that though they were formerly reputed the richest of any
tenants in the Highlands, they had now become poor through
neglecting their business and applying themselves to the use of
arms. Consequently they were no longer able to pay their rents
with their former readiness and regularity. In 1726 Seaforth was
pardoned for his share in the Rising of 1715, and permitted to
return to his native land. He received a grant of the feu-duties
due to the Crown out of his forfeited estates, which were held by
the Government until his death in 1741, when they were
purchased from the Crown — by his mother — for the benefit of his
son Kenneth, Lord Fortrose. 1

For some time after these events, the country enjoyed peace.
Law and order were more firmly established, and there was a
gradual return of prosperity. Simon, Lord Lovat, then an active
supporter of the Hanoverian Government, raised a company of
Highlanders to keep in check the Lochaber cattle lifters, and
Kintail profited to some extent from this protection. In 1722,
barracks was erected in Glenelg, and a few companies of soldiers
were usually stationed there until after the battle of Culloden,
when the building was gradually allowed to fall into disuse.
Shortly afterwards the country was opened up by one of General
Wade's military roads, running from Fort-Augustus to Glenmoris-
ton, thence down through Glensheil to the head of Lochduich,
and across the hills of Ratagan to Glenelg.

In 1726, as already stated, and while the Seaforth estates were
still in the hands of the Government, the south side of Kintail was
formed into the separate parish of Glensheil, and shortly after-
wards a Presbyterian minister — the Rev. John Beton — was
settled there in spite of considerable opposition from the people,
to whom Presbyterians and Whigs were equally hateful, but the

1 The restored Earl did not show Donald Murchison the gratitude to which
his loyal seryices entitled the latter. Donald shortly afterwards left the
country, and died in the prime of life near Conon. A monument erected to
his memory on the Lochalsh side of Kyleakiu bears the following inscription: —
" Tullochard. — To the memory of Donald Murchison, Colonel in the Highland
Army of 1715. He successfully defended and faithfully preserved the lands
of Kintail and Lochalsh from 1715 to 1722 for his Chief, William, the exiled
Earl of Seaforth. — Erected by his great-grand-nephew, Sir Roderick I. Murchi-
son, K.C.B.-1863."


Parish Church was not built until 1758. The old Parish Church
of Kintail was at this time vacant for several years. The Rot.
Donald Macrae, the last Episcopalian minister, died about 1721,
but his Presbyterian successor, the Rev. John Maclean, was not
appointed until 1730.

The Rising of 1745 brought fresh trouble upon Kintail.
Though Seaforth rcmaiued loyal to the House of Hanover, yet it
was well known that the sympathies of the people were on the
other side. Sheriffmuir and Glensheil were not yet forgotten. A
writer of the period 1 states that "some of the wild Macraes"
were out in that yerr, and there is a local tradition to the effect
that of those who joined in that rising not one ever again returned
to Kintail. After the battle of Culloden, Lord George Sackville -
entered Kintail by Glenaffric, and with the brutal cruelty so
characteristic both of himself and of his chief, the Duke of
Cumberland, plundered the defenceless people, and drove away a
large number of cattle and other booty. 3 In the course of his
wanderings after the defeat at Culloden, Prince Charles came to

1 The Highlands in 1750, edited by Andrew Lang.
2 The subsequent career of Lord George Sackville (born 1716, died 1785)
was far from creditable. He was in command of the British horse at the
battle of Minden in 1759, when his conduct was so unsatisfactory that he was
tried by Court-Martial and dismissed from the army. In 1775, under the
title of Lord Germaine, he became Secretary of State for the American
Colonies, and directed the American War, with the disastrous result that we lost
our American Colonies. The career of William, Duke of Cumberland (born
1721, died 1765), son of George II., was no less discreditable. In 1715 he was
in command of the British army which was defeated by the French in the
great battle of Fontenoy, in the Netherlands. Next year he defeated the
army of Prince Charles Edward at the battle of Culloden, after which he fixed
his headquarters at Fort-Augustus, and harried the neighbouring country with
every species of military execution. The barbarous cruelty with which he
treated the defenceless people gained for him the nickname of " The Butcher."
From Scotland he returned to the command of the army in the Netherlands,
and was again defeated in 1746 by the French, with great loss, at the battle
of Laufeldt. In the Seven Years' War he held an important command, and
suffered a great defeat at the battle of Hastenbach in 1757. Shortly after-
wards he made a humiliating surrender to the French at Klosterseven, for
which he was recalled and degraded from his rank in the army. Culloden
was his only victory, and the very fates seemed to exact grim vengeance for
the cruel and cowardly use he made of it.

3 Old Statistical Account of Kintail.


Glensheil on the 27th of July, 1746, and remained there until the
following afternoon. 1

With the defeat of Culloden it may be said of Kintail, as of
the rest of the Highlands, that the old order of things came to an
end, and began gradually to make way for the modern conditions
of life. There arose a greater security of life and property as
people learned to look to the law for protection rather than to the
sword. Cattle-lifting and clan feuds came to an* end, schools were
established, and means of communication with the great commer-
cial and industrial centres of the South greatly improved. But
although settled peace and security thus brought many benefits,
yet there came, on the other hand, many unavoidable social and
economic changes which did not always prove an unmixed

In the Old Statistical Accounts of Kintail, by the Rev. Roderick
Morrison, and of Glensheil, by the Rev. John Macrae, we have a
fairly full description of the circumstances of the country during
the fifty years following the battle of Culloden. About 1769-1774,
a large number of the people emigrated to America, chiefly to
Carolina. Their descendants are still numerous there and in the
neighbouring States, and many of them have since been honourably
associated with the affairs of their adopted country. These
emigrants belonged, as a rule, to the well-to-do farmers of the
country. They were not unfrequcntly young men to whom the idle
life imposed upon them by the peace and the altered conditions
which followed the battle of Culloden, was not always agreeable.
Many were prompted to seek new homes, partly by love of adven-
ture, and partly by a desire to share in the rumoured wealth of
the New World. It would seem, too, that even in those days the
rent question was not altogether free from difficulties, and that

Online LibraryAlexander MacraeHistory of the clan Macrae with genealogies → online text (page 24 of 35)