Alexander Macrae.

History of the clan Macrae with genealogies online

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which was then a very important place and much
frequented, " the first thing he did was to call his
landlord the vintner, and with him pitched upon
and agreed for the hogshead of wine that pleased
him best, resolving to drink it all with his acquaint-
ances before he left the town." He was on very
friendly terms with Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat,
commonly called Donald Gorm Mor, grandson of
Donald Gorm, who was killed by Christopher's father
at the siege of Ellandonan Castle in 1539. This
Sir Donald was married to a sister of Kenneth, Lord
Kintail, and being on one occasion in the South,
along with his lady, he was detained there much
longer than he expected, with the result that he
ran short of money. There were no banking trans-


actions in those clays, and the credit of Highland
Chiefs, at all event in the South, was not always
good. In consequence of all this, Sir Donald was
obliged to go home for more money in order to
enahle his lady to travel in a manner suitable to
her rank, and meantime she remained behind in
Perth, to await the return of her husband. It so
happened, however, that Christopher was at this
time in the South with cattle, and hearing that
Lady Macdonald, the sister of his own Chief, was
in Perth, he went to pay her his respects. On
learning the cause of her delay, he told her that he
had with him money and men enough to meet all
expenses, and to escort her safely and suitably to
her home, if she would do him the honour of
accepting his services. Christopher's offer was
gladly accepted, and starting immediately for the
North, they arrived at Sleat the next day after Sir
Donald himself. Sir Donald, who was greatly sur-
prised and much delighted, persuaded Christopher
to remain with him for some days, with the result
that a fast friendship was established between the
two families, notwithstanding the fact that on one
occasion during the visit, while the cups were
circulating far too freely, Christopher made an ill-
timed reference to the death of Donald Gorm, and
so greatly roused the resentment of some of the
Macdonalds who were present, that they would
probably have killed him but for the interference
and protection of his host. Christopher was after-
wards greatly ashamed of what he said, and Sir
Donald and he continued to be very fast friends.


Christopher married a daughter of the Rev. Mur-
doch Murchison, 1 Priest of Kintail, and Constable of
Ellandonan Castle, who died in 1618, and by her
he had seven sons, all of whom were prosperously
settled before the death of their father.

1. Duncan, called Uonnacha Mac Gillechriosd,
is said to have been one of the biggest and strongest
men in the Highlands. " He was equal in height
and bulk of body" to John Grant, the contemporary
Laird of Glenmoriston, commonly called Ian Mor a
Chasteil (Big John of the Castle). 2 We are told
that Duncan could pass through the doorway of the
Church at Kintail only by turning sideways, and it
appears, from what the clan historian relates of
him, that he was no less remarkable for his prowess
and force of character than for his bodily size.
" He was a stout, forward, and bloody man, and
delighted much in arms."

The following incident, which is related of
Duncan, not only shows the pleasure which he
himself found in fighting, but the light-heartediiess
and delight with which the Highlanders of those
days joined in any affray, whether they were con-
cerned in the quarrel or not. On a certain occasion
Duncan and another Kintail man, called Ian Og
Mac Fhionnla Dhuibh (Young John, the son of
Black Finlay), Avere in the Isle of Skye buying
horses. On their way home, by the Coolin Hills,
they observed bands of Macleods and Macdonalds,

l See Footnote, page 56.
2 For an interesting account of Ian Mor a Chasteil, who was Laird of
Glenmoriston from 1581 to 1637, see Mackay's Urquhart and Glenmoriston —
page 125.


between whom there was a feud at the time,
gathering together and making preparations for
battle. Neither Duncan nor John was in any way
concerned in the quarrel, but Duncan thought
that such an opportunity of exercising themselves
in the art of war was too good to be thrown away,
and he easily persuaded his companion to join in
the fight. In order to avoid every appearance
of injustice or partiality they resolved to take
sides. John joined the Macleods, because his
mother was of that clan, while Duncan joined
the Macdonalds, and was no doubt very glad to
do so because of the friendship which had been
established between his father and their Chief.
Duncan had the support of a powerful servant,
who managed to get possession of a pass across
a rough stream for which both parties were con-
tending. This position he held against the Mac-
leods until the Macdonalds came up in full force,
with the result that the Macleods were defeated
with great slaughter. Tradition relates that this
was a very fierce and deadly struggle, and a
large flag-stone, which was covered with blood
at the close of the fight, is still pointed out and
known as Leac na falla 1 (the flag-stone of blood).
As soon as the victory was decided, Duncan,
who received the hearty thanks of the Macdonalds,
went in search of his companion, John Og, and,
when he found him, they resumed and continued
their homeward journey as if nothing had hap-

1 The fight at Leac ua falla has been powerfully depicted ou canvas
by the well-known Highland artist, Mr Lockhart Bogle.


pened. Both had the good fortune to escape
without hurt or wound. Such were the stern
amusements in which our bold Highland forefathers
took most delight.

In his youth Duncan took a prominent part in
the great Glengarry feud. On one occasion, during
the temporary absence of Kenneth, Lord Kintail,
in Mull, Angus Og, son and heir of Macdonald of
Glengarry, and one of the bravest and most daring
of all his warriors, made a raid on Lochcarron in
November, about 1602, and put to death as many
of Kintail' s supporters — men, women, and children
— as he could lay hold of, seized the cattle and
drove them to Slumbay on the north coast of
Lochcarron, where his followers had left their boats.
Meantime news of the raid reached Kintail, and a
number of men immediately set out for Lochcarron,
but before they arrived Angus Og had already put
out to sea, and was beyond reach even of their
arrows. The Kintail men now returned to Ellan-
donan, but a few of the swiftest runners among
them took the shortest cut to Inverinate, where
they launched a newly-built twelve-oared galley
belonging to Duncan's father, and proceeded with
all speed to Ellandonan, their plan being, if possible,
to intercept Angus Og before he could pass through
Kylerea. At Ellandonan they found Kintaii's lady
superintending preparations for the expedition.
The galley was quickly manned by eighteen of the
best and the bravest men available, besides the
rowers, and placed under the command of Duncan.
They had also a small boat to attend on them, and


on board the galley they had two small brass
cannons and some ammunition, which the lady served
out with her own hands, and before they started
she gave them an eloquent exhortation to play their
part bravely, and to maintain the honour of their
clan and their absent Chief like good and true men.
She then mounted the Castle wall and watched
them as they sailed away under cover of the fast
gathering shades of the winter night.

They had not gone far when they met a boat
coming to tell them that the Macdonalds were at
Kyleakin, apparently waiting for the turn of the
tide to help them through Kylerea, where the tidal
current is usually so strong that a boat can make
little headway against it. Shortly afterwards there
passed by the Kintail men, without observing them,
a small boat which they concluded to have been
sent on by the Macdonalds to see whether Kylerea
was clear. They allowed this boat to pass un-
challenged lest any alarm should be raised. It was
a calm moonlight night, with a covering of snow on
the ground, which added to the light and made it
easy to sail about even in narrow waters. The
Kintail men, therefore, decided to direct their course
at once towards the fleet of the Macdonalds, and
having filled their row-locks with seaweed to pre-
vent the pulsing noise of their oars, they steered
towards Kyleakin. As they approached the Cail-
leach Rock, which lies off the coast of Skye, and not
far from the Lochalsh end of Kylerea, they observed
the first of Macdouald's galleys drawing near. They
soon discovered that this was Angus Og's great


thirty-two oared galley, sailing some distance ahead
of the rest of his fleet with " his best men and
gentlemen " on board. Upon observing the Kintail
galley, which was quickly approaching him, Angus
challenged it two or three times, but the only answer
he received was a broadside from the brass cannon,
which, breaking some of the oars, disabled his galley
and threw it on the Cailleach Rock. His men, think-
ing they were driven ashore, crowded on to the rock.
When they discovered their mistake, and found a
stretch of water lying between them and the main-
land, they became completely confused and fell easy
victims to their assailants. Some of them at-
tempted to escape by swimming, but they no sooner
reached the shore than they were dispatched by
men whom Duncan landed by the little boat for
that purpose. Angus had about sixty men on
board his galley, every one of whom was either
killed or drowned. He himself was taken on board
the Kintail boat alive, but was mortally wounded in
the head and in the body, and died before the
morning. The remainder of his fleet, to the number
of about twenty galleys, hearing the sudden uproar
and firing at the Cailleach Rock, turned back in
confusion, and landing on the coast of Skye they
made their way to Sleat, and thence crossed to the
Mainland. " At this skirmish or little sea fight,"
says the Rev. John Macrae in his history of the
Mackenzies, " not one drop of blood was shed of the
Kintail men's, except of one called John Gauld Mac
Fhionnla Dhuibh (John the Stranger, son of Black
Finlay), whose dirk, being sli}3pery with blood, ran


through his fist and cut his four ringers. Certainly
their skill and dexterity in that expedition and
their unexpected victory and success ought not to
be ascribed to them, but to God, whose vengeance
justly followed those persons for their bloody
murders of men, women, and children, and who can
make any instrument prove powerful and effectual
to bring His own purpose to pass."

Meantime Lady Mackenzie was anxiously wait-
ing at Ellandonan for the result of the expedition.
She heard the tiring of the cannon in the night, and
from this she concluded that an engagement had
taken place. At daybreak she saw her protectors
returning, leading Angus Og's great galley along with
them. She rushed down to the shore to salute them,
and when she inquired if everything had gone well
with them, Duncan replied, " Yes, madam, and we
have brought you, without the loss of a single man,
a new guest whom we hope is welcome to you."
On looking into the galley she at once recognised
the body of Angus Og of Glengarry, and immedi-
ately gave orders that it should be properly attended
to. On the following day Angus Og was buried in
a manner suitable to his rank at Kilduich, in the
same grave as some of Lady Mackenzie's own
children. The common tradition in Kintail used
to be that he was buried in the doorway of the
church at Kilduich, but in a MS. history of the
Mackenzies, written about the middle of the seven-
teenth century, 1 and which may be regarded as

l This MS., which is frequently quoted in Mackenzie's History of the

Mackenzies as the " Ancient MS.," together with llev. John Macrae's History


conclusive on this point, the writer tells us that
to say he was buried in the church door is a
" malicious lie," because he himself had seen " the
head raised out of the same grave and returned
again, wherein there were too small cuts, noways

Duncan, like his father, appears to have engaged
in cattle dealing, and from the record of a meeting
of the Privy Council held in Edinburgh on the
11th December, 1600, it appears that at the Fair
of Elcyht (Alyth?), on the 1st of November, 1599,
he was robbed by a certain Oliver Ogilvy and
others of twenty-six cows and four hundred silver
marks. Duncan died without male issue, but left
several daughters.

2. The Eev. Farquhar, second son of Chris-
topher, will be mentioned hereafter.

3. The Rev. John, third son of Christopher
VI., was "a man of an able and strong body, a
sharp and sagacious mind, and somewhat more
curious in his learning than his elder brother, Mr
Farcpihar." Mr John was governor or tutor to
Colin Mackenzie, first Earl of Seaforth, at the Uni-
versity of Edinburgh, and appears to have gained
a great influence over his pupil, whose " early and
unexpected death (in 1633) did so dispirit him that
he afterwards lived in the Highlands more obscurely
than was expected of him." He also studied medicine,
and left behind him a great reputation among his

of the Mackenzie.?, which is known as the Ardintoul MS., form the chief
authorities for this account of the death of Angus Og.


own countrymen for his skill as a physician. He
was married to a daughter of Dugald Matheson of
Balmacarra, and lived to a great age. He left
three sons — Christopher, Donald, and Duncan. The
following extract, from the Rev. John Macrae's
history, is interesting as showing what an expen-
sive luxury tohacco was in the days of Mr John : —
" I remember that after Mr John's death, when his
friends were examining his papers, there was among
them a letter directed to him at Edinburgh from
Alexander Mackenzie, the first of the family of
Kilcoy, and son of Colin Cam, XI. of Kintail,
telling he had received the pound of tobacco sent
him, and blaming Mr John for not sending him
more of it, as he got it so cheap as twenty pounds
Scots the pound," that is £1 13s 4d sterling. It
need hardly be added that this sum meant much
more then than it does now.

4. FlNLAY, fourth son of Christopher VI., and
VII. from Finlay Dubh Mac Gille Chriosd, is said
to have been a handsome man, and of good ability
according to the education he received. He was
frugal and industrious, and left considerable means
to his children. He did not live long, but left
four sons, the eldest of whom was

(viii.) Donald, called Domhnull Dubh. He is
spoken of as an able, strong man, of good sense,
and well to live. He had five sons and three
daughters —

(1.) Christopher, "a well-humoured, free-hearted
gentleman," died young and without issue.

(2.) Donald, mentioned below,


(3.) FlNLAY.

(4.) Duncan.

(5.) Farquhar.

(6.) A daughter, who married Alexander Macrae
of Achyark, son of Alexander of Inverinate.

(7.) Margaret, who married Farquhar, son of
Alexander of Inverinate.

(8.) A daughter, who married Alexander, brother-
german of Murdoch Mackenzie of Fairburn.

(ix.) Donald, son of Donald Dubh, was called
Donald Og (Donald the Younger). He is said to
have been well known in the North, and in many-
parts of the South, for an "affable, generous gentle-
man." He was endowed with great natural parts
and ready wit, and though he got little education,
he was Chamberlain of Kintail for several years,
and discharged the duties of the post with exact-
ness and success. He married, first, Anne, daughter
of Alexander Macrae of Inverinate, who died within
a year of her marriage, without issue. He married,
secondly, Isabel, daughter of John Grant of Corri-
mony, by whom he had several sons and daughters,
though the names of only three are recorded —

(1.) Alexander, for whom he made liberal pro-

(2.) The Rev. Finlay, mentioned below.

(3.) The Rev. Duncan, who was a youth of great
promise, and an eloquent preacher. He was edu-
cated at Aberdeen, and was tutor in the family of
Mackenzie of Findon, where he died in November,
1690. He was buried in Dingwall.

(x.) The Rev. Finlay, second son of Donald Og,


was educated at St Leonard's College, St Andrews,
and obtained his degree on the 24th July, 1679.
He officiated for a time in the Island of Cumbray,
in the Firth of Clyde, which he left at the time
of the Revolution in 1G88. He was afterwards
presented to the parish of Lochalsh by Frances,
Countess of Seaforth, in 1G95. Being a strong
Jacobite and Episcopalian, he refused to conform
to Presbytery, or to take the prescribed oaths, and
was consequently looked upon as an intruder by
the Presbyterians. In 1715 he strongly urged his
parishioners to take up arms on behalf of the House
of Stuart, under William, Earl of Seaforth, and it
was, no doubt, to some extent owing to his influ-
ence that so many of the men of Lochalsh joined
in that rising. His sympathy with the House of
Stuart cost him his parish, of which he was de-
prived on the 21st September, 1716. The Rev. ,
Finlay is said to have been "a great philosopher
and divine, a clear preacher, of ministerial and
dignified appearance, and much given to hospitality
and charity." He married Margaret, daughter of
Duncan Macrae of Inverinate, with issue, and died
not later than 1728, as his son, John, was served
heir on the 15th October of that year. So far as
it can now be traced, the succession of the Rev.
Finlay is as follows —

(1.) John, mentioned below.
(2.) Hector, who was tacksman of Ardelve, and
was alive in 1761, as he is said to have been tutor
or guardian to the family of John Macrae of
Conchra, who died in that year.


(3.) Donald, called Donald Bane, married Bar-
bara Macrae, widow of John, son of the Rev.
Donald Macrae of Kintail, with issue —

(a.) Finlay, called Finlay Fadoch, a well-known
schoolmaster in Fadoch, and afterwards in Ardelve,
about the close of the last and beginning of the
present century. He afterwards went, when a
very old man, to America. He married a daughter
of John Macrae (Ian Mac Mhurachaidh), the Kin-
tail poet, and had issue — («1) Duncan, born 1803 ;
(«2) Anne, who married Duncan Macrae, Drudaig,
and went to America ; («3) Barbara, who married
Kenneth Mackenzie, Lochcarron, with issue — Ken-
neth, Malcolm, and Thomas.

(b.) Jane, who married Murdoch Macrae, who
had a son, Malcolm, who married Janet Macrae
and had a son, John, now living at Dornie, and a
daughter, Isabella, married to Roderick Matheson at
Totaig Ferry.

(4.) Marion, daughter of the Rev. Finlay, married
John Matheson, and had, with other issue, a son,

(a.) Alexander, who was for some years tenant of
Reraig, in Lochalsh, and afterwards merchant and
schoolmaster at Dornie. He married Catherine
Matheson of the Bennetsfield family, and had with
other issue —

(al.) John, who married Isabella, daughter of
Donald Macrae, and had a large family, of whom
are Alexander Matheson, shipowner, and Betsie
Matheson, shopkeeper, both living at Dornie.

(a2.) Farquhar, who married Isabella, daughter
of Kenneth Mackenzie, Kishorn, of the Applecross


family, and had a large family, one of whom is
Kenneth Matheson, merchant, Salen, in Argyllshire,
who is married, with issue. Another is the well-
known Dr Farquhar Matheson, of London. After
studying at the Universities of Glasgow and Aber-
deen, and graduating in medicine, Dr Farquhar
Matheson went as a young man to London, where
he has risen to eminence in his profession, and is
particularly recognised as an experienced and skil-
ful specialist in diseases of the ear, nose, and throat.
He is one of the surgeons to the Royal Ear and
Throat Hospital, London. For many years he has
been one of the best known and most influential
Highlanders in London, and is at the present time
(1896) President of the Gaelic Society of London,
Joint Secretary of the Highland Society, Governor
and Surgeon to the Royal Scottish Hospital, a
Justice of the Peace for the County of London, and
a Fellow of several learned and scientific Societies.
Dr Matheson is married and has issue, two daugh-
ters, Isabel and Barbara, and a son, Farquhar, at
present a student of Cambridge University.

(a3). Margaret married Farquhar Matheson, and
had, with other issue, a daughter, Margaret, who
married Duncan Matheson, innkeeper, Dornie, and
had issue : — Donald, now living in Glasgow, married
Christina Macpherson, with issue ; Farquhar, now
living at Dornie, married Jane Macrae (Auchtertyre
family) ; Mary married Andrew Ross ; Margaret
married Farquhar Macrae now living at Inversheil. 1

1 This statement of the descendants of Marion, daughter of the Rev.
Finlay Macrae, is taken from a full and interesting account of her descendants,
given to the author by the above-mentioned Miss Betsie Matheson of Dornie,
in August, 1896.


(5). Isabel, who married Duncan, son of Alex-
ander Macrae of Conchra, with issue.

(xi). John, eldest son of the Rev. Finlay, was
served heir on the 15th October, 1728. Tradition
says he was one of the best swordsmen of his
time in the Highlands, 1 and he appears to have been
a man of mark in his own country. He had a son —

(1). Alexander, who married, as his first wife,
Isabella Macrae, and had issue,

(a). Hector married Anne Macrae, with issue ;
Alexander, now a blacksmith at Bundalloch, married
with issue; and John, who died about 1890, leaving

(b). Isabella.

Alexander, son of John, son of the Rev. Finlay,
married, as his second wife, Kate Macrae, and had

(c). Duncan, who married Flora, daughter of John
Macrae by his wife, Catherine, daughter of John
Og, son of the Rev. Donald Macrae of Kintail, and
by her had issue— (cl) John, married with issue, in
America ; (c2) Alexander, who died unmarried ;
(c3) Donald, now living at Fadoch, married a
daughter of the late Alexander Macrae, commonly
known as Alister Mor na Pait (Big Alexander of
Patt), and has issue : — Duncan, Helen, Alexander,
John, now living in London, and by whom this
statement of the descendants of his grandfather,
Duncan, was given to the author in November, 1896.
Catherine, Duncan, Farquhar, James, Donald,
Flora ; (c4) Anne, married with issue, in America ;

1 See chapter on legends and traditions of the clan.


(c5) Isabella ; (c6) Flora ; (c7) Helen, married in
Strathglass ; (c8) Catherine, married Donald Mac-
donald, with issue —

(d). John; (e). Farquhar, married with issue, and
went to America ; ( f). Mary ; (g). Catherine ; (h).

5. Maurice, fifth son of Christopher VI., is
said to have been a strong and industrious man,
who loved Kintail better than any other place.
He had advantageous oilers from Earl Colin to go
to Kinlochewe ; but he would not go, and the Earl,
appreciating his devotion to his native place, gave
him his choice of a tack in it. He was a man of
means, and gave money to the Laird of Chisholm,
for which he and his successors had grazing in Glen
Affric till the principal was paid. Maurice was
drowned in Strathglass on his way home from
Inverness, and was buried in Kintail. He left

G. Christopher, sixth son of Christopher VI.,
was called Christopher Og. He left sons and

7. Donald, seventh son of Christopher VI., was
called Domhnull na Smurich, 1 or Domhnull Beg.
He was of short stature, " but so remarkable for
strength and nimbleness that few would venture
to compete with him, since all that did were worsted
in such exercises as required strength and dexterity.
He was a great drover, lived well but not long, and
left no male issue."

1 Smurich, genitive of smuracli, which means dross or dust.



VII. Rev. Farquliar Macrae. — Birth. — Education. — Scholarship. —
Chosen to be one of the Regents of Edinburgh University. —
Appointment opposed by Lord Kintail. — Headmaster of Fort-
rose Grammar School. — Admitted to Holy Orders. — Appointed
Vicar of Gairloch. — Ironworks in Gairloch. — Sir George Hay
aud Mr Farquhar. — Sir George appointed High Chancellor
of Scotland, and created Earl of Kinnoull. — His subsequent

Online LibraryAlexander MacraeHistory of the clan Macrae with genealogies → online text (page 4 of 35)