Angus Macdonald.

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and l)usiness capacity, and of tlie high estimation in
wliicli he was held i)y his neiglibours.

The restoration of Charles II. to the throne of
his ancestors, an event which occasioned gj-eat
rejoicing among royalists everywhere, can hardly
have been a welcome change to Sir James Macdonald
of Sleat. While his kinsman, Angus Macdonald of
Glengarry, was rewarded with a peerage, Sir James,
in consequence of his accpiiescence in the usurpation
of Cromwell, and especially for his su})posed luke-
warmness towards the cause of the exiled monarch,
was fined, it is said, in a lai'ge sum, at the instiga-
tion of the P^arl of Middleton. Middleton, according
to Douglas in his Peerage, got a grant of the fine.
Of this there is no evidence to be found in the
Charter C-hest of Sleat, although there is ample
evidence of many pecuniary transactions between
Middleton and Sir James, nor is any evidence of
such a fine having l>een imposed in the ])rocep'dings
of the Parliament held immediately after the
Restoration, which include a record of the fines and
forfeitures of the period. Whether Sir James
experienced the Kings (lis})leasure to the extent
of being fined at the Restoration or not, it is certain
that immediately tiiereafter he was so far favi ured
as to have received from Charles a Charter of Con-
firmation of" all his lands in Skye and Uist, dated
July 22nd, 1661.' As further evidence of the good
relations between him and the Government, he
received a commission in I Hi) 5 to appieiiend the
murderers of Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch and

' Sleat Charter Chest,


his brother, a service which was performed l)y a party
of Sir James's men from Skye and Uist, as already
related in the preceding volume of tliis work Foi-
his services on this occasion, Sir James received a
special letter of thanks from the Privy Council, and,
as a further proof of his being in high favour with
the Government, he was appointed Sheriff of the
Western Isles. ^

Sir James Macdonald's jurisdiction appears to
have extended beyond the bounds of the W(^stern
Isles. VVhether it was in acknowledofment of his
claim as chief of the whole Clan, or because he was
looked upon as the most prudent and capable among
the principal men of the name, or both, he was
certainly held responsible for the good behaviour of
the Clan in the Isles, and on the Mainland. And
the Clan was not at this time on its good behaviour,
especially on the Mainland. A desperate feud had
broken out between the Macdonalds and the
Camerons hi Lochaber, and both Sir James and
his son, Donald, were required to repair to Edin-
burgh to receive the Privy Council's instructions
with a view to a speedy termination of the quarrel
between the clansmen. Owing to tempestuous
weather and indisposition, Sir James failed to put
in an appearance at the Council meeting. Mean-
while Donald, younger of Slea':, is requested to
present before the Council the person of a notorious
clansman and Lochaber leader, known as the
" Halked Stirk." In due time Sir James succeeded
in restoring order in Lochaber, and the " Halked
Stirk," after being presented before the Council,
was liberated, though not without misgivings.- Sir
James further produced several persons of his name

^ Sleat Charter Chest. - Acts of Privy Council.


who were obliged to give their bond for the peace o
the Higlilands.' Tlu' LochalnT tnnibles had barely
been settled wlicii. in 1G74, 8ir James's services
were again in retjuisition as chief of the Clan. In
April of that year, a missive was directed l)y the
Privy Council to Sir James setting forth that it had
been represented to the Council that Alexander
Macdonald of Glencoe, who had been committed
})risoner within the Tolbooth of Inveraray by order
of the Earl of Argyle, had succeeded in effecting his
escaj)e. Glencoe, who was destined afterwards to
perish at the hands of the Cami)bells in the notorious
massacre, had been incarcerated for certain crimes
wliich are not specified. Since his escape from
prison, he is accused, with John Macdonald of
Achtriachatan, and their accomplices, of having
committed " several murders and depredations" in
the County of Argyle. Sir James Macdonald is
required by the Council to assist in apprehending
his clansmen, but nothing further is heard of them
in this connection. In the summer of 1G76, Sir
James's restless clansmen of Lochaber again broke
loose, and with their neighbours, the Camerons,
committed great depredations (mi the lands of the
Cam})bel]s in Pertlishire, but Sir James, although
ai)j)ealed to, does not appear to have exerted himself
in l)ringing tiiem to justice, and he now finally
disappears from public view.

Sir James Macdonald's latter days were some-
what clouded by domestic difliculties arising tlu'ough
the " irrecileable disseniones betwix him and his
sone Donald with the vast debtes upon the esteat."

For " eviteing these confusiones," the wadsetters,
who were almost all cadets of the family, banded

Acts ul I'rivy Cnuiicil.


theiiiselvea U>getlier, Miid drew out, and signed a
formal document dated February 1, 1678, in terms
of which they resolve " before God Almightie with
all singleness of heart and without any mentall
reservation or equivocation qt. somever" to preserve
the estate. Besides their loyal desire to preserve
the estate for the family, these wadsetters had
themselves considerable interest in it. In a letter
addressed by them to Lord Tarbat at this time
they propose, owing to the " discrepancies" between
Sir James and his son Donald, to deprive them both
of the estate until the debts are paid, allowing
meanwhile a competency to each. " The estate,"
they inform Lord Tarbat, " stands severally engaged
to us." The wadsetters acting up to their resolution
succeeded in staving off the impending ruin of the
family and preserving the heritage of the Clan

Sir James Macdonald some years before his
death matriculated arms which are found to be
in some respects different from those afterwards
adopted and borne by his family. These were : —
" First, argent, a lion rampant, gules armed or ;
second, azure, a hand proper holding a cross patee
of Calvary sable ; third, vert, a ship ermine, her
oars in saltire sable in water proper ; fourth, parted
per fess wavy vert and argent, a salmon naiant ;
crest, a hand holding a dagger proper ; supjjorters,
two leopards proper ; motto, ' My hope is constant
in Thee.' " Sir James Macdonald died in December,

During the decade following the death of Sir
James Macdonald, we find little worthy of notice in
the annals of the family of Sleat. Sir Donald, the

1 Sleat Charier Cheit.


heir and successor of Sir James, was in iil health,
and appears to have led a quiet life. The affairs
of tiie family besides were not in a prosperous state.
The tirst notice which we find in the family records
of Sir Donald in his capacity as chief is in a
Connnission granted by him to Lachlan Mackinnon
of Strath, and Lachlan Mackinnon of Gembell,
empowering them to " persew, apprehend, and
incarcerat all thives, robberis, and sorners within
the bounds of the parish of Strath."^ The abortive
attempt made by Argyle in the West in 1685 in
conjunction with the Monmouth Kebellion in
England, brought Sir Donald and his Clan into
prominence as supporters of the reigning family in
the person of James YII. The Privy Council being
informed that Argyle with several others had landed
ill the Western Isles for the purpose of raising a
commotion there, they directed a missive to Sir
Donald recpiiring liim to raise 300 men and be with
them at the head of Lochness by the 9th of June.
Sir Donald loyally obeyed the summons to arms,
and marched at the head of his men to tlie place of
rendezvous. The Argyle insurrection coming to an
abrupt end by the capture and execution of the Earl,
tlie men of the Isles, after remaining in camp until
the end of June, returned to their homes without
striking a blow.^ The state of affairs at the accession
of King James indicated a troublesome reign for the
unfortunate monarch, both in England and in Scot-
land. At length the inevitable crisis arrived, and
James could remain no longer in a situation which,
by liis unkiiigly conduct, he had made untenable.
The sympathisers of the unfortunate monarch in
Scotland were confined almost entirely to the

' Sleat Cliarter C'liest. - Ibid.


Highlands. it is difficult to imao-ine such men
as Lochiel, Glengarry, and Sir Donald Macdonald,
all of whom were Protestants, attached to the person
of* such a man as James. But these chiefs were firm
believers in a hereditary monarchy, and James,
notwithstandin,i( all that had happened, was still,
in their estimation, the legitimate King. And,
besides, their hereditary enemies were all arrayed
on the other side. When, in these circumstances,
Dundee unfurled the standard of James in the
Highlands, and appealed to the chivalry of the High-
land chiefs, Sir Donald Macdonald was among the
first to join him at the head of 500 of his Clan.
Sir Donald, however, who had been in broken health
for some time, had barely reached Dundee's
camp in Lochaber when he suddenly took ill and
was obliged to return home, leaving his son, Donald,
in command of the Clan. At Killiecrankie, Sir
Donald's battalion was posted on the extreme left of
Dundee's army, where it fought with the courage and
bravery characteristic of the men of the Isles. The
Tslesmen were led by the young Chief in person, who
is described as " the noble offspring of the great
Donald, Chief of the race, and Lord of the Isles,
illustrious in war beyond his youthful years."^ The
young Chief is still further described as a man of
commanding personality, wearing a scarlet coat, and
" conducting all his actions by the strict law of
religion and morality." The regiment of the Isles
suffered severely at Killiecrankie, being opposed
to the only portion of Mackay's army that
behaved well on that day. Among the slain
were five of the principal officers, all of whom
weie cadets of Sir Donald's family. The fall of

' The Grameid.


the ^'ull.Miit hiiiidee in the act of hiiii^^ln^^ the
C'hiii Donald tu the charge rang the deatli-knell
of th»? cause of King .lames. The suhse([Uent move-
ments and conduct of the Higldanders under Cannon
first, and aftrrwards under Buclian, were such as
miglit l>e expected under such leaders. Tlie young
('lii«'f of Sleat remained at the head of liis men until
the King's afi'air.' hecame (lesj)erate, and all hope
\vi\H lost. Wh?n the tide turned in favour of the
Whigs, Genend Mackay, wlio had suffered so severe
a defeat at Killiecrankic. made overtures to the
chiefs with the view of hringiiig them into line with
the new order of things. Their answer was a digni-
fied refusal to treat on any terms. At a meeting
held at Birse on the f7th of August. 1G89. a
document was drawn out and signed hy all the
chiefs present, in which they showed unmistakahly
their attitude towards the Government of William
of ( )ran<:e. "Wee declare to yow," thev informed
Mackay, " and all the world we scorne yo"^ usurper
and the indemnities of his Govarnment."^ At Blair-
Atholl, they signed a hond on the 24th August,
pledging themselves to continue iii the King's
service and assist one another to the utmost of their
power in that service, Donald of Sleat agreeing to
augment his hattalion hy hringing 200 more men to
tlie King's standard.* At Tnmintoul they renewed
their hon<l on the loth .January following, and
vowed to ■■ stike and hid" i)y one anotiier. It is
evident from these honds that the chiefs v^ere not
only niiih'd among themselves, hut also most
enthusiastic in their suppoit of the King's cause.
It would have l)een well for that cause if they had
chosen a leader among themselves. No man was

' AcIm of I'arl., A|>|i*>ii<lix. - Ibi<l.


better fitted in all respects to lead a Hiolilaiid ainiv
than Sir Evven Cameron of Lochiel, but a Ili^diland
chief would not serve under another Highland chief.
The experiment had not been ventured ujjon since
the days of the Lords of the Isles The King's
cause would have fared better, to say the least, if it
had been tried now. It was not tried, and every
other effort to retrieve the fallen fortunes of the
fugitive monarch was doomed to failure. The star
of the unlucky Stewart race had set for e\er.

In a Parliament held in Edinburgh in June, 1600,
a sentence of forfeiture was passed against the
young Chief of Sleat, and other adherents of
Dundee. Nothing danntei, the young Chief
remained steady in his loyalty to King Janies, and
the King, as a mark of appreciation of the services
rendered by the family of Sleat, kei)t up a constant
correspondence both with Sir Donald and his son.
Finally, when success seemed no longer possible,
and the Highland army dispersed. Cannon and
his officers found their way to the Isle of
Skye, and put themselves under the protection
of Sir Donald Macdonald. Etlbrts were now
made to treat with Sir DoTiald. While the
young Chief appeared willing to submit on certain
terms, old Sir Donald continued inexorable, and
would have no parley with the emissaries of
King William. Lord Tarbat, a friend of the family,
used his best endeavours to persuade the old Chief
to accept the inevitable, but he adhered stubbornly
to his resolution not to submit to the Government of
the usurper. At lengt'i the Government of Williani
took steps to force the C^hief into obedience. Two
frigates w^re sent to Skye, under the command of
Captains Pottinger and Douglas, each with its full


complement of* men, witli orders, it' persuasion failed,
to use force with the stubborn Chief Letters passed
between Captain Pottin^er and Sir Donald with
no satisfactory result. The latter, according to
Pottintrer, " belched out defiances to authority and
power." The gallant old Chief was evidently not in
the humour to pick his words, and the paper duel
resulted in a more serious engagement. Pottinger
brought his guns to bear upon two of Sir Donald's
houses, both of which appear to have been garrisoned.
These, besides the Chief's birlinn, he succeeded in
turn in burning to the ground, and, according to the
Captain's own account, the garrison in Sir Donald's
house of Sleat fled to die hills. If they did, they
soon returned, and engaged in a hand-to-hand fight
Avith the Lowlanders, who meanwhile had landed
from the Government frigates. After a short
struggle. Captain Pottinger's men were driven back
to their ships, leaving twenty of their number dead
on the field, and Sir Donald remained master of the
situation. Sir Donald afterwards condescended to
discuss terms of submission witii the Government.
He sent a messenger of the name of Campl)ell to
Lord Tarbat, offering to submit on condition of his
receiving a peerage and a j)ension, and the removing
of the sentence of forfeiture passed against his son.
Lord Tarbat replied in behalf of the Government,
by pointing out that, now King William's affairs
being more prosperous, absolute surrender would be
the best argument, and he ended by advising Sir
Donald to throw himself on the King's mercy. Tliis,
however, the stubborn ( 'hief was not yet prepared
to do. The defiant attitude of Sir Donald is best
understood l)y reference to a letter written in
October, 1690, and addressed to the Chief by his


cousin, PTngh Macdoiiald, a captain ni Major-General
Mackay's regiment. The writer, after pointing out
to Sir Donald the ntter foolishness of any further
resistance, urges him to make terms with King
Wilham, and write " a very obliging letter" to Major-
General Mackay, showing his willingness to submit.
The writer had been informed that the Earl of Argyle
had received a commission " to reduce him if he dcies
not speedily surrender." " Were there no other
motive to induce you," the captain proceeds, " but
the slavery you are into by maintaining of Irish fugi-
tives it might make you wearied of your life. Lord
Morton appears in your interest and advises you to
write to Argyle an obliging letter, for he assures me
that Argyle professes much kindness for you. This
will not only keep Argyle from invading your
country, but likewise make him befriend you at
Court. I beseech you not to bring ruin upon your-
self by papists and desperat people that resort to
your island. Lord Morton would go on foot to
London on condition that your peace was made."^
His cousin's earnest appeal appears to have had no
effect on Sir Donald. His principal followers, how-
ever, are now willing to submit to the Government.
Lord Tarbat, in a letter to the Earl of Melville,
expresses the opinion that the example set by the
gentlemen of his clan will have a good effect upon
Sir Donald. Captain Hugh Macdonald, in a second
letter to his chief, assures him that he will no longer
dissuade him from his principles. " There is
nothing," he writes, " I wish more than that you be
reconciled to King William, yet I shall be sorry if
Argyle be the instrument of forcing you. Certainly
jT-ou might make a more honourable capitulation."-'

^ Sleat Charter Chest. - Ibid.


But 8ii' Doijcild would uot yield, aud he wa,s now
greatly encouraged to persist in his opposition Ijy
the appearance in June, 1691, of four French men-
of-war on the coast of 8kye with ample provision,
aims, and annnunition, to put the island in a proper
state of defence. In a letter from Colonel Hiil of
Fort-William to the Earl of Melville he states that
the Frenchmen give out that the Dukes of Gordon
and Berwick are coming from Ireland with 5000
men, and that Buchan and Glengarry have gone to
Skye to stir up Sii Donald's people. This fresh
movement on the part of the Jacobites, howevei',
came to nought. Sir Donald Macdonald made his
peace with the Government of William, but we
know nothing of his manner of doing so, or the
terms on which he surrendered. Lord Breadalbane
was the person entrusted by Government to negoti-
ate with the chiefs, but the chiefs had no confidence
in him, and if all that is alleged agamst him be
true, they were justified in not trusting such a man.
He is described l)y a contemporary as a man
" cunning as a fox, wise as a serpent, and slippery
as an eel." He held a meeting with the chiefs at
Achallader on the 30th of June, 1691, which Sk
Donald Macdonald excused himself from attending
on the score of ill health. Iti October, the Earl
sent an express to Sir Donald on business of
importauce, no doubt his submission to the Govern-
ment, urging him to repair to Belloch without delay,
or if his indisposition should prevent him to send his
son Donald.^ Whether Donald answered the Earl's
sunnnons does not appear. The Government had
issued a proclamation requiring all the chiefs to take

' ( 'hart or Cliest.


the oath of allegiance in the }3resence of a civil judge
before the first day of January, 1692, and hbtle time
was now left if Sir Donald was to avoid sharing the
fate of Glencoe. King James, to whom the chiefs
had submitted the order of Government, counselled
compliance. This was at the eleventh hour. Sir
Donald Macdonald succeeded somehow in satisfying
the Government, and ceased to give further

AflPairs in the Highlands began to settle down
gradually into their normal condition. The Govern-
ment of William showed some anxiety to conciliate
the chiefs, and, on the whole, acted fairly, and even
leniently towards them, especially after the aifair of
Glencoe. It was a critical time for the Government.
There were certain economic and social problems the
solution of which weighed with the chiefs more than
any mere personal attachment to the Stuart princes.
There was a slumbering discontent, not directly
attributable either to William or James, which
threatened to burst forth into active hostility
whenever the opportunity arose. It was possible
for the Government to avert many of the troubles
which loomed ahead. Subsequent events will show
how far it came short in this respect. As for the
Chief of Sleat, he quickly fell into line and made the
best of what was, no doubt, to him a very bad
situation. His affairs were far from being: in a
prosperous state, while his state of health rendered
him unfit to take any practical share in the manage-
ment of his Clan affairs. As evidence of the relations
in which he stood to the Government, reference
may be made to a petition by him to the Privy
Council in the autumn of 1692. In this petition he


])egs to be relieved of the hearth money which had
been imposed upon him, pleading, as an excuse, the
involved state of his affairs. The Council granted
the prayer of the petition, and remitted the tax.^
Sir Donald's relations with the garrison at Fort-
William were also satisfactory, as may be seen
from a correspondence between the Governor,
Colonel Hill, and Sir Donald.^ It was far
otherwise nearer home, and where it was least
to be expected. The attitude of Sir Donald's
neighbouring kinsmen of Knoydart towards him
appears to have been the reverse of friendly. The
Cliief and Ranald Macdonald of Camuscross were
obliged to make a joint complaint to the Supreme
Court in 1694 against Alexander Macdonald,
Younger of Glengarry ; ^neas Macdonald, his
brother ; and several others, their tenants in Knoy-
dart. The complainers allege that the men of
Knoydart, having conceived " ane deadly hatred and
evil will " against them, continue to molest them in
the peaceable possession of their lands by com-
mitting several acts of violence, and " lying in ways
and passages where they have occasion to resort."^
Glengarry and his brother were required " to find
sufficient caution that the complainers and their
tenants in the parish of Sleat shall be harmless and
skaithless." The relations between the clansmen of
Glengarry and Sleat as shown in this case furnish
a picture of the state of society in the Highlands at
that time so vivid as to require no comment. Of
Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat no more is heard in
the annals of the clan. He died at Armadale on the

' Sleat Charter Chest. - Ibid. ^ Ibid.

j ,

- ^-|v>^V^vS|L,''<jk^^^|HM

y' - ■ ■ ' ■■ . ■'.■ -M, '-'■:■'■ ^■•■'' ■'■:■'



5th of February, 1695, much lamented by his clan,
and highly eulogised by the bards.

" Leoghaiiu fireuchail aigli,
Muiute, spioradal, ard,
Umhail, iriosal, feardha, treubhach.

Tha do chinneadh fo phramh,

Do thi;ath, 's do phaighearan mail,

Uaislean t-fhearainn, 's gach lan-fhear-feusaig."

During the decade following the death of Sir
Donald Macdonald, the annals of the family furnish
little material for history. His successor. Sir
Donald, known as Domhnull a Chogaidh, had dis-
tinguished himself as leader of the clan in his
father's lifetime. From the beginning of the eight-
eenth century to the eve of the rebellion of 1715,
he lived for the most part in Glasgow, " holding,"
as he afterwards affirms in his own defence. " no
correspondence with his people in the Isles." There
is sufficient evidence, however, to show that he had
been during these years in close touch with the
Jacobite party. In 1714, he acquired by purchase
the estate of Franklield, in the parish of Culross,
formerly called Blair. He had been but three nights
in possession of his newly acquired property, when,
as he complains to the Duke of Montrose, he was
carried off prisoner from his Castle of Blair by order
of Government, being strongly suspected of Jacobite
designs. As subsequent events proved, the Govern-
ment had good grounds for their suspicion, in spite
of Sir Donald's protest. Sir Donald, too, had signed
the address by the heads of families in the High-
lands to King George I. on his accession to the
throne, but from a letter to the Chief of Sleat,
signed by Lochiel and Stewart of Ardsheal, it


;ippeiirs that the object of the address to the Kin^
was to disarm suspicion, while in reaHty the chief's
had already secretly resolved to stand together and
do their utmost to restore the House of Stuart.
Sir Donald's forced confinement as a political
prisoner in Glasgow was of short duration, and he
was released through the friendly intercession of the

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