William Fraser.

The earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 1) online

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donan is now the property of Alexander Matheson, Esq. of Ardross, M.P.
for the counties of Eoss and Cromartie. His ancestor, John Matheson
of Lochalsh, was constable of the castle, under the Baron of Kintail, when
it was besieged by Donald Gorm in 1539. The defender of the castle was
killed, as well as its besieger. Mr. Matheson has kindly furnished a photo-
graph of a drawing of the ruins by Kenneth Macleay, E.S.A., from which
the engi^aving here given has been made.

' Reg. Sec. Sig., vol. xv. fol. 47-

X ^
























































QjIR Roderick, or Sir Eorie Mackenzie, the first of Coigeach, was the
^^ second son of Colin Mackenzie of Kintail, and next brother of Kenneth
first Lord Mackenzie of Kintail. The mother of Sir Roderick was Barbara
Grant, daughter of John Grant of that Ilk and of Freuchie. From having
acted for his nephew Colin, the second Lord, in his minority. Sir Roderick
was commonly called the Tutor of Kintail, under which designation he is
still well remembered in Ross- shire, and better known in history than by
any of his territorial designations. He was successively designated of
Culteleod, now Castleleod, Coigeach, and Tarbat.

Sir Eorie Mackenzie was the founder of the Tarbat branch of the
Mackenzie family, afterwards Earls of Cromartie. The landed estates
which he acquired still form the principal properties of the representative
of the Cromartie family. On that account, and also on account of the main
line of the ancient race of Macleod of Lewis being represented by Sir Eorie,
and a large portion of their estates inherited by him through his marriage
with the heiress of the Lewis, it is thought necessary to give some detail of
the personal history of Sir Eorie himself, and of the family of ^Macleod.

Sir Eorie was probably born in or about the year 1574, as it is stated by



his grandsou, Lord Cromartie, that he died in the year 1626, in the forty-
eighth year of his age. The place of his birth has not been ascertained, but
it was probably at one of the Kintail Castles then belonging to his father.
Neither has the place where Sir Eorie was educated been ascertained. It is
probable that it was at the University of Aberdeen, where several of the
Mackenzie family were educated ; but at whatever university he studied, he
received a good education. Although from his position as an extensive pro-
prietor in Eoss-shire, and also in his capacity of Tutor of Kintail, as well
as Tutor for the families of Macdonald and Maclean, it is certain that he
must have had an extensive correspondence, only a single letter written by
himself has been discovered. But that letter alone is sufficient to show
that he was highly educated, and expert in business. The letter is addressed
to his maternal uncle, the Laird of Grant, and is as follows : —

Right honorabill and Lowinge eime, my commendatiounes remembered, I
merwell uocht a litle tliat ze suld preis to disapoint me of the gift of M'^Litoisiche
his ward and mariage, so far as the samyne extendis to the wedsett laudis I haif
of the barronerye of Culloddin, since ze knave werrie weill that it was zour
vmquhill father that ingagit me in this bargane, for releiwinge of vmqiihill
M'^Intoisiche out off the eminent danger my lord Enzie haid abone his heid, as
ze and his haill freindis knawis ; also ze promeisit to my lord Chancellar and my
lord of Mar, in tym of the passinge of the Ward and mariage, that I suld be pre-
fferrit to my awin pairt therof, induringe the nocht redemptioun of the landis, as
my lord off Mar schewe zowe abefoir, and nowe hes wreittin to zowe be his letter,
quhilk pleis receaue heirwith ; Luikinge that accordinge to the desyr thairof, and
to the trust that I haif in zowe as my freind, ze will let me haif assignatioun to
my pairt of the waird, induringe the nocht redemptioun of the wedsett landis,
and to that effect subscrywe the assignatioun I left with zour man, John Donald-
sone, othervayis give ze do it is moir than I luikit for at zour handis, for as I
haif schowin John Doualdsone, I will mak sum moir chairges to secure me alsweill
be the richt that is in zour persone of the waird, as give the samyne wer in my
awin. Bot all that ze will mak me deburs in this earand wilbe vpoun M'^Intoisiche


^ ^-/f

^O^^l'x^^ ^^


expenssis : bot I luik, sir, ze will, boith for M°Intoisiclie his weill and myne also,
iioclit put me to this troubill. Sua to zour ansuer in the premissis committing
zour worschip to God, I hairtlie tack my leiwe, remaininge

Your worschipis Lowing Eme, to be commandit,

S. R. M^Kenzey of Cogaich.
Auldeirne, 2 Marche 1624.

[To my] Lowinge Eme, Sir John Grant of Freuchie, kniclit — theis.^

His armorial seal is still preserved on the letter, and represents
the well-known Cabar Fci (Cabar Feidh), stag's horn, of the family,
an engraving of which is given. While yet a young man, Sir
Rorie obtained from his father the lands of Culteleod, in the
parish of Fodderty. After obtaining these lands, Sir Eorie had
the territorial designation of Culteleod, and the castle which he subsequently
erected there in the year 1616 was one of his favourite residences. Culteleod
includes within its bounds the lofty Ben Wyvis, the highest mountain in
Ptoss, with its fabulous tenure of rendering to the Crown a snow-ball at Mid-
summer, as well as the beautiful valley of Strathpeffer, now crowded in the
summer and autumn months with visitors, for its spa and its salubrity.

Tlirough his marriage with Margaret Macleod, heiress of the Lewis, Sir
Eorie obtained the barony of Coigeach in Lochbroom, and he was thereafter
known under the territorial designation of Coigeach.

In ancient times Coigeach was famous as a deer forest. In the most
ancient map of Great Britain, which was made before 1300, there is shown,
in the north-west of Scotland, a district named Colgarth. A facsimile of
that map, on a reduced scale, is given in the National Manuscripts of Scot-
land, Part IIL No. 2. The early geographer indicates in the most general way
the chief Earldoms of Scotland, — Mar, Buchan, Moray, Sutherland, Caithness,
and Eoss. Colgarth is represented as mountainous, and a stag is shown to
' Original Letter at Castle Grant.


betoken hunting, with the words " Hie maxima venatio," as in the engraving
annexed. Mr. Innes, the editor, remarks that Colgarth is " without doubt

Coigeach." In reference to the deer and another marking on the map, " Hie
habundant hipi," the editor states that the wolves are gone within the
memory of man, but Coigeach can still boast of its red deer. The wolves,
however, refer to Sutherland and not to Coigeach. Locally, Coigeach forms
part of the Earldom of Eoss, and from its position on the map it is almost
certain that Colgarth cannot be identified with Coigeach, and Colgarth pro-
bably represents one of the Garths in Perthshire. Coigeach is at present
chiefly in sheep farms, although there is still the considerable forest of
Ehidorach. Formerly the family also possessed the neighbouring forest of
Fannich, which was sold under the authority of a private Act of Parliament,
obtained by the Honourable Mrs. Hay Mackenzie of Cromartie.

In the year 1502, a commission was granted by King James the Fourth
to Alexander Earl of Huntly and others, to let the lands of Cogeach, Assent,
and other lands that belonged to Torquell Makloid of Lewis, which were then
in the King's hands through his rebellion. In 1508 the same King granted


to Ocio Makky in Strathnavern, the lands of Assent and Ladocchogith, for-
feited by Torquell Macloid for treason. In 1511 he granted the same lands
and others, erected into the barony of Lewis, to Malcolm Makclode, son of
the deceased Eory Makclode of the Lewis. On the 9th March 15x5, the
Lords of Council pronounced decree, finding that the lands of Coygach
belonged to Eupham Countess of Ross ; but as she resigned the Earldom of
Ross into the hands of Robert Duke of Albany, Governor of Scotland, and
received a new charter to herself and the heirs of her body, whom failing,
to return to the Crown, and as the Countess left no heirs of her body, the
Earldom became the property of the Crown.^ In 1538 King James the
Fifth granted to Rory M'^Cloyd, heir of Malcolm deceased, the non-entry
and other dues of the barony of Lewis, Wattirnes, Assent, and Coidgeach,
from 1511 to a year following the date of the grant. In 1541 the King
granted to Rodoric M^Loid of Lewis, and Barbara Stewart his affianced
spouse, the barony of Coigeach and others, erected into the free barony of
Lewis. In 1572, Rodoric Makcloyd resigned the barony of Cogeauch and his
other lands, which King James then granted to his son and apparent heir,
Torquil M^Cloyd, and his heirs-male, with remainder to Gillecallum Garwe
M^Cloyd of Raisay, and his heirs-male, whom failing, to Torquil's heirs-
male whomsoever ; reserving the liferent to Roderick, on condition that
neither he nor Torquil should commit any crime against the King.^ In 1596
Torquil Macleod received from King James the Sixth a charter of Assint,
Coigeach, Lewis, and Waternes, to him and his heirs, also on condition of
remaining faithful to the King.^

Kot long before his death in 1626, Sir Rorie acquired "^he lands and
barony of Tarbat ; but he very rarely adopted the designation by that estate,

1 Acta Dom. Con., Lib. xxiv. fol. 186. ^ Reg. Mag. Sig., Lib. xli. No. 145, dated

- Origines Parochiales, vol. ii. p. 409. at Falklaod 10th August.


which became the territorial title of his son Sir John, and also the judicial
and peerage designation of his grandson.

The marriage of Sir Eorie and Margaret Macleod, the heiress of Lewis,
took place in the year 1G05. The formal contract for the marriage was made
at Dingwall on the Cth of May of that year.^

The parties to the contract are Eorie Mackenzie of Cnlteloid and Kenneth
Mackenzie of Kintail, his brother, on the one part, and Margaret Macloid,
eldest daughter of Torquil Macloid of Lewis, on the other part. Eorie
Mackenzie and his wife, Margaret Macleod, were cousins through a previous
marriage of the Mackenzies and Macleods, namely, Euari Macleod and Janet
Mackenzie, daughter of John Mackenzie of Kintail, who was thus the com-
mon ancestor of Sir Eorie Mackenzie and his wife Margaret Macleod. With
consent of Kenneth Mackenzie, his brother, as superior of the lands, Eorie
Mackenzie became bound to infeft Margaret Macleod, his promised spouse, in
liferent in three quarters of the davoch lands of Ouchterneid, and in the half
davoch lands of Inchvanie, and in the lands of Balmulloche and Little Usie.

Later in the same year Eorie Mackenzie obtained from Kenneth of
Kintail, his brother, a charter to himself and Margaret Macleod, his spouse,
of the lands and barony of Coigeach, reserving the liferent to Torquil
Macleod and Margaret Nyne Angus Macallister, his spouse. And in the
year 1608, Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail granted another charter to his
brother Eorie of the lands of Coigeach, Culteleod, Inschrorie, and others ;
and that charter was confirmed by a Crown Charter under the Great Seal,
dated 17th November 1G09.

Torquil jMacleod Connanach, the father of Margaret the heiress, had by
his wife Margaret Nein Angus Macallister, who was a daughter of Macdonald
of Glengarrv, two sons and two daughters. The elder son was John, who

^ Oricrinal Contract at Tarbat House.


was killed in the feuds as to the Lewis by Eorie Oig, one of his illegiti-
mate uncles. The younger son Neill died of a burning fever at Coigeach.
Both these sons dying without issue, their two sisters, Margaret and Elspet,
became the heiresses of their father, Torquil Macleod Connanach.

Kenneth Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, the elder brother of Sir Eorie, did
not long survive his elevation to the peerage in the year 1609, having died in
March 1611, leaving a large family in minority, and his affairs in embarrass-
ment. At considerable risk Sir Eorie undertook the office of tutor to
his nephew, Colin, second Lord Mackenzie, and with great personal trouble
succeeded in extricating his affairs, and handing the estates over to his
nephew at his majority in a very flourishing condition.

The conduct of Sir Eorie as tutor to his nephew is thus extolled by his
gTandson, Lord Cromartie, in his history of the Mackenzie family : —

Eorie finding his brother's fortune under much debt, and the family necessarily
involved in feuds and wars with Glengarry and the rebels in the Lewes, fearing
that he should not overcome those difficulties, Avas loth to engage in the Tutory.
But when all others refused to undergo the charge, he set resolutely to the work.
The first he did was to assault the rebels in the Lewes, Avhich he did so suddenly
after his brother's death, and so unexpectedly to them, that what the Fife adven-
turers had spent many years and much treasure in, without success, he in a few
months accomplished. For having, by his youngest brother, Alexander, chased
Neil, the chief commander of all the rest, from the Isle, pursued him to Glasgow,
where, apprehending him, he delivered him to the council, who executed him
immediately. He returned to the Lewes, banished those whose deportment he
most doubted, and settled the rest as peaceable tenants to his nephew, Avhich suc-
cess he had with the more facility, because he had the only title of succession to
it by his wife, and they looked on him as their just master. From thence he
invaded Glengarry, who was again re-collecting his forces, but at his coming they
dissipat and fled. He pursued Glengarry to Blairy in Moray, where he took him ;
but Avilling to have his nephew's estate settled Avith conventional rights rather
than legal, he took Lowcountrie men surety for Glengarry's peaceable deportment,


and then contracted with him for the reversion of the former Avadsets which Colin
of Kiutail had acquired of him, and for a ratification and new disposition of all
his lands formerly sold to Colin, and payed him 30,000 merks in money for this,
and gave him a title to Laggan Auchindrum, which till then he possessed by
force. So that Glengarry did ever acknowledge it as a favour to be overcome by
such enemies, who over disobligements did deal both justly and generously.^
Rorie employed himself thereafter in settling his pupil's estate, Avhich he did to
that advantage, that ere his minority past he freed his estate, leaving him master
of an opulent fortune, and of great superiorities, for he acquired the superiority of
Trouternes, Avith the heritable stewartry of the Isle of Skye to his pupil, the
superiority of Rassay, and some other isles. At that time Macleod, partly by
law, partly by force, had possessed himself of Sleatt and Trouternes, a great part
of Macdonald's estate. Eorie, now knighted by King James, owned Macdonald's
cause as an injured neighbour, and by the same mediums that Macleod possessed
Sleatt and Trouternes, he recovered it from him, marrying the heir of it. Sir
Donald Macdonald, to his niece, sister to Lord Colin, and caused him take the
lands of Trouternes holden of his pupil.

From this explanation it will be seen how much of the old Macleod pro-
perty of the Lewis and other baronies came to the Mackenzie family. Lord
Cromartie valued his descent from the ancient race of Macleod ; and when
he was raised to the Peerage as Viscount Tarbat, and again as Earl of
Cromartie, he took in both patents the baronial designation of Lord Macleod.
His eldest son was styled Lord Macleod, and the eldest son of the third Earl
of Cromartie was also styled Lord Macleod. Some account therefore of a
race so closely connected with the Mackenzies is necessary in this memoir of
one who, both by marriage and property, came to represent the ancient Lords
of Lewis.

1 The feud between the Macdonakis of Glen- it. While the church was burning, the piper

garry and the Mackenzies was of long stand- of Glengarry marched round the building

ing. In the course of this feud, in 1603, in playing a pibroch, which has ever since

a raid of the Clanranald of Glengarry into been known, under the name of Kilchrist,

Brae-E,oss, occurred the burning of the church as the family tune of the Clanranald of Glen-

(jf Kilchrist, with the whole congregation in garry.


The Macleods of Lewis and the Macleods of Harris were the two prin-
cipal families of the surname. Both claim descent from Leod, son of King
Olaus, and brother of Magnus, the last King of Man and the Isles of that
Norwegian Eoyal race. Torquil was the ancestor of the race of the Island of
Lewis, and Tormod of that of Harris. They were called Macleod, as the
sons of Leod. Torquil's descendants inherited the Lewis for many genera-
tions ; and the contest for the possession of that island, which was ended
during the tutory of Sir Eorie Mackenzie, as related by Lord Cromartie, arose
in this way. — Eoderick or Ruari Macleod, Lord of Lewis, married Janet,
daughter of John Mackenzie of Kintail, and Elizabeth Grant, his wife. The
Laird of Kintail was the great-grandfather of the first Lord Mackenzie of
Kintail. In the histories of the Mackenzie family it is stated that the wife
of Euari of the Lewis was Agnes Mackenzie, sister of the above John of
Kintail ; but it is proved that she was his daughter, from her son Torquil
Macleod Connanach being called " oy " [grandson] of John Mackenzie.'^ Of
that marriage there was issue one son, Torquil Macleod. He resided chiefly
witli his mother's relations at Brahan Castle, in Strathconnan, and came thus
to be called Torquil Connanach. Around this Torquil there centres considerable
romance ; and the conflicts which ensued in reference to his paternity and
his rights were as fierce as any on record of the many feuds between con-
tending clans, or between different members of the same clan.

Janet Mackenzie, the mother of Torquil, is differently represented by the
family historians. One report has it that she was ill-used by her husband,
against whom she raised a suit of divorce, and that when she was escaping to
Coigeach, her husband sent a large birlinn in pursuit of her, which ran down
her boat, drowning herself and all the passengers.^ Other historians represent

^ Acts and Decreets of Session, vol. x. fol. - History of the Mackenzies, MS., by Dr.

201. George Mackenzie.


that the Lady of Lewis eloped with Gillechallum of Rasay,^ and being married
to him, had a faraily, and that her son Torquil was really the son of the
Breve or Celtic judge of the Lewis, and was thus disowned by his father.^
It is difficult, from these conflicting authorities, to extract the real truth.

Euari Macleod of Lewis afterwards, in 1541, married Barbara Stewart,
daughter of Andrew Lord Avandale, Lord Chancellor, who bore him a son, also
Torquil, and surnamed Oighre, or the Heir, as he was designated to be, accord-
ing to the wishes of his father. But the intentions of the father were
frustrated by the accidental drowning of Torquil Oighre in a storm, wdien
he was sailing from Lewis to Skye, in the year 1566.

Three years before this sad event, when Torquil the heir-apparent was
probably about twenty-one years of age, and solicited in marriage to a
daughter of one of his neighbour island chiefs. Queen Mary was induced to
interest herself in reference to his marriage, and she desired him not to engage
himself without her previous consent. One of the reasons adduced by the
Queen was, that he had the honour to be of the Stewart blood. This, of
course, refers to his mother, Barbara Stewart of Avandale. The letter was
written from Inveraray, where the Queen was on a visit to the Earl of Argyll.
It is in the following terms : —

Torquill M'Cloyd, we grete you wele. We ar informit that sum of the His
ar desirous to haue you allyat to thame be mareage. And becaus ye haue that
honour to be of the Stewartis blude, we thocht expedient to gif you aduertisment
that it is our will and plesour that ye allyat yourself to na party in mareage with-
out our avys, and quhill we declair our opinioun and mynd to your self thairanent.
Subscriuit Avith our hand at Inueraray, the xxiiii of Julij 156-3. Marie R.

The Queen interested herself not only in the marriage of the heir to the
Lewis, but also in that of ]Mary jVIacleod, the heiress of Harris, the other

1 Gregorj-'s Western Highlands and Isles, - Sir Robert Gordon's History of Suther-

and authorities referred to. pp. 210, 211. laud, p. 267-




line of the Macleods,— the Siol Tormod, or Macleods of Harris. In 1562
Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, by command of Her Majesty, delivered Mary
Macleod, daughter and heiress of William Macleod of Harris, to the Queen.
Mary Macleod was one of the maids of honour to Her Majesty from 1562 to
1565, although this is not generally known, and she is not mentioned in the
popular but modern ballad of " The Queen's Marie."

The Earl of Argyll ultimately became the guardian of Mary Macleod, the
heiress of Harris, and she was married to his kinsman, Duncan Campbell,
younger of Auchinbreck.

Sir Eorie Macleod, the heir-male of the family of Harris, and cousin of
Mary Macleod, the heiress, entered into a peculiar contract of fosterage for
his son Norman. This contract is written in the Gaelic language, and being
a specimen of a writing in that language, and of a contract of that nature,
which is rare, it is here inserted : —

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<\nilne lobbon roitnioib beoni nidc imc C<^iTnii5b <^3uv A|-e p <^n c<^clib
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nihn<<.oi no 50 ccii5<<vit)h yi -peni ye<\fi • m6. ye eoin ly 5ijip<^ y<^05bAl • <<ve]it)
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■ped|i 111 <^n leAn<^inh A5 Qlonshtiy pern oyni Ain<^e]i len<<v bheo -pern A5uy
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