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

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land, which bears to be anent the profanation of the Sabbath day and other
matters. The part of the supplication anent the discharge of going of mills
and salt-pans upon the Sabbath, was read, voted, and passed in Articles : And
for the salmon-fishings, before the Articles w^ould give answer thereto, the
Earl of Dumfermline, Sir John Mackenzie, and others having interest, were
to be advertised and heard thereupon. The rest of the petition, which
referred to the hiring of shearers upon the Sabbath day, was referred to a
consultation among the burghs, and with the Laird of Wauchtoune and
other " understanding gentlemen."^

In the continuation of the same Parliament in 1641, Sir John Mackenzie
became caution for young Glengarry under the following circumstances : —

^ With Patrick Lindsay, Bishop of Eoss, and his heirs as a burial-place, or for building

the predecessor in office of the deposed Bishop of desks, and the aisle still remains as a part

Maxwell, the Baronet of Tarbat had a mis- of the church, having engraved on it the arms

understanding about the tithes of Meikle of Cuthbert and Leslie, who was apparently

Tarrell, in Tarbat. James Cuthbert, provost the wife of Cuthbert.

of Inverness, sometime proprietor of Loch- ^

sline, built an aisle on the north side of the " ^"^^"^^ Commission, dated 1st August

, • 1 f rr 1 , o- T 1- TT 1 • 1 1639, at Tarbat House,

kirk 01 iar bat. feir John Mackenzie acquired

right to that aisle in 1634, to be used by him ^ Acts of Parliament, vol. v. p. 253.


The Laird of ]\I'Intosh and liis brother had given iu a supplication to the
Parliament on 27tli August, with a complaint against the Laird of Glengarry,
stating that in August of the year last bygone, some of the Laird of
Gleno-arry-'s friends and kinsmen had taken a creagh and spreath from Kil-
ravock. In following up the chase, it happened that two of Glengarry's
men were slain. Upon this young Glengarry was greatly enraged; and
three of old Glengarry's sons, with four or iive score of the clan, bodin in
feir of war, " with gunnis, pistoles, bowis, dorlaches, swords, targes," etc.,
invaded the burgh of Inverness on Sunday the 15th August 1641, and
set upon Lauchlan M'Intosh, with nine or ten of his kin, and killed
two of them, and were near taking the life of Lauchlan himself. Young
Gleno-arry was required to find caution not to remove outwith a mile
about the town till deciding of the bill, and for keeping the king's peace,
under the pain of 10,000 merks, and LI'Intosh to do the like. The Laird of
Dunvegan, who had been first caution for Glengarry, craved to be free of his
cautionry, and Sir John Mackenzie took his place as cautioner on 28th August
ir,41. On the 31st he was freed of his cautionry. Glengarry having pre-
sented himseK in face of Parliament ; but he being again required to find
security, and declaring he could find none, but was content to act himself,
Sir John Mackenzie again became caution for him that he would appear
before the Parliament when required, and not go out of Edinburgh or one mile
round about till the conclusion of the Parliament by riding or prorogation.

In the early part of the civil war. Sir John IMackenzie acted with the
Estates or Covenanters, and against the Ptoyalists. In 1643 he was appointed
one of the commissioners for loans for Inverness, to raise money to pay the
army acting in England ; and about the same time was appointed one of the
colonels of foot for the same shire, along with tlie Earl of Seaforth or his
brother, Pluscarden, and Sir James Eraser and others. In the Parliament of


1G45 he M'as again commissioner for Inverness, and the following year was
one of the committee of war for that shire. In 1647 he was again on the
committee of war for Inverness, and on the committee for revaluation of
the shire. On the 26th of March of that year, an Act was passed in favour
of Sir John Mackenzie, in consideration of his supplication for reparation
of his losses and exemption from public dues in the meantime till his losses
and sufferings were repaired. That Act freed him from all payment of
bygone maintenance and other public dues resting unpayed preceding
January 1647, for his lands in ]\Iurrayland, with reservation to the Lord
Humble of his act, and payment of his super-expenses of his Scots accounts.
But though Sir John Mackenzie acted on behalf of the Estates, there is
evidence about this time that some of his clan were favourably inclined to
the Eoyalists. On 2d January 1647, on a supplication given in by Kenneth
M'Kenzie of Gairloch, Eorie M'Kenzie of Dachmalonak, James M'Kenzie,
brother to the Laird of Tarbat, Colin M'Kenzie of Tarvie, and Eorie
jM'Kenzie, servitor to the Laird of Tarbat, the Estates discharged the justice
from giving out crmiinal letters against them for their acts during the
rebellion only, at the instance of the King's advocate, and Donald M'Claud,
elder of Assint, and Donald ]\I'Claud, younger, his son, acting for themselves
and their tenants, and Mr. John Eos, minister at Assint, for certain crimes of
hostility committed against them by the said Mackenzies. In this inroad
the castle or fortalice on the Isle of Assint was besieged by the Mackenzies,
and defended till the siege was abandoned on the return of peace. On the
25th of the same month of January, Major-General Middleton granted
passes or pardons to all the persons named in the complaint.

In the year 1648 two commissions were presented from Inverness, one
to Sir James Eraser and Colonel Eraser, and the other to Sir John M'Kenzie
of Tarbat and Hew Eoss of Kilravock. The Estates rejected both com-


missions, and ordered a new election to be made for the shire. They gave
special directions as to who were to be allowed to vote.

In the events of 1648, both Sir John Mackenzie and his eldest son, George
^Mackenzie, younger of Tarbat, took an active share. They w^ere both colonels
of foot and on the committee of war for Inverness, having entered into the
Eno-af^ement the main aim of which was the delivery of King Charles the
First. But on the defeat of the Scottish army, under the Duke of Hamilton,
and the change of Government that ensued after that defeat, and the Whig-
f^amores' raid in 1649, the commissions for levying forces that had been
granted to the Earl of Seaforth and Sir John Mackenzie of Tarbat are repealed
among the other Acts of the Parliament of the foregoing year. ISTor did the
matter end there. Sir John is named in the list of persons from whom money
was to be borrowed, and they to be lined, along with Thomas Mackenzie of
Pluscardin, Mackenzie of CouU, and others. That list was prepared by the
Laird of Lawers. The clan of Mackenzie had been specially noted in the
Engagement, for at the end of the list of those who are to be fined occurs
the following sentence : — " Ane generall citatioun for the name of M'Kemzye,
Eraser, and Munros, and vthers that ar joinit to this late rebellioune, iff they
be ether oblischit to lenne or be fynnit."^

Along with attachment to the Presbyterian form of Church government.
Sir John Mackenzie cherished an unfaltering loyalty. Like many of those
who were the first movers in the troubles, he subsequently supported the
royal cause, and took the part of those called Engagers and Eesolutioners,
from their resolutions to admit those who had joined with Montrose. Among
the memljcrs of this party were such men as Baillie and Douglas, and also
James Sharp, afterwards Archbishop of St. Andrews. Sir John's loyalty
seems to have caused his imprisonment under Cromwell. In Brodie's Diary

^ Acts of Parliament, new edition, vol. vi. ii. 710 a. 9tli March 1649.


occurs the following entry : — [1653] 2 July. — I received a letter from Tarbat
desiring me to interpose for his liberation.^

As the writer had then a letter from Cromwell askincj him to go to London
for his service, it is likely Sir John was miprisoned for opposition to the Com-
monwealth, althougli no other record has been found bearing on the subject.

By his wife Dame Margaret Erskine, Sir John Mackenzie had six sons
and five daughters : —

1 . Sir George Mackenzie, afterwards Earl of Cromartie.

2. John, who died at Loudon, on his return from his travels, in 1662.

3. Roderick Mackenzie of Prestounhall, in the county of Edinburgh. He

became a member of the Scottish bar in 1666, and was appointed Lord
Justice-Clerk in succession to Lord Pollok m 1702, and he continued
to hold that office till the year 1704. He was appointed one of the
ordinary Lords of Session in 1703, and took the designation of Lord
Prestounhall. He resigned that office in favour of his nephew, Sir
James Mackenzie of Roystoun, in 1710. He married, first, Mary,
daughter of Alexander Burnet, Archljishop of St. Andrews, on 28th
April 1674,^ and had several children. Elizabeth, baptised 9th August
1675;^ John, baptised 27th July 1678;^ George, baptised 25th
January 1681.^ The eldest son, Alexander Mackenzie, in 1702, mar-
ried Amelia, eldest daughter of Hugh tenth Lord Lovat. He assumed
the surname of Eraser, and was designed of Fraserdale, apparently a new
name for the ancient estates of Lovat, which he claimed in right of his
wife. He engaged in the Rebellion of 1715, and was attainted, and his
liferent of the Lovat estate was forfeited. He died at Leith, 3d June
1755, aged seventy-two. His son, Hugh Eraser, on the death of his
mother, assumed the title of Lord Lovat, and died at Edinburgh, on
9th November 1770, aged sixty-seven. The Lovat dignities and estates
were, after a keen competition between him and Simon Eraser of
Beaufort, the heir- male, ultimately awarded to the latter.

Lord Prestounhall married, secondly, Margaret Halyburton, daughter

1 Diaries of tlie Lairds of Brodie, Spalding - Register of Marriages for Edinburgh.

Club, 1803, p. 60. ^ Register of Baptisms for Edinburgh.


of the Laird of Pitcur, in Angus, widow of Sir George Mackenzie of
Eoseliaugh, Lord Advocate to King Charles the Second, without issue.
Lord Prestounhall died on 4th January 1712.
■4. Alexander of Ardloch and Kinellan, whose male line inherited the

5. Kenneth, Avho ha<^l by his wife, Isobel Auchinleck, one son, Kenneth,

baptised 22d December 1674,^ who died without issue.

6. James, who received the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Eheims, where

he studied, and died unmarried, on his return from his travels.

His daughters were —

1. ]\Largaret, married, first, Roderick Macleod of that Ilk, without issue ;

secondly. Sir James Campbell of Lawers, in the county of Perth.

2. Anne, married, at Tarbat, in July 1659, Hugh ninth Lord Lovat, and was

mother of the tenth Lord.

3 . Isabel, married Kenneth third Earl of Seaforth, and had issue. There is

a portrait of her at Brahan Castle. Allusion has been made in the
introductory chapter to the sensational story of this lady having caused
the execution of Kenneth Oure, the seer of the Mackenzies.

4. Barbara, married Alexander Mackenzie of Gareloch, and had issue. The

contract of marriage is dated at Culteleod, 4th March 1670.-

5. Catherine, married Sir Colin Campbell of Aberuchil, Baronet, a Lord of

Session, and had issue. The contract of marriage is dated at Inverteill,
19th August 1667.3

Sir John Mackenzie died at his Castle of Ballone or Castlehaven, iu
Tarbat, on 10th September 1654, and was buried in his father's vault at
Dingwall. He was sur\dved by his wife, who married, secondly. Sir James
Foulis of Colinton, a Lord of Session, whom she also survived, Sir James
having died in 1688. The contract of marriao-e between her and her second
husband, which was dated 1st June 1661, gave rise after his death to a good
deal of litigation between her and Lord Colinton, Sir James' son and heir
by his former marriage. In the course of the litigation she was defeated

^ Register of Baptisms for Edinburgh. '^ Original Contract at Tarljat House. ^ Ih'vl.


in the Court of Session, but, being an Erskine, and the heiress of a judge of
that Court, and thinking that she inherited from him a knowledge of law
and justice, she resorted to the strong step of appealing to Parliament
against the Session. The question arose from a clause in the marriage -
contract, which bore that in case Sir James, during the marriage, should
acquire any sums of money, lands, or heritages, or receive payment of
sums of money, he should employ the same, and take the rights and
securities thereof in favour of himself and her, in conjunct-fee or liferent.
She complained that Sir James had employed a considerable part of her
estate to entertain his son's family, and to pay his former debts. The Lords
of Session decided that he could employ sums acquired during his second
marriage in paying off debts contracted before it, by which she was put out
of her liferent ; nor could she have the rents of land he had in this way freed
of mortgage. She therefore besought the Lord High Commissioner and Par-
liament to consider the contract in the plain sense and just effect thereof,
and decern Lord Colinton to pay her the interest of what money his father
received during the marriage, belonging to him, for all years since his father's
death, and during the petitioner's life. Her petition was presented to the
high commissioner and Parliament in 1690, and Parliament adjudged in her
favour, and reversed the decision of the Lords of Session.

This was altogether a remarkable contest ; a lady, probably nearly ninety
years of age, fought single-handed, and actually conquered, the Court of
Session, in the Parliament of Scotland. But though Lady Castlehaven was
successful in her application to Parliament, it turned out a barren victory.
A note on the back of her petition, written by her son Lcrd Cromartie,
bears that the information was drawer by herself, and that on it the Parlia-
ment reduced the decreet against her, but that neither she nor her lieirs got
a groat by it. In the petition she is styled Lady Castlehaven, probably from


being provided to the liferent of the castle of that name, which is part of the
barony of Tarbat.

The date of her death is not known, but she was living in June 1693,
when the last remit by Parliament in the above litigation was made in her
favour. As she was married in 1629, or sixty- four years previously, she
must have reached a great age. Lady Castlehaven rejoiced in the advance-
ment of her distinguished son. In a letter written to her son, shortly before
her death, she says, " I put no qwestion bot ye have enamies, bot giue God
be your frind ye neid not cair. I haue sent you your legasie befor I dy.
I wold not have you giue this gold away, onles it be at a strat. I got it from
your father, and I think I cannot bestow it better then on yourself. This
with my blisen." [Letter 59, infra ^



BORN I 630 _ DIED 1714 .






rj^HE eldest son of the marriage of Sir Jolin Mackenzie and Margaret
-*- Erskine was Sir George Mackenzie, the subject of the present memoir.

To this distinguished man tradition has assigned three different birth-
places. One tradition is that he was born in the Castle of Lochsline, situated
in the north-east of the parish of Tarbat, near a lake variously named Locheye.
Lochlin, and Lochsline, which of old belonged to the Abbots of Fearn. That
castle was for ages the residence of the family of Vans. The castle is now a
picturesque ruin, consisting chiefly of two towers, 60 feet high, and respec-
tively 38 and 20 feet square.

The tradition of the birth of Sir George Mackenzie at the Castle of Loch-
sline has been recorded by an author closely connected M-ith Cromartie, who
was a very popular writer, both on science and literature in general.^ Al-
though the tradition of Lord Cromartie's birth at Lochsline Castle must
liave been current, it is obviously incorrect. The castle, at the time of the

' Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland, by Hugh Miller. Ed. 183.-1, p. 192.


birtli of Lord Cromartie in 1630, belonged to the Honourable Simon
]\rackenzie, the father of Sir George Mackenzie of Eosehaiigh, Lord
Advocate. Sir George Mackenzie of Eosehaiigh is reputed to have been
born in the year 1636 in Dundee, a place which, according to another tradi-
tion still current in Eoss-shire, has been also assigned as the birthplace of
Lord Cromartie. In considering these traditions, it appears somewhat
remarkable that Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat should have been born at
Lochslme, while it was the property and residence of the father of the other
Sir George Mackenzie, to whom another birthplace was assigned. The real
birthplace, however, of Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat was Innerteil, in
the parish of Kinghorn and county of Fife. At the date of Sir George's
birth in 1630, Innerteil was the residence of his maternal grandfather. Sir
George Erskine, Lord Innerteil ; and it was very natural that Sir George's
mother should be residing with her own mother on the occasion of the birth
of her first child, and that the child should be named Geoi-ge after his
maternal grandfather. But the fact of Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat having
been born at Innerteil does not depend upon mere tradition : in the History
of the Mackenzies by Dr. George Mackenzie, who was a contemporary of
Lord Tarbat, it is stated that Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat was born at
Innerteil, in the year 1630.

Sir George Mackenzie received his education at the University of St.
Andrews. At that time, according to Dr. Mackenzie, the metaphysics of
Aristotle, Averroes, Oviedo, Arriaga, Suarez, Vasques, and others of the school-
men, were in great repute at that University ; and their speculations had
such an influence upon Sir George's mind that they remained with him till his
death. Indeed, his theological essays can be well understood only by one
versed in the quiddities and speculations of the schoolmen.^

^ History of the Mackenzies, MS., by Dr. George Mackenzie,

>Sl^M it

^} ll











Sir George Mackenzie completed his education at King's College, Aberdeen,
where he graduated as a student in the year 1046/ That University seems
to have been a favourite one with the Mackenzies. His Chief of Seaforth,
and many others of the clan, received their education there. The young
laird of Tarbat excelled as a scholar, especially in classics. His mastery
of the Latin language was very complete, and he retained it to the last.
The papers and letters written by him contain ample evidence of this.
Very few of them are found without some Latin quotation or classical
allusion. It will be seen in the sequel, that even in his love-letters when
courting his second Countess, at the age of seventy years, he indulged in
Latin, of which the lady required explanation. One letter of his, still
preserved, shows that he occasionally corresponded entirely in that lan-
guage. The letter does not bear the year in which it was written, but it is
apparently a juvenile production, written to a neighbouring laird, Sir John
Urquhart of Cromartie, then owner of that estate which, in after years, was
to become the property of the young laird of Tarbat, and was ultimately to
furnish the title of his Earldom. The letter was probably written on his
return home from one of the sessions of the University, and it may here be
given as a specimen of his early Latinity : —

Laus Deo. 2" Nouembris.

Charissime frater, — Hue redi incolumis, nee quid desideratum deest, excepta
vestra presentia. Enimvero, non est quod, bane ob causam, nimium affieier, quum
sciam localem distantiani nou impedire consortium caeleste ; et si quid impuritatis
terrestris ita nostrum adhuc inficiat, eompreeor immortalem Deum, ut hoc remov-
eat, renovando nostros affeetus et eorum effeetum, ut tali ejulemus eonsortio quod
neque corrumpi nee interrumpi poterit. Hee ut faxit, et omnia alia necessaria
adjieiat, vovetur enixe a

Tuo plus quam fratre,

For Sir Jhone Vrqhart of Cromarty — these. G. M. K.-

^ Fasti Aberdonenses, Spalding Club, 1854, p. 4GS. - Letter at Tarbat.



Deakest Brother, — I have returned hither in safety, and lack nothing that I long for,
except your presence. But truly there is no reason why I should be too much afflicted on
that o-round, since I know that distance in place does not hinder celestial fellowship ; and if
anything of the impurity of earth still affects ours, I beseech the everlasting God to remove it,
by renewing our affections and their effect, that we may rejoice in such a friendship as can
neither be corrupted nor interrupted. That He may grant this, and add all else that is need-
ful, is the earnest prayer of

Your more than brother, G. M. K.

Lord Tarbat's second son, Kenneth Mackenzie, afterwards of Cromartie,
was also educated at the same University of Aberdeen, where he entered
as a student in the year 1679, under Mr. George Fraser, Eegent, who was a
frequent correspondent of his father.

Sir George Mackenzie was one of the commissioners appointed by King
Charles the Second for visiting the Universities of Aberdeen in 1661. He
thus returned to the university in a different capacity from that in which he had
attended it as a student, fifteen years before his appointment as commissioner.

Even in his youth Sir George Mackenzie was a zealous Eoyalist. In
his fourteenth year he was made captain of a troop of horse ; four years
later, in 1648, he was made colonel of a regiment of dragoons, to be raised
in furtherance of the Engagement; and in 1650 he accompanied young
Lord Kiutail, afterwards Kenneth Earl of Seaforth, to the Highlands, in
order to raise all the men they could for King Charles the Second's service,
and went along with them to the King's camp at Stirling. -"^

While a young man, Sir George Mackenzie was observant of any remark-
able events which occurred, and having a retentive memory, could describe
them a gfeat number of years after they happened. In a letter to Mr. Boyle,
in the year 1699, Sir George Mackenzie, then Viscount Tarbat, relates several
instances of the second sight, of which he says that he heard very much,

' History of the Mackenzies, MS., by Dr. George Mackenzie.


but believed very little. He adds that, being obliged to reside in the north
of Scotland by the English usurpers, in the year 1652, he was induced to
make inquiry concerning the seers. He mentions several instances of the
second sight which came under his own observation. A servant working
in a field in Lochbroom, told him, on 4th May 1653, that he had seen an
army of Englishmen leading off horses, coming down the hill ; and gave
particulars of their proceedings. This was thought a foolish vision at the
time. But in the beginning of August thereafter, the Earl of Middleton,
then lieutenant for the King in the Highlands, sent a party towards the place
referred to by the seer, where they really acted in several ways as he had
predicted. In the same letter Lord Tarbat relates other striking instances
of the second sight which had occurred within his own knowledge, and also
states others from information furnished to him by Sir Norman Macleod and
other gentlemen.^

When he was in his twenty-fourth year, and shortly before his succession
to his father, Sir George Mackenzie married Anna Sinclair, daughter of Sir
James Sinclair of Mey. Their contract of marriage is dated at Lochsline,
on 6th July 1654. Sir William Sinclair, the brother of the bride, gave her
a tocher of 12,000 merks."^ It will afterwards be seen that the marriage
subsisted for the long period of forty-four years, when it was dissolved by
the death of the lady in 1699.

At the time of Sir George Mackenzie's succession to his father, in 1654,
Scotland was under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, the head of the Common-
wealth of England. General Monck was the Commander-in-chief of the