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The earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 2) online

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the Irish creacli vachtin the young mans hership. Whither Paull wes incited to this by
Murdo Riach or not is not now knoweu, but asisted by him he wes. The place they
pitch on for deprydatione was Cathnes. So levying such force as they could, they
obteined peacable passadge through Sutherland, and falling in to the brayes of Cathnes
they robed the country, drowe away multituds of cattell, and returned in safty home.
After which Murdo Riach nevir haid his brother's kyndnes so afFectionatly as formerly,
nor did Paull or he evir resume that peacable deportment which haid bein fitt for
good men, but puft up with success they frequently spoiled Cathnes, till at last
Murdo Riach was killed at , in Caithnes, and his two-handit sword, since

that tyme keipt by Burb of Tottinga till Kenneth, now Earl of Seafort, haid it from
him anno 1668, after whois death Paull wes not so turbulent, but had peace on no
other termes granted then by giveing his daughter to , Laird of Ballnigowin,

who was coossing and favourit with , Earl of Ross, at that tyme, by which

mariadge the greatest part of Stratharron, and much of Strathhokell, fell to Ballnigowin.
Of this Murdoch Riach are descendit the race called Slight Vurchie Riich, a people who
reteined much of the nature of ther forfather, tho restrained by law and good govern-
ment, and are numberous in Lochbroome, Cogiach, Sutherland, and Lewis.

But to returne to Murdo of Kintaill, he haveing accquired possessione of Lochbroome,
he shortly therafter went to Kintaill and peopled it againe the best he could, by recollectr-


ing his native tennants, which he did with the mor eas that the Leslies, all this while
being Earls of Ross, they walked more justly and peacably then others befor or after
did ; and lyckwayes David Bruce, haveing returned from his imprisonement anno 1 357,
peace wes the better observed at home, the benefeit wherof wes injoyed be M'^Kenzie,
for all the while of this turbulent adge I find no securitie in the chartor-chist till the
year 1362 ; at [which] tyme I find a charter granted by David Eaug of Scotland to
Murdoco filio Kenneti de Kintaill de terris, etc., dated at Edinburgh 1362, et regni
domini Regis 31, testibus Waltero Seneschalli Alexandre Ramsey, and otheris.

To this j\Iurdo Dow M'^Kenzie succeedit his eldest sonne, Murdo agnamed
Murdo ni Troit so called . He marled Fingalla, daughter

to M'^Leod of Herries, by whom he haid only on sone, Alexander, who succeidit
him. I find a charter gevin by King Robert to Murdo, filius Murdochi de KintaiU,
of Eantaill and Lagan Auchudrom, daited apud Edinburgh, anno 1380, et regni
nostri , testibus Willielmus de Dowglas, et Archembaldo de Galloway, et

Joanne cancellario Scotie. In this Murdoch his tyme, Alexander Leslie, Earl of Ross,
who wes kild at Halidown, I say Alexander, sone to the said Walter, maried his
sister Euphame to Donald of Ilia, and he himself married Robert, the govern our's
daughter, by whom he haid on only daughter Euphiam, who, dieing in the governour's
custody, did, befor her death, dispon the Earldome to the governour faillieing of aires
of hir body, which Donald of the Hies alleidged to have been carried on by force, and
deceit in the governor in prejudice of his wyfe, who should succeed to hir neice as
neirest aire. He came from the Hies with a power of men, and posest the Earldome.
The governour, Robert Stewart, haveing the magistracy in his hand, fixt his title by law.
Donald, who haid the naturall claime, retained possession by force, wherupon the gover-
nour, makeing it a publict quarreU, raisd ane army vnder the conduct of the Earl of
Marr, his brother, who, marching north, wes rencountred by Donald at Harlau, in Marr,
wher wes fought that famous battell of Harlaw, anno 1409, with incertain victory,
had not Donald's tuo speidy retreat after the battell ascertained it to the governor,
induced therto perhappes by his confederats, who, terified by the name of autority and
magistracy, perswaded Donald to comply with ther inchnationes. At this battell Donald
wes asisted almost with all the northern people, M'^Kenzie excepted, who, because of the
many injuries receaved by his predicessors from the Earls of Ross, and cheefly by insti-
gation and concurrances of Donald's predicessors, he withdrew and refused concurrance.
Donald resolved to ruine him, but deferd it till his returne, which falling out mor
vnfortunatly then he expected, did not allow him power nor oportunity to use the


vengeance he intendit, for, on his returne to Ross, he sent to M^Kenzie a freind with
fair speiches desyreing his freindship, thinking no enimy despicable as he then stood.
Murdo comeing to him to Dinguall, Donald dealt with him to joine him, and to give
asurance to his intrest, which Murdo, partly out of hatred to his family on old feuds,
pairtly diswaded by Donald's declineing fortune, refused, wherupon, most vnhandsomly,
he maks Murdo prisoner, and secures him in a low chamber in the castell of Dinguall,
who, at a window, he informed a Kenlochew man, his foster-brother, that the only way
to releive him wer, if they could apprehend the Laird of Ballnigowin, a persone at
that tyme old, but on wher Donald did cheifly rely on for counsell, and on that wes
respected in the country as descendit of the former Earls of Ross befor the Lesly. In
persuance wherof, the Kenlochew men being informed of this by the foster-brother, past
towards the house of Ballnigowin, all alongs by montaines and night-travelling vndis-
covered, being in number 42, and, comeing by day light to Ballnagowin, they fand the
good old man at matins in the chappell within his gardin, wher, seazing him, they in
hast fled with him to the hils and past homeward. Ther interest for most pairt lay
at a distance, and to the east; the Monroes posest most of what lay to the west, w^ho, being
stird with the injurie don to ther freind and neighbur, the Laird of Fouls, with such as
he could gather in hast, advanced to the hils with designe to fall in befor the Kenlochew
men. Fouls with tuo of his sonnes wer on horse, having left his 3d sonne by the
first wyfe a man at home. He failed not in his designe, but falling on a strait ground on
the shoulder of the high montaine , he overtaks thes Kenlochew men and falls

on them with what power he haid. They regarding more ther maister's liberation then
ther owin safty, send of 4 of ther number to Ballnigowin to cary him away, and the
rest being 26 ; and for ther defence they tyed ther shooes with ther belts on ther

breasts to defend them from the enimyes' arrowes, and, in this posture, setting them-
selftes in a narrow passage, and the ground serveing them conveniently for keiping
thos sent with Ballnigowin from discovery, they fought with such valour, that at the
first rencounter, haveing kild Foull's eldest sonne, they so provocked the father's furie,
and his so stir'd upe the couradge of his followers, who containually increased

from the tounes about, that albeit all the defendants wer kild to a man, yet wes ther
lyves sold at a dear rate, haveing not [only] kild FouUs and his tuo sonnes that came forth
to the persuit at first ; but his lady being a stepmother to them, and the other young man
who wes left at home she wpbreaded him with a shamefull lurking whilst his father and
brothers wes in danger ; wherupon he lyckwyse followed in rage, and comeing too late
to safe his father, came soon enough to share in ther fate, wherby a young childe,


aud sone of the second mariadge, was that night cheife of that tribe, his father and 3
brethreiu falling in that conflict. The place wher this wes fought is called to this day
Beallachin Broege, that is, the Pack of the Shooes, because of the binding the shooes on
ther breasts, dureing which tight the 4 that vent away with Ballangowin wer out of
all reach, and so convoyed him to Kenlochew, and imediatly addrest to the Earl of
Ross for ane exchange with ther master, which he readily agried to, both because of
the affectione he cary[ed] to Ballnagowin and because he found himselfe necessitat to leave
Ross, the governour comeiug with a force to posess it. This ^PKenzie wes releived by
the fidelity and valour of his servants, whois actione, tho but a few and mean persones,
and obscured from wreitters, did justly me[r]itt ane mentione in the best records, being
eminent for affectione, fidelity, couradge, and conduct. M'^Kenzie this releived, he
repaired to Kintaill. This fell out the next yeir after Harlaw, which, according to
Boetius, wes anno 1409, and [Holin]shed 1411. Of this Murdo I find not much
mor to say till the yeir 1427. I find ane other chartor givin to him, without varia-
tione of stile or tenor, by King James, at Invemes, at which tyme Alexander of the
Illes, and pretendit Earl of Ross, came to the King and ingadged his faith for future
fidelity and peacable behaviour, and on that wes sett at liberty. Many robers and
rebells wer execut by King James the First at that circuit, and most at Invernes ;
but shortly therafter the Alexander gathered the Islanders, and in his passage to Invernes
robed and burned Kintaill ; he burned Invernes and beseidged the castell, but the King,
with admirable speed, convocat a convenient force. On the report of his comeing
Alexander disguosd himself, and, in a poor habit, mad such heast, that finding the
King at Halyrood-house befor he marched, in church, at Mass, on Easterday, and
finding the King in devout action, he threw himself befor him, begging mercy for His
sak who rose that day. The Queen interceiding for him, the King pardoned as to
lyfe, but gave his persone in custody to William Dowglas, Earl of Angus, in Tamtallon.
His mother, Eunphiam, daughter to Walter Lesly, Earl of Ross, wes comitted prisoner
to Inchcolm, she being of a turbulent temper, and ane inciter of hir childrein to
rebellion, moved by the loss of the Earldome of Ross, wherto she acclamed title ; this
happined anno 1428. Nevertheles, hir second sonne, called Donald, and agnamed
Baleach, raised the Islanders, aud intendit a rebellione, to obviat which the Earles of Marr
and Caithnes, both then of the surname of Stewart, wer sent by the King againest them
with ane army. This Donald wes then very young, and caryed on principally by his kinred
and M<=Lean to this course. The Earles rencountered him at Inverlochy, in Lochaber,
wher Donald haid the victory, and the Earl of Caithnes wes kild ; the Earl of Marr fled.


and Donald returned to the Illes with spoile in triumph. The King raised ane army to
reveng thes wrongs, wherwith he marched to Dunstafnage ; on his comeing Donald fled
to Irland, and most of the clans, his confedrats, submitted to the King, others of his
followers wer apprehendit and execut, to the number of 300. I find a comission anno
1431, to Murdo M'^Canich de Kintaill, granted by Alexander, Earl of Marr, for appre-
hending Alexander Keyle and his complices, and to execut justice on them, and comanding
all other subjects in each place to give help to riddance. The writt is old, and is
daited at the Castell of Forress.

To Murdo ni Troit succeidit his sone Alexander agnamed Inrick, i.e. honest,
for his truth and honest behaviour. At his entry to his estait the country wes
in peace, and the Earl of Ross (for all this while the M'^Donald keipt possession)
wes vnder obediance. His name wes Donald, who haveing obteined pardon for
the rebellione he haid raised, instigat to it by the Dowglas, when he wes banished
be King James the 2. He leived for a whille in good neighbourhead with the
King's subjects, which wes on [of] the express conditiones of his pardon. This Donald,
in his rebellion, haid seased the houl of Invernes, and stilled himself, foolishly,
King of the Ills ; but on his submission he wes pardoned, and asisted the King with a
considerable force at Roxbrugh, wher the King being kild, he returned to his country
and old course, seased Invernes againe, spoiled all the good subjects about, and amongst
other he imployed ane pairty to tack Alexander M'^Kenzie of Kintaill, who, haveing
bein with him at Roxbrugh, he thought to have haid him ane assistant still, but
Alexander, who wes only with him whilst he wes with the King, finding him debord
from his aleidgance, retired amongest the first, which so Donald that, as I

sed, he imployed a pairty to tack him, haveing nottice that he then residit at Inversteall,
in Kintaill ; but a foolle or jester, to whom Alexander had bein kynd, who abod in
the Earl's house, advertished Alexander, by sending a boy to him to repeat a rhyme,
which, tho it seemed nonsence and folly, did couch advertisment enough to Alexander,
without no doubt had ingadged this fellow to such lyck service, so he escaped, but the
party wasted his country. On thing is remarkable, that his hereditary tenneuts, tho
not descendit of his predicessors (as most of the Highland teunants are desendit of the
samen family with ther cheifi), did nevir prow vnfaithfull, no, nor nevir deserted them
in ther so many dificulties which the Earl of Ross and Donald of the Ills did aflict them
with since Collin Gerald's first planting in Kintaill, but maugre all the prejudice of
warr they adhyred to ther maister. The lands of Kintail being weill furnished

with venison and fischiugs, which in all made by ther enimies furnished them


victuall for ther mantcainance. This trouble containowecl to Alexander all tlie tyme of
Donald's lyfe, who haveing tacking the Earl of Atholl and his lady prisoners, and spoiled
the whole country, robed St. Bryde's Church, in Atholl, and perpetrat many haynous
outrages. By God's just judgement he became made. The prisoners wer released, and
he caryed back as ane attonement to St. Bryde, tho to no purpose, for his madenes
containueing, wes caryed back to Invernes, wher he died, anno 1461 ; and which wes
very remarkable, many of his captaines fell with him in the lyck madnes, and died so.
After his death the country became mor peacable, and Alexander vent south to gett new
confirmation of his lands. His chartor from the King is daited apud Edinburge, anno
1462, et regni domini Regis secundo, testibus Jacobo Archiepiscopo [Sancti] Andree,
domino Alexandro Boyd, domino Guilelmo Cranston et aliis. Alexander had to his first
wyfe, Ann, daughter to JPCoull of Lome, by whom he had Kenneth and Duncan ; and
after her death he maried Margrat, daughter to M'^Coull of Morir, by whom he haid
Hector. Off Duncan are descendit the Shiell Allaine and Loggy ; of Hector, the family
of Garloch. Donald of the Ills, and Earl of Ross made Johne, his sone, succeid in both.
He begane his lyf with imitation e of his father, but with mor pardone [prudence] and fewer
injuries. He desyred freindship with Alexander of Kintaill ; and to obleidge him the
more he gave severall lands in the Brayes of Ross, to be holdin ward of the Earls of Ross.
The chartor containes the lands of Garive, Kenlochlychart, Killin, Garbat, and of the lands
of Kenlochew. It's daited apud Castrum de Dinguall, 10 Januar 1463. The disponer
designes himself Joannes de Ilia, Comes de Ross. Thes lands of Kenlochew wer a pairt
of thes which Murdo Dow did claim, with the rest of Lochbroome, in right of his wyfe, as I
ther mentionated. But at this tyme Johne Earl of Ross dispons them be wertew of his
pretendit right, wherby also he and his predicessors did still claime and oftymes posest
them and the rest of Lochbroome. This emity containued a good whille, for tho John
did comitt many outradgs on others, yett all the while he lived in good neighbourhead
with Alexander, till, stird up by his bad counsellours, he invaded Murray, to which
expeditione Alexander refusing concurrance, after his returne he disposest him of thes
lands formerly gifted to him ; but John being called to a Parlyament for his wrongs,
in Januar 1476 he wes accused of treason, and not compeiring, no sentance past.
Wherfor the King raised ane army of the best men benorth Forth to persew him. The
Earl of Craufoord wes made admirall by sea, and the Earl of Athol be land. By the
Earl of Atholl's meanes, John wes brought to submitt himselfe to the King, anno 1477,
and then he resigned the Earldom of Ross, Kintyre, and Knapdell in the King's hands
for evir, which resignation is recordit in Parliament ; and the King pardoned his ofiicers
VOL. II. 3


[offences], and of new invested him in the lairdship of the Ills, to be holdin ward. The lands
of the Earldom of Ross, disponed by this John, wer for most pairt reduced, but Alexander
of Kintaill haid gift renewed, and a new charter givin of them to him at Edinburgh,
anno 1477, which wes imediatly after resignation. The resignatione wes in May, and
his chartor is in September. Whilst John of Ilia oprest Alexander, non wes a greater
enimy to him than Allan of Moydart, who made severall inrads into Kintaill and
robed it ; but after that John haid resigned the Earldome of Ross, his dependers
wenting his protectioue, this Allan's young brother drew a factione of his tennants in
Moydart, and by violence posest the estait. John of Ilia being vnwilling to medle
in turbulent affaires, or, as some thought, favouring the younger brother, refused asist-
ance to Allane, wherupon he came personaly to Kinnellan, a place in Ross which Alex-
ander haid then in his possession from the Earl of Sutherland, and being ane ille in
ane loch, Alexander did ordiuarly reside in it for security, and whose presence surprysed
Alexander, as being on of his greatest enimies, and never reconcild ; but he told him
plainlie how he wes abused by his neirest freinds, and therfor choist to make his recourse
to his greatest enimies, who perhaps might therby gain as faithfull a freindof him as for-
merly he haid a diligent adversary. And Alexander, deteasting the oppression done to
liim, requitts his adres with a good asistance, and vent in persone with sufficient force to
repossess him, which he accomplished. Heirvpon the weaker party make some repre-
sentationes with the King of Alexander as a disturber of the peace and ane oppressor.
Whereupon he wes cited to Edinburgh ; but heir wes occasion givin to Allan to requitt
Alexander's generosity, for Alexander haveing raised armes to asist him without com-
mission, he found in it a transgresion of law, tho' just upon the matter ; so to prevent
Alexander's prejudice, he presently vent to Hallyroodhouse wher the King wes, being
of a bold temper, did truly relate how his and Alexander IM'^Kenzie's affairs stood, show-
ing withall that he, as being the occasione of it, ues ready to suffer what law would
exact rather then to expose so generous a freind to any hazard. King James wes so
tackin with ther reciprocall heroisimes, that he not only forgave, but allowed Alexander
and of new confirmed Allan in the lands of Moydart. A litle befor I hinted that Alex-
ander had Kinnellan from the Earl of Sutherland, which wes on this occasion : the King
haveing the Earldome of Ross now putt in his hands peaceably, he [gave the] manadgment
of its rent to the Earl of Sutherland, who pute on Alexander as the fittest persone to
order it for him, wherwpon he transferrs that trust on him, wherby he haid occasion to
be oft in the Low Countries, where he haid no lands, but choisd Kiuellan (a secure place)
for his abod, and Braan for a maines, both which he and his successors keipt as rent-


allers to the King, till Kenneth of Kintaill fewed Braan, and Coline his son fewed
Kinellan. This was a kyndnes from the Earle of Sutherland, and Alexander ues
neither vngrate nor vnfaithfull, for he not only accquitt the trust weill in manadgiug
the Earldome to the satisfaction of the King and the Earl ; but the Earl being south,
waiting on the King, the Strathnaver men and braymen of Cathness took oportunity in.
his absence to invad Sutherland. Ther preparationes wer not so queyt, but that the
allerum of ther intentiones spread over the adjacent countries. Wherwpon. Alexander,
with a party of about sex hunder men, past over to Sutherland, and the Sutherland
joyneing with him, he gave a notable defeat to the robers, kild many, and forced the
remanent to secure for peace, and to find surty for peacable caryadg for the future.
At this tyme he begat on a gentlwoman in Sutherland a sone, who wes called Dowgall ;
and the Earl of Sutherland, in kyndnes to his father, causit educat carfully, who pro-
fitted so in letters that he wes made prior of Bewlie by Pope , and is yet memor-

able for prudance and pietie in the records of that priory. He repaired the church of
Bewlie, inlarging it with a south ille, opposit to M°Kenzie's ille, on the north syd of the
kirk ; in which south ille prior Dowgall lyes buried in a tombe artificiall according to
ther tyme, buildit by his own directione.

Ther is a traditione that when this Alexander wes a boy at scooles, after his
father's death at St. Johnstoun, that his bastard brother. Hector Birrach, and Sewill
Dearhullach, that is reed-eyed, did usurp his possession, and some actiones are ren-
countred that past on his recovering of his estate. Ther is no certainty in this, for out
of doubte Alexander wes of manly adge or his father died. Off Hector Birrach I know
no successione. Off Sewill are come John M°Kenzie, comissar deput, Mr. Rorie
M<=Kenzie, parson of Moy, and some others.

Alexander wes now old, and haveing attained to longer peace then any of his pre-
decessors, he wes desyrous to provyd it to his posterity ; his eldest sone, Kenneth,
comeing to the age of 20 yeires, he judged it a fitt mean to procuire his peace iff he
should match with John of Ilia, and so extingushe ther old feads in that dearest band,
whereto Ilia soone accordit, and a mariadge wes solemnized betuixt Kenneth and
daughter to John of Ilia, whom traditione calls the Earl of Ross, but
wrongously, since this wes long after the resignation. Donald, eldest son to John of
Ilia, came to Ross, and now the mor secure because of this allya, he posseses himself,
tho not with the Earldom, yett with the house of Balcony and adjacent lands, as
ues thought with further designe, and to ingadge his old dependers at the nixt Crist-
mas he provydit a great feast, inviting to it most of the cheifs and considerable barons


benorth Spey, amongst others his brother-in-law, Kenneth. The house of Balcony
being somewhat out of repair, haid not such convenience to lodge all the guests, wherfor
of necessity outtir houses wer accomodat for some. Kenneth comeing on Cristmas
evin, with such traine as that tyme allowed, for the least being towards 40 persones,
on M'^Lean, who wes cheeff overseer in the house, haid discordit with Kenneth some
few dayes befor at gameing ; and it being in his proveince to ordour the respective
lodgings for ilk guest, he meitt Kenneth and told him because of his relatione to the
family they had made bold to provyd his lodgings in the kill, which Kenneth tacking
ill, and worse that he deemed it to proceid from this ^PLean's resentment, in ane in-
discreit rashnes he gives him a box on the ear, and, being of great strenth, threw
him to the ground, which the servants (not few in number) tacking as ane afront to
M^'Donald, for so they did still denominat ther cheefe, made to armes ; but Kenneth,
tho bold enough, finding himself too weake aither to fight or to retreat handsomly, did
with a ready judgment fall on a way both safe and shamles. Balcony lyes neir to the
sea, some boats wer provydit for transport of the guests, to which boats Kenneth goes
and tacks them of the shoare, what wes mor as served him he sunk, and in tuo or three
he past to the other syde, wher he abod that night. Thes of the other sid, judgeing
nothing les then that he should abyd ther, but that he haid immediatly retreated to the
hils, that night he abod with a tennent, who haid no syrnam but a patronimick, as all
the comons in Ross have ; but this proud younge man, boyling in passione, toock it as
afront that he ues necessitat to be on Cristmas from his owin house, and neither with a
freind nor kinsman, nor on his owin estate ; he first desyred his landlord to owin the
syrnam of M'^Kenzie, and promest him protectione, whereto the goodmau willingly
accordit, which he and his posterity retaine to this day. The nixt morueing, being
Cristmas day, he vent to the hill abowe Chanry and desyred to speak with the Bishope
of Ross (who ues solemnizing Cristmas with some of his clergy), and with some what

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