William Fraser.

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

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of the toune desyred him to come speak with him. The of thes tymes and

the young man's temper, made the Bishope to condescend to meitt him, tho' it loockit
a litle strange. At melting he would neid have a few of that litle peice land wher he
haid lodged the night befor, and told the reasone, least M'^Donald should bragge that
he haid forced him on Cristmas to lodge at ane other man's discretione, and not on his
owin heritadge. The Bishope, partly willing to obleidge him, and to by him in wassal-
adge, and partly fearing to doe otherwayes, perceaveinge the man in radge, he presently
sent to the [toune] for his clerk, and drew a cbartor of the toune of Cullicuden, for so
the place wes called, wherwpon Kenneth returned to it and abode in it all that day as


his owin. This toune, tho' small, he and his successors keipt to Colline of Kintaill
accquired more of the Bishopes fewes contigue to it, and at last it with the rest wes
exchanged with the Shirreff of Cromartie for some lands in Strapepher. The nixt day-
after Cristmas he vent to Kinellan, wher his father Alexander wes, who, extremly
greived at the occurrenc, knowing that a small varriance would reveive ther old grudges,
and albeit now they wer in les fear because that M<=Donald his intrest of Ross, yett
the old experienced man knew them a great clann, and mor powerfull thene himself
in privat force, but thes sentiments did nothing allay Kenneth's discontent, whois
naturall feircness could broock no disobleigement, but thought himselfe wronged to
that height that he wished opportunity of revenge ; but the fate of the other family-
did prevent the injurie tov/ards him, for in the fourt day on wes sent from M'^Donald
(who, because John his father wes on lyfe, wes called the Tiernoige, that is, the young
lord, for tiern extendit to all persones of qualitie then), and the messinger had mandat
to warne Alexander and Kenneth to remove from [thence] and aU ther family in 24 hours,
with certification of warr if they did not, only allowing that the young lady, his sister,
might stay till she wer accomodat by leasur to remove. Kenneth, not waiting his father's
answer nor advyce, did in angir but tell McDonald he would have his father sitt ther
him and all his power ; for himself, he ues to receave no mles for his
staying or goeing, but he should be suire enough to hear of him wherevir he wer, and
for his sister, since he had no raynd to keip further peace with the brother, he would
not longer keip hir, but with some small convoy of servants sent hir presently to Ball-
cony, which unhumanity did so greive the poor lady that after that she uevir recoverit
health, haveing a short whill befor bein brought to bedd of a sone, who wes called
Kenneth, and because his father wes of the samen name he wes called Kenneth Oig, i.e.
younge Kenneth. It apeared that he haid no kyndnes for this lady, for some few
dayes after he put iiir away he vent to Lovat, accompany [ed] with towards 200 men, and
beseidged the house. The Lord Lovat, who -wes surprysed with this actione, vent to
demand its proport. Kenneth told that he came to demand his daughter Ann in
mariadge, in respect now that he haid no wyfe, and desyrit hir without further delibe-
ration, since by that he should obleidge him in a strict freindshipe to his family ; and
if he refused, he should ingadge him to a mortall enmity, the first effect wherof should
be that he haid at present a party gathering the men, women, and guids that wer neir
adjacent, all -which shold be made on fyne to evidence his resolution. The Lord Lovat,
who haid no kyndnes for ^PDonald, and wes desyrous enough to ingadge M^Kenzie
in a freindshipe, straithned also with the exigence of his people's danger, and know


ing the bold temper of Kenneth, he resolved to grant his desyre, and accordingly
delyvered his daughter to him. He imediatly returned home with hir, and ever after
leived with her as husband and wyfe. M<^Donald, exasperat by thes injuries, sends his
great Stewart M<=Lean to levy forces in the Ills, and to convocat his neirest relationes
in the Maine, such as the M'^Donalds of Moydart and the Clan-Ean of Ardni-
murchan, who, haveing in short tyme made vp a sufficient force towards fyftein
hundereth men, he accquainted M'^Donald therwith, who appoynted them to meitt him
at Containe, in respect that Alexander ]\PKenzie being old, hade not gone to Kintaill,
but resolved to stay in Ross, judgeing that the M'^Donalds would not adventur to con-
vocat and invade the Lowcountry after such late ingadgment to obedience and peace :
yett Kenneth, forseeing the dangir from the rebellious temper of his brother- in- law,
had, on the begineing of M'^Donald's preparationes, gone to Kintaill and secured the
house of Illandonan with a competent garison and sufficient provisiones, the goods with
some to drive them to the most remote and queyt hils being left, he toock the rest of
the fensable men, with all otliers of his dependers in Strathchonan, Strathgarve, and other
glens in the Brayes of Ross, to guard his father and himself, tho a number very unpro-
portionable to the force convocated againest him. However, confideing in the protec-
tione of the lawes, and the opinion he haid of the McDonald's vnwillingnes to invade
Ross, he stayed at Kinnellan, his father abod in the litle Hie ; Kenneth, with such as
he haid with him, lay at the Lochsyd, in a secure ground. M<^Donald's forces, ledd by
Gillespick, brother- aaturall to John of Ilia, and vnckle to this Donald, who wes at
Balcony, drew doune to Ross, wasting Kintaill and Strathconan as he past, came to
Containe on the day of , being Sunday. The whol people wer in con-

fusione because of the outrage of the Islanders. The fensible men wer with M'Kenzie,
the old and young, with ther women, fled into the kirk of Containe, judgeing that a
secure shelter from Cristiane enimies ; but it prowed not so againest sacrilegious outlawes,
who, I know [not], whither with more impietie or crueltie, lock vp the doores of the
church, the preist and people being within, and burned them all to ashes, not on escape-
ing. Some of the beholders runne away and accquainted M'^Kenzie with this execrable
acctione, greived att the lose of the people, but declared a gladnes, that thes who wer
otherwayes tuo numberous for him, haid now ingadged God againest them. Containe
lyes not a mile from Kinnellan, wher M'^Kenzie ly, but apprehending that M°Kenzie
dared not abod, M'^Donald appoyntit his vnckle Galespeick to draw the forces vp to the
large moore, called in the Irish dialect Blairnapark, that he might veive his forces, and
send out parties to persew M^'Keuzie. M'^Kenzie all this whill ly in his strong ground,


which he judged himselfe able to defend, and conveniently enough situated to wait for
attaques on the enimie if he should find oportunytie. He haid not abow sex huuder
men, and for thos he had provydit wictualls for a longer tyme then LPDonald could
keipe his forces togither in that place. The country people have drewin ther goods to
remote places, so that McDonald could not weill be furnished. About tuelf acloack
McDonald drawes vp his forces in the moore, which ly not a quarter of a mile leaguir,
and separated from it only by [a] litle moss. Kenneth, fearing to be beseidged, perswadit
his father to goe to a stronge rock called Craignifiich, [that] is the raven's rock, by which
place Kenneth resolved to flee if he found it necessar, the old man vent recomending his
sone to God's asistance, and, by his confident , assureiug them of succes, notwith-

standing of the power of the adversare. Kenueth, perceaving IPDonald's force greater
then wer fitt to be fought with by his small power, resolved to mantaine his ground ;
but, moved by ane excess of couradge, he resolved on ane essay to bring his enimie to
ane disadvantadge, which wes to draw out 300 of his men, and to march straught over
the moss towards them, judging that ther contempt of his number would procuir vnad-
vertancy, and probably to a disordorly asault ; and he resolveing and accquanting his
brother Duncan with his resolutione to retreat at the first approach, so to intice
McDonald to a persuit, he desyred Duncan, with the rest of the people, to be in readines
to fall doune in a close body on the persewers in the moss, which being full of pits
and of a narrow bounds, made the unequality of number less hurtfull. So marching boldly
with his 300, M^'Donald in great derisione called his vnckle to sie M^Kenzie's impudent
madnes, who dared this to face him at such disadvantage. Gillespeck answered that
such extraordinar boldnes in our enimies should move extraordinar warines in us least
we fall into vnexspected inconvenience. M*^Donald replyes in rage, " Goe you also and
joyue with them, and it will not neid our care, nor move the least fear in my followers."
Mean whill M'^Kenzie advances a litle beyond the moss, and M'Lean of Lochbuy, who
had the vann of M'^Donald's men, charges him, and with the first brunt M'^Kenzie flies,
but so as putting himselfe in the rearward he gave as much hurt as he receaved.
The space for retreat wes short, and Duncan observeing the enimie disordered and
scattred in the persuit, and within the moss, according to his brother's ordours,
he marched doune, and asaulting them violently, he kils most of them erre they
could attaine the maine batle, which most vnskilfully had also quitte ther ground
in disorder, vnwilling that RPLeane should have the kilUng of IVPKenzie's men alon,
so Duncan entred ther battell, put them in great confusione. Kenneth meane whill,
with this 300 (who wer all weell instructed in their maister's designe), followed after


Duncan, and err the eniuiie could draw to any ordor, lie fall in on ther right flanck
with such fury, and doeing such executione, that albeit the McDonalds wer ashamed
to flie befor ane enimie so latly by them, yett at last ther resolutione

gave place to his couradge, for Gillespick, to evidence that tho' he wes wary in his
councell he wes not fearfull in his actione, he sought out for M'^Kenzie, and being
guarded with some of his shouldiers, he found him out in the midst of the battel],
signalized with extraordinar executioune ; for, haveing kild or ceased all that opposit
themselfes to him, he gave a signe for Gillespick to begine ane new act, but Kenneth
exceiding both in strength and couradge, could broock no tedious debate in combatt
but pressing in with a fearfull eagirnes, he at ane blow cutt of Gillespick's arme
and past very farr into his body, so that he fell doune dead. M'^Kenzie's standard-
bearer rencountreing M'^Donald's, he slew him, and then trust the stalf of the standard
through his body, and left his attenders to guard it, himself pasing on in the battell
towards his maister, who, seing him without his collours, asked what became of them.
He told that he left M'^Donald's standard-bearer keipeing them, but without shame. Be
this tyme M'^Donald wes tackin prisoner, and M^'Leane of Lochbuy wes kild by Duncane
Moir, M'^Kenzie's great scallack, which, with the great slaughter and contanuance of
M'^Kenzie's vninterrupting fury, the enimie fall to a totall flight, in which most of
them all wer kild, quarter being no ordinar complement in thos dayes. Severalls of the
M'^Donalds fled towards the river of Conan, wherby ane old woman subtilly who told
them, asking for a foord, that all the river wes but on foord, they in the river

and drownd. Thes who escaped or found the foord wer kild by on Classin Gowe, a
smith ane of the Lord Lovat's people, who being related by coaltshipe that is fostering
to Lovat's daughter, haid come to hir husband's asistance, but comeing too late
for the batle, haid oportunity heir to doe more service then if he had bein at it.
The night befor this battell the Laird of Brody haid come on some freindly occasion to
Kinnellan, and nixt morneing, as he wes goeing to horse, he perceaved some of M'^Ken-
zie'[s] men in armes, wherupon he asked if the enimie wes certainly so neir as that it wes
probable they should fight or night ; and being informed that they wer at hand, he
stoped his journey and said he ues ane ill fellow and worse that would leave his

freind at such a tyme ; and albeit M'^Kenzie indeavoured to alter his resolutione and
disuad his stay, yet he would neids abyd, and in the batle behaved himself to the
advantadge of his freind and notable loss of his enimie ; and imediatly after the batle
he vent on his journey, which did knit such a freindshipe tuixt ]\PKenzie and him
that it did propogat to posterity, and evir yett remames tuixt them, being more

sacredly observed then the tyes of affinity and consangunity amongst most of others.
Nixt morneing M'^Kenzie, judgeing that thos who escapit, railyeing midst the hils,
might robe and spoile his people who lye in ther way, he followed vpe to Strathconan,
wher he found, according to his guess, that the enimie, towards 300, had railyed, and
wer distroying what remained of ther former crueltyes ; but on his sight they toock
them to flight, but to litle purpose, most or all of them being kild in the retreat. Some
few that fell in M<^Kenzie's way wer saised; amongst whom wes Gillespeicks sone called
Alexander. This Gillespeiek is in the charters named Glestin. He ues naturall brother
to John of Ilia, for in a charter, daitit , granted by the said John to him,

he designes him fratri nostro carnali. M'^Donald being tackin, Glestin kild, and now
Alexander, sone to Glestin tackin, M'^Kenzie returned with a compleit victorie to Kin-
ellan, wher he haid left M<^Donald vnder guard with his father. The old man imbraced
his sone, but said (with a too great severity) that he feared they haid made tuo dayes
work of on, since, by spairing LPDonald and this young Alexander, they i^reserved
thos who might yett give them trouble. Yett Kenneth, tho' a lyon in the batle, could
not by thes prudentiall warneings be induced to ane unglorious crueltie ; but fearing
least his rude followers might committ some unhandsom fact on the prisoners, he send
M'^Donald with a guard to Lovit, to be keipt ther till he should advyse how to dispose
of him, and he keipt Alexander with himself; and contrar to all expectatioun, within
6 monethes he released them both, tacking them bound by oath and honour never to
molest him nor his, nor to pretend to any right in the Earldome of Ross, which Alex-
ander, this Donald's grandfather, had so fully resigned formerly to the King.

Alexander M'^Kenzie being of a great age, died at , and wes buried at

About the samen tyme Kennethe's first lady, whom he had (for any thing evir wes heard)
so vnjustly divorced, overwhelmed with so many and great misfortunes from hir husband's
facts and hir brother's fate, overcome by greiff, died at , the , haveiug

Kenneth oige, hir sone, not many monthes old. The King so weill approwed what
Kenneth performed on. this occasion, that notwithstanding he wes not vnder commissione,
yett it wes lookt on as a kynd of self-defence, because of the contanuall oppressiones and
wrongs perpetrat by M'^Donald's family on ^PKenzie and other legall people; wherfor
he wes continued in possessione of the manadgment of the Earldome of Ross, paying
some consideration in name of rent for it. The M'^Donalds, after this stroak, never
attempted anything on the Earldom of Ross, nor againest M'^Kenzies, but ther power
with ther iutrest evir after diminished, as shall appeir, M^Kenzie, with all the other
inhabitants of Ross, enjoyeing therafter the benefi'eitts of peace and the protection of
VOL. II. 3 P


law. And albeit Kenneth raised great fears in his neighbours by his temper and
power, by which he haid overturned so great ane intrest as that of LPDonald, yett
it appearit that he did not pi'oceid to such attemptts but on just resentments and
rationall grounds ; for dureing his lyfe he not only protected the country by
his power, but he caryed so, that non wes els estemed a better neighbour to his
freinds, nor a juster maister to his dependers. In that on thing of his caryadge
to his first wyfe, he is justly rejirowable ; in all things else he merits justly to be
numbered amongst the best of our Scots patriots. He had but one sone by his
first lady ; by Lovat's daughter he haid four, John, Alexander, Rorie, and M*" Ken-
neth, and on daughter, named , who wes first maried to M*^Key, and after his
deceas to Rorie M'^Leod of Lewes, who begatt on hir on sone called Torghill ; and this
Rorie being a persone inconstant and lacivious, he forged calumnies againe.st her without
any ground, and therupon, as if she haid bein truly guilty, he putt her awaye, and
maried on Stewart, daughter to a gentleman in Orkney, and shortly after he put hir
away also, and maried a daughter of McLean's. I insinuat in this place, because from
this, as a root, did arise many not emergents relating to the house of Kintaill and
Lewis. All thes sones of Agnes Fraser wer young wlien ther father died. This fight
at Blairnapark put M'^Kenzie in great respect thorough all the north. The Earl of
Huntly, George, who wes the second Earle, did contract a freindship with him, and
wlien he wes imployed by King James 3d to assist him againest the conspirators
in the south, Kenneth came with 500 men to him, in summer 1488 : but erre they
came the lenghe of Perth, M'^Kenzie had nottice of his father Alexander's death, wher-
wpon Huntly caused him retire to ordor his affaires, least his old enimies might tack
advantage on such a change, and Huntly judgeing that they wer rather too numberous
then weak for the conspirators, by which occasion he wes absent from that vufortunat
batle wher King James 3d wes kild, yett evir after this Earl George, and his
sone Alexander, the 3d Earl of Huntly, keipt a great kyndnes to Kenneth and his

From the yeir 1489 the kingdom vnder King James 4d ues at great peace, and
therby M'^Kenzie toock oportunity to setle his privat affaires, which for many yeires
befor, yea, severall ages, had bein almost still disturbed by the Earls of Ross and
Lords of the Hies, and so he lived in peace and good correspondances with his neigh-
bours till the yeir 1491, for in the moneth of February that yeir he died, and ues
buried at Bewlie, on the of . All his predecessors wer

buried at Icolmkill, as wer most of the considerable cheiffs in the Highlands, but this


.Kenneth, after his mariage, keipt frequent devotiones with the Convent of Bewlie, and
at his owin desyre wes buried ther, in the ille on the north syd of the alter, which
wes built by himselfe in his lyftyme or he died ; after that he done pennance for his
irregular marieing of Lovit's daughter. He procured recomendationes from Thomas
Hay, Bishop of Ross, to Pope Alexander the 6, from whom he procured a legittma-
tione of all the cheildrein of the mariadge, daited apud St Petri, papatus nostri primo,
anno Cristiano 1491.

To Kenneth Ivlair, who wes the 4d Kenneth of Kintaill, succeidit his sone by
the Lord of the Ills' daughter, called Sir Kenneth. King James 4 tacking great
cair for helping the Highlands in peace, amongst other mediums for aweing them he
keipt severalls of the young cheiffes at Edinburgh, therby reteineing pleidges of ther
clanns, and tacking oportunity to civilize the Highlands by the good educatione of ther
cheiffes. Amongst others, he toock a speciall cair of this Kenneth and ]\PIntosh, as being
considerable for ther power, and both young men of great spirit. They remained at
Edinburgh, vnder a favourable custody, till thes tuo young gentlemen, vnwilling to
containow in this specious restraint, ashamed to be idle whilst they judged themselfes
fitter actors for the stage of ther country, they resolved to make ther escape from the
castell of Edinburgh (for they haid the liberty of the bounds within the wals). In
goeing over the wall M^Kenzie hurt his legge, wherby he wes vnable to goe so fast as wes
necessar ; and M*=Intosh, resolving rather to be tacken with his freind then to desert
him, in 3 dayes tyme they came no farther then the Torwood ; and in a privat hous,
wher they suspected no danger, they meitt with the Laird of Buchanan, being ther in
outlaw for slaughter. Knowing that both thes cheiffes wer the King's pleidges, and
judgeing that therby he might have a meane to ingratiat himself with the King if he
should tack them and bring them back to Edinburgh, he resolved so to doe, and in per-
suance therof he drawes his followers about the house, calling to the young gentlmen
to rendir. M'^Kenzie, who of a more violent temper, did, with more couradge the[n]
prudence, rush out with a drawin sword, refuseing delyvery and endeavouring ane
escape. He wes vnworthily shott by on of Buchanan's men with ane arrow, and kild
on the place. SPIntosh wes tacken, and therafter detained in prisone. Thes fell out
anno 149^. Hector M^^Kenzie, vnckle to this Sir Kenneth, brother to Kenneth
Ivlair, and sone to Alexander by his second wyfe, being a man of courage and prudence,
wes left tutor by his brother to Sir Kenneth, his owin brother-vterin Duncan being of
better hands then head. This Hector heiring of Sir Kenneth's death, and finding him-
self in possession of ane estait, to which those only now haid title whose birthright wes

debatable, viz., the childrein begot by Kenneth the 3d, on the Lord Lovat's daughter,
with whom he did at first so irregularly and vnlawfully cohabet, ther youth further
jncouradgeing him, he dealt with his elder brother Duncane to quitt his pretence in his
favours, and preserved a share to himselfe ; which Duncan refuseing in favours of his
nephews, whom he knewe restored to legittimation and capacity of successione by the
Pope, Hector resolved to prosecut it without him ; and so, disowning his brother's
childrein as illegitimat, he reteined the possessione to his owin behoofi". All the country
peopl submitted because of the childrein's childhood and the tutor's persuasion. Yett
tlie Lord Lovat to keip his sister's childrein right awak, he toock a precept of dare
constat from James Stewart, Duke of Ross and Archbishop of St. Andrews, to Johne
his eldest sister's sone, as aire to his father Kenuetli (for Sir Kenneth wes nevir entred)
which precept is daited the last of Apryle 1500, and seasin thereon 16 Mey 1500, be
Sir John Barchan and William Monro of FouUs, as baillie to the Duk. This containes
not only the lands which M'^Kenzie held of the Earl of Ross, but the barrony of Kin-
taill also, which wes occasioned by the Lord Lovit's ignorance of that estate, he not
haveing the chartor-clieist for his iuformatione, that being keipit vp by Hector the vnckle,
so that the Lord Lovat wes necessitat to proceid upon conjectore, notwithstanding
Hector still keiped possessione and manadged the intrest to his owin advantadge. He
wes a man of good spirit and couradge, for the Laird of Foulls, called William, being
then baillie in the earldom of Ross to the Duk and of ane lofty mynd, he caried at
a disobliedging hight with all neighbours, and amongest the rest with Hector, tutor of
Kintaill, Avho continued to possess Kinnellan as a rentaler, as his father Alexander
had don. Sir William toock occasion, for some small enormities of the tennents
possessors, to hold courts on the place ; and as a mult or fyne, he caused tack away
the couples of a barne as a lasting tokin of his power. Hector wes then absent ; but
heiring of this, he toock in so ill pairt that he sent, in his passione, on to tell the Laird
of Foulls if he wer a good fellow he would now come and cary the other barne away
when he wes at home. Foulls, pickt with thes outbrawing words, did foolishly con-
vocat a number of his owin people, and of the Dingualls and M'^Cidloches, who then
haid bound ther dependance on him, and with tlie number of 900 men he came to
Kinnellan sooner then Hector expected, who, on the othersyd, gathered all he could
in so short a tyme, and at such a distance from the place wher the stock of his intrest
did ly. His force did not exceid ISO men. W^ith thes not willing to adventor on so
vnequall termes to open battell, yett he designed ane attempt wherin he promeised
himself advantadge. With the 180 he conveyed himself secretly, with 24 hours'



provisions, in the night tyme, to the head of the hill of Ferroll, a place so situat that
Foulls behoved to march aither neir to its north or southsyd, both in his march to