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

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regrated his condition with this expressione, " It is a sore pitty that so true and faith-
full a man, and so wise, should not be better provydit," which moifed hir in the fewes
sett by hir to give him his at a very easie rate, and with all possible ease in the red-
dendo. This John, who wes most happie in his privat affairs, had this advantadge,
that he saw his children's childrein in manly adge, for in the yeir 1538 he married
his eldest sone, Kenneth, to Elizabeth Stewart, daughter to the Earl of Athole, who
made him grandfather to very hopfull childrein, the great comfort of his old age.

His brethrein, Alexander, Rorie, and Mr. Kenneth, wer men very much and very
deservedly respected in ther tyme. Of Alexander is descendit the family of Davoch
Muluak. He and his successors have accquired a considerable fortune. Of Rorie are
descendit the family of Achilty and Farburne. This Rorie wes a man of exceiding
statur and strengh. On a quarrell with Dinguall, laird of Kildin, he kild him, and that
night abode with his wyfe, which wes so represented to and recented by King James the
5 that his brother M'-'Kenzie wes forced to apprehend him and rendir him to the
King ; but Rorie standing to a stiff denyall, and ther being no relevant prooff, the judges
wold not condemn him, yett the King, being perswaded of his guilt, sent him prisoner
to the Bass, with strict orders to keip him in chanes. This wes obeyed, and his armes
and leggs pained extreamly. The laird of Bass had fead with some neighbour, which
occasioned many rencounters and skirmishes, and oftentymes the servants came in with
wounds enough. Rorie seeing this to fall out frequently, he said, " Would to God that
the laird would tack me with him, and [I] should then be worth my meat to him, and serve
for better vse, the[n] I doe with these chaines." Some of them told this to Bass, who ther-
upon called for Rorie, and asked if he would fight weill with him. " If I doe not that,"
said he, " lett me hang in thes chanes." So the laird, tacking his oath not to rune


away, which he friely offerd, his chaines were tacking, and his wounds by them cured
with convenient oyntments in thos tymes. He found himself in condition to fight, so ane
oi^portunity offered for his tryell. Bass rencountering with his adversar, this Rorie fought
to admiration, and being both of liigh couradge and excessive force, he soone rooted
the other party, wlierby Bass became so enamoured of him that he nevir therafter vanted
liim out of his company wher he could secreitly haue him vnknowin to the Court.

Ane Italian comeing at that tyme to Edinburgh to challeng a wrestling in strength
fur money, challenged the nation. On or tuo grapled with him, but with such disadvan-
tadge that therafter non would iugadge, which greived the King beyond measure,
so that he expressed himselfe passionatly in favours of any who would overcome
the Italian. Bass wes very glad of this occasione to favour Rory, and told the King
that he beleived the prisoner comitted by his Majestic to the Bass, if he wer not vndone
by the irons, would, in his opinione, be able to match the challenger. Said the King,
" His liberty, with reward, shall he have if he so doe." Bass did warily tack some tyme
to cuire him, least his owin crim or Rorie's former liberty should be knowin. So, on
ane appointed day, he brought him to Halyroodhouse to the King. The King asked him
if he would vndertack to cast the Italian for his lil)erty. " Yea, sir," said he, " it will
be a hard task that I will not undertack for that. But, sir," sayes he, " it may be it
will not be so easie to performe as to vndertack, yett I shall give him a fair tryell."
" Weill," said the King, " how many dayes will ye have to fitt yourself 1 " " Not ane
houre," replyed Rory. The King, animated by his resolutione, sent to ask if the Italian
would presently accept the challeng. He who head found many victories easie wes
still ready, doubting nought. 5 lists ar prepared. Tlie Italian wes first in the feild,
and seing Rory come without any proper accountrment, in rude habit, he laughed, but
at the first graple Rory putt him to his knee. Wherat the King cried
The Italian pretending excuse, and aleidgeing some foull play, and such frivolous
pretence, the King, glad of the advantage, wes vnwilling to expose to a secound hazard.
"No, sir," said Rory, " lett him try it againe, for now I think I knowe his strenghe," which,
being allowed, at the nixt encountir, he pulled the Italian to him, and with all his force
grasping him by the midle, he brock his back, disjoynting the back bone. The poore
Italian fell to the ground with intolerable paine and suitable groans, and within tuo
dayes he died. This so pleased the King that he inquirit of Rory if he would abid
still with him, which he foolishly refused, saying that his long imprisonement made him
vnfitt for a court lyfe, and if it pleasd his Miijestie to lett him goe home he would send
his sone, which w^ould be fitter to serve his Majestic. The King causit furnish him in


cloath and money, and desirit him to heast his sone to him, which he did accordinglie.
His sone wes callit Murdo, with whom his maister fell iu so good lykiug that he keip
him still about his persone, and gave him as ane earnest of greater things the lands of
Farburne, Moy, and others adjacent to it, but Murdo being vnhappily absent at his
death, did miss of what mor wes designed for him.

Mr. Kenneth, the fourt sone of Kenneth Blair, ues chanter of Ross and perpetuall
viccar of convent, which wiccaradge he resigned in the Pope Paulus hand in favor of the
Priory of Bewly. He would not abstaine from mariadge, contrar to the ordors of the
Church, wherupon the bishop intendit to depose him, but he called his brother Eory to
be at Chanry on the tyme appoynted for his tryall, with a number of rude people ;
himself came in befor the bishope in his long gowne, but vnder it he had a short tuo-
handed sword, so drawing neir to the Bishope, who satt in his presiding chair, he
whispred in his eare that it wer best to lett him alon, " For my brother Rorie," sayes he,
" is in the church yaird with many ill men, and if ye tack of my ordors he will tack of
your head, and I myself will not be your best freind." With that he privily showe his
pen kneeff, which sight, with Rorye's being so neir and a person knowin wcill enough by
the bishope, did so terify him that inconteinent he caused asolie, and vindicat the good
chanter, who evir therafter enjoyed his office wnchallenged. From this Mr. Kenneth
are descendit Suddie, Ord, and Inverlaoll.

To this John succeidit Kenneth agnamed ni Curk for his notable dexterity in
iugravineing. He maried Elizebeth Stewart, daughter to Earl of Athoil. [He]

and she wer conjunctly infeft in a great pairt of the estat in his father's lyftyme, anno
1543, and he wer infeft on a service as aire to John, anno 1561. He did accquire, iu
his father's lyftyme, the kirklands of Lochbroome, and the lands and fischiug of Litle
Brahan from the dean and chanons of Ross, anno 1567, which disposition and chartor
of thers is confirmed at Hallyroodhouse by King James the 6, anno 1587. In the
yeir 1554, being in his father's lyftyme, he accquired also Kildin's half of Lochesh
be disposition the 20 of November that yeir, confirmed be the Queen 24 November
1554, it holding ward. In the yeir 1547, he accquired the chaplane lands of ToUie
and Kinnard from Andrew Dow, chaplain, with consent of dean and channons of
Ross, and of the Queen and her regent, all which append ther seals to it, and subscryve
ther consent.

This Kenneth wes a man fit both for peace and warr, but of so prudent a conduct
that he rather prevented his enimies designes then allowed them to putt his couradge
to tryall. It wes suggested that John Glassick of Garloch, sone to Hector, tutor of

Kintaill, intendit to prosecut his father's unjust intentiones by clameing to the estat of
Kintaill. Kenneth hearing of this, sent for him, who, suspecting nothing, came to
Brahan with his ordinary servants. So soone as he came, Kenneth asked some ques-
tiones relative to the said suspitione, and finding John's answers somewhat dubious, he
caused presently apprehend him. A servant of Garloche's called John Kear, seing the
servants lay hold on his maister, stroock with a two-handed sword at Kenneth, who,
standing neir the table, straght nimbly, els he had cleaved him, for the strock wes
incredibly deep in the table, so as yee could hyd your hand edgwayes [in] it. The
stroock remained in the table till CoUine, Earl of Seaforth, caused cutt that peice of the
table, saying that he lowed no such rememberance of quarrells to his relationes. This
John Glassick wes tacken and sent to Illandonan, wher he wes keipt till his death.
Kenneth haid 3 sonnes, Murdo, who dyed befor him, Colline, who succeidit him,
and Rory of Eeadcastell. He had many daughters ; on of them wes married to Glen-
garry, and, after his death, to Chisolme of Strathglass ; on of them married Ballna-
gowin, on to M'^Intosh, on to Cromarty, on to Foulls, and on to Inverbreaky. "When
the Queen Mary escaped out of Lochlevin and callit her faithfull subjects to hir
asistance, Huntly (who albeit he haid concurred in the Parliament held imediatly befor
in her sone's name, and carryed on of the honors), changeing from the Regent's pairty,
adherit to the Queen, and wes levieing the northrein shyres in ordor to hir asistance
for certifieing her therof, he sent Coline M'Kenzie, Rory's eldest sone, befor, as a persone
of whois prudence he relyed most on to intreat the Queen's retiring to Stirling for
awaiting the convocation of all hir freinds and true subjects als weill in the north as
south. The place being situat com odiously for such a rendiwous, ther being no pas to
hinder any from comeing to it, whilst it wes the only pas that could stop the combina-
tione of hir enimies that wer divydit by Forth, but the Queen's fate drawing hir from
so good counsell, moved specially by the French ambassador, who, seing to endeavour
a peace tuixt hir and the Regent meaned nothing less perceaveing the Queen's
force allready gathered to exceid the Regent's. He wes the great instrument of
that fattall advyse for placeing the Queen into Doumbarton, and then to doe as they
found occasione, apprehending that the Regent, vnequall in number, dared not fight
them in ther way, which fell out otherwayes, for at Longsyd he overtook them, glad
that the Queen haid not waited to make vnequality greater, who, getting advantadge of
the ground by Argyls fitt of the epilepsy that toock him in his march, the Queen's pairty
wes defeat, severalls tacken, the rest dispersed and fled home severall wayes. M<^^Kenzie
returned through the Highland to Huntly, and gave ane accompt [of] the defeat, yett the


northrein peopl wer resolved, under Huntlye's conduct, to have marched forward for
asisting the Queens just title, and haid force enough in probability to have done so, had
not the Quein putt on that vnhappy resolution of goeing to England, whence she nevir
returned, nor did ever any atempt for hir cause therafter prowe succesfull, so that
success placed the esteem of laufulnes on the vnjuster syd ; and the loyall nobility and
gentry, who, according to ther duetie and oaths of aleidgence, had sided with ther
soverane, wer forced, by the insolence of the Regent, to tack remissiones for ther fidelity,
as if it haid bein treasone. Amongst [the rest] Coline M'^Kenzie toock on, daited at
Edinburgh the day of , vnder the Great Seall, for his being present at

Longsyd fight with the Queen againest the King, and comeiug in counsell and rebellione
with Huntly. This is the only remisione that is or evir wes in M'^Kenzie's charter cheist,
and this certainly no evidence of disgrace, but a testificat of his fidelity and loyalty.
The batle wes fought at Longsyd the 15 of Mey 1568, but or Coline returned, his father
Kenneth dyed on the 6 of June at Killin [ 1 Kildin], the said yeir, and is buried at
Bewlie, in LPKenzie's ille, with his father and grandfather.

To Kenneth ni Curk succeided Coline, his eldest sone, by the death of Murdoch.
He wes with the Earl of Huntly at the tyme of his father's death. On nottice wherof
he came to setle his affaires, and imediatly returned to my Lord Huntly, with whom
he abod till the Regent maid ane expeditione to the north ; at which tyme, contrar to
all reasone and law, Huntly and adherents wer fyned to repay any damnadge they had
done to any in this levy, and, in case of refusall, wer to be proceidit againest as rebells.
The Queen's fiight haveing altogither brock hir pairty, they wer forced to submitt, and
therupon all of them had remissiones past to them vnder the Great SeaU. One, as is said,
wes past to Coline M^Kenzie with the rest. Nor would the Regent allow on remision to
be esped for Huntly as all his adherents ; but to break of ther dependence from him it
wes givin to them severally, non but his domestieks being includit in his own remision.
The Regent at this tyme held Court at Aberdein, Elgin, and Invernes, and toock
pleidges of the clanns, but toock non from M'^Kenzie, finding him a young man of great
prudance, civill, and of all peacable tempir. After this Coline did not medle further
withe publick effaires, judgeing wisly, that in a civill warr the partys are seldome so
stated in ther causes, but that the on is in the wrong, and the other not in the right ; that
both pairtyes doe concurr in the destructione of the whole, and albeit in ane vudoubted
magistracy, duty and obligation, tack away indiff'erence, and make newtrality criminall ;
yett when the soveraignty is dubious, as it wes at this tyme, and both sydes fair in
ther pretence, and violent in ther actings, they are oftymes the best patriots, and ordi-
VOL. II. 3 R


narly most respected in the setled estate who have tackin thos retreats from iiijureiiig
others, which a privat lyfe offir. On thes accountts, till King James the G toock
the governement in his owin hand, he iievir ingadged in any publict transactione or
actione, but manadged his privat intrest to such advaiitadge that albeit it appeir his
prediccessors wer active men and advancers of ther fortunes, yet this on man did exceid
any of them, and purchast more then all of them had done befor him ; for first his
father haveing wodsett the half of Lochelsh from Kildin, who had, by a daughter of
Alexander, sone to Celestin (carnall sonne to the Lord of the Ills), his other tuo
daughters wer marled, on to Glengarrie, the other to Cameron of Locheill. I say
Coline, thinking a wodsett ane vnsecure title and ambulator, depending on ane other's
will, and out of which a stronger or richer neighbour may still cast him by accquireing
the reversione, he bought the reversione from Thomas Dinguall of Kildin, anno 1571,
on the 1 7 of March, at Kildin.

In the yeir 1579, on the 22 of June, at Kildin, he bought also Kildin's half of
Lochcaron, which Kildin had by the daughter of Alexander Celestin's sone, or, as the
Irish name him, Alexander M*^Gillespi[ck]. This charter, granted of Lochcarron
be Kildin, is confirmed be King James the 6, at Halyroodhouse, 4 September 1586.
In May 1587 he wodsett Glengarrie's half of Lochelsh, which Glengarrie haid also by
Alexander M''Gillespick's daughter. The seasin givne on it 25 and 26 of Mey 1583
by John M*^Gillichean, notar Anno 1572, on the 6 of December, at Elgin,

Coline bought the half of Lochbroome from John Grant of Freughy. This confirmed
by King James the 6, with consent of the Earl of Mortone, regent, at Halyrood-
house, the 20 July 1574. The other half of Lochbroom wes bought from Kildin be
John M'Keuzie formerly, anno 1543, wher observe God's justice in restoring to
M^Kenzie his just heritadge, which the Earl of Ross haid keipt by violence from him
for so many yeires, from the tyme of , anno , at which tyme thes

lands of Lochbroome, with thes of Cogiach, did justly appertein to him in right of his
wyfe, daughter to M* Aula of Lochbroom ; and now, by God's providenc[e], after the race
of thes oppressors wer sweept out of that earldome, thes lands fell againe to ther just
owiner by a peacable accquest, and shortly after wee shall find Cogiach returne with
the samen smoothnes.

All this while the church moved in changes, and the state in confusione, the
pityfull Stat of thes tymes in King James' minority all our stories doe so fully record,
and ther ruthfuU rememberance is as yett so that it wer superfluous to mention

them in this peculiar information. That which relats to my purpose is, that with


the falling of from Rome, the church rents fall from the church, ane end of the re-
formatioue, T presume not by, but practised by many, and no wher

more sacrilegiously then in Scotland, for some violently possest, others, by mor legall
pretence, accquired bishopricks, abacies, priories, and other benefices, and this wes so
catholickly carryed againest the Catholicks, that ther [wes] no possibility to preserve
any from thos in power, which made some of the mor prudent Bishopes dispose of
what they could not keip to ther relationes. Off thes ther wer few, but such as wer so
disponed had the farr more legall conveyance then others who purchast them only by
secular titles. The Bishoprick of Ross happined in thes yeires to fall into the man-
aidgment of very knowing and prudent bishopes, viz., Henry St. Clair, dean of Glas-
gow, on of our first and best lawiers, and president of the Sessione, and John Lesly,
brother to Bughaine, whois great abilities, knowin through all Europe, in his faithfull
negotiationes for Queen Mary, his soveraigne, maks any charector from [me] neidles.

Henry St. Clair did few the lands of Allan claich, and some others, to Oliver St.
Clair of Whytkirk, anno 1562.

John Leslie did few to Bughaine, his brother, ij the yeir 1567, the lands of
Wodhead, Kinbeachie, Learny, Avoch and its milne, Ness of Chanry, and salmond
fisching, Containe, Lealdy, Kirkskeith, and Inch, with the Craigwood, the ofiice of
constabulary, with the yairds, wards, and meadowes of the house, and 10 OR), and 5
chalders wictuall out of the readiest of the Bishopes rents for constabul fie. This is
disponed with consent of Dean and Chanons on the 16 of October.

In ane other charter of that dait, he disponed to the said Bughaine the tuo Rad-
diries, Rosmarkie, Chanrie and Bishope's Shed. In ane other charter of the said dait,
he dispones to the said Bughaine, Fames, Wester C'ulbo, Woodhead, Cullicudin, Bal-
mungie, milne of Rosmarkie, and lands of Kilernan. All thes three chartors are, with
consent of Dean and Chanons, chapterly conveined, and all thes three charters are con-
firmed by King James the 6, with consent of his regent, the Earl of Muray, at
Edinburgh, 29 November 1567.

Whilst all thes that wer medlers in the publick and minister of thes comon cala-
mities that then aflicted the kingJome did, some on way, some ane other, purchast
pairts of thes kirk lands, Coline M'Kenzie, whois privat statione denyed him thos
vnhappie oportunityes of conquest, did direct himself in a more just and legall method
to thes purchases ; and finding the kirkmen's title the certainest security, he first
bought from Oliver St. Clair of Wheytkirk thes lands fewed out by Henry St. Clair,
Bishop of Ross. This he did in August 1572, and obteined a very full confirmation

therof from King James 6, with consent of the Earl of Morton, regent, the 10 of July
1574. In the [yeir] 1577, on the Earl of Morton dimisione, the King called from all
quarters of the kingdome thos of most note, amongst others Coline M^'Kenzie wes ; and
thos that waited on him from the north, wher finding the King tuo young, and the
nobles all in factione, he medled no further then to pas his securities in what he haid
accquired, and makeing a new purchase of all thes lands formerly fewed by John Leslie,
Bishop of Ross, to Bughain. Thes he bought from Johne Lesly, son and aire to Wil-
liam Lesly of Bughain, at Edinburgh, the 10 of Apryle 1577, and wysly forsieing
that the vnconstant course of the law att that tyme, he brings some innovatione as to
the securities of Kirklands ; he toock Bughain obleidgit, if any such alteration wer, that
aither he should refound to him the money given for thes lauds, or purchase a right
conform to any such alteration, which accordingly Bughain did after the act of annexa-
tione, albeit it could not affect thes lands ; yett, for further security, Bughain purchast a
dispositione be wertew of the act of annexatione, which the King did very friely grant
on the respect he haid to Bishop Leslie's memorie. But least it should insinuat a defect
in the rights which M'^Kenzie already haid, or infferr ane innovation of the security,
they toock this new title in the person of on William Lesly of Culneldy, and he made
it over to M^'Kenzie with clausses sufficient to guard againest innovation, or infringing
of, for more securities saik accumulando jurajuribus. On this arose a debate tuixt
Coline M'^^Kenzie and the minors of Miltoun, for the Earl of Murray being Regent, did,
brevi manu, posese himselfe with the Bishoprick of Ross, which he did pessima fide,
haveing confirmed the fewes made by Bishop Lesly to Bughain anno 1567. But his
hatred to Bishop Lesly for his fidelity to the Queen (to whom the Regent owed much
more) did think nothing vnjust so it wer injurious to his adversars, and theron he put
Androw Monro of Miltoune in the chamerlanery of the rent and custody of the Bishop's
castell, in which possessione Androw containued and keipt Bughain from his right,
which wes a motive to make him the more readily queyt it to Makenzie ; but M'^'Kenzie
haveing accquired the just title with all the pretence that the late law superaded, he
came north, deraandit house and land from Androw Monro, but wes denyed, and the
castell garrisoned by Androw more strongly, and on John Monro of Pittonachtne made
leivtennant. Foulls and the clann of Monro owined their kinsman, but Coline, know-
ing the strengh of his titles, did forsee that ther possessione could beare out long, yett
not to be diffident to his claime, he put as great a number in the steeple as the other
had in the castell. This fell out befor M'Kenzie accquired the rights from Bughain,
for Bughain finding Monro owined by the Regents, he showed his right with the Lord


Innermeath, that by his favour with the Lords he might the better owin his titles.
Innerineath died, leaveing his soae a childe ; and the Lord Ruthen being his tutor, and
a fr[eind] of Coline M'^^Kenzie's, he gave his asistauce to the Lord Ruthen, who sent
Captain Herrings with a band of men to concurr with Coline. All this tyme the[y]
garrisoned the steepl, and intrometted with some of the Bishope's rents. So Coline did
vudertack to keip the steeple, and Captain Herrings with his pairty to turne south.
Some attempts past tuixt thos of the steepl and the castell, tho to litle purpose, till the
raoneth of June 1572. Johne ^PKenzie, sone to Rory ^PAlister, of the family of
Davochmuluack, and on John Reoch, of Loggie's family, drinking in the toune, John
Reoch upbreadit the other, aleidgeing that he being grandchild to Sir William Monro,
would nevir act cordially againest his grandmother's kin. Imediatly word comes to
them that the Monroes wer gone to fisch the Ness, which is on of the debatable posses-
siones. John M'^Rorie calls to the other, " Now is ther ane oportunity offerrit to try
who shall daill cordially in ther cheif affair ; therfor lett us goe and beat them from the
fisching." The other said that wes not his charge, but to keip the steepl, and he would
obey comand ; but the other vent furiously to the Ness, accompanyed with nyne or ten
of the shouldiers, wher some paii-tyes fought manfully. John M'^Rorie wes shott with a
bullett through the body, but nevir knew so much till he came of the feild. On Ken-
neth, who wes in his company, haid aughtein arrowes in his quiver ; he shott them all,
and nevir on of them wes out of some of his enimies bodies, which maimned them and
rendired many of them vseless in the fight, from which the said Kenneth wes ever
named Kenneth ni Saied, that is, Kenneth of the arrowes. But the M'^Kenzies wer so
fewe, that they haid bein slaine and overpowered hade not Robert Graham, archdean
of Ross, grandfather to Alexander Grahame of Drynie, came into ther asistance, at once
favouring the juster's syd, and his freind Coline M'Kenzie. Most of both syds wer

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