Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

History Of The Mackenzies by Alexander Mackenzie

Part 1 out of 12

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

[This book was digitized by William James Mackenzie, III, of
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA in 1999 - 2000. I would
appreciate notice of any corrections needed. This is the edited version
that should have most of the typos fixed. May 2003. wjm10@juno.com]

The book author writes about himself in the SLIOCHD ALASTAIR CHAIM

I have tried to keep everything intact. I have made some small
changes to apparent typographical errors. I have left out the
occasional accent that is used on some Scottish names. For
instance, "Mor" has an accent over the "o." A capital L preceding a
number, denotes the British monetary pound sign.

[Footnotes are in square brackets, book titles and italized words in

Edited and reformatted by Brett Fishburne william.fishburne@verizon.net










THE ORIGINAL EDITION of this work appeared in 1879, fifteen years
ago. It was well received by the press, by the clan, and by all
interested in the history of the Highlands. The best proof of
this is the fact that the book has for several years been out of
print, occasional second-hand copies of it coming into the market
selling at a high premium on the original subscription price.

Personally, however, I was never satisfied with it. It was my
first clan history, and to say nothing of inevitable defects of
style by a comparatively inexperienced hand, it was for several
other reasons necessarily incomplete, and in many respects not
what I should wish the history of my own clan to be.

This edition, which extends to close upon two hundred pages more
than its predecessor, has an accurate and well-executed plate of
the clan tartan, and a life-like portrait of the Author; has been
almost entirely re-written; contains several families omitted from
the first; has all been carefully revised; and although not even
now absolutely perfect, I believe it is almost as near being so
as it is possible for any work which contains such an enormous
number of dates and other details as this one to be.

The mythical Fitzgerald origin of the clan, hitherto accepted by
most of its leading members, is exhaustively dealt with, I venture
to hope effectively, if not completely and finally disposed of.
That it is now established beyond any reasonable dispute to have
been a pure invention of the seventeenth century may, I think, be
safely asserted, while it is, with almost equal conclusiveness,
shown that the Mackenzies are descended from a native Celtic chief
of the same stock as the original O'Beolan Earls of Ross, as set
forth in the Table printed on page 39.

My list of subscribers, for a second edition, shows in the most
gratifying form that the work is still in active demand, and I am
sanguine enough to expect that as soon as it is issued to the
public the remaining copies will be quickly disposed of.

I am indebted to a young gentleman, Mr Evan North Burton-Mackenzie,
Younger of Kilcoy, of whom I venture to predict more will be heard
in this particular field, for valuable genealogical notes about
his own and other Mackenzie families, while for the copious and
well-arranged Index at the end of the volume - a new feature of this
edition - I have again to acknowledge the services of my eldest
son, Hector Rose Mackenzie, solicitor, Inverness.

A. M.
March 1894



THE CLAN MACKENZIE at one time formed one of the most powerful
families in the Highlands. It is still one of the most numerous
and influential, and justly claims a very ancient descent. But
there has always been a difference of opinion regarding its original
progenitor. It has long been maintained and generally accepted
that the Mackenzies are descended from an Irishman named Colin or
Cailean Fitzgerald, who is alleged but not proved to have been
descended from a certain Otho, who accompanied William the Conqueror
to England, fought with that warrior at the battle of Hastings,
and was by him created Baron and Castellan of Windsor for his
services on that occasion.


According to the supporters of the Fitzgerald-Irish origin of the
clan, Otho had a son Fitz-Otho, who is on record as his father's
successor as Castellan of Windsor in 1078. Fitz-Otho is said to
have had three sons. Gerald, the eldest, under the name of Fitz-Walter,
is said to have married, in 1112, Nesta, daughter of a Prince of South
Wales, by whom he also had three sons. Fitz-Walter's eldest son, Maurice,
succeeded his father, and accompanied Richard Strongbow to Ireland
in 1170. He was afterwards created Baron of Wicklow and Naas
Offelim of the territory of the Macleans for distinguished services
rendered in the subjugation of that country, by Henry II., who on
his return to England in 1172 left Maurice in the joint Government.

Maurice married Alicia, daughter of Arnulph de Montgomery, brother
of Robert Earl of Shrewsbury, and by that lady had four sons. The
eldest was known as Gerald Fitz-Maurice, who in due course succeeded
his father, and was created Lord Offaly. Having married Catherine,
daughter of Hamo de Valois, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, he had
a son, named Maurice after his grandfather. This Maurice died
in 1257, leaving two sons, Thomas and Gerald. Thomas, generally
called "Tomas Mor," or Great Thomas, on account of his great valour
and signal services in the battlefield, succeeded his father as
Lord Offaly. He married the only daughter of Thomas Carron. This
lady brought him the Seigniory of Desmond as a dowry. By her
Thomas Lord Offaly had an only son, John, who, according to Colin
Fitzgerald's supporters, was first Earl of Kildare and married
first, Marjory, daughter of Sir Thomas Fitz-Antony, by whom he had
issue - Maurice, progenitor of the Dukes of Leinster. John married,
secondly, Honora, daughter of Hugh O'Connor, by whom he had six
sons, the eldest of whom, according to the Irish-origin theory, was
Colin Fitz-Gerald - but who, if the Fitzgerald theory had not been
a pure invention, really ought to have been called Colin Fitz-John,
or son of John - the reputed ancestor of the Mackenzies.

This, briefly stated, is the genealogy of the Fitzgeralds as given
by the supporters of the Irish origin of the Mackenzies, and it
may be right or wrong for all we need care in discussing the origin
of the Mackenzies. Its accuracy will, however, be proved impossible.

According to the true genealogy, Thomas, who was the third son of
Maurice, married Rohesia, heiress of Woodstock, near Athy, and
daughter of Richard de St. Michael, Lord of Rheban. By this lady
he had an only son, John, who succeeded as 6th Baron Offaly, and
was in 1316 created 1st Earl of Kildare. John married Blanche,
daughter of John Roche, Baron of Fermoy; not the two ladies given
him in the Fitzgerald-Mackenzie genealogy.

The real authentic genealogy of the Fitzgeralds, from whom the
Dukes of Leinster and other Fitzgerald families are descended, is
as follows: The first,

I. OTHO, known as "Dominus Otho," belonged undoubtedly to the
Gherardini family of Florence. He passed into Normandy, and in 1057
crossed into England, became a favourite with Edward the Confessor,
and obtained extensive estates from that monarch. He had a son

II. WALTER FITZ OTHO, or son of Otho. He is mentioned in Domesday
Book in 1078 as being then in possession of his father's estates. He
was Castellan of Windsor and Warden of the Forests in Berkshire. He
married Gladys, daughter of Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn, Prince of North
Wales, and had three sons, the eldest being

III. GERALD FITZ WALTER, or son of Walter, who was appointed by
Henry I. to the Constableship of Pembroke Castle and other important
offices. He married Nesta, daughter of Rhys ap Gruffyd, ap Tudor
Mawr, Prince of South Wales, and had issue by her, three sons, the
eldest of whom was

IV. MAURICE FITZ GERALD, or son of Gerald. This, it will be noticed,
was the first Fitzgerald of which we have any record, and he was the
progenitor of the Irish Fitzgeralds. He accompanied Richard de Clare,
Earl of Pembroke, popularly known as "Strongbow," to Ireland, and there
highly distinguished himself, having, among other acts of renown,
captured the city of Dublin. He died at Wexford in 1177. He married
Alice or Alicia, daughter of Arnulph de Montgomery, fourth son of
Roger de Montgomery, who led the centre of the Norman army at the
battle of Hastings, and by her had issue - five sons, the eldest
of whom was William, Baron of Naas, not Gerald as claimed by the
supporters of the Colin Fitzgerald theory.

Thus far the two genealogies may be said to agree, except in a few
of the marriages.

V. GERALD FITZ MAURICE, the second son, in 1205 became first
Baron Offaly. The third son, Thomas, was progenitor of the original
Earls of Desmond, who have long been extinct in the male line, the
present Earldom, which is the Irish title of the Earl of Denbigh,
having been created in 1622. Gerald Fitz Maurice married Katherine,
daughter of Hamo de Valois, who was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland
in 1197, and by her had a son,

VI. MAURICE FITZ GERALD, second Baron Offaly, one of the Lord
Justices of Ireland. Maurice died in 1257, having married Juliana,
daughter of John de Cogan, who was Lord Justice of Ireland in 1247,
and by her had three sons, Maurice, Gerald, and Thomas. Maurice
Fitzgerald has no wife given him in the Colin Fitzgerald genealogy.
Thomas, the youngest son, had a son John, who ultimately, on the
death of Maurice, fifth Baron Offaly, without issue, succeeded as
sixth Baron, and was, on the 14th May, 1316, created the first Earl
of Kildare. Maurice Fitz Gerald was succeeded by his eldest son,

VII. MAURICE FITZ MAURICE, as third Baron Offaly. He married
Emelina, daughter of Sir Stephen de Longespee, a rich heiress, and by
her had a son and two daughters. He was succeeded by his only son,

VIII. GERALD FITZ MAURICE, 4th Baron Offaly, who died without issue
in 1287, when he was succeeded by his cousin Maurice, only son of
Gerald, second son of Maurice Fitzgerald, second Baron Offaly, as

IX. MAURICE FITZGERALD, 5th Baron Offaly, who married Agnes de
Valance, daughter of William Earl of Pembroke, without issue, when he
was succeeded by his cousin John, son of Thomas, third son of Maurice
Fitzgerald, second Baron Offaly, as

X. JOHN FITZ THOMAS FITZ GERALD, sixth Baron Offaly, and first
Earl of Kildare. From him, by his wife Blanche, daughter of John
Roche, Baron of Fermoy, are descended the present Duke of Leinster and
other Irish Fitzgeralds. He died on the 10th November, 1316.

Several important particulars bearing on the points in dispute are
noticeable in this genuine Fitzgerald genealogy, a few of which may be
remarked upon. (1) There is no trace of a Colin Fitzgerald, or of any
other Colin, in the real family genealogy from beginning to end, down
to the present day. (2) Gerald, the 4th Baron Offaly, died in 1287.
He was succeeded by his cousin Maurice, as 5th Baron, who in turn
was succeeded by his cousin John Fitz Thomas Fitz Gerald, who died
comparatively young in 1316. According to the Colin Fitzgerald
theory, this John, first Earl of Kildare, was twice married, and by
his second wife had six sons, of whom Colin Fitzgerald, who really
ought to have been described as Colin Fitz John - for it will
be observed that the Chiefs in the real genealogy are invariably
described as Fitz or son of their fathers - was the eldest. This
was impossible. How could John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald, who died
at a comparatively early age in 1316, have had a son by his second
marriage, who must have arrived at a mature age before he "was
driven" from Ireland to Scotland in 1261, and be able to fight, as
alleged by his supporters, with great distinction, as a warrior
who had already an established reputation, at the battle of Largs,
in 1263? Let us suppose that Colin's reputed father was 70 years
old when he died. He (the father) must thus have been born as
early as 1246. Let us take it that his eldest son, the reputed
Colin, by his second wife, was born when his father was only 24
years of age - say in 1270 - and the result of the Fitzgerald origin
theory would be that Colin must have fought at the battle of Largs
7 years before, according to the laws of nature, he could have
been born. In other words, he was not born, if born at all, for
seven years after the battle of Largs, four years after the reputed
charter of 1266, and 40 years subsequent to 1230, the last year
in which either of the witnesses whose names are upon the alleged
charter itself was in life. (3) But take the genealogy as given by
the upholders of the Colin Fitzgerald origin themselves Maurice,
who died in 1257, had, according to it, two sons - Thomas and Gerald.
This Thomas, they say, succeeded his father as third Lord Offaly,
and had a son, John, who, by his second wife, had Colin Fitzgerald.
That is, Maurice, who died in 1257, had a great grandson Colin,
who, as a warrior of mature years and experience, fought at the
battle of Largs only six years after his great-grandfathers death.
But there was in fact no Earl of Kildare at this early date. That
title was, as already stated, not created until 1316, twenty-eight
years after his son Colin Fitzgerald was, according to the testimony
of his supporters, buried in Icolmkill. It is surely unnecessary to
add that such a consummation is absolutely impossible; and these
facts alone, though no other shred of evidence was forthcoming,
would dispose of the Colin Fitzgerald origin of the Mackenzies for

Colin's five brothers are given by the upholders of the Fitzgerald
origin as Galen, said to have been the same as Gilleon or Gillean, the
ancestor of the Macleans; Gilbert, ancestor of the White Knights;
John, ancestor of the Knights of Glynn; Maurice, ancestor of the
Knights of Kerry; and Thomas, progenitor of the Fitzgeralds of
Limerick. But it is quite unnecessary to deal with Colin's brothers
and their descendants here. It will be sufficient if we dispose of
Colin himself, who, according to the genealogy given to him by those
who claim him as their progenitor, was really not Colin Fitz-Gerald
but Colin Fitz-John. He must, however, be dealt with a little more at
length; for, whoever he may have been, and however mythical his
personal history, his name will always command a certain amount of
interest for members of the Clan Mackenzie, and those who have become
allied with them by marriage or association.

Most of us are acquainted with the turbulent state of the West
Highlands and Islands in the reign of Alexander II., when the
Highland Chiefs became so powerful, and were so remote from the
centre of Government, that they could not be brought under the King's
authority. His Majesty determined to make a serious effort to
reduce these men to obedience, and for this purpose he proceeded, at
the head of a large force, but died on his way in 1249, on the Island
of Kerrera, leaving his son, Alexander III., then only nine years of
age, with the full weight and responsibility of government on his

Shortly after the King attained his majority, Colin Fitzgerald,
correctly speaking Fitz John is said to have been driven out of
Ireland and to have sought refuge at the Scottish Court, where he was
heartily welcomed by the King, by whom his rank and prowess well
known to him by repute, were duly recognised and acknowledged.

At this time Alexander was preparing to meet Haco, King of Norway,
who, on the 2nd of October, 1262, landed with a large force on the
coast of Ayrshire, where he was met by a gallant force of fifteen
hundred knights splendidly mounted on magnificent chargers - many
of them of pure Spanish breed - wearing breastplates, while their
riders, clad in complete armour, with a numerous army of foot armed
with spears, bows and arrows, and other weapons of war, according
to the usage in their respective provinces, the whole of this valiant
force led by the King in person. These splendid, well-accoutred
armies met at Largs two or three days after, and then commenced that
sanguinary and memorable engagement which was the first decisive
check to the arrogance of the Norsemen who had so long held sway
in the West Highlands and Isles, and the first opening up of the
channel which led to the subsequent arrangements between Alexander
III. of Scotland and Magnus IV. of Norway in consequence of which
an entirely new organisation was introduced into the Hebrides, then
inhabited by a mixed race composed of the natives and largely of
the descendants of successive immigrant colonists of Norwegians
and Danes who had settled in the country.

In this memorable engagement, we are told, the Scots commenced the
attack. The right wing, composed of the men of Argyle, of Lennox, of
Athole, and Galloway, was commanded by Alexander, Lord High Steward,
while Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, commanded the left wing,
composed of the men of the Lothians, Berwick, Stirling, and Fife.
The King placed himself in the centre, at the head of the choice men
of Ross, Perth, Angus, Mearns, Mar, Moray, Inverness, and Caithness,
where he was confronted by Haco in person, who, for the purpose
of meeting the Scottish King, took post in the Norwegian centre. The
High Steward, by a dexterous movement, made the enemy's left give
way, and instantly, by another adroit manoeuvre, he wheeled back on
the rear of Haco's centre, where he found the two warrior Kings
desperately engaged. This induced Haco, after exhibiting all the
prowess of a brave King and an able commander, to retreat from the
field, followed by his left wing, leaving, as has been variously
stated, sixteen to twenty-four thousand of his followers on the field,
while the loss on the Scottish side is estimated at about five
thousand. The men of Caithness and Sutherland were led by the Flemish
Freskin, those of Moray by one of their great chiefs, and there is
every reason to believe that the men of Ross rallied round one of
their native chiefs. Among the most distinguished warriors who took
part in this great and decisive victory for the Scots, under the
immediate eye of their brave King, was, it is said, Colin Fitzgerald,
who is referred to in a fragment of the Record of Icolmkill as
"Callenus peregrinus Hibernus nobilis ex familia Geraldinorum qui
proximo anno ab Hibernia pulsus opud regni benigne acceptus hinc
usque in curta permansit et in praefacto proelio strenue pugnavit."
That is, "Colin, an Irish stranger and nobleman, of the family of the
Geraldines who, in the previous year, had been driven from Ireland,
and had been well received by the King, remained up to this time at
Court, and fought bravely in the aforesaid battle." This extract has
often been quoted to prove that Colin Fitzgerald was the progenitor of
the Mackenzies; but it will be noticed that it contains no reference
whatever to the point. It merely says that Colin, an Irishman, was
present at Largs.

After the defeat of Haco the King sent detachments to secure the
West Highlands and Isles, and to check the local chiefs. Among the
leaders sent in charge of the Western garrisons was, according to
the supporters of the Irish-origin theory, Colin Fitzgerald, who,
under the patronage of Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith, was settled
in the Government of the Castle of Ellandonnan, the well-known
stronghold of the Mackenzies, in Kintail, situated on a small
rocky island at the junction of Lochalsh, Loch Duich and Loch Long.
Colin's jurisdiction, it is said, extended over a wide district,
and he is referred to in the fragment of the Record of Icolmkill,
already quoted, as he "of whom we have spoken at the battle of
Largs, and who afterwards conducted himself with firmness against
the Islanders, and was left a governor among them." Sir George
Mackenzie, first Earl of Cromartie, who will be proved later on
to have been the inventor of the Fitzgerald theory, says in a MS.
history of the clan, that Colin "being left in Kintail, tradition
records that he married the daughter of Mac Mhathoin, heritor of
the half of Kintail. This Mhathoin," he continues, "is frequently
identified with Coinneach Gruamach Mac Mhathoin, Cailean's
predecessor as Governor of Ellandonnan Castle. The other half of
Kintail belonged to O'Beolan, one of whose chiefs, Ferchair, was
created Earl of Ross, and his lands were given to Cailean Fitzgerald."
It will be proved by incontestible public documents still in
existence, that these identical lands were, except that they once
for a time exchanged them with a relative for lands in Buchan,
uninterruptedly possessed by the Earls of Ross, the descendants
of this Ferchair, or Farquhar, for two centuries after the battle
of Largs.

While the Earl of Cromartie and other clan historians accept the
Fitzgerald origin by marriage with a daughter of Kenneth Matheson of
Lochalsh, the Mathesons maintain that the first Mackenzie, or Mac
Choinnich - the actual progenitor of the clan - was a son of their
chief, Coinneach Gruamach, and that the Mackenzies are thus only a
sept, or minor branch of the Mathesons. It must in fairness be
admitted that the latter contention is quite as near the truth as
the Fitzgerald theory and it must have already occurred to the
reader, how, if the Fitzgerald origin of the Mackenzies had been
true, has it come about that the original patronymic of Fitzgerald
has given way to that of Mackenzie? It is not pretended that it
was ever heard of after Colin himself.

This difficulty occurred even to the Earl of Cromartie, and this
is how he attempts to dispose of it. Cailean, he says, had a son
by the daughter of Kenneth Mac Mhathoin, or Matheson, whom he named
Coinneach, or Kenneth, after his father-in-law Kenneth Matheson;
Cailean himself was killed in Glaic Chailein by Mac Mhathoin,
who envied him, and was sore displeased at Colin's succession to
Matheson's ancient heritage; Colin was succeeded by his son Kenneth,
and all his descendants were by the Highlanders called "Mac
Choinnich," or Kenneth's son, taking the patronymic from Mac Mhathoin
rather than from Cailean, whom they esteemed a stranger. Of the two
theories the Matheson one is by far the more probable; but they are
both without any real foundation.

The Fitzgerald theory has, however, until recently, been accepted
by all the leading Mackenzie families and by the clan generally.
It has been adopted in all the Peerages and Baronetages, and by
almost every writer on the history and genealogy of the Cabar feidh

The main if not the only authority of any consequence in favour of
this Irish origin is the charter alleged to have been granted by
Alexander III. to Colin in 1266, of which the reputed original runs
as follows:-

"Alexander, Dei Gracia, Rex Scottorum, omnibus probis hominibus
tocius terre sue clericis et laicis, salutem sciant presentes et
futuri me pro fideli seruicio michi navato per Colinum Hybernum
tam in bello quam in pace ideo dedisse, et hac presenti carta
mea concessisse dicto Colino, et ejus successoribus totas terras
de Kintail. Tenendas de nobis et successoribus nostris in liberam
baronium cum guardia. Reddendo servicium forinsecum et fidelitatem.
Testibus Andrea episcopo, Moraviensi. Waltero Stewart. Henrico de
Balioth Camerario. Arnoldo de Campania. Thoma Hostiario,
vice-comite de Innerness. Apud Kincardine, IX die Jan.: Anno Regni
Domini, Regis XVI."

This is a literal translation of the document:-
"Alexander, by the Grace of God, King of Scots, to all honest men
of his whole dominions, cleric and laic, greeting: Be it known to
the present and future that I, for the faithful service rendered to
me by Colin of Ireland, in war as well as peace, therefore I have
given, and by this my present charter I concede to the said Colin
and his successors, the lands of Kintail to be held of us in free
barony with ward to render foreign service and fidelity. Witnesses
(as above.) At Kincardine, 9th day of January, in the year of the
reign of the Lord the King, the 16th."

The Kincardine at which this charter is alleged to have been signed
is supposed to be the place of that name situated on the River
Dee; for about this time an incident is reported to have occurred
in the Forest of Mar in connection with which it is traditionally
stated that the Mackenzies adopted the stag's head as their coat
armour. The legend is as follows:

Alexander was on a hunting expedition in the forest, near Kincardine,
when an infuriated stag, closely pursued by the hounds, made
straight in the direction of the King, and Cailean Fitzgerald, who
accompanied the Royal party, gallantly interposed his own person
between the exasperated animal and his Majesty, and shot it with
an arrow in the forehead. The King in acknowledgment of the Royal
gratitude at once issued a diploma in favour of Colin granting him
armorial bearings which were to be, a stags head puissant, bleeding
at the forehead where the arrow pierced it, to be borne on a field
azure, supported by two greyhounds. The crest to be a dexter arm
bearing a naked sword, surrounded by the motto "Fide Parta, Fide
Acta," which continued to be the distinctive bearings of the
Mackenzies of Seaforth until it was considered expedient, as
corroborating their claims on the extensive possessions of the
Macleods of Lewis, to substitute for the original the crest of that
warlike clan, namely, a mountain in flames, surcharged with the
words, "Luceo non uro," the ancient shield, supported by two savages,
naked, and wreathed about the head with laurel, armed with clubs
issuing fire, which are the bearings now used by the representatives
of the High Chiefs of Kintail.

The incident of the hunting match and Colin Fitzgerald's gallant
rescue of Alexander III. was painted by West for "The last of the
Seaforths" in one of those large pictures with which the old
Academician employed and gratified his latter years. The artist
received L8oo for the noble painting, which is still preserved in
Brahan Castle, and in his old age he expressed his willingness to
give the same sum for it in order to have it exhibited in his own

The first notice of the reputed charter to Colin Fitzgerald is in
the manuscript history of the Mackenzies, by George, first Earl
of Cromartie, already quoted, written about the middle of the
seventeenth century. All the later genealogists appear to have
taken its authenticity for granted, and quoted it accordingly. Dr
Skene, the most learned and accurate of all our Highland historians,
expresses his decided opinion that the charter is forged and
absolutely worthless as evidence in favour of the Fitzgerald origin
of the clan. At pages 223-25 of his 'Highlanders of Scotland,'
he says -

"The Mackenzies have long boasted of their descent from the great
Norman family of Fitzgerald in Ireland, and in support of this
origin they produce a fragment of the Records of Icolmkill, and
a charter by Alexander III. to Colin Fitzgerald, the supposed
progenitor of the family, of the lands of Kintail. At first sight
these documents might appear conclusive, but, independently of
the somewhat suspicious circumstance that while these pages have
been most freely and generally quoted, no one has ever seen the
originals, and the fragment of the Icolmkill Record merely says
that among the actors in the battle of Largs, fought in 1263, was
`Peregrinus et Hibernus nobilis ex familia Geraldinorum qui proximo
anno Hibernia pulsus apud regni benigne acceptus hinc usque in
curta permansit et in praefacto proelio strenue pugnavit,' giving
not a hint of his having settled in the Highlands, or of his having
become the progenitor of any Scottish family whatever while as to
the supposed charter of Alexander III., it is equally inconclusive,
as it merely grants the lands of Kintail to Colin Hiberno, the
word `Hiberno' having at the time come into general use as denoting
the Highlanders, in the same manner as the word 'Erse' is now
frequently used to express their language; but inconclusive as it
is, this charter," he continues, "cannot be admitted at all, as
it bears the most palpable marks of having been a forgery of a
later time, and one by no means happy in its execution. How such
a tradition of the origin of the Mackenzies ever could have arisen,
it is difficult to say but the fact of their native origin and
Gaelic descent is completely set at rest by the Manuscript of
1450, which has already so often been the means of detecting the
falsehood of the foreign origins of other clans."

Cosmo Innes, another high authority, editor of the 'Orgines
Parachiales Scotia,' the most valuable work ever published dealing
with the early history of Scotland, and especially of the Highlands,
came to a similar conclusion, and expresses it even more strongly
than Dr Skene. At pages 392-3, Vol. II., he says "The lands of
Kintail are said to have been granted by Alexander III. to Colin, an
Irishman of the family of Fitzgerald, for services done at the battle
of Largs. The charter is not extant, and its genuineness has been
doubted." In a footnote, this learned antiquarian gives the text of
the document, in the same terms as those in which they have been
already quoted from another source, and which, he says, is "from
a copy of the 17th century." "If the charter be genuine," he adds,
"it is not of Alexander III., or connected with the battle of Largs
(1263). Two of the witnesses, Andrew, Bishop of Moray, and Henry de
Baliol, Chamberlain, would correspond with the 16th year of
Alexander II." He further says that "the writers of the history of
the Mackenzies assert also charters of David II. (1360) and of
Robert II. (1380) to `Murdo filius Kennethi de Kintail,' but without
furnishing any description or means of testing their authenticity.
No such charters are recorded."

This is emphatic enough and to every unprejudiced mind absolutely
conclusive. The sixteenth year of the reign of Alexander II. was
1230; for he ascended the throne in 1214. It necessarily follows that
the charter, if signed at all, must have been signed thirty-three
years before the battle of Largs, and thirty-six years earlier than
the actual date written on the document itself. If it had any
existence before it appeared in the Earl of Cromartie's manuscript
of the seventeenth century, it must have been written during the
lives of the witnesses whose names attest it. That is, according to
those who maintain that Colin Fitzgerald was the progenitor of the
Mackenzies, thirty-one years before that adventurer ever crossed the
Irish Channel, and probably several years before he was born, if he
ever existed elsewhere than in the Earl of Cromartie's fertile

But this is not all. It has long been established beyond any
possible doubt that the Earls of Ross were the superiors of the
lands of Kintail during the identical period in which the same lands
are said to have been held by Colin Fitzgerald and his descendants
as direct vassals of the Crown. Ferchard Mac an t-Sagairt, Earl
of Ross, received a grant of the lands of Kintail from Alexander
II. for services rendered to that monarch in 1222, and he is again
on record as their possessor in 1234, four years after the latest
date on which the reputed charter to Colin Fitzgerald, keeping
in view the witnesses whose names appear on the face of it, could
possibly have been a genuine document. Even the most prominent of
the clan historians who have so stoutly maintained the Fitzgerald
theory felt bound to admit that, "it cannot be disputed that the
Earl of Ross was the Lord paramount under Alexander II., by whom
Farquhard Mac an t-Sagairt was recognised in the hereditary dignity
of his predecessors, and who, by another tradition," Dr George
Mackenzie says, "was a real progenitor of the noble family of
Kintail." That the Earls of Ross continued lords paramount long
after the death of Colin Fitzgerald, which event is said to have
taken place in 1278, will be incontestibly proved.

But meantime let us return to the 'Origines Parochiales Scotiae.'
There we have it stated on authority which no one whose opinion
is worth anything will for a moment call in question. The editor
of that remarkable work says:- "In 1292 the Sheriffdom of Skye
erected by King John Baliol, included the lands of the Earl of Ross
in North Argyle, a district which comprehended Kintail and several
other large parishes in Ross (Acts of Parliament of Scotland, Vol.
1. p. 917). Between 1306 and 1329 King Robert Bruce confirmed to
the Earl of Ross all his lands including North Argyle (Robertson's
Index, p. 16, No. 7; Register of Moray, p. 342). In 1342, William,
Earl of Ross, the son and heir of the deceased Hugh, Earl of Ross,
granted to Reginald, the son of Roderick (Ranald Rorissoune or
MacRuaraidh) of the Isles, the ten davochs (or pennylands) of
Kintail in North Argyle (Robertson's Index, p. 48, No. 1; p. 99;
p. 100, No. 1). The grant was afterwards confirmed by King David II.
(Robertson's Index). About the year 1346 Ranald was succeeded by his
sister Amie, the wife of John of Isla (Gregory p. 27). Between the
years 1362 and 1372, William, Earl of Ross, exchanged with his
brother Hugh of Ross, Lord of Phylorth, and his heirs, his lands of
all Argyle, with the Castle of Ellandonnan, for Hugh's lands in
Buchan (Balnagown Charters). In 1463 the lands of Kintail were held
by Alexander Mackenzie (Gregory, p, 83)," when the Mackenzies
obtained the first authentic charter on record as direct vassals from
the Crown.

During the whole of this period - for two hundred years - there is
no trace of Colin Fitzgerald or any of his descendants as superiors
of the lands of Kintail in terms of Alexander III.'s reputed charter
of 1266, the Mackenzies holding all that time from and as direct
vassals of their relatives, the Earls of Ross, who really held
the position of Crown vassals which, according to the upholders
of the Fitzgerald theory, had that theory been true, would have
been held by Colin and his posterity. But neither he nor any
of his reputed descendants appear once on record in that capacity
during the whole of these two centuries. On the contrary, it has
now been proved from unquestionable authentic sources that Kintail
was in possession of the Earls of Ross in, and for at least two
generations before, 1296; that King Robert the Bruce confirmed
him in these lands in 1306, and again in 1329; that in 1342 Earl
William granted the ten davochs or pennylands of Kintail - which
is its whole extent - to Reginald of the Isles; that this grant
was afterwards confirmed by David II.; and that between the years
1362 and 1372 the Earl of Ross exchanged the lands of Kintail,
including the Castle of Ellandonnan, with his brother Hugh for
lands in Buchan.

These historical events could never have occurred had the Mackenzies
occupied the position as immediate vassals of the Crown contended
for by the supporters of the Fitzgerald theory of the origin of
the clan. It is admitted by those who uphold the claims of Colin
Fitzgerald that the half of Kintail belonged to Farquhar O'Beolan,
Earl of Ross, after what they describe as the other half had been
granted by the King to Colin Fitzgerald. But as it is conclusively
established that the ten pennylands, being the whole extent of
Kintail were all the time, before and after, in possession of the
Earls of Ross, this historical myth must follow the rest. Even the
Laird of Applecross, in his MS. history of the clan, written in 1669,
although he adopts the Fitzgerald theory from his friend and
contemporary the Earl of Cromartie, has his doubts. After quoting the
statement, that "the other half of Kintail at this time belonged to
O'Beolan, whose chief, called Farquhar, was created Earl of Ross, and
that his lands in Kintail were given by the King to Colin Fitzgerald,"
he says, "this tradition carries enough of probability to found
historical credit, but I find no charter of these lands purporting
any such grounds for that the first charter of Kintail is given by
this King Alexander to this Colin, anno 1266." That is, Alexander III.

But enough has been said on this part of the subject. Let us, however,
briefly quote two well-known modern writers. The late Robert
Carruthers, LL.D., Inverness, had occasion several years ago to examine
the Seaforth family papers for the purpose of reviewing them in the
'North British Quarterly Review.' He did not publish all that he had
written on the subject, and he was good enough to present the writer,
when preparing the first edition of this work, with some valuable MS.
notes on the clan which had not before appeared in print. In one of
these notes Dr Carruthers says -

"The chivalrous and romantic origin of the Clan Mackenzie, though
vouched for by certain charters and local histories, is now believed
to be fabulous. It seems to have been first advanced in the 17th
century, when there was an absurd desire and ambition in Scotland
to fabricate or magnify all ancient and lordly pedigrees. Sir
George Mackenzie of Tarbat, the Lord Advocate, and Sir George
Mackenzie, the first Earl of Cromartie, were ready to swear to the
descent of the Scots nation from Gathelus, son of Cecrops, King
of Athens, and Scota his wife, daughter of Pharaoh, King of Egypt;
and, of course, they were no less eager to claim a lofty and
illustrious lineage for their own clan. But authentic history
is silent as to the two wandering Irish Knights, and the reputed
charter (the elder one being palpably erroneous) cannot now be found.
For two centuries after the reigns of the Alexanders, the district of
Kintail formed part of the lordship of the Isles, and was held by the
Earls of Ross. The Mackenzies, however, can he easily traced to
their wild mountainous and picturesque country - Ceann-da-Shail -
the Head of the two Seas."

This is from an independent, impartial writer who had no interest
whatever in supporting either the one theory or the other.

Sir William Fraser, the well-known author of so many valuable private
family histories, incidentally refers to the forged charter in
his 'Earls of Cromartie,' written specially for the late Duke of
Sutherland. He was naturally unwilling to offend the susceptibilities
of the Mackenzie chiefs, all of whom had hitherto claimed Colin
Fitzgerald as their progenitor, but he was forced to admit the
inconclusive character of the disputed charter, and that no such
charter was granted to Colin Fitzgerald by Alexander III. Sir
William says:- "In the middle of the seventeenth century, when
Lord Cromartie wrote his history, the means of ascertaining, by the
names of witnesses and other ways, the true granter of a charter
and the date were not so accessible as at present. The mistake
of attributing the Kintail charter to King Alexander the Third,
instead of King Alexander the Second, cannot be regarded as a
very serious error in the circumstances." Sir William, it will
be observed, gives up the charter from Alexander III. The mere
admission that it is not of Alexander III. is conclusive against
its ever having been granted to Colin Fitzgerald at all, for, as
already pointed out, that adventurer, if he ever existed, did not,
even according to his stoutest supporters, cross the Irish Channel,
nor was he ever heard of on this side of it, for more than thirty
years after the date written on the face of the document itself
could possibly have been genuine, the witnesses whose names
appear as attesting it having been in there graves for more than
a generation before the battle of Largs was fought.

When the ablest upholders of the Colin Fitzgerald theory are obliged
to make such admissions and explanations as these, they explain
away their whole case and they must be held to have practically
given it up; for once admit, as Sir William Fraser does, that the
charter is of the reign of Alexander II. (1230), it cannot possibly
have any reference to Colin Fitzgerald, who, according to those
who support the Irish origin of the clan, only arrived in Scotland
from Ireland in 1262 and it is equally absurd and impossible to
maintain that a charter granted in 1230 could have been a reward
for services rendered or valour displayed at the battle of Largs,
which was fought in 1263, to say nothing of the now admittedly
impossible date and signatures written on the face of the document
itself; and Sir William Fraser having, by the logic of facts,
been forced to give up that crucial point, should in consistency
have at the same time given up Colin Fitzgerald. And in reality
he practically did so, for having stated that the later reputed
charters of 1360 and 1380 are not now known to exist, he adds, "But
the terms of them as quoted in the early histories of the family
are consistent with either theory of the origin of the Mackenzies,
whether descended from Colin Fitzgerald or Colin of the Aird."
In this he is quite correct; but it is impossible to say the same
thing of the earlier charter, which all the authorities worth
listening to now admit to be a palpable forgery of the seventeenth
century; and Sir William virtually admits as much.

There is one other fact which alone would be almost conclusive
against the Fitzgerald theory. Not a single man of the name Colin
is found, either among the chiefs or members of the clan from their
first appearance in history until we come to Colin cam Mackenzie
XI. of Kintail, who succeeded in June, 1568 - a period of three
hundred years after the alleged date of the reputed charter to
Colin Fitzgerald. Colin Cam was a second son, his eldest brother,
Murdoch, having died during his father's life and before he attained
majority, when Colin became heir to the estates. It was then, as
now, a common custom to name the second son after some prominent
member of his mother's family, and this was, no doubt, what was
done in the case of Colin Cam, the first Colin who appears - as
late as the middle of the sixteenth century - in the genealogy of
the Mackenzies. His mother was Lady Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of
John, Earl of Atholl, by Lady Mary Campbell, daughter of Archibald,
second, and sister of Colin, third Earl of Argyll. Colin Cam
Mackenzie, XI. of Kintail, and the first of the name in the family
genealogy, was thus called Colin by his mother, Lady Elizabeth
Stewart, after her uncle Colin, third Earl of Argyll.

It scarcely needs to be pointed out how very improbable it is that,
had Colin Fitzgerald been really the progenitor of the Mackenzies,
his name would have been so completely ignored as a family name for
more than three hundred years in face of the invariable custom among
all other notable Highland houses of honouring their direct
ancestors by continuing their names as the leading names in the
family genealogy.

It is believed that no one who brings an independent, unprejudiced.
mind to bear upon the question discussed in the preceding pages can
help coming to the conclusion that the Colin Fitzgerald theory is
completely disposed of. It is indeed extremely doubtful whether
such a person ever existed, but in any case it has been conclusively
proved by the evidence of those who claim him as their ancestor
that he never could have been what they allege - the progenitor
of the Mackenzies, whom all the best authorities now maintain to
be of purely native Celtic origin. And if this be so, is it not
unpatriotic in the highest degree for the heads of our principal
Mackenzie families to persist in supplying Burke, Foster, and other
authors of Peerages, Baronet ages, and County Families, with the
details of an alien Irish origin like the impossible Fitzgerald myth
upon which they have, in entire error, been feeding their vanity
since its invention by the first Earl of Cromartie little more
than two hundred years ago. For be it remembered that all these
Norman and Florentine pedigrees and descents are supplied to
the compilers of such genealogical works as those by members of
the respective families themselves, and that the editors are not
personally responsible for nor do they in any way guarantee their
accuracy. It is really difficult to understand the feeling that
has so long prompted most of our leading Highlanders to show such
an unnatural and unpatriotic preference for alien progenitors -
claiming the Norman enemies and conquerers of their country, or
mythical Irish adventurers, as ancestors to be proud of. Writing of
the clans who claim this alien origin the late Dr W. F. Skene,
Historiographer Royal for Scotland, says -

"As the identity of the false aspect which the true tradition,
assumes in all these cases implies that the case was the same
all, we may assume that wherever these two circumstances are to be
found combined, of a clan claiming a foreign origin and asserting
a marriage with the heiress of a Highland family whose estates
they possessed and whose followers they led, they must invariably
have been the oldest cadet of that family, who, by usurpation or
otherwise, had become de facto chief of the clan, and who covered
their defect by right of blood by denying their descent from the
clan, and asserting that the founder had married the heiress of
its chief." ['Highlands and Highlanders.']

In his later and more important work the same learned historian
discusses this question at great length. He analyses all
the doubtful pedigrees and origins claimed by the leading clans.
Regarding the Fitzgerald theory he says, "But the most remarkable
of these spurious origins is that claimed by the Mackenzies. It
appears to have been first put forward by Sir George Mackenzie,
first Earl of Cromarty," who, in his first manuscript, made Colin
a son of the Earl of Kildare, but in a later edition, written in
1669, "finding that there was no Earl of Kildare until 1290, he
corrects it by making him son of John Fitz-Thomas, chief of the
Geraldines in Ireland, and father of John, first Earl of Kildare,
who was slain in 1261." Dr Skene then summarises the story already
known at length to the reader, quotes the Record of Icolmkill
and the forged charter, and concludes -

"The same mistake is here committed as is usual in manufacturing
these pedigree charters, by making it a crown charter erecting the
lands into a barony. Kintail could not have been a barony at
that time, and the Earl of Ross and not the king was superior,
for in 1342 the Earl of Ross grants the ten davochs of the lands
of Kintail to Reginald, son of Roderick of the Isles, and we
find that the Mackenzies held their lands of the Earls of Ross
and afterwards of the Duke of Ross till 1508, when they were all
erected into a barony by King James the Fourth, who gave them a
crown charter. An examination of the witnesses usually detects
these spurious charters, and in this case it is conclusive against
the charter. Andrew was bishop of Moray from 1223 to 1242 and
there was no bishop of that name in the reign of Alexander the
Third. Henry de Baliol was chamberlain in the reign of Alexander
the Second, and not of Alexander the Third. Thomas Hostarius
belongs to the same reign, and has been succeeded by his son Alan
long before the date of this charter."

Dr Skene adds that if the Earl of Cromartie was not himself the
actual inventor of the whole story, it must have taken its rise not
very long before his day, for, he says, "no trace of it is to be
found in the Irish MSS., the history of the Geraldine family knows
nothing of it, and MacVureach, who must have been acquainted with
the popular history of the western clans, was equally unacquainted
with it." ['Celtic Scotland,' Vol. III., pp. 351-354.]

This fully corroborates all that was said in the preceding pages
regarding the Fitzgerald-Irish origin of the Mackenzies and which
every intelligent clansman, however biassed, must now admit in his
inner consciousness to be fully and finally disposed of. Having,
however, quoted Skene's earlier views on the general claim by
the Highland chiefs for alien progenitors it may be well to give
here his more mature conclusions from his later and greater work,
especially as some people, who have not taken the trouble to read
what he writes, have been saying that the great Celtic historian
had seen cause to change his views on these important points in
Highland genealogy since he wrote his 'Highlands and Highlanders'
in 1839. After examining them all very closely and exhaustively
in a long and learned chapter of some forty pages, he says -

"The conclusion, then, to which this analysis of the clan pedigrees
which have been popularly accepted at different times has brought
us, is that, so far as they profess to show the origin of the
different clans, they are entirely artificial and untrustworthy,
but that the older genealogies may be accepted as showing the descent
of the clan from its eponymus or founder, and within reasonable
limits for some generations beyond him, while the later spurious
pedigrees must be rejected altogether. It may seem surprising that
such spurious and fabulous origins should be so readily credited
by the clan families as genuine traditions, and receive such prompt
acceptance as the true fount from which they sprung; but we must
recollect that the fabulous history of Hector Boece was as rapidly
and universally adopted as the genuine annals of the national
history, and became rooted in those parts of the country to
which its fictitious events related as local traditions." ['Celtic
Scotland,' Vol. III., p. 364.]

The final decision to which Dr Skene comes in his great work is
that the clans, properly so called, were of native origin, and that
the surnames adopted by them were partly of native and partly of
foreign descent. Among these native Highland clans he unhesitatingly
classes the Mackenzies, the clan Gillie-Andres or Rosses, and the
Mathesons, all of whom belong, he says, to the tribe of Ross. In
his first work on the Highlands and Highland Clans he draws the
general deduction, based on all our existing MS. genealogies, that
the clans were divided into several great tribes, descended from
a common ancestor, but he at the same time makes a marked distinction
between the different tribes which, by indications traceable in
each, can be identified with the earldoms or maormorships into
which the North of Scotland was originally divided. By the aid
of the old genealogies he divides the clans into five different
tribes in the following order:- (1) The descendants of Conn of the
Hundred Battles; (2) of Ferchar Fata Mac Feradaig; (3) of Cormaig
Mac Obertaig; (4) of Fergus Leith Dearg; and (5) of Krycul. In
the third of these divisions he includes the old Earls of Ross,
the Mackenzies, the Mathesons, and several other clans, and to this
classification he adheres, after the most mature consideration,
in his later and greater work, the 'History of Celtic Scotland.'


It is now most interesting to know who the ancient Earls of Ross,
from whom the Mackenzies are really descended, were. The first of
these earls of whom we have any record is Malcolm Mac Heth to whom
Malcolm IV. gave Ross in 1157, with the title of Earl of Ross, but
the inhabitants rose against him and drove him out of the district.
Wyntoun mentions an Earl "Gillandrys," a name which we believe
is derived from the common ancestor of the Mackenzies and Rosses,
"Gilleoin-Ard-Rois," as one of the six Celtic earls who besieged
King Malcolm at Perth in 1160. Skene is also of opinion that this
Gillandres represented the old Celtic earls of Ross, as the clan
bearing the name of Ross are called in Gaelic Clann Ghilleanrias,
or descendants of Gillandres, and may, he thinks, have led the
revolt which drove Malcolm Mac Heth out of the earldom. The same
King, two years after the incident at Perth, gave the earldom of
Ross to Florence, Count of Holland, on that nobleman's marriage with
His Majesty's sister Ada, in 1162, but the new earl never secured
practical possession ['Celtic Scotland,' Vol. III., pp. 66-67.] He
is, however, found claiming it as late as 1179, in the reign of
William the Lion.

The district of Ross is often mentioned in the Norse Sagas along
with the other parts of the country then governed by Maormors or
Jarls, and Skene in his earlier work says that it was only on the
downfall of those of Moray that the chiefs of Ross appear prominent
in historical records, the Maormors of Moray being in such close
proximity to them and so great in power and influence that the
less powerful Maormor of Ross held only a comparatively subordinate
position, and his name was in consequence seldom or never associated
with any of the great events of that early period in Highland
history. It was only after the disappearance of those district
potentates that the chiefs appear under the appellation of
Comites or Earls. That most, if not all, of these earls were the
descendants of the ancient maormors there can be little doubt,
and the natural presumption in this instance is strengthened by
the fact that all the old authorities concur in asserting that
the Gaelic name of the original Earls of Ross was O'Beolan - a
corruption of Gilleoin, or Gillean, na h`Airde - or the descendants
of Beolan. "And we actually find," says the same authority, "from
the oldest Norse Saga connected with Scotland that a powerful chief
in the North of Scotland named O'Beolan, married the daughter of
Ganga Rolfe, or Rollo, the celebrated pirate who became afterwards
the celebrated Earl of Normandy." If this view is well-founded
the ancestor of the Earls of Ross was chief in Kintail as early as
the beginning of the tenth century. We have seen that the first
Earl of Ross recorded in history was Malcolm Mac Heth, to whom
a precept is found, directed by Malcolm IV., requesting him to
protect the monks of Dunfermline and defend them in their lawful
privileges and possessions. The document is not dated, but judging
from the names of the witnesses attesting it, the precept must have
been issued before 1162. It will be remembered that Mac Heth was
one of the six Celtic earls who besieged the King at Perth two
years before, in 1160. William the Lion, who seems to have kept
the earldom in his own hands for several years, in 1179 marched
into the district at the head of his earls and barons, accompanied
by a large army, and subdued an insurrection fomented by the
local chiefs against his authority. On this occasion he built two
castles within its bounds, one called Dunscath on the northern
Sutor at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth, and Redcastle in the
Black Isle. In the same year we find Florence, Count of Holland,
complaining that he had been deprived of its nominal ownership
by King William. There is no trace of any other earl in actual
possession until we come to Ferquard or "Ferchair Mac an t' Sagairt,"
Farquhar the son of the Priest, who rose rapidly to power on the
ruins of the once powerful Mac Heth earls of Moray, of which line
Kenneth Mac Heth, who, with Donald Ban, led a force into Moray
against Alexander II., son of William the Lion, in 1215, was
the last. Of this raid the following account is given in 'Celtic
Scotland,' Vol. I. p. 483:

"The young king had barely reigned a year when be had to encounter
the old enemies of the Crown, the families of Mac William and
Mac Eth, who now combined their forces under Donald Ban, the son
of that Mac William who bad been slain at Mamgarvie in 1187, and
Kenneth Mac Eth, a son or grandson of Malcolm Mac Eth, with the son
of one of the Irish provincial kings, and burst into the Province
of Moray at the head of a large band of malcontents. A very
important auxiliary, however, now joined the party of the king.
This was Ferquhard or Fearchar Macintagart, the son of the 'Sagart'
or priest who was the lay possessor of the extensive possessions
of the old monastery founded by the Irish Saint Maelrubba at
Applecross in the seventh century. Its possessions lay between the
district of Ross and the Western Sea and extended from Lochcarron
to Loch Ewe and Loch Maree, and Ferquhard was thus in reality a
powerful Highland chief commanding the population of an extensive
western region. The insurgents were assailed by him with great
vigour, entirely crushed, and their leaders taken, who be at once
beheaded and presented their heads to the new king as a welcome
gift on the 15th of June, when he was knighted by the king as a
reward for his prompt assistance."

The district then known as North Argyle consisted chiefly of the
possessions of this ancient monastery of Appercrossan or Applecross.
Its inhabitants had hitherto - along with those of South Argyle,
which extended from Lochcarron to the Firth of Clyde - maintained
a kind of semi-independence, but in 1222 they were, by their
lay possessor, Ferchair Mac an t'Sagairt, who was apparently the
grandson or great-grandson of Gillandres, one of the six earls
who besieged Malcolm IV. at Perth in 1160, brought into closer
connection with the crown. The lay Abbots of which Ferquhard
was the head were the hereditary possessors of all the extensive
territories which had for centuries been ruled and owned by this
old and powerful Celtic monastery. As a reward for his services
against the men of Moray in 1215 and for the great services which,
in 1222, he again rendered to the King in the subjugation of the
whole district then known as Argyle, extending from the Clyde to
Lochbroom, he received additional honours. In that campaign known
as "the Conquest of Argyle," Ferquhard led most of the western
tribes, and for his prowess, the Celtic earldom, which was then finally
annexed to the Crown and made a feudal appanage, was conferred on
him with the title of Earl of Ross, and he is so designated in a
charter dated 1234. He is again on record, under the same title,
in 1235 and 1236. Regarding an engagement which took place between
Alexander II. and the Gallowegians, in 1235, the Chronicle of
Melrose says, that "at the beginning of the battle the Earl of
Ross, called Macintagart, came up and attacked the enemies (of
the King) in the rear, and as soon as they perceived this they
took to flight and retreated into the woods and mountains, but they
were followed up by the Earl and several others, who put many of
them to the sword, and harassed them as long as daylight lasted."
In 'Celtic Scotland,' Vol. II, p.412, it is stated that the
hereditary lay priests of which he was the chief "according to
tradition, bore the name of O'Beollan"; and MacVuirich, in the Black
Book of Clanranald, says that from Ferquhard was descended
Gillapatrick the Red, son of Roderick, and known traditionally as the
Red Priest, whose daughter, at a later date, married and carried the
monastery lands of Lochalsh and Lochcarron to the Macdonalds of the

In one of the Norse Sagas the progenitor of Ferquhard is designated
"King," just the same as the great Somerled and some of his
descendants had been called at a later date. Referring to Helgi,
son of Ottar, the Landnamabok Saga records that "he made war upon
Scotland and carried off prisoner Nidbjorga, the daughter of King
Bjolan, and of Kadliner, daughter or Ganga Rolf," or Rollo, who,
as already stated, afterwards became the celebrated Earl of Normandy.
Writing of Alexander, third Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles,
Hugh Macdonald, the Sleat historian, says that -

"He was a man born to much trouble all his life time. First he
took to him the concubine daughter of Patrick Obeolan, surnamed
the Red, who was a very beautiful woman. This surname Obeolan
was the surname of the Earls of Ross, till Farquhar, born in Ross,
was created earl by King Alexander, and so carried the name of
Ross since, as best answering the English tongue. This Obeolan
had its descent of the ancient tribe of Manapii; of this tribe
is also St. Rice or Ruffus. Patrick was an Abbot and had Carlebay
in the Lewis, and the Church lands in that country, with 18 mark
lands in Lochbroom. He bad two sons and a daughter. The sons
were called Normand and Austin More, so called from his excessive
strength and corpulency. This Normand had daughters that were
great beauties, one of whom was married to Mackay of Strathnavern
one to Dugall MacRanald, Laird of Mudort; one to MacLeod of Assint;
one to MacDuffie; and another, the first, to Maclean of Bororay.
Patrick's daughter bore a son to Alexander, Lord of the Isles and
Earl of Ross, who was called Austin (Uisdean or Hugh) or as others
say, Augustine. She was twice before the King, as Macdonald could
not be induced to part with her, on occasion of her great beauty.
The King said, that it was no wonder that such a fair damsel had
enticed Macdonald." ['Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis,' pp. 304-305.]

It is not intended here to discuss whether Hugh of Sleat and his
elder brother Celestine of Lochalsh were illegitimate or not.
They were so called by their father, Earl Alexander, and by their
brother, Earl John. The first describes Celestine as "filius
naturalis" in a charter preserved in the Mackintosh charter
chest, dated 1447, and Earl John calls his brother Austin or Hugh
"frater carnalis" in two charters, dated respectively 1463 and
1470. This goes far to corroborate the Sleat historian, who was not
the least likely to introduce illegitimacy into his own favourite
family unless the charge was really true. It is instructive to
find that Celestine succeeded to all the lands of the monastery
of Applecross in Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and Lochbroom. These lay
abbots are also said to have held, under the old Earls of Ross,
the Sleat district of the Isle of Skye, which Hugh, first of that
family, is alleged to have inherited through his mother, daughter
of the Red Priest and a descendant of Farquhar Mac an t'Sagairt, Earl
of Ross. It will be observed also that Austin, Uisdean, or Hugh,
a common name among the Applecross and old Earl of Ross dynasty,
comes into the Macdonald family for the first time at this period,
after Earl Alexander of the Macdonald line had formed a union with
the daughter of the last lay Abbot of Applecross. Skene distinctly
affirms that Hugh Macdonald of Sleat was the son of Earl Alexander
by a daughter of this Gille-Padruig ('Celtic Scotland,' Vol. III. p.
298) while Gregory suggests that the words naturalis and carnalis
used by Hugh's father and brother in the charters already quoted
"were used to designate the issue of those handfast or left-handed
marriages which appear to have been so common in the Highlands
and Isles." ['Western Highlands and Isles,' p.41] Whether the Sleat
district of Skye was or was not carried for the first time to the
Macdonald Earls of Ross and Lords of the Isles by this union with
a member of the family of the original O'Beolan Earls, it is
perfectly clear that the latter had an intimate connection with
the Sleat district at a much earlier period.

Saint Maelrubba, who is first heard of in Britain in 671, two years
later, in 673, founded the original Church of Applecross "from
which as a centre he evangelised the whole of the western districts
lying between Loch Carron and Loch Broom, as well as the south and
west parts of the Island of Skye, and planted churches in Easter
Ross and elsewhere." ['Celtic Scotland,' Vol. II. p. 166.] It is
at least interesting to find these lands going to and afterwards
remaining in possession of the two sons of Earl Alexander who are
said to have been illegitimate, when all their other enormous
possessions were in 1493 finally forfeited to the Crown. Hugh,
who possessed Sleat during the life of his father and brother,
receives a Crown charter of these lands under the Great Seal two
years after, in 1495, although his brother John, fourth and last
Lord of the Isles, was still alive, his death not having occurred
until 1498, three years later.

Sir Robert Gordon ('Earldom of Scotland,' p. 36) shows that the
Rosses were originally designated O'Beolan and Gillanders
indiscriminately, according to the writer's or speaker's fancy.
He says that -

"From the second son of the Earl of Ross the lairds of Balnagowan
are descended, and had by inheritance the lands of Rariechies and
Coulleigh, where you may observe that the laird of Balnagowan's
surname should not be Ross, seeing that there was never any Earl
of Ross of that surname; but the Earls of Ross were first of the
surname of Beolan, then they were Leslies, and last of all that
earldom fell by inheritance to the Lords of the Isles, who resigned
the same unto king James the Third's bands, in the year of God
1477. So I do think that the lairds of Balnagowan, perceiving the
Earls of Ross decayed, and that earldom, fallen into the Lords of
the Isles' hands, they called themselves Ross thereby to testify
their descent from the Earls of Ross. Besides, all the Rosses in that
province are Unto this day called in the Irish (Gaelic) language
Clan Leandries, which race by their own tradition is sprung from
another stock."

In the same work, p. 46, we find that the Earls of Ross were called
O'Beolans as late as 1333, for Sir Robert informs us, writing of
the battle of Halidon Hill, that "in this field was Hugh Beolan,
Earl of Ross, slain."

It is established to the satisfaction of all reasonable men that
the Applecross and O'Beolan Earls of Ross were one and the same,
and that they were descended from Gilleoin na h' Airde, corrupted
in the Norse Sagas into "Beolan," the general designation by which
they were known, until Earl William, the last of his line, died
without surviving male issue on the 9th of February, 1372, when the
title devolved upon his daughter, Euphemia, Countess of Ross in her
own right, whose daughter, Mary, or Margaret, by Sir Walter Leslie,
carried the earldom to Donald of Harlaw, second Lord of the Isles.
That the O'Beolan Earls of Ross, of whom Ferquhard Mac an t'Sagairt
was the first, descended from the same ancestor, Gilleoin na h' Airde,
as the older "Gillandres" earl of 1160, is equally certain. Earl
Gillandres as probably forfeited for the part he took against
Malcolm IV. on that occasion, and Ferquhard having rendered such
important services to Alexander II. was restored probably quite as
much in virtue of his ancient rights as the grandson of Ferquhard as
on account of his valiant conduct in support of the crown in Moray,
in Argyle, and in Galloway, in 1215, 1222, and 1235.

The surname Ross has in early times been invariably rendered in
Gaelic as Gilleanrias, or Gillanders, and the Rosses appear under
this appellation in all the early Acts of Parliament. There is
also an unvarying tradition that on the death of the last Earl of
the O'Beolan line a certain Paul Mac Tire was for some years head
of the Rosses, and this tradition is corroborated by the fact
that there is a charter on record by Earl William of the lands of
Gairloch in 1366 in favour of Paul Mac Tire and his heirs by Mary
Graham, in which the Earl styles Mac Tire his cousin. This grant
was confirmed by King Robert II. in 1372. In the manuscript of
1467 the genealogy of Clann Gille-Anrias, or the descendants of
Gillean-Ard-Rois, begins with a Paul Mac Tire. The clan whose
genealogy is there given is undoubtedly that of the Rosses, and
in the manuscript they are traced upwards from Paul MacTire in a
direct line to Gilleon na h'Airde, the "Beolan" of the Norse Sagas,
who lived in the tenth century, and who will be shown to be also
the remote progenitor of the Mackenzies. The Aird referred to is
said to be the Aird of Ross.

In the manuscript of 1467 the name Gille-Anrias appears
in the genealogies of both the Mackenzies and the Rosses exactly
contemporaneous with the generation which preceded the original
grant to "Ferchair Mac an t'Sagairt" of the Earldom of Ross. The
name Gille-Anrias has been rendered as the Gaelic equivalent for
Servant of Andrew, or St. Andrew, and that, according to Skene,
would seem to indicate that the first of that name, if not a priest
himself, must have belonged to the priestly house of Appercrossan
or Applecross, of which Earl Farquhar ultimately became the head.
The dates exactly correspond; and when, in addition to this, it
is remembered that of the earls who besieged Malcolm IV. at Perth
in 1160 one was named "Gillandres" it seems fully established that
Ferchard Mac an t'Sagairt was descended from the original earls
and that he was entitled to the earldom by ancient right on the
failure or forfeiture of the direct representative of the old line,
as well as by a new creation. Although there may have been one
or two usurpers - a common event in those turbulent times - Ferquhard
was undoubtedly a near relative and the legitimate successor
of the Celtic "Gillandres" earl of 1160. He is described in the
'Chronicle of Melrose' as "Comes Rossensis Machentagard," and in
Dalrymple's Annals of Scotland as "Mc Kentagar," a designation
which the author describes in a footnote as "an unintelligible
word," though its meaning is perfectly plain to every Gaelic-speaking

Ferquhard founded the Abbey of Fearn, in Easter Ross, about 1230,
and died there in 1251.

Referring to his position during the first half of the thirteenth
century even the Earl of Cromartie is forced to admit in his MS., a
copy of which we possess, that "it cannot be disputed that the Earl
of Ross was the Lord paramount under Alexander II., by whom Farquhard
Mac an t'Sagairt was recognised in the hereditary dignity of his
predecessors, and who, by another tradition, was a real progenitor of
the noble family of Kintail." And this was said and written by an
author, who, in another part of the same manuscript, stoutly maintains
that the king granted these identical lands to Colin Fitzgerald by a
charter which, if it was ever signed at all, must have been signed a
full generation before the date which the forged document bears -
thirty years after the witnesses whose names attest it had gone to
their last home.


It must now be most interesting to every member of the Clan Mackenzie
to know who these O'Beolan Earls of Ross were and all that can
be ascertained regarding themselves and their family alliances.
Leaving out Earl Gillanders, of whom so little is known, let us begin

who, as already stated, founded the Abbey of Fearn, and died there
in 1251. By his wife, whose name has not come down to us, he had
issue, at least,

1. William, his heir and successor.

2. Malcolm, of whose life nothing is known.

3. Euphemia, who married Walter de Moravia, Lord of Duffus from
1224 to 1262.

4. Christina, who married Olave the Red, King of Man, with issue.

Farquhar was succeeded by his eldest son,

II. WILLIAM O'BEOLAN, EARL OF ROSS. He obtained Skye and
Lewis from Alexander III. and died at Earles Allane in 1274. He
married Joan daughter of the first Red Comyn, who died in 1273,
and sister of John, the Black Comyn, Lord of Badenoch and Earl
of Buchan, who married Marjory, sister of King John Baliol, with
issue - the Red Comyn, who was killed by Robert the Bruce in the
Church of Dumfries in 1306. Another sister of the Countess of
Ross was married to John Macdougall, Lord of Lorn, on record in 1251,
usually styled "King Eoin or Ewin." By his wife Earl William
had issue -

1. William, his heir and successor.

2. Dorothea, who married her cousin, Torquil Macleod II. of Lewis,
with issue.

He was succeeded by his only son,

III. WILLIAM O'BEOLAN, EARL OF ROSS, who fought alternately
with Edward I. and Robert the Bruce, and was imprisoned in London
1296-97. In 1306 he delivered up to the English King, Robert
Bruce's Queen, Isabella, his daughter Marjory, his sister Mary,
the brave Countess of Buchan, and other ladies of distinction, who
bad for a time found shelter and protection in the Sanctuary of
St. Duthus, at Tain, from the English oppressors of their country.
In 1309 he obtained a new grant of his lands. By his wife, one of
the Grahams of Montrose, he had issue -

1. Hugh, his heir and successor.

2. Sir John, who married his second cousin, Margaret, daughter of
Alexander, Earl of Buchan.

3. Isabella, who married Edward Bruce, Earl of Carrick, brother
of King Robert the Bruce.

4. A daughter who, as her second husband, married Malise, Earl of
Stratherne, with issue - four daughters, the eldest of whom married
William St. Clair, Baron of Roslin, whose son Henry afterwards
succeeded in right of his mother to the earldom of Stratherne.

He died at Delny, in Easter Ross, in 1323, and was succeeded by
his eldest son, IV. HUGH O'BEOLAN, EARL OF ROSS. He received
charters, of Strathglass and of the Isle of Skye. He married first,
in 1308, Maud or Matilda, sister of King Robert the Bruce, with
issue -

1. William, his heir and successor.

2. Hugh Ross of Rarichies, from whom the Old Rosses of Balnagown,
of whom the last representative in the male line was the late
George Ross of Pitcalnie. This Hugh obtained the lands of Philorth
in Aberdeen-shire, and between 1362 and 1372 he exchanged them with
his brother, Earl Hugh, for the lands of North Argyle, including
the Castle of Ellandonnan. The territories exchanged included
Strathglass, Kintail, and other lands in Wester Ross.

3. Janet, who married, first, Monimusk of Monimusk and, secondly,
Sir Alexander Murray of Abercairny.

4. Euphemia or Eupham, who married, first, Randolph, Earl of Moray,
who was killed at the battle of Durham, and secondly, her cousin,
King Robert II., grandson of Robert the Bruce and first of the
Stuart dynasty. This marriage being within the prohibited degrees
of consanguinity a special dispensation was obtained from Pope
Innocent VI. for its celebration in 1355. She died in 1372.

Earl Hugh married, secondly, also by dispensation from the Pope,
in 1329, Margaret, daughter of Sir David de Graham.

The Earl was killed at the battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, when he
was succeeded by his eldest son, V. WILLIAM O'BEOLAN, EARL OF
ROSS AND LORD OF SKYE, banished to Norway for some serious
offence, but in 1336 he is found in actual possession of the
earldom. He was afterwards Justiciar of Scotland, and in a charter
of 1374 he is designated "frater Regis," or the King's brother, no
doubt from the fact that his sister Euphemla was the wife of
Robert II. He rebuilt the Abbey of Fearn, and married his cousin
Isobel, daughter of Malise, Earl of Stratherne, Orkney, and
Caithness, with issue -

1. William, who died before his father

2. Euphemia, who became Countess of Ross in her own right on the
death of her father.

3. Johanna, who, in 1375, married Sir Alexander Fraser, Lord of
Cowie and Durris, ancestor of the Frasers of Philorth and Pitsligo,
now represented by Lord Saltoun. Johanna first carried the lands
of Philorth to that family. She has a charter in 1370.

William died on the 9th of February, 1372, without surviving male
issue, when he was succeeded by his eldest daughter,

She married first, by dispensation, dated 1367, Sir Walter Leslie,
son of Sir Andrew Leslie, who in right of his wife became Earl of
Ross. They have a charter of the earldom of Ross and of the lands
of Skye dated 1370, two years before Earl William's death, in their
own favour and that of their heirs male and female in reversion.
Her first husband predeceased her in 1382, whereupon she married,
secondly, Alexander, Earl of Buchan, better known in history as
"The Wolf of Badenoch." He died, without issue, in 1394. She died
Abbess of Elcho in 1398, and was buried in Fortrose Cathredral. By
Sir Walter Leslie she had issue -

1. Sir Alexander Leslie, who became Earl of Ross in right of his

2. Margaret Leslie, who married Donald, second Lord of the Isles,
who in her right, after fighting the battle of Harlaw, succeeded to
the earldom of Ross, and carried it to a new family, the Macdonald
Lords of the isles.

When the Countess Euphemia died, in 1398, she was succeeded by
her only son,

daughter of Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, Governor of Scotland,
and by her had issue an only daughter, Lady Euphemia, or Mary, who
became a nun, and resigned the earldom in favour of her maternal
uncle, John, Earl of Buchan. Donald, Lord of the Isles, who married
her father's sister, Margaret, disputed Euphemia's right to put the
earldom past her aunt, and the battle of Harlaw was fought in 1411
to decide the issue, which, as already stated, turned, so far as the
possession of the great earldom was concerned, in favour of the Lord
of the Isles, since known as Donald of Harlaw. From this point the
history of the earldom falls properly to be dealt with and is given
at length in 'The History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles.'
But thus far it cannot fail to be extremely interesting to all the
members of the clan Mackenzie, whether they believe in the
Gillanders and O'Beolans or in the Fitzgeralds as the progenitors of
the race; for in any case the clan was in its earlier annals closely
allied with the O'Beolan Earls of Ross by descent and marriage.

It has been established that Gillanders and O'Beolan were the names
of the ancient and original Earls of Ross, and they continued to be
represented in the male line by the Old Rosses of Balnagowan down
to the end of the eighteenth century, when the last heir male of
that family, finding that the entail ended with himself, sold the
estates to General Ross, brother of Lord Ross of Hawkhead, who,
although possessing the same name, was of a different family
and origin. It will, it is believed, be now admitted with equal
certainty that the Rosses and the Mackenzies are descended from
the same progenitor, Beolan or Gilleoin na h'Airde, the undoubted
common ancestor of the old Earls of Ross, the Gillanders, and the
Rosses. The various steps in the earliest portion of the genealogy
connecting the Mackenzies with the common ancestor will be given
with the same detail as that of the Rosses, and it will be stated
with sufficient accuracy to justify the conclusions at which, in
common with Dr Skene and all the best authorities on the subject,
we have arrived. The genealogy of the Clan Andres or Rosses in
the manuscript of 1467, is as follows:

"Pol ic Tire, ic Eogan, ic Muiredaigh, ic Poil, ic Gilleanrias,
ic Martain, ic Poil, ic Cainig, ic Cranin, ic Eogan, ic Cainic,
ic Cranin, McGilleoin na h'Airde, ic Eirc, ic Loirn, ic Fearchar,
Mc Cormac, ic Abertaig, ic Feradaig."

Dr Skene's translation -

"Paul son of Tire, son of Ewen, son of Murdoch, son of Paul, son
of Gillanrias, son of Martin, son of Paul, son of Kenneth, son of
Crinan, son of Ewen, son of Kenneth, son of Crinan, son of Gilleoin
of the Aird, son of Erc, son of Lorn, son of Ferchar, son of
Cormac, son of Oirbeirtaigh, son of Feradach."

The Mackenzie genealogy in the same MS. is -

"Muiread ic Cainig, Mc Eoin, ic Cainig, ic Aengusa, ic Cristin,
ic Agam, Mc Gilleoin Qig, ic Gilleon na h'Aird."

Skene's translation follows -

"Murdoch son of Kenneth, son of John, son of Kenneth, son of Angus,
son of Cristin, son of Adam, son of Gilleoin Og, son of Gilleoin
of the Aird."

Skene makes an important correction on this genealogy in his
later work, 'Celtic Scotland,' Vol. III., p. 485, by substituting
Cainig - Kenneth, for Agam - Adam, in his original reading. In
this form the genealogy of 1467 corresponds exactly, so far as it
goes, with that given by MacVuirich in the Black Book of Clanranald.
In 1222 "Gilchrist filius Kinedi," Gillecriosd son of Kenneth, is
on record as a follower of MacWilliam. Cristean is the ordinary
Gaelic form of Christopher, otherwise Gilchrist, or Gillecriosd.
There is thus no doubt that the "Cristin" of the Gaelic genealogy
is the same name as Gillecriosd, Gilchrist, and Christopher.

In the MacVuirich manuscript, however, several names are given
between Gilleoin Og and Gilleoin na h'Airde which are absent from
the manuscript of 1467; for while we have thirteen generations in
the Clan Anrias or Ross genealogy in the latter between Paul Mac
Tire and Gilleoin of the Aird, we have only eight in the Mackenzie
genealogy between Murdoch of the Cave, who was contemporary with
Mac Tire, and their common ancestor Gilleoin of the Aird, or
Beolan. In the MacVuirich manuscript there are fifteen generations,
translated thus -

"Murdoch son of Kenneth, son of John, son of Kenneth, son of Angus
'crom,' or the hump-backed, son of Kenneth, son of Gilleoin Og,
son of Gilleoin Mor, or the Great, son of Murdoch, son of Duncan,
son of Murdoch, son of Duncan, son of Murdoch, son of Kenneth,
son of Cristin, or Christopher, son of Gilleoin of the Aird."

The genealogies of the three families as brought out by these
manuscripts, are shown in the following table:--

| Crinan | Cristin |
| Kenneth | Kenneth |
| Ewen | Murdoch |
| Crinan | Duncan |
| Kenneth | Murdoch |
| Paul | Duncan |
| Martin | Murdoch |
| Gillanrias | Gilleoin Mor |
+---------|--------------------| Gilleoin Og |
| | Kenneth |
+-------------------+------------------+ | Angus Crom |
| EARLS OF ROSS | ROSSES | | Kenneth |
+-------------------+------------------+ | John |
| The Priest-"An | Paul | | Kenneth |
| Sagart" | Murdoch | | Murdoch of the |
| I. Ferquhard "Mac | Ewen | | Cave who died |
| an t'Sagairt" | Tire | | in 1375 |
| II. William | Paul Mac Tire | +------------------+
| III. William | who has a |
| IV. Hugh | charter of the |
| V. William who | lands of |
| died in 1372 | Garloch from |
| | the Earl of |
| | Ross in 1366, |
| | confirmed in |
| | 1372. |

There would seem to be no doubt that "Tire" or Tyre, stands here
and elsewhere for "An t'Oighre," or the Heir, and Paul "Mac Tire"
for Pol " Mac-an-Oighre," or Son of the Heir. It will be observed
that Colin does not appear once in these early genealogies, and it
has been already pointed out that no trace of it is found anywhere
as a family name until the middle of the sixteenth century, when
it was introduced by the marriage of one of the Mackenzie chiefs
to a daughter of the Earl of Atholl, whose mother was Lady Mary
Campbell, and who, calling her second son after her own uncle
Colin, third Earl of Argyll, for the first time brought that name
into the family genealogy of Kintail.

It will also be seen as we proceed, although the Earls of Ross were
superiors of the lands of Kintail as part of the earldom, and that
it was therefore impossible that Colin Fitzgerald or any other person
than those earls could have had a gift of it from the Crown, that
the Mackenzies occupied the lands and the castle, not as immediate
vassals; of the King, but of their own near relatives, the O'Beolan
Earls of Ross and their successors, for at least two hundred years
before the Mackenzies received a grant of it for themselves direct
from the Crown. This is proved beyond dispute by genuine historical
documents. Until within a few years of the final forfeiture of
the Lords of the Isles in 1476, the Mackenzies undoubtedly held
their lands, first from the O'Beolan Earls and subsequently from
the Island Lords as Earls of Ross; for the first direct Crown
charter to any chief of Kintail of which we have authentic record,
is one dated the 7th of January, 1463, in favour of Alexander
"Ionraic," the sixth Baron.

To show the intimate relations which existed between the original
Earls of Ross and the ancestor of the Mackenzies, a quotation
may be given from a manuscript history of the clan written by Dr
George Mackenzie, nephew of Kenneth Mor, third Earl of Seaforth,
in the seventeenth century. Although he is a supporter of the
Fitzgerald origin, he is forced to say that, "at the same time
(1267) William, Earl of Ross, laying a claim of superiority over
the Western Isles, thought this a fit opportunity to seize the
Castle of Ellandonnan. He sent a messenger to his Kintail men to
send their young chieftain to him as being his nearest kinsman by
marriage with his aunt." He then goes on to say, that Kenneth,
not Colin, was joined by the MacIvers, Macaulays, MacBeolans, and
Clan Tarlichs, "the ancient inhabitants of Kintail," and refused to
surrender, when "the Earl of Ross attacked them and was beaten."
Had there been no previous kinship between the two families - and
no one will now attempt with any show of reason to maintain
that there was not - this marriage of William, the second Earl, to
Kenneth's aunt would have made the youthful Kenneth, ancestor of
the Mackenzies, first cousin, on the maternal side, to William
O'Beolan, the third Earl of that line, whose wife and therefore
Kintail's aunt, was Joan, sister of John, the Black Comyn, Lord
of Badenoch. It has further been proved to a demonstration, and
it is now admitted by all the best authorities, that the O'Beolan
Earls of Ross were descended from Gilleoin na h' Airde; and so are
the Mackenzies, who from the first formed an integral and most
important part of the ancient powerful native Gaelic tribes of
which the Earls of Ross were the chiefs.

It has been shown that Kenneth, from whom the Mackenzies take
their name, was closely allied by marriage with William, second
Earl of Ross, the latter having married Kenneth's maternal aunt.
This fact by itself would be sufficient to establish the high
position, which even at that early period, was occupied by Kenneth,
who was already very closely connected with the O'Beolan Earls of
Ross by blood and marriage.

Kenneth himself married Morna or Morba, daughter of Alexander
Macdougall, styled, "De Ergedia," Lord of Lorn by a daughter
of John, the first Red Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, who died in 1273.
Kenneth's wife was thus a sister of John, the Black Comyn, who
died about 1299, having married Marjory, daughter of John Baliol,
by whom he had John, the second Red Comyn, one of the competitors
for the Scottish Crown, killed by Robert the Bruce in the Church
of Dumfries in 1306. Kenneth's issue by Morna or Morba of Lorn was
John Mackenzie, II. of Kintail, who was thus, through his mother,
third In descent from John, the first Red Comyn, who died in 1273,
and sixth from the great Somerled of the Isles, Thane of Argyle,
progenitor of the Macdougalls of Lorn and of all the Macdonalds,
who died in 1164.

John made even a more illustrious alliance than his father, by
which at that early date he introduced the Royal blood of Scotland
and England into the family of Kintail. He married his relative,
Margaret, sister of David, twelfth Earl of Atholl, slain in 1335,
and daughter of David, the eleventh Earl, who died in 1327 (whose
estates were forfeited by Edward I.), by Joan Comyn (died 1323),
daughter of the Red Comyn killed by Robert the Bruce, and great
granddaughter of John Baliol. Margaret's father, David, eleventh
Earl of Atholl who died in 1327, was the oldest son of John de
Strathbogie, tenth Earl, hanged by Edward I. Earl John's mother
was the Countess Isabel de Dover, who died at a very old age in
1292, daughter of Richard Fitzroy de Chillam (died 1216), a natural
son of King John of England.

Kenneth Mackenzie, III. of Kintail, the issue of this marriage, was
sixth in descent from John Baliol of the Royal line of Scotland
and sixth from King John of England.

The Norwegian blood of the Kings of Man was brought into the family
by the marriage of this Kenneth to Finguala, daughter of Torquil
Macleod, I. of Lewis, who was the grandson of Olave the Black,
Norwegian King of Man, who died about 1237, by his wife Christina,
daughter of Ferquhard "Mac an t'Sagairt," first O'Beolan Earl of

The Royal blood of the Bruce was introduced by the marriage of
Murdoch Mackenzie, V. of Kintail, to Finguala, daughter of Malcolm
Macleod, III. of Harris (who has a charter in 1343), by Martha,
daughter of David, twelfth Earl of Mar, son of Gratney, eleventh
Earl (whose sister Isabel married Robert the Bruce) by his wife
Christina, daughter of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and sister
of King Robert the Bruce.

The Plantaganet blood-royal of England was introduced later by the
marriage of Kenneth Mackenzie, X. of Kintail, to Lady Elizabeth
Stewart, daughter of John, second Earl of Atholl, fourth in descent
from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, son of Edward III., and
father of Henry IV. of England, and this strain was strengthened and
continued by the marriage of Kenneth's son, Colin Cam Mackenzie,
XI. of Kintail, to his cousin Barbara, daughter of John Grant of
Grant by Lady Marjory Stewart, daughter of John, third Earl of
Atholl. It scarcely needs to be pointed out that, through these
inter-marriages, the Mackenzies are also descended from the
ancient Celtic MacAlpine line of Scottish Kings, from the original
Anglo-Saxon Kings of England, and from the oldest Scandinavian,
Charlemagne, and Capetian lines, as far back as the beginning of
the ninth century.

The origin of the O'Beolan Earls of Ross and the Mackenzies from
the same source is strikingly illustrated by their inter-marriages
into the same families and with each other's kindred. Both the
O'Beolans and the Mackenzies made alliances with the Comyns of
Badenoch, with the MacDougalls of Lorn, and subsequently with the
Macleods of Lewis and Harris, thus forming a network of cousinship
which ultimately included all the leading families in the Highlands,
every one of which, through these alliances, have the Royal blood
of all the English, Scottish, and Scandinavian Kings, and many of
the earlier foreign monarchs, coursing in their veins.

Surely this is a sufficiently ancient and illustrious origin and
much more satisfactory to every patriotic clansman than an Irish
adventurer like the reputed Colin Fitzgerald, who, if he ever
existed, had not and never could have had any connection with the
real origin of the Mackenzies, which was as purely native of the
Highlands as it was possible for any Scoto-Celtic family in those
days to be. The various genealogical steps and marriage alliances
already referred to will be confirmed in each individual case as
we proceed with the succession and history of the respective chiefs
of the family, beginning with the first of the line,


Who gave his name to the clan. His is the fourth ascending name
in the manuscript genealogy of 1467, which begins with Murdoch
of the Cave. Murdoch died in 1375, and was thus almost
contemporaneous with the author of the Gaelic genealogy, which,
translated, proceeds up to this Kenneth as follows: Murdoch, son
of Kenneth, son of John, son of Kenneth, and so on, as already
given at page 39 to Gilleoin of the Aird.

At this interesting stage it may be well to explain how the name
Mackenzie came to be pronounced and written as it now is. John,
the son of this Kenneth, would be called in the original native
Gaelic, "Ian Mac Choinnich," John, son of Kenneth. In that form
it was unpronounceable to those unacquainted with the native tongue.
The nearest approach the foreigner could get to its correct
enunciation would be Mac Coinni or Mac Kenny, which ultimately came
to be spelt Mac Kenzie, Z in those days having exactly the same
value and sound as the letter V; and the name, although spelt
with a Z instead of a Y would be pronounced Mac Kenny, as indeed
we pronounce in our own day, in Scotland, such names as Menzies,
Macfadzean, and several others, as if they were still written with
the letter Y. The two letters being thus of the same value, after
a time came to be used indiscriminately in the word Kenny or
Kenzie, and the letter z having subsequently acquired a different
value and sound of its own, more allied to the letter S than to the
original Y, the name is pronounced as if it were written Mackensie.

Kenneth was the son and heir of Angus, the direct representative
of a long line of ancestors up to Gilleoin na li'Airde, the common
progenitor of the O'Beolan Earls of Ross, the Clann Ghille-Andrais,
who about the end of the fourteenth century called themselves
Rosses, and of the Mackenzies. The close connection by blood and
marriage between the O'Beolan Earls of Ross and Kenneth's family
before and after this period has been already shown, but the ancient
ties of friendship had at this time become somewhat strained.
Kenneth succeeded to the government of Ellandonnan Castle, which
was garrisoned by his friends and supporters, the Macraes and the
Maclennans, who, even at that early date in large numbers occupied
Kintail. Kenneth, in fact, was Governor of the Castle, and was
otherwise becoming so powerful that his superior, the Earl, was
getting very jealous of him.

At this time the first Earl William laid claim to the superiority
of the Western Isles, which he and his father, Ferchair
Mac an t'Sagairt; were chiefly instrumental, among the followers
of Alexander III., in wresting from the Norwegians, and he was
naturally desirous to have the government of Ellandonnan Castle
in his own hands, or under the charge of some one less ambitious
than Kenneth, and on whom he could implicitly rely. Kenneth
was advancing rapidly both in power and influence among his more
immediate neighbours, who were mainly composed of the ancient
inhabitants of the district, the Mac Beolains, who occupied
Glenshiel and the south side of Loch Duich as far as Kylerhea; the
Mac Ivors, who inhabited Glen Lichd, the Cro of Kintail, and the
north side of Loch Duich; while the Mac Tearlichs, now calling
themselves Mac Erlichs or Charlesons, occupied Glenelchaig.
These aboriginal natives naturally supported Kenneth, who was one
of themselves, against the claims of his superior, the Earl, who
though a pure Highland Celt was less known in Kintail than the
Governor of the Castle. This only made the Earl more determined
than ever to obtain possession of the stronghold, and he peremptorily
requested the garrison to surrender it and Kenneth to him at once.
The demand was promptly refused; and finding that the Governor
was resolved to hold it at all hazards the Earl sent a strong
detachment to take it by storm.

Kenneth was readily joined by the surrounding tribes, among whom
were, along with those whose names have been already given, the
brave Macaulays of Lochbroom, who were distantly related to him.
By the aid of these reinforcements Kenneth was able to withstand
a desperate and gallant onset by the Earl and his followers, who
were defeated and driven back with great slaughter. This
exasperated the enemy so much that he soon after returned to the
charge with a largely increased force, at the same time threatening
the young governor with the utmost vengeance and final extirpation
unless he immediately capitulated. But before the Earl was able to
carry his threats into execution, be was overtaken by a severe
illness of which he very soon after died, in 1274. His son, the
second Earl William, did not persevere in his father's policy
against Kintail, and it was not long before his attention was
diverted into another channel. On the death of Alexander III., in
1286, the affairs of the nation became confused and distracted.
This was rather an advantage to Kenneth than otherwise, for, in the
general disorder which followed he was able to strengthen his
position among the surrounding tribes. Through a combination
of native prudence, personal popularity, and a growing power and
influence heightened by the eclat of his having so recently defeated
the powerful Earl of Ross, he succeeded in maintaining good order
in his own district, while his increasing influence was felt over
most of the Western Isles.

Kenneth married Morna or Morba, daughter of Alexander Macdougall
of Lorn, "de Ergedia," by a daughter of John the first Red Comyn,
and sister of John the Black Comyn, Earl of Badenoch. He died
in 1304 and was buried in Icolmkill, when he was succeeded by his
only son,


The first of the race called Mac Kenny or Mac Kenzie. Dr George
Mackenzie, already quoted, says that "the name Coinneach is common
to the Pictish and Scottish Gael," and that "Mackenzie, Baron of
Kintail, attached himself to the fortunes of the heroic Robert the
Bruce, notwithstanding MacDougall's (his father-in-law) tenacious
adherence to the cause of Baliol, as is believed, in resentment
for the murder of his cousin, the Red Comyn, at Dumfries"; while
the Earl of Cromartie says that he "not only sided with Robert
Bruce in his contest with the Cumins but that he was one of those
who sheltered him in his lurking and assisted him in his restitution;
'for in the Isles,' says Boethius 'he had supply from a friend;
and yet Donald of the Isles, who then commanded them, was on the
Cumin's side, and raised the Isles to their assistance, and was
beat at Deer by Edward Bruce, anno 1308.'" All this is indeed
highly probable.

After Bruce left the Island of Rachrin he was for a considerable
time lost sight of, many believing that he had perished during his
wanderings, from the great hardships which he necessarily endured
in his ultimately successful attempts to escape the vigilant
efforts and search of his enemies. That Bruce found shelter in
Ellandonnan Castle and was there protected for a considerable time
by the Baron of Kintail - until he found opportunity again to take
the field against his enemies - has ever since been the unbroken
tradition in the Highlands, and it has always been handed down
from one generation to another as a proud incident in the history
of the clan. The Laird of Applecross, who wrote his manuscript
history of the Mackenzies in 1669, follows the earlier family
historians. He says that this Baron of Kintail "did own the
other party, and was one of those who sheltered the Bruce, and
assisted in his recovery. I shall not say he was the only one,
but this stands for that assertion that all who were considerable
in the Hills and Isles were enemies to the Bruce, and so cannot be
presumed to be his friends. The Earl of Ross did most unhandsomely
and unhumanly apprehend his lady at Tain and delivered her to the
English, anno 1305. Donald of the Isles, or Rotholl, or rather
Ronald, with all the Hebrides, armed against the Bruce and were
beat by Edward Bruce in Buchan, anno 1308. Alexander of Argyll
partied (sided with) the Baliol; his country, therefore, was wasted
by Bruce, anno 1304, and himself taken by him, 1309. Macdougall
of Lorn fought against the Bruce, and took him prisoner, from whom
he notably escaped, so that there is none in the district left
so considerable as this chief (Mackenzie) who had an immediate
dependence on the Royal family and had this strong fort, which was
never commanded by the Bruce's enemies, either English or Scots;
and that his shelter and assistance was from a remote place and
friend is evident from all our stories. But all their neighbours
being stated on a different side from the Mackenzies engendered a
feud betwixt him and them, especially with the Earl of Ross and
Donald of the Isles, which never ended but with the end of the
Earl of Ross and lowering of the Lord of the Isles." That this
is true will be placed beyond question as we proceed.

It may, indeed, be assumed from subsequent events in the history
of these powerful families and the united testimony of all the
genealogists of the Mackenzies, that the chief of Kintail did
befriend Robert the Bruce against his enemies and protected him
in his castle of Ellandonnan, in spite of the commands of his
immediate superior, the Earl of Ross, and the united power of all
the other great families of the Western Isles and Argyle. And in
his independent stand at this important period in the history of
Scotland will be found the true grounds of the local rancour which
afterwards prevailed between Mackenzie and the Island Lord, and
which only terminated in the collapse of the Earls of Ross and
the Lords of the Isles, upon the ruins of which, as a reward for
proved loyalty to the reigning monarch, and as the result of the
characteristic prudence of the race of MacKenneth, the House of
Kintail gradually rose in power, subsequently absorbed the ancient
inheritance of all the original possessors of the district, and
ultimately extended their influence more widely over the whole
provinces of Wester and Central Ross.

The genealogists further say that this chief waited on the King
during his visit to Inverness in 1312. [The MS. histories of the
Mackenzies give the date of Robert Bruce's visit to Inverness as
1307, but from a copy of the "Annual of Norway," at the negotiation
and arrangement of which "the eminent Prince, Lord Robert, by the
like grace, noble King of Scors (attended) personally on the other
part," it will be seen that the date of the visit was 1312. - See
'Invernessiana,' by Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, F,S.A. Scot., pp.
36-40.] This may now be accepted as correct, as also that he
fought at the head of his followers at the battle of Inverury,
where Bruce defeated Mowbray and the Comyn in 1303. After this
important engagement, according to Fenton, "all the nobles, barons,
towns, cities, garrisons, and castles north of the Grampians submitted
to Robert the Bruce," when, with good reason, the second chief of
Clan Kenneth was further confirmed in the favour of his sovereign,
and in the government of Ellandonnan.

The Lord of the Isles had in the meantime, after his capture in
Argyle, died while confined in Dundonald Castle, when his brother
and successor, Angus Og, declared for Bruce. Argyll and Lorn left,
or were driven out of the country, and took up their residence
in England. With Angus Og of the Isles now on the side of Bruce,
and the territories of Argyll and Lorn at his mercy in the absence
of their respective chiefs, it was an easy matter for the King,
during the varied fortunes of his heroic struggle, defending
Scotland from the English, to draw largely upon the resources of
the West Highlands and Isles, flow unmolested, particularly after
the surprise at Perth in the winter of 1312, and the reduction of
all the strongholds in Scotland - except Stirling, Berwick, and
Dunbar - during the ensuing summer. The decisive blow, however, yet
to be struck by which the independence and liberties of Scotland
were to be for ever established and confirmed, and the time was
drawing nigh when every nerve would have to be strained for a final
effort to clear it, once for all, of the bated followers of the
tyrant Edwards, roll them back before an impetuous wave of Scottish
valour, and for ever put an end to England's claim to tyrannise
over a free-born people whom it was found impossible to crush or
cow. Nor, in the words of the Bennetsfield manuscript, "will we
affect a morbid indifference to the fact that on the 24th of June,
1314, Bruce's heroic band of thirty thousand warriors on the
glorious field of Bannockburn contained above ten thousand Western
Highlanders and men of the Isles," under Angus Og of the Isles,
Mackenzie of Kintail (who led five hundred of his vassals), and
other chiefs of the mainland, of whom Major specially says, that
"they made an incredible slaughter of their enemies, slaying heaps
of them around wherever they went, and running upon them with
their broadswords and daggers like wild bears without any regard
to their own lives." Alluding to the same event, Barbour says -

Angus of the Is'es and Bute alsae,
And of the plain lands he had mae
Of armed men a noble route,
His battle stalwart was and stout.

General Stewart of Garth, in a footnote, 'Sketches of the
Highlanders,' says that the eighteen Highland chiefs who fought at
Bannockburn were - Mackay, Mackintosh, Macpherson, Cameron, Sinclair,
Campbell, Menzies, Maclean, Sutherland, Robertson, Grant, Fraser,
Macfarlane, Ross, Macgregor, Munro, Mackenzie, and Macquarrie and
that "Cumming, Macdougall of Lorn, Macnab, and a few others were
unfortunately in opposition to Bruce, and suffered accordingly." In
due time the Western chiefs returned home, where on their arrival,
many of them found local feuds still smouldering - encouraged by the
absence of the natural protectors of the people - amidst the
surrounding blaze. John lived peaceably at home during the remainder
of his days. He married Margaret, daughter of David de Strathbogie,
XIth Earl of Atholl, by Joan, daughter of John, the Red Comyn, last
Earl of Badenoch, killed by Robert the Bruce in 1306. He died in
1328, and was succeeded by his only son,


Commonly called Coinneach na Sroine, or Kenneth of the Nose, from
the size of that organ. Very little is known of this chief. But
he does not appear to have been long in possession when he found
himself serious trouble and unable to cope successfully with the
Earl of Ross, who made determined efforts to re-establish the
original position of his house over the Barons of Kintail. Wyntoun
says that in 1331, Randolph, Earl of Moray, nephew of Robert the
Bruce, and at that time Warden of Scotland, sent his Crowner to
Ellandonnan, with orders to prepare the castle for his reception
and to arrest all "misdoaris" in the district, fifty of whom the
Crowner beheaded, and, according to the barbarous practice of even
much later times, exposed their heads for the edification of the
surrounding lieges high upon the castle walls. Randolph himself
soon after arrived and, says the same chronicler, was "right
blithe" to see the goodly show of heads "that flowered so weel
that wall" - a ghastly warning to all treacherous or plundering
"misdoaris." From what occurred on this occasion it is obvious
that Kenneth either did not attempt or was not able to govern
his people with a firm hand and to keep the district free from
plunderers and lawlessness.

It is undoubted that at this time the Earl of Ross succeeded in
gaining a considerable hold in the district over which he had all
along claimed superiority; for in 1342 William, the fifth and last
O'Beolan Earl, is on record as granting a charter of the whole
ten davochs of Kintail to Reginald, son of Roderick of the Isles.
The charter was granted and dated at the Castle of Urquhart,
witnessed by the bishops of Ross and Moray, and confirmed by David
II. in 1344. ['Invernessiana,' p.56.] From all this it may fairly
be assumed that the line of Mac Kenneth was not far from the
breaking point during the reign of Kenneth of the Nose.

Some followers of the Earl of Ross about this time made a raid
to the district of Kenlochewe and carried away a great herschip.
Mackenzie pursued them, recovered a considerable portion of the
spoil, and killed many of the raiders. The Earl of Ross was greatly
incensed at Kenneth's conduct in this affair, and he determined
to have him apprehended and suitably punished for the murders and
other excesses committed by him.

In this he ultimately succeeded. Mackenzie was captured, chiefly
through the instrumentality of Leod Mac Gilleandrais - a desperate
character, and a vassal and relative of the Earl - and executed
at Inverness in 1346, when the lands of Kenlochewe, previously
possessed by Kintail, were given to Mac Gilleandrais as a reward
for Mackenzie's capture.

On this point the author of the Ardintoul manuscript says, that
the lands of Kenlochewe were held by Kenneth Mackenzie "and his
predecessors by tack, but not as heritage, for they had no real or
heritable right of them until Alexander of Kintail got heritable
possession of them from John, Earl of Ross," at a much later date.
Ellandonnan Castle, however, held out during the whole of this
disturbed and distracted period, and until Kenneth's heir, who
at his father's death was a mere boy, came of age, when he fully
avenged the death of his father, and succeeded to the inheritance
of his ancestors. The garrison meanwhile maintained themselves
on the spoil of the enemy. The brave defenders of the castle were
able to hold their own throughout and afterwards to hand over the
stronghold to their chief when he arrived at a proper age and
returned home.

The Earl of Cromarty, who gives a very similar account of this
period, concludes his notice of Kenneth in these terms - "Murdered
thus, his estate was possessed by the oppressor's followers; but
Island Donain keeped still out, maintaining themselves on the spoyle
of the enemie. All being trod under by insolince and oppression,
right had no place. This was during David Bruce's imprisonment
in England," when chaos and disorder ruled supreme, at least in
the Highlands.

Kenneth married Finguala, or Florence, daughter of Torquil Macleod,
II. of Lewis, by his wife Dorothea, daughter of William, second
O'Beolan Earl of Ross by his wife, Joan, daughter of John the first
Red Comyn, and sister of John the Black Comyn, Lord of Badenoch
and Earl of Buchan, with issue, an only son,

Book of the day: