[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. firstname.lastname@example.org]
The book author writes about himself in the SLIOCHD ALASTAIR CHAIM section.
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 quotes.]
Edited and reformatted by Brett Fishburne email@example.com
HISTORY OF THE MACKENZIES WITH GENEALOGIES OF THE PRINCIPAL FAMILIES OF THE NAME.
NEW, REVISED, AND EXTENDED EDITION.
ALEXANDER MACKENZIE, M.J.I.,
AUTHOR OF "THE HISTORY OF THE MACDONALDS AND LORDS OF THE ISLES;" "THE HISTORY OF THE CAMERONS;" "THE HISTORY OF THE MACLEODS;" "THE HISTORY OF THE MATHESONS;" "THE HISTORY OF THE CHISOLMS;" "THE PROPHECIES OF THE BRAHAN SEER;" "THE HISTORICAL "TALES AND LEGENDS OF THE HIGHLAND CLEARANCES;" "THE SOCIAL STATE OF THE ISLE OF SKYE;" ETC., ETC.
LUCEO NON URO
INVERNESS: A. & W. MACKENZIE. MDCCCXCIV.
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. PARK HOUSE, INVERNESS, March 1894
THE HISTORY OF THE MACKENZIES.
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.
THE REPUTED FITZGERALD DESCENT.
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 ever.
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 shoulders.
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 race.
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 collection.
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 imagination.
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.'
THE REAL CELTIC ORIGIN.
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 Isles.
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 Celt.
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.
THE O'BEOLAN EARLS OF ROSS.
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 with
I. FERQUHARD, OR FARQUHAR O'BEOLAN, "Mac an t'Sagairt," 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,
VI. EUPHEMIA O'BEOLAN, COUNTESS OF ROSS in her own right. 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 mother.
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,
VII. SIR ALEXANDER LESLIE, EARL OF ROSS, who married Isabella, 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:—
GILLEOIN OF THE AIRD. + CLAN ANRIAS. MACKENZIES. + 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 Ross.
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,
I. KENNETH, OR COINNEACH,
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.