At this moment Kenneth noticed his standard-bearer close by, without his colours, and fighting desperately to his own hand. He turned round to him, and angrily asked what had become of his colours, when he was coolly answered - "I left Macdonald's standard-bearer, quite unashamed of himself, and without the slightest concern for those of his own chief, carefully guarding mine." Kenneth naturally demanded an explanation of such an extraordinary state of matters, when the man informed him that he had met Macdonald's standard-bearer in the conflict, and had been fortunate enough to slay him; that he had thrust the staff of his own standard through his opponent's body and as there appeared to be some good work to do among the enemy, he had left some of his companions to guard the standard, and devoted himself to do what little he could to aid his master, and protect him from his adversaries. Maclean of Lochbuy (Lachlainn MacThearlaich) was killed by "Duncan mor na Tuaighe," Mackenzie's "great scallag," of whom we have the following curious account:
Shortly before the battle, a raw, ungainly, but powerful looking youth from Kintail was seen staring about, as the Mackenzies were starting to meet the enemy, in an apparently idiotic manner, as if looking for something. He ultimately came across an old rusty battle-axe, of great size, and, setting off after the others, he arrived at the scene of strife just as the combatants were closing with each other. Duncan Macrae (for such was his name), from his stupid and ungainly appearance, was taken little notice of, and was wandering about in an aimless, vacant, half-idiotic manner. Hector Roy, Alexander's third son, and progenitor of the Gairloch Mackenzies, observing him, asked why he was not taking part in the fight, and supporting his chief and clan. Duncan replied - "Mar a faigh mi miabh duine, cha dean mi gniomh duine." (Unless I get a man's esteem, I shall not perform a man's work.) This was in reference to his not having been provided with a proper weapon. Hector answered him - "Deansa gniomh duine 's gheibh thu miabh duine." (Perform a man's work and you will get a man's esteem.) Duncan at once rushed into the strife, exclaiming - "Buille mhor bho chul mo laimhe, 's ceum leatha, am fear nach teich rombam, teicheam roimhe." (A heavy stroke from the back of my hand [arm] and a step to [enforce] it. He who does not get out of my way, let me get out of his.) Duncan soon killed a man, and, drawing the body aside, he coolly sat upon it. Hector Roy, noticing this peculiar proceeding as be was passing by in the heat of the contest, accosted Duncan, and asked him why he was not still engaged with his comrades. Duncan answered - "Mar a faigh mi ach miabh aon duine cha dean mi ach gniomh aon duine." (If I only get one man's due I shall only do one man's work). Hector told him to perform two men's work, and be would get two men's reward. Duncan returned again to the field of carnage, killed another, pulled his body away, placed it on the top of the first, and sat upon the two. The same question was again asked, and the answer given: "I have killed two men, and earned two men's wages." Hector answered - "Do your best, and we shall not be reckoning with you." Duncan instantly replied - "Am fear nach biodh ag cunntadh rium cha bhithinn ag cunntadh ris" - (He that would not reckon with me, I would not reckon with him) - and rushed into the thickest of the battle, where he mowed down the enemy with his rusty battle-axe like grass; so much so that Lachlan Maclean of Lochbuy (Lachlainn MacThearlaich), a most redoubtable warrior, placed himself in Duncan's way to check him in his murderous career. The two met in mortal strife, but, Maclean being a very powerful man, clad in mail, and well versed in arms, Duncan could make no impression upon him but, being lighter and more active than his heavily mailed opponent, he managed to defend himself, watching his opportunity, and retreating backwards until he arrived at a ditch, where his opponent, thinking he had him fixed, made a desperate stroke at him, which Duncan parried, at the same time jumping backwards across the ditch. Maclean, to catch his enemy, made a furious lunge with his weapon, but, instead of entering Duncan's body, it got fixed in the opposite bank of the ditch. In withdrawing it, he bent his head forward, when the helmet, rising, exposed the back of his neck, upon which Duncan's battle-axe descended with the velocity of lightning, and with such terrific force as to sever Maclean's head from his body. This, it is said, was the turning-point of the struggle, for the Macdonalds, seeing the brave leader of their van falling, at once retreated, and gave up all for lost. The hero was ever afterwards known as "Donnchadh Mor na Tuaighe," or Big Duncan of the Axe, and many a story is told in Kintail and Gairloch of the many other prodigies of valour which he performed in the after contests of the Mackenzies and the Macraes against their common enemies. "Such of Macdonald's men as escaped the battle fled together, and as they were going homeward began to spulzie Strathconan, which Mackenzie hearing, followed them with a party, overtakes them at Invercorran, kills shoals of them and the rest fled divers ways."
That night, as Mackenzie sat at supper, he missed Duncan Mor, and said to the company - "I am more vexed for the want of my scallag mar (big servant) this night than any satisfaction I had of this day." One of those present said, "I thought, (as the people fled) I perceived him following four or five men that ran up the burn." He had not well spoken the word when Duncan Mor came in with four heads "bound on a woody" and threw them before his master, saying - "Tell me now if I have not deserved my supper," to which, it is said of him, he fell with great gusto.
This reminds me, continues the chronicler, "of a cheat he once played on an Irishman, being a traveller, withal a strong, lusty fellow, well-proportioned, but of an extraordinary stomach. He resorted into gentlemen's houses, and (was) very oft in Mackenzie's. Having come on a time to the same Mackenzie's house in Islandonain two or three years after this battle (of Park), he was cared for as usual, and when the laird went to dinner, he was set aside, at a side-table to himself, and a double proportion allowed him, which this Duncan Mor envying, went on a day and sat side for side with him, drew his skyn or short dagger and eats with him. 'How now,' says the Irishman, 'how comes it that you fall in eating in any manner of way.' 'I cannot tell,' says Duncan, 'but I do think I have as good will to eat as you can have.' 'Well,' says the other, 'we shall try that when we have done.' So when the laird had done of his dinner, the Irishman went where he was and said, 'Noble sir, I have travelled now almost among all the clans in Scotland, and was resorting their houses, as I have been several times here, where I cannot say but I was sufficiently cared for, but I never met with such an affront as I have this day.' The laird asked what he meant. So he tells him what injury Duncan had done him in eating a share of his proportion. 'Well,' says the laird, 'I hope M'ille Chruimb,' for so the Irishman was called, 'you will take no notice of him that did that; for he is but a fool that plays the fool now and then.' 'I cannot tell,' says he, 'but he is no idiot at eating, nor will I let my affront pass so; for I must have a turn or two of wrestling with him for it in your presence.' Whereupon a stander-by asks Duncan if he would wrestle with him. 'I will,' says he, 'for I think I was fit sides with him in eating and might be so with this.' They yocks, and Duncan threw him thrice on his back. The Irishman was so angry he wist not what to say. He invites him to put the stone, and at the second cast he worried him four feet, but could never reach him. Then he was like to burst himself. Finding this, he invites him to lop so that he outlopped him as far a length. The Irishman then said, 'I have travelled as far as any of my equals, both in Scotland, England, and Ireland, and tried many hands, but I never met with my equal till this day, but comrade,' say's he 'let us now go and swim a little in the laird's presence.' 'With all my heart,' say's Duncan, 'for I never sought better' (with this Duncan could swim not at all), but down to the shore they go to the next rock, and being full sea, was at least three fathoms deep, but before the Irishman had off half of his clothes Duncan was stark naked, lops over the rocks and ducks to the bottom and up again. Looking about him he calls to a boy that stood by, and said, 'Lad, go where the Lady is, and bid her send me a butter and four cheese.' The Irishman, hearing this, asks 'what purpose.' 'To what purpose,' says he, 'yons the least we will need this night and to-morrow wherever we be,' 'Do you intend a journey,' say's the Irishman. 'Aye, that I do,' answered the other, 'and am in hopes to cross the Kyle ere night.' Now, this Kyle was 20 leagues off with a very ill stream, as the Irishman very well knew, so that he said, with a very great oath, lie would not go with him that length, but if he liked to sport the laird with several sorts of swimming, he would give a trial. 'Sport here, sport there, wherever I go you must go.' With this the cheese and butter come, and Duncan desires the Irishman to make ready, but all his persuasions (not against his will) would not prevail with Mac a Chruimb, whereupon all the company gave over with laughter, knowing the other could swim none at all, but the fellow thought they jeered him. The laird made Duncan forbear him; but Duncan swore a great oath he would make him swim or he left the town, otherwise he would want of his will. So it came to pass for the Irishman got away that same night, was seen on the morrow in Lochalsh, but none (was) found that ferried him over. But never after resorted Mackenzie's house." [Ancient MS. of the Mackenzies.]
What remained of the Macdonalds after the battle of Park were completely routed and put to flight, but most of them were killed, "quarter being no ordinar complement in thos dayes."
The night before the battle young Brodie of Brodie, accompanied by his accustomed retinue, was on a visit at Kinellan, and as be was preparing to leave the next morning be noticed Mackenzie's men in arms, whereupon he asked if the enemy were known to be so near that for a certainty they would fight before night. Being informed that they were close at hand, he determined to wait and take part in the battle, replying to Kenneth's persuasions to the contrary, "that be was an ill fellow and worse neighbour that would leave his friend at such a time," He took a distinguished part in the fight and behaved "to the advantage of his friend and notable loss of his enemy," and the Earl of Cromarty informs us that immediately after the battle be went on his journey. But his conduct produced a friendship between the Mackenzies and the family of Brodie, which continued among their posterity, "and even yet remains betwixt them, being more sacredly observed than the ties of affinity and consanguinity amongst most others," and a bond of manrent was entered into between the families. Some authorities assert that young Brodie was slain, but of this no early writer makes any mention and neither in Sir Robert Gordon's 'Earldom of Sutherland,' in the 'Earl of Cromartie' or other MS. 'Histories of the Mackenzies,' nor in Brown's 'History of the Highland Clans,' is there any mention made of his having been killed, though they all refer to the distinguished part be took in the battle. He was, however, seriously wounded.
The morning after the battle Kenneth, fearing that the few of the Macdonalds who escaped might rally among the hills and commit cruelties and robberies on those of his people whom they might come across, marched to Strathconan, where he found, as he had expected, that about three hundred of the enemy had rallied, and were destroying everything they had passed over in their eastward march before the battle. As soon, however, as they noticed him in pursuit they took to their heels, but they were overtaken and all killed or made prisoners.
Kenneth then returned to Kinellan, carrying with him Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh, whom he had taken prisoner, in triumph. His aged father, Alastair Ionraic, had now returned from the Raven's Rock, and warmly congratulated his valiant son upon his splendid victory; adding, however, with significant emphasis, that he feared they made two days work of one," since, by sparing Macdonald, who was also a prisoner, and his apparent heir, they preserved the lives of those who might yet give them trouble. But Kenneth, though a lion in the field, could not, from any such prudential consideration, be induced to commit such a cowardly and inhuman act as was here inferred. He, however, had no great faith in the forbearance of his followers if an opportunity occurred to them, and he accordingly sent Macdonald, under a strong guard, to Lord Lovat, to be kept by him in safety until he should advise him how to dispose of him. He kept Alexander of Lochalsh with himself, but, contrary to the expectations of their friends, he, on the intercession of old Macdonald, released them both within six months, having first bound them by oath and honour never to molest him or his, and never again to claim any right to the Earldom of Ross, which the Lord of the Isles had in 1475 forfeited to the Crown.
Many of the Macdonalds and their followers who escaped from the field of battle perished in the River Conon. Flying from the close pursuit of the victorious Mackenzies, they took the river, which in some parts was very deep, wherever they came up to it, and were drowned. Rushing to cross at Moy, they met an old woman - still smarting under the insults and spoliations inflicted on her and her neighbours by the Macdonalds on their way north - and asked her where was the best ford on the river. "O! ghaolaich," she answered, "is aon ath an abhuinn; ged tha i dubh, cha 'n eil i domhain," (Oh! dear, the river is all one ford together; though it looks black, it is not deep). In their pitiful plight, and on the strength of this misleading information, they rushed into the water in hundreds, and were immediately carried away by the stream, many of them clutching at the shrubs and bushes which overhung the banks of the river, and crying loudly for assistance. This amazon and a number of her sex who were near at hand had meanwhile procured their sickles, and now exerted themselves in cutting away the bushes to which the wretched Macdonalds clung with a death grasp, the old woman exclaiming in each case, as she applied her sickle, "As you have taken so much already which did not belong to you, my friend, you can take that into the bargain. The instrument of the old woman's revenge has been for many generations, and still is by very old people in the district, called "Cailleach na Maigb," or the Old Wife of Moy.
The Mackenzies then proceeded to ravage the lands of Ardmeanach and those belonging to William Munro of Fowlis - the former because the young laird of Kilravock, whose father was governor of that district, had assisted the Macdonalds; the latter probably because Munro, who joined neither party, was suspected secretly of favouring Lochalsh. So many excesses were committed at this time by the Mackenzies that the Earl of Huntly, Lieutenant of the North, was compelled, notwithstanding their services in repelling the invasion of the Macdonalds, to proceed against them as oppressors of the lieges. [Gregory, p.57. Kilravock Writs, p.170, and Acts of Council.]
A blacksmith, known as Glaishean Gow or "Gobha," one of Lovat's people, in whose father's house Agnes Fraser, Mackenzie's wife, was fostered, hearing of the advance of the Macdonalds to the Mackenzie territory, started with a few followers in the direction of Conan, but arrived too late to take part in the fight. They were, however, in time to meet those few who managed to ford or swim the river, and killed every one of them so that they found an opportunity "to do more service than if they had been at the battle."
This insurrection cost the Macdonalds the Lordship of the Isles, as others had previously cost them the Earldom of Ross. In a Parliament held in Edinburgh in 1493, the possessions of the Lord of the Isles were declared forfeited to the Crown. In the following January the aged Earl appeared before King James IV., and made a voluntary surrender of everything, after which he remained for several years in the King's household as a Court pensioner. By Act of the Lords of Council in 1492 Alexander Urquhart, Sheriff of Cromarty, had obtained restitution for himself and his tenants for the depredations committed by Macdonald and his followers. According to the Kilravock Papers, p.162, the spoil amounted to 600 cows and oxen, each worth 13s 4d, 80 horses, each worth 26s 8d; 1000 sheep, each worth 2s; 200 swine, each worth 3s; with plenishing to the value of L300 and also 500 bolls of victual and L300 of the mails of the Sheriff's lands.
The Earl of Cromarty says of Kenneth, "that he raised great fears in his neighbours by his temper and power, by which he had overturned so great ane interest as that of Macdonald, yet it appearit that he did not proceid to such attemptts but on just resentments and rationall grounds, for dureing his lyfe he not only protected the country by his power, but he caryed so that non was esteemed a better neighbour to his friends nor a juster maister to his dependers. In that one thing of his caryadge to his first wife he is justly reprowable; in all things else he merits justly to be numbered amongst the best of our Scots patriots." The same writer continues - "The fight at Blairnapark put Mackenzie in great respect through all the North. The Earl of Huntly, George, who was the second Earle, did contract a friendship with him, and when he was imployed by King James 3d to assist him against the conspirators in the South, Kenneth came with 500 men to him in summer 1488; but erre they came the lengthe of Perth, Mackenzie had nottice of his father Alexander's death, whereupon Huntly caused him retire to ordor his affaires, least his old enemies might tack advantage of such a change, and Huntly judgeing that they were rather too numberous than weak for the conspirators, by which occasion he (Kenneth) was absent from that vnfortunat battle wher King James 3d wes kild, yet evir after this, Earl George, and his son Alexander, the 3d Earl of Huntly, keipt a great kyndness to Kenneth and his successors. From the yeir 1489 the kingdom vnder King James 4d wes at great peace, and thereby Mackenzie toock opportunity to setle his privat affaires, which for many yeirs befor, yea severall ages, had bein almost still disturbed by the Earls of Ross and Lords of the Illes, and so he lived in peace and good correspondences with his neighbours till the yeir 1491, for in the moneth of February that yeir he died and wes buried at Bewlie. All his predecessors wer buried at Icolmkill (except his father), as wer most of the considerable chieffs in the Highlands. But this Kenneth, after his marriage, keipt frequent devotiones with the Convent of Bewlie, and at his owin desyre wes buried ther, in the ille on the north syd of the alter, which wes built by himselfe in his lyftyme or he died; after that he done pennance for his irregular marieing or Lovit's daughter. He procured recommendationes from Thomas Hay (his lady's uncle), Bishop of Ross, to Pope Alexander the 6, from whom he procured a legittmatione of all the cheildrein of the mariadge, daited apud St Petri, papatus nostri primo, anno Cristiano 1491."
Bishop Hay strongly impressed upon Mackenzie the propriety of getting his marriage with Agnes of Lovat legitimized, and to send for a commission to the Pope for that purpose. Donald Dubh MacChreggir, priest of Kirkhill, was despatched to Rome with that object, and, according to several of the family manuscripts, procured the legitimation of the marriage. "This priest was a native of Kintail, descended from a clan there called Clan Chreggir, who, being a hopefull boy in his younger days, was educat in Mackenzie's house, and afterwards at Beullie be the forementioned Dugall Mackenzie, pryor yrof. In end he was made priest of Kirkhill. His successors to this day are called Frasers. Of this priest is descended Mr William Fraser and Mr Donald Fraser." [Ancient MS.] Another writer describes the messengers sent to Rome as Mr Andrew Fraser, priest of Kintail, a learned and eloquent man, who took in his company Dugal Mackenzie, natural son to Alexander Inrig, who was a scholar. The Pope entertained them kindly and very readily granted them what they desired and were both made knights to the boot of Pope Clement the VIII., but when my knights came home, they neglected the decree of Pope Innocent III. against the marriage and consentrinate of all the clergy or otherwise they got a dispensation from the then Pope Clement VIII., for both of them married - Sir Dugall was made priest of Kintail and married nien (daughter) Dunchy Chaim in Glenmorriston. Sir Andrew likewise married, whose son was called Donald Du Mac Intagard, and was priest of Kirkhill and Chaunter of Ross. His tack of the vicarage of Kilmorack to John Chisholm of Comar stands to this day. The present Mr William Fraser, minister of Kilmorack, is the fifth minister in lineal and uninterrupted succession." [Ardintoul MS.]
Anderson, in his 'Account of the Family of Fraser,' also says that "application was made to the Pope to sanction the second marriage, which he did, anno 1491." Sir James D. Mackenzie of Findon (note, p. 19) however says that he made a close search in the Vatican and the Roman libraries but was unable to find trace of any document of legitmation.
Of Roderick, Sir Kenneth's fourth son, who was an exceedingly powerful man, the following interesting story is told: - He was a man of great strength and stature, and in a quarrell which took place between him and Dingwall of Kildun, he killed the latter, and "that night abode with his wife." Complaint was made to King James the Fifth, who commanded the Baron of Kintail to give Rory up to justice. His brother, knowing he could not do so openly and by force without trouble and considerable danger, went to Kintail professedly to settle his affairs there, and when he was about returning home he requested Rory to meet him at Glassletter, that he might privately consult and discourse with him as to his present state. Rory duly met him on the appointed day with fifty men of his "coalds," the Macleays, besides ordinary servants and some Kintail men. While the two brothers went to discourse, they passed between the Kintail men and the Macleays, who sat at a good distance from one another. When Mackenzie came near the Kintail men, he clapped Rory on the shoulder, which was the sign between them, and Rory was immediately seized. Gillecriost MacFhionnla instantly ran to the Macleays, who had taken to their arms to relieve their Coald Rory Mor, and desired them in a friendly manner to compose themselves, and not be rash, since Rory was seized not by his enemies, but was in the hands of his own brother, and of those who had as great a kindness for him, and interest in him as they had themselves; and further he desired them to consider what would be the consequences, for if the least drop of blood was shed, Rory would be immediately put to death, and so all their pains would be lost. He thus prevailed upon them to keep quiet. In the meantime Rory struggled with the Kintail men, and would not be taken or go along with them, until John Mor, afterwards agnamed Ian Mor nan Cas, brother to Gillecriost MacFhionnla, took Rory by the feet and cast him down. They then bound him and carried him on their shoulders, until he consented to go along with them willingly, and without further objection. They took him to Ellandonnan, whence shortly after he was sent south to the King, where he had to take his trial. He, however, denied the whole affair, and in the absence of positive proof, the judges declined to convict him; but the King, quite persuaded of his guilt, ordered him to be sent a prisoner to the Bass Rock, with strict injunctions to have him kept in chains. This order was obeyed, and Rory's hands and legs were much pained and cut with the irons. The governor had unpleasant feuds with one of his neighbours, which occasioned several encounters and skirmishes between their servants, who came in repeatedly with wounds and bruises. Rory, noticing this to occur frequently, said to one of them, "Would to God that the laird would take me with him, and I should then be worth my meat to him and serve for better use than I do with these chains." This was communicated to the governor, who sent for Rory and asked him if he would fight well for him. "If I do not that," said he, "let me hang in these chains." He then took his solemn oath that he would not run away, and the governor ordered the servants to set about curing Rory's wounds with ointments. He soon found himself in good condition to fight, and an opportunity was not long delayed. The governor met his adversary accompanied by his prisoner, who fought to admiration, exhibiting great courage and enormous strength. He soon routed the enemy, and the governor became so enamoured of him that he was never after out of his company whenever he could secretly have him unknown to the Court. About this time an Italian came to Edinburgh, who challenged the whole nation to a wrestling match for a large sum of money. One or two grappled with him, but he disposed of them so easily that no one else could be found to engage him. The King was much annoyed at this, and expressed himself strongly in favour of any one who would defeat the Italian, promising to give him a suitable reward. The governor of the Rock having heard of this, thought it an excellent opportunity for his prisoner to secure his freedom, and at the same time redeem the credit of the nation, and he informed the King that a prisoner committed to the Bass by his Majesty if released of his irons would, in his opinion, match the Italian. The King immediately answered, "His liberty, with reward, shall he have if he do so." The governor, so as not to expose his own intimate relations with and treatment of the prisoner, warily asked that time should be allowed to cure him of his wounds, lest his own crime and Rory's previous liberty should become known. When sufficient time had elapsed for this purpose a day was appointed, and the governor brought Rory to Holyrood House to meet the King, who enquired if he "would undertake to cast the Italian for his liberty?" "Yes, sir," answered Rory "it will be a hard task that I will not undertake for that; but, sir, it may be, it will not be so easy to perform as to undertake, yet I shall give him a fair trial." "Well" said the King, "how many days will you have to fit yourself?" "Not an hour" replied Rory. His Majesty was so pleased with his resolution that he immediately sent to the Italian to ask if he would accept the challenge at once. He who had won so many victories so easily already did not hesitate to grapple with Rory, having no fear as to the result. Five lists were prepared. The Italian was first on the ground, and seeing Rory approaching him, dressed in his rude habit, without any of the usual dress and accoutrements, laughed loudly. But no sooner was he in the Highlander's grasp than the Italian was on his knee. The King cried with joy; the Italian alleged foul play, and made other and frivolous excuses, but His Majesty was so glad of the apparent advantage in his favour that he was unwilling to expose Rory to a second hazard. This did not suit the Highlander at all, and he called out, "No, no, sir; let me try him again, for now I think I know his strength." His Majesty hearing this, consented, and in the second encounter Rory laid firm hold of the foreigner, pulled him towards him with all his might, breaking his back, and disjointing the back-bone. The poor fellow fell to the ground groaning with pain, and died two day's after. The King, delighted with Rory's prowess, requested him to remain at Court, but this he refused, excusing himself on the ground that his long imprisonment quite unfitted him for Court life, but if it pleased his Majesty he would send him his son, who was better fitted to serve him. He was provided with money and suitable clothing by Royal command. The King requested him to hasten his son to Court, which he accordingly did. This son was named Murdoch, and His Majesty became so fond of him that he always retained him about his person, and granted him, as an earnest of greater things to follow, the lands of Fairburn, Moy, and others adjoining, also the Ferry of Scuideal; but Murdoch being unfortunately absent from the Court when the King died, he missed much more which his Majesty had designed for him. [Ardintoul and Cromartie MS. Histories of the Mackenzies.]
The following, told of Roderick and Kenneth, the fifth son, is also worth a place: - Kenneth was Chaunter of Ross, and perpetual Curate of Coinbents, which vicarage he afterwards resigned into the hands of Pope Paulus in favour of the Priory of Beauly. Though a priest and in holy orders he would not abstain from marriage, for which cause the Bishop decided to have him deposed. On the appointed day for his trial he had his brother Rory at Chanonry, when the trial was to take place, with a number of his followers. Kenneth presented himself before the Bishop in his long gown, but under it he had a two-edged sword, and drawing near his Lordship, who sat in his presiding chair, whispered in his ear, "It is best that you should let me alone, for my brother Rory is in the churchyard with many ill men, and if you take off my orders he will take off your head, and I myself will not be your best friend." He then coolly exposed his penknife, as he called his great sword, "which sight, with Rory's proximity, and being a person whose character was well enough known by his Lordship, he was so terrified that he incontinently absolved and vindicated the good Chaunter," who ever after enjoyed his office (and his wife) unchallenged.
Sir Kenneth of Kintail, who was knighted by James IV. "for being highly instrumental in reducing his fierce countrymen to the blessings of a civilized life," was twice married; first, to Lady Margaret, daughter of John, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross, with issue -
I. Kenneth Og, his heir and successor.
He married secondly, Agnes or Anne Fraser, daughter of Hugh, third Lord Lovat, with issue -
II. John, who succeeded his brother Kenneth Og.
III. Alexander, first of the family of Davochmaluag.
IV. Roderick, progenitor of the families of Achilty, Fairburn, Ardross, etc.
V. Kenneth, better know as "the Priest of Avoch," from whom the families of Suddie, Ord, Corryvulzie, Highfield, Inverlaul, Little Findon, and others of lesser note.
VI. Agnes, who married Roderick Macleod, VII. of Lewis, with issue.
VII. Catherine, who married Hector Munro of Fowlis, with issue.
There has been a considerable difference of opinion among the family genealogists as to the date of Sir Kenneth's death, but it is now placed beyond doubt that he died in 1491, having only ruled as actual chief of the clan for the short space of three years. This is clearly proved from his tomb in the Priory of Beauly, where there is a full length recumbent effigy of him, in full armour, with arms folded across his chest as if in prayer, and on the arch over it is the following inscription "Hic Jacet, Kanyans, m. kynch d'us de Kyntayl, q. obiit vii. die Februarii, a. di. m.cccc.lxxxxi." Sir William Fraser, in his history of the Earls of Cromartie, gives, in his genealogy of the Mackenzies of Kintail, the date of his death as "circa 1506," and ignores his successor Kenneth Og altogether. This is incomprehensible to readers of the work; for in the book itself, in various places, it is indubitably established that Sir William's genealogy is incorrect in this, as in other important particulars." [Sir William Fraser appears to have adopted Douglas in his genealogies, who, as already shown, in many instances, cannot be depended upon.]
The following, from the published "Acts of the Lords of Council," p. 327, under date 17th June, 1494, places the question absolutely beyond dispute. "The King's Highness and Lords of Council decree and deliver that David Ross of Balnagown shall restore and deliver again to Annas Fresale, the spouse of THE LATE Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, seven score of cows, price of the piece (each), 20s; 30 horses, price of the piece, 2 merks; 200 sheep and goats, price of the piece, 2s; and 14 cows, price of the piece, 20s; spuilzied and taken by the said David and his complices from the said Annas out of the lands of Kynlyn (? Killin or Kinellan), as was sufficiently proved before the Lords; and ordain that letters be written to distrain the said David, his lands and goods therefor, and he was present at his action by this procurators." It is needless to point out that the man who, by this undoubted authority, was THE LATE Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, in 1494 could not have died about or "circa 1506," as Sir William Fraser asserts in his Earls of Cromartie. Kenneth died in 1491, and was succeeded by his only son by his first wife, Margaret of Isla,
VIII. KENNETH OG MACKENZIE,
Or KENNETH THE YOUNGER, who was also known as Sir Kenneth. He was fostered in Taagan, Kenlochewe. [Ancient MS.] When, in 1488, King James the IV. succeeded to the throne, he determined to attach to his interest the principal chiefs in the Highlands. "To overawe and subdue the petty princes who affected independence, to carry into their territories, hitherto too exclusively governed by their own capricious or tyrannical institutions, the same system of a severe but regular and rapid administration of civil and criminal justice which had been established in his Lowland dominions was the laudable object of the King; and for this purpose he succeeded, with that energy and activity which remarkably distinguished him, in opening up an intercourse with many of the leading men in the northern counties. With the Captain of the Clan Chattan, Duncan Mackintosh with Ewen, the son of Alan, Captain of the Clan Cameron with Campbell of Glenurghay; the Macgilleouns of Duart and Lochbuy; Mackane of Ardnamurchan the Lairds of Mackenzie and Grant; and the Earl of Huntly, a baron of the most extensive power in these northern districts, he appears to have been in habits of constant and regular communication - rewarding them by presents, in the shape either of money or of grants or land, and securing their services in reducing to obedience such of their fellow chieftains as proved contumacious, or actually rose in rebellion." [Tytler, vol. iv., pp. 367-368.]
To carry out this plan he determined to take pledges for their good behaviour from some of the most powerful clans, and, at the same time, educate the younger lairds into a more civilized manner of governing their people. Amongst others he took a special interest in Kenneth Og, and Farquhar Mackintosh, the young lairds of Mackenzie and Mackintosh, who were cousins, their mothers being sisters, daughters of John, last Lord of the Isles. They were both powerful, the leaders of great clans, and young men of great spirit and reckless habits. They were accordingly apprehended in 1495 ["The King having made a progress to the North, was advised to secure these two gentlemen as hostages for securing the peace of the Highlands, and accordingly they were apprehended at Inverness and sent prisoners to Edinburgh in the year 1495, where they remained two years." - Dr George Mackenzie's MS. History,] and sent to Edinburgh, where they were kept in custody in the Castle, until a favourable opportunity occurring in 1497, they escaped over the ramparts by the aid of ropes secretly conveyed to them by some of their friends. This was the more easily managed, as they had liberty granted them to roam over the whole bounds of the Castle within the outer walls; and the young chieftains, getting tired of restraint, and ashamed to be idle while they considered themselves fit actors for the stage of their Highland domains, resolved to attempt an escape by dropping over the walls, when Kenneth injured his leg, so as to incapacitate him from rapid progress; but Mackintosh manfully resolved to risk capture himself rather than leave his fellow-fugitive behind him in such circumstances. The result of this accident, however, was that after three days journey they were only able to reach the Torwood, where, suspecting no danger, they put up for the night in a private house.
The Laird of Buchanan, who was at the time an outlaw for a murder he had committed, happened to be in the neighbourhood, and meeting the Highlanders, entertained them with a show of kindness; by which means he induced them to divulge their names and quality. A proclamation had recently been issued promising remission to any outlaw who would bring in another similarly circumstanced, and Buchanan resolved to procure his own freedom at the expense of his fellow-fugitives; for he knew well that such they were, previously knowing of them as his Majesty's pledges from their respective clans. In the most deceitful manner, he watched until they had retired to rest, when he surrounded the house with a band of his followers, and charged them to surrender. This they declined; and Mackenzie, being of a violent temper and possessed of more courage than prudence, rushed out with a drawn sword "refusing delivery and endeavouring to escape," whereupon he was shot with an arrow by one of Buchanan's men. His head was severed from his body, and forwarded to the King in Edinburgh; while young Mackintosh, who made no further resistance, was secured and sent a prisoner to the King. Buchanan's outlawry was remitted, and Mackintosh was confined in Dunbar, where he remained until after the death of James the Fourth at the battle of Flodden Field. [Gregory, p.93; and MS. History by the Earl of Cromartie.] Buchanan's base conduct was universally execrated, while the fate of young Mackenzie was lamented throughout the whole Highlands, having been accused of no other crime than the natural forwardness of youth, and having escaped from his confinement in Edinburgh Castle.
It is admitted on all hands that Kenneth Og was killed, as above, in 1497, and he must, therefore - his father having died in 1491 - have ruled as one of the Barons of Kintail, though there is no record of his having been formally served heir. He was not married, but left two bastard sons - one, known as Rory Beag, by the daughter of the Baron of Moniack; and the other by the daughter of a gentleman in Cromar, of whom are descended the Sliochd Thomais in Cromar and Glenshiel, Braemar, the principal families of which were those of Dalmore and Renoway. ["In his going to Inverness, as I have said, to meet the King, he was the night before his coming there in the Baron of Muniag's house, whose daughter he got with child, who was called Rory Begg. Of this Rory descended the parson of Slate; and on the same journey going along with the King to Edinburgh he got a son with a gentleman's daughter, and called him Thomas Mackenzy, of whom descended the Mackenzies - in Braemar called Slyghk Homash Vic Choinnich. That is to say Thomas Mackenzie's Succession. If he had lived he would be heir to Mackenzie and Macdonald (Earl of Ross)." - Ancient MS.] He was succeeded by his eldest brother by his father's second marriage with Agnes or Anne, daughter of Hugh, third Lord Lovat,
IX. JOHN MACKENZIE OF KILLIN,
Known by that designation from his having generally resided at that place. He was, as we have seen, the first son of Kenneth, seventh Baron of Kintail, by his second wife Agnes, or Anne of Lovat, and his father being never regularly married, the great body of the clan did not consider John his legitimate heir. Hector Roy Mackenzie, his uncle, progenitor of the House of Gairloch, a man of great prudence and courage, was by Kenneth a Bhlair appointed tutor to his eldest son Kenneth Og, then under age, though Duncan, an elder brother by Alexander's first wife, had, according to custom, a prior claim to that honourable and important trust. Duncan is, however, described as one who was "of better hands than head" - more brave than prudent. Hector took charge, and on the death of Kenneth Og found himself in possession of valuable and extensive estates. He had already secured great popularity among the clan, which in the past he had often led to victory against the common enemy. He objected to John's succession on the ground that he was the illegitimate son of Lovat's daughter, with whom his father, Kenneth, at first did "so irregularly and unlawfully cohabit," and John's youth encouraging him, it is said, [MS. History by the Earl of Cromartie.] Hector proposed an arrangement to Duncan, whom he considered the only legitimate obstacle to his own succession, by which he would transfer his rights as elder brother in Hector's favour, in return for which he should receive a considerable portion of the estates for himself and his successors. Duncan declined to enter into the proposed agreement, principally on the ground that the Pope, in 1491, the year in which John's father died, had legitimised Kenneth a Bhlair's marriage with Agnes of Lovat, and thereby restored the children of that union to the rights of succession. Finding Duncan unfavourable to his project, Hector declared John illegitimate, and held possession of the estates for himself; and the whole clan, with whom he was a great favourite, submitted to his rule. [Though we have given this account on the authority of the MS. histories of the family, it is now generally believed that Duncan was dead at this period, and that his son Allan, who would have succeeded, failing John of Killin's legitimacy, was a minor when his father died.]
It can hardly be supposed that Lord Lovat would be a disinterested spectator of these proceedings, and in the interest of his sister's children he procured a precept of clare constat from James Stewart, Duke of Ross, [After the forfeiture of the ancient Earls of Ross, the district furnished new titles under the old names, to members of the Royal family. James Stewart, second son of King James the Third, was created in 1487 Duke of Ross, Marquis of Ormond, Earl of Ardmanach, and Lord of Brechin and Navar. The Duke did not long hold the territorial Dukedom of Ross. On the 13th of May 1503, having obtained the rich Abbey of Dunfermline, he resigned the Dukedom of Ross into the hands of the King. The Duke reserved for his life the hill of Dingwall beside that town for the style of Duke, the hill of Ormond (above Avoch) for the style of Marquis, the Redcastle of Ardmanach for the style of Earl, and the Castle of Brechin, with the gardens, &c., for the name of Brechin and Navar. The Duke of Ross died in 1504. It was said of him by Ariosto, as translated by Hoole - "The title of the Duke of Ross he bears, No chief like him in dauntless mind compares." The next creation of the title of the Duke of Ross was in favour of Alexander Stewart, the posthumous son of King James the Fourth. The Duke was born on the 30th April 1514, and died on the 18th December 1515. In the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, John, Earl of Sutherland, acquired from Mary, the Queen Dowager, a certain right in the Earldom of Ross, which might ultimately have joined in one family both Sutherland and Ross. Lord Darnley, on the prospect of his marriage with Queen Mary, was created Earl of Ross, a title by which he is little known, as it was only given to him a short time before he obtained the higher titles of Duke of Albany and King of Scotland. - Fraser's Earls of Cromartie.] and Archbishop of St Andrews, in favour of his grandson, John, as heir to the estates. The document is "daited the last of Apryle 1500 and seasin thereon 16 Mey 1500 be Sir John Barchaw and William Monro of Foulls, as Baillie to the Duk." [MS. History by the Earl of Cromartie.] This precept included the Barony of Kintail, as well as the lands held by Mackenzie off the earldom of Ross, for, the charter chest being in the possession of Hector Roy, Lovat was not aware that Kintail was held direct from the Crown; but notwithstanding all these precautions and legal instruments, Hector kept possession and treated the entire estates as his own.
Sir William Munro of Fowlis, the Duke's Lieutenant for the forfeited earldom of Ross, was dissatisfied with Hector's conduct, and resolved to punish him. Munro was in the habit of doing things with a high hand, and on this occasion, during Hector's absence from home, he, accompanied by his Sheriff, Alexander Vass, went to Kinellan, where Hector usually resided, held a court at the place, and as a mulct or fine took away the couples of one of Hector's barns as a token of his power. When Hector discovered what had taken place in his absence, he became furious, and sent a messenger to Fowlis telling him that if he were a man of courage and a "good fellow" he would come and take away the couples of the other barn when their owner was at home.
Munro, greatly offended at this message, determined to accept the bold challenge conveyed in it, and promptly collected his vassals, including the Dingwalls and the MacCullochs, who were then his dependants, to the number of nine hundred, and with this force started for Kinellan, where he arrived much sooner than Hector, who hurriedly collected all the men he could in the neighbourhood, anticipated. Hector had no time to advise his Kintail men nor those at a distance from Kinellan, and was consequently unable to bring together more than one hundred and forty men. With this small force he wisely deemed it imprudent to venture on a regular battle, but decided upon a stratagem which if it proved successful, as he anticipated, would give him an advantage that would more than counterbalance the enemy's superiority of numbers. Having supplied his small but resolute band with provisions for twenty-four hours, Hector led them secretly, during the night, to the top of Knock-farrel, a place so situated that Munro must needs pass near its north or south side in his march to and from Kinellan. Early next morning Fowlis marched past on his way to Kinellan, quite ignorant of Hector's position, and expecting him to have remained at home to implement the purport of his message. Sir William was allowed to pass unmolested, and imagining that Hector had fled, he proceeded to demolish the barn at Kinellan, ordered its couples to be carried away. Broke all the utensils about the place, and drove out all the cattle, as trophies of his visit. In the evening he returned, as Hector had conjectured, carrying the plunderin front of his party, accompanied by a strong guard, while he placed the rest of his picked men in the rear, fearing that Hector might pursue him, little thinking that he was already between him and his destination.
On his way to Kinellan, Munro bad marched through Strathpeffer round the north side of Knock-farrel, but for some cause he returned by the south side where the highway touched the shoulder of the hill on which Hector's men were posted. He had no fear of attack from that quarter, and his men feeling themselves quite safe, marched loosely and out of order. Hector seeing his opportunity, allowed them to pass until the rear was within musket shot of him. He then ordered his men to charge, which they did with such furious impetuosity, that most of the enemy were cut to pieces before they were properly aware from whence they were attacked, or could make any effectual attempt to resist the dashing onset of Hector's followers. The groans of the dying in the gloaming, the uncertainty as well as the unexpectedness of the attack, frightened them so much that they fled in confusion, in spite of every attempt on the part of Fowlis, who was in front in charge of the spoil and its guard, to stop them. Those from the rear flying in disorder soon confused the men in front, and the result was a complete rout. Hector's men followed, killing every one they met for it was ordered that no quarter should be given, the number being so large that they might again turn round, attack and defeat the victors. In this retreat almost all the men of the clan Dingwall and MacCullochs capable of bearing arms were killed, and so many of the Munroes were slain that for a long time after "there could not be ane secure friendship made up twixt them and the Mackenzies, till by frequent allyance and mutuall beneffets at last thes animosities are setled and in ordor to a reconciliation, Hector, sone to this William of Foulls, wes maried to John Mackenzie's sister Catherine."
At this conflict, besides that it was notable for its neat contrivance, the inequality of the forces engaged, and the number of the slain, there are two minor incidents worth noting. One is that the pursuit was so hot that the Munroes not only fled in a crowd, but there were so many of them killed at a place on the edge of the hill where a descent fell from each shoulder of it to a well; and most of Hector's men being armed with battle-axes and two-edged swords, they had cut off so many heads in that small space, that, tumbling down the slope to the well, nineteen heads were counted in it and to this day the well is called "Tobar nan Ceann" or the Fountain of the Heads. The other incident is that Suarachan, better known as "Donnchadh Mor na Tuaighe," or Big Duncan of the Axe, previously referred to as one of the heroes of the battle of Park, pursued one of the enemy into the Church of Dingwall, to which he had fled for shelter. As he was entering in at the door, Suarachan caught him by the arm, when the man exclaimed, "My sanctuary saves me!" "Aye," returned Suarachan, "but what a man puts in the sanctuary against his will he can take it out again; and so, pushing him back from the door, he killed him with one stroke of his broadsword. [MS. History by the Earl or Cromartie.]
Sir William Munro returned that night to Fowlis, where happened to be, passing the evening, a harper of the name of MacRa, who, observing Sir William pensive and dispirited, advised him to be more cheerful and submit patiently to the fortunes of war, since his defeat was not his own fault, nor from want of personal courage and bravery, but arose from the timorousness of his followers, who were unacquainted with such severe service. This led Sir William to take more particular notice of the harper than he had hitherto done, and he asked him his name. On hearing it, Munro replied, "You surely must have been fortunate, as your name imports, and I am sure that you have been more so than I have been this day; but it's fit to take your advice, MacRath." This was a play on the minstrel's name - MacRath literally meaning "Son of Fortune" - and the harper being, like most of his kind, smart and sagacious, made the following impromptu answer -
Eachainn le sheachd fichead fear, Agus thusa le d'ochd clad, Se Mac Rath a mharbh na daoine Air bathaois Cnoc faireal,
Which may be rendered in English as follows:
Although MacRath doth "fortunate" import, It's he deserves that name whose brave effort Eight hundred men did put to flight With his seven score at Knockfarrel. [Ardintoul MS.]
In 1499, George, Earl of Huntly, then the King's Lieutenant, granted warrant to Duncan Mackintosh of Mackintosh, John Grant of Freuchie, and other leaders, with three thousand men, to pass against the Clan Mackenzie, "the King's rebels," for the slaughter of Harold of Chisholm, dwelling in Strathglass, "and for divers other heirschips, slaughters, spuilzies, committed on the King's poor lieges and tenants in the Lordship of Ardmeanoch," [Kilravock Papers, p. 170.] but Hector Roy and his followers gave a good account of them, and soon defeated and dispersed them. He seems to have held undisturbed possession until the year 1507, when John and his brother Roderick were on a visit in the Aird, at the house of their uncle, Lord Lovat, when a fire broke out at the castle. According to the Earl of Cromartie, when the house took fire, no one was found bold enough to approach the burning pile but John, who rushed boldly through the flames and carried away the Lovat charter chest "a weight even then thought too much for the strongest man, and that cheist, yett extant, is a load sufficient for two. His uncle, bothe obleiged by the actione, and glad to sie such strength and boldnes in the young man, desyred (him) to do as much for himself as he haid done for him, and to discover his (own) charter cheist from his uncle, and that he should have all the concurrance which he (Lovat) could give to that effect." Anderson's "History of the Family of Fraser" ascribes this bold act to Roderick, for which he was "considered amply recompensed by the gift of a bonnet and a pair of shoes." It matters little which is the correct version, but it is not unlikely that Lovat's valuable charter chest was saved by one or other of them, and it is by no means improbable that his Lordship's suggestion that they should procure their own charter chest and his offer to aid them in doing so was made and determined to be acted upon on this occasion.
John, who had proved himself most prudent, even in his youth, was satisfied that his uncle Hector, a man of undoubted valour and wisdom, in possession of the estates, and highly popular with the clan, could not be expelled without great difficulty and extreme danger to himself. Any such attempt would produce feuds and slaughter among his people, with the certain result of making himself personally unpopular with the clan, and his uncle more popular than ever. He therefore decided upon a more prudent course resolving to strike only at Hector's person, judging that, if his uncle failed, his claims and the personal respect of his followers would fall with him. To carry out his resolution, he contrived a scheme which proved completely successful. Having secured an interview with Hector, who then resided at Wester Fairburn, he pleaded that since he had taken his estates from him, and left him in such reduced circumstances, it was not in accordance with his feelings and his ambition for fame to remain any longer in his native country, where he had neither position nor opportunities of distinguishing himself. He therefore begged that his uncle should give him a galley or birlinn, and as many of the ablest and most determined youths in the country as should voluntarily follow him in his adventures for fame and fortune in a foreign land. With these he should pass to Ireland, then engaged in war, and "there purchase a glorious death or a more plentiful fortune than he was likely to get at home." The idea pleased Hector exceedingly, and he not only gave him his own galley, then lying at Torridon, but furnished him with all the necessary provisions for the voyage, at the same time assuring him that, if he prosecuted his intentions, he should annually transmit him a sufficient portion to keep up his position, until his own personal prowess and fortune should place him above any such necessity whereas, if he otherwise resolved or attempted to molest him in what he called his rights, he would bring sudden and certain ruin upon himself.
Thirty brave and resolute young men joined the supposed adventurer, after having informed them that he would have none except those who would do so of their own free will, from their affection for him, and determination to support him in any emergency; for he well judged that only such were suitable companions in the desperate aims which he had laid out for himself to accomplish. These he dispatched to the galley then at Torridon, one of the most secluded glens on the West Coast, and distant from any populated place; while he himself remained with his uncle, professedly to arrange the necessary details of his journey, and the transmission of his portion, but really to notice "his method and manner of converse." John soon took farewell of Hector, and departed with every appearance of simplicity. His uncle sent a retinue to convoy him with becoming respect, but principally to assure himself of his departure, and to guard against surprise or design on John's part. Accompanied by these, he soon arrived at Torridon, where he found his thirty fellow adventurers and the galley awaiting him. They at once set sail, and with a fair wind made for the Isles, in the direction of, and as if intending to make for, Ireland. The retinue sent by Hector Roy returned home, and informed their master that they saw John and his companions started before a fair wind, with sails set, in the direction of Ireland when Hector exclaimed, referring to Anne of Lovat, "We may now sleep without fear of Anne's children."
John, sailing down Loch Torridon, and judging that Hector's men had returned home, made for a sheltered and isolated creek, landed in a wood, and dispersed his men with instructions to go by the most private and unfrequented paths in the direction of Alit Corrienarnich, in the braes of Torridon, where he would meet them. This done, they followed Hector's men, being quite close up to them by the time they reached Fairburn. John halted at some little distance from Hector's house until about midnight, when, calling his men together, he feelingly addressed them thus: "Now, my good friends, I perceive that you are indeed affectionate to me, and resolute men, who have freely forsaken your country and relations to share in my not very promising fortune but my design in seeking only such as would voluntarily go along with me was that I might be certain of your affection and resolution, and since you are they whom I ought only to rely upon in my present circumstances and danger, I shall now tell you that I was never so faint-hearted as to quit my inheritance without attempting what is possible for any man in my capacity. In order to this I feigned this design for Ireland for three reasons; first, to put my uncle in security, whom I have found ever hitherto very circumspect and well guarded; next, to find out a select, faithful number to whom I might trust and thirdly, that in case I fail, and that my uncle shall prevail over my endeavours, that I might have this boat and these provisions as a safe retreat, both for myself and you, whom I should be loath to expose to so great a danger without some probability in the attempt, and some security in the disappointment. I am resolved this night to fall on my uncle for he being gone, there is none of his children who dare hope to repose themselves to his place. The countrymen who now, for fear, depend on him and disown me, will, no doubt, on the same motives, promoved with my just title, own me against all other injurious pretenders. One thing I must require of you, and it is that albeit those on whom we are to fall are all related both to you and to me, yet since on their destruction depends the preservation of our lives, and the restitution of my estate, you must all promise not to give quarter to my uncle or to any of his company."
To this inhuman resolution they all agreed, disregarding the natural ties of blood and other obligations, and, marching as quietly as possible, they arrived at Hector's house, surrounded it, and set fire to it - guarding it all round so that not a soul could escape. The house was soon in flames, and the inmates, Hector and his household, were crying out for mercy. Their pitiful cries made an impression on those outside, for many of them had relatives within, and in spite of their previous resolution to give no quarter, some of them called out to their nearest friends to come out and surrender, on assurance of their lives being spared. John seeing so many of his followers moved to this merciful conduct, and being unable to resist them, exclaimed, "My uncle is as near in blood to me as any in the house are to you, and therefore I will be as kind to him as you are to them." He then called upon Hector to surrender and come forth from the burning pile, assuring him of his life. This he did; but Donald Dubh MacGillechriost Mhic Gillereach, a Kenlochewe man, made for the door with his two-edged sword drawn, whereupon Hector seeing him called out to John that he would rather be burned where he was than face Donald Dubh. John called the latter away, and Hector rushed out into his nephew's arms and embraced him. That same night John and Hector, without "Dysman," saving God and such commons as were then present, agreed and condescended that Hector should have the estate till John was twenty-one years of age, and that John should live on his own purchases till then, Hector was to set the whole estate immediately, as tutor to John, which next day he went about. "I cannot forget what passed betwixt him and the foresaid Donald at the set of Kenlochewe, who was one of the first that sought land from him, which when he sought, Hector says to him: 'I wonder, Donald, how you can ask land this day, that was so forward to kill me the last day.' Donald answered that 'if he had such a leader this day as he had that night he should show him no better quarters, for Kenneth's death (meaning Kenneth Aack) struck nearer my heart than any prejudice you can do me in denying me land this day.' Hector said, 'Well Donald, I doubt ye not if you had such coildghys (coldhaltas - fosterage) to me as you had to that man but you would act the like for me. Therefore you shall have your choice of all the land in the country.' Hector having set the whole estate as tutor, all things seemed fair, only that Allan and his faction in Kintail, who previously urged John to possess himself of Ellandonnan Castle, were not satisfied with the arrangement, as John was still kept out of the stronghold, 'which Hector would not grant, not being condescended on (and as he alleged) lest John should fail on his part but the factions - the commons - within that country could not be satisfied herewith, being, as it was said, moved hereto by an accident that fell out a year or two before.'" [Ancient MS.] This "accident" is described further on, and refers to Hector's alleged attempt to get Allan assassinated at Invershiel.
Donald Dubh was Kenneth Og's foster-brother, and Imagining that Hector was accessory in an underhand way to Kenneth's captivity in Edinburgh Castle, and consequently to his death in the Torwood, he conceived an inveterate hatred for him, and determined to kill him in revenge the first opportunity that presented itself. Hector, knowing that his resolution proceeded from fidelity and affection to his foster-brother and master, not only forgave him, but ultimately took an opportunity of rewarding him and, as we have seen, afterwards gave him his choice of all the lands in Kenlochewe.
John immediately sent word of what had taken place to his uncle of Lovat, and next day marched for Kintail, where all the people there, as well as in the other parts of his property, recognised him as their chief. The Castle of Ellandonnan was delivered up to him, with the charter chest and other evidences of his extensive possessions.
It has been maintained by the family of Gairloch that there is no truth in the charge against their ancestor, Hector Roy, which we have just given mainly on the authority of the Earl of Cromartie. The writer of the Ardintoul MS. of the Mackenzies, [Dr George Mackenzie gives substantially the same account,] however corroborates his lordship, and says that John was but young when his father died; and Hector, his younger uncle (Duncan, Hector's eldest brother, who should be tutor being dead, and Allan, Duncan's son, not being able to oppose or grapple with Hector), meddled with the estate. It is reported that Hector wished Allan out of the way, whom he thought only to stand in his way from being laird, since he was resolved not to own my Lord Lovat's daughter's children, being all bastards and gotten in adultery. The reason why they entertained such thoughts of him was partly this: Hector going to Ellandonnan (where he placed Malcolm Mac Eancharrich constable) called such of the country people to him as he judged fit, under pretence of setting and settling the country, but asked not for, nor yet called his nephew Allan, who lived at Invershiel, within a few miles of Ellandonnan, but went away. Allan, suspecting this to have proceeded from unkindness, sends to one of his familiar friends to know the result of the meeting, or if there was any spoken concerning him. The man, perhaps, not being willing to be an ill instrument twixt so near relations, sends Allan the following Irish (Gaelic) lines:
Inversheala na struth bras, Tar as, 's fear foul ga d' fheitheamh, Nineag, ga caol a cas, Tha leannan aice gun thios, A tighinn ga'm fhaire a shios, Tha i, gun fhios, fo mo chrios Tha 'n sar lann ghuilbneach ghlas, - Bhehion urchair dha le fios.
Allan put his own construction on them, and thought a friend warned him to have a care of himself, there being some designs on him from a near relation; and so that very night, in the beginning thereof, he removed himself and family and anything he valued within the house to an bill above the town, where he might see and bear anything that might befall the house; and that same night about cock crow he saw bis house and biggings in flames, and found them consumed to ashes on the morrow. The perpetrators could not be found; yet it was generally thought to be Hector his uncle's contrivance."
The writer then describes the legitimation of Agnes Fraser's children by the Pope, and continues - "Hector, notwithstanding of the legitimation, refused to quit the possession of the estate," and he then gives the same account of John's feigned expedition to Ireland, and the burning of Hector's house at Wester Fairburn, substantially as already given from another source, but adding - "That very night they both entered upon terms of agreement without acquainting or sending for any, or to advise a reconciliation betwixt them. The sum of their agreement was, that Hector, as a man able to rule and govern, should have (allowing John an aliment) the estate for five or six years, till John should be major, and that thereafter Hector should render it to John as the right and lawful undoubted heir, and that Hector should ever afterwards acknowledge and honour him as his chief, and so they parted, all being well pleased. [John and Hector did condescend that Hector should have the estate till John were one and twentie years, and that John should live on his own purchase till then. Letter from MS.] But Allan and the most of the Kintail men were dissatisfied that John did not get Ellandonnan, his principal house, in his own possession, and so desired John to come to them and possess the castle by fair or foul means wherein they promised to assist him. John goes to Kintail, desires him to render the place to him, which he refused, for which cause John ordered bring all his cattle to those he employed to besiege the castle till Malcolm (the governor) would be starved out of it. Yet this did not prevail with the governor, till he got Hector's consent, who, being acquainted, came to Lochalsh and met with his nephew, and after concerting the matter, Hector sends word to Malcolm to render the place to John. But Malcolm would not till he would be paid of his goods that were destroyed. But Hector sending to him the second time, after considerable negotiation for several days, telling him he was a fool, that he might remember how himself was used, and that that might be a means to take his life also. Whereupon Malcolm renders the house, but John was so much offended at him that he would not continue him governor, but gave the charge to Gillechriost Mac Fhionnla Mhic Rath, making him Constable of the Isle. So after that there was little or no debate twixt John and Hector during the rest of the six years he was Tutor.' [Ardintoul and Ancient MSS. of the Mackenzies.]
The MS. Histories of the family are borne out by Gregory, [Highlands and Isles of Scotland, p. 111] who informs us that "Hector Roy Mackenzie, progenitor of the House of Gairloch, had, since the death of Kenneth Og Mackenzie of Kintail, in 1497, and during the minority of John, the brother and heir of Kenneth, exercised the command of that clan, nominally as guardian to the young chief. Under his rule the Clan Mackenzie became involved in feuds with the Munroes and other clans, and Hector Roy himself became obnoxious to Government as a disturber of the public peace. His intentions towards the young Laird of Kintail were considered very dubious; and the apprehensions of the latter having been roused, Hector was compelled by law to yield up the estate and the command of the tribe to the proper heir." Gregory gives the "Acts of the Lords of Council, xxii., fo. 142," as that upon which, among other autho-rities, he founds. We give the following extract, except that the spelling is modernised:
"7th April 1511. - Anent the summons made at the instance of John Mackenzie of Kintail against Hector Roy Mackenzie for the wrongous intromitting, uptaking, and withholding from him of the mails 'fermez,' profits, and duties of all and whole the lands of Kintail, with the pertinents lying in the Sheriffdom of Inverness, for the space of seven years together, beginning in the year of God 1501, and also for the space of two years, last bye-past, and for the masterful withholding from the said John Mackenzie of his house and Castle of Ellandonnan, and to bring with him his evidence if (he) any has of the constabulary and keeping thereof, and to hear the same decerned of none avail, and diverse other points like as at more length; is contained in the said summons, the said John Mackenzie being personally present, and the said Hector Roy being lawfully summoned to this action, oft-times called and not compearing, the said John's rights, etc. The Lords of Council decree and deliver, that the said Hector has forfeited the keeping and constabulary of the said Castle of Ellandonnan, together with the fees granted therefor, and decern all evidents, if he any has made to him thereupon, of none avail, force, nor effect, and the said John Mackenzie to have free ingress and entry to the said Castle, because he required the said Hector for deliverance thereof and to thole him to enter thereunto, howbeit the said Hector refused and would not give him entry to the said Castle, but if his servants would have delivered their happinnis from them to his men or their entries, like as one actentit instrument taken thereupon shown and produced before the said Lords purported and bore, and therefore ordains our sovereign Lords' letters (to) be directed to devode and rid the said Castle and to keep the said John in possession thereof as effeirs and continues to remanent points contained in the said summons in form, as they are now, unto the 20th day of July next to come, with continuation of days, and ordains that letters be written in form of commission to the Sheriff of Inverness and his deputies to summon witnesses and take probations thereupon and to summon the party to heir them sworn and thereafter send their depositions closed to the Lords again, the said day, under the said Sheriffs or his Deputy's seal, that thereafter justice may be ministered thereuntill."
Whatever truth there may be in the accounts given by the family historians, Hector Roy was undoubtedly at this period possessed of considerable estates of his own; for, we find a "protocol," by John Vass, "Burges of Dygvayll, and Shireff in this pairt," by which he makes known that, by the command of his sovereign lord, letters and process was directed to him as Sheriff granting him to give Hector Mackenzie heritable state and possession "of all and syndri the landis off Gerloch with thar pertinens, after the forme and tenor off our souerane lordis chartyr maide to the forsaide Hector," lying between the waters called Inverew and Torridon. The letter is dated "At Alydyll (?Talladale) the xth of the moneth off December the zher off Gode ane thousande four hundreth nynte an four zheris."
It is clear that Hector did not long continue under a cloud; for in 1508 the King directed a mandate to the Chamberlain of Ross requesting him to enter Hector Roy Mackenzie in the "males and proffitis of our landis of Braane and Moy, with ariage, cariage and vther pertinence thareof ... for his gude and thankfull service done and to be done to us ... and this on na wise ye leif vndone, as ye will incur our indignatioun and displesour. This our letrez ... efter the forme of our said vther letres past obefor, given vnder our signet at Edinburgh the fift day of Marche and of Regne the twenty yere. - (Signed) James R." In 1513 he received a charter under the great seal of the lands of Gairloch formerly granted him, with Glasletter and Coruguellen, with their pertinents. [The original charter; the "protocol" from John Vass; the mandate to the Chamberlain of Ross, for copies of which we are indebted to Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Baronet, are in the Gaitloch Charter Chest, and the latter two will be found in extenso in the account of the Gairloch family later on.] Hector Roy's conduct towards John has been unfavourably criticised, but if it is kept in mind that no regular marriage ever took place between Kenneth a Bhlair and John's mother, Agnes of Lovat that their union was not recognised by the Church until 1491, if then, the same year in which Kenneth died it can easily be understood why Hector should conscientiously do what he probably held to be his duty-oppose John of Killin in the interest of those whom he considered the legitimate successors of Kenneth a Bhlair and his unfortunate son, Kenneth Og, to whom only, so far as we can discover, Hector Roy was appointed Tutor; for when his brother, Kenneth a Bhlair, died, there was every appearance that Hector's ward, Kenneth Og, would succeed when he came of age. The succession of John of Killin was at most only a remote possibility when his father died, and therefore no Tutor to him would have been appointed.
In terms of an Act passed in 1496, anent the education of young gentlemen of note, John, when young, was sent by Hector Roy to Edinburgh to complete his education at Court. He thus, in early life, acquired a knowledge of legal principles and practice of great service and value to him in after life, not only in the management of his own affairs, but in aiding his friends and countrymen in their peculiar difficulties by his counsel and guidance, and thus he secured such universal esteem and confidence as seldom fell to the lot of a Highland chief in that rude and unruly age. The standard of education necessary at Court in those days must have been very different from that required in ours, for we find that, with all his opportunities, John of Killin could not write his own name. To a bond in favour of the Earl of Huntly he subscribes, "Jhone M'Kenzie of Kyntaill, with my hand on the pen led by Master William Gordone, Notar."
Referring to the power of the House of Kintail at this period, and to the rapid advance made by the family under Alexander and his successors, we quote the following from a modern MS. history of the family by the late Captain John Matheson of Bennetsfield: "We must observe here the rapid advance which the family of Kintail made on every side. The turbulent Macdonalds, crushed by the affair of Park, Munro, sustained by his own clan, and the neighbouring vassals of Ross humbled at their own door, when a century had not yet passed since the name of Mackenzie had become familiar to their ears; and it is gratifying to trace all this to the wise policy of the first James and his successors. The judicious education of Alastair Ionraic, and consequent cultivation of those habits which, by identifying the people with the monarch through the laws, render a nation securely great, is equally discernible in John of Killin and his posterity. The successors of the Earls of Ross were turbulent and tenacious of their rights, but they were irreclaimable. The youthful Lord of the Isles, at the instigation of his haughty mother, deserted the Court of James I., while young Kintail remained, sedulously improving himself at school in Perth, till he was called to display his gratitude to his Royal master in counteracting the evil arising from the opposite conduct of Macdonald. Thus, by one happy circumstance, the attention of the King was called to a chieftain who gave such early promise of steady attachment, and his future favour was secured. The family of Kintail was repeatedly recognised in the calendar of the Scottish Court, while that of the once proud Macdonalds frowned in disappointment and barbarous independence amidst their native wilds, while their territories, extending beyond the bounds of good government and protection, presented gradually such defenceless gaps as became inviting and easily penetrable by the intelligence of Mackenzie, and Alastair Ionraic acquired a great portion of his estates by this legitimate advantage, afterwards secured by the intractable arrogance of Macdonald of Lochalsh and the valour and military capacity of Coinneach a Bhlair."
In 1513 John of Killin is found among those Highland chiefs summoned to rendezvous with the Royal army at Barrow Moor preparatory to the fatal advance of James IV. into England, when the Mackenzies, forming with the Macleans, joined that miserably-arranged and ill-fated expedition which terminated so fatally to Scotland on the disastrous field of Flodden, where the killed included the King, with the flower of his nobility, gentry, and even clergy. There was scarcely a Scottish family of distinction that did not lose at least one, and some of them lost all the male members who were capable of bearing arms. The body of the King was found, much disfigured with wounds, in the thickest of the slain. Abercromby, on the authority of Crawford, includes, in a list of those killed at Flodden, "Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, ancestor to the noble family of Seaforth." This is an undoubted error for it will be seen that John, not Kenneth was chief at the time of Flodden. It was he who joined the Royal army, accompanied by his brave and gallant uncle, Hector Roy of Gairloch and it is established beyond dispute that though almost all their followers fell, both John and Hector survived and returned home. They, however, narrowly escaped the charge of Sir Edward Stanley in rear of the Highlanders during the disorderly pursuit of Sir Edward Howard, who had given way to the furious and gallant onset of the mountaineers.
John was made prisoner, but afterwards escaped in a very remarkable manner. When his captors were carrying him and others of his followers to the south, they were overtaken by a violent storm which obliged them to seek shelter in a retired house occupied by the widow of a shipmaster. After taking up their quarters, and, as they thought, providing for the safe custody of the prisoners, the woman noticed that the captives were Highlanders; and, in reference to the boisterous weather raging outside, she, as if unconsciously, exclaimed, "The Lord help those who are to-night travelling on Leathad Leacachan." The prisoners were naturally astonished to hear an allusion, in such a place, to a mountain so familiar to them in the North Highlands, and they soon obtained an opportunity, which their hostess appeared most anxious to afford them, of questioning her regarding her acquaintance with so distant a place; when she told them that during a sea voyage she took with her husband, she had been taken so ill aboard ship that it was found necessary to send her ashore on the north west coast of Scotland, where, travelling with only a maid and a single guide, they were caught in a severe storm, and she was suddenly taken in labour. In this distressing and trying position a Highlander passing by took compassion upon her, and seeing her case so desperate, with no resources at hand, he, with remarkable presence of mind, killed one of his horses, ripped open his stomach, and taking out the bowels, placed her and the newly-born infant in their place, as the only effectual shelter from the storm. By this means he secured sufficient time to procure female assistance, and ultimately saved the woman and her child.
But the most remarkable part of the story remains to be told. The same person to whom she owed her preservation was at that moment one of the captives under her roof. He was one of Kintail's followers on the fatal field of Flodden. She, informed of his presence and of the plight he was in, managed to procure a private interview with him, when he amply proved to her, by more detailed reference to the incidents of their meeting on Leathad Leacachan, that he was the man - "Uisdean Mor Mac 'Ille Phadruig" - and in gratitude, she, at the serious risk of her own personal safety, successfully planned the escape of Hugh's master and his whole party. The story is given on uninterrupted tradition in the country of the Mackenzies; and a full and independent version in the vernacular of the hero's humane conduct on Leathad Leacachan will be found in the Celtic Magazine, vol. ii., pp. 468-9, to which the Gaelic reader is referred.
Gregory, p. 112, says: "Tradition has preserved a curious anecdote connected with the Mackenzies, whose young chief, John of Kintail, was taken prisoner at Flodden. It will be recollected that Kenneth Og Mackenzie of Kintail, while on his way to the Highlands, after making his escape from Edinburgh Castle, was killed in the Torwood by the Laird of Buchanan. The foster-brother of Kenneth Og was a man of the district of Kenlochewe, named Donald Dubh MacGillecrist vic Gillereoch, who with the rest of the clan was at Flodden with his chief. In the retreat of the Scottish army this Donald Dubh heard some one near him exclaiming, 'Alas, Laird! thou hast fallen.' On enquiry, he was told it was the Laird of Buchanan, who had sunk from his wounds or exhaustion. The faithful Highlander, eager to revenge the death of his chief and foster-brother, drew his sword, and, saying, 'If he has not fallen he shall fall,' made straight to Buchanan, whom he killed on the spot."
As to the safe return of John of Kintail and Hector Roy to their Highland home, after this calamitous event, there is now no question whatever; for we find John among others, afterwards appointed, by Act of Council, a Lieutenant or Guardian of Wester Ross, [Gregory, p. 115. Acts of Lords of Council, xxvi., fo. 25.] to protect it from Sir Donald Gallda Macdonald of Lochalsh, when he proclaimed himself Lord of the Isles. In 1515, Mackenzie, without legal warrant, seized the Royal Castle of Dingwall, but professed his readiness to give it up to any one appointed by the Regent, John, Duke of Albany. [Acts of Lords of Council, xxvii., fo. 60.] In 1532 he is included in a commission by James V. for suppressing a disorderly tribe of Mackintoshes. He secured the esteem of this monarch so much that he appointed him a member of his Privy Council.
To put the question of John's return beyond question, and to show how the family rose rapidly in influence and power during his rule, we shall quote the Origines Parochiales Scotia, from which it will also be seen that Kenneth, John's heir, received considerable grants for himself during his father's lifetime: "In 1509 King James IV. granted to John Makkenzie of Keantalle (the brother of Kenneth Og) the 40 marklands of Keantalle - namely, the davach of Cumissaig, the davach of Letterfearn, the davach of Gleanselle, the davach of Glenlik, the davach of Letterchall, the two davachs of Cro, and three davachs between the water of Keppach and the water of Lwying, with the castle and fortalice of Eleandonnan, in the earldom of Ross and sheriffdom of Innernis, with other lands in Ross, which John had resigned, and which the King then erected into the barony of Eleandonnan. [Reg. Mag. Sig., lib. xv., No.89. Gregory, p.83.] In 1530 King James V. granted to James Grant of Freuchy and Johne Mckinze of Kintale liberty to go to any part of the realm on their lawful business. [Reg. Sec. Sig., vol. viii., fol. 149.] In 1532, 1538, and 1540, the same John M'Kenich of Kintaill appears on record. [Reg. Sec. Sig., vol. ix, fol. 3; vol. xii., fol. 21; vol. xiv., fol. 32.] In 1542, King James V. granted to John Mckenzie of Kintaill the waste lands of Monar, lying between the water of Gleneak on the north, the top or summit of Landovir on the south, the torrent of Towmuk and Inchclochill on the east, and the water of Bernis running into the water of Long on the west; and also the waste lands of lie Ned lying between Loch Boyne on the north, Loch Tresk on the south, lie Ballach on the west, and Dawelach on the east, in the earldom of Ross and sheriffdom of Innernes - lands which were never in the King's rental, and never yielded any revenue - for the yearly payment of L4 to the King as Earl of Ross. [Reg. Mag. Sig., lib. xxviii., No. 417.] In 1543 Queen Mary granted to Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, and Isabel Stewart, his wife, the lands of Auchnaceyric, Lakachane, Strome-ne-mowklach, Kilkinterne, the two Rateganis, Torlousicht, Auchnashellicht, Auchnagart, Auchewrane, lic Knokfreith, Aucharskelane, and Malegane, in the lordship of Kintaill and other lands in Ross, extending in all to 36 marks, which he had resigned. [Reg. Mag. Sig., lib. xxviii., No. 524. Reg. Sec. Sig.,vol. xvii., fol. 56.] In 1551 the same Queen granted to John M'Kenze of Kintaill, and Kenzeoch M'Kenze, his son and apparent heir, a remission for the violent taking of John Hectour M'Kenzesone of Garlouch, Doull Hectoursone, and John Towach Hectoursone, and for keeping them in prison 'vsurpand thairthrou our Souerane Ladyis autorite.' [Reg. Sec. Sig., vol. xxiv., fol. 75.] In 1554 there appear on record John Mackenzie of Kintaile and his son and heir-apparant, Kenneth Mackenzie of Brahan - apparently the same persons that appear in 1551. [Reg, Mag. Sig., lib. xxxii., No. 211.]