On the 5th of February, 1595-96, it is complained against him by Alexander Bayne of Tulloch that although upon the 7th of March, 1594, John MacGillechallum, Raasay, had been put to the horn for non-appearance to a complaint by the said Alexander and his son Alexander, Fiar of Tulloch, against the Rev. John Mackenzie, minister of Urray, touching certain oppressions and depredations committed on him and his tenants, he remained not only unrelaxed from the horn, but continues in "his wicked and accustomed trade of rief theft, sorning, and oppression," seeking "all indirect and shameful means to wreck and destroy him and his bairns." A short time before this, MacGillechallum sent to the complainer desiring him to give over to him his (Bayne's) old heritage called Torridon, "with assurance if he do not the same to burn his whole corn and goods." In these insolencies "he is encouraged and set forward by the consort, reset, and supply which he receives of Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail and his friends, he being near kinsman to the said Kenneth, viz.: his father's sister's son; who, in that respect, shows him all good offices of friendship and courtesy, indirectly assisting him with his men and moyen in all his enterprises against the said complainer and his bairns, without whose oversight and allowance and protection it were not able to him to have a reset in any part of the country." The complainer, Alexander Bayne, describes himself as "a decrepit aged man past eighty years of age and being blind these years he must submit himself to his Majesty for remedy." Kintail appeared personally, and Tulloch by his two sons, Alexander and Ranald, whereupon the King and Council remitted the complaint to be decided before the ordinary judges.
The following account from family MSS. and Sir Robert Gordon's "Earldom of Sutherland," refers no doubt to the same incidents - John MacCallum, a brother of the Laird of Raasay, annoyed the people of Torridon, which place at that time belonged to the Baynes of Tulloch. He alleged that Tulloch, in whose house he was fostered, had promised him these lands as a gift of fosterage; but Tulloch, whether he had made a previous promise to MacGillechallum or not, left the lands of Torridon to his own second son, Alexander Mor MacDhonnchaidh Mhic Alastair, alias Bayne. He afterwards obtained a decree against MacGillechallum for interfering with his lands and molesting the people, and, on a Candlemas market, with a large following of armed men, made up of most of the Baynes, and a considerable number of Munros, he came to the market stance, at that time held at Logie. John MacGillechallum, ignorant of Tulloch "getting the laws against him" and in no fear of his life or liberty, came to the market as usual, and, while standing buying some article at a chapman's stall, Alastair Mor and his followers came up behind him unperceived, and, without any warning, struck him on the head with a two-edged sword - instantly killing him. A gentleman of the Clann Mhurchaidh Riabhaich Mackenzies, Ian Mac Mhurchaidh Mhic Uilleam, a very active and powerful man, was at the time standing beside him, and he asked who dared to have spilt Mackenzie blood in that dastardly manner. He had no sooner said the words than he was run through the body by one of the swords of the enemy; and thus, without an opportunity of drawing their weapons, fell two of the best swordsmen in the North of Scotland. The alarm and the news of their death immediately spread through the market. "Tulloch Ard," the war cry of the Mackenzies, was instantly raised; whereupon the Baynes and the Munros took to their heels - the Munros eastward to the Ferry of Fowlis, and the Baynes northward to the hills, both followed by a band of the infuriated Mackenzies, who slaughtered every one they overtook. Iain Dubh Mac Choinnich Mhic Mhurchaidh, of the clan Mhurchaidh Riabhaich, and Iain Gallda Mac Fhionnla Dhuibh, two gentlemen of the Mackenzies, the latter of whom was a Kintail man, were on their way from Chanonry to the market, when they met in with a batch of the Munros flying in confusion and, learning the cause to be the murder of their friends at Logie market, they instantly pursued the fugitives, killing no less than thirteen of them between Logie and the wood of Millechaich. All the townships in the neighbourhood of the market joined the Mackenzies in the pursuit, and Alastair Mor Bayne of Tulloch only saved himself, after all his men were killed, by taking shelter and hiding for a time in a kiln-logie. Two of his followers, who managed to escape from the market people, met with some Lewismen on their way to the fair, who, noticing the Baynes flying half naked, immediately stopped them, and insisted upon their giving a proper account of themselves. This proving unsatisfactory they came to high words, and from words to blows, when the Lewismen attacked and killed them at Ach-an-eilich, near Contin.
The Baynes and the Munros had good cause to regret the cowardly conduct of their leaders on this occasion at Logie market, for they lost no less than fifty able-bodied men in return for the two gentlemen of the Clan Mackenzie whom they had so basely murdered at the fair. One lady of the Clan Munro lost her three brothers, on whom she composed a lament, of which the following is all we could obtain:—
'S olc a' fhuair mi tus an Earraich, 'S na feill Bride 'chaidh thairis, Chaill mi mo thriuir bhraithrean geala, Taobh ri taobh u' sileadh fala. 'Se 'n dithis a rinn mo sharach', Fear beag dubh a chlaidheamh Iaidir, 'S mac Fhionnla Dhuibh a Cinntaile Deadh mhearlach nan adh 's nan aigeach.
When night came on, Alastair Mor Bayne escaped from the kiln, and went to his uncle Lovat, who at once despatched James Fraser of Phopachy south, with all speed to prevent information from the other side reaching the King before be had an opportunity of relating his version of the quarrel. His Majesty was at the time at Falkland, and a messenger from Mackenzie reached him before Alastair Mor, pursuing for the slaughter of Mackenzie's kinsmen. He got the ear of his Majesty and would have been successful had not John Dubh Mac Choinnich Mhic Mhurchaidh meanwhile taken the law into his own hands by burning, in revenge, all Tulloch's cornyards and barns at Lemlair, thus giving Bayne an opportunity of presenting another and counter claim but the matter was ultimately arranged by the King and Council obliging Kintail and Tulloch mutually to subscribe a contract of agreement and peaceful behaviour towards each other.
Under date of 18th February, 1395-96, there is an entry in the Privy Council Records that Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail "being elected and chosen to be one of the ordinary members" of the Council, and being personally preset, makes faith and gives oath in the usual manner. In a complaint against him, on the 5th of August, 1596, by Habbakuk Bisset, he is assoilzied in all time coming by a decree of their Lordships in his favour.
Upon the death of Old Roderick of the Lewis, Torquil Dubh succeeded him, excluding Torquil Cononach from the succession on the plea of his being a bastard. The latter, however, held Coigeach and his other possessions on the mainland, with a full recognition by the Government of his rights to the lands of his forefathers in the Lewis. His two sons having been killed, and his eldest daughter, Margaret, having married Roderick Mackenzie of Coigeach, progenitor of the Cromarty family, better known as the Tutor of Kintail, Torquil Cononach threw himself into the hands of Kintail for aid against the bastards. By Roderick Mackenzie's marriage with Torquil Cononach's eldest daughter, he became heir of line to the ancient family of Macleod, an honour which still remains to his descendants, the Cromarty family. Torquil Dubh secured considerable support by marriage with a daughter of Tormod, XI., and sister of William Macleod, XII. of Harris and Dunvegan, and, thus strengthened, made a descent on Coigeach and Lochbroom, desolating the whole district, aiming at permanent occupation. Kintail, following the example of his predecessors - always prudent, and careful to keep within the laws of the realm - in 1596 laid the following complaint before King James VI.:
Please your Majesty, - Torquil Dow of the Lews, not contenting himself with the avowit misknowledging of your Hieness authority wherebe he has violat the promises and compromit made before your Majesty, now lately the 25th day of December last, has ta'n upon him being accompanied w 7 or 800 men, not only of his own by ylands neist adjacent, to prosecute with fire and sword by all kind of gud order, the hail bounds of the Strath Coigach pertaining to M'Leod his eldest brother, likewise my Strath of Lochbroom, quhilks Straths, to your Majesty's great dishonour, but any fear of God ourselves, hurt and skaith that he hath wasted w fire and sword, in such barbarous and cruel manner, that neither man, wife, bairn, horse, cattle, corns, nor bigging has been spared, but all barbarously slain, burnt, and destroyit, quhilk barbarity and cruelty, seeing he was not able to perform it but by the assistance and furderance of his neighbouring Ylesmen, therefore beseeches your Majesty by advice of Council to find some sure remeid wherebe sick cruel tyrannie may be resisted in the beginning. Otherway nothing to be expectit for but dailly increasing of his malicious forces to our utter ruin, quha possesses your Majesty's obedience, the consideration quharof and inconveniences quhilk may thereon ensue. I remit to your Highness guid consideration of whom taking my leif with maist humble commendations of service, I commit your Majesty to the holy protection of God eternal. At the Canonry of Ross, the 3d day, Jany. 1596-97. Your Majesty's most humble and obt. subject. KENNETH MACKENZIE of Kintail.
The complaint came before the Privy Council, at Holyrood, on the 11th of February, following, and Torquil Dubh, failing to appear, was denounced a rebel. Kenneth thereupon obtained a commission of fire and sword against him, as also the forfeiture of the Lewis, upon which Torquil Cononach made over his rights to Mackenzie, on the plea that he was the next male heir, but reserving the lands of Coigeach to his own son-in-law. The Mackenzies did all they could to obtain the estste for Torquil Cononach, the legitimate heir, but mainly through his own want of activity and indolent disposition, they failed with their united efforts to secure undisturbed possession for him. They succeeded, however, in destroying the family of Macleod of the Lewis, and most of the Siol-Torquil, and ultimately became complete masters of the island. The Brieve by stratagem captured Torquil Dubh, with some of his friends, and delivering them up to Torquil Cononach, they were, by his orders, beheaded in July, 1597. "It fell out that the Breve (that is to say, the judge) in the Lewis, who was chief of the Clan Illevorie (Morrison), being sailing from the Isle of Lewis to Ronay in a great galley, met with a Dutch ship loaded with wine, which he took; and advising with his friends, who were all with him there, what he would do with the ship lest Torqull Du should take her from him, they resolved to return to Stornoway and call for Torqull Du to receive the wine, and if he came to the ship, to sail away with him where Torqull Cononach was, and then they might be sure of the ship and the wine to be their own, and besides, he would grant them tacks in the best parts in the Lewis; which accordingly they did, and called for Torqull to come and receive the wine. Torqull Du noways mistrusting them that were formerly so obedient, entered the ship with seven others in company, where he was welcomed, and he commended them as good fellows that brought him such a prize. They invited him to the quay to take his pleasure of the feast of their wine. He goes, but instead of wine they brought cords to tie him, telling him he had better render himself and his wrongously possessed estate to his eldest brother; that they resolved to put him in his mercy, which he was forced to yield to. So they presently sail for Coigeach, and delivered him to his brother, who he had no sooner got but he made him short by the head in the month of July, 1597. Immediately he was beheaded there arose a great earthquake, which astonished the actors and all the inhabitants about them as a sign of God's judgment." [Ancient MS.]
In 1598 some gentlemen in Fife, afterwards known as the "Fife Adventurers," obtained a grant of the Lewis with the professed object of civilising the inhabitants. It is not intended here to detail their proceedings or to describe at much length the squabbles and constant disorders, murders, and robberies which took place while they held possession of the Island. The speculation proved ruinous to the Adventurers, who in the end lost their estates, and were obliged to leave the islanders to their fate. A brief summary of it will suffice, and those who desire more information on the subject will find a full account of it in the History of the Macleods. [By the same author. A. & W. Mackenzie, Inverness, 1889.]
On the 15th of June, 1599, Sir William Stewart of Houston, Sir James Spence of Wormistoun, and Thomas Cunningham appeared personally before the Privy Council "to take a day for the pursuit of Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail upon such crimes as criminally they had to lay to his charge for themselves and in the name of the gentlemen- ventuaries of their society," and the 26th of September was fixed for the purpose.
On the 14th of September Kenneth enters into a bond for a thousand merks that John Dunbar, Fiar of Avoch, and James Dunbar of Little Suddie, four sons of John of Avoch, and several others, in five hundred merks each, that they will not harm Roderick Dingwall of Kildin, Duncan Bayne, apparent heir of Tulloch, Alexander Bayne of Loggie, and other sons and grandsons of Bayne of Tulloch.
Sir James Stewart of Newton enters into a bond, on the 6th of October, for six hundred merks that Kenneth will not harm James Crambie, a burgess of Perth, signed at Dunkeld in presence of Murdo Mackenzie, apparent heir of Redcastle, John Mackenzie, minister of Dingwall, and Alexander Mackenzie, writer.
On the 16th of April, 1600, Tormod Macleod complains that Kenneth had apprehended him and detained him as a prisoner without just cause, and failing to appear the King and Council, understanding that Tormod "is a chief and special man of that clan (Macleod), and that therefore it is necessary that order be taken for his dutiful obedience and good behaviour," order Kenneth to present him before the Council on a day to be afterwards fixed.
Kenneth, on the 11th of December, brings under the notice of the Council a case which places the unlawful practices of the times in a strong light. He says that upon the 16th of October preceding, while Duncan MacGillechallum in Kintail, his man, was bringing twenty-four cows to the fair of Glammis, three men, whose names he gives, violently robbed him of the cattle. Upon the 1st of November, 1599, the same persons had reft Duncan MacGillechriosd in Kintail, his tenant, at the fair of Elycht, of twenty-six cows and four hundred merks of silver, and robbed Murdo Mac Ian Mhic Mhurchaidh, also his tenant in Kintail, of twenty-six cows at the same market. On the 30th of October, 1600, he sent his servants, John and Dougall MacVanish, in Lochalsh, to the fair of Elycht with a hundred and fifty-four cows and oxen to be sold, "for outred and certane the said complenaris adois in thir pairtis," and his servants being at the foot of Drummuir with his said cattle, two of the three who robbed his men at Glammis, with Patrick Boll in Glenshee, and Alexander Galld Macgregor, took from them the whole of the cattle and "hes sparpellit and disponit" upon the same at their pleasure. This violence and rief at free markets and fairs, he says, is not only hurtful to him, but it "discourages all peaceable and good subjects to direct or send any goods to the market and fairs of the incountry." Kenneth Mackenzie of Kilchrist appeared for Kintail, and the defenders, in absence, were denounced rebels.
He is ordered on the 31st of January, 1602, as one of the leading Highland chiefs, to hold a general muster and wapinschaw of his followers each year within his bounds, on the 10th of March, as the other chiefs are in their respective districts. On the same day he is requested to provide a hundred men to aid the Queen of England "against the rebels in Ireland;" is authorised to raise this number compulsorily, if need be, and appoint the necessary officers to command them. On the 28th of July following, Alexander Dunbar of Cumnock, Sheriff-Principal of Elgin and Forres, and David Brodie of Brodie, become cautioners to the amount of three thousand merks that Kenneth will appear before the King and Council, when charged with some unnamed offence, upon twenty days warning. On the 9th of September Mackenzie complains to the Council that about St Andrews Day, 1601, when he sent eighty cattle to the St. Andrew market for sale, Campbell of Glenlyon, with a large number of his men, "all thieves and broken Highland men," had set upon his servants and spuilzied them of the whole; and that eighty cattle he had sent to the Michaelmas market had been reft from him in the same way by the said Campbell, for which Duncan Campbell, younger of Glenlyon, having failed to produce his father, who "was in his custody and keeping," was denounced a rebel.
There being some variance and controversy "between Mackenzie and Donald Mac Angus of Glengarry, they were both ordered at the same meeting of Council to subscribe, within three hours after being charged, such forms of mutual assurance as should be presented to them, to endure till the 1st of May, 1603, under pain of rebellion.
By warrant of the King, Kenneth is admitted a member of the Privy Council and is sworn in, in common form, on the 9th of December, 1602. On the following day he gives caution for James Dunbar of Little Suddie, and John Dunbar, Fiar of Avoch, in two hundred merks, for their relaxation by the 1st of February next from several hornings used against them.
At a meeting of the Privy Council, held at Edinburgh on the 30th of September, 1605, Kenneth receives a commission to act for the King against Neil MacNeill of Barra, the Captain of Clanranald, and several other Highland and Island chiefs, who had "of late amassed together a force and company of the barbarous and rebellious thieves and limmers of the Isles," and with them entered the Lewis, "assailed the camp of his Majesty's good subjects," and "committed barbarous and detestable murders and slaughters upon them." Mackenzie is in consequence commissioned to convocate the lieges in arms and to pursue these offenders with fire and sword by sea or land, "take and slay them," or present them to their Lordships for justice, with power also to the said Kenneth to pass to the Lewis for thc relief of the subjects "distressed and grieved" by the said rebellious "lymmairis," or of prisoners in their hands, and to procure their liberty by "force or policy, as he may best have it." He is also ordered to charge the lieges within the shires of Inverness and Nairn, burgh and landward, to rise and assist him in the execution of his office, whenever he requires them, "by his precepts and proclamations." This was the beginning of Kenneth's second conquest of the Lewis.
Mackenzie is, on the 2nd of June, 1607, appointed by the Privy Council, along with the Bishop of Ross, a commissioner to the Presbyteries of Tam and Ardmeanach, and on the 14th of July following, he is summoned before their Lordships to report his diligence in that matter, under pain of rebellion. Kenneth does not appear, and he is denounced a rebel. On the 30th of July he takes the oath of allegiance, along with the Earl of Wyntoun and James Bishop of Orkney, in terms of a Royal letter issued on the 2nd of June preceding imposing a special oath acknowledging the Royal Supremacy in Church and state on all Scotsmen holding any civic or ecclesiastical office.
He receives another commission on the 1st of September, 1607. Understanding that "Neil Macleod and others, the rebellious thieves and limmers of the Isles, have of late surprised and taken the Castle of Stornoway in the Lewis, and other houses and biggings, pertaining to the gentlemen portioners of the Lewis, and have demolished and cast down some of the said houses, and keep others of them as houses of war, victualled and fortified with men and armour, and in the meantime commit barbarous and detestable insolencies and cruelties upon so many of the poor inhabitants of that country as gave their obedience to his Majesty," the Lords give commission to Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail to convocate the lieges in arms pass to the Lewis, and pursue the said Neil Macleod with fire and sword, using all kinds of "warlike engines" for recovering the houses, and having power to keep trysts and intercommune with the inhabitants of the Isles. This commission is to continue in force for six months.
Mackenzie is one of the Highland chiefs to whom missive letters are ordered to be sent on the 23rd of June, 1608, to attend his Majesty's service under Lord Ochiltree, at Troternish, in the Isle of Skye, on the 20th of August following, on which occasion the soldiers must "furnish themselves with powder and bullets out of their own pay, and not out of the King's charges." It is ordered at a meeting of the Privy Council held on the 6th of February, 1609, that he, along with Simon Lord Lovat, Grant of Grant, the Earl of Caithness, Ross of Balnagown, John Mackenzie of Gairloch, and others, be charged to appear personally before their Lordships on the 25th of March following, to come under such order as shall be prescribed to them touching the finding of surety and caution for the quietness and obedience of their bounds, and that no fugitive and disobedient Islesmen shall be reset or supplied within the same, under pain of rebellion and horning. He appears, with some of the others, before the Council on the 28th of March, and gives the necessary bond, but the amount in his case is not named. On the 7th of April, however, it appears that he and Grant become personally bound for each other, in L4000 each, that those for whom they are answerable shall keep the King's peace and that they will not reset or favour any fugitives from the Isles. Kenneth becomes similarly bound in L3000 for John Mackenzie of Gairloch and Donald Neilsoun Macleod of Assynt.
He was one of the eight Lesser Barons who constituted the Lords of the Articles in the Scottish Parliament which met for the first time on the 17th of June, 1609.
The Privy Council, on the 22nd of the same month, committed to the Earl of Glencairn and Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail the charge of conveying Hector Maclean of Duart from the Castle of Dumbarton to Edinburgh and bringing him before their Lordships, "for order to be taken with him anent the affairs of the Isles, and they became bound in L20,000 to produce him on the first Council day after the end of that year's Parliament. On the 28th of the same month they enter formally into a bond to this amount that Maclean will appear on the first Thursday of November, he, in turn, binding himself and his heirs for their relief. On the 22nd of February, 1610, the bond is renewed for Maclean's appearance on the first Council day after that date. He appears on the 28th of June following, and Mackenzie and the Earl of Glencairn are released from their cautionary obligations.
On the 30th of June, 1609, Kenneth and Sir George become cautioners for Donald Gorm Macdonald of Sleat to the amount of L10,000 that he will appear before the Lords Commissioners on the 2nd of February next, to come under their orders, and Kenneth is charged to keep Donald Gorm's brother's son, "who is now in his hands," until Macdonald presents himself before the Lords Commissioners. On the 22nd of February, 1610, this caution is repeated for Donald's appearance on the 8th of March. He appears and Mackenzie is finally relieved of the bond on the 28th of June following.
On the 5th of July, 1609, Mackenzie and Sir John Home of Coldenknowes, undertake, under a penalty of ten thousand merks, that George Earl of Caithness, shall make a free, peaceable, and sure passage to all his Majesty's lawful subjects through his country of Caithness, in their passage to and from Orkney.
At a meeting of the Council held on the 20th of February, 1610, a commission is granted to Simon Lord Lovat, Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, John Mackenzie of Gairloch, Hugh Mackay of Farr, and Roderick Mackenzie of Redcastle, to apprehend Allan Mac Donald Duibh Mhic Rory of Culnacnock, in Troternish, Isle of Skye, and several others, including "Murdo Mac Gillechallum, brother of Gillecallum Raasay, Laird of Raasay, Gillecallum Mac Rory Mhic Leoid, in Lewis, Norman Mac Ghillechallum Mhoir, there, and Rory Mac Ghillechallum Mhoir, his brother," all of whom "remain unrelaxed from a horning of 18th January last, raised against them by Christian, Nighean Ian Leith, relict of Donald Mac Alastair Roy, in Dibaig," Murdo, his son, his other kin and friends, tenant and servants, "for not finding caution to answer before the justice for the stealing of forty cows and oxen, with all the insight and plenishing of the said late Donald Mac Alastair's house in Dibaig, worth 1000, and for murdering the said Donald," his tenant, and servants. The Commissioners are to convocate the lieges in arms for apprehending the said rebels, and to enter them, when taken, before the justice to be suitably punished for their crimes. Another commission is issued in favour of Simon Lord Lovat, Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, Donald Gorm Macdonald of Sleat, and Donald Mac Allan Mhic Ian of Eilean Tirrim, Captain of Clanranald, against John Mac Allan Mac Ranald, who is described as "having this long time been a murderer, common thief, and masterful oppressor" of the King's subjects.
Although Kenneth had been raised to the Peerage on the 19th of November, 1609, by the title of Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, he is not so designated in the Privy Council Records until the 31st of May, 1610, when the patent of his creation is read and received by their Lordships, and he is thereupon acknowledged to be a free baron in all time coming. He is one of the Highland chiefs charged and made answerable for good rule in the North on the 28th of June of that year and to find caution within fifteen days, under pain of rebellion, not to reset within their bounds any notorious thieves, rievers, fugitives, and rebels, for theft and murder, under a further penalty, in Mackenzie's case, of five thousand merks.
At a meeting of the Privy Council held on the 19th of July, 1610, the following commission was issued in Kenneth's favour as justiciary of the Lewis, against Neil Macleod:
Forasmuch as a number of the chieftains and principal men of the Isles and continent next adjacent are come in and presented themselves before the Lords of his Majesty's Privy Council, and have given satisfaction unto the said Lords anent their obedience and conformity in time coming, so as that now there is no part of the Isles rebellious and disobedient but the Lewis, which being possessed and inhabited by a number of thieves, murderers, and an infamous byke of lawless and insolent limmers under the charge and command of the traitor Neil Macleod, who has usurped upon him the authority and possession of the Lewis, and they, concurring altogether in a rebellious society, do commit many murders, slaughters, riefs, and villianies, not only among themselves but upon his Majesty's peaceable and good subjects who resorted among them in their trade of fishing, and by their barbarous and savage behaviour against his Majesty's good subjects they have made the trade of fishing in the Lewis, which was most profitable for the whole country, to become always unprofitable, to the great hurt of the commonweal. And the Lords of Secret Council finding it a discredit to the country that such a parcel of ground, possessed by a number of miserable caitiffs, shall be suffered to continue rebellious, whereas the whole remanent Isles are become peaceable and obedient, and the said Lords understand the good affection of Kenneth, Lord Kintail and his willing disposition to undergo all pains and trouble in his Majesty's service. Therefore the said Lords has made and constituted, and by the tenour hereof makes and constitutes, the said Kenneth Lord Kintail, his Majesty's justice and commissioner over the whole boundaries of the Lewis, to the effect under-written, with full power, commission, and authority to him to convocate his Majesty's lieges in arms, to levy and take up men of war, to appoint captains and commanders over them, and with them to pass to the Lewis, and there, with tire and sword, and all kind of hostility, to search, seek, hunt, follow, and pursue the said Neil, his accomplices, assistants, and partakers, by sea and land, wherever they may be apprehended, and to mell, confiscate, and intromit with their goods and gear, and to dispone thereupon at their pleasure, and to keep such of their persons as shall be taken in sure firmance till justice he ministered upon them, conform to the laws of this realm, courts of justiciary within the said bounds to sit, begin, affix, hold, and continue suits to be made called "absentis to amerchiat," trespasses to punish, all and sundry persons inhabitants of the Lewis suspected and delayed of murder, slaughter, fire-raising, theft, and reset of theft, and other capital crimes, to search, seek, take, apprehend, commit to prison, and to enter them upon panel by dittay to accuse them, and to put them to the knowledge of an assize, and as they shall happen to be found culpable or innocent of the said crimes, or any of them, to cause justice be administered upon them conform to the laws of this realm assize needful to this effect, each person under the pain of forty pounds, to summon, warn, chase, and cause be sworn, clerks, serjeants, dempsters, and all other officers and members of court needful, to make, create, substitute and ordain, for whom he shall be held to answer with power likewise to our said justice, for the better execution of this commission to take the lymphads, galleys, birlinns, and boats, in the next adjacent Isles, and in the Lewis, for the furtherance of them in their service, the said justice being always answerable to the owners of the said lymphads, galleys, birlinns, and bouts for redelivery of the same at the finishing of his Majesty's service with power likewise to the said justice and persons assisting him in the execution of this commission to bear, wear, and use hagbutis, pistols, and petards. And if in pursuit of this commission there shall happen slaughter, mutilation fire-raising, or any other inconvenience, to follow, the said Lords decern and declare that the same shall not be imputed as crime or offence to the said justice nor persons assisting him in the execution of this Commission, nor that they, nor none of them, shall not be called nor accused therefore criminally nor civilly by any manner of way in time coming; exonerating them of all pain, crime, and danger, that they may incur therethrough for ever. And generally all and sundry other things to do, exercise, and use, which for execution of this commission are requisite and necessary, firm, and stable, holding and for to hold all and whatsoever things shall be lawfully done herein. And that letters of publication be directed hereupon charging all his Majesty's lieges within the whole boundaries of the North Isles of this Kingdom and within the bounds of the said Lord's own lands, heritages, possessions, offices, and baillies, excepting always the persons of the name of Fraser, Ross, and Munro, their tenants and servants, to reverance. acknowledge, and obey, rise, concur, pass forward, fortify, and assist the said Kenneth, Lord Kintail, in all things tending to the execution of his commission, and to convene in arms with him at such times, days, and places, as he shall please appoint, as they and each one of them will answer upon their obedience at their highest peril. This commission for the space of two years after the date hereof, without revocation, to endure.
Soon after this, Neil apprehended a crew of English pirates who had been carrying on their nefarious traffic among the fishermen from the South and other places who frequented the prolific fishing banks, by which, then as now, the island was surrounded. This meritorious public service secured some consideration for him at Court, as appears from the following letter addressed to Lord Kintail under date of 29th August, 1610 -
After our very hearty commendations to your good Lordship: Whereas Neil Macleod in the Lewis has of late done some good service to his Majesty and the country by the taking and apprehension of certain English pirates upon the coast of the Lewis, common enemies to all lawful traffic, whereby he has merited his Majesty's grace and pardon in some measure to be shown unto him, and he having made promise and condition for delivery of the pirates and their ships to such persons as shall be directed by us to receive them we have thereupon given an assurance to him to come here to us and to remain at his pleasure until Whitsunday next, that some good course may be taken for settling him in quietness; and in this meantime we have promised that all hostility and persuit of him and his followers shall rest and cease until the said term, and also that we shall deal and trouble with your Lordship for some reasonable ease and condition to be given to him and his followers, all tenants to your Lordship of the lands and possessions claimed by them. And, we being careful that our word and promise made and given hereupon shall be effectual and valid we have therefore thought meet to acquaint your Lordship therewith, requesting your Lordship to forbear all persuit, trouble, and invasion of the said Neil and his followers until the said term, and that your Lordship will take some such course with them as upon reasonable conditions they may be received and acknowledged by your Lordship as tenants of those lands claimed by them. Wherein looking to find your Lordship conformable, we commit you to God.
Neil does not then appear to have gone to Edinburgh, but he gave up the pirate, the captain, and ten of her crew to Patrick Grieve, a burgess of Burntisland, who, on the 10th of September, received a commission "to sail with a hired ship" to the Lewis for that purpose. On the 10th of October, Macleod writes to the Council acknowledging receipt, "from this bearer, Patrick Grieve," of their Lordships' order upon him to deliver up the pirate and all her belongings.
On the 19th of July, the same day on which the Commission against Neil Macleod was granted to Lord Kintail, the Council "being careful that the present peace and quietness in the Isles shall be fostered, kept, and entertained, and all such occasions removed and taken away whereby any new disorder, trouble, or misrule may be reinstated within the same, has therefore thought meet that Rory Macleod, son to the late Torquil Dubh Macleod, who has been this long time in the keeping of Donald Gorm of Sleat, and (Torquil) Macleod, another of the said late Torquil's sons, who has been this long time in keeping of Rory Macleod of Harris, shall be delivered to Kenneth Lord Kintail, to be kept by him until the said Lord take order with them for their obedience." Charges are thereupon made upon the chiefs of Sleat and Harris "to bring, present, and deliver" Torquil Dubh's two sons, "in their keeping," to the Mackenzie chief, to be kept by him until such order is taken for their good behaviour. They are to be delivered within thirty days, under the usual pains of rebellion and horning.
He is one of the Commissioners of the Peace appointed by the King on the 6th of November, in 1610, in terms of a newly-passed Act of Parliament, for Inverness-shire (including Ross) and Cromarty, his colleagues from among the clan for these counties being Roderick Mackenzie of Redcastle, Roderick Mackenzie of Coigeach, and John Mackenzie of Gairloch. He was at the same time appointed in a similar capacity for Elgin, Forres, and Nairn.
Mackenzie had for some time kept Tormod Macleod, the lawful brother of Torquil Dubh, a prisoner, but he now released him, correctly premising that on his appearance in the Lewis all the islanders would rise in his favour. In the meantime, early in 1600, Murdoch Dubh was taken by the Fife Adventurers to St Andrews, and there put to death; but at his execution he revealed, in his confession, the designs of Mackenzie, who was in consequence apprehended and committed to Edinburgh Castle, from which, however, he contrived to escape without trial, through his influence with the Lord Chancellor.
There is an entry in the Records of the Privy Council under date of 15th August, 1599, which shows that Kintail must at an earlier date have been confined in Edinburgh Castle, for some previous offence, for "it having pleased the King to suffer Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail to repair furth of the Castle of Edinburgh for four or five miles, when he shall think expedient, for repose, health, and recreation" on caution being given by himself as principal, and Robert Lord Seton as surety, that he shall re-enter the Castle every night, under pain of ten thousand merks. The bond is signed on the same date, and is deleted by warrant signed by the King, and the Treasurer, on the 25th of September following.
After various battles had been fought between the brothers, the Adventurers returned in strong force to the island, armed with a commission of fire and sword, and all the Government power at their back, against Tormod. The fight between the combatants continued with varied success and failure on either side; the Adventurers again relinquished their settlement, and returned to Fife to bewail their losses, having solemnly promised never again to return to the Island or molest Mackenzie and his friends.
Kintail now, in virtue of Torquil Cononach's resignation in his favour, obtained a gift, under the Great Seal, of the Lewis for himself through the influence of the Lord Chancellor. This he had, however, ultimately to resign into the hands of the King, and his Majesty, in 1608, vested these rights in the persons of Lord Balmerino, Sir George Hay, and Sir James Spence, of Wormistoun, who undertook the colonisation of the island. For this purpose they made great preparations, and, assisted by the neighbouring tribes, invaded the Lewis for the double purpose of planting a colony in it and of subduing and apprehending Neil Macleod, who now alone defended it. Mackenzie dispatched his brother Roderick, and Alexander Mackenzie of Coul, with a party of followers numbering 400, ostensibly to aid the colonists now acting under the King's commission to whom he promised active friendship. At the same time he despatched a vessel from Ross loaded with provisions, but privately sent word to Neil Macleod to intercept her on the way, so that the settlers, being disappointed of their supply of the provisions to which they trusted for maintenance, should be obliged to abandon the island for want of the necessaries of life. Matters turned out exactly as Kintail anticipated. Sir George Hay and Sir James Spence (Lord Balmerino having meanwhile been convicted of high treason, and forfeited) abandoned the Lewis, leaving a party behind them to hold the garrison, and intending to send a fresh supply of men and provisions back to the island on their arrival in Fife. But Neil Macleod and his followers took and burnt the fort, apprehended its defenders, and sent them safely to their homes "on giving their oath that they would never come on that pretence again, which they never did." Finding this, the Adventurers gave up all hope of establishing themselves in the island, and sold their acquired rights therein, as also their share of the forfeited districts of Troternish and Waternish in Skye, to Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, who at the same time obtained a grant from the King of Balmerino's forfeited share of the Lewis, thus finally acquiring what he had so long and so anxiously desired. In addition to a fixed sum of money, Mackenzie granted the Adventurers "a lease of the woods of Letterewe, where there was an iron mine, which they wrought by English miners, casting guns and other implements till their fuel was exhausted and their lease expired." The King confirmed this agreement, and "to encourage Kintail and his brother Roderick in their work of civilizing the people of the Lewis," he elevated the former to the peerage as Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, on the 19th of November, 1609, at the same time conferring the honour of knighthood on his brother, Roderick Mor Mackenzie of Coigeach.
Referring to this period Mr Fraser-Tytler, in his "History of Scotland," says - "So dreadful indeed was now the state of those portions of his (the King's) dominions, that, to prevent an utter dissevering from the Scottish crown, something must be done, and many were the projects suggested. At one time the King resolved to proceed to the disturbed districts in person, and fix his headquarters in Kentire; at another, a deputy was to be sent, armed with regal powers; and twice the Duke of Lennox was nominated to this arduous office. The old plan, too, might have been repeated, of granting a Royal Commission to one or other of the northern "Reguli," who were ever prepared, under the plea of loyalty, to strengthen their own hands, and exterminate their brethren; but this, as had been often felt before, was to abandon the country to utter devastation; and a more pacific and singular policy was now adopted. One association of Lowland barons, chiefly from Fife, took a lease from the Crown of the Isle of Lewis, for which they agreed, after seven years' possession, to give the King an annual rent of one hundred and forty chalders of victual; and came under an obligation to conquer their farm at their own charges. Another company of noble-men and gentlemen in Lothian offered, under a similar agreement, to subdue Skye. And this kind of feudal joint-stock company actually commenced their operations with a force of six hundred soldiers, and a motley multitude of farmers, ploughmen, artificers, and pedlars. But the Celtic population and their haughty chiefs could not consent to be handed over, in this wholesale fashion, to the tender mercies and agricultural lectures of a set of Saxon adventurers. The Lowland barons arrived, only to be attacked with the utmost fury, and to have the leases of their farms, in the old Douglas phrase, written on their own skins with steel pens and bloody ink. For a time, however, they continued the struggle and having entered into alliance with some of the native chiefs, fought the Celts with their own weapons, and more than their own ferocity. Instead of agricultural and pastoral produce, importations of wool, or samples of grain, from the infant colony, there was sent to the Scottish Court a ghastly cargo of twelve human heads in sacks; and it was hoped that, after such an example of severity, matters might succeed better. But the settlers were deceived. After a feeble and protracted struggle for a few years, sickness and famine, perils by land and perils by water, incessant war, and frequent assassinations, destroyed the colony; and the three great western chiefs, Macdonald of Sleat, Macleod of Harris, and Mackenzie of Kintail, enjoyed the delight of seeing the principal gentlemen adventurers made captive by Tormod Macleod; who, after extorting from them a renunciation of their titles, and an oath never to return to the Lewis, dismissed them to carry to the Scottish Court the melancholy reflection that a Celtic population, and the islands on which it was scattered, were not yet the materials or the field for the further operations of the economists of Fife and Mid-Lothian."
In 1610 his Lordship returned to the Lewis with 700 men, and finally brought the whole island to submission, with the exception of Neil Macleod and a few of his followers, who retired to the rock of Berissay, and took possession of it. At this period religion must have been at a very low ebb - almost extinct among the inhabitants; and, to revive Christianity among them, his Lordship selected and took along with him the Rev. Farquhar Macrae, a native of Kintail and minister of Gairloch, [He brought with him Mr Farquhar Macrae, who was then a young man and minister of Gairloch and appointed by the Bishop of Ross (Lesley) to stay with Sir George Hay and the Englishmen that were with him in Letterewe, being a peaceful and eloquent preacher. - "Ardintoul MS."] who had been recommended to the latter charge by the bishop of Ross. Mr Macrae found quite enough to do on his arrival in the island, but he appears to have been very successful among the uncivilised natives; for he reports having gained many over to Christianity; baptised a large number in the fortieth year of their age; and, to legitimise their children, marrying many others to those women with whom they had been for years cohabiting. Leaving the reverend gentleman in the prosecution of his mission, his Lordship returned home, having established good order in the island, and promising to return again the following year, to the great satisfaction of the people.
Some time before this Alexander MacGorrie and Ranald MacRory, sons of Glengarry's uncles murdered in 1580 in Lochcarron, having arrived at maturity, and being brave and intrepid fellows, determined to revenge upon Mackenzie the death of their parents. With this object they went to Appelcross, where lived one of the murderers, John Og, son of Angus, MacEachainn, surrounded his house, and set fire to it, burning to death himself and his whole family. Kintail sought redress from Glengarry, who, while he did not absolutely refuse, did not grant it or punish the wrong-doers; and encouraged by Glengarry's eldest son, Angus, who had now attained his majority, the cousins, taking advantage of the absence of Mackenzie, who had gone on a visit to France, continued their depredations and insolence wherever they found opportunity. Besides, they made a complaint against him to the Privy Council, whereupon he was charged at the pier of Leith to appear before the Council on an appointed day under pain of forfeiture. In this emergency, Mr John Mackenzie, minister of Dingwall, went privately to France in search of his chief, whom he found and brought back in the most secret manner to Edinburgh, fortunately in time to present himself next day after his arrival before the Council, in terms of the summons at Glengarry's instance; and, after consulting his legal adviser and other friends, he appeared quite unexpectedly before their Lordships.
Meantime, while the gentlemen were on their way from France, Alexander MacGorrie and Alexander MacRory killed in his bed Donald Mackenneth Mhic Alastair, a gentleman of the family of Davochmaluag, who lived at Kishorn. The shirt, covered with his blood, had been sent to Edinburgh to await the arrival of Mackenzie, who the same day presented it before the Privy Council, as evidence of the foul crime committed by his accusers. Glengarry was unable to prove anything material against Kintail or his followers. On the contrary, the Rev. John Mackenzie, of Dingwall, charged Glengarry with being instrumental in the murder of John Og and his family at Applecross, as also in that of Donald Mackenzie of Davochmaluag, and undertook not only to prove this, but also that he was a sorner, an oppressor of his own and of his neighbours' tenants, an idolater, who had a man in Lochbroom making images, in testimony of which he carried south the image of St. Coan, which Glengarry worshipped, called in Edinburgh Glengarry's god, and which was, by public order, burnt at the Town Cross that Glengarry was a man who lived in constant adultery with the Captain of Clan Ranald's daughter, after he had put away Grant of Grant's daughter, his lawful wife; whereupon Glengarry was summoned there and then to appear next day before the Council, and to lodge defences to this unexpected charge. He naturally became alarmed, and fearing the worst, fled from the city during the night, "took to his heels," and gave up further legal proceedings against Mackenzie. Being afterwards repeatedly summoned, and failing to put in an appearance, most of the charges were found proven against him; and in 1602, [Records of Privy Council, 9th September, 1602; Sir Robert Gordon's Earldom of Sutherland, p. 248; Letterfearn, Ardintoul, and other MS. Histories of the Mackenzies.] he was declared outlaw and rebel; a commission of fire and sword was granted to Mackenzie against him and all his followers, with a decree of ransom for the loss of those who were burnt and plundered by him, and for Kintail's charges and expenses, making altogether a very large sum. But while these legal matters were being arranged, Angus Macdonald, younger of Glengarry, who was of a restless, daring disposition, went along with some of his followers under silence of night to Kintail, burnt the township of Cro, killed and burnt several men, women, and children, and carried away a large spoil of cattle.
Mackenzie, hearing of this sudden raid, became much concerned about the loss of his Kintail tenants, and decided to requite the quarrel by at once executing his commission against the Macdonalds of Glengarry, and immediately set out in pursuit, leaving a sufficient number of men at home to secure the safety of his property. He took along with him a force of seventeen hundred men, at the same time taking three hundred cows from his farm of Strathbraan to maintain his followers. Ross of Balnagowan sent a party of a hundred and eighty men, under command of Alexander Ross of Invercharron, to aid his neighbour of Kintail, while John Gordon of Embo commanded a hundred and twenty men sent to his aid by the Earl of Sutherland, in virtue of the long standing bond of manrent which existed between the two families; but Sir John "retired at Monar, growing faint-hearted before he saw the enemie". Andrew Munro of Novar also accompanied Kintail on this, as on several previous expeditions. The Macdonalds, hearing of Mackenzie's approach, drove all their cattle to Monar, where they gathered in strong force to guard them. Kintail, learning this, marched straight where they were; harried and wasted all the country through which he had to pass; defeated and routed the Macdonalds, and drove into Kintail the largest booty ever heard of in the Highlands of Scotland, "both of cows, horses, small bestial, duinuasals, and plenishing, which he most generously distributed amongst his soldiers, and especially amongst such strangers as were with him, so that John Gordon of Embo was at his repentance for his return." Mackenzie had only two men killed in this expedition, though a few of the Kintail men, whom he caused to be carried home on litters, were wounded.
Several instances are recorded of the prowess and intrepidity of Alexander of Coul on this occasion. He was, excepting John MacMhurchaidh Mhic Gillechriost, the fastest runner in the Mackenzie country. On his way to Kintail, leading his men and driving the creach before them, he met three or four hundred Camerons, who sent Mackenzie a message demanding "a bounty of the booty" for passing through their territory. This Kenneth was about to grant, and ordered thirty cows and a few of the younger animals to be given, saying that it "was fit that hungry dogs should get a collop;" whereupon Alexander of Coul and his brave band of one hundred and twenty followers started aside and swore with a great oath that if the Camerons dared to take away a single head, they would, before night, pay dearly for them, and have to light for their collop; for he and his men, he said, had already nearly lost their lives driving them through a wild and narrow pass where eighteen of the enemy fell to their swords before they were able to get the cattle through; but he would now let them pass in obedience to his chief's commands. The messengers, hearing the ominous threat, notwithstanding Kenneth's personal persuasion, declined on any account to take the cattle, and marched away "empty as they came."
Before starting from home on this expedition Kintail drove every one of Glengarry's followers out of their holdings in Lochalsh and Lochcarron, except a few of the "Mathewsons and the Clann Jan Uidhir," and any others who promised to submit to him and engaged to prove their sincerity by "imbrowing their bands in the enemy's blood." The Castle of Strome, however, still continued in possession of the Macdonalds.
Mackenzie, after his return home, had not well dissolved his camp when Alexander MacGorrie and Ranald MacRory made an incursion to the district of Kenlochewe, and there meeting some women and children who had fled from Lochcarron with their cattle, he attacked them unexpectedly, killed several of the defenceless women, all the male children, slaughtered and took away many of the cattle, and "houghed" all they were not able to carry along with them.
In the following autumn, Alexander MacGorrie made a voyage to Applecross in a great galley, contrary to the advice of all his friends, who looked upon that place as a sanctuary which all Highlanders had hitherto respected as the property of the Church. Notwithstanding that many took refuge in it in the past, he was the first man who ever pursued a fugitive to the place, "but," says our authority, "it fared no better with him or he rested, but be being informed that some Kintail men, whom he thought no sin to kill anywhere," bad taken refuge there with their cattle, he determined to kill them, but on his arrival he found only two poor fellows, tending their cows. These he murdered, slaughtered all the cows, and took away as many of them as his boat would carry.
A few days after this, Glengarry combined with the Clann Alain of Moydart (whose chief was at the time captain of Clan Ranald's men), the Clann Ian Uidhir, and several others of the Macdonalds, who gathered together amongst them thirty-seven birlinns with the intention of sailing to Lochbroom, and on their return to burn and harry the whole of the Mackenzie territories on the west coast. Coming to an arm of the sea on the east side of Kyleakin called Loch na Beist, opposite Lochalsh, they sent Alexander MacGorrie forward with eighty men in a large galley to examine the coast in advance of the main body. They first landed i Applecross, in the same spot where MacGorrie had previously killed the two Kintail men. Kenneth was at the time on a visit to Mackenzie of Gairloch, at his house on Island Rory in Loch-Maree, and hearing of Glengarry's approach and the object of his visit, he ordered all his coasts to be placed in readiness, and sent Alexander Mackenzie of Achilty with sixteen men and eight oarsmen, in an eight oared galley belonging to John Tolmach Macleod, son of Rory, son of Allan Macleod, who still possessed a small portion of Gairloch, to watch the enemy and examine the coast as far as Kylerhea. John Tolmach himself accompanied them, in charge of the galley. On their way south they landed by the merest chance at Applecross, on the north side of the point at which MacGorrie landed, where they noticed a woman gathering shellfish on the shore, and who no sooner saw them than she came forward and informed them that a great galley had landed in the morning on the other side of the promontory. This they at once suspected to contain an advanced scout of the enemy, and, ordering their boat round the point, in charge of the oarsmen, they took the shortest cut across the neck of land, and, when half way along, they met one of Macdonald's sentries lying sound asleep on the ground. He was soon sent to his long rest; and the Mackenzies blowing up a set of bagpipes found lying beside him, rushed towards the Macdonalds, who, suddenly surprised and alarmed by the sound of the Piob mhor, and thinking a strong force was falling down upon them, fled to their boat, except MacGorrie, who, when he left it, swore a great oath that he would never return with his back to the enemy; but finding it impossible single-handed to resist, he retired a little, closely followed by the Mackenzies who furiously attacked him. He was now forced to draw aside to a rock, against which he placed his back, and fought right manfully, defending himself with extraordinary intrepidity, receiving the enemy's arrows in his targe. He was ultimately wounded by an arrow which struck him under the belt, yet no one dared to approach him; but John Dubh Mac Choinnich Mhic Mhurchaidh noticing his amazing agility, observing that his party had arrived with the boat, and fearing they would lose Glengarry's galley unless they at once pursued it, went round to the back of the rock against which the brave Macdonald stood, carrying a great boulder, which he dropped straight on to MacGorrie's head, instantly killing him. Thus died the most skilful and best chieftain - had he possessed equal wisdom and discretion - then alive among the Macdonalds of Glengarry.
The Mackenzies immediately took to their boat, pursuing Macdonald's galley to Loch na Beist, where, noticing the enemy's whole fleet coming out against them, John Tolmach Macleod recommended his men to put out to sea; but finding the fleet gaining upon them, they decided to land in Applecross, where they were nearly overtaken by the enemy. They were obliged to leave their boat and run for their lives, hotly pursued by the Macdonalds; and were it not that one of Mackenzie's men - John Mac Rory Mhic Mhurchaidh Mathewson - was so well acquainted with the ground, and led them to a ford on the river between two rocks, which the Macdonalds missed, and the night coming on, they would have been unable to escape with their lives. The Macdonalds retraced their steps to their boats, and on the way discovered the body of Alexander MacGorrie, whose death "put their boasting to mourning," and conceiving his fate ominous of additional misfortunes, they, carrying him along with them, prudently returned home, and disbanded all their followers. In the flight of the Mackenzies Alexander of Achilty, being so stout that he fainted on the way, was nearly captured. John MacChoinnich, who noticed him falling, threw some water on him, and, drawing his sword, swore that he would kill him on the spot if he did not get up at once rather than that the enemy should have the honour of killing or capturing him. They soon arrived at Gairloch's house in the island on Loch-Maree, and gave a full account of their expedition, whereupon Kintail at once decided upon taking active measures against the Macdonalds. In the meantime he was assured that they had returned to their own country. He soon returned home, and found that the people of Kintail and Glengarry, tiring of those incessant slaughters and mutual injuries, agreed, during his absence, in the month of May, to cease hostilities until the following Lammas. Of this agreement Kintail knew nothing; and young Glengarry, who was of an exceedingly bold and restless disposition, against the earnest solicitations of his father, who became a party to this agreement between his people and those of Kintail, started with a strong force to Glenshiel and Letterfearn, while Allan Macdonald of Lundy with another party went to Glenelchaig, harried those places, took away a large number of cattle, and killed some of the aged men, several women, and all the male children. They found none of the principal and able-bodied men, who had withdrawn some distance that they might with greater advantage gather together in a body and defend themselves, except Duncan MacIan Mhic Ghillechallum in Killichirtorn, whom the enemy apprehended, and would have killed, had not one of the Macdonalds, formerly his friend and acquaintance, prevailed upon young Glengarry to save his life, and send him to the Castle of Strome, where he still had a garrison, rather than kill him.
The successful result of this expedition encouraged Angus so much that he began to think fortune had at last turned in his favour, and he set out and called personally upon all the chief and leaders of the various branches of the Macdonalds in the west, soliciting their assistance against the Mackenzies, which they all agreed to give him in the following spring.
This soon came to Mackenzie's knowledge, who was at the time residing in Ellandonnan Castle; and fearing the consequences of such a powerful combination against him, he went privately to Mull by sea to consult his brother-in-law, Hector Og Maclean of Duart, to whom he told that he had a commission of fire and sword against "the rebels of Glengarry and such as would rise in arms to assist them, and being informed that the Macdonalds near him (Maclean) had combined to join them, and to put him to further trouble, that, therefore, he would, not only as a good subject but as his fast friend, divert these whenever they should rise in arms against him." [Ardintoul MS.] Maclean undertook to prevent the assistance of the Clan Ranald of Isla and the Macdonalds of Glencoe and Ardnamurchan, by, if necessary, invading their territories, and thus compelling them to protect their own interests at home. It appears that old Glengarry was still anxious to arrange a permanent peace with Mackenzie; but his son Angus, restless and turbulent as ever, would not hear of any peaceful settlement, and determined to start at once upon an expedition, from which his father told him at the time he had little hopes of his ever returning alive - a prediction which turned out only too true.
Angus, taking advantage of Mackenzie's absence in Mull, gathered, in the latter end of November, as secretly as be could, all the boats and great galleys within his reach, and, with this large fleet loaded with his followers passed through the Kyles under silence of night; and, coming to Lochcarron, he sent his marauders ashore in the twilight. The inhabitants perceiving them, escaped to the hills, but the Macdonalds cruelly slaughtered all the aged men who could not escape, and many of the women and children seized all the cattle, and drove them to the Island of Slumbay, where their boats which they filled with the carcases lay. Before, however, they had fully loaded, the alarm having gone through the districts of Lochalsh and Kintail, some of the natives of those districts were seen marching in the direction of Lochcarron. The Macdonalds deemed it prudent to remain no longer, and set out to sea pursued by a shower of arrows by way of farewell, which, however, had little effect upon them, as they were already out of range.
The Kintail men, by the shortest route, now returned to Ellandonnan, sending twelve of the swiftest of their number across country to Inverinate, where lay, newly built, a twelve-oared galley, which had never been to sea, belonging to Gillecriost MacDhonnchaidh, one of Inverinate's tenants. These heroes made such rapid progress that they were back at the castle with the boat before many of their companions arrived from Lochcarron. During the night they set to work, superintended and encouraged by Lady Mackenzie in person, to make arrangements to go out and meet the enemy. The best men were quickly picked. The Lady supplied them with all the materials and necessaries for the journey within her reach, handed them the lead and powder with her own hands, and gave them two small pieces of brass ordnance. She ordered Duncan MacGillechriost, a powerful handsome fellow, to take command of the galley in his father's absence, and in eloquent terms charged them all with the honour of her house and her own protection in her husband's absence. This was hardly necessary, for the Kintail men had not yet forgotten the breach of faith which had been committed by Macdonald regarding the recent agreement to cease hostilities for a stated time, and other recent sores. Her ladyship having wished them God-speed, they started on their way rejoicing and in the best of spirits. She mounted the castle walls, and stood there encouraging them until, by the darkness of the night, she could no longer see them.
On their way towards Kylerhea they met a boat from Lochalsh sent out to inform them of the enemy's arrival at Kyleakin. Learning this, they cautiously kept their course close to the south side of the loch. It was a calm moonlight night, with occasional slight showers of snow. The tide had already begun to flow, and, judging that the Macdonalds would await the next turning of the tide to enable them to get through Kylerhea, the Kintail men, longing for their prey, resolved to advance and meet them. They had not proceeded far, rowing very gently, after placing seaweed in the rowlocks so as not to make a noise, when they noticed a boat, rowing at the hardest, coming in their direction; but from its small size they thought it must have been sent by the Macdonalds in advance to test the passage of Kylerhea. They therefore allowed it to pass unmolested, and proceeded northward, looking for Macdonald's own galley. As they neared the Cailleach, a low rock midway between both Kyles, it was observed in the distance covered with snow. The night also favoured them, the sea, calm, appearing black and mournful to the enemy. Here they met Macdonald's first galley, and drawing up near it, they soon discovered it to be no other than his own great birlinn, some distance ahead of the rest of the fleet. Macdonald, as soon as he noticed them, called out "Who is there?" twice in succession, but receiving no answer, and finding the Kintail men drawing nearer, he called out the third time, when, in reply, he received a full broadside from Mackenzie's cannon, which disabled his galley and threw her on the Cailleach Rock.
The men on board Macdonald's galley thought they had been driven on shore, and flocked to the fore part of the boat, striving to escape, thus capsizing and filling the birlinn. Discovering their position, and seeing a long stretch of sea lying between them and the mainland, they became quite confused, and were completely at the mercy of their enemies, who sent some of their men ashore to despatch any of the poor wretches who might swim ashore, while others remained in their boat killing and drowning the Macdonalds. Such of them as managed to reach the land were also killed or drowned by those of the Kintail men who went ashore, not a soul out of the sixty men on board the galley having escaped except Angus Macdonald himself still breathing, though he had been wounded twice in the head and once in the body. He was yet alive when they took him aboard their galley, but he died before morning. Hearing the uproar, several of the Lochalsh people went out with all speed in two small boats, under command of Dugall Mac Mhurchaidh Matthewson, to take part in the fray; but by the time they arrived at the scene of action few of Macdonald's followers were alive. Thus ended the career of Angus, younger of Glengarry, a chief to whom his followers looked up, and whom they justly regarded as a bold and intrepid leader, though deficient in prudence and strategy.
The remainder of Macdonald's fleet, to the number of twenty-one, following behind his own galley, having heard the uproar, returned to Kyleakin in such terror and confusion that each thought his nearest neighbour was pursuing him. Landing in Strathardale, they left their boats "and their ill-cooked beef to these hungry gentlemen," and before they slept they arrived in Sleat, from whence they were sent across to the mainland in the small boats of the laird.
The great concern and anxiety of her ladyship of Ellandonnan can be easily conceived, for all that she had yet learnt was the simple fact that an engagement of some kind had taken place, and this she only knew from having heard the sound of cannon during the night. Early in the morning she noticed her protectors returning with their birlinn, accompanied by another great galley. This brightened her hopes, and going down to the shore to meet them, she heartily saluted them, and asked if all had gone well with them. "Yea, Madam," answered their leader, Duncan MacGillechriost, "we have brought you a new guest, without the loss of a single man, whom we hope is welcome to your ladyship." She looked into the galley, and at once recognising the body of Angus of Glengarry, she ordered it to be carried ashore and properly attended to. The men proposed that he should be buried in the tomb of his predecessors, "Cnoc nan Aingeal," in Lochalsh; but this she objected to, observing that, if he could, her husband would never allow a Macdonald, dead or alive, any further possession in that locality, at the same time ordering young Glengarry to be buried with her own children, and such other children of the predecessors of the Mackenzies of Kintail as were buried in Kilduich, saying that she considered it no disparagement for him to be buried with such cousins; and if it were her own fate to die in Kintail, she would desire to be interred amongst them. The proposal was agreed to, and everything having been got ready suitable for the funeral of a gentleman of his rank-such as the place could afford in the circumstances-he was buried next day in Kilduich, in the same tomb as Mackenzie's own children. This is not the most generally received account regarding Angus Macdonald's burial; but we are glad, for the credit of our common humanity, to find the following conclusive testimony in an imperfect but excellently written MS. of the seventeenth century, otherwise remarkably correct and trustworthy: "Some person, out of what reason I cannot tell, will needs affirm he was buried in the church door, as men go out and in, which to my certain knowledge is a malicious lie, for with my very eyes I have seen his head raised out of the same grave and returned again, wherein there was two small cuts, noways deep." [Ancient MS.]
The author of the Ardintoul MS. informs us that MacLean had actually invaded Ardnamurchan, and carried fire and sword into that and the adjoining territory of the Macdonalds, whereupon the Earl of Argyll, who claimed the Macdonalds of those districts as his vassals and dependants, obtained criminal letters against MacLean, who, finding this, sent for his brother-in-law, Mackenzie of Kintail, at whose request he had invaded the country of the Macdonalds. Both started for Inveraray. The Earl seemed most determined to punish MacLean, but Mackenzie informed him that "he should rather be blamed for it than MacLean, and the King and Council than either of them, for he having obtained, upon good grounds, a commission of fire and sword against Glengarry and such as would assist him, and against these men's rebellious and wicked courses, which frequently his lordship seemed to own, that he did charge, as he did several others of the king's loyal subjects, MacLean to assist him." So that, if Maclean was to be punished for acting as his friend and as a loyal subject, he hoped to obtain a hearing before the King and Council under whose orders he acted. After considerable discussion they parted good friends, Argyll having agreed not to molest MacLean any further. Mackenzie and MacLean returned to Duart, where his lordship was warmly received and sumptuously entertained by MacLean's immediate friends and kinsmen for the service which he had just rendered to their chief. While thus engaged, a messenger arrived at the castle from Mackenzie's lady and the Kintail men.
After the funeral of young Angus of Glengarry, she became concerned about her husband's safe return, and was at the same time most anxious that he should be advised of the state of matters at home. She therefore despatched Robert Mac Dhomh'uill Uidhir to arrange the safest plan for bringing her lord safely home, as the Macdonalds were still prowling among the creeks and bays further south. Robert, after the interchange of unimportant preliminaries, on his arrival in Mull, informed his master of all that had taken place during his absence. MacLean, surprised to hear of such gallant conduct by the Kintail men in the absence of their chief, asked Mackenzie if any of his own kinsmen were amongst them, and being informed they were not, Maclean replied, "It was a great and audacious deed to be done by fellows." "Truly, MacLean," returned Mackenzie, "they were not fellows that were there, but prime gentlemen, and such fellows as would act the enterprise better than myself and kinsmen." "You have very great reason to make the more of them," said Maclean; "he is a happy superior who has such a following." Both chiefs then went outside to consult as to the best and safest means for Mackenzie's homeward journey. MacLean offered him all his chief and best men to accompany him by land, but this he declined, saying that he would not put his friend to such inconvenience, and would return home in his own boat just as he came; but he was ultimately persuaded to take MacLean's great galley, his own being only a small one. He sailed in his friend's great birlinn, under the command of the Captain of Cairnburgh, accompanied by several other gentlemen of the MacLeans.
In the meantime, the Macdonalds, aware that Mackenzie had not yet returned from Mull, "convened all the boats and galleys they could, to a certain island which lay in his course, and which he could not avoid passing. So, coming within sight of the island, having a good prospect of a number of boats, after they bad ebbed in a certain harbour, and men also making ready to set out to sea. This occasioned the captain to use a stratagem, and steer directly to the harbour, and still as they came forward he caused lower the sail, which the other party perceiving made them forbear putting out their boats, persuading themselves that it was a galley they expected from Ardnamurchan, but they had no sooner come forgainst the harbour but the captain caused hoist sail, set oars and steers aside, immediately bangs up a bagpiper and gives them shots. The rest, finding the cheat and their own mistake, made such a hurly-burly setting out their boats, with their haste they broke some of them, and some of themselves were bruised and bad broken shins also for their prey, and such as went out whole, perceiving the galley so far off; thought it was folly to pursue her any further, they all returned wiser than they came from home. This is, notwithstanding other men's reports, the true and real narration of Glengarrie Younger his progress, of the Kintail men their meeting him in Kyle Rhea, of my lord's coming from Mull, and of the whole success, which I have heard verbatim not only from one but from several that were present at their actings." [Ancient MS. The authors of the Letterfearn and Ardintoul MSS. give substantially the same account, and say that among those who accompanied Mackenzie to Mull, was "Rory Beg Mackenzie, son to Rory More of Achiglunichan. Fairburn and Achilty's predecessor, and who afterwards died parson of Contine, from whom my author had the full account of Mackenzie's voyage to Mull."]
Mackenzie arrived at Ellandonnan late at night, where he found his lady still entertaining her brave Kintail men after their return from Glengarry's funeral. While not a little concerned about the death of his troublesome relative, he heartily congratulated his gallant retainers on the manner in which they had protected his interests during his absence. Certain that the Macdonalds would never rest satisfied until they wiped out and revenged the death of their leader, Mackenzie determined to drive them out of the district altogether. The castle of Strome still in possession of Glengarry, was the greatest obstacle in carrying out this resolution, for it was a good and convenient asylum for the Macdonalds when pursued by Mackenzie and his followers; but he ultimately succeeded in wresting it from them.
The following account is given in the Ancient MS. of how it was taken from them: "In the spring of the following year, Lord Kintail gathered together considerable forces and besieged the castle of Strone in Lochcarron, which at first held out very manfully, and would not surrender, though several terms were offered, which he (Mackenzie) finding not willing to lose his men, resolved to raise the siege for a time; but the defenders were so unfortunate as to have their powder damaged by the women they had within. Having sent them out by silence of night to draw in water, out of a well that lay just at the entrance of the castle, the silly women were in such fear, and the room they brought the water into being so dark for want of light, when they came in they poured the water into a vat, missing the right one, wherein the few barrels of powder they had lay. And in the morning, when the men came for more powder, having exhausted the supply of the previous day, they found the barrels of powder floating in the vat; so they began to rail and abuse the poor women, which the fore-mentioned Duncan Mac Ian Mhic Gilliechallum, still a prisoner in the castle, hearing, as he was at liberty through the house, having promised and made solemn oath that he would never come out of the door until he was ransomed or otherwise relieved." This he was obliged to do to save his life. But having discovered the accident which befel the powder, he accompanied his keepers to the ramparts of the castle, when he noticed his country men packing up their baggage as if intending to raise the siege. Duncan instantly threw his plaid over the head of the man that stood next to him, and jumped over the wall on to a large dung heap that stood immediately below. He was a little stunned, but instantly recovering himself, flew with the fleetness of a deer to Mackenzie's camp, and informed his chief of the state of matters within the stronghold. Kintail renewed the siege and brought his scaling ladders nearer the castle. The defenders seeing this, and knowing that their mishap and consequent plight had been disclosed by Duncan to the enemy, they offered to yield up the castle on condition that their lives would be spared, and that they he allowed to carry away their baggage. This was readily granted them, and "my lord caused presently blow up the house with powder, which remains there in heaps to this day. He lost only but two Kenlochewe men at the siege. Andrew Munro of Teannouher (Novar) was wounded, with two or three others, and so dissolved the camp." [Ardintoul MS.] Another writer says - "The rooms are to be seen yet. It stood on a high rock, which extended in the midst of a little bay of the sea westward, which made a harbour or safe port for great boats or vessels of no great burden, on either side of the castle. It was a very convenient place for Alexander Mac Gillespick to dwell in when he had both the countries of Lochalsh and Lochcarron, standing on the very march between both."
A considerable portion of the walls is still (1893) standing, but no trace of the apartments. The sea must have receded many feet since it was in its glory; for now it barely touches the base of the rock on which the ruin stands. We have repeatedly examined it, and with mixed feelings ruminated upon its past history, and what its ruined walls, could they only speak, might bear witness to.
In the following year (1603) the chief of Glengarry Donald Gruamach having died, and the heir being still under age, the Macdonalds, under Donald's cousin, Allan Dubh MacRanuil of Lundy, made an incursion into the country of Mackenzie in Brae Ross, plundered the lands of Cillechriost, and ferociously set fire to the church during divine service, when full of men, women, and children, while Glengarry's piper marched round the building cruelly mocking the heartrending wails of the burning women and children, playing the well-known pibroch, which has been known ever since by the name of "Cillechriost," as the family tune of the Macdonalds of Glengarry. "Some of the Macdonalds chiefly concerned in this inhuman outrage were afterwards killed by the Mackenzies; but it is somewhat startling to reflect that this terrible instance of private vengeance should have occurred in the commencement of the seventeenth century, without, so far as we can trace, any public notice being taken of such an enormity. In the end the disputes between the chiefs of Glengarry and Kintail were amicably settled by an arrangement which gave the Ross-shire lands, so long the subject of dispute, entirely to Mackenzie; and the hard terms to which Glengarry was obliged to submit in the private quarrel seem to have formed the only punishment inflicted on this clan for the cold-blooded atrocity displayed in the memorable raid on Kilchrist." [Gregory, pp. 302-3.]
Eventually Mackenzie succeeded in obtaining a crown charter to the disputed districts of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and others, dated 1607; and the Macdonalds having now lost the three ablest of their leaders, Donald's successor, his second son, Alexander, considered it prudent to seek peace with Mackenzie. This was, after some negotiation, agreed to, and a day appointed for a final settlement.
In the meantime, Kintail sent for twenty-four of his ablest men in Kintail and Lochalsh, and took them, along with the best of his own kinsmen, to Baile Chaisteil (now Grantown), where his uncle Grant of Grant resided, with the view to purchase from him a heavy and long-standing claim which he held against Glengarry for depredations committed on Grant's neighbouring territories in Glenmoriston and Glen-Urquhart. Grant was unwilling to sell, but ultimately, on the persuasion of mutual friends, he offered to take thirty thousand merks for his claim. Mackenzie's kinsmen and friends from the West were meanwhile lodged in a great kiln in the neighbourhood, amusing themselves with some of Grant's men who went to the kiln to keep them company. Kintail sent a messenger to the kiln to consult his people as to whether he would give such a large amount for Grants "comprising" against Glengarry. The messenger was patiently listened to until he had finished, when he was told to go back and tell Grant and Mackenzie, that had they not entertained great hopes that their chief would "give that paper as a gift to his nephew after all his trouble," he would not have been allowed to cross the Ferry of Ardersier; for they would like to know where he could find such a large sum, unless he intended to harry them and his other friends, who had already suffered quite enough in the wars with Glengarry; and, so saying, they took to their arms, and desired the messenger to tell Mackenzie that they wished him to leave the paper where it was. And if he desired to have it, they would sooner venture their own persons and those of the friends they had left at home to secure it by force, than give a sum which would probably be more difficult to procure than to dispossess Glengarry altogether by their doughty arms. They then left the kiln, and sent one of their own number for their chief, who, on arriving, was strongly abused for entertaining such an extravagant proposal and requested to leave the place at once. This he consented to do, and went to inform Grant that his friends would not hear of his giving such a large sum, and that he preferred to dispense with the claim against Glengarry altogether rather than lose the goodwill and friendship of his retainers, who had so often endangered their lives and fortunes in his quarrels. Meanwhile, one of the Grants who had been in the kiln communicated to his master the nature of the conversation which had there passed when the price asked by Grant was mentioned to the followers of Mackenzie. This made such an impression upon Grant and his advisers, that he prevailed upon Mackenzie, who was about starting for home, to remain in the castle for another night. To this Kintail consented, and before morning he obtained the "paper" for ten thousand merks - a third of the sum originally asked for it. "Such familiar relationship of the chief with his people," our authority says, "may now-a-days be thought fabulous; but whoever considers the unity, correspondence, and amity that was so well kept and entertained betwixt superiors and their followers and vassals in former ages, besides as it is now-a-days, he need not think it so; and I may truly say that there was no clan in the Highlands of Scotland that would compete with the Mackenzies, their vassals and followers, as to that; and it is sure their superiors in former times would not grant their daughters in marriage without their consent. Nor durst the meanest of them, on the other hand, give theirs to any stranger without the superior's consent; and I heard in Earl Colin's time of a Kintail man that gave his daughter in marriage to a gentleman in a neighbouring country without the Earl's consent, who never after had kindness for the giver, and, I may say, is yet the blackest marriage for that country, and others also, that ever was among their commons. But it may be objected that now-a-days their commons advice or consent in any matter of consequence is not so requisite, whereas there are many substantial friends to advise with; but its an old Scots phrase, 'A king's advice may fall from a fool's head.' I confess that is true where friends are real friends, but we ordinarily find, and partly know by experience, that, where friends or kinsmen become great and rich in interest, they readily become emulous, and will ordinarily advise for themselves if in the least it may hinder them from becoming a chief or head of a family, and forget their former headship, which was one of the greatest faults, as also the ruin of Munro of Miltown, whereas a common man will never eye to become a chief so long as he is in that state, and therefore will advise his chief or superior the more freely." What a change in the relationship between the chiefs and clansmen of to-day!