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- History Of The Mackenzies - 10/115 -

is true will be placed beyond question as we proceed.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Usually called "Murchadh Dubh na h' Uagh," or Black Murdoch of the Cave, from his habits of life, which shall be described presently.

Murdoch was very young when his father was executed at Inverness. During Kenneth's absence on that occasion, and for some time afterwards, Duncan Macaulay, a great friend, who then owned the district of Lochbroom, had charge of Ellandonnan Castle. The Earl of Ross was determined to secure possession of Murdoch, as he previously did of his father, and Macaulay becoming apprehensive as to his safety sent him, then quite young, accompanied by his own son, for protection to Mackenzie's relative, Macdougall of Lorn. While here the Earl of Ross succeeded in capturing young Macaulay, and in revenge for his father's gallant defence at Ellandonnan during Kenneth's absence, and more recently against his own futile attempts to take that stronghold, he put Macaulay to death, whereupon Murdoch, who barely escaped with his life, left Lorn and sought the protection of his uncle, Macleod of Lewis.

The actual murderer of Macaulay was the same desperate character, Leod Macgilleandrais, a vassal of the Earl of Ross, who had in 1346 been mainly instrumental in the capture and consequent death of Mackenzie's father at Inverness. The Earl of Cromarty describes the assassin as "a depender of the Earl of Ross, and possessed of several lands in Strathcarron (of Easter Ross) and some in Strathoykell." When he killed Macaulay, Leod possessed himself

History Of The Mackenzies - 10/115

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