« AnteriorContinuar »
Conducted by ALEXANDER MACKENZIE, F.S.A. Soot.
HISTOEYOT THE MACDONALDS,
THE FAMILY OF GLENGARBY.
It has been already shown that the Macdonalds of Sleat, though the undoubted male representatives of John, last Lord of the Isles, as well as of Donald, first Lord of the Isles of the name of Macdonald, by his second •wife, Margaret, daughter of King Eobert II. of Scotland, they are not and cannot be the chiefs by right of blood of the whole Clan Donald and male representatives of Somerled, Thane of Argyll, while any of the representatives of John, first Lord of the Isles, by his first marriage with Amy MacEuari remains. This may now be accepted as a settled point, and one on which all disinterested authorities are agreed.
It is, however, much more difficult to decide which of the othor leading claimants are entitled to that high and distinguished honour. There is the further difficulty to dispose of as to who is the present representative of the Earl of Ross, which title was unquestionably possessed by the Lords of the Isles since the marriage of Donald of Harlaw, second Lord of the Isles, to Lady Mary Leslie, daughter of Euphemia Countess of Boss. The Earldom of Ross being in favour of heirs-general, which is placed beyond question by its having been first brought into the family of Macdonald by marriage with Lady Mary Leslie, as above, it is now almost if not quite impossible to decide who the present representative of the ancient but long forfeited Earldom of Eoss is. To have enabled this representation to pass into the family of Sleat, it was necessary not only that all the direct and intervening male representatives of John, last Lord of the Isles and Earl of Eoss, should have died out, but the female representatives also. This is by no means a settled point. Indeed, if Gregory and other leading authorities be correct in holding that Celestine of Lochalsh was a legitimate son of Alexander, and eldest brother of John, the last two Earls of Eoss and Lords of the Isles, the representation of the Earldom must have passed into the family of Glengarry by the marriage of Margaret (eldest daughter of Alexander of Lochalsh and heiress to her brother, Sir Donald) to Alexander Macdonald of Glengarry; the other sister, Janet, having married Dingwall of Kildun. This is a point which we do not feel called upon at present to decide. It may, however, be stated that the male representation of the old Earldom of Ross has been successfully claimed by Mr Munro Eoss of Pitcalnie, whose claim as heir male has been sustained by the Court of Session and by the House of Lords. As already stated, however, the honours of the Earldom were not confined to the heirs-male; and, in point of fact, they were carried originally by a female to the family of Macdonald. The representation has also been claimed by the Frasers of Philorth, progenitors of Lord Saltoun, one of whom married Joanna, sister of Euphemia Leslie, Countess of Ross. Several other claimants might be named, but those already mentioned as heirs-general and heirs-male must be disposed of before any claims by later offshoots are debateable.
It is necessary before proceeding further to refer to a claim made to to the chiefship of the race of Somerled by the Macalesters of Loup, a family of note in Argyleshire, now known as Somerville-Macalesters of Loup and Kennox, the latter place having boen acquired by marriage with an heiress, whose name of Somerville the Macalesters have in consequence added to their own. They claim to be descended from Alexander, "eldest son of Angus Mor, Lord of the Isles and Kintyre A.d. 1284, and third in descent from Somerled, Thane of Argyle, the common ancestor of the Clan Donald and Clan Dugall; and therefore, according to the Highland principal of clanship, they possess that 'jus sanguinus,' of which no forfeiture could deprive them and are the representatives of the ancient Lords of vthe Isles, as heirs male of Donald, the grandson of Somerled, from whom came the Clan Donald." Li point of fact, however, Alexander, the progenitor of the Macalesters, was not the "eldest son of Angus Mor," but his younger brother, and uncle to "Angus Og " who fought with Bruce at the head of his clan at Bannockburn, and who on the forfeiture of the Macalesters for having taken the opposite side under Macdougall of Lorn succeeded to the forfeited property, not as Macalester's "elder brother," but as his nephew and chief of the clan, and as a reward in part for his loyal support of the saviour of his country, King Robert the Bruce. The Macalesters have thus no valid claim to the chiefship of the great Clan Donald, but they are undoubtedly the senior cadets of the race of Somerled.
John, first Lord of the Isles, married, first (see p. 128, Celtic Magazine, No. III., Vol. V.), Amy, heiress of the MaeRuaries of Garmoran and Bute, and by her had three sons (and a daughter, Mary, who married, first, Maclean of Duart, and secondly, Maclean of Coll).
1. John, who died before his father, leaving one son, Angus, who died without issue.
2. Godfrey of Uist and Garmoran, whose name appears occasionally throughout the earlier chapters of this work, though really very little is known of his history or that of his descendants; for scarcely any authentic records remain of the period of Highland history in which they flourished. Godfiey (who was also called Lord of Lochaber) received a charter under the style of Lord of Garmoran in 1388, dated as his castle of Ellantirriin. We have already seen (p. 210, vol. v.) that his son Alexander of Garmoran, described as a leader of a thousand men, was beheaded at Inverness by order of King James during his visit to the Highland Capital in 1427, when his whole possessions were forfeited to the Crown. His only son, also named Alexander, died in 1460. Macvurich, who records his death, describes him, like his father, as Lord of Uist. The lands of Uist and Garraoran were, however, forfeited, and, as we have already seen, granted by John, Earl of Iioss, to his brother, Hugh of Sleat; but the latter was kept out of possession by the Macdonalds of Clanranald, who by precept obtained a grant of the lands in Uist and Benbecula in the year 1505. [See p. 421, vol. v., C. M.) "From this time," Gregory writes, "although there were several descendants of Godfrey still in existence, the tribe fell into decay." Skene says that while Godfrey appears to have for a time maintained his right to his mother's inheritance against the issue of the second marriage of his father, it "was soon extinguished by the failure of heirs male."*
3. The ground is now so far clear as to enable us to take up Reginald, the third and only son of John, first Lord of the Isles, by his first wife, Ajny Macruari of Garmoran, whose male issue, so far as can he traced, survives. We shall therefore designate him
VIII. Reginald, or Ranald, eighth chief of the race of Somerled, progenitor of the Macdonalds of Glengarry, and of all the ilacdonalds known as Clanranalds, or Clann Raonuil, i.e., descendants of Ranald or Reginald. Whenthearrangementalreadydescribed(p.l26,vol.v.)wasmade on the marriage of the first Lord of the Isles with Margaret Stewart, Ranald received a large grant of lands, including the .Xorth Isles, Garmoran and other extensive possessions, to hold of his father John, Lord of the Isles, and his heirs of the second marriage, as a reward for falling in with the scheme, while his eldest brother Godfrey stoutly opposed it. This arrangement seemed more advantageous to Ranald as a younger son of the first marriage, the offspring of which had to tight for their possessions against the combined power of their own father and of the ruling monarch in the interest of the sons of the second marriage. And Ranald proved himself afterwards a man of great integrity and honour as tutor or guardian to his younger brother Donald, second Lord of the Isles, during his minority. He took a leading part in the government of the Isles during the life of his father, and was left in charge of the Lordship after his father's death, until Donald, the eldest son by the second marriage, became of age, when Ranald delivered over to him the government of the Lordship in presence of the leading vassals, very much against the wishes of the common people of the Isles, who still continued to look upon Godfrey, Ranald's eldest brother, as the rightful heir and head of tho family.
Wo have now arrived at a stage where wo can no longer avoid discussing the question of the chiefship of the whole clan. From what has been already said it must be clear to every impartial and disinterested reader that the chiefship by right of blood cannot be in the family of Sleat while any legitimate male descendant of the issue of John, first Lord of the Isles, by his first wife, Amy MacRuari of Garmoran, survives. There remains, however, the other question, upon which so much ink and temper lias been wasted, still unfortunately staring us in the face, and wo sincerely wish we could pass it over, but that is impossible. We have formed an opinion of our own on this delicate point, but think it best at present
* Celtic Scotland, vol. iii. p. 295.
to withhold it, and keep ourselves free to alter or modify it by any new or additional information which may turn up while this work is passing through the Celtic Magazine and the press. We have repeatedly and carefully perused the whole controversy which has taken place, sixty years ago, between the families of Glengarry and Clanranald, as well as the respective genealogies published by both claimants, and though the question is not without difficulty, certain facts which have been proved appear to us, in the absence of further evidence, quite insurmountable.
Skene, undoubtedly one of the best living authorities on such a question, devotes considerable space to the discussion of this point, and he deals with it so clearly and concisely that we shall quote him at length. 'We may, however, point out that Skene is occasionally found tripping—and he does so in this very connection; for we find him confusing the famous Donald Balloch of Isla, son and successor to John Mor Tanistear (second son of the first Lord of the Isles by Margaret Stewart), with Donald, first of the family of Glengarry.
Discussing the question of the much contested Chiefship of the race of Somerled and Conn, Skene sums up as follows:—" While it is fully admitted that the family of Sleat are the undoubted representatives of the last Lord of the Isles, yet if the descendants of Donald, from whom the clan took its name, or even of John of the Isles in the reign of David II., are to be held as forming one clan, it is plain that, according to the Highland principles of clanship, the jus sanguinis, or right of blood to the chiefship lay unquestionably in the male representative of John, whose own right was undoubted. John of the Isles had, by Amy, the daughter of Koderick of the Isles, three sons, John, Godfrey, and Eanald, of whom the last only left descendants, and from whom the Clan Ranald unquestionably derive their origin. By the daughter of Robert II. John had four sons, Donald, Lord of the Isles, from whom came the Macdonalds of Sleat; John Mor, from whom the Macdonalds of Kintyre; Alaster, the progenitor of Keppoch; and Angus.
"In this question, therefore, there are involved two subordinate questions which have given rise to considerable disputes. First, was Amy, the daughter of Roderic of the Isles, John's legitimate wife, and were the sons of that marriage John's legitimate heirs? And secondly, if the sons of the first marriage are legitimate, who is the Chief of the Clan Ranald, the only clan descended from that marriage 1 With regard to the first point, there are two documents which place it beyond all doubt that Amy was John's lawful wife. The first of these is a dispensation from the Pope in 1337 to John, son of Angus of the Isles, and Amy, daughter of Roderic of the Isles. The second is the treaty between John and David IL in 1369, in which the hostages are 'Donaldum filium moum ex filia domini senescali Scotise genitum Angusium filium quondam Johannis filii mei et Donaldum quemdam alium filium meum naturahm.' John had by Amy three sons, John, Godfrey, and Ranald, and the distinction made in the above passage between John ' Alius mens,' and Donald filius ineus naturalis, proves that this family were legitimate. But it is equally clear that the children of this marriage were considered as John's feudal heirs. When Robert II, in pursuance of the policy which he had adopted, persuaded John to make tho children of the two marriages feudally independant of each other, it was effected in this manner. Julm received charters of certain of his lauds containing a special dcstina- ■ tion to the heir of the marriage with the Eing's daughter, while he granted a charter of another portion of his lands, consisting of the lordship of Garmoian, part of Lochaber, and some of the Isles, among which ■was that of Uist, to Eeginald, one of the children of the first marriage, to be held of John's lawful heirs, and this charter was confirmed by the King. That a special destination was necessary to convey part of John's possessions to the children of the second marriage is in itself a strong presumption that they were not his feudal heirs, and from the terms of .Reginald's charter it is manifest that he must, on John's death, have held his lands of the person universally acknowledged to be the feudal heir of the Lord of the Isles, This person, however, was his brother Godfrey, the eldest surviving son of the first marriage, for in a charter to the Abbey of Inchaffray, dated 7th July 1389, he designates himself 'Dominus de Uist,' and dates his charter ' Apud Castrum meum de Ylantirum,' both of which are included in Reginald's charter. Moreover it appears that he was succeeded in this by his son Alexander, for when James II. summoned a Parliament at Inverness, to which those only who held their lands in chief of the Crown, were bound to attend, and when, from the state of the country at the time, it is apparent that no one would appear who could on any ground excuse his absence, we find among those who obeyed the summons, Alexander Macreury de Garmoran. Macreury and Macgorry, or son of Godfrey, held the lordship of Garmoran in chief of the Crown, We find, however, that the rest of Reginald's lands were equally held of this Alexander, for Reginald's charter included a considerable part of Lochaber, and in the year 1394 an indenture was entered into between the Earl of Moray and Alexander de Insulis dominus de Lochaber, for the protection of certain lands in Morayshire. "We thus see that ■when it was intended that the eldest son of the second marriage should hold his lands of the Crown, a special destination to him was requisite, that a charter of certain lands was given to Reginald to be held of John's feudal heirs, and that these very lands were held in chief of the Crown by Godfrey, the eldest surviving son of the first marriage, and by his son Alexander. It is therefore plain that the actual effect of Robert the Second's policy was to divide the possessions of his formidable vassals into two distinct and independent feudal lordships, of which the Dominium de Garmoran et Lochaber was held by the eldest son of the first marriage, and the Dominium lnsularum by the eldest son of the second marriage; and in this state they certainly remained until the fatal Parliament of 1427, when the Lord of Garmoran was beheaded and his estates forfeited to the Crown.
"The policy of James I. induced him then to reverse the proceedings of his predecessor Robert, and he accordingly concentrated the Macdonald possessions in the person of the Lord of the Isles, but this arbitrary proceeding could not deprive the descendants of the first marriage of the feudal representation of the Chiefs of the Clan Donald, which now, on the failure of the issue of Godfrey in the person of his son Alexander, unquestionably devolved on the feudal representative of Reginald, the youngest son of that marriage.
"Of the descent of the Clan Ranald there is no doubt whatever, nor has it ever been disputed that they derive their origin from this Reginald