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Conducted by ALEXANDER MACKENZIE, F.8.A.JSoot No. LXX. AUGUST, 1881. Vol. VI.
HISTOEY OF THE MACDONALDS,
XXII. THE FAMILY OF CLANKANALD. XTV. John Motdartach Macdonald, seventh of Clanranald, on the death of his father, Alexander MacAUan, who undoubtedly possessed Moydart, Arasaig, and Castle of Castletirrim, obtained a charter of his father's lands from the Crown, dated 11th February 1531, in the following terms :—" Carta Joanni Mac Allestear, et haeredibus suis, de omnibus et singulis teiris subscript, viz., viginti Septem mercat. terrarum de Moydart; triginta mercat. terrarum de Arisaik; Viginti una mercat. terrarum jacen in Igk, et triginta mercat. terrarum de SkerihoH', cum pertinen. jacen. in Oest, infra vicecomitat de Inverness, quond. Alano Macrory, avo dicti Joannis, et suis praedecessoribus in haereditate ab antiquo pertinuerunt, et per ipsos ultra hominum memoriam pacifice possessuerunt, et quod ipsorum cart» et evidentiae earundum per guerram et perturbationis in provincia amissae et districto existunt. Tenend. de Rege, &c, Reddendo, &c. Servitium warde et relevii una cum inaretagiorum contingerunt, cum olausula de non alienationis, absque licentio Regis, testibus ut in aliis, dat. Apud Edinb., 11th die Februarii 1531."
The Glengarry champion in the great controversy of 1818-19, says of this instrument, after stating that Ranald Allanson took out charters in his own favour in 1498 and 1505, that "a measure so new, and not so well understood, appears to have suggested the idea to Ean Moydartach to apply for a charter also—the better to secure him in his usurped possessions. He represented, but he represented falsely, that the lands were possessed by him and his predecessors past memory of man. He took no notice of the prior charters in favour of his uncle, which were on record. The Crown was willing to get Highland proprietors to acknowledge a superior, and, without inquiry, granted, in the year 1531, a charter in his favour proceeding expressly upon such narrative. When, however, it came to the knowledge of Ranald Allanson that the charter was surreptitiously taken out, he, in his turn, made application for having it recalled, and succeeded, and gut the investitures renewed in his own person'"
1540, and upon the ground that Ean Moydartach's ini'eftments were obtained ex sinistra uujueta informationc* The Clanranald champion, in reply, admits the charge made by his opponent, and says that "he (Kanald) took out a charter of the lands of Arisaig and Moydart on the 14th December 1540. This charter undoubtedly recals a charter granted to John of Moydart in 1531, of the same lands, which Ihace no hesitation in stating was improperly obtained." The words of the precept, dated the 13th of December 1540, the day before the date of the charter itself, in favour of Kanald Gallda, are, "revocat, cassat, annullat, et exonerat, cartam et infeofamentum per ipsum per sinistrum informationem in nostra minori retate Johanni Mac Alestir, de predictis teriis. Confectam et concessam." The charter itself is almost in the same words.
There is a summons of treason against several Highland chiefs, dated 26th of April 1531, and "Johanne Mordordache de Ellanthoryrn, Capitaneo de Clanronald," is among the number. No serious steps appear to have been taken agaiust him in consequence, for it is only ten months after, on the 11th of February in the same year, that ho obtained the charter already quoted. + The author of the History of Clanranald informs us that, not appearing in answer to the summons on the 26th of April, the day appointed, it was continued till the 28th, and on that day it was again continued till the 26th of May. "Further procedure appears to have been dropped against him, most probably owing to his being reconciled to the King; for, having married Margaret MacKeane, a daughter of Macdonald of Ardnamurchan, he, in July 1534, obtained from the Crown a charter of the lands of Kildonan, Moy, and others in favour of himself and his spouse." The Kildonan named was in the Island of Egg.} Tne same writer says of the Precept of the lands in favour of KanalcLabove quoted, that John " had no opportunity of showing that he had a lawful title to the lands, the King having at once reduced his charter, without any legal steps whatever; and the consequence was that John resolved to maintain his title, and he actually did so in face of all opposition. The injustice done him he severely felt, and this feeling seems to have actuated him in almost every action of his life, for at no period does he ever seem to have been thoroughly reconciled to the King, or rulers of the kingdom; and the battle of Blarleine, and consequent possession of immense estates and power enabled him, upon every occasion, to distress and harrass the Government,"
He is soon again engaged with the neighbouring clans, particularly the Frasers and Mackintoshes. "The battle of Blarleine had not been forgotten by Lovat, and he and Mackintosh took every opportunity ot distressing him: the Earl of Sutherland, too, prompted perhaps by the wish of sharing a part of John's inheritance, was an active but secret instigator of all disputes—and the consequence was that a warfare was constantly carried on. In this John was supported by the whole of his clan, particularly Glengarry, and the Lairds of Knoydart and Morour. The irresolute conduct of the Kegent of the Kingdom, and the universal sway which the Earl of Huntly, then Lieutenant of the North, liud over the
* Glengarry and Clanranald Controversy, pp. 68-69.
t The year in those days began on the *5th of March, not on the 1st of Januan M ftt present, so that February is later in the year than April. J Reg. Mag. Sig., Lib. 25, IS"o. 141.
neighbourhood, contributed in no small degree to keep alive the animosity which then existsd. Huntly's ambition was unbounded; his lands marched with those of the Clanranald in several parts, and could he have succeeded in reducing their power, there is little doubt but he would have reaped the whole benefit of the enterprise. Inroads were mutually made, and with various success, till the year 1554, when the Eegent having resigned the government of the kingdom into the Queen Dowager's hands, and peace being lor a time settled with the English, the Queen Eegent and governor set about the internal settlement of the kingdom. Huntly was active in representing the conduct of John in its most unfavourable light, and he was at last despatched to bring him to tho Queen Eegent. He collected his own clan, the Gordons, as well as tho Frasers and Mackintoshes, and marched forward to Moydart, into which he partly penetrated. John, in the meantime, was not inactive; he summoned the clan, and opposed Huntly with such a force as completely intimidated him. No action of any importance was fought, as it was alleged by Huntly that the Clan Chattan raised a tumult in the camp, which compelled him to retire. Be this as it may, Huntly, having completely failed in the enterprise, was committed to the Castle of Edinburgh, and was severely attacked by his enemies; who averred that the failure originated, not in the behaviour of the Clan Chattan, but in Huntly himself having a dislike to Mackintosh, the chief of that clan. When it is considered that Huntly was at this time one of the most powerful noblemen in the kingdom, and that his strength lay in the very neighbourhood, it can hardly bo supposed that the defection of tho Clan Chattan would have compelled him to retire; and when, again, it is observed that Huntly at all times had a dislike to tho Clanranald, and that the recent battle of Blairleine must have tended to strengthen that dislike, it is far less to bo supposed that he would have favoured their cause. The more natural supposition is, that he saw the strength of John was such as to give him little chance of success, and he threw the blame of the defeat upon the Clan Chattan, while his enemies averred that he had acted disloyally.
"This enterprise having completely failed, the Queen Eegent was extremely indignant; she shortly afterwards proceeded to Inverness, and held assizes, to which she summoned John, and the heads of those collateral branches of the clan who supported him; but they refused to obey the summons, unless assured of their safety. John Stewart, Earl of Atholl, was despatched against them in July 1555. Atholl was rather favourably inclined towards the Clanranald, and promised pardon and protection to them. John was induced to go to Inverness with several of his sons; he had been but a short time there when, fearing treachery, he made his escape and returned to Castletirrim. On his way he was attacked by Mackintosh and the Clan Chattan, whom he beat off; but having but few followers, he could not attempt any retaliation upon them, He very shortly afterwards became reconciled to the Queen Eegent, and returned to Inverness. While there he became acquainted with Penelope, second daughter of Sir Charles Erskine, who was third son of Alexander, Viscount Fenton, and (his former wife, Mariatte M'Kane, being dead) married her in the year 1555."*
* History of the Family, 1810, pp. 101-103.
In 1547 John was commanded, among other Highland chiefs, to assemble at Fallow Muir to resist the English, who came to enforce the performance of a treaty of marriage which had previously been entered into for the marriage of Queen Mary with the heir to the English crown. John not only refused to go, but prevented all his retainers from doing so; and his influence was sufficient among the clan to induce the other leading chiefs and their followers to do the same. After the battle of Blarleine, to which we have already referred, the Earl of Huntly returned North with a strong force, when he laid a great part of the country waste, and apprehended many of the principal leaders of the clans, some of whom he put to death. Among the latter were Ewin Allanson of Lochiel and Ranald Macdonald, son of Donald Glas of Keppoch, who were tried for high treason, for the part they had taken at the battle of Blarleine and in the rebellions of the Earl of Lennox. These were tried by a jury of landed gentlemen, found guilty, for a short time imprisoned in the Castle of Ruthven, and then beheaded. Their heads were exposed over the gates of the town of Elgin. Many of the others apprehended at the same time were ignominiously hanged. John Moydartach does not appear on this occasion to have opposed Huntly, but is said to have taken shelter in the Isles, from which he returned as soon as the Earl of Huntly left the North, and retaliated on Huntly's neighbouring property and friends, byplundering and wasting their territories.
At Inverness, on the 24th of August 1552, we find a Commission, under the great seal, granted by Mary Queen of Scots, with the advice of James, Duke of Chatelherault, Earl of Arran, and Lord Hamilton, Protector and Governor of the Kingdom, to Archibald, Earl of Argyll, Lord Campbell and Lorn, and Justice General of Scotland, which proceeds, "that notwithstanding the said Governor has remained for a long time dispensing justice in the Burgh of Inverness, the Clanranald nevertheless refused obedience to Her Majesty's authority and laws, with the other subjects of the kingdom; wherefore Her Majesty gives full power to the said Earl of Argyll to assemble his friends and vassals, and with them go to Clanranald, and to pursue them with fire and sword, and within whatever islands they may seek refuge, for their disobedience, depredations, and murders."* Queen Mary of Guise, at this time in France, soon after came to Scotland, succeeded Arran as Protector, and became vested with full authority. She immediately ordered Huntly north with another expedition for the express purpose of apprehending the Captain of Clanranald, and putting an end to his violent proceedings.
In June 1554 the Earls of Huntly and Argyll "were ordered to proceed, by sea and land, to the utter extermination of the Clanranald," and others who had failed to give hostages for their good conduct . Argyll proceeded to the Isles, while Huntly with a large force, composed of Lowlanders and Highlanders, proceeded to attack Clanranald. Both failed in the object of their expedition, Huntly, because the Highlanders were so much exasperated against Huntly for his execution of William Mackintosh of Mackintosh in 1550, that tho Earl declined to face Clanranald by such an army, after which he disbanded his forces and returned home. He was, in consequence, committed to the prison of Edinburgh
* Iiivernessiana, p. 223.
by the Regent, and did not obtain his liberty until he had renounced, among other lucrative grants which he had recently acquired, the Earldoms of Mar and Moray, and the gift of the ward and marriage of Mary Macleod, heiress of Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg; while he became bound to banish himself to France for five years; but this latter condition was romoved on payment to the Regent of a sum of £5000.
In 1548 the Highlanders, who refused to assemble at Fallow Muir, and who still remained outlaws, seem to have been pardoned in consequence of the disastrous results of the battle of Pinky, on more favourable terms than they could reasonably have expected in the circumstances. John Moydurtach shared in this clemency. We find a respite, dated 26th of August 1548, in favour of " Jhone Muyduart MacAlester, Caiptane of Clauranald; Angus MacAlester, his brother; Rorye MacAlester, Allane MacAlester, sons to Jhone Muyduart; Alester MacAne vie Alester of Glengarie; Alester MacDowell vie Rynnell; Angus MacAngus Moir j Ajigus MacAllane vie Ranald of Knowdwart; Allane Owge MacAlester vie Allane; Alester MacDonald vie Ane of Ardmowache; Angus MacAlester vie Angus; Donald MacAlester vie Kane; Allane MacPersone vie Alester; Donald Moir MacAne vie Hlane, for yr treasonable remaining and abyding at hame fra our Soverane Ladyis oist and army, devisit and ordanit to convene upon Falaw-mure, ye last day of August yo zeir of God Jm. Vc., xlvii.  zers for resisting of the Protector of Ingland and his army, yam beand wt'in yis realme for destruction of ye lieges yrof, and for the slauchter of ye Lord Lovet and his complices at [Blarleine] ye yier of God Jm. Vc. forty [four] zeris; and for all actions, Sua., and for xix. zers to endure. At Musselburgh, ye xxvi. day of August, the zere of God Jm. Vc. xlviii. zeris. Per signaturam."* In spite of the leniency displayed towards him on this occasion, John could not give up his habits of war and pillage. He had little faith in the Government, and he probably thought it much safer for himself and his clan, in their almost inaccessible wilds, to resist a power which he could not help seeing was, at this period, fast falling into decay.
Gregory, describing the Earl of Athole's expedition to the North in 1555, says that Athole succeeded so well with John, Captain of Clanranald, "that he prevailed upon that restless chief, with two of his sons, and certain of his kinsmen, to come before the Regent, and submit themselves to her clemency. Mary of Guise, pleased with their submission, pardoned them their past offences; but ordered them, in the meantime, to remain, some at Perth, and others at the Castle of Methven, till her will should be further declared to them. After remaining, however, in these places for a short time, the Highlanders made their escape to their native mountains; giving the Regent a lesson, as a Scottish annalist [Balfour] quaintly observes, 'to hold the fox better by the ear while she had him in her hands.' This result of her mistaken lenity roused the Regent to greater exertions, and determined her to proceed next year in person to the North, to hold Justice Courts for the punishment of great offenders, and thus to prevent misrule in time coming. Accordingly, in the month of July 1556, Mary of Guise arrived at Inverness, accompanied by the Earls of Huntly, Argyll, Athole, and Marischall, and the Bishops
* Privy Seal, veil, xxii., folio 27.