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whose bravery on this occasion overmatched his prudence, could not witness the insulting advance of the Macdonalds without some attempt to check them; he advanced from the post assigned to him, and with a few followers attacked the advanced part at Sron-na-Cranalich; the result was the loss of almost every individual of his faithful band, one of whom was Allan, son of Maclean of Treshiuish, a youth of much promise, and whose death was deeply lamented.
Early the following day the invaders moved forward with intention to attack the Macleans in their position. On the march, and as they were approaching the pass already mentioned, Maclean of Borreray, while marching at the head of his men, was observed to be wrapped in an unusual reverie of thoughtfulness. Sir Donald Macdonald of Slaite, the chief commander of the invaders, and whose immediate follower Borreray on this occasion was, approached him, and inquired of him if the cause of his particularly thoughtful mood did not arise from a reluctance to fight against his clan and kinsmen; and if so, that he was welcome to fall back into the rear and resign his "post to such as might not be deterred from doing their duty by such treacherous scruples." "Treacherous scruples," replied Maclean, " I entertain not; more care for thee and thy followers makes me in mood melancholy j" and in a half suppressed tone, as if addresing himself, he added, "That horrid! and, I fear, ominously fatal dream!" Macdonald, with fearful anxiety, inquired what dream 1 "Listen," said Borreray, "you shall hear: at the middle hour of night, as a peaceful slumber came o'er me, a voice distinctly repeated the following lines to me:—
An Lichd-Li Sin, O, Lichd-Li 1
'S am ortsa bheirear an dith!
'S iad Clann-GhLUeain a bheir buaidfa,
Air an t' shluagh a thig air tir;
An Gearna Dubh sin, 's i 'n Gearna Dubh,
'S ann innte dhoirtear an fbuil;
Marbbar an Kidire Kuadh,
Hu'n teid claidheamh n truaill an diugh.
Feared Licbd Lee,* Ah 1 dread Lichd Lee!
Direful are the deeds the fates have doomed on thee;
Defeated by the sons of Gillean the invading multitude shall be,
On thee Gearna Dubh + streams of blood shall flow;
And the bold Red Knight shall meet his death ere a sword is sheathed.
Borreray's dream (the rendering of which into English is only very so and so) worked with the most happy effect upon the superstitious credulity of the red knight of Slaite; for finding the Macleans in full force and most advantageously posted at the pass of Gearna Dubh (the dreaded spot where the fates had prophesied his downfall), the Macdonalds instantly sounded a retreat, and pursued as they were by the Macleans, aided by the artful but worthy Borreray, who now took his opportunity, accompanied by his followers, to change sides, the best Macdonald was he that could best run. They were, however, overtaken at the very spot where but the day before they landed in high hope of making an easy prey of
* Lichd Lee, the spot where the Macleans were encamped, so named from the ground being partially covered with a pavement of smooth flat rocks.
t A projecting rock or precipice, forming the key of the position occupied by the Macleans.
those before whom they were now flying; and so panic-struck and confused were they that hardly any resistance was made to the merciless attack of the Macleans at the place of embarkation, prodigious numbers being slain without the loss of a single individual on the side of their assailants.
Soon after this the Macdonalds again returned to be revenged on the Macleans, but they were defeated severely at the Island of Bachca, a little south of Kerrera, with a loss of over three hundred Macdonalds, while among a large number of prisoners were Donald Gorm Mor of Sleat, Macian of Ardnamurchan, Macleod of Lewis, and Macphee of Colonsay, while the Macleans are said only to have lost "two common soldiers killed, and one gentleman of the Morvern Macleans wounded," The Macdonalds are said by their enemies to have been 2500 strong while the Macleans only numbered 1200.
The Government now interfered, and Maclean not only had to release his prisoners, but had to give hostages to Macdonald for his future good behaviour. These hostages were afterwards, by proclamation from the Council, to be given up to the young Earl of Argyll or his guardians, and to be conveyed by them wherever his Majesty miglit direct, until a final settlement of the matters in dispute between the Macdonalds and the Macleans. Macdonald of Isla was promised a pardon for his share in the recent slaughters; and the heads of both clans, with their principal supporters and allies, were charged to remain quiet and abstain "from all conventions or gathering in arms, and from all attacks upon each other; so as not to hinder or disturb his Majesty in his attempts to bring about a settlement of their various disputes."
The King wrote a letter with his own hand, dated 20th April 1587, to the Earl of Huntly regarding the affairs of the Isles, in which he says: —" Eight-trusty cousin and councillor, we greet you heartily well. We doubt not but the cruelties and disorders in the Isles these years bygone have greatly moved you, whereanent we intend, God willing, to take some special pains ourself, as well there as in the Borders, where we have been lately occupied. . . . Always fearing that the Islesmen within the bounds of your lieutenancy shall press or make some rising and gathering, before conveniently we may put orders to the matters standing in controversy in the West Isles, we desire you effectuously that with all goodly diligence you send to Donald Gormeson, M'Cloyd of the Lewis, M'Cloyd of the Harrich, the Clanrannald, and others being of power in these parts, willing and commanding them to contain themselves in quietness, and that they forbear to make any manner of convention or gatherings, to the hinder and disturbance of our good deliberations, for we have written effectuously to Angus M'Connell, and have spoken with M'Clane, being here, for the same effect. And so not doubting but you will do what in you lies, that all things remain quiet and in good order within the bounds of your charge, as ye will do us special and acceptable service. Commit you in the protection of Almighty God."*
An important Act of Parliament, commonly known as the "General Band" or Bond, was passed at this time, which made it imperative on all landlords, bailies, and chiefs of clans, to find sureties to a very large
* Inverneasiana, pp. 245-46.
amount in proportion to their resources and the number of their vassals, for the peaceable behaviour of their followers, and provision was made that if any superior, after having provided the necessary securities, should fail in making immediate reparation for any injuries committed by any of those for whom he was held responsible, the aggrieved party might proceed at law against the sureties for the damage done, and if he failed in reimbursing his securities, he was to forfeit a heavy penalty, in addition, to the crown.
In 1589 we find remissions granted to the Island chiefs for all the crimes committed by them "during the late feud," and among those who were, in consequence, induced to visit Edinburgh to consult with the King and Council "for the good rule of the country," we find Lachlan Maclean of Duart, Angus Macdonald of Isla, and Donald Gorm Mor of Sleat. By a breach of faith which no circumstances can palliate, these three chiefs were, by order of the Government, seized and imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and Maclean of Isla was treacherously brought to trial for the crimes previously pardoned by remissions under the Privy Seal. They were, however, afterwards pardoned, released, and permitted to return home on payment of heavy fines, amounting, according to one authority, to twenty thousand pounds each, under the designation of arrears and crown rents, in addition to other harsh conditions. The pardons were only to remain in force in the event of their fulfilling these harsh conditions in every particular, the King at the same time holding himself free to pronounce sentence of death and forfeiture upon them in case of future disobedience. Isla had to give in to the Council his two sons and one of his nearest relations as hostages, for his appearance on a fixed day, before he was liberated, and even if he did appear as arranged, his hostages were to be detained until his relative, Donald Gorm of Sleat, who was liberated at the same time, should place hostages in the hands of the Council for implementing the conditions of his release, which, in the latter case, was four thousand pounds, under the name of crown rents and feudal casualties for his lands. John Campbell, of Calder, guardian to the young Earl of Argyll, became surety for the implementing of these conditions by the two Macdonald chiefs, and having, on the application of Bowes, the English Ambassador, found further sureties for their good behaviour towards the Government of Ireland, they were finally liberated. Circumstances followed which led them afterwards to abstain from carrying out the conditions of their release, and finally they placed themselves in open and avowed opposition to the Government They were consequently, on the 14th of Jnly, charged to appear before the Privy Council to fulfil the conditions of their release, and failing their appearance the pardons previously granted to them wore to bo declared null, and immediate steps to be taken to forfeit their lands and other possessions, while Isla's hostages, including his two sons, wore to bo executed. These proceedings were afterwards ratified by a Parliament held in June 1592, when the three estates agreed to assist his Majesty with their " bodies, counsel, and whole force, to make his authority be obeyed by his subjects, and to cause the treasonable and barbarous rebels of the Hielandis and His to be punished and repressed, as they have worthily deserved." To carry this agreement into effect there were produced in Parliament, next year, summonses of treason, duly executed, against Angus Macdonald of Isla, Donald Gorm of Sleat, John Macian of Ardnamurchan, and others, their associates for certain crimes of treason and lese-majesty committed by them; but the more important proceedings against the Earls of Huutly, Angus, Errol, and other Catholic lords who were at the time plotting with Phiiip of Spain for the restoration of the Catholic religion in Scotland, prevented the Government from carrying out for the time being their proceedings against the Island chiefs. In June 1594, however, they, along ■with Maclean of Duart, still remaining contumacious, were forfeited by Parliament. Donald Gorm, little concerned as to this, with Euairi Mor Macleod of Harris, led 500 each of their followers to Ulster to assist Eed Hugh O'Donnell, chief of that ancient branch of the Siol Cuinn, who was at the time engaged in rebellion against the English Queen. After meeting with Eed Hugh and enjoying his hospitality, Donald Gorm bade him farewell and returned home, leaving his followers under command of his brother. In the following year we find Donald Gorm and Macdonald of Isla, on the application of the English Ambassador, charged by the Privy Council to desist from assisting the Irish rebels.
The Island chiefs still continued contumacious, and early in 159G, to compel their submission, "the King, by advice both of the Privy Council and of the estates of Parliament then sitting, resolved to proceed against the Islanders in person. A proclamation to this effect was accordingly issued in the month of May, by which all Earls, Lords, Barons, and freeholders worth above three hundred merks of yearly rent, and the whole burgesses of the realm were summoned to meet his Majesty at Dumbarton, on the 1st day of August, well armed, and with forty days' provisions; and likewise provided with vessels to carry them to the Isles. Disobedience to this summons was to infer loss of life, lands, and goods. The effect of this proclamation was soon evident. Maclean and Macdonald of Sleat immediately repaired to Court, and upon making their submission and satisfying the demands of the Exchequer, by agreeing to augment their rents, and to make certain other concessions, were received into favour, and restored against the acts of forfeiture under which they had been for two years. Roderick Macleod of Harris and Donald (Mac Angus) of Glengarry made their submission about the same time."* The original papers connected with Donald Gorni's submission are to be found in the Register House, from which it will be seen that he was on this occasion formally recognised as the heir of Hugh of Sleat, son of Jolin last Earl of Ross, and his own grandfather's great-grandfather.
In 1597 an act of Parliament was passod in reference to the Highlands and Isles. The preamble bears, to quote from Gregory, that the inhabitants of the Highlands and Isles had not only neglected to pay tho yearly rents, and to perform the services duo from their lands to the Crown, but that they had likewise, through their "barbarous inhumanity," made the Highlands and Isles, naturally so valuable from tho fertility of the soil and the richness of the fisheries, altogether unprofitable cither to themselves or to their fellow-countrymen. The natives are further described as neither cultivating any "civil or honest society" among themselves, nor admitting others to traffic with them in safety. It was therefore, by this Act, made imperative upon all landlords, chieftains, leaders of clans,
* Gregory's Highlands and Isles, pp. 263-64.
principal householders, heritors, and others possessing, or pretending right to, any in the Highlands and Isles, to produce their various title-deeds hefore the Lords of the Exchequer upon the 15th day of May 1598. They were further enjoined at the same time to find security for the regular payment of their rents to the Crown, and for the peaceable and orderly behaviour of themselves, and of those for whom, by the law, they were bound to answer, particularly in regard to those individuals desirous of trading in the Highlands and Isles. The penal part of the Act was, however, the most important. "Disobedience to any of the injunctions above detailed," continues the same writer, "was made, by a harsh exercise of the highest powers of Parliament, to infer absolute forfeiture of all titles, real or pretended, which any of the recusants might possess to lands in the Highlands and Isles.* Taking into consideration both the loss of title-deeds, which, in the unsettled state of the country, must have been a very common occurrence—and the difficulty which many even of the most powerful chiefs could not fail to experience, in finding the requisite bail for their peaceable and orderly behaviour, as well as that of their vassals and tenants—it is evident this Act was prepared with a view to place at the disposal of the Crown, in a summary manner, many large tracts of land; affording thus an opportunity to the King to commence his favourite plans for the improvement of the Highlands and Isles. It is not much to the credit of James, that the state papers relating to these projects show clearly that they sprung, not from the higher motives which have made some monarchs the benefactors of mankind, but from the necessity of replenishing an exchequer which had been drained chiefly by his private extravagance and by his excessive liberality to unworthy favourites."
No record has been kept of those who presented themselves in terms of the Act on the 15th of May 1598, but it is known that the islands of Lewis and Harris, and the lands of Dunvegan and Glenelg were declared to be at the disposal of the Crown, though it is undoubted that Eoderick Macleod of Harris held unexceptionable titles to the first three named. He, however, managed, after many difficulties, to retain his property; but it was different with the Macleods of Lewis. Donald Gorm of Sleat had only recently obtained a lease of their lands of Troternish, and this district as well as their whole island principality was now forfeited And granted to a company of Lowland adventurers, the principal of whom were the Duke of Lennox, Patrick, Commendator of Lindores; William, Commendator of Pittenweem; Sir James Anstruther, younger of that Ilk; Sir James Sandilands of Slamanno, James Leirmonth of Balcolmly, James Spens of Wormestoun, John Forret of Fhigask, David Home, younger of Wedderburn; and Captain William Murray. These, at the same time, received grants of the lands belonging to Macleod of Harris; but they were never able even to occupy them, and it is already known to the readers of " The History of the Mackenzies" in the Celtic Magazine how the more interested Island lords—Macleod of Harris, Donald Gorm of Sleat, and Mackenzie of Kintail—ultimately disposed of the Lowland adventurers and the Island of Lewis.
Tytler informs us, after describing the doings at Court, that in 1598
* This Act is given in full in the Transactions of the Iona Club, pp. 167-58.