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Title: The Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments, Volume II (of 2)
Author: Sir John Scott Keltie, - To be updated
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments, Volume II (of 2)" ***

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      also some music recordings.
      This volume originally was printed as four separate books
      (see transcriber's note below). Images of the original
      pages are available through Internet Archive.
      Book 5, pages 1-192:
      Book 6, pages 193-384:
      Book 7, pages 385-592:
      Book 8, pages 593-818:

Transcriber’s note

      This is Volume II of a two-volume set. The first volume can

      This 1875 edition originally was published in eight separate
      books as a subscription publication. The Preface, Title
      pages, Tables of Contents and Lists of Illustrations (the
      Front Matter) were published in the final eighth book, and
      referenced books 1-4 as Volume I, and books 5-8 as Volume II.
      This etext follows the same two-volume structure. The
      relevant Front Matter has been moved to the front of each
      volume, and some illustrations have been moved to where the
      two Lists of Illustrations indicate they should be. No text
      was added or changed when the books were seamlessly joined
      to make Volume I and Volume II.

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      Footnote anchors are denoted by [number], and the footnotes
      have been placed at the end of each chapter.

      A caret character is used to denote superscription. A
      single character following the caret is superscripted
      (example: C^o). Multiple superscripted characters are
      enclosed by curly brackets (example: 42^{nd}).

      Basic fractions are displayed as ½ ⅓ ¼ etc; other fractions
      are shown in the form a/b, for example 1/12 or 1/16.
      Regimental designations of the form a/b are unchanged, for
      example ‘1/4th Native Infantry’.

      In Chapter XLV the English translation of Gaelic text was
      usually positioned side by side with that text in the original
      book. In this etext the translation is positioned after the
      Gaelic passage. Several of these passages are quite long.

      Many tables in the original book (between pages 562 and 802)
      had } or { bracketing in some cells. These brackets are not
      helpful in the etext tables and have been removed to improve
      readability and save table space.

      The two tables on page 755 were very large in width and each
      has been split into two parts; the left-side ‘Names’ column
      has been duplicated in the second part.

      Many other minor changes to the text are noted at the end of
      the book.













  VOL. II.



  CHAPTER                                                          PAGE


   XLII. Social Condition of the Highlands--Chiefs--Land
         Distribution--Agriculture--Agricultural Implements--Live
         Stock--Pasturage--Farm Servants--Harvest Work--Fuel--Food
         --Social Life in Former Days--Education--Dwellings
         --Habits--Wages--Roads--Present State of Highlands,          1

  XLIII. State of Highlands subsequent to 1745--Progress of
         Innovation--Emigration--Pennant’s account of the country
         --Dr Johnson--Wretched condition of the Western Islands
         --Introduction of Large Sheep Farms--Ejection of Small
         Tenants--The Two Sides of the Highland Question--Large
         and Small Farms--Depopulation--Kelp--Introduction of
         Potatoes into the Highlands--Amount of Progress made
         during latter part of 18th century,                         31

   XLIV. Progress of Highlands during the present century
         --Depopulation and Emigration--Sutherland clearings
         --Recent State of Highlands--Means of Improvement
         --Population of chief Highland Counties--Highland
         Colonies--Attachment of Highlanders to their Old
         Home--Conclusion,                                           54

         THOMAS MACLAUCHLAN, LL.D., F.S.A.S.,                        66


      I. Clanship--Principle of _Kin_--Mormaordoms--Traditions
         as to Origin of Clans--Peculiarities and Consequences
         of Clanship--Customs of Succession--Highland Marriage
         Customs--Position and Power of Chief--Influence of
         Clanship on the People--Number and Distribution of
         Clans, &c.,                                                116

     II. The Gallgael or Western Clans--Lords of the Isles--The
         various Island Clans--The Macdonalds or Clan Donald--The
         Clanranald Macdonalds--The Macdonnells of Glengarry,       131

    III. The Macdougalls--Macalisters--Siol Gillevray--Macneills
         --Maclachlans--MacEwens--Siol Eachern--Macdougall
         Campbells of Craignish--Lamonds,                           139

     IV. Robertsons or Clan Donnachie--Macfarlanes--Argyll
         Campbells and offshoots--Breadalbane Campbells and
         offshoots--Macleods,                                       169

      V. CLAN CHATTAN--Mackintoshes--Macphersons--Macgillivrays
         --Macqueens--Cattanachs,                                   197

     VI. Camerons--Macleans--Macnaughtons--Mackenricks
         --Macknights--Macnayers--Macbraynes--Munroes--Macmillans,  217

    VII. Clan Anrias or Ross--Mackenzies--Mathiesons--Siol Alpine
         --Macgregors--Grants--Macnabs--Clan Duffie or Macfie
         --Macquarries--Macaulays,                                  235

   VIII. Mackays--Macnicols--Sutherlands--Gunns--Maclaurin or
         --Urquharts,                                               265

     IX. Stewarts--Frasers--Menzies--Chisholms--Stewart Murray
         --Ogilvies--Fergusons or Fergussons,                       297


  INTRODUCTION.--Military Character of the Highlands,               321

  42ND ROYAL HIGHLAND REGIMENT (Am Freiceadan Dubh, “The Black
  Watch”),                                                          324

        APPENDIX.--Ashantee Campaign,                               803

  Loudon’s Highlanders, 1745-1748,                                  451

  Montgomery’s Highlanders, or 77th Regiment, 1757-1763,            453

  Fraser’s Highlanders, or Old 78th and 71st Regiments--

        Old 78th, 1757-1763,                                        457

        Old 71st, 1775-1783,                                        465

  Keith’s and Campbell’s Highlanders, or Old 87th and 88th
  Regiments,                                                        475

  89th Highland Regiment, 1759-1765,                                478

  Johnstone’s Highlanders, or 101st Regiment, 1760-1763,            479

  71ST HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY, formerly the 73rd or Lord
  Macleod’s Highlanders,                                            479

  Argyle Highlanders, or Old 74th Regiment, 1778-1783,              519

  Macdonald’s Highlanders, or Old 76th Highland Regiment,           520

  Athole Highlanders, or Old 77th Regiment, 1778-1783,              522

  the 78th or Seaforth’s Highlanders,                               524

  Aberdeenshire Highland Regiment, or Old 81st, 1777-1783,          565

  Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment, or Old 84th, 1775-1783,         565

  Forty Second Royal Highland Regiment, Second Battalion, now
  the 73rd Regiment,                                                566

  74TH HIGHLANDERS,                                                 571

  75TH REGIMENT,                                                    616

  78TH HIGHLANDERS or ROSS-SHIRE BUFFS,                             617

  79TH QUEEN’S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS,                             697


  92ND GORDON HIGHLANDERS,                                          756

  93RD SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS,                                      777

  Appendix to the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch),
  1873-1875 (Ashantee Campaign),                                    803

  Fencible Corps,                                                   807

  INDEX,                                                            808



  Subject.                                 Painted by
                           Engraved by                            Page

  MAP SHOWING THE DISTRICTS OF THE }       Edited by Dr Maclauchlan,
  HIGHLAND CLANS,                  }
                           J. Bartholomew,              To face title.

                           W. Forrest,                             296

                           H. Crickmore,                           325

        (1.) John, Earl of Crawford.
        (2.) Sir George Murray, G.C.B., G.C.H.
        (3.) Sir John Macdonald, K.C.B.
        (4.) Sir Duncan A. Cameron, K.C.B.

  LORD CLYDE (Sir Colin Campbell),         H. W. Phillips,
                           W. Holl,                                409

  42ND ROYAL HIGHLANDERS,              }                           434

  COLONELS OF THE 71ST AND 72D HIGHLANDERS, From Original Sources,
                           H. Crickmore,                           479

        (1.) John, Lord Macleod.
        (2.) Sir Thomas Reynell, Bt., K.C.B.
        (3.) Kenneth, Earl of Seaforth.
        (4.) Sir Neil Douglas, K.C.B., K.C.H.

                           H. Crickmore,                           617

        (1.) F. H. Mackenzie, Lord Seaforth.
        (2.) Sir Patrick Grant, G.C.B., G.C.M.G.
        (3.) Sir Ronald Craufurd Ferguson, G.C.B.
        (4.) Sir James Macdonell, K.C.B., K.C.H.

  THE PRINCESS LOUISE,   From Photograph by Hill and Saunders,
                           W. Holl,                                726

  THE MARQUIS OF LORNE,  From Photograph by Elliot and Fry,
                           W. Holl,                                726

  COLONELS OF THE 91ST, 92D, AND }        From Original Sources
   93D HIGHLANDERS,              }
                           H. Crickmore,                           756

        (1.) General Duncan Campbell of Lochnell.
        (2.) George, Marquis of Huntly.
        (3.) Major-General W. Wemyss of Wemyss.
        (4.) Sir H. W. Stisted, K.C.B.

                           J. Bartholomew,                         777


  MACDONALD,                     136
  MACDOUGALL,                    159
  MACLACHLAN,                    165
  ARGYLL CAMPBELL,               175
  MACKINTOSH,                    201
  FARQUHARSON,                   215
  MACNAUGHTON,                   229
  MACGREGOR,                     243
  GRANT,                         250
  MACNAB,                        258
  MACKAY,                        266
  GUNN,                          278
  FORBES,                        290
  MENZIES,                       306


   74. Old Scotch plough, and Caschroim, or crooked spade,           9
   75. Quern, ancient Highland,                                     18
   76. A Cottage in Islay in 1774,                                  25
   77. Music, ancient Scottish, scale,                             106
   78. Macdonald coat of arms, crest, and motto,                   136
   79. Clanranald     ”          ”          ”                      153
   80. Macdonnell of Glengarry   ”          ”                      156
   81. Macdougall                ”          ”                      159
   82. Macneill                  ”          ”                      162
   83. Maclachlan                ”          ”                      165
   84. Lamond                    ”          ”                      168
   85. Robertson                 ”          ”                      169
   86. Macfarlane                ”          ”                      173
   87. Argyll Campbell           ”          ”                      175
   88. Breadalbane Campbell      ”          ”                      186
   89. Macleod                   ”          ”                      191
   90. Mackintosh                ”          ”                      201
   91. “Mackintosh’s Lament,” bagpipe music,                       204
   92. Dalcross Castle,                                            209
   93. Macpherson coat of arms, crest, and motto,                  210
   94. James Macpherson, editor of the Ossianic poetry,            211
   95. Farquharson coat of arms, crest, and motto,                 215
   96. Cameron          ”          ”          ”                    217
   97. Maclean          ”          ”          ”                    223
   98. Sir Allan Maclean,                                          227
   99. Macnaughton coat of arms, crest, and motto,                 229
  100. Munro of Foulis  ”          ”          ”                    231
  101. Ross             ”          ”          ”                    235
  102. Mackenzie        ”          ”          ”                    238
  103. Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh,                          240
  104. Macgregor coat of arms, crest, and motto,                   243
  105. Rob Roy,                                                    245
  106. Grant coat of arms, crest, and motto,                       250
  107. Castle Grant,                                               254
  108. Mackinnon coat of arms, crest, and motto,                   256
  109. Macnab         ”          ”          ”                      258
  110. The last Laird of Macnab,                                   261
  111. Macquarrie coat of arms, crest, and motto,                  262
  112. Mackay          ”          ”          ”                     266
  113. Sutherland      ”          ”          ”                     272
  114. Dunrobin Castle,                                            277
  115. Gunn coat of arms, crest, and motto,                        278
  116. Maclaurin (or Maclaren)    ”    ”                           279
  117. Macrae                     ”    ”                           280
  118. Buchanan                   ”    ”                           281
  119. Colquhoun                  ”    ”                           284
  120. Old Rossdhu Castle,                                         289
  121. Forbes coat of arms, crest, and motto,                      290
  122. Craigievar Castle,                                          294
  123. Urquhart coat of arms, crest, and motto,                    296
  124. Lorn          ”          ”          ”                       299
  125. Fraser        ”          ”          ”                       302
  126. Bishop Fraser’s Seal,                                       302
  127. Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth,                           303
  128. Menzies coat of arms, crest, and motto,                     306
  129. Chisholm     ”          ”          ”                        307
  130. Erchless Castle (seat of “the Chisholm”),                   308
  131. Stewart Murray (Athole) coat of arms, crest, and motto,     309
  132. Blair Castle, as restored in 1872,                          312
  133. Drummond coat of arms, crest, and motto,                    313
  134. Graham        ”          ”          ”                       314
  135. Gordon        ”          ”          ”                       316
  136. Gordon Castle,                                              318
  137. Cumming coat of arms, crest, and motto,                     318
  138. Ogilvy       ”          ”          ”                        319
  139. Crest and motto of 42nd Royal Highlanders,                  324
  140. Farquhar Shaw of the  “Black Watch” (1743),                 330
  141. Plan of the Siege of Ticonderoga (1758),                    338
  142. British Barracks, Philadelphia, in 1764,                    354
  143. Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt, Portrait,                    372
  144. } Regimental Medal of the 42nd Royal Highlanders,
  145. }   issued in 1819,                                         374
  146. Medal to the officers of the 42nd Royal Highlanders
         for services in Egypt,                                    374
  147. Colonel (afterwards Major-General Sir) Robert Henry
         Dick,                                                     396
  148. Vase presented to 42nd Royal Highlanders by the
          Highland Society of London,                              400
  149. Col. Johnstone’s (42nd) Cephalonian medal,                  407
  150. “Highland Pibroch,” bagpipe music,                          446
  151. View of Philadelphia, U.S., as in 1763,                     455
  152. Sir David Baird,                                            482
  153. Monument in Glasgow Cathedral to Colonel the Hon.
          Henry Cadogan (71st),                                    498
  154. Major-General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B.,                       504
  155. Monument erected by the 71st Highlanders in Glasgow
         Cathedral,                                                517
  156. Crest of the 72nd, Seaforth Highlanders,                    524
  157. General James Stuart,                                       530
  158. “Cabar Feidh,” bagpipe music,                               533
  159. Major-General William Parke, C.B.,                          557
  160. Map of Kaffraria,                                           564
  161. Crest of the 74th Highlanders,                              571
  162. Major-General Sir Archibald Campbell, Bart., K.C.B.
         (74th),                                                   572
  163. Plan of Assaye, 23rd Sept. 1803,                            574
  164. Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. Sir Robert Le Poer Trench
         (74th),                                                   583
  165. Medal conferred on the non-commissioned officers and
         men of the 74th for meritorious conduct during the
         Peninsular campaign,                                      591
  166. Waterkloof, scene of the death of Lieutenant-Colonel
         Fordyce (74th),                                           598
  167. Crest of the 78th Highlanders,                              617
  168. Facsimile of a poster issued by Lord Seaforth in Ross and
         Cromarty in raising the Ross-shire Buffs (78th),          618
  169. Plan of the Battle of Assaye,                               631
  170. Major-General Alexander Mackenzie-Fraser,                   642
  171. Colonel Patrick Macleod of Geanies (78th),                  650
  172. Major-General Sir Henry Havelock, K.C.B.,                   664
  173. Suttee Chowra Ghât, scene of the second Cawnpoor
          Massacre, 15th July 1857,                                668
  174. Plan of the action near Cawnpoor, 16th July 1857,           669
  175. Map of the scene of Havelock’s operations in July and
         August, 1857,                                             671
  176. Mausoleum over the Well of the Massacre at Cawnpoor,        672
  177. Plan of the operations for the relief of Lucknow in
         September and November, 1857,                             677
  178. Monument to the memory of the 78th Highlanders, erected
         on Castle Esplanade, Edinburgh,                           689
  179. Centre Piece of Plate presented by the counties of Ross
         and Cromarty to the 78th, Ross-shire Buffs,               691
  180. Crest of the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders,          697
  181. Major-General Sir John Douglas, K.C.B.,                     711
  182. Richard James Mackenzie, M.D., F.R.C.S.,                    715
  183. Lieutenant-Colonel W. C. Hodgson (79th),                    719
  184. Monument erected in 1857 in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh,
         in memory of the 79th who fell in action during the
         campaign of 1854-55,                                      722
  185. Crest of the 91st Princess Louise Argyllshire Highlanders,  726
  186. The 91st crossing the Tyumie or Chumie River,               737
  187. Brass Tablet erected in 1873 in Chelsea Hospital to the
         memory of Colonel Edward W. C. Wright, C.B. (91st),       742
  188. Lieutenant-Colonel Bertie Gordon (91st),                    744
  189. Major-General John F. G. Campbell (91st),                   746
  190. Biscuit-Box presented by the men of the 91st Princess
         Louise Argyllshire Highlanders to the Princess Louise
         on the occasion of her marriage,                          752
  191. Crest of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders,                       756
  192. General Sir John Moore,                                     758
  193. Coat of Arms of Col. John Cameron (92nd),                   762
  194. Colonel John Cameron (92nd),                                764
  195. Sir John Macdonald, K.C.B., of Dalchosnie,                  768
  196. Major-General Archibald Inglis Lockhart, C.B. (92nd),       770
  197. Badge of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders,                   777
  198. Sir Duncan M’Gregor, K.C.B.,                                782
  199. The Hon. Adrian Hope (93rd),                                788
  200. The Secunder Bagh,                                          791
  201. Lieutenant-Colonel Wm. M’Bean, V.C. (93rd),                 800
  202. Centre Piece of Plate, belonging to the Officers’ Mess
          of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders,                      801
  203. Map of Ashantee Country and Gold Coast,                     803
  204. Sir Garnet J. Wolseley, K.C.M.G., C.B.,                     804
  205. Sir John C. M’Leod, K.C.B. (42nd),                          805

PART FIRST--_Continued_.



  Social condition of the Highlands--Black Mail--Watch Money--The
  Law--Power of the Chiefs--Land Distribution--Tacksmen--Tenants
  --Rents--Thirlage--Wretched State of Agriculture--Agricultural
  Implements--The _Caschroim_--The _Reestle_--Methods of
  Transportation--Drawbacks to Cultivation--Management of Crops
  --Farm Work--Live Stock--_Garrons_--Sheep--Black Cattle--Arable
  Land--Pasturage--Farm Servants--The _Bailte Geamhre_--Davoch-lands
  --Milk--Cattle Drovers--Harvest Work--The _Quern_--Fuel--Food
  --_Social Life in Former Days_--Education--Dwellings--Habits
  --_Gartmore Papers_--Wages--Roads--Present State of Highlands.

As we have already (see ch. xviii.) given a somewhat minute
description of the clan-system, it is unnecessary to enter again
in detail upon that subject here. We have, perhaps, in the chapter
referred to, given the most brilliant side of the picture, still
the reader may gather, from what is said there, some notion of what
had to be done, what immense barriers had to be overcome, ere the
Highlander could be modernised. Any further details on this point
will be learned from the Introduction to the History of the Clans.

As might have been expected, for some time after the allaying of the
rebellion, and the passing of the various measures already referred
to, the Highlands, especially those parts which bordered on the
Lowlands, were to a certain extent infested by what were known as
cattle-lifters--_Anglicé_, cattle-stealers. Those who took part in
such expeditions were generally “broken” men, or men who belonged to
no particular clan, owned no chief, and who were regarded generally
as outlaws. In a paper said to have been written in 1747, a very
gloomy and lamentable picture of the state of the country in this
respect is given, although we suspect it refers rather to the period
preceding the rebellion than to that succeeding it. However, we shall
quote what the writer says on the matter in question, in order to
give the reader an idea of the nature and extent of this system of
pillage or “requisition:”--

“Although the poverty of the people principally produces these
practices so ruinous to society, yet the nature of the country,
which is thinnely inhabitate, by reason of the extensive moors and
mountains, and which is so well fitted for conceallments by the
many glens, dens, and cavitys in it, does not a little contribute.
In such a country cattle are privately transported from one place
to another, and securely hid, and in such a country it is not easy
to get informations, nor to apprehend the criminalls. People lye
so open to their resentment, either for giving intelligence, or
prosecuting them, that they decline either, rather than risk their
cattle being stoln, or their houses burnt. And then, in the pursuit
of a rogue, though he was almost in hands, the grounds are so hilly
and unequall, and so much covered with wood or brush, and so full of
dens and hollows, that the sight of him is almost as soon lost as he
is discovered.

“It is not easy to determine the number of persons employed in this
way; but it may be safely affirmed that the horses, cows, sheep, and
goats yearly stoln in that country are in value equall to £5,000;
that the expences lost in the fruitless endeavours to recover them
will not be less than £2,000; that the extraordinary expences of
keeping herds and servants to look more narrowly after cattle on
account of stealling, otherways not necessary, is £10,000. There is
paid in _blackmail_ or _watch-money_, openly and privately, £5,000;
and there is a yearly loss by understocking the grounds, by reason
of theifts, of at least £15,000; which is, altogether, a loss to
landlords and farmers in the Highlands of £37,000 sterling a year.
But, besides, if we consider that at least one-half of these stollen
effects quite perish, by reason that a part of them is buried under
ground, the rest is rather devoured than eat, and so what would serve
ten men in the ordinary way of living, swallowed up by two or three
to put it soon out of the way, and that some part of it is destroyed
in concealed parts when a discovery is suspected, we must allow that
there is £2,500 as the value of the half of the stollen cattle, and
£15,000 for the article of understock quite lost of the stock of the

“These last mischiefs occasions another, which is still worse,
although intended as a remedy for them--that is, the engaging
companys of men, and keeping them in pay to prevent these thiefts
and depredations. As the government neglect the country, and don’t
protect the subjects in the possession of their property, they have
been forced into this method for their own security, though at a
charge little less than the land-tax. The person chosen to command
this _watch_, as it is called, is commonly one deeply concerned in
the theifts himself, or at least that hath been in correspondence
with the thieves, and frequently who hath occasioned thiefts, in
order to make this watch, by which he gains considerably, necessary.
The people employed travell through the country armed, night and day,
under pretence of enquiring after stollen cattle, and by this means
know the situation and circumstances of the whole country. And as the
people thus employed are the very rogues that do these mischiefs,
so one-half of them are continued in their former bussiness of
stealling that the busieness of the other half may be necessary in

This is probably a somewhat exaggerated account of the extent to
which this species of robbery was carried on, especially after the
suppression of the rebellion; if written by one of the Gartmore
family, it can scarcely be regarded as a disinterested account,
seeing that the Gartmore estate lies just on the southern skirt of
the Highland parish of Aberfoyle, formerly notorious as a haunt
of the Macgregors, affording every facility for lifters getting
rapidly out of reach with their “ill-gotten gear.” Still, no doubt,
curbed and dispirited as the Highlanders were after the treatment
they got from Cumberland, from old habit, and the assumed necessity
of living, they would attempt to resume their ancient practices in
this and other respects. But if they were carried on to any extent
immediately after the rebellion, when the Gartmore paper is said to
have been written, it could not have been for long; the law had at
last reached the Highlands, and this practice ere long became rarer
than highway robbery in England, gradually dwindling down until it
was carried on here and there by one or two “desperate outlawed” men.
Long before the end of the century it seems to have been entirely
given up. “There is not an instance of any country having made so
sudden a change in its morals as that of the Highlands; security and
civilization now possess every part; yet 30 years have not elapsed
since the whole was a den of thieves of the most extraordinary

As we have said above, after the suppression of the rebellion of
1745-6, there are no stirring narratives of outward strife or inward
broil to be narrated in connection with the Highlands. Indeed, the
history of the Highlands from this time onwards belongs strictly
to the history of Scotland, or rather of Britain. Still, before
concluding this division of the work, it may be well to give a
brief sketch of the progress of the Highlands from the time of the
suppression of the jurisdictions down to the present day. Not that
after their disarmament the Highlanders ceased to take part in the
world’s strife; but the important part they have taken during the
last century or more in settling the destinies of nations, falls to
be narrated in another section of this work. What we shall concern
ourselves with at present is the consequences of the abolition of
the heritable jurisdictions (and with them the importance and power
of the chiefs), on the internal state of the Highlands; we shall
endeavour to show the alteration which took place in the social
condition of the people, their mode of life, their relation to the
chiefs (now only landlords), their mode of farming, their religion,
education, and other points.

From the nature of clanship--of the relationship between chief and
people, as well as from the state of the law and the state of the
Highlands generally--it will be perceived that, previous to the
measure which followed Culloden, it was the interest of every chief
to surround himself with as many followers as he could muster;
his importance and power of injury and defence were reckoned by
government and his neighbours not according to his yearly income,
but according to the number of men he could bring into the field
to fight his own or his country’s battles. It is told of a chief
that, when asked as to the rent of his estate, he replied that he
could raise 500 men. Previous to ’45, money was of so little use
in the Highlands, the chiefs were so jealous of each other and so
ready to take advantage of each other’s weakness, the law was so
utterly powerless to repress crime and redress wrong, and life and
property were so insecure, that almost the only security which a
chief could have was the possession of a small army of followers,
who would protect himself and his property; and the chief safety and
means of livelihood that lay in the power of the ordinary clansman
was to place himself under the protection and among the followers
of some powerful chief. “Before that period (1745) the authority
of law was too feeble to afford protection.[3] The obstructions to
the execution of any legal warrant were such that it was only for
objects of great public concern that an extraordinary effort was
sometimes made to overcome them. In any ordinary case of private
injury, an individual could have little expectation of redress
unless he could avenge his own cause; and the only hope of safety
from any attack was in meeting force by force. In this state of
things, every person above the common rank depended for his safety
and his consequence on the number and attachment of his servants
and dependants; without people ready to defend him, he could not
expect to sleep in safety, to preserve his house from pillage or his
family from murder; he must have submitted to the insolence of every
neighbouring robber, unless he had maintained a numerous train of
followers to go with him into the field, and to fight his battles. To
this essential object every inferior consideration was sacrificed;
and the principal advantage of landed property consisted in the means
it afforded to the proprietor of multiplying his dependants.”[4]

Of course, the chief had to maintain his followers in some way,
had to find some means by which he would be able to attach them to
himself, keep them near him, and command their services when he
required them. There can be no doubt, however chimerical it may
appear at the present day, that the attachment and reverence of the
Highlander to his chief were quite independent of any benefits the
latter might be able to confer. The evidence is indubitable that the
clan regarded the chief as the father of his people, and themselves
as his children; he, they believed, was bound to protect and maintain
them, while they were bound to regard his will as law, and to lay
down their lives at his command. Of these statements there can be
no doubt. “This power of the chiefs is not supported by interest, as
they are landlords, but as lineally descended from the old patriarchs
or fathers of the families, for they hold the same authority when
they have lost their estates, as may appear from several, and
particularly one who commands in his clan, though, at the same time,
they maintain him, having nothing left of his own.”[5] Still it was
assuredly the interest, and was universally regarded as the duty of
the chief, to strengthen that attachment and his own authority and
influence, by bestowing upon his followers what material benefits
he could command, and thus show himself to be, not a thankless
tyrant, but a kind and grateful leader, and an affectionate father
of his people. Theoretically, in the eye of the law, the tenure and
distribution of land in the Highlands was on the same footing as in
the rest of the kingdom; the chiefs, like the lowland barons, were
supposed to hold their lands from the monarch, the nominal proprietor
of all landed property, and these again in the same way distributed
portions of this territory among their followers, who thus bore the
same relation to the chief as the latter did to his superior, the
king. In the eye of the law, we say, this was the case, and so those
of the chiefs who were engaged in the rebellion of 1715-45 were
subjected to forfeiture in the same way as any lowland rebel. But,
practically, the great body of the Highlanders knew nothing of such
a tenure, and even if it had been possible to make them understand
it, they would probably have repudiated it with contempt. The great
principle which seems to have ruled all the relations that subsisted
between the chief and his clan, including the mode of distributing
and holding land, was, previous to 1746, that of the family. The
land was regarded not so much as belonging absolutely to the chief,
but as the property of the clan of which the chief was head and
representative. Not only was the clan bound to render obedience
and reverence to their head, to whom each member supposed himself
related, and whose name was the common name of all his people; he
also was regarded as bound to maintain and protect his people, and
distribute among them a fair share of the lands which he held as
their representative. “The chief, even against the laws, is bound to
protect his followers, as they are sometimes called, be they never
so criminal. He is their leader in clan quarrels, must free the
necessitous from their arrears of rent, and maintain such who, by
accidents, are fallen into decay. If, by increase of the tribe, any
small farms are wanting, for the support of such addition he splits
others into lesser portions, because _all must be somehow provided
for_; and as the meanest among them pretend to be his relatives by
consanguinity, they insist upon the privilege of taking him by the
hand wherever they meet him.”[6] Thus it was considered the duty,
as it was in those turbulent times undoubtedly the interest, of the
chief to see to it that every one of those who looked upon him as
their chief was provided for; while, on the other hand, it was the
interest of the people, as they no doubt felt it to be their duty, to
do all in their power to gain the favour of their chiefs, whose will
was law, who could make or unmake them, on whom their very existence
was dependent. Latterly, at least, this utter dependence of the
people on their chiefs, their being compelled for very life’s sake
to do his bidding, appears to have been regarded by the former as a
great hardship; for, as we have already said, it is well known that
in both of the rebellions of last century, many of the poor clansmen
pled in justification of their conduct, that they were compelled,
sorely against their inclination, to join the rebel army. This only
proves how strong must have been the power of the chiefs, and how
completely at their mercy the people felt themselves to be.

To understand adequately the social life of the Highlanders previous
to 1746, the distribution of the land among, the nature of their
tenures, their mode of farming, and similar matters, the facts
above stated must be borne in mind. Indeed, not only did the above
influences affect these matters previous to the suppression of the
last rebellion, but also for long after, if, indeed, they are not in
active operation in some remote corners of the Highlands even at the
present day; moreover, they afford a key to much of the confusion,
misunderstanding, and misery that followed upon the abolition of the
heritable jurisdictions.

Next in importance and dignity to the chief or laird were the
cadets of his family, the gentlemen of the clan, who in reference
to the mode in which they held the land allotted to them, were
denominated tacksmen. To these tacksmen were let farms, of a larger
or smaller size according to their importance, and often at a rent
merely nominal; indeed, they in general seem to have considered
that they had as much right to the land as the chief himself, and
when, after 1746, many of them were deprived of their farms, they,
and the Highlanders generally, regarded it as a piece of gross and
unfeeling injustice. As sons were born to the chief, they also had
to be provided for, which seems to have been done either by cutting
down the possessions of those tacksmen further removed from the
family of the laird, appropriating those which became vacant by the
death of the tenant or otherwise, and by the chief himself cutting
off a portion of the land immediately in his possession. In this
way the descendants of tacksmen might ultimately become part of the
commonalty of the clan. Next to the tacksmen were tenants, who held
their farms either directly from the laird, or as was more generally
the case, from the tacksmen. The tenants again frequently let out
part of their holdings to sub-tenants or cottars, who paid their rent
by devoting most of their time to the cultivation of the tenant’s
farm, and the tending of his cattle. The following extract from the
Gartmore paper written in 1747, and published in the appendix to
Burt’s _Letters_, gives a good idea of the manner generally followed
in distributing the land among the various branches of the clan:--

“The property of these Highlands belongs to a great many different
persons, who are more or less considerable in proportion to the
extent of their estates, and to the command of men that live upon
them, or follow them on account of their clanship, out of the estates
of others. These lands are set by the landlord during pleasure, or
a short tack, to people whom they call good-men, and who are of a
superior station to the commonality. These are generally the sons,
brothers, cousins, or nearest relations of the landlord. The younger
sons of famillys are not bred to any business or employments, but are
sent to the French or Spanish armies, or marry as soon as they are of
age. Those are left to their own good fortune and conduct abroad, and
these are preferred to some advantageous farm at home. This, by the
means of a small portion, and the liberality of their relations, they
are able to stock, and which they, their children, and grandchildren,
possess at an easy rent, till a nearer descendant be again preferred
to it. As the propinquity removes, they become less considered, till
at last they degenerate to be of the common people; unless some
accidental acquisition of wealth supports them above their station.
As this hath been an ancient custom, most of the farmers and cottars
are of the name and clan of the proprietor; and, if they are not
really so, the proprietor either obliges them to assume it, or they
are glaid to do so, to procure his protection and favour.

“Some of these tacksmen or good-men possess these farms themselves;
but in that case they keep in them a great number of cottars, to each
of whom they give a house, grass for a cow or two, and as much ground
as will sow about a boll of oats, in places which their own plough
cannot labour, by reason of brush or rock, and which they are obliged
in many places to delve with spades. This is the only visible subject
which these poor people possess for supporting themselves and their
famillys, and the only wages of their whole labour and service.

“Others of them lett out parts of their farms to many of these
cottars or subtennants; and as they are generally poor, and not
allways in a capacity to stock these small tenements, the tacksmen
frequently enter them on the ground laboured and sown, and sometimes
too stocks it with cattle; all which he is obliged to redeliver
in the same condition at his removal, which is at the goodman’s
pleasure, as he is usually himself tennent at pleasure, and for which
during his possession he pays an extravagantly high rent to the

“By this practice, farms, which one family and four horses are
sufficient to labour, will have from four to sixteen famillys living
upon them.”[7]

“In the case of very great families, or when the domains of a
chief became very extensive, it was usual for the head of the clan
occasionally to grant large territories to the younger branches of
his family in return for a trifling quit-rent. These persons were
called chieftains, to whom the lower classes looked up as their
immediate leader. These chieftains were in later times called
tacksmen; but at all periods they were considered nearly in the same
light as proprietors, and acted on the same principles. They were the
officers who, under the chief, commanded in the military expeditions
of the clans. This was their employment; and neither their own
dispositions, nor the situation of the country, inclined them to
engage in the drudgery of agriculture any farther than to supply the
necessaries of life for their own families. A part of their land was
usually sufficient for this purpose, and the remainder was let off
in small portions to cottagers, who differed but little from the
small occupiers who held their lands immediately from the chief;
excepting that, in lieu of rent, they were bound to a certain amount
of labour for the advantage of their immediate superior. The more
of these people any gentleman could collect around his habitation,
with the greater facility could he carry on the work of his own
farm; the greater, too, was his personal safety. Besides this, the
tacksmen, holding their lands from the chief at a mere quit-rent,
were naturally solicitous to merit his favour by the number of their
immediate dependants whom they could bring to join his standard.”[8]

Thus it will be seen that in those times every one was, to a more or
less extent, a cultivator or renter of land. As to rent, there was
very little of actual money paid either by the tacksmen or by those
beneath them in position and importance. The return expected by the
laird or chief from the tacksmen for the farms he allowed them to
hold, was that they should be ready when required to produce as many
fighting men as possible, and give him a certain share of the produce
of the land they held from him. It was thus the interest of the
tacksman to parcel out their land into as small lots as possible,
for the more it was subdivided, the greater would be the number of
men he could have at his command. This liability on the part of the
subtenants to be called upon at any time to do service for the laird,
no doubt counted for part of the rent of the pendicles allotted
to them. These pendicles were often very small, and evidently of
themselves totally insufficient to afford the means of subsistence
even to the smallest family. Besides this liability to do service for
the chief, a very small sum of money was taken as part of the rent,
the remainder being paid in kind, and in assisting the tacksmen to
farm whatever land he may have retained in his own hands. In the same
way the cottars, who were subtenants to the tacksmen’s tenants, had
to devote most of their time to the service of those from whom they
immediately held their lands. Thus it will be seen that, although
nominally the various tenants held their land from their immediate
superiors at a merely nominal rent, in reality what was actually
given in return for the use of the land would, in the end, probably
turn out to be far more than its value. From the laird to the cottar
there was an incessant series of exactions and services, grievous to
be borne, and fatal to every kind of improvement.

Besides the rent and services due by each class to its immediate
superiors, there were numerous other exactions and services, to which
all had to submit for the benefit of their chief. The most grievous
perhaps of these was thirlage or multure, a due exacted from each
tenant for the use of the mill of the district to convert their grain
into meal. All the tenants of each district or parish were thirled
or bound to take their grain to a particular mill to be ground, the
miller being allowed to appropriate a certain proportion as payment
for the use of the mill, and as a tax payable to the laird or chief.
In this way a tenant was often deprived of a considerable quantity of
his grain, varying from one-sixteenth to one-eighth, and even more.
In the same way many parishes were thirled to a particular smith. By
these and similar exactions and contributions did the proprietors
and chief men of the clan manage to support themselves off the
produce of their land, keep a numerous band of retainers around
them, have plenty for their own use, and for all who had any claim
to their hospitality. This seems especially to have been the case
when the Highlanders were in their palmiest days of independence,
when they were but little molested from without, and when their chief
occupations were clan-feuds and cattle raids. But latterly, and
long before the abolition of heritable jurisdictions, this state of
matters had for the most part departed, and although the chiefs still
valued themselves by the number of men they could produce, they kept
themselves much more to themselves, and showed less consideration
for the inferior members of the clan, whose condition, even at its
best, must appear to have been very wretched. “Of old, the chieftain
was not so much considered the master as the father of his numerous
clan. Every degree of these followers loved him with an enthusiasm,
which made them cheerfully undergo any fatigue or danger. Upon the
other hand, it was his interest, his pride, and his chief glory, to
requite such animated friendship to the utmost of his power. The rent
paid him was chiefly consumed in feasts given at the habitations of
his tenants. What he was to spend, and the time of his residence at
each village, was known and provided for accordingly. The men who
provided these entertainments partook of them; they all lived friends
together; and the departure of the chief and his retinue never fails
to occasion regret. In more polished times, the cattle and corn
consumed at these feasts of hospitality, were ordered up to the
landlord’s habitation. What was friendship at the first became very
oppressive in modern times. Till very lately in this neighbourhood,
Campbell of Auchinbreck had a right to carry off the best cow he
could find upon several properties at each Martinmas by way of mart.
The Island of Islay paid 500 such cows yearly, and so did Kintyre
to the Macdonalds.”[9] Still, there can be no doubt, that previous
to 1746 it was the interest of the laird and chief tacksmen to keep
the body of the people as contented as possible, and do all in their
power to attach them to their interest. Money was of but little use
in the Highlands then; there was scarcely anything in which it could
be spent; and so long as his tenants furnished him with the means
of maintaining a substantial and extensive hospitality, the laird
was not likely in general to complain. “The poverty of the tenants
rendered it customary for the chief, or laird, to free some of them
every year, from all arrears of rent; this was supposed, upon an
average, to be about one year in five of the whole estate.”[10]

In the same letter from which the last sentence is quoted, Captain
Burt gives an extract from a Highland rent-roll, of date probably
about 1730; we shall reproduce it here, as it will give the reader
a better notion as to how those matters were managed in these old
times, than any description can. “You will, it is likely,” the letter
begins, “think it strange that many of the Highland tenants are to
maintain a family upon a farm of twelve merks Scots per annum, which
is thirteen shillings and fourpence sterling, with perhaps a cow or
two, or a very few sheep or goats; but often the rent is less, and
the cattle are wanting.

“In some rentals you may see seven or eight columns of various
species of rent, or more, viz., money, barley, oatmeal, sheep, lambs,
butter, cheese, capons, &c.; but every tenant does not pay all these
kinds, though many of them the greatest part. What follows is a
specimen taken out of a Highland rent-roll, and I do assure you it is
genuine, and not the least by many:--

                   Scots Money.   English.  Butter.  Oatmeal.   Muttons.
                                          Stones.  Bolls.
                                              Lb.Oz.   B.P.Lip.
  Donald mac Oil vic
      ille Challum     £3 10 4   £0  5 10⅛   0 3 2   0 2 1 3   ⅛ and 1/16
  Murdoch mac ille
      Christ            5 17 6    0  9  9⅛   0 6 4   0 3 3 3   ¼ and 1/16
  Duncan mac ille
      Phadrick          7  0 6    0 12  3½   0 7 8   1 0 3 0½  ¼ and ⅛

I shall here give you a computation of the first article, besides
which there are seven more of the same farm and rent, as you may
perceive by the fraction of a sheep in the last column:--

  The money                                          £0  5 10⅛ Sterling.
  The butter, three pounds two ounces, at 4d. per lb  0  1  1½
  Oatmeal, 2 bushels, 1 peck, 3 lippys and ¼, at 6d.
      per peck                                        0  4  9¼ and ½
  Sheep, one-eighth and one-sixteenth, at 2s          0  0  4½
              The yearly rent of the farm is         £0 12  1½ and 1/12.”

It is plain that in the majority of cases the farms must have been
of very small extent, almost equal to those of Goldsmith’s Golden
Age, “when every rood maintained its man.” “In the head of the parish
of Buchanan in Stirlingshire, as well as in several other places,
there are to be found 150 families living upon grounds which do not
pay above £90 sterling of yearly rent, that is, each family at a
medium rents lands at twelve shillings of yearly rent.”[11] This
certainly seems to indicate a very wretched state of matters, and
would almost lead one to expect to hear that a famine occurred every
year. But it must be remembered that for the reasons above given,
along with others, farms were let at a very small rent, far below
the real value, and generally merely nominal; that besides money,
rent at that time was all but universally paid in kind, and in
services to the laird or other superior; and that many of the people,
especially on the border lands, had other means of existence, as for
example, cattle-lifting. Nevertheless, making all these allowances,
the condition of the great mass of the Highlanders must have been
extremely wretched, although they themselves might not have felt it
to be so, they had been so long accustomed to it.

In such a state of matters, with the land so much subdivided, with
no leases, and with tenures so uncertain, with so many oppressive
exactions, with no incitements to industry or improvement, but with
every encouragement to idleness and inglorious self-contentment,
it is not to be supposed that agriculture or any other industry
would make any great progress. For centuries previous to 1745, and
indeed for long after it, agriculture appears to have remained at a
stand-still. The implements in use were rude and inefficient, the
time devoted to the necessary farming operations, generally a few
weeks in spring and autumn, was totally insufficient to produce
results of any importance, and consequently the crops raised, seldom
anything else but oats and barley, were scanty, wretched in quality,
and seldom sufficient to support the cultivator’s family for the
half of the year. In general, in the Highlands, as the reader will
already have seen, each farm was let to a number of tenants, who,
as a rule, cultivated the arable ground on the system of run-rig,
_i.e._, the ground was divided into ridges which were so distributed
among the tenants that no one tenant possessed two contiguous ridges.
Moreover, no tenant could have the same ridge for two years running,
the ridges having a new cultivator every year. Such a system of
allocating arable land, it is very evident, must have been attended
with the worst results so far as good farming is concerned. The only
recommendation that it is possible to urge in its favour is that,
there being no inclosures, it would be the interest of the tenants to
join together in protecting the land they thus held in common against
the ravages of the cattle which were allowed to roam about the hills,
and the depredations of hostile clans. As we have just said, there
were no inclosures in the Highlands previous to 1745, nor were there
for very many years after that. While the crops were standing in
the ground, and liable to be destroyed by the cattle, the latter
were kept, for a few weeks in summer and autumn, upon the hills; but
after the crops were gathered in, they were allowed to roam unheeded
through the whole of a district or parish, thus affording facilities
for the cattle-raids that formed so important an item in the means of
obtaining a livelihood among the ancient Highlanders.

As a rule, the only crops attempted to be raised were oats and
barley, and sometimes a little flax; green crops were almost totally
unknown or despised, till many years after 1745; even potatoes
do not seem to have been at all common till after 1750, although
latterly they became the staple food of the Highlanders. Rotation
of crops, or indeed any approach to scientific agriculture, was
totally unknown. The ground was divided into infield and outfield.
The infield was constantly cropped, either with oats or bear; one
ridge being oats, the other bear alternately. There was no other crop
except a ridge of flax where the ground was thought proper for it.
The outfield was ploughed three years for oats, and then pastured for
six years with horses, black cattle, and sheep. In order to dung it,
folds of sod were made for the cattle, and what were called flakes or
rails of wood, removable at pleasure, for folding the sheep. A farmer
who rented 60, 80, or 100 acres, was sometimes under the necessity of
buying meal for his family in the summer season.[12]

[Illustration: 1. Old Scotch plough. 2. _Caschroim_, or crooked

Their agricultural implements, it may easily be surmised, were as
rude as their system of farming. The chief of these were the old
Scotch plough and the _caschroim_ or crooked spade, which latter,
though primitive enough, seems to have been not badly suited to the
turning over of the land in many parts of the Highlands. The length
of the Highland plough was about four feet and a half, and had only
one stilt or handle, by which the ploughman directed it. A slight
mould-board was fastened to it with two leather straps, and the sock
and coulter were bound together at the point with a ring of iron.
To this plough there were yoked abreast four, six, and even more
horses or cattle, or both mixed, in traces made of thongs of leather.
To manage this unwieldy machine it required three or four men. The
ploughman walked by the side of the plough, holding the stilt with
one hand; the driver walked backwards in front of the horses or
cattle, having the reins fixed on a cross stick, which he appears
to have held in his hands.[13] Behind the ploughman came one and
sometimes two men, whose business it was to lay down with a spade the
turf that was torn off. In the Hebrides and some other places of the
Highlands, a curious instrument called a _Reestle_ or _Restle_, was
used in conjunction with this plough. Its coulter was shaped somewhat
like a sickle, the instrument itself being otherwise like the plough
just described. It was drawn by one horse, which was led by a man,
another man holding and directing it by the stilt. It was drawn
before the plough in order to remove obstructions, such as roots,
tough grass, &c., which would have been apt to obstruct the progress
of a weak plough like the above. In this way, it will be seen, five
or six men, and an equal number if not more horses or cattle, were
occupied in this single agricultural operation, performed now much
more effectively by one man and two horses.[14]

The _Caschroim_, _i.e._, the crooked foot or spade, was an instrument
peculiarly suited to the cultivation of certain parts of the
Highlands, totally inaccessible to a plough, on account of the broken
and rocky nature of the ground. Moreover, the land turned over with
the caschroim was considerably more productive than that to which the
above plough had been used. It consists of a strong piece of wood,
about six feet long, bent near the lower end, and having a thick
flat wooden head, shod at the extremity with a sharp piece of iron.
A piece of wood projected about eight inches from the right side of
the blade, and on this the foot was placed to force the instrument
diagonally into the ground. “With this instrument a Highlander will
open up more ground in a day, and render it fit for the sowing of
grain, than could be done by two or three men with any other spades
that are commonly used. He will dig as much ground in a day as will
sow more than a peck of oats. If he works assiduously from about
Christmas to near the end of April, he will prepare land sufficient
to sow five bolls. After this he will dig as much land in a day as
will sow two pecks of bere; and in the course of the season will
cultivate as much land with his spade as is sufficient to supply
a family of seven or eight persons, the year round, with meal and
potatoes.... It appears, in general, that a field laboured with the
caschroim affords usually one-third more crop than if laboured
with the plough. Poor land will afford near one-half more. But
then it must be noticed that this tillage with the plough is very
imperfect, and the soil scarcely half laboured.”[15] No doubt this
mode of cultivation was suitable enough in a country overstocked with
population, as the Highlands were in the early part of last century,
and where time and labour were of very little value. There were
plenty of men to spare for such work, and there was little else to do
but provide themselves with food. Still it is calculated that this
spade labour was three times more expensive than that of the above
clumsy plough. The caschroim was frequently used where there would
have been no difficulty in working a plough, the reason apparently
being that the horses and cattle were in such a wretched condition
that the early farming operations in spring completely exhausted
them, and therefore much of the ploughing left undone by them had to
be performed with the crooked spade.

As to harrows, where they were used at all, they appear to have been
of about as little use as a hand-rake. Some of them, which resembled
hay-rakes, were managed by the hand; others, drawn by horses,
were light and feeble, with wooden teeth, which might scratch the
surface and cover the seed, but could have no effect in breaking the
soil.[16] In some parts of the Highlands it was the custom to fasten
the harrow to the horse’s tail, and when it became too short, it was
lengthened with twisted sticks.

To quote further from Dr Walker’s work, which describes matters as
they existed about 1760, and the statements in which will apply with
still greater force to the earlier half of the century:--“The want
of proper carriages in the Highlands is one of the great obstacles
to the progress of agriculture, and of every improvement. Having no
carts, their corn, straw, manures, fuel, stone, timber, sea-weed, and
kelp, the articles necessary in the fisheries, and every other bulky
commodity, must be transported from one place to another on horseback
or on sledges. This must triple or quadruple the expense of their
carriage. It must prevent particularly the use of the natural manures
with which the country abounds, as, without cheap carriage, they
cannot be rendered profitable. The roads in most places are so bad
as to render the use of wheel-carriages impossible; but they are not
brought into use even where the natural roads would admit them.”[17]

As we have said already, farming operations in the Highlands lasted
only for a few weeks in spring and autumn. Ploughing in general
did not commence till March, and was concluded in May; there was
no autumn or winter ploughing; the ground was left untouched and
unoccupied but by some cattle from harvest to spring-time. It was
only after the introduction of potatoes that the Highlanders felt
themselves compelled to begin operations about January. As to the
_modus operandi_ of the Highland farmer in the olden time, we quote
the following from the old Statistical Account of the parish of
Dunkeld and Dowally, which may be taken as a very fair representative
of all the other Highland parishes; indeed, as being on the border
of the lowlands, it may be regarded as having been, with regard to
agriculture and other matters, in a more advanced state than the
generality of the more remote parishes:--“The farmer, whatever the
state of the weather was, obstinately adhered to the immemorial
practice of beginning to plough on Old Candlemas Day, and to sow
on the 20th of March. Summer fallow, turnip crops, and sown grass
were unknown; so were compost dunghills and the purchasing of lime.
Clumps of brushwood and heaps of stones everywhere interrupted and
deformed the fields. The customary rotation of their general crops
was--1. Barley; 2. Oats; 3. Oats; 4. Barley; and each year they had a
part of the farm employed in raising flax. The operations respecting
these took place in the following succession. They began on the day
already mentioned to _rib_ the ground, on which they intended to sow
barley, that is, to draw a wide furrow, so as merely to make the
land, as they termed it, red. In that state this ground remained
till the fields assigned to oats were ploughed and sown. This was in
general accomplished by the end of April. The farmer next proceeded
to prepare for his flax crop, and to sow it, which occupied him till
the middle of May, when he began to harrow, and dung, and sow the
ribbed barley land. This last was sometimes not finished till the
month of June.”[18] As to draining, fallowing, methodical manuring
and nourishing the soil, or any of the modern operations for making
the best of the arable land of the country, of these the Highlander
never even dreamed; and long after[19] they had become common in
the low country, it was with the utmost difficulty that his rooted
aversion to innovations could be overcome. They literally seem to
have taken no thought for the morrow, and the tradition and usage
of ages had given them an almost insuperable aversion to manual
labour of any kind. This prejudice against work was not the result
of inherent laziness, for the Highlander, both in ancient and modern
times, has clearly shown that his capacity for work and willingness
to exert himself are as strong and active as those of the most
industrious lowlander or Englishman. The humblest Highlander believed
himself a gentleman, having blood as rich and old as his chief,
and he shared in the belief, far from being obsolete even at the
present day, that for a gentleman to soil his hands with labour is
as degrading as slavery.[20] This belief was undoubtedly one of the
strongest principles of action which guided the ancient Highlanders,
and accounts, we think, to a great extent for his apparent laziness,
and for the slovenly and laggard way in which farming operations were

There were, however, no doubt other reasons for the wretched state of
agriculture in the Highlands previous to, and for long after, 1745.
The Highlanders had much to struggle against, and much calculated to
dishearten them, in the nature of the soil and climate, on which, to
a great extent, the success of agricultural operations is dependent.
In many parts of the Highlands, especially in the west, rain falls
for the greater part of the year, thus frequently preventing the
completion of the necessary processes, as well as destroying the
crops when put into the ground. As to the soil, no unprejudiced man
who is competent to judge will for one moment deny that a great
part of it is totally unsuited to agriculture, but fitted only for
the pasturage of sheep, cattle, and deer. In the Old Statistical
Account of Scotland, this assertion is being constantly repeated
by the various Highland ministers who report upon the state of
their parishes. In the case of many Highland districts, one could
conceive of nothing more hopeless and discouraging than the attempt
to force from them a crop of grain. That there are spots in the
Highlands as susceptible of high culture as some of the best in the
lowlands cannot be denied; but these bear but a small proportion
to the great quantity of ground that is fitted only to yield a
sustenance to cattle and sheep. Now all reports seem to justify the
conclusion that, previous to, and for long after 1745, the Highlands
were enormously overstocked with inhabitants, considering the utter
want of manufactures and the few other outlets there were for
labour. Thus, we think, the Highlander would be apt to feel that any
extraordinary exertion was absolutely useless, as there was not the
smallest chance of his ever being able to improve his position, or to
make himself, by means of agriculture, better than his neighbour. All
he seems to have sought for was to raise as much grain as would keep
himself and family in bread during the miserable winter months, and
meet the demands of the laird.

The small amount of arable land was no doubt also the reason of the
incessant cropping which prevails, and which ultimately left the land
in a state of complete exhaustion. “To this sort of management, bad
as it is, the inhabitants are in some degree constrained, from the
small proportion of arable land upon their farms. From necessity they
are forced to raise what little grain they can, though at a great
expense of labour, the produce being so inconsiderable. A crop of
oats on outfield ground, without manure, they find more beneficial
than the pasture. But if they must manure for a crop of oats, they
reckon the crop of natural grass rather more profitable. But the
scarcity of bread corn--or rather, indeed, the want of bread--obliges
them to pursue the less profitable practice. Oats and bear being
necessary for their subsistence, they must prefer them to every other
produce. The land at present in tillage, and fit to produce them, is
very limited, and inadequate to the consumption of the inhabitants.
They are, therefore, obliged to make it yield as much of these grains
as possible, by scourging crops.”[21]

Another great discouragement to good farming was the multitude and
grievous nature of the _services_ demanded from the tenant by the
landlord as part payment of rent. So multifarious were these, and so
much of the farmer’s time did they occupy, that frequently his own
farming affairs got little or none of his personal attention, but had
to be entrusted to his wife and family, or to the cottars whom he
housed on his farm, and who, for an acre or so of ground and liberty
to pasture an ox or two and a few sheep, performed to the farmer
services similar to those rendered by the latter to his laird. Often
a farmer had only one day in the week to himself, so undefined and
so unlimited in extent were these services. Even in some parishes,
so late as 1790, the tenant for his laird (or _master_, as he was
often called) had to plough, harrow, and manure his land in spring;
cut corn, cut, winnow, lead, and stack his hay in summer, as well as
thatch office-houses with his own (the tenant’s) turf and straw; in
harvest assist to cut down the master’s crop whenever called upon,
to the latter’s neglect of his own, and help to store it in the
cornyard; in winter frequently a tenant had to thrash his master’s
crop, winter his cattle, and find ropes for the ploughs and for
binding the cattle. Moreover, a tenant had to take his master’s grain
from him, see that it was properly put through all the processes
necessary to convert it into meal, and return it ready for use; place
his time and his horses at the laird’s disposal, to buy in fuel for
the latter, run a message whenever summoned to do so; in short, the
condition of a tenant in the Highlands during the early part of last
century, and even down to the end of it in some places, was little
better than a slave.[22]

Not that, previous to 1745, this state of matters was universally
felt to be a grievance by tenants and farmers in the Highlands,
although it had to a large extent been abolished both in England and
the lowlands of Scotland. On the contrary, the people themselves
appear to have accepted this as the natural and inevitable state of
things, the only system consistent with the spirit of clanship with
the supremacy of the chiefs. That this was not, however, universally
the case, may be seen from the fact that, so early as 1729, Brigadier
Macintosh of Borlum (famous in the affair of 1715) published a
book, or rather essay, on _Ways and Means for Enclosing, Fallowing,
Planting, &c., Scotland_, which he prefaced by a strongly-worded
exhortation to the gentlemen of Scotland to abolish this degrading
and suicidal system, which was as much against their own interests
as it was oppressive to the tenants. Still, after 1745, there seems
to be no doubt that, as a rule, the ordinary Highlander acquiesced
contentedly in the established state of things, and generally,
so far as his immediate wants were concerned, suffered little or
nothing from the system. It was only after the abolition of the
jurisdictions that the grievous oppressive hardship, injustice, and
obstructiveness of the system became evident. Previous to that,
it was, of course, the laird’s or chief’s interest to keep his
tenants attached to him and contented, and to see that they did not
want; not only so, but previous to that epoch, what was deficient
in the supply of food produced by any parish or district, was
generally amply compensated for by the levies of cattle and other
gear made by the clans upon each other when hostile, or upon their
lawful prey, the Lowlanders. But even with all this, it would seem
that, not unfrequently, the Highlanders, either universally or in
certain districts, were reduced to sore straits, and even sometimes
devastated by famine. Their crops and other supplies were so exactly
squared to their wants, that, whenever the least failure took place
in the expected quantity, scarcity or cruel famine was the result.
According to Dr Walker, the inhabitants of some of the Western
Isles look for a failure once in every four years. Maston, in his
_Description of the Western Islands_, complained that many died from
famine arising from years of scarcity, and about 1742, many over
all the Highlands appear to have shared the same fate from the same
cause.[23] So that, even under the old system, when the clansmen
were faithful and obedient, and the chief was kind and liberal, and
many cattle and other productions were imported free of all cost,
the majority of the people lived from hand to mouth, and frequently
suffered from scarcity and want. Infinitely more so was this the case
when it ceased to be the interest of the laird to keep around him
numerous tenants.

All these things being taken into consideration, it is not to be
wondered at that agriculture in the Highlands was for so long in such
a wretched condition.

They set much store, however, by their small black cattle and
diminutive sheep, and appear in many districts to have put more
dependence upon them for furnishing the means of existence, than upon
what the soil could yield.

The live-stock of a Highland farm consisted mainly of horses, sheep,
and cattle, all of them of a peculiarly small breed, and capable of
yielding but little profit. The number of horses generally kept by
a farmer was out of all proportion to the size of his farm and the
number of other cattle belonging to him. The proportion of horses to
cattle often ranged from one in eight to one in four. For example,
Dr Webster mentions a farm in Kintail, upon which there were forty
milk cows, which with the young stock made one hundred and twenty
head of cattle, about two hundred and fifty goats and ewes, young
and old, and ten horses. The reason that so great a proportion of
horses was kept, was evidently the great number that were necessary
for the operation of ploughing, and the fact that in the greater part
of the Highlands carts were unknown, and fuel, grain, manure, and
many other things generally carried in machines, had to be conveyed
on the backs of the horses, which were of a very small breed,
although of wonderful strength considering their rough treatment
and scanty fare. They were frequently plump, active, and endurable,
though they had neither size nor strength for laborious cultivation.
They were generally from nine to twelve hands high, short-necked,
chubby-headed, and thick and flat at the withers.[24] “They are so
small that a middle-sized man must keep his legs almost in lines
parallel to their sides when carried over the stony ways; and it is
almost incredible to those who have not seen it how nimbly they skip
with a heavy rider among the rocks and large moor-stones, turning
zig-zag to such places as are passable.”[25] Walker believes that
scarcely any horses could go through so much labour and fatigue upon
so little sustenance.[26] They were generally called _garrons_, and
seem in many respects to have resembled the modern Shetland pony.
These horses for the greater part of the year were allowed to run
wild among the hills, each having a mark indicating its owner; during
the severest part of winter they were sometimes brought down and fed
as well as their owners could afford. They seem frequently to have
been bred for exportation.

Sheep, latterly so intimately associated with the Highlands, bore but
a very small proportion to the number of black cattle. Indeed, before
sheep-farming began to take place upon so large a scale, and to
receive encouragement from the proprietors, the latter were generally
in the habit of restricting their tenants to a limited number of
sheep, seldom more than one sheep for one cow. This restriction
appears to have arisen from the real or supposed interest of the
landlord, who looked for the money part of his rent solely from the
produce of sale of the tenants’ cattle. Sheep were thus considered
not as an article of profit, but merely as part of the means by which
the farmer’s family was clothed and fed, and therefore the landlord
was anxious that the number should not be more than was absolutely
necessary. In a very few years after 1745, a complete revolution took
place in this respect.

The old native sheep of the Highlands, now rare, though common in
some parts of Shetland, is thus described by Dr Walker. “It is the
smallest animal of its kind. It is of a thin lank shape, and has
short straight horns. The face and legs are white, the tail extremely
short, and the wool of various colours; for, beside black and white,
it is sometimes of a bluish grey colour, at other times brown, and
sometimes of a deep russet, and frequently an individual is blotched
with two or three of these different colours. In some of the low
islands, where the pasture answers, the wool of this small sheep
is of the finest kind, and the same with that of Shetland. In the
mountainous islands, the animal is found of the smallest size, with
coarser wool, and with this very remarkable character, that it has
often four, and sometimes even six horns.

“Such is the original breed of sheep over all the Highlands and
Islands of Scotland. It varies much indeed in its properties,
according to the climate and pasture of different districts; but,
in general, it is so diminutive in size, and of so bad a form, that
it is requisite it should be given up, wherever sheep-farming is to
be followed to any considerable extent. From this there is only one
exception: in some places the wool is of such a superior quality, and
so valuable, that the breed perhaps may, on that account, be with
advantage retained.”

The small, shaggy black cattle, so well known even at the present
day in connection with the Highlands, was the principal live-stock
cultivated previous to the alterations which followed 1745. This
breed appears to have been excellent in its kind, and the best
adapted for the country, and was quite capable of being brought to
admirable perfection by proper care, feeding, and management. But
little care, however, was bestowed on the rearing of these animals,
and in general they were allowed to forage for themselves as best
they could. As we have said already, the Highland farmer of those
days regarded his cattle as the only money-producing article with
which his farm was stocked, all the other products being necessary
for the subsistence of himself and his family. It was mainly the
cattle that paid the rent. It was therefore very natural that the
farmer should endeavour to have as large a stock of this commodity
as possible, the result being that, blind to his own real interests,
he generally to a large extent overstocked his farm. According to Dr
Walker,[27] over all the farms in the north, there was kept above
one-third more of cattle than what under the then prevailing system
of management could be properly supported. The consequence of course
was, that the cattle were generally in a half-fed and lean condition,
and, during winter especially, they died in great numbers.

As a rule, the arable land in the Highlands bore, and still bears,
but a very small proportion to that devoted to pasture. The arable
land is as a rule by the sea-shore, on the side of a river or lake,
or in a valley; while the rest of the farm, devoted to pasturage,
stretches often for many miles away among the hills. The old
mode of valuing or dividing lands in Scotland was into shilling,
sixpenny, and threepenny lands of Scotch money. Latterly the English
denomination of money was used, and these divisions were termed
penny,[28] halfpenny, and farthing lands. A tacksman generally rented
a large number of these penny lands, and either farmed them himself,
or, as was very often done, sublet them to a number of tenants, none
of whom as a rule held more than a penny land, and many, having less
than a farthing land, paying from a few shillings to a few pounds of
rent. Where a number of tenants thus rented land from a tacksman or
proprietor, they generally laboured the arable land in common, and
each received a portion of the produce proportioned to his share in
the general holding. The pasturage, which formed by far the largest
part of the farm, they had in common for the use of their cattle,
each tenant being allowed to pasture a certain number of cattle and
sheep, _soumed_ or proportioned[29] to the quantity of land he held.
“The tenant of a penny land often keeps four or five cows, with what
are called their followers, six or eight horses, and some sheep.
The followers are the calf, a one-year-old, a two-year-old, and a
three-year-old, making in all with the cow five head of black cattle.
By frequent deaths among them, the number is seldom complete, yet
this penny land has or may have upon it about twenty or twenty-five
head of black cattle, besides horses and sheep.” The halfpenny and
farthing lands seem to have been allowed a larger proportion of
live stock than the penny lands, considering their size.[30] It
was seldom, however, that a tenant confined himself strictly to
the number for which he was soumed, the desire to have as much as
possible of the most profitable commodity frequently inducing to
overstock, and thus defeat his main purpose.

During summer and autumn, the cattle and other live stock were
confined to the hills to prevent them doing injury to the crops,
for the lands were totally unprotected by enclosures. After the
ground was cleared of the crops, the animals were allowed to roam
promiscuously over the whole farm, if not over the farms of a whole
district, having little or nothing to eat in the winter and spring
but what they could pick up in the fields. It seems to have been a
common but very absurd notion in the Highlands that the housing of
cattle tended to enfeeble them; thus many cattle died of cold and
starvation every winter, those who survived were mere skeletons, and,
moreover, the farmer lost all their dung which could have been turned
to good use as manure. Many of the cows, from poverty and disease,
brought a calf only once in two years, and it was often a month or
six weeks before the cow could give sufficient milk to nourish her
offspring. Thus many of the Highland cattle were starved to death in
their calf’s skin.

A custom prevailed among the Highlanders of old, common to them with
other mountainous pastoral countries, _e.g._, Switzerland. During
winter the tenants of a farm with their families, cottars, and
servants, lived in the _Bailte Geamhre_, or winter town, in the midst
of the arable land; but in summer, after all the sowing was done,
about the middle of June, a general migration was made to the hills
along with the cattle, the arable ground with all its appurtenances
being allowed to take care of itself. The following passage, quoted
from the old Statistical Account of Boleskine and Abertarff,
Inverness-shire, will give a notion of the working of this practice:--

“The whole country, with two exceptions, consists of a variety of
half davoch-lands, each of which was let or disponed by the Lovat
family or their chamberlain to a wadsetter or principal tacksman, and
had no concern with the sub-tenantry; each sub-tenant had again a
variety of cottars, equally unconnected with the principal tacksman;
and each of these had a number of cattle of all denominations,
proportional to their respective holdings, with the produce whereof
he fed and clad himself and whole family. As there were extensive
sheallings or grasings attached to this country, in the neighbourhood
of the lordship of Badenoch, the inhabitants in the beginning of
summer removed to these sheallings with their whole cattle, man,
woman, and child; and it was no uncommon thing to observe an infant
in one creel, and a stone on the other side of the horse, to keep up
an equilibrium; and when the grass became scarce in the sheallings,
they returned again to their principal farms, where they remained
while they had sufficiency of pasture, and then, in the same manner,
went back to their sheallings, and observed this ambulatory course
during the seasons of vegetation; and the only operations attended
to during the summer season was their peats or fuel, and repairing
their rustic habitations. When their small crops were fit for it, all
hands descended from the hills, and continued on the farms till the
same was cut and secured in barns, the walls of which were generally
made of dry stone, or wreathed with branches or boughs of trees; and
it was no singular custom, after harvest, for the whole inhabitants
to return to their sheallings, and to abide there till driven from
thence by the snow. During the winter and spring, the whole pasturage
of the country was a common, and a poind-fold was a thing totally
unknown. The cultivation of the country was all performed in spring,
the inhabitants having no taste for following green crops or other
modern improvements.”

The milk produced by the small Highland cows was, and indeed is,
small in quantity, but in quality it resembles what in the Lowlands
is known as cream. Of course, the butter and cheese made from such
milk is unusually rich.

About the end of August or beginning of September, the cattle had
generally been got into good condition by their summer feeding, the
beef then, according to Captain Burt, being “extremely sweet and
succulent.” It was at this time that the drovers collected their
herds, and drove them to the fairs and markets on the borders of the
lowlands, and sometimes so far south as the north of England. As from
the want of good roads and any means of rapid conveyance, the drovers
took a considerable time to reach their destination, and had in the
meantime to be fed, a certain sum per head had to be paid to the
owners of the territories through which they passed, for the liberty
of being allowed grazing for the cattle. Burt gives the following
graphic account of a scene he himself witnessed on the march south
of one of these herds of cattle. “I have several times seen them
driving great numbers of cattle along the sides of the mountains at
a great distance, but never, except once, was near them. This was
in a time of rain, by a wide river, where there was a boat to ferry
over the drovers. The cows were about fifty in number, and took the
water like spaniels; and when they were in, their drivers made a
hideous cry to urge them forwards: this, they told me, they did to
keep the foremost of them from turning about; for, in that case, the
rest would do the like, and then they would be in danger, especially
the weakest of them, to be driven away and drowned by the torrent. I
thought it a very odd sight to see so many noses and eyes just above
water, and nothing of them more to be seen, for they had no horns,
and upon the land they appeared like so many large Lincolnshire
calves.” These drovers do not seem as a rule to have been the owners
of cattle, but a class of men whose business it was to collect
into one herd or drove the saleable cattle of a number of farmers,
take them south to the markets and bring back the money, receiving
a small commission for their trouble. As a rule they seem to have
been men who, when their integrity was relied on, made it a point of
honour to be able to render a satisfactory account of every animal
and every farthing; although probably no one would be more ready to
join in a _creach_ or cattle-lifting expedition, which in those days
was considered as honourable as warfare. The drovers “conducted the
cattle by easy stages across the country in trackways, which, whilst
they were less circuitous than public roads, were softer for the
feet of the animals, and he often rested at night in the open fields
with his herds.”[31] A good idea of the character of this class of
Highlanders may be obtained from Sir Walter Scott’s _Chronicles of
the Canongate_.[32]

All the other operations connected with or arising out of agriculture
were conducted in as rude and ineffective a manner as those
above mentioned. The harvest was always an anxious season with
the Highlander, as from the wetness of the climate and the early
period at which rain set in, their crops might never come to useful
perfection, or might be swept away by floods or heavy rains before
they could be gathered in.[33] Dr Walker declares that in the
Hebrides and Western Highlands the people made up their minds to lose
one harvest in four on account of the wetness of the climate. If the
crops, however, escaped destruction from the elements, the farmers
were glad to get them reaped as quickly as possible. As a rule, the
common sickle seems to have been used for cutting down the grain,
although it appears to have been not uncommon to tear it from the
earth by the roots.[34] The harvest work seems to have been generally
performed by women, as is indeed the case still in some parts of
Scotland. This, Burt thinks, tended much to retard the harvest, as it
sometimes took a woman and a girl a fortnight to do what with the aid
of a man might have been done in a couple of days.[35] So short-lived
was the supply of grain, and so ill-off were the people sometimes,
that it was not uncommon for them to pluck the ears as they ripened,
like fruit, and even scorch the grain when green and squeeze it into
an unwholesome pulp.[36]

The flail appears to have been the only article used to separate
the grain from its husk, and the only winnowing it got was from
the draught that passed through the rude barn, which had two doors
opposite each other for the purpose.

The quern or hand-mill is the oldest machine used for grinding grain.
It consisted of two stones, one above the other, the former turned
round by a handle and having an opening in the top to admit the
grain. This primitive kind of mill, even for long after 1745, was
used all over the Highlands to convert the scanty supply of grain
into meal. The quern was generally driven by two women sitting
opposite each other, but it was also adapted to a rude water-wheel,
the axle of which was fixed in the upper stone. This rude water-mill
is still used in Shetland, and is of the very simplest construction.

[Illustration: Quern, from the collection of the late Sir James Y.
Simpson, Bart.]

A common method of preparing the grain for the quern was called
_graddaning_, which consisted in taking a handful of corn in the
stalk, setting fire to it, and when it had burnt long enough,
knocking the grain from the head by means of a stick; thus both
thrashing and drying it at the same time. This of course was a
wretched and most extravagant mode of procedure, blackening and
otherwise spoiling the grain, and wasting the straw. This process
was common in the Western Islands, where also there was a kind of
very rude kiln, on the bare ribs of which were put the heads of
the grain, which, when dried, were pulled down on the floor and
immediately thrashed and winnowed, and stored up hot in plates, ready
for the quern. Thus could a man have cut the sheaves, dry and thrash
the barley, clean it for the quern, and make his breakfast thereof
after it was ground.[37] Another method common in Badenoch and the
central Highlands was to switch the corn out of the ear with a stick,
separate it from the chaff, and put it in a pot on the fire, while a
person kept stirring it with a wooden spatula. “I have seen,” says a
gentleman from Laggan, “the corn cut, dried, ground, baked, and eaten
in less than two hours.”[38]

There must, however, have been a mill on a somewhat larger scale
than either the hand or water-quern, situated in a great many of the
Highland districts, as it is well known that in the Highlands as well
as the Lowlands, multure and thirlage were common exactions by which
the tenants were oppressed. The tenants would be no doubt glad in
many cases to escape the heavy mill-dues by grinding their grain for
themselves, as well as their rude contrivances would allow them. But
the convenience of a well-constructed mill in a district is evident,
and of course it is but fair that those who take advantage of the
mill should pay for it. Moreover, in early times, when large mills
were first introduced into a district by the laird or proprietor, it
was natural enough that he should endeavour, either by bargain or
force, to get his tenants to take their grain to the district-mill
to be ground, as only by this means could the expense of building
and keeping up of the mill be defrayed and a miller induced to rent
it. As money was scarce in those days, and as rent and other dues
were paid in kind, it was natural and fair enough that the landlord
should exact a small portion of the grain taken to his mill as due to
him for keeping the mill up, and also for the miller to take payment
for his trouble and time by keeping to himself a certain proportion
of the meal into which he had converted the grain. But like every
other custom, this was liable to abuse, and did in the end turn out
to be a most grievous exaction and a great hindrance to agricultural
improvement. Every farmer was thirled to a particular mill, thirlage
being a due payable to the landlord; and the miller, besides having
a croft or small farm attached to the mill, was allowed to exact
multure, or a proportion of meal, to pay himself for his trouble.
Besides these there appears to have been other exactions which could
be made by the miller on various pretexts, and the amount of which
depended pretty much upon his own caprice. Altogether they not
unfrequently amounted to an eighth or a tenth of the meal produced by
the grain. Yet for long after 1745, even into the present century,
did these exactions continue to be in force in many parts of the
country; and an almost universal complaint by the writers of the
articles on the Highland parishes in the Old Statistical Account, is
the grievous nature of these and other exactions.

Almost the only fuel used by the Highlanders, not only in the early
part but during the whole of last century, was peat, still used in
many Highland districts, and the only fuel used in a great part of
Orkney and Shetland. The cutting and preparing of the fuel, composed
mainly of decayed roots of various plants, consumed a serious part of
the Highlander’s time, as it was often to be found only at a great
distance from his habitation; and he had to cut not only for himself
but for his laird, the process itself being long and troublesome,
extending from the time the sods were first cut till they were formed
in a stack at the side of the farmer’s or cottar’s door, over five or
six months; and after all, they frequently turned out but a wretched
substitute for either wood or coal; often they were little else than
a mass of red earth. It generally took five people to cut peats out
of one spot. One cut the peats, which were placed by another on the
edge of the trench from which they were cut; a third spread them
on the field, while a fourth trimmed them, a fifth resting in the
meantime ready to relieve the man that was cutting.

As would naturally be expected, the houses and other buildings of the
Highlanders were quite in keeping with their agricultural implements
and general mode of life. Even the tacksmen or gentlemen of the clan,
the relations of the chief, lived in huts or hovels, that the poorest
farmer in most parts of Scotland at the present day, would shudder to
house his cattle in. In most cases they appear to have been pretty
much the same as those of the small farmers or cottars, only perhaps
a little larger. Burt mentions such a house belonging to a gentleman
of the clan, which he visited in one of his peregrinations round
Inverness. He says[39] it consisted of one long apartment without
any partition, “where the family was at one end, and some cattle
at the other.” The owner of this rude habitation must have been
somewhat shrewd and sensible, as he could not only perceive the
disadvantages of this mode of life to which he was doomed, but had
insight and candour enough to be able to account for his submission
to them. “The truth is,” Captain Burt reports him to have said, “we
are insensibly inured to it by degrees; for, when very young, we
know no better; being grown up, we are inclined, or persuaded by
our near relations, to marry--thence come children, and fondness
for them: but above all,” says he, “is the _love of our chief_, so
strongly is it inculcated to us in our infancy; and if it were not
for that, I think the Highlands would be much thinner of people than
they now are.” How much truth there is in that last statement is
clearly evidenced by the history of the country after the abolition
of the hereditary jurisdictions, which was the means of breaking up
the old intimate relation between, and mutual dependence of, chief
and people. Burt says elsewhere, that near to Inverness, there were
a few gentlemen’s houses built of stone and lime, but that in the
inner part of the mountains there were no stone-buildings except
the barracks, and that one might have gone a hundred miles without
seeing any other dwellings but huts of turf. By the beginning of
last century the houses of most of the chiefs, though comparatively
small, seem to have been substantially built of stone and lime,
although their food and manner of life would seem to have been pretty
much the same as those of the tacksmen. The children of chiefs and
gentlemen seem to have been allowed to run about in much the same
apparently uncared for condition as those of the tenants, it having
been a common saying, according to Burt, “that a gentleman’s bairns
are to be distinguished by their speaking English.” To illustrate
this he tells us that once when dining with a laird not very far
from Inverness--possibly Lord Lovat--he met an English soldier at
the house who was catching birds for the laird to exercise his hawks
on. This soldier told Burt that for three or four days after his
first coming, he had observed in the kitchen (“an out-house hovel”) a
parcel of dirty children half naked, whom he took to belong to some
poor tenant, but at last discovered they were part of the family.
“But,” says the fastidious English Captain, “although these were so
little regarded, the young laird, about the age of fourteen, was
going to the university; and the eldest daughter, about sixteen, sat
with us at table, clean and genteelly dressed.”[40]

There is no reason to doubt Burt’s statement when he speaks of what
he saw or heard, but it must be remembered he was an Englishman, with
all an Englishman’s prejudices in favour of the manners and customs,
the good living, and general fastidiousness which characterise his
own half of the kingdom, and many of an Englishman’s prejudices
against the Scotch generally and the turbulent Highlanders in
particular. His letters are, however, of the utmost value in giving
us a clear and interesting glimpse into the mode of life of the
Highlanders shortly before 1745, and most Scotchmen at least will
be able to sift what is fact from what is exaggeration and English
colouring. Much, no doubt, of what Burt tells of the Highlanders
when he was there is true, but it is true also of people then living
in the same station in other parts of Scotland, where however among
the better classes, and even among the farmers, even then, there was
generally a rough abundance combined with a sort of affectation of
rudeness of manner. It is not so very long ago since the son of the
laird, and he might have been a duke, and the son of the hind were
educated at the same parish school; and even at the present day it is
no uncommon sight to see the sons of the highest Scottish nobility
sitting side by side on the same college-benches with the sons of
day-labourers, ploughmen, mechanics, farmers, and small shop-keepers.
Such a sight is rare in the English universities; where there are
low-born intruders, it will in most cases be found that they belong
to Scotland. We do not make these remarks to prejudice the reader in
any way against the statements of Burt or to depreciate the value of
his letters; all we wish the reader to understand is that he was an
Englishman, rather fond of gossip, and perhaps of adding point to
a story at the expense of truth, with all the prejudices and want
of enlightenment and cosmopolitanism of even educated Englishmen of
150 years ago. He states facts correctly, but from a peculiar and
very un-Scottish point of view. His evidence, even when stripped
of its slight colouring, is invaluable, and, even to the modern
Highlander, must prove that his ancestors lived in a very miserable
way, although they themselves might not have realised its discomfort
and wretchedness, but on the contrary, may have been as contented as
the most well-to-do English squire or prosperous English farmer.

Even among the higher members of the clans, the tacksmen and most
extensive farmers, the fare does not seem to have been by any means
abundant, and generally was of the commonest kind. For a few months
in the end of the year, when the cattle and sheep were in condition
to be killed, animal food appears to have been plentiful enough, as
it must also have been after any successful cattle-foray. But for
the rest of the year, the food of even the gentlemen in many places
must have been such as any modern farmer would have turned up his
nose at. In other districts again, where the chief was well-off and
liberal, he appears to have been willing enough to share what he had
with his relations the higher tenants, who again would do their best
to keep from want the under tenants and cottars. Still it will be
seen, the living of all was very precarious. “It is impossible for
me,” says Burt,[41] “from my own knowledge, to give you an account
of the ordinary way of living of these gentlemen; because, when any
of us (the English) are invited to their houses there is always an
appearance of plenty to excess; and it has been often said they
will ransack all their tenants rather than we should think meanly
of their housekeeping: but I have heard it from many whom they have
employed, and perhaps had little regard to their observations as
inferior people, that, although they have been attended at dinner
by five or six servants, yet, with all that state, they have often
dined upon oat meal varied several ways, pickled herrings, or other
such cheap and indifferent diet.” Burt complains much of their want
of hospitality; but at this he need not have been surprised. He and
every other soldier stationed in the Highlands would be regarded
with suspicion and even dislike by the natives, who were by no means
likely to give them any encouragement to frequent their houses,
and pry into their secrets and mode of life. The Highlanders were
well-known for their hospitality, and are so in many places even
at the present day, resembling in this respect most people living
in a wild and not much frequented country. As to the everyday fare
above mentioned, those who partook of it would consider it no
hardship, if indeed Burt had not been mistaken or been deceived as
to details. Oatmeal, in the form of porridge and brose, is common
even at the present day among the lower classes in the country, and
even among substantial farmers. As for the other part of it, there
must have been plenty of salmon and trout about the rivers and lochs
of Inverness-shire, and abundance of grain of various kinds on the
hills, so that the gentlemen to whom the inquisitive Captain refers,
must have taken to porridge and pickled herring from choice: and it
is well known, that in Scotland at least, when a guest is expected,
the host endeavours to provide something better than common for his
entertainment. Burt also declares that he has often seen a laird’s
lady coming to church with a maid behind her carrying her shoes and
stockings, which she put on at a little distance from the church.
Indeed, from what he says, it would seem to have been quite common
for those in the position of ladies and gentlemen to go about in
this free and easy fashion. Their motives for doing so were no doubt
those of economy and comfort--not because they had neither shoes nor
stockings to put on. The practice is quite common at the present day
in Scotland, for both respectable men and women when travelling on
a dusty road on a broiling summer-day, to do so on their bare feet,
as being so much more comfortable and less tiresome than travelling
in heavy boots and thick worsted stockings. No one thinks the worse
of them for it, nor infers that they must be wretchedly ill off. The
practice has evidently at one time been much more common even among
the higher classes, but, like many other customs, lingers now only
among the common people.

From all we can learn, however, the chiefs and their more immediate
dependants and relations appear by no means to have been ill-off, so
far as the necessaries of life went, previous to the rebellion of
1745. They certainly had not a superfluity of money, but many of the
chiefs were profuse in their hospitality, and had always abundance
if not variety to eat and drink. Indeed it is well known, that
about 200 years before the rebellion, an enactment had to be made
by parliament limiting the amount of wine and brandy to be used by
the various chiefs. Claret, in Captain Burt’s time, was as common in
and around Inverness as it was in Edinburgh; the English soldiers
are said to have found it selling at sixpence a quart, and left it
at three or four times that price. In their habits and mode of life,
their houses and other surroundings, these Highland gentlemen were no
doubt rough and rude and devoid of luxuries, and not over particular
as to cleanliness either of body or utensils, but still always
dignified and courteous, respectful to their superiors and affable
to their inferiors. Highland pride is still proverbial, and while
often very amusing and even pitiable, has often been of considerable
service to those who possess it, stimulating them to keep up their
self-respect and to do their best in whatever situation they may be
placed. It was this pride that made the poorest and most tattered of
the tacksmen tenants with whom Burt came in contact, conduct himself
as if he had been lord of all he surveyed, and look with suspicion
and perhaps with contempt upon the unknown English red-coat.

As a kind of set-off to Burt’s disparaging account of the condition
of Highland gentlemen, and yet to some extent corroborating it, we
quote the following from the Old Statistical Account of the parish
of Boleskine and Abertarf in Inverness-shire. The district to which
this account refers was at least no worse than most other Highland
parishes, and in some respects must have been better than those
that were further out of the reach of civilisation.[42] “Till the
beginning of this century, the whole heritors and wadsetters in this
parish lived in houses composed of cupple trees, and the walls and
thatch made up of sod and divot; but in every wadsetter’s house there
was a spacious hall, containing a large table, where he and his
family and dependants eat their two meals a-day with this single
distinction, that he and his family sat at the one end of the table,
and his dependants at the other; and it was reckoned no disparagement
for the gentlemen to sit with commoners in the inns, such as the
country then afforded, where one _cap_, and afterwards a single
glass, went round the whole company. As the inhabitants experienced
no want, and generally lived on the produce of their farms, they were
hospitable to strangers, providing they did not attempt a settlement
among them. But it was thought then disgraceful for any of the
younger sons of these wadsetters to follow any other profession than
that of arms and agriculture; and it is in the remembrance of many
now living, when the meanest tenant would think it disparaging to sit
at the same table with a manufacturer.”

The following quotation from the Statistical Account of Rannoch,
in Perthshire, will give an idea of another phase of the life of
Highland gentlemen in those days, as well as enable the reader to see
how it was, considering the general poverty of the country, the low
rent, the unproductiveness of the soil, and the low price of cattle,
they were still able to keep open table and maintain more retainers
than the land could support. “Before the year 1745 Rannoch was in an
uncivilized barbarous state, under no check, or restraint of laws.
As an evidence of this, one of the principal proprietors never could
be compelled to pay his debts. Two messengers were sent from Perth,
to give him a charge of horning. He ordered a dozen of his retainers
to bind them across two hand-barrows, and carry them, in this state,
to the bridge of Cainachan, at nine miles distance. His property
in particular was a nest of thieves. They laid the whole country,
from Stirling to Coupar of Angus, under contribution, obliging the
inhabitants to pay them Black Meal, as it is called, to save their
property from being plundered. This was the centre of this kind of
traffic. In the months of September and October they gathered to the
number of about 300, built temporary huts, drank whisky all the time,
settled accounts for stolen cattle, and received balances. Every man
then bore arms. It would have required a regiment to have brought a
thief from that country.”

As to the education of the Highland gentry, in this respect they seem
not to have been so far behind the rest of the country, although
latterly they appear to have degenerated in this as in other
respects; for, as will be seen in the Chapter on Gaelic Literature,
there must have been at one time many learned men in the Highlands,
and a taste for literature seems not to have been uncommon. Indeed,
from various authorities quoted in the Introduction to Stuart’s
_Costume of the Clans_, it was no uncommon accomplishment in the
16th and 17th centuries for a Highland gentleman to be able to use
both Gaelic and Latin, even when he could scarcely manage English.
“If, in some instances,” says Mrs Grant,[43] “a chief had some taste
for literature, the Latin poets engaged his attention more forcibly
than the English, which he possibly spoke and wrote, but inwardly
despised, and in fact did not understand well enough to relish its
delicacies, or taste its poetry.” “Till of late years,” says the same
writer on the same page, “letters were unknown in the Highlands
except among the highest rank of gentry and the clergy. The first
were but partially enlightened at best. Their minds had been early
imbued with the stores of knowledge peculiar to their country, and
having no view beyond that of passing their lives among their tenants
and dependants, they were not much anxious for any other.... In some
instances, the younger brothers of patrician families were sent early
out to lowland seminaries, and immediately engaged in some active
pursuit for the advancement of their fortune.” In short, so far as
education went, the majority of the Highland lairds and tacksmen
appear to have been pretty much on the same footing with those in a
similar station in other parts of the kingdom.

From what has been said then as to the condition of the chiefs or
lairds and their more immediate dependants the tacksmen, previous to
1745, it may be inferred that they were by no means ill-off so far as
the necessaries and even a few of the luxuries of life went. Their
houses were certainly not such as a gentleman or even a well-to-do
farmer would care to inhabit now-a-days, neither in build nor in
furnishing; but the chief and principal tenants as a rule had always
plenty to eat and drink, lived in a rough way, were hospitable to
their friends, and, as far as they were able, kind and lenient to
their tenants.

It was the sub-tenants and cottars, the common people or peasantry of
the Highlands, whose condition called for the utmost commiseration.
It was they who suffered most from the poverty of the land, the
leanness of the cattle, the want of trades and manufactures, the
want, in short, of any reliable and systematic means of subsistence.
If the crops failed, or disease or a severe winter killed the
half of the cattle, it was they who suffered, it was they who
were the victims of famine, a thing of not rare occurrence in the
Highlands.[44] It seems indeed impossible that any one now living
could imagine anything more seemingly wretched and miserable than
the state of the Highland subtenants and cottars as described in
various contemporary accounts. The dingiest hovel in the dirtiest
narrowest “close” of Edinburgh may be taken as a fair representative
of the house inhabited formerly in the Highlands by the great mass of
the farmers and cottars. And yet they do not by any means appear to
have regarded themselves as the most miserable of beings, but on the
contrary to have been light-hearted and well content if they could
manage to get the year over without absolute starvation. No doubt
this was because they knew no better state of things, and because
love for the chief would make them endure any thing with patience.
Generally the houses of the subtenants and cottars who occupied
a farm were built in one spot, “all irregularly placed, some one
way, some another, and at any distance, look like so many heaps of
dirt.” They were generally built in some small valley or strath by
the side of a stream or loch, and the collection of houses on one
farm was known as the “toon” or town, a term still used in Shetland
in the very same sense, and in many parts of Scotland applied to
the building occupied by even a single farmer. The cottages were
generally built of round stones without any cement, thatched with
sods, and sometimes heath; sometimes they were divided into two
apartments by a slender partition, but frequently no such division
was made. In the larger half resided the family, this serving for
kitchen, eating, and sleeping-room to all. In the middle of this
room, on the floor, was the peat fire, above which was a gaping hole
to allow the escape of the smoke, very little however of this finding
its way out, the surplus, after every corner of the room was filled,
escaping by the door. The other half of the cottage was devoted to
the use of the live-stock when “they did not choose to mess and lodge
with the family.”[45] Sometimes these cottages were built of turf
or mud, and sometimes of wattle-work like baskets, a common system
of fencing even yet in many parts of the Highlands where young wood
is abundant. As a rule these huts had to be thatched and otherwise
repaired every year to keep them habitable; indeed, in many places it
was quite customary every spring to remove the thatch and use it as

[Illustration: A Cottage in Islay. From Pennant’s _Voyage to the
Hebrides_, 1774.]

Buchanan, even in the latter half of the 18th century, thus speaks of
the dwellings of tenants in the Western Isles; and, in this respect
at least, it is not likely they were in worse plight than those who
lived in the early part of the century. “The huts of the oppressed
tenants are remarkably naked and open; quite destitute of furniture,
except logs of timbers collected from the wrecks of the sea, to sit
on about the fire, which is placed in the middle of the house, or
upon seats made of straw, like foot hassacks, stuffed with straw or
stubble. Many of them must rest satisfied with large stones placed
around the fire in order. As all persons must have their own blankets
to sleep in, they make their beds in whatever corner suits their
fancy, and in the mornings they fold them up into a small compass,
with all their gowns, cloaks, coats, and petticoats, that are not in
use. The cows, goats, and sheep, with the ducks, hens, and dogs, must
have the common benefit of the fire, and particularly the young and
tenderest are admitted next to it. This filthy sty is never cleaned
but once a-year, when they place the dung on the fields as manure
for barley crops. Thus, from the necessity of laying litter below
these cattle to keep them dry, the dung naturally increases in height
almost mid-wall high, so that the men sit low about the fire, while
the cattle look down from above upon the company.” We learn from the
same authority that in the Hebrides every tenant must have had his
own beams and side timbers, the walls generally belonging to the
tacksman or laird, and these were six feet thick with a hollow wall
of rough stones, packed with moss or earth in the centre. A tenant
in removing carried his timbers with him to his new location, and
speedily mounted them on the top of four rude walls. But indeed the
condition of many of the Western Isles both before and after 1745
and even at the present day, was frequently much more wretched than
the Highlands in the mainland generally. Especially was this the
case after 1745, although even before that their condition can by no
means be taken as typical of the Highlands generally. The following,
however, from the Statistical Account of the island of Tiree, might
have applied at the time (about 1745), to almost any part of the
Highlands. “About 40 years ago, a great part of the lands in this
parish lay in their natural uncultivated state, and such of them
as were in culture produced poor starved crops. The tenants were in
poor circumstances, the rents low, the farm houses contemptible.
The communication from place to place was along paths which were to
be known by the footsteps of beasts that passed through them. No
turnips, potatoes, or cabbages, unless a few of the latter in some
gardens; and a great degree of poverty, indolence, and meanness
of spirit, among the great body of the people. The appearance of
the people, and their mode of thinking and acting, were but mean
and indelicate; their peats were brought home in creels; the few
things the farmer had to sell were carried to market upon the backs
of horses; and their dunghills were hard by their doors.” We have
reliable testimony, however, to prove, that even the common Highland
tenants on the mainland were but little better off than those in the
islands; their houses were almost equally rude and dirty, and their
furniture nearly as scanty. The Statistical Account of the parish of
Fortingal, in Perthshire, already quoted, gives a miserable account
of the country and inhabitants previous to 1745, as does also the
letters of Captain Burt in reference to the district which came under
his observation; and neither of these districts was likely to be in
worse condition than other parts of the Highlands, further removed
from intercourse with the Lowlands. “At the above period (1745), the
bulk of the tenants in Rannoch had no such thing as beds. They lay on
the ground, with a little heather, or fern, under them. One single
blanket was all their bed-cloaths, excepting their body-cloaths.
Now they have standing-up beds, and abundance of blankets. At that
time the houses in Rannoch were huts of, what they called, ‘Stake
and Rife.’ One could not enter but on all fours; and after entering,
it was impossible to stand upright. Now there are comfortable
houses built of stone. Then the people were miserably dirty, and
foul-skinned. Now they are as cleanly, and are clothed as well as
their circumstances will admit of. The rents of the parish, at that
period, were not much above £1500, and the people were starving.
Now they pay £4660 _per annum_, and upwards, and the people have
fulness of bread. It is hardly possible to believe, on how little
the Highlanders formerly lived. They bled their cows several times
in the year, boiled the blood, eat a little of it like bread, and a
most lasting meal it was. The present incumbent has known a poor man,
who had a small farm hard by him, by this means, with a boll of meal
for every mouth in his family, pass the whole year.” This bleeding
of the cattle to eke out the small supply of oatmeal is testified to
by many other witnesses. Captain Burt refers to it;[46] and Knox,
in his _View of the British Empire_,[47] thus speaks of it:--“In
winter, when the grounds are covered with snow, and when the naked
wilds afford them neither shelter nor subsistence, the few cows,
small, lean, and ready to drop down through want of pasture, are
brought into the hut where the family resides, and frequently share
with them their little stock of meal, which had been purchased or
raised for the family only, while the cattle thus sustained are bled
occasionally to afford nourishment for the children, after it has
been boiled or made into cakes.”

It must be borne in mind that at that time potatoes were all but
unknown in the Highlands, and even in the Lowlands had scarcely got
beyond the stage of a garden root. The staple food of the common
Highlander was the various preparations of oats and barley; even fish
seems to have been a rarity, but why it is difficult to say, as there
were plenty both in the sea and in freshwater rivers and lochs. For
a month or two after Michaelmas, the luxury of fresh meat seems to
have been not uncommon, as at that time the cattle were in condition
for being slaughtered; and the more provident or less needy might
even go the length of salting a quantity for winter, but even this
practice does not seem to have been common except among the tacksmen.
“Nothing is more deplorable than the state of this people in time of
winter.” Then they were completely confined to their narrow glens,
and very frequently night and day to their houses, on account of
the severe snow and rain storms. “They have no diversions to amuse
them, but sit brooding in the smoke over the fire till their legs
and thighs are scorched to an extraordinary degree, and many have
sore eyes and some are quite blind. This long continuance in the
smoke makes them almost as black as chimney-sweepers; and when the
huts are not water-tight, which is often the case, the rain that
comes through the roof and mixes with the sootiness of the inside,
where all the sticks look like charcoal, falls in drops like ink.
But, in this circumstance, the Highlanders are not very solicitous
about their outward appearance.”[48] We need not wonder under these
circumstances at the prevalence of a loathsome distemper, almost
peculiar to the Highlands, and the universality of various kinds of
vermin; and indeed, had it not been that the people spent so much of
their time in the open air, and that the pure air of the mountains,
and been on the whole temperate in drinking and correct in morals,
their condition must have been much more miserable than it really
was. The misery seems to have been apparent only to onlookers, not
to those whose lot it was to endure it. No doubt they were most
mercilessly oppressed sometimes, but even this oppression they do not
seem to have regarded as any hardship, as calling for complaint on
their part:--they were willing to endure anything at the hands of the
chief, who, they believed, could do no wrong.

As a rule the chiefs and gentlemen of the clan appear to have
treated their inferiors with kindness and consideration, although,
at the same time, it was their interest and the practice of most of
them to encourage the notions the people entertained of their duty
to their chiefs, and to keep them in ignorance of everything that
would tend to diminish this profitable belief. No doubt many of the
chiefs themselves believed as firmly in the doctrine of clanship as
their people; but there is good reason to believe, that many of them
encouraged the old system from purely interested and selfish motives.
Burt tells us that when a chief wanted to get rid of any troublesome
fellow, he compelled him, under threat of perpetual imprisonment
or the gallows, to sign a contract for his own banishment, when he
was shipped off from the nearest port by the first vessel bound
for the West Indies. Referring no doubt to Lord Lovat,[49] he
informs us that this versatile and long-headed chief acted on the
maxim that to render his clan poor would double the tie of their
obedience; and accordingly he made use of all oppressive means to
that end. “To prevent any diminution of the number of those who do
not offend him, he dissuades from their purpose all such as show an
inclination to traffic, or to put their children out to trades, as
knowing they would, by such an alienation shake off at least good
part of their slavish attachment to him and his family. This he does,
when downright authority fails, by telling them how their ancestors
chose to live sparingly, and be accounted a martial people, rather
than submit themselves to low and mercenary employments like the
Lowlanders, whom their forefathers always despised for the want of
that warlike temper which they (his vassals) still retained, &c.”
This cunning chief was in the habit, according to Dr Chambers’s
_Domestic Annals_, of sending from Inverness and paying for the
insertion in the Edinburgh _Courant_ and _Mercury_ of glaring
accounts of feasts and rejoicings given by himself or held in his
honour.[50] And it is well known that this same lord during his
lifetime erected a handsome tombstone for himself inscribed with a
glowing account of his heroic exploits, intended solely for the use
of his clansmen. By these and similar means would crafty selfish
lairds keep their tenants and cottars in ignorance of their rights,
and make them resigned to all the oppressive impositions laid upon
them. No doubt Lovat’s was an extreme case, and there must have been
many gradations of oppressions, and many chiefs who really cared for
their people, and did their best to make them happy and comfortable,
although, considering their circumstances and general surroundings,
it is difficult to see how they could succeed. Yet notwithstanding
their miserable and filthy huts, their scanty and poor food, their
tattered and insufficient clothes, their lean cattle and meagre
crops, their country wet above and below, their apparent want of all
amusements and of anything to lighten their cheerless condition,
and the oppressive exactions of their chiefs, the Highlanders as a
body certainly do not seem to have been an unhappy or discontented
people, or to have had any feeling of the discomfort attending their
lot.[51] There seems to have been little or no grumbling, and it is a
most remarkable fact that suicide was and probably is all but unknown
among the Highlanders. Your genuine Highlander was never what could
strictly be called a merry man; he never had any of the effervescence
of the French Celt, nor of the inimitable never failing light-hearted
humour of his Irish brother; but, on the other hand, under the old
system, at heart he showed little or no discontent, but on the
contrary seems to have been possessed of a self-satisfied, contented
cheerfulness, a quiet resignation to fate, and a belief in the power
and goodness of his chief, together with an ignorance and contempt
for all outside his own narrow sphere, that made him feel as happy
and contented as the most comfortable peasant farmer in France. They
only became discontented and sorely cut up when their chiefs,--it
being no longer the interest of the latter to multiply and support
their retainers,--began to look after their own interests solely,
and show little or no consideration for those who regarded them with
reverence alone, and who thought their chief as much bound to support
and care for them and share his land and his bread with them, as a
father is to maintain his children. After the heritable jurisdictions
were abolished, of course everything was changed; but before that
there is every reason to believe that the Highland tenants and
cottars were as contented and happy, though by no means so well
off, as the majority of those in the same condition throughout the
United Kingdom. Indeed the evils which prevailed formerly in the
Highlands, like all other evils, look far worse in prospect (in
this case retrospect) than they do in reality. Misery in general is
least perceived by those who are in its midst, and no doubt many poor
and apparently miserable people wonder what charitable associations
for their relief make so much fuss about, for they themselves see
nothing to relieve. Not that this misery is any the less real and
fruitful of evil consequences, and demanding relief; it is simply
that those who are in the midst of it can’t, very naturally, see it
in its true light. As to the Highlands, the tradition remained for
a long time, and we believe does so still in many parts, that under
the old regime, chiefs were always kind as fathers, and the people
faithful and loving as children; the men were tall and brave, and
the women fair and pure; the cattle were fat and plentiful, and the
land produced abundance for man and beast; the summers were always
warm, and the winters mild; the sun was brighter than ever it has
been since, and rain came only when wanted. In short everybody had
plenty with a minimum of work and abundance of time for dancing and
singing and other amusements; every one was as happy as the day was
long. It was almost literally “a land flowing with milk and honey,”
as will be seen from the following tradition:[52]--“It is now indeed
idle, and appears fabulous, to relate the crops raised here 30 or 40
years ago. The seasons were formerly so warm, that the people behoved
to unyoke their ploughs as soon as the sun rose, when sowing barley;
and persons yet living, tell, that in traveling through the meadows
in the loan of Fearn, in some places drops of honey were seen as the
dew in the long grass and plantain, sticking to their shoes as they
passed along in a May morning; and also in other parts, their shoes
were oiled as with cream, going through such meadows. Honey and bee
hives were then very plenty.... Cattle, butter, and cheese, were then
very plenty and cheap.” This glowing tradition, we fear, must melt
away before the authentic and too sober accounts of contemporaries
and eye-witnesses.

As for wages to day-labourers and mechanics, in many cases no money
whatever was given; every service being frequently paid for in
kind; where money was given, a copper or two a day was deemed an
ample remuneration, and was probably sufficient to provide those
who earned it with a maintenance satisfactory to themselves, the
price of all necessary provisions being excessively low. A pound of
beef or mutton, or a fowl could be obtained for about a penny, a
cow cost about 30 shillings, and a boll of barley or oatmeal less
than 10 shillings; butter was about twopence a pound, a stone (21
lbs.) of cheese was to be got for about two shillings. The following
extract, from the Old Statistical Account of Caputh, will give the
reader an idea of the rate of wages, where servants were employed,
of the price of provisions, and how really little need there was
for actual cash, every man being able to do many things for himself
which would now require perhaps a dozen workmen to perform. This
parish being strictly in the lowlands, but on the border of the
Highlands, may be regarded as having been, in many respects, further
advanced than the majority of Highland parishes.[53] “The ploughs
and carts were usually made by the farmer himself; with little iron
about the plough, except the colter and share; none upon the cart or
harrows; no shoes upon the horses; no hempen ropes. In short, every
instrument of farming was procured at small expense, wood being at
a very low price. Salt was a shilling the bushel: little soap was
used: they had no candles, instead of which they split the roots of
fir trees, which, though brought 50 or 60 miles from the Highlands,
were purchased for a trifle. Their clothes were of their own
manufacturing. The average price of weaving ten yards of such cloth
was a shilling, which was paid partly in meal and partly in money.
The tailor worked for a quantity of meal, suppose 3 pecks or a firlot
a-year, according to the number of the farmer’s family. In the year
1735, the best ploughman was to be had for L.8 Scots (13s. 4d.) a
year, and what was termed a bounty, which consisted of some articles
of clothing, and might be estimated at 11s. 6d.; in all L.1, 4s.
10d. sterling. Four years after, his wages rose to L.24 Scots, (L.2)
and the bounty. Female servants received L.2 Scots, (3s. 4d.) and a
bounty of a similar kind; the whole not exceeding 6s. or 7s. Some
years after their wages rose to 15s. Men received for harvest work
L.6 Scots, (10s.); women, L.5 Scots, (8s. 4d.). Poultry was sold at
40 pennies Scots, (3⅓d.) Oat-meal, bear and oats, at L.4 or L.5 Scots
the boll. A horse that then cost 100 merks Scots, (L.5 : 11 : 1¾)
would now cost L.25. An ox that cost L.20 Scots, (L.1 : 13 : 4) would
now be worth L.8 or L.9. Beef and mutton were sold, not by weight,
but by the piece; about 3s. 4d. for a leg of beef of 3½ stones; and
so in proportion. No tea nor sugar was used: little whisky was drunk,
and less of other spirits: but they had plenty of good ale; there
being usually one malt barn (perhaps two) on each farm.”[54]

When a Highlander was in need of anything which he could not produce
or make himself, it was by no means easy for him to obtain it, as
by far the greater part of the Highlands was utterly destitute of
towns and manufactures; there was little or no commerce of any kind.
The only considerable Highland town was Inverness, and, if we can
believe Captain Burt, but little business was done there; the only
other places, which made any pretensions to be towns were Stornoway
and Campbeltown, and these at the time we are writing of, were little
better than fishing villages. There were no manufactures strictly
speaking, for although the people spun their own wool and made their
own cloth, exportation, except perhaps in the case of stockings,
seems to have been unknown. In many cases a system of merchandise
somewhat similar to the ruinous, oppressive, and obstructive system
still common in Shetland, seems to have been in vogue in many parts
of the Highlands. By this system, some of the more substantial
tacksmen would lay in a stock of goods such as would be likely to
be needed by their tenants, but which these could not procure for
themselves, such as iron, corn, wine, brandy, sugar, tobacco, &c.
These goods the tacksman would supply to his tenants as they needed
them, charging nothing for them at the time; but, about the month
of May, the tenant would hand over to his tacksman-merchant as many
cattle as the latter considered an equivalent for the goods supplied.
As the people would seldom have any idea of the real value of the
goods, of course there was ample room for a dishonest tacksman to
realise an enormous profit, which, we fear, was too often done. “By
which traffic the poor wretched people were cheated out of their
effects, for one half of their value; and so are kept in eternal

As to roads, with the exception of those made for military purposes
by General Wade, there seems to have been none whatever, only tracts
here and there in the most frequented routes, frequently impassable,
and at all time unsafe without a guide. Captain Burt could not move
a mile or two out of Inverness without a guide. Bridges seem to have
been even rarer than slated houses or carriages.

We have thus endeavoured to give the reader a correct idea of the
state of the country and people of the Highlands previous to the
abolition of the heritable jurisdictions. Our only aim has been
to find out the truth, and we have done so by appealing to the
evidence of contemporaries, or of those whose witness is almost as
good. We have endeavoured to exhibit both the good and bad side of
the picture, and we are only sorry that space will not permit of
giving further details. However, from what has been said above, the
reader must see how much had to be accomplished by the Highlanders
to bring them up to the level of the rest of the country, and will
be able to understand the nature of the changes which from time to
time took place, the difficulties which had to be overcome, the
prejudices which had to be swept away, the hardships which had to
be encountered, in assimilating the Highlands with the rest of the

Having thus, as far as space permits, shown the condition of the
Highlands previous to 1745, we shall now, as briefly as possible,
trace the history down to the present day, showing the march of
change, and we hope, of progress after the abolition of the heritable
jurisdictions. In doing so we must necessarily come across topics
concerning which there has been much rancorous and unprofitable
controversy; but, as we have done in the case of other disputed
matters, we shall do our best to lay facts before the reader,
and allow him to form his opinions for himself. The history of
the Highlands since 1745 is no doubt in some respects a sad one;
much misery and cruel disappointment come under the notice of
the investigator. But in many respects, and, we have no doubt in
its ultimate results, the history is a bright one, showing as it
does the progress of a people from semi-barbarism and slavery and
ignorance towards high civilisation, freedom of action with the
world before them, and enlightenment and knowledge, and vigorous
and successful enterprise. Formerly the Highlanders were a nuisance
to their neighbours, and a drag upon the progress of the country;
now they are not surpassed by any section of her Majesty’s subjects
for character, enterprise, education, loyalty, and self-respect.
Considering the condition of the country in 1745, what could we
expect to take place on the passing and enforcing of an act such as
that which abolished the heritable jurisdictions? Was it not natural,
unavoidable that a fermentation should take place, that there should
be a war of apparently conflicting interests, that, in short, as
in the achievement of all great results by nations and men, there
should be much experimenting, much groping to find out the best way,
much shuffling about by the people to fit themselves to their new
circumstances, before matters could again fall into something like
a settled condition, before each man would find his place in the
new adjustment of society? Moreover, the Highlanders had to learn
an inevitable and a salutary lesson, that in this or in any country
under one government, where prosperity and harmony are desired, no
particular section of the people is to consider itself as having a
right to one particular part of the country. The Highlands for the
Highlanders is a barbarous, selfish, obstructive cry in a united and
progressive nation. It seems to be the law of nature, as it is the
law of progress, that those who can make the best use of any district
ought to have it. This has been the case with the world at large, and
it has turned out, and is still turning out to be the case with this
country. The Highlands now contain a considerable lowland population,
and the Highlanders are scattered over the length and breadth of the
land, and indeed of the world, honourably fulfilling the noble part
they have to play in the world’s history. Ere long there will be
neither Highlander nor Lowlander; we shall all be one people, having
the best qualities of the blood of the formerly two antagonistic
races running in our veins. It is, we have no doubt, with men as with
other animals, the best breeds are got by judicious crossings.

Of course it is seldom the case that any great changes take place in
the social or political policy of a country without much individual
suffering: this was the case at all events in the Highlands. Many of
the poor people and tacksmen had to undergo great hardships during
the process of this new adjustment of affairs; but that the lairds
or chiefs were to blame for this, it would be rash to assert. Some
of these were no doubt unnecessarily harsh and unfeeling, but even
where they were kindest and most considerate with their tenants,
there was much misery prevailing among the latter. In the general
scramble for places under the new arrangements, every one, chief,
tacksman, tenant, and cottar, had to look out for himself or go to
the wall, and it was therefore the most natural thing in the world
that the instinct of self-preservation and self-advancement, which
is stronger by far than that of universal benevolence, should urge
the chiefs to look to their own interests in preference to those of
the people, who unfortunately, from the habit of centuries, looked
to their superiors alone for that help which they should have been
able to give themselves. It appears to us that the results which have
followed from the abolition of the jurisdictions and the obliteration
of the power of the chiefs, were inevitable; that they might have
been brought about in a much gentler way, with much less suffering
and bitterness and recrimination, there is no doubt; but while the
process was going on, who had time to think of these things, or look
at the matter in a calm and rational light? Certainly not those
who were the chief actors in bringing about the results. With such
stubbornness, bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance on one side, and such
power and poverty and necessity for immediate and decided action
on the other, and with selfishness on both sides, it was all but
inevitable that results should have been as they turned out to be. We
shall do what we can to state plainly, briefly, and fairly the real
facts of the case.


[1] Gartmore MS. in Appendix to Burt’s _Letters_.

[2] Pennant’s _Tour in Scotland_.

[3] As a specimen of the manner in which justice was administered
in old times in the Highlands, we give the following: In the second
volume of the Spalding Club Miscellany, p. 128, we read of a certain
“John MacAlister, in Dell of Rothemurkus,” cited on 19th July 1594
“before the Court of Regality of Spynie.” He was “decerned by the
judge--ryplie aduysit with the action of spuilzie persewit contrane
him be the Baron of Kincardine, ... to have vrongouslie intromittit
with and detenit the broune horse lybellit, and thairfor to content
and pay to the said Complainer the soume of threttene schillings
and four pennis money.” The reader will notice the delicate manner
in which what looks very like a breach of the eighth commandment
is spoken of in a legal document of that period. John the son of
Alister “confessed” the intromission with the brown horse, but pled
in defence that he “took him away ordowrlie and nocht spulyed, but
be vertue of the Act of Athell, boynd for ane better horse spuilzeat
be the said persewar from the said Defender.” Whether this was the
truth, or whether, though it were true, John the son of Alister was
justified in seizing upon the Baron’s broune horse in lieu of the one
taken by the Baron from him, or whether it was that the Baron was
the more powerful of the two, the judge, it will have been noticed,
decerned against the said John M’Alister, not, however, ordaining
him to return the horse, but to pay the Baron “thairfor” the sum of
thirteen shillings.--_Memorials of Clan Shaw_, by Rev. W. G. Shaw, p.

[4] _Observations on the Present State of Highlands_, by the Earl of
Selkirk, p. 13.

[5] Burt’s _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 5.

[6] Burt’s _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 5.

[7] Burt’s _Letters_, vol. ii. pp. 341-3.

[8] _Beauties of Scotland_, vol. v. pp. 184, 5.

[9] Old Statistical Account of North Knapdale.

[10] Burt’s _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 57.

[11] Gartmore MS.

[12] Old Statistical Account, vol. ix. p. 494.

[13] “When I first saw this awkward method as I then thought it,
I rode up to the person who guided the machine, to ask him some
questions concerning it: he spoke pretty good English, which made
me conclude he was a gentleman; and yet, in quality of a proprietor
and conductor, might, without dishonour, employ himself in such a
work. My first question was, whether that method was common to the
Highlands, or peculiar to that part of the country? and, by way of
answer, he asked me, if they ploughed otherwise anywhere else? Upon
my further inquiry why the man went backwards? he stopped, and very
civilly informed me that there were several small rocks, which I did
not see, that had a little part of them just peeping on the surface,
and therefore it was necessary his servant should see and avoid them,
by guiding the horses accordingly, or otherwise his plough might be
spoiled by the shock. The answer was satisfactory and convincing,
and I must here take notice that many other of their methods are too
well suited to their own circumstances, and those of the country,
to be easily amended by such as undertake to deride them.”--Burt’s
_Letters_, vol. ii. pp. 42, 43.

[14] Walker’s _Hebrides_, vol. i. p. 122.

[15] Walker’s _Hebrides_, vol. i. p. 127.

[16] Idem, 131.

[17] Walker’s _Hebrides_, vol. i. p. 133.

[18] _Old Statistical Account_, vol. xx. p. 74.

[19] “Nothing is more common than to hear the Highlanders boast how
much their country might be improved, and that it would produce
double what it does at present if better husbandry were introduced
among them. For my own part, it was always the only amusement I had
in the hills, to observe every minute thing in my way; and I do
assure you, I do not remember to have seen the least spot that would
bear corn uncultivated, not even upon the sides of the hills, where
it could be no otherwise broke up than with a spade. And as for
manure to supply the salts and enrich the ground they have hardly
any. In summer their cattle are dispersed about the _sheelings_,
and almost all the rest of the year in other parts of the hills;
and, therefore, all the dung they can have must be from the trifling
quantity made by the cattle while they are in the house. I never knew
or heard of any limestone, chalk, or marl, they have in the country;
and, if some of their rocks might serve for limestone, in that
case their kilns, carriage, and fuel would render it so expensive,
it would be the same thing to them as if there were none. Their
great dependence is upon the nitre of the snow, and they lament the
disappointment if it does not fall early in the season.”--_Burt’s
Letters_, vol. ii. p. 48-9.

[20] “An English lady, who found herself something decaying in her
health, and was advised to go among the hills, and drink goat’s
milk or whey, told me lately, that seeing a Highlander basking at
the foot of a hill in his full dress, while his wife and her mother
were hard at work in reaping the oats, she asked the old woman how
she could be contented to see her daughter labour in that manner,
while her husband was only an idle spectator? And to this the woman
answered, that her son-in-law was a _gentleman_, and it would be
a disparagement to him to do any such work; and that both she and
her daughter too were sufficiently honoured by the alliance. This
instance, I own, has something particular in it, as such; but the
thing is very common, _à la Palatine_, among the middling sort of
people.”--_Burt’s Letters_, vol. ii. p. 45.

The Highlander at home is indolent. It is with impatience that he
allows himself to be diverted from his favourite occupation of
traversing the mountains and moors in looking after his flocks, a
few days in spring and autumn, for the purposes of his narrow scheme
of agriculture. It is remarked, however, that the Highlander, when
removed beyond his native bounds, is found capable of abundant
exertion and industry.--_Graham’s Perthshire_, 235.

[21] Walker’s _Hebrides_, &c., vol. i. p. 197.

[22] _Old Statistical Account_, vol. x. p. 17.

[23] See accounts of various Highland parishes in the _Old
Statistical Account_.

[24] Walker’s _Hebrides_, &c., vol. ii. p. 159.

[25] Burt’s _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 38.

[26] Still they would seem to have been of comparatively little use
for farming operations; for Dr Walker, writing about 1760, when the
breed was at least no worse than it was previous to 1745, speaks
thus:--“The number of horses is by far too great upon every Highland
farm. They are so numerous, because they are inefficient; and they
are inefficient, because they have neither stature nor food to render
them sufficiently useful. Their number has never been restrained by
the authority of the landlords, like that of the sheep. For in many
places, they are bred and sold off the farm to advantage, being sent
in droves to the south. In this case, their numbers upon a farm may
be proper. But in general, there are six, eight, or ten horses upon
the smaller farms, and sixteen, twenty, or more upon the larger;
without any being bred for sale, and even few for supporting the
stock. None of them perform the work of a horse; even where such
numbers are kept, and purely for labour, each of them, in many
places, do not plough two acres of land annually. They get no food
the whole year round, but what they can pick up upon the hills, and
their sustenance is therefore unluckily accounted as nothing.”

[27] _Hebrides_, &c., vol. ii. p. 50.

[28] A penny land apparently contained about the tenth part of a
davoch, _i.e._, about forty acres.

[29] The rule in souming seems to have been that one cow was equal to
eight, in some places ten, sheep, and two cows equal to one horse.

[30] Walker’s _Hebrides_, &c., vol. i. p. 56.

[31] Logan’s _Scottish Gael_, vol. ii. p. 65.

[32] The following remarks, taken from the Gartmore MS. at the end of
Burt’s _Letters_, gives one by no means a favourable idea of these
drovers, but it must be borne in mind that the writer lived on the
border of the most notorious and ill-behaved part of the Highlands,
Rob Roy’s country, and that he himself was properly a Lowlander. The
extract will serve to show how business transactions were conducted
in the Highlands. “It is alledged, that much of the Highlands lye
at a great distance from publick fairs, mercates, and places of
commerce, and that the access to these places is both difficult and
dangerous; by reason of all which, trading people decline to go into
the country in order to traffick and deal with the people. It is on
this account that the farmers, having no way to turn the produce of
their farms, which is mostly cattle, into money, are obliged to pay
their rents in cattle, which the landlord takes at his own price,
in regaird that he must either grase them himself, send them to
distant markets, or credite some person with them, to be againe at
a certain profite disposed of by him. This introduced the busieness
of that sort of people commonly known by the name of Drovers. These
men have little or no substance, they must know the language, the
different places, and consequently be of that country. The farmers,
then, do either sell their cattle to these drovers upon credite,
at the drovers price (for ready money they seldom have), or to the
landlord at his price, for payment of his rent. If this last is the
case, the landlord does again dispose of them to the drover upon
credite, and these drovers make what profites they can by selling
them to grasiers, or at markets. These drovers make payments, and
keep credite for a few years, and then they either in reality become
bankrupts, or pretend to be so. The last is most frequently the
case, and then the subject of which they have cheated is privately
transferred to a confident person in whose name, upon that reall
stock, a trade is sometimes carried on, for their behoof, till
this trustee gett into credite, and prepaire _his_ affairs for a
bankruptcy. Thus the farmers are still keept poor; they first sell at
an under rate, and then they often lose alltogether. The landlords,
too, must either turn traders, and take their cattle to markets, or
give these people credite, and by the same means suffer.”--Burt’s
_Letters_, vol. ii. pp. 364, 365.

[33] “The latter part of the season is often very wet; and the corn,
particularly oats, suffer very much. June and August are the months
which have least rain. September and October are frequently very wet:
during these months, not only a greater quantity of rain falls, but
it is more constant, accompanied by a cold and cloudy atmosphere,
which is very unfavourable either to the ripening of grain, or drying
it after it is cut. In July and August a good deal of rain falls; but
it is in heavy showers, and the intervals are fine, the sun shining
clear and bright often for several days together.”--_Garnett’s Tour_,
vol. i. p. 24.

[34] Buchanan’s _Travels in the Hebrides_, p. 154.

[35] “In larger farms belonging to gentlemen of the clan, where
there are any number of women employed in harvest-work, they all
keep time together by several barbarous tones of the voice, and
stoop and rise together as regularly as a rank of soldiers when they
ground their arms. Sometimes they are incited to their work by the
sound of a bagpipe, and by either of these they proceed with great
alacrity, it being disgraceful for any one to be out of time with
the sickle.” This custom of using music to enable a number of common
workers to keep time, seems to have been in vogue in many operations
in the Highlands. We quote the following graphic account of the
process of fulling given by Burt in the same letter that contains
the above quotation, (vol. ii. p. 48.) “They use the same tone, or
a piper, when they thicken the newly-woven plaiding, instead of a
fulling-mill. This is done by six or eight women sitting upon the
ground, near some river or rivulet, in two opposite ranks, with the
wet cloth between them; their coats are tucked up, and with their
naked feet they strike one against another’s, keeping exact time as
above mentioned. And among numbers of men, employed in any work that
requires strength and joint labour (as the launching a large boat, or
the like), they must have the piper to regulate their time, as well
as usky to keep up their spirits in the performance; for pay they
often have little, or none at all.”--Burt’s _Letters_.

[36] Burton’s _Scotland_ (1689-1748), vol. ii. p. 395.--“The poverty
of the field labourers hereabouts is deplorable. I was one day riding
out for air and exercise, and in my way I saw a woman cutting green
barley in a little plot before her hut: this induced me to turn aside
and ask her what use she intended it for, and she told me it was to
make bread for her family. The grain was so green and soft that I
easily pressed some of it between my fingers; so that when she had
prepared it, certainly it must have been more like a poultice than
what she called it, bread.”--Burt’s _Letters_, vol. i. p. 224.

[37] Buchanan’s _Hebrides_, p. 156.

[38] Logan’s _Gael_, vol. ii. p. 97.

[39] _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 7.

[40] Burt’s _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 96.

[41] _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 97.

[42] The following quotations from Mr Dunbar’s _Social Life in
Former Days_, giving details of household furniture and expenses,
may be taken as “a correct index of the comforts and conveniences”
of the best off of the old Highland lairds; for as they refer to
Morayshire, just on the borders of the Highlands, they cannot be held
as referring to the Highlands generally, the interior and western
districts of which were considerably behind the border lands in many


                                                            £   S.   D.
  Imprimis, to 36 bolls malt, at 8 shillings and 4 pence
      per boll,                                             15   0   0
  Item, to 36 bolls meal, at same price,                    15   0   0
  Item, to 10 bolls wheat, at 13 shillings and 4 pence
      per boll,                                              6  13   4
  Item, to 12 beeves at £1 per piece,                       12   0   0
  Item, to meal to servants without doors,                   9   7   6
  Item, to servants’ wages within and without doors,        41   5   0
  Item, to cash instantly delivered,                        50   6   2
  Item, to be paid monthly, £4, 4s.,                        50   8   0
                                                          £200   0   0

             “_Servants’ Wages 1741._

  Imprimis to gentlewomen                                   10   0   0
  Item, to five maids,                                       5   6   8
  Item, to two cooks,                                        5   0   0
  Item, to two porters,                                      3   0   0
  Item, to Robin’s servant,                                  1   0   0
  Item, to the groom,                                        5   5   0
  Item, to the neighbour,                                    3   6   8
  Item, to three out-servants,                               7   0   0
  Item, to two herds,                                        1   6   8
                                                           £41   5   0


“_Strypt Room._

“Camlet hangings and curtains, feather bed and bolster, two pillows,
five pair blankets, and an Inglish blanket, a green and white cover,
a blew and white chamber-pot, a blew and white bason, a black jopand
table and two looking-glasses, a jopand tee-table with a tee-pat and
plate, and nine cups and nine dyshes, and a tee silver spoon, two
glass sconces, two little bowles, with a leam stoap and a pewter
head, eight black ken chairs, with eight silk cushens conform, an
easie chair with a big cushen, a jopand cabinet with a walnut tree
stand, a grate, shuffle, tonges, and brush; in the closet, three
piece of paper hangings, a chamber box, with a pewter pan therein,
and a brush for cloaths.

“_Closet next the Strypt Room._

“Four dishes, two assiets, six broth plates, and twelve flesh plates,
a quart flagon, and a pynt flagon, a pewter porenger, and a pewter
flacket, a white iron jaculate pot, and a skellet pann, twenty-one
timber plates, a winter for warming plates at the fire, two Highland
plaids, and a sewed blanket, a bolster, and four pillows, a
chamber-box, a sack with wool, and a white iron dripping pann.

“_In the farest Closet._

“Seventeen drinking glasses, with a glass tumbler and two decanters,
a oil cruet, and a vinegar cruet, a urinal glass, a large blew and
white posset pot, a white leam posset pat, a blew and white bowl, a
dozen of blew and white leam plates, three milk dishes, a blew and
white leam porenger, and a white leam porenger, four jelly pots, and
a little butter dish, a crying chair, and a silk craddle.

“_In the Moyhair Room._

“A sute of stamped cloath hangings, and a moyhair bed with feather
bed, bolster, and two pillows, six pair blankets, and an Inglish
blanket and a twilt, a leam chamber-pat, five moyhair chairs, two
looking-glasses, a cabinet, a table, two stands, a table cloak, and
window hangings, a chamber-box with a pewter pann, a leam bason, with
a grate and tongs and a brush; in the closet, two carpets, a piece
of Arres, three pieces lyn’d strypt hangings, three wawed strypt
curtains, two piece gilded leather, three trunks and a craddle, a
chamber-box, and a pewter pann, thirty-three pound of heckled lint, a
ston of vax, and a firkin of sop, and a brush for cloaths, two pair
blankets, and a single blanket.

“_In the Dyning-Room._

“A sute of gilded hangings, two folding tables, eighteen low-backed
ken chairs, a grate, a fender, a brass tongs, shuffle, brush, and
timber brush, and a poring iron, and a glass kes.

“_In my Lady’s Room._

“Gilded hangings, standing bed, and box bed, stamped drogged
hangings, feather bed, bolster, and two pillows, a pallise, five
pair of blankets, and a single one, and a twilt, and two pewter
chamber-pots, six chairs, table, and looking-glass a little folding
table, and a chist of drawers, tonges, shuffle, porrin-iron, and
a brush, two window curtains of linen; in the Laird’s closet,
two trunks, two chists, and a citrena cabinet, a table, and a
looking-glass, the dow holes, two carpet chairs, and a chamber-box
with a pewter pan, and a little bell, and a brush for cloath.

“_My Lady’s Closet._

“A cabinet, three presses, three kists, and a spicerie box, a dozen
leam white plates, a blew and white leam plate, a little blew butter
plate, a white leam porenger, and three gelly pots, two leam dishes,
and two big timber capes, four tin congs, a new pewter basson, a pynt
chopen, and mutchken stoups, two copper tankers, two pewter salts, a
pewter mustard box, a white iron peper and suggar box, two white iron
graters, a pot for starch, and a pewter spoon, thirteen candlesticks,
five pair snuffers and snuf dishes conform, a brass mortar and
pistol, a lantern, a timber box, a dozen knives and a dozen forks,
and a carpet chair, two milk congs, a milk cirn, and kirn staff, a
sisymilk, and creamen dish and a cheswel, a neprie basket, and two
new pewter chamber pots.

“_A Note of Plate._

“Three silver salvers, four salts, a large tanker, a big spoon, and
thirteen littler spoons, two jugs, a sugar box, a mustard box, a
peper box, and two little spoons.

“_An Account of Bottles in the Salt Cellar._

  “_June the first 1708._

  Of Sack, five dozen and one,                             5  1
  Of Brandie, three dozen and three,                       3  3
  Of Vinegar and Aquavitie, seven,                         0  7
  Of Strong Ale, four dozen and four,                      4  4
  Of other Ale, nine dozen,                                9  0
  In the ale cellar, fifteen dozen and ten,               15 10
  In the hamper, five dozen empty,                         5  0
  In the wine cellar, nine with Inglish Ale,               0  9
  White Wine, ten,                                         0 10
  Of Brandy, three,                                        0  3
  With Brandy and Surop, two,                              0  2
  With Claret, fifteen,                                    1  3
  With Mum, fifteen,                                       1  3
  Throw the house, nineteen,                               1  7
  There is in all, forty-nine dozen and two,              49  2
  And of mutchkin bottles twenty-five,                     2  1

“Received ten dozen and one of chapen bottles full of claret. More
received--eleven dozen and one of pynt bottles, whereof there was six
broke in the home-coming. 1709, June the 4th, received from Elgin
forty-three chopen bottles of claret.”

[43] _Essays_, vol. i. p. 30.

[44] There appears to have been a dreadful one just three years
before ’45. See Stat. Account of various Highland parishes.

[45] Garnett’s _Tour_, vol. i. p. 121.

[46] _Letters_, vol. ii. 28.

[47] Vol. i. p. 124.

[48] Burt, ii. p. 34.

[49] _Letters_, vol. i. p. 51.

[50] Fraser-Mackintosh’s _Antiquarian Notes_, p. 1.

[51] “The manners and habits of this parish [as of all other Highland
parishes] have undergone a material change within these 50 years;
before that period they lived in a plain simple manner, experienced
few wants, and possessed not the means, nor had any desire, of
procuring any commodities. If they had salt [upon which there was
a grievous duty] and tobacco, paid their pittance of rents, and
performed their ordinary services to their superiors, and that
their conduct in general met their approbation, it seemed to be the
height of their ambition.”--_Old Statistical Account of Boleskin and
Abertarf, Inverness-shire_ (1798).

[52] Old Statistical Account of Fearn, Ross-shire.

[53] “The spades, ploughs, harrows, and sledges, of the most
feeble and imperfect kinds, with all their harnessing, are made
by the farmer and his servants; as also the boats, with all their
tackle.--The boat has a Highland plaid for a sail; the running
rigging is made of leather thongs and willow twigs; and a large stone
and a heather rope serve for an anchor and cable; and all this, among
a people of much natural ingenuity and perseverance. There is no
fulling mill nor bleachfield; no tanner, maltster, or dyer; all the
yarn is dyed, and all the cloth fulled or bleached by the women on
the farm. The grain for malt is steeped in sacks in the river; and
the hides are tanned, and the shoes made at home. There are, indeed,
itinerant shoemakers, tailors, wrights, and masons, but none of
these has full employment in his business, as all the inhabitants,
in some measure, serve themselves in these trades: hence, in the
royal boroughs of Inveraray, Campbelton, and Inverness, and in the
considerable villages of Crieff, Callander, Oban, Maryburgh, Fort
Augustus, and Stornoway, there are fewer tradesmen, and less demand
for the workmanship of mechanics, than in any other places of the
same size; yet these are either situated in, or are next adjacent to,
a more extensive and populous country, than any other similar towns
or villages in Scotland.”--Walker’s _Hebrides_, vol. ii. pp. 374, 5.

[54] _Old Stat. Account_, vol. ix. pp. 494, 5.

[55] Gartmore Paper, in Burt’s _Letters_, vol. ii. p. 364.


  State of Highlands subsequent to 1745--Progress of Innovation--First
  mention of Emigration--Pennant’s account of the country--Dr
  Johnson--Emigration fairly commenced in 1760--The Tacksmen the first
  to suffer and emigrate--Consequences to those who remained--Wretched
  condition of the Western Islands--Introduction of large
  sheep-farms--Ejection of small tenants--“Mailers”--Hebrides--Real
  Highland grievance--Title-deeds--The two sides of the Highland
  Question--Truth on both sides--Excessive population--Argument
  of those who condemn depopulation--The sentimental and
  military arguments--Testimony as to wretched condition of
  Highlanders--Highlands admirably suited for sheep--Effect of
  sheep-farming on Highland scenery--Highlands unsuited to black
  cattle--Large and small farms--Interference--Fishing and farming
  cannot be successfully united--Raising rents--Depopulation--How far
  the landlords were to blame--Kelp--Advantages and disadvantages of
  its manufacture--Potatoes--Introduction into the Highlands--Their
  importance--Failures of Crop--Disease--Amount of progress made
  during latter part of 18th century.

As we have said already, the Highlanders, chiefs and people, were so
confounded, and prostrated by the cruel proceedings and stringent
measures which followed Culloden, that it was some time ere they
could realise the new position of affairs. Little alteration
appears to have, for some years, been effected in the relationship
subsisting between people and chiefs, the latter being now simply
landlords. The gentlemen and common people of the clans continued
to regard their chief in the same light as they did previous to the
abolition of the jurisdictions, for they did not consider that their
obedience to the head of the clan was in the least dependent upon
any legislative enactments. They still considered it their duty to
do what they could to support their chief, and were still as ready
as ever to make any sacrifice for his sake. At the same time, their
notions of the chief’s duty to his people remained unaltered; he,
they thought, was bound as much as ever to see to it that they did
not want, to share with them the land which belonged to the chief not
so much as a proprietor, but as the head and representative of his
people. The gentlemen, especially, of the clan, the tacksmen or large
farmers, most firmly and sincerely believed that they had as much
right to a share of the lands as the chief himself, their relation;
he was as much bound to provide for them as a father is bound to make
provision for his children. There is no doubt also that many of the
chiefs themselves, especially the older ones, held the same belief
on this matter as their subordinates, so that in many instances it
was not till the old laird had passed away, and a new one had filled
his place, that the full effect of the measures already described
began to be felt. Of course, many of the chiefs and gentlemen who had
taken part in the rebellion had been compelled to leave the country
in order to save their lives, and many of the estates had been
forfeited to government, which entrusted the management of them to
commissioners. It was probably these estates upon which changes began
to be first effected.

All the accounts we have of the Highlands from travellers and others
down to the end of the 18th century, show the country in a state of
commotion and confusion, resulting from the changes consequent on
the rebellion, the breaking up of old relationships, and the gradual
encroachment of lowland civilisation, lowland modes of life, and
lowland methods of agriculture. Up to the end of the century, the
positive changes do not appear to have been great or extensive, they
seem more to have been of a tentative experimental kind, attempts to
find out the most suitable or profitable way of working under the
new regime. The result of these experiments of this unsettling of
many-century-old customs and ideas, and of the consequent shifting
and disturbing of the people, was for a long time much discontent
and misery. The progress of change, both with regard to place and in
respect of the nature of the innovations, was gradual, beginning, as
a rule, with those districts of the Highlands which bordered on the
lowlands, and proceeding in a direction somewhat north-west. It was
these border districts which got first settled down and assimilated
in all respects to the lowlands, and, although in some instances
the commotion was felt in the Western Islands and Highlands a few
years after 1746, yet these localities, as a rule, were longest
in adjusting themselves to the new state of things; indeed, in
many western districts, the commotion has not yet subsided, and
consequently misery and discontent still frequently prevail. In the
same way it was only little by little that changes were effected,
first one old custom giving way and then another, their places being
filled by others which had prevailed in the lowlands for many years
before. Indeed, we think the progress made by the Highlands during
the last century has been much greater than that of the lowlands
during the same period; for when, in the case of the Highlands, the
march of progress commenced, they were in many respects centuries
behind the rest of the country, whereas at the present day, with the
exception of some outlying districts above mentioned, they are in
almost every respect as far forward and as eager to advance farther
as the most progressive districts of the south. This is no doubt
owing to the extra pressure which was brought to bear upon them in
the shape of the measures which followed Culloden, without which they
no doubt must have progressed, but at a much slower rate. Perhaps
this is the reason why certain outlying districts have lagged behind
and are still in a state of unsettlement and discontent, the people,
and often the lairds, refusing to acknowledge and give way to the
necessity for change, but even yet attempting to live and act in
accordance with the old-fashioned clannish mode of managing men and

The unsettled state of the Highlands, and the fact that many
Highlanders were leaving the country, attracted attention so
early as about 1750. For in 1752, a pamphlet was published by
a Mr John Campbell, pretending to give “A Full and Particular
Description of the Highlands,” and propounding a scheme which, in
the author’s estimation, would “prove effectual in bringing in the
most disaffected among them.” There is little said in this book of
the actual condition of the Highlanders at that time, only a few
details as to their manners, funeral-customs, marriages, &c., and a
lamentation, ever since repeated, that so many should be compelled
to leave their native land and settle among foreigners. The author
does not mention emigration to America; what he chiefly deplores
is the fact that so many Highlanders, from the unkindness of their
superiors at home, should have taken service in various capacities,
civil and military, in other European countries, frequently fighting
in foreign armies against their fellow-countrymen. However, from
the general tone of his remarks, it may be gathered that he refers
mainly to those who were compelled to leave the country on account
of the part they took in the late rebellion, and not on account of
any alterations which had yet taken place in the internal affairs of
the Highlands. Still it is plainly to be inferred that already much
misery and discontent prevailed in the country.

Pennant made his two tours in Scotland in the years 1769 and 1772.
His travels in the Highlands were confined mainly to the Western
Islands and the districts on the west coast, and his account is
little else than a tale of famine and wretchedness from beginning
to end. What little agriculture there was, was as bad as ever, the
country rarely producing enough of grain to supply the inhabitants,
and in many places he fears “the isles annually experience a
temporary famine.” In the island of Islay a thousand pounds worth of
meal was annually imported, and at the time of Pennant’s visit “a
famine threatened.” Indeed, the normal state of the Western Highlands
at least appears for long to have been one bordering on famine, or
what would have been considered so in any less wretched country; and
periodically many seem to have died from absolute want of food. Here
is a sad picture of misery; Pennant is speaking more particularly
of Skye, but his remarks might have been applied to most of the
Western Islands. “The poor are left to Providence’s care; they prowl
like other animals along the shores to pick up limpets and other
shell-fish, the casual repasts of hundreds during part of the year
in these unhappy islands. Hundreds thus annually drag through the
season a wretched life; and numbers, unknown, in all parts of the
Western Highlands, fall beneath the pressure, some of hunger, more
of the putrid fever, the epidemic of the coasts, originating from
unwholesome food, the dire effects of necessity.”[56] No change for
the better to record in agriculture, the farms still overstocked with
horses, black cattle and men, the fishing still all but neglected,
hovels wretched as ever, and clothes as tattered and scanty--nothing
in short to be seen but want and wretchedness, with apparently no
inclination in the people to better their condition. Johnson, who
visited the Western Islands in the autumn of 1773, has a very similar
report to make. Everything seemed to be in a state of transition;
old relationships were being broken up, and a spirit of general
discontent and feeling of insecurity were abroad. As to the poor
condition of the people generally, Johnson essentially confirms the
statements of Pennant, although he hints that they did by no means
appear to be unhappy, or able to realise their wretched condition.

At the time of Pennant’s and Johnson’s visits to the Highlands,
the new leaven of change had fairly begun to work. Already had
depopulation and emigration begun, and to some extent sheep-farming
on a large scale had been introduced.

Emigration from the Highlands to America seems to have fairly
commenced shortly after 1760, as, in a pamphlet[57] published in
1784, it is stated that between the years 1763 and 1775 above 20,000
Highlanders left their homes to settle on the other side of the
Atlantic. The first apparently to suffer from the altered state
of things in the Highlands, the decreasing value of men and the
increasing value of money, were the tacksmen, or large farmers,
the relations of the old chiefs, who had held their farms from
generation to generation, who regarded themselves as having about as
much right to the land as the lairds, and who had hitherto been but
little troubled about rent. After a time, when the chiefs, now merely
lairds, began to realise their new position and to feel the necessity
of making their land yield them as large an income as possible, they
very naturally sought to get a higher rent for the farms let to these
tacksmen, who, in most cases, were the only immediate holders of
land from the proprietor. These tacksmen, in many cases, appear to
have resented this procedure as they would a personal injury from
their dearest friends. It was not that the addition to the rents was
excessive, or that the rents were already as high as the land could
bear, for generally the additions seem to have been trifling, and it
is well known that the proprietors received nothing like the rents
their lands should have yielded under a proper system of management.
What seems to have hurt these gentlemen was the idea that the laird,
the father of his people, should ever think of anything so mercenary
as rent, or should ever by any exercise of his authority indicate
that he had it in his power to give or let his farms to the highest
bidders. It was bad enough, they thought, that an alien government
should interfere with their old ways of doing; but that their chiefs,
the heads of their race, for whom they were ready to lay down their
lives and the lives of all over whom they had any power, should turn
against them, was more than they could bear. The consequence was that
many of them, especially in the west, threw up their farms, no doubt
thinking that the lairds would at once ask them to remain on the old
terms. This, however, was but seldom done, and the consequence was
that many of these tacksmen emigrated to America, taking with them,
no doubt, servants and sub-tenants, and enticing out more by the
glowing accounts they sent home of their good fortune in that far-off

In some cases, the farms thus vacated were let to other tacksmen or
large tenants, but in most instances, the new system was introduced
of letting the land directly to what were formerly the sub-tenants,
those who had held the land immediately from the ousted tacksmen.
A number of these sub-tenants would take a large farm among them,
sub-dividing it as they chose, and each becoming liable for his
proportion of the rent. The farms thus let were generally cultivated
on the run-rig system already referred to, the pasture being common
to all the tenants alike.

That certain advantages followed these changes there is no doubt.
Every account we have of the Highlands during the earlier part
of the 18th century, agrees in the fact that the Highlands were
over-peopled and over-stocked, that it was impossible for the land
to yield sufficient to support the men and beasts who lived upon it.
Hence, this drafting off of a considerable portion of the population
gave that which remained breathing-room; fewer people were left to
support, and it is to be supposed that the condition of these would
be improved. Moreover, they would probably have their farms at a
cheaper rent than under the old system, when the demands of both
tacksmen and laird had to be satisfied, the former, of course, having
let the land at a much higher rate than that at which they held it
from their superior. Now, it was possible enough for the laird to
get a higher rent than before, and at the same time the people might
have their farms at a lower rent than they had previously given to
the tacksmen. There would also be fewer oppressive services demanded
of these small tenants than under the old system, for now they had
only the laird to satisfy, whereas previously they had both him and
the tacksman. There would still, of course, be services required by
the laird from these tenants, still would part of the rent be paid
in kind, still would they be thirled to particular mills, and have
to submit to many similar exactions, of the oppressiveness of which,
however, it was long before they became conscious; but, on the whole,
the condition of those districts from which emigrations took place
must to some extent have been the better for the consequent thinning
of the population. Still no alteration appears to have taken place
in the mode of farming, the nature of tenures, mode of paying rent,
houses, clothes, food of the people. In some parts of the Highlands
and islands, no alteration whatever appears to have been made on the
old system; the tacksmen were allowed to remain undisturbed, and the
people lived and held land as formerly. But even in those districts
from which emigrations were largely made, little or no improvement
seems to have been the consequence, if we may trust the reports of
those who saw how things stood with their own eyes. Pennant, Johnson,
Buchanan,[58] Newte,[59] the Old Statistical Account, all agree that
but little improvement was noticeable over the greater part of the
Highlands from 1745 down till near the end of the 18th century.

One reason why perhaps emigration made so little odds in the way of
improvement on the condition of those who remained in the country
was, that no check was put upon the over-stocking of the farms with
men and animals. In spite of emigration, the population in many
districts increased instead of diminished. A common practice among
those tenants who conjointly held a large farm was for a father,
on the marriage of a son or daughter, to divide his share of the
farm with the young couple, who either lived in the old man’s
house or built a hut for themselves and tried to make a living out
of the share of the pendicle allotted to them. To such an extent
was this practice carried, that often a portion of land of a few
acres, originally let to and sufficient to maintain one family,
might in a few years be divided among six or eight families, and
which, even if cultivated in the best manner possible, could not
support its occupants for more than two or three months a year. On
account of this ruinous practice, Skye, which in 1750 had 15,000
inhabitants, most of whom were in a condition of misery and want, in
1857, in spite of large and repeated emigrations, had a population
of about 23,000. This custom was common in many Highland (chiefly
western) districts down to only a few years ago, and was fruitful
of many pernicious consequences--of frequent famines, the constant
impoverishing of the soil, the over-stocking of pasture-land, and
continual wretchedness.

In some cases, the farms vacated by the old tacksmen, instead of
being let to the old subtenants, were let to whatever stranger
would give the highest offer. On farms so let, the condition of
the sub-tenants who were continued on the old footing, appears
often to have been miserable in the extreme. These newcome tacksmen
or middlemen cared nothing either for chiefs or people; they paid
their rent and were determined to squeeze from those under them as
large a return as possible for their outlay. In confirmation of
these statements, and to show the sad condition of many parts of
the Highlands in their state of transition, we quote the following
passage from Buchanan’s _Travels in the Hebrides_, referring to about
1780. Even allowing for exaggeration, although there is no reason
to believe the writer goes beyond the truth, the picture is almost
incredibly deplorable:--

“At present they are obliged to be much more submissive to their
tacksmen than ever they were in former times to their lairds or
lords. There is a great difference between that mild treatment which
is shown to sub-tenants and even scallags, by the old lessees,
descended of ancient and honourable families, and the outrageous
rapacity of those necessitous strangers who have obtained leases from
absent proprietors, who treat the natives as if they were a conquered
and inferior race of mortals. In short, they treat them like beasts
of burthen; and in all respects like slaves attached to the soil, as
they cannot obtain new habitations, on account of the combinations
already mentioned, and are entirely at the mercy of the laird or
tacksman. Formerly, the personal service of the tenant did not
usually exceed eight or ten days in the year. There lives at present
at Scalpa, in the Isle of Harris, a tacksman of a large district, who
instead of six days’ work paid by the sub-tenants to his predecessor
in the lease, has raised the predial service, called in that and in
other parts of Scotland, _manerial bondage_, to fifty-two days in
the year at once; besides many other services to be performed at
different though regular and stated times: as tanning leather for
brogues, making heather ropes for thatch, digging and drying peats
for fuel; one pannier of peat charcoal to be carried to the smith; so
many days for gathering and shearing sheep and lambs; for ferrying
cattle from island to island, and other distant places, and several
days for going on distant errands; so many pounds of wool to be spun
into yarn. And over and above all this, they must lend their aid upon
any unforeseen occurrence whenever they are called on. The constant
service of two months at once is performed at the proper season in
the making of kelp. On the whole, this gentleman’s subtenants may be
computed to devote to his service full three days in the week. But
this is not all: they have to pay besides yearly a certain number
of cocks, hens, butter, and cheese, called CAORIGH-FERRIN, the
WIFE’S PORTION! This, it must be owned, is one of the most severe
and rigorous tacksmen descended from the old inhabitants, in all the
Western Hebrides: but the situation of his sub-tenants exhibits but
too faithful a picture of the sub-tenants of those places in general,
and the exact counterpart of such enormous oppression is to be found
at Luskintire.”

Another cause of emigration and of depopulation generally, was the
introduction of sheep on a large scale, involving the junction into
one of several small farms, each of which might before have been
occupied by a number of tenants. These subjects of the introduction
of sheep, engrossing of farms, and consequent depopulation, have
occupied, and still to some extent do occupy, the attention of all
those who take an interest in the Highlands, and of social economists
in general. Various opinions have been passed on the matters in
question, some advocating the retention of the people at all costs,
while others declare that the greatest part of the Highlands is fit
only for pasture, and it would be sheer madness, and shutting our
eyes wilfully to the sad lessons of experience, to stock a land with
people that is fit only to sustain sheep, and which at its very best
contains mere specks of arable ground, which, even when cultivated to
the utmost, can yield but a poor and unprofitable return.

Whatever opinion may be passed upon the general question, there can
be no doubt that at first the introduction of sheep was fruitful
of misery and discontent to those who had to vacate their old home
and leave their native glens to find shelter they knew not well
where. Many of those thus displaced by sheep and by one or two
lowland shepherds, emigrated like the discontented tacksmen to
America, those who remained looking with ill-will and an evil eye
on the lowland intruders. Although often the intruder came from the
South country, and brought his sheep and his shepherds with him,
still this was not always the case; for many of the old tacksmen
and even subtenants, after they saw how immensely more profitable
the new system was over the old, wisely took a lesson in time, and
following the example of the new lowland tenant, took large farms
and stocked them with sheep and cattle, and reduced the arable
land to a minimum. But, generally speaking, in cases where farms
formerly subdivided among a number of tenants were converted into
sheep farms, the smaller tenant had to quit and find a means of
living elsewhere. The landlords in general attempted to prevent
the ousted tenants from leaving the country by setting apart some
particular spot either by the sea-shore or on waste land which had
never been touched by plough, on which they might build houses and
have an acre or two of land for their support. Those who were removed
to the coast were encouraged to prosecute the fishing along with
their agricultural labours, while those who were settled on waste
land were stimulated to bring it into a state of cultivation. It
was mainly by a number of such ousted Highlanders that the great
and arduous undertaking was accomplished of bringing into a state
of cultivation Kincardine Moss, in Perthshire. At the time the task
was undertaken, about 1767, it was one of stupendous magnitude; but
so successfully was it carried out, that in a few years upwards of
2000 acres of fine clay-soil, which for centuries had been covered
to the depth of seven feet with heath and decayed vegetable matter,
were bearing luxuriant crops of all kinds. In a similar way, many
spots throughout the Highlands, formerly yielding nothing but heath
and moss, were, by the exertions of those who were deprived of their
farms, brought into a state of cultivation. Those who occupied ground
of this kind were known as _mailers_, and, as a rule, they paid no
rent for the first few years, after which they generally paid the
proprietor a shilling or two per acre, which was gradually increased
as the land improved and its cultivation extended. For the first
season or two the proprietor usually either lent or presented them
with seed and implements. In the parish of Urray, in the south-east
of Ross-shire, about the year 1790, there were 248 families of this
kind, most of whom had settled there within the previous forty years.
Still the greater number of these, both tacksmen and sub-tenants,
who were deprived of their farms, either on account of the raising
of the rents or because of their conversion into large sheep-walks,
emigrated to America. The old _Statistical Account of North Uist_
says that between the years 1771 and 1775, a space of only four
years, several thousands emigrated from the Western Highlands and
Islands alone. At first few of the islands appear to have been put
under sheep; where any alteration on the state of things took place
at all, it was generally in the way of raising rents, thus causing
the tacksmen to leave, who were succeeded either by strangers who
leased the farms, or by the old sub-tenants, among whom the lands
were divided, and who held immediately from the laird. It was long,
however, as we have already indicated, before the innovations took
thorough hold upon the Hebrides, as even down almost to the present
time many of the old proprietors, either from attachment to their
people, or from a love of feudal show, struggle to keep up the old
system, leaving the tacksmen undisturbed, and doing all they can to
maintain and keep on their property a large number of subtenants and
cottars. Almost invariably, those proprietors who thus obstinately
refused to succumb to the changes going on around them, suffered for
their unwise conduct. Many of them impoverished their families for
generations, and many of the estates were disposed of for behoof of
their creditors, and they themselves had to sink to the level of
landless gentlemen, and seek their living in commerce or otherwise.

Gradually, however, most of the proprietors, especially those whose
estates were on the mainland Highlands, yielded, in general no doubt
willingly, to change, raised their rents, abolished small tenancies,
and gave their lands up to the sheep farmers. The temptation was, no
doubt, often very great, on account of the large rents offered by
the lowland graziers. One proprietor in Argyleshire, who had some
miles of pasture let to a number of small tenants for a few shillings
yearly, on being offered by a lowlander who saw the place £300 a
year, could not resist, but, however ruefully, cleared it of his old
tenants, and gave it up to the money-making lowlander. It was this
engrossing of farms and the turning of immense tracts of country into
sheep-walks, part of which was formerly cultivated and inhabited by
hundreds of people, that was the great grievance of the Highlanders
during the latter part of last century. Not that it could aggravate
their wretchedness to any great extent, for that was bad enough
already even before 1745; it seems to have been rather the fact that
their formerly much-loved chiefs should treat them worse than they
could strangers, prefer a big income to a large band of faithful
followers, and eject those who believed themselves to have as great
a right to the occupancy of the land as the chiefs themselves. “The
great and growing grievance of the Highlands is not the letting of
the land to tacksmen, but the making of so many sheep-walks, which
sweep off both tacksmen and sub-tenants all in a body.”[60] The
tacksmen especially felt naturally cut to the quick by what they
deemed the selfish and unjust policy of the chiefs. These tacksmen
and their ancestors in most cases had occupied their farms for many
generations; their birth was as good and their genealogy as old as
those of the chief himself, to whom they were all blood relations,
and to whom they were attached with the most unshaken loyalty. True,
they had no writing, no document, no paltry “sheep-skin,” as they
called it, to show as a proof that they had as much right to their
farms as the laird himself. But what of that? Who would ever have
thought that their chiefs would turn against them, and try to wrest
from them that which had been gifted by a former chief to their
fathers, who would have bitten out their tongue before they would
ask a bond? The gift, they thought, was none the less real because
there was no written proof of it. These parchments were quite a
modern innovation, not even then universally acknowledged among the
Highlanders, to whom the only satisfactory proof of proprietorship
and chiefship was possession from time immemorial. Occasionally
a chief, who could produce no title-deed to his estate, was by
law deprived of it, and his place filled by another. But the clan
would have none of this; they invariably turned their backs upon
the intruder, and acknowledged only the ousted chief as their head
and the real proprietor, whom they were bound to support, and whom
they frequently did support, by paying to him the rents which were
legally due to the other. In some cases, it would seem,[61] the
original granters of the land to the tacksmen conveyed it to them by
a regular title-deed, by which, of course, they became proprietors.
And we think there can be no doubt, that originally when a chief
bestowed a share of his property upon his son or other near relation,
he intended that the latter should keep it for himself and his
descendants; he was not regarded merely as a tenant who had to pay a
yearly rent, but as a sub-proprietor, who, from a sense of love and
duty would contribute what he could to support the chief of his race
and clan. In many cases, we say, this was the light in which chief,
tacksmen, and people regarded these farms tenanted by the gentlemen
of the clan; and it only seems to have been after the value of men
decreased and of property increased, that most of the lairds began
to look at the matter in a more commercial, legal, and less romantic
light. According to Newte--and what he says is supported to a
considerable extent by facts--“in the southern parts of Argyleshire,
in Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Moray, and Ross, grants of land were
made in writing, while in Inverness-shire, Sutherlandshire, the
northern parts of Argyleshire, and the Western Islands, the old mode
was continued of verbal or emblematical transference. In Ross-shire,
particularly, it would appear that letters and the use of letters
in civil affairs had been early introduced and widely spread; for
property is more equally divided in that country than in most other
counties in Scotland, and than in any other of the Highlands.
Agreeably to these observations, it is from the great estates on
the northern and western sides of Scotland that the descendants
of the original tacksmen of the land, with their families, have
been obliged to migrate by the positive and unrelenting demands of
rent beyond what it was in their power to give, and, indeed, in
violation of those conditions that were understood and observed
between the original granter and original tenant and their posterity
for centuries.”[62] These statements are exceedingly plausible, and
we believe to a certain extent true; but it is unnecessary here to
enter upon the discussion of the question. What we have to do with
is the unquestionable fact that the Highland proprietors did in many
instances take advantage of the legal power, which they undoubtedly
possessed, to do with their land as they pleased, and, regardless
of the feelings of the old tacksmen and sub-tenants, let it to the
highest bidders. The consequence was that these tacksmen, who to a
certain extent were demoralised and knew not how to use the land
to best advantage, had to leave the homes of their ancestors; and
many of the small farmers and cottars, in the face of the new system
of large sheep-farms, becoming cumberers of the ground, were swept
from the face of the country, and either located in little lots by
the sea-side, where they became useful as fishers and kelp-burners,
or settled on some waste moor, which they occupied themselves in
reclaiming from its native barrenness, or, as was frequently the
case, followed the tacksmen, and sought a home in the far west, where
many of them became lairds in their own right.

These then are the great results of the measures which followed the
rebellion of 1745-6, and the consequent breaking up of the old clan
system--extensive sheep-farming, accompanied with a great rise in
the rent of land, depopulation, and emigration. As to the legality
of the proceedings of the proprietors, there can be no doubt; as
little doubt is there that the immediate consequence to many of the
Highlanders was great suffering, accompanied by much bitterness
and discontent. As to the morality or justice of the laird’s
conduct, various opinions have been, and no doubt for long will be,
expressed. One side maintains that it was the duty of these chiefs
upon whom the people depended, whom they revered, and for whom they
were ready to die, at all events, to see to it that their people were
provided for, and that ultimately it would have been for the interest
of the proprietors and the country at large to do everything to
prevent from emigrating in such numbers as they did, such a splendid
race of men, for whose services to the country no money equivalent
could be found. It is maintained that the system of large farms is
pernicious in every respect, and that only by the system of moderate
sized farms can a country be made the best of, an adequate rural
population be kept up, and self-respect and a high moral tone be
nourished and spread throughout the land. Those who adopt this side
of the question pooh-pooh the common maxims of political economy,
and declare that laws whose immediate consequences are wide-spread
suffering, and the unpeopling of a country, cannot be founded on any
valid basis; that proprietors hold their lands only in trust, and
it is therefore their duty not merely to consider their own narrow
interests, but also to consult the welfare and consult the feelings
of their people. In short, it is maintained by this party, that the
Highland lairds, in acting as they did, showed themselves to be
unjust, selfish, heartless, unpatriotic, mercenary, and blind to
their own true interests and those of their country.

On the other hand, it is maintained that what occurred in the
Highlands subsequent to 1745 was a step in the right direction,
and that it was only a pity that the innovations had not been
more thorough and systematic. For long previous to 1745, it is
asserted the Highlands were much over-peopled, and the people, as
a consequence of the vicious system under which they had lived for
generations, were incurably lazy, and could be roused from this
sad lethargy only by some such radical measures as were adopted.
The whole system of Highland life and manners and habits were
almost barbarous, the method of farming was thoroughly pernicious
and unproductive, the stock of cattle worthless and excessive, and
so badly managed that about one half perished every winter. On
account of the excessive population, the land was by far too much
subdivided, the majority of so-called farmers occupying farms of so
small a size that they could furnish the necessaries of life for no
more than six months, and consequently the people were continually
on the verge of starvation. The Highlands, it is said, are almost
totally unsuited for agriculture, and fit only for pasturage, and
that consequently this subdivision into small farms could be nothing
else than pernicious; that the only method by which the land could
be made the most of was that of large sheep-farms, and that the
proprietors, while no doubt studying their own interests, adopted
the wisest policy when they let out their land on this system. In
short, it is maintained by the advocates of innovations, the whole
body of the Highlanders were thoroughly demoralised, their number was
greater by far than the land could support even if managed to the
best advantage, and was increasing every year; the whole system of
renting land, of tenure, and of farming was ruinous to the people and
the land, and that nothing but a radical change could cure the many
evils with which the country was afflicted.

There has been much rather bitter discussion between the advocates
of the two sides of the Highland question; often more recrimination
and calling of names than telling argument. This question, we think,
is no exception to the general rule which governs most disputed
matters; there is truth, we believe, on both sides. We fear the
facts already adduced in this part of the book comprise many of
the assertions made by the advocates of change. As to the wretched
social condition of the Highlanders, for long before and after 1745,
there can be no doubt, if we can place any reliance on the evidence
of contemporaries, and we have already said enough to show that the
common system of farming, if worthy of the name, was ruinous and
inefficient; while their small lean cattle were so badly managed that
about one half died yearly. That the population was very much greater
than the land, even if used to the best advantage, could support, is
testified to by every candid writer from the Gartmore paper[63] down
almost to the present day. The author of the Gartmore paper, written
about 1747, estimated that the population of the Highlands at that
time amounted to about 230,000; “but,” he says, “according to the
present economy of the Highlands, there is not business for more than
one half of that number of people.... The other half, then, must be
idle and beggars while in the country.” “The produce of the crops,”
says Pennant,[64] “very rarely are in any degree proportioned to the
wants of the inhabitants; golden seasons have happened, when they
have had superfluity, but the years of famine are as ten to one.” It
is probable, from a comparison with the statistics of Dr Webster,
taken in 1755,[65] that the estimate of the author of the Gartmore
paper was not far from being correct; indeed, if anything, it must
have been under the mark, as in 1755 the population of the Highlands
and Islands amounted, according to Webster, to about 290,000, which,
in 1795, had increased to 325,566,[66] in spite of the many thousands
who had emigrated. This great increase in the population during the
latter part of the 18th century is amply confirmed by the writers
of the Statistical Accounts of the various Highland parishes, and
none had better opportunities of knowing the real state of matters
than they. The great majority of these writers likewise assert
that the population was far too large in proportion to the produce
of the land and means of employment, and that some such outlet as
emigration was absolutely necessary. Those who condemn emigration and
depopulation, generally do so for some merely sentimental reason, and
seldom seek to show that it is quite possible to maintain the large
population without disastrous results. It is a pity, they say, that
the Highlander, possessing so many noble qualities, and so strongly
attached to his native soil, should be compelled to seek a home
in a foreign land, and bestow upon it the services which might be
profitably employed by his mother country. By permitting, they say,
these loyal and brave Highlanders to leave the country, Britain is
throwing away some of the finest recruiting material in the world,
for--and it is quite true--the Highland soldier has not his match for
bravery, moral character, and patriotism.

These statements are no doubt true; it certainly is a pity that an
inoffensive, brave, and moral people should be compelled to leave
their native land, and devote to the cultivation of a foreign soil
those energies which might be used to the benefit of their own
country. It would also be very bad policy in government to lose the
chance of filling up the ranks of the army with some of the best men
obtainable anywhere. But then, if there was nothing for the people
to do in the country, if their condition was one of chronic famine,
as was undoubtedly the case with the Highlanders, if the whole
productions of the country were insufficient even to keep them in
bare life, if every few years the country had to contribute thousands
of pounds to keep these people alive, if, in short, the majority
of them were little else than miserable beggars, an encumbrance on
the progress of their country, a continual source of sadness to all
feeling men, gradually becoming more and more demoralised by the
increasingly wretched condition in which they lived, and by the
ever-recurring necessity of bestowing upon them charity to keep
them alive,--if such were the case, the advocates for a thinning of
the population urge, whom would it profit to keep such a rabble of
half-starved creatures huddled together in a corner of the country,
reaping for themselves nothing but misery and degradation, and
worse than useless to everybody else. Moreover, as to the military
argument, it is an almost universal statement made by the writers
of the Old Statistical Account (about 1790), that, at that time, in
almost all the Highland parishes it was scarcely possible to get a
single recruit, so great was the aversion of the people both to a
naval and military life. Besides, though the whole of the surplus
population had been willing to volunteer into the army, of what value
would it have been if the country had no use for them; and surely
it would be very questionable policy to keep thousands of men in
idleness on the bare chance that they might be required as soldiers.

The sentimental and military arguments are no doubt very touching and
very convincing to men in whom impulse and imagination predominate
over reason and clearness of vision, and are fitting subjects for a
certain kind of poetry, which has made much of them; but they cannot
for one moment stand the test of facts, and become selfishly cruel,
impracticable, and disastrous, when contrasted with the teachings of
genuine humanity and the best interests of the Highlanders. On this
subject, the writer of the Old Statistical Account of the parish
of Lochgoilhead makes some remarks so sensible, and so much to the
point, that we are tempted to quote them here. “It is frequent,” he
says, “with people who wish well to their country, to inveigh against
the practice of turning several small farms into one extensive
grazing, and dispossessing the former tenants. If the strength of
a country depends upon the number of its inhabitants, it appears a
pernicious measure to drive away the people by depriving them of
their possessions. This complaint is very just with regard to some
places in Scotland; for it must be greatly against the interest of
the nation to turn rich arable land, which is capable at the same
time of supporting a number of people, and of producing much grain,
into pasture ground. But the complaint does not seem to apply to this
country. The strength of a nation cannot surely consist in the number
of idle people which it maintains; that the inhabitants of this part
of the country were formerly sunk in indolence, and contributed
very little to the wealth, or to the support of the state, cannot
be denied. The produce of this parish, since sheep have become the
principal commodity, is at least double the intrinsic value of what
it was formerly, so that half the number of hands produce more than
double the quantity of provisions, for the support of our large
towns, and the supply of our tradesmen and manufacturers; and the
system by which land returns the most valuable produce, and in the
greatest abundance, seems to be the most beneficial for the country
at large. Still, however, if the people who are dispossessed of
this land emigrated into other nations, the present system might be
justly condemned, as diminishing the strength of the country. But
this is far from being the case; of the great number of people who
have been deprived of their farms in this parish, for thirty years
past, few or none have settled out of the kingdom; they generally
went to sea, or to the populous towns upon the Clyde. In these
places, they have an easy opportunity, which they generally embrace,
of training up their children to useful and profitable employments,
and of rendering them valuable members of society. So that the former
inhabitants of this country have been taken from a situation in
which they contributed nothing to the wealth, and very little to the
support of the state, to a situation in which their labour is of the
greatest public utility. Nor has the present system contributed to
make the condition of the inhabitants of the country worse than it
was before; on the contrary, the change is greatly in their favour.
The partiality in favour of former times, and the attachment to the
place of their nativity, which is natural to old people, together
with the indolence in which they indulged themselves in this country,
mislead them in drawing a comparison between their past and their
present situations. But indolence was almost the only comfort which
they enjoyed. There was scarcely any variety of wretchedness with
which they were not obliged to struggle, or rather to which they were
not obliged to submit. They often felt what it was to want food;
the scanty crops which they raised were consumed by their cattle in
winter and spring; for a great part of the year they lived wholly
on milk, and even that in the end of spring and beginning of winter
was very scarce. To such extremity were they frequently reduced,
that they were obliged to bleed their cattle in order to subsist for
some time upon the blood; and even the inhabitants of the glens and
valleys repaired in crowds to the shore, at the distance of three
or four miles, to pick up the scanty provision which the shell-fish
afforded them. They were miserably ill clothed, and the huts in which
they lived were dirty and mean beyond expression. How different
from their present situation? They now enjoy the necessaries, and
many of the comforts of life in abundance: even those who are
supported by the charity of the parish feel no real want. Much of the
wretchedness which formerly prevailed in this and in other parishes
in the Highlands, was owing to the indolence of the people, and to
their want of management; but a country which is neither adapted for
agriculture nor for rearing black cattle, can never maintain any
great number of people comfortably.”

No doubt the very men who deplore what they call the depopulation
of the Highlands would advocate the advisability of emigration in
the case of the unemployed surplus population of any other part
of the country. If their arguments against the emigration of the
Highlanders to another country, and in favour of their being retained
in their own district were logically carried out, to what absurd
and disastrous consequences would they lead? Supposing that all the
people who have emigrated from this country to America, Australia,
and elsewhere, had been kept at home, where would this country
have been? There would scarcely have been standing room for the
population, the great majority of whom must have been in a state of
indescribable misery. The country would have been ruined. The same
arguments might also be used against the emigration of the natives
of other countries, many of whom are no doubt as attached to their
native soil as the Highlanders; and if the principle had been rigidly
carried out, what direful consequences to the world at large would
have been the result. In fact, there would have been little else
but universal barbarism. It seems to be admitted by all thoughtful
men that the best outlet for a redundant or idle population is
emigration; it is beneficial to the mother country, beneficial to the
emigrants, and beneficial to the new country in which they take up
their abode. Only thus can the earth be subdued, and made the most of.

Why then should there be any lamentation over the Highlanders leaving
their country more than over any other class of respectable willing
men? Anything more hopelessly wretched than their position at various
times from 1745 down to the present day it would be impossible to
imagine. If one, however, trusted the descriptions of some poets
and sentimentalists, a happier or more comfortably situated people
than the Highlanders at one time were could not be found on the face
of the globe. They were always clean, and tidy, and well dressed,
lived in model cottages, surrounded by model gardens, had always
abundance of plain wholesome food and drink, were exuberant in their
hospitality, doated on their chiefs, carefully cultivated their lands
and tended their flocks, but had plenty of time to dance and sing,
and narrate round the cheerful winter hearth the legends of their
people, and above all, feared God and honoured the king. Now, these
statements have no foundation in fact, at least within the historical
period; but generally the writers on this side of the question refer
generally to the period previous to 1745, and often, in some cases,
to a time subsequent to that. Every writer who pretends to record
facts, the result of observation, and not to draw imaginary Arcadian
pictures, concurs in describing the country as being sunk in the
lowest state of wretchedness. The description we have already given
of the condition of the people before 1745, applies with intensified
force to the greater part of the Highlands for long after that year.
Instead of improving, and often there were favourable opportunities
for improvement, the people seemed to be retrograding, getting
more and more demoralised, more and more miserable, more and more
numerous, and more and more famine-struck. In proof of what we say,
we refer to all the writers on and travellers in the Highlands of
last century, to Pennant, Boswell, Johnson, Newte, Buchanan,[67]
and especially the Old Statistical Account. To let the reader judge
for himself as to the value of the statements we make as to the
condition of the Highlands during the latter part of last century,
we quote below a longish extract from a pamphlet written by one who
had visited and enquired into the state of the Highlands about the
year 1780.[68] It is written by one who deplores the extensive
emigration which was going on, but yet who, we are inclined to
believe, has slightly exaggerated the misery of the Highlanders
in order to make the sin of absentee chiefs, who engross farms,
and raise enormously the rents, as great as possible. Still, when
compared with the statements made by other contemporary authorities,
the exaggeration seems by no means great, and making allowances, the
picture presented is a mocking, weird contrast to the fancies of the
sentimentalist. That such a woful state of things required radical
and uncompromising measures of relief, no one can possibly deny. Yet
this same writer laments most pitiably that 20,000 of these wretched
people had to leave their wretched homes and famine-struck condition,
and the oppression of their lairds, for lands and houses of their own
in a fairer and more fertile land, where independence and affluence
were at the command of all who cared to bend their backs to labour.
What good purpose, divine or human, could be served by keeping
an increasing population in a land that cannot produce enough to
keep the life in one-half of its people? Nothing but misery, and
degradation, and oppression here; happiness, advancement, riches,
and freedom on the other side of the water. Is there more than one

In spite of all the emigration that has taken place from this
country, no one has, we daresay, any real dread of depopulation; the
population is increasing over all the land every year, not excepting
the Highlands. As for soldiers, no doubt plenty will be forthcoming
when wanted; if not so, it is not for want of men well enough fitted
for the occupation. As every one knows, there is seldom a want of
willing workers in this country, but far more frequently a great want
of work to do.

That by far the larger part of the surface of the Highland districts
is suited only for the pasturage of sheep, is the testimony of
every one who knows anything about the subject. Those who speak
otherwise must either ignore facts or speak of what they do not
know, urged merely by impulse and sentimentalism. True, there are
many spots consisting of excellent soil suited for arable purposes,
but generally where such do occur the climate is so unfavourable
to successful agriculture that no expenditure will ever produce an
adequate return.[69] Other patches again, not, however, of frequent
occurrence, have everything in their favour, and are as capable
of producing luxuriant crops as the most fertile district of the
lowlands. But nearly all these arable spots, say those who advocate
the laying of the whole country under sheep, it is absolutely
necessary to retain as winter pasturage, if sheep-farming is to be
carried on successfully. The mountainous districts, comprising nearly
the whole of the Highlands, are admirably suited for sheep pasturage
when the weather is mild; but in winter are so bleak and cold, and
exposed to destructive storms, that unless the sheep during winter
can be brought down to the low and sheltered grounds, the loss of a
great part of the flocks would inevitably be the consequence. Hence,
it is maintained, unless nearly the whole of the country is allowed
to lie waste, or unless a sheep farmer makes up his mind to carry
on an unprofitable business, the arable spots in the valleys and
elsewhere must, as a rule, be retained as pasture. And this seems
to be the case in most districts. It must not be imagined, however,
that the surface of the Highlands is one universal expanse of green
and brown fragrant heather; every tourist knows that in almost
every glen, by the side of many lochs, streams, and bogs, patches
of cultivated land are to be met with, bearing good crops of oats,
barley, potatoes, and turnips. These productions chiefly belong to
the large sheep farmers, and are intended for the use of themselves,
their servants, and cattle, and but seldom have they any to dispose
of. Others of these arable spots belong to small farmers, the race
of whom is happily not yet extinct. But, on the whole, it would seem
that so far as agricultural products are concerned, the Highlands
seldom, if ever, produce sufficient to supply the wants of the
inhabitants, importation being thus necessary.

A curious and interesting point connected with the introduction
of sheep into the Highlands may be mentioned here:--By means of
this innovation, the whole aspect of the country seems to have
been changed. Previous to that, the whole country seems to have
borne a universal aspect of blackness, rarely relieved by a spot of
green, arising from the fact that almost the only product of the
mountains was dark-brown heath. Captain Burt and others who visited
the Highlands previous to the extensive introduction of sheep,
indulge in none of the raptures over Highland scenery, that the most
common-place and prosy tourist thinks it his duty to get into at
the present day. They speak of the country almost with horror, as a
black howling wilderness, full of bogs and big boulders, and almost
unfit for human habitation. They could see no beauty in the country
that it should be desired; it was a place to get out of as soon as
possible. How far these sentiments may have been justified by facts
it is impossible now to say; but it is the almost universal assertion
by the writers in the _Old Statistical Account_, that the appearance
of the Highland hills was rapidly changing, and that instead of the
universal dark-brown heath which previously covered them, there was
springing up the light-brown heath and short green bent or strong
grass so well known to all modern tourists. If the Highland hills
formerly bore anything like the aspect presented at the present day
by the dreary black wet hills of Shetland, the remarks of Burt and
others need not cause astonishment. But as the great outlines and
peculiar features of the country must have been the same then as now,
we suspect that these early English adventurers into the Highlands
wanted training in scenery or were determined to see nothing to
admire. But, indeed, admiration of and hunting for fine scenery seem
to be quite a modern fashion, and were quite unknown to our ancestors
in the beginning of last century, or were confined to a few crazy
poets. Men require to be trained to use their eyes in this as in
many other respects. There can be no doubt that the first impulse
to the admiration of the Highlands and Highlanders was given by the
poems and novels of Sir Walter Scott; it was he who set the sheepish
stream of tourists agoing, and indirectly to him many a Highland
hotel-keeper owes a handsome fortune. The fact at all events seems
unquestionable, that the extensive introduction of sheep has to a
large extent changed the external aspect of the Highlands.

It must not be imagined that, previous to the changes we are speaking
of, there were no sheep in the Highlands; there were always a few
of a very small native breed, but the staple stock of the Highland
farmer was, as we previously mentioned, black cattle. The sheep,
however, have also to a very large extent superseded them, a fact
which is deplored by those who lament the many innovations which
have been introduced since 1745. But by all accounts much of the
country is unsuited to the pasturage of black cattle, and as cattle
and sheep do not thrive well together, the only alternative seems to
be the introduction of sheep alone into those districts unsuited for
cattle. “More than one-third of the country consists of mountains and
declivities too steep and abrupt for black cattle, and the grass they
produce too short and fine to afford them a tolerable pasture except
in the height of summer. The greater part of the pasture is therefore
lost, though it might all be beneficially consumed with sheep. A
flock of sheep will thrive where cows and oxen would starve, and will
go at all seasons of the year to such heights as are inaccessible to
black cattle.... In a situation of this kind the very wool of a flock
would amount to more than the whole profit to be obtained by black
cattle.”[70] The only conclusion to be drawn from these statements
is, that the wisest thing that could be done was to introduce sheep
into those districts which were being wasted on black cattle.

Along with the introduction of sheep, indeed, to a great extent
caused by that, was the enlargement of farms, which with the raising
of rents led to the depopulation of many districts. The old system
of letting farms in the Highlands has already been sufficiently
explained, and the introduction of sheep seems to have rendered it
necessary that this old system should be abolished, and that a large
extent of country should be taken by one man. The question between
large and small farms does not appear to us to be the same as between
the old and new system of letting land. Under the old system, a farm
of no great extent was often let to a large number of tenants, who
frequently subdivided it still more, by either sub-letting part,
or by sharing their respective portions with their newly-married
sons and daughters. The testimony as to the perniciousness of this
old system is universal; it was, and until recently continued to
be, the chief source of all the misfortunes that have afflicted the
Highlands. As to whether, however, this old system should have been
entirely abolished, or whether some modification of it might not have
been retained, has been a matter of dispute. Some maintain that the
Highlands can be profitably managed only on the large farm system,
and only thus can sheep be made to pay, while others assert that,
though many districts are suitable for large farms, still there are
others that might with great profit be divided into small holdings.
By this latter method, it is said, a fair proportion of all classes
would be maintained in the Highlands, noblemen, gentlemen, farmers
large and small, cottars, labourers, and that only when there is
such a mixture can a country be said to be prosperous. Moreover, it
is held a proprietor, who in this country should be considered as a
steward rather than the absolute owner of his estate, has no right to
exclude the small farmer from having a chance of making a respectable
living by the occupation for which he is suited; that he stands in
the way of his own and his country’s interests when he discourages
the small farmer, for only by a mixture of the two systems can the
land be made the most of; and that, to say the least of it, it is
selfish and wrong in proprietors not to consider the case of the poor
as well as the rich.

On the question as to the expediency of large or small farms we
cannot pretend to be able to judge; we know too little of its real
merits. However, it appears to us that there is no reason why both
systems cannot be very well combined in many parts of the Highlands,
although there are many districts, we believe, totally unsuited for
anything else but sheep-farms of the largest dimensions. Were the
small farms made large enough to sufficiently support the farmer
and his family, and remunerate him for his outlay and labour, were
precautions taken against the subdivision of these moderate-sized
holdings, and were leases of sufficient duration granted to all, it
seems to us that there is nothing in the nature of things why there
should not be farms of a small size in the Highlands as well as farms
covering many miles in extent. We certainly do think it too bad to
cut out the small respectable class of farmers entirely, and put the
land of the country in the hands of a sort of farmer aristocracy; it
is unfair and prejudicial to the best interests of the country. But
the small farmers must first show that they deserve to be considered;
certainly the small farmers under the old Highland system, which we
believe is not yet quite extinct in some remote districts, deserved
only to have the land they so mismanaged taken from them and given
to others who could make a better use of it. Some consideration, we
think, ought to be had towards the natives of the country, those
whose ancestors have occupied the land for centuries, and if they are
able to pay as good a rent as others, and show themselves willing
to manage the land as well, in all humanity they ought to have the
preference. But these are matters which we think ought to be left to
adjust themselves according to the inevitable laws which regulate
all human affairs. Interference in any way between landlord and
tenant by way of denunciation, vituperation, or legislation, seems
to us only to make matters worse. It seems to us that the simplest
commercial maxims--the laws of profit and loss, if they have fair
play--will ultimately lead to the best system of managing the land
of the Highlands and of every other district, both in the interests
of the proprietors and those of the tenants. If proprietors find
it most profitable to let their lands in large lots, either for
agriculture, for cattle, for sheep, or for deer, there is no reason
why they should not do so, and there is no doubt that in the end what
is most advantageous to the proprietor is so to the tenant, and _vice
versa_, as also to the country at large. If, on the other hand, it
be found that letting land in small lots is more profitable than the
other practice, few proprietors, we daresay, would hesitate to cut up
their land into suitable lots. But all this, we think, must be left
to experiment, and it cannot be said that the Highlands as a whole
have as yet got beyond the stage of probation; changes from small to
large and from large to small farms--mostly the former--and changes
from sheep to deer and deer to sheep are still going on; but, no
doubt, ere long both proprietors and tenants of land will find out
what their real common interest is, and adjust themselves in their
proper relations to each other. It is best to leave them alone and
allow them to fight the battle out between themselves. Interference
was attempted at the end of last century to stop emigration and to
settle the ousted tenants on small lots by the sea-shore, where both
fishing and farming could be carried on, but the interference did no
good. Emigration was not diminished, although curiously it was the
proprietors themselves, who subsequently did their best to promote
emigration, that at this time attempted to stop it. The people seem
generally until lately to have been quite willing and even anxious to
emigrate at least those of most intelligence; not that they cared not
for their country, but that, however much they loved it, there was no
good in staying at home when nothing but misery and starvation stared
them in the face. We say that the landlords and others, including
the Highland Society, interfered, and endeavoured to get government
to interfere, to prevent the great emigrations which were going
on, and which they feared would ere long leave the country utterly
peopleless. But the interference was of no use, and was quite
uncalled for. Emigration still went on, and will go on so long as
there is a necessity for it; and the country will always have plenty
of inhabitants so long as it can afford a decent subsistence. When
men know better the laws of sociology--the laws which govern human
affairs--interference of this kind will be simply laughed at.

The scheme of the landlords--who, while they raised the rents and
extended their farms, were still loath to lose their numerous tenants
and retainers--of settling those on the coast where they could
combine farming and fishing, failed also, for the simple reason that,
as it has been fairly proved, one man cannot unite successfully the
two occupations in his own person. In this sense “no man can serve
two masters.” “No two occupations can be more incompatible than
farming and fishing, as the seasons which require undivided exertion
in fishing are precisely those in which the greatest attention should
be devoted to agriculture. Grazing, which is less incompatible with
fishing than agriculture, is even found to distract the attention and
prevent success in either occupation. This is demonstrated by the
very different success of those who unite both occupations from those
who devote themselves exclusively to fishing. Indeed, the industrious
fisher finds the whole season barely sufficient for the labours of
his proper occupation.”[71] It seems clear, then, that the Highland
proprietors should be left alone and allowed to dispose of their
land as they think fit, just as the owner of any other commercial
commodity takes it to whatever market he chooses, and no harm accrues
from it. If the Highland peasantry and farmers see it to be to their
advantage to leave their native land and settle in a far-off soil
where they will have some good return for hard work, we do not see
that there is any call for interference or lamentation. Give all help
and counsel to those who require and deserve them by all means either
to stay at home or go abroad; but to those who are able to think and
free to act for themselves nothing is necessary but to be left alone.

As we have already said, another cause of emigration besides
sheep-farming, though to some extent associated with it, was the
raising of rents. Naturally enough, when the number of tenants upon
a laird’s estate ceased to make him of importance and give him
power, he sought by raising his rents to give himself the importance
derived from a large income. There can be no doubt that, previous
to this, farms were let far below their real value, and often at a
merely nominal rent; and thus one of the greatest incitements to
industry was wanting in the case of the Highland tenants, for when
a man knows that his landlord will not trouble him about his rent,
but would rather let him go scot-free than lose him, it is too much
to expect of human nature in general that it will bestir itself to
do what it feels there is no absolute necessity for. Thus habits
of idleness were engendered in the Highlanders, and the land, for
want of industrious cultivation, was allowed to run comparatively
waste. That the thinning of the population gave those who remained
a better chance of improving their condition, is testified to
by many writers in the _Old Statistical Account_, and by other
contemporary authorities, including even Dr Walker, who was no friend
to emigration. He says,[72] “these measures in the management of
property, and this emigration, were by no means unfriendly to the
population of the country. The sub-tenants, who form the bulk of
the people, were not only retained but raised in their situation,
and rendered more useful and independent.” It is amusing now to
read Dr Walker’s remarks on the consequences of emigration from the
Highlands; had his fears been substantiated,--and had they been well
grounded, they ought to have been by this time, for sheep-farming,
rent-raising, depopulation, and emigration have been going on
rapidly ever since his time--the Highlands must now have been “a
waste howling wilderness.” “If the [Highlanders],” he says,[73] “are
expelled, the Highlands never can be reclaimed or improved by any
other set of men, but must remain a mere grazing-field for England
and the South of Scotland. By this alteration, indeed, the present
rents may, no doubt, be augmented, but they must become immediately
stationary, without any prospect of further advancement, and will
in time from obvious causes be liable to great diminution. All
improvement of the country must cease when the people to improve it
are gone. The soil must remain unsubdued for ever, and the progress
of the Highlands must be finally stopt, while all the cultivated
wastes of the kingdom are advancing in population and wealth.” How
these predictions have been belied by facts, all who know anything
of the progress of the Highlands during the present century must
perceive. All these changes and even grievances have taken place,
and yet the Highlands are far enough from anything approximating to
depopulation or unproductiveness, and rents, we believe, have not yet
ceased to rise.

Notwithstanding the large emigration which has been going on, the
population of the Highlands at the census of 1861 was at least 70,000
greater than it was in the time of Dr Walker.[74] The emigration,
especially from the west, does not seem to have been large enough,
for periodically, up even to the present day, a rueful call for help
to save from famine comes from that quarter. “This very year (1863)
the cry of destitution in Skye has been loud as ever, and yet from
no part of the Highlands has there been a more extensive emigration.
From the very earliest period in the history of emigration down to
this date, Skye has been largely drawn upon, and yet the body of the
people in Skye were never more wretched than at this moment.”[75]
Dr Walker himself states that, in spite of an emigration of about
6000 between the years 1771 and 1794 from the Hebrides and Western
Highlands, the population had increased by about 40,000 during
the forty years subsequent to 1750.[76] Yet though he knew of the
wretched condition of the country from an over-crowded population,
practical man as he was, he gives way to the vague and unjustifiable
fears expressed above. It is no doubt sad to see the people of a
country, and these possessing many high qualities, compelled to leave
it in order to get room to breathe; but to tirade against emigration
as Dr Walker and others do in the face of such woful facts as are
known concerning the condition of the Highlands is mere selfish and
wicked sentimentalism.

Another fact, stated by the same author, and which might have taught
him better doctrines in connection with some of the border parishes,
is worth introducing here. The population of seventeen parishes in
Dumbartonshire, Perthshire, and Argyllshire, bordering on the low
country, decreased in population between 1755 and 1795, from 30,525
to 26,748, _i.e._, by 3,787; these parishes having been during that
time to a great extent laid out in cattle and sheep. Now, according
to the _Old Statistical Account_ (about 1795), these very parishes
were on the whole among the most prosperous in the Highlands, those
in which improvements were taking place most rapidly, and in which
the condition of the people was growing more and more comfortable.
It appears to us clear that the population of the Highlands did
require a very considerable thinning; that depopulation to a certain
extent was, and in some places still is, a necessary condition to

The main question is, we think, how to get these districts which are
in a state of wretchedness and retrogression from over-population
rid of the surplus. Unless some sudden check be put upon the rate of
increase of the general population, there never will be a lack of
hands to bring in the waste places when wanted, and to supply all
other demands for men. No doubt, it is a pity, if it be the case,
that any extensive districts which could be brought to a high style
of cultivation, and would then be better employed than in pasture
should be allowed to lie waste, when there is every necessity for the
land being made to yield as much as possible. And if the Highlanders
are willing, it certainly does seem to be better to keep them at home
and employ them for such purposes rather than let them go abroad
and give their services to strangers. We should fancy the larger
a population there is in a country where there is room enough for
them, and which can give them enough to eat and drink, the better
for that country. All we maintain is, that it being proved that the
population in many parts of the Highlands having been redundant, so
much so as to lead to misery and degradation, it was far better that
the surplus should emigrate than that they should be kept at home
to increase the misery and be an obstruction to the progress of the
country. Keep them at home if possible; if not, permit them without
any weak sentimental lamentation to go abroad. It has been said that
if the Highlander is compelled to leave his native glen, he would
as soon remove to a distance of 4000 as to a distance of 40 miles;
and that indeed many of them, since they must move, prefer to leave
the country altogether rather than settle in any part of it out of
sight of their native hills. There is no doubt much truth in this, so
that the outcry about keeping the Highlanders at home is to a great
extent uncalled for; they don’t wish to stay at home. Still many of
them have been willing to settle in the lowlands or in other parts
of the Highlands. We have already referred to the great services
rendered by the ousted tenants on the borders of the Perthshire and
Dumbartonshire Highlands who settled in the neighbourhood of Stirling
and reclaimed many thousand acres of Kincardine moss, now a fertile
strath. Similar services have been rendered to other barren parts of
the country by many Highlanders, who formerly spent their time in
lolling idleness, but who, when thus given the opportunity, showed
themselves to be as capable of active and profitable exertion as
any lowland peasant or farmer. Many Highlanders also, when deprived
of their farms, removed to some of our large towns, and by their
exertions raised themselves and their families to an honourable
and comfortable position, such as they could never have hoped to
reach had they never left their native hills. By all means keep the
Highlanders at home if they are willing to stay and there is work for
them to do; but what purpose can be served in urging them to stay at
home if the consequence be to increase the already enormous sort of

That the landlords, the representatives of the old chiefs, were
not accountable for much of the evil that flowed from the changes
of which we have been speaking, no one who knows the history of
the Highlands during the last century will venture to assert. Had
they all uniformly acted towards their old tenants with humanity,
judiciousness, and unselfishness, much misery, misunderstanding,
and bitter ill-will might have been avoided. It is, we venture
to believe, quite against the spirit of the British constitution
as it now exists, and quite out of accordance with enlightened
reason and justice, not to say humanity, that these or any other
landed proprietors should be allowed to dispose of their land as
they choose without any consideration for the people whose fathers
have been on it for centuries, or without regard to the interests
of the country to which the land belongs. Many of the Highland
proprietors, in their haste to get rich, or at least to get money
to spend in the fashionable world, either mercilessly, and without
warning, cleared their estates of the tenants, or most unseasonably
oppressed them in the matter of rent. The great fault of many of
the landlords--for they were not all alike--was in bringing about
too suddenly changes, in themselves, perhaps, desirable enough.
Rents seem to have been too suddenly raised to such a rate as tended
to inspire the tenant with despair of being able to meet it. Some
also, in their desire to introduce the large farm system, swept the
tenants off the ground without warning, and left them to provide
for themselves; while others made a show of providing for them by
settling them in hamlets by the sea-side, where, in general, they
were worse off than ever. It was in their utter want of consideration
for these old tenants that many of the Highland landlords were to
blame. Had they raised the rents gradually, extended the size of
their farms slowly, giving the old tenants a chance under the new
system, and doing their best to put these necessarily ejected in a
way of making a living for themselves, tried to educate their people
up to the age in the matter of agriculture, social habits, and
other matters; lived among them, and shown them a good example;--in
short, as proprietors, rigidly done their duty to their tenants, as
descendants of the old chiefs treated with some tender consideration
the sons of those who worshipped and bled for the fathers of their
clan, and as men, shown some charity and kindness to their poorer
brethren, the improvement of the Highlands might have been brought
about at a much less expense of misery and rancour. That these old
Highlanders were open to improvement, enlightenment, and education,
when judiciously managed, is proved by what took place in some of the
border and other districts, where many improvements were effected
without great personal inconvenience to any one, and without any
great or sudden diminution of the population. Especially in the
Western and Northern Highlands and the Islands, the landlords went
to extremes in both directions. Some of them acted as we have just
indicated, while others again, moved by a laudable consideration
for, and tenderness towards the old tenants, retained the old system
of small holdings, which they allowed to be now and then still more
subdivided, endeavouring, often unsuccessfully, to obtain a rise of
rent. In most cases the latter course was as fatal and as productive
of misery and ruin as the former. Indeed, in some cases it was more
so; for not only was the lot of the tenant not improved, but the
laird had ultimately to sell his estate for behoof of his creditors,
and himself emigrate to the lowlands or to a foreign country. This
arose from the fact that, as the number of tenants increased, the
farms were diminished in size more and more, until they could neither
support the tenant nor yield the landlord a rent adequate to his
support. In this way have many of the old hospitable chiefs with
small estates dropped out of sight; and their places filled by some
rich lowland merchants, who would show little tenderness to the
helpless tenantry.

But it is an easy matter now to look calmly back on these commotions
and changes among the Highlanders, and allot praise or blame to
chiefs and people for the parts they played, forgetting all the time
how difficult these parts were. Something decisive had to be done
to prevent the Highlands from sinking into inconceivable misery and
barbarism; and had the lairds sat still and done nothing but allowed
their estates to be managed on the old footing, ruin to themselves
and their tenants would have been the consequence, as indeed was
the case with most of those who did so. It was very natural, then,
that they should deem it better to save themselves at the expense of
their tenants, than that both land and tenants should be involved in
a common ruin. They were not the persons to find out the best mode
of managing their estates, so that they themselves might be saved,
and the welfare of their tenants only considered. In some cases, no
doubt, the lairds were animated by utter indifference as to the fate
of their tenants; but we are inclined to think these were few, and
that most of them would willingly have done much for the welfare of
their people, and many of them did what they could; but their first
and most natural instinct was that of self-preservation, and in
order to save themselves, they were frequently compelled to resort
to measures which brought considerable suffering upon their poor
tenants. We have no doubt most did their best, according to their
knowledge and light, to act well their parts, and deal fairly with
their people; but the parts were so difficult, and the actors were
so unaccustomed to their new situation, that they are not to be too
severely blamed if they sometimes blundered. No matter how gently
changes might have been brought about, suffering and bitterness would
necessarily to a certain extent have followed; and however much we
may deplore the great amount of unnecessary suffering that actually
occurred, still we think the lasting benefits which have accrued
to the Highlands from the changes which were made, far more than
counterbalance this temporary evil.

What we have been saying, while it applies to many recent changes in
the Highlands, refers chiefly to the period between 1750 and 1800,
during which the Highlands were in a state of universal fermentation,
and chiefs and people were only beginning to realise their position
and perceive what were their true interests. We shall very briefly
notice one or two other matters of interest connected with that

The only manufacture of any consequence that has ever been introduced
into the Highlands is that of kelp, which is the ashes of various
kinds of sea-weed containing some of the salts, potash, and chiefly
soda, used in some of the manufactures, as soap, alum, glass, &c. It
is used as a substitute for barilla, imported from Spain, America,
and other places, during the latter part of last century, on account
of the American and continental wars, as well as of the high duties
imposed on the importation of salt and similar commodities. The weeds
are cut from the rocks with a hook or collected on the shore, and
dried to a certain degree on the beach. They are afterwards burnt
in a kiln, in which they are constantly stirred with an iron rake
until they reach a fluid state; and when they cool, the ashes become
condensed into a dark blue or whitish-coloured mass, nearly of the
hardness and solidity of rock. The manufacture is carried on during
June, July, and August; and even at the present day, in some parts
of the Islands and Highlands, affords occupation to considerable
numbers of both sexes.[77] This manufacture seems to have been
introduced into some of the lowland parts of the Scottish coast early
in the eighteenth century, but was not thoroughly established in
the Highlands till about the year 1750. At first it was of little
importance, but gradually the manufacture spread until it became
universal over all the western islands and coasts, and the value
of the article, from the causes above-mentioned, rose rapidly from
about £1 per ton, when first introduced, to from £12 to £20 per
ton[78] about the beginning of the present century. While the great
value of the article lasted, rents rose enormously, and the income
of proprietors of kelp-shore rose in proportion. As an example, it
may be stated that the rent of the estate of Clanranald in South
Uist previous to 1790 was £2200, which, as kelp increased in value,
rapidly rose to £15,000.[79] While the kelp season lasted, the whole
time of the people was occupied in its manufacture, and the wages
they received, while it added somewhat to their scanty income, and
increased their comfort, were small in proportion to the time and
labour they gave, and to the prices received by those to whom the
kelp belonged. Moreover, while the kelp-fever lasted, the cultivation
of the ground and other agricultural matters seem to have been to a
great extent neglected, extravagant habits were contracted by the
proprietors, whose incomes were thus so considerably increased,--and
the permanent improvement of their estates were neglected in their
eagerness to make the most of an article whose value, they did not
perceive, was entirely factitious, and could not be lasting. Instead
of either laying past their surplus income or expending it on the
permanent improvement of their estates, they very foolishly lived
up to it, or borrowed heavily in the belief that kelp would never
decrease in value. The consequence was that when the duties were
taken off the articles for which kelp was used as a substitute in the
earlier part of the 19th century, the price of that article gradually
diminished till it could fetch, about 1830-40, only from £2 to £4 a
ton. With this the incomes of the proprietors of kelp-shores also
rapidly decreased, landing not a few of them in ruin and bankruptcy,
and leading in some instances to the sale of the estates. The income
above mentioned, after the value of kelp decreased, fell rapidly from
£15,000 to £5000. The manufacture of this article is still carried
on in the West Highlands and Islands, and to a greater extent in
Orkney, but although it occupies a considerable number of hands, it
is now of comparatively little importance, much more of the sea-weed
being employed as manure. While it was at its best, however, the
manufacture of this article undoubtedly increased to a very large
extent the revenue of the West Highlands, and gave employment to and
kept at home a considerable number of people who otherwise might
have emigrated. Indeed, it was partly on account of the need of many
hands for kelp-making that proprietors did all they could to prevent
the emigration of those removed from the smaller farms, and tried to
induce them to settle on the coast. On the whole, it would seem that
this sudden source of large income ultimately did more harm than good
to the people and to the land. While this manufacture flourished,
the land was to a certain extent neglected, and the people somewhat
unfitted for agricultural labour; instead of looking upon this as a
temporary source of income, and living accordingly, both they and
the proprietors lived as if it should never fail, so that when the
value of kelp rapidly decreased, ruin and absolute poverty stared
both proprietors and people in the face. Moreover, by preventing the
small tenants from leaving the country, and accumulating them on the
coasts, the country became enormously over-peopled, so that when the
importance of this source of employment waned, multitudes were left
with little or no means of livelihood, and the temporary benefits
which accrued to the Highlanders from the adventitious value of kelp,
indirectly entailed upon them ultimately hardships and misfortunes
greater than ever they experienced before, and retarded considerably
their progress towards permanent improvement.

By all accounts the potato, introduced from Chili into Spain about
the middle of the sixteenth century, was first introduced into
Ireland by or through the instrumentality of Sir Walter Raleigh
about the end of that century. From Ireland it seems shortly after
to have been introduced into England, although its cultivation did
not become anything like common till more than a century afterwards,
and its use seems to have been restricted to the upper classes.[80]
Its value as a staple article of food for the poorer classes remained
for long unappreciated. According to the Old Statistical Account of
Scotland, potatoes were first cultivated in the fields there in the
county of Stirling, in the year 1739, although for long after that,
in many parts of the country, they were planted only as a garden
vegetable. According to Dr Walker, potatoes were first introduced
into the Hebrides from Ireland in the year 1743, the island of
South Uist being the first to welcome the strange root, although
the welcome from the inhabitants seems to have been anything but
hearty. The story of its introduction, as told by Dr Walker,[81] is
amusing, though somewhat ominous when read in the light of subsequent
melancholy facts. “In the spring of that year, old Clanronald was in
Ireland, upon a visit to his relation, Macdonnel of Antrim; he saw
with surprise and approbation the practice of the country, and having
a vessel of his own along with him, brought home a large cargo of
potatoes. On his arrival, the tenants in the island were convened,
and directed how to plant them, but they all refused. On this they
were all committed to prison. After a little confinement, they
agreed, at last, to plant these unknown roots, of which they had a
very unfavourable opinion. When they were raised in autumn, they were
laid down at the chieftain’s gate, by some of the tenants, who said,
the Laird indeed might order them to plant these foolish roots, but
they would not be forced to eat them. In a very little time, however,
the inhabitants of South Uist came to know better, when every man of
them would have gone to prison rather than not plant potatoes.”

By the year 1760 potatoes appear to have become a common crop
all over the country; and by 1770 they seem to have attained to
that importance as a staple article of food for the common people
which they have ever since maintained.[82] The importance of the
introduction of this valuable article of food, in respect both of the
weal and the woe of the Highlands, cannot be over-estimated. As an
addition to the former scanty means of existence it was invaluable;
had it been used only as an addition the Highlanders might have been
spared much suffering. Instead of this, however, it ere long came to
be regarded as so all-important, to be cultivated to such a large
extent, and to the exclusion of other valuable productions, and to
be depended upon by the great majority of the Highlanders as almost
their sole food, that one failure in the crop by disease or otherwise
must inevitably have entailed famine and misery. For so large a share
of their food did the common Highlanders look to potatoes, that,
according to the _Old Statistical Account_, in many places they fed
on little else for nine months in the year.

The first remarkable scarcity subsequent to 1745 appears to have been
in the year 1770,[83] arising apparently from the unusual severity
of the weather, causing the destruction of most of the crops, and
many of the cattle. That, however, of 1782-83 seems to have been
still more terrible, and universal over all the Highlands, according
to the _Old Statistical Account_. It was only the interference of
government and the charity of private individuals that prevented
multitudes from dying of starvation. Neither of these famines,
however, seem to have been caused by any failure in the potato crop
from disease, but simply by the inclemency of seasons. But when to
this latter danger there came subsequently to be added the liability
of the staple article of food to fail from disease, the chances of
frequently recurring famines came to be enormously increased. About
1838 potatoes constituted four-fifths of the food of the common
Highlanders.[84] However, we are anticipating. It is sufficient to
note here as a matter of great importance in connection with the
later social history of the Highlands, the universal cultivation of
the potato sometime after the middle of the eighteenth century. Even
during the latter part of last century, potato-disease was by no
means unknown, though it appears to have been neither so destructive
nor so wide-spread as some of the forms of disease developed at a
later period. New forms of disease attacked the root during the early
part of the present century, working at times considerable havoc,
but never apparently inducing anything approaching a famine. But
about 1840, the potato disease _par excellence_ seems to have made
its first appearance, and after visiting various parts of the world,
including the Highlands, it broke out generally in 1845, and in 1846
entailed upon the Highlands indescribable suffering and hardship.
Of this, however, more shortly. One effect attributed frequently in
the _Old Statistical Account_ to the introduction and immoderate use
of the potato is the appearance of diseases before unknown or very
rare. One of the principal of these was dropsy, which, whether owing
to the potato or not, became certainly more prevalent after it came
into common use, if we may trust the testimony of the writers of the
_Statistical Account_.

In looking back, then, by the aid of the authority just mentioned,
along with others, on the progress made by the Highlands during
the latter half of the eighteenth century, while there is much to
sadden, still there is much that is cheering. The people generally
appear in a state of ferment and discontent with themselves, and
doing their best blindly to grope their way to a better position.
While still there remain many traces of the old thraldom, there
are many indications that freedom and a desire after true progress
were slowly spreading among the people. Many of the old grievous
services were still retained; still were there many districts thirled
to particular mills; still were leases rare and tenures uncertain,
and rents frequently paid in kind; in many districts the houses were
still unsightly and uncomfortable huts, the clothing scanty, and the
food wretched and insufficient. In most Highland districts, we fear,
the old Scotch plough, with its four or five men, and its six or ten
cattle, was still the principal instrument of tillage; drainage was
all but unknown; the land was overstocked in many places with people
and cattle; the ground was scourged with incessant cropping, and much
of the produce wasted in the gathering and in the preparing it for
food. Education in many places was entirely neglected, schools few
and far between, and teachers paid worse than ploughmen! The picture
has certainly a black enough background, but it is not unrelieved by
a few bright and hopeful streaks.

On many parts of the border-Highlands improvements had been
introduced which placed them in every respect on a level with the
lowlands. Many of the old services had been abolished, leases
introduced, the old and inefficient agricultural instrument
replaced by others made on the most approved system. Houses, food,
and clothing were all improved; indeed, in the case of the last
article, there is frequent complaint made that too much attention
and money were expended on mere ornamentation. The old method of
constant cropping had in not a few districts been abolished, and
a proper system of rotation established; more attention was paid
to proper manuring and ingathering, and instead of restricting
the crops, as of old, to oats and barley, many other new cereals,
and a variety of green crops and grasses had been introduced. Not
only in the districts bordering on the Lowlands, but in many other
parts of the Highlands, the breed of sheep, and cattle, and horses
had been improved, and a much more profitable system of management
introduced. By means of merciful emigration, the by far too redundant
population of the Highlands had been considerably reduced, the
position of those who left the country vastly improved, and more
room and more means of living afforded to those who remained. A
more rational system of dividing the land prevailed in many places,
and sheep-farming--for which alone, according to all unprejudiced
testimony, the greater part of the surface of the Highlands is
fitted--had been extensively introduced. The want of education was
beginning to be felt, and in many districts means were being taken
to spread its advantages, while the moral and religious character
of the people, as a whole, stood considerably above the average
of most other districts of Scotland. In short, the Highlanders,
left to themselves, were advancing gradually towards that stage
of improvement which the rest of the country had reached, and the
natural laws which govern society had only not to be thwarted and
impertinently interfered with, to enable the Highlanders ere long
to be as far forward as the rest of their countrymen. From the
beginning of this century down to the present time they have had
much to struggle with, many trials to undergo, and much unnecessary
interference to put up with, but their progress has been sure and
steady, and even comparatively rapid. We must glance very briefly at
the state of the Highlands during the present century; great detail
is uncalled for, as much that has been said concerning the previous
period applies with equal force to the present.


[56] Pennant’s _Tour_, vol. ii. p. 305.

[57] _A View of the Highlands, &c._

[58] _Travels in the Western Islands._

[59] _Tour in England and Scotland_ (1785).

[60] Newte.

[61] Newte’s _Travels_, p. 127.

[62] Newte’s _Travels_, p. 127.

[63] Burt’s _Letters_, Appendix.

[64] _Tour_, ii. 306.

[65] See Walker’s _Hebrides_, vol. i. pp. 24, 28.

[66] Walker, vol. i. p. 31.

[67] _Western Isles._

[68] “Upon the whole, the situation of these people, inhabitants of
Britain! is such as no language can describe, nor fancy conceive. If,
with great labour and fatigue, the farmer raises a slender crop of
oats and barley, the autumnal rains often baffle his utmost efforts,
and frustrate all his expectations; and instead of being able to pay
an exorbitant rent, he sees his family in danger of perishing during
the ensuing winter, when he is precluded from any possibility of
assistance elsewhere.

“Nor are his cattle in a better situation; in summer they pick up
a scanty support amongst the morasses or heathy mountains; but in
winter, when the grounds are covered with snow, and when the naked
wilds afford neither shelter nor subsistence, the few cows, small,
lean, and ready to drop down through want of pasture, are brought
into the hut where the family resides, and frequently share with them
the small stock of meal which had been purchased, or raised, for the
family only; while the cattle thus sustained, are bled occasionally,
to afford nourishment for the children after it hath been boiled or
made into cakes.

“The sheep being left upon the open heaths, seek to shelter
themselves from the inclemency of the weather amongst the hollows
upon the lee-side of the mountains, and here they are frequently
buried under the snow for several weeks together, and in severe
seasons during two months or upwards. They eat their own and each
other’s wool, and hold out wonderfully under cold and hunger; but
even in moderate winters, a considerable number are generally found
dead after the snow hath disappeared, and in rigorous seasons few or
none are left alive.

“Meanwhile the steward, hard pressed by letters from Almack’s or
Newmarket, demands the rent in a tone which makes no great allowance
for unpropitious seasons, the death of cattle, and other accidental
misfortunes; disguising the feelings of his own breast--his Honour’s
wants must at any rate be supplied, the bills must be duly negotiated.

“Such is the state of farming, if it may be so called, throughout
the interior parts of the Highlands; but as that country hath an
extensive coast, and many islands, it may be supposed that the
inhabitants of those shores enjoy all the benefits of their maritime
situation. This, however, is not the case; those gifts of nature,
which in any other commercial kingdom would have been rendered
subservient to the most valuable purposes, are in Scotland lost, or
nearly so, to the poor natives and the public. The only difference,
therefore, between the inhabitants of the interior parts and those of
the more distant coasts, consists in this, that the latter, with the
labours of the field, have to encounter alternately the dangers of
the ocean and all the fatigues of navigation.

“To the distressing circumstances at home, as stated above, new
difficulties and toils await the devoted farmer when abroad. He
leaves his family in October, accompanied by his sons, brothers,
and frequently an aged parent, and embarks on board a small open
boat, in quest of the herring fishery, with no other provision than
oatmeal, potatoes, and fresh water; no other bedding than heath,
twigs, or straw, the covering, if any, an old sail. Thus provided,
he searches from bay to bay, through turbulent seas, frequently for
several weeks together, before the shoals of herrings are discovered.
The glad tidings serve to vary, but not to diminish his fatigues.
Unremitting nightly labour (the time when the herrings are taken),
pinching cold winds, heavy seas, uninhabited shores covered with
snow, or deluged with rains, contribute towards filling up the
measure of his distresses; while to men of such exquisite feelings as
the Highlanders generally possess, the scene which awaits him at home
does it most effectually.

“Having disposed of his capture to the Busses, he returns in January
through a long navigation, frequently admidst unceasing hurricanes,
not to a comfortable home and a cheerful family, but to a hut
composed of turf, without windows, doors, or chimney, environed with
snow, and almost hid from the eye by its astonishing depth. Upon
entering this solitary mansion, he generally finds a part of his
family, sometimes the whole, lying upon heath or straw, languishing
through want or epidemical disease; while the few surviving cows,
which possess the other end of the cottage, instead of furnishing
further supplies of milk or blood, demand his immediate attention to
keep them in existence.

“The season now approaches when he is again to delve and labour the
ground, on the same slender prospect of a plentiful crop or a dry
harvest. The cattle which have survived the famine of the winter, are
turned out to the mountains; and, having put his domestic affairs
into the best situation which a train of accumulated misfortunes
admits of, he resumes the oar, either in quest of the herring or the
white fishery. If successful in the latter, he sets out in his open
boat upon a voyage (taking the Hebrides and the opposite coast at a
medium distance) of 200 miles, to vend his cargo of dried cod, ling,
&c., at Greenock or Glasgow. The produce, which seldom exceeds twelve
or fifteen pounds, is laid out, in conjunction with his companions,
upon meal and fishing tackle; and he returns through the same tedious

“The autumn calls his attention again to the field; the usual round
of disappointment, fatigue, and distress awaits him; thus dragging
through a wretched existence in the hope of soon arriving in that
country where the weary shall be at rest.”--_A View of the Highlands,
&c._, pp. 3-7.

[69] See Old and New _Statistical Accounts_, _passim_.

[70] Walker’s _Hebrides and Highlands_.

[71] Essay on _The Fisheries of Scotland_, in _Highland Society Prize
Essays_, vol. ii.

[72] _Hebrides and Highlands_, vol. ii. p. 406.

[73] _Idem_, p. 409.

[74] Social Science Transactions for 1863, p. 608.

[75] _Idem._

[76] _Hebrides_, &c., vol. ii. p. 401.

[77] _Beauties of Scotland_, vol. v. p. 95.

[78] _New Statistical Account of Baray._

[79] _New Stat. Account of South Uist._

[80] _Rural Cyclopædia_, article POTATO.

[81] _Hebrides and Highlands_, vol. i. p. 251.

[82] Tennant’s _Tour_, vol. ii. p. 306.

[83] Johnson’s _Tour_, p. 196, and Pennant in several places.

[84] Fullarton & Baird’s _Remarks on the Highlands and Islands_, p.
10. 1838.


  Progress of Highlands during present century--Depopulation and
  emigration--Questions between landlords and tenants--Hardships
  of the ousted tenants--Sutherland clearings--Compulsory
  emigration--Famines--Poorer tenants compelled to take service--Sir
  John M’Neill’s Report--Changes complained of inevitable--Emigration
  the only remedy--Large and small farms--Experiments--Highlanders
  succeed when left to themselves--Substitution of deer for
  sheep--Recent state of Highlands--Means of improvement--Increased
  facilities for intercourse of great value--Population of chief
  Highland counties--Highland colonies--Attachment of Highlanders to
  their old home--Conclusion.

The same causes have been at work and the same processes going on
since 1800, as there were during the latter half of last century.

Taking stand at the date, about 1840, of the _New Statistical
Account_, and looking back, the conclusion which, we think, any
unprejudiced inquirer must come to is, that the Highlands as a
whole had improved immensely. With the exception of some of the
Western Islands, agriculture and sheep-farming at the above date
were generally abreast of the most improved lowland system, and the
social condition of the people was but little, if any, behind that
of the inhabitants of any other part of the country. In most places
the old Scotch plough was abolished, and the improved two-horse
one introduced; manuring was properly attended to, and a system
of rotation of crops introduced; runrig was all but abolished,
and the land properly inclosed; in short, during the early half
of the present century the most approved agricultural methods had
been generally adopted, where agriculture was of any importance.
Thirlage, multures, services, payment in kind, and other oppressions
and obstructions to improvement, were fast dying out, and over a
great part of the country the houses, food, clothing, and social
condition of the people generally were vastly improved from what
they were half a century before. Education, moreover, was spreading,
and schools were multiplied, especially after the disruption of the
Established Church in 1843, the Free Church laudably planting schools
in many places where they had never been before. In short, one side
of the picture is bright and cheering enough, although the other is
calculated to fill a humane observer with sadness.

Depopulation and emigration went on even more vigorously than before.
Nearly all the old lairds and those imbued with the ancient spirit
of the chiefs had died out, and a young and new race had now the
disposal of the Highland lands, a race who had little sympathy with
the feelings and prejudices of the people, and who were, naturally,
mainly anxious to increase as largely as possible their rent-roll. In
the earlier part of the century at least, as in the latter half of
the previous one, few of the proprietors wished, strictly speaking,
to depopulate their estates, and compel the inhabitants to emigrate,
but simply to clear the interior of the small farms into which
many properties were divided, convert the whole ground into sheep
pasture, let it out in very large farms, and remove the ejected
population to the coasts, there to carry on the manufacture of kelp,
or engage in fishing. It was only when the value of kelp decreased,
and the fishing proved unprofitable, that compulsory emigration was
resorted to.

It is unnecessary to say more here on the question of depopulation
and emigration, the question between Highland landlords and Highland
tenants, the dispute as to whether large or small farms are to be
preferred, and whether the Highlands are best suited for sheep and
cattle or for men and agriculture. Most that has been written on the
subject has been in advocacy of either the one side or the other;
one party, looking at the question exclusively from the tenant’s
point of view, while the other writes solely in the interests of
the landlords. The question has scarcely yet been dispassionately
looked at, and perhaps cannot be for a generation or two yet, when
the bitter feelings engendered on both sides shall have died out,
when both landlords and tenants will have found out what is best
for themselves and for the country at large, and when the Highlands
will be as settled and prosperous as the Lothians and the Carse
of Gowrie. There can be no doubt, however, that very frequently
landlords and their agents acted with little or no consideration for
the most cherished old feelings, prejudices, and even rights, of the
tenants, whom they often treated with less clemency than they would
have done sheep and cattle. It ought to have been remembered that
the Highland farmers and cottars were in a condition quite different
from those in the lowlands. Most of them rented farms which had been
handed down to them from untold generations, and which they had come
to regard as much belonging to them as did the castle to the chief.
They had no idea of lowland law and lowland notions of property, so
that very often, when told to leave their farms and their houses,
they could not realise the order, and could scarcely believe that
it came from the laird, the descendant of the old chiefs, for whom
their fathers fought and died. Hence the sad necessity often, of
laying waste their farms, driving off their cattle, and burning
their houses about their ears, before the legal officers could get
the old tenants to quit the glens and hill-sides where their fathers
had for centuries dwelt. It was not sheer pig-headed obstinacy or a
wish to defy the law which induced them to act thus; only once, we
think, in Sutherland, was there anything like a disturbance, when the
people gathered together and proceeded to drive out the sheep which
were gradually displacing themselves. The mere sight of a soldier
dispersed the mob, and not a drop of blood was spilt. When forced to
submit and leave their homes they did so quietly, having no spirit to
utter even a word of remonstrance. They seemed like a people amazed,
bewildered, taken by surprise, as much so often as a family would be
did a father turn them out of his house to make room for strangers.
In the great majority of instances, the people seem quietly to have
done what they were told, and removed from their glens to the coast,
while those who could afford it seem generally to have emigrated.
Actual violence seems to have been resorted to in very few cases.

Still the hardships which had to be endured by many of the ousted
tenants, and the unfeeling rigour with which many of them were
treated is sad indeed to read of. Many of them had to sleep in caves,
or shelter themselves, parents and children, under the lee of a rock
or a dyke, keeping as near as they could to the ruins of their burnt
or fallen cottage, and living on what shell-fish they could gather
on the shore, wild roots dug with their fingers, or on the scanty
charity of their neighbours; for all who could had emigrated. Many
of the proprietors, of course, did what they could to provide for
the ousted tenants, believing that the driving of them out was a sad
necessity. Houses, and a small piece of ground for each family, were
provided by the shore, on some convenient spot, help was given to
start the fishing, or employment in the manufacture of kelp, and as
far as possible their new condition was made as bearable as possible.
Indeed, we are inclined to believe, that but few of the landlords
acted from mere wantonness, or were entirely dead to the interests of
the old tenants; but that, their own interests naturally being of the
greatest importance to them, and some radical change being necessary
in the management of lands in the Highlands, the lairds thoughtlessly
acted as many of them did. It was the natural rebound from the old
system when the importance and wealth of a chief were rated at the
number of men on his estate; and although the consequent suffering is
to be deplored, still, perhaps, it was scarcely to be avoided. It is
easy to say that had the chiefs done this or the government done the
other thing, much suffering might have been spared, and much benefit
accrued to the Highlanders; but all the suffering in the world might
be spared did people know exactly when and how to interfere. It would
be curious, indeed, if in the case of the Highlands the faults were
all on one side. We believe that the proprietors acted frequently
with harshness and selfishness, and did not seek to realise the
misery they were causing. They were bound, more strongly bound
perhaps than the proprietors of any other district, to show some
consideration for the people on their estates, and not to act as if
proprietors had the sole right to benefit by the land of a country,
and that the people had no right whatever. Had they been more gentle,
introduced the changes gradually and judiciously, and given the
native Highlanders a chance to retrieve themselves, much permanent
good might have been done, and much suffering and bitterness spared.
But so long as the world is merely learning how to live, groping
after what is best, so long as men act on blind unreasoning impulse,
until all men learn to act according to the immutable laws of Nature,
so long will scenes such as we have been referring to occur. The
blame, however, should be laid rather to ignorance than to wanton

Of all the Highland counties, perhaps Sutherland is better known
than any other in connection with the commotions which agitated the
Highlands during the early part of this century, and, according to
all accounts, the depopulation is more marked there than anywhere
else. The clearance of that county of the old tenants, their
removal to the coast, and the conversion of the country into large
sheep-farms commenced about 1810, under the Marquis of Stafford, who
had married the heiress of the Sutherland estate. The clearing was,
of course, carried out by Mr Sellar, the factor, who, on account of
some of the proceedings to which he was a party, was tried before a
Court of Justiciary, held at Inverness in 1816, for culpable homicide
and oppression. Many witnesses were examined on both sides, and,
after a long trial, the jury returned a verdict of “Not guilty,” in
which the judge, Lord Pitmilly, completely concurred. This, we think,
was the only verdict that could legally be given, not only in the
case of the Sutherland clearings, but also in the case of most of
the other estates where such measures were carried on. The tenants
were all duly warned to remove a considerable number of weeks before
the term, and as few of them had many chattels to take with them,
this could easily have been done. Most of them generally obeyed
the warning, although a few, generally the very poor and very old,
refused to budge from the spot of their birth. The factor and his
officers, acting quite according to law, compelled them, sometimes
by force, to quit the houses, which were then either burnt or pulled
to the ground. As a rule, these officers of the law seem to have
done their duty as gently as law officers are accustomed to do; but
however mildly such a duty had been performed, it could not but
entail suffering to some extent, especially on such a people as many
of the Highlanders were who knew not how to make a living beyond the
bounds of their native glen. The pictures of suffering drawn, some
of them we fear too true, are sometimes very harrowing, and any one
who has been brought up among the hills, or has dwelt for a summer
in a sweet Highland glen, can easily fancy with how sad a heart the
Highlander must have taken his last long lingering look of the little
cottage, however rude, where he passed his happiest years, nestled
at the foot of a sunny brae, or guarded by some towering crag, and
surrounded with the multitudinous beauties of wood and vale, heather
and ferns, soft knoll and rugged mountain. The same result as has
followed in the Highlands has likewise taken place in other parts of
the country, without the same outcry about depopulation, suffering,
emigration, &c., simply because it has been brought about gradually.
The process commenced in the Highlands only about a hundred years
since, was commenced in the lowlands and elsewhere centuries ago;
the Highlanders have had improvements thrust upon them, while the
lowlanders were allowed to develope themselves.

After the decline in the price of kelp (about 1820), when it
ceased to be the interest of the proprietors to accumulate people
on the shore, they did their best to induce them to emigrate,
many proprietors helping to provide ships for those whom they had
dispossessed of their lands and farms. Indeed, until well on in
the present century, the Highlanders generally seem to have had no
objections to emigrate, but, on the contrary, were eager to do so
whenever they could, often going against the will of the lairds
and of those who dreaded the utter depopulation of the country
and a dearth of recruits for the army. But about 1840 and after,
compulsion seems often to have been used to make the people go on
board the ships provided for them by the lairds, who refused to give
them shelter on any part of their property. But little compulsion,
however, in the ordinary sense of the term, seems to have been
necessary, as the Highlanders, besides having a hereditary tendency
to obey their superiors, were dazed, bewildered, and dispirited by
what seemed to them the cruel, heartless, and unjust proceedings of
their lairds.

The earliest extensive clearing probably took place on the estate of
Glengarry, the traditional cause of it being that the laird’s lady
had taken umbrage at the clan. “Summonses of ejection were served
over the whole property, even on families most closely connected
with the chief.”[85] From that time down to the present day, the
clearing off of the inhabitants of many parts of the Highlands has
been steadily going on. We have already spoken of the Sutherland
clearings, which were continued down to a comparatively recent time.
All the Highland counties to a greater or less extent have been
subjected to the same kind of thinning, and have contributed their
share of emigrants to America, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere.
It would serve no purpose to enter into details concerning the
clearing of the several estates in the various Highland counties;
much, as we have said, has been written on both sides, and if faith
can be put in the host of pamphlets that have been issued during
the present century on the side of the ejected Highlanders, some of
the evictions were conducted with great cruelty;[86] much greater
cruelty and disregard for the people’s feelings than we think there
was any need for, however justifiable and necessary the evictions and
clearings were.

We have already referred to the frequent occurrence of famines during
the past and present centuries in the Highlands, arising from the
failure of the crops, principally, latterly, through the failure of
the potatoes. These frequent famines gave a stimulus to emigration,
as, of course, the people were anxious to escape from their misery,
and the proprietors were glad to get quit of the poor they would
otherwise have had to support. Besides the failure of the crops,
other causes operated, according to Mr Tregelles, in the pamphlet
already referred to, to produce the frequent occurrence of distress
in the Highlands; such as the relation of landlord and tenant, the
defective character of the poor-law, the excessive division and
subdivision of the land, the imprudence and ignorance of some of
the peasantry, inertness, also consequent on chronic poverty, want
of capital. Every few years, up even to the present time, a cry
of distress comes from the Highlands. Besides the famines already
referred to in 1837 and 1846, a still more severe and distressing
one occurred in 1850, and seems, according to the many reports and
pamphlets issued, to have continued for some years after. In the one
of 1837, many Highland proprietors and private gentlemen, forming
themselves into an association, did what they could to assist the
Highlanders, mainly by way of emigration. Not only was it for the
advantage of Highland proprietors, in respect of being able to let
their lands at a better rent, to do what they could to enable
the people to emigrate, but by doing so, and thus diminishing the
number of poor on their estates, they considerably decreased the
large tax they had to pay under the recent Scotch Poor-law Act.
“Formerly the poor widows and orphans and destitute persons were
relieved by the parish minister from the poors’ box, by voluntary
subscriptions, which enabled the extremely needy to receive four or
five shillings the quarter; and this small pittance was felt on all
hands to be a liberal bounty. The landlord added his five or ten
pound gift at the beginning of the year, and a laudatory announcement
appeared in the newspaper. But the Act for the relief of the poor
of Scotland now provides that a rate shall be levied on the tenant
or occupier, and some of those who formerly paid £10 per annum, and
were deemed worthy of much commendation, have now to pay £400 per
annum without note or comment! Can we be surprised, then, that some
of the landlords, with increased claims on their resources, and
perhaps with diminished ability to meet such claims, should look
round promptly and earnestly for a remedy? One of the most obvious
and speedy remedies was emigration; hence the efforts to clear the
ground of those who, with the lapse of time, might become heavy
encumbrances. It need not be matter of surprise that the landlord
should clear his ground of tenants who, for a series of years, had
paid no rent; although perhaps a wiser and better course would have
been to have sought for and found some good means of continued
lucrative employment.... The lands are divided and subdivided until
a family is found existing on a plot which is totally inadequate
for their support; and here we see their imprudence and ignorance.
Families are reared up in misery, struggling with impossibilities,
producing at last that inertness and dimness of vision which result
from a sick heart.”[87] Most of those who write, like Mr Tregelles,
of the distress of the Highlands in 1850 and succeeding years, do so
in the same strain. They declare there is no need for emigration,
that the land and sea, if properly worked, are quite sufficient to
support all the inhabitants that were ever on it at any time, and
that the people only need to be helped on, encouraged and taught,
to make them as prosperous and the land as productive as the people
and land of any other part of the kingdom. While this may be true
of many parts, we fear it will not hold with regard to most of the
Western Islands, where until recently, in most places, especially in
Skye, the land was so subdivided and the population so excessive,
that under the most productive system of agriculture the people could
not be kept in food for more than half the year. Even in some of the
best off of the islands, it was the custom for one or more members
of a family to go to the south during summer and harvest, and earn
as much as would pay the rent and eke out the scanty income. “The
fact is, that the working classes of Skye, for many years anterior
to 1846, derived a considerable part of their means from the wages
of labour in the south. Even before the manufacture of kelp had been
abandoned, the crofters of some parts at least of Skye appear to have
paid their rents chiefly in money earned by labour in other parts
of the kingdom. When that manufacture ceased, the local employment
was reduced to a small amount, and the number who went elsewhere
for wages increased. The decline of the herring-fishery, which for
several years had yielded little or no profit in Skye, had a similar
effect. The failure of the potato crop in 1846 still further reduced
the local means of subsistence and of employing labour, and forced
a still greater number to work for wages in different parts of the
country. From the Pentland Firth to the Tweed, from the Lewis to
the Isle of Man, the Skye men sought the employment they could not
find at home; and there are few families of cottars, or of crofters
at rents not exceeding £10, from which at least one individual
did not set out to earn by labour elsewhere the means of paying
rent and buying meal for those who remained at home. Before 1846,
only the younger members of the family left the district for that
purpose; since that year, the crofter himself has often found it
necessary to go. But young and old, crofters and cottars, to whatever
distance they may have gone, return home for the winter, with rare
exceptions, and remain there nearly altogether idle, consuming the
produce of the croft, and the proceeds of their own labour, till the
return of summer and the failure of their supplies warn them that
it is time to set out again. Those whose means are insufficient to
maintain them till the winter is past, and who cannot find employment
at that season at home, are of course in distress, and, having
exhausted their own means, are driven to various shifts, and forced
to seek charitable aid.”

The above extract is from the Report by Sir John M’Neill, on the
distress in Highlands and Islands in 1850-51, caused by the failure
of the crops. He went through most of the western island and western
mainland parishes examining into the condition of the people, and the
conclusion he came to was, that the population was excessive, that
no matter how the land might be divided, it could not support the
inhabitants without extraneous aid, and that the only remedy was the
removal of the surplus population by means of emigration. Whether
the population was excessive or not, it appears to us, that when the
sudden, deep, and extensive distresses occurred in the Highlands,
it was merciful to help those who had no means of making a living,
and who were half starving, to remove to a land where there was
plenty of well-paid work. Sir John believes that even although no
pressure had been used by landlords, and no distresses had occurred,
the changes which have been rapidly introduced into the Highlands,
extending farms and diminishing population, would have happened
all the same, but would have been brought about more gradually
and with less inconvenience and suffering to the population. “The
change which then (end of last century) affected only the parishes
bordering on the Lowlands, has now extended to the remotest parts
of the Highlands, and, whether for good or for evil, is steadily
advancing. Every movement is in that direction, because the tendency
must necessarily be to assimilate the more remote districts to
the rest of the country, and to carry into them, along with the
instruction, industry, and capital, the agricultural and commercial
economy of the wealthier, more intelligent, and influential majority
of the nation. If it were desirable to resist this progress, it
would probably be found impracticable. Every facility afforded to
communication and intercourse must tend to hasten its march, and it
is not to be conceived that any local organisation could resist, or
even materially retard it. If nothing had occurred to disturb the
ordinary course of events, this inevitable transition would probably
have been effected without such an amount of suffering as to call for
special intervention, though no such change is accomplished without
suffering. The crofter would have yielded to the same power that
has elsewhere converted the holdings of small tenants into farms
for capitalists; but increased facilities of communication, and
increased intercourse, might previously have done more to assimilate
his language, habits, and modes of living and of thinking to those of
men in that part of the country to which he is now a stranger, and in
which he is a foreigner.

“There would thus have been opened up to him the same means of
providing for his subsistence that were found by those of his
class, who, during the last century, have ceased to cultivate land
occupied by themselves. But the calamity that suddenly disabled
him from producing his food by his own labour on his croft, has
found him generally unprepared to provide by either means for his
maintenance. All the various attempts that have yet been made in so
many parishes to extricate the working classes from the difficulties
against which they are unsuccessfully contending, have not only
failed to accomplish that object, but have failed even to arrest
the deterioration in their circumstances and condition that has
been in progress for the last four years. In every parish, with
one or two exceptions, men of all classes and denominations concur
unanimously in declaring it to be impossible, by any application
of the existing resources, or by any remunerative application of
extraneous resources, to provide for the permanent subsistence of
the whole of the present inhabitants; and state their conviction
that the population cannot be made self-sustaining, unless a portion
removes from the parish.... The working classes in many parishes are
convinced that the emigration of a part of their number affords the
only prospect of escape from a position otherwise hopeless; and in
many cases individuals have earnestly prayed for aid to emigrate.
Petitions numerously signed by persons desirous to go to the North
American colonies, and praying for assistance to enable them to do
so, have been transmitted for presentation to Parliament. In some
of the parishes where no desire for emigration had been publicly
expressed, or was supposed to exist, that desire began to be
announced as soon as the expectation of extraneous aid was abandoned.
It has rarely happened that so many persons, between whom there was
or could have been no previous concert or intercourse, and whose
opinions on many important subjects are so much at variance, have
concurred in considering any one measure indispensable to the welfare
of the community; and there does not appear to be any good reason for
supposing that this almost unanimous opinion is not well founded.”[88]

These are the opinions of one who thoroughly examined into the
matter, and are corroborated by nearly all the articles on the
Highland parishes in the _New Statistical Account_. That it was and
is still needful to take some plan to prevent the ever-recurring
distress of the Western Highlands, and especially Islands, no one
can doubt; that emigration is to some extent necessary, especially
from the islands, we believe, but that it is the only remedy, we are
inclined to doubt. There is no doubt that many proprietors, whose
tenants though in possession of farms of no great size were yet
very comfortable, have cleared their estate, and let it out in two
or three large farms solely for sheep. Let emigration by all means
be brought into play where it is necessary, but it is surely not
necessary in all cases to go from one extreme to another, and replace
thousands of men, women, and children by half-a-dozen shepherds and
their dogs. Many districts may be suitable only for large farms,
but many others, we think, could be divided into farms of moderate
size, large enough to keep a farmer and his family comfortably after
paying a fair rent. This system, we believe, has been pursued with
success in some Highland districts, especially in that part of
Inverness-shire occupied by the Grants.

In Sir John M’Neill’s report there are some interesting and curious
statements which, we think, tend to show that when the Highlanders
are allowed to have moderate-sized farms, and are left alone to make
what they can of them, they can maintain themselves in tolerable
comfort. In the island of Lewis, where the average rent of the
farms was £2, 12s., the farmer was able to obtain from his farm
only so much produce as kept himself and family for six months in
the year; his living for the rest of the year, his rent and other
necessary expenses, requiring to be obtained from other sources, such
as fishing, labour in the south, &c. So long as things went well,
the people generally managed to struggle through the year without
any great hardship; but in 1846, and after, when the potato crops
failed, but for the interference of the proprietor and others, many
must have perished for want of food. In six years after 1846, the
proprietor expended upwards of £100,000 in providing work and in
charity, to enable the people to live. Various experiments were tried
to provide work for the inhabitants, and more money expended than
there was rent received, with apparently no good result whatever. In
1850, besides regular paupers, there were above 11,000 inhabitants
receiving charitable relief. Yet, notwithstanding every encouragement
from the proprietor, who offered to cancel all arrears, provide a
ship, furnish them with all necessaries, few of the people cared to
emigrate. In the same way in Harris, immense sums were expended to
help the people to live, with as little success as in Lewis; the
number of those seeking relief seemed only to increase. As this plan
seemed to lead to no good results, an attempt was made to improve the
condition of the people by increasing the size of their farms, which
in the best seasons sufficed to keep them in provisions for only six
months. The following is the account of the experiment given by Mr
Macdonald, the resident factor:--“At Whitsunday 1848 forty crofters
were removed from the island of Bernera, then occupied by eighty-one;
and the lands thus vacated were divided among the forty-one who
remained. Those who were removed, with two or three exceptions, were
placed in crofts upon lands previously occupied by tacksmen. Six of
the number who, with one exception, had occupied crofts of about
five acres in Bernera, were settled in the Borves on crofts of ten
acres of arable, and hill-grazing for four cows, and their followers
till two years old, with forty sheep and a horse,--about double the
amount of stock which, with one exception, they had in Bernera. The
exceptional case referred to was that of a man who had a ten-acre
croft in Bernera, with an amount of black cattle stock equal to that
for which he got grazing in the Borves, but who had no sheep. They
are all in arrear of rent, and, on an average, for upwards of two
years. These six tenants were selected as the best in Bernera, in
respect to their circumstances. I attribute their want of success
to the depreciation in the price of black cattle, and to their not
having sufficient capital to put upon their lands a full stock when
they entered. Their stipulated rent in the Borves was, on an average,
£12. Of the forty-one who remained, with enlarged crofts, in Bernera,
the whole are now largely in arrear, and have increased their arrears
since their holdings were enlarged. I attribute their want of success
to the same causes as that of the people in the Borves. The result of
his attempt to improve the condition of these crofters, by enlarging
their crofts, while it has failed to accomplish that object, has
at the same time entailed a considerable pecuniary loss upon the

“An attempt was made, at the same time, to establish some
unsuccessful agricultural crofters, practised in fishing, as
fishermen, on lands previously occupied by tacksmen, where each
fisherman got a croft of about two acres of arable land, with grazing
for one or two cows, and from four to six sheep, at a rent of from
£1 to £2 sterling. This experiment was equally unsuccessful. It is
doubtful whether they were all adequately provided with suitable
boats and tackle, or ‘gear;’ but many of them were; and some of
those who were not originally well provided were supplied with
what was wanted by the destitution fund. Of these fishermen Mr
Macdonald says:--‘Not one of them, since entering on the fishing
croft, has paid an amount equal to his rent. The attempt to improve
the condition of those men, who had previously been unsuccessful
as agricultural crofters, by placing them in a position favourable
for fishing, has also failed; and this experiment also has entailed
a considerable pecuniary loss upon the proprietor, who is not now
receiving from these fishermen one-fourth of the rent he formerly
received from tacksmen for the same lands. I therefore state
confidently, that in Harris the proprietor cannot convert lands
held by tacksmen into small holdings, either for the purposes of
agriculture or fishing, without a great pecuniary sacrifice; and that
this will continue to be the case, unless potatoes should again be
successfully cultivated. I cannot estimate the loss that would be
entailed upon the proprietor by such a change at less than two-thirds
of the rental paid by the tacksmen. The results of the experiments
that have been made on this property would, in every case, fully bear
out this estimate. It is my conscientious belief and firm conviction,
that if this property were all divided into small holdings amongst
the present occupants of land, the result would be, that in a few
years the rent recoverable would not be sufficient to pay the public
burdens, if the potatoes continue to fail, and the price of black
cattle does not materially improve.’”[89]

Yet not one family in Harris would accept the proprietor’s offer to
bear all the expense of their emigration.

The condition of Lewis and Harris, as above shown, may be taken
as a fair specimen of the Western Islands at the time of Sir John
M’Neill’s inquiry in 1851.

An experiment, which if properly managed, might have succeeded, was
tried in 1850 and the two following years; it also proved a failure.
The following is the account given in the _Edinburgh Review_ for
October 1857. The reader must remember, however, that the article is
written by an advocate of all the modern Highland innovations:--A
number of people in the district of Sollas in North Uist had agreed
to emigrate, but “a committee in the town of Perth, which had on
hand £3000 collected for the Highland Destitution Relief Fund of
1847, resolved to form these people into a ‘settlement,’ Lord
Macdonald assenting, and giving them the choice of any land in the
island not under lease. The tenants, about sixty in number, removed
to the selected place in autumn 1850, provided by the committee
with an agricultural overseer. In the following spring a large
crop of oats and potatoes was laid down. The oats never advanced
above a few inches in height, and ultimately withered and died, and
the potatoes gave little or no return. A great part of the land
so dealt with has never since been touched, and it is now even of
less value than before, having ceased to produce even heather. This
result, however, we are bound to mention, was at the time, and
perhaps still, popularly ascribed, like all Highland failures, to
the fault of those in authority. A new overseer was therefore sent,
and remained about a year and a half; but in 1852 a third of the
people, becoming painfully impressed with the truth of the matter,
went off to Australia. In 1853 a third manager was sent ‘to teach
and encourage;’ but as the money was now running short, he had
little to give but advice, and as the people could not subsist on
_that_ any more than on the produce of their lots, they went off
to seek employment elsewhere--and so ended what was called ‘this
interesting experiment,’ but of which it seems to be now thought
inexpedient to say anything at all. The results were to spend £3000
in making worse a piece of the worst possible land, and in prolonging
the delusions and sufferings of the local population, but also in
supplying one more proof of the extreme difficulty or impossibility
of accomplishing, and the great mischief of attempting, what so
many paper authorities in Highland matters assume as alike easy and

It would almost seem, from the failure of the above and many other
experiments which have been tried to improve the condition of the
Highlanders, that any extraneous positive interference by way of
assistance, experiments, charity, and such like, leading the people
to depend more on others than on themselves, leads to nothing but
disastrous results. This habit of depending on others, a habit many
centuries old, was one which, instead of being encouraged, ought
to have been by every possible means discouraged, as it was at
the bottom of all the evils which followed the abolition of the
jurisdictions. They had been accustomed to look to their chiefs for
generations to see that they were provided with houses, food, and
clothing; and it could only be when they were thoroughly emancipated
from this slavish and degrading habit that they could find scope for
all their latent energies, have fair play, and feel the necessity for
strenuous exertion.

As a contrast to the above accounts, and as showing that it is
perfectly possible to carry out the small or moderate farm system,
even on the old principle of runrig, both with comfort to the tenants
and with profit to the proprietors; and also as showing what the
Highlanders are capable of when left entirely to themselves, we give
the following extract from Sir J. M’Neill’s Report, in reference to
the prosperity of Applecross in Ross-shire:--

“The people have been left to depend on their own exertions, under a
kind proprietor, who was always ready to assist individuals making
proper efforts to improve their condition, but who attempted no new
or specific measure for the general advancement of the people. Their
rents are moderate, all feel secure of their tenure so long as they
are not guilty of any delinquency, and a large proportion of those
who hold land at rents of £6 and upwards, have leases renewable every
seven years. During the fifteen years ending at Whitsunday 1850, they
have paid an amount equal to fifteen years’ rent. Many of the small
crofters are owners, or part owners, of decked vessels, of which
there are forty-five, owned by the crofters on the property; and a
considerable number have deposits of money in the banks. The great
majority of these men have not relied on agriculture, and no attempt
has been made to direct their efforts to that occupation. Left to
seek their livelihood in the manner in which they could best find it,
and emancipated from tutelage and dependence on the aid and guidance
of the proprietor, they have prospered more than their neighbours,
apparently because they have relied less upon the crops they could
raise on their lands, and have pursued other occupations with more
energy and perseverance.

“Of the crofters or small tenants on this property who are not
fishermen, and who are dependent solely on the occupation of land,
the most prosperous are those who have relied upon grazing, and
who are still cultivating their arable land in ‘runrig.’ These
club-farmers, as they are called, hold a farm in common, each having
an equal share. They habitually purchase part of their food. They
have paid their rents regularly, and several of them have deposits
of money in bank. Mr Mackinnon, who has for more than fifteen years
been the factor on the property, gives the following account of the
club-farmers of Lochcarron:--

“‘Of the lotters or crofters paying £6 and upwards, a large
proportion have long had leases for seven years, which have been
renewed from time to time. Those paying smaller rents have not
leases. The lots which are occupied by tenants-at-will are much
better cultivated than those which are held on leases. I don’t, of
course, attribute the better cultivation to the want of leases;
all I infer from this fact is, that granting leases to the present
occupants of lots has not made them better cultivators of their
lots. The most successful of the small tenants are those who have
taken farms in common, in which the grazings are chiefly stocked
with sheep, and in which there happens to be a sufficient extent of
arable land connected with a moderate extent of grazing to enable
them to raise crops for their own subsistence. Since the failure
of the potatoes, however, all the tenants of this class have been
obliged to buy meal. On those farms which are held on lease, the
land is still cultivated on the ‘runrig’ system. There are five such
farms on Mr Mackenzie’s property in the parish of Lochcarron. One of
these is let at £48, to six persons paying £8 each; another for £56,
to seven men at £8 each; another for £72, to eight men at £9 each;
another to eight men at £13, 10s., equal to £108; another to eight
men at £15 each, equal to £120. The cultivation on all of these farms
is on the ‘runrig’ system. Their sales of stock and wool are made in
common,--that is, in one lot. Their stock, though not common property
(each man having his own with a distinctive mark), are managed in
common by a person employed for that purpose. The tenants of this
class have paid their rents with great punctuality, and have never
been in arrear to any amount worth mentioning. A considerable number
of them have money in bank. They have their lands at a moderate
rent, which is no doubt one cause of their prosperity. Another cause
is, that no one of the tenants can subdivide his share without the
consent of his co-tenants and of the proprietor. The co-tenants are
all opposed to such subdivision of a share by one of their number,
and practically no sub-division has taken place. Their families,
therefore, as they grow up, are sent out to shift for themselves.
Some of the children find employment at home,--some emigrate to the

Of course it is not maintained that this is the most profitable way
for the proprietor to let his lands; it is not at all improbable that
by adopting the large-farm system, his rent might be considerably
increased; only it shows, that when the Highlanders are left to
themselves, and have fair play and good opportunities, they are quite
capable of looking after their own interests with success.

A comparatively recent Highland grievance is the clearance off of
sheep, and the conversion of large districts, in one case extending
for about 100 miles, into deer forests. Great complaint has been
made that this was a wanton abuse of proprietorship, as it not
only displaced large numbers of people, but substituted for such
a useful animal as the sheep, an animal like the deer, maintained
for mere sport. No doubt the proprietors find it more profitable to
lay their lands under deer than under sheep, else they would not
do it, and by all accounts[91] it requires the same number of men
to look after a tract of country covered with deer, as it would do
if the same district were under sheep. But it certainly does seem
a harsh, unjust, and very un-British proceeding to depopulate a
whole district, as has sometimes been done, of poor but respectable
and happy people, for the mere sake of providing sport for a few
gentlemen. It is mere sophistry to justify the substitution of deer
for sheep, by saying that one as well as the other is killed and
eaten as food. For thousands whose daily food is mutton, there is not
more than one who regards venison as anything else than a rarity;
and by many it is considered unpalatable. Landlords at present can
no doubt do what they like with their lands; but it seems to us that
in the long-run it is profitable neither to them nor to the nation
at large, that large tracts of ground, capable of maintaining such
a universally useful animal as the sheep, or of being divided into
farms of a moderate size, should be thrown away on deer, an animal of
little value but for sport.

As we have more than once said already, the Highlands are in a state
of transition, though, we think, near the end of it; and we have no
doubt that ere long both proprietors and tenants will find out the
way to manage the land most profitable for both, and life there will
be as comfortable, and quiet, and undisturbed by agitations of any
kind, as it is in any other part of the country.

Since the date of the New Statistical Account and of Sir J. M’Neill’s
Report, the same processes have been going on in the Highlands
with the same results as during the previous half century. The old
population have in many places been removed from their small crofts
to make way for large sheep-farmers, sheep having in some districts
been giving place to deer, and a large emigration has been going
on. Much discontent and bitter writing have of course been caused
by these proceedings, but there is no doubt that, as a whole, the
Highlands are rapidly improving, although improvement has doubtless
come through much tribulation. Except, perhaps, a few of the remoter
districts, the Highlands generally are as far forward as the rest of
the country. Agriculture is as good, the Highland sheep and cattle
are famous, the people are about as comfortable as lowlanders in
the same circumstances; education is well diffused; churches of all
sects are plentiful, and ere long, doubtless, so far as outward
circumstances are concerned, there will be no difference between
the Highlands and Lowlands. How the universal improvement of the
Highlands is mainly to be accomplished, we shall state in the words
of Sir John M’Neill. What he says refers to the state of the country
during the distress of 1851, but they apply equally well at the
present day.

“It is evident that, were the population reduced to the number that
can live in tolerable comfort, that change alone would not secure
the future prosperity and independence of those who remain. It may be
doubted whether any specific measures calculated to have a material
influence on the result, could now be suggested that have not
repeatedly been proposed. Increased and improved means of education
would tend to enlighten the people, and to fit them for seeking their
livelihood in distant places, as well as tend to break the bonds
that now confine them to their native localities. But, to accomplish
these objects, education must not be confined to reading, writing,
and arithmetic. The object of all education is not less to excite
the desire for knowledge, than to furnish the means of acquiring
it; and in this respect, education in the Highlands is greatly
deficient. Instruction in agriculture and the management of stock
would facilitate the production of the means of subsistence. A more
secure tenure of the lands they occupy would tend to make industrious
and respectable crofters more diligent and successful cultivators.
But the effects of all such measures depends on the spirit and manner
in which they are carried out, as well as on the general management
with which they are connected throughout a series of years. It is,
no doubt, in the power of every proprietor to promote or retard
advancement, and he is justly responsible for the manner in which he
uses that power; but its extent appears to have been much overrated.
The circumstances that determine the progress of such a people as the
inhabitants of those districts, in the vicinity, and forming a part
of a great nation far advanced in knowledge and in wealth, appear to
be chiefly those which determine the amount of intercourse between
them. Where that intercourse is easy and constant, the process of
assimilation proceeds rapidly, and the result is as certain as that
of opening the sluices in the ascending lock of a canal. Where that
intercourse is impeded, or has not been established, it may perhaps
be possible to institute a separate local civilization, an isolated
social progress; but an instance of its successful accomplishment is
not to be found in those districts.

“Whatever tends to facilitate and promote intercourse between
the distressed districts and the more advanced parts of the
country, tends to assimilate the habits and modes of life of their
inhabitants, and, therefore, to promote education, industry, good
management, and everything in which the great body excels the small
portion that is to be assimilated to it.”[92]

Notwithstanding the immense number of people who have emigrated from
the Highlands during the last 100 years, the population of the six
chief Highland counties, including the Islands, was in 1861 upwards
of 100,000 more than it was in 1755. In the latter year the number
of inhabitants in Argyll, Inverness, Caithness, Perth, Ross, and
Sutherland, was 332,332; in 1790-98 it was 392,263, which, by 1821,
had increased to 447,307; in 1861 it had reached 449,875. Thus,
although latterly, happily, the rate of increase has been small
compared with what it was during last century, any fear of the
depopulation of the Highlands is totally unfounded.

Until lately, the great majority of Highland emigrants preferred
British America to any other colony, and at the present day Cape
Breton, Prince Edward’s Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and many
other districts of British North America, contain a large Highland
population, proud of their origin, and in many instances still
maintaining their original Gaelic. One of the earliest Highland
settlements was, however, in Georgia, where in 1738, a Captain
Mackintosh settled along with a considerable number of followers from
Inverness-shire. Hence the settlement was called New Inverness.[93]
The favourite destination, however, of the earlier Highland emigrants
was North Carolina, to which, from about 1760 till the breaking out
of the American war, many hundreds removed from Skye and other of
the Western Islands. During that war these colonists almost to a man
adhered to the British Government, and formed themselves into the
Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment, which did good service, as will
be seen in the account of the Highland Regiments. At the conclusion
of the war, many settled in Carolina, while others removed to
Canada, where land was allotted to them by Government. That the
descendants of these early settlers still cherish the old Highland
spirit, is testified to by all travellers; some interesting notices
of their present condition maybe seen in Mr David Macrae’s _American
Sketches_ (1869). Till quite lately, Gaelic sermons were preached to
them, and the language of their forefathers we believe has not yet
fallen into disuse in the district, being spoken even by some of the
negroes. Those who emigrated to this region seem mostly to have been
tacksmen, while many of the farmers and cottars settled in British
America. Although their fortunes do not seem to have come up to the
expectations of themselves and those who sent them out, still there
is no doubt that their condition after emigration was in almost every
respect far better than it was before, and many of their descendants
now occupy responsible and prominent positions in the colony, while
all seem to be as comfortable as the most well-to-do Scottish farmers
having the advantage of the latter in being proprietors of their
own farms. According to the Earl of Selkirk, who himself took out
and settled several bands of colonists, “the settlers had every
incitement to vigorous exertion from the nature of their tenure. They
were allowed to purchase in fee-simple, and to a certain extent on
credit. From 50 to 100 acres were allotted to each family at a very
moderate price, but none was given gratuitously. To accommodate those
who had no superfluity of capital, they were not required to pay the
price in full, till the third or fourth year of their possession; and
in that time an industrious man may have it in his power to discharge
his debt out of the produce of the land itself.”[94] Those who went
out without capital at all, could, such was the high rate of wages,
soon save as much as would enable them to undertake the management of
land of their own. That the Highlanders were as capable of hand and
good labour as the lowlanders, is proved by the way they set to work
in these colonies, when they were entirely freed from oppression,
and dependence, and charity, and had to depend entirely on their own

Besides the above settlements, the mass of the population in
Caledonia County, State of New York, are of Highland extraction, and
there are large settlements in the State of Ohio, besides numerous
families and individual settlers in other parts of the United States.
Highland names were numerous among the generals of the United States
army on both sides in the late civil war.[95]

The fondness of these settlers for the old country, and all that is
characteristic of it, is well shown by an anecdote told in Campbell’s
_Travels_ in North America (1793). The spirit manifested here is, we
believe, as strong even at the present day when hundreds will flock
from many miles around to hear a Gaelic sermon by a Scotch minister.
Campbell, in his travels in British America, mainly undertaken with
the purpose of seeing how the new Highland colonists were succeeding,
called at the house of a Mr Angus Mackintosh on the Nashwack. He
was from Inverness-shire, and his wife told Campbell they had every
necessary of life in abundance on their own property, but there was
one thing which she wished much to have--that was heather. “And
as she had heard there was an island in the Gulf of St Lawrence,
opposite to the mouth of the Merimashee river, where it grew, and as
she understood I was going that way, she earnestly entreated I would
bring her two or three stalks, or cows as she called it, which she
would plant on a barren brae behind her house where she supposed it
would grow; that she made the same request to several going that way,
but had not got any of it, which she knew would greatly beautify the
place; for, said she, ‘This is an ugly country that has no heather;
I never yet saw any good or pleasant place without it.’” Latterly,
very large numbers of Highlanders have settled in Australia and
New Zealand, where, by all accounts, they are in every respect as
successful as the most industrious lowland emigrants.

No doubt much immediate suffering and bitterness was caused when the
Highlanders were compelled to leave their native land, which by no
means treated them kindly; but whether emigration has been disastrous
to the Highlands or not, there can be no doubt of its ultimate
unspeakable benefit to the Highland emigrants themselves, and to
the colonies in which they have settled. Few, we believe, however
tempting the offer, would care to quit their adopted home, and return
to the bleak hills and rugged shores of their native land.


[85] Those who wish further details may refer to the following
pamphlets:--_The Glengarry Evictions_, by Donald Ross; _Hist. of
the Hebrides_, by E. O. Tregelles; _Twelve Days in Skye_, by Lady
M’Caskill; _Exterminations of the Scottish Peasantry_, and other
works, by Mr Robertson of Dundonnachie; _Highland Clearances_, by the
Rev. E. J. Findlater; _Sutherland as it was and is_; and the pamphlet
in last note. On the other side, see Selkirk on Emigration; Sir J.
M’Neill’s report and article in _Edin. Review_ for Oct. 1857.

[86] _The Depopulation System in the Highlands_, by an Eye-Witness.
Pamphlet. 1849.

[87] Tregelles’ _Hints on the Hebrides_.

[88] _Sir John M’Neill’s Report_, pp. xxxiv.-xxxv.

[89] _Sir John M’Neill’s Report_, pp. xxii., xxiii.

[90] _Sir John M’Neill’s Report_, xxvi. xxvii.

[91] See _Edin. Rev._ for Oct. 1857.

[92] _Sir John M’Neill’s Report_, xxxviii. xxxix.

[93] The American Gazetteer. Lond. 1762. Art. _Inverness, New_.

[94] Selkirk on _Emigration_, p. 212.

[95] Dr M’Lauchlan’s paper in Social Science Transactions for 1863.




  Extent of Gaelic literature--Claims of Ireland--Circumstances
  adverse to preservation of Gaelic literature--“The Lament
  of Deirdre”--“The Children of Usnoth”--“The Book of Deer”--The
  Legend of Deer--The memoranda of grants--The “Albanic Duan”
  --“Muireadhach Albannach”--Gaelic charter of 1408--Manuscripts
  of the 15th century--“The Dean of Lismore’s Book”--Macgregor,
  Dean of Lismore--“Ursgeul”--“Bas Dhiarmaid”--Ossian’s Eulogy on
  Fingal--Macpherson’s Ossian--“Fingal”--Cuchullin’s chariot--“Temora”
  --Smith’s “Sean Dana”--Ossianic collections--Fingal’s address to
  Oscar--Ossian’s address to the setting sun--John Knox’s Liturgy
  --Kirk’s Gaelic Psalter--Irish Bible--Shorter Catechism--Confession
  of Faith--Gaelic Bible--Translations from the English--Original
  prose writings--Campbell’s Ancient Highland Tales--“Maol
  A Chliobain”--“The man in the tuft of wool”--Alexander Macdonald
  --Macintyre--Modern poetry--School-books--The Gaelic language
  --Gaelic music.

The literature of the Highlands, although not extensive, is varied,
and has excited not a little interest in the world of letters.
The existing remains are of various ages, carrying us back, in
the estimation of some writers, to the second century, while
contributions are making to it still, and are likely to be made for
several generations.

It has been often said that the literature of the Celts of Ireland
was much more extensive than that of the Celts of Scotland--that the
former were in fact a more literary people--that the ecclesiastics,
and medical men, and historians (_seanachies_) of Scotland had less
culture than those of the sister island, and that they must be held
thus to have been a stage behind them in civilisation and progress.
Judging by the remains which exist, there seems to be considerable
ground for such a conclusion. Scotland can produce nothing like
the MS. collections in possession of Trinity College Dublin, or the
Royal Irish Academy. There are numerous fragments of considerable
value in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, and in the hands of
private parties throughout Scotland, but there is nothing to compare
with the Book of Lecan, _Leabhar na h-uidhre_, and the other remains
of the ancient literary culture of Ireland, which exist among the
collections now brought together in Dublin; nor with such remains
of what is called Irish scholarship as are to be found in Milan,
Brussels, and other places on the continent of Europe.

At the same time there is room for questioning how far the claims
of Ireland to the whole of that literature are good. Irish scholars
are not backward in pressing the claims of their own country to
everything of any interest that may be called Celtic. If we acquiesce
in these claims, Scotland will be left without a shred of aught
which she can call her own in the way of Celtic literature; and
there is a class of Scottish scholars who, somewhat more generous
than discriminating, have been disposed to acquiesce but too
readily in those claims. We have our doubts as to Ireland having
furnished Scotland with its Gaelic population, and we have still
stronger doubts as to Ireland having been the source of all the
Celtic literature which she claims. A certain class of writers are
at once prepared to allow that the Bobbio MSS. and those other
continental Gaelic MSS. of which Zeuss has made such admirable use
in his _Grammatica Celtica_, are all Irish, and they are taken as
illustrative alike of the zeal and culture of the early Irish Church.
And yet there is no evidence of such being the case. The language
certainly is not Irish, nor are the names of such of the writers as
are usually associated with the writings. Columbanus, the founder of
the Bobbio Institution, may have been an Irishman, but he may have
been a Scotchman. He may have gone from Durrow, but he may have gone
from Iona. The latter was no less famous than the former, and had
a staff of men quite as remarkable. We have authentic information
regarding its ancient history. It sent out Aidan to Northumberland,
and numerous successors after him, and there is much presumptive
evidence that many of these early missionaries took their departure
from Scotland, and carried with them their Scottish literature to the
Continent of Europe. And the language of the writers is no evidence
to the contrary. In so far as the Gaelic was written at this early
period, the dialect used was common to Ireland and Scotland. To say
that a work is Irish because written in what is called the Irish
dialect is absurd. There was no such thing as an Irish dialect.
The written language of the whole Gaelic race was long the same
throughout, and it would have been impossible for any man to have
said to which of the sections into which that race was divided any
piece of writing belonged. This has long been evident to men who
have made a study of the question, but recent relics of Scottish
Gaelic which have come to light, and have been published, put the
matter beyond a doubt. Mr Whitley Stokes, than whom there is no
better authority, has said of a passage in the “Book of Deer” that
the language of it is identical with that of the MSS. which form the
basis of the learned grammar of Zeuss: and there can be no doubt
that the “Book of Deer” is of Scottish authorship. It is difficult
to convince Irish scholars of this, but it is no less true on that
account. Indeed, what is called the Irish dialect has been employed
for literary purposes in Scotland down to a recent period, the first
book in the vernacular of the Scottish Highlands having been printed
so lately as the middle of last century. And it is important to
observe that this literary dialect, said to be Irish, is nearly as
far apart from the ordinary Gaelic vernacular of Ireland as it is
from that of Scotland.

But besides this possibility of having writings that are really
Scottish counted as Irish from their being written in the same
dialect, the Gaelic literature of Scotland has suffered from other
causes. Among these were the changes in the ecclesiastical condition
of the country which took place from time to time. First of all there
was the change which took place under the government of Malcolm
III. (Ceann-mor) and his sons, which led to the downfall of the
ancient Scottish Church, and the supplanting of it by the Roman
Hierarchy. Any literature existing in the 12th century would have
been of the older church, and would have little interest for the
institution which took its place. That there was such a literature
is obvious from the “Book of Deer,” and that it existed among all
the institutions of a like kind in Scotland is a fair and reasonable
inference from the existence and character of that book. Why this
is the only fragment of such a literature remaining is a question
of much interest, which may perhaps be solved by the fact that
the clergy of the later church could have felt little interest in
preserving the memorials of a period which they must have been glad
to have seen passed away. Then the Scottish Reformation and the rise
of the Protestant Church, however favourable to literature, would
not have been favourable to the preservation of such literature. The
old receptacles of such writings were broken up, and their contents
probably destroyed or dispersed, as associated with what was now
felt to be a superstitious worship. There is reason to believe that
the Kilbride collection of MSS. now in the Advocates’ Library, and
obtained from the family of Maclachlan of Kilbride, was to some
extent a portion of the old library of Iona, one of the last Abbots
of which was a Ferquhard M’Lachlan.

Besides these influences, unfavourable to the preservation of the
ancient literature of the Scottish Highlands, we have the fierce raid
of Edward I. of England into the country, and the carrying away of
all the national muniments. Some of these were in all probability
Gaelic. A Gaelic king and a Gaelic kingdom were then things not long
past in Scotland; and seeing they are found elsewhere, is there not
reason to believe that among them were lists of Scottish and Pictish
kings, and other documents of historical importance, such as formed
the basis of those Bardic addresses made by the royal bards to the
kings on the occasion of their coronation? These might have been
among the records afterwards intended to be returned to Scotland,
and which perished in the miserable shipwreck of the vessel that
bore them. These causes may account for the want of a more extensive
ancient Celtic literature in Scotland, and for the more advantageous
position occupied in this respect by Ireland. Ireland neither
suffered from the popular feeling evoked at the Reformation, nor
from the spoliations of an Edward of England, as Scotland did. And
hence the abundant remains still existing of a past literature there.

And yet Scotland does not altogether want an ancient Celtic
literature, and the past few years have done much to bring it to
light. It is not impossible that among our public libraries and
private repositories relics may be still lying of high interest and
historical value, and which more careful research may yet bring into
view. The Dean of Lismore’s book has only been given to the world
within the last six years, and more recently still we have the “Book
of Deer,” a relic of the 11th or 12th century.

On taking a survey of this literature, it might be thought most
natural to commence with the Ossianic remains, both on account of the
prominence which they have received and the interest and controversy
they have excited, and also because they are held by many to have
a claim to the highest antiquity,--to be the offspring of an age
not later than the 2d or 3d century. But it is usual to associate
literature with writing, and as the Gaelic language has been a
written one from a very early period, we think it best to keep up
this association, and to take up the written remains of the language
as nearly as may be in their chronological order. The first of these
to which reference may be made is


This poem is found in a MS. given to the Highland Society by Lord
Bannatyne, and now in the archives of the Advocates’ Library. The
date of the MS. is 1208, but there is every reason to believe that
the poem is of much higher antiquity. The preserved copy bears to
have been written at Glenmasan, a mountain valley in the parish
of Dunoon, in Cowal. The MS. contains other fragments of tales in
prose, but we shall refer only to the poetical story of Deirdre,
or, as it is usually called in Gaelic, “Dàn Chloinn Uisneachain.”
The tale is a famous one in the Highlands, and the heroes of it,
the sons of Usnoth, have given name to Dun Mhac Uisneachain, or Dun
Mac Sniochain, said to be the Roman _Beregonium_, in the parish of
Ardchattan in Argyleshire. We give the following version of the poem
as it appears in the Report of the Highland Society on the Poems of
Ossian (p. 298).

_Do dech Deardir ar a héise ar crichibh Alban, agus ro chan an

      Inmain tir in tir ud thoir,
      Alba cona lingantaibh
      Nocha tiefuinn eisdi ille
      Mana tisain le Naise.
      Inmain Dun Fidhgha is Dun Finn
      Inmain in Dun os a cinn
      Inmain Inis Draignde
      Is inmain Dun Sùibnei.
      Caill cuan gar tigeadh Ainnle mo nuar
      Fagair lim ab bitan
      Is Naise an oirear Alban.
      Glend Laidh do chollain fan mboirmin caoimh
      Iasg is sieng is saill bruich
      Fa hi mo chuid an Glend laigh.
      Glend masain ard a crimh geal a gasain
      Do nimais colladh corrach
      Os Inbhhar mungach Masain.
      Glend Eitchi ann do togbhus mo ched tigh
      Alaind a fidh iar neirghe
      Buaile grene Ghlind eitchi.
      Mo chen Glend Urchaidh
      Ba hedh in Glend direach dromchain
      Uallcha feara aoisi ma Naise
      An Glend Urchaidh.
      Glend da ruadh
      Mo chen gach fear da na dual
      Is binn guth cuach
      Ar cracib chruim
      Ar in mbinn os Glenndaruadh
      Inmain Draighen is tren traigh
      Inmain Auichd in ghainimh glain
      Nocha tiefuin eisde anoir
      Mana tisuinn lem Inmain.

_English Translation._

_Deirdre looked back on the land of Alban, and sung this lay_:--

      Beloved is that eastern land,
      Alba (Scotland), with its lakes.
      Oh that I might not depart from it,
      Unless I were to go with Naos!
      Beloved is Dunfigha and Dunlin.
      Beloved is the Dun above it.
      Beloved is Inisdraiyen (Imstrynich?),
      And beloved is Dun Sween.
      The forest of the sea to which Ainnle would come, alas!
      I leave for ever,
      And Naos, on the sea-coast of Alban.
      Glen Lay (Glen Luy?), I would sleep by its gentle murmur.
      Fish and venison, and the fat of meat boiled,
      Such would be my food in Glen Lay.
      Glenmasan! High is its wild garlic, fair its branches.
      I would sleep wakefully
      Over the shaggy Invermasan.
      Glen Etive! in which I raised my first house,
      Delightful were its groves on rising
      When the sun struck on Glen Etive.
      My delight was Glen Urchay;
      It is the straight vale of many ridges.
      Joyful were his fellows around Naos
      In Glen Urchay.
      Glendaruadh (Glendaruel?),
      My delight in every man who belongs to it.
      Sweet is the voice of the cuckoo
      On the bending tree,
      Sweet is it above Glendaruadh.
      Beloved is Drayen of the sounding shore!
      Beloved is Avich (Dalavich?) of the pure sand.
      Oh that I might not leave the east
      Unless it were to come along with me! Beloved--

There is some change in the translation as compared with that given
in the Highland Society’s Report, the meaning, however, being
nearly identical in both. The tale to which this mournful lyric is
attached,--the story of the children of Usnoth and their sad fate,
bears that Conor was king of Ulster. Visiting on one occasion the
house of Feilim, his _seanachie_, Feilim’s wife, was delivered of
a daughter while the king was in the house. Cathbad the Druid, who
was present, prophesied that many disasters should befall Ulster on
account of the child then born. The king resolved to bring her up as
his own future wife, and for this end enclosed her in a tower where
she was excluded from all intercourse with men, except her tutor,
her nurse, and an attendant called Lavarcam. It happened that in the
course of time, by means of this Lavarcam, she came to see Naos,
the son of Usnoth. She at once formed a warm affection for him; the
affection was reciprocated, and Naos and Deirdre, by which name the
young woman was called, fled to Scotland, accompanied by Ainle and
Ardan, the brothers of Naos. Here they were kindly received by the
king, and had lands given them for their support. It is not unlikely
that these lands were in the neighbourhood of Dun Mhac Uisneachain in
Lorn. Here they lived long and happily. At length Conor desired their
return, and sent a messenger to Scotland, promising them welcome
and security in Ireland if they would but return. Deirdre strongly
objected, fearing the treachery of Conor, but she was overruled by
the urgency of her husband and his brothers. They left Scotland,
Deirdre composing and singing the above mournful lay. In Ireland
they were at first received with apparent kindness, but soon after
the house in which they dwelt was surrounded by Conor and his men,
and after deeds of matchless valour the three brothers were put to
death, in defiance of Conor’s pledge. The broken hearted Deirdre
cast herself on the grave of Naos and died, having first composed
and sung a lament for his death. This is one of the most touching
in the catalogue of Celtic tales; and it is interesting to observe
the influence it exerted over the Celtic mind by its effect upon
the topographical nomenclature of the country. There are several
Dun Deirdres to be found still. One is prominent in the vale of
the Nevis, near Fortwilliam, and another occupies the summit of
a magnificent rock overhanging Loch Ness, in Stratherrick. Naos,
too, has given his name to rocks, and woods, and lakes ranging from
Ayrshire to Inverness-shire, but the most signal of all is the great
lake which fills the eastern portion of the Caledonian valley, Loch
Ness. The old Statistical Account of Inverness states that the name
of this lake was understood to be derived from some mythical person
among the old Celts; and there can be little doubt that the person
was Naos. The lake of Naos (_Naise_ in the genitive), lies below, and
overhanging it is the Tower of Deirdre. The propinquity is natural,
and the fact is evidence of the great antiquity of the tale.

There are other MSS. of high antiquity in existence said to be
Scotch; but it is sufficient to refer for an account of these to
the Appendix to the Report of the Highland Society on the Poems of
Ossian, an account written by an admirable Celtic scholar, Dr Donald
Smith, the brother of Dr John Smith of Campbeltown, so distinguished
in the same field.

The next relic of Celtic literature to which we refer is


This is a vellum MS. of eighty-six folios, about six inches long by
three broad, discovered in the University Library of Cambridge, by
Mr Bradshaw, the librarian of the University. It had belonged to
a distinguished collector of books, Bishop Moore of Norwich, and
afterwards of Ely, whose library was presented to the University
more than a century ago. The chief portion of the book is in Latin,
and is said to be as old as the 9th century. This portion contains
the Gospel of St John, and portions of the other three Gospels. The
MS. also contains part of an Office for the visitation of the sick,
and the Apostles’ Creed. There is much interest in this portion
of the book as indicative of the state of learning in the Celtic
Church at the time. It shows that the ecclesiastics of that Church
kept pace with the age in which they lived, that they knew their
Bible, and could both write and read in Latin. The MS. belonged to
a Culdee establishment, and is therefore a memorial of the ancient
Celtic Church. It is a pity that we possess so few memorials of
that Church, convinced as we are that, did we know the truth, many
of the statements made regarding it by men of a different age, and
belonging to a differently constituted ecclesiastical system, would
be found to be unsupported by the evidence. It is strange that if
the Culdee establishments were what many modern writers make them to
have been, they should have had so many tokens of their popularity as
this volume exhibits; and we know well that that Church did not fall
before the assaults of a hostile population, but before those of a
hostile king.

But the more interesting portion of the _Book of Deer_, in connection
with our inquiry, will be found in the Gaelic entries on the margin
and in the vacant spaces of the volume. These have all been given
to the world in the recent publication of portions of the book by
the Spalding Club, under the editorship of Dr John Stuart. Celtic
scholars are deeply indebted to the Spalding Club for this admirable
publication, and although many of them will differ from the editor in
some of the views which he gives in his accompanying disquisitions,
and even in some of the readings of the Gaelic, they cannot but feel
indebted to him for the style in which he has furnished them with
the original, for it is really so, in the plates which the volume
contains. On these every man can comment for himself and form his own
inferences. We have given ours in this MS.


Columcille acusdrostán mac cosgreg adálta tangator áhi marroalseg día
doíb goníc abbordobóir acusbéde cruthnec robomormær bûchan aragínn
acusessé rothídnaíg dóib ingathráig sáin insaere gobraíth ómormaer
acusóthóséc. tangator asááthle sen incathráig ele acusdoráten
ricolumcille sì iàrfallán dórath dé acusdorodloeg arinmormær i bédé
gondas tabràd dó acusníthárat acusrogab mac dó galár iarnéré naglerêc
acusrobomaréb act mádbec iarsén dochuíd inmormaer dattác naglerec
gondendæs ernaede les inmac gondisád slánté dó acusdórat inedbaírt
doíb uácloic intiprat goníce chlóic petti mic garnáit doronsat
innernaede acustanic slante dó; larsén dorat collumcille dódrostan
inchadráig sén acusrosbenact acusforacaib imbrether gebe tisaid
ris nabad blienec buadacc tangator deara drostán arscartháin fri
collumcille rolaboir columcille bedeár áním ó húnn ímácé.

_English Translation._

Columcille and Drostan, son of Cosgreg, his pupil, came from I as God
revealed to them to Aberdour, and Bede the Pict was Mormaor of Buchan
before them, and it was he who gifted to them that town in freedom
for ever from mormaor and toiseach. After that they came to another
town, and it pleased Columcille, for it was full of the grace of God,
and he asked it of the Mormaor, that is Bede, that he would give it
to him, and he would not give it, and a son of his took a sickness
after refusing the clerics, and he was dead but a little. After that
the Mormaor went to entreat of the clerics that they would make
prayer for the son that health might come to him, and he gave as an
offering to them from Cloch an tiprat (the stone of the well) as far
as Cloch Pit mac Garnad (the stone of Pitmacgarnad). They made the
prayer, and health came to him. After that Collumcille gave that town
to Drostan, and he blessed it, and left the word, Whosoever comes
against it, let him not be long-lived or successful. Drostan’s tears
came (Deara) on separating from Collumcille. Collumcille said, Let
Deer (Tear) be its name from hence forward.

Such is the legend of the foundation of the old monastery of Deer,
as preserved in this book, and written probably in the twelfth
century. It was in all probability handed down from the close of
the sixth or from a later period, but it must not be forgotten that
a period of six hundred years had elapsed between the events here
recorded and the record itself as it appears. It is hard to say
whether Columba ever made this expedition to Buchan, or whether
Drostan, whose name is in all likelihood British, lived in the time
of Columba. The Aberdeen Breviary makes him nephew of the saint, but
there is no mention of him in this or any other connection by early
ecclesiastical writers, and there is every reason to believe that he
belonged to a later period. It was of some consequence at this time
to connect any such establishment as that at Deer with the name of
Columba. There is nothing improbable in its having been founded by

It is interesting to observe several things which are brought to
light by this legend of the twelfth century. It teaches us what the
men of the period believed regarding the sixth. The ecclesiastics of
Deer believed that their own institution had been founded so early
as the sixth century, and clearly that they were the successors of
the founders. If this be true, gospel light shone among the Picts
of Buchan almost as soon as among the people of Iona. It has been
maintained that previous to Columba’s coming to Scotland the country
had felt powerfully the influence of Christianity,[96] and the
legend of Deer would seem to corroborate the statement. From the
palace of Brude the king, in the neighbourhood of Inverness, on to
the dwelling of the Mormaor, or Governor of Buchan, Christianity
occupied the country so early as the age of Columba. But this is a
legend, and must not be made more of than it is worth. Then this
legend gives us some view of the civil policy of the sixth century,
as the men of the twelfth viewed it. The chief governor of Buchan
was Bede, the same name with that of the venerable Northumbrian
historian of the eighth century. He is simply designated as Cruthnec
(Cruithneach) or the Pict. Was this because there were other
inhabitants in the country besides Picts at the time, or because they
were Picts in contrast with the people of that day? The probability
is, that these writers of the twelfth century designated Bede as a
Pict, in contradistinction to themselves, who were probably of Scotic
origin. Then the names in this document are of interest. Besides
that of Bede, we have Drostan and Cosgreg, his father, and Garnaid.
Bede, Drostan, Cosgreg, and Garnaid, are names not known in the
Gaelic nomenclature of Scotland or Ireland. And there are names of
places, Aberdobhoir, known as Aberdour to this day, Buchan also in
daily use, Cloch in tiprat not known now, and Pit mac garnaid also
become obsolete. Aberdobhoir (Aberdwfr) is purely a British name;
Buchan, derived from the British _Bwch_, a cow, is also British;
Pit mac garnaid, with the exception of the Mac, is not Gaelic, so
that the only Gaelic name in the legend is Cloch in tiprat, a merely
descriptive term. This goes far to show what the character of the
early topography of Scotland really is.

Then there is light thrown upon the civil arrangements of the Celtic
state. We read nothing of chiefs and clans, but we have Mormaors
(great officers), and Toiseachs (leaders), the next officer in point
of rank, understood to be connected with the military arrangements
of the country, the one being the head of the civil and the other of
the military organisation. At this time there was a Celtic kingdom
in Scotland, with a well established and well organised government,
entirely different from what appears afterwards under the feudal
system of the Anglo-Saxons, when the people became divided into
clans, each under their separate chiefs, waging perpetual war with
each other. Of all this the Book of Deer cannot and does not speak
authoritatively, but it indicates the belief of the twelfth century
with regard to the state of the sixth.

The farther Gaelic contents of the Book of Deer are notices of grants
of land conferred by the friends of the institution. None of these
are real charters, but the age of charters had come, and it was
important that persons holding lands should have some formal title
to them. Hence the notices of grants inscribed on the margin of this
book, all without date, save that there is a copy of a Latin charter
of David I., who began his reign in the year 1124.

The _memoranda_ of grants to the monastery are in one case headed
with the following blessing--_Acus bennact inchomded arcecmormar
acusarcectosech chomallfas acusdansil daneis_. “And the blessing
of the one God on every governor and every leader who keeps this,
and to their seed afterwards.” The first grant recorded follows
immediately after the legend given above. It narrates that Comgeall
mac eda gave from Orti to Furene to Columba and to Drostan; that
Moridach M’Morcunn gave Pit mac Garnait and Achad toche temni, the
former being Mormaor and the latter Toiseach. Matain M’Caerill gave
a Mormaor’s share in Altin (not Altere, as in the Spalding Club’s
edition), and Culn (not Culii) M’Batin gave the share of a Toiseach.
Domnall M’Giric and Maelbrigte M’Cathail gave Pett in muilenn to
Drostan. Cathal M’Morcunt gave Achad naglerech to Drostan. Domnall
M’Ruadri and Malcolum M’Culeon gave Bidbin to God and to Drostan.
Malcolum M’Cinatha (Malcolm the Second) gave a king’s share in Bidbin
and in Pett M’Gobroig, and two davachs above Rosabard. Malcolum
M’Mailbrigte gave the Delerc. Malsnecte M’Luloig gave Pett Malduib
to Drostan. Domnall M’Meic Dubhacin sacrificed every offering to
Drostan. Cathal sacrificed in the same manner his Toiseach’s share,
and gave the food of a hundred every Christmas, and every Pasch to
God and to Drostan. Kenneth Mac meic Dobarcon and Cathal gave Alterin
alla from Te (Tigh) na Camon as far as the birch tree between the
two Alterins. Domnall and Cathal gave Etdanin to God and to Drostan.
Cainneach and Domnall and Cathal sacrificed all these offerings to
God and to Drostan from beginning to end free, from Mormaors and from
Toiseachs to the day of judgment.

It will be observed that some of the words in this translation are
different from those given in the edition of the Spalding Club.
Some of the readings in that edition, notwithstanding its general
accuracy, are doubtful. In the case of _uethe na camone_, unless the
_ue_ is understood as standing for _from_, there is no starting point
at all in the passage describing the grant. Besides, we read Altin
allend, as the name of Altin or Alterin in another grant. This seems
to have escaped the notice of the learned translator.

These grants are of interest for various reasons. We have first of
all the names of the grantees and others, as the names common during
the twelfth and previous centuries, for these grants go back to a
period earlier than the reign of Malcolm the Second, when the first
change began to take place in the old Celtic system of polity. We
have such names as _Comgeall Mac Eda_, probably _Mac Aoidh_, or,
as spelt now in English, Mackay; _Moridach M’Morcunn_ (_Morgan_),
or, as now spelt, M’Morran; _Matain M’Caerill_, Matthew M’Kerroll;
_Culn M’Batin_, Colin M’Bean; _Domhnall M’Girig_, Donald M’Erig
(Gregor or Eric?); _Malbrigte M’Cathail_, Gilbert M’Kail; _Cathal
M’Morcunt_, Cathal M’Morran; _Domhnall M’Ruadri_, Donald M’Rory;
_Malcolum M’Culeon_, Malcolm M’Colin; _Malcolum M’Cinnatha_, Malcolm
M’Kenneth, now M’Kenzie. This was king Malcolm the Second, whose
Celtic designation is of the same character with that of the other
parties in the notice. _Malcolum M’Mailbrigte_, Malcolm M’Malbride;
the nearest approach to the latter name in present use is Gilbert.
Malsnecte M’Luloig, _Malsnechta M’Lulaich_. The former of these
names is obsolete, but M’Lullich is known as a surname to this day.
Domnall M’Meic Dubhacin (not Dubbacin), the latter name not known
now. The name _Dobharcon_ is the genitive of _Dobharcu_, an otter.
The names of animals were frequently applied to men at the time among
the Celts. The father of King Brude was _Mialchu_, a greyhound.
_Loilgheach_ (Lulach), a man’s name, is in reality a milch cow.

The next set of grants entered on the margin of this remarkable
record are as follows:--Donchad M’Meic Bead mec Hidid (probably the
same with Eda, and therefore Aoidh), gave Acchad Madchor to Christ
and to Drostan and to Columcille; Malechi and Comgell and Gillecriosd
M’Fingun witnesses, and Malcoluim M’Molini. Cormac M’Cennedig gave as
far as Scali merlec. Comgell M’Caennaig, the Toiseach of Clan Canan,
gave to Christ and to Drostan and to Columcille as far as the Gortlie
mor, at the part nearest to Aldin Alenn, from Dubuci to Lurchara,
both hill and field free from Toiseachs for ever, and a blessing on
those who observe, and a curse on those who oppose this.

The names here are different from those in the former entry, with
few exceptions. They are Duncan, son of Macbeth, son of Hugh or Ay,
Malachi, Comgall, Gilchrist M’Kinnon, and Malcolm M’Millan, Comgall
M’Caennaig (M’Coinnich or M’Kenzie?) In this entry we have the
place which is read Altere and Alterin by Mr Whitley Stokes. It is
here entered as Aldin Alenn, as it is in a former grant entered as
_Altin_. In no case is the _er_ written in full, so that Alterin
is a guess. But there is no doubt that _Aldin Alenn_ and _Alterin
alla_ are the same place. If it be _Alterin_ the _Alla_ may mean
rough, stony, as opposed to a more level and smooth place of the
same name. It will be observed that in this entry the name of a clan
appears _Clande Canan_ (_Clann Chanain_). There was such a clan in
Argyleshire who were treasurers of the Argyle family, and derived
their name from the Gaelic _Càin_, a Tax. It is not improbable that
the name in Buchan might have been applied to a family of hereditary

The next series of grants entered on the margin of the “Book of Deer”
are as follows:--Colbain Mormaor of Buchan, and Eva, daughter of
Gartnait, his wife, and Donnalic M’Sithig, the Toiseach of Clenni
Morgainn, sacrificed all the offerings to God and to Drostan, and to
Columcille, and to Peter the Apostle, from all the exactions made on
a portion of four _davachs_, from the high monasteries of Scotland
generally and the high churches. The witnesses are Brocein and
Cormac, Abbot of Turbruaid, and Morgann M’Donnchaid, and Gilli Petair
M’Donnchaid, and Malæchin, and the two M’Matni, and the chief men of
Buchan, all as witnesses in Elain (Ellon).

The names in this entry are Colban, the mormaor, a name obsolete
now--although it would seem to appear in M’Cubbin--Eva, and Gartnait.
The former seems to have been the Gaelic form of Eve, and the latter,
the name of Eva’s father, is gone out of use, unless it appear in
M’Carthy--Donnalic (it is Donnachac, as transcribed in the edition of
the Spalding Club), M’Sithig or Donnalic M’Keich, the surname well
known still in the Highlands--_Brocein_, the little badger, _Cormac_,
_Morgan_, _Gillepedair_, _Malæchin_, the servant of Eachainn or
Hector, and _M’Matni_ or M’Mahon, the English Matheson. There is
another instance here of a clan, the clan Morgan.

The most of these names must be understood merely as patronymic, the
son called, according to the Celtic custom, after the name of his
father. There is no reason to think that these were clan names in the
usual sense. King Malcolm II. is called _Malcolum M’Cinnatha_, or
Malcolm the son of Kenneth, but it would be sufficiently absurd to
conclude that Malcolm was a Mackenzie. And yet there are two clans
referred to in these remarkable records, the clan Canan and the clan
Morgan. There is no reason to believe that either the Buchanans of
Stirlingshire or of Argyleshire had any connection with the tribe of
Canan mentioned here; but it is possible that the Mackays of the Reay
country, whose ancient name was Clan Morgan, may have derived their
origin from Buchan. It is interesting to observe that the Toiseachs
are associated with these clans, _Comgell Mac Caennaig_ being called
the _Toiseach_ of Clan Canan, and _Donnalic M’Sithig_ the _Toiseach_
of Clan Morgan, although neither of the men are designated by the
clan name. It would seem that under the _Mormaors_ the family system
existed and was acknowledged, the _Mormaor_ being the representative
of the king, and the _Toiseach_ the head of the sept, who led his
followers to battle when called upon to do so. At the same time
the clan system would seem to have been in an entirely different
condition from that to which it attained after the introduction of
the feudal system, when the chiefs for the first time got feudal
titles to their lands.

Many other inferences might be made from these interesting records.
It is enough, however, to say that they prove beyond a question the
existence of a literary culture and a social organisation among the
ancient Celts for which they do not always get credit; and if such
a book existed at Deer, what reason is there to doubt that similar
books were numerously dispersed over the other ecclesiastical
institutions of the country?

There is one curious entry towards the close of the MS.--“_Forchubus
caichduini imbia arrath in lebran colli. aratardda bendacht foranmain
in truagan rodscribai_ ... 7,” which is thus translated by Mr Whitley
Stokes:--“Be it on the conscience of every one in whom shall be for
grace the booklet with splendour: that he give a blessing on the soul
of the wretchock who wrote it.”

This is probably the true meaning of the Gaelic. But the original
might be rendered in English by the following translation:--“Let it
be on the conscience of each man in whom shall be for good fortune
the booklet with colour, that he give a blessing on the soul of the
poor one who wrote it.” _Rath_ is good fortune, and _li_ is colour,
referring probably to the coloured portions of the writing, and
_Truaghan_ is the Gaelic synonym of the “miserus” or “miserimus” of
the old Celtic church. Mr Whitley Stokes, as quoted by Dr Stuart,
says (p. lx), “In point of language this is identical with the oldest
Irish glosses in Zeuss’ _Grammatica Celtica_.”


This relic of Celtic literature might have been taken as
chronologically preceding the Book of Deer, but while portions of the
latter are looked upon as having been written previous to the ninth
century, the former, so far as we know, is of the age of Malcolm III.
It is said to have been sung by the Gaelic bard of the royal house at
the coronation of Malcolm. It is transcribed here as it appears in
the _Chronicles of the Picts and Scots_, where it is given as copied
from the M’Firbis MS. in the Royal Irish Academy:--

      A eolcha Alban uile,
      A shluagh feuta foltbhuidhe,
      Cia ceud ghabhail, au còl duibh,
      Ro ghabhasdair Albanbruigh.

      Albanus ro ghabh, lià a shlogh,
      Mac sen oirderc Isicon,
      Brathair is Briutus gan brath,
      O raitear Alba eathrach.

      Ro ionnarb a brathair bras,
      Briutus tar muir n-Icht-n-amhnas,
      Ro gabh Briutus Albain ain,
      Go rinn fhiadhnach Fotudain.

      Fota iar m-Briutus m-blaith, m-bil,
      Ro ghabhsad Clanna Nemhidh,
      Erglan iar teacht as a loing,
      Do aithle thoghla thuir Conuing.

      Cruithnigh ros gabhsad iarttain,
      Tar ttiachtain a h-Erean-mhuigh,
      .X. righ tri fichid righ ran,
      Gabhsad diobh an Cruithean-chlar.

      Cathluan an ced righ diobh-soin,
      Aisnedhfead daoibh go cumair,
      Rob e an righ degheanach dhibh
      An cur calma Cusaintin.

      Clanna Eathach ina n-diaigh,
      Gabhsad Albain iar n-airdghliaidh,
      Clanna Conaire an chaomhfhir,
      Toghaidhe na treun Ghaoidhil.

      Tri mec Erc mec Eachdach ait,
      Triar fuair beannachtair Patraice,
      Ghabhsad Albain, ard a n-gus,
      Loarn, Fearghus, is Aonghus.

      Dech m-bliadhna Loarn, ler bladh,
      I fflaitheas Oirir Alban,
      Tar es Loarn fhel go n-gus,
      Seacht m-bliadhna ficheat Fearghus.

      Domhangart mac d’Fheargus ard,
      Aireamh cuig m bliadhan m-biothgarg,
      A .XXXIIII. gan troid,
      Do Comghall mac Domhangoirt.

      Da bhliadhan Conaing gan tair,
      Tar es Comhghaill do Gobhran,
      Ti bliadhna fo cuig gan roinn
      Ba ri Conall mac Comhghoill.

      Cethre bliadhna ficheat tall
      Ba ri Aodhan na n-iol-rann,
      Dech m-bliadhna fo seacht seol n-gle,
      I fflaitheas Eathach buidhe.

      Connchadh Cearr raithe, rel bladh,
      A .XVI. dia mac Fearchar,
      Tar es Ferchair, feaghaidh rainn,
      .XIIII. bliadhna Domhnaill.

      Tar es Domhnaill bric na m-bla,
      Conall, Dunghall .X. m-bliadhna,
      .XIII. bliadhna Domhnaill duinn
      Tar es Dunghail is Chonail.

      Maolduin mac Conaill na cereach
      A .XVII. do go dlightheach,
      Fearchair fadd, feagha leat,
      Do chaith bliadhain thar .XX.

      Da bliadhain Eachdach na-n-each,
      Ro ba calma an ri rightheach,
      Aoin bhliadhain ba flaith iarttain,
      Ainceallach maith mac Fearchair.

      Seachd m-bliadhna Dunghail dein,
      Acus a ceither do Ailpen,
      Tri bliadhna Muireadhiogh mhaith,
      .XXX. do Aodh na ardfhlaith.

      A ceathair ficheat, nir fhann,
      Do bhliadhnaibh do chaith Domhnall,
      Da bhliadhain Conaill, cem n-gle,
      Is a ceathair Chonall ele.

      Naoi m-bliadhna Cusaintin chain,
      A naoi Aongusa ar Albain,
      Cethre bliadhna Aodha ain,
      Is a tri deng Eoghanain.

      Triocha bliadhain Cionaoith chruaidh,
      A ceathair Domhnall drechruaidh,
      .XXX. bliadhain co na bhrigh,
      Don churadh do Cusaintin.

      Da bhliadhain, ba daor a dath,
      Da brathair do Aodh fhionnscothach,
      Domhnall mac Cusaintin chain,
      Ro chaith bliadhain fa cheathair.

      Cusaintin ba calma a ghleac,
      Ro chaith a se is da fhicheat,
      Maolcoluim cethre bliadhna,
      Iondolbh a h-ocht airdriagla.

      Seacht m-bliadhna Dubhod der.
      Acus a ceathair Cuilen,
      A .XXVII, os gach cloinn
      Do Cionaoth mac Maolcholuim.

      Seacht m-bliadhna Cusaintin cluin
      Acus a ceathair Macdhuibh
      Triochadh bliadhain, breacaid rainn
      Ba ri Monaidh Maolcoluim.

      Se bliadhna Donnchaid glain gaoith
      .XVII. bliadhna mac Fionnlaoich
      Tar es Mecbeathaidh go m-blaidh
      .vii mis i fflaithios Lughlaigh.

      Maolcholuim anosa as ri,
      Mac Donnchaidh dhata dhrechbhi,
      A re nocha n-fidir neach,
      Acht an t-eolach as eolach
                          A eolcha.

      Da righ for chaogad, cluine,
      Go mac Donnchaidh drech ruire,
      Do shiol Erc ardghlain anoir,
      Gabhsad Albain, a eolaigh.

_English Translation._

      Ye learned of Alban altogether
      Ye people shy, yellow-haired
      Which was the first invasion, do ye know
      That took the land of Alban?

      Albanus took it, active his men,
      That famous son of Isacon,
      The brother of Briutus without guile
      From whom Alba of the ships is said.

      Briutus banished his bold brother
      Over the stormy sea of Icht.
      Briutus took the beautiful Alban
      To the tempestuous promontory of Fotudan.

      Long after Briutus the noble, the good,
      The race of Neimhidh took it,
      Erglan, after coming out of his ship
      After the destruction of the tower of Conaing.

      The Cruithne took it after that
      On coming out of Erin of the plain,
      Seventy noble kings of them
      Took the Cruithnean plain.

      Cathluan was the first king of them,
      I tell it you in order,
      The last king of them was
      The brave hero Constantine.

      The children of Eochy after them
      Seized Alban after a great fight,
      The children of Conair, the gentle man,
      The choice of the brave Gael.

      Three sons of Erc the son of Eochy the joyous,
      Three who got the blessing of Patrick,
      Seized Alban; great was their courage,
      Lorn, Fergus, and Angus.

      Ten years to Lorn, by which was renown,
      In the sovereignty of Oirir Alban,
      After Lorn the generous and strong
      Seven and twenty years to Fergus.

      Domangart, son of the great Fergus,
      Had the number of five terrible years.
      Twenty-four years without a fight
      Were to Comghall son of Domangart.

      Two years of success without contempt
      After Comghall to Gobhran.
      Three years with five without division
      Was king Conall son of Comghall.

      Four and twenty peaceful years
      Was king Aodhan of many songs.
      Ten years with seven, a true tale,
      In sovereignty Eochy buy.

      Connchadh Cearr a quarter, star of renown,
      Sixteen years to his son Ferchar,
      After Ferchar, see the poems,
      Thirteen years to Donald.

      After Donald breac of the shouts,
      Was Conall, Dungal ten years,
      Thirteen years Donald Donn
      After Dungal and Conall.

      Maolduin, son of Conall of spoils,
      Seventeen years to him rightfully.
      Ferchar fadd, see you it
      Spent one year over twenty.

      Two years was Eochy of steeds,
      Bold was the king of palaces.
      One year was king after that
      Aincellach the good, son of Ferchar.

      Seven years was Dungal the impetuous,
      And four to Ailpin.
      Three years Murdoch the good,
      Thirty to Aodh as high chief.

      Eighty, not feeble
      Years did Donald spend.
      Two years Conall, a noble course,
      And four another Conall.

      Nine years Constantine the mild,
      Nine Angus over Alban,
      Four years the excellent Aodh,
      And thirteen Eoghanan.

      Thirty years Kenneth the hardy,
      Four Donald of ruddy face,
      Thirty years with effect
      To the hero, to Constantine.

      Two years, sad their complexion,
      To his brother Aodh the youthfully fair,
      Donald, son of Constantine the mild,
      Spent a year above four.

      Constantine, bold was his conflict
      Spent forty and six.
      Malcolm four years.
      Indulf eight in high sovereignty.

      Seven years Dubhoda the impetuous,
      And four Cuilen.
      And twenty-seven over all the tribes
      To Kenneth the son of Malcolm.

      Seven years Constantine, listen,
      And four to Macduff,
      Thirty years, the verses mark it,
      Was king of Monaidh, Malcolm.

      Six years was Duncan of pure wisdom,
      Seventeen years the son of Finlay,
      After him Macbeth with renown,
      Seven months in sovereignty Lulach.

      Malcolm is now the king,
      Son of Duncan the yellow-coloured,
      His time knoweth no one
      But the knowing one who is knowing,
                          Ye learned.

      Two kings over fifty, listen,
      To the son of Duncan of coloured face,
      Of the seed of Erc the noble, in the east,
      Possessed Alban, ye learned.

Although this poem is given in Gaelic as it appears in the
_Chronicles of the Picts and Scots_,[97] the English translation
differs in some places. At p. 60 _Tri bliadhna fo cuig_[98] is
translated by Mr Skene “three years five times,” while in the same
page _dech m-bliadhna fo seacht_ is translated “ten years and
seven.” There is no apparent ground for such a distinction. So in
p. 61 _ceathar ficheat_, eighty, is translated “four and twenty,”
which is at variance with the usus of the Gaelic language. The above
translation seems the true one.

This poem is manifestly of great antiquity and of deep historical
interest. Of the authorship little is known. It has been suggested
that it is of Irish origin.[99] This is possible, for judging by
the synchronisms of Flann Mainistreach, the Irish seanachies were
well informed on Scottish matters. But whether Irish or not, the
whole poem refers to Scotland, and is entitled to a place among the
Celtic remains of the country. It is our oldest and most authentic
record of the Scottish kings, and in this respect commended itself
to the regard of Pinkerton, who was no friend of anything that was
creditable to the Celts or helped to establish their claims.


The name of Muireadhach Albannach is well known among the literary
traditions of Celtic Scotland. In a curious genealogy by Lachlan Mac
Mhuireadhaich or Vuirich, usually called Lachlan M’Pherson, given
in the Report of the Highland Society of Scotland on Ossian,[100]
the said Lachlan traces his own genealogy back through eighteen
generations to this Muireadhach or Murdoch of Scotland, and states
that his ancestors were bards to M’Donald of Clanronald during the
period. The original Murdoch was an ecclesiastic, and has probably
given their name to the whole M’Pherson clan. There is a curious
poetical dialogue given in the Dean of Lismore’s Book between him and
Cathal Cròdhearg, King of Connaught, who flourished in the close of
the 12th century, upon their entering at the same time on a monastic
life. The poem would seem to show Murdoch to have been a man of high
birth, while his own compositions are evidence both of his religious
earnestness and his poetical talent. Until the publication of the
Dean of Lismore’s book, it was not known that there were any remains
of his compositions in existence, but that collection contains
several, all on religious subjects. The following is a specimen
of his composition, and of the Gaelic poetry of the 12th or 13th

      Mithich domh triall gu tigh Pharais,
      ’N uair a’ ghuin gun e soirbh.
      Cosnaim an tigh treun gun choire,
      Gun sgeul aig neach ’eil oirnn.
      Dean do sriuth ri do shagairt
      ’S coir cuimhne ach gu dlù umad ole.
      Na beir do thigh righ gun agh
      Sgeul a’s priomh ri agradh ort.
      Na dean folchainn a’d pheacadh,
      Ge grain ri innseadh a h-ole;
      Leigeadh de’d chuid an cleith diomhar,
      Mur be angair a gabhail ort.
      Dean do shith ris an luchd-dreuchd,
      Ge dona, ge anmhuinn le’d chor,
      Sguir ri’d lochd, do ghul dean domhain,
      Mu’m bi olc ri fhaighinn ort.
      Mairg a threigeadh tigh an Ardrigh,
      Aig ghràdh peacaidh, turagh an ni,
      An t-olc ni duine gu diomhair
      Iomadh an sin fiachan mu’n ghniomh.
      Aig so searmoin do shiol an Adhaimh,
      Mar shaoilim nach bheil se an bhreug,
      Fulang a bhais seal gu seachainn
      An fear nach domh gu’n teid.
      Fhir a cheannaich siol an Adhaimh
      D’fhuil, a cholla, ’us da chridhe,
      Air a reir gu’n deanadh sealga,
      Ger ge dian ri ’m pheacadh mi.

_English Translation._

      ’Tis time for me to go to the house of Paradise
      While this wound is not easily borne,
      Let me win this house, famous, faultless,
      While others can tell nought else of us.
      Confess thyself now to thy priest,
      Remember clearly all thy sins;
      Carry not to the house of the spotless King
      Aught that may thee expose to charge.
      Conceal not any of thy sins
      However hateful its evil to tell;
      Confess what has been done in secret,
      Lest thou expose thyself to wrath;
      Make thy peace now with the clergy
      That thou mayst be safe as to thy state;
      Give up thy sin, deeply repent,
      Lest its guilt be found in thee.
      Woe to him forsook the great King’s house
      For love of sin, sad is the deed;
      The sin a man commits in secret
      Much is the debt his sin incurs.
      This is a sermon for Adam’s race,
      I think I’ve nothing said that’s false,
      Though men may death for a time avoid,
      ’Tis true they can’t at length escape.
      Thou who hast purchased Adam’s race,
      Their blood, their body, and their heart,
      The things we cherish thou dost assail
      However I may sin pursue[101]

It is not necessary to give farther specimens of Murdoch of
Scotland’s poetry here, as those existing are very similar to the
above; but several specimens will be found in the Dean of Lismore’s
Book, from which the above is taken. The original has been difficult
to read, and in consequence to render accurately, but there is little
doubt that the real meaning of the poem is given. If the Book of Deer
be a specimen of the Gaelic at the close of the 12th century in the
east of Scotland, the above is a specimen of the same language from
the west, probably from the Hebrides.


In 1408, Donald, Lord of the Isles, the hero of Harlaw, made a grant
of lands in Islay to Brian Vicar Mackay, one of the old Mackays of
the island. The charter conveying these lands still exists, and
is written in the Gaelic language. As it is now published by the
Record Commission, it is not necessary to give it here, but it is a
document of much interest, written by Fergus M’Beth or Beaton, one
of the famous Beatons who were physicians to the Lord of the Isles,
and signed with the holograph of the great island chief himself.
The lands conveyed are in the eastern part of the island, north of
the Mull of Oa, and embrace such well-known places as Baile-Vicar,
Cornabus, Tocamol, Cracobus, &c. The style of the charter is that
of the usual feudal charters written in Latin, but the remarkable
thing is to find a document of the kind written in Gaelic at a time
when such a thing was almost unknown in the Saxon dialects of either
Scotland or England.


The Highlands seem to have had a large number of men of letters
during the 15th century, and most of our existing manuscript
materials seem to be of that age. These materials are of various
kinds. They consist of short theological treatises, with traditional
anecdotes of saints and others which seem to have been prevalent
in the church at the time. One of the theological treatises now in
the library of the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, has reference
to the Sacrament of the Supper, and maintains the purely Protestant
doctrine that the sacrament can only profit those who receive it in
faith. There are anecdotes of priests, often called by the Gaelic
name of _maighistir_, which would indicate that the priests of the
period had wives, and that the doctrine of celibacy had not then
entered the Scottish church.

Some of the manuscripts are genealogical, and as such are of much
value to the Scottish historian. They show what the ideas of the
_seanachies_ of the thirteenth century were regarding the origin
of the Highland clans. Some of these genealogical records have
been published by the Iona Club, and are in this way accessible to
the general reader. They are indicative of the care taken at the
period to preserve memorials of family history, and were of value
not only as conducing to the gratification of family pride, but to
the preservation of family property, inasmuch as these were the
only means in accordance with which succession to property could
be determined. The consequence is, that they are not always very
reliable, favour being apt to bias the recorder on one side, just
as enmity and ill-will were apt to bias him on the other. It is
remarkable how ready the _seanachy_ of a hostile clan was to proclaim
the line of the rival race illegitimate. This affects the value of
these records, but they are valuable notwithstanding, and are to a
considerable extent reliable, especially within the period where
authentic information could be obtained by the writer.

A portion of these manuscripts deals with medical and metaphysical
subjects, the two being often combined. We are hardly prepared to
learn to how great an extent these subjects were studied at an
early period in the Highlands. We are apt to think that the region
was a barbarous one without either art or science. A sight of the
sculptures which distinguished the 14th and 15th centuries is prone
to remove this impression. We find a style of sculpture still
remaining in ancient crosses and gravestones that is characteristic
of the Highlands; elaborate ornaments of a distinct character, rich
and well executed tracery, figures well designed and finished. Such
sculptures, following upon those of the prehistoric period found
still within the ancient Pictish territory, exist chiefly throughout
the West Highlands, and indicate that one art, at least, of native
growth, distinguished the Gaelic Celts of the Middle Ages.

The medical manuscripts existing are chiefly the productions of the
famous Macbeths or Beatons, the hereditary physicians of the Lords
of the Isles for a long series of years. The charter of lands in
Islay, already referred to, drawn out by Fergus Beaton, is of a date
as early as 1408, and three hundred years after, men of the same
race are found occupying the same position. Hereditary physicians
might seem to offer but poor prospects to their patients, and that
especially at a time when schools of medicine were almost if not
altogether unknown in the country; but the fact is, that this was
the only mode in which medical knowledge could be maintained at
all. If such knowledge were not transmitted from father to son, the
probability was that it would perish, just as was the case with
the genealogical knowledge of the _seanachies_. This transmission,
however, was provided for in the Celtic system, and while there
was no doubt a considerable difference between individuals in the
succession in point of mental endowments, they would all possess a
certain measure of skill and acquirement as the result of family
experience. These men were students of their science as it existed at
the time. The Moors were then the chief writers on medicine. Averroes
and Avicenna were men whose names were distinguished, and whose
works, although little known now, extended to folios. Along with
their real and substantial scientific acquirements, they dived deep
into the secrets of Astrology, and our Celtic students, while ready
disciples of them in the former study, followed them most faithfully
and zealously in the latter likewise. There are numerous medical
and astrological treatises still existing written in the Gaelic
language, and taken chiefly from the works of Moorish and Arabian
writers. How these works reached the Scottish Highlands it is hard
to say, nor is it easier to understand how the ingredients of the
medical prescriptions of these practitioners could be obtained in
a region so inaccessible at the time. The following specimen of the
written Gaelic of medical manuscripts, is taken from Dr O’Donovan’s

  “Labhrum anois do leighes na h-eslainti so oir is eígin nethi imda
  d’fhaghbhail d’a leighes; ocus is é céd leighes is ferr do dhénamh
  dhi. 1. na lenna truaillighthi do glanad maille caterfusia; óir
  a deir Avicenna ’s an 4 Cān. co n-déin in folmhughadh na leanna
  loisgi d’inarbad. An 2.ní oilemhain bidh ocus dighi d’ordughadh
  dóibh; an tres ní, an t-adhbhar do dhileaghadh; an 4.ní a
  n-innarbadh go h-imlán; an 5.ní, fothraiethi do dhénum dóibh; an
  6.ní, is eígin lictuber comhfhurtachta do thobhairt dóib. An 7.ní,
  is eígin neithi noch aentuighius riu do thobhairt dóib muna roib an
  corp línta do droch-leannaíbh.”

_English Translation._

  “Let me now speak of the cure of this disease (scurvy), for many
  things must be got for its cure; the first cure which is best to be
  made is to clean the corrupt humours with caterfusia; for Avicenna
  says in the fourth Canon that evacuation causes an expulsion of the
  burnt humours. The second thing, to order the patients a proper
  regimen of meat and drink; the third thing, to digest the matter;
  the fourth thing, to expel them completely; the fifth thing, to
  prepare a bath for them; the sixth, it is necessary to give them
  strengthening lictub. The seventh, it is necessary to give them such
  things as agree with them, unless the body be full of bad humours.”

This extract is taken from an Irish manuscript, but the language is
identical with that in use in the writings of the Beatons. Celtic
Scotland and Celtic Ireland followed the same system in medicine as
in theology and poetry.

The metaphysical discussions, if they may be so called, are very
curious, being characterised by the features which distinguished
the science of metaphysics at the time. The most remarkable thing
is that there are Gaelic terms to express the most abstract ideas
in metaphysics;--terms which are now obsolete, and would not be
understood by any ordinary Gaelic speaker. A perusal of these ancient
writings shows how much the language has declined, and to what an
extent it was cultivated at an early period. So with astrology, its
terms are translated and the science is fully set forth. Tables are
furnished of the position of the stars by means of which to foretell
the character of future events. Whatever literature existed in
Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries, extended its influence to the
Scottish Highlands. The nation was by no means in such a state of
barbarism as some writers would lead us to expect. They had legal
forms, for we have a formal legal charter of lands written in Gaelic;
they had medical men of skill and acquirement; they had writers
on law and theology, and they had men skilled in architecture and


When the Highland Society of Scotland were engaged in preparing
their report on the poems of Ossian, they thought it important to
search with all possible diligence after such sources of ancient
Gaelic poetry as might have been open to Macpherson, and especially
for such written remains as might still be found in the country.
Among others they applied to the Highland Society of London, whose
secretary at the time, Mr John Mackenzie, was an enthusiastic
Highlander, and an excellent Gaelic scholar. The Society furnished
several interesting manuscripts which they had succeeded in
collecting, and among these an ancient paper book which has since
been called the “Book of the Dean of Lismore.” This book, which now
lies in the library of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, is a
small quarto very much defaced, of about seven inches square, and one
inch and a quarter in thickness. It is bound in a piece of coarse
sheepskin, and seems to have been much tossed about. The manuscript
is written in what may be called phonetic Gaelic, the words being
spelled on the same principle as the Welsh and Manx, although the
application of the principle is very different. “Athair,” _father_,
is “Ayr;” “Saor,” _free_, is “Seyr;” “Fhuair,” _found_, is “Hoar;”
“Leodhas,” _Lewis_, is “Looyss;” “iuchair,” _a key_, is “ewthir;”
“ghràdh,” _love_, is “Zrau.” This principle of phonetic spelling,
with a partial admission of the Irish eclipsis and the Irish dot
in aspiration, distinguishes the whole manuscript, and has made it
very difficult to interpret. The letter used is the English letter
of the 15th and 16th centuries, and the MS. was transcribed by the
late Mr Ewen M’Lachlan of Aberdeen, an admirable Gaelic scholar. But
no attempt was made to transfer its contents into modern Gaelic, or
to interpret them, save in the case of a few fragments which were
transferred and interpreted by Dr Smith for the Highland Society.
Recently, however, the whole manuscript, with few exceptions, has
been transcribed, presented in a modern Gaelic dress, translated
and annotated, by the writer; and a historical introduction and
additional notes have been furnished by Dr W. F. Skene.

The volume is full of interest, as presenting a view of the native
literature of the Highlands in the 15th and 16th centuries, while
it contains productions of a much earlier age. The fragments which
it contains are both Scottish and Irish, showing how familiar the
bardic schools were with the productions of both countries. Much of
the contents consists of fragments of what is usually called Ossianic
poetry--compositions by Ossian, by Fergus filidh his brother, by
Conall MacEdirsceoil, by Caoilte M’Ronan, and by poets of a later
age, who imitated these ancient bards, such as Allan MacRorie,
Gilliecallum Mac an Olla, and others. The collection bears on one of
its pages the name “Jacobus M’Gregor decanus Lismorensis,” _James
M’Gregor, Dean of Lismore_, and it has been conjectured from this
fact and the resemblance of the writing in the signature to that of
the body of the manuscript, that this was the compiler of the work.
That the manuscript was the work of a M’Gregor is pretty evident.
It contains a series of obits of important men, most of them chiefs
and other men of note of the clan Gregor, and there are among the
poetical pieces of a date later than the Ossianic, numerous songs in
praise of that clan. It seems, however, that M’Gregor had a brother
called Dougal, who designates himself _daoroglach_, or “apprentice,”
who had some share in making the compilation. These M’Gregors
belonged to Fortingall in Perthshire, although James held office in
the diocese of Argyll. He was vicar of the parish of Fortingall, and
it is presumed usually resided there.

In giving specimens from M’Gregor’s collection, it may be desirable
to treat of the whole of what is called the Ossianic poetry. It is in
this collection that we find the earliest written specimens of it,
and although Macpherson’s Ossian did not appear for two centuries
later, it seems better to group the whole together in this portion
of our notice. The word “ursgeul” was applied by the Highlanders to
these poetical tales. This word has been translated “a _new_ tale,”
as if the _ùr_ here meant “new” in contradistinction to older tales.
But the word _ùr_ meant “noble” or “great,” as well as “new,” and
the word as so used must be understood as meaning a “_noble_ tale”
in contradistinction to the _sgeulachd_, or other tale of less note.
From what source M’Gregor derived his materials is not said, but
the probability is that he was indebted both to manuscripts and to
oral tradition for them. We shall here give a specimen of the Dean’s
collection as it appears in the original, with a version in regular
Gaelic spelling, and an English translation. It is the poem usually
called “Bàs Dhiarmaid,” or _the Death of Diarmad_.


      Glennschee in glenn so rame heive
      A binn feig agus lon
      Menik redeis in nane
      Ar on trath so in dey agon
      A glen so fa wenn Zwlbin zwrm
      Is haald tulchi fa zran
      Ner wanew a roythi gi dark
      In dey helga o inn na vane
      Estith beg ma zalew leith
      A chuddycht cheive so woym
      Er wenn Zulbin is er inn fail
      Is er M’ezoynn skayl troyg
      Gur lai finn fa troyg in shelga
      Er V’ezwn is derk lei
      Zwll di wenn Zwlbin di helga
      In turkgi nach fadin erm zei
      Lai M’ezwnn narm ay
      Da bay gin dorchirre in tork
      Gillir royth ba zoill finn
      Is sche assne rin do locht
      Er fa harlow a zail
      M’ozunn graw nin sgoll
      Ach so in skayll fa tursych mnaan
      Gavr less di layve an tork
      Zingywal di lach ni wane
      Da gurri ea assi gnok
      In schenn tork schee bi garv
      Di vag ballerych na helve mok
      Soeyth finn is derk dreach
      Fa wenn zwlbin zlass in telga
      Di fre dinnit less in tork
      Mor in tolga a rin a shelga
      Di clastich cozar ni wane
      Nor si narm teach fa a cann
      Ersi in a vest o swoyn
      Is glossis woyth er a glenn
      Curris ri faggin nin leich
      In shen tork schee er freich borb
      Bi geyr no ganyth sleygh
      Bi traneiseygh na gath bolga
      M’ozwnn ni narm geyr
      Frager less in na vest olk
      Wa teive reyll trom navynyth gay
      Currir sleygh in dayl in turk
      Brissir in cran less fa thre
      Si chran fa reir er in mwk
      In sleygh o wasi waryerka vlaye
      Rait less nochchar hay na corp
      Targir in tan lann o troyle
      Di chossin mor loye in narm
      Marviss M’ozunn fest
      Di hanyth feyn de hess slane
      Tuttis sprocht er Inn ne wane
      Is soyis sea si gnok
      Makozunn nar dult dayve
      Olk less a hecht slane o tork
      Er weith zoyth faddi no host
      A durt gar wolga ri ray
      Tothiss a zermit o hocht
      Ga maid try sin tork so id taa
      Char zult ay a chonyth finn
      Olk leinn gin a heacht da hygh
      Toissi tork er a zrum
      M’ozunn nach trome trygh
      Toiss na ye reiss
      A zermit gi meine a torc
      Fa lattis troygh ya chinn
      A zil nin narm rim gort
      Ymbeis bi hurrus goye
      Agus toissi zayve in tork
      Gunne i freich neive garve
      Boonn in leich bi zarg in drod
      Tuttis in sin er in rein
      M’ O’Zwne nar eyve fealle
      Na la di heive in turk
      Ach sen ayd zut gi dorve
      A la schai in swn fa creay
      M’ O’Zwne keawe in gleacht
      Invakane fullich ni wane
      Sin tulli so chayme fa art
      Saywic swlzorme essroye
      Far la berrit boye gi ayr
      In dey a horchirt la tork
      Fa hulchin a chnokso a taa
      Dermit M’ O’Zwne oyill
      Huttom tra ead nin noor
      Bi gil a wrai no grane
      Bu derk a wail no blai k ...
      Fa boe innis a alt
      Fadda rosk barglan fa lesga
      Gurme agus glassi na hwle
      Maissi is cassi gowl ni gleacht
      Binnis is grinnis na zloyr
      Gil no zoid varzerk vlaa
      Mayd agis evycht sin leich
      Seng is ser no kness bayn
      Coythtyc is maaltor ban
      M’ O’Zwne bi vor boye
      In turri char hog swle
      O chorreich wr er a zroy
      Immin deit eyde is each
      Fer in neygin creach nar charre
      Gilli a bar gasga is seith
      Ach troyg mir a teich so glenn

_Modern Gaelic._


      Gleannsìth an gleann so ri’m thaobh,
      ’S am binn feidh agus loin,
      Is minig a rachas an Fheinn
      Air an t-srath so an deigh an con.
      An gleann so fa Bheinn Ghulbainn ghuirm.
      Is aillidh tulcha fo’n ghréin,
      Na sruthana a ruith gu dearg,
      An deigh shealg o Fhionn na Feinn.
      Eisdibh beag mar dh’fhalbh laoch,
      A chuideachd chaoimh so uam,
      Air Bheinn Ghulbainn ’us air Fionn fial,
      ’Us air M’ O’Dhuinn, sgeul truagh:
      Gur le Fionn fa truagh an t-sealg
      Air Mhac O’Dhuinn a’s deirge lith,
      Dhol do Bheinn Ghulbainn do shealg
      An tuire nach faodainn airm dhith.
      Le Mac O’Dhuinn an airm aigh,
      Do’m b’e gu’n torchradh an torc,
      Geillear roimhe, bu dh’fhoill Fhinn,
      Is e esan a rinn do lochd.
      Fear fa tharladh an gaol,
      Mac O’Dhuinn gràdh nan sgoil,
      Ach so an sgeul fa tursach mnathan,
      Gabhar leis do laimh an torc.
      Diongal do laoch na Feinn
      Do chuireadh e as a chnoc,
      An seann torc Sithe bu ghairbhe,
      Do fhac ballardaich na h-alla-muic.
      Suidhidh Fionn is deirge dreach,
      Fa Bheinn Ghulbainn ghlais an t-seilg,
      Do frith dh’ imich leis an torc,
      Mòr an t-olc a rinn a shealg.
      Ri clàisdeachd co-ghair na Feinn
      ’N uair ’s an arm a teachd fa ’ceann
      Eireas a bheisd o shuain,
      ’Us gluaiseas uath’ air a ghleann.
      Cuireas ri fàgail nan laoch,
      An seann torc ’us e air friodh borb,
      Bu gheire no gath nan sleagh,
      Bu treine a shaigh no gath bolga.
      Mac O’Dhuinn nan arm geur,
      Freagras leis a’ bheisd olc,
      O’ thaobh thriall trom, nimhneach, gath,
      Cuirear sleagh an dail an tuirc.
      Brisear a crann leis fa thri,
      Is i a crann fa rèir air a’ mhuc,
      An t-sleagh o bhos bhar-dhearg, bhlàth,
      Raitleis noch char e’ na corp.
      Tairngear an tan lann o’ truaill,
      Do choisinn mòr luaidh an arm,
      Marbhas Mac O’Dhuinn a’ bheisd,
      Do thainig e féin as slàn.
      Tuiteas sprochd air Fionn na Feinn,
      ’Us suidheas e ’s a chnoc,
      Mac O’ Dhuinn nach do dhiult daimh
      Olc leis a thighinn slàn o’n torc.
      Air bhith dha fada ’n a thosd,
      A dubhairt, ged a b’ olc ri ràdh,
      Tomhais, a Dhiarmaid o’ shoc,
      Cia meud troidh ’s an torc a ta.
      Char dhiult e athchuinge Fhinn,
      Olc leinn gun e theachd d’a thigh.
      Tombaisidh an torc air a dhruim,
      Mac O’Dhuinn nach trom troidh.
      Tomhais ’n a aghaidh a rìs,
      A Dhiarmaid gu mion an torc;
      Fa leat is truagh dha chinn,
      A ghille nan arm roinn ghoirt.
      Imicheas, bu thurus goimh,
      Agus tomhaisidh dhoibh an torc.
      Guinidh a fhriogh nimh, garbh
      Bonn an laoich bu gharbh an trod.
      Tuiteas an sin air an raon,
      Mac O’Dhuinn nior aoibh feall;
      ’N a luidhe do thaobh an tuirc,
      Ach sin e dhuit gu doirbh.
      A ta se an sin fa chreuchd
      Mac O’Dhuinn caomh an gleachd;
      Aon mhacan fulangach nam Fiann
      ’S an tulach so chitheam fa fheart.
      Seabhag suilghorm Easruaidh,
      Fear le’m beireadh buaidh gach àir,
      An deigh a thorchairt le torc
      Fa thulchain a chnuic so a ta.
      Diarmad Mac O’Dhuinn aibheil,
      A thuitcam troimh eud; mo nuar!
      Bu ghile a bhràgh’d no grian,
      Bu dheirge a bheul no blàth caora.
      Fa buidhe innis a fhalt,
      Fada rosg barghlan fa liosg,
      Guirme agus glaise ’n a shùil,
      Maise ’us caise cùl nan cleachd.
      Binneas ’us grinneas ’n a ghlòir,
      Gile ’n a dhoid bhar-dhearg bhlàth,
      Meud agus éifeachd ’s an laoch
      Seang ’us saor ’n a chneas bàn.
      Cothaich ’us mealltair bhan,
      Mac O’Dhuinn bu mhòr buaidh,
      ’S an t-suiridh cha thog sùil,
      O chuireadh ùir air a ghruaidh.
      Immirdich fhaoghaid ’us each,
      Fear an éigin chreach nar char,
      Gille b’fhearr gaisge ’us sitheadh,
      Ach is truagh mar a theich ’s a ghleann.

_English Translation._


      Glenshee the vale that close beside me lies
      Where sweetest sounds are heard of deer and elk,
      And where the Feinn did oft pursue the chase
      Following their hounds along the lengthening vale.
      Below the great Ben Gulbin’s grassy height,
      Of fairest knolls that lie beneath the sun
      The valley winds. It’s streams did oft run red,
      After a hunt by Finn and by the Feinn.
      Listen now while I detail the loss
      Of one a hero in this gentle band;
      ’Tis of Ben Gulbin and of generous Finn
      And Mac O’Duine, in truth a piteous tale.
      A mournful hunt indeed it was for Finn
      When Mac O’Duine, he of the ruddiest hue,
      Up to Ben Gulbin went, resolved to hunt
      The boar, whom arms had never yet subdued.
      Though Mac O’Duine of brightest burnished arms,
      Did bravely slay the fierce, and furious boar,
      Yet Finn’s deceit did him induce to yield,
      And this it was that did his grievous hurt.
      Who among men was so belov’d as he?
      Brave Mac O’Duine, beloved of the schools;
      Women all mourn this sad and piteous tale
      Of him who firmly grasped the murderous spear.
      Then bravely did the hero of the Feinn
      Rouse from his cover in the mountain side
      The great old boar, him so well known in Shee,
      The greatest in the wild boar’s haunt e’er seen.
      Finn sat him down, the man of ruddiest hue,
      Beneath Ben Gulbin’s soft and grassy side;
      For swift the boar now coursed along the heath;
      Great was the ill came of that dreadful hunt.
      ’Twas when he heard the Feinn’s loud ringing shout,
      And saw approach the glittering of their arms,
      The monster wakened from his heavy sleep
      And stately moved before them down the vale.
      First, to distance them he makes attempt
      The great old boar, his bristles stiff on end,
      These bristles sharper than a pointed spear,
      Their point more piercing than the quiver’s shaft.
      Then Mac O’Duine, with arms well pointed too,
      Answers the horrid beast with ready hand;
      Away from his side then rushed the heavy spear,
      Hard following on the course the boar pursued.
      The javelin’s shaft fell shivered into three,
      The shaft recoiling from the boar’s tough hide.
      The spear hurl’d by his warm red-fingered hand,
      Ne’er penetrated the body of the boar.
      Then from its sheath he drew his thin-leav’d sword,
      Of all the arms most crowned with victory.
      Mac O’Duine did then the monster kill
      While he himself escaped without a wound.
      Then on Finn of the Feinn did sadness fall,
      And on the mountain side he sat him down;
      It grieved his soul that generous Mac O’Duine
      Should have escaped unwounded by the boar.
      For long he sat, and never spake a word,
      Then thus he spake, although’t be sad to tell;
      “Measure, Diarmad, the boar down from the snout,
      And tell how many feet ’s the brute in length;”
      What Finn did ask he never yet refused;
      Alas! that he should never see his home.
      Along the back he measures now the boar,
      Light-footed Mac O’Duine of active step.
      “Measure it the other way against the hair,
      And measure, Diarmad, carefully the boar.”
      It was indeed for thee a mournful deed,
      Furth of the sharply-pointed, piercing arms,
      He went, the errand grievous was and sad,
      And measured for them once again the boar.
      The envenomed pointed bristle sharply pierced
      The soul of him the bravest in the field.
      Then fell and lay upon the grassy plain
      The noble Mac O’Duine, whose look spoke truth;
      He fell and lay along beside the boar
      And then you have my mournful saddening tale.
      There does he lie now wounded to the death,
      Brave Mac O’Duine so skilful in the fight,
      The most enduring even among the Feinn,
      Up there where I see his grave.
      The blue-eyed hawk that dwelt at Essaroy
      The conqueror in every sore-fought field
      Slain by the poisoned bristle of the boar.
      Now does he lie full-stretched upon the hill,
      Brave, noble Diarmad Mac O’Duine
      Slain, it is shame! victim of jealousy.
      Whiter his body than the sun’s bright light,
      Redder his lips than blossoms tinged with red;
      Long yellow locks did rest upon his head,
      His eye was clear beneath the covering brow,
      Its colour mingled was of blue and gray;
      Waving and graceful were his locks behind,
      His speech was elegant and sweetly soft;
      His hands the whitest, fingers tipped with red;
      Elegance and power were in his form,
      His fair soft skin covering a faultless shape,
      No woman saw him but he won her love.
      Mac O’Duine crowned with his countless victories,
      Ne’er shall he raise his eye in courtship more;
      Or warrior’s wrath give colour to his cheek;
      The following of the chase, the prancing steed,
      Will never move him, nor the search for spoil.
      He who could bear him well in wary fight,
      Has now us sadly left in that wild vale.

This is, in every way, a fair specimen of the Dean’s MS., and of
the story of the death of Diarmad as it existed in Scotland in the
year 1512. The story is entirely a Scottish one, Glenshee being
a well-known locality in the county of Perth, and Ben Gulbin a
well-known hill in Glenshee. This has been called an Ossianic poem,
but, according to Dean M’Gregor, it was not composed by Ossian, but
by a poet obviously of more recent times;--Allan MacRorie, who was
probably a composer of the 15th century. The resemblance of Diarmad
to Achilles will occur at once to the classical reader, and there is
no reason to doubt that there were large classes in the Highlands in
the middle ages well acquainted with classical literature.

Another specimen of the Dean’s poems may be given as one which the
compiler attributes to Ossian. It is Ossian’s eulogy on his father
Finn, or Fingal, as he is called by M’Pherson:--

_Modern Gaelic._


      Sé la gus an dé o nach fhaca mi Fionn,
      Cha-n fhaca ri’m ré se bu gheire leam;
      Mac nighinn O’Théige, rìgh nam buillean tròm,
      M’oide, ’us mo rath, mo chiall ’us mo chon.
      Fa filidh fa flath, fa rìgh air ghéire,
      Fionn flath, rìgh na Feinn, fa triath air gach tìr;
      Fa miall mòr mara, fa leobhar air leirg,
      Fa seabhag glan gaoithe, fa saoi air gach ceaird.
      Fa h-oileanach ceart, fa marcaich nior mhearbh,
      Fa h-ullamh air ghniomh, fa steith air gach seirm;
      Fa fior, ceart, a bhreith, fa tamhaiche tuaith.
      Fa ionnsaichte ’n a àigh, fa brathach air buaidh;
      Fa h-e an teachdair ard, air chalm’us air cheòl,
      Fa diùltadh nan daimh o dh’fhàg graidh na gloir.
      A chneas mar an caile, a ghruaidh mar an ròs,
      Bu ghlan gorm a rosg, ’fholt mar an t-òr.
      Fa dùil daimh ’us daoine, fa aireach nan àgh,
      Fa h-ullamh air ghniomh, fa mìn ri mnathaibh.
      Fa h-e am miall mòr, mac muirne gach magh,
      B’fhear loinneadh nan lann, an crann os gach fiodh.
      Fa saoibhir an rìgh, a bhotul mòr glas,
      D’fhion dhoirt gheur dhoibh, tairbh nochchar threa
      . . . . . . . . . . . . broinn bhàin
      . . . air an t-sluagh, fa bu chruaidh cheum,
      Fa chosnadh an gniomh, fa Bhanbha nam beann
      Gun d’thug am flath triochaid catha fa cheann,
      Air sgraiteach dha, M’Cumhail nior cheil,
      A deir fa ghò, ni clos gò ’n a bheul;
      Ni euradh air neach, a fhuair fear o Fhionn,
      Cha robh ach rìgh gréine, rìgh riamh os a chionn.
      Nior dh’fhàg beist an loch, no nathair an nimh,
      An Eirinn nan naomh, nar mharbh an saor seimh.
      Ni h-innisinn a ghniomh, a bhithinn gu de bhràth,
      Nior innisinn uam, trian a bhuaidh ’s a mhaith.
      Ach is olc a taim, an deigh Fhinn na Feinn,
      Do chaith leis an fhlath, gach maith bha ’na dheigh.
      Gun anghnath aoin mhòir, gun eineach glan gaoithe,
      Gun òr ’us mnathaibh rìgh, ’s gun bhreith nan laoch.
      Is tuirseach a taim, an deigh chiun nan ceud,
      Is mi an crann air chrith, is mo chiabh air n-eug
      Is mi a chno chith, is mi an t-each gun sréin,
      Achadan mi an uair, is mi an tuath gun treith;
      Is mi Oisian MacFhinn, air trian de’m ghnioimh,
      An fhad ’s bu bheò Fionn, do bu leam gach ni.
      Seachd slios air a thigh, M’Cumhail gon fleadh,
      Seachd fichead sgiath chlis, air gach slios diubh sin;
      Caogad uidheam olaidh an timchioll mo rìgh,
      Caogad laoch gun iomagain anns gach uidheam dhiubh.
      Deich bleidh bàn, ’n a thalla ri òl,
      Deich eascradh gorm, deich corn de’n òr.
      Ach bu mhaith an treabh, a bh’aig Fionn na Feinn,
      Gun doichioll, gun drùth, gun gleois, gun gléidh.
      Gun tàrchuis aun, air aon fhear d’a Fheinn,
      Aig dol air gach nì, do bhì càch d’a réir.
      Fionn flath an t-sluaigh, sothran air a luaidh,
      Rìgh nan uile àigh, roimh dhuine nior dhiùlt.
      Nior dhiùlt Fionn roimh neach, ge bu bheag a loinn,
      Char chuir as a theach, neach dha’r thainig ann.
      Maith an duine Fionn, maith an duine e,
      Noch char thiodhlaic neach, leth dhe’r thiodhlaic se.

_English Translation._


      ’Twas yesterday week I last saw Finn,
      Ne’er did I feel six days so long;
      Teige’s daughter’s son, a powerful king;
      My teacher, my luck, my mind, and my light,
      Both poet and chief, as brave as a king,
      Finn, chief of the Feine, lord of all lands,
      Leviathan at sea, as great on land,
      Hawk of the air, foremost in arts,
      Courteous, just, a rider bold,
      Of vigorous deeds, the first in song,
      A righteous judge, firm his rule,
      Polished his mein, who knew but victory.
      Who is like him in fight or song?
      Resists the foe in house or field,
      Marble his skin, the rose his cheek.
      Blue was his eye, his hair like gold,
      All men’s trust, of noble mind.
      Of ready deeds, to women mild,
      A giant he, the field’s delight,
      Best polished spears, no wood like their shafts.
      Rich was the king, his great green bottle
      Full of sharp wine, of substance rich.
      Excellent he, of noble form,
      His people’s head, his step so firm,
      Who often warred, in beauteous Banva,
      There thirty battles he bravely fought.
      With miser’s mind from none withheld,
      Anything false his lips ne’er spoke.
      He never grudged, no, never, Finn;
      The sun ne’er saw king who him excelled,
      The monsters in lakes, the serpent by land,
      In Erin of saints, the hero slew.
      Ne’er could I tell, though always I lived,
      Ne’er could I tell the third of his praise.
      But sad am I now, after Finn of the Feinn;
      Away with the chief, my joy is all fled.
      No friends ’mong the great, no courtesy;
      No gold, no queen, no princes and chiefs;
      Sad am I now, our head ta’en away!
      I’m a shaking tree, my leaves all gone;
      An empty nut, a reinless horse.
      Sad, sad am I, a feeble kern,
      Ossian I, the son of Finn, strengthless indeed.
      When Finn did live all things were mine;
      Seven sides had the house of Cumhal’s son,
      Seven score shields on every side;
      Fifty robes of wool around the king;
      Fifty warriors filled the robes.
      Ten bright cups for drink in his hall,
      Ten blue flagons, ten horns of gold.
      A noble house was that of Finn.
      No grudge nor lust, babbling nor sham;
      No man despised among the Feinn;
      The first himself, all else like him.
      Finn was our chief, easy’s his praise;
      Noblest of kings, Finn ne’er refused
      To any man, howe’er unknown;
      Ne’er from his house sent those who came.
      Good man was Finn, good man was he;
      No gifts e’er given like his so free.
                      ’Twas yesterday week.

This is a specimen of a peculiar kind of ancient Celtic poetry. It
was usually sung to music, and has a remarkable resemblance to some
of the hymns of the early Latin Church. There is another composition
of the same kind in praise of Gaul, called usually “Rosg Ghuill,” or
the War-Song of Gaul.

It is unnecessary to give further specimens of these remains of the
ancient heroic poetry of the Highlands here, nor is it necessary to
quote any of the more modern compositions with which the Dean of
Lismore’s MS. abounds. It is enough to remark how great an amount
of poetry was composed in the Highlands in the 14th, 15th, and 16th
centuries. That was indeed an age of bards when poetical genius was
amply rewarded by great and liberal chiefs. It is of interest further
to observe how ample the answer furnished by the Lismore MS. is to
the ill-natured remarks of Dr Johnson, who maintained that there was
not a word of written Gaelic in the Highlands more than a hundred
years old. We shall now dismiss the Dean’s MS., but we shall exhaust
the subject of Ossian’s poems by a cursory view of the other and
later collections of those poems, and especially the collection of


It is quite unnecessary here to enter on the question of the
authenticity of the poems of Ossian, as edited by Macpherson.[103]
The subject has been so largely treated in numerous publications,
that we consider it better to give a short historical sketch of the
publication, with such specimens as may serve to show the character
of the work.

The first of Macpherson’s publications appeared in the year 1760. It
is entitled, “Fragments of Ancient Poetry collected in the Highlands
of Scotland, and translated from the Gaelic or Erse Language.” The
first edition of this volume was immediately followed by a second,
and the deepest interest was excited in the subject of Celtic
literature among literary men. The work originally consisted of
fifteen fragments, to which a sixteenth was added in the second
edition. These are all in English, there not being one word of
Gaelic in the book. Not that there is any reason to doubt that the
fragments are genuine, and that Macpherson spoke what was perfectly
consistent with truth when he said, as he does at the beginning
of his preface, “The public may depend on the following fragments
as genuine remains of ancient Scottish poetry.” Still it is to be
regretted that the original Gaelic of these compositions was not
given. It would have enabled the public, in the Highlands at least,
to have judged for themselves on the question of their authenticity,
and it would have afforded a guarantee for the accuracy of the
translation. This, however, was not done, and there are none of the
fragments contained in this little volume, the original of which can
now be found anywhere.

In his preface to these “Fragments,” Macpherson gives the first
intimation of the existence of the poem of “Fingal.” He says:--“It
is believed that, by a careful inquiry, many more remains of
ancient genius, no less valuable than those now given to the
world, might be found in the same country where these have been
collected. In particular, there is reason to hope that one work
of considerable length, and which deserved to be styled an heroic
poem, might be recovered and translated, if encouragement were given
to such an undertaking. The subject is an invasion of Ireland by
Swarthan, king of Lochlyn, which is the name of Denmark in the Erse
language. Cuchulaid, the general or chief of the Irish tribes, upon
intelligence of the invasion, assembles his forces; councils are
held, and battles fought; but after several unsuccessful engagements
the Irish are forced to submit. At length Fingal, king of Scotland,
called in this poem ‘The Desert of the Hills,’ arrives with his
ships to assist Cuchulaid. He expels the Danes from the country, and
returns home victorious. This poem is held to be of greater antiquity
than any of the rest that are preserved; and the author speaks of
himself as present in the expedition of Fingal.” In the “Fragments”
the opening of this poem is given, but whether from tradition or MS.
is not said. It proceeds:--“Cuchulaid sat by the wall, by the tree
of the rustling leaf. His spear leaned against the mossy rock. His
shield lay by him on the grass. Whilst he thought on the mighty
Carbre, whom he slew in battle, the scout of the ocean came, Moran
the son of Fithil.” In 1762 there appeared a quarto volume, edited
by Macpherson, containing the poem of “Fingal” and several other
compositions. The poem commences, “Cuchullin sat by Tura’s walls; by
the tree of the rustling leaf. His spear leaned against the mossy
rock. His shield lay by him on the grass. As he thought of mighty
Carbar, a hero whom he slew in war, the scout of the ocean came,
Moran the son of Fithil.” It will be seen that there are several
variations in the two versions, and as we proceed these will appear
to be more numerous and more marked. It is somewhat remarkable
that the Garve of the earlier version should become Swaran in the
second. The whole comparison is interesting, and sheds some light
on the progress of the poems in the hand of the editor. It may be
interesting, in juxtaposition with the above extracts, to give
the Gaelic, as furnished at a later period, by the executors of
Macpherson. It is as follows:--

      “Shuidh Cuchullin aig balla Thura,
      Fo dhùbhra craoibh dhuille na fuaim;
      Dh’aom a shleagh ri carraig nan còs,
      A sgiath mhòr r’a thaobh air an fheur.
      Bha smaointean an fhir air Cairbre,
      Laoch a thuit leis an garbh-chòmhrag,
      ’N uair a thàinig fear-coimhid a’ chuain,
      Luath mhac Fhithil nan ceum àrd.”

The English in both the versions--that of 1760 and that of 1762--is a
pretty accurate rendering of this. In some cases the Gaelic expletive
is awanting, as in “garbh-chòmhrag,” and the name Moran is, in the
last line, substituted for the Gaelic description, “The swift son of
Fithil, of bounding steps.” These, however, are allowable liberties
in such a case. The variations are, however, more considerable as
the several versions proceed, but that of 1760 turns out to be a
mere fragment of the first book of the great epic of 1762. The other
fragments have also their representatives in the larger work. Some of
them appear in the poem called “Carrickthura,” and some of them in
the epic of “Fingal,” but in all these cases the later compositions
are great expansions of the shorter poems given in the earlier work.
A comparison of these versions is full of interest, and in the
hands of fair and acute criticism, is capable, as already said, of
shedding much light on the whole question of Macpherson’s Ossian.
One thing is beyond question, that the names of Ossian’s heroes were
familiar to the Scottish Highlanders from the earliest period; that
they knew more of their deeds, and spoke more of them than of those
of Wallace and Bruce; that the country was teeming with poetical
compositions bearing to have these deeds as their subjects; that the
topography of the country was in every quarter enriched with names
drawn from Fingal and his men; and that to say that the whole of this
was the invention of Macpherson, is nothing but what the bitterest
national prejudice could alone receive as truth.

There are many of the pieces in Macpherson’s Ossian of marvellous
power. The description of Cuchullin’s chariot in the first book of
Fingal is equal to any similar composition among the great classical
epics. It proceeds:--

      “Carbad! carbad garbh a’ chòmhraig,
      ’Gluasad thar ’chomhnard le bàs;
      Carbad cuimir, luath, Chuchullin,
      Sàr-mhac Sheuma nan cruaidh chàs.
      Tha ’earr a’ lùbadh siòs mar thonn,
      No ceò mu thom nan carragh geur,
      Solus chlocha-buadh mu’n cuairt,
      Mar chuan mu eathar ’s an oidhche.
      Dh’iubhar faileusach an crann;
      Suidhear ann air chnàmhaibh caoin;
      ’S e tuineas nan sleagh a th’ann,
      Nan sgiath, nan lann, ’s nan laoch.
      Ri taobh deas a’ mhòr-charbaid
      Chithear an t-each meanmnach, séidear,
      Mac ard-mhuingeach, cliàbh-fharsuing, dorcha,
      Ard-leumach, talmhaidh, na beinne;
      ’S farumach, fuaimear, a chos;
      Tha sgaoileadh a dhosain shuas,
      Mar cheathach air àros nan os;
      Bu shoilleir a dhreach, ’s bu luath
      ’Shiubhal, Sithfada b’e ’ainm.
      Ri taobh eile a charbaid thall
      Tha each fiarasach nan srann,
      Caol-mhuingeach, aiginneach, brògach,
      Luath-chosach, srònach, nam beann.
      Dubh-sròn-gheal a b’ainm air an steud-each.
      Làn mhìle dh’iallaibh tana
      ’Ceangal a’ charbaid gu h-àrd;
      Cruaidh chabstar shoilleir nan srian
      ’Nan gialaibh fo chobhar bàn;
      Tha clochan-boillsge le buaidh
      ’Cromadh sios mu mhuing nan each,
      Nan each tha mar cheò air sliabh,
      A’ giùlan an triath gu chliù.
      Is fiadhaiche na fiadh an colg,
      Co làidir ri iolair an neart;
      Tha ’m fuaim mar an geamhradh borb
      Air Gorm-mheall mùchta fo shneachd.
      ’Sa charbad chithear an triath,
      Sar mhac treun nan geur lann,
      Cuchullin nan gorm-bhallach sgiath,
      Mac Sheuma mu’n éireadh dan.
      A ghruaidh mar an t-iubhair caoin,
      A shuil nach b’fhaoin a’ sgaoileadh àrd,
      Fo mhala chruim, dhorcha, chaoil;
      A chiabh bhuidhe ’n a caoir m’a cheann,
      ’Taomadh mu ghnùis àluinn an fhir,
      ’S e ’tarruing a shleagh o ’chùl.
      Teich-sa, shàr cheannard nan long,
      Teich o’n t-sonn ’s e ’tighinn a nall,
      Mar ghaillinn o ghleann nan sruth.”

It is difficult to give an English rendering of the above passage
that would convey the elegance and force of the original. The admirer
of Gaelic poetry cannot but regret that the English reader cannot
peruse the Gaelic version, assured, as he feels, that his doing so
would raise considerably his estimate of the Gaelic muse. There is
not, perhaps, in any language a richer piece of poetical description
than the above. Macpherson’s English version of it is as follows:--

“The car, the car of battle comes, like the flame of death; the
rapid car of Cuchullin, the noble son of Semo. It bends behind
like a wave near a rock; like the golden mist of the heath. Its
sides are embossed with stones, and sparkle like the sea round the
boat of night. Of polished yew is its beam, and its seat of the
smoothest bone. The sides are replenished with spears; and the
bottom is the footstool of heroes. Before the right side of the car
is seen the snorting horse, the high-maned, broad-breasted, proud,
high-leaping, strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding is his
hoof; the spreading of his mane above is like that stream of smoke
on the heath. Bright are the sides of the steed, and his name is
Sulin-sifadda. Before the left side of the car is seen the snorting
horse; the thin-maned, high-headed, strong-hoofed, fleet, bounding
son of the hill; his name is Dusronnal among the stormy sons of the
sword. A thousand thongs bind the car on high. Hard polished bits
shine in a wreath of foam. Thin thongs, bright-studded with gems,
bend on the stately necks of the steeds--the steeds that, like
wreaths of mist, fly over the streamy vales. The wildness of deer
is in their course, the strength of the eagle descending on her
prey. Their noise is like the blast of winter on the sides of the
snow-headed Gormal.

“Within the car is seen the chief, the strong, stormy son of the
sword; the hero’s name is Cuchullin, son of Semo, king of shells. His
red check is like my polished yew. The look of his blue rolling eye
is wide beneath the dark arch of his brow. His hair flies from his
head like a flame, as, bending forward, he wields the spear. Fly,
king of ocean, fly; he comes like a storm along the streamy vale.”

The Gaelic scholar will at once observe that the above is a free but
a fair translation of the original Gaelic, and the character of the
translation is such as to give no idea of imposition. It is just such
a translation as a man of poetic temperament and talent would give of
the passage.

In 1763 Macpherson published a second quarto containing the poem of
Temora in eight books, along with several other pieces. The first
book of the former had appeared in the collection of 1762, the editor
saying that it was merely the opening of the poem; but the great
interest about the publication of 1763 is that here for the first
time we are presented with the Gaelic original of one of the books
of the poem. It is not true that Macpherson never offered to publish
any portion of the original until he was obliged to do so by the
pressure of public opinion, for in this case he published the Gaelic
original of a part of the work altogether of his own accord. In a
short introductory paragraph to the Gaelic, he says that he chooses
the seventh book of Temora, “not from any other superior merit than
the variety of its versification. To print any part of the former
collection,” he adds, “was unnecessary, as a copy of the originals
lay for many months in the bookseller’s hands for the inspection of
the curious.” Of this new publication, however, he sees it right
to furnish a portion “for the satisfaction of those who doubt the
authenticity of Ossian’s poems.” The editor adds that “though the
erroneous orthography of the bards is departed from in many instances
in the following specimen, yet several quiescent consonants are
retained, to show the derivation of the words.” He accounts for the
uncouth appearance of the language by the use of the Roman letters,
which are incapable of expressing the sounds of the Gaelic. What kind
of orthography Macpherson would have selected he does not say. He
could not be unacquainted with the phonetic orthography of the Dean
of Lismore’s book, and may, perhaps, have had it in view in the above
remarks. But the orthography which he himself uses is neither the
bardic nor the phonetic, and is more uncouth than any orthography
which the bards were in the habit of using. One thing is clear, that
the Gaelic of the seventh book of Temora was never copied from any
manuscript written by a bard. The book opens as follows:--

      “O linna doir-choille na _Leigo_
      Air uair, eri’ ceo taobh-ghórm nan tón;
      Nuair dhunas dorsa na h’oicha
      Air iulluir shuil-greina nan speur.
      Tomhail, mo Lara nan sruth
      Thaomas du’-nial, as doricha cruaim;
      Mar ghlas-scia’, roi taoma nan nial
      Snamh seachad, ta Gellach na h’oicha.
      Le so edi’ taisin o-shean
      An dlù-ghleus, a measc na gaoith,
      ’S iad leumach o osna gn osna
      Air du’-aghai’ oicha nan sian.
      An taobh oitaig, gu palin nan seoid
      Taomas iad cëach nan speur
      Gorm-thalla do thannais nach beo
      Gu am eri’ fón marbh-rán nan teud.”

Translated by Macpherson thus:--

  “From the wood-skirted waters of Lego ascend at times grey-bosomed
  mists; when the gates of the west are closed, on the sun’s eagle
  eye. Wide over Lara’s stream is poured the vapour dark and deep;
  the moon like a dim shield, is swimming through its folds. With
  this, clothe the spirits of old their sudden gestures on the wind
  when they stride from blast to blast along the dusky night. Often,
  blended with the gale, to some warrior’s grave, they roll the mist,
  a grey dwelling to his ghost until the songs arise.”

Any reader who understands the Gaelic must allow, without hesitation,
that while this is a free it is a fair rendering of the original;
while he will be constrained to add that in point of force and
elegance the Gaelic is superior to the English version. Many of
the expletives in Gaelic are not rendered in English at all, and
these add largely to the poetic force and beauty of the former.
The orthography of the Gaelic will be seen to be most uncouth and
unphilosophical. “Linna” for “Linne” has no principle to warrant it;
so with “oicha” for “oidhche,” “Gellach” for “gealach,” “cruaim”
for “gruaim,” “taisin” for “taibh-sean.” Then there are no accents
to guide the reader except that the acute accent is used in such
extraordinary words as “tón,” “fón,” which are written for “tonn,”
“fonn.” Altogether it would appear that the writer of the Gaelic of
this book of Temora was to a large extent unacquainted with Gaelic
orthography, and was unable to write the Gaelic language accurately.
The orthography is, indeed, a mere jumble. Still the fact is an
interesting and significant one as connected with the whole history
of the Ossianic poetry that, at so early a period, Macpherson should
have given, as a debt which he felt to be due to the public, a large
specimen of the original of one of his poems. If there is any cause
of regret connected with the matter, it is that he did not let
the country know where he found these poems, and refer others to
the sources whence he derived them himself. These have never been
discovered by any body else, although numerous pieces of Ossianic
poetry are well known in the Highlands to the present day.

There were various versions of Macpherson’s collection, but the
most interesting of all was the Gaelic original of the whole poems
published in 1807. In this edition a Latin translation was furnished
by Mr Robert M’Farlane. The book is a very handsome one, and in
every way creditable to its editors. Mr M’Lachlan of Aberdeen
revised the Gaelic, and no man was more competent for such a duty.
The introduction to the edition of 1818 is understood to have been
written by an excellent Gaelic scholar, the late Rev. Dr Ross of
Lochbroom, and is an eloquent and powerful composition. Several
translations of Ossian’s poems have appeared, but the interest of
the work is mainly associated with the name and labours of James


In 1780 appeared a volume of Ossian’s Poems, translated and edited
by the Rev. John Smith of Kilbrandon, afterwards the Rev. Dr Smith
of Campbeltown. The volume is entitled “Gaelic Antiquities, &c.,”
containing, among other things, “A Collection of Ancient Poems,
translated from the Gaelic of Ullin, Ossian, &c.” Dr Smith was an
admirable Gaelic scholar, as was evidenced by his translation of
a portion of the Scriptures into that language, and his metrical
version of the Gaelic Psalms. The work before us is a work highly
creditable to Dr Smith’s talents and industry, and although he
complains of the reception which his efforts on behalf of Gaelic
literature met with, it is still prized by Gaelic scholars.

In the year 1787 appeared the Gaelic version of the same poems in an
octavo volume, entitled, “Sean Dana le Oisian, Orran, Ulann, &c.”
It is a pity that the two versions did not appear simultaneously, as
there have not been wanting those who have charged Dr Smith, as was
done in the case of Macpherson, with composing himself much of the
poetry which he gives as Ossian’s. The same has been said of another
collector of the name of Kennedy, who collected a large number of
poems which now lie in MS. in the Advocates’ Library in Edinburgh;
but it is a curious fact that some of the pieces which Kennedy is
said to have acknowledged having composed, can be shown to be ancient.

Dr Smith’s collection begins with the poem called “Dan an Deirg,”
_the Song of Dargo_, or _the Red Man_. It is a famous song in the
Highlands, as is indicated by the proverbial saying, “Gach dàn gu
dàn an Deirg,” _Every song yields to the song of Dargo_. It was sung
to a simple, touching air, which is still known. This poem is given
by Dr Smith in two sections, entitled severally, “A’ cheud chuid,”
and “An dara cuid.” The song is given by the M’Callums (referred to
below), but it is most perplexing that not one word of their version
agrees with Dr Smith’s. Their version is manifestly of the ancient
form and rhythm, with the usual summary at the head of it given by
Gaelic reciters ere beginning one of their songs. None of this is
found in Dr Smith’s version, which is cast very much in the mould of
Macpherson’s Gaelic Ossian. Mr J. A. Campbell, in his _Popular Tales
of the Highlands_ (vol. iii., p. 51), gives a few lines of the lament
of the wife of Dargo for her husband, but they do not correspond in
one line with the version of Dr Smith. The same may be said of Dr
Smith’s “Diarmad,” which is entirely different from all the existing
versions of the same poem. The versions of the Dean of Lismore and of
Gillies (mentioned below) are identical, and so are to a large extent
other existing versions taken down from oral recitation, but Dr
Smith’s differs largely from them in locality, matter, and rhythm. It
removes the story of the death of this Fingalian hero from Glenshee
to Sliabh Ghaodhail, in Kintyre. At the same time, it is quite
possible that different poems existed bearing the same name; and Dr
Smith’s poems are compositions of decided excellence. They add much
to the stores of the Gaelic scholar, and the English translation is
done with a skill little inferior to that of Macpherson himself.


The earliest collector and publisher of the poems of Ossian was
Mr Jerome Stone at Dunkeld, who furnished the _Scots Magazine_ in
1756 with a translation in rhyme of “Bàs Fhraoich,” or the Death
of Fraoch. Stone did not give the Gaelic original of this or of
any other of his collections, but they were found after his death,
and a selection of them is printed in the Report of the Highland
Society on Ossian. A Mr Hill, an English gentleman, made some
collections in Argyleshire in 1780; and several pieces were published
by a bookseller of the name of Gillies at Perth, who published an
excellent volume of Gaelic poetry in 1786.

Gillies’s pieces have the true ring of the ancient poetry of the
Highlands, and are in many cases to be found floating still among the
traditional poetry of the people. The Ossianic pieces are numerous.
They are--“Suiridh Oisein air Eamhair àluinn,” _the Courtship of
Ossian and Eviralin_; “Comhrag Fhinn agus Mhanuis,” _the Conflict
of Fingal and Manus_; “Marbhadh Chonlaoich le Cuchulain,” _the
Slaughter of Conlach by Cuchullin_; “Aisling Mhailmhìne,” _Malvina’s
Dream_; “Briathran Fhinn ri Oscar,” _Fingal’s Address to Oscar_;
“Rosg Ghuill,” _the War-song of Gaul_; “Dàn na h-Inghin,” _the Song
of the Maiden_, usually called “Fainesoluis;” “Conn mac an Deirg,”
_Conn, son of Dargo_; “Duan Fhraoich,” _the Song of Fraoch_; “Cath
righ Sorcha,” _the Battle of the King of Sorcha_; “Marbh-rann
Oscair,” _the Death-song of Oscar_; “Ceardach Mhic Luinn,” _the
Smithy of the Son of Linn_; “Duan a Mhuireartaich,” _the Song of
Muireartach_; “Caoidh Dhéirdir,” _Deirdre’s Lament_, in which the
poem given already from the old MS. of 1268 appears as a part of it.
It is most interesting in this case to compare the written with the
traditional poem; “Bàs Dhiarmaid,” _the Death of Diarmad_; “Dearg
mac Deirg,” _the Song of Dargo_; “Teanntachd mòr na Feinn,” _the
great trial of the Fingalians_; “Laoidh Laomuinn mhic an Uaimh-fhir,”
_the Song of Laomuinn_; “Eairagan,” _Earragon_; “Na Brataichean,”
_the Banners_; “Bàs Oscair,” _the Death of Oscar_; in all twenty-one
fragments or whole pieces, some of them of considerable length, and
almost all, if not all, taken down from oral recitation. This list
is given in full, in order to show what pieces of professed Ossianic
poetry could be found in the Highlands soon after the publication of
Macpherson’s work by other and independent compilers. A comparison of
those pieces with Macpherson’s Ossian is interesting to the inquirer
in this field. The following specimen of one of Gillies’s alleged
compositions of Ossian may be given here:--


      A mhic mo mhic ’s e thubhairt an righ,
      Oscair, a righ nan òg fhlath,
      Chunnaic mi dealradh do lainne ’s b’e m’ uaill
      ’Bhi ’g amharc do bhuaidh ’s a chath.
      Lean gu dlù ri cliù do shinnsircachd
      ’S na dìbir a bhi mar iadsan.
      ’N uair bu bheò Treunmhor nan rath,
      ’Us Trathull athair nan treun laoch,
      Chuir iad gach cath le buaidh,
      ’Us bhuannaich iad cliù gach teugbhail.
      ’Us mairidh an iomradh ’s an dàn
      Air chuimhn’ aig na baird an déigh so.
      O! Oscair, claoidh thus’ an treun-armach,
      ’S thoir tearmunn do’n lag-lamhach, fheumach;
      Bi mar bhuinne-shruth reothairt geamhraidh
      Thoirt gleachd do naimhdibh na Feinn,
      Ach mar fhann-ghaoth sheimh, thlàth, shambraidh,
      Bi dhoibhsan a shireas do chabhar.
      Mar sin bha Treunmhor nam buadh,
      S bha Trathull nan ruag ’n a dheigh ann,
      S bha Fionn ’na thaic do ’n fhann
      G a dhion o ainneart luchd-eucoir.
      ’N a aobhar shininn mo lamh,
      Le failte rachainn ’n a choinnimh,
      ’Us gheibheadh e fasgath ’us caird,
      Fo sgàil dhrithlinneach mo loinne.

_English Translation._


      Son of my son, so said the king,
      Oscar, prince of youthful heroes,
      I have seen the glitter of thy blade, and ’twas my pride
      To see thy triumph in the conflict.
      Cleave thou fast to the fame of thine ancestors,
      And do not neglect to be like them.
      When Treunmor the fortunate lived,
      And Trathull the father of warriors,
      They fought each field triumphantly,
      And won the fame in every fight.
      And their names shall flourish in the song
      Commemorated henceforth by the bards.
      Oh! Oscar, crush thou the armed hero,
      But spare the feeble and the needy;
      Be as the rushing winter, spring-tide, stream,
      Giving battle to the foes of the Fingalians,
      But as the gentle, soothing, summer breeze
      To such as seek for thy help.
      Such was Treunmor of victories,
      And Trathull of pursuits, thereafter,
      And Fingal was a help to the weak,
      To save him from the power of the oppressor.
      In his cause I would stretch out my hand,
      With a welcome I would go to meet him,
      And he should find shelter and friendship
      Beneath the glittering shade of my sword.

The above is a true relic of the ancient Ossianic poetry, full of
power and full of life, and indicates the existence of a refinement
among the ancient Celts for which the opponents of Macpherson would
not give them credit. Gillies tells us that his collection was made
from gentlemen in every part of the Highlands. It is perhaps the most
interesting collection of Highland song which we possess.

In 1816 there appeared a collection of Gaelic poetry by Hugh and John
M’Callum. It was printed at Montrose, and the original Gaelic version
and an English translation were published simultaneously. The work is
called “An Original Collection of the Poems of Ossian, Orann, Ulin,
and other bards who flourished in the same age.” There are twenty-six
pieces altogether, and the editors give the sources whence they were
all derived. These are such as Duncan Matheson in Snizort, Isle of
Skye; Hector M’Phail in Torasay, Mull; Donald M’Innes, teacher,
Gribun, Mull; Dr M’Donald of Killean, from whom “Teanntachd mòr
na Feinn” was obtained--the Doctor maintaining, it appears, that
his version was a better one than that given by Gillies; Archibald
M’Callum in Killean; and others who furnish “Laoidh nan ceann,” a
poem found in the collection of the Dean of Lismore, as are several
others of the M’Callums’ collection.

This collection is a very admirable one, perfectly honest, and
presents us with some compositions of high poetic merit. The
addresses of Ossian to the sun, which Macpherson declines to give in
Gaelic, substituting for one of them a series of asterisks, although
he gives it in English, are here given in both languages; and the
Gaelic versions are perhaps the finest compositions in the book.
The address to the setting sun is here given as a specimen of the
M’Callums’ collection:--


      An d’ fhàg tha gorm astar nan speur,
      A mhic gun bheud a’s òr bhuidh ciabh?
      Tha dorsa na h-oidhche dhuit féin,
      Agus pàilliuin do chlos ’s an Iar,
        Thig na tonna mu’n cuairt gu mall
      ’Choimhead an fhir a ’s gloine gruaidh,
      A’ togail fo eagal an ceann
      Ri ’d fhaicinn cho àillidh a’d shuain;
      Theich iadsan gun tuar o’d thaobh.
        Gabh-sa codal ann ad uaimh
      A ghrian, ’us pill an tùs le h-aoibhneas.
        Mar bhoillsge grein’ ’s a gheamhradh
      ’S e ruith ’n a dheann le raon Lena
      Is amhuil laithe nam Fiann.
      Mar ghrian eadar frasaibh a’ tréigsinn
      Dh’ aom neoil chiar-dhubh nan speur,
      ’Us bhuin iad an deò aoibhinn o ’n t-sealgair,
      Tha lom gheugan na coill’ a’ caoidh,
      Is maoth lusrach an t-sleibh’ a’ seargadh;
      Ach pillidh fathasd a’ ghrian
      Ri doire sgiamhach nan geug ùra,
      ’Us ni gach crann ’s a Chéitean gàire
      Ag amharc an àird ri mac an speura.

_English Translation._


      Hast thou left the blue course of the sky
      Faultless son of golden locks?
      The gates of the night are for thee,
      And thy place of repose is in the west.
      The waves gather slowly around
      To see him of fairest countenance;
      Raising their heads in fear.
      As they witness thy beauty in repose,
      They fled pale from thy side.
      Take thou rest in thy cave,
      O sun, and return with rejoicing.
      As the sunbeam in the winter time
      Descending quick on the slope of Lena,
      So are the days of the Fingalians.
      As the sun becoming darkened among showers,
      The dark clouds of the sky descended
      And bore away the joyous light from the huntsman.
      The bare branches of the wood weep,
      And the soft herbage of the mountain withers.
      But the sun shall return again
      To the beautiful forest of the fresh-clothed branch,
      And each bough shall smile in the early summer,
      Looking up to the son of the sky.

The collection of the M’Callums was a real addition to the stores
of Gaelic poetry, and is most helpful in bringing to a satisfactory
conclusion the whole question of the ancient Gaelic poetry of
Scotland. Were there no other Gaelic compositions in existence save
those pieces which this volume contains, they would be sufficient to
prove the high character of the heroic poetry of the Scottish Gael
for everything that constitutes true poetic power.

It would be wrong in such a sketch as this to overlook the
interesting and ingenious contribution made to the discussion of
the Ossianic question in the third and fourth volumes of Mr J.
Campbell’s _Tales of the West Highlands_. The whole four volumes are
full of interesting materials for the student of Gaelic literature
and antiquities, but the third and fourth volumes are those in which
a place is given to the ancient Ossianic poems. Mr Campbell, the
representative of a distinguished Highland family, and unlike many
of the class to which he belongs, an excellent Gaelic scholar, made
collections on his own account all over the Highlands. He had as
his chief coadjutor in the work Mr Hector M’Lean, teacher in Islay,
and he could not have had a better--Mr M’Lean being possessed of
scholarship, enthusiasm, and sound judgment. The result is a very
remarkable collection of the oral literature of the Highlands,
including selections from a large amount of poetry attributed to
Ossian. This book is a truly honest book, giving the compositions
collected just as they were found among the native Highlanders. We
shall take occasion again to refer to the Sgeulachds, or tales, and
shall only refer at present to the Ossianic remains presented to us
by Mr Campbell.

Mr Campbell’s collections include most of the pieces that have
been brought together in the same way, with such variations, of
course, as must be looked for in the circumstances. He furnishes
us with a version of the Lay of Diarmad (vol. iii., 50), having
peculiar features of its own, but to a large extent identical with
the versions of the Dean of Lismore and of Gillies. It is of much
interest to compare this version, taken down within the last few
years, with one taken down one hundred years ago, and another taken
down three hundred and fifty years ago. The retentive power of human
memory for generations is remarkably illustrated by the comparison.
Mr Campbell also gives us “The Lay of Oscar,” “The Praise of Gaul,”
“The Poem of Oscar,” and several other minor compositions, some of
which had never before been printed. These, with Mr Campbell’s own
disquisitions, are full of interest; but for the details we must
refer the reader to Mr Campbell’s volumes.

From all that has been written on the subject of these ancient
Gaelic poems of Ossian, it is perfectly clear that Ossian himself
is no creation of James Macpherson. His name has been familiar to
the people both of the Highlands and Ireland, for a thousand years
and more. “Oisian an deigh na Feinn,” _Ossian after the Fingalians_,
has been a proverbial saying among them for numberless generations.
Nor did Macpherson invent Ossian’s poems. There were poems reputed
to be Ossian’s in the Highlands for centuries before he was born,
and poems, too, which for poetic power and interest are unsurpassed;
which speak home to the heart of every man who can sympathise with
popular poetry marked by the richest felicities of diction; and which
entitles them justly to all the commendation bestowed upon the poems
edited by Macpherson.


It will be seen that a large proportion of the existing Gaelic
literature of the early period is poetical. Not that it is so
altogether, by any means; and if any large amount of it had come down
to us, there is no reason for believing that so large a share of it
would be poetical. But the prose MS. writings of the ancient Gael
have, with the few exceptions already referred to, perished; and have
left us with such poetical compositions as adhered to the national

As we enter upon the era of printing, we are disposed to look for a
more extensive literature, and no doubt we find it. But with the era
of printing came the use of another language, and the Gaelic ceased
to be the vehicle for carrying abroad the thoughts of the learned.
Religion still continued to make use of its services, but it ceased
to be the handmaid of science and philosophy.

The first printed Gaelic book which we find is Bishop Carsewell’s
Gaelic translation of the Liturgy of John Knox. It is well known that
Knox compiled a prayer-book for the use of the Scottish Reformed
Church, and that it was thought desirable that this prayer-book
should be translated into the Gaelic language for the use of the
Highlanders. The translation was undertaken by Mr John Carsewell,
who was appointed superintendent of the ancient diocese of Argyle,
which office he filled for many years. The book was printed at
Edinburgh, in 1567. The language is what is in modern times called
Irish, but might in Carsewell’s time be called Scotch, for none
other was written in Scotland in so far as Gaelic was written at
all. There are but three copies of this book known to exist--an
entire copy in the library of the Duke of Argyle, and two imperfect
copies, one in the library of the University of Edinburgh, and one
in the British Museum. This book was printed before one line of
Irish Gaelic was printed. Extracts from the volume will be found in
the _Highland Society’s Report upon Ossian_, and in M’Lauchlan’s
_Celtic Gleanings_. The former extract is made to show that the
names of Fingal and the Fingalians were well known in the Highlands
at the period of the Reformation. In 1631 a translation of Calvin’s
Catechism appeared, probably executed by Carsewell.

In 1659 appeared the first fifty of the Psalms of David in metre
by the Synod of Argyle. It is called “An ceud chaogad do Shalmaibh
Dhaibhidh a meadrachd Gaoidhilg,” _the first Fifty of the Psalms of
David in Gaelic Metre_. The language of the original here is what
is called Irish, although it is, as is the Gaelic of Carsewell, the
ordinary written Gaelic of the period. This translation forms the
groundwork of all the editions of the Psalms that have been used
since in the Scottish Church. The rest of the Psalms followed the
first fifty in 1694, and the Psalter of the Argyle Synod became then
complete. The introduction to the little volume of 1659 details
the difficulties which the authors met in converting the Psalms
into Gaelic metre, one of which, they say, was the necessity of
adapting them to the structure of the English Psalm tunes. How Gaelic
congregational singing was conducted in the Highlands previous to
this little book appearing, it is hard to say. The introduction
concludes with the words, “Anois, a Legthora, dense dithcheall ann
sann obair bhigse bhuiliughadh gu maith, agus guidh ar an Tighearna
é feín do bheannughadh an tshoisgeil ann sna tirthaibh gaoidhlachsa,
agus lasair shoilleir lán teasa do dheanamh don tsraid bhig do lasadh
cheana ionta. Grasa maille roit.”

_English Translation._

“And now, reader, strive to use this little work, and pray the Lord
that He himself would bless the gospel in these Gaelic lands, and
that He would make a bright flame full of heat of this little spark
which has been now lighted in it.”

This little volume is now scarce, but full of interest to the Gaelic

Alongside of the Synod of Argyle, another indefatigable labourer in
the same field was at work. This was Mr Robert Kirk, minister at
Balquhidder. There seems to have been no Rob Roy in the district
at the time, and Mr Kirk appears to have had a quiet life in his
Highland parish; more so, indeed, than other Scottish ministers of
the time, for he seems to have been engaged in his translation during
the heat of the persecution of the Covenanters, and it was published
in 1684, four years before the Revolution. Kirk is said to have
been so anxious to have precedence of the Synod of Argyle, that he
invented a machine for awakening him in the morning by means of water
made to fall upon his face at a certain hour. His Psalter preceded
that of the Synod by a period of ten years.

Mr Kirk dedicates his volume, which is published with the sanction
of the Privy Council, and with the approbation of “the Lords of the
Clergy, and some reverend ministers who best understand the Irish
language,” to the Marquis of Athole, &c., of whom he says that his
“Lordship has been of undoubted courage and loyalty for the king,
and still alongst inflexible to the persuasions or threats of frozen
neutralists or flaming incendiaries in Church or State.” Kirk further
states that the work was “done by such as attained not the tongue
(which he calls Scottish-Irish) without indefatigable industry,”
manifestly pointing to himself as one who had so acquired it.

This little volume of the minister of Balquhidder is a most
interesting contribution to our Gaelic literature. The language is
what many writers call Irish, although there is no reason to believe
that Mr Kirk ever was in Ireland, or conversed with speakers of Irish
Gaelic. He knew and used the dialect which writers of the Gaelic
language had used for centuries, and used at the time. No Irish
writer could use a dialect more purely Irish than that found in
Kirk’s Gaelic preface. Kirk concludes his preface with the following

      Imthigh a Dhuilleachain gu dàn,
        Le Dan glan diagha duisg iad thall.
      Cuir failte air Fonn fial na bFionn,
        Ar garbh-chriocha, ’s Indseadh gall.

_English Translation._

      Go, little leaflet, boldly,
        With pure holy songs wake them yonder,
      Salute the hospitable land of the Fingalians,
        The rugged borders, and the Isles of the strangers.

“The land of the Fingalians” was the Highlands generally; “the rugged
borders” was the west coast of Inverness-shire and Ross-shire; and
“the Isles of the Strangers” were the Hebrides, so called from being
long in possession of the Norsemen.

In 1690 Mr Kirk edited in Roman letters an edition of Bedel’s
Irish Bible, with O’Donnell’s New Testament, for the use of the
Highlanders. Kirk says in the title-page of the work, “Nocha ta
anois chum maitheas coit-cheann na nGaoidheil Albanach athruighte
go hair-each as an litir Eireandha chum na mion-litir shoileighidh
Romhanta” _which is now for the common good of the Highlanders
changed carefully from the Irish letter to the small readable Roman
letter_. At the close of the book there is a vocabulary of Irish
words with their Gaelic equivalents. Many of the equivalents are as
difficult to understand as the original Irish.

In 1694 the completed Psalm-book of the Synod of Argyle appeared. It
was very generally accepted, and although some editions of Kirk’s
Psalter appeared, the Synod’s Psalter became the Psalter of the
Church, and was the basis of all the metrical versions of the Gaelic
Psalms that have appeared since.

The Shorter Catechism was published in Gaelic by the Synod of Argyle
about the same time with their first fifty Psalms. Numerous editions
have been printed since, and perhaps there is no better specimen of
the Gaelic language in existence than what is to be found in the
common versions of it. The earlier versions are in the dialect so
often referred to, called Irish. The title of the book is “Foirceadul
aithghearr cheasnuighe, an dus ar na ordughadh le coimhthional na
Ndiaghaireadh ag Niarmhanister an Sasgan, &c.” That may be called
Irish, but it was a Scottish book written by Scottish men.

In 1725 the Synod of Argyle, who cannot be too highly commended for
their anxiety to promote the spiritual good of their countrymen in
the Highlands, published a translation of the Confession of Faith
into Gaelic. It is a small duodecimo volume printed at Edinburgh.
The Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with the Ten Commandments, the
Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed follow the Confession. The book is well
printed, and the language is still the so-called Irish. The title
runs:--“Admhail an Chreidimh, air an do reitigh air ttus coimhthionol
na nDiaghaireadh aig Niarmhoinister an Sasgan; &c.... ar na chur a
Ngaoidheilg le Seanadh Earraghaoidheal.” _The Confession of Faith,
&c., translated into Gaelic by the Synod of Argyle._

It is interesting with respect to the dialect in which all the
works referred to appear, to inquire whence the writers obtained
it, if it be simply Irish. Carsewell’s Prayer-book appeared before
any work in Irish Gaelic was printed. The ministers of the Synod of
Argyle were surely Scottish Highlanders and not Irishmen. Mr Kirk of
Balquhidder was a lowland Scot who acquired the Gaelic tongue. Now
these men, so far as we know, were never in Ireland, and there were
no Irish-Gaelic books from which they could acquire the tongue. There
might be manuscripts, but it is not very probable that men would
inspect manuscripts in order to enable them to write in a dialect
that was foreign to the people whom they intended to benefit. Yet
these all write in the same dialect, and with the identical same
orthography. Surely this proves that the Scottish Gael were perfectly
familiar with that dialect as the language of their literature, that
its orthography among them was fixed, that the practice of writing
it was common, as much so as among the Irish, and that the people
readily understood it. It is well known that the reading of the
Irish Bible was common in Highland churches down to the beginning
of this century, and that the letter was, from the abbreviations
used, called “A’ chorra litir,” and was familiar to the people.
At the same time, the language was uniformly called Irish, as the
people of the Highlands were called Irish, although there never was a
greater misnomer. Such a designation was never employed by the people
themselves, and was only used by those who wrote and spoke English.
In the title of the Confession of Faith published in Gaelic in 1725,
it is said to be translated into the Irish language by the Synod of


Religious works formed the staple of the literature issued from
the Gaelic press from the period now spoken of to the present day.
The great want for many years was the Bible. For a long time the
clergy used the Irish edition reprinted for the use of the Highlands
by Mr Kirk; but this was not satisfactory, from the difference of
the dialect; many in consequence preferred translating from the
English. This habit pervaded all classes, and it is not improbable
that there are in the Highlands still persons who prefer translating
the Scriptures for their own use to the common version. Certain
traditional forms of translation were at one time in general use,
and occasionally the translations given bordered on the ludicrous. A
worthy man was once translating the phrase “And they were astonied,”
and he made it “Bha iad air an clachadh,” _They were stoned_. It
was in every way desirable that a correct translation of the Gaelic
Bible should be provided for the use of the Highlands, and this
was finally undertaken by the Society for Propagating Christian
Knowledge. The person employed to perform the work was the Rev. James
Stewart of Killin, a man fully qualified for it, and although his
translation retained too much of the Irish dialect of O’Donnell’s
Irish New Testament, it was welcomed as a highly creditable work, and
as a great boon to the Highlands. Many minor changes have been made
in the Gaelic New Testament of 1767, but it has been the basis of
all subsequent editions which have sought merely to render certain
portions of the work more idiomatic and pleasing to a Scottish ear.
The publishing of this version of the New Testament proved a great
benefit to the Highlands.

Soon after the publication of the New Testament, it was resolved
that the Old Testament should be translated into Gaelic also. This
work, like the former, was undertaken by the Society for Propagating
Christian Knowledge, assisted by a collection made throughout the
congregations of the Church of Scotland amounting to £1483. The
principal translator employed was the Rev. Dr John Stewart of Luss,
son of the translator of the New Testament, who translated three
portions of the work, while a fourth portion, including the Prophets,
was executed by the Rev. Dr Smith, of Campbellton, the accomplished
editor of the Sean Dana. The whole work was completed and published
in the year 1801. This work has been of incalculable service to
the Highlands, and is one of the many benefits conferred upon that
portion of the country by the excellent Society who undertook it.
Objections have been taken to the many Irish idioms introduced into
the language, and to the extent to which the Irish orthography was
followed, but these are minor faults, and the work itself is entitled
to all commendation.


Much of our modern Gaelic prose literature consists of translations
from the English. In this the Gaelic differs from the Welsh, in which
is to be found a large amount of original prose writing on various
subjects. This has arisen from the demand for such a literature
being less among the Highlanders, among whom the English language
has made greater progress, so much so, that when a desire for
extensive reading exists, it is generally attended with a sufficient
knowledge of English. Translations of religious works, however, have
been relished, and pretty ample provision has been made to meet
the demand. The first book printed in modern Scottish Gaelic was a
translation of Baxter’s _Call to the Unconverted_, executed by the
Rev. Alex. M’Farlane, of Kilninver, and published in 1750. There is
much of the Irish orthography and idiom retained in this work, but it
is a near approach to the modern spoken language of the Highlands.
Since then many of the works of well-known religious authors have
been translated and published, among which may be mentioned works
by Boston, Bunyan, Brookes, Colquhoun, and Doddridge. These are
much prized and read throughout the Highlands. The translations are
of various excellence; some of them accurate and elegant, while
others are deficient in both these qualities. Dr Smith’s version of
Alleine’s _Alarm_ is an admirable specimen of translation, and is
altogether worthy of the fame of Dr Smith. The same may be said of
Mr M’Farlane’s translation of _The History of Joseph_, which is an
excellent specimen of Gaelic writing. The _Monthly Visitor_ tract has
been translated by the writer for the last twelve years, and it has a
large circulation.


Of these Mr Reid, in his _Bibliotheca Scoto-Celtica_, gives but a
scanty catalogue. He gives but a list of ten, most of them single
sermons. There are several other such writings, however, which
have been added since Reid’s list was made up. Among these appears
M’Kenzie’s _Bliadhna Thearlaich_, “Charles’s year,” a vigorous
well-written account of the rebellion of 1745-6. M’Kenzie was the
compiler of a volume of Gaelic poetry in which the best specimens of
the works of the bards are generally given, and although having ideas
of his own on the subject of orthography, few men knew the Gaelic
language better. We have also a volume on astronomy by the Rev. D.
Connell; and a _History of Scotland_ by the Rev. Angus Mackenzie,
both of them creditable performances. It is doubtful how far these
works have been patronised by the public, and how far they have been
of pecuniary benefit to their authors, but they are deserving works,
and if they have not proved a remunerative investment, it is from
want of interest on the part of the readers more than from want of
ability on the part of the writers. In addition to these have been
several magazines, the contents of which have in some instances been
collected into a volume and published separately. Of these are _An
teachdaire Gaidhealach_, “The Gaelic Messenger,” edited by the late
Rev. Dr M’Leod of Glasgow, and a Free Church magazine _An Fhianuis_,
“The Witness,” edited by the Rev. Dr Mackay, now of Harris. “The
Gaelic Messenger,” _An Teachdaire Gaidhealach_, contained a large
proportion of papers furnished by the editor, Dr M’Leod. These have
been since that time collected into a volume by his son-in-law the
Rev. Archibald Clerk of Kilmallie, and published under the title
of _Caraid nan Gaidheal_, “The Friend of the Highlanders.” This is
an admirable volume, containing, as it does, our best specimens
of racy, idiomatic Gaelic, of which Dr M’Leod was a master. It
is a most interesting addition to our Gaelic literature. Besides
this, Dr M’Leod produced _Leabhar nan Cnoc_, “The Book of the
Knowes,” a school collection of prose and poetry, and several other
lesser works. The _Leabhar nan Cnoc_ is an admirable collection
of fragments, well adapted for school use, and at the same time
interesting to the general reader.

But the most remarkable addition that has recently been made to
Gaelic prose literature is Mr J. F. Campbell’s collection of
“Sgeulachdan” or ancient Highland tales. It was long known that a
large amount of this kind of literature existed in the Highlands;
that it formed the treasure of the reciter, a character recognised
and appreciated in every small community; and that it was the staple
fireside amusement of many a winter evening. Specimens of this
literature appeared occasionally in print, and one of great interest,
and remarkably well given, called _Spiorad na h-aoise_, “The Spirit
of Age,” appears in _Leabhar nan Cnoc_, the collection already
spoken of. Mr Campbell set himself to collect this literature from
the traditions of the people, and he has embodied the result in four
goodly volumes, which every lover of the language and literature
of the Celt must prize. Many coadjutors aided Mr Campbell in his
undertaking, and he was happy in finding, as has been already said,
in Mr Hector M’Lean, teacher, Islay, a most efficient collector
and transcriber of the tales. These tales were known among the
Highlanders as “Sgeulachdan” Tales, or “Ursgeulan” Noble Tales, the
latter having reference usually to stories of the Fingalian heroes.
They are chiefly “Folk lore” of the kinds which are now known to
pervade the world amongst a certain class as their oral literature.
The Tales themselves are of various degrees of merit, and are
manifestly derived from various sources. Some of them took their
origin in the fertile imagination of the Celt, while others are
obviously of classical origin, and are an adaptation of ancient Greek
and Latin stories to the taste of the Celt of Scotland. Mr Campbell,
in his disquisitions accompanying the tales, which are often as
amusing and instructive as the tales themselves, traces numerous
bonds of connection between them and similar legends common to almost
all the European nations. He shows where they meet and where they
diverge, and makes it very clear that most of them must have had a
common origin. It has been maintained that many of these legends were
brought to Scotland by returning Crusaders; that they were often the
amusement of the camp among these soldiers of the ancient Church; and
that, related among hearers of all nations, they became dispersed
among those nations, and that thus Scotland came to obtain and to
retain her share of them.

That Scotland felt largely the influence of the Crusades cannot be
denied by any observant student of her history. Her whole political
and social system was modified by them, while to them is largely due
the place and power which the mediæval Church obtained under the
government of David I. That Scottish literature should have felt
their influence is more than likely, and it is possible, although
it is hardly safe to go further, that some of these tales of the
Scottish Highlands owe their existence to the wanderings of Scottish
Crusaders. Be their origin, however, what it may, they afford a
deeply interesting field of enquiry to the student of the popular
literature of the country. In our own view, they are of great value,
as presenting us with admirable specimens of idiomatic Gaelic. We
transcribe one tale, making use of the ordinary orthography of the
Gaelic, Mr Campbell having used forms of spelling which might serve
to express the peculiarities of the dialect in which he found them


  Bha bantrach ann roimhe so, ’us bha trì nigheanan aice, ’us
  thubhairt iad rithe, gu’n rachadh iad a dh’iarraidh an fhortain.
  Dheasaich i trì bonnaich. Thubhairt i ris an té mhòir, “Cò aca
  is fhearr leat an leth bheag ’us mo bheannachd, no’n leth mhòr
  ’s mo mhallachd?” “Is fhearr leam, ars’ ise, an leth mhòr ’us
  do mhallachd.” Thubhairt i ris an té mheadhonaich, “Co aca’s
  fhearr leat an leth bheag ’us mo bheannachd, no’n leth mhòr ’us mo
  mhallachd.” “Is fhearr leam an leth mhòr ’us do mhallachd,” ars’
  ise. Thubhairt i ris an té bhig, “Co aca ’s fhearr leat an leth mhòr
  ’us mo mhallachd, no’n leth bheag ’s mo bheannachd?” “Is fhearr leam
  an leth bheag’us do bheannachd.” Chord so r’a màthair, ’us thug i
  dhi an leth eile cuideachd.

  Dh’ fhalbh iad, ach cha robh toil aig an dithis ’bu shine an té
  ’b’òige ’bhi leo, ’us cheangail iad i ri carragh cloiche. Ghabh
  iad air an aghaidh, ’s ’n uair a dh’amhairc iad as an déigh, co a
  chunnaic iad ach ise ’us a’ chreig air a muin. Leig iad leatha car
  treis gus an d’ràinig iad cruach mhòine, ’us cheangail iad ris a
  chruaich mhòine i. Ghabh iad air an aghaidh treis, ’us dh’amhairc
  iad ’n an déigh, ’us cò a chunnaic iad ach ise a’ tighinn, ’s a’
  chruach mhòine air a muin. Leig iad leatha car tacan gus an d’ràinig
  iad craobh, ’us cheangail iad ris a’chraoibh i. Ghabh iad air an
  aghaidh treis, ’us ’n’uair a dh’amhairc iad ’n an déigh, cò a
  chunnaic iad ach ise a’ tighinn, ’s a’chraobh air a muin. Chunnaic
  iad nach robh maith bhí rithe. Dh’fhuasgail iad i ’us leig iad leo
  i. Bha iad a’ falbh gus an d’thàinig an oidhche orra. Chunnaic iad
  solus fada uatha, ’us ma b’fhada uatha, cha b’fhada bha iadsan ’g
  a ruigheachd. Chaidh iad a stigh. Ciod e bha so ach tigh famhair.
  Dh’iarr iad fuireach ’s an oidhche. Fhuair iad sin ’us chuireadh a
  luidhe iad le trì nigheanan an fhamhair.

  Bha caran de chneapan òmbair mu mhuinealan nigheanan an fhamhair,
  agus sreangan gaosaid mu’m muinealan-san. Choidil iad air fad, ach
  cha do choidil Maol a’ chliobain. Feadh na h-oidhche thàinig pathadh
  air an fhamhar. Ghlaodh e r’a ghille maol carrach uisge ’thoirt
  d’a ionnsuidh. Thubhairt an gille maol carrach nach robh deur a
  stigh. “Marbh, ars’ esan, té de na nigheanan coimheach, ’us thoir
  a’m ionnsuidhse a fuil.” “Ciamar a dh’ aithuicheas mi eatorra?”
  ars’ an gille maol carrach. “Tha caran de chneapan mu mhuinealan
  mo nigheanan-sa, agus caran gaosaid mu mhuinealan chàich.” Chuala
  Maol a chliobain am famhar, ’us cho clis ’s a b’urrainn i, chuir i
  na sreanganan gaosaid a bha m’a muineal féin agus mu mhuinealan a
  peathraichean mu mhuinealan nigheanan an fhamhair, agus na cneapan
  a bha mu mhuinealan nigheanan an fhamhair m’a muineal féin agus mu
  mhuinealan a peathraichean, ’us luidh i sios gu samhach. Thàinig
  an gille maol carrach, ’us mharbh e té de nigheanan an fhamhair,
  ’us thug e an fhuil d’a ionnsuidh. Dh’iarr e tuilleadh a thoirt d’a
  ionnsuidh. Mharbh e an ath thé. Dh’iarr e tuilleadh ’us mharbh e an
  treas té. Dhùisg Maol a’ chliobain a’ peathraichean, ’us thug i air
  a muin iad, ’us ghabh i air falbh. Mhothaich am famhar dith ’us lean
  e i.

  Na spreadan teine a bha ise ’cur as na clachan le a sàiltean, bha
  iad a’ bualadh an fhamhair ’s an smigead; agus na spreadan teine a
  bha am famhar ’toirt as na clachan le barraibh a chos, bha iad a’
  bualadh Mhaol a’ chliobain an cùl a’ chinn. Is e so ’bu dual doibh
  gus an d’ràinig iad amhainn. Leum Maol a’ chliobain an amhainn ’us
  cha b’urrainn am famhar an amhainn a leum. “Tha thu thall, a Mhaol
  a’ chliobain.” “Tha, ma’s oil leat.” “Mharbh thu mo thrì nigheanan
  maola, ruagha.” “Mharbh, ma ’s oil leat.” “’Us c’uine thig thu ris?”
  “Thig, ’n uair bheir mo ghnothuch ann mi.”

  Ghabh iad air an aghaidh gus an d’ràinig iad tigh tuathanaich. Bha
  aig an tuathanach tri mic. Dh’innis iad mar a thachair dhoibh. Ars’
  an tuatha ach ri Maol a’chliobain, “Bheir mi mo mhac a’s sine do’d
  phiuthair a’s sine, ’us faigh dhomh cìr mhìn òir, ’us cìr gharbh
  airgid, a th’aig an fhamhar.” “Cha chosd e tuilleadh dhuit,” ars’
  Maol a’ chliobain. Dh’fhalbh i ’us ràinig i tigh an fhamhair. Fhuair
  i stigh gun fhios. Thug i leatha na cìrean ’us dhalbh i mach.
  Mhothaich am famhar dhìth; ’us as a deigh a bha e gus an d’ràinig
  e an amhainn. Leum ise an amhainn ’us cha b’urrainn am famhar an
  amhainn a leum. “Tha thu thall, a Mhaol a’ chliobain.” “Tha, ma ’s
  oil leat.” “Mharbh, thu mo thrì nigheanan maola, ruagha.” “Mharbh,
  ma ’s oil leat.” “Ghoid thu mo chìr mhìn òir, ’us mo chìr gharbh
  airgid.” “Ghoid, ma ’s oil leat.” “C’ uine thig thu rìs?” “Thig, ’n
  uair bheir mo ghnothuch ann mi.”

  Thug i na cìrean thun an tuathanaich, ’us phòs a piuthair mhòr-sa
  mac mòr an tuathanaich.

  “Bheir mi mo mhac meadhonach do’d phiuthair mheadhonaich, ’us faigh
  dhomh claidheamh soluis an fhamhair.” “Cha chosd e tuilleadh dhuit,”
  ars’ Maol a’ chliobain. Ghabh i air falbh, ’us ràinig i tigh an
  fhamhair. Chaidh i suas ann an barr craoibhe ’bha os cionn tobair
  an fhamhair. Anns an oidhche thainig an gille maol carrach, ’us
  an claidheamh soluis leis, a dh’iarraidh uisge. An uair a chrom e
  a thogail an uisge, thainig Maol a’ chliobain a nuas, ’us phut i
  sios ’s an tobar e ’us bhàth i e, ’us thug i leatha an claidheamh
  soluis. Lean am famhar i gus an d’ràinig i an amhainn. Leum i an
  amhainn, ’us cha b’urrainn am famhar a leantuinn. “Tha thu thall,
  a Mhaol a’ chliobain.” “Tha, ma ’s oil leat.” “Mharbh thu mo thrì
  nigheanan maola, ruadha.” “Mharbh ma ’s oil leat.” “Ghoid thu mo
  chìr mhìn òir, ’s mo chìr gharbh airgid.” “Ghoid, ma ’s oil leat.”
  “Mharbh thu mo ghille maol carrach.” “Mharbh ma ’s oil leat.” “Ghoid
  thu mo chlaidheamh soluis.” “Ghoid, ma ’s oil leat.” “C’uine thig
  thu rìs.” “Thig, ’n uair bheir mo ghnothuch ann mi.” Ràinig i tigh
  an tuathanaich leis a’ chlaidheamh sholuis, ’us phòs a piuthair
  mheadhonach ’us mac meadhonach an tuathanaich.

  “Bheir mi dhuit féin mo mhac a’s òige,” ars’ an tuathanach, “’us
  thoir a’m ionnsuidh boc a th’aig an fhamhar.” “Cha chosd e tuilleadh
  dhuit” ars’ Maol a’ chliobain. Dh’fhalbh i ’us ràinig i tigh an
  fhamhair, ach an uair a bha greim aice air a bhoc, rug am famhar,
  oirre. “Ciod e” ars’ am famhar, “a dheanadh tus’ ormsa, nan deanainn
  uibhir a choire ort ’s a rinn thus’ ormsa.” “Bheirinn ort gu’n
  sgàineadh tu thu fhéin le brochan bainne; chuirinn an sin ann am poc
  thu; chrochainn thu ri druim an tighe; chuirinn teine fothad; ’us
  ghabhainn duit le cabar gus an tuiteadh thu ’n ad chual chrionaich
  air an ùrlar. Rinn am famhar brochan bainne ’us thugar dhìth ri òl
  e. Chuir ise am brochan bainne m’ a beul ’us m’ a h-eudainn, ’us
  luidh i seachad mar gu’m bitheadh i marbh. Chuir am famhar ann am
  poc i, ’us chroch e i ri druim an tighe, ’us dh’fhalbh e fhéin ’us a
  dhaoine a dh’iarraidh fiodha do’n choille. Bha màthair an fhamhair a
  stigh.” Theireadh Maol a’ chliobain ’n uair a dh’fhalbh am famhar,
  “Is mise ’tha ’s an t-sòlas, is mise ’tha ’s a chaithir òir.” “An
  leig thu mise ann?” ars’ a’ chailleach. “Cha leig, gu dearbh.”
  Mu dheireadh, leig i nuas am poca; chuir i stigh a’ chailleach,
  ’us cat, ’us laogh, ’us soitheach uachdair; thug i leatha am boc,
  ’us dh’fhalbh i. An uair a thainig am famhar, thoisich e fhéin
  ’us a dhaoine air a’ phoca leis na cabair. Bha a’ chailleach a’
  glaodhaich, “’S mi fhéin a th’ ann.” “Tha fios agam gur tu fhéin a
  th ’ann,” theireadh am famhar, ’us e ag éiridh air a’ phoca. Thàinig
  am poc’ a nuas ’n a chual’ chrionaich ’us ciod e ’bha ann ach a
  mhàthair. An uair a chunnaic am famhar mar a bha, thug e as an déigh
  Mhaol a’ chliobain. Lean e i gus an d’ràinig i an amhainn. Leum Maol
  a’ chliobain an amhainn ’us cha b’urrainn am famhar a leum. “Tha thu
  thall, a Mhaol a’ chliobain.” “Tha, ma ’s oil leat.” “Mharbh thu
  mo thrì nigheanan maola, ruadha.” “Mharbh, ma ’s oil leat.” “Ghoid
  thu mo chìr mhin òir, ’us mo chìr gharbh airgid.” “Ghoid, ma ’s oil
  leat.” “Mharbh thu mo ghille maol, carrach.” “Mharbh, ma ’s oil
  leat.” “Ghoid thu mo chlaidheamh soluis.” “Ghoid, ma ’s oil leat.”
  “Mharbh thu mo mhàthair.” “Mharbh, ma ’s oil leat.” “Ghoid thu mo
  bhoc.” “Ghoid, ma ’s oil leat.” “C’uine a thig thu rìs?” “Thig ’n
  uair bheir mo ghnothuch ann mi.” “Nam bitheadh tusa bhos ’us mise
  thall” ars’ am famhar, “Ciod e dheanadh tu airson mo leantuinn?”
  “Stopainn mi fhéin, agus dh’olainn gus an traoghainn, an amhainn.”
  Stop am famhar e fhéin, ’us dh’ òl e gus an do sgàin e. Phòs Maol a’
  chliobain Mac òg an tuathanaich.

_English Translation._

  There was a widow once of a time, and she had three daughters, and
  they said to her that they were going to seek their fortunes. She
  prepared three bannocks. She said to the big daughter, “Whether do
  you like best the little half with my blessing, or the big half with
  my curse?” “I like best,” said she, “the big half with your curse.”
  She said to the middle one, “Whether do you like best the big half
  with my curse, or the little half with my blessing?” “I like best,”
  said she, “the big half with your curse.” She said to the little
  one, “Whether do you like best the big half with my curse, or the
  little half with my blessing?” “I like best the little half with
  your blessing.” This pleased her mother, and she gave her the other
  half likewise.

  They left, but the two older ones did not wish to have the younger
  one with them, and they tied her to a stone. They held on, and when
  they looked behind them, whom did they see coming but her with the
  rock on her back. They let her alone for a while until they reached
  a stack of peats, and they tied her to the peat-stack. They held on
  for a while, when whom did they see coming but her with the stack of
  peats on her back. They let her alone for a while until they reached
  a tree, and they tied her to the tree. They held on, and whom did
  they see coming but her with the tree on her back. They saw that
  there was no use in meddling with her. They loosed her, and they let
  her come with them. They were travelling until night overtook them.
  They saw a light far from them, and if it was far from them they
  were not long reaching it. They went in. What was this but the house
  of a giant. They asked to remain overnight. They got that, and they
  were set to bed with the three daughters of the giant.

  There were turns of amber beads around the necks of the giant’s
  daughters, and strings of hair around their necks. They all slept,
  but Maol a chliobain kept awake. During the night the giant got
  thirsty. He called to his bald rough-skinned lad to bring him water.
  The bald rough-skinned lad said that there was not a drop within.
  “Kill,” said he, “one of the strange girls, and bring me her blood.”
  “How will I know them?” said the bald rough-skinned lad. “There are
  turns of beads about the necks of my daughters, and turns of hair
  about the necks of the rest.” Maol a chliobain heard the giant, and
  as quickly as she could she put the strings of hair that were about
  her own neck and the necks of her sisters about the necks of the
  giant’s daughters, and the beads that were about the necks of the
  giant’s daughters about her own neck and the necks of her sisters,
  and laid herself quietly down. The bald rough-skinned lad came and
  killed one of the daughters of the giant, and brought him her blood.
  He bade him bring him more. He killed the second one. He bade him
  bring him more, and he killed the third. Maol a chliobain wakened
  her sisters, and she took them on her back and went away. The giant
  observed her, and he followed her.

  The sparks of fire which she was driving out of the stones with her
  heels were striking the giant in the chin, and the sparks of fire
  that the giant was taking out of the stones with the points of his
  feet, they were striking Maol a chliobain in the back of her head.
  It was thus with them until they reached a river. Maol a chliobain
  leaped the river, and the giant could not leap the river. “You are
  over, Maol a chliobain.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “You killed my three
  bald red-skinned daughters.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “And when will
  you come again?” “I will come when my business brings me.”

  They went on till they reached a farmer’s house. The farmer had
  three sons. They told what happened to them. Says the farmer to Maol
  a chliobain, “I will give my eldest son to your eldest sister, and
  get for me the smooth golden comb and the rough silver comb that
  the giant has.” “It won’t cost you more,” said Maol a chliobain.
  She left and reached the giant’s house. She got in without being
  seen. She took the combs and hastened out. The giant observed her,
  and after her he went until they reached the river. She leaped
  the river, and the giant could not leap the river. “You are over,
  Maol a chliobain.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “You killed my three bald
  red-skinned daughters.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “You stole my smooth
  golden comb and my rough silver comb.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “When
  will you come again.” “When my business brings me.”

  She brought the combs to the farmer, and the big sister married the
  big son of the farmer.

  “I will give my middle son to your middle sister, and get for me
  the giant’s sword of light.” “It won’t cost you more,” says Maol a
  chliobain. She went away, and reached the giant’s house. She went
  up in the top of a tree that was above the giant’s well. In the
  night the bald, rough-skinned lad came for water, having the sword
  of light with him. When he bent over to raise the water, Maol a
  chliobain came down and pushed him into the well and drowned him,
  and took away the sword of light. The giant followed her till she
  reached the river. She leaped the river, and the giant could not
  follow her. “You are over, Maol a chliobain.” “Yes, if it vex you.”
  “You killed my three bald red-haired daughters.” “Yes, if it vex
  you.” “You stole my smooth golden comb and my rough silver comb.”
  “Yes, if it vex you.” “You killed my bald rough-skinned lad.” “Yes,
  if it vex you.” “You stole my sword of light.” “Yes, if it vex
  you.” “When will you come again?” “When my business brings me.” She
  reached the farmer’s house with the sword of light, and her middle
  sister married the middle son of the farmer.

  “I will give yourself my youngest son,” said the farmer, “and bring
  me the buck that the giant has.” “It won’t cost you more,” said
  Maol a chliobain. She went and she reached the giant’s house, but
  as she got hold of the buck, the giant laid hands upon her. “What,”
  said the giant, “would you do to me if I had done to you as much
  harm as you have done to me?” “I would make you burst yourself with
  milk porridge. I would then put you in a bag; I would hang you to
  the roof of the house; I would place fire under you; and I would
  beat you with sticks until you fell a bundle of dry sticks on the
  floor.” The giant made milk porridge, and gave it her to drink. She
  spread the milk porridge over her mouth and her face, and lay down
  as if she had been dead. The giant put her in a bag which he hung to
  the roof of the house, and he and his men went to the wood to get
  sticks. The mother of the giant was in. When the giant went away,
  Maol a chliobain cried, “It is I that am in comfort; it is I that
  am in the golden seat.” “Will you let me there?” said the hag. “No,
  indeed.” At length she let down the bag; she put the hag inside,
  and a cat, and a calf, and a dish of cream; she took away the buck,
  and she left. When the giant came, he and his men fell upon the
  bag with the sticks. The hag was crying out, “It’s myself that’s
  here.” “I know it is yourself that’s there,” the giant would say,
  striking the bag. The bag fell down a bundle of dry sticks, and what
  was there but his mother. When the giant saw how it was, he set off
  after Maol a chliobain. He followed her till she reached the river.
  Maol a chliobain leaped the river, but the giant could not leap the
  river. “You are over, Maol a chliobain.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “You
  killed my three bald red-skinned daughters.” “Yes, if it vex you.”
  “You stole my smooth golden comb and my rough silver comb.” “Yes, if
  it vex you.” “You killed my bald, rough-skinned lad.” “Yes, if it
  vex you.” “You stole my sword of light.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “You
  killed my mother.” “Yes, if it vex you.” “You stole my buck.” “Yes,
  if it vex you.” “When will you come again?” “When my business brings
  me.” “If you were over here and I over there, what would you do to
  follow me?” “I would stop myself up, and I would drink until I dried
  the river.” The giant stopped himself up, and drunk until he burst.
  Maol a chliobain married the young son of the farmer.

The above is a fair specimen of these tales with which the
story-tellers of the Highlands were wont to entertain their
listeners, and pass agreeably a long winter evening. The versions
of such tales are various, but the general line of the narrative is
always the same. Scores of these tales may still be picked up in the
West Highlands, although Mr Campbell has sifted them most carefully
and skilfully, and given to the public those which are undoubtedly
best. The following is a specimen referring to the famous Tom na
h-iùbhraich, in the neighbourhood of Inverness. It was taken down
by the writer from the recital of an Ardnamurchan man in Edinburgh,
and has never been printed before. The resemblance of a portion of
it to what is told of Thomas the Rhymer and the Eildon Hills, is too
close to escape observation. These tales are valuable as preserving
admirable specimens of the idioms of the Gaelic language.



  Bha fear air astar uaireigin mu thuath, a réir coslais, mu
  Shiorramachd Inbhirnis. Bha e a’ coiseachd là, ’us chunnaic e fear
  a’ buain sgrath leis an làr-chaipe. Thainig e far an robh an duine.
  Thubhairt e ris, “Oh, nach sean sibhse, ’dhuine, ris an obair sin.”
  Thubhairt an duine ris, “Oh, nam faiceadh tu m’athair, is e a’s
  sine na mise.” “D’athair” ars’ an duine, “am bheil d’athair beò
  ’s an t-saoghal fhathasd?” “Oh, tha” ars’ esan. “C’àite am bheil
  d’athair” ars’ esan, “am b’urrainn mi ’fhaicinn?” “Uh, is urrainn”
  ars’ esan, “tha e a’ tarruing dhathigh nan sgrath.” Dh’innis e an
  rathad a ghabhadh e ach am faiceadh e ’athair. Thàinig e far an
  robh e. Thubhairt e ris, “Nach sean sibhse, ’dhuine, ris an obair
  sin.” “Uh,” ars’ esan, “nam faiceadh tu m’ athair, is e a ’s sine na
  mise.” “Oh, am bheil d’athair ’s an t-saoghai fhathasd?” “Uh, tha,”
  ars’ esan. “C’aite am bheil e” ars’ esan, “an urrainn mi ’fhaicinn?”
  “Uh, is urrainn,” ars’ esan, “tha e a’ tilgeadh nan sgrath air an
  tigh.” Ràinig e am fear a bha ’tilgeadh nan sgrath. “Oh, nach sean
  sibhse, ’dhuine, ris an obair sin,” ars’ esan. “Uh, nam faiceadh
  tu m’athair,” ars’ esan, “tha e mòran na ’s sine na mise.” “Am
  bheil d’athair agam r’a fhaicinn?” “Uh, tha,” ars’ esan, “rach
  timchioll, ’us chi thu e a’cur nan sgrath.” Thainig e ’us chunnaic
  e am fear a bha ’cur nan sgrath. “Oh, a dhuine” ars’ esan, “is mòr
  an aois a dh’fheumas sibse a bhi.” “Oh,” ars’ esan, “nam faiceadh tu
  m’athair.” “An urrainn mi d’athair fhaicinn?” ars’ esan, “C’àite am
  bheil e?” “Mata” ars’ an duine, is òlach tapaidh coltach thu, tha mi
  ’creidsinn gu’m faod mi m’athair a shealltuinn duit. “Tha e,” ars’
  esan, “stigh ann an geadan clòimhe an ceann eile an tighe.” Chaidh
  e stigh leis ’g a fhaicinn. Bha na h-uile gin diùbhsan ro mhòr,
  nach ’eil an leithid a nis r’a fhaotainn. “Tha duine beag an so,”
  ars esan, ’athair, “air am bheil coslas òlaich thapaidh, Albannach,
  ’us toil aige ’ur faicinn.” Bhruidhinn e ris, ’us thubbairt e, “Co
  as a thàinig thu? Thoir dhomh do làmh, ’Albannaich.” Thug a mhac
  làmh air seann choltair croinn a bha ’na luidhe làimh riu. Shnaim e
  aodach uime. “Thoir dha sin,” ars’ esan ris an Albannach, “’us na
  toir dha do làmh.” Rug an seann duine air a’ choltair, ’us a’ cheann
  eile aig an duine eile ’na làimh. An àite an coltair a bhi leathann,
  rinn e cruinn e, ’us dh’fhàg e làrach nan cuig meur ann, mar gu’m
  bitheadh uibe taois ann. “Nach cruadalach an làmh a th’agad,
  ’Albannaich,” ars’ esan, “Nam bitheadh do chridhe cho cruadalach,
  tapaidh, dh’iarrainnse rud ort nach d’iarr mi’ air fear roimhe.”
  “Ciod e sin, a dhuine?” ars’ esan, “ma tha ni ann a’s urrainn mise
  ’dheanamh, ni mi e.” “Bheirinnse dhuit” ars’ esan, “fìdeag a tha an
  so, agus fiosraichidh tu far am bheil Tòm na h-iùbhraich, laimh ri
  Inbhirnis, agus an uair a theid thu ann, chi thu creag bheag, ghlas,
  air an dara taobh dheth.” An uair a’ theid thu a dh’ionnsuidh na
  creige, chi thu mu mheudachd doruis, ’us air cumadh doruis bhige air
  a’ chreig. Buail sròn do choise air trì uairean, ’us air an uair mu
  dheireadh fosgailidh e. Dh’fhalbh e, ’us ràinig e ’us fhuair e an
  dorus.” Thubhairt an seann duine ris, “An uair a dh’fhosgaileas tu
  an dorus, seirmidh tu an fhìdeag, bheir thu tri seirmean oirre ’us
  air an t-seirm mu dheireadh,” ars’ esan, “eiridh leat na bhitheas
  stigh, ’us ma bhitheas tu cho tapaidh ’us gun dean thu siu, is
  fheairrd thu fhéin e ’us do mhac, ’us d’ ogha, ’us d’iar-ogha.” Thug
  e a’ cheud sheirm air an fhìdeag. Sheall e ’us stad e. Shin na coin
  a bha ’n an luidhe làthair ris na daoinibh an cosan, ’us charaich
  na daoine uile. Thug e an ath sheirm oirre. Dh’éirich na daoine
  air an uilnibh ’us dh’éirich na coin ’n an suidhe. Thionndaidh am
  fear ris an dorus, ’us ghabh e eagal. Tharruing e an dorus ’n a
  dhéigh. Ghlaodh iadsan uile gu léir, “Is miosa ’dh’fhàg na fhuair,
  is miosa ’dh’fhàg na fhuair.” Dh’fhalbh e ’n a ruith. Thàinig e gu
  lochan uisge, a bha an sin, ’us thilg e an fhìdeag anns an lochan.
  Dhealaich mise riu.

_English Translation._



  There was a man once on a journey in the north, according to all
  appearance in the sheriffdom of Inverness. He was travelling one
  day, and he saw a man casting divots with the flaughter-spade. He
  came to where the man was. He said to him, “Oh, you are very old to
  be employed in such work.” The man said to him, “Oh, if you saw my
  father, he is much older than I am.” “Your father,” said the man, “is
  your father alive in the world still?” “Oh, yes,” said he. “Where is
  your father?” said he; “could I see him?” “Oh, yes,” said he, “he
  is leading home the divots.” He told him what way he should take in
  order to see his father. He came where he was. He said to him “You
  are old to be engaged in such work.” “Oh,” said he, “if you saw my
  father, he is older than I.” “Oh, is your father still in the world?”
  “Oh, yes,” said he. “Where is your father?” said he; “can I see him!”
  “Oh, yes,” said he, “he is reaching the divots at the house.” He came
  to the man who was reaching the divots. “Oh, you are old,” said he,
  “to be employed in such work.” “Oh, if you saw my father,” said he,
  “he is much older than I.” “Is your father to be seen?” said he. “Oh,
  yes, go round the house and you will see him laying the divots on the
  roof.” He came and he saw the man who was laying the divots on the
  roof. “Oh, man,” said he, “you must be a great age.” “Oh, if you saw
  my father.” “Oh, can I see your father; where is he?” “Well,” said
  the man, “you look like a clever fellow; I daresay I may show you my
  father.” “He is,” said he, “inside in a tuft of wool in the further
  end of the house.” He went in with him to show him to him. Every
  one of these men was very big, so much so that their like is not to
  be found now. “There is a little man here,” said he to his father,
  “who looks like a clever fellow, a Scotchman, and he is wishful to
  see you.” He spoke to him, and said, “Where did you come from? Give
  me your hand, Scotchman.” His son laid hold of the old coulter of a
  plough that lay there. He knotted a cloth around it. “Give him that,”
  said he to the Scotchman, “and don’t give him your hand.” The old man
  laid hold of the coulter, while the man held the other end in his
  hand. Instead of the coulter being broad, he made it round, and left
  the mark of his five fingers in it as if it were a lump of leaven.
  “You have a brave hand, Scotchman,” said he. “If your heart were as
  brave and clever, I would ask something of you that I never asked of
  another.” “What is that, man?” said he; “if there is anything that
  I can do, I shall do it.” “I would give you,” said he, “a whistle
  that I have here, and you will find out where Tomnahurich is near
  Inverness, and when you find it you will see a little grey rock on
  one side of it. When you go to the rock you will see about the size
  of a door, and the shape of a little door in the rock. Strike the
  point of your foot three times, and at the third time it will open.”
  He went away, and he reached and found the door. “When you open the
  door,” the old man said, “you will sound the whistle; you will sound
  it thrice. At the third sounding all that are within will rise along
  with you; and if you be clever enough to do that, you, and your
  son, and your grandson, and your great-grandson, will be the better
  of it.” He gave the first sound on the whistle. He looked, and he
  stopped. The dogs that lay near the men stretched their legs, and
  all the men moved. He gave the second sound. The men rose on their
  elbows, and the dogs sat up. The man turned to the door and became
  frightened. He drew the door after him. They all cried out, “Left us
  worse than he found us; left us worse than he found us.” He went away
  running. He came to a little fresh water loch that was there, and he
  threw the whistle into the loch. I left them.

These specimens give a good idea of the popular prose literature of
the Highlands. Whence it was derived it is difficult to say. It may
have originated with the people themselves, but many portions of it
bear the marks of having been derived even, as has been said, from an
Eastern source, while the last tale which has been transcribed above
gives the Highland version of an old Scottish tradition.


Gaelic poetry is voluminous. Exclusive of the Ossianic poetry which
has been referred to already, there is a long catalogue of modern
poetical works of various merit. Fragments exist of poems written
early in the 17th century, such as those prefixed to the edition
of Calvin’s Catechism, printed in 1631. One of these, _Faosid Eoin
Steuart Tighearn na Happen_, “The Confession of John Stewart, laird
of Appin,” savours more of the Church of Rome than of the Protestant
faith. To this century belongs also the poetry of John Macdonell,
usually called Eoin Lorn, and said to have been poet-laureate to
Charles II. for Scotland. Other pieces exist of the same period, but
little would seem to have been handed down to us of the poetry of
this century.

We have fragments belonging to the early part of the 17th century in
the introduction to “Lhuyd’s Archæologia.” These are of much interest
to the Gaelic student. In 1751 appeared the first edition of Songs
by Alexander Macdonald, usually called Mac Mhaighistir Alasdair.
These songs are admirable specimens of Gaelic versification, giving
the highest idea of the author’s poetical powers. Many editions of
them have appeared, and they are very popular in the Highlands.
Macintyre’s poems appeared in 1768. Macdonald and he stand at the
very top of the list of Gaelic poets. They are both distinguished
by the power and the smoothness of their composition. Macdonald’s
highest gifts are represented in his _Biorluinn Chloinn Raonuill_,
“Clan Ranald’s Galley,” and Macintyre’s in his _Beinn Dobhrain_, “Ben

Later than Macintyre, Ronald M’Donald, commonly called Raonull Dubh,
or Black Ranald, published an excellent collection of Gaelic songs.
This Ranald was son to Alexander already referred to, and was a
schoolmaster in the island of Eigg. His collection is largely made
up of his father’s compositions, but there are songs of his own and
of several other composers included. Many of the songs of this period
are Jacobite, and indicate intense disloyalty to the Hanoverian royal

Gillies’s Collection in 1786 is an admirable one, containing many of
the genuine Ossianic fragments. This collection is of real value to
the Gaelic scholar, although it is now difficult to be had.

In addition to these, and at a later period, we have Turner’s
Collection and Stewart’s Collection, both of them containing many
excellent compositions. We have, later still, M’Kenzie’s Beauties
of Gaelic Poetry, and we have, besides these, separate volumes of
various sizes; by the admirable religious bard, Dugald Buchanan; by
Rob Donn, the Reay bard; William Ross, the Gairloch bard; and many
others, who would form a long catalogue. As might be supposed, the
pieces included in these collections are of various merit, but there
is much really good poetry worthy of the country which has cultivated
the poetic art from the earliest period of its history, and a country
which, while it gave to Gaelic poetry such a name as Ossian, gave to
the poetry of England the names of Thomas Campbell and Lord Macaulay.


There are no early treatises on the structure and composition of the
Gaelic language, such as the ancient MS. writings which still exist
on Irish Grammar. Still, so early as the middle of last century,
the subject had excited notice, and demands began to exist for a
grammatical treatise on the Gaelic language. The first attempt to
meet this demand was made by the Rev. William Shaw, at one time
minister of Ardclach, in Nairnshire, and afterwards a resident in
England; the author of a Gaelic dictionary, and an associate of
Johnson’s in opposing M’Pherson and his Ossian, as it was called by
adversaries. Shaw’s Grammar is made of no account by Dr Stewart, in
the reference which he makes to it in his excellent grammar; but
the work is interesting as the first attempt made to reduce Gaelic
grammar to shape at all, and as showing several indications of a
fair, if not a profound scholarship. That the volume, however, is
to be held in any way as a correct analysis of the Gaelic language,
is out of the question. Mr Shaw presents his readers, at the end
of his volume, with specimens of Gaelic writing, which he intends
to settle the orthography of the language. Anything more imperfect
than the orthography of these specimens can hardly be conceived--at
least it is of a kind that makes the language in many of the words
unintelligible to any ordinary reader. Mr Shaw’s Grammar reached a
second edition, showing the interest that was taken in the subject at
the time.

An abler scholar, in the person of the Rev. Dr Stewart, of Moulin,
Dingwall, and the Canongate, Edinburgh, successively, took up the
subject of Gaelic grammar after Mr Shaw. Mr Stewart was an eminent
minister of the Scottish Church. Few ministers stood higher than
he did as a preacher, and few laboured more assiduously in their
pastoral work; still he found time for literary studies, and to none
did he direct more of his care than to that of his native Gaelic. A
native of Perthshire himself, he made himself acquainted with all
the dialects of the tongue, and gives an admirable analysis of the
language as it appears in the Gaelic Bible. Few works of the kind are
more truly philosophical. The modesty which is ever characteristic
of genius distinguishes every portion of it, while the work is of a
kind that does not admit of much emendation. If it be defective in
any part, it is in the part that treats of syntax. There the rules
laid down comprehend but few of those principles which govern the
structure of the language, and it is necessary to have recourse to
other sources for information regarding many of the most important of

A third grammar was published about thirty years ago by Mr James
Munro, at the time parish schoolmaster of Kilmonivaig. This volume
is highly creditable to Mr Munro’s scholarship, and in many respects
supplied a want that was felt by learners of the language. The
numerous exercises with which the work abounds are of very great
value, and must aid the student much in its acquisition.

A double grammar, in both Gaelic and English, by the Rev. Mr Forbes,
latterly minister of Sleat, presents a very fair view of the
structure of the Gaelic language, while grammars appear attached to
several of the existing dictionaries. There is a grammar prefixed
to the dictionary of the Highland Society, another to that of
Mr Armstrong, and a third to that of Mr M’Alpine. All these are
creditable performances, and worthy of perusal. In fact, if the
grammar of the Gaelic language be not understood, it is not for
want of grammatical treatises. There are seven or eight of them in

Mr Shaw, in the introduction to his grammar, says:--“It was not the
mercenary consideration of interest, nor, perhaps, the expectation
of fame among my countrymen, in whose esteem its beauties are too
much faded, but a taste for the beauties of the original speech of a
now learned nation, that induced me either to begin, or encouraged
me to persevere in reducing to grammatical principles a language
spoken only by imitation; while, perhaps, I might be more profitably
employed in tasting the various productions of men, ornaments of
human nature, afforded in a language now teeming with books. I beheld
with astonishment the learned in Scotland, since the revival of
letters, neglect the Gaelic as if it was not worthy of any pen to
give a rational account of a speech used upwards of 2000 years by the
inhabitants of more than one kingdom. I saw with regret, a language
once famous in the western world, ready to perish, without any
memorial; a language by the use of which Galgacus having assembled
his chiefs, rendered the Grampian hills impassable to legions that
had conquered the world, and by means of which Fingal inspired his
warriors with the desire of immortal fame.”

That the Gaelic language is worthy of being studied, the researches
of modern philologers have amply proved. For comparative philology
it is of the highest value, being manifestly one of the great links
in the chain of Aryan languages. Its close relation to the classical
languages gives it a place almost peculiar to itself. In like manner
its study throws light on national history. Old words appear in
charters and similar documents which a knowledge of Gaelic can alone
interpret, while for the study of Scottish topography the knowledge
of it is essential. From the Tweed to the Pentland Frith words appear
in every part of the country which can only be analysed by the Gaelic
scholar. In this view the study of the language is important, and
good grammars are of essential value for its prosecution.


At an early period vocabularies of Gaelic words began to be compiled
for the benefit of readers of the language. The first of these
appears attached to Mr Kirk’s edition of Bedell’s Irish Bible, to
which reference has been made already. The list of words is not very
extensive, and, as has been said, the equivalents of the words given
are in many cases as difficult to understand as the words themselves.
Mr Kirk’s object in his vocabulary is to explain Irish words in
Bedell’s Bible to Scottish readers.

In 1707 Lhuyd’s _Archæologia Britannica_ appeared. It contains a
grammar of the Iberno-Scottish Gaelic, and a vocabulary which is in a
large measure a vocabulary of the Gaelic of Scotland. All that this
learned writer did was done in a manner worthy of a scholar. His
vocabulary, although defective, is accurate so far as it goes, and
presents us with a very interesting and instructive view of the state
of the language in his day. Lhuyd’s volume is one which should be
carefully studied by every Celtic scholar.

In 1738 the Rev. David Malcolm, minister at Duddingstone, published
an essay on the antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland, with the
view of showing the affinity betwixt “the languages of the ancient
Britons and the Americans of the Isthmus of Darien.” In this essay
there is a list of Gaelic words beginning with the letter A,
extending to sixteen pages, and a list of English words with their
Gaelic equivalents, extending to eight pages. Mr Malcolm brought
the project of compiling a Gaelic dictionary before the General
Assembly of the Scottish Church, and he seems to have had many
conferences with Highland ministers friendly to his object. The
Assembly appointed a committee on the subject, and they reported most
favourably of Mr Malcolm’s design. Still the work never seems to have
gone farther; and beyond the lists referred to, we have no fruits
of Mr Malcolm’s labours. Mr Malcolm calls the language Irish, as was
uniformly done by English writers at the time, and spells the words
after the Irish manner.

Three years after the publication of Mr Malcolm’s essay in the year
1741, the first attempt at a complete vocabulary of the Gaelic
language appeared. The compiler was Alexander M’Donald, at the time
schoolmaster of Ardnamurchan, known throughout the Highlands as Mac
Mhaighistir Alasdair, and a bard of high reputation. The compilation
was made at the suggestion of the Society for Propagating Christian
Knowledge, in whose service M’Donald was at the time. The Society
submitted the matter to the Presbytery of Mull, and the Presbytery
committed the matter to M’Donald as the most likely man within their
bounds to execute the work in a satisfactory manner. M’Donald’s
book is dedicated to the Society, and he professes a zeal for
Protestantism, although he turned over to the Church of Rome himself
on the landing of Charles Edward in the Highlands in 1745. The
vocabulary is arranged under the heads of subjects, and not according
to the letters of the alphabet. It begins with words referring to
God, and so on through every subject that might suggest itself. It is
upon the whole well executed, seeing that the author was the pioneer
of Gaelic lexicographers; but the publishers found themselves obliged
to insert a caveat in an advertisement at the close of the volume,
in which they say that “all or most of the verbs in this vocabulary
from page 143 to page 162 are expressed in the Gaelic by single
words, though our author generally expresses them by a needless
circumlocution.” M’Donald’s orthography is a near approach to that of
modern Gaelic writing.

In 1780 the Rev. Mr Shaw, the author of the Gaelic grammar already
referred to, published a dictionary of the Gaelic language in
two volumes, the one volume being Gaelic-English, and the other
English-Gaelic. This work did not assume a high place among scholars.

Following upon Shaw’s work was that of Robert M’Farlane in 1795. This
vocabulary is of little value to the student.

Robert M’Farlane’s volume was followed in 1815 by that of Peter
M’Farlane, a well known translator of religious works. The collection
of words is pretty full, and the work upon the whole is a creditable

Notwithstanding all these efforts at providing a dictionary of the
Gaelic language, it was felt by scholars that the want had not
been really supplied. In those circumstances Mr R. A. Armstrong,
parish schoolmaster of Kenmore, devoted his time and talents to the
production of a work that might be satisfactory. The Gaelic language
was not Mr Armstrong’s mother tongue, and he had the great labour
to undergo of acquiring it. Indefatigable energy, with the genius
of a true scholar, helped him over all his difficulties, and, after
years of toil, he produced a work of the highest merit, and one whose
authority is second to none as an exposition of the Scoto-Celtic

Mr Armstrong’s dictionary was succeeded by that of the Highland
Society of Scotland, which was published in two quarto volumes in
1828. A portion of the labour of this great work was borne by Mr Ewen
Maclachlan of Aberdeen, the most eminent Celtic scholar of his day.
Mr Maclachlan brought the most ample accomplishments to the carrying
out of the undertaking; a remarkable acquaintance with the classical
languages, which he could write with facility, a very extensive
knowledge of the Celtic tongues, and a mind of remarkable acuteness
to discern distinctions and analogies in comparative philology.
But he died ere the work was far advanced, and other scholars had
to carry it through. The chief of these was the Rev. Dr M’Leod of
Dundonald, aided by the Rev. Dr Irvine of Little Dunkeld, and the
Rev. Alexander M’Donald of Crieff; and the whole was completed and
edited under the superintendence of the Rev. Dr Mackay, afterwards of
Dunoon, to whose skill and care much of the value of the work is due.

In 1831 an octavo dictionary by the Rev. Dr Macleod of Glasgow, and
the Rev. D. Dewar, afterwards Principal Dewar of Aberdeen, appeared.
It is drawn largely from the dictionary of the Highland Society, and
is an exceedingly good and useful book.

There is a still later dictionary by Mr Neil M’Alpine, schoolmaster
in Islay. It is an excellent vocabulary of the Islay dialect, with
some features peculiar to itself, especially directions as to the
pronouncing of the words, which, from the peculiar orthography of the
Gaelic, the learner requires.

It will be seen from the above list that there is no lack of
Gaelic dictionaries any more than of Gaelic grammars, and that
some of the dictionaries are highly meritorious. And yet there is
room for improvement still if competent hands could be found. The
student of Scottish topography meets with innumerable words which
he feels assured are of the Scoto-Celtic stock. He applies to his
dictionaries, and he almost uniformly finds that the words which
puzzle him are absent. There seems to have been an entire ignoring of
this source for words on the part of all the Gaelic lexicographers,
and from the number of obsolete words found in it, but which an
acquaintance with ancient MS. literature helps to explain, a large
supply, and a supply of the deepest interest, might be found. Irish
dictionaries afford considerable aid in searching this field, but
Gaelic dictionaries furnish very little. At the same time it must be
remembered that topography is itself a recent study, and that men’s
minds have only latterly been more closely directed to these words.

We have thus given a general view of the literature of the Scottish
Gael. It is not extensive, but it is full of interest. That the
language was at one time subjected to cultivation cannot be doubted
by any man acquainted with the literary history of the Celtic race.
The MSS. which exist are enough to demonstrate the fact, of which no
rational doubt can exist, that an immense number of such MSS. have
perished. An old Gaelic MS. was once seen in the Hebrides cut down by
a tailor to form measuring tapes for the persons of his customers.
These MSS. treated of various subjects, Philology, theology, and
science found a place among Celtic scholars, while poetry was largely
cultivated. The order of bards ensured this, an order peculiar to the
Celts. Johnson’s estimate of the extent of ancient Celtic culture was
an entirely mistaken one, and shows how far prejudice may operate
towards the perversion of truth, even in the case of great and good


Of the Gaelic language in which this literature exists, this is
not the place to say much. To know it, it is necessary to study
its grammars and dictionaries, and written works. With regard
to the class of languages to which it belongs, many and various
opinions were long held; but it has been settled latterly without
room for dispute that it belongs to the Indo-European, or, as it is
now called, the Aryan class. That it has relations to the Semitic
languages cannot be denied, but these are no closer than those of
many others of the same class. Its relation to both the Greek and
the Latin, especially to the latter, is very close, many of the
radical words in both languages being almost identical. Natural
objects, for instance, and objects immediately under observation,
have terms wonderfully similar to represent them. _Mons_, a
mountain, appears in the Gaelic _Monadh_; _Amnis_, a river, appears
in _Amhainn_; _Oceanus_, the ocean, in _Cuan_; _Muir_, the sea,
in _Mare_; _Caballus_, a horse, in _Capull_; _Equus_, a horse, in
_Each_; _Canis_, a dog, in _Cu_; _Sol_, the sun, in _Solus_, light;
_Salus_, safety, in _Slainte_; _Rex_, a king, in _Righ_; _Vir_, a
man, in _Fear_; _Tectum_, a roof, in _Tigh_; _Monile_, a necklace, in
_Muineal_. This list might be largely extended, and serves to bring
out to what an extent original terms in Gaelic and Latin correspond.
The same is true of the Greek, but not to the same extent.

At the same time there is a class of words in Gaelic which are
derived directly from the Latin. These are such words as have been
introduced into the service of the church. Christianity having come
into Scotland from the European Continent, it was natural to suppose
that with it terms familiar to ecclesiastics should find their way
along with the religion. This would have occurred to a larger extent
after the Roman hierarchy and worship had been received among the
Scots. Such words as _Peacadh_, sin; _Sgriobtuir_, the scriptures;
_Faosaid_, confession; _aoibhrinn_, mass or offering; _Caisg_,
Easter; _Inid_, initium or shrove-tide; _Calainn_, new year’s day;
_Nollaig_, Christmas; _Domhnach_, God or Dominus; _Diseart_, a
hermitage; _Eaglais_, a church; _Sagart_, a priest; _Pearsa_ or
_Pearsoin_, a parson; _Reilig_, a burying place, from _reliquiæ_;
_Ifrionn_, hell; are all manifestly from the Latin, and a little care
might add to this list. It is manifest that words which did not exist
in the language must be borrowed from some source, and whence so
naturally as from the language which was, in fact, the sacred tongue
in the early church.

But besides being a borrower, the Gaelic has been largely a
contributor to other languages. What is usually called Scotch is
perhaps the greatest debtor to the Gaelic tongue, retaining, as it
does, numerous Gaelic words usually thought to be distinctive of
itself. A list of these is not uninteresting, and the following
is given as a contribution to the object:--Braw, from the Gaelic
_Breagh_, pretty; Burn, from _Burn_, water; Airt, from _Airde_, a
point of the compass; Baugh, from _Baoth_, empty; Kebbuck, from
_Càbaig_, a cheese; Dour, from _Dùr_, hard; Fey, from _Fé_, a rod
for measuring the dead; Teem, from _Taom_, to empty; Sicker, from
_Shicker_, sure, retained in Manx; Leister, from _Lister_, a fishing
spear, Manx; Chiel, from _Gille_, a lad; Skail, from _Sgaoil_, to
disperse; Ingle, from _Aingeal_, fire; Arles, from _Earlas_, earnest;
Sain, from _Sean_, to consecrate. This list, like the former, might
be much increased, and shows how relics of the Gaelic language may
be traced in the spoken tongue of the Scottish Lowlands after the
language itself has retired. Just in like manner, but arising from
a much closer relation, do relics of the Celtic languages appear in
the Greek and Latin. The fact seems to be that a Celtic race and
tongue did at one time occupy the whole of Southern Europe, spreading
themselves from the Hellespont along the shores of the Adriatic, and
the western curves of the Mediterranean, bounded on the north by the
Danube and the Rhine, and extending to the western shores of Ireland.
Of this ample evidence is to be found in the topography of the whole
region; and the testimony of that topography is fully borne out by
that of the whole class of languages still occupying the region, with
the exception of the anomalous language of Biscay, and the Teutonic
speech carried by the sword into Britain and other northern sections
of it.

Mere resemblance of words does not establish identity of class among
languages, such a similarity being often found to exist, when in
other respects the difference is radical. It requires similarity of
idiom and grammatical structure to establish the existence of such
an identity. This similarity exists to a remarkable extent between
the Gaelic and the Latin. There is not space here for entering into
details, but a few examples may be given. There is no indefinite
article in either language, the simple form of the noun including
in it the article, thus, a man is _fear_, Latin _vir_, the former
having in the genitive _fir_, the latter _viri_. The definite article
_am_, _an_, _a’_, in Gaelic would seem to represent the Latin
_unus_; thus _an duine_ represents _unus homo_. The inflection in a
large class of Gaelic nouns is by attenuation, while the nominative
plural and genitive singular of such nouns are alike. So with the
Latin, _monachus_, gen. _monachi_, nom. plur. _monachi_; Gaelic,
manach, gen. manaich, nom. plur. manaich. The structure of the verb
is remarkably similar in both languages. This appears specially in
the gerund, which in Gaelic is the only form used to represent the
infinitive and the present participle. The use of the subjunctive
mood largely is characteristic of the Gaelic as of the Latin.
The prepositions which are so variously and extensively used in
Gaelic, present another analogy to the Latin. But the analogies in
grammatical structure are so numerous that they can only be accounted
for by tracing the languages to the same source. Another series of
resemblances is to be found in the peculiar idioms which characterise
both tongues. Thus, possession is in both represented by the peculiar
use of the verb _to be_. _Est mihi liber_, there is to me a book, is
represented in Gaelic by _tha leabhar agam_, which means, like the
Latin, a book is to me.

But there is one peculiarity which distinguishes the Gaelic and the
whole class of Celtic tongues from all others. Many of the changes
included in inflection and regimen occur in the initial consonant of
the word. This change is usually held to be distinctive of gender,
but its effect is wider than that, as it occurs in cases where no
distinction of gender is expressed. This change, usually called
aspiration, implies a softening of the initial consonants of words.
Thus _b_ becomes _v_, _m_ becomes _v_, _p_ becomes _f_, _g_ becomes
_y_, _d_ becomes _y_, _c_ becomes _ch_, more or less guttural,
_s_ and _t_ become _h_, and so on. These changes are marked in
orthography by the insertion of the letter _h_. This is a remarkable
peculiarity converting such a word as _mòr_ into _vòr_, spelled
_mhòr_; _bàs_ into _vàs_, spelled _bhàs_; _duine_ into _yuine_,
spelled _dhuine_. This peculiarity partly accounts for the number
of letters _h_ introduced into Gaelic spelling, loading the words
apparently unnecessarily with consonants, but really serving a very
important purpose.

It is not desirable, however, in a work like this to prosecute this
dissertation farther. Suffice it to say, that philologists have come
to class the Gaelic with the other Celtic tongues among the great
family of Aryan languages, having affinities, some closer, some more
distant, with almost all the languages of Europe. It is of much
interest to scholars in respect both of the time and the place which
it has filled, and fills still, and it is gratifying to all Scottish
Celts to know that it has become more than ever a subject of study
among literary men.


Among the Celts, poetry and music walked hand in hand. There need
be no controversy in this case as to which is the more ancient art,
they seem to have been coeval. Hence the bards were musicians.
Their compositions were all set to music, and many of them composed
the airs to which their verses were adapted. The airs to which the
ancient Ossianic lays were sung still exist, and several of them may
be found noted in Captain Fraser’s excellent collection of Highland
music. They are well known in some parts of the Highlands, and those
who are prepared to deny with Johnson the existence of any remains
of the ancient Celtic bard, must be prepared to maintain at the same
time that these ancient airs to which the verses were sung were,
like themselves, the offspring of modern imposition. But this is
too absurd to obtain credence. In fact these airs were essential to
the recitation of the bards. Deprive them of the music with which
their lines were associated, and you deprived them of the chief aid
to their memory; but give them their music, and they could recite
almost without end.

The same is true of the poetry of the modern bards. Song-singing
in the Highlands was usually social. Few songs on any subject were
composed without a chorus, and the intention was that the chorus
should be taken up by all the company present. A verse was sung
in the interval by the individual singer, but the object of the
chorus was to be sung by all. It is necessary to keep this in view
in judging of the spirit and effect of Gaelic song. Sung as songs
usually are, the object of the bard is lost sight of, and much of the
action of the music is entirely overlooked. But what was intended
chiefly to be said was, that the compositions of the modern bards
were all intended to be linked with music, sung for the most part
socially. We do not at this moment know one single piece of Gaelic
poetry which was intended merely for recitation, unless it be found
among a certain class of modern compositions which are becoming
numerous, and which are English in everything but the language.

The music to which these compositions were sung was peculiar; one
can recognise a Gaelic air at once, among a thousand. Quaint and
pathetic, irregular and moving on with the most singular intervals,
the movement is still self-contained and impressive,--to the Celt
eminently so. It is beyond a question that what is called Scottish
music has been derived from the Gaelic race. Its characteristics are
purely Celtic. So far as the poetry of Burns is concerned, his songs
were composed in many cases to airs borrowed from the Highlands,
and nothing could fit in better than the poetry and the music. But
Scottish Lowland music, so much and so deservedly admired, is a
legacy from the Celtic muse throughout. There is nothing in it which
it holds in common with any Saxon race in existence. Compare it with
the common melodies in use among the English, and the two are proved
totally distinct. The airs to which “Scots wha hae,” “Auld Langsyne,”
“Roy’s Wife,” “O’ a’ the airts,” and “Ye Banks and Braes,” are sung,
are airs to which nothing similar can be found in England. They
are Scottish, and only Scottish, and can be recognised as such at
once. But airs of a precisely similar character can be found among
all the Celtic races. In Ireland, melodies almost identical with
those of Scotland are found. In fact, the Irish claim such tunes as
“The Legacy,” “The Highland Laddie,” and others. So with the Isle
of Man. The national air of the Island, “Mollacharane,” has all the
distinctive characteristics of a Scottish tune. The melodies of Wales
have a similar type. Such a tune as “The Men of Harlech” might at any
time be mistaken for a Scottish melody. And if we cross to Brittany
and hear a party of Bretons of a night singing a national air along
the street, as they often do, the type of the air will be found to be
largely Scottish. These facts go far to prove the paternity of what
is called Scottish music, and show to conviction that this music, so
sweet, so touching, is the ancient inheritance of the Celt.

[Illustration: No. 1.


No. 2.


No. 3.]

The ancient Scottish scale consists of six notes, as shown in the
annexed exemplification, No. 1. The lowest note A, was afterwards
added, to admit of the minor key in wind instruments. The notes in
the diatonic scale, No. 2, were added about the beginning of the
fifteenth century, and when music arrived at its present state of
perfection, the notes in the chromatic scale, No. 3, were farther
added. Although many of the Scottish airs have had the notes last
mentioned introduced into them, to please modern taste they can be
played without them, and without altering the character of the
melody. Any person who understands the ancient scale can at once
detect the later additions.

“The Gaelic music consists of different kinds or species. 1. Martial
music, the Golltraidheacht of the Irish, and the Brosnachadh Catha of
the Gael, consisting of a spirit-stirring measure short and rapid. 2.
The Geantraidheacht, or plaintive or sorrowful, a kind of music to
which the Highlanders are very partial. The Coronach, or Lament, sung
at funerals, is the most noted of this sort. 3. The Suantraidheacht,
or composing, calculated to calm the mind, and to lull the person to
sleep. 4. Songs of peace, sung at the conclusion of a war. 5. Songs
of victory sung by the bards before the king on gaining a victory.
6. Love songs. These last form a considerable part of the national
music, the sensibility and tenderness of which excite the passion of
love, and stimulated by its influence, the Gael indulge a spirit of
the most romantic attachment and adventure, which the peasantry of
perhaps no other country exhibit.”

The last paragraph is quoted from Mr Logan’s eloquent and patriotic
work on the _Scottish Gael_,[104] and represents the state of Gaelic
music when more flourishing and more cultivated than it is to-day.

The following quotation is from the same source, and is also
distinguished by the accuracy of its description.

“The ancient Gael were fond of singing whether in a sad or cheerful
frame of mind. Bacon justly remarks, ‘that music feedeth that
disposition which it findeth:’ it was a sure sign of brewing
mischief, when a Caledonian warrior was heard to ‘hum his surly
hymn.’ This race, in all their labours, used appropriate songs, and
accompanied their harps with their voices. At harvest the reapers
kept time by singing; at sea the boatmen did the same; and while the
women were graddaning, performing the _luadhadh_, or waulking of
cloth, or at any rural labour, they enlivened their work by certain
airs called luinneags. When milking, they sung a certain plaintive
melody, to which the animals listened with calm attention. The
attachment which the natives of Celtic origin have to their music, is
strengthened by its intimate connection with the national songs. The
influence of both on the Scots character is confessedly great--the
pictures of heroism, love, and happiness, exhibited in their songs,
are indelibly impressed on the memory, and elevate the mind of the
humblest peasant. The songs, united with their appropriate music,
affect the sons of Scotia, particularly when far distant from their
native glens and majestic mountains, with indescribable feelings,
and excite a spirit of the most romantic adventure. In this respect,
the Swiss, who inhabit a country of like character, and who resemble
the Highlanders in many particulars, experience similar emotions. On
hearing the national _Ranz de vaches_, their bowels yearn to revisit
the ever dear scenes of their youth. So powerfully is the _amor
patriæ_ awakened by this celebrated air, that it was found necessary
to prohibit its being played, under pain of death, among the troops,
who would burst into tears on hearing it, desert their colours, and
even die.

“No songs could be more happily constructed for singing during labour
than those of the Highlanders, every person being able to join in
them, sufficient intervals being allowed for breathing time. In a
certain part of the song, the leader stops to take breath, when all
the others strike in and complete the air with a chorus of words and
syllables, generally without signification, but admirably adapted to
give effect to the time.” The description proceeds to give a picture
of a social meeting in the Highlands where this style of singing is
practised, and refers to the effect with which such a composition as
“Fhir à bhàta,” or the _Boatman_, may be thus sung.

Poetical compositions associated with music are of various kinds.
First of all is the _Laoidh_, or lay, originally signifying a stately
solemn composition, by one of the great bards of antiquity. Thus we
have “Laoidh Dhiarmaid,” The lay of Diarmad; “Laoidh Oscair,” The lay
of Oscar; “Laoidh nan Ceann,” The lay of the heads; and many others.
The word is now made use of to describe a religious hymn; a fact
which proves the dignity with which this composition was invested in
the popular sentiment. Then there was the “Marbhrann,” or elegy. Few
men of any mark but had their elegy composed by some bard of note.
Chiefs and chieftains were sung of after their deaths in words and
music the most mournful which the Celt, with so deep a vein of pathos
in his soul, could devise. There is an elegy on one of the lairds
of Macleod by a famous poetess “Mairi nighean Alasdair Ruaidh,” or
Mary M’Leod, which is exquisitely touching. Many similar compositions
exist. In modern times these elegies are mainly confined to the
religious field, and ministers and other men of mark in that field
are often sung of and sung sweetly by such bards as still remain.
Then there are compositions called “Iorrams” usually confined to sea
songs; “Luinneags,” or ordinary lyrics, and such like. These are
all “wedded” to music, which is the reason for noticing them here,
and the music must be known in order to have the full relish of the

There are several collections of Highland music which are well
worthy of being better known to the musical world than they are. The
oldest is that by the Rev. Peter Macdonald of Kilmore, who was a
famous musician in his day. More recently Captain Simon Fraser, of
Inverness, published an admirable collection; and collections of pipe
music have been made by Macdonald, Mackay, and, more recently, Ross,
the two latter pipers to her Majesty, all of which are reported of as

The secular music of the Highlands, as existing now, may be divided
into that usually called by the Highlanders “An Ceol mòr,” the great
music, and in English pibrochs. This music is entirely composed for
the Highland bagpipe, and does not suit any other instrument well. It
is composed of a slow movement, with which it begins, the movement
proceeding more rapidly through several variations, until it attains
a speed and an energy which gives room for the exercise of the most
delicate and accurate fingering. Some of these pieces are of great
antiquity, such as “Mackintosh’s Lament” and “Cogadh na Sith,” Peace
or War, and are altogether remarkable compositions. Mendelssohn, on
his visit to the Highlands, was impressed by them, and introduced
a portion of a pibroch into one of his finest compositions. Few
musicians take the trouble of examining into the structure of these
pieces, and they are condemned often with little real discrimination.
Next to these we have the military music of the Highlands, also for
the most part composed for the pipe, and now in general employed by
the pipers of Highland regiments. This kind of music is eminently
characteristic, having features altogether distinctive of itself,
and is much relished by Scotsmen from all parts of the country.
Recently a large amount of music of this class has been adapted to
the bagpipe which is utterly unfit for it, and the effect is the
opposite of favourable to the good name either of the instrument or
the music. This practice is in a large measure confined to regimental
pipe music. Such tunes as “I’m wearying awa’, Jean,” or “Miss Forbes’
Farewell to Banff,” have no earthly power of adaptation to the notes
of the bagpipe, and the performance of such music on that instrument
is a violation of good taste and all musical propriety. One cannot
help being struck with the peculiar good taste that pervades all the
compositions of the M’Crimmons, the famous pipers of the Macleods,
and how wonderfully the music and the instrument are adapted to
each other throughout. This cannot be said of all pibroch music,
and the violation of the principle in military music is frequently
most offensive to an accurate ear. This has, no doubt, led to the
unpopularity of the bagpipe and its music among a large class of
the English-speaking community, who speak of its discordant notes,
a reflection to which it is not in the least liable in the case of
compositions adapted to its scale.

Next to these two kinds follows the song-music of the Gael, to which
reference has been made already. It abounds in all parts of the
Highlands, and is partly secular, partly sacred. There are beautiful,
simple, touching airs, to which the common songs of the country are
sung, and there are airs of a similar class, but distinct, which
are used with the religious hymns of Buchanan, Matheson, Grant, and
other writers of hymns, of whom there are many. The dance music of
the Highlands is also distinct from that of any other country, and
broadly marked by its own peculiar features. There is the strathspey
confined to Scotland, a moderately rapid movement well known to
every Scotchman; there is the jig in 6/8th time, common to Scotland
with Ireland; and there is the reel, pretty much of the same class
with the Strathspey, but marked by greater rapidity of motion.

There is one thing which strikes the hearer in this music, that there
is a vein of pathos runs through the whole of it. The Celtic mind is
largely tinged with pathos. If a musical symbol might be employed to
represent them, the mind of the Saxon may be said to be cast in the
mould of the major mode, and the mind of the Celt in the minor. The
majority of the ordinary airs in the Highlands are in the minor mode,
and in the most rapid kinds of music, the jig and the reel, an acute
ear will detect the vein of pathos running through the whole.

In sacred music there is not much that is distinctive of the Celt.
In forming their metrical version of the Gaelic Psalms, the Synod of
Argyll say that one of the greatest difficulties they had to contend
with was in adapting their poetry to the forms of the English psalm
tunes. There were no psalm tunes which belonged to the Highlands, and
it was necessary after the Reformation to borrow such as had been
introduced among other Protestants, whether at home or abroad. More
lately a peculiar form of psalm tune has developed itself in the
North Highlands, which is deserving of notice. It is not a class of
new tunes that has appeared, but a peculiar method of singing the old
ones. The tunes in use are only six, all taken from the old Psalter
of Scotland. They are--French, Dundee, Elgin, York, Martyrs, and Old
London. The principal notes of the original tunes are retained, but
they are attended with such a number of variations, that the tune
in its new dress can hardly be at all recognised. These tunes may
not be musically accurate, and artists may make light of them, but
sung by a large body of people, they are eminently impressive and
admirably adapted to purposes of worship. Sung on a Communion Sabbath
by a crowd of worshippers in the open air, on the green sward of a
Highland valley, old Dundee is incomparable, and exercises over the
Highland mind a powerful influence. And truly, effect cannot be left
out of view as an element in judging of the character of any music.
The pity is that this music is fast going out of use even in the
Highlands. It has always been confined to the counties of Caithness,
Sutherland, Ross, and part of Inverness. Some say that this music
took its complexion from the old chants of the mediæval Church. One
thing is true of this and all Gaelic psalmody, that the practice
of chanting the line is rigidly adhered to, although from the more
advanced state of general education in the Highlands the necessity
that once existed for it is now passed away.

Connected with the Gaelic music, the _musical instruments_ of the
Celts remain to be noticed; but we shall confine our observations
to the harp and to the bagpipe, the latter of which has long since
superseded the former in the Highlands. The harp is the most noted
instrument of antiquity, and was in use among many nations. It was,
in particular, the favourite instrument of the Celts. The Irish
were great proficients in harp music, and they are said to have
made great improvements on the instrument itself. So honourable was
the occupation of a harper among the Irish, that none but freemen
were permitted to play on the harp, and it was reckoned a disgrace
for a gentleman not to have a harp, and be able to play on it. The
royal household always included a harper, who bore a distinguished
rank. Even kings did not disdain to relieve the cares of royalty by
touching the strings of the harp; and we are told by Major that James
I., who died in 1437, excelled the best harpers among the Irish and
the Scotch Highlanders. But harpers were not confined to the houses
of kings, for every chief had his harper as well as his bard.

“The precise period when the harp was superseded by the bagpipe, it
is not easy to ascertain. Roderick Morrison, usually called Ruaraidh
Dall, or _Blind Roderick_, was one of the last native harpers; he was
harper to the Laird of M’Leod. On the death of his master, Morrison
led an itinerant life, and in 1650 he paid a visit to Robertson of
Lude, on which occasion he composed a _Port_ or air, called Suipeir
Thighearna Leoid or _The Laird of Lude’s Supper_, which, with other
pieces, is still preserved. M’Intosh, the compiler of the Gaelic
Proverbs, relates the following anecdote of Mr Robertson, who, it
appears, was a harp-player himself of some eminence:--‘One night my
father, James M’Intosh, said to Lude that he would be happy to hear
him play on the harp, which at that time began to give place to the
violin. After supper Lude and he retired to another room, in which
there was a couple of harps, one of which belonged to Queen Mary.
James, says Lude, here are two harps; the largest one is the loudest,
but the small one is the sweetest, which do you wish to hear played?
James answered the small one, which Lude took up and played upon till

“The last harper, as is commonly supposed, was Murdoch M’Donald,
harper to M’Lean of Coll. He received instructions in playing from
Rory Dall in Skye, and afterwards in Ireland; and from accounts of
payments made to him by M’Lean, still extant, Murdoch seems to have
continued in his family till the year 1734, when he appears to have
gone to Quinish, in Mull, where he died.”

The history of the _bagpipe_ is curious and interesting, but such
history does not fall within the scope of this work. Although a
very ancient instrument, it does not appear to have been known to
the Celtic nations. It was in use among the Trojans, Greeks, and
Romans, but how, or in what manner it came to be introduced into the
Highlands is a question which cannot be solved. Two suppositions
have been started on this point, either that it was brought in by
the Romans or by the northern nations. The latter conjecture appears
to be the most probable, for we cannot possibly imagine that if the
bagpipe had been introduced so early as the Roman epoch, no notice
should have been taken of that instrument by the more early annalists
and poets. But if the bagpipe was an imported instrument, how does
it happen that the great Highland pipe is peculiar to the Highlands,
and is perhaps the only national instrument in Europe? If it was
introduced by the Romans, or by the people of Scandinavia, how has it
happened that no traces of that instrument in its present shape are
to be found anywhere except in the Highlands? There is, indeed, some
plausibility in these interrogatories, but they are easily answered,
by supposing, what is very probable, that the great bagpipe in its
present form is the work of modern improvement, and that originally
the instrument was much the same as is still seen in Belgium and

The effects of this national instrument in arousing the feelings
of those who have from infancy been accustomed to its wild and
warlike tunes are truly astonishing. In halls of joy and in scenes
of mourning it has prevailed; it has animated Scotland’s warriors
in battle, and welcomed them back after their toils to the homes
of their love and the hills of their nativity. Its strains were
the first sounded on the ears of infancy, and they are the last
to be forgotten in the wanderings of age. Even Highlanders will
allow that it is not the quietest of instruments, but when far
from their mountain homes, what sounds, however melodious, could
thrill round their heart like one burst of their own wild native
pipe? The feelings which other instruments awaken are general and
undefined, because they talk alike to Frenchmen, Spaniards, Germans,
and Highlanders, for they are common to all; but the bagpipe is
sacred to Scotland, and speaks a language which Scotsmen only feel.
It talks to them of home and all the past, and brings before them,
on the burning shores of India, the wild hills and oft-frequented
streams of Caledonia, the friends that are thinking of them, and
the sweethearts and wives that are weeping for them there; and need
it be told here to how many fields of danger and victory its proud
strains have led! There is not a battle that is honourable to Britain
in which its war-blast has not sounded. When every other instrument
has been hushed by the confusion and carnage of the scene, it has
been borne into the thick of battle, and, far in the advance, its
bleeding but devoted bearer, sinking on the earth, has sounded at
once encouragement to his countrymen and his own coronach.




As connected with the literary history of the Gaelic Celts, the
following lists of Gaelic and Irish manuscripts will, it is thought,
be considered interesting.


  1. A folio MS., beautifully written on parchment or vellum, from the
  collection of the late Major Maclauchlan of Kilbride. This is the
  oldest MS. in the possession of the Highland Society of Scotland.
  It is marked Vo. A. No. I. The following remark is written on
  the margin of the fourth leaf of the MS.:--“Oidche bealtne ann a
  coimhtech mo Pupu Muirciusa agus as olc lium nach marunn diol in
  linesi dem dub Misi Fithil acc furnuidhe na scoile.” Thus Englished
  by the late Dr Donald Smith:--“The night of the first of May in
  Coenobium of my Pope Murchus, and I regret that there is not left
  of my ink enough to fill up this line. I am Fithil, an attendant on
  the school.” This MS., which, from its orthography, is supposed to
  be as old as the eighth or ninth century, “consists (says Dr Smith)
  of a poem, moral and religious, some short historical anecdotes, a
  critical exposition of the Tain, an Irish tale, which was composed
  in the time of Diarmad, son of Cearval, who reigned over Ireland
  from the year 544 to 565; and the Tain itself, which claims respect,
  as exceeding in point of antiquity, every production of any other
  vernacular tongue in Europe.”[105]

  On the first page of the vellum, which was originally left blank,
  there are genealogies of the families of Argyll and Mac Leod in the
  Gaelic handwriting of the sixteenth century. The genealogy of the
  Argyll family ends with Archibald, who succeeded to the earldom
  in 1542, and died in 1588.[106] This is supposed to be the oldest
  Gaelic MS. extant. Dr Smith conjectures that it may have come into
  the possession of the Maclachlans of Kilbride in the sixteenth
  century, as a Ferquhard, son of Ferquhard Maclachlan, was bishop of
  the Isles, and had Iona or I Colum Kille in commendam from 1530 to
  1544.--See _Keith’s Catalogue of Scottish Bishops_.

  To the _Tain_ is prefixed the following critical exposition, giving
  a brief account of it in the technical terms of the Scots literature
  of the remote age in which it was written. “Ceathardha connagur in
  cach ealathuin is cuincda don tsairsisi na Tana. Loc di cedumus
  lighe Fercusa mhic Roich ait in rou hathnachd four mach Nai. Tempus
  umorro Diarmuta mhic Ceruailt in rigno Ibeirnia. Pearsa umorro
  Fergusa mhic Roich air is e rou tirchan do na hecsib ar chenu. A
  tucaid scriuint dia ndeachai Seanchan Toirpda cona III. ri ecces ...
  do saighe Cuaire rig Condacht.” That is--the four things which are
  requisite to be known in every regular composition are to be noticed
  in this work of the Tain. The _place_ of its origin is the stone of
  Fergus, son of Roich, where he was buried on the plain of Nai. The
  _time_ of it, besides, is that in which Diarmad, son of Cervail,
  reigned over Ireland. The _author_, too, is Fergus, son of Roich;
  for he it was that prompted it forthwith to the bards. The _cause_
  of writing it was a visit which Shenachan Torbda, with three chief
  bards, made to Guaire, king of Connaught.[107]

  O’Flaherty thus concisely and accurately describes the subject and
  character of the _Tain_:--“Fergusius Rogius solo pariter ac solio
  Ultoniæ exterminatus, in Connactiam ad Ollilum et Maudam ibidem
  regnantes profugit; quibus patrocinantibus, memorabile exarsit
  bellum septannale inter Connacticos et Ultonios multis poeticis
  figmentis, ut ea ferebat ætas, adornatum. Hujus belli circiter
  medium, octennio ante caput æræ Christianæ Mauda regina Connactiæ,
  Fergusio Rogio ductore, immensam bonum prœdam conspicuis agentium et
  insectantium virtutibus memorabilem, e Cualgnio in agro Louthiano re

  From the expression, “Ut ea ferebat ætas,” Dr Smith thinks that
  O’Flaherty considered the tale of the Tain as a composition of the
  age to which it relates; and that of course he must not have seen
  the Critical Exposition prefixed to the copy here described. From
  the silence of the Irish antiquaries respecting this Exposition, it
  is supposed that it must have been either unknown to, or overlooked
  by them, and consequently that it was written in Scotland.

  The Exposition states, that Sheannachan, with the three bards and
  those in their retinue, when about to depart from the court of
  Guaire, being called upon to relate the history of the _Tain bho_,
  or cattle spoil of Cuailgne, acknowledged their ignorance of it, and
  that having ineffectually made the round of Ireland and Scotland in
  quest of it, Eimin and Muircheartach, two of their number, repaired
  to the grave of Fergus, son of Roich, who, being invoked, appeared
  at the end of three days in terrific grandeur, and related the whole
  of the Tain, as given in the twelve Reimsgeala or Portions of which
  it consists. In the historical anecdotes allusion is made to Ossian,
  the son of Fingal, who is represented as showing, when young, an
  inclination to indulge in solitude his natural propensity for
  meditation and song. A _fac simile_ of the characters of this MS. is
  given in the Highland Society’s Report upon Ossian, Plate I., fig.
  1, 2, and in Plate II.

  2. Another parchment MS. in quarto, equally beautiful as the former,
  from the same collection. It consists of an Almanack bound up with
  a paper list of all the holidays, festivals, and most remarkable
  saints’ days in verse throughout the year--A Treatise on Anatomy,
  abridged from Galen--Observations on the Secretions, &c.--The Schola
  Salernitana, in Leonine verse, drawn up about the year 1100, for the
  use of Robert, Duke of Normandy, the son of William the Conqueror,
  by the famous medical school of Salerno. The Latin text is
  accompanied with a Gaelic explanation, which is considered equally
  faithful and elegant, of which the following is a specimen:--

  _Caput I._--Anglorum regi scripsit schola tota Salerni.

  1. As iat scol Salerni go hulidhe do seriou na fearsadh so do chum
    rig sag san do choimhed a shlainnte.

        Si vis incolumem, si vis te reddere sanum;
        Curas tolle graves, irasci crede prophanum.

  Madh ail bhidh fallann, agus madh aill bhidh slan; Cuir na
    himsnimha troma dhit, agus creit gurub diomhain duit fearg do

  The words _Leabhar Giollacholaim Meigbeathadh_ are written on the
  last page of this MS., which being in the same form and hand, with
  the same words on a paper MS. bound up with a number of others
  written upon vellum in the Advocates’ Library, and before which is
  written _Liber Malcolmi Bethune_, it has been conjectured that both
  works originally belonged to Malcolm Bethune, a member of a family
  distinguished for learning, which supplied the Western Isles for many
  ages with physicians.[109]

  3. A small quarto paper MS. from the same collection, written at
  Dunstaffnage by Ewen Macphaill, 12th October 1603. It consists of a
  tale in prose concerning a King of Lochlin and the Heroes of Fingal:
  An Address to Gaul, the son of Morni, beginning--

        Goll mear mileant--
        Ceap na Crodhachta--

  An Elegy on one of the earls of Argyle, beginning--

        A Mhic Cailin a chosg lochd;

  and a poem in praise of a young lady.

  4. A small octavo paper MS. from the same collection, written
  by Eamonn or Edmond Mac Lachlan, 1654-5. This consists of a
  miscellaneous collection of sonnets, odes, and poetical epistles,
  partly Scots, and partly Irish. There is an _Ogham_ or alphabet of
  secret writing near the end of it.

  5. A quarto paper MS. from same collection. It wants ninety pages at
  the beginning, and part of the end. What remains consists of some
  ancient and modern tales and poems. The names of the authors are
  not given, but an older MS. (that of the Dean of Lismore) ascribes
  one of the poems to Conal, son of Edirskeol. This MS. was written
  at Aird-Chonail upon Lochowe, in the years 1690 and 1691, by Ewan
  Mac Lean for Colin Campbell. “Caillain Caimpbel leis in leis in
  leabharan. 1, Caillin mac Dhonchai mhic Dhughil mhic Chaillain oig.”
  Colin Campbell is the owner of this book, namely Colin, son of
  Duncan, son of Dougal, son of Colin the younger. The above Gaelic
  inscription appears on the 79th leaf of the MS.

  6. A quarto paper MS., which belonged to the Rev. James MacGregor,
  Dean of Lismore, the metropolitan church of the see of Argyle,
  dated, page 27, 1512, written by Duncan the son of Dougal, son of
  Ewen the Grizzled. This MS. consists of a large collection of Gaelic
  poetry, upwards of 11,000 verses. It is said to have been written
  “out of the books of the History of the Kings.” Part of the MS.,
  however, which closes an obituary, commencing in 1077, of the kings
  of Scotland, and other eminent persons of Scotland, particularly
  of the shires of Argyle and Perth, was not written till 1527. The
  poetical pieces are from the times of the most ancient bards down to
  the beginning of the sixteenth century. The more ancient pieces are
  poems of Conal, son of Edirskeol, Ossian, son of Fingal, Fearghas
  Fili (Fergus the bard), and Caoilt, son of Ronan, the friends and
  contemporaries of Ossian. This collection also contains the works of
  Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchay, who fell in the battle of Flodden,
  and Lady Isabel Campbell, daughter of the Earl of Argyle, and wife
  of Gilbert, Earl of Cassilis.[110] “The writer of this MS. (says Dr
  Smith) rejected the ancient character for the current handwriting
  of the time, and adopted a new mode of spelling conformable to the
  Latin and English sounds of his own age and country, but retained
  the aspirate mark (’).... The Welsh had long before made a similar
  change in their ancient orthography. Mr Edward Lhuyd recommended it,
  with some variation, in a letter to the Scots and Irish, prefixed
  to his Dictionary of their language in the Archæologia Britannica.
  The bishop of Sodor and Man observed it in the devotional exercises,
  admonition, and catechism, which he published for the use of his
  diocese. It was continued in the Manx translation of the Scriptures,
  and it has lately been adopted by Dr Reilly, titular Primate of
  Ireland, in his TAGASG KREESTY, or _Christian Doctrine_. But yet
  it must be acknowledged to be much inferior to the ancient mode of
  orthography, which has not only the advantage of being grounded on a
  knowledge of the principles of grammar, and philosophy of language,
  but of being also more plain and easy. This volume of the Dean’s
  is curious, as distinguishing the genuine poetry of Ossian from
  the imitations made of it by later bards, and as ascertaining the
  degree of accuracy with which ancient poems have been transmitted by
  tradition for the last three hundred years, during a century of which
  the order of bards has been extinct, and ancient manners and customs
  have suffered a great and rapid change in the Highlands.”[111] A _fac
  simile_ of the writing is given in the Report of the Committee of the
  Highland Society, plate III. No. 5. Since the above was written, the
  whole of this manuscript, with a few unimportant exceptions, has been
  transcribed, translated, and annotated by the Rev. Dr M’Lauchlan,
  Edinburgh, and an introductory chapter was furnished by W. F.
  Skene, Esq., LL.D. The work has been published by Messrs Edmonston
  & Douglas, of Edinburgh, and is a valuable addition to our Gaelic

  7. A quarto paper MS. written in a very beautiful regular hand,
  without date or the name of the writer. It is supposed to be at least
  two hundred years old, and consists of a number of ancient tales and
  short poems. These appear to be transcribed from a much older MS., as
  there is a vocabulary of ancient words in the middle of the MS. Some
  of the poetry is ascribed to Cuchulin.

  8. Another quarto paper MS. the beginning and end of which have
  been lost. It consists partly of prose, partly of poetry. With the
  exception of two loose leaves, which appear much older, the whole
  appears to have been written in the 17th century. The poetry, though
  ancient, is not Fingalian. The name, Tadg Og CC., before one of the
  poems near the end, is the only one to be seen upon it.

  9. A quarto parchment MS. consisting of 42 leaves, written by
  different hands, with illuminated capitals. It appears at one time to
  have consisted of four different MSS. bound to together and covered
  with skin, to preserve them. This MS. is very ancient and beautiful,
  though much soiled. In this collection is a life of St Columba,
  supposed, from the character, (being similar to No. 27,) to be of the
  twelfth or thirteenth century.

  10. A quarto parchment medical MS. beautifully written. No date or
  name, but the MS. appears to be very ancient.

  11. A quarto paper MS., partly prose, partly verse, written in a very
  coarse and indifferent hand. No date or name.

  12. A small quarto MS. coarse. Bears date 1647, without name.

  13. A small long octavo paper MS. the beginning and end lost,
  and without any date. It is supposed to have been written by the
  Macvurichs of the fifteenth century. Two of the poems are ascribed to
  Tadg Mac Daire Bruaidheadh, others to Brian O’Donalan.

  14. A large folio parchment MS. in two columns, containing a tale
  upon Cuchullin and Conal, two of Ossian’s heroes. Without date or
  name and very ancient.

  15. A large quarto parchment of 7½ leaves, supposed by Mr Astle,
  author of the work on the origin and progress of writing, to be of
  the ninth or tenth century. Its title is _Emanuel_, a name commonly
  given by the old Gaelic writers to many of their miscellaneous
  writings. Engraved specimens of this MS. are to be seen in the first
  edition of Mr Astle’s work above-mentioned, 18th plate, Nos. 1 and
  2, and in his second edition, plate 22. Some of the capitals in the
  MS. are painted red. It is written in a strong beautiful hand, in the
  same character as the rest. This MS. is only the fragment of a large
  work on ancient history, written on the authority of Greek and Roman
  writers, and interspersed with notices of the arts, armour, dress,
  superstitions, manners, and usages, of the Scots of the author’s own
  time. In this MS. there is a chapter titled, “_Slogha Chesair an Inis
  Bhreatan_,” or Cæsar’s expedition to the island of Britain, in which
  _Lechlin_, a country celebrated in the ancient poems and tales of the
  Gäel, is mentioned as separated from Gaul by “the clear current of
  the Rhine.” Dr Donald Smith had a complete copy of this work.

  16. A small octavo parchment MS. consisting of a tale in prose,
  imperfect. Supposed to be nearly as old as the last mentioned MS.

  17. A small octavo paper MS. stitched, imperfect; written by the
  Macvurichs. It begins with a poem upon Darthula, different from
  Macpherson’s, and contains poems written by Cathal and Nial Mor
  Macvurich, (whose names appear at the beginning of some of the
  poems,) composed in the reign of King James the Fifth, Mary, and
  King Charles the First. It also contains some Ossianic poems, such
  as Cnoc an àir, &c. i.e. The Hill of Slaughter, supposed to be part
  of Macpherson’s Fingal. It is the story of a woman who came walking
  alone to the Fingalians for protection from Taile, who was in pursuit
  of her. Taile fought them, and was killed by Oscar. There was another
  copy of this poem in Clanranald’s little book--not the Red book,
  as erroneously supposed by Laing. The Highland Society are also in
  possession of several copies taken from oral tradition. The second
  Ossianic poem in this MS. begins thus:

        Sè la gus an dè
        O nach fhaca mi fein Fionn.

        It is now six days yesterday
        Since I have not seen Fingal.

  18. An octavo paper MS. consisting chiefly of poetry, but very much
  defaced. Supposed to have been written by the last of the Macvurichs,
  but without date. The names of Tadg Og and Lauchlan Mac Taidg occur
  upon it. It is supposed to have been copied from a more ancient MS.
  as the poetry is good.

  19. A very small octavo MS. written by some of the Macvurichs. Part
  of it is a copy of Clanranald’s book, and contains the genealogy of
  the Lords of the Isles and others of that great clan. The second part
  consists of a genealogy of the kings of Ireland (ancestors of the
  Macdonalds) from Scota and Gathelic. The last date upon it is 1616.

  20. A paper MS. consisting of a genealogy of the kings of Ireland, of
  a few leaves only, and without date.

  21. A paper MS. consisting of detached leaves of different sizes,
  and containing, 1. The conclusion of a Gaelic chronicle of the kings
  of Scotland down to King Robert III.; 2. A Fingalian tale, in which
  the heroes are Fingal, Goll Mac Morni, Oscar, Ossian, and Conan; 3.
  A poem by Macdonald of Benbecula, dated 1722, upon the unwritten
  part of a letter sent to Donald Macvurich of Stialgary; 4. A poem
  by Donald Mackenzie; 5. Another by Tadg Og CC, copied from some
  other MS.; 6. A poem by Donald Macvurich upon Ronald Macdonald of
  Clanranald. Besides several hymns by Tadg, and other poems by the
  Macvurichs and others.

  22. A paper MS. consisting of religious tracts and genealogy, without
  name or date.

  23. A paper MS. containing instruction for children in Gaelic and
  English. Modern, and without date.

  24. Fragments of a paper MS., with the name of Cathelus Macvurich
  upon some of the leaves, and Niall Macvurich upon some others. _Conn
  Mac an Deirg_, a well known ancient poem, is written in the Roman
  character by the last Niall Macvurich, the last Highland bard, and is
  the only one among all the Gaelic MSS. in that character.

  With the exception of the first five numbers, all the before
  mentioned MSS. were presented by the Highland Society of London
  to the Highland Society of Scotland in January, 1803, on the
  application of the committee appointed to inquire into the nature
  and authenticity of the poems of Ossian. All these MSS. (with the
  single exception of the Dean of Lismore’s volume,) are written in the
  very ancient form of character which was common of old to Britain
  and Ireland, and supposed to have been adopted by the Saxons at
  the time of their conversion to Christianity. This form of writing
  has been discontinued for nearly eighty years in Scotland, as the
  last specimen which the Highland Society of Scotland received of it
  consists of a volume of songs, supposed to have been written between
  the years 1752 and 1768, as it contains a song written by Duncan
  Macintyre, titled, _An Taileir Mac Neachdain_, which he composed
  the former year, the first edition of Macintyre’s songs having been
  published during the latter year.[112]

  25. Besides these, the Society possesses a collection of MS. Gaelic
  poems made by Mr Duncan Kennedy, formerly schoolmaster at Craignish
  in Argyleshire, in three thin folio volumes. Two of them are written
  out fair from the various poems he had collected about sixty years
  ago. This collection consists of the following poems, viz., Luachair
  Leothaid, Sgiathan mac Sgairbh, An Gruagach, Rochd, Sithallan, Mùr
  Bheura, Tiomban, Sealg na Cluana, Gleanncruadhach, Uirnigh Oisein,
  Earragan, (resembling Macpherson’s Battle of Lora,) Manus, Maire
  Borb, (Maid of Craca,) Cath Sisear, Sliabh nam Beann Sionn, Bas
  Dheirg, Bas Chuinn, Righ Liur, Sealg na Leana, Dun an Oir, An Cu
  dubh, Gleann Diamhair, Conal, Bas Chiuinlaich Diarmad, Carril, Bas
  Ghuill (different from the Death of Gaul published by Dr Smith,)
  Garaibh, Bas Oscair, (part of which is the same narrative with the
  opening of Macpherson’s _Temora_,) in three parts; Tuiridh nam
  Fian, and Bass Osein. To each of these poems Kennedy has prefixed
  a dissertation containing some account of the _Sgealachd_ story,
  or argument of the poem which is to follow. It was very common for
  the reciter, or _history-man_, as he was termed in the Highlands,
  to repeat the Sgealachds to his hearers before reciting the poems
  to which they related. Several of the poems in this collection
  correspond pretty nearly with the ancient MS. above mentioned, which
  belonged to the Dean of Lismore.[113]

  26. A paper, medical, MS. in the old Gaelic character, a thick
  volume, written by Angus Connacher at Ardconel, Lochow-side,
  Argyleshire, 1612, presented to the Highland Society of Scotland by
  the late William Macdonald, Esq. of St Martins, W.S.

  27. A beautiful parchment MS., greatly mutilated, in the same
  character, presented to the Society by the late Lord Bannatyne,
  one of the judges of the Court of Session. The supposed date upon
  the cover is 1238, is written in black letter, but it is in a
  comparatively modern hand. “Gleann Masain an cuige la deag do an ...
  Mh : : : do bhlian ar tsaoirse Mile da chead, trichid sa hocht.” That
  is, Glen-Masan, the 15th day of the ... of M : : : of the year of our
  Redemption 1238. It is supposed that the date has been taken from the
  MS. when in a more entire state. Glenmasan, where it was written,
  is a valley in the district of Cowal. From a note on the margin of
  the 15th leaf, it would appear to have formerly belonged to the
  Rev. William Campbell, minister of Kilchrenan and Dalavich, and a
  native of Cowal, and to whom Dr D. Smith supposes it may, perhaps,
  have descended from his grand-uncle, Mr Robert Campbell, in Cowal, an
  accomplished scholar and poet, who wrote the eighth address prefixed
  to Lhuyd’s _Archæologia_.

  The MS. consists of some mutilated tales in prose, interspersed with
  verse, one of which is part of the poem of “Clan Uisneachan,” called
  by Macpherson _Darthula_, from the lady who makes the principal
  figure in it. The name of this lady in Gaelic is Deirdir, or
  Dearduil. A _fac simile_ of the writing is given in the appendix to
  the Highland Society’s Report on Ossian. Plate iii. No. 4.

  28. A paper MS. in the same character, consisting of an ancient tale
  in prose, presented to the Society by Mr Norman Macleod, son of the
  Rev. Mr Macleod of Morven.

  29. A small paper MS. in the same character, on religion.

  30. A paper MS. in the same character, presented to the Highland
  Society by James Grant, Esquire of Corymony. It consists of the
  history of the wars of Cuchullin, in prose and verse. This MS. is
  much worn at the ends and edges. It formerly belonged to Mr
  Grant’s mother, said to have been an excellent Gaelic scholar.


  1. A beautiful medical MS. with the other MSS. formerly belonging to
  the collection. The titles of the different articles are in Latin,
  as are all the medical Gaelic MSS., being translations from Galen
  and other ancient physicians. The capital letters are flourished and
  painted red.

  2. A thick folio paper MS., medical, written by Duncan Conacher, at
  Dunollie, Argyleshire, 1511.

  3. A folio parchment MS. consisting of ancient Scottish and Irish
  history, very old.

  4. A folio parchment medical MS. beautifully written. It is older
  than the other medical MSS.

  5. A folio parchment medical MS. of equal beauty with the last.

  6. A folio parchment MS. upon the same subject, and nearly of the
  same age with the former.

  7. A folio parchment, partly religious, partly medical.

  8. A folio parchment MS. consisting of the Histories of Scotland and
  Ireland, much damaged.

  9. A folio parchment medical MS., very old.

  10. A folio parchment MS. Irish history and poetry.

  11. A quarto parchment MS., very old.

  12. A long duodecimo parchment MS. consisting of hymns and maxims.
  It is a very beautiful MS., and may be as old as the time of St

  13. A duodecimo parchment MS. much damaged and illegible.

  14. A duodecimo parchment MS. consisting of poetry, but not
  Ossianic. Hardly legible.

  15. A duodecimo parchment MS. much injured by vermin. It consists of
  a miscellaneous collection of history and poetry.

  16. A duodecimo parchment MS. in large beautiful letter, very old
  and difficult to be understood.

  17. A folio parchment MS. consisting of the genealogies of the
  Macdonalds, Macniels, Macdougals, Maclauchlans, &c.

  All these MSS. are written in the old Gaelic character, and, with
  the exception of No. 2, have neither date nor name attached to them.

  Besides those enumerated, there are, it is believed, many ancient
  Gaelic MSS. existing in private libraries. The following are known:--

  A Deed of Fosterage between Sir Norman Macleod of Bernera, and John
  Mackenzie, executed in the year 1640. This circumstance shows that
  the Gaelic language was in use in legal obligations at that period
  in the Highlands. This MS. was in the possession of the late Lord

  A variety of parchment MSS. on medicine, in the Gaelic character,
  formerly in the possession of the late Dr Donald Smith. He was also
  possessed of a complete copy of the Emanuel MS. before mentioned,
  and of copies of many other MSS., which he made at different times
  from other MSS.

  Two paper MS. Gaelic grammars, in the same character, formerly in
  the possession of the late Dr Wright of Edinburgh.

  Two ancient parchment MSS. in the same character, formerly in the
  possession of the late Rev. James Maclagan, at Blair-Athole. Now in
  possession of his family. It is chiefly Irish history.

  A paper MS. written in the Roman character, in the possession of Mr
  Matheson of Fearnaig, Ross-shire. It is dated in 1688, and consists
  of songs and hymns by different persons, some by Carswell, Bishop of
  the Isles. There is reason to fear that this MS. has been lost.

  A paper MS. formerly in the possession of a Mr Simpson in Leith.

  The Lilium Medecinæ, a paper folio MS. written and translated by
  one of the Bethunes, the physicians of Skye, at the foot of Mount
  Peliop. It was given to the Antiquarian Society of London by the
  late Dr Macqueen of Kilmore, in Skye.

  Two treatises, one on astronomy, the other on medicine, written in
  the latter end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth
  century, formerly in the possession of Mr Astle.



  Three volumes MS. in the old character, chiefly medical, with some
  fragments of Scottish and Irish history; and the life of St Columba,
  said to have been translated from the Latin into Gaelic, by Father


  A MS. volume (No. 5280) containing twenty-one Gaelic or Irish
  treatises, of which Mr Astle has given some account. One of these
  treats of the Irish militia, under Fion Maccumhail, in the reign of
  Cormac-MacAirt, king of Ireland, and of the course of probation or
  exercise which each soldier was to go through before his admission
  therein. Mr Astle has given a _fac simile_ of the writing, being the
  thirteenth specimen of Plate xxii.


  An old Irish MS. on parchment, containing, among other tracts, An
  account of the Conquest of Britain by the Romans:--Of the Saxon
  Conquest and their Heptarchy:--An account of the Irish Saints,
  in verse, written in the tenth century:--The Saints of the Roman
  Breviary:--An account of the Conversion of the Irish and English to
  Christianity, with some other subjects. Laud. F. 92. This book, as
  is common in old Irish manuscripts, has here and there some Latin
  notes intermixed with Irish, and may possibly contain some hints of
  the doctrines of the Druids.

  An old vellum MS. of 140 pages, in the form of a music-book,
  containing the works of St Columba, in verse, with some account of
  his own life; his exhortations to princes and his prophecies. Laud.
  D. 17.

  A chronological history of Ireland, by Jeffrey Keating, D.D.

_Among the Clarendon MSS. at Oxford are_--

  Annales Ultonienses, sic dicti quod precipué contineant res gestas
  Ultoniensium. Codex antiquissimus caractere Hibernico scriptus; sed
  sermone, partim Hibernico, partim Latino. Fol. membr. The 16th and
  17th specimens in Plate xxii. of Astle’s work are taken from this
  MS., which is numbered 31 of Dr Rawlinson’s MSS.

  Annales Tigernaci (Erenaci. ut opiniatur Warœus Clonmanaisensis.
  Vid. Annal. Ulton. ad an. 1088), mutili in initio et alibi. Liber
  charactere et lingua Hibernicis scriptus. Memb.

  These annals, which are written in the old Irish character, were
  originally collected by Sir James Ware, and came into the possession
  successively of the Earl of Clarendon, the Duke of Chandos, and of
  Dr Rawlinson.

  Miscellanea de Rebus Hibernicis, metricè. Lingua partim Latina,
  partim Hibernica; collecta per Œngusium O’Colode (fortè Colidium).
  Hic liber vulgò Psalter Na rann appellatur.

  Elegiæ Hibernicæ in Obitus quorundam Nobilium fo. 50.

  Notæ quædam Philosophicæ, partim Latiné, partim Hibernicé,
  Characteribus Hibernicis, fo. 69. Membr.

  Anonymi cujusdàm Tractatus de varies apud Hibernos veteres occultis
  scribendi Formulis, Hibernicé Ogum dictis.

  Finleachi O Catalai Gigantomachia (vel potiùs Acta Finni Mac
  Cuil, cum Prœlio de Fintra), Hibernicé. Colloquia quædam de Rebus
  Hibernicis in quibus colloquentes introducuntur S. Patricius,
  Coillius, et Ossenus Hibernicé f. 12. Leges Ecclesiasticæ Hibernicé
  f. 53. Membr.

  Vitæ Sanctorum Hibernicorum, per Magnum sive Manum, filium Hugonis
  O’Donnel, Hibernigé descriptæ. An. 1532, Fol. Membr.

  Calieni Prophetiæ, in Lingua Hibernica. Ejusdem libri exemplar extat
  in Bibl. Cotton, f. 22. b.

  Extracto ex Libro Killensi, Lingua Hibernica, f. 39.

  Historica quædam, Hibernicé, ab An. 130, ad An. 1317, f. 231.

  A Book of Irish Poetry, f. 16.

  Tractatus de Scriptoribus Hibernicis.

  Dr Keating’s History of Ireland.

_Irish MSS. in Trinity College, Dublin_:--

  Extracto ex Libro de Kells Hibernicé.

  A book in Irish, treating,--1. Of the Building of Babel. 2. Of
  Grammar. 3. Of Physic. 4. Of Chirurgery. Fol. D. 10.

  A book containing several ancient historical matters, especially of
  the coming of Milesius out of Spain. B. 35.

  The book of Balimote, containing,--1. The Genealogies of all
  the ancient Families in Ireland. 2. The Uracept, or a book for
  the education of youth, written by K. Comfoilus Sapiens. 3. The
  Ogma, or Art of Writing in Characters. 4. The History of the Wars
  of Troy, with other historical matters contained in the book of
  Lecane, D. 18. The book of Lecane, _alias_ Sligo, contains the
  following treatises:--1. A treatise of Ireland and its divisions
  into provinces, with the history of the Irish kings and sovereigns,
  answerable to the general history; but nine leaves are wanting. 2.
  How the race of Milesius came into Ireland, and of their adventures
  since Moses’s passing through the Red Sea. 3. Of the descent and
  years of the ancient fathers. 4. A catalogue of the kings of
  Ireland in verse. 5. The maternal genealogies and degrees of the
  Irish saints. 6. The genealogies of our Lady, Joseph, and several
  other saints mentioned in the Scripture. 7. An alphabetic catalogue
  of Irish saints. 8. The sacred antiquity of the Irish saints in
  verse. 9. Cormac’s life. 10. Several transactions of the monarchs
  of Ireland and their provincial kings. 11. The history of Eogain
  M’or, Knight; as also of his children and posterity. 12. O’Neil’s
  pedigree. 13. Several battles of the Sept of Cinet Ogen, or tribe
  of Owen, from Owen Mac Neile Mac Donnoch. 14. Manne, the son of
  King Neal, of the nine hostages and his family. 15. Fiacha, the son
  of Mac Neil and his Sept. 16. Leogarius, son of Nelus Magnus, and
  his tribe. 17. The Connaught book. 18. The book of Fiatrach. 19.
  The book of Uriel. 20. The Leinster book. 21. The descent of the
  Fochards, or the Nolans. 22. The descent of those of Leix, or the
  O’Mores. 23. The descent of Decyes of Munster, or the Ophelans.
  24. The coming of Muscrey to Moybreagh. 25. A commentary upon the
  antiquity of Albany, now called Scotland. 26. The descent of some
  Septs of the Irish, different from those of the most known sort,
  that is, of the posterity of Lugadh Frith. 27. The Ulster book. 28.
  The British book. 29. The Uracept, or a book for the education of
  youth, written by K. Comfoilus Sapiens. 30. The genealogies of St
  Patrick and other saints, as also an etymology of the hard words
  in the said treatise. 31. A treatise of several prophecies. 32.
  The laws, customs, exploits, and tributes of the Irish kings and
  provincials. 33. A treatise of Eva, and the famous women of ancient
  times. 34. A poem that treats of Adam and his posterity. 35. The
  Munster book. 36. A book containing the etymology of all the names
  of the chief territories and notable places in Ireland. 37. Of
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  Tu’atha de Danaan, and the Milesians into Ireland. 38. A treatise of
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  De Chirurgia. De Infirmitatibus Corporis humane, Hibernicé, f.
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  Excerpta quædam de antiquitatibus Incolarum, Dublin ex libris
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  Hymni in laudem B. Patricii, Brigidæ et Columbiæ, Hibern. plerumque.
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  margin. Orationes quædam excerptæ ex Psalmis; partim Latiné, partim
  Hibernicé, fol. Membr. I. 125.

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  A book of Postils in Irish, fol. Membr. D. 24.

  Certain prayers, with the argument of the four Gospels and the Acts,
  in Irish (10.), ’Fiechi Slebthiensis. Hymnus in laudem S. Patricii,
  Hibernicé (12.), A hymn on St Bridget, in Irish, made by Columkill
  in the time of Eda Mac Ainmireck, cum Regibus Hibern. et success. S.
  Patricii (14.), Sanctani Hymnus. Hibern.

  Reverendissimi D. Bedelli Translatio Hibernica S. Bibliorum.


  In addition to the above, there has been a considerable collection
  of Gaelic MSS. made at the British Museum. They were all catalogued
  a few years ago by the late Eugene O’Curry, Esq. It is unnecessary
  to give the list here, but Mr O’Curry’s catalogue will be found
  an admirable directory for any inquirer at the Museum. Foreign
  libraries also contain many such MSS.


[96] _Early Scottish Church_, p. 146.

[97] P. 57.

[98] _Fo_ here and elsewhere in the poem seems to represent _fa_,
upon, rather than _ar_, as Mr Skene supposes.

[99] _Chronicles of the Picts and Scots_, Int. p. xxxvii.

[100] P. 275.

[101] From _Dean of Lismore’s Book_, with a few verbal alterations,
p. 157.

[102] _Irish Grammar_, p. 449.

[103] This question has been recently discussed by the Rev. Archibald
Clerk of Kilmallie, in his elegant edition of the _Poems of Ossian_,
published since the above was written, under the auspices of the
Marquis of Bute. We refer our readers to Mr Clerk’s treatise for a
great deal of varied and interesting information on this subject.

[104] Logan on the _Scottish Gael_, vol. ii. 252-3.

[105] Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland on
the Poems of Ossian, App. No. xix., p. 290.

[106] It is, therefore, probable that these genealogies were written
about the middle of the sixteenth century. A fac simile of the
writing is to be found in the Report of the Committee of the Highland
Society on the authenticity of Ossian, Plate II.

[107] Report of the Committee of the Highland Society on Ossian, App.
No. xix., p. 291.

[108] Ogyg., p. 275.

[109] Appendix, _ut supra_, No. xix.

[110] Report of the Highland Society on Ossian. p. 92.

[111] Appendix to the Highland Society’s Report, p. 300-1.

[112] Report on Ossian, Appendix, p. 312.

[113] Report on Ossian, pp. 108-9.




  Clanship--Principle of _kin_--Mormaordoms--Traditions as
  to origin of Clans--Distinction between Feudalism and
  Clanship--Peculiarities of Clanship--Consequences of
  Clanship--_Manrent_--Customs of Succession--Tanistry and
  Gavel--Highland Marriage Customs--Hand-fasting--Highland
  gradation of ranks--_Calpe_--Native-men--Righ or King--Mormaor,
  Tighern, Thane--Tanist--_Ceantighes_--Toshach--“Captain” of a
  Clan--Ogtiern--Duine-wassels, Tacksmen, or Goodmen--Brehon--Position
  and power of Chief--Influence of Clanship on the people--Chiefs
  sometimes abandoned by the people--Number and Distribution of Clans.

The term _clan_, now applied almost exclusively to the tribes into
which the Scottish Highlanders were formerly, and still to some
extent are divided, was also applied to those large and powerful
septs into which the Irish people were at one time divided, as well
as to the communities of freebooters that inhabited the Scottish
borders, each of which, like the Highland clans, had a common
surname. Indeed, in an Act of the Scottish Parliament for 1587,
the Highlanders and Borderers are classed together as being alike
“dependents on chieftains or captains of clans.” The border clans,
however, were at a comparatively early period broken up and weaned
from their predatory and warlike habits, whereas the system of
clanship in the Highlands continued to flourish in almost full vigour
down to the middle of last century. As there is so much of romance
surrounding the system, especially in its later manifestations,
and as it was the cause of much annoyance to Britain, it has become
a subject of interest to antiquarians and students of mankind
generally; and as it flourished so far into the historical period,
curiosity can, to a great extent, be gratified as to its details and

A good deal has been written on the subject in its various aspects,
and among other authorities we must own our indebtedness for much
of our information to Skene’s _Highlanders of Scotland_, Gregory’s
_Highlands and Isles_, Robertson’s _Scotland under her Early Kings_,
Stewart’s _Sketches of the Highlanders_, Logan’s _Scottish Gael_ and
_Clans_, and _The Iona Club Transactions_, besides the publications
of the various other Scottish Clubs.

We learn from Tacitus and other historians, that at a very early
period the inhabitants of Caledonia were divided into a number of
tribes, each with a chief at its head. These tribes, from all we
can learn, were independent of, and often at war with each other,
and only united under a common elected leader when the necessity of
resisting a common foe compelled them. In this the Caledonians only
followed a custom which is common to all barbarous and semi-barbarous
peoples; but what was the bond of union among the members of the
various tribes it is now not easy to ascertain. We learn from the
researches of Mr E. W. Robertson that the feeling of _kindred_ was
very strong among all the early Celtic and even Teutonic nations,
and that it was on the principle of _kin_ that land was allotted
to the members of the various tribes. The property of the land
appears to have been vested in the _Cean-cinneth_, or head of the
lineage for the good of his clan; it was “burdened with the support
of his kindred and _Amasach_” (military followers), these being
allotted parcels of land in proportion to the nearness of their
relation to the chief of the clan.[114] The word _clan_ itself, from
its etymology,[115] points to the principle of _kin_, as the bond
which united the members of the tribes among themselves, and bound
them to their chiefs. As there are good grounds for believing that
the original Caledonians, the progenitors of the present genuine
Highlanders, belonged to the Celtic family of mankind, it is highly
probable that when they first entered upon possession of Alban,
whether peaceably or by conquest, they divided the land among their
various tribes in accordance with their Celtic principle. The word
clan, as we have said, signifies family, and a clan was a certain
number of families of the same name, sprung, as was believed, from
the same root, and governed by the lineal descendant of the parent
family. This patriarchal form of society was probably common in
the infancy of mankind, and seems to have prevailed in the days of
Abraham; indeed, it was on a similar principle that Palestine was
divided among the twelve tribes of Israel, the descendants of the
twelve sons of Jacob.

As far back as we can trace, the Highlands appear to have been
divided into a number of districts, latterly known as Mormaordoms,
each under the jurisdiction of a Mormaor, to whom the several tribes
in each district looked up as their common head. It is not improbable
that Galgacus, the chosen leader mentioned by Tacitus, may have held
a position similar to this, and that in course of time some powerful
or popular chief, at first elected as a temporary leader, may have
contrived to make his office permanent, and even to some extent
hereditary. The title Mormaor, however, is first met with only after
the various divisions of northern Scotland had been united into a
kingdom. “In Scotland the royal official placed over the crown or
fiscal lands, appears to have been originally known as the _Maor_,
and latterly under the Teutonic appellation of Thane.... The original
Thanage would appear to have been a district held of the Crown,
the holder, Maor or Thane, being accountable for the collection of
the royal dues, and for the appearance of the royal tenantry at
the yearly ‘hosting,’ and answering to the hereditary _Toshach_,
or captain of a clan, for the king stood in the place of the
_Cean-cinneth_, or chief.... When lands were strictly retained in the
Crown, the Royal Thane, or Maor, was answerable directly to the King;
but there was a still greater official among the Scots, known under
the title of _Mormaor_, or Lord High Steward ... who was evidently
a Maor placed over a province instead of a thanage--an earldom
or county instead of a barony--a type of Harfager’s royal Jarl,
who often exercised as a royal deputy that authority which he had
originally claimed as the independent lord of the district over which
he presided.”[116] According to Mr Skene,[117] it was only about
the 16th century when the great power of these Mormaors was broken
up, and their provinces converted into thanages or earldoms, many
of which were held by Saxon nobles, who possessed them by marriage,
that the clans first make their appearance in these districts and
in independence. By this, we suppose, he does not mean that it was
only when the above change took place that the system of clanship
sprang into existence, but that then the various great divisions
of the clans, losing their _cean-cinneth_, or head of the kin, the
individual clans becoming independent, sprang into greater prominence
and assumed a stronger individuality.

Among the Highlanders themselves various traditions have existed as
to the origin of the clans. Mr Skene mentions the three principal
ones, and proves them to be entirely fanciful. The first of these
is the _Scottish_ or _Irish_ system, by which the clans trace their
origin or foundation to early Irish or Scoto-Irish kings. The second
is what Mr Skene terms the _heroic_ system, by which many of the
Highland clans are deduced from the great heroes in the fabulous
histories of Scotland and Ireland, by identifying one of these
fabulous heroes with an ancestor of the clan of the same name. The
third system did not spring up till the 17th century, “when the
fabulous history of Scotland first began to be doubted, when it was
considered to be a principal merit in an antiquarian to display his
scepticism as to all the old traditions of the country.”[118] Mr
Skene terms it the _Norwegian_ or _Danish_ system, and it was the
result of a _furor_ for imputing everything and deriving everybody
from the Danes. The idea, however, never obtained any great credit in
the Highlands. The conclusion to which Mr Skene comes is, “that the
Highland clans are not of different or foreign origin, but that they
were a part of the original nation, who have inhabited the mountains
of Scotland as far back as the memory of man, or the records of
history can reach; that they were divided into several great tribes
possessing their hereditary chiefs; and that it was only when the
line of these chiefs became extinct, and Saxon nobles came into their
place, that the Highland clans appeared in the peculiar situation and
character in which they were afterwards found.” Mr Skene thinks this
conclusion strongly corroborated by the fact that there can be traced
existing in the Highlands, even so late as the 16th century, a still
older tradition than that of the Irish origin of the clans. This
tradition is found in the often referred to letter of “John Elder,
clerk, a Reddschanke,” dated 1542, and addressed to King Henry VIII.
This tradition, held by the Highlanders of the “more auncient stoke”
in opposition to the “Papistical curside spiritualite of Scotland,”
was that they were the true descendants of the ancient Picts, then
known as “Redd Schankes.”

Whatever may be the value of Mr Skene’s conclusions as to the purity
of descent of the present Highlanders, his researches, taken in
conjunction with those of Mr E. W. Robertson, seem pretty clearly
to prove, that from as far back as history goes the Highlanders
were divided into tribes on the principle of _kin_, that the germ
of the fully developed clan-system can be found among the earliest
Celtic inhabitants of Scotland; that clanship, in short, is only a
modern example, systematised, developed, and modified by time of the
ancient principle on which the Celtic people formed their tribes and
divided their lands. The clans were the fragments of the old Celtic
tribes, whose mormaors had been destroyed, each tribe dividing into a
number of clans. When, according to a recent writer, the old Celtic
tribe was deprived of its chief, the bolder spirits among the minor
chieftains would gather round them each a body of partisans, who
would assume his name and obey his orders. It might even happen that,
from certain favourable circumstances, a Saxon or a Norman stranger
would thus be able to gain a circle of adherents out of a broken or
chieftainless Celtic tribe, and so become the founder of a clan.

As might be expected, this primitive, patriarchal state of society
would be liable to be abolished as the royal authority became
extended and established, and the feudal system substituted in its
stead. This we find was the case, for under David and his successors,
during the 12th and 13th centuries, the old and almost independent
mormaordoms were gradually abolished, and in their stead were
substituted earldoms feudally dependent upon the Crown. In many
instances these mormaordoms passed into the hands of lowland barons,
favourites of the king; and thus the dependent tribes, losing their
hereditary heads, separated, as we have said, into a number of
small and independent clans, although even the new foreign barons
themselves for a long time exercised an almost independent sway, and
used the power which they had acquired by royal favour against the
king himself.

As far as the tenure of lands and the heritable jurisdictions
were concerned, the feudal system was easily introduced into the
Highlands; but although the principal chiefs readily agreed, or were
induced by circumstances to hold their lands of the Crown or of
low-country barons, yet the system of clanship remained in full force
amongst the native Highlanders until a very recent period, and its
spirit still to a certain extent survives in the affections, the
prejudices, the opinions, and the habits of the people.[119]

The nature of the Highlands of Scotland was peculiarly favourable
to the clan system, and no doubt helped to a considerable extent to
perpetuate it. The division of the country into so many straths, and
valleys, and islands, separated from one another by mountains or arms
of the sea, necessarily gave rise to various distinct societies.
Their secluded situation necessarily rendered general intercourse
difficult, whilst the impenetrable ramparts with which they were
surrounded made defence easy. The whole race was thus broken into
many individual masses, possessing a community of customs and
character, but placed under different jurisdictions; every district
became a sort of petty independent state; and the government of each
community or clan assumed the patriarchal form, being a species
of hereditary monarchy, founded on custom, and allowed by general
consent, rather than regulated by positive laws.

The system of clanship in the Highlands,[120] although possessing an
apparent resemblance to feudalism, was in principle very different
indeed from that system as it existed in other parts of the country.
In the former case, the people followed their chief as the head of
their race, and the representative of the common ancestor of the
clan; in the latter, they obeyed their leader as feudal proprietor
of the lands to which they were attached, and to whom they owed
military service for their respective portions of these lands. The
Highland chief was the hereditary lord of all who belonged to his
clan, wherever they dwelt or whatever lands they occupied; the feudal
baron was entitled to the military service of all who held lands
under him, to whatever race they might individually belong. The one
dignity was personal, the other was territorial; the rights of the
chief were inherent, those of the baron were accessory; the one might
lose or forfeit his possessions, but could not thereby be divested of
his hereditary character and privileges; the other, when divested
of his fee, ceased to have any title or claim to the service of
those who occupied the lands. Yet these two systems, so different
in principle, were in effect nearly identical. Both exhibited the
spectacle of a subject possessed of unlimited power within his own
territories, and exacting unqualified obedience from a numerous train
of followers, to whom he stood in the several relations of landlord,
military leader, and judge, with all the powers and prerogatives
belonging to each of those characters. Both were equally calculated
to aggrandise turbulent chiefs and nobles, at the expense of the
royal authority, which they frequently defied, generally resisted,
and but seldom obeyed; although for the most part, the chief was less
disloyal than the baron, probably because he was farther removed
from the seat of government, and less sensible of its interference
with his own jurisdiction. The one system was adapted to a people
in a pastoral state of society, and inhabiting a country, like
the Highlands of Scotland, which from its peculiar nature and
conformation, not only prevented the adoption of any other mode of
life, but at the same time prescribed the division of the people into
separate families or clans. The other system, being of a defensive
character, was necessary to a population occupying a fertile but
open country, possessing only a rude notion of agriculture, and
exposed on all sides to aggressions on the part of neighbours
or enemies. But the common tendency of both was to obstruct the
administration of justice, nurse habits of lawless violence, exclude
the cultivation of the arts of peace, and generally to impede the
progress of improvement; and hence neither was compatible with the
prosperity of a civilised nation, where the liberty of the subject
required protection, and the security of property demanded an equal
administration of justice.

The peculiarities of clanship are nowhere better described than
in Burt’s _Letters from an Officer of Engineers to his Friend in
London_.[121] “The Highlanders,” he says, “are divided into tribes or
clans, under chiefs or chieftains, and each clan is again divided
into branches from the main stock, who have chieftains over them.
These are subdivided into smaller branches of fifty or sixty men,
who deduce their original from their particular chieftains, and rely
upon them as their more immediate protectors and defenders. The
ordinary Highlanders esteem it the most sublime degree of virtue to
love their chief and pay him a blind obedience, although it be in
opposition to the government. Next to this love of their chief is
that of the particular branch whence they sprang; and, in a third
degree, to those of the whole clan or name, whom they will assist,
right or wrong, against those of any other tribe with which they
are at variance. They likewise owe good-will to such clans as they
esteem to be their particular well-wishers. And, lastly, they have an
adherence to one another as Highlanders in opposition to the people
of the low country, whom they despise as inferior to them in courage,
and believe they have a right to plunder them whenever it is in their
power. This last arises from a tradition that the Lowlands, in old
times, were the possessions of their ancestors.

“The chief exercises an arbitrary authority over his vassals,
determines all differences and disputes that happen among them, and
levies taxes upon extraordinary occasions, such as the marriage of
a daughter, building a house, or some pretence for his support or
the honour of his name; and if any one should refuse to contribute
to the best of his ability, he is sure of severe treatment, and,
if he persists in his obstinacy, he would be cast out of his tribe
by general consent. This power of the chief is not supported by
interest, as they are landlords, but by consanguinity, as lineally
descended from the old patriarchs or fathers of the families, for
they hold the same authority when they have lost their estates, as
may appear from several instances, and particularly that of one (Lord
Lovat) who commands his clan, though at the same time they maintain
him, having nothing left of his own. On the other hand, the chief,
even against the laws, is bound to protect his followers, as they are
sometimes called, be they never so criminal. He is their leader in
clan quarrels, must free the necessitous from their arrears of rent,
and maintain such who by accidents are fallen to total decay. Some of
the chiefs have not only personal dislikes and enmity to each other,
but there are also hereditary feuds between clan and clan, which have
been handed down from one generation to another for several ages.
These quarrels descend to the meanest vassals, and thus sometimes an
innocent person suffers for crimes committed by his tribe at a vast
distance of time before his being began.”

This clear and concise description will serve to convey an idea of
clanship as it existed in the Highlands, about the beginning of the
eighteenth century, when the system was in full force and vigour. It
presented a singular mixture of patriarchal and feudal government;
and everything connected with the habits, manners, customs, and
feelings of the people tended to maintain it unimpaired, amidst all
the changes which were gradually taking place in other parts of
the country, from the diffusion of knowledge, and the progress of
improvement. There was, indeed, something almost oriental in the
character of immutability which seemed to belong to this primitive
institution, endeared as it was to the affections, and singularly
adapted to the condition of the people amongst whom it prevailed.
Under its influence all their habits had been formed; with it all
their feelings and associations were indissolubly blended. When the
kindred and the followers of a chief saw him surrounded by a body of
adherents, numerous, faithful, and brave, devoted to his interests,
and ready at all times to sacrifice their lives in his service, they
could conceive no power superior to his; and, when they looked back
into the past history of their tribe, they found that his progenitors
had, from time immemorial, been at their head. Their tales, their
traditions, their songs, constantly referred to the exploits or
the transactions of the same tribe or fraternity living under the
same line of chiefs; and the transmission of command and obedience,
of protection and attachment, from one generation to another,
became in consequence as natural, in the eye of a Highlander, as
the transmission of blood or the regular laws of descent. This
order of things appeared to him as fixed and as inviolable as the
constitution of nature or the revolutions of the seasons. Hence
nothing could shake his fidelity to his chief, or induce him to
compromise what he believed to be for the honour and interest of
his clan. He was not without his feelings of independence, and he
would not have brooked oppression where he looked for kindness and
protection. But the long unbroken line of chiefs is of itself a
strong presumptive proof of the general mildness of their sway. The
individuals might change, but the ties which bound one generation
were drawn more closely, although by insensible degrees, around the
succeeding one; and thus each family, in all its various successions,
retained something like the same sort of relation to the parent stem,
which the renewed leaves of a tree in spring preserve, in point of
form and position, to those which had dropped off in the preceding

Many important consequences, affecting the character of the
Highlanders, resulted from this division of the people into small
tribes, each governed in the patriarchal manner already described.
The authority of the sovereign, if nominally recognised, was nearly
altogether unfelt and inoperative. His mandates could neither arrest
the mutual depredations of the clans, nor allay their hereditary
hostilities. Delinquents could not be pursued into the bosom of the
clan which protected them, nor could the judges administer the laws,
in opposition to the will or the interests of the chiefs. Sometimes
the sovereign attempted to strengthen his hands by fomenting
divisions between the different clans, and entering occasionally
into the interests of one, in the hope of weakening another; he
threw his weight into one scale that the other might kick the beam,
and he withdrew it again, that, by the violence of the reaction,
both parties might be equally damaged and enfeebled. Many instances
of this artful policy occur in Scottish history, which, for a long
period, was little else than a record of internal disturbances. The
general government, wanting the power to repress disorder, sought
to destroy its elements by mutual collision; and the immediate
consequence of its inefficiency was an almost perpetual system of
aggression, warfare, depredation, and contention. Besides, the
little principalities into which the Highlands were divided touched
at so many points, yet they were so independent of one another;
they approached so nearly in many respects, yet, in some others,
were so completely separated; there were so many opportunities of
encroachment on the one hand, and so little disposition to submit
to it on the other; and the quarrel or dispute of one individual of
the tribe so naturally involved the interest, the sympathies, and
the hereditary feelings or animosities of the rest, that profound
peace or perfect cordiality scarcely ever existed amongst them, and
their ordinary condition was either a chronic or an active state of
internal warfare. From opposing interests or wounded pride, deadly
feuds frequently arose amongst the chiefs, and being warmly espoused
by the clans, were often transmitted, with aggravated animosity, from
one generation to another.

If it were profitable, it might be curious to trace the negotiations,
treaties, and bonds of amity, or _manrent_ as they were called, by
which opposing clans strengthened themselves against the attacks
and encroachments of their enemies or rivals, or to preserve what
may be called the balance of power. Amongst the rudest communities
of mankind may be discovered the elements of that science which has
been applied to the government and diplomacy of the most civilised
nations. By such bonds they came under an obligation to assist one
another; and, in their treaties of mutual support and protection,
smaller clans, unable to defend themselves, and those families or
septs which had lost their chieftains, were also included. When such
confederacies were formed, the smaller clans followed the fortunes,
engaged in the quarrels, and fought under the chiefs, of the greater.
Thus the MacRaes followed the Earl of Seaforth, the MacColls the
Stewarts of Appin, and the MacGillivrays and MacBeans the Laird
of Mackintosh; but, nevertheless, their ranks were separately
marshalled, and were led by their own subordinate chieftains and
lairds, who owned submission only when necessary for the success
of combined operations. The union had for its object aggression or
revenge, and extended no further than the occasion for which it
had been formed; yet it served to prevent the smaller clans from
being swallowed up by the greater, and at the same time nursed the
turbulent and warlike spirit which formed the common distinction of
all. From these and other causes, the Highlands were for ages as
constant a theatre of petty conflicts as Europe has been of great and
important struggles; in the former were enacted, in miniature, scenes
bearing a striking and amusing analogy to those which took place upon
a grand scale in the latter. The spirit of opposition and rivalry
between the clans perpetuated a system of hostility; it encouraged
the cultivation of the military at the expense of the social virtues,
and it perverted their ideas both of law and morality. Revenge was
accounted a duty, the destruction of a neighbour a meritorious
exploit, and rapine an honourable employment. Wherever danger was
to be encountered, or bravery displayed, there they conceived that
distinction was to be obtained; the perverted sentiment of honour
rendered their feuds more implacable, their inroads more savage and
destructive; and superstition added its influence in exasperating
animosities, by teaching that to revenge the death of a kinsman or
friend was an act agreeable to his manes; thus engaging on the side
of the most implacable hatred and the darkest vengeance, the most
amiable and domestic of all human feelings, namely, reverence for the
memory of the dead, and affection for the virtues of the living.

Another custom, which once prevailed, contributed to perpetuate
this spirit of lawless revenge. “Every heir or young chieftain of a
tribe,” says Martin, who had studied the character and manners of
the Highlanders, and understood them well, “was obliged to give a
specimen of his valour before he was owned and declared governor or
leader of his people, who obeyed and followed him on all occasions.
This chieftain was usually attended with a retinue of young men, who
had not before given any proof of their valour, and were ambitious
of such an opportunity to signalise themselves. It was usual for the
chief to make a desperate incursion upon some neighbour or other
that they were in feud with, and they were obliged to bring, by open
force, the cattle they found in the land they attacked, or to die in
the attempt. After the performance of this achievement, the young
chieftain was ever after reputed valiant, and worthy of government,
and such as were of his retinue acquired the like reputation. This
custom being reciprocally used among them, was not reputed robbery;
for the damage which one tribe sustained by the inauguration of the
chieftain of another, was repaired when their chieftain came in his
turn to make his specimen.”[122] But the practice seems to have died
out about half a century before the time at which Martin’s work
appeared, and its disuse removed one fertile source of feuds and
disorders. Of the nature of the depredations in which the Highlanders
commonly engaged, the sentiments with which they were regarded, the
manner in which they were conducted, and the effects which they
produced on the character, habits, and manners of the people, an
ample and interesting account will be found in the first volume of
General Stewart’s valuable work on the Highlands.

It has been commonly alleged, that ideas of succession were so loose
in the Highlands, that brothers were often preferred to grandsons
and even to sons. But this assertion proceeds on a most erroneous
assumption, inasmuch as election was never in any degree admitted,
and a system of hereditary succession prevailed, which, though
different from that which has been instituted by the feudal law,
allowed of no such deviations or anomalies as some have imagined.
The Highland law of succession, as Mr Skene observes, requires to be
considered in reference, first, to the chiefship and the superiority
of the lands belonging to the clan; and secondly, in respect to the
property or the land itself. The succession to the chiefship and its
usual prerogatives was termed the law of _tanistry_; that to the
property or the land itself, _gavel_. But when the feudal system
was introduced, the law of tanistry became the law of succession to
the property as well as the chiefship; whilst that of gavel was too
directly opposed to feudal principles to be suffered to exist at all,
even in a modified form. It appears, indeed, that the Highlanders
adhered strictly to succession in the male line, and that the great
peculiarity which distinguished their law of succession from that
established by the feudal system, consisted in the circumstance that,
according to it, brothers invariably succeeded before sons. In the
feudal system property was alone considered, and the nearest relation
to the last proprietor was naturally accounted the heir. But, in
the Highland system, the governing principle of succession was not
property, but the right of chiefship, derived from being the lineal
descendant of the founder or patriarch of the tribe; it was the
relation to the common ancestor, to whom the brother was considered
as one degree nearer than the son, and through whom the right was
derived, and not to the last chief, which regulated the succession.
Thus, the brothers of the chief invariably succeeded before the
sons, not by election, but as a matter of right, and according to a
fixed rule which formed the law or principle of succession, instead
of being, as some have supposed, a departure from it, occasioned
by views of temporary expediency, by usurpation, or otherwise. In
a word, the law of tanistry, however much opposed to the feudal
notions of later times, flowed naturally from the patriarchal
constitution of society in the Highlands, and was peculiarly adapted
to the circumstances of a people such as we have described, whose
warlike habits and love of military enterprise, or armed predatory
expeditions, made it necessary to have at all times a chief competent
to act as their leader or commander.

But if the law of tanistry was opposed to the principles of the
feudal system, that of gavel or the succession to property amongst
the Highlanders was still more adverse. By the feudal law the eldest
son, when the succession opened, not only acquired the superiority
over the rest of the family, but he also succeeded to the whole
of the property, whilst the younger branches were obliged to push
their fortune by following other pursuits. But in the Highlands the
case was altogether different. By the law of gavel, the property of
the clan was divided in certain proportions amongst all the male
branches of the family, to the exclusion of females, who, by this
extraordinary Salic anomaly, could no more succeed to the property
than to the chiefship itself. The law of gavel in the Highlands,
therefore, differed from the English custom of gavel-kind in being
exclusively confined to the male branches of a family. In what
proportions the property was divided, or whether these proportions
varied according to circumstances, or the will of the chief, it is
impossible to ascertain. But it would appear that the principal seat
of the family, with the lands immediately surrounding it, always
remained the property of the chief; and besides this, the latter
retained a sort of superiority over the whole possessions of the
clan, in virtue of which he received from each dependent branch
a portion of the produce of the land as an acknowledgment of his
chiefship, and also to enable him to support the dignity of his
station by the exercise of a commensurate hospitality. Such was the
law of gavel, which, though adverse to feudal principles, was adapted
to the state of society amongst the Highlands, out of which indeed
it originally sprang; because, where there were no other pursuits
open to the younger branches of families except rearing flocks and
herds during peace, and following the chief in war; and where it was
the interest as well as the ambition of the latter to multiply the
connexions of his family, and take every means to strengthen the
power as well as to secure the obedience of his clan, the division
of property, or the law of gavel, resulted as naturally from such an
order of things, as that of hereditary succession to the patriarchal
government and chiefship of the clan. Hence, the chief stood to
the cadets of his family in a relation somewhat analogous to that
in which the feudal sovereign stood to the barons who held their
fiefs of the crown, and although there was no formal investiture,
yet the tenure was in effect pretty nearly the same. In both cases
the principle of the system was essentially military, though it
apparently led to opposite results; and, in the Highlands, the law
under consideration was so peculiarly adapted to the constitution
of society, that it was only abandoned after a long struggle, and
even at a comparatively recent period traces of its existence and
operation may be observed amongst the people of that country.[123]

Similar misconceptions have prevailed regarding Highland
marriage-customs. This was, perhaps, to be expected. In a country
where a bastard son was often found in undisturbed possession of the
chiefship or property of a clan, and where such bastard generally
received the support of the clansmen against the claims of the
feudal heir, it was natural to suppose that very loose notions of
succession were entertained by the people; that legitimacy conferred
no exclusive rights; and that the title founded on birth alone might
be set aside in favour of one having no other claim than that of
election. But this, although a plausible, would nevertheless be an
erroneous supposition. The person here considered as a bastard,
and described as such, was by no means viewed in the same light
by the Highlanders, because, according to their law of marriage,
which was originally very different from the feudal system in this
matter, his claim to legitimacy was as undoubted as that of the
feudal heir afterwards became. It is well known that the notions
of the Highlanders were peculiarly strict in regard to matters of
hereditary succession, and that no people on earth was less likely
to sanction any flagrant deviation from what they believed to be the
right and true line of descent. All their peculiar habits, feelings,
and prejudices were in direct opposition to a practice, which, had
it been really acted upon, must have introduced endless disorder
and confusion; and hence the natural explanation of this apparent
anomaly seems to be, what Mr Skene has stated, namely, that a person
who was feudally a bastard might in their view be considered as
legitimate, and therefore entitled to be supported in accordance
with their strict ideas of hereditary right, and their habitual
tenacity of whatever belonged to their ancient usages. Nor is this
mere conjecture or hypothesis. A singular custom regarding marriage,
retained till a late period amongst the Highlanders, and clearly
indicating that their law of marriage originally differed in some
essential points from that established under the feudal system, seems
to afford a simple and natural explanation of the difficulty by which
genealogists have been so much puzzled.

“This custom was termed _hand-fasting_, and consisted in a species
of contract between two chiefs, by which it was agreed that the
heir of one should live with the daughter of the other as her
husband for twelve months and a day. If in that time the lady became
a mother, or proved to be with child, the marriage became good in
law, even although no priest had performed the marriage ceremony
in due form; but should there not have occurred any appearance of
issue, the contract was considered at an end, and each party was at
liberty to marry or hand-fast with any other. It is manifest that
the practice of so peculiar a species of marriage must have been in
terms of the original law among the Highlanders, otherwise it would
be difficult to conceive how such a custom could have originated;
and it is in fact one which seems naturally to have arisen from the
form of their society, which rendered it a matter of such vital
importance to secure the lineal succession of their chiefs. It is
perhaps not improbable that it was this peculiar custom which gave
rise to the report handed down by the Roman and other historians,
that the ancient inhabitants of Great Britain had their wives in
common, or that it was the foundation of that law of Scotland by
which natural children became legitimized by subsequent marriage;
and as this custom remained in the Highlands until a very late
period, the sanction of the ancient custom was sufficient to induce
them to persist in regarding the offspring of such marriages as

It appears, indeed, that, as late as the sixteenth century, the
issue of a hand-fast marriage claimed the earldom of Sutherland. The
claimant, according to Sir Robert Gordon, described himself as one
lawfully descended from his father, John, the third earl, because,
as he alleged, “his mother was _hand-fasted_ and fianced to his
father;” and his claim was bought off (which shows that it was not
considered as altogether incapable of being maintained) by Sir Adam
Gordon, who had married the heiress of Earl John. Such, then, was
the nature of the peculiar and temporary connexion, which gave rise
to the apparent anomalies which we have been considering. It was a
custom which had for its object, not to interrupt, but to preserve
the lineal succession of the chiefs, and to obviate the very evil
of which it is conceived to afford a glaring example. But after the
introduction of the feudal law, which, in this respect, was directly
opposed to the ancient Highland law, the lineal and legitimate heir,
according to Highland principles, came to be regarded as a bastard
by the government, which accordingly considered him as thereby
incapacitated for succeeding to the honours and property of his race;
and hence originated many of those disputes concerning succession and
chiefship, which embroiled families with one another as well as with
the government, and were productive of incredible disorder, mischief,
and bloodshed. No allowance was made for the ancient usages of the
people, which were probably but ill understood; and the rights of
rival claimants were decided according to the principles of a foreign
system of law, which was long resisted, and never admitted except
from necessity. It is to be observed, however, that the Highlanders
themselves drew a broad distinction between bastard sons and the
issue of the hand-fast unions above described. The former were
rigorously excluded from every sort of succession, but the latter
were considered as legitimate as the offspring of the most regularly
solemnized marriage.

Having said thus much respecting the laws of succession and marriage,
we proceed next to consider the gradation of ranks which appears to
have existed amongst the Highlanders, whether in relation to the
lands of which they were proprietors, or the clans of which they
were members. And here it may be observed, that the classification
of society in the Highlands seems to have borne a close resemblance
to that which prevailed in Wales and in Ireland amongst cognate
branches of the same general race. In the former country there were
three different tenures of land, and nine degrees of rank. Of these
tenures, the first was termed Maerdir, signifying a person who
has jurisdiction, and included three ranks; the second was called
Uchilordir, or property, and likewise consisted of three ranks; and
the third, denominated Priodordir, or native, included that portion
of the population whom we would now call tenants, divided into the
degrees of yeomen, labourers, and serfs. A similar order of things
appears to have prevailed in Ireland, where, in the classification of
the people, we recognise the several degrees of Fuidir, Biadhtach,
and Mogh. In the Highlands, the first tenure included the three
degrees of Ard Righ, Righ, and Mormaor; the Tighern or Thane, the
Armin and the Squire, were analogous to the three Welsh degrees
included in the Uchilordir; and a class of persons, termed native
men, were evidently the same in circumstances and condition with the
Priodordir of Wales. These native men were obviously the tenants or
farmers on the property, who made a peculiar acknowledgment, termed
_calpe_, to the chief or head of their clan. For this we have the
authority of Martin, who informs us that one of the duties “payable
by all the tenants to their chiefs, though they did not live upon his
lands,” was called “calpich,” and that “there was a standing law for
it,” denominated “calpich law.” The other duty paid by the tenants
was that of _herezeld_, as it was termed, which, along with calpe,
was exigible if the tenant happened to occupy more than the eighth
part of a davoch of land. That such was the peculiar acknowledgment
of chiefship incumbent on the native men, or, in other words, the
clan tribute payable by them in acknowledgment of the power and
in support of the dignity of the chief, appears from the bonds of
amity or _manrent_, in which we find them obliging themselves to pay
“_calpis_ as native men ought and should do to their chief.”

But the native men of Highland properties must be carefully
distinguished from the _cumerlach_, who, like the _kaeth_ of the
Welsh, were merely a species of serfs, or _adscripti glebæ_. The
former could not be removed from the land at the will of their lord,
but there was no restriction laid on their personal liberty; the
latter might be removed at the pleasure of their lord, but their
personal liberty was restrained, or rather abrogated. The native
man was the tenant who cultivated the soil, and as such possessed
a recognised estate in the land which he occupied. As long as he
performed the requisite services he could not be removed, nor could
a greater proportion of labour or produce be exacted from him than
custom or usage had fixed. It appears, therefore, that these
possessed their farms, or holdings, by a sort of hereditary right,
which was not derived from their lord, and of which, springing as it
did from immemorial usage, and the very constitution of clanship,
it was not in his power to deprive them. The _cumerlach_ were the
cottars and actual labourers of the soil, who, possessing no legal
rights either of station or property, were in reality absolute
serfs. The changes of succession, however, occasionally produced
important results, illustrative of the peculiarities above described.
“When a Norman baron,” says Mr Skene, “obtained by succession, or
otherwise, a Highland property, the Gaelic _nativi_ remained in
actual possession of the soil under him, but at the same time paid
their _calpes_ to the natural chief of their clan, and followed him
in war. When a Highland chief, however, acquired by the operation
of the feudal succession, an additional property which had not been
previously in the possession of his clan, he found it possessed by
the _nativi_ of another race. If these _nativi_ belonged to another
clan which still existed in independence, and if they chose to
remain on the property, they did so at the risk of being placed in a
perilous situation, should a feud arise between the two clans. But if
they belonged to no other independent clan, and the stranger chief
had acquired the whole possessions of their race, the custom seems to
have been for them to give a bond of _manrent_ to their new lord, by
which they bound themselves to follow him as their chief, and make
him the customary acknowledgment of the _calpe_. They thus became a
dependent sept upon a clan of a different race, while they were not
considered as forming a part of that clan.”[125]

The gradation of ranks considered in reference to the clan or tribe
may be briefly described. The highest dignitary was the _righ_ or
_king_, who in point of birth and station was originally on a footing
of equality with the other chiefs, and only derived some additional
dignity during his life from a sort of regal pre-eminence. “Among the
ancient Celtæ the prince or king had nothing actually his own, but
everything belonging to his followers was freely at his service;” of
their own accord they gave their prince so many cattle, or a certain
portion of grain. It seems probable that the Celtic chief held the
public lands in trust for his people, and was on his succession
invested with those possessions which he afterwards apportioned
among his retainers. Those only, we are told by Cæsar, had lands,
“magistrates and princes, and they give to their followers as they
think proper, removing them at the year’s end.”[126] The Celtic
nations, according to Dr Macpherson, limited the regal authority to
very narrow bounds. The old monarchs of North Britain and Ireland
were too weak either to control the pride and insolence of the great,
or to restrain the licentiousness of the populace. Many of those
princes, if we credit history, were dethroned, and some of them even
put to death by their subjects, which is a demonstration that their
power was not unlimited.

Next to the king was the _Mormaor_, who seems to have been identical
with the _Tighern_[127] and the later _Thane_. As we have already
indicated, the persons invested with this distinction were the
patriarchal chiefs or heads of the great tribes into which the
Highlanders were formerly divided. But when the line of the ancient
mormaors gradually sank under the ascendant influence of the feudal
system, the clans forming the great tribes became independent, and
their leaders or chiefs were held to represent each the common
ancestor or founder of his clan, and derived all their dignity and
power from the belief in such representation. The chief possessed
his office by right of blood alone, as that right was understood
in the Highlands; neither election nor marriage could constitute
any title to this distinction; it was, as we have already stated,
purely hereditary, nor could it descend to any person except him who,
according to the Highland rule of succession, was the nearest male
heir to the dignity.

Next to the chief stood the _tanist_ or person who, by the laws of
tanistry, was entitled to succeed to the chiefship; he possessed
this title during the lifetime of the chief, and, in virtue of his
apparent honours, was considered as a man of mark and consequence.
“In the settlement of succession, the law of tanistry prevailed in
Ireland from the earliest accounts of time. According to that law,”
says Sir James Ware, “the hereditary right of succession was not
maintained among the princes or the rulers of countries; but the
strongest, or he who had the most followers, very often the eldest
and most worthy of the deceased king’s blood and name, succeeded
him. This person, by the common suffrage of the people, and in the
lifetime of his predecessor, was appointed to succeed, and was called
_Tanist_, that is to say, the second in dignity. Whoever received
this dignity maintained himself and followers, partly out of certain
lands set apart for that purpose, but chiefly out of tributary
impositions, which he exacted in an arbitrary manner; impositions
from which the lands of the church only, and those of persons vested
with particular immunities, were exempted. The same custom was a
fundamental law in Scotland for many ages. Upon the death of a king,
the throne was not generally filled by his son, or daughter, failing
of male issue, but by his brother, uncle, cousin-german, or near
relation of the same blood. The personal merit of the successor,
the regard paid to the memory of his immediate ancestors, or his
address in gaining a majority of the leading men, frequently advanced
him to the crown, notwithstanding the precautions taken by his

According to Mr E. W. Robertson,[129] the _Tanist_, or heir-apparent,
appears to have been nominated at the same time as the monarch or
chief, and in pursuance of what he considers a true Celtic principle,
that of a “divided authority;” the office being immediately filled
up in case of the premature death of the Tanist, the same rule being
as applicable to the chieftain of the smallest territory as to the
chosen leader of the nation. According to Dr Macpherson, it appears
that at first the Tanist or successor to the monarchy, or chiefship,
was elected, but at a very early period the office seems to have
become hereditary, although not in the feudal sense of that term. Mr
Skene has shown that the succession was strictly limited to heirs
male, and that the great peculiarity of the Highland system was that
brothers invariably were preferred to sons. This perhaps arose partly
from an anxiety to avoid minorities “in a nation dependent upon a
competent leader in war.” This principle was frequently exemplified
in the succession to the mormaordoms, and even to the kingly power
itself; it formed one of the pleas put forward by Bruce in his
competition for the crown with Baliol.

After the family of the chief came the _ceantighes_, or heads of the
subordinate houses into which the clan was divided, the most powerful
of whom was the _toisich_, or toshach, who was generally the oldest
cadet. This was a natural consequence of the law of _gavel_, which,
producing a constant subdivision of the chief’s estate, until in
actual extent of property he sometimes came to possess less than
any of the other branches of the family, served in nearly the same
proportion to aggrandise the latter, and hence that branch which
had been longest separated from the original became relatively the
most powerful. The _toshach_, military leader, or captain of the
clan, certainly appears to have been at first elected to his office
among the Celtic nations, as indeed were all the dignitaries who at
a later period among the Highlanders succeeded to their positions
according to fixed laws.[130] As war was the principal occupation of
all the early Celtic nations, the office of _toshach_, or “war-king,”
as Mr Robertson calls him, was one of supreme importance, and gave
the holder of it many opportunities of converting it into one of
permanent kingship although the Celts carefully guarded against
this by enforcing the principle of divided authority among their
chiefs, and thus maintaining the “balance of power.” The _toshach’s_
duties were strictly military, he having nothing to do with the
internal affairs of the tribe or nation, these being regulated
by a magistrate, judge, or _vergobreith_, elected annually, and
invested with regal authority and the power of life and death. It
would appear that the duties of _toshach_ sometimes devolved on the
_tanist_, though this appears to have seldom been the case among
the Highlanders.[131] From a very early time the oldest cadet held
the highest rank in the clan, next to the chief; and when the clan
took the field he occupied, as a matter of right, the principal
post of honour. On the march he headed the van, and in battle took
his station on the right; he was, in fact, the lieutenant-general
of the chief, and when the latter was absent he commanded the whole
clan.[132] Another function exercised by the oldest cadet was that of
_maor_, or steward, the principal business of which officer was to
collect the revenues of the chief; but, after the feudal customs were
introduced, this duty devolved upon the baron-bailie, and the _maor_
consequently discontinued his fiscal labours.

The peculiar position of the _toshach_, with the power and
consequence attached to it, naturally pointed him out as the person
to whom recourse would be had in circumstances of difficulty;
and hence arose an apparent anomaly which has led to no little
misconception and confusion. The difficulty, however, may easily
be cleared by a short explanation. When, through misfortune or
otherwise, the family of the chief had become so reduced that he
could no longer afford to his clan the protection required, and which
formed the correlative obligation on his part to that of fealty and
obedience on theirs, then the clansmen followed the oldest cadet as
the head of the most powerful sept or branch of the clan; and he
thus enjoyed, sometimes for a considerable period, all the dignity,
consequence, and privileges of a chief, without, of course, either
possessing a right, _jure sanguinis_, to that station, or even
acquiring the title of the office which he, _de facto_, exercised. He
was merely a sort of patriarchal regent, who exercised the supreme
power, and enjoyed prerogatives of royalty without the name. While
the system of clanship remained in its original purity, no such
regency, or interregnum, could ever take place. But, in process
of time, many circumstances occurred to render it both expedient
and necessary. In fact, clanship, in its ancient purity, could
scarcely co-exist with the feudal system, which introduced changes
so adverse to its true spirit; and hence, when the territory had
passed, by descent, into the hands of a Lowland baron, or when, by
some unsuccessful opposition to the government, the chief had brought
ruin upon himself and his house, and was no longer in a condition to
maintain his station and afford protection to his clan, the latter
naturally placed themselves under the only head capable of occupying
the position of their chief, and with authority sufficient to command
or enforce obedience. In other words, they sought protection at
the hands of the oldest cadet; and he, on his part, was known by
the name, not of chief, which would have been considered a gross
usurpation, but of _captain_, or leader of the clan. It is clear,
therefore, that this dignity was one which owed its origin to
circumstances, and formed no part of the original system, as has been
generally but erroneously supposed. If an anomaly, it was one imposed
by necessity, and the deviation was confined, as we have seen, within
the narrowest possible limits. It was altogether unknown until a
recent period in the history of the Highlands, and, when it did come
into use, it was principally confined to three clans, namely, Clan
Chattan, Clan Cameron, and Clan Ranald; an undoubted proof that it
was not a regular but an exceptional dignity, that it was a temporary
expedient, not part of a system; and that a captain differed as
essentially from a chief as a regent differs from an hereditary
sovereign. “It is evident,” says Mr Skene, who has the merit of being
the first to trace out this distinction clearly, “that a title,
which was not universal among the Highlanders, must have arisen
from peculiar circumstances connected with those clans in which it
is first found; and when we examine the history of these clans,
there can be little doubt that it was simply a person who had, from
various causes, become _de facto_ head of the clan, while the person
possessing the hereditary right to that dignity remained either in a
subordinate situation, or else for the time disunited from the rest
of the clan.”[133]

Another title known among the ancient Highlanders was that of
_ogtiern_, or _lesser tighern_, or Thane, and was applied either
to the son of a _tighern_, or to those members of the clan whose
kinship to the chief was beyond a certain degree. They appear to
have to a large extent formed the class of _duinewassels_, or
gentry of the clan, intermediate between the chief and the body
of the clan, and known in later times as _tacksmen_ or _goodmen_.
“These, again, had a circle of relations, who considered them as
their immediate leaders, and who in battle were placed under their
immediate command. Over them in peace, these chieftains exercised a
certain authority, but were themselves dependent on the chief, to
whose service all the members of the clan were submissively devoted.
As the _duinewassels_ received their lands from the bounty of the
chief, for the purpose of supporting their station in the tribe, so
these lands were occasionally resumed or reduced to provide for those
who were more immediately related to the laird; hence many of this
class necessarily sank into commoners. This transition strengthened
the feeling which was possessed by the very lowest of the community,
that they were related to the chief, from whom they never forgot
they originally sprang.”[134] The duinewassels were all cadets of
the house of the chief, and each had a pedigree of his own as long,
and perchance as complicated as that of his chief. They were, as
might be expected, the bravest portion of the clan; the first in the
onset, and the last to quit the strife, even when the tide of battle
pressed hardest against them. They cherished a high and chivalrous
sense of honour, ever keenly alive to insult or reproach; and they
were at all times ready to devote themselves to the service of
their chief, when a wrong was to be avenged, an inroad repressed or
punished, or glory reaped by deeds of daring in arms.

Another office which existed among the old Gaelic inhabitants of
Scotland was that of _Brehon_, deemster, or judge, the representative
of the _vergobreith_ previously referred to. Among the continental
Celts this office was elective, but among the Highlanders it appears
to have been hereditary, and by no means held so important, latterly
at least, as it was on the continent. As we referred to this office
in the former part of this work, we shall say nothing farther of it
in this place.

To this general view of the constitution of society in the Highlands,
little remains to be added. The chief, as we have seen, was a sort
of _regulus_, or petty prince, invested with an authority which
was in its nature arbitrary, but which, in its practical exercise,
seems generally to have been comparatively mild and paternal. He was
subjected to no theoretical or constitutional limitations, yet, if
ferocious in disposition, or weak in understanding, he was restrained
or directed by the elders of the tribe, who were his standing
counsellors, and without whose advice no measure of importance
could be decided on. Inviolable custom supplied the deficiency of
law. As his distinction and power consisted chiefly in the number
of his followers, his pride as well as his ambition became a
guarantee for the mildness of his sway; he had a direct and immediate
interest to secure the attachment and devotion of his clan; and his
condescension, while it raised the clansman in his own estimation,
served also to draw closer the ties which bound the latter to his
superior, without tempting him to transgress the limits of propriety.
The Highlander was thus taught to respect himself in the homage
which he paid to his chief. Instead of complaining of the difference
of station and fortune, or considering prompt obedience as slavish
degradation, he felt convinced that he was supporting his own honour
in showing respect to the head of his family, and in yielding a ready
compliance to his will. Hence it was that the Highlanders carried in
their demeanour the politeness of courts without the vices by which
these are too frequently dishonoured, and cherished in their bosoms
a sense of honour without any of its follies or extravagances. This
mutual interchange of condescension and respect served to elevate the
tone of moral feeling amongst the people, and no doubt contributed to
generate that principle of incorruptible fidelity of which there are
on record so many striking and even affecting examples. The sentiment
of honour, and the firmness sufficient to withstand temptation, may
in general be expected in the higher classes of society; but the
voluntary sacrifice of life and fortune is a species of self-devotion
seldom displayed in any community, and never perhaps exemplified to
the same extent in any country as in the Highlands of Scotland.[135]
The punishment of treachery was a kind of conventional outlawry or
banishment from society, a sort of _aquæ et ignis interdictio_ even
more terrible than the punishment inflicted under that denomination,
during the prevalence of the Roman law. It was the judgment of all
against one, the condemnation of society, not that of a tribunal; and
the execution of the sentence was as complete as its ratification was
universal. Persons thus intercommuned were for ever cut off from the
society to which they belonged; they incurred civil death in its most
appalling form, and their names descended with infamy to posterity.
What higher proof could possibly be produced of the noble sentiments
of honour and fidelity cherished by the people, than the simple fact
that the breach of these was visited with such a fearful retribution?

On the other hand, when chiefs proved worthless or oppressive,
they were occasionally deposed, and when they took a side which
was disapproved by the clan, they were abandoned by their people.
Of the former, there are several well authenticated examples, and
General Stewart has mentioned a remarkable instance of the latter.
“In the reign of King William, immediately after the Revolution,
Lord Tullibardine, eldest son of the Marquis of Athole, collected
a numerous body of Athole Highlanders, together with three hundred
Frasers, under the command of Hugh, Lord Lovat, who had married a
daughter of the Marquis. These men believed that they were destined
to support the abdicated king, but were in reality assembled to serve
the government of William. When in front of Blair Castle, their real
destination was disclosed to them by Lord Tullibardine. Instantly
they rushed from their ranks, ran to the adjoining stream of Banovy,
and filling their bonnets with water, drank to the health of King
James; then with colours flying and pipes playing, fifteen hundred
of the men of Athole put themselves under the command of the Laird
of Ballechin, and marched off to join Lord Dundee, whose chivalrous
bravery and heroic exploits had excited their admiration more than
those of any other warrior since the days of Montrose.”

The number of Highland clans has been variously estimated, but it
is probable that when they were in their most flourishing condition
it amounted to about forty. Latterly, by including many undoubtedly
Lowland houses, the number has been increased to about a hundred,
the additions being made chiefly by tartan manufacturers. Mr Skene
has found that the various purely Highland clans can be clearly
classified and traced up as having belonged to one or other of the
great mormaordoms into which the north of Scotland was at one time
divided. In his history of the individual clans, however, this is not
the classification which he adopts, but one in accordance with that
which he finds in the manuscript genealogies. According to these, the
people were originally divided into several great tribes, the clans
forming each of these separate tribes being deduced from a common
ancestor. A marked line of distinction may be drawn between the
different tribes, in each of which indications may be traced serving
more or less, according to Mr Skene, to identify them with the
ancient mormaorships or earldoms.

In the old genealogies each tribe is invariably traced to a common
ancestor, from whom all the different branches or clans are supposed
to have descended. Thus we have--1. _Descendants of Conn of the
Hundred Battles_, including the Lords of the Isles, or Macdonalds,
the Macdougals, the Macneills, the Maclachlans, the Macewens, the
Maclaisrichs, and the Maceacherns; 2. _Descendants of Fearchar
Fada Mac Feradaig_, comprehending the old mormaors of Moray, the
Mackintoshes, the Macphersons, and the Macnauchtans; 3. _Descendants
of Cormac Mac Oirbertaig_, namely, the old Earls of Ross, the
Mackenzies, the Mathiesons, the Macgregors, the Mackinnons, the
Macquarries, the Macnabs, and the Macduffies; 4. _Descendants
of Fergus Leith Dearg_, the Macleods and the Campbells; and 5.
_Descendants of Krycul_, the Macnicols.

Whatever may be the merits or defects of this distribution, it is
convenient for the purpose of classification. It affords the means of
referring the different clans to their respective tribes, and thus
avoiding an arbitrary arrangement; and it is further in accordance
with the general views which have already been submitted to the
reader respecting the original constitution of clanship. We shall
not, however, adhere strictly to Mr Skene’s arrangement.


[114] _Scotland under her Early Kings_, Ap. D.

[115] Gaelic, _clann_; Irish, _clann_, or _cland_; Manx, _cloan_,
children, offspring, tribe.

[116] Robertson’s _Early Kings_, i. 102, 103, 104.

[117] _Highlanders_, i. 16.

[118] _Highlanders_, p. 7, _et. seq._

[119] For details concerning the practical working of the clan
system, in addition to what are given in this introduction, we refer
the reader to chaps. xviii., xlii., xliii., xliv. of Part First.

[120] We are indebted for much of what follows to Skene’s
_Highlanders of Scotland_, vol. i. p. 153, _et seq._

[121] Letter xix., part of which has already been quoted in ch.
xlii., but may with advantage be again introduced here.

[122] _Description of the Western Islands._ London, 1703.

[123] Skene’s _Highlanders of Scotland_, vol. ii. ch. 7.

[124] Skene’s _Highlanders of Scotland_, vol. i. chap. 7, pp. 166,

[125] Skene’s _Highlanders of Scotland_, vol. i. pp. 172, 173.

[126] Logan’s _Scottish Gael_, i. 171.

[127] According to Dr Macpherson, _Tighern_ is derived from two
words, meaning “a man of land.”

[128] _Dissertation_, pp. 165-6.

[129] _Early Kings._

[130] Robertson’s _Early Kings_, i. 24.

[131] Logan’s _Gael_, i. 188.

[132] “_Toisich_,” says Dr Macpherson, “was another title of
honour which obtained among the Scots of the middle ages. Spelman
imagined that this dignity was the same with that of Thane. But the
Highlanders, among whose predecessors the word was once common,
distinguished carefully in their language the _toisich_ from the
_tanistair_ or the _tierna_. When they enumerate the different
classes of their great men, agreeably to the language of former
times, they make use of these three titles, in the same sentence,
with a disjunctive particle between them.” “In Gaelic,” he adds,
“_tus_, _tos_, and _tosich_ signify the _beginning_ or _first part_
of anything, and sometimes the _front_ of an army or battle.” Hence
perhaps the name _toisich_, implying the post of honour which
the oldest cadet always occupied as his peculiar privilege and
distinction. Mr Robertson, however, thinks _toshach_ is derived from
the same root as the Latin _dux_. (_Early Kings_, i. 26.)

[133] Skene’s _Highlanders_, vol. ii. pp. 177, 178. That the captains
of clans were originally the oldest cadets, is placed beyond all
doubt by an instance which Mr Skene has mentioned in the part of
his work here referred to. “The title of captain occurs but once in
the family of the Macdonalds of Slate, and the single occurrence of
this peculiar title is when the clan Houston was led by the uncle of
their chief, then in minority. In 1545, we find Archibald Maconnill,
captain of the clan Houston; and thus, on the only occasion when this
clan followed as a chief a person who had not the right of blood to
that station, he styles himself captain of the clan.”

[134] Logan’s _Gael_, i. 173.

[135] “All who are acquainted with the events of the unhappy
insurrection of 1745, must have heard of a gentleman of the name
of M’Kenzie, who had so remarkable a resemblance to Prince Charles
Stuart, as to give rise to the mistake to which he cheerfully
sacrificed his life, continuing the heroic deception to the last, and
exclaiming with his expiring breath, ‘Villains, you have killed your
Prince.’” (Stewart’s _Sketches_, &c., vol. i. p. 59).


  The Gallgael, or Western Clans--Fiongall and Dubhgall--Lords of the
  Isles--Somerled--Suibne--Gillebride Mac Gille Adomnan--Somerled
  in the West--Defeat and death--His children--Dugall and
  his descendants--Ranald’s three sons, Ruari, Donald,
  Dugall--Roderick--Ranald--The Clan Donald--Origin--Angus Og--His
  son John--His sons Godfrey and Donald--Donald marries Mary, sister
  of Earl of Ross--Battle of Harlaw--Policy of James I.--Alexander
  of the Isles--Donald Balloch--John of the Isles--Angus Og
  declares himself Lord of the Isles--Seizes Earl and Countess
  of Athole--Intrigues with England--Battle of Lagebread--Battle
  of Bloody Bay--Alexander of Lochalsh--Expedition of James
  IV.--Donald _Dubh_--Donald _Galda_--Donald Gorme--Donald _Dubh_
  reappears--Somerled’s descendants fail--The various Island
  Clans--The Chiefship--Lord Macdonald and Macdonald of Clan
  Ranald--Donald Gorme Mor--Feuds with the Macleans and Macleods--Sir
  Donald, fourth Baronet--Sir Alexander’s wife befriends Prince
  Charles--Sir James, eighth Baronet--Sir Alexander, ninth Baronet,
  created a peer of Ireland--Present Lord Macdonald--Macdonalds
  of Islay and Kintyre--Alexander of Islay’s rebellions--Angus
  Macdonald--Feud with Macleans--Sir James imprisoned--His lands
  pass to the Campbells--Macdonalds of Keppoch, or Clanranald
  of Lochaber--Disputes with the Mackintoshes--The Macdonalds
  at Culloden--Clanranald Macdonalds of Garmoran and their
  offshoots--Battle of Kinloch-lochy or Blar-nan-leine--Macdonalds
  of Benbecula, Boisdale, Kinlochmoidart, Glenaladale--Marshal
  Macdonald, Duke of Tarentum--Macdonalds of Glencoe--Macdonnells
  of Glengarry--Feud between the Glengarry Macdonalds and Mackenzie
  of Kintail--General Sir James Macdonnell--Colonel Alexander
  Ranaldson Macdonnell, last specimen of a Highland Chief--Families
  descended from the Macdonnells of Glengarry--Strength of the
  Macdonalds--Characteristic in the arms of the Coast-Gael.

The clans that come first in order in Mr Skene’s classification are
those whose progenitor is said by the genealogists to have been the
fabulous Irish King Conn “of the hundred battles.” They are mostly
all located in the Western Islands and Highlands, and are said by Mr
Skene to have been descended from the _Gallgael_, or Gaelic pirates
or rovers, who are said to have been so called to distinguish them
from the Norwegian and Danish _Fingall_ and _Dugall_, or white and
black strangers or rovers. Mr Skene advocates strongly the unmixed
Gaelic descent of these clans, as indeed he does of almost all the
other clans. He endeavours to maintain that the whole of these
western clans are of purely Pictish descent, not being mixed with
even that of the Dalriadic Scots. We are inclined, however, to agree
with Mr Smibert in thinking that the founders of these clans were to
a large extent of Irish extraction, though clearly distinguishable
from the primitive or Dalriadic Scots, and that from the time of
the Scottish conquest they formed intimate relationships with the
Northern Picts. “From whatever race,” to quote the judicious remarks
of Mr Gregory, “whether Pictish or Scottish, the inhabitants of the
Isles, in the reign of Kenneth MacAlpin, were derived, it is clear
that the settlements and wars of the Scandinavians in the Hebrides,
from the time of Harald Harfager to that of Olave the Red, a period
of upwards of two centuries, must have produced a very considerable
change in the population. As in all cases of conquest, this change
must have been most perceptible in the higher ranks, owing to the
natural tendency of invaders to secure their new possessions, where
practicable, by matrimonial alliances with the natives. That in the
Hebrides a mixture of the Celtic and Scandinavian blood was thus
effected at an early period seems highly probable, and by no means
inconsistent with the ultimate prevalence of the Celtic language
in the mixed race, as all history sufficiently demonstrates. These
remarks regarding the population of the Isles apply equally to that
of the adjacent mainland districts, which, being so accessible by
numerous arms of the sea, could hardly be expected to preserve the
blood of their inhabitants unmixed. The extent to which this mixture
was carried is a more difficult question, and one which must be left
in a great measure to conjecture; but, on the whole, the Celtic
race appears to have predominated. It is of more importance to know
which of the Scandinavian tribes it was that infused the greatest
portion of northern blood into the population of the Isles. The
Irish annalists divide the piratical bands, which, in the ninth and
following centuries infested Ireland, into two great tribes, styled
by these writers _Fiongall_, or white foreigners, and _Dubhgall_, or
black foreigners. These are believed to represent, the former the
Norwegians, the latter the Danes; and the distinction in the names
given to them is supposed to have arisen from a diversity, either in
their clothing or in the sails of their vessels. These tribes had
generally separate leaders; but they were occasionally united under
one king; and although both bent first on ravaging the Irish shores,
and afterwards on seizing portions of the Irish territories, they
frequently turned their arms against each other. The Gaelic title
of _Righ Fhiongall_, or King of the Fiongall, so frequently applied
to the Lords of the Isles, seems to prove that Olave the Red, from
whom they were descended in the female line, was so styled, and that,
consequently, his subjects in the Isles, in so far as they were not
Celtic, were Fiongall or Norwegians. It has been remarked by one
writer, whose opinion is entitled to weight,[136] that the names of
places in the exterior Hebrides, or the Long Island, derived from
the Scandinavian tongue, resemble the names of places in Orkney,
Shetland, and Caithness. On the other hand, the corresponding names
in the interior Hebrides are in a different dialect, resembling that
of which the traces are to be found in the topography of Sutherland;
and appear to have been imposed at a later period than the first
mentioned names. The probability is, however, that the difference
alluded to is not greater than might be expected in the language of
two branches of the same race, after a certain interval; and that the
Scandinavian population of the Hebrides was, therefore, derived from
two successive Norwegian colonies. This view is further confirmed by
the fact that the Hebrides, although long subject to Norway, do not
appear to have ever formed part of the possessions of the Danes.”[137]

As by far the most important, and at one time most extensive and
powerful, of these western clans, is that of the Macdonalds, and as
this, as well as many other clans, according to some authorities, can
clearly trace their ancestry back to Somerled, the progenitor of the
once powerful Lords of the Isles, it may not be out of place to give
here a short summary of the history of these magnates.

The origin of Somerled, the undoubted founder of the noble race
of the Island Lords, is, according to Mr Gregory, involved in
considerable obscurity. Assuming that the clan governed by Somerled
formed part of the great tribe of Gallgael, it follows that the
independent kings of the latter must in all probability have been
his ancestors, and should therefore be found in the old genealogies
of his family. But this scarcely appears to be the case. The last
king of the Gallgael was Suibne, the son of Kenneth, who died in the
year 1034; and, according to the manuscript of 1450, an ancestor of
Somerled, contemporary with this petty monarch, bore the same name,
from which it may be presumed that the person referred to in the
genealogy and the manuscript is one and the same individual. The
latter, however, calls Suibne’s father Nialgusa; and in the genealogy
there is no mention whatever of a Kenneth. But from the old Scottish
writers we learn that at this time there was a Kenneth, whom they
call Thane of the Isles, and that one of the northern mormaors also
bore the same name, although it is not very easy to say what precise
claim either had to be considered as the father of Suibne. There is
also a further discrepancy observable in the earlier part of the
Macdonald genealogies, as compared with the manuscript; and besides,
the latter, without making any mention of these supposed kings,
deviates into the misty region of Irish heroic fable and romance.
At this point, indeed, there is a complete divergence, if not
contrariety, between the history as contained in the Irish Annals,
and the genealogy developed in the manuscript; for, whilst the latter
mentions the Gallgael under their leaders as far back as the year
856, the former connect Suibne, by a different genealogy, with the
kings of Ireland. The fables of the Highland and Irish Sennachies
now became connected with the genuine history. The real descent of
the chiefs was obscured or perplexed by the Irish genealogies, and
previously to the eleventh century neither these genealogies nor even
that of the manuscript of 1450 can be considered as of any authority
whatsoever. It seems somewhat rash, however, to conclude, as Mr Skene
has done, that the Siol-Cuinn, or descendants of Conn, were of native
origin. This exceeds the warrant of the premises, which merely carry
the difficulty a few removes backwards into the obscurity of time,
and there leave the question in greater darkness than ever.

From the death of Suibne till the accession of Gillebride Mac Gille
Adomnan, the father of Somerled, nothing whatever is known of the
history of the clan. The latter, having been expelled from his
possessions by the Lochlans and the Fingalls, took refuge in Ireland,
where he persuaded the descendants of Colla to espouse his quarrel
and assist him in an attempt to recover his possessions. Accordingly,
four or five hundred persons put themselves under his command, and
at their head he returned to Alban, where he effected a landing; but
the expedition, it would seem, proved unsuccessful. Somerled, the
son of Gillebride, was, however, a man of a very different stamp. At
first he lived retired, musing in solitude upon the ruined fortunes
of his house. But when the time for action arrived, he boldly put
himself at the head of the inhabitants of Morven; attacked the
Norwegians, whom, after a considerable struggle, he expelled; made
himself master of the whole of Morven, Lochaber, and northern Argyle;
and not long afterwards added to his other possessions the southern
districts of that country. In the year 1135, when David I. expelled
the Norwegians from Man, Arran, and Bute, Somerled appears to have
obtained a grant of those Islands from the king. But finding himself
still unable to contend with the Norwegians of the Isles, whose power
remained unbroken, he resolved to recover by policy what he despaired
of acquiring by force of arms; and, with this view, he succeeded in
obtaining (about 1140) the hand of Ragnhildis, the daughter of Olaf,
surnamed the Red, who was then the Norwegian king of the Isles. This
lady brought him three sons, namely, Dugall, Reginald, and Angus;
and, by a previous marriage, he had one named Gillecallum.

The prosperous fortunes of Somerled at length inflamed his ambition.
He had already attained to great power in the Highlands, and success
inspired him with the desire of extending it. His grandsons having
formerly claimed the earldom of Moray, their pretensions were now
renewed, and this was followed by an attempt to put them in actual
possession of their alleged inheritance. The attempt, however,
failed. It had brought the _regulus_ of Argyll into open rebellion
against the king, and the war appears to have excited great alarm
amongst the inhabitants of Scotland; but Somerled, having encountered
a more vigorous opposition than he had anticipated, found it
necessary to return to the Isles, where the tyrannical conduct of
his brother-in-law, Godred, had irritated his vassals and thrown
everything into confusion. His presence gave confidence to the party
opposed to the tyrant, and Thorfinn, one of the most powerful of the
Norwegian nobles, resolved to depose Godred, and place another prince
on the throne of the Isles. Somerled readily entered into the views
of Thorfinn, and it was arranged that Dugall, the eldest son of the
former, should occupy the throne from which his maternal uncle was
to be displaced. But the result of the projected deposition did not
answer the expectations of either party. Dugall was committed to the
care of Thorfinn, who undertook to conduct him through the Isles,
and compel the chiefs not only to acknowledge him as their sovereign,
but also to give hostages for their fidelity and allegiance. The Lord
of Skye, however, refused to comply with this demand, and, having
fled to the Isle of Man, apprised Godred of the intended revolution.
Somerled followed with eight galleys; and Godred having commanded his
ships to be got ready, a bloody but indecisive battle ensued. It was
fought on the night of the Epiphany; and as neither party prevailed,
the rival chiefs next morning entered into a sort of compromise or
convention, by which the sovereignty of the Isles was divided, and
two distinct principalities established. By this treaty Somerled
acquired all the islands lying to the southward of the promontory
of Ardnamurchan, whilst these to the northward remained in the
possession of Godred.

But no sooner had he made this acquisition than he became involved
in hostilities with the government. Having joined the powerful party
in Scotland, which had resolved to depose Malcolm IV., and place
the boy of Egremont on the throne, he began to infest various parts
of the coast, and for some time carried on a vexatious predatory
warfare. The project, however, failed; and Malcolm, convinced
that the existence of an independent chief was incompatible with
the interests of his government and the maintenance of public
tranquillity, required of Somerled to resign his lands into the
hands of the sovereign, and to hold them in future as a vassal of
the crown. Somerled, however, was little disposed to comply with
this demand, although the king was now preparing to enforce it by
means of a powerful army. Emboldened by his previous successes, he
resolved to anticipate the attack, and having appeared in the Clyde
with a considerable force, he landed at Renfrew, where being met by
the royal army under the command of the High Steward of Scotland,
a battle ensued which ended in his defeat and death (1164). This
celebrated chief has been traditionally described as “a well-tempered
man, in body shapely, of a fair piercing eye, of middle stature, and
of quick discernment.” He appears, indeed, to have been equally brave
and sagacious, tempering courage with prudence, and, excepting in
the last act of his life, distinguished for the happy talent, rare
at any period, of profiting by circumstances, and making the most of
success. In the battle of Renfrew his son Gillecallum perished by
his side. Tradition says that Gillecallum left a son Somerled, who
succeeded to his grandfather’s possessions in the mainland, which
he held for upwards of half a century after the latter’s death. The
existence of this second Somerled, however, seems very doubtful
although Mr Gregory believes that, besides the three sons of his
marriage with Olave the Red, Somerled had other sons, who seem to
have shared with their brothers, according to the then prevalent
custom of gavelkind, the mainland possessions held by the Lord of
Argyle; whilst the sons descended of the House of Moray divided
amongst them the South Isles ceded by Godred in 1156. Dugall, the
eldest of these, got for his share, Mull, Coll, Tiree, and Jura;
Reginald, the second son, obtained Isla and Kintyre; and Angus, the
third son, Bute. Arran is supposed to have been divided between the
two latter. The Chronicle of Man mentions a battle, in 1192, between
Reginald and Angus, in which the latter obtained the victory. He was
killed, in 1210, with his three sons, by the men of Skye, leaving
no male issue. One of his sons, James, left a daughter and heiress,
Jane, afterwards married to Alexander, son and heir of Walter, High
Steward of Scotland, who, in her right, claimed the isle of Bute.

Dugall, the eldest son of his father by the second marriage, seems to
have possessed not only a share of the Isles, but also the district
of Lorn, which had been allotted as his share of the territories
belonging to his ancestors. On his death, however, the Isles, instead
of descending immediately to his children, were acquired by his
brother Reginald, who in consequence assumed the title of King of
the Isles; but, by the same law of succession, the death of Reginald
restored to his nephews the inheritance of their father. Dugall
left two sons, Dugall Scrag and Duncan, who appear in the northern
Sagas, under the title of the Sudereyan Kings. They appear to have
acknowledged, at least nominally, the authority of the Norwegian
king of the Hebrides; but actually they maintained an almost entire
independence. Haco, the king of Norway, therefore came to the
determination of reducing them to obedience and subjection, a design
in which he proved completely successful. In a night attack the
Norwegians defeated the Sudereyans, and took Dugall prisoner.

Duncan was now the only member of his family who retained any power
in the Sudereys; but nothing is known of his subsequent history
except that he founded the priory of Ardchattan, in Lorn. He was
succeeded by his son Ewen, who appears to have remained more faithful
to the Norwegian kings than his predecessors had shown themselves;
for, when solicited by Alexander II. to join him in an attempt he
meditated to obtain possession of the Western Isles, Ewen resisted
all the promises and entreaties of the king, and on this occasion
preserved inviolate his allegiance to Haco. Alexander, it is well
known, died in Kerreray (1249), when about to commence an attack
upon the Isles, and was succeeded by his son Alexander III. When
the latter had attained majority, he resolved to renew the attempt
which his father had begun, and with this view excited the Earl of
Ross, whose possessions extended along the mainland opposite to
the Northern Isles, to commence hostilities against them. The earl
willingly engaged in the enterprise, and having landed in Skye,
ravaged the country, burned churches and villages, and put to death
numbers of the inhabitants without distinction of age or sex. Haco
soon appeared with a Norwegian force, and was joined by most of the
Highland chiefs. But Ewen having altered his views, excused himself
from taking any part against the force sent by the Scottish king;
and the unfortunate termination of Haco’s expedition justified the
prudence of this timely change. In the year 1263 the Norwegians were
completely defeated by the Scots at the battle of Largs; and the
Isles were, in consequence of this event, finally ceded to the kings
of Scotland. This event, however, rather increased than diminished
the power of Ewen, who profited by his seasonable defection from
the Norwegians, and was favoured by the government to which that
defection had been useful. But he died without any male issue to
succeed him, leaving only two daughters, one of whom married the
Norwegian king of Man, and the other, Alexander of the Isles, a
descendant of Reginald.

The conquest and partition of Argyle by Alexander II., and the
subsequent annexation of the Western Islands to the kingdom of
Scotland, under the reign of his successor, annihilated the power of
the race of Conn as an independent tribe; and, from the failure of
the male descendants of Dugall in the person of Ewen, had the effect
of dividing the clan into three distinct branches, the heads of which
held their lands of the crown. These were the clan Ruari or Rory, the
clan Donald, and the clan Dugall, so called from three sons of Ranald
or Reginald, the son of Somerled by Ragnhildis, daughter of Olave.

Of this Ranald or Reginald, but little comparatively is known.
According to the Highland custom of gavel, Somerled’s property was
divided amongst all his sons; and in this division the portion which
fell to the share of Reginald appears to have consisted of the
island of Islay, with Kintyre, and part of Lorn on the mainland.
Contemporary with Reginald there was a Norwegian king of Man and the
Isles, who, being called by the same name, is liable to be confounded
with the head of the Siol Conn. Reginald, after the death of his
brother Dugall, was designated as Lord, and sometimes even as King,
of the Isles;[138] and he had likewise the title of Lord of Argyle
and Kintyre, in which last capacity he granted certain lands to an
abbey that had been founded by himself at Saddel in Kintyre. But
these titles did not descend to his children. He was succeeded by
his eldest son Roderick,[139] who, on the conquest of Argyle, agreed
to hold his lands of Rory, or the crown, and afterwards was commonly
styled Lord of Kintyre. In this Roderick the blood of the Norwegian
rovers seems to have revived in all its pristine purity. Preferring
“the good old way, the simple plan” to more peaceful and honest
pursuits, he became one of the most noted pirates of his day, and
the annals of the period are filled with accounts of his predatory
expeditions. But his sons, Dugall and Allan, had the grace not to
follow the vocation of their father, for which they do not seem to
have evinced any predilection. Dugall having given important aid
to Haco in his expedition against the Western Isles, obtained in
consequence a considerable increase of territory, and died without
descendants. Allan succeeded to the possessions of this branch of the
race of Conn, and, upon the annexation of the Isles to the crown of
Scotland, transferred his allegiance to Alexander III., along with
the other chiefs of the Hebrides.[140]

Allan left one son, Roderick, of whom almost nothing is known,
except that he was not considered as legitimate by the feudal law,
and in consequence was succeeded in his lordship of Garmoran by
his daughter Christina. Yet the custom or law of the Highlands,
according to which his legitimacy could ‘moult no feather,’ had
still sufficient force amongst the people to induce the daughter to
legalise her father’s possession of the lands by a formal resignation
and reconveyance; a circumstance which shows how deeply it had
taken root in the habits and the opinions of the people. Roderick,
however, incurred the penalty of forfeiture during the reign of
Robert Bruce, “probably,” as Mr Skene thinks, “from some connection
with the Soulis conspiracy of 1320;” but his lands were restored to
his son Ranald by David II. Ranald, however, did not long enjoy his
extensive possessions. Holding of the Earl of Ross some lands in
North Argyle, he unhappily became embroiled with that powerful chief,
and a bitter feud, engendered by proximity, arose between them. In
that age the spirit of hostility seldom remained long inactive. In
1346, David II. having summoned the barons of Scotland to meet him
at Perth, Ranald, like the others, obeyed the call, and having made
his appearance, attended by a considerable body of men, took up his
quarters at the monastery of Elcho, a few miles distant from the
Fair City. To the Earl of Ross, who was also with the army, this
seemed a favourable opportunity for revenging himself on his enemy;
and accordingly having surprised and entered the monastery in the
middle of the night, he slew Ranald and seven of his followers. By
the death of Ranald, the male descendants of Roderick became extinct;
and John of the Isles, the chief of the Clan Donald, who had married
Amy, the only sister of Ranald, now claimed the succession to that


[Illustration: BADGE.--Heath.]

The Clan Donald derive their origin from a son of Reginald, who
appears to have inherited South Kintyre, and the island of Islay;
but little is known of their history until the annexation of the
Isles to the crown in the year 1266. According to Highland tradition,
Donald made a pilgrimage to Rome to do penance, and obtain absolution
for the various enormities of his former life; and, on his return,
evinced his gratitude and piety by making grants of land to the
monastery of Saddel, and other religious houses in Scotland. He was
succeeded by his son, Angus Mor, who, on the arrival of Haco with
his fleet, immediately joined the Norwegian king, and assisted him
during the whole of the expedition; yet, when a treaty of peace was
afterwards concluded between the kings of Norway and Scotland, he
does not appear to have suffered in consequence of the part which
he took in that enterprise. In the year 1284 he appeared at the
convention, by which the Maid of Norway was declared heiress of the
crown, and obtained as the price of his support on that occasion
a grant of Ardnamurchan, a part of the earldom of Garmoran,[141]
and the confirmation of his father’s and grandfather’s grants to
the monastery of Saddel. Angus left two sons, Alexander and Angus
Og (_i.e._, the younger). Alexander, by a marriage with one of the
daughters of Ewen of Ergadia, acquired a considerable addition to his
possessions; but having joined the Lord of Lorn in his opposition
to the claims of Robert Bruce, he became involved in the ruin of
that chief; and being obliged to surrender to the king, he was
imprisoned in Dundonald Castle, where he died. His whole possessions
were forfeited, and given to his brother, Angus Og, who, having
attached himself to the party of Bruce, and remained faithful in
the hour of adversity, now received the reward of his fidelity and
devotion. Angus assisted in the attack upon Carrick, when the king
recovered “his father’s hall;” and he was present at Bannockburn,
where, at the head of his clan, he formed the reserve, and did battle
“stalwart and stout,” on that never-to-be-forgotten day. Bruce,
having at length reaped the reward of all his toils and dangers, and
secured the independence of Scotland, was not unmindful of those
who had participated in the struggle thus victoriously consummated.
Accordingly, he bestowed upon Angus the lordship of Lochaber, which
had belonged to the Comyns, together with the lands of Durrour and
Glencoe, and the islands of Mull, Tyree, &c., which had formed
part of the possessions of the family of Lorn. Prudence might have
restrained the royal bounty. The family of the Isles were already
too powerful for subjects; but the king, secure of the attachment
and fidelity of Angus, contented himself with making the permission
to erect a castle or fort at Tarbet in Kintyre, a condition of the
grants which he had made. This distinguished chief died early in the
fourteenth century, leaving two sons, John his successor, and John
Og, the ancestor of the Macdonalds of Glencoe.

[Illustration: MACDONALD. (Tartan)]

Angus, as we have already seen, had all his life been a steady friend
to the crown, and had profited by his fidelity. But his son John
does not seem to have inherited the loyalty along with the power,
dignities, and possessions of his father. Having had some dispute
with the Regent concerning certain lands which had been granted by
Bruce, he joined the party of Edward Baliol and the English king;
and, by a formal treaty concluded on the 12th of December 1335, and
confirmed by Edward III. on the 5th October 1336, engaged to support
the pretensions of the former, in consideration of a grant of the
lands and islands claimed by the Earl of Moray, besides certain
other advantages. But all the intrigues of Edward were baffled;
Scotland was entirely freed from the dominion of the English; and,
in the year 1341, David II. was recalled from France to assume the
undisputed sovereignty of his native country. Upon his accession to
the throne, David, anxious to attach to his party the most powerful
of the Scottish barons, concluded a treaty with John of the Isles,
who, in consequence, pledged himself to support his government. But
a circumstance soon afterwards occurred which threw him once more
into the interest of Baliol and the English party. In 1346, Ranald
of the Isles having been slain at Perth by the Earl of Ross, as
already mentioned, John, who had married his sister Amy, immediately
laid claim to the succession. The government, however, unwilling
to aggrandise a chief already too powerful, determined to oppose
indirectly his pretensions, and evade the recognition of his claim.
It is unnecessary to detail the pretexts employed, or the obstacles
which were raised by the government. Their effect was to restore to
the party of Baliol one of its most powerful adherents, and to enable
John in the meanwhile to concentrate in his own person nearly all the
possessions of his ancestor Somerled.

But ere long a most remarkable change took place in the character
and position of the different parties or factions, which at that
time divided Scotland. The king of Scotland now appeared in the
extraordinary and unnatural character of a mere tool or partisan of
Edward, and even seconded covertly the endeavours of the English
king to overturn the independence of Scotland. Its effect was to
throw into active opposition the party which had hitherto supported
the throne and the cause of independence; and, on the other hand,
to secure to the enemies of both the favour and countenance of the
king. But as soon as by this interchange the English party became
identified with the royal faction, John of the Isles abandoned it,
and formed a connection with that party to which he had for many
years been openly opposed. At the head of the national party was the
Steward of Scotland, who, being desirous of strengthening himself
by alliances with the more powerful barons, hailed the accession of
John to his interests as an extraordinary piece of good fortune,
and cemented their union by giving to the Lord of the Isles his
own daughter in marriage. The real aim of this policy was not for
a moment misunderstood; but any open manifestation of force was
at first cautiously avoided. At length, in 1366, when the heavy
burdens imposed upon the people to raise the ransom of the king had
produced general discontent, and David’s jealousy of the Steward had
displayed itself by throwing into prison the acknowledged successor
to the throne, the northern barons broke out into open rebellion, and
refused either to pay the tax imposed, or to obey the king’s summons
to attend the parliament.

In this state matters remained for some time, when David applied
to the Steward, as the only person capable of restoring peace to
the country, and, at the same time, commissioned him to put down
the rebellion. The latter, satisfied that his objects would be more
effectually forwarded by steady opposition to the court than by
avowedly taking part with the insurgents, accepted the commission,
and employed every means in his power to reduce the refractory barons
to obedience. His efforts, however, were only partially successful.
The Earls of Mar and Ross, and other northern barons, whose object
was now attained, at once laid down their arms; John of Lorn and
Gillespie Campbell likewise gave in their submission; but the Lord
of the Isles, secure in the distance and inaccessible nature of his
territories, refused to yield, and, in fact, set the royal power
at defiance. The course of events, however, soon enabled David to
bring this refractory subject to terms. Edward, finding that France
required his undivided attention, was not in a condition to prosecute
his ambitious projects against Scotland; a peace was accordingly
concluded between the rival countries; and David thus found himself
at liberty to turn his whole force against the Isles. With this view
he commanded the attendance of the Steward and other barons of the
realm, and resolved to proceed in person against the rebels. But
the Steward, perceiving that the continuance of the rebellion might
prove fatal to his party, prevailed with his son-in-law to meet the
king at Inverness, where an agreement was entered into, by which the
Lord of the Isles not only engaged to submit to the royal authority,
and pay his share of all public burdens, but further promised to put
down all others who should attempt to resist either; and, besides
his own oath, he gave hostages to the king for the fulfilment of
this obligation. The accession of Robert Steward or Stewart to the
throne of Scotland, which took place in 1371, shortly after this act
of submission, brought the Lord of the Isles into close connection
with the court; and during the whole of this reign he remained in as
perfect tranquillity, and gave as loyal support to the government as
his father Angus had done under that of King Robert Bruce.[142] In
those barbarous and unsettled times, the government was not always
in a condition to reduce its refractory vassals by force; and, from
the frequent changes and revolutions to which it was exposed, joined
to its general weakness, the penalty of forfeiture was but little
dreaded. Its true policy, therefore, was to endeavour to bind to its
interests, by the ties of friendship and alliance, those turbulent
chiefs whom it was always difficult and often impossible to reduce to
obedience by the means commonly employed for that purpose.

The advice which King Robert Bruce had left for the guidance of
his successors, in regard to the Lords of the Isles, was certainly
dictated by sound political wisdom. He foresaw the danger which
would result to the crown were the extensive territories and
consequent influence of these insular chiefs ever again to be
concentrated in the person of one individual; and he earnestly
recommended to those who should come after him never, under any
circumstances, to permit or to sanction such aggrandisement.
But, in the present instance, the claims of John were too great
to be overlooked; and though Robert Stewart could scarcely have
been insensible of the eventual danger which might result from
disregarding the admonition of Bruce, yet he had not been more than
a year on the throne when he granted to his son-in-law a feudal
title to all those lands which had formerly belonged to Ranald the
son of Roderick, and thus conferred on him a boon which had often
been demanded in vain by his predecessors. King Robert, however,
since he could not with propriety obstruct the accumulation of so
much property in one house, attempted to sow the seeds of future
discord by bringing about a division of the property amongst the
different branches of the family. With this view he persuaded John,
who had been twice married, not only to gavel the lands amongst his
offspring, which was the usual practice of his family, but also to
render the children of both marriages feudally independent of one
another. Accordingly King Robert, in the third year of his reign,
confirmed a charter granted by John to Reginald, the second son of
the first marriage, by which the lands of Garmoran, forming the dowry
of Reginald’s mother, were to be held of John’s heirs; that is, of
the descendants of the eldest son of the first marriage, who would,
of course, succeed to all his possessions that had not been feudally
destined or devised to other parties. Nor was this all. A short time
afterwards John resigned into the king’s hands nearly the whole of
the western portion of his territories, and received from Robert
charters of these lands in favour of himself and the issue of his
marriage with the king’s daughter; so that the children of the second
marriage were rendered feudally independent of those of the first,
and the seeds of future discord and contention effectually sown
between them. After this period little is known of the history of
John, who is supposed to have died about the year 1380.

During the remainder of this king’s reign, and the greater part
of that of his successor, Robert III., no collision seems to have
taken place between the insular chiefs and the general government;
and hence little or nothing is known of their proceedings. But when
the dissensions of the Scottish barons, occasioned by the marriage
of the Duke of Rothesay, and the subsequent departure of the Earl
of March to the English court, led to a renewal of the wars between
the two countries, and the invasion of Scotland by an English army,
the insular chiefs appear to have renewed their intercourse with
England; being more swayed by considerations of interest or policy,
than by the ties of relationship to the royal family of Scotland. At
this time the clan was divided into two branches, the heads of which
seemed to have possessed co-ordinate rank and authority. Godfrey, the
eldest surviving son of the first marriage, ruled on the mainland, as
lord of Garmoran and Lochaber; Donald, the eldest son of the second
marriage, held a considerable territory of the crown, then known
as the feudal lordship of the Isles; whilst the younger brothers,
having received the provisions usually allotted by the law of gavel,
held these as vassals either of Godfrey or of Donald. This temporary
equipoise was, however, soon disturbed by the marriage of Donald
with Mary, the sister of Alexander Earl of Ross, in consequence
of which alliance he ultimately succeeded in obtaining possession
of the earldom. Euphemia, only child of Alexander, Earl of Ross,
entered a convent and became a nun, having previously committed the
charge of the earldom to her grandfather, Albany. Donald, however,
lost no time in preferring his claim to the succession in right of
his wife, the consequences of which have already been narrated in
detail.[143] Donald, with a considerable force, invaded Ross, and
met with little or no resistance from the people till he reached
Dingwall, where he was encountered by Angus Dhu Mackay, at the head
of a considerable body of men from Sutherland, whom, after a fierce
conflict, he completely defeated and made their leader prisoner.
Leaving the district of Ross, which now acknowledged his authority,
he advanced at the head of his army, through Moray, and penetrated
into Aberdeenshire. Here, however, a decisive check awaited him.
On the 24th of July, 1411, he was met at the village of Harlaw by
the Earl of Mar, at the head of an army inferior in numbers, but
composed of better materials; and a battle ensued, upon the event
of which seemed to depend the decision of the question, whether the
Celtic or the Sassenach part of the population of Scotland were in
future to possess the supremacy. The immediate issue of the conflict
was doubtful, and, as is usual in such cases, both parties claimed
the victory. But the superior numbers and irregular valour of the
Highland followers of Donald had received a severe check from the
steady discipline and more effective arms of the Lowland gentry; they
had been too roughly handled to think of renewing the combat, for
which their opponents seem to have been quite prepared; and, as in
such circumstances a drawn battle was equivalent to a defeat, Donald
was compelled, as the Americans say, “to advance backwards.” The
Duke of Albany, having obtained reinforcements, marched in person
to Dingwall; but Donald, having no desire to try again the fate of
arms, retired with his followers to the Isles, leaving Albany in
possession of the whole of Ross, where he remained during the winter.
Next summer the war was renewed, and carried on with various success,
until at length the insular chief found it necessary to come to terms
with the duke, and a treaty was concluded by which Donald agreed to
abandon his claim to the earldom of Ross, and to become a vassal of
the crown of Scotland.

The vigour of Albany restored peace to the kingdom, and the remainder
of his regency was not disturbed by any hostile attempt upon the
part of Donald of the Isles. But when the revenge of James I. had
consummated the ruin of the family of Albany, Alexander, the son of
Donald, succeeded, without any opposition, to the earldom of Ross,
and thus realised one grand object of his father’s ambition. At
almost any other period the acquisition of such extensive territories
would have given a decided and dangerous preponderance to the
family of the Isles. The government of Scotland, however, was then
in the hands of a man who, by his ability, energy, and courage,
proved himself fully competent to control his turbulent nobles, and,
if necessary, to destroy their power and influence. Distrustful,
however, of his ability to reduce the northern barons to obedience
by force of arms, he had recourse to stratagem; and having summoned
them to attend a parliament at Inverness, whither he proceeded,
attended by his principal nobility and a considerable body of troops,
he there caused forty of them to be arrested as soon as they made
their appearance. Alexander, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, his
mother the Countess of Ross, and Alexander MacGodfrey, of Garmoran,
were amongst the number of those arrested on this occasion. Along
with several others, MacGodfrey was immediately executed, and his
whole possessions forfeited to the crown, and the remainder were
detained in captivity. By this bold stroke, James conceived that
he had effectually subdued the Highland chiefs; and, under this
impression, he soon afterwards liberated Alexander of the Isles. But
he seems to have forgotten that “vows made in pain,” or at least in
durance, “are violent and void.” The submission of the captive was
merely feigned. As soon as he had recovered his liberty, the Lord
of the Isles flew to arms, with what disastrous results to himself
has already been told.[144] So vigorously did the king’s officers
follow up the victory, that the insular chief, finding concealment
or escape equally impossible, was compelled to throw himself upon
the royal clemency. He went to Edinburgh, and, on the occasion of
a solemn festival celebrated in the chapel of Holyrood, on Easter
Sunday 1429, the unfortunate chief, whose ancestors had treated with
the crown on the footing of independent princes, appeared before the
assembled court in his shirt and drawers, and implored on his knees,
with a naked sword held by the point in his hand, the forgiveness
of his offended monarch. Satisfied with this extraordinary act of
humiliation, James granted the suppliant his life, and directed him
to be forthwith imprisoned in Tantallon castle.

The spirit of clanship could not brook such a mortal affront. The cry
for vengeance was raised; the strength of the clan was mustered; and
Alexander had scarcely been two years in captivity when the Isles
once more broke out into open insurrection. Under the command of
Donald Balloch, the cousin of Alexander and chief of clan Ranald,
the Islanders burst into Lochaber, where, having encountered an army
which had been stationed in that country for the purpose of overawing
the Highlanders, they gained a complete victory. The king’s troops
were commanded by the Earls of Mar and Caithness, the latter of whom
fell in the action, whilst the former saved with difficulty the
remains of the discomfited force. Donald Balloch, however, did not
follow up his victory, but having ravaged the adjacent districts,
withdrew first to the Isles, and afterwards to Ireland. In this
emergency James displayed his usual energy and activity. To repair
the reverse sustained by his lieutenants, he proceeded in person to
the North; his expedition was attended with complete success; and he
soon received the submission of all the chiefs who had been engaged
in the rebellion. Not long afterwards he was presented with what was
believed to be the head of Donald Balloch; “but,” says Mr Gregory,
“as Donald Balloch certainly survived king James many years, it is
obvious that the sending of the head to Edinburgh was a stratagem
devised by the crafty islander, in order to check further pursuit.”
The king, being thus successful, listened to the voice of clemency.
He restored to liberty the prisoner of Tantallon, granted him a free
pardon for his various acts of rebellion, confirmed to him all his
titles and possessions, and further conferred upon him the lordship
of Lochaber, which, on its forfeiture, had been given to the Earl of
Mar. The wisdom of this proceeding soon became apparent. Alexander
could scarcely forget the humiliation he had undergone, and the
imprisonment he had endured; and, in point of fact, he appears to
have joined the Earls of Crawford and Douglas, who at that time
headed the opposition to the court; but during the remainder of
his life the peace of the country was not again disturbed by any
rebellious proceedings on his part, and thus far the king reaped the
reward of his clemency. Alexander died about 1447, leaving three
sons, John, Hugh, and Celestine.

The opposition of Crawford, Douglas, and their associates had
hitherto been chronic; but, on the death of Alexander, it broke
out into active insurrection; and the new Lord of the Isles, as
determined an opponent of the royal party as his father had been,
seized the royal castles of Inverness, Urquhart, and Ruthven in
Badenoch, at the same time declaring himself independent. In thus
raising the standard of rebellion, John of the Isles was secretly
supported by the Earl of Douglas, and openly by the barons, who
were attached to his party. But a series of fatalities soon
extinguished this insurrection. Douglas was murdered in Edinburgh
Castle; Crawford was entirely defeated by Huntly; and John, by
the rebellion of his son Angus, was doomed to experience, in his
own territories, the same opposition which he had himself offered
to the general government. Submission was, therefore, inevitable.
Having for several years maintained a species of independence, he
was compelled to resign his lands into the hands of the king, and to
consent to hold them as a vassal of the crown. This, however, was
but a trifling matter compared with the rebellion of his son, which,
fomented probably by the court, proved eventually the ruin of the
principality of the Isles, after it had existed so long in a state
of partial independence. Various circumstances are stated as having
given rise to this extraordinary contest, although in none of these,
probably, is the true cause to be found. It appears, however, that
Angus Og,[145] having been appointed his father’s lieutenant and
representative in all his possessions, took advantage of the station
or office which was thus conferred on him, deprived his father of
all authority, and got himself declared Lord of the Isles. How this
was effected we know not; but scarcely had he attained the object
of his ambition, when he resolved to take signal vengeance upon the
Earl of Athole, an inveterate enemy of his house, and, at the same
time, to declare himself altogether independent of the crown. With
this view, having collected a numerous army, he suddenly appeared
before the castle of Inverness, and having been admitted by the
governor, who had no suspicion whatever of his design, immediately
proclaimed himself king of the Isles. He then invaded the district
of Athole; stormed and took Blair Castle; and having seized the earl
and countess, carried them prisoners to Islay. The reason given by Mr
Gregory for Angus’s enmity against the Earl and Countess of Athole
is, that the former having crossed over privately to Islay, carried
off the infant son of Angus, called Donald _Dubh_, or the Black, and
committed him to the care of Argyle, his maternal grandfather, who
placed him in the Castle of Inchconnely, where he was detained for
many years. Mr Gregory places this event after the Battle of Bloody
Bay. On his return to the Isles with the booty he had obtained, the
marauder was overtaken by a violent tempest, in which the greater
part of his galleys foundered. Heaven seemed to declare against
the spoiler, who had added sacrilege to rapine by plundering and
attempting to burn the chapel of St Bridget in Athole. Stricken with
remorse for the crime he had committed, he released the earl and
countess, and then sought to expiate his guilt by doing penance on
the spot where it had been incurred.

As a proof of the sincerity of his repentance, this Angus Og next
engaged in treason upon a larger scale. At the instigation of
this hopeful son, his father, whom he had already deprived of all
authority, now entered into a compact with the king of England and
the Earl of Douglas, the object of which was nothing less than
the entire subjugation of Scotland, and its partition amongst the
contracting parties. By this treaty, which is dated the 18th of
February 1462, the Lord of the Isles agreed, on the payment of a
stipulated sum, to become the sworn ally of the king of England,
and to assist that monarch, with the whole body of his retainers,
in the wars in Ireland and elsewhere; and it was further provided,
that in the event of the entire subjugation of Scotland, the whole of
that kingdom, to the north of the Firth of Forth, should be equally
divided between Douglas, the Lord of the Isles, and Donald Balloch
of Islay; whilst, on the other hand, Douglas was to be reinstated
in possession of those lands between the Forth and the English
borders, from which he had, at this time, been excluded. Conquest,
partition, and spoliation, were thus the objects contemplated in
this extraordinary compact. Yet no proceeding appears to have been
taken, in consequence of the treaty, until the year 1473, when we
find the Lord of the Isles again in arms against the government. He
continued several years in open rebellion; but having received little
or no support from the other parties to the league, he was declared
a traitor in a parliament held at Edinburgh in 1475, his estates
were also confiscated, and the Earls of Crawford and Athole were
directed to march against him at the head of a considerable force.
The meditated blow was, however, averted by the timely interposition
of his father, the Earl of Ross. By a seasonable grant of the lands
of Knapdale, he secured the influence of the Earl of Argyll, and
through the mediation of that nobleman, received a remission of his
past offences, was reinstated in his hereditary possessions, which
he had resigned into the hands of the crown, and created a peer of
parliament, by the title of the Lord of the Isles. The earldom of
Ross, the lands of Knapdale, and the sheriffships of Inverness and
Nairn were, however, retained by the crown, apparently as the price
of the remission granted to this doubly unfortunate man.

But Angus Og was no party to this arrangement. He continued to defy
the power of the government; and when the Earl of Athole was sent to
the north to reinstate the Earl of Ross in his remaining possessions,
he placed himself at the head of the clan, and prepared to give him
battle. Athole was joined by the Mackenzies, Mackays, Frasers, and
others; but being met by Angus at a place called Lagebread, he was
defeated with great slaughter, and escaped with great difficulty from
the field. The Earls of Crawford and Huntly were then sent against
this desperate rebel, the one by sea and the other by land; but
neither of them prevailed against the victorious insurgent. A third
expedition, under the Earls of Argyll and Athole, accompanied by
the father of the rebel and several families of the Isles, produced
no result; and the two earls, who seem to have had little taste for
an encounter with Angus, returned without effecting anything. John
the father, however, proceeded onwards through the Sound of Mull,
accompanied by the Macleans, Macleods, Macneills, and others, and
having encountered Angus in a bay on the south side of the promontory
of Ardnamurchan,[146] a desperate combat ensued, in which Angus was
again victorious, and his unfortunate parent overthrown. By the
battle of the Bloody Bay, as it is called in the traditions of the
country, Angus obtained possession of the extensive territories of
his clan, and, as “when treason prospers ’tis no longer treason,”
was recognised as its head. Angus, some time before 1490, when
marching to attack Mackenzie of Kintail, was assassinated by an Irish

The rank of heir to the lordship of the Isles devolved on the nephew
of John, Alexander of Lochalsh, son of his brother, Celestine.
Placing himself at the head of the vassals of the Isles, he
endeavoured, it is said, with John’s consent, to recover possession
of the earldom of Ross, and in 1491, at the head of a large body of
western Highlanders, he advanced from Lochaber into Badenoch, where
he was joined by the clan Chattan. They then marched to Inverness,
where, after taking the royal castle, and placing a garrison in
it, they proceeded to the north-east, and plundered the lands of
Sir Alexander Urquhart, sheriff of Cromarty. They next hastened
to Strathconnan, for the purpose of ravaging the lands of the
Mackenzies. The latter, however, surprised and routed the invaders,
and expelled them from Ross, their leader, Alexander of Lochalsh,
being wounded, and as some say, taken prisoner. In consequence of
this insurrection, at a meeting of the Estates in Edinburgh in
May 1493, the title and possessions of the lord of the Isles were
declared to be forfeited to the crown. In January following the aged
John appeared in the presence of the king, and made a voluntary
surrender of his lordship, after which he appears to have remained
for some time in the king’s household, in the receipt of a pension.
He finally retired to the monastery of Paisley, where he died about
1498; and was interred, at his own request, in the tomb of his royal
ancestor, Robert II.[148]

With the view of reducing the insular chiefs to subjection, and
establishing the royal authority in the Islands, James IV., soon
after the forfeiture in 1493, proceeded in person to the West
Highlands, when Alexander of Lochalsh, the principal cause of the
insurrection which had led to it, and John of Isla, grandson and
representative of Donald Balloch, were among the first to make their
submission. On this occasion they appear to have obtained royal
charters of the lands they had previously held under the Lord of the
Isles, and were both knighted. In the following year the king visited
the Isles twice, and having seized and garrisoned the castle of
Dunaverty in South Kintyre, Sir John of Isla, deeply resenting this
proceeding, collected his followers, stormed the castle, and hung the
governor from the wall, in the sight of the king and his fleet. With
four of his sons, he was soon after apprehended at Isla, by MacIan
of Ardnamurchan, and being conveyed to Edinburgh, they were there
executed for high treason.

In 1495 King James assembled an army at Glasgow, and on the 18th
May, he was at the castle of Mingarry in Ardnamurchan, when several
of the Highland chiefs made their submission to him. In 1497 Sir
Alexander of Lochalsh again rebelled, and invading the more fertile
districts of Ross, was by the Mackenzies and Munroes, at a place
called Drumchatt, again defeated and driven out of Ross. Proceeding
southward among the Isles, he endeavoured to rouse the Islanders to
arms in his behalf, but without success. He was surprised in the
island of Oransay, by MacIan of Ardnamurchan, and put to death.

In 1501, Donald _Dubh_, whom the islanders regarded as their rightful
lord, and who, from his infancy, had been detained in confinement in
the castle of Inchconnell, escaped from prison, and appeared among
his clansmen. They had always maintained that he was the lawful
son of Angus of the Isles, by his wife the Lady Margaret Campbell,
daughter of the first Earl of Argyll, but his legitimacy was denied
by the government when the islanders combined to assert by arms his
claims as their hereditary chief. His liberation he owed to the
gallantry and fidelity of the men of Glencoe. Repairing to the isles
of Lewis, he put himself under the protection of its lord, Torquil
Macleod, who had married Katherine, another daughter of Argyll, and
therefore sister of the lady whom the islanders believed to be his
mother. A strong confederacy was formed in his favour, and about
Christmas 1503 an irruption of the islanders and western clans, under
Donald _Dubh_, was made into Badenoch, which was plundered and wasted
with fire and sword. To put down this formidable rebellion, the
array of the whole kingdom north of Forth and Clyde was called out;
and the Earls of Argyll, Huntly, Crawford, and Marischal, and Lord
Lovat, with other powerful barons, were charged to lead this force
against the islanders. But two years elapsed before the insurrection
was finally quelled. In 1505 the Isles were again invaded from the
south by the king in person, and from the north by Huntly, who took
several prisoners, but none of them of any rank. In these various
expeditions the fleet under the celebrated Sir Andrew Wood and
Robert Barton was employed against the islanders, and at length
the insurgents were dispersed. Carniburg, a strong fort on a small
isolated rock, near the west coast of Mull, in which they had taken
refuge, was reduced; the Macleans and the Macleods submitted to the
king, and Donald _Dubh_, again made a prisoner, was committed to the
castle of Edinburgh, where he remained for nearly forty years. After
this the great power formerly enjoyed by the Lords of the Isles was
transferred to the Earls of Argyll and Huntly, the former having
the chief rule in the south isles and adjacent coasts, while the
influence of the latter prevailed in the north isles and Highlands.

The children of Sir Alexander of Lochalsh, the nephew of John the
fourth and last Lord of the Isles, had fallen into the hands of the
king, and as they were all young, they appear to have been brought
up in the royal household. Donald, the eldest son, called by the
Highlanders, Donald _Galda_, or the foreigner, from his early
residence in the Lowlands, was allowed to inherit his father’s
estates, and was frequently permitted to visit the Isles. He was with
James IV. at the battle of Flodden, and appears to have been knighted
under the royal banner on that disastrous field. Two months after,
in November 1513, he raised another insurrection in the Isles, and
being joined by the Macleods and Macleans, was proclaimed Lord of
the Isles. The numbers of his adherents daily increased. But in the
course of 1515, the Earl of Argyll prevailed upon the insurgents to
submit to the regent. At this time Sir Donald appeared frequently
before the council, relying on a safe-conduct, and his reconciliation
to the regent (John, Duke of Albany) was apparently so cordial that
on 24th September 1516, a summons was despatched to ‘Monsieur de
Ylis,’ to join the royal army, then about to proceed to the borders.
Ere long, however, he was again in open rebellion. Early in 1517 he
razed the castle of Mingarry to the ground, and ravaged the whole
district of Ardnamurchan with fire and sword. His chief leaders now
deserted him, and some of them determined on delivering him up to
the regent. He, however, effected his escape, but his two brothers
were made prisoners by Maclean of Dowart and Macleod of Dunvegan,
who hastened to make their submission to the government. In the
following year, Sir Donald was enabled to revenge the murder of his
father on the MacIans of Ardnamurchan, having defeated and put to
death their chief and two of his sons, with a great number of his
men. He was about to be forfeited for high treason, when his death,
which took place a few weeks after his success against the MacIans,
brought the rebellion, which had lasted for upwards of five years, to
a sudden close. He was the last male of his family, and died without

In 1539, Donald Gorme of Sleat claimed the lordship of the Isles, as
lawful heir male of John, Earl of Ross. With a considerable force he
passed over into Ross-shire, where, after ravaging the district of
Kinlochewe, he proceeded to Kintail, with the intention of surprising
the castle Eilandonan, at that time almost without a garrison.
Exposing himself rashly under the wall, he received a wound in the
foot from an arrow, which proved fatal.

In 1543, under the regency of the Earl of Arran, Donald _Dubh_,
the grandson of John, last Lord of the Isles, again appeared upon
the scene. Escaping from his long imprisonment, he was received
with enthusiasm by the insular chiefs, and, with their assistance,
he prepared to expel the Earls of Argyll and Huntly from their
acquisitions in the Isles. At the head of 1800 men he invaded
Argyll’s territories, slew many of his vassals, and carried off
a great quantity of cattle, with other plunder. At first he was
supported by the Earl of Lennox, then attached to the English
interest, and thus remained for a time in the undisputed possession
of the Isles. Through the influence of Lennox, the islanders agreed
to transfer their alliance from the Scottish to the English crown,
and in June 1545 a proclamation was issued by the regent Arran and
his privy council against ‘Donald, alleging himself of the Isles,
and other Highland men, his partakers.’ On the 28th July of that
year, a commission was granted by Donald, ‘Lord of the Isles, and
Earl of Ross,’ with the advice and consent of his barons and council
of the Isles, of whom seventeen are named, to two commissioners,
for treating, under the directions of the Earl of Lennox, with
the English king. On the 5th of August, the lord and barons of
the Isles were at Knockfergus, in Ireland, with a force of 4000
men and 180 galleys, when they took the oath of allegiance to the
king of England, at the command of Lennox, while 4000 men in arms
were left to guard and defend the Isles in his absence. Donald’s
plenipotentiaries then proceeded to the English court with letters
from him both to King Henry and his privy council; by one of which
it appears that the Lord of the Isles had already received from the
English monarch the sum of one thousand crowns, and the promise of
an annual pension of two thousand. Soon after the Lord of the Isles
returned with his forces to Scotland, but appears to have returned to
Ireland again with Lennox. There he was attacked with fever, and died
at Drogheda, on his way to Dublin. With him terminated the direct
line of the Lords of the Isles.

All hopes of a descendant of Somerled again governing the Isles
were now at an end; and from this period the race of Conn, unable
to regain their former united power and consequence, were divided
into various branches, the aggregate strength of which was rendered
unavailing for the purpose of general aggrandisement, by the
jealousy, disunion, and rivalry, which prevailed among themselves.

After the forfeiture of the Lords of the Isles, and the failure of
the successive attempts which were made to retrieve their fortunes,
different clans occupied the extensive territories which had once
acknowledged the sway of those insular princes. Of these some were
clans, which, although dependent upon the Macdonalds, were not of
the same origin as the race of Conn; and, with the exception of
the Macleods, Macleans, and a few others, they strenuously opposed
all the attempts which were made to effect the restoration of the
family of the Isles, rightly calculating that the success of such
opposition would tend to promote their own aggrandisement. Another
class, again, were of the same origin as the family of the Isles; but
having branched off from the principal stem before the succession
of the elder branches reverted to the clan, in the person of John
of the Isles, during the reign of David II., they now appeared as
separate clans. Amongst these were the Macalisters, the MacIans, and
some others. The Macalisters, who are traced to Alister, a son of
Angus Mor, inhabited the south of Knapdale and the north of Kintyre.
After the forfeiture of the Isles they became independent; but being
exposed to the encroachments of the Campbells, their principal
possessions were ere long absorbed by different branches of that
powerful clan. The MacIans of Ardnamurchan were descended from John,
a son of Angus Mor, to whom his father conveyed the property which
he had obtained from the crown. The Macdonalds of Glencoe are also
MacIans, being descended from John Fraoch, a son of Angus Og, Lord
of the Isles; and hence their history is in no degree different
from that of the other branches of the Macdonalds. A third class
consisted of the descendants of the different Lords of the Isles,
who still professed to form one clan, although the subject of the
representation of the race soon introduced great dissensions, and all
adopted the generic name of Macdonald in preference to secondary or
collateral patronymics.

We shall now endeavour to give a short account of the different
branches of the Macdonalds, from the time of the annexation of the
Lordship of the Isles to the crown in 1540.

Since the extinction of the direct line of the family of the Isles,
in the middle of the 16th century, Macdonald of Sleat, now Lord
Macdonald, has always been styled in Gaelic _Mac Dhonuill nan
Eilean_, or Macdonald of the Isles.[149]

As the claim of Lord Macdonald, however, to this distinction has been
keenly disputed, we shall here lay before the reader, as clearly as
possible, the pretensions of the different claimants to the honour
of the chiefship of the clan Donald, as these have been very fairly
stated by Mr Skene.

That the family of Sleat are the undoubted representatives of
John, Earl of Ross, and the last Lord of the Isles, appears to be
admitted on all sides; but, on the other hand, if the descendants
of Donald, from whom the clan received its name, or even of John
of the Isles, who flourished in the reign of David II., are to be
held as constituting one clan, then, according to the Highland
principles of clanship, the _jus sanguinis_, or right of blood to
the chiefship, rested in the male representative of John, whose own
right was undoubted. By Amy, daughter of Roderick of the Isles, John
had three sons,--John, Godfrey, and Ranald; but the last of these
only left descendants; and it is from him that the Clan Ranald derive
their origin. Again, by the daughter of Robert II. John had four
sons--Donald, Lord of the Isles, the ancestor of the Macdonalds of
Sleat; John Mor, from whom proceeded the Macconnells of Kintyre;
Alister, the progenitor of Keppoch; and Angus, who does not appear
to have left any descendants. That Amy, the daughter of Roderick,
was John’s legitimate wife, is proved, first, by a dispensation
which the supreme Pontiff granted to John in the year 1337; and
secondly, by a treaty concluded between John and David II. in
1369, when the hostages given to the king were a son of the second
marriage, a grandson of the first, and a _natural_ son. Besides, it
is certain that the children of the first marriage were considered as
John’s feudal heirs; a circumstance which clearly establishes their
legitimacy. It is true that Robert II., in pursuance of the policy he
had adopted, persuaded John to make the children of these respective
marriages feudally independent of each other; and that the effect of
this was to divide the possessions of his powerful vassals into two
distinct and independent lordships. These were, first, the lordship
of Garmoran and Lochaber, which was held by the eldest son of the
first marriage,--and secondly, that of the Isles, which passed to
the eldest son of the second marriage; and matters appear to have
remained in this state until 1427, when, as formerly mentioned, the
Lord of Garmoran was beheaded, and his estates were forfeited to the
crown. James I., however, reversing the policy which had been pursued
by his predecessor, concentrated the possessions of the Macdonalds
in the person of the Lord of the Isles, and thus sought to restore
to him all the power and consequence which had originally belonged
to his house; “but this arbitrary proceeding,” says Mr Skene, “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,
devolved on the feudal representative of Reginald, the youngest son
of that marriage.”

The clan Ranald are believed to have derived their origin from this
Reginald or Ranald, who was a son of John of the Isles, by Amy
MacRory, and obtained from his father the lordship of Garmoran,
which he held as vassal of his brother Godfrey. That this lordship
continued in possession of the clan appears evident from the
Parliamentary Records, in which, under the date of 1587, mention is
made of the clan Ranald of Knoydart, Moydart, and Glengarry. But
considerable doubt has arisen, and there has been a good deal of
controversy, as to the right of chiefship; whilst of the various
families descended from Ranald each has put forward its claim to
this distinction. On this knotty and ticklish point we shall content
ourselves with stating the conclusions at which Mr Skene arrived
‘after,’ as he informs us, ‘a rigid examination’ of the whole subject
in dispute. According to him, the present family of Clanranald
have no valid title or pretension whatever, being descended from
an illegitimate son of a second son of the old family of Moydart,
who, in 1531, assumed the title of Captain of Clanranald; and,
consequently, as long as the descendants of the eldest son of that
family remain, they can have no claim by right of blood to the
chiefship. He then proceeds to examine the question,--Who was the
chief previous to this assumption of the captaincy of Clanranald?
and, from a genealogical induction of particulars, he concludes
that Donald, the progenitor of the family of Glengarry, was the
eldest son of the Reginald or Ranald above-mentioned; that from
John, the eldest son of Donald, proceeded the senior branch of this
family, in which the chiefship was vested; that, in consequence of
the grant of Garmoran to the Lord of the Isles, and other adverse
circumstances, they became so much reduced that the oldest cadet
obtained the actual chiefship, under the ordinary title of captain;
and that, on the extinction of this branch in the beginning of the
seventeenth century, the family of Glengarry descended from Alister,
second son of Donald, became the legal representatives of Ranald,
the common ancestor of the clan, and consequently possessed that
_jus sanguinis_ of which no usurpation could deprive them. Such are
the results of Mr Skene’s researches upon this subject. Latterly,
the family of Glengarry have claimed not only the chiefship of clan
Ranald, but likewise that of the whole clan Donald, as being the
representative of Donald, the common ancestor of the clan; and it can
scarcely be denied that the same evidence which makes good the one
point must serve equally to establish the other. Nor does this appear
to be any new pretension. When the services rendered by this family
to the house of Stuart were rewarded by Charles II. with a peerage,
the Glengarry of the time indicated his claim by assuming the title
of Lord Macdonnell and Aros; and although, upon the failure of heirs
male of his body, this title did not descend to his successors, yet
his lands formed, in consequence, the barony of Macdonnell.

Donald Gorme, the claimant of the lordship of the Isles mentioned
above as having been slain in 1539, left a grandson, a minor, known
as Donald Macdonald Gormeson of Sleat. His title to the family
estates was disputed by the Macleods of Harris. He ranged himself on
the side of Queen Mary when the disputes about her marriage began in
1565. He died in 1585, and was succeeded by Donald Gorme Mor, fifth
in descent from Hugh of Sleat. This Donald Gorme proved himself to be
a man of superior abilities, and was favoured highly by James VI., to
whom he did important service in maintaining the peace of the Isles.
“From this period, it may be observed, the family were loyal to the
crown, and firm supporters of the national constitution and laws; and
it is also worthy of notice that nearly all the clans attached to the
old Lords of the Isles, on the failure of the more direct line in the
person of John, transferred their warmest affections to those royal
Stuarts, whose throne they had before so often and so alarmingly
shaken. This circumstance, as all men know, became strikingly
apparent when misfortune fell heavily in turn on the Stuarts.”[150]

Donald Gorme Mor, soon after succeeding his father, found himself
involved in a deadly feud with the Macleans of Dowart, which raged
to such an extent as to lead to the interference of government, and
to the passing in 1587 of an act of parliament, commonly called “The
general Bond” or Band for maintaining good order both on the borders
and in the Highlands and Isles. By this act, it was made imperative
on all landlords, bailies, and chiefs of clans, to find sureties
for the peaceable behaviour of those under them. The contentions,
however, between the Macdonalds and the Macleans continued, and in
1589, with the view of putting an end to them, the king and council
adopted the following plan. After remissions under the privy seal
had been granted to Donald Gorme of Sleat, his kinsman, Macdonald
of Islay, the principal in the feud, and Maclean of Dowart, for all
crimes committed by them, they were induced to proceed to Edinburgh,
under pretence of consulting with the king and council for the good
rule of the country, but immediately on their arrival they were
seized and imprisoned in the castle. In the summer of 1591, they
were set at liberty, on paying each a fine to the king, that imposed
on Sleat being £4,000, under the name of arrears of feu-duties and
crown-rents in the Isles, and finding security for their future
obedience and the performance of certain prescribed conditions. They
also bound themselves to return to their confinement in the castle of
Edinburgh, whenever they should be summoned, on twenty days’ warning.
In consequence of their not fulfilling the conditions imposed upon
them, and their continuing in opposition to the government, their
pardons were recalled, and the three island chiefs were cited before
the privy council on the 14th July 1593, when, failing to appear,
summonses of treason were executed against them and certain of their

In 1601, the chief of Sleat again brought upon himself and his clan
the interference of government by a feud with Macleod of Dunvegan,
which led to much bloodshed and great misery and distress among
their followers and their families. He had married a sister of
Macleod; but, from jealousy or some other cause, he put her away, and
refused at her brother’s request to take her back. Having procured
a divorce, he soon after married a sister of Kenneth Mackenzie of
Kintail. Macleod immediately assembled his clan, and carried fire and
sword through Macdonald’s district of Trotternish. The latter, in
revenge, invaded Harris, and laid waste that island, killing many of
the inhabitants, and carrying off their cattle. “These spoliations
and incursions were carried on with so much inveteracy, that both
clans were brought to the brink of ruin; and many of the natives of
the districts thus devastated were forced to sustain themselves by
killing and eating their horses, dogs, and cats.” The Macdonalds
having invaded Macleod’s lands in Skye, a battle took place on the
mountain Benquillin between them and the Macleods, when the latter,
under Alexander, the brother of their chief, were defeated with great
loss, and their leader, with thirty of their clan, taken captive. A
reconciliation was at length effected between them by the mediation
of Macdonald of Islay, Maclean of Coll, and other friends; when the
prisoners taken at Benquillin were released.[151]

In 1608, we find Donald Gorme of Sleat one of the Island chiefs who
attended the court of Lord Ochiltree, the king’s lieutenant, at
Aros in Mull, when he was sent there for the settlement of order
in the Isles, and who afterwards accepted his invitation to dinner
on board the king’s ship, called the Moon. When dinner was ended,
Ochiltree told the astonished chiefs that they were his prisoners
by the king’s order; and weighing anchor he sailed direct to Ayr,
whence he proceeded with his prisoners to Edinburgh and presented
them before the privy council, by whose order they were placed
in the castles of Dumbarton, Blackness, and Stirling. Petitions
were immediately presented by the imprisoned chiefs to the council
submitting themselves to the king’s pleasure, and making many offers
in order to procure their liberation. In the following year the
bishop of the Isles was deputed as sole commissioner to visit and
survey the Isles, and all the chiefs in prison were set at liberty,
on finding security to a large amount, not only for their return to
Edinburgh by a certain fixed day, but for their active concurrence,
in the meantime, with the bishop in making the proposed survey.
Donald Gorme of Sleat was one of the twelve chiefs and gentlemen of
the Isles, who met the bishop at Iona, in July 1609, and submitted
themselves to him, as the king’s representative. At a court then held
by the bishop, the nine celebrated statutes called the “Statutes of
Icolmkill,” for the improvement and order of the Isles, were enacted,
with the consent of the assembled chiefs, and their bonds and oaths
given for the obedience thereto of their clansmen.[152]

In 1616, after the suppression of the rebellion of the Clanranald
in the South Isles, certain very stringent conditions were imposed
by the privy council on the different Island chiefs. Among these
were, that they were to take home-farms into their own hands, which
they were to cultivate, “to the effect that they might be thereby
exercised and eschew idleness,” and that they were not to use in
their houses more than a certain quantity of wine respectively.
Donald Gorme of Sleat, having been prevented by sickness from
attending the council with the other chiefs, ratified all their
proceedings, and found the required sureties, by a bond dated in
the month of August. He named Duntulm, a castle of his family in
Trotternish, Skye, as his residence, when six household gentlemen,
and an annual consumption of four tun of wine, were allowed to
him; and he was once-a-year to exhibit to the council three of his
principal kinsmen. He died the same year, without issue, and was
succeeded by his nephew, Donald Gorme Macdonald of Sleat.

On July 14th 1625, after having concluded, in an amicable manner, all
his disputes with the Macleods of Harris, and another controversy in
which he was engaged with the captain of Clanranald, he was created
a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I., with a special clause of
precedency placing him second of that order in Scotland. He adhered
to the cause of that monarch, but died in 1643. He had married Janet,
commonly called “fair Janet,” second daughter of Kenneth, first
Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, by whom he had several children. His
eldest son, Sir James Macdonald, second baronet of Sleat, joined
the Marquis of Montrose in 1645, and when Charles II. marched into
England in 1651, he sent a number of his clan to his assistance. He
died 8th December 1678.

Sir James’ eldest son, Sir Donald Macdonald, third baronet of Sleat,
died in 1695. His son, also named Sir Donald, fourth baronet, was one
of those summoned by the Lord Advocate, on the breaking out of the
rebellion of 1715, to appear at Edinburgh, under pain of a year’s
imprisonment and other penalties, to give bail for their allegiance
to the government. Joining in the insurrection, his two brothers
commanded the battalion of his clan, on the Pretender’s side, at
Sheriffmuir; and, being sent out with the Earl Marischal’s horse to
drive away a reconnoitring party, under the Duke of Argyll, from
the heights, may be said to have commenced the battle. Sir Donald
himself had joined the Earl of Seaforth at his camp at Alness with
700 Macdonalds. After the suppression of the rebellion, Sir Donald
proceeded to the Isle of Skye with about 1000 men; but although
he made no resistance, having no assurance of protection from the
government in case of a surrender, he retired into one of the Uists,
where he remained till he obtained a ship which carried him to
France. He was forfeited for his share in the insurrection, but the
forfeiture was soon removed. He died in 1718, leaving one son and
four daughters.

His son, Sir Alexander Macdonald, seventh baronet, was one of the
first persons asked by Prince Charles to join him, on his arrival off
the Western Islands, in July 1745, but refused, as he had brought no
foreign force with him. After the battle of Preston, the prince sent
Mr Alexander Macleod, advocate, to the Isle of Skye, to endeavour
to prevail upon Sir Alexander Macdonald and the laird of Macleod
to join the insurgents; but instead of doing so, these and other
well-affected chiefs enrolled each an independent company for the
service of government, out of their respective clans. The Macdonalds
of Skye served under Lord Loudon in Ross-shire.

After the battle of Culloden, when Prince Charles, in his wanderings,
took refuge in Skye, with Flora Macdonald, they landed near
Moydhstat, or Mugstot, the seat of Sir Alexander Macdonald, near the
northern extremity of that island. Sir Alexander was at that time
with the Duke of Cumberland at Fort Augustus, and as his wife, Lady
Margaret Montgomerie, a daughter of the ninth Earl of Eglinton, was
known to be a warm friend of the prince. Miss Macdonald proceeded to
announce to her his arrival. Through Lady Margaret the prince was
consigned to the care of Mr Macdonald of Kingsburgh, Sir Alexander’s
factor, at whose house he spent the night, and afterwards departed
to the island of Rasay. Sir Alexander died in November 1746, leaving
three sons.

His eldest son, Sir James, eighth baronet, styled “The Scottish
Marcellus,” was born in 1741. At his own earnest solicitation he was
sent to Eton, on leaving which he set out on his travels, and was
everywhere received by the learned with the distinction due to his
unrivalled talents. At Rome, in particular, the most marked attention
was paid to him by several of the cardinals. He died in that city
on 26th July 1766, when only 25 years old. In extent of learning,
and in genius, he resembled the admirable Crichton. On his death the
title devolved on his next brother, Alexander, ninth baronet, who
was created a peer of Ireland, July 17, 1776, as Baron Macdonald
of Sleat, county Antrim. He married the eldest daughter of Godfrey
Bosville, Esq. of Gunthwaite, Yorkshire, and had seven sons and three
daughters. Diana, the eldest daughter, married in 1788 the Right Hon.
Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster. His lordship died Sept. 12, 1795.

His eldest son, Alexander Wentworth, second Lord Macdonald, died
unmarried, June 9, 1824, when his brother, Godfrey, became third Lord
Macdonald. He assumed the additional name of Bosville. He married
Louise Maria, daughter of Farley Edsir, Esq.; issue, three sons and
seven daughters. He died Oct. 13, 1832.

The eldest son, Godfrey William Wentworth, fourth Lord Macdonald,
born in 1809, married in 1845, daughter of G. T. Wyndham, Esq. of
Cromer Hall, Norfolk; issue, Somerled James Brudenell, born in 1849,
two other sons and four daughters.

The MACDONALDS of ISLA and KINTYRE, called the Clan IAN VOR, whose
chiefs were usually styled lords of Dunyveg (from their castle in
Isla) and the Glens, were descended from John Mor, second son of “the
good John of Isla,” and of Lady Margaret Stewart, daughter of King
Robert II. From his brother Donald, Lord of the Isles, he received
large grants of land in Isla and Kintyre, and by his marriage with
Marjory Bisset, heiress of the district of the Glens in Antrim, he
acquired possessions in Ulster. He was murdered before 1427 by an
individual named James Campbell, who is said to have received a
commission from King James I. to apprehend him, but that he exceeded
his powers by putting him to death. His eldest son was the famous
Donald Balloch. From Ranald Bane, a younger brother of Donald
Balloch, sprang the Clanranaldbane of Largie in Kintyre.

Donald Balloch’s grandson, John, surnamed _Cathanach_, or warlike,
was at the head of the clan Ian Vor, when the lordship of the Isles
was finally forfeited by James IV. in 1493. In that year he was among
the chiefs, formerly vassals of the Lord of the Isles, who made their
submission to the king, when he proceeded in person to the West
Highlands. On this occasion he and the other chiefs were knighted.

Alexander of Isla was with Sir Donald of Lochalsh when, in 1518,
he proceeded against the father-in-law of the former, MacIan of
Ardnamurchan, who was defeated and slain, with two of his sons, at
a place called Craiganairgid, or the Silver Craig in Morvern. The
death of Sir Donald soon after brought the rebellion to a close. In
1529 Alexander of Isla and his followers were again in insurrection,
and being joined by the Macleans, they made descents upon Roseneath,
Craignish, and other lands of the Campbells, which they ravaged with
fire and sword. Alexander of Isla being considered the prime mover
of the rebellion, the king resolved in 1531 to proceed against him
in person, on which, hastening to Stirling, under a safeguard and
protection, he submitted, and received a new grant, during the king’s
pleasure, of certain lands in the South Isles and Kintyre, and a
remission to himself and his followers for all crimes committed by
them during the late rebellion.

In 1543, on the second escape of Donald Dubh, grandson of John, last
lord of the Isles, and the regent Arran’s opposing the views of
the English faction, James Macdonald of Isla, son and successor to
Alexander, was the only insular chief who supported the regent. In
the following year his lands of Kintyre were ravaged by the Earl of
Lennox, the head of the English party.

After the death of Donald Dubh, the islanders chose for their leader
James Macdonald of Isla, who married Lady Agnes Campbell, the Earl of
Argyll’s sister, and though the most powerful of the Island chiefs,
he relinquished his pretensions to the lordship of the Isles, being
the last that assumed that title.

A dispute between the Macleans and the clan Ian Vor, relative to the
right of occupancy of certain crown lands in Isla, led to a long and
bloody feud between these tribes, in which both suffered severely.
In 1562 the matter was brought before the privy council, when it was
decided that James Macdonald of Isla was really the crown tenant, and
as Maclean refused to become his vassal, in 1565 the rival chiefs
were compelled to find sureties, each to the amount of £10,000, that
they would abstain from mutual hostilities.

James having been killed while helping to defend his family estates
in Ulster, Ireland, his eldest son, Angus Macdonald, succeeded to
Isla and Kintyre, and in his time the feud with the Macleans was
renewed, details of which will be found in the former part of this
work. In 1579, upon information of mutual hostilities committed by
their followers, the king and council commanded Lauchlan Maclean
of Dowart and Angus Macdonald of Dunyveg or Isla, to subscribe
assurances of indemnity to each other, under the pain of treason,
and the quarrel was, for the time, patched up by the marriage of
Macdonald with Maclean’s sister. In 1585, however, the feud came to
a height, and after involving nearly the whole of the island clans
on one side or the other, and causing its disastrous consequences
to be felt throughout the whole extent of the Hebrides, by the
mutual ravages of the contending parties, government interfered,
and measures were at last adopted for reducing to obedience the
turbulent chiefs, who had caused so much bloodshed and distress in
the Isles.

James Macdonald, son of Angus Macdonald of Dunyveg, had remained in
Edinburgh for four years as a hostage for his father, and early in
1596 he received a license to visit him, in the hope that he might
be prevailed upon to submit to the laws, that the peace of the Isles
might be secured. He sent his son, who was soon afterwards knighted,
back to court to make known to the privy council, in his father’s
name and his own, that they would fulfil whatever conditions should
be prescribed to them by his majesty. At this time Angus made over
to his son all his estates, reserving only a proper maintenance for
himself and his wife during their lives. When Sir William Stewart
arrived at Kintyre, and held a court there, the chief of Isla and his
followers hastened to make their personal submission to the king’s
representative, and early in the following year he went to Edinburgh,
when he undertook to find security for the arrears of his crown
rents, to remove his clan and dependers from Kintyre and the Rinns of
Isla, and to deliver his castle of Dunyveg to any person sent by the
king to receive it.

Angus Macdonald having failed to fulfil these conditions, his son,
Sir James, was in 1598 sent to him from court, to induce him to
comply with them. His resignation of his estates in favour of his
son was not recognised by the privy council, as they had already
been forfeited to the crown; but Sir James, on his arrival, took
possession of them, and even attempted to burn his father and mother
in their house of Askomull in Kintyre. Angus Macdonald, after having
been taken prisoner, severely scorched, was carried to Smerbie in
Kintyre, and confined there in irons for several months. Sir James,
now in command of his clan, conducted himself with such violence,
that in June 1598 a proclamation for another royal expedition to
Kintyre was issued. He, however, contrived to procure from the king
a letter approving of his proceedings in Kintyre, and particularly
of his apprehension of his father; and the expedition, after being
delayed for some time, was finally abandoned.

In August of the following year, with the view of being reconciled to
government, Sir James appeared in presence of the king’s comptroller
at Falkland, and made certain proposals for establishing the royal
authority in Kintyre and Isla; but the influence of Argyll, who took
the part of Angus Macdonald, Sir James’s father, and the Campbells,
having been used against their being carried into effect, the
arrangement came to nothing, and Sir James and his clan were driven
into irremediable opposition to the government, which ended in their

Sir James, finding that it was the object of Argyll to obtain for
himself the king’s lands in Kintyre, made an attempt in 1606 to
escape from the castle of Edinburgh, where he was imprisoned; but
being unsuccessful, was put in irons. In the following year a charter
was granted to Argyll of the lands in North and South Kintyre, and in
the Isle of Jura, which had been forfeited by Angus Macdonald, and
thus did the legal right to the lands of Kintyre pass from a tribe
which had held them for many hundred years.[153]

Angus Macdonald and his clan immediately took up arms, and his son,
Sir James, after many fruitless applications to the privy council,
to be set at liberty, and writing both to the king and the Duke of
Lennox, made another attempt to escape from the castle of Edinburgh,
but having hurt his ancle by leaping from the wall whilst encumbered
with his fetters, he was retaken near the West Port of that city,
and consigned to his former dungeon. Details of the subsequent
transactions in this rebellion will be found in the former part of
this work.[154]

After the fall of Argyll, who had turned Roman Catholic, and had
also fled to Spain, where he is said to have entered into some
very suspicious dealings with his former antagonist, Sir James
Macdonald, who was living there in exile, the latter was, in 1620,
with MacRanald of Keppoch, recalled from exile by King James. On
their arrival in London, Sir James received a pension of 1000 merks
sterling, while Keppoch got one of 200 merks. His majesty also wrote
to the Scottish privy council in their favour, and granted them
remissions for all their offences. Sir James, however, never again
visited Scotland, and died at London in 1626, without issue. The clan
Ian Vor from this period may be said to have been totally suppressed.
Their lands were taken possession of by the Campbells, and the
most valuable portion of the property of the ducal house of Argyll
consists of what had formerly belonged to the Macdonalds of Isla and

LOCHABER, were descended from Alexander, or Allaster Carrach, third
son of John, Lord of the Isles, and Lady Margaret Stewart. He was
forfeited for joining the insurrection of the Islanders, under Donald
Balloch, in 1431, and the greater part of his lands were bestowed
upon Duncan Mackintosh, captain of the clan Chattan, which proved the
cause of a fierce and lasting feud between the Mackintoshes and the
Macdonalds. It was from Ranald, the fourth in descent from Allaster
Carrach, that the tribe received the name of the Clanranald of

In 1498, the then chief of the tribe, Donald, elder brother of
Allaster MacAngus, grandson of Allaster Carrach, was killed in
a battle with Dougal Stewart, first of Appin. His son John, who
succeeded him, having delivered up to Mackintosh, chief of the clan
Chattan, as steward of Lochaber, one of the tribe who had committed
some crime, and had fled to him for protection, rendered himself
unpopular among his clan, and was deposed from the chiefship. His
cousin and heir-male presumptive, Donald Glas MacAllaster, was
elected chief in his place. During the reign of James IV., says Mr
Gregory, this tribe continued to hold their lands in Lochaber, as
occupants merely, and without a legal claim to the heritage.[155]
In 1546 Ranald Macdonald Glas, who appears to have been the son of
Donald Glas MacAllaster, and the captain of the clan Cameron, being
present at the slaughter of Lord Lovat and the Frasers at the battle
of Kinloch-lochy, and having also supported all the rebellions of
the Earl of Lennox, concealed themselves in Lochaber, when the Earl
of Huntly entered that district with a considerable force and laid
it waste, taking many of the inhabitants prisoners. Having been
apprehended by William Mackintosh, captain of the clan Chattan,
the two chiefs were delivered over to Huntly, who conveyed them to
Perth, where they were detained in prison for some time. They were
afterwards tried at Elgin for high treason, and being found guilty,
were beheaded in 1547.

Allaster MacRanald of Keppoch and his eldest son assisted Sir James
Macdonald in his escape from Edinburgh Castle in 1615, and was with
him at the head of his clan during his subsequent rebellion. On its
suppression, he fled towards Kintyre, and narrowly escaped being
taken with the loss of his vessels and some of his men.

In the great civil war the Clanranald of Lochaber were very active
on the king’s side. Soon after the Restoration, Alexander Macdonald
Glas, the young chief of Keppoch, and his brother were murdered by
some of their own discontented followers. Coll Macdonald was the
next chief. Previous to the Revolution of 1688, the feud between
his clan and the Mackintoshes, regarding the lands he occupied, led
to the last clan battle that was ever fought in the Highlands. The
Mackintoshes having invaded Lochaber, were defeated on a height
called Mulroy. So violent had been Keppoch’s armed proceedings before
this event that the government had issued a commission of fire and
sword against him. After the defeat of the Mackintoshes, he advanced
to Inverness, to wreak his vengeance on the inhabitants of that town
for supporting the former against him, if they did not purchase his
forbearance by paying a large sum as a fine. Dundee, however, anxious
to secure the friendship of the people of Inverness, granted Keppoch
his own bond in behalf of the town, obliging himself to see Keppoch
paid 2000 dollars, as a compensation for the losses and injuries
he alleged he had sustained from the Mackintoshes. Keppoch brought
to the aid of Dundee 1000 Highlanders, and as Mackintosh refused
to attend a friendly interview solicited by Dundee, Keppoch, at
the desire of the latter, drove away his cattle. We are told that
Dundee “used to call him Coll of the cowes, because he found them
out when they were driven to the hills out of the way.” He fought
at the battle of Killiecrankie, and, on the breaking out of the
rebellion of 1715, he joined the Earl of Mar, with whom he fought at
Sheriffmuir. His son, Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch, on the arrival
of Prince Charles in Scotland in 1745, at once declared for him, and
at a meeting of the chiefs to consult as to the course they should
pursue, he gave it as his opinion that as the prince had risked his
person, and generously thrown himself into the hands of his friends,
they were bound, in duty at least, to raise men instantly for the
protection of his person, whatever might be the consequences.

At the battle of Culloden, on the three Macdonald regiments giving
way, Keppoch, seeing himself abandoned by his clan, advanced with
his drawn sword in one hand and his pistol in the other, but was
brought to the ground by a musket shot. Donald Roy Macdonald, a
captain in Clanranald’s regiment, followed him, and entreated him not
to throw away his life, assuring him that his wound was not mortal,
and that he might easily rejoin his regiment in the retreat, but
Keppoch, after recommending him to take care of himself, received
another shot, which killed him on the spot. There are still numerous
cadets of this family in Lochaber, but the principal house, says Mr
Gregory,[156] if not yet extinct, has lost all influence in that
district. Latterly they changed their name to Macdonnell.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Heath.]

The CLANRANALD MACDONALDS of GARMORAN are descended from Ranald,
younger son of John, first Lord of the Isles, by his first wife,
Amy, heiress of the MacRorys or Macruaries of Garmoran. In 1373 he
received a grant of the North Isles, Garmoran, and other lands, to
be held of John, Lord of the Isles, and his heirs. His descendants
comprehended the families of Moydart, Morar, Knoydart, and Glengarry,
and came in time to form the most numerous tribe of the Clandonald.
Alexander Macruari of Moydart, chief of the Clanranald, was one
of the principal chiefs seized by James I. at Inverness in 1427,
and soon after beheaded. The great-grandson of Ranald, named Allan
Macruari, who became chief of the Clanranald in 1481, was one of the
principal supporters of Angus, the young Lord of the Isles, at the
battle of Bloody Bay, and he likewise followed Alexander of Lochalsh,
nephew of the Lord of the Isles, in his invasion of Ross and Cromarty
in 1491, when he received a large portion of the booty taken on the
occasion.[157] In 1495, on the second expedition of James IV. to the
Isles, Allan Macruari was one of the chiefs who made their submission.

During the whole of the 15th century the Clanranald had been engaged
in feuds regarding the lands of Garmoran and Uist; first, with
the Siol Gorrie, or race of Godfrey, eldest brother of Ranald,
the founder of the tribe, and afterwards with the Macdonalds or
Clanhuistein of Sleat, and it was not till 1506, that they succeeded
in acquiring a legal title to the disputed lands. John, eldest son
of Hugh of Sleat, having no issue, made over all his estates to
the Clanranald, including the lands occupied by them. Archibald,
or Gillespock, Dubh, natural brother of John, having slain Donald
Gallach and another of John’s brothers, endeavoured to seize the
lands of Sleat, but was expelled from the North Isles by Ranald Bane
Allanson of Moydart, eldest son of the chief of Clanranald. The
latter married Florence, daughter of MacIan of Ardnamurchan, and had
four sons--1. Ranald Bane; 2. Alexander, who had three sons, John,
Farquhar, and Angus, and a daughter; 3. Ranald Oig; and 4. Angus
Reochson. Angus Reoch, the youngest son, had a son named Dowle or
Coull, who had a son named Allan, whose son, Alexander, was the
ancestor of the Macdonells of Morar.

In 1509 Allan Macruari was tried, convicted, and executed, in
presence of the king at Blair-Athol, but for what crime is not
known. His eldest son, Ranald Bane, obtained a charter of the lands
of Moydart and Arisaig, Dec. 14, 1540, and died in 1541. He married
a daughter of Lord Lovat, and had one son, Ranald Galda, or the
stranger, from his being fostered by his mother’s relations, the

On the death of Ranald Bane, the fifth chief, the clan, who had
resolved to defeat his son’s right to succeed, in consequence of his
relations, the Frasers, having joined the Earl of Huntly, lieutenant
of the north, against the Macdonalds, chose the next heir to the
estate as their chief. This was the young Ranald’s cousin-german,
John Moydartach, or John of Moydart, eldest son of Alexander
Allanson, second son of Allan Macruari, and John was, accordingly,
acknowledged by the clan captain of Clanranald. Lovat, apprised of
the intentions of the clan against his grandchild, before their
scheme was ripe for execution, marched to Castletirrim, and, by the
assistance of the Frasers, placed Ranald Galda in possession of the
lands. The Clanranald, assisted by the Macdonalds of Keppoch and
the Clan Cameron, having laid waste and plundered the districts of
Abertarf and Stratherrick, belonging to Lovat, and the lands of
Urquhart and Glenmoriston, the property of the Grants, the Earl
of Huntly, the king’s lieutenant in the north, to drive them back
and put an end to their ravages, was obliged to raise a numerous
force. He penetrated as far as Inverlochy in Lochaber, and then
returned to his own territories. The battle of Kinloch-lochy, called
Blar-nan-leine, “the field of shirts,” followed, as related in the
account of the clan Fraser. The Macdonalds being the victors, the
result was that John Moydartach was maintained in possession of the
chiefship and estates, and transmitted the same to his descendants.
On the return of Huntly with an army, into Lochaber, John Moydartach
fled to the Isles, where he remained for some time.

The Clanranald distinguished themselves under the Marquis of
Montrose in the civil wars of the 17th century. At the battle of
Killiecrankie, their chief, then only fourteen years of age, fought
under Dundee, with 500 of his men. They were also at Sheriffmuir. In
the rebellion of 1745, the Clanranald took an active part. Macdonald
of Boisdale, the brother of the chief, then from age and infirmities
unfit to be of any service, had an interview with Prince Charles,
on his arrival off the island of Eriska, and positively refused to
aid his enterprise. On the following day, however, young Clanranald,
accompanied by his kinsmen, Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale and
Æneas Macdonald of Dalily, the author of a Journal and Memoirs of the
Expedition, went on board the prince’s vessel, and readily offered
him his services. He afterwards joined him with 200 of his clan, and
was with him throughout the rebellion.

At the battles of Preston and Falkirk, the Macdonalds were on the
right, which they claimed as their due, but at Culloden the three
Macdonald regiments of Clanranald, Keppoch, and Glengarry, formed
the left. It was probably their feeling of dissatisfaction at being
placed on the left of the line that caused the Macdonald regiments,
on observing that the right and centre had given way, to turn their
backs and fly from the fatal field without striking a blow.

At Glenboisdale, whither Charles retreated, after the defeat at
Culloden, he was joined by young Clanranald, and several other
adherents, who endeavoured to persuade him from embarking for the
Isles, but in vain. In the act of indemnity passed in June 1747,
young Clanranald was one of those who were specially excepted from

The ancestor of the Macdonalds of Benbecula was Ranald, brother of
Donald Macallan, who was captain of the Clanranald in the latter
part of the reign of James VI. The Macdonalds of Boisdale are cadets
of Benbecula, and those of Staffa of Boisdale. On the failure of
Donald’s descendants, the family of Benbecula succeeded to the barony
of Castletirrim, and the captainship of the Clanranald, represented
by Reginald George Macdonald of Clanranald.

From John, another brother of Donald Macallan, came the family of
Kinlochmoidart, which terminated in an heiress. This lady married
Colonel Robertson, who, in her right, assumed the name of Macdonald.

From John Oig, uncle of Donald Macallan, descended the Macdonalds
of Glenaladale. “The head of this family,” says Mr Gregory, “John
Macdonald of Glenaladale, being obliged to quit Scotland about 1772,
in consequence of family misfortunes, sold his Scottish estates to
his cousin (also a Macdonald), and emigrating to Prince Edward’s
Island, with about 200 followers, purchased a tract of 40,000 acres
there, while the 200 Highlanders have increased to 3000.”

One of the attendants of Prince Charles, who, after Culloden,
embarked with him for France, was Neil MacEachan Macdonald, a
gentleman sprung from the branch of the Clanranald in Uist. He served
in France as a lieutenant in the Scottish regiment of Ogilvie, and
was father of Stephen James Joseph Macdonald, marshal of France, and
Duke of Tarentum, born Nov. 17, 1765; died Sept. 24, 1840.

The MACDONALDS of GLENCOE are descended from John Og, surnamed
_Fraoch_, natural son of Angus Og of Isla, and brother of John,
first Lord of the Isles. He settled in Glencoe, which is a wild and
gloomy vale in the district of Lorn, Argyleshire, as a vassal under
his brother, and some of his descendants still possess lands there.
This branch of the Macdonalds was known as the clan Ian Abrach, it is
supposed from one of the family being fostered in Lochaber. After the
Revolution, MacIan or Alexander Macdonald of Glencoe, was one of the
chiefs who supported the cause of King James, having joined Dundee in
Lochaber at the head of his clan, and a mournful interest attaches
to the history of this tribe from the dreadful massacre, by which it
was attempted to exterminate it in February 1692. The story has often
been told, but as full details have been given in the former part of
this work, it is unnecessary to repeat them here.

The Macdonalds of Glencoe joined Prince Charles on the breaking out
of the rebellion in 1745, and General Stewart, in his Sketches of the
Highlanders, relates that when the insurgent army lay at Kirkliston,
near the seat of the Earl of Stair, grandson of Secretary Dalrymple,
the prince, anxious to save his lordship’s house and property, and to
remove from his followers all excitement and revenge, proposed that
the Glencoe-men should be marched to a distance, lest the remembrance
of the share which his grandfather had in the order for the massacre
of the clan should rouse them to retaliate on his descendant.
Indignant at being supposed capable of wreaking their vengeance on an
innocent man, they declared their resolution of returning home, and
it was not without much explanation and great persuasion that they
were prevented from marching away the following morning.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Heath.]

The GLENGARRY branch of the Macdonalds spell their name MACDONNELL.
The word _Dhonuill_, whence the name Donald is derived, is said
to signify “brown eye.” The most proper way, says Mr Gregory, of
spelling the name, according to the pronunciation, was that formerly
employed by the Macdonalds of Dunyveg and the Glens, who used
_Macdonnell_. Sir James Macdonald, however, the last of this family
in the direct male line, signed _Makdonall_.[158]

The family of Glengarry are descended from Alister, second son of
Donald, who was eldest son of Reginald or Ranald (progenitor also of
the Clanranald), youngest son of John, lord of the Isles, by Amy,
heiress of MacRory. Alexander Macdonnell, who was chief of Glengarry
at the beginning of the 16th century, supported the claims of Sir
Donald Macdonald of Lochalsh to the lordship of the Isles, and in
November 1513 assisted him, with Chisholm of Comer, in expelling the
garrison and seizing the Castle of Urquhart in Loch Ness. In 1527
the Earl of Argyll, lieutenant of the Isles, received from Alexander
Macranald of Glengarry and North Morar, a bond of manrent or service;
and in 1545 he was among the lords and barons of the Isles who, at
Knockfergus in Ireland, took the oath of allegiance to the king of
England, “at the command of the Earl of Lennox.” He married Margaret,
eldest daughter of Celestine, brother of John Earl of Ross, and
one of the three sisters and coheiresses of Sir Donald Macdonald
of Lochalsh. His son, Angus or Æneas Macdonnell of Glengarry, the
representative, through his mother, of the house of Lochalsh, which
had become extinct in the male line on the death of Sir Donald in
1518, married Janet, only daughter of Sir Hector Maclean of Dowart,
and had a son, Donald Macdonnell of Glengarry, styled Donald MacAngus

In 1581 a serious feud broke out between the chief of Glengarry, who
had inherited one half of the districts of Lochalsh, Lochcarron,
and Lochbroom in Wester Ross, and Colin Mackenzie of Kintail, who
was in possession of the other half. The Mackenzies, having made
aggressions upon Glengarry’s portion, the latter, to maintain his
rights, took up his temporary residence in Lochcarron, and placed a
small garrison in the castle of Strone in that district. With some of
his followers he unfortunately fell into the hands of a party of the
Mackenzies, and after being detained in captivity for a considerable
time, only procured his release by yielding the castle of Lochcarron
to the Mackenzies. The other prisoners, including several of his near
kinsmen, were put to death. On complaining to the privy council, they
caused Mackenzie of Kintail to be detained for a time at Edinburgh,
and subsequently in the castle of Blackness. In 1602, Glengarry, from
his ignorance of the laws, was, by the craft of the clan Kenzie,
as Sir Robert Gordon says, “easalie intrapped within the compass
thereof,” on which they procured a warrant for citing him to appear
before the justiciary court at Edinburgh. Glengarry, however, paid
no attention to it, but went about revenging the slaughter of two of
his kinsmen, whom the Mackenzies had killed after the summons had
been issued. The consequence was that he and some of his followers
were outlawed, and Kenneth Mackenzie, who was now lord of Kintail,
procured a commission of fire and sword against Glengarry and his
men, in virtue of which he invaded and wasted the district of North
Morar, and carried off all the cattle. In retaliation the Macdonalds
plundered the district of Applecross, and, on a subsequent occasion,
they landed on the coast of Lochalsh, with the intention of burning
and destroying all Mackenzie’s lands, as far as Easter Ross, but
their leader, Allaster MacGorrie, having been killed, they returned
home. To revenge the death of his kinsman, Angus Macdonnell, the
young chief of Glengarry, at the head of his followers, proceeded
north to Lochcarron, where his tribe held the castle of Strone, now
in ruins. After burning many of the houses in the district, and
killing the inhabitants, he loaded his boats with the plunder, and
prepared to return. In the absence of their chief, the Mackenzies,
encouraged by the example of his lady, posted themselves at the
narrow strait or kyle which separates Skye from the mainland, for the
purpose of intercepting them. Night had fallen, however, before they
made their appearance, and taking advantage of the darkness, some
of the Mackenzies rowed out in two boats towards a large galley, on
board of which was young Glengarry, which was then passing the kyle.
This they suddenly attacked with a volley of musketry and arrows.
Those on board in their alarm crowding to one side, the galley
overset, and all on board were thrown into the water. Such of them
as were able to reach the shore were immediately despatched by the
Mackenzies, and among the slain was the young chief of Glengarry
himself. The rest of the Macdonnells, on reaching Strathaird in Skye,
left their boats, and proceeded on foot to Morar. Finding that the
chief of the Mackenzies had not returned from Mull, a large party
was sent to an island near which he must pass, which he did next
day in Maclean’s great galley, but he contrived to elude them, and
was soon out of reach of pursuit. He subsequently laid siege to the
castle of Strone, which surrendered to him, and was blown up.

In 1603, “the Clanranald of Glengarry, under Allan Macranald of
Lundie, made an irruption into Brae Ross, and plundered the lands of
Kilchrist, and others adjacent, belonging to the Mackenzies. This
foray was signalized by the merciless burning of a whole congregation
in the church of Kilchrist, while Glengarry’s piper marched round
the building, mocking the cries of the unfortunate inmates with
the well-known pibroch, which has been known, ever since, under
the name of Kilchrist, as the family tune of the Clanranald of
Glengarry.”[159] Eventually, Kenneth Mackenzie, afterwards Lord
Kintail, succeeded in obtaining a crown charter to the disputed
districts of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and others, dated in 1607.

Donald MacAngus of Glengarry died in 1603. By his wife, Margaret,
daughter of Alexander Macdonald, Captain of Clanranald, he had,
besides Angus above mentioned, two other sons, Alexander, who died
soon after his father, and Donald Macdonnell of Scothouse.

Alexander, by his wife, Jean, daughter of Allan Cameron of Lochiel,
had a son, Æneas Macdonnell of Glengarry, who was one of the first
in 1644 to join the royalist army under Montrose, and never left
that great commander, “for which,” says Bishop Wishart, “he deserves
a singular commendation for his bravery and steady loyalty to the
king, and his peculiar attachment to Montrose.”[160] Glengarry also
adhered faithfully to the cause of Charles II., and was forfeited
by Cromwell in 1651. As a reward for his faithful services he was
at the Restoration created a peer by the title of Lord Macdonnell
and Aross, by patent dated at Whitehall, 20th December 1660, the
honours being limited to the heirs male of his body. This led him to
claim not only the chiefship of Clanranald, but likewise that of the
whole Clandonald, as being the representative of Donald, the common
ancestor of the clan: and on 18th July 1672, the privy council issued
an order, commanding him as chief to exhibit before the council
several persons of the name of Macdonald, to find caution to keep the

The three branches of the Clanranald engaged in all the attempts
which were made for the restoration of the Stuarts. On 27th August
1715, Glengarry was one of the chiefs who attended the pretended
grand hunting match at Braemar, appointed by the Earl of Mar,
previous to the breaking out of the rebellion of that year. After
the suppression of the rebellion, the chief of Glengarry made his
submission to General Cadogan at Inverness. He died in 1724. By his
wife, Lady Mary Mackenzie, daughter of the third Earl of Seaforth, he
had a son, John Macdonnell, who succeeded him.

In 1745, six hundred of the Macdonnells of Glengarry joined Prince
Charles, under the command of Macdonnell of Lochgarry, who afterwards
escaped to France with the prince, and were at the battles of
Preston, Falkirk, and Culloden. The chief himself seems not to have
engaged in the rebellion. He was however arrested, and sent to London.

General Sir James Macdonnell, G.C.B., who distinguished himself when
lieut.-col. in the guards, by the bravery with which he held the
buildings of Hougomont, at the battle of Waterloo, was third son of
Duncan Macdonnell, Esq. of Glengarry. He was born at the family seat,
Inverness-shire, and died May 15, 1857.

Colonel Alexander Ranaldson Macdonnell of Glengarry, who, in January
1822, married Rebecca, second daughter of Sir William Forbes of
Pitsligo, baronet, was the last genuine specimen of a Highland chief.
His character in its more favourable features was drawn by Sir Walter
Scott, in his romance of Waverley, as Fergus MacIvor. He always wore
the dress and adhered to the style of living of his ancestors, and
when away from home in any of the Highland towns, he was followed
by a body of retainers, who were regularly posted as sentinels at
his door. He revived the claims of his family to the chiefship of
the Macdonalds, styling himself also of Clanranald. In January 1828
he perished in endeavouring to escape from a steamer which had gone
ashore. As his estate was very much mortgaged and encumbered, his
son was compelled to dispose of it, and to emigrate to Australia,
with his family and clan. The estate was purchased by the Marquis of
Huntly from the chief, and in 1840 it was sold to Lord Ward (Earl of
Dudley, Feb. 13, 1860,) for £91,000. In 1860 his lordship sold it to
Edward Ellice, Esq. of Glenquoich, for £120,000.

The principal families descended from the house of Glengarry, were
the Macdonnells of Barrisdale, in Knoydart, Greenfield, and Lundie.

The strength of the Macdonalds has at all times been considerable. In
1427, the Macdonnells of Garmoran and Lochaber mustered 2000 men; in
1715, the whole clan furnished 2820; and in 1745, 2330. In a memorial
drawn up by President Forbes of Culloden, and transmitted to the
government soon after the insurrection in 1745, the force of every
clan is detailed, according to the best information which the author
of the report could procure at the time. This enumeration, which
proceeds upon the supposition that the chieftain calculated on the
military services of the youthful, the most hardy, and the bravest of
his followers, omitting those who, from advanced age, tender years,
or natural debility, were unable to carry arms, gives the following
statement of the respective forces of the different branches of the

  Macdonald of Sleat,           700
  Macdonald of Clanranald,      700
  Macdonell of Glengarry,       500
  Macdonell of Keppoch,         300
  Macdonald of Glencoe,         130
                   In all,     2330

Next to the Campbells, therefore, who could muster about 5000 men,
the Macdonalds were by far the most numerous and powerful clan in the
Highlands of Scotland.

“The clans or septs,” says Mr Smibert,[161] “sprung from the
Macdonalds, or adhering to and incorporated with that family,
though bearing subsidiary names, were very numerous. One point
peculiarly marks the Gael of the coasts, as this great connection
has already been called, and that is the device of a _Lymphad_ or
old-fashioned _Oared Galley_, assumed and borne in their arms.
It indicates strongly a common origin and site. The Macdonalds,
Maclachlans, Macdougals, Macneils, Macleans, and Campbells, as well
as the Macphersons, Mackintoshes, and others, carry, and have always
carried, such a galley in their armorial shields. Some families of
Macdonald descent do not bear it; and indeed, at most, it simply
proves a common coast origin, or an early location by the western
lochs and lakes.”


[136] Chalmers’ _Caledonia_, vol. i. p. 266.

[137] _Western Highlands_, p. 7.

[138] “Both Dugall and Reginald were called Kings of the Isles at
the same time that Reginald, the son of Godred the Black, was styled
King of Man and the Isles; and in the next generation we find mention
of these kings of the Isles of the race of Somerled existing at one
time.” The word _king_ with the Norwegians therefore corresponds to
Magnate.--Gregory, p. 17.

[139] “The seniority of Roderick, son of Reginald, has not been
universally admitted, some authors making Donald the elder by
birth. But the point is of little moment, seeing that the direct
and legitimate line of Roderick, who, with his immediate progeny,
held a large portion of the Isles, terminated in a female in the
third generation, when the succession of the house of Somerled
fell indisputably to the descendants of Donald, second grandson
of Somerled, and head of the entire and potent clan of the
Macdonalds.”--Smibert, p. 20.

[140] In the list of the Barons who assembled at Scone in 1284 to
declare Margaret, the Maid of Norway, heiress to the crown, he
appears under the name of _Allangus filius Roderici_.

[141] “The Lordship of Garmoran (also called Garbh-chrioch)
comprehends the districts of Moidart, Arisaig, Morar, and
Knoydart.”--Gregory, p. 27.

[142] The properties of Moidart, Arisaig, Morar, and Knoidart, on the
mainland, and the isles of Uist, Barra, Rum, Egg, and Harris, were
assigned and confirmed to him and his heirs by charter dated at Scone
March 9, 1371-2.

[143] For details, see vol. i., p. 69, _et seq._

[144] See vol. i. p. 73.

[145] “The authority of Mr Skene is usually to be received as of
no common weight, but the account given by him of this portion of
the Macdonald annals does not consist with unquestionable facts.
As such, the statements in the national collections of _Foedera_
(Treaties), and the _Records of Parliament_, ought certainly to be
regarded; and a preference must be given to their testimony over
the counter-assertions of ancient private annalists. Some of the
latter parties seem to assert that John II., who had no children
by Elizabeth Livingston (daughter of Lord Livingston), had yet ‘a
natural son begotten of Macduffie of Colonsay’s daughter, and Angus
Og, his legitimate son, by the Earl of Angus’s daughter.’ No mention
of this Angus’ marriage occurs in any one public document relating to
the Lords of the Isles, or to the Douglases, then Earls of Angus. On
the other hand, the acknowledged wife of John of the Isles, Elizabeth
Livingston, was certainly alive in 1475, at which date he, among
other charges, is accused of making ‘his bastard son’ a lieutenant to
him in ‘insurrectionary convocations of the lieges;’ and Angus could
therefore come of no second marriage. He indubitably is the same
party still more distinctly named in subsequent Parliamentary Records
as ‘Angus of the Isles, _bastard son_ to umquhile John of the Isles.’
The attribution of noble and legitimate birth to Angus took its
origin, without doubt, in the circumstance of John’s want of children
by marriage having raised his natural son to a high degree of power
in the clan, which the active character of Angus well fitted him to
use as he willed.”--Smibert’s _Clans_ pp. 23, 24.

[146] Gregory (p. 52) says this combat was fought in a bay in the
Isle of Mull, near Tobermory.

[147] See Gregory’s _Highlands_, p. 54.

[148] Gregory, p. 581.

[149] Gregory’s _Highlands_, p. 61.

[150] Smibert’s _Clans_, p. 25.

[151] Gregory’s _Highlands_, p. 297.

[152] Gregory’s _Highlands_, p. 330.

[153] Gregory’s _Highlands and Isles_, p. 312.

[154] Vol. i., chap. x.

[155] _Highlands and Isles_, p. 109.

[156] _Highlands and Isles_, p. 415.

[157] Gregory’s _Highlands and Isles_, page 66.

[158] _Highlands and Isles_, p. 417, Note.

[159] _Gregory’s Highlands_, pp. 301-303.

[160] _Memoirs_, p. 155.

[161] _Clans_, 29.


  The Macdougalls--Bruce’s adventures with the Macdougalls of
  Lorn--The Brooch of Lorn--The Stewarts acquire Lorn--Macdougalls
  of Raray, Gallanach, and Scraba--Macalisters--Siol
  Gillevray--Macneills--Partly of Norse descent--Two branches
  of Barra and Gigha--Sea exploits of the former--Ruari the
  Turbulent’s two families--Gigha Macneills--Macneills of
  Gullochallie, Carskeay, and Tirfergus--The chiefship--Macneills
  of Colonsay--Maclauchlans--Kindred to the Lamonds and MacEwens
  of Otter--Present representative--Castle Lachlan--Force of the
  clan--Cadets--MacEwens--Macdougall Campbells of Craignish--Policy of
  Argyll Campbells--Lamonds--Massacred by the Campbells--The laird of
  Lamond and MacGregor of Glenstrae.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Cypress; according to others, Bell Heath.]

The next clan that demands our notice is that of the Macdougalls,
Macdugalls, Macdovals, Macdowalls, for in all these ways is the
name spelled. The clan derives its descent from Dugall, who was
the eldest son of Somerled, the common ancestor of the clan Donald;
and it has hitherto been supposed, that Alexander de Ergadia, the
undoubted ancestor of the clan Dugall, who first appears in the year
1284, was the son of Ewen de Ergadia, who figured so prominently
at the period of the cession of the Isles. This opinion, however,
Mr Skene conceives to be erroneous; first, because Ewen would seem
to have died without leaving male issue; and, secondly, because it
is contradicted by the manuscript of 1450, which states that the
clan Dugall, as well as the clan Rory and the clan Donald, sprung
not from Ewen, but from Ranald, the son of Somerled, through his
son Dugall, from whom indeed they derived their name. Mr Smibert’s
remarks, however, on this point are deserving of attention. “It
seems very evident,” he says, “that they formed one of the primitive
branches of the roving or stranger tribes of visitants to Scotland
of the Irish, or at least Celtic race. Their mere name puts the fact
almost beyond doubt. It also distinguishes them clearly from the
Norsemen of the Western Isles, who were always styled _Fion-galls_,
that is, Fair Strangers (Rovers, or Pirates). The common account of
the origin of the Macdougalls is, that they sprung from a son or
grandson of Somerled, of the name of Dougal. But though a single
chieftain of that appellation may have flourished in the primitive
periods of Gaelic story, it appears most probable, from many
circumstances, that the clan derived their name from their descent
and character generally. They were Dhu-Galls, ‘black strangers.’
The son or grandson of Somerled, who is said to have specially
founded the Macdougall clan, lived in the 12th century. In the 13th,
however, they were numerous and strong enough to oppose Bruce, and
it is therefore out of the question to suppose that the descendant
of Somerled could do more than consolidate or collect an already
existing tribe, even if it is to be admitted as taking from him its

[Illustration: MACDOUGALL. (Tartan)]

The first appearance which this family makes in history is at the
convention which was held in the year 1284. In the list of those
who attended on that occasion, we find the name of Alexander de
Ergadia, whose presence was probably the consequence of his holding
his lands by a crown charter; but from this period we lose sight of
him entirely, until the reign of Robert Bruce, when the strenuous
opposition offered by the Lord of Lorn and by his son John to the
succession of that king, restored his name to history, in connection
with that of Bruce. Alister having married the third daughter of
the Red Comyn, whom Bruce slew in the Dominican church at Dumfries,
became the mortal enemy of the king; and, upon more than one
occasion, during the early part of his reign, succeeded in reducing
him to the greatest straits.

Bruce, after his defeat at Methven, on the 19th of June 1306,
withdrew to the mountainous parts of Breadalbane, and approached the
borders of Argyleshire. His followers did not exceed three hundred
men, who, disheartened by defeat, and exhausted by privation, were
not in a condition to encounter a superior force. In this situation,
however, he was attacked by Macdougall of Lorn, at the head of a
thousand men, part of whom were Macnabs, who had joined the party
of John Baliol; and, after a severe conflict, he was compelled to
abandon the field. In the retreat from Dalree, where the battle had
been fought, the king was hotly pursued, and especially by three of
the clansmen of Lorn, probably personal attendants or _henchmen_
of the Macdougalls, who appear to have resolved to slay the Bruce
or die. These followed the retreating party, and when King Robert
entered a narrow pass, threw themselves suddenly upon him. The king
turning hastily round, cleft the skull of one with his battle-axe.
“The second had grasped the stirrup, and Robert fixed and held him
there by pressing down his foot, so that the captive was dragged
along the ground as if chained to the horse. In the meantime, the
third assailant had sprung from the hillside to the back of the
horse, and sat behind the king. The latter turned half round and
forced the Highlander forward to the front of the saddle, where ‘he
clave the head to the harns.’ The second assailant was still hanging
by the stirrup, and Robert now struck at him vigorously, and slew
him at the first blow.” Whether the story is true or not, and it is
by no means improbable, it shows the reputation for gigantic strength
which the doughty Bruce had in his day. It is said to have been in
this contest that the king lost the magnificent brooch, since famous
as the “brooch of Lorn.” This highly-prized trophy was long preserved
as a remarkable relic in the family of Macdougall of Dunolly, and
after having been carried off during the siege of Dunolly Castle,
the family residence, it was, about forty years ago, again restored
to the family.[163] In his day of adversity the Macdougalls were the
most persevering and dangerous of all King Robert’s enemies.

But the time for retribution at length arrived. When Robert Bruce
had firmly established himself on the throne of Scotland, one of the
first objects to which he directed his attention, was to crush his
old enemies the Macdougalls,[164] and to revenge the many injuries
he had suffered at their hands. With this view, he marched into
Argyleshire, determined to lay waste the country, and take possession
of Lorn. On advancing, he found John of Lorn and his followers posted
in a formidable defile between Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe, which it
seemed impossible to force, and almost hopeless to turn. But having
sent a party to ascend the mountain, gain the heights, and threaten
the enemy’s rear, Bruce immediately attacked them in front, with the
utmost fury. For a time the Macdougalls sustained the onset bravely;
but at length, perceiving themselves in danger of being assailed
in the rear, as well as the front, and thus completely isolated
in the defile, they betook themselves to flight. Unable to escape
from the mountain gorge, they were slaughtered without mercy, and
by this reverse, their power was completely broken. Bruce then laid
waste Argyleshire, besieged and took the castle of Dunstaffnage,
and received the submission of Alister of Lorn, the father of John,
who now fled to England. Alister was allowed to retain the district
of Lorn: but the rest of his possessions were forfeited and given
to Angus of Isla, who had all along remained faithful to the king’s

When John of Lorn arrived as a fugitive in England, King Edward was
making preparations for that expedition, which terminated in the
ever-memorable battle of Bannockburn. John was received with open
arms, appointed to the command of the English fleet, and ordered
to sail for Scotland, in order to co-operate with the land forces.
But the total defeat and dispersion of the latter soon afterwards
confirmed Bruce in possession of the throne; and being relieved from
the apprehension of any further aggression on the part of the English
kings he resolved to lose no time in driving the Lord of Lorn from
the Isles, where he had made his appearance with the fleet under
his command. Accordingly, on his return from Ireland, whither he
had accompanied his brother Edward, he directed his course towards
the Isles, and having arrived at Tarbet, is said to have caused his
galleys to be dragged over the isthmus which connects Kintyre and
Knapdale. This bold proceeding was crowned with success. The English
fleet was surprised and dispersed; and its commander having been made
prisoner, was sent to Dumbarton, and afterwards to Lochleven, where
he was detained in confinement during the remainder of King Robert’s

In the early part of the reign of David II., John’s son, John or
Ewen, married a grand-daughter of Robert Bruce, and through her
not only recovered the ancient possessions of his family, but even
obtained a grant of the property of Glenlyon. These extensive
territories, however, were not destined to remain long in the family.
Ewen died without male issue; and his two daughters having married,
the one John Stewart of Innermeath, and the other his brother Robert
Stewart, an arrangement was entered into between these parties, in
virtue of which the descendants of John Stewart acquired the whole of
the Lorn possessions, with the exception of the castle of Dunolly and
its dependencies, which remained to the other branch of the family;
and thus terminated the power of this branch of the descendants of
Somerled. The chieftainship of the clan now descended to the family
of Dunolly, which continued to enjoy the small portion which remained
to them of their ancient possessions until the year 1715, when the
representative of the family incurred the penalty of forfeiture for
his accession to the insurrection of that period; thus, by a singular
contrast of circumstances, “losing the remains of his inheritance
to replace upon the throne the descendants of those princes, whose
accession his ancestors had opposed at the expense of their feudal
grandeur.” The estate, however, was restored to the family in
1745, as a reward for their not having taken any part in the more
formidable rebellion of that year. In President Forbes’s Report on
the strength of the clans, the force of the Macdougalls is estimated
at 200 men.

The Macdougalls of Raray, represented by Macdougall of Ardencaple,
were a branch of the house of Lorn. The principal cadets of the
family of Donolly were those of Gallanach and Soraba. The Macdougalls
still hold possessions in Galloway, where, however, they usually
style themselves Macdowall.


A clan at one time of considerable importance, claiming connection
with the great clan Donald, is the Macalisters, or MacAlesters,
formerly inhabiting the south of Knapdale, and the north of Kintyre
in Argyleshire. They are traced to Alister or Alexander, a son of
Angus Mor, of the clan Donald. Exposed to the encroachments of the
Campbells, their principal possessions became, ere long, absorbed by
different branches of that powerful clan. The chief of this sept
of the Macdonalds is Somerville MacAlester of Loup in Kintyre, and
Kennox in Ayrshire. In 1805 Charles Somerville MacAlester, Esq. of
Loup, assumed the name and arms of Somerville in addition to his own,
in right of his wife, Janet Somerville, inheritrix of the entailed
estate of Kennox, whom he had married in 1792.

From their descent from Alexander, eldest son of Angus Mor, Lord
of the Isles and Kintyre in 1281, the grandson of Somerled, thane
of Argyle, the MacAlesters claim to be the representatives, after
MacDonell of Glengarry, of the ancient Lords of the Isles, as heirs
male of Donald, grandson of Somerled.

After the forfeiture of the Lords of the Isles in 1493, the
MacAlesters became so numerous as to form a separate and independent
clan. At that period their chief was named John or Ian Dubh, whose
residence was at Ard Phadriuc or Ardpatrick in South Knapdale. One of
the family, Charles MacAlester, is mentioned as steward of Kintyre in

Alexander MacAlester was one of those Highland chieftains who were
held responsible, by the act “called the Black Band,” passed in 1587,
for the peaceable behaviour of their clansmen and the “broken men”
who lived on their lands. He died when his son, Godfrey or Gorrie
MacAlester, was yet under age.

In 1618 the laird of Loup was named one of the twenty barons and
gentlemen of the shire of Argyle who were made responsible for
the good rule of the earldom during Argyll’s absence. He married
Margaret, daughter of Colin Campbell of Kilberry, and though, as
a vassal of the Marquis of Argyll, he took no part in the wars of
the Marquis of Montrose, many of his clan fought on the side of the

The principal cadet of the family of Loup was MacAlester of Tarbert.
There is also MacAlister of Glenbarr, county of Argyle.


Under the head of the Siol or clan Gillevray, Mr Skene gives other
three clans said by the genealogists to have been descended from the
family of Somerled, and included by Mr Skene under the Gallgael.
The three clans are those of the Macneills, the Maclauchlans, and
the Macewens. According to the MS. of 1450, the Siol Gillevray are
descended from a certain Gillebride, surnamed King of the Isles,
who lived in the 12th century, and who derived his descent from a
brother of Suibne, the ancestor of the Macdonalds, who was slain in
the year 1034. Even Mr Skene, however, doubts the genealogy by which
this Gillebride is derived from an ancestor of the Macdonalds in the
beginning of the 11th century, but nevertheless, the traditionary
affinity which is thus shown to have existed between these clans
and the race of Somerled at so early a period, he thinks seems to
countenance the notion that they had all originally sprung from the
same stock. The original seat of this race appears to have been in
Lochaber. On the conquest of Argyle by Alexander II., they were
involved in the ruin which overtook all the adherents of Somerled;
with the exception of the Macneills, who consented to hold their
lands of the crown, and the Maclauchlans, who regained their former
consequence by means of marriage with an heiress of the Lamonds.
After the breaking up of the clan, the other branches appear to have
followed, as their chief, Macdougall Campbell of Craignish, the head
of a family, which is descended from the kindred race of MacInnes of


[Illustration: BADGE.--Sea Ware.]

The Macneills consisted of two independent branches, the Macneills of
Barra and the Macneills of Gigha, said to be descended from brothers.
Their badge was the sea ware, but they had different armorial
bearings, and from this circumstance, joined to the fact that they
were often opposed to each other in the clan fights of the period,
and that the Christian names of the one, with the exception of Neill,
were not used by the other, Mr Gregory thinks the tradition of their
common descent erroneous. Part of their possessions were completely
separated, and situated at a considerable distance from the rest.

The clan Neill were among the secondary vassal tribes of the lords
of the Isles, and its heads appear to have been of Norse or Danish
origin. Mr Smibert thinks this probable from the fact that the
Macneills were lords of Castle Swen, plainly a Norse term. “The
clan,” he says,[165] “was in any case largely Gaelic, to a certainty.
We speak of the fundamental line of the chiefs mainly, when we say
that the Macneills appear to have at least shared the blood of the
old Scandinavian inhabitants of the western islands. The names of
those of the race first found in history are partly indicative of
such a lineage. The isle of Barra and certain lands in Uist were
chartered to a Macneill in 1427; and in 1472, a charter of the
Macdonald family is witnessed by Hector _Mactorquil_ Macneill, keeper
of Castle Swen. The appellation ‘Mac-Torquil,’ half Gaelic, half
Norse, speaks strongly in favour of the supposition that the two
races were at this very time in the act of blending with one people.
After all, we proceed not beyond the conclusion, that, by heirs male
or heirs female, the founders of the house possessed a sprinkling of
the blood of the ancient Norwegian occupants of the western isles and
coasts, interfused with that of the native Gael of Albyn, and also of
the Celtic visitants from Ireland. The proportion of Celtic blood,
beyond doubt, is far the largest in the veins of the clan generally.”

About the beginning of the 15th century, the Macneills were a
considerable clan in Knapdale, Argyleshire. As this district was not
then included in the sheriffdom of Argyle, it is probable that their
ancestor had consented to hold his lands of the crown.

The first of the family on record is Nigellus Og, who obtained
from Robert Bruce a charter of Barra and some lands in Kintyre.
His great-grandson, Gilleonan Roderick Muchard Macneill, in 1427,
received from Alexander, Lord of the Isles, a charter of that island.
In the same charter were included the lands of Boisdale in South
Uist, which lies about eight miles distant from Barra. With John
Garve Maclean he disputed the possession of that island, and was
killed by him in Coll. His grandson, Gilleonan, took part with John,
the old Lord of the Isles, against his turbulent son, Angus, and
fought on his side at the battle of Bloody Bay. He was chief of this
sept or division of the Macneills in 1493, at the forfeiture of the
lordship of the Isles.

The Gigha Macneills are supposed to have sprung from Torquil
Macneill, designated in his charter, “filius Nigelli,” who, in the
early part of the 15th century, received from the Lord of the Isles
a charter of the lands of Gigha and Taynish, with the constabulary
of Castle Sweyn, in Knapdale. He had two sons, Neill his heir, and
Hector, ancestor of the family of Taynish. Malcolm Macneill of Gigha,
the son of Neill, who is first mentioned in 1478, was chief of this
sept of the Macneills in 1493. After that period the Gigha branch
followed the banner of Macdonald of Isla and Kintyre, while the Barra
Macneills ranged themselves under that of Maclean of Dowart.

In 1545 Gilliganan Macneill of Barra was one of the barons and
council of the Isles who accompanied Donald Dubh, styling himself
Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross, to Ireland, to swear allegiance
to the king of England. His elder son, Roderick or Ruari Macneill,
was killed at the battle of Glenlivet, by a shot from a fieldpiece,
on 3d Oct. 1594. He left three sons--Roderick, his heir, called
Ruari the turbulent, John, and Murdo. During the memorable and
most disastrous feud which happened between the Macleans and the
Macdonalds at this period, the Barra Macneills and the Gigha branch
of the same clan fought on different sides.

The Macneills of Barra were expert seamen, and did not scruple to act
as pirates upon occasion. An English ship having been seized off the
island of Barra by Ruari the turbulent, Queen Elizabeth complained of
this act of piracy. The laird of Barra was in consequence summoned to
appear at Edinburgh, to answer for his conduct, but he treated the
summons with contempt. All the attempts made to apprehend him proving
unsuccessful, Mackenzie, tutor of Kintail, undertook to effect
his capture by a stratagem frequently put in practice against the
island chiefs when suspecting no hostile design. Under the pretence
of a friendly visit, he arrived at Macneill’s castle of Chisamul
(pronounced Kisimul), the ruins of which stand on an insulated rock
in Castlebay, on the south-east end of Barra, and invited him and
all his attendants on board his vessel. There they were well plied
with liquor, until they were all overpowered with it. The chief’s
followers were then sent on shore, while he himself was carried a
prisoner to Edinburgh. Being put upon his trial, he confessed his
seizure of the English ship, but pleaded in excuse that he thought
himself bound by his loyalty to avenge, by every means in his power,
the fate of his majesty’s mother, so cruelly put to death by the
queen of England. This politic answer procured his pardon, but his
estate was forfeited, and given to the tutor of Kintail. The latter
restored it to its owner, on condition of his holding it of him, and
paying him sixty merks Scots, as a yearly feu duty. It had previously
been held of the crown. Some time thereafter Sir James Macdonald
of Sleat married a daughter of the tutor of Kintail, who made over
the superiority to his son-in-law, and it is now possessed by Lord
Macdonald, the representative of the house of Sleat.

The old chief of Barra, Ruari the turbulent, had several sons by a
lady of the family of Maclean, with whom, according to an ancient
practice in the Highlands, he had _handfasted_, instead of marrying
her. He afterwards married a sister of the captain of the Clanranald,
and by her also he had sons. To exclude the senior family from the
succession, the captain of the Clanranald took the part of his
nephews, whom he declared to be the only legitimate sons of the
Barra chief. Having apprehended the eldest son of the first family
for having been concerned in the piratical seizure of a ship of
Bourdeaux, he conveyed him to Edinburgh for trial, but he died there
soon after. His brothers-german, in revenge, assisted by Maclean of
Dowart, seized Neill Macneill, the eldest son of the second family,
and sent him to Edinburgh, to be tried as an actor in the piracy of
the same Bourdeaux ship; and, thinking that their father was too
partial to their half brothers, they also seized the old chief, and
placed him in irons. Neill Macneill, called Weyislache, was found
innocent, and liberated through the influence of his uncle. Barra’s
elder sons, on being charged to exhibit their father before the
privy council, refused, on which they were proclaimed rebels, and
commission was given to the captain of the Clanranald against them.
In consequence of these proceedings, which occurred about 1613,
Clanranald was enabled to secure the peaceable succession of his
nephew to the estate of Barra, on the death of his father, which
happened soon after.[166]

The island of Barra and the adjacent isles are still possessed by the
descendant and representative of the family of Macneill. Their feudal
castle of Chisamul has been already mentioned. It is a building of
hexagonal form, strongly built, with a wall above thirty feet high,
and anchorage for small vessels on every side of it. Martin, who
visited Barra in 1703, in his _Description of the Western Islands_,
says that the Highland Chroniclers or sennachies alleged that the
then chief of Barra was the 34th lineal descendant from the first
Macneill who had held it. He relates that the inhabitants of this
and the other islands belonging to Macneill were in the custom of
applying to him for wives and husbands, when he named the persons
most suitable for them, and gave them a bottle of strong waters for
the marriage feast.

The chief of the Macneills of Gigha, in the first half of the 16th
century, was Neill Macneill, who was killed, with many gentlemen of
his tribe, in 1530, in a feud with Allan Maclean of Torlusk, called
_Ailen nan Sop_, brother of Maclean of Dowart. His only daughter,
Annabella, made over the lands of Gigha to her natural brother,
Neill. He sold Gigha to James Macdonald of Isla in 1554, and died
without legitimate issue in the latter part of the reign of Queen

On the extinction of the direct male line, Neill Macneill vic Eachan,
who had obtained the lands of Taynish, became heir male of the
family. His descendant, Hector Macneill of Taynish, purchased in 1590
the island of Gigha from John Campbell of Calder, who had acquired
it from Macdonald of Isla, so that it again became the property
of a Macneill. The estates of Gigha and Taynish were possessed by
his descendants till 1780, when the former was sold to Macneill of
Colonsay, a cadet of the family.

The representative of the male line of the Macneills of Taynish
and Gigha, Roger Hamilton Macneill of Taynish, married Elizabeth,
daughter and heiress of Hamilton Price, Esq. of Raploch, Lanarkshire,
with whom he got that estate, and assumed, in consequence, the name
of Hamilton. His descendants are now designated of Raploch.

The principal cadets of the Gigha Macneills, besides the Taynish
family, were those of Gallochallie, Carskeay, and Tirfergus. Torquil,
a younger son of Lachlan Macneill Buy of Tirfergus, acquired the
estate of Ugadale in Argyleshire, by marriage with the heiress of
the Mackays in the end of the 17th century. The present proprietor
spells his name Macneal. From Malcolm Beg Macneill, celebrated in
Highland tradition for his extraordinary prowess and great strength,
son of John Oig Macneill of Gallochallie, in the reign of James VI.,
sprung the Macneills of Arichonan. Malcolm’s only son, Neill Oig, had
two sons, John, who succeeded him, and Donald Macneill of Crerar,
ancestor of the Macneills of Colonsay, now the possessors of Gigha.
Many cadets of the Macneills of Gigha settled in the north of Ireland.

Both branches of the clan Neill laid claim to the chiefship.
According to tradition, it has belonged, since the middle of the 16th
century, to the house of Barra. Under the date of 1550, a letter
appears in the register of the privy council, addressed to “Torkill
Macneill, chief and principal of the clan and surname of Macnelis.”
Mr Skene conjectures this Torkill to have been the hereditary
keeper of Castle Sweyn, and connected with neither branch of the
Macneills. He is said, however, to have been the brother of Neill
Macneill of Gigha, killed in 1530, as above mentioned, and to have,
on his brother’s death, obtained a grant of the non-entries of Gigha
as representative of the family. If this be correct, according to
the above designation, the chiefship was in the Gigha line. Torquil
appears to have died without leaving any direct succession.

The first of the family of Colonsay, Donald Macneill of Crerar, in
South Knapdale, exchanged that estate in 1700, with the Duke of
Argyll, for the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay. The old possessors
of these two islands, which are only separated by a narrow sound,
dry at low water, were the Macduffies or Macphies. Donald’s
great-grandson, Archibald Macneill of Colonsay, sold that island to
his cousin, John Macneill, who married Hester, daughter of Duncan
Macneill of Dunmore, and had six sons. His eldest son, Alexander,
younger of Colonsay, became the purchaser of Gigha. Two of his
other sons, Duncan, Lord Colonsay, and Sir John Macneill, have
distinguished themselves, the one as a lawyer and judge, and the
other as a diplomatist.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Mountain Ash.]

Maclachlan, or Maclauchlan, is the name of another clan classified
by Skene as belonging to the great race of the Siol Conn, and in the
MS., so much valued by this writer, of 1450, the Maclachlans are
traced to Gilchrist, a grandson of that Anradan or Henry, from whom
all the clans of the Siol Gillevray are said to be descended. They
possessed the barony of Strathlachlan in Cowal, and other extensive
possessions in the parishes of Glassrie and Kilmartin, and on Loch
Awe side, which were separated from the main seat of the family by
Loch Fyne.

They were one of those Gaelic tribes who adopted the oared galley
for their special device, as indicative of their connection, either
by residence or descent, with the Isles. An ancestor of the family,
Lachlan Mor, who lived in the 13th century, is described in the
Gaelic MS. of 1450, as “son of Patrick, son of Gilchrist, son of De
dalan, called the clumsy, son of Anradan, from whom are descended
also the clan Neill.”

[Illustration: MACLACHLAN. (Tartan)]

By tradition the Maclachlans are said to have come from Ireland,
their original stock being the O’Loughlins of Meath.

According to the Irish genealogies, the clan Lachlan, the Lamonds,
and the MacEwens of Otter, were kindred tribes, being descended from
brothers who were sons of De dalan above referred to, and tradition
relates that they took possession of the greater part of the district
of Cowal, from Toward Point to Strachur at the same time; the Lamonds
being separated from the MacEwens by the river of Kilfinan, and
the MacEwens from the Maclachlans by the stream which separates
the parishes of Kilfinan and Strath Lachlan. De dalan, the common
ancestor of these families, is stated in ancient Irish genealogies to
have been the grandson of Hugh Atlaman, the head of the great family
of O’Neils, kings of Ireland.

About 1230, Gilchrist Maclachlan, who is mentioned in the manuscript
of 1450 as chief of the family of Maclachlan at the time, is a
witness to a charter of Kilfinan granted by Laumanus, ancestor of the

In 1292, Gilleskel Maclachlan got a charter of his lands in Ergadia
from Baliol.

In a document preserved in the treasury of Her Majesty’s Exchequer,
entitled “Les petitions de terre demandees en Escoce,” there is the
following entry,--“Item Gillescop Macloghlan ad demandi la Baronie de
Molbryde juvene, apelle Strath, que fu pris contre le foi de Roi.”
From this it appears that Gillespie Maclachlan was in possession
of the lands still retained by the family, during the occupation of
Scotland by Edward I. in 1296.[167]

In 1314, Archibald Maclachlan in Ergadia, granted to the Preaching
Friars of Glasgow forty shillings to be paid yearly out of his lands
of Kilbride, “juxta castrum meum quod dicitur Castellachlan.” He died
before 1322, and was succeeded by his brother Patrick. The latter
married a daughter of James, Steward of Scotland, and had a son,
Lachlan, who succeeded him. Lachlan’s son, Donald, confirmed in 1456,
the grant by his predecessor Archibald, to the Preaching Friars of
Glasgow of forty shillings yearly out of the lands of Kilbride, with
an additional annuity of six shillings and eightpence “from his lands
of Kilbryde near Castellachlan.”[168]

Lachlan, the 15th chief, dating from the time that written evidence
can be adduced, was served heir to his father, 23d September 1719.
He married a daughter of Stewart of Appin, and was killed at
Culloden, fighting on the side of Prince Charles. The 18th chief, his
great-grandson, Robert Maclachlan of Maclachlan, convener and one
of the deputy-lieutenants of Argyleshire, married in 1823, Helen,
daughter of William A. Carruthers of Dormont, Dumfries-shire, without
issue. His brother, the next heir, George Maclachlan, Esq., has
three sons and a daughter. The family seat, Castle Lachlan, built
about 1790, near the old and ruinous tower, formerly the residence
of the chiefs, is situated in the centre of the family estate, which
is eleven miles in length, and, on an average, a mile and a half
in breadth, and stretches in one continued line along the eastern
side of Loch Fyne. The effective force of the clan previous to the
rebellion of 1745, was estimated at 300 men. Their original seat,
according to Mr Skene, appears to have been in Lochaber, where a very
old branch of the family has from the earliest period been settled as
native men of the Camerons.

In Argyleshire also are the families of Maclachlan of Craiginterve,
Inchconnell, &c., and in Stirlingshire, of Auchintroig. The
Maclachlans of Drumblane in Monteith were of the Lochaber branch.


Upon a rocky promontory situated on the coast of Lochfyne, may still
be discerned the vestige of a building, called in Gaelic Chaistel
Mhic Eobhuin, or the castle of MacEwen. In the Old Statistical
Account of the parish of Kilfinnan, quoted by Skene, this MacEwen
is described as the chief of a clan, and proprietor of the northern
division of the parish called Otter; and in the manuscript of 1450,
which contains the genealogy of the _Clan Eoghan na Hoitreic_,
or Clan Ewen of Otter, they are derived from Anradan, the common
ancestor of the Maclauchlans and the Macneills. This family soon
became extinct, and their property gave title to a branch of the
Campbells, by whom it appears to have been subsequently acquired,
though in what manner we have no means of ascertaining.


Under the name of _Siol Eachern_ are included by Mr Skene the
Macdougall Campbells of Craignish, and the Lamonds of Lamond, both
very old clans in Argyleshire, and supposed to have been originally
of the same race.


“The policy of the Argyll family,” says Mr Skene, “led them to employ
every means for the acquisition of property, and the extension of the
clan. One of the arts which they used for the latter purpose was to
compel those clans which had become dependant upon them to adopt the
name of Campbell; and this, when successful, was generally followed
at an after period, by the assertion that that clan was descended
from the house of Argyll. In general, the clans thus adopted into the
race of Campbell, are sufficiently marked out by their being promoted
only to the honour of their being an illegitimate branch; but the
tradition of the country invariably distinguishes between the real
Campbells, and those who were compelled to adopt their name.” Of
the policy in question, the Campbells of Craignish are said to have
afforded a remarkable instance. According to the Argyll system, as
here described, they are represented as the descendants of Dugall,
an illegitimate son of a Campbell, who lived in the twelfth century.
But the common belief amongst the people is, that their ancient
name was MacEachern, and that they were of the same race with the
Macdonalds; nor are there wanting circumstances which seem to give
countenance to this tradition. Their arms are charged with the galley
of the Isles, from the mast of which depends a shield exhibiting
some of the distinctive bearings of the Campbells; and, what is even
more to the purpose, the manuscript of 1450 contains a genealogy
of the MacEacherns, in which they are derived from a certain Nicol
MacMurdoch, who lived in the twelfth century. Besides, when the
MacGillevrays and MacIans of Morvern and Ardgour were broken up and
dispersed, many of their septs, although not resident on the property
of the Craignish family, acknowledged its head as their chief. But
as the MacGillevrays and the MacIans were two branches of the same
clan, which had separated as early as the twelfth century; and as
the MacEacherns appear to have been of the same race, Murdoch, the
first of the clan, being contemporary with Murdoch the father of
Gillebride, the ancestor of the Siol Gillevray; it may be concluded
that the Siol Eachern and the MacIans were of the same clan; and
this is further confirmed by the circumstance, that there was an
old family of MacEacherns which occupied Kingerloch, bordering on
Ardgour, the ancient property of the MacIans. That branch of the
Siol Eachern which settled at Craignish, were called Clan Dugall
Craignish, and obtained, it is said, the property known by this
name from the brother of Campbell of Lochow, in the reign of David
II.[169] The lands of Colin Campbell of Lochow having been forfeited
in that reign, his brother, Gillespie Campbell, appears to have
obtained a grant of them from the crown; and it is not improbable
that the clan Dugall Craignish acquired from the latter their right
to the property of Craignish. After the restoration of the Lochow
family, by the removal of the forfeiture, that of Craignish were
obliged to hold their lands, not of the crown, but of the house of
Argyll. Nevertheless, they continued for some time a considerable
family, maintaining a sort of independence, until at length, yielding
to the influence of that policy which has already been described,
they merged, like most of the neighbouring clans, in that powerful
race by whom they were surrounded.[170]


[Illustration: BADGE.--Crab-Apple Tree.]

It is an old and accredited tradition in the Highlands, that the
Lamonds or Lamonts were the most ancient proprietors of Cowal, and
that the Stewarts, Maclauchlans, and Campbells obtained possession
of their property in that district by marriage with daughters of
the family. At an early period a very small part only of Cowal was
included in the sheriffdom of Upper Argyle, the remainder being
comprehended in that of Perth. It may, therefore, be presumed that,
on the conquest of Argyle by Alexander II., the lord of Lower Cowal
had submitted to the king, and obtained a crown charter. But, in
little more than half a century after that event, we find the High
Steward in possession of Lower Cowal, and the Maclauchlans in
possession of Strathlachlan. It appears, indeed, that, in 1242,
Alexander the High Steward of Scotland, married Jean, the daughter
of James, son of Angus MacRory, who is styled Lord of Bute; and,
from the manuscript of 1450, we learn that, about the same period,
Gilchrist Maclauchlan married the daughter of Lachlan MacRory;
from which it is probable that this Roderic or Rory was the third
individual who obtained a crown charter for Lower Cowal, and that
by these intermarriages the property passed from his family into
the hands of the Stewarts and the Machlauchlans. The coincidence of
these facts, with the tradition above-mentioned, would seem also to
indicate that Angus MacRory was the ancestor of the Lamonds.

After the marriage of the Steward with the heiress of Lamond, the
next of that race of whom any mention is made is Duncan MacFercher,
and “Laumanus,” son of Malcolm, and grandson of the same Duncan,
who appear to have granted to the monks of Paisley a charter of the
lands of Kilmore, near Lochgilp, and also of the lands “which they
and their predecessors held at Kilmun” (_quas nos et antecessores
nostri apud Kilmun habuerunt_). In the same year, “Laumanus,” the
son of Malcolm, also granted a charter of the lands of Kilfinnan,
which, in 1295, is confirmed by Malcolm, the son and heir of the
late “Laumanus” (_domini quondam Laumanis_). But in an instrument,
or deed, dated in 1466, between the monastery of Paisley and John
Lamond of Lamond, regarding the lands of Kilfinan, it is expressly
stated, that these lands had belonged to the ancestors of John
Lamond; and hence, it is evident, that the “Laumanus,” mentioned in
the previous deed, must have been one of the number, if not indeed
the chief and founder of the family. “From Laumanus,” says Mr Skene,
“the clan appear to have taken the name of Maclaman or Lamond, having
previously to this time borne the name of Macerachar, and Clan Mhic

The connection of this clan with that of Dugall Craignish, is
indicated by the same circumstances which point out the connection
of other branches of the tribe; for whilst the Craignish family
preserved its power it was followed by a great portion of the Clan
Mhic Earachar, although it possessed no feudal right to their
services. “There is one peculiarity connected with the Lamonds,”
says Mr Skene, “that although by no means a powerful clan, their
genealogy can be proved by charters, at a time when most other
Highland families are obliged to have recourse to tradition, and the
genealogies of their ancient sennachies; but their antiquity could
not protect the Lamonds from the encroachments of the Campbells, by
whom they were soon reduced to as small a portion of their original
possessions in Lower Cowal, as the other Argyleshire clans had been
of theirs.”[171] The Lamonds were a clan of the same description as
the Maclauchlans, and, like the latter, they have, notwithstanding
“the encroachments of the Campbells,” still retained a portion of
their ancient possessions. The chief of this family is Lamond of

According to Nisbet, the clan Lamond were originally from Ireland,
but whether they sprung from the Dalriadic colony, or from a still
earlier race in Cowal, it is certain that they possessed, at a very
early period, the superiority of the district. Their name continued
to be the prevailing one till the middle of the 17th century. In June
1646, certain chiefs of the clan Campbell in the vicinity of Dunoon
castle, determined upon obtaining the ascendency, took advantage of
the feuds and disorders of the period, to wage a war of extermination
against the Lamonds. The massacre of the latter by the Campbells,
that year, formed one of the charges against the Marquis of Argyll in
1661, although he does not seem to have been any party to it.

An interesting tradition is recorded of one of the lairds of Lamond,
who had unfortunately killed, in a sudden quarrel, the son of
MacGregor of Glenstrae, taking refuge in the house of the latter, and
claiming his protection, which was readily granted, he being ignorant
that he was the slayer of his son. On being informed, MacGregor
escorted him in safety to his own people. When the MacGregors were
proscribed, and the aged chief of Glenstrae had become a wanderer,
Lamond hastened to protect him and his family, and received them into
his house.


[162] _Clans_, 44, 45.

[163] Mr Smibert (_Clans_, p. 46) thus describes this interesting
relic:--“That ornament, as observed, is silver, and consists of
a circular plate, about four inches in diameter, having a tongue
like that of a common buckle on the under side. The upper side
is magnificently ornamented. First, from the margin rises a
neatly-formed rim, with hollows cut in the edge at certain distances,
like the embrasures in an embattled wall. From a circle within this
rim rise eight round tapering obelisks, about an inch and a quarter
high, finely cut, and each studded at top with a river pearl. Within
this circle of obelisks there is a second rim, also ornamented
with carved work, and within which rises a neat circular case,
occupying the whole centre of the brooch, and slightly overtopping
the obelisks. The exterior of this case, instead of forming a plain
circle, projects into eight semi-cylinders, which relieve it from
all appearance of heaviness. The upper part is likewise carved very
elegantly, and in the centre there is a large gem. This case may be
taken off, and within there is a hollow, which might have contained
any small articles upon which a particular value was set.”

[164] In referring to this incident in the first part of this work
(p. 63), the name “Stewart” (which had crept into the old edition)
was allowed to remain instead of that of “Macdougall.” The Stewarts
did not possess Lorn till some years after.

[165] _Clans_, p. 84.

[166] _Gregory’s Highlands and Isles_, p. 346.

[167] See _Sir Francis Palgrave’s Scottish Documents_, vol. i. p. 319.

[168] _Munimenta Fratrum Predicatorum de Glasgu. Maitland Club._

[169] “Nisbet, that acute heraldist,” says Smibert, “discovered an
old seal of the family, on which the words are, as nearly as they
can be made out, _S(igillum) Dugalli de Craignish_, showing that the
Campbells of Craignish were simply of the Dhu-Gall race. The seal is
very old, though noticed only by its use in 1500. It has the grand
mark upon it of the bearings of all the Gael of the Western Coasts,
namely, the Oared Galley.”

[170] Skene’s _Highlanders_.

[171] Skene’s _Highlanders_, vol. ii. part ii. chap. 4.


  Robertsons or Clan Donnachie--Macfarlanes--Campbells of Argyll and
  offshoots--Royal Marriage--Campbells of Breadalbane--Macarthur
  Campbells of Strachur--Campbells of Cawdor, Aberuchill,
  Ardnamurchan, Auchinbreck, Ardkinglass, Barcaldine, Dunstaffnage,
  Monzie--The Macleods of Lewis and Harris--Macleods of Rasay.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Fern or Brackens.]

Besides the clans already noticed, there are other two which,
according to Skene, are set down by the genealogists as having
originally belonged to the Gallgael or Celts of the Western Isles;
these are the Robertsons or clan Donnachie, and the Macfarlanes.

Tradition claims for the clan Donnachie a descent from the great
sept of the Macdonalds, their remote ancestor being said to have
been Duncan (hence the name _Donnachie_) the Fat, son of Angus
Mor, Lord of the Isles, in the reign of William the Lion. Smibert
thinks this is certainly the most feasible account of their origin.
Skene, however, endeavours to trace their descent from Duncan, King
of Scotland, eldest son of Malcolm III., their immediate ancestor,
according to him, having been Conan, second son of Henry, fourth and
last of the ancient Celtic Earls of Athole. This Conan, it is said,
received from his father, in the reign of Alexander II., the lands
of Generochy, afterwards called Strowan, in Gaelic _Struthan_--that
is, streamy. Conan’s great-grandson, Andrew, was styled of Athole,
_de Atholia_, which was the uniform designation of the family,
indicative, Mr Skene thinks, of their descent from the ancient Earls
of Athole. According to the same authority, it was from Andrew’s son,
Duncan, that the clan derived their distinctive appellation of the
clan _Donnachie_, or children of Duncan. Duncan is said to have been
twice married, and acquired by both marriages considerable territory
in the district of Rannoch. By his first wife he had a son, Robert de

As it is well known that Mr Skene’s Celtic prejudices are very
strong, and as his derivation of the Robertsons from Duncan, king
of Scotland, is to a great extent conjectural, it is only fair to
give the other side of the question, viz., the probability of their
derivation from the Celts of the Western Isles. We shall take the
liberty of quoting here Mr Smibert’s judicious and acute remarks on
this point. “There unquestionably exist doubts about the derivation
of the Robertsons from the Macdonalds; but the fact of their
acquiring large possessions at so early a period in Athole, seems to
be decisive of their descent from some great and strong house among
the Western Celts. And what house was more able so to endow its
scions than that of Somerled, whose heads were the kings of the west
of Scotland? The Somerled or Macdonald power, moreover, extended into
Athole beyond all question; and, indeed, it may be said to have been
almost the sole power which could so have planted there one of its
offshoots, apart from the regal authority. Accordingly, though Duncan
may not have been the son of Angus Mor (Macdonald), a natural son of
the Lord of the Isles, as has been commonly averred, it by no means
follows that the family were not of the Macdonald race. The proof
may be difficult, but probability must be accepted in its stead. An
opposite course has been too long followed on all sides. Why should
men conceal from themselves the plain fact that the times under
consideration were barbarous, and that their annals were necessarily
left to us, not by the pen of the accurate historian, but by the
dealers in song and tradition?”

Referring to the stress laid by Mr Skene upon the designation _de
Atholia_, which was uniformly assumed by the Robertsons, Mr Smibert
remarks,--“In the first place, the designation _De Atholia_ can
really be held to prove nothing, since, as in the case of _De
Insulis_, such phrases often pointed to mere residence, and were
especially used in reference to large districts. A gentleman ‘of
Athole’ is not necessarily connected with the Duke; and, as we now
use such phrases without any meaning of that kind, much more natural
was the custom of old, when general localities alone were known
generally. In the second place, are the Robertsons made more purely
Gaelic, for such is partly the object in the view of Mr Skene, by
being traced to the ancient Athole house? That the first lords of
the line were Celts may be admitted; but heiresses again and again
interrupted the male succession. While one wedded a certain Thomas
of London, another found a mate in a person named David de Hastings.
These strictly English names speak for themselves; and it was by the
Hastings marriage, which took place shortly after the year 1200, that
the first house of Athole was continued. It is clear, therefore, that
the supposition of the descent of the Robertsons from the first lords
of Athole leaves them still of largely mingled blood--Norman, Saxon,
and Gaelic. Such is the result, even when the conjecture is admitted.

“As a Lowland neighbourhood gave to the race of Robert, son of
Duncan, the name of Robertson, so would it also intermingle their
race and blood with those of the Lowlanders.”[172]

It is from the grandson of Robert of Athole, also named Robert,
that the clan Donnachie derive their name of Robertson. This Robert
was noted for his predatory incursions into the Lowlands, and is
historically known as the chief who arrested and delivered up to
the vengeance of the government Robert Graham and the Master of
Athole, two of the murderers of James I., for which he was rewarded
with a crown charter, dated in 1451, erecting his whole lands into
a free barony. He also received the honourable augmentation to his
arms of a naked man manacled under the achievement, with the motto,
_Virtutis gloria merces_. He was mortally wounded in the head near
the village of Auchtergaven, in a conflict with Robert Forrester of
Torwood, with whom he had a dispute regarding the lands of Little
Dunkeld. Binding up his head with a white cloth, he rode to Perth,
and obtained from the king a new grant of the lands of Strowan. On
his return home, he died of his wounds. He had three sons, Alexander,
Robert, and Patrick. Robert, the second son, was the ancestor of the
Earls of Portmore, a title now extinct.

The eldest son, Alexander, was twice married, his sons becoming
progenitors of various families of Robertsons. He died in, or shortly
prior to, 1507, and was succeeded by his grandson, William. This
chief had some dispute with the Earl of Athole concerning the marches
of their estates, and was killed by a party of the earl’s followers,
in 1530. Taking advantage of a wadset or mortgage which he held over
the lands of Strowan, the earl seized nearly the half of the family
estate, which the Robertsons could never again recover. William’s
son, Robert, had two sons--William, who died without issue, and
Donald, who succeeded him.

Donald’s grandson, 11th laird of Strowan, died in 1636, leaving an
infant son, Alexander, in whose minority the government of the clan
devolved upon his uncle, Donald. Devoted to the cause of Charles I.,
the latter raised a regiment of his name and followers, and was with
the Marquis of Montrose in all his battles. After the Restoration,
the king settled a pension upon him.

His nephew, Alexander Robertson of Strowan, was twice married. By his
second wife, Marion, daughter of General Baillie of Letham, he had
two sons and one daughter, and died in 1688. Duncan, the second son
by the second marriage, served in Russia, with distinction, under
Peter the Great.

Alexander, the elder son of the second marriage, was the celebrated
Jacobite chief and poet. Born about 1670, he was destined for the
church, and sent to the university of St Andrews; but his father
and brother by the first marriage dying within a few months of each
other, he succeeded to the family estate and the chiefship in 1688.
Soon after, he joined the Viscount Dundee, when he appeared in
arms in the Highlands for the cause of King James; but though he
does not appear to have been at Killiecrankie, and was still under
age, he was, for his share in this rising, attainted by a decreet
of parliament in absence in 1690, and his estates forfeited to the
crown. He retired, in consequence, to the court of the exiled monarch
at St Germains, where he lived for several years, and served one or
two campaigns in the French army. In 1703, Queen Anne granted him a
remission, when he returned to Scotland, and resided unmolested on
his estates, but neglecting to get the remission passed the seals,
the forfeiture of 1690 was never legally repealed. With about 500 of
his clan he joined the Earl of Mar in 1715, and was taken prisoner
at the battle of Sheriffmuir, but rescued. Soon after, however, he
fell into the hands of a party of soldiers in the Highlands, and was
ordered to be conducted to Edinburgh; but, with the assistance of
his sister, he contrived to escape on the way, when he again took
refuge in France. In 1723, the estate of Strowan was granted by the
government to Margaret, the chief’s sister, by a charter under the
great seal, and in 1726 she disponed the same in trust for the behoof
of her brother, substituting, in the event of his death without
lawful heirs of his body, Duncan, son of Alexander Robertson of
Drumachune, her father’s cousin, and the next lawful heir male of the
family. Margaret died unmarried in 1727. Her brother had returned to
Scotland the previous year, and obtaining in 1731 a remission for his
life, took possession of his estate. In 1745 he once more “marshalled
his clan” in behalf of the Stuarts, but his age preventing him from
personally taking any active part in the rebellion, his name was
passed over in the list of proscriptions that followed. He died in
his own house of Carie, in Rannoch, April 18, 1749, in his 81st year,
without lawful issue, and in him ended the direct male line. A volume
of his poems was published after his death. An edition was reprinted
at Edinburgh in 1785, 12mo, containing also the “History and Martial
Achievements of the Robertsons of Strowan.” He is said to have formed
the prototype of the Baron of Bradwardine in “Waverley.”

The portion of the original estate of Strowan which remained
devolved upon Duncan Robertson of Drumachune, a property which his
great-grandfather, Duncan _Mor_ (who died in 1687), brother of Donald
the tutor, had acquired from the Athole family. As, however, his
name was not included in the last act of indemnity passed by the
government, he was dispossessed of the estate in 1752, when he and
his family retired to France. His son, Colonel Alexander Robertson,
obtained a restitution of Strowan in 1784, and died, unmarried, in
1822. Duncan _Mor’s_ second son, Donald, had a son, called Robert
_Bane_, whose grandson, Alexander Robertson, now succeeded to the

The son of the latter, Major-general George Duncan Robertson of
Strowan, C.B., passed upwards of thirty years in active service, and
received the cross of the Imperial Austrian order of Leopold. He was
succeeded by his son, George Duncan Robertson, born 26th July 1816,
at one time an officer in the 42d Highlanders.

The force which the Robertsons could bring into the field was
estimated at 800 in 1715, and 700 in 1745.

Of the branches of the family, the Robertsons of Lude, in
Blair-Athole, are the oldest, being of contemporary antiquity to that
of Strowan.

Patrick de Atholia, eldest son of the second marriage of Duncan
de Atholia, received from his father, at his death, about 1358,
the lands of Lude. He is mentioned in 1391, by Wyntoun (Book ii.
p. 367) as one of the chieftains and leaders of the clan. He had,
with a daughter, married to Donald, son of Farquhar, ancestor of
the Farquharsons of Invercauld, two sons, Donald and Alexander. The
latter, known by the name of _Rua_ or Red, from the colour of his
hair, acquired the estate of Straloch, for which he had a charter
from James II. in 1451, and was ancestor of the Robertsons of
Straloch, Perthshire. His descendants were called the Barons Rua.
The last of the Barons _Rua_, or _Red_, was Alexander Robertson of
Straloch, who died about the end of the last century, leaving an
only son, John, who adopted the old family _soubriquet_, and called
himself Reid (probably hoping to be recognised as the chief of the
Reids). John Reid entered the army, where he rose to the rank of
General, and died in 1803, leaving the reversion of his fortune
(amounting to about £70,000) for the endowment of a chair of music,
and other purposes, in the University of Edinburgh. This ancient
family is represented by Sir Archibald Ava Campbell, Bart.

Donald, the elder son, succeeded his father. He resigned his lands
of Lude into the king’s hand on February 7, 1447, but died before
he could receive his infeftment. He had two sons: John, who got the
charter under the great seal, dated March 31, 1448, erecting the
lands of Lude into a barony, proceeding on his father’s resignation;
and Donald, who got as his patrimony the lands of Strathgarry. This
branch of Lude ended in an heiress, who married an illegitimate son
of Stewart of Invermeath. About 1700, Strathgarry was sold to another
family of the name of Stewart.

The Robertsons of Inshes, Inverness-shire, are descended from Duncan,
second son of Duncan _de Atholia, dominus de Ranagh_, above mentioned.

The Robertsons of Kindeace descend from William Robertson, third
son of John, ancestor of the Robertsons of the Inshes, by his wife,
a daughter of Fearn of Pitcullen. He obtained from his father, in
patrimony, several lands about Inverness, and having acquired great
riches as a merchant, purchased, in 1615, the lands of Orkney,
Nairnshire, and in 1639, those of Kindeace, Ross-shire; the latter
becoming the chief title of the family.

The Robertsons of Kinlochmoidart, Inverness-shire, are descended
from John Robertson of Muirton, Elginshire, second son of Alexander
Robertson of Strowan, by his wife, Lady Elizabeth, daughter of the
Earl of Athole.

The fifth in succession, the Rev. William Robertson, one of the
ministers of Edinburgh, was father of Principal Robertson, and
of Mary, who married the Rev. James Syme, and had an only child,
Eleonora, mother of Henry, Lord Brougham. The Principal had three
sons and two daughters.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Cloudberry bush.]

Of the clan Macfarlane, Mr Skene gives the best account, and we shall
therefore take the liberty of availing ourselves of his researches.
According to him, with the exception of the clan Donnachie, the clan
Parlan or Pharlan is the only one, the descent of which from the
ancient earls of the district where their possessions were situated,
may be established by the authority of a charter. It appears, indeed,
that the ancestor of this clan was Gilchrist, the brother of Maldowen
or Malduin, the third Earl of Lennox. This is proved by a charter of
Maldowen, still extant, by which he gives to his brother Gilchrist
a grant “de terris de superiori Arrochar de Luss;” and these lands,
which continued in possession of the clan until the death of the last
chief, have at all times constituted their principal inheritance.

But although the descent of the clan from the Earls of Lennox be thus
established, the origin of their ancestors is by no means so easily
settled. Of all the native earls of Scotland, those of this district
alone have had a foreign origin assigned to them, though, apparently,
without any sufficient reason. The first Earl of Lennox who appears
on record is _Aluin comes de Levenox_, who lived in the early part
of the 13th century; and there is some reason to believe that from
this Aluin the later Earls of Lennox were descended. It is, no doubt,
impossible to determine now who this Aluin really was; but, in the
absence of direct authority, we gather from tradition that the heads
of the family of Lennox, before being raised to the peerage, were
hereditary seneschals of Strathearn, and bailies of the Abthanery of
Dull, in Athole. Aluin was succeeded by a son of the same name, who
is frequently mentioned in the chartularies of Lennox and Paisley,
and who died before the year 1225. In Donald, the sixth earl, the
male branch of the family became extinct. Margaret, the daughter of
Donald, married Walter de Fassalane, the heir male of the family;
but this alliance failed to accomplish the objects intended by it,
or, in other words, to preserve the honours and power of the house
of Lennox. Their son Duncan, the eighth earl, had no male issue; and
his eldest daughter Isabella, having married Sir Murdoch Stuart, the
eldest son of the Regent, he and his family became involved in the
ruin which overwhelmed the unfortunate house of Albany. At the death
of Isabella, in 1460, the earldom was claimed by three families; but
that of Stewart of Darnley eventually overcame all opposition, and
acquired the title and estates of Lennox. Their accession took place
in the year 1488; upon which the clans that had been formerly united
with the earls of the old stock separated themselves, and became

Of these clans the principal was that of the Macfarlanes, the
descendants, as has already been stated, of Gilchrist, a younger
brother of Maldowen, Earl of Lennox. In the Lennox charters, several
of which he appears to have subscribed as a witness, this Gilchrist
is generally designated as _frater comitis_, or brother of the earl.
His son Duncan also obtained a charter of his lands from the Earl of
Lennox, and appears in the Ragman’s roll under the title of “Duncan
Macgilchrist de Levenaghes.” From a grandson of this Duncan, who was
called in Gaelic _Parlan_, or Bartholomew, the clan appears to have
taken the surname of _Macfarlane_; indeed the connection of Parlan
both with Duncan and with Gilchrist is clearly established by a
charter granted to Malcolm Macfarlane, the son of Parlan, confirming
to him the lands of Arrochar and others; and hence Malcolm may be
considered as the real founder of the clan. He was succeeded by his
son Duncan, who obtained from the Earl of Lennox a charter of the
lands of Arrochar as ample in its provisions as any that had been
granted to his predecessors; and married a daughter of Sir Colin
Campbell of Lochow, as appears from a charter of confirmation granted
in his favour by Duncan, Earl of Lennox. Not long after his death,
however, the ancient line of the Earls of Lennox became extinct; and
the Macfarlanes having claimed the earldom as heirs male, offered a
strenuous opposition to the superior pretensions of the feudal heirs.
Their resistance, however, proved alike unsuccessful and disastrous.
The family of the chief perished in defence of what they believed
to be their just rights; the clan also suffered severely, and of
those who survived the struggle, the greater part took refuge in
remote parts of the country. Their destruction, indeed, would have
been inevitable, but for the opportune support given by a gentleman
of the clan to the Darnley family. This was Andrew Macfarlane, who,
having married the daughter of John Stewart, Lord Darnley and Earl
of Lennox, to whom his assistance had been of great moment at a time
of difficulty, saved the rest of the clan, and recovered the greater
part of their hereditary possessions. The fortunate individual in
question, however, though the good genius of the race, does not
appear to have possessed any other title to the chiefship than what
he derived from his position, and the circumstance of his being
the only person in a condition to afford them protection; in fact,
the clan refused him the title of chief, which they appear to have
considered as incommunicable, except in the right line; and his son,
Sir John Macfarlane, accordingly contented himself with assuming the
secondary or subordinate designation of captain of the clan.

From this time, the Macfarlanes appear to have on all occasions
supported the Earls of Lennox of the Stewart race, and to have also
followed their banner in the field. For several generations, however,
their history as a clan is almost an entire blank; indeed, they
appear to have merged into mere retainers of the powerful family,
under whose protection they enjoyed undisturbed possession of their
hereditary domains. But in the sixteenth century Duncan Macfarlane
of Macfarlane appears as a steady supporter of Matthew, Earl of
Lennox. At the head of three hundred men of his own name, he joined
Lennox and Glencairn in 1544, and was present with his followers at
the battle of Glasgow-Muir, where he shared the defeat of the party
he supported. He was also involved in the forfeiture which followed;
but having powerful friends, his property was, through their
intercession, restored, and he obtained a remission under the privy
seal. The loss of this battle forced Lennox to retire to England;
whence, having married a niece of Henry VIII., he soon afterwards
returned with a considerable force which the English monarch had
placed under his command. The chief of Macfarlane durst not venture
to join Lennox in person, being probably restrained by the terror
of another forfeiture; but, acting on the usual Scottish policy of
that time, he sent his relative, Walter Macfarlane of Tarbet, with
four hundred men, to reinforce his friend and patron; and this body,
according to Holinshed, did most excellent service, acting at once
as light troops and as guides to the main body. Duncan, however, did
not always conduct himself with equal caution; for he is said to have
fallen in the fatal battle of Pinkie, in 1547, on which occasion also
a great number of his clan perished.

Andrew, the son of Duncan, as bold, active, and adventurous as his
sire, engaged in the civil wars of the period, and, what is more
remarkable, took a prominent part on the side of the Regent Murray;
thus acting in opposition to almost all the other Highland chiefs,
who were warmly attached to the cause of the queen. He was present
at the battle of Langside with a body of his followers, and there
“stood the Regent’s part in great stead;” for, in the hottest of the
fight, he came up with three hundred of his friends and countrymen,
and falling fiercely on the flank of the queen’s army, threw them
into irretrievable disorder, and thus mainly contributed to decide
the fortune of the day. The clan boast of having taken at this battle
three of Queen Mary’s standards, which, they say, were preserved
for a long time in the family. Macfarlane’s reward was not such as
afforded any great cause for admiring the munificence of the Regent;
but that his vanity at least might he conciliated, Murray bestowed
upon him the crest of a demi-savage _proper_, holding in his dexter
hand a sheaf of arrows, and pointing with his sinister to an imperial
crown, _or_, with the motto, _This I’ll defend_. Of the son of
this chief nothing is known; but his grandson, Walter Macfarlane,
returning to the natural feelings of a Highlander, proved himself
as sturdy a champion of the royal party as his grandfather had been
an uncompromising opponent and enemy. During Cromwell’s time, he
was twice besieged in his own house, and his castle of Inveruglas
was afterwards burned down by the English. But nothing could shake
his fidelity to his party. Though his personal losses in adhering
to the royal cause were of a much more substantial kind than his
grandfather’s reward in opposing it, yet his zeal was not cooled by
adversity, nor his ardour abated by the vengeance which it drew down
on his head.

Although a small clan, the Macfarlanes were as turbulent and
predatory in their way as their neighbours the Macgregors. By the
Act of the Estates of 1587 they were declared to be one of the clans
for whom the chief was made responsible; by another act passed
in 1594, they were denounced as being in the habit of committing
theft, robbery, and oppression; and in July 1624 many of the clan
were tried and convicted of theft and robbery. Some of them were
punished, some pardoned; while others were removed to the highlands
of Aberdeenshire, and to Strathaven in Banffshire, where they assumed
the names of Stewart, M’Caudy, Greisock, M’James, and M’Innes.

Of one eminent member of the clan, the following notice is taken by
Mr Skene in his work on the Highlands of Scotland. He says, “It is
impossible to conclude this sketch of the history of the Macfarlanes
without alluding to the eminent antiquary, Walter Macfarlane of that
ilk, who is as celebrated among historians as the indefatigable
collector of the ancient records of the country, as his ancestors had
been among the other Highland chiefs for their prowess in the field.
The family itself, however, is now nearly extinct, after having held
their original lands for a period of six hundred years.”

Of the lairds of Macfarlane there have been no fewer than
twenty-three. The last of them went to North America in the early
part of the 18th century. A branch of the family settled in Ireland
in the reign of James VII., and the headship of the clan is claimed
by its representative, Macfarlane of Hunstown House, in the county of
Dublin. The descendants of the ancient chiefs cannot now be traced,
and the lands once possessed by them have passed into other hands.

Under the head of Garmoran, Mr Skene, following the genealogists,
includes two western clans, viz., those of Campbell and Macleod. We
shall, however, depart from Mr Skene’s order, and notice these two
important clans here, while treating of the clans of the western
coasts and isles. Mr Skene,[173] on very shadowy grounds, endeavours
to make out that there must have been an ancient earldom of Garmoran,
situated between north and south Argyle, and including, besides the
districts of Knoydart, Morar, Arisaig, and Moydart (forming a late
lordship of Garmoran), the districts of Glenelg, Ardnamurchan, and
Morvern. He allows, however, that “at no period embraced by the
records do we discover Garmoran as an efficient earldom.” As to
this, Mr E. W. Robertson[174] remarks that “the same objection may
be raised against the earldom of Garmoran which is urged against the
earldom of the Merns, the total silence of history respecting it.”


[Illustration: BADGE--Myrtle.]

The name CAMPBELL is undoubtedly one of considerable antiquity, and
the clan has for long been one of the most numerous and powerful
in the Highlands, although many families have adopted the name who
have no connection with the Campbells proper by blood or descent.
The Argyll family became latterly so powerful, that many smaller
clans were absorbed in it voluntarily or compulsorily, and assumed
in course of time its peculiar designation. The origin of the name,
as well as of the founder of the family, remains still a matter
of the greatest doubt. The attempt to deduce the family from the
half-mythical King Arthur, of course, is mere trifling.

The name is by some stated to have been derived from a Norman knight,
named de Campo Bello, who came to England with William the Conqueror.
As respects the latter part of the statement, it is to be observed
that in the list of all the knights who composed the army of the
Conqueror on the occasion of his invasion of England, and which is
known by the name of the Roll of Battle-Abbey, the name of Campo
Bello is not to be found. But it does not follow, as recent writers
have assumed, that a knight of that name may not have come over
to England at a later period, either of his reign or that of his

[Illustration: ARGYLL CAMPBELL. (Tartan)]

It has been alleged, in opposition to this account, that in the
oldest form of writing the name, it is spelled Cambel or Kambel, and
it is so found in many ancient documents; but these were written
by parties not acquainted with the individuals whose name they
record, as in the manuscript account of the battle of Halidon Hill,
by an unknown English writer, preserved in the British Museum; in
the Ragman’s Roll, which was compiled by an English clerk, and
in Wyntoun’s Chronicle. There is no evidence, however, that at
any period it was written by any of the family otherwise than as
_Campbell_, notwithstanding the extraordinary diversity that occurs
in the spelling of other names by their holders, as shown by Lord
Lindsay in the account of his clan; and the invariable employment
of the letter _p_ by the Campbells themselves would be of itself a
strong argument for the southern origin of the name, did there not
exist, in the record of the parliament of Robert Bruce held in 1320,
the name of the then head of the family, entered as Sir Nigel de
Campo Bello.

The writers, however, who attempt to sustain the fabulous tales of
the sennachies, assign a very different origin to the name. It is
personal, say they, “like that of some others of the Highland clans,
being composed of the words _cam_, bent or arched, and _beul_, mouth;
this having been the most prominent feature of the great ancestor of
the clan, Diarmid O’Dubin or O’Duin, a brave warrior celebrated in
traditional story, who was contemporary with the heroes of Ossian.
In the Gaelic language his descendants are called Siol Diarmid, the
offspring or race of Diarmid.”

Besides the manifest improbability of this origin on other grounds,
two considerations may be adverted to, each of them conclusive:--

First, It is known to all who have examined ancient genealogies,
that among the Celtic races personal distinctives never have
become hereditary. Malcolm _Canmore_, Donald _Bane_, Rob _Roy_, or
Evan _Dhu_, were, with many other names, distinctive of personal
qualities, but none of them descended, or could do so, to the
children of those who acquired them.

Secondly, It is no less clear that, until after what is called
the Saxon Conquest had been completely effected, no hereditary
surnames were in use among the Celts of Scotland, nor by the chiefs
of Norwegian descent who governed in Argyll and the Isles. This
circumstance is pointed out by Tytler in his remarks upon the early
population of Scotland, in the second volume of the History of
Scotland. The domestic slaves attached to the possessions of the
church and of the barons have their genealogies engrossed in ancient
charters of conveyances and confirmation copied by him. The names are
all Celtic, but in no one instance does the son, even when bearing a
second or distinctive name, follow that of his father.

Skene, who maintains the purely native origin of the Campbell, does
so in the following remarks:--

“We have shown it to be invariably the case, that when a clan claims
a foreign origin, and accounts for their possession of the chiefship
and property of the clan by a marriage with the heiress of the old
proprietors, they can be proved to be in reality a cadet of that
older house who had usurped the chiefship, while their claim to the
chiefship is disputed by an acknowledged descendant of that older
house. To this rule the Campbells are no exceptions, for while the
tale upon which they found a Norman descent is exactly parallel to
those of the other clans in the same situation, the most ancient
manuscript genealogies deduce them in the male line from that very
family of O’Duin, whose heiress they are said to have married, and
the Macarthur Campbells, of Strachur, the acknowledged descendants of
the older house, they have at all times disputed the chiefship with
the Argyll family. Judging from analogy, we are compelled to admit
that the Campbells of Strachur must formerly have been chiefs of the
clan, and that the usual causes in such cases have operated to reduce
the Strachur family, and to place that of Argyll in that situation,
and this is confirmed by the early history of the clan.”

We shall take the liberty of quoting here some ingenious speculations
on the origin of the name and the founder of the clan, from the pen
of a gentleman, a member of the clan, who, for several years, has
devoted his leisure to the investigation of the subject, and has
placed the results of his researches at our disposal. He declares
that the name itself is the most inflexible name in Scotland. In
all old documents, he says, in which it occurs, either written by a
Campbell, or under his direction, it is spelled always Campbell, or
Campo-Bello; and its southern origin he believes is past question.
It has always seemed to him to have been the name of some Roman,
who, after his countrymen retired from Britain, had settled among
the Britons of Strath-Clyde. “I am not one,” he continues, “of those
who suppose that the fortunes of Campbell depended entirely on the
patrimony of his wife. As a family who had been long in the country,
the chief of the name (it is improbable that he was then the sole
owner of that name, although his family is alone known to history),
as a soldier, high in his sovereign’s favour, was likely to have
possessed lands in Argyle before his marriage took place. Men of
mark were then necessary to keep these rather wild and outlandish
districts in subjection, and only men high in royal favour were
likely to have that trust,--a trust likely to be so well rewarded,
that its holder would be an eligible match for the heiress of Paul

“It is also quite likely that Eva O’Duin was a king’s ward, and on
that account her hand would be in the king’s gift; and who so likely
to receive it as a trusted knight, connected with the district, and
one whose loyalty was unquestioned?

“Again, we put little stress on the Celtic origin of the name,--from
the crooked mouth of the first chief, as if from _cam_, bent or
crooked, and _beul_, mouth. No doubt this etymology is purely
fanciful, and may have been invented by some one anxious to prove
the purely Celtic origin of the family; but this seems really
unnecessary, as a Celtic residence, Celtic alliances, and Celtic
associations for nearly 800 years, is a Celtic antiquity in an almost
unbroken line such as few families are able to boast of; indeed, no
clan can boast of purer Celtic blood than the Campbells, and their
present chief.”

The conclusion which, we think, any unprejudiced reader must come to,
is, that the question of the origin of the Campbells cannot, until
further light be thrown upon it, be determined with certainty at
the present day. It is possible that the story of the genealogists
may be true; they declare that the predecessors of the Argyll[175]
family, on the female side, were possessors of Lochow or Lochawe in
Argyleshire, as early as 404 A.D. Of this, however, there is no proof
worthy of the name. The first of the race, who comes prominently into
notice is one Archibald (also called Gillespie) Campbell, as likely
as not, we think, to be a gentleman of Anglo-Norman lineage, who
lived in the 11th century. He acquired the lordship of Lochow, or
Lochawe, by marriage with Eva, daughter and heiress of Paul O’Duin,
Lord of Lochow, denominated Paul Insporran, from his being the king’s
treasurer. Another Gillespic is the first of the house mentioned in
authentic history, his name occurring as a witness of the charter of
the lands of the burgh of Newburgh by Alexander III. in 1246.

Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, the real founder of the family, sixth
in descent from the first Gillespic, distinguished himself by his
warlike actions, and was knighted by King Alexander the Third in
1280. He added largely to his estates, and on account of his great
prowess he obtained the surname of Mohr or More (“great”); from him
the chief of the Argyll family is in Gaelic styled Mac Chaillan

Sir Colin Campbell had a quarrel with a powerful neighbour of his,
the Lord of Lorn, and after he had defeated him, pursuing the victory
too eagerly, was slain (in 1294) at a place called the String of
Cowal, where a great obelisk was erected over his grave. This is said
to have occasioned bitter feuds betwixt the houses of Lochow and Lorn
for a long period of years, which were put an end to by the marriage
of the daughter of the Celtic proprietor of Lorn, with John Stewart
of Innermeath about 1386. Sir Colin married a lady of the name of
Sinclair, by whom he had five sons.

Sir Niel Campbell of Lochow, his eldest son, swore fealty to Edward
the First, but afterwards joined Robert the Bruce, and fought by his
side in almost every encounter, from the defeat at Methven to the
victory at Bannockburn. King Robert rewarded his services by giving
him his sister, the Lady Mary Bruce, in marriage, and conferring
on him the lands forfeited by the Earl of Athole. His next brother
Donald was the progenitor of the Campbells of Loudon. By his wife Sir
Niel had three sons,--Sir Colin; John, created Earl of Athole, upon
the forfeiture of David de Strathbogie, the eleventh earl; and Dugal.

Sir Colin, the eldest son, obtained a charter from his uncle,
King Robert Bruce, of the lands of Lochow and Artornish, dated at
Arbroath, 10th February 1316, in which he is designated _Colinus
filius Nigelli Cambel, militis_. As a reward for assisting the
Steward of Scotland in 1334 in the recovery of the castle of Dunoon,
in Cowal, Sir Colin was made hereditary governor of the castle, and
had the grant of certain lands for the support of his dignity.
Sir Colin died about 1340. By his wife, a daughter of the house of
Lennox, he had three sons and a daughter.

The eldest son, Sir Gillespic or Archibald, who added largely to the
family possessions, was twice married, and had three sons, Duncan,
Colin, and David, and a daughter, married to Duncan Macfarlane of
Arrochar. Colin, the second son, was designed of Ardkinglass, and of
his family, the Campbells of Ardentinny, Dunoon, Carrick, Skipnish,
Blythswood, Shawfield, Rachan, Auchwillan, and Dergachie are branches.

Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochow, the eldest son, was one of the
hostages in 1424, under the name of Duncan, Lord of Argyll, for the
payment of the sum of forty thousand pounds (equivalent to four
hundred thousand pounds of our money), for the expense of King James
the First’s maintenance during his long imprisonment in England, when
Sir Duncan was found to be worth fifteen hundred merks a-year. He
was the first of the family to assume the designation of Argyll. By
King James he was appointed one of his privy council, and constituted
his justiciary and lieutenant within the shire of Argyll. He became
a lord of parliament in 1445, under the title of Lord Campbell. He
died in 1453, and was buried at Kilmun. He married, first, Marjory
or Mariota Stewart, daughter of Robert Duke of Albany, governor of
Scotland, by whom he had three sons,--Celestine, who died before him;
Archibald, who also predeceased him, but left a son; and Colin, who
was the first of Glenorchy, and ancestor of the Breadalbane family.
Sir Duncan married, secondly, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Stewart
of Blackhall and Auchingown, natural son of Robert the Third, by whom
also he had three sons, namely, Duncan, who, according to Crawford,
was the ancestor of the house of Auchinbreck, of whom are the
Campbells of Glencardel, Glensaddel, Kildurkland, Kilmorie, Wester
Keams, Kilberry, and Dana; Niel, progenitor, according to Crawford,
of the Campbells of Ellengreig and Ormadale; and Arthur or Archibald,
ancestor of the Campbells of Ottar, now extinct. According to some
authorities, the Campbells of Auchinbreck and their cadets, also
Ellengrieg and Ormadale, descend from this the youngest son, and not
from his brothers.

The first Lord Campbell was succeeded by his grandson Colin, the son
of his second son Archibald. He acquired part of the lordship of
Campbell in the parish of Dollar,[177] by marrying the eldest of the
three daughters of John Stewart, third Lord of Lorn and Innermeath.
He did not, as is generally stated, acquire by this marriage any part
of the lordship of Lorn (which passed to Walter, brother of John,
the fourth Lord Innermeath, and heir of entail), but obtained that
lordship by exchanging the lands of Baldunning and Innerdunning, &c.,
in Perthshire, with the said Walter. In 1457 he was created Earl of
Argyll. In 1470 he was created baron of Lorn, and in 1481 he received
a grant of many lands in Knapdale, along with the keeping of Castle
Sweyn, which had previously been held by the Lord of the Isles. He
died in 1493.

By Isabel Stewart, his wife, eldest daughter of John, Lord of Lorn,
the first Earl of Argyll had two sons and seven daughters. Archibald,
his elder son, became second earl, and Thomas, the younger, was the
ancestor of the Campbells of Lundie, in Forfarshire. Another daughter
was married to Torquil Macleod of the Lewis.

Archibald, second Earl of Argyll, succeeded his father in 1493.
In 1499 he and others received a commission from the king to let
on lease, for the term of three years, the entire lordship of the
Isles as possessed by the last lord, both in the Isles and on the
mainland, excepting only the island of Isla, and the lands of North
and South Kintyre. He also received a commission of lieutenancy,
with the fullest powers, over the lordship of the Isles; and, some
months later, was appointed keeper of the castle of Tarbert, and
bailie and governor of the king’s lands in Knapdale. From this period
the great power formerly enjoyed by the Earls of Ross, Lords of the
Isles, was transferred to the Earls of Argyll and Huntly; the former
having the chief rule in the south isles and adjacent coasts. At
the fatal battle of Flodden, 9th September 1513, his lordship and
his brother-in-law, the Earl of Lennox, commanded the right wing of
the royal army, and with King James the Fourth, were both killed.
By his wife, Lady Elizabeth Stewart, eldest daughter of John, first
Earl of Lennox, he had four sons and five daughters. His eldest son,
Colin, was the third Earl of Argyll. Archibald, his second son, had
a charter of the lands of Skipnish, and the keeping of the castle
thereof, 13th August 1511. His family ended in an heir-female in the
reign of Mary. Sir John Campbell, the third son, at first styled
of Lorn, and afterwards of Calder, married Muriella, daughter and
heiress of Sir John Calder of Calder, now Cawdor, near Nairn.

According to tradition, she was captured in childhood by Sir John
Campbell and a party of the Campbells, while out with her nurse
near Calder castle. Her uncles pursued and overtook the division of
the Campbells to whose care she had been intrusted, and would have
rescued her but for the presence of mind of Campbell of Inverliver,
who, seeing their approach, inverted a large camp kettle as if to
conceal her, and commanding his seven sons to defend it to the death,
hurried on with his prize. The young men were all slain, and when the
Calders lifted up the kettle, no Muriel was there. Meanwhile so much
time had been gained that farther pursuit was useless. The nurse,
just before the child was seized, bit off a joint of her little
finger, in order to mark her identity--a precaution which seems to
have been necessary, from Campbell of Auchinbreck’s reply to one who,
in the midst of their congratulations on arriving safely in Argyll
with their charge, asked what was to be done should the child die
before she was marriageable? “She can never die,” said he, “as long
as a red-haired lassie can be found on either side of Lochawe!” It
would appear that the heiress of the Calders had red hair.

Colin Campbell, the third Earl of Argyll, was, immediately after
his accession to the earldom, appointed by the council to assemble
an army and proceed against Lauchlan Maclean of Dowart, and other
Highland chieftains, who had broken out into insurrection, and
proclaimed Sir Donald of Lochalsh Lord of the Isles. Owing to the
powerful influence of Argyll, the insurgents submitted to the regent,
after strong measures had been adopted against them. In 1517 Sir
Donald of Lochalsh again appeared in arms, but being deserted by
his principal leaders, he effected his escape. Soon after, on his
petition, he received a commission of lieutenancy over all the Isles
and adjacent mainland.

For some years the Isles had continued at peace, and Argyll employed
this interval in extending his influence among the chiefs, and
in promoting the aggrandisement of his family and clan, being
assisted thereto by his brothers, Sir John Campbell of Calder,
so designed after his marriage with the heiress, and Archibald
Campbell of Skipnish. The former was particularly active. In 1527
an event occurred, which forms the groundwork of Joanna Baillie’s
celebrated tragedy of “The Family Legend.” It is thus related by
Gregory:--“Lauchlan Cattanach Maclean of Dowart had married Lady
Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of Archibald, second Earl of Argyll,
and, either from the circumstance of their union being unfruitful,
or more probably owing to some domestic quarrels, he determined
to get rid of his wife. Some accounts say that she had twice
attempted her husband’s life; but, whatever the cause may have been,
Maclean, following the advice of two of his vassals, who exercised
a considerable influence over him from the tie of fosterage, caused
his lady to be exposed on a rock, which was only visible at low
water, intending that she should be swept away by the return of the
tide. This rock lies between the island of Lismore and the coast
of Mull, and is still known by the name of the ‘Lady’s Rock.’ From
this perilous situation the intended victim was rescued by a boat
accidentally passing, and conveyed to her brother’s house. Her
relations, although much exasperated against Maclean, smothered their
resentment for a time, but only to break out afterwards with greater
violence; for the laird of Dowart being in Edinburgh, was surprised
when in bed, and assassinated by Sir John Campbell of Calder, the
lady’s brother. The Macleans instantly took arms to revenge the
death of their chief, and the Campbells were not slow in preparing
to follow up the feud; but the government interfered, and, for the
present, an appeal to arms was avoided.”[178]

On the escape of the king, then in his seventeenth year, from the
power of the Douglases, in May 1528, Argyll was one of the first to
join his majesty at Stirling. Argyll afterwards received an ample
confirmation of the hereditary sheriffship of Argyleshire and of
the offices of justiciary of Scotland and master of the household,
by which these offices became hereditary in his family. He had the
commission of justice-general of Scotland renewed 25th October 1529.
He died in 1530.

By his countess, Lady Jane Gordon, eldest daughter of Alexander,
third Earl of Huntly, the third Earl of Argyll had three sons and
a daughter. His sons were, Archibald, fourth Earl of Argyll; John,
ancestor of the Campbells of Lochnell, of which house the Campbells
of Balerno and Stonefield are cadets; and Alexander, dean of Moray.

Archibald, the fourth Earl of Argyll, was, on his accession to the
title in 1530, appointed to all the offices held by the two preceding
earls. A suspicion being entertained by some of the members of the
privy council, which is said to have been shared in by the king
himself, that many of the disturbances in the Isles were secretly
fomented by the Argyll family, that they might obtain possession
of the estates forfeited by the chiefs thus driven into rebellion,
and an opportunity soon presenting itself, the king eagerly availed
himself of it, to curb the increasing power of the Earl of Argyll in
that remote portion of the kingdom. Alexander of Isla, being summoned
to answer certain charges of Argyll, made his appearance at once, and
gave in to the council a written statement, in which, among other
things, he stated that the disturbed state of the Isles was mainly
caused by the late Earl of Argyll and his brothers, Sir John Campbell
of Calder, and Archibald Campbell of Skipnish. The king made such an
examination into the complaints of the islanders as satisfied him
that the family of Argyll had been acting more for their own benefit
than for the welfare of the country, and the earl was summoned
before his sovereign, to give an account of the duties and rental
of the Isles received by him, the result of which was that James
committed him to prison soon after his arrival at court. He was soon
liberated, but James was so much displeased with his conduct that he
deprived him of the offices he still held in the Isles, some of which
were bestowed on Alexander of Isla, whom he had accused. After the
death of James the Fifth he appears to have regained his authority
over the Isles. He was the first of the Scotch nobles who embraced
the principles of the Reformation, and employed as his domestic
chaplain Mr John Douglas, a converted Carmelite friar, who preached
publicly in his house. The Archbishop of St Andrews, in a letter to
the earl, endeavoured to induce him to dismiss Douglas, and return to
the Romish church, but in vain, and on his death-bed he recommended
the support of the new doctrines, and the suppression of Popish
superstitions, to his son. He died in August 1558. He was twice
married. By his first wife, Lady Helen Hamilton, eldest daughter
of James, first Earl of Arran, he had a son, Archibald, fifth Earl
of Argyll. His second wife was Lady Mary Graham, only daughter of
William, third Earl of Menteith, by whom he had Colin, sixth earl,
and two daughters.

Archibald, fifth Earl of Argyll, was educated under the direction
of Mr John Douglas, his father’s domestic chaplain, and the first
Protestant Archbishop of St Andrews, and distinguished himself
as one of the most able among the Lords of the Congregation. In
the transactions of their times the earl and his successors took
prominent parts; but as these are matters of public history, and as
so much the history of the Highlands, in which the Argylls took a
prominent part, has been already given in the former part of this
work, we shall confine our attention here to what belongs to the
history of the family and clan.

The earl had married Jean, natural daughter of King James the Fifth
by Elizabeth daughter of John, Lord Carmichael, but he does not seem
to have lived on very happy terms with her, as we find that John
Knox, at the request of Queen Mary, endeavoured, on more occasions
than one, to reconcile them after some domestic quarrels.[179] Her
majesty passed the summer of 1563 at the earl’s house in Argyleshire,
in the amusement of deer-hunting.

Argyll died on the 12th of September 1575, aged about 43. His
countess, Queen Mary’s half-sister, having died without issue, was
buried in the royal vault in the abbey of Holyrood-house; and he
married, a second time, Lady Johanna or Joneta Cunningham, second
daughter of Alexander, fifth Earl of Glencairn, but as she also had
no children, he was succeeded in his estates and title by his brother.

On the 28th of January 1581, with the king and many of the nobility,
the sixth earl subscribed a second Confession of Faith. He died in
October 1584, after a long illness. He married, first, Janet, eldest
daughter of Henry, first Lord Methven, without issue; secondly, Lady
Agnes Keith, eldest daughter of William, fourth Earl Marischal, widow
of the Regent Moray, by whom he had two sons, Archibald, seventh
Earl of Argyll, and the Hon. Sir Colin Campbell of Lundie, created a
baronet in 1627.

In 1594, although then only eighteen, the seventh Earl of Argyll was
appointed king’s lieutenant against the popish Earls of Huntly and
Errol, who had raised a rebellion. In 1599, when measures were in
progress for bringing the chiefs of the isles under subjection to the
king, the Earl of Argyll and his kinsman, John Campbell of Calder,
were accused of having secretly used their influence to prevent Sir
James Macdonald of Dunyveg and his clan from being reconciled to the
government. The frequent insurrections which occurred in the South
Isles in the first fifteen years of the seventeenth century have also
been imputed by Mr Gregory to Argyll and the Campbells, for their own
purposes. The proceedings of these clans were so violent and illegal,
that the king became highly incensed against the Clandonald, and
finding, or supposing he had a right to dispose of their possessions
both in Kintyre and Isla, he made a grant of them to the Earl of
Argyll and the Campbells. This gave rise to a number of bloody
conflicts between the Campbells and the Clandonald, in the years
1614, 1615, and 1616, which ended in the ruin of the latter, and for
the details of which, and the intrigues and proceedings of the Earl
of Argyll to possess himself of the lands of that clan, reference may
be made to the part of the General History pertaining to this period.

In 1603, the Macgregors, who were already under the ban of the law,
made an irruption into the Lennox, and after defeating the Colquhouns
and their adherents at Glenfruin, with great slaughter, plundered
and ravaged the whole district, and threatened to burn the town of
Dumbarton. For some years previously, the charge of keeping this
powerful and warlike tribe in order had been committed to the Earl of
Argyll, as the king’s lieutenant in the “bounds of the clan Gregor,”
and he was answerable for all their excesses. Instead of keeping them
under due restraint, Argyll has been accused by various writers of
having from the very first made use of his influence to stir them up
to acts of violence and aggression against his own personal enemies,
of whom the chief of the Colquhouns was one; and it is further
said that he had all along meditated the destruction of both the
Macgregors and the Colquhouns, by his crafty and perfidious policy.
The only evidence on which these heavy charges rest is the dying
declaration of Alister Macgregor of Glenstrae, the chief of the clan,
to the effect that he was deceived by the Earl of Argyll’s “falsete
and inventiouns,” and that he had been often incited by that nobleman
to “weir and truble the laird of Luss,” and others; but these charges
ought to be received with some hesitation by the impartial historian.
However this may be, the execution of the severe statutes which
were passed against the Macgregors after the conflict at Glenfruin,
was intrusted to the Earls of Argyll and Athole, and their chief,
with some of his principal followers, was enticed by Argyll to
surrender to him, on condition that they would be allowed to leave
the country. Argyll received them kindly, and assured them that
though he was commanded by the king to apprehend them, he had little
doubt he would be able to procure a pardon, and, in the meantime,
he would send them to England under an escort, which would convey
them off Scottish ground. It was Macgregor’s intention, if taken
to London, to procure if possible an interview with the king; but
Argyll prevented this; yet, that he might fulfil his promise, he sent
them under a strong guard beyond the Tweed at Berwick, and instantly
compelled them to retrace their steps to Edinburgh, where they were
executed 18th January 1604. How far there may have been deceit used
in this matter,--whether, according to Birrel, Argyll “keipit are
Hielandman’s promise; in respect he sent the gaird to convey him out
of Scottis grund, but thai were not directit to pairt with him, but
to fetch him bak agane;” or whether their return was by orders from
the king, cannot at the present time be ascertained.

In 1617, after the suppression by him of the Clandonald, Argyll
obtained from the king a grant of the whole of Kintyre. For some
years Argyll had been secretly a Catholic. His first countess, to
whom Sir William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Stirling, inscribed
his “Aurora” in 1604, having died, he had, in November 1610, married
a second time, Anne, daughter of Sir William Cornwall of Brome,
ancestor of the Marquis Cornwallis. This lady was a Catholic, and
although the earl was a warm and zealous Protestant when he married
her, she gradually drew him over to profess the same faith with
herself. After the year 1615, as Gregory remarks, his personal
history presents a striking instance of the mutability of human
affairs. In that year, being deep in debt, he went to England; but as
he was the only chief that could keep the Macdonalds in order, the
Privy Council wrote to the king urging him to send him home; and in
his expedition against the clan Donald he was accompanied by his son,
Lord Lorn. In 1618, on pretence of going to the Spa for the benefit
of his health, he received from the king permission to go abroad; and
the news soon arrived that the earl, instead of going to the Spa,
had gone to Spain; that he had there made open defection from the
Protestant religion, and that he had entered into very suspicious
dealings with the banished rebels, Sir James Macdonald and Alister
MacRanald of Keppoch, who had taken refuge in that country. On the
16th of February he was openly declared rebel and traitor, at the
market cross of Edinburgh, and remained under this ban until the
22d of November 1621, when he was declared the king’s free liege.
Nevertheless, he did not venture to return to Britain till 1638, and
died in London soon after, aged 62. From the time of his leaving
Scotland, he never exercised any influence over his great estates;
the fee of which had, indeed, been previously conveyed by him to his
eldest son, Archibald, Lord Lorn, afterwards eighth Earl of Argyll.
By his first wife he had, besides this son, four daughters. By his
second wife, the earl had a son and a daughter, viz., James, Earl of
Irvine, and Lady Mary, married to James, second Lord Rollo.

Archibald, eighth Earl and first Marquis of Argyll, after his father,
went to Spain, as has been above said, managed the affairs of his
family and clan. So full an account of the conspicuous part played
by the first Marquis of Argyll, in the affairs of his time, has been
already given in this work, that further detail here is unnecessary.
Suffice it to say, that in 1641 he was created Marquis, and was
beheaded with the “Maiden,” at the cross of Edinburgh, May 27, 1661;
and whatever may be thought of his life, his death was heroic and
Christian. By his wife, Lady Margaret Douglas, second daughter of
William, second Earl of Morton, he had three daughters and two sons.
The eldest son Archibald, became ninth Earl of Argyll, the second was
Lord Niel Campbell, of Ardmaddie.

On the death of the eighth earl, his estates and title were of course
forfeited, but Charles II., in 1663, sensible of the great services
of Lord Lorn, and of the injustice with which he had been treated,
restored to him the estates and the title of Earl of Argyll. The
trivial excuse for the imprisoning and condemning him to death, has
been already referred to, and an account has been given of the means
whereby he was enabled to make his escape, by the assistance of his
step-daughter, Lady Sophia Lindsay. Having taken part in Monmouth’s
rebellion, he was taken prisoner, and being carried to Edinburgh,
was beheaded upon his former unjust sentence, June 30, 1685. Argyll
was twice married; first to Lady Mary Stuart, eldest daughter of
James, fifth Earl of Moray; and secondly, to Lady Anna Mackenzie,
second daughter of Colin, first Earl of Seaforth, widow of Alexander,
first Earl of Balcarres. By the latter, he had no issue; but by the
former he had four sons and three daughters. He was succeeded by
his son Archibald, tenth Earl and first Duke of Argyll, who was an
active promoter of the Revolution, and accompanied the Prince of
Orange to England. He was one of the commissioners deputed from the
Scots Parliament, to offer the crown of Scotland to the Prince, and
to tender him the coronation oath. For this and other services, the
family estates, which had been forfeited, were restored to him. He
was appointed to several important public offices, and in 1696, was
made colonel of the Scots horse-guards, afterwards raising a regiment
of his own clan, which greatly distinguished itself in Flanders.

On the 21st of June 1701, he was created, by letters patent, Duke
of Argyll, Marquis of Lorn and Kintyre, Earl of Campbell and Cowal,
Viscount of Lochow and Glenila, Baron Inverary, Mull, Morvern, and
Tiree. He died 28th September, 1703. Though undoubtedly a man of
ability, he was too dissipated to be a great statesman. He married
Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Lionel Tollmash, by whom he had two sons,
the elder being the celebrated Duke of Argyll and Greenwich.

John, second Duke of Argyll, and also Duke of Greenwich, a steady
patriot and celebrated general, the eldest son of the preceding,
was born October 10, 1678. On the death of his father in 1703, he
became Duke of Argyll, and was soon after sworn of the privy council,
made captain of the Scots horse-guards, and appointed one of the
extraordinary lords of session. He was soon after sent down as high
commissioner to the Scots parliament, where, being of great service
in promoting the projected Union, for which he became very unpopular
in Scotland, he was, on his return to London, created a peer of
England by the titles of Baron of Chatham, and Earl of Greenwich.

In 1706 his Grace made a campaign in Flanders, under the Duke of
Marlborough, and rendered important services at various sieges and
battles on the continent, and on December 20, 1710, he was installed
a knight of the Garter. On the accession of George I., he was made
groom of the stole, and was one of the nineteen members of the
regency, nominated by his majesty. On the king’s arrival in England,
he was appointed general and commander-in-chief of the king’s forces
in Scotland.

At the breaking out of the Rebellion in 1715, his Grace, as
commander-in-chief in Scotland, defeated the Earl of Mar’s army at
Sheriffmuir, and forced the Pretender to retire from the kingdom.
In March 1716, after putting the army into winter quarters, he
returned to London, but was in a few months, to the surprise of
all, divested of all his employments. In the beginning of 1718 he
was again restored to favour, created Duke of Greenwich, and made
lord steward of the household. In 1737, when the affair of Captain
Porteous came before parliament, his Grace exerted himself vigorously
and eloquently in behalf of the city of Edinburgh. A bill having
been brought in for punishing the Lord Provost of that city, for
abolishing the city guard, and for depriving the corporation of
several ancient privileges; and the Queen Regent having threatened,
on that occasion, to convert Scotland into a hunting park, Argyll
replied, that it was then time to go down and gather his beagles.

In April 1740, he delivered a speech with such warmth against the
administration, that he was again deprived of all his offices. To
these, however, on the resignation of Sir Robert Walpole, he was soon
restored, but not approving of the measures of the new ministry,
he gave up all his posts, and never afterwards engaged in affairs
of state. This amiable and most accomplished nobleman has been
immortalised by Pope in the lines,

      “Argyle, the state’s whole thunder born to wield,
      And shake alike the senate and the field.”

He was twice married. By his first wife, Mary, daughter of John
Brown, Esq. (and niece of Sir Charles Duncombe, Lord Mayor of London
in 1708), he had no issue. By his second wife, Jane, daughter of
Thomas Warburton of Winnington, in Cheshire, one of the maids of
honour to Queen Anne, he had five daughters. As the duke died without
male issue, his English titles of Duke and Earl of Greenwich, and
Baron of Chatham, became extinct, while his Scotch titles and
patrimonial estate devolved on his brother. He died October 4,
1743; and a beautiful marble monument was erected to his memory in
Westminster Abbey.

Archibald, third Duke of Argyll, the brother of the preceding, was
born at Ham, Surrey, in June 1682, and educated at the university of
Glasgow. In 1705 he was constituted lord high treasurer of Scotland;
in 1706 one of the commissioners for treating of the Union between
Scotland and England; and 19th October of the same year, for his
services in that matter, was created Viscount and Earl of Isla.
In 1708 he was made an extraordinary lord of session, and after
the Union, was chosen one of the sixteen representative peers of
Scotland. In 1710 he was appointed justice-general of Scotland,
and the following year was called to the privy council. When the
rebellion broke out in 1715, he took up arms for the defence of the
house of Hanover. By his prudent conduct in the West Highlands, he
prevented General Gordon, at the head of three thousand men, from
penetrating into the country and raising levies. He afterwards
joined his brother, the duke, at Stirling, and was wounded at the
battle of Sheriffmuir. In 1725 he was appointed keeper of the privy
seal, and in 1734 of the great seal, which office he enjoyed till
his death. He excelled in conversation, and besides building a very
magnificent seat at Inverary, he collected one of the most valuable
private libraries in Great Britain. He died suddenly, while sitting
in his chair at dinner, April 15, 1761. He married the daughter of Mr
Whitfield, paymaster of marines, but had no issue by her grace.

The third Duke of Argyll was succeeded by his cousin, John, fourth
duke, son of the Hon. John Campbell of Mamore, second son of
Archibald, the ninth Earl of Argyll (who was beheaded in 1685), by
Elizabeth, daughter of John, eighth Lord Elphinstone. The fourth
duke was born about 1693. Before he succeeded to the honours of
his family, he was an officer in the army, and saw some service in
France and Holland. When the rebellion of 1745 broke out, he was
appointed to the command of all the troops and garrisons in the west
of Scotland, and arrived at Inverary, 21st December of that year,
and, with his eldest son joined the Duke of Cumberland at Perth, on
the 9th of the following February. He died 9th November 1770, in the
77th year of his age. He married in 1720 the Hon. Mary Bellenden,
third daughter of the second Lord Bellenden, and had four sons and a

John, fifth Duke of Argyll, born in 1723, eldest son of the fourth
duke, was also in the army, and attained the rank of general in March
1778, and of field-marshal in 1796. He was created a British peer,
in the lifetime of his father, as Baron Sundridge of Coomb-bank in
Kent, 19th December 1766, with remainder to his heirs male, and
failing them to his brothers, Frederick and William, and their heirs
male successively. He was chosen the first president of the Highland
Society of Scotland, to which society, in 1806, he made a munificent
gift of one thousand pounds, as the beginning of a fund for educating
young men of the West Highlands for the navy. He died 24th May 1806,
in the 83d year of his age. He married in 1759, Elizabeth, widow of
James, sixth Duke of Hamilton, the second of the three beautiful Miss
Gunnings, daughters of John Gunning, Esq. of Castle Coote, county
Boscommon, Ireland. By this lady the duke had three sons and two

George William, sixth Duke of Argyll, was born 22d September 1768.
He married, 29th November 1810, Caroline Elizabeth, daughter of the
fourth Earl of Jersey, but had no issue. His Grace died 22d October

His brother, John Douglas Edward Henry (Lord John Campbell of
Ardincaple, M.P.) succeeded as seventh duke. He was born 21st
December 1777, and was thrice married; first, in August 1802, to
Elizabeth, eldest daughter of William Campbell, Esq. of Fairfield,
who died in 1818; secondly, 17th April, 1820, to Joan, daughter and
heiress of John Glassel, Esq. of Long Niddry; and thirdly, in January
1831, to Anne Colquhoun, eldest daughter of John Cunningham, Esq. of
Craigends. By his second wife he had two sons and a daughter, namely,
John Henry, born in January 1821, died in May 1837; George Douglas,
who succeeded as eighth duke; and Lady Emma Augusta, born in 1825.
His Grace died 26th April 1847.

George John Douglas, the eighth duke, born in 1823, married in 1844,
Lady Elizabeth Georgina (born in 1824), eldest daughter of the
second Duke of Sutherland; issue, John Douglas Sutherland, Marquis
of Lorn (M.P. for Argyleshire), born in 1845, and other children.
His Grace has distinguished himself not only in politics, but in
science; to geology, in particular, he has devoted much attention,
and his writings prove him to be possessed of considerable literary
ability. He is author of “An Essay on the Ecclesiastical History of
Scotland since the Reformation,” “The Reign of Law,” &c. He was made
Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, 1851; Lord Privy Seal,
1853; Postmaster-general, 1855-8; Knight of the Thistle, 1856; again
Lord Privy Seal, 1859; Secretary of State for India, 1868. The Duke
of Argyll is hereditary master of the queen’s household in Scotland,
keeper of the castles of Dunoon, Dunstaffnage, and Carrick, and
heritable sheriff of Argyleshire.

It has been foretold, says tradition, that all the glories of the
Campbell line are to be renewed in the first chief who, in the hue
of his locks, approaches to Ian Roy Cean (John Red Head, viz., the
second duke). This prophecy some may be inclined to think, has been
royally fulfilled in the recent marriage of the present duke’s heir,
the Marquis of Lorn, with the Princess Louise, daughter of Her
Majesty Queen Victoria. This event took place on the 21st March 1871,
amid the enthusiastic rejoicings of all Scotchmen, and especially
Highlandmen, and with the approval of all the sensible portion of Her
Majesty’s subjects. Her Majesty conferred the honour of knighthood on
the Marquis of Lorn, after the ceremony of the marriage, and invested
him with the insignia of the Order of the Thistle.

There are a considerable number of important offshoots from the
clan Campbell, the origin of some of which has been noticed above;
it is necessary, however, to give a more particular account of the
most powerful branch of this extensive clan, viz., the BREADALBANE


[Illustration: BADGE.--Myrtle.]

As we have already indicated, the ancestor of the Breadalbane family,
and the first of the house of Glenurchy, was Sir Colin Campbell, the
third son of Duncan, first Lord Campbell of Lochow.

In an old manuscript, preserved in Taymouth Castle, named “the Black
Book of Taymouth” (printed by the Bannatyne Club, 1853), containing
a genealogical account of the Glenurchy family, it is stated that
“Duncan Campbell, commonly callit Duncan in Aa, knight of Lochow
(lineallie descendit of a valiant man, surnamit Campbell, quha cam to
Scotland in King Malcolm Kandmoir, his time, about the year of God
1067, of quhom came the house of Lochow), flourisched in King David
Bruce his dayes. The foresaid Duncan in Aa had to wyffe Margarit
Stewart, dochter to Duke Murdoch [a mistake evidently for Robert], on
whom he begat twa sones, the elder callit Archibald, the other namit
Colin, wha was first laird of Glenurchay.” That estate was settled
on him by his father. It had come into the Campbell family, in the
reign of King David the Second, by the marriage of Margaret Glenurchy
with John Campbell; and was at one time the property of the warlike
clan MacGregor, who were gradually expelled from the territory by the
rival clan Campbell.

[Illustration: BREADALBANE CAMPBELL. (Tartan)]

In 1440 he built the castle of Kilchurn, on a projecting rocky
elevation at the east end of Lochawe, under the shadow of the
majestic Ben Cruachan, where--now a picturesque ruin,--

                                   “grey and stern
      Stands, like a spirit of the past, lone old Kilchurn.”

According to tradition, Kilchurn (properly Coalchuirn) Castle was
first erected by his lady, and not by himself, he being absent on a
crusade at the time, and for seven years the principal portion of the
rents of his lands are said to have been expended on its erection.
Sir Colin died before June 10, 1478; as on that day the Lords’
auditors gave a decreet in a civil suit against “Duncain Cambell, son
and air of umquhile Sir Colin Cambell of Glenurquha, knight.” He was
interred in Argyleshire, and not, as Douglas says, at Finlarig at the
north-west end of Lochtay, which afterwards became the burial-place
of the family. His first wife had no issue. His second wife was Lady
Margaret Stewart, the second of the three daughters and co-heiresses
of John Lord Lorn, with whom he got a third of that lordship, still
possessed by the family, and thenceforward quartered the galley of
Lorn with his paternal achievement. His third wife was Margaret,
daughter of Robert Robertson of Strowan, by whom he had a son and
a daughter. Sir Colin’s fourth wife was Margaret, daughter of Luke
Stirling of Keir, by whom he had a son, John, ancestor of the Earls
of Loudon, and a daughter, Mariot, married to William Stewart of

Sir Duncan Campbell, the eldest son, obtained the office of bailiary
of the king’s lands of Discher, Foyer, and Glenlyon, 3d September
1498, for which office, being a hereditary one, his descendant,
the second Earl of Breadalbane, received, on the abolition of the
heritable jurisdiction in Scotland, in 1747, the sum of one thousand
pounds, in full of his claim for six thousand. Sir Duncan also got
charters of the king’s lands of the port of Lochtay, &c. 5th March
1492; also of the lands of Glenlyon, 7th September 1502; of Finlarig,
22d April 1503; and of other lands in Perthshire in May 1508 and
September 1511. He fell at the battle of Flodden. He was twice
married. He was succeeded by Sir Colin, the eldest son, who married
Lady Marjory Stewart, sixth daughter of John, Earl of Athole, brother
uterine of King James the Second, and had three sons, viz., Sir
Duncan, Sir John, and Sir Colin, who all succeeded to the estate.
The last of them, Sir Colin, became laird of Glenurchy in 1550, and,
according to the “Black Book of Taymouth,” he “conquessit” (that
is, acquired) “the superiority of M’Nabb, his haill landis.” He was
among the first to join the Reformation, and sat in the parliament
of 1560, when the Protestant doctrines received the sanction of the
law. In the “Black Book of Taymouth,” he is represented to have been
“ane great justiciar all his tyme, throch the quhilk he sustenit the
deidly feid of the Clangregor ane lang space; and besides that, he
causit execute to the death many notable lymarris, he behiddit the
laird of Macgregor himself at Kandmoir, in presence of the Erle of
Athol, the justice-clerk, and sundrie other nobilmen.” In 1580 he
built the castle of Balloch in Perthshire, one wing of which still
continues attached to Taymouth Castle, the splendid mansion of
the Earl of Breadalbane. He also built Edinample, another seat of
the family. Sir Colin died in 1583. By his wife Catherine, second
daughter of William, second Lord Ruthven, he had four sons and four

Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, his eldest son and successor, was,
on the death of Colin, sixth Earl of Argyll, in 1584, nominated by
that nobleman’s will one of the six guardians of the young earl,
then a minor. The disputes which arose among the guardians have been
already referred to, as well as the assassination of the Earl of
Moray and Campbell of Calder, and the plot to assassinate the young
Earl of Argyll. Gregory expressly charges Sir Duncan Campbell of
Glenurchy with being the principal mover in the branch of the plot
which led to the murder of Calder.

In 1617 Sir Duncan had the office of heritable keeper of the forest
of Mamlorn, Bendaskerlie, &c., conferred upon him. He afterwards
obtained from King Charles the First the sheriffship of Perthshire
for life. He was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by patent, bearing
date 30th May 1625. Although represented as an ambitious and grasping
character, he is said to have been the first who attempted to
civilise the people on his extensive estates. He not only set them
the example of planting timber trees, fencing pieces of ground for
gardens, and manuring their lands, but assisted and encouraged them
in their labours. One of his regulations of police for the estate
was “that no man shall in any public-house drink more than a chopin
of ale with his neighbour’s wife, in the absence of her husband,
upon the penalty of ten pounds, and sitting twenty-four hours in the
stocks, toties quoties.” He died in June 1631. He was twice married;
by his first wife, Lady Jean Stewart, second daughter of John, Earl
of Athole, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, by whom he had seven
sons and three daughters. Archibald Campbell of Monzie, the fifth
son, was ancestor of the Campbells of Monzie, Lochlane, and Finnab,
in Perthshire.

Sir Colin Campbell, the eldest son of Sir Duncan, born about 1577,
succeeded as eighth laird of Glenurchy. Little is known of this Sir
Colin save what is highly to his honour, namely, his patronage of
George Jamesone, the celebrated portrait painter. Sir Colin married
Lady Juliana Campbell, eldest daughter of Hugh, first Lord Loudon,
but had no issue. He was succeeded by his brother, Sir Robert, at
first styled of Glenfalloch, and afterwards of Glenurchy. Sir Robert
married Isabel, daughter of Sir Lauchlan Mackintosh, of Torcastle,
captain of the clan Chattan, and had eight sons and nine daughters.
William, the sixth son, was ancestor of the Campbells of Glenfalloch,
the representatives of whom have succeeded to the Scottish titles of
Earl of Breadalbane, &c. Margaret, the eldest daughter, married to
John Cameron of Lochiel, was the mother of Sir Ewen Cameron.

The eldest son, Sir John Campbell of Glenurchy, who succeeded, was
twice married. His first wife was Lady Mary Graham, eldest daughter
of William, Earl of Strathearn, Menteith, and Airth.

Sir John Campbell of Glenurchy, first Earl of Breadalbane, only son
of this Sir John, was born about 1635. He gave great assistance
to the forces collected in the Highlands for Charles the Second
in 1653, under the command of General Middleton. He subsequently
used his utmost endeavours with General Monk to declare for a free
parliament, as the most effectual way to bring about his Majesty’s
restoration. Being a principal creditor of George, sixth Earl of
Caithness, whose debts are said to have exceeded a million of marks,
that nobleman, on 8th October 1672, made a disposition of his whole
estates, heritable jurisdictions, and titles of honour, after his
death, in favour of Sir John Campbell of Glenurchy, the latter
taking on himself the burden of his lordship’s debts; and he was in
consequence duly infefted in the lands and earldom of Caithness,
27th February 1673. The Earl of Caithness died in May 1676, when Sir
John Campbell obtained a patent, creating him Earl of Caithness,
dated at Whitehall, 28th June 1677. But George Sinclair of Keiss,
the heir-male of the last earl, being found by parliament entitled
to that dignity, Sir John Campbell obtained another patent, 13th
August 1681, creating him instead Earl of Breadalbane and Holland,
Viscount of Tay and Paintland, Lord Glenurchy, Benederaloch, Ormelie,
and Weik, with the precedency of the former patent, and remainder
to whichever of his sons by his first wife he might designate
in writing, and ultimately to his heirs-male whatsoever. On the
accession of James II., the Earl was sworn a privy councillor. At
the Revolution, he adhered to the Prince of Orange; and after the
battle of Killiecrankie, and the attempted reduction of the Highlands
by the forces of the new government, he was empowered to enter into
a negotiation with the Jacobite chiefs to induce them to submit to
King William, full details of which, as well as of his share in the
massacre of Glencoe, have been given in the former part of the work.

When the treaty of Union was under discussion, his Lordship kept
aloof, and did not even attend parliament. At the general election
of 1713, he was chosen one of the sixteen Scots representative
peers, being then seventy-eight years old. At the breaking out of
the rebellion of 1715, he sent five hundred of his clan to join the
standard of the Pretender; and he was one of the suspected persons,
with his second son, Lord Glenurchy, summoned to appear at Edinburgh
within a certain specified period, to give bail for their allegiance
to the government, but no further notice was taken of his conduct.
The Earl died in 1716, in his 81st year. He married first, 17th
December 1657, Lady Mary Rich, third daughter of Henry, first Earl
of Holland, who had been executed for his loyalty to Charles the
First, 9th March 1649. By this lady he had two sons--Duncan, styled
Lord Ormelie, who survived his father, but was passed over in the
succession, and John, in his father’s lifetime styled Lord Glenurchy,
who became second Earl of Breadalbane. He married, secondly, 7th
April 1678, Lady Mary Campbell, third daughter of Archibald, Marquis
of Argyll, dowager of George, sixth Earl of Caithness.

John Campbell, Lord Glenurchy, the second son, born 19th November
1662, was by his father nominated to succeed him as second Earl of
Breadalbane, in terms of the patent conferring the title. He died at
Holyrood-house, 23d February 1752, in his ninetieth year. He married,
first, Lady Frances Cavendish, second of the five daughters of Henry,
second Duke of Newcastle. She died, without issue, 4th February 1690,
in her thirtieth year. He married, secondly, 23d May 1695, Henrietta,
second daughter of Sir Edward Villiers, knight, sister of the first
Earl of Jersey, and of Elizabeth, Countess of Orkney, the witty but
plain-looking mistress of King William III. By his second wife he had
a son, John, third earl, and two daughters.

John, third earl, born in 1696, was educated at the university of
Oxford, and after holding many highly important public offices, died
at Holyrood-house, 26th January 1782, in his 86th year. He was twice
married, and had three sons, who all predeceased him.

The male line of the first peer having thus become extinct, the
clause in the patent in favour of heirs-general transferred the
peerage, and the vast estates belonging to it, to his kinsman, John
Campbell, born in 1762, eldest son of Colin Campbell of Carwhin,
descended from Colin Campbell of Mochaster (who died in 1678),
third son of Sir Robert Campbell of Glenurchy. The mother of the
fourth Earl and first Marquis of Breadalbane was Elizabeth, daughter
of Archibald Campbell of Stonefield, sheriff of Argyleshire, and
sister of John Campbell, judicially styled Lord Stonefield, a
lord of session and justiciary. In 1784 he was elected one of the
sixteen representative peers of Scotland, and was rechosen at all
the subsequent elections, until he was created a peer of the United
Kingdom in November 1806, by the title of Baron Breadalbane of
Taymouth, in the county of Perth, to himself and the heirs-male of
his body. In 1831, at the coronation of William the Fourth, he was
created a marquis of the United Kingdom, under the title of Marquis
of Breadalbane and Earl of Ormelie. In public affairs he did not
take a prominent or ostentatious part, his attention being chiefly
devoted to the improvement of his extensive estates, great portions
of which, being unfitted for cultivation, he laid out in plantations.
In the magnificent improvements at Taymouth, his lordship displayed
much taste; and the park has been frequently described as one of
the most extensive and beautiful in the kingdom. He married, 2d
September 1793, Mary Turner, eldest daughter and coheiress of David
Gavin, Esq. of Langton, in the county of Berwick, and by her had two
daughters and one son. The elder daughter, Lady Elizabeth Maitland
Campbell, married in 1831, Sir John Pringle of Stitchell, baronet,
and the younger, Lady Uary Campbell, became in 1819 the wife of
Richard, Marquis of Chandos, who in 1839 became Duke of Buckingham.
The marquis died, after a short illness, at Taymouth Castle, on 29th
March 1834, aged seventy-two.

The marquis’ only son, John Campbell, Earl of Ormelie, born at
Dundee, 26th October 1796, succeeded, on the death of his father, to
the titles and estates. He married, 23d November 1821, Eliza, eldest
daughter of George Baillie, Esq. of Jerviswood, without issue. He
died November 8th, 1862, when the marquisate, with its secondary
titles, in the peerage of the United Kingdom, became extinct, and
he was succeeded in the Scotch titles by a distant kinsman, John
Alexander Gavin Campbell of Glenfalloch, Perthshire, born in 1824.
The claim of the latter, however, was disputed by several candidates
for the titles and rich estates. As we have already indicated, the
title of Glenfalloch to the estates was descended from William,
sixth son of Sir Robert Campbell, ninth laird and third baron
of Glenurchy. He married, in 1850, Mary Theresa, daughter of J.
Edwards, Esq., Dublin, and had issue two sons, Lord Glenurchy and the
Honourable Ivan Campbell; and one daughter, Lady Eva. This the sixth
earl died in London, March 20, 1871, and has been succeeded by his
eldest son.

Of the MACARTHUR CAMPBELLS of STRACHUR, the old Statistical Account
of the parish of Strachur says:--“This family is reckoned by some the
most ancient of the name of Campbell. The late laird of Macfarlane,
who with great genius and assiduity had studied the ancient history
of the Highlands, was of this opinion. The patronymic name of this
family was Macarthur (the son of Arthur), which Arthur, the antiquary
above-mentioned maintains, was brother to Colin, the first of the
Argyll family, and that the representatives of the two brothers
continued for a long time to be known by the names of _Macarthur_
and _Maccaellein_, before they took the surname of Campbell. Another
account makes Arthur the first laird of Strachur, to have descended
of the family of Argyll, at a later period, in which the present
laird seems to acquiesce, by taking, with a mark of cadetcy, the arms
and livery of the family of Argyll, after they had been quartered
with those of Lorn. The laird of Strachur has been always accounted,
according to the custom of the Highlands, chief of the clan Arthur
or Macarthurs.” We have already quoted Mr Skene’s opinion as to the
claims of the Macarthurs to the chiefship of the clan Campbell; we
cannot think these claims have been sufficiently made out.

Macarthur adhered to the cause of Robert the Bruce, and received,
as his reward, a considerable portion of the forfeited territory
of MacDougall of Lorn, Bruce’s great enemy. He obtained also the
keeping of the castle of Dunstaffnage. After the marriage of Sir Neil
Campbell with the king’s sister, the power and possessions of the
Campbell branch rapidly increased, and in the reign of David II. they
appear to have first put forward their claims to the chieftainship,
but were successfully resisted by Macarthur, who obtained a charter
“Arthuro Campbell quod nulli subjicitur pro terris nisi regi.”

In the reign of James I., the chief’s name was John Macarthur, and
so great was his following, that he could bring 1,000 men into the
field. In 1427 that king, in a progress through the north, held
a parliament at Inverness, to which he summoned all the Highland
chiefs, and among others who then felt his vengeance, was John
Macarthur, who was beheaded, and his whole lands forfeited. From
that period the chieftainship, according to Skene, was lost to the
Macarthurs; the family subsequently obtained Strachur in Cowal,
and portions of Glenfalloch and Glendochart in Perthshire. Many of
the name of Macarthur are still found about Dunstaffnage, but they
have long been merely tenants to the Campbells. The Macarthurs were
hereditary pipers to the MacDonalds of the Isles, and the last of the
race was piper to the Highland Society.

In the history of the main clan, we have noted the origin of most of
the offshoots. It may, however, not be out of place to refer to them
again explicitly.

The CAMPBELLS of CAWDOR or CALDER, now represented by the Earl of
Cawdor, had their origin in the marriage in 1510, of Muriella heiress
of the old Thanes of Cawdor, with Sir John Campbell, third son of the
second Earl of Argyll. In the general account of the clan, we have
already detailed the circumstances connected with the bringing about
of this marriage.

The first of the CAMPBELLS of ABERUCHILL, in Perthshire, was Colin
Campbell, second son of Sir John Campbell of Lawers, and uncle of the
first Earl of Loudon. He got from the Crown a charter of the lands
of Aberuchill, in 1596. His son, Sir James Campbell, was created a
baronet of Nova Scotia in the 17th century.

The CAMPBELLS of ARDNAMURCHAN are descended from Sir Donald Campbell,
natural son of Sir John Campbell of Calder, who, as already narrated,
was assassinated in 1592. For services performed against the
Macdonalds, he was in 1625 made heritable proprietor of the district
of Ardnamurchan and Sunart, and was created a baronet in 1628.

The AUCHINBRECK family is descended from Sir Dugald Campbell of
Auchinbreck, who was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1628.

The CAMPBELLS of ARDKINGLASS were an old branch of the house of
Argyll, Sir Colin Campbell, son and heir of James Campbell of
Ardkinglass, descended from the Campbells of Lorn, by Mary, his
wife, daughter of Sir Robert Campbell of Glenurchy, was made a
baronet in 1679. The family ended in an heiress, who married into the
Livingstone family; and on the death of Sir Alexander Livingstone
Campbell of Ardkinglass, in 1810, the title and estate descended to
Colonel James Callander, afterwards Sir James Campbell, his cousin,
son of Sir John Callander of Craigforth, Stirlingshire. At his death
in 1832, without legitimate issue, the title became extinct.

The family of BARCALDINE and GLENURE, in Argyleshire, whose baronetcy
was conferred in 1831, is descended from a younger son of Sir Duncan
Campbell, ancestor of the Marquis of Breadalbane.

The CAMPBELLS of DUNSTAFFNAGE descend from Colin, first Earl of
Argyll. The first baronet was Sir Donald, so created in 1836.

The ancient family of CAMPBELL of MONZIE, in Perthshire, descend, as
above mentioned, from a third son of the family of Glenurchy.

We have already devoted so much space to the account of this
important clan, that it is impossible to enter more minutely into
the history of its various branches, and of the many eminent men
whom it has produced. In the words of Smibert, “pages on pages
might be expended on the minor branches of the Campbell house, and
the list still be defective.” The gentry of the Campbell name are
decidedly the most numerous, on the whole, in Scotland, if the clan
be not indeed the largest. But, as has been before observed, the
great power of the chiefs called into their ranks, nominally, many
other families besides the real Campbells. The lords of that line,
in short, obtained so much of permanent power in the district of the
_Dhu-Galls_, or Irish Celts, as to bring these largely under their
sway, giving to them at the same time that general clan-designation,
respecting the origin of which enough has already been said.

The force of the clan was, in 1427, 1000; in 1715, 4000; and in 1745,

Although each branch of the Campbells has its own peculiar arms,
still there runs through all a family likeness, the difference
generally being very small. All the families of the Campbell name
bear the oared galley in their arms, showing the connection by
origin or intermarriage with the Western Gaels, the Island Kings.
Breadalbane quarters with the Stewart of Lorn, having for supporters
two stags, with the motto _Follow Me_.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Red Whortleberry.]

The clan LEOD or MACLEOD is one of the most considerable clans of the
Western Isles, and is divided into two branches independent of each
other, the Macleods of Harris and the Macleods of Lewis.

To the progenitors of this clan, a Norwegian origin has commonly
been assigned. They are also supposed to be of the same stock as the
Campbells, according to a family history referred to by Mr Skene,
which dates no farther back than the early part of the 16th century.

The genealogy claimed for them asserts that the ancestor of the
chiefs of the clan, and he who gave it its clan name, was Loyd or
Leod, eldest son of King Olave the Black, brother of Magnus, the last
king of Man and the Isles. This Leod is said to have had two sons:
Tormod, progenitor of the Macleods of Harris, hence called the Siol
Tormod, or race of Tormod; and Torquil, of those of Lewis, called
the Siol Torquil, or race of Torquil. Although, however, Mr Skene
and others are of opinion that there is no authority whatever for
such a descent, and “The Chronicle of Man” gives no countenance to
it, we think the probabilities are in its favour, from the manifestly
Norwegian names borne by the founders of the clan, namely, Tormod
or Gorman and Torquil, and from their position in the Isles, from
the very commencement of their known history. The clan itself, there
can be no doubt, are mainly the descendants of the ancient Celtic
inhabitants of the western isles.

Tormod’s grandson, Malcolm, got a charter from David II., of
two-thirds of Glenelg, on the mainland, a portion of the forfeited
lands of the Bissets, in consideration for which he was to provide
a galley of 36 oars, for the king’s use whenever required. This
is the earliest charter in possession of the Macleods. The same
Malcolm obtained the lands in Skye which were long in possession of
his descendants, by marriage with a daughter of MacArailt, said to
have been one of the Norwegian nobles of the Isles. From the name,
however, we would be inclined to take this MacArailt for a Celt. The
sennachies sometimes made sad slips.

MACLEOD of HARRIS, originally designated “de Glenelg,” that being the
first and principal possession of the family, seems to have been the
proper chief of the clan Leod. The island, or rather peninsula of
Harris, which is adjacent to Lewis, belonged, at an early period, to
the Macruaries of Garmoran and the North Isles, under whom the chief
of the Siol Tormod appears to have possessed it. From this family,
the superiority of the North Isles passed to the Macdonalds of Isla
by marriage, and thus Harris came to form a part of the lordship
of the Isles. In the isle of Skye the Siol Tormod possessed the
districts of Dunvegan, Duirinish, Bracadale, Lyndale, Trotternish,
and Minganish, being about two-thirds of the whole island. Their
principal seat was Dunvegan, hence the chief was often styled of that

The first charter of the MACLEODS of LEWIS, or Siol Torquil, is
also one by King David II. It contained a royal grant to Torquil
Macleod of the barony of Assynt, on the north-western coast of
Sutherlandshire. This barony, however, he is said to have obtained
by marriage with the heiress, whose name was Macnicol. It was held
from the crown. In that charter he has no designation, hence it is
thought that he had then no other property. The Lewis Macleods held
that island as vassals of the Macdonalds of Isla from 1344, and
soon came to rival the Harris branch of the Macleods in power and
extent of territory, and even to dispute the chiefship with them.
Their armorial bearings, however, were different, the family of
Harris having a castle, while that of Lewis had a burning mount. The
possessions of the Siol Torquil were very extensive, comprehending
the isles of Lewis and Rasay, the district of Waterness in Skye, and
those of Assynt, Cogeach, and Gairloch, on the mainland.

To return to the Harris branch. The grandson of the above-mentioned
Malcolm, William Macleod, surnamed _Achlerach_, or the clerk, from
being in his youth designed for the church, was one of the most
daring chiefs of his time. Having incurred the resentment of his
superior, the Lord of the Isles, that powerful chief invaded his
territory with a large force, but was defeated at a place called
Lochsligachan. He was, however, one of the principal supporters of
the last Lord of the Isles in his disputes with his turbulent and
rebellious son, Angus, and was killed, in 1481, at the battle of the
Bloody Bay, where also the eldest son of Roderick Macleod of the
Lewis was mortally wounded. The son of William of Harris, Alexander
Macleod, called Allaster _Crottach_, or the Humpbacked, was the head
of the Siol Tormod at the time of the forfeiture of the lordship
of the Isles in 1493, when Roderick, grandson of the above-named
Roderick, was chief of the Siol Torquil. This Roderick’s father,
Torquil, the second son of the first Roderick, was the principal
supporter of Donald Dubh, when he escaped from prison and raised
the banner of insurrection in 1501, for the purpose of regaining
the lordship of the Isles, for which he was forfeited. He married
Katherine, daughter of the first Earl of Argyll, the sister of Donald
Dubh’s mother. The forfeited estate of Lewis was restored in 1511 to
Malcolm, Torquil’s brother. Alexander the Humpback got a charter,
under the great seal, of all his lands in the Isles, from James IV.,
dated 15th June, 1468, under the condition of keeping in readiness
for the king’s use one ship of 26 oars and two of 16. He had also a
charter from James V. of the lands of Glenelg, dated 13th February,

With the Macdonalds of Sleat, the Harris Macleods had a feud
regarding the lands and office of bailiary of Trotternish, in the
isle of Skye, held by them under several crown charters. The feud was
embittered by Macleod having also obtained a heritable grant of the
lands of Sleat and North Uist; and the Siol Torquil, who had also
some claim to the Trotternish bailiary and a portion of the lands,
siding with the Macdonalds, the two leading branches of the Macleods
came to be in opposition to each other. Under Donald Gruamach
(“grim-looking”) aided by the uterine brother of their chief, John
Mactorquil Macleod, son of Torquil Macleod of the Lewis, forfeited
in 1506, the Macdonalds succeeded in expelling Macleod of Harris
or Dunvegan from Trotternish, as well as in preventing him from
taking possession of Sleat and North Uist. The death of his uncle,
Malcolm Macleod, and the minority of his son, enabled Torquil, with
the assistance of Donald Gruamach, in his turn, to seize the whole
barony of Lewis, which, with the leadership of the Siol Torquil, he
held during his life. His daughter and heiress married Donald Gorme
of Sleat, a claimant for the lordship of the Isles, and the son and
successor of Donald Gruamach. An agreement was entered into between
Donald Gorme and Ruari or Roderick Macleod, son of Malcolm, the last
lawful possessor of the Lewis, whereby Roderick was allowed to enter
into possession of that island, and in return Roderick became bound
to assist in putting Donald Gorme in possession of Trotternish,
against all the efforts of the chief of Harris or Dunvegan, who had
again obtained possession of that district. In May 1539, accordingly,
Trotternish was invaded and laid waste by Donald Gorme and his allies
of the Siol Torquil; but the death soon after of Donald Gorme, by an
arrow wound in his foot, under the walls of Mackenzie of Kintail’s
castle of Ellandonan, put an end to his rebellion and his pretensions
together. When the powerful fleet of James V. arrived at the isle of
Lewis the following year, Roderick Macleod and his principal kinsmen
met the king, and were made to accompany him in his farther progress
through the Isles. On its reaching Skye, Alexander Macleod of
Dunvegan was also constrained to embark in the royal fleet. With the
other captive chiefs they were sent to Edinburgh, and only liberated
on giving hostages for their obedience to the laws.

Alexander the Humpback, chief of the Harris Macleods, died at an
advanced age in the reign of Queen Mary. He had three sons, William,
Donald, and Tormod, who all succeeded to the estates and authority of
their family. He had also two daughters, the elder of whom was thrice
married, and every time to a Macdonald. Her first husband was James,
second son of the fourth laird of Sleat. Her second was Allan MacIan,
captain of the Clanranald; and her third husband was Macdonald of
Keppoch. The younger daughter became the wife of Maclean of Lochbuy.

William Macleod of Harris had a daughter, Mary, who, on his death in
1554, became under a particular destination, his sole heiress in the
estates of Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg. His claim to the properties
of Sleat, Trotternish, and North Uist, of which he was the nominal
proprietor, but which were held by the Clandonald, was inherited by
his next brother and successor, Donald. This state of things placed
the latter in a very anomalous position, which may be explained in Mr
Gregory’s words:--“The Siol Tormod,” he says,[180] “was now placed
in a position, which, though quite intelligible on the principles
of feudal law, was totally opposed to the Celtic customs that still
prevailed, to a great extent, throughout the Highlands and Isles.
A female and a minor was the legal proprietrix of the ancient
possessions of the tribe, which, by her marriage, might be conveyed
to another and a hostile family; whilst her uncle, the natural leader
of the clan according to ancient custom, was left without any means
to keep up the dignity of a chief, or to support the clan against
its enemies. His claims on the estates possessed by the Clandonald
were worse than nugatory, as they threatened to involve him in a
feud with that powerful and warlike tribe, in case he should take any
steps to enforce them. In these circumstances, Donald Macleod seized,
apparently with the consent of his clan, the estates which legally
belonged to his niece, the heiress; and thus, in practice, the feudal
law was made to yield to ancient and inveterate custom. Donald did
not enjoy these estates long, being murdered in Trotternish, by a
relation of his own, John Oig Macleod, who, failing Tormod, the only
remaining brother of Donald, would have become the heir male of the
family. John Oig next plotted the destruction of Tormod, who was at
the time a student in the university of Glasgow; but in this he was
foiled by the interposition of the Earl of Argyll. He continued,
notwithstanding, to retain possession of the estates of the heiress,
and of the command of the clan, till his death in 1559.” The heiress
of Harris was one of Queen Mary’s maids of honour, and the Earl of
Argyll, having ultimately become her guardian, she was given by him
in marriage to his kinsman, Duncan Campbell, younger of Auchinbreck.
Through the previous efforts of the earl, Tormod Macleod, on
receiving a legal title to Harris and the other estates, renounced
in favour of Argyll all his claims to the lands of the Clandonald,
and paid 1000 merks towards the dowry of his niece. He also gave his
bond of service to Argyll for himself and his clan. Mary Macleod, in
consequence, made a complete surrender to her uncle of her title to
the lands of Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg, and Argyll obtained for
him a crown charter of these estates, dated 4th August, 1579. Tormod
adhered firmly to the interest of Queen Mary, and died in 1584. He
was succeeded by his eldest son, William, under whom the Harris
Macleods assisted the Macleans in their feuds with the Macdonalds
of Isla and Skye, while the Lewis Macleods supported the latter. On
his death in 1590, his brother, Roderick, the Rory Mor of tradition,
became chief of the Harris Macleods.

In December 1597, an act of the Estates had been passed, by which it
was made imperative upon all the chieftains and landlords in the
Highlands and Isles, to produce their title-deeds before the lords
of Exchequer on the 15th of the following May, under the pain of
forfeiture. The heads of the two branches of the Macleods disregarded
the act, and a gift of their estates was granted to a number of Fife
gentlemen, for the purposes of colonisation. They first began with
the Lewis, in which the experiment failed, as narrated in the General
History. Roderick Macleod, on his part, exerted himself to get the
forfeiture of his lands of Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg, removed,
and ultimately succeeded, having obtained a remission from the king,
dated 4th May, 1610. He was knighted by King James VI., by whom he
was much esteemed, and had several friendly letters from his majesty;
also, a particular license, dated 16th June, 1616, to go to London,
to the court, at any time he pleased. By his wife, a daughter of
Macdonald of Glengarry, he had, with six daughters, five sons, viz.,
John, his heir; Sir Roderick, progenitor of the Macleods of Talisker;
Sir Norman of the Macleods of Bernera and Muiravonside; William of
the Macleods of Hamer; and Donald of those of Grisernish.

The history of the Siol Torquil, or Lewis Macleods, as it approached
its close, was most disastrous. Roderick, the chief of this branch
in 1569, got involved in a deadly feud with the Mackenzies, which
ended only with the destruction of his whole family. He had married
a daughter of John Mackenzie of Kintail, and a son whom she bore,
and who was named Torquil _Connanach_, from his residence among his
mother’s relations in Strathconnan, was disowned by him, on account
of the alleged adultery of his mother with the breve or Celtic judge
of the Lewis. She eloped with John MacGillechallum of Rasay, a
cousin of Roderick, and was, in consequence, divorced. He took for
his second wife, in 1541, Barbara Stewart, daughter of Andrew Lord
Avondale, and by this lady had a son, likewise named Torquil, and
surnamed _Oighre_, or the Heir, to distinguish him from the other
Torquil. About 1566, the former, with 200 attendants, was drowned in
a tempest, when sailing from Lewis to Skye, and Torquil Connanach
immediately took up arms to vindicate what he conceived to be his
rights. In his pretensions he was supported by the Mackenzies.
Roderick was apprehended and detained four years a prisoner in the
castle of Stornoway. The feud between the Macdonalds and Mackenzies
was put an end to by the mediation of the Regent Moray. Before being
released from his captivity, the old chief was brought before the
Regent and his privy council, and compelled to resign his estate into
the hands of the crown, taking a new destination of it to himself
in liferent, and after his death to Torquil _Connanach_, as his son
and heir apparent. On regaining his liberty, however, he revoked
all that he had done when a prisoner, on the ground of coercion.
This led to new commotions, and in 1576 both Roderick and Torquil
were summoned to Edinburgh, and reconciled in presence of the privy
council, when the latter was again acknowledged as heir apparent to
the Lewis, and received as such the district of Cogeach and other
lands. The old chief some time afterwards took for his third wife, a
sister of Lauchlan Maclean of Dowart, and had by her two sons, named
Torquil Dubh and Tormod. Having again disinherited Torquil Connanach,
that young chief once more took up arms, and was supported by two
illegitimate sons of Roderick, named Tormod _Uigach_ and Murdoch,
while three others, Donald, Rory Oig, and Neill, joined with their
father. He apprehended the old chief, Roderick Macleod, and killed a
number of his men. All the charters and title deeds of the Lewis were
carried off by Torquil, and handed over to the Mackenzies. The charge
of the castle of Stornoway, with the chief, a prisoner in it, was
committed to John Macleod, the son of Torquil Connanach, but he was
attacked by Rory Oig and killed, when Roderick Macleod was released,
and possessed the island in peace during the remainder of his life.

On his death he was succeeded by his son Torquil Dubh, who married a
sister of Sir Roderick Macleod of Harris. Torquil Dubh, as we have
narrated in the former part of the work, was by stratagem apprehended
by the breve of Lewis, and carried to the country of the Mackenzies,
into the presence of Lord Kintail, who ordered Torquil Dubh and his
companions to be beheaded. This took place in July 1597.

Torquil Dubh left three young sons, and their uncle Neill, a bastard
brother of their father, took, in their behalf, the command of the
isle of Lewis. Their cause was also supported by the Macleods of
Harris and the Macleans. The dissensions in the Lewis, followed by
the forfeiture of that island, in consequence of the non-production
of the title-deeds, as required by the act of the Estates of 1597,
already mentioned, afforded the king an opportunity of trying to
carry into effect his abortive project of colonisation already
referred to. The colonists were at last compelled to abandon their

The title to the Lewis having been acquired by Kenneth Mackenzie,
Lord Kintail, he lost no time in taking possession of the island,
expelling Neill Macleod, with his nephews, Malcolm, William, and
Roderick, sons of Rory Oig, who, with about thirty others, took
refuge on Berrisay, an insulated rock on the west coast of Lewis.
Here they maintained themselves for nearly three years, but were
at length driven from it by the Mackenzies. Neill surrendered to
Roderick Macleod of Harris, who, on being charged, under pain of
treason, to deliver him to the privy council at Edinburgh, gave him
up, with his son Donald. Neill was brought to trial, convicted, and
executed, and is said to have died “very Christianlie” in April
1613. Donald, his son, was banished from Scotland, and died in
Holland. Roderick and William, two of the sons of Rory Oig, were
seized by the tutor of Kintail, and executed. Malcolm, the other
son, apprehended at the same time, made his escape, and continued to
harass the Mackenzies for years. He was prominently engaged in Sir
James Macdonald’s rebellion in 1615, and afterwards went to Flanders,
but in 1616 was once more in the Lewis, where he killed two gentlemen
of the Mackenzies. He subsequently went to Spain, whence he returned
with Sir James Macdonald in 1620. In 1622 and 1626, commissions of
fire and sword were granted to Lord Kintail and his clan against
“Malcolm MacRuari Macleod.” Nothing more is known of him.

On the extinction of the main line of the Lewis, the representation
of the family devolved on the Macleods of Rasay, afterwards referred
to. The title of Lord Macleod was the second title of the Mackenzies,
Earls of Cromarty.

At the battle of Worcester in 1651, the Macleods fought on the
side of Charles II., and so great was the slaughter amongst them
that it was agreed by the other clans that they should not engage
in any other conflict until they had recovered their losses. The
Harris estates were sequestrated by Cromwell, but the chief of the
Macleods was at last, in May 1665, admitted into the protection of
the Commonwealth by General Monk, on his finding security for his
peaceable behaviour under the penalty of £6,000 sterling, and paying
a fine of £2,500. Both his uncles, however, were expressly excepted.

At the Revolution, MACLEOD of MACLEOD, which became the designation
of the laird of Harris, as chief of the clan, was favourable to the
cause of James II. In 1715 the effective force of the Macleods was
1,000 men, and in 1745, 900. The chief, by the advice of President
Forbes, did not join in the rebellion of the latter year, and so
saved his estates, but many of his clansmen, burning with zeal for
the cause of Prince Charles, fought in the ranks of the rebel army.

It has been mentioned that the bad treatment which a daughter of
the chief of the Macleods experienced from her husband, the captain
of the Clanranald, had caused them to take the first opportunity of
inflicting a signal vengeance on the Macdonalds. The merciless act of
Macleod, by which the entire population of an island was cut off at
once, is described by Mr Skene,[181] and is shortly thus. Towards the
close of the 16th century, a small number of Macleods accidentally
landed on the island of Eigg, and were hospitably received by the
inhabitants. Offering, however, some incivilities to the young women
of the island, they were, by the male relatives of the latter,
bound hand and foot, thrown into a boat, and sent adrift. Being met
and rescued by a party of their own clansmen, they were brought to
Dunvegan, the residence of their chief, to whom they told their
story. Instantly manning his galleys, Macleod hastened to Eigg. On
descrying his approach, the islanders, with their wives and children,
to the number of 200 persons, took refuge in a large cave, situated
in a retired and secret place. Here for two days they remained
undiscovered, but having unfortunately sent out a scout to see if
the Macleods were gone, their retreat was detected, but they refused
to surrender. A stream of water fell over the entrance to the cave,
and partly concealed it. This Macleod caused to be turned from its
course, and then ordered all the wood and other combustibles which
could be found to be piled up around its mouth, and set fire to, when
all within the cave were suffocated.

The Siol Tormod continued to possess Harris, Dunvegan, and Glenelg
till near the close of the 18th century. The former and the latter
estates have now passed into other hands. A considerable portion
of Harris is the property of the Earl of Dunmore, and many of its
inhabitants have emigrated to Cape Breton and Canada. The climate
of the island is said to be favourable to longevity. Martin, in his
account of the Western Isles, says he knew several in Harris of 90
years of age. One Lady Macleod, who passed the most of her time
here, lived to 103, had then a comely head of hair and good teeth,
and enjoyed a perfect understanding till the week she died. Her son,
Sir Norman Macleod, died at 96, and his grandson, Donald Macleod of
Bernera, at 91. Glenelg became the property first of Charles Grant,
Lord Glenelg, and afterwards of Mr Baillie. From the family of
Bernera, one of the principal branches of the Harris Macleods, sprung
the Macleods of Luskinder, of which Sir William Macleod Bannatyne, a
lord of session, was a cadet.

The first of the house of RASAY, the late proprietor of which is the
representative of the Lewis branch of the Macleods, was Malcolm Garbh
Macleod, the second son of Malcolm, eighth chief of the Lewis. In
the reign of James V. he obtained from his father in patrimony the
island of Rasay, which lies between Skye and the Ross-shire district
of Applecross. In 1569 the whole of the Rasay family, except one
infant, were barbarously massacred by one of their own kinsmen,
under the following circumstances. John MacGhilliechallum Macleod of
Rasay, called _Ian na Tuaidh_, or John with the axe, who had carried
off Janet Mackenzie, the first wife of his chief, Roderick Macleod
of the Lewis, married her, after her divorce, and had by her several
sons and one daughter. The latter became the wife of Alexander Roy
Mackenzie, a grandson of Hector or Eachen Roy, the first of the
Mackenzies of Gairloch, a marriage which gave great offence to his
clan, the Siol vic Gillechallum, as the latter had long been at feud
with that particular branch of the Mackenzies. On Janet Mackenzie’s
death, he of the axe married a sister of a kinsman of his own, Ruari
Macallan Macleod, who, from his venomous disposition, was surnamed
_Nimhneach_. The latter, to obtain Rasay for his nephew, his sister’s
son, resolved to cut off both his brother-in-law and his sons by
the first marriage. He accordingly invited them to a feast in the
island of Isay in Skye, and after it was over he left the apartment.
Then, causing them to be sent for one by one, he had each of them
assassinated as they came out. He was, however, balked in his object,
as Rasay became the property of Malcolm or Ghilliechallum Garbh
Macallaster Macleod, then a child, belonging to the direct line of
the Rasay branch, who was with his foster-father at the time.[182]
Rasay no longer belongs to the Macleods, they having been compelled
to part with their patrimony some years ago.

The Macleods of ASSYNT, one of whom betrayed the great Montrose in
1650, were also a branch of the Macleods of Lewis. That estate,
towards the end of the 17th century, became the property of the
Mackenzies, and the family is now represented by Macleod of Geanies.
The Macleods of Cadboll are cadets of those of Assynt.


[172] Smibert’s _Clans_, pp. 77, 78.

[173] _Highlanders_, ii. 266.

[174] _Early Kings_, i. 75.

[175] In March 1870, the present Duke, in answer to inquiries, wrote
to the papers stating that he spells his name _Argyll_, because it
has been spelled so by his ancestors for generations past.

[176] This, through the mis-spelling, intentional or unintentional,
of Sir Walter Scott, is often popularly corrupted into Maccallum
More, which, of course, is wrong, as the _great or big_ ancestor’s
name was _Colin_, not _Callum_.

[177] In 1489, by an act of the Scottish parliament, the name of
Castle Gloom, its former designation, was changed to Castle Campbell.
It continued to be the frequent and favourite residence of the family
till 1644, when it was burnt down by the Macleans in the army of
the Marquis of Montrose. The castle and lordship of Castle Campbell
remained in the possession of the Argyll family till 1808, when it
was sold.

[178] _Highlands and Isles of Scotland_, p. 128.

[179] _Calderwood_, vol. ii. p. 215.

[180] _History of the Highlands and Isles_, p. 204.

[181] _Highlanders_, vol. ii. p. 277.

[182] _Gregory’s Highlands and Isles of Scotland_, p. 211.


  Clan Chattan--Chiefship--Mackintoshes--Battle of North Inch


Of the clan Chattan little or nothing authentic is known previous to
the last six hundred years. Their original home in Scotland, their
parentage, even their name, have been disputed. One party brings them
from Germany, and settles them in the district of Moray; another
brings them from Ireland, and settles them in Lochaber; and a third
makes them the original inhabitants of Sutherland and Caithness.
With regard to their name there is still greater variety of opinion:
the _Catti_, a Teutonic tribe; _Catav_, “the high side of the Ord of
Caithness;” _Gillicattan Mor_, their alleged founder, said to have
lived in the reign of Malcolm II., 1003-1033; _cat_, a weapon,--all
have been advanced as the root name. We cannot pretend to decide on
such a matter, which, in the entire absence of any record of the
original clan, will no doubt ever remain one open to dispute; and
therefore we refrain from entering at length into the reasons for
and against these various derivations. Except the simple fact that
such a clan existed, and occupied Lochaber for some time (how long
cannot be said) before the 14th century, nothing further of it is
known, although two elaborate genealogies of it are extant--one in
the MS. of 1450 discovered by Mr Skene; the other (which, whatever
its faults, is no doubt much more worthy of credence) compiled by Sir
Æneas Macpherson in the 17th century.

Mr Skene, on the authority of the MS. of 1450, makes out that the
clan was the most important of the tribes owning the sway of the
native Earls or Maormors of Moray, and represents it as occupying the
whole of Badenoch, the greater part of Lochaber, and the districts
of Strathnairn and Strathdearn, holding their lands in chief of the
crown. But it seems tolerably evident that the MS. of 1450 is by no
means to be relied upon; Mr Skene himself says it is not trustworthy
before A.D. 1000, and there is no good ground for supposing it
to be entirely trustworthy 100 or even 200 years later. The two
principal septs of this clan in later times, the Macphersons and the
Mackintoshes, Mr Skene, on the authority of the MS., deduces from two
brothers, Neachtan and Neill, sons of Gillicattan Mor, and on the
assumption that this is correct, he proceeds to pronounce judgment on
the rival claims of Macpherson of Cluny and Mackintosh of Mackintosh
to the headship of clan Chattan.

Mr Skene, from “the investigations which he has made into the
history of the tribes of Moray, as well as into the history and
nature of Highland traditions,” conceives it to be established by
“historic authority,” that the Macphersons are the lineal and feudal
representatives of the ancient chiefs of the clan Chattan, and
“that they possess that right by blood to the chiefship, of which
no charters from the crown, and no usurpation, however successful
and continued, can deprive them.” It is not very easy to understand,
however, by what particular process of reasoning Mr Skene has arrived
at this conclusion. For supposing it were established “beyond all
doubt,” as he assumes it to be, by the manuscript of 1450, that the
Macphersons and the Mackintoshes are descended from Neachtan and
Neill, the two sons of Gillichattan-more, the founder of the race,
it does not therefore follow that “the Mackintoshes were an usurping
branch of the clan,” and that “the Macphersons alone possessed the
right of blood to that hereditary dignity.” This is indeed taking
for granted the very point to be proved, in fact the whole matter
in dispute. Mr Skene affirms that the descent of the Macphersons
from the ancient chiefs “is not denied,” which is in reality saying
nothing to the purpose; because the question is, not whether this
pretended descent has or has not been denied, but whether it can
now be established by satisfactory evidence. To make out a case in
favour of the Macphersons, it is necessary to show--first, that the
descendants of Neachtan formed the eldest branch, and consequently
were the chiefs of the clan; secondly, that the Macphersons _are_
the lineal descendants and the feudal representatives of this same
Neachtan, whom they claim as their ancestor; and, lastly, that the
Mackintoshes are really descended from Neill, the second son of the
founder of the race, and not from Macduff, Earl of Fife, as they
themselves have always maintained. But we do not observe that any of
these points has been formally proved by evidence, or that Mr Skene
has deemed it necessary to fortify his assertions by arguments, and
deductions from historical facts. His statement, indeed, amounts
just to this--That the family of Macheth, the descendants of Head or
Heth, the son of Neachtan, were “identical with the chiefs of clan
Chattan;” and that the clan Vurich, or Macphersons, were descended
from these chiefs. But, in the first place, the “identity” which is
here contended for, and upon which the whole question hinges, is
imagined rather than proved; it is a conjectural assumption rather
than an inference deduced from a series of probabilities: and,
secondly, the descent of the clan Vurich from the Macheths rests
solely upon the authority of a Celtic genealogy (the manuscript of
1450) which, whatever weight may be given to it when supported by
collateral evidence, is not alone sufficient authority to warrant
anything beyond a mere conjectural inference. Hence, so far from
granting to Mr Skene that the hereditary title of the Macphersons of
Cluny to the chiefship of clan Chattan has been clearly established
by him, we humbly conceive that he has left the question precisely
where he found it. The title of that family may be the preferable
one, but it yet remains to be shown that such is the case.

Tradition certainly makes the Macphersons of Cluny the male
representatives of the chiefs of the old clan Chattan; but even if
this is correct, it does not therefore follow that they have now, or
have had for the last six hundred years, any right to be regarded
as chiefs of the clan. The same authority, fortified by written
evidence of a date only about fifty years later than Skene’s MS.,
in a MS. history of the Mackintoshes, states that Angus, 6th chief
of Mackintosh, married the daughter and only child of Dugall Dall,
chief of clan Chattan, in the end of the 13th century, and with her
obtained the lands occupied by the clan, with the station of leader,
and that he was _received_ as such by the clansmen. Similar instances
of the abrogation of what is called the Highland law of succession
are to be found in Highland history, and on this ground alone the
title of the Mackintosh chiefs seems to be a good one. Then again we
find them owned and followed as captains of clan Chattan even by the
Macphersons themselves up to the 17th century; while in hundreds of
charters, bonds and deeds of every description, given by kings, Lords
of the Isles, neighbouring chiefs, and the septs of clan Chattan
itself, is the title of captain of clan Chattan acceded to them--as
early as the time of David II. Mr Skene, indeed, employs their usage
of the term Captain to show that they had no right of blood to the
headship--a right they have never claimed, although there is perhaps
no reason why they should not claim such a right from Eva. By an
argument deduced from the case of the Camerons--the weakness of which
will at once be seen on a careful examination of his statements--he
presumes that they were the oldest cadets of the clan, and had
usurped the chiefship. Ho doubt the designation captain was used,
as Mr Skene says, when the actual leader of a clan was a person
who had no right by blood to that position, but it does not by any
means follow that he is right in assuming that those who are called
captains were _oldest cadets_. Hector, _bastard son_ of Ferquhard
Mackintosh, while at the head of his clan during the minority of
the actual chief, his distant cousin, is in several deeds styled
_captain_ of clan Chattan, and he was certainly not oldest cadet of
the house of Mackintosh.

It is not for us to offer any decided opinion respecting a matter
where the pride and pretensions of rival families are concerned. It
may therefore be sufficient to observe that, whilst the Macphersons
rest their claims chiefly on tradition, the Mackintoshes have
produced, and triumphantly appealed to charters and documents of
every description, in support of their pretensions; and that it is
not very easy to see how so great a mass of written evidence can be
overcome by merely calling into court Tradition to give testimony
adverse to its credibility. The admitted fact of the Mackintosh
family styling themselves captains of the clan does not seem to
warrant any inference which can militate against their pretensions.
On the contrary, the original assumption of this title obviously
implies that no chief was in existence at the period when it was
assumed; and its continuance, unchallenged and undisputed, affords
strong presumptive proof in support of the account given by the
Mackintoshes as to the original constitution of their title. The
idea of usurpation appears to be altogether preposterous. The right
alleged by the family of Mackintosh was not direct but collateral;
it was founded on a marriage, and not derived by descent; and hence,
probably, the origin of the secondary or subordinate title of captain
which that family assumed. But can any one doubt that if a claim
founded upon a preferable title had been asserted, the inferior
pretension must have given way? Or is it in any degree probable that
the latter would have been so fully recognised, if there had existed
any lineal descendant of the ancient chiefs in a condition to prefer
a claim founded upon the inherent and indefeasible right of blood?

Further, even allowing that the Macphersons are the lineal male
representatives of the old clan Chattan chiefs, they can have no
possible claim to the headship of the clan Chattan of later times,
which was composed of others besides the descendants of the old clan.
The Mackintoshes also repudiate any connection by blood with the old
clan Chattan, except through the heiress of that clan who married
their chief in 1291; and, indeed, such a thing was never thought
of until Mr Skene started the idea; consequently the Macphersons
can have no claim over them, or over the families which spring from
them. The great body of the clan, the _historical_ clan Chattan, have
always owned and followed the chief of Mackintosh as their leader
and captain--the term captain being simply employed to include the
whole--and until the close of the 17th century no attempt was made to
deprive the Mackintosh chiefs of this title.

Among many other titles given to the chief of the Mackintoshes within
the last 700 years, are, according to Mr Fraser-Mackintosh, those of
_Captain of Clan Chattan_, _Chief of Clan Chattan_, and _Principal
of Clan Chattan_. The following on this subject is from the pen of
Lachlan Shaw, the historian of Moray, whose knowledge of the subject
entitled him to speak with authority. It is printed in the account
of _the Kilravock Family_ issued by the Spalding Club. “Eve Catach,
who married MacIntosh, was the heir-female (Clunie’s ancestor being
the heir-male), and had MacIntosh assumed her surname, he would (say
the MacPhersons) have been chief of the Clanchatan, according to the
custom of Scotland. But this is an empty distinction. For, if the
right of chiftanry is, _jure sanguinis_, inherent in the heir-female,
she conveys it, and cannot but convey it to her son, whatever surname
he takes; _nam jura sanguinis non prœscribunt_. And if it is not
inherent in her, she cannot convey it to her son, although he assume
her surname. Be this as it will, MacIntosh’s predecessors were, for
above 300 years, designed Captains of Clanchatan, in royal charters
and commissions, in bonds, contracts, history, heraldrie, &c.; the
occasion of which title was, that several tribes or clans (every
clan retaining its own surname) united in the general designation of
Clanchatan; and of this incorporated body, MacIntosh was the head
leader or captain. These united tribes were MacIntosh, MacPherson,
Davidson, Shaw, MacBean, MacGilivray, MacQueen, Smith, MacIntyre,
MacPhail, &c. In those times of barbarity and violence, small and
weak tribes found it necessary to unite with, or come under the
patronage of more numerous and powerful clans. And as long as the
tribes of Clanchatan remained united (which was till the family of
Gordon, breaking with the family of MacIntosh, disunited them, and
broke their coalition), they were able to defend themselves against
any other clan.”

In a MS., probably written by the same author, a copy of which now
lies before us, a lengthened enquiry into the claims of the rival
chiefs is concluded thus:--“In a word, if by the chief of the clan
Chattan is meant the heir of the family, it cannot be doubted that
Cluny is chief. If the heir whatsoever is meant, then unquestionably
Mackintosh is chief; and whoever is chief, since the captaincy and
command of the collective body of the clan Chattan was for above
300 years in the family of Mackintosh, I cannot see but, if such a
privilege now remains, it is still in that family.” In reference to
this much-disputed point, we take the liberty of quoting a letter
of the Rev. W. G. Shaw, of Forfar. He has given the result of his
inquiries in several privately printed brochures, but it is hoped
that ere long he will place at the disposal of all who take an
interest in these subjects the large stores of information he must
have accumulated on many matters connected with the Highlands.
Writing to the editor of this book he says, on the subject of the
chiefship of clan Chattan:--

“Skene accords too much to the Macphersons in one way, but not enough
in another.

“(_Too much_)--He says that for 200 years the Mackintoshes headed the
clan Chattan, but only as _captain_, not as chief. But during these
200 years we have bonds, &c., cropping up now and then in which the
Macphersons are _only_ designated as (_M._ or _N._) _Macpherson of
Cluny_. Their claim to _headship_ seems to have been thoroughly in
abeyance till the middle of the 17th century.

“(_Too little_)--For he says the Macphersons in their controversy
(1672) before the Lyon King, pled _only_ tradition, whereas they pled
the _facts_.

“_De jure_ the Macphersons were chiefs; _de facto_, they _never_
were; and they only _claimed_ to use the _title_ when clanship began
to be a thing of the past, in so far as _fighting_ was concerned.

“The Macphersons seem to have been entitled to the chieftainship by
right of birth, but _de facto_ they never had it. The _might_ of ‘the
_Macintosh_’ had made his _right_, as is evidenced in half-a-hundred
bonds of manrent, deeds of various kinds, to be found in the ‘Thanes
of Cawdor,’ and the Spalding Club Miscellany--_passim_. He is always
called Capitane or Captane of clan Quhattan, the spelling being
scarcely ever twice the same.”

Against _Mackintosh’s_ powerful claims supported by deeds, &c., the
following statements are given from the _Macpherson MS._ in Mr W. G.
Shaw’s possession:--

I. In 1370, the head of the Macphersons disowned the head of the
Mackintoshes at Invernahavon. Tradition says Macpherson withdrew
from the field without fighting, _i.e._, he mutinied on a point of
precedence between him and Mackintosh.

II. Donald More Macpherson fought along with Marr at Harlaw,
_against_ Donald of the Isles with _Mackintosh_ on his side, the two
chiefs being then on different sides (1411).

III. Donald Oig Macpherson fought on the side of Huntly at the battle
of Corrichie, and was killed; Mackintosh fought on the other side

IV. Andrew Macpherson of Cluny held the Castle of Ruthven, A.D. 1594,
against Argyll, Mackintosh fighting on the side of Argyll.[184]

This tends to show that when the Macphersons joined with the
Mackintoshes, it was (they alleged) _voluntarily_, and not on account
of their being bound to follow Mackintosh as chief.

In a loose way, no doubt, Mackintosh may sometimes have been called
_Chief of Clan Chattan_, but _Captain_ is the title generally given
in deeds of all kinds. He was chief of the Mackintoshes, as Cluny
was chief of the Macphersons--by _right of blood_; but by agreement
amongst the Shaws, Macgillivrays, Clarkes, (Clerach), Clan Dai, &c.,
renewed from time to time, Mackintosh was recognised as _Captain of
Clan Chattan_.

We cannot forbear adding as a fit moral to this part of the
subject, the conclusion come to by the writer of the MS. already
quoted:--“After what I have said upon this angry point, I cannot but
be of opinion, that in our day, when the right of chieftanrie is so
little regarded, when the power of the chiefs is so much abridged,
when armed convocations of the lieges are discharged by law, and when
a clan are not obliged to obey their chief unless he bears a royal
commission,--when matters are so, ’tis my opinion that questions
about chieftainrie and debates about precedency of that kind, are
equally idle and unprofitable, and that gentlemen should live in
strict friendship as they are connected by blood, by affinity, or by
the vicinity of their dwellings and the interest of their families.”

The clan Chattan of history, according to Mr Fraser-Mackintosh
of Drummond,[185] was composed of the following clans, who were
either allied to the Mackintoshes and Macphersons by genealogy,
or who, for their own protection or other reasons, had joined the
confederacy:--The Mackintoshes, Macphersons, Macgillivrays, Shaws,
Farquharsons, Macbeans, Macphails, clan Tarril, Gows (said to
be descended from Henry the Smith, of North Inch fame), Clarks,
Macqueens, Davidsons, Cattanachs, clan Ay, Nobles, Gillespies. “In
addition to the above sixteen tribes, the Macleans of Dochgarroch
or clan Tearleach, the Dallases of Cantray, and others, generally
followed the captain of clan Chattan as his friends.” Of some of
these little or nothing is known except the name; but others, as the
Mackintoshes, Macphersons, Shaws, Farquharsons, &c., have on the
whole a complete and well-detailed history.


[Illustration: BADGE-According to some, Boxwood, others, Red

According to the Mackintosh MS. Histories (the first of which was
compiled about 1500, other two dated in the 16th century, all of
which were embodied in a Latin MS. by Lachlan Mackintosh of Kinrara
about 1680), the progenitor of the family was Shaw or Seach, a
son of Macduff, Earl of Fife, who, for his assistance in quelling
a rebellion among the inhabitants of Moray, was presented by King
Malcolm IV. with the lands of Petty and Breachly and the forestry of
Strathearn, being made also constable of the castle at Inverness.
From the high position and power of his father, he was styled by
the Gaelic-speaking population Mac-an-Toisich, _i.e._, “son of the
principal or foremost.” _Tus_, _tos_, or _tosich_, is “the beginning
or first part of anything,” whence “foremost” or “principal.” Mr
Skene says the _tosich_ was the oldest cadet of a clan, and that
Mackintosh’s ancestor was oldest cadet of clan Chattan. Professor
Cosmo Innes says the _tosich_ was the administrator of the crown
lands, the head man of a little district, who became under the Saxon
title of Thane hereditary tenant; and it is worthy of note that these
functions were performed by the successor of the above mentioned
Shaw, who, the family history says, “was made chamberlain of the
king’s revenues in those parts for life.” It is scarcely likely,
however, that the name Mackintosh arose either in this manner or in
the manner stated by Mr Skene, as there would be many tosachs, and
in every clan an oldest cadet. The name seems to imply some peculiar
circumstances, and these are found in the son of the great Thane or
Earl of Fife.

[Illustration: MACKINTOSH. (Tartan)]

Little is known of the immediate successors of Shaw Macduff. They
appear to have made their residence in the castle of Inverness, which
they defended on several occasions against the marauding bands from
the west. Some of them added considerably to the possessions of the
family, which soon took firm root in the north. Towards the close
of the 13th century, during the minority of Angus MacFerquhard, 6th
chief, the Comyns seized the castle of Inverness, and the lands of
Geddes and Rait belonging to the Mackintoshes, and these were not
recovered for more than a century. It was this chief who in 1291-2
married Eva, the heiress of clan Chattan, and who acquired with
her the lands occupied by that clan, together with the station of
leader of her father’s clansmen. He appears to have been a chief of
great activity, and a staunch supporter of Robert Bruce, with whom
he took part in the battle of Bannockburn. He is placed second
in the list of chiefs given by General Stewart of Garth as present
in this battle. In the time of his son William the sanguinary feud
with the Camerons broke out, which continued up to the middle of
the 17th century. The dispute arose concerning the lands of Glenlui
and Locharkaig, which Angus Mackintosh had acquired with Eva, and
which in his absence had been occupied by the Camerons. William
fought several battles for the recovery of these lands, to which in
1337 he acquired a charter from the Lord of the Isles, confirmed in
1357 by David II., but his efforts were unavailing to dislodge the
Camerons. The feud was continued by his successor, Lauchlan, 8th
chief, each side occasionally making raids into the other’s country.
In one of these is said to have occurred the well-known dispute as to
precedency between two of the septs of clan Chattan, the Macphersons
and the Davidsons. According to tradition, the Camerons had entered
Badenoch, where Mackintosh was then residing, and had seized a large
“spreagh.” Mackintosh’s force, which followed them, was composed
chiefly of these two septs, the Macphersons, however, considerably
exceeding the rest. A dispute arising between the respective leaders
of the Macphersons and Davidsons as to who should lead the right
wing, the chief of Mackintosh, as superior to both, was appealed to,
and decided in favour of Davidson. Offended at this, the Macphersons,
who, if all accounts are true, had undoubtedly the better right to
the post of honour, withdrew from the field of battle, thus enabling
the Camerons to secure a victory. When, however, they saw that their
friends were defeated, the Macphersons are said to have returned to
the field, and turned the victory of the Camerons into a defeat,
killing their leader, Charles MacGillonie. The date of this affair,
which took place at Invernahavon, is variously fixed at 1370 and
1384, and some writers make it the cause which led to the famous
battle on the North Inch of Perth twenty-six years later.

As is well known, great controversies have raged as to the clans
who took part in the Perth fight, and those writers just referred
to decide the question by making the Macphersons and Davidsons the
combatant clans.[186]

Wyntoun’s words are--

      “They three score ware clannys twa,
      Clahynnhe Qwhewyl and Clachinyha,
      Of thir twa kynnys war thay men,
      Thretty again thretty then,
      And thare thay had thair chiftanys twa,
      SCHA FARQWHARIS SONE wes ane of thay,
      The tother CHRISTY JOHNESONE.”

On this the Rev. W. G. Shaw of Forfar remarks,--“One writer (Dr
Macpherson) tries to make out that the clan Yha or Ha was the clan
Shaw. Another makes them to be the clan Dhai or Davidsons. Another
(with Skene) makes them Macphersons. As to the clan Quhele, Colonel
Robertson (author of ‘Historical Proofs of the Highlanders,’)
supposes that the clan Quhele was the clan Shaw, partly from the fact
that in the Scots Act of Parliament of 1392 (vol. i. p. 217), whereby
several clans were forfeited for their share in the raid of Angus
[described in vol. i.], there is mention made of Slurach, or (as it
is supposed it ought to have been written) Sheach[187] _et omnes clan
Quhele_. Then others again suppose that the clan Quhele was the clan
Mackintosh. Others that it was the clan Cameron, whilst the clan Yha
was the Clan-na-Chait or clan Chattan.

“From the fact that, after the clan Battle on the Inch, the star of
the Mackintoshes was decidedly in the ascendant, there can be little
doubt but that they formed at least a section of the winning side,
whether that side were the clan Yha or the clan Quhele.

“Wyntoun declines to say on which side the victory lay. He writes--

      ‘Wha had the waur fare at the last,
      I will nocht say.’

“It is not very likely that subsequent writers knew more of the
subject than he did, so that after all, we are left very much to the
traditions of the families themselves for information. The Camerons,
Davidsons, Mackintoshes, and Macphersons, all say that they took part
in the fray. The Shaws’ tradition is, that their ancestor, being
a relative of the Mackintoshes, took the place of the aged chief
of that section of the clan, on the day of battle. The chroniclers
_vary_ as to the names of the clans, but they all _agree_ as to the
name of _one_ of the leaders, viz., that it was Shaw. Tradition and
history are agreed on this _one point_.

“One thing emerges clearly from the confusion as to the clans who
fought, and as to which of the modern names of the contending clans
was represented by the clans Yha and Quhele,--_one thing emerges_, a
Shaw leading the victorious party, and a race of Shaws springing from
him as their great--if not their first--founder, a race, who for ages
afterwards, lived in the district and fought under the banner of the
Laird of Mackintosh.”[188]

As to the Davidsons, the tradition which vouches for the particulars
of the fight at Invernahavon expressly says that the Davidsons were
almost to a man cut off, and it is scarcely likely that they would,
within so short a time, be able to muster sufficient men either
seriously to disturb the peace of the country or to provide thirty
champions. Mr Skene solves the question by making the Mackintoshes
and Macphersons the combatant clans, and the cause of quarrel
the right to the headship of clan Chattan. But the traditions of
both families place them on the winning side, and there is no
trace whatever of any dispute at this time, or previous to the
16th century, as to the chiefship. The most probable solution
of this difficulty is, that the clans who fought at Perth were
the clan Chattan (_i.e._, Mackintoshes, Macphersons, and others)
and the Camerons. Mr Skene, indeed, says that the only clans who
have a tradition of their ancestors having been engaged are the
Mackintoshes, Macphersons, and _Camerons_, though he endeavours to
account for the presence of the last named clan by making them assist
the Macphersons against the Mackintoshes.[189] The editor of the
_Memoirs of Lochiel_, mentioning this tradition of the Camerons, as
well as the opinion of Skene, says,--“It may be observed, that the
side allotted to the Camerons (viz. the _unsuccessful_ side) affords
the strongest internal evidence of its correctness. Had the Camerons
been described as victors it would have been very different.”

The author of the recently discovered MS. account of the clan Chattan
already referred to, says that by this conflict Cluny’s right to lead
the van was established; and in the meetings of clan Chattan he sat
on Mackintosh’s right hand, and when absent that seat was kept empty
for him. Henry Wynde likewise associated with the clan Chattan, and
his descendants assumed the name of Smith, and were commonly called
Sliochd a Gow Chroim.


_Arranged for the Bagpipes by_ PIPE-MAJOR A. M’LENNAN, _Highland
Light Infantry Militia, Inverness_.]



Lauchlan, chief of Mackintosh, in whose time these events happened,
died in 1407, at a good old age. In consequence of his age and
infirmity, his kinsman, Shaw Mackintosh, had headed the thirty clan
Chattan champions at Perth, and for his success was rewarded with
the possession of the lands of Rothiemurchus in Badenoch. The next
chief, Ferquhard, was compelled by his clansmen to resign his post in
consequence of his mild, inactive disposition, and his uncle Malcolm
(son of William Mac-Angus by a second marriage) succeeded as 10th
chief of Mackintosh, and 5th captain of clan Chattan. Malcolm was one
of the most warlike and successful of the Mackintosh chiefs. During
his long chiefship of nearly fifty years, he made frequent incursions
into the Cameron territories, and waged a sanguinary war with the
Comyns, in which he recovered the lands taken from his ancestor. In
1411 he was one of the principal commanders in the army of Donald,
Lord of the Isles, in the battle of Harlaw, where he is by some
stated incorrectly to have been killed. In 1429, when Alexander, Lord
of the Isles and Earl of Ross; broke out into rebellion at the head
of 10,000 men, on the advance of the king into Lochaber, the clan
Chattan and the clan Cameron deserted the earl’s banners, went over
to the royal army, and fought on the royal side, the rebels being
defeated. In 1431, Malcolm Mackintosh, captain of the clan Chattan,
received a grant of the lands of Alexander of Lochaber, uncle of the
Earl of Ross, that chieftain having been forfeited for engaging in
the rebellion of Donald Balloch. Having afterwards contrived to make
his peace with the Lord of the Isles, he received from him, between
1443 and 1447, a confirmation of his lands in Lochaber, with a grant
of the office of bailiary of that district. His son, Duncan, styled
captain of the clan Chattan in 1467, was in great favour with John,
Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross, whose sister, Flora, he married,
and who bestowed on him the office of steward of Lochaber, which had
been held by his father. He also received the lands of Keppoch and
others included in that lordship.

On the forfeiture of his brother-in-law in 1475, James III. granted
to the same Duncan Mackintosh a charter, of date July 4th, 1476, of
the lands of Moymore, and various others, in Lochaber. When the king
in 1493 proceeded in person to the West Highlands, Duncan Mackintosh,
captain of the clan Chattan, was one of the chiefs, formerly among
the vassals of the Lord of the Isles, who went to meet him and make
their submission to him. These chiefs received in return royal
charters of the lands they had previously held under the Lord of the
Isles, and Mackintosh obtained a charter of the lands of Keppoch,
Innerorgan, and others, with the office of bailiary of the same. In
1495, Farquhar Mackintosh, his son, and Kenneth Oig Mackenzie of
Kintail, were imprisoned by the king in Edinburgh castle. Two years
thereafter, Farquhar, who seems about this time to have succeeded
his father as captain of the clan Chattan, and Mackenzie, made their
escape from Edinburgh castle, but, on their way to the Highlands,
they were seized at Torwood by the laird of Buchanan. Mackenzie,
having offered resistance, was slain, but Mackintosh was taken alive,
and confined at Dunbar, where he remained till after the battle of

Farquhar was succeeded by his cousin, William Mackintosh, who
had married Isabel M’Niven, heiress of Dunnachtan: but John Roy
Mackintosh, the head of another branch of the family, attempted by
force to get himself recognised as captain of the clan Chattan, and
failing in his design, he assassinated his rival at Inverness in
1515. Being closely pursued, however, he was overtaken and slain at
Glenesk. Lauchlan Mackintosh, the brother of the murdered chief,
was then placed at the head of the clan. He is described by Bishop
Lesley[191] as “a verrie honest and wyse gentleman, an barroun of
gude rent, quha keipit hes hole ken, friendes and tennentis in
honest and guid rewll.” The strictness with which he ruled his clan
raised him up many enemies among them, and, like his brother, he
was cut off by the hand of an assassin. “Some wicked persons,” says
Lesley, “being impatient of virtuous living, stirred up one of his
own principal kinsmen, called James Malcolmson, who cruelly and
treacherously slew his chief.” This was in the year 1526. To avoid
the vengeance of that portion of the clan by whom the chief was
beloved, Malcolmson and his followers took refuge in the island in
the loch of Rothiemurchus, but they were pursued to their hiding
place, and slain there.

Lauchlan had married the sister of the Earl of Moray, and by her
had a son, William, who on his father’s death was but a child. The
clan therefore made choice of Hector Mackintosh, a bastard son of
Farquhar, the chief who had been imprisoned in 1495, to act as
captain till the young chief should come of age. The consequences
of this act have already been narrated in their proper place in
the General History. On attaining the age of manhood William duly
became head of the clan, and having been well brought up by the Earls
of Moray and Cassilis, both his near relatives, was, according to
Lesley, “honoured as a perfect pattern of virtue by all the leading
men of the Highlands.” During the life of his uncle, the Earl of
Moray, his affairs prospered; but shortly after that noble’s death,
he became involved in a feud with the Earl of Huntly. He was charged
with the heinous offence of conspiring against Huntly, the queen’s
lieutenant, and at a court held by Huntly at Aberdeen, on the 2d
August 1550, was tried and convicted by a jury, and sentenced to
lose his life and lands. Being immediately carried to Strathbogie,
he was beheaded soon after by Huntly’s countess, the earl himself
having given a pledge that his life should be spared. The story is
told, though with grave errors, by Sir Walter Scott, in his _Tales
of a Grandfather_.[192] By Act of Parliament of 14th December 1557,
the sentence was reversed as illegal, and the son of Mackintosh was
restored to all his father’s lands, to which Huntly added others
as assythment for the blood. But this act of atonement on Huntly’s
part was not sufficient to efface the deep grudge owed him by the
clan Chattan on account of the execution of their chief, and he was
accordingly thwarted by them in many of his designs.

In the time of this earl’s grandson, the clan Chattan again came into
collision with the powerful Gordons, and for four years a deadly
feud raged between them. In consequence of certain of Huntly’s
proceedings, especially the murder of the Earl of Moray, a strong
faction was formed against him, Lauchlan, 16th chief of Mackintosh,
taking a prominent part. A full account of these disturbances in 1624
has already been given in its place in the General History.

In this feud Huntly succeeded in detaching the Macphersons belonging
to the Cluny branch from the rest of clan Chattan, but the majority
of that sept, according to the MS. history of the Mackintoshes,
remained true to the chief of Mackintosh. These allies, however, were
deserted by Huntly when he became reconciled to Mackintosh, and in
1609 Andrew Macpherson of Cluny, with all the other principal men of
clan Chattan, signed a bond of union, in which they all acknowledged
the chief of Mackintosh as _captain and chief_ of clan Chattan. The
clan Chattan were in Argyll’s army at the battle of Glenlivat in
1595, and with the Macleans formed the right wing, which made the
best resistance to the Catholic earls, and was the last to quit the

Cameron of Lochiel had been forfeited in 1598 for not producing
his title deeds, when Mackintosh claimed the lands of Glenluy and
Locharkaig, of which he had kept forcible possession. In 1618 Sir
Lauchlan, 17th chief of Mackintosh, prepared to carry into effect the
acts of outlawry against Lochiel, who, on his part, put himself under
the protection of the Marquis of Huntly, Mackintosh’s mortal foe. In
July of the same year Sir Lauchlan obtained a commission of fire and
sword against the Macdonalds of Keppoch for laying waste his lands
in Lochaber. As he conceived that he had a right to the services of
all his clan, some of whom were tenants and dependents of the Marquis
of Huntly, he ordered the latter to follow him, and compelled such
of them as were refractory to accompany him into Lochaber. This
proceeding gave great offence to Lord Gordon, Earl of Enzie, the
marquis’s son, who summoned Mackintosh before the Privy Council, for
having, as he asserted, exceeded his commission. He was successful in
obtaining the recall of Sir Lauchlan’s commission, and obtaining a
new one in his own favour. The consequences of this are told in vol.
i. ch. x.

During the wars of the Covenant, William, 18th chief, was at the head
of the clan, but owing to feebleness of constitution took no active
part in the troubles of that period. He was, however, a decided
loyalist, and among the Mackintosh papers are several letters, both
from the unhappy Charles I. and his son Charles II., acknowledging
his good affection and service. The Mackintoshes, as well as the
Macphersons and Farquharsons, were with Montrose in considerable
numbers, and, in fact, the great body of clan Chattan took part in
nearly all that noble’s battles and expeditions.

Shortly after the accession of Charles II., Lauchlan Mackintosh, to
enforce his claims to the disputed lands of Glenluy and Locharkaig
against Cameron of Lochiel, raised his clan, and, assisted by the
Macphersons, marched to Lochaber with 1500 men. He was met by Lochiel
with 1200 men, of whom 300 were Macgregors. About 300 were armed with
bows. General Stewart says:--“When preparing to engage, the Earl of
Breadalbane, who was nearly related to both chiefs, came in sight
with 500 men, and sent them notice that if either of them refused
to agree to the terms which he had to propose, he would throw his
interest into the opposite scale. After some hesitation his offer of
mediation was accepted, and the feud amicably and finally settled.”
This was in 1665, when the celebrated Sir Ewen Cameron was chief,
and a satisfactory arrangement having been made, the Camerons were
at length left in undisputed possession of the lands of Glenluy and
Locharkaig, which their various branches still enjoy.

In 1672 Duncan Macpherson of Cluny, having resolved to throw off all
connexion with Mackintosh, made application to the Lyon office to
have his arms matriculated as laird of Cluny Macpherson, and “the
only and true representative of the ancient and honourable family of
the clan Chattan.” This request was granted; and, soon afterwards,
when the Privy Council required the Highland chiefs to give security
for the peaceable behaviour of their respective clans, Macpherson
became bound for his clan under the designation of the lord of
Cluny and chief of the Macphersons; as he could only hold himself
responsible for that portion of the clan Chattan which bore his
own name and were more particularly under his own control. As soon
as Mackintosh was informed of this circumstance, he applied to the
privy council and the Lyon office to have his own title declared, and
that which had been granted to Macpherson recalled and cancelled. An
inquiry was accordingly instituted, and both parties were ordered to
produce evidence of their respective assertions, when the council
ordered Mackintosh to give bond for those of his _clan_, his vassals,
those descended of his family, his men, tenants, and servants, and
all dwelling upon his ground; and enjoined Cluny to give bond for
those of his name of Macpherson, descended of his family, and his
men, tenants, and servants, “without prejudice always to the laird of
Mackintosh.” In consequence of this decision, the armorial bearings
granted to Macpherson were recalled, and they were again matriculated
as those of Macpherson of Cluny.

Between the Mackintoshes and the Macdonalds of Keppoch, a feud had
long existed, originating in the claim of the former to the lands
occupied by the latter, on the Braes of Lochaber. The Macdonalds had
no other right to their lands than what was founded on prescriptive
possession, whilst the Mackintoshes had a feudal title to the
property, originally granted by the lords of the Isles, and, on
their forfeiture, confirmed by the crown. After various acts of
hostility on both sides, the feud was at length terminated by “the
last considerable clan battle which was fought in the Highlands.”
To dispossess the Macdonalds by force, Mackintosh raised his clan,
and, assisted by an independent company of soldiers, furnished by
the government, marched towards Keppoch, but, on his arrival there,
he found the place deserted. He was engaged in constructing a fort
in Glenroy, to protect his rear, when he received intelligence that
the Macdonalds, reinforced by their kinsmen of Glengarry and Glencoe,
were posted in great force at Mulroy. He immediately marched against
them, but was defeated and taken prisoner. At that critical moment,
a large body of Macphersons appeared on the ground, hastening to the
relief of the Mackintoshes, and Keppoch, to avoid another battle,
was obliged to release his prisoner. It is highly to the honour of
the Macphersons, that they came forward on the occasion so readily,
to the assistance of the rival branch of the clan Chattan, and
that so far from taking advantage of Mackintosh’s misfortune, they
escorted him safely to his own territories, and left him without
exacting any conditions, or making any stipulations whatever as to
the chiefship.[193] From this time forth, the Mackintoshes and the
Macphersons continued separate and independent clans, although both
were included under the general denomination of the clan Chattan.

At the Revolution, the Mackintoshes adhered to the new government,
and as the chief refused to attend the Viscount Dundee, on that
nobleman soliciting a friendly interview with him, the latter
employed his old opponent, Macdonald of Keppoch, to carry off his
cattle. In the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, the Mackintoshes took
a prominent part. Lauchlan, 20th chief, was actively engaged in
the ’15, and was at Preston on the Jacobite side. The exploits of
Mackintosh of Borlum, in 1715, have been fully narrated in our
account of the rebellion of that year.

Lauchlan died in 1731, without issue, when the male line of William,
the 18th chief, became extinct. Lauchlan’s successor, William
Mackintosh, died in 1741. Angus, the brother of the latter, the next
chief, married Anne, daughter of Farquharson of Invercauld, a lady
who distinguished herself greatly in the rebellion of 1745. When
her husband was appointed to one of the three new companies in Lord
London’s Highlanders, raised in the beginning of that year, Lady
Mackintosh traversed the country, and, in a very short time, enlisted
97 of the 100 men required for a captaincy. On the breaking out of
the rebellion, she was equally energetic in favour of the Pretender,
and, in the absence of Mackintosh, she raised two battalions of the
clan for the prince, and placed them under the command of Colonel
Macgillivray of Dunmaglass. In 1715 the Mackintoshes mustered 1,500
men under Old Borlum, but in 1745 scarcely one half of that number
joined the forces of the Pretender. She conducted her followers in
person to the rebel army at Inverness, and soon after her husband was
taken prisoner by the insurgents, when the prince delivered him over
to his lady, saying that “he could not be in better security, or more
honourably treated.”

[Illustration: Dalcross Castle. From a photograph in the possession
of The Mackintosh.]

At the battle of Culloden, the Mackintoshes were on the right of
the Highland army, and in their eagerness to engage, they were the
first to attack the enemy’s lines, losing their brave colonel and
other officers in the impetuous charge. On the passing of the act for
the abolition of the heritable jurisdictions in 1747, the laird of
Mackintosh claimed £5,000 as compensation for his hereditary office
of steward of the lordship of Lochaber.

In 1812, Æneas Mackintosh, the 23d laird of Mackintosh, was created
a baronet of the United Kingdom. He died 21st January 1820, without
heirs male of his body. On his death, the baronetcy expired, and he
was succeeded in the estate by Angus Mackintosh, whose immediate
sires had settled in Canada. Alexander, his son, became Mackintosh
of Mackintosh, and died in 1861, his son, Alexander Æneas, now of
Mackintosh, succeeding him as 27th chief of Mackintosh, and 22d
captain of clan Chattan.

The funerals of the chiefs of Mackintosh were always conducted with
great ceremony and solemnity. When Lauchlan Mackintosh, the 19th
chief, died, in the end of 1703, his body lay in state from 9th
December that year, till 18th January 1704, in Dalcross Castle (which
was built in 1620, and is a good specimen of an old baronial Scotch
mansion, and has been the residence of several chiefs), and 2000 of
the clan Chattan attended his remains to the family vault at Petty.
Keppoch was present with 220 of the Macdonalds. Across the coffins of
the deceased chiefs are laid the sword of William, twenty-first of
Mackintosh, and a highly finished claymore, presented by Charles I.,
before he came to the throne, to Sir Lauchlan Mackintosh, gentleman
of the bedchamber.

The principal seat of The Mackintosh is Moy Hall, near Inverness. The
original castle, now in ruins, stood on an island in Loch Moy.

The eldest branch of the clan Mackintosh was the family of Kellachy,
a small estate in Inverness-shire, acquired by them in the 17th
century. Of this branch was the celebrated Sir James Mackintosh.
His father, Captain John Mackintosh, was the tenth in descent from
Allan, third son of Malcolm, tenth chief of the clan. Mackintosh of
Kellachy, as the eldest cadet of the family, invariably held the
appointment of captain of the watch to the chief of the clan in all
his wars.


[Illustration: BADGE.--Boxwood.]

The Macphersons, the other principal branch of the clan Chattan, are
in Gaelic called the clan Vuirich or Muirich, from an ancestor of
that name, who, in the Gaelic MS. of 1450, is said to have been the
“son of Swen, son of Heth, son of Nachtan, son of Gillichattan, from
whom came the clan Chattan.” The word Gillichattan is supposed by
some to mean a votary or servant of St Kattan, a Scottish saint, as
Gillichrist (Gilchrist) means a servant of Christ.

The Macphersons claim unbroken descent from the ancient chiefs of the
clan Chattan, and tradition is in favour of their being the lineal
representatives of the chiefs of the clan. However, this point has
been sufficiently discussed in the history of the Mackintoshes, where
we have given much of the history of the Macphersons.

It was from Muirich, who is said to have been chief in 1153, that
the Macphersons derive the name of the clan Muirich or Vuirich. This
Muirich was parson of Kingussie, in the lower part of Badenoch, and
the surname was given to his descendants from his office. He was the
great-grandson of Gillichattan Mor, the founder of the clan, who
lived in the reign of Malcolm Canmore, and having married a daughter
of the thane of Calder, had five sons. The eldest, Gillichattan, the
third of the name, and chief of the clan in the reign of Alexander
II., was father of Dougal Dall, the chief whose daughter Eva married
Angus Mackintosh of Mackintosh. On Dougal Dall’s death, as he had no
sons, the representation of the family devolved on his cousin and
heir-male, Kenneth, eldest son of Eoghen or Ewen Baan, second son
of Muirich. Neill _Chrom_, so called from his stooping shoulders,
Muirich’s third son, was a great artificer in iron, and took the
name of Smith from his trade. Farquhar Gilliriach, or the Swift, the
fourth son, is said to have been the progenitor of the MacGillivrays,
who followed the Mackintosh branch of the clan Chattan; and from
David Dubh, or the Swarthy, the youngest of Muirich’s sons, were
descended the clan Dhai, or Davidsons of Invernahavon.[194]

One of the early chiefs is said to have received a commission to
expel the Comyns from Badenoch, and on their forfeiture he obtained,
for his services, a grant of lands. He was also allowed to add a hand
holding a dagger to his armorial bearings. A MS. genealogy of the
Macphersons makes Kenneth chief in 1386, when a battle took place at
Invernahavon between the clan Chattan and the Camerons, details of
which and of the quarrel between the Macphersons and the Davidsons
will be found in the general history, and in the account of the

In 1609 the chief of the Macphersons signed a bond, along with all
the other branches of that extensive tribe, acknowledging Mackintosh
as captain and chief of the clan Chattan; but in all the contentions
and feuds in which the Mackintoshes were subsequently involved with
the Camerons and other Lochaber clans, they were obliged to accept of
the Macphersons’ aid as allies rather than vassals.

Andrew Macpherson of Cluny, who succeeded as chief in 1647, suffered
much on account of his sincere attachment to the cause of Charles I.
His son, Ewen, was also a staunch royalist. In 1665, under Andrew,
the then chief, when Mackintosh went on an expedition against the
Camerons, for the recovery of the lands of Glenluy and Locharkaig,
he solicited the assistance of the Macphersons, when a notarial
deed was executed, wherein Mackintosh declares that it was of their
mere good will and pleasure that they did so; and on his part it
is added, “I bind and oblige myself and friends and followers to
assist and fortify and join, with the said Andrew, Lauchlan, and John
Macpherson, all their lawful and necessary adoes, being thereunto
required.” The same Andrew, Lauchlan, and John, heads of the three
great branches of the Macphersons, had on the 19th of the preceding
November given a bond acknowledging Mackintosh as their chief. In
1672 Duncan Macpherson of Cluny, Andrew’s brother, made application
to the Lyon office to have his arms matriculated as laird of Cluny
Macpherson, and “the only and true representative of the ancient
and honourable family of the clan Chattan.” This application was
successful; but as soon as Mackintosh heard of it, he raised a
process before the privy council to have it determined as to which
of them had the right to the proper armorial bearings. After a
protracted inquiry, the council issued an order for the two chiefs to
give security for the peaceable behaviour of their respective clans,
in the terms given in the account of Mackintosh. The same year Cluny
entered into a contract of friendship with Æneas, Lord Macdonnell,
and Aros, “for himself and takeing burden upon him for the haill name
of Macpherson, and some others, _called Old Clan-chatten_, as cheefe
and principall man thereof.”

It is worthy of note that this same Duncan made an attempt, which was
happily frustrated by his clansmen, to have his son-in-law, a son of
Campbell of Cawdor, declared his successor.

On the death, without male issue, of Duncan Macpherson, in 1721 or
1722, the chiefship devolved on Lauchlan Macpherson of Nuid, the next
male heir, being lineally descended from John, youngest brother of
Andrew, the above-named chief. One of the descendants of this John of
Nuid was James Macpherson, the resuscitator of the Ossianic poetry.
Lauchlan married Jean, daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel. His
eldest son, Ewen, was the chief at the time of the rebellion of 1745.

[Illustration: James Macpherson, Editor, &c. of the Ossianic Poetry.]

In the previous rebellion of 1715, the Macphersons, under their
then chief Duncan, had taken a very active part on the side of the
Pretender. On the arrival of Prince Charles in 1745, Ewen Macpherson
of Cluny, who the same year had been appointed to a company in Lord
Loudon’s Highlanders, and had taken the oaths to government, threw
up his commission, and, with 600 Macphersons, joined the rebel army
after their victory at Prestonpans. The Macphersons were led to take
an active part in the rebellion chiefly from a desire to revenge
the fate of two of their clansmen, who were shot on account of the
extraordinary mutiny of the Black Watch (now the 42d regiment) two
years before, an account of which is given in the history of that

Ewen Macpherson, the chief, at first hesitated to join the prince;
and his wife, a daughter of Lord Lovat, although a staunch Jacobite,
earnestly dissuaded him from breaking his oath to government,
assuring him that nothing could end well that began with perjury.
Her friends reproached her for interfering--and his clan urging him,
Cluny unfortunately yielded.

At the battle of Falkirk, the Macphersons formed a portion of the
first line. They were too late for the battle of Culloden, where
their assistance might have turned the fortune of the day; they did
not come up till after the retreat of Charles from that decisive
field. In the subsequent devastations committed by the English army,
Cluny’s house was plundered and burnt to the ground. Every exertion
was made by the government troops for his apprehension, but they
never could lay their hands upon him. He escaped to France in 1755,
and died at Dunkirk the following year.

Ewen’s son, Duncan, was born in 1750, in a kiln for drying corn, in
which his mother had taken refuge after the destruction of their
house. During his minority, his uncle, Major John Macpherson of the
78th foot, acted as his guardian. He received back the estate which
had been forfeited, and, entering the army, became lieutenant-colonel
of the 3d foot guards. He married, 12th June 1798, Catherine,
youngest daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of Fassifern, baronet; and on
his death, 1st August 1817, was succeeded by his eldest son, Ewen
Macpherson of Cluny, the present chief.

In Cluny castle are preserved various relics of the rebellion of
1745; among the rest, the Prince’s target and lace wrist ruffles, and
an autograph letter from Charles, promising an ample reward to his
devoted friend Cluny. There is also the black pipe chanter on which
the prosperity of the house of Cluny is said to be dependent, and
which all true members of the clan Vuirich firmly believe fell from
heaven, in place of the one lost at the conflict on the North Inch of

The war-cry of the Macphersons was “Cragi Dhu,” the name of a rock
in the neighbourhood of Cluny Castle. The chief is called in the
Highlands “Mac Mhurich Chlanaidh,” but everywhere else is better
known as Cluny Macpherson.

Among the principal cadets of the Macpherson family were the
Macphersons of Pitmean, Invereshie, Strathmassie, Breachachie,
Essie, &c. The Invereshie branch were chiefs of a large tribe called
the _Siol Gillies_, the founder of which was Gillies or Elias
Macpherson, the first of Invereshie, a younger son of Ewen Baan or
Bane (so called from his fair complexion) above mentioned. Sir Eneas
Macpherson, tutor of Invereshie, advocate, who lived in the reigns of
Charles II. and James VII., collected the materials for the history
of the clan Macpherson, the MS. of which is still preserved in the
family. He was appointed sheriff of Aberdeen in 1684.

George Macpherson of Invereshie married Grace, daughter of Colonel
William Grant of Ballindalloch, and his elder son, William, dying,
unmarried, in 1812, was succeeded by his nephew George, who, on
the death of his maternal grand-uncle, General James Grant of
Ballindalloch, 13th April 1806, inherited that estate, and in
consequence assumed the name of Grant in addition to his own. He was
MP. for the county of Sutherland for seventeen years, and was created
a baronet 25th July 1838. He thus became Sir George Macpherson-Grant
of Invereshie, Inverness-shire, and Ballindalloch, Elginshire. On
his death in November 1846, his son, Sir John, sometime secretary
of legation at Lisbon, succeeded as second baronet. Sir John died
Dec. 2, 1850. His eldest son, Sir George Macpherson-Grant of
Invereshie and Ballindalloch, born Aug. 12, 1839, became the third
baronet of this family, He married, July 3, 1861, Frances Elizabeth,
younger daughter of the Rev. Roger Pocklington, Vicar of Walesby,

We can refer only with the greatest brevity to some of the minor
clans which were included under the great confederacy of the clan


The Macgillivrays were one of the oldest and most important of the
septs of clan Chattan, and from 1626, when their head, Ferquhard
MacAllister, acquired a right to the lands of Dunmaglass, frequent
mention of them is found in extant documents, registers, etc. Their
ancestor placed himself and his posterity under the protection of the
Mackintoshes in the time of Ferquhard, fifth chief of Mackintosh,
and the clan have ever distinguished themselves by their prowess
and bravery. One of them is mentioned as having been killed in a
battle with the Camerons about the year 1330, but perhaps the best
known of the heads of this clan was Alexander, fourth in descent
from the Ferquhard who acquired Dunmaglass. This gentleman was
selected by Lady Mackintosh to head her husband’s clan on the side
of Prince Charlie in the ’45. He acquitted himself with the greatest
credit, but lost his life, as did all his officers except three, in
the battle of Culloden. In the brave but rash charge made by his
battalion against the English line, he fell, shot through the heart,
in the centre of Barrel’s regiment. His body, after lying for some
weeks in a pit where it had been thrown with others by the English
soldiers, was taken up by his friends and buried across the threshold
of the kirk of Petty. His brother William was also a warrior, and
gained the rank of captain in the old 89th regiment, raised about
1758. One of the three officers of the Mackintosh battalion who
escaped from Culloden was a kinsman of these two brothers,--Farquhar
of Dalcrombie, whose grandson, Niel John M’Gillivray of Dunmaglass,
is the present head of the clan.

The M’Gillivrays possessed at various times, besides Dunmaglass, the
lands of Aberchallader, Letterchallen, Largs, Faillie, Dalcrombie,
and Daviot. It was in connection with the succession to Faillie that
Lord Ardmillan’s well-known decision was given in 1860 respecting the
legal _status_ of a clan.

In a Gaelic lament for the slain at Culloden the MacGillivrays are
spoken of as

                          “The warlike race,
      The gentle, vigorous, flourishing,
      Active, of great fame, beloved,
      The race that will not wither, and has descended
      Long from every side,
      Excellent MacGillivrays of the Doune.”


The origin of the Shaws, at one time a most important clan of the
Chattan confederation, has been already referred to in connection
with the Mackintoshes. The tradition of the Mackintoshes and Shaws
is “unvaried,” says the Rev. W. G. Shaw of Forfar, that at least
from and after 1396, a race of Shaws existed in Rothiemurchus, whose
great progenitor was the Shaw Mor who commanded the section of the
clan represented by the Mackintoshes on the Inch. The tradition
of the Shaws is, that he was Shaw, the son of James, the son or
descendant of Farquhar; the tradition of the Macintoshes--that he was
being the ancestor according to _both_ traditions, from whom he took
the name (according to Wyntoun) of Sha Farquharis Son.[196] The
tradition of a James Shaw who ‘had bloody contests with the Comyns,’
which tradition is fortified by that of the Comyns, may very likely
refer to the James, who, according to the genealogies both of the
Shaws and Mackintoshes, was the son of Shaw Mor.

Mr Shaw of Forfar, who is well entitled to speak with authority on
the subject, maintains “that prior to 1396, the clan now represented
by the Mackintoshes, had been (as was common amongst the clans)
sometimes designated as the clan Shaw, after the successive chiefs
of that name, especially the first, and sometimes as the clan of the
Mac-an-Toisheach, _i.e._, of the Thane’s son. Thus, from its first
founder, the great clan of the Isles was originally called the clan
Cuin, or race of Constantine. Afterwards, it was called the clan
Colla, from his son Coll, and latterly the clan Donald, after one of
his descendants of that name. So the Macleans are often called clan
Gilleon after their founder and first chief; and the Macphersons, the
clan Muirich, after one of the most distinguished in their line of
chiefs. The Farquharsons are called clan Fhiunla, after their great
ancestor, Finlay Mor. There is nothing more probable, therefore--I
should say more certain--than that the race in after times known as
Mackintoshes, should at first have been as frequently designated
as Na Si’aich, ‘The Shaws,’ after the Christian _name_ of their
first chief, as Mackintoshes after his _appellative description_ or
designation. It is worthy of remark, that the race of Shaws is never
spoken of in Gaelic as the ‘clan Shaw,’ but as ‘Na Si’aich’--The
Shaws, or as we would say Shawites. We never hear of Mac-Shaws--sons
of Shaw, but of ‘Na Si’aich--The Shaws.’ Hence prior to 1396, when a
Shaw so distinguished himself as to found a family, under the wing of
his chief, the undivided race, so to speak, would sometimes be called
‘Mackintoshes,’ or followers of the Thane’s sons, sometimes the clan
Chattan, the generic name of the race, sometimes ‘clan Dhugaill,’
(Quehele) after Dougall-Dall, and sometimes ‘Na Si’aich,’ the Shaws
or Shawites, after the numerous chiefs who bore the name of Shaw in
the line of descent. Hence the claim of both Shaws and Mackintoshes
to the occupancy of Rothiemurchus. After 1396, the term Na Si’aich
was restricted, as all are agreed, to the clan developed out of the
other, through the prowess of Shaw Mór.”

Shaw “Mor” Mackintosh, who fought at Perth in 1396, was succeeded by
his son James, who fell at Harlaw in 1411. Both Shaw and James had
held Rothiemurchus only as tenants of the chief of Mackintosh, but
James’s son and successor, Alister “Ciar” (_i.e._, brown), obtained
from Duncan, 11th of Mackintosh, in 1463-4, his right of possession
and tack. In the deed by which David Stuart, Bishop of Moray,
superior of the lands, confirms this disposition of Duncan, and gives
Alister the feu, Alister is called “Allister Kier _Mackintosh_.” This
deed is dated 24th September 1464. All the deeds in which Alister is
mentioned call him Mackintosh, not Shaw, thus showing the descent of
the Shaws from the Mackintoshes, and that they did not acquire their
name of Shaw until after Alister’s time.

Alister’s grandson, Alan, in 1539, disponed his right to
Rothiemurchus to Edom Gordon, reserving only his son’s liferent.
Alan’s grandson, of the same name was outlawed for the murder of
his stepfather, some fifty years later, and compelled to leave the
country. Numerous Shaws are, however, still to be found in the
neighbourhood of Rothiemurchus, or who can trace their descent from
Alister Kier.

Besides the Shaws of Rothiemurchus, the Shaws of TORDARROCH in
Strathnairn, descended from Adam, younger brother of Alister Kier,
were a considerable family; but, like their cousins, they no longer
occupy their original patrimony. Tordarroch was held in wadset of the
chiefs of Mackintosh, and was given up to Sir Æneas Mackintosh in
the end of last century by its holder at the time, Colonel Alexander
Shaw, seventh in descent from Adam.

Angus MacBean vic Robert of Tordarroch signed the Bond of 1609
already mentioned. His great-grandsons, Robert and Æneas, took part
during their father’s life in the rebellion of 1715; both were
taken prisoners at Preston, and were confined in Newgate, the elder
brother dying during his imprisonment. The younger, Æneas, succeeded
his father, and in consideration of his taking no part in the ’45,
was made a magistrate, and received commissions for his three sons,
the second of whom, Æneas, rose to the rank of major-general in
the army. Margaret, daughter of Æneas of Tordarroch, was wife of
Farquhar Macgillivray of Dalcrombie, one of the three officers of the
Mackintosh regiment who escaped from Culloden.

Æneas was succeeded by his eldest son, Colonel Alexander Shaw,
lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Man under the crown. He gave up
the wadset of Tordarroch to Sir Æneas Mackintosh, and died in 1811.

From the four younger sons of Alister Kier descended respectively
the Shaws of DELL (the family of the historian of Moray, the Rev.
Lachlan Shaw); of DALNIVERT, the representation of it devolved in the
last century on a female, who married ---- Clark; the FARQUHARSONS,
who in time acquired more importance than the Shaws; and the SHAWS
of HARRIS, who still retain a tradition of their ancestor, Iver
MacAlister Ciar.


[Illustration: BADGE--Red Whortleberry.]

The immediate ancestor of the Farquharsons of Invercauld, the main
branch, was Farquhar or Fearchard, a son of Alister “Keir” Mackintosh
or Shaw of Rothiemurchus, grandson of Shaw Mor. Farquhar, who lived
in the reign of James III., settled in the Braes of Mar, and was
appointed baillie or hereditary chamberlain thereof. His sons were
called Farquharson, the first of the name in Scotland. His eldest
son, Donald, married a daughter of Duncan Stewart, commonly called
Duncan Downa Dona, of the family of Mar, and obtained a considerable
addition to his paternal inheritance, for faithful services rendered
to the crown.

Donald’s son and successor, Findla or Findlay, commonly called from
his great size and strength, Findla Mhor, or great Findla, lived in
the beginning of the sixteenth century. His descendants were called
MacIanla or Mackinlay. Before his time the Farquharsons were called
in the Gaelic, clan Erachar or Earachar, the Gaelic for Farquhar, and
most of the branches of the family, especially those who settled in
Athole, were called MacEarachar. Those of the descendants of Findla
Mhor who settled in the Lowlands had their name of Mackinlay changed
into Finlayson.[197]

Findla Mhor, by his first wife, a daughter of the Baron Reid of
Kincardine Stewart, had four sons, the descendants of whom settled on
the borders of the counties of Perth and Angus, south of Braemar, and
some of them in the district of Athole.

[Illustration: FARQUHARSON. (Tartan)]

His eldest son, William, who died in the reign of James VI., had four
sons. The eldest, John, had an only son, Robert, who succeeded him.
He died in the reign of Charles II.

Robert’s son, Alexander Farquharson of Invercauld, married Isabella,
daughter of William Mackintosh of that ilk, captain of the clan
Chattan, and had three sons.

William, the eldest son, dying unmarried, was succeeded by the second
son, John, who carried on the line of the family. Alexander, the
third son, got the lands of Monaltrie, and married Anne, daughter of
Francis Farquharson, Esq. of Finzean.

The above-mentioned John Farquharson of Invercauld, the ninth from
Farquhar the founder of the family, was four times married. His
children by his first two wives died young. By his third wife,
Margaret, daughter of Lord James Murray, son of the first Marquis of
Athole, he had two sons and two daughters. His elder daughter, Anne,
married Eneas Mackintosh of that ilk, and was the celebrated Lady
Mackintosh, who, in 1745, defeated the design of the Earl of Loudon
to make prisoner Prince Charles at Moy castle. By his fourth wife, a
daughter of Forbes of Waterton, he had a son and two daughters, and
died in 1750.

His eldest son, James Farquharson of Invercauld, greatly improved
his estates, both in appearance and product. He married Amelia, the
widow of the eighth Lord Sinclair, and daughter of Lord George
Murray, lieutenant-general of Prince Charles’s army, and had a large
family, who all died except the youngest, a daughter, Catherine. On
his death, in 1806, this lady succeeded to the estates. She married,
16th June 1798, Captain James Ross, R.N. (who took the name of
Farquharson, and died in 1810), second son of Sir John Lockhart Ross
of Balnagowan, Baronet, and by him had a son, James Farquharson, a
magistrate and deputy-lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, representative of
the family.

There are several branches of this clan, of which we shall mention
the Farquharsons of WHITEHOUSE, who are descended from Donald
Farquharson of Castleton of Braemar and Monaltrie, living in 1580,
eldest son, by his second wife, of Findla Mhor, above mentioned.

Farquharson of FINZEAN is the heir male of the clan, and claims the
chieftainship, the heir of line being Farquharson of Invercauld. His
estate forms nearly the half of the parish of Birse, Aberdeenshire.
The family, of which he is representative, came originally from
Braemar, but they have held property in the parish for many
generations. On the death of Archibald Farquharson, Esq. of Finzean,
in 1841, that estate came into the possession of his uncle, John
Farquharson, Esq., residing in London, who died in 1849, and
was succeeded by his third cousin, Dr Francis Farquharson. This
gentleman, before succeeding to Finzean, represented the family of
Farquharson of Balfour, a small property in the same parish and
county, sold by his grandfather.

The Farquharsons, according to Duncan Forbes “the only clan family
in Aberdeenshire,” and the estimated strength of which was 500 men,
were among the most faithful adherents of the house of Stuart, and
throughout all the struggles in its behalf constantly acted up to
their motto, “_Fide et Fortitudine_.” The old motto of the clan was,
“We force nae friend, we fear nae foe.” They fought under Montrose,
and formed part of the Scottish army under Charles II. at Worcester
in 1651. They also joined the forces under the Viscount of Dundee
in 1689, and at the outbreak of the rebellion of 1715 they were the
first to muster at the summons of the Earl of Mar.

In 1745, the Farquharsons joined Prince Charles, and formed two
battalions, the one under the command of Farquharson of Monaltrie,
and the other of Farquharson of Balmoral; but they did not accompany
the Prince in his expedition into England. Farquharson of Invercauld
was treated by government with considerable leniency for his share
in the rebellion, but his kinsman, Farquharson of Balmoral, was
specially excepted from mercy in the act of indemnity passed in June

The MACBEANS, Macbanes, or Macbains, derive their name from the
fair complexion of their progenitor, or, according to some, from
their living in a high country, _beann_ being the Gaelic name for a
mountain, hence Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond, &c. The distinctive badge of
the Macbeans, like that of the Macleods, was the red whortleberry. Of
the Mackintosh clan they are considered an offshoot, although some of
themselves believe that they are Camerons. It is true that a division
of the MacBeans fought under Lochiel in 1745, but a number of them
fought under Golice or Gillies MacBane, of the house of Kinchoil, in
the Mackintosh battalion. This gigantic Highlander, who was six feet
four and a-half inches in height, displayed remarkable prowess at the
battle of Culloden.[198]

“In the time of William, first of the name, and sixth of Mackintosh,
William Mhor, son to Bean-Mac Domhnuill-Mhor and his four sons,
Paul, Gillies, William-Mhor, and Farquhar, after they had slain the
Red Comyn’s steward at Innerlochie, came, according to the history,
to William Mackintosh, to Connage, where he then resided, and for
themselves and their posterity, took protection of him and his. No
tribe of Clan Chattan, the history relates, suffered so severely at
Harlaw as Clan Vean.”[199]

The MACPHAILS are descended from one “Paul Macphail, goodsir to that
Sir Andrew Macphail, parson of Croy, who wrote the history of the
Mackintoshes. Paul lived in the time of Duncan, first of the name,
and eleventh of Mackintosh, who died in 1496. The head of the tribe
had his residence at Inverarnie, on the water of Nairn.”[200]

According to Mr Fraser-Mackintosh, there is a tradition that the
Gows are descended from Henry, the smith who fought at the North
Inch battle, he having accompanied the remnant of the Mackintoshes,
and settled in Strathnairn. Being bandy-legged, he was called “Gow
Chrom.” At any rate, this branch of clan Chattan has long been known
as “Sliochd an Gow Chrom”. _Gow_ is a “smith,” and thus a section of
the multitudinous tribe of Smiths may claim connection with the great
clan Chattan.

The head of the MACQUEENS was Macqueen of Corrybrough,
Inverness-shire.[201] The founder of this tribe is said to have been
Roderick Dhu Revan MacSweyn or Macqueen, who, about the beginning
of the 15th century, received a grant of territory in the county of
Inverness. He belonged to the family of the Lord of the Isles, and
his descendants from him were called the clan Revan.

The Macqueens fought, under the standard of Mackintosh, captain of
the clan Chattan, at the battle of Harlaw in 1411. On 4th April 1609,
Donald Macqueen of Corrybrough signed the bond of manrent, with
the chiefs of the other tribes composing the clan Chattan, whereby
they bound themselves to support Angus Mackintosh of that ilk as
their captain and leader. At this period, we are told, the tribe of
Macqueen comprehended twelve distinct families, all landowners in the
counties of Inverness and Nairn.

In 1778, Lord Macdonald of Sleat, who had been created an Irish peer
by that title two years before, having raised a Highland regiment,
conferred a lieutenancy in it on a son of Donald Macqueen, then of
Corrybrough, and in the letter, dated 26th January of that year, in
which he intimated the appointment, he says, “It does me great honour
to have the sons of chieftains in the regiment, and as the Macqueens
have been invariably attached to our family, to whom we believe we
owe our existence, I am proud of the nomination.” Thus were the
Macqueens acknowledged to have been of Macdonald origin, although
they ranged themselves among the tribes of the clan Chattan. The
present head of the Macqueens is John Fraser Macqueen, Q.C.

The CATTANACHS, for a long period few in number, are, according to Mr
Fraser-Mackintosh, perhaps better entitled to be held descendants of
Gillichattan Mor than most of the clan.

The force of the clan Chattan was, in 1704, estimated at 1400; in
1715, 1020; and in 1745, 1700.


[183] For much of this account of the clan Chattan we are indebted to
the kindness of A. Mackintosh Shaw, Esq. of London, who has revised
the whole. His forthcoming history of the clan, we have reason to
believe, will be the most valuable clan history yet published.

[184] Mr Mackintosh Shaw says that, in 1591, Huntly obtained a
bond of manrent from Andrew Macpherson and his immediate family,
the majority of the Macphersons remaining faithful to Mackintosh.
Statements II. and III. are founded _only_ on the Macpherson MS.

[185] _Antiquarian Notes_, p. 358.

[186] For details as to this celebrated combat, see vol. i. ch. v.
The present remarks are supplementary to the former, and will serve
to correct several inaccuracies.

[187] Every one acquainted with the subject, knows what havoc Lowland
scribes have all along made of Gaelic names in legal and public

[188] The Mackintosh MS. of 1500 states that Lauchlan, the Mackintosh
chief, gave Shaw a grant of Rothiemurchus “for his valour on the Inch
that day.”

[189] Vol. ii. pp. 175-178.

[190] THE MACKINTOSH’S LAMENT.--For the copy of the Mackintosh’s
Lament here given, the editor and publishers are indebted to the
kindness of The Mackintosh. In a note which accompanied it that
gentleman gives the following interesting particulars:--

“The tune is as old as 1550 or thereabouts. Angus Mackay in his _Pipe
Music_ book gives it 1526, and says it was composed on the death of
Lauchlan, the 14th Laird; but we believe that it was composed by
the famous family bard Macintyre, upon the death of William, who
was murdered by the Countess of Huntly, in 1550. This bard had seen
within the space of 40 years, four captains of the Clan Chattan meet
with violent deaths, and his deep feelings found vent in the refrain,

      ‘Mackintosh, the excellent
      They have lifted;
      They have laid thee
      Low, they have laid thee.’

“These are the only words in existence which I can hear of.”

[191] _History of Scotland_, p. 137.

[192] Vol. ii. p. 7.

[193] Skene’s _Highlanders_, ii. 198-9.

[194] This is the genealogy given by Sir Æneas Macpherson. From
another MS. genealogy of the Macphersons, and from the Mackintosh MS.
history, we find that the son of Kenneth, the alleged _grandson_ of
Muirich, married a daughter of Ferquhard, ninth of Mackintosh, _cir._
1410, so that it is probable Sir Æneas has placed Muirich and his
family more than a century too early.

[195] The Shaw arms are the same as those of the Farquharsons
following, except that the former have not the banner of Scotland in
bend displayed in the second and third quarters.

[196] The date of part of the Mackintosh MS. is 1490. It states
that Lauchlan the chief gave Shaw a grant of Rothiemurchus “for his
valour on the Inch that day.” It also states that the “Farquhar”
above-mentioned was a man of great parts and remarkable fortitude,
and that he fought with his clan at the battle of Largs in 1263. More
than this, it states that Duncan, his uncle, was his TUTOR during
his minority, and that Duncan and his posterity held Rothiemurchus
till 1396, when Malcolm, the last of his race, fell at the fight at
Perth--after which the lands (as above stated) were given to Shaw Mor.

[197] _Family MS._ quoted by Douglas in his _Baronage_.

[198] _See_ vol. i. p. 666.

[199] Fraser-Mackintosh’s _Antiquarian Notes_, p. 360.

[200] _Ibid._

[201] The present head does not now hold the property.


  Camerons--Macleans of Dowart, Lochbuy, Coll, Ardgour, Torloisk,
  Kinlochaline, Ardtornish, Drimnin, Tapul, Scallasdale, Muck,
  Borrera, Treshinish, Pennycross--Macnaughton--Mackenricks
  --Macknights--Macnayers--Macbraynes--Maceols--Siol O’Cain


[Illustration: BADGE--Oak (or, according to others, Crowberry).]

Another clan belonging to the district comprehended under the old
Maormordom of Moray, is that of the Camerons or clan Chameron.
According to John Major,[202] the clan Cameron and the clan Chattan
had a common origin, and for a certain time followed one chief; but
for this statement there appears to be no foundation. Allan, surnamed
MacOchtry, or the son of Uchtred, is mentioned by tradition as the
chief of the Camerons in the reign of Robert II.; and, according to
the same authority, the clan Cameron and the clan Chattan were the
two hostile tribes between whose champions, thirty against thirty,
was fought the celebrated combat at Perth, in the year 1396,
before King Robert III. with his nobility and court. The Camerons,
says a manuscript history of the clan, have an old tradition amongst
them that they were originally descended from a younger son of the
royal family of Denmark, who assisted at the restoration of Fergus
II. in 404; and that their progenitor was called Cameron from his
crooked nose, a name which was afterwards adopted by his descendants.
“But it is more probable,” adds the chronicler, “that they are the
aborigines of the ancient Scots or Caledonians that first planted the
country;” a statement which proves that the writer of the history
understood neither the meaning of the language he employed, nor the
subject in regard to which he pronounced an opinion.

As far back as can distinctly be traced, this tribe had its seat in
Lochaber, and appears to have been first connected with the house of
Isla in the reign of Robert Bruce, from whom, as formerly stated,
Angus Og received a grant of Lochaber. Their more modern possessions
of Lochiel and Locharkaig,[203] situated upon the western side of
the Lochy, were originally granted by the Lord of the Isles to the
founder of the clan Ranald, from whose descendants they passed to
the Camerons. This clan originally consisted of three septs,--the
Camerons or MacMartins of Letterfinlay, the Camerons or MacGillonies
of Strone, and the Camerons or MacSorlies of Glennevis; and from
the genealogy of one of these septs, which is to be found in the
manuscript of 1450, it has been inferred that the Lochiel family
belonged to the second, or Camerons of Strone, and that being thus
the oldest cadets, they assumed the title of Captain of the clan
Cameron.[204] Mr Skene conjectures that, after the victory at Perth,
the MacMartins, or oldest branch, adhered to the successful party,
whilst the great body of the clan, headed by the Lochiel family,
declared themselves independent; and that in this way the latter
were placed in that position which they have ever since retained.
But however this may be, Donald Dhu, who was probably the grandson
of Allan MacOchtry, headed the clan at the battle of Harlaw, in
1411, and afterwards united with the captain of the clan Chattan
in supporting James I. when that king was employed in reducing to
obedience Alexander, Lord of the Isles. Yet these rival clans, though
agreed in this matter, continued to pursue their private quarrels
without intermission; and the same year in which they deserted
the Lord of the Isles, and joined the royal banner, viz. 1429, a
desperate encounter took place, in which both suffered severely, more
especially the Camerons. Donald Dhu, however, was present with the
royal forces at the battle of Inverlochy, in the year 1431, where
victory declared in favour of the Islanders, under Donald Balloch;
and immediately afterwards his lands were ravaged by the victorious
chief, in revenge for his desertion of the Lord of the Isles, and
he was himself obliged to retire to Ireland, whilst the rest of the
clan were glad to take refuge in the inaccessible fastnesses of the
mountains. It is probably from this Donald Dhu that the Camerons
derived their patronymic appellation of MacDhonuill Duibh, otherwise
MacConnel Duy, “son of Black Donald.”

But their misfortunes did not terminate here. The Lord of the Isles,
on his return from captivity, resolved to humble a clan which he
conceived had so basely deserted him; and with this view, he bestowed
the lands of the Camerons on John Garbh Maclean of Coll, who had
remained faithful to him in every vicissitude of fortune. This grant,
however, did not prove effectual. The clan Cameron, being the actual
occupants of the soil, offered a sturdy resistance to the intruder;
John Maclean, the second laird of Coll, who had held the estate
for some time by force, was at length slain by them in Lochaber;
and Allan, the son of Donald Dhu, having acknowledged himself a
vassal of the Lord of Lochalsh, received in return a promise of
support against all who pretended to dispute his right, and was
thus enabled to acquire the estates of Locharkaig and Lochiel, from
the latter of which his descendants have taken their territorial
denomination. By a lady of the family of Keppoch, this Allan, who
was surnamed MacCoilduy, had a son, named Ewen, who was captain of
the clan Cameron in 1493, and afterwards became a chief of mark and
distinction. Allan, however, was the most renowned of all the chiefs
of the Camerons, excepting, perhaps, his descendant Sir Ewen. He had
the character of being one of the bravest leaders of his time, and he
is stated to have made no less than thirty-five expeditions into the
territories of his enemies. But his life was too adventurous to last
long. In the thirty-second year of his age he was slain in one of the
numerous conflicts with the Mackintoshes, and was succeeded by his
son Ewen, who acquired almost the whole estates which had belonged to
the chief of clan Ranald; and to the lands of Lochiel, Glenluy, and
Locharkaig, added those of Glennevis, Mamore, and others in Lochaber.
After the forfeiture of the last Lord of the Isles, he also obtained
a feudal title to all his possessions, as well those which he had
inherited from his father, as those which he had wrested from the
neighbouring clans; and from this period the Camerons were enabled to
assume that station among the Highland tribes which they have ever
since maintained.

The Camerons having, as already stated, acquired nearly all the
lands of the clan Ranald, Ewen Allanson, who was then at their head,
supported John Moydertach, in his usurpation of the chiefship, and
thus brought upon himself the resentment of the Earl of Huntly, who
was at that time all-powerful in the north. Huntly, assisted by
Fraser of Lovat, marched to dispossess the usurper by force, and
when their object was effected they retired, each taking a different
route. Profiting by this imprudence, the Camerons and Macdonalds
pursued Lovat, against whom their vengeance was chiefly directed, and
having overtaken him near Kinloch-lochy, they attacked and slew him,
together with his son and about three hundred of his clan. Huntly,
on learning the defeat and death of his ally, immediately returned
to Lochaber, and with the assistance of William Mackintosh, captain
of the clan Chattan, seized Ewen Allanson of Lochiel, captain of the
clan Cameron, and Ranald Macdonald Glas of Keppoch, whom he carried
to the castle of Ruthven in Badenoch. Here they were detained for
some time in prison; but being soon afterwards removed to Elgin,
they were there tried for high treason, and being found guilty by
a jury of landed gentlemen, were beheaded, whilst several of their
followers, who had been apprehended along with them, were hanged.
This event, which took place in the year 1546, appears to have had a
salutary effect in disposing the turbulent Highlanders to submission