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Troubles in the Western Highlands.—Feud between Ranald
Gallda and John of Moidart.—The Lairds of Grant and
Glenmoriston assist Ranald.—Battle of Blar-nan-Leine.—
Glengarry and Lochiel invade Glenmoriston and Urquhart.—
The Great Raid.—The Spoil and the Despoiled.—Urquhart
Burnt.—Incidents of the Raid.—The Strong Woman of
Richraggan.—The Big Smith of Polmaily.—His Adventures
with the Fairies.—A Wonderful Filly.—The Smith’s Sons
Slain.—Legal Proceedings against Glengarry and Lochiel.—
Their Lands Apprised to the Lairds of Grant and Glenmoris-
ton.—Glenmoriston’s Death.—His Character and Influence.
—Dispute regarding his Succession.—The Ballindalloch Fend.
—Death of the Laird of Grant.—Sad State of the Country.—
The Justiciar of Urquhart and Glenmoriston.—A Ghastly
Gift to the Queen Regent.—The Reformation.—The Church’s
Patrimony Alienated.—John Mackay acquires Achmonie.—
The other Church Lands fall to the Grants.

In the summer of 1544 Hugh, Lord Lovat, and a
body of Frasers from the neighbouring district of
the Aird, passed through our Parish on their way
to join the Earl of Huntly in an attempt to
suppress certain disturbances in the Western
Highlands, and, especially, to assist Ranald Gallda
in his struggle with John of Moidart—Iain
Muideartach—for the chiefship of Clan Ranald,
Ranald, who accompanied the Frasers, was a
nephew of their chief, and was related by marriage

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                     95

to the Lairds of Grant1 and Glenmoriston, by
whom his cause was also supported. The Laird
of Grant joined Huntly with a following from Glen-
Urquhart and Strathspey ; and in the ranks of the
Frasers were to be found men from Glenmoriston,
led probably by one of Iain Mor’s natural sons.2
The Macdonalds of Glengarry and Keppoch and the
Camerons supported John of Moidart ; but, although
Huntly penetrated into their country as far as
Inverlochy, they refrained from giving battle, and
he had to return homeward without striking a
blow. At the Water of Gloy the forces sepa­
rated, Huntly and the Laird of Grant proceeding
with the bulk of the army by Brae-Lochaber
and Badenoch to Strathspey, while Lord Lovat
and Ranald Gallda, with the Frasers and the
men of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, took the
direct route to their own countries, along the
Great Glen. John of Moidart now saw his oppor-

1  It is difficult to say at what precise period Grant of Freuchie began
to be styled Tighearna Ghrannd, or Laird of Grant. Sir William Fraser
(Chiefs of Grant, I., 322), speaking of the erection of the Regality of
Grant, in 1694, states :—“ From this date the Laird of Freuchie changed his
formal designation, and became the Laird of Grant.” But the title “Laird of
Grant “ appears at least as early as 1569, and in 1592 James the Sixth so
addresses the Chief (Chiefs, II. 4, 11). Donald Donn of Bohuntin, who
flourished in the time of the Commonwealth, repeatedly refers to Tighearna
Ghrannd in his songs. The probability is that the Chiefs were popularly
called Lairds of Grant long before they were so styled in formal writings.

2 Iain Mor’s lawful son Patrick, who succeeded him in his lands in
Urquhart and Glenmoriston, is said to have taken part in the expedi­
tion. He, however, could not have done so. Iain Mor’s first wife, Elizabeth
Innes, was alive in 154], and Patrick was a son of his second wife, Agnes
Fraser. In 1541, Iain appears to have had no lawful son, as lands acquired by
him in that year were destined to John Grant of Freuchie, failing his three
illegitimate sons and their heirs.

96                   URQUHART AND GLENMORISTON.

tunity. Carefully concealed on the northern banks
of Loch Lochy, he watched with eager eye the
parting of his enemies, and stole along the shore to
meet Lovat at the east end of the loch ; and there
the bloody fight of Blar-nan-Leine—the Field of
the Shirts—took place. The opposing forces first
discharged their arrows, and then, casting aside
their bows, and stripping themselves to their shirts,
rushed to close combat, and, with claymore and
Lochaber axe, fought hand-to-hand for hours under
a broiling July sun. Both sides were literally cut
to pieces. Of the Frasers, according to their own
historians, Fraser of Foyers and other four men
alone escaped ; and they, with their surviving com­
rades from Urquhart and Glenmoriston, returned
home, bearing tidings of the disaster, and carrying
the dead bodies of Lovat and his son and Ranald
Gallda, for interment within the sacred precincts of
Beauly Priory.1

For the part taken by the men of Urquhart and
Glenmoriston in the ill-fated expedition, John of
Moidart and his allies determined on revenge. A
great invasion of the Parish was planned ; and
Alasdair Mac Iain ’Ic Alasdair of Glengarry, his son
Angus, and Ewen Cameron, the young heir of
Lochiel, were appointed to carry it into effect.
Ewen’s mother was a sister of the Laird of Grant,
and a half-sister of Iain Mor, and, as we saw in our
last chapter, the great object of the marriage of

1 Gregory’s Western Highlands and Islands ; Anderson’s Family of
Fraser ; Chisholm Batten’s Priory of Beauly.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   97

which he was the issue was to secure peace and
goodwill between the clans. But it is not always
true that “ blood is thicker than water ;” and the
solemn treaty of 1520 was to him as waste paper.
Into the project against his uncles he entered with
alacrity, and along with the old and young Lairds
of Glengarry gave the Parish a foretaste of what
was in store for it by appearing on the banks of the
Moriston in October, 1544, and taking a booty of
twenty “great” or full-grown cattle, eight calves, five
young cattle, four horses, one mare, twenty ewes, ten
wethers, twenty lambs, thirty goats, eighteen kids,
eighty-eight bolls of oats, twenty-nine bolls of barley,
and household goods to the value of £12 6s 8d, from
the lands of Invermoriston.1 The uplands of Glen-
moriston, which were possessed by the perhaps not
unfriendly Macdonalds, were not molested ; and the
inhabitants of Glen-Urquhart were allowed the
privilege of feeding their flocks through the winter’s
snows. But as soon as the winter was past—in
April, 1545—the joint leaders suddenly swooped
down on the devoted Glen with a great host from
Glengarry, Lochaber, Glencoe, Ardnamurchan, and
the wilds of Clan Ranald, seized the Castle, and
swept the land of every hoof and article of food or
furniture which they could find—sparing only the
Barony of Corrimony, whose owner had taken no
part in the affair of Blar-nan-Leine. Never before
and never after was Highland raid so thorough.
For a month or more the work of violence and

1 Charter of Apprising to John Grant of Glenmoriston, Reg. Mag. Sig
Lib. XXX., No. 263. See Appendix B for details.

98                   URQUHART AND GLENMORISTON.

devastation went on ; and when it was finished the
invaders were the triumphant possessors of a mag­
nificent booty, consisting of 1188 great cattle,
392 young cattle, 525 calves, 2 plough oxen, 383
horses and mares, 1978 sheep, 1099 lambs, 1410
goats, 794 kids, 122 swine, 64 geese, 3006 bolls of
oats, 1277 bolls of bear and barley, a miscellaneous
assortment of furniture and other household goods
of the value of £533 2s, £312 in money, twenty
pieces of artillery, ten stands of harness, three great
boats, and a quantity of linen, and woollen cloth,1

That the spoil was taken “with stronghand”
we know from the legal writs by which the
Lairds of Grant and Glenmoriston sought to obtain
satisfaction from Lochiel and his companions ; and
we learn from another document of the period that
in the process the houses of the people were given
to the flames.2 But the formal records make no

1  Charter of Apprising to James Grant, Reg. Mag. Sig. XXX., No. 314.
See Appendix B for the details of the spoil and the names of the despoiled.

2  Discharge by James, Earl of Arran, Governor or Regent of Scotland, to
the Laird of Grant, which is in the following terms :—

Gubernator,—Auditouris of our Chakker and Comptroller, we grete you
hartly weyll : Forsamekle as it is humly menyt and notourly knawyne how the
landis of Wrquhart and Glenmoristowne has beyne hereyt and brynt be the
Clan Cammeron, Clanrannald, and Clanayane, quharthrow that our lowit James
Grant of Fruquhie, fewar of the saiddis landis, has gottyn na proffit thairof
sen the birnyng of the sammyne, quhilk was in the monetht of Maii was ane
yere ; quhare upoune the said James hes menyt him to ws : Our will is, and
we charge you, the said James makand guid payment of all thingis bygane
that he aw the Queynis Graice and ws in this present Chakkere, that ye
allow and discharge the said James the Graunt and his partinarris, fewarris of
Wrquhard and Glenmoristoune, of thre termys maylis bygane afoyr the dayt
heyrof, of the sammyne landis, quhilk we be the tenour heyrof dischargis and
exonerys ; kepand this precepe for your warrand : Subscrivit wytht our
hand, the xx. day of Julii, the yere off God jm. vc. xlvj yeris [1546].

James G.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   99

mention of how the Castle was taken, despite its
“ twenty pece of artailzery ;” or of all the desperate
fights and struggles and loss of life that there must
have been, ere the men and the women of Urquhart
yielded their flocks and their possessions, to face
famine and perish by hunger. What the records
omit, tradition to some extent supplies. One legend
tells how a woman of Richraggan, seeing her only
cow being driven away by the Lochaber men, seized
the animal by one of its hind legs and held it
fast ; and how Lochiel, amazed at the woman’s
strength, ordered the men to leave the cow with

But the great legendary hero of the period was
An Gobha Mor1—the Big Smith, or Armourer, of
Polmaily. The Smith and his seven sons were noted
for their enormous strength. They were also as
skilful in the armourer’s art as any who ever struck
anvil with hammer ; and no weapons were to be
found in Scotland to equal their cold-iron swords
(claidheamhan fuar-iarunn)—much prized weapons
in the making of which the iron was heated and
shaped by heavy and rapid hammer-blows, without
the agency of fire.

If the Smith excelled as an armourer, he also
excelled as an husbandman ; and his herd of
cattle at Polmaily were noted for their beauty.
But suddenly and in a single night they lost their

1 See the Author’s Legends of Glen-Urquhart in Trans. of Inverness
Gaelic Society, Vol. II. (1873), for the Gaelic version of the Tale of the Big


good condition, and became lean and famished ; and,
feed them as he might, the Smith found it impos
sible to improve their appearance. At that time
the fairies of Urquhart had their favourite retreat
at Tor-na-sidhe (Tornashee), near Polmaily. The
Smith had one of them for his leannan-sidhe, or
fairy-love, and as he rambled with her one day in
the woods, she informed him that her fellow-fairies
had stolen his beautiful cows, and that the lean kine
which gave him so much concern were croth-sidhe,
or fairy-cattle. Furious with rage, he hastened
home, and, armed with an axe, rushed into the
byre, determined to slay the unearthly herd. But
before he could strike a blow the cattle drew their
heads out of their halters and escaped into the open.
Seizing the hindmost by the tail, the Smith sped
with them till they came to Carn-an-Rath, in
Ben-a-Gharbhlaich, near Achnababan. As they
approached the cairn, its side opened, and the cattle
rushed in, with the Smith at their heels. On
coming to a spacious chamber, which glittered with
precious stones, and was filled with articles of rarest
value, the animals were in the twinkling of an eye
changed into ordinary fairies, who desired the
astonished Smith to choose what he pleased for
his own. In a remote corner of the chamber stood
a little shaggy filly (loth pheallagach), of which
he had heard his fairy-love speak as one of extra­
ordinary power ; and he replied that he would take
the filly. “ A tooth out of your informant’s mouth,”
said the fairies ; but they kept their word and gave

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   101

him the loth pheallagach, and strictly enjoined him
to use her only in the plough. The Smith promised
obedience, and went away with the shaggy filly.
For many years she was a marvel in the Glen, and
a blessing to the inhabitants—

Threabhadh i Achadh-nam-bo,
’S an Lurga-mhor bho cheann gu ceann ;
Mar sin ’s an Gortan-Ceapagach,
Mu’n leagadh i as an crann ! 1

But one day the Smith put the filly in a cart, for
the purpose of removing manure. He had broken
his promise to the fairies, and her wonderful power
left her for ever.

In the days of the Smith, a dispute as to their
marches arose between the Glen-Urquhart people
and the Frasers of the Aird. The Frasers pushed
their boundary line forward in the direction of
Urquhart, to a point immediately behind the
township of Achintemarag, and sent a strong force
of young men to maintain it in spite of their
opponents. The Smith and four of his sons quietly
approached the young men, and requested them to
return to their own country. On their refusal a
fight began, in which several of the Frasers were
killed, and the rest driven across the march claimed
by the Urquhart people. That march has ever since
been acknowledged by the Lovat tenantry, and the

1 Old lines which may be rendered

Achnababan she could plough
And Lurgamore from east to west ;
Likewise Gorstan-keppagach,
And still plough on without a rest


affair is commemorated by Clach-a’-Ghobhainn
Mhoir—the Big Smith’s Stone—to this day.

It happened about this time that one of Lochiel’s
followers slew a man in Lochaber, and fled to
Urquhart, where he found shelter and employment
with the Smith at Polmaily. Lochiel heard that
the fugitive was in the Glen, and sent men to bring
him back. But he cut his hair short, and shaved
his face clean ; and, although the Lochaber men
saw him as he worked at the anvil, they failed to
recognise him, and returned home without him. But
it soon reached the ear of Lochiel that the Gille
Maol—the Bald Young Man1—whom they had seen
in the smithy, was the object of their search ; and
he was very wroth at the Smith and the people of
Urquhart, and resolved to make a raid upon them.
Accordingly, he and a great many of the Clan
Cameron came and seized the Castle. But not
daring to meet the Big Smith and his sons in fair
fight, he sent for Gille Phadruig Gobha, the
Smith’s son-in-law, and promised to give him the
lands of Polmaily as his own, if he brought him the
Smith and his sons, dead or alive. “ Choose out
for me two score of your bravest and boldest men,”
replied Gille Phadruig Gobha, yielding to the
temptation, “ and I shall be their guide to-night.”
The Smith’s sons slept in a barn which stood on the
hillock at Polmaily which is still known as Torran
nan Gillean—the Young Men’s Knoll—and at

] According to tradition, the Macmillans of Urquhart—Clann ’Ic 'Ille
Mhaoil—are descended from this worthy.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 103

midnight the traitor and a party of Camerons
quietly left the Castle, and proceeded to Polmaily,
with the intention of killing the sons, and then
overcoming the father. Some of the Camerons
remained at the door of the barn, while the rest
entered and attacked the sleepers, who, being with­
out their swords, were all slain, except the youngest,
whose back was broken, and who afterwards bore
the name of An Gobha Crom, or the Hump-Backed

While the work of treachery and blood was going
on at Torran nan Gillean, the Smith’s wife dreamt
that a big black sow, with a litter of young ones,
was undermining the foundations of the barn. She
dreamt the dream three times, and then roused her
husband, and implored him to go and see whether
all was well with their sons. Sword in hand, he
proceeded to the barn, and rushed on the Lochaber
men. They fled for the Castle, and he followed,
cutting them down at every blow. Observing his
son-in-law in their midst, he made efforts to reach
him, whereupon the traitor cried, “ ’S mi fhein a
th’ann! ’S mi fhein a th'ann!”
—“ It is I ! It is I !
“ I know it is you,” replied the Smith, at the same
time striking off the dastard’s right ear, and placing
it in his trembling hand as he crossed the stream
ever since called Allt Gille Phadruig Gobha ; “ I
know it is you ; deliver that letter to Mac Dhomh-
nuill Duibh,1 and tell him I shall breakfast with him
at break of day.” But before daybreak Mac

1 The patronymic of Lochiel.


Dhomhnuill Duibh had left the Castle, and was far
on his way to Lochaber.

Returning to the barn, the Smith found all his
sons dead, except the Gobha Crom. His heart
broke with sorrow, and before long the Glen of
Urquhart knew him no more.

Such is the story of the Big Smith of Polmaily
as it has come down to us through the mists of the
past. We do not find the hero’s name in the legal
proceedings which, as we shall see, followed the
Great Raid ; but nevertheless they furnish a certain
corroboration of the tale, in so far as they show that
among the sufferers in Polmaily were—William, son
of the Smith ; Fair John, son of Donald, son of the
Smith; and Baak (Beathag), daughter of Gowroy,
or the Red Smith. It is thus beyond doubt
that a race of armourers flourished at Polmaily in
the olden time ; and the Gobha Mor of tradition is
more than the mere creation of Celtic imagination.1

So heinous an outrage as the Great Raid would
in stronger times have been avenged with fire and
sword ; but the Kingdom was still suffering from the
disasters that closed the reign and the life of James
the Fifth ; and the Regent Arran, who governed in
name of the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, was of an
easy temperament, and much disposed to let trouble­
some matters take their course. A royal invasion
of Lochaber and the country of Clan Ranald was

1 A sept of Macdonalds, in Urquhart, are still known as Sliochd a’ Ghobh-
ainn Mhoir, the Race of the Big Smith. A spot near Tornashee is known
as Ceardaich a’ Ghobhainn Mhoir, the Big Smith’s Smithy.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 105

not to be looked for, and the proprietors of
Urquhart and Glenmoriston had to content them­
selves with an appeal to the feeble arm of the law
for what redress was possible.

To avoid the multiplication of lawsuits, the
tenants made over their claims against the spoilers
to their respective lairds — the occupiers of the
Church lands of Achmonie assigning their rights
to Seumas nan Creach. That Chief and Iain Mor
of Glenmoriston, thus armed with a “ title to sue,”
raised actions against Glengarry and his son and
young Lochiel, having first obtained from the
Regent a discharge of three half years’ feu-duties
due by them to the Crown, in respect that they had
received no rents from their lands “since the
burning of the same.”1

The original summonses, issued under the royal
signet on 3rd August, 1546, are still preserved at
Castle Grant. The warrants to cite the defenders
are peculiar—a citation by open proclamation at the
cross of Inverness is to be held as effectual as per­
sonal citation, “ becaus it is understand to the
Lordis of our Counsale that thair is na sure passage
to the dwelling-places nor personall presens of the
saidis personis.” This singular provision, considering
the difficulty of making the Queen’s writ run to the
gates of the Black Castle of Invergarry and the
shores of Loch Arkaig, was one of no small impor­
tance to William Bayne, the sheriff-officer who was
entrusted with the service of the summonses.

1 See Discharge on p. 98, supra—footnote.


Bayne did his duty at the cross, and the causes were
called before Alexander Baillie of Dunain, Constable
of Inverness, and John Cuthbert of Auldcastle,
Sheriffs-Depute of Inverness-shire, within the tol-
booth of the Highland Capital, on 22nd October,
1546. The defenders did not appear. The pursuers
attended personally, and so, doubtless, did their
plundered tenants. The Sheriffs took evidence of
the spoil and loss, and the defenders were ordained
to restore the cattle and effects, or to pay their value
and their “ profits” for sixteen months, amounting,
in the case of the Laird of Grant, to £10,770 13s
4d Scots, and in the case of Glenmoriston, to £718
11s 1d Scots.1

The defenders, who had thus become the legal
debtors of the Grants, were charged on the decrees.
They made no effort to restore the spoil or to pay
its value ; and Bayne, the sheriff-officer, having

1 The following prices are mentioned in the proceedings, viz. :—Great
cattle, £2 per head ; young cattle, from £1 6s 8d to £2 13s 4d ; calves, 6s 8d ;
horses and mares, £2 to £4 ; ewes, 4s ; lambs, 1s 6d ; goats, 3s ; kids, 1s 4d ;
oats, 10s per boll ; barley, 20s per boll. The profits are calculated on the
following bases :—“ The profits of each great cow above written by the space
of the year aforesaid, extending in milk, stirk, butter, and cheese to 13s 4d ;
the profits of each of the cows for the space of four months beyond the said
year, extending to 4s 5d ; of each young cow for the year, in milk, butter, and
cheese, 10s, and for the four months, 3s 4d each ; of each horse for the year, in
labour, riding, and wages of leadings (conductionum), 30s, and for the four
months, 10s each ; of each mare for the year, in foal and labour, 30s, and for
the four months, 10s ; of each ewe for the year, in wool, butter, cheese, and
lamb, 6s 8d, and for the four months, 2s 2d ; of each wether for the year and
four months, in wool, extending to l6 pence ; of each goat for the year, in
kids and milk, 6s 8d, and for the four months, 2s 2d ; of each goose for the
year, 5s, and for the four months, 20 pence ; of each pig for the year, 20s, and
for the four months 6s 8d.” The money is Scots.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 107

failed, or never seriously tried, to find any per­
sonal property belonging to them which he could
poind or distrain, went to certain of their lands on
21st and 22nd April, 1547, and “ denounced ” the
same to be “ apprised ” to the Lairds of Grant and
Glenmoriston in satisfaction of the amounts due to
them.1 Bayne doubtless got through this dangerous
formality in the enemy’s country with all the secrecy
and despatch in his power. The next step in the
process was more to his liking. On the Clach-na-
cudain of his own burgh he could crow loudly, with
less risk to his throat ; and on the 26th of the same
month he publicly proclaimed the apprising at the
market cross of Inverness, and called upon the distant
debtors to appear before the Sheriffs on the 20th of
May, to witness the formal transfer of their
estates to the Lairds of Grant and Glenmoriston.
To this summons they naturally made no response ;
and, in their absence, the lands were apprised by an
assize of twenty-one men of probity and position,2
who were solemnly “ sworn on the holy evangels of
God ” to do justice between man and man without

1  The Charters of Apprising, recorded in the Register of the Great Seal
(see pp. 97, 98, supra, foot notes), afford excellent examples of the ancient
process of “ apprising,” by which heritable or real property was attached for

2 They were—David Falconar of Halkertown, John Hay of Park, Robert
Munro of Foulis, Thomas Brodie of that Ilk, Thomas Dingwall of Kildun
John Chisholm of Comar, Thomas Macculloch of Plaids, George Strachan of
Culloden, Alexander Mackenzie of Fairburn, John Symson (Fraser) of Erchit,
Duncan Bayne of Tulloch, William Denoon of Petmely, Alexander Dallas of
Can tray, Alexander Ross of Little Elian, Hugh Ross of Auchnacloich, John
McEane McComas in Auchnashellach, Robert McCallane in Inverlael, Murdoch
Dow McCoule, Murdoch Glas, Walter Innes, and Robert Falconer.


fear or favour. To Seumas nan Creach were assigned
extensive tracts of country in Lochalsh, Lochcarron,
Lochbroom, Glengarry, and Morar, the property of
Alasdair Mac Ian ’Ic Alasdair and his son, and lands
in Lochalsh and Kishorn, and the castle of Strome,
and the office of Constable thereof, belonging to
Ewen Cameron ; while Iain Mor received certain
subjects in Lochalsh belonging to Lochiel, and lands
in Lochcarron belonging to Glengarry and his son.1
Charters from the young Queen were granted to the
Lairds, subject to the debtors’ right to redeem the
properties by paying the amounts due within seven
years. Of this privilege they did not choose to take
advantage, and, on the expiry of the period of
redemption, the charters became absolute.

The two lairds of Urquhart and Glenmoriston
were never able to take actual possession of the
territories to which they had thus acquired what the
old Highlanders contemptuously called a sheepskin
right ; and, with the exception of Lochbroom,
which was made over to Mackenzie of Kintail

1 The lands apprised were—To the Laird of Grant, the twelve merk lands
of old extent of Lochalsh, the four merk lands of Lochcarron, the twenty merk
lands of Lochbroom, the third part of lands of Glengarry, Drynach, and isle
and house of Sleismenane of Glengarry, and the twelve merk lands of Morar,
all belonging to old Glengarry, in frank tenement and liferent, and to his son
Angus in fee and heritage ; the thirteen merk lands of Kishorn, with the castle
and fortalice thereof, commonly called the Strome, and the nine merk lands
of Lochalsh, all belonging to Lochiel : and to Iain Mor, the five merk lands of
Lochalsh, belonging to Lochiel, and comprehending the half davach lands of
Auchindarroch and Lundy, the half davach lands of Fernaig-mor, half of the
half davach lands of Fernaig-beg, Fynnman, and Auchecroy ; and two and
one-half merk lands of Lochcarron, pertaining to the Glengarries, and consist­
ing of the half of the half davach lands of Achnashellach, the half of the
davach half of the lands of Dalmartyne, and the half of the davach lands of

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 109

in 1570, these were in the end all surrendered
to their de facto owners. But the royal grants
had the effect of bringing Lochiel to a more
reasonable frame of mind, and of somewhat lower­
ing that high disdain with which he had hitherto
regarded the majesty of the law. On the 10th
of October, 1548, he met his uncles, Seumas
nan Creach and Iain Mor, at Convinth, in presence
of John Mackenzie of Kintail, Kenneth Mackenzie
of Brahan, Alexander Mackenzie of Fairburn, and
others, and gave friendly assurances which resulted
in a new treaty. Lochiel undertook to keep “ truely
his kindness and fidelity ” to his uncle and his heirs,
especially in connection with the lands of Urquhart
and Glenmoriston, and to aid him in all manner of
actions against all mortals, except the Queen and
the Earl of Huntly, and the Laird of Mackintosh,
to whom he had recently given his bond of manrent ;
and the Laird of Grant agreed that, during his
nephew’s good behaviour, the latter should uplift
and enjoy the rents and profits of the lands apprised
from him, and that they should not be alienated
from him, except under the advice of Mackenzie of
Kintail and his son Kenneth, the Laird’s son—John
Grant of Mulben—Iain Mor, and others, the Laird’s
“well-advised friends.” Grant wrote his name like
a scholar, but the penman’s art was incompatible
with the wild dignity of Lochiel, and his hand was
“ led at the pen ” by Mr James Farquharson, that
priest of Urquhart whom he had helped to spuilzie
in the raid of 1545.1

1 See the contract, in Chiefs of Grant, III., 102.


Two considerations weighed with Seumas nan
Creach in entering into this treaty—solicitude for
the peace of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, and a
painful conviction of his inability to uplift the rents
of the Western territories. As a matter of fact,
notwithstanding some efforts to make his nominal
right to the apprised lands a reality, he never
derived any benefit from them. In 1549 he made
formal complaint that his tenants in Morar, Glen­
garry, Lochbroom, Lochcarron, and Lochalsh, paid
him no rent, and that without his consent they
“ daylie fischis in his watteris and fischingis therof
. . . and distroyis his growand treis of his
woddis . . . sua that the samyn woddis are all
utterlie failzeit ;” and, in consequence, letters under
the Queen’s signet were issued on 27th November
of that year, ordering the Crown officers to assist
him in dealing with the tenants.1 But no improve­
ment followed. The castle of Strome—the grey
ruins of which still form a picturesque feature in
the landscape of Lochcarron—was still held by his
opponents, who were resolved to raze it to the
ground rather than let it fall into his hands. On
24th June, 1553, royal letters were issued com­
manding them to deliver it up to its lawful owner.2
But the command was not obeyed ; and on 26th
August the troubled career of Seumas nan Creach
came to an end.

His son and heir, John Grant, lost no time in
obtaining a precept for infefting himself in the

1 Chiefs of Grant, I., 114.              2 Ibid, I., 115.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH                    111

Western territories.1 His object seems to have
been to put himself in the position of being able to
dispose of them for a consideration. In 1570, he
made over the Lochbroom portion to Mackenzie of
Kintail, who married his daughter Barbara ; and a
year later he agreed to transfer to Angus of Glen­
garry his interest in that glen, and in Morar,
Lochalsh, and Lochcarron.2 The formal conveyance
to Angus was never executed—probably he did not
press for a sheepskin title—and Grant’s son and
successor, John, undertook on 14th June, 1586, to
infeft the Laird of Mackintosh in the same lands in
consideration of an obligation by that Chief “to keep,
preserve, and defend the lands of Urquhart, Glen-
moriston, and all other lands and roums pertaining
to the said John Grant of Freuchie, and his fore-
saids, from all herschips [incursions], damage, and
inconveniences [that] may be committed or done
thereto in time coming by the Clan-Chameron, Clan-
Ranald, or any others, as he does his own lands and
bounds.”3 No infeftment, however, took place, and
four years later Mackintosh voluntarily renounced
his right to the undesirable possessions.4 In 1597
they were claimed by Angus’ son, Donald of Glen­
garry, and the matter was referred to arbitration,
with the result that in 1600 the Laird of Grant
conveyed them to Donald in feu-farm,5 and thus
parted for ever with estates which, since their

1 Chiefs of Grant, I., 127.              2 Ibid, I., 143.

3 See Agreement in Chiefs of Grant, III., 158.

4 Ibid, III., 176—footnote.               5 Ibid, I., 177


acquisition in 1547, had only served to involve
his family in trouble and expense.

Of the connection of the Grants of Glenmoriston
with the lands apprised to them there is not so
much to tell. Iain Mor died a few weeks after he
obtained his charter, and until the year 1611, when
his grandson, Iain Mor a’ Chaisteil, was served
heir therein,1 no attempt appears to have been
made to preserve even the semblance of a right to
them. Iain Mor a’ Chaisteil's title was duly
recorded, but the old possessors continued to hold a
firm grip of the soil ; and in time the Lairds of
Glenmoriston tacitly surrendered a right which they
were utterly unable to enforce.

The death of John Grant, first of Glenmoriston—
or “of Culcabock,” as he was better known in his own
day—occurred in 1548,2 his brother of Corrimony
having predeceased him in 1533.3 A man of great
energy and prudence, whose counsel was much sought
by his neighbours, he attained to a position of great
influence and power, and, in the end, died the proud
proprietor of Glenmoriston, Culcabock, Knockin-
tional (on which the Inverness Barracks now stand),
the Haugh, Carron, Wester Elchies, and Kinchurdie
in Strathspey, and the holder of less substantial
rights in the Western Highlands. His first wife was

1  Origines Parochiales, II., 396.

2 He is said to have died in September, 1548 (Chiefs of Grant, I., 522) ;
but he was alive in October of that year (p. 109, supra). He was dead before
9th December, when the ward of his lands of Culcabock was given to James
Grant of Freuchie (Antiquarian Notes, 354).

3 Chiefs of Grant, I., 515.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 113

Elizabeth, or Isabella, Innes, daughter of Walter
Innes, and grand­daughter of Sir Robert Innes of
that Ilk, by whom he had one daughter, Isabella.
Divorcing her, he entered into a union with Agnes,
daughter of William Fraser, son of Thomas, fourth
Lord Lovat. This lady and himself were within the
forbidden degrees of affinity ; and so, with the object of
removing the impediment and giving their children
the status of legitimacy, he obtained, in 1544, a
papal dispensation absolving her and himself from
the crime of incest, enjoining on them a “ salutary
penance,” granting liberty to solemnise their mar­
riage in face of the Church, and declaring their
children legitimate, whether born or to be born.1
Of the union thus sanctioned by the Pope there was
at least one son, Patrick, who succeeded his father
in his whole possessions, except Carron and Wester
Elchies, which were respectively left to Iain Mor’s
natural sons, John Roy, and James.2

The precautions taken in connection with the
marriage of Iain Mor and Agnes Fraser secured the
succession to Patrick. No sooner was the old laird
laid in his grave than John Grant of Ballindalloch
applied to the Queen for a grant of Glenmoriston,
on the ground that he had died without lawful heirs
male, and that the estate had therefore fallen
to the Crown. The application was granted,
apparently, without enquiry into the allegations
on which it was based, and a royal charter

1 See the dispensation, in Invernessiana, 217.
2 Chiefs, I., 522.



was issued in favour of Ballindalloch and his wife
Barbara Gordon, on 4th March, 1548—or 1549,
according to modern computation.1 Young Patrick’s
half-brothers, however, stoutly resisted this attempt
to rob him of his inheritance, and a feud arose, in
course of which Ballindalloch was slain. His
claims were taken up by his son without success.
In 1556, Patrick was served heir to Iain Mor in
the Barony of Glenmoriston, and three years later
he completed his title to Culcabock and the other
Inverness possessions.2

John Grant, Seumas nan Creach’s son and
successor, was served heir to his father in the
estate of Urquhart in October, 1553.3 Under
the charter of 1509 a double feu-duty was
payable to the Crown on his entry ; but the
Glen still suffered from the effects of the Great
Raid, and on 6th April, 1554, the payment was
remitted.4 John’s estates were, indeed, still a
prey to neighbouring clans. To enable him more
effectually to punish offenders, Mary of Guise, Queen

1 Reg. Mag. Sig.         2 Chiefs of Grant, L, 522.

3 Seumas nan Creach left a will and an inventory of his moveable estate,
both written in Latin by Mr James Farquharson, priest of Urquhart. The
farm of Kil St Ninian, which extended from Abriachan to Drumbuie, was in
his own hands, and the stock, &c., thereon consisted of 80 bolls of oats, valued
at £80 Scots, including fodder ; 81/2 bolls of barley, worth, with fodder, £16 ;
20 plough oxen (boves arabiles), valued at £40 ; 20 great cattle, valued at
£40 ; 8 young cattle, two and three ­year-old, worth £6 8s ; 5 calves, £2 ; 64
“wild,” or unbroken mares, worth £214 6s 8d ; 18 foals, valued at £27 ; and
certain household effects and farm plenishing. It was at Kil St Ninian
(Temple-House), that the Lairds of Grant’s tenauts paid their money rent, and
delivered the rent which they paid in kind. Hence it was called the Grange
of Kil St Ninian as early as 1513.

4 Chiefs of Grant, I., 127.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 115

Regent, appointed him Justiciar of the Crown within
the bounds of Strathspey, Urquhart, Glenmoris-
ton, and Strathdoun—bounds which his commission
describes as filled with “ divers homicides, murders,
thefts, oppressions or sornings, reset of theft, and
open or strong-handed rapine ... to the extreme
depredation and destruction of our poor and faithful
lieges who inhabit the same.”1 The Justiciar entered
on his duties with vigour—in one instance causing
certain evildoers, whom he could not apprehend
“ quick,” to be brought in dead, and presenting their
heads to the Queen Regent, at Inverness.2

It was during these troublous times that the
doctrines of the Reformation began to create a spirit
of unrest among the Scottish people. The work
of the Reformers was greatly facilitated by the
unworthy lives of some of the clergy. Among the
dignitaries who helped to bring disgrace and disaster
on the old establishment was Patrick Hepburn,
Bishop of Moray. On him the vow of celibacy lay
lightly ; and for his numerous illegitimate children
he made ample worldly provision by alienating the
ancient heritage of the Church. Having, as far
back as 1544,3 disposed of Abriachan to Hugh, Lord
Lovat, he resolved to deal in the same manner with
its companion estate of Achmonie. That property
was let to John Mac Gillies, or Mackay, and his wife,
Katherine Ewen Canycht, for nineteen years from

1 Chiefs of Grant, III., 116.
2 Invernessiana, 224.
         3 Reg. Morav., 410.


Whitsunday, 1554.1 But the events that culminated
in the Reformation were moving rapidly, and before
the expiry of the first three years of the lease,
Mackay became owner of the estate. Having
paid “ a certain great sum of money in advance,”
and undertaken to pay annually a feu-duty
exceeding by the sum of £2 4s 6d the rent
previously paid, he got a charter from the Bishop on
6th May, 1557, conveying the old property, “with
the brew-house [brasina] thereof called Kilmichael,”
and including Kilmichael, Garabeg, Wester Balla-
chraggan, Drumcore, and Breakrie-riach, and their
hill grounds to the marches of Kiltarlity, to himself
and his wife and the survivor of them in liferent,
and to their son Duncan and his heirs male in fee.2
The other church lands in Urquhart fell to the Laird
of Grant. In 1556 Mary, Queen of Scots, presented
Sir John Donaldson to the chaplainry of St Ninian,
and the lands of Pitkerrald Chapel, and the crofts of
St Drostan, St Adamnan, and St Ninian ; and gave
him the custody of the sacred relics of St Drostan.3
It was the last exercise of the right of patronage in
our Parish under the ancient rule. In 1560 the old
Church was finally overthrown. For its temporal
possessions there was a great scramble among those

1  See lease—Appendix C. A curious error occurs in the abstract of the
lease printed in the Register of Moray (p. 393), where Katherine Eweu
Canychti.e., Katherine, daughter of Ewen the Merchant—is called Katherine,
Lady (Domina) Carrycht. The error is repeated in the notice of the charter
to the Mackays in 1557 (p. 394). Ewen Canycht’s name appears among the
sufferers in the Great Raid of 1545.

2 See charter—Appendix D.

3 See presentation and relative writs, in Chiefs of Grant, III., 121-4.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 117

who had helped in its destruction, and the
Laird of Grant, who was a member of the Parliament
which passed the Act of Abolition, was not behind
his associates in securing his reward. He quietly
appropriated the patrimony of the priests in
Urquhart ; and the lands which had for ages borne
the holy names of the arch­angel Michael, and St
Cyril, and St Drostan, and St Adamnan, and St
Ninian, were for ever lost to the sacred purposes for
which they were gifted by pious men of old.1

1 There were “Kirk lands” in Glenmoriston as late as 1572 (Register of
Assignations, in Advocates’ Library). These lands were subsequently appro­
priated by the Lairds of Glenmoriston.

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