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OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   59



The Lordship of Urquhart Granted to the Lord of the Isles for
Life.—He and his Highlanders in England.—His Rebellion
and Attainder.—The Earl of Huntly in charge of
the Lordship and Castle.—The Macleans claim Urquhart.
—Their Position and Power.—A Thirty Years’ War.—
The Lordship let to the Baron of Kilravock.—Opposi­
tion to him. — Arbitration. — Bonds of Friendship.—
Strange League against the Baron.—He Throws up his
Lease.—The Parish Waste.—Sir Duncan Grant to the
Rescue.—His connection with the District.—The Conflict of
Foyers.—The Red Bard in Urquhart.—Struggle for the
Lordship.—Lease to the Bard.—The Bard King’s Chamber­
lain.—He Trades with the King.—The Lordship Granted to
Himself and his Sons Absolutely.—The Reasons for the

The object of Parliament in placing on the statute-
book the Act which closes our last chapter was to
annex inalienably to the Crown the Castle and
Lordship of Urquhart, and the other royal properties
with which it dealt. But John, Lord of the Isles and
Earl of Ross, was not the man to relinquish his
possession of Urquhart in obedience to mere parlia­
mentary enactments, and his great power rendered
it inexpedient for the Crown to resort to stronger
measures. It therefore made a virtue of necessity ;
and almost before the ink was dry on the statute-
book the Act was disregarded, and the Castle and

60                   URQUHART AND GLENMORISTON.

Lordship were formally granted to him for his life,
at the old rent of £100 per annum.1 He was
pleased and gratified with this show of royal favour,
and for a time the rent was regularly paid.2 More­
over, his loyalty equalled his gratitude ; and when in
1460 James the Second entered on his war with
England, he joined the royal army at Roxburgh
“with a great company all armed in the Highland
fashion, with habergeons, bows, and axes, and
promised to the King, if he pleased to pass any
further in the bounds of England, that he and his
company should pass a large mile afore the rest of
the host, and take upon them the first press and
dint of the battle.”3

His Majesty, we are told, rejoiced much that the
Earl “ was so ready to hazard himself and friends
for defence of the King, and honour of the Common­
wealth ;”4 but although he and his followers did
good service in the congenial work of harrying the
North of England, the King’s death, on 3rd August,
through the bursting of a cannon, put a stop to the
invasion, and he had no opportunity of proving his
own zeal and the bravery of his Celts. The King’s
untimely death also cooled the Earl’s attachment to
the Royal line, and roused fresh ambitions within
his restless bosom. For a time he kept his plans to
himself, and was outwardly loyal to the infant King,

1  Thanes of Cawdor, 25.

2 Ibid. 25, 27, 29 ; Exchequer Rolls.

3 Lindsay of Pitscottie, 2nd Ed., 119, where the Earl is erroneously called

4 Ibid.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   61

James the Third. With other Highland chiefs
he attended a Parliament in Edinburgh, early in
1461 ; but before the close of the year he was
in treasonable correspondence with Edward the
Fourth of England and the banished Earl of
Douglas, which culminated in one of the most
remarkable treaties to which an English sovereign
has ever been a party. “ The basis of it,” says
Gregory,1 “ was nothing less than the contemplated
conquest of Scotland by the vassals of Ross and the
auxiliaries to be furnished by Edward, with such
assistance as the Earl of Douglas might be able to
give. The Earl of Ross, Donald Balloch, and John,
the son and heir of Donald, agreed, upon the pay­
ment to each of a stipulated sum of money, to
become for ever the sworn vassals of England, along
with all their retainers, and to assist Edward in his
wars in Ireland, as well as elsewhere. In the event
of the entire subjugation of Scotland by the Earls of
Ross and Douglas, the whole of the kingdom to
the north of the Forth was to be divided equally
between the two Earls and Donald Balloch ; whilst
Douglas was to be restored to the possession of
those estates between the Forth and the Borders of
England, from which he was now excluded ; and,
upon such partition and restoration being carried
into effect, the salaries payable to Ross and his
associates, as the wages of their defection, were to
cease. The stipulated salaries were :—To the Earl,
£200 sterling annually in time of war, and 100

1 Western Highlands and Isles, 47.


merks in time of peace ; to Donald Balloch, £40,
and to John, his son, £20, in time of war ; and in
time of peace half these sums respectively.”

This treaty was concluded on 13th February,
1462 ; but the impatient Earl had already assumed
the style of a sovereign,1 and renounced his allegiance
to the young King. From Inverness he issued pro­
clamations in true royal fashion ; and his army,
under the command of his illegitimate son, Angus,
and the veteran Donald Balloch, speedily brought
the North to his feet. But his reign was short.
His followers after a time disappeared like the mists
of their own mountains ; and in the end he was glad
to come to terms with the King. His life and his
property were spared, and for years all went well.2
But, in 1474, his treaty with Edward became
known, and its astounding nature roused the
Government to action. At his Castle of Dingwall
he was summoned to appear before Parliament.
He did not obey, and, in his absence, he was
pronounced a traitor, and his estates forfeited. To
carry the sentence into effect, a large armament,
consisting of a fleet and land forces, prepared to
move northward. But, before it started, the Earl
entered into negotiations with the King, which
resulted in the restoration of peace. An arrange-

1 The Earl acted as an independent prince as early as October, 1461, when,
by the advice of his principal vassals and kinsmen, in council assembled at his
castle of Ardtornish, he formally appointed his trusty and well-beloved
cousins, Ranald of the Isles, and Duncan, Archdean of the Isles, his
ambassadors to negotiate the treaty with Edward IV.(Gregory, 47.)

2  Gregory, 48, 49 ; Burton, III., 14.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   63

ment which partook almost of the nature of a com­
promise between independent Powers was entered
into. John was created a Lord of Parliament, with
the title of Lord of the Isles, and he retained the
greater portion of his vast possessions ; but the
Earldom of Ross was taken from him, and vested
in the Crown, and the Castle and Lordship of
Urquhart were retained by the King, and placed
under the control of George, Earl of Huntly, His
Majesty’s Chamberlain in the North.1

Thus terminated, in the year 1476, that posses­
sion of our Parish which, with various interruptions,
the great Island Chiefs had enjoyed by themselves
or their vassals, since the death of the Wolf of
Badenoch in 1394. Their tenancy was not a profit­
able one to the Crown. The Exchequer Accounts
show that the stipulated rent of £100 a year was
seldom paid. In noting the non-payment in 1473,
Alexander Fleming, the King’s Chamberlain, remarks
that His Majesty must be consulted regarding the
matter.2 The consultation, if it took place, was of
no avail ; and for the remaining years of the Earl’s
possession he insisted on withholding the rent as his
reward for keeping the Castle.3

Neither did the Islesmen’s rule conduce to the
prosperity of the people. Their wars and feuds
were a constant drain on the manhood of the Parish,
and the country was frequently left a prey to the

1  Gregory, 49, 50 ; Burton, III., 14, 15 ; Exchequer Rolls, VIII. See
Acts of Parl. of Scot. II., for official documents relating to John’s resignation
of the Earldom.

2 Exchequer Rolls, VIII.         3 Ibid.


fierce and needy neighbours by whom it was sur­
rounded. Even the severing of the Island connec­
tion failed for a time to improve matters. The
Macleans, who were chamberlains for the Earls, and
kept the Castle for them after Livingston’s resigna­
tion in 1454, acquired a power and influence which it
was hard to surrender. Within the old fortress they
sometimes entertained their princely patrons and
other chiefs.1 At other times they led the flower
of the men of Urquhart on the distant expeditions
of their Lords, or in some feud on their own account
against a neighbouring clan. Charles Maclean, the
first of the race, added to his influence by attaching
himself and his posterity to the Clan Chattan.2
The alliance was cemented by the marriage of his
son, Hector Buie, to Margaret, daughter of Malcolm
Mackintosh, captain of that clan.3 Hector was sur­
vived by at least three sons—Ewen, who succeeded
him in Urquhart ; Charles Auchinson (that is,
son of Eachann, or Hector), who, in 1492, appears
as a witness to a bond of friendship between Sir
Alexander Dunbar of Westfield, Sir James Dunbar
of Cumnock, and Farquhar Mackintosh ;4 and

1 Earl John was there in November, 1466, when he granted a charter of
the lands of Keppoch to Hector Maclean’s father-in-law, Malcolm Beg Mackin­
tosh. The traditions of Glenmoriston still speak of the Island Chiefs’ progresses
through that Glen on their way to the Castle, and of their custom of
exchanging shirts with the Chief of the Glenmoriston Macdonalds (Mac Iain
Ruaidh) as a pledge of mutual friendship and fidelity. Mac Iain Ruaidh was
known as the Lord of the Isles’ “Leine-chrios”—literally “waist-shirt”—
signifying counsellor or confidential adviser.

2 Invernessiana, 100 ; Mackintosh Shaw’s History of Clan Chattan, 151.

3 Mackintosh Shaw, 153.         4 Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, 83.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   65

Farquhar Auchinson, who witnesses the same deed,
and was the first of the family who possessed Doch-

Whatever rights Ewen had in Urquhart came to
an end with the close of its connection with the Isles.
From the Earl of Huntly he had no favour to
expect ; and, setting up a claim of duchas, or
unwritten title, to the lands of Urquhart, he resolved
to hold them by the sword. Supported by the
heroic Clan ’Ic Uian in Glen-Urquhart, and by the
Macdonalds of Glenmoriston, he bade defiance to the
King’s Chamberlain, and entered on a struggle that
lasted for upwards of thirty years. Huntly was
required to provide the Crown with the old rent of
£100, but questions of management were left to
himself, and he leased the entire Lordship to Hugh
Rose, Baron of Kilravock. Ewen Maclean opposed
Kilravock’s entry, and his cause was espoused by
his uncle and adopted chief, Duncan Mackintosh,
Captain of Clan Chattan, and the latter’s brothers,
Allan and Lachlan. But Kilravock’s wife was
a sister of Mackintosh, and, probably through
her influence, he and they agreed to settle by arbi­
tration all disputes between them, and especially all
questions regarding Urquhart. The arbitrators were
Alexander Gordon of Megmar (son of Huntly), Sir

1 Invernessiana, 101. Hector probably gave his name to Gortan Eachainn
at Balmacaan. Balmacaan itself, written Ballymakauchane — Baile-Mac-
Eachainn, the Town of the Son of Hector—in the charter of 1509 to John
the Bard, would appear to have been the holding of one of his sons. Balma-
caan was the principal possession of the Macleans of Urquhart until their
removal some thirty years ago.



Duncan Grant of Freuchie (Laird of Grant), Sir
James Ogilvy of Deskford, John Grant (son and heir
apparent of the said Sir Duncan), Alexander
Mackintosh of Rothiemurchus, and David Ogilvy of
Thomade. They met before the Earl of Huntly on
26th March, 1479, and, after solemn deliberation,
pronounced their award—“ All which being heard,
understood, and considered by the said Earl,” records
the officiating notary, “ he with the advice of the
said arbitrators, and with the consent and assent
of the said Duncan Mackintosh, and Allan and
Lachlan, his brothers-german, let the foresaid lands
of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, with all their privi­
leges and just pertinents, to the said Hugh Rose of
Kilravock, and willed that he should intromit with
the same in the manner and form previously agreed
on between the said Earl and Hugh, and that as is
contained in the foresaid lease to the said Hugh.”1

Ewen Maclean, who was not a party to the arbitra­
tion, refused to be bound by the decision ; and, in
consequence of the trouble which he gave, Kilravock
procured, in 1481, two bonds of friendship from the
Mackintoshes. The Chief, by deed dated 25th July,
binds and obliges himself and his sons, brothers,
and brothers’ children, and his kin, friends, and
adherents, “gif owcht be brokin” of the previous
agreement, to rectify the same, as Huntly and the
said arbitrators may advise ;2 and on the 23rd of
September his son Farquhar undertakes, in usual
bond of friendship style, to help, maintain, and

1 Family of Kilravock, 139.            2 Ibid, 143.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 67

defend the Baron and his kin in all their actions,
causes, and quarrels. And then follows this clause
in reference to Maclean :—“ And if Ewyne Makach-
tane [Ewen, son of Hector] will come before
Mackintosh—my father—and me, and bind himself
to submit to Mackintosh and eight persons chosen
by them with him, in all matters debateable between
the foresaid Baron and Ewyne, the foresaid Mackin­
tosh and the eight persons being sworn to give each
of them as far as they have right or law, it will
satisfy me ; but, if the said Ewyne will not, I, the
foresaid Farquhar, bind and oblige myself, as is
before written, to take a onefold part with the said
Baron, and his bairns and party, against the said
Ewyne and his party ; and this to do and fulfil in all
things, and by all things, in manner and form before
written, the great oath sworn and the holy evangel
touched, I, the foresaid Farquhar, bind and oblige
myself to the said Huchone the Rose, Baron, and
his sons, brothers, kin, and party, as is before
written, under the pain of inhability, perjury, ana
infamy, in the most strict style and form of bond or
obligation that made is, or can be devised.”1

This solemn covenant did not in the least influence
Ewen’s conduct. He still opposed Kilravock, and
he had an active sympathiser in his uncle, Lachlan
Mackintosh of Gallovie, who, although a party to
the arbitration, did not join in the subsequent
bonds. Gallovie resolved to strike the Baron within

1 The spelling is modernised. See Family of Kilravock, 144, for an exact
copy of the bond,


his castle of Kilravock ; and, with that view, he,
on 15th May, 1482, entered into an indenture of an
extraordinary nature with his kinsman, Donald, son
of Angus Mackintosh. The family of Rose had
been owners of Kilravock for two centuries before
the parties to this deed were born ; yet they record,
as a justification of the enterprise on which they are
about to enter, that “it is rehersit, presumyt, and
in sum part knawin be part of the eldest off the
lande, that Huchone the Rois, barone of Kilravok,
sulde haff na tityll off richt to the castell of
Kilrawok, na to the grunde that it standis on ;
taking it for granted that they have a right to seize
what they do not even pretend to be theirs, Donald
obliges himself, “ in all possibill hast,” to take the
castle and deliver it to Lachlan, who is immediately
to appoint Donald to be its constable so long as they
are able to hold it, whether by law or against law.
In return for these services Donald is to be placed
in possession of certain lands ; and, “for the mare
kindnes, traistnes, ande securite,” he is to marry
Lachlan’s daughter Margaret. The young people
being within the prohibited degrees, the lady’s
father undertakes to procure a dispensation from
the Pope at his own expense. But in the meantime
the canonical impediment is not to be allowed to
hinder the union. As soon as the said castle shall
be taken by the said Donald, proceeds the strange
paction, the said Lachlan shall forthwith, and
without any longer delay, handfast Margaret, his
said daughter, to the said Donald, and she shall

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                  69

lie with him as if she were his lawful wife ; and, as
soon as the dispensation comes home, the said
Donald is obliged, forthwith and without any longer
delay, to marry and espouse the said Margaret, and
to hold her in honour and worship at all his power
as his wedded wife, for all the days of his life.
Lachlan then binds himself to pay a tocher of forty
merks Scots, ten of which shall be paid at the time
of the handfasting, and ten at each term of
Whitsunday and Martinmas thereafter, until the
whole is paid; and to clothe his daughter “ honestly,”
and to keep and maintain her in his own house for
two years, if Donald shall so require. And the
covenant is solemnly concluded by both parties
touching the holy evangel, and swearing the great
oath that they shall keep the same without fraud or
guile, or “ cavillaeione.”1

It is stated by the old historian of Kilravock
that Donald actually surprised the Castle, and
committed slaughter and destroyed papers.2 Be
that as it may, the Baron made up his mind to get
rid of Urquhart. He accordingly, on 24th June,
1482, got from Huntly the office of keeper of the
royal fort of Redeastle ; and in consideration of the
services to be rendered by him in that capacity the
Earl relieved him of his unprofitable and trouble­
some lease, and discharged him of all sums payable
under it.3

1 Family of Kilravock, 146. See similar clause as to the lady’s main­
tenance in Janet Chisholm’s contract, p. 43, supra. A rnerk Scots was equal
to 13s 4d Scots, or 1s l4/12d sterling, Scots money being one­twelfth of money

2 Ibid, 10.              3 Ibid, 149.


One effect of the struggle with the Macleans was
to aggravate the evils from which the country had
suffered in the days of the Lords of the Isles,
and increase the wretchedness and poverty of the
people. The Exchequer Rolls — brief and bald
though their entries are—give us sad glimpses of
the state of the Parish. In an account rendered by
Huntly in July, 1478, for the previous year, he
deducts from the rent of £100 the sum of £33 6s 8d,
“ on account of the laying waste of the lands of
Glenmoriston, as was vouched at the audit ;
1 and
in the next year’s account William Gordon of
Dunlugas, the acting Chamberlain for the time,
makes a similar deduction “ on the ground that
Urquhart and Glenmoriston were waste, and could
not be let for the year of the account.”2 In refer­
ence to the latter account, Huntly is instructed
“ either to let or occupy the said lands in future, as
no further allowance shall be made to him on that
ground ;
but, despite this, the same abatement is
allowed to him for the same reason in the account
from July, 1479, to July, 1480, and again he is
ordered to let or occupy the lands.3 The state of
the Parish, in short, had become wretched in the
extreme. The feuds which had so long waged
between contending claimants destroyed the man­
hood of the country ; outside clans made thieving
inroads on the undefended glens ; bloodshed and
rapine prevailed ; the operations of seed time and

1 Exchequer Rolls, VIII.
2 Exchequer Rolls, VIII.
          3 Ibid.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   71

harvest were to a large extent suspended ; and the
fertile fields became one great wilderness, incapable
of returning the miserable yearly rent of £100 Scots
payable to the Crown. In these circumstances
Huntly, in obedience to the King’s commands,
looked around for a stronger tenant than Kilravock.
His choice fell on the Knight of Freuchie, Chief of
the powerful Clan Grant.

Sir Duncan Grant was not unacquainted with
the history and circumstances of the country of
which he was now asked to take charge. He had
been one of the arbitrators under the submission of
1479, and long before his time his family had a
territorial connection with the district of Loch Ness.
Stratherrick, which was the home of his family
before they settled on the banks of the Spey, was
possessed by them from the early part of the
thirteenth century, until it passed into the hands of
the Frasers about the year 1420. According to
tradition, the Church estate of Foyers was their last
possession in Stratherrick, and they lost it in this
manner. The young bride of Gruer Mor of Portclair
went forth, as was then the wont of newly married
women, to receive the presents of her friends. At
Foyers she was grossly insulted by Laurence Grant ;
and she reported the outrage to her husband,
who resolved to punish the offender, and sailed
from Portclair with galleys full of fighting men.
Grant and his followers rowed out to meet him, and
a desperate fight took place in the bay to the west
of Foyers, which is to this day known as Camus


Mharbh Dhaoine—the Bay of the Dead Men.
Defeated, and unable to reach the Stratherrick
shore, Laurence made for Urquhart, followed by
Gruer. At Ruidh Laurais—Laurence’s Slope—
above Ruiskich, he was overtaken and slain ; and
Gruer seized and retained Foyers.1

In Strathspey the family of Grant greatly
extended their possessions, and became a numerous
clan ; and at the time at which we have now arrived,
the Chief, Sir Duncan, was a man of great influence
in the Central Highlands. But he was full of years,
and his fighting days were past ; his only son died
in August, 1482 ; and it was on his grandson John,
who was known by the name of the Red Bard (Am
Bard Ruadh),
that the active duty devolved of
restoring order in Urquhart and Glenmoriston.

The Bard seems to have taken possession imme­
diately after Kilravock’s renunciation of his right,
and, with the exception of an annual reduction of
fifty merks, allowed from 1488 to 1496, “ on account
of the waste of the lands of Glenmoriston,” we meet
no more with abatements of rent in the Exchequer
Rolls. Huntly accounted regularly to the King for
the yearly sum of £100, although Grant does not
appear to have been too prompt in paying, for in
1492 he was four years in arrear.2 He had probably
a fair excuse in the difficulties which beset him in
his arduous and dangerous undertaking. In Glen-
Urquhart the Clan ’Ic Uian resisted long and

1 Foyers remained the property of the Church till 1541, when it was
conveyed by the Bishop to William Fraser of Aberchalder.

2 Chiefs of Grant, I., lxxx.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   73

desperately, and tradition still tells of their exploits
—at one time chasing a swift-footed Strathspeyman
down the hill of Clunemore, until he saved his life
by leaping the swollen Coilty where it forces its
way through the rock on which the picturesque
Bridge of the Leap now stands ; at another, slaying


a party of the invading clan, washing their heads
in Mac Uian’s Pool, which is now spanned by the
Bridge of Drumnadrochit, and sending the ghastly
trophies as a gift to the poet-chief. In Glen-
moriston the Macdonalds for years opposed the
Grants, and, in the language of the Exchequer

74                   URQUHART AND GLENMORISTON.

Rolls, kept the lands “ waste.” But the Bard’s
progress, if slow, was sure. In 1498 he earned
the King’s substantial gratitude for the “ gude and
thankfull service” of seizing and bringing to justice
Allan Mor Mac Ewen, a son probably of Ewen
Maclean ;1 and he soon found his footing so secure
that he accepted direct from the Crown a lease of
the Lordship for five years from Whitsunday, 1502,
at the old rent of £100, of which, however, £20 a
year was allowed to himself as his fee for keeping
the Castle.2 He also traded with the King, and
received, in October of that year, £71 2s, as the
price of “ 69 marts, with skins,” supplied by him for
His Majesty’s household.3 In 1505 he succeeded
Walter Ogilvy of Boyne as King’s Chamberlain of
the Lordship and certain other Crown lands, and he
held that office until 1509, when his good fortune
reached its climax, and Urquhart and Glenmoriston
were bestowed on himself and two of his sons as
their own absolute property.

Various considerations moved the King to make
these grants. Ever since the days of the Wolf of
Badenoch, the lands embraced by them had formed a
bone of contention between rival claimants, and the
Crown derived little or no benefit from them ; while
the royal Castle, falling from time to time into the
hands of men whose loyalty disappeared in their

1  For this service certain fines, which the Bard had incurred by non-
appearance at certain justice-aires, or courts, were remitted.—Chiefs of
Grant, III., 43.

2 King’s Rental Book, 1502-1508, in Register House.

3 Exchequer Rolls, XII., 219.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   75

thirst for power, became rather a menace to the
Throne than a souce of strength. Under the rule
of the Bard a marked improvement took place. His
loyalty was above suspicion. His prudence and
energy led to his employment in quelling dis­
turbances in Ross-shire and Strathglass, and even


in the distant wilds of Mar. With his large Celtic
following, he was eminently the man to maintain
order within the extensive Lordship, which had
almost come to be looked upon as a No-Man’s-Land.
It was believed, and with good reason, that, if the
territory was absolutely made over to himself and


his family at a feu-duty not less than the old rent,
their interest in the preservation of peace would
be increased without pecuniary loss to the Crown.
And so the charters of 1509 passed the Great Seal,
and the Castle and Lordship of Urquhart for ever
ceased to be the property of the King.

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