It is believed that no one who brings an independent, unprejudiced. mind to bear upon the question discussed in the preceding pages can help coming to the conclusion that the Colin Fitzgerald theory is completely disposed of. It is indeed extremely doubtful whether such a person ever existed, but in any case it has been conclusively proved by the evidence of those who claim him as their ancestor that he never could have been what they allege--the progenitor of the Mackenzies, whom all the best authorities now maintain to be of purely native Celtic origin. And if this be so, is it not unpatriotic in the highest degree for the heads of our principal Mackenzie families to persist in supplying Burke, Foster, and other authors of Peerages, Baronet ages, and County Families, with the details of an alien Irish origin like the impossible Fitzgerald myth upon which they have, in entire error, been feeding their vanity since its invention by the first Earl of Cromartie little more than two hundred years ago. For be it remembered that all these Norman and Florentine pedigrees and descents are supplied to the compilers of such genealogical works as those by members of the respective families themselves, and that the editors are not personally responsible for nor do they in any way guarantee their accuracy. It is really difficult to understand the feeling that has so long prompted most of our leading Highlanders to show such an unnatural and unpatriotic preference for alien progenitors--claiming the Norman enemies and conquerers of their country, or mythical Irish adventurers, as ancestors to be proud of. Writing of the clans who claim this alien origin the late Dr W. F. Skene, Historiographer Royal for Scotland, says--
"As the identity of the false aspect which the true tradition, assumes in all these cases implies that the case was the same all, we may assume that wherever these two circumstances are to he found combined, of a clan claiming a foreign origin and asserting a marriage with the heiress of a Highland family whose estates they possessed and whose followers they led, they must invariably have been the oldest cadet of that family, who, by usurpation or otherwise, had become de facto chief of the clan, and who covered their defect by right of blood by denying their descent from the clan, and asserting that the founder had married the heiress of its chief." [Highlands and Highlanders.]
In his later and more important work the same learned historian discusses this question at great length. He analyses all the doubtful pedigrees and origins claimed by the leading clans. Regarding the Fitzgerald theory he says, "But the most remarkable of these spurious origins is that claimed by the Mackenzies. It appears to have been first put forward by Sir George Mackenzie, first Earl of Cromarty," who, in his first manuscript, made Colin a son of the Earl of Kildare, but in a later edition, written in 1669, "finding that there was no Earl of Kildare until 1290, he corrects it by making him son of John Fitz-Thomas, chief of the Geraldines in Ireland, and father of John, first Earl of Kildare, who was slain in 1261." Dr Skene then summarises the story already known at length to the reader, quotes the Record of Icolmkill and the forged charter, and concludes --
"The same mistake is here committed as is usual in manufacturing these pedigree charters, by making it a crown charter erecting the lands into a barony. Kintail could not have been a barony at that time, and the Earl of Ross and not the king was superior, for in 1342 the Earl of Ross grants the ten davochs of the lands of Kintail to Reginald, son of Roderick of the Isles, and we find that the Mackenzies held their lands of the Earls of Ross and afterwards of the Duke of Ross till 1508, when they were all erected into a barony by King James the Fourth, who gave them a crown charter. An examination of the witnesses usually detects these spurious charters, and in this case it is conclusive against the charter. Andrew was bishop of Moray from 1223 to 1242 and there was no bishop of that name in the reign of Alexander the Third. Henry de Baliol was chamberlain in the reign of Alexander the Second, and not of Alexander the Third. Thomas Hostarius belongs to the same reign, and has been succeeded by his son Alan long before the date of this charter."
Dr Skene adds that if the Earl of Cromartie was not himself the actual inventor of the whole story, it must have taken its rise not very long before his day, for, he says, "no trace of it is to be found in the Irish MSS., the history of the Geraldine family knows nothing of it, and MacVureach, who must have been acquainted with the popular history of the western clans, was equally unacquainted with it." [Celtic Scotland, Vol. III., pp. 351-354.]
This fully corroborates all that was said in the preceding pages regarding the Fitzgerald-Irish origin of the Mackenzies and which every intelligent clansman, however biassed, must now admit in his inner consciousness to be fully and finally disposed of. Having, however, quoted Skene's earlier views on the general claim by the Highland chiefs for alien progenitors it may be well to give here his more mature conclusions from his later and greater work, especially as some people, who have not taken the trouble to read what he writes, have been saying that the great Celtic historian had seen cause to change his views on these important points in Highland genealogy since he wrote his Highlands and Highlanders in 1839. After examining them all very closely and exhaustively in a long and learned chapter of some forty pages, he says --
"The conclusion, then, to which this analysis of the clan pedigrees which have been popularly accepted at different times has brought us, is that, so far as they profess to show the origin of the different clans, they are entirely artificial and untrustworthy, but that the older genealogies may be accepted as showing--the descent of the clan from its eponymus or founder, and within reasonable limits for some generations beyond him, while the later spurious pedigrees must be rejected altogether. It may seem surprising that such spurious and fabulous origins should be so readily credited by the clan families as genuine traditions, and receive such prompt acceptance as the true fount from which they sprung; but we must recollect that the fabulous history of Hector Boece was as rapidly and universally adopted as the genuine annals of the national history, and became rooted in those parts of the country to which its fictitious events related as local traditions." [Celtic Scotland, Vol. III., p. 364.]
The final decision to which Dr Skene comes in his great work is that the clans, properly so called, were of native origin, and that the surnames adopted by them were partly of native and partly of foreign descent. Among these native Highland clans he unhesitatingly classes the Mackenzies, the clan Gillie-Andres or Rosses, and the Mathesons, all of whom belong, he says, to the tribe of Ross. In his first work on the Highlands and Highland Clans he draws the general deduction, based on all our existing MS. genealogies, that the clans were divided into several great tribes, descended from a common ancestor, but he at the same time makes a marked distinction between the different tribes which, by indica-tions traceable in each, can be identified with the earldoms or maormorships into which the North of Scotland was originally divided. By the aid of the old genealogies he divides the clans into five different tribes in the following order:--(1) The descendants of Conn of the Hundred Battles; (2) of Ferchar Fata Mac Feradaig; (3) of Cormaig Mac Obertaig; (4) of Fergus Leith Dearg; and (5) of Krycul. In the third of these divisions he includes the old Earls of Ross, the Mackenzies, the Mathesons, and several other clans, and to this classification he adheres, after the most mature consideration, in his later and greater work, the History of Celtic Scotland.