Some followers of the Earl of Ross about this time made a raid to the district of Kenlochewe and carried away a great herschip. Mackenzie pursued them, recovered a considerable portion of the spoil. and killed many of the raiders. The Earl of Ross was greatly incensed at Kenneth's conduct in this affair, and he determined to have him apprehended and suitably punished for the murders and other excesses committed by him.
In this he ultimately succeeded. Mackenzie was captured, chiefly through the instrumentality of Leod Mac Gilleandrais--a desperate character, and a vassal and relative of the Earl--and executed at Inverness in 1346, when the lands of Kenlochewe, previously possessed by Kintail, were given to Mac Gilleandrais as a reward for Mackenzie's capture.
On this point the author of the Ardintoul manuscript says, that the lands of Kenlochewe were held by Kenneth Mackenzie "and his predecessors by tack, but not as heritage, for they had no real or heritable right of them until Alexander of Kintail got heritable possession of them from John, Earl of Ross," at a much later date. Ellandonnan Castle, however, held out during the whole of this disturbed and distracted period, and until Kenneth's heir, who at his father's death was a mere boy, came of age, when he fully avenged the death of his father, and succeeded to the inheritance of his ancestors. The garrison meanwhile maintained themselves on the spoil of the enemy. The brave defenders of the castle were able to hold their own throughout and afterwards to hand over the stronghold to their chief when he arrived at a proper age and returned home.
The Earl of Cromarty, who gives a very similar account of this period, concludes his notice of Kenneth in these terms--" Murdered thus, his estate was possessed by the oppressor's followers; but Island Donain keeped still out, maintaining themselves on the spoyle of the enemie. All being trod under by insolince and oppression, right had no place. This was during David Bruce's imprisonment in England," when chaos and disorder ruled supreme, at least in the Highlands.
Kenneth married Finguala, or Florence, daughter of Torquil Macleod, II. of Lewis. by his wife Dorothea, daughter of William, second O'Beolan Earl of Ross by his wife, Joan, daughter of John the first Red Comyn, and sister of John the Black Comyn, Lord of Badenoch and Earl of Buchan, with issue, an only son,
Usually called "Murchadh Dubh na h' Uagh," or Black Murdoch of the Cave, from his habits of life, which shall be described presently.
Murdoch was very young when his father was executed at Inverness. During Kenneth's absence on that occasion, and for some time afterwards, Duncan Macaulay, a great friend, who then owned the district of Lochbroom, had charge of Ellandonnan Castle. The Earl of Ross was determined to secure possession of Murdoch, as he previously did of his father, and Macaulay becoming apprehensive as to his safety sent him, then quite young, accompanied by his own son, for protection to Mackenzie's relative, Macdougall of Lorn. While here the Earl of Ross succeeded in capturing young Macaulay, and in revenge for his father's gallant defence at Ellandonnan during Kenneth's absence, and more recently against his own futile attempts to take that stronghold, he put Macaulay to death, whereupon Murdoch, who barely escaped with his life, left Lorn and sought the protection of his uncle, Macleod of Lewis.
The actual murderer of Macaulay was the same desperate character, Leod Macgilleandrais, a vassal of the Earl of Ross, who had in 1346 been mainly instrumental in the capture and consequent death of Mackenzie's father at Inverness. The Earl of Cromarty describes the assassin as "a depender of the Earl of Ross, and possessed of several lands in Strathcarron (of Easter Ross) and some in Strathoykell." When he killed Macaulay, Leod possessed himself of his lands of Lochbroom and Coigach "whereby that family ended." Macaulay's estates should have gone to Mackenzie in right of his wife, Macaulay's daughter, but "holding of the Earl of Ross, the earl disponed the samen in lyfrent by tack to Leod, albeit Murdo Mackenzie acclaimed it in right of his wyfe."