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2023-11-29 06:45:59source:zop

James soon after proceeded north in person as far as Dunstaffnage; Donald Balloch fled to Ireland; and, after several encounters with the rebels, the King obtained the submission of the majority of the chiefs who were engaged in the rebellion, while others were promptly apprehended and executed to the number of about three hundred. The King thereupon released the Lord of the Isles from Tantallon Castle, and granted him a free pardon for all his rebellious acts, confirmed him in all his titles and possessions, and further conferred upon him, in addition, the Lordship of Lochaber, which had previously, on its forfeiture, been granted to the Earl of Mar. After his first escape from Edinburgh, the Lord of the Isles again in 1429 raised the standard of revolt. He for the second time burnt the town of Inverness, while Mackenzie was "attending to his duties at Court."

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Kintail was recalled by his followers, who armed for the King, and led by their young chief on his return home, they materially aided in the overthrow of Alexander of the Isles at the same time securing peace and good government in their own district, and among most of the surrounding tribes. Alexander is also found actively supporting the King, and with the Royal army, during the turbulent rule of John, successor to Alexander, Lord of the Isles, who afterwards, in 1447, died at peace with his sovereign.

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James I. died in 1460, and was succeeded by James II. When, in 1462, the Earl of Douglas, the Lord of the Isles, and Donald Balloch of Isla entered into a treaty with the King of England for the subjugation of Scotland, on condition, in the event of success, that the whole of Scotland, north of the Firth of Forth, should be divided between them, Alexander Mackenzie stood firm in the interest of the ruling monarch, and with such success that nothing came of this extraordinary compact. We soon after find him rewarded by a charter in his favour, dated 7th January 1463, confirming him in his lands of Kintail, with a further grant of the "5 merk lands of Killin, the lands of Garve, and the 2 merk lands of Coryvulzie, with the three merk lands of Kinlochluichart, and 2 merk lands of Ach-na-Clerich, the 2 merk lands of Garbat, the merk lands of Delintan, and the 4 merk lands of Tarvie, all lying within the shire and Earldom of Ross, to be holden of the said John and his successors, Earls of Ross." This is the first Crown charter in favour of the Mackenzie chief of which any authentic record exists.

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Alexander continued to use his great influence at Court, as well as with John Lord of the Isles, for the purpose of bringing about a reconciliation between his Majesty and his powerful subject during the unnatural rebellion of Angus Og against his father. The King, however, proved inexorable, and refused to treat with the Earl on any condition other than the absolute and unconditional surrender of the earldom of Ross to the Crown, of which, however, he would be allowed to hold all his other possessions in future. These conditions the island chief haughtily refused, again flew to arms, and in 1476 invaded Moray, but finding that he could offer no effectual resistance to the powerful forces sent against him by the King, he, by the seasonable grants of the lands of Knapdale and Kintyre, secured the influence of Colin, first Earl of Argyll, in his favour, and with the additional assistance of Kintail, procured remission of his past offences on the conditions previously offered to him and resigning for ever, in 1476, the Earldom of Ross to the King, he "was infeft of new" in the Lordship of the Isles and the other possessions which he had not been called upon to renounce. The Earldom was in the same year, in the 9th Parliament of James III., irrevocably annexed to the Crown, where the title and the honours still remain, held by the Prince of Wales.

The great services rendered by the Baron of Kintail to the reigning family, especially during these negotiations, and generally throughout his long rule at Ellandonnan, were recognised by a charter from the Crown, dated Edinburgh, November 1476, of some of the lands renounced by the Earl of Ross, viz., Strathconan, Strathbraan, and Strathgarve; and after this the Barons of Kintail held all their lands quite independently of any superior but the Crown. During the long continued disputes between the Earl of Ross and Kintail no one was more zealous in the cause of the island chief than Allan Macdonald of Moydart, who, during Mackenzie's absence, made several raids into Kintail, ravaged the country, and carried away large numbers of cattle. After the forfeiture of the Earldom of Ross, Allan's youngest brother, supported by a faction of the tenantry, rebelled against his elder brother, and possessed himself for a time of the Moydart estates.

The Lord of the Isles was unwilling to appear so soon in these broils; or perhaps he favoured the pretentions of the younger brother, and refused to give any assistance to Allan, who, however, hit upon a device as bold as it ultimately proved successful. He started for Kinellan, "being ane ile in ane loch," where Mackenzie at the time resided, and presented himself personally before his old enemy, who was naturally surprised beyond measure to receive such a visit from one to whom he had never been reconciled. Allan, however, related how he had been oppressed by his brother and his nearest friends and how he had been refused aid from those to whom he had a natural right to look for it. In these desperate circumstances he resolved to apply to his greatest enemy, who, he argued, might for any assistance he could give gain in return as faithful a friend as he bad previously been his "diligent adversary." Alexander, on hearing the story, was moved to pity by the manner in which Allan had been oppressed by his own relatives, promised him the required support, proceeded in person with a sufficient force to repossess him, and finally accomplished his purpose. The other Macdonalds, who had been dispossessed thereupon represented to the King that Alexander Mackenzie had invaded their territory as a "disturber of the peace, and ane oppressor," the result being that he was cited before His Majesty at Edinburgh, "but here was occasion given to Allan to requite Alexander's generosity, for Alexander having raised armies to assist him, without commission, he found in it a transgression of the law, though just upon the matter; so to prevent Alexander's prejudice, he presently went to Holyrood house, where the King was, and being of a bold temper, did truly relate how his and Alexander's affairs stood, showing withal that he, as being the occasion of it, was ready to suffer what law would exact rather than to expose so generous a friend to any hazard. King James was so taken with their reciprocal heroisms, that he not only forgave, but allowed Alexander, and of new confirmed Allan in the lands of Moydart." [Cromartie MS. of the Mackenzies.] The two were then allowed to return home unmolested.

Some time before this a desperate skirmish took place at a place called Bealach nam Brog, "betwixt the heights of Fearann Donuil and Lochbraon" (Dundonald and Lochbroom), which was brought about by some of Kintail's vassals, instigated by Donald Garbh M'Iver, who attempted to seize the Earl of Ross. The plot was, however, discovered, and M'Iver was seized by the Lord of the Isles' followers, and imprisoned in the Castle of Dingwall. He was soon released, however, by his undaunted countrymen from Kenlochewe, consisting of Macivers, Maclennans, Macaulays, and Macleays, who, by way of reprisal, pursued and seized the Earl's relative, Alexander Ross of Balnagown, and carried him along with them. The Earl at once apprised Lord Lovat, who was then His Majesty's Lieutenant in the North, of the illegal seizure of Balnagown, and his lordship promptly dispatched northward two hundred men, who, joined by Ross's vassals, the Munroes of Fowlis, and the Dingwalls of Kildun, pursued and overtook the western tribes at Bealach nam Brog, where they were resting themselves. A sanguinary conflict ensued, aggravated and more than usually exasperated by a keen and bitter recollection of ancient feuds and animosities. The Kenlochewe men seem to have been almost extirpated. The race of Dingwall were actually extinguished, one hundred and forty of their men having been slain, while the family of Fowlis lost eleven members of their house alone, with many of the leading men of their clan. ["Among the rest ther wer slain eleven Monroes or the House or Foulls, that wer to succeed one after another; so that the succession of Foulls fell into a chyld then lying in his cradle."--Sir Robert Gordon's History 0f the Earldom of Sutherland, p. 36.]

An interesting account of this skirmish and the cause which led to it is given in one of the family manuscripts. It says Euphemia Leslie, Countess Dowager of Ross, lived at Dingwall. She would gladly have married Alexander of Kintail, he being a proper handsome young man, and she signified no less to himself. He refused the offer, perhaps, because he plighted his faith to Macdougall's daughter, but though he had not had done so, he had all the reason imaginable to reject the Countess's offer, for besides that she was not able to add to his estate, being but a life-rentrix, she was a turbulent woman, and therefore, in the year 1426, the King committed her to prison in St. Colin's Isle (Dingwall), because she had instigated her son, Alexander Earl of Ross, to rebellion. She invited Kintail to her Court in Dingwall to make a last effort, but finding him obstinate she converted her love to hatred and revenge, and made him prisoner, and either by torturing or bribing his page, he procured the golden ring which was the token between Mackenzie and Macaulay, the governor of Ellandonnan, who had strict orders not to quit the castle or suffer any one to enter it until he sent him that token.