MacDonalds of Ardnamurchan

transcribed by John Dye from the Public Archives of Nova Scotia

M.G.1 Vol 559 N0 412 (handwritten notes, where decipherable, are added in italics)
(All of the sheets bear the stamp of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia Halifax)


A brief genealogical account of this family is given in Vol 3 of Clan Donald, but as the family (known as MacIans), lost their possessions over three hundred years ago, and the clan was dispersed, accurate information concerning the representatives of the family since about 1625 is not available. The representative at that time was Alexander, a minor, and for whom his uncle Donald, of Ormisaig, acted as Tutor and guardian.

The MacIans lost their property of Ardnamurchan to the Campbells, but prior (to) their actual dispossession, there was a period of struggle during which period the MacIans were assisted by their kinsmen of the Clanranald of Moidart and the Isles. The Privy Council Records for Scotland contain some references to the struggles between the MacIans and Macdonalds on one side and the Campbells on the other .The first one selected is for 1618. On Nov 10th of that year, a complaint was made to the Privy Council by the Kings Advocate on behalf of Mr Donald Campbell of Parbrek against John Mc Donald Mc Allane Vc Eane, of Ylandtyrum, stating that the latter had on May 27th, 28th and 29th previous gathered together

Donald Mc Eane in Ormisaig
Johne ,Angus and Archibald McEane, his sons
Donald Mc Neill Vc Conill Geir in Glenbeg
Donald Mc Angus Vc Eane in Ardsleignes
Alexander Mc Ronald Vc Eane in Camisnagald
Alexander Mc Innes Vc Eane in Girgodill
Dougall McGillivorie there
Angus Mc Coneill Vc Angus in Auchinha
Angus Me Coneill Oig there
Donald. Glas McEane VcEane in Phesodill
Donald Roy McTavesin Surdill (NB Called Donald Roy McAngus in 1625)
Rorye Mc Gillimichaell there see name of John McIllimichael record PC Feb 12 162?
Allane McAllane Vc Persone in Ochill grandson of Sir Roy McAllane brother of John of Moidart(?)
Ewen McLauchlane Vc Coneill Geir in Glenbeg
Johnne McConeill Vc Eane Roy in Glendewricht (Glen Hourich)
Donald Mc Eane Vc Allaster in Glenmilladel (In Ranachan?)
Donald Roy Mc Gillivoriche in Ardstank
Rory Mc Eane Vc Connell in Anahet (In 1625 called Rorie McAllane Vc Conile)
Donald Dow Mc Gillimartene Roy in Rannachanmoir
Ewne Mc Finla Vc Gillene in Kilchoan (Ewne McFinlay Vc Ilore?)
Johne Mc Finla, his son

and others, to the number of two hundred, all armed and with "grite pypis blowing afore tham", had come to pursuers lands of Achaterie in Ardnamurchan and to the houses of Gilleane Mc Iloure and Johne Mc Kinla, his bowmen and servants. The Mac Ians were said to have assaulted these men and their families, and to have carried away their furniture and property. They then committed the same assault on the property of Johnne Reoche Mc Soirle Vc Ewir, pursuers tenant. Finally, they carried off their plunder to the lands of Moidart, where they divided it among themselves. Later on, they went to the lands of Lagre and Ardnamurchine and to Respoll in Sowart, and ravaged those places. On June 3rd, 1619, a commission to apprehend them was given, and this order was repeated on Feb 26th, 1622, some additional names being included. One of the additional names was that of Rorie Mc Allane Vc Ferquhar, aid to be Captain of Illantyrum, and this is the only occasion where I have seen such a term used, as separate and distinct from the chieftain or Captain of Clanranald.
A rather striking scene disturbed the peace of a certain Sunday sometime in 1623 or 1624. On Feb 12th, 1624, a complaint was made to the council by Andrew, Bishop of Argyle, and Mr Donald Omey, Minister of Ardnamurchan. The complaint alleged that one Sunday while Mr Donald was preaching, "thair came a young man in to the kirk, in the middle of his preatching, armed with a sword, a targe, and a hagbuitt, and very rudlie, with ane awful and feirce countenance", addressed himself directly to the minister, giving to him a letter from John Mc Donald Mc Allan Vc Eane of Illantyrum. This letter ordered the minister to clear out on pain of his life. The young emissary of Clanranald was named John Mc Ilvichill.
In 1625, matters were more serious ,and in that year the Privy Council issued an order denouncing a number of the Clan Ian and others as Highland Rebels. The Clan Ian were stigmatized as "lawless lymmaris and pirates, who pretended to be a branch
of the Clanranald". The names of those denounced on this occasion are as follows:

Johne Mc Coneile Vc Eane (son of Donald McEane of Ormisaig - 1618)
Archibald Mc Conill his brother
Allester Mc Angus Voillich
Donald Mc Angus Voilich his brother
Alester Mc Ronnald Vc Eane (Formerly of Camisnagald)
Donald Mc Rorie Yowe Vc Eane Mudartiche (Grandson of John of Clanranald)
Johne, his brother
Allane Mc Lauchlane Vc Ewin Yir
Donald Oig Mc Conill Yir
Johne Mc Eane Vc Conill Yir
Donald and Angus, his brothers
Duncan Mc Neill Vc Connochie
Duncane Mc Pherquhar Vc Conill Vane
Johne Mc Eane Roy Vc Nakeard
Johne Mc Finlay Vc Phaden
Jobne Mc Ewin Mc Conill Vc Ewir
Johnn Mc Conill Dowye Vc Finlay
Johne Mc Conill Vc Ewne Vane
Johne Mc Neill Ve Eachane
Donald Mc Finlay Oig Vc Gilliephatrik
Donald Mc Coneill
Donald Dow Mc Carmig
Aichin Roy Mc Ronnald Vc Eane Vc Conill
Allane Mc Allane Vc Persone
Johne Mc Finlay Oig Vc Gilliephatrik
Donald Bayne Mc Eane Yir
Donald Roy, his brother (see Donald McDoneill Roy Vc Eane Yeir Records PC 1630 June 8 List of Clanranalds and McIans)
Ewne Mc Conill Grasich
Donald Mc Neill Vc Eane Our
Angus Mc Eane Vc Innes Vc Eane Volich (was this Iain Molach - sone of Allan IV of Clanranald?)
Donald Mc Conill Yir Vc Neill
Johne Mc Conill Roy Vc Finlay Vc Gilliephatrick
Donald Mc Allaster Vc Eane Vc Coneill
Johne Mc Eane Vc Neill Vc Uwar
Neil Mc Intyre in Eg
Donald Mc Gillimertene there
Ewen Mc Gillichreist there
Martyne Mc Cwill Vc Vicar
Rorie Mc Allan Vc Pherquhar (said to be Captain of Ilandtyrim)
Lauchlane Mc Coneill Vc Ewne Vc Conill Dwy
Johne Mc Harlich Vc Lauchlane
Lauchiane, his son
Donald Mc Gillichallum Vc Finvinn
Gillichallum, his son
Ewen Mc Harlich Vc Finvinn in Eg
Donald Mc Ranald Vc Eane Vc Coneill thair
Johne Mc Innes Vc Cwill Roy - "hes of lait broken loose"

It appears from the statement in the records of the council that the foregoing individuals and others had captured an English ship and had taken to piracy, and certainly some of the names mentioned were Clanranalds from Moidart and the Isles. The Government took energetic action, and eventually the Mac Ians were scattered and dispersed, and the remnant that clung together took shelter in the braes of Moidart and Arisaig, where they acknowledged Clanranald as their chieftain.
By 1631, the Campbells had been for some years in possession of Ardnamurchan, but it was not yet peaceful possession. In that year ,a complaint; was made to the council by Sir Thomas Hope, Kings Advocate and Sir Donald Campbell of Ardnamurchan, concerning the
salmon fishing in the river Sheil. When pursuers tenants endeavoured to fish, they were on two occasions assaulted and driven off by a band of Macdonalds from Moidart and Noydart. The complaint lodged was against John Mc Donald Mc Allane Vc Eane of Illantyrrum and certain followers of his including: -

Rory Mc Doneill Gorme Vc Eane
Rory Mc Lauchlane Vc Murchie
John Dow Vc Murchie Naseall (Na Seall?)
Donald Mc Doneill Roy Vc Eane Yeir
Donald Mc Ewne Moir
John Mc Ewne Yeir -- (his bailie of Moydart)

and a great many others, who on June 4th, 1630 prevented the Campbells from fishing. Again, on the 8th of June of the same year, some of the Clanranald and/or Mac Ians made trouble, the following names being cited:-.

John Mc Donald Mc Allan Vc Eane -- Captain of Clanranald
John Mc Allane Vc Eane, his uncle
Rorie Mc Doneill Gorme Vc Eane, his near cousin
John Mc Eane Yeir, his bailie of Moidart
Gillipatrick Mc Eane Year, brother of the last
Allan Mc Lauchlane Vc Doneill Yeir (See Ewen McLaughlane Vc Coneill Yeir in Glenbeg 161?)
John Mc Doneill Vc Carmaig (See Donald Dow McCarmig - 1625)
Angus Moir Vc Inneis Yeir
Angus Dowie
Rorie Mc Lauchlane Vc Murchie
John Dow Mc Murchie (Na Seall?)
Donald Mc Donneill Roy Vc Eane Yeir
Donald Mc Ewne Moir

Copies of the charge were given to the Captain of Clanranald and to his bondsman, Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat, and also to: -

Captain John Mc Eane Yeir
Gillipatrick Mc Eane Yeir
John Dow Mc Muriche Na Seall
Donald Mc Donell Roy Vc Ean Yeir (See 1625 List to Donlad Roy Vc Ean Yeir)
Donald Mc Ewin Moir
John Mc Cullane Vc Eane (Uncle of the Chieftain of Clanranald)

Since that time the public records have little to say about the Mac Ians, their identity being merged with the Clanranalds. An old tombstone came to light in a church yard in Badenoch many years ago, containing an inscription as to the death and burial there of certain Macdonalds - "Sometime representing the ancient family of Ardnamourach" and a few years ago an old man died in Moidart who according to tradition was said to one of the Mac Ians. Then the family of Andrew MacDonald, who emigrated to Prince Edward Island from Eilean Shona in 1806, were said to be Mac Ians. Some of Andrew's descendants became prominent in the public life of P .E .I. and the Dominion.
In the 1882 collections of the N. Y. Historical Society is to be found the letter book of Capt. Alexander Macdonald, of the 84th Royal Highland Emigrant Battalion. He was Skye man, and had served first in the Earl of Montgomery's regiment in the war with France and later with the 84th in the American Revolution. Included in the letter book is a statement from Donald Macdonald of Castleton, Skye, in which the latter declares that the said Alexander Macdonald is the true representative of the Mac Ians. The statement is dated 1758. Captain Alexander had several sons, whom he sent over to his brother, Rev. John Macdonald, a minister in Scotland about I783, but of any further details and as the truth of the statement made by Castleton, the writer is ignorant.

March 15th, 1940

John Dye (transcriber)