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GEORGE, 3RD LORD REAY

1680 - 1748

George, 3rd Lord Reay, who was born towards the close of 1678, succeeded in the title his grandfather, the second Lord Reay, towards the close of 1680, and during the following fourteen years was under the solicitous guardianship of his maternal grandfather, Sir George Munro of Culrain. With sleepless watchfulness and untiring care the peppery old Cavalier husbanded the resources of the estate, and with the assistance of the versatile Dame Barbara, Lady Reay, provided the very best education for the clever boy. During these years many of the debts lying on the estate were cleared away, and though a heavy burden still remained as soon as his Lordship came of age he shouldered it like a man, disentangling his property with a financial capacity which cannot be too highly praised. To clear his feet Reay had to part with the lands along the Naver river from Moudale downwards, but if he did he secured the estate of Scoury, and before he died saw one of his sons proprietor of Bighouse and another proprietor of Skibo. But we must hark back to our narrative.

The period 1680-88 was one of growing religious persecution in Scotland. The Stuarts were steering madly for political perdition. Miserable as were the closing years of the reign of Charles II when he died in 1685 he was succeeded by his brother James VII who not only roused the Covenanters to desperation but alienated from himself many of the old Cavalier families, until in 1688 the nation rose up and swept the Stuarts off the boards. During these wretched years the secluded mountains of Strathnaver afforded a gracious asylum to many a hunted Covenanter, and around the shores of Lochnaver the warmest welcome was extended by the Aberachs to the persecuted ones. The sympathies of John Mackay, 7th Aberach chieftain, who had married a daughter of the saintly poet, the Revd. Alexander Munro, minister of Durness, lay with the men and women who stood up "for Christ's Crown and Covenant". A generation earlier Strathnaver sheltered the broken Irish followers of Montrose, now it took into its arms fugitives of quite a different kind.

One of the sorely tried was Christina Ross, widow of Alexander Fearn of Pitcallion in Ross, who was forced to flee in the night time "with one of her sons of fourteen years of age running at her foot, in the winter time, to Strathnaver hills", where she lived for three months, until the Countess of Sutherland "sent privately for her in the night time, and kept her for two months close in a chamber, and took home one of her daughters out of charity". The only charge against her was that she attended conventicles and showed hospitality to outed ministers. It may be of interest to point out that a daughter of this widowed lady married Alexander Mackay, nephew of John, the Aberach chieftain, and that a son of this marriage was Robert of Halmadary, whose religious fervour developed into fanaticism of the most extravagant character. Of that we shall speak afterwards.

While King James was goring his people, many fled for refuge over the sea to the Protestant court of William, Prince of Orange, who had married a daughter of the British monarch. Determined upon the expulsion of James, the heart of the nation went out towards Prince William, and overtures were made to him to come over and to pick up the crown. In the service of the Dutch States there was a Scots Brigade consisting of three regiments, and one of Prince William's most trusted officers was General Hugh Mackay of Scoury, brother of Barbara, Lady Reay, and a man of such an adventurous career as to merit an introductory notice by the way [Major Barnardi's Life].

General Hugh Mackay III of Scoury in early life joined Dumbarton's regiment in the service of France, and during the war between the Venetian States and the Turks served as a volunteer with the former, obtaining a medal in 1669 for important services performed at the siege of Candia. After this he served with the French in their war with the Dutch States, but coming under the influence of a pious, Protestant, Dutch lady, whose daughter eventually became his wife, he quitted the service of France and joined the Dutch. His valour at the siege of Grave brought him to the notice of the Prince of Orange, who promoted him to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel on the 19th Mar 1675, and to that of Colonel of the Scots regiment on the 28th Apr 1676. When Mackay assumed command, the Scots regiment was in a very disorganised state. The following extract from Strictures on Military Discipline indicates the cause and the cure.

"In some skirmishes that happened in the army even in the years 1675 and 1676 the Scots did not behave with their usual spirit and conduct, and the Prince was much piqued and displeased, insomuch that he one day asked the brave General Mackay, lately come to his service from France, if he was not surprised and ashamed at the behaviour of his countrymen so different from what the Scotch brigade had done in the army of Gustavus Adolphus when commanded by his friend Lord Rae.
Mackay as much piqued as the Prince begged … leave to tell his Highness that altho' they had that name they did not deserve it, for that near one half of the officers and more of the men were not Scots, but were Dutch, French, Germans, and of all nations, even some officers in high rank as well as captains and subalterns…
But, says Mackay, if I may speak my mind freely to your Highness, and give my opinion, allow me to say that the only way to recover these regiments and bring them to their former state is by dispersing all these Dutch and foreign officers, under-officers, and soldiers into the national and newly levied or other regiments; replace the officers with Scotch gentlemen of family and merit, raise Scotch recruits, and henceforth let officers, under-officers, and men be only Scots, and I shall answer for their being very soon as good as ever, and will behave as bravely … as ever my countrymen did in the army of Gustavus Adolphus."

Mackay did not prove a false prophet. His advice was taken, officers and soldiers were recruited in Scotland, and soon the Scots Brigade became the flower of the army in Holland. In the new levy which came over to fill up the ranks were Mackay's two brothers, James and Roderick, and his nephew, the Hon. Æneas Mackay, who brought with them a goodly contingent from Strathnaver. These troops were destined betimes to take a prominent part under General Mackay in the struggle to place Prince William on the throne of Britain.

[Footnote: This famous regiment was the oldest of the three forming the Scots Brigade, and was embodied in 1574 by Sir Henry Balfour. Between the years 1677 and 1775 it had no fewer than four commanding officers of the name of Mackay, and in the following order. General Hugh Mackay of Scoury was its colonel 1677-92; Brigadier-General Æneas Mackay, son of John, 2nd Lord Reay, and nephew of General Hugh of Scoury, commanded it 1692-98; Colonel Donald Mackay, son of the Brigadier-General, was commanding officer 1742-45; and Lieutenant-General Hugh Mackay, grandson of General Hugh of Scoury, was its honorary colonel 1773-75. It had also many men in the ranks and not a few officers of the name of Mackay during more than a century of its existence, as a cursory glance at The Scots Brigade in Holland (Scot. Hist. Soc.) will show.]

As matters were ripening to a climax, the Prince of Orange dispatched chosen emissaries to Scotland with a view to strengthen his cause, among them Captain Æneas Mackay who seems to have returned home early in 1687, for on the 12th Apr he witnessed at Durness the pre-nuptial contract of his sister, Anna. On the 15th May 1688, Captain Æneas was imprisoned on suspicion of intriguing against the king in Edinburgh Castle, where he lay till after the Prince had landed in England [Privy Council Register]. By order of the Privy Council Æneas was liberated, 10th Dec, upon giving his bond to appear and answer anything that might be laid to his charge, under a penalty of £500 Sterling in case of failure. As Captain Mackay was the eldest surviving son of the late Lord Reay, and as the then Lord Reay was but a boy, he wielded the influence of a chieftain over his clansmen and got them to espouse the cause of the house of Orange. The same cause was adopted by Sir George Munro of Culrain, and probably under the same influence.

General Hugh Mackay of Scoury, who accompanied the Prince to England, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Scotland and dispatched to the north. On arrival in Edinburgh, 25th Mar 1689, his commission was confirmed by the Convention of the Scottish Estates. The task allotted to him in Scotland was anything but an easy one owing to the distracted state of the country, especially in the Highlands. Dundee raised the standard of King James and many of the Highland clans rallied round him, while some who pretended to support the Prince of Orange were secretly giving assistance to the other side. For the most part, the trained troops at Mackay's disposal were the regiments that accompanied him from Holland, but these were sadly depleted to stiffen the raw militia speedily raised, and the ranks of the old regiments had to be filled with young recruits lacking in military discipline.

Leaving most of the Dutch regiments behind him at Edinburgh to recruit, Mackay marched north in search of the enemy, and having placed a garrison in Dundee proceeded to Aberdeenshire, where he was joined by the Master of Forbes with about 600 men, who "were so ill armed and appeared so little like the work" that he decided to leave them in charge of that part of the country. Betimes Mackay reached Elgin with about 400 men, where he fortified himself, hearing that Dundee lay with a considerable army at Inverness. The northern people appeared to Mackay very indifferent to the great issue at stake.

The people in general were disposed to submit and embrace the party which they judged most like to carry it, their zeal for the preservation of their goods going by them, far beyond the consideration of religion and liberty, which he attributed to their gross ignorance occasioned by the negligence of their ministers, as well as the large extent of their parishes. [Mackay's Memoirs]

The only men that immediately joined him were his own clansmen, to the number of about 300, and a few Rosses. The officers in command of the Mackays appear to have been the Hon. Robert Mackay, afterwards wounded at Killicrankie; Angus Mackay of Ribigill, killed in the above battle; and Captain Hugh Mackay of Borley, afterwards Constable of Ruthven Castle. More the Mackays were not asked to send then - they sent 200 more shortly afterwards - nor did it seem judicious at that time to send more, owing to the unsettled state of some of their northern neighbours [Bannatyne Club]. On the west the Macleods of Assynt were for the Stuarts, and on the east Sinclair of "Dunbeth with two hundred hors and eight hundred foot is said to be endeavouring to join us", wrote Claverhouse. We are not aware that Dunbeath ever managed to carry out his intention of joining, but as the embers of the late feud with the Sinclairs were still hot, the Mackays had very good cause to keep a strong force watching the Druimholstein hills. To the south the Sutherlands were favourable to the Prince of Orange and did eventually join Mackay, but meantime they were loth to move. With Mackay, Sutherland, Ross, and Munro pulling together, the Sinclairs were isolated in a corner and could do nothing, unless Dundee should come north, which he never did.

At length Mackay set out from Inverness taking 200 of the Mackays along with him, and reaching Ruthven Castle, near Kingussie, made the alarming discovery that his own cavalry was in disloyal correspondence with an overwhelming force of the enemy in the neighbourhood. Placing the disaffected dragoons in the centre, carefully covered by "200 brisk Highlanders of the Lord Raes and Balnagowns men", he made a forced march in the night time towards the north-east and effected a safe junction with much needed reinforcements. His nerve and strategy at this critical juncture were most conspicuous, but he probably owed his safety to the clannish faithfulness of the "brisk Highlanders". A little later in Aberdeenshire a battle seemed imminent, but the opposing Highlanders melted away without coming to grips. After various marches in search of an enemy continually eluding him in consequence of its nimbleness, Mackay came to the conclusion that the only successful method of coping with the situation was to plant garrisons in central positions, and urged the same upon the authorities.

Meantime Mackay, however, had a sharp fall. He set out northwards for Blair Castle with the intention of occupying and fortifying it, and by the way had to negotiate the pass of Killicrankie. Joined by Lord Murray, he pushed on through the dangerous defile, and on reaching Raon-Rorie, a plateau about the middle of the pass, made the alarming discovery that a strong force of hostile Highlanders were posted on the heights above him. To fall back through the narrow gorge was to court destruction, and to advance seemed impossible. On the plateau he disposed his force as best he could and waited the attack, which came in the evening. In such a situation steady troops were a necessity to resist an impetuous onset, and Mackay had not that.

The Highland method of charging was to rush on, discharge their muskets in one wild, ragged volley, then throw them away and to it with the slashing broadswords. [Footnote: "They attack barefooted, without clothing but their shirts and a little Highland doublet whereby they are certain to outrun any foot … They come on slowly till they be within distance of firing… . When their fire is over, they throw away their firelocks, and every one drawing a long sword… . they fall a running toward the enemy ": - Mackay's Memoirs]

These were the tactics pursued at Killicrankie. Mackay's men were armed with the musket and bayonet, and at that time the latter could only be screwed into the muzzle of the former after the piece was discharged. In other words the musket could not be fired with the bayonet fixed, it had to be fixed after the discharge. When the Highlanders came on Mackay's men received them with a volley which killed Dundee, but the enemy got among them with the sword before they were able to fix their bayonets, with consequences that may be imagined. Like a summer water-spout bursting on a smooth mountain side the rushing Highlanders swept a great hole through Mackay 's line; what did not fall went reeling and swirling over the edge into the gorge, where lay the baggage, friend and foe all in a heap. Lieutenant-Colonel James Mackay, brother of the general, fell mortally wounded, the same fate befell Captain Angus Mackay of Ribigill and many more. Captain the Hon. Robert Mackay received eight sword cuts, some on the head, but lifted on to a horse he gallantly strove to rally his scattered men, and lived to fight another day. This battle took place on the 27th Jul 1689.

With the fall of Dundee the fruits of the victory were lost to the Highlanders, save only that they walked off with the baggage. The general retired to Stirling as best he could, and in a few days receiving reinforcements doubled back to Perth, where he fell upon a body of the enemy, killing 120 and taking 30 prisoners. Still a few days later a regiment of Cameronians, having been surrounded by a large force of Jacobites under General Canon at Dunkeld, beat off their foes after a two days' fight. These two blows so disheartened the Highlanders that they lost confidence in Canon. Throughout the remainder of the year, until winter put a stop to field operations, Mackay in vain sought to get to grips with the elusive enemy.

Convinced that Cromwell's method of planting garrisons in central positions was the only sure way of restoring peace in the Highlands, he urged the matter upon the attention of the authorities at Edinburgh, but owing to miserable intrigues and divisions his advice was not followed up. The political chicanery to which Mackay was subjected made him very indignant [Mackay's Memoirs].

"All these considerations", he says, "made the General look upon Scotsmen of those times in general as void of zeal for their religion and natural affection, seeing all men bent after their particular advantages, and none minding sincerely and self denyedly the common good, which gave him a real distaste of the country and service; resolving from that time forward to disengage himself out of it as soon as possible he could get it done, and that the service could allow of."

As soon as the field was open in the spring of 1690, active operations were resumed. About the middle of April, Sir T. Livingston with 300 of his own dragoons, 400 of Leslie's, a company of "100 brisk Highlanders of Lord Rea's men", and six companies of Grants, making "in all about 1200 choise men", marched out of Inverness .towards the east. On the evening of the 1st May they learned that the Jacobite army lay encamped on the haughs of Cromdale, and made dispositions for a surprise attack as the only way of getting to close quarters with the vanishing enemy. Livingston, "having past his Highland company before him", followed with three troops of his own dragoons, afterwards known as the Scots Greys, and crossing a stream came in sight of the enemy. His object now was to get between the enemy and the foothills, towards which he feared they would fly. Off went the dragoons at the gallop, and off went the Strathnaver men too. It was a race of man and horse, "wherein the Highland company outrun his horse" and got between the enemy and the hills. Of the enemy 400 men were killed or taken prisoner, and the rest were forced to flee. The smart fight at Cromdale fairly broke the back of the resistance.

By writing directly to King William himself, Mackay was enabled to carry his point with regard to the garrisons. He immediately set to and built a stronghold at Inverlochy, which he dubbed Fort William out of compliment to the king, placing within it 1000 men provisioned "with 2000 bolls of meal, 30 hogsheads of aquavitae, and 60 fat cows". The quantity of whisky stored at Fort William seems to indicate that the soldiers of these times drank deeply. Of other luxuries, however, they had very little beyond oatmeal and some beef. Mackay then fortified Ruthven Castle and left it in charge of 100 Stratlmaver men, under Captain Hugh Mackay of Borley. Parties of Sutherlands, Mackays, Grants, and Rosses, he placed in Inverness, Urquhart Castle, Ercles Castle in Strathglass and Brahan Castle near Dingwall, while three frigates scoured the Western Isles. In this way Mackay effectually pacified the Highlands for the time being.

The civil war in Ireland proceeding apace, King William ordered General Mackay with the best of his Scots troops to reinforce General Ginkle. Soon after his arrival beyond the Irish Channel he greatly distinguished himself at the seige of Athlone, 30th Jun 1691, by fording the swollen waters of the Shannon in face of a hot fire and charging up to and over the enemy's trenches, carrying consternation before him. This is acknowledged to be the most brilliant feat of arms in that campaign, while his prompt and intrepid march to the assistance of a division of the army overpowered at Aughrim turned the scale of victory in favour of the British. It was in consequence of these victories, in which Mackay played such a conspicuous part, that General Ginkle, Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Ireland, was created Viscount Aughrim and Earl of Athlone. There is every reason to believe that General Mackay would have been suitably rewarded for these splendid achievements were it not for his untimely death the following year on the battlefield, as this extract from the Proceedings of the Estates of Scotland, preserved in the Advocates' Library, shows: -

"General Mackay, it is said, is to be made earl of the same title his father had before as a private gentleman."

On the conclusion of the war in Ireland, General Mackay returned to Holland with his Scots Brigade and took part in the bloody battle of Steinkirk, 3rd Aug 1692, where he fell mortally wounded. He was ordered by Count Solmes, the senior officer that day, to make an assault which Mackay saw could only end in disaster, but after remonstrating in vain he intrepidly advanced to the attack, exclaiming "the will of God be done". On that fateful day General Mackay and 3000 of his gallant men fell, covered with glory though not crowned with victory. Among the slain were the young Earl of Angus and Sir Robert Douglas of Glenbervie. Count Solmes, in consequence of his melancholy blunder that day, was forbidden the royal presence henceforth. General Mackay throughout his warlike career manifested a depth of piety and a purity of character, which well matched his military skill and dauntless courage, as Bishop Burnett, a contemporary, abundantly testifies.

[For further particulars the reader should consult Mackay's Memoirs, and his Life by John Mackay of Rockfield]

Shortly after the death of his grandfather, Sir George Munro of Culrain, in 1693 or the following year, the young Lord Reay passed over to Holland where his two uncles, Æneas and Robert Mackay, were on service, the one a Lieutenant-General and the other a Colonel. Here his Lordship finished his education, and from thence did not permanently return to Strathnaver until 1701. So long as his uncles lived they did not spare themselves in promoting the interests of the head of their family, but the one uncle died in Dec 1696, and the other the following year. On the 20th Jul 1697, Lord Reay writes from Bommel to Lord Tarbet as follows:

"The removal of my uncles lies very severe upon me, especially Colonel Æneas', whose care for me in my education was in every manner fatherly, that his death is like to defeat the hopes I had of doing any service to my family - my education being the only way I proposed to myself, by which I could be rendered capable of doing anything to retrieve the losses of my family or serve my country; being willing to sacrifice my repose, how soon I was capable, for the rest of my days, to these two. What may become of me or it now, providence alone can determine, upon whom only I depend for a true solace; nor would I neglect the means, so long as I could perceive any probability of succeeding … I shall now only entreat that your Lordship may be pleased to continue your wonted goodness and friendship for me, and to make interest with His Majesty and his ministers to consider the circumstances of a family that has suffered so severely in his service." [Cromartie Book]

Pious phrases were common in those days, but his Lordship's resolution to rely on God's providence was a marked feature of his life.

At this time, a strong stream of Strathnaver men must have flowed abroad as soldiers of fortune. For more than a generation thereafter the great number of officers witnessing wadsets, tacks, contracts, bonds, etc., preserved among the Reay Papers, is conclusive proof of the above assertion. The favourite field of service was Holland, but in 1698 not a few joined in the ill-starred Darien expedition, which was intended to found the trading colony of New Caledonia, on the isthmus of Panama, and for which about half a million of money was raised in Scotland. As at that time free trade between England and Scotland did not exist, the jealousy and passive hostility of the former eventually ruined a scheme in which the latter lost not only its money, but sacrificed the lives of 4000 brave men. On the inception of the company, a young Edinburgh lawyer, Donald Mackay, son of Captain William of Borley, joined it in a military capacity, having raised a hundred of his clansmen to that end. The Blackcastle MS. records as follows: -

"He raised a company of men for the service of the colony and was elected one of the council for managing the company's affairs. On 17th Jul 1698, he sailed with the fleet from Leith and arrived at the Isthmus of Darien, 28th Sep the same year. The council having landed took possession of the colony under the name of Caledonia, and fixed their residence at New Edinburgh, 1st Jan 1699. Captain Mackay was soon thereafter appointed to return to Britain with an address on the occasion to His Majesty, King William III. He arrived in London the beginning of Aug 1699, and in Edinburgh the 28th of the same month, when he was presented with the freedom of the city.

On the 21st Sep 1699, he again took his departure for the colony on board the ship called the Rising Sun. The ship having run short of water and provisions, put ashore at the island of Montserrat for a fresh supply, 9th Nov 1699, when to their great astonishment they were informed by the Governor that he had received instructions from the English Government desiring him not to hold any intercourse with the colony. Upon which the ship sailed for St Cristopher and met with a similar refusal. They afterwards touched at Port Royal, Jamaica, 13th Feb 1700, and weie informed that Sir William Beatson, the Governor, had issued a proclamation strictly prohibiting all persons, under any pretence whatever, from holding any correspondence with the Scots Settlement of Darien, or to give any assistance with arms, ammunition, provisions, etc. In consequence of which the vessel was obliged to sail again without any supply, and being reduced to the greatest want the men were endeavouring to catch fish, when they perceived a large shark following the ship. Captain Mackay, being a strong athletic man, took a harpoon which he threw and stuck fast in the body of the fish, but unfortunately not attending to have the rope attached to the harpoon sufficiently long and free it got entangled around his arm, by which he was in a moment pulled overboard and drowned."

Captain Mackay on this second expedition was joined by his cousin, Donald Mackay, an Aberach, at the head of another company of Strathnaver men, who almost all died miserably on the voyage out, of hunger and disease.

During Lord Reay's absence in Holland the Sheriff-Depute of Strathnaver was George Munro, who "was chocked in his own barley", as his Lordship remarks incidentally in a document dated 1719. We suspect that Munro came by his untimely death about 1701, as the last document of the Reay Papers signed by him is dated 1700. His tombstone in Farr Churchyard, blazoned with the Munro arms and showing his initials, does not carry a decipherable date. In local tradition he is known as Fear Stra-Nuadhar, the man of Strath-Novar, and the traditional account of his death, which we give for what it is worth, is as follows. Munro, who lived at Rifail, in the Naver valley, made a very liberal use of the gallows in his administration of justice. Naturally this did not please the lieges, and matters came to a crisis when he hung an Aberach boy, found in possession of a salmon, on Cnoc na Croich, Hill of the Gallows, above Bettyhill. The Aberachs sullenly vowed vengeance and bided their time.

Not long after this Stra-Nuadhar suspected that corn was being stolen out of his barn at Rifail, and appointed a strapping Aberach to watch the premises during the night. Some of the barley corn was stored in builg, skin-sacks, and the rest gathered in a great unwinnowed heap in a corner of the building. Things were quiet at the barn for a few nights after the watch had been set, but at length movements were heard at the back door as of one stealthily endeavouring to steal in. The guard snored feigning sleep, and the would be burglar thus encouraged crept in and began to lug away one of the builg. In an instant the watchman seized the intruder, and lifting him off the ground thrust him head foremost into the heap of barley. The victim struggled vigorously for a time, but the Aberach grimly held on, and having effectually smothered his prisoner, sat on the body and awaited the break of day. When the morning brought relief to the guard the dead man was found to be none other than the sheriff-depute himself! It is likely that Munro entered the barn to test the faithfulness of his watchman, or he may have been inveigled in; but be that as it may, the feeling throughout Strathnaver was that some hangings were now avenged.

In the autumn of 1702 Reay passed over to Holland, and in December entered into a contract of marriage, at Bomell in Guelderland, with Margaret, daughter of General Hugh Mackay of Scoury [Reay Papers]. As the general's family was domiciled in Holland and had an estate there, the lands of Edderachilis and Scoury were given in dowry to Lord Reay by disposition, dated at Bomell, 24th Feb 1703. This was a large and valuable addition to the Reay estate, which his Lordship endeavoured to still further increase by the purchase if possible of the lands of Sandside, in Caithness. Reay writes from Bomell, 3rd Jan 1703, to Viscount Tarbet, Secretary of State: -

"I gave Lord Seafield the trouble of getting me a gift of recognition of the lands of Sandside, and am informed your Lordship stopped it on Duren's account. I assured your Lordship at Edinburgh that I had no design against Duren any manner of way, which Sir George Sinclair knows very well, but against Sandside; and I expect your Lordship will be pleased to get me the said signater past, and send it to Mr. James, your son: and if I don't satisfy him fully on that head, I shant desire it. My Lord, the only reason I ask this gift for is, to be my security in case I buy any debts against that estate; for if any other should get it afterwards, my right will prove null." [Cromartie Book]

Tarbet, who was bitterly hostile to General Hugh Mackay of Scoury, as the Memoirs of the said general show, did nothing to further Reay's project regarding Sandside, which thus failed. But the above serves to show how keenly Reay was set upon the re-establishment of his house.

Although the Highlands were subdued in 1690 by General Mackay 's policy of forts and blockhouses, such as had embarked their all and lost severely in support of the Stuart cause continued their adherence, gambler-like hugging the hope that by rooting themselves to the same old table their lost fortunes might be recovered. These thorough-paced Jacobites endeavoured to fan the flame of national discord wherever it made its appearance, and they were not without opportunities. The haughty, silent bearing of King William during the Darien trouble raised a fierce spirit of resentment throughout Scotland, and the union of the Parliaments of England and Scotland in 1707 was bitterly received by many in the northern part of the island who had fought against the Jacobites. The Cameronian Covenanters of the west loathed the union, because of their hatred of Prelacy, from which they had suffered so much. So excited did they become that some of them took up arms, and for a time wandered about aimlessly in search of a victim whereupon to wreak their vengeance. When they discovered that this was playing into the hands of the Jacobites they stopped, inwardly groaning.

Before the two countries had time to settle down under one Parliament, Queen Ann died, 1st Aug 1714, leaving no issue. The crown passed once more to a foreign-born descendant of the Scottish kings, George I, a Hanoverian, and great-grandson of James VI, who was chosen because he happened to be a Protestant. Ignorant of British politics and methods of government, the new king did not act with sufficient prudence at the beginning. Looking upon the responsible officials of the late queen as hostile, he showed them scant ceremony, curtly dismissing the Earl of Mar, Secretary of State for Scotland. The proud and powerful earl threw himself into the arms of the rejoicing Jacobites, and though he remained at Court for about a twelvemonth thereafter, was in secret correspondence with the Chevalier de St. George. In Aug 1715, Mar suddenly set out for the north, and on pretence of holding a hunting expedition in the forest of Mar dispatched invitations to the northern Jacobite leaders, who mustered in considerable strength. The usual lavish promises of French aid in men, money, and arms made such an impression upon the excited Highland imagination, that the Chevalier was proclaimed King James VIII, and his standard flung to the winds.

The plan of campaign was to capture Edinburgh, and then push on south into England; but the Government acted rapidly, and Mar did not. The charge of the south of Scotland was put into the hands of a very capable man, the Earl of Argyle, who fastened on Stirling Bridge to bar Mar's march southward, while he used the utmost expedition to raise more men and means. The Earl of Sutherland, another capable man who had served in the Flanders War, was appointed Lord Lieutenant of the six northern counties of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Cromarty, Inverness, Nairn, and Moray, with a commission to raise all the fencible men within these shires who could be got to serve the Government of King George. The Earl of Sutherland, who happened to be in London at the time, starting for the north and reaching Dunrobin Castle by boat on the 28th September, put his commission of Lieutenancy into immediate execution. From Caithnessshire the earl got no assistance, so far as we are aware. The wily Glenorchy, who had much power in Caithness then, like his clansman of Breadalbane hung off to see which side came out on the top. But Lord Reay, Ross of Balnagown, Munro of Fowlis, Forbes of Culloden, and Grant of Strathspey heartily responded to the Earl of Sutherland's call.

[Footnote: Glenorchy and Breadalbane were but different designations of one and the same person, for in 1681 Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy was created Earl of Breadalbane. During the rebellion of 1715, after a good deal of double dealing, he sent 500 men to join the Chevalier, and dying soon after escaped punishment (Scots Peerage, Vol II., pp. 203-4)]

In the far north the perplexing problem for a time was the attitude of the young and hotheaded Seaforth. His mother, his countess, and some of his other relatives did their best to restrain him, but all in vain. Seaforth was too weak to resist the blandishments of the Mar emissaries, who puffed him up by the prospect of rivalling the fame of Dundee or Montrose in the former risings. Now that Seaforth had openly cast in his lot with the Jacobites in arms, it became of the utmost importance to prevent him from joining Mar as long as possible, and thus stop a rush to the south before Argyle was ready to give battle. Till Seaforth with the Mackenzies, the Macdonalds of Clanranald, the Macleods of Lewis, the Mackinnons, the Macraes, Frasers, etc. came south, Mar would not venture to advance, however much he may have fretted at the delay.

The Earl of Sutherland grasped the situation and acted with promptitude. Within a week after his arrival at Dunrobin he set out for Tain, with 400 of his tenants, where he found Reay with 500 Mackays, and Balnagown with 200 Rosses awaiting him - they had no arms for more men even though they had more time to assemble them. Of the Mackays the man with most military experience was Captain Hugh of Borley, Constable of Ruthven Castle during the rising under Dundee. The force which mustered at Tain, however, was very badly equipped, as the vessel which was chartered to bring arms and ammunition fell into the hands of one of the lieutenants of Macintosh of Borlum, at Burntisland [Patten's History]. Many had no muskets, and some were only armed with rude pikes in the shape of poles pointed with an iron head. But they pushed on to Alness as they were, for it was necessary to threaten the Seaforth lands in order to delay the southward march of the Mackenzies. At Alness, where they entrenched, they were joined by the Munros and obtained possession of six small cannon dispatched from a frigate lying in Cromarty Firth. The combined forces under Sutherland posted at Alness numbered about 1800 men.

As soon as Seaforth was joined at Brahan Castle by Sir Donald Macdonald with about 700 men, he set out for Alness with about 3000 men, 500 of whom were horsemen, reaching the latter place early on the morning of Monday, 10th Oct, to find that Sutherland had retired the proceeding day. Sutherland fearing a turning movement by Seaforth 's cavalry sped back to Tain, and gathering all the boats on the south side of Dornoch Firth ferried his force over to the further side. Of course, Seaforth in his account of the campaign makes merry over the retreat of the northmen, and they have been severely lampooned in the Gaelic song Caberfeidh, in praise of the Mackenzies; but the retreat was a clever piece of strategy [Seaforth MSS. in British Museum]. To manoeuvre an ill-trained and half-armed host of Highlanders in retreat, without confusion or material loss, showed marked military ability. And that is what was done at Alness. Not one of the six cannon was lost; every one was safely restored to the frigate at Cromarty, on Seaforth 's own showing. Again, every available boat on the Tain side of Dornoch Firth was promptly secured and brought to the north side, so that the enemy could not follow. This proves that there was no panic.

Aeneas Sage, afterwards minister of Lochcarron, who was in the Royalist camp at Alness on the morning of the retreat, meeting Lord Reay expressed his sorrow at the idea of retiring without coming to blows. "What you say young man may be true", replied the sagacious nobleman; "but is it not better to make a wise retreat than a foolish engagement ?" [Memorabilia Domestica] Nobly spoken ! The advance to Alness having served its purpose in detaining Seaforth, the wisest and most humane course now was to retire, in order that the men might be properly armed, as they were shortly afterwards. We shall soon see Seaforth in retreat, and the northmen with proper arms in their hands clamouring for a battle which he refuses to abide. Such is war !

[Footnote: A modern writer, D. Murray-Rose, referring to the Alness retreat, permits himself to describe Lord Reay, as one "who, in turning his back upon the foe, followed the hereditary custom in his family". If this be not prejudice gone mad, we do not know what to call it !]

Seaforth now set free sped south, and leaving a garrison at Inverness hastened to join Mar. With their united forces they gave battle to Argyle at Sheriffnmir, 14th Nov, and failed in their object. Very soon thereafter Seaforth sped backwards; but meantime Forbes of Culloden, Grant, and Lovat captured Inverness, and were joined by Sutherland and Mackay. When the crest-fallen Seaforth approached Inverness, 200 Sutherlands, 150 Mackays, 300 Grants, 150 Munros, and 50 of Culloden's men set out to give him battle, 26 Dec, as it was reported that he intended to recapture that town. But Seaforth avoided them and made his way back to Brahan, while the pursuing force halted at Castle Downie, near Beauly, until Sutherland himself came up with more troops. Then crossing the Beauly water on the ice with about 1600 men, they were met by messengers from the Dowager Lady Seaforth promising the submission of her son. Seaforth, however, did not submit, he passed over to the Lews and made his way to France. To France also fled Mar and some of the other Jacobite leaders.

As the country was in a very unsettled state, the Mackays, Sutherlands, and some of the other loyal clans, remained for a considerable time under arms holding the discontented in check. Some of the Mackays proceeded to Badenoch, others were quartered at Fort Augustus, and one company under Ensign Hugh Mackay garrisoned Brahan Castle. [Footnote: For our account of the Mar rebellion we are indebted to the Earl of Sutherland's account of his campaign in the Sutherland Book, the Seaforth MSS., and the Lovat MSS.]

In 1718 war broke out between Britain and Spain of which the Jacobites made use, or rather in which tools were made of them. Cardinal Alberoni, the Spanish minister, endeavoured to make a diversion by dispatching a force to Scotland, which landed at Lochalsh, in the west of Ross, toward the close of Apr 1719. The Spaniards were joined by Clanranald, Lochiel, Mackinnon, Chisholm, and Seaforth with a considerable body of men, but the rising was soon crushed. On the 4th Jun, Ensign Hugh Mackay, in charge of the garrison at Brahan, was ordered to join General Wightman at Inverness, with "80 of his best men". On the 8th, General Wightman passed Fort Augustus with about 1600 men, and on the 10th Jun completely defeated the rebels at Glensheil, capturing most of the Spaniards.

In the battle of Glenshiel the Mackays and Sutherlands, who were posted on the right wing as the plan of battle shows, pushed up the steep mountain side in grand style notwithstanding the hot fire of the enemy [Scot. Hist. Soc. Vol 10]. Lord Strathnaver writes General Wightman, 13th Jun, congratulating him on "so glorious an action", and proceeds to say how pleased he was to hear that the Sutherlandshire militia had done their duty. Thereafter "his Lordship wrote several letters in favour of Ensign Hugh Mackay", who seems to have particularly distinguished himself that day. [Sutherland Book]

[Footnote: Hugh Mackay, son of the Hon. Charles of Sandwood, afterwards got a commission in General Oglethorpe's regiment, and rose to the rank of major. He acted on the staff of General Oglethorpe during the Spanish invasion of Georgia in 1742, and during the rising of '45 was very serviceable in organising the men of Sutherland and Strathnaver.]

The religious progress and condition of Strathnaver now demands our attention. Up to the Reformation the countries of Strathnaver, Sutherland, and Caithness formed one diocese, and from that date up to the Revolution Settlement in 1688 continued to be one ecclesiastical unit, alternately Presbyterian and Prelatic in accordance with the well known see-saw supremacy of bishop and presbyter. Not long after 1688, the country of Sutherland was disjoined into a separate Presbytery; but Caithness and Strathnaver remained united until 1725, when the latter was erected into the Presbytery of Tongue, very much through the influence of Lord Reay. For more than one hundred years after the Reformation, religion seems to have been very much at a discount throughout Strathnaver, which in this respect resembled many another district in the Highlands. But in 1688 the strong Protestant Presbyterianism of General Hugh Mackay of Scoury, imbibed in Holland, began to tell upon his countrymen, and thenceforward with growing enthusiasm they continued to adhere to that form of religion. The impulse given by the general was reinforced later on by his Lordship, whose early education in a pronouncedly religious family, in Holland, told effectually. So greatly changed did the people become, that in 1750, two years after his Lordship's death, a Government official or spy reported: -

"The common people of the McKays are the most religious of all the tribes that dwell among the mountains, south or north … Of old, they were reckon'd the most barbarous and wicked of all the clans; but they were effectually civiliz'd in the time of the late Lord Reae, to which Lieutenant General Mackay, a man of eminent virtue and merit, contributed not a little … The McKays abhor thieving" [The Highlands of Scotland in 1750].

The Mackays did not abhor thieving once upon a time; three generations earlier they were adepts at the business of "lifting," but the influence of one good man in a long life-time brought about this great improvement.

[Footnote: About the middle of the Naver valley, and leading to the east, there is a pass called Bealach nan Creach, Pass of Spoils, equally suitable for a raid upon Sutherland or Caithness. Bealach nam Mearlach, Pass of Thieves, some distance further up the valley, opens in the direction of the Machair of Sutherland only, and consequently was not such a favourite. The old time freebooting proclivities of the Strathuaver man are crystallized in his own pithy Gaelic proverb: -

"Thar gach bealach - Bealach nan Creach."
Best of passes - the Pass of Spoils.]

Sage in Memorabilia Domestica informs us that at the settlement of the Revd. John Mackay, minister at Lairg, in 1714, "the inhabitants were plunged in ignorance and superstition … the churchyard, even on the Sabbath, often exhibited scenes of violence and bloodshed". His account of the parishes of Lochcarron and Reay, the one in Ross and the other in Caithness, is drawn with an equally lurid pen, but we must recollect that Sage was not a contemporary. In a notarial copy, however, of the marriage settlement of William, Lord Strathnaver, and Catherine Morrison, 4th Oct 1705, preserved among the Reay Papers, one item of provision was: - "All and hail the free burgh of barony of Inverbrora, with ane weekly merket upon the sabbath day, and four fairs yearly". If we may understand this to mean that a merket was held at Brora every Lord's Day, and we do not know what other meaning to attach to it, the situation in 1750 indicated nothing less than a social revolution as contrasted with that in 1705.

In 1719, Lord Reay, who was an elder of the Kirk, applied to the General Assembly for assistance to furnish his people with clergymen and schoolmasters, as the teinds were exhausted. His proposal was to divide the large parish of Durness into three parishes, viz., Tongue, Durness, and Ederachilis, to provide each of these parishes with a minister and a schoolmaster, to settle an unordained minister at Achness in the parish of Farr, and to erect the various parishes of Strathnaver into a separate Presbytery.

The Assembly cordially received his proposal, but did nothing that year, so far as we know. Meantime his Lordship was not idle; he took up the matter with enthusiasm and wrote to several like-minded people for support. The following letter, dated 16th Mar 1721, from the Revd. D. MacKilligan, minister of Alness, and chaplain to the Lords of Sutherland and Reay during the Mar rebellion, is a specimen of some of the replies which he got.

"My Lord: - The proposition you have in view is so necessary, so pious, and altogether worthy of yourself, that I am persuaded it will meet with all due encouragement from every good man. I am very certain that not only our Presbytery, but likewise the whole Synod will use the utmost diligence for making it effectual. Mr. Stuart of Inverness is with me at writing of this, and offers your Lordship his congratulations with his services." [Reay Papers]

At the meeting of the General Assembly in May 1721, the various congregations of the Kirk throughout Scotland were recommended to make a collection towards the erection of the new parishes in Strathnaver, and for this end a sum of 26000 merks was raised before the Assembly met in 1724. At this latter meeting the thanks [Appendix No 50] of the Church were conveyed to his Lordship in very warm terms by the Moderator, the Revd. William Wishart.

When the Assembly met in 1725, authority was given to erect the Presbytery of Tongue, which was accordingly done. At the same time, the Moderator, the Revd. J. Alston, was instructed to congratulate his Lordship in name of the Kirk, and wrote as follows: -

"My Lord, for such great and good services all that love our Lord Jesus Christ, whether ministers or christians, will surely honour your Lordship's name and keep it in perpetual remembrance, as far as the knowledge of what you have done can spread. And the blessing of many souls that are now ready to perish will be upon your Lordship and your family etc." [Reay Papers]

For the new erections his Lordship not only gave free sites and glebes, but out of his own pocket made good a deficiency of £1280 Scots, which was incurred in extra building. A full and very interesting account of expenditure in connection with these buildings is preserved in the Reay Papers. It appears that there were, both at Tongue and at Durness, an old church and manse roofed with divot, but the new buildings were roofed with slate. The new buildings at Ederachilis, however, were roofed with divot and heather. The wages of a labourer or "piner" was at the rate of "1/ and 2 pecks meal, weekly, with 2/ to buy shoes, 1 ye boll of meal at ye rate of £6 Scots". The masons were paid at the rate of "3s. and 2 pecks meal and 6¼d. worth of cheese, weekly". Each church was provided with "a sand-glass and baptism font at 7s. 6d." An item at Ederachilis was "to thatching ye kirk with heather and ye manse with divot and fern, £1." The stipends of the new erected charges were as follows: - at Tongue £48 8s. 10d.; at Durness £42 16s. 8d.; at Ederachilis £43 10s.
[Footnote: The allowance for shoes, which is constantly made to labourers, would seem to indicate that the common people went barefoot for the most part. The same was true in other parts of the Highlands at that period].

It has often been observed that when the energies of a strong people are directed into a religious channel, at a certain stage of civilization, they run into excess unless properly guided. This proved to be the case in Strathnaver. The forced settlement at Farr, in 1734, of the Revd. John Skeldoch was vehemently opposed by a considerable body of the parishoners, who broke away from his ministrations. Their chief objection to him was excessive worldliness, which seems to have increased after his settlement among them. At anyrate, so dissatisfied did many of the people become that they absented themselves from Church ordinances, and instituted fellowship meetings throughout the parish.

[Footnote: During the ministry of Mr. Skeldoch, which lasted until his death in 1753, the religious interests of the parish of Farr suffered severely, as the Records of Presbytery show. He became tacksman of Syre, Ravigill, Borgybeg, the Water of Borgy, etc., rackrenting his sub-tenants so notoriously, that in 1748 he was suspended by the Synod after a prolonged Presbyterial dealing. The heritors of the parish, the Earl of Sutherland and Mackay of Strathy, countenanced him too long.
Mr. Skeldoch, who was minister at Kilmonivag, near Fort William, before his translation to Farr, did not enjoy a bed of roses in Lochaber either. In 1725, he took a derelict farm near Fort William, but "the former possessor lay still till the minister had stocked the farm with cattle, and built a house on it, then with some other rogues went to the place where the calves were kept, and with their durks cut off their heads … But finding that this did not force the minister to leave the place, they waited an opportunity of his being from home when a company of them went well-armed, surrounded his house, pulled down a part of it, and fired several shots towards the bed where his wife lay".: - The Highlands of Scotland in 1750.]

A leader of the disaffected party in the heights of the parish was Robert Mackay, tacksman of Halmadary, and grandson of the Covenanting lady, Mrs. Fearn of Pitcalion, who during the killing-times fled to Strathnaver, as already recorded in this memoir. Halmadary statedly assembled the people at his own house and taught them, but under his frenzied exhortations, based upon figurative and fanciful interpretations of Scripture, they grew insanely fanatical. The people met on a certain day, were addressed by Halmadary on Abraham's intended sacrifice of Isaac - a favourite theme of his - when preacher and hearers became so excited that it was seriously decided to sacrifice the tacksman's infant son, there and then, at his father's fireside. An altar of wood was built on the hearth and the child was being prepared for immolation, when opportunely a travelling merchant called at the house, and, by his strongly expressed abhorrence of their intended deed, broke the spell. Those present fled to their homes in shame; and to this day that meeting is spoken of throughout the north of Sutherland with bated breath, as Tuiteam Halmadairi, Lapse of Halmadary. This happened about 1740, and is incidentally referred to in a minute of Presbytery, dated 2nd Mar 1749, as the "melancholy scene that happened several years ago in one of these unauthorised meetings at Halmadary".
[Footnote: We understand that such a sacrifice was actually offered up in Germany, during the excesses of the Peasants' War, and shortly after the Lutheran Reformation.]

For some years before the rebellion of 1745, there was a coolness between the families of Sutherland and Reay. In 1737 they disputed about the estate marches in the neighbourhood of Ben Hee, and though the matter was submitted to arbitration the arrangement broke down. This disagreement led to political rivalry as to the Parliamentary representation of the county, during which Sutherland and Reay created faggot voters not a few. The political warfare raged from 1741 to 1744, but when the thunderclouds of civil war began to gather in '45, Lord Reay, who had already lived through three such national convulsions, realising the imperative necessity of united action on the part of those who were friendly to the existing Government, made fraternal overtures to the Earl of Sutherland through his son, the Hon. George Mackay. On the 1st Jul 1745, Reay wrote [Appendix No 52] to the Earl of Sutherland: -

"I heartily wish that all our differences were buryed in oblivion, and to that end I have made some proposals which I think are equal and honourable, and for the real interest of your Lordship's family, as well as my own, and which my son George will lay before you whenever your Lordship pleases."

The proposal was a Bond of Friendship Appendix No 53, which Lord Reay signed on the 18th and the Earl of Sutherland on the 26th Jul. The object of the Bond is set forth thus: -

"To secure our acting with mutual harmony and uniting the whole strength of both our families and adherents, so as to be able in any public danger to render the more considerable and effectual service to his present Majesty, King George the Second, for supporting the succession in the Protestant line of his most illustrious house, and for securing the present happy establishment in Church and State, and for defeating the designs of his Maj's. enemies both open and secret. We do for these and many other weighty considerations mutnallie agree, and by the sacred tie and pledge of our word and honour on both sides, Bind and oblige ourselves and our families and followers to each other."

From further correspondence, it seems that some of Sutherland's friends endeavoured to sow discord between the two families, for Reay writes on the 24th August: -

"I reckon the many letters your Lordship is pleased to acquaint me you get against your joining in friendship with me a double tye on me, to exert myself all in my power on every occasion to make you as easy as I can, to convince you of my sincerity and readyness to support your honour and interest, and thereby to show others how far they are mistaken, for your Lordship will still find me your best friend."
Reay proceeds, "I have followed your Lordship's example as to listing men, but without arms and amunition we can do very little." And he adds the postscript, "I hope your Lordship will reserve some powder and lead for me, for which I'll pay the value, and share with me when you get any arms. I'm informed this minute that Major Mackay [Riarchar] is called for to London. Your Lordship should write to the Duke of Argyle to get him returned to us, as he'l be very useful as matters go."

[Footnote: The author of The Highlands of Scotland in 1750 reports, "The pity is the present Earl [of Sutherland] should be so weak a man".]

[Footnote: "The Mackays are said to be a better militia than any of the neighbouring clans, for which this is assigned as a reason that several officers of this clan in the Dutch service obtained the Lord Reay's countenance to recruit in his country upon this express condition that they should return the men after being a certain number of years in the service, and take raw men in their room".: - The Highlands of Scotland in 1750]

From information which reached Lord Reay as to the movements of Macdonald of Barisdale, he dispatched a force to the head of Loch Shin in order to bar the pass, and urged the Earl of Sutherland to send them assistance. Reay also dispatched a force to guard the passes of Ederachilis, apprehensive of an attack from that quarter by the Mackenzies and the Macleods of Assint. As the Records of the Presbytery of Tongue show, the people of Assint were disaffected, and some years before the '45 Lady Assint was so strongly suspected of Papistical leanings that the Presbytery had once and again to deal with her.

Meantime Captain the Hon. Alexander Mackay, who had lost touch with Sir John Cope, struck off towards Aberdeen, took ship and reached his general just before the battle of Prestonpans, at which Mackay was taken prisoner but soon released on parole [Reay Papers]. While the Pretender lay at Edinburgh preparing for his advance into England, President Forbes was busy in the north organising the loyalists, and on the 8th Oct was joined by General Loudon, who assumed command of any troops that could be got together. At the request of President Forbes, both Sutherland and Reay sent levies to Loudon at Inverness, as also did Grant, Seaforth, Munro, etc., but this militia was by no means enthusiastic and desertions were common. Of Captain Gunn's company almost every man deserted, but Gunn's loyalty was suspected.

With these troops Loudon went as far as Fort Augustus, and returning apprehended, at Castle Downie, Simon, Lord Lovat, who had been playing a double game. A few days thereafter, on 12th Dec, Lieutenant William Mackay, whom we take to be Mackay of Melness, sent a graphic account of the capture of Lovat to the Earl of Sutherland [Sutherland Book Vol II page 93]. Before the close of December another company of Mackays, under Captain the Hon. George Maekay, started from Tongue for Inverness, as appears from an entry in the Records of the Presbytery of Tongue, dated 25th Dec. The contents of the letter which the Presbytery sent to Loudon by the hands of Captain Mackay are not recorded.

On the Pretender's return to Inverness after the failure of his expedition into England, General Loudon and President Forbes fell back towards the north, pursued by Lord George Murray, the Duke of Perth, the Earl of Cromartie, Barisdale, etc., who managed to get across Dornoch Firth and to capture Dunrobin Castle. Loudon and Forbes escaped to Skye, Sutherland in a fishing boat made his way aboard a frigate, and the militia fled to the hills. About the beginning of Apr 1746, Cromartie's son, Lord Macleod, by the orders of the Prince set out for Caithness, where he collected the revenues and endeavoured to raise recruits, his headquarters being Thurso. By his own account, Macleod had little success in his efforts to raise the Sinclairs - only one gentleman with about 30 ill-armed followers turned up at the place of muster, Spittal Hill. This gentleman was Sinclair of Scotscalder, whose estate was afterwards forfeited. [Cromartie Book]

The Sinclairs of Caithness, however, were strongly Jacobite, but the evident failure of the Pretender on his expedition to Derby damped their enthusiasm, and Cromartie's account may not be strictly accurate in consequence of his own failure. The author of The Highlands of Scotland in 1750 reports: -

That the Caithness men had "four or five hundred in readiness to join Sir James Stuart of Burrous, from the Orkneys … They were in arms about the middle of April but the news of the battle of Culloden spoilt their parade, and made them sneak home again … Besides it was discovered, that some of the Sinclairs had corresponded with disaffected persons at Edinburgh, two years before the rebellion broke out, and had not the lords Sutherland and Reae been in their way, they had in all likelyhood been out among the first of the rebels."

While Lord Macleod was at Thurso, in which there was, by the way, "a Jacobite meeting house till after the battle of Culloden", he was joined by the men of Lochbroom under the brother of Mackenzie of Ballone. Macleod made an attempt to invade Strathnaver by way of Drumholstein, but finding that the Mackays were prepared to contest the passage did not persist. The opposing party was probably under the command of the Hon. Hugh Mackay of Bighouse. Macleod then crossed the Ord and rejoined his father at Dunrobin.

While these things were going on, an event of prime importance took place in the neighbourhood of Tongue. The Hazard, a French ship carrying treasure for the Prince to the amount of 12,500 guineas, ran into the Kyle of Tongue pursued by a British frigate, on the evening of the 25th March. Through the night the crew and soldiers disembarked carrying the money, but next day Captain the Hon. George Mackay met them near Drum Nan Coup, and after a smart fight captured both men and treasure. The London Gazette of the 15th Apr 1746, reports as follows: -

"Aberdeen, April 6. Captain Mackay, Lord Reay's son, and Sir Henry Munro, son of the late Sir Robert, both Captains in Lord Loudon's regiment, are just come hither with letters from Captain O'Brian of The Sheerness man of war, now off this place, giving an account that after chasing the Hazard sloop (called by the French the Prince Charles now) above 56 leagues, he drove her ashore and obliged the French and Spaniards who were in her to quit her and to land, which they did with five chests of money to the value of £12,000 and upwards, in order to join the rebels; but the Lord Reay in whose country they were landed, and at whose house Captain Mackay, Sir Henry Munro, Lord [Captain] Charles Gordon, and Captain Macleod with some others of Lord Loudon's regiment were, with about 80 men of said regiment, who had been driven thither by the rebells, marched out and attacked them, and after killing three or four, and dangerously wounding eight, took the remaining 156, officers, soldiers, and sailors prisoners, who were immediately embarked on board the Sheerness, and the prize with the Highland officers and men who made the capture are now here … The money that was landed out of the Hazard sloop, was taken by Lord Reay's men."

Perhaps the most accurate account of this incident is that reported in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1746, and from which we give the following extract: -

"Edinburgh, April 9, 1746. Lord Reay who arrived at Leith yesterday gave the following account of the taking of the above ship [the Hazard]. On the 25th of March, the Hazard sloop was observed by Lord Reay and his people sailing up the Tongue bay, and was soon followed by Captain O'Brien in the Sheerness, who immediately attacked her. In the engagement the Hazard sloop had several men killed besides a good many wounded, and not being able to maintain the fight, she ran ashore at the shallows, where the Sheerness could not follow, and there landed her men and money. Lord Reay's son, with some other officers, gathered what men they could together, attacked those that had landed from the Hazard sloop, and after killing five of them, took the rest prisoners and seized the money, said to be 12,500 guineas; but one chest of it was amissing, and another broke. Lord Reay and his friends being apprehensive of a visit from the rebels, embarked with the treasure and prisoners, and arrived on Sunday night at Aberdeen with the Hazard sloop; and in passing the Orkneys Captain O'Brien brought the Boston ship that was treacherously seized by Captain Sinclair for the rebels."

[Footnote: It is locally believed that some of the gold was thrown by the discomfited Frenchmen into Loch Hakon before they surrendered, and undoubtedly pieces of French gold have been found from time to time along its shore, but we do not think that much of the treasure was lost in that way. The reader should also consult the traditional account of this affair as given in The House and Clan of Mackay.]

To the impoverished troops of the Prince, who lacked the bare necessaries of life on the eve of fateful battle, the loss of this money must have been a terrible blow. Had this gold come into their possession, Cumberland would have met on Culloden Moor a well-fed instead of a starving Highland army, and the issue of the conflict would probably have been different.

A few days before Culloden, Cromartie got orders to rejoin the Prince at Inverness with all his forces, but as he was marching towards the Little Ferry Ensign John Mackay with a handful of men intrepidly attacked him [Sutherland Book]. Mackay's boldness encouraged others of the Sutherland militia, who were in the hills near at hand, to take part in the affray, with the result that Cromartie was defeated and all his troops were either killed or captured. Mackay pistol in hand forced his way into Dunrobin Castle, into which Cromartie fled, and notwithstanding the efforts of the Countess of Sutherland, who was suspected of favouring the rebels and especially Cromartie, made a prisoner of the earl whom he found hiding under a bed.

[Footnote: Fight at the Little Ferry. This engagement took place on 15th Apr 1746, i.e., on the day before Culloden, as the following entry on the fly-leaf of a list of men of the Sutherland estate capable of bearing arms in 1745, lying at Dunrobin Castle, shows: - "Men guarding passes from Aug 1745, to 14th Feb 1746 (West). Men on duty from 15th Apr (day of attacking rebels) to 26th Aug 1746." ]

These two affairs, in which the Mackays played such an important part, the one at Tongue and the other at the Little Ferry, had more to do with the overthrow at Culloden than is generally realized. By the former the money supplies of the Prince were cut off, and by the latter much needed help in men was intercepted. The victor of the Little Ferry was Ensign John Mackay of Mudale, whose genealogy we give in our account of the Aberach Mackays. It must have been Mudale, for he was the only Mackay of the name of John who held the rank of Ensign during the '45, as the Reay Papers and Registers of Deeds show.

As has already been observed. Lord Reay proceeded to Leith on board the frigate Sheerness, and seems to have remained in the south until the following autumn. His letter [Appendix No 55] of 2nd Sep 1746, to a Government official anent the settlement of the Highlands after Culloden, is characteristic of the man. After suggesting various remedial measures, he urges upon the authorities the necessity of erecting new churches and of spreading the Gospel among the disaffected, for the efficacy of these civilizing means, he says, he proved in his own country. The well known couplet in Wyntoun's Chronicle,
"He illumynd in his dayis
The landys with kyrkis",
may with good reason be applied to his Lordship, for he devoted the last thirty years of his life to the fostering of religion and education, as the Records of Tongue Presbytery amply prove. And to this day his memory is revered among the people as Am Morair Mor, the great lord. A cultured gentleman and a Fellow of the Royal Society, Lord Reay died at Tongue on the 21st Mar 1748, and was laid to rest in the family vault within the church there.
He was thrice married. His first wife was Margaret (contract dated at Bomell, Holland, Dec 1702), daughter of General Hugh Mackay of Scoury, by whom he had one son: -

  1. Donald, 4th Lord Reay, of whom an account follows
His second wife was Janet, daughter of John Sinclair of Ulbster, Caithness, who bore him a son and a daughter: -

  1. Hugh Mackay of Bighouse, Lieutenant-Colonel of the first Sutherland regiment, married (contract 15 Jul 1728) Elizabeth, eldest daughter and co-heiress of George Mackay of Bighouse, and had sasine of the estate of Bighouse or Strathhalladale, 28th Feb 1742. In our account of the Bighouse Mackays we give further particulars.
  2. Ann, who died 24th Nov 1780, married John Watson of Muirehouse, Edinburghshire, contract dated 7th Sep 1725. Their issue was two sons and a daughter: -

    1. Robert Watson of Muirehouse, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 25th Foot, with whom he served in Germany. He became Deputy Quarter-Master-General of the Forces in North Britain, 1758; Aide-de-Camp to the king, 1768; and died a Lieutenant-General at Aberdeen, 10th May 1791.
    2. George Watson, Captain in the Royal Navy, died unmarried in 1771
    3. Janet Watson, married (4th Apr 1750) Alexander Rocheid of Inverleith, Edinburgh, and of Darnchester in Berwick. They had three children: -
      James Rocheid of Inverleith, died 1823; John Rocheid, an officer in the Scots Greys, died unmarried in 1779; and Mary Rocheid, died unmarried, 1776.
Lord Reay married, thirdly, Mary (contract 28th Mar 1718), daughter of John Dowell, W.S., Edinburgh, and by her had two sons and four daughters: -

  1. George Mackay, an advocate, who inherited Skibo from his maternal uncle, Patrick Doull of Winterfield - Doull had sasine of Skibo, 28th Sep 1744. Mackay took an active part in putting down the rebellion of the '45, was elected M.P. for the county of Sutherland in 1747, and again in 1754. He was appointed Master of the Mint for Scotland, 2nd Aug 1756, and eventually disposed of Skibo [Blk MS.]. He married Ann (13th Sep 1766), daughter of Eric Sutherland, eldest son of the attainted Lord Duffus, and by her had five sons and four daughters: -

    1. George, died in the East Indies, 1790
    2. Eric, 7th Lord Reay, of whom afterwards
    3. Alexander, 8th Lord Reay, of whom afterwards
    4. Donald, Captain of the Royal Navy in 1806, appointed to the Mallacca frigate on the East India station in 1814, and reappointed in 1831 to the Revenge of 78 guns. In Jan 1848, he was appointed Admiral on the Irish station, and in 1849 became vice-Admiral of the Blue. He married in 1848, Ellen Martha, only child of William Twinning of the Bengal Medical Service, and died at London without issue, 26th Mar 1850.
    5. Patrick, died in infancy
    6. Elizabeth, died at Edinburgh unmarried, 10th Apr 1788
    7. Mary, died unmarried at Bath, 24th Nov 1843
    8. Harriet, died in infancy
    9. Anne, died at Bath unmarried in Sep 1849
  2. Alexander Mackay, had an Ensign's commission in the 25th Foot in 1737, raised an independent company for Loudon's regiment in 1745, and was taken prisoner at Prestonpans. He became Major of the 3rd Foot in 1750, and Colonel of the 52nd Foot in 1755 [Blk MS.]. He became M.P. for Sutherland in 1761, but some time thereafter went to America with his regiment and rose to the rank of Major-General. He was elected M.P. for the Northern Burghs in 1773, and appointed Governor of Tynemouth Fort in 1772. In 1780 he became Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Scotland, and Governor of Stirling Castle in 1788. He married in 1770, Margaret, daughter of Sir William Carr of Etal, Bart., and died without issue, 31st May 1789.
  3. Mary Mackay, died at Edinburgh unmarried in 1780
  4. Harriet Mackay, died unmarried at Restalrig, 5th Nov 1766
  5. Christian Mackay, married (contract 25th Jun 1746) the Rev. John Erskine, D.D., a noted minister of Edinburgh, and son of John Erskine of Carnoch, author of The Institutes of the Law of Scotland. There was issue of this marriage.
  6. Marion Mackay, died unmarried at Edinburgh in 1812
[Footnote: Skibo, which was Church property before and after the Reformation, came eventually into the possession of a family of Grays. During the first half of the 18th century Gray got into financial difficulties, and the estate passed from hand to hand under heavy mortgages. Doull or Dowell bought it in 1744, but it does not appear that he cleared away the encumbrances, so that the estate "came to Mackay heavily burdened, and continued in that condition so long as he retained it.]

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