circa 1300 - 30
As Iye Mor married the daughter of Bishop Walter about 1263, we presume that Donald was born sometime between that date and 1270. He married a daughter of Iye, son of Neil of Gigha, an island lying close to the coast of Kintyre, between that and Islay. The distance to which Donald went in search of a wife, combined with the neighbourhood in which he found her, seem to indicate that there was at this time a close connection between the Mackays of Strathnaver and those of that name on the west coast of Argyle. We have found Mackays holding land in Kintyre at this early period, and there were others in the same quarter. The Knock MS. describing the state of matters during the time of Angus Og of the Isles, the attached friend of Robert the Bruce, proceeds: -
"The constitution or government of the Isles was thus: MacDonald had his council at Island Finlaggan, in Isla, to the number of sixteen, viz., four Thanes, four Armins, that is to say lords or sub-thanes, four Bastards, i.e., squires or men of competent estates who could not come up with Armins or Thanes, that is freeholders or men that had their lands in factory, as MacGe of the Rinds of Islay, MacNicol in Portree in Skye, and MacEachern, MacKay, and MacGillevray, in Mull."
Thus we see there were contemporary with Donald of Strathnaver landed men of the name Mackay in the Rhins of Islay, in Mull, and in Kintyre; while at a little later period Mackays appear in the registers holding lands and office in Bute. See our account of the Argyle Mackays. It would be interesting to know what part if any Donald of Strathnaver took in the struggle for independence under Wallace and Bruce, when Scotland, Highland and Lowland, was stirred to its depths. In Harvey's Life of Bruce, in Gordon's Life of Bruce, and in General Stewart's Sketches of the Highlanders, the Mackays of Strathnaver are mentioned as being present at the battle of Bannockburn. We are not aware that they have substantial documentary evidence for this statement; but there is no doubt that the Mackays of Isla, Mull, etc., who were dependants of Angus Og of the Isles, supported the cause which their superior so warmly espoused. Barbour, who is a competent authority, informs us that at Bannockburn the Earl of Moray commanded the centre, Edward Bruce the right, and Sir James Douglas and Walter the Stewart commanded the left on that fateful day [Barbour's Bruce]. The same authority states that Bruce and Angus of the Isles commanded the reserve, consisting of the men of Argyle, Carrick, Kantire, the Isles, and Bute. When Donald of Strathnaver's wife's relatives and his kinsmen of the west were ranged under the banner of Scotland's deliverer, it is very likely that the Strathnavermen were not far away although Barbour does not chronicle the fact.
In Haddington's Collection of Ancient Charters (the Earl of Haddington was Lord Clerk Register for Scotland in 1612) there is the following excerpt from a charter by a King Robert to a Mackay, of which we give a translation: -
"King Robert's charter to MacKay for attending annually at our war when it shall happen with forty days' sustenance for one footman armed, and for performing other services as far as pertains to the said lands."
The Latin excerpt reads: - "King Roberts charter to Makai - reddendo annuatim gueram nram. quando contigerit vnum peditum armatum cum sustentune sua quadraginta dierum, et faciendo forinsecum seruitium quantum pertinet ad dictam terram."
This fragment does not tell us which King Robert it was, what the lands were, nor who the Mackay that possessed them. No doubt the original charter, which cannot now be found, made all this clear; but as in Haddington's day the prominent family of Mackay was the Strathnaver one, he may have concluded that the bald statement "Charter to Makaj" was sufficient for the purpose of identification. The King Robert, however, may be Robert II, who was on friendly terms with the Strathnaver Mackays, as shall soon appear.
The known issue of Donald by the daughter of Iye of Gigha was a son, Iye, of whom an account now follows.