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IYE MOR

married circa 1263

In 1263 Walter de Baltrodi, formerly a Canon of Caithness, was confirmed Bishop of the diocese by Pope Urban IV.

[Footnote: The document of confirmation, which is dated Jun 1263, proceeds: - " Verum quia dictus Walterus de honestate vite, grata mormu decentia, dono scientie litteralis, ac spiritualium et temporalium circumspecta prudentia laudabili testimonio commendatur: nos attendentes, quod ad personam eius vota dictorum Decani et Capituli, quibus unanime fuerat in ipsius ascriptione pvopositum, concorditer congruerant, eonsiderantes etiam eiusdem ecclesie paupertatem, (pie in tanta locorum distantia in gravia itinevum et viarum dispendia non posse absque gravi difficultate et onere expensaruin, nee non eupientes, vit,are perictilum, quod ex mora in talibus potest non immerito formidari, dignum duximus, ut circa provisionem ipsius ecclesie, que immediate dicte sedi subesse dinoscitur, faciendo specialem gratiam memorato Waltero, curemus apostolice sollici- tudinis studium adhibere." - Theiner's Monumenta Vetera, No. 229.]

Iye Mor became chamberlain to the bishop, married his daughter, and thereby obtained considerable power in Strathnaver. It is stated in the Houss of Forbes that the bishop's son-in-law possessed himself of twelve davochs of land in Durness, and that eventually the bishop gave legal title over these lands to his grandchild. We have already shown that there is documentary evidence to prove that the church of Caithness owned fifteen davochs of land in Durness. In a document Appendix No 57 describing the estate of Lord Reay (1797), preserved among the Reay Papers, we read, " Durness is a dry pretty spot; the soil sandy, well peopled for its extent. It lies upon a bed of limestone which is here found in the greatest abundance. It is considered the best grass and pasture ground in the north of Scotland, and it was of old the bishop of Caithness' sheiling or pasture farm."

Sir Robert Gordon says that the son-in-law of the bishop was called Walter, and the 1883 edition of the Houss of Forbes, from which we gave an extract in our Introductory chapter, agrees in this. But the version of the Houss of Forbes given in MacFarlane's Genealogical Collections, printed by the Scottish History Society, says that his name was John, and proceeds to say that the child borne to him by the bishop's daughter "after the country fashion was called McKy, which is the son of John". We believe the 1883 edition was amended to bring it into conformity with Sir Robert Gordon's account, and not so trustworthy as that of MacFarlane, which was copied out about 1750 by an acknowledged genealogist. But the phrase "McKy which is the son of John " is a manifest contradiction in terms. If the son was called Mcky to indicate his father, the father's name must have been Iye. To this extent the Houss of Forbes bears out the contention of the old family MS. account, that the son-in-law of the bishop was Iye Mor.

During the minority of Alexander III, Farquhar Macintagart, Earl of Ross, harried the western isles, especially Skye [Chron. of Man]. His followers not only burnt villages and sacked churches, but ferociously ripped open pregnant women and raised on their spear-points helpless infants. Hakon, King of Norway, the nominal overlord of these islands, remonstrated with King Alexander, but in vain. In the summer of 1263 Hakon sailed for Scotland with a large fleet, and after various vicissitudes came at last to grief at Largs, more by stress of weather than by the prowess of the opposing Scottish army. With the remnants of his once imposing fleet he sailed away north-wards, called at Alsher on the west coast of Strathnaver, rounded Cape Wrath and came to anchor in Loch Eriboll [Torfaeus]. A party who landed at Eriboll in search of food and water were roughly handled by the natives of the place.

[Footnote: In Johnston's translation of The Norwegian Account of Haco's expedition (1782), we read that a detachment of the fleet on the outward voyage "sailed into Scotland under Dryness. They going up into the country destroyed a castle, but the garrison had fled. They burned more than twenty hamlets. Next they steered for the Hebrides." It was probably to avenge the earlier attack, that the men of Strath-Urradale fell upon Haco's foraging party on the return voyage.]

It is probable that Iye Mor took an active part in this exploit, as the Bishop of Caithness, whose chamberlain he was, owned a considerable amount of land in the neighbourhood of Loch Eriboll, and it was the duty of Iye Mor to protect it. It is also probable that this incident gave rise to the common tradition, that the Mackays obtained their first footing in Strathnaver in consequence of their prowess in opposing the Norsemen. The MacEths and the Norsemen often fought side by side, but now times were changed and they changed with them. Shortly thereafter, King Alexander for a sum of money purchased from the Norsemen any rights which they may have claimed over the western isles or other lands in Scotland, and thus settled the vexed Norse question.

A contemporary of Iye Mor was John Gruamach MacKay. Gruamach means taciturn. It is stated in the Knock MS. that Angus Mor of the Isles, the great-grandson of Somerled, had, by the daughter of John Gruamach MacKay, "the mother of the first laird of Macintosh; for a son of MacDuff, thane of Fife, coming after man-slaughter to shelter himself in MacDonald's house, got her daughter with child, went to Ireland with Edward Bruce, where he was killed; by which means Mackintosh is of natural descent, his progenitor being got in that manner" [Col. de Rebus Alb.]. As Angus Mor of the Isles was present at the Scottish parliament of 1284 and died before 1300, John Gruamach MacKay must have flourished during the time of Iye Mor, but we have no means of connecting the one with the other. He may have been a brother but he cannot have been a son of Iye Mor, for according to the Knock MS, his grand-daughter was old enough in 1315, when Edward Bruce passed over to Ireland, to bear a son to MacDuff. Perhaps we should not say that this was impossible, but it is more likely that John Gruamach resided in the neighbourhood of Islay, the seat of Angus Mor.

In our Introductory Chapter we noticed how Mr Mackay of Blackcastle fell into the mistake of making Gilchrist Mac-Ivor MacIye of Kintyre a son of Iye Mor of Strathnaver, and we need not enter further into the matter here. The lands which King Robert the Bruce confirmed Appendix No 1 to Gilchrist and his heirs were the two twopenny lands in Kintyre, viz., the pennyland of Ardermede, the pennyland of Balloscalfis, the pennyland of Kyllewillan, and the pennyland of Skelkamonsky. "These lands", says Blackcastle, "lie near Campbelton in Kintyre and belong to MacNeil of Ugadale, whose ancestor, Torquil MacNeil, married about 1690 Catherine, daughter and heiress of Mackay of Ugadale."

The known issue of Iye Mor was Donald, of whom we now proceed to give an account.

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