1207: death of Ranald mac Somhairle, according to MacDonald genealogies; in fact, however, he seems to have outlived his brother Angus (see 1210), whose lands were divided between Ranald and Dugall [Grant& Cheape, p. 61; Gregory, p. 17; Caldwell, p. 38]. It appearsthat 1207 may be a misreading of 1200& (i.e., some years after 1200), though “MacEwen’s suggested date of c. 1227 seems too late” [Sellar, p. 196].
1209: Annals of Ulster report that "A battle [i]s fought by the sons of Ragnall, son of Somerlech, against the men of Sciadh [Skye], wherein slaughter [i]s inflicted on them" [U1209.2]. Sellar interprets the defeated 'them' to be Ranald's sons [p. 200]; Caldwell thinks they are the men of Skye [p. 39].
1210: death of Angus mac Somhairle and some of his sons “in unknown circumstances” [Grant& Cheape, p. 61; Gregory, p. 17; Caldwell, p. 39; Sellar, p. 195].
1212: Annals of Ulster report a “great naval assault” on Derry and Inishowen by Thomas of Galloway, in which again-unnamed sons of Ranald are involved [U1212.4; Sel- lar, p. 200
1214: Derry is plundered in another naval assault by Thomas of Galloway; in this case Ruairi, son of Ranald, is named as one of Thomas’s associates. (Donald, the other known son of Ranald, also may have taken part.) [Sellar, p. 200; Annula Uladh, U1214.2]
1222: Dòmhnall mac Ranal, progenitor of the Clan Donald, acquires Islay and Kintyre [Feud, p. x]. His son, Angus Mòr, is the first of Somerled’s descendants to ac- knowledge the superiority of the Scottish king [McKerral, p. 5]. He is also the first chief of the Clan Donald, although the MacDonald surname “was not adopted by any of the main branches of the family until the sixteenth century” [Caldwell, p. 41]. Sellar tells us that “Alexander II is known to have mounted an expedition against Argyll in 1221 or 1222, or both, resulting in some reallocation of territory. Duncan and Brown suggest that land in Kintyre may have changed hands, as does Cow- an, who conjectures that Donald son of Ranald may have replaced his brother Ruairi there”, though Sellar himself holds that Donald could have been the loser [Sellar, p. 201; Bower, book IX, pp. 105-7].
1228: “Norwegian sources record a punitive expedition launched against kings of Somer- led’s race, who are said to have been unfaithful to King Hakon”, though these kings were probably of the MacDougall line, which is most prominent at this point [Sellar, p. 202].
1230: expedition of King Hakon IV to the Hebrides, apparently “intended to bring the Mac- Sorleys to heel” [Caldwell, p. 40]. Note: this could be the same expedition as above.
1247: Ruairi macRanald “is, I would suggest, the descendant of Somerled, styled simply Mac Somurli, who me[ets] his death at the battle of Ballyshannon in the west of Ireland” [Sellar, pp. 200-1; Annula Uladh, U1247.1]. The Annals of the Four Mas- ters call him "MacSorley, Lord of Argyll" [M1247.3], which at this point would indeed be Ruairi.
1249: first record of Alasdair Mòr, progenitor of the future Clan Alasdair
“Alastair first appears as a witness to a charter granted by his brother Angus, Lord of the Isles” for the church of Kilkerran in Kintyre to the Abbey of Paisley, “ ‘for the salvation of the soul of my lord Alexander, illustrious king of Scots’ ” [Clan, p. 204, but editors put it at 1253; Kingdom, p. 109; McKerral, p. 5].
mid-13th C: The clan Alasdair originates as a branch of the mighty Clan Donald
There has long been debate about the progenitor of this clan, “chiefly because of the existence of two Alexanders, uncle and nephew, to whom its posterity has variously been ascribed”, but examination of all the available evidence has led historians to conclude that “there is no reason to doubt that the Clan Allister are the descendants of Alastair Mòr, son of Donald de Ile, the younger brother of Angus Mòr” [Castleton, p. 163; Clan, p. 204; Keay, p. 643]. According to an article on the MacDonnell of Leinster Association's web site, the misinformation about the clan's founder was intentionally put forward by the Lyon Court in effort to discredit the MacAlasdairs, for fear they would try to claim the chieftainship of the Clan Donald [MacDonnell, "Children"]. In fact, at least one MacAlasdair chief did use this erroneous genealogy to declare himself the rightful representative of the Lords of the Isles [St. James Magazine, and heraldic & historic register, vol. I (1850), p. 35], conveniently ignoring the fact that Alasdair Og was forfeited of his land and titles. In any case, the 'libel' was admitted by the Lyon Court in 1846 [MacDonnell, ibid.], and by the end of the nineteenth century, most contemporary historians took care to debunk it. In 1886, for example, Dugald Mitchell wrote, “According to Macken- zie’s History of the MacDonalds, the M’Alisters claim their descent from Alexan- der, eldest son of Angus Mor, Lord of the Isles, but their real descent seems to have been from Alexander, second son of Donald of the Isles, and younger brother of Angus Mor” [p. 72]. Five years earlier, Donald Gregory, who has been called “the most level-headed of clan historians” wrote: “The Clan Allaster derived its de- scent from Alexander, or Allaster, son of Donald of Isla, the grand son of Somer- led” [p. 68]. And in 1895, Charles Fraser-Mackintosh stated that "the Clan Allister of Kintyre [are] descended of Allister, son of Donald, grandson of Somerled" [p. 35]. Indeed,“there is no record of a family of importance being founded by [the descendants of Alasdair Og] in Scotland” [Castleton, p. 163]. Unfortunately, the myth of the clan's founding persists; it has yet to be corrected in reprints of older clan histories, and it is widely put forth on line. Duncan Beaton found it necessary even in 1997 to declare that “Alasdair Og, the MacDonald chief who . . . opposed the Bruce during the Wars of Independence, . . . is not, as was formerly claimed, the ancestor of the MacAlasdairs, but rather his nephew, the son of Angus Mòr” [p. 14].
1249: Death of Dòmhnall mac Ranald may have occurred in this year; some sources
put it at 1269; Caldwell says he was most likely dead by 1248 [p. 41, but he may be assuming that the Mac Sumarli killed at Ballyshannon in 1247 was Donald].
mid-1200s: Tarbert Castle built
However, “[m]ost of the early references to the keepership [see 1511, 1526] con- tain the words ‘when it is built’ as though there were still additions being made to Tarbert Castle at the time of James IV” (late 1400s) [CMS, p. 19; DMM; Mitchell, p. 20]. Note: probably repairs, not additions—see 1499–1500, #1. Mitchell puts the castle’s construction at 1325, qv., but notes that some believe an earlier structure existed. Barrow suggests it was “possibly built by Alexander II”, who died in 1249 [p. 137].
1253: see 1240s
1255: “Angus, the son of Donald and Lord of Isla, [i]s closely pursued by [Alexander III of Scotland], because he w[ill] not consent to become a vassal of Scotland for the lands he h[olds] of Norway” [Gregory, p. 20].
1256: Contemporary sources suggest that Angus Mòr is probably involved with the up- rising in Ireland of Brian O Neill against the English in this year [Caldwell, p. 41].
1260: Clan Alasdair in Ulster:
1. “After a devastating defeat . . . at the Battle of Downpatrick, the Irish s[eek] aid from their northern cousins. These mercenary forces, called Galloglach, or galloglass, revolution[ise] the Irish military structure. . . .” [“News”, no. 35, pp.1–2]. Many—perhaps most—Irish MacAlasdairs descend from galloglass families [Mac- Lysacht, Surnames, p. 4; Irish Families, p. 23].
2. “The evidence that Alisdair [Mòr] was a leader of galloglass forces is persua- sive. Other than the rather uneventful role as witness to a grant of land from his brother to the Monastery of Paisley, we have no record of his activities. . . . The Irish Annalist refers to him as ‘of Antrim’. . . . It is very possible that, as Angus be- came [more] involved in the Isles, his younger brother took over the family affairs in [I]reland. . . .” [“News”, no. 35, pp. 1–2]. Certainly later Clan Alasdair chiefs led galloglass forces in Northern Ireland(see 1360; 1493ff., #3; 1500s, #2).
1263/4: 1. (30 Sept./1 Oct.) Battle of Largs: King Haakon of Norway invades Scot- land; Clan Donald Supports him [Feud, p. x]. According to R. Andrew Mac- Donald, Angus Mòr submits to Haakon reluctantly, possibly because of blackmail, and his allegiance of choice seems to be Scotland [Kingdom, p. 130; Sellar, p. 207]. Caldwell agrees, saying that Angus and his brother Murchaid only join Haakon when that king sends a force of fifty ships to “ravage their lands in Kintyre” [p. 42], and Barrow says Angus's loyalty to Haakon is so “doubtful” that even though he joins the Norse, they require him to surrender hostages [p. 142]. Tytler conversely has Angus withstanding considerable pressure from the Scots king to renounce his allegiance to Haakon [Tytler, pp. 7-8], and Gregory reports that Haakon's inva- sion to begin with is a direct response to complaints brought to him by his sub- jects in the Isles that the Scottish king is becoming too aggressive in pressing them to acknowledge him as their sole overlord [p. 20]. In fact, “most, if not all of the descendants of Somerled, ha[ve], for a century after his death, a divided al- legiance, holding part of their lands, those in the Isles, from the King of Norway; their mainland domains being, at the same time, held of the King of Scotland” [Gregory, pp. 18-19; Caldwell, p. 38]. In addition to reclaiming the Isles, however, the Norsemen also ravage the adjacent parts of Scotland, leading to their defeat at Largs as they attempt a landing in Ayrshire. They then find themselves trapped by storms, and Haakon himself dies in Orkney on the way home [Gregory, p. 20; Caldwell, p. 40; Sellar, p. 205].
2. Campbells first appear in Argyll [Feud, p. x]
1266: (2 July) Treaty of Perth: Alexander III takes advantage of his victory over the Norse "and resume[s] his projects against the Isles with such success that, on the death of Magnus, King of Man . . . Magnus of Norway, the successor of Haco [Haakon], [i]s induced to cede all the Western Isles to Scotland" [Gregory, pp. 20- 21]; the Northern Isles remain Norse. The treaty includes a condition to protect the Islesmen from retribution for “misdeeds or injuries and damage which they have committed hitherto while they adhered to” the king of Norway [Kingdom, p. 120; Gregory, ibid.]; the Scottish Crown, thus forbidden to forfeit the western chiefs, begins a policy of using “their most prominent number as agents of royal authority” [Kingdom, p. 132]. “Angus of Isla . . . bec[omes], according to the treaty, a vassal of Scotland for his lands there, and [i]s allowed to retain, under a single king, all that he . . . formerly held under two” [Gregory, p. 22]; however, hostages, including Alasdair Og, son of Angus Mòr mac Dòmhnall (MacDonald), are sent to Edinburgh to insure the good behaviour of the western chiefs [personal correspondence with Capt. Ian MacDonald; Feud, p. 12; Gregory, p. 22]. Caldwell in fact claims that “Angus Mor is known to have been in trouble, threatened with military action by the rest of the barons of Argyll if he did not enter into Alexander III’s goodwill” [p. 43]. Although three of Somerled’s descendants, including Angus Mòr, are now major landhold- ers in the Isles under Alexander III, the wording of the treaty makes clear that none of them “at this time, . . . bore the title of Lord of the Isles, or could have been properly so considered” [Gregory, p. 23].
1269: see 1249
1284: Angus Mòr of Islay is one of those barons who pledge their support for Margaret, the Norwegian granddaughter of Alexander III, as his heir.
1286: Alexander III dies, leaving as his only direct heir his infant granddaughter, Margaret, the Maid of Norway. A dozen or so men in the kingdom believe that they have legit- imate claims to the throne, but most of them are among “the majority of mag- nates, laymen and churchmen alike, [who] rall[y] in loyalty to the female child they ha[ve] never seen” [Barrow, p. 184]. However, Gregory says that by this year, Angus Mòr is already a supporter of Robert Bruce [p. 24], one of the claimants to the throne. It is possible that Alasdair Mòr, as a vassal of his brother, is also an early supporter of Bruce [Macdonnell, "Children"].
late 1200s: "Contemporary with the House of Somerled there [a]re in Argyll and the Isles a number of lesser families greedy for powers and lands in a fiercely competitive environment. . . . Of these, the Macsweens who h[o]ld the lordship of Knapdale and (it seems) Arran also [a]re the most powerful. . . . [T]he foundations of Camp- bell power [a]re already being laid . . . before the end of the thirteenth century. . . . [But] the most remarkable development of [the] period [i]s the spread of Stewart power and possessions across the water from their original lordship of Ren- frew" [Barrow, p. 136].
1290: Annals of the Four Masters mention the "MacDonnells of Scotland, and many other galloglasses” [M1290.4]; this is one of the earliest appearances of this term on record [Sellar, p. 200].
1291: Alasdair Mòr’s son Donald and grandson Alexander, like most men of significance in Scotland, swear loyalty to King Edward I of England as part of an arbitration agreement [“News”, no. 35, p. 2; “Fortiter”, Dec. 1981, p. 6; Castleton, p. 163]; see 1306; 1307; 1309; 1314, #1; 1315, #1 for more discussion of Donald’s involve- ment in the Wars of Independence.
1292: death of Angus Mòr mac Dòmhnall, chief of Clan Donald and brother of Alasdair Mòr [Keay, p. 548; Clan Donald genealogies give the year of his death as 1296; Caldwell, p. 43, says that he “passes from the records in the 1290s”].
1296: 1.“[T]wo great interlinked families, the MacDougalls and the MacDonalds, between them contro[l] virtually every war galley available”, making it difficult for Balliol to establish control in the west [Feud, pp. 3–4].
2. see 1292
1297: Rising of William Wallace; the western clans are not involved in this revolt.
1299: death of Alasdair Mòr: According to the Irish Annals of the Four Masters, “Alex- ander MacDonnell (of Antrim) [i.e., Alasdair Mòr], the best man of his tribe in Ire- land and Scotland for hospitality and prowess, was slain by Alexander MacDow- ell [i.e., Alexander MacDugall], together with a countless number of his people who were slaughtered” [M1299.3; Castleton, p. 163; Montcrieffe, p. 63; Caldwell, p. 44; Sellar, p. 212, though he confuses him with Alasdair Og]. The reason was probably a long-running feud over the Isle of Mull. (See Kingdom of the Isles for details of the MacDonald/MacDougall feud.) “It [i]s during one of these clashes that Alisdair Mòr, now an old man, [i]s slain by Alexander. . . . How and where this confrontation occur[s] is unknown” [“News”, no. 35, pp. 2–3], though it was probably in Ireland [obituary of Angus Macalister, the Scotsman, 17 April 2007].
1300s: emergence of Clan Alasdair
—“This important family [i]s one of the earliest branches to assert its independ- ence from the great Clan Donald” [Clan, p. 204]; the clan appears in the mid-14th century: a little clan, senior cadets of Clan Donald who acquire a separate identity [DMM; Stevenson, p. 220]. Castleton calls the Clan Alasdair “the oldest of all the families that sprang from the main stem” of the Clan Donald [Castleton, p. 163; Keay, p. 643; Grant, p. 148; Clan, p. 204].
—“[T]he MacDonalds . . . established several branches that took on much of the individuality of clans, and during the period before the Lordship of the Isles, the MacAlisters, the MacIans and the MacDonalds of Glencoe [are] established” [Grant/Cheape, p. 70]. However, “[t]he fortunes of the McAlestor’s [sic] are closely linked to the ebb and flow of Clan Donald’s reign up to the loss of the Lordship of the Isles” in 1493 [CMS, intro.].
—“The possessions of this tribe appear to have been, from the first, in Kintyre, and were never very extensive” [Gregory, p. 68]; indeed, “it seems impossible to associate Clan Alasdair as a Highland family with any other region” [Castleton, pp. 163, 165; CMS, p. 27]. Later the MacAlasdairs are “numerically strong in Bute and Arran” [CMS, p. 27; Grant, p. 41; DMM; Keay, p. 643]. Strategic location makes the MacAlasdairs influential, but they are “by no means a numerous clan, and there- fore s[eek] to secure their position by alliances with other houses” [Clan, p. 204].
---Many of this clan serve in Ulster as galloglasses; see 1260; 1360; 1493ff., #3; 1500s, #2.
1306: Robert Bruce crowned King of Scotland at Scone in a secret ceremony attended by only a handful of people. Pursued by Edward’s forces, he escapes first to Dun- averty Castle, then to Rathlin Island (Ireland): Angus Og gives Bruce “refuge and hospitality in his Castle of Dunaverty” [McKerral, p. 5]. Some MacDonald accounts hold that he was sheltered by Donald of the Isles, son of Alasdair Mòr, during his flight [personal correspondence with Vance McAlister, CMS historian, and Kathan McCallister of Texas, July 2001]; certainly the evidence now available suggests that, contrary to the traditional view of Clan Donald historians, Donald supported Robert Bruce (see 1307; 1309; 1314, #2). “In the series of struggles for Scottish indepen-dence, which mar[k] the close of the thirteenth and the opening of the fourteenth centuries, the [MacDougall] Lords of Lorn, who [a]re closely connected by marri- age with the Comyn and Balliol party, naturally arra[y] themselves in opposition to the claims of Bruce. On the other hand, the houses of Isla and the North Isles suppor[t], with all their power, the apparently desperate fortunes of King Robert I” [Gregory, p. 24].
1307: Donald mac Alasdair supports Edward Bruce (brother of Robert) in his Gallo- way campaign. According to Barbour, Fordun, Bower, and the Lanercost Chronicle, “Edward Bruce was supported by Donald of Islay (who may have been a cousin of Angus Og)” [McNamee, p. 44; emphasis mine], which Donald mac Alas- dair certainly was. Donald of Islay is one of only three Highland supporters of Bruce to be named in the chronicles [Grant/Cheape, p. 62; Bower, book XII, p. 345]. He may also have led the warband sent by Angus Og MacDonald to protect Rob- ert Bruce when he returned from Rathlin Island in this year [MacDonnell, "Children"].
1308: MacDonald chief forfeited
1. "Alasdair Og, nephew of Alasdair Mor, . . . . join[s] the Macdougalls against Robert Bruce", for which his lands are forfeit; Alasdair Og is attacked in his princi- pal stronghold of Castle Sween, forced to surrender, and dies a prisoner in Dun- donald Castle, Ayrshire [“Fortiter”, Jan. 1982, p. 2; McKerral, p. 4; Grant/ Cheape, p. 64]. The New Statistical Account for the parish of North Knapdale reports:
When the Bruce obtained possession of the crown, he found himself threatened by the strength of the descendants of Somerled, as by that of an enemy who had gradually grown up into the posses- sion of a power which frequently defied royal authority, and which had more than once shaken the stability of the Crown under Somerled. He therefore determined to proceed in person into Argyleshire for the purpose of crushing the power of the Lord of Lorn [i.e., the MacDougall], which he soon effected. After the defeat of the Lord of Lorn at Lochawe, King Robert besieged Alexander of the Isles [Alasdair Og] in Castle Swe[e]n, his usual residence. Alexander, for some days, defended himself with the most determined bravery, but was obliged to surrender himself to the King, who forthwith imprisoned him in Dundonald Castle, where he died. [NSA: N. Knapdale, p. 637]
Alasdair Og’s possessions and title are granted to his brother Angus Og [Grant/ Cheape, p. 70; Beaton, p. 14; Feud, p. 14; McKerral, p. 4]. His “six surviving sons escap[e] to Ireland where they [form] the nucleus of the future MacDonald/Mac- Donnell clan of Ulster” [Feud, 14; MacDonnell, "Children"]; Alasdair Og’s descen- dants “are distinctly traceable in the North of Ireland” as the MacDonalds of Ulster [Beaton, p. 14].
2. “At the end of the first War of Independence, Bruce ma[kes] grants and confis- cations that materially chang[e] the pattern of land-holding in the Highlands” [Grant/ Cheape, p. 65]. However, “he [i]s too sensible of the weakness of Scotland on the side of the Isles, not to take precautionary measures against the possible defec- tion of any of the great families on that coast, who might with ease admit an Eng- lish force into the heart of the kingdom.” As a result, he require[s] Angus to resign to the Crown his lands in Kintyre [Gregory, p. 25; McKerral, p. 4].
1309: Donald of the Isles attends Robert I’s first Parliament.
This parliament, held in March at St. Andrews, [i]s a small gathering of supporters
who ha[ve] proven themselves loyal to Bruce; see 1307; 1314; 1315. Later the
same year Donald witnesses a charter to Melrose Abbey, again with Edward
Bruce [Bower, vol. 6, editorial note p. 444; MacDonnell, "Children"]
1314: 1. 25 March entry in the Rotuli Scotiae records the commissioning of John of Ar-
gyll to take Douenaldus de Insula and Gotheris (Godfrey, another of Alasdair Mòr's
sons) 'into the peace of' Edward I of England. Until recently, this has been taken to
mean that these men opposed Robert Bruce, but there is in fact no record of
their ever actually being taken into Edward's peace at this time, as is usually
assumed [Vance McAlister correspondence, 2001]; and most of the evidence that
does exist suggests that Donald supported the Bruce; see 1306; 1307; 1309;
1315, #1. It is interesting to note that part of Edward’s plan for defeating Bruce was
an “attempt to recruit men there [in the Isles] to fight . . . the lord of the Isles, to
keep the Bruce from melting away into the protection of the Islesmen” [Aryeh
Nusbacher, The Battle of Bannockburn, 1314 (Tempus Publishing Ltd., 2000), p. 52]
Attempts to take these Western lairds into his peace appears to be part of this
—The Clan Alasdair supports Robert Bruce in this conflict and is later rewarded by him [MacKinnon, p. 256].
—Angus Og, chief of the Clan Donald, supports Bruce in battle, commanding a body of cavalry [Tytler, p. 65; Feud, p. x]; his loyalty to Bruce is rewarded with large grants of land in Western Scotland [Ian MacDonald correspondence]; these include, in addition to the lands forfeited by his brother, lands previously held by the MacDougalls of Lorn [McKerral, p. 4].
1315: 12 March entry in the Rotuli Scotiae records a second commissioning of John of
Argyll to win Donald and Godfrey mac Alasdair to “the peace of” Edward I; at the time, Edward is planning an “expedition against the Scots” [McNamee, p. 169], which suggests that the first attempt was unsuccessful and Edward is again trying to win over those likely to shelter Bruce; again, there is no record of Argyll’s suc- cess.
1320: Oliver Thomson gives this as the year of Angus Og’s death, but it was more likely
1325: 1. In this year, “Bruce commence[s] the building of TarbertCastle” [Mitchell, p. 16; McKerral, p. 4]. The Exchequer Roll, “which details the expenses connected with Bruce’s castle, also mentions the repairing of houses, ‘placing a new vat in the brew-house, making a new kitchen, lime-kiln,’ &c., points in the direction of former ones having existed” [Mitchell, p. 17], perhaps indicating that some sort of strong- hold was already standing at this location. "It is reasonable, at any rate, to suppose that a position that was really the key to Kintyre (the cradle of the Scottish Monar- chy) would not be left unprotected" [ibid.] In fact, Gregory says that Bruce about this time “greatly enlarged and strengthened” the “fortifications of the Castle of Tarbert” [p. 25], which certainly suggests that such a fortress was already stand- ing. See mid–1200s. Of the castle “[i]t is said that it was supplied with water by a submarine passage in pipes across the harbour; a circumstance which, if true, shews that our ancestors were better acquainted than we suppose with the laws of hydrostatics” [Stat. Acct.: Kilcolmonnell & Kilberry, pp. 55–6].
2. Roderick MacAlan, to whom Bruce had given the estates of Lorn, is forfeited and “it is probable that Angus Oig, whose loyalty never wavered, received further additions to his already extensive possessions” [Gregory, pp. 25-6].
1326: (20th July) Exchequer Roll accounts rendered by the Constable of Tarbert; it would seem that although “the castle, as at first designed, appears never to have been quite completed”, by this time “almost all that was then purposed being done was finished” [Mitchell, p. 20].
1329: Death of King Robert I; by now “the house of Isla [i]s already the most powerful in Argyle and the Isles” [Gregory, p. 26].
1330: 1. Establishment of the Alexanders in Stirlingshire
Gilbert Alexander (son of Donald of the Isles) is given the lands of Glorat in the parish of Campsie, Stirlingshire; the Alexanders of Menstrie are among his de- scendants (see 1500s, #1). Some authors place Gilbert among a group of dis- possessed clansmen—“the Disinherited”—who petition for restoration of their land rights after forfeitures stemming from Bannockburn [CMS, p. 42; “Fortiter”, June 1982, p. 2; “News”, no. 31, p. 1; Clan, p. 209; Castleton, p. 173], although there is no mention of Gilbert in documents related to the Bruce struggle, and his family as a whole appears to have supported Bruce. In any case, “the Alexanders of Men- strie . . . clai[m] relationship with the MacAlastairs in Kintyre” [Donaldson/Morpeth, p. 5; Montcreiffe, p. 63], although Lowland Alexanders in general have other origins. Gilbert and his immediate descendants appear to have used MacAlasdair or MacAlexanderif they regularly used a surname at all; the “mac” was dropped in later generations.
2. death of Angus Og, chief of Clan Donald and younger brother of the late
Alasdair Og, occurs about now [Ian MacDonald correspondence; Feud (p. 15) puts
it at 1320, but Gregory has Angus still alive in 1325, qv.]. Angus’s son John suc-
ceeds him and manages to lose most of his father’s lands by siding with Balliol; he
is later restored by David I, who is anxious to bring the kingdom together [Gregory,
1346: Amie Macruairi, wife of John mac Angus Og, inherits lands held by her brother from the Earl of Ross; John adds these lands to his own possessions. “Thus was formed the modern Lordship of the Isles, comprehending the territories of the Macdonalds of Isla, and the Macruaries of the North Isles, and a great part of those of the Macdugalls of Lorn” [Gregory, pp. 27-8; Barrow, p. 134].
1354: John MacDonald assumes the title of Lord of the Isles (the title is not actually granted to this family until his grandson is in power). “There were four Lords of the Isles, whose rule spanned 150 years. . . . Their possessions includ[e] all the isl- ands to the north and west of the peninsula of Kintyre, excepting Skye and Lewis which they later obtai[n] as part of the Earldom of Ross. Their mainland posses- sions includ[e] Kintyre and Knapdale, Morvern, Ardnamurchan, Lochaber, Garmor- an, and other lands to the north of Loch Ness. . . . [A]ll four Lords, when circum- stances [a]re in their favour, adop[t] the position of semi-independent rulers. They [a]re in fact in frequent collision with central authority and seldom . . . on cordial terms with it. They establis[h] contacts with England and in acting in this way [a]re obviously well aware that they came of royal stock” [Grant/Cheape, p. 72]. The Lords of the Isles “maintai[n] large and powerful fleets and navies, and ha[ve] their own judges and judicial system. . . . All the Stewart kings, from James I down to James IV, endeavou[r] to curb their power” [McKerral, p. 4]. However, “[i]t is of the greatest importance to realise that all up the eastern side of the Highlands, clans [a]re building up who [a]re unaffected by the culture of the Lordship of the Isles”, and that even “[w]ithin the Lordship itself, there [a]re rivalries between the great branches founded by members of the family and such favoured supporters as the MacLeans.” [Grant/Cheape, pp. 68-9]. Note: Feud [p. x] says that John became Lord of the Isles in 1336, but this is anachronistic, as his father, whom he suc- ceeded in that year, did not use this title.
1366: son of Ranald, 4th chief, killed in Ireland fighting for The O’Neill. Irish annalists report that Ranald came from the Hebrides to fight for the O’Neill and one of his sons was killed [Castleton, p. 165; “Fortiter”, Dec. 1981, p. 6; Jan. 1982, p. 2].Note: The Annals of the Four Masters calls Ranald "heir to Clan-Alexander." This suggests that his father, the 3rd chief, is still alive at this time; it also indicates that even at this early date the MacAlasdairs form a distinct branch of the Clan Donald (M1366.9).
1384: By this year, according to Fordun, “the manners and customs of the Scots vary with the diversity of their speech. For two languages are spoken amongst them, the Scottish and the Teutonic; the latter of which is the language of those who occupy the seaboard and plains, while the race of Scottish speech inhabits the highlands and outlying islands. . . . The highlanders and people of the islands . . . are a savage and untamed nation, rude and independent, given to rapine, ease- loving, of a docile and warm disposition, comely in person but unsightly in dress, hostile to the English people and language, and, owing to the diversity of speech, even to their own nation, and exceedingly cruel. They are, however, faithful and obedient to their king and country and easily made to submit to law if properly governed” [quoted in Grant/Cheape, p. 34].