During the whole of the 15th century the Clanranald had
been engaged in feuds regarding the lands of Garmoran and Uist; first, with the Siol
Gorrie, or race of Godfrey, eldest brother of Ranald, the founder of the tribe, and
afterwards with the MacDonalds or Clanhuistein of Sleat, and it was not till 1506, that
they succeeded in acquiring a legal title to the disputed lands. John, eldest son of Hugh
of Sleat, having no issue, made over all his estates to the Clanranald, including the
lands occupied by them. Archibald, or Gillespock, Dubh, natural brother of John, having
slain Donald Gallach and another of John's brothers, endeavoured to seize the lands of
Sleat, but was expelled from the North Isles by Ranald Bane Allanson of Moydart, eldest
son of the chief of Clanranald. The latter married Florence, daughter of MacIan of
Ardnamurchan, and had four sons - 1. Ranald Bane; 2. Alexander, who had three sons, John,
Farquhar, and Angus, and a daughter; 3. Ranald Oig; and 4. Angus Reochson. Angus Reoch,
the youngest son, had a son named Dowle or Coull, who had a son named Allan, whose son,
Alexander, was the ancestor of the McDonnells of Morar.
In 1509 Allan Macruari was tried, convicted, and executed,
in presence of the king at Blair Athol, but for what crime is not known. His eldest sons,
Ranald Bane, obtained a charter of the lands of Moydart and Arisaig, Dec. 14, 1540, and
died in 1541. He married a daughter of Lord Lovat, and had one son, Ranald Galda, or the
stranger, from his being fostered by his mother's relations, the Frasers.
On the death of Ranald Bane, the fifth chief, the clan, who
had resolved to defeat his son's right to succeed, in consequence of his relations, the
Frasers, having joined the Earl of Huntly, lieutenant of the north, against the
MacDonalds, chose the next heir to the estate as their chief. This was the young Ranald's
cousin-german, John Moydartach, or John of Moydart, eldest son of Alexander Allanson,
second son of Allan Macruari, and John was, accordingly, acknowledged by the clan captain
of Clanranald. Lovat, apprised of the intentions of the clan against his grandchild,
before their scheme was ripe for execution, marched to Castletirrim, and, by the
assistance of the Frasers, placed Ranald Galda in possession of lands. The Clanranald,
assisted by the MacDonalds of Keppoch and the Clan Cameron, having laid waste and
plundered the districts of Abertarf and Stratherrick, belonging to Lovat, and the lands of
Urquhart and Glenmoriston, the property of the Grants, the Earl of Huntly, the king's
lieutenant in the north, to drive them back and put an end to their ravages, was obliged
to raise a numerous force. He penetrated as far as Inverlochy in Lochaber, and then
returned to his own territories. The battle of Kinloch- lochy, called Blar-nan-leine,
"the field of shirts," followed, as related in the account of the clan Fraser.
The MacDonalds being the victors, the result was that John Moydartach was maintained in
possession of the chiefship and estates, and transmitted the same to his descendants. On
the return of Huntly with an army, into Lochaber, John Moydartach fled to the Isles, where
he remained for some time.
The Clanranald distinguished themselves under the Marquis
of Montrose in the civil wars of the 17th century. At the battle of Killiecrankie, their
chief, then only fourteen years of age, fought under Dundee, with 500 of his men. They
were also at Sheriffmuir. In the rebellion of 1745, the Clanranald took an active part.
Macdonald of Boisdale, the brother of the chief, then from age and infirmities unfit to be
of any service, had an interview with Prince Charles, on his arrival off the island of
Eriska, and positively refused to aid his enterprise. On the following day, however, young
Clanranald, accompanied by his kinsmen, Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale and neas
Macdonald of Dalily, the author of a Journal and |Memoirs of the Expedition, went on board
the prince's vessel. and readily offered him his services. He afterwards joined him with
200 of his clan, and was with him throughout the rebellion.
At the battles of Preston and Falkirk, the McDonalds were
on the right, which they claimed as their due, but at Culloden the three Macdonald
regiments of Clanranald, Keppoch, and Glengarry, formed the left. It was probably their
feeling of dissatisfaction at being placed on the left of the line that caused the
Macdonald regiments, on observing that the right and centre had given way, to turn their
backs and fly from the fatal field without striking a blow.
At Glenboisdale, whither Charles retreated, after the
defeat at Culloden, he was joined by young Clanranald, and several other adherents, who
endeavoured to persuade him from embarking for the Isles, but in vain. In the act of
indemnity passed in June 1747, young Clanranald was one of those who were specially
excepted from pardon.
The ancestor of the MacDonalds of Benbecula was Ranald,
brother of Danald MacAllan, who was captain of the Clanranald in the latter part of the
reign of James VI. The MacDonalds of Boisdale are cadets of Benbecula, and those of Staffa
of Boisdale. On the failure of Donald's descendants, the family of Benbecula succeeded to
the barony of Castletirrim, and the captainship of the Clanranald, represented by Reginald
George Macdonald of Clanranald.
From John, another brother of Donald MacAllan, came the
family of Kinlochmoidart, which terminated in an heiress. This lady married Colonel
Robertson, who, in her right, assumed the name of Macdonald.
From John Oig, uncle of Donald MacAllan, descended the
MacDonalds of Glenaladale "The head of this family," says Mr. Gregory,
"John Macdonald of Glenaladale, being obliged to quit Scotland about 1772, in
consequence of family misfortunes, sold his Scottish estates to his cousin (also a
Macdonald), and emigrating to Prince Edward's Island, with about 200 followers, purchased
a tract of 40,000 acres there, while the 200 Highlanders have increased to 3000. "
One of the attendants of Prince Charles, who, after
Culloden, embarked with him for France, was Neil MacEachan Macdonald, a gentleman sprung
from the branch of the Clanranald in Uist. He served in France as lieutenant in the
Scottish regiment of Ogilvie, and was father of Stephen James Joseph Macdonald, marshal of
France, and Duke of Tarentum, born Nov. 17, 1765; died Sept. 24, 1840.
The Clanranald MacDonalds of Garmoran are descended from Ranald, younger son of John, first Lord of the
Isles, by his first wife, Amy, heiress of the MacRorys or Macruaries of Garmoran. In 1373
he received a grant of the North Isles, Garmoran, and other lands, to be held of John,
Lord of the Isles, and his heirs. His descendants comprehended the families of Moydart,
Morar, Knoydart, and Glengarry, and came in time to form the most numerous tribe of the
Clandonald, Alexander Macruari of Moydart, chief of the Clanranald, was one of the
principal chiefs seized by James I, at Inverness in 1427, and soon after beheaded. The
great-grandson of Ranald, named Allan Macruari, who became chief of the Clanranald in
1481, was one of the principal supporters of Angus, the young Lord of the Isles, at the
battle of Bloody Bay, and he likewise followed Alexander of Lochalsh, nephew of the Lord
of the Isles, in his invasion of Ross and Cromarty in 1491, when he received a large
portion of the booty taken on the occasion. In 1495, on the second expedition of James IV.
to the Isles, Allan Macruari was one of the chiefs who made their submission.