History of the Clan Macrae

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Dingwall

In about 1700, the Rev. John Macrae of Dingwall wrote the MS. History of the Clan.

See Migration to Kintail

According to the Rev. John Macrae, the most probable cause of the migration of the Macraes to Kintail, or, at all events, of that branch of them which afterwards became the most important, was that, though they do not appear to have been very numerous, they were becoming too crowded in the old home at Clunes.   At the same time Lovat's own kindred and friends were becoming so numerous that the country could not accommodate them all, and this was an additional reason for the Macraes to move to other places, as favorable opportunities arose.  Three sons of Macrae of Clunes are said to have left home in this way, but the old man himself remained in Clunes all his days, enjoying the esteem and confidence of the Lords of Lovat, four of whom were fostered in his house.  Of these three brothers, one settled at Brahan, near Dingwall, where there was a piece of land in the time of the Rev. John Macrae, called Cnoc Mhicrath (Macrae's Hill), and the well which supplied Brahan Castle with water at that time was called Tobair Mhicrath (Macrae's Well).  The descendants of this man were then to be found in Strathgarve, Strathbran, Strathconon, Ardmeanach, and one of them, John Macrae, was at that time a merchant at Inverness.

See The Rev. John Macrae's MS. History of the Clan

The chief written authority for the early history of the Macraes is the MS. genealogy of the Clan, which was written towards the close of the seventeenth century by the last Episcopalian minister of Dingwall, the Rev. John Macrae, who died in 1704.  The original MS., which appears to be now lost, is believed, without any apparent evidence, however, to have been at one time in the possession of the late Dr. W. F. Skene.  A copy of it, with additions, was made by Farquhar Macrae of Inverinate in 1786.  This transcript copy appears to have been taken to India by Farquhar's son, Surgeon John Macrae, where a copy of it, which is now in the possession of Captain John MacRae Gilstrap of Ballimore, was made by Colonel Sir John Macra of Ardintoul about 1816.  Several copies of Sir John's transcript appear to have been made from time to time in Kintail and Lochalsh, and are still occasionally met with.  A copy of it was printed at Camden, South Carolina, in 1874; and another copy, which belonged to the late Miss Flora Macra of Ardintoul, was published in The Scottish Highlander in 1887.  The additions made by Farquhar of Inverinate appear to have been limited to his own family, and there is some reason to believe that the valuable additions now found in some copies of this MS., with regard to other families, were made by one of the Ardintoul family.  At all events, Archibald of Ardintoul says, in a letter written in 1817 to his son, Sir John, then in India, that he will endeavor to add to the genealogy down to his own day.   The oldest copy now known to exist is in the possession of Horatio Ross Macrae, Esq. of Clunes, and bears on the flyleaf of it the date 1760, but this is probably the transcript which was made by Farquhar of Inverinate, and which, though said to have been finished only in 1786, may have been commenced much earlier.  It is certainly not the original copy.  The style of the MS., though somewhat quaint, is clear and forcible, showing considerable literary power and a perfect mastery of the English language, and there is about it a sobriety of tone which gives an impression that the writer was thoroughly acquainted with his facts, and that his statements may be accepted with confidence.