History of the Clan Macrae

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Christopher (chapter 3, generation 6)

Constable of Ellandonan Castle

Christopher, eldest son of Duncan (gen 5), was for some time Constable of Ellandonan Castle.  He is said to have been "prudent and solid in counsel and advice, bold, forward and daring when need required, yet remarkably merciful during the bloody wars 'twixt Mackenzie and Glengarry."

(The next page explains the origin of this feud)

Christopher and his Family contributed to Kintail's success

The feud lasted, with little intermission, for more than a quarter of a century, and which ended in favor of Mackenzie, who obtained a Crown charter for Glengarry's possessions in Lochcarron and Lochalsh in 1607, and the superiority of all his other possessions.  To this result, which added still further to the power and influence of the House of Kintail, Christopher and his family greatly contributed, and we read that Kenneth, Lord Kintail, "did always ask his advice in any matter of consequence he had to do in the Highlands."

Christopher an enterprising Cattle Dealer

Not only was Christopher a bold and stout warrior, he was likewise an enterprising man of business. He was the first man in that part of the country who sent cattle to the markets of the South.  For that purpose he bought cattle yearly from the neighboring estates, and made so much money in his cattle-dealing that "if he was as frugal in keeping as he was industrious in acquiring, he had proven a very rich man in his own country."

His Convivial Habits

But he appears to have been a man of decidedly convivial habits, and to have spent his money very freely, for when he went to Inverness, or to Fortrose, which was then a very important place and much frequented, "the first thing he did was to call his landlord the vintner, and with him pitched upon and agreed for the hogshead of wine that pleased him best, resolving to drink it all with his acquaintances before he left the town."

His Friendship with Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat

He was on very friendly terms with Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat, commonly called Donald Gorm Mor, grandson of Donald Gorm, who was killed by Christopher's father at the siege of Ellandonan Castle in 1539.  This Sir Donald was married to a sister of Kenneth, Lord Kintail and being on won occasion in the South, along with his lady, he was detained there much longer than he expected, with the result that he ran short of money.  There were no banking transactions in those days, and the credit of Highland Chiefs, at all events in the South, was not always good.  In consequence of all this, Sir Donald was obliged to go home for more money in order to enable his lady to travel in a manner suitable to her rank, and meantime she remained behind in Perth, to await the return of her husband.  It so happened, however, that Christopher was at this time in the South with cattle, and hearing that Lady Macdonald, the sister of his own Chief, was in Perth, he went to pay her his respects.  On learning the cause of her delay, he told her that he had with him money and men enough to meet all expenses, and to escort her safely and suitably to her home, if she would do him the honor of accepting his services.  Christopher's offer was gladly accepted, and starting immediately for the North, the arrived at Sleat the next day after Sir Donald himself.  Sir Donald, who was greatly surprised and much delighted, persuaded Christopher to remain with him for some days, with the result that a fast friendship was established between the two families, notwithstanding the fact that on one occasion during the visit, while the cups were circulating far too freely, Christopher made an ill-timed reference to the death of Donald Gorm, and so greatly roused the resentment of some of the Macdonalds who were present, that they would probably have killed him but for the interference and protection of his host.  Christopher was afterwards greatly ashamed of what he said, and Sir Donald and he continued to be very fast friends.

Christopher's Marriage and Family

Christopher married a daughter of the Rev. Murdoch Murchison (1), priest of Kintail, and Constable of Ellandonan Castle, who died in 1618, and by her he had seven sons, all of whom were prosperously settled before the death of their father.

1. Duncan, called Donnacha Mac Gillechriosd, is said to have been one of the biggest and strongest men in the Highlands.  "He was equal in height and bulk of body" to John Grant, the contemporary Laird of Glenmoriston, commonly called Ian Mor a Chasteil (Big John of the Castle). (2)  We are told that Duncan could pass through the doorway of the Church at Kintail only by turning sideways, and it appears, from what the clan historian relates of him, that he was no less remarkable for his prowess and force of character than fro his bodily size.  "He was a stout, forward, and bloody man, and delighted much in arms."

2. The Rev. Farquhar, second son of Christopher, who is described in great detail in Chapter 4.

3. The Rev. John (gen 7), third son of Christopher (gen 6), was "a man of an able and strong body, a sharp and sagacious mind, and somewhat more curious in his learning than his elder brother, Mr. Farquhar."  He had three sons: Christopher, Donald, and Duncan.

4. Finlay (gen 7), fourth son of Christopher (gen 6), and (gen 7) from Finlay Dubh Mac Gille Chriosd, is said to have been a handsome man, and of good ability according to the education he received.  He was frugal and industrious, and left considerable means to his children.  He did not live long, but left four sons, the eldest of whom was Donald (gen 8), called Domhnull Dubh.  He is spoken of as an able, strong man, of good sense, and well to live.  He had five sons and three daughters.

5. Maurice (gen 7), fifth son of Christopher (gen 6), strong and industrious.

6. Christopher Og (gen 7), sixth son of Christopher (gen 6), short but strong and nimble.

Next: Origin of Feud between Kintail and Glengarry

Footnotes

1. It would appear from Fasti Ecclesae Scotieance that Mr. Farquhar succeeded his grandfather as Constable of Ellandonan and Vicar of Kintail, as it is there stated that Christopher Macrae, that is Mr. Farquhar's father, married a daughter of Murdoch Murchison, Constable of Ellandonan and Vicar of Kintail, Mr. Farquhar's predecessor, who would thus be also his grandfather; but according to the Rev. John Macrae, Mr. Farquhar succeeded his uncle in the Vicarage of Kintail.  There are three men of the name Murchison mentioned in connection with Kintail during this period: -- (1) John Murchison, called John Mac Mhurchaidh Dhuibh (John, the son of Black Murdoch), Priest of Kintail, who was made Constable of Ellandonan, in succession to John Dubh Matheson, who was killed by Donald Gorm in 1539; (2) John Murchison, who was Reader of Kintail from 1674 to 1614 (the Reader was a man appointed to read the Scriptures and the new Protestant Service Book of this period); (3) Murdoch Murchison, who was Vicar of Lochalsh from 1582 to 1614, when he became Vicar of Kintail, until his death in 1618.  These men were undoubtedly members of the same family, but it is not clear what their relationship was to one another.  From an examination of the dates it would seem probable that the last two were brothers, and the sons of the first.  In that case, if Murdoch was Mr. Farquhar's uncle, as he almost certainly was, Mr. Farquhar's mother would be a daughter, not of the Ref. Murdoch Murchison, as stated on this page, but of John Murchison, Priest of Kintail, who was made Constable of Ellandonan in 1539.

2. For an interesting account of Ian Mor a Chasteil, who was Laird of Glenmoriston from 1581 to 1637, see Mackay's Urquhart and Glenmoriston -- page 125

3. This statement of the descendants of Marion, daughter of the Rev. Finlay Macrae, is taken from a full and interesting account of her descendants, given to the author by the above-mentioned Miss Betsie Matheson of Dornie, in August, 1896.