History of the Clan Macrae


Preface to the Clan History, by Rev. Alexander Macrae, B.A.

The preparation of this History has been prompted by a desire to put on record, before it is too late, the fast diminishing oral and traditional information with which it is still possible, in some degree, to supplement such meager written records of the Clan Macrae as we happen to possess, and, though it probably contains little which can be of interest to the general reader, yet my purpose will be fulfilled and my labour amply rewarded, if it proves of interest to the members and connections of the Clan itself.

The work of collecting information was first begun as a recreation during a brief visit to Kintail in August, 1890, when I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of an excellent folk-lorist and genealogist, the late Mr. Alexander Macmillan, Dornie, from whom I received much of the traditional and oral information recorded in this book.  By 1893, I had succeeded in collecting sufficient matter for a series of "Notes on the Clan Macrae," which appeared in The North Star at intervals between July, 1893, and June, 1896, when the writing of this volume was commenced.

The difficulty of the work was greatly increased by the fact that it was possible to carry it on, only at long intervals during occasional periods of freedom from the labors of an exceptionally busy life.  Another great disadvantage was the fact that a large part of the information received from the Country of the Macraes had to be collected by correspondence.  I am, therefore, well aware that, though the greatest care has been taken to obtain correct information, and to verify every statement, yet there are undoubtedly many blemishes and defects in the book which might have been avoided if the work had been of a more continuous nature, and if it had been possible for me to have direct oral comunication, more freely, with the genealogists and folk-lorists of the Macrae Country.

The genealogical portion of the book, [Contents] Chapters 1-14, is based mainly upon the MS. History of the Clan, written by the Rev. John Macrae, of Dingwall, [towards the close of the seventeenth century], including the additions made to it by various transcribers down to about the year 1820.  In the case of several families the genealogy is continued down to [1899, a year which is refered to as "now" in these web pages], from family Bibles, family letters, registers, and other sources of information, and where there are continuations from oral sources great care has been taken in selecting the names and particulars to be included, and much matter has been left out because it could not be sufficiently authenticated and confirmed to warrent its publication.  The result is that a great many families are incomplete, but there are very few genealogies of which this cannot be said.

In any case, omissions are a less evil than mistakes, and my endeavor throughout the book as been, as far as possible, to be correct in my information, however meager it might be.

The generation numbers in chapters 1-14 represent in every case the number of generations from Fionnla Dubh Mac Gillechriosd (gen 1), the reputed founder of the Clan Macrae of Kintail, and it is hoped that the genealogical portions of the book are otherwise arranged clearly enough to be easily followed.

A controversy has recently arisen as to which family contains the lineal representation of Finnla Dubh Mac Gillechriosd.   Such controversies are far from uncommon in old families, even when for many generations they have possessed estates and titles to which the lineal succession has always been recorded with greater care than was ever done in the case of any family of the Macraes.  The lineal succession of Fionnla Dubh Mac Gillechriosd is usually held to be in the Inverinate family, and that is the opinion of the Kintail genealogists whom I have had the opportunity of consulting.

At the same time, the lineal representation of the founder of the Clan is claimed by two other families.  The Macraes of Conchra claim, on the strength of family traditions and old family letters, that the founder of their branch of the Clan, the Rev. John Macrae of Dingwall, and not Alexander of Inverinate, was the eldest son of the Rev. Farquhar Macrae of Kintail.

The Torlysich family, again, claim that their progenitor, Farquhar (gen 5), was the eldest son of Christopher (gen 4), Constable of Ellandonan, and that the reason why John of Killin refused to give Farquhar the post of Constable was, that the appointment of the eldest son to a post formerly held by his father might lead the Macraes to regard the office of Constable as hereditary in their own family, and that they might thus become inconveniently powerful for the Mackenzie family, which at that time was small and comparitively unimportant.

In all the copies of the Rev. John Macrae's history that I have seen, Duncan (gen 5), the first of the family who settled at Inverinate, is stated to have been older than his brother Farquhar (gen 5), and Alexander of Inverinate (gen 8) is stated to have been the eldest son of the Rev. Farquhar Macrae (gen 7) of Kintail; and as the Rev. John Macrae's MS. history formed the chief written authority at my disposal, I have felt justified in continuing the genealogy of the Inverinate family as the direct lineal representatives of Fionnla Dubh Mac Gillechriosd.

It might seem hardly worth while recording some of the lists of names given, without dates or any other particulars, in the genealogical portions of the book, but no such list has been given without satisfactory reasons for believing it to be correct, as far as it goes. Some of those lists will probably be recognized, as their own families, by readers in the Colonies and also in the United States, where the descendants of Macrae emigrants from Kintail are both numerous and prosperous, and the interest taken by some of them in the preparation of this book shows that they have not yet lost the traditions of their Clan or forgotten the home of their fathers.

It is hoped the Appendices will add somewhat to the interest of the book. Very much more might have been written about Kintail did space permit, and for the same reason the collection of poetry is much smaller than was originally intended. The Royal descents in Appendix F are given on the authority of Burke's genealogical publications, and various Mackenzie genealogies. It has not been found possible to identify all the place names in Appendices H and M, probably because of the way they are spelled, but though the spelling of the original documents has been in almost every case retained, most of the names will be easily recognized.

It is needless to say that this book could not have been written without the help of many generous friends, some of whom are no longer within reach of this expresion of my gratitude -- among them Sir William Alexander Mackinnon, K.C.B., Captain Archibald Macra Chisolm, Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, the Clan Historian, and Mr. Alexander Matheson, shipowner, Dornie, one of the best read and most intelligent of Highland seannachies, whose acquaintance it was my misfortune not to have made until only a few weeks before his death, which occurred on the 14th of October, 1897.  In addition to the help acknowledged from time to time throughout the book, I am specially indebted to Mrs. Mackenzie of Abbotsford Park, Edinburgh (now of Portobello), for much information and help, and for many interesting recollections of more than one Kintail family; to Mrs. Alister MacLellan (of Ardintoul); to Mrs. Farquhar Finlayson, Rothesay; to Major John MacRae-Gilstrap of Ballimore, who was one of the first to take an interest in this work, and who, in addition to old family papers, placed also at my disposal a large quantity of material collected at his own expense in the Register House, Edinburgh; to Sir James Dixon Mackenzie of Findon, Bart., for the use of old and interesting documents in his possession; to Mr. William Mackay of Craigmonie, Inverness, for much help, given on many occasions, with a readiness and kindness, which to me will always form a pleasant recollection; to Mr. Horatio Ross Macrae of Clunes for the facsimile of signatures to the Macrae-Campbell Bond of Friendship, as well as for the use of documents bearing on the history of the Inverinate family; to the Rev. Donald Macrae, B.D., minister of Lairg, for much help and many valuable suggestions; to Professor Donald Mackinnon, M.A., Edinburgh, for information about the Fernaig MS., and for valuable suggestions about the extracts from it in Appendix J; to Mr. Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, LL.D., of Drummond, for the Kintail Rent Roll of 1756 in Appendix H; to Mr. John H. Dixon of Inveran for Appendix K; to Mr. P. J. Anderson, librarian of Aberdeen University, for Appendix L; to Mr. Alexander Macbain, M.A., Inverness, for the facsimile page of the Fernaig MS.; to Mr. Farquhar Macrae, Dornie; to Dr. Donald Macrae, Beckenham; to Major Frederick Bradford McCrea, London; to Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Carteret Carey of Castle Carey, Guernsey; to Mr. Farquhar Matheson, Dornie, who prepared the map, which is interesting as recording some old Kintail place-names now no longer in use; to my brother, Mr. John Macrae for help in the transcription of old documents; to my mother for help in the translations given in Appendix J; and to the publisher, Mr. A. M. Ross, and his foreman, Mr. John Gray, not only for putting up with inconveniences and delays caused by the fact that, in almost every case, the proofs were sent for revision to some members of the families whose histories are here recorded, but more epsecially for the never-failing courtesy and kindness which have made the passing of the book through the press a work of interest and pleasure.


Wandsworth Commons, London,
15th March, 1899

Notes by Graeme McRae (gen 17)

Changes have been made to the format of the information in this book to fit it to the web.  For one thing, I added this section to the Preface.  In addition,

Time zone.  The book has many references to dates relative to its publication date, 1899.  These dates have been made absolute.  For example, the "last century" was changed to the "eighteenth century".

Generation numbers.  The original text uses Roman numerals either before the name or in parentheses after the name to indicate the generation number of a person.  As Roman numerals get larger, they are harder to differentiate.  Though it's fashionable to despise the Arabs for various reasons, no one disputes their numbers are easier to read.  So generation numbers are given in parentheses as "gen" followed by a number.

Spelling.  British spelling was changed to American spelling.

Hyperlinks.  Every name, phrase, or word that has an explanation somewhere in the text is made into a hyperlink.  The browser will present it as underlined, and in a different color from the rest of the text.  The reader may click the hyperlink to jump to the explanation of the name, phrase, or word.  Then he may continue reading from there by clicking yet another hyperlink or return to the place he jumped from by clicking the "Back" button of the browser.  In most cases, the explanation of the name, phrase, or word is not contained in the original text as an entire single topic.  So a new topic is created for each explanation, with information paraphrased from the original text, indented, beneath a link to the topic from which the information was paraphrased.  Great care was taken to ensure the paraphrased text does not state inferences from the original text as fact.  Thus the final result is faithful to the original text.

Closed.  These web pages make a closed group.  No hyperlinks will link outside this group of pages unless clearly identified as such.  Thus it is nearly impossible for the reader to get "lost".

Flow.  Hyperlinks work better in most browsers when large documents are broken into smaller sections, with each section on its own web page.  So I created a web page for every topic (or in some cases group of related topics) in the Table of Contents.  As a result, some topics begin abruptly.   In case the reader hyperlinked to the topic he needs the context of the previous topic to make sense of the current one.  So I added a sentence, indented and parenthesized, at the beginning of such topics alerting the reader to the previous topic, and providing a hyperlink for him to follow.  In addition, to allow sequential reading of the material, each topic ends with the word "Next" followed by the topic that appears next in the Table of Contents.

Family Tree.  A new page was added that puts in one place the names of all people referenced in the original text.

Web Search.  A new page will be added in the future that allows the reader to search for keywords anywhere in the text, and then jump directly to a page containing those keywords.

New ways to read the text.  With the conversion to web format, and with the added features of the browser, come new ways to read the text.  The reader may read it sequentially, and may follow hyperlinks as previously mentioned.  In future the Web Search will be a new way to read it.  In addition, the reader may go to a page with a large list of information (such as the Contents or the Family Tree) and use the brower's "find" command to find names or words.