History of the Clan Macrae


Fionnla Dubh Mac Gillechriosd (gen 1), the reputed founder of the Clan Macrae of Kintail

According to the Rev. John Macrae, the founder of the Clan Macrae of Kintail was Fionnla Dubh Mac Gillechriosd (Black Finlay, the son of Christopher), who was removed by two or three generations from the man who came from ClunesFinlay Dubh was a contemporary of Murdo Mackenzie, fifth chief of Kintail, who died in 1416, leaving an only child to succeed him.  This child's name was Alexander, and is known as Alister Ionraic (Alexander the Upright).  Alexander being a minor at the time of his father's death, was sent as a ward of the King to the High School in Perth, probably after the Parliment which was held at Inverness by James I. in 1427.  During his absence at school, the Constable of Ellandonan Castle, whose name was Macaulay, appears to have been left in charge of affairs, but through the misconduct and oppression of certain illegitimate relatives of the young chief, serious troubles arose in Kintail.  The Constable's position becoming now somewhat difficult, he became anxious for the return of his young master, and as he was himself unable to leave his post he proposed Finlay Dubh as the most suitable person to go to Perth to bring the young chief home, "who was then there with the rest of the King's ward children."  This choice was approved by the people.  Finlay accordingly went to Perth, and prevailed upon Alexander to escape from school without the consent or knowledge of the master.  To avoid pursuit they went to Macdougal of Lorn instead of going straight home.  Macdougal recieved them kindly, and Alexander made the acquaintance of his daughter, and afterwards married her.   In due time they arrived in Kintail, and by Finlay's councel and help, the oppressors of the people were soon brought under subjection, and order established throughout Mackenzie's land.  The good counsel and judicious guidance of Finlay Dubh was not lost upon Alexander, who became a good, just and prosperous ruler, and greatly increased the power and influence of the House of Kintail.

Finlay Dubh's Family

Finlay Dubh had two sons --

1. Christopher, of whom below.

2. John, who was educated at Beauly Priory, took holy orders, and became priest of Kintail,1 in Sutherlandshire.  He married, as priests in the Highlands often did in those days, and had a daughter Margaret, who was lady-in-waiting to the Countess of Sutherland, and who appears to have married John Gordon of Grummoy, son of Adam Gordon, Dean of Caithness, son of Alexander, 1st Earl of Huntley.2   From this marriage descended the Gordons of Embo, and for that reason we are told that "there was of old great friendship and correspondence betwixt the Gordons of Sutherland, come of this family, and the Macraes of Kintail."

Next: Christopher and His Family (gen 2)


1. Kintail was the old name of a district in the north-west of Sutherlandshire, which was divided, about the middle of the [eighteenth] century, into the parishes of Tongue and Durness.  The name Kintail -- Gaelic, Cintaille, or Ceanntaile -- is said to mean the head of the two seas -- a description which applies to the Sutherland Kintail as well as to the Ross-shire one.

2. Reference is made at some length to this Margaret in The Earls of Sutherland by Sir Robert Gordon, who speaks of her in the highest terms.  The Rev. John Macrae's account of the marriage does not agree with Sir Robert's in every point, but there is no doubt that Margaret was related to the Macraes of Kintail.