History of the Clan Macrae


House of Kintail

See The Connection of the Macraes with the House of Kintail:

There do not appear to have been any Macraes settled in Kintail as landholders before this, but it is more than probable that several of them had already been in the service of Mackenzie.  It is said that Ellandonan Castle was garrisoned by Macraes and Maclennans during the latter part of the thirteenth century, when it was first taken possession of by Kenneth, the founder of the House of Kintail.1   The newly arrived Macrae of Clunes, however, took precedence of the others, and he and his family gradually assumed a position of great importance in the affairs of Kintail.  So loyal were the Macraes in the service of Kintail that they became known as Mackenzie's "shirt of mail."  This term was generally applied to the chosen body who attended a chief in war and fought around him.  It would thus appear that the bodyguard of the barons of Kintail was usually compsed of Macraes.  But in addition to the important services they rendered as mere retainers of the House of Kintail, the Macraes were for many generations Chamberlains of Kintail, Constables of Ellandonan Castle, and sometimes Vicars of Kintail, so that the leading members of the Clan may be said to have taken, from time to time, a much more prominent part in the affairs of Kintail than the Barons themselves did.  This continued to be the case until Kintail passed out of the possession of the Mackenzies in the early part of the [nineteenth] century.

It was always the privilege of the Macraes to bear the dead bodies of the Barons of Kintail to burial.  At the funeral, in 1862, of the Honorable Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie, daughter and representative of the last Lord Seaforth, the coffin was borne out of Brahan Castle by Macraes only.2  The scene was not without pathetic and historic interest.  This lady was the last of Seaforth's race, who was a Mackenzie by birth, and it is a remarkable fact that at the funeral, in 1881, of her son, Colonel Keith William Stewart Mackenzie, in whose case the name Mackenzie was only an adopted one, the Macraes, although they claimed their old privilege, did not muster a sufficient number to bear the coffin, and the vacant places had to be supplied by the Brahan tenantry.  With the funeral of Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie, then, may be said to have ended for ever the intimate and loyal connection which existed for five centuries between the Macraes and the house of Kintail and Seaforth.