OT: 27 May 1916 – DorMcCain [“The MacRae’s of Kintail”]

The Oban Times, 27 May, 1916

[The MacRae’s of Kintail]

6 May, 1916

Sir,–With reference to the letter by “Eilean a’ Cheo” in your issue of this date, giving a genealogical account of the MacRae’s of Conchra, I would point out for the benefit of such of your readers who are interested–particularly the MacRae’s from overseas who are helping the Country at the Front –that a full account of the Clan appears in the Clan “History” (by the Rev. Alex. MacRae, B.A., Dingwall, 1899).

“Eilean a’ Cheo” states that John Mhor MacRa of Conchra “was one of Seaforth’s civil officers, and commanded the Lochalsh Company at Sheriffmuir in one of the two regiments raised by the Earl of Seaforth.” It would seem, however, that John Mhor MacRa held only the subordinate rank of ensign. The officers appointed by Seaforth to the Lochalsh Company were:–John Murchison, Auchtertyre, Captain; George Matheson, Lieutenant; and John MacRa (of Conchra), Ensign. Were Murchison and Matheson present at Sheriffmuir? If so were they superseded by John Mhor MacRa? It would be of interest to know.

“Eilean a’ Cheo” in referring to the gallant Laird of Eilean Donan, Lieut.-Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap, who is in command of the 11th (Service) Battalion, the Black Watch, styles him “Constable of Eilean Donan Castle.” So far as I am aware, there is no proof that that designation has a legal basis–the only satisfactory basis.

In Scotland, in 1748, the office of heritable Constable was (with one notable exception) extinguished by the Act for the Abolition of Heritable Jurisdictions: consequently “Eilean a’ Cheo,” in his endeavours to find out whether an owner of Eilean Donan had held the office of constable thereof, would confine his search to legal documents executed before 1748. In that year the owner of the Castle was when the Mackenzie (Lord Fortrose by courtesy), for whom the forfeited estates of his father, the fifth Earl of Seaforth–attainted for taking part in the rising of 1715–had been brought from the Crown in 1741. It seems therefore that the question whether a present-day owner of Eilean Donan is entitled to the designation of Constable of Eilean Donan, depends upon whether such an office was conveyed by the Crown in 1741. The Castle was then a ruin, having been blown up in 1719, doubtless the deed of conveyance of 1741 is engrossed in the Registers preserved in the Register House, Edinburgh.–I am, etc.,