OT: 13 August 1927 – Alexander Macrae “Chief of the Clan Macrae”

The Oban Times, 13 August, 1927

Chief of the Clan Macrae

 Shephall Directory, Stevenage, Herts., 6 August, 1927

Sir,–It is with no small reluctance that I return to the sordid controversy about the Chiefship of the clan Macrae, but I see that a memorial has recently been erected in Kintail to the late Sir Colin Macrae, who is described as the late Chief of the Clan Macrae.

With regard to this claim I should like to point out once more that it is as certain and has been as incontrovertibly proved as anything in history can be, that the Macrae’s never had, never claimed, and never served or acknowledged any other chief than Seaforth, whose clan they were in a very special sense.

Some years ago the Registry House in Edinburgh was searched by an expert for information about the Clan Macrae, but no reference was found to a Chief of that name. If there ever had been such a Chiefship how is it that it is the only Highland Chiefship of which no documentary evidence is anywhere to be found.

There is no evidence to show that the Inverinate family ever owned a single acre of land in Kintail. Such lands as they occupied they held like other members of their Clan from their Chief the Earl of Seaforth, and so far as I could ever learn there is not even a local tradition that any member of that family ever acted as Chief of his own or of any other Clan.

The Inverinate claim was investigated by the ablest lawyers in the court of the Lyon King, but not a scrap of evidence was produced in support of it. This was nineteen years ago, but no evidence of a Macrae Chiefship has yet been discovered, yet one documentary mention of such a Chiefship before the office of Highland Chief was abolished in 1747, might possibly be quite sufficient to establish this claim.

The present claimant has recently recorded arms in the Lyon Register. If he is a Chief or the lineal heir of a Chief, why has he not received the arms of the Chief?

The tradition of an Inverinate Chiefship appears to have been invented by a member of that family, who joined the Highland Society of London half a century after the Highland Chiefships were abolished by Act of Parliament. This was at a time when there was a great deal of irrelevant talk about Chiefships by men who had very erroneous ideas of Highland history. There are several ridiculous claims to Chiefships among Highlanders, but so far as I know these claims are usually to Chiefships the historic genuineness of which is not in question. The present case is the only one I know of in which a tradition of Chiefship had to be invented in order to form the basis of the claim.

There is a well-known MS. history of the Macrae’s, written by one member of the Inverinate family and continued by another, but that history contains no reference to a Macrae Chief. Seaforth is always the Chief and master whom these historians are proud to acknowledge and to serve. In this they showed more zeal for the honour and importance of their Clan than the present representatives of the family, who would make the Macrae’s the Clan(which can only mean the servitors) of a tenant farmer or at most a wadsetter, for that is what the heads of the Inverinate family really were. I therefore beg leave to protest as strongly as I can against all ill-advise and ignorant efforts to deny to my Clan the honour of the Chiefship of the great historic Earls of Seaforth, and I claim and expect the support of all the Macrae’s who are proud of their Clan and sufficiently intelligent to understand something of its true history.

To disparage the present claimant or any of his family is very far from being my desire. There is no way in which I should not rejoice to see them honoured, but I am not prepared to accept any tortuous reading of history that would seek to deprive us of our proud and undeniable Clan heritage of the Seaforth Chiefship.

I have asked the protagonists of the Inverinate claims over and over again, these last twenty years, to explain the points which I now raise, and to give direct answers to the questions I ask, but they have so far made no attempt to do so. “Let them therefore now speak, or else forever hereafter hold their peace.”–I am, etc.,

Alexander Macrae