A SHORT HISTORY By Flight Lieutenant C. R. MacKINNON, F. S. A. (Scot). R. A. F, 1958

Dedication To Commander Aurthur Avalon MacKINNON of MacKINNON, O.B.E., R.N. (Ret.) 36th Chief of the Clan And To The Much Honored, The Lady MacKINNON This History is Respectively Dedicated The Name


MACKINNON Was If you bear it, carry it through life like an ensign, for it is ancient and respected. Let not its honour be diminished while it is in your keeping.


Editor's Note

December 1993

Thirty-five years have passed since this history was written by Charles MacKinnon of Dunakin, hereditary seanachaidh (genealogist and historian) of the Clan MacKinnon. Since this history is out of print, it was not possible to procure a real copy. I took the liberty of entering this history upon a computer and updating it a bit. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to contact the author and I would be grateful if it were possible.

August 1997

The original conversion of this history to a digital format was done as a present for my immediate family. The current version is a futher conversion to a World Wide Web format.

I request that this editor's note be included on any copy of this document.

Bryan MacKinnon


All members of the Clan MacKinnon will be grateful to the author for this short clan history, which shows that we can boast of being one of the oldest clans. Numerically we are few, but individually we are as proud as anyone of our name name and ancestors.

MacKinnon of MacKinnon


I hope that those who read this book will derive as much pleasure in doing so as I did in writing it. My original purpose was to provide a convenient history for my children, and I urge all who find the book good to recommend it to the younger generation. They, as always, are inheriting a world full of wrongs to be put right, and where can they find better inspiration for the onerous task that is theirs than where men have always found it - in the noble deeds of their forebears ?

C. R. MacKinnon.


I would like to than Commander The MacKinnon of MacKinnon for his interest, encouragement and support and also for the time he spend in considering and approving the manuscript; the Lord Lyon King of Arms who found time during a very busy season to give help and advice; and last but not least my wife who assisted in correcting the script in all its stages.


 Editor's Note
 The Beginnings
 Clan Lands
 The Chief
 Clan Tartans
 The MacKinnons and Iona
 The History of the Clan MacKinnon to 1746
 From the 14th Century
 The Forty-Five
 Modern Times
 Sept Names of the Clan MacKinnon
 The Chiefs of the Clan MacKinnon
 Clan Badge, War-Cry, etc.

Chapter I The Beginnings

The medeval descent of this small by ancient, honourable, and by no means insignificant highland clan, has been traced by the 11th-century Irish annalist Tighernac as being from Fergus the Great, the king of Dalriada, who died in 502 A.D. The family trees in the possession of the clan, on the other hand, trace the descent from he famous monarch Alpin, father of that Kenneth MacAlpin who, as all Scottish schoolboys know, became first king of the Picts and Scots in 843.

Whatever the actual beginnings may have been, the clan was without any doubt one of that confederation known as Siol Alpein, a group of ancient clans each tracing its decent back to King Alpin. The other clans in this confederation are the MacGregors, the MacNabs, MacAulays, the MacPhies, Grants, and MacQuarries.

In the present day there are three or four times as many so-called clans as there were in 1746 when the diaster of Culloden threw open the highlands, and there is much argument to be heard about antiquity and authenticity. MacKinnons may stand aside from such argument - their authenticity and antiquity as a highland clan are beyond dispute.

A lot has been written in recent years about what exactly constitutes a clan, and we are fortunate in having a Lord Lyon King of Arms who has brought to the study of Scottish clans not only an admirable scholarship, but a splendid enthusiasm which have made available to the student much important information and guidance. The clan is simply a family, at least in essence. Specifically the word "clan" is used to refer to the highland clans which were, and are social groups consisting of an aggregate of distinct families each professing descent from a common ancestor, all bound in loyalty to a chief who is the representer of that common ancestor or, if you like, founder of the clan.

The highland clan was thus bound together not only by reason of its common place or places of residence but by a real kinship, and the chief, whether duke, baron, or esquire, was not only undisputed monarch within the limits of his clan, but was also the loved and respected kinsman of his humblest follower.

This relationship between the meanest clansman and his noble chief is responsible for much of the natural dignity and native nobility of the highlander. The realness of this relationship, even today, may be illustrated by the fact that when new patents of arms re being granted to clansmen they are based upon chief's arms in such a way that a connection between clansman and chief is apparent. The Lord Lyon records a case where a grant of arms was refused until the grantee agreed upon arms indicating his connection with his chief.

This our highland clan is, as we originally said, fundamentally a family, a group of persons of common stock acknowledging a common ancestor, and owing and giving their loyalty to a chief who is representer of that ancestor.

The Clan Lands

The clans lands were originally in Mull, where between the 10th and 12th centuries the MacKinnons were a powerful clan. Their principal possession was the district of Mishnish, but they also held for a time Gribun and Ichkenneth and the island of Eorsa. After Bannockburn, Bruce rewarded the chief of the MacKinnon with the lands in Skye. At the height of its prosperity, in the early 14th century, the clan held lands in Mull, Arran, Tiree, Perthshire, Ross and the Isle of Skye. However the chief residence of the clan came to be the county of Strath (of Strathaird) in Skye. Donald Munro, Dean of the Isles, in 1594 described the MacKinnon possessions in Skye :-

"The Castill of Dunnakyne, perteining to M'Kynnoun; the Castill Dunringill, perteining to the said M'Kynnoun; the county of Straytsnardill, perteining to M'Kyunnoun." He also records that the isle of Pabay, off Skye "perteins to M'Kynnoun" and "The Island of Mulle also pertiens partly to M'Kynnoun."

Skene, quoting from a document probably intended for the use of James VI, mentions a castle in Skye "callit Dewnakin" and records 20 merklands in Mull belonging to MacKinnon. The clan were hereditary custodians of the standards of weights and measures to the Lords of the Isles. In addition a family of MacKinnons were hereditary standard bearers to the MacDonalds of Sleat and had township of Duisdalbeg as a reward.

A description of the lands parted with after the unsuccessful attempt of 1745 is revealing. They included Kyleakin, Assig, Pabbay, Islet, Brechish, Sadamess, Corrychatachan, Torrin, Kinlochsligean, Kinlochnadale, Gambhoil, Harraboll, Neist and Broadford with its change house and mill. There remained after this a small territory in Skye and the lands in Mull, all of which, alas, were lost during these troublous times when chiefs, who could not easily be disposed of by other means, were starved out of existence.

Alghough it was never one of the large clans, we can see that it had numerous and fairly extensive possessions. The loss of the possessions was an economic result of the grim measures used to "restore order" in the highlands after the '45, the last of the clan lands being parted with in 1791. The loss of manpower (we shall see later that the clan only just recovered from a loss of 200 fighting men in time to lose most of them again in '45), accounts for the present smallness of the clan. We must bear in mind however that a chief of the Hebrides who could raise 200 fighting men, as the MacKinnons could, was a principal chief and a power to be reckoned with in those islands.

The Chief

Not many people know that the chief of the clan can trace his decent back to the famous "Hammer of the Scots," King Edward I of England. He is not only really descended from Scottish kings, but is 22nd in direct line of descent from King England I.

The arms of the chief of the Clan MacKinnon are:- Quarterly 1. Vert, a boar's head erased argent, holding in its mouth the shankbone of a deer proper; 2. Azure, a castle triple-towered and embattled argent, masoned sable, windows and portcullis gules; 3. Or, a lymphad, sails furled, the oars saltirewise, flags flying, gules; 4. Argent, a dexter hand couped fesswise, holding a cross crosslet fitchy, sable. Crest, a boar's head erased, holding in its mouth the shankbone of a deer, proper. Supporters, dexter a lion, sinister a leopard, both proper. Mottoes; above, "Audentes fortuna juvat" and below "Cuimhnich bas Alpin." Lyon Register 11, 64 XXXVI, 153.

The legend of the boar's head tells how the chief of MacKinnon was hunting wild boar on the shores of Lock Scavaig. He had outdistanced his attendants and sheltered for the night in a cave, where he kindled a file and broiled some venison. He lookup to see a savage wild boar in the entrance to the cave, about to attack him. In his hand he held a large bone from which he was cutting slices of meat. As the brute charged, he thrust his arm into its throat, holding the jaws wide open with the bone till he had time to kill it with his hunting knife. So goes the story. Rennie, in his book "In the Steps of the Clansmen," discounts such legends, and attributes cats, boars' heads, and other animal crests to a survival of ancient tribal totemism. His theories may be correct, so far as the boar's head is concerned, but do not account for the distinctive MacKinnon addition of a deer's shankbone in its mouth.

Mention of the arms naturally to the once vexed question of the validity of the present family's right to the chiefship. John, the 31st chief, died in 1808 without issue. The right to the name and arms of MacKinnon of MacKinnon then passed to the direct descendants of Donald, second son of Lachlan Mor, 28th Chief. Donald had emigrated to Antigua.

Well over a centry later, MacKinnon of Corrychatachan petitioned for these arms. Now apart of form any question of whether or not he would have had a better claim, the law of Scotland is that any petition putting forward a counter-claim of this nature must be lodged without 40 years of the grant of arms. In other words, the petition was too late by about 95 years. It was not allowed. After all, by the time several generations of the Antigua family had enjoyed the rights to these undifferenced arms, and with them the chiefship.

There is no question of unrightful inheritance. The 1811 petition of William Alexander MacKinnon M.P. for Dunwich, was not challenged, and after investigation of his claims, his petition was allowed and the arms passed to him. Forty years later prescription passed upon the decree of 1811 and confirmed for all time this grant. The present chief is in every sense of the word the rightful chief. The fact that the Clan Society at one time advertised for claimants, and formally recognized W.A. MacKinnon of MacKinnon as 34th chief, although evincing a fitting sense of fair play, is completely immaterial. Clan societies have the power neither to create nor reject the chiefs of clans, who are determined in the courts of chivalry under the laws of arms (as provided by Scottish parliamentary statues), and regardless of what any society may think. Nevertheless it si reassuring that in this case the society was able to recognize as their chief the man who WAS in fact the chief of the clan.

The reader may think that this is a spirited defence of what may have been originally a poor claim. I have beside me as I write cuttings from the "Weekly Scotsman" of October 21st, 1911, which while again unfortunately stressing the efforts of the clan society to find other claimants in 1891 (the arms were granted to the present family in 1811!!!) bring interesting facts to light and show that the Antigua branch has in any case the best claim even if a petition by another branch is considered.

One may perhaps regret that the matter was never tried in the Lyon Court (the counter-petition being much too late to be heard); but no one need for one moment doubt the validity of the present chief's title.

The Clan Tartans

The Clan MacKinnon has two Tartans; a red sett known as the clan Tartan, and a green sett known as the hunting Tartan. This was the case anciently as well as today, for in the Vestiarium Scoticum, which is based upon a black letter quarto of the 16th century, these Tartans are described (although not in very exact detail):-

"Clan Kynnon . . . . hath ae greene sett, and ae red sett quharoff the grein is of two greit stryppis and throuch ye mydward of ylk ither redd sett ane stryp of quhite, and throuch ye ylk efter ane stryp blak and nae mair."

A brief description, of course, but very similar to the present-day MacKinnon Tartans.

The MacKinnons and Iona

The clan was intimately connected with the ecclesiastical history of Iona from early times.

Logan gives the true etymology of the clan name as "Son of Finan," and Finan has been variously written as Fhinain, Finin, Finwyne, and Fingon. Finan is one of the most ancient of Celtic surnames, being borne by kings in the days before our national history begins. Five priests of that name were contemporary with Saint Colomba. After the abbacy of Iona passed from the family of Columba (the old priesthood was hereditary in the days before the Roman church forced celibacy on its clergy), it went to a family of MacKinnons. It was in Iona also that the chiefs of the clan were buried, together with the Lords of the Isles, chiefs of the MacQuarrie, MacLean, and other island chiefs. Innes of Learney describes the abbots of Iona up to the death of abbot MacKinnon as being princely and noble rank. John MacKinnon, who was the last abbot, died in 1500. His tomb is still to be seen in Iona cathedral. The tomb of this abbot's father, Lachlan, is also in the cathedral, and is inscribed with the date 1489.

This connection with the history of the Iona Church is of special interest when we consider the friendship between the MacKinnons and the MacNabs. MacNab is a form of the older Mac An-aba - son of the abbot. MacNab and MacKinnon, in their well-known bond of manrent, acknowledged themselves as being of one surname and lineage, and the MacNab seems to have regarded himself as being a sort of subsidiary branch of the MacKinnon. This incidentally would have no administrative significance, the MacNab being as much a chief to his own clan as the MacKinnon was to his. But it all explains the tie between the chiefs of the two clans.

To conclude this chapter, mention must be made of the MacKinnon Chalice, a highly-chased silver chalice in the possession of the clan to this day. It is known to have been buried in Iona during Cromwell's ravaging of the English and Scotthish churches. An expert some years ago gave its probable date to as 1607, and pronounced it to be very valuable. However the tradition behind the chalice is that it belonged to the last abbot of Iona, the John MacKinnon who died in 1500. It is certainly an ancient, beautiful and valuable object, and a fitting procession for a clan having so honourable a connection with the scared Isle of Iona.


Early History

The progenitor of the clan was Findanus, second son of Doungallus, eldest son of Prince Gregor who was the 3rd and youngest son of King Alpin. Between 880 and 900 Findanus obtained the estates of Tobermory, Mull, the clan's first principal seat. Findanus also occupied Findanus Castle in Skye, although at this time the MacKinnons had no connection with Strathaird or Strathardale which from the early 14th century was its principal possession for over 400 years.

Perhaps the best-known story of the days when the clan were settled in Mull is the one about the MacLeans of Duart and Lochbuie, who were anxious to seize MacKinnon's lands in Mishnish. They took advantage of the young chief's to occupy these lands and expel the clansmen. MacKinnon, on hearing of this, sailed to Ireland where his friend the Earl of Antrim gave him 40 fighting men to help him. On his way to Skye to raise his northern followers the chief landed on Mull to see how matters stood. An old clanswoman still living there (her reputation as a witch had saved her banishment by the MacLeans) told him that Duart and Lochbuie were lodged in Ledaig House without sentries, and that their followers were sleeping off the effects of a carousal.

MacKinnon collected his followers and made every man cut and trim a fir caber. The chief chose a fir with all the branches on and, surrounding Ledaig House, the stuck the cabers in the ground. MacKinnon's untrimmed one was planted outside the front entrance. Over the doorway of the room in which Lochbuie and Duart lay sleeping he placed his naked sword. He then withdrew. Next day the MacLean chiefs realized what had happened and how they had been at the mercy of the MacKinnon and his followers. They at once restored the lands to the chivalrous young chief.

It was during the Mull days that the MacKinnon's Cave, which is opposite Fingal's Cave, took its name. During a feud between MacKinnon of Grinbun and the MacLeans the MacKinnon sheltered there from his enemies till he could escape to Skye.

Also during this period the Mull MacKinnons grew into great favor with the Lords of the Isles, and were governors of their castles and masters of the households; and the family of MacInnes were the hereditary bowmen to the MacKinnon chiefs. (Innes of Learney however says that they were bowmen to the MacKinnons of Skye, and they may therefore enter the scene at a later period in history.) Much of the MacKinnon history is bound up with that of the greater family of the Lords of the Isles, and the chroniclers unfortunately neglected the doings of the lesser clans in their history of the ruling clan.

As a result of sheltering Bruce in Arran before the battle, and for the their support at Bannockburn, in 1314, Bruce rewarded the chief of the clan with lands in Skye.

From the 14th Century

After the death of John, Lord of the Isles, circa 1350, MacKinnon took part in the rebellion against the heir to the Lordship, and was hanged for his trouble. As a result, in 1354, an indenture between the Lord of the Isles and the Lord of Lorn stipulates that the keeping of the castles in Mull and the Castle of Kerneborg in the Treshnish Isles were not to be given to any Clan Finnon! In 1390 we find the MacLeans had charters for the keeping of these castles, but shortly afterwards, according to the history of the Clan MacLean, the MacKinnons were reinstated in honour as marshalls to the Lord of the Isles. A little later the MacLeans killed the MacKinnon chief and forced MacDonald of the Isles to swear on the Black Rock of Iona that he would not punish them. Whatever the reason for this exploit, of which there are two versions, we find in 1409, on 1st November, that Lachlan MacFingon, vir nobilis, 19th chief, witnessed a charter by Donald Lord of the Isles to Hector MacLean of Dowart (Duart). So the quarrels seem to have been patched up.

Towards the close of the 14th century the magnificent property of Strath, in Skye, measuring 26 miles by 6, and forming a large portion of the island, came into the possession of the MacKinnons, and the clan history is bound up with this property from then till the lands were lost in the Stuart cause. The island of Scalpay, off the Skye coast, was also a possession during these four centuries.

For a period we only have snatches of the history. In March 1503 MacKinnon was one of the chiefs mentioned in the Acts of Parliament to be written to, to act against Lachlan MacLean of Dowart and Lochiel, both forfeited for treason.

In 1513 Neill MacKinnon of Mishnish appears at the head of the clan. In 1517 he and MacLean of Dowart petitioned the Regent for free remission for all of their offences, which was granted on 12th March 1517.

Henceforth the MacKinnons and the MacLeans, whose past relations had been chequered, seem to to have been firm friends, often acting together, and never again quarrelling.

The 23rd chief, Eoghan Ruadh nan Cath (Red Ewen of the Battles) of Straghuordill, was summoned before Parliament by acts dated 1513 and 1545, and charged with treason. The summons was deserted in 1546. In 1541 Red Ewen assisted the MacDonalds of Sleat in attacking Ellandonan Castle. In 1542 Ewen received a charter from the King for 20 merklands of Mishnish in Mull, and 20 merlkands in Skye. This charter, "Carta Eugenii MacFingone," is preserved in the Record Office, Edinburgh. Ewen is named as one of the Barons and Council of the Isles who in 1545 went to Knockfergus in Ireland to treat with Henry VIII of England under the direction of the Earl of Lennox acting as Regent.

In 1578 an order from the Privy Council was sent to MacKinnon and MacLean of Dowart forbidding them to assist Colin, 6th Earl Argyle, against Glengarry.

In 1587 the MacKinnon took the part of the MacLeans against the MacDonalds in one of the great highland feuds. MacLean was taken prisoner and two of the MacKinnon's sons were given as hostages before he was restored. The hostages were forcibly recovered by James VI. In 1589 the MacLean feud with the MacDonalds broke out again and the MacKinnons once more supported their friends, and took part in the battle of Bern Bige.

In 1601 Lachlan, the 26th chief, entered into a bond of friendship with Archibald, 7th Earl of Argyle.

In 1606, on 12th July, the bond of manrent between Lachlan MacKinnon of Strathadrill and Finlay MacNab of Bowaine was entered into at Uir. In it the chiefs declared that they were of one surname and one lineage and MacNab seems to have deferred to MacKinnon as his chief.

MacKinnon was one of the 12 chiefs who in 1609 met the Bishop of the Isles at Iona and took part in enacting the famous Statutes of Icolmkill.

IN 1613 knighthood was conferred on Lachlan, and in 1615 he was appointed one of the commissioners of "fire and sword" against the MacDonalds of Kintyre and Islay.

Sir Lachlan's estate of Strath was erected into a Barony by Charles I on 15th January 1628, and he appears to have died soon afterwards.

Sir Lachlan's son was Jon Balbhan, the dumb, who married a daughter of MacLean of Coll. John died in suspicious circumstances and was buried at Castle Dunara, his stronghold in Mishnish. A tree which grew on the grave was blood red in color, both bark and leaves, and was only cut down in the mid-nineteenth century.

The new chief, Lachlan Mor, succeeded at 13, and was sent to Inveraray Castle for safety where Archibald 8th Earl and 1st Marquis of Argyle, who commanded the Covenanters against Montrose, sheltered him. Oddly enough, although the young chief sheltered with Argyle, the clan was out with Montrose! In 1649 Lachlan attained his majority and to his youthful shame let it be recorded that, having married a daughter of MacLean of Duart, he sided with his father-in-law against Argyle. MacKinnon is said to have 200 clansman at his back, and in the rout which followed, the justly outraged Argyle ordered no quarter for the easily recognizable MacKinnons. The slaughter was felt by the clan for 100 years afterwards.

During Lachlan's minority which lasted till 1649, the clan, as already stated, declared for the Crown and joined the standard of Montrose. They fought at Inverlochy, 2nd February 1645, and at Auldearn, 5th May, 1645. It is related that at Auldearn Ranald MacKinnon of Mull was keeping some pikemen at bay when he was pierced through the cheeks by an arrow. Badly wounded by pike thrusts he reached the entrance of a garden defended by Alasdair MacDonald, Colkitto. He was hotly pursued and as the first enemy thrust his head under the gate, Colkitto swept it off with one blow of his claymore. The head fell against Ranald's thighs. MacDonald cut away the arrow and Ranald's speech was restored.

Those readers who are familiar with Mr. Maurice Walsh's stirring tale of Montrose, "And No Quarter," will recognize this story as the source of his tale of Ranald Ban MacKinnon. Indeed Mr. Walsh gives the story more or less as it is related in the "Memories of Clan Fingon" first published in 1882, except that he, like the author of the Vestiarium Scoticum, was under the impression that the MacKinnons were part of Clan Donald and not part of the Siol Alpin.

Returning to Lachlan MacKinnon, whom we left unwisely harassing Argyle, his powerful former benefactor, we find him in 1650 as colonel of a regiment raised by Act of Leavie dated 23rd December 1650 for the Royal Cause. He fought at Worcester on the fateful 3rd of September, 1651, and saved the life of the King, Charles II, who created him a knight banneret on the field of battle - a rare honor and, if true, the last record of a soldier being royally knighted on the field. Some however claim that John Smith who was knighted at Edgehill in 1642 was the last authentic case, and infer from that the story of Lachlan is a myth.

By this time the clan had lost so many men that one wonders that there were any males left. Two generations' respite was given to them to breed the men who took part in the final a glorious struggle to place the Stuarts on the British throne.

During this period of respite, in 1671, another bond of manrent or friendship was entered into between Lachlan Mor and James MacGregor of that ilk, which mentions that they "are descended lawfully fra two breethren of auld descent." Presumably this refers to Doungallus and Findanus, grandson and great-grandson of King Alpin.

This is another instance of two of the clans of the Siol Alpin entering into bonds hundreds of years after their beginnings and firmly setting down their common descent; the earlier being between MacKinnon and MacNab in 1606. Another piece of evidence concerning the common ancestry of the Siol Alpin is mentioned by James Alan Rennie in his book "In the Steps of the Clansmen." In it he says that a Gaelic manuscript of 1450 preserves the genealogy of the MacPhies and shows their origin to coincide with that of the MacGregors and the MacKinnons.

Also during this period occurred the incident by which Lachlan Mor estranged Donald his second son by his first wife. At the hunting party Donald unintentionally displeased his father who, not hearing his apology, struck in front of the others. Donald at once quitted his roof and went to Antigua where he changed his name to Daniel. The other foster brothers who rowed him to the mainland were banished to Jura by Lachlan Mor. When the direct line failed in 1808 it was to the direct male descendants of this Donald that the chiefship passed, the Lyon decree being dated 1811.

The 'Forty-Five'

Ian Dubh grandson of Lachlan Mor, was born in 1682, and was thus 33 when he took the part of James Stuart in the Rising of 1715. Six years earlier James had received a report on the state of the clans, and the MacKinnons and 12 others are described as "loyal" and "able to bring very good men to the field."

The description, the most flattering in the list, was prophetic. The MacKinnons served the Stuarts, especially Prince Charles, with notable distinction.

Ian Dubh managed to muster 150 fighting men and joined the Earl of Seaforth in time to take part in the battle of Sherrifmuir on 13th November, 1715. He was attainted for his efforts, after the rising failed. The estates were saved thanks to the disinterestedness of Grant of Grant (another of the Siol Alpin chiefs).

Ian was pardoned in 1727 according to some authorities, and according to others was still under attainder when on 18th July 1745 Prince Charles landed at Eriskay. The banner was unfurled at Glenfinnan on 19th August and old Ian (he was now in his 64th year), with 120 men, joined the Prince near Edinburgh. The number was subsequently increased, possibly to as much 250.

This number in proportion to the total population of the clan is almost unique and redounds to its eternal honour.

The march into England began on 31st October, 1745, and while nearly half the loyal clans were not represented AT ALL on this expedition, the rest had lost large numbers by desertion. But the two exceptions - and there were only two - were the MacDonalds of e Glencoe (another clan whose fame has outstripped his numerical strength) and the MacKinnons of Strath. Each showed an INCREASE of 20 men when the march from Carlisle to Derby commenced. Had the Prince been as well served by his great leaders as he was by his minor chiefs, the rising might have been successful and the whole history of Britain and America been altered. The figures, for those interested, are as follows. The clans who joined the Prince were 22 in number. Of these, only 10 accompanied him into England; and of these 10 only tow did not suffer from loss by desertion, but actually increased. Well may the modern MacKinnon fell proud at thoughts like these.

Prince Charles has been one of the most slandered men in history until, in recent years, historians have swept away much of the Whiggish facade of distortion to present us with a truer, clearer picture of the most romantic figure in Scottish history. But whatever one's personal views on the Stuart dynasty, the loyalty and devotion of the MacKinnons is inspiring.

On the 16th of April 1746, the Stuart hopes crashed utterly and finally and Culloden. It is on record that the Chief of MacKinnon was present at Tain on 15th April 1746 (the day before the battle) when Lord George Murray and the principal officers of the army assembled in council in the presence of the Prince. Murray of Broughton says that the MacKinnons were with the force which, under the Duke of Perth, defeated Lord Loudun in Sutherland. This has been taken as meaning that they were not with the army at Culloden. But Perth defeated Loudun on March 20th and rejoined the army before the battle, which accords with the account that the MacKinnons fought in the centre of the front line beside their old friends the MacLeans. The chief could thus have been at the council.

A serious piece of evidence is given by Donald Nicholas who says (p. 106 "The Young Adventurer").

"The Earl of Cromatry, together with Barrisdale, Glengyle and MacKinnon, were later sent into Sutherland to try to recapture money, £12,000 and stores which had been seized from "The Prince Charles" in the Pentland Firth. They were surprised by Lords Sutherland and Reay on 15th April at Dunrobin Castle, and Cromarty was taken."

This appears to be complicating, but the possible solution is that the MacKinnon force was split and that a party of MacKinnons, perhaps under the leadership of Captain John MacKinnon, went to Cromarty, while the chief and others remained with the army. It is rather difficult, otherwise, to understand how the chief came to be among those who planned to re-rally the clans at Archnacarry, Lochiel's home, shortly after the battle. The evidence that the clan fought at Culloden seems fairly sound and the chief's advanced age would incline one to believe that he would remain with the main force rather than be sent on a special expedition.

One might reasonably think this small but significant clan had done its bit. But perhaps the finest incident in the clan history is still to come. ON the 4th July 1746 the Prince came to Ellogal in Skye, with £30,000 in his head, to seek shelter in the friendly MacKinnon country.

Shelter he found among these his most loyal followers, and he finally escaped with the help of the old chief. After a close brush with the militia, he was taken to the seat of Angus MacDonald of Borrodaile. The words of the old chief when Charles, rejected by MacDonald of Morar, showed his distress, are worthy of record:

"Never cried the old man, tears in his eyes, "Never will I leave your Royal Highness in the day of danger, but will under God do all I can for you and go with you wherever you order me."

Years later Charles narrated this scene to the Pope who, on hearing of the devotion of the chief and his clan, exclaimed "If the Church failed to procure wine for the Eucharist, the Church could not find a purer substitute than the blood of MacKinnon."

One wonders of the Pope really did say exactly that; but he probably did express his admiration in glowing terms.

The old chief and his henchman were captured the day after the brought Charles safely to Borrodaile, and were sent to London. For a year the chief was a prisoner at Tilbury Fort and the Tower. On being tried for his life he was pardoned in view of his advanced years and his release was pronounced by Sir Dudley Ryder, the Attorney-General. As the chief was about to leave the court, the judge asked him what would he do if Prince Charles was again in his power.

The gallant old gentleman proudly replied.

"I would do to the Prince as you have done this day to me - I would send him back to HIS OWN country."

On that high note, possibly the most glorious that the clan history, or any other clan history for that matter, holds, we leave Ian Dubh MacKinnon of MacKinnon, 29th chief of his clan. He died at his house in Kilmorie, Skye, on the 7th of May 1756, aged 74.

CHAPTER III Modern Times

John grandson of Ian Dubh, the gallant old hero of the Forty-Five, died unmarried and in tragically reduced circumstances in 1808, the 31st and last of the chiefs of the Kilmorie line. Succession passed to the descendants of that Donald who, as previously related, emigrated to Antigua after a quarrel with his father Lachlan Mor, the 28th chief.

Donald (alias Daniel) died in Antigua in 1720 and his eldest son William died at Bath in 1767. William's eldest son William, died at Binfield, Berks., in 1809 aged 77. He was therefore actually 32nd chief of the last year of his life, but probably did not know it. His eldest son had died during his lifetime, and the was survived by his grandsons the eldest of whom, William Alexander, was recognized in 1811 by the Lord Lyon King of Arms as the 33rd chief of the Clan MacKinnon in succession to his grandfather William (who, as we said, was unwitting 32nd chief for a year).

It is not necessary to discuss the merits of the hypothetical claims of other branches. The chiefship is now firmly settled in accordance with Scottish law, and in any case it is a sound genealogical succession.

The family of these MacKinnons of Antigua has produced some notable soldiers and statesmen. Two successive chiefs of the clan, the 33rd and 34th, were Members of Parliament. Several distinguished generals belong the family, which has played an important part in the history of the Brigade of Guards, as well as in the Royal Navy in which service the present chief spent many years.

General Henry MacKinnon, uncle of the 33rd chief, and who was killed at Cuidad Rodrigo, was a personal friend of Napoleon, and young Napoleon actually proposed to the hand of his sister Eliza. Their father William (32nd chief) refused the suit. The friendship was not abated and Southey has referred to it as "one of the redeeming points" of Buonaparte's character that he never forgot his attachment to the MacKinnon family." It is on record that the Emperor granted a free pass through France, even during the Napoleonic wars, to every member of Henry's family. He also maintained a friendly regard for Henry's mother and frequently used to ask about the "good Madame MacKinnon." The value which the Duke of Wellington placed on Henry's services is attributed, inter alia, to having refused an offer of Napoleon's to make him a Marshal of France. Southey compared the country's loss, when General MacKinnon was killed at Cuidad Rodrigo, with the loss occasioned by Sir Philip Sidney's death!!

The eldest daughter of W. A. MacKinnon of MacKinnon, 33rd chief (1782-1870) married Agenor, Duc de Grammont, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. Among the possessions of the present chief is the beautiful sliver inkstand which was used to sign the declaration of this war.

Colonel Daniel MacKinnon, brother of the 33rd chief, wrote a scholarly and comprehensive history of his regiment, the Coldstream Guards, at a time when William IV called upon all officers commanding regiments to write such histories.

William Alexander the 34th chief was, like his distinguished father, a Member of Parliament. He was succeeded by his son, the late chief, Frances Alexander MacKinnon of MacKinnon, 35th chief of Clan MacKinnon, a splendid highlander of the old school and a grand old man in every complimentary sense of the word. He was a well known cricketer and, at the time of his death in 1947, at the age of 99, he was a dyoen of the M.C.C. and the sole survivor of the English team that went to Australia in 1879. His wife was daughter of Admiral Lord Hood of Avalon, and it is no doubt this, among other associations, that caused the present chief to adopt the Royal Navy as a profession. The chief's eldest son is Alasdair Neil Hood MacKinnon, younger of MacKinnon, who followed in his father's footsteps by serving in the Royal Navy during World War II. He lives, at present, in Somerset, and he has a son, Andrew, the main line is comfortably assured.

To write notices of individual clansmen would not only be an invidious task, but an enormous one. That great Englishman, Doctor Samuel Johnson, like Napoleon found friends among a family of MacKinnons. Moray McLaren, in his fascinating book "The Highland Jaunt," describes the visit of Doctor Johnson and James Boswell to MacKinnon of Corry in Skye. This was so much the highlight of the famous doctor's Hebridean tour, that Mr McLaren devotes a whole chapter of his book to it, and it is recommended to all clansmen.

It was a MacKinnon who laid the foundation of the British India Steam Navigation Company, and his name is still famous in East Africa and the Far East. It is a family of MacKinnons who manufacture, from a family recipe traditionally given to them by Bonnie Prince Charlie, the famous liqueur Drambuie.

In every walk of life - Church, State, the armed forces, learning and commerce - MacKinnons made valuable contributions.

Let the tale end fittingly with a notice concerning one member of the clan. In 1956, the Forty Five Association erected a cairn to mark the spot on the shores of Loch nam Uamh where Prince Charlie last stood on Scottish soil in 1746. The cairn was built by Mr. John MacKinnon of Arisaig, and when the cairn was unveiled by the Countess of Errol, hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland, it was this John MacKinnon who played the first piobaireachd. So it was that a descendant of the grand old chief, Ian Dubh, who served the Price so magnificiently, had such an important part to play in marking of the memorable spot.

Sept-Names of the Clan MacKinnon

Clan Badge, War-Cry, etc.

The Vestiarium Scoticum

The Vestiarium Scoticum has been largely discredited as its authors, although claiming the base of an ancient document, were never able to produce the document; and some of the Tartans described, particularly the lowland ones, are certainly bogus. However, although they ascribed Tartans to families who never dreamed of becoming Tartarnned until the reigned of George IV, there seem no real reason to doubt others of the Tartans belonging to clans who certainly were Tartanned anciently; and so the description is included here.
BACK TO HOMEAuthor: Bryan MacKinnon,