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Alexander (Alasdair Carrach) MacDonald, 1st of Keppoch

Male Bef 1380 - Abt 1443  (~ 63 years)


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  • Name Alexander (Alasdair Carrach) MacDonald  [1, 2
    Suffix 1st of Keppoch 
    Born Bef 1380  [2
    Gender Male 
    Died Abt 1443  [2, 3, 4
    Person ID I6347  Ghillebride
    Last Modified 21 Jan 2020 

    Father Iain (John) 'the Good' MacDonald, 7th Lord of the Isles,   b. 1326,   d. 1387  (Age 61 years) 
    Mother Margaret Stewart,   b. Bef 1348,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 1358  [5
    Family ID F1828  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Mary de Levenax,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Yes, date unknown  [2
    Last Modified 24 Aug 2015 
    Family ID F12444  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • 1- Alasdair Carrach raided Skye in strength, fighting the Battle of Sligachan in 1375 (or 1395?). Tormod Coil MacLeod of Gesto turned the tide at this battle slaying the MacDonald leader believed to be Alasdair Carrach - but this cannot be correct as Alasdair also fought at Harlaw in 1411 and continued to live in Lochaber still in 1432. Alasdair Carrach, became the progenitor of MacDonell of Keppoch He was granted the Isle of Lewis in 1343 by David II, ten years after having briefly sided with Edward Balliol.

      2 - The founder of the family of Keppoch was ALASTAIR CARRACH MACDONELL, 3rd son of lan, 7th Lord of the Isles (d. 1387), by his 2nd wife, the Lady Margaret, dau. of Robert, High Steward of Scotland, afterwards King ROBERT II., 1370-1390. Mentioned in a Deed of 1398. In 1402 he burnt Elgin, and fought under his brother Donald, 8th Lord of the Isles at the battle of Harlaw, 1411. He also fought in the battle of Inverlochy, 1431, and was s. by his son.

      3 - ALEXANDER, LORD OF LOCHABER, 1st CHIEF of KEPPOCH
      Alasdair Carrach (ca 1390 - ca 1443)
      DEAN Munro in his M.S. History of the MacDonalds has described Alasdair Carrach as "the fairest haired man as they say of aney that ever was". The word "carrach" however, has a less complimentary meaning. Alasdair probably had a number of warts among his facial characteristics. He received as his share of his father's patrimony, the Lordship of Lochaber, which included the lands of Lochy, Glen S pean and Glen Roy. His seat appears to have been firstly at Tom a' Charraich, near Torlundy, (MacDonald Bards) and later at Tor Castle, near Banavie (Celtic Monthly).
      On 5th September, 1394, Alasdair Carrach, as Lord of Lochaber, entered into an agreement with the Earl of Moray by which he undertook to protect all the possessions of the Regality of Moray and all the church lands in the province for the space of seven years. The Earl had, by a previous agreement, bound himself to protect these very same lands, but the marriage between the Wolf of Badenoch and the Countess of Ross in 1383, and the subsequent acquisition by the Wolf of the Earldom of Ross, had caused him to seek the protection of the Lord of Lochaber. By the terms of the agreement Alexander further undertook to protect the Earl and his property against all comers with the exception of the King, the Earl of Fife and the Lord of the Isles. In return, he was to receive from the Earl, 80 merks per annum and his support against all save the King, the Earl of Fife, the Earl of Mar and Alexander Lesley, heir to the Earldom of Ross. The death of the Wolf of Badenoch in the same year influenced events and made it impossible for the terms of the treaty to be carried out.
      Donald, 2nd Lord of the Isles, in the interest of his wife, who was a claimant to the Earldom of Ross, quietly watched events and when the struggle began for the lands of the Earldom, he allowed his brother, Alasdair Carrach, to lead a strong force to Loss Ness side which was laid waste. Castle Urquhart was attacked and seized by the Lord of Lochaber and Glen Urquhart plundered by his followers. The rebellion was short lived and the Lord of the Isles and his two brothers, John Mor of Isla and Alasdair Carrach, were charged with treason. The two elder brothers submitted and were pardoned while the blame for the insurrection was conveniently taken by the Lord of Lochaber who was "imprisoned" by his brother Donald but soon released.
      Alasdair was soon in trouble with the church over lands which he had distributed among his supporters. These included lands in Glen Urquhart with the keeping of Castle Urquhart to his loyal friend Charles MacLaine, a son of Lochbuie. On the 20th November 1398, a complaint was made against Alasdair by the Bishop of Moray for having the Church of Kinmylies and given the lands of Upper Kinmylies to one Ranald Mac Alexander and those of Lower Kinmylies to John Chishoim of the Aird besides having assigned the fishings of Lower Kinmylies to John White, a burgess of Inverness. Alasdair is here styled "Magnificus Vir et Potens Alexander de Insulis Dominus de Lochaber".
      In 1402, when his bond was up, Alasdair Carrach took his revenge on the Bishop leading a strong body of his followers to Elgin where he raided the canonry, burnt most of the town and carried off spoils. For this he was threatened with excommunication and he thereafter repented and paid compensation for the damage done.
      In 1411, the Lord of the Isles again attempted to enforce his claim to the Earldom of Ross. In this campaign he was ably supported by his brother, Alasdair Carrach. The Lord of Lochaber fought by his brother's side at Dingwall where the islesmen defeated the Sutherland clans under Angus Dubh MacKay, but is supposed not to have been allowed by his brother, Donald, to take a large part in the Battle of Harlaw "lest the whole of the brothers should be hazarded at once" (Hugh MacDonald's MS History).
      Alasdair ably supported Donald during the rebellion of their brother, John Mor, instigated by the Abbot MacKinnon. The rebellion was eventually quelled and the brothers reconciled.
      After the death of Donald, 2nd Lord of the Isles, in 1425, the treachery of the King, James I, resulting in the assassination of John Mor of Isla, at the hands of the King's agent, James Campbell, and the seizure of Alexander, the new Lord of the Isles and most of the principal chiefs at Inverness, in 1427, and the subsequent execution of some, including Alexander of Garmoran, a leading Macdonald chieftain, fanned the flames of rebellion and the fiery cross was sent through the dominions of the Lordship whenever Alexander was released. The army of the Isles, which included Alasdair Carrach and his followers marched, in 1429, through Lochaber, wasting the crown lands as it went and seized and burnt the town of Inverness. With the approach of the Royal Army and the desertion from the Banner of the Lord of the Isles by the Clans Chattan and Cameron the rebellion was soon quelled. After a series of reverses, Alexander surrendered to the King and was imprisoned in Tantallon Castle.
      If the King thought the imprisonment of their Chief would quieten the Islesmen, he was much mistaken. In 1431, Alexander's cousin, Donald Balloch, son of John Mor of Isla, raised once more the Standard of rebellion in Sunart and called on the neighbouring clans to join him in attacking the Royal Army which was encamped before the Castle of Inverlochy. Donald Balloch set sail, with his followers, for lnverskippinish, two miles south of Inverlochy, where he remained until his force increased. He sent messengers to his uncle, Alasdair Carrach, requesting him to make ready for a combined attack. The forces of the Lord of Lochaber are said to have consisted, on this occasion, of a body of 220 archers which took up a strong position of strategic importance on the steep side of the hill overlooking the Castle of Inverlochy. From this vantage point Alasdair Carrach directed his archers to shoot their arrows at the unprotected flank of the Royal Army when it was hotly engaged with the Islesmen to its front. After this murderous discharge the Lochaber men swept down the hill in all the fury of a Highland charge, before which the Royal flank gave way. (Hugh MacDonald's MS History).
      The Lord of the Isles was soon after released from captivity, but not before he had agreed to punish his relations who were responsible for destroying the King's forces at Inverlochy. Donald Balloch fled to Ireland for the time being and Alasdair Carrach, for his part in the rebellion, was dispossessed of all his estates. Most of his lands in Glen Spean and Glen Roy were granted to Malcolm Macintosh of Macintosh, Captain of Clan Chattan, who had fought on the Royalist side at Inverlochy, probably as compensation for what he had suffered as a result of the battle and almost certainly one of the conditions under which the Lord of the Isles was released. Alexander did not, however, grant Macintosh a charter for the lands until the year 1443, by which time Alasdair Carrach was probably dead. The Lordship of Lochaber was granted to the Earl of Mar.
      (Norman H Macdonald: The Clan Ranald of Lochaber - A History of the MacDonalds or MacDonells of Keppoch.)
      [ http://www.clandonald.org.uk/genealogy/notes.html ]

      4 - The acknowledged family name appears to have varied between Macdonell and Macdonald over the centuries before settling as Macdonald (or MacDonald).
      [ http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/mac/macdonald06.htm ]

      5 - The Earl of Lennox's daughter Mary married Alasdair Carragh 1st Chief of Keppoch, Dominus de Lochaber, son of the Lord of the Isles and Princess Margaret Stewart, King Robert II eldest daughter...
      Ranald Alasdair MacDonald of Keppoch [2, 6]

  • Sources 
    1. [S6] Stirnet Genealogy, Peter Barns-Graham, MacDonald06.

    2. [S7] E-mail, From Don Thompson rec: 12 Dec 2012 MacFarlane information f rom Bruce MacFarlane: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ances try.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=mygrtgrt & the Andersons from Ma bel Manz : http://madcitydon.com/candacraig/mabel_manz.ht ml.

    3. [S101] Burkes Landed Gentry 1937, (1937), p1457.

    4. [S67] Macdonald genealogy, Roddy Macdonald of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, (http://www.clandonald.org.uk/genealogy.htm), genealogy/d0001/g0000037.html#I0232.

    5. [S67] Macdonald genealogy, Roddy Macdonald of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, (http://www.clandonald.org.uk/genealogy.htm), genealogy/d0004/g0000050.html#I0045.

    6. [S101] Burkes Landed Gentry 1937, (1937), 2 - p1457.