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Coigach, a remote and scenic part of the Highlands, for all it's beauty and peaceful appearance today, has a past full of intrigue and struggle, and in spite of its remoteness the simple tenants and subtenants who lived there over the centuries repeatedly became entangled in wider struggles that affected the history of Scotland.

Through the middle ages the MacLeods of Lewis held Coigach, till a fratricidal war in the late 1500s destroyed the family, brothers killing half-brothers and cousins, fathers imprisoning sons, and being locked up in turn. One of the claimants to Lewis and the other MacLeod estates was Torquil Conanach MacLeod. Holding Coigach, he defeated an invasion by 600 Lewis MacLeods led by his half brother, Torquil Dow MacLeod.

Coigach became a MacKenzie possesion when Torquil's eldest daughter and heir, Margaret, married Roderick "Rory" MacKenzie, "the Tutor of Kintail". Margaret and the Tutor became founders of the family that became known as "of Cromarty", and whose descendants today include the current Chief of Clan MacKenzie, the Earl of Cromartie.

The seventeenth century was a time of religious turmoil, with the surplant first of Catholicism by Episcopalianism, followed in turn by Presbyterianism. During that troublesome time the Royal family of Scotland, the Stewarts, also gained the throne of England by marriage and inheritance, and lost it twice! James VII of Scotland and II of England was deposed in 1688 and the thrones claimed by his daughter Mary II jointly with her husband William of Orange from Holland. The tenants and subtenants of Coigach survived that turbulent by following their landlords, the MacKenzies of Cromarty, whose own success in navigating the complex politics of the day led to their gathering several titles, land, and wealth.

The deposed James VII and II in 1715 returned from exile, landing in Scotland to raise an army and fight to regain the throne. Some clans stayed loyal to the government, others, such as the MacKenzies under their Chief, the Earl of Seaforth, rebelled, or "came out" in support of "the Old Pretender". (That Earl's father had followed James into exile, and fought for him in Ireland).

The 1715 Rebellion failed, James fled back to France, The Earl of Seaforth was attainted, his titles forfeit, although he again participated in the smaller rebellion of 1719. The tenants and subtenants survived the wars and retributions as best they could, as they had many times before.

In 1745 James, "the Old Pretender", was getting to old to raise armies and lead rebellions, however his son, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, felt his own time had come, and with promised aid from the French he set sail for Scotland, and raised the Stuart banner there, rallying the clans, and becoming known to his followers as "Bonnie Prince Charlie", or to his detractors as "the Young Pretender".

The Earl of Seaforth died before the 1745 Rebellion, his lands but not titles returned. His son still suffering from the punishment following the 1715 Rebellion decided not to raise the clan for Charlie. He declared the MacKenzies would remain loyal to the government.

However, Seaforth's cousin George MacKenzie, Third Earl of Cromarty, after much prevarication declared for the Prince and raised a Regiment in Rebellion. Soldiers in the Regiment were mostly poor farmers from his estates, their officers were mostly "Tacksmen", the principal tenants who rented directly from the Earl, and then sublet to the rest. This file regards the fates of some of those officers.

The following transcription and notes are based on two documents from the U.K. National Archives. There is a separate "National Archives of Scotland", but as these refer to evidence in a trial in England, they are stored at the U.K. Archives at Kew. I have expanded abbreviations for this transcription. In the handwriting style of the time there were not paragraph breaks in the pages, I have taken the liberty of adding them where they look appropriate to me.

The first document, reference number TS20/108/10, the cover page is noted;

State of the Evidence against
Colin MacKenzie
Roderick MacKenzie &
William MacKenzie

The inside page reads;

Colin MacKenzie

These Witness says that upon the return of Lord Cromertie's Regiment from Caithness to Dunrobin Castle says he saw the prisoner with said Regiment he was with was an officer, that the Prisoner was not in it above 14 days before he was taken at Dunrobin Castle with Lord Cromertie

      Donald Munroe No. 1

      Donald Frazier No. 8

      Mr John McKay, Esq.

Roderick MacKenzie

These Witnesses says that the Prisoner marched from the first with Lord Cromertie's Regiment to Perth and was in the Regiment at the Battle of Falkirk and was constantly with it every where else. That at Perth the Examinant heard him say that he did not like the course he was engaged in and wished to be at home with his Family but was afraid of Lord Cromertie - when the Regiment dispersed upon their return from Falkirk the Prisoner went home but heard him say that he was forced to join again upon the Recall of the Regiment at Dingwall and that he marched with the Regiment into Caithness to Recruit(sp?) Men for (???????sp?) and returned with it to Dunrobin Castle where he was taken with Lord Cromertie.

      Donald Munroe No. 1

      Donald Frazier No. 8

      Mr John McKay, Esq.

William MacKenzie

These Witnesses says that upon the return of Lord Cromertie's Regiment from Caithness to Dunrobin Castle he saw the Prisoner with said Regiment. That the Prisoner was in it above 14 days before he was taken.

      Donald Munroe No. 1

      Donald Frazier No. 8

The second document, reference number TS20/102/55, has cover page noted (handwriting indistinct, possible mistranscription);

Mr Bishops Notes of the Evidence Deponed of the MacKenzies

The first page reads;

Witnesses for the Prisoner Hector MacKenzie

James Robinson Minister of Lochbroom

      Has known the Prisoner seven years, says he is a Tenant of Lord Cromertie and got the Commission of a Forrester a year before from him, lives in his Parish. Says about October 1745 MacKenzie of Orloch and MacKenzie of Keppock came to his Parish with an Order to raise his men for Lord Cromertie the Design was concealed, thought my Lord was for the King and the men raised to defend my Lord against the Rebells. The Rendezvous was next Town to his Parish, did not like to see honest People to be imposed upon.

That he and another went to the Rendezvous and asked why they raised the Men and desired to see their Orders which they would not shew. Heard the Design was to join the Rebels. Says the Prisoner and another told them they believed they designed to join the Rebels that he would Guard his Master but would not Join against the King for that he had given 1000 to Propagate Christian Knowledge. That Prisoner went off with the Body of the People.

The Man then that alarmed the People was taken up and proposed to hang him and searched for ropes and sayed they must hang some of them. Orlock and Keppock endeavoured to perseuad the People their Design was otherwise. They then were carried to Castle Leod and staid some days. The People deserted in 3 or 4 days. The Prisoner was one from the Castle upon which Orlock and Keppock came again with Orders of Military Execution tho he has not seen them. Upon which Orlock and two more prepared to fall upon the People, plundered 2 or 3 houses, bound the People, drove off their cattle &tc

Cant trace them further till March. Knows no actual force used. About 2 March he was near Dingwell, Prisoner and another came upto him and said this is the 3rd time I have deserted from Lord Cromertie &tc

About 10th or 12th March Ordlock and Keppock and another came to the Country with burning orders from Lord Cromertie and sets them forth in haec verba. Was assured Prisoners cattle amongst some drove away. Prisoner then came in pursuit of his cattle to Lochbrum and desired his cattle upon which they took him Prisoner and sent his cattle home and told him he would make him smart for his frequent dissertion.

Says a Party of Barrisdale came upon the same account. Says a House was burnt in Lord Seaforths Country. Says they were in full arms.

Upon 14th saw the Prisoner confined. Upon 15th March 3 servants of his were forced.

Evan Macclean a Schoolmaster

      Known the Prisoner 10 Years and that he lives at Lochbrum that he went to Castle Leod came back again, Ordlock and Keppoch came,

The second page reads;

Prisoner absconded and his cattle taken away, Prisoner came to his house for his cattle the Officers being there. Saw the Prisoner in October in custody of a guard under Ordlock and Keppock arend(sp?). Speaks(sp?) likewise to the 14th March of his being carried away again.

      John McCray

      Speaks to the same Effect with the last Witness.


      Witnesses for the Prisoner Roderick MacKenzie

   James Robinson Minister of the Parish

In October 1745 Ardlock and Keppock came to raise men in Coigach to guard Lord Cromertie as they pretended that upon that the Men met and the witnesses and another went to advise them, called for Orders, refused and denied it being informed by one that they were raised for rebellion and speaks to the effect spoken as to Hector MacKenzie.

Prisoner said he would go home upon which they said they said they would hang him but escaped and goes on as in the case of Hector MacKenzie as to their coming first back from Castle Leod.

Says about 20 October Prisoner came to him with 5 armed men and sayd he was a Prisoner taken and his cattle taken away. Did not see him after till March about 25 more were with them.

In March he was where Prisoner lives when the next day he regretted his hardships in the Rebellion and said he would rather live any where and how than be in the Rebellion.

13 March his cattle taken. About 35 Rebels at Coy [indistinct, either "Country" or "Coigach"] Saw Prisoner in their custody in the curtain said he was taken upon a search after his cows and that Orlock and Keppock and all were using him very ill.

Saw him again the next day when Witness was taken a Prisoner. Says he was guarded as the other 2 were. Knows not what became of him after.

Was looked upon as well affected to the Government being a Presbyterian.

            Evan McClean a Schoolmaster

      After Prisoner deserted saw him at home upon which Desertion a party went after them and took the Cattle, Prisoner absconded Orlock and Keppock came to Witnesses House. Prisoner said "O! I am ill used by you! My Cattle are killed tho' my Lord Cromertie's Servant, I will not go with you. I would follow my Lord if in a right cause. My Lord Cromertie will curse the day you was born" Upon which Orlock struck him with a Cane and bid his Party take hold of him which they did and carried him off. Orlock's Party were about 60 & armed.

      Says in latter February or March Prisoner and another came to Witnesses House but would not stay least a Party should take him and therefore must be

The third page reads;

Concealed. went to C. a Party then came back that had followed him. Saw him then being the time when Witness Rob[ertson] and the other were taken Prisoner, Guard was placed over Prisoner and at the door of the House. All the Rebels then were about 60 in number there.

This file, and others dealing with history and genealogy of Coigach, links from my homepage at:


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Donald MacDonald-Ross, at:

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