Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hugh Uisdean MacDonald

Hugh of Sleat, also known as Uisdean, MacDonald was an illegitmate son of Alexander MacDonald, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross. Hugh's clan would become known as Clan Uisdean, or Clan Donald North.

Sources vary as to whether his mother was Elizabeth Seton or a daughter of Gillepatrick Roy, son of Rory, son of the Green Abbot of Applecross.

He was probably born in Dingwall Castle, not far from Inverness Scotland, which became the possession of his father Alexander MacDonald when he became Earl of Ross.

Some sources say he died at Paisley Abbey, Paisley, Scottland, and was buried at a place called Sand, on the island of North Uist. This place is called Clachan Shannda. Clachan means, a small village with a church. Shannda means, Sand or Sand Island in Norse. Alexander MacKenzie, wrote that he died in 1498.

Hugh received a charter from his brother John, for the lands of Sleat on the Isle of Skye, which lies off the western coast of Scotland. This happened in about 1449, when his brother was about 15 and Hugh was around 13. Despite the spelling, Sleat is pronounced "slate".

Besides Sleat,Hugh held lands under his brother John, in Uist, Benbecula and Garmoran.
the Orkney Islands with William Macleaod of Dunvegan and Harris and other chieftains in 1460.

Hugh was a powerful warrior and not only maintained his own rights, but ravaged

There are different opinions as to when Hugh became "of Sleat", but he signed a charter of his brother's in 1461 as Hugh of Sleat. Hugh received a royal confirmation of his lands in 1476, and it was reconfirmed on paper in 1495.

Hugh had six or seven other sons by different women, and at least one daughter.

Hugh's first wife was Fynvola Macian, daughter of Alexander Macian of Ardnamurchan,by whom he had a son named John, who was his heir. This John died without issue. John of Sleat, resigned his lands into the hands of James IV in 1505. He supposedly did this because he had no heirs and disliked his brothers. His resignation left his brothers with no legal title to their lands for a while.

Hugh had a son by the daughter of Gunn in Caithness. He was named Donald Gallach, which means of Caithness. History of the Western Highlands and Isles says that they were married.
Donald Gallach, became the heir after the death of his brother.

The History of the MacDonalds and Lords of the Isles says that he had a son named Donald Herrach, by a daughter of Macleod of Harris, who was the progenitor of the MacDonalds of Balranald and others in the Western Isles. Also listed is a son named Gillespic Dubh(Archibald).

The Black Book of Clanranald names the first four sons of Hugh: Eoin mac Huistiuin (John MacUisdean); Domhnall Gallach mac Huisdiuin (Donald MacUisdean); Domnhnall Hearach mc Huisdiuin (Donald Harris); and Giolla Asbuig mc huisdiuin (Archibald McUisdean)

When Hugh's brother John died, Hugh and his descendants, by virtue of being nearest realtive, became rightful representatives of the family. Hugh's great grandson Donald claimed right to the title, Lord of the Isles, but James V refused to restore the title, believing that its suppression was advisable in order to keep peace in the country, being well aware that this Donald's forebears had been very rebellious.

The descendants of Hugh incresed rapidly in the sixteenth century, and were known as Clan Huistein, or children of Hugh and sometimes Clan Donald north. The name of Clan Donald may have begun because the next six chiefs after Hugh's son John were all named Donald, and North being added to distinguish them from the Clan Ian Vor of Isla and Kintyre who were known as Clandonald also. The direct line of the MacDonald clan became extinct in the 16th century and since that time MacDonald of Sleat has been called in Gaelic, MacDhonuill na'n Eileen, or in English, MacDonald of the Isles.

All of Hugh's sons died violent deaths in the contest over his title, Chief of Clan Donald of Sleat. However, his line has carried down through Clan Donald to the present day. Lord Godfrey Macdonald is Chief of all Clan Donald, and Sir Ian Macdonald is Chief of Sleat. Sir Ian is also Premier Baron of Nova Scotia. Both men descend from Hugh.

Donald Gallach's son, Alexander, took the names of Hugh to Ireland, in 1565, to fight for his first cousin, Sorley Boy McDonnell, leader of Clan Donald South. Sorley Boy "and others" were the earliest known people to be noted as being "of the Scotch-Irish race", in a manifesto from Queen Elizabeth I, of 1573. In Ireland, the McQuiston, Hutchinson, and Houston names thrived as early members of the Scotch-Irish race, until immigration began, in earnest, to America.

Castle Uisdean was the last castle built on the Isle of Skye, by one of Hugh's descendants It is located on the Trotternish Peninsula of Skye, whereas Hugh of Sleat ruled from the Sleat Peninsula of Skye, at Dunscaith Castle.

The McQuiston Church, which still stands in Belfast, was once the largest Presbyterian congregation, with over 1600 children in Sunday School. McQuistons currently play major roles in peace efforts in Northern Ireland and the preservation of ancient Irish architecture. A McQuiston in Scotland is also instrumental in the historic preservation of DunDonald Castle.

In America, the legacy and family line of Uisdean is still alive and well.

From Hugh's line came Captain Jack McQuesten, Father of Alaska, Father of the Yukon. Jack was a principal grubstaker for hundreds of Yukon gold miners. He was a friend of the great American author, Jack London; he helped the Smithsonian collect rare samples of animals from Alaska; he was considered the expert on the border between Alaska and the Yukon Territory; and there is some evidence that Yukon Jack whiskey is named for him.

Hugh's descendants also played a substantial role in the American Revolutionary War. James McQuiston was a "spy on the western frontier" of Pennsylvania, for the Colonial Army. His first cousin, Thomas McCuistion, fought at the first battle of the Revolution, at Alamance County, North Carolina, in 1771. Thomas and his family fought at the last big battle of the Revolution, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, (also in North Carolina) where one quarter of Cornwallis's crack troops were decimated. Cornwallis took over the McCuistion homestead as his headquarters, just before the battle, as indicated in his own tactical log of the campaign.

There is also evidence that President Andrew Jackson may have had connections to Hugh of Sleat's family through his mother's Hutchinson name, and through his likely great grandmother, Jean McCuistion. Jackson also has another Clan Donald name in his lineage, that of Mary McRandall, so it seems without a doubt that he was of Clan Donald in one way or another. His best friend and protege, Sam Houston, was also very likely of Hugh of Sleat's family, as perhaps was Stephen F. Austin, another great Texas hero. Robert McCuistion, son of Thomas, was the first financier of Texas, giving Sam Houston a McCuistion family treasure worth approximately $25,000, in the money of the day, in return for 10,000 acres (40 km²) of Texas, the deed for which still exists.

His Sleat land was in the hands of the McDonalds of Sleat line until 1971, approximately 522 years. The Clan Donald Center on Skye still stands on Sleat land.

The Celtic magazine‎ - Page 218
by Alexander Mackenzie, Alexander Macgregor -1880
Hugh, often called “Austin” and “Augustine,” being a corruption of the Gaelic equivaletn of Hugh, i.e., Huistean or Uistean. He was styled Lord of Sleat, and married, first, Finvola, daughter of MacIan of Ardnamurchan, by whom he had John, his heir, who died withut issue. He married secondly, a lady of the Clan Gunn in Caithness, by whom he had issue, who carried on the succession, and whose descendants are now held, by general concurrence, to represrnt, as heirs male, John, lat Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, forfeited in these honors, respectively, in 1475 and 1494. A question has been raised about the legitimacy of Celestine(Hugh's brother) and Hugh, as well as of Hugh's descndants, especially Donald Gallach, from whom is descended the present Lord MacDonald of the Isles. Respecting Hugh, after describing the results of a successful raid under him to Orkney, Hugh MacDonald says, that “Having routed the enemy, Austin (Hugh) and his party began to ravage the country, that being the only reward they had for their pains and fatigue, with whih, having loaded their galleys, they returned home. Austine having halted at Caithness, he got a son by the Crowner of Caithness's daughter, of the name of Gun, which at the time was a very flourishing name there, descended of the Danes. This son was called Donald Gallich, being brought up in that country in his younger years; for the ancient Scots, until this day call the couty of Caithness Gallibh.”

Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A

History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, from A.D. ...
by Donald Gregory - 1836

History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles
By Alexander Mackenzie

Guide to the highlands and islands of Scotland, including Orkney and Zetland ...‎ - Page 577
by George Anderson, Peter Anderson - 1851

Chambers's Edinburgh Journal‎ - Page 111
by William Chambers, Robert Chambers - London (England) - 1852

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