Saturday, April 25, 2009

John Iain Ciar MacLeod

John Macleod, commonly called " Iain Ciar," succeeded his father, Malcolm Gillecaluim MacLeod
as fourth Chief. He received a charter from King Robert II. of Troterness and all his other lands in Skye. The Macleods of Lewis had at this time possessed themselves of the east side of Troterness, which was exchanged by Iain Ciar for Vaternish, a part of Skye, which continued in the possession of the Macleods of Lewis until the ruin of that family in the reign of James VI.

Iain Ciar is said to have been a most tyrannical and bloodthirsty despot, equally feared and hated by all his vassals, and even by the members of his own family. His wife appears to have been as cruel as her husband, for tradition says that she ordered two of her daughters to be buried alive in a dungeon in the Castle of Dunvegan, for having attempted to escape from her tyranny with two lovers of the name of Macqueen, who then possessed Raasay under the Abbots of lona. The two brothers were seized, and after being emasculated were flogged to death, and their bodies were thrown into the sea.

John Macleod, fourth Chief, who married a daughter of O'Neil, had, besides four daughters, 1, idalcolm, who appears to have inherited much of the bad qualities of both his parents. His career was, however, short, for he was slain by the brother of his intended bride in a quarrel at a feast in Lewis, where he had gone to espouse the daughter of his kinsman, Macleod of Lewis. This fact gave rise to various feuds, which lasted for a long time, between the two great families of Macleod.

John Ciar once went to Harris to be present at a deer hunt, and, according to the usage of those times, was accompanied by the chief man of his clan. The " frith," or chase, of Harris had formerly belonged to, and was still partly held by, the Clan Mhic Ceathach, or " Children of the Mist," who paid tribute to Macleod, and the son of their Chief accompanied Macleod to the hunt. When the deer were collected in the valley, within view of the Chief, he missed a favourite white hart, which he valued highly from its singularity of colour, and declared he would be amply revenged upon its destroyer, at the same time offering a large reward to any one who would discover the offender. An enemy of Mac Ceathach pointed to the young man, who was immediately seized by order of the Chief, and at once put to death in a cruel and barbarous manner, by having the antler of a large stag forced into his bowels. The sport, however, continued, and ended as usual, alter which Macleod returned to Rodel, with the view of sailing to Dunvegan, where he then- usually resided.

The galleys were ready to sail, the wind was favourable, and all was prepared, when the Chief, accompanied by his wife and followers moved from his dwelling at Rodel to the place of embarkation. As he was stepping into his ship, an arrow whizzed through the air, pierced his side, and at the same time the war cry of the Mac Ceathachs announced their approach. The Macleods were wholly off their guard, but made a stand round their fallen Chief, and by the heroic valour of William, the Chief's second son, the " Children of the Mist" were driven to the mountains, not, however, before several of the principal men of the Macleods had been slain. Lady Macleod had in the meantime gained one of the galleys, when her women, in their alarm, cut the cables and let the vessel drift out to sea. A storm- followed, in which she, and two of the natural daughters of the Chief, wno had accompanied her, perished, being driven on to some rocks at Idrigill, on the west of Skye, which have ever since been called Macleod's Wife and Maidens. The largest of these rocks is over 200 feet high, and is called " Nic Cleosgeir Mbr;" the others are about 100 feet high. The Chief was carried to the Monastery of Rodel, where he died the same evening, and his body was taken to lona for burial. His eldest daughter married Lachlan Maclean of Duart. His second married Cameron of Lochiel.

Macdonald, Lord of the Isles, laid claim to a part of Macleod's lands in Skye, as a marriage portion of his wife, Margaret Leslie, but their claim William Macleod by no means acknowledged ; so Macdonald invaded his territory. The Macdonalds were commanded by Alastair Carrach (brother of the Lord of the Isles), who was slain in this conflict by Tormoid Caol Macleod, the cousin of William, fifth Chief (being the son of Murdo Macleod, the Chief's uncle). Very few of the Macdonalds escaped, as their galleys were taken in Loch Eynort by Mac- kaskill, who put every soul on board to death, and earned their heads to Dunvegan.

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