Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sir Roderick MacKenzie of Coigeach



Sir Roderick MacKenzie of Coigeach was the founder of the house of Cromartie, He was the first Baron. Born about 1574, he was the second son of Colin Mackenzie of Kintail. His father endowed him with his portion, which was the lands of Culteleod, also called Castle Leod. He acquired the barony of Coigeach through his marriage in 1605 with Margaret MacLeod, who was the daughter of Torguil or Torquill MacLeod, of Lewes. He acquired the lands of Tarbat not long before his death in 1626. He built Castle Leod in Strathpeffer, and it bears the initials of Roderick and Margaret on its massive walls. When his family achieved the earldom, they adopted Margaret's surname of MacLeod as one of their minor titles. He was known as a great man of influence from his own abilities and not because of his property or the guardianship he had for his nephew, Lord MacKenzie of Kintail's property.

Alexander Mackenzie relayed an old story about Roderick MacKenzie.
On an occasion, Roderick was passing through Atholl on his way to Edinburgh, in the interest of his nephew who was his ward. The men of the lord whose property he was passing through, stopped him and questioned him about passing through their country without permission. The Tutor , as Roderick was called, dismounted from his horse and went to a rock and began sharpening his claymore on it. The men asked him what he was doing. He replied, "I am going to make a road." "You shall make no road here," they said. "Oh, I don't seek to do so, but I shall make it between your lord's head and his shoulders if I am hindered from pursuing my lawful business."

When they heart this, they left and went to their master and told him what had happened. His Lordship replied, "It was either the devil or the Tutor of Kintail, let him have a free path for ever."

There is a proverb used in Ross-shire, "There are but two things worse than the Tutor of Kintail--frost in spring and mist in the dog days."

When Roderick MacKenzie married Margaret, daughter of Torquil Cononach of Lewis, he obtained her father's mainland possessions. They had been however, granted in 1605 to Kenneth MacKenzie, his elder brother. He bought Tarbat Ness(see photo of lighthouse on Tarbat Ness above) and Milton in Easter Ross from the Munroes.


Sir Roderick died at Castle Leod(see photo above) in 1626 at the age of 48,and was buried at Dingwall. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John Mackenzie, of Tarbat, who was created a Knight Baronet in 1628 by King Charles I.

His widow Margaret MacLeod married as her second husband Thomas Fraser.


Sources:
The Edinburgh Review: Or Critical Journal‎ - Page 5
by Sydney Smith, Francis Jeffrey Jeffrey, William Empson, Macvey Napier, George Cornewall Lewis, Henry Reeve, Arthur Ralph Douglas Elliot, Harold Cox - 1878

History of the Frasers of Lovat. To which is added those of Dunballoch and ...‎ - Page 536
by Alexander Mackenzie - 1896

History of the Mackenzies: With Genealogies of the Principal Families of the ...‎ - Page 600
by Alexander Mackenzie - Mackenzie clan - 1894
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