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Renfrew, and of the bailiaries of Carrick and Cunningham, the lower ward of Clydesdale, and the burghs of Dumbarton, Ayr, Irvine, Renfrew, and Paisley, at Dumbarton on the 20th August, and that he would proceed in person at their head to make measures against the rebellious Clan Donald. James, however, did not always ride when he saddled, and he had an unkingly antipathy to taking the field in person. In the end the Duke of Lennox, as Lieutenant over the Isles, was appointed to command the levies, with instructions how to proceed in dealing with the Islanders, but like other similar expeditions organised by James VI., it came to nothing. Not improbably this change of programme was caused by the fact that the centre of disturbance had shifted from Kintyre to Isla, where during the course of this same month of August there was fought one of the bloodiest and most memorable engagements in the annals of the Clan Donald. According to Gregory, it was towards the end of 1597, and before the fracas of Askomull, that Angus of Dunnyveg and Lauchlan Maclean of Duart patched up a hollow peace and combined their forces with the view, ostensibly, of aiding Queen Elizabeth against her Irish rebels. If any reconciliation took place, it must have been with Sir James, and, in 1598, after Sir James's violent action towards his father had occurred. Early in 1598, Maclean of Duart was organising the Irish expedition, in which Donald Gorme, his quondam foe, was to take the leading part. In the offers of the Chief of Sleat to Elizabeth,1 it is quite clear that the Askomull affair was past, that Angus was a prisoner at Smerbie, and that James was at the head of the Clann Iain Mhoir. The temporary co-operation of the Chief of Duart was with Sir James, and not with his father. These symptoms of more amicable relationships very soon passed away, and when Sir Lauchlan found that his overtures to Queen Elizabeth received no countenance, the earth hunger once more took possession of this restless and incorrigible chief, and he revived the ancient feud with Dunnyveg, this time not merely for the Rhinns, but the whole of Isla, in virtue of a Crown right wherewith he had been recently invested. Rightly anticipating that he would be opposed in taking Sasine, Sir Lauchlan assembled his whole force and invaded Isla. Sir James Macdonald, who was in Kintyre at the time, assembled a band of fighting men to resist this invasion of the ancestral rights of his family. Judging from the most reliable contemporary accounts, Sir James showed no unwillingness to meet his uncle's views in the way of compromise. He could hardly be expected, without a struggle, to surrender Isla, but he agreed to let Sir Lauchlan hold the half of it from him during his lifetime, and also to submit the controversy to the judgment of the King. Sir Lauchlan refused all proposals short of a resignation by Sir James of the whole island.1 This, of course, Sir James would sooner die than give in to, and, the mediation of friends having failed, both sides prepared for battle. Sir James, it is said, had a force numerically inferior, but this disadvantage was heavily discounted by the fact that his men were skilful warriors who had been trained in Irish warfare. A fierce battle was fought at a place called Traigh Ghruinneart, at the head of Loch Gruinneart. The Macdonald leader is said to
1 For these offera vide Appeudix.
have displayed some strategy at the beginning of the day. By making a semi-retrograde movement, he secured the advantage of getting his men posted on a hill, and at the same time avoided the discomfort which his adversaries experienced of having the glare of the summer sun in his eyes. In the end, the Clan Donald, having repulsed the Maclean vanguard, and thrown them back upon the main body, threw the whole force into confusion, with the result that they were totally routed, and the brave Sir Lauchlan, with 80 of his kinsmen and 200 of his common soldiers, were left dead upon Traigh Ghruinneart. Lauchlan Barrach Maclean, who was severely wounded, escaped with the survivors to the galleys. Nor did the Clan Donald get off scatheless. About 30 of them were slain and 60 wounded, while Sir James, who was dangerously wounded by an arrow through the body, was during most of the following night left for dead among the slain.1
Shortlv after this the Clan Maclean, under their Chief, Sir Hector, assisted by the Macleods of Dunvegan, the Camerons of Lochiel, and the MacNeills of Barra, are said to have invaded Isla, encountered the Macdonalds at a place called Bern Bige, and ravaged the whole island. According to the Maclean Seanachie, to whom we owe the account of this battle, the invasion of Isla by these confederate clans was in pursuance of a commission of fire and sword, but this statement is unsupported by the Records, and may be dismissed as unfounded. In after years Sir James was charged with Sir Lauchlan Maclean's death as a serious offence; but the fact that no action was taken against him for it at the time proves clearly that the Chief of
1 Conflicts of the Clans
the Macleans was the aggressor, and lost his life according to the fortunes of war.
We hear nothing of Sir James, who was probably laid aside for a considerable time by the severity of his wound, until August of the following year— 1599—when he appears before Sir David Murray of Gospartie, Comptroller of Scotland, submitting certain offers "containing the most sure way to establish the King's authority within the bounds of Kintyre and Isla." These offers were such as— in the circumstances—the King might be glad to accept, and were on the lines of his own previous injunctions. Sir James offered, on behalf of himself and his clan, to evacuate and leave at the King's disposal their whole lands of Kintyre, and not only to abstain from molesting any new tenants who might be placed there, but to support them to the best of their power. He offered to place the Castle of Dunnyveg in the hands of a Governor and garrison appointed by the King, and to assign 60 merklands in the neighbourhood for their support. He offered, further, for a grant of the remaining lands of Isla, amounting to 300 merkland, to pay £2 for every merkland, in all £600, and to give for the maintenance of his father a yearly pension of 1000 merks, or £670, wherever the King should appoint his father's residence. In pledge of all this he was to give his brother as a hostage, and to support him fittingly while in that position. These proposals were submitted to the Scottish Privy Council on 6th September, 1599, and actually approved of.1 It now seemed as if the Clann lain Mhoir were on the eve of less troubled and more prosperous times. The past seems to have been
1 Privy Council Records.
forgiven -their great enemy, Sir Lauchlan Maclean, had now ceased from troubling—and the way seemed clear for a final and peaceful settlement between the Dunnyveg family and the Crown. If, however, the Duart claim was no longer likely to be pressed with vigour, there were other and more treacherous foes whose game would have been entirely spoilt by the reconciliation which now seemed so near. It is no injustice to the memory of the Earl of Argyll and Sir John Campbell of Calder to aver that from this time onwards they left no stone unturned by dint of systematic roguery to consummate the ruin of the Clan Donald of Dunnyveg. About this time Sir James Macdonald formed a matrimonial alliance with the Calder family by marriage with a sister of Sir John's, and this connection led Sir James naturally to repose confidence in his advice which he would hardly otherwise have done. To his advice was it owing that Sir James took no action to give effect to the proposal, of which the Council had approved, doubtless in expectation of better terms. Further, the subsequent proceedings clearly shew that Argyll consistently took the side of Angus, to whom neither years nor experience taught prudence, as against Sir James, whose ability, education, and force of character would with fair play have placed the affairs of his family upon a firm and lasting foundation That Sir James threw away the chance of acquiring in heritage nearly the whole of Isla, at that time forfeited, showed that he was under the temporary guidance of friends that were "fair and false," whose governing policy as of old was the coveting of Naboth's vineyard. The duplicity of the Chiefs of Campbell, who were