MacLeod Chieftans

HAROLD the Black King of Iceland
~1066- 1087 GODRED Crovan
Godred Crovan Haroldson, King of Man, Godred reigned sixteen years, died in the Island of Islay, left three sons. 1. Lagman. 2. Harold. 3. Olave or Olaus, a child at his father’s death and was succeeded by his eldest son. On the other hand his youngest son Olaf was still a child when he succeeded to the kingdom of Man.

~1102-1143 OLAF I the Red (Olaus the Swarthy)
Olaf I The Red Godredson (Olaf Bitling, Olaf Klining), appointed viceroy by King Magnus of Norway, styled as King of Man, married to 1 Ingibiorg, daughter of Earl Hakon of Orkney, 2 Elfrica of Galloway, from his first marriage sprang Ragnhildis, wife of Sumarlidhi Höld progenitor of Clan Donald after a peaceable reign of about 40 years. In 1140 an insurrection broke out but but was calmed with the help of Sumarlidhi Höld, he was treacherously murdered by the sons of his natural brother Harold, anno 1143, and was succeeded by his only lawful son.

1143-115 GODRED II Ochraidh Godred II The Black (Godfrey)OLAFSON
King of Man, son of Olaf and Elfrica of Galloway, married to Phingola (Fionghuala) Maclochlan, reigned until in 1158 his brother in law Sumarlidhi Höld (Somerled) defeated him heavily in a sea battle and tried to establish his son Dugall as King of the Isles. In 1164 on Somerled’s death he returned from Norway.

1158-1164 Sumarlidhi Höld porgenitor of Clan Donald established himself as independent ruler over the Hebrides, Man and Argyll after the death of Olaf the Red.

1164-1187 GODRED II the Black Ochraidh Godred II The Black (Godfrey) OLAFSON
King of Man, son of Olaf and Elfrica of Galloway, married to Phingola (Fionghuala) Maclochlan, reigned until in 1158 his brother in law Sumarlidhi Höld (Somerled) defeated him heavily in a sea battle and tried to establish his son Dugall as King of the Isles. In 1164 on Somerled’s death he returned from Norway.

ca. 1177-1237 OLAF the BlacOllaghair Olaf or Olaus Odhar Godredson
King of Man and the Northern Isles, married to 1 Lady from Kintyre, 2 Joan, 3 Christina Ross, daughter of Farquar, Earl of Ross, in 1223 Olaf succeeded to Man and the Western Isles by help of Paul Baalkason sheriff of vast estates on the Isle of Skye, seemingly also foster father of his son Leod. Olaf died 21.05.1237, Isle of St. Patrick. From here the Kingdom of Man and the Isles was succeeded by the descendants of Sumarlidhi Höld, namely by his son Rögnvald.

1237-1280 Ljótr (LEOD)
born ca. 1200, son of Olaf the Black, King of Man and Northern Isles and Christina Ross, ca. 1220 he acquired Dun Bheagan by marriage to the heiress of Gofra Macrailt Armuinn (Godfrey MacHarold the tax gatherer or the chamberlain) the norse skigerefa or Seneschal (Sheriff) of Skidh (Skye), styled “King of the Isles”, Ljótr gave the patronymic MacLeod (sons of Leod), possibly the island of Liodhús (Lewis) is also named after him. Some say that he seized Dun Bheagan adhering lands and the hand of his daughter by force from MacHarold coming assail from the north, but tradition has it, that he was a native Skyeman and ward of Paul Baalkaason, by some called “Lord of Skye” and inherited most of the lands from him after his death in 1231. He held Uist and Harris from Sheriff Paul , Llewis from his father, Glenelg from his grandfather, the Earl of Ross and Duirinish, Bracadale, Minginish, Lyndale and much of Trotternish by his marriage. He died ca. 1280 and was buried at Iona. From his marriage sprang two sons, Tormad (Norman) his successor (the clan sept being Siol Thormaid nan Sgiath but mostly called Siol Leòid) and Torcull (Torquil), the progenitor of Siol Torquil (Macleod of Lewis). Leod was buried in Iona.

1280-1320 TORMOD (Norman)
Tormod MacLeod of MacLeod of Harris and Dun Bheagan, born 1250, elder (?) brother of TORQUIL 2nd Baron of Lewis, progenitor of the MacLeods of Lewis (norse: Liodhús) Torquil was married to Dorothea Ross, their son Norman Roderick was 3rd Baron of Lewis. Tormod was married to Fingula (Flora) Maccrotan or to Christina, daughter of Lord Lovat. Tormod granted Waternish to his brother Torquil in whose line it remained for several centuries. He seems to have held part of his lands under the Earl of Ross, as in 1309 Robert the Bruce assigned Skye to that nobleman. Glenelg was in 1307 ceded to the Earl of Moray and held by him until 1314. Tormod most probably fought at Bannockburn. He died at Pabay his seat in Harris and was buried in Iona.

1320-1360  MALCOLM Calum Reamhar Math (the Fat and Good)
Malcolm MacLeod of MacLeod, born 1296, married to the daughter of Donald Stewart, Earl of Mar, thus a niece of Robert the Bruce. In 1343 he received a royal charter by David II granting him 2/3 of Glenelg. He may have been lent a royal mason to enhance Dun Bheagan Castle. Was entertained by Argyll (probably Gillespie MacCalein Campbell) and saved a Campbell clansman who had for some mischief he had done been sentenced to be crushed to death by a great bull. Gillespie had promised him the man’s life if he could save it from the bull and so Malcolm took the bull by it’s horns and to cries of “Hold Fast” defeated it. In another version he slew a bull with bare hands in Glenelg after having visited the wife of Clan Fraser’s chief. When she heard of the news she immediately left her husband for Malcolm thus starting a lengthy clan feud between Fraser and MacLeod. From one of these adventures he is said to have brought the famous horn later known as Rory Mor’s horn. He had four children, Ian, Norman of Harris, Murdo of Gesto and Fingula who married Alastair Ionraic Mackenzie 6th of Kintail. Malcolm died at Stornoway Castle and was buried in Iona.
From his third son, Murdo, sprang the MacLeods of Gesto (Clann ‘ic Mhurchaidh) who never paid service or rent to the chief until 1674 after the lands having been forfeited for the killing (in duel or as murder) of Gesto’s brother in law MacAskell of Ebost. After this the lands were held as a tack until in 1825 the renewal of the lease was refused by MacLeod of MacLeod. In 1365 to Murdo MacLeod of Gesto were presented a herd of fairy cattle whose descendants were bred at Gesto for centuries. The fairies had given him this as a reward for preventing some clansmen from destroying their Dun Taimh when building a new byre.

1360-1392  IAIN CIAR Ian MacLeod of MacLeod

born 1320, (received the fairy flag “Am Bratach Sith” in the 14th century, probably brought to Britain by Harald “Hardradi” Sigurdson, King of Norway from one of his viking-raids to the Middle East), married to a O’Neil woman. His older son Malcolm was killed when he seeked the hand of MacLeod of Lewis quarreling with his spouse’s brother. Besides his other son William and the daughters mentioned below he had another daughter who married Lachlan Maclean of Duart. Ian was known for his hot temper. Once when he found out that two of his daughters wanted to marry to two MacSwan brothers, his subjects, he had his daughters buried alive in the dungeon and their would-never-be husbands flogged and hurled into the sea to drown.
He was killed by an arrow in the back of his head after having one of his retainers disemboweled by the antlers of an albino deer which he had slain but Iain had reserved for himself in the previous hunt in Harris. He fell between the landing stage and the boat, his wife and daughters having already embarked his galley. In the confusion the galley drifted away without crew and oars and was shipwrecked at Idrigall Point, near “the Maidens”. Thus his wife and daughters were killed as well. Ian’s son Malcolm died young. In 1375 (or 1395)Tormod Coil MacLeod of Gesto fought the Battle of Loch Sligachan claiming to have slain and beheaded Alasdair Carrach, brother of John of Isla. But as Alasdair fought at Harlaw in 1411 there must be some mistake to the person whom he slew.

1392-1409  UILLEAM CLEIREACH William the Clerk

born 1365, 2nd son of Ian Ciar, his elder brother, Malcolm was killed in Lewis, William had been educated for the church but seemingly this would not have suited him as on his succession he immediately led an expedition into the lands of Clan Frazer in Easter Ross depriving them of cattle and whatever booty could be seized. He was married to either a daughter of MacLean of Duart or a daughter of John MacLaine, 2nd of Lochbuie (or Murdoch MacLaine). He died suddenly c. 1409, at Castle Camus in Sleat, buried at Iona. From his second son, Norman spring Clann ic Uilleim (William) and Clann Alasdair Ruaidh (Red Alexander). He had another son George and several illegitimate children. In 1395 (or 1375) the Battle of Sligachan was fought.

1409-1442  IAIN BORB

(FIERCE IAN or John the Truculent)Fierce Ian of Dunvegan, born 1392. When he was still a child his tutor, Iain Mushealbhach (John the Ill Fated) lost Dun Sgathaich and Castle Camus (Knock Castle) to Donald MacDonald. When attacking Dun Bheagan itself MacDonald was defeated by MacLeod of Lewis and a mixed army of Skye and Lewismen. MacLeod of Lewis thence took him to Lewis and had him proclaimed Chief at Rodel in Harris. As Skye had come under the sway of the Earls of Ross and Donald MacDonald had married the heiress of that house, finally the MacLeods found themselves as vassals of the Lords of the Isles, namely Donald MacDonald. Thus Iain Borb fought together with Iain of Harris and Roderick of Lewis in the Battle of Harlaw on 24 July 1411, for Donald MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, to support his claim to the Earldom of Ross. In the MacDonald annals there is account of “Norman” Chief of MacLeod (probably his brother being confused with him) being wounded by an arrow in his forehead. The wound kept breaking open with high blood pressure and that was supposed to be the cause of his sudden death in 1442 when he fought with and was bested by one of his clansmen, threw away his sword and in the subsequent wrestling got so enraged and strained that the wound opened and he bled to death.
He had married Margaret Douglas, the granddaughter of the Earl of Douglas and his daughter Margaret was married to Roderick MacLeod 3rd of Lewis, his daughter Fynvola to Lachlan MacLean of Duart. His younger son Norman died 1429 in the Battle of Lochaber when James I in person came to defeat Alexander MacDonald, Lord of the Isles. From other sources we learn that these were not his children but those of his brother Norman.

1442-1480  WILLIAM Dubh William

” a claidheamh fhada” (= long sword) MacLeod of MacLeod, – either son of Iain Borb or his brother Norman, born 1415, killed in a feud with MacDonalds at “the Battle of the Bloody Bay” (Mull) 1480. William was married to a Maclaine of Lochbuie. His sister Margaret was married to Roderick MacLeod 3rd of Lewis. Another sister was married to Lachlan Maclean7th of Duart. From his brother Norman sprang the MacLeods of Drynoch, MacLeods of Balmeanach, MacLeods of Meadle and Sliochd Iain ‘ic Leòid (the main stem, John the 10ch Chief being his son. He confirmed a charter given by Alexander MacDonald of Ross and the Isles to the latter’s son, Hugh of Sleat. In 1460 MacLeods joined Hugh of Sleat in his raid to Orkney and in 1480 he was either killed or taken prisoner in the Battle of Bloody Bay off the Coast of Mull, supporting John MacDonald against his rebellious bastard-son Angus Og, one of the occasions on which the Fairy Flag was said to have been unfurled. If he survived the day, however, he did not survive it for long. He was the last chief who was buried in Iona.


Alasdair “Crotach” MacLeod of MacLeod, son of William Dubh and a lady Maclaine of LochBuy, born 1455, in 1535, being humpbacked (Crotach = the bent), he married Cameron of Lochiel’s 10th daughter, the other nine having refused him. (according to Alexander Nicolson) he was married to his cousin, the daughter of Lachlan Maclean of Duart. Two of his daughters married into the house of Sleat, namely to John Og and James of Castle Camus, both sons of Donald Gruamach MacDonald of Sleat by his 2nd wife.
After the Battle of Bloody Bay in 1480 the MacDonalds raided Skye on behalf of Clan Leod’s part in supporting John MacDonald against Angus Og. William Dubh must have been prisoner then as Alasdair was not yet chief of the clan when he withstood the raging MacDonalds and was severely wounded between the shoulders by a battleaxe from which he never really recovered. Thence he was hunchbacked and so comes his name CROTACH.
When in 1493 the Lordship of the Isles was forfeited to the Crown Alasdair gained a royal charter for Harris, Duirinish, Bracadale, Minginish and Lyndale in Skye adding those places to the charter Malcolm the 3rd chief already had received from David II. Later in 1498 he captured Duntulm Castle and acquired parts of Trotternish (peninsula of Skye) along with the stewardship over the district. In 1513 he supported Donaldof Lochalsh in restoration of the Lordship of the Isles, meeting at Castle Maol. On the occasion he also stormed Dun Sgathaich and failed at Castle Camus (Knock). On this occasion Mary of the Castle came to fame. Later when delivering Donald’s two brothers to Regent Albany he was pardoned for this and granted a promise of non-disturbance in his lands of Trotternish for 11 years. Later by Regent Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus he was granted a charter of lands in Sleat and North Uist thus causing bitterness between MacLeod and the House of Sleat.
He is said to have unfurled the Fairy flag in 1530 in the bloody Battle of Glendale against MacDonald of Sleat and Clanranald. He built the Fairy Tower and St. Clement’s Church at Rodel in Harris where he is buried in an exeptionally handsome tomb. He also entertained King James V at a mountain feast on MacLeods Tables (Healabhal Bheag and Healabhal Mhor). In 1540 he was taken aboard the King’s ship when the King surrounded his country by sea. According to tradition he brought the MacCrimmons to Skye and founded their famous school of piping at Borreraig.
Until after Flodden he remained loyal to the James IV but afterwards he joined th e insurrection for the Lords of the Isles.
His son Donald, born 1507, murdered in March 1557, married twice but leaving no issue. Probably he was murdered by Iain Dubh.

1547-1551  UILLEAM NA H-UAMHA (William)

born 1505, married to Agnes Fraser, daughter of 4th Lord Lovat. died September 1551 taken as a hostage by King James V on his voyage to Skye in 1540. His brother Donald was murdered by Iain dubh, the 11th chief. His brother Norman became 12th Chief, one of his 10 sisters was married to James Gruamach of Castle Camus.

1551-1556 MARY MacLEOD  heiress of the Isles

daughter of William, born 1543, died 1602 after Archibald Roy, the 4th Earl of Argyll having worked hard to obtain the wardship of Mary, her uncle, Donald, later murdered by the 11th Chief returned to the estate in 1556 and her claim to the chieftaincy was put down. About 1571 she was married to Duncan Dugald Campbell.


(Iain a’ Chùil Bhà in) son o Norman, son of Norman, son of William 5th Chief. He had two sons, Norman and Iain Dubh, the 11th Chief. From his son Norman sprang another Norman who was 11th Chief (de iure)

1556-1557 11th chief (de facto) IAIN DUBH

son of Iain Og, 10th Chief. seized castle and lands by murdering Donald, brother of William the 9th Chief and various other kinsmen. In 1558 he killed the delegation of Archibald Roy, the 4th Earl of Argyll who was still trying to bring MacLeod’s country under his sway by marrying Mary MacLeod (the heiress of the isles and would-be 10th chief) to his kin. He was just a de facto- chief and died 1560 without issue.

11th chief (de iure) NORMAN on of Norman, son of IAIN OG, 10th chief.

1557-1584 12th chief TORMOD  MacLeod of MacLeod

third son of ALASDAIR, 8th chief, born 1509. married to 1 Giles Julia Maclean (1535), a daughter of Hector 12th Maclean of Duart 2 Janet the daughter of Archibald Roy, Earl of Argyle. Tormod had three sons and two daughters:
– William, 13th chief,
– Rory Mor, 15th chief and
– Alexander of Minginish from whom sprang MacLeods of Ose and MacLeods of Ferinica.
– Tormod’s daughter Margaret (the one eyed woman) was married to Donlad Gorm Mor MacDonald.
– Another daughter was married to Torquil Dubh of Lewis.

1584-1590 13th chief WILLIAM William MacLeod of MacLeod

born 1560, married to Janet Macintosh of Dunachton

1590-1595/6 14th chief JOHN

born 1580, beheaded 1597 or 1598, died without issue

1595-1626 15th chief Sir RUAIRIDH MOR Sir Ruairidh (=Rory) Mor (=the great) MacLeod of MacLeod

born 1562, son of TORMOD (Norman), 12th chief, settled the feud with the MacDonalds of Sleat, enlarged Dunvegan Castle, fought the War of the One-Eyed Woman against Donald Gorm Mor MacDonald of Sleat married to Isabel MacDonald of Glengarry, was outlawed before 1597 but still held Harris, Dun Bheagan and Glenelg. When the King raided the coast in 1608 Sir Ruairidh sent his son to the HMS Moon and was thus not kidnapped like the other clan-chiefs. MacLeod’s lands were forfeited to the crown and given to the Company of Gentlemen Adventurers, but this did not bother the chief. In 1609 he signed the Statutes of Iona. In 1613 he was knighted by King James VI. He linked the Keep of Dunvegan with the Fairy Tower. And it was under his chieftaincy that the MacLeods fought the MacDonalds at Core-na-Creiche (Corrie of the Spoil), Isle of Skye. But he personally was not at the fight, that might be the reason why the MacDonalds won the day. As a young man when his brother William was chief of the clan he is said to have been watching some agricultural operations when Macdonalds landed. He thence jumped on a bull and commanded the other clansmen to do so and rush the herd towards Dun Bheagan. They joined William’s forces and routed the enemy. The bull that had carried him was never slain but on his natural death from one of it’s horns was made Rory Mor’s horn, still to this day exhibited at DunBheagan. He had also supported the Irish O’Neills against Queen Elisabeth I of England and thus it is believed that the famous Dunvegan Cup was presented to him by the O’Neills. Rory Mor had several children besides his heir,
– Sir Roderick of Talisker,
– Sir Norman of Bernera who married a daughter of Sir James MacDonald of Dunyveg,
– William of Hamera, from whom sprang the MacLeods of Waterstein,
– Donald, from whom sprang the MacLeods of Grishornish,
– Janet, who married Iain Garbh of Raasay and
– five other daughters.
In his time the lands of MacLeod of Gesto were forfeited on account of killing of MacAskill of Ebost. But the lands were subsequently given as a tack to Gesto, the family continuing on the lands until 1825. Neil MacTormont MacLeod of Gesto and his son Murdo were still referred to as principal clansmen in 1616 who had to appear before the Council in Edinburgh every year (if any Skye people ever appeared in Edinburgh at all). It was probably Neil’s father, John who was married to Mary Macdonald of Kingsburgh.

1626-1649 16th chief IAIN MÃ’R

born 1595, married to Sibella of Kintail he also had several childern:
– Roderick the witty (17th Chief)
– Iain Breac (18th Chief)
– Mary, who married James Mòr MacDonald of Sleat as 2nd wife,
– Sibella who married Thomas Fraser of Lovat
– Julia who married 1) Sir Allan MacLean of Duart, 2) Campbell of Glendaruel and
– two other daughters.

1649-1664 17th chief RUAIRIDH MIR Rory or Roderick the Witty

born 1635, married to Margaret, daughter of Sir John Mackenzie of Kintail. Their son Norman died young. Their daughter was married to Duncan (?) Stewart of Appin. In 1651 the Clan was almost wiped out at Worcester 700 soldiers having taken part in the Battle.

1664-1693 18th chief IAIN BREAC Iain Breac MacLeod of MacLeod, born 1637, married to Florence MacDonald daughter of his brother in law, Sir James Mòr MacDonald, 2nd Baronet of Sleat (southern part of Skye). From their marriage sprang
– Roderick (19th Chief)
– William

– Norman (20th Chief)
– Isabel, married to Robert Stewart of Appin
– Janet, married to Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck
During his chieftaincy the Clan fought at Killiecrankie for James VII on 27 July 1689. Built a wing to Dun Bheagan that was destroyed by fire in 1938 and rebuilt just before World War II.

1693-1699 19th chief RODERICK RUAIRIDH OG Roderick Ruairidh Og

born 1674, married to Lady Isabel Mackenzie, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Seaforth, their daughter, Anne married Donald MacLeod of Bernera (“The Old Trojan”). Roderick died 24.06.1699.

1699-1706 20th chief NORMAN Norman MacLeod of MacLeod

born 1685, 2nd son of Iain Breac married to Anne Fraser of Lovat, granddaughter of John, 1st Marquess of Atholl (1635-1703).

1706-1706 21st chief JOHN son of Norman

born 1704, died 1706. In his time a lawsuit about boundaries of Gesto broke out.

1706-1772 22nd chief NORMAN The Red Man The Wicked Man Norman MacLeod of MacLeod

son of Norman, 20th Chief, born 29.07.1705, 1st wife: Janet, daughter of Sir Donald MacDonald, 4th Baronet of Sleat/Skye, their eldest son, John, died 1766/7, 2nd wife: Ann, daughter of William Martin of Inchfure, Ross-shire (married 1748, died 1803). Norman’s daughter Ann was married to Professor Hill of St. Anrdews University. He had another two daughters and two natural sons, Maj. Alex MacLeod of Lochbay and Capt. MacLeod of Cyprus.
Under his chieftaincy the Clan supported Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 45.
His Clansman Donald MacLeod of Galtrigal transported a hoard of gold coins from Barra to Moidart and later from 21st April to 21st June 1746 hid the Prince at Long Island and Uist. Later he was therefore captured by Allan MacDonald of Knock.

1772-1801 23rd chief NORMAN “the General”Norman “the General” MacLeod of MacLeod

born 1754, son of John, son of Norman, 22nd chief and his 2nd wife, 1st wife: Mary MacKenzie of Suddie, 2nd wife: Sarah (married 1784, died 1822), daughter of Nathaniel Stackhouse, they had 8 children. His eldest son (*1781), Lieutenant Norman MacLeod of MacLeod, died when H.M.S. Queen Charlotte exploded and sank with all hands in 1800 (see the prophesy of the Brahan Seer), His daughter Mary was married to Col. N. Ramsay. The General was famous for his deeds in India. He entertained Boswell and Doctor Johnson in 1773.

1801-1835 24th chief JOHN NORMAN John Norman MacLeod of MacLeod

born 1788, married to Anne (died 1861), daughter of John Stephenson of Mersham/Kent. Neil MacLeod of Gesto won the cause about boundaries of Gesto but in 1825 the Chief refused the renewal of the tack of Gesto and kept the land for himself thus ending an unbroken tenure after nearly 500 years.

1812-1895 25th chief NORMAN Norman MacLeod of MacLeod

born 18.07.1812, Dunvegan, died 5.2.1895, Paris, France, married (1837) to Hon. Louisa Barbara (died 1880), daughter of 13th Baron St. John of Bletso and Louisa, daughter of Sir Charles Boughton-Rouse, 2nd wife: Hanna, daughter of Baron von Ettinghausen, Countess Latour (married 1881), his first son was Norman Magnus. His second son was Torquil Olave, they both died without issue. His third son was the 27th Chief. His fourth son Roderick Charles MacLeod of MacLeod had only one son, Iain (the next male heir) was killed in 1915. His sister Sarah (* 1810, + 1896, unmarried) was the last Gaelic-speaking member of the Chief’s family.

1895-1929 26th chief NORMAN MAGNUS Norman Magnus MacLeod of MacLeod

born 27.07.1839, died 5.111929 married to Emily Caroline, daughter of Sir Charles Isham, died without issue.

1929-1935 27th chief Sir REGINALD Reginald MacLeod of MacLeod

brother of NORMAN MAGNUS (26th chief), born 1.2.1847, died 20.8.1935 without issue. His youngest brother, Canon Roderick MacLeod of MacLeod hat only one son, who had been killed in 1915 thus leaving no male heir to the line.

1935-1976 28th chief DAME FLORA Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod

born 1878, married to Hubert Walter.

1976-2007 29th chief JOHN MacLeod of MacLeod

son of Joan Woolridge Gordon (daughter of DAME FLORA) and Captain Robert Wolridge Gordon of Hallhead and Esslemont, born 10.08.1935.

2007 30th chief HUGH MacLeod of MacLeod

Hugh was born in London in 1973, the son of John MacLeod of MacLeod and Melita Kolin. He graduated with a BA (Hons) in Film and Modern History from the University of London and the Sorbonne in 1995. He currently work as a film producer and director in London.

Am Bratach Sith: The Fairy Flag

There are many stories regarding the origins of this most treasured relic of the clan MacLeod, which can still be seen today in Dun Bheagan (Dunvegan) castle. Legend has it that the flag can only be unfurled 3 times in dire consequences and the clan shall be triumphant. It is widely believed to have been unfurled only twice but has been carried (furled and cased) on may occasions. Certainly the flag is still regarded by many as a powerful relic, in fact it is said that MacLeod pilots during the second world war carried pictures of the flag as a talisman. Also a fire at Dun Bheagan in 1939 is said to have abated when the flag was removed to safety.The Fairy Versions: Continue reading “Am Bratach Sith: The Fairy Flag”

Clan MacLeod

Dunvegan castleThe MacLeod (in Gaelic MacLeoid) clan can be traced back to Leod Olafson who was born around 1200, the youngest son of Olaf the Black one of the last Norse Kings of Mann and the Isles. Leod inherited the regions of Lewis and Harris along with parts of Skye on his father’s death in 1237. Through marriage to the Norse seneschal of Skye, the family acquired Dunvegan Castle, which remains the ancestral family home. The Clan consists of two main branches: the MacLeods of LewisMacLeod of Lewis tartan descend from Leod’s son Torquil while the MacLeods of Harris and Skye descend from another son, Tormod. I have also included a detailed lineage of the clan chiefs. There are quite a few tartans now associated with the clan MacLeod, but by far the most common are those of Lewis and Harris.

MacLeod of Harris tartanThe most treasured relic of the Clan MacLeod is the “am Bratach Sith” or the Fairy Flag, which is kept at Dunvegan castle. It is said to have been woven by fairies to be used by the chief of the MacLeods in dire times. Its magic has been called upon to turn defeat in victory on at least two occasions. Tradition holds that MacLeod pilots in the Battle of Britain carried pictures of the Flag. We see here an image of the Fairy Flag as it is today. Fairy flag of the MacLeodsIt was on public display for many years in Dunvegan Castle but the last time I was there I couldn’t find it. Perhaps it has been put in storage as you can see it is in a pretty sorry state.

Clan Bruce: a short history of the house of Bruce

King Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce) was descended from Robert de Bruis from Normandy, who came to England with William The Conqueror in 1066 and died around 1094. The name Bruce comes from the French ‘de Brus’ or ‘de Bruis’, now Brix between Cherbourg and Valognes in Normandy. Although his paternal ancestors were on Anglo-Norman descent his maternal ancestors were Scots Gaels.

ADAM de Brus, built Chateau d’Adam at Brix situated between Cherbourg and Valognes named after him in the 11th century

ROBERT de Bruis (1066-1094)came to England with the Conqueror in 1066 and received Skelton and Yorkshire, he died circa 1094

ROBERT le Meschin (1094-1138) “the Cadet” came as companion-in-arms of King David I. (youngest son of Queen Margaret) to Scotland in 1124 when David became King. David I. created him Lord of Annandale, but in 1138 he renounced his title to his second son and in the Battle of the Standard in 1139 he fought on the English side and took his son prisoner.

ROBERT second son of Robert the Cadet (1138-) fought the Battle of the Standard in 1139 under David I. and was taken prisoner by his own father, he became 2nd Lord of Annandale when his father renounced his rights to take the English side in the Battle

ROBERT 3rd Lord of Annandale, son of Robert 2nd Lord of Annandale (-1191)

WILLIAM 2nd son of Robert 2nd Lord of Annandale (1191-1215)

ROBERT 4th Lord of Annandale (1215-1245) son of William, married to Isabella of Huntingdon great-granddaughter of King David I. and niece of William the Lion thus giving the later family a claim to the throne of Scotland.

ROBERT 5th Lord of Annandale (1215-1295) son of Robert, in 1255 Alexander II had nominated him as heir in case of his failure before the birth of Alexander III. Later he was one of the Regents of Scotland and guardian of Alexander III, in 1290 he claimed the Crown of Scotland, as the nearest heir of Alexander III. and also alleged a verbal nomination. King Edward I of England, having been asked to preside in a centumviral court trial, the court adjudged the Crown to John Balliol as heir, according to the Scots law of succession, of Margaret, Lady of Scotland (the maid of Norway). A few days before this Robert had resigned his claims and bestowed them on his son and heirs.

ROBERT 6th Lord of Annandale (1243-1304) eldest son of Robert, married to Margaret, Countess of of Carrick, they had 5 sons and 5 daughters, Robert, Edward, Neil, Thomas, Alexander, Isabel, Christina, Maud, Mary and Margaret.

ROBERT 7th Lord of Annandale (1304-1329) 2nd Earl of Carrick, King ROBERT I. of Scotland,  secured Scottish independence by victory over King Edward II of England, John Balliol having disgraced himself and abdicated in 1306. The Bruce asserted his grandfather’s claim to the Scottish Crown and was crowned at Scone, Perthshire on 27th May 1306, having killed John, the Red Comyn (a nephew of John Balliol by his sister) on 10 February 1306. The Red Comyn had defeated the English at Roslin 1302 but submitted to Edward I After many vicissitudes the power of King Robert I was finally cemented by his decisive victory at Bannockburn in 1314 and the Treaty of Northampton in 1328. He died on 7th June 1329 at Cardross, Dumbartonshire and was interred in the Abbey Church of Dunfermline 25 years later. His heart was first carried on a crusade to Spain by Sir James Douglas and now lies in Melrose Abbey.

King David II of Scotland (1324-1371) son of Robert I. In 1346 David II of Scotland became king on his father’s death in 1329. In 1346 David marched south into England in the interests of France, but was defeated and imprisoned Battle of Neville’s Cross  in Yorkshire on October 17 of that year. His nephew, Robert Stewart reigned for him and negotiated until King David was released in October 1357 after the contract of Berwick, promising the payment of 100,000 marks of silver to England (which was never paid). David built David’s Tower in Edinburgh Castle. He died childless in Edinburgh Castle in 1370 and the Royal Line was taken up by the Stewart descendants of his aunt, Lady Marjory Bruce namely by Robert Stewart as Robert II.

In 1334, Thomas Bruce, whose relationship to David II is uncertain, organised a rising against the English supporters of Balliol who had plagued the reign of David II For this service he was awarded the crown lands in Clackmannan. The Earls of Elgin, descended from these Bruces of Clackmannan and are now acknowledged chiefs of the family.

Sir Edward Bruce was made commendator of Kinloss Abbey and appointed a judge in 1597. He was appointed a Lord of Parliament with the title of Lord Kinloss in 1602. He accompanied James VI to claim his English throne in 1603 and was subsequently appointed to English judicial office as Master of the Rolls. In 1608 he was granted a barony as Lord Bruce of Kinloss. His younger son, Thomas, 3rd Lord Kinloss, was created first Earl of Elgin in 1633. When the fourth Earl died without issue, the title passed to the descendants of Sir George Bruce of Carnock, who already held the title Earl of Kincardine and in 1747 the Earldoms were united.

Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin was a diplomat and ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1799 and 1803. He is famous, or infamous, for the removing marble sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens, now commonly referred to as the Elgin Marbles. His son, James, was Governor General of the Province of Canada and Viceroy of India.

The current chief, Andrew Bruce, 11th Earl of Elgin, is prominent in Scottish affairs and is convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.