Some Notes on the MacDonalds of Glenalladale and Borrodale By Tearlach MacFarlane

It may be useful to download and print (Adobe .pdf format) the explanatory chart that accompanies this article -R.K.W.M.

The genealogy of this prominent branch of Clan Donald, otherwise known as Clann lain Oig, (i.e. Young John’s Race) has been recorded quite extensively already. However, having succumbed to pressure from more than one direction, I venture to illustrate some points, which have come to light in the wake of recent researches, by Hugh Cheape and Tom Massey Lynch, in connection with the Borrodale Tartan. Inevitably, some duplication of previous works on the subject is necessary, in order to present a more complete picture.

Commencing with Ruaridh or Roderick MacDonald III of Glenalladale, we find that, he was given sasine of Glenalladale and Glenfinnan on the 4th of January 1634. [1] This could mean that his father Alasdair or Alexander II died about that time. There is a document extant, signed by Ruaridh on the 6th of November 1674, consisting of a Contract of servitude to his Chief. [3] He must have died within the next decade. Authorities agree that he married Mary, daughter of Alexander MacDonald II of Kinlochmoidart, [2] and had issue: [*]

1.    Fr. Angus or Aeneas IV of Glenalladale. He was sometime at Blairs College, Aberdeen and died on 27th of December 1683. [4]
2.   John V of Glenalladale, of whom further.
3.   Alexander or Alasdair, grandfather of James MacDonald of Baillie, Eilean Shona, Pioneer of Arisaig, Nova Scotia (1730-1796) [5], whose descendants are in Moidart yet [5]. This line will have to wait its turn on another occasion.
4.   Allan. Referred to as “uncle of John VI” in his marriage contract. [6]
5.   Mary. Married to Lachlan MacDonald of Laig, Isle of Eigg. [2]

John V succeeded his brother, Fr. Angus, and according to Clan Donald, Vol. III p. 280, married a daughter of Aonghas Og, Airidh Mhuilinn or Angus 1 of Milton, sister to Maighstir Alasdair and aunt to Flora the Heroine. But on page 264 of the same work, she was a daughter of Angus MacDonald of Balivanich. Whether this is contradiction, a mistake or one and the same man, I am curious to know. I notice that the appendix of “Origins of the ’45” pub. Scot. His. Soc. favours the first option, and I am inclined to agree, but would be interested to know if anyone has come up with authentication for this marriage, which probably happened in the 1680’s. Alexander MacKenzie has “a daughter of MacDonald of Balmein” [8], as John’s wife, but I have as yet found no other reference to this suggestion. John V of Glenalladale had issue: [*]

1.   John VI of Glenalladale, of whom further.
2.   Angus of Borrodale, of whom further.
3.   Ranald, whose son John went to S. Uist to recruit for the Prince. [11]
4.   Alexander. [2]
5.   Allan. [2]
6.   Roderick, an officer in the Prince’s Army. [12]
7.   James, an officer in the Prince’s Army. Bailie of Canna in 1746. [13]
8.   Donald. [2]
9.   Penelope. Married Angus MacDonald, Tacksman of Stonybridge, S. Uist. [2]
10. Catharine. Married Donald MacLeod of Gualtergill, “The Pilot” with issue. [2]

John VI of Glenalladale’s marriage contract is dated 1st of April 1710, for the marriage to take place on the 1st of May 1710, to Mary, daughter of Allan MacDonald of Morar. Writing in the “Examiner” 23rd of December 1893, Senator A.A. MacDonald stated that she was a daughter of Allan Roy of Morar, who married Marjorie, daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel. But Marjorie’s parents married in 1685 and she is recorded as the youngest of seven children [10]. This being the case, she could have hardly married Allan Roy sooner than 1710! Therefore we can safely identify Mary’s father as Allan V [2], brother to Alexander of Meoble, who succeeded to Morar, and uncle to Allan Roy. This Allan who didn’t succeed to Morar [31]married as 2nd wife, Marion, daughter of Domhnall Dubh a’ Chuthaige XIII of Clan Ranald [2] and maternal aunt to “Old Clan Ranald”, thus rendering “Glenalladale” of the ’45 a 1st cousin, once removed to his Chief.

John VI of Glenalladale and Mary had issue: [*]

1.    Alexander VII of Glenalladale. He was wounded at Culloden and is renowned for his loyalty to the Prince. His fame is too well known to dwell on here.
2.    John. He was a Captain in the Prince’s Army. [12]
3.    Allan. [2]
4.    Catharine. She married Alexander MacNeil of Allasdal, Isle of Barra. (m/c 14th January 1742) [6].

Catharine’s father was deceased by the time of her marriage contract and, according to the same source [6], one of her brothers was married to a daughter of MacDonald of Belfinlay.

We leave this line to more capable hands and revert to Angus of Borrodale. There was a previous occupant of Borrodale, who may have been a predecessor to Angus. We find again in the Argyll Sasines, one Donald son of Donald Gorm MacAngus, given sasine of Borrodale in Arisaig on 3rd June 1633. Donald’s brother, Alexander, was given sasine of “Belligarva and Kynlawla” in South Uist on 29th May of the same year [1]. This line could be from Angus, brother of lain Og [34].

Angus of Borrodale was born in the 1680’s [15] and married on the 15th of November 1712, Katharine, daughter of John Graham, alias MacGregor of Corriearklet [16] near Stronachlachair on Loch Katrine, (by Katharine daughter of Graham of Drunkie [17]. John was a great-grandson to Grigor Dubh MacGregor of Glengyle and a second cousin to Rob Roy [35]. It would be interesting to know what brought this couple together from such far flung regions. Angus of Borrodale died on the 2nd of June 1774 [15]. So he lived to see the lands pass from his nephew to his son and the great emigration of 1772. Angus and Katharine were hosts to the Prince for his first fortnight on the mainland [19] and, it was Katharine who furnished him with the tartan outfit, before crossing the Minch [20]. They had issue: [*]

1.  Alasdair an Oir
2.  Ronald of Borrodale
3.  Donald of Alisary
4.  John
5.  lain Frangeach
6.  A daughter
7.  A daughter
8. Catharine

1. Alexander, or Alasdair an Oir, Alasdair of the Gold. While the ’45 Civil War was being waged, he was in Jamaica, where he made money in plantations and probably, through his first marriage to the Governor’s daughter, Mrs Handyside, by whom he had no issue [9]. He married secondly about 1771 [16] Catherine, daughter of John MacGregor, Corriearklet [21], and sister to Capt. John MacGregor, Isle of Bute [3] and Ann, wife of Alasdair’s nephew, Archibald of Rhu. It appears highly probable that Alasdair’s second wife was of the same family as that of his mother, but exactly what cousinship is yet to be revealed. Alasdair died on the 25th of April, 1799 [3]. He and Catherine had issue:

A.     John, who died in infancy [8]. Some don’t mention him at all [27].
B.    Alexander or Alasdair Ruadh. Born about 1785. Having commenced the building of the Glenfinnan Monument in 1814, he died unmarried on the 4th of January 1815 aged 28 [3].
C.    Ranald [2], who died in infancy. Others name him Angus [8] [9].

2. Ronald of Borrodale. He was born ante 1720 [15] and married probably before 1754.  He was still living on 28th of February 1775, when he wrote to his son John. But he was deceased by 1785 [15]. His wife’s name would appear to have eluded searches so far, but whoever the lady was, she bore him at least three sons and four daughters: [*]

A    Christy. Born Ca. 1752. She married no later than 1770, Ronald MacDonald, “The Teacher”, Gerriehellie, S. Uist [23].

B.   John.  Born ca. 1754. He married, in 1793, Jane, second daughter of Alexander MacNab of Innisewan. John died in l830 [15], leaving issue whose descendants are well recorded elsewhere.

C.   Alexander [23].

D.   James [15].

E.   Isabella.  Born 1760 [23]. She married Andrew MacDonald, Tacksman, Eilean Shona. (Anndra MacAonghais ic lain [15]). They emigrated in 1806 [11], to Three Rivers, Prince Edward Island and had issue fifteen children [23].

F.   Ann.  There is a tradition that she married, about 1785, John MacLeod, from Skye, who thence came to Borrodale as Ronald’s shepherd. He became a Catholic and was disowned by his family. Ann may have suffered to some extent in a similar manner, for marrying “beneath her station.” Their descendants are numerous in Arisaig and Lochaber today and were for generations in the employ of the Borrodale family down to the present century. John and Ann’s son, Angus, died in Borrodale on the 22nd of April, 1858 aged 73, and the Death Entry gives his mother’s name as Ann MacDonald [21]. It would be interesting to know if anyone else has heard of this marriage.

G.  Flora.  She married Alexander MacDonald of Dalilea, “The Banker”, who built the present Dalilea House [15]. Some of their descendants are now in Australia [25].

H.  ? Roderick. Roderick of Shuggary, later of Dungarry, Port Hood, Cape Breton. This is a suggestion only. He is stated to be of the Borrodale family and this would appear to be the most likely generation he would come from. I am indebted to George MacGillivray [22] for information on Roderick’s descendants, who look on themselves as Borrodale MacDonalds. The earliest date I have so far, is the birthdate, 11th of August 1853 of Angus, son of Aonghas Mor, son of Alasdair Mor, son of Roderick [22]. Hopefully more data will be forthcoming before long.

3.   Donald of Allisary, on Loch Ailort. He emigrated in 1772 to Prince Edward Island, with his cousin, Capt John VIII of Glenalladale. He married Jane, daughter of lain Og MacDonald, with issue [26]+[28]. His descendants are recorded on the other side of the Atlantic and I have nothing to add here at present.

4.   John. He was an officer in the Prince’s Army and was killed at Culloden.12

5.)  lain Fraingeach of Rhu, Arisaig. He married Mary, daughter of Archibald MacDonell I of Barrisdale [2]. A MacLean Sinclair has her as a daughter to Coll, son of Archibald, but the chronology does not bear this out. By Mary, he had at least three children: [*]

A     Archibald of Rhu. He married, probably not later than 1785, Ann MacGregor, (born ca. 1770) according to her age in the Death Entry [21], which means she would be hardly 16 when her eldest son was born. On the other hand, in the Church Death Register [36], her age is 94, which appears more likely. The Register Entry, unfortunately does not give her mother’s name, but otherwise provides information, normally extraneous, by Registrar standards. Ann was a sister to Capt. John MacGregor, Isle of Bute and to Catharine, who married Alasdair an Oir, Archibald’s uncle [3]. The Death Entry of Ann MacGregor tells us that she was born in Corriearklet and spent the first thirteen years of her life there. Then follows a list of all her family which is more complete than that given by Senator MacDonald in the “Examiner” [30]. For that reason, I’ll take this line a generation further than the others. Archibald and Ann had issue: (Ages given as at time of their mother’s death.)

A     Alexander of Loch Shiel (70) Died unmarried [30].

B.    Angus (dec. aged 1).

C.    John (dec. aged 48). He was Paymaster as a Captain in the 42nd Highlanders and married Miss Farquhar at Gibraltar without issue [30].

D.    Ann Isabella [32]+[21] (66) She married Col. Donald, H.E.I.C.S., 3rd son of Ronald MacDonell V of Scotus, by his 2nd wife Ann, daughter of John MacDonell (Mac ‘ic Alasdair) XII of Glengarry, with issue [33]. Their descendants, though extant, are outwith the Clan Ranald lands now [16].

E.     Gregor (Twin) of Loch Shiel (64) Succeeded his brother. Died unmarried [30].

F.     Catherine (Twin) (64) She married Hugh MacDonald, Panmure, Prince Edward Island [5] a quo Andrew Archibald MacDonald, (l829-l9l2) [5] Lt. Governor of P.E.I. and others [30].

G.    Joanna (62) Lived at Dalilea. Died unmarried [30].

H.    Dr. Coll (60) Lived at Dalilea, having practised for several years in Prince Edward Island [30].

I.      Mary (dec. aged 3.)

K.    James (dec. aged 1½.)

L.     Mary (56) She married Angus MacDonald Esq. formerly of Brudenell Point, P.E.I. with issue [30].

M.   Jane (48) lived with her sister at Dalilea and died unmarried [30].

Archibald of Rhu died on the 10th of May, 1829 [29] and Ann MacGregor died on the 1st of June, 1855 [21]+[36].

B.    John, who was witness to a document in 1791[11].

C.   Fr. James. For some years Priest in Barra, he was drowned with all hands on the Sound of Sleat [14].

6.   A daughter [30].

7.   A daughter [30].

8.)    Catharine. She married Dr. Angus MacEachen [15] (Surgeon in the Prince’s Army) son of Alexander MacEachen of Drimindarroch [19].

Time and space do not permit taking in any more generations at present, but I hope that, for many of the descendants and others, I have added something to the chronology of this prominent Domhnullach family.

In spite of chapters of invaluable information on the family having been written by the late lain Ruaridh MacKay (on which this article is largely based) there is yet room for further research on this illustrious family, so long associated with some of the most beautiful and wild glens of Gaeldom.

In conclusion, I would welcome corrections or any further information on the subject.


*    Listing of children not necessarily in chronological order.
1.   Argyll Sasines. Vol. 2. H. Campbell.
2.   Clan Donald. Vol. III.
3.   S.RO. G.D. 243. Box 4. Glenalladale Papers.
4.   Blairs Papers, M.V. Hay.
5.   Fair is the Place. J.C. MacDonald.
6.   Delvine MSS. Nat. Lib. Scot.
7.   Origins of the ’45. Scot. Hist Soc.
8.   History of Clan Donald. Alexander MacKenzie.
9.   “The Examiner” 23/12/1893. A. MacLean Sinclair.
10. Bygone Lochaber. Rev. Somerled MacMillan.
11. TS Hist. of the Clan Ranald. Colin S. MacDonald. Kingston.
12. Muster Roll of Prince Charles Stuart’s Army. Livingstone, Aikman, Hart.
13.  Canna. J.L. Campbell.
14.  Moidart… Fr. Charles MacDonald.
15.  T.G.S.I. Vol. XLVI. I.R. MacKay.
16.  SRO. GD 50/223 John MacGregor Collection.
17.  MS Hist. Notes. John Gray. Helensburgh.
18.  Burkes. L.G. 1863.
19.  The Lyon in Mourning. Rev. Robt. Forbes.
20.  Correspondence – Tom Massey Lynch.
21.  Registrar Deaths – Arisaig Parish Invss. Office.
22.  Correspondence – George MacGillivray. Campbleton. New Brunswick.
23.  Correspondence – Mrs Dorothy Morris. P.E.I.
24.  P/C Alasdair MacLeod. Morar Hotel.
25.  Correspondence – Mrs Helena Farland. Ashfield. N.S.W.
26.  Hist, of Antigonish, Rankin.
27.  “The Examiner” 8/1/1894. Senator. A.A. MacDonald.
28. “The Examiner” 17/1/1894. Rev. Dugald MacDonald.
29.  Arisaig Monumental Inscriptions.
30.  “The Examiner” 6/1/1894. Senator A.A. MacDonald.
31.  T.G.S.I. Vol. XV. Chas. Fraser-MacKintosh.
32.  Burkes L.G. 1894.
33. T.G.S.I. Vol. XVI. Chas. Fraser-MacKintosh.
34.  Clan Donald. D.J. MacDonald of Castleton.
35.  Hist, of Clan Gregor. Miss A, Murray of MacGregor.
36.  Mingarry Church Register.


Rev. Monsignor T. Wynne. Arisaig.  Rev. Canon J. Terry. Glenfinnan. Rev. J.J. Macdonald. L’Ardoise. N.S.  Hugh Cheape. Nat. Museums of Scotland.  Tom Massey Lynch, Little Crosby.  Mrs Ann MacDonell. Spean Bridge.  Alasdair MacLeod. Morar Hotel.  Iain Thornber, Morvern.  Archie MacLellan. Morar.  Fiona Marwick. West Highland Museum.  Staff of SRO.  Staff of Nat. Lib. Scot.  George MacGillivray. Campbleton. New Brunswick.  Mrs Dorothy Morris. Cardigan. Prince Edward Island.  Donald MacKay. Inverness, Scot.  Staff of Inverness. Registrar Office.  John Gray. Helensburgh.  Dr Lome Campbell, London.  Rob MacDonald Parker. Clan Donald Centre.  Norman H. MacDonald. Clan Donald Soc. Hon. Sec.