Iye Mackay, I (b. - 1370)

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Iye ( Ymar, Yvor) Mor MacKay van Strathnaver, I (1340-1370)'s Geni Profile

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Place of Burial: Scotland
Death: Died in Dingwall, Ross-shire, Scotland
Managed by: Tammy Lu McKee
Last Updated:

About Iye Mackay, I

IV. Iye 1330-70.

BETWEEN lye of Strathnaver and the family of Sutherland there existed a protracted feud, which caused much bloodshed on either side, and occasioned the murder of lye at Dingwall in 1370. NOTE:

Sir Robert Gordon committed some mistakes in his account of this incident. He says lye was murdered in 1395 by Nicholas, Earl of Sutherland, the predecessor of Earl Robert. But Sir Wm. Eraser shows that there was no Earl Nicholas, and that the immediate predecessor of Earl Robert was Earl William, who flourished 1333-70. Consequently, on Sir Robert's own showing, the author of this deed was Earl Wm., and it must have taken place in or before 1370.

Sir Robert Gordon says, "the Earl of Sutherland

had great controversy with the house and family of Mackay, chief of the Clan Vic-Morgan of Strathnaver, which did continue a long time between the inhabitants of Sutherland and Strathnaver, although with some intermission." This account exactly corroborates Earl William's complaint in 1342, when he applied to the Pope for a dispensation of marriage with Margaret Bruce, against " an ancient enemy," who caused " wars, disputes, and many offences," in these parts. In the Papal dispensation, which is given at large in Theiner's Monumenta Vetera, p. 278, reference is made to the application thus: —

" It sets forth that between the said Earl and Margaret and their forefathers and friends, by the wicked procuring of an ancient enemy (hostis antiqui nequitia procurante) there have arisen wars, disputes, and many offences, on which account murders, burnings, depredations, forays, and other evils have frequently happened and cease not to happen continually, and many churches of these parts have suffered no small damages, and greater troubles are expected unless prevented by an immediate remedy."

With reference to the complaint, Sir Wm. Fraser observes, " in this case it may refer to the disturbed condition of the country or perhaps of Sutherland." We believe his surmise is correct. If the Mackays are descended from Malcolm MacEth, Earl of Ross, as we contend they are, the family might well be called an " ancient enemy " who gave trouble to the Scots kings and their henchmen in the far north, the Earls of Sutherland. And according to Hailes, Cosmo Lines, etc., it was only in the second or third generation after Hugo Freskin that the family of Sutherland was able to effect a permanent settlement in Suderland—that is to say, in the days of the grandfather or father of this Earl William. From the time of this latter Earl William we have authentic evidence that the Sutherlands and Mackays were at daggers drawn ; before his time the mist lies too heavy for us to know much. In the circumstances, we repeat, the family of Mackay might well be called an "ancient enemy" of the house of Sutherland.

The Blh. MS. reads :—

"In consequence of disputes existing at this time between the Earl of Sutherland and MacKay a meeting was agreed upon to settle the matter in dispute. The meeting took place at Dingwall in Ross in 1370, at which were present the. Earl of Sutherland and his brother Nicolas, and MacKay and his son Donald, and other chieftains to act as umpires and decide in the matter submitted. MacKay was about to succeed in his claim, and the Sutherlands became so irritated and enraged that Nicolas Sutherland rose in the night-time and basely murdered MacKay and his son Donald. Nicolas leaving Dingwall Castle fled and escaped, although pursued by MacKay's attendants."

Sir Robert Gordon, whose version of the affair is in substantial agreement with the above, except in the details already pointed out, says that the meeting took place in Dingwall Castle, and that one of the arbiters was the Lord of the Isles. We may also conclude that the Earl of Ross was one of the arbiters of a case tried at his own castle, and it is not unlikely that the Earl of Buchan, justiciar for the north, would likewise be present.

We are not told what were the subjects in dispute, but we have not far to go in search of one bone of contention. On the 10th Oct. 1345 King David conferred by charter the earldom of Sutherland in regality upon William, Earl of Sutherland, and his spouse Margaret, tne king's sister, and upon the legitimate heirs begotten between them (heredes inter ipsos legitime procreandi). This charter gave Earl Wm. almost kingly power in Suderland, which he would not be slow to put into execution against the " ancient enemy " of his house. Of this marriage between Earl Wm. and Margaret Bruce only one son, John, was born when Margaret died, and Wm. married a second time. As King David was childless he intended John of Sutherland to succeed him in the throne, and bestowed lands north, south, east, and west upon the Earl of Sutherland, who in turn gave many of these lands away to Scottish nobles, in order to secure their support when the time came for his son to claim the throne of Scotland. But John of Sutherland died of the plague in London, leaving no issue, shortly before the demise of his uncle the king, and the hopes of both David and the Earl of Sutherland were thus balked. By the death of his son, Sutherland's regality so far as his descendants were concerned went up in smoke—he had now no heir by Margaret to retain these charter rights.

King David, the unfortunate and worthless son of the great Bruce, died on the 22ncl Feb. 1370, and was succeeded in the throne by his nephew, Robert II. It is notorious that the relations between David and his nephew, Robert, were of a strained character, partly on account of David's partiality for his nephew of Sutherland. As Robert If., though a fair and just monarch, was only human, it is natural to expect that he would make the Earl of Sutherland realise how changed his position now was. About this time the king's physician was Farquhar, the son of lye of Strathnaver, a scion of the house of the " ancient enemy," and one who had a charter from the Earl of Buchan, confirmed by his father, the king, 4th Sep. 1379, of the lands of Melness, etc., in the parish of Durness, as "Fercardo medico nostra." With the Earl of Buchan, Robert II. 's son, justiciar of the north, it suited the royal policy to bring pressure upon the Earl of Sutherland by favouring the " ancient enemy," Mackay of Strathnaver. Although the regality of the Earl of Sutherland only extended to Suderland and did not include Strathnaver, lye Mackay had lands in Suderland down to the borders of Ross which would be involved, as is abundantly proved by the extensive possessions of the family in these parts a generation later, when documents begin to turn up. lye of Strathnaver, resenting the vexing claim of Sutherland's powers of regality over him, sought to have the matter submitted to arbitration in the then favourable circumstances. When he was just within sight of a favourable judgment, the knife of the assassin, Mcolas, finished the unsuspecting father and son at the dead of night in Dingwall Castle.

The claim of feudal superiority by the family of Sutherland over that of Mackay, from this date henceforward, made so unjustly, persistently, and offensively by Sir Robert Gordon, cannot be allowed to pass without further notice, because 230 years later it developed into a shameless imposition upon King James VI. On the 29th Apr. 1601 James VI. was led to give a charter to John, Earl of Sutherland, and to his heirs, by which the charter of regality granted by David II. in 1345 to the Earl of Sutherland as aforesaid was confirmed, under the impression that it was still valid, and extended now so as to include Strathnaver. That this was an imposition upon the king is proved by the fact that in the document resigning the heritable sheriffship of Sutherland, dated 26th Aug. 1631, and forming part of the regality, it is clearly stated that the charter of 1601 was given by King James under the impression that the then Earl of Sutherland was a descendant of Margaret Bruce, daughter of King Robert. Sir Wm. Fraser in the Sutherland Book puts it mildly when he says, " It was long a belief in the Sutherland family, which was fostered if not originated by Sir Robert Gordon, that by the marriage of Wm. 5th Earl of Sutherland to Margaret Bruce, the blood of the royal family of Bruce ran in their veins." The truth is Sir Robert was the author of a fraud in 1601. But of this matter enough anon .[We shall in the proper place show how George, 5th Earl of Huntly, chancellor of Scotland, obtained the superiority of Strathnaver in 1567 from Queen Mary in a very left-handed way, to saythe least of it : and how the 6th Karl of Huntlv gave the superiority of Strathnaver to his uncle,the Karl of Sutherland, in exchange for the lands of Aboyne in 1583. In 1(501 the gift of Huntly was converted into a charter of regality as above stated. As the facts come to light, it will be seen that Sir Robert Gordon had little cause to crow over Sutherland's " superiority."]

By this time the Clan Morgan of Strathnaver must have attained to considerable power before it could give so much trouble to Earl William of Sutherland, notwithstanding his royal backing. When the veil over early Scottish history is removed a little further, about 40 years after this date, we shall find members of the clan occupying land in Suderland and Ross, and the Chief strong enough to beard Donald, Lord of the Isles, at Dingwall.

The known issue of lye was :— i. Donald, who was killed along with his father at Dingwall Castle, and of whom a short account follows.

ii. Farquhar, who was a physician to King Robert II. and in favour with the King's son, the Earl of Buchan. In the old family MS. account he is claimed as a son of lye ; and in our Introductory chapter we have shown by documentary evidence how his descendants signed themselves Mackay. He obtained by royal charter the lands of Melness, Hope, etc., in 1379, and the islands lying round Strathnaver in 1386.

The writer of the Old Statistical Account of the parish of Edderachilis asserts, without giving any reason but tradition, that Farquhar was a Beaton and a native of Islay. He also gives a very incorrect account of the manner in which his lands were secured by the leading family of Mackay. This tradition probably developed from the fact that a Beaton was physician to James VI., as the inscription on the said Beaton's tombstone in Iona, dated 1657, shows.

At the west end of Farr churchyard stands a sculptured stone with Celtic cross and tracery, locally known as Clach Erchar, Stone'of Farquhar. It may mark the grave of Farqular mac lye, the king's physician, and is supposed to do so.

iii Mariota, who was the handfasted wife of the Earl of Buchan, popularly known as the " Wolf of Badenoch," and the mother of his children. We are strongly inclined to believe that "Mariota filia Athyn " was the daughter of lye of Strathnaver, and that Athyn is another barbarous Latin form of the much-metamor- Cart. mor. phosed name lye. This would to some extent explain the Earl of Buchan s friendship with Farquhar, and enable us to find a reason for a party of Mackays supporting Duncan Stewart, son of Buchan, in a raid to the Braes of Angus in 1391. If our theory be correct it supplies a motive for Angus Du Mackay's opposition to Donald, Lord of the Isles, at Dingwall in 1411, shortly before the latter met the Earl of Mar, a son of Buchan, at Harlaw. According to our theory the Earl of Mar and Angus Du would be first and second cousins. The issue of the Eail of Buchan by Mariota was : Alexander, Earl of Mar; Andrew ; Walter ; James ; Duncan ; and Margaret, who married Robert, Earl of Sutherland.

pg. 44-49



his line of  assent backwards differs  in  


HISTORY THE HOUSE AND CLAN MACKAY Gives the His father as Donald I 1325-1340 with futher ancestry provided as follows :


  • Alexander, 1180-1222.Alexander was succeeded by his son, pg. 28-33

ALL accounts (excepting that of Sir Robert Gordon) agree that Alexander, son of O'Connacbar, an Irish prince or nobleman, mas the first of the clan ; and the prevailing and most probable opinion is, that he came with a company of warriors to assist William the Lyon, King of Scotland, in expelling the Danes from aithness and other parts of the north, where they had long intruded themselves. Alexander was succeeded by his son Walter, pg. 557

  • Walter 1222-1263 Walter was succeeded by his son, pg. 33-34

Walter, and he by his son Martin, who was slain in Lochaber, from whom, it is supposed, the Mackies, McGhies, and McCries* of Galloway, and Ireland, and Mackays of Argyle, are descended. pg. 557

  • Martin 1263-1290 He was succeeded by his son, pg. 35-37

Martin was succeeded by his son Magnus pg. 557

  • Mangus 1290-1320 Martin [sic Mangus] was succeeded by his son pg. 37-39

Magnus who left two sons,

  • lst, Morgan his successor, of whom the Morgan and Morganach Mackays are sprung; and,
  • 2nd, Farquhar, ancestor of the Farquhar Mackays pg. 557
  • Morgan 1315-1325 [dates as written] Morgan was succeeded by his son, pg. 39

Morgan was succeeded by his son Donald, who married a daughter of Iye MCNiel of Ghiga, pg, 557

  • Donald I 1325-1340 He was succeeded by his son, 39-40

Donald, who married a daughter of Iye McNiel of Ghiga, by whom he had a son named Iye, after his father-in-law ; Iye, who succeeded his father, had a son, Donald, his successor, who, it is said, was the first bearing the name of Mackay, or son of Iye. pg. 557-578

  • Iye, I 1340-1370, pg. 40-48


Copy 1 of THE HOUSE AND CLAN MACKAY and copy 2


Another line given is:

Iye Mac Eth Birth: 1208 Scotland Death: 1268 (60) Scotland who married Conchar MacKay (de Baltrodi) and iye is said to be son of Kenneth Mac Eth and ? Mac Eth

Scottish Peerage pg. 158 gives him as Iye MacEth, who became chamberlain^ to Walter de Baltrodi, a canon, and afterwards confirmed Bishop of Caithness in 1263." By a daughter of said Bishop he had a son Iye Mor who had a son

  • *Donald, who married a daughter of Iye MacNeil of Gigha who had a son
    • * Iye who had a son
      • * Donald, murdered at Dingwall along with his father, left issue 4 sons of whom was:
        • *Angus, of whom follows.

The lineage after of this line is so entangled and needs a lot of work


There have been various conjectures regarding the origin of the name Mackay.

Some have alleged, that the name Iye is from the Gaelic word Oidh, which has very nearly the same sound with Iye, in that language, and signifies a stranger or guest; and that Mack-Iye is, 80th of the Stranger  others say that Iye is the same as Diogenes; but the most probable supposition is, that it is an Irish name, derived from O'Donnel, which seems to be a name compounded of Odo and Niel, i.e. Odo-Niel. 

There are several charters and other writs extant, in which Iye Mackay is called Odo Mackay, as will afterwards appear.

Sir Robert, as before mentioned, says that Donald, the son of this Iye, was the first who went under the name Mackay : but this seems a mistake, from the charters granted to Mackays several ages before.

It has also been said, and not without some degree of evidence, that the names Iye and Hugh are the same.  Hugh, as pronounced in English, and Iye in Gaelic, have nearly the same sound, and it will afterwards be seen, that the same chief of the Mackays was sometimes called Hugh, and at other times lye.
It frequently takes place, that the same name is pronounced differently in different places, arising from the idioms of speech, such as, what is sounded Mackay in the north of Scotland, is Mackie in England, and in the more southern parts of Scotland in many instances ; and in Ireland the name is Mackghie. Upon the whole, probable, that the name originated from Ireland, but at what period, it is uncertain. pg. 44-45

Nicolas, Earl of Sutherland, appointed a meeting at Dingwall, in Ross, with the Lord of the Isles, and divers other neighbours, to reconcile said Nicolas with his enemy Y-Mackay of Far, in Strathnaver, and his son Donald Mackay, for divers slaughters and spoils committed on either side. Having met there at the appointed time, they lodged both in the castle of Dingwall, in several chambers hard by one another.

Earl Nicolas and Y-Mackay fell at some hot reasoning and altercation anent these particulars then in controversy between them, and being incensed in anger one against another, upon the repetition of past injuries, with some reproachful words, he killed Y-Mackay and his son Donald, with his own hands; and hardly escaping from their followers and servants, he returned home with all speed into Sutherland, the year 1395."" Very particular indeed, as to a matter which took place about two centuries before the narrator was born

This is doubtless a partial and distorted view of the case, and he must be wrong as to the date. What were the grounds of the controversy, or the particulars of the consequences, he does not mention. It is not probable that Mackay was the aggressor, as he could not expect to prevail in an unjust cause against Nicolas, supported as he must have been, by so many powerful connections.

There is therefore reason to think, that the disputes arose from some encroachments intended by Nicolas, on Mackay's country ; and that so conscious was the latter of the rectitude of his measures, in resisting those encroachments, that he was content to join issue with Nicolas, in submitting all their questions to arbiters, one of whom, namely, the Lord of the Isles, was father-in-law of the latter, and no doubt chosen on his art A : and perhaps Munro of Fowlis was on Mackay's part, as that family appear to have been in all ages on friendly terms with the family of Mackay. It is also probable that parties had been heard before the arbiters, and that Nicolas, finding that matters were likely to go against him, resolved to determine them by one act of his own; and with that view, he and his followers assassinated Iye Mackay and his son Donald in their lodging, in the nighttime.

He had some grounds to calculate upon his escape, both then and afterwards, with impunity, notwithstanding that the deed was treacherous and cowardly. He then had his father-in-law and his followers, and his own followers, to support him ; whereas the followers of Mackay wanted their leaders : but after all, it appears that his escape was narrow, and that night was his best friend .

Iye Mackay must have been pretty far advanced in age at the time, his son Donald having left three sons, and these sons must have then been too young to revenge the murder of their father and grandfather.

And with regard to the date which Sir Robert affixes to this action,the following will show clearly, that he has post-dated it at least thirty years. He states, that the first William of Sutherland succeeded his father Hugh, some time before the year 1218 ; that he was succeeded by the second William in 1248, who died in 1325, after possessing the estate seventy-seven years; that to this William succeeded his son Kenneth, to him his son William, to him his son John, and to him. his son. Nicolas, who, he says, died in 1399, so that the last four possessed only seventy years.

All this might be possible, abstractly considered: only seventy years. All this might be possible, abstractly considered but the period to which he confines the succession of Nicolas, which is from 1389 to 1399, and the date he gives to the murder, disagree with certain facts stated by himself, one of which in particular, is, that in the year 1411, Angus-Dow Mackay, the grandson of Donald Mackay,fought with Donald, Lord of the Isles, who had invaded Scotland with 10,000 men. Now, if the murder of Iye Mackay and his son Donald, was in the year 1395, it is impossible that Donald's grandson, Angus-Dow, sixteen years thereafter, could be of age to command an army to encounter such a host

Donald left three sons, Angus, Hugh-Dow, and Niel. The next in succession was this Angus Mackay, 1370-1380


Copy 1 of THE HOUSE AND CLAN MACKAY and copy 2


Iye, who had a bloody and protracted feud with William, Earl of Sutherland. When at last the matters in dispute were submitted to arbitration about 1370, and a court had assembled at Dingwall for the purpose, Iye and his eldest son were murdered' during the night within the castle there by Nicolas Sutherland of Duffus, brother of the Earl, lye had issue :

  • 1. Donald, murdered at Dingwall along with his father, left issue :
  • (1) Angus, of whom follows.
  • (2) Huistean Du, afterwards tutor to his nephew, Angus Du of Strathnaver.
  • (3) Martin, settled in Galloway,
  • (4) Neil, who had a son
  • Paul became progenitor of the Poison Mackays.
  • 2. Farquhar, physician to King Robert ii., had a gift of the lands of Melness, etc., from Alexander Stewart, Lord of Badenoch, which the King confirmed by a charter 4 September 1379, in which Farquhar is designated ' medicus noster.' He obtained the Little Islands of Strathnaver from said King by a charter 31 December 1386,^ in which he is designated ' dile ctus et fldelis noster Ferchardus leche.'
  • 3. Mariota. She is supposed to be the ' Mariota fllia Athyn ' handfasted to Alexander Stewart,* Lord of Badenoch, and to be the mother of his children.

Scottish Peerage Vol. 7 pg. 158 - 159


Iye Mor MACKAY [4623]

  • ABT 1230 - ____
  • BIRTH: ABT 1230, of Strathnaver, Sutherland, Scotland [4622]
  • Father: Iye or Hugh) MAC ETH (Mackie)
  • Family 1 : Conchar BALTRODI
  • MARRIAGE: 1263, of Caithness, Scotland
  • Donald MACKAY
  • +Gilcrist Mac Ymar MACKAY
                                _Hugh (Mackie) MAC ETH _+
                               | (1165 - ....) m 1190   
_Iye or Hugh) MAC ETH (Mackie)_|

| (1200 - ....) m 1229 | | |_ M'CAY ________________+ | (1175 - ....) m 1190 | |--Iye Mor MACKAY | (1230 - ....) | ________________________ | | |_______________________________|


(Note you have to open the edit tab to see this correctly)



[4623] FHL "The Mackays of Strathnaver," pg 305a; The Book of McKee pg 281 - 1263 became chamberlain to the Bishop of Caithness, Walter de Batrodi and married his daughter; temple dates from Ordinance Index which gives birth as 1241; redone with birth date 1263 - 21 Aug 1991, 23 Nov 1991, and 4 Feb 1992 Seatt


Blackcastle Manuscript p 7 states: "Hugh Mackay, the eldest son [of Hugh], succeeded his father and lived in the Reign of King Alexander III, and from his great size and portly figure was called Hugh More Mackay."

[Some genealogists have mistakenly attempted to replace Iye with Hugh; however, these are not correct translations.] Tom Mackay has transcribed the original document: "It is clear that Gilcrist is the son of Y/Iye Mor MacAy; Gilchrist had an older son "seniori," Ymar [or Iye Mor (or Ivor)] and a younger son "minori," Gilcrist who received the heritage in preference to the older son. Reg. Mag. Sig. = Great Seal (1984 ed.) 1:477, appendix 1, item #99....these other sources have also cited it; but they are no longer to be considered our source...they...interpret the various documents as we have construed them."


Iye MacEth's son, Iye Mor, married the daughter of the Bishop of Caithness around 1263, and also acquired lands from him in Durness.


Iye (Ymar, Ivor) MACKAY [4628]

  • ABT 1305 - 1370
  • BIRTH: ABT 1305, of Strathnaver, Sutherland, Scotland [4626]
  • DEATH: 1370, Dingwall, Ross, Scotland [4627]
  • Father: Gilcrist Mac Ymar MACKAY
  • Family 1 : MACNEILL
  • MARRIAGE: ABT 1330, Scotland
  • +Donald MACKAY
  • +Ferchard MACKAY Physician
  • +Mariota MACKAY

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Iye ( Ymar, Yvor) Mor MacKay van Strathnaver, I (1340-1370)'s Timeline

of Caithness, Scotland
Kinbrace, Sutherland, UK
Dingwall, Ross-shire, Scotland