Alexander MacDonald, 9th Lord of the Isles, 12th Earl of Ross

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Alexander MacDomhnaill

Also Known As: "Alexander of Islay Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles", "Alasdair MacDomhnaill", "Dòmhnallach or MacDhòmhnaill"
Birthplace: Dingwell Castle, Dingwell, Ross, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Death: May 08, 1449
Dingwall Castle, Dingwell, Ross, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Place of Burial: Fortrose, Highland, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Donald MacDonald, of Harlaw, 8th Lord of the Isles and Mariota Leslie, lady of the Isles
Husband of NN daughter of O'Beolan, lay Abbot of Applecross and Elizabeth, lady of the Isles
Partner of MacPhee
Father of Hugh Macdonald, of Sleat; Celestine Macdonald of Lochalsh; John MacDonald, 13th Earl of Ross, Last Lord of the Isles; Margaret MacDonald and Florence Macintosh
Brother of Mariota MacDonald of the Isles; Angus MacDonald, Bishop of the Isles; Agnes MacDonald; Anna MacDonald of the Isles and Unknown MacDonald (monk)

Occupation: Chief
Managed by: Sharon Doubell
Last Updated:

About Alexander MacDonald, 9th Lord of the Isles, 12th Earl of Ross


Alexander, Earl of Ross & Lord of the Isles (-Dingwall 8 May 1449)
s/o DONALD Macdonald Lord ot Isles & Mary Leslie Ctss of Ross
x NN Mistress / wife (d/o Macphee or MacDuffie of Lochaber)

  • CELESTINE Macdonald

xx NN Mistress / wife (d/o O'Beolan, lay Abbot of Applecros) / (d/o Gillepatrick Roy, s/o Rory, s/o the Green Abbot, Alexander, Earl of Ross)

  • HUGH Macdonald (-1498) ancestor of DONALD Macdonald of Sleat

xxx <1431 Elizabeth Halyburton / Elizabeth Seton (d/o Alexander Seton, lord of Gordon & Huntly)

  • JOHN Macdonald ([1435][54]-1498, bur Paisley Abbey), his successor

EARLS of ROSS (MACDONALD) in Cawley's Medlands

ALEXANDER Macdonald, son of DONALD Macdonald Lord of the Isles & his wife Mary Leslie Ctss of Ross (-Dingwall 8 May 1449). He succeeded his father as Lord of the Isles, and his mother as Earl of Ross. He was arrested by James I King of Scotland at a gathering of Highland notables at Inverness. On his release (or escape) he collected a strong force of men of Ross and the Isles and burnt Inverness but was defeated at Lochaber 23 Jun 1429. He was pardoned at Perth in 1431, and recognised as Earl of Ross in [Jan 1436][53].

m (before 1431) ELIZABETH Halyburton, daughter of --- (-after Dec 1444).

Earl Alexander & his wife had one child:

1. JOHN Macdonald ([1435][54]-1498, bur Paisley Abbey). He succeeded his father as Lord of the Isles, Earl of Ross. He carried out piratical raids on the islands of Orkney[55]. He entered the service of Edward IV King of England in 1461, maintained his independence until 1475 when he was summoned for treason, found guilty in absentia. His estates were forfeited and the Earldom of Ross annexed to the crown[56]. He was pardoned and created Lord of the Isles 15 Jul 1476. He rebelled again and was compelled to surrender his lands and dignities to the crown in [1493][57]. m (separated 1464) ELIZABETH Livingston, daughter of JAMES Livingston Lord Livingston of Callendar & his wife Marian --- (-before 1506). In 1464 the Pope issued a commission, following her petition, confirming her husband's desertion. She was received by the Queen of Scots into her household[58]. Lord John had two illegitimate children by an unknown mistress[59]:

a) ANGUS (-1490). He attempted to retain control of the Isles against James IV King of Scotland. m MARY [Margaret] of Argyll, daughter of COLIN Earl of Argyll & his wife Isabel Stewart of Lorne. Angus & his wife had one child:

i) DONALD Dhu . He claimed the Lordship of the Isles and inspired uprisings in 1504. He disappeared in Ireland[60]. m ---. The name of Donald’s wife is not known. Donald & his wife had one child:

(a) son. He disappeared with his father in Ireland54.

b) JOHN (-before 1498).

Earl Alexander had two illegitimate sons by unknown mistresses:

2. CELESTINE Macdonald .
3. HUGH Macdonald (-1498). He was the ancestor of DONALD Macdonald of Sleat who asserted his claim to the Lordship of the Isles by force[61], and the Barons Macdonald of Sleat (in Ireland) who were declared heirs male by decision of the Court of Session 4 Jun 1910[62].


IX, Alexander. The first reference to Alexander on record is his presence as one of the ' assisers ' at the trial and condemnation in 1426 of the Regent and his two sons and the Earl of Lennox.' To restore order in the High- lands, King James in the following year went north to Inverness at the head of a formidable army, and held a Parliament there, to which the Highland chiefs were sum- moned. Alexander of the Isles attended, and was detained a prisoner, while several others were put to death. After two months' confinement, Alexander, on his release, raised the standard of revolt, and at the head of an army, esti- mated at 10,000 men, invaded the Mainland. Prom Loch- aber he marched to Inverness, consigned the town to the flames, and wasted the Crown lands in the neighbourhood. Having failed to take the castle of Inverness, he retired to Lochaber, whither he was followed by an army, led by the King in person. On the approach of the royal army the Camerons and Mackintoshes deserted the standard of the Lord of the Isles, and ranged themselves under the royal banner. Alexander was constrained to sue for peace, but the King insisted on unconditional surrender. Alexander, however, refused to surrender on these terms, and the pursuit by the King's troops became so hot that he was driven, step by step, to the very headquarters of the enemy's power. He at length presented himself before the King at Holyrood and made his submission.' On the inter- cession of the Queen, Alexander's life was spared, and he was committed a prisoner to Tantallon Castle. Meanwhile the Clan Donald and the vassals of the House of Isla assembled under the leadership of Donald Balloch, cousin of the imprisoned chief, and at Inverlochy, in the begin- ning of 1431, inflicted a severe defeat upon a royal army under the leadership of the Earls of Mar and Caithness. In October of the same year, during the rejoicings con- nected witli the birth of an heir to the throne, the Lord of the Isles was restored to his freedom, dignities, and pos- sessions. His accession to the earldom of Ross was delayed for some time. Since the death of the last Earl in 1424 the earldom remained in the Crown, and continued as a Crown fief down to 1435.' In January of the following year Alexander granted a charter as Earl of Ross to Alex- ander M'CuUoch of lauds within the earldom.- In 1438 the Earl was appointed Justiciar of the whole region north of tlie Forth. ^ During the long minority of James li. his name appears frequently in record, and there is every reason to suppose that the confidence reposed in him was amply justified in the performance of his judicial duties. It should be remembered, however, that in 1445 he entered into the league with the Earls of Douglas and Crawford, which, for the parties concerned, bore such disastrous fruits." He died at his castle of Dingwall 8 May 1449, and was buried in the Chanonry of Ross.

Alexander married, first, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Seton, lord of Gordon and Huntly, and had by her : —

1. John, his successor.

By another marriage with a daughter of Macphee of Lochaber * he had : —

2. Celestine of Lochalsh. His father bestowed upon him the lands of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and Lochbroom, in Wester Ross. His brother John confirmed him in these lands in 1463, and added others in Sutherland. This grant was afterwards confirmed by King James iii. Celestine, who was Sheriff of Inverness and Keeper of Redcastle, died in 1476, having mar- ried Finvola, daughter of Lachlan Maclean of Duart. They had issue a son Alexander of the Isles of Lochalsh, who died leaving a son Sir Donald of the Isles, and two daughters, Margaret, retoured heir to her brother, married to Alister Macdouald of Glen- garry, and Janet, married to Dingwell of Kildun, in each case with issue.'

By a union with the daughter of Gillepatrick Roy, son of Rory, son of the Green Abbot, Alexander, Earl of Ross, had : —

3. Hugh, of Sleat. In 1469 his brother John, Earl of Skirhougli, in South Uist, Benbecula, North. Uist, and Sleat. This charter was afterwards confirmed by James iv.' Tlie eightli chief of this family, Sir Donald Macdonald, was created a Baronet in 1625. Sir Alexander Macdonald, the ninth Baronet, was created an Irish peer in 1776 by the title of Lord Macdonald. The present Lord Macdonald, who is the twenty-first in succession from Hugh, is the male heir and representative of the last Lord of the Isles


Marriage and children
Alexander had two consorts with whom he fathered offspring. The daughter of MacPhee produced a number of bastard sons, and secondly he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Alexander Seton, Lord Gordon and had:

John of Islay, Earl of Ross, who succeeded Alexander at age fifteen.
Other children include:

Hugh MacDonald, Lord of Sleat
Celestine MacDonald, Lord of Lochlash.[16]
Margaret Macdonald(NO SOURCES CITED)
Florence Macdonald(NO SOURCES CITED),_Earl_of_Ross#:~:t...).

-in CLAN MACDONALD III by REV A Macdonald (1904)

The Macdonalds of Sleat are descended from
1. HUGH, son of Alexander, Earl of Ross, and Lord of the Isles, by the daughter of O'Beolan, lay Abbot of Applecross, and are known patronymically as Clann Uisdein. Hugh married, first, Fynvola, daughter of Alexander Maclain of Ardnamurchan, and had by her —

1. John, his successor, d1502

He married, secondly, Elizabeth Gunn, daughter of the Crowner of Caithness, and had by her—

2. Donald Gallach.

He married, thirdly, a daughter of Macleod of Harris, by whom he had—

3. Donald Herrach, from whom Clann Domhnuill Herraich. Hugh had also several sons, whose claims to legiti- macy do not seem to have been admitted even by the social canons of the time, viz. : —
4. Archibald Dubh, by a daughter of Torquil Macleod of Lewis.
5. Angus Collach, by a daughter of the Laird of Coll.
6. Angus Dubh, by a daughter of Maurice Vicar of S.Uist,

Hugh Macdonald of Sleat died in 1498, and was succeeded by his oldest son,

Alexander of Islay or Alexander MacDonald (died 1449; Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacDomhnaill, Dòmhnallach or MacDhòmhnaill) was a medieval Scottish nobleman, who succeeded his father Domhnall of Islay as Lord of the Isles (1423–1449) and rose to the rank of Earl of Ross (1437–49). His lively career, especially before he attained the earldom of Ross, led Hugh MacDonald, the 17th century author of History of the MacDonalds, to commemorate him as "a man born to much trouble all his lifetime".[1]

Alexander allied himself with King James I of Scotland against the power of the Albany Stewarts in 1425 but, once the Albany Stewarts were out of the way, Alexander quickly found himself at odds with the new king. War with King James would initially prove Alexander's undoing, and would see the King's power in Scotland greatly increased, but at the Battle of Inverlochy Alexander's army prevailed against the forces of the King. Alexander died in 1449, having greatly extended his family's landed wealth and power. He was buried, not in the Isles of his ancestors, but at Fortrose Cathedral in his mainland Earldom of Ross.

Alexander MacDonald, 9th Lord of the Isles, 12th Earl of Ross died on 8 May 1449 at Tulloch Castle, Dingwall, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland.3


  • Father: Domhnall of Islay
  • Mother: Mariota MacDonald


  1. Elizabeth Seton, daughter of Sir Alexander Seton, Lord Gordon and Elizabeth de Gordon.
  2. (Miss) MacPhee; His 2nd marriage.2 Alexander MacDonald, 9th Lord of the Isles, 12th Earl of Ross

Family 1 by Elizabeth Seton


  1. Margaret MacDonald+ d. c 1490
  2. John MacDonald, 13th Earl of Ross, Last Lord of the Isles+4 b. c 1415, d. 1455
  3. Hugh MacDonald, 1st Chief of Sleat+3 b. c 1430, d. 1498

Family 2 by (Miss) MacPhee


  1. Celestine MacDonald, Sheriff of Inverness, Keeper of Redcastle+2 b. b 1449, d. 1476


Alexander MacDonald of Islay
BIRTH Jul 1396
Dingwall, Highland, Scotland
DEATH 7 May 1449 (aged 52)
Dingwall, Highland, Scotland
Fortrose Cathedral
Fortrose, Highland, Scotland
MEMORIAL ID 180855108

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Alexander MacDonald, 9th Lord of the Isles, 12th Earl of Ross's Timeline

Scotland (United Kingdom)
Dingwall Castle, Ross, Scotland (United Kingdom)
May 8, 1449
Dingwall Castle, Dingwell, Ross, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Scotland (United Kingdom)
Dingwell Castle, Dingwell, Ross, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Scotland - Chief of the Clan Donald