Mariota Leslie, lady of the Isles

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Mariota Leslie

Also Known As: "Margaret MacDonald", "Mary Mairead", "Margaret", "Mairead", "Mary"
Birthplace: Ross, Cromartyshire, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Death: between circa 1437 and 1440
Tulloch Castle, Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Walter Leslie, 7th Earl of Ross and Euphemia I, Countess of Ross
Wife of Donald MacDonald, of Harlaw, 8th Lord of the Isles
Mother of Mariota MacDonald of the Isles; Alexander MacDonald, 9th Lord of the Isles, 12th Earl of Ross; Angus MacDonald, Bishop of the Isles; N.N. MacDonald; Anna MacDonald of the Isles and 1 other
Sister of Alexander Leslie, Earl of Ross

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mariota Leslie, lady of the Isles

Mariota Leslie, Mairead, also called Mary and Margaret (died about 1440 at Tulloch Castle, Dingwall, Ross, Scotland) was the daughter of Euphemia I, Countess of Ross and her husband, the crusading war-hero Walter Leslie, Lord of Ross, their only daughter. Upon the death of her brother, Alexander Leslie, Earl of Ross, she became the heir-presumptive of her niece Euphemia II, Countess of Ross although her husband Domhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles pressed Mariota's superior claim to the earldom.


Mary was the sister of Alexander Leslie, Earl of Ross. Alexander had a daughter Euphemia who was a minor when her father died. Euphemia, holding the important and strategic title to Ross, became an important ward. She became a ward of the Crown and her wardship was held by her grandfather, Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, and Regent of Scotland. Although Robert Stewart made attempts to marry her these were unsuccessful and he persuaded her to relinquish the titles to the Crown and join the church. Robert Stewart then granted the titles to his son John. Mary's husband, Donald, died in 1423 and John Stewart died in 1424. After the death of John Stewart, Mary appealed the decision by the Regent, on the basis of the 1370 Charter, and won her case. At some point prior to her death, in 1440, she was acknowledged in the Earldom. She never called herself Countess, instead granting title to her son, Alexander, who was acknowledged as Earl of Ross in 1437.

She is said to have died after her son gained the title and in 1440 but she was certainly alive in 1437 when her claim was allowed.


  • Father: Sir Walter Leslie, 6th Earl of Ross, b. 1285, d. 27 Feb 1362, Perth, Perthshire, Scotland
  • Mother Euphemia O'Beolan, Countess of Ross, Abbess of Elcho, d. 1398
  • Husband: Donald MacDonald, of Harlaw, 8th Lord of the Isles, d. 1423

Mariota Leslie had by her husband, Donald, Lord of the Isles, issue —

  • I. Alexander, who succeeded as Lord of the Isles, and assumed the title of Earl of Ross;
  • II. Mariot, married to Alexander Sutherland. She and her husband, Alexander Sutherland, in 1429, got a grant of the lands of Duchall from her brother, Alexander, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross.


  • i) ALEXANDER Macdonald (-May 1449). He succeeded his father as Lord of the Isles, and his mother as Earl of Ross.

From Paul, James Balfour, Sir, 1846-1931 : The Scots Peerage : Founded On Wood's Ed. Of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage Of Scotland; Containing An Historical And Genealogical Account Of The Nobility Of That Kingdom : Free Download, Borrow, And Streaming : Internet Archive". 2021. Internet Archive.>Alexander of Islay, Vol V, pps 43-5 <Archive.Org>

Donald married Margaret, daughter of Sir Walter Lesly and Euphemia, Countess of Ross, and had by her : —

  • 1. ALEXANDER, his successor.
  • 2. Angus, Bishop of the Isles.
  • 3. A son, who was a monk.
  • 4. He had also a daughter, Anna, for whom a dispensation was granted, on 30 October 1397, to marry Robert ' Duncani Maclagmayn.'

Scottish History Society volumes > Series 4 > Acts of the lords of the Isles, 1336-1493 > (384) Appendix D. Page 298-300 <link>

Donald de Yle, styling himself dominus Insularum (no. 18) or simply MacDomhnuill (no. 16) after his father’s death, was old enough in 1369 to be a hostage to the crown for his father’s good behaviour (no.6). Donald married Mary Leslie (no.20; C, 161, 211; S, 28 has Margaret), daughter of Euphemia, countess of Ross, and Sir Walter Leslie, who had been married by 13 Sep. 1366 and had dispensation 24 Nov. 1366 (RMS, i, 258; CPL, iv, 59). Donald may have married before his accession to the lordship (S and B, 149), and he and his wife had an indult 10 Aug. 1403 in which she is called Mariota (no.Bs); his only known seal has the legend Sigillum donaldi [de] yle domini [insularum] ‘(see app. E); a papal letter of 1420 and two mandates of 1421 designate him lord of the Isles and of the earldom of Ross, or lord of the Isles and of Ross (nos.B6, 7; CPL, vii, 151). He fought the battle ofHarlaw in 1411 (see Introduction, pp.lxv-lxvii). Petitions by Donald were still being granted by the Pope in Dec. 1421 (see app. B); no contemporary record of his death is known, and the year has been variously stated from c.1420 (Gregory, History, 33; Skene, Celtic Scotland, iii, 296) to c.1423. according to one tradition he had retired to the monastery of Iona, leaving his son Alexander as heir, although he himself later died in Islay (C, 163). His wife’s seal, attached to a document of August 1420, calls her 1 Mariot [or Marie] de Ros domina insularum' without mention of her husband (no. 20; app. E); she survived him, and was styled 'domina de Ilis senior' in 1431 and 1435 (ER, iv, $41, 621, 633); her death has been dated 1440 (C, 211), but it may have been earlier, as her son Alexander styled himself “Comes Ross” by Jan. 1436/7 (nos.23, 24).

Table 5: Donald’s children (notes below)

  • 1. Alexander. See below as lord of the Isles.
  • 2. Angus, called in the Clanranald Book bishop of the Isles, son of Donald of Isla, son of john, son of Angus Og (C, 211). Bishop-elect in 1426, witness as bishop at Finlaggan in 1427 (no.21), but appointment delayed because of a lawsuit until 1428 (Watt, Med. Fasti, 203); still in possession 1438, dead by 5 August 1441 (CPL, viii, 664; CSSR, iv, no.790). In petition for transfer of cathedral from Snizort to ‘some honest place within the diocese’in 1433 (no.B 14), he is described as nepos of the king of Scots and son of the lord of the Isles; in fact his father Donald was grandson of Robert 11 and nephew of Robert in (cf. table 3/32); as ‘Angus Donaldi Insularum’ he held the benefices of Kilcolmkill in Morvcrn and Kilmallie, both in Argyll diocese, before becoming bishop of the Isles (CSSR, ii, 121, 132, 133-4, 135-6; iii, 166); it appears that he was the son of a married man i and an unmarried woman, and was not ordained until just before being provided to the see (CPL, vii, 465, 466, 478).
  • 3. Name unknown; a monk, in whose time Bailivanich in I Benbecula is said to have been given to the church, 1440 (C, 211).
  • 4. Anna. For marriage to Robert son of Duncan MacLagmayn, I that is Duncan Lamont of Inveryne, dispensation was granted in 1397 (no.B28; Benedict XIII Letters, 79; CSSR, i, 173).
  • 5. Marion or Mariota. For marriage to Celestine or Archibald Campbell, father of Colin, first earl of Argyll, dispensation was granted in 1420,(no.B29), but there is some doubt whether it took place (SP, i, 332; ix, 18, 115). She married (1) Thomas de Dunbar, (2) David Flemyng, and (3) Alexander de Sudirland, for which last a dispensation was granted in 1438, the couple then being already married (no.B3i). For Alexander Sutherland and their son-in-law William de Calder, see app. C.
  • 6. Besides three or four children who are said to have died very young (S, 34), a manuscript quoted byj. H. J. and D. Stewart in The Stewarts of Appin, 62, states that John Stewart of Lorn ‘married the Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross’ daughter upon whom he begat three heretrices’. John’s wife has not been 1 otherwise identified, but this may be the marriage referred to in no.B36; see also Introduction, p.lxii, and SP, v, 3-4

Notes Page 81 - 85


Lady Margaret Leslie, daughter of Walter Leslie, Earl of Ross, by his wife Euphemia, Countess of Ross, married Donald, Lord of the Isles. When Lady Margaret's niece, Euphemia, Countess of Ross, daughter of her deceased brother, Alexander, Earl of Ross, had declared her intention to take the veil, Donald of the Isles asserted his claim to the earldom of Ross as next heir, in right of his wife, in conformity with the entail made by William, Earl of Ross, her grandfather, in 1370. He disputed the destination made by his wife's niece Euphemia, as being made in prejudice to his wife, who was the lawful heir to the earldom. The Duke of Albany, and his son John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, wishing to keep what they had got, insisted that the resignation of the Countess Euphemia was legal, and they declared that they would maintain it. Whereon Donald resolved to assert his right by force of arms; and he so far took possession that he held the castle of Dingwall, the residence of the Earls of Ross. He raised an army of 10,000 men in the Hebrides and Ross, and marched through Moray into the Garioch, on Mar, intending, it is said, to attack the city of Aberdeen.

Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar and Lord of the Garioch, the king's lieutenant in the North, collected a body of troops in haste, and met the invader at Harlaw, on the river Urie, about eighteen miles north-west of the city of Aberdeen, 24th July 1411. Although Mar's army was inferior in number, the battle was most obstinately contested, with great loss on both sides. It proved indecisive, however. Both parties claimed the victory. On the side of Donald, the chiefs of Macintosh and Maclean fell, with about 900 men ; Mar lost 500 men, besides many persons of rank. Sir Andrew de Leslie, third Baron of Balquhain, who commanded Mar’s horse, lost six sons in the battle.

Donald of the Isles was so much weakened by this sanguinary battle, that he was forced to retire, and the Duke of Albany, Regent of the kingdom, shortly afterwards proceeded with a force to the north, and took the castle of Dingwall; and in the following year, 1412, he invaded Donald's territories, and obliged him to abandon his pretensions to the earldom of Ross, and to give hostages for his future observance of peace.

John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, was now styled Earl of Ross, and he held the title till his death at the battle of Verneil, in Normandy, 17th August 1424; and his brother, Sir Robert Stewart, being also killed in the same battle, and neither of them leaving any male issue, the earldom of Ross, in virtue of the limitation in the charter granted to them by their father, the Regent, in 1415, devolved on the crown.

It would appear that although the Stewarts got forcible possession of the earldom of Ross, yet Lady Margaret Leslie did not forego her just claims, and she retained at least the title of Countess of Ross, as is shown by the following document: —

"John Byschop of Ross, Dame Margaret of the Ile, Lady of the Yles and of Ross, Huchen Fraser, Lord of Lovat, John Urchard, Lord of Crommathy, Donald of Kalder, Thayne of that like, with many others, till all and sundry, &c. We mak knowyn, truche thir presents that in August 16 year 1420, in the kyrk yharde of Rosmarkyn, compeart Willyam the Grame, son and heyr umquhile of Henry the Grame, in presence of us before a nobil Lord and a michty Thomas Erie of Murreff, his ovyr Lord of the barony of Kerdale, resyngnan over of his auyn fre will in til handes of the sayde Lord the Erie the sayde all his lands of the barony of Kerdale Scheradom of Inverness, and all other lands, to be gyffyn to the sayde Willyam the Grame and his heyris-male, and faylzand them, to Willyam the Hay. Upon the quhylkes thyngis the sayde Willyam the Grame and Willyam the Hay requirit us in witnesyng by our letters testimonial and our seals. The quhilk we grawntit at the place and day before sayde."

Donald, Lord of the Isles, died before 1427. Margaret, Countess of Ross, and her son, Alexander, Lord of the Isles, were arrested by King James I. when he held a parliament at Inverness, in 1427. The Lord of the Isles was soon released, but his mother, the Countess of Ross, was detained a prisoner, and died about 1429. [SIC]

Family of Donald MacDonald

Volume 22 - Acts of the lords of the Isles, 1336-1493. Appendix D. Page 300. <link>


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Mariota Leslie, lady of the Isles's Timeline

Ross, Cromartyshire, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Dingwall, Cromarty, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Age 72
Tulloch Castle, Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Near Cowal, Argyll, Scotland
Dingwell Castle, Dingwell, Ross, Scotland (United Kingdom)