THE MacDonalds are of very ancient origin. The clan founder was the heroic Somerled, who freed his countrymen from the Norse yoke, and rose to power that no subject has equalled. He died in 1164, leaving three sons. The second, Reginald, died in 1207, leaving, with other issue, an eldest son, Donald, from whom the clan takes its name. As Lords of the Isles and Earls of Ross, the Clan Donald were the greatest of the Highland clans, their chief until 1493 ranking as an Island Sovereign. After the fall of the Lords of the Isles, first Glengarry, and then the Lords of Sleat held the chiefship. The Chief of the Glencoe MacDonalds, Mac-Vic-Ian-Mac-Ian, was of Royal descent, and was, with nearly all his clan, massacred by Campbell of Glenlyon in 1692. He had remained constant in his adherence to King James, and loyally took the oath to serve William of Orange, but was rewarded with as foul an act of treachery as was ever perpetrated. Glencoe is the traditional home of the poet Ossian.
SINCE the extinction of the direct line of the family of the Isles, in the middle of the 16th century, Macdonald of Sleat, now Lord Macdonald, has always been styled in Gaelic Mac Dhonuill nan Eilean, or Macdonald of the Isles. As the claim of Lord Macdonald, however, to this distinction has been keenly disputed. That the family of Sleat are the undoubted representatives of John, Earl of Ross, and the last Lord of the isles, appears to be admitted on all sides; but, on the other hand, if the descendants of Donald, from whom the clan received its name, or even of John of the Isles, who flourished in the reign of David II., are to be held as constituting one clan, then, according to the Highland principles of clanship, the jus sanguinis, or right of blood to the chiefship, rested in the male representative of John, whose own right was undoubted.
THE Frasers are French in origin. Clan Pipe Music: “Cumha Mhic Shimidh” (“Lovat’s Lament”); March: “Spaidsearachd Mhic Shimidh” (Lovat’s March). Gilbert of Fraser is mentioned in 1109. Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle was done to death by Edward I. Hugh was the first designed of Lovat, and from him descends the “Clan Fraser of Lovat.” Hugh, second of Lovat, was made a Baron about 1460. Hugh, 3rd Lord, fell fighting with the MacRonalds near Lochlochy in 1544. Hugh, 9th Lord, died childless. Simon Fraser of Beaufort took possession. His son, Simon, styled himself Master of Lovat, but for his discreditable conduct he had to flee to France, and his father became Lord Lovat. This Simon afterwards became 11th Lord. In 1746 his title was attainted, and he was beheaded. The title was revived in 1837, and passed to Thomas Fraser of Streichen and Lovat, from whom is descended the present Lord Lovat. His seat is Beaufort Castle on the old estate of Lovat. Another branch of the family is the Frasers (Baronets) of Ledclune; while the House of Fraser of Philorth is represented by Lord Saltoun.