Clan MacDonald of Clanranald History
John MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles, married Amy MacRuari and she bore him three sons. The youngest was Ranald and from him descended the Houses of Clanranald and Glengarry. As the only surviving child Ranald was to inherit the enormous area of lands his mother had brought into the family. Instead he agreed to hold the greater part of the land, including Moidart, Lochaber and Arisaig, and let the succession go to his younger half-brother Donald around 1373. Donald’s mother was a Stewart princess, daughter of Robert II.
Ranald had five sons. Donald founded the Glengarry line. The eldest, Alan, became Chief of Clanranald. In 1419 Alan died in his home, the Castle of Tirrim. Roderick, a supporter of the Lord of the Isles, took his place as Chief and died in 1481. His son, Alan, became chief and was known for his war skills. He captured Inverness Castle after a raid launched in 1491.
Dugald, the 6th Chief, was such an evil man that his own men murdered him.
There was a struggle for rule of the clan in 1544 which ended in the Battle of the Field of Shirts, so called because the battle occurred on a day so hot the fighters had to remove their heavy tartans and fight in their long linen shirts.
Young Ranald Clanranald led the clan at the battle of Culloden. When the battle ended in defeat he fled to France until 1754. By the end of that century Reginald George MacDonald was the 18th chief and he proceeded to squeeze the people of his great estate for higher and higher rents. Eventually he bled £25.95,000 a year from them, which he threw around Regency London, swanking in the fashionable world on the back of the Hebridean clansmen who had sworn their support to his family for so long. Their misery was of no interest to him and between 1828 and 1837 he sold them and their lands to the Gordons, the most vicious landlords of the Highland Clearances.
Clanranald managed to squander his entire fortune and the line died out in 1944 following the death of Angus Roderick, 23rd of Clanranald. With the end of the direct line the chiefship was passed over to a branch of the clan, the Macdonalds of Boisdale. The current chief is Ranald Alexander Macdonald of Clanranald, 24th Chief and Captain of Clanranald. who is also currently the vice-President of the ancient Highland Society of London.
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