The MacKinnons traditionally held lands in Mull and Skye, including the castle of Dunakin, a broch commanding the narrow sound between Skye and the mainland. Even in the early days they were an enterprising family, and from Dunakin they ran a heavy chain across the sound and levied a charge on all passing ships.
The MacKinnon clan maintained regular feuds with their neighbours, the MacLeans, though not always resorting to bloodshed to win the upper hand in these encounters.
On one notable occasion the MacLean clansmen had captured MacKinnon lands in Mull and had celebrated with a great feast. While they lay in a drunken stupor, the chief of the MacKinnons and his clansmen each cut a fir tree and placed it in the feasting hall. When the MacLeans awoke to discover themselves surrounded by the plant badge of the MacKinnons, they realised the danger they had been in and quickly withdrew from the MacKinnon lands.
The clan MacKinnon was long known for its loyalty to the Stewart monarchy and were ‘out’ in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745. After the defeat at Culloden, Iain Og, the chief of the MacKinnons sheltered Charles Edward Stewart and aided him in his escape, although he was over seventy years old at the time. He was captured on returning from this adventure and held on a prison ship for four years.