MacLeod of that Ilk
by Sir Robert Douglas of Glenbervie

(from Baronage of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1798, pp. 374-375)
[Note: all spellings are as they appear in Glenbervie’s Baronage.]

It is universally acknowledged, that the Macleods in Scotland are descended of the Norwegian kings of Man, of whom we shall here give a brief account, as recorded in the chronicle of that island, published with Cambden’s Britannia, anno 1586.

I. Godfred, sirnamed Crovan, son of Harold the Black, of the royal family of Norway, being appointed sovereign of Man and the wester isles, by king Harold the Imperious, came with a fleet and army, and took possession of his kingdom, anno 1066; but the superiortiy still remained with the kings of Norway.1

Godred left three sons.

1. Lagman.
2. Harold.
3. Olave or Olaus, a child at his father’s death.

Godred reigned sixteen years, died in the island of Islay, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

II. Lagman, king of Man and the Isles, whose brother Harold having raised a rebellion against him, was defeated and taken prisoner by Lagman, who put out his eyes, and used him otherways very barbarously; but being afterwards seized with a remorse, he renounced the kingdom, and went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he died without issue, anno 1089, after a short reign of about five years.2

His brother Harold being dead also without children, the kingdom fell to

III. Olave or Olaus, king Godred’s youngest son, who being still a minor, the government of the island was committed to the care of a nobleman of Ireland, called Donald son of Tade; but he behaving tyrannically, and oppressing the inhabitants, was expelled the island, and Olaus being then of age, got possession of his kingdom, anno 1102.3

He married Africa, daughter of Fergus lord of Galloway, then one of the most powerful subjects in Scotland, by whom he had one son,4

Godred, his heir.

He had also three natural sons,

1. Reginald.
2. Lagman.
3. Harold, ---- and several daughters; one whereof was married to Somerlede Macgilbred, thane of Argyle, ancestor of the Macdonalds, who by her had four sons, viz. Dungall, Reginald, Angus and Olave. This marriage was the cause of the ruin of the kingdom of the isles to the present family, and the title of kings andlords of the isles, which was afterwards assumed by the descendants of Somerlede.5

King Olaus was a good prince, always lived in friendship and in league with the kings of Scotland and Ireland; and, after a peaceable reign of about 40 years, was treacherously murdered by the sons of his natural brother Harold, anno 1143, and was succeeded by his only lawful son,

III. Godfred, king of Man and the isles, who married Phingola, daughter of Maclotten, sonf of Mackarae king of Ireland, by whom he had one son,6

Olave, his heir.

He had two natural sons, Reginald and Ivar.

This Godfred was a tyrannical prince, and greatly oppressed his subjects. There was therefore a rebellion raised against him by Torphin the son of Ottar, or, according to Macpherson, Olar, and others of the nobility who took upon them to give the government of the island to Dungal, who was son of Somerlede.7

King Godfred died anno 1187, and his only lawful son,

IV. Olaus, sirnamed the Black, was then about ten years of age; the nobles therefore cast their eyes upon Reginald, his natural brother, who was indeed a brave man; but he no sooner got the reigns of government into his hands, then he usurped the crown, of which he kept possession 38 years, and gave his brother Olave, the righteous heir, the island of Lewes for his subsistence.8

Olave however, after encountering many dangers and difficulties (which the assistance of Paul, sheriff of Sky, who will be mentioned hereafter), recovered possession of his kingdom of Man and the isles, anno 1226, and enjoyed it till he died, anno 1237, having been thrice married; 1st, to a daughter of one of the nobles of Kintyre, by whom he had three sons.9

1. Harold.
2. Reginald.
3. Magnus.

All successivly kings of Man and the isles. But that dominion terminated when Magnus king of Norway, the superior, made a surrender of Man and the western isles to king Alexander III, anno 1265; and Magnus the last king died without issue at the castle of Ross, anno 1266.10

King Olave, father of the three last kings, appears to have had no children by his second wife; but he married, 3dly, Christina, daughter of Ferquhar earl of Ross, by whom he had three sons.11

1. Leoid, Loyd or Leod, the undoubted progenitor of the clan Macleod, of whom afterwards.
2. Guin, of whom the clan Gun in Sutherland are descended.
3. Leaundres, of whom the clan Leaundres in Ross-shire.

Having thus, from the chronicle of Man, finished the succession of the sovereigns of that kingdom of the Norwegian race, and as the clan Macleod, or the descendents of Leoid, are the only people now subsisting we can connect with that royal family, we proceed to deduce their descent from the above Leoid or

V. Leod, son of king Olaus and brother of Magnus the last king of Man and the isles, and the fifth generation of that royal race in a direct male line.

He was young at his father’s death, and was fostered and brought up in the house of Paul, son of Boke, sheriff of Sky, a man of the greatest power and authority of any in those parts, who had been a constant friend of his father’s in all his dangers and distresses, and by whose assistance he recovered his kingdom, according to the above mentioned chronicle.12

He flourished in the reign of king Alexander III, and got from the said Paul the lands of Herries, etc, and from his grandfather the earl of Ross, a part of the brony of Glenelg, and he and his posterity have ever since been promiscously designed by the title of Herries, Glenelg, Dunvegan, and of that ilk.

He married the daughter and only child of Macraild Armine, a Danish knight, who had considerable property amongst the island, by whom he got the lands of Mogenish, Bracadle, Durinish, Dunvegan, Lindell, Vaterness, and part of Troterness in the isle of Sky, etc.13

By this lady he had two sons.

1. Tormod, progenitor of this family, first designed by the title of Herries.
2. Torquil, ancestor of the Macleods of Lewes, and their descendants of whom under their proper titles.

These brothers tormod and Torquil were called Macleods, as sons of Leod, and hence the sirname of the family. The descendants of Tormod were distinguished by the appellation of Sheil Tormod and the MacLeods of Herries. Those of Torquil, Shiel Torquil and the MacLeods of Lewes.

But we must observe, that the seniority and precedency hath at different periods been disputed, and sometimes claimed by the descendents of both brothers.

But as it cannot, at this distance of time, be absolutely ascertained which of them was really so, we shall, in the course of the history of these families, give the reasons upon which they both found their claims, and let the reader judge which have the best right to precedency.

1mo, It is affirmed from good authority, that Tormod got the greatest part of his father’s estate.
2do, In several royal charters, and other authentic writs still extant, where the heads of both families are mentioned, the representative of Tormod or Macleod of Herries is always first named, as will appear from some indisputable documents hereafter narrated.
3tio, Though this family have now changed their armorial bearing, yet there is sufficient proof, that they formerly carried the paternal arms of the family, as will be shown afterwards.

We therefore proceed to deduce the descent of this family, from the said Tormod by authentic vouchers.

Leod was succeeded in a great part of his estate by his son,

VI. Tormod Macleod of Herries.14


[1] Dr. Macpherson, p. 154. Chronicle of Man, p. 686.

[2] Ibidem.

[3] Ibid. p. 687, 688, etc.

[4] Dr. Macpherson, p. 26.

[5] Chronicle of Man, p. 889.

[6] Peerage, p. 350.

[7] Chronicle of Man, p. 689.

[8] Dr. Macpherson, p. 277.

[9] Ibidem.

[10] Chronicle of Man, p 695.

[11] Ibidem.

[12] Ibidem.

[13] History of the family from their writs.

[14] Chart. in pub. archiv.