Now as to the more plausible but equally baseless claim of Captain William Mackenzie of Gruinard, and his cousin, the late Major-General Alexander Mackay Mackenzie of the Indian Army. Captain Murdoch Mackenzie's claim having failed, we must go back another step in the chain to pick up the legitimate succession to the honours of Kintail and Seaforth. Here we are met on the way by another claim, put forward by the late Captain William Mackenzie of Gruinard, in the following letter addressed to George F. Mackenzie, then of Allangrange:--
11 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square, London, 24th October 1829.
My Dear Allangrange,--Having observed in the Courier of the 21st inst., at a meeting at Tain, that you were proceeding with the Seaforth Claims, I take the earliest opportunity of communicating to you a circumstance which I am sure my agent, Mr Roy, would have informed you of sooner, did he know that you were proceeding in this affair; and which, I think probable, he has done ere this; but lest it might have escaped his notice, I deem it proper to acquaint you that on Mr Roy having discovered, by authenticated documents, that I was the lineal descendant of George, Earl of Seaforth, he authorised an English counsellor to make application to the Secretary of State to that effect, who made a reference to the Court of Exchequer in Scotland to examine the evidence--Mr Roy having satisfied them with having all which he required to establish my claim. I therefore am inclined to address you in order that you may be saved the trouble and expense attending this affair. Indeed, had I known you were taking any steps in this business, be assured I would have written to you sooner.
I had not the pleasure of communicating with you since your marriage, upon which event I beg leave to congratulate you, and hope I shall soon have the pleasure of learning of your adding a member to the Clan Kenneth. Believe me, my dear Mac, yours most sincerely,
This claim is founded on a Genealogical Tree in possession of the present representatives of the Gruinard family, by which John Mackenzie, their progenitor is incorrectly described as the son of George Mackenzie of Kildun, second son of George, second Earl of Seaforth. It is believed that the descendants of this George, who was the second George designated of Kildun, are long ago extinct; but whether they are or not, it will be conclusively shown, by reference to dates, that John, I. of Gruinard, could not possibly have been a son of his. And to the indisputable evidence of dates may be added the testimony of all the Mackenzie MSS. in existence which make any reference to John of Gruinard. In every instance where his name appears in these he is described as a natural son of George, second Earl of Seaforth.
Before this Earl succeeded he also was known as George Mackenzie of Kildun, hence the error in the Gruinard Genealogical Tree.
The author of the Ancient MS., so often quoted in the course of this work, was a contemporary of John, I. of Gruinard, and he states that Earl George "had also ane naturall son, called John Mackenzy, who married Loggie's daughter." The author of the Ardintoul MS., who was the grandson, as mentioned by himself, of the Rev. Farquhar Macrae, Constable of Ellandonnan Castle in Earl Colin's time, and who died advanced in years as far back as 1704--consequently a contemporary of John of Gruinard--describing the effects of the disastrous battle of Worcester, says that Earl George, who was then in Holland, was informed of the result of the battle "by John of Gruinard, his natural son, and Captain Hector Mackenzie, who made their escape from the battle," that the tidings "unraised his melancholy, and so died in the latter end of September, 1651." The Letterfearn MS. is also contemporary, for the author of it speaks of Earl Kenneth as "now Earl of Seaforth," and of George of Kildun in the present tense, while he speaks of his father in the past tense, and he say's that "He (Earl George) left ane natural son, who is called John, who is married with Logie's daughter." That John of Gruinard was married to Christina, daughter of Donald Mackenzie, III. of Loggie, is proved by a sasine dated 1655, in which that lady is described as his wife. It may be objected to these MSS. that, however probable it may be that they are correct, they are not necessarily authentic. But there is ample evidence of an official and incontestible character on the point. A sasine, dated 6th of February, 1658, is recorded in the Particular Register of Sasines of Inverness, vol. 7, fol. 316, from which the following is an extract--"Compearit personally John Mackenzie, naturall broyr to ane noble Erle Kenneth Erle of Seaforth Lord of Kintail, etc., as bailzie in that part," on behalf of "the noble Lady, Dame Isobell Mackenzie, Countess of Seaforth, sister german to Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat, Knight, future ladie to the said noble Erle." Another authentic document having a most important bearing on this question was recently discovered in the office of the Sheriff-Clerk of Tain. It is a discharge by Patrick Smith of Braco, dated and registered in the Commissary Books at Fortrose, on the 4th of December, 1668, in which the parties are described as "Kenneth Erle of Seafort, Lord Kintail, as principal, and John Mackenzie of Gruinyard, designit in the obligatione vnder-wrytten his naturall brother, as cautioner." Further, George of Kildun married, first, Mary Skene, daughter of Skene of Skene, in 1661. This is proved by a charter to her of her jointure lands of Kincardine, etc. (see Particular Register of Sasines Invss., vol. ix. fol. 9). He married, secondly, Margaret, daughter of Urquhart of Craighouse. The absolute impossibility is at once obvious of George of Kildun--who only married his first wife in 1661--having had a son, John Mackenzie of Gruinard, in a position to have obtained a charter in his favour of the lands of Little Gruinard, etc., in 1669--within eight years of his reputed father's marriage to his first wife--and who was himself designated in that charter as of "Meikle Gruinard," while it is proved by undoubted official documents that John of Gruinard's wife had lands disponed to her as his wife in 1655; that is, six years before the marriage of George of Kildun, John's alleged father. And further, how could John of Gruinard's second son, Kenneth, have married, as be is known to have done, the widow of Kenneth Og, fourth Earl of Seaforth, who died in 1701, if John, his father, had been the son by a second marriage of George of Kildun, who married his first wife in 1661? The thing is absolutely impossible.
Kenneth Mor, third Earl of Seaforth, who, according to the Gruinard Genealogy, was John of Gruinard's uncle, was born at Brahan Castle in 1635. In 1651 he is described as "a child" by a contemporary writer, who says that the Kintail people declined to rise with him in that year during his father's absence on the Continent, because "he was but a child, and his father, their master, was in life." Colin, first Earl of Seaforth, died in 1633, and the author of the Ancient MS. says that "Earl George, being then the Laird of Kildun, married before his brother's death, the Lord Forbes's daughter." Thus, George of Kildun could not have been born before 1636 or 1637 at the very earliest; and the date of his first marriage, twenty-four years later, strongly corroborates this. How then could he have had a married son, John Mackenzie of Gruinard, whose wife undoubtedly obtained lands in 1655; that is, when Kildun himself was only 18 years of age, and when John, already designated of Gruinard, was, in 1656, old enough to be cautioner for Kenneth, Earl of Seaforth?