He says that in 1646 Seaforth having joined Montrose at Inverness, where were likewise 100 men of Assynt under his Superior's (Seaforth) command, and Neil of Assynt himself, then a minor, being a friend, in Seaforth's house at Brahan, Seaforth ordered his men in the Highlands to fall upon Assynt's estate, where they made fearful havoc, carried away, as Neil represents, 3000 cows, 2000 horses, 7000 sheep and goats, and burnt the habitations of 180 families. When complaint was made of this in the South, Seaforth was bought off by the interest of General Middleton, and by virtue of a capitulation which he had with Seaforth when in the North.
In the year 1654 Seaforth led a body of his own men, with a part of the broken army under the command of Middleton, to Assynt and made great depredations, destroyed a very great quantity of wine and brandy, which the Laird of Assynt had bought, besides other commodities, in all to the value of 50,000 merks, out of a ship then on that coast, carrying off 2400 cows, 1500 horses, about 6000 sheep and goats, besides burning and destroying many families. Assynt was not liable in law to any such usage from them, having receipts from Seaforth and Lord Reay for his proportion of the levy appointed at that time for the King's service.
When Middleton came to that country he declared that he had given no warrant for what Seaforth had done, and that in presence of Lord Macdonald and Sir George Munro, etc. When Assynt pursued Seaforth before the English judges of the time, Seaforth defeated his process by proving that Neil had been in arms against the English, and did then allege no cause for the injuries done by him to Assynt, except a private quarrel. But when Macleod afterwards, at the Restoration, pursued Seaforth, he alleged in defence that he had acted by a warrant from Middleton, who was then commissioner for the Parliament. But Neil says, if there was any such warrant it was certainly given after the injuries had been done to him. However, things stood then in such a way that Neil was not likely to procure any justice.
There was another claim which seems to have brought matters to a crisis. Macleod had become a party to a bond of caution granted by Ross of Little Tarrel in the sum of ?50 sterling, for which, in 1656, an apprising was laid upon the estate of Assynt, at the instance of Sinclair of Mey, in Caithness, who subsequently assigned his claim to Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat and John Mackenzie, second son of Kenneth Mor, third Earl of Seaforth, afterwards known as the Hon. John Mackenzie of Assynt. The matter was contested for a time, but "in the year 1668 or 1669 or 1670, the legal apprising being expired, decree of mails and duties was obtained upon the claim against the estate of Assynt and ejection against himself. Upon pursuing this ejection in 1671, several illegal steps were alleged against Assynt, particularly holding out the Castle of Ard-Bhreac against the King, and his otherwise violently opposing the ejection; whereupon Neil of Assynt, who it seems had been negligent in defending himself against the foresaid accusations, was denounced rebel, and a commission of fire and sword was obtained in July, 1672, against him and his people," granted to Lord Strathnaver, Lord Lovat, Munro of Fowlis, and others, who at once invaded his territories with a force of 2300 men "and committed the most horrid barbarities," until all the country of Assynt was destroyed.
After this raid Neil, "under the benefit of a protection," went to consult Seaforth, who gave him a certificate of having obeyed the King's laws, and fifteen days to consider a proposition which his lordship made to him to dispose of his estates to himself on certain conditions, and so settle the dispute between them for ever. But Macleod, considering that it was not safe for him to return to his own country, resolved to proceed to Edinburgh by sea, and to carry his charter chest along with him.
"Seaforth being apprehensive, it seems, of the con-sequences of Assynt's going to Edinburgh, immediately entered into correspondence and concert about the matter with the Laird of Mey, in Caithness. The consequence was: Assynt being driven by unfavourable winds to the Orkneys the Laird of Mey, with a body of men, seized him there, to be sure under the notion of an outlaw, and, by commission from Seaforth, stripped him to his shirt, robbed him of everything, particularly of his charter chest, and of all the writs and evidents belonging to his family and estates, carried them to the castle of Mey; where he was kept prisoner in a vault. From thence he was carried prisoner, under a strong guard, to Tam, and at last to Brahan, Seaforth's house. In Brahan (to which place the charter chest was brought, as was afterwards proved in the Process of Spoilzie) Neil was many months detained prisoner in a vault, in most miserable circumstances, still threatened with worse usage if he would not agree to subscribe a blank paper, probably designed for a disposition of his estates, which was, it seems, the great thing designed to be procured from him by all this bad usage. At last Neil was brought south to Edinburgh, where he arrived after being in thirteen or fourteen prisons, and in the end he obtained the remission formerly mentioned," for the offence of defending the Castle of Assynt, and all the other crimes that were alleged against him.
His apologist makes out a strong case for him, if half his allegations are true. In any case it is but fair to state them. Neil was in prison, according to the "Information," when the ejection proceedings were carried out against him. He was ignorant of the legal steps taken against him until it was too late, and, in consequence of his great distance from Edinburgh, he was unable to correspond with his legal advisers there in time for his defence. His messengers, carrying his correspondence, were more than once seized, on their way south, and imprisoned at Chanonry. When in the south, the contributions of his friends towards his support and the expenses of his defence were intercepted, and his people at home were put to great hardships by their new master, the Hon. John Mackenzie, "for any inclination to succour him in his distress." "By all these means, the unfortunate gentleman was reduced to great poverty and misery, and was disabled from procuring the interest or affording the expense needful in order to obtain justice against such potent adversaries."
And "it was easy for them (the Mackenzies), being now possessed of his estate, to get in old unjust patched claims from such as had them, and being possessed of his charter chest and the retired vouchers of debts therein contained, by all these means, to make additional titles to the estate of Assynt, while he, poor gentleman, besides his other misfortunes, was deprived of his writs and of all his evidences needful to be produced in his defence against the claims of his adversaries." If a tithe of all this is true poor Neil deserves to be pitied indeed. But after giving such a long catalogue of charges, involving the most cruel and deceitful acts against the Mackenzies, the author of them is himself doubtful about their accuracy, for he says that, although the Mackenzies, after possessing the estates, had all the advantages and means for doing the unjust things which he alleges against them of inventing new claims and additional titles, "it is not pretended to be now told what additional titles they made" --an admission which largely discounts and disposes of the other charges made by Macleod's apologist. And, notwithstanding all his disadvantages and difficulties, Neil made another effort "towards obtaining justice to himself and his family"; and to that end, in 1679 and 1680, he commenced a new process against Seaforth and all others "whom he knew to have or pretended to have" claims against him or his estate. It was, however, objected (1) that he had no title in his own person to the lands of Assynt, and (2) that he was at the horn and had no personam standi in judices.