Name: Norman Macleod 20th Chief Macleod of Macleod
Given Name: Norman
Suffix: 20th Chief Macleod of Macleod
XVIII. NORMAN MACLEOD succeeded his brother Roderick, who in 1699 died without issue. A few years after, in 1703, Martin published his " Description of the Western Isles." Writing of the people of Skye, he says that "they are generally a very sagacious people, and even the vulgar exceed all those of their rank and education I ever yet saw in any other country. They have a great genius for music and mechanics. I have observed several of their children that before they could speak were capable to distinguish and make choice of one tune before another ; for they appeared always uneasy until the tune they fancied best was played, and then they expressed their satisfaction by the motions of their heads and hands. There are several of them who invent tunes very taking in the South of Scotland and elsewhere." He then goes on to tell us that musicians tried to palm themselves off in many instances as the authors of these tunes, changing their names and adopting other means of disguise, but in this they usually failed, for, our author continues, "whatever languages gives the modern name, the tune still continues to speak its true original." Some of the natives, he says, " were very dexterous in engraving trees, birds, dogs, etc., upon bone and horn, or wood, without any other tool than a sharp pointed knife." Both sexes had " a quick vein of poesy," and they composed pieces which "powerfully affect the fancy," and "with as great force as that of any ancient and modern poet " he ever read, but " the unhappiness of their education, and their want of converse with foreign nations deprive them of the opportunity to cultivate and beautify their genius, which seems to have been formed by nature for great attainments." ~They were " happily ignorant of many vices that are practised in the learned and polite worlds," of several of which they did not even know the name, or had the slightest knowledge of them.
Change Date: 23 Feb 2004 at 00:00:00
Their diet consisted generally of fresh food, and they seldom tasted anything salted, except butter. They ate but little flesh, only persons of distinction eating it every day and having three meals, the common people eating only two meals per day." Their ordinary diet is butter, cheese, milk, colworts, brochan, i.e., oatmeal and water boiled. The latter, taken with some bread, is the constant food of several thousands of both sexes in this and other Isles during the winter and spring; yet they undergo many fatigues both by sea and land, and are very healthful."
There was " no place so well stored with such great quantity of good beef and mutton, where so little is consumed by eating." They had plenty exercise and air, preserving " their bodies and minds in a regular frame, free from the various convulsions that ordinarily attend luxury. There is not one of them too corpulent or too meagre " and they took " no fine sauces to entice a false appetite, nor brandy or tea for disgestion, the purest water " serving them in such cases.
The same author gives the following most interesting account of the dress of the Islanders at this period : The first habit wore by persons of distinction was the leni-croich, from the Irish [Gaelic] leni, which signifies a shirt, and croach saffron, because their shirt was dyed with that herb. The ordinary number of ells used to make this robe was twenty-four. It was the upper garb, reaching below the knees, and was tied with a belt round the middle ; but the Islanders have laid it aside about a hundred years ago. They now generally use coat, waistcoat, and breeches, as elsewhere ; and on their heads wear bonnets made of thick cloth some blue, some black, and some grey. Many of the people wear trews. Some have them very fine woven like stockings of those made of cloth. Some are coloured and others striped.
The latter are as well shaped as the former, lying close to the body from the middle downwards, and tied round with a belt above the haunches. There is a square piece of cloth which hangs down before. The measure for shaping the trews is a stick of wood, whose length is a cubit, and that divided into the length of a finger and half a finger, so that it requires more skill to make it than the ordinary habit. The shoes anciently worn were a piece of the hide of a deer, cow, or horse, with the hair on, being tied behind and before with a point of leather. The generality now wear shoes, having one thin sole only, and shaped after the right and left foot, so that what is for one foot will not serve the other. But persons of distinction wear the garb in fashion in the South of Scotland. The plaid wore only by the men is made of fine wool, the thread as fine as can be made of that kind. It consists of divers colours ; and there is a great deal of ingenuity required in sorting the colours so as to be agreeable to the nicest fancy. For this reason the women are at great pains, first to give an exact pattern of the plaid upon a piece of wood, having the number of every thread of the stripe on it. The length of it is commonly seven double ells. The one end hangs by the middle over the left arm, the other, going round the body, hangs by the
end over the left arm also the right hand above it is to be at liberty to do anything upon occasion. Every isle differs from
each other in their fancy of making plaids as to the stripes in breadth and colours. This humour is as different through the
mainland of the Highlands, in so far that they who have seen those places are able at the first view of a man's plaid to guess the place of his residence. When they travel a-foot, the plaid is tied on the breast with a bodkin of bone or wood (just as the spina worn by the Germans, according to the description of C. Tacitus). The plaid is tied round the middle with a leather belt. It is plaited from the belt to the knee very nicely. This dress for footmen is found much easier and lighter than breeches or trews. The ancient dress wore by the women, and which is yet wore by some of the vulgar, called arisad, is a white plaid, having a few small stripes of black, blue, and red. It reached from the neck to the heels, and was tied before on the breast with a buckle of silver or brass, according to the quality of the person. I have seen some of the former of a hundred marks value. It was broad as any ordinary pewter plate, the whole curiously engraved with various animals, etc. There was a lesser buckle, which was wore in the middle of the larger, and above two ounces weight. It had in the centre a large piece of crystal, or some finer stone, and this was set all round with several finer stones of a lesser size. The plaid being plaited all round, was tied with a belt below the breast.
The belt was of leather, and several pieces of silver intermixed with the leather like a chain. The lower end of the belt has a
piece of plate about eight inches long and three in breadth, curiously engraven, the end of which was adorned with fine stones or pieces of red coral. The cone sleeves of scarlet cloth, closed at the end as men's vests, with gold lace round them, having plate buttons set with fine stones. The head dress was a finelinen kerchief strait about the head, hanging down the back taper-wise. A large lock of hair hangs down their cheeks above their breast, the lower end tied with a knot of ribbands. The islanders have a great respect for their chiefs and heads of tribes, and they conclude grace after every meal with a petition to God for their welfare and prosperity. Neither will they, as far as in them lies, suffer them to sink under any misfortune ; but in case of a decay of estate, make a voluntary contribution on their behalf, as a common duty to support the credit of their families.
Simon Lord Lovat in 1699 erected a monument in the church-yard of Kilmuir, Durinish, to his father, Thomas Eraser of
Beaufort, who died at Dunvegan while on a visit to his wife's relations, in May of that year, only three months before the death of Roderick Macleod of Macleod, treated of in our last. The monument, which is of freestone, is still standing, but thirty-five or forty years ago the white marble which contained the inscription fell out and was broken in fragments. The inscription was as follows :
" This pyramid was erected by Simon Lord Eraser of Lovat in honour of Lord Thomas, his father, a peer of Scotland,
and Chief of the great and ancient Clan of the Erasers. Beingattacked for his birthright by the family of Athole, then in power and favor with King William, yet, by the valour and fidelity of his Clan, and the assistance of the Campbells, the old friends and allies of his family, he defended his birthright with such greatness and firmity of soul, and such valour and activity, that he was an honour to his name, and a good pattern to all brave chiefs of clans. He died in the month of May, 1699, in the 63d year of his age, in Dunvegan, the house of the Laird of Macleod, whose sister he had married ; by whom he had the above Simon Lord Eraser, and several other children. And, for the great love he bore the family of Macleod, he desired to be buried near his wife's relations, in the place where two of her uncles lay. And his son, Lord Simon, to show to posterity his great affection for his mother's kindred, the brave Macleods, chooses rather to leave his father's bones with them than carry them to his own burial place near Lovat."
About this time there lived in Skye, about two miles south of the village of Portree, a celebrated man known as Aodh or Hugh Macqueen. From his great stature and intellectual superiority, he was known in Gaelic as Aodh Mor MacCuinn. He was distinguished for his integrity and sound judgment, and, generally speaking, when any questions of difficulty arose between the tenants and their proprietors, or among themselves, he was resorted to as arbitrator, when his decisions were usually accepted as final.
On one occasion two of Macleods tenants came to him to decide a dispute which had arisen between them. One of
them had a cow, which, slipping over a precipice by the sea, fell into the other man's boat, which was moored at the foot of the rock, stove a hole in it, and was itself killed. The owner of the boat claimed damages for the injury to his property, while the owner of the cow denied liability, and pleaded that if the boat had not been there, his cow might not have been killed, for it would have fallen into the sea. Macleod himself, to whom the case was first referred, had some difficulty in deciding it, so he advised them to consult Aodh, to whose house he accompanied them. The dispute being laid fully before Aodh, he asked whose property the cow was, to which the owner replied that it was his. Aodh then asked whose was the boat, and received a similar reply from the other man. "And whose was the rock?" said Aodh. " Macleod's" was the answer. "Then," said Aodh, "it appears to me that the accident would not have happened were it not for the rock, and I therefore decide that Macleod shall pay the owners the price of both the boat and the cow." Macleod who was better able to pay than either of his tenants, at once complied with Aodh's decision, and paid the value of both boat and cow.
On another occasion, two men were fishing from a rock near Portree on a very stormy day. An extra high wave carried one
of them off his seat into the sea, and the other was only able to reach his drowning companion with his fishing line, the hook of which fixed in his eye. By this means he was hauled ashore, but he lost the use of his eye in consequence. Happening some time after to quarrel with his deliverer, he demanded damages from him for the loss of his eye. The novel dispute was referred to Aodh, who promptly ruled that, whenever there was a storm equal to the one during which the accident took place, the pursuer should go into the sea again at the same place, and, if he gained the shore without any assistance, the defender would then be found liable in damages for the loss of the eye. The pursuer, however, did not quite see the propriety of this course, and nothing more was heard of his claim against the man who had saved him from a watery grave.
Macleod married in September, 1703, Anne Fraser, second daughter of Hugh, eleventh Lord Lovat, by Lady Amilia Murray, daughter of John, Marquis of Athole. She married, secondly, Peter Fotheringham of Powrie, with issue ; and, thirdly, John, second Earl of Cromarty, also with issue.
By her Roderick Macleod had issue one son, Norman, born after his father's death, and by whom he was succeeded in the estates of the family and as Chief of the Clan.
Father: John Breac Macleod
Mother: Florence Macdonald
Ann Fraser of Lovat
- Norman Macleod 21st Chief Macleod of Macleod