Being based on Celtic origins, Clan Mackenzie is looking back on a very ancient history. The name Mackenzie ("Son of Kenneth") is deduced from the Gaelic "Mac Coinneach" ("Son of the fair one"). We know two traditions that tell us about the true origin of Clan Mackenzie. The first one dates back to the 12th century and focuses on a Highlander called Gilleoin of the Aird, who is said to be the ancestor of the powerful Earls of Ross as well. The other tradition is much more popular and deduces the Clan's decent from the House of Geraldine, in Ireland.
Whatever the truth may be, Colin of Kintail descended from one of these two blood lines. He successfully aided King Alexander III, in repelling the invasion of the Norwegian King Haco. In gratitude for this service Alexander erected a free Barony by charter and gave him Eilean Donan Castle as well as a grant of the lands of Kintail. Thus Colin became the first feudal Baron of Kintail. He married a daughter of Kenneth MacMatheson, Chief of Clan Matheson. They had a son who is said to be named after his father-in-law, Kenneth. In 1274 Colin got murdered in Lochalsh by a MacMatheson. His grandson, Coinneach Mac Coinneach ("Kenneth, Son of Kenneth"), 3rd Baron of Kintail, altered the Gaelic name into the English "Mackenzie".
Alasdair Mackenzie, 7th Chief of Clan Mackenzie, was one of the king's most important allies in his fight against the powerful Clan MacDonald, who, along with the Lord of the Isles, was posing a serious threat to the crown. The MacDonalds were heavily defeated by the Mackenzies at the Battle of Blar-Na-Pairce (1477), the Lord of the Isles was overthrown. Alasdair got his reward in MacDonald lands. With Eilean Donan Castle as their base, the Mackenzies spread throughout Ross-Shire into the Isle of Lewis and the Outer Hebrides. In the following years they moved their seat to Kinellan near Strathpeffer, before building Brahan Castle.
The Mackenzies supported Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI against their Gaelic neighbours which helped them to continue their rise to power, and to gain more influence and lands.
In 1609, the Chief was made Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, in 1623 his eldest son became Earl of Seaforth. Another branch of the Mackenzies became the Earls of Cromartie. At the end of the 17th century Lord Seaforth became one of the most powerful Clan Chiefs of Scotland (the others were the Dukes of Argyll, Atholl and Gordon). The Mackenzies held the largest territory in the Highlands.
But in the 18th century the Mackenzies' loyalty to the Stewart Kings brought about their downfall. Remaining steadfastly at the Jacobites' side the Clan raised an army of about 3000 men. They fought the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719, where the Chief himself was among those who got severely wounded. George Mackenzie, the 3rd Earl of Cromartie, led the Clan Mackenzie men at the Battle of Falkirk (1746). On April 15th, 1746, one day prior to the Battle of Culloden, George Mackenzie and his son were captured at Dunrobin Castle by English government forces. The Mackenzies were prevented from joining the Jacobite army at the battle and the Earl of Cromartie's title was then forfeited. It is not known how many Mackenzies finally managed to join in the battle.
In the following years the Mackenzies were among those who raised troops for the English Government. Kenneth 6th Earl, had the title of Earl of Seaforth restored in 1771. He raised the 1000 strong 72nd Regiment, the Old Seaforth Highlanders. In 1777 the Highland Light Infantry was raised from the Mackenzie Clan. The last Lord Seaforth, Francis Humberston Mackenzie, raised the 78th Seaforth Highlanders in 1793.
In the course of the 18th and 19th centuries most of the Mackenzies' territories were sold and their influence was constantly waning. Many Mackenzies emigrated then, primarily to America and Canada.
In 1861 the earldom of Cromartie was restored. In 1962 Roderick Grant Francis Mackenzie became 4th Earl of Cromartie, and in 1979 Lord Lyon acknowledged him as Chief of Clan Mackenzie. After his death in 1989, his son John Ruarid Grant Mackenzie became 5th Earl of Cromartie and new Chief ("Cabarfeidh") of Clan Mackenzie.
More about the Clan Mackenzie:
Clan Chief - Cabarfeidh
John Ruaridh Grant Mackenzie
5th Earl of Cromartie
Viscount Tarbat, Baron Castlehaven
Baron MacLeod of Castle Leod
Home of the Earl of Cromartie and spiritual seat of the Clan Mackenzie is Castle Leod in Strathpeffer.
LUCEO NON URO = I shine, not burn
CUIDICH 'N RIGH = Help the King
War Cry: TULACH ARD! (High Hill)
Ard Hill is a wooded promontory on Lochalsh, south of Reraig. It is enshrined in Mackenzie Clan Law.
When the Clan needed to communicate with all it’s Clan members, usually to rally them in times of trouble, a barrel of tar would be set alight at the top of the hill. This image of the burning mount became the Seaforths’ badge and ‘Tulloch Ard’ (the High Hillock) was the Clan MacKenzie’s war cry and slogan.
The colours of the Mackenzie Tartan are green and blue with white and red lines.
green for grassland and forest
blue for the sky and the sea
white for purity
red for the blood of the fallen warriors
Septs of the Clan Mackenzie
There are several variations in the spelling of the name Mackenzie. Here are the most important:
MacKenzie, McKenzie, Macenzie, McEnzie, Makenzie, MaKenzie, M'Kenzie, Kenny, Kenney, MacKenny, MacKenney, McKenny, McKenney, Mackinzie, McKinzie, MacKinney, McKinney.
other Septs are
Charles, Charleson, Clunes, Clunies, Cross, Iverach, Iverson, Ivory, Kenneth, Kennethson, Kinnach, Kynoch, Macaweeney, MacBeolain, MacBeath, MacBeth, MacConnach, MacCure, Maceur, MacIver, MacIvor, MacKenna, MacKenney, MacKerlich, MacKinna, MacKinney, MacKinnie, MacLeay, MacMurchie, MacMurchy, MacQueenie, MacThearliach, MacVanish, MacVennie, MacVinish, MacVinnie, MacWeeny, MacWhinnie, Makiver, Murchie, Murchison, Smart, Tuach.