From ScotsWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Clan MacKinnon


Clan Mackinnon or Clan Fingon is a Highland Scottish chiefly clan associated with the islands of Mull and Skye, in the Inner Hebrides.


Popular tradition gives the clan a Dalriadic Gaelic origin. The 19th-century historian W. F. Skene named the clan as one of the seven clans of Siol Alpin, who according to Skene could all trace their ancestry back to Alpin, father of Cináed mac Ailpín.<ref>Skene, William Forbes. The Highlanders of Scotland, Their Origin, History, And Antiquities. (John Murray, 1837) 258-260</ref>

According to Plean and Squire, the MacKinnons are descended from Cinead MacAlpin, through Fingon, grandson of Gregor.<ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia (Barnes and Noble 1994) 228</ref> However this is likely to be medieval psuedohistory rather than a reflection of historical fact.

Popular tradition has been until recently to consider Cináed mac Ailpín the first King of Scots and a Gael, however recent research speculates Cináed was a Pictish king and possibly even a Pict himself.<ref> (accessed 16th June 2014)</ref>

'Fingon' in Gaelic means 'fairborn'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref> From this the surname MacKinnon is dervived from the Gaelic Mc Fhionghuin (fair son). The Anglicised Mackinnon can also derive from the Gaelic Mac Ionmhuinn, a similar patronymic name meaning "son of the beloved one".

Iona Abbey

This personal name appears in the Book of Deer, in the genitive form as Finguni. <ref>Byars, Merlene Hutto. Our British Heritage – Volume III: Fight for Independence and Freedom, 246-247</ref>Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk speculated that Clan Mackinnon belonged to the kindred of Saint Columba, noting the Mackinnon Arms bore the hand of the saint holding the Cross, and the several Mackinnon abbots of Iona. <ref>Sir Ian Moncreiffe of that Ilk,The Highland Clans. (Barrie & Rockliff, 1967) 70-71</ref> In the Annals of the Four Masters, a Fínghin, described as "anchorite and Bishop of Iona", is recorded as dying in 966. <ref>Annals of the Four Masters. M964.3 Retrieved on 18 November 2007 Fínghin, angcoire & epscop Ia, d'éc</ref> The last MacKinnon abbot of Iona died in 1500.<ref>David Dorward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames (Harper Collins, 2000) 222</ref>

Because of the derivation from 'fair born' some "Mackinvens" have Anglicised their name to Love or Low, although fewer people with these surnames actually derive their name this way, and most have no connection with the Mackinnons.<ref>Byars, 246–247</ref>

According to legend, the castle of Dunakin (today known as Caisteal Maol), near Kyleakin, was built by a Norwegian princess who married Findanus, the claimed ancestor of Clan Mackinnon around 800.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref> This castle was a Broch which commanded the narrow sound between Skye and the mainland. The early MacKinnons ran a heavy chain across the sound and levied a toll on shipping.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref> King Haakon IV assembled his fleet below the castle before its defeat at the Battle of Largs in 1263. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref>

According to the nineteenth century historian Donald Gregory the first authentic record of the clan is found in an indenture between John of Islay, Lord of the Isles and the Lord of Lorn, in 1354. In the indenture, Lorn agreed to hand over the Isle of Mull and other lands, if the castle of Cairn na Burgh, located on Cairn na Burgh Mòr in the Treshnish Isles, was not delivered into the keeping of any of 'Clan Finnon'. <ref>Gregory, 80–81</ref>

Middle Ages

The MacKinnons on Arran are said to have given shelter to Robert the Bruce and helped him escape to Carrick.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref> Following the victory at Bannockburn they were awarded land on Skye. The chiefs then adopted the title 'of Strathardale' and lived at Dunringall Castle.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref> Dunakin passed to another branch of the family.

According to a manuscript history of the MacDonalds, Finnon, known as the Green Abbot 'a subtle and wicked councillor' persuaded John Mor MacDonald to rebel against his older brother, Domhnall. The MacDonald history states that the MacKinnon chief was hanged for his part in the uprising. <ref>The Iona Club (ed). Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis. (Edinburgh: Thomas G. Stevenson, 1847) 56-67</ref>

The clan regularly feuded with Clan Mclean.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref>

Seventeenth Century

On 12 July 1606 Lauchlan Mackinnon of Strathairdle and Finlay Macnab of Bowaine, entered into a Bond of Friendship and Manrent.<ref>Maclauchlan, Thomas & Wilson, John & Keltie, John Scott. A History of the Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments. (Edinburgh and London: A. Fullarton & Co., 1875)256</ref>

James VI

In the bond the two chiefs claimed to "come from ane house and one lineage", and promised to lend aid to each other. The chief of Clan Mackinnon signed his name, Lauchland, mise Mac Fingon.<ref>Maclauchlan, Thomas & Wilson, John & Keltie, John Scott. A History of the Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments. (Edinburgh and London: A. Fullarton & Co., 1875)256</ref>This bond was seen as further proof, by Skene, that the Mackinnons were descended from Siol Alpin. Another bond of manrent, this time between the Mackinnons and MacGregors, has also been seen as proof of a Siol Alpin descent.

Since the reign of James IV the Scots kings had worked to undermine the power of the chiefs in the Western Isles. In 1606 James IV sent Lord Ochiltree to Mull to propose changes in the government of the isles to the chiefs, and when negotiations failed Ochiltree had them arrested and imprisoned in various castles. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 228</ref> In 1609 Lachlan MacKinnon of that Ilk and other chiefs were forced to subscribe to the Statutes of Iona, which placed many restrictions upon them.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref>

Despite this treatment, the chiefs remained loyal to the Stuarts. They fought in the Marquess of Montrose's army at Inverlochy in 1645. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref> At the time their young chief, Lachlan Mor, was held captive by the covenanting Earl of Argyll.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref> In 1650 Lachlan was able to raise a regiment which fought for Charles II at the Battle of Worcester and was knighted by the king on the battlefield.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref> If this story is true this was the last case in Britain of a sovereign dispensing a knighthood on the battlefield. <ref> (accessed 16th June 2014)</ref> However other authorities consider the story doubtful. <ref>Smibert, Thomas, The Clans of the Highlands of Scotland. (Edinburgh: James Hogg. 1850) 145-147</ref>

On 1671, in Kilmorie, Lauchlan Mackinnon of Strahairdle and James Macgregor of Macgregor, entered into the bond, stating that the two chiefs descended "fra twa breethren of auld descent".<ref>Maclauchlan & Wilson & Keltie, 256–258</ref>

An indication of the relative extent of the estates of the three great chiefs of Skye at the end of the 17th century is afforded by the amount of rental for each: £7,000 for Macleod, £6,200 for Macdonald and £2,400 for Mackinnon. <ref>Alexander Nicolson, History of Skye (3rd edition, Islands Book Trust, 2012) 128</ref>


The chief sent 150 men to join the Earl of Mar at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 and was as a result declared forfeit for treason. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref>However the chief, Iain Dubh, and the lands survived. <ref> (accessed 16th June 2014)</ref> Iain Dubh, then in his seventies, fought again for the Jacobites in 1745 at Culloden.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref> The clan provided shelter to Charles Edward Stuart in a cave on his escape from Culloden and the chief provided a galley to take the prince to Mallaig, avoiding government warships.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref>

For this he was arrested and taken to London, where he was imprisoned in a prison ship until eventually released due to his advanced years. Despite this he remained a defient and unrepentant Jacobite. <ref> (accessed 16th June 2014)</ref>

He was suceeded in 1756 by his son Charles. However this line died out in 1808. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref>

Nineteenth Century

In 1811 William Mackinnon, MP for the rotten borough of Dunwich (most of which had been consumed by the sea centuries previously) matriculated arms in the Lyon Court which showed his descent from Daniel, second son of Lachlan Mor, who had emigrated to Antigiua following a family quarrel.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref>

A later attempt by the Mackinnons of Corriechatachan (a cadet branch) to claim the chiefship generated a great deal of controversy and a certain amount of local support in Skye, but proved ultimately fruitless. <ref>Over 150 male clan members from Skye presented a "humble address" to Corriechatachan in 1848</ref>

The new chief's second son, Sir William MacKinnon served in the Grenadier Guards and became director of recruitment at the War Office during the First World War.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 229</ref>


The present chief is Anne MacKinnon, Sir William's granddaughter. She is the thirty-eighth chief.