Mary MacLeod
b: 1543
d: AFT 1602
DUNVEGAN, Edinburgh, The Clan MacLeod Society, 1969, pp. 17-18. Alick
Morrison, THE CHIEFS OF CLAN MACLEOD, East Kilbride, Scotland, 1986.
It is not known where Mary was born, but it was probably at Dunvegan,
and probably she spent a part of her early childhood there. Her father,
William, the 9th Chief, died in 1551, and his death created a difficult
situation. He had held his lands in Harris, Glenelg and Skye (including a
part of Trotternish, which was in the possession of the MacDonalds of
Sleat) by a charter of 1542 with remainder to heirs general, while the
Island of North Uist, Sleat and the rest of Trotternish (also MacDonald
lands) had been granted to his father and himself with remainder to
heirs male. This meant that the legal owner of the ancient heritage of
the Clan MacLeod was Mary, while her father''s next brother, Donald, was
in name only the possessor of lands occupied by another clan. At a
meeting of the Clan MacLeod, which was always held after the funeral of
a chief, they put aside Mary''s claims, and as her uncles were away, and it
was not known whether they were alive or not, the temporary leadership
of the Clan was given to Iain a''Chuil Bhain (John of the Fair Cue), who
was her great-grandfather. It was felt that a young girl would be of no
use in governing the clan and leading it in war. Since the chiefship of a
clan, however, did not and does not depend on the clan''s consent, being
hereditary and not elective, Mary was Chief DE JURE from the day of her
father''s death until the return of her uncle Donald, who was the heir
The clansmen''s decision at Rodel in Harris that Iain a''Chuil Bhain should
take upon himself the leadership of the clan meant that Mary and her
mother had to leave the Castle of Dunvegan, which now became his home,
and we have no knowledge where they went after leaving Skye.
Agnes Fraser, Mary''s mother, probably did not have much say in the
upbringing of her daughter, who, being the legal owner of the MacLeod
lands, was a ward of the Crown. Her wardship was a prize not beneath
the notice of the greatest nobles in Scotland. In 1553 the Earl of Huntly
got the coveted wardship, but in 1555 he fell into disgrace with the
Queen Regen, who forced him to relinquish his claims to the heiress,
whose wardship he was on the point of selling to the Earl of Argyll, and
hand Mary over to herself. Argyll, however, did not give up all hope of
getting the prize for himself. In 1558, the year after her uncle Donald''s
murder, the Earl sent a party of Campbells to Skye to ascertain what
chance there was of any husband he might choose for her being accepted
as Chief of the Clan. The Campbells were received at Dunvegan by Iain
Dubh (son of Iain a''Chuil Bhain), who had them all treacherously
murdered, [For an account of the massacre of the Campbells, see HISTORY
OF THE MACLEODS, pp. 33-34.] and Argyll was convinced that Mary and a
Campbell husband would never be acceptable to the MacLeods. Argyll
died in this year, but his successor, the 5th Earl, in 1560, entered into
negotiations with Mary''s uncle, Norman, for the Campbells were
determined to get the heiress into their hands to serve their own
interests, as we shall see later on.
In 1562, the same year as her mother''s Contract of Marriage with
Alexander Bayne of Tulloch, Mary''s person was in the possession of
Kenneth MacKenzie of Kintail, illegally it would appear, for Mary, Queen
of Scots, ordered him to present her to herself. The MacKenzie Chief
appeared on 21st May of that year, and maintained he could not give up
the heiress because James MacDonald of Dunnyveg was bringing an action
against him before the Lords of Session for her possession. Her Majesty
assured MacKenzie that he would not be held guilty by MacDonald of
Dunnyveg or anybody else, and insisted on his handing her over to her.
Thus Mary MacLeod went to Court. Whether she was one of the Queen''s
MARIES or not, we do not know, but that she was at the Court of Mary,
Queen of Scots, from 1562 to 1565, is proved by entries in the Accounts
of the Lord High Treasurer.
The Earl of Argyll finally obtained the wardship of Mary in 1566. In
that year the Earl made an agreement with her uncle, Norman, in which
he promised, among other things, to find Mary a husband. And he
implemented his promise by giving her in marriage to his kinsman,
Dugald Campbell of Castle Sween, a son of Sir Duncan Campbell of
Auchinbreck. The marriage is said in Burke''s PEERAGE [1938, p. 480] to
have taken place in 1573, but this date must be incorrect as there is a
discharge, dated 1571, from Mary in existence, in which she states she
is the ''spouse of an honourable man Dugald Campbell''. [The discharge is
among papers relating to Mary MacLeod in the Muniment Room in
Dunvegan Castle. On these papers is based the above account of Mary''s
life-history, supplemented by an article, entitled: AN HEIRESS OF THE
ISLES, by Mrs. Osbaldeston-Mitford (Brenda MacLeod) in THE CLAN
MACLEOD MAGAZINE.] By Dugald Campbell of Auchinbreck, she had issue....
It is said that Mary of Dunvegan married Roderick MacNeil of Barra after
the death of Duncan [sic? Dugald] Campbell. We do not know the exact
date of Mary''s death, but she was living in 1602.
The Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair, in THE MACNEILS OF BARRA (CELTIC
REVIEW, III, p. 217), gives the marriage of Mary to Roderick MacNeil as
an established fact without supplying any documentary evidence. Vide
MACLEOD MEMORIAL (ca. 1767), p. 15.
  • 1543 - Birth -
  • AFT 1602 - Death -
  • Nobility Title - X Chief
William MacLeod
1505 - SEP 1551
Mary MacLeod
1543 - AFT 1602
Agnes Fraser
- (29 JAN 1594/1595)
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) William MacLeod
DeathSEP 1551 Dunvegan,Duirinish,Isle of Skye,Scotland
Marriage13 APR 1540to Agnes Fraser
FatherAlexander Alisdair_Crotach MacLeod
Mother[youngest_dau] Cameron
PARENT (F) Agnes Fraser
Death(29 JAN 1594/1595)
Marriage13 APR 1540to William MacLeod
Marriage2 MAY 1562to Alexander Bayne
FMary MacLeod
DeathAFT 1602
Marriageto Roderick MacNeil
MarriageABT 1571to Duncan Dugald Campbell
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Roderick MacNeil
Marriageto Mary MacLeod
PARENT (F) Mary MacLeod
DeathAFT 1602
Marriageto Roderick MacNeil
MarriageABT 1571to Duncan Dugald Campbell
FatherWilliam MacLeod
MotherAgnes Fraser
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Duncan Dugald Campbell
MarriageABT 1571to Mary MacLeod
FatherSir_Duncan Campbell
PARENT (F) Mary MacLeod
DeathAFT 1602
Marriageto Roderick MacNeil
MarriageABT 1571to Duncan Dugald Campbell
FatherWilliam MacLeod
MotherAgnes Fraser
MDugald Campbell
Marriageto Catherine Scrimgeour
Marriageto Mary Erskine
Marriageto Isabella Boyd
MDonald Campbell
BirthBEF 1603
DeathAFT 11 MAY 1603
FElizabeth Campbell
FMary Campbell
Descendancy Chart