Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Moray, Province of

Moray, Province of, an extensive district lying to the S of the inner portion of the firth just described. It is almost co-extensive with one of the seven provinces into which, during the Celtic period, we find the whole of modern Scotland divided. The northern boundary was the Moray Firth and the river Beauly as far as Kilmorack; from this point the line passed to the S along the watershed between Glen Farrar and the streams flowing to Loch Ness. After rounding the upper end of Glen Clunie it turned eastward along the watershed between Glen Loyne and Glen Garry, and between the river Garry and the streams flowing to the river Oich; then SE by the lower end of Loch Lochy, as far as the SW end of Loch Laggan, and on to Beinn Chumbann, whence it followed the line between the modern counties of Inverness and Perth, by Loch Ericht, the Athole Sow, and Carn-na-Caim, to Cairn Ealar. From that hill it followed the boundary of Inverness-shire and Banffshire, along the Cairngorms, and down the Water of Ailnack. Here, however, it left the county boundaries and followed this stream to the Aven above Tomintoul, and then followed the course of the Aven to the Spey, and the latter river back to the Moray Firth. The province thus included within its limit the whole of the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the mainland division of the county of Inverness, and a portion of the county of Banff. In later times the signification has sometimes been considered as rather co-extensive with the sway of the Bishop of Moray, and so with the jurisdiction of the modern synod, but this must hold true as applying more to ecclesiastical authority than to territorial limits. At one time the province must have stretched across the island from sea to sea, for, in one of the statutes of William the Lyon, Ergadia, i.e., Arregaithel, or the whole district W of the watershed between the German Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, and extending from Loch Broom on the N to Cantyre on the S, is divided into ' Ergadia, which belongs to Scotia, ' and ' Ergadia which belongs to Moravia. ' This part afterwards fell into the hands of the Earls of Ross. The Highland line, marking the division between the Highlands and the Lowlands, passed across the province in a general north westerly direction from the junction of the Aven and Spey to the mouth of the river Nairn; the part to the NE of this line being peopled with Lowlanders, who suffered continually from the peculiar ideas entertained by their Highland neighbours regarding meum and tuum. Peopled by an alien race, whose introduction will be noticed afterwards, greatly more peaceable, and less acquainted with the use of arms than the inhabitants of the Highland districts, the rich and fertile plain of Moray was regarded by the Highland Caterans as open and ever available spoliage ground, where every marauder might, at his convenience, seek his prey. So late in fact as the time of Charles I., the Highlanders continually made forays on the country, and seem to have encountered marvellously little resistance. In 1645 we find Cameron of Lochiel apologising to the laird of Grant for having carried off cattle from the tenant of Moyness, and giving the reasons that he ' knew not that Moyness was ane Graunt, but thocht that he was ane Moray man,' and that the spoilers did not intend to hurt the laird of Grant's friends but to take booty from ' Morray land quhare all men take their prey.' The Moray people, it has been remarked, appear to have resembled the quiet saturnine Dutch settlers of North America who, when plundered by the Red Indians, were too fat either to resist or to pursue, and considered only how they might repair their losses; and the Celts, looking on the Low. landers as strangers and intruders, thought them quite fair game, and could never comprehend how there could be any crime in robbing a ' Moray man.' So late as 1565, as appears from the rental of the church-lands in that year, the inhabitants of the ' laich ' remained entirely a distinct people from the Highlanders, and all bore names of purely lowland origin. Nearly all the interest of Moray as a province, and often all the associations of the name are connected with its lowlands in the N. These have long been famed for mildness and dryness of climate, though the rivers that wind through them, having their sources among mountains high enough to arrest the moisture brought in from the Atlantic by the south-west winds, are sometimes liable to sudden freshets. The great floods of 1829, so admirably recorded in Sir Thomas Dick Lauder's The Moray Floods, form an extreme example. Probably no part of Scotland, not even East Lothian, can compete with Moray in regard to the number of spontaneous testimonies which have been borne to the richness of its soil. An old and common saying asserts that Moray has, according to some versions, 15, according to others, 40 days more of summer than most other parts of Scotland. Holinshed (practically an Anglicised form of Bellenden's translation of Boece's Chronicle) says, ' In Murrey land also is not onelie great plentie of wheat, barlie, otes, and suchlike graine, besides nuts and apples, but likewise of all kinds of fish, and especially of salmon. ' George Buchanan extols the province as superior to any other district in the kingdom in the mildness of its climate and the richness of its pastures. ' So abundant, ' he says, ' is this district in corn and pasturage, and so much beautified as well as enriched by fruit trees, that it may truly be pronounced the first county in Scotland. ' Whitelock. in Cromwell's time, says, 'Ashfield's regiment was marched into Murray-land, which is the most fruitful country in Scotland. ' William Lithgow (l583-l645), after glancing at Clydesdale and the Carse of Gowrie, says, ' The third most beautiful soil is the delectable plain of Moray, whose comely gardens, enriched with cornes, plantings, pasturage, stately dwellings, overfaced with a generous Octavian gentry, and toped with a noble Earl, its chief patron, may be called a second Lombardy, or pleasant meadow of the north.' Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch, describing the province in 1640, says, ' In salubrity of climate, Moray is not inferior to any, and in richness and fertility of soil it much exceeds our other northern provinces. The air is so temperate, that when all around is bound up in the rigour of winter, there are neither lasting snows nor such frosts as damage fruits or trees. There is no product of this kingdom which does not thrive there perfectly, or, if any fail, it is to be attributed to the sloth of the inhabitants, not to the fault of the soil or climate. Corn, the earth pours forth in wonderful and never-failing abundance. Fruits of all sorts, herbs, flowers, pulse are in the greatest plenty, and all early. While harvest has scarcely begun in surrounding districts, there all is ripe and cut down, and carried into open barnyards, as is the custom of the country; and, in comparison with other districts, winter is hardly felt. The earth is almost always open, the sea navigable, and the roads never stopped. So much of the soil is occupied by crops of corn, however, that pasture is scarce; for this whole district is devoted to corn and tillage. But pasture is found at no great distance, and is abundant in the upland country, and a few miles inland; and thither the oxen are sent to graze in summer when the labour of the season is over. Nowhere is there better meat nor cheaper corn, not from scarcity of money but from the abundance of the soil. ' Notwithstanding, however, this fertility, years of comparative scarcity were by no means infrequent. During the summer of 1743, the dear year, ' so memorable all over Scotland, thousands of the people of Moray wandered among the fields devouring sorrel, the leaves and stems of unfilled pulse, and whatever could mitigate the pangs of hunger, while many died of actual starvation or diseases brought on by want of food. Even so late as 1782, the noted year of the ' frosty har'st, ' or harvest, the province suffered severely from famine. When the era of agricultural improvement set in, and many districts, becoming aware of their poverty, made a sudden and strenuous movement towards wealth, Moray was content to live on its fame, and so soon lost its pre-eminence, which it has, however, since regained, as may be seen from the notices of the agricultural condition of the counties of Elgin, Nairn, and Inverness. Some portions were long rendered barren by a curious layer known as ' Moray Coast ' or ' Pan.' This was a thin stratum of sand and gravel which, by the infiltration of black oxide of iron, had become a hard compact mass, capable of damaging ploughs when brought into contact with it. It at the same time occurs at the distance of about a foot from the surface, and offers unconquerable resistance to the attempts of trees or shrubs to penetrate it with their roots. The only method of de ling with it is to lay it bare, break it up with a pickaxe, and expose the fragments to the slow influence of the weather. The physical characteristics and present condition of the province are discussed in the articles on the counties of Inverness, Elgin, Nairn, and Banff, and it remains here to notice historical details connected rather with the district as a whole than with the individual counties into which it has been broken up.

At the beginning of the Christian era we find the eastern part of Moray inhabited by the Vacomagi, to the W of whom were the Caledonii with, according to Ptolemy, a town called Banatia, on the E side of the river Ness; another called Ptoroton, on the promontory where Burghead now stands; and a third called Tuessis, on the bank of the Spey; and subsequently we find the district included in Northern Pictavia, of which the capital was situated somewhere near Inverness. The Pictish nation seems to have been formed by a union of various Celtic tribes or tuaths which united to form mortuaths or confederations, and these mortuaths again to form a larger confederation embracing the whole realm. The mortuaths were governed by Mormaers, and seem to have corresponded to the districts that afterwards became the provinces governed by the original great territorial Earls of Scotland. That the country N of the Firths of Forth and Clyde was, during the Celtic period of its history, divided into seven- provinces is certain, and there are, in the older records, accounts of them by name. One dating from the 12th century tells us that the region formerly known as Alban, was divided by seven brothers into seven parts. ' The principal part was Engus and Moerne, so-called from Engus, the eldest of the brothers. The second part was Adtheodhle and Gouerin. The third Strathdeern and Meneted. The fourth Fif and Fothreve. The fifth Mar and Buchen. The sixth Muref and Ros. The seventh Cathanesia Cismontane and Ultramontane.' The seven brothers were the seven kings of these districts, and are regarded by Dr Skene as the Eponymi of the people of the seven provinces. The tuaths themselves seem to have corresponded with the smaller divisions that appear as thanages, and so we may identify the localities of some of them by the thanedoms of Dyke, Brodie, Moyness, and Cawdor, along the shore of the Moray Firth between the river Nairn and the Burn of Lethen; the great district of Moravia proper between the Lethen and the Lossie; and along the Lossie farther E was Kilmalemnock, the greater part of which now forms the parish of St Andrews-Lhanbryd and Essy. Cromdale and Rothiemurchus seem also to have been thanedoms. The Mormaers were also styled Ri or King, and one, termed the Ardri, always held a loose sway over all. The succession was tanistic, that is, hereditary in a family but elective as to the person, the senior male capable of ruling being chosen in preference to the direct descendant; and it seems even to have been regulated by that particular form where the supreme power passed alternately from one to the other of two branches of a family. It will be seen from what has been said already, that at this early date Moray and Ross were united and formed but one province. The oldest form of the name seems Moreb or Muireb, and Morovia and Moravia also occur.

In the latter part of the 9th century Harald Harfager having swept the northern seas of the Vikings, made offer of the Jarldom of Orkney to one of his most noted warriors Rögnvald, who, however, preferring -to return to Norway, obtained Harald's consent to making over the dignity and dominion to his brother Sigurd. Though the tenure of the Jarldom was conditional on his suppression of Viking plundering, this ruler seems to have had somewhat elastic notions as to how far this was binding in the case of raids made on other countries than Norway, and consequently we find him invading Scotland, and making himself master of a considerable portion of the North. According to one account, he held ' all Caithness and much more of Scotland- Maerhaefui (Moray) and Ross-and he built a burg on the southern border of Maerhaefui. ' He did not, however, long enjoy his conquests, for, as has been noticed in the article Forres, he died of a wound inflicted by the tooth of the dead Mormaer Melbrigda or Malbride, whose head he was carrying fastened to his saddle. On Sigurd's death the Jarldom reverted to the descendants of Rögnvald, and they were, for long, so much occupied with family fends that probably they were unable to bestow much thought or attention on a turbulent province, and so, during the greater part of the 10th century, Moray must have been more or less free from the Norse dominion and under the independent rule of its native Mormaers. According to the Landnamabok, Thorstein conquered the whole of the north, and forced more than half of Scotland to acknowledge him as king, but his conquest, if ever firm, must have been of but short duration. The people of Moray were, however, only relieved from attack on the N to have to meet it from the S. The kings of Alban had begun to dream of a united Scotland under one ruler, and in the beginning of the 10th century Donald II. was slain at Forres, whither he seems to have penetrated on a military expedition. His son, Malcolm I., was, according to the Ulster Annals, slain at Fetteresso by the men of the Mearns in 954, but later annalists attribute his death to the men of Moray, and fix it at Ulern or Vlern near Forres, which used formerly to be identified with Auldearn, but which is more probably Blervie, which is close to Forres. The locality was very fatal to the family, for Duff, Malcolm's son and successor, is also said to have been killed at Forres by the governor of the castle in 967. His body was concealed in a deep pool under a bridge near at hand, and till it was found the sun did not shine on the spot.

Towards the end of the century, however, matters once more changed as regarded the Norse. The Mormaer then was Melbrigda, son of Ruaidhri, who in the quarrel for power between Liotr and Skùli, the greatgrandsons of Rögnvald, seems to have sided with the latter. Both leaders were slain, but Liotr's party triumphed. That ruler was in 980 succeeded by his nephew, Sigurd the Stout, who, either from a desire to avenge his kinsman's death, or from wish for greater power, proceeded vigorously to assert the old rights, and, after a severe struggle, succeeded in wresting the province from ' Findlaec, son of Ruadri, Mormaer Moreb, ' brother of the Melbrigda just mentioned, and the Finnleikr Jarl of the Sagas. Sigurd fell in 1014 at the battle of Cluantarbh or Clontarf, fighting against Brian Boroime, King of Munster, and after his death, Findlaec once more became ruler of Moray, and reigned till 1020, when it is recorded that he was slain by the sons of his brother Melbrigda, one of whom, Malcolm, succeeded to power and ruled till his death. As both he and Findlaec are, in the Ulster Annals and in Tighernac, designated as Ri Albain, their dominion probably extended at this time beyond the limits of Moray proper, a supposition which is confirmed by the Book of Deer, in which it is recorded that this Malcolm gave to the clerics of Deer lands, situated, probably, in the neighbourhood of their monastery, and so in a district usually under the rule of the Kings of Alban. Malcolm was succeeded by his brother Gilcomgan, who was burned in his rath in 1032, probably by Maelbaethe, who is better known to us as Macbeth. From a notice in the Saxon Chronicle the province was then quite independent, and the Mormaer had the power of a Ri or King. It is there stated that King Cnut in 1031 invaded Scotland, and received the submission not only of the King of Scots but also of two other Kings, Maelbaethe and Iehmarc; and as Drumalban and the river Spey formed the boundaries of Scotland proper these two rulers would represent the districts lying beyond.

What was the real cause of the great contest that arose on the death of Malcolm ii. in 1034 will probably never be exactly settled, but, the male line being extinct, it in all probability originated in rival claims set up by Malcolm's grandsons. A daughter of Malcolm was the second wife of Sigurd the Stout, and the mother of his youngest son Thorfinn, who was, at his father's death in 1014, a boy of five years old. His grandfather created him Earl of Caithness, and by 1034 he held considerable power in the Orkneys besides. When Malcolm died, Duncan, who was the son of his eldest daughter, claimed the kingdom, and his claim was admitted by the southern part of the realm, but Thorfinn disputed his right to any part of the north. According to the sagas, Duncan, who there figures as Karl Hundason, desired to exact tribute and homage from Thorfinn, and on his refusal to render either, bestowed the title of Earl of Caithness on his nephew, or one of his leading supporters called Moddan, and about 1040 sent him northward with a large army to take possession of the region. Thorfinn, supported by Thorkel Fostri his foster-father and by his Norsemen, defeated Moddan, and driving him back beyond the Moray Firth, made war ' far and wide in Scotland. ' Duncan, bent on vengeance, got together a fleet and collected a very large army, ' as well from the south as the west and east of Scotland, and all the way south from Satiri [Kintyre]; and the forces for which Earl Modan had sent also came to him from Ireland. He sent far and near to chieftains for men, and brought all this army against Earl Thorfinn. ' The fleet was defeated in the neighbourhood of Duncansbay Head; and no better fortune awaited the army in the great struggle that took place somewhere between Burghead and Forres when

The wolves' bit [sword] reddened its edges
In the place called Torfness.
A young ruler was the cause.
This happened on a Monday.
In this congress south of Eckial,
The thin [well-sharpened] swords sung,
When the valiant prince fought
Against the ruler of Skotland.

Torfness seems to have been Burghead, where was probably the burg already referred to as having been built by Sigurd; while Eckial or Ekkial, which was by Worsaae, and afterwards by Dr Joseph Anderson in his edition of the Orkeyinga Saga, identified with the Oykel on the border of Sutherlandshire, is now by Dr Skene, and with much greater probability, considered to be the Findhorn-and indeed some of the accounts expressly say that the battle was fought ' south of Breidafiord, ' the Norse name for the Moray Firth. The Irish division was defeated almost at once; and a long and fierce contest between the Norwegians and the Scots, headed by Duncan himself, ended in the victory of Thorfinn and the flight of the Scottish king. What the fate of the latter was the writer of the saga does not seem to have known, for he adds doubtfully, ' some say he was slain, ' but by other writers it is recorded that he died at or near Elgin, and some of them even fix the place at Bothgouanan, which Dr Skene identifies with Pitgaveny. In the Register of St Andrews it is recorded that ' Donchath Mac-Trini abbatis de Dunkeld et Bethoc filiæ Malcolm-Mac-Kinat interfectus a Macbeth-MacFinleg in Bothgouanan et sep. in Iona;' but whether he died of his wounds or was murdered may be left somewhat doubtful, though the probabilities seem in favour of the latter. Be that as it may, Macbeth, who as Mormaer of Moray fought on the side of Duncan against the old enemies of his lands, at once after his defeat passed over to the side of the conqueror; and the new allies overran the kingdom as far S as the Firth of Forth, whereby Macbeth became able to style himself King of Moravia and of Scotland.

When Malcolm Ceannmor, the son of Duncan, came to his own again, Macbeth was slain in 1056 or 1057, and Lulag, son of the Gilcomgan already mentioned, succeeded as Mormaer of Moray, and for a short time maintained a claim to be styled King of Scotland. He does not seem to have been able to hold the lowlands against Malcolm, but to have retired to the mountain fastnesses of Lochaber, to a stronghold on Loch Deabhra, the glen leading to which is still known as Glen-Ri, near which he was slain in 1058. He was succeeded by his son Maelsnechtan or Maelsnechtai, who still maintained the independence of his native district, and who appears in 1078 again opposing Malcolm, who after the death of the great Thorfinn in 1064 seems to have made another powerful effort to gain a firm hold of the north. According to the Ulster Annals, and contrary to the usual fate of his race, Maelsnechtan died ' in peace ' in 1085 or in 1086. During the troubles that took place between the death of Ceannmor and the accession of Alexander I., the semi-independence of the province probably became more or less complete; and so it is not to be wondered at that we find the latter king, somewhere between 1114 and 1120-the Ulster Annals say 1116-compelled to assert his power by force of arms, and with such vigour and success that the Mormaer- probably Angus-was driven across the Firth into the mountain fastnesses of Ross and Sutherland. The death of Alexander and the accession of David I. provoked a fresh outbreak, headed by Angus, with whom was associated Malcolm, his brother, or, according to other accounts, an illegitimate son of Alexander i. This Angus was the son of a daughter of Lulag, who succeeded Macbeth, and therefore a nephew of the Maelsnechtan already mentioned, but, in accordance with the new feudal system, then slowly developing, he appears as Earl of Moray, so that Maelsnechtan was the last of the Mormaers. The leaders probably relied somewhat for success on the fact that, at the time (1130), David was in England, and that therefore much might be accomplished before he had time to oppose them; but in this they were deceived, for David's cousin, Edward, son of Siward, Earl of Mercia, raising a force, met and defeated them in the parish of Stracathro in Forfarshire, on the SW bank of the West Water, a little above its junction with the South Esk, and, following up his success, entered Moray and obtained possession of the whole district. Angus was slain in the battle, and with him became extinct the line of the old Celtic Mormaers. From his title of earl, and the fact that the Saxon Chronicle, in noticing the event and recording his death, declares that ' there was God's right wrought upon him, for that he was all forsworn, ' it may be inferred that he had previously sworn allegiance to David. For the next two hundred years the district seems to have been considered too fiery and dangerous to be entrusted to the control of any single ruler; and, though various Custodes Moraviæ are mentioned in the intervening period, not till the reign of Robert Bruce was there another Earl of Moray. The hold thus acquired David vigorously confirmed by the erection of royal castles and the creation of king's burghs, while an equally powerful agent in the work of civilisation and pacification was brought into play by the establishment of the Priory of Urquhart and of the Abbey of Kinloss. He seems also to have resided in the district at different times, and to have been successful in personally winning the favour and allegiance of his turbulent northern subjects, for at the Battle of the Standard in 1138, the rearguard, led by the king himself, consisted of Scots and Moray men.

The death of David was the signal for fresh troubles, and on the accession of his grandson, Malcolm IV., Malcolm Macheth, who claimed to be sprung from Earl Angus, raised the Celtic population in revolt, and aided by the petty prince of Argyll, to whose daughter he was married, made a vigorous effort to regain his patrimony. Somerled was, however, compelled to make peace in 1159, and in 1160 Malcolm entered Moray and inflicted signal punishment on the rebels. Many of the inhabitants of David's burghs were probably strangers, and now his successor determined to carry this policy still farther by dispossessing large numbers of the natives, scattering them throughout the country, and giving their possessions to settlers on whose fidelity he could rely. Fordun speaking of his treatment of the inhabitants, says that he ' removed them all from the land of their birth, and -scattered them throughout the other districts of Scotland, both beyond the hills and on this side thereof, so that not even one native of that land abode there, and he installed therein his own peaceful and peculiar people, ' who would seem to have been Flemings. This must, however, be somewhat of an exaggeration. ' Such a story of wholesale transmigration, ' says Cosmo Innes, ' cannot be true to the letter. Some old institutions unquestion-ably survived the measure; and a native rural population in the condition of that of Scotland in the -12th century could have no political sentiments, nor be called to account for political conduct. That there was some revolution, however, seems proved by charter evidence, and by the sudden appearance at that time, in- the records of the province, of a great number of Southerns obtaining grants of land in Moray, for whom room must have been made by some violent displacement of the former lords of the soil,.. and thus it came to pass that Berowald of Flanders obtained the lands of Innes all from Spey to Lossie, except the priory lands of Urquhart. ' This clearance would seem to have affected the low district along the shore of the Moray Firth more than the other districts, and the latter were from 1174 to 1187 in a chronic state of disaffection and rebellion, part of the Celtic population and the Norse settlers claiming that the family of Macheth should be restored to their former position, and that a northern chief, Donald Ban or MacWilliam, descended from Malcolm Ceannmor and the Norwegian princess Ingibiorg, was of the nearer line of the royal family, and therefore the rightful sovereign; while those who cared but little for this were alienated through anger at the disgraceful bargain of William the Lyon with the English. Though the first active outbreak seems to have taken place in 1181, it was not till 1187 that the King found time to attend to the North, but in that year he entered Moray at the head of a large army, and, fixing his headquarters at Inverness, detached a body of troops to lay waste the western parts of the province. In the decisive battle, which took place in the upper valley of the Spey, at a place called Mamgarvia, probably in Laggan, MacWilliam was slain. From the number of charters granted by William at different times and different places in Moray, he seems to have been often in the north, and, as he followed up his success by reducing Ross to subjection, and bringing Sutherland and Caithness directly under the power of the crown, he kept the North quiet for the rest of his reign. Hardly, however, had Alexander II. succeeded, when, in 1215, Donald Ban, son of the Donald who was killed at Mamgarvia in 1187, having obtaining assistance from Ireland, rebelled and burst into Moray at the head of a large army. He was, however, attacked and defeated by Ferquhard Macintagart, the lay possessor of the extensive lands of the old monastery at Applecross, and the pretensions of both the Mac Williams and the Macheths were finally extinguished by Alexander in 1222, from which time onward the historical events are all connected with national matters. Alexander seems to have had a great liking for the ' Laich of Moray,' and we find him keeping Yule at Elgin in 1231; and again in 1242,

The Kyng and the Qwene alsua,
And ane honest court wyth tha.
That ilk yhere in Murrawe past.

He founded and endowed many of the religious houses in the district, and was a great benefactor to several of the burghs. Alexander III. does not seem to have visited the province very often, though he appears to have been here shortly before the battle of Largs. One of the claimants for the crown, after the death of Alexander III., was John Cumyn, who had, on the death of his uncle, Walter, Earl of Menteith, in 1258, become Lord of Badenoch, but otherwise Moray does not seem to have been connected with the contest of succession that then arose, nor with events in the inglorious reign of John Baliol. After that ' Tulchan ' monarch was deprived of the crown, Edward I., having set himself to subdue the kingdom, marched north with a large army, and, crossing the Spey on 25 July 1296 near Bellie, entered the province and advanced as far as Elgin, whence detachments of his force were sent to occupy the castles of Forres, Nairn, Inverness, Dingwall, and Cromarty. Finding, however, that the country was quiet, and that all the leading nobles were favourably disposed towards his rule, he extended his march no farther, but returned southwards by Rothes and so through Banffshire and Aberdeenshire. Traditionally, Wallace passed along the sea-coast and crossed thence to Cromarty where he destroyed the castle, but it seems doubtful whether he was ever so far north, though a revolt against the English rule was stirred up by Sir Andrew Moray, the younger of Petty and Bothwell, and seems to have spread over the whole district. This was in May and June in 1297, and we find him associated with Wallace down to the close of the year, after which he disappears from history during the rest of the reign of Edward I. On the second English invasion in 1303 Edward again penetrated to Moray, but this time advanced to Kinloss and thence southward into Badenoch where he spent some time at Lochindorb Castle.

After the close of the war of independence we find Bruce erecting the district once more into an Earldom, in favour of his nephew, Thomas Randolph, and the King himself seems to have been several times in the north, but almost nothing is known of his movements. During the troubles that followed his death Moray remained stanch to his son, and seems to have been partly held by Sir Andrew Moray on his behalf; and later David II. himself came to Inverness in 1369 in order to have an interview with John, Lord of the Isles, some of whose turbulent subjects had been in rebellion. In 1371 King Robert II. granted to Alexander, his fourth son by his first wife, Elizabeth Mure, the whole lands of Badenoch which had belonged to the Comyns, and at a later date in the same year he was appointed King's Lieutenant in the north. Two years later he was made Earl of Buchan, and as he was Earl of Ross in right of his wife, he was for a time the most powerful noble in the country. He scarcely, however, maintained the dignity of his position, for, better known as the Wolf of Badenoch, he thoroughly deserved the title, and some of his exploits will be found noticed in the articles on Elgin, Forres, and Lochindorb.* Hardly recovered from the effects of the Wolf's deeds the lower part of the province again suffered in 1402 from an inroad of Alexander, third son of the first Lord of the Isles, at the head of a large following; and in 1411 his brother Donald, second Lord of the Isles, passed through on his way to the battle of Harlaw. After the progress of James I. through Moray in 1427 (see Inverness) Donald, the then Lord of the Isles, assembled a force and advanced with it as far as Lochaber, but there he was met by the royal forces and his army dispersed. He afterwards made submission, but his lieutenant, Donald Balloch. in 1431, again advanced to Lochaber with a large body of followers. This led to another royal visit to the north, but the route is not clear. The time indeed does not seem to have been a pleasant one in the regions, for a writer in the Chartulary of Moray says that ' in these days there was no law in Scotland, but the more powerful oppressed the weaker, and all the realm was one mass of robbery. Murder, plundering, fire raising went unpunished, and justice was banished from the land.,

* The inscription on his tomb in Dunkeld Cathedral was made to record that he was a man 'bonce memoriœ!'

One of the Douglases being Earl of Moray, we find the province concerned in the contests that arose in 1452 with the 'banded earls' (see Elgin). The earl did not succeed in getting his vassals to join him in any number when he took part in the Douglas rebellion of 1454-55, but after his death James Douglas stirred up Donald, Lord of the Isles, with whom he had taken refuge, to invade the mainland, where ' at last he past to Lochaber, and therefrom to Murray, where he invaded . . . with great cruelty, neither sparing old nor young, without regard to wives, old, feeble, and decrepit women, or young infants in the cradle, which would have moved a heart of stone to commiseration; and burned villages, towns, and corns, so much thereof as might not goodly be carried away, by the great prize of goods that he took.' These disorders caused James II. to come north in 1455 and set the Earldom of Moray, which was now bestowed on his infant son David, in thorough order. He remained here for two years, and part of the country was thrown waste to provide a forest for his hunting. In 1464 James III. was here; and in 1474 or 1475 John, Lord of the Isles, surrendered to the Crown the sheriffdoms of Inverness and Nairn, which were in 1492 granted to the Earl of Huntly, whose influence in the north was supreme from this time till the Reformation. James IV. must frequently have passed through the province on his way to and from the shrine of St Duthac at Tain, which he often visited; and in the Treasurer's accounts for 1504 we find payments recorded to ' the maidens of Forres that dansit to the king, ' and others ' that dansit ' to him at Elgin and Darnaway. During the time of James V. and the minority of Queen Mary, the whole of the north and north-west was in a very disturbed state, and the portions of Moray about Badenoch and Lochaber and to the NW of the Great Glen were in an almost continual state of warfare; and in 1556 the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, advanced to Inverness to try to settle matters, but her attention on her return to the south being almost immediately drawn off by the beginnings of the Reformation, matters were but little improved, the cause being in part the disturbances created by the Lord of the Isles, in part the quarrels among the clans themselves, and in part the bad government of Huntly.

No sooner, however, had Queen Mary assumed the government, than, acting probably under the advice of the great Earl of Murray, she determined to adopt severe measures, and, setting out in 1562, reached Elgin on 6 Sept. Her doings at Inverness, where she was from the 11th to the 15th of the same month, are noticed in that article; and Huntly's power was broken almost immediately afterwards at the battle of Corrichie in Aberdeenshire. Fresh feuds again broke out in consequence of the murder of ' the bonny Earl of Moray ' by the Earl of Huntly at Donibristle in 1592, and these were prolonged and intensified by the proceedings in 1594 against the Earls of Huntly, Angus, and Errol, who were charged with plotting with Philip of Spain for the restoration of the Catholic religion in Scotland. It was on this occasion that mass was said for the last time in Elgin Cathedral, though groups of worshippers of the old faith are said to have by stealth frequented corners of it down to the reign of Queen Anne.

In 1603-4 the district seems to have suffered severely from plague, for the magistrates of Elgin sent to Edinburgh for Thomas Ahannay and two servants ' for clenging of the infected parts, together with the bodies of the persons infected,' and the sheriffs of Elgin, Nairn, and Inverness were authorised by the Lords of Council to assess for the expenses, amounting to 600 merks. The province suffered considerably during the civil wars in the time of the Stewart kings, partly in consequence of the people generally declaring for the cause of the Solemn League and Covenant, and partly from the district becoming the scene of one of the campaigns of Montrose and his ally, Lord Lewis Gordon, who indeed obtained the unenviable notoriety of being classed by a rhymer of the period with two of the worst plagues of an agricultural country:-

The gule, the Gordon, and the hoodie-craw
Are the three warst evils Moray ever saw.

Probably, however, the author had more than Lord Lewis in his mind when he thus irreverently spoke of the descendants of the ' Cock of the North.' In Sept. 1644 Montrose came northward by Aberdeen, and ' begins to marche touardis Spey side, bot could not win over the water, the boitis being drawin on the uther side, and Moray convenit in armes; ' and so he turned back, only, however, to return again after his victory at Inverlochy. In the following year he marched rapidly on the low country, and ' merchit bak throw Lochquhaber with displayit baner touardis Innerniss with incredibill diligens; and fynding the toune stronglie fortifeit and garisonis lying about or rather within the toune,.. thairfoir merchit peceablie by Innerniss doun throw the countrie of Moray; ' and of such of the proprietors as would not join him he ' plunderit, spolzeit, and brynt ' the houses and lands, and ' sent out pairteis throw the countrie with fyre and plundering.' The Committee of Estates sitting at Elgin broke up, and many of the townspeople fled, with ' thair wyves, barnes, and best goodis, ' to Spynie and other strongholds. The Marquis reached Elgin on 19 Feb., and was joined by Lord Lewis Gordon shortly after. He received 4000 merks to save the town from being burned; ' bot his soldiouris, especiallie the Laird of Grantis soldiouris, plunderit the toun pitifullie, and left nothing tursabill oncareit away, and brak doun bedis, burdis, insicht, and plenishing. ' Thereafter he marched southward, but returned again in May, following up Hurry and his Covenanters, who preceded him by two days, and whom he shortly afterwards defeated at the battle of Auldearn. This victory was but the prelude to fresh plundering and spoiling, during which Elgin was partially burned, and then the Royalist army passed on its way southward to the final disaster at Philiphaugh. Much, however, as the district thus suffered, the adherence of the men of Moray to Presbyterianism was political rather than religious, and they consequently never showed that zeal for the cause which marked the people of the southern and western counties of Scotland. The other historical events connected with the province, such as the landing of Charles ii. at Garmouth and the battle of Cromdale, are noticed in detail in conjunction with the different places with which they are more particularly connected, and need not now be further alluded to. In 1746 the Highland army on their northward retreat broke up into three divisions, one of which followed the Highland road by the upper waters of the Spey, and by Duthil on to Inverness; a second marched by the braes of Angus and Strathdon to Elgin, where they were joined by a third body, which had retired along the great coast road; and the whole army was reunited at Inverness. The Duke of Cumberland entered the province on 12 April, and on the 16th was fought the Battle of Culloden, the last in which opposing armies met in array on British soil. After their defeat the Highlanders retired south-eastward by Moy and Badenoch to the place of their final dispersion at Clova. The clan distribution to the SW of the Highland line was: the Grants, Shaws, and Macphersons along Strathspey; the Mackintoshes along the upper portions of the valleys of the Findhorn and Nairn; the Frasers to the SE and N of Loch Ness, and also in Strath Affric and Glen Cannich; the Chisholms in Strath Farrer and Strath Glass; the Grants to the NW of Loch Ness; and to the S of them the Glengarry Macdonalds.

The division into the present shires seems to have taken place in the second half of the 13th century, but for long after that their boundaries were somewhat variable. From the time of Queen Mary no Scottish or British sovereign visited the province till 1872, when Queen Victoria passed through on her way to Dunrobin Castle on a visit to the Duke of Sutherland, and she again traversed the ' laich ' on her way to Loch Maree in 1877.

The Earldom of Moray was long one of the most important in Scotland. The first Earl, Angus, was, as we have seen, in direct descent from the old Celtic Mormaers; but after his death in 1130 no Earl was allowed to exist for nearly two centuries, the management of the province being kept in the hands of the Crown, or committed for brief periods to different Scottish nobles, as when, during the early part of the 13th century, we find Malcolm, Earl of Fife, thus acting at one time, and William Cumyn at another, each being simply styled Custos Moraviæ This state of matters came to an end about 1313 or 1314, when Robert Bruce granted the whole of the province to his nephew and trusted friend Sir Thomas Randolph. The charter, which bears no date, but which must have been granted shortly before the convention at Ayr in 1315, defines the estate as including the lands of Fochabers and Boharm beyond the Spey, thence extending up that river to Badenoch, including Kincardine, Glencairn, Badenoch, Maymez, Locharkedh, Glengarry, and Glenelg, passing along the NW border of Argyllshire to the western sea, bounded on the N by the Earldom of Ross to the river Farrar, and thence down that stream and the Beauly to the Moray Firth. The estate and the title of the Earldom were, according to the original principle of peerages, inseparable, the title becoming extinct upon the alienation of the estate. Randolph died in 1332, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas also, who was killed at Dupplin in 1332, 28 days after his succession. The second son, John, who then succeeded, was taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Kilblain in 1335, but was exchanged for the Earl of Salisbury in 1341. Becoming Warden of the West Marches, he accompanied David Ii. on his expedition into England, and -was killed at the battle of Durhanm in l346. There being no male heir the Earldom then reverted to the Crown, but Patrick Dunbar, who was married to the daughter of the first Earl-Black Agnes, whose name is well known in connection with her defence of Dunbar Castle-was generally styled Earl of Mar and Moray. His second son, John Dunbar, who was married to Marjory, daughter of Robert II., was made Earl of Moray in 1372; but his domains were lessened by the large districts of Badenoch, Lochaber, and Urquhart, which were constituted into a lordship for the King's son, Alexander, better known as the Wolf of Badenoch. The succeeding Earls were Thomas, the son of John, his son also called Thomas, and James, the cousin of the third Earl, with whom the male line became again extinct, * and the succession passed to Archibald Douglas, the husband of the younger of the two daughters left by Thomas Dunbar. Supported by the influence of his brother, the Earl of Douglas, he obtained the Earldom in 1446; but having joined the family rebellion of 1452, and being killed in 1455, the title and possessions again passed to the Crown, with whom they remained till 1501, when the honour was granted to James Stewart, an illegitimate son of James iv., who died in 1544 without issue. From 1548 to 1554 the Earldom was granted to the Earl of Huntly, but was again, from 1554 to 1562, in the possession of the Crown. In the latter year it was bestowed on James Stewart, afterwards the well-known Regent, and in his line it still remains. In 1563 he obtained a second charter limiting the succession to heirs male, in 1566 a fresh one opening the succession to heirs general, and in 1567 a ratification by the Estates of the deed of 1563. At his death he left two daughters, and James Stewart, Baron Doune, who married the eldest, Lady Elizabeth, assumed the title of Earl of Moray. This Earl figures in history as the Bonnie Earl of Moray, and is the hero of the ballad of that name.

He was a braw gallant,
And he played at the gluve
And the bonnie Earl of Moray
He was the Queene's luve

He was in 1592 murdered at Donibristle by the Earl of Huntly, who was nominally acting on a commission to pursue the Earl of Bothwell and his associates, of whom Moray was alleged to be one, but is supposed in reality to have been instigated to the deed by King James VI. ' It was,' says Sir James Balfour, ' given out and publickly talked that the Earle of Huntly was only the instrument of perpetratting this facte to satisffie the Kinges jelosie of Murray, quhom the Queine, more rashlie than wyslie, some few dayes before had commendit in the Kinges heiringe, with too many epithetts of a proper and gallant man. ' His son and successor was by the King's special efforts reconciled to Huntly, and married his daughter, Lady Anne Gordon. He obtained in 1611 a fresh charter of the Earldom with entail to male heirs only. His grandson, Alexander, fifth Earl, was Secretary of State and Lord High Commissioner between 1680 and 1686. Francis, the ninth Earl (1737-1810), was noted as an agriculturist, and is said to have planted on his estates upwards of thirteen millions of trees. The present Earl, George (b. 1814), succeeded in 1872. The other titles are Baron Doune (1581) and Baron St Colme (1611), both in the pecrage of Scotland, and Baron Stewart of Castle Stewart (1796) in the peerage of Great Britain. The family seats are Darnaway Castle in Elginshire, Donibristle Castle in Fifeshire, Castle Stewart in Inverness-shire, and Doune Lodge in Perthshire.

* The fourth Earl had a son, Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield, by his first marriage with his cousin Isabella Innes of Innes, but as she was within the forbidden degree, and died before a Papal dispensation could be procured, this son was deemed illegitimate, and very wrongly barred from the succession.

Of the early religious state of the province almost nothing is known. St Columba's visit to Inverness is noticed in that article, and other traces of the Culdee church and its influence remain in the gifts already mentioned made by some of the early Mormaers to the clerics of Deer as well as in the associations of the names of St Gernadius, St Moran, and St Bride, and other early clerics, with different localities. There are also accounts of old churches not connected with any saint's name at Birnie, Elgin, and Kintrae, near the latter of which is also Inchagarty or ' the priest's island. ' The ancient diocese, of later date, has - been already noticed in the article Elgin. With it the modern Synod of Moray is nearly co-extensive. The latter body meets at Elgin and Forres alternately, on the fourth Tuesday of April, and in either of those towns, or in some place fixed by the members, on the last Tuesday of September. It includes the presbyteries of Strathbogie, Abernethie, Aberlour, Elgin, Forres, Inverness, and Nairn, and contains 52 quoad civilia parishes, 9 quoad sacra parishes, and 3 mission churches. There is also a synod of Moray in connection with the Free Church, including the same presbyteries as in the Established Church. It contains 57 churches. The Episcopal Church has a united diocese of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, with the cathedral and bishop's residence at Inverness, and churches at Aberchirder, Arpafeelie, Craigellachie, Dingwall, Elgin, Fochabers, Forres, Fortrose, Glen Urquhart, Highfield, Huntly, Inverness, Keith, Nairn, Strathnairn, Thurso, and Wick.

See also the works cited under Elgin and Inverness; Cordiner's Antiquities and Scenery of the North of Scotland (1780 and 1787); Sir Thomas Dick Lauder's Account of the Great Floods in the Province of Moray in 1829 (Edinb. 1830, 3d and 4th ed.; Elgin, 1873); Gregory's History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland (1st ed., Edinb. 1836; 2d, Glasgow, 1881); Skene's Chronicles of the Picts and Scots (Edinb. 1867), and his Celtic Scotland (Edinb. 1876-80); A Genealogical Deduction of the Family of Rose of Kilravock (edited by Cosmo Innes for Spalding Club, 1848); Spalding's Memorials of the Trubles in Scotland (Spalding Club, 1850); The Book of the Thanes of Cawdor (Spalding Club, 1859); Ane Account of the Families of Innes (Spalding Club, 1864); and Dr William Fraser's The Chiefs of Grant (1884).

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

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Feature Description: "an extensive district"   (ADL Feature Type: "locations")
Administrative units: Moray ScoCnty
Place: Moray

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