MacDonnell of Keppoch – Note


The succession of the Chiefs of Keppoch has long been a challenge to the genealogist and it appears that the matter is not yet satisfactorily settled.

The traditional genealogy of the Clan (see The Clan Donald, Vol 3, p. 420) states Ranald Og, the 11th Chief, “married Jean, daughter of William Mackintosh of Borlum, without issue. He died shortly after 1640, and was succeeded by his brother” [Donald Glass].

Ranald, 11th Chief, first appears in extant record on 1 November 1630 when he was appointed Forester and Keeper of Corrichie by Lord Gordon (NRS GD176/338). He remitted duties for his lands of Keppoch on 6 May 1634 and was pursued by the Chief of Makintosh on 11 February 1643, for the production of certain papers (NRS GD176/380). His wife’s identity is confirmed in a Sasine to them both jointly for the lands of Kilchonatt and others dated 1 May 1628 (NRS RS37/4/113v) then on his grant to her, she was infeft in a liferent of his lands by Sasine of 4 January 1640 (NRS RS37/6/418v) and in which he is styled son to the late Alexander MacDonnell of Keppoch.

The traditional statement that the 11th Chief died “without issue” is proved to be in error by the following writs (1) the appearance of Ranald Macdonnell, son of Ranald MacDonnell “sumtyme of Keppoch”, as a witness to a Wadset by his uncle, Donald glass, 12th Chief of Keppoch, on 5 May 1642 (NRS RS37/6/418v) and (2) liferent Sasine to More MacDonnell, daughter of Ranald MacDonnell of Keppoch, by her further husband, Alexander Cameron of Glennevis, dated 19 January 1638 (NRS RS3/6/f.108.)

That Ranald, the son of Ranald, 11th Chief, is not designed a “natural son” is noteworthy and the statement “sumtyme of Keppoch” carries the implication that both the father and the son made resignation of the chiefship and lands to the 11th chief’s brother, Donald glass, at some point between 4 January 1640 and 5 May 1642. The fate of Donald, 12th Chief’s two sons, Alexander and Ranald, is sufficiently well recorded in both Clan lore and court records of the time – they being murdered by the next heirs male in September 1663 – and this new evidence considered within that broader context, it may be conjectured that Donald glass was not the heir male but, instead, was the beneficiary of his eldest brother, the 11th Chief and his son’s resignation, to the detriment of the true heir male, the 11th and 12th Chief’s brother Alexander, who succeeded upon the murder of his two nephews in 1663.