The MacKenzie's originated from Cailean(Colin) Fitzgerald form the Norman family of the Earls of Desmond and dukes of Leinster in Ireland,(McNie,1983). Supposedly he was driven from Ireland to the Court of Alexander III, of Scotland.(McNie,1988). There he distinguished himself in the battle of Largs one year later. After that battle he was given the title of Governor of Eileandonan by the King. Eileandonan was a strong castle in Kintail, by Loch Dunich and Loch Long, today it's one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.
Soon other titles were given to powerful MacKenzie's. Like Sir George MacKnezie the first Earl of Cromarty,(McNie,1983), who wrote the charter of 1266 in his Majesties service. The charter contains the events which lead to the MacKenzies gaining there coat of arms. It tells the story of Cailean who saved the King in the forest of Mar,(McNie,1983). The King was out hunting and his hounds when a furious stag charged at him.
Cailean stepped in front of the charging deer and shot it in the forehead with an arrow. For his bravery the King granted for arm's a stags head bleeding from the forehead and as a crest a Dexter arm bearing a naked sword, and the motto "fide parta,fide aucta," which has since being changed,(McNie,1983).
A later Earl of Cromarty said that Ceilean Fitzgerald wed a Kenneth MacMhathoin, the Mathieson chiefs daughter,(McNie,1988). Ceileans wife gave birth to a baby boy, which was named after the grandfather, Kenneth.
Soon after Ceilean was murdered by his father-in-law, because he was jealous that a Irish descendant was given a Scottish title. All the later members of the family took the name of Ceilean's son Kenneth, from there on the family name was MacKenzie which means son of Kenneth.
The first chief of the MacKenzies was Alexander MacKenzie who held the lands of Kintail,(McNie,1998). His relative William the Earl of Ross who was married to Alexander's aunt, demanded that Alexander give the castle to him. Alexander didn't give it up so he gathered neighboring clans that included the MacIvers,Macaulay, and other families in Kintail. They managed to hold of the Earl and they eventually defeated the attacking forces,(McNie,1983).
Alexander married the daughter of the Earl of Lorne, who was a Macdougall. Alexander's brother-in-law was Ian grandson of the Red Comyn, so Ian took the place as Robert the Bruce. Robert the Bruce was the title given to the unauthorized King of Scotland. Ian the King used the MacKenzie castle,Eileandonan, as shelter for his monarch. Alexander was a supporter of Ian and lead his army of 500 hundred strong into the battle of Inverury, aswell as the battle of Bannockburn,(McNie,1983). Later his loyalty is answered because it was found out that Alexander also married a daughter of a monarch supporter.
After Alexander the MacKenzie chief Murdoch married a daughter of MacLeod of Harris, who was a descendent of Olaf, King of Man, whose wife was was also related to King Robert the Bruce. These two families mixed and their royal blood was passed on to the next chief witch was Alastair the Upright. King James I, summoned him to Inverness to be arrested, many others were killed for there deeds, he was sent to school because he was still young. His three uncles lead the Mackenzie's for three years,(McNie,1988).
Then Alastair returned and had them killed for there corrupt leading. Then the young chief returned the clan to power and got back there possessions. For this he received two charters the first confirmed the lands of MacKenzie which was Kintail. His second came 13 years later and it gave the MacKenzies, Strathconan, Stratbran, and Strathgarve which had being taken for them in the past.
The greatest MacKenzie was the sixth chief Alexander, and there are many romantic stories about him because he was a womanizer. He was also the most powerful chief who lead the MacKenzie's to one of the most powerful clans in Scotland. He had two wives so the eldest of his first marriage succeeded him. The eldest son from the second family started and became the ancestor of the Gairloch family, which would come into play in the future, (McNie,1983).
Kenneth MacKenzie the seventh chief proves he was a proven leader.
The MacDonalds had set up an army of 1600 and went north through the MacKenzie lands, destroying towns. On a Sunday morning at Contin the MacDonald set fire to a church which contained many men,women, and children(McNie,1988). Kenneth quickly set up an army of 600, which was totally out numbered. Kenneth then out smarted the MacDonalds by tricking them into a peat bog in which they got stuck. Then hidden archers picked them off and the MacKenzie's had won the battle and the Lordship of the Isles, which they forfeited to the Crown. He was knighted by James IV and died in 1491.
In 1497 there was a mix up with a chief who was considered illegitimate as a clan member. So his uncle Hector Roy, same clan that Rob Roy came from, took control of the clan as it's estates. This caused controversy because Hector was a illegitimate chief. A lieutenant found this out and started to spread the word. So Hector killed him and his men, (McNie,19983). Finally Hectors nephew, John, who was legitimate would take over as the chief, but Hector remained by his side. After a battle, chief John was taken prisoner, but let free by a lady he logged with. She had told him a story about how she and her baby were in MacKenzie land and trapped in snow. When a MacKenzie member found her. They all were freezing cold, so the clans man killed his horse and skinned it and put her and the baby in the horses skin. So she let him free.
John Mackenzie was a true leader. With the MacRae's they fought of many attacks from the MacDonalds, for this King James gave the clan more possessions. In his old age he went into battle for Queen Mary who was a child, he was taken prisoner but the clan paid his ransom. Under his leadership the clan gained many family estates in Brae Ross, (McNie,1983).
In 1580 led by the eleventh chief One-Eyed Colin, the Mackenzie's and the MacDonalds fought one of the largest battles in Scottish history. It all started because the MacKenzie's killed a MacDonald for poaching on MacKenzie land. This war lasted years and caused many deadly events. The MacKenzie's were on there second chief of this war and twelfth all time, Kenneth. While he was in France the MacDonalds raped,slayed, and burned MacKenzies. Kenneth returned in time and was able to defeat the MacDonalds and brought back the largest sum in way of damages ever in the highlands.
The MacDonald's for revenge killed many MacKenzie women and children and killing all the MacKenzie livestock. The MacKenzie's were finally defeated when Lady MacKenzie sent out a small army of men that defaced a boat which contained sixty men and they all were killed. The MacKenzie's also destroyed the MacDonalds castle. MacDonald returned by burring down a MacKenzie church in the early morning, MacDonald had his pipers play there pipes loud and march around the burning building so he couldn't hear the screams. This battle did not end until 1607.