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- History Of The Mackenzies - 2/115 -


V. GERALD FITZ MAURICE, the second son, in 1205 became first Baron Offaly. The third son, Thomas, was progenitor of the original Earls of Desmond, who have long been extinct in the male line, the present Earldom, which is the Irish title of the Earl of Denbigh, having been created in 1622. Gerald Fitz Maurice married Katherine, daughter of Hamo de Valois, who was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1197, and by her had a son,

VI. MAURICE FITZ GERALD, second Baron Offaly, one of the Lord Justices of Ireland. Maurice died in 1257, having married Juliana, daughter of John de Cogan, who was Lord Justice of Ireland in 1247, and by her had three sons, Maurice, Gerald, and Thomas. Maurice Fitzgerald has no wife given him in the Colin Fitzgerald genealogy. Thomas, the youngest son, had a son John, who ultimately, on the death of Maurice, fifth Baron Offaly, without issue, succeeded as sixth Baron, and was, on the 14th May, 1316, created the first Earl of Kildare. Maurice Fitz Gerald was succeeded by his eldest son,

VII. MAURICE FITZ MAURICE, as third Baron Offaly. He married Emelina, daughter of Sir Stephen de Longespee, a rich heiress, and by her had a son and two daughters. He was succeeded by his only son,

VIII. GERALD FITZ MAURICE, 4th Baron Offaly, who died without issue in 1287, when he was succeeded by his cousin Maurice, only son of Gerald, second son of Maurice Fitzgerald, second Baron Offaly, as

IX. MAURICE FITZGERALD, 5th Baron Offaly, who married Agnes de Valance, daughter of William Earl of Pembroke, without issue, when he was succeeded by his cousin John, son of Thomas, third son of Maurice Fitzgerald, second Baron Offaly, as

X. JOHN FITZ THOMAS FITZ GERALD, sixth Baron Offaly, and first Earl of Kildare. From him, by his wife Blanche, daughter of John Roche, Baron of Fermoy, are descended the present Duke of Leinster and other Irish Fitzgeralds. He died on the 10th November, 1316.

Several important particulars bearing on the points in dispute are noticeable in this genuine Fitzgerald genealogy, a few of which may be remarked upon. (1) There is no trace of a Colin Fitzgerald, or of any other Colin, in the real family genealogy from beginning to end, down to the present day. (2) Gerald, the 4th Baron Offaly, died in 1287. He was succeeded by his cousin Maurice, as 5th Baron, who in turn was succeeded by his cousin John Fitz Thomas Fitz Gerald, who died comparatively young in 1316. According to the Colin Fitzgerald theory, this John, first Earl of Kildare, was twice married, and by his second wife had six sons, of whom Colin Fitzgerald, who really ought to have been described as Colin Fitz John - for it will be observed that the Chiefs in the real genealogy are invariably described as Fitz or son of their fathers - was the eldest. This was impossible. How could John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald, who died at a comparatively early age in 1316, have had a son by his second marriage, who must have arrived at a mature age before he "was driven" from Ireland to Scotland in 1261, and be able to fight, as alleged by his supporters, with great distinction, as a warrior who had already an established reputation, at the battle of Largs, in 1263? Let us suppose that Colin's reputed father was 70 years old when he died. He (the father) must thus have been born as early as 1246. Let us take it that his eldest son, the reputed Colin, by his second wife, was born when his father was only 24 years of age - say in 1270 - and the result of the Fitzgerald origin theory would be that Colin must have fought at the battle of Largs 7 years before, according to the laws of nature, he could have been born. In other words, he was not born, if born at all, for seven years after the battle of Largs, four years after the reputed charter of 1266, and 40 years subsequent to 1230, the last year in which either of the witnesses whose names are upon the alleged charter itself was in life. (3) But take the genealogy as given by the upholders of the Colin Fitzgerald origin themselves Maurice, who died in 1257, had, according to it, two sons - Thomas and Gerald. This Thomas, they say, succeeded his father as third Lord Offaly, and had a son, John, who, by his second wife, had Colin Fitzgerald. That is, Maurice, who died in 1257, had a great grandson Colin, who, as a warrior of mature years and experience, fought at the battle of Largs only six years after his great-grandfathers death. But there was in fact no Earl of Kildare at this early date. That title was, as already stated, not created until 1316, twenty-eight years after his son Colin Fitzgerald was, according to the testimony of his supporters, buried in Icolmkill. It is surely unnecessary to add that such a consummation is absolutely impossible; and these facts alone, though no other shred of evidence was forthcoming, would dispose of the Colin Fitzgerald origin of the Mackenzies for ever.

Colin's five brothers are given by the upholders of the Fitzgerald origin as Galen, said to have been the same as Gilleon or Gillean, the ancestor of the Macleans; Gilbert, ancestor of the White Knights; John, ancestor of the Knights of Glynn; Maurice, ancestor of the Knights of Kerry; and Thomas, progenitor of the Fitzgeralds of Limerick. But it is quite unnecessary to deal with Colin's brothers and their descendants here. It will be sufficient if we dispose of Colin himself, who, according to the genealogy given to him by those who claim him as their progenitor, was really not Colin Fitz-Gerald but Colin Fitz-John. He must, however, be dealt with a little more at length; for, whoever he may have been, and however mythical his personal history, his name will always command a certain amount of interest for members of the Clan Mackenzie, and those who have become allied with them by marriage or association.

Most of us are acquainted with the turbulent state of the West Highlands and Islands in the reign of Alexander II., when the Highland Chiefs became so powerful, and were so remote from the centre of Government, that they could not be brought under the King's authority. His Majesty determined to make a serious effort to reduce these men to obedience, and for this purpose he proceeded, at the head of a large force, but died on his way in 1249, on the Island of Kerrera, leaving his son, Alexander III., then only nine years of age, with the full weight and responsibility of government on his shoulders.

Shortly after the King attained his majority, Colin Fitzgerald, correctly speaking Fitz John is said to have been driven out of Ireland and to have sought refuge at the Scottish Court, where he was heartily welcomed by the King, by whom his rank and prowess well known to him by repute, were duly recognised and acknowledged.

At this time Alexander was preparing to meet Haco, King of Norway, who, on the 2nd of October, 1262, landed with a large force on the coast of Ayrshire, where he was met by a gallant force of fifteen hundred knights splendidly mounted on magnificent chargers - many of them of pure Spanish breed - wearing breastplates, while their riders, clad in complete armour, with a numerous army of foot armed with spears, bows and arrows, and other weapons of war, according to the usage in their respective provinces, the whole of this valiant force led by the King in person. These splendid, well-accoutred armies met at Largs two or three days after, and then commenced that sanguinary and memorable engagement which was the first decisive check to the arrogance of the Norsemen who had so long held sway in the West Highlands and Isles, and the first opening up of the channel which led to the subsequent arrangements between Alexander III. of Scotland and Magnus IV. of Norway in consequence of which an entirely new organisation was introduced into the Hebrides, then inhabited by a mixed race composed of the natives and largely of the descendants of successive immigrant colonists of Norwegians and Danes who had settled in the country.

In this memorable engagement, we are told, the Scots commenced the attack. The right wing, composed of the men of Argyle, of Lennox, of Athole, and Galloway, was commanded by Alexander, Lord High Steward, while Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, commanded the left wing, composed of the men of the Lothians, Berwick, Stirling, and Fife. The King placed himself in the centre, at the head of the choice men of Ross, Perth, Angus, Mearns, Mar, Moray, Inverness, and Caithness, where he was confronted by Haco in person, who, for the purpose of meeting the Scottish King, took post in the Norwegian centre. The High Steward, by a dexterous movement, made the enemy's left give way, and instantly, by another adroit manoeuvre, he wheeled back on the rear of Haco's centre, where he found the two warrior Kings desperately engaged. This induced Haco, after exhibiting all the prowess of a brave King and an able commander, to retreat from the field, followed by his left wing, leaving, as has been variously stated, sixteen to twenty-four thousand of his followers on the field, while the loss on the Scottish side is estimated at about five thousand. The men of Caithness and Sutherland were led by the Flemish Freskin, those of Moray by one of their great chiefs, and there is every reason to believe that the men of Ross rallied round one of their native chiefs. Among the most distinguished warriors who took part in this great and decisive victory for the Scots, under the immediate eye of their brave King, was, it is said, Colin Fitzgerald, who is referred to in a fragment of the Record of Icolmkill as "Callenus peregrinus Hibernus nobilis ex familia Geraldinorum qui proximo anno ab Hibernia pulsus opud regni benigne acceptus hinc usque in curta permansit et in praefacto proelio strenue pugnavit." That is, "Colin, an Irish stranger and nobleman, of the family of the Geraldines who, in the previous year, had been driven from Ireland, and had been well received by the King, remained up to this time at Court, and fought bravely in the aforesaid battle." This extract has often been quoted to prove that Colin Fitzgerald was the progenitor of the Mackenzies; but it will be noticed that it contains no reference whatever to the point. It merely says that Colin, an Irishman, was present at Largs.

After the defeat of Haco the King sent detachments to secure the West Highlands and Isles, and to check the local chiefs. Among the leaders sent in charge of the Western garrisons was, according to the supporters of the Irish-origin theory, Colin Fitzgerald, who, under the patronage of Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith, was settled in the Government of the Castle of Ellandonnan, the well-known stronghold of the Mackenzies, in Kintail, situated on a small rocky island at the junction of Lochalsh, Loch Duich and Loch Long. Colin's jurisdiction, it is said, extended over a wide district, and he is referred to in the fragment of the Record of Icolmkill, already quoted, as he "of whom we have spoken at the battle of Largs, and who afterwards conducted himself with firmness against the Islanders, and was left a governor among them." Sir George Mackenzie, first Earl of Cromartie, who will be proved later on to have been the inventor of the Fitzgerald theory, says in a MS. history of the clan, that Colin "being left in Kintail, tradition records that he married the daughter of Mac Mhathoin, heritor of the half of Kintail. This Mhathoin," he continues, "is frequently identified with Coinneach Gruamach Mac Mhathoin, Cailean's predecessor as Governor of Ellandonnan Castle. The other half of Kintail belonged to O'Beolan, one of whose chiefs, Ferchair, was created Earl of Ross, and his lands were given to Cailean Fitzgerald." It will be proved by incontestible public documents still in existence, that these identical lands were, except that they once for a time exchanged them with a relative for lands in Buchan, uninterruptedly possessed by the Earls of Ross, the descendants of this Ferchair, or Farquhar, for two centuries after the battle of Largs.


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