Macdonald, John (d.1386?) (DNB00)
MACDONALD, JOHN, of Isla, first Lord of the Isles (d. 1386?), was the sone of Angus Og Macdonald, who died at Isla about 1329, and was buried at Icolmkill, by Margaret, daughter of Guy O'Cathan. The Macdonalds trace their descent from Donald, elder son of Refinald, second son of Sommerled of Argyll, king of the Isles. On account of a dispute with the regent regarding certain lands, John of Isla joined the party of Edward Baliol, to whom, in consideration of a grant of the lands of Mull, Skye, Isla, Gigha, Kintyre, Knapdale, &c., he, by indenture at Perth on 12 Sept. 1335, engaged to be his liege, and to ha enemy to his enemies (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, iii. entry 182). About the same time he also obtained a safe-conduct to visit Edward III of England (ib.) On 20 Sept. Edward III gave orders for the release of his galleys, crew, and goods, which had been arreted on suspicion that they were those of an enemy, 'whereas,' so it was declared, 'he had always been the king's liege (ib. 1244). On the return, however, of Favif II from France in 1341, John of Isla signed a treaty pledging him support, and in 1342 sent him a present of falsons (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, i. 511).
John of Isla had married Amy, sister of Ranald, son of Rory of the Isles, and on the murder of Ranald in 1346 she became his heir, whereupon her husband, uniting her possessions to his own, assumed the title of Lord of the Isles. This arrangement was displeasing to the king, but he set the royal authority at defiance, and again transferred his support to the party of Baliol. On 31 March 1356 Edward III empowered certain envoys to treat with him and his allies to join the service of the king of England (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, iii. 1606). On 1 Aug. 1357 he received a safe-conduct from Edward III for three of his servants to trade in England and Ireland, and other parts of the king's dominions with their vessel (ib. 1639). On 8 May of the same year he was named as a hostage for David II (ib. 1629), and he was included in the ten years' truce between David and England signed at Berwick on 3 Oct. (ib. 1657).
Before the return of David II from England John of Isla abandoned the party of Baliol, and, having divorced his first wife, married Margaret, daughter of Robert, high steward of Scotland. It was at one time supposed that the ground of the divorce was consanguinity, but this has been disproved by the discovery of a dispensation from the pope for the first marriage in 1337. A dispensation for the second arriage was also granted in 1350 (Theiner, Vetusta Mon. p.294). Notwithstanding his new relationship to the royal family he still, however, retained his independence, and in 1366 for formenting rebellion, and refusing to pay his contribution for the support of the crown, a declaration was made against him by parliament. In 1368 he was commandd to appear before the king in peerson and give security for his conduct, and on his failing to do so his father-in-law, the steward—who had failed to keep his engagement to reduce the disturbed districts to subjection—was detained in custody. The king then proceeded against him in person, whereupon on the persuasion of the steward he agreed to meet the king at Inverness, and there came under an obligatin on 15 Nov. 1369 both to give obedience to the king and his officers, and to put down all resistence to te royal authority within his territories (printed in Appendix Tytler's History of Scotland, and in MasKenzie's History of the Macdonalds, p.55).
On the accession of his father-in-law, the steward, to the throne in 1370, John of the Isles resigned a great part of his territories into the king's hands, and received from him a new charter in favour of himself and his heirs by marriage with the king's daughter. He was also confirmed in possession of the Scottish heritage of the house of Somerled by the charter at Scone on 9 May 1372. The result was that the children of the second marriage were rendered feudally independent of the children of the first marriage. Godfrey, the eldest surviving son by the first marriage, made an unsuccessful attempt to resist this arrangement, but Ranald, the second son, acquiesced without opposition, and in reward received a grant of the North Isles, Garmoran, and other lands.
John of the Isles died about 1386 at Ardtornish, Morven, and was buried in Iona with great spendour. He had made many liberal grants to the church there, and was styled by the ecclesiastics 'the good John of Isla.' By his first wife he had three sons and one daughter: John, who predeceased him, leaving one son, Angus, who died without issue; Godfrey, who was left portionless, but subsequently seized Uist and Garmoran from the children of Ranald, and of whom the descendants are supposed to be extinct; Ranald or Reginald, ancestor of the Macdonalds of Glengarry, and of all Macdonalds claiming to be Clanranalds; and Mary, said to have been married, first, to one of the Macleans of Duart, and, secondly, to Maclean of Coll. By his second wife he had three sons: Donald, second lord of the Isles [q. v.]; John Mor, tanastair of Isla, ancestor of the Macdonells, earls of Antrim, and the Macdonalds of Sanda; and Alexander, lord of Lochalsh, known as ‘Alastair Carrach,’ ancestor of the Macdonalds of Keppoch, Dalchoisnie, &c. He had also a natural son Donald.
[Chronicles of Wyntoun and Fordun; Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, vol. iii.; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vol. i.; Skene's Highlanders and Highland Clans; Mackenzie's Hist. of the Macdonalds; Gregory's Hist. of the Western Highlands.