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.
MACDONALD, JOHN, fourth and last Lord of the Isles, and eleventh Earl of Ross (d. 1498?), was the only legitimate son of Alexander, third lord of the Isles [q. v.], by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Seton, lord of Gordon and Huntly. He was a minor as late as 1456 (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vi. 159). According to the sennachies he was a ‘meek, modest man brought up at court in his younger years, and a scholar more fit to be a churchman, than to command so many irregular tribes of people’ (MacKenzie, History of the Macdonalds, p. 97). The king selected as his wife Elizabeth, daughter of James Livingstone of Callendar, promising with her a grant of land, but on account probably of the subsequent disgrace of the Livingstones, the promise was not fulfilled. On this account the Macdonalds' followers in 1451 or 1452 seized the royal castles of Inverness and Urquhart, and razed the castle of Ruthven in Badenoch to the ground (Auchinleck Chronicle, p. 44). In 1451 the league of his father with Crawford and Douglas [see under Macdonald, Alexander, third Lord of the Isles] was discovered; and on 21 Feb. 1452 Douglas was stabbed to death by the king in the castle of Stirling. In revenge probably for the murder, as well as for his own private wrongs, the Lord of the Isles in 1453 collected a fleet of one hundred galleys with a force of five thousand men, and despatched them under Donald Balloch, lord of Isla, to the western coast of Scotland, where, after burning several mansions round Inverkip, they ravaged the isle of Arran, burned the castle of Brodick in Bute to the ground, and wasted the Cumbraes with fire and sword (ib. p. 56; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, v. 578). Macdonald himself also invaded Sutherland at the head of five hundred men, but was defeated by the Earl of Sutherland at Strathfleet with great slaughter.
After the forfeiture of Douglas in 1454 and the submission of the Earl of Crawford, the Lord of the Isles came to terms with the king, and in 1457 was made one of the wardens of the marches (Rymer, Fœdera, xi. 347). The same year he was one of the guarantors of a peace with England. In 1460, previous to the siege of Roxburgh, he joined the royal army with a force of three thousand men; and after the death of James II at the siege, he attended a meeting of parliament held at Edinburgh, 25 Feb. 1460–1. Soon afterwards he, however, entered into communication with the banished Earl of Douglas; consequently on 22 July 1462, that earl and other banished lords were empowered by Edward IV to treat with him (Rot. Scot. ii. 402), and on the same date he, at a council held at Ardtornish, agreed to send ambassadors to treat with those that might be appointed by Edward (ib. p. 407). The result was the remarkable treaty signed at Westminster, 17 March 1462–3, by which he and his dependants agreed to become the king of England's sworn vassals, on condition that after the subjugation of Scotland all Scotland north of the Forth should be equally divided between the Earls of Ross and Douglas and Donald Balloch (ib.) Shortly afterwards John of the Isles assumed the title of King of the Hebrides and sent a large party, under his natural son Angus and Donald Balloch, which took possession of Inverness. Thence proclamations were issued in his name to the inhabitants of the burghs and sheriffdom of Inverness, including also Nairn, Ross, and Caithness, commanding all taxes to be paid to him and forbidding obedience to the officers of King James (Acta Parl. Scot. ii. 109). From Inverness they advanced south to Atholl, and after storming the castle of Blair dragged the Earl and Countess of Atholl from the chapel of St. Bridget and carried them away captive; but, according to Bishop Lesley, on their way home they were ‘suddenly stricken be the hand of God with frenzy and wodness’ and lost all their booty in the sea, whereupon they caused the Earl of Atholl and his lady to be again restored, and themselves revisited St. Bride's Chapel ‘for the recovery of their health’