Battle of Alltachuilain

The Battle of Alltachuilain[2] (or Ald-Quhillin[1] was a Scottish clan battle that took place in 1518 or 1519 in the parish of Loth, county of Sutherland, Scotland.[1] It was fought between factions of the Clan Sutherland in a dispute over the Earldom of Sutherland.

Battle of Alltachuilain
Part of the Scottish clan wars

Dunrobin Castle was besieged by both sides prior to the battle
Date1518 or 1519
Location
Alltachuilain, parish of Loth, county of Sutherland, Scotland
Result Victory for forces of Elizabeth de Moravia (Elizabeth Sutherland) and Adam Gordon
Belligerents
Clan Sutherland
Clan Gordon (loyal to Elizabeth Sutherland and Adam Gordon)
Clan Sutherland (loyal to Alexander Sutherland)
Commanders and leaders
Alexander Leslie of Kinninuvy
John Moray of Aberscors
Alexander Sutherland, 1st of Killipheder
Strength
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown All either slain or chased[1]

Background

John de Moravia, 9th Earl of Sutherland (also known as John Sutherland), chief of Clan Sutherland died in 1514 leaving no heir. He was succeeded by his younger sister Elizabeth de Moravia, 10th Countess of Sutherland.[3] Elizabeth married Adam Gordon who was a younger son of George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly, chief of the powerful Clan Gordon.[3] Elizabeth and Adam Gordon’s son, Alexander Gordon, Master of Sutherland, would become the legal heir to the Earldom of Sutherland, however this was disputed by others.[3] Firstly, John Mackay of Strathnaver, chief of the Clan Mackay rose up in opposition to the Gordons who had taken power in Sutherland.[3] Mackay fought against the forces of Elizabeth de Moravia and Adam Gordon at the Battle of Torran Dubh in 1517 where Mackay was defeated.[3] The Sutherland force had been led by Elizabeth’s younger half-brother Alexander Sutherland, who she had persuaded to resist Mackay.[3] However, shortly afterwards Alexander Sutherland married a sister of John Mackay,[3] and according to one account Mackay tampered with Alexander Sutherland to renew his claim to the Earldom.[4][5] Alexander Sutherland then claimed the Earldom of Sutherland for himself as the rightful heir.[1]

Sieges of Dunrobin Castle

According to the Gordon account, Adam Gordon offered Alexander Sutherland reasonable terms and conditions which he refused.[1] The clans and tribes of Sutherland then broke into factions and Alexander Sutherland had won great favour amongst them, having both the support of the Earl of Caithness and John Mackay, whose sister he had recently married.[4][1] While Adam Gordon was in Strathbogie (now known as Huntly, home of his family the Gordons of Huntly) Alexander Sutherland, with a great company of men, laid siege to Dunrobin Castle the principal seat of the Earls and Countesses of Sutherland, which he eventually succeeded in taking before Adam Gordon had returned.[1]

Adam Gordon then sent a force of his own under Alexander Leslie of Kinninuvy and John Moray of Aberscors to besiege Alexander Sutherland in Dunrobin Castle.[1] The castle surrendered,[5] however by this time Alexander Sutherland had retired into Strathnaver, the land of his brother-in-law John Mackay.[1]

Battle

According to the Gordon account Alexander Sutherland, with a new supply of men invaded Sutherland and killed some of his own Sutherland kinsmen because they supported Adam Gordon.[1] Alexander Sutherland then traveled further into the parishes of Clyne and Loth where, according to the Gordon account he molested the country.[1] Adam Gordon then sent Alexander Leslie and John Moray to "hold the bastard skirmishing" until he came with a larger force.[1] They met with Alexander Sutherland at a place called Alltachuilain[2] or Ald-Quhillin,[1] where there ensued a "hote skirmish".[1] Alexander Sutherland was taken prisoner and all of his men were either slain or chased.[1] He was then executed by Alexander Leslie at the very place where they fought, and his head placed on a spear on the top of Dunrobin Castle.[1]

Aftermath

In the aftermath of the Battle of Alltachuilain William Sutherland, 5th of Duffus would also claim the Earldom of Sutherland, however he was killed by the Bishop of Caithness in 1529.[6]

Adam Gordon and Elizabeth de Moravia’s son, Alexander Gordon became known as the Master of Sutherland, and his son succeeded as John Gordon, 11th Earl of Sutherland.[7]

Of Alexander Sutherland who was executed, his place of residence was known as "Kilphedder." His descendants occupied the lands for generations on payment of a nominal rent to the Earls of Sutherland. The ruins at Kilphedder now are more immediately connected with one of his descendants: William Sutherland of Kilphedder was a man of gigantic strength and stature who repaired and extended the residence of his ancestors.[2]

See also

References

  1. Gordon, Robert (1813) [Printed from original manuscript 1580 - 1656]. A Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland. Edinburgh: Printed by George Ramsay and Co. for Archibald Constable and Company Edinburgh; and White, Cochrance and Co. London. pp. 95–96.
  2. Sage, Donald (1899). "VI: The Topography of Kildonan". Memorabilia Domestica or Parish Life in the North of Scotland (2nd ed.). Wick, Caithness and Edinburgh: W. Rae and J. Menzies. pp. 74–75. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  3. Gordon, Robert (1813) [Printed from original manuscript 1580 - 1656]. A Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland. Edinburgh: Printed by George Ramsay and Co. for Archibald Constable and Company Edinburgh; and White, Cochrance and Co. London. pp. 75–84.
  4. Browne, James (1840). A History of the Highlands and of the Highland Clans. 1. A. Fullarton. p. 181.
  5. "Sutherland (Clan History)". electricscotland.com. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  6. Mackay, Robert (1829). "V: John Mackay II". History of the House and Clan of the Name MacKay. Edinburgh: printed for the author by A. Jack. pp. 100–106. Quoting: Gordon, Sir Robert. (1813). A Genealogical history of the Earldom of Sutherland
  7. Gordon, Robert (1813) [Printed from original manuscript 1580 - 1656]. A Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland. Edinburgh: Printed by George Ramsay and Co. for Archibald Constable and Company Edinburgh; and White, Cochrance and Co. London. pp. 85–102.
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