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Featured Clan

Scottish American Society

This is the clan we have chosen to spotlight.  If it is your own, feel free to offer constructive criticism.*  If it isn't, enjoy learning about one of the many Scottish families. 

Clan MacKenzie/MacKenney



Crest badge: Note: crest badges usually consist of the clan chief's heraldic crest and heraldic motto, encircled with a strap and buckle.

Clan slogan: Tulach Ārd (translation from Scottish Gaelic: "The high hill" or "The high knoll" or "The high hillock).The slogan is derived from the mountain which was the Mackenzie rallying point or gathering place in Kintail.

Chief:  John Ruaridh Grant Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Cromartie (1861), Viscount Tarbat of Tarbat, Baron Castlehaven, Baron MacLeod of Castle Leod, Chief of Clan Mackenzie


Probably one of the old transplanted tribes from Moray, though firmly rooted in Ross-shire ever since, this clan took their name, MacKenny or MacKenzie after a 13th century chief Kenneth, descended from Colin of the Aird who was ancestor also to the Celtic Earls of Ross.  When that earldom fell by marriage to the Lord of the Isles, the clan followed the MacDonald lead until these lords were suppressed.  Independence attained, the MacKenzies became by the 17th century the most powerful clan of the West after the Campbells, and their chief, MacKenzie of Kintail, was raised to Lord Seaforth by James VI.  This earldom was forfeited through the clans sharing the Jacobite ventures but restored in 1778 when the Seaforth Highlanders regiment was founded.


There is a tradition, not borne out, however, by any tangible evidence or confirmation, that this very ancient family deduced its descent from a member of the House of Geraldine, in Ireland (whence sprang the noble families of Leinster, Desmond, &c.), who, with a considerable number of his followers, is stated to have settled in Scotland about the year 1261, and to have so powerfully aided King Alexander III, a few years afterwards, in repelling the invasion of Haco, King of Norway, that he was rewarded by a grant of the lands of Kintail, in the County of Ross, which were erected into a free Barony by charter, dated 9th January 1266. Therefore Colin Fitzgerald was the first feudal Baron of Kintail.

His grandson who in the Gaelic was called Coinneach MacCoinneach (Kenneth son of Kenneth), 3rd Baron of Kintail, became corrupted in English into Mackenzie (pronounced: MacKenny) and hence arose all the families of Mackenzie in Scotland. The name "Mackenzie" therefore coming from the Gaelic: "MacCoinneach" meaning: "Son of the Fair One".

Examining records that suggest a descent from the Earls of Ross indicate that such a descent existed through Margaret, the wife of Kenneth A'Blair Mackenzie VIII Baron of Kintail, she was the daughter of John IV Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross.

The Clan Mackenzie/MacKenney

The fate of the Clan Mackenzie was famously foretold by the Brahan Seer (Brahan, near Dingwall, was where the castle stood until it was demolished in 1951). Having risen in power and influence to hold lands which stretched right across Scotland, and to become one of the four most important Highland Chiefs in 1726 (the others were the Dukes of Argyll, Atholl and Gordon), Lord Seaforth's line ended in the 19th century when all four of his sons died before him.

In a charter granted by King David II in 1362 confirming the lands of Kintail to the Mackenzies, the Clan Mackenzie Chief Murdo is described as a descendant of Gilleoin of the Aird. From that same dynasty of the 12th century stemmed Clans Ross and Matheson. Two centuries later Clan Mackenzie had territories which stretched from the Outer Hebrides right across Scotland to the Black Isle.

Alasdair Mackenzie 7th chief, who d. 1488, was the most prominent supporter of the Crown against the all powerful Lord of the Isles and got his reward in forfeited MacDonald lands. Originally in Kintail around Loch Duich with Eilean Donan Castle as their base, they spread throughout Ross-shire, and into Lewis on the Outer Hebrides. They moved their seat to Kinellan near Strathpeffer, before building Brahan Castle.  Alasdair's son, Kenneth d. 1492 and his stone effigy can still be seen at Beauly Priory where he was buried. Iain, his son, fought at both Flodden and Pinkie, but survived and lived until the mid 16th century. The Mackenzies continued their rise to power by joining the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI against their Gaelic neighbours. In 1609, the chief was made Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, while in 1623 his eldest son became the Earl of Seaforth. The 2nd Earl was Charles II's secretary of state for Scotland. Another branch of the Mackenzies became the Earls of Cromartie.


Origin of the name

The surname Mackenzie is of Scottish origin and derived from Gaelic. The name is an Anglicised form of the Gaelic Mac Coinnich, which is a patronymic form of the personal name Coinneach meaning "comely" or "handsome". Today personal name Coinneach is generally Anglicised as Kenneth however Kenneth was originally used as an Anglicisation of different Gaelic personal name – Cionaodh.

The Anglicised Mackenzie had originally been pronounced "Mackaingye" – with a modern English Y sound represented with the letter yogh ȝ. In the 18th century it became popular to write and pronounce the name with what is the equivalent of a modern English Z sound, because of the similarity of the letter yogh and letter Z. Today there are several Lowland Scots words and several Scottish names that have been affected in a similar way (example: the surname Menzies – correctly pronounced “mingus”).

Septs of the Clan: Charles, Charleson, Clunies, Cromarty, Ivory, Kenneth, Kennethson, MacBeolain, MacConnach, MacIver, MacIvor, MacKenna, MacKerlich, MacMurchie, MacMurchy, MacQuennie, MacVanish, MacVinish, MacWhinnie, Murchie, Murchison, Smart.
Names associated with the clan: Cainnech Charleson Coinndech Coinneach Coinnidh Cromartie Cromarty Cromate Crumbacy Crumbathy Crummartie Euer Evar Evir Ewar Ewer Ewers Ivar Iver Iverson Ivirach Ivor Ivory Iwur Kennach Kennachtsoun Kennagh Kennauch Kenndochson Kenneochson Kenneth Kennethson Kennochsen Kineth Kyneth Kynnoch Kynoch MacArlich MacArliche MacAver MacBeolain MacCairlich MacCairlie MacCairly MacCarlach MacCarlich MacCarliche MacCarlie MacCarlycht MacCenzie MacCharles MacCharlie MacCherlich MacCoinnich MacConich MacConnach MacCowir MacCoynich MacCuir MacCur MacCurchie MacCure MacEinzie MacEiver MacElhiney MacEnzie MacEuer MacEuir MacEur MacEure MacEvar MacEver MacEwer MacEwir MacEwyre MacGeever MacGiver MacHerlick MacHerloch MacHinzie MacIvar MacIver MacIverach MacIvirach MacIvor MacKainzie MacKairlie MacKairly MacKanze MacKarlich MacKeanzie MacKearlie MacKearly MacKeaver MacKeever MacKeevor MacKeinezie MacKeinzie MacKeiver MacKenezie MacKenich MacKenney MacKenyee MacKenyie MacKenzie MacKenzy MacKerley MacKerlich MacKerliche MacKerlie MacKerloch MacKeur MacKever MacKevor MacKevors MacKewer MacKewyr MacKinney MacKinnoch MacKinyie MacKinze MacKinzie MacKiver MacKivers MacKivirrich MacKuir MacKure MacKwhinney MacKynich MacMhurchaidh MacMoroquhy MacMurachy MacMurchaidh MacMurchie MacMurchou MacMurchy MacMurd MacMurdo MacMurdoch MacMurdy MacMuredig MacMurphy MacMurquhe MacMurquhie MacMurtchie MacQuhenzie MacQuhine MacQuhinny MacQuhinze MacQuhynze MacTarlach MacTarlich MacTerlach MacThearlaich MacUir MacUrchie MacUrchy MacUre MacVanish MacVenish MacVennie MacVinie MacVinish MacVinnie MacVorchie MacVurchie MacWeeny MacWhinney MacWhinnie MacWhunye MacWhynie MacWinney MacWorthie MacWurchie MacYuir Makarlich Makcainze Makcanze Makcure Makeinny Makeinzie Makenze Makerliche Makewer Makiver Makkanze Makkennych Makkeny Makkenych Makkenze Makkinze Makkynnay Makmurche Makmurquhy Makquhinze Makquhynze Makvanis Mewhinney Mhurchaidh Mkenzi Murchad Murchadh Murchaidh Murcheson Murchesoun Murchie Murchieson Murchison Murchosone Murchosoun Murchy Murquhason Murquhasson Murquhessoun Murquhosoun Murtchie Orr Orre Oure Ure Urie Urri Urrie Urry Vcmurrochie Yvar Yvir Ywar


To find out still more about the MacKenzies Clan, Google “Lord Seaforth.”


*An armigerous clan is a Scottish clan, family or name which is registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon and once had a chief who bore undifferenced arms, but does not have a chief currently recognized as such by Lyon Court.

For further information on Clan MacKenzie/MacKenney, click here.

For more information on this or other clans, click here.

For information on past featured clans, click here.

*With correct documentation, we will be happy to amend any clan presentation.  Without correct documentation we will simply remove any reference to that clan.

The word "clan" comes from "clanna" which means family group or group functioning as a family.  Information on the specific clan above comes from various sources. For more information on the clans and the Highland Clan System, see Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_clan