We are all products of our past. Our values, ideas, beliefs and culture are all influenced by our ancestors.
Where we come from very much shapes both our present and destiny. Understanding our past is a key to understanding the present. Those of us that have MacKenzie roots, belong to one of the most ancient and influential clans in Scottish history. MacKenzies have not only played a large part in shaping the Scotland of past and present, but through the Diaspora, they have gone on to contribute hugely to the development of the modern world, through exploration, politics and commerce. Perhaps the most important MacKenzies of all are the ordinary folk who ventured forth from these shores to carve out new and successful lives in far flung parts of the planet!
The MacKenzies were of Celtic origin and probably descended from Gilleoin of Aird. The surname MacCoinneach(pronounced machk coen-yeech) in Gaelic means "son of Coinneach" or in English "Son of Kenneth", meaning fair or bright. The earliest known Kenneth was closely related to the Earls of Ross, and in 1267 resided at Eilean Donan, Loch Duich, one of Scotland's most photographed castles. King Alexander III then gave the castle to Colin Fitzgerald and the family changed their name to MacKenzie. Succeeding generations were vassals of the Earls, but the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, gained the superiority through marriage. In 1362, Murdoch MacKenzie was granted lands of Kintail by King David II. Initially the clan was dependent on the MacDonalds but lent their support to the Stewart dynasty and defeated the MacDonalds at the Battle of Blair-na-Park. They were rewarded with extended lands in the north-west following the overthrow of the Lords of the Isles. By good marriages and further service to King James the IV, the clan extended further, including parts of the island of Lewis. Their chief was captured at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, supporting James IV. Colin, the 11th chief, fought in the army of Mary Queen of Scots when she was defeated at the Battle of Langside in 1568. In 1607, Kenneth, the 12th chief was given the lands of Lochalsh and Lochcarron so that all the land from Ardnamurchan to Strathnaver was in the possession of MacKenzies. Two Earldoms were granted to the MacKenzies, Seaforth and Cromartie. As royalists supporting the Jacobite Uprising, however, lands were forfeited, though later restored.
In 1979 Roderick, 4th Earl of Cromartie was recognised as chief of Clan MacKenzie by the Lord Lyon when the title was revived. John Ruaridh, his son, the 5th Earl, is present chief.
MacKenzies who achieved lasting fame include
Coinneach, the Brahan Seer, who lived in the 17th Century, made a number of prophesies that have come true. (including oil being found in the North Sea).
Sir George MacKenzie, who also lived in the 17th Century (1636-1691) was a distinguished lawyer and founder of the Advocates Library in Edinburgh. (In 1925 this became the National Library of Scotland).
Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820) emigrated in 1772 with his father, Kenneth, from Stornoway to Canada and became a fur trader and explorer and made historic journeys to the the Artic Sea and the Pacific Coast. He returned to Scotland in 1808 and purchased the estate of Avoch, Ross-shire.
Another Sir Alexander MacKenzie was born in Dunkeld and emigrated to Canada in 1842 and became the second premier of the Dominion of Canada.
Henry MacKenzie was a great writer (1745-1831).
Sir Compton MacKenzie, author of Whisky Galore.
The Clan Motto
Latin Clan Motto: "Luceo non uro" (Shine, not burn)
Gaelic Clan Motto: "Cuidich 'n righ" (Help the King)
The list of famous MacKenzies is legion. We have a lot to be proud of. Why not join us in a journey of discovery as we tour the lands of our fathers. Reconnect with the day to day lives of our ancestors. Tread the ground that they themselves trod. The lands where they toiled, breathed, fought, bled and died. Capture the stunning landscapes that they themselves beheld as we travel together on a route to the past.