History of the Mackenzie Clan

The name Mackenzie, or in Gaelic MacCoinneach, means literally “Son of Kenneth”. The original Kenneth lived in the 13th Century and was descended from a younger son of Gilleoin of the Aird, from whom can also be traced the once powerful Earls of Ross.

Clan Mackenzie rose rapidly in importance during the 15th Century through the acquisition of lands extending across Scotland from the west to east coasts, in the counties of Ross and Cromarty, and parts of Sutherlandshire.

Kenneth, the 12th Chief was created Lord Mackenzie of Kintail (1609). Kintail's brother Sir Roderick Mackenzie, “Tutor of Kintail”, was the progenitor of the present Chief of the Clan, the Earl of Cromatrie. On December 3rd 1623 Kintail's son Colin was raised to the dignity of Earl of Seaforth.

A number of famous regiments have been raised from the Mackenzie clan, including the Highland Light Infantry (raised in 1777), the Seaforth Highlanders (raised in 1778) and the second battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, known as the Ross-Shire Buffs (raised in 1793). All these regiments wore the Seaforth Mackenzie tartan.

Kenneth Mackenzie (Coinneach Odhar) the Brahan Seer is entwined with the history of the clan. He foretold the fall of the House of Seaforth Mackenzies and that the Chief, the last of his house, would be deaf and dumb and follow his four sons to the tomb. His predictions proved extraordinarily accurate when the 7th and last Earl was deaf and spoke with difficulty following a bout of scarlet fever. He did have four sons all of whom died before him.

Succession moved to the Humberston-Stewart-Mackenzies but this came to an end in 1943. In 1979 a 'Petition' to Lyon King at Arms confirmed the father of the present Earl of Cromartie as nearest in line, XXVIII Chief of Clan Mackenzie.

Clan Map