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Crossing the Minch: : sìol torcail and their lordship in the sixteenth century

Maccoinnich, Aonghas (2008) Crossing the Minch: : sìol torcail and their lordship in the sixteenth century. In: Proceedings of the Islands Book Trust Conference: ‘Exploring the Links Between Skye and the Outer Hebrides. The Islands Book Trust, Callicvol, pp. 7-32. ISBN 978-0-9555420-3-9

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This article, based on a paper given at a conference discussing links between the Hebridean islands of Skye and Lewis, examines the lordship of Sìol Torcail, or the Macleods of Lewis which embraced both these islands together with parts of the adjacent Scottish mainland in the sixteenth century. The first section of the paper concentrates on the political (and dynastic) history of the Macleods of Lewis and their frequent rebellions in the face of the extension of royal control and pressure from neighbouring 'Highland' clans such as the Mackenzies of Kintail, a process which culminated in the expropriation of the Macleods and attempted plantation of Lewis (1598-1609) by lowland Scottish settlers. The fate of the Macleods of Lewis is discussed within the wider context of James VI & I' Highland policy, such as the Statutes of Iona, and the favouring of client clans such as the Mackenzies. The second section of the paper briefly considers the human and physical geography of the lordship of Sìol Torcail inasmuch as this can be reconstructed and the final section considers the fisheries which were, it is argued, of crucial importance in attracting outside interest to the area.