A Description of the Outer Hebrides by Sir Donald Munro

 Sir Donald Monro held the post of High Dean of the Isles in 1549.  An extract from his his description of Lewis and Harris.

HARREY. Now we returne backwards to the Harrey, quhilk is bot ane ile and the Lewis togidder, extending in lenthe from the south west to the north eist to three scoir of myles, and from the north west to the south eist to 16 myle in breid. Within the south pairt of this ile lyes ane monastery with ane steipell, quhilk was foundit and biggit by M’Cloyd of Harrey, callit Roodill. This south pairt of the countrey, callit Harrey, is verey fertill and fruitfull for corne, store, and fisching, twisse mair of delving in it nor of teilling. Within this end of the countrey ther is ane water, with an guid take of salmont fisching in it, with ane heighe greine hill callit Copesaall, maist excellent for scheipe in the pairts quhereon there wes scheipe, quhen I wes ther, without auners, and very ald. In this countrey of Harrey, northwart betwixt it and the Lewis, are maney forrests, quherein are aboundance deir, bot not grate quantitie, verey faire hunting games without any woodes, with infinite slaughter of otters and macttickes. This ile has neather wolfes, taides, nor edders in it.

Lewis is the north pairt of this ile, and the maist also, faire and weill inhabit at the coste, ane fertile fruitfull countrey, for the most part all beire, with 4 paroche kirks, and with ane castell callit Steornaway; with 3 principal salt water loches, verey guid for take of herrings, to wit, Loche Selga, farrest to the southwest, Loche Fasirt, northwart fra that ane loche that is lange and has certaine small loches in it, quhilke is for the same cause callit the Loches. By these there is uther 3 loches, not eivill qulylomes for take of herrings, to wit, Loche Steornaway, with infinit fresche water loches in this Lewis. Ther are 8 waters with take of salmont. In this ile ther are maney schiep, for it is verey guid for the same, for they lay furth ever one mures and glenis, and entir nevir in a house, and ther wool is but anes in the ziere pluckit aff them in some fauldes. In this countrey is peitmoss-land at the cea cost, and the place quhar he winnes his peitts this zeir, ther he sawis his corne the next zeire, after that he guidds it weill with sea ware. A grait take of whailles is oftimes in this countrey, so that be the relatione of the maist ancient in this countrey, ther comes 26 or 27 quhailles young and ald to the teynd anes ther. Ther is ane cove in this countrey quherin the sea fallis, and is twa fadome deepe at the ebb sea, and four faddom and maire at the full sea. Within this cove ther uses whytteins to be slain with huikes, verey maney haddocks, and men with their wands sitting upon the craiges of that cove, and lades and women also.





Imprimis, Clan-Donald, and of them five Branches in the Iles, by Branches smaller.

First, Donald Gormersone his kin are called of surname Hutfcheon, that is to say, the succession of Hutfcheon M’Donald, quhom of they descendit and sprange. Therefore this man is called Donald M’Donald Gorme, Vic Donald Gurmacke, Vic Donald Gorvaicke, Vic Hutfcheon, quho was sone to Alexander of Ila, Earl of Rosse, and Lord of the Iles, or as the Heighlandmen calls him King of the Iles.

And this Alexander was sone to Donald Earle of Rosse by the marriage of Walter Lesley Earle of Rosse daughter and heir, and this Earle Donald wes the first Earle of memory that of the Clanronald justly brukit Rosse.

And this Donald wes the Stocke, quherfra Clanronald were named last in ther names, quha wes sone to Ihone of Ila, and of the best that came of that sorte, quho had the Stewarte to his wyffe, mother to this Donald forsaid.

This Johne of Ila wes sone to Angus M’Angus, Vic Donald, fra quhome they werr called first, and of the auld Clan Donald.

This Donald wes the sone of Raynald M’Somerle or Somerledi, fra quhome they were for a quhile named and called Clan Somerle.

This Somerle wes the sone of Gillebryde M’Gilleadam, name Vic Sella, Vic Mearshaighe, Vic Swyffine, Vic Malgheussa, Vic Eacime, Vic Gothefred, fra quhome they were called at that time Clan Gothofred, that is, Clan Gotheray in Hybers Leid, and they were very grate men in that tymes zeire, and ay on called Clan Gotherey, quhill Donald Gorme quhom I last made mentione.

This Gotheray wes the sone of Fergus M’Eriche, Vic Cartayne, Vic Ethay, Vic Thola Craisme, Vic Ethay de wiff Leist. Ethodius Vic Frathrequerwy fratherus, Vic Clarpæ Lisse Chuyr, Corbredus, Vic Chrorinweet Alada, Cormacus Vic Airt, Lermeche King of Irland, maist royall in all his actions. Vic Chuyin Chidekakey, Condus lenti bellus King of Irland, a royal prince and lyon like in all his actions of warre, of quhome I make thir the stoke in Irland, for that he is lineally descendit of Gatholus seed.



Sir James Macconeill of Kyntyre is the second House of the Iles, quho is sone of Alexander M’Johne, Vic Anald Agnaldi, Vic Ean Johannis, Vic Donald Ballay, Vic Ean, of quhom they are called to surname Sleight Ean Moire successio Johannis Mgni, quho wes sone to Johne the best Lord of the Iles, as I have said off befor, quho had the Stewarte’s dauchter to his Ladey. Here I impe this Branch to the Tree justly as is afforsaid.



Ihone Moydeor Fyeiche is the sone of Alexander Macallan filius Alani, Vic Rorey Roderici, Vic Ean Iohanis, Vic Roynald Reginaldi, quhom I impe to this good Iohne of Ila his father forsaid. Heir sprouted twa Branches out of the Tree at ance; that is, the Clan Ean-moire, and the Clan Raynald.



Alexander M’Donald Donaldi M’Ean Johannis M’Aloir Alexandri M’Angus M’Ean Achechterwache M’Angus Moire, who wes the Lord of the Iles; and him I impe to the Tree.


Neirest this descendit frae the House of Clan Donald is Alexander Carrath, that is, Shawit Alexander sua that be the countrie’s custome, because Highlandmen callit the fairest hared man Chewit man, and the Chewit the hared, and sua furthe, for this Alexander was the fairest hared man, as they say, of aney that ever was; and this said Alexander was brother to this Donald of the Iles forsaid, and to John Moir, fra quhome James of Kintyre descendit, and brother of the father syde to Raynald, of quhome came to Clanranald.

And this Carrath hes maney come of him, and good succession in Loch aber called Clan Ranald, M’Donald Glasse, Vic Alexander, quhilk bruikes a pairt of Lochaber sinsyne.

Ther wes by thir I have written offe. Iohne Gothofred,and Angus, the quhilke had nae succession.