The History of Raasay, 1630s-1750
According to the written histories of the MacLeods, they had lost the lands of Gairloch by the second decade of the seventeenth century, but they still held the Raasay estate, including the lands in Snizort, Skye. The MacLeods of Lewis had by then, or shortly after, been forced to give up their fight for Lewis, which was held by the MacKenzies of Kintail, who also had the feudal superiority of Raasay. The MacLeans of Dochgarroch, in spite of having a sasine in their favour in 1631, did not have Raasay, although some may have been living on the island. There is every reason to suppose that some members of all three branches of the MacLeods were not only in contact but also working with each other. Some members of the MacLeods of Lewis and of Gairloch were now living either on Raasay or in Trotternish, Skye.
The MacLeods of Raasay had, very successfully, managed to steer a course through a very difficult period in their history and were now about to enter into less turbulent times.
Alasdair MacLeod had become Laird of Raasay in 1617. The date of his marriage to Sibella (or Isabella), a daughter of Roderick MacKenzie of Applecross, is not known.
Probably about the middle of the seventeenth century, Margaret, daughter of Alasdair and Sibella, married Calum, a son of Donald, the Nicolson Chief of Scorrybreac. Scorrybreac is just to the north of Portree. Many journeys would have been made, back and forth across the Sound, in preparation for the marriage. This would have been a time of feasting and celebration for the island. Songs were composed to celebrate the marriage, and in praise of both these houses.
Such songs have been passed down through the generations. Many, of course, have now been lost, but one has been noted down gives a tantalising glimpse of life then.1 It speaks of the 'big wide house' with the 'spacious hall' that Margaret
Figure 3/1. MacLeods of Raasay and Nicolsons of Scorrybreac.