Earl of Mar
The title Mormaer or Earl of Mar has been created several times, all in the Peerage of Scotland. Owing to a 19th-century dispute, there are two Earls of Mar as both the first and seventh creations are extant; the first creation of the earldom was the provincial ruler of the province of Mar in north-eastern Scotland. First attested in the year 1014, the "seat" or "caput" became Kildrummy Castle, although other sites like Doune of Invernochty were just as important; the title evolved into a peerage title, was made famous by John Erskine, the 23rd/6th Earl of Mar, an important Jacobite military leader during the 1715 Jacobite rising. Margaret of Mar, 31st Countess of Mar holds the first creation, James Erskine, 14th Earl of Mar and 16th Earl of Kellie holds the seventh; the Earl of Mar and Kellie is the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Erskine. The Earldom of Mar, one of the seven original Scottish earldoms, is thought to be the oldest peerage in Great Britain, Europe; the family seat of Earl of Mar is St Michael's Farm, near Great Witley, of Earl of Mar is Hilton Farm, near Alloa, Clackmannanshire.
The first Mormaer of Mar is regarded as Ruadrí, mentioned in the Book of Deer. Some modern sources give earlier mormaers, i.e. Muirchertach and Gartnait, mentioned in charters of the reigns of king Máel Coluim III and king Alexander I, though in these cases certain identification with a particular province is difficult; the accounts of the Battle of Clontarf in some of the Irish annals name "Domnall son of Eimen son of Cainnech", Mormaer of Mar in Alba", as among those killed in 1014 alongside Brian Boru. The Mormaerdom comprised the larger portion of modern Aberdeenshire, extending from north of the River Don southward to the Mounth hills, its principal seats were Doune of Invernochty. The Mormaerdom may have alternated between two kin-groups, represented by Morggán, by Gille Críst. Gilchrist succeeded Morgund, but was himself succeeded by Donnchadh, son of Morgund. On the other hand, we do not know Gilchrist's parentage, chronologically he could have been an elder brother of Donnchadh. No definite succession of earls appears till the 13th century, from the middle of the 13th century the earls were recognized as among "the seven earls of Scotland".
There was a settlement in around 1230 between Donnchadh and Thomas Durward, grandson of Gilchrist, by which Durward had, it is said, £300 of land, a large amount, scattered around the earldom at Fichlie, near Kildrummy, Lumphanan in the lowland area. He had Urquhart, but that had nothing to do with the earldom. Donnchadh got the title of Mormaer and the wealthier and militarily more useful upland parts of Mar. Earl Thomas died childless in 1374, but the earldom passed via Donnchadh's daughter Margaret to her husband William, Earl of Douglas. While the eleventh holder of the title and Margaret's daughter Isabel Douglas, Countess of Mar, was alone at the Kildrummy Castle, Alexander Stewart entered it and forced her to sign a charter on 12 August 1404 yielding the earldom to him and his heirs, she revoked the charter that year, but on marrying him, she gave him the earldom for life with remainder to her heirs. The King confirmed her last action the next year. In 1426, Stewart resigned the title so that he could be granted a new one by the King, the new title being more "legitimate".
The King did so, but specified that the earldom and associated lands would revert to the Crown upon the death of the Earl. In 1435, the Earl died, Robert, Lord Erskine claimed the title, but the King claimed its lands under the specifications of reversion made in the patent; the issue remained unresolved until 1457, when James II obtained a court order declaring the lands as crown possessions. Thereafter, he bestowed the title on his son John, who died without heirs in 1479, it was next granted to James' other son, Duke of Albany, but the title was declared forfeit because of Alexander's alliances with the English. James III created his son John Earl of Mar in 1486, upon whose death in 1503 the title became extinct again; the title was once again created in 1562, for James, Earl of Moray, son of James V, but he, could not produce a qualified heir. Moray rebelled in 1565 in protest at the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Queen Mary restored the earldom of Mar for John, Lord Erskine, heir to the Lord Erskine, heir of the ancient Earls through a cousin of Isabel, who quarrelled with James II about the Earldom.
His son named John, recovered the Mar estates, alienated by the Crown during the long period that his family had been out of possession. John, the 23rd was attainted for rebellion in 1716, the Earldom remained forfeit for over a century. In 1824, the Earldom was restored by Act of Parliament to John Francis Erskine, the heir of the attainted Earl, in his 83rd year, his grandson, the ninth Earl claimed inheritance the earldom of Kellie and associated titles in 1835. At the death of the 26th Earl of Mar and eleventh Earl of Kellie in 1866, the Earldom of Kellie and the family's estates passed to Walter Erskine, the cousin
Garioch is one of six committee areas in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It has a population of 46,254, which gives it the largest population of Aberdeenshire's six committee areas.'The Rough Howe' from the Scots Gaelic Garbh - rough. The Garioch consists of the district drained by the River Ury and its tributaries the Shevock and the Gadie Burn. Centred on Inverurie, a traditional rural market town whose foundation dates back to the 9th century with the establishment of Christianity at Polnar, "The Kirk of Rocharl" - now St Andrew's Parish Church, Inverurie, "The Auld Kirk of Inverurie", the Garioch has experienced rapid population growth due to its proximity to the city of Aberdeen. Significant growth in population and employment is anticipated in the A96 corridor and in Westhill; the area is agricultural, but is affected by Aberdeen's economy and the oil and gas sector
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart Stewart, was a European royal house of Scotland with Breton origin. They had held the office of High Steward of Scotland since Walter FitzAlan in around 1150; the royal Stewart line was founded by Robert II whose descendants were kings and queens of Scotland from 1371 until the union with England in 1707. Mary, Queen of Scots was brought up in France where she adopted the French spelling of the name Stuart. In 1503, James IV married Margaret Tudor, thus linking the royal houses of England. Elizabeth I of England died without issue in 1603, James IV's great grandson James VI of Scotland succeed the thrones of England and Ireland as James I in the Union of the Crowns; the Stuarts were monarchs of the British Isles and its growing empire until the death of Queen Anne in 1714, except for the period of the Commonwealth between 1649 and 1660. In total, nine Stewart/Stuart monarchs ruled Scotland alone from 1371 until 1603; the last ruler of Scotland alone was James VI, who became the first dual monarch of England and Scotland in 1603.
Two Stuart queens ruled the isles following the Glorious Revolution in 1688: Anne. Both were the Protestant daughters of James VII and II by his first wife Anne Hyde and the great-grandchildren of James VI and I, their father had converted to Catholicism and his new wife gave birth to a son in 1688, brought up a Roman Catholic and preceded his half-sisters. But neither had any children who survived to adulthood, so the crown passed to the House of Hanover on the death of Queen Anne in 1714 under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Security 1704; the name "Stewart" derives from the political position of office similar to a governor, known as a steward. It was adopted as the family surname by Walter Stewart, 3rd High Steward of Scotland, the third member of the family to hold the position. Prior to this, family names were not used, but instead they had patronyms defined through the father; the gallicised spelling was first borne by John Stewart of Darnley after his time in the French wars.
During the 16th century, the French spelling Stuart was adopted by Mary, Queen of Scots, when she was living in France. She sanctioned the change to ensure the correct pronunciation of the Scots version of the name Stewart, because retaining the letter "w" would have made it difficult for French speakers, who followed the Germans in rendering "w" as /v/; the spelling Stuart was used by her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. The ancestral origins of the Stuart family are obscure—their probable ancestry is traced back to Alan FitzFlaad, a Breton who came over to Great Britain not long after the Norman conquest. Alan had been the hereditary steward of the Bishop of Dol in the Duchy of Brittany; the FitzAlan family established themselves as a prominent Anglo-Norman noble house, with some of its members serving as High Sheriff of Shropshire. It was the great-grandson of Alan named Walter FitzAlan who became the first hereditary High Steward of Scotland, while his brother William's family went on to become Earls of Arundel.
When the civil war in the Kingdom of England, known as The Anarchy, broke out between legitimist claimant Matilda, Lady of the English and her cousin who had usurped her, King Stephen, Walter had sided with Matilda. Another supporter of Matilda was her uncle David I of Scotland from the House of Dunkeld. After Matilda was pushed out of England into the County of Anjou failing in her legitimist attempt for the throne, many of her supporters in England fled also, it was that Walter followed David up to the Kingdom of Scotland, where he was granted lands in Renfrewshire and the title for life of Lord High Steward. The next monarch of Scotland, Malcolm IV, made the High Steward title a hereditary arrangement. While High Stewards, the family were based at Dundonald, South Ayrshire between the 12th and 13th centuries; the sixth High Steward of Scotland, Walter Stewart, married Marjorie, daughter of Robert the Bruce, played an important part in the Battle of Bannockburn gaining further favour. Their son Robert was heir to the House of Bruce, the Lordship of Cunningham and the Bruce lands of Bourtreehill.
In 1503, James IV attempted to secure peace with England by marrying King Henry VII's daughter, Margaret Tudor. The birth of their son James V, brought the House of Stewart into the line of descent of the House of Tudor, the English throne. Margaret Tudor married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, their daughter, Margaret Douglas, was the mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. In 1565, Darnley married his half-cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, the daughter of James V. Darnley's father was Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, a member of the Stewart of Darnley branch of the House. Lennox was a descendant of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland descended from James II, being Mary's heir presumptive, thus Darnley was related to Mary on his father's side and because of this connection, Mary's heirs remained part of the House of Stuart. Following John Stewart of Darnley's ennoblement for his part at the Battle of Baugé in 1421 and the grant of lands to him at Aubigny and Concressault, the Darnley Stewarts' surname was gallicised to Stuart.
Both Mary, Queen of Scots, Lord Darnley had strong claims on the E
Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany
Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, a member of the Scottish royal house, served as regent to three different Scottish monarchs. He held the titles of Earl of Menteith, Earl of Fife, Earl of Buchan and Earl of Atholl, in addition to his 1398 creation as Duke of Albany. A ruthless politician, Albany was regarded as having caused the murder of his nephew, the Duke of Rothesay, brother to the future King James I of Scotland. James was held in captivity in England for eighteen years, during which time Albany served as regent in Scotland, king in all but name, he died in 1420 and was succeeded by his son, Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany, who would be executed for treason when James returned to Scotland in 1425 causing the complete ruin of the Albany Stewarts. Robert Stewart was the second son of the future King Robert II of Scotland and of Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan, his parents' marriage was deemed as uncanonical at first, which, in some circle, gave their children and descendants the label of illegitimacy, but the granting of a papal dispensation in 1349 saw their remarriage and their children's legitimisation.
Robert's grandfather was Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland and his father was the first monarch of the House of Stewart. His great-grandfather was legendary victor of the Battle of Bannockburn. Robert Stewart was raised in a large family with many siblings, his older brother John Stewart became Earl of Carrick in 1368, would be crowned King of Scotland under the name Robert III. In 1361 Stewart married Margaret Graham, Countess of Menteith, a wealthy divorcee who took Robert as her fourth husband, his sister-in-law's claim to the Earldoms of Menteith and Fife allowed him to assume those titles, becoming Earl of Menteith and Earl of Fife. In 1362 the couple had a son and heir, Murdoch Stewart, who would in time inherit his father's titles and estates. Stewart was responsible for the construction of Doune Castle, which remains intact today; when Stewart was created Earl of Menteith, he was granted the lands on which Doune Castle now stands. Building may have started any time after this, the castle was at least complete in 1381, when a charter was sealed here.
Scottish politics in the late 14th century was unstable and bloody, much of Albany's career would be spent acquiring territory and titles by violent means. In 1389 his son Murdoch Stewart was appointed Justiciar North of the Forth, father and son would now work together to expand their family interest, bringing them into violent confrontation with other members of the nobility such as Donald McDonald, 2nd Lord of the Isles. During the reign of their infirm father as King Robert II, Robert Stewart and his older brother Lord Carrick functioned as regents of Scotland, kings in all but name, with Albany serving as High Chamberlain of Scotland, he led several military expeditions and raids into the Kingdom of England. In 1389, the Earl of Carrick became incapacitated in an accident and, though he acceded to the throne as King Robert III in 1390, this "sickness of the body" caused control of the kingdom to devolve in 1399 to his son and heir apparent, David Stewart, Duke of Rothesay, who held the first dukedom created in the Scottish Peerage.
Although in 1398 Robert was himself appointed Duke of Albany, bringing him still greater power and wealth, power had begun to shift away from Albany and towards his nephew. However, the English soon invaded Scotland, serious differences emerged between Albany and Rothesay. In 1401, Rothesay was accused of unjustifiably appropriating sums from the customs of the burghs on the east coast and confiscating the revenues of the temporalities of the vacant bishopric of St Andrews. Rothesay had in conjunction with his uncle, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, confronted Albany's influence in central Scotland—as soon his lieutenancy expired in 1402 Albany acted swiftly and ruthlessly. Rothesay was arrested and imprisoned in Albany's Falkland Castle where he died in March 1402. Rothesay's death lay with Albany and Douglas who would have looked upon the possibility of the young prince acceding to the throne with great apprehension. Albany fell under suspicion but he was cleared of all blame by a general council, which found that'by divine providence and not otherwise, it is discerned that he departed from this life.'
However though Albany was exonerated from blame, suspicions of foul play persisted, suspicions which never left Rothesay's younger brother the future James I of Scotland, which would lead to the downfall of the Albany Stewarts. John Debrett, writing in 1805, was in no doubt of Duke Robert's motives and guilt: "This Robert, Duke of Albany, having obtained the entire government from his brother, King Robert, he caused the Duke of Rothesay to be murdered, thinking to bring the Crown into his own family". After Rothesay's death, the King began to fear for his second son James, who fled Scotland for his own safety. Debrett continues: "to avoid the like fate, King Robert resolved to send his younger son James, to France about nine years old, who being sea-sick, forced to land on the English coast...was detained a captive in England eighteen years. At these misfortunes King Robert died of grief in 1406." After the death of his brother King Robert III, Albany ruled Scotland as regent. His young nephew, the future James I of Scotland, would remain in exile and imprisonment in England for 18 years.
Kildrummy Castle is a ruined castle near Kildrummy, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Though ruined, it is one of the most extensive castles dating from the 13th century to survive in eastern Scotland, was the seat of the Earls of Mar, it is owned today by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to the public as a scheduled ancient monument with gardens that are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. The castle was built in the mid-13th century under Gilbert de Moravia, it has been posited that siting of Kildrummy Castle was influenced by the location of the Grampian Mounth trackway crossings the Elsick Mounth and Cryne Corse Mounth. Kildrummy Castle underwent siege numerous times in its history, first in defence of the family of Robert the Bruce in August–September 1306, again in 1335 by David of Strathbogie. On this occasion Christina Bruce held off the attackers until her husband Sir Andrew Murray came to her rescue. In the reign of David II, Walter Maule of Panmure was warden of Kildrummy Castle.
In 1374 the castle's heiress Isobel was seized and married by Alexander Stewart, who laid claim to Kildrummy and the title of Earl of Mar. In 1435 it was taken over by James I, becoming a royal castle until being granted to Lord Elphinstone in 1507; the castle passed from the Clan Elphinstone to the Clan Erskine before being abandoned in 1716 following the failure of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. Kildrummy Castle is "shield-shaped" in plan with a number of independent towers; the flat side of the castle overlooks a steep ravine. The castle had a keep, called the Snow Tower, taller than the other towers, built in the French style, as at Bothwell Castle. Extensive earthworks protected the castle, including the ravine. Most of the castle foundations are now visible, along with most of its lower-storey walls. Archaeological excavations in 1925 uncovered decorative stone evidence of battles; the castle was given into the care of the Ministry of Works in 1951, is now owned by its successor organisation, Historic Environment Scotland.
Kildrummy Castle gardens, in the quarry used to excavate stone for the castle, are both open to the public. A hotel has been built on the old estate. Kildrummy Castle was the venue for the Scottish Sculpture Open, sometimes known as the Kildrummy Open, organised by the Scottish Sculpture Workshop from 1981 to 1997. Historic Environment Scotland: Visitor guide
John Stewart, Earl of Buchan
John Stewart, Earl of Buchan was a Scottish nobleman and soldier who fought alongside Scotland's French allies during the Hundred Years War. In 1419 he was sent to France by his father the Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, with an army of 6,000 men. Stewart led the combined Franco-Scottish army at the Battle of Baugé on 21 March 1421, where he comprehensively defeated the English forces, proving that the English could at last be beaten. However, two years Stewart was defeated and captured by Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury at the Battle of Cravant in 1423. After the battle he was exchanged, after his release in 1424 he was appointed Constable of France making him the effective Commander-in-Chief of the French army. On 17 August 1424 Buchan was killed at the disastrous Battle of Verneuil, along with most of the Scottish troops in France. Stewart was born c.1381, the son of Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany and his second wife Muriella Keith. He succeeded to the Earldom of Buchan after the death of his uncle Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, in 1405.
In 1406 the Duke of Albany became Regent of Scotland, making him the most powerful man in Scotland, king in all but name. His father, Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, was grandfather to Euphemia II, Countess of Ross and persuaded her to resign her rights to his son. Stewart appears as Earl of Ross for a time, until his right was challenged by Domhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles, for his wife, who became known as Mariota, or Mary Leslie, Countess of Ross. Stewart married daughter of Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas, they had Margaret Stewart, who married George Seton, 3rd Lord Seton. In 1419 Stewart's father sent him to France with an army of 6,000 men to fight in the Hundred Years' War, sailing to La Rochelle in a Spanish fleet. At first Stewart's soldiers prove unpopular amongst the French, owing to their fondness for food and drink, but success in battle would make the Scottish army welcome in France. Stewart and Gilbert Motier de La Fayette were commanders of the combined Franco-Scottish army at the battle of Baugé on 21 March 1421, where he won a great victory over the English, the first major setback suffered by the English armies during the Hundred Years War since the reign of Richard II.
Buchan had been appointed by the Dauphin to defend Anjou against the Duke of Clarence, brother of King Henry V. Clarence was among the first to fall, wounded by Sir John Swinton and dispatched by Buchan's battle axe. Baugé was a huge boost to the morale of the Scottish and French, proving that the English were not invincible. On hearing of the Franco-Scottish victory, Pope Martin V remarked that "the Scots are well-known as an antidote to the English." In the early summer of 1423, at the Battle of Cravant, Buchan found himself in command of a mixed force of French and Scots soldiers. Buchan confronted a combined Anglo-Burgundian army at the village of Cravant in Burgundy, at a bridge and ford on the banks of the river Yonne, a left-bank tributary of the Seine, southeast of Auxerre. Buchan's forces outnumbered the Burgundians on the opposite bank more than two to one; the combined English and Burgundian forces, numbering some 4,000 men, were led by Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury. For three hours the forces stared each other down, neither willing to attempt an opposed river crossing.
Salisbury took the initiative and his army began to cross the waist-high river, some 50 metres wide, under a covering hail of arrows from English archers. Meanwhile, another English force under Baron Willoughby de Eresby forced a passage through the Scots across the narrow bridge and divided the Dauphin's army; when the French ranks began to withdraw, the Scots refused to flee and were cut down by the hundreds. Over 3,000 of them fell at the bridgehead or along the riverbanks, over 2,000 prisoners were taken, including the Earl of Buchan and the commander of the Dauphin's forces, the Comte de Vendôme; the Dauphin's forces retreated to the Loire, leaving many prisoners over 6,000 dead. Buchan may well have considered himself lucky to be taken alive. King Henry V of England had re-asserted the English claim of suzerainty over Scotland, therefore executed Scots prisoners of war on the grounds that they were traitors, fighting against their own King. After the battle Buchan was exchanged, after his release in 1424 he was appointed Constable of France making him the effective Commander-in-Chief of the French army.
To recover from the losses sustained at Cravant, fresh troops under the Earl of Douglas were dispatched from Scotland to France. However, despite these welcome reinforcements, disaster would soon overtake Stewart and his Scottish army. On 17 August 1424 Buchan was killed at the Battle of Verneuil, along with most of the Scottish troops in France. Buchan and his generals unwisely chose to face the English army, led by John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford in open battle. Bedford's army attacked aggressively from the south to take the Scots in the rear. Abandoned by their French allies and completely surrounded, the Scots made a ferocious last stand, but were overwhelmed. Verneuil was one of the bloodiest battles of the Hundred Years War, described by the English as a second Agincourt. Altogether some 6000 allied troops were killed, including 4000 Scots; the English lost 1600 men, an unusually high figure for them, far greater than their losses at Agincourt, indicating the ferocity of the fight.
The Earl of Douglas fought on the losing side for the last time, joined in death by Buchan. Stewart's death had important consequences for domestic politics in Scotland, his death fatally weakened the position of his brother Murdoch Stewart, Duk
Donald of Islay, Lord of the Isles
Donald, Lord of the Isles, was the son and successor of John of Islay, Lord of the Isles and chief of Clan Donald. The Lordship of the Isles was based in and around the Scottish west-coast island of Islay, but under Donald's father had come to include many of the other islands off the west coast of Scotland, as well as Morvern, Lochaber and Knapdale on the mainland. Donald was the grandson of King Robert II of Scotland and first cousin of King Robert III. While it is customary to portray the Lords of the Isles as divorced from the mainstream of Scottish political life, as representatives of a brand of lordship distinct from the rest of Scotland, this view obscures the fact that Donald was only one of many magnates who held large lordships with little interference from the crown in late 14th and early 15th century Scotland; the Douglas kindred of southern Scotland and the Albany Stewarts had similar roles as Donald. Donald spent some of his first years as Lord of the Isles suppressing a revolt by his brother John Mór.
John was Donald's younger brother, resented his meagre inheritance. Although he was recognised as heir-apparent, he only received patches of land in Islay; the rebellion started in 1387 and went on into the 1390s, John obtained the support of the MacLean kindred. However and the MacLeans were forced to submit to Donald, by 1395 John Mór had been forced into Ireland. There he entered the service of King Richard II of England and established a MacDonald lordship in Antrim. Suppression of the revolt enabled Donald to turn his attention eastwards. Most of the area to the north and east of the Lordship, Skye, Ross and Urquhart, was under the control of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, famously known as the "Wolf of Badenoch"; the Stewarts had been building up their power in the central Highlands and north of Scotland since the death of John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray in 1346. Alexander had acquired control of the lordship of Badenoch, the earldom of Buchan and the Justiciarship of Scotia, he had been appointed "Lieutenant of the North", giving him the flexibility to exercise total control over most of Scotland north of the mounth.
Alexander was at once the de facto ruler of northern Scotland as well as the means by which the crown itself exercised control. However, there had been complaints over the activities of his caterans. More Alexander's position had become threatening not only to the crown, but to the Euphemia I, Countess of Ross, her son Alexander and the titular Dunbar Earl of Moray. Late in 1388, soon after becoming Guardian of the Kingdom, Robert Stewart, Earl of Fife deprived Alexander of the Justiciarship; the assault of Alexander's position continued into the 1390s. Donald and his brother Alexander of Lochaber were in a perfect position to benefit. In 1394, the latter entered a 17-year agreement with the Earl of Moray, taking over Alexander Stewart's role as "protector" of the wealthy comital and episcopal lands in the Moray lowlands; the MacDonalds were in possession of Urquhart Castle by the end of 1395, had given control of the Duart Castle to Maclean of Duart. The Guardian soon turned his hostility against his family.
Alexander of Lochaber had been using his role as "protector" to further his own lordship, including granting episcopal lands to his military followers. In 1398, Robert Stewart was called upon to take action, but the well-prepared expedition in the end came to nothing. Lochaber continued his activities, in a raid of 1402 burned the burgh of Elgin along with the manses of the canons belonging to Elgin Cathedral. For this he was excommunicated by bishop of Moray. In the year Alexander visited Spynie to seek forgiveness and was thereafter absolved. Donald himself was causing still further concern when in the same year, following the death of Alexander Leslie, Earl of Ross, Donald pressed the claims of Mariota, Alexander Leslie's sister and Donald's wife, to the possession of Ross. Donald attempted to gain control of the earldom. Sometime after 1405 but before 1411, Donald gained control of Dingwall Castle, the chief seat of the earldom. In the year after the death of the nominal king, Robert III, Donald sent emissaries to England, to make contact with the heir of the Scottish throne, the captive James Stewart.
King Henry IV of England sent his own emissaries to Donald in the following year to negotiate an alliance against Albany. With control over the principal seat of the earldom of Ross and support of the exiled heir to the Scottish throne, in 1411 Donald felt strong enough to march against Albany's main northern ally, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar. At the Battle of Harlaw, Donald failed to inflict a decisive victory, withdrew back to the western highlands. In the aftermath, Albany was able to seize control of Easter Ross. In 1415, the heir of Alexander Leslie, Euphemia II, resigned the earldom to Albany. Donald prepared for war and proclaimed himself "Lord of Ross". Although Albany appointed his own son John Stewart to the earldom, Donald's wife continued to regard herself as the rightful Countess. Donald died in 1423 in Islay, he was succeeded by his son Alexander. He married Mary Countess of Ross, they had at least three children: Alexander Macdonald, 10th Earl of Ross who died on 7 May 1449 Angus Macdonald Anna Macdonald who married Duncan Maclagmayn Boardman, The Early Stewart Kings: Robert II and Robert III, 1371–1406, Michael, James I, McNeill, Peter G. B..