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Mackintoshs of Atholl

The Macintoshes of Atholl are in fact Macdonalds and have no connection with the Mackintoshes of Inverness-shire. Henry, the third and last of the early Celtic Earls of Atholl, before joining the Crusade gave a Charter of Glentilt and Glenfender to Eugenius (Ewen), who is said to have been a brother of Reginald, Lord of the Isles, but was more probably a nephew. The connection of the Earls of Atholl with the Macdonalds of the Isles has been given under the Clan Robertson. Glentilt was a thanage so that the owner had heritable jurisdiction over all his territory. Thane is a Saxon word, and its Gaelic equivalent is Toiseach and both mean ‘‘ Leader.’’ The Thane of Glentilt was therefore known as the Toiseach,’ and his family and followers, when surnames were assumed, became Macintosh. It was fully a generation later that the Lords of the Isles and their people took the surname of Macdonald. Glentilt was held by Macintosh Thanes till 1502, when the Thanage was acquired by the Earl of Atholl from Finlay Toiseach.

There is a rock in the bed of the Tilt on which the Macintosh took his seat when he held his Court, and there is a saying still common in the district as an excuse for a holiday, ’’ it’s not every day the Macintosh holds his Court.’’ The ruins of the old stronghold of the Macintoshes are on the bank of the Tilt about a mile above the Bridge of Tilt, but latterly the residence of the Toiseach was at Tirinie in Glenfender.

One of the Comyn Earls of Atholl, who coveted the thanage of Glentilt, surprised the Toiseach when he was holding a feast, and killed him and all his family except a child, who was in the custody of his foster mother and who was able to escape with him. When he grew to manhood, he revealed himself to his clan and, gathering them together, defeated the Comyns in a battle at Toldamph. The Earl rode of frorn the battle- field making for Braemar by the East side of Ben-y-gloe, but Macintosh, by taking a short cut through the Cromalton Pass, overtook and killed him at Loch Loch, where a cairn marks the spot where Comyn met his fate.

The date is supposed to be about 1270, and nearly 300 years afterwards, when Mary, Queen of Scots, looked on at the deer drive in the Atholl forest, she took her seat within a few yards of this cairn on the ledge of rock that separates the two lakes, where she was in safety should the deer break away. While many families increased their possessions, the Macintoshes do not seem to have had any lands except the thanage, and the Toiseachs of Glentilt, so far as known, have no descendents in the district.

See also the following pages of this site:

Mackintosh Cairn

McIntosh of Braemar