Dear list members and those concerned with clan wars;
I glanced through my personal emails from the list this afternoon and noted some confusion around the Campbell-Sinclair and castle side. Perhaps a restatement would be helpful.
I am satisfied from most of the clan histories of Scotland that the last clan war was between Campbell of Glenorchy (The Duke of Argyll Line) and the Sinclairs of Caithness. But before everyone starts frowning let me share the rest of the Story.
The Sinclair estate was (prior to any clan war), virtually bankrupt. George borrowed from the Campbells among others to shore up the estates. You must remember because of changing economic conditions many clans were no longer surviving economically. In fact by the end of 1600 the country was 6 years away from the Act of Union and 45 years from the legal abolishment of the clan system. This all said the Campbells came to differences over this amount of debt owed to them and marched to collect it from George. That was quite a hike. There was a battle but if you are thinking along the Braveheart lines you may be mislead. We have a handful on each side not every man available at arms. The Sinclairs plainly lost according to every history. The Campbells claimed Caithness and the Sinclair Estates as security and legal entitlement. They were after the rents naturally.
Having no other recourse George approached the Court of Scotland, I believe it was then the Privy Council equal to the House of Lords at the time. It was the only court that could address the matter and the highest court in the land. It turned out that the force of arms was dimly looked on by the court (quite rightly just as they do today) and the Estate was awarded back to Sinclair. (I have yet to find what happened to the debt.) This completed (it took some 3 years) the old feudal system could revert back to Sinclair again, but here too there was difficulty. The rent system was in disarray, the economy around Scotland collapsing and many clansmen were leaving to seek their fortune elsewhere. This was not limited to the Sinclairs, it occured commonly with many Clan Chiefs actually paying their clansmen to leave to the cities and join the cotton making rush. Others were simply told to leave. For that manner many clan chiefs were not living in Scotland, but in London ready to educate their children at the best schools and live in a civilized manner away from the drafty castles of Scotland.
I wonder how the castle fell into ruins, it was not I believe done primarily by the Campbells but after a slow decline over 200 years of abandonment. There are sketches about 1800 of it and it was not nearly the ruin it is today.
One further irony, there was a new need for jobs and able workers to replace the many families now leaving for the Colonies and Australia. This being the case there was a turn around of the more prosperous estates. Workers, tacksmen, crofters and the tradespersons were sought from the cities and elsewhere. One such individual advertising was indeed, none other than our Duke of Argyll - John of Glenorchy.
And you might guess around 1700 who applied for the jobs of working on the farms near Auchindrain located in Inveraray. But a hardy band of Sinclairs. This was the forerunner of the Sinclair blood line in Argyll for the next 300 years. Oh and don't bad mouth the Campbells, not only were they our employers but they were also our lovers and many Sinclairs came to carry the Campbell blood line as well. Feuds between the Lairds really did not affect the more common folk, either then or now. That is the rest of the story.
Enough history for a Friday afternoon, keep up the reasearch constructive dialogues and have fun;
Yours aye yours
Neil Sinclair Toronto-PEI-Argyll
PS If you missed it, this summary was provided by Karen Matheson who has also studied the topic and popped this from the Tartan site.
"The direct line came to an end with George, 6th Earl who through debt granted the title and estates to Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy. In 1676, after Sir John assumed the title, George Sinclair of Keiss disputed the claim and seized the Caithness estates, only to be defeated in 1680 by the Campbells near Wick. Although the claim was lost by the sword, the Privy Council rendered his claim in 1681 and he became the 7th Earl of Caithness."
Note: The above is almost correct, but legally the grant of the lands was security for moneys, not a grant of title, but more along the lines of what many places consider a mortgage. I do not believe he moved away from the estate and hence the Campbells sought forceable possession. He resisted rather surprised I imagine that the Campbells were enforcing their claim.