Kilchrist Church

There has been a church in the parish of Tarradale at this site as early as the 13th century when the teind or tithe (a tax for the maintenance of the clergy) was under dispute between the then rector and Beauly. (see Mackenzie’s of Killichrist, below). The Church or chapel was dedicated to ‘Our Lord’ and named Cill Chriosd in Gaelic and subsequently translated to Kilchrist. The church united with Urray around 1574 and is reputed to have been the scene of a massacre in 1603, when the Mackenzie congregation whilst at worship, were locked in and the church set on fore by a party of MacDonalds. There is also no evidence to prove that there was any congregation present at the time of the fire and the Mackenzie of Killichrist line continued well past this date at Suddie.

Kilchrist Church

Attribution: not recorded or unknown

1st Baron of Kintail and the Feud with the Macdonells of Glengary

Like most 16th century feuds they were based on murder, bloodshed and revenge. An appeal from Mackenzie of Kintail and MacDonell of Glengarry was made to the Privy Council in Edinburgh in 1602, however the Mackenzie’s were the only side providing proof of an attack  and Macdonnell was declared an outlaw wih a decree of ransom for the Mackenzie losses and expenses.

Whilst in Edinburgh, the MacDonnell heir continued with raids on mackenzie porperties at Kintail which resulted in the Mackenzie’s defeating the MacDonnel’s at Morar and a siege at Strome Castle, which was subsequently destructed.

MacDonnell relatives continued to raid Mackenzie lands at Kinlichewe, Applecross and Lochcarron in which  MacDonell of Glengarry’s son was killed. MacDonell of Glengarry died the following year in 1603. It was at this point that a cousin, Allan MacRanuil of Lundie (Allan Dubh) attacked the church at  Kilchrist, reputedly killing eveyne inside. The story goes that the MacDonnell piper is said to have marched around the flames, playing a pibroch, soon to be known as “Cillechriost” and has subsequently been adopted as the family tune of the MacDonnells of Glengarry. The Mackenzie’s fought back at the battle of Lon na Fola, on the banks of Loch ness, slaughtering nealry all the MacDonnell raiders. Alal Dubh, leapt to safety and survived.

Mackenzie of Kintail was eventually granted a charter of the lands of Lochalsh in 1607 and  all MacDonnell of Glengarry lands were forfeited to the Mackenzie’s

Mackenzie’s of Killichrist

The Mackenzie’s of Killichrist descend from Kenneth Mackenzie, 8th Baron of Kintail. His fourth son, Kenneth Mackenzie was a Catholic priest at Avoch and resigned his post in favour of the Priory of Beauly in 1518. He later gained a charter of lands of Suddie from King James V in 1526. In turn, his son, Alexander continued to maintain the lands at Suddie as a Charter from King James VI was found dated 1571.
In total there were three know Mackenzie’s of Killichrist during the 16th century until around 1603. The fourth generation became the 1st of Suddie. The lineage is listed below, also note that Kenneth Mackenzie, 1st of Killichrist’s 2nd son became the 1st of Ord:

Kenneth Mackenzie, 8th of Kintail and Agnes Fraser
4th son of above – Kenneth Mackenzie, 1st of Killichrist and Helen Loval
Alexander (Mackenzie) Mackenzie 2nd of Killichrist (abt. 1540 – 1575)
Kenneth (Mackenzie) Mackenzie 3rd of Killichrist (bef. 1575 – bef. 1630) he married Catherine Mackenzie Chisholm in 1606, reputedly at Killichrist.
Alexander (Mackenzie) Mackenzie Ist of Suddie (abt. 1604 – aft. 1672)

The Old Church at Tarradale was re-roofed around 1870 by William C. Joass, an architect in Dingwall. The building then became a mausoleum to the Mackenzie’s or Ord, although it appears to have been the resting place to many of the Mackenzie’s of Ord for several generations before. Some reports suggest it is the mausoleum for the Mackenzie-Gillanders of Highfield, however, the Gillanders chose to be buried at Ullapool and some at St Mary’s, Highfield, although Elizabeth Gillanders, daughter of Thomas Mackenzie of Ord and her husband, Alexander Gillanders rest at Kilchrist. The earliest Mackenzie to be remembered at Killchrist is Thomas Mackenzie (circa 1530 – 1619), 1st of Kinlochluichart and Ord. His 7th great grandson, Captain Alexander Frances Mackenzie chose to be buried on a private plot overlooking Ord house in 1935.

It is difficult, without more advanced research, to ascertain as to where these ministers would have worshipped but the below list is of the ministers who were known to have been in the area pre-1749:


Alexander Pedder was vicar in 1560 and died in 1569.


Alexander Grierson had a short-lived tenure as he also died in 1569.


David Adamson 1569-1579 was ordered by King James VI to become instructor and teacher of the youth in the burgh of Dingwall and to the chaplainries of St Lawrence in Dingwall and Artafallie in Killearnan. Contin, Kilchrist and Fodderty were all in his charge and he died in 1591.


William Ritchie the only date we have is 1579.


John Mackenzie 1593 but was denounced for being 1595. He was still a minister in 1601. He may have been the minister on duty the day of the massacre?


John Malcolm was a minister in 1605 and was sub-chanter of Ross in 1608 and Burgess of Dingwall. He was still a minister in 1635.


John Mackenzie minister from 1636 -1639when he was forced to leave the country during a rebellion and opposition to the Covenanters. He later returned to the Synod of Ross in 1643 and was minister at Suddie in 1644.


Donald Macrae was serving as minister before 1645 and was appointed as chaplain to the regiment raised by the Earl of Seaforth for King Charles I. He was a member of the Assembly in 1651 and transferred to Kintail in 1656.


George Cumming was born around 1627. He was educated at King’s College, Aberdeen before becoming a schoolmaster of Elgin where he formed a Grammar School in 1649, without consulting the Presbytery. He was licensed and ordained in 1655 and appointed as minister to Urray & Kilchrist in 1658. He died in 1703.


John Morison was the son of John Morison, Judge of Lewis. He was licensed by the presbytery of Argyll at Inverary in 1698 and ordained to Glenelg in 1699. He transferred to Boleskine in 1706 and Gairloch in1711 before moving to Urray & Kilchrist in 1716. During his tenure he was met with some religious upheaval from the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians.

Page created on 24 June 2024

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