The Murder of Maurice MacRae

KintailMaurice MacRae’s murder was never really solved. Was he killed by just one person or by a few? Was he killed because of the money he was carrying or because someone wanted him and his sheep out of their territory? Or was it just a drunken brawl in a pub that got out of hand?

We will never know because Maurice MacRae died long before forensic science and crime scene analysis, around 1715,

woll on heatherMaurice MacRae or Muireach Fial was a wealthy man by Highland standards and had lend money to the Chisolm of Strathglass who then granted him grazing rights for his sheep in Glen Affric, the home of the Chisolm clan. That suited the Kintail man fine, since the glen was not far.

Every year Maurice MacRae and his wife took their produce (butter and cheese from these sheep) to Inverness to sell it on the market. On his way back to Kintail he met a few of the Strathglass men and they went into the nearby Struy Inn for a drink or two.

Struy Inn

They must have known he had money in his pockets being on his way back. And MacRae would have been in a mood to celebrate his successful business trip.

MacRae’s wife on the other hand was not in the mood to be held up and resumed the journey towards Kintail alone, thinking her husband would soon join her, with the horse he would be much faster than she was on foot.

He never did. And he never came home alive.

Kintail

 

Struy Inn (1)When his horse finally arrived without its rider, the worried wife sent a few men to Strathglass to find her missing husband. They went there, asked around but couldn’t find him until they overheard a conversation in the Struy Inn through the window of the pub, somebody mentioning something white and bloated in the river.

Struy bridge (3)There the search Party went and found Maurice MacRae’s body, entangled in the bushes where the rivers Farrar and Glass meet, stripped of all clothes (and money) and stabbed to death, a terribly bloated corpse in the fast running water.

The hid the body and went to fetch more men from Kintail to take the body home. On that journey, they passed the old graveyard at Cannich, Clachan Comar, where the Strathglass men were just burying one of their men.

Clachan Comar, Cannich

Clachan Comar, Cannich Some say, the MacRaes went in and took the stone, thinking that would start the fight they were looking for. It didn’t and the MacRaes did not start it either. Instead they went on their way home, taking the stone and the body of Maurice MacRae all the way to Kintail.

Others say, the MacRaes had fired a few shots which scared the mourners away. All that was left for them to do was take a stone. And that they did.

Whatever happened, they took the stone and the body of Maurice MacRae to Kintail and Clachan Duich, where they buried him under the same stone that commemorated a man from Strathglass.

 

The murderer(s) escaped scot-free.

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2 thoughts on “The Murder of Maurice MacRae

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  1. Thank you fot the story and more particularly of the photographs. I had visited this graveyard more that once in the 28 years I went stalking in Glen Cannich. I tried to find it on Google Earth and thought I was losing it. Your input has cleared up my mystery!

    1. Thank you for this feedback, I am glad I could be of help. Maybe you get even more ideas from Iain R. Thomson’s book “Isolation Sheperd”, which provides amazing insight into life in the glens.

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