This is an old Highland treaty made upon a very memorable occasion. Maclean, the son of John Gerves, who recovered Col, and conquered Barra, had obtained, it is said, from James the Second, a grant of the lands of Lochiel, forfeited, I suppose, by some offence against the state.
Forfeited estates were not in those days quietly resigned; Maclean, therefore, went with an armed force to seize his new possessions, and, I know not for what reason, took his wife with him. The Camerons rose in defence of their Chief, and a battle was fought at the head of Loch Ness, near the place where Fort Augustus now stands, in which Lochiel obtained the victory, and Maclean, with his followers, was defeated and destroyed.
The lady fell into the hands of the conquerours, and being found pregnant was placed in the custody of Maclonich, one of a tribe or family branched from Cameron, with orders, if she brought a boy, to destroy him, if a girl, to spare her.
Maclonich's wife, who was with child likewise, had a girl about the same time at which lady Maclean brought a boy, and Maclonich with more generosity to his captive, than fidelity to his trust, contrived that the children should be changed.
Maclean being thus preserved from death, in time recovered his original patrimony; and in gratitude to his friend, made his castle a place of refuge to any of the clan that should think himself in danger; and, as a proof of reciprocal confidence, Maclean took upon himself and his posterity the care of educating the heir of Maclonich.
This story, like all other traditions of the Highlands, is variously related, but though some circumstances are uncertain, the principal fact is true. Maclean undoubtedly owed his preservation to Maclonich; for the treaty between the two families has been strictly observed: it did not sink into disuse and oblivion, but continued in its full force while the chieftains retained their power. I have read a demand of protection, made not more than thirty-seven years ago, for one of the Maclonichs, named Ewen Cameron, who had been accessory to the death of Macmartin, and had been banished by Lochiel, his lord, for a certain term; at the expiration of which he returned married from France, but the Macmartins, not satisfied with the punishment, when he attempted to settle, still threatened him with vengeance. He therefore asked, and obtained shelter in the Isle of Col.
The power of protection subsists no longer, but what the law permits is yet continued, and Maclean of Col now educates the heir of Maclonich.