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Updated 05/07/2013


MacKenzie Highlanders' March

William, fifth Earl of Seaforth, having engaged in the rebellion of 1715, was afterwards included in the acts of attainder, and forfeited his title and estate. His eldest son, however, became a zealous advocate for the Protestant succession, and supported the government during the rebellion in 1745; his grandson, Kenneth Mackenzie, was permitted to re-purchase the estate from the Crown, and was created an Irish peer, in 1766, by the title of Baron Ardeloe, in the county of Wicklow, and Ariscount Fortrose, in Scotland, and in 1771, he was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Seaforth, which had been long enjoyed by his ancestors.

The American war commenced in 1775, and the Earl of Seaforth, in gratitude for the favors he had received, made an offer to His Majesty, to raise a regiment of foot on his estate, which, in former times, had been able to furnish a thousand men in arms. This offer was accepted in December, 1777; the Earl of Seaforth received a letter of service to raise a regiment of foot, of which he was appointed Lieut.- Colonel Commandant.  The regiment was known as the 78th Highland Regiment or Seaforth’s Highlanders.

The men were principally raised from the clan of “Caber Feidh” as the Mackenzie’s were called from the stag’s horns on the armorial bearings of Seaforth.  Five hundred men were from the Earl of Seaforth’s own estates, and about four hundred from the estates of the Mackenzies of Scatwell, Kilcoy, Applecross, and Redcastle, all of whom had sons or brothers holding commissions in the regiment: the officers from the Lowlands brought upwards of two hundred, of whom seventy-four were English and Irish.

The original Mackenzie regiment had had its number previously reduced to 72nd Regiment of Foot. On 10 February 1794 the government agreed to his proposal to raise a second battalion, the Ross-shire Buffs. The two battalions were amalgamated in 1796. Another battalion was raised in 1804 (letter of service dated 17 April) and these were again amalgamated July 1817.

In 1798 he was appointed Colonel of the Ross-shire Regiment of Militia. In 1808 he was made a Lieutenant-General.

In 1794 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ross and was raised to the peerage of the United Kingdom as Lord Seaforth and Baron Mackenzie of Kintail on 26 October 1797. He was Governor of Barbados from 1800-06, during which period he ended slavery and slave killing on the island, after which he held high office in Demerera and Berbice.