Clan JACK Society

"criochnaich clod a thoisich thu"

Prophecies of the BRAHAN SEER (Coinneach Odhab, Fiosaiche)
By. Alexander Mackenzie, F.S.A., Scot.


Here are two other Gaelic stanzas having undoubted reference to the Mackenzies of Rosehaugh:--

Bheir Tanaistear Chlann Choinnich
Rocus bàn ás a choille;
’S bheir e ceile bho tigh-ciuil
Le a mhuinntir ’na aghaidh;
’S gum bi’ n Tanaistear mor
Ann an gniomh ’s an ceann-labhairt,
’Nuair bhios am Pap’ anns an Roimh
Air a thilgeadh dheth chathair,

Thall fa chomhar Creag-a-Chodh
Comhnuichidh taillear caol odhar;
’S Seumas gorach mar thighearn,
’S Seumas glic mar fhear tomhais--
A mharcaicheas gun srian
Air loth fhiadhaich a roghainn;
Ach cuiridh mor-chuis gun chiall
’N aite siol nam fiadh siol nan gobhar;
’S tuitidh an t-Eilean-dubh briagha
Fuidh riaghladh iasgairean AĆ­ch.

Literal translation:--

The heir (or chief) of the Mackenzies will take
A white rook out of the wood,
And will take a wife from a music house (dancing saloon),
With his people against him!
And the heir will be great
In deeds and as an orator,
When the Pope in Rome
Will be thrown off his throne.

Over opposite Creag-a-Chow
Will dwell a diminutive lean tailor,
Also Foolish James as the laird,
And Wise James as a measurer. p. 37
Who will ride without a bridle
The wild colt of his choice;
But foolish pride without sense
Will put in the place of the seed of the deer the seed of the goat;
And the beautiful Black Isle will fall
Under the management of the fishermen of Avoch.

We have not learnt that any of the Rosehaugh Mackenzies has yet taken a white rook from the woods; nor have we heard anything suggested as to what this part of the prophecy may refer to. We are, however, credibly informed that one of the late Mackenzies of Rosehaugh had taken his wife from a music saloon in one of our southern cities, and that his people were very much against him for so doing. One of them, Sir George, no doubt was "great in deeds and as an orator," but we fail to discover any connection between the time in which he lived and the time "when the Pope in Rome will be thrown off his throne". We were unable in the first edition to suggest the meaning of the first six lines of the last stanza, but Mr. Maclennan supplies us with the following explanation:--"I have been hearing these lines discussed since I was a boy, and being a native of Rosehaugh, I took a special interest in everything concerning it. The first two lines I was repeatedly informed, referred to a pious man who lived on the estate of Bennetsfield, opposite Craigiehow, when 'Seumas Gorach' (Foolish James referred to in the third line), was proprietor of Rosehaugh. This godly man, who was contemporary with Foolish James, often warned him of his end, and predicted his fate if he did not mend his ways; and as he thus cut his bounds for him, he is supposed to be the ' diminutive lean tailor'. He is still in life. We all knew 'Foolish James'. The fourth line refers to James Maclaren, who lived at Rosehaugh most of the time during which the last two Mackenzies ruled over

p. 38

it, and only died two years ago. He was an odd character, but a very straightforward man; often rebuked 'Foolish James' for the reckless and fearless manner in which he rode about, and set bounds before the 'foolish laird, which he was not allowed to pass. Maclaren was, on that account, believed to be the 'measurer' referred to by the Seer. The fifth and sixth lines are supposed to apply to the wife fancied by Mackenzie in a 'dancing saloon,' who was always considered the 'wild colt,' at whose instigation he rode so recklessly and foolishly." We wish the realizations of our prophet's predictions in this case were a little less fanciful.

Those in the seventh and eighth lines have been most literally fulfilled, for there can be no doubt that "foolish pride without sense" has brought about what the Seer predicted, and secured, for the present at least, the seed of the goat where the seed of the deer used to rule. The deer, and the deer's horns, as is well known, are the armorial bearings of the Mackenzies, while the goat is that of the Fletchers, who now rule in Rosehaugh, on the ruins of its once great and famous "Cabair-feidh",

Part of the beautiful Black Isle has already fallen under the management of the son of a fisherman of Avoch; and who knows but other fishermen from that humble village may yet amass sufficient wealth to buy the whole. The old proprietors, we regret, are rapidly making way with their "foolish pride without sense," for some one to purchase it.

We are informed that the present proprietor of Rosehaugh is the son of an Avoch fisherman--the son of a
Mr. Jack, who followed that honourable avocation in this humble village for many years; afterwards left the place and went to reside in Elgin, where he commenced business as a small general dealer, or "huckster"; that some of the boys--his

p. 39

sons--exhibited a peculiar smartness while in school; that this was noticed by a lady relative of their mother, an aunt, of the name of Fletcher, who encouraged and helped on the education of the boys, and who took one or more of them to her own home, and brought them up; afterwards they found their way south, and ultimately became successful merchants and landed proprietors. * These are facts of which we were entirely ignorant when first writing down the stanzas already given. The verses were sent to us from various quarters, and they have undoubtedly been floating about the country for generations. So much for the Seer's prophetic power in this instance. Were we better acquainted with the history of the other families referred to in the stanzas, it is probable that more light could be thrown upon what they refer to than we are at present able to do.


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James Jack

The Fletcher family, which owned the Rosehaugh estate after the Mackenzies, were significant benefactors to the village of Avoch.

James Jack (later Fletcher)

James Jack was born in Elgin in 1807. It is said his father, William Jack, originated from Avoch, but no records survive to confirm this. Along with his brothers, he attended Elgin Academy and received what the Elgin Courier described at the time as an “excellent education”. Three of the boys, James, John and Charles, showed business acumen, and left Elgin to apply their skills in Liverpool. John and James founded a trading house in Liverpool , and became involved in the importing of alpaca - a wool of long silken fibres.

James’ and John’s wool trade continued to flourish, and there is evidence they traded in llama and vicuna wool too.

Frederica Mary StephenIn 1852, James married Frederica Mary Stephen in London. Frederica was the widow of Lieutenant Alexander Macleod Hay of the 58th regiment who had died in 1849.

Both James and John changed their name to Fletcher in 1855 - their mother having died earlier that same year. A notice in the London Gazette of the time noted that “The Queen has been pleased to give and grant unto James Jack.... Her Royal licence and authority that he....shall henceforth assume the name of Fletcher, instead of that of Jack”.

James died unexpectedly on 1 October 1885. His total estate amounted to more than £1,394,000.

Click here for photos of Rosehaugh today (Sep 2010)