He succeeded his father Alexander, 3rd lord, in 1449, aged 15, and was almost immediately involved in efforts to defend his huge inheritance—which included not only the Hebrides and western coastline from Lewis to Kintyre, but also the earldom of Ross. MacDonald's rebellion of 1451 put him on the wrong side in the James II–Black Douglas civil wars of the 1450s. In 1462 he made the treaty of Westminster‐Ardtornish with Edward IV of England, an abortive pact which envisaged the tripartite division of Scotland among MacDonald, his cousin Donald Balloch, and the forfeited 9th earl of Douglas. Summoned for treason, MacDonald finally forfeited his earldom of Ross in 1476, and lost his credibility in the Isles at the same time. The forfeiture of the lordship (1493) left John MacDonald a pathetic pensioner of the crown until his death in January 1503.
Subjects: British History.