The inhabitants of Jura during the lordship of the McDonalds lived by agri-culture and fishing. The land they cultivated and on which their simple stone homes stood was granted to them by McDonald of Islay in return for their service as stewards of hunting or foresters. On a small island, Fraoch Eilean, located in the sound, the McDonalds had Clag Castle which was also used as a prison. Occasionally, Lord McDonald would boat over from Islay to hunt the red deer which flourished on the moors and the slopes of the Paps. This mutual relationship worked well for both parties and the people of Jura felt secure and contented.
Most of the persons of Jura at this time went by given names. The men's most popular names were Donald, Daniel, Gillour, and Ian; for the women, Catherine, Mary, Christine, and Margaret were the most preferred. Several persons claimed blood relationship to the McDonalds. Others were connected to the McDonalds by marriage or by manrent bonds and pacts. Thus, frequently, when a last name was needed many conveniently used "McDonald". When the common names became so numerous that there was trouble identifying a particular person, then the adoptions of nick-names became practical. On Jura the second name was usually of the descriptive class. For example, Ian, who might have been a forester for the McDonalds, used the name Ian McDonald. Later, because of his blond hair and fair complexion and since there were so many Ians in the neighborhood, he used Ian Buie McDonald or Ian Buie which after a time became John Buie. Historical data indicates that family name Buie originated about 1475-1500 on Jura and was initially used more or less informally for a few generations.
It is not known if the Buies of Jura were actual blood descendents of the mighty Somerled. A progenitor of the Buie family has not been identified in the genealogy of the branches of Clan Donald. The name was not uncommon among the McDonald chiefs, however. Sorley Buidhe, brother of James McDonald of Dunnyveg, fought to retain the lands of his family Clan Ian Mor. The defense of these properties, some located in Antrim, cost Sorley his life in 1565. Old sallow Alexander McDonald, also known as Alasdair Buidhe, was the McDonald chief at Keppoch. Alexander ruthlessly murdered his own two nephews in 1663 to solidify his position as chief, but, alas, the deceased nephew's revengeful friends succeeded in beheading the old man after a fiery attack upon his castle. Allan Og, 14th Chief of Clan Ranald, brought home a Moorish servant from the Spanish wars, and local tradition in South Uist states that this secretary was the progenitor of the Bowie families in this sector. One scholar believes that the McDonald Bowies or Buies were descended from Hector Buidhe McDonald, the ancestor of the McEachen and McGeachey septs, and that the Buies were a branch of this family. About 1700 a certain Walter Bowie was sent to Holland as a minister to the Scots and was patronymically described as a "son of Mr. James Bowie, the third son of Mr. James McDonald of Slate, in the isle of Skye." The name in Skye has now disappeared. Some of the older Buies on Colonsay contended that the Jura branch was more closely related to the McDonalds of Keppoch, but this assertion is not proven.
One family legend relates that after the massacre of the Glencoe McDonald in 1692, a baby boy was found by a shepherd or deerherd, who hid him from the Campbell marauders, and crossed by row boat to Jura. The man reared the child who had flaming yellow hair and was known as "Gillie Buie". They lived in a cave and when the man was out tending the deer, a dog would protect the baby. The boy grew to manhood and his home was at Beinn an oir which means "Hill of Gold", hence his son was called "Mac Gille Buidhe na fhaidh o'sliabh Beinn an oir" or "son of the yellow haired lad of the deer from the side of the Hill of Gold".
Most evidence, however, supports that the Buies of Jura were descended from the native people of the island and not immigrants from elsewhere in Scotland. Other original families of Jura were Darrochs, Shaws, Blacks, Clarks, and McCraines who would share a common history with the Buies and intermarry with them for many generations.
The earliest Buies of Jura owned lands mainly at Largiebreac and also period-ically at Sannaig, Knockbreac, Knockchrome, and Damhskir. The ancient Buies were buried at Kilearnadil. Their plots are covered by three recumbent stone slabs dating from the 12th Century that were probably transported from Kintyre. The slabs bear no inscriptions but are decorated with incised Celtic scroll designs around a central sword; also, one contains a motif of a pair of scissors and another a pair of shears. The Buies must have appropriated these slabs and used them for many years, even to the present time.
Since they were closely allied with the McDonalds, the Buies adopted the great clan's tartan. The badge was heather. According to Burke's General Armory, the coat of arms resembled closely that of Lord McDonald and bore the symbols of an attacking red lion, a held cross, a galley, and a fish. Some have thought the Buies used the coat of arms of McDonald of Keppoch, but the former seems more accurate. The motto was "Coelestia Sequor" or "O Follow Heavenly Things".
Soon, the Buie family of Jura was well established and stood ready to defend their lands and help their McDonald benefactors. They would get their chance, for historical events would soon throw the islands into an era of bloody chaos, pitting clan against clan and dissolving all semblance of peaceful existence.
The Lords of the Isles eventually fell into the disfavor of the Scottish monarchs mainly because of their quest for additional lands and their alarming growth in power. In 1493, the lordship was dissolved by the King and the branches of the McDonalds were declared independent. As another result, the McLeans acquired North Jura above Tarbert. The McDonalds, nevertheless, held on to the more populated South Jura which was administered by McDonald of Islay. Still, King James, IV aided by the Campbells of Argyll, united to exploit the waning McDonalds and attempted to control Jura from the mainland. The McDonald's power over their constituents lessened and the individual branches exerted themselves more independently in their various localities.
Although not initially affected by these events, the Buie families soon became involved when, in 1506, the McIans were granted lands in Jura by King James IV. These properties included some held by the Buies. Even though both groups were branches of the McDonalds, their men met in combat near the sea at Sannaig. History does not record the victor, but after the battle the bodies of the slain were buried together where they fell near the burial mounds at Cladh Chlann Vic Ian. The feud between the Buies and McIans continued for several years.
There were some attempts to re-establish the old Lordship. Donald Dubh a
legal heir, made an attempt in 1539 and 1543, but was defeated. The leadership of the McDonalds fell to James of Dunnyveg and the Glens who in 1545 received a charter from Mary Queen of Scots granting him the lands in South Jura. About this time, an agent for King James VI described the island as: "The half part thereof pertains to the McLeans and the other half to the Clan Donald...part of this isle is excellent land and very fertile for crops; but it is for the most part wilderness and woods wherein there are many deer and other wild beasts...there is better hunting on this isle than any of the rest"