His early life
The third son of Colin, 3rd laird of Glenorchy, Grey Colin was not expected to succeed to the main Glenorchy inheritance, and as such, was expected to make his own way.
Grey Colin was probably born c 1505 rather than 1499 as implied by his portrait in the Black Book of Taymouth which gives his age as 84 when he died in 1583. He was the third son of Colin, 3rd laird of Glenorchy (1513-23), and Margaret, daughter of John Stewart, 1st earl of Atholl, who died on 26 July 1524 a year after her husband. During the lairdship of his grandfather, Sir Duncan, 2nd laird (1480-1513), Grey Colin had been fostered with the Fearnan branch of the MacGregors who were based by Loch Tay a few miles west of Balloch Castle.
Since he was not expected to succeed to the main Glenorchy inheritance, Grey Colin had been given the lands of Crannich, half way along the north shore of Loch Tay and would have been expected to make his own way.
He married Margaret, daughter of Alexander Stewart, bishop of Moray (1532-7) who was the son of the duke of Albany (d. 1485), and grandson of James II, thereby giving Margaret distant royal blood, though as a cleric's daughter she was born out of wedlock.
Margaret was the widow of Patrick Graham of Inchbrakie and had several daughters already. Grey Colin and Margaret had two daughters: Beatrix, who wed John Campbell, 3rd laird of Lawers, in 1559, and Margaret, who married Allan MacDougall of Raray in 1570.
Grey Colin's wife Margaret had died before 1550.
Why 'Grey' Colin?
Colin's portrait in the Black Book of Taymouth shows his white hair and long flowing beard which gained him the Gaelic by-name of Cailean Liath or Grey Colin.
He is also wearing plate armour and leaning upon a great double-handed sword conforming to the classic self-image of the nobility as warrior leaders.