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Sir James MacDonald, born 1742, was 8th Baronet of Sleat. His father was Sir Alexander MacDonald, 7th Baronet of Sleat.
During the 1760s Sir James became involved in the dispute regarding ownership of Grianam and its neighbouring islands in the Sound of Harris. These islands either belonged to his estates in North Uist, or those of Clan MacLeod in Harris. In 1763 he sailed in a boat inspecting the boundary or march between the two estates. He tried to resolve the issue without an expensive legal battle, but in 1770, with the dispute becoming violent, he decided to take the matter, which became known as the Grianam Case, to court. Following appeals, Sir James took the matter to the House of Lords in 1781. The resulting decision remained in favour of the MacLeods.