It's hard to find a history of the Clan McFarland.
Partly because the historical recordings of the name McFarland include many spelling variations. This was the result of repeated translations from Gaelic to English (Or Sassanach) and inconsistencies in spelling rules.
Other names for McFarland include McFarlane, McFarlain, McFarlan, McParlan, McParland, McPartland, McPartlin, McPharlane, McPharlin, McPharlan... and many others.
The McFarlands (the official Clan name is actually McFarlane) were first found in Aberdeenshire, where they are descended from an ancient Chief, Allen, son of Farlane, who held a family seat from early times. The MacFarland's first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects..
They settled in Strathdonn in Aberdeenshire in the 9th century.
A simple map of Aberdeenshire
Some pictures of the beautiful countryside at Aberdeenshire
Here's more info from another place:
“The MacFarlane homeland is located in the Highlands at the heads of Loch Long and Loch Lomond. For over five centuries this area, the feudal barony of Arrochar,was held by the chiefs of Clan MacFarlane and before them by their ancestors thebarons of Arrochar. The family is Celtic in the male line and native to their beautiful Highland homeland of tall peaks and deep lochs just above the waist of Scotland.
A Saxon male line ancestry was first proposed for this family in Crawfurd’s Peerage nearly three hundred years ago, but that is incorrect. The best source is the Complete Peerage which follows the Scots Peerage which, in turn, follows Skene’s Celtic Scotland in giving the true Celtic descent of this family. All of these sources base their statements on the old Celtic genealogy of Duncan, eighth Earl of Lennox, who was executed in 1425, and the coming of age poem composed for Alwyn, last Mormaer and first Earl of Lennox in the twelfth century. This Alwyn was the son of Murdac (son of Maldouen son of Murdac) and his wife who was a daughter of Alwyn MacArkil (son of Arkil son of Ecgfrith in Northumbria). When the first earl died his children were still minors so the king warded the earldom to his own brother David, Earl of Huntingdon. By 1199 Alwyn, the second Earl of Lennox, had finally succeeded his father. The second earl may have had as many as ten sons. Among the youngest (maybe seventh) was Gilchrist who obtained a charter to the barony of Arrochar from his eldest brother Maldouen, third Earl of Lennox. Along with Clan Donnachaidh, the MacFarlanes are said to have been the
earliest of the clans to hold their lands by feudal charter. In short, the MacFarlanes are descended from Alwyn, Celtic Earl of Lennox, whose younger son, Gilchrist, received lands at Arrochar on the shores of Loch Long at the end of the 12th century. Gilchrist's son, Malduin, befriended and aided Robert the Bruce during his fight for independence from the English. The MacFarlanes are reported to have fought at Bannockburn in 1314. The clan takes its name from Malduin's son Parlan.
The name, Parlan, has been linked to Partholon, " Spirit of the Sea Waves", in Irish myths and legend. More usually, it is considered the Gaelic equivalent of Bartholomew. Gaelic grammar requires changes within a word to indicate possession. A "P" is softened to a "Ph", and an "i" is added to the last syllable. In this way, " son of Parlan" becomes Mac (son) Pharlain (of Parlan).
The lands of Arrochar were first given (by charter) to Malduin MacGhilchristin approx. 1286. Iain MacPharlain received a charter confirmation to Arrochar in 1420.”
From the now out of print manuscript, History of Clan MacFarlane, written in 1922 by James MacFarlane of Scotland, more of the Clan heritage is described chief by chief. Some of this information was provided in Lola’s manuscript; however, what follows differs in the end.
In the early years of Scottish history the MacFarlane clan’s fortunes were tied to those of the Earls of Lennox, even when the blood relationship ended. When the direct line of heirs to the Earl’s title died out, the MacFarlanes lost their bid to be recognized in that position to John Stewart of Darnley who prevailed at the 9th Earl of Lennox in 1488. Although the MacFarlanes could have lost everything, a marriage union saved the day, lands and charter were returned to the MacFarlane chief and the MacFarlanes went on to support the Earl’s line through thick and thin.
On Henry VIII’s death in 1547, many Scots saw an opportunity to recognize their 5 year old Queen Mary as the legitimate heir to the throne of England as well as Scotland. Duncan, the 13th chief, lost his life at the Battle of Pinkie when the forces of Henry’s son, Edward VI, invaded Scotland and defeated this effort.
In the 1550s Scotland experienced the Reformation led by John Knox. By 1560 the Presbyterian form of Calvinism became the official faith in Scotland and Andrew MacFarlane was one of the first lords to embrace the Reformed religion. By this time, Mary, Queen of Scotland, had married Henry Darnley, the 13th Earl of Lennox. Various histories favorable to Mary picture him as a drunkard with a vile temper who suffered from smallpox. Someone did not like him too much, because he was murdered in a plot that included blowing up the house where he was recovering from his illness. Mary was blamed as being an accomplice by Henry’s advocates and her one-year old child, James, was named ruler instead. As Mary tried to fight for her throne, the MacFarlanes fought at the Battle of Langside in 1568 and are credited with capturing three of the Queen’s standards and driving her forces from the field. Mary fled to England and exile and James VI was given the throne. Andrew, the 14th Chief who led the forces was given the MacFarlane crest and motto by a grateful regent. The crest shows the demisavage with a sheaf of arrows in one hand and the other pointing to the imperial crown with the motto “This I’ll Defend.”
Andrew was Chief from 1547, when he was only three, until 1612. These years were filled with violence and vendettas, feuds and thievery. The most famous story is the feud between the MacFarlanes and the Colquhouns who lived in the lowland area of Luss. Competition seems to have turned murderous with the death of Humphrey MacFarlane at the hands of Sir Humphrey Colquhoun. What ever provoked this is unknown, but it led to a series of cattle-rustling raids in 1590. Then a story emerges of a love affair between the wife of John MacFarlane (heir to the chieftanship) and Sir Humphrey Colquhoun. John, with help from the MacGregors, followed the couple, chased Sir Humphrey to his stronghold, set it on fire, killed him and then mutilated his body. The story continues with his body parts being served on a platter to his unfaithful wife, followed by their divorce. Whether this is a fanciful tale or not, it is still the official excuse for his death.
The raids continued, this time the MacFarlanes were helping the MacGregors against the Culquhouns. It seems the Culquhouns were more knowledgeable of courts and public relations, because their complaints against the MacGregors and MacFarlanes were more kindly favored by authorities. The MacGregors were proscribed and the MacFarlanes were outlawed in 1608.
Coincidentally, James VI, who was now also James I of England, after the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, decided to solve the problem of Ireland by subdividing the Province of Ulster into lots and sending colonists from Scotland and England to live on and work the land. In 1610, the Plantation of Ulster formally began with 59 favored Scots and 81,000 acres. Five of the 59 were nobles-and two of those five were the Duke of Lennox (17th Earl) and his brother. This was the beginning of the MacFarlane presence in Ireland in County Tyrone, “the first settlement of the MacFarlanes of Ulster, from whom so many American members of the clan are descended.” (p. 95)
From there our Texas McFarland branch separates from Scotland and its doings. However, because it is so erroneously believed by American McFarlands that the clan ended by government decree in the 1700s and the last McFarland chief immigrated to America, I will continue the Scottish history a little further.
The son of Andrew, John, became the 15th Chief in 1612. Besides his first wife, a Buchanan, he was married three more times. His second wife was the daughter of Francis, Earl of Bothwell (Lady Helen Stewart.) The feuds and fighting continued and many of the clan were convicted of theft and robbery and removed to other territory in Scotland. If it wasn’t internal fighting with other clans, there was always some cause dealing with England that would give an excuse to raise the battle cry “Loch Sloy.” The English Civil War led to the execution of Charles I in 1649. Many in Scotland were supporters of Charles and the Cavaliers. In 1679, MacFarlanes fought for the Duke of Monmouth, Charles II’s illegitimate son, in his bid for the throne at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. It was, however, unsuccessful.
John was succeeded by his brother Andrew, in 1679. Then followed Andrew’s son, John in 1685 as the 19th Chief. He sided with the takeover of the English throne by William & Mary, Protestants, as opposed to the Catholic James II who was deposed. John was appointed Colonel of a regiment of footsoldiers in 1689 and seems to be the last of the chiefs engaged in war. The 20th Chief was Walter MacFarlane from 1705 till 1767. He was known as a great scholar and antiquarian who devoted his life to collecting, translating, and preserving manuscripts of Scotland’s past. It is certain he did not lead any MacFarlanes into the battles fought in 1715 and 1745 to seat the Stuart pretenders in exile in France on the throne in England. There are conflicting reports as to MacFarlane participation in those fruitless adventures, however, since the MacFarlanes were Presbyterians, it seems unlikely that they would have switched allegiances to the Catholic Jacobites.
Walter died without children in 1767, so the next chief was his brother William MacFarlane. William was the last landed chief. Like his brother, William was a learned man-a physician who practiced in Edinburgh. By numbers, the MacFarlanes still dominated the Arrochar area, but there was now little connection with their absent Chief. England, tired of the Highland clans foolish support of the Jacobites, outlawed some of the beloved traditions, such as wearing the tartan kilts. The power to hold feudal clan courts was also abolished and the Scottish Enlightenment had begun, producing many clever Scots such as philosopher David Hume and economic theorist Adam Smith. As taxes increased to pay for the American war, William, whose lifestyle was luxurious, and his gambling habits expensive, began to sell off his estates. First, his inheritance in Jamaica was sold, and then finally in 1784 the Barony of Arrochar. When William died in 1787, his son John became the first of the landless lords and the 22nd Chief—but of what? After him, the line slowly fades away, because even if there were descendants, they did not carry out the duties of chief and they had lost their connection to the ancient land. The last Chief was William, the 25th Chief from 1830 to 1866. A new era had dawned, making the MacFarlane clan, as a formal institution, a part of the romantic past.
This is information from the official Clan McFarlane website:
The MacFarlane homeland is located in the Highlands of Scotland between Loch Long and Loch Lomond, having the same boundaries as the Parish of Arrochar. For over five centuries this area was held by the Chiefs of Clan MacFarlane and before them by their ancestors, the Celtic Earls of Lennox.
A Saxon male line ancestry was first proposed for this family in Crawford's Peerage in 1716. Walter MacFarlane, the renowned antiquarian, in his Notes on Genealogy (available on microfilm from the National Library of Scotland) also held this belief. On the other hand, William F. Skene, (in The Highlanders of Scotland, Vol. II p 149), provides a Celtic descent of this family. These sources base their statements on the old Celtic genealogy of Duncan, eight Earl of Lennox, who was executed in 1425, and the coming of age poem composed for Alwyn, last Mormaer and first Earl of Lennox in the twelfth century.
This Alwyn was the son of Murdac (son of Maldouen son of Murdac) and his wife who was a daughter of Alwyn MacArkil (son of Arkil son of Ecgfrith in Northumbria). When the first earl died his children were still minors so the king warded the earldom to his own brother David, Earl of Huntingdon. By 1199 Alwyn, the second Earl of Lennox, had finally succeeded his father. The second earl may have had as many as ten sons. Among the youngest (maybe seventh) was Gilchrist who obtained a charter to the barony of Arrochar from his eldest brother Maldouen, third Earl of Lennox. Although the charter is not dated, it bears the seal of King Alexander II (r. 1225 – 1239), and is thought to be from the earlier part of his reign.
Gilchrist's son, Malduin, is said to have befriended and aided Robert the Bruce during his fight for independence from the English. He and his followers are reported to have fought at Bannockburn in 1314. Robert I granted a charter to a Dougal MacFarlane for the lands of Kindowie and Argushouche, etc., but it isn’t known who this Dougal was, or where he was from originally.
The clan takes its name from Malduin's son, Pàrlan. All we know about him is that he lived during the reign of Robert I and David II (r. 1329 – 1371). There is a strong possibility that he, too, fought at Bannockburn for the Bruce, but there is no way to be certain at this time. Nevertheless, his place in this chronicle is of the highest importance, as he provided the surname for his descendants and their followers.
Malcolm Mac Phàrlain, his son, received the first charter for the lands of “Arrochar above Luss” made out to a “Mac Phàrlain” in about 1344 from Donald, the sixth Earl of Lennox
The name, Pàrlan, has been linked to Partholán in Irish myths and legends. Gaelic grammar requires changes within a word to indicate possession. A "P" is softened to a "Ph", and an "i" is added to the last syllable. In this way, "son of Pàrlan" becomes Mac (son) Phàrlain (of Pàrlan).
In many 18th, 19th and 20th century books, it is said that “Pàrlan” or “Partholán” are Gaelic forms of “Bartholomew”. Linguistic studies of Old Gaelic and Old Irish Gaelic have shown this to be an invalid assertion. In fact, both languages use the Latin form, “Bartolomeus” in their early liturgical writings n Latin and in Gaelic-language Bibles. It is far more likely that “Partholán” and “Pàrlan” are remnant names from the pre-Gaelic languages of Ireland and Britain.
When Duncan, the last Celtic Earl of Lennox, his son-in-law, and two of his grandsons were executed by James I in 1425, there were some who considered that the MacFarlanes were the legitimate heirs to the Earldom. However, Iain (John), the 7th Chief, didn’t have enough political power to make the claim stick. The title was given by the Crown to John Stewart, Lord Darnley. Over a period of nearly fifty years, the MacFarlanes sought to oppose the Stewarts, but they proved too powerful. In 1486, John Stewart finally overrode all opposition, becoming the ninth Earl of Lennox. About two years later, Andrew MacFarlane the 10th Chief, married Stewart’s younger daughter, forging a new alliance. Thereafter, the MacFarlanes followed the new earls of Lennox in most of the major conflicts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The 11th Chief and many of his clansmen fell at Flodden in 1513. The MacFarlanes later opposed the English at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547 where Duncan the 13th Chief and his uncle were killed along with many others.
After the murder of Henry Darnley, Mary Queen of Scots' second husband, the MacFarlanes opposed the Queen and were noted for their bravery at the Battle of Langside in 1568. It is reported that the MacFarlane Chief, Andrew, and 300 of his clansmen turned a flank of Mary’s forces, and captured three of their opponents’ standards. The valour of Andrew and his men was rewarded by the Regent, James, Earl of Moray, with the Clan's original crest and motto. The crest and motto alludes to the defense of the Crown and Kingdom. Mary had abdicated previously in favour of her infant son, so she was actually in rebellion against the Crown, Moray, and James VI during these times.
For much of their history, the MacFarlanes were a very turbulent lot. Their rallying cry, "Loch Sloy", signalled many a night raid to "collect" cattle from their richer neighbors to the south and east. Their march-piobaireachd "Thogail nam Bo theid sinn" (To Lift the Cows We Shall Go) gives ample notice of intent. They were so competent that the full moon was known as "MacFarlane's Lantern". In 1592, the Clan was accused of slaying the Colquhoun of Luss and was outlawed. It no sooner got out from under that ban, than it were named in legislation in 1594, as being required to provide surety for good behaviour. Feuds, reiff (cattle raids), murder, fire-raising (arson), and even sorning (taking food and drink without payment) were commonplace accusations against the MacFarlanes and their allies during this period. They had to establish their homes on the islands of Inveruglas and Eilean a' Bhùth (now called Island I Vow). This last was burned out twice during the Cromwellian invasions in the mid-17th century.
John “Môr”, the 17th chief, Andrew, the 18th and his son, John, the 19th, managed to bring a level of prosperity to their people that allowed the latter John to build “Arrochar House” in New Tarbet, now the village of Arrochar on Loch Long.
Walter the 20th chief
Walter MacFarlane of that Ilk and Arrochar, LL.D.
Walter, the 20th Chief, (1705 - 1767) was a renowned scholar and antiquarian. William F. Skene, the 19th Century Scottish scholar wrote of him"
"Walter Macfarlane, of that ilk, who is as celebrated among historians as the indefatigable collector of the ancient records of the country, as his ancestors had been among the other Highland chiefs for their prowess in the field. The most extensive and valuable collections which his industry has been the means of preserving form the best monument to his memory, and as long as the existence of the ancient records of the country, or a knowledge of its ancient history, remain an object of interest to any Scotsman, the name of Macfarlane will be handed down as one of its benefactors. The family itself, however, is now nearly extinct, after having held their original lands for a period of six hundred years."
At present, the Clan Chiefship is dormant. However, the Clan MacFarlane Society, Inc. has been recognized by both the Court of the Lord Lyon and the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs as being the only recognised representative of the clan for these two bodies. The Clan MacFarlane Heritage Trust was founded by the Society to create a Heritage Centre in Scotland for the preservation and presentation of MacFarlane Heritage and the Loch Lomond area.
"After Death Remains Virtue"
Plant Badge: European Cranberry
Slogan: Loch Sloy (Loch Sloidh-The Loch of the Host)
Motto: This I'll Defend
Crest: A demi-savage brandishing in his dexter a broad sword Proper and pointing with his sinister to an Imperial Crown or standing by him on the wreath.
Arms of the Chief: Argent, a saltire engrailed between four roses Gules
Supporters: (on a wavy compartment) Two Highlanders armed with bows and arrows, all proper.
I hope you've enjoyed this study into my ancestry as much as I have... I know I wanna learn more about the McFarlands... and possibly visit Aberdeenshire sometime.
As a final closing statement...or something of that sort... here's a few of the McFarland Tartans:
^Modern day McFarland Tartan
^Ancient Hunting McFarland
^Modern Hunting McFarland