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As printed in "The clans of the Highlands of Scotland: an account of their annals, with delineations of their tartans, and family arms"... 1850Book... Tha clans of the Higlands of Scotland

The origin of the surname of Macfarlane, but for a knowledge of the system of Gaelic nomenclature, would appear almost ridiculous to the majority of ordinary observers. The Mac is a simple matter, but how is Bartholomew to be changed into Farlane ? Certainly, the words look dissimilar to a striking degree; and yet, according to the best authorities, Farlane is nothing else than Bartholomew. Bartholomew came first, it is said, to be altered into Bartholom or Bartolan, whence came in time Parian, Pharlane, and, lastly, Farlane. This sort of progression in the spelling of a name is singular; and still it is the best account that can be procured in the case. Macbartholomew has really turned, in appearance, into Macfarlane, through the peculiar mode of utterance of the Gael. Be this as it may, the immediate origin of the Mncfarlnnu family is scarcely capable of doubt or question. They came from the great Lennox house—one planted originally-in the west of Scotland, and referred by various writers to a? early section of the western or Irish Celts. Be it observed that we allude to the first Lennox house, and not to the various lines of Stewarts, who successively obtained the old estates and honours, but whose latter inheritants have kept not a particle of them up to this day. They have been provided for otherwise, as " the destinies have decreed."The present Duke of Lennox (Richmond in England, and descended from a natural son of Charles II.) is not only the possessor of a noble paternal estate in the south, but is, through his mother, the lord of almost all the splendid properties of the Gordons, the " cocks," as they were long called, "of the North."

The old family name of Lennox or Levenax was merely local, obviously being derived from the district watered by the Leven. From Alwyn, second Earl of the original house, descended the father of the first Macfarlane. If the main line of the chiefs was not Celtic, it seems pretty clear, from all known circumstances, that the Lennox clan, generally, were of the Gael or Celts of Ireland. The first Lord of the Lennox, certainly, has been referred to a different stem. He is mentioned in the reign of King David I.; and several charters yet exist, bearing his name either as a principal or as a witness. It is stated that he was a Saxon noble, driven by William the Conqueror from Northumberland ; that he bore the name of Archillus (aLatinised term); and that he was the founder of the first and true lordly line of Lennox. The supposition is assuredly not incompatible with other known events and practices of the age. We have already pointed out, and may yet have frequent occasion for the repetition of the remark, that the early kings of Scotland were forced to call in the aid of the steel-clad knights of the south against the restless and active Celts of the north and north-west; and that the younger sons of the Norman and Saxon nobility thought the call quite providential, as it were, the lands of the vanquished lying before them in prospective as the ultimate reward. Archillus, then, may really have been a southern baron endowed, as the common story runs, with the Lennox territory by the Lowland monarch whom he aided ; and it scarcely controverts that conclusion, to find some of his immediate posterity called by the Gaelic name of " Macarchill." Settling in the domains of the primitive Gael, he and such as he soon became almost wholly Gaelic themselves, of necessity, by language, name, and in blood. Who was ever more thoroughly Highland, in soul and body, than the last Simon Lord Lovat ? And yet he owned, and claimed descent from a Norman family. There is no disgrace to the Gael involved in the admission that the Lowland monarchy was too strong for them in early days; and that they had again and again to accept the chiefs set over them'by the successful and dominant authority of the general country.

On the whole, however, this question of the origin of the Lennox family (which involves, of course, the Macfarlane descent), must be looked on as doubtful. Archil is even most suspiciously like Argyle; and a Dominus de Archil is wonderfully akin to a Dominus de Argyle. What can one really do in such cases but judge by probabilities ? Here they are so balanced, that a decision is a matter of insuperable difficulty—that is, as regards the origin of the first of the Lords of Lennox. Fain would we give to the present Gael the clearest possible account of the foundation of their houses, but history and tradition are so often at variance in these cases, that much must be left in dubio. The wide-spreading cousinry of Highland families has long been a joke among us ; but, truly, any one attempting to trace their genealogical annals will find it to be no joke in regard of his own labours. IfCclte, the first Lennoxes, it may only be remarked, seem to be traceable to the Irish stock by various circumstances. For instance, they honoured St Patrick particularly, and founded the old Church of Kilpatrick.

Enough, for the present, of generalising. It was the second Earl of Lennox, from whom sprung the first Macfarlane, a fourth son, and designed Gilchrist of Arrochar, a property retained for many generations by the family. He was born about the close of the eleventh century. Though the Macfarlanes wer« male heirs, other descendants of the Lennoxes, and not they, battled stoutly for their presumed rights, when the main line failed in point of direct male offspring. The Haldanes of Gleneagles, a most honourable house among the Scottish gentry, and the Napiers, even gained on appeal some part of the Lennox possessions, as springing from ladies of the line. The Stewart. tl.^.r successful opponents, had a claim only by a younger daughter. The H&ldanes are now represented by the family of Admiral Lord Duncan, who married the heiress of Gleneagles, and whose son has been raised in the peerage to the title of Earl of Camperdown and Gleneagles. A gentleman named Lennox, however, put in a claim, even so late as the end of last century, to the ancient Lennox earldom, but failed to prove his rights. We need scarcely repeat, that the descendant of a natural son of Charles II. is now Duke of Lennox, and takes the family name of Lennox.

It was in 1373, that the Macfarlane of the day was left male representative of the Lennoxes by the death of Donald, sixth Earl, but shared not in the possessions or titles. It is usually held that a great-grandson of Gilchrist, the first who branched off from the Lennox-tree, was the party who gave a name to the clan, being called Bartholomew, and having that appellation ehanged by the Gael finally into Farlane, as already remarked. The clan who assumed the name were never very potent separately, and undoubtedly included many members not of the house by blood; but they were repressed, and partly dispersed, in the fourteenth century, by the strong hand of the Stewarts, when that race became Earls of Lennox. Before a house so favoured, the Macfarlanes could not keep their ground, much less make their claims effectively heard, had they tried to do so. The matter seems to have been so far soldered up by a marriage betwixt some one or other of the female Stewarts and the Laird of Macfarlane ; so that the latter retained his lands of Arrochar in peace. Thenceforward —that is to say, from about the fifteenth century downwards—the chiefs of the clan were strenuous friends of the new Lords of Lennox. On the occasion of the battle of Langside, they fought against Queen Mary, and attained to great distinction in that combat. No historian has failed to mention the peculiar valour displayed then and there, by the chief of the Macfarlanes with hie three or four hundred followers. " In the hottest brunt of the fight (says Hollinshed) he came in with friends and countrymen, and so manfully gave in upon the flank of the queen's people, that he was a great cause of disordering them." It is further said, that the " valiancy" of the chief "stood the Regent's party in great stead." The Regent Murray gave them an addition to their arms for their pains, but we hear of no more substantial reward being granted. The explanation of their being found-fighting against Mary is, that her infant son, whose rights the Regent professed to uphold, was the true heir of the Stewarts of Lennox, to which house they were attached. No doubt, Mary was also a Stewart, but one not so closely connected with the line of Lennox as her own child, the son of Henry Darnley.

The Macfarlane Clan, fixed permanently in the Arrochar possessions, retained them for a lengthened period. The Lairds of the house were numerous, ever so many as twenty-three in succession being reckoned up. The last direct Macfarlane of Macfarlane emigrated, it is usually understood, to North America in the earlier half of the eighteenth century. No doubt, many lineal male descendants of the house still live near to the region of their sires, and still more of them elsewhere ; but when the main stem fails, or loses its power and possessions, a degree of obscurity is uniformly thrown ere long over the true claimants of the chiefship. In Burke's work on the " Landed Gentry," the right to the headship of the Clan Macfarlane is assigned to Henry Lawes Macfarlane of Hunt-town House, in the county of Dublin, Ireland. This branch struck otf from the stock of the Lairds in the time of James VIL, to whom the elder portions of the house adhered, so giving a fatal blow to their own fortunes. Malcolm, first of the line of Huntstown, was too young at the time to become so much involved as his seniors, and was employed in the government service diplomatically by the successors of the last Jumes. He was so successful in life as to be enabled to buy a considerable Irish property, now held by his grandson, the gentleman already named, who was born in 1767.

This branch, as observed, lays claim to the chiefdom of the Clan Macfarlane, and their origin is, we believe, not to be disputed. But whether the American line, certainly the fundamental one, be or be not extinct, may be open to question. There are also cadet-offshoots still holding lands in Scotland, who may imagine their own pretensions to be preferable. Buchanan of Auchmar names various estated gentlemen as residing around Arrochar, which the chiefs still held at the beginning of the eighteenth century ; but his account would only apply very partially in our day. He also tells us, that families who assumed and yet bear the names of Macallan, Macnair, Macerracher, Macwalter, Macwilliam, Macandrew, Macniter, Macinstulker, Parian, Farlane, Kinnieson, and half a dozen others, are pure Macfarlanes ; and to these he also adds certain septs of the Mackinlays, as well as some even of the Smiths and Millers. Certainly, one or two families so named may really have branched off from the Macfarlanes, but it is plain that a successful Gaelic warrior or leader of the name of Allan, Walter, or William, whatever might be his own paternal tribe, frequently and almost habitually had his first name adopted by the posterity to whom he left his acquired possessions. The " Mac" branches created in such a way by such a vast sept as the Macdonalds must have been very numerous, and indeed we know that they were. To ascribe so many to the Macfarlanes, as Auchmar has done, seems unaccordunt with probability, the clan never having been among the larger ones, in point of numbers or influence.

The Macfarlanes of " Clachbuy, Glenfroon, Mackroy, Dummanich (in Ireland), Tullichintaul, Finnart, Gortan, Ballagan, Kirktoun, and Merkinch," are mentioned among the families existing during last century in the shires of Dumbarton, Perth, Stirling, and Argyle; but time must have made many changes in these respects, and new " land-marks," in the old impressive phraseology, must have taken place of the ancient ones.

With Mr Skene's words relative to an eminent scion of the Clan Macfarlane, we may now come to a close. He says, " It is impossible to conclude this sketch of the history of the Macfarlanes without alluding to the eminent antiquary, 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."

The lands of Arrochar, occupied by more than twenty generations of the Macfarlanes, lie on the upper and western shores of Loch Lomond, and at the north-eastern angle of Loch Long. The territory is of small extent.

The Arms of the Macfarlanes have been already alluded to. They at least received an honourable augmentation in consequence of the services of the chief at the battle of Langside. As acting for King James VI., then a minor, he was empowered to carry the following armorial bearings. (The war-cry of the clan, it may first be mentioned, was Lochsloy.)


Argent, a Saltier wared and «intoned with four Roses, gules (being the original bearings of the Lennoxes).

Supporters. Two Highlondracn in their native gai'lw, armed with broad-swords and bows proper.

Crest. A demi-savago, holding a sheaf of arrows in his right hand, and pointing with Ma left to an imperial orown.

Morro. This I'll defend.

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