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As printed in "A history of the highlands and of the highland clans, Volume 4"... 1843

With the exception of the Clan Donnachie, the Clan Parian or Pharlan is the only one, the descent of which from the ancient earls of the district where their possessions were situated, may be established by the authority of a charter. It appears indeed that the ancestor of this clan was Gilchrist, the brother of Maldowen or Malduin, the third earl of Lennox. This is proved by a charter of Maldowen, still extant, by which he gives to his brother Gilchrist a grant " de terris de superiori Arrochar de Luss;" and these lands, which continued in possession of the clan until the death of the last chief, have at all times constituted their principal inheritance.

But although the descent of the clan from the Earls of Lennox be thus established, the origin of their ancestors is by no means so easily settled. Of all the native earls of Scotland, those of this district alone have had a foreign origin assigned to them, though, apparently, without any sufficient reason. The first Earl of Lennox who appears on record is Aluin comes de Levenax, who lived in the early part of the thirteenth century ; and there is some reason to believe that from this Aluin the later earls of Lennox were descended. A different opinion has indeed been expressed by some antiquaries, who, on very slender grounds indeed, have supposed that the founder of this noble family was a certain Northumbrian, called Archillus, who had fled into Scotland, in consequence of the success of William the Conqueror. But, independently of the constant tradition that the Earls of Lennox were of native origin, Mr Skene has shown, from a variety of considerations, that this notion is entirely groundless. In fact, several generations intervened between Archillus the Northumbrian and Archill the father of Aluin, who is supposed from charters still extant to have been the first earl of Lennox, having been raised to that dignity by William the Lion. It is no doubt impossible to determine now who this Aluin really was ; but, in the absence of direct authority, we gather from tradition that the heads of the family of Lennox, before being raised to the peerage, were hereditary seneschals of Stratherne, and bailies of the Abthanery of Dull in Athole. Aluin was succeeded by a son of the same name, who is frequently mentioned in the chartularies of Lennox and Paisley, and who died before the year 1225. He was succeeded by his eldest son Maldowen ; and of his other sons, eight in number, only two appear to have left male descendants. One of these, Aulay, founded the family of Fassalane; and another, Gilchrist, having obtained possession of the northern part of Lennox, became the progenitor of the Macfarlanes. Maldowen, the third earl, who died about the year 1270, surrendered to the king Dumbarton castle, which had previously been the chief seat of his family. Of the fourth and fifth carls very little is known. They bore each the name of Malcolm, and the latter was killed at the battle of Halidon-hill, in the year 1333. In his son Donald, the sixth earl, the male branch of the family became extinct. Margaret the daughter of Donald, married Walter de Fassalane, the heir male of the family; but this alliance failed to accomplish the objects intended by it, or, in other words, to preserve the honours and power of the house of Lennox. Their son Duncan, the eighth earl, had no male issue, and his eldest daughter Isabella, having married Sir Murdoch Stuart, the eldest son of the Regent, he and his family became involved in the ruin which overwhelmed the unfortunate house of Albany. At the death of Isabella, in 1460, the earldom was claimed by three families; but that of Stewart of Darnley eventually overcame all opposition, and acquired the title and estates of Lennox. Their accession took place in the year 1488 ; upon which the clans that had been formerly united with the earls of the old stock, separated themselves, and became independent. Of these clans the principal utis that of the Macfarlanes, the descendants, as has already been stated, of Gilchrist, a younger brother of Maldowen, earl of Lennox. In the Lennox charters, several of which he appears to have subscribed as a witness, this Gilchrist is generally designated asfraler comitis, or brother of the earl. His son Duncan also obtained a charter of his lands from the Earl of Lennox, and appears in the Ragman's roll under the title of "Duncan Macgilchrist deSevenaghes." From a grandson of this Duncan, who was called in Gaelic, Parian, or Bartholomew, the clan appears to have taken the surname of Macfarlaue; indeed the connexion of Parian both with Duncan and with Gilchrist is clearly established by a charter granted to Malcolm Macfarlan, the son of Parian, confirming to him the lands of Arrochar and others ; and hence Malcolm may be considered as the real founder of the clan. He was succeeded by his son Duncan, who obtained from the Earl of Lennox a charter of the lands of Arrochar, as ample in its provisions as any that had been granted to his predecessors; and married a daughter of Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, as appears from a charter of confirmation granted in his favour by Duncan, Earl of Lennox. Not long after his death, however, the ancient line of the Earls of Lennox became extinct; and the Macfarlanes having claimed the earldom as heirs male, offered a strenuous opposition to the superior pretensions of the feudal heirs. Their resistance, however, proved alike unsuccessful and disastrous. The family of the chief perished in defence of what they believed to be their just rights; the clan also suffered severely, and of those who survived the struggle, the greater part took refuge in remote parts of the country. Their destruction, indeed, would have been inevitable, but for the opportune support given by a gentleman of the clan to the Darnley family. This was Andrew Macfarlaue, who, having married the daughter of John Stewart, Lord Darnley and Earl of Lennox, to whom his assistance had been of great moment at a time of difficulty, saved the rest of the clan, and recovered the greater part of their hereditary possessions. The fortunate individual in question, however, though the good genius of the race, does not appear to have possessed any other title to the chiefship than what he derived from his position, and the circumstance of his being the only person in a condition to afford them protection ; in fact, the clan refused him the title of chief, which they appear to have considered as incommunicable, except in the right line ; and his son, Sir John Macfarlane, accordingly, contented himself with assuming the secondary or subordinate designation of captain of the clan.

From this time, the Macfarlanes appear to have, on all occasions, supported the earls of Lennox of the Stewart race, and to have also followed their banner in the field. For several generations, however, their history as a clan is almost an entire blank; indeed they appear to have merged into mere retainers of the powerful family, under whose protection they enjoyed undisturbed possession of their hereditary domains. But in the sixteenth century Duncan Macfarlane of Macfarlane appears as a steady supporter of Matthew, Earl of Lennox. At the head of lhree hundred men of his own name, he joined Lennox and Glencairn in 1544, and was present with his followers at the battle of Glasgow Muir, where he shared the defeat of the party he supported. He was also involved in the forfeiture which followed ; but having powerful friends, his property was, through their intercession, restored, and he obtained a remission under the privy seal. The loss of this battle forced Lennox to retire to England ; whence, having married a niece ot Henry VIII., he soon afterwards returned with a considerable force which the English monarch had placed under his command. The chief of Macfarlane durst not venture to join Lennox in person, being probably restrained by the terror of another forfeiture ; but, acting on the usual Scottish policy of that time, he sent his relative Walter Macfarlane of Tarbet, with four hundred men, to reinforce his friend and patron ; and this body, according to Holinshed, did most excellent service, acting at once as light troops and as guides to the main body. Duncan, however, did not always conduct himself with equal caution ; for he is said to have fallen in the fatal battle of Pinkey, in 1547, on which occasion, also, a great number of his clan perished. The High' landers, with all their wild valour, were no match, in any circumstances, for the stern enthusiasts and invincible ironsides commanded by Cromwell ; and, at this battle, their destruction was rendered inevitable by the pragmatic folly and untractable presumption of the preachers, who, superseding the authority of the cautious and experienced general, delivered the Scottish army into the hands of the enemy.

Andrew, the son of Duncan, as bold, active, and adventurous as his sire, engaged in the civil wars of the period, and, what is more remarkable, took a prominent part on the side of the Regent Murray ; thus acting in opposition to almost all the other Highland chiefs who were warmly attached to the cause of the queen. He was present at the battle of Langside with a body of his followers, and there " stood the Regent's part in great stead ;" for in the hottest of the fight, he came up with three hundred of his friends and countrymen, and falling fiercely on the flank of the queen's army, threw them into irretrievable disorder, and thus mainly contributed to decide the fortune of the day. " The clan boast of having taken at this battle three of Queen Mary's standards, which, they say, were preserved for a long time in the family." It would have been well, if they could have " boasted " of similar trophies earned in fighting for a better cause than that of turbulent and grasping nobles, who masked their treasonable ambition and their love of plunder and power under the cloak of a pretended zeal for religion. Be this as it may, however, Macfarlane's reward was not such as afforded any great cause for admiring the munificence of the Regent; but that his vanity at least might be conciliated, Murray bestowed upon him the crest of a demisavage proper, holding in his dexter hand a sheaf of arrows, and pointing with his sinister to an imperial crown, or, with the motto, This I'll defend. Of the son of this chief nothing is known ; but his grandson, Walter Macfarlane, returning to the natural feelings of a Highlander, proved himself as sturdy a champion of the royal party as his grandfather had been an uncompromising opponent and enemy. During Cromwell's time, he was twice besieged in his own house, and his castle of Inveruglas was afterwards burned down by the English. But nothing could shake his fidelity to his party. Though his personal losses in adhering to the royal cause were of a much more substantial kind than his grandfather's reward in opposing it, yet his zeal was not cooled by adversity, nor his ardour abated by the vengeance which it drew down on his head.

Amongst the eminent men who have borne this name may be mentioned the distinguished antiquary, Walter Macfarlane of Macfarlane, who is justly celebrated as the indefatigable collector of the ancient records of his country. " The extensive and valuable collections which his industry has been the means of preserving," says Mr Skene, "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 Scotchman, the name of Macfarlane will be handed down as one of its benefactors." His peaceful labours in thus collecting and preserving the muniments and materials of history will insure him a more enviable, as well as more lasting reputation than any chief of his race ever acquired by his warlike exploits; and when the barbaric splendour of the one has faded away and sunk in the gulf of time, the fame of the antiquary will survive in connexion with the ancient history of his country, and thus serve as another proof that it is not the destroyer but the benefactor of his fellow creatures, who is secure of immortality.

The family of Macfarlane, after having possessed their original lands during a period of about six centuries, is now nearly extinct. Its principal seat was Arrochar, at the head of Lochlong. After the year 1493, the heads bf this family were only the captains of the clan, not being the representatives of the ancient chief, whose descendants in fact cannot now be traced, and probably became extinct not long after the period abovementioned.